Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Family life, fair love and political arguments for marriage

The Southern chapter of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy met yesterday and heard from Edmund Adamus and Peter Williams

Edmund had a wealth of resources to support marriage and the family. His presentation contained many gems - I was reminded of some things that I have posted here but also alerted to others. There was a quote from Brock Chisolm, the Director of the World Health Organisation in 1946, describing parents as dictators and oppressors, Harriet Harman et al on "The Family Way", quotes from Barry Sheerman at the time of the SORs about not being serious about the faith, and a reference to St Gregory who told Augustine to preach about marriage and its benefits to overcome lawlessness in his missionary territory of England.

There was an interesting reference to Mit Brennender Sorge (n.39) with its special greetings for Catholic parents:
[...] we shall never cease frankly to represent to the responsible authorities the iniquity of the pressure brought to bear on you and the duty of respecting the freedom of education. Yet do not forget this: none can free you from the responsibility God has placed on you over your children. None of your oppressors, who pretend to relieve you of your duties can answer for you to the eternal Judge, when he will ask: "Where are those I confided to you?" May every one of you be able to answer: "Of them whom thou hast given me, I have not lost any one" (John xviii. 9)
Edmund also emphasised the "Elephant in the Room" which is pornography, especially addiction to internet pornography which makes the promotion of "fair love" particularly urgent.

After lunch, Peter Williams spoke to us on the political question of redefining marriage. Arguing with secularists and politicians, it is important to focus on the social damage that is done by redefining marriage.

Peter emphasised the point that Marriage is a social good and is therefore also a social act which involves the community and provides conditions in which children can best be brought up. For example, research from the Centre for Social Justice shows that children of married parents are less likely to engage in anti-social behaviour. One good point, following from Pope Benedict is that marriage is a fundamental part of our "social ecology" which is something that needs to be protected even more importantly than our physical ecology.

He encouraged us to point out that there is no discrimination involved in opposition to the redefinition of marriage: it is still true that anyone can get married, but there is simply no such thing as same-sex "marriage." It is not "banned" and cannot be "legalised."

It was good to meet the priests who came to this excellent day, and to enjoy the hospitality of Fr Alexander Sherbrooke and the young adults from the School of Evangelisation who made us so welcome. For the end of the day, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction provided a peaceful oasis in the heart of London in the beautifully restored Church of St Patrick.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Meeting with the brothers

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On a glorious English late spring day I travelled down on the train yesterday from Waterloo to Brockenhurst and then onward to St Dominic's Priory in the New Forest to speak to the Western Chapter of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, organised by Fr Tom Dubois. My talk was an amalgamation of two previous talks that I have given on the renewal of the spiritual life of the priest as a result of the reforms of the Council of Trent, and the relevance of that reform to us as priests today.

It was great to catch up with Mgr Edwin Barnes, one time "flying bishop" in the Church of England and now one of the senior members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The hospitality of the Dominican sisters was friendly and welcoming, and I did like their chapel with its wooden beam structure and genuine noble simplicity. They kindly gave me a copy of "Anchor", a short catechetical course for adults, aimed particularly at parents whose children are preparing for the sacraments, though it would be suitable for other adults who have had limited catechesis.

Off today up to Soho Square for the London Chapter meeting.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Archbishop Lefevbre and hermeneutics

As a young student in Rome, coping with continental philosophy after the ruthlessly positivistic atmosphere of Oxford, talk of "heremeutics" used to bore me witless. In today's intellectual climate in the Church, however, the matter is of crucial importance. The interpretation of the texts of Vatican II is an essential question for the reform and renewal of the Church in continuity with its tradition. In the case of the canonical recognition of the Society of St Pius X, there is also the question of the interpretation of the writings of Archbishop Lefevbre.

An important article on the SSPX website looks at attempts to use speeches of Archbishop Lefevbre to oppose the current negotiations with the Holy See in which Bishop Fellay has been a prudent and reserved, but determined advocate. (See Interpreting the words of Archbishop Lefebvre. A few sensible rules. Part 1 of 2) Some sedevacantists have tried to use Archbishop Lefevbre's texts in order to oppose this negotiation. In the article, Fr Cellier says:
In doing so they seek to prevent Bishop Fellay, the present Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, from using his legitimate freedom of evaluation and of action, by creating an artificial and misleading opposition between the directives and choices of Bishop Fellay today and those which, according to their hypothetical reconstruction, Archbishop Lefebvre would have made if he had still been alive.
Later, Fr. Celier points out
The authentic interpreters of Archbishop Lefebvre’s thought are certainly not the sedevacantists, since the founder of Econe constantly condemned their false positions as being ruinous to the Church, and he systematically removed and excluded defenders of those positions from the Society of St. Pius X.
It is quite reasonable for Fr Cellier to observe that Archbishop Lefevbre, whilst being a scholarly man in his own right (with two doctorates) was primarily a man of action, rather than an armchair “intellectual” and that hence:
some events that moved him, like the gathering in Assisi in 1986, could momentarily make him use words that were harsher than usual.
There is a battle currently going on within the SSPX over the possibility of canonical recognition and the acceptance of such recognition. Sadly, some of the divisions seem to be deeply rooted but we cannot at this stage guess with any accuracy how things will turn out. Once again, the plea of the superiors of the society for ardent prayer, especially to Our Blessed Lady, is not mere pietistic exhortation but a real call to seek in Our Blessed Mother the true path for the reform of the Church in continuity with her tradition, a path sought by the SSPX in fidelity to the concern of its founder, and by many of us who watch the current developments with hope.

Scholae at Lublin

The schola in the picture on my post about High Mass in Lublin (right) is directed by Father Piotr Paćkowski and its members are students of musicology from Catholic University of Lublin. This choir is the "guest" schola that sings at the Church of the Immaculate Conception three or four time a year for the traditional Mass - their help is much appreciated.

Father Piotr is very supportive of the traditional Mass and his involvement in the traditional liturgy at Lublin is important for the people who are attached to it. The above picture was taken during Vespers in the usus antiqior at the Immaculate Conception Church on the feast of St. Stanislaus bishop and martyr.

The regular schola Vox Iucunda sings once or twice a month (and excellent organists also assist.) Vox Iucunda is led by Agnieszka Mycka: the members are enthusiasts, mostly students, who regularly attend the traditional Mass at the Immaculate Conception.

Below is an embed of a rough, unedited recording from the schola carrying out their normal service at the Mass for the first Sunday of Advent 9part of the Introit.)

Reporting on events in Poland, I have some sympathy with local journalists who struggle to get details right. I now have a resolution to carry a notebook around to get names and fact correct. One mistake I made was to say that the 18 year old, and highly competent, MC for the High Mass, Michał Mycka, studied a copy of Fortescue in Polish. In fact, it has not been translated into Polish. He studied the English version. I wonder how many English MCs would cope if they had to study the rubrics in Polish!

Friday, 25 May 2012

The times they are a chay-an-gin

Honestly, I was open-mouthed with astonishment at this video. Not because it says anything that I have not heard before, but because it is distributed by the Catholic News Service, which is, in is own words an "editorially independent and a financially self-sustaining division of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops." H/T Fr Z

Things are changing rapidly. Only weeks ago, such a positive treatment would have been seen as at best the preserve of a maverick and at worst a cause to dismiss a student from priestly formation. Now, with the imminent decision of the Holy Father, it seems that at least the Americans have woken up and smelt the coffee. (I suppose that they generally do have better coffee than us in England. Except the horrible Starbucks stuff which I am only too happy to dump.)

For some time I have thought of making up some new words to one of Bob Dylan's celebrated songs. I haven't got round to doing this, so I mention the idea in a collaborative spirit in case someone has time to work up something.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.
Well, I did grow up in the sixties ;-)

On using the pulpit

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The second Vatican Council (SC 65-66) gave prominence to the homily as a part of Mass, especially on Sundays and feast days. In many Churches in Europe, there is a magnificent pulpit which is obviously designed to bring the preacher closer to the people (they are usually somewhere down the nave, away from the sanctuary) and give a certain dignity to the homily as something more than a chat.

It was good to see the pulpit in the Church of the Immaculate Conception used by Fr Maciej Zachara. You can see the doors through which he accessed the pulpit, via some stairs inside the sacristy.

By contrast, the Cathedral in Lublin has a strange arrangement. As part of the recent renovations, the pulpit has been restored. Unfortunately there is no way of getting into it. Perhaps the priest could climb up a ladder discreetly before Mass and then abseil down after he has finished preaching?

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I remember in England after Vatican II, pulpits in many Churches being demolished or converted into odd shaped lecterns, usually on the sanctuary. Along with the common custom of literally placing the priest on a pedestal (in the presidential chair), these developments do seem to have distanced the priest from the people. I can't see that they have really enhanced that respect, so much desired by Vatican II, which should be shown for preaching the word of God.

I'm not convinced by the claim that the homily is part of the Liturgy - it necessarily requires the preacher to compose something himself, rather than to follow a ritual that is prescribed by the Church - but preaching at Mass (or at other public services of worship) would surely benefit from a clearer sense that it is not just an opportunity for the priest to give a good speech, but a demand upon him to offer doctinal, moral and spiritual nourishment to the faithful in fidelity to the magisterium of the Church.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

What God has separated, let no man join together

This is your chance to have your say against the metrosexual elite's engineering of society.

There is little real support for the legalisation of gay marriage and plenty of determined opposition. 529,685 people have signed the Coalition for Marriage Petition at the time of writing. (Do sign now if you haven't yet done so.) The Government has undertaken a consultation and it is important that the voice of reason is heard in response to it.

There is plenty of good information and guidance about the consultation: I recommend two sources in particular: the SPUC Briefing and Christian Concern which both give sound advice.

Here is a link to fill in the consultation online. It doesn't take very long. The deadline is 14 June but I am nagging you now so that you do not have your conscience nagging later because you didn't get round to it.

(The graphics on this post are from contenidosemf, set up by the Spanish Bishops for the 5th World Meeting of Families with Pope Benedict in Valencia in 2006.)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hans Küng joins sedevacantists

In the midst of worry and concern regarding the canonical status of the SSPX, a light-hearted moment is provided by today's post on Rorate Caeli. Hans Küng has complained that the Pope is to include in the Church invalidly ordained bishops (he means those of the SSPX.) Küng cites the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Pontificalis Romani recognitio in which Pope Paul VI laid down the matter and form of the sacrament of Holy Orders according to the postconciliar rite.

In fact, the matter was not changed, and the form, in the case of the ordination of a deacon or priest, was left untouched. The form for ordination of a bishop was based on the Apostolic Tradition. The Constitution refers to this as "of Hippolytus the Roman" and dates it to the beginning of the third century. Both of these assertions have recently been challenged. In case anyone has scruples, the newer form is certainly valid: there have been and still are different rites of consecration or ordination of a Bishop and there is no reason to doubt the validity of the newer form of the Roman rite.

I think we can also regard it as certain that Pope Paul VI did not intend to declare ordinations subsequently carried out according to the older form to be henceforth invalid. Küng's charge that they are, is simply one of the more absurd consequences of the hermeneutic of rupture.

But the fun is only just beginning with this claim. He veers away from the allegation of invalidity of orders to make the further claim that if Pope Benedict accepts the SSPX bishops into the Church, he will be committing an act of schism. Let us not be distracted by Küng's implied assertion that the SSPX bishops are not already part of the Church. (We can all safely accept that they simply lack regular jurisdiction and canonical status.) Küng's target is not the SSPX but the Holy Father.

Not only does he warn the Holy Father that he will become a schismatic, he spells out the consequence of this: "A schismatic pope loses his position according to that same teaching of the constitution of the Church."

Thus the great liberal Hans Küng joins the ranks of the sedevacantists. You may well doubt whether he would agree to the theory of some, that Cardinal Siri was really elected Pope and not Cardinal Roncalli, but you could be tempted to speculate whether a homely Bierkeller in Tübingen might be the place to add to the list of the Popes at large. (Perhaps Martin VI in honour of another German who could tell everybody what was wrong with the Pope.)

Fun as such speculation might be, I think it would be mistaken. I happen to know, from an unimpeachable source inside the Vatican, leaked to an Italian journalist and thence to my late Auntie Eileen, that Hans Küng was indeed invited to become Pope when the conclave of 1978 became deadlocked. When telephoned with an offer of the post, he declined, saying "No. I would prefer to remain infallible."

Praying for the SSPX to enrich the Church

Last Wednesday in the main foyer of the Catholic University of Lublin, someone handed me a printout of the Vatican communiqué regarding the response of the SSPX to the doctrinal preamble. This was illustrative of the fast-moving nature of the story at the moment. Thanks to Rorate Caeli I was able to keep up with the developments via the iPad and a booster for 3G internet access in Poland.

Plenty of others have commented on the leaked letters, the possibility of a split, the re-publication of some of the more trenchant addresses of Archbishop Lefevbre, the likely resolution of the matter, and the essential role of Pope Benedict in the possible regularisation of the SSPX by means of a canonical structure. I accept the advice of several wise statements from those in authority within the SSPX that we should now pray hard. I pray for a good outcome that is pleasing to Almighty God and works for the good of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ on the rock which is Peter.

The outstanding document of the past couple of weeks is the Letter of the General Council of the SSPX which, I am sure, will go down in history as a prudent, charitable and balanced call to "work in the field" according to the will of Divine Providence.

This evening I had time to sit and watch the video made by the Catholic News Service of an interview with Bishop Fellay. First of all it is extraordinary that a mainstream Catholic new service would produce such a sympathetic piece. This is in itself a sign of the times. Secondly it gives us a chance to see something of the character of Bishop Fellay. I have to say that he comes across as a man of great warmth of character who could lead many in the renewal of the Church.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

High Mass in Lublin

Last Thursday I was celebrant for High Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Lublin. Here is a view of the outside of the Church:

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The digital camera has been flattering: the Church did look a little dilapidated from the outside. Its renovation is one of many projects still remaining after the communist era. However, inside the Church, the visitor is greeted with this:

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As with many Churches in Poland, the furniture has been superbly restored and enhanced with gold leaf.

The High Mass was for the feast of the Ascension. I was assisted by two sacred ministers from the seminary of Lublin, both still students. The deacon was Rev Michał Strudzinski, and the subdeacon Kamil Mielniczuk. The MC for Mass was Michał Mycka who is 18 and about to go to university in Warsaw. He has closely studied a copy of Fortescue (bear in mind that he is Polish and he read it in English. The ceremonies went very smoothly. Deacon and subdeacon needed little prompting and it is always a joy to experience the unity of the Roman liturgy in the usus antiquior. I speak virtually no Polish but from the point of view of the ritual of the Mass, I could have been at home in Blackfen.

Here are some photos from the Mass,

And here is a photo of the excellent schola which sang the Gregorian chant flawlessly. It was primarily according to the conventions of Solesmes, though I think I heard a touch of the "ancient music" style at one point. The schola sing regularly for the old rite Masses in Lublin but I think that one or two students from the university joined them for this occasion.

You can find more photos on the gallery page of the Introibo website (Click on the menu item "Wniebowstapienie, 17 V 2012"). Thanks to Mr Gregory for taking them.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Sitting at the desk of Blessed John Paul

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The Catholic University of Lublin was the only Catholic university in the Soviet empire. It continues to flourish, mainly in the humanities, because the communists restricted its activities and founded their own university in Lublin to teach the sciences, in order to give the impression that the communists were more concerned with the "real world." Both universities have now diversified to some degree, but retain their particular emphasis.

The main aula in the university honours Our Lady of Czestochowa and Cardinal Wyszyński. As bishop, he was imprisoned for three years because he spoke against the communist attempts to dictate the appointment of bishops. His sermon is known by his powerful statement "Non possumus."

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Blessed John Paul is greatly honoured in Poland - every Church, sacristy, presbytery and hall has a picture of him. One precious memory is that of the day that Cardinal Wyszyński made his obedience to his protege.

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A highlight of my guided tour of the university was to visit the lecture room in which Blessed John Paul taught. The desk at which he lectured has been preserved, and I got the chance to sit at it.

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Greetings again to the students whom I met. Someone took a photo - I'll post it when I receive it.

The inspiration of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko

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The shrine of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko in Warsaw is still guarded constantly by volunteers. When he was alive and preaching, young men would keep watch at the house where Blessed Jerzy lived, because of the ominous threat of the secret police. My host in Lublin, also Jerzy (=George) was one of them.

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Here is the chapel where Blessed Jerzy preached the sermons that so infuriated the communists that they beat him to death, tied him up, put his body in the boot of their car and then dumped it in the river Vistula.

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This monument is also outside the Church, commemorating the suffering of Poles in the various concentration camps set up by the Germans during the second world war.

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And here is Piotr, my host for the Warsaw leg of my trip to Poland, in the museum dedicated to Blessed Jerzy. It is well worth a visit if you are in Warsaw. The banners are those of the Solidarity movement.

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I was interested to see in the museum that Blessed Jerzy was also an outspoken pro-life campaigner who stood up for the sanctity of human life, opposed abortion, and promoted the family.

That morning, I celebrated Mass at the retreat centre where I was staying. The priest who founded the work was imprisoned for three years during the Stalin era, having fallen foul of the authorities. It is quite moving to realise that so many Poles alive today were involved in protests and opposition to the communist government. Some years ago I was amused by the reaction of the Poles to the daily news as filtered on the main TV channel broadcast of 30 minutes each evening. Everyone decided to go out for a walk at exactly the time it was broadcast. Piotr was involved in this and fell foul of the police as a result, being kept in the cells for a time.

I have put up some more photos at my flickr page. There are plenty more to follow over the next few days.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Getting to know modern Poland

My visit to the Catholic University at Lublin was most enjoyable. My hosts have translated my presentation into Polish so the students could have a summary to hand. They could all understand English to some level so there was not a need for much to-and-fro translating.

I stuck at first to the theme that I have been given for the main talk (to seminarians) which is that of secularisation and the new evangelisation. This is interesting enough because Poland is undergoing its own dive into secularism and this is having an effect on the Church. However the lay students today were also keen to hear more about traditional Liturgy. In fact some of them are coming to High Mass tomorrow.

The Catholic University of Lublin was the only Catholic university in the whole of the soviet bloc and was an important part of Blessed John Paul's life. I visited the lecture room in which he taught. They have kept the desk and my hosts took a photo of me sitting at it! Many thanks to Michael for showing me round the university and for giving me a sense of the love that the students have for it as a place of Catholic student life.

This is just a brief update before supper but I have much to report on. I was very moved by my visit to the tomb of Blessed Jerzy Popielusko and even more by the lovingly preserved and, in some places rather harrowing, museum. The above photo shows the Church in which he preached his famous sermons. My host in Lublin was one of the students who kept guard for him at his residence once it was clear that the security forces were after him.

I should see more of Lublin tomorrow as well as visiting the seminary to speak to some students. I'll also be calling into a shop to buy myself a cassock, saving myself more than the cost of my return flight.

Possible update tomorrow - photos and more detail as possible. (One photo today because I don't have time to edit the size down.)

Quick greetings from Lublin

Just a quick Hello from the main hall of the Catholic University of Lublin where I have been speaking to a fine group of students. Off to visit the class where Karol Wojtyla taught.

More soon from Poland with photos.

Monday, 14 May 2012

In a rush - I'm Spartacus!

Just a few minutes in front of a working computer before I have to go and get on the aeroplane so I thought I would quickly repost the graphic that has resulted in the ludicrous investigation of Cranmer by the Advertising Standards Authority. I am glad that there is at least an update to the story that I can post now that His Grace has responded to the ASA. I'll have to read the full response later but it does look fun.

Off to Poland

Jerzy Popieluszko

The shrine of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko is on my "must see" list for the next few days. I'm off shortly to Heathrow to catch a flight to Warsaw. I'll be giving a talk at the seminary at Warsaw and then in Lublin. There should be time for sightseeing in both cities as well as a chance to meet some good Polish apostolic lay people.

Not sure how much blogging I will be able to do - but I have packed equipment that should enable me to make use of any opportunities. (I'll certainly take some photos.) Will probably have the chance to do a couple of posts at the airport.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Inspirational photo book with vocational theme

The Southwark Vocations blog has news of a new motivational book that could be given to someone leaving school for college, university, or their first job. It is a very simple idea: good photos produced "lightbox style" with a dark surround, and well-chosen quotations. There are blank pages at the back to collect signatures. The book has photos of key moments in life, especially the life of faith, with photos illustrating vocations at the end. It is £7.95 for a single copy but there are substantial discounts for bulk orders. See the Transitions website for ordering.

Faith Editorial on Catholic Education

The May-June 2012 issue of Faith Magazine is now online. You can see individual articles or simply download the whole magazine as a pdf which is probably better for most people.

There are many good articles, but readers may be particularly interested in the editorial article: Catholic Education and Playing “Devil’s Advocate”.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Has Youth Ministry failed?

Should we abandon Youth Ministry? Patrick Archbold at the excellent Creative Minority Report has posted a provocative article headed Youth Ministry Has Failed. I agree with him that
We have 2,000 years of doctrine, liturgy, art, and music upon which to draw in order to bolster the faith and Catholic identity of our youth and we give them watered down doctrine, bad music, bad liturgy, and felt banners. Our youth deserve more.
He refers to an article on U.S.: Modern Youth Ministry a '50-Year Failed Experiment,' Say Pastors and quotes a section in which the view is advanced that "dividing children from adults at church is an unbiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies."

This is worthy of discussion. Since I was a teenager myself, I have been involved in events which are specifically for young people - either teenagers or young adults. Coming into contact with home-schoolers and those organising Family Days of various sorts, I have come to see the advantage of having events for a mixed age group.

A standard criticism of home-schooling is that the children are deprived of socialising. Home-schoolers will naturally respond wryly that the kind of socialising that goes on in a narrow peer group at school is one of the reasons for home-schooling in the first place. At Youth Ministry events organised for a peer group, the question of discipline or "appropriate behaviour", call it what you will, often presents a major task for the organisers. There are usually statements on the invitation literature about standards of behaviour and sanctions. Somebody generally has to oversee these things and they can become a headache. I have also heard parents complain at times about the bad influences that their children are exposed to.

At Family Days and home-schooling events, this problem is markedly reduced. I won't say that it is entirely absent, but if teenagers argue with their parents, they usually get on OK with other adults, and are often very good at helping out with younger children. The mix of ages is a more natural environment. It can be rather chaotic in terms of organisation but is less stressful in terms of teenage misbehaviour.

So do I think that Youth Ministry has failed? Not really: I do think that there is still room for events for teenagers and young adults. I certainly agree that there is no need for dumbing-down; and I agree heartily with a point often made by James Preece that in today's world we do not need to feel obliged to provide young people with excitement - they get that elsewhere and more effectively from the enormous range of activities made available to them. I think it is probably true nowadays that most youngsters of the kind who go to Church Youth events have experienced abseiling or ski-ing on some trip or another before they are fifteen. Obviously I also think that young people respond well to traditional liturgy - even if the liturgy is all Novus Ordo, it should be dignified and have a sense of the sacred. As I have said before, if you start doing clown liturgies or trying to "rock for Jesus" you need to remember that the kids will not be laughing with you, they will be laughing at you.

Still, good events for young people still have a place, I think, but we should resist the temptation to think that they are the whole solution. Far too often, when people get together to talk about what is wrong with the Church, or the parish, someone of advanced years will say that "we must do more for the youth" and the response is to set up something to provide young people with excitement, infantile liturgy, and a bit of dumbed-down catechesis (even, quod Deus avertat, values clarification style groups.)

So my two-penn'orth in this discussion is that we can arrange good quality events for young people but should also consider the neglected area of family ministry in which young people can benefit from a wide and natural age-range of participants, and the opportunity to break out of the peer-group fascism that limits their freedom to flourish and mature with the help of those who are older or younger than themselves.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Bl John XXIII's optimism and Ban Ki-Moon's manichaeism

The video shows Archbishop Loris Capovilla speaking affectionately about Blessed Pope John XXIII and his decision to call the second Vatican Council. (Lovely Italian with subtitles.) Discuss.

The Archbishop tells of how the Holy Father was encouraged, in the aftermath of the second world war, by the establishment of three international organisations: the UN, FAO and UNESCO. With respect, and with the luxury of hindsight, we might consider this rather optimistic. For example, it was reported the other day that Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the UN has pushed for abortion in all nations.

Ban Ki-Moon says that we cannot ignore the facts:
“Many young people are sexually active, and, because of this, they may face risks to their health.”
That in a nutshell is the humanistic view of sex - a variant of manichaeism: sexual activity is basically a risky inevitability that has to be fixed.

In fact, if two people who are both virgins, are "sexually active" only with each other in a lifelong relationship of marriage, there is no risk to their health. In such a case, sexual activity is good, natural and healthy. So healthy that it often brings new life into being.

It is the other forms of sexual activity that might pose a risk, one that increases in proportion to promiscuity. The answer to this risk is not abortion, "reproductive health services", sex education or condoms, but a return to Christian marriage and the safest sex of all.

A classical flash mob in Copenhagen metro

A rather classy flash mob - Grieg's Peer Gynt on the Copenhagen metro.

Thanks to Deacon Greg Kandra and to Diane at Te Deum.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

British aid buying coercive population control in India

The Wall Street Journal reports on What Britain's Foreign Aid Buys in India

The UK Department for International Development confirms that our £162.2 million of our money has been spent on India's national "Reproductive and Child Health Programme" in order to reduce "disparities in access and use of essential reproductive and child health services." What this actually adds up to in practice is forcible sterilisation of both women and men.

The WSJ is naively benevolent in its assessment of British intentions and protestations of opposition to coercive population control.

The above photo casting doubt on the blessing of pregnancy and quoting Malthus, was judged Best Advertisement on "Population Control" in a contest organised by a leading advertising portal in New Delhi in July 2007.

Prince Alois stands his ground

Thanks to a correspondent for news of the principled stand of Prince Alois of Lichtenstein. As I reported last September, the Crown Prince made it clear that he would use his powers to veto the proposed legalisation of abortion. He now faces a campaign by his opponents to take away his power of veto. The Prince has said that if this campaign succeeds, his family will withdraw from political life.

The Prince enjoys massive support in the small principality but opposition from the Council of Europe. It will be interesting to see whether "Europe" can impose its own ideas of democracy on a small country whose people prefer to live under a benign monarchy (and one that supports Christian values.)

Thurible as asset in close protection

Richard Collins picked up on my post about the clinking of chains and a possible duel and has written sagely on Techniques for Thurible Management. I particularly liked the video that he found, illustrating the use of the thurible as part of security management. Interestingly, it was a novus ordo style one chain thurible. I think that there would be further possibilities with a proper traditional four chain thurible. Perhaps some young clerics could be sent off by Mgr Marini for training in liturgical close protection.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Intrepid cyclists planning John O' Groats to Lands End to

The young people from my parish who cycled to Rome last year are planning another long distance ride for charity, this time from John O'Groats to Land's End. For those of you from elsewhere in the world, this is well-known here as the longest distance that can be travelled on mainland Britain - in fact, some of them will be starting off from Berwick-upon-Tweed for a 350 mile warm-up. You can join them if you want to, even just for part of the trip. Here is the press release.

Young Catholics will embark on a mammoth bike ride covering the length of the United Kingdom this summer to bear witness to their faith and raise money for three charities.

Land’s End 2012 is the brainchild of Anna-Marie and Gregory Treloar, who were part of a sibling-trio that cycled from London to Rome in 2010. This time, they are turning their attention closer to home and have invited people to join them to cycle for whatever distance they can manage.

Mary’s Meals, African Mission and the St. Pio’s Friary in Bradford will benefit from money raised by the adventure.
Anna-Marie, 21, a Medicine student, said: “I hope this trip will help us to bear witness to our own faith, as well as supporting some wonderful work that goes on within the Church. “We're planning several prayer evenings on our route to pray for the re-evangelisation of the UK, and involve others who aren't able to cycle with us, in the spiritual focus of the trip. “We're going to pray together each day of the trip, which will culminate in Mass which we will celebrate together with the parish of Penzance on our arrival. “I’m really looking forward to visiting many beautiful places for the first time.”

Anna-Marie is set to cycle an estimated 1,250 miles, starting from Berwick-upon-Tweed to John O’Groats and then turning back south to Land’s End. There are currently eight cyclists signed up for the tour. They will be peddling a combined total of 4,890, a number which organisers hope will increase.

Gregory, 18, who is studying for his A-levels, said: “I am really excited about this cycling trip, not only because it is such an iconic achievement, but also because we will be taking in the amazing countryside of Great Britain, and won't have the challenge of crossing any language barriers.”

Ryan Day, 27, a seminarian studying at the Venerable English College, Rome, will be catching up with the pack when he returns to England from the summer. The Diocese of Middlesbrough student will ride 420 miles from Hull to Land’s End. He said: “It’s important that young Catholics are seen to living active, normal lives and enjoy themselves to the full and that’s certainly what we’ll be doing on this trip.”

Mary’s Meals provides children in the third world with a daily meal in their place of education. African Mission is a small UK based charity that has specific projects throughout Africa, such as providing support for medical and educational schemes.

Closer to home, St Pio’s Friary in Bradford is the home of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. They run a centre to help the poor and destitute in the city.

The ride is set to end in Land’s End on July 21.
For more details about the project, visit the To Land's End blog , and to sponsor the riders go to their Charity Giving page. For further information about joining the ride, e-mail Anna-Marie at

Catholic teaching on sexual morality too political for schools

Gosh! I never thought that would happen.

Catholic schools being opposed to gay marriage ought to be a dog bites man story as in “Pope still Catholic” or “Sun rises at dawn again.” In the wacky world of modern Britain’s metropolitan elite it is now a source of outrage. Pink News scooped the story with an exposé and the Guardian and the BBC report on the matter with ponderous solemnity.

Craziest of all, Michael Gove, the Secretary for Education, and a Conservative MP, has launched an investigation into the matter. The excuse for this ludicrous waste of public money is that some Catholic schools have promoted the C4M petition to uphold marriage, the wording of which states simply:
I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.
To promote this petition is deemed to be political. A spokesperson for the Department for Education said:
Schools have a responsibility under law to ensure children are insulated from political activity and campaigning in the classroom
Will we now see similar investigations into schools that have promoted political campaigns about climate change, FairTrade, homelessness or development aid? Of course not; it is only issues of sexual morality that the self-absorbed directors of public moral thinking deem too political for schools to touch.

I am honestly puzzled by the determination of David Cameron to push gay marriage. There was nothing on the subject in the Conservative manifesto, and the whole issue is really the concern of a tiny minority of people from interest groups that have been given clout precisely because of the enthusiastic support of people like David Cameron. Cui bono?

It seems that now some of his own people are getting cold feet about the whole idea. The Chief Whip is assuring voters that it will be kicked into the long grass, and many Tory MPs are getting worried about the size of their postbag and email inbox on the subject from angry Tory voters. They are questioning how a Government that wants to be re-elected can blithely ignore a petition that is now only a few thousand short of a half a million signatures.

Congratulations to the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales for encouraging schools to uphold Catholic teaching on the issue of gay marriage and to do so in a way that has impact in the public square. Congratulations too, to St Philomena’s School in Croydon, especially the Headteacher, Miss Noone, and the Chair of Governors, Dr Mary Howard for sticking to their guns despite hostile publicity in the national press. You might just send off an email in support of the school ( since it can be stressful to be caught in the firing line.

Great film of Church Music Colloquium

Thanks to Jeffrey Tucker at NLM for letting us know of the film of the recent Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America. See Jeffrey's post Colloquium, The Movie for an introduction.

Ordinarily I wouldn't take time to watch a film that is nearly an hour long, but the other evening I decided to set some space aside later on, to relax and watch the whole thing. I am glad that I did. The film is professionally put together, enjoyable and encouraging. The interviews and narrative are accompanied throughout with superbly sung Gregorian chant and polyphony.

If you are battling away somewhere to renew and revive sacred music in the Liturgy in your parish (or Cathedral) and feeling that it is an uphill struggle, this film will cheer you up and probably set you thinking about whether you can save up enough money to go to America for the next Colloquium. For those who follow news of liturgy and music, it is also a welcome opportunity to see people like Jeffrey Tucker and Scott Turkington speaking when we normally see only their writing.

The emphasis is entirely positive. There is little mention of what is wrong with the music in many parishes, only positive encouragement for musicians and singers of all levels of expertise (or none) to get on and try some sacred music. Included in the film are shots of Masses in both the older and newer forms. As is becoming more common nowadays at various conferences that are doing good in the Church, this is simply taken for granted and not even commented upon.

Cardinal Piacenza supports and challenges priests

Fr Simon Henry of Offerimus Tibi Domine reported on the letter from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza to priests, in advance of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of the Clergy. I have printed that off and will be reading that prayerfully over the next few days as some nourishment for my mental prayer. Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, has consistently shown great pastoral concern for priests while at the same time challenging us to live up to the ideals of the priesthood. He is a man who deserves to be called "Father."

In his post, Fr Simon included a prayer for priests by St Faustina Kowalska. May I ask you to say it for your own priest and for all of us.

O my Jesus,
I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit,
and give power to the words of Priests
so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance
and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy Priests;
You yourself maintain them in holiness.
O Divine and Great High Priest,
may the power of Your mercy
accompany them everywhere and protect them
from the devil's traps and snares
which are continually being set for the soul of Priests.
May the power of Your mercy,
O Lord, shatter and bring to naught
all that might tarnish the sanctity of Priests,
for You can do all things.
My beloved Jesus,
I pray to you for the triumph of the Church,
that you may bless the Holy Father and all the clergy;
I beg you to grant the grace of conversion
to sinners whose hearts have been hardened by sin,
and a special blessing and light to priests,
to whom I shall confess for all of my life.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pray for Chen Guangchen! Pray for China!

The name and photo of Chen Guangchen have appeared several times on this blog and it is good news that he has managed to make a daring escape from his brutally enforced house arrest and taken refuge at the US Embassy. He is something of an embarrassment it seems, because everyone wants to keep on good terms with China and the Chinese government does not want to lose face. When will they understand that they have already brought shame on the good people of China?

Chen Guangchen is also an embarrassment for some in the western media. He is usually referred to as an "activist" but some articles do not even mention what his activism sought to fight against, namely forced abortion and sterilisation in the name of China's one child policy.

Say a prayer for Chen Guangchen and his family. Apparently one of the "face-saving" ways for him to get out of the country is to be sent for "medical treatment." Let us pray that something like that happens and we can hear him speak in the West.

Follow by email widget

Maria of the Apostolate for Family Consecration just asked whether it was possible to follow this blog by email. I checked and found out that it wasn't.

It is now - at least I hope so. I have put the Follow by Email widget on the right sidebar. It looks fairly simple - if you use it, please let me know in the combox if there are any problems (or email with the subject line "Email widget".)

And pay a visit to the Apostolate for Family Consecration which looks great.
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