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Friday, 29 June 2012

They shoot horses, don't they?

Prolonging suffering of dying patients through medical care is 'evil' according to a senior spokesman of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (HPAD

Speaking to the British Medical Association, Professor Tallis said that:
"Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care and inflicted on a dying patient who wishes to die is an unequivocal evil."
Well naturally if anyone were to inflict unbearable suffering on a dying patient, that would be evil. If a patient is already suffering, it would also be an evil to fail to provide adequate palliative care, or to kill the patient.

Dr John McGough, also a member of HPAD, used the example of vets putting down animals, saying that this was considered compassionate and kind. He wants doctors to be able to do the same for people. This is a shaft of light into the real thinking of the assisted dying lobby. Essentially we are being encouraged to see the medically assisted killing of human beings within the same moral compass as putting down a dog.

There is a poll in the article, asking "Should assisted dying be legalised?" At the moment, the "Yes" votes are winning by 581 to 252 votes. If you vote and re-blog the poll, we could give a voice to those who do not think that people should be put down as animals are.

Thanks to Care Not Killing for the link.

"None are so poor as those who lack the knowledge and the grace of God"

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Here is my sermon for today, the feast of St Peter and St Paul:

This autumn, we will begin the Year of Faith, called by Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of St Peter. We are invited to address three principal themes in this year.

First, we will revisit the second Vatican Council which began 50 years ago in 1962, to try to understand it in the context of the whole tradition of the Church.

Secondly we will look again at the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published 20 years ago in 1992. The Catechism is an authoritative account of the faith of the Catholic Church, the things that we believe as Catholics. Our Catholic doctrine is not like a policy drawn up by a committee for a government or a business. It is the teaching of Christ, given to the apostles, handed on by them and preserved intact in the Catholic Church for all future generations.

Our Lord said to Peter that he was the rock on which He would build His Church. That is why the successor of St Peter is not just a "religious leader" but the Vicar of Christ on earth. Our Lord told St Peter to confirm his brother apostles in the faith. Pope Benedict continues that work today by affirming the doctrine of the faith: not his own opinions but the teaching of Christ.

Since we have such a generous provision from Our Lord that we can know the truth necessary for our salvation, we should take the trouble to be well-informed about our faith, to try to understand it, to make an effort to learn more about it and make it the basis of our lives.

The third theme for the Year of Faith is the New Evangelisation. In the past, there were many people in the world who had never heard of the Gospel, never heard of Jesus Christ and His saving death on the cross, never heard of the grace of God or the eternal reward of heaven. On the red Mission box (a wooden box in those days) that stood on a shelf in the hall in our house, and into which we as children put in some coins from our pocket money, there was a quotation from Pope Pius XI which I have never forgotten:
Helping the missions surpasses all other works of charity for none are so poor as those who lack the knowledge and the grace of God.
Today the words of Pope Pius XI are no less important, but they have a different focus for us. While there is still primary mission work to be done in countries where people have never heard of Christ, there is a far greater mission field in those countries like our own where the Christian faith has been preached, where it has been lived, where it is a major part of our history, and where it has now become forgotten by many, misunderstood, attacked in the media, and rejected by many who have at one time in their lives received the grace of baptism. Bringing the gospel to this mission field is what is meant by the New Evangelisation.

St Paul said “woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel” (1 Cor 9.16) and this applies to us in England today. We need to do more than the minimum practice of the faith. We need to grow in faith and in prayer, in knowledge and in confidence in the grace of God so that we can be effective apostles to those around us who have rejected the faith, who misunderstand it, or who are searching for some kind of “spirituality” in all the wrong places. Our Lord relies on us for this act of charity. It is still true, and it is urgent for us to recognise in our own country that
“none are so poor as those who lack the knowledge and the grace of God.”

Novena to the Holy Ghost for the SSPX: let's all join in

Jean II Restout - Pentecôte


The Society of St Pius X's annual General Chapter will take place at St Pius X Seminary in Econe, Switzerland from 9-14 July, following a retreat for the participants (the General Council and the SSPX's major superiors).

The SSPX has invited the faithful, religious and clergy to join the members of the SSPX in a novena to the Holy Ghost from June 30 to July 8. The novena will consist of praying the Veni Creator Spiritus with the addition of 2 invocations:

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us. (3 times)
St. Pius X, pray for us.


Here is the text of the Veni Creator Spiritus with translation.

I will be praying this novena and I encourage you to do so in solidarity with the SSPX and especially for the cause of full canonical recognition for the Society.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Laying hands on Fr Hunwicke


Only as a presbyter, of course. Fr John Hunwicke was ordained yesterday at the Church of St Aloysius at Oxford, the home of the Oxford Oratory, by Bishop William Kenney, Auxiliary in Birmingham.

Here he is, prostrate during the Litany of the Saints sung by Fr James Bradley:


The Newman Consort sang Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli for the Kyrie and Sanctus, and the plainchant Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion. At the anointing, they sang Iam non dicam vos servos by Dominique Phinot, and at Communion Byrd's Sacerdotes Domini. The singing was sublime and I was glad that I made the choice to attend in choro since I was able to listen to the music as part of my actuosa participatio. Fr Michael Mary and Brother Martin de Porres were also in choir, along with Fr Edward van den Bergh of the London Oratory. Concelebrants, in addition to priests of the Ordinariate, and priests from the Oratory, included Fr John Saward, Fr Aidan Nichols OP and Fr John Osman

The ceremony showed that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham can teach many of us something about the Roman Liturgy. Having the propers sung in the proper place is routine for the Ordinariate at sung Masses. May their good example inspire parishes to discover the proper place of sacred music.

After Mass, along with the others present, I received Fr Hunwicke's blessing. I was glad to have made the journey to Oxford for the greater blessing of his priestly ordination which God has granted to the Church and for which many of us have been praying earnestly.


Photo credits: top  from the Ordinariate Flickr set (H/T Fr Stephen Smuts) Other photos: Heather Buttery

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Bloggers (and others) converging on Oxford

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Many Catholic bloggers hold Fr Hunwicke's Liturgical Notes in high esteem even though he has not been able to post much for a while. I am sure I am not the only blogger to be making my way to the Oxford Oratory today.

Having carefully timed my journey to take a direct train to Oxford, I had to change at Didcot anyway because of "lineside problems". Now on the last leg, even though we are travelling at about 10mph and stopping every few minutes, I hold out hope of arriving in time for an unhurried late lunch (or early dinner) and then going on to St Aloysius early for Fr Hunwicke's priestly ordination. I am looking forward to seeing many friends there.

Bishop Tartaglia on the New Orthodoxy of Secularism

"The loss of religious freedom is now arguably the most serious threat that the Catholic Church and all people of faith in this country are facing" says Bishop philip Tartaglia in an article titled: At the Door of the Temple: Religious Freedom and the New Orthodoxy. The essay is adapted from a keynote address he delivered on April 11, 2012, at Magdalen College, University of Oxford, to a conference sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University.

Here is a quotation from the essay:
Will the Catholic Church—and other religious bodies and groups—have the space to adhere to, express, and teach their beliefs in the public square? Or will these basic elements of religious freedom be denied, driving the Church and other religious bodies to the margins of society, if not actually underground?

SSPX leak and new VP for Ecclesia Dei

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While I was enjoying the always interesting discussion and questions from my Carthusian students at Parkminster today, various news items were exploding far away from the peaceful environment of the massive cloister and gardens glorious in one of our better English summer days. We're doing eschatology at the moment and have just got to heaven.

There has been another serious leak (breach of trust) from someone within the SSPX wanting to make things difficult for Bishop Fellay. The letter is out on the internet - Rorate Caeli, after a delay, have included it on their blog since it is now in the public domain: For the record Confidentiality: like water through a sieve. The document, marked "Confidential" and "Internal" refers to the 13 June meeting and the revised preamble which Bishop Fellay was unable to sign (see also my post Nail-biting SSPX developments.)
The letter also contains this paragraph:
Furthermore, I inform all members of the Chapter that, in virtue of Canon 2331 § 1 and 2 (nc 1373), the Superior General has deprived Bp. Williamson from the position of capitulary due to his stand calling to rebellion and for continually repeated disobedience. He has also been forbidden to come to Écône for the ordinations.
Bishop Fellay has also postponed the ordinations of some religious associated with the Society in order to ensure the loyalty of the communities to which they belong.

While this is going on, Archbishop di Noia has been moved from the CDW to take up a new post as Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (the president ex officio is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, so Archbishop di Noia will effectively head the day to day work of the Commission.) The Vatican Information Service has posted the text of a Note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which affirms:
The appointment of a high-ranking prelate to this position is a sign of the Holy Father’s pastoral solicitude for traditionalist Catholics in communion with the Holy See and his strong desire for the reconciliation of those traditionalist communities not in union with the See of Peter.
This seems a clear indication that the Holy See at least has not kicked the negotiations into the long grass. I do hope that Archbishop di Noia and Bishop Fellay can bring about a result.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Saint John Fisher Missale

The other day, the Our Lady of the Rosary Church Choir blog, I saw a post about the Saint John Fisher Missale which is now hosted at Musica Sacra. Today I was prompted by Berthold Kress, art historian and compiler of the Missale to put a notice about it here.

The St John Fisher Missale is a collection of pdfs with the Ordo Missae and Kyriale as well as propers for many of the seasonal Masses and Saints. This is a work in progress and more material is planned.

This might sound a bit "same old same old" given the wealth of materials posted on the internet in recent years in support of the usus antiquior. However, the St John Fisher Missale differs from other resources in some important ways. The Ordo Missae is set up with the sung Mass primarily in mind. This will be useful for people who have the advantage of being able to attend sung Mass regularly since many of the people's booklets available treat sung Mass as an incidental second option to Low Mass.

The collection also includes some extra chants that would have been known to St John Fisher but were not included in the Tridentine Missal. From the website:
The Missals and Graduals printed after the Council of Trent contain only parts of the very rich tradition of medieval plainsong. It seems that many of the chants removed from the books at this time may still be sung (if not as liturgical items, then as motets at a suitable point during Mass), and explicit permission has been given for the use of some of them. Since many of them can enrich the liturgy both theologically and musically, a small selection of them are included here — this makes the St John Fisher Missale probably the first non-academic publication that makes this material accessible to congregations. The additional chant texts fall into three groups:
  • The Offertory Verses, taken from the 1935 Offertoriale Romanum
  • The Sequences, as found in the Sarum Missal, which would have been known by St John Fisher and sung in medieval England
  • The Texts for the Kyrie, likewise from the Sarum Missal and, if not available there, from the Analecta hymnica.
I am rather looking forward to having some Sarum chant at Sunday Mass in due course.

All of the pdfs are well typeset and laid-out ready to print for the congregation. For a longer introduction to the St John Fisher Missale and the thinking behind it, see this Introduction.

Picture credit: Warburg Institute, University of London.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Comment of the month

From Dilly on Blessed Pius IX a bit of a modernist?
When I first saw the picture without my reading glasses, I thought it was a red nun. Probably Pope Pius wisely foresaw that if this outfit were not immediately banned, someone using Image Search on Google might confuse him with Sr Margaret Farley.

Answering Hard Questions

Know your questioner, where the question is coming from, and know some key principles for answering.

This afternoon I was at Amigo Hall, next to St George's Cathedral, for a Day for Catechists organised by the Diocesan Centre for Catholic Formation. I was leading workshop G on "Answering Hard Questions." The response for the day was much larger than anticipated, and my session had about 50 people. There is a real thirst for formation and it was great to be able to play a small part in the day.

I did not have enough copies of my notes, so I promised people that I would make them available on the internet this evening. Here is a link: Answering Hard Questions. If you click that link, you can read the notes online, download them, or print them off.

Again as promised, the references to resources on the fourth page of the printed notes can all be found with links at the post Hard Questions - Some Random References.

Hard Questions - Some Random References

As I promised this afternoon, here are links to the resources that I mentioned as being of help for various hard questions.

These are only a few resources, almost at random. The internet also gives us access to many fine books that are now out of copyright. We are no longer helpless simply because we do not have access to a Catholic library. For example, the works of GK Chesterton, Blessed John Henry Newman and others can be downloaded, put on a Kindle, quoted and read from your desktop (or iPad.) e-book collections are growing all the time and you could probably find these works as e-books already prepared for you.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (the go-to source for an authoritative explanation of the doctrines of the faith.)

News.va (get the texts, not the reportage)

Catholic Answers website (with apologetical materials and a good forum)

Fr Andrew Pinsent and Fr Marcus Holden “Apologia” (A substantial CTS pamphlet which deals expertly with many questions posed about religion in general and the Catholic faith in particular. This is an invaluable apologetical resource for us because it comes from a British, rather than a North American perspective.)

Michael Coren’s books: Why Catholics Are Right and Heresy (Canadian talk show host who offers solid apologetics for a secular society. Straightforward, hard-hitting, and very helpful.)

Pam Stenzl (gives classes to teenagers on chastity. She was conceived after her mother was raped, so is in a good position to answer that particular hard question.)

Janet Smith Why Humanae Vitae was Right (what it says on the tin)

Regine Pernoud Those Terrible Middle Ages!: Debunking the Myths (an amusing and scholarly answer to the prejudice common about the middle ages and particularly the Church.)

Peter Kreeft (a Catholic philosopher who makes sound philosophy accessible and addresses many aspects of confused thinking we may be faced with.)

Dawn Eden The Dawn patrol (Including links to “The Thrill of the Chaste” and other works. Dawn converted from an immoral lifestyle and does great work speaking courageously to the general public about chastity.)

Fr Robert Barron Word on Fire (“Catholicism” is a great resource for catechists and for parish programmes. Fr Barron also delivers regular short sermons posted on YouTube.)

This blog features some of my Catholic Dilemmas articles from the Catholic Herald. You could also check out Fr Zuhlsdorf's regular "Quaeritur" articles on his blog What Does the Prayer Really Say.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Blessed Pius IX a bit of a modernist?



A correspondent has forwarded to me the above photo of Pope Gregory XVI wearing the red velvet Papal Cappa. This was used by the Supreme Pontiff for Tenebrae and Christmas night. The picture was found by Leo at The Far Sight.

I was told that this papal cappa was abolished by the next Pope, none other than the Blessed Pius IX. This has me worried. Did Mastai-Ferretti harbour secret yearnings for guitar masses some time in the future? I think we should be told.

Ordination and first Masses of John Hunwicke


Many of us have been looking forward eagerly to John Hunwicke's priestly ordination. Deo gratias this will be taking place next week on Wednesday 27 June at 7pm at the Oxford Oratory. I will be assisting at the Mass and one or two of my parishioners are going. Everyone is welcome so if you are in the area, do come.

Here, from Fr Hunwicke's Liturgical Notes is a further announcement:
Please come ... if you are able ... to the event mentioned in the previous post, in Oxford this coming Wednesday, June 27.

I ALSO ANNOUNCE that, Deo volente, I plan to celebrate

First Mass in the Extraordinary Form; London at the Brompton Oratory.
Low Mass, Thursday June 28, 11.30; by kind permission of the Provost.

First Mass in the Ordinary Form; Oxford in the Church of the Holy Rood.
Solemn Vigil Mass of Sunday, Saturday June 30, 6.00, by kind permission of Fr Paul King and Mgr Andrew Burnham. I plan also to preach.

Please! I would love to see as many friends, whether or not we have met in the flesh, as possible.
By the way (and I was corrected on this myself by a friend of Fr Hunwicke) if you have only so far met him virtually, the name is pronounced "Hunnick", the w being silent.

FSSP Vocation discernment weekend


I am happy to publicise this weekend arranged by the FSSP in England. Here are the details:

Vocation discernment weekend
27-29 July 2012 in Reading:

For any English-speaking Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
Starts on Friday 27th July 2012 at 6pm (arrivals from 5pm) – ends on Sunday 29th July 2012 at 3pm.
Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP and Rev Alex Stewart, FSSP.

Location: St John Fisher House, 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England.
Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite), silent prayer, and optional private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what a vocation is in general and to the priesthood in particular.

Cost for the whole weekend, 2 days + 2 nights, full board: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.

Contact: Tel: 0118 966 5284; Email: malleray@fssp.org; website: www.fssp.co.uk/england

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A proposed theme song for the LCWR



After the talk show publicity the LCWR have gained in the States (example here), I think we can dispense with the "I'm so hurt" comments.

A chance to do something for the least of Christ's brethren



The Good Counsel Network need some things for the expectant mothers they have helped to be mothers, and for the babies that they have helped to see the light of day.

You know the score - get something from the Amazon wishlist, offer up the act of charity to Our Blessed Lord: they get anything from soft wipes to washing machines and you get grace as well, together with an increased prospect of Our Lord saying "I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me."

In defence of noble simplicity and lack of choice

Preface

Rorate Caeli has published the latest FIUV Position Paper on Prefaces. The papers are produced by a sub-committee under moderation of Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society who is presenting the papers to the public - though the papers are not the work of any one author. (FIUV is the International Federation Una Voce.) Joseph Shaw is the ) Fr Z has commented on this paper and has a poll at his post on the subject. The FIUV website has a page with links to all of the Position Papers on the 1962 Missal.

The Position Papers are issued with a view to stimulating discussion. At the head of each paper is the loyal statement:
The International Federation Una Voce humbly submits the opinions contained in these papers to the judgement of the Church. 
Here is the abstract of the latest paper:
"Although there are a great many Latin Prefaces dating from the early Middle Ages, the Roman Rite is historically characterised by a very limited number: the Hadrianum contained 14; from the late 11th Century until 1919 there were 12; four were added between 1919 and 1928. In addition a few extra Prefaces are permitted for religious orders or certain places. The small number of Prefaces, the lack of choice between Prefaces for a particular Mass, and their restrained Latin style, are all characteristic of the ancient Latin liturgical tradition represented by the 1962 Missal, and there is little precedent for adding to their number, even for important new feasts. The Prefaces of the 1970 Missal, of which there are 82, are distinct in function as well as style, being designed to complement the new Eucharistic Prayers, and composed with a distinct sequence of prayers in mind, in which, by contrast with the ancient Roman tradition, the Preface has no intercessory role. The possibility of adding new Prefaces to the 1962 Missal does not seem to us to fulfil the criterion of Sacrosanctum Concilium that ‘the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires’ a liturgical change, particularly while the Extraordinary Form is still at an early stage of adoption in the mainstream of the Church’s liturgical life."
As a priest who regularly celebrates both forms of the Roman Rite, I agree with the  argument of the paper and its conclusion. The new prefaces are all worthy enough in their own way but the first thing that must be said is that they depart from the noble simplicity of the Roman Rite. The paper quotes Adrian Fortescue from his book Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described:
"The chief note in the Roman rite has always been its austere simplicity. That is still its essential note, compared with the florid Eastern rites. It is surely worthwhile to preserve this note externally also, to repress any Byzantine tendencies in our ceremonies."
The new prefaces generally exhibit what Fortescue in The Mass. A Study of the Roman Liturgy described as:
"A tendency to pile up explanatory allusions, classical forms that savour of Cicero and not at all of the rude simplicity that is real liturgical style, florid rhetoric that would suit the Byzantine rite in Greek rather than our reticent Roman tradition..."
For extreme examples of this, see the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary which are certainly beautiful meditations on various titles of Our Lady. In these Masses, the prefaces are longer than most of those in the Missal and form a substantial meditation on their own - and could indeed be used as such - but look much like a modern version of the medieval embellishments that were dropped from use in the reforms of St Pius V.

 The paper makes another important point in saying that
"it is part of the character of the Extraordinary Form that options are generally minimised;"
In celebrating the Novus Ordo, the priest is offered a panoply of choices for the preface at many of the Masses he says during the year: four for Lent, five for Easter, eight for Sundays of ordinary time, and six common prefaces for weekdays. I wonder what the reformers were thinking when they offered three prefaces of the Nativity for the week between Christmas and Epiphany, two for the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost, and two for the twelve apostles.

How does the priest choose? Must he study the texts of the propers every day, compare the various prefaces and choose which one fits best? (If so, why could not some expert from San Anselmo or Collegeville not do that once and for all and spare parish priests the labour?) Perhaps that is not possible because the priest is meant to assess the pastoral needs of the people in the assembly and choose which of the eight Sunday prefaces will best speak to their existential situation on the 19th week of Ordinary Time year C, taking into account the other texts of the day? It would be a pity if he had gone to all this trouble and the Miggins family didn't turn up to have their existential situation referenced because they decided to go and visit Auntie Freda for the weekend.

As we all know, this earnest daily liturgical calculation does not happen: the preface is chosen either at random, or because it is short, because "we had the other one last week.", because the missalette has it printed, because we are going round the prefaces in order, or for any one of a number of other reasons, none of which have anything much to do with the spirit of the Liturgy.

As a parish priest with a long To-Do list biting at my heels, a backlog of pastorally important emails to answer, people to visit and sermons and talks to prepare, I find that it is always a relief to wake up in the morning on a day when we have the usus antiquior. I can focus on trying to say the Mass devoutly rather than choosing which texts to say. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Cherie Blair denigrates motherhood


The Telegraph reports on a speech given by Cherie Blair: Cherie Blair attacks 'yummy mummies' who choose children over careers. Speaking to top people at a posh hotel in London, she said:
Every woman needs to be self-sufficient and in that way you really don’t have a choice - for your own satisfaction; you hear these yummy mummies talk about being the best possible mother and they put all their effort into their children. I also want to be the best possible mother, but I know that my job as a mother includes bringing my children up so actually they can live without me.
The focus is on women who, supposedly, marry rich men in order to "retire" and spend their time looking after their children.

In fact there are plenty of women who marry not so rich husbands and make sacrifices to be with their children - and others who feel that they have to work in order to make ends meet, but would rather be with their children full time.

What Cherie Blair is doing in this speech is to denigrate the vocation of motherhood as though it were a second-class activity. For many working mothers it would be rather obviously far-fetched to describe audio-typing or work at the supermarket check-out, taken on out of necessity because of the tax regime's lack of support for the family, as a glorious liberation from the "demands" of being with their children. Those privileged enough to work in a top London chambers might find that difficult to understand.

Apostolic Nuncio to attend Evangelium conference




This year, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini will be attending the Evangelium Conference  and celebrating the Mass on Sunday. It is a sign of the times that the Nuncio is attending this event. I think that it is odds-on that someone will be undiplomatic and say "Please can we have some more Bishops like +Mark Davies." I don't think he will mind.

This year's Conference will be over the weekend of 3-5 August at the Oratory School in Reading. There is an impressive line-up of speakers - one of the advantages of attending is that you get to meet so many people who are involved in a wide range of different apostolates. Heard of the St Thomas More Legal Centre on the internet? You can meet Neil Addison, its Director and author of the Religion Law Blog. There will be people there from different pro-life groups, the FSSP, the Institute of Christ the King, and the Latin Mass Society, the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (Fr Ed Tomlinson is speaking) the Dominican Sisters of St Dominic's Priory in the New Forest, Auntie Joanna.

The purpose is to help young adult Catholics who love their faith, to be equipped to evangelise. In the video above, I liked the soundbite from Fr Holden: "It helps faithful Catholics to become devastatingly effective"

I'll be speaking on the Saturday afternoon. My task is to give a brief introduction to the sacraments. I joked with Fr Holden that I would have to condense 50 hours of lectures into 45 minutes. Obviously I'll not attempt that, but it will be a helpful exercise for me to organise something addressing some key topics for an intelligent and motivated audience. (You can expect the phrase "ex opere operato" to feature.)

Further details are available at the Evangelium webiste and you can book online. If you are used to seeing the costs of attending conferences in the USA, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that the cost is £95. That's full board with all meals.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Feast of St Peter and St Paul: obligation to go to Mass, no obligation to abstain from meat



Fr Z has been kind enough to pick up a post from my parish website - which prompts me to think that it might be helpful to put it on my own blog!
The feast of St Peter and St Paul on Friday 29 June is a Holyday of Obligation on which we are bound to attend Holy Mass. Masses in the parish will be at 10am, 4.15pm and 8pm (Latin EF.)

A plenary indulgence may be gained on this feast day, under the usual conditions, by devoutly praying with a pious object (rosary, holy card etc.) which has been blessed by the Pope or any Bishop, or by visiting a (Catholic) Cathedral Church. In either case, the Our Father and the Creed should be said.

The feast of St Peter and St Paul is a “Solemnity.” We may therefore eat meat on that day even though it is a Friday. It would be a devout practice (though not obligatory) to abstain from meat on the day before, on the Vigil of the feast.

For an explanation of indulgences, see the Catechism of the Catholic Church n.1471 ff.

For an explanation of the conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence, see my article Plenary indulgences not impossible.
I didn't realise that the Feast of St Peter and St Paul was not a holyday of obligation in the USA. In England now, many holydays have been moved to the nearest Sunday. Notoriously, Ascension and Epiphany are moved - this wrecks any semblance of a sensible calendar at those times. In addition, Corpus Christi is moved. Furthermore, any Holyday that falls on a Saturday or a Monday is moved to the adjacent Sunday. This has seriously compromised any attempt by parish priests to persuade people to go to Mass on days that are of obligation during the week.

In my parish we always have an old rite sung Mass on the traditional days. We get about as many people as we used to get anyway for the feast days when they were of obligation because people who like the old Mass will always come. Moving the Holydays has really achieved very little. A much more practical and pastoral approach would be to restore the Octaves.

Another loss (already well underway before the Council) is the vigils. Good Catholics who care about keeping the law of the Church are forever asking me about when they can eat meat on a Friday. Basically, the new code says that abstinence does not apply on days that are ranked in the calendar as solemnities. (In the old code the exemption was restricted to days of precept.) What people have forgotten is that it was the custom to fast on the vigil of a great feast. This makes a lot of sense - so why not make that little, tiny, not really very hard at all sacrifice of foregoing meat on Thursday 28 June in preparation for having a feast on the Friday?

Genuinely healthy PSHE programme available


Alive to the World is a good PSHE programme that has been edited for use in English schools. I wrote about it a while back, quoting a group of parents who reviewed it for me ("Alive to the World": good PSHE programme).

The OFSTED report for the Westminster Cathedral Choir School described the PSHE as excellent. Now I know that many of us couldn't care too much about what ODSTED says, but headteachers have to. The fact that a school using Alive to the World was praised by OFSTED for its PSHE takes away one possible reason for schools resisting it.

Louise Kirk, UK Co-Ordinator of Alive to the World, recently gave a paper to a conference of priests at the Opus Dei house, Thorneycroft (Bishop Davies was in attendance.) She explained why PSHE is currently failing children and how it could instead become a vehicle to spread our Catholic values to children of all faiths and none. See:Let’s Start with the Children: Promoting Chastity and Marriage within the PSHE Curriculum. The paper makes various empirical claims for which some may wish to see supporting references. These may be found in Louise's Response to the Government's PSHE Consultation last year.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

CD 260 on disposing of an old missal

I have bought a new missal to follow the new translation of the Mass. How should I dispose of my old one?

The Code of Canon Law (1171) says that “Sacred objects, set aside for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated with reverence. They are not to be made over to secular or inappropriate use.” This canon primarily refers to such things as chalices and vestments used in the Liturgy, and indeed the Church building itself. The “alienation” of such things is forbidden unless the proper process is observed, for example if a Church has to be closed. Otherwise, such sacred objects should always be kept for worship.

The devout laity have followed this rule in spirit also with objects of private devotion, especially those that have been blessed. Parents teach their children to treat holy things with respect and I try to support them – for example, I encourage children to take home a palm but stress that they should not use it to have a pretend sword fight. Similarly we would not use holy water to wash the dishes, a missal to prop up a table or a rosary to hang up a coat.

This respect for sacred objects poses a dilemma when such things wear out and we want to dispose of them reverently. Traditionally, this was done by the object being buried, broken (so that it is no longer a crucifix, for example) or burnt. With a hand missal, there is a problem in that most of us do not have easy access to an open fire nowadays. I think that it would not be irreverent to take the book apart and to put the pages into a recycling facility (rather than with the general rubbish.)

You may want to think of alternatives to disposing of the book. If you have room to keep it, it will be of interest in years to come. The translation will show how much the recent change was needed, and if your missal has artwork from the 1970s, it will be a fascinating example of a particular period in modern Church history.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

Most important prayer pro-life



Paul Smeaton has done one of those Channel 4 one minute videos. This time the theme is "What has been your most important prayer?" He answers that it is when he prays outside abortion clinics.

Don't forget to click on the thumbs up button.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Pugin, Augustine and the Sacred Heart

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Tiles from the Chantry chapel at St Augustine's Ramsgate (sorry about the feet)

Fr Roger Nesbitt once referred to the high speed train through Kent as the "magic train." I took it yesterday and whizzed from Ebbsfleet to Ashford in 18 minutes. The next two legs, either side of Canterbury, were slower, but I was at Ramsgate Station in less than an hour.

The Pilgrimage of the Sodality of the Five Holy Wounds began with Missa Cantata in the Church that Pugin himself regarded as his ideal Church. It was a windy day and for lunch we packed out a small cafe perched over the sea.

After lunch, we had an excellent talk and tour given by Catriona from the Pugin Society. Fr Marcus Holden, Parish Priest of Ramsgate and director of the Shrine of St Augustine of Canterbury, spoke of the significance of St Augustine himself. We finished the day with Benediction, including the Litany of the Five Holy Wounds and the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart.

It was very much a family day, with lots of young children. They seemed to be fascinated by the details of the Church. At one point, I saw two of the smaller ones sitting on a prie-dieu, and tracing the intricate carving with their fingers. The sheer visual beauty of Pugin's masterpiece must have made an impression on all of them.

Having been catapulted back to Ebbsfleet on the magic train, I drove over to St Mary's Chislehurst to celebrate Low Mass and Benediction (again including the Act of Reparation.) To finish, we sang this stirring hymn:



I remember in my youth that this was one of the hymns most despised as old fashioned, a prime candidate for consignment to the dustbin of pre-Vatican II relics. It was held up as an example of shallow sentimentality (unlike the modern hymn "does a motherrrrr forgeeeet her baaaybeeeee..." for example.) In the 1970s, anyone who did not expunge "To Jesus heart all burning" from their repertoire would risk the kind of contempt reserved for those who failed to nail formica over their panelled doors, smash up their Edwardian fireplaces or cover their tiled floor with padded vinyl.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Nail-biting SSPX developments



Rather like the heady days before Summorum Pontificum, the story of the SSPX negotiations with the Holy See brings periods of nothing much but rumour, followed by a flurry of activity. Above is the latest item: part of an interview Cardinal Burke gave to CNS today.

This week has been busy for me, with school Mass, Deanery meeting, Deanery Pastoral Council meeting, Board of Examiners meeting at Wonersh, school confessions, a pilgrimage to Ramsgate and the usual parish schedule. In between times, I have been following the story as best I can, especially through the excellent services of Rorate Caeli.

Bishop Fellay's visit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Wednesday was live tweeted far and wide at least as regards his time of entry and departure and the colour of his car (red.) The official statements were not long in coming. The Holy See's Press Communiqué on Thursday was followed quickly by the SSPX Press Communiqué.

Essentially, I think that the two significant points were: 1) it was confirmed by the Holy See that a draft document proposed a personal prelature; 2) the SSPX said that "The desire for supplementary clarifications could lead to a new phase of discussions."

Cathcon brings us an English translation of an informative report at Kathnet which might shed some light on the current state of play. The key sentence is, I think:
Recent public statements of Fellay have given rise to irritation in Rome that the Vatican no longer demanded from the SSPX the acceptance of the entire Second Vatican Council.
This may well refer to the interview given by Bishop Fellay to DICI on 8 June. Consider this passage:
Today, in Rome, some people regard a different understanding of the Council as something that is not decisive for the future of the Church, since the Church is more than the Council. Indeed, the Church cannot be reduced to the Council; she is much larger. Therefore we must strive to resolve more far-reaching problems. This new awareness can help us to understanding what is really happening: we are called to help bring to others the treasure of Tradition that we have been able to preserve.
I think that would have been acceptable on its own - not to the liberal Cardinals and others who are opposed to the reconciliation of the Society - but acceptable to the Holy Father and his allies as a basis for agreement and a canonical status. The unfortunate sentence, I guess, might have been the one which preceded the above:
What has changed is the fact that Rome no longer makes total acceptance of Vatican II a prerequisite for the canonical solution.
Acceptance of Vatican II has to be a prerequisite, at least in the sense of affirming that there were no formal doctrinal errors. The hermeneutic of continuity provides a way forward for those passages about such matters as religious freedom and ecumenism that are controversial. Various writers - and I think particularly of Professor Tom Pink - have offered scholarly and convincingly-argued theses for the reconciliation of Dignitatis Humanae with Quanta Cura, and Unitatis Redintegratio with Quas Primas, showing that is is possible to understand controversial texts of Vatican II in accord with the tradition.

This does not mean that we have to say that they were opportune, that they led us forward into a bright new future, or that they must provide the point of reference for the Church's work in the world, simply that we can ("at a push" if you will) put an interpretation on them which is orthodox.

Bishop Fellay has his own fight within the SSPX which is now well-known. I entirely understand his desire to preserve unity within the Society. Pope Benedict also has a fight on his hands in the Curia. Perhaps part of the process of reconciliation is that both sides realise the civil war that the other is fighting.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Santa Cecilia in Trastevere

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Santa Cecilia in Trastevere was a refuge for me back in the day. The nuns sang Gregorian chant for the Mass each day (still do) and it was a foretaste of heaven, locus refrigerii lucis et pacis. Here is a photo of the inside:

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And here is the statue of St Cecilia by Stefano Maderno. He depicted her incorrupt body as he saw it when the tomb was opened in 1599. Notice the cut on the neck, and the hands showing one finger and three fingers as a profession of faith in the Holy Trinity. Just too beautiful for words.

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Santa Maria in Trastevere

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The inside:

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The apse mosaic:

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The picture of the Council of Trent:

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Change at the Pantheon

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The Pantheon, quintessentially Roman, tough, massive, with its nobly simple inscription, speaks to us both of the virtues that the Romans tried to cultivate in their better moments, and of the triumph of the Christian faith over paganism. It is now the Church of Santa Maria dei Martyri, Our Lady of the Martyrs, honouring all those who gave their lives for Christ under the persecution of the emperors.

When I was a student, the building was essentially a tourist venue. The altars were there but it was not taken seriously as a Church except for one or two occasions in the year, with celebrations that were seen as rather odd. What a change there is today! The altar is adorned with cloths, candles and relics; High Mass is celebrated in the traditional Roman use; visitors are urged to keep silence and it feels like a Church again.

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Here is a video, taken by John Sonnen a few years ago (the control of tourists is much tighter now):

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Request for Novena to Blessed Pius IX

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A priest friend of mine is ill in hospital. He has a special devotion to Blessed Pius IX. Could I ask you, of your charity, to say a Novena for his speedy recovery.
Novena In Honour of Blessed Pius IX

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, hear our prayers and glorify your servant Pius IX, who consecrated the Universal Church to you.
(Our Father...)

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you, hear our prayer and glorify your servant Pius IX who declared you Immaculate.
(Hail Mary...)

Saint Joseph, spouse of the most pure Virgin Mary, hear our prayer and glorify your servant Pius IX who declared you the Patron of the Universal Church.
(Glory be...)

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Mary, our Hope, and Saint Joseph hear our prayers and glorify your servant Pius IX , granting to us through his merits and intercessions the graces which we ardently desire: that the glory of God be revealed through Father's illness.
(Our Father..., Hail Mary..., Glory be...)

Monday, 11 June 2012

LMS Conference

IMG_9699Congratulations to the Latin Mass Society for organising such a great Conference on Saturday, and especially to Joe Shaw who chaired it.

Unfortunately, because of my parish schedule, I missed Dr John Rao and Stuart McCullough, and only caught the last part of Fr Z. The parish schedule was the introduction to my own talk which was about the traditional liturgy in the modern parish. The Revd John Hunwicke's talk combined erudition and wit, as you would expect. He received a very warm welcome and prayers for his forthcoming priestly ordination. The panel discussion of questions from those who came was a success, I think, adding an informal and sometimes light-hearted end to the day.

At these occasions I always meet old friends but generally there is someone I have not met before and want to. On Saturday I was pleased to meet for the first time Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King, the Rector of the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, New Brighton which was opened earlier this year.

Another first meeting was with Fr Michael Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists, who came to the Conference together with some of the brothers. They also joined us at the Old Explorer afterwards which might have been something new for the lads watching the football. By a great and much-appreciated providence of God, they came down to my parish yesterday and were able to stay afterwards for some pizza. I'm already planning the journey to Papa Stronsay and discussed the options with Brother Martin - I won't take the one that involves driving 679 miles to Thurso as the first leg.

Sodality of the Five Holy Wounds pilgrimage to Ramsgate

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With the Sodality of the Five Holy Wounds I'll be going down to the Shrine of St Augustine at Ramsgate for a Pilgrimage this Friday. We start with Missa Cantata at 12noon. Full details at the Sodality blog.

Augustus Welby Pugin built St Augustine's Church in Ramsgate next to his own house, "The Grange." He considered it his ideal Church, following exactly the principles that he promoted in the gothic revival. the Pilgrimage includes a tour of the Church by the Pugin Society and a talk by Fr Marcus Holden, the parish priest, about St Augustine and the significance of the Shrine. There will also be devotions, Benediction, and the veneration of the relic of St Augustine.

There is a Friends of St Augustine’s Church which was set up to support the restoration and repair of the Church

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Demos from the "I Spy" series

Treaty of trianon negotiations

After the LMS Conference, sitting in the Explorer with Fr Z and some of the assembled company. It is the kind of gathering where someone has to issue a denial that his friends are involved in the demonstration by some Hungarians in London against the signing of the Treaty of Trianon in 1920.


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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Vatileaks latest - if you are bothered

If you want to find out more about the Vatileaks scandal - and there is no particular reason why you should - Sandro Magister today has an article with information about Sant' Egidio and the Jesuits.

UPDATE: There is also a charming interview given by Cardinal Sodano who is disarmingly honest.

We're off to Trastevere this morning but will probably not be visiting the restaurant of the Sant' Egidio community, though I certainly do recommend it to you if you are in that part of Rome.


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Just, like, a random altar





At about 7.30 this morning, the chierichetto took me along to the nearest free altar, set up the altar cards and put the missal on the epistle side (they are all familiar with the usus antiquior) put the cruets out and went on his way.

So I got on with celebrating Mass for the feast of Corpus Christi, especially enjoying the simple Latin and profound theology of the Lauda Sion.

At Rome, there is so much brilliant stuff that you can forget just how brilliant it is. The "nearest free altar" just happened to be the altar of St Gregory the Great, with his body underneath. You know, the guy who sent St Augustine to England, composed square notey tunes, wrote collects and all that. Said Mass there this morning. Wow!

Popped along to the tomb of St Peter after Mass to get another indulgence and remember you all. If the tomb of St Peter is just a few yards away, you should visit it, I think. Be rude not to.


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Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Savouring our history

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Priceless maps from the archive, gory pictures of the execution of our martyrs, encouraging enthusiasm from future priests and most gracious hospitality from the Rector made for a splendid evening today at the Venerable English College

Mgr Nicholas Hudson (a fellow-student back in the day) made us welcome at supper and a tour of the Church at the English College. He also took out some of the most important items from the College Archive, including the Liber Ruber which records how St Ralph Sherwin, on being asked in the missionary oath whether he would return to England to give his life for the faith if necessary, said potius hodie quam cras - rather today than tomorrow.

We also pored over some 16th century maps that may well have been used by the martyrs to work out which routes to take when back in England and working under cover.

Much more to tell - and the Mulier Fortis has some good photos which will go on Flickr. Say a prayer for the students who are taking exams at the moment.


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Sorry to gloat

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We'll be getting the blessing from Pope Benedict a little later. Will include readers in my intentions.

And to the two lady parishioners who have been nagging me and issuing dire warnings lest I forget - I have your rosaries and will get them blessed by the Pope.

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Surprising the demons

Fr Z had a discussion about the blessing of Holy Water the other day, picked up by Rorate Caeli wondering What is it?

I always bless holy water using the traditional exorcisms and blessings. It is amusing to think of some demon, infesting someone's house or life, getting complacent at the thought of being sprinkled with water filled with good intentions, and then finding himself seared with salt and water exorcised with the power of Christ that he just wasn't expecting. (Apologies for the broken window as the demon flees in terror.)

You can see why the demons tried especially hard to stop the election of Pope Benedict and the publication of Summorum Pontificum.

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Monday, 4 June 2012

Catechesis – it can be done

The other day, I had to do a little examination of a home educated girl who is soon to make her first Holy Communion. I entirely trust her parents to catechise her suitably but they felt that it would be good if I checked things out, so as to add the authority of the priesthood to her preparation. Naturally I agreed to this, though I knew that she would be well educated.

So we looked through her workbook and she explained the pictures she had drawn to illustrate the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the difference between God, angels, men, animals, plants and minerals, the effect that sanctifying grace has on the soul, original sin, heaven, hell and purgatory, the distinction between mortal and venial sin, the effects of each of the seven sacraments – that sort of stuff.

I didn’t attempt to engage her on the Thomist-Scotist debate over whether the sacramental graces are distinct or whether they are all reducible to supernatural charity. After all, she is only 6 years old.

We. Can. Catechise. Children.


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Let's sort out these Vatileaks

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I like this picture of a streetsweeper in St Peter's Square with a reflection of the basilica in the windscreen. Fr Briggs, Mac, the Mulier Fortis and I are off to Gatwick in a few minutes to take an emergency flight to Rome to check on the Vatileaks scandal which has had a further development this morning.

Actually not really, this is holiday. We are staying at the Madri Pie (Via Alessandro III, 00165 Roma). Itinerary is not fixed but will probably include:
  • Mass early (7.20 ish) at St Peter's Tuesday
  • Centro Storico for shopping, lunch and visits to baroque Churches
  • Catch the end of the General Audience (from outside the barriers) Wednesday
  • Around Vatican, Borgo Pio etc. Wed lunchtime/early afternoon
  • Thursday as yet unconfirmed
I'll be online somehow, so if you want to meet up, email blackfencatholic@gmail.com and see if we can get together for a coffee or a beer, depending on the time of day.

Unfortunately I couldn't bring Big Stuart or Eddie to crack heads over the leaking of our beloved Pope Benedict's private papers. But if we hear anything, neither of them will be too pleased. Message: let the Holy Father do his job in peace.

Two fine books for the Novus Ordo

Although I often post here about the usus antiquior, I do celebrate the Novus Ordo in the parish for most of our public Masses. The concern of Pope Benedict to promote a renewed sense of the sacred in the celebration of Mass has had its effect in the publication of many books and resources - see New Liturgical Movement and the Musica Sacra if you are a Church musician and don't already know of the high quality, copyright-free resources that are there to help your choir aim for the best.

Two books that have kindly been sent to me by the publishers illustrate this trend. Les Editions de Solesmes have produced "Singing the Mass" which was put together by Christopher Barlow of Sydney, and approved by Cardinal Pell. It contains the sung Order of Mass in Latin and English, and a selection of Masses from the Gradual which would constitute an ambitious repertoire for a parish choir - much along the lines that my own has managed over the past few years. Musical notation is "square notes" throughout, which I think is sensible - choirs need to learn how to read the traditional notation and with practice, it becomes easier. The book looks and feels like something made for serious worship, printed beautifully on light, off-white paper. You can order copies from the Solesmes website at 25 euro each. There is a 50% discount for orders of more than 50 copies.



Another fine production is the new CTS Daily Missal. This is a substantial book, which contains readings for all Sundays and weekdays. The Order of Mass, marked with a coloured edge, has parallel texts in Latin and English, with the sung texts as provided in the new ICEL altar Missal, together with the corresponding Latin sung texts. Again beautifully bound and printed, with six coloured ribbons, this missal would be a treasure for those who go to daily mass. (The CTS also sell a Sunday only Missal.) In the tradition of hand missals for the people, there are plenty of devotional prayers included. The missal can be ordered for £45 from the CTS.

These resources are a reminder of the value that we place on the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and of all materials associated with it. The tell us in their own way, that we only give the best to Almighty God.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

CD 259 on the physical resurrection

I heard that St Paul spoke of a “spiritual body” after the resurrection and that that Christ was not physically present when he appeared to the disciples after the resurrection. Did Jesus have a physical body after the resurrection?

St Thomas Aquinas considers the question of Christ’s body after the resurrection, and how a physical human body could go through closed doors, vanish from sight, and be unrecognisable in appearance. (Summa Theologica 3a 54.1) He refers to St Luke’s account of the appearance of Christ to the alarmed apostles, and his reassurance: “See my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Handle, and see: for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.” (Luke 24.39) Our Lord then ate some cooked fish with them. In St John’s gospel, we have the account of St Thomas, and the very physical nature of Jesus’ invitation: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side (Jn 20.27)

The idea that Christ’s risen body was not physical was refuted as long ago as the second century by St Irenaeus, writing against the Gnostics who denied the goodness of the flesh. The fourth Lateran Council stated of Christ: “He descended in the soul, rose in the flesh, and ascended in both.”

After the resurrection, Our Lord’s body was “glorified”: that is to say, it had some properties that are not shared by those who have not risen from the dead. His post-resurrection appearances to the disciples are an encouragement for us to look forward to our own resurrection when we will share the glory of His risen body. The people that Jesus raised from the dead (Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the young man of Naim) returned to an earthly life and would die again. Our Lord’s resurrection was not a return to an earthly life but a transcendent event in which he passed from death to the state in which his human body was glorified. In this physical yet glorified body he appeared to the disciples and invited them to the response of faith.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.


Friday, 1 June 2012

Vatileaks and the PBI

I don't think that you need to be too hardened a cynic to suspect that the arrest of the Holy Father's butler, Paolo Gabriele, is not the end of the story and that there might be others of a rather higher ecclesiastical rank who are involved.

It is difficult to make sense of the the affair - secular newspapers certainly have some good copy involving scandal, leaks, corruption, and a chance to have a dig at "The Vatican", though they have not really come up with any convincing attack. After a quite extensive search the other day, I was unable to find any real information about the actual content of the leaks - I have not ordered a copy of Gianluigi Nuzzi's book, though I might not be able to resist the temptation to pick up a copy in Rome next week.

As an answer to prayer, John Allen posted the necessary article earlier today, Pondering the 'what,' not the 'who,' of Vatileaks. This sets out the basic information. (Sandro, the magisterial vaticanista, also has a helpful article on The Hunt for Thieves in the Vatican)

It is all very much an Italian affair. To take just one instance, Archbishop Vigano was tasked with cleaning up certain financial aspects of the Vatican's operations. He was more thorough than he was meant to be, made enemies in the process, and got moved to be the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington. If you want to understand Vatican politics, bear in mind that this post - to what would in most countries be considered a high honour - was in fact a demotion.

It will take some time to get those working in the Vatican to realise that they have to adopt generally accepted standards of transparency in financial affairs. In the meantime, there will be backstabbing, counter allegations, attempts to smear people, and a gradual and painful recognition that some things do actually have to change.

We PBI (poor bloody infantry) the footsloggers in parishes and lay apostolates can basically get on with our lives and our work. The whole affair is one more reason for me to thank God that I have not been called to serve in the curia. I don't think I would last a fortnight without punching someone fairly senior in the face.

What is abundantly clear is that the Holy Father himself is not implicated, whatever the insinuations of the press. The affair is important enough in Vatican terms to have elicited a reference in Wednesday's General Audience address. The Holy Father said: “Events in recent days regarding the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart.” He went on to make the point, obvious to informed Catholics though we always need to be reminded of it, that we are sustained by “the firm conviction that despite human weakness, despite the difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, has never diminished – and the Lord will never fail to give His aid in sustaining the Church on her journey.”

Another news item, from La Stampa's Vatican Insider, dishes the dirt on how Blessed John Paul II was spied on by the priests closest to him. Even with information on the level of what he had for breakfast, how much alcohol he drank, who supplied his underwear, and what medication he had in his bathroom cabinet, the commies were unable to find anything to pin on him.

Two things always come to my mind in these sort of scandals. First is that St John Fisher and St Thomas More were willing to go to the block on Tower Hill (District and Circle line - opposite the Tower of London, look for the Cross in the middle of the garden) for the authority of the Pope despite the fact that during their lifetime there had been Popes such as Alexander VI, Leo X and Julius II who were not exactly shining examples of Christian morality. We are greatly blessed that the Popes of our lifetime are holy men.

The second is one of my favourite quotations from the Blessed John Henry Newman. In chapter 7 of his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, he wrote:
Now, the Rock of St. Peter on its summit enjoys a pure and serene atmosphere, but there is a great deal of Roman malaria at the foot of it.
Still true today.

Modernity is old-fashioned



Another good video from CNS - Fr Kramer of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in Urbe speaks of the attraction that young people have to tradition. As he points out, "young people who have grown up with parents who have lived more freely, lets say, have suffered as a result" and "modernity now for young people is old-fashioned."

"Heresy" - Michael Coren's new book


The title of his last book was "Why Catholics are Right." Michael Coren continues to be unafraid of controversy with the publication of his new book "Heresy." He looks at the popular media and the "lies they spread about Christianity", addressing some of the most common prejudices, such as the idea that Jesus didn't exist (a bafflingly popular "view" among the young), the claim that atheists are clever and Christians are stupid, the utterly false supposition that Christians are opposed to science, and the notion that Christians are opposed to change and progress.

Michael Coren is at the epicentre of the new evangelisation as conceived by Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict, helping to re-evangelise the secular culture of the West. Living in Canada and fronting his ownTV show, The Arena on the Sun News Network, he comes face to face with the world of secular prejudice against Catholicism on a daily basis - and fights back with intelligence and verve.

Though well researched, Heresy is not presented as a scholarly tome but a hard-hitting, honest and readable refutation of the nonsense that Catholics have to face from colleagues and lapsed family members. With this book at your fingertips it will be easier to come up with answers to the tired clichés that leave many good Catholics struggling for an answer.

Heresy is available on Amazon in the UK:



For US readers, here is a link to the American Amazon page.

LMS 9 June Conference reminder

Just a reminder about the Latin Mass Society conference at Regent Hall on Oxford Street on Saturday 9 June. Speakers are:
Fr John Zuhlsdorf (What Does The Prayer Really Say)
Me
Dr John Rao (of 'The Roman Forum')
John Hunwicke (of the Ordinariate)
Stuart McCullough (Good Counsel Network)
I'm really looking forward to this day and the chance to meet up with friends. Saturdays are normally impossible for me, and I must necessarily ration quite severely the events that I take part in on Saturdays so that I don't neglect my responsibilities in the parish. By way of exception I have supply priests on hand to care for the parish activities on 9 June and will be free to take part in what promises to be a great event.

Tickets are available from the LMS (020 7404 7284 or see other contact information at the website.) Members £15, non-members £20. Buffet lunch and drinks £9 supplement. Regent Hall is opposite BHS, about five minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube station. The conference runs from 10am to 6pm.
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