Tuesday, 30 October 2012

What liturgy used to be like

Fascinating footage from the restoration of Pluscarden Abbey to Catholic worship in 1948. The crowds are impressive, with people sitting precariously on various bits of stonework.

The liturgy looks rather haphazard by today's standards, reminding me of some of the footage of papal liturgies under Blessed John XXIII on YouTube. I suppose that television has had an influence in making MCs faff around less obviously.

It may be that there is also some "mutual enrichment" in that priests who say the usus antiquior Mass do not rush through it in 15 minutes, and High Masses, even with sacred ministers who are not too familiar with the rites, tend to be less obviously shambolic.

It could also be suggested that back in the 1940s people had a greater sense of the objective value of the Liturgy and did not worry so much about what it looked like. I don't think I buy that.

H/T New Liturgical Movement. The video was posted to YouTube by A Wandering Oblate.

Rowan Atkinson on freedom of speech

There is more to this question than just the freedom to insult people - there are some kinds of speech that should be prohibited in a civilised society. Still, Rowan Atkinson is right on the ludicrous consequences of Section 5 of the Public Order Act and it is entertaining to hear him put the case.

H/T to LifeSite News

Sunday, 28 October 2012

More photos fo the Forty Hours at Blackfen

Mac McLernon at Mulier Fortis has posted some more photos of our Quarant' Ore.

2012-10-25 21.07.32
Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium

2012-10-25 21.12.50
Tantum ergo sacramentum veneremur cernui

2012-10-26 20.20.37
Da pacem, Domine

2012-10-27 10.29.10
Early morning, set up for the Missa coram Sanctissimo

There are more photos at Mac's Flickr set

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The blessing of the Forty Hours

Our Forty Hours finished this morning with 10.30am Mass coram sanctissimo. It is a great blessing to be able to have such a devotion in the parish. People are generous in giving their time, day and night, to come and watch before Our Lord, and I have not doubt they will receive many blessings from Him. It is good for the priest too, to be there on the sanctuary as a priest (with cotta and white stole) praying together with his people, "a member of each family yet belonging to none."

I think that Our Lord works powerfully through this devotion, as though the illumination of His presence goes beyond those who come and watch, and passes through closed doors throughout the parish. Perhaps a marriage will be saved, or a man converted, or some discord settled. We do not know how Christ will use the little that we offer Him.

On a more mundane note, we have now more or less got the candle drill sorted. The thinnest candles, those in the Benediction candelabra, last about seven hours, though draughts and changes of temperature (last night was only just above freezing outside) can make some of them misbehave. The photo above is from a previous year - some of the candles were too close to each other and couldn't stand the heat. This year we reduced to a modest thirty candles and they mostly burned politely.

It has been a busy few weeks, liturgy-wise. The anniversary of the consecration of the Church is on 2 October, and the feast day on 7 October. With the Quarant' Ore Masses and tomorrow being Sunday, that will mean four Missae Cantatae in as many days. Next week will be the same, with All Saints, All Souls, the visiting schola on Saturday and the normal parish Mass on Sunday. I have booked a couple of days off after that and I'm beginning to feel that I will need it. Next year, I think we'll move the Forty Hours to early summer.

Good advice on promoting vocations

At the Colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Fr Stephen Langridge, Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, gave a presentation explaining the rationale of vocations promotion and in particular, the change of model from recruitment to discernment.

He quoted Pope Benedict who pointed out that the priesthood is not like other professions: we cannot simply recruit people by using the right kind of publicity. We need to accompany those who are discerning their vocation, and be ready to give spiritual direction and advice. If a young man confides that he thinks he might have a vocation, it is no good telling him to come back after he has finished at university.

Fr Langridge pointed out that the process of discernment involves a conversion of life - turning away from sin, especially habits of sin, being involved with the service of others, and developing a structured rule of life appropriate to one who is considering preparing for sacred ministry.

At the same time, there is a need for conversion of mind - many young men come to the discernment of a vocation with a background of poor catechesis. Knowing the teaching of the Church and studying the Catechism can help to avoid the kind of problematic behaviour such as when a young man goes on various Catholic events and takes part in devotions, but reverts to a pagan lifestyle when away from the Church or the group or movement which nurtures his life of faith. On the path toward the seminary, it is important to know what needs be in the kitbag, but also what needs to be thrown overboard.

Fr Langridge is currently engaged, with the help of seminarians, in preparing the new Southwark Vocations Centre (see various posts on the Southwark Vocations blog.) His talk to the priests was both encouraging and challenging, and will help priests themselves to discern how they can promote vocations.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Report on the Colloquium of the British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy

CCC Reading 064

Quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum.” The Colloquium of the British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy was a great success. I missed lunch, having to travel after my morning duties in the parish, but arrived in time for the first Mass, celebrated by Bishop Philip Egan. An entertaining point in his sermon was his emphasis on the fostering of union with Christ which cannot be brought about by programmes or structures. He said that he did not believe in the doctrine of sola structura. Bishop Egan also encouraged us to make our own his desire to be humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous.

Fr Michael Lang spoke in the evening on the subject of “Fifty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, Towards a New Liturgical Movement.” As we have come to expect from such a scholar, his lecture was informative, amusing, and encouraging. I look forward to reviewing it again when it is published in due course.

Yesterday morning we were treated to superb presentation from Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, vice-President of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, on “What is the New Evangelisation and why does it matter?” Archbishop di Noia is very widely read, and gave something of a master class on the question of evangelisation and its themes as relevant to the evangelisation of formerly Christian countries.

Later the Archbishop was celebrant at Mass. Indicative of the richness of this Colloquium, the sermon was given by Mgr Keith Newton. The point that I particularly took away from his sermon was the responsibility given to priests for catechesis. We rightly involve lay people but must not simple devolve our priestly task of passing on the mysteries of the faith.

The Ordinariate were well represented at the Colloquium, as well as many old friends. I was delighted to see Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett who happened providentially to be in England at the right time. Bishop Jarrett has been a sterling supporter of the Australian CCC and it was good to hear from him about developments there.

The last talk of the Colloquium was from Fr Andrew Pinsent on Science, Grace and Catholic Enlightenment, raising matters for discussion on these questions.

The Liturgy at the Colloquium was very much part of the reform of the reform. The Masses were celebrated in the Novus Ordo with the ordinary and propers in Latin and the rest of the texts in English. Priests either concelebrated or attending in choro, some having celebrated private Masses earlier in the morning. After my own 7am Mass, I made my thanksgiving by serving Fr Hunwicke’s Low Mass. As a priest I enjoy serving for other priest’s Masses – it is a way of reminding oneself of the real meaning of participation at Mass – something that the priest needs to be aware of himself.


There were nearly 100 priests present this year. The CCC is growing rapidly and it is especially good to have prelates attending and participating in an exercise that reminds us of our responsibilities, challenges us to think more deeply and draws us into the breadth of life of the universal Church. Many thanks to those who organised the Colloquium. Please pray that this priestly fraternity will grow and flourish.

More photos at my Flickr set

(Any texts will appear at the Confraternity website so please refer there rather thank asking in the comments box here.)

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Ordinariate's Customary printed

The new Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham has been published, and a fine book it looks, too. It contains the office for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the psalms in the Coverdale translation, and the office arranged according to the calendar for the Ordinariate.

I'm rather hoping to have choral evensong at Blackfen during the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.

There are more photos of the new book at the Ordinariate's Flickr set and there is a report by Mgr Andrew Burnham at the Ordinariate website.

You can buy a copy from Amazon:

Celebrate the good of marriage while we still can

The Coalition for Marriage have produced this short and simple video celebrating the good of marriage. It would be a good idea for Christians to produce more publicity of this sort while we still can.

It seems that even before any law is passed redefining marriage, people are being discriminated against for speaking in a way that recognises and upholds marriage as between a man and a woman.

For example, Adrian Smith commented on his Facebook page that permitting same-sex ‘marriages’ to take place in churches was “an equality too far”. The taxpayer-funded Trafford Housing Trust judged that he was guilty of gross misconduct and demoted from his managerial post with a consequent cut of 40% in his pay. The Christian Institute is supporting his legal fight against this action. (See the report from Christian Concern.)

And there was me thinking that our rule of democracy meant that people were able to debate the rights and wrongs of proposed new laws.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

More from LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford


A new Facebook profile picture, possibly. I reported last week about the Latin Mass Society Aylesford Pilgrimage. Joe Shaw has published a Flickr set of photos and written a report. Matthew Schellhorn, Director of Cantus Magnus which provided music for the Mass has also written a report for LMS Southwark North. There you can find my sermon on St Edward the Confessor.

Papal fanon reappears

This morning at Mass, the Holy Father wore the Fanon, a vestment reserved to the Pope alone and worn by him at Pontifical Mass.

Southern Order also reports that the Old Testament Lesson, Responsorial Psalm and Epistle were proclaimed from the Epistle side of the altar and the Gospel from the Gospel side of the altar.

As Fr Z would say: Brick by Brick

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The infallibility of Canonisation

Pope Pius XII canonising St Maria Goretti

It is a theologically certain doctrine that the canonisation of a saint is an infallible act of the Church's magisterium. I thought it might be useful to set down here some of the arguments that have been used by theologians. Just to be clear: the question is whether the doctrine:
"That the canonisation of a saint is an infallible act of the Church's magisterium."
is itself theologically certain.

In his Quodlibets, St Thomas considered the question. Having affirmed that it was impossible for the Church to err in matters of faith, he went on to say:
“Because the honour which we show to the saints is a certain profession of faith by which we believe in the glory of the saints, it should be devoutly believed that not even in these matters can the judgement of the Church err.”
(This is usually quoted in older books as Quodlibet 9.16 At the Corpus Thomisticum, you can find it at [68756] Quodlibet IX, q.8 corpus.)

Then a couple of references from the Jesuit Sacrae Theologiae Summa Vol 1 p.742 (My translations - and I am not able to double-check the references given):

Suarez said of the infallibility of canonisation:
"Although it is not de fide, I judge that it is sufficiently certain and that the contrary is impious and temerarious." (De Fide d.5 s.8 n.8)
Benedict XIV noted that some older theologians denied the infallibility of decrees of canonisation but said that this divergence only proved that, on this point as with others, discussion was possible before the Catholic view was definitively fixed in the Schools. Defending this teaching, he said of the opinion which denied the infallibility of canonisation:
“If it is not heretical, it is nevertheless temerarious, bringing scandal to the whole Church ... savouring of heresy ... We say that he is the upholder of an erroneous proposition who dares to assert that the Pontiff in this or that Canonisation has erred, that this or that Saint canonised by him should not be honoured with the cult of dulia.” (De Canonisatione Sanctorum L.1 c.43 n.3)
(The cult or veneration of dulia is a traditional way of referring to the veneration due to the saints as opposed to the cult of latria, or simply adoration, which is due to God alone and may not be given to any created thing or person.)

We can understand why canonisation must be infallible if we consider the difference between beatification and canonisation. Beatification is the permission of veneration locally or for particular groups. Such veneration is not commanded but tolerated and permitted.

In the case of canonisation, the Church not only tolerates and permits the veneration of a person but commends and prescribes such veneration to the whole Church. In the Church’s mission of leading the faithful to salvation, it is necessary that the formal and solemn presentation of a person by the supreme Pontiff as one who is to be imitated and venerated perpetually, should be part of the infallible magisterium of the Church.

Theologians further discuss whether the infallibility extends to the judgement that the saint had heroic virtues or simply to the judgement that the saint is in fact in heaven. The latter is more probable since the good of the Church does not require that every aspect of the canonisation process is flawless, only that Christ preserves the Church from requiring universal veneration of someone who is not in heaven.

So although we all want to give the Pope the benefit of our wisdom on how the canonisation process might be improved (and I don't claim that everything in the garden is rosy) we are nevertheless bound to believe that the saints that he does canonise are in heaven and worthy of our veneration.

Marie Stopes Belfast - Mass to pray for its closure

Pro-abortionists have long been determined to introduce abortion to Northern Ireland, despite the majority of people from both Catholic and Protestant communities being opposed.

Sadly, Marie Stopes opened a new clinic in Belfast on Thursday, offering medical abortions up to nine weeks. There was a well-attended protest on the opening day. Latin Mass Belfast has the following announcement:
A Votive Mass of the Holy Angels will be offered in St Mary's Parish Church, Chapel Lane, Belfast, BT1 1HH on Tuesday, 30th October at 7pm. It will be offered with the intention of the closure of the new abortion facility in Belfast and the conversion of heart of those who would destroy their unborn children or help them in doing so.

Friday, 19 October 2012

CD 263 on being late for Mass

If I am late for Mass, at what point have I failed to fulfil the Sunday Mass obligation? For example if I miss the Gospel, have I missed Mass?

In older manuals of moral theology, this subject was discussed extensively. In the first place, it was always stated, and remains the case today, that Catholics are under obligation to attend the whole of Mass on days of precept. The answer to the question “When am I late for Mass?” is the same then as now: “If you arrive after it has started.”

The secondary question that was asked by the manualists, and considered at length, was what omission would constitute a mortal sin rather than a venial sin. Briefly, the answer is that it is grievous matter to miss a part of the Mass that is notable either because of its length or its importance. I would rather not go into the calculation of what is “notable” because we should regard all of the parts of the Mass as important, rather than trying to rank them so that we only commit a venial sin. Nevertheless, if someone were to miss the whole of the Liturgy of the Word, they would not fulfil the obligation of attending Mass and should go to another Mass if possible unless there is a reasonable excusing cause.

A further consideration is that nowadays, most people who attend Mass receive Holy Communion. This requires something more of us than simply fulfilling the obligation of attending Mass. It is true that devout participation in the liturgy of the Mass itself is a good preparation for Holy Communion but we should also make some special preparation and thanksgiving for Holy Communion in addition to the brief opportunities provided during the course of the Mass.

Such preparation can be made at home, but this may be difficult in a busy household. It is a good practice to try to arrive at least a few minutes before Mass, and to stay for a while afterwards to give ourselves space for some private prayer to enrich our participation in the Mass and our devotion at Holy Communion.

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

Ordinariate Day Conference on Evangelisation

The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are holding a Day Conference for members and supporters on Friday 9 November at St Patrick's, Soho Square. The focus is on the new evangelisation as part of the development of the mission of the Ordinariate. See the Ordinariate website for full details.

The day concludes with Mass celebrated by Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary. Interestingly, the Mass will be celebrated according to the Book of Divine Worship which is permitted for use in the Personal Ordinariates. Clergy wishing to assist in choir at the Mass should bring cassock, surplice/cotta, and white stole.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Laity! Don't for heaven's sake read the texts of Vatican II

Poster for talks on Vatican II at Blackfen. We will be looking at the texts.

For some time, various pressure-groups have been urging us to rediscover Vatican II, to celebrate those halcyon days when everything changed and we realised that the Church of the fifties was dead and a new dawn was breaking upon us – a New Pentecost, no less.

Now that the Year of Faith has begun, and many parishes are busily dusting off their copies of the documents of Vatican II, a new fear is beginning to stalk the land: “Vatican II fundamentalism.” There has been some nostalgia for the days when the young priest cast away his collar and took up a guitar, Latin was thrown out, and dissent from the teaching of the magisterium became widespread. This is rapidly giving way to panic that the People of God might actually read the documents – this would be disastrous because they will not see between the lines to the hidden meaning, and will only read the bad bits.

They will learn that Vatican II taught that the Pope is infallible, that we should give religious assent of mind and will to his teaching even when he is not infallible, that Latin should be retained as the language of the Church, that “both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence”, that Catholics “may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law” and other embarrassing assertions that should be left covered in a reverent silence.

For the "true believers" in the hidden meaning of Vatican II, the prospect of the laity discovering the texts is indeed a worry. There is a panicked scramble now to protect people from naively reading the actual documents of the Council as though they had an authority over and above the experiments in liturgy, doctrine and morals which followed in its wake.

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict’s indulgence is for lectures in the Acta of the Council – the last thing that the "true believers" want.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Last chance to book for CCC Colloquium

There is still just time to book for the Colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy (details at the website) but you need to do so today, or tomorrow (Wednesday 17th) at the latest.

As I mentioned before, there is a great line-up of speakers, including the newly appointed Bishop Egan of Portsmouth. With nearly 100 priests attending so far, this promises to be a great get-together.

Monday, 15 October 2012

New edition of Ronald Knox Bible from Baronius Press

Baronius Press today launches its new edition of the Knox version of the Bible.

Mgr Ronald Knox translated the Bible according to the classical English pattern (now found more commonly in the United States) rendering the text accurately into good English so that it would sound as if an Englishman had written it.

I have a 1955 edition given to me on the occasion of my Confirmation by my great-aunt, "Auntie Stella" who was "Mother Theresa" in the Daughters of Jesus. I took it with me to Rome as a student. One year (I think as an optional course in second cycle) I went to lectures given by a kindly American priest on the redaction criticism of the gospels. I think that he wanted to check that people were present, so he would look down his list, select a name and ask the person to read the passage under consideration from the bible that he had with him. He would then ask which translation the student had used. In a slightly mischievous frame of mind, once I saw that this was done regularly, and that the normal answer was "the new American Bible, Father" or "The Jerusalem Bible, Father", I made sure to be prepared. It was fun to get the chance to answer in a slightly hammed-up Oxford accent "The Ronald Knox version, Father."

Along with a summary of his principles of translation which are well worth reading, Mgr Knox details in his book "On Englishing the Bible" some of the problems that and frustrations that he encountered in getting his translation approved by the Bishops. It is immensely sad to consider that just a few years after his death, the hierarchy gave approval for the liturgical use of the vastly inferior translation of the "Jerusalem Bible" with which we most Catholics have been lumbered ever since. (A copy of "On Englishing the Bible" comes free with the new Baronius edition of his translation.)

Baronius has the objective of producing fine quality books in durable binding, completely re-typeset (rather than facsimiles). Paradoxically, this is a strategy well-suited to the age of the e-book reader. There is little point nowadays in buying a cheap glued paperback when you can put the text on an e-book reader, but the delight of really well produced books will stay with us, and we need publishers like Baronius to produce fine books. They have also worked with to make the text available online, recognising the worth of electronic texts alongside fine editions of those texts.

There is more information at the dedicated Knox Bible site. The Bible is available for £39.95 (UK) $54.95 (USA) from Baronius Press.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

St Edward, Blessed Alexandrina and Fatima


Rather a rich day, devotionally speaking, when it is the feast of St Edward the Confessor, also of Blessed Alexandrina da Costa, and the anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, coupled with the miracle of the sun.

After my own Low Mass, Exposition, Confessions and Benediction in the parish, I set my trusty Hyundai off on the A2 to Aylesford, a lovely location to celebrate further. Today was the Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Aylesford. We had Missa Cantata with John Taverner's Kyrie "Leroy", the rest of the Mass being his "Western Wynde". The singers were the group Cantus Magnus, led by Matthew Schellhorn, the LMS representative for Southwark North.

For the sermon, I concentrated on St Edward the Confessor, relating his saintly preservation of peace in the realm to the need for spiritual peace today in the face of of sin, the moral corruption of the young, the redefinition of marriage and the increasing encroachment of the state on the rights of the family. The sermon will be posted in due course.

For the talk later in the afternoon, I turned to Blessed Alexandrina da Costa. This was from notes and so will not be published here. (I have had to prepare two sermons, and three talks for Friday to Sunday and have not had time to get them all into publishable form.) I gave a potted life of Blessed Alexandrina: you can find a good summary of her life at the Vatican website, there is more information at Blessed Alexandrina, and Kevin Rowles has written a short life which introduced me to her, and which I warmly recommend.

The lesson which I drew from her life is that God raised up some truly great souls in the early 20th century, in advance of the terrible atrocities that were committed through war, genocide and the killing of millions through atheistic communism. The spiritual devastation of the West after the World Wars should also be seen as a disaster, even within the Church herself.

I did urge people to optimism in England at the present time, with the prospect of many episcopal appointments soon to be made. I suggested that if people really could not bring themselves to be optimistic, they should at least prepare for the possibility that things might get better in a quite brief space of time, and for the challenges that such an improvement would put before us.

Naturally, at the home of the brown scapular, in front of the relic of St Simon Stock who received the brown scapular from our Lady, I finished the day, after Rosary and Benediction, with the enrolment. Actually most of the congregation were already enrolled but I was glad that there was one person so that we could have the prayers from the ritual.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Savile, the BBC and the Church

Have a look at the BBC's Obituary of Jimmy Savile from 29 October 2011. Here are some quotations which, I think, can be pasted without the need for me to add comments:
In his distinctive Yorkshire tones, the words "Now then, now then" meant Sir Jimmy Savile was getting down to business.
He was on BBC television for nearly two decades from 1974 in his guise as a perennial Santa Claus, granting viewers' wishes from his magic chair on Jim'll Fix It.
He personally helped the nursing staff at Leeds Infirmary and ran the entertainments section of Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital.
For more than three decades, Savile was most actively involved with the spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. He stayed there so often he had his own suite.
Some questioned the motivation of the man behind such a singular public persona, but his energy and ability were beyond doubt.
A self-professed loner, he nevertheless made an indelible impression on his audiences and, by virtue of his charity work, touched many lives.
There is also a respectful video of the star, with the observation that he was an "enigma."

The article also mentions his papal knighthood which brings me to the reason for posting about this serial sexual predator. In February I wrote about the Double standards that were being applied despite credible allegations being raised about Savile's behaviour towards children. Had these been allegations against a priest, the Church would have been rightly attacked for failing to do anything to  prevent the abuse continuing. As I put it then:
The celebrity in question took part in Church events involving children, notably at Lourdes. Perhaps the Bishops might ask the BBC why they were not informed about the possibility of his being a risk to minors. Imagine the furore if the Church had supplied a priest for a children's programme on the BBC and failed to communicate a reasonable safeguarding concern.
It has taken a media furore and dozens of allegations to drag the BBC reluctantly to admit that there might have been something wrong, that people knew about it at the time. Some Catholic bloggers have said that we must not gloat, and that is quite right. What I think we can do is to observe that the BBC has made, and is continuing to make a carbon copy of all the mistakes which Catholic Bishops made, and worse. At least some of the Bishops sent men for therapy, albeit in the mistaken belief that this would stop them from offending further. In the case of the BBC it seems that Savile's behaviour was dismissed as part of the "fun" culture and excused because he was such a jolly chap.

So gloating, no. But a reasonable highlighting of breathtaking hypocrisy, yes, I think so. And the Bishops have a right to raise the question of why information relevant to the protection of children was not shared.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

James MacMillan at Year of Faith Mass

James MacMillan with students at the Faith Conference in 2010

James MacMillan, the Scots composer whose music was part of the Papal Masses at Glasgow, Birmingham and Westminster during the Papal visit to the UK, is in Rome this morning for the Mass to launch the Year of Faith. He is there to represent the artists of the world at this celebration with 400 Bishops and 60,000 pilgrims.

On BBC Radio's "Good Morning Scotland" programme, David Kerr of the Catholic News Agency speaks about this event and about James MacMillan. You can listen to the piece for the next seven days at this iPlayer link. The three minute segment starts at about 1hr 20min.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

"October Baby" pro-life film evening

Going out to see a good film at the cinema with friends is always a good night out. Even better if it is a private showing of a pro-life film and there are loads of other pro-life people there. So if you are free on Thursday 18 October, join Good Counsel Network and 40 Days for Life at Notting Hill.

Good Counsel Network are in the good position of already having more mothers who want their help in keeping their babies, as a result of the 40 Days for Life campaign. They are always in need of funds for their direct pro-life work and the showing of the film will also help them with much-needed funds.
Good Counsel Network and 40 Days for Life Presents October Baby
October Baby is a must see Pro-life film and will be showing for one night only at the Notting Hill Coronet Cinema, 103 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LB on Thursday 18th October at 6.30 pm.

Please note this is a PG-13 (in America) rated film, so should be suitable for all the family. 
This film has been described as "a major blessing to our movement" by Fr Frank Pavone and a "Powerful, emotionally charged and worthy of every accolade the film industry has to offer." by Judie Brown, President of the American Life League. 
Tickets are £10 if reserved in advance which is strongly recommended due to very high demand for tickets. 
Call Good Counsel Network today to reserve your ticket on 0207 723 1740 or email or direct message us.
The address of the Coronet Cinema is 103 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3LB. It is very near to Notting Hill Gate tube station

Fr Hunwicke returns to the blogosphere

In June 2011, Fr Hunwicke stopped blogging because of a misunderstanding of the content of his blog, which he regretted. He did post the news of his ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood earlier this year, but has now, Laus Deo, started blogging again in earnest.

The blog is now called Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment, though it has the same URL. In the first new post, he has some good news from the Birmingham Oratory and an interesting snippet about Newman.

Welcome back to the blogosphere, Father!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

C4M holds the largest fringe meeting at Tory conference

The Coalition for Marriage yesterday put on the largest fringe meeting of this year's Conservative Party Conference. About a thousand people turned out to hear speakers defend the institution of marriage against its proposed redefinition, supported by the Prime Minister. Even the BBC admitted that
David Cameron could only dream of this sort of fervour when he delivers his big conference speech on Wednesday.
The Coalition for Marriage petition has over 600,000 signatures to date. If you have forgotten to sign up, you can do so now.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Parish Feast Day

We had a wonderful day today, celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen. First of all sung English Mass with the texts sung and a delightfully brisk "Daily Daily sing to Mary" at the offertory. Then Fr James Bradley of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrated High Mass, assisted by Fr Bernard McNally as Deacon and myself as Subdeacon. Fr Bradley managed to bring into his excellent sermon the battle of Lepanto, our spiritual battle today, and the place of the Ordinariate in the Church.

After Mass, Christopher Lamb interviewed some of us about Vatican II for the Radio 4 Sunday  programme to be broadcast next Sunday morning. He got quite a lot of material so it will be interesting to see how the piece is put together. I'll post a link when the programme is broadcast.

After meeting people in the parish club, a group of us repaired with Fr Bradley to one of our favourite restaurants for Sunday - a Chinese restaurant in Bexleyheath which is packed on weekend evenings with young people for Karaoke sessions but is quiet at Sunday lunchtime.

Then back for evening Mass, signing school forms and a drive around to Wonersh for my lectures first thing tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

There ain't no tropes in the Agnus Dei

Jeffrey Tucker at The Chant Café has an article on the welcome news of a minor step forward in the reform of the reform. The Congregation for Divine Worship has asked the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops to change its musical guidelines so that the insertion of unauthorised texts into the middle of the Agnus Dei is no longer approved.

The headline which showed up on my google desktop, google reader, and various other reminders was "No more tropes in the Agnus Dei." I knew that this reminded me of something and this evening it came to me. It is Mrs Ape's famous hymn "There ain't no flies on the Lamb of God" which features during a rough sea passage in Vile Bodies. The reference deserves to be quoted in context:
To Father Rothschild no passage was worse than any other. He thought of the sufferings of the saints, the mutability of human nature, the Four Last Things, and between whiles repeated snatches of the penitential psalms. 
The Leader of his Majesty's Opposition lay sunk in a rather glorious coma, made splendid by dreams of Oriental imagery – of painted paper houses; of golden dragons and gardens of almond blossom; of golden limbs and almond eyes, humble and caressing; of very small golden feet among almond blossoms; of little painted cups full of golden tea; of a golden voice singing behind a painted paper screen; of humble, caressing little golden hands and eyes shaped like almonds and the colour of night. 
Outside his door two very limp detective sergeants had deserted their posts. 
'The bloke as could make trouble on a ship like this 'ere deserves to get away with it,' they said. 
The ship creaked in every plate, doors slammed, trunks fell about, the wind howled; the screw, now out of the water, now in, raced and churned, shaking down hatboxes like ripe apples; but above all the roar and clatter there rose from the second-class ladies' saloon the despairing voices of Mrs Ape's angels, in frequently broken unison, singing, singing, wildly, desperately, as though their hearts would break in the effort and their minds lose their reason, Mrs Ape's famous hymn, There ain't no flies on the Lamb of God
The Captain and the Chief Officer sat on the bridge engrossed in a crossword puzzle.

Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith

The Sacred Penitentiary has announced a plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith. Here are links to the official text (Latin) and to the summary at

Indulgences are an important and neglected part of the life of the Church. Pope Paul VI's Indulgentiarum Doctrina is the best exposition of the theology and practice of indulgences that I have read. I don't necessarily agree with all the practical reforms (but, of course, I observe them in obedience to the Church) but Pope Paul VI added an important magisterial teaching to that of the Council of Trent which had to focus on eradicating abuses. For example, Pope Paul explains the benefit of indulgences for us:

  • They teach us how sad and bitter it is to have abandoned the Lord God by sin (cf. Jer 2.19)
  • They teach us how closely we are united to each other in Christ
  • And therefore they encourage charity in us, especially when we apply indulgences to those who have died.

If you are not sure about indulgences, I do recommend reading the text of Indulgentiarum Doctrina.

The indulgence for the Year of Faith can be gained by attending three sermons during a Mission or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This was music to my ears since I have in fact planned to give three talks on Vatican II this autumn, and three talks on the Catechism in the spring. (In the summer I will also do three talks on the New Evangelisation and we will finish up with Solemn Benediction and the Profession of Faith - knowing my people here, we will probably also have the solemn Salve, Te Deum, prayers for the Pope, and a procession of some sort.)

Another way of gaining the indulgence is by visiting papal basilicas, catacombs cathedrals or other holy sites designated by the Ordinary. One example of a site that the Ordinary might delegate is a minor basilica. Over lunch today between Missa Cantata and Vespers, I suggested light-heartedly that Blackfen should be designated since we were at least aspiring to be a minor basilica. In fact, our Ordinary will probably designate Aylesford which I am sure we could live with. This indulgence is "quotiescumque": in other words you can gain the indulgence each time you make such a visit, subject to the general law in force on indulgences that you can only gain one plenary indulgence per day.

The Ordinary can also designate particular days for a solemn Mass or office, adding the Creed, and the indulgence can then be gained by participating in that Mass or office.

May I remind you of my post Plenary indulgences not impossible which includes the general conditions set out by Pope Paul VI for gaining a plenary indulgence, and argues that they are not impossible to fulfil.

A resource to help people understand the reform of liturgical music

Ben Whitworth’s pamphlet for the CTS "Music in the Liturgy" is an authoritative and accessible introduction to the question of music in the Liturgy, a discussion that is at last beginning to filter down to at least some ordinary parishes.

The pamphlet relates to the Novus Ordo Mass. For the usus antiquior, the music question is more straightforward: if you have High Mass or a Missa Cantata, the choir sings the propers, and you have the choice of the congregation singing the Ordinary, either all together or antiphonally with the choir, or the choir singing a polyphonic setting. It is also possible to have low Mass with hymns.

The work of the New Liturgical Movement, Chant Café, and let's be fair, Jeffrey Tucker especially, has begun to have an influence on the celebration of the Novus Ordo. (Though there are still plenty of people who just don’t get it: the Liturgy Music Planner for my own Diocese, sent to all parish priests, still gives a list of hymns that are supposed to be suitable for the xxth Sunday in Year B.)

Gradually the realisation is dawning that this is not what Vatican II or any subsequent instruction on Liturgical music was telling us. For the Novus Ordo too, we should sing the actual texts of the Mass. I suspect that there are other parishes like my own, where what Fr Z calls the “gravitational pull” operates. The celebration of the usus antiquior is instructive; it is easy to see how this is supposed to work in the Novus Ordo.

So at the sung English Mass, we have a little group, including some young children, who lead the congregation in singing the simple chants for the Ordinary that are in the Missal, and they have learned to sing the Introit and Communion according to a simple psalm tone. Gradually, the Gradual, Alleluia and Offertory will be added.

In due course we may be able to move on to some more ambitious settings of the propers and the ordinary but right now it is possible relatively easily to arrange that a special Mass for a parish group or occasion can be a sung English Mass and not just Mass with a few random hymns dotted around.

At a congregational Sunday Mass, there is always an appropriate time during Holy Communion for one or two devotional hymns, and there is also time for a hymn during the Offertory. These do not need to be shoehorned into the “theme of the Mass” since they are extraneous, as with Motets sung at these places in the usus antiquior.

Ben Whitworth’s pamphlet is a great resource for helping people to understand why Novus Ordo Masses should be sung Masses, not just Masses with songs. He has some fascinating references to classical authors and follows the development of liturgical music in the scriptures and the Fathers. He explains the different types of music in terms that could be understood by the ordinary pewsitter.

There are some gems tucked away in this compact exposition which is informed by Ben Whitworth’s comprehensive knowledge of the field. I did not know that Mozart had said that he would have given all of his own compositions to have written the plainsong Preface of the Mass. That certainly made me pause for thought.

For a Church musician who is open to the idea of the reform of liturgical music, this booklet would be a great help in setting out the basic reasons for such a reform as well as helping to devise a practical roadmap that could be implemented in an ordinary parish with its ordinary mix of generous people who are willing to sing but are not professionals or expert musicians. It would also be a good gift to school teachers who are involved in preparing Masses.

"Music in the Liturgy. An introduction to the ancient musical traditions of the Catholic Church as a support for prayer" by Ben Whitworth, is available from the CTS priced £2.50 ($4.05).

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tablet attack on Vatican II

This week’s Tablet editorial speaks of the texts of the Second Vatican Council as a “baseline” for any interpretative application of the Council’s teaching. Like me, you may be scratching your head, since the texts are the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, with the authority of the Bishops of the universal Church, confirmed and ratified by the Pope.

Later we are told that the texts are not “legal documents or unalterable Holy Writ, once-for-all and perpetually binding.” Well no, none of those things. In practical, pastoral and prudential matters, the Council’s provisions are not perpetually binding any more than Lateran IV’s instruction to Jews to wear a badge or the Council of Vienne’s mandating of the burning of homosexuals. As was pointed out by a learned friend of mine, nobody today would want to invoke the spirit of Vienne.

Nevertheless, if we are talking about the second Vatican Council, it is the texts that matter. Subsequent legislation, implementation, or interpretation is the subject of legitimate debate among canonists, theologians, sociologists or editorial writers of magazines – even bloggers if one might be so bold.

The Tablet is not too keen on some of the documents. Oddly, it singles out Inter Mirifica for scorn, describing it as “embarrassingly poor.” I find that surprising. The decree says in n.13:
All the children of the Church should join, without delay and with the greatest effort in a common work to make effective use of the media of social communication in various apostolic endeavours, as circumstances and conditions demand. They should anticipate harmful developments, especially in regions where more urgent efforts to advance morality and religion are needed.
That seems to me quite prescient for a document issued in 1962 when the popular use of the internet was still some years away. For my money, Gaudium et Spes would be up there in the embarrassing stakes but that is probably more because of its execrable Latin (De Urgentioribus Quibusdam Problemationibus is actually the heading of the Pars Secunda.)

The Tablet dives into the question of the hermeneutic of continuity, seeing the Holy Father’s 2005 address as more nuanced than the “conservative interpretation” (who can they mean?) They speak as though Pope Benedict thought that some parts of Vatican II had more continuity and others more reform. It is impossible to read the Holy Father’s address honestly in such terms. He was referring to the Council as a whole and proposing that all of it should be understood in terms of a hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.

He said that the hermeneutic of rupture caused confusion, yet the Tablet insists that some parts of the Council have no continuity whatsoever – particularly Nostra Aetate which “flatly contradicts Pope Pius IX’s encyclical known as the Syllabus of Errors.” The writer probably meant the encyclical Quanta Cura (the Syllabus of Errors was not an encyclical but a curial document issued the same day) but we can let that pass. The Tablet entirely ignores the lively debate among theologians over whether Nostra Aetate was indeed a contradiction of Quanta Cura. In our own country, the distinguished philosopher, Professor Tom Pink of Kings College has exchanged papers in response to Fr Ronheimer on this question.

This failure to address a significant debate of our own time on precisely the subject of continuity and rupture on which the Tablet is lecturing its readers does lead one to wonder how much they are interested in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Council itself and whether the real concern is simply to continue to propose an understanding of the Church which has plagued the journal since soixante huit and Humanae Vitae. They even get the slogans wrong: aggiornamento means "bringing up to date" not "opening to the world." (In fact, when Blessed Pope John XXIII announced the council in 1959, his celebrated use of the word aggiornamento referred to updating the code of canon law.)

The editorial’s peroration reads as follows:
If a return to the texts leads the Church to rediscover that vision and resolve to make it come alive at last, a new and exciting chapter may be about to be written. The Church will be set in motion again. But the forces of anti-conciliar reaction have not yet been defeated. They did not like the council then and they do not like it now, and they will do everything they can to frustrate it.
In fact, a return to the texts of the Council will reveal to many younger people that the Council was not what the Tablet and others have pretended. It is full of sober orthodox teaching entirely in continuity with the tradition of the Church which has over the years been obscured by the mythical construction of a non-existent version of Vatican II.

In response to a new generation discovering what the Council actually taught, the Tablet may indeed join the SSPX in rejecting some of the texts. Pope Benedict XVI insists on them – but only if understood in terms of reform and renewal in continuity with the one subject-Church. As he said, the Fathers of the Council had no mandate to construct a new constitution for the Church, nor could they have, since the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life. The Tablet has no such mandate either.

See also:
Fr Z: The Tablet’s latest cowardly editorial
Protect the Pope: The Tablet misrepresents ‘the hermeneutic of continuity’ to make case for hermeneutic of rupture
Offerimus tibi Domine: Hermeneutic of continuity

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

CD 261 on perfect contrition

You spoke of an act of perfect contrition, but I thought it was almost impossible for an average person to make such an act because you have to be free of all attachment to sin. (Or am I confusing this with indulgences?)

Yes, it is the plenary indulgence for which we need to be free of all attachment to sin – but I think that an average person can gain plenary indulgences, and indeed make an act of perfect contrition.

The word “perfect” here refers to the motive for which the act of contrition is made, namely the love of God. An act of imperfect contrition is made when we have a lesser motive such as fear of hell, disgust for sin, or a sense of letting ourselves down. Imperfect contrition is sufficient for the sacrament of penance but an act of perfect contrition means that our sins are forgiven immediately, provided that we also intend to confess them in the sacrament of penance. The various traditional acts of contrition found in prayer books give us a form of words in which we express our sorrow because of our love for God. We can use these prayers or pray in our own words. Contemplating the passion of Christ is a good way of stirring ourselves to an act of sorrow out of love for God.

We can also be free from attachment to sin in the sense that the Church requires as a condition for a plenary indulgence. Here and now, we can come before God with a detestation of sin and a desire not to sin again. With this disposition we can gain a plenary indulgence.

The Church is optimistic about the capacity of our human free will, and the ability of the “average person.” We can make a perfect act of contrition, be detached from sin, have a firm purpose of amendment, and indeed merit heaven. We are also capable of mortal sin in a single gravely sinful act committed with knowledge and consent. In creating us with a spiritual soul, God gives us power and responsibility as persons, for good or evil.

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

Mgr Gordon Read new LMS chaplain

The Latin Mass Society has announced the appointment of Mgr Gordon Read, Chancellor of Brentwood Diocese, as its new National Chaplain. Here is a link to the full press release.

People sometimes think that I am a canonist. Speaking to canon lawyers over the years, especially over breakfast at Wonersh, I am left in no doubt at all that I have little expertise in that area: I like to tell people that I am not a canonist but a dogmatist.

Mgr Read however, is a highly respected canonist of great experience. I have had occasion to consult him in the past, always profiting from his expertise. He is also a thoroughly genial chap, and held in great respect by clergy and laity alike.

Please also say a prayer for the former chaplain, Fr Andrew Southwell who is going to study in Rome, at the Angelicum

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Catholic Church Hall - no samadhi-seeking here please

Fr John Chandler, a recently ordained priest of Portsmouth Diocese, must be somewhat nonplussed that his decision to withdraw the use of his Church Hall for a Pilates class that turned out in fact to be a Pilates and spiritual Yoga class, has led to a feeding frenzy in the world's press. Fr Chandler is to be commended for his clear-sightedness and courage in taking a stand on this issue despite the storm of negative publicity. He is quite right to refuse to allow the Church premises to be used for something incompatible with the Catholic faith. I am sure that Bishop Egan, the new Bishop of Portsmouth, will be very supportive of his action.

Read Daily Telegraph article or any one of the other 250 or so pieces you will find with a quick Google News search. They all seem to have the same quotes repeated probably from one of the agencies. Hence you learn of Cori Withell's indignant protest that she paid £180 for the use of the Hall - without hearing that (obviously) she got her money back and consequently the Church has lost revenue from the hire of its hall.

The Yoga Journal which reports the ban on one of its blogs has an enlightening discussion elsewhere on its site of whether Yoga is a religion. Many adherents would prefer not to call it a religion but a philosophy that involves Samadhi (the path toward a mystical state of enlightenment or union with the Divine) and Dharma (a law of the consciousness universe involving a theory of kharma and rebirth.)

The controversy highlights how people who reject "religion" in favour of a "philosophy" fail to realise that their "philosophy" indeed a religion and is in fact incompatible with other religions, and particularly with Christianity. At least the Yoga Journal recognises that there is a discussion to be had. In secular Britain you can promote all sorts of religious philosophies while blithely taking the unchallenged high ground of maintaining that you do not have a religion and that the Catholic Church is narrow-minded for not agreeing with you. The action of priests like Fr Chandler is crucial in exposing this aspect of the dictatorship of relativism.

Global Hinduism runs the story and quotes Pierre Bibby, of the charity British Wheel of Yoga, who said:
‘Research demonstrates yoga improves people’s health and wellbeing physically and mentally. Who could object to that?’
Directly underneath, in the "Most Popular Posts" widget for Global Hinduism is an article headed "32000 year old Idol of Narsimha (Lord Vishnu’s Avatar) found in Germany." Once you get into alternative spirituality based on dharmas and kharmas, you don't know where you are going to end up, or indeed what kind of "consciousness" you are inviting into the life force of your chakrahs (see my post on Holistic Indian Head Massage.)

So my advice to you is: if you want to get some exercise, do some press-ups, sit-ups and tuck-jumps and go for a brisk run - preferably in the opposite direction from the nearest yogilates session.

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