Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Goal of corporate reunion no longer realistically exists

How would the ordination of women as Bishops affect the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Church of England? More specifically, how would it affect dialogue?

At the end of an article about Professor Henry Chadwick's thoughts on the matter, Independent Catholic News reports on the position taken by Archbishop Nichols:
Meanwhile, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, was asked during a press conference in London on Friday 16 November 2012 about the impact on ecumenical relations if the General Synod of Church of England General votes in favour of the ordination of women bishops.

Archbishop Nichols emphasised that a vote for women bishops would “not fundamentally alter the dialogue and co-operation” between the two Churches.

The Archbishop added: “The dialogue will continue but this is a very significant step which the Church of England now stands about to take, it would seem.”
On 5 June 2006, Address of Cardinal Walter Kasper, then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke on the same subject to the Church of England Bishops on the ordination of women bishops (source: Zenit):
"What follows from these conclusions and questions? What follows for the future of our ecumenical dialogue? One thing is certain: The Catholic Church will not break off the dialogue even in the case of such a decision. It will above all not break off the personal relationships and friendships which have developed over the past years and decades. But there is a difference between types of dialogue. The quality of the dialogue would be altered by such a decision.

Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office.

Following that action we could still come together for the sake of information and consultation; we could continue to discuss and attempt to clarify theological issues, to cooperate in many practical spheres and to give shared witness.

Above all we could unite in joint prayer and pray for one another. All of that is, God knows, not negligible. But the loss of the common goal would necessarily have an effect on such encounters and rob them of most of their élan and their internal dynamic. Above all -- and this is the most painful aspect -- the shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance. Instead of moving towards one another we would co-exist alongside one another."
It could be said that Archbishop Nichols recognises de facto that the state described by Cardinal Kasper was already been reached in England with the ordination of women priests. Surely that development in itself ruled out the possibility of the restoration of full Church communion? If we accept that to be the case, then the ordination of women bishops would not fundamentally alter the present dialogue and co-operation which is a matter or clarification, prayer and co-operation rather than any hope of shared communion.

Cardinal Kasper's address stated explicitly that corporate reunion was now unreachable. In the Year of Faith, as we look again at the texts of Vatican II, it is worth noting another comment that he made in the same speech:
It [viz. the ordination of women bishops] would, in our view, further call into question what was recognized by the Second Vatican Council (Unitatis Redintegratio, 13), that the Anglican Communion occupied " a special place" among churches and ecclesial communities of the West. We would see the Anglican Communion as moving a considerable distance closer to the side of the Protestant churches of the 16th century.

Guild of St Clare

At the Towards Advent Festival on Saturday, one of the stalls was for the Guild of St Clare which was set up in 2010 to provide a network of needlewomen to maintain, repair and create vestments. The display was part of the Latin Mass Society stall as the Guild is affiliated to, and sponsored by the Latin Mass Society.

At the moment, there are groups in London, Birmingham and Oxford but I expect that the Guild will grow. It is open to beginners and makes it possible for experts to pass on their skill.

There is a National Training Day on 5 January at Hampton court Palace on "Ecclesiastical Goldwork for Beginners."

For more information, you can browse the Guild blog or email Lucy Shaw.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Lord of DNA (and everything else)

Warning: if you listen to this, you will also be singing "Hip hip hooray for DNA" along with the pupils in Mulier Fortis' science class. (See Earworms...)

It hadn't occurred to me before that the vast resource of YouTube could liven up science lessons. The videos are more snappy than the ponderous films that were nevertheless a welcome diversion in my science lessons back in the early 70s. I always enjoyed science and in fact did physics, chemistry and biology at A-level. As a teenager, it was thrilling not only to discover something of the workings of the universe but also, thanks be to God, to have contact with the Faith Movement which was founded at that time, and to be guided in understanding that the breathtaking organisation of the material world is an expression of the wisdom of God the creator. That same wisdom and that one mind is also expressed in the raising up of the people of God, the hope of the Messiah and the incarnation of the Logos, the eternal wisdom of God, in Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, his life death and resurrection, the Church and the consummation of all things in Christ.

This way of looking at creation still inspires me now in reading the Last Gospel and genuflecting at the words Et Verbum caro factum est. We discover something of the awesome divine intellect in the material sciences (for instance in the amazing phenomenon of DNA.) That awesome divine wisdom is hypostatically united to human nature in the one person of Jesus Christ whom we adore as our Lord and our God, made flesh for our sake in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

Studying creation through the natural sciences, we can see how powerful was the teaching of St Paul in Colossians, that the whole lot was made through Him, it was all made for Him, and the whole lot holds together in Him - from DNA to galaxies and everything in between, all is subjected to Him, the Lord of All, the Alpha and the Omega.

Z-Swag in the wild

My kitchen cupboard contains a collection of mugs from Fr Zuhlsdorf's Cafe Press store. Fr Z likes to see photos of Z-Swag in the wild so I thought I should post the above photo, taken today, of my car parked at North Greenwich in sight of the Millennium Dome, featured in the 1999 James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough." (Out of picture, to the left, is North Greenwich tube station which is featured in "Spooks.")

The car magnets are "Lex Orandi Lex Credendi" and "Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist". You can also buy mugs, beer steins, sigg bottles and other items on the theme.

Underneath there is a sticker from the Association for Latin Liturgy which reads "Amo Missam Latinam." Here is a close-up:

Comment of the month

I asked "How many minor basilicas does Brooklyn want?"

Zephyrinus answered:

"No matter how many, I bet David Beckham and Posh Spice can afford them."

Boom boom!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

How many minor basilicas does Brooklyn want?

In August, I spoke of my jealousy at the United States getting its 74th minor basilica. Now I turn green with envy once again as I learn from Deacon Greg Kandra that the diocese of Brooklyn has just been granted its THIRD minor basilica. I know the church is not a democracy but sometimes I feel that life is just not fair.

As I have mentioned from time to time on this blog, we are hoping that Zephyrinus will win a hundred million euro or so in the euro lottery to make it possible for us to build a baroque Church in Blackfen and then apply for it to be designated a minor basilica. There does not seem to be much enthusiasm in England for minor basilica status so I think that we will not have to fight off a lot of competition.

A number of suggestions have been made over the past couple of years. Something like the above is what I have in mind.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

An inspiring afternoon at the Towards Advent Festival

The Towards Advent Festival is an annual festival of Catholic Culture organised by Auntie Joanna and held at Westminster Cathedral. I always enjoy visiting if I possibly can; today some parishioners were Confirmed at the traditional Confirmations at Spanish Place (article on that when the pictures are in) so I was able to take the tube across to Victoria and spend some time at Towards Advent.

One of the most enjoyable things about the Festival is meeting so many friends and getting to know new people who are working hard in the apostolate. Here are just a few of the stalls:


EWTN, featuring the Catholicism series





At the Ordinariate stall I was glad to be able to have a look through the new Customary as well as the Book of Divine Worship. For the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity in January, I have invited a priest of the Ordinariate to celebrate Evensong in my parish according to the Ordinariate Customary; it was helpful to have a chat with Fr James Bradley about finding which texts to use.

The Franciscans of the Renewal were in the Hall and I got to meet the sisters for the first time. (Looking them up just now, I discover that Sister Catherine was an Olympic speed skater before she joined the Order.) They live in the parish of Blessed John Henry Newman in Osmundthorpe, Leeds. Meeting them, hearing of their apostolate, and being bombarded with such joy in the Lord was inspiring. Lucky Osmundthorpe!

Finding one or two initiatives that don't normally cross my radar was another benefit of the Festival. I was particularly pleased to meet Deborah Jones who frequently writes letters to the Catholic Herald on the subject of animal welfare and the Church's teaching on animals. Her letters always strike me as balanced and sensible so I was interested to find out more about her work and about Catholic Concern for Animals.

Deborah earned a doctorate on the question of whether there can be a Catholic theology of animals. Her book on the subject "The School of Compassion" is a solid theological treatment, drawing on the scriptures, the fathers of the Church, the writings of the saints and, in an extended section, the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To be honest, I'm not known as a great animal lover but I intend to read Deborah's book to be better informed on a subject which is dear to the heart of many good people.

Congratulations to Joanna and all who helped in organising such a splendid gathering of Catholics who in various ways are labouring in the vineyard with generosity and good cheer.

Understanding the C of E and those who may come over

The vote against women bishops at the General Synod by the House of Laity may be puzzling to some; perhaps even more so if you are told (correctly) that a significant number of those who voted against it are themselves in favour of women bishops.

Tom Sutcliffe has written a balanced and helpful article for Anglican Ink which explains things well. See: A "liberal" member of Synod explains his "no" vote on women bishops. (H/T The Deacon's Bench) Essentially he and others considered that the proposal was misguided in its approach to those who opposed women bishops, and would over-ride assurances given in 1992 to those who opposed women priests. They viewed this lack of care as something that would damage the Church of England and accelerate its decline.

The measure was considered overly clerical in not allowing the laity in a parish to decide whether or not they wished to have a woman priest. The assurances given over and over again, that provision would be made for those who could not accept women bishops was not only not trusted, it was seen as dishonest. Sutcliffe speaks of the determination of some to purge the Church of England of those who do not accept the ordination of women.
The assurances given to those in the minority of a traditionalist view were worthless because the Code of Practice, even when it had been set up, would have been open to constant revision and would have been a target for further adjustment when the campaigners from GRAS and Affirming Catholicism had managed to squeeze out of the Church all those people with whom they disagree on this matter and whom they do not think belong within the reformed liberal Anglicanism that they seek. This element of passionately committed supporters of the ordination of women made no secret of their determination to insist that the Church of England in their view should drive out anybody who did not accept women's ordination.
From outside the Church of England it is of interest to understand this vote and the process which led to it. First we should be under no illusion about the ferociousness of the debate. At least some of the supporters of women bishops wish to reduce their opponents to submission or drive them out of the Church. Secondly it highlights the impossible state of a Church which tries to encompass those who have two completely incompatible ways of understanding the priesthood.

For Catholics the third and most important lesson is to understand that those who may become Catholics as a result of pondering the implications of the present furore, may be exhausted and traumatised by the bitterness of the opposition which they have faced: in some cases for many years, compounded in some cases by the betrayal of their bishops who have given assurances and then cynically reneged on them. To seek communion with the See of Rome now will be an act of great humility. It will not be helpful for us to go around blithely saying "Why didn't they come across years ago?" A little sensitivity and kindness would befit us better.

Friday, 23 November 2012

A fruitful few days at Wonersh


There is a very healthy and positive atmosphere at the seminary at Wonersh. I normally only get a snapshot on my flying visit from Sunday evening to Monday lunchtime but this week I spent a few days to do some work in the library and to bask in the luxury of regular mealtimes and the discipline of the timetable. Sung Lauds at 7.30am, and the Holy Hour with Compline and Benediction on Thursday evening were particularly beautiful.

The library is well-stocked, though it is an uphill struggle to keep it in order. I love the unbound tomes of Migne and the elusive gems such as Jugie's Theologia Dogmatica Christianorum Orientalium ab Ecclesia Catholica Dissidentium. published by Letouzey et Ané.)


The wheely ladder is necessary to get at some of the Latin tomes useful for an unreconstructed ossified manualist:


Old boys of Wonersh may be interested to see that there is now a lift installed where there used to be a luggage lift. Without this, guests with mobility difficulties would be rather restricted since the stairs to the top of the building provide quite some exercise even for young men.


The installation involved quite a bit of work but the end result is spectacular, with the staircase from the West end of the Ambulacrum completely remodelled entirely in keeping with the existing architecture.


Inside the lift, there is the logo of Stannah Lifts. A student told me that it as a consequence, it had been nicknamed the Chapel of St Anna.

Please remember the students and staff in your prayers.

They have sitten on the chair of Moses

Guido Fawkes' blog is one of our leading political blogs. I don't put political blogs on the sidebar but I do read them from time to time, especially Guido who is always entertaining. I had a chance to catch up this morning and laughed out loud at the post No woman no tie.
Sir Tony Baldry, resplendent in his bright pink shirt and salmon and cucumber Garrick Club tie, fulfilled his duty in the House today at the Second Church Estates Commissioner (the Church’s representative in Parliament, aside from that constitutional abomination that lets Bishop vote of legislation, of course.) Baldry was arguing for Women bishops, but as Ann Treneman points out, the Garrick still do not let women join. Nor do the Freemasons…
Which reminds me of a verse from the Bible. I shall quote it in the Douai Rheims version:
The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

CD 266: Anger at work

I work in a highly charged target-driven environment with tight deadlines. Sometimes I explode with anger at colleagues or subordinates in order to get the job done. Is this contrary to my Christian faith or simply part of my work?

Catholic moral theology talks of the “passions”, those feelings and affections which are part of our psyche and “incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil.” (Catechism 1762) These feelings in themselves are neither good nor evil but they can contribute to our choice of good or evil. Put simply, we cannot always help how we feel, but we can decide what to do with those feelings.

In your workplace, it is a good thing to meet targets and deadlines and it is possible that someone acting badly or negligently may interfere with this good, thus giving a just cause for reasonable anger. However we all know that because we are not Jesus Christ, and we are affected by original and actual sin, our anger is usually mixed with selfishness, and is often an over-reaction, taking out our own frustrations on others. I think that most respected writers on management would counsel that being angry is not normally the best way to get things done, even if we could justify it morally. You also need to consider whether your behaviour would bring about an action for bullying. Even if such an action were not successful, the time and expense involved would defeat the good object that is sought, of meeting targets efficiently.

Therefore in general it is best to form a strategy for dealing with angry feelings in such a way that they energise you to work efficiently without bearing down on others. If you do “explode”, you need to assess things once you have calmed down, and make sincere and genuine apologies where appropriate. If you over-reacted, it helps to admit this in humility, perhaps making joke at your own expense, acknowledging your foolishness. In a highly-charged environment, peace and determination will generally get things done more efficiently than exploding in a rant.

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

Great new issue of CMQ focuses on Humanae Vitae

The November issue of the Catholic Medical Quarterly is now online. The issue looks at Humanae Vitae 45 years on and has articles by Pravin Thevathasan, Greg and Aghi Clovis, Adrian Treloar, Patrick Pullicino, Pia Matthews, Fr Thomas Crean and many others.

When we hear daily of new unethical practices in the medical profession, it is an enormous encouragement to see Catholic medics standing up for Humanae Vitae by producing a journal like this.

Anglicans fell just two votes short of getting what they wanted

"No, Father, you got that wrong - it was six votes" I hear you say.

In fact I am referring to the vote of 1992 in favour of women priests. Back then, those who opposed women priests lost by just two votes.

But of course that was a great triumph of democracy and there was no need for the Prime Minister to say in the House of Commons how sad he was, or for a team of lawyers to start investigating ways of getting round the vote, or for all right-thinking MPs to witter on for over half an hour's parliamentary time saying how dreadful it is, and that something should be done.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all my American readers a very happy Thanksgiving. May your turkey be delicious, and your family at peace.

God bless America!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Her Majesty's affirmation of motherhood

Kate Winslet has just received a CBE for her services to drama. Apparently Her Majesty congratulated her and asked about her enjoyment of acting. Kate Winslet said that ashe loved it but not as much as she loved being a mother. The Queen said "Yes well that is the only job."

That is rather encouraging. I wonder how long it will be before some fool in the House of Commons moves to censure Her Majesty for her discriminatory approach to the traditional family.

This was reported in the Daily Telegraph but I picked it up from a recently started blog Sub Umbra Alarum Suarum which is the latest addition to the list of blogs written by Blackfen parishioners. "Mattheus" has some good articles up already and I recommend his blog for your sidebar.

Confraternity meeting 5 December

The London District of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy are holding a meeting on Wednesday 5 December at St Patrick's Soho Square. With reference to the Year of Faith, Canon Luiz Ruscillo will be reflecting on the importance of Catholic education.

The CCC website has further details. Starting at 11.15-ish, the day finishes with Benediction at 2.30pm so the timetable is suitable for parish clergy. I'm hoping to get there for at least part of the day after coming back from Hull where I am speaking to the Faith Forum.

Disturbing prospects after the Synod vote

As you all probably know, the General Synod of the Church of England failed to vote through the measure that would allow the ordination of women as Bishops. For those entirely baffled by the Church of England, Fr Longenecker has a good post on Understanding the Crisis in the Church of England. People not familiar with the Church of England (especially from other European countries) sometimes ask me "What does the Church of England teach about x?" to which there is no straightforward answer. Fr Longenecker's post will be helpful in understanding why.

William Oddie in the Catholic Herald examines some of the key points in an article today. As most Catholic commentators have observed, if women can be priests, there is no theological reason why they cannot be Bishops. With the ordination of women priests, it became clear that the Church of England allowed for an understanding of priesthood or ministry that was fundamentally different from that taught in the Catholic Church, and there is an internal inconsistency in allowing alternative episcopal oversight for those who have a Catholic belief in the priesthood. Many clergy realised this and became Catholics, either individually or through the Ordinariate.

We always need to remember that there are all sorts of personal difficulties to overcome before a person leaves the Church of England to become a Catholic. This was true for Newman and Manning and it is true today. If we say that all of them should have come over in 1992, we should also say that all of them should have come over with Manning and Wilberforce in 1850 after the Privy Council allowed the Rev GC Gorham to take up the living of Bramford Speke despite his denial of the doctrine of  baptismal regeneration.

A worrying development in the present controversy is the pressure from some MPs to legislate so that the Church of England would have to ordain women as Bishops in accord with equality law. This would obviously have serious implications for other Churches and religious groups.

Deacon Nick Donnelly was watching the telly last night and noted how BBC and Sky were enraged by the vote, with reported adding caustic asides at the end of the news reports. Several bloggers have pointed out that the democratic style of government is only in favour with the right-on media and politicos if the result goes their way. If it doesn't, some other solution is sought.

Although as a Catholic one might view the debate on women Bishops as rather "ho-hum" since there are already women "priests" in the Church of England, the enraged reaction of the metropolitan elite and the lengths that they they seem prepared to go so that they can compel the Church of England to accord with their view of what a Church should be, is disturbing in its implications for the way that the State is prepared to intervene in matters of faith.

You might say that it was ever so with the Church of England from its origin, but over the centuries, at least some proper sphere of action has been allowed to the established Church. The determination of those in power could overturn that arrangement with consequences that reach well beyond the Church of England.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Sly BPAS propaganda

BPAS advertisement spotted by Bones at Victoria station. The text reads:
What do you call a woman who's had an abortion?
Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend.
Abortion. No more names.
The majority of people seeing it will not know much about the work of pro-life organisations. They will not know that the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, the Good Counsel Network and LIFE offer help to women who are in a crisis because of their pregnancy, both during the pregnancy and after the baby is born. They will not know of the help that SPUC gives through its British Victims of Abortion service, or the many other services offered by pro-life groups for women who have had an abortion. They will not have read the kindly words of Blessed John Paul in Evangelium Vitae n.99 to women who have had an abortion.

What they will now think they know, is that people opposed to abortion call women names if they have had an abortion. They won't know what those names are, because pro-lifers don't call women names, they work hard for women, whatever their past.

This is a sly and deceitful piece of propaganda designed to discredit the pro-life cause without any justification whatsoever. It has nothing to do with the welfare of women and everything to do with protecting the profits of BPAS - who can afford to display this kind of billboard at several London termini.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bad hymns of the alius cantus tradition

Eccles has now reached number 14 in the Bad Hymns series. This time he has an interview (it is a spoof) with the author of "Go, the Mass is ended." If you were born after the glorious seventies and missed this gem, fear not, the internet is here and you can savour its profound contribution to the alius cantus school of liturgical music in the video above. The practical importance of the hymn is outlined by the composer:
Of course some traddy priests will insist on saying "Ite, Missa est," which nobody can understand. So the congregation just hangs around wondering what to do next.
Music minsters need to be aware of the danger in the hymn's specificity. If you are used to choosing hymns more or less at random from a diocesan Music Planner, you might make the mistake of scheduling this one for the offertory. By the second or third repetition of the command, people will be voting with their feet.

At the foot of Eccles' post there are links to the appraisal of other classics. If votes are allowed, I'd really like to see a post on "I watch the Sunrise." This is an important song which has, in the words of the author's official website:
featured on radio and television, in concerts and churches all around the world, including the score of an Australian film, an album of Daniel O'Donnell, "Faith and Inspiration", a 2004 episode of "Coronation Street" [Britain's longest running TV soap opera] and the BBC Three 2005 documentary, "Gypsy Wars".
Interestingly, rivalling Mozart, the song has been featured in a concert in a Church (scroll down the News Page to "Packed house at Walsingham") and earned an encore. Unlike Mozart's Vesperae solennes de Confessore, however, it is hard to think of a liturgical service for which "I watch the sunrise" would be suitable.

I expect it featured at the recent Great Wakering Memorial Hall Concert for C.A.M.E., ("the pseudonym for the four churches who frequently work together in Great Wakering.") According to the News report,
The meal was a four course with a wide and varied selection to chose from, washed down by a endless supply of fruit juices, and finally followed by coffee and tea. 
Just as well - "I watch the sunrise" is heady enough without adding any mood-altering substances to the mix.

Sex has consequences

With the amount of sex education being dished out, you think people might know this by now: sex causes babies. Yet people still talk about unexpected pregnancies. Katrina Fernandez (The Crescat) has written a post on the subject which offers a helpful reminder. See: This Just In - Sex Has Consequences
Yes, yes, birth control blah blah blah. But really all that does is encourage risk taking behavior and well, more sex. Which causes babies. Because we all know the only thing that 100% prevents babies is to not have sex. It’s not rocket science. Just basic biology and common sense.
In pinched the picture from her post as well - it was too good not to!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Millwall and the New Evangelisation

As I left for lunch today, my parish club was just settling in to watch Millwall v Leeds. It was good to hear that the game went well in the end with an 85th minute winner by Chris Wood, bringing Millwall's unbeaten run into double figures. The one sending-off was on the Leeds side - an elbow in the face, but probably not malicious. (Press Association match report at Millwall Mad.)

The question which is raised for us in the Year of Faith is: How do we bring the truth of the Catholic faith to these men? (A similar concern has been raised from time to time by James Preece.)

Some gentlemen supporters of Milwall Football Club

A useful point to make is that if people think that religion is not for men, why not take a walk in the vicinity of your local mosque after Friday prayers. A parishioner who did this by accident said that she thought that there must have been a football match nearby, and then realised that the young men were on their way home from the mosque.

If we don't think in terms of these men, then the New Evangelisation will be nothing much more than a superficial makeover - the spiritual equivalent of a new kitchen and some expensive paint in tuscan truffle ochre or whatever from one of those posh shops. Christ did not hide from the hoi polloi, after all.

Perhaps "No one likes us - we don't care" would be a starting-point on the virtue of fortitude and dying to self in witness to the truth. (I also use this as an example when trying to convince boys that they are quite capable of chanting responses.)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Determination to redefine marriage: cui bono?

Over 600,000 people have signed up to the Coalition for Marriage petition. There is a massive groundswell of opinion against the legalisation of same-sex "marriage." This measure was not in the Conservative Manifesto. It is irrelevant to the pressing economic problems facing our country. Three quarters of MPs have received more letters and emails opposing the measure than supporting it.

Yet the Prime Minister seems weirdly determined to push this through. George Osborne is the latest grandee to throw his weight behind it. Even Iain Duncan Smith, who opposed the repeal of Section 28 when he was leader of the party, has had a conversion experience and is now a true believer in the value of redefining marriage.

Back in March, the consultation document made it clear that the Government will take into account the various points raised in the consultation but not the number of responses received. They obviously already knew the level of opposition this proposal would generate. Imagine if the majority of responses were in favour of same-sex "marriage": Teresa May and Lynne Featherstone would be trumpeting the fact across the land. They knew that wouldn't happen.

It is good to read the statement of the Bishops regarding same-sex marriage and to hear of Archbishop Nichols' address in London after the Bishops' Conference meeting, urging George Osborne not to use marriage as a political football. I am just beginning to wonder whether this is actually about politics after all. It is of no obvious political use to the Conservatives: many MPs have expressed concern that it is upsetting core members and long term Conservative voters.

Cui bono? For whose benefit is this glassy-eyed determination to legalise same-sex "marriage"?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

CD 265: Confession and dementia

My wife is suffering from dementia and is unable to go to confession. I worry about whether she is losing out on God’s grace.

Please be assured that your wife is not losing out on God’s grace. The sacraments are channels of grace within the Church but God is not limited to the sacraments. Those who, through no fault of their own, cannot receive the sacraments, will receive God’s grace in ways that are known only to Him.

As a practising Catholic, your wife will have a habitual desire to receive the sacraments. This is important when the time comes that it is appropriate for her to receive the sacrament of anointing. It is often forgotten that one of the effects of this sacrament is to forgive all sins – in the case of someone unable to make a sacramental confession, this would include even mortal sins. The sacrament also has the effect of removing what are called the “remnants of sin”, those effects that are left behind in our soul through the various imperfections of our fallen state.

With regard to Holy Communion, your own close personal knowledge of your wife in her dementia is important. You will know whether she is able to recognise (perhaps in a way not discernible to others) that there is something special about the Eucharist – that there is a difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread.

If there is a danger of unintentional mistreatment of the Eucharist, think of your wife’s devotion before her illness. We can think what our response might be if we were asked whether we would want to receive Holy Communion if, for example, we might spit out the sacred host. We would all agree that in such a case we would not want to receive Holy Communion. Again, your wife will not “lose out” on God’s grace. Your own prayers said with her, in the form of a spiritual communion, will be effective. Remember too that in your loving care for your wife in sickness and in health, you also draw down the grace of God given “till death do us part” in the sacrament of matrimony.

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

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Liturgical music in Church - without the Liturgy

Recently I had occasion to look at the November edition of the listing events@brugge. Now let's blow up the second item down in the sixth column:

There is also an advertisement for the event at the Bladelin ensemble's own website. It reads:
Forthcoming concerts:
Mozart, Sint-Jacobskerk - Bruges
10 november 2012 - 8:15 p.m.

Vesperae solennes de Confessore KV 339
Concerto voor fluit, harp en orkest KV 299
Davide penitente KV 4699
It took a while for it to sink in.

Priests will say that such classical masterpieces as Mozart's "Vespers for a Confessor" are beyond the horizon of modern man or that if they were used in the liturgy, people would not be able to participate. Yet in fact, people pay to go to concert halls to hear this beautiful music. I think they are actively engaged.

Nowadays there are often Concerts in Churches and that is a problem in itself. What we have here is not only a Church being used as a concert hall, but music composed for the sacred liturgy being performed as a concert in a Church without the Liturgy being celebrated.

Sometimes it is hard to fathom the depth of madness to which we have sunk in the rejection of our own patrimony of sacred music. The philistines decided that we couldn't have this sort of music in the liturgy because it was too much like a concert. A few years on, we have the same music advertised as a concert in the Church, without even celebrating the liturgy for which it was written. If the priests are singing anything at all, they must be putting their fingers in their ears and going la-la-la-la.

If you want to hear Mozart's Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, K. 339, here is a video from YouTube - of it being sung (in 1990) as a concert in the Franciscan Shrine Church at Poznan; with the choir on the sanctuary.

As a matter of interest, roughly how much would it cost to hire an outfit like this for an evening? We might have a minor win on the Euro Lottery (before we can fund the minor basilica) and we could always have a retiring collection ;-)

Fr Tomlinson answers Ordinariate critics

As well as being a hard-working parish priest, Fr Ed Tomlinson is also an articulate promoter of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. His post today Answering the Critics gives succinct answers to five common criticisms from people who want to pour cold water on the Ordinariate.

Father Tomlinson is a priest of the Ordinariate  and is parish priest of St Anselm's, Pembury as well as looking after the Ordinariate for the Tunbridge Wells area. there is Evensong and Benediction there every Sunday at 6.30pm.

To my embarrassment I realised that Father's blog was not on my sidebar. I have corrected that now.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Exeter Cathedral, Corpus, a clock and Martial

Exeter 013

Before the Confraternity meeting this morning, I had a chance to look around Exeter Cathedral which is in the decorated gothic style and, according to the website has the "longest uninterrupted medieval gothic vaulting in the world." That seems quite a bit of qualification: perhaps there is some really long medieval but non-gothic vaulting somewhere? Anyway, this photo shows some of the celebrated ceiling:

Exeter 016

Bishop Oldham (died 1519), who assisted Bishop Foxe in the founding of my college, Corpus Christ, Oxford, is buried with a bright polychrome monument:

Exeter 026

Another Corpus man, about whom I would be less enthusiastic, was the Anglican Divine Richard Hooker, though I should be lenient about him because he was criticised by the puritans for arguing that some Roman Catholics could be saved. As he was born in Exeter, there is a statue of him outside the Cathedral:

Exeter 010

The Astronomical Clock is a special feature: it shows the position of the sun and the phases of the moon. The minute hand above was a later addition. I suppose people got more busy and needed appointments more specific than "some time around ten." The inscription PEREUNT ET IMPUTANTUR is an allusion to a phrase in Martial's epigrams (V.20) and means literally "they perish and are imputed." It refers to the hours that pass by and are set down against us - scilicet - if we waste them.

Exeter 028

The epigram of Martial is too good not to set down in full for those who love the Latin language:
Si tecum mihi, care Martialis,
Securis liceat frui diebus,
Si disponere tempus otiosum
Et verae pariter vacare vitae:
Nec nos atria, nec domos potentum,
Nec litis tetricas forumque triste
Nossemus, nec imagines superbas;
Sed gestatio, fabulae, libelli,
Campus, porticus, umbra, Virgo, thermae,
Haec essent loca semper, hi labores.
Nunc vivit necuter sibi, bonosque
Soles effugere atque abire sentit,
Qui nobis pereunt et inputantur.
Quisquam vivere cum sciat, moratur?
If you know some Latin but the classical poetry is a bit challenging, there is a translation at CCEL that can guide you through with the help of Lewis and Short's dictionary.

[Parental Advisory: if your child is learning Latin, you need to know that many of Martial's epigrams are very explicitly obscene jokes.]

With priests in Exeter

Exeter 036
North of the Cathedral Green

There is already a Western district of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. For those who think that Salisbury is so far east as to be almost on the outskirts of London, it was a problem finding a name. Currently they are the far-West district. (Someone suggested it should be "Wild West.")

Yesterday evening I rattled out of Paddington down to Exeter (we certainly rattled on the fast stretch from Reading to Taunton) to stay overnight before giving a talk this morning to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in that part of the world. Sixteen priests gathered at the Catholic Chaplaincy of Exeter University, with a good representation from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham as well as priests of the Diocese of Plymouth. I was given the title "The Liturgy: Reform or Return?" to which my answer was essentially "Return" though I concentrated (or at least tried to) on the celebration of the modern rite and how the traditional liturgy can inform this.

One important point raised in the discussion afterwards was the loss of the Ember Days and the liturgical reference to the solar cycle. This is meant to be a part of the calendar still but the "Cycle of Prayer" which replaced the Ember Days is scarcely noticed nowadays.

Fr Dylan James organised the day and we were hosted by Fr Michael Wheaton and an great team at the chaplaincy, including a young woman who has just completed a PhD on Tertullian. It sounded really worth publishing in a more popular "de-PhD-ed" version and I hope that she does publish a book to communicate the results of her research.

Lunch was faggots, mash and peas with gravy. Fr Wheaton explained that faggots were the original English fast food, pre-dating fish and chips. He also urged what I think was a point of morality (though Fr James might know better about this as a moral theologian) that we should eat the whole of an animal, offal and all, and not just the posh cuts. The ones we had were made by a local butcher of some renown and they were absolutely delicious.

Cardinal Burke arranges Roman monument to Blessed Columba Marmion

If you spend any time in Rome, and especially if you like reading inscriptions, you will soon see that one of the things that was traditionally expected of higher ecclesiastics with charge of Churches is that they improve them. The inscription can then end by saying that whatever monument or embellishent that is being celebrated was taken care of by Monsignor Canon Grande Saturno or whoever.

There are so many of these plaques and monuments that it is easy to lose sight of the importance that they once had, and the historical value that they still have. The more permanently relevant are those dedicated to the saints. Cardinal Burke has carried on this fine Roman tradition by taking-care-of–the-setting-up-of a new monument in his titular Church: to the Blessed Columba Marmion who was ordained priest there.

Shawn Tribe at the New Liturgical Movement has the story and pictures, including the above. I was delighted to hear that the monument was designed by Duncan Stroik. His work can take its place quite respectably among the other monuments of Roman Churches which is a great credit to him. The fact that he has not tried to do something "different" is an example of humility when we are so used to seeing bizarre and grotesque monuments placed in historic buildings, boasting of the cleverness and daring of the artist. Duncan Stroik's monument to Blessed Columba is deceptive in that the skill of its design and execution is not something that shouts for itself (though it is undoubtedly a superb work.)

I wrote about Blessed Columba a while back and take this opportunity to recommend his spiritual books if you have not yet discovered them. On my next trip to Rome I must include a visit to Sant Agata dei Goti.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

We don't have to call it the Extraordinary Form

Sometimes the tedious argument is raised that we must always call the old Mass the "Extraordinary Form." Rorate Caeli has a very helpful post on this unnecessary scruple: Terminology: is "Extraordinary Form" an acceptable name? And is it the official name?

Usually on this blog, I refer to the usus antiquior as this is an expression used in Summorum Pontificum and I just don't want to waste time on arguments about it in the combox. But Old Mass, Traditional Latin Mass, and Mass of Ages are all OK.

My real favourite is "The Mass That Will Never Die."

Correction to list of Masses at Blackfen

The latest Mass of Ages magazine from the Latin Mass Society continues the high standard established by the new editor. It is well worth subscribing to; if you are a parish priest, you might want to get a few copies to put at the back of the Church.

This list of Masses is now incorporated into the body of the magazine rather than being enclosed as a supplement. I like to look through the list and see where others are celebrating the Mass of Ages.

Since people do rely on this, I thought it would be helpful to post here a correction to the times at Blackfen. They are all correct except the entry "Mondays 8pm Low Mass." We do often have a Low Mass on Monday evening - but usually at 7.30pm. This is a private Mass, said when I have the opportunity after teaching at Wonersh. Sometimes I'm not around (for example this Monday I'm travelling to Exeter to speak to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.) So this Mass should not be listed.

Sometimes I will say an extra Mass on another day/time. If you are in the area and want to know when there will be a Mass at Blackfen on Monday evening, or any other extra Masses, you can email to be put on a mailing list.

The regular public usus antiquior Masses at Blackfen are as follows:
  • Sunday 10.30am Missa Cantata
  • Saturday 10.30am Low Mass followed by exposition, confessions and Benediction at 12noon (Missa Cantata on the first Saturday of the month, followed by Benediction)
  • Holydays (on the traditional day) 8pm Missa Cantata
We will have Solemn High Mass at Midnight for Christmas, with carols beforehand from 11.20pm.

Families with young children are always welcome. If they make a bit of a noise, you will be in good company. Your three year olds can learn the Salve Regina from their peers.

Friday, 9 November 2012

4 million readers and "4 Things to Remember in November (and at all other times)"

Following the example of Brandon Vogt, I was just thinking about a "5 Things" post to ramp my stats up to 4 million. I actually got stuck at "4 Things" - Last Things in fact, as this is on my mind for preaching during November.

In any case, having checked my stats, I find that the blog already reached 4 million readers. Thank you all for reading. There will be champagne and cake in your honour.

Now since the blog is not meant to be all about stats, here are "4 Things to Remember in November (and at all other times)"
1. I am going to die some time in the next few years.
2. Immediately after that happens, I am going to be judged by Jesus Christ.
3. If I am in a state of mortal sin, I will immediately go to hell for all eternity.
4. If I am in a state of grace, I will go to heaven for all eternity (immediately if I am a saint, after some painful purification if I am not.)

Bloggers and bishops

Brandon Vogt has a list of 7 Things Bishops Should Know About Catholic Bloggers. He has put this out in advance of a meeting next week hosted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops following the success of last year's meeting of bloggers hosted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. (See my post: Vatican surprises bloggers with successful meeting.) Without wishing to be presumptuous, I would humbly suggest that it would be a good article for our Bishops  of England and Wales to consider at their meeting this coming week. Who knows? Perhaps we could have a blogger-bishops fest at Eccleston Square?

Bloggers talking about blogging always gets bloggers blogging about it, and a "List of x Things" is a well-tried formula for getting readers either in print or online, so kudos to Brandon for the hit spike his post will generate! Thanks be to God, he talks a lot of sense.

I would agree with him on nearly everything but would add some shading to Thing #1. The relationship between bloggers and bishops is not simply friend or enemy. There are good Catholic bloggers who are friends of Christ and of the Church, saying the Rosary for the Bishop and putting the graphic on their sidebar, but being a critical voice too.

If this criticism is from some as yet undiscovered mythical part of Lumen Gentium which supposedly invented an alternative magisterium, then we can thank God that the Church does have the means of stating what is and is not part of her teaching.

If on the other hand, the criticism is in support of the magisterium or discipline of the Church against a perceived dissent or deviation, then there is a debate to be had. A bishop who is confident that he is expressing orthodox faith and is in line with the Church's law can explain this. A bishop who thinks the blogger is unorthodox or otherwise out of line can explain that too.

In the end, this is nothing new. We are all bound by the teaching and discipline of holy mother Church. Unless we descend into rampant gallicanism, Bishops are also part of the hierarchy which has at its head the Bishop of Rome, acting on a day-to-day basis through the dicasteries of the Holy See.

I believe, along with Fr Z that the internet operates a "reverse Gresham's law" where good information drives out bad. If that is true, then blogging can only further the Kingdom - even if the pesky bloggers are a bit awkward at times.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Failing to keep my young parishioners under control

In the CNS video of the Traditional Pilgrimage to Rome I am disturbed to see one of my younger Blackfen parishioners focussed intently on a Tridentine Pontifical High Mass at the Altar of the Chair at St Peter's:

A few weeks back, on a Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to Aylesford, his father had to try to capture him to prevent him from running around the Shrine singing the Salve Regina at the top of his voice. But I suppose the roof of St Peters was perhaps less likely to cause distraction to others at their prayers and I understand that you can't keep three-year-olds on the leash all the time. I blame myself ...

I don't know what I am going to do with these children. Only the other week I turned my back for a moment and got emails from Rome showing another two serving Mass for a priest of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei at the Altar of the Transfiguration at St Peter's:

And somehow they turned up at Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini serving High Mass celebrated by Fr Kramer of the FSSP. Who taught them to do that?

I'm going to have my work cut out persuading these children that all this old traddie stuff puts them off the faith. I mean - look at this girl (another parishioner): she's supposed to be oppressed by the whole elderly Cardinal, Patriarchal Basilica, dead language, facing the wall thing, not gazing in rapture at it. Clearly I need to run a course on Active Participation.

Monday, 5 November 2012

BBC can't stop taking the tablet

Serfs that we are of our liberal modernist overlords, we have entirely missed the blatant collusion between BBC Radio 4 and the Tablet. It is blindingly obvious but we just don't notice some of the big bits of bias.

H/T Fr Ray

Catholic tinker, tailor, soldier ... theologian

Tinker, sailor, soldier, sailor,
Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief.

If I remember correctly, this game involved the stones on the side of the plate after eating plums and custard.

Would it make any difference if the tinker was a Catholic tinker? Would that be different from him simply being a tinker who was a Catholic? What about a Catholic rich man or a rich man who just happened to be a Catholic?

I am prompted to this reflection by Professor Tina Beattie's apologia in response to the decision of the University of San Diego (a Catholic university) to rescind her invitation to speak.

Occasionally I have been banned from speaking. It's quite fun. You get kudos from being somehow of too much robustness in some area or another to be allowed to address the audience. In my case, it would be because I like the Tridentine Mass, or oppose gay marriage, or support the Faith Movement (yes, in the old days that would get you blocked.) In the case of Professor Beattie, it is because she supports women priests, or gay marriage or opposes the work of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Many years ago I was invited to a school by the Deputy Headmaster. The chaplain complained because in his eyes I was too much of an extremist to be inflicted on sixth formers. I suggested that the Deputy Head contact Archbishop's House, Southwark to enquire about my suitability to speak. I was amused to hear that the then Archbishop's Secretary said that I might be a bit conservative but was certainly a priest in good standing. The sixth  formers had all got wind of the dispute (thanks to the chaplain's lack of professional discretion) and were eagerly waiting for my talk which they received with enthusiasm.

So I must congratulate Professor Beattie for her achievement in being banned from speaking in California. In the Speaking Ban roll of honour that would take some beating and rather dwarfs my being held suspect in Braintree (name changed to protect the innocent.)

In her defence, Professor Beattie makes a distinction between being a Catholic theologian, and being an academic theologian who happens to be a Catholic. Recently the Catholic Herald made something of a historian who apparently delivered a subtle insult to Eamon Duffy by referring to him as a Catholic historian. The point is that Eamon Duffy is respected in academic circles not as an apologist for a Catholic view of history but as an historian in his own right. Being a Catholic, he is naturally interested in subjects such as the Reformation, but that does not detract from his academic rigour in historical study. Hinting at partisanship is indeed an insult.

What then about a Catholic plumber? Assuming that he does not limit his work to the water supply and drainage of Churches, is there anything specifically Catholic about his plumbing? As a good Catholic, he will try to do a good job for a fair price, allowing for a reasonable profit to meet his obligtions to his family and to charity. Since a methodist or muslim plumber could do an identically good piece of work, we could say that there is not much to choose between saying he is a Catholic plumber and a plumber who happens to be a Catholic.

What about a Catholic doctor? When I was young, Catholics generally tried to find a Catholic doctor such as Dr O'Keefe who exercised a kindly authority and made me say Aaah! when I had tonsillitis as a child. I expect my mother found deeper reasons to trust him as she gave birth to six of us. Hectoring advice about contraception was not so common in those days, but she would have been spared the beginning of that movement by Dr O'Keefe who, I am sure, would have had no truck with it. Nowadays, for parents who want to have more than two children, a good Catholic doctor who will not nag them about contraception or about having amniocentesis would be a blessing. Such families would look for a Catholic doctor and not be particularly helped by a doctor who just happened to be a Catholic but did not believe the teaching of the Church. They would probably be better served by a believing Baptist or Muslim doctor.

So then, what about a Catholic theologian? Can a Catholic be an academic theologian who just happens to be a Catholic? To be scrupulously accurate, Professor Beattie distinguishes between "an academic theologian who is also a practising Catholic" and a Catholic theologian as "somebody with a licence who is authorised to teach by the official magisterium."

First of all, I don't think it is nitpicking to focus on the expession "official magisterium" since it is one that Professor Beattie uses often. Surely there is just the magisterium? There is no "unofficial" teaching authority in the Catholic Church, only the teaching authority which we believe to be founded by Christ and exercised by the Pope and the Bishops whether expressed in their ordinary or extraordinary teaching. Apart from this, there are opinions of theologians - as well as journalists, bloggers and the bloke down the pub.

One way in which theologians are distinguished is by their having a pontifical licence to teach; however in the history of the Church there have been plenty of theologians, some of whom (including women) have been recognised as Doctors of the Church without ever having had a licenciate. We can grant, I think, that they were Catholic theologians.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are kids who go to university and think theology might be a cool, rather offbeat subject. They can do some essays on the Trinity, on Meister Eckhart (bloke in pub asked me about him just the other day) Mother Julian of Norwich, and on social justice or green issues with perhaps a bit of feminist theology thrown in. An intelligent and hard-working student could get a first, without any requirement to believe in God or any article of the Christian creed. They could go on to get a doctorate on "The concept of hunger in Gustavo Gutierrez" and take up a teaching post. (Apologies if anyone has done a doctorate on that subject - no offence intended.)

Would such a young professor be a "theologian"? In academic terms he would be counted as such. If the young professor was a Catholic, would he now be a Catholic theologian? He would, I'm sure, reject the appellation, especially if he doesn't believe the Creed.

So what about a theologian who accepts some of the teaching of the Church but does not accept the teaching of what is termed for this purpose the "official magisterium" of the Church on the reservation of priestly ordination to men, or the duty of conscientious objection to arrangements for the legal recognition of civil unions of homosexual people? 

If an academic theologian who happens also to be a Catholic but disagrees with teaching that is formally stated by the magisterium as something to be definitively held as part of the deposit of faith, is there really ground for complaint if a Catholic organisation dedicated to upholding the teaching of the magisterium decides to withdraw an invitation to speak?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Reasons why we should pray for the Holy Souls

2012-11-02 20.30.04

Photo credit: Mulier Fortis

God, is supremely good, and is truth itself. His justice is not arbitrary but intimately bound up with the truth. If we sin against Him, it is impossible that we could be directly in His presence without first being forgiven our sins and purified of the damage that they have done to our soul. To see the beatific vision of God with the least stain of sin on our souls would be unbearable for us. God cannot change this any more than He can make a square circle or a good demon. It would be contrary to that reason and truth which He is.

In his mercy, God allows not only that we may be purified from our sins after we have died, but also that those on earth can help the holy souls in purgatory by their prayers. Offering such prayers is an important duty for us, not simply an optional extra devotion. We can classify three compelling reasons why we should fulfil this duty.

First, since God wishes all the holy souls to be in heaven, we do Him honour by offering our prayers and sacrifices, indulgences and Masses for them. Every Holy Mass is offered for all the living and the dead. When we pray for the dead, we participate in this vital part of the Mass, our highest act of worship.

Secondly, praying for the Holy Souls, especially those who have been forgotten by others, is a great act of charity. There are many souls whose families were unbelievers or, even if Catholics, did not choose to pray for their relatives but merely remembered them. Our concern and honour for the dead is a good and civilised thing but, as St Augustine pointed out, it benefits us, not the deceased person. What benefits them is our prayers.

In the case of our own relatives, friends and benefactors, praying for them is an act of piety in the true sense of the virtue which was even cherished by the pagans of Rome, a due reverence for those who have gone before us, educated us and helped us.

Thirdly, praying for the Holy Souls also helps us in our spiritual life because Our Lord wishes us to offer such prayers and blesses us with His grace when we fulfil this office. We certainly do not lose anything by praying for the dead and by offering our indulgences for them.

Our Christian community is not limited to those who are alive now. The Communion of Saints includes all of us in the Church militant, the Holy Souls who make up the Church suffering, and the saints in heaven who are the Church triumphant in eternal glory.

Praying for the dead reminds us of this extended communion. Although we are reminded of this practice during the month of November, it is something that we should do all year round by praying for the dead in our grace after meals, in our morning and night prayers, and as a part of our spiritual participation at the Mass when we join our prayers to Our Lady and all the Saints, hoping one day to be in their company.

Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage

The highlight of the international Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage to Rome was the procession this morning from from San Salvatore in Lauro to St Peter's for solemn Pontifical Mass at the altar of the Chair celebrated by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

There were thousands of pilgrims present, and, unusually, the Via della Conciliazione was closed to traffic for the procession. The Remnant Newspaper Facebook page (which you might Like) has many pictures and video clips. Fr Z was there and has some photos which include Fr Andrew Southwell, Mgr Gilles Wach, and Mgr Nicola Bux.

Blackfen parish was represented by one of our families with four young children who travelled to Rome specially for the occasion.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage arriving Monday

The Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage is a striking act of faith in the power of Our Blessed Lady in the pro-life cause. A replica of the famous icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has been transported from Validivostok on the coast of the Pacific Ocean (in the bit of Russia that is near North Korea) right across Russia and on a round trip of Eastern Europe, followed by a tour of various countries in Western Europe.

On Monday, the icon comes to Dover and will then be taken to Canterbury, Westminster, Chiswick, Walsingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Carfin and Glasgow, before going on to Ireland, France, Spain and Fatima in Portugal which is near the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Pilgrimage is a highly significant ecumenical endeavour in which the Russian Orthodox have worked together with Roman Catholics in the promotion of the sanctity of life under the patronage of Our Blessed Lady.

James Preece had a good post about this a few weeks ago and has some great photos today.

Main Ocean to Ocean website
Dedicated UK website
UK timetable
Complete schedule and map

Thursday, 1 November 2012

CD 263: how many will be saved?

I have recently been reading various gospel texts about how many will be lost. Should we should assume that many (or most) people will not go to heaven. How many will be saved?

You cited Our Lord’s words saying that those who enter by the way of destruction will be many (Matt 7.13), that “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt 22.14) and that many will seek to enter by the narrow door and will not be able. (Lk 13.24) Our Lord also answered your specific question: “And some one said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.’” (Lk 13.23-24) As so often, Jesus does not answer a question directly but points us to the underlying call to action in response to the person’s concern. We should not focus on the number of the elect but rather on our own life of Christian charity by which we strive to enter by the narrow door.

The Decree on Justification of the Council of Trent, a beautiful exposition, explains in a balanced way that although a devout person should not doubt the mercy of God, the merits of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments; we should all nevertheless have regard to our weakness and a holy fear concerning our own grace because we can never be absolutely certain of having obtained the grace of God. (c.9)

This way of thinking is unfashionable today even though it was commonplace among the Fathers of the Church, the great saints and spiritual writers, and can be found unambiguously, for example, in the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman. The point is not to give us an unhealthy fear but to motivate us to convert. As St Alphonsus put it: “To obtain salvation we must tremble at the thought of being lost, and tremble not so much at the thought of hell, as of sin, which alone can send us there.”

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

Tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney

No disrespect intended: I do appreciate the importance of the US elections not only for the USA but for the world. Nevertheless, I confess to empathising with little Abbie in the video and to feeling better after hearing Mommy's reassurance.
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