Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Christmas continues

2013-12-25 00.25.51

Every year I emphasise in the newsletter and the notices that the Christmas season continues until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and that we are invited to enter into the spirit of the Liturgy which presents us with a rich tapestry to deepen our understanding and, more importantly, our spiritual life as we reflect on the great mystery of that light which the darkness could not overpower.

There is a Flickr set of photos from our Midnight Mass at Blackfen, thanks to Mulier Fortis. I liked the above photo of the Gospel because of the panoramic view from celebrant to the Deacon chanting the Gospel towards the North. The Venerable Prosper GuĂ©ranger explains this with a quotation from the prophet Jeremias (1.14) "From the North, shall an evil break forth upon all the inhabitants of the Land." One of my earliest memories of the Mass, when I was about four years old, was my father explaining to me that the Gospel was sung facing North from earliest times to preach to the barbarians, like those in far away Britain.

Tonight, we will have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with Benediction at midnight, accompanied by the fireworks of our neighbours which is actually quite a nice touch. We will sing the Te Deum (plenary indulgence on New Year's Eve) and tomorrow we will sing the Veni Creator Spiritus before Mass (plenary indulgence on New Year's Day.) One New Year's resolution that I have is to pay more attention to the plenary indulgences that can be gained on specific days.

Monday, 23 December 2013

FI Sisters' robust clarification

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate have replied in a robust and dignified manner to the allegation that they have contributed to a "distorted mentality" among the Friars. Rorate Caeli has published the text of the Sisters' Official Notice of Clarification.

Rorate Caeli is providing frequent updates on the progress of the official intervention into the Franciscans of the Immaculate, a sad episode which is damaging the work of a fine Institute, and the work of the Church. Please continue to keep both the Friars and the Sisters in your prayers.

Papers for Australian Confraternity published

By the kind offices of Fr John Corrigan, Editor of The Priest, the journal of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, the papers that I gave to the Confraternity earlier this year have been published on the website, and two of them in the current print issue of The Priest.

Here are links to the papers:
Here are links to pdf versions if you want to print them off:
The ACCC website has a rich collection of articles by a wide variety of authors and is well worth browsing. It brings back happy memories of my visit to Australia where I was made so welcome, especially by the kind hospitality of the ACCC Chairman, Fr John Walshe, but also by the generosity of many of the other priests of the Confraternity.

You should also have a look at Fr Corrigan's excellent Blog of a Country Priest.

The opposite of the "selfie"

Many thanks to a reader who sent me this timely photo of St John Baptist and the Agnus Dei, painting c.1520 from the church of Wiggenhall St Mary the Virgin, Norfolk (photo summer 2013)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Pope Francis affirms work of curial officials

Given his previous remarks about vipers, it was with some trepidation that I began to read the address that Pope Francis gave to the Roman Curia today. Many news services have picked up on the part where he warns of the danger of constantly inspecting and questioning. They have gone along with the narrative of the Holy Father constantly criticising the Curia.

However most of the address is positive in tone, illustrating a hallmark of this papacy where statements that are perceived as harsh are later moderated in other addresses. I was a little saddened by the "vipers" comment because I know priests who work at the Holy See with great integrity in an environment which can be difficult especially for those of a non-mediterranean background. As in any "Staff HQ" or civil service environment, there are careerists and dysfunctional superiors but there are also good hard-working men who have the Church's best interest at heart. So I found this passage very welcome:
[...] a very special and heartfelt "thank you" goes to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world. This is something truly admirable. I have such high regard for these "Monsignori" who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons… We need them today, too! People who work with competence, precision and self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties.
The Holy Father went on to stress the importance of professionalism, service, and holiness of life, and warned against the temptation of gossip.

Spare a thought for the priests who work in the Roman Curia. It is not a job I would want for all the world but it is essential in the life of the Church that we have some sort of organisation at the centre. May they indeed be given the graces of professionalism, service and holiness.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Martin Dodwell to speak on Anne Line and Shakespeare

My good friend Fr Francis Coveney, parish priest of St Anne Line in South Woodford, tells me of an interesting event which some readers might like to know about. Here are the details.
Anne Line: Shakespeare's Tragic Muse
Sunday 2 February 2014, 3.30pm
A new biography has just been written by Martin Dodwell entitled “Anne Line: Shakespeare's Tragic Muse”. It will be of interest to admirers of St Anne Line, historians and Shakespeare scholars alike.

Martin Dodwell will be giving a talk on his new book in the Parish Hall (behind the Church) on Sunday 2 February at 3.30pm. Copies of the book will be available for sale. Benediction will follow in the Church at 4.30pm. 
St Anne Line Parish, Grove Crescent, South Woodford, London, E18 2JR
The Church is a short walk from South Woodford Station (Central Line).
The photos is from Mulier Fortis who wrote about a pilgrimage she made to South Woodford in honour of St Anne Line.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

A good point, well made

This appeared in my Facebook feed today. I thought it was a good way of making an important point to children. You might like to re-blog it.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Oath to be administered to Franciscans of the Immaculate

The Franciscans of the Immaculate have been going through a trying time recently. This seems to be getting worse. Rorate Caeli posted yesterday several documents relating the Franciscans of the Immaculate, including correspondence from Fr Volpi, the appointed Commissioner for the Institute.

We could all think of Orders, Congregations and Institutes where members have written against magisterial teaching. Occasionally there has been some intervention from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in rare cases an individual has been suspended from teaching in the name of the Church. We all remember the furore over the polite and carefully worded report on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The negotiations with the SSPX broke down over the nuance of an expression concerning the level of acceptance of Vatican II.

In the case of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (who have not contradicted magisterial teaching on faith or morals) their superior has been removed, their seminary has been closed, and their members are now to be asked to take an oath agreeing that the modern Roman rite is an "authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church." I hope that I am not being intemperate in describing this as rather harsh. I certainly don't recall others, whether liberal or traditionalist being asked to swear to such a specific question of fact. There are after all library shelves full of books by liturgical radicals arguing precisely the opposite: that the Novus Ordo was a a liberation from the encrusted barnacles of tradition and the opening of a bright new future for creative liturgy. Will they be administered an oath in which they must swear that it is an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition?

It would be reasonable to require those in communion with the Church to accept that the modern rite is, in itself, a valid rite for the celebration of the Eucharist. (Otherwise you would have to say that the Masses of Blessed John Paul, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis were all invalid.) The question of whether it is an authentic expression of the liturgical tradition of the Church is surely a legitimate matter for debate within the wider discussion of the hermeneutic of continuity or rupture. Famously, Cardinal Ratzinger described it as a "banal on the spot product": are we not allowed any longer to agree with him?

Actually, I think that the oath could be taken in good conscience anyway - the expression is capable of a range of interpretations without even the need for any mental reservation. Certainly the modern rite has many elements that have always been in the Roman liturgy, and has, broadly speaking, a traditional Roman structure with readings, offertory, canon, and communion in the traditional order. It is authentic in being valid for the celebration of the Eucharist, in being promulgated by a Pope and in being legitimate to use.

Please pray for the Franciscans of the Immaculate at this time of trial. Pray especially to Our Lady, Mediatrix, Auxiliatrix, Advocatrix and Co-redemptrix. Pray also to St Maximilian Kolbe.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Alison Davis RIP

Alison Davis was a great witness for the sanctity of human life and helped promote human life in response to calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide. Alison was born with spina bifida and suffered greatly during her life. Alison was at one time in favour of abortion and later wished to end her own life. She changed her mind on both these issues and became a great advocate of the right to life.

You can read further details at these links:

SPUC: Alison's Story
SPUC: Tribute by Colin Harte
Sister of the Gospel of Life: Alison Davis 1955- 2013
Catholic Herald obituary by Francis Phillips

Alison's carer, Colin Harte wrote the seminal book "Changing Unjust Laws Justly; Pro-Life Solidarity with the Last and the Least" (2005) in which he, with the support of Alison, championed the right to life of the smallest and weakest in contrast to the conventional wisdom of lowering the abortion time limit which would allow abortion for only such young lives.

Please remember Alison in your prayers. May she receive the reward of her labours.

Please see the Alison Davis blog for details of her funeral this Friday 13 December in Dorchester.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Golden Jubilee of Inter Mirifica

Sorry, 'Oly Father, the electromatic Ordo generator will not work properly now
because you 'ave abolished most of the commemorations and the octaves.

On 4 December 1963, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium was promulgated. Everybody is remembering that, so I decided in a contrarian moment to home in on the other document that was promulgated on the same day by Pope Paul VI, the Decree on the Media of Social Communications Inter Mirifica which I have mentioned in talks over the last couple of years. N.15 of this document said:
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.
The first disk storage drive was produced in 1962, so computers were still in their infancy. The internet was some years off - it would be nearly twenty years before the network would be widely used by people at home.

Nevertheless, the principle that the Council set out is as relevant today as it was then: all the children of the Church should used the media of social communication effectively in the apostolate. A cultural difference is that at the time of the Council it was appropriate to speak in ponderous terms of offering technical training to laymen and the increase of school facilities and institutes for people to offer this “sound training.”

Nowadays any teenager with a smartphone can set up a blog or a twitter account in five minutes and broadcast his words of wisdom to the world. This ought to make it easier for us to evangelise and to support one another in the faith.

There is a "hermeneutic of continuity" aspect to Inter Mirifica; it continued in the tradition of the Church which has always tried to use the latest technology for the spread of the gospel. Binding pages together in codices was a great help, movable type transformed everything, and radio was enthusiastically taken up by the Holy See.

At the beginning of the delightfully titled encyclical Miranda Prorsus of 1957 Pope Pius XII set out a fundamental principle which again applies to inventions he would not have imagined:
Those very remarkable technical inventions which are the boast of the men of our generation, though they spring from human intelligence and industry, are nevertheless the gifts of God, Our Creator, from Whom all good gifts proceed: "for He has not only brought forth creatures, but sustains and fosters them once created".

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Congratulations to Jamie Bogle, new President of Una Voce

Congratulations to my good friend James Bogle who has been elected president of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce which exists "to to ensure that the Missale Romanum of Pope John XXIII (1962 edition) is maintained in the Church as one of the forms of liturgical celebration, and to safeguard and promote the use of Latin, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony."

Among other worthy predecessors, Jamie (barrister - trial attorney) follows in the footsteps of Dr Eric de Saventhem and Michael Davies.

He said that he intends to carry out his new role by employing benefits bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI, not least in the motu proprio of 2007, Summorum Pontificum, that restored the traditional Latin Mass as one of the two approved forms of the Roman rite of Mass. He also would like to see its fruits integrated into the New Evangelisation.

May God bless the work of Una Voce and assist Jamie in his new post.
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