Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween service at Blackfen

We will be having a Church service for Halloween at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. It will of course be first Vespers of the feast of All Saints (usus antiquior) at 8pm.

We also have a Missa Cantata for the feast day itself (also 8pm) and Missa Cantata for the Commemoration of All Souls at 10.30am on Saturday.

If you want to come for any of these celebrations, here are directions to the Church. On Thursday and Friday evenings, the parish club is open and you are welcome to come in afterwards as a guest, and join parishioners for a celebratory drink and discussion of current affairs with our team of bloggers.

Erasure releases "Gaudete"

A brother priest has alerted me to the digital release today by Erasure of the track "Gaudete" which is apparently the first single from a new album "Snow Globe" which is to be released as a CD and download bundle in a couple of weeks.

I confess that my knowledge of popular music nowadays is as close to zero as makes no difference so I had to look up the above details from the Wikipedia article on Erasure. This also informs us that one of the duo is a gay icon, which made me hesitate about posting this at all. However, on balance I agree with my correspondent that the problem is outweighed by the possibility of making Christ known to a secular audience at Christmas.

It is a good idea to know what singers are singing. This would apply to Lady Gaga's recent celebrated performance: I guess some of those cheering it might be less enthusiastic if they knew what she was actually singing about.

So here are the lyrics to Gaudete and a translation to help along the possible evangelising impact of Gaudete:

Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria Virgine
Rejoice, rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary —
Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae
Devote reddamus
The time of grace is present
This, what we have wished for,
songs of joy
Let us give back devoutly.
Deus homo factus est
Natura mirante
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante
God has become man,
To the wonderment of Nature,
The world has been renewed
By the reigning Christ.
Ezechielis porta
Clausa pertransitur
Unde Lux est orta
Salus invenitur
The closed gate of Ezekiel
Is passed through,
Whence the light has arisen,
Salvation is found.
Ergo nostra contio
Psallat iam in lustro
Benedicat Domino
Salus Regi nostro
Therefore let our gathering
Now sing in brightness
Let it bless the Lord:
Greeting to our King.

(This also gave me a welcome opportunity to revise my knowledge of html for tables.)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Video of LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham

The Latin Mass Society have reminded me of their new video which documents the fourth annual pilgrimage by the Society to the ancient English shrine of Walsingham over three days in August 2013. Producing videos like this is an excellent way to make known good Catholic events and promote them to others, so I am glad to re-post it here. Look out for the next pilgrimage!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

A great day with the Confraternity


Fr Frank Marsden, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett and Fr Jerome Bertram yesterday gave us food for thought at the Autumn Colloquium of the British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. At the last minute the Colloquium had to be moved from the Oratory School at Reading and the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory kindly made their facilities available, including the well-appointed and recently established Hall and their beautiful Church of St Aloysius.


The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Jarrett (Bishop of Lismore, Australia): modern rite ad orientem in English but with Propers and Ordinary sung in Latin with Gregorian chant. Later in the day, there was a time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Benediction. Meals were taken at Browns restaurant next door thanks to a special "deal" with a set menu - it is rather posher than I remember it as an undergraduate.

There were about 60 clergy present during the day. Here is a group photo of some of them (you can never get a group of clergy all together at one time!)

BCCC 2013 group

At a mercifully brief and efficiently conducted business meeting a revised Constitution was approved and Officers and Trustees elected. A significant change to the Constitution allows for Deacons (permanent or transitory) and seminarians to be members of the Confraternity. If you are a cleric and agree with the objects of the Confraternity, I do encourage you to join and to come to the meetings either nationally or in the various local groups. They are a great opportunity to meet with other clergy, and to support each other in our life and pastoral work.

There is also a provision for lay people to become Friends of the Confraternity and this will be developed in due course.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Understanding "Lead us not into temptation"

An article in today's Telegraph is headed 'Blasphemous' Lord's Prayer corrected by France's Catholic Church. I think that 'blasphemous' is over-egging the pudding and that there is a danger of focussing on the wrong word.

The previous French version of "et ne nos inducas in tentationem" was: "Ne nous soumets pas à la tentation" (do not submit/subject us to temptation) and this is to be replaced by: "Et ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation" (do not allow us to enter into temptation.)

Clearly we do not want to say that God would subject us to a temptation to be uncharitable to someone or to drink too much or to look at pornography on the internet. We would certainly prefer to say that we ask Him not to allow us to be tempted in such ways.

However I don't think that the translation of "inducas" is the problem, but rather the translation of "tentatio."

The word "temptation" in modern European languages now generally refers to temptations that proceed from concupiscence (the disordered desire consequent on original sin) or those which come about because of our previous habits of sin.

In the Greek New Testament, the word "peirasmon" was used in a different way, for example of the temptations of Christ - who did not suffer from concupiscence or past habits of sin. It is also used, for example, by Our Lord Himself when he said to the disciples "You are the men who have stayed with me in my trials" (Lk 22.28) It would be absurd to render this verse as though Christ were saying that the apostles had stood by him in temptations to sin (He didn't have any.) Our Lord was tested and put through trials by the devil at the beginning of His public ministry and finally through His passion. (This also applies to the depressingly common misunderstanding of Hebrews 4.15, especially in the Jerusalem Bible translation.)

Therefore we ask the Father not to lead us into the time of trial, not to allow us to be subjected to the onslaught of the devil. We know that He will not do anything that causes us to sin or in any way exacerbate the effects of original sin or our own past sins. We are asking Him to deliver us from evil, as the next clause in the Lord's prayer makes clear.

If we want to re-translate the Our Father, it would be better to recognise the modern use of the word temptation and replace that ("Do not lead us into the time of trial" / "Do not put us to the test" or some other such adjustment) rather than worry about the word "inducas."

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tomorrow: optional memorial of Blessed John Paul II

Fr Richard Duncan of the Birmingham Oratory has done a great service by publicising on Facebook the fact that tomorrow, 22 October, is an optional memorial of Blessed John Paul II according to the National Calendar for England and Wales. Here is a link at which you can download texts for the Missal and the Office of Readings in English and Latin so thanks to the Liturgy Office of England and Wales for this too.

I am glad to have been made aware of this and will be celebrating the optional memorial tomorrow morning. Next year, it will be for Saint John Paul II. The above photo will then be one of me with an actual saint! Some trads are rather critical of him, but I think he was a great Pope who brought many blessings to the Church and to the world. I am old enough to remember what a joy it was to welcome his election in 1978 and thrill to his powerful and effective witness against communism.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Have you got an 'ology?

My good friend Fr John Zuhlsdorf had a look at a non-magisterial fervorino of Pope Francis about “ideology” and wonders what the Pope really said:
The Pope’s language about ideology is so vague that I can’t for the life of me make out who or what he is talking about. It could be that he has a first name and a last name in mind, but I have no idea who she might be.
I too am puzzled by the use of the word ideology in this ferverino and others.

In general usage, "ideology" is used to mean the system of ideas at the basis of an economic or political theory, as in Marxist ideology, or more generally the manner of thinking characteristic of a class, as in bourgeouis ideology, or more generally still, some sort of visionary speculation. Napoleon used the word to ridicule his intellectual opponents, and Marx used it to engage in the struggle of ideas that would determine who had power within a society.

We believe that God has given us a spiritual soul which is able to think and form ideas. We need to espouse the right ideas so that we will act with truth and charity towards others, rather than the wrong ideas that will harm them. As Christians, we certainly accept such basic ideas as the principle of non-contradiction, but we are blessed with the revelation of God in the old and new testaments, and we follow and try to put into practice the teaching of Jesus Christ which we know from the Gospels and from the teaching of the Church which Christ founded. Necessarily, these teachings can be expressed in propositions - these are, if you like, ideas that we believe to be true both on human grounds and on the grounds of revelation.

Certainly we would not want to reduce the Christian faith to a set of propositions; it is more than that because we believe in a personal God and we should desire to do His will, and love Him with all our hearts. Nevertheless, if somebody says "I believe that all Jews should be exterminated", we Christians can and ought to reply (with many brave souls who did so in the face of persecution) "No, all people have the right to life and we must never kill an innocent person."

This last statement is a proposition which I passionately believe to be true. It is an idea, if you like. Does it form part of an ideology? I suppose it does really. But it is also fundamentally part of my Christian faith, my adherence to the person of Jesus Christ.

My personal following of Jesus Christ and His teaching does involve me in professing certain ideas, beliefs and values. In the case of whether it is legitimate to kill people just because they are Jews, I would be "rigid, moralistic and ethical", and even without much kindness to those who disagree and embark upon the path of extermination - though I would not think it a Christian thing to spit on their coffin.

New generation of lapsed

Often, when I talk to priests from Catholic countries, or countries that formerly had a strong Catholic life, I have a sense of déjà-vu, as though they are sincerely and earnestly addressing problems that we faced in England 30 years ago.

Some of the things that Pope Francis has said strike me in the same vein. It is great to hear that he told priests not to turn away unmarried mothers who bring their children for Baptism. When I was newly-ordained (nearly 30 years ago), in the inner-city parish I first worked in, more than 50% of the children that we baptised were of unmarried mothers. Sometimes these were single mothers but increasingly over the years “unmarried mother” has become a quaint expression. Many are cohabiting, and many nowadays have got married in a hotel or on a beach without any inkling that this is not what Catholics should do.

At funerals, when saying the Our Father, we used to get distracted by some in the congregation continuing with “For the Kingdom...” as is the Anglican custom. (You would let it pass without comment.) Now we often find that there are only a few in the congregation who actually know the Our Father. The BBC commentator on the announcement of the new Pope was ridiculed for this, but his ignorance is not by any means unusual. How would people know the Our Father if they do not say it in school, do not say prayers at home, and don’t go to Church?

It is no longer a question of being kind to the “lapsed” but of trying to get something across to the generation who do not know the "Our Father", people who have no contact with a Church at all, and no knowledge of the Christian faith beyond the distortions that they have seen in the media. On Catholic blogs we often highlight these distortions. We have to remember that for many people those caricatures of Christianity are all that people have in the way of religious education. If we don't give a considered and accurate account of Catholic teaching on "difficult" issues such as abortion, contraception and same-sex unions, we will leave people with the caricatures.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Iuventutem Mass this Friday

Edmund Waddelove RIP

Edmund Waddelove who died earlier this week was one of my greatest benefactors in that he brought about my conversion to a love of the traditional Latin Mass in 2002 when his sister Agnes died. He asked me to celebrate the Requiem Mass in the old rite. I agreed, and then realised that I had a short time to learn the ceremonies. (The late Michael Davies was at the funeral and afterwards supplied me with some altar cards and an instruction booklet.)

Edmund was a stalwart of the Latin Mass Society and always a manly, good-humoured critic of liberalism in the Church. The photograph above shows him (front, right) holding a collage of his children to be blessed by Blessed John Paul II whom he admired greatly.

I will be offering Mass for the repose of his soul (in the old rite, of course) and ask, of your charity, for prayers for him. May the Lord bring him speedily to the worship of heaven, the fulfilment of the Mass which he loved so dearly.

Here is an obituary, written by his son, Adrian, which speaks for itself:
Edmund Waddelove was one of five men who promised the local priest that the North Wales village of Bettws-y-Coed would have a Catholic church.

Along with a Forestry Commission colleague his contribution was to dig most of the foundation trenches with a pick and spade. Two used their professional expertise as electricians. The other was a builder.

“Our Lady of The Woods” was consecrated five years later, in 1961, but it became a matter of great sadness to Mr Waddelove in his old age when he learnt that the church had been closed.

His death, at 94, followed a debilitating eight years that began with shingles.

He was born in Leigh in Lancashire and educated at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton.

His service in World War II with the Royal Artillery included the defence of Hawkinge airfield in Kent during the Battle of Britain. He received his Officer Commission in 1943 but always thought himself fortunate that immediately after D-Day, when in transit for embarkation to Normandy, his unit was stopped because the Allied casualties had been lower than feared.

His 34 year career with the Forestry Commission began in 1947 and included 11 years on Gwydyr Forest at Bettws-y-Coed. He later spent six years in charge of Delamere in Cheshire and in 1969 was promoted to become Chief Forester at Clocaenog near Ruthin.

He remained a lifelong committed Catholic with one of his proudest moments coming in 1980 during the Ordinary General Synod on The Christian Family in Rome when he shook the hand of Pope John Paul II as the Pontiff blessed a photo montage of his children.

His first visit to Rome had been in the 1950 Holy Year and he returned in both 1975 and 1983, and was present in 1982 and 2002 for the ceremonies at which St Maximilian Kolbe and St Jose Maria Escriva were canonised. He travelled, too, to Fatima in 2000 for the seers' beatification.

And for 18 years he made a major contribution to the Latin Mass Society which kept alive the traditional liturgy after it was dropped following the Second Vatican Council until its 2007 restoration.

He offered to be the organisation's Diocesan Representative for Menevia in 1978 and soon combined this with the role in Shrewsbury, and later assumed responsibility for the new diocese of Wrexham, too, when that was formed.

Simultaneously he served on the LMS national committee for much of the period and became widely respected for his perseverance and attention to detail.

Mr Waddelove received a Papal Blessing from Pope John Paul II in 1996 in recognition of this work.

His wife, Bernadette, died in 1997 after 53 years of marriage. They lost their first child, Judith, just before her first birthday and for 12 years cared for their last, Jane, who was severely handicapped both mentally and physically.

He is survived by their adult children Paul, Bernard, Adrian and Steve, and Claire who entered the Benedictine Abbey at Ryde on the Isle of Wight in 1980, together with 14 grand-children and 15 great grand-children.

A traditional Latin Requiem Mass is to be celebrated at “Our Lady Help of Christians” in Ruthin at 11am on Tuesday October 22.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

CD 274 on concelebrants at weddings

There seems to be competition among under 30s Catholics to have as many priests as possible at their wedding. I’d love to invite half a dozen priest friends but would prefer them to attend in choir. I am worried in case they might be offended.

I think that you know that this should not be a matter of competition so I won’t harp on about that except to emphasise that your first concern should be the dignified and reverent celebration of your wedding, and your spiritual preparation with your fiancée in order to lay a solid foundation for your married life.

On behalf of my brother priests, I would make a heartfelt plea to you to give them a way out if it is difficult for them to attend. Priests who run parishes may have a heavy schedule and it is not always easy to find supply priests to cover for them. For many priests it is a rare luxury to attend an event for personal reasons on a Saturday. Make sure that you don’t take offence if they have to decline your invitation.

Cardinals Cañizares and Burke have both independently raised questions about the routine practice of concelebration in the Roman rite so your own reluctance has some support. I find personally that if I have already had to say a parish Mass, the option of attending in choir is welcome: the priest can participate in a different and, perhaps more personally reflective way. Having said that, many priests are not familiar with the option of attending in choir. Some may not have a cassock and cotta (though many younger priests will.) It is not so much that priests will be offended; they may simply not be familiar with this way for a priest to participate at Mass.

Since these are priests well-known to you, the best approach is to talk to them personally and explain what you are proposing. You could print off from the internet an article about the meaning of a priest assisting at Mass in choir, and emphasising that this is a way of participating in the Liturgy as a priest.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox, by email or via Twitter @FatherTF

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

St Andrews and Canmore

This evening I am at St Andrews to give a talk this evening for Canmore, the Catholic Society for the university. As ever, there was a great welcome, and a well-attended Mass beforehand, good questions, Compline in the chapel, and a fine group afterwards to continue the conversation over a drink at one of the nearby hotels. It is always good to hear from readers of the blog. One such, Archie, was the first person to complain to me about the new policy of not having comments. He said that the decision limited his scope for procrastination.

Tomorrow morning, I will join Fr Andrew Kingham for Mass. He is both parish priest and chaplain to the University and has quite a bit on his plate with planned building works to Canmore itself, the home of the chaplaincy, which are already proceeding apace. He is a doctor of Canon Law which helped things along since it is always good for a dogmatists like myself to have a canonist around to keep us on the straight and narrow. I was also glad to learn more about the calendar of Scottish Saints and other interesting nuggets on the Catholic history of Scotland.

St Andrews has been a seed-bed for many priestly and religious vocations over the years this looks set to continue along with the equally healthy sign of good Catholic marriages. Please remember the students and their Chaplain in your prayers.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy - and an invitation to the laity

Wednesday 23 October sees the Autumn colloquium of the British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. I have advertised this here before but want to give a last-minute reminder because it promises to be such a worthwhile event. Here is some information from the Confraternity:
Due to unforeseen complications in the major building works currently taking place over the next 12 months at the Reading Oratory School, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has been obliged to re-locate the 2013 Colloquium. Both the Confraternity organising committee and the Oratory School apologise for any inconvenience caused, and plan to return the 2014 Colloquium to the Oratory School.

The Fathers of the Oxford Oratory have kindly agreed to host the 2013 Colloquium on Wednesday 23 October, which would have been the second day of our residential conference. The revised Colloquium will take the form of an extended day conference with meals, and will include - an event we have long desired – a final talk open to the laity (as Friends of the Confraternity). Places are limited due to the size of the meeting rooms, so please book early to avoid disappointment. This Oxford Colloquium provides an opportunity to dedicate the Confraternity to Blessed Dominic Barberi and Blessed John Henry Newman.
For priests who wish to book for the talks and meals, the Confraternity website has full information and a booking form.

Speakers will be Fr Francis Marsden: “Priesthood under fire - Past, Present and Future”, Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett: “The Priest as Teacher: Opportunities and Challenges for the renewal of adult Catechesis in the parish” and Fr Jerome Bertram, Cong. Orat: “The Conversion of England”

Fr Bertram's talk, at 7.30pm, is open to priests, friends of the Confraternity, the University and the laity. This will take place in the Oxford Oratory Church of St Aloysius and booking is not necessary. Do come along if you can. Not only is Fr Bertram a most engaging speaker but this will also be a good opportunity for priests and laity to meet up. I'm told that the initiative to have an open lecture was partly influenced by this blog, so do take up the opportunity!

New Latin hymn for Blessed John Henry Newman Salve Fundator

The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory have commissioned Fr John Hunwicke to compose a new Latin hymn in honour of Blessed John Henry Newman whose feast day is tomorrow. At the Birmingham Oratory website, you can view the text and translation. It will be sung at first Vespers at the Oratory this evening, and after High Mass tomorrow.

(I confess to a tinge of disappointment at the © underneath. Would the Fathers perhaps consider making the text available under a creative commons licence?)

Monday, 7 October 2013

Suggested prayers

People have asked me to post the texts of these prayers which I currently say each morning.
For the Pope
Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Franciscum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum Nostrum Iesum Christum Filium Tuum, Qui Tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

O God, the Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, mercifully look upon Thy servant, Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as the chief Shepherd to preside over Thy Church; grant him, we beseech Thee, so to edify, both by word and example, those over whom he hath charge, that he may attain unto everlasting life, together with the flock committed unto him. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Against the persecutors of the Church
Ecclesiae tuae, quaesumus, Domine, preces placates admitte: ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen

We beseech Thee, O Lord, mercifully to receive the prayers of Thy Church : that all adversity and error having been destroyed, she may serve Thee in security and freedom. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ: Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God for ever and ever.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Assent and papal magisterium

Various questions have arisen recently concerning the assent that we ought to give to the words of the Holy Father. I thought it might be helpful to give a few notes concerning the papal magisterium from classical Catholic theology. I have referred to the excellent Jesuit manual Sacrae Theologiae Summa published by BAC.

When the Pope defines ex cathedra a doctrine concerning faith or morals, he enjoys that infallibility with which Our Lord willed the Church to be endowed. To these definitions, we must give the assent of faith. Obvious examples are the definition of the Immaculate Conception by Blessed Pius IX in 1854 and the definition of the Assumption by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

The Pope also teaches with an authentic magisterium (teaching authority) that is not infallible. Examples of such teaching are the encyclical letters of the Pope, and decrees issued by the Holy See in forma specifica.

Decrees of the Holy See may be issued merely in forma communi. This approval means that they are legitimate, authentic and to be promulgated. But this approval does not make such statements to be formal decrees of the Supreme Pontiff. To such statements or decrees, we must give obedience, though we may internally disagree with them.

Decrees of the Holy See that are issued in forma specifica are those that are expressly published as the Supreme Pontiff’s own decrees. They are inferior to ex cathedra statements but, as part of the authentic magisterium of the Supreme Pontiff, they do not require the assent of faith but they do demand our religious submission of mind and will. Lumen Gentium n.25 affirms this.

Popes may also teach privately. Such teaching would be expressed, for example, in sermons, interviews or books. When Pope Benedict published his book Jesus of Nazareth, he said:
It goes without saying that this book is in no way an exercise of the magisterium, but is solely an expression of my personal search "for the face of the Lord" (cf. Ps 27:8). Everyone is free, then, to contradict me. I would only ask my readers for that initial goodwill without which there can be no understanding.
I mentioned this in a post three years ago and, I think reasonably, said that the same would apply to papal interviews with journalists.

Hence, if you are troubled by some statements that Pope Francis has made in his recent interviews, it is not disloyalty, or a lack of Romanita to disagree with the details of some of the interviews which were given off-the-cuff.

Naturally, if we disagree with the Holy Father, we do so with the deepest respect and humility, conscious that we may need to be corrected. However, papal interviews do not require either the assent of faith that is given to ex cathedra statements or that internal submission of mind and will that is given to those statements that are part of his non-infallible but authentic magisterium.

In the case of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict, there were liberal commentators who rubbished the authentic magisterium, contradicted the traditional teaching of the Church, and generally treated those Popes with disrespect. We must never do this to the successor of St Peter. In giving a reasonable opinion which may disagree with an informal and off-the-cuff remark, we must always retain that Catholic spirit which respects the person and the office of the Supreme Pontiff, the successor of St Peter. We are neither ultramontanes nor gallicans but loyal Catholics in the tradition of St John Fisher, St Thomas More, St Catherine of Siena, St Vincent of Ferrer and others who from time to time respectfully took issue with some of the statements or actions of the Vicar of Christ.

Friday, 4 October 2013

NFP talk at Blackfen with information on new resources

The Catholic Medical Association is active in Blackfen and have organised a talk on NFP to give some  updated information. Here are the details:
There will be a talk on Natural Family Planning at 7.30pm on Friday 18th October at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, 330a Burnt Oak lane, Blackfen DA15 8LW. This talk will be of interest to all medical, nursing ad health staff, but will also be suitable for parents to bring teenagers. Representatives from Couple to Couple League, Billings, Napro and FLI will run small groups to explain the various methods of charting.

It will include a brief presentation of the work of Mr John Kelly, who died recently. He was behind the National Association of Natural Family Planning Teachers, and started the Birmingham NFP service. In addition to his work as an obstetrician-gynaecologist in Birmingham, he set up hospitals in the poorest areas of the world. He was a highly skilled surgeon, repairing the lives of women with childbirth injuries, and training others in this work, whilst also creating care for women to deliver in safety. A collection will be made for this work.
Here is information about How to Get to Blackfen.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

"Pacem in Terris", magisterial teaching of Blessed John XXIII today reports on the Holy Father's address to participants in a three day conference, organised by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Encyclical Letter of Blessed John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, issued on Holy Thursday, 1963.

Seeing this item, I re-read the encyclical letter of the Pope who is soon to be canonised. As Pope Francis rightly notes, the immediate context of the letter was the cold war and the fear of a third world war even more terrible and destructive than the previous two which had brought such horror to the world.

We can also see in the great encyclicals of former popes much that is relevant to our own time and our own culture, since the encyclicals build on the constant teaching of the Church and the wisdom that has been handed on to us. I have copied and pasted a few quotations that struck me as being pertinent to us in England today:

First of all, a fundamental principle:
"Peace on Earth — which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after — can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order." (n.1)
Then something that was uncontroversial in 1963:
"The family, founded upon marriage freely contracted, one and indissoluble, must be regarded as the natural, primary cell of human society. The interests of the family, therefore, must be taken very specially into consideration in social and economic affairs, as well as in the spheres of faith and morals. For all of these have to do with strengthening the family and assisting it in the fulfilment of its mission. Of course, the support and education of children is a right which belongs primarily to the parents." (nn. 16-17)
An appeal to objective truth:
"Hence, before a society can be considered well-ordered, creative, and consonant with human dignity, it must be based on truth." (n.35)
And an affirmation that was taken up by Blessed John Paul, who is also to be canonised along with Blessed John XXIII, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae with regard to abortion and euthanasia which are contraventions of the moral order:
"Governmental authority, therefore, is a postulate of the moral order and derives from God. Consequently, laws and decrees passed in contravention of the moral order, and hence of the divine will, can have no binding force in conscience, since "it is right to obey God rather than men." (n.51)
In Britain, several cases have emerged in recent years where people have been arrested and held in cells because of the excessive concern for the rights of a particular minority, namely those with same-sex attraction. Blessed John XXIII would not have imagined these cases but states the principle:
"An excessive concern for the rights of any particular individuals or groups might well result in the principal advantages of the State being in effect monopolized by these citizens." (n.65)
This longer extract is fascinating in its prophetic understanding of the question of the proper association of minority groups - in this case, we might think of Muslims - in a society in which they form a part:
"It is worth noting, however, that these minority groups, in reaction, perhaps, to the enforced hardships of their present situation, or to historical circumstances, frequently tend to magnify unduly characteristics proper to their own people. They even rate them above those human values which are common to all mankind, as though the good of the entire human family should subserve the interests of their own particular groups. A more reasonable attitude for such people to adopt would be to recognize the advantages, too, which accrue to them from their own special situation. They should realize that their constant association with a people steeped in a different civilization from their own has no small part to play in the development of their own particular genius and spirit. Little by little they can absorb into their very being those virtues which characterize the other nation. But for this to happen these minority groups must enter into some kind of association with the people in whose midst they are living, and learn to share their customs and way of life. It will never happen if they sow seeds of disaffection which can only produce a harvest of evils, stifling the political development of nations." (n.97)
Finally, another consideration which bears on Catholic education:
"We consider too that a further reason for this very frequent divorce between faith and practice in Christians is an inadequate education in Christian teaching and Christian morality. In many places the amount of energy devoted to the study of secular subjects is all too often out of proportion to that devoted to the study of religion. Scientific training reaches a very high level, whereas religious training generally does not advance beyond the elementary stage. It is essential, therefore, that the instruction given to our young people be complete and continuous, and imparted in such a way that moral goodness and the cultivation of religious values may keep pace with scientific knowledge and continually advancing technical progress." (n.153)

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Pope Francis - mental reservation?

The other day, the Holy Father, in his interview published in La Repubblica, said that that he did not have any intention of converting the atheist Eugenio Scalfari. This has rather puzzled some of the faithful on account of the command of Jesus in Matthew 28.19 and elsewhere. One of my brother priests today offered me humorous explanation. He said that Pope Francis is a Jesuit and he was making a mental reservation. Although not intended as a serious explanation, it seems to me more pleasingly parsimonious than blaming the translation or saying that La Repubblica didn't report the interview accurately.

Incidentally, Fr Lombardi today confirmed that the Holy Father's interviews are not magisterial documents. You knew that, of course, but it is helpful to have it definitely stated. We do not have to give all of the Holy Father's opinions in these interviews that "religious submission of mind and will" (religiosum voluntatis et intellectus obsequium) mentioned in Lumen Gentium 25; we are free to disagree respectfully. Indeed Pope Benedict made it clear in the preface to his first book on Jesus of Nazareth that people were free to disagree with his opinions in the book.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Evelyn Waugh on the BBC

Evelyn Waugh, interviewed in 1960 by John Freeman, shows his contempt for the BBC and must count as one of the most difficult guests in TV history. Often, the interviewer asks the "closed" question to which there is a yes/no or other one word answer. Hilariously, Waugh obliges almost every time. The introduction by Joan Bakewell is best watched after the interview itself (which starts at 04'03") simply to see how misleading it is.

My favourite exchange is at 17'39" when Freeman asks Waugh what is the greatest gift that his Catholic faith has brought him, "in terms of tranquility or peace of mind or whatever" to which Waugh replies "Well it isn't a sort of lucky dip that you get something out of, you know ... it isn't a sort of added amenity of the welfare state ..." The closing exchange is also quite fun.

H/T Ave Maria Philosophy
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