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Showing posts from November, 2013

Culture war and the joy of the gospel

I was moved by this video of young men protecting the Cathedral of San Juan in Argentina. Pro-abortionists provoke them with various insults and physical assualts, including lesbian displays. There is no response except the recitation of the Rosary.

The abuse and intimidation that these good men put up with is diabolical. This is perhaps a good place to start in the discussion of what constitutes evangelisation and what can be dismissed as inward-looking concern. The culture war is real and we do need to stand up for the truth, taking the meekness of Christ as our model. It seems to me that these men are doing a good and courageous thing. They can help us find the boundary line between witness to the love of Christ, and that self-absorbed neopelagian narcissistic elitistm which, or course, we need to avoid.

Bishop Davies invites us to courage and constancy in faith

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Bishop Mark Davies has issued a pastoral letter for the Diocese of Shrewsbury for the close of the Year of Faith. He refers to the hostility shown to Our Lord on the Cross ("he saved others ... let Him save Himself) and recalls the violence and intimidation suffered by Christians in many parts of the world today. Bishop Davies helpfully refers people to religious freedom report of Aid to the Church in Need: Persecuted and Forgotten?

He points out that this persecution suffered by others gives perspective to the antagonism that we might experience and invites us to a renewed profession of faith. He recalls his own motto Nihil sine Christo (nothing without Christ) and calls us to turn to the grace of Christ and above all to Christ present in the Eucharist. He concludes:
I have no doubt that the future of our Diocese will be decided by the courage and constancy of such faith. In my first letter to the Diocese three years ago I echoed the prayer of the first apostles who said to th…

Juventutem High Mass Friday

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This Friday 29 November at 7.30pm there will be a solemn High Requiem Mass at St Mary Moorfields (Eldon Street, London EC2M 7LS) for the repose of the souls of the benefactors of Juventutem.

Afterwards there will be a social for those aged 18-35 in the hall under the Church. (For the standard discussion, see my post on Age-limited Catholic events,)

The Mass itself is, of course, open to everyone and all are welcome.

UPDATE: A correspondent informs me that the illustration in the poster is by Martin Travers (d.1948) and is used to illustrate the Anglican Missal. Anglican Patrimony ...

Fr Kocik on priests participating at Mass in choro

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The other day I posted my Catholic Dilemma article (published in the Catholic Herald) on the subject of Priests in choir at wedding. I suggested "you could print off from the internet an article about the meaning of a priest assisting at Mass in choir."

In 2006, Fr Thomas Kocik wrote just such an article for the excellent journal Antiphon: Preaching through the Choir: The Merits of Assisting at Mass In choro. I recommend this as an introduction, especially given our present context, that of a general preference for concelebration. As Fr Kocik points out, the priest should normally only celebrate Mass once a day. Most Bishops give their priests general permission to celebrate Mass twice on a weekday and three times on a Sunday or Holyday of Obligation if there is a pastoral need.

Very often, a priest attending a wedding, clergy funeral or diocesan celebration will already have celebrated his parish weekday Mass. There is no pastoral reason for him to celebrate Mass again and…

Alarm, scourging, anguish and rage - or not

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You know how it is when the local paper reports on a priest who expresses polite and reasoned criticism of the proposed withdrawal of funds for a drop-in centre or something. He is always "furious" or "outraged". This week's Tablet article "The new culture war" is a bit like that with its subheading:
Parishes report a surge in Mass attendance, inspired by Pope Francis. Commentators, even in the avowedly secular Guardian newspaper, praise his openness and humanity. But a vocal conservative minority are enraged by the new Pontiff and all he stands for. The article refers in particular to Fr Zuhlsdorf, Germain Grisez, Rorate Caeli, Sensible Bond, Hilary White, and myself. Here's my bit:
Fr Tim Finigan, a traditionalist priest in London, has expressed his alarm as "the bad news piles up". The priest is a scourge of "liberal commentators who rubbished the authentic Magisterium" of recent Popes. A recent entry in his Hermeneutic of …

CD 274: Priests in choir at wedding

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 Cañizar…

Faith of Our Fathers DVD reviving knowledge of the English Martyrs

Devotion to the English Martyrs needs to be re-awakened. In the 1960s there was considerable interest before their canonisation by Pope Paul VI in 1970 but in recent years the fervour has grown lukewarm.

St Anthony Communications has produced a fine set of two DVDs which gives an excellent introduction which would be good viewing for schools and youth groups, and for parishes generally. Fr Holden and Fr Schofield take us on a travelogue in London, Lancashire, Yorkshire and other places of interest, showing hiding-holes for priests, and chapels of Catholic houses that sustained the faith a great cost during penal times. At Tyburn, one of the Sisters explains the process of hanging, drawing and quartering in a way that is all the more harrowing for her gentle and sober description.

The total running time of the DVDs is 114 minutes but the scene selection option makes it possible to show shorter extracts in class or for a parish group. You can purchase the DVDs from St Anthony Communicat…

Response to Synod Questionnaire

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As promised, here is the text of my response to the Synod Questionnaire. I have tried to follow my own suggestions and keep it succinct and to the point.

I have tried to focus especially on the importance of giving the teaching of the magisterium on human life and the family as a positive and life-giving teaching, and on the importance of the apostolate of good Catholic families.

I do encourage you to make your own response. You can find the questions at the Synod's page at the Vatican website, or at the website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales where there is the option to fill out the survey online. In addition to sending it in by the online survey or to your diocesan representative, you may send a copy direct to the Synod Office. (Via della Conciliazione, 34 - 00120 Citta del Vaticano - synodus@synod.va)

Wow! Film with Russell Crowe as Noah ...

... and it also has Emma Watson, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins. Some in the press hate Russell Crowe because he is humorously rude to them when they ask stupid questions. (Perhaps this is why "Master and Commander", arguably one of the best films evvvuuuuh, received little critical acclaim, and why nobody seems to have heard of the excellent "Proof of Life.")

The film is to be released next March. I'm certainly not expecting it to be a piece of bible scholarship but the trailer does promise some manly recognition of the power of God, and the prospect of seeing Russell Crowe as Noah, head-to-head with Ray Winstone is just too good to be missed. (It is scheduled for release next March.)

If only Russell Crowe or Mel Gibson would do something with the life of St Edmund Campion.

Our Lady as an example for our use of social media

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The book of meditations which I am using at the moment looks at the person of Our Lady in relation to her dedication which is celebrated in today's feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin. The author, relying on the doctrine of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception and her freedom from any actual sin, speculates:
"We must necessarily suppose that Mary bears patiently every annoyance caused her by others without, on her part, causing them the least pain: she excuses their defects, pardons their obvious faults, and in all circumstances shows herself tender, affable, gracious, and considerate." We can give the author the benefit of the doubt here in presuming that he is referring to the ordinary ups and downs of daily life, rather than to grave injustice. In the latter case, we might need to make people at least uncomfortable. Rather than quibbling over such things, we could take a lesson from Our Lady in our use of social media. (And let me acknowledge unequivocall…

Catholic publication's astonishing encomium of Peter Tatchell

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The above photo is of Peter Tatchell on the Euro Pride march in 2006. "Pope 'Betty' Benedict XVI - Queen of Homophobia" might be considered offensive to Catholics, no? The report on the Peter Tatchell Website, has further information:
"The Pope talks like a gay man, walks like a gay man and dresses like a gay man. Some people might conclude he is a gay man," said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT rights group, OutRage!

"If the Pope is gay, his hypocrisy is breath-taking. Why is he constantly bashing the gay community if he is gay? Is he using homophobia to deflect rumours about his own sexuality?" No.

Tatchell also helped to co-ordinate the 2010 Protest the Pope rally in London. In the wake of that, his website quotes him as saying:
"Thanks to everyone who joined the march. We made a difference. The protest was reported worldwide, which helped expose the Pope’s sexist, homophobic and reactionary dogmas to hundreds of millions of people." Here …

Guild meeting - numbers needed

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Just a reminder of the meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma on Saturday 30 November at Blackfen (here are directions.) Do come along if you can - it is great to meet fellow bloggers (and tweeters) face-to-face. There is plenty of time to chat over lunch.

The speaker has now been confirmed as Dr Adrian Treloar who will give an illustrated talk on the miracles of Lourdes from both a medical and spiritual perspective. I have heard the talk myself before and it is quite fascinating.

As we are providing the food, it would be helpful to have an idea of numbers. Please could you email me at info@blackfencatholic.org to let me know if you are coming. (If you forget to do this or find at the last minute that you are free, do still come.)

Fr Hunwicke returns to the blogosphere

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Fr John Hunwicke's last post on his blog Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment, was the fourth in a series of valuable posts on the phrase eodem tamen sensu eademque sententia which was used by Blessed John XXIII in Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, his address inaugurating the second Vatican Council.

He is now back, with a post today on the new Ordinariate Ordo Missae, You Need To Be Here. It would be a good idea to put a link to his blog somewhere where you can find new posts easily.

A few days' rest in Eastbourne

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Last week, before the preparation for Christmas starts in earnest, Fr Briggs and I managed to get away for three days' R&R in Eastbourne. The parish priest, Fr Raglan Hay-Will (an old friend from College days) is always very hospitable and allows us to invade his sacristy and to celebrate Mass in the morning in his beautiful Church of Our Lady of Ransom. I got to use the High Altar with its splendid reredos while Fr Briggs celebrated at the Lady Altar which has a much-prized frontal. Local members of the Latin Mass Society in Arundel and Brighton always find someone to serve Mass and are glad to have the opportunity to assist at Mass according to the usus antiquior.

No trip to Eastbourne is complete without a walk over Beachy Head and there are always new photographs to be taken as above. Here is one where my little camera did some hi-jinx with the low winter sun:

Remembering Canon Redford RIP

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In 1976-77, I spent a year at Wonersh and had the benefit of Fr (later Canon) John Redford's course on the psalms which was sensibly given to the first year to help them to gain spiritual fruit from the recitation of the Divine Office. He also ran an optional class in Hebrew which I took, and for which I have always been grateful.

Canon Redford was a convert from evangelical Anglicanism. He loved to tell the story of coming home from one of Billy Graham's crusade meetings in London with thousands of eager Christians pouring into the tube station. The platform attendant shouted "Alleluia! Mind the doors!" He had a lively sense of humour and, as a man with some distinct mannerisms, was the butt of jokes from the students which he always took in good part.

His firm and outspoken orthodoxy was not universally welcomed in the 1970s but his expertise in the scriptures could not but be respected. He has helped many students over the years to find their way out of the confu…

Cardinal Erdo and Blessed John Paul on surveys

Cardinal Erdo, Relator of the Extraordinary Synod Bishops on the Family, has given an interview to CNS (see the video above.)

He makes the point that the consultation was addressed directly to Bishops' Conferences but also to individual Bishops - and that they have the responsibility of consulting the Church entrusted to their pastoral care. He also makes it clear that this is not a survey of public opinion as though we might make the message of the Gospel or the magisterium of the Church depend on an opinion survey.

Many thanks to a correspondent for drawing my attention to a quotation from Blessed John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio. He speaks of the supernatural sense of faith in evangelical discernment but then says:
The "supernatural sense of faith" however does not consist solely or necessarily in the consensus of the faithful. Following Christ, the Church seeks the truth, which is not always the same as the majority opinion. She listens to conscience and not t…

That Consultation: some suggestions

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It is all quite normal procedure for the Holy See machinery. A document is produced with various questions for consultation: some of them straightforward and some of them seemingly convoluted, especially for those brought up in the English/US academic tradition. Responses are then collated into some sort of document for the Bishops meeting at the forthcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family.

Not unreasonably, our Bishops have run with the idea that everyone should have the chance to respond to the consultation and have used the tools now available to make it easy for people to respond either by email or online. In the culture of the Holy See this has come as a bit of a shock. (Remember Fr Zuhlsdorf's joke that at the Vatican it is "yesterday's technology tomorrow.") Adding to the fog of confusion have been the inevitable stupid headlines in English language media hailing the consultation as a way for lay people to change the teaching of the Church on contraception …

Thoroughly enjoying a Baptism

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One of the functions I most enjoy as a parish priest is baptising babies. On Sunday, it was the turn of Caspar Emmanuel, second son of Matthew and Benna Schellhorn. Matthew is the Latin Mass Society Representative for Southwark North and we were blessed with a visit from Joseph Shaw, the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society and his family. (Joseph also has his own blog which is well worth reading.)

I wrote previously about Baptism in the Usus Antiquior and it is the form I usually use, though normally I do most of the prayers in English, with the exorcisms and the form in Latin. Yesterday it was Latin all the way through, which I enjoyed. We also had the blessing of the mother, Benna, after childbirth, and a prayer of consecration of Caspar to Our Blessed Lady.

Grace is not a substance and therefore I know this is a theologically inept expression, but here I am, holding a new little saint filled to bursting with sanctifying grace :-)


More photos...
Flickr Set: Matthew Schellhorn
Flickr …

St Kevin's in Dublin - a flourishing Summorum Pontificum apostolate

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Two of my altar servers went on a family visit to Dublin over half term. For Sunday Mass, they went to St Kevin's Churchin Rathmines, Dublin 8, which is the home of the Dublin Latin Mass Chaplaincy. They were given a warm welcome by Fr Gerard Deighan and John the sacristan and were able to join the regular servers for the 10.30am Mass. The Church was packed with several hundred people both from Dublin itself and from as far afield as Wicklow.

Since the traditional Mass is the same everywhere with only minor differences (depending on the layout of the sanctuary and sometimes incidental local customs) servers are able to join in easily anywhere around the world that the older form is celebrated. I'm very grateful that the boys were made so welcome - many thanks to Fr Deighan and his team.

The Dublin Latin Mass Chaplaincy was established by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin on 15 September 2007, in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum (the day after the Motu Proprio came…

Zacchaeus story sung for children

The album "Joy is Like the Rain" was released by the Medical Mission Sisters in 1966. My father bought a copy to play to children at primary school in the hall during wet playtimes: I think he considered that it was at least a healthy alternative to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Looking at the texts for today's Masses (I have to double-up on this since we have both forms of the Roman Rite in my parish) I started humming the song in the above video when reading the gospel of Zacchaeus in the modern rite.

There is a charming innocence and simplicity in the Sisters' songs which disappeared in the monstrous offerings of the seventies (covered in the Bad Hymns series by Eccles and Bosco is saved.) Perhaps they were trained in Gregorian chant and brought this timbre to jaunty guitar songs.

I think that this and one or two other tracks might even still be useful for an infant class learning stories from the gospels. But, just to be clear, not at Mass. For Mass, you ca…

Pope Francis celebrates ad orientem

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Just for the record, really, the Holy Father has celebrated Mass ad orientem in the Patriarchal Basilica of St Peter. This will be some reassurance for parish clergy who celebrate Mass ad orientem in their parishes. Telegraph blogger Tim Stanley (who is always worth reading, by the way) has written about this today. In the article, he says:
The likeliest interpretation of this isn't that Francis is a liturgical conservative but rather that he just doesn't care about the protocol sensitivities of either trads or liberals. We have a Pope who, for better and worse, isn't that bothered about liturgy and is far more focused on evangelism and charity. That's bad in the sense that it means traditionalists have lost a champion in the Vatican (Benedict was a fairly reliable friend) but good in the sense that the liturgy is likely to become de-politicised. Face the people, don't face the people – all that matters is doctrinal orthodoxy and conducting the Mass in the right s…

Relics of St Anthony

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Two relics of St Anthony of Padua are being taken to various Churches and Cathedrals in England. The website of the Diocese of Shrewsbury has an account of the visit to the Church of St Francis in Chester yesterday. There was a full Church for Mass, celebrated by Bishop Davies, and thousands of people venerated the relics

In his homily at the Mass, Bishop Davies spoke of how these visits "represent nothing less than the return of the Saints into the lives of the faithful and to the forefront of our Christian witness."

The Shrewsbury website also carries Pope Benedict's  General Audience address on St Anthony. (You might also like this story of a humorous incident in my parish involving St Anthony.)

The programme of visits is nearly over, but there will be veneration and Mass this evening at St George's Cathedral in Southwark, tomorrow at Westminster Cathedral, and on Sunday at St Peter's Italian Church in Clerkenwell. (See the programme for details.)

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