Monday, 28 July 2014

Kindle screensavers

Kindle screen

The screensavers on Kindle, which appear when the device is switched off, are clever in their own way, but in these days of personalising everything, it does seem natural to want to replace them with other pictures. I usually do this with mobile phones, changing the background to a devotional picture.

Unfortunately, Kindle does not offer an easy way to personalise the screensavers, but ages ago I saw a note somewhere saying that it is possible. Today I decided to do it. Essentially you have to "jailbreak" the device and then use a screensaver hack. It's not all that difficult, though there are one or two pitfalls.

Please don't ask me for advice on how to do this - if you are confident enough to hack your Kindle, then you will be able to find the right instructions for your model and version on google. If you are doing it, however, I have uploaded some picture files that are the right size (600x800 - black borders where necessary) and format (png). They are in an album on my flickr account called "Kindle screensavers". Feel free to help yourself. Here's a nice one for this coming Saturday:


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Clear thinking from Dominicans on divorce and remarriage

Nova et Vetera has published an outstanding article by a team of American Dominicans: "Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment" looks at General Principles, proposals for Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried (drawing particularly from Cardinal Kasper's Consistory address), and proposals for changing the nullity process.

The article is clear, concise, and theologically robust. Although it refers frequently to recent Popes, Vatican II and the Catechism to reinforce the points made, I recognise the common corpus of the perennial Catholic theological approach, with a solid understanding of the teaching of Trent - and its all-important context.

With commendable clarity, the authors analyse the pastoral problem of the current despair over chastity, as well as the historical-doctrinal question of the teaching of the Council of Nicea on the subject of second marriages. On the subject of the canonical process for nullity, the crucial point is made that a canonical approach is pastoral in essence, while the abandonment of law has serious negative pastoral consequences.

Those who are highly competent in any area requiring in-depth technical knowledge show their expertise best by writing in a way that the non-expert can understand. This superb article is a good example. I pray that all of the Bishops taking part in the forthcoming Synod pay careful attention to it.

Monday, 21 July 2014

An Invitation to Blackfen for the Feast of St Alphonsus

Saturday 2 August is the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori in the old calendar, and in God's loving providence, this year it is the first Saturday of August, so we will have Missa Cantata at Blackfen at 10.30am. I'll be preaching on St Alphonsus (one of my favourite saints); I haven't composed the sermon yet, but following the great Doctor's example, I expect it will include some reflection on the four last things.

As this will be my last Saturday Missa Cantata at Blackfen (I am moving to Margate on 2 September) I would like to take this opportunity to invite any Hermeneutic of Continuity readers, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends to join us. After Mass, we will order pizza according to need, and the bar will be open. At 2.30pm there will be sung Vespers and Benediction.

No need to reply, just turn up if you can.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Some British diplomacy for papal interviews?

Following the news that Lord Patten of Barnes is to be the new communications supremo at the Holy See, I did wonder whether he might bring some British style diplomacy to what seems frankly a bit of a mess over the whole papal interview thing. You know - millions of commuters in London seeing the Metro front page claim that the Pope says that one in 50 priests is a pervert, dwarfing the news of Hamas threatening rocket attacks on Israel, Germany winning the World Cup, the Cabinet reshuffle and the forthcoming heatwave. A story like this was never going to get pushed to page 9 with the "Killer Gran who thought Cyclist was a Badger."

Here is the possible conversation that ran through my mind:
"Franco, Hi! Great to see you again, carissimo Papa! Shall we get down to the interview?"

"Sure, Eugenio. Have a seat. I trust you absolutely. Fire away my friend!"

"You know of course, Franco, I don't go for this recording-the-words gig - it's not very Italian."

"Hi, Eugenio, great to see you!" Lord Patten intervenes, oozing British charm you could bottle for Fortnum and Mason, "You know you're really very welcome and if I can speak on behalf of the Holy Father, we're all immensely grateful to you for taking the time to be with us. I do of course realise that Italian journalists dispense with slavishly recording every word: and what a jolly liberated way of carrying on that truly is! I hope you understand that here in the Holy See, we're a tad behind the times, and we do tend to want a, sort of, well, transcript of what the Holy Father actually said - you know, the words that in fact issued from the pontifical mouth, as it were. So if you can possibly bear it, and I know it's such a bore, I'll just put this little electronic thingy on the shelf over here. It won't intrude or make a noise or anything, and one of our chaps will just type it all up later. If you're interested, we can email over a copy to you."
Actually that wouldn't be all that British, come to think of it. Standard Operating Procedure would probably be to conceal the recorder anyway and not say anything about it. Then if it were necessary to quote some actually uttered words, His Lordship of Barnes could simply arrange for a minutante to pretend that he pressed the wrong button on his mobile phone and recorded the interview by accident.

Anything really would be better than what actually happened.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Confraternities of Catholic Clergy Rome Conference, January 2015

The American, Australian, British, and Irish Confraternities of Catholic Clergy will be represented at a Conference in Rome from 5-9 January 2015. The last conference was in 2010, and out of that conference came the desire to form Confraternities in Britain and Ireland. It was a stirring gathering and a great opportunity to meet priests from around the English-speaking world in the heart of Rome.

Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Burke, and Archbishop di Noia are featured in the programme, and you can guarantee that the rest of the line-up of speakers will also be inspiring and well worth travelling to hear. I will be attending the Conference myself and I warmly recommend it to brother priests.

For further details and registration, see the website: Confraternities of Catholic Clergy 2015 International Conference.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Film about the Claretian Martyrs of Barbastro

Thanks to the Eponymous Flower for notice of this film about the Claretian martyrs of Barbastro who were executed by the communists during the Spanish Civil War.

The film, directed by Pablo Moreno was given the "Silver Fish 2014" award for the best film, at the 5th International Catholic Film Festival Mirabile Dictu in Rome last month.

See the post A "Silver Fish” For “Un Dios prohibido” -- Catholic Film Festival Swims Against the Flow which has details of some of the other award winners.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Gregorian Chant Hymns: another great resource

Gregorian Chant Hymns is a new website that promotes the learning of Gregorian Chant by making sheet music, recordings, translations, and instructions. There is a short guide to Gregorian Notation (those square notes) and to Latin pronunciation. Everything is available free of charge, in line with other great traditional music websites.

To give you an idea of the quality of the recordings provided, have a listen to this recording of my favourite Latin devotional hymn, the Adoro te devote [embedded mp3]:

The website is focussed on popular Gregorian chant hymns and hymns and devotional chants. There are plenty of resources out there for the ordinary and the propers, so this fills a niche and provides an opening for people to make a start with Gregorian Chant. In modern education-speak, it would perhaps be called a "pathway."

The initiative comes from the Schola Sanctae Scholasticae and they have used material with permission and encouragement from other devotees of chant - you know, places like St Cecilia's, Ryde, Pluscarden, Solesmes... as well as other online promoters of chant such as CMAA and the Society of St Bede.

The Schola Sanctae Scholasticae (Dr Candy Bartoldus, Clare Bowskill, Julia Jones, and Martina Jelinkova) have sung at Blackfen and Brighton and if I am undeservedly blessed again, they just might find their way to visiting another seaside town before too long.

Bara Brith has posted on initial responses to the new website, but also includes a useful list of her other favourite resources.

Gregorian Chant Hymns is the fruit of much labour and is a welcome contributor to the grass roots revival of Catholic music and devotion.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Italian parish priest deemed crazy for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on communion for the divorced and remarried

In exalted ecclesiastical circles in Italy, there seems to be a new orthodoxy emerging with regard to the question of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. So strict is it that a parish priest gets a guided missile from the heart of the curia for his dissent.

Many readers follow Sandro Magister's English language blog, Chiesa, for its well-informed and incisive comment on Vatican affairs. Magister also writes an Italian language blog for L'Espresso, called Settimo Cielo which often has additional material of great interest.

A few days ago, in his article Cose da pazzi. Il cardinale Collins e il curato di campagna ("Crazy things. Collins and the country priest") Magister told of the reaction to Fr Tarcisio Vicario, a parish priest of the diocese of Novara in Italy who recently spoke about the question of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, saying:
"For the Church, which acts in the name of the Son of God, marriage between the baptised is alone and always a sacrament. Civil marriage and cohabitation are not a sacrament. Therefore those who place themselves outside of the Sacrament by contracting civil marriage are living a continuing infidelity. One is not treating of sin committed on one occasion (for example a murder), nor an infidelity through carelessness or habit, where conscience in any case calls us back to the duty of reforming ourselves by means of sincere repentance and a true and firm purpose of distancing ourselves from sin and from the occasions which lead to it."
The Bishop of Novara made it clear that an appeal to logic or the proper understanding of rehtorical analogy, would fall on deaf ears, characterising the priest's expression as:
"an unacceptable equation, even though introduced as an example, between irregular cohabitation and murder. The use of the example, even if written in brackets, proves to be inappropriate and misleading, and therefore wrong."
In fact Fr Vicario did not "equate" irregular cohabitation and murder. His whole point was that they are different - one is a permanent state where the person does not intend to change their situation, the other is a sin committed on a particular occasion where a properly formed conscience would call the person to repent and not commit the sin again.

The wrath descending upon poor Fr Vicario did not end with a rebuke from his Ordinary. Cardinal Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the forthcoming Synod, said that the words of Fr Vicario were "crazy, a strictly personal opinion of a parish priest who does not represent anyone, not even himself." ("una pazzia, un’opinione strettamente personale di un parroco che non rappresenta nessuno, neanche se stesso.")

Leaving aside the tortuous hyperbole (as Sir Bernard Wooley might interject, his opinion cannot be personal yet not represent himself) it must be asked why such a mainstream and orthodox opinion, expressed with clarity, should be the object of such vehement condemnation.

Sandro Magister's article makes a pertinent comparison between the words of the Italian country priest and those of Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, who was appointed in January this year as one of the five members of the Commission of Cardinals Overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion.

A week ago, on the eve of the publication of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod, Brandon Vogt interviewed Cardinal Collins for the Word on Fire blog. During the course of the interview, Cardinal Collins said:
Many people who are divorced, and who are not free to marry, do enter into a second marriage. There are various reasons that can lead to this, and their fellow parishioners should not occupy themselves speculating about them. Catholics in that tragic situation can be involved in many ways in the life of the community, but they may not receive the sacraments, such as Holy Communion, since whatever their personal disposition is or the reasons for their situation, known perhaps only to God, they are continuing in a way of life which is objectively against the clear command of Jesus. That is the point. The point is not that they have committed a sin; the mercy of God is abundantly granted to all sinners. Murder, adultery, and any other sins, no matter how serious, are forgiven by Jesus, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the forgiven sinner receives communion. The issue in the matter of divorce and remarriage is one’s conscious decision (for whatever reason) to persist in a continuing situation of disconnection from the command of Jesus. Although it would not be right for them to receive the sacraments, we need to find better ways to reach out to people in this situation, to offer them loving assistance.
Sandro Magister is quite right to point out that Cardinal Collins did not say anything different from Fr Vicario. And he is quite right to ask whether he too is to be accused of being crazy.

By way of a postscript, did you notice that there seems to be a slide forming? Are we now no longer limited to considering Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried, but widening the question to all "irregular cohabitation"? I hope that the higher ecclesiastics consider the pastoral question of how long couples have to be cohabiting before they can receive Holy Communion? Parish priests such as myself and Fr Vicario need to know where the line is to be drawn.

I suppose everyone might agree that a one-night stand is not sufficient (though who knows what might be proposed by the real crazies in this debate?) But would a few weeks of shacking-up with the girlfriend or boyfriend, moving in your Playstation and bagging a few drawers for your clothes, put you in a fit state to receive Holy Communion?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

CD 284: on using an iPad in Church

I use my iPad to follow the readings at Mass, for prayers after Communion and sometimes to follow the chant. Last week someone behind me tutted loudly. Is it wrong to use an iPad in Church?

Some readers might say “Yes, you should be using an Android tablet” but I prescind from that argument. There is no intrinsic reason why you should not use an electronic device to read the scriptures or the text of prayers and devotions. The iPieta app is a wonderful collection of spiritual writings, scripture, theology and magisterial teaching, and I know several Choir Directors who find the Liber Pro app an amazing resource for Gregorian chant.

One potential problem with using any backlit device in Church is that the bright screen could distract others. A small phone can be hidden but a tablet is likely to catch peoples’ eyes from quite some distance, especially if the lighting in the Church is subdued. In the current state of technology, the use of an e-book reader is less problematic in that it is not a light source; with a discreet cover, it can be made to look quite like a book and therefore not scandalise people who think that others should not play with what they think are just silly toys.

Let us be honest as well that if the use of tablets in Church becomes popular, some people will not resist the opportunity to check their email or catch up on their favourite blogs. If you are ever tempted to do this, consider whether you would start texting people in Church or take out a copy of the Daily Mail. The use of a device that is connected to the internet will always require a certain discipline.

We do not know what new hardware may become available even in the relatively short term. The Church was in the forefront of making use of the new technology of moveable type and Pope Benedict has several times encouraged us to use technology in the service of the Gospel.

And by the way, tutting at others in Church is not quite the thing either.

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

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