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St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner

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The single most celebrated quotation from St Irenaeus, the apostolic Father who lived from about 130 to about 202AD is “Gloria Dei vivens homo.” (Adversus Haereses 20-1-7) As my old patristics teacher, Father Antonio Orbe once said as politely as he could to a student who wanted to study the dictum for his dissertation: “This phrase is very often cited, but always wrongly understood.”
Not a statement of self-actualising psychobabble The venerable professor said this because the much-quoted statement used to be widely misused to enlist St Irenaeus as a supporter of the personalist psychology of the 1970s. In this context, it would usually be quoted as “The glory of God is man fully alive” by which is meant man fully self-actualised, replete with “healthy” self-esteem.

You could find this misinterpretation of St Irenaeus in books written by priest psychologists, in pastoral letters, and in sermons. I have sadly even seen it filter down to Catholic schools as a way of getting across the…

"Una stilla": a reflection on the Precious Blood

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The power of the blood of Jesus to redeem us from our sins is infinite. St Thomas puts it graphically by saying that one drop (una stilla) is enough to save the whole world from every crime. Here is the verse from the hymn Adoro te Devote and the unsurpassed translation by Edward Caswall:
Pie Pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo Sanguine:
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

O loving Pelican! O Jesus, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in thy blood;
of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.
With him is plentiful redemption In his reflection on the great power of one drop of the precious blood, Father Faber focuses on the copiousness of our redemption:
“The worth of one drop of the Precious Blood is simply infinite; consequently, no imaginary arithmetic of possible creations will convey any adequate idea of its overwhelming magnificence. Alas! the very copiousness of our redemption makes our view of it less cle…

A document I missed, a twofold annoyance, and a retraction

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A document I missed Many thanks to TD who emailed me to point out that the question of uniformity of posture after Holy Communion has actually been dealt with by the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal George, O.M.I., Chairman of the US Bishops Committee on the Liturgy, sent a Dubium to the CDW and received a response from the Prefect, Cardinal Arinze. Here is the text, courtesy of EWTN:
5 June 2003

Prot. n. 855/03/L

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and …

Two forthcoming High Masses at Sacred Heart Bournemouth

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Solemn High Nuptial Mass This coming Saturday 22 June at 2.30pm Stephanie Hogan and Andrew McDowell celebrate their wedding with Nuptial Mass in the usus antiquior at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, the home of the Bournemouth Oratory in Formation.

As is always the case with a public Mass in a Catholic Church, everybody is welcome. Obviously the family cannot invite everyone to the wedding reception afterwards, but it is a great thing when Catholics come to a wedding and to Mass just because they want to take part with their prayers and assistance at the conferral of a sacrament and the offering of Mass, and pray for the newly-married couple. You don't need a specific invitation to do this.

UPDATE
You do in fact have a blogged invitation! Both for the Mass at Bournemouth and for a Missa Cantata in Durham two weeks later. See Andrew's post at Catholic Collar and TieFrom Andrew: News of an upcoming Wedding...mine!
First Mass on the feast of St Pe…

3 (slightly ranty) suggestions for when you are ordered to stand until everyone has received Holy Communion

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In North America, it seems that there is a fashion (for that is the kind of thing that it is) for Bishops and priests to order the holy people of God, once they have returned to their place after Holy Communion, to remain standing until the last person has received Holy Communion. As a priest I find it baffling that some of my brethren feel the need to regiment the faithful in this way. I understand the concept of a “common bodily posture” being a sign of unity, though I think its value is exaggerated. Allowing people to kneel, sit or stand as they prefer, during a time of silent prayer after Holy Communion is not likely to cause any great spiritual disunity, whereas telling people to stand, contrary to a centuries old tradition of kneeling after Holy Communion, will cause disunity, anger and frustration.

Just to give a reference point: in the traditional Roman liturgy, on the sanctuary, the clergy in choir would kneel until the celebrant had consumed the second ablution, that is, un…

Don't forget Blessed Teofilius Matulionis

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Tomorrow is the feast day of Blessed Teofilius Matulionis, the proto-martyr of Lithuania who spent many years in prison because of his faith; the communists brutally murdered him in 1962. He was beatified at Vilnius in 2017. In many places in England, there is now a significant number of people from the Baltic states who are coming regularly to Mass. It would be great to acknowledge their recently beatified hero. I wrote about him after his beatification: Blessed Teofilius Matulionis, Martyr of Lithuania and here are links for Lithuanian readers:

Official website
Teofilius Matulionis - Vikipedija
T. Matulionis – vyskupas sovietinėje mėsmalėje

If you are a priest and celebrating according to the modern calendar, you could offer a votive Mass in his honour tomorrow. If you celebrate according to the traditional calendar, you'll have to wait a little, but it would be great for us to make room for this great martyr in our devotions.

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement - an evening at The Keys

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Yesterday I spent an enjoyable evening with The Keys, the Guild of Catholic Writers which meets at the Jesuit Church of Farm Street in Mayfair. There is Mass, then dinner, then the meeting; this seems to me a good way of arranging things. Last night, Paul Shrimpton gave an excellent talk on how the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman influenced Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany. It was moving for me to hear Paul speak, since our paths last crossed in about 1979 when we were both undergraduates at Oxford.

I wrote about Sophie Scholl ten years ago in the post White Rose - White Flower, highlighting John Smeaton's appeal for us to see the movement as a parallel to the pro-life movement today. Then in 2012 I found out about a Moving film of Sophie Scholl. (You can find the full version of the film free on YouTube at this link.) The inspiring courage of these young people is especially important for us today. They faced an authoritarian attack on free speech,…

Calling the modern lectionary into question

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The other day, Rorate Caeli published a lecture given by Dr Kwasniewski at the Sacra Liturgia conference in 2015 in New York, on the reform of the lectionary. See: 50 Years of a Religious and Cultural Catastrophe: When the Yearly Biblical Readings of Immemorial Tradition Were Cast Away

At the heart of the discussion over the modern rite lectionary is the question of the purpose of the scripture texts at Mass. Until recently, it was unheard of to suggest that there was any other purpose than the instruction of the faithful. Kwasnieski argues that the lessons have first and foremost "an ecclesial identity, a sacerdotal orientation, and a eucharistic finality." This question is crucial in the discussion of such matters as the length of texts or the manner in which the scripture is presented at Mass: who reads it, which direction they face, what they wear, whether they speak or chant...

The purpose of the lessons also nags away in the background when we come to decide whether t…

Must we call it the Sacrament of Reconciliation rather than the Sacrament of Confession?

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You may have come across expert VaticanIIologians who say that we should not speak of the Sacrament of Confession or of Penance any more, but use the sacrament’s shiny new name, given to it by the Second Vatican Council: The Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This is nonsense. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Sacrament of Penance, Confession, and Reconciliation. The Code of Canon Law also uses all three terms. Hard-working parish volunteer catechists should be reassured that it is still perfectly proper to use the term Confession and it makes sense to do so because that is the name by which it is most commonly known. For adults under instruction, it might be helpful to explain the other terms since they tell us something about the sacrament. However, it is worth knowing why the term “reconciliation” is used, and what its significance is, since this is widely misunderstood.
Vatican II’s “astonishing enactment” In Lumen Gentium, the Council fathers dealt with the sacraments…

Three Things that are Wrong about Making Everyone Stand after Holy Communion

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In some places in the USA there is a custom of people going back to their place after Holy Communion and then remaining standing until everybody has received Holy Communion. (What happens then? Does everybody kneel or does everybody sit? If I gave you 5-1 odds for everyone sitting, I think I would come out quids in.) Sadly, I understand that this postural uniformity is mandated by some Bishops. In case there is any danger of its creeping across the Atlantic, I would like to offer some negative comment. I have selected Three Things that are wrong with this imposition – and free of charge, you get a Bonus Wrong Thing.
1st Wrong Thing. It interferes with a proper desire to adore God and to be recollected. In the period immediately after Holy Communion, the holy people of God quite rightly want to adore Jesus Christ and to be recollected . Kneeling down is a posture suitable to earnest prayer and adoration. The order for everybody to stand is presumably meant in some way to reinforce the…

5 Things about Votive Masses to bring up under AOB at the Parish Council Meeting

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Votive Masses need to be better known and more often celebrated. So if your Parish Council Meeting needs a little groundswell of devotional zip, here are some Things about Votive Masses to know and share. Thing 3 is especially important.
Thing 1. They are not a medieval invention The earliest liturgical books that we have, such as the Leonine Sacramentary contain Masses for special intentions. By the time of the Gregorian Sacramentary, these were called Missae Votivae. These were Masses that did not correspond to the office of the day, which would be sung according to the season. Votive Masses probably go back right to the beginning of our liturgical history. What happened during the middle ages is that votive Masses became more common. It was a sensible reform to limit them to a certain degree so that they were restricted in the main, to days on which there was not a major celebration in the Church’s calendar.
Thing 2. They are allowed more often than people think It may be that you h…

Popular posts from this blog

St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner

"Una stilla": a reflection on the Precious Blood

A document I missed, a twofold annoyance, and a retraction

3 (slightly ranty) suggestions for when you are ordered to stand until everyone has received Holy Communion

Two forthcoming High Masses at Sacred Heart Bournemouth