Posts

Absurd anti-Catholic claim in China merits Tertullian's satirical response

Image
The website of the Society of St Pius X has a useful news service which often picks up stories that do not feature elsewhere. Today this story caught my eye: " China: Catholics Accused of Spreading the Coronavirus ". The WeChat and Weibo messaging services have a novel conspiracy theory, that the new wave of Covid-19 is the fault of the Catholic faithful being gathered together by "foreign priests" in the Hebei province. The SSPX article quotes AsiaNews, a widely respected source from The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, originally in Italian, which has had an English and Chinese edition since 2003. Their article " Hebei, Christians labelled ‘spreaders’. The return of Nero " has more detail. The reference to Nero recalls how he set fire to Rome and then blamed the Christians. Perhaps even more relevant is the exasperated satire of Tertullian in his Apologeticum (c.40). It fits quite well. For those who read Latin, it would be wrong to negle

New book on the Our Father shares a loving familiarity with the sacred text

Image
Our Father. A Biblical Meditation on the Lord’s Prayer. By Sr Claire Waddelove OSB. Gracewing. 190pp £12.99 St Teresa of Avila says that Our Lord will help us to understand that “though we have had to say the Paternoster many times, He heard us the first time.” She goes on to say that even if we take a whole hour to say it, we need not worry if we realise that we are in the presence of the Father, if we understand what we are asking of Him, and if we are confident that, like any father, he wants to grant us his favour. Sister Claire Waddelove is following in a fine tradition of commentary on the Our Father, including some of the greatest saints. Yet we may be grateful that she has not been overwhelmed by this. We always need to receive a fresh reading of the prayer that Our Lord gave us as the model for all prayer. Sister Claire’s particular contribution is to present a synopsis of scriptural texts for each section of the prayer, encouraging us to use the texts as a springboard fo

Thomas Becket: the simple but daunting question he puts before us today

Image
There is much discussion about the faults of St Thomas Becket before he became Archbishop of Canterbury. Alban Butler, who could hardly be accused of lack of sympathy, said that as well as being decisive and intelligent, with great leadership qualities, he showed an excess of magnificence when travelling in state (he scandalised the French in this regard) Butler also says that he was proud, irascible, and violent. Fr Thomas Hogan who has recently led a popular Novena to the Saint, on Twitter, and wrote a biography which was published earlier this year [ Thomas Becket: Defender of the Church   from OSV ,  also on Amazon ] recently commented that, “Remorseful & penitential, he could be angry, rash, imprudent, vengeful, coldly tactical; gentle & forgiving at times to Henry, but often annoyed at the Pope. Passionate & aloof, he was a work in progress.” After his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury and his spiritual conversion, he wore a hair shirt and a black cassock in

Cancelling Christmas and preparing the way for the turkey

Image
On Sunday, many newspapers announced that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had solemnly proclaimed that he had been compelled to cancel Christmas. I found this amusing and wondered if he had sent a negotiating team by time travel to the reign of Caesar Augustus, tasked by Her Majesty’s Government to persuade the High Priest, to petition God the Father to delay the incarnation for the time being. An anonymous spokesman from 10 Downing Street would then brief the media that although saving the human race was important, it was necessary first of all to save the NHS. Of course the Prime Minister didn’t really mean that and we may have sympathy for him in making difficult decisions. We should pray for him and for all those who hold civil power. Unfortunately, however Christmas for many is far removed from the celebration of the incarnation of the second person of the Blessed Trinity. It may seem that Christmas has indeed been cancelled for anyone who has been preparing the way for th

From the Immaculate Conception to the Blessed Sacrament

Image
St John the Baptist clearly states he is not the one who is to come, but that there is indeed one who is to come, the Christ, or Messiah, who had been expected through long ages. St John the Baptist’s exalted vocation was to be the last and greatest of the prophets, the one privileged finally to prepare the way for Him. St Paul says that Our Lord is “before all, and by him all things consist.” (Col 1:17) In another place, he says that God “chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world.” (Eph 1:4) If we follow many theologians, especially those of the Franciscan school, we can read St Paul as indicating that the very incarnation of Christ was in the mind, or the wisdom, of the Blessed Trinity from before all creation, to bring us to the fullness of life in Him. The means by which we are given the fullness of life here on earth is the Blessed Sacrament, our Holy Communion with God, through the body and blood of Christ. The sacred flesh and blood of Our Lord is united to His

Retirement of Bishop Patrick Lynch

Image
Pope Francis has accepted the request of Bishop Patrick Lynch (auxiliary in Southwark) to retire slightly early on health grounds. Bishop Lynch has had special responsibility for the deaneries of the SE London area, including the parish of Blackfen where I served for many years and Lewisham where I now live in semi-retirement. I wish him well. If you are tempted to ask me details such as dates, here is the page on the ever-helpful Catholic Hierarchy website for Bishop Lynch . The following is a statement from Archbishop John Wilson: Archdiocese of Southwark The Retirement of Bishop Patrick Lynch SS.CC We are grateful to the Holy Father for granting this request and for the support of Archbishop Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain. We thank the Religious Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary for the gift of Bishop Pat to the Archdiocese of Southwark, first as a priest and then as a Bishop. As he now steps back from the formal office of Auxiliary Bishop,

Happy Thanksgiving

Image
  A very Happy Thanksgiving to all readers in the United States of America. I hope that you have a lovely turkey, pumpkin pie and all the rest. May God bless your families and may God bless America.

Saint Catherine, a patron much needed today

Image
One of the pictures that I most treasure is the central panel of the St John Altarpiece by Hans Memling. It was commissioned for the altar of the Old St John’s Hospital in Bruges and completed in 1479. The work is still there, though no longer adorning an altar. The Sint-Janshospitaal is a place that I have visited many times over the years on my regular trips to that beautiful city. On the left of the picture, the infant Jesus places a wedding ring on the finger of St Catherine who has, on the floor beside her, the famous wheel, broken, at her knees, together with the sword with which she was beheaded. The legend of St Catherine tells that before her baptism, Our Lady asked the infant Jesus to receive St Catherine among his servants. After her baptism, Our Lady presented her request again, and this time Our Lord placed a wedding ring on her finger. This mystical marriage shaped her life and her death. As a high-ranking intellectual, so the legend continues, St Catherine was chall

Saint Jude advises three ways of correcting sinners

Image
Statue of St Jude at Faversham Many good Catholics know St Jude as the patron saint of hopeless cases. His shrines are popular places of devotion. In my own Archdiocese of Southwark in England, we have the National Shrine of St Jude at Faversham. We should remember that St Jude also wrote an epistle (of just one chapter) which is found in the first nocturn of Mattins for today’s feast. It is regarded as an obscure epistle, difficult to interpret. The apostle refers to Henoch, whose books are not included in the canonical scriptures, and he refers to a cosmic battle of St Michael against Satan, contending over the body of Moses. St Jude tells us that St Michael did not presume to pronounce judgement on the devil, but said Imperet tibi Dominus! , “may the Lord rebuke you”, an appeal which forms part of the prayer to St Michael which we say after Low Mass. In verses 22 to 23 the apostle teaches us of three ways in which we ought to respond to sinners and the faithless, depending on t

Mass rocks, the devotion of the people, and encouragement for priests from St John Paul

Image
Mullaghgarve Mass Rock, Slieve Anierin - stone altar It was very sad to hear that in the Republic of Ireland, the celebration of Holy Mass in Churches has recently been suspended once again. The Irish Republic is now the only country in Europe where it is not possible to attend a public Mass in Church. Public Masses had previously been suspended from 13 March, until 29 June when they were allowed again, but with a limit of 50 people attending. They were suspended anew on 5 October, though Churches are open for private prayer. These measures were taken in response to guidance from the government of the Republic of Ireland. Yesterday, William Thomas at the National Catholic Register posted an article Ireland’s ‘Mass Rocks’ Are Becoming Popular Again . (H/T Fr Z: IRELAND: The longings and the lessons in the Mass Rocks ) After Oliver Cromwell's destructive violence, Catholic bishops and priests were banned from Ireland, though some remained, at the risk of their lives, to offer t

"Christ our Eucharist": A sermon given at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane

Image
Corpus Christi: High Altar On 3 September this year, I was asked to preach the sermon at the regular Mass of the Sodality of the Blessed Sacrament at the Church of Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane. It was a great joy to assist at Mass and Benediction and I am grateful to Fr Robinson for his kind hospitality and the members for their company at dinner afterwards. Cur Deus homo ? Why was God made man? I wish to propose respectfully to you the Franciscan thesis, that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was decreed in the eternal plan of God from before all creation, and therefore independently of sin. We do, of course, believe that Our Lord came to take away our sins, but the Franciscan or Scotist thesis is that even without sin, He would nevertheless have become incarnate, and we would still have the unsurpassable gift of the Holy Eucharist. Fr Faber was a thoroughgoing Scotist, a view which he expounds in his book The Blessed Sacrament . He says, Those who hold it [this view] dwell very mu

Popular posts from this blog

Thomas Becket: the simple but daunting question he puts before us today

Cancelling Christmas and preparing the way for the turkey

Tour of a Carthusian cell

New book on the Our Father shares a loving familiarity with the sacred text

Retirement of Bishop Patrick Lynch