Posts

How to make an act of perfect contrition

Image
How can you go from imperfect to perfect contrition? Gabriella D from Australia asked me this on Twitter today and I want to give an answer because I think that many people misunderstand what we mean when we talk about “perfect contrition.”

Perfect contrition is sorrow and detestation of sin arising out of the love of God. One way of exciting this contrition in our hearts is by considering the passion of Jesus Christ and making acts of love for Him. We can also think of the infinite love which God has for us, and express sorrow in our heart in the presence of this great love which we have offended.

Imperfect contrition is sorrow and detestation for sin arising from a consideration of the ugliness of sin or out of the fear of hell. Disgust at the ugliness of sin is more common today than fear of hell. That is because we do not preach enough, or with sufficient conviction about the four last things.

If a person commits an act of impurity, for example, perhaps by deliberately looking at a…

Maximum Illud and the missionary month; we do actually need to believe in the salvation of souls.

Image
October 2019 is designated as an Extraordinary Month of Mission. The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops for the Amazon has distracted our attention from this other extraordinary celebration, but we should never forget the missions. This was impressed on me effectively during my childhood when we were asked to pray for the missions and to give some of our pocket money to support them. I remember the APF missions box in our hall; it carried a quotation from Pope Pius XII, "For there are none so poor as those who lack the knowledge and the grace of God." That really impressed me with the importance of helping the missions.

Pope Francis asked us to observe this month as an Extraordinary Month of Mission in celebration of the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud (1919) of Pope Benedict XV "On the Propagation of the Faith Throughout the World." Pope Benedict XV was in some respects a tragic character. During the first World War he worked heart and soul to bring a…

An example of some meaty catechesis from my childhood

Image
Some time ago on Twitter, I took to scheduling a regular post at night time, and one for in the morning – not exactly first thing, but before most people get in to work. On TweetDeck, you can set these up to publish when scheduled. The night one was a retweet of a masterpiece of sacred art, and the morning one was something about a saint for that day. I felt that there could be several positive features of this practice.

It would make sure that my Twitter feed was begun and ended on a positive note with something that people would expect from a priest; with God’s grace, somebody might be helped by either or both of those posts. That seemed to work, and there were sometimes quite a lot of likes or positive comments. If I also kept to a rule of not publishing anything outside of these limits, it was a way for me to set a small “rule of life” reminder not to be looking at social media too late at night or early in the morning.

After a while I realised that the saint tweet could end up …

Hong Kong, tear gas, resourceful students, Bishop Ha, and Friday abstinence

Image
With all the political excitement in the UK at the moment, it is important for us not to forget those in other parts of the world whose political turmoil has a more physical and menacing manifestation.
Innovative tacticsIt is impressive to see the resourcefulness of the protesters in Hong Kong as they have come up with effective home-grown tactics for dealing with tear gas canisters when they are continuing to bellow out their incapacitating fumes. A traffic cone placed over the top will contain the smoke to the extent that it goes upwards instead of spreading laterally. Then water poured down into the cone will dampen the gas completely. Here is the video demonstration:
When tear gas shell comes in, they place a traffic cone on top creating a “chimney” to stop the gas spreading; then pour water into the chimney to douse the shell. pic.twitter.com/sTfjbs3ifT — Antony Dapiran (@antd) July 29, 2019Another chap was in a viral video going up to a canister with a vacuum flask, shaking it up …

Why it is OK to say the Rosary during Mass

Image
When I was in hospital a few years ago after having a heart attack, a kindly physiotherapist came to assess how fit I was for further treatment. She wanted to see whether I could walk along the corridor and up a couple of steps without gasping for breath or having palpitations. She rightly erred on the side of caution; once content that I would not react in such an extreme way, she gave me a little bottle of liquid with instructions to spray it under my tongue in the event that I were to have sudden severe chest pains.

You need to have one of these on hand to give to a modern type of liturgist if you ask him whether it is all right to say the Rosary during Mass. Perish the thought! You should be answering the responses, singing the hymns, reading the readings and anything else that is nowadays considered to be the only possible way for you to do that most essential thing of participating. You might find a more discerning liturgist, perhaps a knowledgeable Benedictine, who will tell y…

The faithful and their irrepressible instinct for commemorating saints

Image
Ttony of The Muniment Room has a regular feature in which he reproduces the current list of celebrations, or Ordo for the current week of the pre-1910 calendar; this was the the  liturgical calendar before the major reforms of Pope Pius XII in the document Cum nostra hac aetate of 1955. Over the weeks, it is fascinating to see how many extra prayers for saints, or "commemorations" there used to be. Here is the Ordo for the week beginning Saturday 10 August, a relatively quiet week:


Note for example, that on Tuesday the Mass of the day was the celebration of the day within the Octave of the feast of St Lawrence which had been celebrated on the 10th of August. Then for the collect, the secret and the postcommunion, there was a second prayer for the feast of Saints Hippolytus and Cassian, Martyrs. Then there was the prayer Concede, a prayer in honour of Our Lady so that there was a third prayer to make up the number of prayers which was usually an odd number. ("The indulg…

Saint Philomena, a saint for our age

Image
Today is the feast of Saint Philomena, Virgin, Martyr and worker of countless miracles, notably through the intercession of St John Vianney, whom Pope Benedict, during the "Year of the Priesthood" (June 2009-June 2010) proclaimed as the "Patron of all the priests of the world."

As ever, we need to get out a metaphorical yard broom to clear the deck from a common reaction to St Philomena. For many people, the only fact they know about St Philomena is that “she didn’t exist.” When I first wrote about St Alphonsus, one commentator said that recommending him was "as loopy as promoting devotion to St Philomena" which I think tells you all you need to know.

Therefore my post Saint Philomena - pray for us! was not simply a recommendation to prayer, but a response to this received (and outdated) opinion that St Philomena did not exist. If you have recently read Taylor Marshall’s book “Infiltration”, you will not be surprised to see that I wrote:
“It is instructi…

"Break the Chains" with some young clergy, the Daughters of St Paul and Blessed Giacomo Alberione

Image
Today is “Day 10 praying to #BreakTheChains of pornography.” This is an idea thought up by Fr Cassidy Stinson, a recently ordained priest who put it like this:
Hey. We need to talk about something.

Pornography.

I knew this before I became a priest, but now it’s become all the more clear to me that this is an absolute scourge for so, so many of us, spiritually and psychologically.

And you know what? I’m tired of it.

(Thread time.)
— Fr. Cassidy Stinson (@TheHappyPriest) July 28, 2019 It is also worth looking through the thread and indeed following Father Stinson’s Twitter feed @TheHappyPriest He has followed up with an update thread after the first week of the movement.
What to do During the first week, #BreakTheChains has gathered momentum with many young people agreeing to pray, offer sacrifice, and encourage one another. There is no pledge to commit to a specific set of prayers, although quite a number of people seem to be choosing so recite the rosary. This is fitting because the …

St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner

Image
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

Image
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

Image
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 …

Popular posts from this blog

How to make an act of perfect contrition

Plenary indulgences not impossible

Maximum Illud and the missionary month; we do actually need to believe in the salvation of souls.

Why it is OK to say the Rosary during Mass

An example of some meaty catechesis from my childhood