Showing posts from January, 2011

Born of parents who never danced together

Anonymous Us carries some personal stories that flesh out the moral teaching of Donum Vitae. That 1987 document, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has the full title "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation. Replies to Certain Questions of the Day."

Catholics who are reasonably well informed know that one of the grave moral problems with IVF is the destruction of human embryos that is often a part of the process. However, Donum Vitae give another important reason why IVF is ethically unacceptable, namely that the child should be conceived as a result of the marriage act. This is true even in the case of homologous IVF (where the gametes are both from the spouses). In the case where one of the gametes is from a stranger, most commonly through sperm donation, there is a further evil; as Donum Vitae puts it:
Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relatio…

Well I thought they were funny

I will be busy tomorrow morning so I have scheduled this post to come up just as you hit the desk on Monday morning. I hope it might do something to brighten the morning.

One of the men in the parish club came up to me the other day and said to me:Father, I was in hospital last week. All they gave me was haggis and whisky... I was in the Burns Unit.And another one via Twitter:The barman said "We don't serve time travellers in here."

A time traveller walked into a bar.

Greek Orthodox vernacular row

Recently, Metropolitan Ignatios of Dimitriados was celebrating Vespers at Volos for the feast of Saint Anthony the Great. For part of the readings, he used the demotic (popular) form of modern Greek rather than the Greek of the Septuagint, the New Testament, and St John Chrysostom. There was something of a popular protest with people saying things like "Your Eminence, not in the demotic. Read the reading in the ancient language."

Last April, the Greek Orthodox Holy Synod condemned the practice of using the modern language in the Sacred Liturgy, citing the importance of the Church's unity. (See article on Mystagogy) Metropolitan Ignatios argues that it is the young people who want the vernacular, demotic liturgy. Things may be different in Greece, of course, but I think he may find in due course that just as in the West, the young people who actually attend the Divine Services will want the whole deal of traditional Orthodox liturgy, not a watered-down version.


Oxford Ordinariate Group

The Ordinariate Portal had some good news the other day: there is a new Oxford Ordinariate Group.

The group is being led by Fr Andrew Burnham, formerly Anglican Bishop of Ebbsfleet and now a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They will meet on Sunday afternoons for tea and catechesis with the aim of being received into full communion with the Catholic Church in time for Easter.

No longer just a dream

It seems that someone has (almost) come up with a workable jet pack.

H/T Patrick Madrid

Vigil of prayer at Vaughan school

click to enlarge
Many parents at the Cardinal Vaughan school feel strongly about changes that have recently been made to the Governing Body of the school by the Westminster Diocesan Education Service. The flyer above advertises a Vigil of Prayer which will be held at the school this Wednesday 2 February from 6.15pm to about 8pm.

There is plenty of further information at the website of the Vaughan Parents Action Group.

Mother speaks out on sex education

Image is a daily series of 90 second films on "religious, spiritual and ethical issues." A theme is chosen to run for a week: last week the topic was "What sort of sex education should be taught in our schools?" Patricia Wocial, mother of a lovely family that I know well, was invited to be on the series: here is a link to her measured, calm, but hard-hitting contribution. I have seen the material that she is referring to. It is a shame and a disgrace that it should have been shown in a Catholic school.

Vigil of Prayer at Maidstone

There was a fair bit of "offering up" yesterday at Maidstone. I joined the "Helpers of God's Precious Infants" group who hold a regular prayer vigil at the Marie Stopes Clinic which is just around the corner from the Church. The temperature was one degree above freezing. In some parts North America I know that you are used to 25 degrees below, so that a degree above freezing probably means getting out the sunbeds and mixing a Pina Colada. Here in South East England it is what we call "a bit chilly."

As you can see, the group is quite small. If you email you can get onto an email list to find out when forthcoming vigils will be, both in Maidstone and elsewhere. Generally the format is to attend Mass in the local Church and then spend an hour or so saying the Divine Mercy chaplet, fifteen decades of the Rosary and a some other appropriate prayers. Such an exercise has many spiritual benefits as well as the prayerful witness that is offe…

Resource: "What Catholics Really Believe"

Nineveh's Crossing aims to present the Catholic faith in an easily digestible manner, using various media. A recent product is "What Catholics Really Believe: Dispelling the Misunderstandings of Historic Christianity." This is a transcript of a two DVD set in which Dr Ray Guarendi and Fr Kevin Fete engage in a series of dialogues on the basics of the Catholic faith.

Much of the content is relevant to apologetic discussions that Catholics are likely to find themselves facing with evangelical protestants. The book (and DVDs) are suitable for intelligent teenagers and young adults, and would help them to grow in confidence when speaking about their faith. Much of the argumentation is based on the scriptures and their correct interpretation in line with the Fathers of the Church.

Sadly, these positive features mean that the book would be of less use for its primary purpose here in England. Young people over here are more likely to be challenged by atheistic, relativist and …

Nova et vetera

What a wonderful piece of kit! Some guys have wired up a manual typewriter with a USB connection so that it can work as a keyboard with a PC, Mac or even iPad. You can buy one at ETSY and there are even instructions for building one yourself: Typewriter conversion kit. Just one thing - the carriage return should also have a bell.

Bearded men wearing funny clothes

An RTE presenter showed his anti-Catholic bias a couple of days ago in a programme about a prayerful witness held by five Franciscans of the Renewal outside a family planning clinic. The Limerick Leader heads its article Monk's protest angers women. The article is generous enough to observe that Mr Duffy (the presenter) was "audibly angry" and reports a couple of the indignant and furious interventions in the radio phone-in.

Five Franciscan Friars stood outside the Limerick Family Planning clinic on Mallow Street and prayed. That's it really, but in modern Ireland this is enough to "arouse ire", "anger women" and so on. One of the main offences seems to be what children in school call "giving me funny looks" when they can't find anything else with which to to accuse their enemies.

One caller got her chance to protest at the "intimidation" of the Friars praying, how insulted she was and how "completely misguided" …

New Papa Stronsay website

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (FSSR also known as the Transalpine Redemptorists) have given their website a makeover. There is a fascinating page on the island itself and, of course, information about the FSSR. The blog is still there too.

There is a new online shop which sells some of the wonderful books that have been given away with copies of "Catholic", the excellent monthly magazine of the FSSR. I especially recommend "Jesus Caritas" which tells the life of Blessed Charles de Foucauld: it is not all as you might expect, given the way he is sometimes portrayed today. Another great one is "Trench Priest" the life of Fr William Doyle SJ who was a holy and conscientious priest. He transferred his discipline in prayer and asceticism to the ghastly conditions of the trenches in World War I where he shared the same conditions as the men and spent much time at the front line in order to minister to them. His life was cut short by the blast of a shell l…

Condoms on the brain

Bloggers have often suspected that people cannot write an article about the Pope without mentioning condoms. It seems that we are right. This came up in Luke Coppen's RSS feed:

I see that the headline has been changed now.

H/T @lukecoppen on Twitter

Latin Mass (EF) at UK Operations HQ

I received this encouraging information today from Cdr McNally:

On Tuesday 1 February, Feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, a Latin Mass (EF) will be celebrated in the church of St Christopher at the Headquarters of the UK’s Chief of Joint Operations and the Commander in Chief Fleet, based at Northwood, to the north of London. The church is not accessible to members of the public, however, the information will be of particular interest to military and civilian staff who are based at, or are visiting the Headquarters. The Mass will be at 1230 and there will be Confessions beforehand at 1200.

The church at the Base is of modern design and newly built within the last two years to replace an older building. It is shared with other Christian faith groups. Mass is celebrated in the church twice per month and this will be the first Latin Mass in the living memory of those in the Headquarters. The Northwood Headquarters is where all the UK’s world-wide …

Is there a Mass in Dutch in London?

Photo credit: Akbar Simonse
Is there any Catholic Church in London where Mass is celebrated regularly (or even occasionally) in Dutch? I have received an enquiry about this but since I don't know of anywhere myself, I thought the best thing would be to ask here. If you have any information, please either leave it in the combox or email me.

March for Life in London?

The Catholic Herald is floating the idea of holding a March for Life in London. This is an excellent idea: we wouldn't be able to match the scale of the US March but we could certainly make an impact. It would also be an important opportunity for the Catholic Church to witness to the value of human life as well as co-operating with those other Christians and people of other faiths who share our convictions on this issue.

The article recognises the possible problems but I agree that these could be overcome by marshalling some of our energetic and enthusiastic young pro-lifers. See: Let’s take courage and hold a March for Life in Britain.

For an idea of what happens in the USA, see the official March for Life website and many US blogs which cover it. You do need to look at the blogs to find out much about it. As the Herald said:If you rely on the television or daily papers for your news this is probably the first you’ve heard of it. Even in the United States it barely registered in…

What did the Pope really say about marriage?

Did the Pope really say that couples do not have the right to marry? Well no: as with much of his writing, it was a carefully crafted argument; this time on some aspects of the right to marry which the Catholic Church has always upheld. Reading through the address, I thought it might be helpful just to make a few points about what the Pope actually said and the reasoning that he was using.

First of all, Pope Benedict points out that canon law is not opposed to the pastoral dimension of the Church. This is fundamental since "canonical" has often been portrayed as bad while "pastoral" is good. In fact the law protects us all and without it our society would be in chaos and nobody would be safe. In the case of marriage, juridical activity is essential to pastoral preparation because the legal contract is at the heart of the celebration of marriage.

The Holy Father's principal concern is with marriage preparation. He complains that in preparation for marriage, cano…

LMS Training Conference announced

For the last few years, the Latin Mass Society has organised conferences to train priests to celebrate Mass according to the usus antiquior. This year the conference will be at Buckfast Abbey which is a beautiful setting for such an event. Priests always enjoy these conferences, not only for the help they receive in learning to celebrate the old Mass but also for a few days in company with other priests. Here is the information:

Latin Mass Society Announces 2011 Priests Training Conference

The Latin Mass Society has announced its seventh residential conference for priests who wish to learn the Extraordinary Form of Mass. The conference will take place at Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh, Devon from Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th May.

Tuition will be given in small groups selected according to ability, and will cover Low Mass, Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis. It is also hoped to provide tuition in the sacraments of Baptism and marriage. Only rudimentary Latin is required.

There will also be a…

Bishop of Nice - common sense alert

The Bishop of Nice, Mgr Louis Sankalé spent a day earlier this month carrying out a pastoral visit to the old part of Nice. He went to see shopkeepers and restaurant owners in this part of the town that is very popular with tourists. He found time to call in to the barracks of the Foreign Legion. Naturally he also visited the places of worship, youth movements, the brotherhoods of penitents (of which there are four) and so on. Oh, and he popped in to see the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X.

Above you can see him entering the chapel of St Clare for the first time, welcomed by Fr Charles Moulin. Below he is in the office of Fr Moulin engaged in a "cordial exchange".

The roof did not cave in; the Bishop was not struck by lightning; plagues did not break out in Nice; in fact nobody died at all as a result of the visit. Perhaps after all, it was just an instance of common sense and genuine fraternal charity.

Photos are from the website of the Diocese of Nice

H/T Rorate Caeli

Pope Benedict: authenticity and faithfulness in social networking

"Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age" is the title of the Holy Father's message for World Communications Day which will be celebrated on 5 June. It was issued today on the feast of St Francis de Sales.

Once again, the Holy Father has underlined the importance of a proper use of the internet. This year, he paid particular attention to social networking. Although he did not use the word "Facebook", there is a clear enough reference:
Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others, provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world. In the search for sharing, for "friends", there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.There can be good reasons for using a nickname on the internet and for…

FSSP vocations retreat

Fr De Malleray has announced a Vocation Discernment weekend for young men, to take place in April. Here are the details:
Vocation discernment weekend
at St John Fisher House in Reading
8-9-10 April 2011

For Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).

Starts on Friday 8th April 2011 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 10th April 2011 mid-afternoon. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP.

Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth has allowed for its canonical establishment in Reading on 1st August 2010.

Address: 17, Eastern Avenue, Reading RG1 5RU.

Access: 27mn from London Paddington by direct trains up to every 10mn, and from London Waterloo. Direct trains from Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Gatwick Airport, Southampton Airport, etc. Direct ‘RailAir’ buses from Heathrow to Reading train station every 20mn. Motorway: M4.

Limited overnight accom…

An example of a new English Gloria

"Glory to God in honour of St Ralph Sherwin" by Jeff Ostrowski.

Score for organist, score in Gregorian or modern notation for vocalist, and various videos are all available free of charge at the Corpus Christi Watershed Glory to God page.

H/T Catholicism Pure and Simple

Cardinal Levada looking at theology in India

Cardinal Levada is currently heading a Vatican delegation to India to meet with theologians and Bishops. Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said:
“We are discussing the role of the Indian theologians as responsible theologians”CathNews Asia has a report: CDF studies role of Indian theologians. One of the participants who wished to remain anonymous, told CathNews that
"The pluralistic theologians have begun to dilute Christianity as one of the many religions to go to God. In this context, such a colloquium could become an alerting occasion,"Another theologian said that the colloquium would discuss the document Agendi ratio in doctrinarum examine (Regulations for doctrinal examination) which was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This document deals with the process of examining writings that are thought to contain serious errors, a process that is part of the duty of the CDF to protect "the right of the Pe…

DVD of Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa

At the age of 14, Blessed Alexandrina jumped out of an upstairs window to avoid being sexually assaulted. Her spine was irreparably injured and by the age of 20 she was confined to her bed, suffering great pain for the remaining 30 years of her life. She voluntarily accepted the will of God and offered herself as a victim soul in union with the sufferings of Christ. From 1942 until her death in 1955, she received no food except the Holy Eucharist.

The remarkable mystic was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 25, 2004. In his sermon, the Holy Father said:
With the example of Blessed Alexandrina, expressed in the trilogy "suffer, love, make reparation", Christians are able to discover the stimulus and motivation to make "noble" all that is painful and sad in life through the greatest evidence of love: sacrificing one's life for the beloved. There is a short biography at the Vatican website. Pierced Hearts has a longer article with some further details.


Transcript of Fr Newton's interview

Father (as he prefers to be called) Keith Newton gave a competent and balanced account of the Ordinariate before the press, despite the many uncertainties about the details of how things would work out.

The Anglo-Catholic has helpfully posted a transcript of Fr Keith Newton's press conference last week. If you prefer to listen to it, the CBCEW website has recordings. The transcript is in two parts:

The Ordinary in Plain Text
The Ordinary in Plain Text: Part II

Here are a few quotations on points that I thought significant. For the context you have to read the whole text of listen to the audio but I hope that I haven't misrepresented anything:

The Ordinariate has been given an office in Eccleston Square for the time beingWalsingham
The authorities at the Anglican shrine at Walsingham want to explore ways in which members of the Ordinariate can continue to worship there.Liturgy
The CDF are fairly keen that there should be one liturgy for the Ordinariates wherever they are, not lots…

Corrected translation dates for England and Wales

The new (corrected) translation of "The Order of Mass" will be used in English and Welsh parishes from September, the Bishops have announced today. Not the URL for that link: which is very encouraging. There is also a DVD called Become One Body One Spirit In Christ available to order.

Just to clarify for you: what we are talking about for September is the "Ordo Missae", is often referred to as the "Ordinary" of the Mass. This is the part that is the same for all Masses, including the responses of the people. The "Propers", the parts that change for the seasons of the year and feasts of the Saints, will come in with the publication of the full text of the Missal. It is hoped that this will be in time for Advent.

I agree with Fr Z's closing comment in his post about this news that we need some intense catechesis primarily because we need catechesis and not just because we are getting a new translation. If people really have diff…

Rev Andrew Burnham's Mass at Oxford Oratory

Yesterday, Rev Andrew Burnham celebrated his Mass at the Oxford Oratory with Fr Aidan Nichols OP preaching (here is a link to his sermon). Fr Hunwicke has a report which includes details of the "common sense and mutual enrichment" that was evident in the celebration. For more pictures, see the Ordinariate Portal post. I recognised a number of good friends there.

Dies albo signanda lapillo

Photo credit: Mazur/
Three former Anglican Bishops ordained to the priesthood, the new ordinariate set up formally under the title of Our Lady of Walsingham (thank you, Holy Father), Rev Keith Newton appointed ordinary with the Revv Burnham and Broadhurst to assist. I agree with Damian Thompson that it is almost too much to take in at once. As the Westminster Cathedral website puts it, "A remarkable start to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity." Quite so!

I was very sorry not to have been at Westminster Cathedral this morning but parish duties, including a (very lovely) wedding kept me at the ranch. However, I have just had a report from my hermeneutical correspondent on the spot, Sir Dan of the Nesbitry. One of the principal impressions that he had was of the reverence and gravitas of the congregation, many of whom were Anglicans or former Anglicans. I hope that Archbishop Nichols will be pleased to know that Dan was also very impressed by his homily

New Journal for Ordinariate

Just out is the first issue of The Portal, "an independent review in the service of the Ordinariate." The Portal is a free online publication and is intended for those who are in the Ordinariate, for Anglicans who may be interested, and for Catholic friends of the Ordinariate.

Talking about Anglicanorum Coetibus

Fr Roger Nesbitt, Fr Peter Geldard and myself were talking today with David Kerr about Anglicanorum Coetibus in a programme that is to be broadcast by EWTN.

Archbishop Nichols has recently announced that three former Bishops of the Church of England are to be ordained to the priesthood at Westminster Cathedral this coming Saturday. The new General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, Fr Marcus Stock, has produced a good document giving background information on the establishment of the Ordinariate. It is also well worth reading the piece by Anna Arco of the Catholic Herald: Church reveals fine details of ordinariate.

It is wonderful news that the Ordinariate is to be formally set up in the near future. It is an example of Pope Benedict's intelligent approach to difficult problems that he has made this arrangement which will, I am sure, smooth the path for many Anglicans to be received into Communion with the Church.

Although it is true that in the anglo-Catholic wing of the…

Pictures from Lourdes

H/T to Rorate Caeli for the video of the statue of Our Blessed Lady at Lourdes. Apparently there has been some cleaning and restoration at the Grotto: this worried me a little but it is hard to see from the video that anything has changed. I will be back there again with the annual parish pilgrimage at the end of May so it will be interesting to see what has been done. Meanwhile, having a good excuse to post photos of Lourdes, here is one of my pictures of the grotto in action on a normal day:

And here is one where I got to give the blessing for children:

Petition on the future of Ushaw

The Durham Times reports on an online petition concerning the future of Ushaw College which reads as follows:
To The Most Rev Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, and the trustees of Ushaw College.

We, the undersigned, are concerned by the news that Ushaw College, including the seminary of St Cuthbert, is to close in June 2011, and that the ancillary activities, including the successful conference and tourism businesses, are to close at the earlier date of 31st December 2010. In expressing this concern, we are mindful that the extensive buildings, including the architecturally meritorious chapel dedicated to St Cuthbert, were paid for by earlier generations of Catholics, who, no doubt, expected their generosity to extend to future generations in perpetuity. We are also mindful of the immense contribution that Ushaw College has made in the past 200 years to the cultural, educational and religious history of the north of England, particularly as the alma mater of many thousands of C…

Ten things that will not happen in 2011

I haven't done one of these for a couple of years but since I was giggling when I came up the one I put last, I thought you might enjoy them. Here are ten things that I think will not happen in the forthcoming year:

Fr Zuhlsdorf finally agrees that "O God you are very big and Jesus is really nice. Amen" is a good translation of the Collect for the fourth Sunday of Lent.

The Translapine Redemptorists run an enneagram course at Papa Stronsay with breakout groups for psychic aromatherapy.

Chris Gillibrand buys himself a clown nose, funny hat and vuvuzela to accompany his yodelling slot in the annual Bier und Volksmesse somewhere in Austria.

James Preece is appointed Public Relations Director for the Diocese of Middlesbrough.

Fr Hunwicke makes a mistake in his Latin.

The Dominicans at Godzdogz decide that after all, the Blessed John Duns Scotus was right not only on the motive of the incarnation but also on the concept of haeccaeitas.

The Chant Café runs a series of articles on …

The demise of clericalism

There has been some thoughtful comment on the blogosphere about the sermon by Bishop Burns of Menevia concerning the priesthood in which he seemed to link child abuse with "clericalism" and took a sideswipe at traditional liturgy.

Layman Chris Gillibrand posted the text. Another layman, Damian Thompson has given the homily an excellent analysis whilst a further layman, Richard Collins, has his own observations. Layman Laurence England points out the obvious fact that the sins which were committed showed precisely that the clerics concerned forgot that they were priests. Layman Mundabor also has characteristically trenchant comments.

Tut tut. The laity just have no respect nowadays.

New Year in communion with Rome

Photo credit: absentbabinski
Fr Sean Finnegan has an excellent post today on the reception into full communion with the Catholic Church of three former Anglican Bishops: John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton. Two of the wives and three sisters from Walsingham were also received at the Mass today at Westminster Cathedral. See: History Being Made.

The three are to be ordained to the diaconate on 13 January 13th and then to the priesthood on 15 January. Congratulations to Fr John Boyle who seems to have had something of a scoop with this excellent news. Jeffrey Steel was also there and has a personal account.

The establishment of the Ordinariate is indeed a historic event in the life of the Church. I offer my personal congratulations to the three former Anglican Bishops, the wives, Sr Jane, Sr Caroline, and Sr Wendy. I also offer my prayers and good wishes to all those who are taking up the generous and far-sighted provision of Pope Benedict. What a way to bring in the New Yea…

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