Showing posts from January, 2013

Congratulations to Bishop Sample (and a note on "thimble symbols")

Congratulations to Bishop Sample of Marquette who has been appointed as Metropolitan Archbishop of Portland, Oregon . At 52, he is the youngest Archbishop in the US (at 45, he was the youngest Bishop in the US.) Bishop Sample is know for his podcasts and tweets, and for ordaining the Deacons last year at the FSSP seminary in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is Bishop known for fortitude and clear teaching in the public square. Some modern Liturgy buffs used to (perhaps still do) talk about how we must not use "thimble symbols." So they encouraged priests and bishops to slosh around cup-loads of holy oil, baptise by immersion, and use a large bowl and bath-towel at the lavabo . So if you hear a modern liturgist complain about Bishop Sample's splendid mitre in the picture above, just tell them that it is not a "thimble symbol."

Muslims and Christians defending family life together

A priest whom I know, went to talk to the local Imam to discuss their common concern about same-sex "marriage". Here is his report which I publish with his permission: Today the two priests in our parish had lunch at a local Mosque. We have met the Imam before and have worked together on local issues. But today we met with him and some other members of their community to discuss “same-sex marriage”, which is a common concern. The Imam said how pleased he was to hear about the postcard campaign which was arranged by our Bishops. He is going to organise something similar in his Mosque and suggest the idea to others. It was wonderful to find that our views about the government’s proposed legislation are exactly the same. We were all concerned that the “re-definition” of Marriage will cause same-sex marriage to be promoted in schools. And we gave them a printout of the Coalition for Marriage’s latest booklet about same-sex marriage and Primary Schools , which explains ab

Roman Forum Summer Symposium 2013

The Roman Forum has announced its 2013 Symposium at the Gardone Riviera from 1-12 July 2013 on the theme "The Divine Comedy Versus the Theater of the Absurd: Navigating a Path Between Scylla and Charybdis". There is sung Mass in the usus antiquior every day as part of the programme. One fine day I will be able to get to this - sadly not this year, though I wish I could. See also the post by LMS Chairman Joseph Shaw: Lake Gardone Conference .

Sign petition to stop EU funding for the destruction of embryos

One of Us is a new group launched this week in twenty European countries calling for a ban on the EU’s “financing of activities which presuppose the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health.” They are hoping to get a million signatures by November of this year. Go to One of Us to sign, and to the C-Fam Friday Fax for some background information including the serendipitous link with a case brought by Greenpeace in 1997.

Boat of Fools Blogfen Review

Incognito Mystery Church Reviewer and his Research Assistant We have been honoured by a visit from the mystery Church reviewer:  The boat of fools visits Blogfen . He picked up on all the important things including the mantillas and the child bloggers, though he must have gone for coffee before the under-3s chorus of Ave Regina Caelorum . It's true that we don't allow books in Church. All that page-rustling during the Canon disturbs the more considerate worshippers who silently tap iPads or use e-book readers. There is just one correction to make: the worshipper feeding paper tape into an IBM mainframe was actually not a regular but another mystery worshipper from a leading liberal weekly who was also trying to be incognito but hasn't yet worked out that it is not 1968 any more. What Mystery Reviewer doesn't know is that there is an army of disguised papal tech ninjas in the congregation who are using the latest tiny and easily concealed DNA-based nano-machines

Something more wholesome: "Passing on the Faith: Virtues and Values" -

Thanks be to God, there is something positive to report after the last post. The Archdiocese of Westminster Office for Marriage, Family and Life is putting on a Day for parents, teachers and catechists who work with families called Passing on the Faith – Virtues and Values . It will be on Saturday 9 March 2013 from 10:30am to 4:30pm at the Student Union Hall, St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, TW1 4SX. Speakers include Bishop Jean Laffitte, Secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Family and Dr Peter Kahn, author/editor of the Catholic Truth Society 'Family Matters' series. The excellent Ten Ten Theatre will also be giving a presentation. Cost: £10 per person, £20 per family (children welcome). The organisers say "Please register in advance if you can - it helps us plan the programme - but you are welcome to turn up on the day."

Same-sex marriage: impact on education

The Coalition for Marriage have produced a booklet which indicates that if the “Equal Marriage Bill” is passed schools would have a legal requirement to teach about “same-sex marriage”. Section 403(1A)(a) of the Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to “issue guidance” to ensure that pupils “learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children” as part of sex education. If the legal definition of marriage changes, the law will require that children learn about gay marriage as part of sex education... This is obviously far more serious than the right of teachers to object on an individual basis. This would affect all the nation’s children. The C4M booklet gives a number of sample pages from books such as "Daddy's Roommate", "Hello Sailor", "Josh and Jaz have Three Mums" etc. They are aimed at young children. Here is a link to download a copy of the booklet . With materials that

Postcards to MPs - this weekend crucial

The Bishops have sent postcards to all parishes in England and Wales for people to fill out and send to their MP to ask them to vote against the "Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill." This weekend is crucial because the second reading of the Bill will be on Tuesday 5 February. John Smeaton has written about this on his blog and has suggested some practical ways in which the postcard campaign can be made more effective than simply leaving the postcards at the back of the Church (Archbishop Smith also encouraged such practical action.) Here are the points: Hand cards to mass-goers as they arrive for Sunday mass. Priests celebrating mass speak about the importance of defending marriage and of the bishops’ postcard campaign in their homily or at another appropriate moment. The name of the local MP (or MPs) should be mentioned. Pens & stamps – providing pens for people to fill in the postcards before they leave church, and stamps they can purchase to post them will enco

Towey reinstated, Esler steps down

Dr Anthony Towey has been reinstated at St Mary's University College. Here is his SMUC web page . Last September, security staff escorted Dr Towey from the premises and he was suspended "pending investigations into a very serious disciplinary matter and a grave breach of his professional duties to the college." Not any more, it seems. Here are links to the articles I wrote about Strawberry Hill in September: Strange goings on at Strawberry Hill Students misbehaving Strawberry Hill - shaken or stirred? Yesterday, the College announced that: ‘Professor Esler will conclude his time in office on 31st March 2013 and will undertake research leave and then his remaining annual leave from Wednesday 23rd January 2013, from which date Dr Arthur Naylor will assume the role of Interim Principal pending the appointment of Professor Esler’s successor.’ It is very good news that Dr Towey has been reinstated and I am sure that his students will be delighted.

Prayer for Marriage blog

Since my post about Safeguarding Marriage and the power of prayer a new blog has been set up to publicise any prayer events that are held: Prayer for Marriage . Please email details of any times of adoration or indeed any events organised for people to come together to pray for marriage. Here is the email link .

Mass for Fr Thwaites RIP at Little Oratory

Thanks to a reader for information about this forthcoming Mass for Fr Hugh Thwaites: FR HUGH THWAITES (1917 – 2012) Requiescat in Pace You are cordially invited to attend a Low Mass, celebrated by Father McHardy, in honour of Father Hugh Thwaites, and for the repose of his soul, at The Little Oratory, Brompton Oratory, Brompton Road SW7 2RP, On Saturday, 2nd February, at 4.15 p.m.

Anthony Ozimic fights 3-1 pounding and wins on points

Calm, dispassionate and devastatingly effective, Anthony Ozimic of SPUC argued against the promotion of same-sex marriage in schools on ITV's "This Morning." It was quite typical of British television that he not only had to answer his invited guest opponent - that would be fair enough - but also the relentless hostile questioning of both presenters on the opposite sofa. There was not even the pretence of impartiality. At one point, the instant audience reaction was 80% for and 20% against teaching gay marriage in schools, but by the end the gap had narrowed to 60% - 40%. In such an arena, arguing alone against three opponents, this was a highly significant swing. At the end, even the presenters had to acknowledge this and managed to admit that the debate was "interesting." Congratulations to Anthony for this sterling defence of marriage and to SPUC for their determined campaign on this issue.

New Rector for Oscott

This morning at 11am, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham announced that as of 23 February, Mgr Mark Crisp, the Rector of Oscott, will be moving on to other duties in the Archdiocese The new Rector of Oscott will be Fr David Oakley STL MEd PhD. ( right ) Fr Oakley is currently Parish Priest of Our Lady of Assumption, Maryvale. He was at one time Bursar and Pastoral Director of Oscott, he has also been a member of staff at Maryvale and has been teaching Fundamental Theology at Oscott. In a message to the seminarians, Mgr Crisp wrote: On a personal note to you as students, it is with mixed feelings that I inform you of this news. I have been a priest for 21 years and 20 of these have been working with seminarians either as Vocations Director or as Rector. Working with seminarians and encouraging seminarians in their vocation is a ministry I have greatly enjoyed even though at times I’ve found being Rector quite difficult. For a while I have sensed that it would be good for m

Liturgy untouched by the deconstructionist critique

The Beautiful Persistence of Chant is a magnificent short essay by Jeffrey Tucker of the Chant Café on chant and deconstructionism. In tracing briefly the history of setting music down in notation so that others could sing it even if they had not directly heard the music, he looks at the way in which digital media have now made it possible for us to hear (for example) a recording of monks from the 1950s singing chant. Even though most of the singers will probably now have gone to their eternal reward, we can imitate and interpret them, and build upon what they have left us. In the second half of the essay, Jeffrey looks at the prevalent philosophy of deconstructionism and the claim that the meaning of any text is arbitrary, never-changing, and dictated by culture. He makes the point that even if we were to accept this in other fields (which of course we do not): Liturgy is the great exception. It does not exist in time. It extends out of time into eternity. It touches a real

Outing to live feed of Maria Stuarda, and choosing your favourite "vil bastarda"

Multiplex cinemas now offer live showings of concerts and operas from prestigious venues. When I first came across this, it struck me as an excellent idea. So I was delighted that our Director of Music (who blogs at Bara Brith ) organised a trip on Saturday evening for the choir to go to Bluewater for the live feed of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda from the New York Met . (From the combox of Mulier Fortis  I learn that Fr Michael Brown who blogs at Forest Murmurs  was watching it at the same time in Newcastle.) A few years ago I went with a priest friend to Madame Butterfly at Covent Garden. We had tickets for somewhere under the rafters but he knew that you could go and occupy empty seats in the stalls after the interval. (Not sure if you can still do that.) That was my only experience of live opera and jolly good it was too, but I remain an ignoramus on the subject. Thanks to Bara Brith and Wikipedia I now have an elementary understanding of what is meant by Bel canto , and colo

Horse trying to find mum in Tesco

A good, honest, harmless and absolutely hilarious prank. Kudos to the youngsters who thought this one up and carried it off. (By way of explanation: it was recently discovered by DNA testing that some economy burgers in Tesco and some other stores were contaminated with horsemeat. Lots of coverage in the UK and Irish press.)

Safeguarding Marriage and the power of prayer

The Good Counsel Network have sent news of a couple of parishes that are holding the Forty Hours Devotion in advance of the Government's proposal to introduce legislation for same-sex marriage. It seems that the second reading may be as soon as 5 February, so we do need to get on our knees. If your parish has not had the 40 hours devotion, I do recommend it. We have had it for a few years at Blackfen and it is a blessing not only for those who directly take part but also for the parish and the neighbourhood. If you can't organise 40 hours, you might want to have at least a Holy Hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the intention of safeguarding marriage. If you do have an event of this sort, please put a note in the comments box or email me and I will post updates.

Catholic Evensong at Blackfen

When I was an undergraduate at Oxford and attended Evensong from time to time in my own College Chapel at Corpus Christi, I little imagined that one day as a Parish Priest I would be able to invite a brother priest in full communion with the Catholic Church to celebrate Evensong according to a rite approved by the Holy See. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is an ecumenical success story. When Professor Hans Kung wrote about The Church and Reunion in 1961, I do not expect he anticipated a service such as we celebrated at Blackfen last Friday for the beginning of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. Peter Mitchell and the Bexley and Crayford District Organists' and Choirmasters' Association generously gave their time to rehearse and execute some excellent music. The Blackfen Church Choir took part, with singers on all four parts. Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate who regularly helps out at Blackfen, was the celebrant. After the Introit, we sang Praise to the

Femina nivalis devota

One of my parishioners, defénde nos in proélio , posted this photo today of a snow-lady build by the children after Mass this morning.

Mixed blessing from the ECHR

Fr Ed Tomlinson has a good summary of the recent cases heard in the European Court of Human Rights: Don't put out the bunting . Essentially one case went well - it was ruled that British Airways discriminated against employee Nadia Eweida for prohibiting her from wearing a cross at work, but the other three went badly. Elfin safety arguments were upheld against nurse Shirley Chaplain who was banned from wearing a cross at work (though the court did not actually know what the arguments were). The case against Gary McFarlane who objects to offering sex therapy to homosexuals was upheld as was the case against registrar, Lillian Ladele, who refused to perform same sex ceremonies having ensured others would cover in her absence. Deacon Nick at Protect the Pope gives his summary: Christians allowed to wear discreet crosses, but not allowed to follow consciences – European Court of Human Rights Christian Legal Centre is taking a glass half full approach and has some helpful commen

Clergy Retreat in Bavaria

There are a few places left on the clergy retreat in Bavaria organised by Fr Armand de Malleray of the FSSP. The retreat is from 15-19 April and there are full details here . Unfortunately my teaching and parish committments don't allow me to go this time, but it looks like a superb opportunity. You get to stay next to the seminary at Wigratzbad which is itself a Marian shrine. Fr de Malleray is giving the talks, which will be on the Most Holy Eucharist in the life of priests. It will be a proper silent retreat with reading at meals but there is also the option of staying on for a day of tourism to visit the Lindau peninsula on Lake Constance, have dinner in local ‘Gasthaus’ visit the Benedictine Abbey of Ottobeuren.

Speaking at The Keys

The Keys  is the name of the Catholic Writers Guild. (Membership of The Keys is for those who are working in the media or the world of publishing.) After being kindly introduced to the The Keys by a member, I decided to join and have always enjoyed the meetings that I have been able to get to. They often have distinguished speakers and this makes me rather nervous to be in the hot seat myself next Wednesday 23 January on the subject of "New Movements and New Media". The meeting is held at St Mary Moorfields in Eldon Street (EC2M 7LS) and the the programme is: 6.30 pm Holy Mass with Cantor 7.00 pm Dinner 8.00 pm Talk by Fr Finigan followed by questions and discussion. Finish at approximately 9.30 pm The Master of the Guild has kindly advised me that I may advertise the meeting on the blog. If you would like to come, the price for non-members to attend is £16 (including dinner). It is (absolutely) necessary to book in advance (as soon as possible) by contacting Fr

Now would be a good time for Cameron to start listening

In one of the largest joint letters of its kind, over 1000 priests have signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph calling on MPs to reject the legislation for same-sex marriage. Here is the text: Same-sex marriage law SIR – After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country. Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.  It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time. The natural complementarity between a man and a woman leads to marriage, seen as a lifelong partnership. This loving union – because of their physical complementarity – is o

Relics of St John Bosco in London

A little bit late on this one, but the relics of Saint John Bosco which have been taken around England have been taken around England, Scotland and Wales for veneration, will be in London this weekend. They are in Westminster Cathedral today and will be in St George's Cathedral, Southwark, tomorrow. Details are at the dedicated Pilgrimage website . The relics are being venerated as part of a world-wide pilgrimage leading up to the 200th Anniversary in 2015 of the saint's birth. The relics of St John Bosco - the bones and tissues of the right hand and arm - have been placed within a wax replica of the saint's, which is enclosed in a casket.

Alliance of pro-life students

The Alliance of Pro-Life Students is to be launched on 16 January with an evening of drinks, canapes and speeches, including Lord Alton. It is to be held at the Thistle Hotel Marble Arch from 7.30-11pm. This is a fundraising event and tickets are £25 or £15 for students or for groups of 5 or more. The idea of the APS is to revitalise pro-life work by: Building pro-life societies by encouraging students of all religious backgrounds and none to start their own societies. Supporting pro-life societies by: providing educational resource packs and databases of speakers and reliable sources; helping with event organisation and networking; standing up for the rights of pro-life students to peacefully speak out on life ethics. Connecting pro-life students: with each other online through our website forum and face-to-face with specialist training days; with other pro-life organisations for internships and volunteering opportunities. For more details of the fundraising event and of t

New Deacon speaks on his promises

Daniel Fitzpatrick has just been ordained a Deacon. He has spoken on 4Thought TV about the promises of celibacy, obedience to the Bishop and of praying the Divine Office. He speaks very well and positively and for his troubles has a slew of the usual snarky anti-clerical comments.You could join in the combox or simply click on the thumbs-up button to get the rating up.

Soho Masses stopped, Church given to Ordinariate

That was a headline I did not expect to be writing. The Archdiocese of Westminster has issued a statement today explaining that the pastoral care of people with same-sex attraction will enter a new phase, encouraging people with same-sex attraction to enter more fully into the life of the Church, particularly by participating at Mass "in the midst of the whole Church." The regular "Soho Masses" are to be discontinued. Included in the same statement is the news that the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Warwick Street is to dedicated to the life of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The pastoral care of people with same-sex attraction will be hosted at the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception in Farm Street under the continued guidance of Mgr Seamus O'Boyle. The full statement can be read after an article by Mark Greaves in the Catholic Herald: Archbishop Nichols ends ‘Soho Masses’ after six years . Damien Thompson has also followed u

CCC Briefing paper on same-sex marriage

The British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has grown rapidly since its foundation and provides much-needed opportunities for priests to meet, hear good speakers, and offer support to one another in fidelity to the magisterium of the Church. The Confraternity has just issued a  Briefing paper on same-sex marriage  which is intended to support the various statements made by our Bishops and to assist the people in our parishes to understand the Church's teaching in the face of much misinformation. It is a helpful brief explanation which is suitable for distribution in parishes. If you want a printer-friendly pdf, I have uploaded the file to my parish website . (It is now also available on the CCC website .) May I also take this opportunity to encourage brother priests to examine the  objects of the Confraternity and to take out membership .

Bishop Egan's Pastoral Letter breaks a "difficult silence"

Bishop Philip Egan sent his people an excellent Pastoral Letter for the feast of the Holy Family. He presents clearly the orthodox teaching of the Church concerning the divinity and humanity of Christ. With regard to Christ's perfect humanity, he reflects on human nature itself and the teaching of Humanae Vitae. As he rightly says: Sadly, the teaching of Humanae Vitae about sexual morality and family values has become something of an ‘elephant in the room’ that no-one seems to mention. Well Bishop Egan has certainly mentioned it now. The process by which Humanae Vitae became shrouded in silence is well described in Clifford Longley's book The Worlock Archive , an important record of the way in which the Catholic Church in England and Wales changed during the post-conciliar period. I recommend it especially for younger Catholics as it helps to understand how we got to where we are now. In chapter 8 of his book, Clifford Longley describes how, after the publication of Hum

10 things that will not happen in 2013

Happy New Year! Apologies for the lack of blogging during the Christmas Octave. I see that there are comments awaiting moderation. I'll get to those later, but first a tradition of the blog - things that will not happen in the coming year, or things that will happen this year in an alternative universe: 1. Following his successful foray onto Twitter, Pope Benedict  starts a new personal YouTube channel featuring Cardinal Deacons in liturgical dance to the top Bluegrass Gospel numbers. (With a Cardinal Priest to act as MC: Luis Tagle is tipped by Sandro Magister .) 2. Professor Richard Dawkins offers a considered and rational response to St Thomas Aquinas' De ente et essentia . 3. Bruvver Eccles is appointed Director of Communications for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. 4. Bara Brith takes up the ukelele to transform sacred music at Blackfen by playing "What a friend we have in Jesus" as a regular motet for the Offertory. (No po

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