Showing posts from March, 2013

Let us rejoice

The fire-starters are outside loading up the oil drum with kindling. The MC is making final preparations and the choir are settling in to make sure that they have firmly in their minds how all the bits of the modern rite of the Easter Vigil fit together (not easy) and I have done the last edit for my sermon. We have four catechumens to be baptised and I have heard 75 confessions during the Great Week to prepare to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ. A great festival is almost upon us. There has been much to ponder over the past few days and I have been reading many blogs, ruminating on various opinions expressed, and forming some thoughts in my own mind which may mature enough for me to think they might be worth sharing in due course. In the meantime, let us rejoice because Christ is risen indeed. We have life in Him through our Baptism, the "bath of regeneration" (Titus 3.5) and continually through our communion with the Church of Rome founded on the rock which is

A child's question: "Can the priest tell the Pope your sins?"

My daughter is preparing for her first Confession and I was explaining to her about the seal. I thought you would be amused by her question “Can the priest tell the Pope your sins?” I am glad that you knew the answer to your daughter’s question and that you were able to explain to her that the priest is not allowed to reveal anyone’s sins, even to the Pope. As so often, the simple questions of young children take us deeper than we might think at first. The Pope is the supreme legislator in the Church. If the confessional seal were a matter of ecclesiastical law, he would be able to dispense from it. Catholics know instinctively that there would be something wrong with that. Their instinct is right because the confessional seal binds the priest by divine law, not Church law. The only person who can give a priest permission to speak about a confessed sin is the penitent himself. If the priest, in the context of sacramental confession, comes to know of a grave evil that could threaten

Weather almost reaches "Rather Tiring" level

I know that some of you in the Midwest or Alaska or somewhere like that, bravely endure temperatures of 30 below for much of the winter, but here in South East England we don't expect to be freezing in the last week of March. We had the Palm Sunday procession accompanied by a light dusting of snow, for goodness sake! Normally placid and enduring friends of mine who will put up with rain at Wimbledon or the Oval, and think nothing of the occasional unseasonal gale are beginning to lose patience with the weather. We have run out of variants on "Oof! It's chilly." If the temperature of "not much above zero with a windchill of -5 degrees" continues for much longer there is a real danger of some losing control and becoming "Just a Bit Fed Up."

Children prevent the stones from having to cry out

The four gospels often describe the same episode in slightly different ways: a good example is the entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem. The analysis of these differences is called "redaction criticism" in scripture studies, focussing on the distinct contributions of the different authors. What is not studied so much is the way in which the texts of the sacred liturgy often give us a ready-made reconciliation of the gospels. In the case of the traditional sung texts, this composite picture is an important source in itself. In the sung texts of the traditional Roman rite, the first part of today's Palm Sunday liturgy gives greater emphasis to the children than we might otherwise take from a reading of the gospel texts themselves. Particular weight is given to the mention of children in St Matthew's gospel: And the chief priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying: Hosanna to the son of David; were m

Confirmations, converts and men in white

The parish Confirmations are always a most enjoyable occasion for me. Seeing twenty-five young people come before the successor of the apostles to be anointed and receive the Holy Spirit's grace for strengthening is a sign of hope for the Church and a joy to the parish priest. Today I also received two converts into full communion with the Catholic Church and we have four more to be baptised at the Easter Vigil next Saturday. It is wonderful to welcome people into communion with the See of Peter and through that bond into communion with every Catholic Church throughout the world. On Wednesday evening I visited the Priory of St Philip at Chelmsford to give a talk on Lumen Gentium and the theology of the Church. On a cold evening it was impressive to see a full hall. The Norbertines are running a healthy large parish in Essex with fine Liturgy, including their own traditional rite. I had the chance for a chat with some of the Fathers afterwards. This morning, looking at the ne

Holy Week with the Ordinariate

For people in reach of central London there are always many beautiful liturgical celebrations during Holy Week at various Churches. This year the Ordinariate will have a full programme in the Church which they have recently begun to take care of, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory in Warwick Street, Soho. The poster above gives the details. I have posted the full resolution file so if you click it, you can see it full size.

On the new Pope from the Provost of the London Oratory

Fr Julian Large, Provost of the London Oratory, was himself a journalist before becoming a priest. His schooling in this field is evident in the quality of writing in his public Letters from the Provost and never more so than in his latest superb piece on the election of Pope Francis. This is genuinely pastoral writing at its very best. In looking for a couple of quotes to pull out, I was spoilt for choice, so let me just take what I think is the core of Father's message to his people, while urging you to read the whole letter, especially if you are a bit nervous or confused at the moment: Whatever personal feelings – euphoric, neutral or negative – an individual might experience towards the person of any particular pope are neither here nor there as far as being a good Catholic is concerned. There is, however, a very definite and proper Catholic response to the election of a new Pope. We receive the Successor of St Peter into our hearts with love, and we support him with our

Bishop Davies calls for loyalty to the Holy Father

I was thinking of writing something about our duty as Catholics to be loyal to the Pope. I am grateful that Bishop Mark Davies has saved me the trouble by writing a fine pastoral letter on the theme, calling inter alia for prayer and penance:: Pastoral Letter To be read at Mass in all the churches and chapels of the Diocese on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, 16th / 17th March 2013 My dear brothers and sisters, “I announce a great joy to you: we have a Pope!” This announcement first made from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome has echoed across the world. I write this Sunday to share with you the joy of welcoming Pope Francis as St Peter’s Successor, as Bishop of Rome and so as our Pope. During the past two weeks the Chair of St Peter has stood empty and the Pope’s name has poignantly been absent from the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. We have felt this absence and today share a great joy that in Pope Francis we once more have a Holy Father, a successor in our time of the Ap

The lifeblood of the Mystical Body of Christ

One day earlier this week I saw a mother about the baptism of her baby, a grieving family about the funeral of a fine father and grandfather, schoolchildren about singing the texts of the Mass, teenagers about their forthcoming Confirmation and then a couple to rehearse their marriage ceremony. Today I heard the confessions of some children in the school and later some children making their first Confession after our evening service of Rosary, Benediction and Novena. Tomorrow I will be celebrating a funeral and on Saturday a wedding. All of these things bring joy to me as a priest. Baptisms and Weddings obviously, but also funerals because the rites of the Church enable us to overcome the world's attitude to death as meaningless, and in the sacrament of Penance we rejoice in the Lord's compassion and mercy. I have several funerals to celebrate in the next two weeks and it is most consoling if I have also given the Sacraments to the person during their time of dying so that

An apology to Rorate Caeli and a correction on TLM provision in Buenos Aires

My post on the Old Rite Mass in Argentina was in response to several comments I read in various places stating that there is no provision for the usus antiquior in Argentina. I did not intend to make any criticism of the Rorate Caeli blog (which did not make that assertion) and I apologise if that impression was given. I am also happy to link to NC's post How Summorum Pontificum was blocked and trampled on in Buenos Aires: facts, not fantasy and disinformation . So although Cardinal Bergoglio did initially arrange for a Mass according to the norms of Summorum Pontificum , it was such that the readings were from the modern lectionary in the vernacular - so far in accord with a possible first reading of SP (though Universae Ecclesiae  n.26 made clear that the readings should be from the 1962 lectionary) - but also with lay readers which is not provided for in SP. Attendance at the Mass dwindled and it was discontinued. Just to be clear also, the Masses which are on the google

Holy Father prays at the tomb of Pope St Pius V

Just by the way ...

A Marian Pope

At the Day With Mary last Saturday, some people said to me that they were praying for a Marian Pope. Last night, Pope Francis said "Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome." This morning at about 8am, the Holy Father visited the Basilica of St Mary Major and prayed before the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani after placing a small bouquet of flowers on the altar. So it seems the prayers were answered and we do have a Marian Pope.

Old rite Mass in Argentina

There have been many comments flying around alleging that there are no old rite Masses in Argentina apart from those offered by the SSPX. It seems that things are different. reported that 48 hours after Pope Benedict issued Summorum Pontificum , Archbishop Bergoglio arranged for Mass according to the usus antiquior to be said regularly at St Michael the Archangel in Buenos Aires. (Source: Regresó la misa en latín, con mujeres cubiertas por mantillas ) There is also a google map of places where Mass is said in the old rite in Argentina according to the provisions of  Summorum Pontificum . (i.e. not the SSPX chapels in Argentina but regular chapels either diocesan or religious.) Una Voce Argentina also has news of Masses celebrated in that country. Unless these sources are all completely bogus, they do scotch one rumour that seems to be taking hold. I have seen bald assertions in various places that there are no old rite Masses in Argentina except those o

Matt today

From Matt , the top cartoonist. Daily Telegraph .

Which St Francis?

Our new Holy Father has taken the name Francis. Along with many others I have suggested that he was thinking of St Francis of Assisi. Quite a few people have said that since he is a Jesuit, he may have been thinking of St Francis Xavier. But why not St Francis Borgia? or: St Francis Caracciolo St Francis de Sales St Francis of Paola St Francis Solano St Francesco Antonio Fasani or: Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Blessed Francisco Martos Blessed Francis Faà di Bruno or even possibly: St Frances of Rome St Frances Xavier Cabrini I still think it most likely that he was thinking of St Francis of Assisi, but he may also have had St Francis Xavier in mind - but why not also St Francis Borgia who, along with St Pius V and St Charles Borromeo showed how corruption in the Church can be overcome by sanctity. (St Francis Borgia, sometimes known as the second founder of the Jesuits, was the grandson of Pope Alexander VI.)

Chant Café immediately has Oremus pro Pontifice posted

People have said that this is the first social media Pontifical election. There are many manifestations. I have just been blown away by the fact that Chant Café has already posted a graphic with the Oremus pro Pontifice with the name of the new Pope all nicely included. Must have a little practice so that I can lead the people with this tomorrow morning.

A valiant defender of life and the family

Lifesite News has a post recognising the achievements of Pope Francis as a valiant defender of life and the family. Regarding the proposed legalisation of same-sex marriage in Argentina, he said: "We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God." He has also strongly opposed abortion and euthanasia.

Rebuild my Church

Just now it occurred to me that in the chapel of San Damiano, St Francis was told by Our Lord "Francis, Go and rebuild my Church, which you can see has fallen into ruin." He began by physically rebuilding the church but then realised that the call was to rebuild the Church spiritually. Obviously I am not the only one to think of this, but what a beautiful thought that perhaps Cardinal Bergoglio took the name Francis with this in mind.

Some links for background on Pope Francis

Pope Francis I is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and is the first Jesuit Pope in history. He is 76 and was ordained in 1969. He obtained a doctorate in Germany. As Cardinal he lived in a simple apartment and travelled by public transport. He was Ordinary for the Eastern Rite faithful. Along with his simple and ascetical lifestyle, he has been a vocal opponent of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage while promoting social justice. (I think the Tablet will have a job deciphering this.) His style has something in common with St Charles Borromeo. There will be much comment in the next few weeks so I will leave it at that for now and hope to learn much from the Holy Father himself and from others. For the moment leave you with a few links: Here is the basic  Vatican biography Taylor Marshall has quickly posted Ten Facts about Pope Francis John Allen in his article (already re-titled) in a wide-ranging series of "men who could be Pope" very much hedged his bets, but

Vatican website quick off the mark

It is nice to see that the Vatican website is updated within minutes of the announcement of the new Pope. I'm now going to do the new notice for the sacristy: "Nomen Papae: Franciscum." UPDATE :

Watching the announcement

The Vatican National Anthem is now being played so time to start a new post while waiting for Cardinal Tauran to appear. Some quite good drill on display as well. It is great to be able to follow everything via CTV on the internet with enthusiastic and positive commentary  rather than some useless secular media service. (We could tell the BBC that the Cardinals have now not "failed" to elect a Pope.) Now well over 100,000 people gathered and the via Conciliazione is filled up... Lights on in the Hall of Benedictions ... Cardinal Tauran appears on the balcony... Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam. Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum. Dominum Georgium Marium, Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglium. Qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum. Viva il Papa ! God bless Pope  Francis I. Here are some more screen grabs from the first address and blessing of Pope Francis:

Nail-biting moments

Thanks be to God in His loving providence I am able to watch CTV and see the crowds in St Peter's Square rejoicing that the white smoke is billowing out of the Sistine Chapel chimney. In Rome, people run to St Peter's Square or drive and then park their cars anywhere to be there. The Square is already full so I expect the Via della Conciliazione will itself get filled. It will be a nail-biting time for the next 45 minutes or so, but there is a great joy that we do have a Pope, whoever he is. In the meantime, I'll get a couple more screen grabs from CTV. The delight of a religious sister Crowds pouring down the Via della Conciliazione towards a packed square Hey! They got a band! And they got another one a

Children taking part in the Conclave

Home from the Council of Priests meeting and catching up on some email and paperwork, I have CTV switched on, waiting for the smoke. The children of one of my families in the parish have been taking part in the Conclave in their own way, encouraged by their parents. Above you can see the chimney they have made. Go over to Defende Nos in Proelio and you can see the papal flag prepared in the garden, together with a bell that will be rung to alert the neighbours if there is white smoke. When Pope John Paul was elected, I was with a good friend in his rooms at Keble College Oxford, listening to Vatican Radio. When the name Carolum was pronounced, he immediately said "Goodness! It's Woytyla!" He was probably one of few in the world who was so well-informed. Nowadays the internet has changed things dramatically. I have printed off the CNS list of Cardinal electors' "first names" in Latin to experience that jittery "is it really him?" moment. (B

Inside the Domus Sanctae Marthae

How do I have a collection of photos from inside the Domus Sanctae Marthae ? you ask. Have the Blackfen papal ninjas organised a black op to get photos for the Hermeneutic of Continuity? The answer is more prosaic, I'm afraid. Back in 2010, for the International Colloquium of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy I stayed there along with most of the other priests. I thought that I should take some photos of the room I was allocated (one of the better ones as it happens) since they might come in useful one day. Well I suppose today is that day. Above you can see the house chapel. Here is the study part of my superior room (the Cardinals are allocated the rooms by lot.) and here is the bedroom part: There are good, tall, cassock-friendly wardrobes with plenty of space (it has to be assumed that the Cardinals might be staying for a few weeks, even if most recent conclaves have been short) An interesting point for Americans; here is the small organ in the chape

A simple Mass everyone can join in with

Here is a link to the booklet for the Mass for the Election of a Pope which will be celebrated by the Cardinals in St Peter's tomorrow morning at 10am Rome time. (9am GMT) It is all very straightforward - the propers are sung in Gregorian chant and Mass VIII ( de Angelis ) is sung with Credo III. (The Psalmus Responsorius is sung instead of the Gradual with a slightly jaunty response and the psalm in that universal language of Italian ( che ?) but the  Psalmus Responsorius  is an enduring problem for the Novus Ordo so that is a minor quibble.) The Eucharistic Prayer will be the Roman Canon. During Holy Communion the Adoro te Devote will be sung (in addition to the Communion antiphon, not as a replacement). The choir and people will sing alternate verses: perhaps that means that the choir will sing some polyphony. After the end of Mass, Ave Regina Caelorum . Seeing this booklet makes me rejoice. Pope Benedict succeeded in reforming the Liturgy of the Papal Masses and thi

SPUC Youth Conference - book now

There is still just time to book in for the SPUC International Pro-Life Youth Conference 2013 from 22-24 March. This promises to be an enjoyable and informative weekend for young pro-lifers. See John Smeaton's post today: Leading experts will address SPUC's int'l youth conference, 22-24 March . If you are young and free for a weekend, this is a conference not to miss. Personally, I would be most interested to hear Patrick Pullicino on the Liverpool Care Pathway as this is something that worries me as a parish priest. I won't be able to get to the conference of course as I will be celebrating several hours worth of Palm Sunday Masses, but I look forward to reports.

FSSP Vocations weekend

Fr De Malleray sends news of a Vocations weekend organised by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England . Please remember in your prayers the young men from England who are already considering applying to the seminaries of the Fraternity this year, and the priests who will be participating in the Fraternity's retreat in Bavaria. Vocation discernment weekend 26-28 April 2013 at St John Fisher House in Reading: For any English-speaking Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us). Starts on Friday 26 April at 6pm – Mass 7.30pm (arrivals from 5pm) – ends on Sunday 28 April at 3pm. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP. Location: St John Fisher House, 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England. Off-street parking available. Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite) including polyphonic Sung Mass on Sunday, silent prayer, and optional pr

40 Hours at London Oratory as Conclave begins

Thanks to Divine Providence the Forty Hours arranged by the Oratory Fathers in London coincides with the start of the Conclave. If you are in reach of London, this is a great opportunity for you to pop in to pray for your adopted Cardinal , say the Novena Prayers (you can, of course continue saying them even though the Novena has been completed), say the Rosary or just spend some time in meditation before the Blessed Sacrament (half an hour gains a plenary indulgence.) Here is the notice from the Fathers: This year the Quarant'Ore devotion takes place over the first days of the Papal Conclave. The Church will therefore be open all night on Tuesday and Wednesday. Please pray to our Eucharistic Lord that he give us a shepherd after His own Most Sacred Heart. Tuesday 12th March (CHURCH OPEN ALL NIGHT - please enter by side door after midnight) 6.30pm Solemn Mass of Exposition and Procession of the Blessed Sacrament (Latin - Ordinary Form) Music: Toccata Quarta (alla Eleva

The joy of a Day With Mary

Yesterday the team from A Day With Mary  came to Blackfen. As parish priest, I feel that we are privileged to be able to host one of these days. The mother of one of our young families has posted her own appreciation on  A Day With Mary at Blackfen  with the photos that I have posted here, and some others. The day begins with the crowning of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima - or Our Lady of the Rosary as she referred to herself, making me proud to host this event in a parish with that dedication. In the picture to the right, you can see me precariously atop a stepladder placing the crown which was carried by one of our young girls in the parish. There follows an outdoor procession of Our Lady around the streets which are conveniently such that we can say five mysteries of the Rosary along with the Litany of Loreto in the time it takes to go round the block. Mass follows: the DWM team are happy to have either form of the Roman Rite, according to the direction of the parish prie

Manif Pour Tous - a Londres!

The French Association “ La Manif Pour Tous ” are holding a national demonstration in London against same-sex marriage, and to support traditional marriage between a man and a woman. They say: Please join us if you share our belief that the ancient institution of marriage and the traditional family should not be sacrificed for the sake of politically-correct fashion. Meet in Parliament Square   UPDATE: TRAFALGAR SQUARE  at 2pm on Sunday 24 March. For more information, see:

Catholic Medical Quarterly February 2013 online

The February 2013 edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly is now online. This is certainly of interest to any Catholic healthcare professionals but is also of more general interest to Catholics concerned with medical ethics - that's all of us in today's Britain. By way of example, there is a fine article by Andrew Pollard on The Crisis of Declining Human Fertility which meets head-on the arguments of the population control scaremongers. The February issue also has an article on the Medicine of the Crucifixion and several other good articles including important advice on some of the things that you might say to a woman considering an abortion.

Asking the protection of Our Lady

When I was at seminary, we used to have sermon practices in which we would give a sermon and than have it dissected by a group of half a dozen or so fellow students and a Prof. Nowadays, we have the opportunity to have our sermons critiqued by thousands. I willingly gave permission to The Day With Mary team to put my sermon from yesterday's Day With Mary at Blackfen onto YouTube. It is a good humiliation to see yourself preaching on video and try to learn from it.

Sistine Chapel prep gang

Rome Reports has been doing some great background videos. They manage to produce excellent short films which I suppose we might call "video-bites." I enjoyed this one of the Sistine Chapel being prepared for the Conclave. There will be a lot of passed-on knowledge among the people doing the nuts and bolts stuff. I can imagine there being a tough old chief ganger who knows the ropes keeping the newer lads in line to get everything exactly as it should be. "Right get that No2 box opened and be careful with it - it's the stove." It must be great for them to be able to come home and tell their children what they were doing at work today - and in years to come, to tell their grandchildren.

A word of encouragement for seminarians after the O'Brien scandal

Fr Stephen Langridge, the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Southwark, has had to cope with one of the effects of the Cardinal O'Brien scandal in pastoral life, that is, its impact on the morale of those who are considering a priestly vocation. Young men who are thinking of the priesthood meet up with their friends in secular life and routinely have to face media-driven prejudice. With a story like this, the heat increases and there is sometimes an understandable temptation to despondency. Fr Langridge offers a moving  Word of Encouragement as a true pastor: How would we react if we were to discover that our father was committing adultery? I am sure there would be a range of emotions including anger, confusion and great sadness. But would we blame our mother? No. We would cling to her more closely. We would try to console her by the warmth of our love. We would stick with her. When the Church has been wronged by one of her members it should evoke within us a desire

An evening at Southwark's Centre for Catholic Formation

Liam Connnolly has organised a Study course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church as part of the Archdiocese of Southwark's provision for the Year of Faith, under the auspices of the Centre for Catholic Formation at Tooting Bec. The course is running over twelve weeks and people can either sign up for the whole lot, or choose to come for the sessions that they want. Completing the whole course and an assignment counts as a module for the Certificate in the Catechism of the Catholic Church awarded by Maryvale . I was impressed by the number of people who came - I think it was in the region of seventy or so people and apparently most of the participants have signed up to the whole course. The course covers nn.1-421 of the Catechism. This evening I gave a presentation on nn.268-294 on "The Almighty" and the first part of "Creator". Speakers have been left to approach the material in different ways. I chose not to go through all of the articles in detail s

Complaining to the BBC about That Intro

Sometimes people ask for examples of what Catholic bloggers and others have identified as BBC bias against the Catholic Church. You could not wish for a clearer example that the intro to the 0810 interview of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor by John Humphreys yesterday on the Radio 4 Today programme. You can hear it for a few days on the BBC iPlayer . (The segment starts at about 2 hours 10 minutes.) I take the point that Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's performance was not all that we might have hoped for, but Leutgeb at Bara Brith has highlighted in her letter of complaint the relentless negativity that Catholics have to endure from the BBC. It is also true that some gay people have abused children. ( Example .) But elementary logic teaches us that the proposition "some gays are paedophiles" does not imply the proposition "all gays are paedophiles." The BBC would never make that mistake. Would it be too much to ask of the BBC that the same elementary logic be ap

Cardinal Ratzinger was not the "obvious candidate"

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been mildly irritated by the assertion of many journalists, particularly Catholic ones, that at the last conclave Cardinal Ratzinger was the obvious candidate (and that, by contrast, this time there is no such front runner.) This is nonsense. In 2005, people were suggesting all sorts of names but few people seriously thought that Cardinal Ratzinger would be elected. The surprise of his election added to the jubilation of the thousands in St Peter's Square and many more throughout the world. Therefore I was most interested in this post at Rorate Caeli today and I am entirely in agreement with it - also thankful that they have put on record one or two telling pieces of supporting evidence. Pope Benedict's election roughly coincided with the growth of the Catholic blogosphere. In days gone by, it would have been possible for journalists to get away with a hindsight-coloured picture of events. That is more difficult today. It is conso

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