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Showing posts from 2019

Our Lady Immaculate, our model for preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ.

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Listening with respect to the message of the angel, and prudently questioning him on how it was possible for her to be the Mother of Christ, Our Lady gave her immediate, willing and whole-hearted consent. From then on, her prayerful expectation of the birth of Christ is a model for us of the devout attitude we should endeavour to adopt during the season of Advent.

From the moment of her conception in the womb of Saint Anne, Our Lady, by a singular privilege, was free from original sin and never committed a single venial sin. Educated in the Temple from childhood, she faithfully and obediently followed the law of God as it was then in force for the Jewish people. She took part in the worship of the synagogue on the sabbath and went to Jerusalem for the great feasts. She observed those feasts with devotion, aware of their meaning which pointed to the Messiah, her own child, the One who is to come.

At those feasts, the psalms formed a major part of the liturgy. She would have known them…

Academy of the Annunciation: a new initiative in Bournemouth

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I am very happy to pass on news of the founding of the Academy of the Annunciation in Bournemouth. The Academy plans to offer conferences and study days for lay people to equip students to evangelise effectively in the vineyard of the Lord. It is also looking to provide conferences for priests, religious, and seminarians.

The Academy will be based at the Sacred Heart, the home of the Bournemouth Oratory-in-Formation which is a beautiful setting: stunning Church and lovely environment with the beach and gardens only a few minutes' walk away. The Angel of the Annunciation logo (above) is taken from an image on the reredos of the Lady Chapel at Sacred Heart.


Bishop Philip Egan is seen here with Dr Denise Oliver (left) and Dr Christina Pal (right) who taught in Rome at the Pontifical North American College (seminary) and other places – Dr Pal at Christendom College and Dr Oliver at the Angelicum, the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas and elsewhere.

The first offering of the …

How to make an act of perfect contrition

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 …

Two forthcoming High Masses at Sacred Heart Bournemouth

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Solemn High Nuptial Mass This coming Saturday 22 June at 2.30pm Stephanie Hogan and Andrew McDowell celebrate their wedding with Nuptial Mass in the usus antiquior at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Richmond Hill, Bournemouth, the home of the Bournemouth Oratory in Formation.

As is always the case with a public Mass in a Catholic Church, everybody is welcome. Obviously the family cannot invite everyone to the wedding reception afterwards, but it is a great thing when Catholics come to a wedding and to Mass just because they want to take part with their prayers and assistance at the conferral of a sacrament and the offering of Mass, and pray for the newly-married couple. You don't need a specific invitation to do this.

UPDATE
You do in fact have a blogged invitation! Both for the Mass at Bournemouth and for a Missa Cantata in Durham two weeks later. See Andrew's post at Catholic Collar and TieFrom Andrew: News of an upcoming Wedding...mine!
First Mass on the feast of St Pe…

3 (slightly ranty) suggestions for when you are ordered to stand until everyone has received Holy Communion

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In North America, it seems that there is a fashion (for that is the kind of thing that it is) for Bishops and priests to order the holy people of God, once they have returned to their place after Holy Communion, to remain standing until the last person has received Holy Communion. As a priest I find it baffling that some of my brethren feel the need to regiment the faithful in this way. I understand the concept of a “common bodily posture” being a sign of unity, though I think its value is exaggerated. Allowing people to kneel, sit or stand as they prefer, during a time of silent prayer after Holy Communion is not likely to cause any great spiritual disunity, whereas telling people to stand, contrary to a centuries old tradition of kneeling after Holy Communion, will cause disunity, anger and frustration.

Just to give a reference point: in the traditional Roman liturgy, on the sanctuary, the clergy in choir would kneel until the celebrant had consumed the second ablution, that is, un…

Don't forget Blessed Teofilius Matulionis

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Tomorrow is the feast day of Blessed Teofilius Matulionis, the proto-martyr of Lithuania who spent many years in prison because of his faith; the communists brutally murdered him in 1962. He was beatified at Vilnius in 2017. In many places in England, there is now a significant number of people from the Baltic states who are coming regularly to Mass. It would be great to acknowledge their recently beatified hero. I wrote about him after his beatification: Blessed Teofilius Matulionis, Martyr of Lithuania and here are links for Lithuanian readers:

Official website
Teofilius Matulionis - Vikipedija
T. Matulionis – vyskupas sovietinėje mėsmalėje

If you are a priest and celebrating according to the modern calendar, you could offer a votive Mass in his honour tomorrow. If you celebrate according to the traditional calendar, you'll have to wait a little, but it would be great for us to make room for this great martyr in our devotions.

Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement - an evening at The Keys

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Yesterday I spent an enjoyable evening with The Keys, the Guild of Catholic Writers which meets at the Jesuit Church of Farm Street in Mayfair. There is Mass, then dinner, then the meeting; this seems to me a good way of arranging things. Last night, Paul Shrimpton gave an excellent talk on how the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman influenced Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement in Nazi Germany. It was moving for me to hear Paul speak, since our paths last crossed in about 1979 when we were both undergraduates at Oxford.

I wrote about Sophie Scholl ten years ago in the post White Rose - White Flower, highlighting John Smeaton's appeal for us to see the movement as a parallel to the pro-life movement today. Then in 2012 I found out about a Moving film of Sophie Scholl. (You can find the full version of the film free on YouTube at this link.) The inspiring courage of these young people is especially important for us today. They faced an authoritarian attack on free speech,…

Calling the modern lectionary into question

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The other day, Rorate Caeli published a lecture given by Dr Kwasniewski at the Sacra Liturgia conference in 2015 in New York, on the reform of the lectionary. See: 50 Years of a Religious and Cultural Catastrophe: When the Yearly Biblical Readings of Immemorial Tradition Were Cast Away

At the heart of the discussion over the modern rite lectionary is the question of the purpose of the scripture texts at Mass. Until recently, it was unheard of to suggest that there was any other purpose than the instruction of the faithful. Kwasnieski argues that the lessons have first and foremost "an ecclesial identity, a sacerdotal orientation, and a eucharistic finality." This question is crucial in the discussion of such matters as the length of texts or the manner in which the scripture is presented at Mass: who reads it, which direction they face, what they wear, whether they speak or chant...

The purpose of the lessons also nags away in the background when we come to decide whether t…

Must we call it the Sacrament of Reconciliation rather than the Sacrament of Confession?

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You may have come across expert VaticanIIologians who say that we should not speak of the Sacrament of Confession or of Penance any more, but use the sacrament’s shiny new name, given to it by the Second Vatican Council: The Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This is nonsense. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Sacrament of Penance, Confession, and Reconciliation. The Code of Canon Law also uses all three terms. Hard-working parish volunteer catechists should be reassured that it is still perfectly proper to use the term Confession and it makes sense to do so because that is the name by which it is most commonly known. For adults under instruction, it might be helpful to explain the other terms since they tell us something about the sacrament. However, it is worth knowing why the term “reconciliation” is used, and what its significance is, since this is widely misunderstood.
Vatican II’s “astonishing enactment” In Lumen Gentium, the Council fathers dealt with the sacraments…

Popular posts from this blog

How to make an act of perfect contrition

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

Academy of the Annunciation: a new initiative in Bournemouth

An example of some meaty catechesis from my childhood

Commemoration of Abbe Edgeworth