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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…

Three Things that are Wrong about Making Everyone Stand after Holy Communion

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In some places in the USA there is a custom of people going back to their place after Holy Communion and then remaining standing until everybody has received Holy Communion. (What happens then? Does everybody kneel or does everybody sit? If I gave you 5-1 odds for everyone sitting, I think I would come out quids in.) Sadly, I understand that this postural uniformity is mandated by some Bishops. In case there is any danger of its creeping across the Atlantic, I would like to offer some negative comment. I have selected Three Things that are wrong with this imposition – and free of charge, you get a Bonus Wrong Thing.
1st Wrong Thing. It interferes with a proper desire to adore God and to be recollected. In the period immediately after Holy Communion, the holy people of God quite rightly want to adore Jesus Christ and to be recollected . Kneeling down is a posture suitable to earnest prayer and adoration. The order for everybody to stand is presumably meant in some way to reinforce the…

5 Things about Votive Masses to bring up under AOB at the Parish Council Meeting

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Votive Masses need to be better known and more often celebrated. So if your Parish Council Meeting needs a little groundswell of devotional zip, here are some Things about Votive Masses to know and share. Thing 3 is especially important.
Thing 1. They are not a medieval invention The earliest liturgical books that we have, such as the Leonine Sacramentary contain Masses for special intentions. By the time of the Gregorian Sacramentary, these were called Missae Votivae. These were Masses that did not correspond to the office of the day, which would be sung according to the season. Votive Masses probably go back right to the beginning of our liturgical history. What happened during the middle ages is that votive Masses became more common. It was a sensible reform to limit them to a certain degree so that they were restricted in the main, to days on which there was not a major celebration in the Church’s calendar.
Thing 2. They are allowed more often than people think It may be that you h…

Saint Stanislaus, two sad comparisons, and the fall of Communism

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A central part of any visit to Krakow is a visit to the Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus on the Wawel Hill. It is some years now since I walked around it on a cold and foggy late November evening. I remember the thrilling sense that here, every stone is Poland.

The Wawel Cathedral is of enormous significance to the Polish people. Most importantly of all, it has the altar and sarcophagus of Saint Stanislaus, the Bishop who defied a King. Saint Stanislaus 1030-1079 was Bishop of Kracow at a time when Christianity was still being established in Poland. The faith was only brought to the country after the preaching of Saint Methodius in Moldavia. Saint Stanislaus furthered the early growth of Christianity in Poland significantly by getting the King, Boleslaw II the Bold, to establish Benedictine monasteries. He contributed even more to the Christianisation of Poland by his martyrdom.

The dispute with Boleslaw began with a legal case over the ownership of …

CD 299: Envy of another's success

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I think that I work conscientiously at my job, but I find that I become jealous of those who manage to achieve better results. Is this a sin or a motivation?
Envy occurs when we are saddened or angered by another’s good, experience pain at hearing them praised, and when we tend to undermine their good repute. (Strictly speaking, jealousy is a related but distinct fault in which we have an excessive love of our own good and the fear of being deprived of it by others.) Envy is opposed to charity because we should rejoice in the good of others. As a capital sin, envy leads to other evils such as wishing someone ill, speaking calumny or detraction against them, sowing discord, a disordered quest for success and reward, and disturbing the peace of our soul.

Envy can be either a sin or a temptation. Sometimes feelings of envy arise without our wishing them, and in such a case, as with other passions, it is an opportunity for growth in the spiritual life. A negative remedy is to try to put su…

Our Lord was in favour of world peace, but that was not what He was bestowing on the apostles

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Our Lord would have been in favour of world peace. I think we can safely say that. Even if you think that some wars are, or have been necessary for justice, Our Lord’s positive will would be that people would not commit the sins that led to the injustice in the first place.

Be that as it may, when Our Lord appeared to the apostles in the upper room (Jn 20) and gave His greeting “Peace be with you”, he was praying for a peace within their own hearts rather than for a generalised world peace. We can infer this from a previous occasion on which Our Lord said that He would bequeath peace to the apostles and added, “Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) Of course, the two things are not in opposition. As St John XXIII said at the beginning of his encyclical letter Pacem in Terris:
"Peace on Earth — which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after — can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely…

Congratulations to Bishop Hying, the diocese of Madison, and Fr Z

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Since Bishop Morlino died last November after suffering a cardiac event, I have been praying for my good friend and blogging supremo Fr Zuhlsdorf, and the diocese of Madison. Bishop Morlino was an outstanding Bishop who was courageous in his witness to the teaching of the Church. He also made generous provision for the traditional Latin Mass, himself celebrating Pontifical High Mass in the older form.

Yesterday the announcement was made that Bishop Donald Hying, Bishop of Gary, Indiana, has been appointed as the new Bishop of Madison. It is great to see that Fr Zuhlsdorf is upbeat and positive about this news. I pray that this appointment will bring many blessings for the diocese of Madison.



The Red Scapular and Friday meditation on the Passion

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In the meditation for today, the Friday of the Easter Octave, the excellent book of Meditations of Priests, Seminarians and Religious, by the Rev Dominic Phillips CM, reflects on the value of frequent meditation on the passion.

Fr Phillips gives a favourable mention to the red scapular and so I decided to find out more about it. I think I have now got most of the way through one of those internet source criticism journeys. Let me save you the trouble: the ultimate Quelle or source for all other internet articles on the subject (including the Wikipedia article which repeatedly offers a dead link which was presumably once alive) is a leaflet which can be found at the website of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal at this link: Redscapular.pdf. That gives you the basic information, some of which I too will repeat here for your convenience.

In the summer of 1846, Sr Louise-Apolline Andriveau had a number of visions of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, particularly related to t…

Mutual enrichment: the traditional form of the ablutions

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Many good priests of my acquaintance are keen to celebrate Mass in a more traditional way, but do not celebrate the usus antiquior. This may be because of a lack of Latin, because of a fear that the older form is too difficult to learn, or for some other reason. While I would encourage such priests to learn the classical form of our Roman Rite in its entirety, I think that it is also helpful to learn parts of it that can legitimately be used when celebrating the modern rite.

This is in accord with the desire of Pope Benedict, expressed in the letter he wrote to accompany Summorum Pontificum which reassured everyone that the older form of the Mass had not been abrogated and that permission was not needed to celebrate it. The Holy Father spoke of how the two forms of the Roman Rite could be mutually enriching. I wrote about this some time ago and the article is available online if you would like to read it: Mutual Enrichment in Theory and Practice. (Please note prohibition of publishin…

No you can't have the little white thing! An example from 14 centuries ago

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Today is the feast day of Saint Mellitus who was sent to England by St Gregory the Great from the monastery of St Andrew on the Coelian Hill in Rome. In London he set up the first Church of St Paul.

When the Christian King Sabert died in about 616AD, his three sons, Sexred, Seward, and Sigebert, succeeded him. They were pagans, but wanted to get the white thing that the Christians had at their religious service. They asked Saint Mellitus for the white bread to strengthen them. He told them that they could receive Holy Communion if they were baptised, but despite his repeated and patient explanations, they refused to accept that they needed this extra ceremony as they saw it. They became very angry at what they considered his intransigence, and exiled him and his Christian community from London.

Plus ca change! Today also, people want to receive Holy Communion without understanding that it is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. They become angry if any demands …

Yes, the body of the risen Jesus was glorified; but it was also physical

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The resurrection of Jesus was different from the resurrections of Lazarus, of Jairus’ daughter, and of the son of the widow of Naim. Those people were all raised to continue their earthly lives, and would eventually die again. Jesus rose once and for all and would never die again. (Rom 6:9)

The resurrection of Jesus was also different in that his risen body was in a state of glory. When he appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they did not recognise him until the breaking of the bread, and then he vanished from their sight. (Lk 24:31) When he appeared to the apostles in the upper room, he entered through closed doors. At the sea of Tiberius he was only partly recognised at first. (Jn 21:1-14)

These aspects of the appearances of Jesus, which make them significantly different from ordinary human encounters, lead some people to the erroneous idea that the resurrection of Jesus was not physical. However the gospels do not allow us that option since other parts of the same acco…

He loved us to the uttermost

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St John says of the Logos,
“All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (Jn 1:3-5) and he makes it clear that this Logos is the historic Jesus Christ by saying that the Logos was made flesh, and then going on to describe His life, death and resurrection.

St Paul also speaks of this Logos who was in the beginning:
“For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. And he is before all, and by him all things consist.” (Col 1:16-17) Jesus Christ Himself said to the apostles,
“I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) The life that Our Lord came to bring us is communicated to us in the Holy Eucharist, our Holy Communion with Him, and therefore with the God…

Christian meditation is not the same as "mindfulness"

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In the approach to the Sacred Triduum, I was glad to come across this article by this article by Fr Ed Broom: Ten Ways to Meditate on Christ’s Passion because it struck me as very helpful for people who have a sincere desire to follow Christ more devoutly but are unsure about "methods of prayer" or whether some special esoteric technique might be required to be a more devoted follower of Christ.

Father Broom lists ten simple practices which will probably already be familiar to most good Catholics, and gives some simple and practical advice on how to use them to good effect.

Unfortunately, the word "meditation" itself can be unhelpful. It is associated nowadays with "mindfulness" and the need to have an expert of some sort to teach you how to acquire the right technique. It is also generally accepted that mindfulness is not for everyone, whereas prayer is most definitely for everyone. As St Alphonsus says, "for adults prayer is necessary as a means o…

Saint Praxedes and her amazing Basilica

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A great resource which gathers information every day for the Station Churches is the blog Zephyrinus. This blog also has posts on feast days, steam trains and occasionally on the foibles of Chauffeur Perkins.

Every day during Lent, a different Church is the location for the Stational Liturgy. For those who live or are studying in Rome, it is a great opportunity to visit some Churches that are usually closed. The Pontifical North American College celebrates Mass every day at the Station Church. For details, see their page The Roman Station Liturgy.

Today the post of Zephyrinus with pictures and information about the Basilica of Santa Prassede took me back to a visit there several decades ago. The peeling paint on the outside wall is just as I remember it. Here is a screenshot from Google street view as you walk towards it along a short side street off the Via Merulana:


It doesn't look very impressive. This is a quintessentially Roman experience. When you go through the normally lo…

St Gemma and the valiant "lions of Folgore"

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Today being the feast day of St Gemma, we should ask her intercession for all paratroopers and parachutists.

During the second world war, from 1941-1942, Italian paratroopers of the crack 185th parachute division Folgore (Lightning) were trained at Tarquinia where the local Passionist sisters were asked to sew their badges onto their uniforms. The holy sisters feared for the safety of the young men, and sewed in a couple of extras: a holy card and a relic of St Gemma Galgani who had been canonised in 1940. The soldiers very much appreciated this kindness and formally asked the Postulator General of the Passionists to declare St Gemma the patron saint of paratroopers. (For more, see St Gemma -The Patron Saint of Paratroopers and Parachutists)

It should be noted that the Folgore division fought with great valour in October and November of 1942 at the second battle of El Alamein, resisting General Montgomery's 8th army offensive until their ammunition was exhausted. Winston Churchil…

The BBC: "cheerleader" for assisted suicide

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The article BBC in denial over its assisted-suicide cheerleading by Alistair Thompson is important reading. When we discuss assisted suicide with good and thoughtful people, it can seem as though somebody else has got there first. Not being a fan of the BBC, I haven't noticed the insidious propaganda campaign that it has been waging recently in favour of changing the law to permit euthanasia (let's be honest, that is what we are talking about in the debate on assisted suicide.)

And it is a propaganda campaign. The BBC is not some johnny-come-lately internet upstart, it is an organisation with decades of experience in exactly how to form public opinion. Good honest people rely on the BBC to give balanced coverage of such a sensitive issue. The bias with which it covers such an important issue as assisted suicide is all the more pernicious when the organisation is so trusted.

Fundamentally, we appeal to natural law - deep down we all know that human life is a good, that suicide…

The new Manichees and the conjugal act

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It is great that the Catholic Herald has Chad Pecknold writing a column "Daily Herald." Today he has a thought-provoking piece called Progressive writers are starting to admit the sexual revolution was a failure.

He refers to a Guardian article in which the writer acknowledges that sexual permissiveness is a "a dystopia that gave rise to a rape culture." So far, so obvious, but the recent development which really puzzles the "progressives" is that there is a decrease in sexual activity among young people.

Pecknold hopes that the progressive writers will arrive at the view that sex is sacred, is "an earthly union which cooperates in the divine act of creating immortal beings" and should be reserved to marriage.

Well that would be really good, but I fear that it is optimistic. It is at least possible that we could see our new Manichaeism develop further. The Manichees saw birth as a bad thing because it introduced evil matter into the world. Our …

Forthcoming Catholic Medical Association Conference

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I am very happy to pass on the details of the forthcoming conference of the Catholic Medical Association on 4 May at Hull University Catholic Chaplaincy. Here is a link to download a pdf of a poster for the Conference.

It is important to note that all are welcome, especially all healthcare workers (including doctors, nurses, social workers, OTs, physios, pharmacists), and students of all healthcare professions who have an interest in a Catholic view of healthcare today.

Here are the details sent to me by the CMA:

It's only one month to go till our Annual  Conference
FOLLOWING JESUS IN HEALTHCARE. 4th May 2019.
The Annual Conference of the Catholic Medical Association will be held at Hull University Catholic Chaplaincy.
Keynote speakers include   David Quinn, Director of the Iona Institute and former editor of the "Irish Catholic". Bringing faith into public lifeSr Andrea Fraile, Sisters of the Gospel of Life. Helping people in a crisis: the work of the Sisters of the Gospel…

Popular posts from this blog

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

Clearing the confusion over the word "temptation"

Calling the modern lectionary into question

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

Three Things that are Wrong about Making Everyone Stand after Holy Communion