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Showing posts from 2019

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…

Introducing traditional elements into the celebration of the modern rite

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Following on from Michael Davies’ challenge which I quoted yesterday, I would like to support the suggestion made by Fr Hunwicke recently. Father gently suggests that we could learn from the manner in which anglo-Catholics gradually improved the liturgy and he advocates “the gradual, tactful, pastoral introduction of EF elements into the OF Mass?”

The first recommendation, the invariable use of the Roman Canon, is already legitimate. The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani n.365.a begins:
The first eucharistic prayer, or Roman Canon, which can always be used…
[Prex eucharistica prima, seu Canon Romanus, qui semper adhiberi potest…] The text goes on to detail when the Roman Canon is “more opportunely brought forth” but that does not contradict the basic statement that it can always be used. A priest who never says any of the other Eucharistic Prayers is not disobeying any rubrics.

Fr Hunwicke then suggests the use of the old offertory prayers and goes on to offer some examples of gest…

A challenge from Michael Davies concerning the Novus Ordo

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The late Michael Davies was a good friend of my father; they taught in primary schools in the same area and shared a passionate love of the faith. They were dismayed when the "new catechetics" threatened to dismantle the teaching of the faith to children by getting rid of angels, original sin, the real presence and, ultimately, the divinity of Jesus Christ. I have fond memories of conversations in our kitchen during the late sixties and early seventies, peppered with Michael's brilliant sense of humour.

Catechetics and Liturgy go together, of course, and Michael wrote extensively on the new rite of Mass that was promulgated 50 years ago this week. Fr Hugh Somerville-Knapman has a good piece in the Catholic Herald: The strange birth of the Novus Ordo which helpfully details some of the more notorious aspects of the formation of the rite of Mass which most Catholics experience as a matter of routine.

I remember a warm day in the depths of Kent some years ago, celebrating …

A noviciate in bell-ringing

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The Sacred Heart Church in Bournemouth is fortunate in having a ring of six bells. The installation was competed for the visit of St John Paul II to England in 1982 and was consecrated in 1983 by Bishop Emery. Above is the plaque erected to commemorate the occasion.

My sister is a member of the lively band of ringers at the Sacred Heart, and somehow I have found myself being instructed as a novice in the complex set of skills and knowledge needed for change ringing. Kim, the Tower Captain is very complimentary about my progress - and indeed I don't seem to have broken anything yet. (One thing that you learn quickly is that there are physical dangers in bell-ringing that are not immediately obvious.)

If you don't believe me about the "complex" bit, just have a quick read of the Change ringing article on Wikipedia. You can find there a list of English bell-ringing terms - it is an activity with its own language, customs and local variations, giving it all the ingredie…

Rose vestments and the special fruits of the Mass

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On Gaudete and Laetare Sundays, Catholic Internet abounds with photos of rose vestments laid out in sacristies and worn at Mass. Indeed I posted the above image myself on Twitter yesterday ;-) Looking at these pictures prompted me to write something about the fruits of the Mass.

Every Mass is offered for, and benefits, all the living and the dead. This is the will of Christ and the Church, quite independent of the priest who offers the Mass. In addition to these "general fruits," we speak of the "special fruits" gained by those people who assist in offering the Mass.* The most obvious way of assisting is by actually being present at the Mass, and participating devoutly, but it is also possible to assist by providing for the celebration by building the Church, by keeping it maintained, or by providing things for the Mass, such as vessels – or indeed vestments.

The special fruits of the Mass are impetratory, propitiatory, and satisfactory.
Impetratory – the Mass is t…

Clearing the confusion over the word "temptation"

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The English word “temptation” can give rise to two areas of confused interpretation. When we speak of the temptations of Jesus, are we saying that He had the same lustful and disordered feelings that we have to fight against? And in the Our Father, do we really need to ask God not to entice us to sin?

The problem is that the English word “temptation” used to have a wider range of meaning. Its normal use nowadays refers solely to the internal experience of being allured to an evil by the perceived pleasure that it might give. We are familiar with the graphic illustration of this in the account of the fall in Genesis; Eve sees that the tree with the forbidden fruit is “good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold.” Being thus tempted, she eats it.

What is unfamiliar to us is that in the 16th century, temptation also had a wider meaning of testing or trial. Nowadays we would not generally be understood if we used the word in this wider sense. If your back pain is a trial,…

Our care and responsibility for Mary

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Quite rightly, we usually think of Our Lady as having care for us, rather than us caring for her. The titles of the Litany of Loreto remind us of many different ways in which she acts as our Mother: she is among other things the refuge of sinners, consoler of the afflicted, and health of the sick.

So how can we talk about our care and responsibility for Mary? Let me first explain where this thought came from. The third saying of Jesus from the Cross is related by St John as follows:
"When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own." (Jn 19:26-27) These verses are part of the gospel for the Mass of Mary the Mother of the Church. St John represents the whole Church, Our Lady is given to him as his mother, and therefore by extension we recognise Our Lady as Mother of the Church. Pope Paul …

Farewell to Margate

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It was sad to have to pack up and leave Margate this week, saying goodbye to such good people who helped with the worship of God, the care of the poor, the formation of children in the faith, and the stuff like unblocking drains and fixing roofs.

My health deteriorated so much by the early part of this year that I was no longer able to discharge the duties and responsibilities of a parish priest, nor was I likely to be able to do so in the foreseeable future. Archbishop Smith kindly accepted my resignation from the office of parish priest and gave his blessing to my convalescing in Bournemouth where I am being looked after by one of my sisters.

Competent medical care and the good cooking of my sister have helped to improve my health considerably over the past couple of months. The community at the Oratory-in-Formation, the Sacred Heart in central Bournemouth, have been most kind to me, first of all by visiting to bring me Holy Communion at home, and then by making it as easy as possi…

Sunday book notices: A courageous German Bishop and a balanced assessment of algorithms

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The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis by Daniel Utrecht
Fr Daniel Utrecht, a priest of the Toronto Oratory, has put together an inspiring account of the great bishop of Münster, Count Clemens August von Galen, who courageously spoke out against National Socialist pagan ideology during the second world war. The Nazis knew that his influence with the people was great, and they planned to execute him after they had won the war. After the war, Von Galen also stood up to the allied authorities, and campaigned for reasonable treatment for the Germans. Fr Utrecht conveys the emotion of the return of the Bishop after having been created Cardinal by Pope Pius XII, and his death just six days later.

Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by Hannah Fry
An expert in applied mathematics, Hannah Fry is well-placed to examine the risks and benefits of the use of algorithms and their increased influence in everyday life. Covering such areas as diagnosis in medici…

In defence of Gianpietro Carafa, Pope Paul IV (in jest)

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My learned friend, Fr Hunwicke, has written a fair-minded post exculpating our Holy Father from the charge of being the worst pope ever. In this I entirely agree; there have indeed been worse popes, especially in the saeculum obscurum. I must confess to twitching a little, however, when he ranks Pope Paul IV alongside the notorious rogues of that era.

The charges against Pope Paul IV are that he had a ferocious character and that he had such malevolent hostility towards the English Catholic Church during the reign of Queen Mary that he made it easier for Elizabeth I reintroduce the so-called reformation to England.

On the first charge, we might offer the nuanced appraisal of a study by a Jesuit (who, as such, has no particular reason to be generous to Paul IV). He says
Paul was seventy-nine years old when elected, learned and incorruptible, undoubtedly and genuinely reform-minded. But he was also a self-willed, stubborn, intolerant, shortsighted, harsh autocrat with a fierce hatred o…

Bishop Schneider's outstanding interview has implications for the transgenderism debate

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Recently, the bishops of Kazakhstan and Central Asia made their visit to Rome ad limina apostolorum. This is a journey which bishops normally make every five years, to visit the tombs of the apostles St Peter and St Paul, and to give a report to the pope on the state of their dioceses. It is an opportunity for the bishops to acknowledge the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope, to receive his counsel, and to manifest their own concerns to him.

LifeSite News has an interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider who participated in the recent ad limina visit. He says that some of the bishops raised concerns such as Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly "remarried", Holy Communion for Protestant spouses, and the issue of the spread of homosexuality in the Church. Bishop Schneider himself asked the Holy Father to clarify the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” which Pope Francis signed jointly with with Ahmad el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Az…

Twitter and Lent: two possible approaches

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In a whimsical moment, I posted the following on Twitter:
I am going to try to tweet a bit more for Lent. — Fr Timothy Finigan (@FatherTF) March 5, 2019 Knowing that such brief statements can be radically misunderstood, I thought it would be worth expanding it a little in a medium that does not have a character limit.

Quite a few good Catholics let others know that they are going to give up Twitter for Lent. My opposite statement of intention, though intended to raise a smile among those who feel guilty at continuing to tweet, was certainly not intended as a criticism of the worthy resolution of abstainers. I am quite sincere in this disclaimer and it forms part of my motivation for posting here.

There can be good reasons for giving up Twitter or other social media for Lent. These means of communication can be addictive, as we are daily reminded in articles every day reporting the latest research. Short of real addiction, it can be easy to spend too much time scrolling down the phone, …

The problems with moving Confirmation to before first Communion

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Every now and again, a Bishop who is concerned for his flock decides to put in place a new policy whereby the sacrament of Confirmation is administered before the reception of first Holy Communion.

Usually, the primary justification for this change is that the sacraments are restored to their proper order - everybody knows, don't they, that in the "early Church", Confirmation was received before the Holy Eucharist. The villain of the story is St Pius X who, though a great chap in other ways, messed the sacraments up by radically lowering the age for Holy Communion.

You may have suspected by now that I don't buy any of these arguments. I don't, and furthermore, I think that the practice of putting Confirmation before first Communion in the context of the present practice of the western Church causes a break with both Eastern and Western tradition without offering any worthwhile advantage.

Tertullian is our earliest witness for the rite of Baptism. As the patrolog…

Sunday book notices: Fr Lanzetta on Fatima, and the "Sword and Serpent" trilogy

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Fatima at the Heart of the Church: God's vision of history and oblative spirituality by Fr Serafino M. Lanzetta
Fr Lanzetta explains that Fatima offers us a theology of history and that "history is not already written to the detriment of the freedom of God and of humanity." On the contrary, he argues,
Fatima tells us that history can change, must change, that history is the result of the freedom of people over which rules God’s Providence, with a look of love imbued with justice and mercy.His book goes on to examine the message of Fatima with particular focus on the offering up of penance in atonement for our sins and for those of the world in accordance with Our Lady's wishes. A sometimes challenging book that rewards perseverance.

Sword and Serpent by Taylor Marshall
The Tenth Region of the Night: Sword and Serpent Book II by Taylor Marshall
Storm of Fire and Blood: Sword and Serpent Book III by Taylor Marshall
I wasn't expecting Sword and Serpent to be as good as …

"Celebration" and the pitfalls of language

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When posting on Twitter about celebrating Mass at the Lady altar at Bournemouth (above) I was taken to task for using the expression "celebrate Mass" instead of a better choice such as "offering the Holy Sacrifice." The expression "celebrate Mass" is very Novus Ordo language apparently.

It is easy to defend oneself against such a criticism. Celebrare was used in the third century throughout his writings by St Cyprian, one of the first ecclesiastical writers to use Latin; the traditional prayer of intention for the priest before Mass begins "Ego volo celebrare Missam ..."

St Thomas Aquinas quotes (ST 3a 83.1 corp) the Secret which is in the traditional Missal for the 9th Sunday after Pentecost:
"quoties huius hostiae commemoratio celebratur, opus nostrae redemptionis exercetur" and indeed there are many uses of celebrare in the prayers of the Roman Missal. A fine example is the collect for the feast of St Simon and St Jude which goes b…

Ads - an apology

A kind reader notified me very politely of an inappropriate ad that had been served up when he was visiting this blog. I am very sorry that this has happened and apologise to any other readers who have been presented with any inappropriate ads. I have now cancelled the service that I was using. I will see if there is a suitable trustworthy Catholic service to use instead.


The "McCarrick Test" and its implications for the papacy

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The intervention of CNN's Delia Gallagher at the Vatican Press Conference last Friday has been circulated widely on social media. There were other good, challenging questions asked during the summit, notably by Sandro Magister, Philip Pullella, Inés San Martín, and Diane Montagna, but Gallagher's seemed to me the most devastating (at 2'10" in the above video). She recalled the meeting of US Cardinals in Rome in 2002 concerning child abuse and pointed out that the reassuring face of the crisis at that time, promising that there would be zero tolerance and an end to cover-up, was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whom we now know to have been an abuser himself, and who has recently been dismissed from the clerical state as a result. Gallagher asked Cardinals Cupich and O'Malley how the Cardinals were now holding each other accountable and how they would assure the American people that what happened then is now going to change.

Referring to this question, Matthew Bunson …

Sunday book notices: on the Carmelite martyrs of Compiegne, and 1215 and All That (and Charles Martel and the Battle of Tours)

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To Quell the Terror: The Mystery of the Vocation of the Sixteen Carmelites of Compiègne Guillotined July 17, 1774 by William Bush
The story of the Carmelites of Compiègne is one which threatens the stiffest upper lip and I was glad to find this well-informed study by William Bush whose research led him to revise his favourable view of the French Revolution. He stresses the unreliability of  the fictional accounts of the martyrs in Gertrud von Le Fort's Song at the Scaffold and Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, aiming to give the reader a historical account of the sacrifice offered by the holy sisters.

The book takes each of the sisters in turn, giving an picture of their life in religion and their progress towards the ultimate oblation which they made with full deliberation. At times, it is difficult to follow the different changes of name for some of the protagonists, but the overall effect is one of terrifying, inevitable progress towards the guillotine, and a t…

Popular posts from this blog

Farewell to Margate

The new Manichees and the conjugal act

Our care and responsibility for Mary

Rose vestments and the special fruits of the Mass

Introducing traditional elements into the celebration of the modern rite