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Showing posts from 2019

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 was not simply a recommendation to prayer, but a response to this received (and outdated) opinion that St Philomena did not exist.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…

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…

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St Irenaeus: not a psychobabble practitioner