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Showing posts from February, 2019

"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…

Thoughts on meditative prayer and insomnia

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It can be distressing to be unable to sleep. I have not been afflicted with this as badly, as regularly or for as long as, many people who have spoken about it to me over the years, but during the past year, thanks to illness, I have had some small experience of seeming to be wide awake for hours or for the whole night.

From that experience, I offer a suggestion which may be of help to some people. It sprang from the practice of trying to say the rosary when unable to sleep. The rosary is possible because we have ten fingers and can remember the words of the prayers and the fifteen mysteries. I found that if I did doze for a bit, I could usually remember which mystery I had reached, and would start that again. On a better night, with more dozing, the rosary could punctuate the time.

When things are worse, though, some other prayers are helpful in addition. I have found the Stations of the Cross, the Seven Words of Christ on the Cross, and the text of the Ordinary of the Mass particul…

The minefield of clerical titles in modern Britain

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Yesterday, the BBC website carried an article headed "Catholic cardinals urge end of 'homosexual agenda'" reporting on the open letter of Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller in advance of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting. (The full text of the excellent open letter can be found at the National Catholic Register "Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller: ‘End the Conspiracy of Silence’".)

The BBC article is typical of the soft, understated and deniable, but unmistakable spin which makes our licence-fee-favoured national broadcaster so irritating. There is also a gaffe in which one paragraph refers to Cardinal Burke as "Mr Burke", leading to this exchange on Twitter this afternoon:
Doubt it’s a deliberate insult. The average @bbc reporter probably has no idea that a cardinal is a Catholic priest. https://t.co/jXDxthVSQF — Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) February 21, 2019I agree with Damian - although the BBC chose to run the article, it is fairly …

Saints Francisco and Jacinta: intercessors for our time

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Today is the feast day of Saints Francisco and Jacinta Marto, children of Fatima. I suggest that we ask their intercession with particular fervour at this time, and in view of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting which begins tomorrow, and the grave scandals which distress the faithful daily.

Our two young saints chose complementary paths in response to the revelations which they received from Our Lady. St Francisco was moved by the appeal that we should not offend Almighty God any more as He is already so much offended. His great desire was to offer consolation to Our Lord by his prayers and voluntary penance. At the request of Our Lady, he said many rosaries, and he spent hours praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

Saint Jacinta was particularly motivated by the vision of hell which was given to the children on 13 June 1917. It left her with an eagerness to offer prayer and penance for the salvation of sinners in accordance with the exhortation of Our Lady:
"pray m…

Learning by heart in cardiac care

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Today I had to go to the GP for an electrocardiogram.  When placing the arm and leg electrodes, the nurse said to herself "Ride Your Green Bike" and explained to me that it was a mnemonic for Red, Yellow, Green, Black, which is the order in which the colour-coded electrodes are placed clockwise (from her point of view), starting with the right arm and finishing with the right leg.

After writing about memorisation yesterday, it was gratifying to find learning by heart of value in the care of my heart.

The value of learning by heart

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The Synod of Bishops in 1977 considered the theme "Catechesis in our Time" and in 1979, St John Paul II issued his Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae which I remember reading as soon as it was available: in those days we had to wait for a printed version but the CTS were always quick off the mark.

A section which struck me then and I think is worth recalling, is paragraph 55 on memorisation (spelt in the official English version with the American Z, of course.) St John Paul recognised the disadvantages that can be associated with learning things by heart, but lamented the suppression of memorisation in catechesis. He says:
"A certain memorization of the words of Jesus, of important Bible passages, of the Ten Commandments, of the formulas of profession of the faith, of the liturgical texts, of the essential prayers, of key doctrinal ideas, etc., far from being opposed to the dignity of young Christians, or constituting an obstacle to personal dialogue with the L…

Thanks for prayers

My health deteriorated steadily during the second half of last year, and with my Archbishop’s blessing (and kindly encouragement) I am currently staying with my sister in Bournemouth while undergoing various tests and procedures. There is much still to be done, but am making some progress thanks to the good medical and other care that I have received. The medical problems are complex and not yet fully diagnosed so I will not attempt to summarise them. I am mainly under the care of the gastro-enterology department, and the GP is also keeping an eye on my cardiac health.

Your prayers are very much appreciated; many thanks indeed. Special thanks to Fr Z and to the Latin Mass Society who publicised requests for prayers.

The good news is that I have to take things easy, so there might be a little time for writing ...

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