Saturday, 29 September 2007

Lancaster to get co-adjutor

Fr Paul Harrison has just posted the news of an announcement from Bishop O'Donoghue of Lancaster Diocese:
"Given the enormous emphasis in the Diocese on mission and planning for the future I thought it important that my successor be in place as early as possible. It was for this reason, and after much advice, I wrote to Pope Benedict asking for a co-adjutor bishop. Much to my delight he accepted the request and the search for successor has already begun."
As Fr Paul hints, this is a thoughtful and pastoral decision. Bishop O'Donoghue reaches the canonical age in 2009. Nowadays it can take a considerable time to find a new diocesan Bishop and a long interregnum can be difficult for a diocese. His provision for his diocese is to be welcomed - we had a similar arrangement in Southwark when Archbishop Bowen offered his resignation "nunc pro tunc" - now, but to come into effect as soon as a successor was appointed.

Elizabeth I and Islam?

There is something of a flutter on the conservative political blogs about a lecture given by Dr Jerry Brotton published on the website of the Campaign for Racial Equality: Why Muslims make Britain a better place.

Brotton argues that the Muslims were responsible for the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Somewhat gauchely, he says "it was Turkish naval manoeuvres, rather than Drake's swashbuckling, which delivered the fatal blow to the Spanish invasion plans." Of course, Tim on Conservative Party Reptile: "Eh?" points out, this should be the "Ottoman Empire" since Turkey was not created for another 350 years.

General conservative reaction to this is that it is wacky political correctness and so indeed it seems if the claim is taken at face value. The Spanish Armada was much larger than the English navy but was outgunned and outclassed in seamanship. Any ships detained to defend Spain against the Ottomans would have made little difference to the outcome.

However, nobody seems to dispute the claim that Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster, sent a letter in the mid-1580s to the ambassador in Istanbul, William Harborne, ordering him to encourage the Turks to harry the Spanish navy. If so, this sheds light on the intrigues in policy of Elizabethan England. Brotton's rosy view that we might all be speaking Spanish ignores the possibility that undermining the alliance against the Ottomans might have ended with us all speaking another language entirely.

Conservative Party Reptile also points out an amusing infelicity in Brotton's wide-ranging assessment of inter-religious dialogue. In a purple passage, he enthuses:
But we do know that of all the countries of Europe, Britain enjoyed the most extensive trade with Muslim lands throughout the first millennium after Christ. Happily, today English schoolchildren are learning that there is more to Genghis Khan than the hordes.
CPR tentatively suggests:
"I'm pretty certain that Ghengis wasn't a Muslim actually - the Mongols had their own religion I believe..."
Right there; Chingis Khan (I think that is more politically correct version) dallied with various forms of shamanism and Buddhism. He was certainly not a Muslim :-)

H/T to Laban on UK Commentators.

New papal MC to be announced?

Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli has the following piece on his blog: Habemus Praefectum cerimoniarum Summi Pontificis.
The nomination of Mgr Guido Marini, of the clergy of Genoa, as head of the Offices of liturgical celebrations of the Pope, replacing Mgr Piero Marini (who will be nominated as head of the Pontifical Commission for Eucharistic Congresses) will be announced at the beginning of the coming week (probably Monday). Guido Marini will take possession of the responsibility after 21 October, that is, after the visit of the Pope to Naples. But he will already be present on that occasion together with his predecessor.
As the former Archbishop of Southwark, Most Rev Michael Bowen, once said in response to a rumour, "For all I know, it may very well be true."

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Don't drink "Miller Lite"

One of the less welcome imports from the USA is the bland lager "Miller Lite" which features in many trendy restaurants and bars. In England there is generally no good reason to drink this stuff anyway, given that you can usually buy some proper ale. Even if you like watery pale yellow lager, you can get much cheaper "Novus Ordo Eurofizz" out of various pumps.

But now there is a special reason to eschew the Miller Lite option. The sponsored last weekend's homosexual "Leather" street fair in San Francisco. At the last minute they got cold feet and asked that their logo be withdrawn from the poster showing Our Lord and his disciples as half naked sado-masochists.

Not enough! I agree with the sentiments of Dad29 who warns that if anyone brings the ghastly brew into his house, the 12-packs will be emptied by a single blast from his .410 shotgun.

Let me hasten to add - for any MI5, Special Branch or anti-terrorsit monitors - that I do not possess any firearms. As we know, in England, firearms are only for criminals.

"Whaddya call this Mass?" runoff poll

Fr Z has had a poll running on the preferred name for the Mass celebrated according to the Liturgical books of 1962 (about which there have been such diverse sensibilities among bishops).

After an initial poll with a number of choices, there is now a shortlist of three:
  • Extraordinary form/use
  • Traditional Latin Mass or TLM
  • Tridentine Mass
Vote for your choice here.

Of those, I'd vote for TLM. But I'm sticking obstinately to "Classical Roman Rite". The word "classical" does not have to refer to the Greek and Roman classics: we speak of "classical music" after all. I'm going with definition 3 of the COD:
"3 a in or following the restrained style of classical antiquity. (cf. ROMANTIC).
b. in or relating to a long-established style."

"Diverse Sensibilities"

Dr Peter Wright has drawn attention in the combox to the masterful phrase of Bishop Giuseppe Bertori, secretary-general of the Italian bishops' conference. Sua Eccelenza denied that some bishops had called for a more restrictive interpretation of "Summorum Pontificum" but allowed that,
ci sono state sensibilità diverse, cioè più attente all’una o all’altra dimensione pastorale dell’applicazione del testo...

there were diverse sensibilities, that is to say, more attentive to one or other pastoral dimension of the application of the text
The English-speaking world is familiar with the classic examples of how politicians have avoided calling each other liars by using saying that there the other party was "economical with the truth" of guilty of a "terminological inexactitude". (Apparently, Churchill's first use of this phrase was quite innocent.)

Henceforth on this blog let us avoid ever saying that prelates have disagreed flatly with each other or the Pope or whoever. Perish the thought! Instead, let us say that there were "diverse sensibilities more attentive to one or other pastoral (or other) dimension."

We could have some fun bringing other diplomatic circumlocutions into use.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Visit to Good Counsel

I spent this morning at Amigo Hall, next to St George's Cathedral, Southwark. As Dean of Bexley, I was attending the meeting of the Archdiocese of Southwark's Council of Priests. There was mention today of the observations regarding the Community of the Divine Innocence by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (Link to these observations and the Archbishop's statement at the Diocesan website.)

Summorum Pontificum was on the agenda but only as an item for a brief announcement from the Archbishop. He welcomed the motu proprio and said that it needed the be implemented with common sense and pastoral sensitivity. Can't see how anyone could disagree with that.

After the meeting, I made my way across London to the Good Counsel Network which offers counselling to women in crisis pregnancies and offers practical solutions to the problems that have led to them seeking an abortion. The work is based very firmly on adoration and prayer. In the chapel in the basement, they had adoration of the Blessed Sacrament all day and I was to conclude this with Benediction. Because of the timing of the Council of Priests meeting, I have to get a supply priest in for my parish weekday Mass so I asked if the Good Counsel would mind me saying Mass in the chapel after Benediction.

They were happy with this and in fact asked me to say a Requiem Mass for one of their benefactors. Extraordinary form opted for by priest an people alike. Quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum. Say a prayer for the Good Counsel Network. They do such wonderful work for mothers and fathers and babies - for this world and for eternity.

SSJC audio files of Mass texts

St John Cantius in Chicago have a fine collection of resources to help priests who wish to learn the older form of the Roman Rite. Their latest offering is to give the texts of the Mass with mp3 audio recordings.

CEI secretary responds to reports

Sandro Magister today has a follow-up to Monday's story about the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI). Here is a quick translation:

Betori restores order in the house. And regarding ambrosian rite ...

At the press conference at the close of the permanent council of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, the general secretary of CEI, Guiseppe Betori, has surprisingly denied that some bishops requested a specific regulation – that is to say more restrictive – for Italy, of the papal motu ProprioSummorum Pontificum” which liberalised mass in the old roman rite (see previous post)

Betori admitted that “there were diverse sensibilities, that is to say, more attentive to one or other pastoral dimension of the application of the text, also to ensure that tensions internal to the community should not be generated”. But he remarked that the conclusions were to support the decision of Benedict XVI as is shown by this passage of the final communiqué:

"Regarding the application of the motu proprioSummorum pontificum”, which came into force on 14 September, concerning the use of the roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970, the bishops have underlined their full and filial adhesion to the dispositions of the Holy Father, valuing his solicitude for the unity of the Church, a value that subsists not only in space but also in time and does not allow of counter positions or ruptures between the various phases of its historical development. Aware of their role as promoters and custodians of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to them, they are committed to follow it with attention and to accompany the application, having also in view the report to the Holy See which the pope himself has asked them to prepare after the provision has been in force for three years."

“If any bishop rejected the application of the motu proprio, the would go outside the policy of the Italian Episcopal Conference”, Betori advised.

The secretary of CEI drew attention also to the case of the diocese of Milan. The motu Proprio, he said, did not apply to the ambrosian rite: “It is a question of the autonomy of the ambrosian rite with respect to the roman rite. The same would go for the other rites: greek-catholic, Chaldean, mozarabic.

And in fact, “Summorum pontificum” speaks only of the “roman” rite. In those few territories of the diocese of Milan which follow the roman rite, the motu Proprio has come into force. For the rest, what was affirmed by Mgr Luigi Manganinin, archpriest of the Duomo and vice-president of the commission for the ambrosian rite remains in force for the time being: “As regards the parishes of the ambrosian rite, which is an autonomous rite with its own head of rite in the person of the Archbishop of Milan, there have not been comparable instances in recent years, and so we do not think it necessary to refer to the motu proprio. At Milan, since 1988, there has already been a church where every Sunday the old [ambrosian] rite has been celebrated at Gentilino. And it will continue.”

It is possible, however, that in the future, Rome will issue a note in this regard to extend also to the ambrosian rite – old and new – the dispositions of the motu proprio.
This exchange between CEI and the journalists is instructive. In Italy, unlike some other countries, public disagreement with the Holy See is absolutely out of court. Whatever the nuances of statements of individual Bishops, the appearances have to be preserved that everyone is united with the Holy See. The rules are very different from, say, England or the USA. Openly to criticise the Holy See or a particular decision, and most especially to attack a papal Motu Proprio would make a brutta figura. The jockeying for position is much more subtle.

Hence the reports of Magister et al would have been highly embarrassing for the individual bishops concerned and it is necessary for the secretary of CEI to stress the internal unity of the conference and admit only of some diverse sensibilities regarding the pastoral dimensions of the application of the decree.

This is good news for us: the only acceptable public position of the Bishops in Italy is a full and filial adhesion to the motu proprio.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

CEI battle lines on SP

From the ever informative Sandro Magister comes a most interesting article on the battle lines drawn up within the Italian Bishops' Conference regarding Summorum Pontificum. Here is my translation of the main part of the article:
Quarrel in the CEI over the Mass. De Marco explains why

From the discussion between the thirty bishops of the permanent council of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), held behind closed doors, the opposition of some to the motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum” of Benedict XVI which has liberalised the old rite of the Mass, has leaked out.

The barrage of the critics dominated the discussion from Monday 17th, immediately after the introduction of the president of CEI, Angelo Bagnasco, until Wednesday 19 September. Notable among the opponents are Carlo Ghidelli, bishop of Lanciano-Ortona; Bruno Forte, archbishop of Chieti-Vasto; Benvenuto Italo Castellani, archbishop of Lucca; Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo; and Felice Di Molfetta, bishop of Cerignola and president of the Episcopal Liturgy Commission. Already, before the publication of the motu proprio, Molfetta had approved the letter sent to the Pope by a group of Italian liturgists to ask him not to proceed with the liberalisation of the old rite.

In the judgement of these opponents, the ecclesiology contained in the old missal is “incompatible” with that set out by the second Vatican Council. Because of this, they proposed that CEI should prepare a document interpreting the papal motu proprio in a restrictive sense.

But the proposal was not approved. Other bishops from the Directorate of CEI declared in defence of the decision of Benedict XVI, in particular Camillo Ruini, Angelo Scola and Carlo Caffarra.
Original article (Italian): Baruffa in CEI sulla messa. De Marco spiega perché

Magister goes on to refer to an article by Pietro de Marco looking at various underlying questions. ("La ricchezza tradizionale intera del culto cristiano è, per Benedetto, il canone cui attingere..."). It is a very good article but I am afraid I haven't time to translate it now. If someone else does, please let me know and I'll post a link.

Dominican simple professions

Brother Robert Verrill OP and Brother Daniel Mary Jeffries OP made their simple profession at Cambridge on Saturday. Congratulations to them and to the English Dominicans.

For a report with more pictures, see Godzdogz: Simple Profession 2007

16 year old on traditional liturgy and youth masses

Roman Catholic by Choice has a transcript of a letter by 16 year old Ethan Milukas of Peachtree City, Georgia, USA, in the Georgia Bulletin. He is replying to a previous correspondent who said that younger people would not be attracted to the Latin Mass. The letter is an intelligent and succinct analysis of the attempt to draw young people to the Church by trying to make the liturgy more relevant. He pertinently draws attention to this as a lack of faith in the power of the liturgy itself to change people's lives.

Full text at Roman Catholic by Choice: 16-yr-old writes about the TLM

Monday, 24 September 2007

Richard Rex in the Times

There was a very good letter by Richard Rex in the Sunday Times yesterday in response to an article by Simon Jenkins. A quotation:
Of course, the English came, in time, to be profoundly Protestant, and the emotional and political bedrock of their Protestantism was, until the 19th century, a profound hatred of Catholicism, nurtured on endless invocations of Mary Tudor’s cruelty. Curiously enough, Elizabeth I once had more Englishmen hanged in a month than Mary had burnt in her entire reign – but perhaps she had better PR consultants.

NAC to offer training for usus antiquior

Fr Z is back in England today after a few days in Rome. He has a most interesting piece of news from his short stay: the Pontifical North American College will be training seminarians to celebrate Mass according to the missal of 1962.

The NAC benefited hugely from the rectorship of Mgr Tim Dolan whose book "Priests for the Third Millennium" is an excellent series of reflections for seminarians. As Fr Z comments, this new initiative will help rebuild the Church's identity by ensuring continuity with the Church's past and traditions.

To use an appropriate expression, the NAC is really blazing a trail here!

Credo - new pocket catechism

Frs Andrew Pinsent and Marcus Holden, authors of Evangelium, have written a new pocket catechism called "Credo: The Catholic Faith Explained", published by the CTS. It is cross-referenced to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium. A6 sized booklet with 112 pages, it sells at £2.95

Dawn Eden at Farm Street

Dawn Eden will be giving a lecture at the parish hall of Farm Street Church (Mount Street, London W1) on Monday 8 october from 7-9pm on the theme "Cutting to the chaste - finding fulfilment while keeping your clothes on."

Henry Benedict Stuart requiem photos

Here is a link to a shedload of great photos of the Pontifical Requiem Mass that took place last Saturday.

BBC hybrid embryo poll

The BBC website currently has a piece on hybrid embryos with a poll. The question is
"Should hybrid embryos be used for research?"
which, of course misses the point of whether they should be created in the first place. Nevertheless, worth a few moments to cast your "No" vote. Currently 48.25% yes, 44.57% no and 7.17% don't know. 18232 votes cast so, if my maths are correct, if 700 readers vote "no", we will tip the balance...

Vote here.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Requiem for Cardinal Duke of York

Today was the occasion for the Requiem Mass on the bicentenary of the death of the Cardinal Duke of York - otherwise
Henry Benedict Stuart
Prince and Duke of York
Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Velletri
Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati
Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church
Head of the Royal House of Stuart

also grandson of James II and brother of 'Bonnie Prince Charlie'.

A Solemn Requiem was celebrated this afternoon by Bishop Bernard Longley at the Conventual Church of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, at the hospital of St John and St Elizabeth.

Details of the Mass are at Roman Christendom: Bicentenary Pontifical Requiem for the Cardinal Duke of York.

The Mass was organised on behalf of the Royal Stuart Society. Fr Nicholas Schofield is the honorary chaplain of this society and was subdeacon for the Mass. He has a report and photos at his blog. (Roman Miscellany: Requiem for the Cardinal Duke of York)

Congratulations Sr Andrea

Sr Andrea Fraile of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life has just been awarded her BA (Divinity) from the Maryvale Institute with first class honours. Warmest congratulations. The sisters run the Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative which is worthy of your spiritual and material support.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Bishop Budd on Summorum Pontificum

Fr Z has text and comments on the statement issued by Bishop Christopher Budd of the Plymouth Diocese.

I agree with Fr Z's comments and would add that Bishop Budd is a fair-minded man. I liked the last part of his statement:
May I urge you to celebrate the present liturgy (the ordinary rite) of all the sacraments of the Church ‘attente et devote’. The quality of the parish celebration of the renewed liturgy is an important context for the permitted use of the rite now designated `Extraordinary’.
The use of the older form of the rite should help and encourage priests in the proper celebration of the newer form. In fact, as Dr Hemming pointed out at the Merton Conference, the older form provides a necessary anchor for the newer form.

A fitting vestment

Fr Thomas Regan OSB of Our Ladye & St.Michael's, Abergavenny, sent me the above picture of the Missa Cantata there last Friday. Fr Regan came with three other priests from that part of Wales to the LMS conference at Oxford.

The vestment worn for the Mass was from the parish's medieval collection. It was donated by Henry VII, having been embroidered in 1498 by Robynett his court embroiderer. It was already 150 years old when worn by the Abergavenny martyrs St David Lewis (parish priest there for 31 years) and St Philip Evans (curate for 5 years) until his martyrdom in 1679.

The above photo was sent in high resolution so I have cut and enhanced as best I can the section showing the vestment:

Inwood article spiked

It seems that Paul Inwood's article on Summorum Pontificum has been spiked and will not now be published in the Diocesan Newspaper. Thanks to commenters for confirming this.

Fr Z has had a letter too and includes it in the post: Bp. of Portsmouth deep sixes Q&A piece. The correspondent says that Bishop Hollis
... was genuinely unaware of the contents of the Q&A until the whole thing blew up in his face.

When I first saw this rumour yesterday, I emailed the Portsmouth Diocesan Press Officer asking for clarification. I'll pass on any response I receive.

I'll also pass on Fr Z's recommendation: if you wrote to Bishop Hollis complaining about this, it is a good idea to write again to thank him.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Changing the liturgical mindset

Looking again at Paul Inwood's article on Summorum Pontificum (text at Angelqueen forum - fisk at WDTPRS), it strikes me that there are one or two themes that might become part of a more general response to Summorum Pontificum in England and Wales and therefore worth looking at.

The misreading of "continenter" needs to be kicked firmly into touch. The Holy Father speaks of young people who have discovered this liturgical form and felt its attraction etc. He also says that the norms are
"meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations"
It cannot be in accord with the mind of the legislator to say that people cannot now ask for the older form of the Mass if they have not asked for it before. That is not what "continenter" means in the context. It is not a strengthening of "stabiliter" which has a precise canonical meaning, but a weakening of it, probably to prevent a restrictive interpretation. A group that exists "continenter" is a group that has not just been gathered together "ad hoc" for a particular occasion.

The questions that are asked can reveal the mindset from which they come. To ask
1. Why has the Pope seemingly taken a step backwards in allowing the former Tridentine rite of Mass alongside the one we have now?
3. What form of Mass is allowed by the Motu Proprio?
give the impression that this is another indult, a permission of something generally forbidden. That was how most post-conciliar liturgists always used to think: this is the mindset that now needs to change. Article 1 of Summorum Pontificum sets out the fundamental principle of the document. It is a principle denied by establishment liturgists for decades and now quite clearly affirmed by Pope Benedict: it is permissible to use the 1962 missal because it was never abrogated.

Hence no priest needs any permission to celebrate this form of the Mass privately. It is not a question of when this form of Mass might be allowed but when, for particular reasons, it is not allowed. In a normal parish, it is not allowed to change all the Masses to the older form: it is specified that on days of precept, one may be said. (Presumably the Ordinary could dispense from this restriction for any reasonable cause.)

Apart from this, there may be any number of circumstances in which the priest may use his pastoral judgement in choosing to use the older forms of the rites. The Motu Proprio says (5.3) that the extraordinary form should be allowed by the Pastor for faithful or priests who request it, "such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages." Note the "e.g."

It is worth learning the following part of Pope Benedict's accompanying letter by heart to quote when talking to liturgists who argue according to the mindset of an era that has now been drawn to a close by Summorum Pontificum:
In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.
By way of a footnote here, may I gently suggest, biretta on head, that it is best to stick to the issues rather than making personal comments about an individual. As Mr Meagi would say, "Focus!"

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Portsmouth response to Summorum Pontificum

Last night, at the Latin Mass Society Reception at the Travellers Club, one piece of news buzzing round was the article by Paul Inwood on Summorum Pontificum that has been circulating in various online forums and email lists. It is alleged that the article is to be published in the Portsmouth Diocesan Newspaper.

Fr Z has written on many statements from US dioceses, adding comments and emphasis, taking issue here, congratulating there. Introducing his fisk of Inwood's article, he describes it as "one of the worst things I have seen to date on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum".

See WDTPRS: Statement from D. of Portsmouth on the Motu Proprio

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

News from Lourdes

The Lourdes Magazine arrived the other day. As ever, there are a number of interesting pieces of information as well as the good articles and most useful up-to-date map of Lourdes with details of all the hotels. (Lourdes is the second largest town in France if measured by hotel capacity.)

The editorial notes the Holy Father's letter to the Chinese Catholics and announces that the Message of Lourdes has been translated into Chinese by NDL Editions.

The magazine has a short article referring to the visit of the Holy Father next year. This concludes:
"As we go to press the date of the visit has not yet been announced. It will not doubt coincide with an important Marian Feast..."
The article is illustrated with a picture of Pope Benedict at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican gardens, noting that the Pope makes a pilgrimage there every year on 31 May for the Feast of the Visitation. This rather hints that the hoteliers might have been right last year in speculating that the date would be 31 May 2008. But we shall have to see.

Fr Martin Moran OMI makes an appeal for English-speaking priests to volunteer some time as confessors at Lourdes during the anniversary year. He can be contacted at

There is a photo competition, ending 31 October for the most beautiful photographs of Lourdes, to be published in a souvenir album. I might enter that.

I have mentioned before that I am very impressed by the Shrine Authorities at Lourdes and Bishop Jacques Perrier. They have done a lot to increase reverence and genuine spiritual participation at the shrine. I do not like some aspects of Lourdes such as the horrible architecture of the hemicycle but it is a shrine where you can pray at all times of day, go to confession and attend Mass celebrated reverently.

It would be fair to say that some of the English pilgrimages need to "catch up" a little here with the newer spirit of the shrine. Pope Benedict's visit will, I am sure, be highly significant for the development of the spiritual activities there.

Here is a link to the official site for Lourdes.

CIEL in Rome

The CIEL Conference this year is to be held in Rome from 14-17 November. For full details, see Un voyage inoubliable au coeur de la liturgie romaine.

Li'l Jack

Say hello to my new great-nephew, Jack, born on 10 September. Here he is on his birthday:

And here he is with his big sister, Lucy:

Photo credit: Dad (James Godden)

UPDATE: I have just received a link to Jack's dad's site: James Godden Photography. He does weddings, portraits, editorial and architectural photography and is available for commission. (Based in the south of England but will consider further afield.)

Monday, 17 September 2007

Reading the signs of the times

Il Foglio recently interviewed Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the congregation for Divine Worship, on Summorum Pontificum. A reader of New Liturgical Movement has kindly translated the article.

The Archbishop's comments are relevant to some of the statements from curial offices that have been fisked by Fr Zuhlsdorf:
"I am certain that above all the bishops, who at the moment of assuming their episcopal ministry have professed their complete loyalty and obedience to the Supreme Pontiff, will accept this decision with sentiments of generous collaboration and will safeguard the faithful implementation of the instructions of the Motu Proprio in the manner in which it is assigned to them, respecting the specific identities of the two manners of celebrating.

"I see that generally, the Motu Proprio has been well received. In any case, to speak of this as a move against the II Vatican Council would not only be a complete misapprehension, but also an attempt to create divisions in the Church. I don't see any reason for such alarmism."
I particularly liked his reference to a key motif of Gaudium et Spes and indeed of Vatican II generally in response to the enthusiasm of many young priests not only for for more traditional liturgy but also for the traditional external signs of their vocation:
"It's an interesting phenomenon, this demand by the young priests. To me it is a sign of the times and the II Vatican Council advised us to always be attentive to these signs. I see a strong thirst among them to be true to the demands of their vocation. The youth of today who decide to become priests make a choice which entails perhaps more sacrifices than those of yesterday. When we entered seminary, for instance, the atmosphere was more religious than today. I see that in some cases, this search leads them to choose a more traditional sense of the liturgy, to wear the cassock or some priestly or religious insignia, and to be ready to make other choices indicative of their vocation.

"This should not signify a condemnation of others who maybe have thought not to insist so much on these external apsects of their identity. But the times change. The youth want more coherence. The enthusiasm of the youth is always encouraged, not disregarded."
H/T NLM: Interview with Archbishop Ranjith

Liturgy - "looking to God"

Sandro Magister, as ever, has a most helpful analysis of the Holy Father's recent trip to Austria. From Vienna, a Lesson on How to Sing the Mass. He examines the Holy Father's response to the celebrity musical entertainment (go to the chapel and pray) and the arrangements for Mass in Vienna on Sunday 9 September.

Haydn's Mariazeller Messe was chosen. Magister points out that the last time a polyphonic setting was used for the papal Mass was in 1985 (Mozart's Krönungsmesse); The one before that was 1963 (Palestrina).

In the afternoon, the Holy Father spoke to the Cistercian community of Heiligenkreutz:
"In the beauty of the liturgy, [...] wherever we join in singing, praising, exalting and worshipping God, a little bit of heaven will become present on earth. Truly it would not be presumptuous to say that, in a liturgy completely centred on God, we can see, in its rituals and chant, an image of eternity. [...] In all our efforts on behalf of the liturgy, the determining factor must always be our looking to God. We stand before God – he speaks to us and we speak to him. Whenever in our thinking we are only concerned about making the liturgy attractive, interesting and beautiful, the battle is already lost. Either it is Opus Dei, with God as its specific subject, or it is not. In the light of this, I ask you to celebrate the sacred liturgy with your gaze fixed on God within the communion of saints, the living Church of every time and place, so that it will truly be an expression of the sublime beauty of the God who has called men and women to be his friends."
It is not, I think, far-fetched to see an allusion to Fr Lang's book "Turning Towards the Lord" - after all, the Holy Father did write the foreword to it.

With a typical Italian journalistic flourish, Magister informs us at the tail end of the article:
In the Vatican, the liturgical event of Vienna will soon be followed by the replacement of the master of the pontifical liturgical celebrations. Taking the place of Piero Marini – who will go to preside over the pontifical committee for international Eucharistic congresses – will be the current master of ceremonies for the archdiocese of Genoa, Guido Marini. He's close to his predecessor in name, but to pope Ratzinger in substance.
Reports have it that the Austrians wanted the Holy Father to wear some fine Roman vestments for his Mass at Mariazell. The yellow and blue bedspreads were insisted on by Archbishop Marini. Perhaps that is how he wishes to be remembered.

LMS Ordo online

Thanks to the Latin Mass Society, there is now, online, a copy of the Ordo for England and Wales (281Kb pdf) according to the liturgical books of 1962. This is the list, by date, of the feast day, vestment colour, whether you say the Gloria and/or Credo etc. Very useful to have a spare copy in the sacristy.

Baronius Press

I'm happy to give a plug for the excellent Baronius Press who have a very good edition of the Little Office of Our Lady. They also have a new edition of the Daily Roman Missal which includes the text of Summorum Pontificum ready for delivery in October. I have found books published by Baronius Press to produced to very high standards - traditional books with traditional binding.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Reporting in

Fr Z left this afternoon for a couple of days in Lewes after lunch with Fr Charles Briggs at the Chislehurst golf club and a tour of the Church and graveyard. We said a prayer at the grave of the late Michael Davies RIP.

I have to go round to Wonersh after the evening Mass so there is only time for a quick post now. Fr Z's blog reports on some interesting developments over the weekend. On the home front, Fr Nicholas Schofield (Roman Miscellany: Bloggers) and Mac McLernon (Mulier Fortis: Bloggers at Blackfen) have posted the photo of the group of bloggers who were at Friday's High Mass.

See the website for all the photos of the Masses here and at the London Oratory.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

CDF statement on ANH

Good to have a fellow blogger at home. Fr Z yesterday handed me a print off of the statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "Responses to certain questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops concerning artificial nutrition and hydration."

Fr Z has the text in Latin and English in parallel columns. The key texts:
The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.
A patient in a "permanent vegetative state" is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.

High Masses galore

Sorry to have been silent for a couple of days. Fr Z came across a post called "Bloggers in Blackfen" which, he said, sounded like a murder mystery. Well, I have not been murdered even a little bit.

Fr Z has been staying with me for a couple of days. He preached an excellent sermon at the High Mass in Blackfen yesterday. (You can read a copy of the sermon on his blog: Sermon for 14 September at Blackfen. There are photos over at (Direct link to the Blackfen High Mass page). The above is just one example from over 100 photos.

After toasting the Holy Father in some very good company, we made our way across London in the rush hour to attend in choir at the High Mass at the London Oratory. There are photos of that too at

Fr Z has some gizmo that enables him to connect to his DVD recorder at the Sabine Farm and order it to record the High Mass on EWTN so we also got to view some of that too.

Normal posting will be resumed as soon as possible! In what might be considered a peculiarly unfortunate technical disaster, the internet connection here at Blackfen has not played along very well over the past couple of days and only one of us can connect to the internet at any given time. We are still friends, though!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

If... but not "only if"

Reflecting on the various responses to Summorum Pontificum gathered by Fr John Zuhlsdorf, it occurs to me that there is one misreading that might become popular and is worth negating. This is the misreading that sees Summorum Pontificum as imposing conditions of the kind "if and only if". So it might be said that the priest can say the Mass in the parish if and only if a group which exists more than temporararily (coetus ... continenter exsistit - not "a stable group") asks for it.

It seems to me that this misreads an essentially permissive enactment. The first principle of Summorum Pontificum is that the older form of the Roman Rite was never abrogated and was therefore, in principle, always legitimate. As Article 1 states:
"It is, therefore, permissible to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass following the typical edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by Bl. John XXIII in 1962 and never abrogated, as an extraordinary form of the Liturgy of the Church."
The previous conditions under which this form of the rite could be used are then substituted with conditions that give greater freedom to priests and laity.

There are a couple of restrictive conditions: the priest must be idoneus; only one such Mass is allowed in an ordinary parish on days of precept. There is no stipulation that the priest must wait for a group to ask him - the point is that if a group should ask, the pastor must "willingly accept their requests" and if he won't, they may have recourse to the Ordinary.

Summorum Pontificum is not saying "You may celebrate the older form of the Mass if and only if these conditions apply" but rather "you ought to celebrate the older form of the Mass if these conditions apply". Since the general principle is that the older form is legitimate, not harmful or forbidden, should be preserved as part of the riches of the Church and remains noble and great for us too, there may be many other circumstances in which it is pastorally desirable, in the judgement of the pastor, to celebrate this form of the Mass.

And, of course, the norms do apply principally to pastors. As the Holy Father says in his accompanying letter:
"The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations."

Good food, good company

Food for reflection and prayer, that is. Opus Dei hold a Day of Recollection for secular priests once a month at Wickenden Manor. Another early Mass today at 7am (which also gives working people a chance to get to weekday Mass) a short drive over to Chislehurst to pick up Fr Briggs and an hour or so to get to the heart of the Sussex countryside in time for the first conference.

The priests of Opus Dei are always sure to give some excellent and challenging advice to us. One particular point that stayed with me today was Fr Calduch's stress on the importance of a suitable rule of life. I do try to observe this but it is easy to allow unnecessary activities to intervene and waste time.

There is always good company on these days. Today there was an unusually large gathering because a group of priests of the Society of the Holy Cross were in the middle of a week's conference. We were together for lunch and for the Holy Hour in the afternoon.

Oh and the food was good too. Wholesome but not extravagant.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Bedspreads and chasubles

The teaching term started yesterday at Wonersh. The domestic staff had made up my bed during the summer vacation with a bright and cheerful duvet cover:

It seems that this kind of fabric is not only popular as an inexpensive bed covering. With a cut here and a hem there, it can be made up into chasubles for a Papal Mass...

(Photo credit: Gerald Augustinus)

Usual BBC stuff on Mariazell

We are quite used to this sort of stuff but it is good to have support from fellow Catholics from elsewhere in the world who become aware of BBC bias in reporting on Catholic events. Here is an extract from a report by an eyewitness:
BBC said there weren't throngs along the streets. Of course there hadn't been any plans or possibilities for such throngs and the streets were blocked by police, even the highway was lined by police. Every venue had a set number of tickets to give out, and all the venues were packed, despite the truly horrible weather. One could barely pass through the masses. BBC also wrote that only a few came to Mariazell on their own and somewhat snidely remarked that Church buses had brought in people. Yeah BECAUSE IT WAS CLOSED TO PRIVATE TRAFFIC ! One could only get in by train or bus. So yeah, the BBC is full of crap - and you can add all kinds of other news outlets. Either they don't do their homework or they are deliberately lying. People stood in rain, cold and wind for hours, the venues were all jam packed.
See The Cafeteria is Closed: Liars

Monday, 10 September 2007

Malta Day celebrations

Fiorella has sent me some photos of the Malta Day celebrations last Saturday. They were celebrating Our Lady of Victories, and the ending of the Great Siege and the wartime Siege of Malta. Here is the statue of Our Lady which was carried in procession.

In such celebrations, it is important to have a good band:

and fireworks - even in daylight:

During the day, there was a presentation of Fiorella's latest novel "Fr William's Daughter" by His Excellency Michael Refalo the High Commissioner.

Getting to Blackfen

I know that many people are going to try to make the journey out to the suburbs for Friday's High Mass. Blackfen is not the easiest place to get to but there are directions on my parish website.

No black cabs out here (the cabbies live here but don't work here!) There is a minicab office at Sidcup Station. Alternatively, one firm I have often used is Avanti Cabs: 020 8850 1100.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Pontifical High Mass in Sydney

Cardinal George Pell will celebrate a Solemn Pontifical Mass in the older form of the Roman Rite at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney at 10am on Saturday 3 November. This will be the first time that a Cardinal has celebrated the old Latin Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in over 40 years. You lucky Australians!

Fr Lang and Martin Mosebach in the States

On Friday evening, Fr Michael Lang and Martin Mosebach were speaking at an event in New Haven, Connecticut, hosted by the St Gregory Society and the Society of St Hugh of Cluny. The event was repeated in New Canaan last night and will be on in Park Avenue, Manhattan tonight.

Stephen, an undergraduate of Yale University attended Friday night's event and has posted about it (with photos) on his blog For God, For Country and For Yale.

Liturgy Discussion: Father Lang
Liturgy Discussion: Martin Mosebach
Liturgy Discussion: Q and A

Further thoughts on television

As ever, posting on the advisability or otherwise of having a television at home generated quite a discussion. (See the comboxes of Another MSM-free family and Chuck the Telly.

I thought it might be worth adding some further thoughts to clarify. I don't think that every family that has a television is necessarily doing harm to their children. Many such as Jackie Parkes, or Francis (cf. combox) use the TV responsibly and with vigilance. But I do want to assert that it is perfectly all right for a family to choose not to have a TV. This is called into question by those who want to say that the television is an essential part of our culture and that a family, or an individual, is missing something important by not having the TV at home.

Nor am I saying that the electronic item itself is an evil. It is possible to view EWTN or good films without falling into the trap of channel-hopping and leaving the set on all the time. However, there are other ways of obtaining such content: via the internet or, in the case of films, by using a projector. A fairly cheap projector is quite suitable for an average living room.

My principal concern is that many families are subjected to a form of cultural bullying. If they make the perfectly reasonable choice to do without a television, they are sometimes cast as misfits or social pariahs. It sometimes disturbs me how many conversations (even among clergy) focus around "that programme last night".

In Britain, we have the particular problem of the licence fee. BBC Resistance quotes M. W. D. Kimball of TV Licensing Customer Services on the conditions under which you need a licence:
"A television licence is legal permission to install and use television equipment to receive or record television broadcast signals. Under the Broadcasting Act 1990, you need a television licence to receive or record television programmes. This applies if you use equipment to receive or record BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, satellite, or cable programs. If you are watching 'Sky', or any other satellite service, controlled from within the UK, you must have a television licence."
Note that if you watch a satellite service that is not controlled from within the UK (such as EWTN) you do not need a licence.

Although it is a legal requirement to have a licence to watch, for example, SKY, the revenue from the Licence Fee goes to fund the BBC. Many of us object strongly to having to fund the BBC in this way and this adds a further incentive to get rid of the TV or at least to arrange things in such a way as not to be legally required to pay the Licence Fee.

"Satan's black box?" Some people find this kind of description extremist. I would say that it is legitimate hyperbole. Satan certainly has benefited from the corruption of children through unsupervised television watching, and the (now documented) bias against the Catholic Church and the pro-life movement.

Is the internet just as bad? It can be worse, of course: many boys and men have become addicted to pornography because of its easy availability on the internet and there are many other problems besides. Some religious orders make a point of not using the internet and I respect that. It can be helpful but I would not say that it is essential. At the moment, we are able to use it to circumvent the bias of the mainstream media and to promote Catholic teaching.

The difference, I think, is that the internet is basically pull technology. You decide, you choose. TV has become much more like that with the proliferation of channels but it is very limited by comparison and the barrier to entry for producers is much higher. So for the moment, I'm happy to use the internet but not watch TV. It is not part of my intention to say that everyone should do that, just to encourage those who are standing at the water's edge wondering whether to plunge into a TV-free life. It really won't hurt!

(BTW - I found that graphic of the broken TV over at The Daily Yada: TV-Free August. The (homeschooling) family agreed to do without TV for a month. The children pointed out that Mum did not watch it anyway so it would not be a sacrifice for her. She had to give up sugar!)

Saturday, 8 September 2007

KSC Seminar and Gillian Craig

The Knights of St Columba invited me to speak today on the question of secularisation in Britain today. I focussed particularly on the effects of discrimination legislation but also examined briefly how the "conflicting rights" question can be applied to other pro-life matters. (Sorry that I can't publish the lecture as yet - it still needs some tidying up.)

The other speaker was Dr Gillian Craig, a retired Geriatrician who has written extensively on the question of hydration and palliative sedation of the elderly. I found her lecture most informative. It was a worrying confirmation of many concerns that have arisen in the debate over the Mental Capacity Act.

Britain has a problem with its ageing population and decreasing provision for the elderly. The closure of long stay wards in hospitals means that there is a need to reduce the numbers of elderly being admitted to hospital and a need to discharge patients wherever possible. Managerial pressure to increase the bed occupancy rate has led to an institutional prejudice against the elderly who can be seen as "bed blockers".

The current approach is to discourage admission to hospital for the dying and encourage palliative care in the community. A significant problem is that many elderly people become dehydrated for various medical reasons and need careful nutrition and hydration. Dr Craig spent many years trying to persuade colleagues that hydration is a basic need for patients. Sadly, as we know, artificial hydration has now been redefined as treatment. This began with the case of Tony Bland and has since been extended from long-term PVS patients to being a routine definition with the Mental Capacity Act.

Although it used to be accepted that a blanket policy to withdraw hydration was unethical, this has now changed with the publication of "Changing Gear - Managing the last days of life in adults" and the NHS Integrated Care Pathway which is much less positive on the question of artificial hydration: often seen as inappropriate intervention even when there is no medical reason to suppose that hydration would be other than a good. The new policy does not recognise that subcutaneous hydration can be given in the community. Craig emphasised that it is necessary for nurses and GPs to learn how to administer subcutaneous hydration. This procedure is nowadays often omitted because it "prolongs dying". As Dr Craig pointed out, this is a sinister alternative to the more obvious point that it prolongs life.

One interesting point was that patients in care homes can now be asked as part of the programme of targeting care to fill up a "preferred place of care document" ("where would you like to die?" in other words.) Most people will, of course say that this would be at home rather than in hospital. However, this is a double-edged sword because your expressed wishes could be used to prevent you from becoming a "bed-blocker" and receiving reasonable treatment that might otherwise prolong your life.

Another development is that "hospice style" care is delivered in the community. This can include routine sedation, and the anticipatory prescription of drugs such as diamorphine and haloperidol in advance in order to manage the process of dying. This procedure of "anticipatory prescribing" was the focus of a police investigation several years ago at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital. (See this notice from Alexander Harris solicitors.)

Palliative sedation is, of course, appropriate in some cases if the patient has intolerable symptoms and is at the point of death and the intention is to relieve the symptoms. This is very different from the anticipatory prescription of diamorphine in order to hasten a "good death". It is right that the police should be called in such a case but if such measures are adopted routinely in care homes for the elderly, it is unlikely that any but well-informed relatives will have any redress.

If you are in the UK and are elderly or have an elderly relative, you would be well advised to be join SPUC's Patients First Network.

Commemoration of Abbe Edgeworth

A commenter passes on this interesting snippet from the Latin Mass Society of Ireland.

Bishop O'Reilly of Ardagh & Clonmacnois will the Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) on Sunday, 23 September 2007 at St Mary's Church, Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford as part of a commemoration of the Bicentenary of the death of Monsignor Henry Essex Edgeworth de Firmont.

Bishop O'Reilly of Ardagh & Clonmacnois to offer Latin Mass at Monsignor Edgeworth commemoration

Although born in Co. Longford, Mgr Edgeworth was the confessor of Louis XVI and Vicar General of Paris at the height of the French Revolution. There is an article summarising his extraordinarily eventful life in the Catholic Encyclopaedia: Henry Essex Edgeworth.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Wake up and smell the incense!

Mgr Joseph F Schaedel, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis has replied to a recent article on the CNS concerning Summorum Pontificum. His letter is excellent and can be read at Fr Z's blog: Monsignor stands up to the bullies: Wake up and smell the incense.

The last expression was the punch line with which he ended his letter. Fr Z now has a competition to design a graphic to illustrate that phrase: GRAPHICS: Wake Up And Smell The Incense!. There is a nice subhead, "Usus antiquior: Back to the people." The post is well worth a look. Here is my favourite graphic among those posted so far:

"Future telling" and fear of the future

An Irish reader has drawn my attention to an excellent sermon by Archbishop Seán Brady, given recently at Knock as part of the 2007 National Novena. Brady is Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. In his sermon, he made the following points:
  • Those who confidently tell us that the Catholic Church in Ireland is an anachronism, a superstition of bygone days which has been rejected by intelligent Irish people, have greatly over stated their case. God is still active in people’s hearts.
  • The land of saints and scholars has become better known as the land of stocks and shares, of financial success and security. Tragically it has also become a land of increasing stress and substance abuse.
  • People are seeking to control their future rather than entrust their future to God’s promise and plan. The result is an increasing culture of insecurity and fear.
  • Underlying this trend of ‘future telling’, is a fear of the future … It is evidence of the failure of a life without God to address the deepest needs of the human spirit.
  • The challenge is to keep our lives focused on Christ amidst the distractions of increasing prosperity … in an increasingly secular, sometimes hostile culture.
  • The big questions of people’s lives still remain: Why am I here? What will bring me happiness? What will happen to me when I die? For all its human imperfections, it is the Church which still holds the answer to these questions
The Irish Catholic Communications Office makes available the full text of the sermon.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

"The Bread of Life" book launch

Yesterday evening, "The Bread of Life", a new book for first Holy Communion by Fr Martin Edwards (pictured above with Fr Andrew Wadsworth) was launched at the St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory.

The book as introduced by Fr Ignatius Harrison, the Provost of the Oratory.

Fr Martin Edwards then spoke about the book, emphasising the doctrinal content of the book as well as the pedagogical features which are designed to help teachers convey Catholic teaching to young children.

"The Bread of Life" is published by Gracewing and can be ordered from their website ("new titles").

The photographs which illustrate the book feature Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe of the London Oratory, at the (eastward-facing) altar of Fr Edwards' Church of St Mary Magdalen in Wandsworth. As Fr Edwards said, the book is "MP-ready" and the photographs will be suitable for parishes that use the older or newer form of the Roman rite (or both). Fr Ronald was also present to say a few words to commend the book:

The book includes a number of fine plates with artwork by David Clayton who gave a most interesting explanation for the choice of style which he had adopted in the pictures.

The originals were on display at the bookstall.

Bishop Bernard Longley kindly took time to attend the launch, and to meet and speak with others present who included a number of people from Aid to the Church in Need.

Something Fishy!

This letter was sent to the Tablet but not published. (I'm always happy to publish good letters that somehow do not get to be published in that forum.)
Something Fishy!

It was most interesting to read Michael Northcott's exhortation that "Pro-life should mean saying no to pollutants." (Clouds of Witness 1/9/07)

He argues that ecological issues have been neglected by recent papal teaching on the basis that 'John Paul II believed the greatest moral challenge was...threats to pre-natal human life and efforts to restrain population growth.' But I find this does not stand up to scrutiny when scientific evidence [which many environmentalists choose to ignore] points precisely to the threat to the environment by the chemical pollutants caused by the synthetic hormones in contraceptive pills and devices.

One recalls the shocking evidence of the scientists from the University of Denver Colorado in 2005 and which again was highlighted in July this year;who studied mutant "intersex" fish in Boulder Creek and concluded the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city's sewage system. Since their findings, stories have been emerging everywhere in the US. Scientists in western Washington found that synthetic estrogen - a common ingredient in oral contraceptives - drastically reduces the fertility of male rainbow trout. Doug Myers, wetlands and habitat specialist for Washington State's Puget Sound Action Team, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that in frogs, river otters and fish, scientists are "finding the presence of female hormones making the male species less male."

I very much doubt we are immune from such effects on this side of the Atlantic. Perhaps upsetting the delicate balance of the eco-system of our waterways might not figure much in some peoples minds on the grand scale of problems resulting from environmental pollution. But according to Pope Benedict "..our earth, speaks to us and we must listen if we want to survive and to decipher this message of the earth. And if we must be obedient to the voice of the earth, this is even truer for the voice of human life." (Meeting with Italian Clergy 24/07/07)

Edmund Adamus
Director, Department for Pastoral Affairs Diocese of Westminster

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The therapeutic mentality and liturgy

James Hitchcock wrote The Recovery of the Sacred in 1974 and, dusting off my copy of the first edition, I see that I read it in 1977. A year later, I read his earlier (1972) book "The Decline and Fall of Radical Catholicism". Hitchcock has a flair for bringing sociological and anthropological analysis to bear on matters of liturgy with devastating effectiveness.

In the latest issue of Adoremus, which arrived here yesterday, he has an article discussing "how the therapeutic mentality affects the culture and Catholic worship." He draws from the work of the Jewish sociologist Philip Rieff whom Hitchcock describes as "not friendly to the Catholic Church overall" although he likes such things as the poetry of Gerald Manley Hopkins and Bach's B Minor Mass.

Hitchcock applies Rieff's description of cultural change to the Liturgy, and specifically to the change that took place in the Liturgy in many places after the Second Vatican Council. Thus, before the Council, generally speaking,
Liturgy was interdictive in that, while it was fundamentally affirmative, it also required boundaries and prohibitions, both a physically enclosed sacred space and “rubrics” — specific requirements by which the necessary conditions of authentic worship were defined — in order to support a sense of reverence. Violations of rubrics or of sacred space were transgressive, thereby instilling dread in the transgressor.

Liturgy, precisely because it was the most sacred action in which human beings could take part, demanded the highest degree of self-abnegation and therefore carried the highest degree of guilt (“Lord, I am not worthy”).
This was replaced by a very different understanding of worship:
Post-conciliar Catholic “renewal” was immediately caught up in the general cultural crisis of which Rieff was the most acute diagnostician, and the ultimate root of the liturgical crisis was precisely the flight from the sense of guilt, something that required a radical redefinition of the nature of worship itself, even though the Council did not officially support such a redefinition.

Liturgical innovators avoided credal affirmations precisely in order to escape acknowledgement of human sinfulness, and with remarkable speed the central meaning of the Mass — the salvation of sinners through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross — was obscured, even denied, in favor of celebrating human goodness, bubbling up in an atmosphere of mutual affirmation.
It is important to note that Hitchcock does not argue that this change in attitude to the Liturgy was in any way an authentic expression of the documents of Vatican II or indeed the rubrics of the Novus Ordo. What he describes is what in fact took place, and is still widespread.

I think that he is right in his description of the reason for the fear of "going back" which we so often hear in any debate about the use of more traditional forms of Liturgy.
Some of the often rancorous debates over Catholic liturgy cannot be resolved because they are fundamentally irrational, touching deep nerves in people that they often do not understand. The use of the Latin language, Gothic architecture, traditional vestments, and other such things incite in liturgical liberals a panicky fear of being pulled back into a world in which guilt would again be appropriate.
The full article is available online at the Adoremus website: James Hitchcock, Transgressive Liturgy

At the foot of his article, a note says that he has an intellectual biography of Christopher Dawson awaiting publication. That will certainly be worth reading.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Pope wears green vestments "intentionally"

Thanks to Teresa Benedetta at the Papa Ratzinger forum, there are full translation of several of the Holy Father's addresses during his recent visit to Loreto. He began his homily to young people, concluding the Agorà 2007 as follows:
“Do not follow the path of pride, rather, follow the path of humility” Go against the trend: do not listen to that chorus of bias and persuasive voices which today put forward a model of life that is drenched in arrogance and violence, in dominance and success at all costs, where appearance and possession to the detriment of others is openly promoted. All of these messages carried by the mass media are aimed at you! Be vigilant! Be critical! Do not follow the trend produced by this powerfully persuasive media.

"Do not be afraid, my dear friends, to prefer the ‘alternative’ route indicated by true love: a sober style of life, a life of solidarity; an honest commitment to your studies and work; a cultivated interest in the common good. Do not be afraid to appear different, or the criticism that you are out of fashion or a loser; people your age, even adults, all of those who seem far from the mentality of the Gospel values, have a deep seated need to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness of humanity manifested by Jesus Christ”.
Of course, the MSM have gone for the silly season interpretation of the whole thing. Rightly lampooned is the Reuters quote in its article Save the planet before it's too late, Pope urges.
Intentionally wearing green vestments, he spoke ...
Errrm. Yep.

Usus antiquior at St Mary Major's

From the Cattolici Romani Forum:
On Saturday 15 September, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, at 3.30pm, there will be a Mass at St Mary Majors [...] in thanksgiving to the Supreme Pontiff for the gift of the Motu Proprio, according to the old Roman Missal, in the wonderful and precious Capella Paolina where for centuries the image of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani has been venerated.
The notice says that all forumisti and their friends are warmly invited!

H/T to Orbis Catholicus: Huge Tridentine Rite Mass to be sung in Rome...

Boredom and accidia

Following my recent thoughts on the lack of boredom in the life of the priest, I was recently told of the September letter of the Parish Priest of the London Oratory on the subject of boredom. Well worth reading.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Fiorella's books

For supper time, I have been reading Fiorella De Maria's excellent first novel "The Cassandra Curse". She is known as Fiorella Nash to many of you but has a website Fiorella de Maria where you can buy this and her second novel "Father William's Daughter" which was recently published.

Both books have a strong Maltese connection (the first is set largely in Malta). "Fr William's Daughter" is being launched in the Westminster Cathedral Hall this Saturday (8 September) as a part of the Malta Day celebrations.

I am finding "The Cassandra Curse" a very good read. The Sunday Times of Malta describes it as "A passionate love story, breathlessly racy". This should not be understood as the comment might be were it written in an English newspaper! The pace of the novel is indeed very taut and the characters are fleshed out realistically. The passion for survival is as much a theme of the story as the passion of romance and betrayal.

Discrimination law review

As the summer holidays come to an end, the next turn of the screw is heralded by the Government: the Discrimination Law Review.

The website of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship does not seem to have their briefing up as yet so here is a chunk from the main part of it as received by email:
Although there are many positive proposals, there also elements of considerable concern to Christians who want to be able to speak freely about the Bible’s teaching. The main concerns are:

1. The Government are proposing to make it illegal to harass someone on the grounds of their religion or belief. However, the definition of harassment is extremely broad, and substantially depends on the perception of the person who makes an allegation of harassment and not the intention of the person accused of harassment. So, a Christian that went to a largely Muslim area to hand out tracts which said that Islam was a false religion, could be sued if a particular Muslim felt that the tract had either ‘violated their dignity’ or put them in an ‘offensive environment’

2. The Government have also brought back one of the most controversial proposals that they previously tried to bring in via the Sexual Orientation Regulations only a few months ago. They are proposing that it should be made illegal to harass someone on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Again, the problem is the really broad definition of harassment. This proposal would mean that although a Church is free under the SORs to gently refuse membership of the church to an unrepentant practising homosexual, that person, if they felt that they had been put in a ‘humiliating environment’ could sue the Church. Similarly, a homosexual could sue a church if they heard a sermon about sexual morality that included condemnation of homosexual practices

3. The Government are also consulting on whether there should be a duty on public authorities to promote sexual orientation equality. This will mean that local authorities and other bodies will take active steps to ensure that all sorts of organisations do not discriminate based on homosexual practices. The danger is that this will be taken too far and will mean that Government funding is removed from Christian projects or that support is given to projects promoting homosexuality.

4. The Government are further consulting on whether there should be a duty on public authorities to promote religion or belief equality. There is a similar danger here that the sort of politically correct decisions (like local councils banning Christmas cards) that increasingly make the headlines, will be multiplied, with public funding being focused on promoting ‘minority’ religions like Islam and Hinduism

5. Another part of the consultation paper seeks views on whether Churches should be able to treat people differently because they have had gender reassignment. If the Government subsequently decided not to allow churches to do so, then a church would not be able to object to a male member of the congregation, who had a sex change (taking on the appearance of a woman), from attending a women’s retreat weekend.

6. The Government are further proposing that the law should protect transsexual people from practices that require them to disclose the fact that their actual sex differs from their physical appearance. So, for example, the Government would allow a man that has had a sex change operation, to be able to keep it secret that he has had that operation.

These are just some of the main provisions of the DLR that are of concern to Christians.
Here is a link for the official Discrimination Law Review consultation. The consultation formally closes tomorrow but there is no reason not to make further submissions to show the concern that there is about these proposals. (Contact details for responses are at the above link.)

Sunday, 2 September 2007

14 September celebrations

I mentioned a while back that I will be celebrating a High Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen at 12noon on Friday 14 September, in thanksgiving for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Fr John Zuhlsdorf of What Does the Prayer Really Say? has kindly agreed to preach at the Mass.

Originally, I intended to put on a formal lunch for clergy. However, a number of lay people will be travelling specially for the Mass so I have decided, after some thought, to invite everyone for a buffet lunch in the Parish Hall. Many thanks to the Union of Catholic Mothers for kindly taking on responsibility for preparing the lunch. I will arrange another occasion in the near future especially for the clergy.

Any of you who can come will be most welcome. Clergy are invited to attend in Choir - please bring your cassock and cotta and a biretta if you have one. It will help to have some idea of who is coming (clergy and laity) so please leave a comment here if you are intending to stay for lunch (put "Not for Publication" at the top if you wish and I will respect that.)

Since I first announced this, a number of other similar celebrations have been arranged, notably:
London Oratory: 7pm High Mass (reception afterwards in St Wilfrid's Hall)

Manchester: St Chad's, Cheetham Hill (Canons Regular of Premontré) Solemn Mass and Te Deum (Mozart’s Solemn Mass No.4 in C minor (Wailenhausmesse) KV139)

Glasgow: 7pm Mass (probably High Mass) in the chapel of Nazareth House followed by refreshments. All are very welcome.

Edinburgh: 6.15pm Sung Mass at St Andrews Church, Belford Rd

Beta bloglines

If you use Bloglines, I recommend having a look at the new beta version. I have found the new "three pane" view very helpful.

Another MSM-free family

Matt Doyle and family have decided not to pay the TV licence and therefore not to watch TV any more. (Lacrimarum Valle: Down with Tele!) Congratulations to another family liberated from the evil black box.

I posted on this a while back (Chuck the Telly!). Matt also gives a link to CUT - Catholics Unplug your Televisions.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Never a boring day

When young people ask me about the priestly life, one of my stock responses is to say that in 23 years of priesthood I have had many joys and sorrows but that I do not remember ever having had a boring day. Today is a good example.

Tired from the Oxford LMS Conference, I got up a little later than usual but still with time for a meditation and a some spiritual reading; and then went down to prepare for Mass which on Saturday is in the usus antiquior. After exposition, confessions and Benediction, I gave a brief refresher on the Latin responses to my young server who needed to brush up after the summer holidays. His companion has broken his foot while on holiday so I have to catch him and tell him that he can still serve.

Then on to a family to talk about a loved one who had died, and reassure them that he would always be remembered in the prayers of the parish. The funeral is to be a simple Liturgy of the Word at the Crematorium, followed by the Committal - this is common in England - but I always include such deceased in the Memento of the Dead.

Back at the Presbytery, the newsletter I have to finalise is the first of the new scholastic term, advertising the RCIA, various extra Masses during the week (Monday early because I am teaching at Parkminster), and the leaflets to request anniversary Masses for 2008.

Once all these things are printed out, the early evening sees confessions and then the anticipated Sunday Mass, followed by the booking of a Baptism for a Nigerian family who have come here because they have heard that they will be welcomed. This is something of a highlight for me: I always try to ensure that African Catholics feel at home in the parish because I know that they are in more of a minority than some parishes I have served in.

When those duties are finished, I drive over to an 18th birthday party for one of my parishioners and spend a little time with family and friends. Back at the parish I call into the Parish Club for a pint of beer (Novus Ordo Eurofizz) and a chat with the men there before returning to have a look at John Allen's latest comments ...

If you feel that God is calling you to the priesthood, there may be various siren voices calling you away. Never believe any that say that it is boring.
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