Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Bishop saves his people from having to hold hands at Mass

A Bishop issuing a Decree! Whatever next? From Pray Tell via Diane of Te Deum Laudamus, comes this Pastoral Letter and Decree from Bishop Foys of Covington, Kentucky. The Decree concerns the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and primarily the importance of obedience to the principle:
Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. (Sacrosanctum Concilium n.22)
Bishop Foys talks about the text, the music and the gestures used in the Liturgy, particularly the people kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer and after the Agnus Dei. He also points out that people should not extend or join their hands during the Our Father. Referring to the General Instruction, he points out that silence should be observed in the Church before mass, and encourages silence after Mass.

Predictably there is a degree if indignation in the comments box at Pray Tell (misanthrope... legalism... rubricism... dreck... fascistic... etc.) and, as usual in these debates, the prediction or hope that priests and people will disobey, not put money in the collection, be liberated, and hold hands proudly at the Our Father.

I suspect that many priests and people will be relieved that whether or not the Decree is obeyed throughout the Diocese of Covington, they at least cannot now be criticised for keeping to the rubrics. Priests who do not make conversational improvisations to jolly the Mass along, are often criticised for being distant or formal, when in fact they are trying to allow the people to participate at Mass as the Church teaches us, with Christ at the centre of the action, not the personality of Fr Showman.

And I expect many ordinary Mass-goers will be relieved that they do not now need to feel stand-offish if they refuse to hold hands during the Our Father. Those outside of the Diocese of Covington and unlucky enough to be in a parish where hand-holding is compulsory might benefit from this idea of Jope:

The "Our Father Holding Hand" is a one-size fits all that you can easily slip on your real hand and then slip off discreetly so the progressive congregant to your left or right has a hand to hold. Meanwhile, your real hands are now reverently folded so that you can pray the Lord's Prayer without getting stuck in that giant 60's style peace chain.

Enjoying using the new books

Missal 004

Unpacking my new Missals, I had the flippant thought that it was like Mummy Missal, Daddy Missal and baby Missal. As everyone has said, the CTS has done a fine job in producing books of excellent quality, worthy for use in the Sacred Liturgy. The Study Edition is particularly useful at the moment when we are finding our way around the ordinary, the propers and the commons.

Having used the Missals for a few days now, I am getting used to the page turns. For the moment, I still need to have the text for the "I confess" and the "Gloria": although in England we have been using the texts since September, it will be a few more weeks before I can confidently say them by heart.

What I should do (and writing this reminds me) is to sit down and learn them off by heart. This exercise has almost vanished from modern education but is worthwhile. Fr Reggie Foster often used to quote Cicero's warning: memoria minuitur nisi eam exerceas (the memory diminishes - unless you exercise it.)

As with many popular quotations, this is actually truncated. The text from Cicero's Cato Maior de Senectute 7.21 reads: At memoria minuitur. Credo, nisi eam exerceas, aut etiam si sis natura tardior. (But [it is alleged] the memory diminishes. I agree: if you do not exercise it, or also if you are by nature somewhat dull.)

Missal 002

The new Missals came last week. The courier firm tried to deliver them several weeks ago when I was away and I didn't get round to rearranging the delivery - I had them dropped to the school and picked them up from there. I find that for a priest living alone, the delivery of parcels is one of the more annoying day-to-day administrative problems. If I were to order £40 worth of groceries online, I could specify a one hour delivery slot and have them delivered free. If I'm ordering several hundred pounds worth of other goods, it's "between 8.30am and 6.30pm" or similar. Anyway it is great to have them at last.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

London metropolitan elite now invited to consultation for Scotland on gay marriage

You might have thought that the Scottish Government's Consultation on same sex marriage was for people in Scotland. It was. But not any more. The views of the metropolitan elite will now be taken into account, probably because they will boost support for same sex marriage.

Of course you can respond too. You can use the Government's online consultation form. Alternatively the Christian Institute has a more concise response form.

For further comment, see the post at Defend Marriage in Scotland: Dirty Tricks from the Scottish Government?

UPDATE: Thomas writes in the combox:
Actually, it appears that submissions from outside of Scotland have been accepted from the beginning of the 14-week consultation. It's just that the Scottish Government managed to assure the Scottish Catholic Parliamentary Office that only submissions from Scotland would count. At the same time, they also managed to let those campaigning for the redefinition of marriage know that external submissions would actually be accepted. It's all about creating the illusion of a groundswell of support.

The adage about an 'unlevel playing field' comes to mind...

Jet pack man

The most important news of the day for boys of all ages: man with real, working jet pack flying alongside two jets. It doesn't start off from the ground (he had to jump out of a helicopter) and landing was by parachute: remaining on his feet when landing, with the jet pack still strapped to his back deserves considerable respect. Give it up for Yves Rossy! Street-friendly jet packs cannot be far off now.

This is surely the definitive alternative to cat posts.

H/T New Advent

Film on the Vendée

Navis Pictures are producing a film about the War of the Vendée which is not included in the politically correct list of massacres and atrocities since it involved Catholics defending themselves against the most brutal and horrific torture and massacre during the French Revolution.

The film uses many young actors, and the story, though brutal, is told with reserve and the makers assure us that movie is suitable for children. It is due for release in January.

H/T A Chaplain Abroad via Linen on the Hedgerow

Monday, 28 November 2011

When legal positivism meets anti-clericalism

How's this for stupid lawsuit of the year? Johannes Christian Sundermann, a lawyer from Unna in North Rhine Westphalia, representing a man from Dortmund, has filed a legal complaint against the pope for not wearing a seat belt on several occasions “for more than one hour at a time” during his visit to Freiburg at the end of September.

Apparently the lawyer (a member of the socialist Left party) took the case on after several other lawyers refused to do so. If he is doing the case pro bono, I hope it takes up a lot of his time. If he is not, then "man from Dortmund" may learn a salutary lesson.

The report in The Local (Germany's News in English) tells us that "both Sundermann and his client are no longer members of the Catholic Church." No surprise there, then. (Though of course they are still members of the Catholic Church whether they like it or not.)

New Stations at Stronsay

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer at Papa Stronsay have just made an important addition to Our Lady's Chapel at Stronsay by putting up Stations of the Cross. It is great to see the chapel being improved bit by bit as resources allow. More pictures at Transalpine Redemptorists at Home.

Huffpost poll on new translation

The internet newspaper, Huffington Post has an article as the New Mass Translation Launches In American Parishes. We've been using at least the Ordinary of the Mass in England since September so the fuss has died down. In the US, there are only a few weeks left to stir things up until the time when most ordinary people are used to the new translation and will see that there is nothing really to make a fuss about.

There is a poll at the foot of the article. Rather confusingly, it asks
Which Catholic Mass (Roman Missal) language do you prefer?
  • The new Mass 
  • The former Mass 
  • Both are equally meaningful to me 
Be aware that it in referring to "The new Mass" and the "The former Mass", it is not asking whether you like the ordinary or extraordinary form. If you think that the new (corrected) translation is preferable to the old (lame duck) translation, you need to click on "The new Mass."

H/T Fr Z

Sunday, 27 November 2011

EnCourage - call for chaplains

Encourage is a group for people struggling with same sex attraction who are sincerely trying to live according to the teaching of the Church. (Similar to Courage in the US.) There has been a revival of interest recently and I have been in touch with one or two people who would like to arrange for regular meetings and occasional Days of Recollection.

They would appreciate hearing from priests who would be willing to help, particularly with hearing confessions. Suitable priests would be orthodox, in complete accord with the teaching of the magisterium on sexual ethics, and capable of showing that compassion and sensitivity which is called for by the Catechism (2358.) If any priest is interested in being on the list of chaplains to EnCourage, please send your details to

The Goals of EnCourage are:
  1. To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.
  2. To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist.
  3. To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
  4. To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in chaste Christian life - to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.
  5. To live lives that may serve as good examples to others.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mgr Charlie Brown new Papal Nuncio for Ireland

This really is a bombshell - and a sign that Pope Benedict is determined to do whatever it takes to reform the Church. With the catastrophe that is Ireland at the moment, especially in matters concerning the Church, we might have expected a seasoned diplomat from Italy - though in fact that has already been tried.

Mgr Charlie Brown (of the Archdiocese of New York) is 52, has several degrees under his belt, has worked in a parish in the Bronx, and has spent many years in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He actually has not worked in any official diplomatic capacity. Mgr Brown has immediately been appointed as a titular Archbishop - this is considered fitting for the post to which he has been assigned.

He will need all our prayers in the appointment, but God bless Pope Benedict for stepping outside the normal cursus honorum in this imaginative and daring appointment.

Sex-ed: getting the information out there

In the Daily Mail, Paul Bracchi has a sensible and informative piece about the Channel 4 programme "Living and Growing." See: Casual sex and 'bad touching': Guess what your eight-year-old is learning at school these days.

One detail that Paul Bracchi picks up is from the introduction to another similarly bad programme:
The introduction states: ‘In the past some people have set aims in SRE such as “promoting marriage”, “dissuading children from having sex before marriage”, “stopping young people from having sex”, “telling children what is right or wrong” etc.

‘Such aims are not achievable, inappropriate for schools and are often more to do with propaganda than education.’
How extraordinary! Showing junior school children graphic animations of sexual intercourse, and teaching them how to masturbate, is appropriate, while telling them what is right or wrong is inappropriate. These people live in a very disturbed inner world.

I hope that with publicity such as this, more adults will actually look at parts of "Living and Growing." These programmes get under the radar because everyone assumes that they are "educational" and must be OK. Once they see what is being shown to little children, most decent adults will be appalled, and quite a few parents will be absolutely livid. We need to get the information out to people and I am grateful to the Daily Mail for helping with this.

Pushkin's memoirs

I'm not really one for cat posts but Pushkin from the Birmingham Oratory seems to be able to insist as cats do, that he be obeyed. Princess Michael of Kent was at his book launch and entertainment was provided by children from the Oratory School as they sang, 'Oh, I want to sing about Pushkin' and 'Pontifical Puss' - two songs composed for the evening. Members of St Paul’s Girls’ School performed Duet for Two Cats by Rossini.

You can see a report of the encounter with the Princess and Pushkin at the St Paul's blog: A purr-fect evening in honour of Pushkin and a follow-up Pushkin and Her Royal Highness which is a chapter from the memoirs.

You can order the book from St Pauls at their website. Royalties from the book will go towards the Birmingham Oratory Church Maintenance Fund.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Abortion figures fiddled - and the RCOG explains how to commit feticide

Yesterday, the Telegraph reported that there was a bit of fiddling with the figures on the cost of abortion to the taxpayer. As Lord Alton has rightly complained, Parliament was badly misled. Originally, the Department of Health said that £90m was spent on abortions in 2009-10, with only £8m going to independent providers (notably Marie Stopes and the BPAS) with the rest being paid to NHS organisations.

Now it turns out that the Department of Health is admitting that "organisations have interpreted guidance on collecting costs in different ways" and that there is a more reliable figure to be had on the basis of returns that must be made by law to the Chief Medical Officer by law.

So actually it turns out that £118m was spent on abortions in 2010, with £75m going to independent providers and the rest (£44m) to the NHS.

Not £8m for private clinics but £75m. Yes, Minister. Concerns have been raised about the calculations.

Today's news is even less cheery: the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have published their new Guideline on The Care of Women Requesting Induced Abortion. Rorate Caeli posts a horrific section dealing with late abortions. As he says: Clear and to the point, quoting Recommendation 6.21:
Feticide should be performed before medical abortion after 21 weeks and 6 days of gestation to ensure that there is no risk of a live birth.
the reason for this is given frankly:
failure to perform feticide could result in a live birth and survival, which contradicts the intention of the abortion.
Well I suppose it does, really.

In the section quoted by Rorate Caeli, advice is given on exactly how to commit the feticide. Apparently Dilatation and Evacuation is abhorrent to most women who would rather that the baby was killed first. So the recommendation is to inject potassium chloride into the heart. There are other ways for staff not so good at giving intracardiac injections, but they are not quite so certain to kill.

These late abortions are usually carried out for fetal abnormality. (Abortion is allowed in Britain up to birth if the baby has a "fetal abnormality.") This very often means that the baby has Downs Syndrome. You don't see many people with Downs Syndrome on the streets nowadays. Now you know what is happening to them.

Takapuna ablaze, to be demolished tomorrow

For many years the house on Peaks Hill in Purley, known as Takapuna, was home to the John Fisher School Faith Society from its foundation in 1972 until just a few years ago. The Faith Society at the John Fisher School was the beginning of the Faith Movement. To begin with, the room at Takapuna where the Faith group met, was the Study of Fr Roger Nesbitt; after he left, it became a spare classroom, always left available on Friday evenings for the Faith Society.

The house itself was a residence for some of the many priests who taught in the school at one time. The last resident was Fr Richard Fawssett who lived there until he died on 2 June 2009.

Last night, Sir Dan of the blogosphere phoned me with the sad news that Takapuna was on fire. Today, the Headmaster, Mr Mark Scully told me that the building, which was already in a poor state of repair, is now in a dangerous condition and will be demolished tomorrow.

The many priests and laymen (and indeed some old girls of St Anne's and Coloma) who remember the Friday evening meetings of Faith will be sad to hear of the downfall of Takapuna, but perhaps a quick demolition is in some ways preferable to slow decay: the Sutton Guardian referred to it as a "derelict building." The Faith group at the school continues under the watchful eye of Sir Dan. I will be visiting to give a talk in a few weeks' time. Those who know Sir Dan will not be surprised to hear that he considered the fate of Takapuna to be "symbolic of the state of the Church today."

The Headmaster told me of one poignant detail in the story: while Takapuna was burning and being attended by several fire engines, the Chapel Choir was giving a performance of Faure's Requiem.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

CCC northern and southern chapter meetings

A reminder for priests of two forthcoming meetings of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. Here are the details:
Southern Chapter Meeting
Monday 28th November, 2011
at St Mary of the Angels, Moorhouse Road, Bayswater

Coffee from 11am
11.30am Conference on: The revival of Catholic Scripture scholarship under Benedict XVI given by Fr John Hemer
12.30pm Adoration
1pm Lunch

Please contact Fr Richard Whinder to book a place at lunch 02088761326 or

Northern Chapter Meeting
Friday 9th December, 2011
at St Austin’s Church, Wakefield WF1 3QN

11.30am Talk, followed by lunch & social
Holy Hour & Benediction at 3.00pm
end at 4.00pm.

Clergy wishing to attend should e-mail
Fr. Stephen Brown on or ‘phone 01274 721636.

Conman posing as Bishop in telephone scam

This today from the offices of the Archdiocese of Southwark:
A man purporting to be a Bishop from the Philippines has rung a number of priests in the Diocese of Southwark asking for money to enable him to attend Bishop John Jukes’ funeral.

He has already been reported in the press but to date he is still ringing priests

Do not ring the number he gives – it might be that is the way he is gaining the money he is requesting.

Please report any contact to your local police station.
There is a press report at Total Catholic concerning this conman. He has been purporting to be Bishop Joseph Surasarang, the retired bishop of Chiang Mai diocese in Thailand but marooned in the Philippines. (Of course the story could change.) He has been targeting Priests, Deacons, Schools and the bereaved. It would be good if we could shut this guy down.

UPDATE: I just had a call from him! (The number he rang from was 639061846758.) After a polite greeting and introduction I started reading the text of the notice from the Archdiocese. For some reason he hung up :-) Details now being emailed to the Police.

UPDATE: He is now telling priests that Archbishop Peter Smith asked him to ring them!

Mass on board ship off coast of Iwo Jima 1945

The priest and the congregation sway back and forth with the motion of the ship as Mass is celebrated just off the coast of Iwo Jima in 1945. Thanks be to God that these men were so well prepared for what was a fiercely fought battle with 28,000 US casualties and 6,800 dead. There were 22,060 Japanese soldiers in heavily fortified positions; 21,844 died either from fighting or by committing suicide in order not to be taken prisoner. This is a reminder to us that codes of honour, customs, and personal conscience can be gravely erroneous. Their suicide may well not be imputed to them by Almighty God and therefore we should pray for the repose of their souls as well as those of the Americans who died.

As well as the crucial spiritual benefit of this Mass for the troops, watching vintage footage of the celebration of Mass is always of interest. Those of us who were children when the Mass was substantially changed from about 1964 onwards have tried assiduously to be faithful to the rubrics and customs of celebrating the old Mass. It is consoling for me to see that the gestures and movements are basically the same, but there are always little differences that are noticeable.

In this video, the priest gives Holy Communion from a large pyx. He does not make the sign of the cross with the sacred host before each communicant. I wonder whether this was simply a precaution because of the effects of the swell or whether the custom was simply not universal.

Here is a link to another clip (commercial so I can't embed it) of a US Military Chaplain celebrating Mass on the pier at Weymouth harbour three days before D-Day. Interesting to think that my dad was probably not too far away somewhere on the South coast with others preparing tanks. He went across on 8 June.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Bishop John Jukes RIP

Today the Archdiocese sent the sad news of the death of Bishop John Jukes OFM Conv who died this morning. Bishop Jukes ordained me to the priesthood in 1984. He kept in touch from time to time during his retirement with his robust and blunt approach to ecclesiastical matters. He was a man you could talk to straight from the shoulder. May God reward his many years of labour in the vineyard. Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

"Some more, some more, Summorum Pontificum!"

Online busking trad blogger and friend of the homeless in Brighton, Laurence England of That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill has just posted this Ballad of Summorum Pontificum. It has more than a whiff of John Hegley's style, and I'm sure that the refrain
Some more, some more
Summorum Pontificum!
Some more, some more, gimme some more.
will be sung in pubs and clubs up and down the land after traditional Masses and other traddie events.

Go over to Laurence's post for the lyrics.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The eternal truths and the threefold remorse of the damned

Luxembourg 164

CZAS UCIEKA WIECZNOŚĆ CZEKA (Time flies. Eternity waits.) Left footer reports on this text on a sign near the sanctuary where he attended Mass. (H/T Mundabor) The photo above is from the Cathedral at Trier - the inscription says "You do not know at what hour the Lord will come" and applies both to the second coming and to our own death. St Alphonsus Liguori used to quote St Augustine "God promises us His grace, He does not promise us tomorrow."

At this time of year I devote four Sunday sermons to the four last things. It is easy to gloss over the eternal truths even though they are an obviously major part of the teaching of Jesus Christ in the gospels. St Alphonsus, in his Sermons for every Sunday of the year focussed mainly on the four last things. His sermons were what we would today call "talks" or "conferences" - they were not given during Mass but at a separate devotional service. His aim was to bring people back to the practice of the faith by reminding them of the eternal truths and of the great mercy of God which allows us the opportunity for conversion in this life. He stressed the urgency and vital importance of such conversion.

Speaking about the last things has become unfashionable in recent decades. It is supposed to be psychologically unhealthy because so many clerics cling to the personalist "I'm OK, You're OK." psychology that was fashionable in the 70s and 80s. (For more information on this, see this Interview with a repentant psychologist. If anyone has more links to stuff by William Coulson, please drop links in the combox. I'd like to feature his work in another post.)

Surely the point is - are the eternal truths actually true? If they are, it is supremely important that people know about them, and negligent for a priest to ignore them in his preaching. Unless the Lord returns first, we are all going to die within a few decades - that we know. If we believe Our Lord's teaching in the Gospels, there is going to be a judgement and we are all going either to heaven or to hell. Most of us should hope that we will be given the merciful provision of purgatory to make us fit for heaven.

In fact meditating on the eternal truths, the four last things, is consoling, not a psychologically damaging threat. Take for example the sermon of St Alphonsus on the threefold remorse of the damned. In summary, the soul in hell is aware of
  1. The little he required to save his soul
  2. The trifles for which he lost his soul
  3. The great good which he has lost through his own fault
This rather stark reminder of the anguish of the soul in hell teaches us that we should do that little that we require to save our souls - pray each day, keep the commandments, receive the sacraments, especially the sacrament of penance, and carry out works of charity. We are also drawn to see that the things which might cause the loss of our soul are trifles compared with the eternal bliss of heaven.

All of the things that we need to do to save our souls make us better people here on earth so this is not an attack on the priority of social justice: in the time of St Alphonsus and indeed until relatively recently, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy were seen as necessary, not occasions to pat ourselves on the back.

If you don't hear about the four last things at this time of year, you could make them a part of your own meditation. If you can get a copy of the sermons of St Alphonsus they are great - but the kindly and gentle St Francis of Sales also has meditations on them in his Introduction to the Devout Life.

New online journal "Humanum"

Stratford Caldecott sends me news of a new online journal, called Humanum which is a quarterly review of the Centre for Cultural and Pastoral Research at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC. The journal is free and there is no registration. There is an About page which gives more information but here is a snippet:
As the name Humanum indicates, we are about “the human”: what makes us human, what keeps us human, and how to rescue our humanity when this is endangered. Our aim is to pick our way with discernment through the flood of publications (some good, some confused, some pernicious) that claim to tell us about ourselves, about family, marriage, love, children, health, and human life.
The emphasis on the family is particularly strong in the present issue which is devoted to "The Child." It is encouraging to hear of this new apostolate which will help to bring academic articles on such vital matters to a wide audience.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Birmingham Oratory to make sung Mass EF

From the first Sunday of Advent, the Birmingham Oratory will celebrate its sung 10.30am Mass as a High Mass in the extraordinary form or, as we prefer to call it here, the usus antiquior (an expression also used by Pope Benedict.) I think that this is a sensible development.

People who want to go to a sung Latin Mass are better served by the old rite without the interactive "Fratres agnoscamus..." and having to wait until the Sanctus is finished before the priest begins the Canon. The singing of the Propers fits better in the usus antiquior and the possibility of a regular High Mass is only to be welcomed.

There are, of course, those who would prefer to promote the celebration of the Novus Ordo ad orientem and in Latin. I respect such an agenda as it is one that I used to adhere to myself. We can agree to differ respectfully on such a question. Perhaps one day I should write a pale imitation of Newmans's "History of my religious opinions."

Towards Advent Festival

The Towards Advent Festival is happening this Saturday, 19 November at Westminster Cathedral Hall. The main speaker this year is Mgr Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. His talk will be at 1.30pm.

The Festival opens from 10am - there will be a formal opening 10.30am with the Gallery Choir of the Cathedral Choir School. The Hall is filled with stalls and displays from Catholic groups and organisations. Books, DVDs and various devotional items will be on sale - many of them suitable for Christmas.

Refreshments are provided by the Association of Catholic Women, and both the Knights of St Columba and the Catenians help with practical matters. The day will end with a celebration of Blessed John Paul and a film about his life.

Admission to the Festival is free but tickets for the talks are £2 each (pay at the door.)

Auntie Joanna has written an article about the festival for Adoremus.

CMA (Kent) hosting talk on Hippocratic Oath

The Kent branch of the Catholic Medical Association are having their AGM and a talk in my parish on 29 November. I'll be going along myself to hear more about the Hippocratic Oath. Many years ago I visited Kos and brought back a T-shirt with the Hippocratic oath printed on it in Greek. My sister (a consultant geriatric psychiatrist used to wear it sometimes to medical conferences where her colleagues who did not know Greek twigged that there might be something suspicious about it. Here are the details of the conference:
Catholic Medical Association (Kent Branch)

AGM and Meeting (with some food!)
Tuesday 29th November 2011 7.30pm
Our Lady of the Rosary, 330a Burnt Oak Lane, Blackfen, Kent. DA15 8LW

The Hippocratic Oath 
by Fr Bernard McNally

Dear Friends, It was wonderful to see so many of you at the conference we held at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blacken earlier this year. Feedback from the day was very positive and we were really grateful to you all for your contributions to the day as well as to all our speakers.

We are pleased to invite you to another meeting on the Second Saturday and Sunday of Lent (25th -26th February) next year. But for now, it is high time we had an AGM of the Kent Branch. Geraldine Mceever and Ian Jessiman have held the posts of Master and secretary for many years and have both asked to be “let off”.

So, we will be having an evening meeting in November at which we will elect new officers for the Kent branch of the CMA. Any member of the CMA can stand for offices and all nominations are very welcome. Having an AGM should not take too long and so we will also have the Rosary or Mass, some food and a talk on the Hippocratic Oath by Fr Bernard McNally, Guy’s Hospital Chaplain. We do hope that you can come.

Whether you can come or not, please do the following Please can you all let us have your email addresses. That way we can keep you up to date with the latest edition of the Catholic Medical Quarterly and other important occasional news. Please note that only Kent Branch members may vote at the AGM.

Finally, please note that the Catholic Medical Quarterly is now on line at and we think it looks rather splendid with some excellent articles. Members should have received their copies by post recently. If not please tell us as we will need to check the membership database.  (Replies to

Yours sincerely

Dr Adrian Treloar and Wendy Schiess

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Usus antiquior in Poland: a local story

Piotr Bednarski sent me this encouraging story from Poland, of the ordinary faithful trying to build "brick by brick" an awareness and appreciation of the usus antiquior. For those of us who have the blessing of the usus antiquior regularly for some time now, it is a reminder of the patient work needed to bring about the re-sacralisation of the Liturgy especially through the enrichment that the old Mass can bring.

Missa Cantata celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of Roman Rite (EF) with Master of Ceremonies, Incense, and blessing for a wedding anniversary: how to make parishioners familiar with the EF when the pastor does not envision the possibility of the EF, at least in the short term

Even in a parish where only the Novus Ordo (NO) is celebrated, and some churchgoers are vocal against Latin and the traditional Mass (perhaps due to lack of understanding the EF and church documents), still there is a window of opportunity to offer an experience of the “ancient Mass”. That was the case when a couple celebrating their 15th anniversary, in the spirit of patient dialogue with the pastor, succeeded in getting the green light to have the EF for the family and any parishioners willing to come.

Lay people took full responsibility for ”marketing the EF” by putting up posters, arranging a priest and altar servers properly trained in the EF, a chant singer to do the propers, and finally for getting all the necessary liturgical vestments and requisites, including even candlesticks. And it happened, for the first time in the  history of this 30-year old parish, on October 15, 2011, on the feast of St. Teresa of Avilla (the great master of the spiritual life of XVI century and the doctor of the Church). The venue of the event was the parish of Mater Ecclesiae in Otrebusy near Warsaw, Poland where people were able to participate in a Missa Cantata celebrated by Fr. Zbigniew Chromy, a priest from the Diocese of Świdnica in south-west Poland.

Fr. Zbigniew is a doctor in theology, with professional interest in teaching of Joseph Ratzinger, and he is a faculty member at the Diocesan Seminary in Swidnica, affiliated at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wroclaw, Poland. He kindly agreed to make a quick 24-hour trip Swidnica to Otrebusy (200 miles) to say the Mass.

At the Mass, attended by the faithful of the parish and guests, together about 50 people, the atmosphere of prayer, participation, and dignity of liturgy was overwhelming. There were three priests invited for the anniversary, none of whom celebrate the EF, who sat in choir: Fr. Marcin Korzeniowski – a local assistant priest, Fr. Tadeusz Alexandrowicz a former pastor of the parish, now in charge of a large Warsaw parish, and Fr. Zbigniew Badowski, a canon lawyer from one of Warsaw's strongly NO parishes.

The proper chants of the Mass (in the original tones of Gregorian chant) were performed by Agnieszka Mycka, a musicologist and conductor of Gregorian schola (at the church of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lublin, Poland). The propers for the feast of St. Theresa, especially the beautiful “Dilexisti iustitiam, et odisti iniquitatem”, filled the modern church, inspiring the faithful to prayerful meditation. The altar servers (master of ceremonies, acolytes, thurifer) harmonised well with the celebrating priest in a service marked by concentration and piety.

The Mass participants, even though most of them were new to the EF, followed the Mass, responded actively to the priest, and managed the Ordinary in Latin. This was facilitated by Missals provided specially for this occasion with texts in Polish and Latin. In a short introduction before the Mass, Fr. Zbigniew set the proper tone and lowered uncertainty about Latin and new elements not encountered in NO, such as the longer period of silence during Canon. Fr. Zbigniew also emphasized the opportunity of experiencing the richness of gestures, postures, and silence of the EF, and recalled the principle of receiving Holy Communion in a kneeling posture.

During his homily, referring to the feast of St. Theresa, Fr. Zbigniew pointed to two pillars of the spiritual life: Mass and prayer. He stressed that the free gift of the real presence of Christ during the sacrifice of the Mass is the infinite source of strengthening Christians in everyday life, in marriage, in the family. At the end of Mass, the antiphon sung in honour of Our Lady - Salve Regina - brought a joyful Marian accent to the Saturday, a day devoted to Our Lady.

 Finally, after the Mass Fr. Zbigniew, in accordance with the ancient rite, offered an uplifting prayer and blessed the married couple celebrating their anniversary, followed by sprinkling with Holy Water. (right) The solemn retiring procession closed the ceremony.

 The final photo at the entrance of the Church shows the participants at Mass - except for the altars serves who needed to prepare the church for the NO Mass.

Let us hope and pray that even if the Mass was a extraordinary event in the parish, sooner than later EF becomes also part of the Sunday schedule.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Decline and Fall for 72p

I have been using a Kindle for a while now, mainly for reading documents and articles published on the internet that are too long to print off. Until the other day, I hadn't used it to buy books from Amazon. I was drawn to do so because I wanted to read the new edition of A Bitter Trial edited by Alcuin Reid which is not available on Amazon in the print version. That rather overcame my reluctance to read real books on the Kindle. I heartily recommend A Bitter Trial, by the way: it shows Evelyn Waugh as astonishingly prescient.

Whenever you speak of ebooks, people say that they prefer the feel of a real book and I have great sympathy with that view. I started seriously collecting books when I was 17 and have some wonderful volumes on my shelves that are increasing in value and interest over the decades.

In fact, I have too many books and need to do another purge of my shelves. For some time now, I have discarded any fictional books that I buy to read when on holiday or, like Fr Adrian Fortescue, to clear my mind towards the end of the day. (Much better than television.) I especially enjoy historical fiction but read quite quickly (though not as quickly as Fortescue) and get through quite a few of them. (I must remember to take a box of such books over to the school for their Christmas bazaar.) In the future, I shall simply stock up the Kindle with a few titles

For many years I have had the intention of reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and always ask for it in second-hand bookshops. On the rare occasions when a shop actually has a copy, it has been beyond my budget.

I just downloaded a copy of all six volumes for my Kindle for 72p.

Quite a good endorsement

I suppose this must be one of the best pictures a composer might hope for. Richly deserved as well!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Faith Magazine latest issue online

The November-December issue of Faith Magazine is online. The editorial examines the eclipse of authority with reference to the summer riots and the current ecclesial compromise.

Fr Hugh MacKenzie looks at some serious problems with the EdExcel GCSE religion course and its textbook Roman Catholic Christianity.

The Letters page has contributions on the article by Dylan James in the last issue, on contraception and natural family planning.

I have a book review of The Council in Question. A Dialogue with Catholic Traditionalism (Moyra Doorly and Fr Aidan Nichols) together with Liturgical Reflections of a Papal Master of Ceremonies (Mgr Guido Marini.)

There is a lot more good material and I recommend it to you. If you want to subscribe to get a nice shiny printed copy, here is a link to the subscriptions page.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Confirmo te Chrismate salutis


At the last minute, Bishop John Sherrington stood in for Bishop Alan Hopes to adminster confirmation in the usus antiquior to 31 candidates at the Church of St James, Spanish Place. (This is organised each year by the Latin Mass Society.) He told me that he had been studying the rite with the help of a priest friend last night - he has only recently been consecrated Bishop and was rather thrown in the deep end. His preparation paid off and he managed very competently with the discreet help of Fr Andrew Southwell, together with Gordon Dimon, the Latin Mass Society MC.

This year there was one boy from my parish, one of my nieces, and a lady I recently received into the Church, so it was a joy for me to be with them. The combination of a beautiful Church and a superb parish choir makes for an impressive celebration which, I am sure, helps the disposition of those receiving the sacrament.

In advance of any function that I am assisting at, I make it clear that I am happy to assist in any capacity. Normally this means Deacon or Subdeacon. Today I joked in the sacristy that I was to take my now customary role at the Confirmations as Bombaceus Bearer ("bombaceus" is the Latin word used in liturgical books for a ball of cotton wool.) After the candidates have been anointed, a priest wipes the chrism from their foreheads with a ball of cotton wool - these are burnt after the service. I graduated up to subdeacon for Pontifical Benediction which followed the Confirmation.


Parents campaign against videos shown at Catholic school, get police sent after them

Bonus Pastor Catholic College at Downham in South East London is at the centre of a controversy concerning materials that have been shown as part of the RE programme. A website has been set up by parents of young people at the school to protest about the materials: Bonus Pastor Exposed. It starts with a warning page because it does display extracts from the videos that have been shown to the pupils. I don’t recommend that you watch them. In order to write this post, I did, and rather wish that I hadn’t. So I’ll give some salient points to save you the trouble.

One is called “Keeping Mum” and shows a young couple being disturbed having sex, and the mother of the girl (a vicar’s wife) getting sexually involved with a golf instructor after being chided by her daughter who says that she “isn’t getting any.” The golf instructor then takes voyeuristic photographs of the mother. The clip includes liberal use of the F word, and partial nudity.

The second is an extract from “A short stay in Switzerland.” It shows a woman who takes spoonfuls of crushed tablets from a cereal bowl, washed down with vodka and orange, then lies down and puts a plastic bag over her head. The next scene shows that she survived. She expresses a desire to travel and get “the medical assistance I need to die.” At a nice clean clinic in Switzerland (the mythical version of Dignitas) she takes a potion under supervision and dies quite quickly, surrounded by her family. They are upset at the time, but soon are walking around happily in the sunshine.

The Bonus Pastor Exposed website was not set up in haste - the correspondence section starts with a letter sent to the Chair of Governors in March. The school’s response to parents essentially justifies the showing of the material as a means of stimulating discussion in accordance with the exam board’s recommendation of the material for the course Roman Catholic Christianity. (This incidentally confirms that the videos were actually shown to pupils.) Ironically, Google have contacted the parents' account at YouTube to tell them that because of the content, the videos have been given an adult rating.

(For a further critique of the Edexcel course and Roman Catholic Christianity, see the article by Fr Hugh MacKenzie in the current edition of Faith Magazine: GCSE Lessons on Catholic Marriage: A Syllabus of Errors.)

At the school’s website, a letter from the Headteacher and Chair of Governors mentions the distribution of leaflets which took place on the streets near the school and says
Please be assured that the matter has been dealt with by the police.
Leafleting in the street is not an offence, of course. An allegation of assault was made, and a number of police officers turned up at the home of a Greg Clovis, rather panicking his wife. I understand that he was out at the time and voluntarily attended the Police Station the next day. You can see the result of the police enquiry posted on YouTube, saying that:
Your case has been “No Further Actioned” and that’s the end of the matter. Sorry to bother you.
It seems that the Police did not think the allegation worth very much attention. I understand that Greg Clovis is taking legal advice on a possible claim for damages.

The letter at the school website also says:
You may have also heard that a website has been set up about the College and in particular, resources used in RE lessons.

For security reasons we advise you not to access the website as we believe that it could compromise your email account.
I have no qualms in giving you the link to the website since it does not contain any malicious code – why would it, after all? You don’t set up a campaigning website with malware on it that would deter people from looking at what you want to tell the world.

It is perhaps unfortunate for Bonus Pastor College that it has been singled out. As a priest I have heard many similar stories from other Catholic schools and colleges though usually those who complain do not wish to be in the public eye, and do not gather materials and correspondence in the way that this family has. If they complain to the Governors or the Diocesan school authorities, they are fobbed off with excuses and nothing is done.

Catholic parents who complain about such materials are often demonised and the controversy is presented in terms of them being the problem. This is a grave injustice. Parents who send their children to a Catholic school should be able to presume that they will not be exposed in class to videos such as this, and that they will not be left to form their own views about moral questions without a clear presentation of the moral teaching of the Catholic Church as truth and not just one view among many.

The Values Clarification approach (with the self-serving “let me play devil’s advocate” ploy) has done immense damage both in the Church and in society. Catholic schools should be in the vanguard of giving clear moral education since we are blessed with the magisterium to guide us in the teaching of Christ. If a syllabus recommends showing material like the videos above, it should be changed, or the Church should reject such a syllabus firmly and decisively. Let me give the last word to a commenter:
I am a Catholic and teacher in a secular school within a 5 mile radius of Bonus Pastor. We would not countenance showing this material in school - no school with Muslim pupils would allow it, without at least warning the parents and allowing them to opt out. Ironic, isn't it?
James Preece has also posted on this story here and here. The comments on both articles are also worth reading.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

FSSP England vocations discernment weekend

CCC Colloquium 059

I am happy to recommend the vocation discernment weekend at St John Fisher House in Reading. I had the opportunity to visit the house and receive the kind hospitality of Fr de Malleray after the CCC Colloquium which was held nearby. A great deal of work had to be done to make the house habitable. The work has been completed with an impressive combination of good taste and appropriate simplicity, so that it can serve as a centre for the many works of apostolate which the FSSP has undertaken in England.

Here is the information for the weekend:
Vocation discernment weekend, at St John Fisher House in Reading on 16-17-18 December 2011:
For Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
Starts on Friday 16th December 2011 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 18th December 2011 mid-afternoon. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP. 
Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales.
Address: 17, Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England.
Access: 27mn from London Paddington by direct trains up to every 10mn, and from London Waterloo. Direct trains from Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Gatwick Airport, Southampton Airport, etc. Direct ‘RailAir’ buses from Heathrow to Reading train station every 20mn. Motorway: M4.
Limited overnight accommodation: please book now. 
Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite) including polyphonic Sunday Mass, silent prayer, private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what a vocation is in general and to the priesthood in particular.  
Read here the Holy Father’s recent Letter to seminarians. Extract: “The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.” 
Cost: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.
New: our special Vocations flyer and videos on
There is also an Advent weekend of recollection from 2-4 December and a Retreat for Priests next 5-9 March. See the website for further details of forthcoming events.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Irish Government not hostile to Holy See. Not at all.

The Irish Government is closing its embassy to the Holy See because it yields no economic return, apparently. The 14 consulates in Spain (in addition to the embassy at Madrid) will remain open, including those in Lanzarote and Tenerife, as well as the consulates in Cannes, Antwerp and Bermuda. And I guess that the consulate at Guardabaer in Iceland must be bringing in lots of lolly. (See here for a list of Irish diplomatic missions.)

Relations between the Holy See and Ireland are "not in question" according to the press spokesman of the Holy See. Nevertheless for my next holiday, rather than visit Ireland, I thought I might visit somewhere where the government is less hostile to the Catholic Church. North Korea, Yemen ...?

I would never have made a good diplomat.

Friday, 4 November 2011

5-13 weeks pregnant? Could you go and help the GCN to train scanners?

The Good Counsel Network has a new scanner but they need to train their ultrasonographers. If you are between 5 and 13 weeks pregnant, it would help them if you would be prepared to be a scan "model" for their trainees.

Although ultrasound scans are sometimes used to persuade women to abort babies who are deemed to be unworthy of life, they encourage many women to change their minds about abortion when they see a scan of their baby, so the introduction of an ultrasound scanner at the GCN is a very positive help in their work to persuade women to allow their babies to live.

If you have the opportunity to get up to London over the next few days, you could help the GCN to save babies. Phone 020 7723 1740 to book in. (See Maria Stops Abortion for more details.)

Also this from the Good Counsel Network:
The wish list has worked out brilliantly, resulting in 5 buggies, 2 cots, various other goods big and small, and especially a double moses basket and double buggy needed for a mother expecting twins - she was chuffed! The only problem has been we have not discovered any way of finding out who has sent the gifts so we have been unable to thank people. So please do pass on to your readers our heartfelt thanks to any who donated.
I mentioned the wish list in September so congratulations to all of you who helped not only to support the pro-life campaign but also to help out practically in the work of supporting mothers in difficulty.

A no-nonsense leader

CB relic 001

At the converts' class last night (sorry - "RCIA process") I was valiantly trying to explain the incarnation and the doctrine of Christ's two natures but as so often happens, we got distracted into the details of Catholic practice. This is not a bad thing since a lot can be taught through these concrete examples.

This time it was relics and so we could talk about the goodness of creation, the resurrection of the body and the veneration of the saints. Today provided an opportunity for me to expose for veneration the relic of St Charles Borromeo (above), one of my own favourite saints. The reliquary also contains relics of St Francis and St Dominic, and St Thomas of Canterbury.

At the seminary at Wonersh there is a fine side altar for St Charles. This is fitting in that Wonersh was the first truly Tridentine seminary in England, and St Charles is a good patron for priests. I won't attempt to summarise his life - there are plenty of accounts on the internet and I expect other bloggers will write about him today, so I will just relate from memory of reading his life a couple of anecdotes that are typical.

Visiting one religious house to insist on its reform he found that the gates were barred to him. St Charles lived in great simplicity and austerity in his own quarters but when engaged in public duties, he wore full dress as befits a Bishop and travelled with a formal retinue. Facing the disobedience of the religious, he turned the retinue about, went back to the Bishop's palace, wrote out the bull of excommunication, returned again to the house and pinned the bull on the gates.

He was also known for his courage during the plague. Some of the poor people were boarded up in their houses so that they could not get out and infect others. When St Charles travelled to visit them, he had a ladder brought with him so that he could climb up into an upstairs window to anoint the sick and give them Holy Communion. Here is a picture that I took in the Church of St Merry in Paris which shows St Charles giving Holy Communion to a victim of the plague:

Paris 149

You will notice that St Charles did not institute a rule about giving Holy Communion in the hand during the plague.

I recall another incident from his life, in which, having now been recognised as a no-nonsense reformer, he visited a religious house where the Fathers tried to put on a good show of keeping the rule and being obedient to the Council of Trent. At the close of his visit, they asked him for a memento. He said that he had left one in the chapel. After his departure, they went to the chapel and saw on the prie-dieu for the priest to prepare for Mass, that St Charles had signed his name in the dust.

St Charles Borromeo. Pray for us (and especially for priests.)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Holy souls and minor basilica update

I did celebrate three Masses today, though not one after the other. In the morning we had our usual English Mass; in the afternoon I was at the school for Mass with the children of Year 3 (2nd grade in US currency) and in the evening it was Missa Cantata with absolutions at the catafalque.

It was good to have the opportunity to talk to the children and their parents about praying for the Holy Souls. I always point out that although November can be a sad for us, as we remember our loved ones who have died, it must be a great time of rejoicing in purgatory because many people suddenly remember again to pray for the dead.

The above picture of a catafalque is from the Church of Santissima Trinita in Rome, the home of the FSSP. (H/T NLM.) I post it here as a model for my senior servers who are always finding ways to improve the Church, the sanctuary, and the vestments. One or two of them (particularly Zephyrinus) buy tickets for the Euro Lottery each week in the hope that a win of 50 million euro or whatever it is this week, will provide us with the means to build a minor basilica at Blackfen. The above photo is a good example of the sort of thing we have in mind.

Singing the English Mass

Singing the texts of the Mass brings a solemnity and gravitas to the Liturgy: this is particularly noticeable in the introduction of the new texts for the Novus Ordo. Mgr Andrew Wadsworth in various talks and articles has stressed how the new version of the English Missal contains much more music and that we are encouraged to sing the Mass.

Over the past couple of days I have begun to do this much more, using the simple chants that are printed in the Missal, singing the “The Lord be with you” and the orations at Mass. To my surprise, people actually joined in, even though I have not yet got round to printing out sheets for them. There is an instinct for sacred music just under the surface, I think, and it can be easily recovered.

In the new translation it is easier to sing the Collects since the grammatical structure of the prayers makes it more straightforward to determine where the metrum and flex should be. The antiphons can easily be sung to a psalm tone: later perhaps the children’s choir could have a stab at the “Simple Propers” settings. The setting for the ordinary is about as simple as it could be, yet is unmistakeably sacred music rather than an “Israeli Mass” type setting.

To sing the Mass in this way rather than simply to have a couple of more or less random hymns or songs makes a major impact on the celebration of Mass and it is a significant contribution to the recovery of the sacred in the Liturgy. At the family Mass yesterday for All Saints, the children joined in quite easily with singing the responses; with the other parts of the Mass sung simply, there was a real sense of sung worship rather than simply singing songs while we worship.

Taking this relatively easy step of singing the new texts of the Mass is not so much “brick by brick” but a large section of wall in the reform of the reform that can be built almost overnight.
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