Saturday, 28 February 2009

Marini on the liturgy

Many thanks to the New Liturgical Movement for translating an interview given by Mgr Guido Marini, Papal Master of Ceremonies, to the March issue of the periodical Radici Cristiane. the original Italian text of the interview is carried on the Vatican Website.

The whole interview is well worth reading but let me pick out a couple of items that struck me particularly. First of all in regard to vestments:
Pope Benedict XVI recently said in an address that "society speaks with the clothes that it wears." Do you think this could apply to the liturgy?

In effect, we all speak by the clothes that we wear. Dress is a language, as is every form of external expression. The liturgy also speaks with the clothes it wears, and with all its expressive forms, which are many and rich, ever ancient and ever new. In this sense, "liturgical dress", to stay with the terminology you have used, must always be true, that is, in full harmony with the truth of the mystery celebrated. The external signs have to be in harmonious relation with the mystery of salvation in place in the rite. And, it should never be forgotten that the actual clothing of the liturgy is a clothing of sanctity: it finds expression, in fact, in the holiness of God. We are called to face this holiness, we are called to put on that holiness, realizing the fullness of participation.
The vestments that the priest wears are not a mark of honour for him. They are an expression of the holiness of the mystery that is being celebrated; of the actio Dei in which we participate. By treating the sacred vestments with care, vesting prayerfully, and not wearing them except when celebrating the Sacred Liturgy, the priest is reminded of his unworthiness and the need for contrition before daring to approach the sacred mysteries. Our participation in this mystery should lead us to greater charity in action: the two are not opposed or in competition.

Mgr Marini also speaks of the Holy Father's preference regarding the way that people should receive Holy Communion:
We have noticed that the Holy Father, for some time now, always gives Holy Communion upon the tongue and kneeling. Does he want this to serve as an example for the whole Church, and an encouragement for the faithful to receive our Lord with greater devotion?

As we know the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand remains still, from a legal point of view, an exception [indult] to the universal law, granted by the Holy See to the bishops conferences who so request it. Every believer, even in the presence of an exception [indult], has the right to choose the way in which they will receive Communion. Benedict XVI, began to distribute Communion on the tongue and kneeling on the occasion of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi last year, in full consonance with the provisions of the current liturgical law, perhaps intending to emphasize a preference for this method. One can imagine the reason for this preference: it shines more light on the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, it helps the devotion of the faithful, and it indicates more easily the sense of mystery.
Note here that there is no question of the Holy Father questioning the motives of those who receive standing or on the hand - but it is not allowed when he gives Holy Communion. To express a preference for something good does not imply a judgement on the subjective motivation of those who do otherwise.

The photo at the top (from Ash Wednesday Mass the other day) shows the way in which the Holy Father distributes Holy Communion. As many priests know, insisting on this is sometimes difficult. Even the Holy Father has to deal with the occasional pastoral difficulty as we see in the next photo from the same Mass:

Linacre Ethics Forum on post-abortion syndrome

The Linacre Ethics Forum offers chance for junior healthcare professionals and students to explore and discuss Catholic healthcare ethics. Each month a senior practitioner or other expert is invited to give a 30 minute presentation, followed by discussion. The aim will be to understand the Church’s teaching, and explore ways in which we can present it sympathetically to patients, colleagues and managers. Medics, nurses, pharmacists etc. are all welcome.

This Tuesday (3 March) Dr Pravin Thevathasan will be talking on Post Abortion Syndrome. Tea and coffee are available at 6.30pm for a prompt 7pm start. The Forum meets at Vaughan House, Francis Street, SW1P 1QN (behind Westminster Cathedral, near Victoria tube station). For those who are interested, there is Mass at Westminster Cathedral at 5.30pm, before the talk

For more information please email Stephen Barrie.

Ealing Abbey Lent Talks

The Parish of St Benedict, Ealing Abbey, is holding a series of Lenten Talks and a Retreat Day as follows:

Thursday 5th March
Br Dominic Taylor OSB

Thursday 12th March
Fr Andrew Wadsworth

Tuesday 17th March
Fr Alexander Master

Tuesday 24th March
Fr Nicholas Schofield
“The Witness of the English Martyrs”

The talks are all at 7.30pm in the Abbey Hall.

Saturday 4th April
Full Day Retreat 10.00am -4.30 pm
“The Spiritual Sense of Scripture, The Cross, Baptism”
Mgr Paul Watson (Director of Maryvale Institute)
(£10.00 including lunch, book through Parish Office 0208 862 2160. Proceeds to Lenten Appeal)

Chiral Capers

An interesting new blog is Chiral Capers (Observations of Japan in matters cultural, photographical and theological.) The blog is placed under the patronage of the Sancti and Beati of the Order of Preachers.

The author, Robert Bautista is an undergraduate student of science and international studies at the University of Technology, Sydney and has been sent to study at Yamanashi in central Japan for a year, to conduct a cultural immersion and research programme. At his blog, he intends to document his experiences with a special emphasis on the state of the Catholic Faithful in Japan. He does not leave until 1 April but in the meantime will post items of interest related to the Church in Japan.

The photo above is from Japan Catholic News and shows pilgrims at Shiroyama Catholic Church. This is from a collection of photos from the beatification of Peter Kibe and 187 other Japanese martyrs at Nagasaki last November.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Families at Stations

In my parish, we have Stations of the Cross every Friday evening in Lent. One year I noticed a young lad following me round at each station (our stations are one the wall of the nave so most people just stay in their place as I go round - this is OK for the indulgence.)

After a couple of weeks, I invited him to serve, I don't normally allow servers to start until they have made their first Communion but if they turn up for Stations or Benediction, I stretch a point. Things have gathered apace. This evening, we had three new young servers (soon to make first Communion) who tagged along with the older ones, keeping their hands joined reverently throughout.

Afterwards we had a little practice, going through how to genuflect together and then kneel down in unison. Brick by brick...

Never to be equated with any other ordinary activity of the day

Thanks to NLM for publicising the address of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship) to the Gateway Conference at Saint Louis USA last November. This quotation stood out for me:
The true ars celebrandi thus requires from all, first and foremost, a sense of profound faith and veneration toward the nobility and celestial dignity of all liturgical acts that are to be celebrated. A sense of awe at what is being done requires one to be cultivated in the way the surroundings of the celebration are handled in its preparation, its celebration, and even in the atmosphere that follows from this. These are never to be equated with any other ordinary activity of the day. These inner spiritual dispositions, as well as the co-natural physical postures, gestures and actions, should be fostered even before any such celebration begins. A silent and prayerful atmosphere should be cultivated in the Church as a preparatory posture; the celebrants should be seen by the faithful at personal prayer at the altar before such celebrations even begin; this would stimulate the faithful, to, in turn, be recollected and prayerful. The noble and prayerful way of vesting in the sacristy, too, becomes important; those vesting prayers should return to the sacristy.

There should be a strong sense of liturgical correctness and dignity in the way the celebrations are carried forward — the piety and intense sense of communion with the Lord and the entire Church which the priest displays in his concentration on what he does at the altar. The moments of silent prayer, and the intense spiritual atmosphere, the feeling of gratitude for the eternal gifts received, in recollected thanksgiving after the celebration, are all part of the powerful language of the presence and action of God in these celebrations.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Gratia ad robur

Today has been busy with us all preparing for the Confirmation Mass. We had 35 young people (a few pictured above) confirmed this evening by Bishop John Hine who stepped in at short notice because Bishop Pat Lynch had to be in Ireland with his mother who is ill (please remember her in your prayers.)

The distinctive grace of the sacrament is the gratia ad robur, grace for strengthening, as the perfection of the grace of Baptism, enabling us to bear witness to the faith - if necessary even unto death.

In my diocese, the custom is for Confirmation to be conferred in year 8 (12-13 years of age) and it was great to see such hope for the Church of the future. Please pray for our youngsters that they will remain firm in their Catholic faith.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Doing something positive for Lent

Gotcha! You all thought I was going to say earnestly that Lent is not about giving things up but about doing something positive. I'm glad to say that this mantra is now becoming part of the recognisably tired corpus of the "reform that has to be reformed." Every year on Ash Wednesday I try to work the point in somewhere that nothing stops us from doing both.

Celebrating Septuagesimatide gives a neat opportunity to preach for three weeks on prayer, fasting, and alsmgiving - these topics can also be related easily enough to the scriptures read in the usus recentior and provide a good lead-in to Lent.

Today, I had three Masses. 10am is our normal time for weekday Mass and there was a good attendance. We also have a 4.15pm Mass on Holydays (although there are none to be celebrated in the week this year according to the "ordinary" calendar) and I do the same on Ash Wednesday; it is a convenient time for parents and children to attend after school. In the evening, we had our Missa Cantata which was also very well attended, Deo gratias. In addition, I call into the junior school late morning to bless and distribute ashes and give a little sermon.

Giving things up is important. Our Lord spoke many times of the need to deny ourselves and take up the cross to follow him. Prayer is essential and we all need to examine our conscience to see where we are failing in this duty, whether by laziness or by a failure to recognise and understand that when we pray, we are asking for an audience with the Most High. He grants this audience whenever we ask - what we need to do is to make ourselves - even if only a little and dimly - aware of Whom it is that we are addressing.

Almsgiving can be extended to all our works of charity; but we also need to see whether we have in fact dented our bank balance a bit by actually giving the folding stuff to Christ in the poor. It is even easier in many cases - we don't even have to thumb out greasy fivers but can write a cheque or tap a few buttons on the keyboard. The key test is whether it hurts just a little bit - whether we give Our Lord something we ourselves would value.

The main point of my preaching today, however, was to follow through the purpose of things. We give things up etc. not to become fitter or more physically healthy but as a penance, a recognition of our sins and a mark of repentance for them. We do this because sin offends Our Lord who loves us and died for us on the Cross. He died to make us happy - for eternity one day in heaven, but also in this life by giving us that peace and deep-seated joy that the Saints knew even in the midst of appalling tribulations.

I am humbled and inspired by the generosity of young bloggers in their penances each Lent. May God bless you and grant you an abundance of grace in this season of penance.

Readers' ingenuity

A couple of light hearted items from readers:

Peter, over at the German Echo Romeo blog has painted this cartoon for me:

And in response to the request for captions to the photo of myself and Mgr Wach, Vincenzo has done his stuff with this photoshopped version:

Tablet publicity spinoffs

Damian Thompson has very kindly arranged an appeal for me to defray the cost of purchasing a set of rose vestments for the parish. Any surplus will go towards some silver candlesticks for the Lady Altar. (See: How Holy Smokers can help repair the damage done by the Tablet's nasty article about Fr Tim Finigan's parish). I spent a part of this afternoon in between Masses opening my post and reading various kind and encouraging letters, many of them with donations included. If you want to send something, the cheque should be payable to "Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen" and the postal address is

330a Burnt Oak Lane
DA15 8LW

Sorry I haven't got a parish "Paypal" button yet - I'll try and get that going.

One priest put "Friendly" on the back of the envelope which enclosed the kind letter he sent me - thank you Father. In fact, I have had very few hostile messages either by post or by email. Ah! email. I am about 150 emails behind at the moment but will get around to them all in due course. Thank you all for your support.

Someone has set up a Facebook group and someone else has put up a petition asking the Tablet to apologise (don't hold your breath!)

When the Tablet's publisher wrote to me (and copied to the paper's lawyers) his complaint about my breach of copyright (in quoting the Curti article in full and commenting on it) he invited me to send in a letter to the editor. I have no intention of doing so. If they want a letter, here is the text:
"Dear Ms Pepinster,


Yours etc."
One of the things that attracted me to blogging is that it provides an opportunity to respond to the print media without being edited out. And in fact, despite the polyanna attitude over there at the Klosters, the Catholic blogosphere is not a "tiny conservative world". One of the things I have to thank the Tablet for is a rise in readership of this blog such that I can now post these two statistics for comparison (click to enlarge):

Now add in Fr Z (as many visits in a day as I have per week), DT etc I, etc II, etc III, and others that I have probably missed and the readership is very many times that of the Tablet.

Nevertheless, many thanks to all those who have written in. It will be most interesting to see what is allowed to appear on the Tablet letters page. Having received copies of many letters that have been sent in, I will be publishing a selection of those that do not get past the editor.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Caption competition

Fr Ray Blake has just sent me this photo of myself and Mgr Wach. It looks as though I am rather cross with him. I can assure you I was not.

Caption anyone?

From grave to cradle

Please remember Guy Hawley in your prayers. Aged 55, he died suddenly and I celebrated his funeral Mass today, followed by the burial at Sidcup Cemetery. Please remember his wife and children in your prayers too. While waiting around afterwards for a lift back in Udens undertakers' Rolls Royce, I said a prayer at a few graves I recognised. It is a strange feeling being in a cemetery where I know so many of those who are buried.

I try always to go to Alison Gresley's plot. She died of cancer in 2003 at the age of nine. A short while before she died, she had enough strength to come to the Church for her first Holy Communion. At a day's notice, I phoned up a few people and said "Right! push the boat out, we're having Alison's first Communion tomorrow!" Various mums got on the bush telegraph and really did us proud, even managing to procure some first Communion balloons from somewhere for the lovely reception they put on. Do say a prayer for her mum and dad - the wound of such a loss is never healed in this life.

The Good Counsel Network had booked me for Benediction this afternoon so I had to miss solemn Vespers at the chapel of St John and St Elizabeth with Mgr Wach of the ICKSP. Still, the GCN has to be supported because they are on the front line of helping mothers to keep their babies rather than take the "choice" of abortion which seems so tempting in difficult circumstances. We had some fun after Benediction with Gabby cooking up pancakes and Conor being loaded with penances for ducking out of the task. I had not expected to have any pancakes on this Shrove Tuesday so it was a pleasant surprise. (And Gabby - they were excellent!)

(Note for priests: the Good Counsel Network needs priests who are available from time to time to say Mass in the morning or to give Benediction at 5pm. If you can be available even occasionally, do please contact them on

A short tube ride took me to the Travellers Club in Pall Mall where there was a reception given to celebrate the decree granting pontifical right to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I was very glad to have been able to attend this celebration and meet so many good friends. Fr Martin Edwards was complaining that although he had been saying the old rite far longer than me, he had not had the distinction of being attacked by the Tablet. The Oxford University Newman Society was well represented, and I had the chance to meet many friends from the Latin Mass Society.

Damian Thompson told me of his latest post about the Tablet refusing to print a letter from James MacMillan and it was great to see the Catholic Herald writer Anna Arco.

Mgr Wach was most gracious and I was glad to be able to talk with him at least semi-coherently in French. He had extended a general invitation to visit Gricigliano and pressed this invitation on me personally - I very much hope to find an opportunity to spend a few days with the community.

Archbishop Ranjith promotes reform of the reform

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has written the foreword to a book to be published in September by Roman Catholic Books, "True Development of the Liturgy" by Msgr. Nicola Giampietro.

Catholic World news has a feature on the foreword and NLM has its own piece by Gregor Kollmorgen.

The Archbishop, who is second in charge of the Holy Father's curial dicastery for the Liturgy says:
Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation".
He also encourages us to be
courageous in improving or changing that which was erroneously introduced and which appears to be incompatible with the true dignity of the Liturgy.
Sometimes I am taken to task for saying too much on this blog about the Extraordinary Form and not enough about the newer form of the Mass and how it should be affected by the hermeneutic of continuity. Archbishop Ranjith shows us that the celebration of the newer form needs to be reassessed in the light of tradition, something that I try in a small way to further in my parish.

Vigorous support from Italy

Sorry I haven't time to translate this article but if you read Italian, you will enjoy this blistering exposé of English liberal Catholicism as exemplified by the Tablet. See: In Inghilterra la stampa vicina all’episcopato diffama un sacerdote che applica il motu proprio

Raffaella has linked to the article on her Papa Ratzinger Blog.

Many thanks to these influential Italian blogs for coming out so strongly in support.

Virtual Lenten retreat with the Dominicans

The Dominican Studentate blog, Godzdogz have announced their virtual Lenten Retreat with daily Scriptural reflections, music and videos.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Stations - a favourite devotion

One of my favourite devotions is to make the Stations of the Cross. I even have a set of meditations on the Stations on my mobile phone so that if I am away anywhere and do not have any book of meditations, I can always use them. The saints who wrote on the spiritual life tell us that the passion of Christ is always a worthy subject of meditation and the Stations are a good way of framing such prayer.

Family Publications have recently published two fine pamphlets with the Stations. First of all, there is the shorter set of meditations by Cardinal Newman. These are included in his "Meditations and Devotions" - I have a copy from 1893 which I picked up many years ago as a student. Family Publications have set them out in a fine glossy pamphlet with good illustrations.

A second set is by Fr Dominic Allain, a fellow-columnist for the Catholic Herald. It is a courageous thing for a priest to set out in print his thoughts on the Stations and I felt it was a privilege to read Father's thoughts and prayers. Here is a link to the pamphlet. Once again, this well produced with beautiful illustrations.

The Stations of the Cross should lead us to repent of our sins. One danger with schemes of meditation is that they focus on evils that happen elsewhere in the world and therefore tend to pander to the easy path of tut-tutting over everyone else's sins but our own. Neither of these excellent publications falls into this trap.

Fr Hunwicke's open letter to Fr Finigan

Many thanks to Fr Hunwicke for his friendly and extraordinarily perceptive open letter with an amusing story of the Vicar of Cury and Gunwalloe.

Responding to the Tablet - legally compliant version

Today, bloggers Fr Ray Blake, Jane and I met up at the Ha Ha bar at Victoria for lunch. Fr Blake suprised me at Westminster Cathedral while I was being horrified by the latest issue of the Tablet. Can someone tell me - why is this paper on sale at the Cathedral?

The Tablet have contacted me to say that my fisk of the article "That was not my Mass" was a breach of copyright and would I remove it. The last ditch liberals really do not understand the internet, do they? 

OK, the article is down. Now here is my legally compliant review, with only little bits quoted in accordance with the "fair use" provision, and the rest reported in my own words. (The previous version allowed complete fairness to the author of the article by quoting her words exactly.) Following the Zuhlsdorf convention, at various points, there are my emphases in black and my comments in red. It's a bit ragged in places and you can see the joins - but hey! I'm not spending all night on this nonsense.

I must add a little extra to this revised post from information received. I understand that the Tablet was indeed intending to "have a go" at a parish that offered the usus antiquior. Another Southwark parish was in the crosshairs but mine was set as the target because there were a few parishioners prepared to go on record. I also hear that the Tablet regards the Catholic blogosphere as a "tiny conservative world". As I say - they just don't understand the internet. If you tot up the combined readership of the Catholic blogs which have written on this issue, they have a daily readership far in excess of the Tablet's weekly circulation. One reason for that low circulation is that the Tablet thinks that enforcing copyright on the internet helps their cause. Bwahahaha!

A review and observations on the article "That was not my Mass" by Elena Curti, published in The Tablet.

The heading of this article sets the tone:

... 40 years ago blah blah sentiment reversed... Tridentine rite ... Blackfen ... split the parish

The exordium gets us in the mood: "Each Sunday at around 9.45 a.m." [or earlier - youngsters get there up to an hour before Mass to help prepare] a team at Our Lady of the Rosary, blah blah gold crucifix... candlesticks... flowers... altar cards... old Latin Mass. "Welcome to the parish of Fr Tim Finigan."

Then we hear how Fr Finigan, "step by step", [that is, gradually, with explanations, over a couple of years] introduced the Extraordinary Form and "split the parish." [Ah yes, the "split" - that's a key point of the article - but in fact the vast majority of parishioners just come along to whichever Mass they want, and wonder what all the fuss is about. What hurts them is the bad atmosphere caused by vehement complaining and controversy. This is not helped, of course, by airing it all in the press.]

Elena Curti said:
Between 30 and 40 people no longer attend the church and a similar number have taken their place. [Hmmm. In these suburban parishes, over the course of a year or so, there are at least that number coming and going for all sorts of reasons.]
Elena Curti said:
The row about numbers has become so heated that supporters of Fr Finigan carefully count the numbers attending the Sunday morning old-rite Mass. [We have long counted all the numbers at all the Masses. More recently, the accuracy of these counts has been made an issue. It has been important to counter the claim that the usus antiquior Mass is not well supported. 135 came last Sunday. Total at the four masses, about 550.]
It was said that Bishop Pat Lynch, had been called in to mediate. [Not quite. He was complained to, and generously took time to meet various people and advise on bringing peace in the situation.]

My parish was referred to as "fairly typical" - it still is, in may ways.Much was made of the fact that there are no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, that altar rails have been installed and that the parish priest "makes it clear that he prefers communicants to kneel and to receive the Host on the tongue." [I have passed on the insights of Archbishop Ranjith, Bishop Schneider and others, and mentioned the example of Pope Benedict. As with other matters, this is not about what "I prefer" but about what is best.]

It was mentioned that at the Sunday evening Mass in the new rite, there are no bidding prayers and the congregation is not invited to exchange the sign of peace. [At the other new-rite Sunday Masses, these things are all available.] Then we have the great liberal war cry: "Fr Finigan says the Eucharistic Prayer with his back to the congregation."

A claim was reported that the people who welcome the older form of the Mass are predominantly newcomers living outside the parish. The claim is false.

Then there was some stuff about only "Six parishioners" wanting the "Latin Mass." I have no idea where that number comes from: there are far mor than that. There was also the obligatory use of the word "imposed." The usus antiquior is not imposed on anyone - we have four weekend precept Masses, three of them in English in the novus ordo

Elena Curtie wrote:
The group [nine parishioners] describe feelings of irritation, discomfort and sadness at the changes that have been made. Those who prefer to stand for Communion and receive it in the hand say they feel selfconscious doing so at Fr Finigan’s Masses. [I never do anything to indicate disapproval of someone receiving Holy Communion correctly according to the current norms. Many people have told me of how priests have made difficulties for them receiving on the tongue. As for kneeling when everyone else is standing - well we all know how that goes down.]
Elena Curti also wrote:
Rules introduced include an insistence on silence in the church before and after Mass, [Rules? I periodically ask people not to hold conversations in the Church so that others are left free to pray if they want to. Some people just ignore this.]
It was reported that critics complained that there was little opportunity for parishioners to meet socially after Mass. In fact, whenever I talk about silence in Church, I always affirm the importance of social interaction outside or in the Hall.

Perhaps the most unpleasant part of the article was where Elena Curti said:
There were also complaints about their priest’s refusal to support Cafod, his expenditure on traditional vestments and other clerical garb, the absence of a parish council and failure to account to parishioners how money from the collection plate was being spent.
I consider this to be a cheap shot and address the matter below.

The article then went on to describe how the matter began when Bernard Wynne, a retired management consultant, set out his grievances in an email to me, several other parishioners and, (though this was not mentioned) the Archbishop and the Area Bishop. One email was quoted which is in the public domain and illustrates the problem of understanding that it was necessary for me to address:
“I grew up with the Latin Mass and remember sitting watching men and women saying the Rosary, slyly reading the newspaper or making responses they didn’t really understand. The English Mass made us participants and co-celebrants in the sacrifice of the Mass. The instruction to ‘open the windows and doors’ is one of the most liberating things to happen in the Catholic Church. If you listen carefully you can hear them being shut in Blackfen.”
My response was reported as "a 35 page essay." In fact the emails to which I was responding ran to a total of over 20,000 words and included many misconceptions regarding the Liturgy (such as the above) which I felt it necessary to address. You can read my response here: Sacred and Great.

My address to the LMS was also mentioned - as the real strategy behind all this. I did indeed refer to priests as the "infantry" who needed to overcome "problems and difficulties" over the introduction of the extraordinary form into parishes. One problem would be overcoming the idea that the laity are "co-celebrants" with the priest (a doctrinal error condemned by Pope Pius XII.) The reference to "infantry" was an allusion to the phrase "poor bloody infantry" who are at times attacked by both officers and civilians. This sometimes ring true for parish clergy.

The article correctly represented my opinion, confirmed by other priests with reference to most things that happen in parishes, that there are a few who are very much in favour, a few who are strongly against, and “the substantial majority who simply wonder what Father is doing now”.

Then there was the "stable group" thing. I was reported as "admitting" that there was not a stable group. There certainly is a stable group - what I did not do was to get them to draw up a petition etc. I read SP as allowing the pastor to introduce the usus antiquior for pastoral reasons and felt it was more honest to do just that. (See my post 'If ... but not "only if"'). I think that Cardinal Hoyos supports this position.

Of the parishioners who support the Benedictine project of reform and continuity, one who was quoted, Wendy Kane, a mother of seven-year-old twins was reported as living "just outside the parish boundary". Why mention this? In suburban parishes, many people going to any particular Church will live "just outside the boundary." Wendy said:
“The extraordinary form is not what I grew up with and I never experienced it before. I personally find it a beautiful form of worship.” [And her boys are very eager to start serving as soon as they have made their first Communion, and her husband is being received into the Church this Easter.]
Julia Jones, a 38- year-old teacher was also quoted:
“I have been very moved by the silence and palpable feeling of devotion, especially during the Eucharistic Prayer. I have gained greatly from the experience in only a few months. I really do believe that I have found ‘the pearl of great price’.”
Bishop Lynch was reported as saying that the parish needed to build communion through prayer and social activities so that we have a situation where people respect diversity but can also come together,” he said. [I heartily concur - and many thanks to Bishop Lynch for his tactful interventions at every stage.]

Elena Curti concluded her article:
Some welcome what Fr Finigan is doing. It is equally clear that some do not. If Fr Finigan is right, and the priest’s responsibility for the liturgy in his parish is absolute, [It is not absolute, it is subject to the law of the Church. Pope Benedict more than once pointed out that even the Pope is subject to the tradition of the Church.] there is nothing parishioners can do about it. And there could be many more Blackfens in the future. [I must get a parish anthem going (ouside the Liturgy, of course) - something along the lines of "There's only one Blackfen!"]
Just a note on finances. The bit about vestments and clerical garb (Boo! Hiss!) is, as I said, a cheap shot. It is a part of my responsibility to ensure that there are dignified vestments for the Liturgy. Gradually, over 11 years, I have spent judiciously in accordance with our budget to secure worthy vestments. I have also recovered a substantial quantity of vestments and other liturgical artefacts free of charge from people who did not have any use for them (i.e. might have thrown them out.) "Clerical garb" probably refers to things like my cassock and Ferraiuolo etc. These come out of my own pocket - thankfully, the parishioners as a whole are very generous at Christmas and Easter (significantly more generous this Christmas than usual).

Over the past few years, helped by many parishioners, I have also, among other works, replaced the roof, floor, heating and lighting in the Hall, put in disabled toilets and levelled the entrance, repainted the interior of the Church, replaced the roof on two areas, replaced the guttering, replaced the public address system, put in an industrial spec kitchen in the Club (for the lunch club to provide lunch every week for 40 elderly people without falling foul of health and safety law).

We also raise money regularly for the Bexley Deanery Third World Project, Aid to the Church in Need, the Manna Centre for the Homeless, the Bexley Centre for the Unemployed, the Good Counsel Network, and Cardiac Research in the Young to name but a few. In place of CAFOD, I send our Family Fast Day money to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (which CAFOD is a partner of, I think.) That way, we support the Church's development work without contributing to glossy advertising or a questionable policy on HIV prevention.

Fr Z today quotes a famous remark of Pope Benedict when he read a negative article about him in an Italian daily:
"If I don’t read an article like that every week or so, I have to examine my conscience."
Admirable - but daunting. A man to admire and emulate not only in liturgical matters.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

More thanks to bloggers

This is not my Mass #2 (H/T Paulinus)

Further thanks to bloggers for their kind support:

The Token Catholic (CBF Papist blog)

Dantes nyheter

Christus Vincit (Brian Michael Page)

Torch of the Faith

Traditional Latin Mass in Maryland

All the little epsilons

Sober Inebriation (Michael Tober)

See also a letter from James MacMillan reported on Holy Smoke.

Two Dominican events

I am happy to pass on details of these two events as requested by one of my parishioners who is at university:

Of One Heart and One Mind
A pre-Lent day of reflection with the Dominican Sisters
Saturday 28th February, 10 am - 5 pm
At St Dominic's Convent, Montpelier Avenue, Ealing, London, W5 2XP
Contact Sr Ann Catherine Swailes OP

Our Lady in Lent
Reflective study with St Thomas Aquinas
Friday eve March 20th - Sunday midday March 22nd
At St Dominic's Convent, Station Road, Stone, Stafforshire, ST15 8EN
Talks by Fr Aidan Nichols OP and discussion with Sr Valery Walker OP
Suggested donation £40
Contact Sr Valery Walker OP

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Blessed Noel Pinot

Jane Teresa of the blog My heart was restless passed on to me the story of a martyr priest from the time of the French Revolution who went to his death on this day in 1794. He refused to take the oath of allegiance to the "Civil Constitution of the Clergy", a law passed by the Constituent Assembly of the Revolution which subjected the Church to the civil government.

Many priests and religious understandably fled the country and did great work elsewhere - including the USA. A brave few actually stayed on to minister to their flock - among them Blessed Noel Pinot. After refusing to take the oath he had to go into hiding but he came back publicly after the initial success of the rising in the Vendée.

During the brutal suppression of the rising (with atrocities amounting to genocide) Fr Pinot was captured while fully vested for Mass. He was dragged through the streets to the jeers of hostile spectators and soldiers and thrown into prison. After twelve days, he was sentenced to death for refusing to take the oath.

He went to the guillotine still vested for Mass and repeatedly praying the words that begin the Mass: "Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam.

Whenever we suffer, we should always remember that our trials are puny compared to those of the heroic martyrs of the faith.

Further thanks to bloggers

This is not my Mass (#1)

In addition to those I listed yesterday, I would like to thank the following bloggers for their supportive posts:

In Hoc Signo Vinces (Paulinus) to whom H/T for the above photo: he promises us further examples.

Young Catholic Adults (Damian)

Suffering World (Athanasius)

Monty Mark

Catholic and Loving It (James Preece)

Owl of the Remove

The Traditional Latin Mass in Michiana (David A. Werling)

Blogging Lourdes (Father George)

My heart was restless (Jane Teresa)

Catholic Truth Scotland

Friday, 20 February 2009

Thank you, bloggers

Many thanks to Damian for his humorous post on Holy Smoke today featuring the above video.

I thought it would do well as a header for this post in which I want to thank all those who have written about the article in the current issue of the Tablet which I responded to yesterday. So many very kind things have been said, many thoughtful points added to the discussion and a good dose of humour. The support of the Catholic blogosphere has been quite overwhelming and I am deeply grateful. Tomorrow, I will be in Oxford so I will be saying a private Mass early. I will offer it for all of your intentions.

Thanks to fellow bloggers are best given in links so here goes - first of all links to articles from blogs listed in the sidebar:

Holy Smoke (Damian Thompson)

What Does The Prayer Really Say? (Fr Z)

New Liturgical Movement (Shawn Tribe)

Curt Jester (Jeff Miller)

Catholic Church Conservation (Gillibrand)

St Mary Magdalen, Brighton (Fr Ray Blake)

Mulier Fortis (Mac McLernon)

Muniment Room (Ttony)

Bara Brith (Leutgeb)

Catholic Action UK

The Sensible Bond (Ches)

That the bones you have crushed may thrill (Laurence England)

Pellegrinaggio: Crossing the Ponte Sisto

Valle Adurni (Fr Sean Finnegan)

Forest Murmurs (Fr Michael Brown)

Standing on my Head (Fr Dwight Longenecker)

Fr Mildew (Fr Michael Clifton)

Vultus Christi (Father Mark)

Friends with Christ (Fr Richard Aladics)

Fr Anthony Ho

Australia Incognita (Terra)

Summorum (Helsinki)

And some that were not on the blogroll before:

True confessions of a Prodigal Daughter (Mary Rose Maguire)

Sancte Pater (Vincenzo)

Te Deum Laudamus (Diane M. Korzeniewski)

DaTechguy's Blog

LMS Middlesborough

Opinionated Catholic (James H)

If I have missed anyone out, or made any errors in the links, please let me know.

A word of thanks

As of writing, I have received 129 comments on the "Responding to the Tablet" post. They have all been kind and encouraging. I have also received many emails in the same vein. Your support is very much appreciated. Sir Dan "blog reader extraordinaire" has just left me a phone message listing all the blogs that he has read with supportive posts and so I will now have a look through those.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Responding to the Tablet


The Tablet have asked me to remove this post because it is a breach of copyright for me to quote their article in full while commenting on it.

A new copyright-compliant version is available at the post: Responding to the Tablet - legally compliant version

It is hilarious to see the Tablet failing utterly to grasp the concept of publishing on the internet.

Archbishop Gallagher to Guatemala

Today's Vatican Bollettino announces that the English Archbishop, Paul Gallagher, until now Apostolic Nuncio in Burindi, has been appointed as Apostolic Nuncio in Guatemala.

Last April, his residence in Burundi was mortared (probably not as a deliberate target) while he was out of the country. He made arrangements to return immediately to his post regardless of the danger.

Please join me in praying for Archbishop Gallagher in his new appointment.

Public speaking classes - students outraging their teachers

Public speaking classes have always been an opportunity for students to propose opinions that may be subversive or unacceptable to the authorities. It seems now that among the most subversive position for students to promote is that of being pro-life and pro-family.

Twelve year old Lia gave a cracking speech for a competition at her school in Toronto, beginning:
What if I told you that right now, someone was choosing if you were going to live or die? What if I told you that this choice wasn't based on what you could or couldn't do, what you'd done in the past or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you, you could do nothing about it?
Here is a video of the speech which has so far had 235,082 views:

Lia was threatened with disqualification for speaking against abortion. Although she was obviously the winner, she was in fact disqualified "because of the topic and her position on abortion." After one judge stepped down, the decision was reversed. (See: World Net Daily: 12-year-old steals day with pro-life speech.)

News has also come to public attention of a speech given at Los Angeles Community College (LACC) by Jonathan Lopez. He committed the heinous offence of speaking about the value of marriage and about his Christian faith in a public speaking class.

Professor John Matteson allegedly interrupted his speech to call him a "fascist bastard" (was the professor an undergraduate with "The Young Ones"?) and, despite giving some high marks, wrote “ask God what your grade is.”

Pope Benedict's book "Truth and Tolerance" becomes more relevant every day...

Latest issue of Faith Magazine now online

All the articles from the January-February issue of Faith Magazine are now available online (free of charge). There are a couple of interesting and provocative articles on Thomism, an excellent piece by Fr Marcus Holden on Pope Benedict XVI and the Reform of Biblical Exegesis and much more.

If you want to get a printed copy, you can subscribe online. (The Magazine is currently running a special offer for subscribers from the USA.)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Nancy Pelosi and the Pope

Last August, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives made a statement dredging up the tired old nonsense about about how some theologians 500 years ago did not know about the development of the unborn child and therefore speculated on the time at which the soul was infused. As I pointed out back then, none of this has anything to do with the morality of abortion since all the said theologians were resolutely against abortion at any stage.

Several US Bishops came out with statements correcting the misconceptions given by Pelosi and there followed an excellent fact sheet from the US Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities giving a concise and helpful answer to Pelosi's contention that the church's teaching on abortion has changed or is of recent origin.

Today, Mrs Pelosi briefly met the Holy Father, following which the Press Office of the Holy See published this communiqué:
Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.
Damian covers this with the title "Benedict XVI: the recovery begins as Pope slaps down the ghastly Nancy Pelosi"

National Review Online offers an amusing fictional account of what might have happened at the audience: Speaker in Rome.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Radio 4 "Beyond Belief" discusses SSPX

Alcuin Reid was on Radio 4's "Beyond Belief" programme broadcast yesterday. The subject was the lifting of the SSPX excommunications and its various implications.

He was put in a contest against two opponents and came out of it very well. There is much in the piece about Vatican II and Alcuin manages to give some good clarification under fire about the different levels of assent required for different kinds of documents. Since I am sometimes rather negative about the BBC, I should say that the presenter, Ernie Rea, was quite fair and balanced.

Heartfelt thanks

My inbox has been deluged with many kind messages and I have tried to reply briefly to everyone but please excuse me if I have missed anyone out. Thank you very much for your encouragement and thanks to all of you who have commented so supportively on the post Parish dispute "goes loud". I'm away again tomorrow, have appointments all day Thursday, am teaching at Parkminster on Friday and giving a talk at the Linacre Conference in Oxford on Saturday - but I'll try to keep up in various spare moments!

Learning about St Aloysius during some time off

As this week is the seminary and school half-term holiday, I managed to get away for a couple of days to Bruges, one of my favourite European cities. With the new station at Ebbsfleet only 20 minutes away by car, I can be there in a few hours via Eurostar.

There are several Churches open during the day and I enjoy walking from one to another, saying some of the office in each one. The Church of St Elizabeth at the Beguinage is the quietest, but the Cathedral of Sint Salvator and the Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) have little chapels set aside for prayer as well as boasting some wonderful works of sacred art. Then there is the Basilica of the Holy Blood where the relic can be venerated each day. (In English, we would normally refer to the "Precious Blood" but "Holy Blood" seems to be the official designation.) On this visit, I enrolled into the "Pious Society of the Most Precious Blood."

Over meals and stops for coffee, I have been reading the life of St Aloysius Gonzaga by Fr Maurice Meschler. C C Martindale, in his introduction to the 1911 edition remarks that the life and character of St Aloysius have proved unattractive, "especially to English boys" and says:
This may be due in large measure to the unfortunate tendency of modern iconography to soften his extremely marked features into a conventional regularity, and to impart to his representations a languishing air wholly out of keeping with his ardent and masculine personality.
Thomas Nelson in his introduction to the TAN edition put it more bluntly, suggesting that St Aloysius might appear to us as
a namby-pamby, goodie-goodie, pampered and sickly little softie.
In fact, St Aloysius had to endure great psychological pressure from his family, and especially his father, who was horrified that he would throw up his (very considerable) worldly position to become a Jesuit. His mother took consolation from supposing (correctly) that his Jesuit superiors would order him under obedience to moderate the physical penances that he imposed on himself. His interior mortification was even more heroic, made all the more impressive by the fact that he was constantly plagued by the attention of people who knew his former worldly standing.

St Aloysius is invoked as the patron of Christian youth and deserves a reappraisal. As a hero of single-minded and determined devotion to Christ, he has much to teach all of us, but especially the young who wish to do great things for Our Lord.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Parish dispute "goes loud"

In late October, one of my parishioners sent an email to various others, including myself, the Archbishop and the Area Bishop, complaining about various aspects of the Liturgy as celebrated at Blackfen. The discussion rather took off and many different points were raised over a lengthy exchange of emails that became difficult to keep track of.

Eventually, in the midst of preparations for Christmas, I circulated a paper ("Sacred and Great") that I wrote in an attempt to help people to understand the nature of the Liturgy and its development, and to counteract misunderstandings about the Liturgy.

Bishop Pat Lynch (the local area Bishop) was very helpful and, after Christmas, met with those who were unhappy as well as with a small group of those who like the usus antiquior and those who are neutral but don't see any problem in having it as part of parish life.

I had thought that things had calmed down a bit, but last Thursday, Elena Curti of the Tablet was waiting for me after Mass to speak to me about the "split" in my parish. That day, unfortunately, I had commitments all day until 10pm and was not able to talk at length but she went to meet some of those who were unhappy (and who had initiated this contact) and we arranged a phone call for Friday, when we spoke for half an hour or so. Elena asked me later for some contacts who might be sympathetic to the Liturgical practice in the parish.

So by Sunday, quite a lot of people now knew about the impending article. After Mass, I took off for a couple of days break I had planned a while back (first day off since Christmas) and by the time I got to my destination, there was a text message telling me that it had all "gone loud" as they say. See:

Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) Is the Tablet planning a hatchet job on Fr Tim Finigan?
Fr Z (What Does the Prayer Really Say?) Is The Tablet declaring war?

Reading those posts and associated comments, I am deeply grateful for the expressions of kindness and support as well as the many emails that I have received from journalists and others round the world. Please pray for my parish and for all the parishioners that we can live peaceably with the different forms of the Liturgy that the Church allows.

(Just one small clarification: I do not say four Masses on Sunday; I have one Saturday evening Mass and three on Sunday. Therefore I can say all these Masses without infringing canon law. In fact, I usually have a supply priest to say one of the English Masses.)

The paper Sacred and Great, as is obvious from some of the particular refereces to Blackfen, was originally written for parishioners and therefore I have not made it publicly available before. I was intending to edit out some of the local references and expand it for publication as a small book - and will do this when time permits. However, now that others have gone to the press, (and indeed made my paper available to the Tablet) there is no longer any reason not to let my readers have it. I hope that you will like the paper and find it helpful. (Feel free to link to it, quote it etc.)

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Mens concordet voci

The other day at our Deanery meeting, I was not sure whether the priest whose turn it was to lead the prayers would be able to come. He was in fact, but I prepared some just in case. We usually have a short reading from some suitable book and so I trawled "Priests of Jesus Christ" edited by Fr Gerard Skinner, and published by Family Publications. The book is a selection of various addresses and writings of the Holy Father on the priesthood.

The following quotation is not the one that I was going to use but it struck me as one of those points which the Holy Father makes so simply and well. (The phrase mens concordet voci could be translated as "let the heart/mind be in accord with the voice.") Speaking of the priest celebrating Mass, he says:
He is in a conversation with God because the texts of Holy Mass are not theatrical scripts or anything like them, but prayers, thanks to which, together with the assembly, I speak to God.

It is important, therefore, to enter into this conversation. St Benedict in his "Rule" tells the monks, speaking of the recitation of the Psalms, "Mens concordet voci". The vox, words, precede our mind. This is not usually the case: one has to think first, then one's thought becomes words. But here, the words come first. The sacred Liturgy gives us the words; we must enter into these words, find a harmony with this reality that precedes us.

Day With Mary 09 at Blackfen

Climbing up a step-ladder in a cope is one of the more challenging liturgical feats but it was necessary today in order to crown the statue of Our Lady of Fatima brought by the "Day With Mary" team. After processing round the streets saying the Rosary, we returned to the Church for Mass.

The policy of the "Day With Mary" is to accept the direction of the local parish priest as to whichform the Mass is in - Saturday morning is one of our two regular weekly Masses in teh usus antiquior and the Sisters of the Immaculate were happy to sing the Salve Sancta Parens Mass together with the Missa cum Iubilo. We borrowed a fine set of Marian vestments for the day.

Fr Agnellus FI took care of the Blessed Sacrament Procession and Benediction in the afternoon - I assisted him for Benediction, climbing the step-ladder to fetch down the monstrance only without cope this time.

Today's Day With Mary was our best attended ever, with a full Church for much of the Day. It is a great blessing for the parish to have this powerful day of devotion and prayer and to renew the consecration of the parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Many thanks to the Mulier Fortis for the photos - there are more at her blog, together with her own account of the day.

At the breaks for lunch and tea, there is a large bookstall filled mainly with TAN books. Of these, I got a short life of St Catherine of Siena to read on the train tomorrow afternoon, a rather longer life of St Aloysius Gonzaga and Mgr George Moorman's "The Latin Mass Explained" which is an introduction to the Traditional Latin Mass. The title is slightly irritating (the typical edition of the newer form is Latin) but if we can let that go for the moment, it looks to be a very helpful book for those who want to find out more.

A booklet that I have passed over several times is Very Rev Joseph Simler's "Catechism of Mental Prayer." I read this over a cup of tea this afternoon and found it to be very good. I heartily recommend it to anyone who would like to begin the practice of mental prayer or meditation. It would also be very helpful to anyone whose spiritual formation neglected the common teaching of the saints and spiritual doctors. In a 62 page pamphlet, it gives a good, practical and accurate summary of what must otherwise be quarried from many different books.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Novena of Prayer for Pope Benedict

Fr Jean-Claude Selvini has kindly drawn my attention to the Novena of Prayer for Pope Benedict, published (in French) at the website of the FSSP in France. Father has also done a translation and a leaflet for his parishioners which I will also be making available. Here is a link to it on Scribd:

Novena of Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI

For he is like a refiner's fire...

Not musically knowledgeable, I came to love the Christopher Hogwood rendition of the Messiah thanks to gentle tuition from those better versed. Seeing this clip at Cathcon, I am glad to have recognised its purity and quality:

Emma Kirkby is the Soprano. Conductor is Christopher Hogwood: The Academy of Ancient Music. Sublime!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

French Bishops sign petition in support of Pope Benedict

Last week, I mentioned the Letter in Support of Pope Benedict. It is most interesting to see in this NLM story that three French Bishops have signed the Letter: Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, Bishop André Fort of Orléans, and Bishop Marc Aillet of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron.

The petition currently has 41,247 signatures. If you haven't already done so, Sign Up Now!

New wheels for the Sisters

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life have put out An appeal. They need transport to deliver baby items around the place to mothers they help in their excellent work but their van blew up and they had to get another motor. A friend loaned them the money to get on the road again but they need funds to repay the debt. I'll send some wonga - so go on, get out yer cheque book!

Cheques to:
"The Cardinal Winning Pro-Life Initiative"

Send to:
Sisters of the Gospel of Life
106 Dixon Ave
G42 8EL

UPDATE - The Sisters also have a button on their site for donations via paypal.

The Sisters are very polite and understanding. They recognise that these are difficult times and say, "Please feel under no pressure to give." You hear that? These are nice understanding sisters.

Don't expect the same niceness here. Feel under plenty of pressure to give. Now. And don't be stingy - or I'll send the boys round.

Heroic midwife of Auschwitz

At Seattle Catholic, you can read the story by Matthew Anger of the heroic midwife of Auschwitz, Stanislawa Leszczynska. The conditions under which mothers had to give birth were quite horrific and babies were routinely drowned in a barrel after being born:
These operations were performed by Schwester [sister] Klara, a German midwife who was imprisoned for infanticide. "As a Berufsverbrecherin (one guilty of occupational crime), and thus forbidden to practice her profession," says Stanislawa, "she was entrusted with a function to which she was more suited."
The heroic midwife, at the risk of her life, refused to participate in the infanticide. Instead, she offered care for the women as far as she could in the appalling conditions in which she worked, and made sure that the children were baptised. Few of them survived very long. On one occasion, she faced down the infamou Dr Mengele who shouted at her that "Orders are orders!"

The words of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae have a striking relevance to the story of Stanislawa Leszczynska:
Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10).

In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it".
The cause for the canonisation of Stanislawa Leszczynska has been introduced by the diocese of Łódź in Poland. She is very much a pro-life heroine and I hope that she will become widely known in the pro-life movement.

Martin Mosebach on SSPX reconciliation

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for the link to a translation of Martin Mosebach's recent article in Der Spiegel: The Body of the Church. Why the Pope Had to Do What He Did. The translation is provided by Stuart Chessman of The Society of St Hugh of Cluny blog over in Connecticut.

Moseach, author of "The Heresy of Formlessness", makes an interesting point about the role of the SSPX in preserving the Liturgy of the Church. Usually, people point out that the dispute with the SSPX is "not just about liturgy" but about Vatican II, religious freedom, ecumenism, or the Catholic state. Nevertheless, it is true that the most distinctive feature of the SSPX is its preservation of the traditional liturgy. Mosebach asks,
Must he [Pope Benedict] not, however, have felt a sense obligation to the SSPX; that, for all its faults, it had become an instrument for preserving the Holy of Holies of the Church in a time of crisis? Whether the SSPX succeeds in finding a place in the multiplicity of the present day Church remains to be seen. Its historic mission, in any case, has been concluded.
The whole article is worth reading for its intelligent analysis of the present situation.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Seminarians killed in avalanche

The sad news has come through today that three third year seminarians of the Society of St Pius X were killed today in an avalanche while walking in the Swiss mountains. A fourth was rescued and taken by helicopter to hospital.

Abbé Christian Thouvenot asks for prayers for the repose of their souls and prayers for their families and for their confreres at the seminary community.

CTS pamphlets on the Mass

Recently the Catholic Truth Society sent me the new pamphlets that they have published - an excellent variety of titles that can be seen on the Latest Products page of the CTS website. I have read a few of them and look forward to reading the rest.

A significant addition to the catalogue is a pamphlet with the order of Mass for the extraordinary form in Latin and English. This comes in two versions: a normal pamphlet style with colour cover featuring an illustration from the book of hours of the Duc de Berry (£1.95), and a black leatherette bound edition with ribbon marker (£4.95). After the text of the Mass, the prayer for the Queen, the Leonine prayers and some private prayers of thanksgiving are included, as well as a list of references to the scripture readings for the Sundays of the year.

A companion pamphlet is Fr Richard Whinder's "The Extraordinary form of the Mass Explained." This is a very well thought-out introduction to the usus antiquior, beginning appropriately with an explanation that gives the context of Summorum Pontificum, explaining that it is not simply about reconciling the SSPX or about meeting the needs of a minority but the fruit of a desire for interior reconciliation at the heart of the Church, promoting an understanding of the Sacred Liturgy in continuity with the tradition of the Church.

To attempt an overview of the history of the Roman rite within the confines of a short pamphlet is an ambitious task but Fr Whinder has accomplished it with great skill, offering a balanced and accurate summary. The third part of the pamphlet gives an outline of the extraordinary form of the Mass and would be helpful for anyone who is becoming familiar with the old rite.

It is good to see the CTS carry these titles in their list along with the lives of the Saints, texts from Pope Benedict, "CTS explanations" and devotional titles. It helps to place the older form of the Mass as a part of the daily life of the Church - "brik by brick" as Fr Z would say.

Fr Whinder has certainly been busy - the new CTS collection also includes another title by him: "Sacramentals. Explaining Actions, Signs and Objects that Catholics use." The introduction gives a good and theologically sound introduction to what sacramentals are, and then the main part of the text explains different sacramental objects and actions that are commonly in use. This pamphlet would be very helpful for those who are under instruction; in the desire to cover the necessary doctrine, we can sometimes skim over the sacramentals which people find a very attractive element of Catholic life.

First experience of the old Mass

Richard Marsden has posted an article about the party on Saturday. At the morning Mass, he had his first experience of the usus antiquior and it is interesting to read his reflections: summed up in the phrase "there was no faffing about".

He says:
I thought the best plan of action was to just sit at the back, observe and join in with the Latin I knew, without trying to flick around in the booklet to follow it.
I think that this is a good approach for anyone who is new to the older form of the Mass: you can look through a booklet or missal later when you are a little more used to what is going on.

(See: The Hermeneutic's Party)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Great video in support of life

H/T to Fr Ray Blake for this family video which powerfully illustrates the value of a thbe life of a little girl with trisomy. The doctors said it would be blessing if she died. The family's love shows that it was a blessing that she was allowed to live and that "God doesn't make mistakes."

Catholic Mom of 10 deleted

I was very sorry to hear from Jackie Parkes that she has, for personal reasons, deleted her blogs. Jackie did some great service as a blogger, campaigning for the family, for chastity and in support of the great work of the Birmingham Oratory.

"The paths of hope are opened"

Rorate Caeli reports on an interview given by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to the RCN RAdio Network of Colombia. Here is a link to a report of the interview (in Spanish).

His Eminence reiterated that any honest man would reject viscerally what happened in the holocaust, that he personally rejected it and agreed with the Church that we should never forget, so that humanity never repeats these atrocities.

He also spoke of how the Holy Father wanted the Church to move forward to ensure that the unity of the Church be rebuilt, and added:
"[W]hat is important at this moment is that the Pope has stopped a schism. The charity that Christ wanted to exist in the Church has been remarkably reestablished, and paths of hope are opened."
For the record, Bishop Williamson has been removed by the SSPX from his post as Rector of the Seminary of La Reja in Argentina.
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