Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ordinariate reception at Westminster


The Catholic Herald and the Friends of the Ordinariate hosted a reception this evening in the throne room of Archbishop’s House, Westminster. Priests and laity who are friends from many different apostolates were gathered to support and encourage this generous provision of Pope Benedict in the cause of Christian unity.

Ordinariate reception 027

I was glad of the chance to have a chat with Luke Coppen, Editor of the Catholic Herald. We normally correspond very briefly by email each week when I send in my article and he is busy getting the paper together, so it is always good to hear how the paper is getting on.

Mgr Keith Newton spoke warmly of the support that the Ordinariate had received, and made a heartfelt appeal for that financial assistance that is urgently needed. Cardinal Levada was present and explained something of the background of the Ordinariate and its importance to the Holy Father.

Ordinariate reception 034

It was something of a mini blognic at the same time with Fr Ray Blake, Fr Sean Finnegan and Joanna Bogle – and I guess probably some others as well. I took my camera with me and got a photo of Fr Ray with Mgr Newton who greeted us very warmly and thanked us for the support that bloggers have given to the Ordinariate.

I managed to get a photo with Cardinal Levada:

Ordinariate reception 028

If you are able to help the Ordinariate financially, please contact:

The Administrator
Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
19 Spencelayh Close

(The photos on this post are my own. The great Mazur was there and so I expect that the Flickr photostream for the Catholic Church in England and Wales will have some fine photos on show sometime tomorrow.)

A busy week

This week is rather busy. I was teaching at Wonersh on Monday morning, spent some time there working on one of the talks that I have to give, travelled over to celebrate Mass at the house of Simon and Margaret-Mary Fitzgerald - it was a good opportunity to catch up with Daphne McLeod and others.

Yesterday I was at Parkminster in the early afternoon and then in Belgravia for the Inn Catholics for whom I was speaking on the theology of the Sacrament of Penance. That went on a bit later than expected because the pub had double-booked the room we were supposed to be using and we had to walk to another pub where they had a room spare.

This morning I was at Amigo House, next to St George's Cathedral for the Council of Priests meeting. We always routinely moan about these meetings but actually it is a good opportunity to get together with other priests from the diocese. At the end of the meeting, I raised the question of whether we should start thinking about some formal reception or other gesture of welcome to the Society of St Pius X in the event that the negotiations with the Holy See are successful and they have a regular canonical status. (We do have three Mass centres in the Archdiocese of Southwark.) The words "balloon" and "lead" came to mind but that may be unfair of me. I did have one or two interesting conversations over lunch.

This afternoon, conveniently as I am already up in town, I'll be going to the reception organised by the Catholic Herald and the Friends of the Ordinariate. Cardinal Levada will be there and I expect there will be many familiar faces.

Tomorrow morning I have a funeral (please remember David and his family in your prayers) and then it is off to somewhere in Berkshire for the Faith Priests Study Day. I'll be speaking on Friday morning on the new (corrected) translation.

A week like this does mean that I run the danger of getting behind with email so do bear with me. I am looking forward to seeing some of you at the meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma on Saturday at Blackfen.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A blog on the daily battle

For an example of the philosophical problems that can arise when teaching catechism to toddlers, see: Toddler Catechism Fail. The author, Annie Elizabeth is the latest of my parishioners to start blogging and a find blog it is too (défende nos in proélio.) There are hilarious and heartwarming stories of the day to day business of bringing up children. For another chuckle, see Who says traditional habits aren't cool?.

 These posts are light entertainment among other substantial articles which offer analysis especially on pro-life issues. Worth a place on your blogroll.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mass for success of SSPX negotiations

Rorate Caeli reports that the superiors of the Society of St Pius X are to discuss the "Doctrinal Preamble" at their Italian District Headquarters in Albano from 7-8 October. I was delighted to read this, since 7 October is the patronal feast of my parish.

Thankfully I do not have a Mass intention booked for the evening High Mass and so I will make the intention of offering the fruits of that Mass into the hands of Our Lady of the Rosary that her prayers in heaven will bring about that speedy, charitable, and just resolution of the juridical status of the Society which is so desired by the Holy Father.

We must be patient, but I dare to hope that the fact that the meeting is at Albano, and therefore only a few miles from Rome, means that perhaps the superiors of the Society may be in a position to communicate a positive response to the Holy See with the minimum inconvenience.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Niamh Moloney stands up for embryos

If you don't know the name, you may remember the banner "We Love You Papa More than Beans on Toast" at the Papal Visit a year ago. That was Niamh Moloney who is not only a dab hand at brilliant PR stunts in support of the Holy Father but also an active pro-lifer. She got onto the "4Thought" slot on Channel 4 where you get 90 seconds to get across a point of view. Niamh defends the rights of embryos. Here is a link to watch the video.

H/T John Smeaton, SPUC Director

Fr Ray Blake under fire

Fr Ray Blake recently had a threatening communication from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement in Brighton over his recent post on The Illiberality of a Local MP who proposed that Churches should not be allowed to conduct any marriages unless they agree to conduct gay marriages, and his post Cameron pushes children out of marriage where he looks at the nature of marriage with reference to the Prime Minister's recent announcement that he intends to legalise gay marriage.

If you read the posts, you will see that they are sensibly expressed with no surprises and nothing intemperate. Look at the comments too - a normal set of comments expressing support and adding one or two things.

This perfectly balanced treatment of important issues is characterised as inflammatory, inciting hatred, hostile, prejudiced, defamatory, and likely to put people's lives at risk. Hence the LGCM thinks his blog should be shut down and is writing to his Bishop. Ironically, they also accuse him of bullying.

The problem is that many people do not read blogs but have a vague idea that they are rather dangerous. I once had a conversation with a child about new technology and she said that they weren’t online at home because “My Mum’s a bit frightened of the internet.” I recently mentioned the meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma for Catholic bloggers at a church-related meeting and rather felt that it would have made a better impression if I said that I was organising a parish cage-fighting day.

This makes it easy for the passive aggressive brigade (“You’ve hurt my feelings and made me cry so you should be strung up with piano wire”) to create the impression that a blogger is an evil genius who secretly fosters fear and destruction in the homes of middle England.

Fr Ray is a decent, hard-working priest who ministers indefatigably and with great charity to the people of Brighton – and that includes the many gay people whom he encounters in his normal pastoral work. His blog is a solace to many and a mine of information and sensible comment. I sincerely hope that he is not put off his internet apostolate by this intimidation.

He has had over 100 supportive comments so far. Another few won't do any harm. Go to: Hatred?

Parish Feast Day coming up

Friday 7 October is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and therefore the patronal feast of my parish. We'll be having High Mass at 8pm (as well as English Mass in the morning and school Mass in the afternoon.)

Cantores Missae will be singing the following:

  • Mass setting: Victoria: Missa Simile est Regnum
  • Motets: Guerrero: Sancta Maria — Byrd: Ave Verum — Schubert: Salve Regina

Do come along if you can. This year, I thought that I would try a new angle by encouraging people to bring non-Catholic friends to the Mass to hear beautiful music sung for the purpose for which it was composed (the worship of God) and in the setting for which it was composed (High Mass.)

You can gain a plenary indulgence (under the usual conditions) even for just visiting the Church on 7 October and reciting the Pater and Credo. This applies to any parish Church on its titular solemnity.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Theology of the Body resources from Fr Sam Medley

TF-JP2-1Fr Sam Medley has been in touch with some resources following on from his presentation to the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life (APGL) on Wednesday.

First of all, here is the text of the first paper that he gave: Introduction and Overview of the Theology of the Body. I have just downloaded it so as to be able to read it through carefully in a quiet half hour. I do recommend it to you. (The second lecture was a more informal and personal talk, so there is not a text for that. We may be able to put an mp3 online some time.)

Father also spoke of the presentation of the Theology of the Body on the Street Level which was conducted for the diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas. This includes video, audio, and powerpoint notes.

Another project was the Love and Responsibility Discussion Group which took place in a coffee shop and proved very popular with university students.

Blessed Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body has not been well served by sensationalist presentations that have put off many orthodox and traditional Catholics. There is much still to be rediscovered in his profound reflections on our created masculinity and femininity, on marriage, celibacy and the Christian concept of love. Fr Sam is doing some sterling work in promoting this development in theology.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Enjoying the benefit of the restored St Patrick's, Soho Square

APGL day 007

We end our APGL Study Days with the Rosary and Benediction. I ask one of the priests to hear confessions during the Rosary, something that is often forgotten about on events arranged for clergy. Today we were able to use the Church of St Patrick in Soho Square. Here is the fine, restored confessional that was used today:

APGL day 008

In April, I wrote about the transformation that was taking place at St Patrick's in the heart of Soho with some photos of work in progress but near to completion. All the work has now been finished: the formal opening took place in May, and it is now in full use for the many activities that take place in this thriving central London parish under the care of Fr Alexander Sherbrooke.

The Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Church for adoration all afternoon during the week, so we were able to say the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament and then have short Benediction.

APGL day 009

A special feature of the Church is that it houses the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is not just any copy: the shrine wished there to be an image in every country in the world that had been faithfully reproduced and had touched the original tilma of St Juan Diego. Our image is at St Patrick's and has been thoughtfully placed in the Baptistery, linking the sanctity of human life with the sacrament of rebirth in Baptism:

APGL day 012

Fr Sam Medley speaks to priests on the Theology of the Body

Fr Sam Medley
Fr Sam Medley SOLT spoke to the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life today on the theology of the Body of Blessed Pope John Paul. He spoke with eloquence and erudition, making for one of those days when you go away knowing more than you did when you arrive (a useful success criterion for priests' Study Days, I think.)

The first lecture looked at the philosophical and theological influences in Blessed Pope John Paul's life, at the structure and principal topics of the Theology of the Body General Audience addresses, and the impact that this development can have in pastoral life. Fr Medley also addressed the concerns that priests have about the presentation of the theology of the body in which inappropriate images are used such as describing the Song of Songs as the "centerfold" of the bible. He made it clear that such images find absolutely no justification in the addresses of Blessed Pope John Paul.

After lunch, the lecture was more personally focussed and looked especially at the way in which the Theology of the Body can help priests to understand celibacy within the plan of God and live it joyfully. One of the priests present (several decades ordained) told me that it was the best presentation of celibacy that he had heard in his life.

Robert Colquhoun gave great assistance in the organisation of the day. Robert blogs at Discover Happiness and has enthusiastically promoted the 40 Days for Life initiative in London. The next 40 days begins on Wednesday 28 September. Priests are always most welcome at the vigils; in God's providence there are often more "turnarounds" when a priest is there quietly praying. If you can find the time and energy, you may be God's instrument to save a life.

I hope to make the text of Father Medley's first lecture available on the internet for you to download. In the meantime, here are a couple of links that he recommended:
NFP and more

If you wish to study the General Audience addresses in which Pope John Paul elaborated the Theology of the Body, it is best to get Michael Waldstein's critical translation which is published by Pauline Books with the title "Man and Woman He Created Them. A Theology of the Body." The Study Day was held in the new underground hall at St Patrick's, Soho Square. the facilities there are impressive and versatile. It is a good venue for an event like ours but is also used for direct charitable work, providing food for the hungry. The Church is also beautiful after its renovation. I'll do a separate post with some photos.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford

Do come along. Remember that Aylesford is the home of the brown scapular. If you have not seen the shrine before, there are many fascinating pieces of art from the time after the Carmelites came back to their ancient home which was purloined by Henry VIII.

The flower of Carmel having been cut down, grows up more vigorous

Three cheers for Liechtenstein!

The people of Liechtenstein have voted against the legalisation of abortion. Pro-abortion campaigners had secured enough signatures for a referendum on whether abortion should be allowed in the first trimester of pregnancy. The head of state, His Serene Highness, Prince Alois (right) said that he would veto the legislation if it were passed. The pro-abortionists criticised the prince, saying that his intervention would mean that people wouldn't bother to vote. In fact, the turnout was 11,006 out of a possible 18,800 voters which is not at all bad. The proposed legalisation of abortion was rejected by a vote of 52.3% - 47.7%.

So congratulations to Prince Alois and to the good people of Liechtenstein for upholding the sanctity of life of the smallest and weakest.

Hmmm. Liechtenstein. Might be a good place to visit...

Monday, 19 September 2011

New translation - news from the coalface

The mother of a young family was talking to me today about the new translation of the Mass. She said that her children have really latched onto the word "consubstantial" and look forward to it in the Creed. They were disappointed last week because we did not say the Creed at the school Mass (it was a weekday.)

I know that the younger ones may not yet understand what the word means. They probably like it because it is a long word that is difficult to say and to spell, and there is a sense of achievement in getting it right so that they can say it at Mass (actuosa participatio n'est ce pas?). With that enthusiasm, it is quite likely that when they are old enough to understand a little trinitarian theology, they will be keen to know exactly what "consubstantial" means.

It is not a good idea to shield children from difficult words. Better that they know them and are fascinated by them and then learn more about them as they grow older.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Lunch today

Eggs on toast

Eggs on toast. Admittedly I will be eating well this evening as I am meeting someone for dinner tonight in London; but he is a Catholic and so we will both be celebrating the re-introduction of Friday abstinence by having fish. God bless Bishop Conry who seems to have played no small part in persuading his brother Bishops to take this initiative. Here is an extract from his Pastoral Letter for Advent last year:
Next week, Monday 15 November, I am going to Leeds for a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference. I hope that we will discuss the possibility of restoring the old Friday Fast Day. This was one of the most obvious signs of Catholic identity, apart from going to Mass. It determined the diet in places like prison and hospital, and was something that Catholics were instinctively conscious of: we knew that we couldn’t have meat like everybody else that day, and it was a source of a sort of pride – it marked us out as different.
Today we are perhaps less willing to be marked out, in case we are marked out as not just different, but ‘odd’. And that is what we had been told, and began to believe. But the Pope’s visit has said to us that this is not ‘odd’, but that it’s actually important. A few years ago I suggested that we might take up another of those old Catholic practices, grace before meals, if we had lost the habit of it. It’s not difficult, doesn’t take much time, but it’s a gentle reminder. 
There are all sorts of small ways in which we quietly show to the world that we believe in Christ, and that we want to welcome Christ back into a world that has either largely forgotten him or never really heard of him. Pop into the church when you are passing, so that people can see it. Put a crucifix in the window. If you are at work or with friends and people ask you what you did at the weekend, mention the fact that you went to Church. But make sure it’s true. And we can also show ourselves, by praying a little more often, and spending time reflecting on the bible.

Dynamic Views

You can now look at this blog in Flipcard, Mosiac, Sidebar, Snapshot, or Timeslide view. Just go to and have a click through the options given in the light blue dropdown button to the right of the topbar. They are quite fun: the most useful, I think, will be the "sidebar" and "timeline" views but I really like the idea of people choosing how they want to view a blog.

If you want to have this facility available for your own blogger blog, check the blogger help page All about Dynamic Views for Authors. A key condition for it to work is that you must have feeds fully enabled (i.e. not those annoying snippet feeds.) If you put an URL anywhere, remember that it is "http://[blog URL]/view" in the singular, not the plural - someone slipped on the industrial psychology there - everyone will recognise it as "views".

Apparently we will be able to customise these new views sometime soon.

APGL study day next Wednesday

The Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life are holding a Study Day for Clergy next Wednesday 21 September at St Patrick’s, Soho Square (11am-3.30pm). Fr Samuel Medley will be speaking about the Theology of the Body.

As well as the talks, the Day will include Rosary and Benediction (with the opportunity for confession) and a buffet lunch will be provided.

Members of the Association and priests in the London area should have received an invitation to the Day. Any others would be very welcome.

Robert Colquhoun (Discover Happiness. Love Undefiled blog) has been helping with the organisation of this day. If any clergy would like to come, please email him at Robert543@gmail.comjust so that we can get an idea for catering. (If you don't get round to doing this, you can still turn up.)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Our Lady welcomes the children

After Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows today these children went to say a prayer at the Lady Altar. Rather like a mini Fatima in the parish Church!

Our sacristy team decorate the statue for feast of Our Lady. They did this for Our Lady's birthday but asked to keep it like that for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It's after all quite natural for people to want to observe octaves.

We were also blessed today with the presence of Brother Anselm OSB who has come to visit the parish during a few days holiday. That meant that we could sing the sequence with organ accompaniment and we will have the organ for Benediction this evening.

Good Counsel Network wish list

The Good Counsel Network gives counselling to women who are considering an abortion. They have a very high success rate in persuading women that there are practical alternatives: they also make those alternatives a reality by giving charitable help and support to mothers and their babies. This means that they do need maternity and baby goods - see: Urgent; Clothe the naked, Mothers and Babies Needing Clothes and Baby Things.

At my suggestion, the Good Counsel Network have set up an Amazon wish list that you can use. If you want to use some other means of sending things, the delivery address is: 15 Maple Grove, Kingsbury, London, NW9 8RD. The list has things at very low cost and others with a higher cost so you can match your gift to your means.

This is not a substitute for actually going out and doing some corporal works of mercy directly; but it would be a shame not to clock up one or two such works from the comfort of your desk!

Another opportunity to support the Good Counsel Network is offered by David Aron who is doing a solo long distance walk to raise funds. He is walking the Thames Path Way (184 miles) in eight days (Fri 07 Oct 11 - Fri 14 Oct 11), carrying all his own kit and provisions. Here is the link for donations.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SSPX breakthrough in sight

The Vatican Information Service today released an English translation of a communiqué concerning the Society of St Pius X following a two hour meeting today between Bishop Fellay and Cardinal Levada. The crucial passage is:
While bearing in mind the concerns and demands presented by the Society of St. Pius X about protecting the integrity of the Catholic faith against Vatican Council II's 'hermeneutic of rupture' with Tradition (a theme addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith maintains that the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See is the acceptance of the text of the Doctrinal Preamble, which was handed over during a meeting on 14 September 2011. The Preamble defines certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.
The communiqué ends with the remarkably hopeful sentence:
At the same meeting, certain suggestions were made for a canonical solution to the position of the Society of St. Pius X, with a view to achieving the desired reconciliation.
If talk of practical canonical arrangements are underway, there is a real hope of a breakthrough in the discussions. In a press conference, Fr Lombardi said that the leaders of the SSPX are expected to sign the document within a few months, and allowed speculation of the form of arrangement that would be made for the SSPX, mentioning the likelihood of a personal prelature.

At the SSPX website, there is an interview with Bishop Fellay. True to form, he is scrupulously respectful of the confidentiality of the discussions: it is a hallmark of the attitude of the SSPX that there have been no leaks about the discussions. Bishop Fellay quite reasonably promised his confreres that he would not make a decision without consulting them first, and that is the next step. The SSPX currently have a 12 million Rosary Crusade going. Given the obvious determination of the Holy See to do whatever it can to foster unity, it would be a good thing for us to join in and pray for the success of these discussions. There is a convenient Tally Sheet that you could use.

A clock's salutary legend

Luxembourg 164

Nescitis qua hora Dominus veniet
You do not know at what hour the Lord will come
The clock is on the outside of the Cathedral at Trier:

Luxembourg 162

All Ireland final this Sunday

My correspondent Sir Dan of the Blogosphere has reminded me that the Gaelic Athletic Association All Ireland Football Final takes place on Sunday at 3.30pm. Kerry are playing Dublin in what promises to be a close and hard-fought game.

Sir Dan is a second cousin to the captain of the Kerry team, Colm Cooper. Kerry is historically the most successful team, having won 36 times since 1887. Dublin has won 22 times. No other teams come close, so there is a lot at stake.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Lame duck still waddling

At the Novus Ordo Mass this morning we had a sharp reminder that in England, we still have a lame duck translation to deal with. I am referring to the Jerusalem Bible that remains the most commonly used text for the scripture readings at Mass in English. The first reading was 1 Tim 3.1-13, an important text. In the original, it begins:
Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος: εἴ τις ἐπισκοπῆς ὀρέγεται, καλοῦ ἔργου ἐπιθυμεῖ. δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι [...]
In the Vulgate, this is translated:
Fidelis sermo : si quis episcopatum desiderat, bonum opus desiderat. Oportet ergo episcopum irreprehensibilem esse [...]
The RSV is perfectly good:
The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach [...]
In the USA, daily Mass goers today heard from the NAB:
Beloved, this saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable [...]
This is what we got in England this morning:
Here is a saying that you can rely on: to want to be a presiding elder is to desire a noble task. That is why the president must have an impeccable character [...]
In classical Greek, the word episcopos means an overseer, guardian, watcher, inspector or suchlike. At the Reformation there was controversy over the translation of episcopos. Those who took a strong Presbyterian view, along with those today who reject the idea of Bishop, translated episcopos as something other than Bishop. However, the King James Bible translated episcopos as “Bishop” as did all Catholic translations.

Even apart from this consideration, to use the expression “presiding elder” is wrong on two counts: the word “presiding” and the word “elder.” Episcopos does not mean someone who presides but someone who watches over (not the same thing) and “elder” would be a translation of presbuteros, not episcopos. (The translation also uses the weak and morally ambiguous "want" rather than "aspire to", shies away from translating episcopē, the office of an episcopos, and unnecessarily introduces the word "character" - good examples of the quality of this translation generally.)

Apparently we are to have a new lectionary at some time in the future. We could have had one already if the obvious option had been taken up: namely to use the RSV, as slightly edited by Ignatius Press in accordance with Liturgiam Authenticam. As I wrote in 2006, this version is already used for a lectionary – but it is only approved for use in the Antilles! Had this version been used, the addition of proper readings for England and Wales could surely have been accomplished by now, so that we would have a lectionary ready to accompany the new translation of the Missal.

Instead, I understand that the New RSV has been laboriously edited to correct the aggressive use of “inclusive language.” (In 1995 the CDF rejected the use of the New RSV in liturgical and catechetical texts  – cf. Adoremus article.) The new New RSV was published earlier this year, but there is presumably quite a bit of work still to do before it is ready in the form of a lectionary.

I imagine that the new New RSV will be considerably better than the Jerusalem Bible translation (it would take some effort to produce a worse translation.) However we are left with that lame duck waddling around the texts read at Mass for some time to come.

For priests who are interested, I received an encouraging email today from The Catholic Printing Company of Farnworth. They have just announced the “Concise RSV Emmaus Mass Sheet.” As a concise version, this has fewer options: only the Confiteor for the Penitential Rite, only the Nicene Creed, and only the first acclamation for the Mystery of Faith. It says that the priest “may” say the Offertory prayers quietly (I know that it would be more accurate to say that he "may" say them out loud, but at least the sheet does not imply that he must always say the prayers out loud.) It falls down on “All then make an appropriate sign of peace” (this is not compulsory) but it does not have a rubric telling people to stand for Holy Communion. And it has the RSV readings. (These are still approved for use in England and Wales.)

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to obtain an RSV lectionary and I don’t think that it is overblown liturgical pedantry to want people to read from a decent liturgical book rather than a missalette. However those lucky enough to have an RSV lectionary might find the Farnworth sheet very helpful. I’ve only just ordered the first tranche of Parish Mass Books from McCrimmon, but will see what options open up for early next year.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has written a good pastoral letter for his people. You can find the full text at Fr John Boyle's blog, Caritas in Veritate. His Lordship speaks of the visit of Pope Benedict, Friday abstinence, and the new translation of the Mass. Here is a taster:
I am also conscious we have just begun to use the new translation of The Roman Missal which unites us in worship. At the heart of Pope Benedict’s visit to our country was always the Holy Eucharist celebrated with great dignity and adored with love and reverence. The Holy Father asked that the introduction of this revised English translation would be something more than simply a change of wording: “I encourage you now to seize the opportunity that the new translation offers,” he asked, “for in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration.” As we become more familiar with this fresh translation, I hope it will enrich our prayer and understanding, help us to recognise more clearly in the Liturgy the words and images of Scripture and, by the beauty and richness of its language, express our wonder at the mystery and reality of the Mass. I hope we will always go beyond the translated words to the reality they express at the heart of the Mass: Jesus Christ, His Sacrifice and His Real Presence with us as we come together with all the Church.
The text does not seem yet to be on the website of the Diocese of Shrewsbury but it is worth paying a visit there as it is a fine site with an attractive, minimalist look.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Baptism of a seventh son


They say that babies can look right into your soul. I think that this picture of Zachariah Septimus Meinertzhagen illustrates the phenomenon. Bear in mind that he has just been twice exorcised, received sanctifying grace, made a child of God, been reborn through water and the Holy Spirit, and is incapable of personal sin. In his own way, he can probably see rather more clearly into the soul than we can.

I baptised Zachariah this afternoon at Blackfen with his six brothers looking on. Yes, that's right: Zachariah is a seventh son. Here is the family with myself and Adrian Treloar, the Godfather:

7th son

Congratulations Masaki and Sue


Masaki Friesenegger and Sue Liao exchanged vows yesterday at the Lady Chapel of Westminster Cathedral, a beautiful setting for a wedding. I solemnised the wedding and celebrated the nuptial Mass according to the usus antiquior. The music was provided by organist Peter Stevens and four choristers from the unparalleled Westminster Cathedral Choir. The Mass setting was Mozart's Spatzenmesse. I should note also that as ever, Paul Moynihan and the other personnel at Westminster Cathedral were as helpful as they could possibly be. It is always a pleasure to be involved in a liturgical celebration there.

In the usus antiquior, the vows are taken first of all, after the short instruction given by the priest. We then go into the sacristy to sign the civil register (if this is necessary.) Then the couple return to the chapel, the priest vests and Mass is begun. I do prefer this to the "we interrupt this Mass for another service" arrangement.

Sorry about the picture - as the celebrant I was not able to take photos during the wedding itself, and only caught the couple leaving for the reception afterwards, but it does at least include part of the vintage Rolls Royce in front of Westminster Cathedral.

Friday, 9 September 2011

New British Ambassador to the Holy See

The Holy Father today welcomed His Excellency Mr Nigel Marcus Baker as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Holy See.

In the course of his address the Holy Father sent his greetings to Her Majesty the Queen, her government and to all of us.

I was glad to see that the Holy Father lent his support to my interpretation of the recent riots ;-)
As you pointed out in your speech, your Government wishes to employ policies that are based on enduring values that cannot be simply expressed in legal terms. This is especially important in the light of events in England this summer. When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.
[my emphasis]

Providing a Prie-Dieu for Holy Communion

Fr Michael Brown at Forest Murmurs has provided a Prie-Dieu for his communicants. The kneeler is put out after the sign of peace so that if anybody wishes to kneel for Holy Communion, they may do so more easily. Readers may remember that I reported in June on the new instruction that is to be included in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in England and Wales which definitively allows that commnuicants may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. This has not been explicitly stated before, so it is good for a priest to provide a suitable means for people exercise this option which is now definitively legitimate. Obviously altar rails would be better, but it is not possible for all Churches to provide these immediately, so a Prie-Dieu is a good idea.

Fr Briggs at Chislehurst (right) has implemented the same pastoral measure, though he tells me that in his Church they will be using the Prie-Dieu that belonged to the Empress Eugenie.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A Marian feast at the Seminary


St John's Seminary at Wonersh was opened on the feast of the birthday of Our Lady and so this has always remained a significant day in the life of the Seminary. The students are now back, preparing for lectures to begin next week. There are fourteen new men in the first year which is very encouraging. I was there today for a staff development day in which we discussed the relationship of spiritual and pastoral formation to the other areas of formation - including the teaching of theology which is my role.

After Mass this evening, we processed to the shrine of Our Lady, Regina Cleri, which is in the "ambulacrum", the wide corridor on the ground floor (picture above.) The statue was reverenced with incense, then there were prayers for the new students, for the staff, and for other intentions. Finally the Rector then read the prayer of Blessed Pope John Paul which concludes the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (on the formation of priests.) Here is the text:
O Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests, accept this title which we bestow on you to celebrate your motherhood and to contemplate with you the priesthood of, your Son and of your sons, O holy Mother of God.

O Mother of Christ, to the Messiah - priest you gave a body of flesh through the anointing of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart; guard priests in your heart and in the Church, O Mother of the Saviour.

O Mother of Faith, you accompanied to the Temple the Son of Man, the fulfillment of the promises given to the fathers; give to the Father for his glory the priests of your Son, O Ark of the Covenant.

O Mother of the Church, in the midst of the disciples in the upper room you prayed to the Spirit for the new people and their shepherds; obtain for the Order of Presbyters a full measure of gifts, O Queen of the Apostles.

O Mother of Jesus Christ, you were with him at the beginning of his life and mission, you sought the Master among the crowd, you stood beside him when he was lifted up from the earth consumed as the one eternal sacrifice, and you had John, your son, near at hand; accept from the beginning those who have been called, protect their growth, in their life ministry accompany your sons, O Mother of Priests. Amen.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A beautiful wedding in Cambridge

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Congratulations to Gregor Dick and Alisa Koonce who were married today at the glorious 19th century gothic revival Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge - often referred to by the acronym OLEM. Fr Christopher Back was celebrant for the Mass, I was deacon, and Fr Bernard McNally subdeacon. MC was Dr Berthold Kress, a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge whose speciality is the history of art, especially late medieval and early modern art. As you can see, the Bride's dress was modest and traditional - and all the more beautiful for that.

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A particular treat at the wedding and Mass, was the singing by Anglorum Chorus, a recently formed choir, directed by Christopher Hodkinson, which gathers talented young Catholic singers and musical directors to sing Gregorian chant to the highest standard. (The chant is their principal focus though they do also sing polyphony.) The choir are available for special occasions: I will pass on contact details when I have them. [UPDATE: you can email anglorum.chorus [AT]]

The reception was held at St John's College; although I could not stay for all of it, I did go along for a short while and was glad to meet several friends there. The walk from OLEM gave me a chance to see a little of Cambridge which I do not know very well. St John's is a magnificent set of buildings and quads.

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Cambridge has the "Backs": several colleges back onto the river Cam and have grounds both sides of the river. St John's has its own bridge...

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... from which you can observe the curious spectacle see people punting from the wrong end:

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma meeting at Blackfen

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma has a day scheduled in my parish on Saturday 1 October. I am delighted to be able to host it. There will be High Mass in the morning (10.30am) and Solemn Vespers and Benediction in the afternoon (2.30pm.) After the Mass, I'll give a talk about Catholic blogging and the use of the new media - based mainly on the addresses of Pope Benedict which can help us to be aware of our responsibilities.

Lunch will be provided; you can give a donation if you wish, but if you have already spent money travelling, there is no need to feel obliged to do so. We'll have a short meeting for the Guild to highlight any issues or concerns that people have about how the Guild should work. The main thing is that this is an opportunity for us to meet up personally - these occasions are always enjoyable.

If anyone needs help with their train fare, please let me know (in the strictest confidence): (

Monday, 5 September 2011

"Words that express our faith"

Bishop Hugh Giilbert OSB, recently appointed to Aberdeen, having been Abbot of Pluscarden, issued his first Pastoral Letter to be read yesterday at Mass. At the Aberdeen diocesan website you can read the whole letter. I would like to highlight this paragraph:
‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ In Christ, the Son of God takes on everything human, except sin, and transforms it. And in the Liturgy this mystery of the Incarnation – the Word becoming flesh – lives on among us. Everything speaks of it. When we gather to worship we come together in a building – not usually in any building, though, but in a church, a building dedicated for worship. The ministers who lead our prayer don’t wear just ordinary clothes, but vestments. We stand, sit or kneel, but each of these postures now has a special meaning. We come together to listen to readings – not any readings though, but words inspired by the Holy Spirit, words that are now the word of God. We gather round a table – but not any table, rather a holy table, an altar. We eat and drink – but not any food or drink, rather bread and wine which have become that holiest of things, the Body and Blood of the Lord, his very Self. In the Liturgy, ordinary things are taken up by Christ and the Church and become vehicles of something greater than themselves. And so it is too with the words, the language, we use in prayer. Christianity has always, to some extent, created its own language. It took the words of ancient Israel or the Greco-Roman world and filled them with a new meaning. And so, in the Liturgy, we use words that carry the resonances of a long tradition, words that express our faith, and are rich with many centuries of experience of the God who has spoken to us in Christ. The new translation of the Missal is very aware of this and tries to be loyal to it. And, once again, when these words are sung, they can lift our hearts even more.
The emphasis on not just any building, clothes, postures, readings, table, food is a welcome antidote to the idea that the Liturgy should be reduced to the mundane in a futile attempt to make it relevant. His Lordship also invites his people to welcome the new translation with what St Benedict calls a ‘good spirit.’ That is a gentle and pastoral way of putting it. I am sure that many of us hope that the whinging spirit expressed with tedious persistence in some quarters (the Tablet springs to mind) might begin to fizzle out soon.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

First Sunday with the real translation

For about two-thirds of my life, ever since the introduction of the old ICEL translation, I have argued and written that we should have an accurate translation of the Missal for Mass in English. This morning for the first time, I was able to celebrate Mass in English at which we used a decent translation of the Gloria, the Creed, and the Domine non sum dignus. Although I have joined others in looking forward to this development and defending it, nevertheless, I was rather moved to be able to use it fully for the first time. All my priestly life, I have had to celebrate English Mass with a dumbed-down, lame duck translation.

Of course, many people have been sanctified by their participation in the Mass using this translation but if you have even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin, it is frustrating to know that the people are being denied the richness of the Church's sacred texts. For most ordinary people not involved in ecclesiastical politics, there will be no problems. In a few weeks they will be used to the new translation and beginning to learn it by heart.

For priests it will be a much enhanced text for that catechesis which must, in the present time, form a large part of our preaching. This morning I preached on the word "consubstantial", including some historical background to the Council of Nicea. I promised the children that I would also include an account of a battle, and therefore went briefly into the dispositions of the troops at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. I thought afterwards that I should have set a competition essay on "How should Maxentius have drawn up his troops?" For a few weeks we will have to make do with an interim Missal but that is a small price to pay. I look forward eagerly to the delivery of my new Missals from the CTS.

Orbis Factor Kyrie - with feeling

During August, the choir in the parish has a well-earned rest and we do not struggle to keep things going while half the regulars are on holiday at any given time. So our EF Latin Mass is a low Mass. It was great this morning to return to the Missa Cantata. Thanks to the addition of two boys from a visiting family we were able to field nine servers which meant that we could have six torch bearers with one of the acolytes doubling-up as torch bearer.

For the "green" Sundays, we sing Mass XI, the Missa Orbis Factor. I find the Kyrie from this Mass one of the most beautiful pieces in the repertoire of Gregorian Chant. The titles for the Masses (Lux et origo, Orbis factor etc.) were taken from the tropes that were sung to "fill them out." H/T Fr Ray Blake who posted the above troped version.
After listening to this on YouTube, I looked up some more from Ensemble Organum and found this old Roman Kyrie from the 6th century. It reminded me of my trip to Estonia when the choir there sang in very much this style.

The Catholic priest praised by Einstein for explaining the universe

Mgr George Lemaître, the Catholic priest and physicist, was told by Einstein "Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable!" when he proposed his theory of a homogeneous Universe of constant mass and growing radius accounting for the radial velocity of extragalactic nebulae. The observations of Lemaître gave rise to the understanding of the universe as having a beginning in what is now known generally as the big bang.

Lemaître features in the CTS booklet by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, Lumen. The Catholic Gift to Civilisation which I wrote about back in March (see: Practical apologetics in the English context)

The Reluctant Sinner has written a post with more about Mgr Lemaître. Apparently, a few years later, Lemaître and Einstein were touring California together for a series of seminars and this time, when the priest explained his theory, Einstein said
"This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened."
The Reluctant Sinner quite properly points to the importance of Catholic contributions to scientific endeavour. We should not be surprised at this, since the perennial philosophy espoused by the Catholic Church provides the very basis for science to be conducted at all. The list of great Catholic scientists given in Lumen is not a coincidence.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Holy See responds to Irish Government

Just a quick heads-up on this. The Bollettino today has the official Response to Mr Eamon Gilmore, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, concerning the Cloyne Report. I have to go out now and will read it later, but I thought you might like to know.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Do you need the rank?

A military chap told me today of the time when he was helping out with a certain regiment somewhere on a certain task (he told me to keep it vague) and saw a sign on a door:
If you need the rank, you're not worth it.
If you're worth the rank you don't need it.
Food for thought there.

Those pesky laity and their rebelliousness

A comment from Suburbanbanshee received today, deserves greater prominence than being hidden away on my post of 28 June: A rogue instruction in the new people’s cards for Mass
Re: standing and processing to show respect

What you do is, you get two big flagpoles and put big flags with Catholic emblems on them, like the Five Wounds or the Sacred Heart or Mary or your name saint. And when it's time for Communion, you walk down the aisle waving your flags in the air. And then when you receive Communion, you use the poles to prop you as you kneel and get up again. They also make it clear that you can't possibly receive Communion in the hand, because obviously your hands are full.

Yeah, it's probably a good thing I'm not a liturgist. I would be really obnoxious. :)
Now I'm not encouraging this in any way and the following graphic of the five wounds which might be suitable for a banner is posted purely for academic purposes.

Is this after all not an example of the laity making use of the freedom of Vatican II as the late and much lamented Michael Davies used to say?
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