Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dear BBC...

"I'm not the Boss!"

I'm not a Canon lawyer but as far as I understand it, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster is NOT the "leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales".  Many media outlets but particularly the BBC nearly always refer to him as such - see here, for example.  Although he is the only Cardinal in England and Wales [un-retired cardinal - thank you too an anonymous pedant in the comments box], he is not the Primate (as the Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh is the Primate of all Ireland). Vincent Nichols is the Chairman of the Bishop's Conference but that is an elected post and he was elected to it long before he was made a cardinal. Westminster, as with other Archbishoprics, has several suffragan sees, which give the Archbishop certain limited duties and responsibilities under certain circumstances, usually when something has gone seriously amiss (Canon 435ff).  Canon 436 §3 says: The metropolitan has no other power of governance in the suffragan dioceses.  Even a Primate has no authority over the faithful outside his own diocese: (Can. 438) The titles of patriarch and primate entail no power of governance in the Latin Church apart from a prerogative of honour unless in some matters the contrary is clear from apostolic privilege or approved custom.


As I understand it, each bishop is the sole authority in his diocese with the next step up being the Pope as his only line manager (to use modern parlance). Again, as I understand it, we are not a "national church" in that way.  I guess that the all pervading conception of the bishops' conference idea is responsible for this way of understanding things.  Thus, when an individual bishop wants to speak out on what seems "out of step" with the rest of the bishops' conference, he might be reluctant to do so. Obviously, it makes sense for bishops to co-operate in individual countries so that there might be common practice. But this doesn't always follow - in the practice of the age of Confession, Confirmation and Holy Communion for example. Such differences don't seem to make us fall apart.  

I do wonder that someone doesn't formally make the BBC aware of its mistake and ask that Aunty Beeb tries to get it right in the future. Perhaps some Monseigneurial  mandarin in the Department of Administrative affairs at Eccleston Square could  find time to do that. I know that this isn't the most important thing in the world but it does lead to a misconception being propagated.  I've certainly heard of folk saying they will "write to the Cardinal" when they haven't had the answer they wanted from their bishop.  





Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm Sunday actual participation


So, another Holy Week has begun. Over recent weeks I've once again been encouraging the people to attend the Sacred Triduum. How odd it is that so many people go straight from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection on Easter Day, thus missing out all the steps between! 

Fr Z has a post about the prayers for today and makes an interesting note of one of the rubrics which make it perfectly clear that "participation" in the liturgy means primarily interior participation. In other words,we do not need to treat the congregation like primary school children, where everyone has to have a little job to do so as not to feel left out. 

In relation to that, for several years now, I've chosen the shorter Gospel to be read on Palm Sunday (either by priest or deacon) rather than endure the miserable doling out of parts to various readers and the "crowd" voice to the slightly embarrassed congregation, with the attendant inconsequential mutterings of, "cru - ci - fy Him, cru - ci- fy Him" echoing underwhelmingly around the church.  

Here's a bit of Fr Z's point:
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.  The Sacred Triduum (triduum from tres dies – “three day space”) were once days of obligation when people were freed from servile work so that they could attend the liturgies, once celebrated in the morning.  In the 17th century, however, the obligation was removed under the influence of changing social and religious conditions.  As a result, the faithful lost sight of these beautiful liturgies and in general only priests and religious in monasteries knew them.

In 1951 Pope Pius XII began to restore the Triduum liturgies to prominence by mandating that the Easter Vigil be celebrated in the evening.  In 1953 Mass was permitted in the evening on certain days.  A reformed Ordo for Holy Week was issued in 1955 and took effect on 25 March 1956.   That is when the Sunday of Holy Week came to be called “The Second Sunday in Passiontide, or Palm Sunday”.  Matins and Lauds (Tenebrae, “shadows”) was to be sung in the morning.  Holy Thursday Mass was not to begin before 5 p.m. and no later than 8 p.m.  The idea was to make it easier for people to attend these all important liturgies.
Also in the rubrics there is something helpful for our understanding of “active participation”:
“Then as is customary the priest greets the people; and then there is given a brief admonition, by which the faithful are invited to participate actively and consciously (actuose et conscie participandam) in this day’s celebration.” 
Those words actuose et conscie are very important.  The Second Vatican Council, when using the term actuosa participatio or “active participation”, meant mainly interior participation, the engaging of the mind, heart and will.  The Council Fathers did not mean primarily exterior participation.  Exterior participation should be the natural result of interior participation: we seek to express outwardly what we are experiencing within.  While the two influence each other, there is a logical priority to interior participation, which is by far the more important.

Monday, 7 April 2014

New Traditional Latin Mass Church



Some great news announced yesterday by the diocese of Lancaster. St Walburge's Church near the centre of Preston is to be given into the care of the Institute of Christ the King. This iconic church has been under threat for some time due to the movement of population in the the area.  It means that the Institute will have two large churches in the North West of England.  St Walburge's will follow the pattern of Ss Peter and Paul's in New Brighton under Bishop Mark Davies. It will be a "shrine" church within the ordinary local Catholic parish. In a pastoral letter this weekend Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster says that he has been determined to keep a Catholic presence in the city centre area, which seems to me to be a necessary project. The church is listed and so cannot be pulled down and so it is entirely inappropriate for it to  be turned to some other non-Christian use. When that happens to well-known churches it proclaims to the world that we have failed and have given up on ever retrieving our ground there. I'm sure the Institute with their hard work and zeal will establish a very active presence in there, as they have done on the Wirral.

It great for me, as although Preston is in a neighbouring diocese, it is only four miles away from me here in Leyland.  Locally in the Liverpool Archdiocese (not large geographically) we are fortunate in that there are four regular EF Sunday Masses - all in the morning at reasonable times when people want to go to Mass (two of these, including my own, embedded in the parish and said by the parish priest). Fortunate as well that our new Archbishop, Malcolm McMahon, offers the Traditional Mass.  Ss Peter and Paul's is just across the river Mersey from Liverpool city centre and now there will be a high profile presence in Preston as well.

You can see some photos of this fantastic church taken by Lawrence Lew OP.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Clergy Retreat


For any clergy - bishops, priests or deacons - looking for a break after Easter the FSSP are running a CLERGY RETREAT with MARY 5th-9th May 2014 in Bavaria at a cost of just £270.

I had a wonderful visit to the exceptional Seminary there two years ago.

Further information at their website.

"The Retreat will be on the theme: ‘The Blessed Virgin Mary and the priest’. In reference to Pope Francis’ decision to consecrate the World to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, we will strive as priests to deepen our relationship to God through Mary. We will meditate on the mission of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us be configured to her Son the Sovereign High Priest. This will include: the role of Mary in the Incarnation and Redemption; her purity and humility at the Annunciation; her charity at the Visitation and at Cana; her hope and faith on Calvary; her spiritual motherhood in relation to the beloved disciple St John. Our Lady will help us deepen the love of our priestly celibacy and our sponsal relationship to the flock entrusted to our pastoral care and to the Church in general. The retreat will be held at the Marian Shrine of Wigratzbad in Bavaria, from Monday 5 May to Friday 9 May 2014 (third week after Easter)."

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Order of St Lazarus in Liverpool

Some members gathering for the procession into church.

Members of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem gathered for the annual Chapter Meeting at Our Lady, Star of the Sea church in Seaforth Village last weekend.  It was great to hear that our Priory, which is numerically very small in Great Britain compared with many other countries, has given £20,000 to charitable causes over the course of the last year. Some further photos and details here.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Chuck out the chintz


With all the excitement (?) about a new Archbishop here in Liverpool diocese last week I almost missed a little snippet on the Bishops' Conference website reminding us that this coming Pentecost is the end of the period of grace allowing the old English translations for musical setting of the Mass to be used. From Pentecost all musical settings in English must conform to the new translation.  I'm sure those parishes who have been behind the times in moving over to these will be putting lots of effort into keeping up with the times and chucking out all those rather dowdy chintzy old 1970's melodies.
"The Bishops of England and Wales have fixed the end date of the transitional period for implementing music in the new translation of the Roman Missal which was introduced in 2011. As from Pentecost Sunday, 8 June 2014 only settings of the Ordinary of the Mass using the new translation are permitted to be sung at Mass. Settings using the previous translation or paraphrased texts may no longer be used in our parishes, schools and communities."

A quick search on You Tube will give you a great many examples. This one below is an example of settings which were not faithful even to the old translation!



After that you may need something more uplifting.  So the simplest thing is just to learn the Mass in its "proper" setting and then the words never change. This setting seems to have lasted for a few years.  Not chintzy at all - more noble simplicity!

Friday, 21 March 2014

New Archbishop for Liverpool

Vespers11
Bishop Malcolm celebrating Solemn Vespers at Merton College Chapel.
(Photo courtesy of Lawrence Lew, OP)

Welcome to Archbishop Elect, 
Malcolm Patrick McMahon
as the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool.

Born on 14th June 1949, he became the ninth Bishop of Nottingham on 8th December 2000 and will be the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool. Although born in London, he studied in Manchester (mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) in his youth, and worked briefly as a parish Priest in Newcastle upon Tyne before being elected as Prior Provincial of the Dominicans in 1992 and 1996.

Our Lady Immaculate - Pray for us.
St Joseph - Pray for us.
St Kentigern - Pray for us.

Thanks to Pope Francis that the two new latest bishops (Fr Robert Byrne last week) for England and Wales are both men who are friends of the Traditional Form of the Mass. 

Further here on the announcement from the Bishops' Conference website.

Bishop Malcolm celebrating Pontifical Mass in the Chapel of Ratcliffe College.
(Courtesy of Joseph Shaw)

I noted in a previous post that Bishop Malcolm wrote the following about the celebration of the Mass:

When I was a boy most people went to Mass with a missal in their hands, or devotional books like The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, which helped them to follow the Mass and to participate in it. There was a general trend in those days, going back to Pope St Pius X (d. 1914), urging the faithful to ‘participate actively’ in the Mass. In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council (or Vatican II) took up and continued the same theme.

Back then, of course, Mass was in Latin. People used their missals to understand more deeply the prayers of the Mass, and they also knew how to sing in Latin. At the very least Latin is as important for our culture and worship as Hebrew is for the Jewish people. Since Vatican II, Mass in the vernacular language (English in our case) has become widespread, but it began as, and remains, a concession. Vatican II envisaged that the Mass would ordinarily be celebrated in Latin, and it stressed the need for the faithful to be able to say or sing together in Latin the parts of the Mass which pertain to them, and it commended the use of Gregorian chant, saying that it should be given pride of place in liturgical functions.

More recently, in the autumn of 2005, bishops from around the world gathered in Rome for an Extraordinary Synod to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist. The bishops put a series of suggestions to Pope Benedict, one of which proposed that Mass at international gatherings should be in Latin, and ‘that the possibility of educating the faithful in this way [should] not be overlooked.’ The pope responded with his exhortation Sacramentum caritatis in 2007 in which he endorsed this particular proposition in its entirety. Many of our parishes are fortunate to be able to welcome Catholics from all over the globe and from a wide range of language groups, making Mass often a truly international gathering which manifests the catholicity of our Church. Many of our parishioners are fortunate enough to be able to travel abroad, going to Mass at international gatherings. On these occasions the catholic, i.e. universal, nature of the Church becomes especially apparent, and it is most appropriate to celebrate this by the use of Latin, the official and universal language in the Western Church, and to sing our timeless heritage of Gregorian chant.

It is a mistake to assume that the Mass should be translated into simple English, because the Mass never is and never can be fully understood. Even a translation should give us a glimpse of the unsearchable beauty of God. The Mass is a mystery whose depths we can never plumb, whose treasures we can never exhaust, all the while drawing more riches and grace for us. Pope Benedict reminds us that it is God’s gift and God’s work, or it is nothing at all. To emphasize the central position of Christ in the Mass, the Pope asks us to ‘turn towards the Lord’, Conversi ad Dominum – the ancient call to prayer in the early Church:
‘The idea that the priest and people should stare at one another during prayer was born only in modern Christianity, and is completely alien to the ancient Church. The priest and people most certainly do not pray one to the other, but to the one Lord. Therefore, they stare in the same direction during prayer: either towards the east as a cosmic symbol of the Lord who comes, or, where this is not possible, towards the image of Christ in the apse, towards a crucifix, or simply towards the heavens, as our Lord Himself did in his priestly prayer the night before His Passion (cf. John 17.1). In the meantime the proposal made by me... is fortunately becoming more and more common: rather than proceeding with further transformations, simply to place the crucifix at the centre of the altar, which both priest and the faithful can face and be led in this way towards the Lord, whom everyone addresses in prayer together.’
The image of our crucified Lord on the altar does not obstruct the priest from the sight of the faithful, for they are not to look to the celebrant at that point in the Mass. The priest is not more important than the Lord; we are to turn our gaze towards the Lord. These are norms which should become widespread if we are to worship more in keeping with the mind of the Church, and expressed by Vatican II. Pope Benedict adds, 
‘The Eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two thousand year history.’ (Sacramentum caritatis, 40)

For the faithful to participate actively at Mass, as has been mandated by successive popes as well as the Second Vatican Council, they must be familiar with the texts and chants.

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, O.P.
Bishop of Nottingham 
Memorial of St Scholastica, 2010 

 

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