Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Ad Multos Annos, Father Ratzinger.

Joseph, left, and Georg Ratzinger, at the welcome ceremony 
in their home parish in Traunstein after their priestly ordination.

The Feast of Ss Peter & Paul this year sees the 65th anniversary of the priestly Ordination of Pope emeritus Benedict.   In his biography “Milestones, Memoirs 1927-1977,” the retired pontiff described the date as a “radiant summer day,” of which he wrote: 
“We should not be superstitious, but at the moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird - perhaps a lark -  flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song.”  “And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words, ‘This is good; you are on the right path’.”
Before we even begin to talk of his extraordinary body of writing and his great witness in the Church, I was reminded of an incident redolent of his holiness, of which I wrote here, about the cure of  a young American after receiving his blessing. 

Masses at our little parish for the Feast are at 9.30am (OF) and a Missa Cantata at 7pm.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying priests...

This is an ideal place from which to work 
for Justice and Peace.

I came across this below on the Liturgy Guy site and thought it worth sharing, as it has often been my own experience over the years. The sign of the cassock somehow indicates that you are hardly a Christian and any exhibition of things traditionally Catholic puts you "living in the past" - never mind that the "past" was the Church that nourished a thousand saints, many of whom seemed to have been able to combine the wearing of a cassock and  bit of Latin with defending the poor, founding hospitals and schools etc etc.

I recall some years ago when campaigning in the parish with parishioners to keep an asylum seeking family in the county looking for help from the powers that be in the Church and getting none. Our school children marched from the parish to the town centre with placards and banners and got us into the local media; I was threatened with being thrown out of the town hall (in cassock) for interrupting the a council meeting from the public gallery, when the case came under discussion(even the two  Catholic Labour councillors from the parish towed the party line). Sadly, (under Mr Blair's kindly government) the family were whisked away from their home in the parish in the dead of the night and eventually deported via a holding centre (back to the African country where their father had been murdered) even though we had got wind of it several times and though bombardment with phone calls and e-mails, they were three times taken off the plane. The parish set up a fund to put the children through school, once they had been sent back.

It sounds like a social justice issue, doesn't it? But it really couldn't have been, after all, the children sang Latin at Mass and Fr was wearing a biretta.

Father Kyle Doustou finds that the same attitude is still alive and well but good for him in making a hearty response.


This past week Sulpician Fr. Phillip J. Brown, rector of the Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America, thought it a good idea to grant an interview to the dissident media outlet the National Catholic Reporter. The topic? Is there a “Francis effect” noticeable to Fr. Brown among the current crop of seminarians, and if so, what does it look like?

In the article, Fr. Brown and the NCR present the all too common false narrative of the Catholic Left: namely, that those already ordained to the priesthood in recent years are not really interested in works of mercy and pastoral care, but rather only about traditionalism, and matters such as wearing the cassock and Communion on the tongue.

The following response is courtesy of Father Kyle Doustou, a priest of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. It is presented here with his permission.

A Young Priest Sets the Record Straight for the Catholic Left

The National Catholic Reporter article, written from an interview given by the out-going Rector of my former seminary, is very hurtful. The men who were formed in and ordained from Theological College over the past 10 years are some of the best and most pastoral men and priests that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Inventing a false dichotomy between a love for the Church’s traditions and a love for the people of God is a manipulative, ideological tool used to push forth one’s personal agenda.

I have known Father Brown for many years, and have a great deal of respect and admiration for him personally, but this public interview he gave with an openly dissenting “Catholic” publication warrants an alumnus response.

As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying young priests that have passed through the halls of Theological College, allow me to say plainly to anyone who would agree with the tone and sentiment of this article that you have deliberately and painfully pigeon-holed men who love the Church and cast us to be pompous little monsters simply because we have a different theological/liturgical outlook than you.

You condescend towards us as if we were not thinking, opining, and sincere men.

You gossip about us, ensuring that we are “put in our places” and “taught a thing or two” by your confreres.

You confuse our strong convictions with arrogance and accuse us of being staunch when we are trying more than anything else to be faithful, helpful, and loving.

But let’s be quite honest…you don’t really know us because you never took the time to get to know us. You saw us when we were in the seminary chapel or over breakfast…but that’s about it.

Have you seen us at 2:00 AM in the hospital?

Have you seen us working late into the night on a funeral homily?

Have you seen us giving up our one day off a week to visit with a lonely elderly parishioner?

Have you seen us on our knees at night before the tabernacle weeping because we just buried a child earlier that day?

Have you seen us celebrate four Masses on a weekend, hear hours of confessions, and still show up to Sunday evening Youth Ministry?

Have you seen us wear the same pair of socks two days in a row because we simply ran out of time to do laundry?

Have you seen us muster a smile even when we’re exhausted, or miss Christmas with our families because we’re assigned 300 miles away, or forget to eat dinner because there’s another meeting to go to?

The answer is no. What you see are the cassocks and birettas and fiddleback chasubles and accuse us of being “out of touch.” Well the reality is, you are guilty of the very thing you accuse us of. You ignore our humanity, our struggle, our sincerity, and you fixate on external things to make your judgments.

As difficult as it is at times, I love being a priest with my whole heart. Not because it offers me an exalted status or any privileges, but because it offers me, and the people I serve, the means by which to attain salvation. I love the people I serve to death, and I would do anything within my means to help them. If you look at my cassock and presume otherwise, I can only feel sorry for you.

Myself and the other men who were indirectly insulted in this interview are the ones on the battlefield. As parish priests, we work hard, sacrifice hard, and try daily to live solely for God in Jesus Christ. Instead of insinuating that Theological College had to somehow put up with a decade or more of rigid, overly-conservative, and ideological seminarians, why not offer us a word of encouragement and perhaps even a prayer or two?

Friday, 17 June 2016

Mass at Sizergh Castle this evening

I'm celebrating Low Mass at Sizergh Castle this today - Friday 17th June at 7pm.  Anyone who can get along there would be very welcome. The castle is one of the longest inhabited houses in the country - lived in by the same family since 1239.

Sizergh, near Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8AE.   Sat Nav : LA8 8DZ

The gentleman pictured above sporting the trendy beard is St. Gregory Barbarigo. According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII, today is his feast day. He was only canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960. He was the Bishop of Bergamo and of Padua. St. Gregory was noted as a distinguished churchman and leading citizen whose charities were on a princely scale. He worked for unity of the Latin and Orthodox Churches.

St. Gregory was born on September 16, 1625, and he died in 1697. His family lived in Venice and were held in high repute by the people there. He was the fourth son. He excelled in his studies at an early age and became interested in diplomacy and statesmanship. He knew Contarine, the Venetian ambassador, and went with him on at least one ambassadorial mission.

After he was ordained a priest in 1655, he organized care for the plague-stricken people of Rome. In 1657, Pope Alexander VII made him the first Bishop of Bergamo. He was a leader in promoting the reforms of the Council of Trent. He visited parishes, organizing the teaching of Christian doctrine and also worked with seminarians and clergy to raise their standards. His work was so respected that in 1660, he was made the Cardinal of Padua.

St. Gregory was extremely interested in higher education and worked for the development of seminaries and libraries. He established a printing press that printed pamphlets for Christians under Moslem rule. He was active in labouring to bring about a reunion with the Greek Church. St. Gregory took part in five papal Conclaves and was a candidate in three of them. It is recorded that his congregation thought him to be a man filled with wisdom.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Actual Mass changes sanctioned by Vatican II

The clip above is from a 1969 Elvis Presley film "Change of Habit". I'm not aware of having come across it before but the juxtaposition of the Mass going on in the traditional manner (1965 Missal, it seems) while Mr Presley gyrates to the strumming of the guitar struck me as a particularly extraordinary form of the Mass. (Although there is a continuity blip at about 3 minutes in where a lady in a blue dress from the Offertory procession seems to be assisting at the altar; perhaps some advanced liturgical experimenting already setting in?)

I found it on Mgr Pope's site Community and Mission, in a post examining the "actual" Mass endorsed by Vatican II before the modernists got their hands on moving everything along in the spirit, rather than according to what was actually mandated.

That being said, if I'd ever heard any guitar group and singers as good as this in church, perhaps I wouldn't mind so much... 
... well, perhaps.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Modern Church architecture - "Sometimes it goes wrong"

According to an article in the Telegraph newspaper, Cardinal Ravasi has taken against the architectural style - or lack of it - in modernist churches being built recently. I think the trouble is that churches - and the wanton "re-orderings" that go on - are usually carried out by architects with no feel for liturgy and no experience of faith. Thus, the elements that make an excellent dentist's waiting room do not transpose themselves to the creation of a beautiful or suitable church. Without an understanding of the history of church architecture and liturgy, an architect designs a space for people to gather in that reflects secular gathering places - dentist's waiting rooms, theatre's, academic auditoria, sports facilities. While some elements of light, comfort, ease of access can be learnt from these, without the major element of understanding what a church is principally used for - the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - we are left short-changed.


Opposition is mounting in the Holy See to a spate of recent, ultra-modern churches, in Italy and abroad, by high profile architects.

"The lack of integration between the architect and the faith community has at times been negative," said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's Pontificial Council for Culture. "Sometimes it goes wrong."

Cardinal Ravasi said a church built in 2009 in Foligno, Italy by the celebrated Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, which resembles a monolithic concrete cube, has been "highly criticised".
In his native town of Merate in Lombardy, Cardinal Ravasi said the local priest needed to bring his own image of the Madonna to mass, because Mario Botta, the architect who designed the church, had not installed one.

"The problem is that in Catholicism, unlike Protestantism, things like the altar, the images, are essential, while architects tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound," said Cardinal Ravasi.

The last architects to work closely with the church were back in the 17th century Baroque era, he added.
Cardinal Ravasi's attack was backed last month by Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican museums, when he spoke at the launch of a book celebrating the building of dozens of new churches in the suburbs of Rome since the 1990s.

Instead of praising the churches, Mr Paolucci lashed out, claiming that: "At best, these are like museums, spaces that do not suggest prayer or meditation."

Cardinal Ravasi conceded that one of Rome's most controversial new churches – Richard Meier's Jubilee Church, which resembles a yacht with spinnakers hoisted – had won over locals, but complained that "the building materials were the focus of pre-construction meetings, not the liturgical life".

Cardinal Ravasi was speaking after inaugurating the Vatican's first ever art exhibit at the Venice Biennale on Saturday, which focuses on the Book of Genesis through photography and paintings by a Los Angeles artist, Lawrence Carroll, who uses melting ice in one work.

Vatican officials believe the show can help heal what they call a century old "fracture" between religion and art, and Cardinal Ravasi said the Church now had its sights on commissioning modern liturgical art, for installing in churches.

"The Venice Biennale exhibit has been the first step on a journey," he said. "Further down the line could come liturgical art, meaning we could commission modern artists to create altars, fonts, tabernacles, lecterns, pews and kneelers," he added.

But after letting modern architects push the envelope too far, the Church will keep a wary eye on liturgical art commissions, he said.

"We will need to build up dialogue with artists before we commission any liturgical art," he said.


Here are some of the examples from around Rome and no wonder he criticises them... but I'm sure we could all think of examples closer to home... I know I can!


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Chavagnes Summer Conference 2016. The Virgin Mary in liturgy, literature and life

Some further details of the 

Chavagnes Summer Conference 
1st - 5th August 2016

The Virgin Mary in liturgy, literature and life.

Chavagnes International College, 
Chavagnes en Paillers, France.

A conference on the occasion of the 
300th anniversary 
of the death of 
St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort

 Speakers include:

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: 
“The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Defence of the Faith” 

Ferdi McDermott:
“Mary as the air that we breathe: the legacy of St Louis Grignon de Montfort”

 Father Mark Lawler:
“G.K. Chesterton on Mary and the Church.”

 Father Bede Rowe:
“Mary as at Ark of the New Covenant” 

Father Jason Jones:
“Mary in the Teachings of St John Paul II”. 

Father Michel Favalier, FMI : 
“The Venerable Louis Marie Baudouin
and the spirituality of the Incarnation”. 

Gerhard Eger:
“Mary in the Teachings of St John Paul II”. 

Donal Foley:
“Our Lady of Fatima and the Church, 100 years on.”

The College Chapel during a visit of the Diocesan Bishop.

The programme of talks and other things of interest is below. Al looks very interesting and some trips out. I suspect that there will be a good atmosphere of friendship, liturgical celebration and interesting conference talks.

You can access the College website for further information.

You can book directly online here.

Monday 1st August

Transport from airport in Nantes arranged free of charge.

18.30 Apéritif

19.00 Dinner

20.45: Optional outing to The Priory of Grammont (founded by Richard the Lionheart) for a Concert of Gregorian chant and polyphony with the ensemble ‘Les Chants de Garonne.’. (Return about 11pm)

Tuesday 2nd August

Early morning private Masses

8.00- 8.45: Buffet English/continental breakfast.

From 9.00: Registration, administration, socialising.

10.00: Welcome session, with opening remarks from Ferdi McDermott, Father Mark Lawler, Bishop Schneider and other members of the speakers’ panel.

10.45: Coffee

11.15: "Mary as the air that we breathe": Conference on the spiritual legacy of St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort. Ferdi McDermott.

12.15: Solemn High Mass, in the Extraordinary Form.

13.30 : Lunch

14.30: "Our Lady as the Ark of the New Covenant", Father Bede Rowe.

15.30: “The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Defence of the Faith”, Bishop Athanasius Schneider.

17:00 Tea

18.15: Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary

18.30: Vespers

19.00 Apéritif

19.30 Dinner

21.15: Compline

Wednesday 3rd August

Early morning private Masses

8.00- 8.30: Buffet English/continental breakfast.

8.45: "Our Lady in English Letters", Ferdi McDermott.

9.30: Votive Mass of Our Lady, celebrated by Bishop Schneider in the Extraordinary Form.

11.00: Depart for Mortagne sur Sèvre by coach (with the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary during journey.)

11.30 Arrive at Mortagne sur Sèvre.

12.00-15.00: Lunch aboard the historic Restaurant car of the Orient Express (Chemin de Fer de la Vendée), with train ride.

15.00: Coach ride to St Laurent sur Sèvre.

15.15: Arrive St Laurent sur Sèvre for pilgrimage visit to the tomb and Shrine of of St Louis de Montfort.

16.00: Return coach to Chavagnes

16.30 Tea

17.00: “Our Lady of Fatima and the Church: 100 years on”, Donal Foley. 18.00: Vespers and Benediction.

19.00: Apéritif

19.30: Dinner

21.15 Compline

Thursday 4th August

Early morning private Masses

8.00- 8.45: Buffet English/continental breakfast.

9.00: "Mary in the teachings of St John Paul II"; Father Jason Jones.

10.00: "The Venerable Louis-Marie Baudouin and the spirituality of the Incarnation"; by Father Michel Favalier, FMI. (Followed by a brief visit to Father Baudouin’s tomb.)

11.00 Coffee

11.30: “Mary as Model of the Church in the writings of G.K. Chesterton”, Father Mark Lawler

12.20: Mass of Feast of St Jean Marie Vianney, in the Ordinary Form.

13.40: Lunch

14.40 : “Approaching Mary through the Liturgy”, Gerhard Eger

16.00 : Concluding reflections, discussion, questions:
            Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Ferdi  McDermott.

17.00: Tea

17.45: Joyful mysteries of the Rosary.

18.00: Pontifical Vespers

19.00 Aperitif

19.30 Dinner

21.15 Compline

Friday 5th August

Early morning private Masses

From 7.30-9.30; Buffet continental breakfast

Transport to airport, or stations, etc.

St Laurent sur Sèvre: the tomb and Shrine of of St Louis de Montfort.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The best way is certainly to celebrate - priests and faithful - all turned in the same direction

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has again re-iterated past comments, this time in an interview given to a French Magazine, The Christian Family. The translation below is a bit rough and ready but you will catch the general drift.

For those of us who went through seminary in the 1980's and who endured all sorts of criticism and disapproval, being side-lined for attempting to do as he suggests, it is amazing that we have now had Popes, Cardinals and bishops endorsing what we were once told was basically an heretical interpretation of the Second Vatican Council.

Now more and more diocese are setting up churches for the Traditional Form of the Mass - either under the direction of one of the flourishing Traditional Societies or as diocesan enterprises (to say nothing of the older societies, such as the Oratorians, who now flourish, while other religious who given in to the spirit of the age have no vocations to keep things going) . The latest such enterprise announced just yesterday is to be in Leeds. The new generation of bishops now coming through just don't have the same animus against all things traditional that seemed to be the hallmark of the lentils and sandals generation following the 1960's. They see a wider Church and respond where they see things working and growing.

Which is not to say that those of us who are already doing what Cardinal Sarah suggests are now having an easy time of it. In fact, the celebration of the liturgy in the ways he suggests are still pretty rare in most parishes and considered an "oddity". Well, according to the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, they are an oddity at the heart of the Second Vatican Council's image of the liturgy.  


Over recent weeks you have expressed the wish to see the Eucharist to be “understood as the  central sacrament of sacraments ". Why is that ?

I wish we would engage on a greater reflection on this issue, to put the Eucharist at the centre of our lives. I note that many of our liturgies have become entertainment. Often the priest no longer celebrates the love of Christ through his sacrifice, but a meeting between friends, a warm meal, a fraternal moment. In seeking to invent creative and festive liturgies, we run the risk of a too human worship, to match the desires and fashions of the moment. Bit by bit, the faithful are taken far from the gift that gives us Life. For Christians, the Eucharist, it is a matter of life or death!

How to put God at the centre?

The liturgy is the door of our union with God. If the Eucharistic celebrations themselves are turned into human self celebrations, the danger is immense, for God disappears. We must begin with put God at the centre of the liturgy. If man is the centre, the Church becomes a purely human society, simply an NGO, as the Pope  Francis said. If, conversely, God is at the heart of the liturgy, then the Church will regain its vigour and vitality! "  In our relationship with the liturgy is the destiny of the faith and of the Church" thus wrote prophetically Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

What remedy do you recommend?

The recognition of the liturgy as a work of God opens the way to a true conversion of heart. Vatican II insisted on one major point: in this area, the important thing is not what we do but what God does. No human work can never achieve what is in the heart of the Mass, the sacrifice of the cross.

The liturgy allows us to go outside the walls of this world. Finding the sacredness and beauty of the liturgy, therefore, requires a work training for lay people, priests and bishops. It is an inner conversion.

To put God at the centre of the liturgy, it is also in discovered in silence— that ability to be quiet to listen to God and his word. I say that we meet God in the silence and deepening his word in the depths of our heart.

How do we do that concretely?

Convert, to turn to God. I am deeply convinced that our bodies must be involved in this conversion. The best way is certainly to celebrate - priests and faithful - all turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes to us. It is not a question, as we sometimes hear, of celebrating with his back to the faithful. The problem is not there. This is turn together towards the apse, symbolizing the East where stands the cross of the risen Lord.

By this way of celebrating, we will experience, even in our body, the primacy of God and worship. We understand that the liturgy is our first participation in the perfect sacrifice of the cross. I have personally experienced this; celebrating this way, the congregation with the priest at its head, is drawn to the mystery of the cross at the elevation.

But this way is allowed?

It is legitimate and complies with the letter and spirit of the Council. As prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I want to remind that the celebration ad orientem is authorized by the rubrics, which specify the times when the celebrant must turn to the people. There is, therefore, no need for  special permission to celebrate turned towards the Lord. Thus, in an article published by L'Osservatore Romano , in June 2015, I proposed that the priests and the faithful look to the East, at least during the rite of penance, during the singing of the Gloria, the Collects and the Eucharistic Prayer.

In the minds of many, the altar's orientation change is related to Vatican II. Is it true ?
More than fifty years after the close of Vatican II, it is urgent that we read the texts! The Council has never asked to celebrate facing the people! This issue is not even addressed by the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium ... Moreover, the Council Fathers wished to emphasize the need for all to enter into participation of the mystery celebrated. In the years since Vatican II, the Church has sought ways to implement this intuition.

So celebrate facing the people has become a possibility, but not an obligation. The Liturgy of the Word warrants face-to-face reading and listening, dialogue and education between the priest and his people. But as soon as we reach the moment when one turns to God - from the Offertory - it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the East. This corresponds exactly to what has wanted the Council Fathers.

I think we should return to the texts of the Council. Some adaptations to the local culture have probably not been sufficiently matured. I think of the translation of the Roman Missal. In some countries, important elements have been removed, particularly during the offertory. In French, the translation of the Orate Fratres has been truncated. The priest should say, "  Pray brethren, that my sacrifice that is also yours is pleasing to God the Father Almighty.  " And the faithful replied, " May the Lord receive from your hands this sacrifice for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church. " In the audience granted to me on Saturday, April 2, the Pope confirmed to me that the new translations of the Roman Missal must respect the Latin text.

What are you doing for the participation of the faithful?

The participation of the faithful is paramount. It is primarily to be called to follow Christ in the mystery of his death and resurrection. " We do not go to Mass to attend a performance. We go to participate in the mystery of God," recalled Pope Francis recently. The orientation of the assembly to the Lord is a simple and practical way of promoting a real participation of all in the liturgy.

The participation of the faithful can not therefore be understood as the need to do "something ". On this point, we have distorted the teaching of the Council. Rather, it is to let Christ take us and associate us with his sacrifice. Only a hardened look in contemplative faith will prevent us from reducing the liturgy to a show where everyone has a role to play. The Eucharist draws us into Jesus' prayer and his sacrifice, because only he can worship in spirit and in truth.

What sense does the Church give to this question of direction?

First, we are not alone in praying oriented manner. The Jewish Temple and synagogues have always been oriented. By finding this direction we can go back to our origins. I also note that non-Christians, Muslims in particular, are directed to pray in a particular direction.

For us, the light is Jesus Christ. The whole Church is facing Christ. Ad Dominum. A Church closed in on itself in a closed circle has lost its reason for being. To be herself, the Church must live before God. Our point of reference is the Lord! We know that He lived with us and He went back to the Father on the Mount of Olives, to the east of Jerusalem.  And that He will return in the same way. Stay turned to the Lord, then wait every day. It should not be that God is constantly complaining: " They turn to me their backs instead of turning their face towards me! " ( Jr 2, 27).