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.  

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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).


Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Corpus Christi Traditional Form Mass - Thursday


We are celebrating a 
Missa Cantata for Corpus Christi 
here at 
St Catherine's 
this 
Thursday at 7pm.

Glass of wine and light refreshments to follow in the 
Pope John Paul Room.


The same reason which caused the Festival of the Holy Trinity, induced the Catholic Church to institute the festival of Corpus Christi. She requires that we shall confess and renew today the faith which we have in the Blessed Eucharist, and that we bestow all possible honours upon the Most Holy Sacrament and give due thanks to our Saviour for its institution. 

In order that this just requirement of the Church may be more fully complied with, we shall here give some explanation of the above reasons. In regard to the first reason, the following are the facts, which the church especially desires to call to our memory by this joyous festival. Our dear Saviour, on the same evening when His bitter suffering for the redemption of man began, instituted the Blessed Eucharist, out of His immeasurable love for us. In it He is truly and substantially present with body and soul, with flesh and blood, as God and Man, under the form of bread and wine. Under the form of bread, not only His holy body, but also His holy blood is present; because a living body cannot exist without blood. Hence he receives it, who partakes of holy communion only in the form of bread, not less than he who receives it in two forms.

From the moment that the priest speaks the prescribed holy words, in the name of Christ, over the bread and wine, the Lord is present in the Holy Sacrament. Bread and wine change their substance miraculously into the true body and blood of the Saviour, in such a manner, that all that remains of the bread and wine is their form, colour and taste. The presence of Christ lasts so long as the bread and the wine are unconsumed. All these points are articles of faith in the Catholic Church, and are explained in sermons, in religious instructions and in many books, and are especially demonstrated by the word of God. All true Catholics believe this without any doubt, as the Almighty, who is eternal and infallible truth, has revealed it, and as that Church assures us, which on account of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, promised to her by Christ, cannot err. Those who are not Catholics teach in many points quite differently. 

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger,

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Celebrate Good Times

The Grand Master

As well as the Mass and Investiture, 
the 350th anniversary of the Order in Belgium 
was celebrated with a cocktail party and a splendid Charity Dinner.

The Grand Prior of Belgium making us welcome.

Cocktails were served in the Napoleon Room of 
Le Cercle Catholique
on the Cathedral Square.

HE Matthew Jackson, 
Grand Secretary and our own Marshal, 
enjoys the refreshments.
He was serving at the altar for me when he was only ten years old!

New Chaplain to the Order, Abbé Serge de Cauwer
explains the Belgium sense of humour.

 
Don Cyrille Bachelfort greets Princess Léa of Belgium.

With Prince Charles-Phillipe and some of the British contingent.

Guests of honour, including Princess Lea of Belgium,
Princess Marie Gabrielle of Savoy and
Mr Maxime Prevot, Vice President of the Walloon Government.
You might notice behind them all the companies
who are sponsoring the work of the Order in Belgium.
A reminder that our celebrating was not an end in itself.

A Gala Dinner followed in the smart setting of
Castle Cercle de Wallonie 
in the Namur Citadel.



Pierre Piccinin da Prata, writer and war reporter
and member of the Belgian Grand Priory.
Twice held hostage in Syria during his work.





Looking ready for dinner...
... or at least for those wine glasses to be filled.
Where is that waiter?

With thanks to François de Ribaucourt for kind permission to use his photographs.


Mass in Belgium

 
 The Entrance Procession of Knights and Dames led by the thurifer.
At least they know how to swing a thurible in Belgium.
Introibo ad altare Dei.

The Grand Priory of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg held a splendid Mass in the city of Numur, capital of the Province of Wallonia last weekend, to which their Grand Prior, Damien Van Bellinghen had kindly invited me.
There are a few photos below but many more over at the 




 Mass was celebrated by Archpriest of the Cathedral, 
Canon Jean-Marie Huet.

 Grand Masters of the Order past and present.



H.E. Cev. Matthew Jackson, Grand Secretary, reads the Epistle.


Chaplain to the Order, Don Cyrille Bachelfort, 
proclaims the Gospel and preaches.


The Investiture is announced.

 Blessing the Insignia for the new members.

The Grand Master welcomes Abbé Serge de Cauwer as a new Chaplain.

 The splendid Cathederal of St Aubain.
Interestingly, in 1908 it was a Belgian architect,
Charles Ménart,
who used the cathedral as his inspiration for 
St Aloysius Church, in Glasgow
(which has a fine depiction of St Lazarus in its mortuary chapel).

 The music for the Mass was sung by Les Petite Chanteurs de Belgique.

A great pity, as in so many cases, that the architectural splendour of the Cathedral has been liturgically rather compromised by ignoring the focus around which the architect constructed it - the high altar. The usual bland platform and rather mini-altar have been installed, leaving the actual high altar as no more than picturesque scenery, which would be a much more suitable seat for the drama of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The Mass setting was composed by this young man,
Mario Macedo from Brazil,
Missa Sancti Lazari.
A wonderful setting based on plainchant
but with added harmonies and embellishments.

 The (surely exhausted) singers.

Statue reliquary of Saint Aubain
Silver beaten and chiselled, Namur 1718.

For those who may not have come across St Aubain before. He was born in 360 in the Greek island of Naxos, Aubain. Around 380AD he visited St. Ambrose of Milan, who sent him into Gaul as a missionary priest in charge of the fight against the Arian heretics who denied the divinity of Jesus and were condemned by the Council of Nicaea in 325. With missionary zeal Aubain worked in France before reaching 404 in Mainz, Germany, always ready to defend the truth of Christ, professed in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed. Hunted by the heretics, he was beheaded at Mainz in 406, and his relics were brought to Namur in the 11th century. It has been said of him that he had died of loyalty to the this phrase of the Creed in particular and especially to the reality it expresses:

“God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father.”

With thanks to François de Ribaucourt for kind permission to use his photographs.



Quarantore in Manchester

Bl Juvenal Ancina of the Oratory, Bishop of Saluzzo,
before the Blessed Sacrament

The Oratorain Community at St Chad's Church

Cheetham Hill Road
Manchester
M8 8GG
are keeping

Forty Hours Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
Friday 27th May 
beginning at the 5.30pm Solemn Mass
continuously until
Sunday 29th May 
at the 11.30am Solemn Mass and Procession


Devotions throughout the Forty Hours

Friday 27th May

5.30pm    Solemn Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

9pm        Sung Compline

12 midnight    Stations of the Cross


Saturday 28th May

3am    The Seven Penitential Psalms & Meditation on the Passion

6am    Devotions of St Alphonsus

9am    Sung Terce

11am    Mass

12 noon    The Seven Sorrows of Our Lady

3pm    Rosary

7pm    Musical Oratory (Sermons, Hymns and Music)

12 midnight    Prayers for the Bishop, the Diocese and for our Parish


Sunday 29th May - The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

6am    Meditations on the Blessed Sacrament from the Writings of the Saints

8am    Mass

11.30am    Solemn Mass, Procession and Solemn Benediction

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A Pentecost Octave by any other name


I'm wearing these Holy Spirit Vestments this week, as I am following the example of Fr Ray Blake and offering Votive Masses of the Holy Spirit in the New Form of Mass in the pattern of the Octave of Holy Week in the Traditional Form.


 These are some images of the vestment laid out for the week. On the back is depicted the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove casting down grace in the form of rays onto the storm tossed Church below. Certainly an apt image in these times for the Barque of Peter.
.

The front depicts the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
in the form of tongues of fire.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Why can't a woman be more like a man? Or Why can't a nun be more like a priest?


Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, seems to have set off another round of speculation from a seemingly unprepared and off the cuff remark. Female deacons - or is it deaconesses? There is an eloquent analysis of this at One Peter5 and in many other places. You can read the actual transcript here.

Two things strike me immediately.

1. Already, whatever may or may not happen about any commission, there is an interchangeable use of the word "deacon" and "deaconess" - even in the transcript of the question and answer the Pope gave. Surely the two are not he same - not that it would matter, I suspect, should that particular false trail be set out upon.

2. Pope Francis also went on to say:
I will tell you something that comes after, because I saw that there is a general question. Consecrated women must go to the consultations, the assemblies of the Congregation for Religious: this is for certain. Consecrated women must go into the consultations on the many problems that are presented. Another thing: better inclusion. At the moment, concrete things do not come to mind, but again, as I said before: to seek the opinion of consecrated women, because women see things with an originality different than that of men, and this is enriching: both in discussions, and in decision-making, as well as in concrete reality.
 All this is good. Why should not women - consecrated and otherwise - be more involved? I was at a Conference just recently where most of the clergy might have been considered generally traditionally minded  (though they might style themselves simply orthodox) where two of the four speakers were highly able committed Catholic lay women working in challenging areas. As far as I could see, they had the respect of everyone present and gave excellent presentations, the content of which I certainly took to heart. 

Just because they were talking to a room full of men didn't mean that they had to become men themselves. Pope Francis says above that women - consecrated and otherwise - should be more involved but why must they become ordained to do so? Can women not advise, lead and innovate without without cross-dressing in a cassock? Surely we should aim, as the Pope seems to say, at enabling women to be included without them having to give up their own particular beautiful and noble calling - as women, as nuns or Religious. Can we not work to improve in this area without trying to make the only role in the Church that is worth anything is to be a cleric? We would characterise a man dressed in a nun's habit as "cross dressing", might not the same be applied to a woman dressed in a roman collar?

It appears to me that the same gender dismorphia that is taking a grip in our western world's media at the moment is the same spirit at work here. Is it not possible to acknowledge that men and women are different and can play - fruitfully and equitably - different roles in life and in the Church? Is it not possible to work for equality between men and women, without having to do away with all differences between them? Is the new ideal that we all to become hermaphrodites?

Can it really be that the answer to inequality is for a woman to be more like a man, as Professor Higgins believed? Is a woman becoming more like a man really the best the modern woman can hope for?