Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Carol Concert this Saturday

Carol Concert
With Mince pies & mulled wine
Free Entry

St Catherine’s Church
Stanifield Lane      Farington    (Next to the park)

Saturday 20th December
A collection will take place for those
suffering from leprosy.       

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Mass in Brussels

 St Michaels's College and the church of St John Berchmans in Brussels

I spent last weekend in Brussels for a gathering of the Order of St Lazarus  as the Commandery in Belgium was raised to the status of a Grand Priory. (More on that at that here.) Members gathered in the church of St John Berchamans for the celebration of Mass celebrated by Chaplain General of the Order in France, Rev Fr Claude Girault, Rector of the Cathedral of Orléans. Mass was greatly enhanced by the singers of the Petits Chanteurs de Belgique, who sang the Missa Brevis de Léo Delibes (you can here the Kyrie from it here.) Together with the Investiture the Mass was quite long but the boys of the choir were as professional in their behaviour as in their singing. 

 The church is part of the Jesuit College of St Michael.

 The interior of the church.

On the Sunday, I managed to find a Missa Cantata offered by the FFSP in the Church of St John and St Stephen at 62, Rue Minimes.  I couldn't follow much of the 20 minute long sermon (!) in French but at least I could join in with the chant and responses of the Mass.  Once again, it struck me as such a strange thing that in an era when people travel more than ever, that the universality of Latin would be so appropriate and helpful to bind us all together. What a pity that so little use is made of the Church's ancient language.   Even in my own very small parish in Britain, there are several nationalities represented, with not everyone's English being excellent.  We have families from Egypt, Ghana and the Philippines - particularly when they first arrive, being able to take part in Mass in a way that is familiar to them would be a great help.  If only we used the language we were directed to by the Second Vatican Council and other papal pronouncements since.  Not by chance did Saint John Paul II recall that:
“The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself” (Dominicae cenae, n. 10).
In continuity with the Magisterium of his Predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, besides wishing that there would be a greater use of the traditional Latin language in liturgical celebrations, especially during international gatherings, wrote:
“Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant” (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 62).

Archbishop Andrew Leonard of Archdiocese Brussels-Malines celebrated Mass in the church in 2011.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Novena for the Immaculate Conception

For anyone who might be able to get there, St Walburge's in Preston is holding a Novena this coming week with guest preachers.  If you haven't been along to this fantastic church, then here is an opportunity to go and see it. You can find their website at The Spire.

Mass being offered at the Shrine.

O Mary conceived without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Empty chairs in empty churches

Mark Lambert has picked up on Fr Dwight Lonenecker's piece about why church attendance is, for the most part, in decline in the Western world.  

Conclusion: many people just don't really understand what church is for.

This is certainly true whenever we now interact with those who don't usually darken the doors of the Church - at times of marriages, funerals, baptisms and first Communions.  What they are looking for is not what the Church actually offers but all too often we cave in and give them the watered down, insipid, secularised version that they come seeking and so those that come to such events experience very little of the true content of the Faith.

What they experience is just not powerful enough or different enough from what they might get in other arenas to make people make the effort on a Sunday morning. 

I think he's hit on something there.  

Once we present church as entertainment, we can't compete with the professional entertainers in film, stage and TV.  

Once we present it as a commodity (everyone "getting Communion") we can't compete with teh professional emporiums of commerce.

Once we present church as a party we can't compete with a good restaurant or a noisy bar.

Once we present church as a crèche we can't compete with the professional child carers and educators in our schools and nurseries.

The only Unique Selling Point we have is salvation, redemption from sin, warfare with the forces of darkness, the reality of the spiritual world -  but these are things we have so often lost confidence in talking about, so we try to compete on other people's turf and come off looking second rate, boring and irrelevant.

A loss in confidence in its core message is bound to reflect rather poorly in any organisation - human or divine.  We do indeed have a unique "product" but it's hidden away in the back room (or the back sacristy).  It takes confidence to bring it out.

The wonder is that so often we hear of great "celebrations" taking place in regard to the way the Church has moved in recent decades.  The "celebration" to close the church / convent / seminary / monastery or "celebration" some other aspect of Church life that is, in anyone's reality, so obviously in decline.  A real bit or Orwellian doublespeak.

I'm reminded of the lyrics sung by Marius in Les Miserables - the empty chairs and empty tables being the empty pews and empty altars:
There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How to elect a Pope

The "Telegraph" newspaper reports today on Austen Ivereigh's forthcoming book "The Great Reformer" - a biography of Pope Francis.   Ivereigh is the former Press Secretary to Murphy-O'Connor when he was Archbishop of Westminster.

According to the report, the book will reveal that:
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis.
Disclosing that:
... there had been a discreet, but highly organised, campaign by a small group of European cardinals in support of Cardinal Bergoglio...  Writer Austen Ivereigh, nicknames the group “Team Bergoglio” and says members toured private dinners and other gatherings of cardinals in the days before the conclave, quietly putting their case.
You can't believe everything you read but this open an interesting window on how the politics of an election are sometimes managed. Even if the politics may make you a bit sad on this day when we remember that Christ the King calls us to move beyond worldly king-making.

As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this:
I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.  
(Ezekiel 34:17 - from the Feast of Christ the King)

You can read the full article here.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Art in the Service of the Poor and the Glory of God

I attended a lovely concert of organ music and some pieces sung by the choir at the church of St Joseph in Stokesley, North Yorkshire yesterday afternoon.  Parish Priest, Fr William Charlton, somewhat surprised his congregation with his prowess on the organ (obviously during Mass he's usually rather busy elsewhere).  

Fr Charlton became a Chaplain to the Order of St Lazarus earlier this year in Derbyshire and organised the recital in support of our charity in Sri Lanka, SUROL, looking after those suffering from leprosy.  We were delighted to see a full church and rejoiced at the generosity of the parishioners in giving £1,000 to the work of the Order.  A big thank you to Fr Charlton, the singers and parishioners - as well as those who organised the refreshments afterwards.

Fr Charleton conducting the schola.

In a fitting link to the Order of St Lazarus, there is a fine window depicting the raising of Lazarus in the church (pictured above).  It's one of a series designed in the 1940's by the then Parish Priest, Fr John J. MacDonnell. Some of the others are pictured below.  They are very atmospheric and although traditional in style at first glance, have a definite modern twist to them.  Perhaps part of that tradition that is sometimes called the "other modern", when referring to ecclesiastical works of art that are innovative but remain in the tradition of sacred art instead of aping the nihilistic forms of secular modern art that we have so often subjected to in churches over recent decades.

 The Resurrection.

My Favourite. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden.

 A detail from the Expulsion.

 The rose window over the East end depicting the Crucifixion.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

In strict agreement with all the rules of the Church

The altar in readiness.

I was intrigued by the post on Catholic Extension about the Fr Peter learning material.  For a bit of fun I have downloaded the links and am giving them to the altar boys to do a bit of homework.  In fact, they are a remarkably useful and entertaining bit of learning.

 Dominus vobiscum.
(And, Yes, I know he shouldn't be wearing his biretta at this point.)

 Devotions in readiness.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Actually, the accompanying notes and instructions are excellent : "Fr Peter's altar is in strict agreement with all the rules of the church."  Oh, if only it were always so - for altars, synods and  everything else.


avandia recall