Saturday, 25 October 2014

Lethal teaching

There has been various reporting (here and here) on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's message to faculty and students of the Pontifical Urbanianum University in Rome (the address was read by Archbishop Georg Ganswein). The passage drawing attention is this:
"The risen Lord instructed his apostles, and through them his disciples in all ages, to take his word to the ends of the earth and to make disciples of all people," retired Pope Benedict wrote. "'But does that still apply?' many inside and outside the church ask themselves today. 'Is mission still something for today? Would it not be more appropriate to meet in dialogue among religions and serve together the cause of world peace?' The counter-question is: 'Can dialogue substitute for mission?'
"In fact, many today think religions should respect each other and, in their dialogue, become a common force for peace. According to this way of thinking, it is usually taken for granted that different religions are variants of one and the same reality," the retired pope wrote. "The question of truth, that which originally motivated Christians more than any other, is here put inside parentheses. It is assumed that the authentic truth about God is in the last analysis unreachable and that at best one can represent the ineffable with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems realistic and useful for peace among religions in the world.
"It is nevertheless lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and its seriousness, everything is reduced to interchangeable symbols, capable of referring only distantly to the inaccessible mystery of the divine," 
I think that our retired Holy Father has hit on something that is pervasive throughout the Church in our day - certainly in the westernised Church.  It struck me that this attitude is not just compromising mission in preaching the Faith to those outside the Church but is also compromising the mission of handing on of the Faith within the Church.  We are so busy teaching Catholic children that they must respect those of other Faiths and none, that we leave no room for teaching the wonder, truth, uniqueness and certainty of Catholic Faith and its claims upon those who would profess it.  

The great fear seems to be that if we don't teach children about all these other ways of living and believing (or not) then we create a sectarian grouping that will despise all those outside it.  This skewed emphasis leaves children's minds formed just as Pope Benedict says, with Catholic children growing up believing that Faith has no binding character, it is reduced to a series of interchangeable truths.  We all get along perfectly well because no-one actually believes anything different from their non-Catholic neighbours - for which we might read, no one believes anything at all.  Do we really think that you can't be a distinctive fully believing Catholic without being a bigot?  Even the supermarkets appreciate the power of brand loyalty.

No wonder then, that so very few in recent generations makes the effort to fulfil the Catholic obligation to attend Holy Mass each Sunday, for their education has taught them the wrong answers to the questions:

What obligation?
What are the consequences of not fulfilling this obligation?
What difference does it make if I don't bother?

I use the Sunday Mass obligation merely as one practical example, for the same applies to each and any teaching.  

It's ironic that in our alleged multi-cultural societies, where freedom of choice in the way an individual lives his or her life is so lauded, that the Church in its schools, seminaries and parishes is so terrified of identifying itself as different from the society around it.  It seems that we are desperate to erase every teaching and practice that would mark us out as different from the secular world around us.  With this mantra, no wonder we are in truth becoming just like the world around us, so it then becomes a perfectly valid question to ask why we bother at all with the Church, the Gospels, the Tradition of the Faith.

Our method of teaching, on the evidence of producing believing and practising Catholics, is indeed  a lethal weapon when it comes to nurturing faith 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What will this day be like? I wonder. What will my future be? I wonder. It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free My heart should be wildly rejoicing Oh, what's the matter with me?

I wonder if the Holy Father is pondering what the Synod will bring.
It brought to mind the song from the Sound of Music...

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure
To do the things I've never dared
And here I'm facing adventure
Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children
What's so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don't I just know I'll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I'm worthy
And while I show them 
I'll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I'll do better than my best
I have confidence they'll put me to the test
But I'll make them see I have confidence in me

Somehow I will impress them
I will be firm but kind
And all those children (Heaven bless them!)
They will look up to me

And mind me with each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me

Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)

I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

On a more serious note, I have been pondering some of the insights (and otherwise) surrounding the Synod on the Family. Indeed, I wrote down some reflections but didn't carry them through to posting.  
Fr Dwight Longenecker has published his thoughts over at Crisis Magazine and I thought they were worth a read:

The Holy Father has been very good in lecturing priests and telling us what to do. We are to go out into the world and “make a mess.” We are to “smell like the sheep.” We are to welcome all with compassion, forgiveness and mercy. We are to be good and kind pastors who administer the sacraments with care and concern. We are to seek out the poor, castigate the rich, side with the unfortunate, heal the sick, support the immigrants and reach out to the lowly. We are to welcome the divorced and remarried, not judge those with same sex attraction and open the doors of the church to all with a warm hearted and affirming form of evangelization by attraction.
This is a message I endorse and embrace. I want to be that kind of priest. I want to be Jesus to the world. I long to care for the poor and hungry, minister to their needs, welcome all to the church as the father welcomes the prodigal. I wish to have the open heart Pope Francis has. I want to show the attractiveness of Christ, the radiant truth of the gospel and the joy of the abundant life that Jesus brings to the world. I long to celebrate the sacraments with love, care, hope, joy and compassion. I want to be the persona Christi, the image of God and the face of the Father not only to my flock, but to all who I meet. 
I have heard the words of my Holy Father and taken them to heart. I sincerely want to be that kind of priest. 
However, I can only do this if the timeless truths of the Catholic faith are firmly defined and defended. The dogmas, doctrines and disciplines of the Catholic faith are the tools of my trade. They provide the rules for engagement, the playbook for the game, the map for the journey and the content for the mercy and compassion I wish to display. The historic teachings of the Catholic faith, founded on the teachings of Christ the Lord, revealed by divine inspiration and developed through the magisterium of the Catholic Church provide the method for my mercy, the content for my compassion and the only saving truths I have to share.
This is teamwork Holy Father. I can only do the job you want me to do if you do the job you have been called to do. With the greatest respect and love, please don’t feel that it is your job to tinker with the timeless truths. If my job is to be the compassionate pastor for those in the pew and beyond, then your job is to be the primary definer and defender of the faith. I can’t do my job if you don’t do yours. 
Yes, I know you want to inspire us to be that kind of compassionate pastor, but to be honest, I find that inspiration elsewhere. I remember meeting Mother Teresa of Calcutta and being inspired by her compassion. I am inspired by St Damien of Molokai, St Maximillian Kolbe, St Isaac Jogues and a host of other valiant and radiant souls. While your example of compassion, humility and simplicity is stunning and attractive, your most important work is to define and defend the teachings of the Catholic Church so that together we can all proclaim it and live it with the compassion, mercy and forgiveness we all agree is necessary. 
I know the Synod on the Family is an attempt to make the church more compassionate and caring, but with respect, this is not best done at the Vatican or diocesan level but on the parish level. I was taught that subsidiarity is a Catholic principle: that solutions to problems and ideas for initiatives are best taken within the local community. Compassion, mercy and the struggle with family issues happens every day at the parish level. You know that from your own work at the front line as a priest and bishop. At the Vatican level the discussion is theoretical and theological as it should be. If you try to tinker with these matters at the global level it doesn’t help. It makes life more confusing and frustrating for us at the local level. 
Here is an example: twice in the last week I have had to deal with Catholics in irregular marriages. One woman married outside the church and told me that she thought it was now okay for her to come to communion because, “The pope has changed all those old rules.” Another man has divorced his wife and is living with another woman. He also assured me very confidently that it was now fine for him to come to communion because, “Pope Francis has changed the rules.” I know you mean well Holy Father, and I admire and like you, but this process on which you have led us is not helping. 
Here is another example from my experience as a parish priest: a young couple came for marriage preparation. They do not practice their faith and are living together already as husband and wife. I welcomed them and listened to their story. I told them it was good that they wanted to be married. I said we would help prepare them not only for a Catholic wedding, but for a Catholic marriage. However, when I gently began a conversation about their irregular lifestyle the girl began to pout and accuse me of being “unwelcoming.” Then she said, “I thought with this new pope we would be welcomed.” What she meant by this was, “I expected Pope Francis’ Catholic Church to condone cohabitation.” 
You have been very good at giving us fatherly instruction, and I have listened and learned. You have also asked for a frank debate on these matters. So that I can do my job I respectfully ask you to do yours. I’ll do my best to evangelize by being compassionate, welcoming and merciful if you do your best to sharpen the tools I need for the job. 
Compassion without content is mere sentimentality. Mercy without truth is an empty gesture. Kindness without correction is cowardly. 
I’ll do my best to preach and live the merciful faith once delivered to the saints but I need you to do your best as the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ and the Servant of the Servants of God to define, defend and uphold that unchanging faith in which mercy is grounded.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Holy Face of Jesus

Pope Benedict on pilgrimage to the Shrine at Manopello.

I had a request via a post from some time ago for the text of the Mass for the Holy Face of Jesus, so I publish it below.  It comes form the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.  The Votive Mass of the Holy Face as it was celebrated at the Shrine in Manoppello prior to Vatican II. The "feast day" is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, ie Shrove Tuesday.
It struck me that the Church on earth represents the Face of Jesus to the world and by extension, each one of us who make up the Church.  Following that thought, it also struck me that we do not always present that face very well.  "Thy face was beautiful before..." as we say in the Stations of the Cross.


Antiphona ad lntroitum Philipp. 2, 8-9 

Humiliavit semetipsum Dominus Jesus Christus usque ad mortem,

mortem autem crucis:
propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, ed donavit illi nomen,
quod est super omne nomen.
Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo:

in generationem et generationem.  Gloria Patri...


Domine Jesu Christe,

cuius sacratissimus Vultus in passione absconditus sicut sol in sua virtute relucet;
concede propitius;
ut tuis passionibus communicantes in terris,
in revelatione gloriae tuae gaudere valeamus in coelis.
Qui vivis et regnas... 

Lectio Zachariae Prophetae
Zach. 12, 10-11; 13, 6-7

Haec dicit Dominus: Effundam super domum David et super habitatores Jerusalem spiritum gratiae et precum: et aspicient ad me, quem confixerunt: et plangent eum planctu quasi super unigenitum, et dolebunt super eum, ut doleri solet in morte unigeniti. In die illa magnus erit planctus in Jerusalem, et dicetur:
Quid sunt plagae istae in medio manuum tuarum? Et dicit: His plagatus sum in domo eorum, qui diligebant me. Framea, suscitare super pastorem meum, et super virum cohaerentem mihi, dicit Dominus exercituum: percutite pastorem et dispergentur oves: ait Dominus omnipotens.

Graduale Ps. 68, 21-22. 

Improperium expectavit cor meum et miseriam :
et sustinui, qui simul mecum contristaretur,
et non fuit: consolantem me quaesivi et non inveni.
‘Dederunt in escam meam fel, et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto.

Tractus. Is. 53, 4-5. 

Vere languores nostros ipse tulit et dolores nostros ipse portavit.

Et nos putavimus eum quasi leprosum et percussum a Deo et humiliatum. 
Ipse autem vulneratus est propter iniquitates nostras,
attritus est propter scelera nostra.
Disciplina pacis nostrae super eum: et livore eius sanati sumus. 

In Missis votivis ante Septuagesimam vel post Pentecostes, omisso Tractus post Graduale dicitur:

Alleluia, Alleluia.  Ave, Rex noster: tu solus nostros es miseratus errores: Patri obediens, ductus es ad crucifìgendum, ut agnus mansuetus ad occisionem. Alleluia.

Tempore autem paschali omittitur Graduale, et eius loco dicitur:

Alleluia, Alleluia.  Ave, Rex noster: tu solus nostros es miseratus errores: Patri obediens, ductus es ad crucifigendum, ut agnus mansuetus ad occisionem. Alleluia.  Tibi gloria, hosanna: tibi triumphus et victoria: tibi summae laudis et honoris corona. Alleluia.

† Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Joann. 19, 28-35
In illo tempore: Sciens Jesus, quia omnia consummata sunt, ut consummaretur scriptura, dixit: Sitio. Vas ergo erat positum aceto plenum. Illi autem spongiam plenam aceto, hyssopo circumponentes, obtulerunt ori eius. Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum. Judaei ergo (quoniam parasceve erat), ut non remanerent in cruce corpora sabbato (erat enim magnus dies ille sabbati), rogaverunt Pilatum ut frangerentur eorum crura et tollerentur. Venerunt ergo milites: et primi quidem fregerunt crura et alterius, qui crucifixus est cum eo. Ad Jesum autem cum venissent, ut viderunt eum jam mortuum, non fregerunt eius crura, sed unus militum lancea latus eius aperuit, et continuo exivit sanguis et aqua. Et qui vidit, testimonium perhibuit: et verum est testimonium eius.


Insurrexerunt in me viri iniqui: absque misericordia quaesierunt me interficere:
et non pepercerunt in faciem meam spuere: lanceis suis vulneraverunt me,
et concussa sunt omnia ossa mea.


Protector noster, aspice, Deus, et respice in Faciem Christi tui;
qui tibi semetipsum pro nobis hostiam obtulit, et praesta:
ut eamdem immaculatam hostiam offerentes,
ipsi quoque in holocaustum tibi acceptum transeamus.
Per eumdem Dominum... 

Praefatio de Cruce. 

Antiphona ad Communionem 

Foderunt manus meas et pedes meos: dinumeraverunt omnia ossa mea.


Faciem tuam, quaesumus, Domine, super nos benignus illumina,
ut tuas justificationes edocti,
per haec sacrosancta mysteria blandientem mundum eludere
et persequentem superare possimus.
Qui vivis et regnas...


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Solemn Mass for Blessed John Henry Newman

(Sketch by George Richmond in the National Gallery)

There is a Solemn Mass at 5.30pm 
this Thursday 9th October 
for the 
Feast Day of Blessed John Henry Newman.
The Preacher will be Fr Eamonn Mulcahy C.S.Sp.
With veneration of the Relic.


The Oratory Church of St Chad, Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester.

Church of the Oratorian Community at St Chad's.
The Fathers have a reputation for excellent music, dignified liturgy, hard work and a warm welcome - all helping to bring new life to the parish of St Chad's on the outskirts of the city centre.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Dome of Home video

The Bishop of Shrewsbury offers Mass in the Shrine.

The "Dome of Home" is featured in a new video.  Particularly interesting for me is the bit of history about the church (as I spent some time growing up there where I was an altar server). Among other speakers, Bishop Mark Davies talks about the Shrine and its purpose.

You can view it HERE.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Tradition to the rescue

I attended the opening of St Walburge's Church yesterday -  as a Shrine given over to the Institute of Christ the King in a bold and inspired move by Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster. I'm sure it must have been a decision that took a leap of faith - given that there is still an unaccountable hostility in some quarters when it comes to making provision for the Mass of Ages.  What a splendid and uplifting sight to see such a vast church packed with people of all ages and celebrating the liturgy for which it was surely built.  Built on the outskirts of Preston city centre, the area has become depopulated over the years and so the parish was struggling valiantly to cope with maintaining this iconic building.  

Its not just about the building, of course, but the living presence of the Church in this particular area.  Just as any family needs a house to call home, the Church, which is the living Body of Christ, needs a home in which to dwell, to grow, to love and to make others welcome.  Here is a home that can call people to it by its size and visibility.  I'm sure the Fathers of the Institute will make the welcome of all who venture in as splendid as the Church which the Bishop of Lancaster has so generously given them.

Great to see a church full of people!
Thanks to Martin Gardener for these photos (which I lifted from his Flickr site - I was unable to find a way of getting in touch to ask formal permission, so I hope that's okay.)  There are plenty of great photos of the day on his site here.

Bishop Campbells' Homily.

The Apostle counsels us today that if we are to boast or glory it should be in the Lord. So it is 
therefore, first and foremost, with a profound sense of gratitude to almighty God that we 
are here today to witness the beginning of a new phase in the history of this venerable 
church of Saint Walburge. To pick up the image of Christ in the gospel parable, in recent 
years, for a variety of reasons, there has not been as much oil as we would have wished for 
in the lamp that is St. Walburge’s church. The city of Preston has rightly taken pride in its 
long Catholic and Christian history, and a powerful symbol of that history has been St. 
Walburge’s, visible from near and far through its unique spire. The question has often been 
asked during these last decades, what is the future of St. Walburge’s, will it continue and
remain open as a house of prayer and worship as originally envisaged by the founding Jesuit 
fathers over one hundred and fifty years ago?

Our presence here today and the fresh initiative now starting give a definite yes to that 
question. St. Walburge’s assuredly has a future for which we thank God, the giver of all good 
things. The church will now be open every day of the week to cater for the spiritual needs of 
those who pass through its doors. Mass will be offered daily, there will be the opportunity 
for quiet prayer and adoration, with regular access to other sacraments and religious 
devotions. St. Walburge’s church will again become a much needed spiritual presence, and 
hopefully a beacon, in this part of Preston where the human spirit will find comfort and 
strength in our often confused and troubled twenty-first century world. The new venture 
now beginning in this magnificent church cannot but bring down blessings from heaven on 
the city of Preston. The common good and the city of Preston will indeed be well served by 
the worship and prayer that takes place daily here in St. Walburge’s.

From today another page in the history of St. Walburge’s is being turned and written, made 
possible by the gracious and willing generosity of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign 
Priest. The Institute has accepted responsibility to ensure that St. Walburge’s continues to 
remain what is was intended to be - the house of God and a place of prayer for all people. 
As Bishop of Lancaster, conscious and grateful to the generations of clergy who have 
ministered here down the years, I thank most sincerely Mgr. Gilles Wach, Prior General and  the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest for their acceptance of my bold and heartfelt 
appeal to assume responsibility for St. Walburge’s. I also place on record the cooperation of 
Canon Amaury Montjean, who has made every effort to ensure that the necessary 
negotiations with my clergy and diocesan officers have been smooth and trouble-free. 
The gospel parable highlights the wise virgins who stayed alert with oil in their lamps and so 
were ready to meet the bridegroom at whatever hour he came. The Church universal is 
constantly on the watch for Christ her bridegroom. The sacramental and spiritual 
nourishment – like that oil of the wise virgins in our gospel - which St. Walburge’s will offer 
to Christ’s people who gather for worship will ensure that they are equipped to meet Christ
as he comes to them in the events of their everyday lives. Mindful of the faith and 
commitment of the past generations who have gathered and worshipped almighty God in 
these sacred surroundings since 1854, we offer sincere thanks in this Mass for their legacy 
of this beautiful building. As we look to the future, with a spirit of renewed hope we entrust
St. Walburge’s and its future to the care and protection of Our Blessed Lady and St. 
Walburghe, and make our own the inspiring words of the ancient psalm: This day was made 
by the Lord, let us rejoice and be glad. Amen.

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Oh Dear! Bishop Conroy of Arundel and Brighton resigns.

This from the Telegraph website.
Best pray for him and for the diocese.
A leading Catholic Bishop announced his resignation on Saturday after confessing to being “unfaithful” to his vows, leading to speculation he has had a sexual affair. 
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the bishop of Arundel and Brighton and chairman of the Church’s evangelisation committee in England and Wales, was to make the shock announcement in a letter read to congregations across the diocese at services over the weekend.
It immediately led to speculation that Bishop Conry had broken his vow of celibacy, central to the Catholic priesthood.
In the statement, being read to congregations on Saturday evening and Sunday morning the Bishop apologised for being "unfaithful to my promises as a Catholic priest".
He explained his actions were not illegal and did not involve minors, but apologised to "all to the individuals hurt by my actions" and "all of those inside and outside the diocese who will be shocked, hurt and saddened to hear this". 
Bishop Conry said he would not be commenting further on the nature of his unfaithfulness.Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, spoke of his sorrow at Bishop Conry’s resignation.
He said: “This is a sad and painful moment. It makes clear that we are always a Church of sinners called to repentance and conversion and in need of God’s mercy. All involved in this situation are much in my prayers today.”


avandia recall