Thursday, 30 June 2011

Let us Prey!


Yesterday evening's Missa Cantata got off to an unusual start as a Turkey Vulture was spotted in the church grounds sending all the other birds into a frenzy of chatter. It had escaped from a nearby bird sanctuary, who promptly sent someone out to retrieve it. Luckily they only feed on carrion and insects, so my cats were safe from being carried off! There was a small hold-up of traffic into the car park but no-one seemed to mind too much as the spectacle was rather interesting.

We had two Masses here for the Holy Day - one in the morning in the Ordinary Form and one in the evening in the Extraordinary Form. The evening EF Mass was the better attended!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Holy Days of Obligation

The Holy Father adores the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

When the Holy Days are transferred to the nearest Sunday the rhythm of the liturgical year is interrupted. You know it's never quite the same when your birthday party is moved to the weekend! Despite my reminders last Sunday making it quite clear by word and in the newsletter that Ss Peter and Paul remains a Holyday of Obligation, the attendance was rather pitiful this morning. The counter-intuitive effect of playing around with centuries old traditions has once again come into effect and by making it easier to come to Mass on Holy days of Obligation by reducing their number, we have in fact put people off from coming at all.

Will there be a queue outside the confessional on Saturday?
I seriously doubt it.
Will everyone still waltz up to the altar rail to receive Holy Communion on Sunday?
Most definitely!

If the Church tells people that Mass (and therefore religion) is confined to a Sunday (or even worse, a Saturday evening) then we can expect a rather poor harvest. Fr Ray Blake seems to be experiencing the same problem.

Cardinal Canizares, in charge at the Congregation for Worship, has said in a radio interview that he believes that Corpus Christi should be returned to its place of celebration on a Thursday - thus better making the link with Holy Thursday and Mass of the Lord's Supper. Cardinal Canizares was one of the speakers at the recent Adoratio Conference in Rome. Fr Z has picked up the same interview and you can read it on Zenit.

Cardinal Canizares pictured here last year in Peru.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Joy of the Priesthood - as we would like to experience it.

Bishop Rey, wearing a small mitre used when travelling!

Mgr Dominique Rey ordained 15 new priests at La Castille on Sunday before a crowd of 3,000 of the faithful. As with last year, the ordinations had to take place outside to accommodate the numbers (the diocese of Frejus-Toulon does not boast a large cathedral). Among them was Sean Davidson, a deacon from the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist who attended the Adoratio Conference last week and, as one of his last diaconal acts, assisted the Holy Father at Mass and Benediction on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Congratulations and prayer for God's blessing upon them. Ad multos annos!

If you to to the bottom of this page, you can see a slideshow of photographs from the occasion.

The Bishop's homily focused on the joy of Priesthood. (My highlights.)

“Remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your
joy may be complete.” (Jn 15)
The Priest has to relive these words of the Gospel of John. The joy of the priest,
is to belong to Christ. The joy of identification to the priesthood of Christ, “high priest of the happiness which is to come”, to quote the words of Revelation.
This joy to follow the Christ all the way to the end, into the night, the Acts of the
Apostles testifies: “So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Acts 5:41) To the external resistance, results of indifference, of incomprehension, of persecutions, is added the suffering of love which, in us, is imperfect. The priest, more than all others, is confronted with his flesh, with the tragedy of this world which draws him away from God. But the joy of belonging to Christ guides us, not to stop at suffering, but by giving our consent, through suffering, to love all the way to the end. The challenge is often the shadow of the blessing.

“Later on, we will see that the moments of weakness were maybe the biggest moments of our lives” confided Cardinal Journet. We know that all ascending is nourished through pain which is overcome.

Yes, the priest experiences the joy of paternity at the same time as he is giving birth
within the difficulties, but also he knows the joy of fraternity. In the Acts of the
Apostles, the “see how they love one another” is expressed in this testimony, “The
disciples where filled with joy and the holy Spirit” (Acts 13:52). The joy of the agape, of fraternal life. The priest lives his ministry inserted into a presbyterium which surrounds the bishop and collaborates with his apostolic charge. The priest is sent to a community which did not choose him and which he did not choose. St Thomas Aquinas said that “joy is not a virtue which is separated from charity. It is the result or the effect of charity”. Interior joy expands with fraternal communion. In this world so often given to solitude and to being anonymous, to disenchantment and to the frenetic search of superficial happiness and to mirages, the priest is the testimony of true joy. The Apostle Paul himself called ministers of the Gospel “the servants of joy, charged to collaborate with our joy” (Cor 1:24). Community life, lived between priests, lived with the lay faithful, must teach us to never give up joy, but to otherwise nourish joy between us, and in giving up ourselves to deploy joy in the service of others. Our joy is to give happiness to others. “Don’t let anyone come to you and leave without being more joyful”, Mother Theresa asked of her sisters. Our joy, the joy of the communion of the saints, is, as in every Eucharistic procession on the day of Corpus Christi, is to walk together with the Lord, towards the Lord. The joy of serving our brothers and sisters unfolds the soul. God will have the corresponding space in our hearts which we allow for joy and service.

The joy of the priest is the daughter of hope. Let us remember the parable of the servant. “Blessed are the servants who, at his arrival, the Master will find at his service” (Mt. 25:45). This parable brings us into the grace of fidelity. At each mass, the sacramental coming of Christ pulls our joy into the joy of God, towards the glorious manifestation of Christ at the end of time. The beatitude of the priest is to be a witness of a promise which is being accomplished, for the world, at each Mass, the prelude to a definitive victory which is entrusted to our hope. Our salvation is not earned. The priest reminds the faithful that our salvation is given.

The mission of the priest, faced with skepticism, is to awaken us to worship, in union with the heavenly choirs and with all those who contemplate the glory of God, all those who call us into giving thanks; “Rejoice always” (1 Thes. 5:16) “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Phil. 4:4). The scriptures address these constant reminders to all Christians, but in particular to the priest. The priest is ordained “for the joy” of salvation, and it is to this joy that he brings order to the world, by revealing the author of this joy. His ministry is to place the world back in its rightful place, that is, within the orbit of God, to place God in the center of our lives so that all can acquire its form from him.

Dear brothers and sisters,
These 15 priests will be sent out to the service of your sanctification, in the service of the theological and missionary growth of your communities.
“Esteem” them (1 Thes. 5:13) for their commitment, for their ministry. It is the Lord who sends them to you.
Ask them to help you to grow in faith, and you will help them to root their trust in God.
Ask your priests for whatever you expect from Christ. Ask them to give you Christ, it is the best service which you can give to them.
Support their ministry through your faithful prayer, by your material and pastoral help, all the while accepting that “your” priests belong not only to you. They are also priests to the sheep who have gone astray.
Help them to live their fidelity to Christ and to the Church, their path to holiness, all the way to the end.
Help them to live their vows which they will take before you today: the choice of celibacy, a simplicity of evangelical life, obedience to the Church.
I offer to you their humanity. Do you remember what a priest is? I don’t ask you to place them on a pedestal, but to place upon them a gaze of faith and hope, for although priests, they undergo the same battles as you. I entrust them to you, for they haven’t founded a family, because you are their family.
And may the joy of this ordination span across their entire existence, may it become the joy of the Church. A joy that no one can take away from them.

You can read the whole of the homily here.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Corpus Christi in Leyland

We had a small Blessed Sacrament Procession this morning.
Not quite on the scale of the one in Rome!

Setting out to process the Blessed Sacrament out into the street -
much to the consternation of the neighbours!

Mass beforehand.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Corpus Christi in Rome



I have returned from the Adoratio Conference in Rome with the joyful and invigorating knowledge that in my liturgical thinking and practice I am in tune with at least six Bishops, five Cardinals and one Pope!

The Conference was timed to finish with our joining the Holy Father for Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi in the Cathedral of Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and taking part in the Blessed Sacrament Procession which finished with Benediction on the steps of St Mary Major.

It was great! We just don't seem to have anything like this here in England. Although Fr Alexander Sherbrooke at St Patrick's in Soho Square tells me they are processing the Blessed Sacrament right through the middle of Soho this week! I recall a Blessed Sacrament Procession through the streets of Liverpool being suggested for the Jubilee Year of 2000 but sadly nothing came of it.

Two of the Deacons from the Community of the Most Holy Eucharist who were at the conference assisted at Mass and Benediction.

Churches, convents, shops and homes hang out flags, flowers banners, statues and other decoration to honour Our Lord's Real Presence as the Blessed Sacrament goes along the one mile route. This was a particularly impressive one outside the Franciscan church.


Some of the brethren setting off from the Salesianum for the Mass and Procession.


The clergy in choir were seated in one of the transepts. I snapped this quick pic as the Holy Father incensed the altar just before the start of Mass, and then put the camera away, as it looks a little indecorous to be waving the mobile phone all through the Holy Sacrifice!

Just SOME of the priests in the procession!


Arriving in front of St Mary Major's.

The Holy Father explained the meaning of the event:

“While Holy Thursday commemorates the mystery of Christ who gives us the bread and wine, today, on the feast of Corpus Christi, the same mystery is proposed to the People of God to worship Him and think about Him.”
In his homily, the Holy Father explained that the Holy Eucharist comes from a profound act of love of God, saying communion creates bonds among recipients.

“Eucharistic Communion unites one with the person their side, you may not get along, but also unites us to those who are far away, in anyplace in the world. Hence, from the Eucharist, comes the deep sense of social work of the Church.”
After the Mass, the Holy Father accompanied the Eucharist in a procession that was almost a mile long through the streets of Rome.

With him were the cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia as well as thousands of romans & visitors to the eternal city.

Our beloved Holy Father was on his knees for most of the journey (once again teaching by his example!). We processed along the Via Merulana from the Basilica of St. John Lateran to that of Saint Mary Major where the Holy Father gave Benediction to the faithful who knelt on the cobbled streets. Only after the Blessed Sacrament had been taken into the basilica was the pontiff greeted by rapturous applause and loud chants from the young people shouting out:

"Viva il Papa!"

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Impressive forward thinking Bishops

With Cardinal Ranjith who addressed the topic "Objections to Eucharistic Adoration". Apparently, there are none!

He is a very inspiring bishop with great energy, still full of zeal despite much suffering and many setbacks in his life.


Cardinal Ranjith was also the main celebrant at Mass yesterday.




In his address to the Conference he spoke of the lack of faith in many parts of the Church itself, a lack of faith in the objective presence of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. He thought there was often a lack of wonder and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, quoting St Augustine saying, "We would sin if we did not adore Him before receiving Him."


The Cardinal spoke of the meaningless and tasteless (in many senses) experience of the Eucharist in many parishes because of a noisy and frenetic atmosphere that was no longer devout, adoring and contemplative. These aspects are not of choice but essential to a celebration of the Mass - an experience much more usual in the "Tridentine" Mass.


Of the priest facing the people instead of the Lord, he said that it promoted an attitude of showmanship, a silent body language of entertainment inevitably enters into the Mass. It is an innovation never advocated by the Second Vatican Council and is not respectful of the awesome mystery of the Holy Eucharist. (There was here an extended interruption for as applause echoed around the auditorium.)


He re-iterated the view that active participation does not mean outward activity but interior adoration, which takes a great deal of effort and spiritual activity.


Later over dinner he was also telling us of some of the changes he has made in his own diocese:

Each and every church has altar rails once again for the reception of Holy Communion, which is to be received kneeling.

The allowance to deviate from the universal norm of Holy Communion on the tongue has been withdrawn. So Communion is always on the tongue.

Priests must dress in the proper vestments for Mass.

Priests are forbidden to bring elements or styles of worship from other religions into the sacred liturgy.

Cardinal Raymond Burke addresses the Conference on the "Importance of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the formation and life of Priests" reminding us that Priesthood exists PRIMARILY for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I was also struck by him reminding us that the Church (the physical Church building) is a HOLY place. So often our churches are deliberately turned into spaces resembling other secular gathering places.



Pictured here (if rather fuzzy) with Bishop Schneider who is present for the whole Conference. He is a very impressive man, immensely kind and gentle yet unafraid to speak out firmly.


NB. Apologies for some of the strange layout and spelling mistakes on these recent posts. The Italian server and my laptop do not seem to be a happy mix and the text is not always obedient to my typed commands!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Pope Benedict's intention - BEYOND INDULTS AND PERMISSIONS - that kneeling for Communion remains universal

A stroll after breakfast in the beautiful grounds of the Salesianum.



Mgr Guido Marini, the Papal MC, addressing the Conference on "Celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Mgr Marini after his talk.

Among other things, the papal Master of Ceremonies spoke of the ancient tradition of focusing on Christ in a physical way in the sacred liturgy, either though the eastwards orientation of the Eucharistic Prayer or where the crucifix or other image of Christ (the great panto-creator images on the apse of ancient churches) stood in for the eastward orientation. He thought that recently we have been in danger of losing this and that this is not a small detail but something of central importance, for in the past everyone (including the priest) prayed towards the same point - showing that the Lord was coming and that together we all looked towards Him.

Mgr Marini also posited that kneeling before the presence of the Lord makes it all the clearer that it really is Jesus and implies our adoration of Him. Not that we just receive Him but that we kneel before Him. To kneel accomplishes the truth of our relationship with Him - we adore. This is true freedom because man submits to slavery to many other earthly things - we bow down before these false gods - but to kneel before Christ expressses the truth and therefore reveals the dignity of man before the Lord of Life. Kneeling is the TYPICAL sign of offering our hearts and lives. The Church that kneels in the body will adore in the heart.

MGR. MARINI ASKED US TO LISTEN ANEW TO WHAT THE HOLY FATHER SAYS ABOUT THESE THINGS IN HIS WRITINGS AND BY HIS EXAMPLE IN THE PAPAL LITURGIES.

Of the Holy Father's example in the Papal liturgies where Holy Communion is now always administered by Pope Benedict on the tongue to kneeling communicants he said that it was the Holy Father's practice and intention - BEYOND INDULTS AND PERMISSIONS - that this remains a law of universal character. That Holy Communion received on the tongue and kneeling was more than just the Pope's personal desire. The Holy Father's intention is that people and priests follow his example. I could not help thinking of the recent request made by the Bishops' Conference in England and Wales and how this fitted in with the Holy Father's example?



Holy Mass was offered by Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. It was much commented upon that at the canon of the Mass he dropped his voice considerably (even though microphones were used) and so the canon was not actually silent but sotto voce. It had a very dramatic effect on concentrating the mind and heart and bringing about a tangible sense of reverence and prayer.


Bishop Athanasius Schneider greets partcipants at the conference.

Another of yestedays talks was given by Bishop Athanasius Schnieder (author of "Dominus Est" in which he calls for a fullsome return to receiving HolyCommunion kneeling and on the tongue).

The Bishop posited that there were some outward signs that the more ancient form of the Mass and the new Mass shared and although some of these are not always seen in the new Mass they could fruitfully be used more frequently. These are:

Eastward orientation during the Eucharistic Prayer
Kneeling at altar rails for Holy Communion
Communion received on the tongue

Of eastward facing the said that the shared orientation of priest and people is a "great gift" leading us together towards the Lord. He also suggested that the more frequent genuflections found in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass could most helpfully be incoporated into the Ordinary Form.

He spoke of innovations that moved away from an attitude of adoration, silence and wonder as examples of a liturgy that had abandoned the meaning of the psalmist when he said, "Not to us Lord, not to us, but to your Name give the glory" and moved to an attitude of "To our name give the glory!"

He spoke of the example of the Holy Father and implored us TO THINK AND ACT WITH PETER.

When asked what we should do when people, priests and even bishops refuse to do this he said that we should see it as a call to make expiation for them and to console Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by our acts of prayer, love and adoration. He said that he saw it as a loss of fidelity to the Holy Father by people, priests and even bishops. WHERE PETER IS, THERE IS THE CHURCH. That is why we should follow the Holy Father's example.

How I wish there were more than ten clergy from England here!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Adoratio - Rome 2011

Bishop Reali of Porto-Santa Rufina (the local diocese),
Bishop Rey of Frejus-Toulon and Fr Florian Racine,
Founder of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, Bishop Reali, Bishop Slattery of Tulsa, Fr Mark Kirby, Bishop Rey and Fr Racine.

Having risen at 3am yesterday to fly out to the Adoratio Conference, I was glad of a good night's sleep! The timetable is jam-packed with adoration, prayer and talks - the talks from some very well-known heroes of orthodoxy. We got off to a splendid start yesterday with Bishop Dominique Rey and Fr Mark Daniel Kirby.

Bishop Rey is like a breath of fresh air. He speaks with authority unlike these others... The inspiration behind the conference is that Adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is key to evengelisation and to the new evangelisation desired by the Holy Father. I might sum up in my own interpretation of Bishop Rey by saying that we are called to speak the Gospel in love and truth. Many have a great deal of love and speak of it to the world but they somehow think that love precludes also speaking the challenge of the fullness of the truth and so the substance of the message gets left out. Jesus Christ is the unique Truth that alone leads to salvation - and Bishop Rey is not afraid to say it. How very refreshing it is to hear a bishop acknowledge the depth of our need within the Church - that there are things wrong - and how impoverished we have become, not from failing to posses the Truth but from being afraid to speak it.

I made some notes of what he said and present a selection here, although the talks will be available on disc and in written form. These are just some of Bishop Rey's words that made an impression on me. My own comments in square brackets.

He recognises that the new evangelization must begin at home. Many in the Church are baptised but not evangelised. Following Vatican II we developed a pastoral programme based on integration, on listening to others. While this has truth to it and is good, it also has limits. We can't stop there. Our pastoral programmes have often become, in effect, an effacement of the Church. In doing so we have gone through a process of self-secularization that has robbed the Gospel of its force. The Christian is meant to be in the world but not of the world. The gospel is "set aside from the world and not aged by sin". Thus the new evangelisation is the duty awaiting every one of us.


This new evangelization needs to be accompanied with prayer -
particularly prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, contemplation of the Lord's sacrifice of His life. Otherwise the new evangelization would be only a new gimmick, a promotion, a publicity drive. Adoration of the Blessed sacrament is not a spiritual gadget but a means of personal transformation.

The Eucharist makes Satan run. [When did I last hear a bishop speak about Satan?]

The Bishop recognised that there are sterile spiritualities in the Church but
Eucharistic Adoration heals the Church of her sterile spirituality.

The weakening of our evangelising spirit, the fear of presenting the fullness of the Gospel challenge to the world, can only result in a crisis in our own identity. [Indeed it has.] Evangelization is an inherent NEED in the Church. However, it must be presented in the context of our
objective Faith. The Council of Trent reminded us that Christ is not present because we believe but rather, we believe because Christ is present. [Amen!] Where we compromise with the world, we have a disfigured Christianity. We have made the mistake of letting the Church become a [like closing our seminaries and churches instead of turning to prayer and penance and trusting that the Lord will provide?] consumer supplier where all is judged by efficiency, feasibility and cost - what the Bishop called actionism. Rather than this business model where an accountable result is required we must return to a reliance on prayer.

In the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament we can leave aside the atrophied shimmer of the world and become what we adore - He who is good, beautiful and pure. [Amen and Alleluia!]

What I likes very much is that Bishop Rey is not afraid to admit that some things in the Church are not good. He does not pretend that all is well when it is not. I've noticed this tendency when a church or some other Catholic institution closes due to lack of numbers and failure of mission. The last Mass is hailed as one of "thanksgiving" and "celebration" when it should be one of penance and sorrow for the failure. It becomes a denial of our failure when we could renew our efforts to pray for grace, trust in God and hope in the future. Instead of closing, taking on a 24 / 7 adoration, penance and intercession.

It's the same note that is struck at funeral Masses. we no longer intercede and pray for forgiveness and the undeserved gift of eternal life but make it a "celebration" of the person's life, a "thanksgiving" for how marvellous they were - even if they were conspicuously absent from the life of the Christian community or even a notorious sinner, let alone a practising Christian still in need of forgiveness.

Are we terrified of admitting failure because it would mean doing something about it?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

United States Bishops' Conference on Kneeling at Holy Communion


Following on from the seeming decision of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales to make standing the norm for receiving Holy Communion when the new missal comes out, I thought it worth publishing the following article by Leo Darroch as a reflection on this. It was originally published in 2002. It makes the wider point, reflected in thoughts expressed by the former Cardinal Ratzinger, on the desirability or otherwise of the dominating role that national bishops' conferences have now assumed.

Thou Shalt Not Kneel

In July 2002, the U.S.A. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy stated in its newsletter: "The bishops of the United States have decided that the normative posture for receiving Holy Communion should be standing. Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States of America unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in an individual and extraordinary circumstance. "

Before examining the long term impact of this instruction it is worth considering some of the words that have been used in this statement.
"The bishops of the United States have decided" the sad reality of the Catholic Church since the end of the Second Vatican Council is that from being a strong, unified, universal and supranational Church with a governing pope and curia in Rome it has degenerated into a loose confederation of national churches that pay lip service to Rome and decide their own policies for their own flocks in their own countries. Any directives from Rome are looked upon as being an impertinent intrusion, and more often than not are simply ignored. As an English bishop said to one of his priests recently "Anything I get from Rome I just put into a bottom drawer." National Bishops' Conferences are now all powerful and jealously guard their independence from Rome, and the reality is that the Catholic Church is rapidly becoming a communion of like minded national churches similar to the world wide Anglican Communion of Churches which has a nominal head in the Archbishop of Canterbury but who has no actual power over anyone or anything. In effect, many of these national conferences within the Catholic Church are now virtually Protestant in mind and Protestant in behaviour. Many Catholics bishops no longer accept or recognise the authority of the Pope and act as though he is irrelevant. Of course he is wonderful for photo opportunities with which to impress their flocks but is dismissed as irrelevant when some uncomfortable truths are to be followed, or obedience is required. In 1993, at a papal audience, a small group of seminarians from the USA called out to the Holy Father for some item of news "to bring back to the American Church!" Apparently the Pope became very angry and shouted that they should never say that, that there is only one Church the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope then just walked past them. Those who witnessed it were stunned as they had never seen the Pope act like that at a papal audience. Perhaps this is the root of the problem; the American hierarchy believes it has its own Church, independent of Rome and not answerable to Rome. In fact, an 'American' Catholic Church.

'Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States." The bishops are not saying that it is 'no longer' a licit posture but it is NOT a licit posture. In effect, they appear to be saying it has never been a licit posture. Kneeling is not just no longer acceptable, no longer an option, but is UNLAWFUL, FORBIDDEN!!! What has been licit and the norm for centuries is now illicit. This is absolutely breath taking; whether something is licit or not is a serious matter. Surely some particular act has to be licit or not licit throughout the entire Church, or at least in the Roman rite? Perhaps the American bishops think that kneeling in front of our Blessed Lord is such a serious error that their faithful must be saved from this dangerous practice: "Forgive me Father for I have sinned; I have knelt before the Blessed Sacrament,” may well become commonplace in the confessional. Have the bishops that currently constitute the Bishops Conference of the United States taken upon themselves an authority that is not theirs to exercise? In a universal Church how can something be declared unlawful in one country yet remain an accepted practice throughout the rest of the world. And how can the bishops of the USA declare something unlawful yet the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who is responsible for overseeing correct practice in the Church, can say it is perfectly lawful.


"Unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in a particular and extraordinary circumstance." Such is the suffocating stranglehold that bishops' conferences have over individual bishops that any bishop who disagrees with this policy and wishes to exercise his proper authority in his own diocese and allow kneeling is labelled as sanctioning a practice that is "derogating from the norm" and allowing something "extraordinary". This is the policy of the police state, an abuse of power, the tactics of those who wish to crush dissent and I am surprised that this is happening in the United States, the home of the brave and the land of the free! The words blackmail and coercion come to mind.

The sheer nonsense of this diktat is thrown into sharp relief by Cardinal Medina Estevez, the recently retired Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. In response to numerous complaints from the faithful, he informed one American bishop that he:

“ considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). In view of the law that "sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”(canon 843, 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds."

In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species”

What is crystal clear is that canon law takes precedence over whatever whim overtakes any bishop, whether acting individually or within a bishops' conference. That being so, why do these bishops set themselves on a path against Rome? Is it a sense of self importance in that they know they can impose their own will locally, safe in the knowledge that legitimate authority is too far away to take effective counter action.

Perhaps the greatest triumph of the liturgical establishment was the imposition of the vernacular. This change, we were told, would reveal all the riches of scripture to the ordinary man and woman in the pew. Instead of hearing the dead language of Latin that no one understood we would fully understand the gospel stories and our faith would be strengthened. Why, then has this theory failed so spectacularly with the bishops, for in issuing their instruction on standing to receive holy Communion they appear to have forgotten, or no longer listen, to words of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? In the gospels the constantly recurring references to personal encounters with Jesus reveal that the people invariably fell to their knees in supplication before Him.

Matthew reveals how the three wise men, on finding the child in Bethlehem “fell down to worship him”(Ch22). When tempted by the devil, Satan promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he would "fall down and worship me” (ch2:9). And it was not only the humble leper that “ came and knelt before him " (ch8:2) but also men of high rank "It chanced that one of the rulers came and knelt before him, and said, Lord, my daughter is this moment dead..” (ch. 6:5). In the story of Peter walking on the water Matthew records “And the ship's crew came, and said, falling at his feet, Thou are indeed the Son of God.” And it was not confined only to the men "Then the woman came up and said, falling at his feet, Lord help me." (ch15:5). Perhaps the most telling revelation is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed to his Father: “When he had gone a little further, he fell on his face in prayer, and said, my Father, if it is possible let this chalice pass me by..” Even our Saviour when praying to his Heavenly Father fell on his face in prayer. He did not stand there to plead his cause; he fell on his face. The final reference in Matthew occurs after the Resurrection when Mary Magdalen and the other Mary came across Jesus: “And while they were on their way, all at once Jesus met them and said, all hail. With that they came near to him, and clung to his feet, and worshipped him”

Mark repeats many of the instances recorded by Matthew. "Then a leper came up to him, asking for his aid; he knelt at his feet and said, if it be thy will, thou hast the power to make me clean.” (ch. 1:40). The leper knelt in supplication but the American bishops are now stating that it is not licit to kneel. Mark does not record that Jesus admonished the leper for kneeling as he was committing an illicit act. In chapter 10: 17 Mark says "Then he [Jesus] went out to continue his journey, a man ran up and knelt down before him, asking him, Master, why art thou so good, what must I do to achieve eternal life?” This is the question we all must ask, as this young man did, on our knees. In the new order of Mass the priest says as he mingles the piece of Host with the precious Blood: "May this mingling of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it” We, in our turn, are asking for eternal life when we receive our Blessed Lord but the American bishops say their faithful must stand when they are asking the question. Why?

It is interesting to note that in one instance of a personal encounter of an individual with Jesus it concerns Judas the betrayer who stood before Jesus. "The traitor had appointed them a signal; it is none other, he said, than the man whom I shall greet with a kiss; hold him fast, and take him away under guard. No sooner, then, had he come up than he went close to Jesus, saying, Hail, Master, and kissed him; and with that they laid their hands on him, and held him fast.”"[Ch 14: 44,45,46.]

St. Luke records most of the events mentioned by Matthew and Mark. There are, for example, the stories of the lepers, the temptation by the devil, and Jairus the ruler and his daughter. In chapter 22: 4 1, St. Luke records the scene on Mount Olivet where Jesus went to pray: "Then he parted from them [his disciples], going a stone's throw off, and knelt down to pray ..” Jesus himself knelt down to pray to God the Father. We could not have been given a clearer example by Jesus of how to behave in the presence of God but the American bishops are telling us now that it is not licit to kneel to receive God the Son in the Blessed Sacrament. In effect, they are saying that Jesus did something that, in their opinion, was not licit how extraordinary.

And there are other aspects of St. Luke's Gospel that perhaps the American bishops need to study again. In chapter 12: 8,9 he quotes Jesus: "And I tell you this; whoever acknowledges me before men, will be acknowledged by the Son of Man in the presence of God's angels; he who disowns me before men, will be disowned before God's angels.” These are powerful words. When we kneel we publicly acknowledge God in front of all present.

The Gospel of St. John presents a different emphasis of events. But perhaps John's words, in this particular context, are more telling than those of Matthew, Mark and Luke. John the Baptist said of Jesus. “He who comes from above is above all men's reach; the man who belongs to earth talks the language of earth, but one who comes from heaven must needs be beyond the reach of all” [Ch 3: 31]. How apposite this comment is in regard to modem liturgists who cannot raise their minds above themselves and earthly things and have imposed the language of the earth on an unfortunate laity. And because they cannot raise their minds above earthly things they have no time for Latin, the language of the angels, or for a divine liturgy that comes from heaven. Perhaps the bishops should read Chapter 5: 22 23: "So it is with judgement; the Father, instead of passing judgement on any man himself, has left all judgement to the Son, so that all may reverence the Son just as they reverence the Father; to deny reverence to the Son is to deny reverence to the Father who has sent him.” In ordering their flocks to stand while receiving the Son are the bishops not denying Him reverence and also the Father who sent him?

The nub of the problem seems to be that the American bishops have succumbed to the vanity of their own self importance and forgotten who is the Master. A collective reading of John chapter 13: 13 17 may prove fruitful and reveal new insights: "You hail me as the Master, and the Lord; and you are right, it is what 1 am. Why then, if I have washed your feet, I who am the Master and the Lord, you in your turn ought to wash each other's feet,. I have been setting you an example, which will teach you in your turn to do what I have done for you. Believe me, no slave can be greater than his master, no apostle greater than he by whom he was sent.” Do the American bishops think they are greater than their Master? In the circumstances it is not an unreasonable question to act.

The Gospel of St. John, in fact, is full of instructions that any bishop should pay heed to. In chapter 14: 23,24, there is the admonition: "Jesus answered him, If a man has any love for me, he will be true to my word; and then he will win my Father's love, and we will both come to him, and make our continual abode with him; whereas the man who has no love for me, lets my sayings pass him by.” In chapter 10. 14 16, Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd; my sheep are known to me and know me; just as I am known to my Father, and know him. And for these sheep I am laying down my life. I have other sheep too, which do not belong to this fold; I must bring them in too; they will listen to my voice; so there will be one fold, and one shepherd.” [Ch 10: 14 16]. Christ, as the Good Shepherd, did indeed lay down His life for His sheep. Sadly, our present shepherds, by their words and actions, appear to have no interest in the flocks under their care as they continue to pursue policies that are emptying our churches and scattering their sheep into the spiritual wilderness.

When the priest (or bishop) utters the words of consecration he finds himself in the immediate presence of Christ in fact he is touching him physically in the sacred Host. After elevating the Host to show Our Blessed Lord to the congregation, he genuflects in public adoration. When the congregation moves forward to receive their Communion they are making their own personal approach to Jesus in no less a way than those recorded in the gospels and, at the point of reception, they physically touch Our Blessed Lord in no less manner than the priest. Why, then, do the bishops think it is fitting that they and their priests must genuflect in the presence of their Lord but then declare that it is not licit unlawful for their flocks to do likewise? In psalm 94:6 we are told to "adore and fall down and weep before the Lord that made us.” The angel at Fatima, with the Blessed Sacrament suspended in the air, prostrated himself and recited this prayer:

“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”

It is a prayer that recommends itself to all Catholics, bishops and laity.

Father Joseph Jungmann, S.J. states in his book Public Worship:

"Whenever a man speaks with God he feels a sort of compulsion to take up some attitude or posture which will be expressive of his reverence. This is all the more so when he is engaged in social that is, liturgical worship. The history of religion shows that people of all kinds, when engaged in prayer to their god, have always tended to use those particular attitudes and gestures which seem natural in human intercourse especially in the behaviour of the lowly towards the highly placed.” He goes on to say:

" Our Lord himself prayed on his knees in the Garden of Olives, and when St Paul said goodbye to the Christians of Miletus he prayed with them kneeling (Acts xx, 3 6). By kneeling a man emphasises his littleness and submission before his superior.” [emphasis added]
[Public Worship, JA. Jungmann, S.J. 1957. Challoner Publications London]


One of the stated objectives of the post Vatican II liturgists was that the people would play a greater role in Church activities, especially the liturgy. This is true only for those who toe the party line and accept without question what 'Father' tells them. The unquestioning sycophants now rule the roost in parish life and the great majority of rapidly diminishing faithful that remain have been pushed to the margins. Anyone who is not a minister of some kind, either 'extraordinary' or as a minister of the organ (as one person described himself in false humility), is a nobody. Before Vatican II, if one dares to mention 'the bad old days', the faithful at Communion time approached the altar and knelt upon the sanctuary at the altar rails. It was a special moment during the Mass in that they were able to kneel upon the sanctuary that contained the altar of sacrifice. It was a moment of special closeness, of deep spirituality, that many of the congregation looked forward to. Now, because everyone stands and receives the Body of Christ in their hands, the priests and extraordinary ministers commonly stand off the sanctuary. The net effect is that the faithful are pushed further away from the altar and the sanctuary. The sanctuary is now the domain of the priest and his helpers. They alone are allowed the privilege of sharing the sacred space of the altar of sacrifice and they appear determined that no one else will join their club. So much for removing the altar rails and 'opening up the sanctuaries for everyone'. This is another lie to be nailed as an empty promise to delude people into accepting the changes. So not only are we being pushed further away from the altar but American Catholics are being ordered not to kneel. And our bishops wonder why their churches are empty?

What faith reviving reason, if any, was given for this extraordinary instruction from the American bishops? How can the faith be strengthened by ordering their flocks to stand arrogantly before their God rather than kneel? Have the bishops explained in simple terms why they wish to implement this change? Why they are declaring illicit a practice that has been followed by untold millions of devout Catholics for more than a thousand years? What spiritual benefits they think this will bring to their flocks? And how do they think this will increase reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, belief in which has plummeted in the USA and the English speaking world? Faithful Catholics are becoming increasingly tired of being told that everything their parents and grandparents did was wrong. Is it not peculiar that when the faithful were so wrong in every aspect of their Catholic life that the churches, schools and seminaries were full. And now that we are supposedly doing everything so much better our churches, schools and seminaries are empty.

One cannot but think this instruction is yet another step on the deliberate and systematic Protestantisation of the Catholic Church in the search for the final ecumenical solution of a one world Church. Protestants, in all their multitude of sects, will never accept the essence of Catholic doctrine so the Catholic Church will have to capitulate. For many liturgists, both Catholic and other, the Second Vatican Council was their equivalent of the 'Big Bang' theory of the astronomers. The traditional Mass, the epitome of Catholic doctrine and the embodiment of the faith in every word and gesture, was the rock, the cornerstone, that had to be destroyed so that ecumenism could flourish. The changes introduced in the years immediately after the Council provided the first cracks. It was the General Instruction on the Roman Missal in 1969, however, that was the Big Bang explosion that the liturgists had worked tirelessly for. This liturgical explosion was launched in order to take everything away from a central authority, especially the focal point of Rome and the primacy of the Pope. It was meant to obliterate the traditional Catholic liturgy and pave the way for the proliferation of novelties, styles, personal preferences in the celebration of the New Mass in no less a away than the events of the Reformation in the 16th century led to the attempted destruction of the Mass and the Catholic Faith and the introduction of a personal religion rather than one divinely instituted.

It is now quite clear that the further the bishops and clergy move away from the traditional liturgy of the Church that was the norm at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council the more and more they are losing sight of the doctrines of the faith and the more and more they are losing the souls of those under their care. The seamless garment of the Catholic liturgy that once clothed the entire world is being reduced to a patchwork quilt of national and local designs. The instruction of the American bishops that it is forbidden to kneel to receive our Blessed Lord is just the latest in a long series of initiatives from the episcopate to transform the Catholic faith into a bland ecumenical, acceptable to all religion that neither challenges the intellect nor raises the heart and mind above the earthly plane. It is just another step along the road to a bland, comfortable, faith of sorts that does not disturb, does not challenge, and does not upset anyone of any creed or race. In other words, a religion that is not worthy of the name and one that worships man and not God.


Leo Darroch.

November 2002.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Forcing people to stand for Holy Communion is a grave pastoral abuse

Just one response from the Congregation of Divine Worship addressed to a diocese where it seems people were being denied the opportunity to kneel for Holy Communion and pressured to stand. The Congregation makes it abundantly clear that to deny people the opportunity to kneel to receive the Blessed Sacrament is not acceptable.

Responses to Questions on Kneeling for Communion

The following responses to questions were published in the November-December 2002 edition of Notitiae, the official publication of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. These responses represent the view of the Holy See on the questions of kneeling to receive Holy Communion and the right of Catholics to address concerns to the Holy See. More can be read on the Adoremus site.


Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

Prot. n. 1322/02/L

Rome, 1 July 2002

Your Excellency,

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has recently received reports of members of the faithful in your Diocese being refused Holy Communion unless while standing to receive, as opposed to kneeling. The reports state that such a policy has been announced to parishioners. There were possible indications that such a phenomenon might be somewhat more widespread in the Diocese, but the Congregation is unable to verify whether such is the case. This Dicastery is confident that Your Excellency will be in a position to make a more reliable determination of the matter, and these complaints in any event provide an occasion for the Congregation to communicate the manner in which it habitually addresses this matter, with a request that you make this position known to any priests who may be in need of being thus informed.

The Congregation in fact is concerned at the number of similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places, and considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). In view of the law that "sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them" (canon 843 ¶ 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.

In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.

Given the importance of this matter, the Congregation would request that Your Excellency inquire specifically whether this priest in fact has a regular practice of refusing Holy Communion to any member of the faithful in the circumstances described above and -- if the complaint is verified -- that you also firmly instruct him and any other priests who may have had such a practice to refrain from acting thus in the future. Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.

Thanking Your Excellency for your attention to this matter and relying on your kind collaboration in its regard,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez
Prefect

+Francesco Pio Tamburrino
Archbishop Secretary

Friday, 17 June 2011

Solemn Mass in Oxford

I attended Solemn Mass during the Octave of Pentecost at the church of St Anthony of Padua in Oxford (where J.R.R. Tolkien attended Mass). It was part of the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the church. Mass was offered by the Parish Priest Fr Aldo Tapparo; the deacon was Br Nicholas Edmunds-Smith, and the sub-deacon Fr Anton Webb, both of the Oxford Oratory.

My thanks to Mr Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society for the photographs. You can view more of them on his flickr page.

Afterwards at a splendid lunch in the hall Joseph Shaw's wife, Lucy was telling me about the Guild of St Clare which has recently started making and repairing vestments. The venture is still in its infancy and there is a keen interest in educating children in these arts as well, as their blog site shows.


In procession with the sacred ministers, Mgr Vaughan Morgan and Fr William Charleton of Middlesborough Diocese.


The Deacon prepares to receive the blessing.


Br. Nicholas gives the sermon on St Anthony and the Holy Spirit.


Fr Aldo Tapparo gives the final blessing.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Ordinariate Evensong and Benediction

Mgr. Andrew Burnham at Benediction in Blackfriars, Oxford,

assisted by Rev David Elliot and Rev James Bradley.


Well, Evensong and Benediction went off very splendidly. The music, under Mr Alistair Reid was excellent, showcasing English composers. I've not met Mgr Burnham before but he was very welcoming and personable, however, the evening didn't leave me any clearer as to what the Anglican patrimony of the Ordinariate actually is. The form of Evensong is indeed a conflation of Vespers and Compline and some of the prayers came from the American Book of Divine Worship (although personally I would have preferred to hear something adapted from the Book of Common Prayer but this, I suspect, is not something those who make up the Ordinariate would have used very much). Evensong in particular is, of course, Anglican, as were the translations of the psalms but the public singing of the Psalms is not uniquely Anglican (the singing being so very good might be, I suppose). Benediction, while it may have been abandoned by the majority of Catholic parishes, is still a Catholic practice. Perhaps what is part of the patrimony an attention to preaching. It was only as Mgr Burnham was preaching that it stuck me that Anglican sermon giving is different from most Catholic fare and certainly one area where we might benefit from taking some notes.

I think the Ordinariate is a very good thing and those coming into it are having to make quite brave acts of faith in what they leave behind but most of these Anglicans have been attempting to be catholic in their expression and belief for years and are more likely to have been using the English Roman Missal or the "tridentine" missal translated into English rather than the Book of Common Prayer or (heaven fore fend) the Alternative Service Book.

It seems to me that much of the "Anglican" patrimony they bring with them is in fact something that the Holy Father laments we have lost here in the West - a love of the liturgy, a care in celebrating it, a belief that it really is important and a desire that sacred worship be just that - have a sense of the sacred about it. Could it be that the "Anglican" patrimony is in fact much more Roman and much more Catholic than many Catholic parishes now experience?

Mgr Burnham made it quite clear they are still very much finding their way and may God bless them as they do so.

Some further photos curtesy of Br Laurence Lew, OP.


Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Ordinariate Patrimony - Evensong becomes a Catholic Devotion!

I'm looking forward to attending Evensong!
This evening t
here will be an historic celebration of Solemn Evensong & Benediction by the Oxford Ordinariate Group in the Priory Church of the Dominicans in Oxford - Blackfriars. In keeping with the patrimony they have brought with them, this will be followed by strawberries and refreshments. Music will include works by Stanford, Howells, Byrd, and Gibbons and the preacher is Monsignor Andrew Burnham.

I spent many happy hours whilst at university in Durham soaking up the sound of Vespers in the magnificent Durham Cathedral and enjoying the Tudor translation of the psalms - especially the "conies among the rocks". So I think it might be twenty years since I've been to Evensong!

Willaim Oddie has an interesting article about the event and further reflections on the Catholic Herald page. Here is a little from it:

What the Pope, God bless him, has actually done is to re-appropriate a liturgy whose origins were in the first place entirely Catholic. As the Anglo-Catholic liturgist and divine Percy Dearmer (a friend of G K Chesterton) pointed out, the first Anglican Prayer Book “was not created in a vacuum, but derives from several sources. First and foremost was the Sarum Rite, or the Latin liturgy developed in Salisbury in the 13th century, and widely used in England. Two other influences were a reformed Roman Breviary of the Spanish Cardinal Quiñones, and a book on doctrine and liturgy by Hermann von Wied, Archbishop of Cologne.”

The Eucharistic liturgy which emerged was, of course, entirely defective from a Catholic point of view, simply invalid, and deliberately so: it was made brutally clear that this was not the sacrifice of the Mass. But Cardinal Quiñones’s attempt at streamlining the Breviary was adopted virtually in its totality.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"A liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core." - Card. Ratzinger

Even in his last days of suffering and frailty, Pope John Paul fell to his knees to receive Holy Communion. Shouldn't the able-bodied do likewise? One of the purposes of holding people up as saints is that we follow their example.


"There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling. "It doesn't suit our culture", they say (which culture?) "It's not right for a grown man to do this -- he should face God on his feet". Or again: "It's not appropriate for redeemed man -- he has been set free by Christ and doesn't need to kneel any more".
"It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself."
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'

According to Fr Tim Finigan the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has made a request to the Congregation for Divine Worship to have a norm inserted into the England and Wales edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) regarding the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful. The text reads as follows:

"In the Dioceses of England and Wales Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament."

Apparently the Congregation has given its recognitio to this.

WHY?

While the points Fr Finigan makes are valid - that this norm does state that people may receiving Holy Communion kneeling - it makes it the exception, the oddity. This is how it will be portrayed. I am fed up to the back teeth with perfectly good and devout Catholic practices being made out to be odd and eccentric by the liberal 'elite' of the Church in this country. This will be used to bully people into believing that standing is what you are 'supposed to do' and if people want to kneel they will have to mark themselves out. Not that kneeling will be facilitated by liberal types who will use this to further vandalise our heritage by ripping out whatever altar rails are still left.

Why the Congregation agreed to it, we will never know. There is a history of making England & Wales out to be a "special case" to the Vatican Congregations that seems to bypass what applies for the rest of the Church. I am sometimes advised to be more democratic and consultative in running the parish but I can't recall being asked about this by the Bishops' Conference - it is presented to us as a fait accompli, done in secret and too late to do anything about it now.

This flies in the face of what the Holy Father himself has written and his Master of Ceremonies, Mgr. Marini, has publicly stated that the Holy Father now ALWAYS administers Holy Communion to kneeling communicants in order to foster and point out the value of that practice. When asked about this in an interview Mgr. Marini replied:

One could perhaps even see a preference for using this manner of distribution [kneeling and on the tongue] which, without taking away anything from the other [manner], better highlights the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces [them] more easily to the sense of the mystery. These are aspects which, in our time, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to stress and recover.
As this is a norm for England and Wales, it is obviously not so for the rest of the Church, so we must be different. But, hey, who really wants to better highlight the truth of the Real Presence? Not us here in England and Wales, it seems. Are we in line with the mind of the Church as expressed by the successor of St Peter? It seems not.

WHY?

A desire to protestantise our worship and remove it from any sense of sacrality? To make it banal and equate a sign of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament with a queue at the supermarket? (which, as Fr Finigan points out, has not been allowed by the Congregation for Divine Worship). But how many clergy will instruct people to bow before receiving standing? Even when you do, it is not very practical. Certainly, in my twenty years of ordination, I've had very little success when encouraging people to do this.

One astute comment on Fr Tim's blog points out that this will hardly facilitate the older and newer forms of the Roman Rite influencing one another. Kneeling for Holy Communion has been common to both of them but now this point of contact will be lost.

One further point comes to mind. This is being done at a time when we are welcoming significant numbers of former Anglicans into the Church in this country - nearly all of whom will bring with them the tradition of kneeling of receive Holy Communion. What does this say to them?

The Devil is depicted in art as having no knees.
WHY?

Because he refuses to bend the knee at the name of Jesus.


Laurence England points out the absurdity of this strange mindset when taken to its (il)logical conclusions...

I don't know how much good it will do but I intend to write to the Congregation for the Doctrine for Divine Worship and tell them there was no consultation and it is not something I desire. I urge anyone who kneels for Holy Communion to do likewise, or anyone who feels they might like to kneel, or anyone who doesn't kneel themselves but doesn't like secretive bullying tactics that this little norm will no doubt be used for.

The congregation's address is:

The Congregation for Divine Worship
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00120 CITTÀ DEL VATICANO

Monday, 13 June 2011

Church is Catholic from the very first moment - Pope Benedict

"We are told something very important: that the Church is catholic from the very first moment, that her university is not the fruit of the subsequent inclusion of diverse communities. From the first instant, in fact, the Holy Spirit created her as the Church of all peoples; she embraces the whole world, she transcends all frontiers of race, class, nation; she razes all the bastions and unites men in the profession of God one and triune. From the very beginning the Church is one, catholic and apostolic: This is her true nature and as such she must be recognized. She is holy, not due to the capacity of her members, but because God himself, with his Spirit, always creates her, purifies her and sanctifies her."

Words from the Holy Father's Homily for Pentecost yesterday. There is almost an embarrassment in some quarters to talk about converts, receiving people into the Church, saving souls. Do we not believe that part of the Church's mission is to bring all people into the one, catholic and apostolic fold? In other words that everyone is called to be a Catholic. The Holy Father says that this is a part of the Church's nature, not an historical accident. Within the confines of those who profess the Christian Faith the Holy Father is reaching out to all sorts of people and groups where there is a real hope of them rejoining the Catholic Faith - who knows what his next initiative might be? A true work of the Holy Spirit.
 

avandia recall