Monday, 20 May 2019

First Holy Communions

Congratulations to our First Holy Communicants 
who received the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament yesterday.

We celebrated a beautiful Mass with worthy music
and a full church. Only a small number of children but all from practising families, so their appearance is not a one-off and their first Communion will not be their last Communion. 
It's sad that their aren't more, of course, as there should be but at least this is a real spiritual step in their lives and not just a party organised by the school.

One of my hopes for the Synod in our diocese is that it will tackle the appalling and much ignored fact that the vast majority of children in our "Catholic" schools are in fact atheists/agnostics/ liberal humanists. A strong word perhaps but what else can describe people who have no desire to play a part in the life of the Church, contribute nothing to its mission and upkeep, have no perceivable attachment to the community which is the Body of Christ and no knowledge of the Truths of the Faith?

The celebrations continued afterwards with a splendid cake
and here we are cutting it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Synod 2020. Number 15. HORRIFIED: Lay led parishes.

Meetings for the "listening " stage of the Synod continue around our diocese in parishes and various groupings. I attended an excellent talk on the "Social Mission of the Church" at St Charles', in Liverpool last night given my Mgr John Armitage, Rector of the Shrine at Walsingham. The Real Faith explained in a down to earth way - I think that can be described as an experience as rare as hen's teeth!

I did hear some other less welcome news. That there is talk that after the Synod we might be introducing lay-led parishes. To say that I feel strongly on this issue might be an understatement, but bear with me.

If this is even being considered, I would argue that:
- there are overwhelming practical difficulties to achieving this; 
- it is a completely Protestant conception;
- it would be replacing one legitimate hierarchy, hallowed by tradition and instituted by Our Lord, for a completely illegitimate hierarchy, seen only in groups that have protested against the Catholic Church, and not instituted by Our Lord.

What training would there be for this role for this role? Given that priests take six / seven years to Ordination and then serve a curacy.

Would said Leaders live in the Presbytery? Would they be paid? More than priests are paid? What would be the relationship with the parish priest, nominally in charge (I presume)?

Besides these practical difficulties, at the heart of Catholicism, as Mgr Armitage said last night, is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (and I give it that title deliberately), for it is the act that turns our human suffering (which is always unpleasant and evil) into sacrifice, which is an act of love (we sacrifice for who and what we love willingly - as Christ did on the cross).

Any Catholic community needs to be lead by the Eucharist, centered on the Eucharist, gathered for the Eucharist. By practical necessity a lay person cannot lead the Eucharist, cannot gather us to the Eucharist, cannot make the Eucharist present among us. (And I mean here, the practical ability to confect the Mass, not that a lay person cannot teach others or be an example to others of Eucharistic love in a most powerful way.) 

The whole idea of parachuting priests in to become sacrament machines is so antithetical to post Vatican II thinking that I can hardly believe it is even being considered. But, of course, for the even more sacred cow of lay empowerment (with all its concomitant heresies such as the ordination of women and lay-led Eucharists) any principle can be sacrificed. Joining in with these bright ideas rooted in secular liberalism is no more than walking into a euthanasia clinic of our own making. Look around, the world of secular liberalism in which we live is lost, spiritually and morally; divided, rudderless and without effective leadership. Is it really a model we want to follow?

I think such an idea would be a practical disaster, condemning our Catholic communities to a slow and painful death. 

The number of priests in relation to people coming to Mass is actually not that bad - if I recall the data presented at our own Synod gatherings not so long ago. That is, comparing it to the past in this particular diocese and indeed, from my reading, even compared to other "Catholic" countries, such a Malta.

Yes, some of our churches are in the wrong place. Yes, we perhaps built too many churches in the days of plenty before the 1960's. If such a radical and unnatural scheme as lay-led parishes is seriously being considered, I would hope that other alternatives would be looked at as well.


I understand that keeping a presence at the most local level is an ideal that we probably all subscribe to but not at the cost of that presence being  an emaciated and dying one, for that is no witness at all to lead us or anyone else to glory.

A hundred years ago, Catholic churches were far fewer than they are now, yet without much public transport and with no cars, people still got to Mass every Sunday (more than do so now). Perhaps the time has come to consolidate our parishes in a bold and deliberate way? Looking to an ideal of one parish in each town (or area of a city). So closing many parishes - yes. At the moment, we have far too many Masses - still a choice of times in many parishes where the church is never full. A hangover to the days when several Masses were needed to simply accommodate the number of people coming to Mass. Theologically, one Sunday Mass in one community is the ideal. We could approach that ideal much more reasonably in these days.

What has been happening heretofore is failing communities/parishes suffering death by a thousand cuts. First the school goes, then the parish centre, next it looses it's priest and is merged with the neighbouring parish, now we are to suffer being led by the longest standing Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion? If we are to be radical in facing the challenges of the time, let us do so with courage, not with ever-fading, increasingly blurry photocopies of what was once a thriving community.

Certainly, many practical matters would need to be taken in hand. Arrangements would need to be put in place for transport assistance for those who found it difficult to travel - car-sharing, mini-buses, liaising with local bus companies... whatever. Not impossible, surely.

Imagine every Catholic Mass in the Archdiocese on a Sunday would have a full church! Quite a witness to anyone chancing to call in.

The churches closed would not necessarily need to be all sold off and our presence lost.

Halls and premises could be utilised to keep the Catholic presence alive. Not in some fake way of imitating Protestants with lay led services but by the real work that the Second Vatican Council calls lay people to: active witness in the world, where those outside the Church look on and say, "Wow! Why is that person doing that?" They will know we are Christian by our love. Premises could be put to community use: a large  Presbytery  could be offered to groups such as L'Arche. Whether it would be places for the homeless, day centres for the elderly,  credit unions or food banks. If we have this spare money to pay lay people, let's put it to better use than making Christ's Priesthood redundant. 

Priests to lead the Church. 
Lay people to lead the world.
Is this so wrong?

I'm not suggesting this as THE answer, but merely postulating that that other models are available - apart from 1970's ones and Protestant ones.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

High Mass on Low Sunday

Well, not quite High Mass but Missa Cantata at 11.30am.

Our usual Sunday offering 
but Sung Mass with Schola for the EF this week
followed by celebratory refreshments.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Easter Sunday Masses

Easter Sunday

Mass (said in English) at 8.30am

Sung Mass (Latin EF) at 10am

For our regulars, please note the change in Mass arrangements just for Easter Sunday.

I am risen, and I am always with you, alleluia; you have placed your hand upon me, alleluia; your wisdom has been shown to be most wonderful, alleluia, alleluia. O Lord, you have searched me and known me; you know when I sit down and when I rise up.

The beauty of the Church's authentic music.

Easter Vigil

The Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter
begins at 8.30pm on Saturday
with the Easter fire.

Celebratory refreshments to follow 
in the Pope John Paul Room

The Mass setting is Mozart's "Sparrow Mass"
Missa Brevis (short Mass!)

Good Friday. Liturgy of the Lord's Passion

Liturgy of the Lord's Passion
at 3pm on Good Friday

Another little taste of some of the music

Monday, 15 April 2019

Holy Thursday. Mass of the Lord's Supper

Mass of the Lord's Supper is at 7.30pm 
on Thursday.

A little sampler of the music!