Friday, 14 July 2017

More Tradition!

Many of you will have read the news that Bishop Campbell in Lancaster Diocese is asking the Institute of Christ the King to take over the care and administration of  another historic church in Preston: St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs. 

Two things struck me. That the Bishop sees the Institute priests as having the ability to breathe new life back into areas of the diocese where it has been in decline. Indeed, he speaks of the Institute as "evangelizing through use of the extraordinary form". That they have “shown tremendous energy in conveying a sense of the sacred through their proven ministry at St Walburge’s and around the world." Inspired by their patron, St Francis de Sales, the Institute strives to form its people in holiness according to their motto of “teaching the truth with charity”.

I know for a fact that the priests in Preston work extraordinarily hard and their dedication is to be admired. As with other communities led by priests who still see a future for the Church and believe it has something to offer, they set about their work presuming it will be successful and believing that it can grow. If they do the work, the Holy Spirit will bring the fruits. Too often, we seem to have succumbed to the spirit of the age, believing that the Church can only decline and plan merely to manage "inevitable" decline. That can only become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

One of the ways the Traditional movements in the Church manage this is that they are now the ones offering something "new", something that offers a challenge to the secular culture all around us. They offer an alternative to the spirit of the age and that holds an attraction where people have become disenchanted with the banal - be it in politics or religion. Beauty ever ancient ever new.

The altar dedicated to the English Martyrs.

The second thing that struck me is that the church is to be a centre for devotion to the English Martyrs. We have been slightly embarrassed, I think, by the English and Welsh Martyrs of the Reformation period. By the time they were canonised in 1970, the mood of the Church had changed and they seemed a little out of place at just the time when it appeared that reconciliation with the groups and denominations outside the Church was a hopeful goal. Nevertheless, the example and sacrifice of ordinary men and women in the face of persecution of the Faith seems actually a great draw in these days when the Faith is persecuted anew by the powers that be.

I understand that there will be regular weekly devotions to the Martyrs, alongside a full programme of Mass and Confessions etc, once the handover of the building takes place in the autumn. The Canons will be glad of extra help coming in the form of a Deacon from the Institute to lend a hand.

Bishop Michael Campbell 
with priests of the Institute of Christ the King.

The sanctuary 
in St Thomas of Canterbury & the English Martyrs, Preston:
 a) pre-1887; 
b) after rebuild and refurnishing by Pugin & Pugin, 1887-88.
This was not a re-ordering for the sake of it
(sometimes seen today!)
but part of enlarging the church for a growing congregation at the time.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Summer Fete on Saturday 8th July

Even the clergy are set to work at St Catherine's.

Busy day preparing for our Summer Fete. 
All the usual entertainments 
and refreshments. 
Come along if you can!
1pm start.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Pilgrimage to St Winifrede's Well

 I took part in the annual LMS Pilgrimage 
to St Winifride's Well on Sunday.

She was the daughter of a wealthy resident of Tegeingl, Flintshire, Wales, and the sister of St. Beuno. She was most impressed by Beuno, beheaded on June 22nd by one Caradog when she refused to submit to his advances, she had her head restored by Beuno, and sometime later, became a nun of the convent of a double monastery at Gwytherin in Denbigshire. She succeeded an Abbess Tenoy, as Abbess and died there fifteen years after her miraculous restoration to life. A spring gushed forth where Winifred's head fell, and is called Holy Well or St. Winifred's Well; becoming a great pilgrimage centre where many cures have been reported over the centuries, including all through the Reformation period.

Is all this merely legend? All we know is that great and unusual works were expected in the early Church, indeed Our Lord had promised they would be the signs associated with believers.
A place of pilgrimage since the time of St Winifride's  earthly life, continuously used as a place of worship and attested miracles for all those centuries, even during the time of the Reformation and still a place of prayer and hope today.
What a legend!

Preparing in the sacristy.
Fr James Mawdsley, FSSP, Celebrant
Fr Simon Henry, Deacon
Fr Sean Riley, Subeacon.

Inroibo ad altare Dei.

These splendid vestments are used every year for the pilgrimage Mass.

In reflective mood for a moment.

De rigueur for the biretta to be worn at a jaunty angle this year!



Dominus sit in corde meo et in labiis meis: 
ut digne et competenter annuntiem evangelium suum.

The sermon on the purity of St Winifride 
and the purity of the Catholic Faith;
always under attack, yet never defeated,
for sacrifice brings God.

And so to the main business.

Offerimus tibi, Domine!
The lovely ritual of the Deacon assisting at the Offertory.

Let my prayer, O Lord, come like incense before You.

Pax tecum.

 Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi 
custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam.

The obligatory group photo.

The procession to the Well.


The Relic of St Winifrede.

 Arriving at the Well, the relic is venerated.

It was great to see a lot of children taking part;
at the Mass 
and then in the procession and coming to venerate the Relic.

My thanks to John Aaron 
for kind permission to use his fabulous photographs.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Ss Peter and Paul Masses

Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul on Thursday.

Low Mass - Ordinary Form at 9.30am

Missa Cantata - Traditional Form at 7.30pm
(Please note the slightly later than usual time for this Holyday Mass)

Followed by light refreshments to raise a glass to these great Saints;
Saints of true catholicity, according to Pope Emeritus Benedict.


St Peter's Basilica
Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is at the same time a grateful memorial of the great witnesses of Jesus Christ and a solemn confession for the Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. It is first and foremost a feast of catholicity. The sign of Pentecost - the new community that speaks all languages and unites all peoples into one people, in one family of God -, this sign has become a reality. 

The purpose of the mission is that humanity itself becomes a living glorification of God, the true worship that God expects: this is the deepest meaning of catholicity - a catholicity that has already been given to us, towards which we must constantly start out again. Catholicity does not only express a horizontal dimension, the gathering of many people in unity, but also a vertical dimension: it is only by raising our eyes to God, by opening ourselves to him, that we can truly become one.

Catholicity means universality - a multiplicity that becomes unity; a unity that nevertheless remains multiplicity. From Paul's words on the Church's universality we have already seen that the ability of nations to get the better of themselves in order to look towards the one God, is part of this unity. In the second century, the founder of Catholic theology, St Irenaeus of Lyons, described very beautifully this bond between catholicity and unity and I quote him. He says: 
"The Church spread across the world diligently safeguards this doctrine and this faith, forming as it were one family: the same faith, with one mind and one heart, the same preaching, teaching and tradition as if she had but one mouth. Languages abound according to the region but the power of our tradition is one and the same. The Churches in Germany do not differ in faith or tradition, neither do those in Spain, Gaul, Egypt, Libya, the Orient, the centre of the earth; just as the sun, God's creature, is one alone and identical throughout the world, so the light of true preaching shines everywhere and illuminates all who desire to attain knowledge of the truth" (Adv. Haer. I 10, 2). 
The unity of men and women in their multiplicity has become possible because God, this one God of heaven and earth, has shown himself to us; because the essential truth about our lives, our "where from?" and "where to?" became visible when he revealed himself to us and enabled us to see his face, himself, in Jesus Christ. This truth about the essence of our being, living and dying, a truth that God made visible, unites us and makes us brothers and sisters. Catholicity and unity go hand in hand. And unity has a content: the faith that the Apostles passed on to us in Christ's name.

We have said that the catholicity of the Church and the unity of the Church go together. The fact that both dimensions become visible to us in the figures of the holy Apostles already shows us the consequent characteristic of the Church: she is apostolic. What does this mean?

The Church is apostolic, because she professes the faith of the Apostles and attempts to live it. There is a unity that marks the Twelve called by the Lord, but there is also continuity in the apostolic mission. St Peter, in his First Letter, described himself as "a fellow elder" of the presbyters to whom he writes (5: 1). And with this he expressed the principle of apostolic succession: the same ministry which he had received from the Lord now continues in the Church through priestly ordination. The Word of God is not only written but, thanks to the testimonies that the Lord in the sacrament has inscribed in the apostolic ministry, it remains a living word.

Let us pray to the Lord that the truth of these words may be deeply impressed in our hearts, together with his joy and with his responsibility; let us pray that shining out from the Eucharistic Celebration it will become increasingly the force that shapes our lives.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The impossibility of macro-evolution. TOMORROW!

Any priests, deacons and religious welcome!
Next Clergy Day: Wednesday 28 June 2017
(Last before Summer Recess)

At St Mary's Warrington, car park accessed via Smith Street WA1 2NS

1pm Lunch at nearby restaurant (meet at St Mary's at 1pm and walk there together)
2pm Coffee.

This month's talk is on the impossibility of marco-evolution, by Fr James Mawdsley, FSSP, which I am looking forward to hearing, as it's one of my bug-bears!
Fr Mawdsley celebrating Mass.

Should you wish to arrive earlier to pray:
Church open from 11am, with Rosary at 11.30am and Confessions from 11.40am until 12.05pm, followed by Mass at 12.10pm.

Liturgical Training
There will also be the opportunity for priests and seminarians to have one-to-one training in offering Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Sessions are available at 11am, 12noon (memorial chapel) and 3pm. Please book in advance to be sure.

Monday, 26 June 2017

First Holy Communions

 Yesterday we had our second "batch" of First Communicants. Congratulations to all of them. Family visitors from Nottingham and Poland had come for the Mass! 

We have had a small group of five this year. Sad that there are so few but the bonus is that these are all children who come regularly to Mass with their families and who will continue to come to Mass. After 25 years of trying very many plans, courses, inducements, carrots and sticks, we at least no longer suffer the disappointment of seeing lots of children making their First Communion and then disappearing forever from the following Sunday. 

Like all priests, I've experienced the depressing phenomenon of families attending all during the preparation, no matter how lengthy, and thinking that they might have gotten into the habit of coming to Mass and taking part in the life of the parish only to find that first Communion was also last Communion. That is, until they roll up at a school Mass (or a family funeral or wedding) and the teachers herd them all up to Communion without any instructions on going to Confession, as they are basically lapsed. And yes, I know it's not the children's fault but that of the parents; none the less, they learn by practical experience that its okay to be lapsed and go to Holy Communion whenever they happen to attend Mass every one, two three... or twenty years!

I have found in the past that it is possible, over a long period and if the school and staff are open to it, to catechise a procedure for more thought to go into this process but it is still definitely fighting against the "perceived" wisdom of the age. 

The vast majority of our children in Catholic schools are basically lapsed, it seems to me, so liturgies would be more suitable avoiding Mass and using para-liturgies - to evangelise first. Sadly, the lazy path is usually to put on a Mass, trying to squeeze in all sorts of unsuitable things to hold the interest, as so few of the children are able to make the basic responses, let alone understand what is meant to be happening. Thus we get the dance, drama art, secular music, secular readings and a myriad of other oddities squeezed into and distorting the Rite of the Mass. Much better to use all these things - and hopefully, Benediction, Rosary and Stations of the Cross - in other liturgies where we don't have to force the lapsed up to receive Communion when they are in no fit state to understand, appreciate or benefit from it.
The necessary certificates
and more importantly, cake!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon ordains FSSP priests

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the ordination of two priests for the FSSP on Saturday.
A wonderful occasion! 
Our Archbishop here in the Liverpool Diocese 
celebrated the Ordination Mass 
in the FSSP church of St Mary in Warrington town centre.

A quiet moment of reflection in the sacristy beforehand.

There were thirty of forty priests and Religious in attendance from all over the country and beyond.

John Aron, who took all these excellent photographs, spotted yours truly in the crowd.
All photographs used with John's kind permission.

Archbishop Malcolm prays at the Lady Altar at the start of Mass.
A lovely depiction of the English Martyrs is part of the reredos.

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury was also in attendance.
One of the ordinands, Alex Stewart, is from his diocese.

Deacon (as he still was here) Alex Stewart, 
who I know from my home parish of 
Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton.

 Krzysztof Sanetra, 
originally from Poland before coming to England.

The Litany.
A group of priests, Religious and seminarians sang some of the chant
while St Mary's is blessed with a fabulous choir, led by Michael Wynne,
who rose tot he occasion with their usual aplomb.


All the priests present share in the laying on of hands.
There was a good sprinkling of priests from the Archdiocese present.

Members of the Institute of Christ the Institute of Christ the King, now with churches in New Brighton and Preston, were also present.

Very Rev. Fr Michael Mary Sim C.SS.R, 
Rector of the Redepmtorists at Papa Stronsay in the Orkney Islands.

Fr James Mawdsley, FSSP from the Shrine at Warrington.

All teh priests extend their right hands during the prayer of consecration.
Pictured centre here, Fr deMallery, Rector of the Shrine, who kept a calm surface during the day, which must have been some organisational feat. 
Actually, everything seemed to go off without a hitch.

It was particularly moving to see the bound hands of the ordinands.

The newly ordained preparing to concelebrate withthe Archbishop.

Mysterium fidei!

Great to see St Mary's packed for the occasion. It is quite a revelation to those of us ordained during the wilderness years when the Traditional form of the Mass, and indeed anything traditional, was frowned on in the seminary. Now, here we are and the riches of liturgy, music and architecture that have inspired Catholics for centuries are once again beginning to flourish. Laus Deo!
Thank to Archbishop Malcolm for making all parts of the Church feel at home in his diocese.

Mass was followed by a much appreciated drinks reception in the garden -
it was a beautiful sunny day.