Monday, 16 January 2017

Liturgical Abuses

A distorted experience.

I read an article by Brian Williams on his Liturgy Guy site concerning his view that the Reform of the Reform is not sustainable in the long term. A great deal of what he says is very valid. So, for example, he says: 
Those who most vociferously argue for the Reform of the Reform need to remember that any parish currently embracing liturgical renewal is only one pastoral change away from a return to banality.
Which is certainly true. Although one hopes that the people have been catechised to understand why one is an improvement on the other and will retain that understanding. So, in case he reads this, my issue is a very particular one, rather than any general disagreement. (Indeed, I've added him to my blog roll.)

However he also says some things that I'd disagree with. Most startlingly that:
The Novus Ordo both by design, as well as by its own post-conciliar development, is a liturgy of options. The most liturgically impoverished Sunday Mass might be irreverent and profane, but rarely is it guilty of any actual liturgical abuse.
Too many options there - certainly. Some of the innovations he cites as intrinsic to the Novus Ordo , though, are certainly not so. Some of the  things he cites as now controversial in the Novus Ordo are indeed generally considered controversial but this is because of abuses of the Novus Ordo rubrics. Which leads us to his statement that most liturgically impoverished Ordinary Form Masses are rarely guilty of any liturgical abuse. Here I would disagree most strongly. Liturgical abuse is rife. 

To use some of his examples.

The Churches rules clearly state that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should only be used where there is an absolute necessity. However, in many parishes it is seen as way of involving as many laity as possible, and there is an excess of extraordinary ministers so routinely used that they grow into the idea that it is a right they have. Extraordinary ministers are obviously not needed when there are enough priests to give out Holy Communion but it is routinely seen that priest stay seated whist lay ministers give out Holy Communion. Another instance of the extraordinary becoming ordinary and then demanded as a right.

One of means by which such abuses permeate the Church is by clergy taking legislation meant for unusual situations, perhaps meant for mission territories, and transferring those practices to everyday settings in parishes. Communion Services led by laity, for example. A practice meant only for Sundays where a community CANNOT get access to a priest. But here in the UK, and I know elsewhere as well, these have become regular on weekdays, for which they were never intended. But it has the advantage in the modernist mind of getting the congregation used to seeing laity at the altar and in particular, women presiding at the altar. Quietly undermining the Churches teaching on a male only priesthood. There is also an inversion of the meaning: thus when such things are discussed at deanery meetings it becomes NOT where the community cannot get access to a priest but where a priest cannot get to a particular place to offer Mass. Bypassing the fact that it might be quite possible for people to get to a nearby Mass with relative ease or a little advanced organisation. 

The singing the Propers of the Mass instead of popular hymns, mentioned as now controversial, is another one of those things that should be incorporated into every Ordinary Form Mass. Replacing these texts of Sacred Scripture with popular hymns is not a real option but a liturgical abuse. Obviously so, for Scripture takes precedence and pride of pace in the Mass.

The use of Chant for the Ordinary of the Mass is, according to the Church's rules in this matter, important and to be encouraged. Indeed every Catholic is supposed to be able to join in things like the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus in Latin. How many can? How many schools incorporate this into their liturgies? 

I could go on and on with other examples not mentioned in this particular article of practices so routinely seen in the Ordinary Form of Mass in most parishes that most people have come to believe they are intrinsic to it (ad libbing, changing wording in the Eucharistic Prayers, forbidding kneeling to receive Holy Communion, abandoning the use of the communion plate, not wearing a chasuble, to mention but a few). My point is that liturgical abuses, as well as the irreverent and profane, are rife. I think most priests never read the rubrics or the General Instruction often enough (and I include myself in that) so they pick up liturgical abuses seen or read about elsewhere and think they must be okay. Of course, there are those too who deliberately introduce foreign elements with an modernising agenda in mind. That's something else again.

Many liturgies routinely seen are as much distorted from the Norm (technically understood) as a Salvador Dali painting, so that most people's experience is rather distorted one.

(And "No" - I'm not a Dali fan!)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Masses

Christmas Masses at St Catherine Labouré
Stanifiled Lane
PR25 4QG


 First Mass of Christmas at 11pm
(OF Sung Latin)
(followed by a glass of wine in the Pope John Paul Room)


8.30am (OF Said English)

10am Missa Cantata
(EF Sung Latin)

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A small mercy for priests

As Christmas approaches, I thought I thought it would be a mercy to re-post one of those letters (the first) that Cardinal Piacenza used to address to clergy in his time as Prefect for the Congregation of Clergy. I always found them uplifting and full of a sense of care and joyful hope about those whom he was addressing. A father encouraging the best from his sons and pointing them in the right direction to stay on the good path or return to it if they had strayed. The Lord knows, we priests need all the encouragement we can get in these times.

Dear Priests and Deacons,

At this time, when the Holy Father has graciously named me as the new Prefect, I would like to take the opportunity to convey a cordial greeting to each and every one of you.

The Eucharist Celebrated and Adored

The Year for Priests, recently brought to a conclusion, remains always before us, both in its content and in its model of sanctity, St John Mary Vianney. With regard to its content, it is to be fully assimilated into the environment of the formation of the Clergy, both in the initial and ongoing stages, especially concerning to the central place it wished to recognise of the Eucharist, celebrated and adored; with regard to the model of sanctity that was offered, the heroic participation of the Curé of Ars in the self-giving of Christ for the life of men shines forth, and that witness spurs us continually to offer ourselves to the Lord in the "fragrant sacrifice".

It is in the contemplation and adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist that each priest and deacon begins to understand the exigencies of his own personal participation in the mystery of Christ, "the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the immaculate Victim". The life of he priest and deacon becomes increasingly identified with the sacrifice of the altar, consumed by the fire of the Holy Ghost, and rising as a pleasing fragrance in the presence of the Father.

First of All, Abide in Him

Even in the face of the storm of the "worldly sea," Jesus of Nazareth repeats to his disciples, "Do not be afraid!" To the temptation of activism and of the fitful searching after solutions that are human, and all too human, He beckons us gently, "Abide in my love" (Jn 15: 9).

The temptation of activism and the fitful searching after solutions that are human, and all too human: His Eminence identifies what lies at the root of so much clerical burn-out, superficiality, and despair.

As the Holy Father Benedict XVI pointed out, "If we continue to read this Gospel passage attentively, we also find a second imperative: "abide", and "observe my commandments". "Observe" only comes second. "Abide" comes first, at the ontological level, namely that we are united with him, he has given himself to us beforehand and has already given us his love, the fruit. It is not we who must produce the abundant fruit; Christianity is not moralism, it is not we who must do all that God expects of the world but we must first of all enter this ontological mystery: God gives himself. His being, his loving, precedes our action and, in the context of his Body, in the context of being in him, being identified with him and ennobled with his Blood, we too can act with Christ" (Allocution at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, 12 February 2010).

It is impossible to observe the commandments of Christ without first abiding in Christ, without making one's dwelling in His open Heart. "His being, His loving," says Cardinal Piacenza, "precedes our action." This is, expressed in biblical terms, what Dom Chautard called, in his spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate.

Dear friends, it is precisely this primacy of the ontological over the ethical, of the "abiding" over the "doing" that is the guarantee, and the only guarantee possible, of the fruitfulness of our apostolate!

In Confidence and Peace

In the face of prevailing secularism and rampant relativism, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman reminds us that:

Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God" (Biglietto Speech, 12 May 1879).

A splendid quotation from Blessed John Henry Newman! What can any one of us do but go on his own proper duties, in confidence and peace? "Stand still, " says Blessed Newman, echoing the versicle sung at Tierce on Christmas Eve: V. Constantes estote. R. Videbitis auxilium Domini super vos. "Be ye steadfast. And ye shall see the help of Lord upon you." There is a hidden heroism in quiet fidelity to one's duties sustained by confidence in the Providence of God, and by the peace that is the fruit of such a confidence.

The Mother of Priests

With these sentiments of profound, radical fidelity to the Lord in the Church and in history, in the Lord of my and of your sacerdotal existence, I ask a particular remembrance in your prayers, while I assure you of my pastoral concern, entrusting each one of you to the powerful protection of Her who, by virtue of a most special title, is the Mother of Priests: the Blessed Virgin Mary.

+ Mauro Card. Piacenza

Monday, 12 December 2016

Charity Carol Concert

Our annual charity Carol Concert is this coming Saturday. Always a fantastic event. We have raised thousands of pounds at this event over the last five years which has been sent to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for SUROl, the leprosy charity of which he is the patron. Let's make this another great year!

Carol Concert

Free Entry
A collection for the work of SUROL
(those affected by leprosy in Sri Lanka)
will take place
 Mince pies &Mulled wine to follow
 St Catherine’s Church
Stanifield Lane      Farington   PR25 4QG

 Saturday 17th December

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The mitre made for Pope Pius IX to wear for the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.

The Fraternity of St Peter Fathers at St Mary's in Warrington have very kindly invited me to preach and assist as deacon at High Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at 7.30pm tomorrow (8th December). So I am looking forward to the music, which they are much blest with there and to seeing friends and acquaintances. Do come along if you can - especially if you have not been to the splendid St Mary's church before.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Bishop Athanasius Schneider on Amoris Laetitia

As you will know, my tipsy meanderings here focus mainly on things liturgical, rather than theological. I have stayed away from commenting on the ongoing Amoris Latitia saga in public (although my name was among those who wrote, originally privately, to the cardinals with a critique of it). Many of whom found that they were then contacted by their bishops and superiors, as the Holy See had already brought their names to the attention of their superiors.

I make no further comment now but Bishop Athanasius Schneider has posted a piece on Rorate Caeli that may be of interest. It draws my attention because, having spent some time in the bishop's company, I have always found him gentle, fair-minded and self-effacing - to say nothing of his insight, clear thinking and directness. A pastor of holiness, so well worth listening to.

Bishop Schneider Mass - Conference - London