Saturday 30 October 2010

Sir Humphrey to run the Diocese!

There is a proposal afoot in our diocese to re-organise the order of the sacraments of initiation, ie Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist - probably all taking place during the primary school years. The diocesan Mandarins seem to be desperate to make sure this happens - internal memos are arriving thick and fast in the form of e-mails and letters and ALL clergy are summoned to a meeting this coming week. Among the ordinary working priests I speak to, I can't find anyone who is in favour of it from any quarter. Concerns range from

- it's just not practical

- disagree that we need to be archaeologists and return to some time in the past as the answer to our problems

- don't think it will make any difference to the rate of practice (for example, what difference has it made in any diocese where it has been tried?)

- where is confession supposed to fit in (it doesn't appear to be mentioned).

Things are not helped by some of the nonsense that is being sent to us. I will quote one, desperate example, out of context and without names, as I don't want to get myself into trouble (by the way, the internal quotation marks are in the original text):
'He responded by saying that he was minded to do it but does not want to close down discussion of what 'it' will entail... He said that we are still deciding what 'it' is, but whatever 'it' is, we're going to do it...'

Sir Humphrey would be proud!

Regarding IT - I think the ordinary priests may have decided to pitch in their lot with Groucho Marx in the video clip below...

Masses for All Saints and All Souls

Solemn Mass last year

For those of us who celebrate the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite alongside the Novus Ordo the next few days sees a busy schedule of Masses, complicated, in this country, by the movement of Holy Days of Obligation to the nearest Sunday. However, I'm fortunate here in having assistance from musicians and servers to be able to offer Solemn Mass for All Souls Day. So after the usual schedule of Sunday Masses, including the Traditional Rite at 11.30am we have Low Mass at 7pm on Monday (as a votive of All Saints) and then on All Souls Day three Masses at:

9.30am Ordinary Form English

12 noon Low Mass in the Traditional Form

7pm Solemn Mass in the Traditional Form

Friday 29 October 2010

The Power and the Priestess

I happened upon this article on "Why Women can't be priests" via a link from the Traditional VocationsBlog.
Br Tom Forda OFM Cap writes in a very clear way and does so unashamedly. I find that I have often been infected with the political correctness of the world and while defending some of the Church's teaching am aware of squirming a little, knowing that to some of the people I'm talking to I sound like something out of the ark. Well, I suppose we are, but it is the Ark of Salvation - if only we would hold firm. I particularly like his explanation of the mistake of seeing the priesthood as power and therefore why can't women have power in the Church? But the priesthood should not be about power - it is supposed to be about service, but the service of offering salvation to others, which sometimes means saying things that others do not want to hear.

Thanks to the Traditional Vocations Blog.

Thursday 28 October 2010

The Heritage of Holiness

Whilst in Rome last week I offered Mass in the Holy Cross chapel of St Mary Major's. Here we are in the sacristy complete with two concelebrating priests ( I make an exception for the dreaded concelebration when on holiday) Deacon and Religious Brother serving. There was a sign in the sacristy directed at the priests that read:

Offer this Mass as if it were your first...
your last...
and your only one.
We had a small congregation of about 20 pilgrims who participated actively and actually with great devotion by chanting the parts of the Mass. The Antiphons were also chanted. It was very beautiful, simple and moving - and completely possible to offer the Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem, in Latin, with chant in the often less than ideal circumstances of turning up in a church on pilgrimage without having the chance of much preparation. I noticed that whenever the chant was sung, a crowd gathered outside the glass doors of the chapel. We had no problem when requesting a Latin Missal and an English Lectionary in either sacristy and this time, and nearly always, find that other people not from our group are drawn to what they see and hear and come and join us - the beauty being that Mass is not in our or their language but in the language of the Church, which breaks down the barriers.

The beauty of the experience echoes with something James McMillan has written in response to an article in the telegraph, when, after the Scottish bishops had asked him to compose a Mass setting for the Papal visit, it was almost railroaded by a "committee" who took against it for, among other reasons, that "it might require a competent organist". I'm not actually the greatest fan of Mr McMillan's liturgical music (although streets ahead of what we have suffered in the last 40 years) but here is part of his response on Damien Thompson's site:

Chant should be re-introduced universally in our liturgies. It can be done in Latin or the vernacular. I truly think that it might be a time for composers to butt out for a bit! We have enough music, and not enough care is being taken in reviving the great Catholic traditions. We (composers) might be better employed for a few years adapting the chant traditions for the use of ordinary people.

We have such a wealth of chant and chant based Church music for the liturgy - the heritage of holiness - with such variety that there are examples that can be sung in any setting - from the lowliest little parish to St Peter's. If only we would use it to stimulate our sense of God's presence and let it help us pray!

We had a similar Mass at St John Lateran as well, pictured below.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

The Scarlet and the Black!

When I was in Rome last week I went into Gamarelli's to get one or two things (my old biretta is worn out through constant use!). On the Tuesday morning I asked how long I would have to wait for an order for a new cassock, only to be told me that it would depend on what announcements the Holy Father made. When I went in again on Friday the Holy Father had indeed named 24 new Cardinals (although none from these islands) and orders for lower clerics were all on hold. The window display had been changed to one full of all the kit a new cardinal could need and the place was awash with yards and yards of red silk being prepared for new cassocks and ferraiolone. However, although the staff were busy putting together gift parcels for the newly-named cardinals, Roberto was good enough to set aside a few moments to see to my modest puchases! It seems that Gamarelli makes some distinction between personages but won't completely ingnore a good customer!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Clerical Abuse

I have been away in Rome over the past week and only on returning have I been reading about Fr Michael Clifton deciding to close down his blog, "Fr Mildew" after threats from Mgr Basil Loftus, (not so much the Spirit of Vatican II as The Ghost of Councils Past), to sue him. I'm sure that the threat would never stand up but all the unpleasantness and bullying might well make someone decide not to bother.

I don't know Fr Clifton, except by reputation as a "retired Catholic priest in the traditional mould" and from what others have said about him as a kind and warm priest. I have met but, thankfully, don't know Mgr Basil Loftus either, except by reputation and from his writings (I long ago cancelled the newspaper for which he writes - mainly because of what he wrote - much of which I personally would find it difficult to reconcile with being a non-heretical Catholic). Mgr Loftus is infamous throughout Yorkshire for wreckovating every church he could reach - "I enjoyed the challenge of bringing the reforms of the Vatican Council to small country parishes" - and litigious threats. He has threatened legal proceedings against his own parishioners in various of the parishes in which he has 'served', including a few acquaintances of mine. As is usual with such people, although easily wounded by what others say about him he can be forceful in his criticism of others.

Just recently (9th Oct. 2010) in a letter to "the Pill that is bitter but of little use" he accused the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, of 'crassness and insensitivity' for daring to uphold Church teaching on In Vitro fertilization. He writes in a letter headed "Sour response to joy":

Shortly before he became Pope John Paul I, in 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani, then Patriarch of Venice, was asked about the morality of the in vitro fertilisation which had led to the birth of the first “test-tube baby”,Louise Brown, in this country. He replied that he had no idea, but he shared the joy of the parents. Now, 32 years later, as one of the two scientists who made that birth possible, Dr Robert Edwards, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his pioneering achievement, the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, describes the award as “completely out of order”. Are we to conclude that the “joys and the hopes” of the parents of the four million children who have been born since then as the direct result of Dr Edwards’ pioneering efforts are no longer “the joys and the hopes … of the followers of Christ”, in the words of Gaudium et Spes?

I thought that the Church's teaching on In Vitro Fertilization was clear. He seems to take issue with it. What does one call taking issue with the teaching of the Church? I think it begins with an "H". (Hint: The Angelic Doctor decribed it as:"a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas").

For further horror he has also written that an unborn foetus might be described as "an unjust aggressor" in the context of the Sister Margaret McBride case. He writes:

I wonder, however, if one further consideration could be explored. Has sufficient thought been given to the possible role of the foetus as an unjust aggressor? The existence of a negative reply from a Roman dicastery is not proof that it has. Is a victim allowed to take the life of an aggressor in order to save his or her own life, even if the aggressor had not formed, or had been unable to form, an aggressive intent? If so, would not a foetus whose objective aggression was threatening the mother's life, be in the same moral/legal position as an unwitting aggressor , or an aggressive child or mentally defective adult?

Renaming the foetus as an unjust aggressor to enable the child to be aborted is the inference. Re-classifying human beings as something else not quite fully human has long been the way to violate their rights, from slavery to the Nazis.

Mgr Loftus reminds me of something that I have often encountered - clerical bullying in the Church. It is the unspoken clerical abuse, that of clerics by other clerics - usually in positions of authority. I remember being told by a highly respected priest of the bullying he suffered in the seminary by other seminarians - two of whom are now bishops! He still spoke most emotionally about it even after so many years.

If your face doesn't fit, all kinds of ways can be found by those inclined to use their authority in a diocese or Order to get away with great unkindness and thwart any recourse someone might have - unless you are prepared to go all the way in a long and difficult battle to confront it. Not something everyone feels up to doing.

It is something I have experienced in the past and indeed am experiencing at the present moment in relation to something that should be quite usual processes as a parish priest but for me there seems to be a quite different set of rules rather than those laid down by the diocese in black and white, which I quote to no avail. Do I want a long battle? Would I get support from my bishop? Would it make life easier simply not to bother?

Well anyway, Fr Michael Clifton has my prayers. In the meantime, I await the protocols that will be put into force to prevent clerical bullying abuse. I know that canon law is meant to do that but that is the long battle that many can't face. Interesting that the Holy father in his letter to Seminarians says:

"you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications."

I find that whenever I mention any rule of the Church, Canon Law, liturgical directions ,etc, I am accused of being a legalist, of not being "pastoral". And thus the bullying continues!

Regarding Loftus, perhaps we can be safe in using the Monsignor's own words - presumably he won't threaten to sue as they are words he has used in describing others:
His scratchings are "execrable and appalling" and certainly "tawdry" (words he used in relation to Fr Michael Seed); and his behaviour to Fr Clifton was "crass and insensitive" (his words in relation to Archbishop Carrasco de Paula).

Mgr Loftus seems to be the re-incarnation of Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, from Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles: "He is an elderly man, red-faced, white-haired, and choleric. His passion is for the British law, and he has spent a large fortune in litigation. He fights for the mere pleasure of fighting and is ... said to have about seven lawsuits upon his hands at present, which will probably swallow up the remainder of his fortune and so draw his sting and leave him harmless for the future. ... there are rumours that he intends to prosecute Dr. Mortimer for opening a grave without the consent of the next of kin because he dug up the neolithic skull in the barrow on Long Down. He helps to keep our lives from being monotonous and gives a little comic relief where it is badly needed. "

Miles Malleson as Frankland in Hammer's 1959 film

Mgr Loftus doesn't seem to realise that the great liberal experiment is ending. It seems appropriate to note that he was made a monsignor in 1968, just after the so-called Summer of Love. He seems to still be living in the Age of Aquarius. It is sad to see someone so wedded to a past age! However, the Age of Aquarius is over, the hippies are all teetering around with bad backs, while Pope Benedict joyfully proclaims: “the Church is alive, and, yes, the Church is young.”

Thursday 14 October 2010

Not in Communion with the Pope............ Not a Catholic?

The Holy Father outside Westminster Cathedral
receiving the applause of young people and
proving that you can wear lace and still be popular!

An article by Sandro Magister at Chiesa News Online highlights two diocese where, following the lead of the Holy Father, the most up-to-date thinking about the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is being put into practice: in Sri Lanka and Kasakhstan by bishops Ranjith and Schneider. Among other things Sandro Magister reports that some priests didn't receive Holy Communion from Pope Benedict because they disagreed with receiving on the tongue and kneeling (Yes, there really are such priests, sadly):

"In Palermo, where the pope went last October 3, some of the local priests refused to get in line to receive communion from him, simply to avoid taking part in an action with which they do not agree."

I'm sure you can disagree with a view taken by the Pope on some undecided matter and it may be that you can disagree with him on less important points of Church teaching. There is, after all, a hierarchy of truths in the Church - not adhering to the correct use of the chalice veil (never abolished, by the way) is less important than not murdering your granny. However, deliberately refusing to receive communion from the Holy Father would suggest that, literally, you are not in communion with him. I always understood that being in communion with the successor of St Peter was what put you in communion with everyone else who is also in communion with him - i.e. The Church. So, are these priests by a public act stating that they are not in communion with the Holy Father and does that act mean that they are outside that communion - that is to say, have placed themselves outside the communion of the Church - ex-communicate? Whatever their reasons, the act of refusing communion from the Holy Father is surely important.

Sandro Magister also mentions one of the lame reasons sometimes rolled out to defend changing the practice that obviously shows revererence for the Presence of the Lord - Kneeling.

"The main argument brought out against kneeling for communion is that the model and origin of the Mass is the Last Supper, where the apostles were seated and ate and drank with their hands."

When, Oh when, are we going to give up this bunkum. The Mass is also the sacrifice of the cross but it's never been suggested that we have to nail a priest to the wood at every Mass. This is the Church not an historical re-enactment society. The essential acts of the Mass were indeed given to us by the Lord and carried out by him - the Last Supper and the Crucifixion (to say nothing of the Resurrection and Ascension) but he also promised to be with His Church as it developed and grew in understanding. The Church has never stood still. Change is precisely what it has always done and now the so-called moderns want to stop change and travel back in time to some mythical moment in the fourth century when everything was perfect. I am all for change but not for going back to the past, especially some arbitrarily chosen time period. If you want to do that, join a re-enactment society and live out the civil war or get yourself on stage and do a good Agatha Christie.

Do read the whole article here:

It might be worth reading these words of Pope Benedict:

"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."

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Ordination Anniversary

I have been ordained to the Priesthood for nineteen years today!
The photo above shows the very moment the deed was done with Archbishop Derek Worlock being most dramatic.
The Church is English Martyrs in Litherland, Liverpool, where I had spent my Diaconate placement with Fr Michael Culhane - a kind and prayerful priest, who died only earlier this year, may he rest in peace.

The times have certainly changed for the better in many ways within the Church in this country. At my ordination I had great worries that the Archbishop would make me change beforehand as there was an inch of lace set into my alb! Certainly, no Latin in the liturgy. At the time there was barely a magazine you might want to subscribe to - now there are a whole host of orthodox publications and of course, the news and information via the internet.

However, although the Holy Father has been encouraging a hermeneutic of continuity and the idea that everything before Vatican II was awful and everything since wonderful is becoming ever more passé, the situation on the ground is still very difficult for priests who consider themselves orthodox. (I try not to use the epithet "traditional" of myself because that's not really how I perceive myself and it is sometimes used as a term of abuse, implying an old-fashioned outlook, which I completely reject). I was speaking to a priest of this diocese only the other day and we were both wondering how it is that those who are considered "old-fashioned" "trad" or orthodox only have to mention the Catechism or the Code of Canon Law or the habitual use of centuries and we are labelled stern rubricists, ready to bring back witch hunts, the churching of women, flogging, regular confession and the Inquisition (all these things being imputed to anyone unfortunate enough to get the Trad tag) with the diocesan authorities ready to back up any complaint made about such priests. While at the same those with the allegedly "modern" label can break Canon Law, liturgical and sacramental norms, hurling General Absolution at passing buses and never a word seems to be said. This is still my own day to day experience and that of many others not nearly so mad trad as I'm thought to be. Still, nobody ever said it would be easy!

I found this photo below of Ushaw (I think in 1990 when I was a Deacon - I'm the only one in a cassock; possibly the last Ushaw student to attend lectures in his cassock, though I'd love to be corrected on that). It is a bit difficult to tell who is ordained and who is not as there is quite a lot of cross-dressing going on! This was at the end of my time there and the numbers were already decreasing but in my first year we numbered FIFTY as a new intake. They told us then there was a vocations shortage!

Saturday 9 October 2010

Ushaw College to close

I heard the sad news yesterday that the seminary at Ushaw, St Cuthbert's College, is to close after 206 years (and with a further 200 years of history at Douai before that).

My cynical side wonders if everything possible has been done to save this exceptional building together with all it stands for. We seem to have a will to close anything that speaks of our Catholic history in this country while being prepared to open or install ourselves in buildings and places that have no Catholic tradition attached to them. Another example of the hermeneutic of dis-continuity? This goes for our churches where it seems that is always the modern hut that stays open while anything that links us with the past is closed. Examples include...

Ss Peter and Paul's in New Brighton where the congregation is now invited to worship in the local Anglican church...

The diocesan offices in Liverpool moved to a 1970s school building while the seminary at Upholland was sold off...

The diocesan offices in Leeds now housed in a former Anglican convent while what had been the youth centre at Middleton Lodge (in Catholic hands for almost a thousand years) has also been sold.

Once these places have gone, we will never have the funds to establish again in these areas and if the Church has no presence in an area then the presence of Christ and the possibility of people discovering him there is also lost.

What about the seminaries abroad? We keep a seminary in Valledolid, Spain (the rumour is that if this closes it cannot be sold but passes back to the Spanish state). Presently, it is used as a first year of seminary education for all English seminarians. We also have two colleges in Rome - the Beda is used for "late" vocations - could this not be transferred to Ushaw? I have often heard it said that we should not be training our priests in a foreign country for ministry here. But if that is okay, could it not be offered to countries where they are desperate for seminary places - not to mention any of the new "Traditional" movements! And, as I was attempting to say at our deanery meeting (sorry, Pastoral Area Meeting, as I must now call it) what if we do get more vocations in the future? Have we completely given up on that idea? Whist we are bidden to meetings, lectures, presentations and DVD veiwings on how to manage our decline I have not eperienced any such energy being put into a drive for new vocations. Yet a small French diocese of Frejus-Toulon, where the bishop welcomes those who wish to celebrate the Extraordinary Form as well as the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the new communities had so many ordinations this year (13 priests and 21 Deacons) that the Cathedral was too small and they had to hold the ceremonies ourdoors:

I worry that it will simply end up being locked up and left to rot like the junior seminary attached to Ushaw. See an earlier blog here:
Apart from the wonderful buildings there are the treasures they contain , including the Library. Not to mention all the history of the Church in this country that the place embodies.
I came across a roll of alumni from 1912 "which includes close on to 5000 names. It embraces over 1000 priests, 30 bishops, 5 archbishops, and 4 cardinals: Wiseman, De la Puente, Bourne, and the Cardinal Secretary of State, (the Servant of God) Rafael Merry del Val, who was not only a student and also a "minor" professor at Ushaw. (The cause for his Beatification is well under way.) Prominent names in almost every profession and almost every country can be found there. Law is represented in England by Mr. Justice Shee, the first Catholic post-Reformation judge; by Judge O'Connor, former deputy chairman of committees in the House of Commons; in India by Mr. Justice John Power Wallis, Judge of the High Court of Madras; in Canadaby the Hon. James Foy, Attorney-general of Ontario; in the United States by Joseph Scott of Los Angeles, a prominent official of the Knights of St Columbas. Statesmanship is represented by the present Under-Secretary for the Home Office, William Patrick Byrne, C. B.; the services by General Montague Gerard, K. C. B., Major Miles O'Rielly; commander of the Irish Brigade at Castelfidardo, and Commodore Edward f. Charlton, Commodore of the Eastern Destroyer Flotilla; art by Charles Napier Hemy, the Royal Academician; architecture by George and Edward Goldie and the youngest Pugin; literature by such names as Lingard the historian, Francis Thompson the poet, Wilfred Ward the editor of the "Dublin Review", and Joseph Gillow, the compiler of the well-known "Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics"."

Some views of the seminary as it was can be seen here:

Tuesday 5 October 2010

New Bishop of Shrewsbury

The Diocese of Shrewsbury has a new Bishop - Mark Davies, formerly Vicar General in Salford. Last Sunday he issued his first Pastoral Letter - what a breath of fresh air! He asks for, prays for and hopes for - FAITHFULNESS. He thinks we must look beyond plans and initiatives (the usual refuge of those who don't really know what to do in most of our dioceses) to prayer for an increase of faith and faithfulness (a real answer to our problems) - fidelity to Christ and the teachings of His Church. "Faithfulness" "faith" and "fidelity" are mentioned nineteen times! He begins his ministry by inaugurating a Marian Year in his diocese - trusting her to show the way.


You can read the text here on the diocesan website but I reproduce it in full below with my own highlights.




Bishop of Shrewsbury

to be read in all churches and chapels of the Diocese

on the Twenty Seventh Sunday of the Year

3rd October 2010

At Shrewsbury Cathedral on Friday Bishop Noble handed me the pastoral staff of the Diocese. He invited me to take my place as your new Bishop in response to Pope Benedict’s call. I have only been with you for eight months but I am very much aware of the deep respect and gratitude which is felt for Bishop Brian and the example of faithfulness he leaves for the whole Diocese. I wish my first words to express that gratitude and to give thanks to God for our Bishop Brian Noble. Just a few weeks ago I stood with Bishop Brian at the tomb of the first Bishop of Shrewsbury, it was a moment which put both of us in our places as the tenth and now eleventh bishops of this Diocese. I was conscious, as St. Paul wrote to the young bishop Timothy, that we had, “been trusted to look after something very precious.” (II Tim. 1:14). Bishop Brown, our first bishop, wrote of the, “desolate,” scene he saw at the beginning of our Diocese. There were just thirty three priests serving a vast area across Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales. Some congregations still gathered in the public rooms of taverns and even in lofts above stables. Yet, it is thanks to their faithfulness that we are here today.

During these last eight months I have been privileged to see your own faithfulness. As I travelled across the Diocese I have seen so many faithful people, so many dedicated priests, so many hard working deacons, so many faithful families, so many communities giving witness in consecrated life. All of you today form Christ’s faithful people in every town and city and rural community of this Diocese. Yet, you have often shared with me your anxiety and concern for the future. In the face of problems which can seem as great as those at the beginning of the Diocese, people ask: How will we continue to pass on our faith to generations to come? So on this, my first Sunday as your Bishop, I wish us to look beyond the many problems and the plans and initiatives we will need to meet them. I want us to begin listening to the Gospel. Let us listen to that prayer first made by the Apostles: Lord, “increase our faith!”(Luke 17:5). For this will surely be the greatest need of our Diocese: to increase in faith and in faithfulness. As the great Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, wrote as a cautionary note to all our strategies and planning, we are not saved by a formula but by a Person and the assurance he gives us, “I am with you!(Novo Millennio Ineunte No. 29).

This same realisation allowed the now Blessed John Henry Newman, who looked at those same unpromising prospects a century and a half ago, to glimpse, in the harsh facts and dispiriting statistics, the promise of something very great: a new spring-time for the Church. An English spring-time, he added, with its sudden storms and set-backs. He saw in the faithfulness of so few, all that God’s grace would make possible. “One thing I know,” he said, “that according to our need, so will be our strength.” It was to that same chapel, where Blessed John Henry Newman had first addressed the English Bishops, that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, asked the Bishops to gather with him at the end of his visit to our country. The Holy Father had come - it seems strange now to recall this - in the face of much bitter opposition. Yet when he came, there were public demonstrations of faith which saw an eruption of joy on the streets of our cities, as people heard his voice at once gentle and clear in teaching. He knelt with us in the silence of prayer, and led us repeatedly back to the Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist. He wanted to turn all eyes towards Christ our one Lord and Saviour. His visit spoke to many hearts and took us far beyond the realms of human calculation. We witnessed a work of grace, a communication of faith and, indeed, our Holy Father’s own faithfulness as the Successor of Peter.

In others words, we caught sight in those days of what must always be our real pastoral plan: to be more faithful to the Gospel and to the Catholic faith we have received. This faithfulness, we were reminded two weeks ago, is not only for ourselves but for the many around us and for all who come after us. As Blessed John Henry Newman had strikingly written, and the Holy Father asked us each to consider anew: “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good. I shall do his work … a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.” So whatever structures, buildings or plans we leave to coming generations, this faithfulness will be the greatest legacy. Just as back in those brave days when the diocese began, such fidelity will hold the promise through the bleakest times of that new spring-time which Blessed John Henry Newman spoke of.

As Bishop Brown first entrusted the beginnings of Shrewsbury Diocese to Our Lady, Help of Christians, so I invite you to keep with me from 8th December a year of prayer with Mary in all our parishes and families. Our Lady will show us through every changing scene and circumstance that same path of faithfulness, as she said, “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38). She will help us now to see all that God’s grace makes possible. To Mary, Ever-faithful, I entrust this Diocese with the prayer that we may leave the example of our own faithfulness to generations yet to come.

+ Mark

Bishop of Shrewsbury

Given at Shrewsbury Cathedral on Friday 1st October 2010,

the Feast of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

Sunday 3 October 2010

The Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem

I spent Friday and Saturday in Oxford for a Vigil and Investiture of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, of which I am the Chaplain General for the Commandery of Great Britain. It traces its roots back to the Orders like that of the Holy Sepulchre and the Knights of Malta except that it is much smaller and has had a more checkered history - being virtually re-founded as an ecumenical Order in more recent times but still under the protection of the Royal House of France in the person of the Comte de Paris, Henri, Duc de France, and the Spiritual Protection of His Eminence Cardinal László Paskai OFM, Primate Emeritus of Hungary. The Order engages in fund raising activities especially for the relief of leprosy (which is what is was originally founded for) and asks its members to undertake that with a spiritual motivation. We had a Vigil Service for new members at the church of St Thomas the Martyr on Friday evening and an Investiture of new members at the Oratory church of St Aloysius, which is where some of the photos below were taken.

Priests of the Order with HRH Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orléans, Duc d’Anjou, representing the Royal House of France.

Prince Charles-Philippe d’Orléans, Duc d’Anjou with some new members.

The green trappings for clergy are an ancient remnant from the times when the general colour for bishops was green (still the official colour for the bishops of Malta, I believe).

One of our new members entertains on the pipes!