Friday 30 December 2011

Feast of the Holy Family

I thought that this piece on the family written for "L'Osservatore Romano" by my friend Edmund Adamus might be relevant on this Feast of the Holy Family.
Just click on the image to enlarge and read it.

Thursday 29 December 2011

I'm honoured that some of my posts can now be read at the web-site of the St Austin Review - StAR - on their constellation of bloggers page "the Ink Desk".

"The St. Austin Review (StAR) is the premier international journal of Catholic culture, literature, and ideas. In its pages, printed every two months, some of the brightest and most vigorous minds around meet to explore the people, ideas, movements, and events that shape and misshape our world.

Contributors to StAR are poets, philosophers, artists, theologians, historians, and journalists, together giving StAR the breadth and depth necessary for its “unique and worthwhile project” (Karl Keating). Its editors are Joseph Pearce (Literary Converts, Wisdom and Innocence) and Robert Asch."

This came about by chance through being in touch with Joseph Pearce again over Christmas. Joseph is is the author of numerous acclaimed biographies of major Catholic literary figures. He is also Writer in Residence and Professor of Literature at Ave Maria University in Florida, Editor-in-Chief of Ave Maria University Communications and Sapientia Press, as well as Co-Editor of the The Saint Austin Review (or StAR). That's from the official blurb but he also has a fascinating history in the story of his conversion from being an active member of the National Front to becoming a Catholic through the inspiration of G.K. Chesterton. He's also just the sort of committed Catholic the Church could do with more of and, perhaps even more importantly, a great guy to go for a pint with!

Joseph Pearce - you can read a previous post about him here.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Be courageous in working for a return to the true liturgy of the Church

The New Liturgical Movement reports on the 20th general assembly of the FIUV ( Internationalis Una Voce) held this past November 5-6 in Rome, and on December 19th the same issued their written report coming out of that general assembly.It draws particular attention to the contents of a letter which was written by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith - former secretary of the CDW - to the participants of that assembly.

This letter is very supportive of the traditional form of the Roman Rite, calling it "the most fulfilling way in which the mystical and transcendent call to encounter God is experienced" and calls for a return to it "more and more" as a way to what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council actually wanted (presumably as opposed to what we have ended up with). However, the Cardinal also calls for us to be courageous in working for a true reform of the reform in continuity with the traditional forms of the Church's liturgy.

He is certainly correct in saying that one would need to be courageous. From my own experience and from speaking with priests who try to celebrate the Ordinary Form in continuity with the tradition of the Church and in ways that highlight a connection with what we are at the moment calling the Extraordinary Form, it is precisely this that seems to raise so many liberal hackles. In other words, including what the Ordinary Form and in particular the new translation takes for granted is often received as and caricatured as obsolete and old-fashioned. I'm speaking of such things as:

- celebrating ad orientem,
- using the Entrance, Offertory and Communion chants (especially in Latin) instead of hymns
taking up legitimate options (for example, to do with the exchange of the sign of peace),
- the use of any Latin at all
- and a general effort not to become over casual or chatty during the Mass

All these, even with preceding catechesis, can lead a priest to experience great trouble and generate letters to bishops in which these complaints often receive episcopal support. This leaves the priest in a very vulnerable and often depressing position.

All this IN CARRYING OUT ALREADY LEGITIMATE OPTIONS let alone trying to find other legitimate ways of celebrating the Mass in conformity with our historical Catholic culture. When individual instances cannot be directly criticised - for example, if you celebrate ad orientem; this can't be forbidden because it is always a legitimate option but the whole manner in which such a Mass might be celebrated is what causes the offence. Such a manner points to:

- a God-centered instead of a community centered liturgy,
- an acceptance of the divine and supernatural interjecting into human life in the Mass (which
liberal thought presumes is so off-putting to the "world out there"),
- the implication that ALL the Church's teachings on Faith and morals might be held up and
- taught without embarrassment.

It is this, perhaps, that a liturgy connected with our Tradition induces so much fear and anger in the liberal intelligentsia in our parishes and diocese, where they have been courting the liberal intelligentsia in the secular world for so long that agreement with this bankrupt secular culture has become the touchstone of judging what is and is not acceptable within the Church. The parts of the Catholic world, certainly in the West, that are flourishing are those which, like Pope Benedict, are attempting to engage with a full-blooded Catholicism rooted in the strengths of our history and culture, not re-inventing it anew. This includes the new movements and Orders (who are the only ones getting vocations) and the theological, cultural and liturgical debate that spills out on the Internet, which is engaged on the same mission. However, these currents have yet to reach many parts of our moribund dioceses and Orders where those clinging on the failed hopes of the 1970's still hold sway with an aging yet still firm hand.

Archbishop Ranjith is not a man to mince his words and he is a man who has experienced rejection and isolation in his past life at the hands of others in the Church but he is right when he says courage is called for if you want to work towards re-connecting the modern liturgy with its historical and cultural roots down the ages. A liturgy that he sees as the true one.

Here is his letter.

I wish to express first of all, my gratitude to all of you for the zeal and enthusiasm with which you promote the cause of the restoration of the true liturgical traditions of the Church. As you know, it is worship that enhances faith and its heroic realization in life. It is the means with which human beings are lifted up to the level of the transcendent and eternal: the place of a profound encounter between God and man.

Liturgy for this reason can never be what man creates. For if we worship the way we want and fix the rules ourselves, then we run the risk of recreating Aaron's golden calf. We ought to constantly insist on worship as participation in what God Himself does, else we run the risk of engaging in idolatry. Liturgical symbolism helps us to rise above what is human to what is divine. In this, it is my firm conviction that the Vetus Ordo represents to a great extent and in the most fulfilling way that mystical and transcendent call to an encounter with God in the liturgy. Hence the time has come for us to not only renew through radical changes the content of the new Liturgy, but also to encourage more and more a return of the Vetus Ordo, as a way for a true renewal of the Church, which was what the Fathers of the Church seated in the Second Vatican Council so desired.

The careful reading of the Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilum shows that the rash changes introduced to the Liturgy later on, were never in the minds of the Fathers of the Council.

Hence the time has come for us to be courageous in working for a true reform of the reform and also a return to the true liturgy of the Church, which had developed over its bi-millenial history in a continuous flow. I wish and pray that, that would happen.

May God bless your efforts with success.

+Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith
Archbishop of Colombo24/8/2011

Monday 26 December 2011


The altar ready for Midnight Mass

- enhanced by painted candles, given as a gift for Christmas.

I'm just about recovered from having only four hours sleep after Midnight Mass but must say a special thanks for the music over Christmas, which created a very prayerful atmosphere in the church. I was especially pleased that we had our highest turnout for Midnight Mass since my arrival three years ago when we re-introduced this traditional practice and did away with he early evening Mass on Christmas eve. This early Mass had a tradition of being very well attended but I couldn't help thinking that there was a strong element of "getting Mass out of the way" to leave Christmas free for seeing family, eating, visiting etc. In fact, somebody did actually say that to me. Coming to Mass together as family on Christmas day itself (whether at midnight or during the day) seems to me a much better way of spending time together. I'm at one with my Archbishop, Patrick Kelly, here who each year gives very strong encouragement to NOT have an early Mass but to encourage families - with children - to experience the wonder of Midnight Mass.

Rather smart candles for Christmas!

Friday 23 December 2011

Deacon Nick over at Protect the Pope draws atention to a lecture given at Stubenville University by Peter Kreeft,
‘How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Culture in Crisis’
which outlines his thoughts on how the Devil plans to win the culture war by making Catholics, particularly bishops and theologians, phoneys. He speaks of the situation of the Church in the USA but I think most of it applies to the werstern world in general.

Kreeft delivered his talk in the person of Screwtape,C.S. Lewis’ advisorial senior demon,who instructs Wormwood on how they (i.e.,the powers of hell) can win the culture war through particular and deadly temptations:

  • Politicization –the tendency Americans have to confuse politics for religion. He drew awareness to the trend of defining oneself by politics instead of religion,saying,‘We have persuaded many of them to judge their faith by the standard of ‘political correctness’ rather than vice versa.’
  • Happy Talk –the principle of happy talk raised the ante on the average ignorance-is-bliss mentality. He pointed out that Catholics must first return to being Catholic,and correct their own practices before projecting to non-Catholics. “Catholics abort, contracept, sodomize, fornicate, divorce, and sexually abuse,” he said,“at almost exactly the same rate as non-Catholics. Amid this devastation, keep them happy talking. Keep them saying ‘Peace,Peace,’ when there is no peace.”He wants Catholics to take responsibility for their behavior, make a conscious effort to change it,and to acknowledge that blame can’t be placed entirely on the secular world.
  • Organizationalism - Catholics suffer from organizationalism, causing them to regard everything—including the Church—as business ventures. This is especially bad,he noted,because people have lost sight of the role of the Church,and instead focused on the goals of business. “They must worship success,not sanctity,” he said,“and fear failure,not sin.”
  • Neo-worship - or worship of things new at the expense of the old, in particular the rejection of things “pre-Vatican II”.
  • Egalitarianism –Describing society’s misguided translation of egalitarianism, Kreeft pointed out that “sexism” has persuaded men and women to perceive each other as equal,when they should instead be considered beautifully inferior to each other. He believes in the importance of regarding men and women as separate and unequal,and in acknowledging the positive impact of the differences that define each. According to Kreeft, society’s deterioration of egalitarianism fosters “the difference between the beauty of black and the beauty of white reduced to a boring grey.”
  • Yuppydom - which is essentially selling out to the fads of the times rather than holding God as God. Yuppydom is a generation that prides itself on not being prideful, saying, “Let them feel superior about not feeling superior, judgmental about not being judgmental.”
  • Spirituality - in which Christians seek salvation, or at least affirmation,while recoiling at the thought of suffering—they want Christ without the cross.

Ending his lecture with a short phrase that holds the potential to defeat the culture war, Kreeft said, “Simply put, be real. Don’t be a PHONEY. Be a saint.”

Christmas Masses

Just for information for anyone locally coming to Mass at St Catherine's.

Midnight Mass - Ordinary Form - Sung - Latin

Christmas Day

8.30am - Ordinary Form - English

10am - Missa Cantata - Extraordinary Form

A Happy and Holy Christmas to one and all!

Monday 19 December 2011

Silent Mass, Holy Mass

Suffering from a heavy cold all week it developed, just in time for the weekend, into a virtually complete loss of my voice. Not so difficult for the Traditional Form of the Mass, as much of this is sotto voce anyway, but what to do for the two Masses in the Ordinary Form?

No singing from me, obviously, but with the aid of whispering hoarsely down a turned up microphone for the collects and Communion, I asked indulgence to have a sotto voce Canon as well. No one seemed to mind and I left the microphone on so that it could be heard that I was saying something (the rubrics are clear that in the Ordinary Form the Canon should be heard - although I have posted on an eminent Cardinal who seems, on occasion, to experiment with this). It led to an unusual and hopefully thought provoking experience for the congregation, especially as I was unable to preach. Instead I printed out copies of the Pastoral Letter from Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen on the importance of cultivating silence - in our lives and especially in church - which we read in silence together at the point the Homily would have been preached ( a fortuitous example of form and function in perfect harmony).

I'm in full agreement with Bishop Gilbert about the powerful experience of large numbers of people being able to pray together in silence - often experienced in the Traditional Form of Mass but rarely in the New. The difficulty with the silences indicated in the Ordinary Form is that the congregation and the priest are encouraged to stop and "do nothing" (well, pray, of course) and then the action of the Mass continues. My experience in trying to do this, for example after the "Let us pray" or in the Bidding Prayers, is that it feels very artificial and each moment seems like an age. The silence in the Traditional Form of Mass happens while action is taking place - it doesn't feel like stopping and "doing nothing" before the business of the Mass resumes. Perhaps I might describe it as more "user friendly". People can associate themselves with the action that is taking place at any particular time and during the Canon (even if there is chant / singing going on) there is an extended time for that personal yet communal prayer. Instead of focusing on the priest, there is space for each person brings their own concerns and joys before the altar, all doing this together with the priest's action at he altar - "my sacrifice and yours" is offered to God the Father.

As to the people taking up Bishop Hugh Gilbert's injunction to keep quiet before and after Mass (and for some people this needs to be extended to encouragement to not talking during Mass as well), I had the same experience as Fr Michael Brown, reported over at Forest Murmurs, it hasn't been taken on board just yet!

Anyway, here is the Bishop's excellent letter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We live in a noisy world. Our towns and cities are full of noise. There is noise in the skies and on the roads. There is noise in our homes, and even in our churches. And most of all there is noise in our minds and hearts.

The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote: ‘The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: “Create silence! Bring people to silence!” The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were trumpeted forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore, create silence!’

‘Create silence!’ There’s a challenge here. Surely speaking is a good and healthy thing? Yes indeed. Surely there are bad kinds of silence? Yes again. But still Kierkegaard is on to something.

There is a simple truth at stake. There can be no real relationship with God, there can be no real meeting with God, without silence. Silence prepares for that meeting and silence follows it. An early Christian wrote, ‘To someone who has experienced Christ himself, silence is more precious than anything else.’ For us God has the first word, and our silence opens our hearts to hear him. Only then will our own words really be words, echoes of God’s, and not just more litter on the rubbish dump of noise.

‘How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.’ So the carol goes. For all the noise, rush and rowdiness of contemporary Christmasses, we all know there is a link between Advent and silence, Christmas and silence. Our cribs are silent places. Who can imagine Mary as a noisy person? In the Gospels, St Joseph never says a word; he simply obeys the words brought him by angels. And when John the Baptist later comes out with words of fire, it is after years of silence in the desert. Add to this the silence of our long northern nights, and the silence that follows the snow. Isn’t all this asking us to still ourselves?

A passage from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom describes the night of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt as a night full of silence. It is used by the liturgy of the night of Jesus’ birth:

‘When a deep silence covered all things and night was in the middle of its course, your all-powerful Word, O Lord, leapt from heaven’s royal throne’ (Wis 18:14-15).

‘Holy night, silent night!’ So we sing. The outward silence of Christmas night invites us to make silence within us. Then the Word can leap into us as well, as a wise man wrote: ‘If deep silence has a hold on what is inside us, then into us too the all-powerful Word will slip quietly from the Father’s throne.’

This is the Word who proceeds from the silence of the Father. He became an infant, and ‘infant’ means literally ‘one who doesn’t speak.’ The child Jesus would have cried – for air and drink and food – but he didn’t speak. ‘Let him who has ears to hear, hear what this loving and mysterious silence of the eternal Word says to us.’ We need to listen to this quietness of Jesus, and allow it to make its home in our minds and hearts.

‘Create silence!’ How much we need this! The world needs places, oases, sanctuaries, of silence.

And here comes a difficult question: what has happened to silence in our churches? Many people ask this. When the late Canon Duncan Stone, as a young priest in the 1940s, visited a parish in the Highlands, he was struck to often find thirty or forty people kneeling there in silent prayer. Now often there is talking up to the very beginning of Mass, and it starts again immediately afterwards. But what is a church for, and why do we go there? We go to meet the Lord and the Lord comes to meet us. ‘The Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before him!’ said the prophet Habakkuk. Surely the silent sacramental presence of the Lord in the tabernacle should lead us to silence? We need to focus ourselves and put aside distractions before the Mass begins. We want to prepare to hear the word of the Lord in the readings and homily. Surely we need a quiet mind to connect to the great Eucharistic Prayer? And when we receive Holy Communion, surely we want to listen to what the Lord God has to say, ‘the voice that speaks of peace’? Being together in this way can make us one – the Body of Christ – quite as effectively as words.

A wise elderly priest of the diocese said recently, ‘Two people talking stop forty people praying.’

‘Create silence!’ I don’t want to be misunderstood. We all understand about babies. Nor are we meant to come and go from church as cold isolated individuals, uninterested in one another. We want our parishes to be warm and welcoming places. We want to meet and greet and speak with one another. There are arrangements to be made, items of news to be shared, messages to be passed. A good word is above the best gift, says the Bible. But it is a question of where and when. Better in the porch than at the back of the church. Better after the Mass in a hall or a room. There is a time and place for speaking and a time and place for silence. In the church itself, so far as possible, silence should prevail. It should be the norm before and after Mass, and at other times as well. When there is a real need to say something, let it be done as quietly as can be. At the very least, such silence is a courtesy towards those who want to pray. It signals our reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. It respects the longing of the Holy Spirit to prepare us to celebrate the sacred mysteries. And then the Mass, with its words and music and movement and its own moments of silence, will become more real. It will unite us at a deeper level, and those who visit our churches will sense the Holy One amongst us.

‘Create silence!’ It is an imperative. May the Word coming forth from silence find our silence waiting for him like a crib! ‘The devil’, said St Ambrose, ‘loves noise; Christ looks for silence.’

Yours sincerely in Him,
+ Hugh, O. S. B.
Bishop of Aberdeen

7 December 2011

Sunday 18 December 2011

Carol Concert

Thank you to the Elizabethan Singers under the conducting skills of Mr Anthony Dickinson. We had a lovely evening, a full church, excellent music and readings and a hearty celebration fired by mulled wine afterwards!

We also raised close to £450 for those suffering from leprosy in Sri Lanka - the charity adopted by the Order of St Lazarus, under whose auspices the event was arranged.

I was particularly pleased to welcome Fr Oeconomos Christodoulos Fyles of the Greek Orthodox Church in Leyland.

Jollity afterwards
with HE Matthew Jackson, Grand Secretary to the Order
and Confrere Anthony Dickinson, conductor of the Elizabethan Singers.

Father amidst the fray!

Confrere Anthony Dickinson reading one of the Lessons

Friday 16 December 2011

Carol Concert

I am preparing for a Carol Concert in church tomorrow - Saturday 17th December at 7.30pm.

Yes, I know - carols shouldn't be heard BEFORE Christmas but at least we have reached the 17th and the immediate run-up. Part of the idea is that people can invite the lapsed and non-Christians to a format that is more "concert" than "service" as a non-threatening way of at least getting people through the door! I heard a piece on the "Today" programme on Radio 4 this week that carol concerts in non-church venues were more popular than ever - apparently, people like to sing carols but are not so keen on the church and religion bit!

There will be mulled wine and mince pies afterwards in the Pope John Paul Room and a collection for the Order of St Lazarus' work contributing to a leper hospice in Sri Lanka under the care of Cardinal Ranjith).

Anyway, all are welcome - so this is in the way of an invitation to anyone who might be able to get here. Our visiting choir - the Elizabethan Singers - raise money for a good cause each Christmas and have very generously given their time and talents to us this year. Thank you to them.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Traditional Vespers in Loughborough

I attended Vespers (in the Traditional Form) and Benediction for Gaudete Sunday at Sacred Heart Church, Loughborough. A small Schola organised by Mr Jeremy Boot led the chant and Fr John Cahill was also in attendance along with Fr Mark Lawler presiding. The chant was very uplifting and not a bad attendance from the parishioners of Sacred Heart. Unfortunately, a suitable rose cope couldn't be rustled up in time but no one was too outraged at this lack of appropriate vesture!

Thursday 8 December 2011

Our "Catholic" Schools are in a terrible state

Our so-called Catholic Schools are, for the most part, in a terrible state. I read Fr Tim Finnegan's report of the outlandish goings-on at Bonus Pastor School in London and the attacks suffered by the Clovis family, whose work and commitment to the Catholic Faith could not be doubted. (See here for a previous post.)

In twenty years of Priesthood, three spent in full-time school chaplaincy work, I have always had involvement in schools. I forebear to make any further comment, as I'm not sure I could hold myself in check.

However, on another topic completely...

I've just been re-reading Pope St Pius X's encyclical "Pascendi" attacking modernism, that synthesis of all heresies that he saw attacking the Church from without and within (which you can read here on the Vatican website). In regard to education one quote will suffice:

43. And here we have already some of the artifices employed by Modernists to exploit their wares. What efforts they make to win new recruits! They seize upon chairs in the seminaries and universities, and gradually make of them chairs of pestilence. From these sacred chairs they scatter, though not always openly, the seeds of their doctrines; they proclaim their teachings without disguise in congresses; they introduce them and make them the vogue in social institutions.

I have also been reading a book that has been sitting on my shelf for a number of years but that I'm only now getting around to reading, Hans Urs von Balthasar's "A Short Primer for Unsettled Laymen" (from 1980 but still available from Ignatius Press.) (Balthasar was highly thought of by Pope John Paul II, who raised him to the rank of Cardinal, although he died two days before the ceremony was due to take place).

Although the tone of this and "Pascendi" are very different and speak to their times, it struck me how very similar the themes are and how both authors identify similar attacks upon the Church, going through philosophy, dogma, faith and science, Scripture and identifying what is going wrong in these areas; how they are being mis-interpreted as tools of the Faith. Both see the necessity of subjecting all things connected with our belief to the teaching office of the Church and to judging the what can certainly be the fruitful discernments of various disciplines by the traditional understanding of the Faith - as mediated to us by the authentic teaching Office of the Church - Peter.

Balthasar says:
One thing will never be possible: namely that some human science should lift itself above the fullness of God and sit in judgement upon it from above.
Aggiornamento does not mean assimilating oneself to the atheist Enlightenment, instead it means being abreast of the times in order to give that Enlightenment an authentic response.
Balthasar with Pope John Paul II

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The Lady altar at the church of Ss Peter and Paul today for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception today. Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has certainly been working hard to get the church up and running. Do click on the photo for a closer look. See here for a previous post.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Mr Derrick Taylor, R.I.P.

I am celebrating a funeral in the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite tomorrow at 12 noon for Mr Derrick Taylor, who attended Mass with his wife here and died suddenly after a heart attack. He leaves behind nine children and uncountable grandchildren and great grand-children. The Taylors are a family who have long had a great love of the Traditional Form of the Mass since the 1970's when the changes came in. A great Catholic and a kindly man. The Taylors are well known in this part of the world, so, of course, anyone who knew Derrick is most welcome.

May he rest in peace. Amen.

Although I have offered Requiem Mass on All Souls Day for a number of years now, this will be my first actual funeral. We will be blest to have chant, so it will be Missa Cantata (without the need to try and tease out a decent sound from our little electric organ - although some organists do indeed manage to get a very decent sound out of it.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

St Birinus Day

The photo above was taken after High Mass in the Church of St Birinus, Dorchester-on-Thames, for the parish Feast Day yesterday. Fr John Osman kindly invited me to act as sub-deacon, whilst Fr Guy Nichols of the Birmingham Oratory was deacon. The church a little gem, greatly enhanced under Fr Osman's loving restoration over the years and the setting is pretty much idyllic, with grounds sloping down to the river Thames. The music for the Mass was exceptionally good, under the direction of Mr Andrew Knowles.

The church and presbytery have remained largely unaltered since its founding in 1849. St Birinus was one of the first "new" Catholic churches raised since the 1850 Act restored the hierarchy.

St Birinus Dorchester - St Birinus3

In 634, St. Birinus, a Benedictine monk in Rome, was sent by Pope Honorius I to Wessex to spread the Catholic Faith. In 635 he reached the Thames Valley and achieved his greatest missionary success, the conversion of Cynegils, King of the West Saxons. The King's conversion was a boost to the spread of Christianity throughout the South of England. According to tradition, St. Birinus and Cynegils met on Churn Knob near Blewbury, and Birinus was given “the city of Doric” (Dorchester) as his Cathedral. Following his death in 650 St. Birinus was buried at Dorchester. In about 680 his remains were moved to Winchester by St. Headda, Bishop of Winchester. Finally on 4th. September, 972 Bishop Etholwold enshrined them in gold and silver. From Dorchester were founded the sees of Winchester and Lincoln.

Before singing the Alma Redemptoris in honour of Our Lady of Dorchester, we sang out with gusto a hymn to The Church Triumphant:

Who is She that stands triumphant

Rock in strength upon the Rock,

Like some city crown'd with turrets

Braving storm and earthquake shock?

Who is she her arms extending;

Blessing thus a world restored;

All the anthems of creation

Lifting to creation's Lord?

Hers the Kingdom, hers the Sceptre!

Fall ye nations at her feet!

Hers that Truth whose fruit is freedom;

Light her yoke; her burden sweet.

As the moon its splendour borrows

From a sun unseen all night

So from Christ, the Sun of Justice,

Draws His Church her vestal light,

Touch'd by His her hands have healing,

Bread of Life, absolving Key:

Christ Incarnate is her Bridegroom;

The Spirit hers; His Temple she.

Empires rise and sink like billows;

Vanish and are seen no more;

Glorious as the star of morning

She o'erlooks their wild uproar.

Hers the household all-embracing,

Hers the vine that shadows earth;

Blest thy children, mighty Mother!

Safe the stranger at thy hearth!

Like her Bridegroom, heavenly, human,

Crown'd and militant in one,

Chaunting Nature's great Assumption

And the abasement of the Son;

Her magnificats, her dirges

Harmonize the jarring years;

Hands that fling to heaven the censer

Wipe away the orphan's tears.

(Acknowledgement to James Bradley for the photo of the statue of St Birinus in the church.)

Thursday 1 December 2011

Small World

With Archbishop Mennini after the Mass, along with David Chadwick, a pupil of the school who was M.C. for the Mass and who is a server here at St Catherine's as well.

I was very kindly invited to Stonyhurst School for Campion Day Mass and lunch yesterday (1st December - Feast Day of St Edmund Campion). The Celebrant was the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini. Mass took place in St Peter's Chapel which is looking beautiful after a £1.3 million restoration. The organ is wonderful and was given full vent, including accompanying the final hymn "For All the Saints" which the school belted out like a rugby song. Great!

I must say, I was very well looked after, especially by Dawn Johnson, the Headmaster's wife, who met me and showed me around. My thanks for the photos she sent.

I've not met the Nuncio before but he is a very genial and gracious man, going out of his way to take an interest. It struck me what a small place our world-wide Church is. It turned out in conversation that an America friend of mine who works as an Advocate on the Roman Rota knows the Archbishop's brother (although he has thirteen siblings!) and that an Italian friend of mine who is in the Diplomatic Service for the Vatican in the Nunciature in the Central African Republic (where he tells me that the poverty is appalling) is also a great friend of his.

I often find that the Church is indeed a small place - as when visiting Rome, I never fail to run into someone I know, usually from next door back home!

The Archbishop with the clergy and servers after Mass

A glimpse of the newly restored St Peter's chapel