Monday 28 May 2012

Good manners cost nothing

 Click on letter to enlarge

Fr Z gives an update on the Diocese of Madison, which I posted about earlier this month, where Bishop Robert Morlino is giving priests in his diocese criticised for being "too traditional" his firm support.  Fr Z writes that Bishop Morlino has now written to each person  - worldwide - to thank them for support he has received.

It struck me that this is another sign that he is a good pastor - as well as someone simply with good manners, responding to those who write to him.  I know for a fact of many people who have written to bishops here in this country who have NOT received ANY reply.  Of course, all those I know of have been writing IN SUPPORT of priests considered too traditional or asking the bishop to act in cases where the priest appears to be ignoring Church rubrics and rules.  To such people who have written and received no answer, please continue to pray for your bishops and continue to write - politely - to them.  The duty of care they have to ALL their flock (even the ones they consider mad, bad or trad) might eventually get through.

As my mother always taught me - good manners cost nothing.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Pentecost Birthday

Congratulations to Angela and Ernie whom I received into full communion with the Church today by receiving their profession of Faith and Confirming them.  They share their birthday into the Church with the Church itself by being received on the Feast of Pentecost.  We were not quite ready at Easter but the Feast of the Holy Spirit seems just as auspicious as the time for such things.  Thanks as well to the little group who have accompanied them on the course of instruction over these last weeks.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

We are in the Lord's Squad

 Pius IX inspecting the Papal Army 1868
- All the baptised are all soldiers for Christ -

The Holy Father gave a lunch for Cardinals on Monday as an expression of appreciation for congratulations received last month for his 85th birthday (April 16) and seventh anniversary of election to the See of Peter (April 19).  It is only brief (in its entirety from Zenit below with my highlights) but two things struck me.

1. His mention of the necessity for friends in the struggle.

2. The military terminology in which that struggle is expressed.

Eminence,Dear Brothers,

At this moment my word can be only a word of gratitude. Gratitude first of all to the Lord for the many years he has given me; years with so many days of joy, splendid times, but also dark nights. However, in retrospect one understands even the nights were necessary and good, a motive for gratitude.

Today the word ecclesia militans is somewhat out of fashion, but in reality we can understand ever better that it is true, that it bears truth in itself. We see how evil wishes to dominate the world and that it is necessary to enter into battle with evil. We see how it does so in so many ways, bloody, with the different forms of violence, but also masked with goodness and precisely this way destroying the moral foundations of society.

Saint Augustine said that the whole of history is a struggle between two loves: love of oneself to contempt of God; love of God to contempt of self, in martyrdom. We are in this struggle and in this struggle it is very important to have friends. And, in my own case, I am surrounded by the friends of the College of Cardinals: they are my friends and I feel at home, I feel safe in this company of great friends, who are with me and all together with the Lord.

Thank you for this friendship. Thank you, Eminence, for all that you have done for this moment today and for all that you do always. Thank you for the communion of joys and sorrows. Let’s go forward, the Lord said: courage, I have overcome the world. We are in the Lord’s squad, hence in the victorious squad. Thanks to you all. May the Lord bless you all. And let’s toast.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Bishop Mark Davies sacks Diocesan Trustees

"The Tablet" reports that Bishop Mark Davies is making redundancies in the Curial Offices of the diocese of Shrewsbury affecting co-ordinators for Justice and Peace, Youth Ministry and Marriage and Family Life.  It often seems to me that many Curial offices are rather overladen with self-perpetuating bureaucracies, so well done Bishop Davies.  Several members of the diocesan trustees have opposed the proposed redundancies and seem to have been sacked by the Bishop!  The Bishop has appointed three new Trustees - all priests of the Diocese.

Here is the text of the report.  You can read it on the "Tablet" site here.

Five trustees of the Diocese of Shrewsbury have been dismissed by their bishop after they opposed planned redundancies in the diocese.
The five were sacked after they voted against a plan to make three members of diocesan staff redundant and voiced concerns about the way the diocese is being governed.
Three new trustees - all priests - supported the redundancy plan and their votes enabled the motion to be passed. Within days of that meeting the five - four laity and one priest - received a letter from the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, telling them they were being "released from their duties". Another trustee resigned as a result of what happened.
John Mulholland, speaking on behalf of the sacked lay trustees, said they were "dismayed" at the planned redundancies affecting co-ordinators for Justice and Peace, Youth Ministry and Marriage and Family Life.

Saturday 19 May 2012

San Tropez Bravade

With Mgr Michael Hayes (centre) Curé of St Tropez with Fr Peter Watts (Curé of Grimaud) and other assistants during a break in the procession.

I was again fortunate to be in San Tropez for the Bravade this year, accompanying the statue through the town for an hour of its six hour procession through the town, ending with Benediction at midnight.  All the Bravadeurs (the remnant of the army and navy of the town) have to be born here to take part.  It's not just a once a year thing, though.  Every month many of them come to the monthly Mass for their patron, St Tropez.  They are not necessarily weekly practising Catholics but at least this popular piety built in to the life of the town keeps their connection to the church alive and active. This is particularly good as the Bravadeurs are all men and its good to see so many men at Mass, in these days when so many men seem alienated by the religion they experience in our catholic parishes.  (I think that the uniforms and guns must help as well!)  Most towns in the area have an annual Bravade (although St Tropez is one of the largest) always with the Church at the forefront and as the context for the celebration, focused on the patron saint of the town.

Some video footage of this years Bravade.

My thanks to the local priests whose hospitality made me so welcome and a part of things.  And to Bishop Mark Jabalé, Benedictine and former bishop of Menevia, who celebrated the main Mass this year and entertained us with some very amusing (but not shareable) stories of clerical blunders over lunch.
 Congratulations also to Mgr Hayes, who just  recently was installed as a Canon of the Cathedral by Bishop Dominique Rey - and yes, canons of Frejus-Toulon do get to wear a "pectoral cross"!
With Bishop Mark Jabalé

The Bravadeurs

 Mgr Hayes receives the salute.

The Procession

And the Saint himself!

Thursday 17 May 2012


The purple of a Vigil Mass laid out ready for High Mass.
As I'm abroad at the moment, I was able, in preparation for today's feast of the Ascension, to offer High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, a Vigil Mass of the Ascension - "vigil" even though it was only 9am in the morning.  It seems to be to be a good tradition to keep vigils of the major feasts as a way of preparing and setting the scene for our thoughts and meditations.  They do exist in the Ordinary Form but seem to take the place of the actual feast, as in an anticipated Mass (often called the "vigil" Mass - as on a Saturday evening standing in for the Sunday). 

This brings me to a particular observation - namely I think that in the minds of many people when they hear the term "Easter Vigil" they somehow still think of it in the context of the usual anticipated Mass (so often called a "Vigil" Mass) that they might be used to in many parishes on a Saturday evening (even when the priest goes out of his way to explain that this is not the quickie Mass for those who can't be bothered to come on an actual Sunday (as opposed to those who really cannot get there for practical reasons).  I don't think that it's just me, as many priests tell me that they find it hard to get people along to the Easter Vigil.

A Vigil Mass in our tradition does have a specific meaning but we have applied it to something new and thereby lost the opportunity to give proper meaning to an actual Vigil - the greatest of all - the Easter Vigil.

I'm fortunate enough to be celebrating High Mass again today for the Ascension - forty days after Our Lord's Resurrection but I will have to do it all over again on Sunday in the Ordinary Form, forty three days after the Resurrection, since the transferal of the holy days in England.

Whenever you are keeping it - a blessed Ascension Day.  Our Lord goes ahead to await us!

Sunday 13 May 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

For the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

O Mary we crown Thee with blossoms today!

Thank you to Alice - who crowned the statue today.

Charity begins at home

The Grand Priory of Great Britain of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus held its annual Chapter Meeting here on Saturday.  Some of the members pictured in the Church after the meeting and before a very good dinner!

I'm pleased that we are adopting a local charity here in Leyland -  St Catherine's Hospice.  I signed the cheque for £600 to buy them two new therapy beds which they have requested and will be handing it over in the near future.

Friday 11 May 2012

Good Health, Holy Father!

 Toasting the health of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict!

The Northern Chapter of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy met here at my little parish yesterday.  Canon Olivier Meney, of the Institute of Christ the Sovereign King, gave an interesting talk on the Shrine of Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton and on the work and history of the Institute in general.  We had an excellent lunch and finished with Holy Hour and Benediction.  I always find something quite moving about people praying together in silence before the Blessed Sacrament and especially so when it is priests praying together.  Thank you Fathers for a very good day.

Thursday 10 May 2012

Pope feels support of our prayers

 The Holy Father at the General Audience

I've been posting in the last few days about those who appear to thoroughly reject great swathes of the Church's teaching and, by extension, the authority of the Holy Father.  I read this morning that during the General Audience last week, speaking to the pilgrims about the Church praying for the release of St Peter from prison, he referred to the support he feels from those who pray for him, especially in rejection, opposition and persecution.  He certainly gets plenty of that, so let's make sure we renew our efforts to support him in the best of all ways - asking God's grace for him in prayer. 

Dear brothers and sisters, the episode of Peter’s release recounted by Luke tells us that the Church, and each one of us, passes through the night of trial, but that the unceasing vigilance of prayer sustains us. I too, from the first moment of my election as Successor of St. Peter, have always felt supported by your prayer, by the prayer of the Church, especially in the moments of greatest difficulty. I offer you my heartfelt thanks. Through constant and confident prayer, the Lord frees us from chains, he guides us through every night of imprisonment that may grip our hearts, he gives us serenity of heart to face life’s difficulties -- even rejection, opposition and persecution. The episode concerning Peter reveals the power of prayer. And the Apostle, even though in chains, remains at peace in the certainty that he is never alone: the community is praying for him; the Lord is close to him; indeed, he knows that “the power of Christ is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Constant prayer of one accord is also a precious instrument for overcoming the trials that can arise along the path of life, for it is being deeply united to God which allows us to be deeply united also to others.  Thank you.

 Prayer of Pope Leo XII for the Holy Father.

O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervour the sacred Victim of love and peace.

Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in unison with him.

Whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power. 


Wednesday 9 May 2012

American Nuns are revolting as well!

Well, my last post was picked up on Gloria TV - right at the start but do watch on; at about half way through there is a report on the apparent criticism from Cardinal Murphy O'Connor about the Holy Father's appointment of Bishop Mark Davies.

The same dissent is reported by Protect the Pope. Apparently, U.S. Women Religious are considering forming a breakaway group from the Holy See by ‘disbanding canonically and re-forming as an unofficial interest group."  I think this is called a schism.  Following on from my last post  about the Irish clergy protesting about the Church's teaching, this is part of the same problem.  Dissident groups are now willing to publicly suggest breaking away and asserting their rejection of the Church's teachingWhat I cannot fathom about these groups and individuals is that there are many other Christian denominations outside the Church who already promote all these teachings - why don't they go and join them if these people believe these teachings are right - despite the fact that most such groups are in even worse shape than the Catholic Church in the Western World.  Ordaining women and liberalising the liturgy has not helped Anglicans and Methodists to fill their churches.

On a wider stage, I wonder if this is why the Holy Father sometimes seems to us not to be acting quickly or decisively enough to bring dissenters into line?  As the Chief Shepherd he must have a great desire to keep all members of the Church within it - even those who protest and attack it from within.  His desire to bring those who already do believe what the Church teaches is evidenced strongly by his efforts with Anglicans and with the Society of St Pius X.  What a dilemma it must be to have to make the decision on when dissent can no longer be tolerated for the good of souls and demanding that dissenters make a decision for or against the Church which they claim to be members of and yet show such a strong desire to re-fashion in their own image and overthrow its structures and teachings. 

Monday 7 May 2012

The Priests are Revolting!

 The liberal revolution, where there is room for every view on earth - except the teaching of the Church.

Today in Dublin the Association of Catholic Priests will meet, with a membership claiming to represent a quarter of priests in Ireland, according to Radio 4's "Today" programme this morning.  They include among  their objectives: allowing the divorced to remarry; the election of bishops; change in liturgical language and practice to be "inclusive and accessible to all"; married clergy and the ordination of women; and a general liberalisation of the Church's teaching on a variety of matters to fall into line with norms and mores of secular society.  You can read their "Objectives" here couched in seemingly innocuous and polite terms but in fact calling for a revolution.  

Some might think that a large group of priests calling for such a revolt has come out of nowhere quite suddenly but I think you would find many similar views long held by many priests in the UK as well. My own experience is that they are not uncommon views among many priests.  Those of us who try to hold to the Church's official teaching have long been branded as "traditional", "conservative" and "reactionary" precisely because the centre "opinion" has long ago shifted to a stance far from what you will find actually written in the Code, the Catechism, the rubrics, or orthodox teaching.

These revolutionary views have been propagated at the seminaries and disseminated in parishes to the laity, quietly and unobtrusively for years without being challenged by the hierarchy - and in fact, often encouraged.  Now in Ireland they are organising and banding together to formally lobby for these now entrenched revolutionary views.  So prevalent that they now feel strong enough to come out fully into the open and make an outright challenge to Orthodoxy.

Friday 4 May 2012

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Meeting. Why not come along?

 Guest speaker, Canon Olivier Meney, acting as Deacon at the Throne (on the left of the picture) for Bishop Mark Davies

I reminder to any clergy who would like to come - members or not - that St Catherine's will be hosting the next meeting of the Northern Chapter of the British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy  this coming Thursday May 10th.  The speaker will be Canon Olivier Meney, of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign High Priest, from the new shrine in New Brighton; recently opened by Bishop Mark Davies . 
It should be very interesting to hear his experience of getting this going and what challenges he faces. 
The plan for the day will be: 

11.00am arrive/coffee etc.
11.30am Canon Meney to speak, questions and discussion
1.00pm lunch
3.00pm Holy Hour
4.00pm end with Benediction.

The address of the church is: St. Catherine Laboure, Stanifield Lane, Farington, Leyland (nr. Preston) PR25 4QG. Tel 01772 421174. The church is very conveniently just off the M6 between junctions 28 and 29 (29 is the junction with the M65). Leyland station is just short of half a mile down the road, and Preston station 3.5 miles.

Lunch will be at Farington Lodge, a short walk next door from the church:
 No, sadly not the presbytery 
but Farington Lodge next door 
where we will be taking lunch.
Any clergy can come along.  Please contact (as soon as you can) Fr. Stephen Brown
Catholic Chaplain
1 Ashgrove
Bradford BD7 1BN
01274 72163

Bishop supports his preists in upholding the traditional faith

Bishop Morlino offering Mass in the Extraordinary Form 

on Good Shepherd Sunday two years ago.

EWTN reports that Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconson, placed priests from the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest in the parish of St Mary's Plattville (as well as a number of other parishes in the diocese).  The Order is a traditional one (offering both forms of the Roman Rite from what I can see on the parish website).  Fr Z has written about them on several occasions.  Since arriving, quite a number of parishioners have been upset by the "traditionalist" activities of the priests.  However, Bishop Morlino has told them:
That the priests are teaching the Catholic faith. Remaining problems,  "personal likes and dislikes" but also "inflated rumours and gossip" and even "calumnious inciting of hatred of your priests, the faith, and myself," he lamented.  "For these likes and dislikes, gossip, and hurt feelings, the Catholic faith is rejected.

Wow!  I've so often heard of priests receiving very little, or only grudging, support from diocesan officials and bishops when parishioners complain about things being "too traditional".  Usually, all that's happening is that the Catholic Faith is being taught when this accusation is levelled. Though to be fair, parishioners have often been led up the garden path by previous clergy who have taught them to believe great inaccuracies (to put it charitably) where the Church's teaching is concerned on all sorts of matters.  

To use one example from my own experience, when I first arrived in this parish, the school told me that communion on the tongue was no longer allowed, so they had been (mis)informed.  Sadly, what this means is that when the Catholic Faith is again taught, it is rejected as somehow "out of date".  People have by then grown to like the informal, relaxed, less demanding version of the Faith that tells them they don't have to pay too much attention to authority, teaching, dogma and rubrics.  But this is a fatally flawed version of the Faith that they have been sold - likes and dislikes to the fore, the life teaching of the Catholic Faith, way down in the background.

Thursday 3 May 2012

Fr Ray Blake has a post containing the video of a presentation by Mgr Andrew Wadsworth Executive Director of ICEL as the second of his guest speakers to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of his church.  I hope Fr Ray won't mind me reproducing it here.  I've heard Mgr. Wadsworth speak before and he is well worth listening to.  The talk is an hour long but you can pause the playback and listen in sections.  Mgr Wadsworth is giving his personal views but he is someone who has been very influential in the work of the new English translation of the Missal.

To give you a flavour, he thinks that some of the things wrong with the way liturgy is celebrated today are:
The manner of distribution and reception of Communion, leading to a casual disregard for this great Sacrament.

The appalling banality of much liturgical music.

A quality of performance where the congregation expect to be entertained.

A proliferation of services led by laity, leading to a lessening of the importance of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

He thinks that the future holds:
A re-introduction of ad orientem celebration.

Kneeling for Communion.

A recovery of the Latin tradition - which remains necessary even in a vernacular celebration because we need an insight into the Latin tradition if we are to understand  the vernacular which historically and presently comes from the Latin.

He notes the irony that currently, the teachings of Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Second Vatican Council's Document on the liturgy) are rather more likely to be evinced in a well prepared presentation of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass than the Ordinary Form.

Couldn't agree with you more, Mgr. (Though not in this parish, of course, where that future is already being widley implemented and encouraged!)

To Land's End

Fr Tim Finnigan has news of some of his parishioners who are cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End - 880 miles!  Among them are some of the Treolar family whom I have met at Walsingham.  They are raising funds for Mary’s Meals, African Mission and the St. Pio’s Friary in Bradford.  Fr Tim has more details here and you can follow their progress at To Land's End Blog and sponsor them by following the link on the charity giving sponsor section there.

God speed to Anne-Marie, Gregory, Adrian and the other riders.

At Walsingham last year with one of the riders but I definitely didn't cycle there!

Wednesday 2 May 2012

No proselytising in our liberal society.

Mr Charles Clark.
Liberal society but no proselytising!

I heard James Naughtie interviewing former Home Secretary Charles Clark on the place of religion in society this morning on Radio 4's "Today" programme.  (You can listen to it here 2.51hrs into the programme.)  It was really about the debate between secularists and believers.  Towards the end of the interview Mr Clark says: 
"We live in a liberal society and should respect each others views...  We shouldn't try to proselytise either from a Christian point of view or from a secularist point of view."

I can't speak for other faiths but proselytising is integral to the Christian Faith.  Our Lord's final command was to go and baptise all nations.   It's interesting how we are to respect all people's views in this wonderful liberal society until we don't agree with them.  Then we make a judgement on them.  To use two completely different examples: that abortion should not be opposed; that the National Front shouldn't win seats at elections (even though they have been voted in!)  There is no philosophical basis to the so-called liberal society on which to make these judgements.  They are arbitrary.  A Christian society might well make judgements on certain views but it would back them up with a coherent measure of judging.

One more point. Was Mr Clark himself proselytising his own view that secularists and believers should not go about proselytising? (Is this what our Holy Father meant by the "tyranny of relativism"?) 

No coherent philosophical basis.  

I believe in proselytising and I believe in the Christian rule of life as a way of judging people's actions and views.

No Pastoral Care without The Sacrifice

"Eucharistic and sacrificial aspects are inseparable from the pastoral aspect, of which they are the nucleus of truth and salvific strength upon which the effectiveness of all activity depends. ... The preaching, works and other activities which the Church carries out with her many initiatives would lose their salvific fruitfulness if the celebration of Christ's sacrifice were lacking. This celebration is entrusted to ordained priests. ... Only through the 'door' of the Paschal sacrifice can men and women of all times and places enter eternal life. It is through this 'holy path' that they can make the exodus which leads them to the 'promised land' of true freedom, to the 'green fields' of endless peace and joy."

The words of our Holy Father last Sunday as he ordained nine deacons to the Priesthood.

They struck me because emphasising the sacrificial aspect of what the priest primarily does - offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - is inevitably bound up with celebrating the Mass in a serious and reverential way.  If it is just a banquet we can kick our heels up and have a good time.  If it is a sacrifice - a life sacrificed - then some gravitas is needed.  Those of us who think that this serious demeanour is needed at Mass and make efforts to keep a certain solemnity in its celebration are sometimes accused of only being interested in the liturgy (sacristy priests) and not in the values of the Gospel (social justice).  But the Holy Father rightly points out that, "Eucharistic and sacrificial aspects are inseparable from the pastoral aspect, of which they are the nucleus of truth and salvific strength upon which the effectiveness of all activity depends."

For Christians, the reason for our social action and pastoral concern has to be connected to the Faith and to the Cross.  Without that we can easily drift into humanism, as we see all around us in the western world, so that the faith is squeezed out of the picture.  The only difficulty with this is that we pull out the foundations from underneath us.  If there's no reason to look after others, the weak or needy, except the milk of human kindness, then it can all too easily become distorted or abandoned when times get tough. Witness "reproductive rights" now firmly entrenched as part of social justice.  As the Holy Father said in Deus Caritas Est (no. 37): It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work."  And I think he must mean prayer and not some sort of performance  jamboree!

As someone sometimes labelled as a "sacristy priest" myself, I have on occasion found that when I'm engaged on so-called 'social justice issues' I'm ignored or not taken seriously.  Somehow, it doesn't sit well when the "sacristy priest" is getting thrown out of the Town Hall Council meeting for challenging from the public gallery because some his parishioners are about to be deported and the help you might expect from "social justice" types simply evaporates. (Yes, that was me - in my cassock, of course - being threatened with ejection from the Town Hall!)  

Incidentally, we couldn't save the family (the father had been murdered in prison and the mother had suffered torture) but the parish did find them somewhere to live and set up a fund to pay for it when they were put off the plane with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing (thank you Mr Blair and your social justice "Catholic" conscience) and then help send the children to school.

My experience has often been that those who celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with a certain seriousness are also those who have a true pastoral heart, precisely because they rely not on themselves, or the approval of the world, but on the image and example of the Good Shepherd.  Witness the good shepherd have in Pope Benedict.