Monday 30 July 2012

Enemies of the Church

Three interesting posts to juxtapose:

I read a post from Rod Dreher concerning the plight of what is possibly the oldest surviving Christian monastery in the world, the Mor Gabriel Monastery , which is about to be closed down in Turkey:
The Mongolians failed to destroy it 700 years ago despite the massacre of 40 friars and 400 Christians. Yet the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, the fifth century Mor Gabriel Monastery in the Tur Abdin plane (the mountain of God’s servants) near the Turkish-Syrian border, is at risk after a ruling by Turkey’s highest appeals court in Ankara.
Founded in 397 by the monks Samuel and Simon, Mor Gabriel in eastern Anatolia has been the heart of the Orthodox Syrian community for centuries. Syriacs hail from a branch of Middle Eastern Christianity and are one of the oldest communities in Turkey.
Today the monastery is inhabited by Mor Timotheus Samuel Aktash, 3 monks, 11 nuns and 35 boys who are learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and the Orthodox Syriac tradition.
Turkey’s highest court agreed with Muslim villagers who accused the monastery of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” by educating young people (including non-Christians). The court just happened to lose documents the monastery provided to back up its 1,600 year old claim to the land. Ergo, the appeals court:
… said the land which has been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported.
The lawsuit also claimed that the sanctuary was built over the ruins of a mosque, forgetting that Mohammed was born 170 years after its foundation.

At the same time, Fr Tim Finegan has a post about Tony Blair once again giving us the benefit of his extraordinary take on the Catholic Faith (which, as Fr Tim points out is once again self-contradictory and contrary to the Teachings of the Church.).  On Islam, the dominant religion in Turkey, Mr Blair days:
I see the Koran very much as an outsider. It stands in the great prophetic tradition of trying to return people to the basic principles of spirituality. Taken for its time, it was an extraordinarily progressive declaration of principle.
Mr Blair is a supporter of bringing Turkey into the European Union:

The EU should allow mainly Muslim Turkey to become a member of the bloc to demonstrate its commitment to the creation of a tolerant and diverse Europe, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday.
"Let us show by our willingness to bring Turkey, a proud Muslim nation, into the EU on the same and equal terms as all others, that Europe is commited not just in word but in deed to a Europe of diverse races, cultures and religions all bound together by comon rules and a sense of human solidarity and mutual respect,"

Meanwhile Deacon Nick over at  Protect the Pope notes that we have begun once again to recognise some worldly and spiritual realities - that enemies of the Church do actually exist:

In his recent interview with ZENIT the newly appointed Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith referred to ‘enemies of the Church’. Archbishop Müller said:
‘We are aware that our vocation is to be friends of God and thus discover to what hope, in reality, we are destined. This makes doubts disappear from the heart. Atheists and enemies of the Church should ask themselves, perhaps, with a spirit of self-criticism if they themselves have means of salvation to offer the men of today.’

Friday 27 July 2012

Failed dissenters on the back foot

Deacon Nick at Protect the Pope has twice now drawn attention to a little band of dissenting priests who are trying quite openly to foment dissent against the Holy Father and the public teachings of the Church. Here and now here. In an attempt to rouse up an Austrian style campaign they have managed to garnish seven names to their rebellion and now a meeting, in an Anglican church, of seventy citing a rejection of the Second Vatican Council by the Holy Father, the Vatican and some new bishops.  The truth is that they are ignoring the fact that the more proper interpretation of the Council in a hermeneutic of continuity with the past instead of a deliberate association with Protestant rejection of essential dogmas of the faith is now in the ascendancy - well, something had to be done for if we carried on the way we were doing, there would eventually be nothing left of the Church.  Pope Benedict is not rejecting Vatican II but mooring it in the safe harbour of Tradition. 

Those who have for so long ignored the actual teaching of the Church and ridden rough-shod over the authority of the Pope and tradition and are still trying to do so in many places, are now on the back foot.  Complaining that they no longer have a blind eye turned towards them by all the bishops when they preach dissent from the pulpit.

These priests, retired or not, have bishops and superiors who should call them to account.

What is also disgraceful is the open support given to these dissenters by "The Tablet" - a supposedly Catholic journal.  If a journal calls itself "Catholic" it seems absurd that it feels able to criticise the proclaimed teaching of the Church.  No doubt this would be claimed as "discussion" and "debate" but the slant is so angled against the Holy Father and anything deemed to be  "traditional" that it is in fact attacking the Church herself.  We can't help being traditional, God chose to effect our salvation through the incarnation and our tradition goes back to those great events.  Our Lord himself founded the Church to protect and hand on that message and thereby gave the People of God a history, a Tradition - but perhaps that's another one of those things dissenters don't believe. 

On a completely unrelated point, Fr Ray Blake also has a post "that a so called "Catholic" weekly, that has a reputation for criticising the Pope and  his works, was doing a muck-raking exercise trying to dig up dirt on Catholic clergy's private lives," apparently focusing on clergy in the Ordinariate. What more evidence do we need to know that dissenters do not really like other Christians joining the full unity of the Church - especially when the invitation comes from the Pope?  If true it's disgraceful, coming from a supposedly Catholic journal.

I do wish dissenters would stop stamping their feet like frustrated children and if they disagree so profoundly with the Church and can't come to an
 acceptance of Her teachings, to go and found one of their own that does suit their agenda.  Even Her Majesty's loyal opposition is meant to be loyal, as well as an oppposition.

Saturday 21 July 2012

Day for Life

Well done to Fr Tim Finegan, who has posted about the rather weak and bland materials produced for next week's "Day for Life", in particular the leaflets sent in bulk to each parish for distribution.  They latch on to the Olympics, of course.  I don't think its necessarily a bad thing to use something in the public consciousness as a hook to get people's attention but only if it leads on to a real presentation of the Faith.  Too often we jump on any popular bandwagon that comes along - it smacks of a desperation to be popular.  I think the worst example was possibly in 2005 when the leaders of the Catholic Church in the UK ran up to Scotland to join in with some very anti Church types in protesting the G8 Summit Meeting, but then they did get to be photographed with Bob Gelolf (wow!)

 As I'm in the process of writing a review of a book which illustrates that Pope Paul VI was very wary of allowing Communion in the hand  as a dangerous novelty undermining proper faith in the Real Presence, I was particularly unhappy with, as Fr Tim says, with "the back cover close-up of Holy Communion in the hand, the photo chosen to illustrate the Eucharistic Dimension of the theme."

Here is the actual message of the day as outlined by Blessed Pope John Paul when he proposed a Day for Life in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae:
Its primary purpose should be to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church and in civil society a recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. Particular attention should be drawn to the seriousness of abortion and euthanasia, without neglecting other aspects of life which from time to time deserve to be given careful consideration, as occasion and circumstances demand. (n.85)

Considering that the "theme" is focused on the body, there is no mention of suffering (except once, obliquely, in the prayer).  Many people sitting in church this Sunday will either have bodies that bring them suffering or be people who care for those who are suffering.  The supposed big argument in support of abortion and euthanasia is that it relieves suffering but this is not tackled at all.  It is precisely in the area of suffering that respect for the human person "from conception to natural death" in Christian terms needs to be explained to people.  A missed opportunity.

Friday 20 July 2012

New Translation in St Peter's

Whilst in Rome I was able to offer Mass early one morning in St Peter's Basilica at the altar of St Thomas at the side of the south transept.  It always feels a little unreal to be able to offer Mass in the great Basilica.  There appears to be a Latin Missal at each altar now, which was not always the case in the past.  

What I also could not help noticing was the large American group that arrived at the neighbouring altar of St Joseph  towards the end of my own Mass because the priest proceeded to speak rather loudly using a microphone.  It is not the lack of sensitivity I'm complaining about but the fact that, while he used the new English translation he changed the wording all the way through the Mass - bellowing out his own made-up version right there in St Peter's!  The most glaring abuse was the deliberate change of 'chalice' to 'cup' but others are too  numerous to mention.  (If I'd taken his name I would have reported him to Cardinal Burke, as I happened to see him later that day at the Apostolic Signatura!)

Obviously, the intention of re-sacralising the Mass through the new translation is never going to work if priests still feel free to invent their own versions which they somehow believe superior to the one promulgated by the Holy See.  It will not matter how much better the new translation is if priests still add in their "Good Morning everybody - Good morning Father" and interrupt the Mass to add in their own dubious rubrics instructing the congregation to "hold hands during the Our Father" and all the other ad libs that congregations have been forced to suffer in recent years.

The other great thing about St Peter's is that all the altars that priests say Mass on around the Basilica are "ad orientem".  It must come as quite a shock to many.

Monday 16 July 2012

Who should lead in the Church?

 Our Lord ordains the Apostles

There is a brief post on the Clifton diocese LMS blog.  It reads:
The Holy Father has appointed Monsignor Philip Egan as Bishop of Portsmouth. We pray for him as he begins this ministry.

Meanwhile Clifton Diocese is also in search of new leadership. However, we turn not to the Sovereign Pontiff, but to advertising. Clifton Diocese seeks a Chief Executive. The Chief Executive will be paid £65,000 per annum.

Perhaps Priests will also be able to apply for this exciting post!

Further details of this amazing opportunity are available on the Diocesan website:

Chief Exec Advert Here!
I'm not sure how much the new bishop of Portsmouth will "earn" as a salary, or indeed what any bishop's remuneration arrangements might be but I'd be willing to guess that they are not receiving £65,000 a year.

I'm not sure what a "Chief Executive" is in this context. 

The advertisement on the Clifton website goes into a great deal of detail (although much of it couched in the sort of language that tells you nothing) but is does say that it "seeks a person who embraces the values of, but need not necessarily be a member of, the Catholic Church".  So it envisaged that a non-Catholic could do the following things for the diocese:
lead the formulation and implementation of a strategy for the long term financial security of the Diocese 

Formulate and implement operational strategy for the diocese

be a line manager for heads of department
I may be accused of being old-fashioned and even prejudiced but I'm not sure that overseeing such decision making and representing the Church to the outside world in this particular role is suitable for a layperson, let alone a non-Catholic.  In my own view it's akin to the situation in a Primary school where the teacher teaching the first communion class is not a Catholic.  The teacher may be an excellent teacher and be able to teach about the Eucharist but if not a Catholic, is it not much more difficult for that teacher convey a love of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?

Here in my own diocese some years ago we advertised for a layperson to run the financial department but it seems that there were no successful or suitable applicants and the role was left in the hands of a priest - who seems to be doing a perfectly good job (in fact several years later, seems to be still well thought of - not easy in a finance job!)

The role is also to assist the diocese in fund raising.  The applicant will immediately need to raise at least £65,000 per year extra before there is any success on that front.

It is obviously important that dioceses are well run but in my own experience, dioceses often try to mimic the big-business model of the world and are forever issuing DVD's, glossy brochures and running workshops but the reality is that they are sometimes embarrassingly bad, most often consigned to the wastepaper basket by most priests and the workshops are run and attended by the same few people.  The many departments and offices have to justify their existence and so point to all the "bumph" they have sent out over the year as proof of all that is going on.  The worst sort of civil service self-justification.

Although the Church needs to be efficient and engage with all the civil law and financial aspects of the society in which it functions, it is not a big business and we should not try to follow that model.  The taking on of secular names, indicates to me a desire to take on secular attitudes and fitting with the prevailing culture instead of challenging it.

I know that Bishop Mark Davies has recently had difficulties in cutting back the diocesan curia but it seems to me that spending the money in essential areas, such as employing good quality lawyers and accountants and the like who work behind the scenes as employees of the diocese is a much better use of funds than a proliferation of seemingly unnecessary departments.  

I'm not a big conspiracy theorist but I do sometimes wonder if there is a desire among some in the Church to appoint lay people to high profile posts for the sake of political correctness and because of an embarrassment at the impossibility of ordaining women.  Thus putting laypeople, and especially women, into high profile leadership roles blurs the leadership lines and makes it seem that lay people do indeed lead in the Church.  We should employ good professionals to assist the Church's mission and enable us to operate in the world, but leadership in the Church belongs to those who are ordained.  The Church teaches that Our Lord ordained just that - and them!

Some quotes to back up my outrageous and antediluvian thinking.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes this clear in speaking about ordination.  The ordained share in the three-fold munera of Christ as priest, prophet and king:

1538.  Ordination "confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a "sacred power" (sacra potestas) which can come only from Christ himself through his Church."

1542  At the ordination of priests, the Church prays:
Lord, holy Father, . . .
when you had appointed high priests to rule your people

1547 The ministerial priesthood is a means by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

1548 In the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth. This is what the Church means by saying that the priest, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, acts in persona Christi Capitis:
It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself.
 1549 Through the ordained ministry, especially that of bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. 

The leadership is not earthly power, of course, but it is a service of headship...

 1551 This priesthood is ministerial. "That office . . . which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service." It is entirely related to Christ and to men. It depends entirely on Christ and on his unique priesthood; it has been instituted for the good of men and the communion of the Church. the sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a "sacred power" which is none other than that of Christ. the exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all. "The Lord said clearly that concern for his flock was proof of love for him."
In Christifideles Laici Pope John Paul says: 
When necessity and expediency in the Church require it, the Pastors, according to established norms from universal law, can entrust to the lay faithful certain offices and roles that are connected to their pastoral ministry but do not require the character of Orders... However, the exercise of such tasks does not make Pastors of the lay faithful: in fact, a person is not a minister simply in performing a task, but through sacramental ordination. Only the Sacrament of Orders gives the ordained minister a particular participation in the office of Christ, the Shepherd and Head, and in his Eternal Priesthood. The task exercised in virtue of supply takes its legitimacy formally and immediately from the official deputation given by the Pastors.
(My emphasis and the reason why care of souls can only be entrusted to pastors, why chaplain is a word that can only be applied to the ordained priest - despite that rule being broken in almost every diocese in the country.)

Thursday 12 July 2012

New Bishop for Portmouth Diocese

Mgr Egan at communion time during the opening Mass of Ss Peter and Paul Church in New Brighton.
(Photo - Philip Chidell)

Congratulations to Mgr Philip Egan, who has been appointed as the new Bishop of Portsmouth.  I last saw him at the opening of the new shrine at New Brighton on the Wirral, which Bishop Mark Davies has given over to the ICKSP and the Traditional Liturgy.  I can only think this is good news for the Church in England and Wales.

From the Pontifical Acts of 11th July:

Appointed Msgr. Philip Anthony Egan of the clergy of the diocese of Shrewsbury, as bishop of Portsmouth (area 6,339, population 2,524,000, Catholics 192,000, priests 189, permanent deacons 43, religious 363), England. The bishop-elect was born in Altrincham in the diocese of Salford in 1955 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. After graduate studies in theology at Boston College in the United States, he served as professor of fundamental theology and academic dean at St. Mary's College, Oscott in Birmingham, England. In 2008 he became pastor of Our Lady and St. Christopher in Stockport and, in 2010, vicar general of the diocese of Shrewsbury. He succeeds Bishop Crispian Hollis, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Portsmouth the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Women who chatter in church

In Rome earlier this week, through the good auspices of a friend, I was fortunate to be able to see behind the scenes at the Vatican Museums.  It was interesting to see the paintings in restoration and understand some of the techniques used to preserve them.  Including lifting whole paintings off the wood on which they had been painted and re-applying the painted surface to canvas. A technique done in water but hugely costly and time-consuming.

The altar piece above - a twelfth century work - caught my attention, along with a little piece of it I can't help sharing  and hope that the comments are not too hostile! 

The piece is divided into horizontal sections depicting Heaven above, earth in the middle and Hell below.  In the lower right hand corner the souls in torment are depicted with their sins written next to them - murderer, thief, etc.  A group of women is pictured with their terrible sin described:

Women who chatter in church!

Of course, I'm shocked by that and think the category should be extended to men as well!

Seeing the Vatican Library corridors without the hordes chattering through them gives a renewed sense of their grandeur  and beauty.

Fr Mark Haydu, International Diretor of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums shows how poor a condition some of the paintings are in.

Thursday 5 July 2012

St John Vianney visits us

At the invitation of Bishop Mark Davies, the heart of St John Vianney is in the Northwest of England this week, in the diocese of Shrewsbury, Salford, and then at Liverpool Cathedral and finally, Oscott Seminary in Birmingham.  We don't seem to have had too much publicity about the events and I can't seem to find any information on the Liverpool Archdiocese website about it. 

I've heard that the liberal mafia are issuing condemnations aplenty, complaining that its gruesome and gory and old-fashioned and might frighten the children, so why is it here in the 21st century?  I won't rehearse all the obvious spiritual, human and emotional reasons that make relics relevant.  However, the relic is here at the express invitation of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, as well as the Archbishop of Liverpool and the Bishop of Salford.  Bishop Mark Davies says in his pastoral letter
The answer is found in the witness of popes across the past century including our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, and his Blessed predecessor John Paul II who have wished to raise up this Saint in the sight of the whole Church.
The point is to find a concrete way to unite us with the fervour and faith of a great and faithful priest.  Again, Bishop Davies reminds us:
We might think of pastoral planning simply in terms of the re-structuring of parishes and Mass times but St John Vianney points us far beyond these practical measures to the real pastoral goals we must never lose sight of: that is, drawing closer to Christ in our lives, and reaching our final goal, Heaven.
The ultimate purpose of the Church, of the Priesthood, of the Sacraments - to reach our final goal of Heaven A timely reminder that we don't hear enough aboutThe purpose of a priest is to help people get to Heaven.  As a priest, even if I'm not doing a great job of getting there myself, I can help others by telling them what the Church teaches (about how to get to Heaven) and administering the Sacraments to give them the grace to do it.  Like the great Curé, the simple truths of the Church are the unfailing and God-given way: love of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Confession and love of the Church through whom they are given to us.

Click on the poster below to enlarge for the dates and times or go to the Shrewsbury Diocese website or the Salford Diocesan website or the Archdiocese of Birmingham website.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

A Bitter Trial - enduring the liturgical changes

 John Carmel Cardinal Heenan

I came across a review on the "New Oxford Review" site of a book republished last year in an expanded edition - "A Bitter Trial" correspondence between John Carmel Cardinal Heenan and Evelyn Waugh on the liturgical changes in the 1960's. Many of you will have come across the book before but the review itself, by Philip Blosser, Professor of Philosophy at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, is well worth reading to get a flavour of the bewilderment that both Waugh and Heenan seemed to have gone though in suffering the changes to the Mass.  It is commented on by Alcuin Reid, Joseph Pearce and Clare Asquith.

Evelyn Waugh
Here are some tasters:

Waugh was only in his late twenties when he was received into the Church. “I was drawn, not by splendid ceremonies but by the spectacle of the priest as a craftsman,” he writes, using a simile suggested by G.K. Chesterton. “He had an important job to do which none but he was qualified for. He and his apprentice stumped up to the altar with their tools and set to work without a glance to those behind them, still less with any intention to make a personal impression on them.”

It is easy to forget that the Church in the decades preceding Vatican II, whatever her problems, experienced what Pearce calls a “burgeoning Catholic revival” and a nearly unprecedented heyday of notable conversions.  Pearce writes, “that the preconciliar Church was so effective in evangelizing modern culture, whereas the number of converts to the faith seemed to diminish in the sixties and seventies in direct proportion to the presence of the much-vaunted aggiorna­mento, the muddle-headed belief that the Church needed to be brought ‘up-to-date.’"

Waugh suffered immensely. In a 1965 letter to Archbishop Heenan, Waugh begged him, “Please pray for my perseverance.” He declared further that “every attendance at Mass leaves me without comfort or edification. I shall never, pray God, apostatize but church-going is now a bitter trial.”

Heenan himself admitted to his fellow bishops in Rome, “If we were to offer [in England] the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel (a demonstration of the Normative Mass) we would soon be left with a congregation of mostly women and children.”

Waugh told Heenan that he also detected a new kind of “anticlericalism” that tended to “minimize the sacramental character of the priesthood and to suggest that the laity are their equals.” Heenan responded, “Of course you are right. That is why they are playing up this People of God and Priesthood of the Laity so much. The Mass is no longer the Holy Sacrifice but the meal at which the priest is the waiter.”

Tuesday 3 July 2012

False Religion and the Olympics

 The Vestal Virgins (?) light the Torch in what the BBC described as "a traditional ceremony set in ancient Olympia"

I watched channel 4's programme "Dispatches - Cashing in on the Games" last night.  It was more media coverage of  how businesses and individuals are cashing in on the Olympic Games to make money.  From the lawyer selling-on tickets to the 100 metres finals race at  £25,000 each to the crummy hotel whose rooms are usually £60 a night bumping them up to over £1,000.  (You would have to be mad!)  Such reports are not unusual and it seems that the estimated profits and visitor numbers don't historically live up to the hype.  The programme also reported on how lottery money has been filtered away from projects all over the country where it might actually be doing some good to pay for the London Olympics.  The Government have promised to put such funding back in place after the Games - which they interpret as sometime in the mid 2020's!  Rather a long time for the good causes to keep going without it.

What actually caught my attention were the  references to the "spirit of the Games".  This is what those hoping to make greedy profits out of the Games were challenged with - their greed wasn't "in the spirit of the Olympics".  Now many reports seem to suggest that because of the huge amounts of money to be made there is vast corruption around many aspects of putting on the Games and even if that isn't true across the board, the fact is that it is viewed as a vast money making venture.  But apparently we are to view it as some sort of moral compass.  

The "spirit of the Games" has brought out thousands (if not millions) onto the streets of Britain to view the Torch as it passes by.  If it was the bones of St Theresa in procession or the heart of St John Vianney, no doubt the media and sadly many within the Church would complain of reviving medieval superstition for the  gawping masses of the uneducated.  But coming out to line the streets to see a tawdry over-sized cigarette lighter being hailed as the beacon of hope is great community building exercise (no matter that the sacred relic is then flogged on Ebay the next day in a revival of the relic trading done in the so-called dark Ages). I'm not sure what the importance or mystical significance of this torch is - it's not even the one that the High Priest of secular culture, David Beckham lit or the one that will be at the opening of the Games but merely one of many thousands made for this purpose (at what cost?).  Yes, I know - it's the Olympic Flame..... but this is a very dubious line of succession, as even in my lackadaisical viewing of its progress on the news, I've heard it reported that it's gone out at least once.  Besides which, it was lit just a few months ago by Greek ladies dressed up as the Vestal Virgins in a ridiculous quasi-religious ceremony lauding the much vaunted "spirit of the Games".

 David Beckham, one of the High Priests of secular culture, lights the Torch

My favourite story is that of  the 1956 Melbourne Games, when local veterinary student Barry Larkin protested against the relay by tricking onlookers. He carried a fake flame, consisting of a pair of underpants set on fire in a plum pudding can, attached to a chair leg. He successfully managed to hand over the fake flame to the Mayor of Sydney, Pat Hillsand, and escape without being noticed.

 More ridiculous liturgy from the lighting of the Torch ceremony.
Your albs appear a little too short, gentlemen.

It is one of the pantheon of Secular religions that now stand in for real religion.  The sad thing is that our politicians and media appeal to these hollow (and often corrupt) icons as something to inspire  high ideals, care for one another, community spirit.  In other words, icons of secular humanism to carry along public opinion and try to persuade people they actually mean something and that the philosophy behind that secular humanism actually means something spiritual and worthwhile.  Unfortunately, many in the Church are all to ready to abandon our own Tradition of popular piety and real religion (now considered old-fashioned and embarrassing) and sign up to these new totems.  

When the Devil wants to get his way, he's usually most successful in taking something that is good and of God and making a hollow image of it - enough for people to be fooled into thinking it's the real thing and then only when its too late and everyone has abandoned the genuine article and the strength and grace that comes with it, can it be revealed as an empty shell.  It is applied to many aspects of our society: the politicians' "Family values" for Christian Marriage; the United Nations' "human rights" for the dignity of being created in the image and likeness of God; the media's "freedom of conscience" for the  Church's properly formed conscience; "Bread & Circuses" for the true worship of almighty God.

I've really got nothing against sportsmen and women competing against one another and representing their country but it's not the answer to all the problems of the world.  

I hope that the Heart of the Curé of Ars will bring the traffic to a halt and cause riots in the streets!

 Veneration of the Sacred Relic

 The unreadable logo - or is it the one from the Eucharistic Congress?

  The Blessing of the waters

 Health of the Sick

 Preaching to the animals

 The Wedding Blessing

Christians abandon their own ceremonies for these much more popular ones

 A lone Jedward brings a note of dignity to the proceedings

The Phoenix rises from the dead amidst the Olympic Flame

Monday 2 July 2012

St Lazarus Triumphs over the Weather

 Our Grand Prior in Great Britain, the Much Honoured Baron of Fetternear, Martin Thacker, declares the Garden Party open.

Under the auspices of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem, members of the Order and parishioners here  organised a Garden Party in the parish grounds yesterday for our local hospice, which the Order has adopted as its "at home" charity for this year.  (Internationally, we are linking up with the Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith to support the work of SUROL, which works for the relief of those suffering from leprosy.)  The hospice here shares its name with us, although dedicated to St Catherine of Sienna rather than St Catherine Labouré.

The weather here has been dreadful for a couple of weeks now and continues so today but the sun came out for the Garden Party yesterday afternoon - in fact, just as our Grand Prior, the Much Honoured Baron of Fetternear, Martin Thacker, declared it open, the sun burst forth.  Perhaps St Lazarus is a good patron to pray to for fine weather!

The good thing is that it ensured an excellent turnout and we raised £1,000 for the Hospice to add to the £600 the Order gave them earlier in the year.  Thank you to members and Companions of the Order and to the many parishioners here who helped out and supported the event. Thank you also to those brave souls who travelled by coach from Yorkshire & Loughborough!

 Mass in Latin was offered beforehand for those who had travelled by Fr Mark Lawler, Chancellor of the Priory of Great Britain