Friday 28 September 2012

New Secretary at Congregation for Divine Worship

A friend who works in Rome tells me that Archbishop Arthur Roche, the newly appointed Secretary at the Congregation of Divine Worship, is to start work this coming Monday.  Oddly, he still remains the Administrator of Leeds Diocese as well - odd in that it would seem a hard ask of anyone to live in Rome and start a new job while simultaneously keeping responsibility for what goes on in an English diocese.  I hear that he is in Tuscany on a language course at the moment brushing up on his Italian.

Archbishop Roche was often perceived while Bishop of Leeds to be resistant to the Mass being celebrated in its 1962 Form and even to Pope Paul VI's Mass being celebrated in Latin.  How this history will go down at the Congregation where the previous Secretary, Archbishop DiNoia, has moved to the Ecclesia Dei Commission is anyone's guess. To give a clue to the prevailing thinking on such matters, a previous Secretary of Divine Worship, Archbishop (now Cardinal Ranjith) has spoken very strongly on those who give a restrictive interpretation to Summorum Pontificum as "in rebellion against the Pope". However, as often happens, a new job can be the opportunity for a new start.  

Anyway, I'm sure that this can't be an easy job so let us keep Archbishop Roche in our prayers that he might be, in the words of the new Bishop of Portsmouth, Philip Egan, "humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous... one fashioned after the Lord's own [heart]."

.A Tuscan scene

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Relic of St Gerard Majella

A friend of mine has just moved to a parish with a lovely side altar to St Gerard Majella and in view of his special role as "the Mother's Saint" the new parish priest would like to encourage devotion to the saint.  Does anyone have a relic of St Gerard that he might use to assist in this.  If you do and could spare it, he would give it a good home.  You can contact him through me.

Why is St. Gerard Majella invoked by thousands as "The Mother's Saint"? It appears strange that a man, and a religious lay brother at that, should be so acclaimed. It might seem that a married woman, who had been blessed with the privilege of motherhood, would be chosen by Divine providence for this office.

However, the fact is that the countless favours and prodigies obtained for mothers and their children through the intercession of St. Gerard seem to suggest the role selected for him. During his life he helped mothers in need; since his death, in 1755, there has been a continuous flow of extraordinary favours granted to mothers who prayed to him; today there are millions who look to him for help in obtaining the blessing of motherhood and in the difficulties attendant on motherhood.

Gerard, the youngest of the five children of Dominic and Benedetta Galella Majella, was born on April 6, 1726, in the small town of Muro, which is a few miles distant from Naples in southern Italy. He was very sickly at birth and was immediately taken to the Cathedral church for Baptism.

Even his childhood was marked by special graces from God. When he was only five, he was accustomed to go to a small chapel near his home to pray. Often he would return home from these visits with a loaf of bread.

When asked about this, he would say that "a most beautiful boy" had given it to him. One day his sister, Elizabeth, followed him to the chapel and watched him while he knelt in prayer before a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus. Then she saw a strange thing happen. The Child Jesus left His Mother's arms and came down to play with the little boy. After some time the Child gave Gerard a loaf of bread and returned to His Mother's arms. This was something of a prelude to the miraculous event in which the Archangel Michael gave him his first Holy Communion.

When Gerard was twelve, the sudden death of his father made it necessary for him to leave school and to begin to work. His mother apprenticed him to a tailor so that he could follow the trade of his father. His employer took a strange dislike to him and often showered him with blows and curses.

Gerard accepted the persecution as being permitted by God for his spiritual good. Once he was seen to smile even while he was being beaten, and when asked about this, he said: "I was smiling because I saw the hand of God striking me." After his apprenticeship as a tailor, Gerard served for some time as a houseboy for the Bishop of Lacedonia, who was recuperating in Muro.

Again he manifested the virtue of patience by silently bearing the irascible temper of this otherwise worthy man. During this time one of his early miracles took place. One day he accidentally dropped the key of the house in the well. With saintly simplicity he lowered a small statue of the Infant Jesus into the well. To the amazement of the onlookers, when Gerard raised the statue the lost key was held in its hand.

Such a youth would naturally turn toward the religious life. Three times, however, he was refused admittance into one religious order because of his frail health. He was still determined to become a lay brother, and the occasion of a mission conducted by the Redemptorist Fathers in Muro gave him new hope. He asked to be admitted as a candidate in their order, but again was refused because they felt that his health would not be equal to the rigours of monastery life.

So persistent was the young man, however, that Father Paul Cafaro, the superior of the missionaries, advised his mother to lock him in his room on the night they were leaving Muro, lest he try to follow them. Gerard's mother did so, but the next morning when she unlocked the door she found an empty bed, an open window from which hung a sheet, and a note on the table that read: "1 have gone to become a Saint."

Gerard had caught up with the missionaries just as they were leaving town. After many entreaties and refusals, Father Cafaro finally gave in and sent him on to the rector of the Redemptorist house at Iliceto with this note of recommendation:  "I am sending you a useless lay brother."

The "useless" lay brother was to do the work of four men, according to the testimony of those who worked with him. In his six short years as a Redemptorist, Gerard advanced rapidly in sanctity. His prayer life was continual and his spirit of obedience was so perfect that several times he even appeared at distant places in response to the unspoken requests of his absent superior. Even his confreres came to honour him as a Saint.

Much of his life as a brother was spent in travelling with and assisting the missionaries. They deemed him an invaluable companion, because he had such remarkable success in bringing sinners to the Sacraments and in inducing many to repair their past bad Confessions. People followed him everywhere, and already called him "il santo" --the Saint.

True sanctity must always be tested by the cross, and it was in 1754 that Gerard had to undergo a great trial, one that may well have merited for him the special power to assist mothers and their children. One of his works of zeal was that of encouraging and assisting girls who wanted to enter the convent. Often he would even secure the necessary dowry for some poor girl who could not otherwise be admitted into a religious order.

Neria Caggiano was one of the girls thus assisted by Gerard. However, she found convent life distasteful and within three weeks had returned home. To explain her action, Neria began to circulate falsehoods about the lives of the nuns, and when the good people of Muro refused to believe such stories about a convent recommended by Gerard, she determined to save her reputation by destroying the good name of her benefactor.

Accordingly, in a letter to St. Alphonsus, the superior of Gerard, she accused the latter of sins of impurity with the young daughter of a family at whose house Gerard often stayed on his missionary journeys.

Gerard was called by St. Alphonsus to answer the accusation. Instead of defending himself, however, he remained silent, following the example of his Divine Master. In the face of his silence, St. Alphonsus could do nothing but impose a severe penance on the young religious.

Gerard was denied the privilege of receiving Holy Communion, and forbidden all contact with outsiders. It was not easy for Gerard to give up his labours in behalf of souls, but this was a small penance compared with being deprived of Holy Communion. He felt this so keenly that he even asked to be freed from the privilege of serving Mass for fear that the vehemence of his desire to receive would make him seize the consecrated Host from the very hands of the priest at the altar.

Some time later Neria fell dangerously ill and wrote a letter to St. Alphonsus confessing that her charges against Gerard had been sheer fabrication and calumny. The Saint was filled with joy by the news of the innocence of his son. But Gerard, who had not been depressed in the time of his trial, was not unduly elated in the hour of his vindication.

In both cases he felt that the will of God had been fulfilled, and that was sufficient for him.

Of few Saints have there been so many wonderful events recorded as of St. Gerard. The process of his beatification and canonisation reveals that his miracles were of the widest variety and profusion.

He frequently fell into ecstasy while meditating on God or His holy will and at such times his body was seen raised several feet above the ground. There are authentic records to prove that on more than one occasion he was granted the unusual miracle of being seen and spoken to in two places at the same time. Most of his miracles were performed in the service of others.

Such extraordinary happenings as the following begin to seem commonplace when one reads his life. He restored life to a boy who had fallen from a high cliff; he blessed the scanty supply of wheat belonging to a poor family and it lasted until the next harvest; several times he multiplied the bread that he was distributing to the poor.

One day he walked across the water to lead to the safety of the shore a boatload of fishermen threatened by the stormy waves. Many times Gerard told people of secret sins on their souls which they had been ashamed to confess, and brought them to penance and forgiveness.

His miraculous apostolate for mothers also began during his lifetime. Once, as he was leaving the home of his friends, the Pirofalo family, one of the daughters called after him that he had forgotten his handkerchief. In a moment of prophetic insight Gerard said: "Keep it. It will be useful to you some day." The handkerchief was treasured as a precious souvenir of Gerard.

Years later the girl to whom he had given it was in danger of death in childbirth. She remembered the words of Gerard, and called for the handkerchief. Almost immediately the danger passed and she delivered a healthy child. On another occasion the prayers of Gerard were asked by a mother when both she and her unborn child were in danger. Both she and the child came through the ordeal safely.

Always frail in health, it was evident that Gerard was not to live long. In 1755, he was seized by violent hemorrhages and dysentery and his death was expected at any moment. 

However, he had yet to teach a great lesson on the power of obedience. His director commanded him to get well, if it were God's will, and immediately his illness seemed to disappear and he left his bed to rejoin the community. He knew, however, that this cure was only temporary and that he had only a little over a month to live.

Before long he did have to return to his bed, and he began to prepare himself for death. He was absolutely abandoned to the will of God and had this sign placed on his door: "The will of God is done here, as God wills it and as long as He wills it." Often he was heard to say this prayer: "My God, I wish to die in order to do Thy most holy will." Between midnight of October 15, early morning of the next day his innocent soul went back to God.

At the death of Gerard, the Brother sacristan, in his excitement, rang the bell as if for a Feast, instead of tolling it for a death. Thousands came to view the body of "their Saint" and to try to find a last souvenir of the one who had helped them so often. After his mother's death miracles began to be reported from almost all parts of Italy, attributed to the intercession of Gerard. In 1893, Pope Leo XIII beatified him, and on December 11, 1904, Pope Pius X canonised him as a Saint.

Devotion to St. Gerard spread rapidly beyond Italy and throughout the world and he came to be called "the wonder worker of our day." Because he had so often helped sinners to make a good Confession, he was adopted by many as the patron of a good Confession. Others revere the young apprentice tailor and Redemptorist lay brother as the patron of workingmen. Because he had so much difficulty getting into a religious order and because he sent so many girls to the convent he is often called upon as the patron of vocations.

Above all, the mothers of Italy took Gerard to their hearts and made him their patron. At the process of his beatification one witness testified that he was known as "il santo dei felice parti" - the Saint of happy childbirth. His fame in this regard spread so that in many countries of the world mothers would not think of entering into their confinement without having a medal of St. Gerard. This devotion has become very popular in America, both in the United States and in Canada. Thousands of mothers have experienced his power.

Many hospitals dedicate their maternity wards to him and give medals and prayer leaflets of St. Gerard to their patients. Thousands of children have been named after St. Gerard by parents who are convinced that it was his intercession that helped them to have healthy children. Even girls are named after him, and it is interesting how variously "Gerard" is given a feminine form. Some of the more popular names are: Gerarda, Geralyn, Gerardine, Gerianne and Gerardette.

St. Gerard obtains great favours for mothers and their children, but that is not his only office. He also teaches parents and especially mothers the duties of their state in life. The terrible and all too common evils in marriage today are the crimes of contraception and abortion. Under pretext of poor health, or lack of material means, or fear of the future or of what others may say, so many women accept pagan practices and limit their families by sinful means. The only adequate defence against this evil is an unlimited trust in God.

One of Gerard's greatest virtues was trust, and his favourite slogan was "God will provide." Once while he was on a pilgrimage with some clerical students, he used the last few coins to buy some flowers for the altar. When he placed the flowers before the altar he said: "Lord, I have taken care of You. Now You take care of my students and me." And the Lord did provide sufficient money for the rest of the trip.

When the false accusation was made against him, to all the entreaties of friends to defend himself he replied: "It is for God to see to that." In poor health and in danger of death his trust in God did not waver one bit. Thus Gerard showed himself as a model that mothers can imitate in the confidence in God on which marriage must be based, if they are to avoid the forces of "anti-life."

We would like to say that St. Gerard Majella is "the Pro-Life Saint."  Many others are signing a petition to declare that St. Gerard is the "Saint of the Pro-Life Movement." Either way, he is forever our Saint and friend. 

relic of st gerard majella

Monday 24 September 2012

Bishop-Elect Philip Egan

The Lady Shrine in the garden at St Catherine's.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Mgr Philip Egan chose it particularly as the day for his episcopal ordination as the new Bishop of Portsmouth, to invoke Our Lady's powerful intercession under that most English title.  Do pray for him, as taking on the leadership of any diocese, let alone an English one, is surely a daunting task - and Portsmouth has its own particular problems.  We prayed for him at Mass this morning.  The Ordination Mass is to be broadcast live, starting at 1.15pm, on the diocesan website here :

Bishop elect Egan, as we must call him until later this afternoon, was formerly Vicar General in the Shrewsbury Diocese for Bishop Mark Davies. I first met him many years ago when he was involved in running some excellent residential courses for clergy - just something he and some priest friends did on their own initiative.  They were always of an excellent and orthodox content.

Last time I met Bishop elect Philip was at the opening of the Institute of Christ the King Shrine of Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton earlier this year, caught in the picture above (he's the one in the purple behind my shoulder!!!)

Sunday 23 September 2012

Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy

Amidst the terrible tragedy of the murder of  PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone it is noticeable that The Church of England is to the fore in assisting people to represent their grief.  The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, has also been offering prayers for the deceased and their families this morning. At such times it seems that the Christian Faith is still the general context to which people revert in times of need - despite our increasingly secular and often anti-Christian society. What is also noticeable, is that Greater Manchester's Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy has been quite openly speaking of his own faith and the importance of prayer - including praying for the dead officers themselves.  I'm told that he is a devout Catholic but it's rare to see public figures speaking so openly about their faith and being so at ease in expressing it.  Read further here.

He says:

"I think a lot of us feel passionately that policing is a vocation. It is a calling."
"I feel that in terms of my own faith but I know a lot of officers that don't have a faith, but feel exactly the same.
"You do often feel so helpless, so praying for the dead officers, praying for their families, becomes your own reaction, your own expression of hope really for them, at a time of great need."

Friday 21 September 2012

New Blog

For anyone in Northern Ireland, a priest friend has started a new blog for anyone interested in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  I've added it to the Blogroll on the sidebar but you can find it here:  Latin Mass Belfast

Monday 17 September 2012

Cardinal Duka and changing fortunes

This photo with Cardinal Duka was taken yesterday outside the Archbishop's Palace in Prague.  I was very privileged to be able to offer Mass in his beautiful private chapel in the house, which you can see below.  It is a great thing for the Order of St Lazarus to now have him as a member and Chaplain General of the Order.  He has an extraordinary history of witnessing to the Faith.  A Dominican, in 1975 the Communist government deprived him of the authorisation for the sacred ministry and for almost fifteen years - until the regime collapsed in 1989 - he worked as a designer at the car factories of Škoda. In the meantime, he also worked in secret in the Dominican Order as a novice master and teacher of theology. Quite a change in circumstances now that the Archbishop's Palace and the Cathedral have been restored to the Church.
 Some further photos of the Investiture in Prague Cathedral.

Procession in.

Group photo.
Somebody snapped this from behind he flower arrangements at the Reception in Archbishop's Palace.

The Grand Master and Cardinal Duka.

The splendid facade of the Archbishop's Palace.

Lunch on the river the next day at the Prague Rowing Club with Mrs Jean Spencer from England and Prince Charles-Philippe d'Orleans.

Sunday 16 September 2012

Cardinal Duka in Prague

Dominik Cardinal Duka, Archbishop of Prague and the Papal Nuncio to the Czech Lands, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza arriving for Mass at St Vitus Cathedral.

 I had forgotten just what a lovely city Prague is but have been reminding myself with a visit, principally for the Investiture of Cardinal Duka as Chaplain General to the International Order of St Lazarus (of which many of you will know, I am Chaplain General in Great Britain). 
The Grand Master of the Order, Count Jan Dobrzensky and Grand Master Emeritus, Prince Charles-Philippe, invest the Cardinal as the Chaplain General to the whole Order.
 I was also privileged to receive the title of Commander of Merit for my work with the Order.  Great Britain has raised £10,000 for the relief of leprosy in the Archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
Grand Treasurer Nigel Sterland and his wife Anne are introduced to Cardinal Duka at the reception after Mass held in the Archbishop's Palace.
 With Mgr Luigi Casolini, Dean of Tivoli Cathedral and Fr Mark Lawler, Chancellor of the Priory of Great Britain in the splendid setting of the Cathedral.
And with Mgr Bosé, Grand Prior Spiritual of the Order.
 The police station - I liked the idea of St Joseph watching over it.

The Calvary on Charles Bridge

I love the art Nouveau and Fin de siecle architecture that abounds
throughout Prague. 

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Cardinal Piacenza on what the Holy Spirit was REALLY saying at Vatican II

Cardinal Piacenza, the Prefect of the congregation for Clergy in Rome always says things I very much like.  (I have posted about him many times before here here and here, for exapmple.)  Yesterday, in preparation for the Year of Faith, he gave an interview to Zenit, speaking about the Second Vatican Council.  Read his words carefully and I think you can see very clearly what he is saying - and it is not the interpretation of the Council many of us hear in the local Church.  I reproduce it in full ( the highlights are my own).

ZENIT: Your Eminence, ZENIT intends to inaugurate a series of contributions for the Year of Faith, focussing attention on the Second Vatican Council, during the 50th anniversary year. Why is there so much debate about this ecclesiastical event?

Cardinal Piacenza: Debate is always a positive element, because it indicates vitality and the desire for more profound understanding; the subject of debate is not exclusively human, instead it is an Ecumenical Council, an occurrence both human and supernatural, because the Holy Spirit guides the Church to a progressive, full understanding of the one revealed truth. Therefore one should not be in the least astounded that understandings of Conciliar pronouncements should have occasioned decades of analysis and sometimes even debates, always following along the path of listening to that which the Holy Spirit has desired to say to the Church during that extraordinary assembly.

ZENIT: What would you say would be the right attitude in analyzing the Council? 

Cardinal Piacenza: An attitude of listening! The Second Ecumenical Vatican Council was, in fact, the first "media" Council, whose dynamic physiology of analysis and whose texts were immediately publicized through modern means of communication, which did not always capture the important actual facts and, not infrequently, orientated their understanding in a secular way. I believe it is particularly interesting, and perhaps even necessary, to return, or better, to proceed toward an attentive listening to that which, really, the Holy Spirit desired to say to the entire Church by means of the Conciliar Fathers. [In other words, some of what we have had has not really been what the Holy Spirit was saying!] Such a dynamic of seeking a profound understanding, such a "right attitude" is realized by means of a direct reading of the texts, by which one may evince an authentic spirit of the Council, and their exact place within the entirety of Church history and editorial revision. 

ZENIT: At times some choices, even by the Magisterium, appear to go "against" the Council. Is this possible? 

Cardinal Piacenza: To respond that this has never happened, it is sufficient to examine the post Conciliar pronouncements of the Authentic Magisterium at the universal level. How much better it is to foster a proper reception of Conciliar decisions, clarify the importance of determined statements, sometimes duly correcting unilateral interpretations, or even mistaken, artificially induced ones. These interpret Spirit filled ecclesiastical events through a lens which is exclusively human or historic. The ecclesial service of the Magisterium is rooted in explicit Divine Will. It prepares Ecumenical Councils, acts through them in its fullest expression and, through successive actions, obeys them and fosters their proper reception. 

ZENIT: What truly is the "hermeneutic of continuity" spoken of so often by the Holy Father?

Cardinal Piacenza: It is, according to what has been explicitly indicated by the same Pontiff, the only correct way to read and interpret each Ecumenical Council and, therefore, the Second Vatican Council. The continuity of the one Body of the Church, prior to being a hermeneutic criterion, that is a manner by which to interpret texts, is a theological reality, which is deeply rooted in the selfsame act of faith which prompts us to profess "I believe in One Church." For such a reason, some sort of dichotomy between pre and post Vatican II is unthinkable, and certainly one must refute both the positions of those who see in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council a "new beginning" of the Church as well as those who discern the "true Church" only prior to this historical Council. No one can arbitrarily decide whether and when the "true Church" started. Sprung forth from the side of Christ, and fortified by the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost, the Church is One and Only, until the consummation of history, and within the communion by means of which will come to be actualized in eternity. 
Some people sustain that the hermeneutic of reform within that of continuity is only one of the possible hermeneutics, along with those of discontinuity and rupture. The Holy Father has recently defined as "unacceptable" the hermeneutic of discontinuity [There cannot be two differnt types of interpretation - "my view" and "your view" is not an option.] (Audience with the General Assembly of the Italian Conference of Bishops, May 24, 2012). This is obviously true: otherwise it would not be Catholic, and the germ of infection and of progressive decomposition would be injected into the Church; [This seems to be a very strong statement condemning the interpretation of the Council through the lens of disruption and some sort of new beginning that we have so often heard - and still do from many quarters.] also causing great damage to ecumenism. 

ZENIT: Is it possible that it could be that complex to understand this reality? 

Cardinal Piacenza: You know better than I do that understanding, even of self evident realities, can be conditioned, not infrequently, by emotional, biographical, cultural and even ideological aspects. It is humanly understandable that someone who has lived the years of his youth during the time of legitimate enthusiasm for the Conciliar Assembly, understanding the desire of clearing away of some of the "encrustations," which were necessarily and urgently removed from the countenance of the Church, might interpret as dangerous the "betrayal" of the Council which he sees in every manifestation which his own "emotional state" does not share. All must necessarily take a drastic quantum leap in approaching the Conciliar texts in order to understand, half a century after this extraordinary event, what the Spirit proposed to the Church, and what He proposes. To crystallize the Council within its necessary, but not sufficient, "enthusiastic dimension" is equivalent to not serving the reception of the Council well, as then it remains paralyzed, since, with time, an analysis and shared evaluation must take place of the objective texts, not certainly blemished by emotional approaches and historical enthusiasm. [Those who were carried away with enthusiasm for what the Council might produce and who now find it hard to change their understanding of it, even in the light of the obvious decline of the Church in many countries and the failure of some of those enthusiasms.]

ZENIT: It is known that you have always spoken with great enthusiasm of Vatican II. What does the Council represent for you?

Cardinal Piacenza: How could one not be enthusiastic for such an extraordinary event as an Ecumenical Council! In these the Church shines forth in all her beauty. Peter and all the Bishops in communion with him prepare themselves to hear the Holy Spirit, to that which God wishes to say to His Spouse. They came together to articulate, according to the predictions of Blessed John XXIII, immutable revealed truth and reading the signs from God in the signs of the times, for the historical present, and the signs of the times under the light of God! This same Pontiff said in his solemn allocution at the opening of the Council, on October 11, 1962 "To transmit doctrine purely and integrally, without alteration or misrepresentation […] this certain and immutable doctrine which must be faithfully respected as well as elaborated and presented in a way which corresponds to the exigencies of our times." 
During the years of the Council, I was a young student and then seminarian, and my priestly ministry, from the first moments, was carried out entirely in light of the Council and her reforms. In fact, I was ordained a priest in 1969. I cannot do otherwise but call myself, then, a son of the Council. I am grateful also to my own teachers, because I have understood, from the start, Conciliar teachings according to the natural hermeneutic of unity and continuity. This reform within continuity I have always personally felt, lived, and also as a professor, taught. 

ZENIT: As Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, do you think that priests have accepted the Council well?

Cardinal Piacenza: Certainly, insofar as an elect portion of the People of God, priests are those who, within the Church, know better and have developed a more profound understanding of Conciliar teaching. It seems to me that, as of now, the same problems which we have referred to before are not absent among priests. Whether those be with reference to the correct hermeneutic of reform within continuity, or a necessary approach to the Council which is not predominantly emotional. If, during this Year of Faith, we would all have the humility and good will to pick up the texts of the Council, discovering what they truly said, and not that which is in the "common" understanding, which had its own freelance proponents, [So the common understanding has not always been the correct one.] we will discover how the Second Vatican Council was truly prophetic and how many of the matters it highlighted still remain before us, as a horizon toward which we look, and as a goal to reach, with the help of grace. Certainly, to accomplish this, a great dose of humility is necessary, along with a certain capacity to suspend pre-established judgements, to be able to reacquire the truth which, perhaps, for too much time, has appeared to be different. [Wow! This is strong stuff.] 
ZENIT: Upon which points must the reception of Conciliar documents be focused? 

Cardinal Piacenza: I must refer to a matter of particular tension, which is represented by the liturgical reform, also because this constitutes the element which is most highly visible in the Church herself. Again and again the Servant of God Paul VI, Blessed John Paul II and the Holy Father, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI have emphasized the importance of the Liturgy, as the place in which the selfsame being of the Church is fully realized. It does, unfortunately, catch everyone’s attention, as, in not a few cases in its regard, we are still far from a shared balanced understanding. Certainly a desacralized liturgy, or that reduced to a "human representation," in which the Christological and theological dimensions vanish until they are displaced, is not what the letter and spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium intended. This does not justify, nonetheless, the position of those who in their own turn have also wed themselves to the hermeneutic of discontinuity, denying Conciliar reform, considering them as betrayals of a longed for "true Church."  [By this judgement. many of the liturgies we have experienced and still do, are not what Sacrosanctum Concilium intended - but nor can we turn the clock back - the "True Church" is always united with the Holy Father.]

ZENIT: Are there some innovations which are more important than liturgical ones?

Cardinal Piacenza: Given the centrality of the liturgy, "source and summit" of the Church’s life itself (cf. SC,10) I would not speak of "greater" importance. Certainly the Council desired to emphasize some evangelical truths, which today represent the shared patrimony of all of Catholicism. We might only think of the felicitous emphasis of the universal call of all the baptized to holiness. This has fostered the birth and development of so many new experiences. One might make reference also to openness toward Christians belonging to other confessions, which has caused the preciousness of unity to re-emerge, in all its beauty, as a necessary attribute of the Church, and as a gift, freely offered by Christ, of being ever welcoming, by means of a continuous purification of those who belong to Him. Of equal importance is the importance of Episcopal collegiality, which is among the most effective expressions of Ecclesial Communion and demonstrates to the world that the Church is necessarily a unified body. The same organic comprehension of Ordained Ministry, in service of the baptismal priesthood, and ultimately, which sees priests and deacons closely united to their own Bishop, as an expression of sacramental communion in service of the Church and of humanity, has embodied a felicitous development of the understanding of the countenance of the Church, as Our Lord desired to define it. 

ZENIT: Your Eminence, in this moment the Church prepares to begin the Synod for the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith. If you could say a concise word to priests, what would you say?

Cardinal Piacenza: Under the light of faith: Priest, become every day that which you are!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Summer fundraising

In our little parish, finance is always a difficulty.  We have a parish debt with the archdiocese and an overdraft!  So, as I've said to the good people here before, much as I am not in my comfort zone doing fund raising, it is a necessary part of parish life and in fact, often gets people working together, meeting up outside their particular Mass time and making new friends and is an opportunity to invite in those from the neighbourhood who are not Catholics.

Today we had our annual Fete  / Summer Fair and after the dismal weather all summer we were basking in the sunshine.  I was on barbecue duty and the food must have been okay as we ran out of beef burgers!  (Possibly thanks to the good quality burgers and sausages from local Leyland Butcher, Clarkeson's, who kindly give us an excellent deal.)  Luckily the weather brought folk out and we have raised close on £1,000 - so I'm posting this to say thank you to everyone! 

I let one of our altar servers loose with the camera with the following results!

Thursday 6 September 2012

Nuptial Mass in the Old Rite

Last month I conducted my first wedding in the traditional Form of the Roman Rite - where the wedding ceremony happens straight away and is followed by Mass.  Catherine and Sean attend Mass here each week and so it was natural that they requested Nuptial Mass according to the 1962 Missal.  We had a Byrd Mass setting sung beautifully by a little Schola gathered together for the occasion by Anthony Dickinson.  Congratulations to Catherine and Sean.

 Thanks to Roger Moss Photography for use of these copyright photos.



 Who says Trads don't know how to celebrate!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Tears at Ss Peter and Paul's

 Canon Meney at the opening of the Shrine

There were tears from parishioners back at my home parish, where I made my first Holy Communion some few year ago now(!)  At the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and Philomena in New Brighton this Sunday the announcement was made public that Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, is moving very shortly.  It was just last November that he arrived at the once abandoned church and just six months ago that Bishop Mark Davies formally  opened the shrine. Bishop Mark Davies, in a typically pastoral act, was there this Sunday to accompany parishioners in this change for them.  There is no sudden scandal or difficulty, however.  It seems that the Institute needs Canon Meney's obvious talents and abilities elsewhere for a particular apostolate just at the moment and another Institute priest will replace him.  It must be a difficult move for Canon Meney, having invested so much energy into the huge task of founding a new shrine church of Ss Peter and Paul.  Indeed Bishop Mark Davis recognised the incredible amount of work the Canon has done and what an achievement it has been to have transformed the empty church into a once more living community.

The prayers and support of the parishioners and many others, including many priests from round about who have become friends of the Shrine, go with Canon Meney to his new apostolate and make ready to welcome another Institute priest who will have big shoes to fill but whom, I feel sure, will be welcomed and supported in the same way.

Sunday 2 September 2012

New Oratory for Manchester

The interior of St Chad's
in Cheetham Hill Road,
what is now to be the Manchester Oratory
Congratulations to Fr Ray Matus and the brethren at the Church of the Holy Name, Manchester, where for twenty years they have superbly renovated and looked after the church and built up a truly beautiful life of devotion and worship for themselves and the congregation.  They have announced that Bishop Brain has given his approval for them to be formally erected as a congregation of the Oratory of St Philip.  Not in their present home, but still very near the city centre at the church of St Chad on Cheetham Hill Road.
Link here to their website to this announcement.
With great thanksgiving to Almighty God, our Blessed Lady and our Holy Father St Philip, we can announce that the Bishop of Salford given his approval for the erection of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri in Manchester.
The Manchester Oratory will be close to the city centre at St Chad’s, Cheetham Hill, which is the Mother Church of the City.
We will continue to be at the Holy Name until Advent, or when arrangements have been finalised. The Holy Name will then be part of the Chaplaincy to the Universities on Oxford Road staffed by the Society of Jesus.
A Letter from His Lordship will be read the weekend of 1st / 2nd September to the Congregations at the Holy Name and St Chad’s.
Please keep us in your prayers at this time.
 Fr Ray, Fr Christopher, Br Richard, Br Andrew, Br David

Saturday 1 September 2012

Martini - bitter and stirred!

 Cardinal Martini (on the left) wearing some of the vestments he apparently thought so awful and pompous, according to his last interview.

For many years during the reign of Blessed Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Martini was tipped as "Papabile".  Now that he has died, it seems that the Holy Spirit had good reason for making sure that never came about.

See the BBC report on his last interview here,  carried, interestingly, as the headline story on its BBC World page - presumably on the basis that any criticism of the Church deserves as much publicity as the BBC can give it - especially when the headline is "Roman Catholic Church is 200 years behind the times".  It''s carried on the ticker tape on BBC World headlines as well.

Instead the Holy Spirit kept Blessed Pope John Paul on the Throne of St Peter for long enough for Cardinal Martini to be passed over by the time of the last conclave (his health was already poor by then) and for Joseph Ratzinger's time to have come.

Here is a little something that Blessed Pope John Paul said about being thought of as "behind the times".
I am convinced that a priest should have no fear of being "behind the times" because the human "today" of every priest is included in the "today" of Christ the Redeemer.

Pope John Paul in his book "Gift and Mystery"