Monday 26 November 2012

Feast of St Catherine Labouré

We are keeping our parish feast day this Wednesday 28th November.  There will be Missa Cantata at 6pm (please note - anyone intending to come along, as it was originally advertised for 7pm) folllowed by a parish social evening.

St Catherine is a great saint to have as a parish patron because of her connection with the Miraculous Medal - there's a real focus for people to relate to by wearing the medal and giving it to others.  In fact, we offer a Mass of the Miraculous Medal for the feast day.

Saturday 24 November 2012

The cassock is to be worn

A post at Chiesa publishes a letter reminding those who work at the Vatican and those visiting - bishops, priests and Religious - that they are to wear the cassock or habit of their Order.  The letter, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, reads, "at venerable behest," meaning at the personal direction of Pope Benedict.  Another example of the Holy Father leading and teaching by example.  Let us hope that all those who declare public loyalty to him will take the hint in this area as in others - such as kneeling and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, celebrating ad orientem Mass occasionally, using Latin in the liturgy and going out of our way to welcome back into full communion those Christian groups closest to us, such as our brothers and sisters in the SSPX.

From the Vatican, October 15, 2012

Most Reverend Eminence/Excellency,

By these presents I wish to recall to Your attention the importance of the discipline concerning the daily use of ecclesiastical (cassock or clerical) and religious dress, as determined by the norms on this matter and according to the reasons illustrated and explicated in his day by Blessed John Paul II in the Letter to the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, dated September 8, 1982.

 At a time in which everyone is specially called to renew his awareness of and consistency with his own identity, at venerable behest I come to ask Your Eminence/Excellency kindly to guarantee the observance of the above on the part of all ecclesiastics and religious in service with this Dicastery/Tribunal/Office/Vicariate, recalling the duty of wearing regularly and with dignity the proper habit, in every season, partly in obedience to the duty of exemplarity (editor's note: this phrase is in italics in the original) that is incumbent above all upon those who render service to the successor of Peter.

The very example of those who, sealed with the episcopal dignity, are faithful to the daily use of the cassock proper to them, during office hours, becomes an explicit encouragement for all, including for the Episcopates and for those who visit the Roman Curia and Vatican City.

On this occasion, moreover, partly in order to avoid uncertainty and to guarantee due uniformity, it should be recalled that the use of the abito piano is required for participation at any event at which the Holy Father is present, as also for the Plenary and Ordinary Assemblies, the Interdicasterial Meetings, the reception of "ad limina" Visits and the various official engagements of the Holy See.

Grateful for the cooperation, I gladly take this opportunity to confirm my distinct and heartfelt respects

for Your Most Reverend Eminence/Excellency

most devoted in the Lord

+ Tarcisio Card. Bertone

Secretary of State

Friday 23 November 2012

Illiberal Liberals

I don't feel terribly qualified to comment too much on the Church of England - after all, its nothing directly to do with me, although I do like what Fr Tim Finigan has pointed out in his post on Sir Tony Baldry in the House of Commons bemoaning the fact that women can't become bishops in the C of E, whilst at the same time sporting a Garrick Club tie - a club which does not allow women to become members!

But what a very strange world we live in.  I've been amazed at the tone of the coverage of the vote on women bishops in the Church of England.  Not just from those who have been championing the cause but from the general reporting as well, which seems to take it for granted that not ordaining women as bishops amounts to a bad thing.  A vote was taken, the measure did not pass.  Now those who lost the vote are complaining that as it didn't go their way, it was a bad vote, a wrong vote and something must be done to achieve the outcome by other means. (Again, Fr Tim sums it up nicely). Could it be that liberals are liberal only when things go their way?  Once challenged, they become most illiberal.  But you don't have to be in the C of E to experience that.

Just one more little gripe!  Rowan Williams says, "Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society. We have some explaining to do, we have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society."  All the talk is of the Church of England following "society".  It does not seem to have occurred to many of them that they should perhaps be attempting to lead or challenge societies trends and priorities.

The Lord told His Church:

If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-21)  

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.(Luke 6:26)

St. Paul admonished Timothy to preach the Gospel, whether in season or out of season (2 Tim 4:2). Nowadays,  it is very much 'out of season' and the world hates the Church for what She says. 

The Servant of God, Pope Paul VI said it so well in the very in the 'out of season' encyclical Huamane Vitae:
It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a “sign of contradiction.” She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man. (H.V. # 18)

Thursday 22 November 2012

Latin and ad orientem

The Mass of Pope Paul VI being offered
Fr Gary Dickson has an excellent post on Latin and ad orientem celebration of the the Mass - Pope Paul's newer Form, that is.  He suggests that senior clergy - bishops, VGs, Deans and cathedral administrators should at least "occasionally" (perhaps a few times a year) make use of the what are the norms in the celebration of the Mass - latin and ad orientem celebration.  This would then "normalise" these things and change the atmosphere in the Church about them.

An excellent idea but  may I suggest that the very reason so many such figures do not do this is precisely that they do not want to normalise these practises even though they are, in a technical sense, the norms which govern the celebration of the liturgy.

It's my belief that there are many clergy - and therefore people they have misinformed - who believe that the practices they characterise as "traditional" and therefore obsolete and undesirable - but which are in fact current in the norms and teaching of the Church - must be done away with and they work to move away from these practices and teachings.  A sort of separate and alternative authority (the "spirit" of Vatican II); a type of gallicanism that says we here in this country are different from the rest of the Church (although they willingly draw to themselves all sorts of legislation intended for other lands, so that an allowance for rhythmic movement in the liturgy for cultures where that is part of their heritage is applied to the Western world to mean ladies of a certain age cavorting across the sanctuary, or the allowance for celebrations of the Word with Holy Communion intended for mission territories on a Sunday where it is impossible to have access to a priest is  reworked to mean that lay people can preside at such services on weekdays on Father's day off.  But I digress.)

Instances of this come to mind such as the bishop who said at the time of Redempionis Sacramentum that it didn't apply in his diocese because there are no such abuses there (oh sure!).  Or the priest who was told that it is more important to be 'in communion with the local deanery area' than with the Pope (I thought we were in communion with one another because of our communion with the Pope).

However, we are not in the position of being a province in the Anglican Communion where we can adjust our norms on a majority vote, we are a part of the Church in communion with the Pope and it is that strength that will see us through and which is increasingly the binding tie that draws the only new people and new vocations.  We are the Church IN England not the Church OF England.

Monday 19 November 2012

Bishop Mark Davies at the Shrine

 Mgr Wach leads Vespers with Bishop Mark Davies presiding, assisted by canons of the Diocese.

Mgr Wach of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest paid a pastoral visit to the Shrine of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena in New Brighton yesterday.  I couldn't be there for Mass in the morning but went to Vespers in the evening, where the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies gave Benediction afterwards.  The new pastor of the Shrine, Canon Mounjean, made everyone welcome and we managed to sing full Vespers.  I wonder if, when the Church encourages us to have the Office in parishes, the sung version is more what She has in mind?  Obviously, this isn't easy to achieve but my experiences of reciting the Office with parishioners before a morning Mass has never left me feeling terribly fulfilled.

 The Blessed Sacrament being placed on the throne.

 The Bishop assisted by deacons.

 Bishop Mark Davies gives the Benediction.

Thursday 15 November 2012

New office dedicated to sacred music and liturgical art – including architecture

An example of how to build a brand new church that doesn't look like a dentist's waiting room or an underground car park.  Ask a decent architect who knows something about churches!
(Thomas Aquinas College Chapel)

I found the following of interest on the Catholic News Agency site.  Let's hope it means a more faithful - and therefore more uplifting - application of the Church's directives on music, liturgical art and architecture.  I mean a proper Christian hope - not just a desperate longing for things to improve!

This just as I read of Duncan Stroik's new book collecting together 23 essays on church architecture: "The Church Building as a Sacred Place."  You can read of it or order it here. My own preference in style rather leans towards the  Gothic.  Duncan mostly designs in the neo-classical style but he tells me it's only because Gothic is, for the most part, just too expensive to do in this day and age. 


With the Vatican's approval on Nov. 14 of its restructuring, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will shift its focus more intensely on art and liturgical music.

The restructuring is in accord with a Sept. 2011 apostolic letter issued by Pope Benedict XVI, where he noted that the changes will help the congregation in “giving a fresh impetus to promoting the sacred liturgy in the Church.”

This will be achieved mainly through a new office dedicated to sacred music and liturgical art – including architecture – which will become operational next year.

Its charges will include issuing guidelines on liturgical music and the structure of new churches so that they reflect the mysterious encounter with the divine, as well as follow the dictates and instructions of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

In his letter, the Pope wrote that these all must be in accord with the Second Vatican Council's “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.” Overlooking that 1963 document has allowed for the post-conciliar trend of building unedifying churches and filling them pop-influenced music.

Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares, prefect of the congregation, is entrusted with overseeing that these future guidelines and existing ones on liturgical celebration are followed throughout the world.

He is a long-time ally of the Pope, back to the pontiff's days as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Cardinal Canizares is sometimes referred as “Little Ratzinger” for his similar beliefs and opinions.

Overseeing the many facets of worship in the worldwide Church is a significant task, especially in light of last December's implementation of the new Roman Missal in English, which is truer to the original Latin and more elevated in its language.

To help the congregation focus on issues related to worship, the new restructuring removes two responsibilities that proved time consuming: processes of dispensation from ratified and non-consummated marriage and cases concerning the nullity of sacred ordination.

Those duties have been shifted to the Roman Rota, the Church’s highest appellate tribunal.

“The Holy See has always sought to adapt its structures of governance to the pastoral needs that arise in the life of the Church in every period of history, thereby modifying the structure and competence of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia,” wrote the Pope in his Sept. 2011 letter.

That letter was issued motu proprio, meaning that he wrote it for reasons which he himself deemed sufficient.

Friday 9 November 2012

Tradtional Mass in St Peter's Basilica

Earlier this week on 3rd November pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome,  to celebrate the Year of Faith with a Mass in the Usus Antiquior celebrated by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.  This video comes from the USA Bishops Conference site and was picked up by Rorate Caeli.

That such an eminent Cardinal at the head of one of the best known congregations in the Roman Curia is celebrating the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in such a high profile location is an excellent sign.

Friday 2 November 2012

Black is black, I want my vestments back!

Black is back!

A couple of weeks ago in one of the comments (anonymous) the readers of this blog were referred to as "mostly right-wingers".  I've been meaning to take the person to task, as being described as "right-wing" or even "traditional" is one of my bug-bears.  One of the speakers at the Confraternity Conference in Reading (I think it was Archbishop De Noia) also mentioned that he took great exception to secular tags being applied to faith matters.  I consider myself neither left nor right wing when  it comes to the Church, neither conservative nor liberal, neither traditional nor liberal but simply ORTHODOX.  There is nothing right-wing nor conservative about being faithful to Our Lord and the Church he founded.  It is not traditional to hold fast to the constant teaching of the Church on female 'ordiantion', or same sex 'marriage' - either you hold the teaching of the Church or you don't.  There are not two different versions of the Faith - a traditional one and a progressive one - there is just THE Faith.  Within that Faith there are certainly different interpretations on things that the Church allows us to hold differing views on.  The trouble is that very many people today appear to hold different views on some quite essential matters that have been defined and taught by the Church where She does not envisage any differing viewpoints; where what is to be held fast is written down for all to see in black and white (or black and red, rubrically speaking).

The wonderful feast of All Souls brings a liturgical point to mind in this matter.  There is an excellent post in relation to this on the New Theological Movement Site.  It is considered - by some - very old-fashioned, right-wing, traditional, call it what you will, to wear black vestments for Requiem Masses - be it All Souls Day or funerals and yet the rubrics indicate that black, along with violet or white on occasion (presumably in certain Asian and African countries where white is the traditional colour of mourning) are all permissible.  I recall on more than one occasion visiting priests to parish funerals refusing to wear black vestments. I wonder what opprobrium would come my way if I turned up at a diocesan funeral and refused to wear white or violet - the point is, I have never done that because these other colours are allowed (although in the case of white this might be another one of those instances where local custom for some foreign clime has been taken as carte blanche to do it everywhere see Fr Ray Blake's post).

So for All Souls - for both forms of the Roman Rite - I will be wearing black.

I don't know who wrote the English version of the General Introduction for the Order of Christian Funerals but it certainly has a bias.  Number 39 says, " Black is used as a token of mourning but in our society, increasingly, without the associations of Christian hope."  Mourning and, therefore, praying for the dead is not to my mind, "without Christian hope".  In fact the all-purveying attitude of "celebrating" the life of the deceased instead of praying for the forgiveness of their sins is what is really without the association of Christian hope.  For a prime example of why this should not happen under any circumstances, witness the near beatification of Jimmy Saville, complete with golden casket, and the assurance that we "can be confident that Jimmy is now with God".  We should not blame the poor priest who said those words, he was simply doing what happens at nearly every funeral that I attend, read or hear about.

In fact, the Order of Christian Funerals from the 1980's - prepared by the Liturgy Office of the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales and ICEL is lacking in many areas.  There are particular prayers for all sorts of classes of person - from a deceased non-Christian married to a Catholic to those who died as catechumens - but no specific texts for the majority of funerals that most priests have to carry out - funerals for those who are lapsed from the practice of the Faith, often who have abandoned any outward sign of the Faith for many, many years.  I don't have many funerals in my present little parish but when I was in Wigan for nine years as parish priest it was not unusual to have two or three a week.  What I noticed was that the prayers all presume a fervent. practising Catholic - albeit, recognising the pervasive presence of sin even in the lives of those described in many of the prayers as God's "servants", our brother / sister who ate the Body of Christ, the Bread of Life - except they hadn't since being at school. So, are we to "celebrate" these lives that have, to all intents and purposes seemingly abandoned the Faith that would save sinners or mourn for them properly and pray for their souls?

Black signifies mourning, but not simply mourning in general. 
Rather, black directs us in a particular way to mourn and pray for the dead.