Sunday 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday

 Surrexit Christus.  Alleluia!

My thanks to servers and especially those with the musical ability who worked flat out to provide such fitting music for the Great Week.

 Some images from Missa Cantata this morning.

The sanctuary after the Vigil last night.

The High Altar - not that there's another one!

Detail of the wonderful Easter vestment

And finally,  preparation this afternoon for the other paschal lamb
- hopefully, not a burnt offering.

Friday 29 March 2013

Good Friday

The relic of the True Cross enshrined on the High Altar.
"Mass of the Presanctified" was concluded without incident and accompanied by beautifully sung chant.  I was glad of a fairly full church for this Great Day. 
I spotted a few visitors from further afield - if you happen to be reading this, apologies for not getting the chance to speak to you afterwards but I was straight into the Confessional.
What I saw of the music in St Peter's was also excellent.

Repose for Prayer

We celebrated a simple yet beautiful Mass of the Lord's Supper last night, enhanced by the the chants of the Mass and our new organ, as well as by the best attendance in my time here.  The altar was stripped as Psalm 21 was chanted and we even managed to chant the psalms of Compline at the end of watching at the Altar of Repose.

We have no such thing as a side altar let alone a side chapel to set up the Altar of Repose, so like many small churches, it is in the church hall. I always like the slightly makeshift and homemade feel, as though it were set up for a Recusant Mass and yet the effort has been gone to in order to create a suitable dwelling for the Lord's Presence.  In the penal times for Catholics in this country, they could have just offered Mass on the kitchen table but instead chose to carve elaborate altars disguised as domestic furniture on the outside but opening up to reveal the altar stone and and attempt to do something beautiful for the Lord.  To recreate the atmosphere of a proper church - a sacred place set apart so that, rich or poor, we gave of our best for the Lord.  A tradition going back to our Jewish forebears in giving the first fruits.  There is one such altar just up the road from us here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh -  Ladyewell.

The Burgess Altar, also called the Old Mission Altar, at Fernyhalgh was made by Mr Burgess in 1560 at the request of John Townley of Townley Hall, Burnley. St. Edmund Campion, St. Edmund Arrowsmith and Blessed John Woodcock offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this altar which was made to fold away like a sideboard. 

Thursday 28 March 2013

Dangerous development under new Pope

Spot the difference.

Pope Francis has decided to stay  at the Domus Sanctae Martae - for the time being, according to Press Secretary Fr Lombardi. Another example of the new Holy Father finding his feet and wanting to do things in his own style.  A new departure? Well, hardly.  The Popes have lived in many different places in the Vatican and in Rome (as well as outside it during the Avignon sojourn). 

What about cutting back to a more austere personal style? Well, on the second day after his election Pope Leo XIII crossed the Tiber incognito to his former residence in the Falconieri Palace to collect his papers, then after being crowned in the Sistine Chapel on 3rd March 1878, he at once began a reform of the papal household on more austere and economic lines.

What about all this fuss of his pectoral cross?  What a new innovation to wear one not made of solid gold!  Well, no actually.  When the newly elected Pope Pius X continued to wear the same pectoral cross made of gilded metal on the day of his coronation, his entourage was horrified, the new pope complained that he always wore it and that he had brought no other with him. He too was well known for cutting down on papal ceremonies. 

Pope Francis likes to dine at the Domus Sanctae Martae with no seat reserved for him and interact with the others staying there.  More departure from custom.  Tut tut.  Except that Pope Pius X also abolished the custom of the pope dining alone (which had been established by Pope Urban VIII), and  invited his friends to eat with him.

Pope Francis was been seen giving out Easter Eggs after Mass - albeit emblazoned with he papal coat of arms.  Also not a first.  Pope Pius X developed the habit of carrying sweets in his pockets for the street urchins in Mantua and Venice, and taught catechism to them. During papal audiences, he would gather children around him and talk to them about things that interested them. His weekly catechism lessons in the courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican always included a special place for children, and his decision to require the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in every parish was partly motivated by a desire to reclaim children from religious ignorance.  If chocolate is what it takes to win people back from religious ignorance - let's have more chocolate!

In other words, Pope Francis does not in fact have a completely new style.  It may differ from a Pope Benedict or a Pope John Paul but it is not a challenge to orthodoxy or to our Catholic Tradition or traditions.  The dangerous development under this new Pontificate does not come from the Holy Father but from elements in the media and secular world who are gleefully trying to interpret the new Papacy with that now disgraced tool - the hermeneutic of rupture - and just as with the Second Vatican Council, that is one hermeneutic we can do without.  Sadly, the same defunct interpretation of  rupture is also being peddled by some within the Church, presumably the same ideologues who applied it to Vatican II and have since found themselves on the back foot when the Holy Spirit drew people to return to the fullness of Christ's Truth, which has been treasured at the heart of his Church in every century and decade (including those between Trent and Vatican II).  It is being used to attack those who never liked Pope Benedict but it must always become, ultimately, an attack on the Church itself.

We must not allow the smoke of Satan to fill the gap between the pontificates of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  When it comes to Popes, the hermeneutic of continuity takes us back not just to Pope Benedict but all the way back to Pope Peter - and the same One that put them both in that position.

As I write this I've just seen the Holy Father start the Chrism Mass:

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti... Amen!

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Quid est Veritas?

Much nonsense has been spoken in the media today concerning the Holy Father's Inauguration but among those I found most irritating was the assertion that Pope Francis:
 signalled his wish to get closer to his 1.2 billion followers by swapping the bullet-proof Popemobile for an open-top jeep" (Evening Standard). 
 "abandoning the bullet-proof popemobile often used by Benedict". ( The Independent)
In another sign of the informality that is already a mark of his papacy, Francis abandoned the bullet-proof popemobile frequently used by his more formal predecessor Benedict, to tour the square. (Sky News)
Do these reports sound strangely similar to you? 'bullet-proof Popemobile'. I find the level of 'reporting' to be risible. Another example; the article on the Independent's website claims to have been written by Phillip Pullella & Catherine Hornby (although the credit 'Reuters' appears at the bottom of the piece) & includes the line:
For the mass he wore plain white vestments, trimmed with gold and brown, and black shoes, in contrast to the luxurious red loafers that attracted attention under Benedict. 
Whereas Sky News Website, under the byline 'By Sally Arthy in Rome', contained this sentence:
 Francis wore a plain white papal cassock and black shoes in contrast to the luxurious red loafers that attracted attention under Benedict.

 Is it shoddy journalism or plagiarism? I won't bore you by listing the factual errors in the various reports, but by the 'surprise' expressed that the new Pope should stop to kiss babies I doubt that any of these 'reporters' had done any 'research' at all. But to judge by the hatchet job they are doing on him you would be forgiven for thinking that Pope Benedict actually ate babies!

The Holy Father stops to kiss a baby
Needless to say, in this as in almost everything else, our new Pontiff is simply continuing in the footsteps (or Popemobile) of his illustrious predecessors:
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

His Holiness Blessed John Paul II

His Holiness Pope Paul VI

And that other refreshing "novelty" - the open car without bullet-proof glass:

Spot the difference!
Pope Benedict ready to receive incoming fire!

Blessed John Paul II - now he should know better!!!!

No sign of that pesky bullet-proof glass here either!

Here is the Servant of God Pope Pius XII even managing to bless a baby without being shot at!

Though not all open top cars are the same!

Papal Inauguration Mass

I've just watched the papal Inauguration Mass.  From a liturgical point of view my immediate reflections are that Pope Francis' Ars Celebranda is to focus very much on getting on with saying the Mass (he obviously isn't able to sing at all).  There was very little interruption of Mass for applause or cheering during the Mass in fact, I think only briefly after the Homily. (A homily which I think could be very well accepted by the world on a surface reading - the poor and the environment - but looked at a little deeper had the care of all human life at its heart, which from his and the Church's point of view would naturally include those in the womb and those near the end of life.)

The media have labelled him the "smiling Pope" but he didn't crack one smile during the actual Mass.  His informal and easy manner is for other meetings, audiences and communications but Mass is not about him - let's focus on the prayer.

I presume the mitre is his own and might have personal significance to him, just as Pope Benedict at first wore the mitre that Pope Paul VI had given him.

If a simpler form of liturgy means that the overblown Offertory Procession is to be no more, then I'm all for it.  Even under Pope Benedict, the Offertory was rather extended and played up to a sentimental oohing and ahhg over little children dressed in national costume tottering up to greet the Pope, so it became more about representatives meeting the Pope than offering the fruits of the earth to be transformed.

The Mass was in Latin and the chant would be recognisable certainly to anyone in this parish.  I hope they were joining in!

I noticed that the Holy Father glanced at his watch as he had venerated the altar at the end of Mass.  Much as I often do on returning to the sacristy - with the thought , "Well, that wasn't too long; I can't get any complaints about that!"

The only really discordant note came when I switched over to the BBC to hear Archbishop Peter Smith pontificating about the homily.  The Archbishop seemed to suggest that he wanted more collegiality, so the pope would share his authority!!!  The Pope spoke of power (not authority) as something that actually meant service.  it is interesting how many bishops are so very keen on the Pope giving them some of his power / authority but I don't often hear about bishops wanting to share their power / authority with those below them!  And by the way "the body or college of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head." (Lumen Gentium 22 - and cf Catholic Collar and Tie.)  Wasn't Peter Smith as Archbishop of Cardiff forced to withdraw an imprimatur he had given from a dodgy theology book for schools?  

Monday 18 March 2013

St Patrick's Day celebrations

We celebrated St Patrick's Day with a Social Evening of Irish Strew and Soda Bread, along with games and  song, including - of course - a rousing rendition of "Hail Glorious St Patrick" at the end of the evening.  We raised £360 for St Catherine's Hospice here in Leyland.  Thanks to those who organised it and all who came and took part, including a lovely rendition of "Lady of Knock" - a song new to me.  

I had a great surprise as a whole group of my former parishioners from St Cuthbert's in Wigan also came along unbeknownst to me until I arrived in the hall.

Our parish hall - the Pope John Paul II Room - beautifully prepared and awaiting the onslaught and soon to be packed to capacity!

 A green mitre was produced (no use to me now that the job in Rome has been taken!).
The children took great delight in trying out their names as Pope.
(Photos - cum permissio parentis)

Friday 15 March 2013

Truly Catholic welcome to Pope Francis

Welcoming Pope Francis here in Farington.

Bishop Mark Davies has written a Pastoral Letter for Shrewsbury Diocese that I thought worth sharing as it espouses what I would see as the true Catholic spirit in relation to some of the things from all shades of opinion that have been written about our new Holy Father.

My dear brothers and sisters,

 “I announce a great joy to you: we have a Pope!”  This announcement first made from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome has echoed across the world.  I write this Sunday to share with you the joy of welcoming Pope Francis as St Peter’s Successor, as Bishop of Rome and so as our Pope.  During the past two weeks the Chair of St Peter has stood empty and the Pope’s name has poignantly been absent from the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.  We have felt this absence and today share a great joy that in Pope Francis we once more have a Holy Father, a successor in our time of the Apostle Peter. “To this day,” the Youth Catechism explains, “every Bishop of Rome has been, like Peter, the supreme shepherd of the Church, whose real head is Christ” (YouCat 141).  

In these past few days you may have heard many commentators telling us what a new Pope should be like and what he should do.  However, no ‘job description’ for a Pope is ever required, as every Pope is called to continue the supreme, pastoral ministry which Christ the Lord entrusted to Peter.  Our Lord called Peter to be the “rock” on which his Church would be built; entrusted him with the keys of His Kingdom; and made him shepherd of the whole flock, calling him to confirm us in the faith (Mt 16:18; Jn 21:15-17; Lk 22:32).  We place our faith in the promises of Christ, not confusing the giftedness of the man with the promises attached to the office of Peter.  We know the Petrine ministry will continue in the Church until the end of time with one Pope following another.  More than once during my own journey around the Diocese I have been introduced as ‘Bishop Brian’, my own predecessor and our Emeritus Bishop.  It serves as a wonderful reminder that it does not matter who the bishop is, so long as he is your bishop! 

Our Catholic faith leads us to recognise and promise today, as I promised on the day I became a bishop, to be faithful, obedient and united under the authority of the Successor of the Apostle Peter (Rite for the Ordination of Bishops).  In the Catholic heart, there is not only a recognition of the vital ministry of the Pope, but a love for the Pope.  The Acts of the Apostles tells how the Church at the beginning prayed unceasingly to God for Peter (Acts 12:5).  

This Sunday, conscious of the awesome responsibility Pope Francis has accepted, we pray very much for the man called to take the place of Peter in our time.  On Wednesday 20th March I would ask every parish and community in the Diocese to join me in prayer and to offer Mass for the Holy Father.  I also invite you to offer some small sacrifice, some act of self-denial for our Holy Father and for the mission now entrusted to him.

It is significant that the announcement that we have a new Pope should be made from Vatican Hill where St Peter’s mortal remains were buried following his martyrdom.  Amid testing times, the Pope must always be ready to face a form of martyrdom.  The Pope is neither a politician nor a celebrity, but always a witness to the Truth, to the One who was crucified, to the faith handed down by the Apostles.  The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’ and describes those who suffer and die for Christ.  In these hopeful and challenging days, when the Church sees a great expansion of her life on a global scale, with more Catholics and more vocations than at any moment in her history, together with the sad phenomenon of the de-Christianisation of societies like our own, much is asked of the Pope. 

This moment surely invites us to renew personally our loyalty to the Pope chosen to guide the Church in these testing times.  In the faithful witness Pope Francis will give, often in the face of opposition, may you and I always stand steadfastly and courageously with St Peter’s Successor.  I ask you to renew this promise with me today.  I am certain there can be no progress for the Church in the Shrewsbury Diocese without this living, faithful, loving unity with the See of St Peter, with our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

May God bless our Pope and renew this love and unity in all our hearts,

+  Mark

Bishop of Shrewsbury

Thursday 14 March 2013

Pope Francis. Viva il Papa!

I was caught off guard by the quick election result last night. In fact, I was with a family of parishioners blessing their house and having supper when the news came through and we had to abandon the supper table for the TV. 

I'm amazed at some of the early reaction.  The dried up old pundits and the bemused journalists all desperately trying to look for an "angle", a "spin" just can't seem to get their heads round the fact that the Pope is the Pope is the Pope - of course the roman crowds were chanting "Viva il papa" before they even knew who it was.  It was enough to know he was the Holy Father.  The ordinary folk interviewed in St Peter's Square were able to put it far more plainly than the commentators and journalists; they all seemed to say, "I don't know anything about him but he will be a great Pope."  In other words, they trust the Holy Spirit.  There is an instinctive love of the successor of St Peter among the Catholic Faithful - and perhaps there is the clue - among the Catholic Faithful. They loved Pope Benedict, they loved Pope John Paul (I and II), they loved Pope Paul VI, they loved Pope John XXIII, they loved Pope Pius XII.

If you don't like this choice for Pope then either, you believe the Holy Spirit has been outwitted or you don't mind being in disagreement with the Holy Spirit.  Neither of these are positions I would like to put myself in.  None of the popes - from St Peter onwards - have been perfect.  Our Lord choose St Peter for his strengths and loved him despite his failures.  Can we do any less for any of his successors?

We might recall that some of the great English Martyrs gave their lives for the Faith and in defense of the Papacy at a time when not all its incumbents would have set the media alight with praise! (Sts Thomas More & John Fisher lived through the reign of Pope Alexander VI!)

Much is being made of the fact that as Archbishop, Cardinal Bergoglio lived in a small apartment.  Not much change for him there, as all the recent Popes have done the same; for although they are housed within the Vatican palace and conduct public events in those splendid surroundings, they live in a modest set of rooms as their personal space.  Much on the media as well about him travelling on the bus as Archbishop - Cardinal Ratzinger was also known for walking to work across Rome and being very approachable as he did so. The new Pope apparently has experience of "ordinary life", as his father worked for the railway.  The previous two incumbents of the Vatican did not exactly live lives unacquainted with difficulties. Again, the media and others are keen to emphasize differences rather than celebrate love of God and His Church.

Interestingly, according to Sandro Magister: "In the conclave of 2005... Bergoglio was one of the most decisive supporters of the appointment of Joseph Ratzinger as pope."

Cardinal Bergolio has taken the name Francis (for he is to be known as that, without the ordinal "the First"). Perhaps he had in mind: 
 - St Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits  - a great missionary to the East 
- St Francis Borgia, the third Superior General of the Jesuits (who was also the Duke of Gandia) was a great diplomat
- St Francis of Assisi, living the Gospel with great vigor but also a man with a fierce devotion to the person of the Pope.

To conclude with some words from Catherine of Sienna that could apply to any of the Popes:

I see that you have endowed your vicar
by nature with a fearless heart;
so I humbly, imploringly beg you
to pour the light beyond nature
into the eye of his understanding.
For unless this light,
acquired through pure affection for virtue,
is joined with it,
a heart such as his tends to be proud.

Today again let every selfish love be cut away
from those enemies of yours
and from your vicar
and from us all,
so that we may be able to forgive those enemies
when you bend their hardness.

For them, that they may humble themselves
and obey this lord of ours,
I offer you my life
from this moment
and for whenever you wish me to lay it down
for your glory.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Missa Cantata

Members of the Order of St Lazarus gathered in Farington yesterday to offer a 
Requiem for the repose of the soul of 
Mgr Pierre Boz, 
Protonotary Apostolic, 
Grand Prior Spiritual of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem 
and Patriarcal Exarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

The Absolution


 Members of the Order at prayer.

Thanks to our excellent  servers.

Friday 8 March 2013

Requiem for Mgr Pierre Boz

I will be offering a sung requiem in the Usus Antiquior tomorrow - Saturday 9th March - for the repose of the soul of Mgr Pierre Boz, who until his recent death was the Grand Prior Spiritual of the Order of St Lazarus, for which I am the Chaplain General in Great Britain.  I first met him in Venice in 2005 when His Eminence Cardinal Paskai became Spiritual Protector of the Order of St Lazarus but got to know him better in Orléans in November 2010 when our present Grand Master, Count Jan Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz was installed the Cathedral there in Mass presided over by Mgr Boz. On that occasion I had the privilege of proclaiming in English on behalf of the Count of Paris the statement of the Royal House of France's continuing protection of the Order.

Mgr Pierre Boz, Grand Prior Spiritual, Ecclesiastical Grand Cross, Patriarcal Exarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church,  Officer of the légion d'Honneur, died on February 15th in Paris at the age of 87.

Mgr Boz's family came from Trieste. This city lies on the Adriatic Sea between East and West and sums his whole life up. As a young White Father, he arrived in Algeria where he quickly became the assistant of Mgr Lacaste, Bishop of Oran. During the Second World War he volunteered, becoming Chaplain of the 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment. In 1962 he became the representative of Cardinal Feltin.

In 1965. Influenced by his family's Byzantine culture he put himself under the authority of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Maximos IV for whom he became the Patriarchal Exarch for France. The same year he was received as Chaplain of the Order of Saint Lazarus, the Patriarch being Protector of the Order.

 Mgr Boz was an academic deeply rooted in this North African culture and recognised by his peers for the global vision of his work. He was an  Arabic and Islamic scholar, very much attached to the Berber community.  Mgr Boz was attached to the diocese of Paris in the framework of the "pastorale des migrants" (An association giving spiritual  help to migrant people).

Chaplain of Saint Lazarus since 1965 he produced for several years a journal of the Order dedicated to ecumenism. He continuously accompanied the Members of the Grand Priory of France in their life of faith. Grand Prior Spiritual of the Order since 2010 he maintained the link with the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, thus preserving the memory of the protectorate of the Patriarchs, who carried out this task in the interim from 1841 to 2004.

Steeped in the spirituality of Saint Lazarus, Mgr Boz was untiring as Grand Prior Spiritual in his role of maintaining and teaching the spiritual life of the Order, especially through his "letters of Unity", the last issue of which has just been published. He always sought to pass his legacy down to us.   May the Lord grant him eternal rest in His heavenly Kingdom.

Mgr Boz and Lt Col Jourdain at the Investiture here at St Catherine's in 2011