Saturday 29 June 2013

Shadows from the misrepresentation of the Council

Archbishop Sample

The Sacra Liturgia Conference in Rome organized by Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, France came to an end yesterday.  One of the speakers was Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon.

In an interview with ZENIT ahead of the conference, Archbishop Sample, (I've posted about  him previously) who delivered an address on the roll of the diocesan bishop as governor, promoter, and guardian of liturgical life, spoke on the bishop's responsibility to renew and reform the Sacred Liturgy at the diocesan level:

This role, he said, "involves his threefold office as teacher, sanctifier and governor of the local Church entrusted to his pastoral care."
Archbishop Sample noted how this 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council provides the opportunity to revisit the council texts and re-examine its message with regard to the Sacred Liturgy. "We must be able to read again these beautiful teachings, but within a hermeneutic of reform in continuity, as Pope Benedict XVI called us to do. Much good has been accomplished, but there are shadows as well that have resulted from what I believe was a misinterpretation of the Council itself on the part of not a few. We need to be open and honest in our assessment of the fruitfulness of liturgical reform."
"By studying again the direction the Council Fathers gave," he said, "remembering the whole period that preceded the Council, we can, I hope, regain our bearings and steer the course of liturgical reform and renewal according to the true mind of the Council."
 In the years following the council, the archbishop said, the poor catechesis and faith formation created serious challenges in directing the faithful toward a proper understanding of what the liturgy is about. "We are beginning to regain some ground in this regard," Archbishop Sample continued, "but we have a long way to go. My generation and those younger are simply not well catechized and formed in the teachings of the Church. Not only does this impact our fundamental understanding of the mystery of our redemption in Christ, but even more so how that mystery is celebrated and made present in the holy Mass."
"If we do not fully understand what is happening in the holy sacrifice of the Mass," he said, "we cannot properly understand how to celebrate the sacred liturgy." 
When speaking of the true "full, active, and conscious" participation in the liturgy, called for by the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Sample said that this participation "must first be directed to this fundamental need for the faithful to understand the essential and intrinsic meaning of the Mass, helping them participate first on the level of the mind and heart."

Friday 28 June 2013

Sacra Liturgia Conference

Although I enjoyed the first liturgy conference two years ago in Rome, sadly I was not able to get to this years, which is taking place in Rome this week. From reports, it seems to be very good once again. Cardinal Ranjith once again has eminently sensible things to say. (HT Rorate Caeli)

Fr Ray Blake has a report from the talk of Australian academic Prof. Tracey Rowland.  Some quotes here:

 “I want to argue that the usus antiquior is an antidote to the ruthless attacks on memory and tradition and high culture, typical of the culture of modernity, and that it satisfies the desire of the post-modern generations to be embedded within a coherent, non-fragmented tradition that is open to the transcendent.”

“The project of the 1960's generation was one of transposing a high sacral language into the vernacular of a low mundane culture, with the result that something sacred became more mundane, and when the sacred becomes mundane, it becomes boring.”

“[The 1960's generation] dismantled a high Catholic culture by removing its cornerstone and they left subsequent generations of Catholics in a state of cultural poverty, confusion and boredom.”

“A Catholic who is ignorant of [the usus antiquior] is like a student who majors in English literature but is unfamiliar with Shakespeare.”

“[Benedict XVI] compared the pastoral strategy of bringing God down to the level of the people with the Hebrew’s worship of the golden calf and he described this practice as nothing less than a form of apostasy.”
“Elements of Catholic culture which were suppressed by the 1960's generation of pastoral leaders are being rediscovered by younger Catholics who treat them like treasures found in their grandmother’s attic.”

“Catholics of the post-modern generations want to know how the Church looked, how the faith was practiced, when there was a coherent Catholic culture.”

“The usus antiquior should be a standard element of the cultural capital of all Latin Rite Catholics since is so effectively resists secularism and satisfies the post-modern hunger for coherent order, beauty and an experience of self-transcendence.”

“To evangelise post-modern people [the Christian narrative] has to appear to be something starkly different from the secular culture they imbibe which is a culture parasitic upon the Christian tradition but completely decadent.”

Sunday 23 June 2013

The wonderful 1970's

Staff from "The Tablet" in their heyday.

I don't take the "Tablet" - the weekly supposedly Catholic journal.  Every so often they send me several copies for the parish, which are promptly filed in the place best suited to them.  I suspect that they send out quite a few of these each week to parishes up and down the country.  I wonder if these extra copies are included in their circulation figures?

Anyway, Deacon Nick reports that they are having yet another swipe at Pope Emeritus Benedict.  Two questions spring to mind:
When, oh when, are they going to give up this tired old nonsense?
When, oh when, is someone going to make them give it up - their board of trustees or the Bishop's Conference, for example.  Perhaps the European Court of Human Rights could do something about their hate-speak?

It's laughable if only it weren't so rude and unpleasant.  It reminded me of all those other old sitcoms from the 1970's.  You remember them - full of crude innuendo, embarrassing to watch now for their sexism and stereotypes of foreigners - "On the Buses", Don't drink the Water", "Mind your Language".  You couldn't get away with making such things now - well past their sell-by date.

Blakey from 'On the Buses' 
- horrified having just attended an EF Mass.

 'Don't Drink the Water'
- Dorothy gives Cyril a piece of her mind after he suggests welcoming the Ordinariate.

The 'Mind your Language' cast.
"European Court of Human Rights on line one, M/s Pepinster".


Let's face it - the Tablet is as hip as Hot Pants, Hula Hoops, and Hawaii 5 O.

 The Editor of the Tablet

Bored (sic) of Trustees

Typical Tablet readers

Saturday 22 June 2013


The Grand Prior The Much Honoured Baron of Fetternear MBE GCLJ GCMLJ JP 
presents a cheque for £10,000 to 
Mr Pradeep Amirthanayagam, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of SUROL; 

This week Mr Pradeep Amirthanayagam visited St Catherine's.  He is the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of SUROL, the Sri Lankan organisation the Order of St Lazarus here in Great Britain work to support. By good fortune he was able to come across the Pennines from deepest Yorkshire where he has been visiting family members and spend some time with members of the Order. We were very happy to have the opportunity of presenting him with a cheque for SUROL for £10,000, some of which has been raised by parishioners here at St Catherine's.

Since the end of the strife in the north of Sri Lanka, in the Tamil area that was formerly inaccessible to them, SUROL has discovered a whole new clientèle of those suffering from leprosy that they are now trying to assist.  Their outreach work has effectively doubled.

Friday 21 June 2013

Saint John Paul soon?

Blessed Pope John Paul at the church of St Cecilia.

Rumours are going round that Blessed Pope John Paul will be declared a saint later this year.  An Italian newspaper says that the Congregation for Causes of Saints has approved a second miracle that will "amaze the world".  Yesterday the "Telegraph" reported that this second miracle occurred on the very day of his beatification.  The on-line version gives no further detail but the actual newspaper claims that it is the healing of a Costa Rican woman who was cured of a severe brain injury after her family began praying to Blessed Pope John Paul.

Thursday 20 June 2013

He'll be calling a Council next!

Following in the footsteps of Blessed John XXIII it seems that the name of St Joseph is to appear in all the Eucharistic Prayers. A good thing.  Many of the prayers off the Mass (and indeed many other prayers generally) used to include the names of the saints - St Joseph, Ss Peter and Paul, St Andrew, Holy Michael the Archangel, to name but a few.  The complete expunging of the names of saints from the Mass are one of the losses of the new Mass.  I am glad that Pope Francis is showing himself a restorer in this area and following in the footsteps of Blessed Pope John XXIII.  There do appear to be some similarities - the "smiling" popes (although I think that I did see Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul smile on occasion - perhaps I'm mistaken) the "man of the people", even a slight similarity in look, similar age.  Let's hope he's not thinking of suddenly calling a Council!

Of course, it's also possible that this was long in the planning and was initiated under Pope Benedict.

Like the new translation, this smaller move is laudable and a help to bringing the liturgy back into some continuity with our Tradition but will many priests simply ignore it?  I know of places where the new translation is not being used at all. Where it is being used, in many places words are changed and bits from the old translation are substituted (or others completely).  At a Mass where a bishop was present just recently, it was impossible to join in with concelebration, as the celebrant varied the words too much (not that I would be concelebrating, you understand!)

Unfortunately, the mindset of liturgical abuse - that "I" know better than the Church has not been addressed.  We will have to wait for a better formed generation of priests to come up through he ranks.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Corpus Christi Benediction

A little late but here are some photos of Benediction on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Zeal for souls

Cardinal Piacenza addressed a letter to seminarians for the Feast of the Sacred Heart (cf Zenit) and as usual it is great stuff.  Equally applying to priests, of course. I thought it worth reproducing in full below - with my own thoughts.

Dearest Seminarians,

            On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate most significantly the day for the sanctification of priests and, as you are in the Seminary to respond in the most fitting way possible to your vocation, it is important for me to send you this letter, with great affection, so that you may feel involved and, as such, remember this important occasion.

            We contemplate together today the origin of the divine vocation. The Holy Father has emphasised firmly the love in which those who are Priests of Christ and of the Church must participate. In his homily at his first Chrism Mass (28 March 2013), Pope Francis said “This I ask you: be shepherds, with the ‘odour of the sheep’”. By this striking image, the Successor of Peter invites us to have a strong and solid love for the People of God, a love which – as the same Pontiff has noted – is not fed from purely human sources, nor is it reinforced by techniques of self-persuasion. It is the personal encounter with the Lord; it is keeping alive the knowledge of having been called by Him, who gives the truly greater supernatural strength to be Priests in the image of the Good Shepherd of all, Christ Jesus. But in order to be such tomorrow, you have to prepare yourselves today. In very clear words, Pope Francis has referred to the primacy of grace in the priestly life: “It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live our priestly life going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimise the power of grace”.  [Spiritual formation for priests and seminarians, of which there are many types, yet so many diocese and Orders continue to ape the world with secular models of personality profiles and the like.]

For the disciple walking with Christ, walking in grace, means taking on with spiritual joy the weight of the priestly cross. [I think many priests bear various crosses very quietly in their daily lives with little help but from the Lord.- when some fail we should be the last to judge].  We hear again the Holy Father teaching about this: “When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly” (Homily at the Holy Mass with the Cardinals, 14 March 2013). On the contrary, to live our ministry as a service to Christ crucified, prevents us from understanding the Church as a human organisation “a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord”.  [I think its great that Pope Francis has said this outright, as the model of the Church as principally a charitable organisation is one that is very prevalent - indeed in some parishes and schools you might believe that the Church was a subsiduary of CAFOD.]

            In the light of these first magisterial teachings of Pope Francis, I invite you to consider your life as a gift of God and, at the same time, a task which has been entrusted to you, not simply by men but – albeit by way of the necessary mediation by the Church – ultimately by the Lord himself, who has a plan for your life and for the lives of the brothers and sisters whom you will be called to serve.

            It is necessary to view the whole of our life in terms of a divine call, and also of a generous human response. This involves cultivating within ourselves the vocational sense, which interprets life as a continual dialogue with the Lord Jesus, risen and alive. In every age, Christ has called and continues to call men to follow him more closely by participating in his priesthood – that implies that, in every period of the history of the Church, the Lord has held a vocational dialogue with the faithful that He has chosen, so that they may be his representatives among the people of God, as well as mediators between heaven and earth, particularly in the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments. In fact, one can say that the liturgy opens heaven wide here on earth.  [What a beautiful description of the priesthood.]

            On this basis, you are called through ordination – without any merit of your own [That's for certain!] – to be mediators between God and his people and to make possible the salvific encounter through the celebration of the divine mysteries. [Salvation is encountered through the Sacraments.] Notwithstanding your own limits, you have responded to this call with generosity and joy. It is important that you always keep alive the sense of youthfulness in your hearts: “We must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. Dear young people! With Christ, the heart never grows old” (POPE FRANCIS, Homily for Palm Sunday, 24 March 2013, no. 3).  [The youthfulness of the Church has been one of Pope Benedict's ongoing themes as well, of course.]

The youthfulness of the priestly spirit, firm in its vocation, is guaranteed by prayer, that is the continually maintained attitude of interior silence which favours listening to God every day. This continual opening of the heart happens, naturally, within a stability that – once the fundamental life decisions have been taken – is capable, with the help of grace, to remain faithful to the tasks which have been solemnly accepted, right up to the end of our earthly life. However, this necessary stability does not imply closing our ear to the ongoing call of God, because the Lord, while confirming us every day in our fundamental vocation, is always at the door of our heart knocking (cf. Acts 3:30), waiting for us to open it to Him with the same generosity with which we said to him our first “fiat”, imitating the availability of the Ever Virgin Mother of God (cf. Lk. 1:38). We can, therefore, never place limits on the plan that God has for us and that he will communicate to us day after day, throughout the whole of our life.

            This vocational openness also represents the most certain way to live evangelical joy. It is, in fact, the Lord who will make us truly happy. Our joy does not come from mundane satisfaction, which makes us briefly happy and quickly disappears, as St. Ignatius of Loyola noted in his first spiritual discernment (cf. Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings of 31 July, II Reading). Our joy is Christ! In the daily dialogue with Him, our spirit is reassured and continually renews our passion and our zeal for the salvation of souls.  [When did I last hear a bishop speak of the zeal for the salvation of souls?]

This prayerful dimension of the priestly vocation reminds us of still more very important aspects. First among them is the fact that vocations grow not principally from a pastoral strategy, but above all through prayer. As Jesus taught: “Pray... the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk. 10:2). Commenting on these evangelical words, Pope Benedict XVI noted: “We cannot simply ‘produce’ vocations; they must come from God. This is not like other professions; we cannot simply recruit people by using the right kind of publicity or the correct type of strategy.  [Vocations seem to grow in diocese where many other things are being done correctly - liturgy, a proper respect for hierarchy and good order through putting the Catechism and the Church's law into practice, instead of ignoring it and inventing ever more new strategies and talking shops.] The call which comes from the heart of God must always find its way into the heart of man” (Meeting with Priests and Permanent Deacons of Bavaria. 14 September 2006). You, dear Seminarians, have been called by the Lord, but many people spread throughout the world have supported and are supporting your response with their prayers and their sacrifices. Be grateful for this and unite yourselves to these prayers and sacrifices to support other responses to vocations. To the primacy of prayer can then be added, as a channel of this divine grace, the sound, motivated and enthusiastic vocational pastoral action on the part of the Church. With regard to this ecclesial collaboration with the divine work of giving pastors to the People of God and the Mystical Body of Christ, it is appropriate to remember briefly a few matters that mark it out, that is: respect for priestly vocations, the witness of the lives of Priests, the specific work of Seminary formators.

It is first of all necessary that the Church appreciates you for your priestly vocation, [Ordinary priests perhaps don't always feel this appreciation.] considering that the Community of the disciples of Christ cannot exist without the service of the sacred ministers. [Although I have heard people, even priests in my own diocese, speak as though this were an ideal to be striven for - the priestless parish.]  From this comes the care, attention and reverence for the priesthood. Secondly, vocations are highly favoured, as can be seen from the example and the care that the priests offer them. It would be difficult for an exemplary priest not to stimulate the question in the minds of young people: could I not also be called to a wonderful and happy life like this? Particularly in this way, Priests are channels through which God makes the divine call resound in the heart of those He has chosen. Priests then will nurture the seeds of vocation that begin to spring in the souls of the young, by means of sacramental Confession, spiritual direction, preaching and pastoral enthusiasm. I am sure that many of you will be witnesses to and beneficiaries of this.

            I would, furthermore, like to say a word about the important role of those priests to whom the Bishops entrust your formation. The Seminary formators are called to continue and to deepen the care for priestly vocations, while they provide all the required help for the necessary personal discernment of every candidate. As to this, we must remember the two principles which must guide the evaluation of vocations: the friendly welcome and the just severity. While every prejudice as well as every rigorsim should be avoided in the treatment of seminarians, on the other hand it is of the greatest importance to guard carefully against laxism and carelessness in judgment. The Church certainly needs Priests, but not any kind of Priest! The love that welcomes must therefore accompany the truth which judges with clarity whether, for a particular candidate, the signs of a vocation and the human qualities necessary for a trustworthy response to it are present. The pastoral urgency of the Church cannot be permitted to bring about haste in conferring the sacred ministry. On the contrary, where there is doubt, it is better to take the time necessary and carry out appropriate evaluations, which will not exclude the dismissal of those candidates who are not able to offer sufficient guarantees.

            My dearest Seminarians, with these brief comments, I have endeavoured to redirect our spiritual attention to the immense gift and to the absolutely free mystery of our special vocation. We entrust to the intercession of our most holy Mother Mary and of St. Joseph the gifts of fidelity and of perseverance in the divine call that, by pure grace, they may be bestowed upon us and that we may seek to respond to the divine generosity, which always sends pastors for the flock with renewed apostolic zeal. Keep persevering, always remembering that we show our love in this world by our fidelity.

            I remember you each day in prayer with great affection, and I implore the Lord to send down his divine benediction upon you.

Mauro Cardinal Piacenza

Prefect Congregation for the Clergy

Sunday 9 June 2013

The Mysterious Cheese Man

One of the young altar servers at the EF Mass revealed today that he is a budding animator.  The evil genius behind MegaGill74  - including the "Mysterious Cheese Man" adventures, the first of which is that posted here.  You can watch the others on You Tube at the above link.  

Please note that there is no connection between having a secret life as a creator of outlandish super heroes and serving the Traditional Mass.....probably!

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Churches not fit for purpose

From the "Telegraph" site comes news that the Cardinal in charge of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture thinks too many modern churches are not built with the worship of God primarily in mind. (Biretta tip to my friend in the USA who sent me the link.)  He tells of the priest who had to take his own statue of the Madonna to church because the architect hadn't bothered to include one. Incidentally, there was no statue of the Madonna in my own present church when I arrived!  I've never understood why the Church has tried to imitate the buildings of the society around it in the modern age.  It speaks of following the world instead of proclaiming an alternative. There was a time when the greatest of architecture was embodied in ecclesiastical buildings and because the Spirit had inspired such magnificence, the world copied the Church, so law courts, palaces and town halls looked like churches.  Now churches look like supermarkets and doctors waiting rooms.  How sad.
Opposition is mounting in the Holy See to a spate of recent, ultra-modern churches, in Italy and abroad, by high profile architects.
"The lack of integration between the architect and the faith community has at times been negative," said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's Pontificial Council for Culture. "Sometimes it goes wrong."
Cardinal Ravasi said a church built in 2009 in Foligno, Italy by the celebrated Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, which resembles a monolithic concrete cube, has been "highly criticised".
In his native town of Merate in Lombardy, Cardinal Ravasi said the local priest needed to bring his own image of the Madonna to mass, because Mario Botta, the architect who designed the church, had not installed one.
"The problem is that in Catholicism, unlike Protestantism, things like the altar, the images, are essential, while architects tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound," said Cardinal Ravasi.  The last architects to work closely with the church were back in the 17th century Baroque era, he added.
Cardinal Ravasi's attack was backed last month by Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican museums, when he spoke at the launch of a book celebrating the building of dozens of new churches in the suburbs of Rome since the 1990s.
Instead of praising the churches, Mr Paolucci lashed out, claiming that: "At best, these are like museums, spaces that do not suggest prayer or meditation."
Cardinal Ravasi conceded that one of Rome's most controversial new churches – Richard Meier's Jubilee Church, which resembles a yacht with spinnakers hoisted – had won over locals, but complained that "the building materials were the focus of pre-construction meetings, not the liturgical life".
 Cardinal Ravasi wants to wave "Bye Bye" to some of those awful modern churches.
Cardinal Ravasi was speaking after inaugurating the Vatican's first ever art exhibit at the Venice Biennale on Saturday, which focuses on the Book of Genesis through photography and paintings by a Los Angeles artist, Lawrence Carroll, who uses melting ice in one work.
Vatican officials believe the show can help heal what they call a century old "fracture" between religion and art, and Cardinal Ravasi said the Church now had its sights on commissioning modern liturgical art, for installing in churches.
"The Venice Biennale exhibit has been the first step on a journey," he said. "Further down the line could come liturgical art, meaning we could commission modern artists to create altars, fonts, tabernacles, lecterns, pews and kneelers," he added.
But after letting modern architects push the envelope too far, the Church will keep a wary eye on liturgical art commissions, he said.  "We will need to build up dialogue with artists before we commission any liturgical art," he said.

 The interior of the "church".  Building a church that takes no account of what is to happen inside it  would seem to rather defeat the purpose of the whole venture.

Corpus Christi

Last Thursday I offered Missa Cantata for the Corpus Christi, which was a lovely and prayerful celebration.  A parishioner took some photographs which I share with you here.  We enjoyed a more earthly celebration afterwards as well with a small Reception in the Pope John Paul Room - a glass or two of wine to wash down the dressed crab and smoked salmon!

We did have a procession and outdoor Benediction on Sunday as well.  I'm hoping some photographs will whizz their way through he ether to me in due course.