Saturday 29 March 2014

Order of St Lazarus in Liverpool

Some members gathering for the procession into church.

Members of the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem gathered for the annual Chapter Meeting at Our Lady, Star of the Sea church in Seaforth Village last weekend.  It was great to hear that our Priory, which is numerically very small in Great Britain compared with many other countries, has given £20,000 to charitable causes over the course of the last year. Some further photos and details here.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Chuck out the chintz

With all the excitement (?) about a new Archbishop here in Liverpool diocese last week I almost missed a little snippet on the Bishops' Conference website reminding us that this coming Pentecost is the end of the period of grace allowing the old English translations for musical setting of the Mass to be used. From Pentecost all musical settings in English must conform to the new translation.  I'm sure those parishes who have been behind the times in moving over to these will be putting lots of effort into keeping up with the times and chucking out all those rather dowdy chintzy old 1970's melodies.
"The Bishops of England and Wales have fixed the end date of the transitional period for implementing music in the new translation of the Roman Missal which was introduced in 2011. As from Pentecost Sunday, 8 June 2014 only settings of the Ordinary of the Mass using the new translation are permitted to be sung at Mass. Settings using the previous translation or paraphrased texts may no longer be used in our parishes, schools and communities."

A quick search on You Tube will give you a great many examples. This one below is an example of settings which were not faithful even to the old translation!

After that you may need something more uplifting.  So the simplest thing is just to learn the Mass in its "proper" setting and then the words never change. This setting seems to have lasted for a few years.  Not chintzy at all - more noble simplicity!

Friday 21 March 2014

New Archbishop for Liverpool

Bishop Malcolm celebrating Solemn Vespers at Merton College Chapel.
(Photo courtesy of Lawrence Lew, OP)

Welcome to Archbishop Elect, 
Malcolm Patrick McMahon
as the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool.

Born on 14th June 1949, he became the ninth Bishop of Nottingham on 8th December 2000 and will be the ninth Archbishop of Liverpool. Although born in London, he studied in Manchester (mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology) in his youth, and worked briefly as a parish Priest in Newcastle upon Tyne before being elected as Prior Provincial of the Dominicans in 1992 and 1996.

Our Lady Immaculate - Pray for us.
St Joseph - Pray for us.
St Kentigern - Pray for us.

Thanks to Pope Francis that the two new latest bishops (Fr Robert Byrne last week) for England and Wales are both men who are friends of the Traditional Form of the Mass. 

Further here on the announcement from the Bishops' Conference website.

Bishop Malcolm celebrating Pontifical Mass in the Chapel of Ratcliffe College.
(Courtesy of Joseph Shaw)

I noted in a previous post that Bishop Malcolm wrote the following about the celebration of the Mass:

When I was a boy most people went to Mass with a missal in their hands, or devotional books like The Treasury of the Sacred Heart, which helped them to follow the Mass and to participate in it. There was a general trend in those days, going back to Pope St Pius X (d. 1914), urging the faithful to ‘participate actively’ in the Mass. In the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council (or Vatican II) took up and continued the same theme.

Back then, of course, Mass was in Latin. People used their missals to understand more deeply the prayers of the Mass, and they also knew how to sing in Latin. At the very least Latin is as important for our culture and worship as Hebrew is for the Jewish people. Since Vatican II, Mass in the vernacular language (English in our case) has become widespread, but it began as, and remains, a concession. Vatican II envisaged that the Mass would ordinarily be celebrated in Latin, and it stressed the need for the faithful to be able to say or sing together in Latin the parts of the Mass which pertain to them, and it commended the use of Gregorian chant, saying that it should be given pride of place in liturgical functions.

More recently, in the autumn of 2005, bishops from around the world gathered in Rome for an Extraordinary Synod to mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist. The bishops put a series of suggestions to Pope Benedict, one of which proposed that Mass at international gatherings should be in Latin, and ‘that the possibility of educating the faithful in this way [should] not be overlooked.’ The pope responded with his exhortation Sacramentum caritatis in 2007 in which he endorsed this particular proposition in its entirety. Many of our parishes are fortunate to be able to welcome Catholics from all over the globe and from a wide range of language groups, making Mass often a truly international gathering which manifests the catholicity of our Church. Many of our parishioners are fortunate enough to be able to travel abroad, going to Mass at international gatherings. On these occasions the catholic, i.e. universal, nature of the Church becomes especially apparent, and it is most appropriate to celebrate this by the use of Latin, the official and universal language in the Western Church, and to sing our timeless heritage of Gregorian chant.

It is a mistake to assume that the Mass should be translated into simple English, because the Mass never is and never can be fully understood. Even a translation should give us a glimpse of the unsearchable beauty of God. The Mass is a mystery whose depths we can never plumb, whose treasures we can never exhaust, all the while drawing more riches and grace for us. Pope Benedict reminds us that it is God’s gift and God’s work, or it is nothing at all. To emphasize the central position of Christ in the Mass, the Pope asks us to ‘turn towards the Lord’, Conversi ad Dominum – the ancient call to prayer in the early Church:
‘The idea that the priest and people should stare at one another during prayer was born only in modern Christianity, and is completely alien to the ancient Church. The priest and people most certainly do not pray one to the other, but to the one Lord. Therefore, they stare in the same direction during prayer: either towards the east as a cosmic symbol of the Lord who comes, or, where this is not possible, towards the image of Christ in the apse, towards a crucifix, or simply towards the heavens, as our Lord Himself did in his priestly prayer the night before His Passion (cf. John 17.1). In the meantime the proposal made by me... is fortunately becoming more and more common: rather than proceeding with further transformations, simply to place the crucifix at the centre of the altar, which both priest and the faithful can face and be led in this way towards the Lord, whom everyone addresses in prayer together.’
The image of our crucified Lord on the altar does not obstruct the priest from the sight of the faithful, for they are not to look to the celebrant at that point in the Mass. The priest is not more important than the Lord; we are to turn our gaze towards the Lord. These are norms which should become widespread if we are to worship more in keeping with the mind of the Church, and expressed by Vatican II. Pope Benedict adds, 
‘The Eucharistic celebration is enhanced when priests and liturgical leaders are committed to making known the current liturgical texts and norms. Perhaps we take it for granted that our ecclesial communities already know and appreciate these resources, but this is not always the case. These texts contain riches which have preserved and expressed the faith and experience of the People of God over its two thousand year history.’ (Sacramentum caritatis, 40)

For the faithful to participate actively at Mass, as has been mandated by successive popes as well as the Second Vatican Council, they must be familiar with the texts and chants.

Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, O.P.
Bishop of Nottingham 
Memorial of St Scholastica, 2010 

Thursday 20 March 2014

Bishop Malcolm McMahon Liverpool bound?

Bishop Malcolm McMahon, OP of the Diocese of Nottingham is the hot tip to be the new Archbishop of Liverpool.  From my point of view, this is good news. I have known Bishop Malcolm for a number of years, he was kind to me in a time of need (plus, he makes a good cup of coffee!).  He has a broad vision of the Church, which ministers to the charismatic as well as the Traditional (not that I necessarily see that there should be any boundary between those two!)  For many on the Traditional side of things, his appointment would be good news as he actually celebrates (as a Bishop) the ancient Form of the Mass.  I pray that he will act as a true father to this diocese and renew us in the Faith. We need a big man with a big heart for the job.

Keep an eye out for any announcements from Liverpool Cathedral tomorrow morning.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Congratulations to Fr Robert Byrne, CO

Fr Robert at his Silver Jubilee in 2010

Congratulations to Fr Robert Byrne of the Oratory, who has been appointed as the new Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.  What a splendid appointment of a kind, pastoral and orthodox priest.

Fr Robert Byrne said:

‘I am deeply honoured and humbled that the Holy Father, Pope Francis has appointed me as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. His example will continue to inspire and shape my ministry in Birmingham, especially to serve the poor, the marginalised and those who may feel alienated from God and society.  In the spirit of St Philip Neri – the founder of the Oratory and a saint with a great sense of humour – I am committed to helping share the joy of the Gospel message with others.

‘I began my priestly ministry in Birmingham twenty nine years ago and I look forward to renewing my friendships and to making my home once again in this great city.  I have a great love for the Malvern Hills and the music of Elgar, so was particularly pleased when I learned that my ministry would include the pastoral care of the Worcestershire deaneries.

‘I have been richly blessed in these years by the people that I have met and the work that I’ve been asked to do – as a parish priest, in prison chaplaincy, and latterly as the Bishops’ Conference National Ecumenical Officer. I look forward to building upon this experience and to working closely with other Christians and people of all faiths and none.

‘I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my Oratorian community for their priestly example, friendship and support. I shall miss them greatly and also the parishioners of St Aloysius parish in Oxford.

‘Blessed John Henry Newman, the founder of the English Oratory has inspired me as a priest.  I hope in some way to be able to follow his example, particularly in the care and love that he showed for his priests and people.

‘I know I can count on the prayer, co-operation and support of the people, the religious and the priests of the diocese. I look forward to working with and learning from Archbishop Bernard and Bishops William and David.

‘I ask for the prayers of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the Diocese, together with St Chad and Blessed John Henry Newman as I begin my new ministry as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.’

Archbishop Bernard Longley said:

‘I am immensely grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Fr Robert Byrne Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.  From his time at the Birmingham Oratory and as Provost of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Robert has come to know our Archdiocese well.

‘Having worked alongside him in recent years as the Bishops’ Conference Ecumenical Officer, I know that he will bring considerable pastoral, theological and administrative skills to his new responsibilities as a bishop.  Above all I am grateful that he brings the spirituality of St Philip Neri, the founder of the Oratory, to enrich his ministry among us.

‘I know that everybody in the Archdiocese, and especially in his pastoral area of Birmingham and Worcestershire, will join me in asking for the prayers of Fr Robert’s fellow Oratorian, Blessed John Henry Newman, as he now prepares for his episcopal ordination in May.

‘I also wish to record my abiding gratitude to Bishop Philip Pargeter for continuing to serve the Archdiocese with great dedication in recent years and for the support and friendship he has so generously given me.’

To arrange media interviews please contact Maggie Doherty on 07760 251 954

Fr Robert Byrne – Biography

22 September 1956    Born in Manchester, the youngest son of Sidney and Monica Byrne


St Bede’s College, Manchester
King’s College, London (BD and BD AKC)
Pontifical College of St Thomas Aquinas, Rome

1980 Entered Birmingham Oratory
1985 Ordained priest
1984-1988 Chaplain, St Philip’s College, Edgbaston
1990 Founder, Oxford Oratory
1993-2011 Provost
1990-1999 Parish Priest, St Aloysius Parish, Oxford
2000-2011 Secretary of the Permanent Deputation of the International Federation of the Congregations of the Oratory
1996-date Trustee and Governor of Oratory School
1988-date Prison chaplain

Fr Robert Byrne will become the titular bishop of Cuncacestre

Monday 10 March 2014

This is a tremendously beautiful experience

I discovered this homily over at the LMS Wrexhan blog.  On March 1, 2014 Archbishop Alexander Sample of the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon celebrated a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Brigittine Monastery "Our Lady of Consolation" in Amity, Oregon. The Mass was the crowning celebration of a 3-day conference on Gregorian Chant and the role of sacred music in the liturgy. Filmed and Edited by Marc Salvatore.

Speaking of offering the Traditional Mass Archbishop Sample says, "This is a tremendously beautiful experience."  he says that as a bishop his thoughts were, "I am a bishop: I must know this rite."

"The reform (of the Second Vatican Council) had gone off track and needed to be reconnected with the Church's past, with Her Tradition; with the beauty of this liturgy. This liturgy is ancient, ancient!"

It's quite a long sermon but well worth listening to - if only for the novelty value hearing a bishop say in public what is the plain teaching of the Church about the Traditional Form of the Mass, about Gregorian Chant and the eastward orientation of the Mass.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

The Holy Face of Jesus

 The Image

We celebrated a lovely Mass yesterday evening for the  Holy Face of Jesus. I was introduced to the Devotion by my friends who run the Cenacle - an on-line Catholic Books and Gifts store.

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

This devotion is said to have the twofold purpose of Reparation for blasphemy and Reparation for the profanation of Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation.  Relevant indeed for our days!

The Offertory

 The Consecration

Monday 3 March 2014

Start of Lent

Some Parish Lenten information.

Shrove Tuesday 4th March 

7pm Low Mass (EF) in honour of the Holy Face of Jesus.
Light refreshments afterwards.


Ash Wednesday 5th March

9.30am Mass with the distribution of Ashes (OF)

11am Distribution of Ashes for children and parents 

at St Catherine's Primary School

7pm Mass with the distribution of Ashes (OF)


Thursday 6th March (and each Thursday of Lent)

Stations of the Cross (St Alphonsus version)

Sunday 2 March 2014

Vespers for St Chad


I assisted at First Vespers and Benediction for the Feast of St Chad yesterday evening with the Oratorian Community in Manchester (one of five coped ministers assisting!)  As usual the Community there accomplished the ars celebranda with their usual understated panache - managing elaborate ritual with a noble simplicity and no-nonsense style.  The church has an excellent acoustic, so the chant and polyphony sounded very well indeed from the accomplished singers who assist there.  I didn't really have very much to do, so it was rather pleasant to soak up the atmosphere of prayer and reverence.  

I didn't get any photographs on the night, so those shown here were taken at other times. The Community is in the process of restoring the church, which has been neglected over the years. I pray that  the Good Lord will bring them the means to carry out this great work in an area where the presence of the beauty, love and hope of the Faith is so much needed.

It was lovely to hear the Prayer for England from the old manual of Prayers, which I often use myself:

O MERCIFUL God, let the glorious intercession of Thy saints assist us, particularly the most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy only-begotten Son, and Thy holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, to whose patronage we humbly recommend this country. Be mindful of our fathers, Eleutherius, Celestine, and Gregory, bishops of the Holy City; of Augustine, Columba, Aidan and Chad who delivered to us inviolate the faith of the Holy Roman Church. Remember our holy martyrs, who shed their blood for Christ: especially our first martyr, Saint Alban, and Thy most glorious bishop, Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Remember all those holy confessors; bishops, and kings, all those holy monks and hermits, all those holy virgins and widows, who made this once an island of saints, illustrious by their glorious merits and virtues. Let not their memory perish from before Thee, O Lord, but let their supplication enter daily into Thy sight; and do Thou, who didst so often spare Thy sinful people for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, now, also, moved by the prayers of our fathers, reigning with Thee, have mercy upon us, save Thy people, and bless Thy inheritance; and suffer not those souls to perish, which Thy Son hath redeemed with His own most Precious Blood, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen.

Let us pray.
O most loving Lord Jesus, Who, hanging on the Cross, didst commend us all in the person of Thy disciple John, to Thy most sweet Mother, that we might find in her our refuge, our solace, and our hope; look graciously upon our beloved country, and on those who are bereaved of so powerful a patronage; that, acknowledging once more the dignity of this holy Virgin, they may honour and venerate her with all affection of devotion, and own her as Queen and Mother. May her sweet name be lisped by the little ones, and linger on the lips of the aged and the dying; and may it be invoked by the afflicted, and hymned by the joyful; that this Star of the Sea being their protection and their guide, all may come to the harbour of eternal salvation. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Church rather poorly

Fr Gary Dickson at Collar and Tie has a thoughtful post on the Church being sick - and of, course, the remedy She must take to get better.

Some of his thoughts echo my own in my post from last Friday, such as this:
Authentic, Christ-centred pastoral care is to hold fast to agape; it is “to do the truth with charity” (Eph.4v15). We urgently need to learn how to present the truth in ways which demonstrate understanding of why a person has made the choices they have made while we proclaim the Truth in tones and attitudes that are inoffensive yet clear and certain. Sadly, during my time in seminary the great “discovery” in pastoral care was “grey areas”. To paraphrase what we were told: “Yes the Church teaches this or that, but it cannot be applied in all situations” -which means that in some situations God’s truth has to be adapted (or give way altogether) so that we may give non-judgmental, unconditional positive-regard to the person, their needs, and their ability to respond to the Truth.

Among other things, he focusses on the liturgy:
In regard to liturgy, we thought great things were being achieved by increasing the amount of scripture read at Mass; by bringing the laity into ecclesial ministries, and by giving way to cultural adaptation. Each of these has proved damaging. Bringing in more scripture only swamped us with it, so that many folk leaving Mass cannot tell you what the readings were about; increasing lay ecclesial ministries only brought about a loss of focus on the authentic vocation of the laity as the leaven in the world, while cultural adaptation only engendered a liturgy attuned to man and his changing way of life.
Iv'e said before how we seem to have a collective blind spot about the condition of the Church. As Churches, seminaries, monasteries and convents close there is no sense of crisis about any of this. To use the sickness motif, it seems that we've accepted the Church is in terminal decline and can only now receive palliative care; make the patient comfortable and manage the decline.  

However, the Church cannot be a terminal case! She may be sick (and in various times and various parts has suffered and recovered from any number of serious maladies) but She remains sound at Her core. This is Our Lord's own promise. But then, part of the problem is that we have "educated" ourselves into not really believing that the Gospels contain any of the actual words of the historical Jesus (a strange phrase to coin for the purpose of generally undermining any actual historical validity, but that's an old trick of the Devil's). Along with this we've talked the miracles out of existence and teaching, dogma and liturgy have all undergone a similar relativistic dumbing down.  This leaves us with nothing substantial to offer, no unique selling point; a theology of nice that with all the staying power and charm of a gummy bear.

We are always told by the medical profession these days that a positive outlook is very important for the recovery of a sick patient. They must believe they can get better - and the evidence says that we don't believe that.  Part of the recovery must be the recovery of a sense of who we are and that what we have to offer is valuable - indeed necessary - to the world.  I have heard the Popes of my lifetime, each in their own way preach this wholesome remedy but while the person of the Pope has often been welcomed, his message has not been taken on board.  This goes for Pope Francis as much as for Pope Benedict and Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Let's give up the gummy bears for Lent (and forever) and start taking some real medicine.

Pope John Paul II:  

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

Pope Benedict:

“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”

Pope Francis:

In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols

Following on from my post about the frequency of receiving Holy Communion (not just for those who are remarried after divorce) I was interested to read the comments of Cardinal Nichols. In an interview after being created Cardinal, which can be read here, Vincent Nichols in answer to a question about  those separated and remarried,  said:
We have to go back and look again at place of the Eucharist in relation to the whole life of church and spiritual life of any person or couple. And make it possible that somehow the identification between receiving Eucharist and being a faithful Catholic isn’t as important it is now. When I was growing up, there was a more reserved approach to the Eucharist. It made demands on us. To receive the Eucharist was the high point. There must be ways in which people can live a very fruitful life in the church even if for the public reasons we all understand they might not have access to the Eucharist.