Tuesday 27 May 2014

Mass for Ascension Thursday

Missa Cantata at 7pm 
Ascension Thursday 
St Catherine Labouré

Viri Galilaei, quid admirámini aspiciéntes in cælum? 
Quæmádmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in caelum, 
ita veniet, 

Monday 26 May 2014

Happy Feast Day - St Philip Neri

I had a kind invitation to Mass for the Feast of St Philip from the Oratorian Community in Manchester. Some lovely music - Missa Bell'Amfitrit altrera by Roland de Lassus.  The choir were accompanied by brass rather than the organ, which had a very charming effect.  If you find good music and noble liturgy a help to praying at Mass and live anywhere near Manchester, this is the place to go!

Fr Paul Chavasse, Cong. Orat. gave the sermon enumerating the qualities of St Philip which we might to well to follow. I was pleased to see how full the church was, considering it was a Bank Holiday Monday morning! The good fathers must be doing something right!

St Philip ablaze with votive candles. I always find stories of his character rather lovely. 
There's a brief biography here. 

Latin Mass Society One Day Conference

Jospeh Shaw, the LMS Chairman, introduces Bishop Athanasius Schnieder.  As always, the bishop spoke plainly and simply and yet with great effect. He was there for the whole day  despite not having a moment to himself in between being photographed and signing copies of his excellent new book "Corpus Christi".
"Healing the heart of the life of the Church in our days requires a healing in the manner in which we treat the Eucharistic Jesus in the sacred host."
I was surprised that Bishop Schnieder remembered me from our last meeting in Rome. We discussed the coincidence that his episcopal ring bears the image of the Miraculous Medal - my parish being St Catherine Labouré! 

The thought of trek up to London for the Conference with all the ensuing costs and difficulties of getting about the overcrowded city is not  one I always relish (and indeed, having taken the train in order not to have to pay £90 to park the car for the day, I had a journey back on Virgin Trains that won't encourage me to risk it again!)  However, one of the principal reasons I made the trek up was to catch up with Joseph Pearce, whose latest book, "Race with the Devil"  charts his conversion from BNP activist to the Catholic Faith via the literary inspirations of Chesterton and Belloc. He's always interesting to listen to - enthusing or disagreeing over the great Catholic authors (And yes, we include Shakespeare among those!)

We caught up properly afterwards in the nearest hostelry - an idea which quite a few of the other participants in the Conference seemed to have had as well!

The last speaker of the day was well placed to make sure no one dozed off at the end of the afternoon.  Fr Michael Mary, Superior of the Transalpine Redemptorists, gave a rousing talk in the traditional animated Redemptorist manner!

My favourite revelation of the day was the analogy of the tree and the cloud as images of the Faith.  One of Chesterton's insights.
If the Faith is a tree, it makes no sense to lop off all the branches that have grown up over the years and to hack away at the trunk trying to look for the sapling it once was. That will only kill the tree. Such are those who would strip away the Faith and the liturgy to try to "get back" to some ancient "perfect" form. You can prune the tree but you can never make it a sapling again - no matter how lovely you thought the sapling was. In fact, the bigger the tree is and the farther away the branches are, the more surely do they need to be attached and connected. No matter how big the tree gets, the beautiful sapling is always there, at it's heart - but you can't recreate it.
The modernists tend to see the Faith and the liturgy as a cloud -  always changing, formless, blown this way and that.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Non Nisi Te

Many people noticed that our new Archbishop, Malcolm McMahon, has adopted a coat of arms that is emblazoned on a "new" Cathedra. I understand is in fact an older throne, replacing the rather insignificant seat in use in recent years. The motto “Non nisi Te” means “None but You”.  I haven't been able to find anything explaining the emblems in detail but did some little research for an article in the parish newsletter, as we received a letter from the Archbishop this week thanking the parish for the prayers and good wishes we sent to him.

On the left side of the shield is a pale blue field (signifying truth and loyalty) with the pallium of the archbishop (which will be given to him by the Pope in due course).

Within this there is a golden anchor above (this is a reference to Liverpool as a maritime city, as the anchor was given to Pope Clement - who was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the Black See - and Nicolas of Bari. Nicolas of Bari is the patron saint of sailors. The anchor signifies steadfastness and stability. In seafaring nations, the anchor is a symbol of good luck, of safety, and of security, and thus of trust and confidence).

The anchor is charged with a red rose (for Lancashire).

The right side of the shield bears the black and white Dominican symbol - he was ordained as a priest of the Dominican Order, properly called the Order of Preachers (you will see O.P. after their name. The Dominicans were founded by St Dominic to combat heresy and preach the Gospel and recognised by the Holy See   in 1216. They are sometimes called the Hounds of God, in recognition of their role in defending the Faith and as a latin pun on their name “Domini Canes” (God’s Dogs) Domini-cans!

The chief (at the strip atop the shield) above is red - signifying martyrdom and the call to shed one’s blood in defending the Faith.  

It also bears the dove (for peace) and fleurs-de-lys (signifying Our Blessed Lady) .

The green galero (archbishop’s hat - green was the ancient colour that bishops wore before purple) above the shield has four rows of fiocchi (tassels) hanging to either side indicating his rank as archbishop, as does the two-bar archiepiscopal cross behind the shield.

Monday 12 May 2014

Eucharistic Prayers for Children

My idea of a school Mass (here at the London Oratory)

Fr   Gary   Dickson   has   posted   on   the  new  translation   of   the Eucharistic Prayers for Children.  I got the same advertising blurb and was   going   to   post   but   the   moment   slipped   me   by. Fortunately,    Fr    Dickson    says    more   or   less   everything   I wanted to say - as ever, in well reasoned and sensible tones.

I tried to use these prayers once or twice many years ago and found them very unhelpful and rather counter productive. The point of them, I presume, is to enable young children to take a more active part in the Mass (active in the sense of doing things, of course, not necessarily encouraging prayer, catechesis or understanding). These Eucharistic prayers would most often be used at Masses with the school and the sad truth is that the vast majority of children in nearly all our Catholic schools DO NOT EVER ATTEND MASS ON A SUNDAY.  Taking the time to teach them these extra responses that are not part of the "normal" Mass is a complete waste of time. These children do not know the Confiteor, the Sanctus or Agnus, nor any of the shorter responses from Mass ("Lord I am not worthy" etc). Far better to use the time and effort teaching them these responses so that they can at least be familiar with he Mass they would experience if they happen to ever go to Mass outside a school organised one or as an adult. Then they would at least have more chance of being able to actually take part and not feel "left out" (as the modern mantra has it).

School Mass at the Chevangnes International College in France.

Friday 2 May 2014

Installation of Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

Liverpool's ninth Archbishop was installed on the Feast of St Joseph the Worker this week. Archbishop Malcolm McMahon was translated from Nottingham, having been Bishop there for thirteen years. He certainly seemed on good form in the packed Cathedral, which seats 2,300 people.  A new bishop is always of interest to the priests of the diocese, of course, so I'm glad that he's someone I already know and look forward to working with.  We're offering Mass for his intentions and sending a Spiritual Bouquet to welcome him from the parish - no doubt, in getting to grips with his new diocese, he will need plenty of prayers and support.

Bishops processing in.

The picture above is one of the choristers singing the psalm.  I've included it for the extraordinary Ambo (given in recent years in memory of a deceased priest) - it depicts two Sea Eagles - in other words, the Liver Birds of Liverpool Fame!

The Cathedral has an excellent choir, although I can't say I'm always enamoured of all the choices of music. At the Mass there was a good enough mix of old and new to keep everyone happy.  I'm not a great fan of the building itself - even the beautiful chant sung by the choir didn't arouse the usual pious feelings in me, as the setting of such a peculiar (in the sense of unique) ecclesiastical building just doesn't do it -  for me, at least.  Another thing I noticed is that, despite being in the round, which is meant to allow everyone equal access to the "action" centre stage, you can't actually see what's going on very well.  The sanctuary in the centre is at a height that even at the High Altar manages to be just at the height of the rows of heads in front of you.  You can't even get a glimpse of the main processions going in and out as there is no "central" aisle.

It was very good to see that the Episcopal Chair of previous years has gone - presumably permanently, as the new Cathedra has the Archbishop's Coat of Arms emblazoned on it.  Actually, I understand that this much more noble Cathedra is in fact the old one brought back up from below!  For many years the Archbishop's Chair has been a rather low level cushioned seat in a sort of G-Plan design, so undistinguished that a sign on the side of the raised platform on which it stood had to tell you what it was! Symbols should always speak for themselves!

Photographs from the Catholic Church Flickr site, where you can see some more.

And finally, I came across this old footage of a former Archbishop of Liverpool being installed as Archbishop of Westminster. Liturgically, much more to my own tastes, of course!  I do like the description by the commentator of Archbishop Heenan as "at once humble and dynamic".  Epithets any Archbishop would surely want attached to his name!

Thursday 1 May 2014

"Catholic Life" - My Foot!

A parishioner who is new to the parish gave me quite a few back copies of the magazine "Catholic Life" last week, including the latest issue for April.  Whenever I've seen this publication in the past it appeared innocuous enough - full of pictures and articles (usually linked to advertisements) of all things picturesque: colourful processions, historical churches and buildings, great Christian art of the past. "History, Culture, the Arts" as it says on the cover. But sit down to read it and amidst the outward appearance of reverence for Catholic history, culture and art you will find among some of the articles an agenda- driven modernism of the worst kind.  Ignorant of the Church's teaching and biased to a liberal agenda.  

To take a few examples from the April issue.

"Question Corner" by a Fr Kenneth Doyle answers a question from a reader who is uncomfortable with shaking hands at the Sign of Peace. The good Father explains that the Sign of Peace is "an ordinary and expected part of the Mass".  The exchange of the Peace between priest and people verbally is indeed so, but the invitation to exchange a gesture among the congregation is not so - the Missal says "pro opportunitate" - when it is appropriate. Further clarification from Rome has said that it is "always optional"( cf. 2004 lineamenta for the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist No.42: 'The kiss of peace is not obligatory; it is done as opportunity presents itself.' ) .  The advice goes further from Fr Doyle to say that if you feel uncomfortable with shaking hands or perhaps have a cold, that the person should "take care to greet those surrounding you with a warm smile and a wave." I have searched in vain to find this directive either in the Missal or even among the more local directives from the Bishops' Conference. It's clear that the advice is attempting to mislead the reader into believing that the exchange of the sign of Peace is always to be included in the Mass. This is NOT what the rubrics say.

In an article on "Innocent XI" which is meant to expound the generosity of the Pope from his family's wealth, the first paragraph is an out and out attack on the policy of the present government. "One of the most disturbing aspects of British politics in recent years has been the way the government has preached austerity while several of its more wealthy members have clearly continued to enjoy the good life themselves.  While bankers have seen profits return, a rather nasty clampdown on welfare measures available to poorer members of society has been embarked upon." I wouldn't expect an uncritical endorsement of government policy but this is just unadorned Opposition rhetoric, without any acknowledgement that there might be other legitimate and Christian views of the matter.

Another article on relics is titled, "Just a bundle of bones for fools to admire?"  The question mark might lead you to suspect that the article will answer such hostile criticism by laying out the Church's understanding of relics and their part in our veneration of the saints; in linking us in a personal way to the holiness of their lives and giving glory to God. But nooooo.  After filling the pages with pictures of the beautiful reliquaries, it concludes with this: 
"For many people in our increasingly secular society a belief in relics is indicative of a flat-earth mentality; a myopic and dim view of a diminishing and desperate ancient regime. They might be right..."
"They might be right" !!!  Actually, they might be wrong - and indeed are wrong.  The Catechism (#1674) lists the veneration of relics as a form of piety on a par with visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross and the rosary. The Code of Canon Law (#1237)  insists that "the ancient tradition of keeping the relics of martyrs and other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved."  Perhaps these forms of piety are also considered by the "Catholic" writers in "Catholic Life" to be indicative of a flat-earth mentality as well.

There is also a fawning article championing the views of Cardinal Walter Kasper about the desirability of the admittance of the divorced and re-married to Holy Communion.  His opinion seems to me to be nothing less than a fudge simply ignoring the Church's understanding and the Dominical teaching. The article compares his view to that of Cardinal Muller who says that the traditional teaching "represents the words of Jesus Christ, which is very clear. I cannot change Church doctrine." The gist is that Cardinal Kapser can sort this out this often sad and delicate problem with a "new" pastoral solution - "Love" (yes, it actually says this!) Implication: anyone who doesn't agree is neither loving nor pastoral.  What the article doesn't highlight is that Cardinal Muller has rather more weight to bring to the argument. He is the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Kasper is not.

All in all, it would seem that much of the "life" in this particular "Catholic Life" is not very Catholic. So, don't be taken in by the glossy, pretty pictures.  The pictures may be Catholic but take a closer look at the text.

By the way, it's published by the Universe Media Group.