Thursday 27 November 2014

Novena for the Immaculate Conception

For anyone who might be able to get there, St Walburge's in Preston is holding a Novena this coming week with guest preachers.  If you haven't been along to this fantastic church, then here is an opportunity to go and see it. You can find their website at The Spire.

Mass being offered at the Shrine.

O Mary conceived without sin, 
pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Empty chairs in empty churches

Mark Lambert has picked up on Fr Dwight Lonenecker's piece about why church attendance is, for the most part, in decline in the Western world.  

Conclusion: many people just don't really understand what church is for.

This is certainly true whenever we now interact with those who don't usually darken the doors of the Church - at times of marriages, funerals, baptisms and first Communions.  What they are looking for is not what the Church actually offers but all too often we cave in and give them the watered down, insipid, secularised version that they come seeking and so those that come to such events experience very little of the true content of the Faith.

What they experience is just not powerful enough or different enough from what they might get in other arenas to make people make the effort on a Sunday morning. 

I think he's hit on something there.  

Once we present church as entertainment, we can't compete with the professional entertainers in film, stage and TV.  

Once we present it as a commodity (everyone "getting Communion") we can't compete with teh professional emporiums of commerce.

Once we present church as a party we can't compete with a good restaurant or a noisy bar.

Once we present church as a crèche we can't compete with the professional child carers and educators in our schools and nurseries.

The only Unique Selling Point we have is salvation, redemption from sin, warfare with the forces of darkness, the reality of the spiritual world -  but these are things we have so often lost confidence in talking about, so we try to compete on other people's turf and come off looking second rate, boring and irrelevant.

A loss in confidence in its core message is bound to reflect rather poorly in any organisation - human or divine.  We do indeed have a unique "product" but it's hidden away in the back room (or the back sacristy).  It takes confidence to bring it out.

The wonder is that so often we hear of great "celebrations" taking place in regard to the way the Church has moved in recent decades.  The "celebration" to close the church / convent / seminary / monastery or "celebration" some other aspect of Church life that is, in anyone's reality, so obviously in decline.  A real bit or Orwellian doublespeak.

I'm reminded of the lyrics sung by Marius in Les Miserables - the empty chairs and empty tables being the empty pews and empty altars:
There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.
Here they talked of revolution.
Here it was they lit the flame.
Here they sang about `tomorrow'
And tomorrow never came.
From the table in the corner
They could see a world reborn
And they rose with voices ringing
I can hear them now!
The very words that they had sung
Became their last communion

Sunday 23 November 2014

How to elect a Pope

The "Telegraph" newspaper reports today on Austen Ivereigh's forthcoming book "The Great Reformer" - a biography of Pope Francis.   Ivereigh is the former Press Secretary to Murphy-O'Connor when he was Archbishop of Westminster.

According to the report, the book will reveal that:
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, helped to orchestrate a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign which led to the election of Pope Francis.
Disclosing that:
... there had been a discreet, but highly organised, campaign by a small group of European cardinals in support of Cardinal Bergoglio...  Writer Austen Ivereigh, nicknames the group “Team Bergoglio” and says members toured private dinners and other gatherings of cardinals in the days before the conclave, quietly putting their case.
You can't believe everything you read but this open an interesting window on how the politics of an election are sometimes managed. Even if the politics may make you a bit sad on this day when we remember that Christ the King calls us to move beyond worldly king-making.

As for you, my sheep, the Lord says this:
I will judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and he-goats.  
(Ezekiel 34:17 - from the Feast of Christ the King)

You can read the full article here.

Monday 17 November 2014

Art in the Service of the Poor and the Glory of God

I attended a lovely concert of organ music and some pieces sung by the choir at the church of St Joseph in Stokesley, North Yorkshire yesterday afternoon.  Parish Priest, Fr William Charlton, somewhat surprised his congregation with his prowess on the organ (obviously during Mass he's usually rather busy elsewhere).  

Fr Charlton became a Chaplain to the Order of St Lazarus earlier this year in Derbyshire and organised the recital in support of our charity in Sri Lanka, SUROL, looking after those suffering from leprosy.  We were delighted to see a full church and rejoiced at the generosity of the parishioners in giving £1,000 to the work of the Order.  A big thank you to Fr Charlton, the singers and parishioners - as well as those who organised the refreshments afterwards.

Fr Charleton conducting the schola.

In a fitting link to the Order of St Lazarus, there is a fine window depicting the raising of Lazarus in the church (pictured above).  It's one of a series designed in the 1940's by the then Parish Priest, Fr John J. MacDonnell. Some of the others are pictured below.  They are very atmospheric and although traditional in style at first glance, have a definite modern twist to them.  Perhaps part of that tradition that is sometimes called the "other modern", when referring to ecclesiastical works of art that are innovative but remain in the tradition of sacred art instead of aping the nihilistic forms of secular modern art that we have so often subjected to in churches over recent decades.

 The Resurrection.

My Favourite. The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden.

 A detail from the Expulsion.

 The rose window over the East end depicting the Crucifixion.

Saturday 15 November 2014

In strict agreement with all the rules of the Church

The altar in readiness.

I was intrigued by the post on Catholic Extension about the Fr Peter learning material.  For a bit of fun I have downloaded the links and am giving them to the altar boys to do a bit of homework.  In fact, they are a remarkably useful and entertaining bit of learning.

 Dominus vobiscum.
(And, Yes, I know he shouldn't be wearing his biretta at this point.)

 Devotions in readiness.

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

Actually, the accompanying notes and instructions are excellent : "Fr Peter's altar is in strict agreement with all the rules of the church."  Oh, if only it were always so - for altars, synods and  everything else.

Jubilate Deo!

Welcome and prayers for Christina, 
who was received into the Church at Mass today.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Organ Recital at Stokesley

I'm off to Middlesborough Diocese this Sunday afternoon where Fr William Charleton is giving an Organ Recital and Choral Afternoon at his parish of St Joseph's this Sunday afternoon.  Anyone who might be able to come along would be most welcome. There will be a retiring collection for the work of the Order of St Lazarus in supporting SUROL - the Sri Lankan leprosy Charity, of which our friend, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, is the Patron (the Order Order made him Prelate Grand Cross of the Order of Merit just last year.)  

 St Joseph’s Church

Sunday 16th November 

1 Tanton Road, 
North Yorks 

Tel: 01642 710239

 followed by  tea in  St Joseph’s Hall.

Stokesley is a small market town located in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, which lies on the River Leven.

Stokesley is located between Middlesbrough, Guisborough and Northallerton in farming area and is surrounded by other small towns and villages, including Great Ayton, Great Broughton and Hutton Rudby.

Stokesley has been a market town since it was granted its charter in 1223 by Henry III. The River Leven flows through the town until it joins the River Tees at Yarm. The Pack Horse Bridge crosses the river and dates back to the 17th Century.

Stokesley highstreet is lined with many independent shops and eateries.

A weekly market day takes place every Friday and a monthly Farmers Market takes place on the first Saturday of every month.

Monday 10 November 2014

November Requiem

Another photo-post but this time from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea at Seaforth in Liverpool.  We celebrated a Mass for deceased members, benefactors and friends of both the LMS and the Order of St Lazarus.  Excellent music from members of the Octavius Choir which lifted our spirits, especially in the beautifully restored and cared for church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea. Thanks to the servers and to all who came along - to lunch afterwards as well.  Thank you also for £321 in the collection for the work of the Order of St Lazarus.

Thursday 6 November 2014

All Souls Mass


Following the last post, some more photographs of Mass - this time for All Souls Day.  

I've recently managed to get a catafalque cover from the USA which is a good match for the silver embroidered sets of Requiem vestments. This chasuble used at this Mass has a Scottish flavour to it, being embroidered with thistles.  

Mass was very poignant, with the beautiful chant lifting the Holy Souls to God in our prayers. Thanks also to our servers and the good turnout form the parish.






 Holy Water


Wednesday 5 November 2014

All Saints Mass


Unusually we had plenty of photos taken at the All Saints Mass, so here are a few of them going through the Mass.  All Souls Mass to follow!  Both Masses were lovely celebrations (with the assistance of the music department) and thank you to parishioners for a good turnout for on All Souls Day.

Enter and see the face of God.

 Ab illo benedicaris...

 The Epistle

 Sucipe, sancte Pater...

 Getting in the swing!

 And again...

As often as you do these things, 
you shall do them in remembrance of me.

Domine, non sum dignus...

The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto everlasting life.

 In the beginning was the Word...

Exuent omnes.

The inevitable tidying up afterwards.

(Photos of minors with parental permission.)

Saturday 1 November 2014

The world, the flesh and the devil...

A priest friend of mine returned this week from the conference for exorcists.  Some of the newspapers showed an interest in the statement by one of the priests at the conference, Father Aldo Buonaiuto, asking people to think in a more Christian way about the way Halloween has degenerated into a celebration of all things evil instead of all things holy. (The reporting from the Telegraph is posted below.)  One thing he suggests is to banish the pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls and replace them with celebrations on the saints.  

Always trying to be on the crest of the latest thinking in the Church, we already had planned an All Hallows celebration with just such a focus.  

I had hoped for more photos - including some vigorous apple-dunking - but the above will suffice showing some of the Saints present:
St Martin de Porres, St Mary Magdalene, St Thomas More, St Joan of Arc, St Peter, an angel and St Pio. 

Pope Francis was also making a point about fighting evil in the form of the world, the flesh and the devil during his homily at Mass on Thursday.  Report from Zenit below:

“Put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the Devil.” These words from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians were at the centre of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.
The Holy Father described Christian life as a “continuous battle” against three enemies: the devil, the world, and the desires of the flesh. Citing St. Paul’s words in the first reading, the Pope invited the faithful to put on the armour of God to resist temptation.
“No spiritual life,” he said, “no Christian life is possible without resisting temptations, without  putting on God’s armour which gives us strength and protects us.”
The Pope also noted the incredulity regarding the devil’s existence in today’s world, where Satan is viewed as a myth or an idea of evil. “But the devil exists and we must fight against him. [St.] Paul tells us this, it’s not me saying it!” he exclaimed.
“The Word of God is telling us this.  But we’re not all convinced of this.  And then Paul describes God’s armour and which are the different types that make up this great armour of God.  And he says: ‘So stand your ground, with truth as a belt around your waist.’  The truth is God’s armour.”
Describing life as a “military endeavour," the 77-year-old Pontiff said that while Christian life is a battle, it is “a beautiful battle," especially when in the end, God is victorious. However, he noted, there are moments when we let our guard down.
“But we’re all a bit lazy, aren’t we, in this battle and we allow ourselves to get carried away by our passions, by various temptations. That’s because we’re sinners, all of us!” he said.  
“But don’t get discouraged,” Pope Francis concluded.  “Have courage and strength because the Lord is with us.”

And from the Telegraph:

Halloween is a dangerous celebration that can tempt people into Satanism and should be replaced by a rival festival called “Holyween” based on the adoration of Christian saints, Catholic exorcist priests have said.
As families in Britain prepare to hollow out pumpkins and dress up as ghouls and ghosts, the Catholic Church in Italy warned that celebrating Halloween can tempt people into worship of the occult.
Most people might think Halloween was a bit of harmless fun involving fake blood and Frankenstein masks, but they would be gravely mistaken, said Father Aldo Buonaiuto, a Catholic priest who took part in an international conference of exorcists in Rome earlier this week.
“Halloween originates from superstitions that exalt malign spirits and demons. Many people see it as a simple carnival, but it is anything but innocent, it is a subterranean world based on the occult,” he told La Nazione, an Italian newspaper.
“Halloween is the anti-chamber towards something much more disturbing. For devotees of the occult, October 31 is the satanic new year. It’s a time for luring new converts. And it’s a time when exorcists have to work harder,” said the priest, a member of the Pope John XXIII Association, a Catholic organisation which combats black magic sects in 25 countries around the world.
“With the arrival of Halloween, there is an increase in black magic rites, sacrilege and the adoration of Satan, as well as demonic possessions,” he said.
During the period leading up to Halloween each year, the organisation sees a sharp increase in the number of people calling its free phone number to express concerns about Satanism and the occult.
“Often they are parents who are worried about the behaviour of their children,” said Father Buonaiuto.
In response to the growing popularity of Halloween, the association has launched a campaign to replace it with a rival, Christian festival called Holyween.
The idea is to banish pumpkins, plastic skeletons and other Halloween emblems and instead hang up pictures of saints and martyrs.
Father Aldo Buonaiuto
Churches should hold Masses, prayer vigils and “adorations” in honour of Christian saints in order to combat the malign influence of Halloween, which was an American tradition that had no place in Italy, the priest said.
More than 300 priests trained to perform exorcisms gathered in Rome at the weekend, receiving a personal message from Pope Francis which endorsed their fight against what he called “the Devil’s works”.
 The Pope, who frequently cites the fight against Satan in his sermons, said that exorcists needed to show “the love and welcome of the Church for those possessed by evil.”
The International Association of Exorcists was founded in 1990 by two Catholic priests and was given formal recognition by the Vatican in June.