Wednesday 25 February 2015

Church Furnishings, Statuary, Vestments and Second-hand Books

I've put a link on the sidebar to Cenacle Catholic Books and Gifts, who are based here in the Northwest. 
They also offer a service dealing in other church items. Some further details below.

Cenacle: Church Furnishings, Statuary, Vestments and Second-hand Books.

Cenacle has over the years developed a good working relationship with the clergy, religious, and private individuals, by helping to clear libraries, churches and monasteries.

We are always prepared to make offers for hardback books and items of value.

We add quality books and items to our second-hand section, or pass items on.

Any unwanted books, or damaged religious items we can dispose of correctly and sensitively, as we recognise that many items have been blessed.

If you have any church items, vestments, statues or books that you would like us to look at, please contact: Moray Ness on 01695 558603 or email:

Tuesday 24 February 2015

The Crusades

The Crusades are one of these historical events that have entered into the fabric of our imaginations. The problem is that the version often pedalled by the secular media is one that is anti-Church, anti-Catholic and anti-Faith. For those who have access to EWTN you can watch a different popular interpretation, the second airing of the EWTN mini-series The Crusades starting today Tuesday 24th to Friday 27 February.

Here is the schedule for the UK and Ireland

Combining epic dramatic sequences with insights from leading historians, this mini-series clears up the many myths and distortions surrounding the Crusades. Filmed in the Holy Land and Europe.

Ep 1 Journeys of Faith
Tuesday 24, 02:00, 10:30, 21:00.
(30 mins)

Ep 2 The Crusader States
Wednesday 25, 02:00, 10:30, 21:00.
(30 mins)

Ep 3 Christendom Responds
Thursday 26, 02:00, 10:30, 21:00.
(30 mins)

Ep 4 Failures and Successes
Friday 27, 02:00, 10:30, 21:00.
(30 mins)

In the USA the times are as follows: 

A look at the history and reasons for the Crusades, which originally was called an 'armed pilgrimage', aiding safety for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land against Muslim conquerors.
Tuesday 02/24 at 3:00 AM ET, 6:30 PM ET

You can also get the series on DVD from St Clare Media.

Saturday 21 February 2015

Lenten Liturgical Thoughts

I came across some reminders of proper Lenten liturgical practice by Jimmy Atkin.
While practical needs and constraints might not let us do everything to the letter, it is always good to remind ourselves of the ideal and what we should be aiming at. So here are some of the reminders he gives.

1. Instrumental music with no singing.  The simple Latin chants of the Mass at the Sanctus and Agnus Die are ideal for singing without accompaniment.

In some parishes, instrumental music is used at certain points during Mass. A passage will be played on an organ or on another instrument or instruments, even though nobody is singing.
But not in Lent (with a few exceptions).
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states:
313. In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.

 2. Flowers on the altar.

It is common for the altar to be decorated with flowers during most of the year.  That is, there will be flowers around the altar, though NOT on top of the altar table itself. The artistically(?) arranged posy bowls should never be actually on the mensa, the altar top. The re-table or shelf behind the altar was always the place for these. Now that many ad orientem altars have been abandoned for a forward facing table, this has led to all sorts of "decorations" appearing on the consecrated mensa top (other than Father's spectacles!)
Flowers should not about the altar in Lent (with a few exceptions).
The General Instruction states:
305. During Lent it is forbidden for the altar to be decorated with flowers. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.
 3. Emptying holy water fonts.  I've heard of this here and there. Very odd!

In recent years, some parishes have taken the holy water out of the holy water fonts during Lent. They have even filled them with sand in some cases. The idea, they say, is to convey the thought that Lent is a time of spiritual dryness--a "desert" experience--that precedes Easter, in which we refrain from using the sacramental of holy water. Despite its popularity in some places, this practice is not permitted. It has been the Church's practice to empty the holy water fonts during the Sacred Triduum, but for a different reason. It is not permitted to have them empty through the whole season of Lent.

The Congregation for Divine Worship has stated:

This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:
1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being "praeter legem" [i.e., "apart from the law"] is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.
2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the sacraments is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church.
The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday) [3/14/03: Prot. N. 569/00/L].

4. Veiling crosses and statues before the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

In recent years, some parishes in the United States have veiled or otherwise removed crosses and statues as soon as Lent begins. They're jumping the gun. This practice is permitted beginning with the Fifth Sunday of Lent, but not before.

The Roman Missal states:
The practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from this [Fifth] Sunday may be observed.
Crosses remain covered until the end of the Celebration of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, but images remain covered until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.
Notice that the practice is optional (the practice "may be observed" not "is to be observed").
If it is not observed, in a particular parish, from the Fifth Sunday of Lent, there is additional encouragement to do remove or veil crosses after the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday.
The rubrics in the Roman Missal for that day state:
At an appropriate time, the altar is stripped and, if possible, the crosses are removed from the church.
It is expedient that any crosses which remain in the church be veiled.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

King Richard III

King Richard III's pennant for the Mass

Those who read my post last month will know that we are planning a full High Requiem Mass for King Richard III on Thursday 26th March at 7.30pm - the same day that his mortal remains are to be reburied in Leicester Cathedral .  What I had not realised was that in the meantime, they continue to undergo the indignity of being kept in a box in a laboratory.  There is a petition asking Leicester cathedral that they might be kept in some more appropriate place, such as a chapel of rest.  The petition is supported by the Looking For Richard Project Team (Philippa Langley, Dr John Ashdown-Hill, Annette Carson, Dr David Johnson, Wendy Johnson, Dr Raymond Bord).  

You can sign it HERE.

I'm afraid that it is another case of lack of respect due to any human being made in the image and likeness of God which is so prevalent in our society today. It is not maudlin sentimentality that thinks his remains should be treated with respect but a proper understanding of the theology of the body and the failure to do so shows a lack of Christian sensibilities.  

Watching an old episode of "Time Team" just the other day, Tony Robinson described a relic chapel as macabre because it would have been full of old bones.  He didn't seem to appreciate the irony that they regularly dig up human remains on the programme and describe the finds as wonderful.  So venerating them and giving them a place of honour in a church relic chapel is "macabre" but disturbing the graves of those properly buried is great family entertainment.  I'm not suggesting we should not excavate archaeological sites but why the Church should be macabre in keeping relics while the "Time Team" can freely rejoice in displaying them to the world in plastic seed trays is quite beyond me.

Of course, the Christian sense of human dignity in and after death is also most often abused even by Catholics these days.  There seems to be a growing tendency for people to do all sorts of secular things with the ashes of their loved ones. For Catholics, the Church teaches that ashes should be buried (on land or at sea) rather than scattered or kept on the mantelpiece.  

While cremated remains may be buried in a grave, entombed in a mausoleum or columbarium or even buried at sea, 
"the practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, from the air, or on the ground, or keeping cremated remains in the home of a relative or friend of the deceased are not the reverent disposition that the Church requires." (OCF 416) 
The cremated remains of the body may be properly buried at sea in the urn, coffin or other container in which they have been carried to the place of committal.

There is a useful brief summing up from the USA bishops' conference here.

Monday 16 February 2015

Mass for the Holy Face of Jesus

Once again this year I am celebrating Mass for the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus, which falls on Shrove Tuesday.  There will be Low Mass at 7pm. Not such a well-known devotion in this day and age but obviously an ancient one, as Veronica's veil was kept intact from the time of Our Lord's Passion. St Therese of Lisieux was a great devotee.  Click here for devotional items and books about this Feast.

Of course this week also sees the start of Lent and there will be Mass (OF) with the Distribution of Ashes at 9.30am and at 7pm.

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable,
 most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised,
 blessed, loved, adored and glorified, 
in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Friday 6 February 2015

Why do Catholic Schools exist?

It is a sad reflection on the state of Catholic education that it makes the news and draws attention on social media when an Archbishop says that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as held and taught by his Catholic Church.”  

It feels that in this country we have really given up on trying to hold Catholic schools to account when it comes to teaching and living the fullness of the Catholic Faith.  Hedged in by political correctness and financial accountability to the secular state, any re-imagining of Catholic education as a tool for actually passing on the Faith or as an evangelising process for the huge percentage of those in our schools who do not practice has long been given up on.  (There are no figures but I would make an educated guess that it must be around 90-95% of most Catholic school pupils do not practice their faith by regular Sunday Mass attendance.)

God bless Archbishop Cordilione for making some attempts to claw back Catholic from the sad reality schools to what it actually says on the sign at the gate Catholic School.  I had the privilege of meeting him a couple of years ago.  He spoke very clearly on what is and isn't the Catholic Faith.

Monday 2 February 2015

Mass for the Feast of St Blaise

Tuesday 2nd February is the Feast of St Blaise. 
I will be offering 
Low Mass in the Traditional Form at 12 noon 
followed by the Blessing of Throats.

The image above shows the reliquary (c.1260) containing relics of the foot of St Blaise.  You may have seen it in this country if you went to the “Treasures of Heaven” Exhibition at the British Museum, London, in 2011.  It usually resides at the Musée Provincial des Arts Anciens du Namurois, Namur, having been given by the  Sœurs de Notre-Dame de Namur in 2010.

If you have ever been to Dubrovnik, you may have seen plenty of images of St Blaise there.

The Blessing of throats.
(Health and safety - please note that candles should not be lighted as the blessing is given!)

God, almighty and all-mild, by your Word alone you created the manifold things in the world, and willed that that same Word by whom all things were made take flesh in order to redeem mankind; you are great and immeasurable, awesome and praiseworthy, a worker of marvels. Hence in professing his faith in you the glorious martyr and bishop, Blaise, did not fear any manner of torment but gladly accepted the palm of martyrdom. In virtue of which you bestowed on him, among other gifts, the power to heal all ailments of the throat. And now we implore your majesty that, overlooking our guilt and considering only his merits and intercession, it may please you to bless + and sanctify + and impart your grace to these candles. Let all men of faith whose necks are touched with them be healed of every malady of the throat, and being restored in health and good spirits let them return thanks to you in your holy Church, and praise your glorious name which is blessed forever; 
through Christ our Lord.

Through the intercession of St Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver you from all ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.