Monday 27 April 2015

Design for an altar

One of my fellow Chaplains for the Order of St Lazarus, Fr Damien McCaughan of the Diocese of Down and Connor, was in Rome recently for the celebration of perpetual vows for the Sisters of the Missionaries of Divine Revelation. Cardinal Piacenza celebrated the Mass for the Sisters.
There are further pictures and details HERE.

After Mass all went in procession to the new chapel for the novices.  His Eminence brought the Blessed Sacrament up and placed it in the tabernacle for the first time.  The altar was designed by the cardinal himself (complete with damask panelling!) and built by the sisters. Rather a sweet little prayer chapel altar.

Cardinal Piacenza and Fr Damien McCaughan (far right) with other friends of the Sisters.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Mass for St George's Day

All prepared for High Mass this evening at 7pm.
Thanks to servers from around the Archdiocese and beyond 
and to my brother priests, assisting and in choir.
All of which couldn't be managed without the music, of course, 
in which our parish is much blest.

Festive refreshments afterwards, 
so come along and celebrate St George, 
if you are free.

Monday 20 April 2015

Saint George - Pray for the Christians suffering under ISIS

This Thursday is the Feast of St George. 
We will be having High Mass 
here in the parish at 7pm 
with celebratory refreshments afterwards.

Given St George's links to the Middle East (most sources think he was probably born in Syria) and the fact that he was a soldier and a martyr, it seems particularly appropriate that we offer Mass for those being persecuted by the extremist Islamist group ISIS at this time.  The reports are all over the place about its barbarity to Christians, to culture and to humanity in general.  There is shocking footage of the destruction of Christian churches on the "This is Christian Syria" Facebook page:

The Christian News Network reports on a gruesome new video released by the barbaric Islamic group ISIS, which shows approximately 30 Ethiopians, who they identified as “followers of the cross,” being massacred in Libya.

Christians in Iraq continue to try to worship in the midst of persecution.

Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, 
St. George; 
favored by God with the gift of faith, 
and inflamed with an ardent love of Christ, 
thou didst fight valiantly 
against the dragon of pride, falsehood, and deceit. 
Neither pain nor torture, sword nor death 
could part thee from the love of Christ. 
I fervently implore thee for the sake of this love 
to help those suffering persecution 
to bear bravely 
the terrible trials that oppress them, 
so that they may patiently carry the cross 
which is placed upon them; 
and let neither distress or difficulties,
nor the insufficient response of the world, 
separate them from the love of 
Our Lord Jesus Christ.
 Valiant champion of the Faith, 
assist them in the combat against evil, 
that they may win the crown promised to them 
that persevere unto the end.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

The joys of Latin

There are some excellent suggestions on the NLM about celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass in a manner that expresses more clearly continuity with the Mass as it has been celebrated down the ages. I think that a number of priests have been quietly getting on with doing many of the things mentioned - certainly, most of them feature in the way I now always celebrate Mass.  

Although the piece mentions it, I might also highlight the use of Latin for the priests and people's parts as well as the chants. Latin is still the normative language of the liturgy and needs no special indult or permission. I've found that chanting the introduction (sign of the cross and greeting) in Latin and the dismissal can be an easy way in. Somehow, chanting Latin rather than saying it seems to be more easily accepted. Also, the responses for the people are easy to master - only "Et cum spiritu tuo." 

Chanting the Pater noster can also be a way of introducing the richness of Latin as well, as the priest has chunks to sing afterwards with relatively short responses from the people.

Breaking into Latin to chant the Per ipsum... is another way to highlight the conclusion and the people's acclamation to the Canon.

For myself, I always say the words of institution in Latin - from a framed altar card (which also has the words of some of the priest's private prayers on it).

I recall being at (OF) Mass with Cardinal Piacenza, where there were many concelebrating priests, and being stunned at the effect it had when he reduced his voice for the Canon. Not inaudible but very marked. 

Of all the efforts that might be made for a more prayerful celebration by priest and people and for the most obvious form of continuity, I have to say that celebrating ad orientem has to be the most powerful. So much flows from that. Falling into the temptation to play to the gallery simply vanishes; its difficult to ad lib to people when you're not facing them; and it makes it so much more obvious that during the Canon the priest is not addressing the congregation but addressing the Almighty.

Monday 6 April 2015

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy welcomes Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

The Northern Province of the British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is welcoming the Most Rev. Malcolm McMahon, the Archbishop of Liverpool as its speaker on Wednesday May 13th at 11.00am.

You don't have to be a member of the Confraternity to attend - all clergy are welcome - although you might consider joining the Confraternity for its excellent support.

Fr Stephen Brown, the Northern Province Convenor, invites anyone interested to attend the talk to be given in the Pope John Paul Room here at my parish of St Catherine Laboure, Stanifield Lane, Farington, Leyland. PR25 4QG.  Motorway links to Leyland are very good from the M6 and M65 (once on Stanifield Lane the driveway to the church is between Farington Park and a little road called Kew Gardens - its easy to drive past the first time!)

The topic Archbishop Malcolm will be speaking on is: 

“Evangelii Gaudium and the Priesthood”

There will be lunch afterwards next door at 1pm in the splendid setting of Farington Lodge Hotel. The talk is, of course, free! But if you would like to attend the lunch I need numbers in advance - and payment of £20 in advance, please. You can contact me by e-mail - - to let me know if you would like to come and send cheques for the lunch made payable to "St Catherine's Church". 

The British Province of St Gregory the Great is part of the wider family of the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy in Australia and the USA.

Friday 3 April 2015




In the early Church there was a custom whereby the Bishop or the priest, after the homily, would cry out to the faithful: “Conversi ad Dominum” – turn now towards the Lord. This meant in the first place that they would turn towards the East, towards the rising sun, the sign of Christ returning, whom we go to meet when we celebrate the Eucharist. Where this was not possible, for some reason, they would at least turn towards the image of Christ in the apse, or towards the Cross, so as to orient themselves inwardly towards the Lord. Fundamentally, this involved an interior event;  conversion, the turning of our soul towards Jesus Christ and thus towards the living God, towards the true light.  

Linked with this, then, was the other exclamation that still today, before the Eucharistic Prayer, is addressed to the community of the faithful: “Sursum corda” – “Lift up your hearts”, high above all our misguided concerns, desires, anxieties and thoughtlessness – “Lift up your hearts, your inner selves!” In both exclamations we are summoned, as it were, to a renewal of our Baptism:  Conversi ad Dominum – we must always turn away from false paths, onto which we stray so often in our thoughts and actions. We must turn ever anew towards him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We must be converted ever anew, turning with our whole life towards the Lord. And ever anew we must withdraw our hearts from the force of gravity, which pulls them down, and inwardly we must raise them high:  in truth and love. At this hour, let us thank the Lord, because through the power of his word and of the holy Sacraments, he points us in the right direction and draws our heart upwards. Let us pray to him in these words: Yes, Lord, make us Easter people, men and women of light, filled with the fire of your love.  Amen.

Good Friday Liturgy

Pope Benedict's Homily from Good Friday in 2008.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year too we have walked along the way of the cross, the Via Crucis, evoking again with faith the stages of the passion of Christ. Our eyes have turned to contemplate the sufferings and the anguish that our Redeemer had to bear in the hour of great sorrow, which entailed the highpoint of his earthly mission. Jesus dies on the cross and lies in the tomb. The day of Good Friday, so permeated by human sadness and religious silence, closes in the silence of meditation and prayer. In returning home, we too, like those who were present at the sacrifice of Jesus, beat our breasts, recalling what happened. Is it possible to remain indifferent before the death of the Lord, of the Son of God? For us, for our salvation he became man, so as to be able to suffer and die. 

Brothers and sisters, let us direct today our gaze toward Christ, a gaze frequently distracted by scattered and passing earthly interests. Let us pause to contemplate his cross. The cross, fount of life and school of justice and peace, is the universal patrimony of pardon and mercy. It is permanent proof of a self-emptying and infinite love that brought God to become man, vulnerable like us, unto dying crucified. 

Through the sorrowful way of the cross, the men of all ages, reconciled and redeemed by the blood of Christ, have become friends of God, sons of the heavenly Father. "Friend," is what Jesus calls Judas and he offers him the last and dramatic call to conversion. "Friend," he calls each of us, because he is the authentic friend of everyone. Unfortunately, we do not always manage to perceive the depth of this limitless love that God has for us. For him, there is no distinction of race or culture. Jesus Christ died to liberate the humanity of old of their ignorance of God, of the circle of hate and violence, of the slavery to sin. The cross makes us brothers and sisters. 

But let us ask ourselves, in this moment, what have we done with this gift, what have we done with the revelation of the face of God in Christ, with the revelation of the love of God that conquers hate. Many, in our age as well, do not know God and cannot encounter him in Christ crucified. Many are in search of a love or a liberty that excludes God. Many believe they have no need of God. 

Dear friends: After having lived together the passion of Jesus, let us this night allow his sacrifice on the cross to question us. Let us permit him to challenge our human certainties. Let us open our hearts. Jesus is the truth that makes us free to love. Let us not be afraid: upon dying, the Lord destroyed sin and saved sinners, that is, all of us. The Apostle Peter writes: "He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24). This is the truth of Good Friday: On the cross, the Redeemer has made us adoptive sons of God who he created in his image and likeness. Let us remain, then, in adoration before the cross. 

Christ, give us the peace we seek, the happiness we desire, the love the fills our heart thirsty for the infinite. This is our prayer for this night, Jesus, Son of God, who died for us on the cross and was resurrected on the third day. Amen. 

Wednesday 1 April 2015

A Call To Action - what ARE they talking about?

I see that ACTA have made a response to Bishop Michaels Campbell's statement about them. As usual with dissent, the response is arrogant - "We're not going away" and deliberately vague. I notice it doesn't really answer any of the points made by Bishop Campbell and uses all the language of fuzzy doublespeak - admitting nothing and leaving open everything.  If dialogue is all that ACTA wants then what is the action their name implies? What is the purpose of the "dialogue? What are they talking about doing? The truth is that the dialogue is always about moving away from the teaching of the Church. 

Borrowing the political imagery of not being open to "dialogue" makes the deliberate suggestion of being closed and unreasonable. Bishop Michael is not being closed and unreasonable, he's just doing his job of being a bishop.  They compare themselves with the group of priests who recently signed the letter about the Synod. The difference is that those priests were simply putting their names to the existing teaching of the Church - ACTA's calls are for movement away from the existing teaching of the Church.

Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith makes this point with great clarity when he pinpoints their duplicity - that they proclaim to be "outwardly Catholic and hold what is in fact irreconcilable with Catholicism."  

Here is the great difference, I think, between those who hold to orthodoxy and those who don't. 

We all on occasion do, think and say things that are irreconcilable with Catholicism - we are fallen sinners in need of redemption.  

Some appear to think that our fallen nature should be "harmonised" with the Gospels and the teaching of the Church, with the challenge of the Gospel the primary target for change, modification, reduction evisceration. The end result being that the Church will look no different from the fallen world around it. Why should it, if we have no need of redemption. Lobbying to change the Church's Magisterial teaching, should not be seen as legitimate politics but rather, but rather, they go to undermining the whole purpose of the Church and of Faith itself.

To present as outwardly Catholic and deliberately hold what is irreconcilable with Catholicism is disingenuous, to say the least. I think Our Lord had one or two things to say about those who held themselves up as one thing but really had another agenda. Pope Francis is right about that sort of Christian.

Bishop Michael's words on his blog are very clear and direct. They strike me as the words of a father. The words of ACTA strike me as the words of politicians - and obfuscating ones at that.