Tuesday 30 June 2015

Religious Life is not for girls

Sr Emanuela's Vocation Testimony

The Missionaries of Divine Revelation, whom I have posted about before (here, for example) have a number of testimonies on their site. Sr Emanuela is from Wigan and speaks very forthrightly about her vocation.  If you watch the video you will hear her say - at about three minutes in - that "Religious Life is not for girls... you have to be a strong woman."  Further advice to anyone contemplating a vocation is stop thinking about it and do something concrete about it. 

Now if only we could all recapture a little more of the joy and grace she is obviously brimming with...

Good News for Good Friday in the Czech Republic

The Infant of Prague in the Church of Our Lady of Victories

It seems that the Czech Republic is on the verge of re-instating Good Friday as a national day off, despite 86% of its citizens proclaiming no religious affiliation. It gives hope that it is possible to reinstate some aspects of Christian tradition into societies that have become secular - including here in Britain. Certainly keeping Christian festivals as part of the ebb and flow of the year does - even for those who  no longer proclaim any faith - at least keep a door open to the Faith and an opportunity to explain the message behind the "day off".  

I'm particularly struck by the unity and cohesion that follows from keeping the Christian festivals having just last night celebrated Missa Cantata for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul - for the second time round, having done it on Sunday for the transferred feast. I was concerned that keeping a feast after the Sunday might feel like a damp squib but actually, we had our best turnout for these Masses we have been celebrating on actual feast days this year.

I do feel that it was a failure of nerve to transfer the holydays of Obligation. Its not so obviously peculiar for the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, but it does feel rather odd when it comes to the feasts that by their very nature are tied directly to particular dates, like  the Epiphany and the Ascension.

Another good thing would be to do something with the calendar of the 1962 Missal and the new Missal for the increasing number of priests and parishes where both forms of the Roman Rite are offered. A little organic development in the old calendar could certainly help - and, of course, quite a lot of cross fertilization of the old calendar into the new!  

Saturday 27 June 2015

Ss Peter and Paul

Missa Cantata
on Monday 29th June
for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul.
Celebratory refreshments afterwards.

For some time now we have been offering a Mass in the Traditional Form on the actual feast day, where the obligation has been transferred to the nearest Sunday. Mostly, these have fallen in the run up to the Sunday transfer but Ss Peter and Paul falls after the Sunday. I'm not sure if this will make a psychological difference to the desire to attend - we shall see. Whoever comes, we always have a prayerful celebration of Mass by dint of the chant being sung to uplift us and an enjoyable social occasion afterwards as well. So if you burst in upon us, you're more likely to find beer and bacon than delicately poised teacups. Properly Catholic!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Mass at Sizergh Castle

I'm celebrating Low Mass at Sizergh Castle this Friday 26th June at 12 noon.  Anyone who can get along there would be very welcome. 

Sizergh, near Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 8AE Sat Nav : LA8 8DZ

Sizergh has been associated with the Strickland family since 1239, when the heiress Elizabeth Deincourt married William de Stirkeland.The solar tower of the castle was a potent symbol of the Stricklands power during the Middle Ages, when they played a leading role in the wars with Scotland and France. Prominent as Catholic royalists throughout the 17th century, the Stricklands went into exile in 1688 with the court of James II at Saint-Germain in France. They returned to Sizergh by the early 18th Century as impoverished Jacobites, but thanks to the careful efforts of Winifred, Lady Strickland, they were able to afford a few baroque-style alterations to the house. Sir Gerald Strickland, later Lord Strickland of Sizergh (1861-1940) along with his second wife Margaret Hulton, installed the famous rock garden which was laid out in 1926-8. In 1931 the estate transferred to Lord Strickland's daughter Mary and her husband Henry Hornyold. They and their son Lt-Cdr Thomas Hornyold-Strickland gave the house to the National Trust in 1950.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Solemn High Mass for New Priest - Invitation

Newly ordained Fr Ian Verrier FSSP will celebrate his First Solemn High Mass in England this Saturday 20th June at 11:00am in St James Church, Spanish Place, 22 George Street, London W1U 3QY. 

The Mass setting in this splendid church will be Byrd's Mass for Four Voices.

Born in Birmingham in 1982, Fr Verrier grew up as an Anglican and read Music at Manchester University. After which he taught at the well-known Chavagnes International College in the Vendée Region of France. There he found a thriving close-knit Catholic community. He entered the FFSP American seminary in 2008. 

There is an open invitation to all to come and give thanks to God for another new priest, who will begin his ministry in Reading this summer.

He will administer his First Blessing after Mass and there will be Refreshments afterwards in church basement. 
A Plenary indulgence granted to those attending the Mass, so do go along if you can get to central London this Saturday.

You can read his story at The Path less taken.

Sunday 14 June 2015

Cardinal Robert Sarah - Bravo!

Like Rorate Caeli and Fr Ray Blake, I had intended posting about the astounding words of Cardinal Sarah reported  in L'Osservatore Romano - but they were quicker off the mark than I was!  I say "astounding" because what he suggests is still looked on as "heresy" by those who follow the the hermeneutic of rupture theology of post Vatican II liturgy - sadly, although gradually changing, still the vast majority in this country.

From the point of view of orientation, like Fr Blake and a growing number of priests, I have quietly gotten on with trying to implement what is actually written in the Missal and elsewhere in the Church's liturgical instructions, having grown tired of waiting for the likes of the Bishops' Conference or the diocesan liturgical commission to bring these things to the fore.

Pope Benedict's masterful liberation of the Traditional Form from its Babylonian captivity in the years after the Council has perhaps been the single most influential act in getting people and priests to look again at how the Mass is celebrated in a wider context.  Cardinal Sarah, Pope Francis' appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, is now making it utterly plain that the Ordinary Form of the Mass MUST be celebrated in a manner that shows its continuity with the Traditional Form of the Mass - and indeed, calls for this to be embedded more strongly in the Missal of the Ordinary Form.  We can hope for this line to be made clear and publicised particularly in the English speaking world, as the Secretary at the Congregation is still the English Archbishop Arthur Roche, formerly Bishop of Leeds.

The original L'Osservatore Romano article isn't online in English but Catholic Culture has this report of it:

(Actually, having just posted this,  I discover there is an automated English translation on Chiesa.)

Paying tribute to the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy as a liturgical “Magna Carta,” Cardinal Robert Sarah called for a more faithful implementation of its text, lamented misinterpretations of its teaching on “active participation,” and suggested an appendix to the Roman Missal that might better manifest the continuity of the extraordinary and ordinary forms of the celebration of the Mass.

“The liturgy is essentially the action of Christ,” the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in the June 12 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. “If this vital principle is not received in faith, it is likely to make the liturgy a human work, a self-celebration of the community.”

He continued:

To speak of a ‘celebrating community’ is not without ambiguity and requires real caution. The participatio actuosa [active participation] should not therefore be understood as the need to do something. On this point the teaching of the Council has often been distorted. It is instead to let Christ take us and associate us with his sacrifice.
Citing the teaching of Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah criticized the attitude of priests who make themselves the focal point of the liturgy.

“It is entirely consistent with the conciliar constitution, it is indeed opportune that, during the rite of penance, the singing of the Gloria, the orations, and the Eucharistic prayer, everyone, priest and faithful, should turn together towards the East, to express their will to participate in the work of worship and of redemption accomplished by Christ,” he continued. “This manner of doing things could opportunely be put into place in cathedrals, where liturgical life must be exemplary.”

Continuing his discussion of “active participation,” Cardinal Sarah criticized the “contemporary Western mentality” in which the faithful are to be “constantly busy” and in which the Mass is to be rendered “convivial.”

On the contrary, “sacred awe” and “joyful fear require our silence in the presence of the divine majesty. It is often forgotten that sacred silence is one of the means set forth by the Council to encourage participation.”

Cardinal Sarah recalled the Council’s teaching that the faithful should “be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them,” and said that the liturgy “must stop being a place of disobedience to the requirements of the Church.”

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, he emphasized, should not be read with a “hermeneutic of rupture.”

“It would be wrong to consider the extraordinary form of the Roman rite as coming from another theology,” he said. To manifest that the ordinary form and the extraordinary form are “in continuity and without opposition,” it would be “desirable” that there be an appendix in an upcoming edition of the Roman Missal that would permit celebrants in the ordinary form to use the penitential rite and the offertory of the extraordinary form.

“If we live in this spirit, then the liturgy will cease to be the place of rivalry and criticism,” and instead be the place in which we participate actively in the heavenly liturgy, the cardinal concluded.

Friday 12 June 2015

Mass for the Sacred Heart of Jesus tonight

For anyone within striking distance and a yearning to switch off your television set and do something less boring insted...


Celebratory refreshments afterwards 
in the Pope John Paul Room

Monday 8 June 2015

Messing with the Mass: The problem of priestly narcissism today

More than one person has drawn attention to a piece on narcissism in relation to the oddities of some modern liturgical experience on the Catholic Education Resource Centre site. Messing with the Mass: The problem of priestly narcissism today. It is well worth ploughing through the first part to get to the meat of the article.

Lest you think it overstates its case, do have a look at this video, which I found on my Facebook feed but don't have the technical know-how to post it directly here. It is a wedding but the priest is wearing a chasuble, so we can presume that it is also Mass. I WAS SHOCKED!

This man could surely do with following the advice of the chicken in the picture above!

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Corpus Christi Mass

Thursday 4th June - Feast of Corpus Christi.
Sung Mass in the Traditional Form at 7pm, 
followed by celebratory refreshments
here at St Catherine's Church

Monday 1 June 2015

Chartres Pilgrimage

A Cathedral full of young people await the start of  a Traditional Mass and a Traditional Pilgrimage

A friend of mine on the Chartres Pilgrimage gives the following account of his experiences. He is in his mid- 20s and works in London in a professional job. Just a little more evidence of what what in reality might actually attract able young people to the Church.


Jubilant, and blister free, I have just returned from the annual three day pilgrimage from Notre-Dame de Paris to Notre-Dame de Chartres, organised by The Association of Our Lady of Christendom. The theme for the pilgrimage this year was “Jesus Christ Saviour of the World” and each day through Mass, spiritual exercises, confession and praying the Rosary we felt a real sense of hope for the Church!

Drawing together thousands of people, from places as far away as the Middle East, in a very simple way we saw our rich Catholic tradition manifest on the Parisian streets and in the French countryside. For the second time in three years I was a part of an overtly faithful youthful, dynamic and challenging witness to the universality of Catholicism.

This year the schedule had to be changed because of the limited space on the ferry, instead of meeting at Westminster Cathedral for Mass, we met St Pancras to take the Eurostar directly to Paris. At the station I was immediately stuck with the sense of familiarity and friendship among the group. Suddenly I, in reality a mere novice, had become a seasoned veteran able to answer the many questions of those who were about to embark on their first experience of Chartres.

Sharing the carriage with other travellers, we had to forgo the usual housekeeping introductions. Nevertheless we did have the chance to come together on the short journey to Paris and, over those 2 hours, we spoke about why we were joining the pilgrimage. On arriving in to Gare du Nord we made the short trip to our hotel and each person went their separate way to make preparations for the next day; for me this included dinner and stocking up on essential supplies for the trip. The pilgrimage started on Saturday morning as we arrived outside Notre Dame Cathedral and loaded our bags onto the Etrangers van to be transported along the journey. Each year on the first day there is always the tangible feeling that we are all about to embark on an arduous journey, one together in faith.

The three day pilgrimage is incredibly liberating, it provides everyone with the opportunity for silent contemplation and like it or not a chance to escape everyday distractions of a mobile, watch, work etc. The pilgrimage organisers prepared mediations for the priests to lead throughout the walk. Each one was inspiring in content and uplifting in message; covering faith, tradition, history and modern day events. I personally benefitted from these 20 minute periods of contemplation and personal prayer, which were a good relief to the usual noise and hustle and bustle of my daily life in London.

It was with great enthusiasm that we entered and took our allotted place at the front the Cathedral with the Normandy region. This year we were around 50 pilgrims, making up the two British chapters; walking under the banners of Our Lady of Walsingham and Saint Alban. What more of an inspiring way to start off a pilgrimage could we have had that to participate, in a packed Notre-Dame, in a Solemn Mass celebrated by Dom Louis-Marie OSB, Abbot of Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, in the presence of The Right Reverend Jérôme Beau, Auxiliary Bishop of Paris; both of whom peached superbly and directed us to continue in prayer and to be proud of our faith. After the blessing of the banners the pilgrimage started in earnest.

Walking through the streets of Paris I reflected on what impact the throng of Catholics, banners unfurled, would have on the ordinary lives of those who live and work in this major European city. On a practical note, the support team worked with such organised precision that each chapter was protected, guided, assisted and when needed encouraged to make the next stage of the journey. We walked at a brisk pace and on leaving the built-up city we arrived into rural France, where at the first stop we were welcomed by fresh water and the most refreshing apple that I can remember! Throughout the rest of the day we were blessed by superb weather, and after 12 hours of walking the group had come together as a unit working with and for each other. Walking into the first campsite we were lucky that our bags and tents were situated at the entrance. The relief on peoples’ faces was obvious and after a brief moment of calm, the pilgrims went about their own routines of unpacking, cleaning and eating, before bedding down for the night in preparation for the next days’ early start.

Pentecost Sunday was special this weekend. Stopping at a racecourse on the route, the pilgrims gathered in the open air to attend Mass celebrated by The Right Reverend Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., Auxiliary Bishop of Astana. Pentecost is a wonderful solemnity which speaks about the universality of the Church, and at that moment I was surrounded by thousands of people, from the far reaches of the globe, attending Mass which was familiar and close to their hearts. It amazes me that in a field, which seemed far from civilisation, people were on their knees praying the Mass, in front of a magnificent ‘temporary sanctuary’, with the hundreds of Priests hearing Confession, and a super choir evoking the sense of the sacred. Each day, it was an uplifting sight to see young and old, religious and lay kneeling in the country lanes receiving confession. I was mindful of what Pope Francis had said just a few weeks earlier “Everyone should leave the confessional with happiness in their hearts and a face radiant with hope even if sometimes, as we all know, it is bathed with the tears of conversion and the joy that comes from that.”

Bishop Schneider offered the most inspiring and heartfelt sermon for the Mass, himself being a fellow pilgrim, and he pulled no punches in what he had to say. He spoke directly to those gathered in that field, but his words were directed well beyond this captivated congregation. The most salient part for me was his closing exhortation: “What a beautiful vocation it is to be a true Catholic! What a beautiful vocation to fight for the integrity of the Faith, and the commandments of God! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a Catholic family, a domestic Church! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a chaste young man, or a chaste young woman! What a beautiful vocation it is to be a seminarian and a priest with a pure and ardent heart!” Following the Mass we set off for the final stages of Sunday’s march. As we continued into the afternoon and early evening, just as it had been on the first day, the group was feeling strong and elated by the day’s events. We were all given a life as we saw, with 2 hours left to walk for the day, the spires of Chartres Cathedral in the distance.

Arriving at the campsite that evening we were all feeling in high spirits and, after a day of beautiful weather, welcomed the coolness of the evening. Having completed the usual ritual of washing and eating, I headed up to the transportable Altar at the center of the campsite to attend exposition and benediction – which was presided over by The Right Reverend Michel Pansard, Bishop of Chartres. It was a beautiful way to round off the day in quiet adoration, and the Bishop spoke about the need to consecrate our lives to the Blessed Virgin Mary; every step on our pilgrimage being a prayer to the Mediatrix of all graces.  

During the final day of the walk I was conflicted between the feeling of relief and joy that the end was in sight, and the feeling of sadness that the experience seemed all too short! The chapter had become on community of friends, who had been on a journey together and who would, no doubt, share these experiences going forward. The last day is much shorter than the others, but it does still involve over 5 hours of walking! They were, for me, the best 5 hours. We sang out in loud voice Jubilate Deo! as we approached Chartres Cathedral, unlike in 2013 the bells were silent, but for that fact we sang out even louder. During the Mass, offered by The Very Reverend Emmanuel-Marie, Abbot of Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse.

It is hard to describe the feeling of being surrounded by thousands of people who have all just completed such an arduous walk, yet are elated and singing out in joy at arriving in front of the Cathedral. As the procession of the statues of Our Lady, the banners, the Priests and Religious and Sacred Ministers passed through the streets the pilgrims were on their feet singing and applauding – nous avons arrive! The Mass was the perfect end to the day, before we all wound our way to the comforts of the local hotel.

On Tuesday morning we had Mass together in the crypt of the Cathedral, where Fr Bede Rowe gave a perfectly pitched sermon which resonated very personally and spiritually with our group; to him I can only say thank you for summing up in a few short sentences the depth of feeling I had experienced. A special thanks has to be given to 2 other priests who accompanying us on our journey, Fr Joseph Gedeon and Fr Alexander Redman. Both gave strong spiritual direction to those who requested it, and heard countless confessions as we walked.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about themselves and their faith, familiar with the extraordinary form or not, indeed Catholic or not, to consider making this pilgrimage next year! It has become an important part of my year, and I have made some strong friends through this journey.

Regina sacratissimi Rosarii – Ora pro nobis!