Thursday 27 August 2015

Stinking Pews

Hatred of Le Pew.
Fr George Rutler doesn't have a very high opinion of pews. An interesting and enlightening article on "The Problem with Pews" over at Crisis Magazine. To be read as much for Fr Rutler's excellent turn of phrase as much as anything else.
Pews contradict worship. They suburbanize the City of God and put comfort before praise.
 On Islam: a desiccated offshoot of Christianity.
Filling churches with pews was chiefly the invention of the later Protestant revolution that replaced adoration with edification.
Solemn Mass
as a Sacred Dance, though a thing far different from the embarrassing geriatric ballets called “liturgical dancing.”  
Worse than plain wooden pews are those that are upholstered. Goodbye acoustics.   And anyone who gives priority to the softness of his seat rather than the sound of song, should humbly ask forgiveness of St. Cecilia who died suffering from more than the lack of a cushion, but was comforted—and eternally so—by good music.
 I pass along my unsolicited views to polish my credentials as an earnest curmudgeon.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Support for Persecuted Christians

I wish I had some church bells! A great initiative to support those Christians who are suffering persecution by ringing church bells for the call to prayer this Saturday - the feast of the Assumption - or, I suppose, on Sunday, if you happen to live in a country like England where the feast day has been transferred.  Even if you haven't got any bells, gathering to pray at 12 noon would be an act of charity.  I am celebrating a Traditional Form Mass of the Assumption at 12 noon on Saturday, so we will be joining in as best we can - even without the bells.
The initiative seems to have come from the Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon,  Dominique Rey - a great leader in the Church today. I met him first through the Bravade at San Tropez but his diocese is thriving with new priests.

You can read s fuller report at Aleteia but here are some details:
Fréjus-Toulon, Gap and Embrun, Bayonne, Avignon, Ajaccio, and now Digne ... So far, six bishops have decided that the bells will ring in all the churches of their diocese on Saturday, August 15, 2015. The faithful are called to gather in front of their churches at noon to show their brotherly support of the Eastern Christians who are prey to the wickedest persecutions because of their faith.

This initiative comes exactly a year after the dramatic events that Aleteia was among the first to relay, as early as August 7, 2014 : the fall of Mosul, then Qaraqosh and all the plain of Nineveh. The mass exodus of Christians on the roads and the massacre of Yezidis at mount Sinjar finally made the international public opinion react. But a year later, can we really say that there has been a true reaction to Daesh and the Syrian drama?

Launched by Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, this initiative has already been taken up by several other bishops, 
and by the Catholic Church in France. But this is just the beginning, hopefully: can we not dream of hearing all the bells of France ringing in honor of our persecuted brothers? Or, who knows, the bells of all the churches around the world?

Faced with the persecutions and massacres suffered by the Christians of the East, especially in Syria and Iraq, these dioceses want to express in this way their solidarity and pray for them. "This is a gesture of prayer, solidarity, peace and faith,” says Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, archbishop of Avignon. “We believe it can have a real impact." Sometimes one gesture can change everything...

Monday 10 August 2015

Message to the marginalized

Others have noted yet another excellent interview with Bishop Athanasius Schneider, given this time to the Spanish-Language website, Adelante La Fe (Advance the Faith) but I thought it worth drawing attention to as well.  Particularly for his words to those of us who really do feel on the periphery of the Church as it has expressed itself in more recent times of the hermeneutic of discontinuity.  Having met him on more than one occasion, I can testify to how encouraging he is and a man of obvious deep faith and holiness.  You can read the full interview at OnePeterFive.  Here are his words addressed to those of us who feel on the periphery...
I would like to say to these priests, seminarians, young people and families: “It is an honor and a privilege to be faithful to the Divine truth and to the spiritual and liturgical traditions of our forefathers and of the saints and being therefore marginalized by those who currently occupy administrative power in the Church. This your fidelity and courage constitute the real power in the Church. You are the real ecclesiastical periphery, which with God’s power renews the Church. Living the true tradition of dogma, liturgy and holiness is a manifestation of the democracy of the Saints, because tradition is the democracy of the Saints. With Saint Athanasius I would like to tell you these words: Those in the Church who oppose, humiliate and marginalize you, have occupied the churches, while during this time you are outside; it is a fact that they have the premises – but you have the Apostolic Faith. They claim that they represent the Church, but in reality, they are the ones who are expelling themselves from it and going astray (cf. Letter to his flock)”.

Incidentally, Bishop Schneider will be ordaining two priests for the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem later this year. Please pray for Deacons John and Alban - both great men who have persevered through many difficult times to come to this day:

With the blessing and presence of Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield,
ordinary of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston
Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer, CRNJ, Prior, announces
The ordination to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ of
Dom John Berchmans Tonkin, CRNJ
Dom Alban Baker, CRNJ
At the hands of the Right Reverend Athanasius Schneider, ORC
Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan
Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM
St. James the Greater Catholic Church
49 Crosswinds Drive, Charles Town, WV 25414 

Here are the brethren from a few years ago on a visit to the UK.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Mass with Bishop Robert Byrne and Investiture in Manchester

 The High Altar awaiting Mass.

The Priory of Great Britain had the great pleasure of welcoming new members into the Order 
at the Oratorian Community's Church of St Chad in Manchester, 
following Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Byrne. 

 Conf. Andrew McDermott leads the procession with the ceremonial sword.

 Thanks to those who served from the parish of St Chad, as well as from St Catherine's and friends of the Order.

Since moving to St Chad's the Oratorian Community have been working tirelessly to build up the parish, including a present large scale renovation with £250,000 from the English Heritage Lottery Fund. (Although they still have to raise £60,000 to complete this first stage of the work.) Hence the scaffolding down the south aisle of the church.

 Bishop Robert Byrne celebrated the Mass of St James the Great 
in the splendid vestments belonging to the Oratorian Community.

 Fr Ray Matus chants the Epistle.

 Fr Richard Bailey chants the Gospel.

 At the conclusion of Mass the Investiture was proclaimed.

 Bishop Robert blesses the insignia.

 The 50th Grand Master
HE Jan Count Dobrzenský z Dobrzenicz

Bishop Byrne and the Grand Master at Luncheon 
in the Midland Hotel afterwards.

Further pictures and a full report at 

Thanks to Mr John Robinson for the splendid photographs.
Thanks also to Fr Richard Bailey and Chev. Anthony Dickinson for arranging the music, 
which was excellent and included Mozart's Mass in C.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Ordination Anniversary

Congratulations to Canon Altiere of the Institute of Christ the King at Preston, who celebrated his first anniversary of Ordination today with Missa Cantata for Our Lady of the Snows.  Saint Walburge's church is certainly a splendid setting for the Mass.

Monday 3 August 2015

Chavagnes College and a bit of sunshine

I spent last week at Chavagnes International College, the renowned English boarding school for boys in the heart of the Vendee in France.  The boys are on holiday at this time of year but other groups use the college, including one group with a Religious Brother who had no English at all (and my french is rather limited). When it came to saying Mass, this was no problem as he served for me in the Traditional Form, so the universal language of the Church and Her ancient Rite enabled us to pray together with no difficulties.

The College puts the faith and the Mass at the heart of all that it does, celebrated in term time for the boys daily, either in OF Latin or in the Traditional Form (and once a week in English).

The Chapel is rather grand (the whole place was built in the 19th century as a junior seminary). Sadly, the altar was messed around with in the years after Vatican II with the usual misunderstanding of what the Council was asking.  However, there are plans to restore it.

Without the reredos the altar gives the appearance of being too squat. Fortunately some of the original reredos is still in existence and could be re-instated.


This little film collage gives an impression of college life
together with a sample of the choir's singing.

One of the windows in the parish church across the road from the College depicts its time as a junior seminary together with Venerable Louis-Marie Baudouin, founder of the seminary and much besides.

Nearby in La Rabatelière there is an extraordinary shrine built in 1887 in honour of Our lady of La Salette. It was built by the local parish priest, who must have been a man of some energy and persuasion, as it is quite a place!

In this chapel, there is a large wooden cross, carved from the wood of a tree in the park of the nearby castle. Weighing 500 kilos, it was taken to Jerusalem. On its return from the Holy Land on September 28, 1893, the entire population of Rabatelière, led by the parish priest and the mayor, went to L'Herbergement to the train station and carried it barefoot  in procession for 13 km. At the foot of the Cross are statues of Faith and Vendée martyrdom.

Also nearby is the beautiful town of Clisson - with churches, castle... and sunshine, 
something not much in evidence in England this summer!