Tuesday 20 December 2016

Christmas Masses

Christmas Masses at St Catherine Labouré
Stanifiled Lane
PR25 4QG


 First Mass of Christmas at 11pm
(OF Sung Latin)
(followed by a glass of wine in the Pope John Paul Room)


8.30am (OF Said English)

10am Missa Cantata
(EF Sung Latin)

Wednesday 14 December 2016

A small mercy for priests

As Christmas approaches, I thought I thought it would be a mercy to re-post one of those letters (the first) that Cardinal Piacenza used to address to clergy in his time as Prefect for the Congregation of Clergy. I always found them uplifting and full of a sense of care and joyful hope about those whom he was addressing. A father encouraging the best from his sons and pointing them in the right direction to stay on the good path or return to it if they had strayed. The Lord knows, we priests need all the encouragement we can get in these times.

Dear Priests and Deacons,

At this time, when the Holy Father has graciously named me as the new Prefect, I would like to take the opportunity to convey a cordial greeting to each and every one of you.

The Eucharist Celebrated and Adored

The Year for Priests, recently brought to a conclusion, remains always before us, both in its content and in its model of sanctity, St John Mary Vianney. With regard to its content, it is to be fully assimilated into the environment of the formation of the Clergy, both in the initial and ongoing stages, especially concerning to the central place it wished to recognise of the Eucharist, celebrated and adored; with regard to the model of sanctity that was offered, the heroic participation of the Curé of Ars in the self-giving of Christ for the life of men shines forth, and that witness spurs us continually to offer ourselves to the Lord in the "fragrant sacrifice".

It is in the contemplation and adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist that each priest and deacon begins to understand the exigencies of his own personal participation in the mystery of Christ, "the pure Victim, the holy Victim, the immaculate Victim". The life of he priest and deacon becomes increasingly identified with the sacrifice of the altar, consumed by the fire of the Holy Ghost, and rising as a pleasing fragrance in the presence of the Father.

First of All, Abide in Him

Even in the face of the storm of the "worldly sea," Jesus of Nazareth repeats to his disciples, "Do not be afraid!" To the temptation of activism and of the fitful searching after solutions that are human, and all too human, He beckons us gently, "Abide in my love" (Jn 15: 9).

The temptation of activism and the fitful searching after solutions that are human, and all too human: His Eminence identifies what lies at the root of so much clerical burn-out, superficiality, and despair.

As the Holy Father Benedict XVI pointed out, "If we continue to read this Gospel passage attentively, we also find a second imperative: "abide", and "observe my commandments". "Observe" only comes second. "Abide" comes first, at the ontological level, namely that we are united with him, he has given himself to us beforehand and has already given us his love, the fruit. It is not we who must produce the abundant fruit; Christianity is not moralism, it is not we who must do all that God expects of the world but we must first of all enter this ontological mystery: God gives himself. His being, his loving, precedes our action and, in the context of his Body, in the context of being in him, being identified with him and ennobled with his Blood, we too can act with Christ" (Allocution at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, 12 February 2010).

It is impossible to observe the commandments of Christ without first abiding in Christ, without making one's dwelling in His open Heart. "His being, His loving," says Cardinal Piacenza, "precedes our action." This is, expressed in biblical terms, what Dom Chautard called, in his spiritual classic, The Soul of the Apostolate.

Dear friends, it is precisely this primacy of the ontological over the ethical, of the "abiding" over the "doing" that is the guarantee, and the only guarantee possible, of the fruitfulness of our apostolate!

In Confidence and Peace

In the face of prevailing secularism and rampant relativism, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman reminds us that:

Christianity has been too often in what seemed deadly peril, that we should fear for it any new trial now. So far is certain; on the other hand, what is uncertain, and in these great contests commonly is uncertain, and what is commonly a great surprise, when it is witnessed, is the particular mode by which, in the event, Providence rescues and saves His elect inheritance. Sometimes our enemy is turned into a friend; sometimes he is despoiled of that special virulence of evil which was so threatening; sometimes he falls to pieces of himself; sometimes he does just so much as is beneficial, and then is removed. Commonly the Church has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God" (Biglietto Speech, 12 May 1879).

A splendid quotation from Blessed John Henry Newman! What can any one of us do but go on his own proper duties, in confidence and peace? "Stand still, " says Blessed Newman, echoing the versicle sung at Tierce on Christmas Eve: V. Constantes estote. R. Videbitis auxilium Domini super vos. "Be ye steadfast. And ye shall see the help of Lord upon you." There is a hidden heroism in quiet fidelity to one's duties sustained by confidence in the Providence of God, and by the peace that is the fruit of such a confidence.

The Mother of Priests

With these sentiments of profound, radical fidelity to the Lord in the Church and in history, in the Lord of my and of your sacerdotal existence, I ask a particular remembrance in your prayers, while I assure you of my pastoral concern, entrusting each one of you to the powerful protection of Her who, by virtue of a most special title, is the Mother of Priests: the Blessed Virgin Mary.

+ Mauro Card. Piacenza

Monday 12 December 2016

Charity Carol Concert

Our annual charity Carol Concert is this coming Saturday. Always a fantastic event. We have raised thousands of pounds at this event over the last five years which has been sent to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for SUROl, the leprosy charity of which he is the patron. Let's make this another great year!

Carol Concert

Free Entry
A collection for the work of SUROL
(those affected by leprosy in Sri Lanka)
will take place
 Mince pies &Mulled wine to follow
 St Catherine’s Church
Stanifield Lane      Farington   PR25 4QG

 Saturday 17th December


Wednesday 7 December 2016

Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The mitre made for Pope Pius IX to wear for the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.

The Fraternity of St Peter Fathers at St Mary's in Warrington have very kindly invited me to preach and assist as deacon at High Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at 7.30pm tomorrow (8th December). So I am looking forward to the music, which they are much blest with there and to seeing friends and acquaintances. Do come along if you can - especially if you have not been to the splendid St Mary's church before.

Thursday 24 November 2016

Bishop Athanasius Schneider on Amoris Laetitia

As you will know, my tipsy meanderings here focus mainly on things liturgical, rather than theological. I have stayed away from commenting on the ongoing Amoris Latitia saga in public (although my name was among those who wrote, originally privately, to the cardinals with a critique of it). Many of whom found that they were then contacted by their bishops and superiors, as the Holy See had already brought their names to the attention of their superiors.

I make no further comment now but Bishop Athanasius Schneider has posted a piece on Rorate Caeli that may be of interest. It draws my attention because, having spent some time in the bishop's company, I have always found him gentle, fair-minded and self-effacing - to say nothing of his insight, clear thinking and directness. A pastor of holiness, so well worth listening to.

Bishop Schneider Mass - Conference - London

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Turn to the Lord?

Lumen Gentium

Well, we this coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. I wonder if anyone is taking up Cardinal Sarah's invitation to celebrate Mass ad orientem more frequently? Despite hearing words of support - at least from among the clergy and people I tend to interact with, I'm not awaiting with baited breath a volte face in parishes across the country. The Cardinal's Sunday of suggestion for this almost passed me by, as all our Masses here are facing the Lord on the altar and in the tabernacle - and towards those clouds, should he happen to be planning to appear in glory this particular year and save all our politicians form their worst decisions. However, I came across an article in the Catholic World Report by Jeannette Flood, which reminded me.  You can read it on-line HERE.

The article is another attempt to explain and teach in a calm way in answer to the cries of horror from modernists, who seem to feel that anything that looks like the Church from pre-1960's is the work of the devil.

It's always a great worry tome when I hear theological and liturgical discussion that references the Second Vatican Council as THE pivotal point in time and history, almost as though the Church had not really been in existence before then or had been suffering an absence of Christ's teaching since the sub-apostolic era: BC - before THE Council; AD after the Documents. It seems to me that one definition of heresy is to take some element of the Faith that is perfectly sound and good and emphasise it out of all proportion. That is, of course, as with all heresy, a devilish thing. The devil doesn't choose an evil to lead us astray but takes a good and makes it  a god.

Before my comments box fills up with accusations of being a Vat II denier, I can say that I do accept the Council and believe it was a good but I also believe there was a good, functioning, holy, effective Catholic and Apostolic Church for nineteen hundred and and sixty two years before that as well and that quite a lot of what it did is still good and holy for us as it was for past generations. Continuity, as with any family, helps to bind us together.

Monday 21 November 2016

The fetid breeze of contemporary culture

I thought that this was an  interesting article over at Crisis Magazine: What real church reform looks like by R J Snell.
A Church constantly opening windows and doors to let in the fetid breeze of contemporary culture is a Church not worth believing in, and so people simply won’t believe in it.

Friday 11 November 2016

MONTHLY CLERGY TALK Wednesday 16th November in Warrington

Priests, deacons and seminarians are invited to a Clergy Evening at 
St Mary's Warrington 
from 6pm 
on Wednesday 16th November. 
There will be Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions available up to 7pm, followed by a presentation by Fr James Mawdsley with a discussion on "Old Testament Prophets Calling Today's Priests to Conversion". Dinner is at 8pm-- please let us know in advance -- if you will stay for dinner so we can plan for numbers.
The words of the Prophets are powerful enough to break rocks even today. They identify problems in the Church and they identify the solution--faithfulness to God. The Old Testament Prophets are not simply recommended reading for priests, but necessary reading. If we heed the warnings and corrections of the prophets, then we are properly open to receiving the great illumination and hope in Christ which is their eternal gift.

Friday 4 November 2016

Jubilee Reception

Archbishop Malcolm presenting me with a Spiritual Bouquet, given by parishioners from St Catherine's and my previous parish, St Cuthbert's, in Wigan.

And a Papal Blessing to follow.

Mr Anthony Dickinson announcing some of the many gifts -
including a generous cheque from the parishioners of St Catherine's,
presented by Mrs Hild Gibbons.

A suitable cake!

The Schola from church displayed their versatility and turned their talents to some songs from the shows to entertain us. A proper reminder that each has its own place!

 The little hall in our parish (the Pope John Paul Room) was far too small to cater for the Reception, so we adjourned across the road to the Farington Conservative Club. Our excellent photographer, John Robinson took plenty of photos, so I will leave those who were there to  find themselves in the selection below. 
We were served lovely hot food by caterers who live in the parish - who are also proprietors of the nearby Cavendish Arms, which Father has been known to frequent on occasion.

 It was great to see so many friends, some of whom I haven't seen in quite a few years. 
Thank you to everyone for making it such a wonderful evening.


Thursday 3 November 2016

Silver Jubilee of Priesthood

 Introibo ad altare Dei!

Friends and readers will know that I recently celebrated twenty five years of priesthood. I'm posting these pictures to enable all those who came to have a look and to share with those friends and family who were not able to be there on the day.

Mass was in the Traditional Form, in which calendar it is the Feast of St Wilfrid, a great English Saint.

 A series of photographs of the entrance procession, 
led by Knights and Dames and priests 
of the
Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem.

 The Order has taken an increasingly important role in my priestly life,
both in supporting its charitable work (particularly through meeting Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and being able to support the work of combating leprosy in his native Sri Lanka) and in the friendships here at home and all over the world that have grown out of  my association with it.

Thanks to the many brother priests 
who joined me on the evening from far and wide, 
particularly all those from my own Archdiocese of Liverpool.

 It all proved a bit of a squeeze getting everyone in, hence we entered through the hall at the back of church, which was opened up for extra seating. I think one of our more venerable parishioners was here almost knocked over! (But quickly assisted.)

 We were joined by members of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest from their nearby churches in Preston and New Brighton (where I made my First Holy Communion some few years ago!)

Thanks to the good Fathers of  Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter,
Frs de Malleray and Mawdsley, 
who, as friends since long before they came to Warrington,
kept the liturgy in shape by acting as deacon and subdeacon.

 My particular thanks to Archbishop Malcolm McMahon for celebrating with me 
- a great supporter of his priests.

 Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

 Thanks to all our altar servers who assisted, 
and especially Max for travelling all the way up from Bristol 
to keep them all in order as MC.


 Intoning the Gloria.


Listening to the Epistle being chanted.

There was nowhere left for Archbishop to preach from in our little church, except from the altar gates!A sermon of the life of St Wilfrid,who had plenty of ups and downs in his priestly ministry!

The Archbishop imposes the blessing on the incense.

 You can just see, standing at the back, the organist and members of the Schola, organised by Mr Anthony Dickinson, who brings excellent music to our liturgies week by week and excels himself on our special occasions. We had plenty of chant, along with Mozart's Sparrow Mass. Mr David-Scott Thomas at the organ. My thanks for the musical splendour.

The Offertory.

 Exuent omnes.

  We spilled out into the night to process back to the clergy marquee!
Specially erected as the overflow sacristy.

There will be another post to follow this one of family, friends and parishioners at the Reception.

My thanks to Mr John Robinson for taking the photographs.