Wednesday 30 March 2016

Ad Orientem

Ad Orientem - the sign of the Resurrection.  St John Damascene (645-749AD) seems to think so - a timely thought in this Easter season. Considering it is the Year of Mercy as well, he reminds us that the Mercy Seat is placed towards the East. 
Chapter 12. Concerning Worship towards the East.
It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit.
Since, therefore, God is spiritual light (1 John 1:5), and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to His worship. For everything good must be assigned to Him from Whom every good thing arises. Indeed the divine David also says, Sing unto God, you kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord: to Him that rides upon the Heavens of heavens towards the East. Moreover the Scripture also says, And God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed (Genesis 2:8): and when he had transgressed His command He expelled him and made him to dwell over against the delights of Paradise , which clearly is the West. So, then, we worship God seeking and striving after our old fatherland.
Moreover the tent of Moses (Leviticus 16:14) had its veil and mercy seat towards the East. Also the tribe of Judah as the most precious pitched their camp on the East. (Numbers 2:3) Also in the celebrated temple of Solomon the Gate of the Lord was placed eastward. Moreover Christ, when He hung on the Cross, had His face turned towards the West, and so we worship, striving after Him. And when He was received again into Heaven He was borne towards the East, and thus His apostles worship Him, and thus He will come again in the way in which they beheld Him going towards Heaven (Acts 1:11); as the Lord Himself said, As the lightning comes out of the East and shines even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:27) .
So, then, in expectation of His coming we worship towards the East. But this tradition of the apostles is unwritten. For much that has been handed down to us by tradition is unwritten.

Monday 28 March 2016

Blessed rest

 Blessed relief this morning offering a quiet weekday Mass after the exertions of the Triduum.
Having said that, our numbers held up well and the music (always good and always properly liturgical) was enhanced even further this year by some visiting singers - pretty spectacular in our little church. Thanks to our Master of all things musical in the parish.
Thanks also to the altar boys - the adults were mostly away this year, but they managed splendidly. 
Some pictures of of the church dressed in battle array.

 He is risen! alleluia!

The Blessed Mother.

Our Patron.

Mother Teresa at our shrine to pray for the unborn and for all children.

The Easter vestment.

Friday 25 March 2016

Music for the Easter Vigil at 7.30pm

Jubilate Deo
Roland de Lassus (1530-94)

Sicut Cervus
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1524-94)

Gloria and Mass
Missa 'O Quam Gloriosum'
Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

Regina Caeli Laetare
Francesco Soriano (1548-1621)

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Good Friday Music 3pm

Eram  Quasi Agnus & Improperia 
(The Reproaches)

   Tomás Luis de Victoria (1564 – 1611)

Crux Fidelis

 attr. King Juan IV de Portugal (1604 – 1656)

O Vos Omnes

 Giovanni Croce (1557 – 1609)

Passion Chorale


Monday 21 March 2016

Music for Holy Thursday 7.30pm

Missa Brevis  - Palestrina

Christus Factus Est  –  Anerio

Ubi Caritas  –  Plainchant  alternatim Dalitz

Ave Verum –  Byrd

Pange Lingua 
 Plainchant alternatim  –  Palestrina

Friday 18 March 2016

Holy Week at St Catherine Labouré


8.30am Said Mass (OF)
10am Sung Mass (OF) with Procession
11.30am - Low Mass in the Traditional Form (EF)


7.30pm Mass of the Lord's Supper (OF)
Watching at the Altar of Repose until...
9.50pm Compline


3pm Liturgy of the Lord's Passion


7.30pm The Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter


8.30am Said Mass (OF)
10am Missa Cantata in the Traditional Form (EF)

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Holy Thursday Foot Washing

The Aleteia site carries a report that Cardinal Sarah has reminded priests that they are not obliged to wash the feet of women during Mass on Holy Thursday. They also report on Fr. Joseph Fessio's concerns that now the practice is allowed, it will be imposed by some bishops and superiors. There is also a quote from  Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who feels that in conscience he could not do it. This is good to recall but what a pity that parts of the liturgy now have to be treated as "matters of conscience". We are used to hearing this from political parties who save face on issues on which they are divided by allowing a free vote "as a matter of conscience". The public liturgy of the Church should be - even when there are legitimate variations and differing rites - as unifying. But, of course, if a free interpretation of of what's actually written in the missal has become the usual experience of most Catholics, where insertions, additions and changes are randomly made at the whim (sorry, conscience) of every priest, extraordinary minister and reader we must expect that this attitude will become not just usual, but the "norm" in the technical liturgical sense.  Perhaps we want to become a "broad church" where we are so broad that we don't share anything much at all.

Fortunately, the foot washing is optional, so it might be best to avoid controversy by not including it in the Mass. In my previous parish, we always celebrated it but nowadays, in a much smaller parish, I have never been able to find anything like 12 men to come forward for this act of service. We have Pope Pius XII to blame in this instance, perhaps it might have been better to leave it outside Mass, where presumably it would be a rarity occurring only in convents, monasteries and cathedrals.

This is the article:

Priests are not obligated to wash the feet of women during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, Cardinal Robert Sarah has confirmed.

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments told reporters in Rome on February 26 that every bishop or priest “has to decide in accord with his own conscience, and according to the purpose for which the Lord instituted this feast.”

Sarah’s clarification comes in response to an apparent disparity between the January 6 decree, In Missa in Cena Domini, and the accompanying explanatory note written by the Secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Arthur Roche.

The decree states that “pastors may [possint] select a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God” and that “such small groups can [potest] be made up of men and women.”

And yet in the explanatory note, Archbishop Roche seems to suggest an obligation to choose a group representative of the entire people of God, without specifics as to sex. He writes: “It is for pastors to choose a small group of persons who are representative of the entire people of God — lay, ordained ministers, married, single, religious, healthy, sick, children, young people and the elderly — and not just one category or condition.”

Cardinal Sarah’s clarification comes after bishops and priests have voiced concerns about the new rubric, which permits the washing of women’s feet during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Before the foot-washing mandatum was changed by Pius XII and inserted into the Mass on Holy Thursday, women’s feet could be washed, but only by other women, and the ceremony took place outside of the Mass.

In a February 2, 2016, interview, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, said that according to his conscience, he could not include women in the foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday. Bishop Schneider acknowledged that the revised mandatum isn’t binding, saying: “Thanks be to God no priest or bishop is obliged to wash publicly the feet of women on Holy Thursday, for there is no binding norm for it, and the foot washing itself is only facultative.”

Jesuit priest and founder of Ignatius Press, Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, has also weighed in, suggesting with skepticism that permissions are often misunderstood as requirements: “Of course it should be made clear that this is a permission, not a requirement,” he said. “But even that clarity won’t affect what actually happens.

“Here’s a similar situation in which we can already see the results: When permission was given for female altar servers, it was a permission given to bishops, not directly to priests (i.e., if a bishop so chose, he could permit the practice in the diocese). It was clear in the decree that no priest was required to have female servers, even if the bishop had given the permission. How was this treated? Many bishops insisted that the regular use of altar girls be normative for all Masses.

“So this new permission will be (and already has been) treated as a requirement.”

As to the substance, Fessio added: “The rite of washing of feet is not required, ever. As canon law now stands, duodecim viri (not duodecim homines) is specified.”

“Of course, as supreme legislator, the pope can (in theory) change the law any which way he desires,” Fr. Fessio acknowledged. “But the prototype is, of course, the Last Supper where Jesus washes the feet not of his disciples, not of people chosen randomly from the crowds but of the apostles, and tells them they should wash ‘one another’s’ feet. That is, ordained ministers should follow this example among themselves. Which is probably why, though the evidence for the rite in the early Church is very thin, we do know that in the 11th century the pope washed the feet of subdeacons. Certainly from the time of Trent (16th century) until 1955, the rite was not part of the Mass.

“One thing is certain,” Fr. Fessio said. “There is a ‘symbolic dissonance’ or disconnect. The humility and service of which Jesus gives an example is something every Christian owes everyone. Nevertheless, the historical origin of the example is Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 apostles. Trying to make the gesture more ‘inclusive’ than Jesus himself did simply muddles the historical image.”

Monday 7 March 2016

Bishop Schneider's Mass in Warrington

I wasn't able to get to St Mary's at Warrington on Sunday morning - rather busy here in my own parish. However, there are plenty of great photos you can access via Dropbox (it looks at first as though you have to sign up to view the photos but you don't - just click on them). Or you can go through the FSSP England Facebook Page.

 Showing the magnificent church to its advantage - with the restored sanctuary in use.

 Looks like the Bishop was giving it to them hot!

Saturday 5 March 2016

Don't forget Laetare Sunday tomorrow

Laetare Jerusalem: 
et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: 
gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis:
ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.
 Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. 
Gloria Patri...

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: 
and come together all you that love her: 
rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: 
that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.  
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: 
we shall go into the house of the Lord. 
Glory be to the Father...

Wednesday 2 March 2016


I spoke in my last post about attitude and was reminded of the effect this can have when I was in the USA recently. I was fortunate to visit the Carmel of the Infant of Prague, Traverse City, Michigan. There are only five Sisters there - of varying ages - but they are not planning for inevitable decline and finding ways to manage for eventual closure. Quite the contrary, trusting in God's providence, they seem to have renewed their efforts to live the full Carmelite life. As their web site puts it:

"We maintain:
Full Habit
Papal Enclosure
Gregorian Chant in Latin
1990 Constitutions
Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Masses."


Perhaps what is most telling of their sense of confidence in the Holy Spirit is the renewal of their liturgical life through  the remodelling of their church and sanctuary. This went form what you see above to what you see below.  Quite a stunning change, designed by architect Duncan Stroik. The Sisters put it rather well on their web-site - they wanted to "free the sanctuary of its dated look". They are still planning for the future. Great attitude!

While it probably is necessary to close some parishes here in the UK, there is a sense that we have no confidence that things will ever improve, that the message of God in all its richness will find a home among our fellow citizens ever again. The loss of confidence that we are only managing our eventual annihilation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps we hardly believe in the supernatural any more, so how can we hope to inspire others to do so? Nowhere is this more reflected than in the physical environment of our churches and liturgy. There seems to be a great desire to domesticate the liturgical space: it is to be carpeted like our sitting rooms, focus on altars the size of tables, contain a children's play area, chairs and no kneelers, devoid of any statues, everything on the sanctuary is to be accessible, touchable, approachable, not set aside.  In domesticating the space and the liturgy we domesticate God; the supernatural becomes merely human and robbed of all its power to inspire and to speak of the world we cannot see, the world of eternity. The Faith is tamed and who wants to go and see a toothless tiger? Jesus had "attitude" and so should we.