Tuesday 28 June 2016

Ad Multos Annos, Father Ratzinger.

Joseph, left, and Georg Ratzinger, at the welcome ceremony 
in their home parish in Traunstein after their priestly ordination.

The Feast of Ss Peter & Paul this year sees the 65th anniversary of the priestly Ordination of Pope emeritus Benedict.   In his biography “Milestones, Memoirs 1927-1977,” the retired pontiff described the date as a “radiant summer day,” of which he wrote: 
“We should not be superstitious, but at the moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird - perhaps a lark -  flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song.”  “And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words, ‘This is good; you are on the right path’.”
Before we even begin to talk of his extraordinary body of writing and his great witness in the Church, I was reminded of an incident redolent of his holiness, of which I wrote here, about the cure of  a young American after receiving his blessing. 

Masses at our little parish for the Feast are at 9.30am (OF) and a Missa Cantata at 7pm.

Tuesday 21 June 2016

As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying priests...

This is an ideal place from which to work 
for Justice and Peace.

I came across this below on the Liturgy Guy site and thought it worth sharing, as it has often been my own experience over the years. The sign of the cassock somehow indicates that you are hardly a Christian and any exhibition of things traditionally Catholic puts you "living in the past" - never mind that the "past" was the Church that nourished a thousand saints, many of whom seemed to have been able to combine the wearing of a cassock and  bit of Latin with defending the poor, founding hospitals and schools etc etc.

I recall some years ago when campaigning in the parish with parishioners to keep an asylum seeking family in the county looking for help from the powers that be in the Church and getting none. Our school children marched from the parish to the town centre with placards and banners and got us into the local media; I was threatened with being thrown out of the town hall (in cassock) for interrupting the a council meeting from the public gallery, when the case came under discussion(even the two  Catholic Labour councillors from the parish towed the party line). Sadly, (under Mr Blair's kindly government) the family were whisked away from their home in the parish in the dead of the night and eventually deported via a holding centre (back to the African country where their father had been murdered) even though we had got wind of it several times and though bombardment with phone calls and e-mails, they were three times taken off the plane. The parish set up a fund to put the children through school, once they had been sent back.

It sounds like a social justice issue, doesn't it? But it really couldn't have been, after all, the children sang Latin at Mass and Fr was wearing a biretta.

Father Kyle Doustou finds that the same attitude is still alive and well but good for him in making a hearty response.


This past week Sulpician Fr. Phillip J. Brown, rector of the Theological College, the national diocesan seminary of the Catholic University of America, thought it a good idea to grant an interview to the dissident media outlet the National Catholic Reporter. The topic? Is there a “Francis effect” noticeable to Fr. Brown among the current crop of seminarians, and if so, what does it look like?

In the article, Fr. Brown and the NCR present the all too common false narrative of the Catholic Left: namely, that those already ordained to the priesthood in recent years are not really interested in works of mercy and pastoral care, but rather only about traditionalism, and matters such as wearing the cassock and Communion on the tongue.

The following response is courtesy of Father Kyle Doustou, a priest of the Diocese of Portland, Maine. It is presented here with his permission.

A Young Priest Sets the Record Straight for the Catholic Left

The National Catholic Reporter article, written from an interview given by the out-going Rector of my former seminary, is very hurtful. The men who were formed in and ordained from Theological College over the past 10 years are some of the best and most pastoral men and priests that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Inventing a false dichotomy between a love for the Church’s traditions and a love for the people of God is a manipulative, ideological tool used to push forth one’s personal agenda.

I have known Father Brown for many years, and have a great deal of respect and admiration for him personally, but this public interview he gave with an openly dissenting “Catholic” publication warrants an alumnus response.

As one of the many cassock-wearing, Communion-on-the-tongue-receiving, Latin-loving, Extraordinary-Form-Mass-saying young priests that have passed through the halls of Theological College, allow me to say plainly to anyone who would agree with the tone and sentiment of this article that you have deliberately and painfully pigeon-holed men who love the Church and cast us to be pompous little monsters simply because we have a different theological/liturgical outlook than you.

You condescend towards us as if we were not thinking, opining, and sincere men.

You gossip about us, ensuring that we are “put in our places” and “taught a thing or two” by your confreres.

You confuse our strong convictions with arrogance and accuse us of being staunch when we are trying more than anything else to be faithful, helpful, and loving.

But let’s be quite honest…you don’t really know us because you never took the time to get to know us. You saw us when we were in the seminary chapel or over breakfast…but that’s about it.

Have you seen us at 2:00 AM in the hospital?

Have you seen us working late into the night on a funeral homily?

Have you seen us giving up our one day off a week to visit with a lonely elderly parishioner?

Have you seen us on our knees at night before the tabernacle weeping because we just buried a child earlier that day?

Have you seen us celebrate four Masses on a weekend, hear hours of confessions, and still show up to Sunday evening Youth Ministry?

Have you seen us wear the same pair of socks two days in a row because we simply ran out of time to do laundry?

Have you seen us muster a smile even when we’re exhausted, or miss Christmas with our families because we’re assigned 300 miles away, or forget to eat dinner because there’s another meeting to go to?

The answer is no. What you see are the cassocks and birettas and fiddleback chasubles and accuse us of being “out of touch.” Well the reality is, you are guilty of the very thing you accuse us of. You ignore our humanity, our struggle, our sincerity, and you fixate on external things to make your judgments.

As difficult as it is at times, I love being a priest with my whole heart. Not because it offers me an exalted status or any privileges, but because it offers me, and the people I serve, the means by which to attain salvation. I love the people I serve to death, and I would do anything within my means to help them. If you look at my cassock and presume otherwise, I can only feel sorry for you.

Myself and the other men who were indirectly insulted in this interview are the ones on the battlefield. As parish priests, we work hard, sacrifice hard, and try daily to live solely for God in Jesus Christ. Instead of insinuating that Theological College had to somehow put up with a decade or more of rigid, overly-conservative, and ideological seminarians, why not offer us a word of encouragement and perhaps even a prayer or two?

Friday 17 June 2016

Mass at Sizergh Castle this evening

I'm celebrating Low Mass at Sizergh Castle this today - Friday 17th June at 7pm.  Anyone who can get along there would be very welcome. The castle is one of the longest inhabited houses in the country - lived in by the same family since 1239.

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

The gentleman pictured above sporting the trendy beard is St. Gregory Barbarigo. According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII, today is his feast day. He was only canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960. He was the Bishop of Bergamo and of Padua. St. Gregory was noted as a distinguished churchman and leading citizen whose charities were on a princely scale. He worked for unity of the Latin and Orthodox Churches.

St. Gregory was born on September 16, 1625, and he died in 1697. His family lived in Venice and were held in high repute by the people there. He was the fourth son. He excelled in his studies at an early age and became interested in diplomacy and statesmanship. He knew Contarine, the Venetian ambassador, and went with him on at least one ambassadorial mission.

After he was ordained a priest in 1655, he organized care for the plague-stricken people of Rome. In 1657, Pope Alexander VII made him the first Bishop of Bergamo. He was a leader in promoting the reforms of the Council of Trent. He visited parishes, organizing the teaching of Christian doctrine and also worked with seminarians and clergy to raise their standards. His work was so respected that in 1660, he was made the Cardinal of Padua.

St. Gregory was extremely interested in higher education and worked for the development of seminaries and libraries. He established a printing press that printed pamphlets for Christians under Moslem rule. He was active in labouring to bring about a reunion with the Greek Church. St. Gregory took part in five papal Conclaves and was a candidate in three of them. It is recorded that his congregation thought him to be a man filled with wisdom.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

The Actual Mass changes sanctioned by Vatican II

The clip above is from a 1969 Elvis Presley film "Change of Habit". I'm not aware of having come across it before but the juxtaposition of the Mass going on in the traditional manner (1965 Missal, it seems) while Mr Presley gyrates to the strumming of the guitar struck me as a particularly extraordinary form of the Mass. (Although there is a continuity blip at about 3 minutes in where a lady in a blue dress from the Offertory procession seems to be assisting at the altar; perhaps some advanced liturgical experimenting already setting in?)

I found it on Mgr Pope's site Community and Mission, in a post examining the "actual" Mass endorsed by Vatican II before the modernists got their hands on moving everything along in the spirit, rather than according to what was actually mandated.

That being said, if I'd ever heard any guitar group and singers as good as this in church, perhaps I wouldn't mind so much... 
... well, perhaps.

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Modern Church architecture - "Sometimes it goes wrong"

According to an article in the Telegraph newspaper, Cardinal Ravasi has taken against the architectural style - or lack of it - in modernist churches being built recently. I think the trouble is that churches - and the wanton "re-orderings" that go on - are usually carried out by architects with no feel for liturgy and no experience of faith. Thus, the elements that make an excellent dentist's waiting room do not transpose themselves to the creation of a beautiful or suitable church. Without an understanding of the history of church architecture and liturgy, an architect designs a space for people to gather in that reflects secular gathering places - dentist's waiting rooms, theatre's, academic auditoria, sports facilities. While some elements of light, comfort, ease of access can be learnt from these, without the major element of understanding what a church is principally used for - the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - we are left short-changed.


Opposition is mounting in the Holy See to a spate of recent, ultra-modern churches, in Italy and abroad, by high profile architects.

"The lack of integration between the architect and the faith community has at times been negative," said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's Pontificial Council for Culture. "Sometimes it goes wrong."

Cardinal Ravasi said a church built in 2009 in Foligno, Italy by the celebrated Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, which resembles a monolithic concrete cube, has been "highly criticised".
In his native town of Merate in Lombardy, Cardinal Ravasi said the local priest needed to bring his own image of the Madonna to mass, because Mario Botta, the architect who designed the church, had not installed one.

"The problem is that in Catholicism, unlike Protestantism, things like the altar, the images, are essential, while architects tend instead to focus on space, lines, light and sound," said Cardinal Ravasi.

The last architects to work closely with the church were back in the 17th century Baroque era, he added.
Cardinal Ravasi's attack was backed last month by Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican museums, when he spoke at the launch of a book celebrating the building of dozens of new churches in the suburbs of Rome since the 1990s.

Instead of praising the churches, Mr Paolucci lashed out, claiming that: "At best, these are like museums, spaces that do not suggest prayer or meditation."

Cardinal Ravasi conceded that one of Rome's most controversial new churches – Richard Meier's Jubilee Church, which resembles a yacht with spinnakers hoisted – had won over locals, but complained that "the building materials were the focus of pre-construction meetings, not the liturgical life".

Cardinal Ravasi was speaking after inaugurating the Vatican's first ever art exhibit at the Venice Biennale on Saturday, which focuses on the Book of Genesis through photography and paintings by a Los Angeles artist, Lawrence Carroll, who uses melting ice in one work.

Vatican officials believe the show can help heal what they call a century old "fracture" between religion and art, and Cardinal Ravasi said the Church now had its sights on commissioning modern liturgical art, for installing in churches.

"The Venice Biennale exhibit has been the first step on a journey," he said. "Further down the line could come liturgical art, meaning we could commission modern artists to create altars, fonts, tabernacles, lecterns, pews and kneelers," he added.

But after letting modern architects push the envelope too far, the Church will keep a wary eye on liturgical art commissions, he said.

"We will need to build up dialogue with artists before we commission any liturgical art," he said.


Here are some of the examples from around Rome and no wonder he criticises them... but I'm sure we could all think of examples closer to home... I know I can!