Friday, 15 September 2017

Cardinal Sarah does't want to be robbed



The New Liturgical Movement has the text of the address which His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments delivered to the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum, held at the Pontifical University of St Thomas (Angelicum). The talk is entitled “Silence and the Primacy of God in the Sacred Liturgy”.

It's quite a long talk but well worth reading, driving home, in point after point, the importance of recovering the sacred in the liturgy, so as to recover holiness - including missionary endeavour - for ourselves.

In his opening paragraphs he speaks of us accommodating the liturgy to ourselves, to the spirit of the age, to the idea of making it in our own image. (See the text below.) I was struck by the similarity with some of the writing of Ronald Knox where he criticises representing the Faith not in it's truth or fullness but by a desire to make it acceptable to the modern mind. In "Some Loose Stones" (1913, page 9, written while he was still an Anglican) he writes that modern theology:
shows, at times, such a cynical indifference to abstract truth. For we are not concerned, now, to to find how we can represent truth most adequately, but how we can represent it most palatably. We ask of a doctrine, not, "Is it sound?", but, "Couldn't we possibly manage to do without it?; not, "Is it true?", but, "Can I induce Jones to see it in that light?"
It appears that the same thing has happened to the liturgy with the consequent diluting of all that is holy until we would have nothing left but an empty shell - and not a very pretty shell, at that!

The Cardinal's logic also follows Knox's as he develops this line of thought (in my bold emphasis below in the Cardinal's text). 
Here is what Knox says about being short changed by this attitude:
"Words are like coins, symbols of the exchange of human thought. To be continually restating your theology is like continually crossing over a frontier, and having to get your money changed every time. This is not only confusing, but alarming, for the plain man wants to make sure he has got value for his money, and he is a little inclined to suspect that his theological symbols will have suffered some deprecation in the changing, just as his honest English sovereigns do at Calais."
And so we are robbed of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ. It seems the Cardinal doesn't want us to be robbed and has some answers on how we are to get spiritual value for money!

I'm indebted to Terry Tastard's biography on Know "Ronald Know and English Catholicism" for introducing me to the works of Knox just recently.

Below are the relevant quotes from Cardinal Sarah but do go and read the whole text.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Writing less than a year before his election to the Chair of St Peter, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger took issue with “the suggestion by some Catholic liturgists that we should finally adapt the liturgical reform to the ‘anthropological turn’ of modern times and construct it in an anthropocentric style.” He argued:
If the Liturgy appears first of all as the workshop for our activity, then what is essential is being forgotten: God. For the Liturgy is not about us, but about God. Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age. As against this, the Liturgy should be setting up a sign of God’s presence. Yet what happens if the habit of forgetting about God makes itself at home in the Liturgy itself and if in the Liturgy we are thinking only of ourselves? In any and every liturgical reform, and every liturgical celebration, the primacy of God should be kept in view first and foremost.”
“Forgetting about God is the most imminent danger of our age.” My brothers and sisters these words, utterly true when they were written in July 2004, have become more and more poignant with each passing year.

My brothers and sisters, we must never forget these eternal verities! Our world has most probably forgotten them. Indeed, particularly in the affluent West, our society seeks to hide these truths from us and to anaesthetise us with the apparent goods it offers to us in its unending cacophony of consumerism, lest we find the time and space to call into question its godless assumptions and practices. We must not succumb to this. We must be untiring in announcing the good news of the Gospel: that sin and death have been conquered by our Lord Jesus Christ whose sacrifice on the Cross has enabled us to gain the forgiveness that our sins demand and to live joyfully in this world and in the sure hope of life without end in the next.

The Church is called to announce this good news in every possible way, to every human person in every land and in every age. These essential missionary and apostolic endeavours, which are nothing less than an imperative given to the Church by the Lord himself (cf. Mt 28:19-20), are themselves predicated on a greater reality: our ecclesial encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sacred Liturgy. For as the Second Vatican Council so rightly taught: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).

We might ask: if the Church’s missionary vitality has diminished in our time, if the witness of Christians in an increasingly godless world has become weaker, if our world has forgotten about God, is this perhaps because we who are supposed to be “the light of the world” (Mt 5:14) are not approaching the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed as we should, or not drawing sufficiently deeply from the font from which all her power flows so as to bring all to enjoy that “spring of water welling up to eternal life”? (Jn 4:14)

For Pope John Paul II, these were not questions but tragic results of the crisis of faith and of our betrayal of the Second Vatican Council. He said, in fact:
In this “new springtime” of Christianity there is an undeniable negative tendency, and the present document is meant to help overcome it. Missionary activity specifically directed “to the nations” (ad gentes) appears to be waning, and this tendency is certainly not in line with the directives of the Council and of subsequent statements of the Magisterium. Difficulties both internal and external have weakened the Church's missionary thrust toward non-Christians, a fact which must arouse concern among all who believe in Christ. For in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith.
If this is indeed so, if the Church of our day is less zealous and efficacious in bringing people to Christ, one cause may be our own failure to participate in the Sacred Liturgy truly and efficaciously, which is perhaps itself due to a lack of proper liturgical formation—something that is a concern of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who said:
A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured. “our daily life in our body, in the small things, must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life...may be a liturgy, may be adoration.” (Benedict XVI, Lectio divina, Seminary of the Diocese of Rome, 15 February 2012)
It is necessary to unite a renewed willingness to go forward along the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on the part of the baptized and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons.

It may also be because too often the liturgy as it is celebrated is not celebrated faithfully and fully as the Church intends, effectively ‘short-changing’ or robbing us of the optimal ecclesial encounter with Christ that is the right of every baptised person.

Many liturgies are really nothing but a theatre, a worldly entertainment, with so many speeches and strange cries during the mystery that is celebrated, so much noise, so many dances and bodily movements that resemble our popular folk events. Instead the liturgy should be a time of personal encounter and intimacy with God. Africa, above all, and probably also Asia and Latin America, should reflect, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and with prudence and with the will to bring the Christian faithful to holiness, about their human ambition to inculturate the liturgy, in order to avoid superficiality, folklore and the auto-celebration of their culture. Each liturgical celebration must have God as its centre, and God alone, and our sanctification.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fatima Pilgrimage


The FSSP are organising a Pilgrimage to Fatima with Fr Armand de Malleray, Rector of their lovely Shrine in Warrington. There are still a few places left, so if you would like some more information contact details are below.

I'd love to be going with them but previous commitments mean that I will be staying here in sunny England that week.

Fatima Pilgrimage
28 Sept - 3 Oct 2017. 
Price: £579. 

Includes return flight Heathrow-Lisbon. 
Daily EF Mass. 

Bookings: 07415520494 
or 
info@nationalpilgrimagecentre.com

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Holy Days of Obligation


Well, someone in the Bishops' Conference must have introduced a sensible thought for this to have happened. Finally, the holy days of obligation that are intimately connected, in the Scriptures and in Tradition, with liturgical time have been restored to their rightful place. Ascension Thursday and the Epiphany will once again be celebrated here in England and Wales on a day that common sense tells us they ought to be kept on.

Of course, the matter now is how seriously this will be taken. It is rather difficult to put the spilt milk back in the bottle. After all, how are the people in the pew - and indeed us priests - able to explain how it was sinful to miss Mass on those days, then for a few years it wasn't, and now it is again?

A reminder that we fiddle with our liturgical traditions at our peril. Wheels and the re-inventing thereof come to mind.

Here is the text of the Decree.

CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS Prot. No. 180/17 ENGLAND AND WALES

To His Eminence, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having taken into consideration the letter received on 21st February 2017, by virtue of the faculty attributed to this Congregation by the Supreme Pontiff FRANCIS, we willingly grant that in future, in the calendar specific to the same Conference, the celebration of the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated on its particular day, namely, forty days after Easter; the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord on its particular day, namely, 6th January. When the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord falls on a Saturday, it is to be assigned to the Sunday following; when on a Monday, to the Sunday preceding. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
4th August 2017, on the feast of St John Mary Vianney, presbyter.

Robert Card. Sarah Prefect

+Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

Monday, 21 August 2017

Conference, Mary and Martyrdom at Chavagnes Studium

 
 The College Chaplain, Fr Mark Lawler, 
celebrates a Mass of Mary Immaculate in the college chapel, 
assisted by students of the College.

“The sorrowing mother: an eternal theme of the human imagination”,
a talk by Ferdi McDermott. 


“The Marian Devotion of Father Frederick William Faber”, 
a talk presented by Father Sebastian Jones, Cong Orat.
from the Oratory in formation in Cardiff.

“The martyrs of the Vendée”,
 a talk presented by Mr Louis Mabille.

On that note, just this week Cardinal Sarah has been visiting the Venée and gave a powerful sermon on just this topic. The Studium and Conference are hopeful that the Cardinal may pay a return visit next year to the Vendée to take part in the Conference.

Anyone who would like to be kept informed of the Conference details for next year (around about 30th July - 3 August 2018) can do so by e-mailing the Headmaster at: 
conference@chavagnes.org

The proposed topic is Europe and the Faith, so that should lead in some interesting directions. 

“The Sufferings of Mary in the Liturgy”, 
a talk presented by Mr Gerhard Eger,
lecturer at Maison de Formation St Alberto Hurtado
in the south of France.

Many of the participants from last year returned again this time 
to meet up with friends old and new.

 
“Seven Swords: The Virgin Mary in the Poetry of G.K. Chesterton”, 
a talk presented by Father Mark Lawler

Fr Leo Daley gave a fascinating talk on "The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne" , painted between 1605 and 8 April 1606, when a final payment to Caravaggio was recorded, for the Confraternity of Sant' Anna dei Palafrenieri, or Grooms, of the Vatican Palace. The composition depicts Christ and the Virgin treading simultaneously on the serpent of heresy, watched by the Virgin's mother, St. Anne, who was the patron saint of the Palafrenieri.



 “A liturgy for laymen: A study of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary”,
a talk presented by Mr Anthony Dickinson. During the week we sang the Little Office in the Father Baudouin memorial chapel (one of three chapels on the site) built over the place of the Venerable Fr Baudouin's house.


The chapel dedicated to the memory of the Venerable Louis Marie Baudouin,
founder of the college, originally as a seminary in 1802.

Fr Leo Daley presides as we chant the Little Office of Our Lady.

The Gothic pediment over the door of the chapel depicts Ven. Fr Baudouin teaching the boys of the seminary.

 We were provided with some excellent meals in the French style 
in the splendid Refectory.

 
 On another evening, dinner was a barbecue in the gardens, where some of the college boys helping out got into the spirit of things. By the by, congratulations to this young Spanish student, who has just attained a A* in his English O Level. 



 
A very sociable Conference!


 
 Included in the Conference were some visits to local attractions with a Catholic association.
Here on a visit to Le Château de la Chabotterie, (castle and museum dedicated to the Vendée counter-revolution).

 
We also visited Mont des Alouettes. A hill on which once stood eight windmills but where just two now remain. These were used during the Vendée wars to signal enemy movements. There is a chapel on the site as well, commemorating those who fell defending the Vendée for King and Faith. I want to say a "small chapel" for such it is and yet it is also rather grandiose, especially the entrance portal.

A charming rendition of the site by Vendéan artist,Raphael Toussaint.

We celebrated a Requiem Mass there -  Missa Cantata, 
which drew in some surprised passing visitors.



A few of the Conference goers.




Monday, 14 August 2017

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Masses for the Assumption
at
St Catherine's

9.30am - said Mass in English

7.30pm - Missa Cantata (EF)

Friday, 11 August 2017

No smoking, please. We're English (Heritage)


Fr Michael Brown tells us that the last annual Mass will take place at Brinkburn Priory in Northumberland next month on Saturday 9th September at 12 noon. There has been an annual Mass there for 25 years but in their wisdom English Heritage have apparently decided that candles and incense - IN A MONASTERY - are some sort of health and safety risk. What an odd decision! Set aside the fact that Mass has been celebrated there for the last 25 years without burning the place down (let alone that the selfsame Mass was celebrated there for about 400 years before the Protestant revolt) it is precisely what the place was built for! In many heritage properties great lengths are gone to in order to re-create the atmosphere of how the building was originally used to enlighten the minds of the hordes of  eager tourists. One might have thought that the celebration of High Mass in a setting created for it would have been a great boon to English Heritage and something they might have encouraged to bring alive the whole meaning of the building.

What a short-sighted decision. 

I know of at least one church in my own diocese where smoke detectors have been installed in the church, so incense is definitely out there. Of course, it's a well-known phenomena (and one that I've experienced myself) that even the sight of an unlit thurible brings on coughing fits throughout the church. 

Perhaps the offering of incense to the majesty of the Triune God will soon be legislated for in Parliament and become illegal in all public places and those who want to make use of it will have to gather in makeshift shelters by the bins outside church to engage in their filthy habit.


Though, to my mind, that would still be better than the new electronic thuribles now on sale. About as convincing as those cardboard policeman you see outside some supermarkets.



I mean, really, anything fake is just never going to convince anyone, is it?



Monday, 7 August 2017

High Mass for Our Lady of Ransom


Anyone who can get to Lancashire on Saturday in a couple of weeks time is very welcome to the High Mass here 
with members of the Order of St Lazarus.

Satruday 19th August.
11am Votive High Mass of Our Lady of Ransom
followed by the Investiture
and a Drinks Reception 

Mass and the Drinks are open to all but you are very welcome to buy a ticket for the lunch afterwards just next door at Farinton Lodge as well if you would like to.
Do think of coming along to support the great work of the Order. 
We have given £60,000 to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in recent years for his leprosy charity. 

Special Guests this year,
Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Col. Alan Jolley 
and Mrs Mary Jolley.

Saint Cajetan


In the old calendar today is the feast of St Cajetan. I have started using Dom Prosper Guaranger's "Liturgical Year". A wonderful set of books with most uplifting commentaries for the saints and feasts of the year. St Cajetan's "Life" tells us that: 
"He was a great promoter of assiduity at the divine worship,
of the beauty of the House of God,
of exactness in holy ceremonies..."
An example to us all, secular or Religious in these days when such desires seem so unfashionable in so many church circles.


The commentary notes that, "the science of Sacred Rites owes much to his sons". Not least to the Cardinal, St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, whose splendid memorial can still be seen in the church of St Andrea Della Valle in Rome. (Who sadly dies after the rigours of a long papal liturgy on a freezing Christmas eve brought on pneumonia!)

St Tomasi's shrine.

St Cajetan, pray for us.
St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, pray for us.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Marian Conference at Chavagnes College. Last few places.


If anyone is free at short notice, I understand there are still just a few places left at this conference.

The Chavagnes Studium (sitting alongside Chavagnes International College) offers a Catholic Liberal Arts BA, set in the historic Vendée region of France in the stunning setting of the college
 - originally the junior seminary of the diocese dating from 1802.

The Conference runs from the evening of 

Monday 31st July 

to the morning of 

5th August 2017.

Accommodation can be arranged at various levels 
in the college itself or at the nearby Chateau or hotel.

Meals included and a visit to a local shrine with luncheon out on one of the days.



Nearest airport is Nantes,
transport can be arranged for you.
Certainly last year was very enjoyable, with excellent speakers and the opportunity to relax informally with an aperitif on the cloister terrace and chat over a good dinner with the other guests and the speakers.

You can book online here: http://chavagnes.org/conferences/

The College Chapel in its seminary days.




Friday, 21 July 2017

Parish Anniversary


Our parish of St Catherine Labouré was established seventy years ago, so we have been celebrating with various events, including a "Last Night of the Proms" on Midsummer's Day, which was great fun. Also with a Mass, of which a few pictures here.

 
In light of Cardinal Sarah's remarks on the mutual enrichment of ancient and newer forms of the Roman Rite recent and his other liturgical clarion calls, it seems that we are on the right track, liturgically speaking. 


The Mass here was celebrated in the newer Form on this occasion, though as always here, ad orientem
I was assisted by two deacons (thanks you to two of my friends in the diocese). 
On this occasion we processed in to a hymn (Jesus my Lord, my God my all!) but incensed the altar to the sounds of the Introit in Latin (as each Sunday at the man Mass - along with the Offertory verse and the Communion). 
The Schola sang Mozart's Jubilate Deo after the Offertory verse.
The people joined in the Mortem tuam and the Pater noster, as well as hymns at Communion and recessional.
We were fortunate to be able to lift our hearts and minds in prayer to Mozart's Coronation Mass (Kyrie, Gloria and Sanctus). Though on a ordinary Sunday all join in singing either Mass XVIII or the Missa de Angelis, as a norm. Mozart's Agnus is a tad lengthy, so we had Casali's Missa Brevis in G for that.


I might add that the mutual enrichment goes both ways, we do, for example, proclaim the Reading and Gospel in English at Low Mass in the EF and manage to find a place for a hymn or two at Sung Mass. Of course, if the newer form is celebrated in a spirit of continuity with the past, it feels much less jarringly different, whichever form is being celebrated.


The church was turned around 360 degrees some 25 years ago, which led to the remains of the High altar being used as a backdrop to the celebrant's chair in a rather gloomy recess that was the former entrance porch. You can now see the reredos re-instated at the high altar, giving a little bit of a sense of height to our slightly squat church. At the opening of the parish, this was intended as a temporary church and to become a hall when funds were raised to build a "proper" church. The funds never materialised!

The opening ceremony with Archbishop Robert Downey.

The original sanctuary 
(now the parish Hall, the Pope John Paul  Room)

At the end of Mass, I was delighted to be able to present our music maestro, Anthony Dickinson, with the Papal award, the Benemerenti medal. Not just for his excellent work in music and many other things here in the parish but for service to the wider Church over many years. The whole parish knew it was coming, except him, so thanks to everyone for keeping the secret.


After Mass 
we had some further celebrations 
and one of our most senior parishioners(still a reader in her 90's) 
and one of our youngest 
assisted me in cutting the cake.