Monday 28 October 2019

All Saints and All Souls

Masses at St Catherine's


9.30am (OF)

7pm (EF)


11am Missa Cantata (EF)
with the Absolutions

Tea & Coffee afterwards in the Pope John Paul Room

Saturday 26 October 2019

Synod 2020. Number 21. Cardinal Sarah's thoughts

I'm reading Cardinal Sarah's book "The Day is now far spent".
A very powerful read.

Some of his thoughts jump out the page at me as wholly relevant to the Synod here in Liverpool. I believe one of the ingredients missing is a lack of any reference to the doctrines of the Church.

"Rather dry and dusty; talking about THOSE is not going to get anyone jumping for joy and running back to the arms of Jesus..". I hear the groans already. 

But what are those doctrines? Surely, the beautiful teachings by which Jesus wants to look after us in our lives on earth; care for us in our relationships with one another and His world.. and show us to Heaven. 

I'm not suggesting that we stand at street corners trying to hawk St Anslem's satisfaction theory of atonement to the passing punters but a sound theology surely needs to underpin our practical efforts. Beginning from only our own individual subjective experience is just not enough - for Faith or for the process for a Synod.

This following paragraph struck home with me.

Cardinal Sarah:

"Surely the most alarming symptom [of the crisis in the Church] is the way in which men and women who call themselves Catholics pick and choose among the truths of the Creed. Joseph Ratzinger mentioned it in these terms in 1970: 'What was hitherto unthinkable becomes normal: that men who long ago abandoned the Church's Creed should in good conscience regard themselves as truly progressive Christians. For them, however, the only standard by which to measure the Church is the expediency with which She functions.'"

In large sectors of the Church, we have lost the sense of God's objectivity. Each individual starts from his subjective experience and creates for himself a religion that suits him. What a shame!'"

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Synod 2020. Number 20

Our Diocesan Synod here in Liverpool Archdiocese is now at the point of having discerned four themes on which we are invited to submit proposals. The four themes are:

To encourage our thoughts these are the areas we are directed to under this first theme:

What people said:
  • "Gifts of lay people should be appropriately used"
  • "Priesthood is valued"
  • "Young people need particular support as they discern their choices"
  • "Priests need to be better supported"
  • "Role of women in the Church should be celebrated"
  • "Be more inclusive and welcoming of diversity"
  • "Young people have a vital and valuable contribution to make"
  • And much more!
In this Synod Theme we reflect on the vocation that God gives to each of us.

In becoming the Church that God is calling us to be:
  • What different models of leadership in parishes could we explore?
  • How should we encourage and equip people to use their different gifts in mission and ministry?
  • How do we enable people of all ages, especially young people, to grow, flourish and contribute as part of our communities?
  • What needs to change about the way priests are recruited, trained, appointed and supported?
  • What structures need to be put in place to ensure effective collaboration between ordained and lay people?

There is much here that presumes a particular direction of travel and much that one might think is rather starkly missing. I'm presenting the proposals below as my own and share them here as my own thoughts on the direction we might take.


Programmes or courses to help lay people in their primary mission of sanctifying the world in which they live, amongst their families and in their workplaces. (As insisted on by the 2nd Vatican Council)

Active participation in the liturgy. Not be “doing” lots of thing or taking over the priest’s jobs but by a deeper sense of prayer.

Re-affirming the proper leadership role of the priest in the  parish.

Let priests be priests, rather than usurp the priest’s liturgical and leadership roles with protestantised lay leadership.

Re-affirm the ministry of lay people that is exemplified by the spiritual and practical sodalities where they most properly exercise their ministry: the Legion of Mary, the SVP, Young Christian Workers, Opus Dei, Knights of St Columbas etc.

Laity taking responsibility for the “secular” parts of the everyday life of the parish: maintenance, secretarial etc.

We welcome diversity of people (that is Catholic), but there can be no compromise with diversity of opinion where it is in opposition to the teaching of the God’s Church.

A much stronger emphasis on recruiting Vocations to the Priesthood.

A much stronger emphasis on recruiting to the Religious Life—one area where the role of women has been tragically neglected.

A much stronger emphasis on the vocation of Christian Marriage: a concept now so alien in our society that Our Lord’s teaching is now in fact an alterative lifestyle choice in this area.

As the laity’s Vocation is in the world, an encouragement and emphasis on Catholics engaging in politics for the common good, so that the Church might influence the world instead of the secular world setting the agenda.

A reaffirmation of the absolute minimum actions required of Catholics: the precepts of the Church: 
To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; 
To fast and abstain from meat on appointed days; 
To confess one’s sins at least once a year; 
To receive Holy Eucharist during the Easter time; 
To contribute to the support of the Church; To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage; 
To join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church Baptism.

Monday 21 October 2019

E F Mass priest needed

I'm reaching to any priest local enough to come and cover a Sunday EF Mass at 11.30 on the occasional Sunday. I'm having difficulties getting cover on all the occasions I might need it.
It's usually Low Mass, occasionally Missa Cantata or Low Mass with hymns.
Any help appreciated.
Many thanks.
Fr Simon.

Saturday 12 October 2019

Synod 2020. Number 19. Muddling the Mystery

Tomorrow we celebrate Synod Sunday here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool - the presentation of the four "Themes" on which we are to submit proposals. It's rather a pity that it comes on the same day as Cardinal Newman's canonization - as both subjects could certainly fill a Sunday.

The four themes are:

All called and gifted by God
Sharing the mission of Jesus
How we pray together
Building community, nurturing belonging

A little nebulous to my way of thinking and despite some references to the loss of transcendence in the liturgy and a nod to those who are "attached to the Extraordinary Form" in the presentation to the Synod members at the last meeting when these themes were revealed, the direction of travel seems clear. The language, presentation and mind-set all encourage a further travelling on a now well-worn path that has led to the need for an "emergency Synod" in the first place. Certainly there are those among my fellow priests and among the laity who do not see that "more of the same" is going to solve any of our problems or inspire any new evangelisation. However, we continue to take part in the hope that those with some different ideas from the formularies of the last forty years which have led us to this dire state in the Church might still get a look in.

I might translate the themes from secularese into the ecclesial thus:

The call to sanctity and participation in Christ's priestly, prophetic and kingly offices  (Catechism 1694 ff & 897ff )

Mission - a requirement of the Church's Catholicity (Catechism 894ff)

Praying like the Apostles (Catechism 1124ff)

How to belong to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church  (Catechism 748ff)


The main focus of this blog has always been liturgical, so I would like to focus there. I suppose that comes under the heading of "How we pray together". I have just started reading Cardinal Sarah's new book, "The day is now far spent". As you might expect from him, it pulls no punches. On page 43 he quotes Romano Guardini in his book "Meditions before Mass" (one of the most important thinker of 20th century Catholic life) at some length, speaking of transcendence; the altar as both table and threshold:

"the altar, a threshold that creates first the border between the realm of the world and the realm of God...  That is why it is not fitting for the priest celebrant to stand 'on the other side of the altar', as though he were taking the place of God. In doing do he is like a screen that hides the Transcendence of God. He is a veil that hides the majesty of God. Thus, instead of looking at God, the faithful look at the priest. And he, by his movements, gestures, and many words, muddles the mystery, hides the divine Transcendence."

I don't think I've ever come across a better description of what we have done to our liturgical worship over recent years than that: we have muddled the mystery. At a plain and simple level but also understanding musterion in its biblical sense: which we might call the administration of the sacred secret.

As the next part of the Synod process we are all called upon to proffer proposals based on the four themes. I would encourage everyone to think boldly in suggesting these, to the revolutionary even. Not in the sense of mimicking the fashionable and passing revolutions of the secular world but the truly revolutionry that is of Our Lord and His Church. The great thing is that you don't have to scour your imaginations or the world's philosophies or ape the latest PC policies, all these truly revolutionary idea and practices are there in the fullness of the Church's teaching, in our very own Tradition (including the Bible). All we have to do is hold them up once more before the world and renew them in our own practice.

On the liturgical front a renewal of the sense of the sacred and transcendent might be helped by such practices as restoring the altar rail, guardian of the altar, that threshold Heaven. Cardinal Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith has mandated this in all the churches in his diocese.

Restoring the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue. Some diocese have encouraged this practice, which is, after all, the norm.

Encouragement to receive Holy Communion kneeling. Cardinal Sarah notes in his book, "We will rediscover the sense of human greatness if we agree to acknowledge God's transcendence."

Encouragement to apply the Church's norms on music and Latin in the liturgy. This is mandated by the Second Vatican Council. "Steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them." (Sacrosanctum Concilium 54) Gregorian chant has a "foremost place" in the celebration of the Mass (Sac Conc 114-117).

Let us NOT continue the work of the Reformation by negating the role of the priest in the liturgy and replacing it with overblown ministries for the laity. This undermines the true, best and most noble and most essential call of the laity. "By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will." (Catechism 898) Surely, it is in this challenge that we have abandoned our Tradition, the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism to most disastrous effect. It is so much easier to send someone on a course, dress them up in a fake stole and give them a "ministry" than it is to ask them to challenge those in their workplace and families to direct their affairs according to God's will.


I don't mean that the Archbishop should mandate all theses things tomorrow (although by doing so he would only be putting into practice what is laid down in black and white in the Church's documents and is presently often ignored). All these things could be encouraged by word and example (in the Cathedral, for example) and by the kind of resources provided by the various departments of the Archdiocese.

We are muddling the mystery because we are saying one thing - in our mandate from our Tradition, from the Second Vatican Council, from the Catechism and from our liturgical directives - but doing something quite different in practice.

A muddle indeed.