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Showing posts from April, 2006

Sermon on Prayer and Meditation

“A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24.39)

Our Lord showed himself to the apostles and made it clear to them that he was risen in the flesh; he was not just an appearance, a dream or a ghost.

It is essential to know that Jesus is real if we are to pray properly. I promised that I would spend some time after Easter talking about prayer and how to pray. Many people have been to confession during Lent and the beginning of the Easter season. The celebration of the sacrament of penance is a good way of beginning a deeper life of prayer, a life that follows our Blessed Lord more closely.

In order to lead a devout life, we must first do battle against any serious sin in our lives. Battle is the right word because we must be determined to root out any sin that can kill the life of grace in our soul. The weapons are many and varied but will always include the regular use of the sacrament of penance and a daily act of contrition. We also need to change our lives to avo…

New Rector for Wonersh

Just heard this evening that the new Rector of St John's Seminary, Wonersh is to be Mgr Canon Jeremy Garratt, parish priest of St Laurence's, Petersfield and Vicar General of the Diocese of Portsmouth.

Please remember him in your prayers as he prepares to take up this vital work in the Church.

Fr Lang and Archbishop Ranjith

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Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, shakes hands with Fr Michael Lang of the London Oratory after the launch of the Italian version of his book Turning Towards the Lord

In his Foreward to the book, the then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote "At a propitious moment it seems to me, this book resumes a debate that, despite appearances to the contrary, has never really gone away, not even after the Second Vatican Council. The Innsbruck liturgist, Josef Andreas Jungmann, one of the architects of the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, was from teh very beginning resolutely opposed to the polemical catchphrase that previously the priest celebrated 'with his badk to the people'; he emphasised that what was at issue was not the priest turning away from teh people but, on the contrary, his facing the same direction as the people.

Cherie Blair - quotes

Some background given the recent meeting of Cherie Blair with Pope Benedict:
"Women still do not get due respect in the Church which is why, in the opinion of many people, it gets some things wrong like its teaching on contraception."
Daily Telegraph 6 June 2005
"In addition to the fringe meetings, and to continue our 75th anniversary celebrations, Cherie Blair helped to cut a special birthday cake at our stand at the Labour Party conference. We also gave away a vibrator to a lucky winner, which got The Observer’s Pendennis in a bit of a spin!"
FPA (Family Planning Association) Archive
Cherie Blair also gave a reception at 10 Downing Street in support of the IPPF campaign "Lust for life" to provide condoms to Africa.

Cherie Blair and the Pope

Amy Wellborn has a funny caption for the photo of Pope Benedict and Cherie Blair...open book: Fill in the blanks...

Statue of St Josemaria Escriva

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After saying Mass in St Peter's, I was walking down the corridor from the Sacristy to the Basilica when I noticed the new statue of St Josemaria Escriva. The base has the legend Sanctus Iosephmaria Escriva Conditor Operis Dei. The book held by the angel has the text Et ego si exaltatus fuero a terra omnes traham ad meipsum ("And I, when I have been lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" - John 12.32) This text was a particular focus of meditation for St Josemaria.

The statue was blessed by Pope Benedict on 14 September last year, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The statue is over 15 feet high, sculpted in marble by Romano Cosci. It was Pope John Paul II who allocated the niches in the exterior of the Basilica for statues of saints of our own time.

Il Papa Professore

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A welcome innovation since my time in Rome as a student is the use of large television screens during major functions. It makes the audience and the Papal Masses much easier to follow when there is a large crowd.

Here is the Pope teaching his people - Il Papa Professore as the Romans have dubbed him.

Not very near to the Pope ...

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As you can see, we didn't get very near to the Pope: there were about 40,000 people in front of us! It was still great to be there, though.

St Peter's Basilica

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One of the things that a good tour guide will try to show you is how the perfect proportions disguise just how massive the basicica is. So here is my humble effort. Have a look at the facade of St Peter's. Look at the main pillars at the front. Now look at the next picture which shows two people walking past the base of one of the pillars.

Saying Mass elsewhere in the world

It has just started a real scirocco downpour so there is no point leaving the Internet Cafe (and it is only 3 euros an hour or something). So a point about priests saying Mass while on holiday.

Some priests nowadays don't say Mass when they are on holiday. I find this difficult to imagine. Being a priest is just that - it is what you are, not something you do from 9 to 5. And the Mass is at the heart of the priesthood. Both John Paul II and Benedict have said this of the daily Mass.

However, when you are on holiday in many places it can be difficult to find somewhere to say Mass. You can find out the daily Mass time at the local parish and go to concelebrate. If I am ever in this position, I always make the offer to say the Mass in case the priest has a funeral later or some other school Mass or something. As a parish priest myself, I know how welcome this might be.

But if the local parish doesn't have weekday Mass or if the liturgical abuses are too much to tolerate, what do you…

Buy Turning Towards the Lord

I should, of course, point you to buy the book so here is my parish Amazon Associates link.

This Amazon links works for the UK Amazon site. If you want to buy it in the US, go to The Cafeteria is Closed and click on one of the links there to get into the US Amazon site!

Rivolti al Signore book launch

That is the Italian title of Turning Towards the Lord by Fr Michael Lang. It has generated massive media interest in Italy with feature articles in most of the major national dailies. (Did anyone notice when it was published in England?)

The book launch took place this morning in the Aula Minor of the Augustinianum with the lead "intervento" given by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. His discourse was an intelligent, inspiring and incisive analysis of the present state of the Liturgy in the Church. He referred often to Pope Benedict's The Spirit of the Liturgy and spoke diplomatically of how the "reform of the reform" might proceed.

Fr Salvatore Vitello, the priest from Turin who chaired the conference has promised to send me a copy of the speech. It may well be that Archbishop Ranjith wrote the original in English but if not, I will translate it.

The second speaker was Fr Bux. With a glint in his eye, he poin…

Trying out the Ecclesia Dei rescript at St Peter's

I always say Mass at St Peter's at least one day when I am in Rome. There was some discussion yesterday about whether St Peter's had changed their attitude to requests from priests to celebrate the Ritus Antiquior so I thought I might as well be straightforward about it, go there and ask.

But first the normal procedure. St Peter's now opens at 7am. I am sure it was earlier when I was a student, hence half an hour of prayer in the square before getting in. There were at least 500 people ready to go in at 7am. Clearly the news has got round that if you want to go to the tomb of Pope John Paul II, it is not a bad idea to get there early.

In the sacristy, any priest can turn up and say Mass before about 8.30am. The sacristy provides everything including amice and alb. You are given a Roman style chalice (tulip shape) and everything is perfectly laundered and starched by the good sisters who look after the sacristy linen. Then an altar server (chierichetto) will lead you to a fre…

Bernie's Restaurant

English people of a certain age (mine or above!) will remember the chain of Berni Inn restaurants where you could get prawn cocktail, steak, chips and frozen peas, and black forets gateau. Last night, it was the restaurant of Fr Bernie O'Connor, a Canadian priest who is working at the Pontifical Council for Oriental Churches (he is responsible for the Syro-Malabar Rite). Fr Bernie used to be the spiritual director for a number of students at the English College. He is still the same - rotund, jovial and most sollicitous for the care of priests.

We were joined by Fr Charles Briggs, Fr Michael Lang and Fr Athanasius who is a young priest of the Ukranian rite, working in Rome on a history doctorate. After dinner, we took a short digestive stroll to view the new door with Pope Benedict's arms.

Pilgrimage to Gammarelli's

Most of the other items on the to-do list are now ticked off. Yesterday afternoon, I went with Frs Charles Briggs and John Boyle to Gammarelli. I ordered the buckled shoes and got a couple of other things there (OK - replacement fascia and biretta). Then to De Ritis which I can never resist referring to as De Ritibus where I found a couple of good albs to replace the rather worn out one I usually use and give some distinction to feast days. Barbiconi's provided some good sets of altar linens which I intend to give to one or two worthy causes - schools and charities which have their own chapels and always find this part of stocking them up the most difficult to get right.

We had a solemn reading of the obelisk inscription and then a beer in the Piazza del Pantheon. The inscription on the Pantheon reads (if my memory serves me) M. AGRIPPA. L.F. COS. TERTIUM FECIT - that is Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, consul for the third time, made it. It is a fine example of Roman blunt simpl…

Photo prospects

Not brilliant weather here in Rome for photos. I have taken a few and hope to salvage something from them when I get home. I'm trying to look for one or two unusual things. At least the useless new camera (no viewfinder, only screen) has the merit of being lightweight enough to carry everywhere without being a nuisance.

Purchases at the Vatican bookshop

Yesterday, after lunch with Fr Patrick Burke, I went for my visit to St Peter's to get the plenary indulgence. On the way, in the San Carlo arm of the colonnade, I called in to a temporary exhibition on the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Guard. It is well worth a visit. There is a film showing but that lasts an hour and 5 minutes so I bought the DVD to watch at home.

Then to the Vatican bookshop where I make a mental note of books to order from Pax Books when I get home. But I can never resist getting some books while I am here. So I have bought the foundational document for this blog - the Pope's address on the second Vatican Council 40 years on. I also got a copy of the Vatican edition of the Stations of the Cross. It has some beautiful pictures to illustrate the text. Slightly more off-beam, I bought a copy of the law governing the Roman Curia. So? Might come in useful.

The best thing I bought was "5000 Proverbi e Motti Latini" (5000 Latin mottoes and proverbs) gath…

To-do list update

Main one not achieved - oh well, we still got to see the beloved Holy Father from a distance and had the vicarious enjoyment of Fr Lang's encounter. Pasta al Ragu' (in fact fettucine, not penne) - easy enough. Glass of Amaro Averna ditto. This afternoon, we're going on a pilgrimage to Gammarelli's where I should be able to tick off most of the other items.

As you can see below, lots of unexpected delights too which is always to be expected in Rome.

At lunch today

A most enjoyable lunch today in the company of Fr Charles Briggs and Fr John Boyle from Southwark diocese, Fr Michael Lang and Fr Nicola Bux. Fr Bux is a consultor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a long-time friend of the Pope since before he became a Bishop. Fr Bux's area of expertise is Eastern theology and Liturgy. It was he who first noticed Fr Lang's book in Italy and got things going for the Italian translation.

Also in the house at the moment is the Bishops' conference of Ghana who are in Rome for their ad limina visit. We have also been able to catch up with Fr Bernie O'Connor who works at the Pontifical Council for Oriental Churches. Fr Bernie was a good friend many years ago and gave spiritual direction for a number of students at the English College back in the 80s.

Turning Towards the Lord Italian launch

I did not expect to meet Fr Lang here in Rome but that is one of the good things about the Eternal City - there are always pleasant surprises.

He is here for the launch of the Italian translation of his book "Turning Towards the Lord." It will take place tomorrow morning at 11.30am at the Augustinianum. The main presentation is to be given by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith whom I have just seen at lunch at the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis. Archbishop Ranjith is the recently-appointed Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

So I don't think I need to spell it out. The Secretary of the Vatican's congregation in charge of the Liturgy is promoting a book that argues for Eastward-facing celebration of Mass.

In Italy, they understand these things and their importance. Hence, the book launch has received major coverage in Il Giorno and La Repubblica. After finishing today's posts, I intend to go and get a copy of today's Avvenire which apparently has a whole page …

Fr Michael Lang

Fr Michael Lang is a young German priest at the London Oratory. A respected patristic and liturgical scholar (doctorate from Oxford University etc.), he wrote a book, published by Ignatius Press, called "Turning Towards the Lord". In it, he presents the historical and theological case for priest (and people) facing Eastward during the Mass. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, who knew Fr Lang, wrote a Foreword for the book. The book has recently been translated into Italian - but there lies another story...

General Audience today

Yesterday was Liberation Day or something and so it was not possible to get into an internet cafe and post. This morning, Fr Briggs and I managed to get to the Audience. Sadly, we could not get reparto speciale tickets so no chance of getting anwhere near our beloved Holy Father. Nevertheless, it was a great experience. It is difficult to convey just how overwhelming this experience was. The square was full. Remember this is not some special feast day or major occasion, just an ordinary Wednesday. My ticket is number 43417. There must have been over 50000 tickets issued and then another few thousand people just coming along to be there.

Pope Benedict spoke about how Tradition in the Church is not simply about conserving things but is a living river from apostolic times in which Christ remains present in his Church. He is very much the Papa Professore, giving a good and easily understood lecture to his "students" in the square from all over the world.

Back at lunch, I looked a…

Bernini's elephant Inscription

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Here's the elephant. (That's the Pantheon in the background.)


And here is the inscription:



It reads:
SAPIENTIS AEGYPTI
INSCULPTAS OBELISCO FIGURAS
AB ELEPHANTO
BELLUARUM FORTISSIMA
GESTARI QUISQUIS HIC VIDES
DOCUMENTUM INTELLIGE
ROBUSTAE MENTIS ESSE
SOLIDAM SAPIENTIAM SUSTINERE

Which is to say "Whoever sees here that the symbols of the Egyptian sage, inscribed on the obelisk, are carried by the elephant, the strongest of the beasts: understand that it is a proof of a robust mind to sustain solid wisdom."

I first read this inscription on a tour of the twelve obelisks of Rome, led by the incomparable Fr Reginald ("Reggie") Foster. He was the best teacher of anything that I ever knew and I always try to call in at the beginning of his class. 25 years on, he teaches at the same time, in the same room, with the same dry sense of humour and the same passionate love of Latin.

The obelisk is outside the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva where St Catherine of Siena lies. Gamma…

To do list for Rome

(Not necessarily exhaustive or in order of importance)

Say Mass in St Peter's (preferably at St Gregory or St Pius X - depends how helpful the chierichetto is)
Eat some penne al ragu' (not difficult)
Drink at least one glass of Amaro Averna (this is an acquired taste - I acquired it as a student)
Buy some buckled clerical shoes at Gammarelli's (So?)
Visit Bernini's elephant and read the inscription (I always do this even though I know it by heart)
Get some more good photos of Roman scenes (forecast is sunny for the first part of the week)
Go to the General Audience and try to get near enough to our beloved Pope Benedict to get in an Osservatore photo (absolutely no guarantee of that but you can bet it will be posted here if I succeed!)

Where I will be tomorrow

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Looking forward to it! My travelling companion is Fr Charles Briggs, the parish priest of St Mary's, Chislehurst which is where the emperor Napoleon III was first interred before Eugenie constructed Farnborough Abbey and his magnificent mausoleum.

We'll be staying at the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis. It is just off the Via Conciliazione, near Castel Sant' Angelo and therefore quite near St Peter's. The photo below was taken from the roof terrace during the amazing procession of visitors to pay their respects to the late Pope John Paul.



I recommend the Domus Romana to any priest who wants to stay in Rome. The rates are very reasonable, the food (and wine) is wholesome, and there is a tasteful chapel downstairs with four side altars: you can say Mass whenever you want. There are a number of permanent resident priests, mostly working in the Curia, and you can meet some very interesting fellow guests. One time I was sat next to an Argentine Archbishop and a Japanese seminarian …

Screwtape on DVC

Eric Metaxas has written a very clever piece in the form of a letter from Screwtape to Wormwood on the Da Vinci Code. In case you are puzzled, C S Lewis wrote a classic book called "The Screwtape Letters" which were letters from a senior devil to a junior devil to advise him on how to get humans into hell. (This reminds me to update my recently started Parish Virtual Bookshop.)

Many thanks to Barbara Nicolosi and her blog Church of the Masses for this great post.

Roman Miscellany

Roman Miscellany is a new blog by another priest in England, Fr Nicholas Schofield, a historian and the archivist for the Archdiocese of Westminster. It is part of the movement for which he coined the phrase baroque ressourcement.

For biretta lovers everywhere

I was just thinking today that it would be good for my biretta to get a little worn ...
Roman Miscellany: The Psychology of an Old Biretta

Parish Priests and the Sacrament of Penance

The Congregation of the Clergy issued the document The Priest, Pastor and Leader of the Parish Community saying that it was "being relayed" to the priests "through the kind offices of their Bishops". Just in case the Bishop didn't send your priest a copy, here is a quote:
It is notable that the Code makes specific mention of frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Penance. This would indicate that the parish priest, in establishing the times for Masses and confessions in his parish, would take into consideration those times which are convenient for the majority of the faithful, while bearing in mind also the need to facilitate those who have difficulty in easily attending the celebration of the sacraments.

The parish priest should devote special attention to individual confession, understood in the spirit and form established by the Church. He should be mindful that confession must precede first Holy Communion. Moreover, the individual c…

Father's Bentley?

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Luvverly motor!
But perhaps building a new garage to accommodate a classic Bentley would not give a good image of evangelical poverty.

Marriage - from the old Pocket Ritual

I always like to read the instruction from the old Pocket Ritual. I post it here for the convenience of any priests who might like to do the same. I don't think anyone need have any scruples about using it in the place where it says "these or similar words".
N and N, you are about to be married. Now for children of God and members of the Catholic Church marriage is more than a human contract. It is something supernatural and holy and must be approached with that thought in mind. It was God himself who joined our first parents as husband and wife, and with the first nuptial blessing made them the founders of the family and the home. And it was our divine Saviour who raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament, thus adding to it the grace he won for us when he died upon the Cross. Remember what St Paul told the Ephesians. The union of a husband and wife is only to be compared with the union between Christ and his Church.

The life, therefore, to which God has called you, is…

Congratulations to Paul and Catherine

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Married today at Our Lady of the Rosary

Father, keep them always true to your commandments.
Keep them faithful in marriage,
and let them be living examples of Christian life.
Give them the strength which comes from the gospel
so that they may be witnesses of Christ to others.
Bless them with children
and help them to be good parents.
May they live to see their children's children.
And, after a happy old age,
grant them fulness of life with the saints
in the kingdom of heaven.

from the Nuptial Blessing

Letter to the Bishop of Orange

This lengthy letter of complaint to Bishop Brown might, in times past, have been presented as the model way not to get any results. That was before people could blog such things all over the known universe...

Enjoyable rant against the DVC

Jeff Miller kindly pointed out that the idea for going to see another film when the DVC opens was first mooted by Barbara Niclosi, author of the Church of the Masses blog. Looking it up today, I find her DVC rant which is well worth reading.

Da Vinci Code talk at the London Oratory

It is always such a joy to visit the London Oratory. If you are reading this from the USA and haven't heard of this vibrant centre of Catholic life in London that is making real gains in the culture war, just take a look at the Liturgical Celebrations tab on their website and look at what is on offer on any given Sunday. The young fathers organise regular talks under the banner of "Call to Youth" in the magnificent setting of St Wilfrid's Hall. They keep in touch with the young people by emails which remind them also of the times of Mass, devotions and confessions.

I was there tonight speaking on "The Da Vinci Code: is there any truth in it?" (There is a copy of the talk on my Da Vinci Code page along with some other links.) There were about 100 young adults in attendance. Afterwards, I got to speak to someone from New York who is in London doing consultancy work, someone working at the British Museum, some members of "The Work" (Opus Dei), an equi…

Family Life International Conference

Greg Clovis of FLI UK is organising Conference for Saturday 29 April 2006 at the Sacred Heart School, Hammersmith. Details at Family Life International Online - Events. Highly recommended!

Excellent video with "Habemus Papam" soudtrack

American Papist has posted a Habemus Papam Music Video; as he says "hey DJ, bring that back!"

"10 rules for Dating my Daughters"

Have to admit this one made me laugh out loud

Dating my Daughters

BBC resistance

And while I'm on the subject of the BBC, may I recommend the excellent Abolish the TV Licence website, also titled "BBC Resistance.

The BBC's spin on the Pope

Among the "Pope Benedict one year on" stories is the predictable take from the BBC. Former sister Lavinia Byrne is quoted as saying:
"I am very disappointed, because I thought he would be more interesting and sparky. We know who his tailor is, and whose sunglasses he wears, but we do not know much about what he thinks."Given his voluminous output, a person could only fail to know much about what he thinks if she (a) hasn't read much of what he has written, or (b) hasn't understood much of it.

This is routine, self-absorbed, smarty-pants, British media spin. The luvvies have not read his books and have shown interest only in his sunglasses and his clothes, so "we do not know much about what he thinks". And our nation is still glued to this garbage daily!

So before your brains turn completely to porridge, take your television to the nearest "Civic Recycling Centre" and in the hours that you would have spent watching it, read some good books i…

St. Peter's Basilica website

Just found this enthusiast's website devoted to St Peter's Basilica in Rome. It has a superb collection of photos and even lists all the saints on the colonnade.

AmericanPapist: poll on universal indult

AmericanPapist Poll: Would a universal indult be a good thing? (When I voted (Yes) just now, the result was 74.6% in favour.)

Excellent B16 picture and caption from AmericanPapist

Novel idea for countering DVC

The Holy Spirit Interactive blog on the Da Vinci Code has a good suggestion. On the opening weekend of the film, every Christian should go to the movies - but see a different film to try and muck up the stats for the release. I hope it catches on.

Link:
Holy Spirit Interactive: The Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas, and Other Assorted Things

Easter sermon

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 117.24)

The four gospels all give accounts of the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. Like all eye-witness accounts of a major event, there are some conflicting elements. There is full agreement on the basic facts that the tomb was empty and that Jesus was truly risen from the dead in flesh and blood.
St John’s account focuses on St Mary Magdalene At first, she is distraught that “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him”. It would be quite believable that the enemies of Jesus had taken his body to desecrate it or to bury it in an unmarked grave where his disciples could not pay their respects. We can imagine how awful that must have seemed.

We are told of the apostles going to the tomb. St John tells us that the other disciple (that is, himself) saw and believed. The other accounts have the women go to tell the apostles. Indeed, St Luke tells us that th…

The right to a fixed grille

Canon Law gives the faithful the right to go to confession in a confessional with a fixed grate or grille:
The conference of bishops is to establish norms regarding the confessional; it is to take care, however, that there are always confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely. (Canon 964 §2)
Now here's the bit that some people don't know. The priest can also insist on the use of a fixed grille. Here's the original text from the Vatican Website. It's in the section for the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, under the heading Interpretationes Authenticae. (I give a translation below.)

Can. 964, § 2 (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, 13-14 luglio 1998, p. 2)

Patres Pontificii Consilii de Legum Textibus Interpretandis, in ordinario coetu diei 16 iunii 1998, dubio, quod sequitur, respondendum esse censuerunt ut infra:

D. Utrum attento praescripto can. 964, …

Busy confessional - Deo gratias!

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When people have asked me this year how Holy Week went, my principal reason for giving thanks to God is the unprecedented number of confessions there have been in the parish. As I said to the people, this will do our parish more good than raising a million pounds in fundraising.
I built the confessional a couple of years ago because the existing confessional did not look good and was in a space that was perfect for a Lady Chapel. (The Lady chapel has been built and I will do a post on that sometime.) There is a seat for people who can't kneel. It is padded so that people who have arthritis of the spine or other difficulties can be more comfortable. The door is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and the kneeler (and chair) are removable so that a person in a wheelchair can make their confession with dignity.

There is a fixed grille and a curtain to provide anonymity and to give a certain gravitas to the celebration of the sacrament. Under canon law, the penitent is entitled th…

Prayer card for priests

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A scan of both sides of the prayer card that was handed out to the priests before the Chrism Mass. The picture is of Our Lady of China - it was used by Aid to the Church in Need for one of their selection of Christmas Cards.

Thanks to priests

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Here are some photos from today's Chrism Mass at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. Mac McLernon and Joanna Bogle organised some volunteers to hand a prayer card to the priests as they entered the Cathedral, offering their thanks for the work of the priests. Very much appreciated by most - only one refusal this year!
There's the placard and the early arrivals -
the one with the red jacket is Joanna Bogle, just arrived by bike.

A smile and a "Thank you"
left to right: Fr Richard Whinder, Fr Stephen Langridge, Fr Tim Finigan, Fr John Weatherill, Fr Marcus Holden

Child Protection - Nolan and DfES

The Final Report of the Nolan Committee's Review on Child Protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales (September 2001) deals with suspension of paid employees (Recommendation 65) "where judged necessary by the police, social services, or the CPC and his/her Team". We would surely agree that, as they say, the clergy should be treated no differently than lay people in this respect. The report continues:
3.5.16 [...] Our clear view is therefore that, on the recommendation of the CPC and his/her Team, following consultation with social services and the police, any priest or deacon should be required to take administrative leave (the nearest equivalent for a priest of suspension for a secular employee) at a location to be determined by the bishop. We are aware that 'administrative leave' is provided for in canon law within the context of a judicial trial initiated by the Church. But we underline the necessity for the Church to have satisfactory administrativ…

The Church in History Website

The Church in History Website has some excellent articles on James II, Bismarck and the Gospels, Joan of Arc and many other subjects. The articles are very useful for apologetics, dealing with questions such as "Did St Thérèse want to be a priest?", the anti-christian roots of Nazism, and the Crusades.

Soham murder report not to be allowed to get in the way of underage sex

It appears that even the official report and recommendations after the murder of two girls must not get in the way of the Government's determination not to restrict underage sex. This report from SPUC news:
The Children's Minister, Beverley Hughes, has rejected the recommendation of the Bichard Report that social workers should ordinarily notify the police about sexual offences committed against children. Ms Hughes was speaking in Leicester to the Association of Directors of Social Services on 6 April. The Bichard report recommended that, by default, known offences should be reported, but the minister told social service departments that only where there is "reasonable cause to suspect ... harm" should a referral occur. She told health professionals never to report a case of a child involved in underage sex to the police without consulting a child protection expert first. [The Times, 7 April] The Bichard report investigated the background to the murders of Jessica Cha…

St Mary Major's

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The Vatican website has a superb presentation of The Patriarcal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

Lessons for Iraq from Cyprus and Malaya

Last year, I had the great good fortune to be invited by my old friend from Oxford days, Lt Col James Sterling Corum, to stay for dinner and overnight at All Souls College, Oxford. Jim was on a visiting fellowship to do some research on counter insurgency. He has just emailed me news of the publication of his monograph. It takes a detailed look at British operations in Malaya, which were successful, and in Cyprus, which were not.

In Malaya, the British initially threw manpower at the problem of the Chinese Malayan insurgents with little success. With good leadership, the indigenous police force was given high quality training and local leadership. Corruption in the police force was tackled seriously and the police were trained, notably in intelligence gathering. A further successful policy was the recruitment of officers from "the enemy" Chinese ethnic group and the training of the Home Guard as an effective force for local security, even where that meant arming and training …

Chrism Mass anti-demo

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Mac McLernon tells me that she is organising another anti-demo for the Chrism Mass at St George's Cathedral this year. For a number of years, a group of protesters has put up a large banner calling for the ordination of women.

As a counter to this (not a demo, but a postive and prayerful anti-demo), Mac, Joanna Bogle and friends came 3 years ago with a large placard saying "Thank you to our priests" and handed out prayer cards assuring the priests of their prayers. If you want to join them, just turn up at the Cathedral at about 10.30am or email Mac to let her know you are coming. The group is mainly young women and mothers with families. Everyone is usually quite friendly although they are firmly kept out of the Cathedral precincts. Which seems odd. We usually meet up after the Mass and go on to a nearby pub.

The picture is "Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy" from the Lady Chapel of St John's Seminary, Wonersh and was used on the prayer card last year.

Cardinal Ratzinger on "good news"

Since this blog is dedicated to an idea expressed by Pope Benedict, I thought I would quote, from time to time, passages that I found particularly striking in his works.
The word evangelium means "glad tidings", we said. But it did not have, originally, the neat and somewhat ineffectual ring that it has today, even when it is translated more comprehensively - and admittedly, with a concomitant poverty of meaning - as "good news". In Jesus' time, the word had found its way into the language of contemporary political theology: the decrees of the emperor, all his proclamations, were called evangelium, even when, for the recipients, they were far from being good news. Evangelium meant "a message from the emperor". There was nothing trivial or sentimental about it but rather something majestic. Even though such messages were not always manifestly joyful, they were called joyful because they came from him who held the world together. Granted, it would be pre…

Pope John Paul II slide show

I found the link to Independent Catholic News on The Cafeteria is Closed. Gerald Augustinus found it on Fr Stephanos' blog Me Monk. Me Meander. Fr Stephanos gives a link to this excellent slide show commemorating Pope John Paul II.

Cardinal Arinze's speech

The full text of Cardinal Arinze's speech at Westminster Cathedral is provided by Independent Catholic News. It is very encouraging, giving reminders such as
We manifest our adoration of our Eucharistic Jesus by genuflection whenever we cross the area of the tabernacle where he is reserved.

Old Mass spin

Page 5 of the Catholic Herald reports the rumours that have been going round the blogs about Pope Benedict signing a permission for the Classical Rite of Mass. Fr Allen Morris is quoted as saying that he had not had even a nod and a wink that anything was afoot. Well I am sure that when it is officially confirmed that no permission is needed to celebrate the old rite, Fr Morris will be given the "nudge nudge" that he can now celebrate the rite with impunity.

Page 9 carries an article by Gerard Noel which is firmly in the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" camp. He describes as a "lamentable misconception" the idea that the old Mass represented an ancient and traditional form of celebrating Mass whereas the Mass of Paul VI was based on modern innovations. "nothing could be further from the truth", he says. On the contrary, the Mass of Paul VI was a modern version of the Mass of the early Church and the Mass of Pius V was the medieval Mass.

Sadly for su…

This week's spin

The Catholic Herald headline this week is "Cardinal Arinze lays down the law". The article reports his speech at Westminster Cathedral last Saturday, giving prominence to the quote that Catholics who ignore the liturgical law of the Church are like "stupid brats" who ignore their parents. So there is plenty of room for liberals to characterise the Cardinal as a silly old man.

Nevertheless, the point about the tabernacle is well made. The visitor to many Churches could say with Mary Magdalene "They have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him".

Compendium arrived

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A parecel waiting on the doorstep this afternoon contained the 30 copies I had ordered of the new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I ordered the hardback copies (£6.95 each) because I want people to be able to keep this book and refer to it often.

The Catholic Truth Society are to be congratulated on producing the book so well. Strong boards, good sewn binding, clear colours on the pictures and neat legible printing. If there are to be copyright restrictions on the new ICEL missal when it finally comes out, what about the CTS for the favoured publisher instead of those who have given us shoddy missals that fall apart after a few months?

The pictures are worthy illustrations for the text and are all given an interpretative explanation. The text is exactly what is needed for the average adult who is taking instruction to be baptised or to be received into full communion with the Church. The book will also be very useful for Catholics who had little doctrinal formation i…

Pope Benedict's red cape

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Got this photo from AmericanPapist where there are some more good shots. He has also done a page of Pope Benedict XVI wallpapers.

Homosexual adoption research

An important article at Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex on research into homosexual adoption. Another article looks at research into the gay lifestyle.

St Peter Canisius

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Just finished reading James Broderick's comprehensive biography of St Peter Canisius. Sadly, many people have never heard of this indefatigable apostle of the counter-reformation in Germany (and Holland, Austria, Poland, Switzerland etc.)

Canisius took part in the final session of the Council of Trent, wrote a several editions of a catechism for the education of ordinary people in the faith, founded several universities and colleges, was Jesuit provincial with some extraordinarily difficult characters in his charge, and found time to visit and care for the poor and the sick.

He was continually embroiled in diplomatic nightmares with princes both of Church and State who failed to exercise their authority or use their means to support the work of the Jesuits who were re-evangelising in territories devastated by scandalous clergy on the one hand and the ferocious polemic of the early protestants on the other.

Broderick's life is a superb account. It is well worth reading as is his e…

Opus Dei day of Recollection

Now that the schools have broken up (two weeks before Easter! but that's another story) there was a rare chance to get away on Wednesday for a Day of Recollection for priests at Opus Dei's beautiful Retreat Centre, Wickenden Manor in the West Sussex countryside.

The advantage of Opus Dei Days of Recollection is that you know that nobody is going to ask you to blow up balloons, pick stones from an earthenware bowl, listen to whale music or lie on the floor and breathe through your stomach. Neither will the talks exhibit any evidence of the "hermeneutic of discontinuity" implying that everything before 1965 was evil or stupid.

Instead, two excellent talks, good company with sound priests, good food (not fastidious or extravagant), wise confessor, and reverent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with the Rosary. And God gave us a gloriously sunny day.

"Diversity and Equality"

The "EU Network of Experts on Fundamental Rights" gave an Opinion (No 4-2005) on "The right to conscientious objection and the conclusion by EU members of concordats with the Holy See". (The full text of the "Opinion" is at http://www.crlp.org/pdf/CFR-CDFopinion4-2005.pdf)

Basically, it is trying to undermine the draft treaty between the Slovak Republic and the Holy See where the treaty allows for conscientious objection e.g. by doctors not wishing to carry out abortions (or registrars not wishing to conduct same-sex partnership ceremonies.)

The "Experts" are worried that conscientious objection is in conflict with the "right to have access to lawful abortion services" and conclude that doctors who object to abortion must refer women to someone who will do the abortion. They also go on to say that Catholic organisations may choose to discriminate in favour of Catholics if there is a genuine occupational requirement but that they may not …

Pope Benedict XVI on the hermeneutic of continuity

The title for this blog is inspired by an expression of Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005. In order to give the context, here is a quotation:
The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church's situation after the Council of Nicea: he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things: "The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement ri…

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