Sunday, 31 August 2008

Racist postage stamps

Gerald Warner has drawn attention to the issue of postage stamps featuring the racist eugenicist Marie Stopes (cf. Marie Stopes is forgiven racism and eugenics because she was anti-life)

Warner has the text of a letter from Marie Stopes to "Dear Herr Hitler" in which she sends the Fuhrer some poems for the youth of his country.

Gerald Warner points out that it is surprising that such a racist should be commemorated on British stamps but observes:
To the PC establishment, however, even racist peccadilloes can be ignored to honour a pioneer who helped promote the anti-life culture and relieve women of the intolerable trauma of giving birth to a child with a cleft palate. Eugenic abortion accounts for an increasing proportion of the 7 million "terminations" in Britain since 1967. Poor old Josef Mengele was not eligible for a stamp, being a dead, white male. Perhaps in 2009...

New ICEL copyright policy

ICEL has recognised the reality of the "global computer network commonly known as the internet" and has given permission to post texts with attribution. Cf. NLM: ICEL Policy on Global Computer Networks

This is very good news. It will enable musicians to post settings of the Mass on the internet free of charge, as many have undertaken to do. It will also make it possible for people to provide useful leaflets and booklets for people to use at Mass.

Many thanks to ICEL for this sensible and wise step forward.

US Bishops on Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America, recently made a statement dredging up the usual old nonsense about how some theologians 500 years ago did not know about the development of the unborn child and therefore speculated on the time at which the soul was infused.

This, of course, has nothing to do with the morality of abortion since all the said theologians were resolutely against abortion at any stage.

Thankfully, many US Bishops have stepped into the fray and issued statements correcting Speaker Pelosi. This has caused her some embarrassment in the mainstream media who will at least recognise that perhaps the Bishops know a little more about medieval theologians than she does.

See Diane at Te Deum Laudamus for a roundup of statements from the US Bishops.

The silly argument about St Thomas Aquinas and ensoulment was used in tghe course of the debatge on the HFE bill last May and is still trotted out on occasion. The US Bishiops have done us a good service by their sensible and uncompromising statements on this question.

Congratulations Fr Spinelli

Congratulations to Fr Aaron Spinelli who was ordained to the sacred priesthood yesterday for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

I have met Fr Spinelli several times whilst visiting the Venerable English College in Rome and I am happy for the diocese that they have a fine new priest to serve in the vineyard of the Lord.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Install Fest

While I was in the Netherlands, the hard drive on my laptop failed. This was the latest disaster in what has been a summer of technical discontent. My phone line was down for a week while I changed companies, my answering machine broke down, and my keyboard got trashed. Answering machine and keyboard are small fry but a banjaxed hard disk is something else. Mind you, it was about time for an upgrade anyway.

Therefore today, I paid a visit to PC World and was delighted to see that they were having a clearance sale of shop-soiled stock. I don't mind the dust and scratches and have a bottle of methylated spirit to wipe off all the gunk from the tape they insist on strapping all over the hardware. I was able to pick up a desktop PC and a mini laptop for what I was expecting to pay for one computer - I also got one of those big screens thrown in. The idea is that I do not in the future go travelling around in planes, boats and trains with my main computer in a rucksack.

There was a glitch setting things up with the desktop box. I have a cupboard full of wires, plugs and so on, so I was able to supply all the missing cables but when Windows opened, I found that PC World had left the computer tied up with their own passoword protection. Reinstalling Windows Vista took a while but I have now got past the first stage in any "Install Fest" which is to get on the internet and download the latest version of Firefox.

I'm hoping that my backup drive is all OK and that the various USB sticks with backups of critical files are working. One thing I think I will persevere with is Google Mail. I have not used this much previously but during the past couple of days it has been essential. I'm getting more impressed with it, especially, as you would expect from Google, the search facility.

Time to install some more software...

Friday, 29 August 2008

"To God who gives joy to my youth"

The northern region of the Netherlands is a beautiful part of the world. Canals, pastures stretching as far as the eye can see, windmills, and lovely houses made for a restful and rejuvenating couple of days.

The participants in the Boot Camp were mainly young graduates in various disciplines: they wanted to learn more about the Catholic faith. My task was to talk about the sacraments in general and the Eucharist in particular. I took along the notes that I use at the seminary and tried to give an overview of these topics, looking in some detail at questions such as validity and fruitfulness, the nature of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Tridentine decrees on transubstantiation. I was not sure beforehand what level to work at and so I was glad that for those who took part, I had to hand my full notes with quotations from the Fathers and the magisterial documents.

The programme for each day was quite ambitious. The participants were camping locally in tents and walked the half mile to the village for breakfast and other meals, and for offices sung by Brother Hugo in the chapel. They prepared their own food in the village Hall and must have walked quite a number of miles to and fro during the course of the week.

Each night, there was a time of adoration after Compline. For this, the Blessed Sacrament was carried from the village solemnly with torches, thurible and bell - both there and back. As a priest, I was asked to fulfil this office and to give Benediction at the end of the period of adoration. It was a wonderful experience to carry Our Lord so solemnly along the roads and tracks, across the canal, into the chapel tent and back again. (Given the darkness of the roads and tracks, the torches fulfilled their practical, as well as their symbolic purpose.) There was no doubting the young people's love for the Lord in his Eucharistic presence. Although I have virtually no Dutch, I was moved by Brother Hugo's leading the litanies in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the reverence which was shown.

Another welcome duty as a visiting priest was to celebrate Mass. The day before I came, two priests from the Fraternity of St Peter in Amsterdam spoke about the usus antiquior and I was asked to celebrate Mass in this form of the Roman Rite (most of the participants being readers of my blog and knowing that I would not object to this request!) Here is the chapel tent set up for the 8am Mass, open towards the morning sun:

The altar was hung with fine quality damask, with gold braid decoration. Everything was as dignified as could be for the celebration of the sacred Liturgy. In the front of the altar is a niche containing a piece from the sarcophagus of St Bruno (one of the many relics in the possession of Brother Hugo) and a relic cloth was placed on the altar with a first class relic.

I had expected that I would be celebrating Low Mass but the young people had prepared with Brother Hugo all the texts from the Graduale Romanum, and Mass IV so that we could celebrate a Missa Cantata on each of the two days I was there. It was not possible in the circumstances to have the more solemn form of the Missa Cantata but my server, David, was very competent and we managed to negotiate our way around the groundsheet and the carpet that had been sacrificed to lay in front of the altar.

It was really most impressive that the quite challenging Gregorian Chant for the two days was sung with such enthusiasm by a choir with little experience of the usus antiquior. As ever in such cases, they were modest and apologised afterwards for the fact that they made occasional mistakes. Really - they should not be so hard on themselves!

The atmosphere at the Boot Camp was full of fun. I was asked to ride a bicycle in my cassock for a photo (perhaps that will appear somewhere soon!), there was much improptu singing (especially from Anna) and I sang "The British Grenadier" as my contribution while lunch was being prepared. I was also introduced into the mysteries of the pronunciation of Dutch diphthongs by being encouraged to read the local Catholic paper out loud while being carefully coached (especially by Livi).

The Church in the Netherlands is fortunate indeed to have this gallant band of young adults ready to sleep out in damp tents for a week, staying up late to adore Our Lord, getting up early to praise Him, and scribbling diligently in notebooks while learning more about their faith. I was so glad that I agreed to go and help out, even for a couple of days, and I shall be watching with interest to see the growth of the Church in that lovely country. In the Netherlands too, The Church is alive! The Church is young!

Brother Hugo and the hermitage

While at Warfhuizen for the Catechetical Boot Camp, I stayed with Brother Hugo who is a hermit and has charge of a beautiful Church which he has enriched with many devotional artefacts, relics, hangings, and statues. Here you see the exterior of the Church.

The eremitical vocation in the Netherlands is a tradition from the Counter-Reformation when a number of small chapels were set up as part of a programme of reconversion. The brothers who cared for these chapels looked after them and slept in the sacristy. Brother Hugo keeps this tradition; as he explained to me, once everything is put away, you put yourself away to sleep in a cupboard-like bunk.

The grille is important for the hermit to allow him the privacy that he needs to follow his vocation of prayer and contemplation. Brother Hugo's bishop (who has recently been appointed to Utrecht) was very supportive of his vocation.

The little Church has become a place of pilgrimage, principally because of the magnificent statue of Our Lady of Sorrows, carved to order by a Spanish artist.

Passing through Groningen

As I mentioned the other day, my journey to the Catechetical Boot Camp took me via Groningen. On the way back today, the Puella Paschalis very kindly took me to see the Cathedral which is her parish Church. Since she knows the personnel there, she was able to take me into the sacristy and the presbytery. Unfortunately, their excellent parish priest was busy out and about with pastoral work so I was unable to meet him but I was very pleased to hear that he called in to the Boot Camp.

The Cathedral of St Joseph in Groningen was built by Cuypers who is the "Dutch Pugin". The tower is the tallest structure in Groningen. As you can see below, the vista of the Cathedral has been left intact.

The High Altar is also unaltered. The versus populum altar is a movable wooden altar and could easily be shifted for the usus antiquior. Not only the High Altar but the episcopal throne and the sedilia have been left in place, allowing the Cathedral to retain its continuity with the past.

Cuypers also designed the rather splendid railway station:

I was amazed at the bicycle store. This photo shows only a third of it. Anna, who collected me from the station, told me that at Amsterdam there is a three-storey bicycle store.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Speeding through Holland

Schiphol airport at Amsterdam is a major international hub and it was a very long trek from the plane to passport control. The terminal is built around a "plaza" which is in fact Schiphol railway station. At the airport, there was an English sign pointing to "Information about Holland" which reassured me - it is supposed to be very incorrect to talk of the Netherlands as Holland since Holland is only a part of the Netherlands. (Cf. this Wikipedia article which explains everything...)

Update: I have now realised that Schiphol Airport is in fact in Holland. So yes, we should speak of "The Netherlands"

My train takes me via Amersfoort to Groningen. We have just stopped at Hilversum which is a name people of may age remember from old wireless sets. The journey is about two and a half hours through flat and fertile country, much of which is below sea level.

My destination has a Wikipedia article of its own: Warfhuizen. Here it is on the map:

View Larger Map

The connection has now dropped to 2G so I'll get on with my email and probably get back to you with some pictures tomorrow or Friday. Say a prayer for all those on the boot camp and for me that I help them with what I say.

Tutorial for new commenters

The other day I requested help for those who want to comment but have found it difficult to negotiate the process of getting a blogger ID. The Little Church Mouse has started a new blog called Tuts4Blogs which is dedicated to providing tutorials for bloggers.

The second post on the blog has a YouTube tutorial of how to sign up for a google/blogger ID.

Many thanks indeed to the Little Church Mouse.

Bishop criticises "flat and safe" episcopal conference statements

A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of Bishop O'Donoghue's new document "Fit for Mission? Church". It had been sent to a number of recipients, one of whom forwarded it to me. It was followed up by an email to those recipients saying that it was not released until the end of the month. I understand from Damien Thompson's blog "Holy Smoke" that the release date is today so I hope that I have kept the embargo properly.

Bishop O'Donoghue takes an honest and hard look at the life of the Church in his diocese. He asks why so many Catholics have stopped going to Mass and to Confession, why there are so few Catholic marriages, why the seminaries are almost empty and monasteries and convents closing. He examines the four major documents of Vatican II, emphasising very strongly that they must be read according to a "hermeneutic of continuity." Throughout the document, he upholds the teaching of Humanae Vitae and strongly reaffirms Catholic teaching on family life.

The part of the document likely to generate most interest is where Bishop O'Donoghue shares his concerns about the working of the Conference of Bishops. He says:
I must admit that during my 15 years as a bishop I have increasingly come to share certain concerns about the relationship between individual bishops and the National Conference:
  • Due to the division of areas of responsibility among the bishops, such as education, liturgy, healthcare, migrants etc, there can often be reluctance among the rest of the bishops to speak out on these issues, as if somehow they had handed over their competence in these areas to the responsible bishop and his particular committee. For example, there seemed some surprise in some circles that I had issued my teaching document, Fit for Mission? Schools.
  • I must register, too, my disappointment that our Bishops’ Conference recently could not agree a collegial response to the Government’s legislation on same-sex adoption.
  • The problem with attempting to arrive at a consensus among bishops with, sometimes, divergent views, is that Episcopal Conference statements and documents have a tendency to be often flat and ‘safe’ at a time when we need passionate and courageous public statements that dare to speak the full truth in love. The effort to achieve a consensus results – as Cardinal Ratzinger so aptly expressed it – often in the loss of the ‘scandal’ and the ‘folly’ of the Gospel, so that we are no longer the ‘salt’ and ‘leaven’ so urgently needed. (Cardinal Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report, p. 62)
  • Agencies and Commissions of national conferences must surely uphold the fullness of the Church’s teaching, particularly doctrinal and moral teaching, in their collaboration with secular agencies. I’m thinking in particular of agencies with a responsibility for education or economic development. The staff of these agencies are often in a position to witness to the truth of the Church’s teaching on, say, the theology of the body with its positive refutation of pre-marital sex, ‘safe sex’, or artificial birth control, in their dealings with government departments and committees. There must be no backpeddling on these issues just because certain truths are unwelcome in the corridors of power.
  • Sometimes the Secretariats of Episcopal Conferences forget that they are the servants of the bishops, and so their staff take it upon themselves to decide what is best, i.e. setting the agendas of conference meetings. It needs to be re-iterated that bishops have not delegated their authority to the committees and staff of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
  • In Anthony Howard’s official biography of Cardinal Basil Hume, he writes that his Eminence left behind a ‘semi-autonomous Church’. (Anthony Howard, Basil Hume, p. 321). Leaving aside the question of the truth or otherwise of this observation, I think it succinctly identifies the danger inherent in the workings of national episcopal conferences. We must guard against the Catholic Church degenerating into local churches who consider themselves almost autonomous in some respects from the See of Rome.
  • It is not acceptable for us to dismiss documents issued from Roman Dicasteries, saying, ‘That’s for others, not for us! We don’t have that problem here’. Such an attitude can sometimes result in documents and statements from the Holy Father’s Dicasteries not being given the serious attention they require. There must be an active dialogue between the local church and the Holy See.
  • We must never forget that for each local church to be fully Church, there must be present in it the supreme authority of the Church: the Episcopal College together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith puts it, ‘we must see the ministry of the Successor of Peter, not only as a ‘global’ service, reaching each particular Church from ‘outside’, as it were, but as belonging already to the essence of each particular Church from ‘within’ (CDF, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion, 13).
I haven't yet found a copy of the document posted on the internet but I expect it will be available for download soon.

On the way to the boot camp

I'm blogging today from a table at City airport which is usually a very pleasant place to fly from - today is no exception, nice and quiet, plenty of room and a decent place in the departure lounge for brunch. There was a rather, er, well-built policeman at the top of the escalator with a machine gun but nowadays, that is reassuring.

I'm on the way to the Netherlands - which we in England usually call Holland, to take part in the catechetical Boot Camp. From Schiphol airport, I have to catch a train to Groningen where I will be met to take a local train and then a bus to a nearby hermitage where I will be staying with Brother Hugo. Tomorrow, I'll be giving two talks at the camp - one on the sacraments in general and one on the Eucharist.

I hope to have some photos for you soon.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Engaging book on prayer

Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory is an engaging speaker and writer. He tackles familiar subjects in an original and witty manner without descending to frivolity or succumbing to the temptation to say something new just for the sake of it. His latest book "Jesus, teach us to pray" is a good example of his style applied to the most important subject of prayer.

He first of all looks at what is the purpose of prayer, and particularly at some wrong answers to that question; he covers different types of prayer and then moves on to a lengthy reflection on the Our Father which forms the main part of the book. In a final chapter, he takes a sensible look at the most common difficulty that people have in praying, that of distraction.

Based firmly in the tradition of the Church's teaching on prayer, this is a readable joyful and wise treatise which will help anyone who wishes to worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

"Jesus, teach us to pray" is published by Family Publications (143 pages, paperback, £8.95)

Catholic Rescue Society ad (1937)

The other day, thumbing through the Southwark Catholic Directory for 1937, I found this advertisement for the Catholic Rescue Society, later the Catholic Children's Society, and now to become the Cabrini Children's Society (see also More on the "Cabrini Children's Society"). I am sure that things were not perfect in those days but the emphasis on the saving of the children's souls certainly gives one pause for reflection.
Ruined Sanctuaries

You have seen them – indeed, how could you help otherwise, for from Land’s End to John o’ Groats, from St George’s Cathedral to the North Sea, they lie scattered about this once Catholic land, testifying to the Faith and Love that then flourished – abbeys and monasteries and convents, now in ruins, where once holy men and women dwelt; whose walls have watched their daily lives of sacrifice, have heard their nightly chanting of the Office, and whose cloisters have echoed to the voices of God’s saints. Ghosts of a former glory, they haunt us with the memory of that heritage which our fathers surrendered with so slight a struggle. Ah, if we had been there, we would not have let the Faith die out so easily!

And yet, in our own day, a greater sacrilege hourly takes place, and we raise no finger to stop it. For what is the most beautiful abbey in the world compared to the soul of a child? Is not a child’s soul indeed the temple of the Holy Ghost? And the Angels, we are told, love to dwell therein, listening to the echoing harmonies of God.

Ruined Sanctuaries – there are so many of them. Look around in our big cities – go out into the squalid parts and see the pity of it – children whose eyes reflect the misery they have come to regard as natural, who know nothing of a mother’s love or affection, but whose hearts have been taught the ways of sin even before they knew what sin was. Here are the sanctuaries that we can save from final desecration, aye, and sanctuaries worth the saving. Even if it were only to bring a little happiness into their baby lives surely we would do something for these poor kiddies – but when it is a question of their soul’s salvation besides there is no sacrifice that we would not make. The Faith of our Fathers is living still, and we must hand on the precious heritage to the children.

For these children – for their happiness of soul and body – the Southwark Catholic Rescue Society has struggles and worked for forty-one years. During that time, twenty-five thousand boys and girls have been rescued from a misery worse than death, and tenderly cared for by the good Nuns and brothers. Today 1250 such kiddies look to the Southwark Catholic Rescue Society for their shelter, food, and clothing, and in turn the Society looks to you. You know you will not, cannot, refuse.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Help request

A couple of people have written asking for simple instructions on how to set up an ID to comment on the blog. I'm not much good at technical support so I'd be very grateful if someone could pop some simple instructions in the comment box - or indeed on your own blog if you would like the hits.

If you put instructions in the combox and include links, please put them in as hyperlinks (Cf. How to put links in the combox.)

"Man and Woman in the Plan of God"

A presentation by Christian Meert to help couples in their understanding of the Theology of the Body. Vaughan House Westminster 3 September. Full details in the poster below.

Read this document on Scribd: Christian Meert - Man & Woman in the Plan of God

"Faith in a hard Ground"

This week's Catholic Herald carries an abridged version of Elizabeth Anscombe's classic essay on Humanae Vitae, given as a paper at the University of Melbourne in 1978. (Cf. Defending a virtue under fire)

The full text of the paper is included in the newly published collection of essays by GEM Anscombe on religion, philosophy and ethics: "Faith in a Hard Ground" (edited by Mary Geach and Luke Gormally.) The preface by Luke Gormally and the Introduction by Mary Geach are most helpful, as are the additional footnotes supplied by them

I well remember from my days as an undergraduate philosopher at Oxford the excitement of being able to support essays with material from a Catholic philosopher who was so well versed in the British analytical tradition. The essays in this collection are written at a variety of levels and cover a wide area of ground - from "Hume on Miracles", to contraception, the embryo, to the fundamental question "What is it to believe someone?"

The encouragement (and polite, but ruthless dissection) of independent thought, characteristic of the teaching of philosophy in Britain makes for very thought-provoking writing and Anscombe was a classic exponent of this tradition whilst remaining humble in her acceptance of the Church's magisterium and obedient even when this cost her much soul-searching. I heartily recommend this collection to philosophy undergraduates who are in search of some relief from the secular consensus, to those trained in continental schools who will find these essays refreshing in their originality, and to anyone who has an interest in thinking through the important philosophical and ethical problems of our day.

Two fascinating DVDs

Mary's Dowry Productions have sent me their two latest DVDs. I now have a portable DVD player to watch such things while having lunch and enjoyed both of them very much.

Philip of Arundel (23 minutes) is the story of St Philip Howard, with footage from Arundel and original musical soundtrack from Media Evangelization Music. The story is told in the first person as though by the saint himself. It is interesting to hear that St Philip's father, the riches man in England, purchased the London Charterhouse, occupied not many years before by the Carthusians. St Philip led a worldly and dissolute life with great prospects at the court of Queen Elizabeth I, becoming the premier earl of the realm.

He heard the disputations with St Edmund Campion at the Tower of London. A notional assent to the Catholic faith gave way to a real assent of mind and heart. He knew that his conversion would be punished ruthlessly as indeed it was, yet he travelled to London to be reconciled to the Catholic Church by a Jesuit priest.

Tricked by the state security services of the day, he was intercepted at sea and imprisoned for 11 years in the Tower of London. Eventually, St Philip was charged with praying for the success of the Spanish Armada, the only case in English legal history where someone was condemned as a traitor for praying. He protested that he only prayed for the safety of Catholics but was convicted and sentenced to death.

Queen Elizabeth would not sign the warrant for his execution, preferring that he should die a slow and miserable death in the Tower. He was refused permission to see his wife - being offered not only this permission, but the restoration of all his estates if he would renounce the Catholic faith. This establishes beyond doubt that he was killed propter odium fidei (on account of hatred of the faith). He died on 15 October 1595.

The second DVD is "How I painted the Sistine Chapel Ceilling". Gary Bevans, who tells the story, was inspired while on a visit to Rome, to paint a reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his parish Church of the English Martyrs, Goring-on-Sea. A professional sign-writer, Gary painstakingly reproduced Michelangelo's work panel by panel.

This is a most fascinating and absorbing story, peppered with inspiring reflections on the faith. The work has attracted attention all over the world and is now regarded as a significant part of our heritage.

See the Bevansinc. blog for the latest information on this great new initiative of independent Catholic film making.

Gospel and Bluegrass

Paulinus has a good post comparing two versions of the gospel song "Old time religion" (Cf. In Hoc Signo Vinces: Old Time Religion)

This reminded me that we have not had any Bluegrass Gospel (not to be confused with Southern Gospel) for quite a while so here is a fun rendition of "Set Your Fields on Fire" by the Saltgrass Band. There is a certain amount of joshing at the beginning - if you want to skip some of this, the song begins just after 1'35" - just be sure to catch the beginning.

My all-time favourite is still If you can't walk on water / Then you better get in the boat

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Beachy Head video

Here's a video in what I have now called the "Well I'm Standing Here" series. (They have to begin with a piece-to-camera that starts "Well I'm Standing Here.") There was a previous example in the V&A "runny nose" video with Aunty Joanna.

Actually, this one was a little tricky to edit because there is, on the one hand, a fairly light-hearted trip to Beachy Head by myself and Fr Charles Briggs, attempting to get some footage in high winds on an English summer's day; and on the other hand, the serious matter of praying for the poor souls who have committed suicide by jumping off the cliff. I hope the balance is right.

Classic Diogenes

I see that Catholic World News has had a makeover and become Catholic Culture - at least that's what I got from my blog reader today although it does say that it is Version 4 Beta so perhaps only people with blog aggregators get to see it or something.

Anyway, I found my way to my favourite part of this service (now with an updated link on the blogroll) - Off the Record with articles by Diogenes. The other day, there was a classic: Prayer While Shaving.

Apparently an Indian priest has told people that a good way to pray is to gaze at themselves in the mirror for an hour to discover the "god within". This promotes universal solidarity because then you realise that there is no difference between christians and hindus etc. Diogenes comments:
And he has a point, you know. If your prayer consists in staring at yourself, the particulars of your creed don't matter too much. Lex orandi and all that.
Like Diogenes, I too am not yet ready for this form of prayer - for much the same reasons.

Photo to oil painting

A reader liked my photo of Beachy Head and has converted it into an oil painting! Many thanks, Mary. I'll use this in a little video I'm doing about our visit to Beachy Head.

"Radiant Light" event

On Saturday 13 September, Elizabeth Wang will be describing her new multi-panelled painting of the Last Judgement and Salvation; and there will be prints of this painting on display, together with an exhibition of other favourite images.

The theme of the day is ‘Discovering the Face of Christ’ and Mgr Keith Barltrop, director of CASE will also be speaking. In the publicity for the event, he has given an introduction to this apostolate:
"It has often been said that the difficulty modern people have with faith is not so much about the arguments for or against it, but with the difficulty of imagining God's presence in our highly secularised world. The work of Radiant Light is a perfect answer to that problem. Elizabeth Wang's art helps us make "the longest journey", from head to heart, by picturing what this presence might be like in a variety of situations. Radiant Light thus continues the great tradition of the Church from earliest days in using contemporary art to instruct us about God's truth and attract us to his beauty, leading us on to heartfelt adoration and to awareness of his being with us and all people from moment to moment."
The day will be held at the Harpenden Public Halls, Southdown Rd, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 1PD. This is 5 minutes walk from Harpenden station - trains from St Pancras.

Coffee are from 10.30am; the main events and lunch are in the Halls from 11.00am to 2:30pm; followed by Mass at 3pm in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Rothamsted Ave, Harpenden. Entry is free and all are welcome. Take along a packed lunch or buy sandwiches nearby.

This autumn the Radiant Light website will be re-launched with over 600 free high-quality pictures available for use in schools, catechesis, and evangelisation.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Settings for new ICEL texts

Musica Sacra have settings for the new ICEL English texts of the Mass. You can download them all for free and print them off. They are published under the Creative Commons licence so your responsibility is only to acknowledge the Church Music Association of America as the source.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Beachy Head and Lewes

We did manage to visit Beachy Head yesterday on the way over to Shoreham-on-Sea. It was a good blustery English summer's day which added to the experience of walking near the edge of the highest coastal chalk cliff in Britain. Above is one of the photos I took. I might get a chance to stitch together a YouTube video about the site.

Fr Sean Finnegan (of the Valle Adurni blog) was, as ever, a magnificent host, not only setting us up for our Masses but also giving us an excellent lunch. He has posted an amusing lament on the subject of his Church: Oh Lord! A prayer.

Today, we took the train to Lewes to visit Fr Richard Biggerstaff at the parish of St Pancras. Fr Jonathan Martin is staying with him during the summer. Below, you can see the fine Church; thankfully, the Ditchling altar has survived various phases of "re-ordering".

I realised today that I love serving Mass in the usus antiquior as well as saying it. I served Fr Briggs' Mass after saying my own and tried to remember what my own altar servers have learnt. I don't think I made too many mistakes.

This evening, Fr Ray Blake joined us at Eastbourne for dinner - Frs Biggerstaff and Finnegan were busy with parish commitments. Thanks to the fine weather today, we were able to take coffee and a digestivo outside on the terrace while discussing various interesting items of news that are breaking over the summer.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Fr Briggs and I are spending a few days in Eastbourne, a traditional English seaside town on the Sussex coast. The parish Church of Our Lady of Ransom is very fine; above is a photograph of the Church's Lady Altar.

We are quite near to Brighton and therefore yesterday took the train across to visit Fr Ray Blake at Saint Mary Magdalen. After saying our Masses at the Sacred Heart altar, we joined Fr Blake for lunch in one of Brighton's many and varied restaurants.

This morning, we intend to visit Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain at over 500 feet high. An area of great beauty, it has sadly gained a reputation as a location for committing suicide. Thanks be to God, a chaplaincy team which regularly patrols the area has helped to reduce the number of people jumping off the cliff.

Then we will drive over to Shoreham to visit Fr Sean Finnegan of the parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace which comprises three Churches in the Adur Valley. We will be saying our Masses in the Church of St Peter.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Self-canonisation meme

As it is holiday time, I will do a meme for which I have been tagged by Mulier Fortis
"If you should pass from our presence, what picture of you shall we use for your saint's card, should you be so elevated, and of what do you want to be patron?"
Well the santino would have to have this photo of me sitting in the Buckingham Arms and reading the Remnant:

And I would like to be the patron saint of visiting seminary tutors, please. That way, the seminarians would be able to take all sorts of examples from my life and say "Ah, but St Timothy of Blackfen did x, y, and z..." rather as they talk about the Curé of Ars failing his exams.

Unfortunately, in my case, the many xs, ys, and zs are not simply a limitation in human abilities and I am unlikely to do enough penance for them this side of purgatory so I'd actually like lots of prayers and Masses, please; like this one provided by those good people at the Holy Souls Crusade
My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, on the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the terrible torments they endure; call them and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Amen.

Rome conference on Summorum Pontificum

There is an interesting conference next month in Rome, 16-18 September, organised by Giovani e Tradizione (literally "young people and tradition"). The line-up of speakers is impressive, including Fr Nicola Bux, Fr Michael Lang, and Fr Manfred Hauke.

The concluding Mass will be at the Church of SS. Trinità dei Pellegrini, the FSSP parish Church in Rome and will be celebrated by Mgr Camille Perl, the Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”. A note adds that the Institute of Christ the King will be providing the music along with the Cappella Musicale of the Pantheon).

A note concerning Masses on the Tuesday morning says "7-8am Holy Masses in the Patriarchal Basilica of St Peter (NB. Priests should bring their own “Missale Romanum” ed. 1962)" This confirms something that I was very glad to hear the other day. Apparently now there is no problem about celebrating Mass according to the usus antiquior in St Peter's Basilica - you simply turn up with your 1962 missal. I am told that the easiest way to find the old Mass in St Peter's is to look round for an altar at which there is a crowd of seminarians in clerical dress ;-)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Archbishop Ranjith models mutual enrichment

A most interesting post the other day from the New Liturgical Movement: The Assumption in Maria Vesperbild with Archbishop Ranjith. There are pictures there and plenty of text regarding this important celebration.

The thing that caught my eye was the observation that Archbishop Ranjith genuflected both before and after the elevation of the sacred species. Gregor Kollmorgen at NLM kindly linked to my post "Is your alb back to front?" in relation to the inclusion of elements from the older form of the Roman Liturgy when celebrating the newer form.

I would suggest that there is something more going on here. It would be hard to justify the double genuflection according to the rubrics of the newer form of Mass, or even as something "not specified" in those rubrics. However, re-introducing older elements of the liturgy into the newer form is very different from "making it up" as you go along. I hope that there are many more examples from senior ecclesiatical figures allowing us, without scruple, to enrich the newer form of the Mass with elements from the older form.

Ecclesiastical cyber-bullying

Orthfully Catholic, a blog by some English seminarians, recently put up a post called "Advice for Priests". At first sight, you might wonder at seminarians giving "advice to priests". However, if you read the post, you can see that this is something taken from a priest's sermon which the seminarians have found helpful and, good humouredly, pass on to us priests.

The sad part is a comment from "Fr Martin":
"Advice for Seminarians"!!!

Until you are ordained then please do not assume to offer advice to priests.

The advice I will offer you is if you wish to be ordained then I suggest that you refrain from such patronising comments. You are lucky that I do not know which Seminary that you attend, as if I did I would be expressing my concerns to your Rector.
I agree with Fr Ray Blake and Paulinus that this is nothing more than cyber-bullying. Seminarians are rightly careful about what they post on the internet and try to remain balanced and moderate in what they say. This post is a perfectly acceptable communication of a priest's preaching, and not in the least "patronising".

Fr Martin, unwisely, attempted to bully Damien Thompson last week - cf. The true voice of liberalism.

Gabriel Garcia Moreno

Andrew Cusack at Norumbega has a fine post about Gabriel Garcia Moreno, the 19th century Catholic statesman who was President of Ecuador, consecrated his country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and was martyred by the freemasons. On his person at the time of his death were found a relic of the Cross, a Scapular, and his copy of The Imitation of Christ.

I hope that he is canonised one day. Gabriel Garcia Moreno is a shining example of what a Catholic statesman should be. His rise to prominence was predicted by Our Lady of Good Success.

Annual liturgical lunacy

It's that time of year again - the time for bloggers to post photos and YouTube videos of the Religious Education Congress Liturgy in Los Angeles. I was rather amused by the meticulous removal of the zucchetto just before the dialogue before the Preface. It reminded me of a comment by Fr Guy Nichols once to a priest who boasted that he had celebrated Mass wearing only a stole (no alb etc.) "Why the magic stole?" If you are going to use glass pitchers and a wine glass for the Mass, why on earth bother with a zucchetto?

Note also the crazy applause at the "Great Amen" - are the participants cheering the celebrant for having accomplished the liturgical act?

Well, that's enough, I suppose. Here's a bit of video if you want to watch it. Same nonsense as last year, and the year before that ... Thank God for Pope Benedict!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Our Lady of Good Success

The feast of the Assumption seems a good day to promote devotion to Our Lady of Good Success. A reader kindly sent me the DVD, "Our Lady of Good Success: History, Miracles, Prophecies" produced by Pro Multis Media. In recent months, I have received several other items related to this devotion. There is a good website run by "Tradition in Action" which has a "Basic Questions" page by Dr Marian Therese Horvat who wrote the book "Our Lady of Good Success. Prophecies for our Times." Another dedicated website, Our Lady of Good Success has various articles and photos, from which the above is taken.

The first question any good Catholic will want to ask is "Is this devotion authorised?" The answer is unambiguously affirmative. It was approved in the 17th century by the local bishop and has been supported by his successors. Pope John Paul authorised a solemn public coronation of the statue.

Our Lady appeared to Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (1563-1635) at her convent in Quito, Ecuador. Her cause for canonisation was introduced by the local Bishop in 1986. It is particularly interesting that during the apparitions, Our Lady made a number of prophecies which have subsequently been fulfilled. She spoke particularly of the crisis in the Catholic Church during the 20th century. She also spoke, as at Fatima, of her subsequent "triumph" after a period of purification for the Church and the world. Our Lady told Mother Mariana that the devotion would become widespread in the late 20th century. Until then, it was virtually unknown outside Ecuador. There is a good article at Blessed Virgin Mary's Bower on the life of Mother Mariana.

The "good success" originally referred the happy development of Christ in the womb of Mary from conception to birth. It was extended to include our Lady's mediation and intercession in time of particular need. For our own time, it can be understood particularly to refer to Our Lady's motherly protection of the Church.

Our Lady of Good Success. Pray for us.

"Love Undefiled" blog

At the beginning of August, Robert Colquhoun started the blog Love Undefiled blog:
... to promote the virtue of chastity, provide an authentic understanding of love, sex and marriage and to build a culture of life.
He has been busy writing a good number of articles on various related subjects.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Successful Evangelium Conference

Some news in about the Evangelium Summer Conference last weekend at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, Fawley Court. Over 100 young people took part in the conference which addressed the question of how to reach out and explain the Catholic Faith to people in the modern world. Speakers included Fr Jerome Bertram, Fr Thomas Crean OP, Fr John Saward and Joanna Bogle.

Many good organisations were represented: CASE, Aid to the Church in Need, Family Life International, St Anthony Communications, St Patrick’s School of Evangelisation, the Good Counsel Network, the Iona Institute, and the Linacre Centre.

Past and present seminarians from the Venerable English College in Rome organised the liturgy and music, contributing to the prayerful and reverence celebration of Holy Mass.

The Conference was organized by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent of the Evangelium Project, in association with the Catholic Truth Society. Fr Pinsent said of the Conference:
“We aimed to provide orthodox Catholic teaching with challenging intellectual depth and liturgical beauty, very much the vision of Pope Benedict XVI. The enthusiastic response of the young people present at the Conference confirms the fruitfulness of this approach and encourages us in planning future projects of this kind.”

"The Vindication of Humanae Vitae"

Thanks to a reader for this link to a very good article: "The Vindication of Humanae Vitae" by Mary Eberstadt, an essay published by First Things.

The author looks in detail at the specific predictions made by Pope Paul VI and after demonstrating the striking way in which they have been proved accurate, she quotes Archbishop Chaput who said:“If Paul VI was right about so many of the consequences deriving from contraception, it is because he was right about contraception itself.”

Blessed Alexandrina website

Blessed Alexandrina was beatified in 2004 by Pope John Paul. Here is a short introduction from a dedicated Blessed Alexandrina website
Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa of Balasar, Portugal (1904 – 1955), one of the great mystics of modern times, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004. A ‘victim soul', chosen by Christ to suffer in atonement for the sins of humanity, she was bedridden for life from the age of twenty after sustaining injuries while escaping from an attacker. She mystically underwent the Passion of Christ on Fridays and her sufferings helped to shorten World War II. Her astounding life has many connections to the events of Fatima and she is known in Portugal as ‘ the fourth seer of Fatima '. She urged all to “ Do penance, sin no more, pray the Rosary, receive the Eucharist ”. For the last thirteen years of her life she miraculously lived on the Holy Eucharist alone, a medically confirmed fact. She has been proposed by the Church as “ a model of purity and perseverance in the Faith for today's youth ”.
Another dedicated page has links to various articles and prayers related to Blessed Alexandrina, and there is a Blessed Alexandrina blog with news about pilgrimages and devotions.

Works of Newman online

A correspondent has kindly referred me to the excellent Newman reader which I have not seen before. This has the texts of all of his major works.

I hope that one day, the Letters and Diaries can also be digitised and made available in this way.

Of interest in relation to a previous observation is Newman's Sermon notes on love and purity

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

More incense, less nonsense

H/T to Fr Dwight Longenecker for this video of the Botafumeiro shown swinging in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on the feast day.

This must be every thurifer's dream thurible. It weighs about 12½ stone and is nearly 6ft high. It is filled with about 6 stone of incense. there have been several accidents with the botafumeiro over the years. Notably, it flew out of the window during a visit of Princess Catherine of Aragon who was on her way to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales, brother of the future Henry VIII. It should have been obvious that this omen indicated that her intended would die, his brother would marry her, then insist he get an annulment, rebel against the negative decision, repudiate her, marry a younger woman and start the Church of England.

According to a footnote in the wikipedia article, there is a thurible in Lohne, Oldenburg, Germany that is considerably larger.

Vocations Guide to Priesthood

Vocations Guide to Priesthood is a good resource for promoting vocations. There are practical suggestions for the Bishop, priests, families, seminarians and others.

"My School Diary"

My School Diary is produced by Living Well media established in Australia in early 2004 to provide audio visual and print resources to the Catholic community.

The diary is intended for primary school children with a view to supporting a Catholic culture in the home and school. Sorry to remind teachers about school in the middle of August but you might want to take a look at this before term starts.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Video of Nashville Dominicans

A secular interview with the Dominican Sisters of Nashville, Tennessee. Traditional doctrine, habits, payer life. Average age 36. Too many new sisters so they had to extend the building. You know the sort of thing... Very inspiring.

Respect for the sacred name

Last Friday, Bishop Serratelli, Chairman of the US Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship sent this letter from Cardinal Arinze and Archbishop Ranjith concerning the use of the Divine Name, signified in the sacred tetragrammaton. The key directives are as follows:
1. In liturgical celebrations, in songs and prayers the name of God in the form of the tetragrammaton YHWH is neither to be used or pronounced.

2. For the translation of the Biblical text in modern languages, destined for liturgical usage of the Church, what is already prescribed by n. 41 of the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed; that is, the divine tetragrammaton is to be rendered by the equivalent of Adonai/Kyrios: "Lord", "Signore", "Seigneur", "Herr", "Señor", etc.

3. In translating, in the liturgical context, texts in which are present, one after the other, either the Hebrew term Adonai or the tetragrammaton YHWH, Adonai is to be translated "Lord" and the form God" is to be used for the tetragrammaton YHWH, similar to what happens in the Greek translation of the Septuagint and in the Latin translation of the Vulgate.
There is a quite remarkable economy in the letter and directives which manage to achieve a number of things all at once:
  • There is an important note on New Testament Christology pointing out that the attribution of the title "Lord" to Christ is a proclamation of His divinity.
  • We are reminded again of the principles set out in Liturgiam Authenticam.
  • A quite needless offence to Jewish sensibilities is removed.
  • A number of execrable hymns are ruled out at a stroke.

Read this document on Scribd: On the 'Name of God'

On a lighter note, I remember from my days at the English College that we sometimes had to sing a ditty that went like this:
I will celebrate Your love forever, ****!
Age on age my words proclaim Your love.
For I know your love was meant to last forever,
Founded firm Your faithfulness.
A seminarian whom we always referred to as Marcus Druvius re-wrote this as follows:
I will celebrate your Mass forever, Pius!
Age on age shall Latin be my tongue.
For I know your Mass was meant to last forever,
Founded firm on Quo Primum.
In those days (early 1980s), I was not an enthusiast for the older form of the Mass but this was, as they say in Ireland, a fine rebel song.

Mention in the Sunday Times

Last week, some of us bloggers were wondering why there had not been an article on Damien Thompson's blog Holy Smoke about the Merton Conference. We had rather forgotten about these printed paper thingies that lots of people buy in shops.

In fact, Damien had a major article last weekend in the Sunday Times: Let us pray in Latin: priests take on Catholics’ magic circle. He has quite a bit of fun with this, including the bit everyone will remember:
A priest who looks barely out of his teens explains what he does when unsolicited copies of The Tablet – a liberal Catholic magazine that opposes the Latin revival – arrive at his church: “I painstakingly remove the staples and feed it into the shredder. It’s time-consuming, but God’s work.”
He talks about priestly bloggers and very kindly quotes this blog. I think that it is the first time it has been mentioned in the Sunday Times.

Papa Stronsay seminarians

Here are the seminarians of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, departing Papa Stronsay on the steamer Vargan last week. This was the first part of their journey to the Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton Nebraska, run by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter.

Monday, 11 August 2008

"Parish Musings" blog

Have a look at the Parish Musings blog from the parish of St Ann, Ashton under Lyne. The parish priest and author of the blog is Fr Francis Wadsworth.

The above photo shows him on a recent trip to Lourdes where he was fortunate enough to meet the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.

Havoc wrought in process of ICEL approval

Adoremus Bulletin provides the very useful service of a verbatim report of the meetings of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops when they discuss liturgical matters. The latest edition has the Debate and Vote on Missal Texts at the June 2008 meeting of the USCCB. This was the occasion on which the US Bishops failed to reach the two-thirds majority necessary to give approval to the ICEL translation of the prayers from the Proper of Seasons.

Approval requires a two-thirds majority of the Latin rite Bishops of the US - 166 votes. The vote of those present was inconclusive but the subsequent mail ballot for those not present meant that the text failed to reach the two-thirds majority and the resolution will be presented again at the November 2008 meeting.

Major interventions arguing against the translation were made by Bishop Galeone (right), Bishop Trautman and Cardinal Mahoney. ICEL have responded to Bishop Galeone's criticism with a superb article responding to Bishop Galeone's criticism and defending their use of language and in particular the placing of modifiers before the main verb in the postcommunion prayers in order to preserve the strong ending of the prayers.

Archbishop John Vlazny spoke out strongly in favour of the translations:
But I have to step back and say, you know, Liturgiam authenticam gives some direction. We seem to have some difference of opinion about what the document suggests. But I think we’re trying our best to respect that document, to respect the participation of all those who are trying to produce an English translation that’s suitable for us. It may be imperfect, but as someone else has said, the previous document was imperfect. But it became familiar, and I think we can become familiar with many things. I can become familiar with ‘gibbet’, ‘ineffable’ and ‘wrought’, and I think my people can, too. And I think it will be a non-problem after we have proclaimed it for a few years.
Those three words were picked out by Bishop Trautman as words that are "no longer current speech". I'm not sure about that. People often speak about someone "wreaking havoc". Gibbet is not a commonly used word but is found in the popular text of the Stations of the Cross. Bishop Galeone referred to it:
The last time I heard the word “gibbet” was back in the 1940s, during Lent. We were making the Stations of the Cross. I was in grade school. And there was Sister Helena leading us every Friday during Lent. And if it weren’t for the word ‘nails’ I would not have understood what ‘gibbet’ meant. “O Lord, you were nailed to that infamous gibbet…” I never heard the word since 1949. Never.
It seems a pity that he has not heard this word since 1949. If he were to come to the Stations in my parish during Lent, he will hear it used. It's not so difficult, really.

There is an underlying question here, however. The objection to words that are not in current use relies on the assumption that the texts of the Liturgy must be in current everyday vernacular. As Fr Michael Lang has pointed out, this was not actually the case for the Latin texts of the Mass. Bishop Galeone in fact recognised this:
‘Quaesumus’ is a very archaic word in Latin. It’s like ‘prithee’ in English. Even in Cicero’s time it was archaic. [Pause, scattered laughter] You see.
Quite so. Liturgical language does use archaic words and has always done so. A thoroughgoing project of modernisation would end in absurdity. In the News and Views section of Adoremus, there is a short piece about an article by Gareth Edwards, “Modern English in the Mass”, in the October 22, 1966 issue of America magazine. Edwards said at that time:
If the Church wants to sweep the world like the Beatles, it must use language as contemporary as theirs”
He offers various alternatives for the word "Amen" - perhaps to be truly modern and "on the street", we should now render it "innit"?

Another consideration is the effect of the liturgy on language itself. Cranmer's English and the English of the Authorised Version of the bible had a considerable effect on the standardisation of English spelling, and on the language itself. If we try simply to follow modern English, we will need a new translation every generation. Since it seems that it takes about a generation to produce such a translation, the prospect for vernacular liturgy is not very promising.

In the meantime, can I suggest that bloggers regularly try to work the words "wrought", "gibbet" and "ineffable" into their writing?

UPDATE: Oh dear - not only did Hilary have this idea back in June, she even tagged me. It was one of those quite busy times...

Friday, 8 August 2008

Remembering Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Andrew Cusack has posted an excellent article: Norumbega: Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1918–2008 I remember reading "The Gulag Archipelago" as an undergraduate and beginning to understand something of the psychological modus agendi of a totalitarian regime. It was a most depressing but necessary read. I also remember reading of his Commencement Address at Harvard in which he criticised the moral and spiritual emptiness of the West.

Andrew Cusack's article has many quotations from Solzhenitsyn, I will pick out just one in which he offers a critique of making the law the basis of morality:
“One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it. I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either.”
This applies in our society particularly in the matter of the sanctity of human life. We have allowed abortion and passive euthanasia - and many people consider these things right as a result.

Solzhenitsyn criticises the false view of "freedom" arising from the "enlightenment". This is a result of the "Cartesian self" in which the human person becomes the centre of his own universe, faced with a cafeteria of life choices. From among these, he selects according to his own view of the world. At Merton, this was applied to the Liturgical reforms: we are now accustomed to see the Liturgy as something that we choose or create, rather than something that is given to us by God to celebrate with reverence and fear.

Those accustomed to this view of self and the world will doubtless drop their jaw in horror that the "liturgical ceremonies" can be spoken of in the same breath as the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century. There lies the fundamental debate about liturgy: is it something we make up for ourselves, to satisfy the needs of man; or is it something fundamental to our existence which we must receive humbly and carry out exactly, knowing that we are utterly unworthy to be in that sacred realm.

Liturgy and Life was a motto of the 1970s. It was usually taken to mean that Liturgy should be "updated" to reflect the "real life" of the collective (but inevitably contradictory) Cartesian self. Following Solzhenitsyn's analysis, we can see that Liturgy and Life are related in a more fundamental way. Our self-abasement before the Sacred Mysteries leads us into that understanding of self in which our own needs, choices and preferences are subordinated to the higher law of God's provision for us. In society, that higher law is the ultimate "Magna Carta" which no government can legitimately claim to supercede in the matter of killing babies in the womb or dissidents in the gulags.

In the comments box of Andrew Cusack's post, there has developed a slightly bizarre apologetics debate sparked off by Andrew's observations about Protestantism towards the end of the article. I have chipped in but will probably not have time to follow up. If you are in an apologetics mood, go along and have at it!

People at the Faith Summer Session

It is usual now at the Faith Summer Session to have a newly-ordained priest with us. Such a priest will always be invited to be the celebrant at the Mass on one of the days and give his "first blessing" afterwards. This year, we were all delighted to welcome Fr Sean Riley who has been on the Faith Conferences for several years. Trained at Oscott, Fr Riley was recently ordained for the Archdiocese of Liverpool.

Here is Richard Marsden of the Bashing Secularism blog. He is wearing a Hull City shirt and is proud that they have been promoted to the premiership for the first time in their history.

Being a real print journalist as well as a blogger, he could not do without the daily newspaper. Here, he is holding a copy of yesterday's Times with the front page headline "Archbishop believes gay sex is good as marriage" (Archbishop of Canterbury, that is). Here is the online version of the story.

Fr John Boyle, the South Ashford Priest is pictured here during one of the question sessions:

The Mulier Fortis was also in attendance but there is, as you might expect, no photo to show.

Non-bloggers, Fr Richard Whinder and Fr Chris Basden are also here. Parish commitments limited Fr Whinder's attendance but he drove over several times from his parish. Fr Basden, parish priest of St Bede's, Clapham Park, valiantly drove a minibus with a group from his parish. Clapham Park is well-known in the South of England as the first parish to offer the usus antiquior on a regular basis, alongside the usus recentior as part of the regular schedule of parish Masses.

Another non-blogger is Fr Luiz Ruscillo who has worked closely with Bishop Pat O’Donoghue on the excellent “Fit for Mission? Schools” document which I reported on in January (cf. Lancaster diocese smokes out the secularists.) I hear that there is another document in the “Fit for Mission” series soon to be published and that it will be well worth reading.

Fr Ruscillo is pictured over tea with Marianne Cuthbertson, the director of catechetical formation at the Parish of St Benedict's, Ealing which I visited in March. Marianne works closely with the excellent Maryvale Institute and came over for the day at my suggestion and made the most of the good opportunity for networking.

We had a number of seminarians with us this week. They help out with organising queues for confessions on the Tuesday night when we have about 20 or so priests hearing confessions. They also assist in various other ways as needed and are always generous with their time. They are a great example to the young people and give boys and young men the opportunity to ask about the priestly vocation and life at the Seminary. There were several whom I know from St John's Seminary, Wonersh but also plenty of others from elsewhere:

And here are the priests:

The Sisters of the Gospel of Life were the last to be snapped in the official our photograph session yesterday. They are a great example to the youngsters of the consecrated apostolic life, helping mothers to keep their babies and providing the necessary help for them to resist the temptation to have an abortion. They have a number of young helpers and I pray earnestly that God will call more women to join them in this so necessary apostolate.

The conference was arranged to help young people know and love Jesus Christ, learn more about the Catholic faith from the excellent lectures that were given during the week, celebrate the Sacred Liturgy with devotion and reverence, have fun together and make friends. (We have had many good Catholic marriages over the years and this is a lasting joy to all of us.) Here are just a couple of random photos of the young participants:

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