Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Archbishop: "Bloggers not part of the Church"

Robert Kumpel of St John's Valdosta had a forthright post the other day following up on the story on LifeSite News about the statement of Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Canada.(See: Answering the anti-blogger Bishop.)

The Archbishop has been annoyed by the internet coverage of the Canadian Bishops' official agency Development & Peace, which has been accused of funding numerous radical leftist organizations that promote a pro-abortion and pro-contraception ideology. Archbishop Weisgerber has said that an investigation has found that there was no evidence that Development and Peace has been involved in such funding. LifeSite News continues to insist that there is incontrovertible evidence, referring to its two earlier articles: MUST READ: All the Evidence of Development and Peace Pro-Abortion Funding …So Far and Mexican Pro-Life Leader Confirms: Groups Funded by Development and Peace are Pro-Abortion

In response to this controversy, the Archbishop has attacked Catholic bloggers, saying
"These bloggers who claim to be more Catholic than anyone - I think first of all they're not part of the church, they're not Catholic in the sense that they have no mandate, they have no authority, they have no accountability. And they speak very, very definitively about what it means to be Catholic, and they're followed by so many people."
Robert Kumpel quotes Apostolicam Actuositatem n.10. One might also add the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 211 All the Christian faithful have the duty and right to work so that the divine message of salvation more and more reaches all people in every age and in every land.

Can. 212 §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
As to accountability, bloggers know that they are very quickly brought to account if they say something untrue or misleading, and their opinions can be speedily quoted, analysed, supported or refuted by others.

Many do indeed speak definitively about what it means to be Catholic, very often quoting the teaching of the magisterium which is also quite definitive on the matter. One wonders that the preferred alternative might be: speaking ambiguously about what it means to be Catholic? One should also remember the many personal stories of faith that are to be found in Catholic blogs, telling of the struggles of witnessing to the faith at work, at College, in the family, and on the streets.

When sweeping negative statements are made about Catholic blogs, I instinctively turn to the New Liturgical Movement blog with its excellent articles, painstakingly and carefully written, mainly by lay people, for no material reward, purely for the love of God and His Holy Church.

Robert concludes his article with this pointed observation about what the real problem is here:
With the internet, everyone is more accountable. Bishops are now accountable (well, at least a bit MORE accountable) about how they spend our money. Priests, bishops, nuns and catechists are now more accountable for what they say, teach and preach. One stupid remark from the pulpit on any given Sunday can be all over the blogosphere on Sunday night. This is one of the reasons that the rupturistas who have lied to us about Vatican II for the last 40 years aren't getting away with it any longer.
Perhaps it would be a bit harsh for one stupid remark from the pulpit to be splashed over the internet; but the internet does come in handy when those stupid remarks are repeated week after week, and there is no adequate response to complaints from the faithful. Likewise when people are refused Holy Communion because they kneel down, when there is a Halloween Mass with people reading the scriptures or giving out Holy Communion in witch and devil costumes, when there is a "doner kebab" Blessed Sacrament procession, then some accountablity kicks in, thank God.

BTW - Robert Kumpel's blog St John's Valdosta is well worth having on your blogroll and in your feed aggregator. It is a favourite of Sir Dan of the Blogosphere who alerted me to this story.

Monday, 29 June 2009

First Communion at Ssma Trinità dei Pellegrini

My good friends Marko and Pilvi in Helsinki have posted photographs of the first communion of their daughter, Beatamaria, at High Mass in Rome today on the feast of St Peter and St Paul at the Church of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, the Church of the FSSP.

Here you can see Fr Brendan Gerard who was Deacon at the Mass and the dignified prie-Dieu that was decorated for the first Communion:

And here is a lovely family photo with Fr Kramer:

L'Osservatore Romano tribute to Michael Jackson

I agree with Tom Peters' assessment of the quotes from L'Osservatore Romano which are included in a Zenit report of an article about Michael Jackson in Friday's daily edition, especially on the duty that we have to pray for the repose of his soul. See: L'Osservatore Romano issues fawning tribute to Michael Jackson? If anyone has a link to the whole article in L'Osservatore, I'd be interested to read it.

In the meantime, this reminds me to make a memento for him at Mass this evening.

Bishop Koch on Vatican II

In an article in the July 2009 Newsletter for the Diocese of Basel in Switzerland, Bishop Kurt Koch, the President of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, has written an article which gives a forthright reply to a recent petition for the "unqualified acceptance of the council." He says:
Right from the start, the expression "unqualified acceptance" irritates me because I don’t know anyone — myself included — to whom it would apply.
He then gives examples from the Council to which many "vocal defenders" would not give "unqualified acceptance", the first two being the instruction that the Latin language should be retained in the Liturgy, that Gregorian Chant should be given pride of place.

Here is the closing paragraph:
It would not be difficult to lengthen this litany. Even so, it should be obvious why I demand more honesty in the current debate about the council. Instead of accusing others, and even the Pope, of wishing to go back to before the council, everyone would be well advised to look over their own books and reassess their own personal position on the council. Because not everything that was said and done after the council, was therefore done in accordance with the council—and that applies also to the diocese of Basel. In any case, the last few weeks have illustrated to me that a primary problem in the current situation has been a very poor, and in part very one-sided understanding and acceptance of the council, even by Catholics that defend the council "without qualification." In this regard we all—once more including myself—have a lot of ground to make up. Therefore I again repeat my urgent request: More honesty please!
Many thanks to Fr Z for posting a translation of the text of the Bishop's piece. See: What moves me? (German original text.)

Bishop Koch has been in the news before. In 2004, he referred to a letter written by a group of Swiss intellectuals calling on Pope John Paul II to retire, "disgusting" and "tasteless". In 2007, he publicly defended the "subsistit document" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, drawing sharp criticism from Swiss Protestants. He has also been in the news for not opposing Muslims building minarets in Switzerland - but took the opportunity to call for greater religious freedom for Christians in Muslim countries.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

FSSR visit St Philip

The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer have been in Rome on pilgrimage. See their blog for some great pictures of the Eternal City. They followed a custom of English students in visiting St Philip Neri before starting for home. Brother Edward of the London Oratory was on hand to show them round the Church and the rooms of St Philip. (See: Saint Philip Neri.)

The photo above is of the altar of St Philip Neri in the Chiesa Nuova. There is a copy of the mosaic at the London Oratory. I have said Mass many times at this altar, thinking of the greeting that St Philip Neri gave to the English seminarians: "Salvete flores martyrum!" (Hail, flowers of the martyrs!

"Thank you, Father"

Last week's edition of National Catholic Register has an article called "Thank you, Father", a piece particularly highlighting the spiritual good that priests can do.

As a priest, I blog it because such generous articles do not make priests big-headed but call us to examine our consciences and go once again to the heart of Christ, repenting of our failures and asking Him to help us to live more fully the life to which he has called us.

H/T Love Undefiled

Hermeneutic hits Gloria TV News!

This evening I took a look at Gloria TV news, the charming daily presentation of daily news items from the Catholic world, presented by speakers who have a very good command of English in a distinctive accent. I think that Gloria TV should promote their newscasters more - not for personal vainglory but as a help to the spread of the gospel. They would quickly build up a powerful fan club that could promote this excellent Catholic alternative to YouTube.

In the newscast, I was astonished and delighted to find myself quoted regarding the retreat given by Bishop O'Donoghue. (The item is at 1.08)

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Machinations in the Roman Curia

Here is my rough translation of an interesting article in Il Velino: Santa Sede, “duelli” all’ombra del Cupolone. It reports on a piece in the Italian weekly magazine "Panorama" but I have not been able to track down the text of that article online. It is all very intriguing (and, in my judgement, for what it's worth, probably fairly accurate) but should be taken with a health warning.
Rome, 25 June (Velino) – The weekly Panorama, in the issue published on Sunday, unveils “clashes” at the top of the Roman Curia, despite the exhortations issued by the Pope to his co-workers to “abandon careerism and power struggles.” The weekly from the Mondadori group writes: “The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is preparing to blow apart the ‘Sacra Corona’, an ironic definition to indicate the entourage of the substitute for General Affairs, Mgr Fernando Filoni. In the corridors of the Vatican there has been talk for some time of the departure of Mgr Gabriele Caccia, assessor of General Affairs, a key man in the “Sodano administration”, of Mgr Paolo Sardi, editor of the papal speeches and vice-chamberlain, and of Mgr Carlo Maria Viganò, delegate to the pontifical representatives. But there are also those who lay bets on the removal of Filoni himself, currently number three in the Ratzingerian Curia, a high-profile diplomat of the Wojtylan pontificate, but called to Rome by the present Pontiff himself. A French dossier reported by the Italian press at the time of the embarrassing incident of the lefevbrian bishop Williamson, pointed the finger at several of these monsignori for the “leak” in the organisation of the Roman Curia, ascribing to them also intentions contrary to the policy of the new pontificate; and therefore on a collision course with the present Secretary of State.

It would be unreal and idealistic to think of a Curia in which everyone agreed; indeed there are, and have always been, differences of opinion among the cardinals on many sensitive points – which Panorama cites – from the question of the lefevbrians, to relations with the Jews, to dialogue with China, to the beatification of John Paul II. Panorama maintains that the present “clashes” are the beginning of “manoeuvres for the next conclave”, notwithstanding the fact that “an MRI scan and other analyses undetaken in the past weeks have ruled out any serious jeart problems for the Pope.” But possible moves inside the Curia could be the outcome of a settling of accounts and of a reorganisation particularly as a result of the “Williamson affair”. The weekly also ascribes to the duels an opposition between the US Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the enpurpled Spaniard Antonio Canizares. Both came to Rome nominated by Benedict XVI, the first at the beginning of the pontificate, the second a few months ago. These suggestions give support to those who hold that the nominations of the present pontificate will be revealed in time to have been almost all mistaken.

Further: the process for the beatification of John Paul II was probably the cause of frictions between the ex-secretary of State Angelo Sodano and the ex-personal secretary of Karol Wojtyla, Stanislao Dziwisz, the two men who were longest at the side of the Polish Pontiff. That would give rise to a rebellion against the Secretary of State, Bertone, guided by the over-eighty year old Achille Silvestrini (writes Panorama) who is also a long-time diplomat. In any case, the empurpled roman is not the only one among the princes of the Church to bear a grudge that the command of the Curia should be entrusted to a salesian theologian. It is no secret that the criticism of the present secretariat of state forms a fairly broad cross-party alliance. Among this number is also Sodano himself; people remember his reluctance to leave his apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Secretariat of State, which he lived in for several months, in the Torre di San Giovanni, inside the Vatican gardens.
(The ironic "Sacra Corona" reference is to a mafia-like organisation in Puglia. I don't quite get the "magnetic resonance" sentence - happy if someone sheds light on it.)

Health warning? It all reminds me of a passage in Newman's "Letter to the Duke of Norfolk", (chapter 7), concerning the Syllabus of Errors, where he said:
Now, the Rock of St. Peter on its summit enjoys a pure and serene atmosphere, but there is a great deal of Roman malaria at the foot of it. While the Holy Father was in great earnestness and charity addressing the Catholic world by his Cardinal Minister, there were circles of light-minded men in his city who were laying bets with each other whether the Syllabus would "make a row in Europe" or not.

Incense drill and "spin the biretta"

After the Latin lesson today, we had incense drill. There are various options but here is a typical example for incensing something (e.g. statue of Our Lady) when the priest is wearing a cope, there is an MC (or "1st assistant") and a 2nd assistant.
  • Priest faces right.
  • Thurifer moves in.
  • 2nd assistant moves round.
  • MC hands edge of cope to 2nd assistant
  • MC takes boat.
  • Thurfier opens thurible.
  • MC presents boat to priest, saying "Benedicite Pater Reverende", holds boat just below lip of thurible.
  • Priest puts three spoons of incense in.
  • Priest makes sign of cross over incense in thurible. (Thurifer does not lower thurible until this has been done.)
  • Thurfier closes thurible.
  • MC hands boat to thurifer and takes thurible (this took a couple of goes).
  • 2nd assistant goes back to left of priest.
  • MC hands thurible to priest.
  • MC and second assistant hold cope.
  • Priest incenses.
  • MC takes thurible from priest and hands it back to thurifer.
Much of this is transferable with minor differences. At Benediction, since the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, there is no blessing. If there is no second assistant, the MC holds the cope and the thurifer nips round to hold the other side during the actual incensing. During Mass (Missa Cantata) there is no cope to worry about, and no 2nd assistant. The drill is useful for the young servers to get things second nature, feel more confident, and look really expert.

We then moved onto "spin the biretta" - each server is handed the biretta after it has been spun around in the air, and has to hand it to the priest the correct way. This was quite fun. (Remember they are only 7-8 years old.)

Beyond parody?

Mounted police, white van, three officers in body armour, follow-up visit by the hate crimes unit... for distributing an invitation to Easter services.

It is going to be more and more difficult for Private Eye to parody this stuff.

H/T Christian Concern for our Nation

Friday, 26 June 2009

Opening up the question of Vatican II?

News is hotting up of the imminent release of a new document relating to Ecclesia Dei and the SSPX. Yesterday, the liberal French new service Golias had an article Vers un nouveau Motu Proprio pour les Lefebvristes (go over to Fr Z for a reader's rough translation.) The article suggests that the Pope is preparing a new document that will facilitate the re-integration of the SSPX in the Church. It is interesting to see the name of Fr Nicola Bux mentioned as one of the "bad guys" working tirelessly for a restoration of traditional Catholicism.

Then there is a further piece on the subject: Robert Moynihan's "Newsflash" at the excellent "Inside the Vatican" magazine. (See: Where Is the Ecclesia Dei Document?)

According to Moynihan, a constitution for Ecclesia Dei has been ready for some time, was to have been published on 19 June, but has been delayed because of its controversial contents. His source says:
"The document regulating the role of Ecclesia Dei is all written. It has three parts: 1) some technical points concerning how it will function; 2) some measures about its relationship to the CDF, within the CDF; and 3) an outline of a program for discussing Vatican II and how the Council should be interpreted in keeping with the perennial tradition of the Church."
The problem is, of course, with section 3. As Moynihan comments:
Benedict, knowing that the Second Vatican Council was a watershed in the history of the Church, and knowing also that the interpretation of the Council has led in some unexpected and erroneous directions, has decided to face the basic problem — the problem of the interpretation of Vatican II — by placing the Ecclesia Dei commission in the heart of the most important doctrinal office in the Church, in the CDF.
If this is true, it is most encouraging for two reasons. First, the question of the interpretation of Vatican II in terms of genuine reform and continuity needs to be addressed more intensely and it would be difficult to think of a better forum to do so than in discussions between the SSPX and the CDF.

Secondly, if the whole question of Vatican II is to be thrown open, it is unlikely that there will be any back-tracking on the liberalisation of the older form of the Roman rite, and it is likely that any "clarification" of Summorum Pontificum will be just that: a clarification and not an obfuscation.

Curé of Ars Prayer Book

Family Publications have produced another fine prayerbook, this time to celebrate the Year of Priests and the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Vianney.

The Curé of Ars Prayer Book is a collection of passages from St John Vianney. Each passage is on a facing page with a colour illustration and a short quotation. Underneath each passage is a prayer. This is an excellent book for priests to use at their daily meditation, and indeed for lay people who wish to intercede especially for priests and to reflect on the priesthood in the life of the Church.

The booklet also includes a passage from Pope John XXIII's Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, a Litany in honour of St John Vianney, and information about the indulgences granted for the Year for Priests.

As ever, the quality is very fine - glossy stock, well-chosen photos and clean, uncluttered typesetting. 64 pages £4.50. You could perhaps buy one as a gift for your local priest.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Archbishops in Rome for the pallium

This coming Monday is the feast of St Peter and St Paul and, in Rome, the occasion for conferring the pallium on various Archbishops. Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be there, as will Archbishop Tim Dolan and others.

One of the recipients, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, is updating a blog about his pilgrimage. See: A Shepherd's Mission. Yesterday, he called into the NAC and prayed for his classmates, as well as visiting the Casa Sancta Maria, a college for American clergy doing further studies (which I visited last year) and stopping in to see St Philip Neri at the Chiesa Nuova.

Chesterton Conference

The Chesterton Society are holding a one day conference in Oxford, on July 4, 2009, in the Newman rooms at the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy in St Aldate’s. The theme is "The holiness of G K Chesterton" and there is an impressive line-up of speakers: Dr William Oddie, Dr Sheridan Gilley, Fr Ian Ker, Fr John Saward, and Fr Aidan Nichols, OP.

There is a programme and link to an application form at the Chesterton Conference page.

On the theme, you might like to read the essay by William Oddie in the Catholic Herald on The holiness of Chesterton.

If you want to know what G K Chesterton's voice sounded like, see this post from January 2008: So that's what he sounded like!

Pontifical High Mass at Westminster

Last Saturday the Latin Mass Society held its AGM, followed by Pontifical High Mass at Westminster Cathedral. The celebrant was Bishop John Arnold, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, Assistant Priest was Fr Andrew Wadsworth, Deacon was Rev Alan MacDole of the North American College in Rome, and Subdeacon was Fr Martin Edwards.

Here are some more photos from the Mass:

For some time, now, the Cathedral authorities have kindly allowed the LMS to remove the demountable forward-facing altar for their Masses. It seems that this altar has now gone for good and the staging has also been removed so that there is an unimpeded view of the sanctuary as Bentley designed it, with the High Altar visible in all its splendour without distractions.

Below you can see the incensation at the beginning of the Gospel. You may notice that some of the servers are quite young. I'm proud to say that several of the lads from Blackfen parish were allowed to serve at the Mass.

Here is a picture of the Blackfen contingent with Bishop Arnold and the sacred ministers in the sacristy after Mass:

PHOTO CREDITS: 1st 4 photos above from Joseph Shaw's photostream on flickr. Last photo from the LMS.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Government moving in on homeschoolers

Graham Badman was asked by Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, to review arrangements for home education in England. His report has now been published: Report to the Secretary of State on the Review of Elective Home Education in England. On the same day as the publication of the review, Ed Balls wrote a letter in reply, in which he says:
I accept all the recommendations in your report that call for urgent action to improve safeguards for home educated children and we will introduce these as soon as possible...
(But he is, er... "issuing a consultation.")

The report gives prominence to the concern raised by the British Humanist Association as follows:
“some of those who choose to educate their children at home for religious reasons may not be providing schooling that is adequate, either according to the Every Child Matters agenda or the principles of Article 29 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
I did think at the time it was introduced that the "Every Child Matters Agenda" would take on an increasingly sinister tone.

The review's proposals include a national registration scheme for home educators, to be renewed annually. There will be national guidance issued which will include a
clear statement of the statutory basis of elective home education and the rights and responsibilities of parents
Homeschooling is therefore no longer to be considered something that parents have a natural right to do, but something that has to have a "statutory basis."

Parents will have to:
provide a clear statement of their educational approach, intent and desired/planned outcomes for the child over the following twelve months.
Designated Local Authority officers will have the right of access to the home and the right to speak with each child alone "if deemed appropriate."

The Badman-Balls approach is a fundamental contradiction of the true relationship between state education and the family. The school should be considered as acting "in loco parentis" (in the place of the parent) because the parents are the first educators and carers for their own children. This latest review and its recommendations assume that the state is the primordial educator and carer and that if parents "elect" to educate their children without the help of the state, they are effectively acting "in loco rei publicae" (in the place of the state) and must therefore be registered, monitored, reviewed...

... pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, de-briefed and numbered?

"In your heads must still be the remnant of a brain. In your hearts must still be the desire to be a human being again."

"This is a most serious breach of etiquette."

Bishop O'Donoghue attacks "conspiracy of silence"

A correspondent has just sent me a link to the text of three talks given by Bishop O'Donoghue last month to the clergy of Northampton Diocese on retreat at Ars. (See: Rich in Christ, rich in love

Some of what Bishop O'Donoghue says is quite controversial so I think it is important to say first of all that the talks cover a wide range of topics related to the priesthood and are balanced and sensible - though quite hard-hitting at times. I did like this comment on the Curé of Ars:
He didn’t court popularity, he didn’t engage in person-centred, non-judgemental, positive regard, instead he was afire with the imperative that each person was struggling with a fundamental split in their nature – called to beatitude but wounded by sin.
The saintly Curé obviously hadn't read "I'm OK, You're OK." ;-)

The second talk is a thoughtful and prayerful analysis of what it means for the priest to make Christ present in the Church, looking at the power of grace working through human limitations, the priest's commitment to the confessional and meditating on the various ways in which Christ was stripped of his dignity as God and as man, and how we must imitate him in our priestly life. The third talks focusses especially on the missionary dimension of the priesthood, and the fourth ponders the different ways in which the priest is called to be immersed in Christ.

In the first talk, His Lordship looks at the positive and negative developments for the priesthood since Vatican II. One of the negative developments:
Dissent and disobedience. We are living in an unprecedented period in the life of the Church when countless individual priests, and laity, even bishops, believe they are free to decide what it means to be Catholic for themselves. For example, we have witnessed a wholesale rejection of the Church’s perennial teaching against contraception. This is the litmus test of the acceptance of obedience in the Church. How many priests support Gaudium et Spes’ crystal clear rejection of contraception, upheld by successive Popes – Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI? If we reject their teaching on this matter we are saying, as priests, that we know better than the successor to Peter! Is this tenable in a priest?
And then this passage which made me nearly fall off my chair:
Conspiracy of silence. This cocktail of dissent, disobedience and disloyalty has resulted in what I call a ‘conspiracy of silence’ amongst groups in the Church. There is no real dialogue or willingness to talk openly and honestly about our differences. For example, I don’t know why my Fit for Mission? documents hit a wall of silence among the bishops in this country. All I did was re-iterate the teaching of the Church, but this has been treated as unacceptable and unspeakable. Why?
Good question.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

More photos from St Cecilia's

Celebrating the Sacred Liturgy in a Benedictine house is always a little intimidating for a rough-edged secular such as myself. Everything is so perfect that I tremble in case I commit some liturgical solecism and mess things up. Sr Sacristan had all the books prepared for me and I think I managed OK. God has mercifully given me the ability to sing and provided me with good tuition in Latin so those are two obstacles removed, but I did try to pay careful attention to the rubrics of the Missal of Pope Paul VI.

Above you can see a view of the beautiful choir which is seen by the celebrant. It is filled with sisters of all ages, from young postulants, novices, and simply professed, to those venerable long-standing members of the community who still give so much from their experience.

Here is a photo from Vespers in the afternoon: the incensing of the altar at the Magnificat:

At recreation after None, there was a gathering of all the community to celebrate Sr Claire's jubilee with songs and laughter. As with all contemplative communities, the sense of joy is infectious.

After the various party pieces, there was an opportunity for all the community to come to the grille and meet the visitors. This was a lovely occasion for me, since I had the chance to greet and chat with sisters whom I have seen in choir over the years but not met in person.

Naturally, the youngest of the guests received some special attention:

There was a special moment for Sr Claire and her four brothers:

Olympic hopeful

Michael Hobson, one of my parishioners and the son of "Vesper", a frequent commenter, is hoping to compete in the Olympic Games in 2012. You can read an update of Michael's activities on his BBC blog where he speaks of training with Kelly Holmes, and of a charity race at his old sixth form college in aid of the Adolescents Unit at the royal Marsden Hospital, in memory of his friend Joe Allen who tragically died recently.

Please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Joe and for the success of our young athlete.

Cherie Blair to launch Sea Sunday (sigh!)

It is always a little depressing to take the ferry and train back from the beautiful Isle of Wight to the mainland and then on to The Smoke. Mulier Fortis picked me up from the station and filled me in with some of the blogging news I had missed over the past couple of days. Particularly irritating was the news that Cherie Blair was fronting the launch of this year's Sea Sunday appeal.

The Apostleship of the Sea is a worthy Catholic charity, providing for seafarers who are away from home for long periods. It is therefore sad to see the choice of celebrity for the launch of their appeal. Cherie Blair, along with her husband, openly dissents from the teaching of the Catholic Church and I agree with John Smeaton that she is not a suitable person to be invited to launch a Catholic charity appeal.

I rather fear that this publicity stunt will do more good for Cherie Blair than for the Apostleship of the Sea.

(See British Horrors, this article and this article and some quotes.)

Glorious morning on the Isle of Wight

This morning I celebrated Mass of the Vigil of St John the Baptist for the Isle of Wight Latin Mass Society at St Mary's, Ryde. Fr Glaysher, the Parish Priest, has taken great care of the Church and supplied vestments from his own collection. After Mass, a few people from the quite substantial congregation repaired to a local coffee shop, Included among them was Phil of Ponte Sisto (second from the left):

The IOWLMS is rather spoilt this week with Low Mass Sunday and today, as well as the lovely usus recentior Mass at St Cecilia's yesterday. Tomorrow, Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP will be celebrating the first Solemn High Mass on the Island for many years. Fr Goddard was recently ordained; I have sadly missed the various celebrations but wish him well from a distance.

Before taking the ferry back to the mainland, I had lunch with Fr Glaysher (right) and Fr Roy (left), a member of the Anglican Society of the Holy Cross. It was a glorious day to take lunch overlooking the Solent:

I had to take a photo of the beer pump which seemed to be particularly appropriate:

Monday, 22 June 2009

Day at St Cecilia's

At St Cecilia's Abbey in Ryde, Isle of Wight, today, there was the celebration of Sr Claire's silver jubilee of profession. I was celebrant at Mass (Latin, newer form) chanted beautifully by the sisters for the feast of Sts John Fisher and Thomas More with Mass VI and all the chants from the Graduale Romanum. Sister's family were there except for her father who is ill at home. He was able to listen to the celebration via a telephone linkup.

After Mass, the large parlour was open at various times during the day until Vespers and Benediction. After None, the sisters and the family took it in turns to sing songs and play various musical instruments at an extended recreation. It was great to be able to meet many of the sisters whom I have seen over the years in choir during various visits as well as recent newcomers to this thriving contemplative community. Some readers from the Netherlands will perhaps recognise the young lady in the centre of the photo above dressed in blue, visiting the community for a couple of weeks of discernment. I told her that she proved that you cannot escape Catholic bloggers even behind the grille of a strict enclosure.

While here on the Island, I am celebrating two Low Masses for the local Latin Mass Society at St Mary's. The parish priest, Fr Glaysher, has kindly put me up for two nights and I have benefited from his gracious hospitality.

Blogging is a little difficult but I will put up some more photos when I can.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Bishop Moran celebrates Mass at Papa Stronsay

It is great to see pictures of the visit of Rt Rev Peter Moran, Bishop of Aberdeen, celebrating Mass during a visit to the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer on the island of Papa Stronsay. His Lordship kindly celebrated Mass in the usus antiquior for the community.

Yesterday, several of the community were at St Peter's for solemn Vespers celebrated by Pope Benedict to begin the Year of the Priest.

Worldwide Twitter campaign for vocations

The Archbishop of Utrecht, Willem Jacobus Eijk, is on Twitter and, with the assistance of one of his priests, Fr Roderick, has launched the Worldwide Twitter campaign for vocations. If you wish to participate, the simple instructions are:
1 - Choose a day and pray specifically for future priests (they have a link for 140 character prayers in several languages).

2 - Post a Tweet that you are praying for vocations and invite your Twitter followers to do the same. Use #futurepriests in your Tweet so we can assemble all messages related to the campaign on this website.
the "#futurepriests" thing is to add a tag to all the posts so that they can be assembled. Sadly, but not surprisingly, some people have posted silly or nasty messages using the tag so if you are on Twitter go over and post sensible and prayerful messages. (They'll get tired soon enough.)

Take a look also at the dedicated portal set up by the Congregation for the Clergy, Annus Sacerdotalis.

Pope Benedict on Year for Priests

Over the past few days, there have been two excellent pieces by Pope Benedict on the Year for Priests. First of all, his Letter Proclaiming the Year of Priests on the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, St John Vianney.

In this letter, the Holy Father thanks God for good priests, touchingly recalls the example of the priest alongside whom he ministered as a young priest, and frankly acknowledges those "situations which can never be sufficiently deplored" where priests have given scandal. After this, he points to the Curé of Ars as the point of reference for us all, quoting some of the purple passages from the writings of the saintly priest. He admits that they "might seem excessive" but that they "they reveal the high esteem in which he held the sacrament of the priesthood".

Then yesterday at second Vespers for the feast of the Sacred Heart, the Holy Father also spoke of the priesthood. Rorate Caeli has translated one significant passage:
How to forget, regarding this, that nothing makes the Church, Body of Christ, suffer so much as the sins of her shepherds, above all of those who turn into "robbers of sheep" (John 10, 1), either because they misguide them with their private doctrines, or because suffocate them within snares of sin and of death? Even for us, dear priests, the call to conversion and to recourse to Divine Mercy holds true, and we ought also to present with humility to the Heart of Jesus the request that He preserves us from the terrible risk of harming those whom we are bound to save.
Full text of homily (Italian).

Friday, 19 June 2009

Catholic Church discriminates against witches

A story doing he rounds over the last day or so is the complaint by a coven of witches against the Church for persecuting them by not allowing them to use a Catholic Church Hall for their annual "Witches Ball". (See: Witches' coven claims religious persecution after church hall ban)

Sandra Davis, the "high priestess" of Crystal Cauldron group in Stockport, said:
"I thought we had made progress, that we could accept other people's religious paths."
Well I suppose this brings up a thorny question about the whole religious dialogue business. If you look up the website of The Crystal Cauldron, much of what they say is pretty tame - they are fairly liberal witches in a way. They want to harm nobody, refrain from speaking ill of others, release the inner energy, be kind to all creatures and live in harmony with nature. (They even have a children's group called "Little Crystals".) They do believe in the "polarity of the deity", in reincarnation, and in the rhythm of life forces; but then so do many buddhists and hindus.

Nevertheless, there is an instinctive and quite proper reaction among Christians against any form of witchcraft. Although many covens deny any relationship with satanism, the use of magic, spells or any other spiritual forces invites the activity of Satan since the supposed "life forces" used in witchcraft do not exist.

The Diocese of Shrewsbury sensibly stepped in to deny the use of the Church Hall to the Crystal Cauldron but this may be just a first, rather extreme, "test case". the Equality laws make it difficult for Churches who let their halls out to the public to specify that groups hiring must be "compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic Church," as Fr Joyce insisted. It is possible (at the moment) to restrict lettings only to Church or related groups rather than making a Church hall available for let to the general public. That constraint in itself shows how equality laws restricting the Church's activity by interdicting a perfectly reasonable source of income that would normally contribute to the common good for ordinary local groups.

Fr Fawsett's funeral

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Fr Fawssett who had just died. Today, his funeral was celebrated in the chapel of the John Fisher School in Purley where he celebrated Mass daily for so many years. It was in that chapel that my own vocation was nurtured and I always love to go back there. Today it was packed, with a good number of old boys on the sanctuary, including Bishop Howard Tripp who celebrated the Mass.

Afterwards, the school put on a reception in the Hall where the "Honours" boards have the customary sporting records, even a few international honours. One board that is not in every school is the list of old boys of the school who have been ordained priest. One young man who is entering the seminary this autumn told me that Fr Fawssett asked him what he was doing and lit up when he heard that he was entering the seminary.

It was a fitting way to celebrate the beginning of the "Year of the Priest" which was mentioned several times during the Mass in fitting recognition of Fr Fawssett's priestly fidelity.

The Headmaster, Mark Scully, kindly sent me the above photo of the reception of the body yesterday evening. He felt, and rightly, I'm sure, that Fr Fawssett would have liked to know that his mortal remains were carried into his beloved chapel past a guard of honour of boys and staff from the school.

Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Launch of "A Pure Heart Create for Me"

"A Pure Heart Create for Me", published by Family Publications is a collection of articles, mainly based on lectures given last year at St Patrick's Soho Square to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. Authors include Fr Stephen Langridge (Southwark Vocations), Fr Richard Aladics (Friends with Christ), and Nicole Parker of the Central London Fertility Care Centre and myself (on Humanae Vitae as a challenge to the culture).

Tonight saw the launch of the book at St Patrick's. Fr Anthony Doe spoke of how the eternal Word's divesting himself of glory in the incarnation and the crucifixion, was the model for human love and its fruitfulness. Fr Philip Egan spoke of the authority of the encyclical in a tightly argued talk that concluded that the teaching was proclaimed infallibly by the ordinary magisterium. (Fr Philip Egan's has recently written a book called "Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer." (See Amazon link below.)

It was a bit of an English College reunion. I overlapped at the College at least for some time not only with Frs Doe and Egan, but also with other priests there: Fr Paschal Ryan, Fr Stephen Langridge, Mgr Keith Barltrop and Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, the parish priest. There were many other good friends there, including Joanna Bogle. A star guest was Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, whom I first met many years ago in Rome when he was working on his doctorate which resulted in the readable and accessible work of scholarship "What God has Joined. The Sacramentality of Marriage." The book is especially useful in providing an alternative to several of the positions adopted by Schillebeeckx. Bishop Elliott was on fine form and it was great to hear of some of the initiatives he has been involved with in Melbourne.

St Bede's Corpus Christi Procession 28 June

The parish of St Bede's, Clapham Park, will be holding their Blessed Sacrament on Sunday 28 June, beginning at 3pm. If you are in the area, I do recommend that you go along. The procession is sure to be a reverent and well-conducted act of faith in the Blessed Sacrament.

Rose Korzeniewski RIP

Please say a prayer for Rose Korzeniewski, the mother of Diane at Te Deum Laudamus, who died yesterday evening, fortified by the rites of Holy Mother Church.

Requiescat in pace.

(Thanks to Mary B, a correspondent with Diane, for the graphic.)

Free Chen Guangcheng!

In December 2006, I wrote about Chen Guangcheng when the Jubilee Campaign organised postcards to be sent to the Chinese Ambassador. He had been imprisoned on 24 August 2006 after exposing and speaking out against the policy of forced abortions and sterilisations in the Shandong Province. Sadly he is still in prison. A petition has been organised to ask the Prime Minister to put pressure on the Chinese authorities to free Chen Guangcheng.

The petition reads:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to take whatever action he can to put pressure on the Chinese authorities to secure the release of Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese prisoner of conscience who, on 20th May 2009 has served 1000 days in prison since being sentanced for highligting abuses of the one-child policy of the Chinese authorities, including forced abortions and sterilisations
Further information from petition creator:
Chen Guangcheng is a blind lawyer, currently imprisoned in China for "damaging public property and gathering people to block traffic". However the real reason is more likely to be to prevent him from carrying out his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, including his efforts to bring local officials to justice for conducting a campaign of forced abortions and sterilisations, possibly affecting thousands of women.

Some reports say that Chen Guangcheng is in extremely poor health, is allowed very little food and drink, has been beaten, and been denied medical treatment as well as stopped from having family members and friends visit.
Sign the petition here. (Deadline 14 October 2009. You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

You can read more about Chen Guancheng at the Friends of Chen website.

Via Twitter

A few days ago, I googled something along the lines of "what use is twitter" and found, as I thought, that it is one of those things that seem a bit pointless but have unexpected power - rather like email, really, as I remember explaining to a senior ecclesiastic some years ago. So I made up my mind to get myself on Twitter as soon as I had a spare moment.

Then the last night, I was looking through my site meter "incoming"; the enhanced version has a useful page of referring web pages ranked by visits and every so often have a quick glance over the first three pages. It takes very little time and often brings up interesting links. For the first time, there was a Twitter link on the first page: Gillibrand's, in fact (he of the blog Catholic Church Conservation which some days can be labelled almost in its entirety as "laugh or cry"). It was there that I found the now famous "doner kebab" eucharist. Gillibrand had put up a tweet about my post with "And finally... Linz". On his Twitter page, I also found a good article about blogging by Damian Thompson in today's Telegraph: NightJack: When the blogging biter's bit.

Time is not something I have in any great spare supply so if Twitter is to be useful, it will have to be a way of short-cutting things that I already do, and finding good stuff faster and more efficiently. I think it may be worth a try: it seems to be having quite an effect in Iran at the moment ...


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

"Test of Faith" film

There is an interesting new film shortly to be released by the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion based at St Edmund's College at Cambridge. Called Test of Faith, the film is introduced by the makers as follows:
The relationship between science and faith is often represented as a battleground. The claim is that science has pushed God into the margins. But is the truth more complex? Talking to leading scientist-believers, we probe the issues at the heart of this debate. Has science really murdered God? Or is the God question being redefined in new ways by science? Does the possibility of a Creator remain an ineradicable challenge?
With Alistair McGrath, Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne among others, it should be well worth watching. You can see a trailer at the Test of Faith website.

"Is it possible to live this way?" volume 2

The UK Launch of the book "Is it possible to live this way? An Unusual Approach to Christian Existence. Vol. 2 Hope" by Luigi Giussani will be held on Thursday 2 July at 7.30 pm at Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speakers will be Fr. Julian Carron - President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and Mgr. Mark O’Toole - Rector of the Seminary of the Diocese of Westminster. See also the Communion and Liberation website.

Description of the book by CL:
The book is a compilation of Luigi Giussani’s conversations with people following the path of consecrated life in the Catholic Church . As in all his works, Giussani encourages individuals to be serious about their own existence and faithful to their experience. The conversations reported here are fascinating and insightful, providing support for a way of life that today is frequently questioned, rejected, or censured.The text reflects on the “evangelical counsels” of poverty, chastity and obedience, proposing an unusual yet reasonable approach to living as a Christian, which is equally pertinent to all persons who seek to encounter Christ in their lives.

Life and Liberty Petition

Christian Concern for our Nation have organised a petition to the Prime Minister regarding the Coroners and Justice Bill:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abandon the Government's opposition to the free speech protection clause in the Coroners and Justice Bill.

Preserving the sanctity of life and freedom of speech are vitally important to the preservation of liberty and good governance under the rule of law in the United Kingdom. These are under immediate threat by measures in the Coroners and Justice Bill. We the undersigned, therefore, petition HM the Queen, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House of Lords to:

1. Protect the value of human life in the UK by opposing proposed amendments authorizing state-sanctioned assisted suicide; and

2. Protect freedom of speech by abandoning its opposition to the free speech protection clause currently within the sexual orientation hatred offence which preserves the right to, discuss, criticise and urge to refrain from certain forms of sexual conduct or practices.
Sign the petition here.

Congratulations to Fr Thomas Regan

Fr Thomas Regan OSB of Belmont Abbey, and parish priest of Our Ladye & St.Michael's, Abergavenny, celebrated his 30th anniversary of priestly ordination the other day with High Mass in the Parish Church. Deacon was Dom Antony Tumulty OSB, and Subdeacon was Rev Andreas Erhardt (a permanent deacon).

The chasuble Fr Regan is wearing is a rather special one from the parish's medieval collection which I mentioned once before. It was donated by Henry VII, having been embroidered in 1498 by Robynett his court embroiderer. It was already 150 years old when worn by the Abergavenny martyrs St David Lewis (parish priest there for 31 years) and St Philip Evans (curate for 5 years) until his martyrdom in 1679. Here is a close-up:

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

More Blessed Sacrament Processions




Papa Stronsay

New Bedford MA

St Thomas Aquinas, Zanesville



And finally ...

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