Sunday, 31 October 2010

Liturgical abuse shocker

Sorry for the title and picture. In fact, it is not a picture of liturgical abuse in the Catholic Church (though it does look remarkably similar to some clips of the same on YouTube.) It depicts druids celebrating something at Stonehenge. I post this after reading Damian Thompson's good post about the
Utterly fawning coverage from the BBC of the pagan festival of Halloween or “Samhain”, including an interview with a chief pagan in a sheepskin. “We’ll be continuing with our coverage throughout the day, watching the celebration of the most important festival of the pagan year,” we’re promised.
Here is a bland BBC history note on the Roman campaign against the Druids:
The druids were the priest-scholars of ancient Britain, but 'druid' also tended to be a 'catch all' name used by the Romans for those who resisted their rule. In order to suppress the druids in the far west of Britain, Roman governor Gaius Suetonius Paulinus subdued the island of Mona (Anglesey), but he was forced to cut short the campaign to put down the revolt of the Iceni under Boudicca in south east Britain.
To be fair, further down the timeline, the BBC does acknowledge that the druids were "probably animists who practised human sacrifice." Britain Express does at least give the Romans some credit:
And to give the Romans their due, they seem to have been genuinely horrified by what they considered the grisly and uncivilized practices of the Druids.
Recent evidence tends to confirm the allegations of Julius Caesar and Pliny the Elder that the Druids practised human sacrifice and cannibalism - yes, so terribly uncivilised.

Last day of a wonderful witness to life

Congratulations to everyone who has been a part of the 40 Days for Life campaign in London by prayer, fasting and action. Today is Day 40 but there will be another initiative next Lent. Lives have been saved directly through the prayerful witness of those who have taken part, and many young pro-lifers have been encouraged by participating in this initiative.

40 Days for Life received an encouraging letter from Pope Benedict's office, conveying the Holy Father's prayers

During the week I was in Rome, they arranged the screening of "Blood Money", an inspirational documentary which included personal testimonies of women who have had abortions and abortion clinic staff. The brings home the reality of abortion but also ends on a note of hope. They are screening the DVD "Being Human" at St Mary Moorfield's Parish Hall tomorrow, 1 November at 7pm.

I found this picture at Robert Colquhoun's excellent blog Love Undefiled:

Any problems with accessing this blog?

A reader (or in fact prospective reader in the circumstances) has complained that her computer has crashed after trying to read this blog. If anyone else has had problems and solved them, please let me know in the combox if there is a particular element in the sidebar or something that is causing the problem.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Pope and Dan Cooper

Rome 001

The General Audience on Wednesday in St Peter's Square always has a carnival atmosphere. Every week, tens of thousands of people from all over the world wait in sunshine or rain to see the Holy Father, hear his address and receive his blessing. If you can't go for the whole thing, you can see and hear it from outside the railings on the edge of the Piazza, or go through security beyond the colonnade and watch. You may well be allowed to go into any empty section. When I am in Rome, I never miss it.

Apart from the day when I said Mass for Fr Boyle's group of altar servers, I went early into St Peter's to say Mass. Sir Dan of the Nesbitry was there each morning to serve my Mass - he remembered pretty well everything from his boyhood days and was happy with the gravitas. Here he is in the Sacristy of St Peter's:

Rome 021

At the tomb of St Peter, we knelt down to say the prayers to gain the pilgrimage indulgence and then recited the school hymn to St John Fisher.

High Mass at Maynooth

LMSI AGM Mass, Maynooth (21)

Last Saturday, the Latin Mass Society of Ireland held its AGM at Maynooth, home to St Patrick's College for training priests. Solemn High Mass was celebrated in the beautiful chapel. There are more photographs at this flickr set.

LMSI AGM Mass, Maynooth (32)

Last month, I mentioned the seminar for priests in Donegal, organised by the LMSI to teach priests how to celebrate Mass according to the usus antiquior. I understand that this was a great success.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Ibam forte via sacra

Well, not quite. The bus I took from the Porta Cavalleggeri stopped at Ara Caeli so I couldn't resist taking a walk up the Capitoline Hill and looking at the remains there and the view over the Forum. It was not too far to walk down then to make a visit to Santa Maria in Cosmedin and San Giorgio in Velabro, the titular Church of the Blessed John Henry Newman. At Fiumicino Airport I found an internet terminal which I though I would try out. It is useless. You have to spend your first couple of minutes showing your passport to the webcam to satisy Italian security laws and then find that the "enter" key doesn't work. Hence this post will be one paragraph :-) Back to the Cento Storico, it was convenient to pop into the Church of the Twelve Apostles where I made a visit which is traditional for students of the Gregorian University - to say a little prayer of thanksgiving at the monument of Clement XIV. (To my Jesuit friends: only joking.) Also got to see the little Church where the body of Saint Gaspar of Bufalo is venerated. A plaque says that Pope John XXIII prayed to him for the success of the second Vatican Council. I'm wondering whether his prayer was answered. Nice photos later...

Rome update

On Wednesday I celebrated Mass for the group of altar servers that Fr Stephen Boyle has brought out to Rome. We were at the Salesian Church of the Sacred Heart near Termini Station. St John Bosco himself raised the funds to build this magnificent Church at the request of Pope Leo XIII.

Yesterday I was given the altar of St Michael the Archangel for Mass at St Peters, and this morning I was pleased to be able to use the altar of St Pius X. Things have changed a lot since Summorum Pontificum there are now plenty of young priests around the Basilica first thing in the morning celebrating according to the usus antiquior. I like to go around a little before saying Mass and attend the consecration of various other Masses before saying my own.

Unfortunately, the charger socket on my laptop has broken and so I am using one of the house computers and can't post any pictures at the moment. There will be a few when I get back, but I must also put up some selections from previous trips on Flickr.

I've been following various blogs from my mobile - very interested in that article by James MacMillan and will have a closer look at it over the weekend. I also had some interesting conversations with priests and bishops attending the Synod for the Middle East so will share some of that too.

Please say a prayer that the flight leaves on time this afternoon. I'm off now to visit some more Churches and pay another visit to Barbiconi...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Lots of friends in Rome for the week

Yesterday morning I celebrated Mass at 7.30am in St Peter's. I got the lovely altar with the icon of Our Lady Mother of the Church. Above is a picture of the altar that I took earlier this year. Dan Cooper served the Mass and it was very good to meet Mr Scully, the Headmaster of the John Fisher School who is in Rome with his wife to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Another couple also came to the Mass after their son told them about it from reading this blog!

Where I am staying, there are several Bishops who have been taking part in the special Synod of the Church of the middle East. They have been very interested to hear about the Papal Visit to the UK and particularly the attitude of the media. They way in which things are reported is of great importance to them in the sensitive situation of the Church in the middle East.

As it is half term, I have met several other friends who are out on pilgrimage. Frs Nicholas Schofield and Mark Vickers have parish groups. I met them both separately and by chance on the Borgo Pio yesterday. Outside St Peter's Square, I met Fr Tom Regan OSB, the parish priest of Abergavenny. Today I will be saying Mass for the group of altar servers that Fr Stephen Boyle has brought to Rome.

Having boasted to people about the temperature here, I was paid back twice yesterday by being caught in heavy Roman downpours. Today looks much brighter so I will be taking my camera round with me. I'm off up to the Centro Storico now to visit some of my favourite Churches. I expect I will find time to call into one or two favourite shops as well.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Jon Snow to give CAFOD lecture

I have to cateh a plan in a minute so this is just a quickie but I think that James Preece's post about the CAFOD lecture to be given by Jon Snow deserves publicity. What the heck is going on here?

Off to sunny Rome


I'm taking the 2.15pm flight from T5 at Heathrow this afternoon to Rome where I will be spending a few days of riposo. I'll be celebrating Mass (EF) at St Peter's at about 7.30am on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday so if you want to join me, I'll be at the sacristy door at about 7.20am. On Wednesday, I'll be saying Mass (OF) at the Salesian Church near Termini Station at 1pm for Fr Stephen Boyle's pilgrimage of altar servers.

On my "to-do" list is a shopping trip to Barbiconi and Gammarelli to get various bits of clerical gaaaaarb for myself and Fr Briggs.

I will remember you all at the tomb of St Peter and at Mass in the Patriarchal Basilica.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Retronaut images

A little fun for Saturday. A correspondent kindly sent me a link to these clever Anachronistic Internet Ads.

Have a look at Once upon a time in Afghanistan which is fascinating. There is also a clip showing Star Wars in the Silent Age. The "What year is this?" posts are fascinating (look in the sidebar.)

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dead Sea scrolls to go online

Credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced that the Dead Sea scrolls are to be put online. Some high resolution images are already available but this new project, "The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library" aims to make all of the texts available free of charge through a partnership with Google. They will be on a searchable database and there will be meta-data including transcriptions, translations and bibliography. The quality of the images is such that some new letters and words could be revealed by using infra-red light and wavelengths beyond. The project is expected to be completed within five years.

The Director of the IAA, Pnina Shor said that once the documents are online, there would be no need to expose the scrolls physically; they can be preserved in the dark, climate controlled storeroom where they are kept when not on display.

The IAA has also provided a download of high resolution images (11.1 Mb zip file). Credit: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Please please please please pleeeeeeeze tell me that you're going to

The Catholic Herald reports on Anglicans urged not to accept Pope’s offer:
The Catholic group in the Church of England’s General Synod has called for traditionalists to stay, claiming that they have the numbers to ensure provisions for objectors to women bishops.
There will, I'm sure, be various serious and worthy discussions of the proposal but I'm afraid I found Fr Z's take on it hilarious: “Oh won’t you staaaaay… just a little bit longeeeerrr…”

Archbishop Ranjith to get red hat

Just a quick post after checking the Bollettino this morning (of course, the entire Catholic world has tweeted it within seconds). The names of the new Cardinals have been announced for the Consistory to be held on 20 November. There are some good people in the list - Archbishop Raymond Burke, and Archbishop Mauro Piacenza to name just two.

Just this morning, I was signing school Catholicity forms after Mass. One of the parents who came was Sri Lankan and I enjoyed telling him that there were rumours that Archbishop Ranjith might be appointed a Cardinal and that the announcement might be made today. He was very proud of his Archbishop and delighted to think that he might be a Cardinal.

Glory, praise and thanks be to God Archbishop Ranjith is indeed on the list. (Cue: Alleluia chorus.) It is a great blessing for the Church that such a humble, devout, kindly yet courageous prelate should be raised to the purple. If anyone deserves such a position in Holy Mother Church it is him. God bless Cardinal-elect Ranjith and congratulations to the Church in Sri Lanka - though I have to say that we all hope that he will return to Rome either as the head of a dicastery or (whispering quietly) an even higher office.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Foolish litigation

Fr Michael Clifton, long time pastor of the faithful, former archivist of Southwark, learned historian, kindly teacher of schoolboys (including me, nearly 40 years ago) cricket coach, model railway enthusiast, and warm friend and mentor of younger clergy now feels that he must close his blog because he has been threatened with legal action by Monsignor Basil Loftus who writes a weekly column for the Catholic Times.

Although the proposed litigation is unlikely to be taken seriously by courts in Britain (see my post Singh v Singh and the unlikelihood of a heresy trial in the British courts) I can understand Fr Clilfton's reluctance to be subjected to all the strain and anxiety that even the threat of such a process might engender but I am saddened to think that we can no longer benefit from his honest, good humoured comments.

Fr Ray Blake has also been threatened with legal action. He comments:
This is an important justice issue of freedom of speech that affects a fundamental right to debate in the Church, it should not be ignored!
Quite so!

In a recent article for the Catholic Times, Mgr Loftus speculated on the nature of Christ's risen body. He quoted St Paul's talk of a "spiritual body" after the resurrection and then quite wrongly drew the conclusion that Christ "was not physically present when he appeared to the disciples after the resurrection." Even a relatively inexperienced apologist would be able to refute that on the basis of the texts of the gospels:
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side (Jn 20.27)
and even more plainly:
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. (Lk 24.39)
The idea that Christ's risen body was not physical was refuted as long ago as the second century by St Irenaeus. (Adversus Haereses 5.7.1)

The second letter of Cyril to Nestorius was declared by the Council of Ephesus to be in agreement with the Council of Nicea. It stated:
So too, when his flesh was raised to life, we refer to this again as his resurrection, not as though he had fallen into corruption--God forbid--but because his body had been raised again.
The 4th Lateran Council (1215) states succinctly in its profession of faith:
He descended in the soul, rose in the flesh, and ascended in both.
St Thomas Aquinas deals skilfully with various questions related to Christ's risen body in the Summa Theologica, part 3, question 54. In the first article of the question, the Angelic Doctor replies specifically to the objection which Monsignor Loftus raises (as though it were new) about Christ's body entering through doors that were closed.

It would be tedious and unnecessary to detail all of the various ways in which Monsignor Loftus has contradicted Pope Benedict's project of the hermeneutic of continuity in his analysis of the second Vatican Council. Suffice it to say that his weekly articles for the Catholic Times are considered by many good Catholics a negative element in that otherwise worthy newspaper which features, for example, an excellent weekly article by my good friend Fr Francis Marsden.

A while back, during a controversy about traditional liturgy in my parish, Monsignor Loftus wrote to The Tablet (quae delenda est) to encourage my parishioners not to contribute financially to my parish. I suppose I would have had some ground to sue him in the civil or ecclesiastical courts for this, but I felt that it was more sensible simply to offer a reasoned refutation of the claims made in his letter and then carry on with my life.

Social interaction on the internet has its pitfalls of course, and we have all had some comments that we might consider offensive. The internet offers us the opportunity to reply according to the scholastic maxim "quod gratis asseritur gratis negatur". Litigation might be necessary in some extreme circumstances but it seems to me a foolish and, frankly, uncouth path to take in the face of the ordinary business of theological discussion.

Some other links
St Mary Magdalen's Brighton: Fr Michael Clifton's last post?
That the Bones you have crushed may thrill: Litigious Priests
Libera me: Contemptible . . . what else can you call it?
Bara Brith: Very Sorry
The Muniment Room: Support Fr Mildew
Mulier Fortis: Sad ...
Porta Caeli: From Lofty heights
Stella Maris: Fr Clifton's blog closes
Australia Incognita: The word we are not allowed to use: heresy

"Cardinal Banana" - inadvertent damnatio memoriae?


The above arch can be found in the Roman Forum. It celebrates the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus and his sons Caracalla and Geta - at least it did at one time. Caracalla arranged for the name of Geta to be struck from all monuments and for his statues to be destroyed. This was known in ancient Rome as the damnatio memoriae. So the inscription the tourist sees appears as below:

Arch Sept inscription

The Rome Reborn website has a full transcription of the inscription and a translation which saves me from posting it all here. The fourth line probably read P(ublio) SEPTIMIO L(ucii) F(ilio) GETAE NOB(ilissimo) CAES(ari). This was scratched out and the words OPTIMIS FORTISSIMISQUE PRINCIPIBUS were substituted.

I well remember a sunny afternoon in Rome with Fr Reginald Foster gesturing to the arch and declaiming all this in ciceronian Latin. The reason I mention it now is because of an amusing mistake that the ever vigilant patrician of the Vaticanisti, Sandro Magister has spotted in the proceedings of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The Most Rev Thomas Meram, the Chaldean Archbishop of Urmia, Bishop of Salmas Shahpour of the Chaldeans referred to a book written in 1979 by the "The late Papal Nuncio in Iran, Bugnini" Unfortunately, "Bugnini" has been rendered in various languages (including English and Italian) on the official Vatican website as "Banana".

Sandro Magister comments:
È come se Bugnini si sia procurato una tale “damnatio memoriae” da rendere impronunciabile persino il suo nome.

It is as if Bugnini has procured such a "damnatio memoriae" as to render even his name unpronounceable.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Pope Benedict's fatherly concern for seminarians

After my teaching session at Wonersh today, I checked my Google Android phone for the Vatican Bollettino and was delighted to read the Holy Father's Letter to Seminarians. I thought that both staff and students would be keen to see this asap so I wrote a "tweet" in felt pen on the "Breaking News" noticeboard in the Ambulacrum (the main throroughfare on the ground floor.)

It is a beautiful and heartfelt letter addressed to men studying for the priesthood. There is much there for the students to ponder and for others to rejoice in. I felt that it had the characteristic of a father-figure speaking to younger men who might be discouraged or nervous at times because of the assault that some sections of the media have relentlessly engaged in over recent years against the priesthood.

The beginning of the letter is striking since Pope Benedict recalls his own military service for which he was drafted and the Lieutenant's contemptuous dismissal of his vocation to the priesthood, saying that in the "new" (i.e. Nazi) Germany, priests would no longer be needed. He comments:
I knew that this "new Germany" was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever.
The letter is imbued with a genuinely priestly spirit, speaking of the role of the priest in celebrating the Eucharist, the importance of the sacrament of penance, and the part that popular piety has to play in the life of the people of God.

As a teacher of theology, I smiled at his fatherly encouragement of the seminarians in their theological studies. My own role is to teach dogmatic theology. At Wonersh I do the course on Sacramental Theology, and at Parkminster I am working through all the various tracts of dogma. Pope Benedict said:
What we call dogmatic theology is the understanding of the individual contents of the faith in their unity, indeed, in their ultimate simplicity: each single element is, in the end, only an unfolding of our faith in the one God who has revealed himself to us and continues to do so.
I know that my colleagues who teach Canon Law will be delighted to read the Holy Father's encouragement to seminarians in their subject:
But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love.
Near the end of the letter, Pope Benedict says:
Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish.
I know that seminarians around the world will be encouraged by the Holy Father's prayerful concern for them, and we all pray that the Lord will wish Him to exercise his ministry ad multos annos.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

US Bishops prepare materials for worldwide vigil for human life requested by Holy Father

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that on Saturday 27 November, the Holy Father will celebrate a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” at St Peter’s Basilica, coinciding with first vespers of the First Sunday of Advent. The Holy Father has also requested that:
all Diocesan Bishops (and their equivalent) of every particular church preside in analogous celebrations involving the faithful in their respective parishes, religious communities, associations and movements.
Cardinal DiNardo, the chairman of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) Pro-Life Committee said that the request from the Holy Father was unprecedented and encouraged all Americans to participate in the event whether at home or travelling (the weekend is part of the US Thanksgiving holiday.)

Parish Priests in other countries may appreciate a reminder at this stage to prepare something for the evening of 27 November in order to participate in this worldwide vigil requested by the Holy Father.

The purpose of the vigil is to 'thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,' and to 'invoke the Lord's protection over every human being called into existence.'

(See: Zenit report)

The website of the USCCB has announced:
An outline for the Vigil was provided from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Family. Given the importance of the Holy Father’s request, the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship and the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities have collaborated in developing Vigil prayer aids for dioceses and parishes.
They have produced four options for parishes to use:
Full Option One: Evening Prayer, Rosary and Benediction
Full Option Two: Marian Procession, Rosary, Evening Prayer and Benediction
Simplified Option One: Evening Prayer and Benediction (no Rosary)
Simplified Option Two: Marian Procession, Rosary and Benediction (no Evening Prayer)
These are provided on the website in three formats:
Microsoft Word Formatted (formatted with images)
Microsoft Publisher (formatted with images and easily modified)
Microsoft Word Unformatted (unformatted text without images)

See the dedicated page at the USCCB website.

I took the above photo at the Casa Santa Maria, the American house of studies for graduate priests in Rome. The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe dates back to the 16th century.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Bad vestment of the day

Many thanks to regular commenter Zephyrinus (who was recently basking in reflected glory on the feast of St Callixtus) for reminding me to take a look at Christopher Johnson's Bad Vestments blog. As it is the weekend, you may have a little idle time to go back through some of the archives. The aims and objectives of the blog are described succinctly:
This site is dedicated to subjecting particularly awful Christian liturgical vestments to the ridicule they so richly deserve. Contributions are welcome and can be e-mailed to websterglobe at juno dot com.
The comments boxes are quite fun. The above creation is a cope worn by  a minister of religion: there was some discussion over whether he is Episcopalian or Lutheran. Beady-eyed readers spotted that the vestment is set off appropriately by the minister's grey trousers and brown shoes. Others related it to the Episcopalian "Eucharistic Prayer C" which includes the deeply moving lines:
At your command all things came to be:
the vast expanse of interstellar space,
galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,
and this fragile earth, our island home.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Bishop and parish confirm plans to join ordinariate

The Anglican Bishop of Fulham, John Broadhurst, has announced that he will resign before the end of the year to join the Ordinariate provided for by the Holy Father's Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. (H/T Catholic Herald)

At the Forward in Faith website, you can listen to Bishop Broadhurst's speech which he gave as the keynote address at their National Assembly. He said that he had intended to continue in his post until he was 70, but that he will now resign in order to smooth the way for the appointment of his successor. He then said that he intended to join the Ordinariate as soon as it is established. This announcement was met with warm applause. The Bishop quipped that the applause was from those who are not going to join the ordinariate and would be pleased to see the back of him. Obviously it was not - he has stepped forward as the first senior figure to commit himself to the Ordinariate and there are likely to be many who will follow his leadership.

Meanwhile, the parish of St Peter in Folkestone has announced at its website the following lay initiative:
At its meeting on September 28th, the PCC of Folkestone St Peter unanimously requested the Churchwardens to approach The Archbishop of Canterbury, our Diocesan Bishop, in order to consult about the wish of the PCC and many of the congregation to join the English Ordinariate of the Catholic Church when it is erected. We are anxious that this should be made as easy as possible, not only for us, but for the diocesan family of Canterbury that we shall regretfully be leaving behind.
It is not irrelevant to this announcement that the Catholic Parish Priest of Our Lady Help of Christians in Folkestone, Fr Roger Nesbitt, has worked tirelessly over many years to befriend and welcome Anglican clergy, several of whom have come into full communion with the Catholic Church with his discreet and gentle guidance whenever it has been needed.

The Catholic establishment's "party line" on the Ordinariate is that there will only be a few interested, that it will not appeal to many Anglicans, that it is not really needed, that it was basically one of Pope Benedict's well-intentioned mistakes. Well, along with many other Anglican parishes, Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough are considered likely to join Bishop Broadhurst. It seems that the response of the establishment of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to Anglicanorum Coetibus is going to have to struggle to keep things lukewarm given the way that they are now hotting up.

It is great news to hear that the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus are being taken up and I would ask you to keep in your prayers all those Anglicans who are currently undecided, as well as those who have bravely led the way.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Teenage Pregnancy Advisory Service to go in quango cuts

A leaked document has revealed that the Coalition Government is to scrap 117 Public Bodies, possibly merge 129 others to reduce them to 57, keep 94 under review, and retain 350. The Daily Telegraph has the full list.

Among the bodies to the axed are: the Air Quality Expert Group (provides advice on complying with the British "Air Quality Strategy" and the EU Directive on ambient air quality assessment and management, or "Air Quality Framework Directive"); and the Darwin Advisory Committee. This helps poor countries to meet their objectives under one or more of the three major biodiversity Conventions. The mysteriously named "Committee on the Safety of Devices" is to go, as is the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Board - that really sounds like getting rid of waste.

Of more serious interest is the proposed scrapping of: the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Independent Advisory Group of Sexual Health and HIV, and, perhaps best of all, the appalling Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy. For the axing of the latter, John Smeaton suggests "three quiet cheers". After all, as he wisely points out, we should never be complacent on pro-life matters and public policy. Nevertheless, I'm sure we will all be glad to see the back of the TPIAG. If you are not sure why this matters, see, for example, my post All schools, including faith schools.

Unfortunately, one of the bodies that is to be retained is the BBC.

Archbishop Nienstedt defends and supports marriage and the family

Archbishop John Nienstedt and the other bishops in Minnesota have sent out over 300,000 copies of a DVD giving the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage and the family. The intention is that every Catholic in the diocese should receive a copy of the DVD "Preserving Marriage in Minnesota."

Mirroring the opposition to the Holy Father on the occasion of his visit to the UK, this teaching initiative has been opposed by secularists, gays and liberal Catholics. They even got whole dozens of people out to protest.

The Catholic Online article reporting the release of the DVD makes the pertinent observation:
Augustine once compared a Bishop who lacked courage to preach the Gospel and defend the faith to "a scarecrow standing in a vineyard." Archbishop John Nienstedt is a Bishop who understands his vocation as a teacher and demonstrates Episcopal spine in an age which desperately needs to witness it.
The secular coverage of the DVD has billed it as "anti-gay" rather than recognising its primary intent of supporting family life. The Catholic Online article has a transcript of an interview that Archbishop Nienstedt gave to Minnesota Public Radio in which he stands up well before hostile questioning.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

#anathemasiturday "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine"

I was surprised to hear the other day that the hymn "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine" is sung in some Catholic Churches. It is apparently popular among devotees of a more charismatic kind of worship. Although at a push, the hymn could be interpreted in a Catholic sense, it is certainly not intended to be so understood. "Blessed assurance" is a watchword among evangelical protestants, referring to the certainty of predestination and certainty of the gift of perseverance for those who are among the elect.

As Catholics we do believe in predestination, in the sense that God has prepared eternal bliss for those whom he foresees, in his infinite wisdom, will merit eternal life. Here on earth, we are not certain of our "election" or of final perseverance. Such supposed certainty is a sin of presumption. We pray with confidence to our heavenly Father, knowing his mercy but not taking it for granted.

Hence, the Council of Trent condemned the following errors:
If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent. Canons on Justification. canon 15.)

If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema. (canon 16.)
We do not have a "blessed assurance" but a blessed hope.

Lectures for free download

Every week I have an hour's journey round to Wonersh on Sunday night and an hour back on Monday. Quite often I have a journey of a similar length to Parkminster. Some time ago I realised that this time could be well used in listening to good talks that have been recorded. For a while, I had one of those radio transmitter mp3 thingies which don't work very well because an FM frequency that is free at Blackfen becomes busy at some stage along the M25. So I recently got Halfords to fit me a new but reasonably cheap car radio which has a phono socket and a USB socket, enabling me to plug in any mp3 player direct to the sound system. No more Radio 4 - bliss! It also has lots of very mod looking flashing and whirly blue lights and something called "Zap" (IIRC) which might even give me some street cred. Nice to hear Hamish Fraser and Michael Davies coming through that kit :-)

For some time, I have been downloading lectures from Keep the Faith. Their audio downloads are reasonably priced at $1.50 (and they kindly make them free for priests.) Fr Ray Blake has just given a heads-up to the Institute of Catholic Culture which has a large selection of lectures for free download (you can also donate some money to help them.) I'll be collecting some of those.

Quarant' Ore at Blackfen 21-23 October

One of my responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Southwark is to be the Dean of Bexley (Vicarius Foraneus). Whenever I think of this title, I wonder whether I should get a horse and ride around the Deanery in a frock coat or something. We have recently completed a Year of Mission for the Deanery during which we tried, with some measure of success, to increase communication and co-operation between the different parishes for events of a spiritual, charitable or social nature. One of the contributions of Blackfen was to hold the Forty Hours devotion for the first time in living memory. It was such a success that we have decided to make it a yearly fixture.

So from Thursday 21 to Saturday 23 October, the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen will be holding the Quarant' Ore devotion of forty hours uninterrupted exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The devotion will begin with the sung Mass of Exposition (usus antiquior) at 8pm on the Thursday. There will be Mass in English, in the Novus Ordo on Friday at 10am, and then an usus antiquior sung Mass for Peace at 8pm. The closing Mass and procession will be on the Saturday at 10.30am in the usus antiquior.

Everybody is, of course, welcome. If you are able to commit to being here for an hour, please leave a note in the comments box or email me, especially if you are able to be there for one of the night hours. The Knights of St Columba and the Youth Group are covering much of the two nights but it is always good to have as many people as possible during the wee small hours.

If you have never had the Forty Hours in your parish, I really do recommend it. To have Our Lord exposed in the monstrance for this extended period is a powerful blessing for the parish. The Good Lord radiates his power and mercy beyond the confines of the Church, and those who are present, especially if they have made a sacrifice to be there, receive graces that they do not necessarily expect. It was telling that many people said to me last year that they felt a sense of sadness at the closing Mass when Our Lord was returned to the tabernacle.

If you want to come and join us at any time of your convenience, you will be very welcome. Blackfen is a hospitable parish and there is always tea and coffee in the Hall, good company and conversation when you take a break from watching, and probably some breakfast in the morning.

Here are some posts relating to last year's Quarant' Ore:

Quarant' Ore and the Pope of Christian Unity
Quarant' Ore second night
Quarant' Ore and longing for heaven

Friday, 8 October 2010

Our Lady widens our vision

Rosary High Mass_0123

Here is the text of the sermon given by Fra Lawrence Lew OP at last night's Mass at Blackfen for our patronal feast of Our Lady of the Rosary:
Last month I had the opportunity to visit the cell of Saint Pius V in Santa Sabina, the oldest Dominican priory in Rome. And there in his cell, which is now a chapel, we were surprised to see that he had a wide-screen television!

Well, actually… to be precise, what we saw was a fresco on the ceiling of the cell, showing the pope praying the Rosary… and as he does, an angel pulls back a curtain, and he appears to be watching the outcome of the battle of Lepanto on a wide-screen television… I think this is entirely appropriate because today’s feast widens our vision. And it is also appropriate that we celebrate this feast using the form of the Mass essentially codified by Pope St Pius V. This beautiful liturgy is itself a widening of our Catholic vision, of our hearts and minds. As Our Holy Father said: “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows”.

So, how does this feast widen our vision? I just want to concentrate on just three ways. Firstly, today’s feast widens our historical vision, and so we are reminded of who we are. For the fresco in Santa Sabina actually depicts the miracle by which Pope Pius V, while praying the Rosary in Rome, learnt of the victory of the Christian fleet over the Ottoman Turks in Lepanto, which is off the western coast of Greece. So, today’s feast, as you’ll probably already know, commemorates a great act of a unified Christian Europe. As Pope Leo XIII put it so stirringly: “Christ's faithful warriors, prepared to sacrifice their life and blood for the salvation of their faith and their country, proceeded undauntedly to meet their foe near the Gulf of Corinth, while those who were unable to take part formed a pious band of supplicants, who called on Mary, and unitedly saluted her again and again in the words of the Rosary, imploring her to grant the victory to their companions engaged in battle”.

And it is by the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession that this decisive victory was won, and a significant threat to Christian Europe was routed. But how many historians, let alone other people, actually remember the Battle of Lepanto?

But memories are important. Think of someone suffering from Alzheimer's disease, who can no longer remember his own history. Such a person has lost his identity. Memories root us, and give us a sense of identity… of who we are today. And yet, is it not the case that Europe seems to be suffering from Alzheimer’s? Or perhaps it is a willful forgetting based on the embarrassment some people mistakenly feel over the very notion of Christendom? But as the then Cardinal Ratzinger has said, this “peculiar Western self-hatred is nothing short of pathological. It is commendable that the West is trying to be more open, to be more understanding of the values of outsiders, but it has lost all capacity for self-love. All that it sees in its own history is the despicable and the destructive; it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure”. Well, take it from someone who was an outsider - I’m both a convert to Catholicism, and born in a Muslim country outside of Europe. There is much that is great and pure in the history of Christian Europe, and the victory at Lepanto is something we can be proud of. It is something we should remember, because it reminds us of our Christian roots, it grounds us in our common heritage, and we need to recall that so much that we value today is due to our Christian background. And all that could have been lost in 1571 at Lepanto.

So, today’s feast - as well as this Mass in the usus antiquior - widens our vision of who we are as Catholics, and indeed challenges Europe to remember her roots, and to see what threatens our civilization today. Pope Benedict XVI said recently that “Religion [is] a vital contributor to the national conversation”. But as we know, it’s rather difficult to hold a conversation with someone suffering from Alzheimer’s! So, we have to remember our heritage, and have some self-acceptance of who we are if there is to be any dialogue worthy of the name, “for the good of our civilization”.

In today’s epistle we read: “He that shall find me [Wisdom], shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord”. And so, today’s feast of the Holy Rosary widens our vision in a second way as we begin to see beyond history, or civilization, and contemplate the fullness of life itself, and what it means to be human. And the one who teaches us to be fully human is Christ, who is true God and true Man.

It is central to St Thomas‘ teaching - following the Tradition of the Fathers - that Christ assumed our human nature for a reason: in order to redeem it. We often hear it said that we’re made in God’s image and likeness, but it’s often forgotten that this divine image and likeness was (and is) deformed by sin. So Christ became Man in order to restore the image of God in us. And Jesus not only healed our deformities but, moreover, by grace, gave us his beauty as the Son of God. And so, when we meditate on the Rosary, we consider what Our Lord has done “for us men and for our salvation” by his coming as Man. As Pope John Paul II said, in the Rosary we are led by Mary to “contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love”.

Essentially, we contemplate the one mystery of the Incarnation - albeit made digestible in 15 (or even 20) mysteries! We contemplate the mystery of Christ’s humanity that encompasses the joys and sorrows of our life on earth, and the glory that is to be ours by the grace of baptism. And we don’t just contemplate, but we also preach… We preach by becoming imitators of Christ, so that we have the radiant beauty of holiness. How might we do this? Through remembering our identity as Christians: sons of God in the Son of God. John Paul II said that “in the recitation of the Rosary, the Christian community enters into contact with the memories and the contemplative gaze of Mary”. And so, with these memories we become more closely united to the incarnate Lord, and we are transformed by these graced memories so that, as it were, we take on our true identity as Christians - little Christs!

Finally, this union with Christ that is deepened by the Rosary points to the third widening of vision that today’s feast celebrates. For the end, the goal of the Rosary, is that we “obtain what they [the mysteries] promise”, and this, of course, is eternal salvation. By imitating what they contain, that is, by imitating Christ himself, we come at last, through grace, to obtain the widest - and indeed, the most HD - vision of all, namely, the Beatific Vision. We will have an eternal vision of the eternal God… and this is what our faith hopes for, this is what the mysteries of the Rosary promise, this is what the perfection of grace in our lives consists in.

And this is the beautiful vision we Christians have to recall… to our neighbours, to our country, to Europe, and to the world. It is a vision worth defending as our ancestors did at Lepanto, and it is a vision worth living, and paying the price for.

It is a vision that is certainly a lot wider, and with infinitely higher definition than the black-and-white, fuzzy vision, with very loud volume, offered by others in our contemporary Western society.

May Our Lady give us the victory through her powerful intercession in the most holy Rosary!
Many thanks indeed to Fra Lawrence. This was his first sermon in a non-Dominican Church and, given the quality not only of the content which you can read above, but also of the manner in which he delivered it, I am sure he will be much sought-after in the role for which his Order is named.

Celebrating the parish feast day

I am a little tired after the feast day yesterday fortunately it is a quiet day and I have been able to take things fairly easy. For the first time in a long while, I actually went and got some fish and chips. This is something I must do more often on a Friday evening because I had a chance to talk to several parishioners in the lengthy queue at the local fish shop - it seems that Friday fish and chips is still going strong in these parts.

At the morning English Mass in the parish, we honoured Our Lady by singing "Daily daily sing to Mary" and "O Mother Blest" which are both favourites at the parish Prayer Group. In the afternoon, the school Mass was delightful as always. Then in the evening, it was time to gear up for the Solemn High Mass. Frs Schofield (Deacon), Whinder (Subdeacon) and Fra Lawrence Lew OP, the preacher, all arrived in good time, for an excellent dinner of roast lamb which Patricia, the chef de cuisine of our parish Lunch Club manages to make more delicious than any cook I have ever known. I brought out my deliciously unfashionable champagne boaters which date back to the 1930s and are one of the few family heirlooms I possess.

Patrick Sheridan of Liturgiae Causa was MC. This was his first time as Master of Ceremonies for High Mass but Patrick is one of those people who can memorise rubrics as competently as enthusiasts in other fields will memorise football statistics. His expertise and the experience of the Sacred Ministers meant that we could concentrate on the Mass itself rather than worrying about the ceremonies.

There were four priests in choir: Fr Charles Briggs, Parish Priest of St Mary's Chislehurst, Fr Peter Murphy, Parish Priest of St David's, Abbey Wood, Fr Paul Hayward of Opus Dei, and Fr Linus Clovis who is a parish priest in St Lucia and works a lot with EWTN and Family Life International.

The above video slideshow is by Mac of Mulier Fortis. The music on the video is from the Cantores Missae who sang at the Mass. They have just published a CD which can be obtained (£12.99) from the website or by emailing Charles Finch. The singing was superb: it is so glorious to hear this music sung in the setting for which it was composed rather than on Classic FM.

It really was a joy to do all this for Our Blessed Lady on her feast, and I pray that she will continue to watch graciously over our little parish dedicated to her. Having managed to put on such a ceremony this year, we are inevitably looking forward to next year. In 2011, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary will be on a Friday so we will have something similar. We will also need to have something special on Sunday 2 October because that will be the 25th anniversary of the Consecration of the Church. Patrick is looking further ahead to 2012 when the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary will fall on a Sunday. He suggests having First Vespers, anticipated Mattins and Lauds on the Saturday and then High Mass on the Sunday. I think I will have to keep the Friday and Monday free to sleep!

UPDATE: Many thanks to Dominic Mary for his kind post at Libera Me: What Fun!

Where the hell is Matt

Someone posted this on Facebook and I found it amusing so I thought you might too. Where the Hell is Matt gives some more information about this guy who does a dance in different places round the world. His site says
Matt is quasi-famous as "That guy who dances on the internet. No, not that guy. The other one. No, not him either. I'll send you the link. It's funny."
Well I don't know about the "quasi" bit, since the above video has had over 31 million views.

I scheduled it for 9am so that you can have something to smile at when you hit the desk in the morning.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Archbishop Piacenza to head Congregation for Clergy

There is a significant announcement in today's Vatican Bollettino
Il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ha accolto la rinunzia presentata, per raggiunti limiti d’età, dall’ Card. Cláudio Hummes all’incarico di Prefetto della Congregazione per il Clero ed ha chiamato a succedergli nel medesimo incarico S.E. Mons. Mauro Piacenza, Arcivescovo titolare di Vittoriana, finora Segretario dello stesso Dicastero.

[my translation] The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation, on grounds of age, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, from the post of Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and has called to succeed him in the same office His Excellency Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana, until now Secretary of the same Dicastery.
Readers may remember Archbishop Piacenza's gracious letter to Bishop O'Donoghue on the occasion of the publication of "Fit for Mission? Church" and his commendation of the Handbook for Parish Vocations teams produced by Fr Stephen Langridge.

Congratulations to Archbishop Piacenza on his new appointment.

Singh v Singh and the unlikelihood of a heresy trial in the British courts

Neil Addison at the Religion Law Blog has an interesting post on the recent case of Singh v Singh. He summarises:
Mr Hardeep Singh (Defendant) had written an article in the Sikh Times questioning the religious validity etc of His Holiness Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj (Claimant), accusing him of being the leader of a Cult a Blasphemer and of engaging in religious practices which were incompatible with Sikhism. In response Jeet Singh sued Hardeep Singh for Libel.
You can read the case at this link: Singh v Singh [2010] EWHC 1294 (QB)

Mr Justice Eady, in his judgement, pointed out that on what was intended to be the first day of the trial,
a preliminary issue has to be resolved on the second defendant's application to stay the claim, either wholly or in part, as being non-justiciable
He then said:
That issue was pleaded in the defence on 16th November 2007 and is founded on the well-known principle of English law to the effect that the courts will not attempt to rule upon doctrinal issues or intervene in the regulation or governance of religious groups. That is partly because the courts are secular and stand back from religious issues while according respect to the rights of those who are adherents or worshippers in any such grouping. It is also partly because such disputes as arise between the followers of any given religious faith are often likely to involve doctrines or beliefs which do not readily lend themselves to the sort of resolution which is the normal function of a judicial tribunal. They may involve questions of faith or doctrinal opinion which cannot be finally determined by the methodology regularly brought to bear on conflicts of factual and expert evidence. Thus it can be seen to be partly a matter of a self-denying ordinance, applied as a matter of public policy, and partly a question of simply recognising the natural and inevitable limitations upon the judicial function.
Later in the judgement, an number of precedents were cited.

In the case of R v Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of Great Britain and the Commonwealth Ex p. Wachmann [1992] 1WLR 1036, the decision of Simon Brown J (as he then was) contained the following passage:
"... the court is hardly in a position to regulate what is essentially a religious function - the determination whether someone is morally and religiously fit to carry out the spiritual and pastoral duties of his office. The court must inevitably be wary of entering so self-evidently sensitive an area, straying across the well-recognised divide between church and state.

One cannot, therefore, escape the conclusion that if judicial review lies here, then one way or another this secular court must inevitably be drawn into adjudicating upon matters intimate to a religious community".
In the case of R v The Imam of Bury Park Jame Masjid Luton & Ors. ex parte Sulaiman Ali (unreported) on 13th September 1991, Auld J (as he then was) followed the approach of Simon Brown J "and said, crisply",
"In short, the issues raised involve an examination of religious law and the custom and traditions of a particular local religious community which the court is not competent to undertake".
That judgment was ultimately upheld by the Court of Appeal reported at [1994] COD, page 142.

More recently, there was the decision of Gray J. in Blake v Associated Newspapers [2003] EWHC 1960 (QB). At paragraph 21 the learned judge said this,
"It is well established ... that the court will not venture into doctrinal disputes or differences. But there is authority that the courts will not regulate issues as to the procedures adopted by religious bodies or the customs and practices of a particular religious community or questions as to the moral and religious fitness of a person to carry out the spiritual and pastoral duties of his office".
In short, m'learned friends at the Queen's Bench would be unlikely to accept the task of adjudicating whether it is or is not defamatory to call Mgr Basil Loftus a heretic, or whether there is a defence of justification, i.e. that the statement is true; or of fair comment, i.e. that it was an expression of opinion, based upon true facts, made in good faith and without malice. (For further information on the law of libel and slander as it relates to the media, see Carter-Ruck Media Law Questions and Answers.)

Parish feast day

Church 009

As it is just after midnight, I thought I would put up a quick post to promise you all prayers on our parish feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. I'll be saying Mass in English in the Church at 10am, and at the school at 2.30pm. We then have Solemn High Mass in the usus antiquior at 8pm.

Please remember me and the parish in your prayers.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

No - take the mitre away!


Yesterday I was in choir at the Carthusian Monastery of Parkminster for first Vespers of their founder St Bruno, after giving my class. (We're doing grace at the moment.) The altar was beautifully decorated for the feast and everyone was looking forward to the clothing of five new novice brothers which took place today.

St Bruno was more than once pressed to become a Bishop. Hence the statue in St Peter's Basilica depicts him shunning the Bishop's mitre which is offered to him by the cherub. I always stop to say a prayer for the Carthusians at this statue. It also strikes me as amusing to see it at the heart of the Vatican as a warning against careerism.

Warming up for a heresy trial

Now this could be fun. Mgr Basil Loftus, who writes a weekly column for the Catholic Times, has threatened to sue Fr Ray Blake for "suggesting that he is a heretic" if various comments are not removed from his blog within seven days. Fr Blake is standing firm by the principle of free speech for his commenters and says that he relishes the thought of a trial in a British court for heresy. (See: British Heresy Trial ~ Coming Soon!)

My guess is that the public gallery will be full.

UPDATE: it seems that Fr Mildew has been threatened as well.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Things I don’t know and things I do

Don't knows
Does human activity cause global warming?
I have read some of the scientific literature and I'm inclined to think that it probably does. But I don’t know for sure.

Should the Government make markets a little more free, or increase regulation and taxation a little?
Not my field, I’m afraid. I don’t know.

Should we all use low energy light bulbs to save the planet?
We don’t have much choice now and I’m happy enough with the softer light they give. But on the question of whether they contribute much to saving the planet, I just don’t know.

Do knows
Will the Church one day say that we can be racist?
No. Although it has not been formally defined, the Church’s condemnation of racism is part of the universal ordinary magisterium and therefore infallible teaching. So we know for sure that the Church can never say that.

Will the Church one day say it's OK to be in a homosexual civil partnership?
No. Although it has not been formally defined, the Church’s condemnation of homosexual civil partnerships is part of the universal ordinary magisterium and therefore infallible teaching. So we know for sure that the Church can never say that.

Will the Church one day permit the ordination of women?
No. Although it has not been formally defined, the Church says that it is definitively to be held that she has no power to ordain women, and that this is part of the deposit of faith. This teaching is not from an extraordinary exercise of papal infallibility but is part of the universal ordinary magisterium and therefore infallible teaching. So we know for sure that the Church can never ordain women.

Seminar for Priests in Donegal

I just received notice of an event which is being organised by the Latin Mass Society of Ireland. They are holding a Seminar for Priests who wish to learn to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite or who would like to do a revision course in the basics of liturgical Latin and formation in the rubrics.

The seminary will be conducted by Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP at the Ards Capuchin Friary, Cresslough, Co Donegal. The friary is located in superb surroundings on the Atlantic coast.

Wednesday 20th October to Friday 22nd October 2010
Cost 110 euro including full board

It is still possible to book. Contact Pronsias 074 97 37 307

Brian Gale's lecture at Westminster

Brian Gale – author of the novel ‘Fatherless’ which has become widely known after being promoted by the pro-chastity, pro-life website One More Soul. Brian was interviewed by Joanna Bogle for the Catholic Herald.

On 14 September, he gave the Annual Theology of the Body Lecture at Westminster. Here is a video of the lecture:

Here is the question and answer session:

Monday, 4 October 2010

St Francis of Assisi in "misguided attempt to motivate the faithful"

Happy feast day of St Francis of Assisi. In his honour, I would like to quote a verse from the Canticle of the Creatures:
Laudato s' mi Signore, per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo vivente pò skappare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;
beati quelli ke trovarà ne le Tue sanctissime voluntati,
ka la morte secunda no 'l farrà male.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
This verse is sometimes glossed over in popular renditions of the hymns of the holy founder. After all, the language of mortal sin is now seen as a "misguided attempt to movitate the faithful."

Rosary Crusade of Reparation

Just a reminder:
The Rosary Crusade of Reparation, in its Jubilee Year, takes place this year on Saturday, 16th October 2010.

The Abbot of Farnborough, the Rt Rev Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB, will lead this year's event.

The Procession starts at 1:45 PM on Saturday, 16 October 2010 outside Westminster Cathedral in Central London (nearest underground station is Victoria). The procession makes its way through Westminster and Knightsbridge to South Kensington, ending at the the Brompton Oratory (nearest Underground Station: South Kensington).

At the Oratory, following prayers and hymns, there will be Solemn Pontifical Benediction and an opportunity to enroll in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Do support this wonderful event in honour of Our Lady!
You may also like to revisit the Rocket Science Examination.

Ex ore infantium

papal flag 011

A lovely family that has occasionally come to my parish, recently moved into the area. I saw Mum & Dad and the children today and, as usual with newcomers, made sure that they knew they could come into the parish Social Club after Mass.

Having another good Catholic family move into the parish is always a bonus but today I was given an extra boost. The children are quite young and understandably a bit confused about moving house, and everything that involves. One of the girls (aged 3 I think) asked Mummy "Are we going to our normal Church today?" Mum replied "No, we're going to our new Church." The little one then said "Oh, is that the Pope Benedict Church?"

That made my day! Viva Pope Benedict!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen

This coming Thursday 7 October at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, there will be Solemn High Mass (usus antiquior) at 8pm.

Victoria Missa Ave Maris Stella
Lobo Ego flos campi; Croce O Sacrum Convivium; Schubert Salve Regina

Celebrant: Fr Timothy Finigan, Deacon: Fr Nicholas Schofield, Subdeacon: Fr Richard Whinder, Preacher: Fra Lawrence Lew OP, Choir: Cantores Missae, directed by Charles Finch.

I am very much looking forward to celebrating this Mass. We rarely have a polyphonic Mass at Blackfen (though my parish choir have in their repertoire a Viadana Mass which they sing very well). Frs Whinder and Schofield are well-versed in the ceremonies and it is a particular honour to have Fra Lawrence Lew, a Dominican, to preach on such a feast day. Many of you will know Fra Lawrence via the blog Godzdogz and his superlative flickr photostream.

You are all, of course, most welcome to attend the Mass. Our Lady of the Rosary is at 330a Burnt Oak Lane, Blackfen DA15 8LW. Here are directions for getting to Blackfen.

Once an island of saints

It has been a busy few days, liturgically speaking. On Friday, in addition to my morning English Mass, I celebrated a Missa Cantata at the chapel of the Good Counsel Network. Above is a photo (courtesy of the Ecumenical Diablog) taken from one of my previous visits there. You can see that the chapel is quite small, so it was down to the skill of Paul Smeaton, the MC, that elbow-bumping was kept to a minimum.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the dedication of Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen. In the morning we had Missa Cantata:

Then (after I had celebrated a wedding) we sang Vespers:

Vespers was followed by Benediction:

Then it was just a question of evening confessions and Mass to finish off the day. Today is Rosary Sunday and so in the morning our Missa Cantata was of the external solemnity. this afternoon, we had the Rosary, a devotional procession of Our Lady, and Benediction. The photos above from yesterday are by Mulier Fortis and I expect she will post some photos of today's ceremonies.

At Benediction, we had the longer Prayer for England, composed by Cardinal Wiseman. Here is the text (Hat tip):
O merciful God, let the glorious intercession of Thy saints assist us, particularly the most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy only-begotten Son, and Thy holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, to whose patronage we humbly recommend this country. Be mindful of our fathers, Eleutherius, Celestine, and Gregory, bishops of the Holy City; of Augustine, Columba, and Aidan, who delivered to us inviolate the faith of the Holy Roman Church. Remember our holy martyrs, who shed their blood for Christ: especially our first martyr, Saint Alban, and Thy most glorious bishop, Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Remember all those holy confessors; bishops, and kings, all those holy monks and hermits, all those holy virgins and widows, who made this once an island of saints, illustrious by their glorious merits and virtues. Let not their memory perish from before Thee, O Lord, but let their supplication enter daily into Thy sight; and do Thou, who didst so often spare Thy sinful people for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, now, also, moved by the prayers of our fathers, reigning with Thee, have mercy upon us, save Thy people, and bless Thy inheritance; and suffer not those souls to perish, which Thy Son hath redeemed with His own most Precious Blood, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen.

Let us pray.
O most loving Lord Jesus, Who, hanging on the Cross, didst commend us all in the person of Thy disciple John, to Thy most sweet Mother, that we might find in her our refuge, our solace, and our hope; look graciously upon our beloved country, and on those who are bereaved of so powerful a patronage; that, acknowledging once more the dignity of this holy Virgin, they may honour and venerate her with all affection of devotion, and own her as Queen and Mother. May her sweet name be lisped by the little ones, and linger on the lips of the aged and the dying; and may it be invoked by the afflicted, and hymned by the joyful; that this Star of the Sea being their protection and their guide, all may come to the harbour of eternal salvation. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.
I think you will agree that it is a beautiful prayer. I normally have a good British stiff upper lip but this prayer moves me in an unaccustomed way, usually at the phrase "who made this once an island of saints" and I have to summon up a bit of extra backbone to carry on. I nearly lost the battle today.

Now off to celebrate evening Mass ...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Gregorian Chant Course at Portsmouth

The Gregorian Chant Network is offering a course at Portsmouth Cathedral. Here are the details:

This brand new Course consists of seven 1-day Workshops at St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth, commencing on Saturday 30 October and continuing on the 3rd Saturday of subsequent months from November 2010 to April 2011 inclusive. The dates are given below.

The Course is aimed at both complete beginners and those who already are experienced at singing chant. It is being led by Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB of Farnborough Abbey and Christopher Hodkinson, a Director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge.

The Course is flexbile so that if you cannot attend the whole course, then it is possible to register for any number of the individual Workshops.

The course fee is £85 for 7 Workshops and includes a Course book (the 'Parish Book of Chant'), or £15 per Workshop plus a fee for the Course book.
To register for the Course contact: or 023 92862384

Course dates:
Saturday 30 October 2010
Saturday 20 November
Saturday 18 December
Saturday 15 January 2011
Saturday 19 February
Saturday 19 March
Saturday 16 April

Appeal for lay community chapel

Catholic with Attitude has posted some more news of Benedict XVI House, recently set up to accommodate a new lay community at St Mary's, Twickenham.

Some work has been done to make the Oratory of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati dignified (including removal of beanbags) but they need some things for the Liturgy, including, first of all, a set of white vestments. Someone has already donated a fine altar with altar stone, and some kneelers which will be put in place soon. Setting up a chapel properly involves obtaining all sorts of "popish nicknackets" and sometimes, chapels or Churches have things that they don't need but don't want to throw away. This would be a good home for them.

Then there's also the folding stuff, of course. Instructions at the post: An Appeal
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