Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Civil Partnerships and the Church. II Practice

This post is intended to give some objective, publicly available information concerning what I consider to be several grave scandals associated with one another. I have purposely avoided the use of any emotive language and ask that any comments on this post should be calm and objective.

The Furrow for October 2006 carries an article by Enda McDonagh entitled "Honorably Catholic and Honorably Gay". A footnote to the title gives the background:
"This reflection was delivered by Fr McDonagh on 10 June 2006 at a liturgy in London to celebrate the registration of the civil partnership of Martin Pendergast and Julian Filochowski."
Fr McDonagh states of this occasion that it is
"a prophetic one, at least a partial realization of a dream, leading us further along the road to being honourably Catholic."
Speaking particularly of "Martin and Julian", he concludes,
"In their being so honourably gay they have enabled us to be a little more honourably Catholic."
Fr Enda McDonagh's address is given as "St Patrick's College, Maynooth". The Furrow is published from Maynooth which is a Pontifical University side by side with a seminary for the training of priests: now in fact now the only seminary for Ireland.

The registration last June of the civil partnership of Julian Filochowski and Martin Pendergast took place on the fifth anniversary of a special Mass, celebrated on 10 June 2001 to mark their 25 years of friendship. The Mass was to have been celebrated by Bishop Crowley (who attended) but at the last minute it was arranged that the celebrant of the Mass would be Fr Jim O'Keefe, then president of Ushaw seminary. Bishop Crowley was quoted as saying,
"I want to make it perfectly clear at the outset that what is being celebrated at this Mass is, as the invitation card indicated, '25 years of friendship and commitment to justice.' It is simply that."
Julian Filochowski remained as director of CAFOD until 2003. The announcement of his retirement from the post was greeted by Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and Bishop Rawsthorne with warm tributes to his work. ("grateful thanks and appreciation of the Catholic community in England and Wales" ... "deep respect and gratitude not just in the parishes and dioceses of England and Wales but worldwide".)

Last year, "Opening Up", a collection of articles, edited by Julian Filochowski and Peter Stanford was published to mark the 60th birthday of Martin Pendergast. This includes a number of articles dissenting from the teaching of the magisterium, particularly on the question of homosexuality. (I wrote a review for Faith Magazine.)

CAFOD, an agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, has promoted the idea that condoms are a legitimate part of a risk reduction strategy in combating AIDS. In 2004, a paper was presented by Ann Smith entitled An understanding of HIV prevention from the perspective of a faith-based development agency. This gives a comprehensive outline of CAFOD's policy in this area. The paper refers to an article by Enda McDonagh Theology in a time of AIDS. This argues for the acceptance of the use of condoms as a "lesser evil". CAFOD's approach was strongly defended by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor and Bishop Rawsthorne in a letter sent to all the priests of England and Wales. The first editorial of the 29 April 2006 issue of The Tablet (click on "sample issue") promotes the same approach. (Julian Filochowski is a Director of The Tablet.)

(At my parish website, there is a page of links related to AIDS, Condoms and the Catholic Church, together with a link to an article I have written on this question. The article includes criticism of CAFOD's policy.)

Civil Partnerships and the Church. I Theory

Mgr Gordon Read has an article in the June 2006 Newsletter of the Canon Law society of Great Britain and Ireland. He quotes a lengthy portion of the June 2003 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions betwen homosexual persons. An important passage in this document reads:
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection. (n.5)
Mgr Read refers to the response of the Catholic Church, particularly Archbishop Smith's statement in which he said that the introduction of civil partnerships would erode our deeply rooted understanding of marriage and that the Government should "support and promote marriage rather than undermine it".

One problem raised by civil partnerships is that in English law, they are an invalidating impediment to marriage whereas canon law has not yet made such an impediment.

Another problem is raised by the question of whether people who are in civil partnerships should be employed by the Church. Mgr Read points out that canon 1061.2 "reflects common human experience in its presumption that marriage has been consummated once cohabitation has begun." This is also presumed in the case of civil marriages that are not valid. Although living together as brother and sister is possible, the "internal forum solution" allowing such couples to receive communion also requires that there be no scandal. In view of this, Mgr Read comments:
In the case of civil partnership there is a legitimate human presumption that there will be a sexual relationship, even if in some cases this will not be verified. As with civil marriage, a civil partnership makes a public statement that this relationship exists. Those in such a partnership appear to be in a parallel situation to those in marriages the Church considers irregular, and subject to the same restrictions consequent upon their life being publicly at variance with the teaching of the Church.
Mgr Read concludes by examining the question of clergy and religious who might enter into civil partnerships.

"Pro multis" articles

Fr John Zuhlsdorf writes an excellent blog from Rome called What does the prayer really say? He writes on various liturgical topics and has an extensive Patristic Rosary Project in progress.

He has written before on the question of the pro multis and recently referred to the rumours I mentioned in his post About "pro multis". (He felt that it may have been imprudent for me to mention them and if this is so, I am sorry.)

In one post, he has collected together links to his thorough articles on "pro multis". They are well worth reading for some comprehensive background on this issue.

Extraordinary Ministers and purification

Cardinal Arinze recently wrote to Bishop Skylstad to say that extraordinary ministers of holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States.

Read the full article: Extraordinary ministers of Eucharist barred from purifying vessels.

(H/T American Papist)

This letter is of relevance to England and Wales because currently the Bishops give permission for extraordinary ministers to purify the vessels after Holy Communion. The permission is conditional upon any further instruction from Rome. Since Bishop Skylstad said that Cardinal Arinze asked Pope Benedict about the matter during a June 9 audience, "and received a response in the negative", it would not seem to be necessary for a further instruction to be issued for England and Wales.

Random act of kindness

On my last day in Rome, I had lunch at a restaurant near St Peter's before catching a taxi to Fiumicino Airport. Having ordered and settled down to reading Peter Kreeft's Ecumenical Jihad, I noticed a Bishop come in, also on his own. I nodded politely and we both continued with our reading and repast.

After lunch, he came over and introduce himself, complimented me on my choice of reading and left. Shortly after, when I asked the waiter for the bill, he told me that the Bishop had paid it.

So thanks very much indeed, My Lord, and may God bless you for your kindness.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Media mediated Blessing

Joee Blogs asked whether he could get the Apostolic Blessing via my YouTube clip. Unfortunately not. There is a special provision for the Urbi et Orbi blessing on Easter Sunday. You can receive that blessing and indeed the plenary indulgence by watching it on television or listening to it on the radio - live, not recorded. (If I'm wrong on any of this, canonists please feel free to correct me.)

I remember as a child that my father got us all together to kneel down for the Urbi et Orbi Blessing on Easter Sunday. Just thinking of this now chokes me up a bit (he died in 1997). As a young man, he had crossed the channel on 8 June 1944, fought in the tanks in the battle of the Falaise pocket, through the bocage, and, village by village, through Belgium; now he was kneeling with unabashed faith and devotion to receive the Pope's blessing via the television, reverently making the sign of the cross, and teaching us children by his good example. (The picture shows him and my mother when they were engaged.)

Saturday, 28 October 2006

Apostolic Blessing Video

OK. Here's a piece of Catholic-Blogging-YouTube one-upmanship if you like. My very own video of Pope Benedict! Yay! How cool is that then, eh?

Unfortunately, the quality of the camera-work is, well, complete rubbish. Nevertheless, it is worth it just to hear the Bavarian pronunciation of Dee-us. Enjoy - it's only 30 seconds.

Room with a view

Last Monday, I had the great pleasure of dining with Tom Pink, who is Reader in Ethics at Kings College, London, and his wife, Judy. We were joined by a certain person who cannot be named on this blog owing to the sensitivity of his work. In order to protect his anonymity, he was obliged to come to dinner dressed in Darth-Vader-cum-Burkah headgear.

Later, he kindly invited me to see his flat and drink some of his cognac. From the balcony, he has what can only be considered one of the best views that it is possible to have:

Saints in St Peter's

Whenever I am in Rome, I spend hours and hours in St Peter's. I never tire of its magnificence, triumphaism and sheer Romanità. It feels as though it is made for the Classical Roman rite, either celebrated privately at the numerous altars, or in full Pontifical splendour. Some of the decoration is modelled consciously on the Basilica of Maxentius as you can easily see if you visit the Forum and compare the mouldings. Truly the Glory of Rome beyond the dreams of the Caesars.

Currently, there is an exhibition in the Braccio Carlo Magno devoted to the Basilica itself. The title was Petros Eni (probably = "Peter is in here") which is the inscription on a small piece of red stone found at the tomb of St Peter during the investigations commissioned by Pope Pius XII. The finale of the exhibition was a display case which contained the actual piece of stone. Along the way, the different rooms told the story of the various architects modifying the plans of their predecessors and some of the practical details involved in creating such a tremendous and exuberant homage to the Glory of God and the Catholic Church.

Wandering round the Basilica, I love the massive statues that are placed in the pilasters. Below is St Ignatius crushing heresy:

Next tier up and a bit further along is St Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, stomping the devil:

Probably my favourite is St Bruno, the founder of the Carthusians, shown recoiling as a cherub offers him a Bishop's mitre and crozier:

Rome awash with Southwark priests

Last week was the English "half term", a week long holiday in the middle of the school term. Priests often take some time off as there are no Governors' meetings or school duties. This certainly seemed to be true of Southwark clergy last week.

In the sacristy of St Peter's, I met Fr James Clark and both Frs Boyle (Stephen and John - South Ashford Priest) who were out with some altar servers.

At the airport, I met Fr Southwell of the Latin Mass Society who was out on pilgrimage with the Society. In St Peter's Square, I bumped into Fr Martin Edwards so we each posed for a genuine tourist photo. Here he is:

Another time in the colonnade, I met Fr Philip Gilbert and several others (including Bishop Howard Tripp) who were part of the same priestly support group, spending a few days at the Casa del Clero. Fr Gilbert estimated that 6% of the active clergy from the Archdiocese of Southwark were in Rome last week.

Forest Murmurs blog

Wow! is there a lot to post... Even though the clocks go back tonight, giving us an extra hour in bed, I'm determined not to stay blogging after 10pm so I'll put up whatever I can today. First off, there is a new UK priest blogger, Fr Michael Brown, who has a blog called Forest Murmurs.

I did not quite meet Fr Brown in Rome but waved to him across the barricaded central aisle of St Peter's last Monday evening. (In the photo, he is the one wearing glasses and just taking out his camera.) We were both there to see the Pope after the academic Mass. Do take a look at his blog and put in on your blogroll.

UPDATE - Fr Michael Brown has posted his picture now!

Quarant' Ore at Maiden Lane

Just ploughing through last week's email - I thought it would be helpful to post this information.

There is to be 40 hours Devotion at Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden:

Monday 30th October - High Mass of Exposition,
Tuesday 31st October - High Mass for Peace,
Wednesday 1st November (All Saints - Holy Day) - High Mass of Deposition.

All Masses are at 6.30pm and in the Classical Roman rite.

Also: High Requiem Mass for All Souls - Thursday 2nd November - 6.30pm

Advice from a Cardinal

Returning from Mancinelli's yesterday morning, I was crossing over to the Piazza San Pietro and quite by chance met Cardinal George Pell. I was delighted to be able to give him my humble greetings and exchange a couple of words with him. He was probably on his way to lunch but had time to give me some kindly advice, aussie style: "Tim, - keep your guard up and keep moving around the ring."


A few pictures from Rome

I have to do some posts on the Chiesa Nuova, San Gregorio, the Basilica of Ss John and Paul, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the General Audience and other things. In the meantime, here is a selection of some favourites from this trip. First off, a "St Peter's by night" snap:

Here is the tower of the basilica of Ss John and Paul from the Coelian

This is another picture from the Coelian. If I didn't tell you, you probably wouldn't realise, as I did after taking the photo, that it is a picture of a public toilet. Everything gets to be picturesque in Rome!

Even street sweeping vehicles can get a windscreen to die for!

Pro multis - letter expected soon

I heard nothing in Rome about the rumours of the Motu proprio liberalising the Classical Roman Rite. However, I was surprised to find that Rome is awash with rumours about another initiative - apparently insisted upon by the Holy Father himself.

A letter is shortly to be issued which will stipulate that in translations into the vernacular, the words of consecration should render pro multis as "for many". The letter will make it clear that theologically we know that Christ died "for all" but that the words of consecration should be rendered accurately, according to the tradition of most liturgies.

This will be a major signal and will help with the reconciliation of traditionalists who find the mistranslation of pro multis to be a stumbling block.

So many people in Rome

Sorry for the lack of posts since Wednesday morning. The Internet Café I was posting from had a dodgy connection which lost a couple of posts so I spent the time pounding the streets of Rome rather than typing. I had an exhausting but inspiring tour of Churches in the area of the Coelian Hill. Getting off the bus at the Circus Maximus, I climbed up to the Church of St Gregory. From there it was a short walk to the Basilica of Ss John and Paul (thus completing one item on the to-do list). The park is next to that basilica so I walked through and had to visit Santa Maria in Domnica. Then I could not leave without crossing over to see Santo Stefano Rotondo. There I was stopped by the classic Roman spoiler - in restauro. It will look good when it is finished, I'm sure.

Wednesday evening I had dinner with Mgr Barreiro of Human Life International. Over coffee and amaro, we were joined by Frs Dylan James, James Clark and Greg Hogan and another priest who shall remain anonymous on this blog.

Thursday, I met with Fr Bernie O'Connor (left) who works at the Congregation for Oriental Churches and has a particular responsibility for relations with the Syro Malabar Rite. We went to one of the increasing number of Chinese restauraunts in Rome. It was reassuring to see so many people there from the far East patronising the restaurant.

Friday, as usual, I went to St Peter's to say Mass early and say the Breviary in the Basilica before it became too crowded. I went down to pay my respects to the various Popes buried under the basilica along with James III. After coffee with a friend who works in Rome, it was time to pack, pick up an alb and a few corporals for the parish - I patronised Mancinelli, which was apparently the favourite shop of Cardinal Ratzinger.

Usual bother getting home - long queue to check in for Alitalia, long queue for passport control at Heathrow and no seat for the hour's journey by tube to North Greenwich. Very grateful for the lift from the Mulier Fortis from there to Blackfen.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Holy See Press Office

Another stop this morning, after the audience, was the Holy See Press Office. Unfortunately, there are no press conferences scheduled this week. Otherwise, I would have got myself accredited and taken a photograph of a Vatican press pass with "The Hermeneutic of Continuity" on it. And I would have taken lunch at Chez Bruce from Fr Stephen Langridge! (He offered this in the combox.)

One time previously, I was in Rome (quite fortuitously= for the launch of Redemptionis Sacramentum. Despite my lack of documentation, the Press Office could not have been more helpful and I ended up with a press pass anyway. They are actually keen to help anyone who is genuinely interested in reporting on the Holy See.

Italian at St Peter's

Amy Wellborn asks about the language of publicly scheduled Masses at St Peter's.

Apparently, someone had written that publicly scheduled Masses at St Peter's are now celebrated in Latin. This may be true of some of the principal Masses such as the main Sunday Mass. Sadly it is not true of the weekday Masses.

Yesterday, I was at the 5pm Mass at the altar of the Chair. That part of the Basilica was full to overflowing for the Mass - probably in excess of a thousand people. Apart from the Ordinary (Missa de Angelis) everything was in Italian.

Most of the people at the Mass will have been at the General Audience earlier in the day. At the end of this, the Holy Father leads the Pater Noster and then gives the apostolic blessing in Latin "Sit nomen Domini benedictum... The text of the Pater and the blessing is printed on the reverse of the General Audience tickets.

But at the evening Mass in the patriarchal basilica we got "Sia benedetto il nome del Signooooore ..." Even the Italians present didn't know what to respond to that. If the Holy Father manages to change some of this utter nonsense, it will not be particularly "traditionalist", just common sense. There is no particular reason for such Masses to be in Italian rather than in English or German. It is worth remembering too, that many "Italians" do not speak Italian. In Sardinia, Naples, and Palermo, the Church is one of the few places you will hear "Italian" as she is spoke.

And while I'm in ranting mood, when is this stupdaggine of the Hungarian Chapel going to stop? If a priest has a rescript from Ecclesia Dei next door, giving him permission to celebrate Mass in the Classical Rite, why have the authorities at St Peter's insisted that he has to use one of the ugliest chapels in the Basilica. Someone is extracting the Michael. Could they not be stomped on from a great height soon?

General Audience and Centro Storico

People who work in Rome always have time to meet you over coffee. It seems to be an institution that you go out at 11am to a favoured local bar for a cappucino. Before and after this incontro, I took in some of the General Audience and, I hope, got some good photos. After putting my best intentions into gaining the Plenary Indulgence at the Papal Blessing, I made off on the 40 bus to the Centro Storico, the "historic centre" of Rome.

Of course, the whole of Rome is pretty "historic" compared with most cities but there is an area comprising such delights as the Pantheon, the Campo de'Fiori and the Trevi Fountain, which is referred to as the Centro Storico. It is a rather foolish exercise to go tramping round there this lunchtime in the scorching sun but I can never resist it. Even despite the crush of tourists (like myself, I hasten to add), it has a charm all of its own, most especially because of the tremendous building and restoration activity during the counter-reformation.

I go on a "Church crawl" in between getting some photos in the glorious weather, and spend quite a bit of time at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva. The obelisk outside this Church has appeared on this blog before; it is one of my compulsory pilgrimage destinations on visits to Rome. I said a prayer at the tomb of St Catherine of Siena and took some photos.

This afternoon, the Latin Mass Society are having their Mass at the Church, and saying a special prayer for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor who sent them a very kind letter of encouragement.

Father Bernie

This is the sort of thing that happens in Rome. I am walking up the Via Conciliazione, intending to get a bus to the Centro Storico and who should I see at a cafe but Fr Bernie O'Connor. Bernie is at the Congregation for Oriental Churches - his responsibility is the Syro-Malabar Rite. Many years ago, he was my spiritual director when I was a young student at the English College. He is always interested to hear news of priests from that time.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Human Life International, Rome

Later this morning, I called over to the office of Human Life International in Rome. I should have telephoned first but somehow I must have got the number wrong. It turned out to be OK to call in and I was welcomed graciously by Mgr Barreiro who heads up the office and is coming to England to speak at the Conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life on 22 November.

People studying in Rome should know about the HLI office. They have a library there which is available for students to use free of charge, together with photocopying facilities. Mgr Barreiro told me that their current acquisitions policy is 30 volumes per month.

Go to Vita Umana Internazionale, Piazzale Gregorio VII, n.22 int.2.

Mass at St Peter's

A very enjoyable dinner with friends last night finished a little late. One friend has an apartment with the most amazing view of dome of St Peter's: I'll post a photo when I'm back.

This morning, I went into St Peter's just after it opened. I went to say Mass at the "rush hour". The chierichetto wandered around for a bit before telling me that we would have to look out for an altar where the priest was nearly finished Mass. Eventually he went off to go to school and left me.

I said Mass in the New Rite in Latin with an impropmtu congregation of two nuns and a laywoman. After a cappucino, I went back in, to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to say some office. The Blessed Sacrament chapel is very well supervised, quiet and prayerful. It also has the most amazing angel statues in perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as the live sisters who kneel before Our Lord.

I saw the Pope!

DilexitPrior saw my post about arriving in Rome and sent a comment asking for asked me to say a prayer for her. I promised to go straight over the St Peter's Square and do so, also including in my intention all my Catholic blogging friend.

When I got to the Piazza, I could see that people were still going through security into the Basilica so I thought I would go in and say the prayers for the indulgence. When I got to the door, it was apparent that there was a major function on. The Vatican Policeman on the door told me to go in as the Pope would be walking past in a minute. Sure enough, after a few minutes, in came our beloved Holy Father and I now have on my camera a reasonably close photo and a couple of short video clips for YouTube when I get back. So, DilexitPrior, thanks very much indeed for asking me to say a prayer!

The occasion was the annual "Academic Mass" which is near the beginning of the academic year. The Mass had finished and the Pope was coming in to give a short discourse on the importance of theological study. We then all got his blessing and sang the Salve Regina.

I picked up one of the booklets printed for the Mass. In view of the rumours about the Classical Rite, it was striking to see that the introit was Introibo ad altare Dei with Psalm 42.

Monday, 23 October 2006

Honourable mention and cricketing memories

I have been given an honourable mention in the Lapped Catholic Motivational Poster contest and apparently I have won a prize. I have also been invited to apply for membership of the Recusant Cricket Club. Such pleasant things to be waiting for me in my combox on arrival in Rome!

My application for membership of the Recusant Cricket Club will be strengthened, I hope by my not so well known cricketing credentials. I captained the St Mary's Junior School team in the 1968-69 season and the Venerable English College team in the 81-82 and 82-83 seasons (I think). Our team played in a competition organised by the Associazione Italiana di Cricket.

Considering this now, I am happy to think that while students were rioting in Paris and Belgravia, I was opening the bowling at Lloyds Park against other 10-11 year olds in Croydon.

Blogging in Rome

There is a bar with internet access just across the road from the Hotel Emmaus. Rather nice to have a cold beer brought to your computer. I should get the chance to put up a couple of posts each day. I don't think it's going to be that easy to download the photos from my camera but I've brought the "biggie" and it is sunny here so you can expect some quite nice ones when I get back, at least.


Laetatus sum in eo quod dixerunt mihi. Stantes iam sunt pedes nostris in portis tuis - ROMA!

In the departure lounge at Heathrow, I met Fr Andrew Southwell and Fr Anton Guziel who are with the Latin Mass Society on their Pilgrimage to Rome. I had no idea that they would be going this week, nor that they were going with Alitalia. I met Peter Clark, Carolyn and several others from the Isle of Wight LMS while waiting at the gate - then also met Margaret Mary Fitzgerald. Amazing!

The other day, Fr Charles Briggs told me that Fr Martin Edwards is also in Rome this week. On my arrival, there was a message from a friend who is working here in Rome. I'm meeting up with him and a couple whom I have only so far known through my blog. We will be meeting up by the obelisk in St Peter's Square. You can't get a better rendezvous than that!

Apparently also in Rome at this time are Frs Greg Hogan and James Clark so I may get the chance to see them as well.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

"To do" list for Rome

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I like to have a "To do" list when visiting Rome. I am fortunate to have a few days off next week and will be in the Eternal City from Monday evening to Friday afternoon. I always spend lots of time in St Peter's, say Mass there, go to confession there (can be scary but always edifying), visit the tomb of St Peter and try to gain the plenary indulgence, so that item is just a "given".

Here is my list of things to do (not necessarily exhaustive or in order of importance):
  1. Spend the best part of a day in the Vatican museums (not been there for a while)
  2. Make a Pilgrimage to the FSSP Church of San Gregorio
  3. Meet up with Mgr Barreiro at the HLI Rome office (arranged)
  4. Take someone to that excellent restaurant off the Borgo Pio run by the Permanent Deacon
  5. Visit the catacombs of San Callisto (many years since I have done this)
  6. Get myself accredited at the Holy See Press Office (Who knows? Perhaps the much anticipated Motu Proprio may be issued!)
  7. Visit a minor basilica
This time, I am trying out a new route. I have shunned Heathrow Airport for years: the vagueries of the M25 mean that I need to allow three hours to get there by car. However, I have two kind parishioners who have agreed to ferry me to and from North Greenwich station. From there, I go to Green Park on the Jubilee Line and change to the Piccadilly. Total journey time is one hour and a quarter. This also means that I can shun British Airways and fly Alitalia - I expect their employees are allowed to wear a crucifix if they want (unlike at BA) . I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Another Clifton PP

Fr Alex Redman put me onto another parish website in his diocese (Clifton), that of St George's, Warminster, in Wiltshire. It seems to be a very thriving parish with lots going on. The photographs section has pictures of the parish's Blessed Sacrament Procession.

On the Fr Bede page, there are also some excellent short catechetical pieces. I also take the liberty of posting here the photograph of himself he has chosen for the parish website. From the combox, I know the consolation that such pictures bring to the laity.

I don't know. I'm beginning to feel a bit of a trendy liberal with my stock photograph. Maybe I should get the Mulier Fortis to take one of me in a biretta or something.

I'll remain anonymous, thank you

I thought this was a brilliant story. Thanks to Fr Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalen's, Brighton.
When I was an assistant priest in St Leonards on Sea, there was another priest, who used to welcome penitents at the confessional shake their hands warmly enquire about their health, ask their names, all designed to put them at their ease.

One day a woman came into the the Church wearing a motorcycle helmet with the visor down. The priest stood at the confessional door, greeted her warmly, shook her hand and invited to remove the helmet, she refused saying she wanted to have her right to anonymity preserved.

From then on the priest stayed inside the confessional behind the grill.
It is worth reading the rest of the post. His comments on confession are spot-on.

The virtue of mechanical prayer

A problem that many people speak of when saying the Divine Office is that it is sometimes rather "mechanical". Owing to tiredness or anxiety or working hard, it can be difficult to achieve the serene and prayerful attitude to the Office that is desirable.

It is desirable , of course, and it is best when we can say the Office prayerfully, with full attention of mind and heart. But what about the times when it is impossible to do so?

Something that I say to penitents, especially priests, religious and lay people who are trying to live a devout life, is that the "mechanical" recitation of the Office can also be virtuous. On those days when we are tired, or have been busy and the Office has "piled up" so that we have to say several parts together, we should not despair of the exercise, still less omit it because we cannot say it perfectly.

At such times, we say the Office out of duty (officium), as a service to others in obedience to our Father. It is a classic teaching of the great spiritual writers that when we do not have any "nice feelings", our prayer may be even more efficacious because we are doing it simply out of the love of God. This love is not the "romantic" sort, but the sacrifical sort of love.

Just to make it clear: we should take all the proper means to excite devotion. Sometimes it will be our own fault that we have not organised our time properly, or we have become tired through useless activity. Nevertheless, fidelity to the Office even when it is least attractive, is fidelity to Christ.

An analogy can be found in the good family. The Mother is perhaps tired and harassed at dinner time. She does not on that account leave off cooking for her family. She may not enjoy it, but it is still an act of love - all the more so because it is difficult and burdensome. A man may be tired of his work but he does it conscientiously in order to bring home his wages for his family.

Similarly with a priest or religious, our Divine Office is the work of God. When we have forced ourselves to say it "mechanically" just because we have to, because we want to be faithful and obedient to Christ and the Church, who knows what graces God will bring to our people from that act of love?

Friday, 20 October 2006

A safe haven

Cally's Kitchen is written by Malcolm ("the dúnadan"), a blogger who is in the parish to which Fr Nicholas Schofield has recently moved. As well as saying some kind things about my blog, he has a link to the wonderfully titled Recusant Cricket Club. In case you are wondering what such a club might be, here is their "Vision Statement" (no, they don't call it that.)
The Recusant Cricket Club is a safe haven from an increasingly ugly world: a world actively rooting out all that holds it together, a world plagued by secularism, liberalism and association football.

The Club is for those who reject what Leo XIII called “that widespread and powerful organisation, who, usurping the name of liberty, style themselves liberals.”

This is a forum for people who find themselves shouting at the TV, people who cannot listen to Radio 4 without running down pedestrians. This is a forum for people who believe in having more children than surnames. This is a place for people who believe that how it has always been done and how it ought to be done are usually the same thing.

This is a place for the modern recusant to be heard.
I think I ought to join.

More on Bishop Kenney

Thanks to Joee Blogs, I would like to pass on to you a link to the Laus Crucis post on Bishop William Kenney, the new auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham.

Have a look at the Laus Crucis blog. There are some good photos from the Mass during the 45th General Chapter of the Passionists. It was celebrated in the Basilica of Sts John and Paul (you know, the ones just before Cosmas and Damien in the Canon). The body of St Paul of the Cross is enshrined in an altar there. Here is a picture from the Passionist Website.

Young clergy

In the photograph in the previous post, you can see a priest sitting in the back row. He is Fr Alex Redman, recently appointed parish priest of St Augustine's, Bristol. I met him briefly at the ordination of Fr Marcus Holden last year and it was great to see him again and have the chance to talk a little.

Arriving in his new parish, he was obviously asked to supply a photograph of himself for the parish website. Here is the photo that appears there:

And this seems like a good time to remind you of the location of my first ever video post, Ma Beck's classic Everything old is new again.

Meriol Trevor Lecture

My visit to Bath was at the kind invitation of Fr Bill McLoughlin (left), a Servite priest who runs the parish of St Peter and St Paul on the outskirts of Bath, and is also Catholic chaplain to Bath University. He attended Meriol Trevor in her last illness and decided to set up an annual lecture in memory of her. Meriol Trevor wrote the definitive two-volume biography of Cardinal Newman. She also had an interest in theology, particularly the relationship between science and religion.

Mine was the sixth annual lecture and was entitled "Creation and Evolution. A positive view of how the Theology of Creation can be informed by a scientific understanding of the world." The text can be downloaded from my parish website's Controversies page.

Previously, the lecture has been held at Prior Park College. They were unable to host it this year and so it was held on the University campus, at the ecumenical chaplaincy. It had been well publicised and there was a good mixture of students, university staff and local people.

One questioner raised a most interesting point about the nature of science itself. When I was talking to him afterwards, he recommended to me Mary Midgeley's "The Myths We Live By." With a strong caveat about summarising such a thesis, the idea, if I understand it correctly, is that we live by various myths, or ways of interpreting the world. Science is just one of those and has no greater claim to hard or absolute truth about the world than any other.

My lecture addressed the work of Richard Dawkins at various points. I agree with his scientific outlook and his description of natural selection but disagree that this leads to atheism. My thesis is that science leads us to God.

The questioner characterised Dawkins (and me) as wrongly "deterministic" about the natural world. I did feel rather as though I had an exposed flank that was very effectively attacked. In my answer, I concluded that we were in quite profound disagreement about the nature of science. However, I do need to read up on this as it is the kind of thesis that could become very popular. Dawkins addresses it with characteristic vigour and I may find that I am once again in agreement with him.

St John the Evangelist Catholic Church

I mentioned the pleasant surprise that I had when I found out that this Church was the Catholic Church for central Bath. It is dedicated to St John the Evangelist. Below, you can see that the interior of the Church has not been ruined in any way by wreckovation:

There is a small wooden forward-facing altar and a sort of lectern that pokes through the screen but they could both easily be removed when the reform of the reform gathers pace. The fine pulpit is intact. The modern, unobtrusive microphone, indicates that it is still in use.

The Lady Chapel has its own screen.

The Church was founded by the Benedictines in 1861, hence there is this fine altar in honour of St Benedict at North wall.

I was very taken by this statue but I have to confess that I do not know who it is. Can anyone help?

At the back of the Church is this inscription:

English translation:
To God the greatest and best.
When Pius XII was happily reigning,
Joseph Rudderham was bishop,
and Canon Patrick Hackett was Rector;
this sacred building, having been damamged by hostile incursion in 1942,
by the mercy of the Lord, and with the people applauding,
was renewed in the year 1953.
By the mercy of the Lord and with the applause of the people, it was not "renewed" again sometime in the mid 1970s. Deo gratias!

And here is the photo I took with the advice of the bird-watcher. The falcon that you can see is, apparently, the female one. The twigs above are part of their nest. The male one was scratching around up there but I can't make it out in the photo.

Bath baths

The main attraction of Bath is the Roman Baths complex which is very well preserved. The baths were dedicated to Minerva Sulis, the Romans having appropriated the Celtic goddess Sulis for their own Minerva. According to St Augustine, the pagan gods were both demons anyway so it is a pity that Minerva wasn't eventually replaced with our Blessed Lady as in so many places in Italy. Perhaps one day...

(Click on any of the photographs in these posts for a larger picture.)

Above the Great Bath, at the end of the 18th century, the King's Terrace was built. It is just above street level.

The overflow arch, pictured below, was part of the system for controlling the spring and the baths. The spring gushes about 240,000 gallons a day at a temperature of 46 degrees centigrade. It apparently contains 47 different minerals.

The Bath complex had the full range of bathing facilities. The Great Bath was fed by the spring and so was fairly warm. After that, you could plunge into the circular frigidarium for a bracing cold dip.

The hypocaust, pictured below, provided under-floor heating for various rooms much like our modern saunas and steam baths. The Romans were more modest than the modern health club, though, in that men and women had separate facilities.

Below is an monument to the goddess (i.e. demon) Sulis, given by a haruspex. They were responsible for reading the entrails of sacrificed animals. I sometimes point out to people how, in addition to all the graces they give us, in the providence of God, the Mass and the sacraments are so much more pleasant for us as rituals.

Before you leave the baths, you are invited to participate in the worship of the demons by a notice requesting money for further archeological research.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Pleasant surprise in Bath

Bath is reached from Paddington by the Great Western Railway, an engineering triumph of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Between Chippenham and Bath, the train goes through the Box Tunnel which is nearly two miles long and descends with a gradient of 1 in 100. I managed to get a glimse of the western portal. Apparently the work was begun from both ends and when they met, there was an error of less than 2 inches in alignment.

Having arranged to arrive in Bath a few hours early, I had the opportunity to visit the Roman Baths and take some photographs. On the way from the station, I passed a large Victorian Church but did not bother to photograph it. On the way back to the station to get a taxi out to Fr Bill, I took a closer look and was amazed to find that it was a magnificent Catholic Church. It is very well kept and has not been "wreckovated" in any way. The pulpit and High Altar are intact as are the screens.

While walking round Bath, I got chatting to a couple who are living rough. They told me that a pair of peregrine falcons were nesting in the Church spire. I later managed to get a photo with the help of a bird watcher who was looking at them with his binoculars. The couple told me that the priest at the Church gave them a cup of tea at seven in the morning. I told them he was a saint. It was only later that I found out they were talking about a Catholic priest.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Where I will be tomorrow

I have been invited to give the Meriol Trevor Memorial Lecture at Bath University tomorrow, hosted by the Catholic Society. The subject is "Creation and Evolution. A positive view of how the Theology of Creation can be informed by a scientific understanding of the world."

The journey is itself full of interest as the line from Paddington to Bath was one of Brunel's great achievements. By booking tickets at The Train Line, I managed to get two first class single tickets on some "saver" scheme for £20 each. There should be some time to have a walk around the centre of the city and take some photos.

One fine day, I will learn not to spend ages making further fussy edits to talks that I give. Having just read Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, there was unlimited scope to tinker with the text. What I must not do is to forget to print it off and take it with me (I have done that in the past!)

The more widespread use of the internet makes my luggage a little lighter. In the past, I would have printed off copies of the notes for people who wanted to take them home. What I do now is to print off postcard-sized flyers giving the address of this blog where the text will be linked. Look at me saving the rainforest an' all!

Faith Priests and the Theology of the Body

Today saw one of the regular meetings of priests from the Faith Movement over at St Joseph's Dorking, where Fr Dominic Rolls is parish priest. There were a dozen of us there today so it made for a good discussion and a chance to catch up on each others' news.

Fr Philip Miller gave the paper today on the subject of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. It was an excellent summary and the materials he provided gave us the opportunity for a good theological discussion.

New Auxiliary in Birmingham

News kindly passed on by a reader who found this on today's Daily Bulletin of the Vatican Press Office. [My translation]

Nomination of the Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham
The Pope has nominated as auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Brmingham (England) His Excellency William Kenney CP, titular Bishop of Midica

Mgr William Kenney, C.P.
Mgr William Kenney was born at Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) on 7 May 1946. He completed his studies in the minor seminary of the Passionists in England and then in the Pontifical Athenaeum of the Jesuits at Heythrop, obtaining a Licence in Theology.

After his religious profession in 1963, he was ordained priest on 29 June 1969. The following year, he was sent to Sweden for studies in religious sociology. He remained in Sweden and was appointed Parish Priest of Växjö and Professor of Religious Sociology at the University of Gothenberg.

On 13 May 1987, he was elected titular Bishop of Midica and Auxiliary of Stockholm, receiving episcopal consecration on 24 August. He has also held until now the office of Secretary of the Nordic Episcopal Conference.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

SSPX overtures

H/T to Fr Sean Finnegan for the link to an article in yesterday's Scotsman Catholic schismatics see return to Roman fold soon. Substantially the same story has been on CWN as well as Reuters.

It has always struck me as odd that we are encouraged to be nice to the Orthodox, the Church of England, the Methodists, Baptists, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists but to shun the Society of St Pius X like a rabid dog. I do understand the offence that many Catholics have taken against some of the remarks of some members of the SSPX about Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict but I find the prospect of a reconciliation and some working agreement a fascinating one. As I have said before, the addition of a couple of SSPX priests would add spice to the average Deanery meeting.

The most puzzling quotation in the article is
"We would be a bit like the Chinese Patriotic Church, in the Church without really being there,"
Bishop Fellay has made clear in the past what he thinks of the Patriotic Church. (It is a problem for the SSPX in China because the Patriotic Church has retained the Classical Roman rite and so the SSPX is in danger of being associated with them.) It is, of course, quite possible that he was simply using the Patriotic Church as an example in one respect - that of having a certain relationship with Rome but one that was juridically irregular. He might also be making the point that if Rome can bend over backwards to accommodate the Patriotic Church as far as possible, despite its links with the communist government, surely it could give the same consideration to the SSPX.

Archbishop Fellay is also quoted as saying
"There could be a relationship between Rome and us, but it would not yet be a juridical relationship."
The juridical question is a major one for the SSPX. In the question of marriage law and faculties for confession, it is necessary to invoke extraordinary provision to justify the sacramental ministry of the SSPX. There is also the question of juridical procedure and appeal. If a member of the SSPX wished to appeal a juridical decision, the proper supreme tribunal would be the Apostolic Segnatura. Juridical regularity is presumably an important matter for many within the SSPX but perhaps Archbishop Fellay is working for a gradual rapprochment.

A significant problem is that within the SSPX, feelings run high. Archbishop Fellay would wish to avoid creating a schism within the SSPX itself if at all possible. Too rapid a solution could well see a "liberal SSPX" wing joining with Rome and a "radical SSPX" becoming more and more like the Holy and Apostolic Church of South Norwood. This might be inevitable but it is surely prudent to avoid it if at all possible.

It would be good to see the French text of Fellay's remarks to "journalists in Paris" and perhaps a bit more context so if anyone has a link, please drop it in the combox.

Fr Stephen Langridge appointed Vocations Director

Flipping through my blogroll reminded me to tell you the news from the Archdiocese of Southwark. In a recent Letter Ad Clerum, Archbishop McDonald announced that he has appointed Fr Stephen Langridge as Vocations Director for the Archdiocese. This is very good news. Fr Stephen has done great work heading up the Vocations Promotion Team, pioneering Seekers Meetings and retreats for young men interested in the priesthood and keeping in touch with those who are at university. He also runs a Southwark Vocations Blog.

Orbis Catholicus and Reggie Foster

I found the blog Orbis Catholicus when reading the story about Fr Reginald Foster being booted out of the Gregorian University. It's a great blog written by John Paul Sonnen who goes to Mass at the FSSP Church of San Gregorio. He has enthusiasm for all things Roman, for baroque, and especially for the Latin language. He has several posts on Reggie whose response to his expulsion will not surprise any of his former students:
I'm taking this opportunity to announce the founding of a new Latin institute in Rome! We don't yet have a place to meet yet, but I'll keep you all informed! Latin lives!
The blog is also full of great photographs from Rome. While looking through the archives, I picked up this illustration which I have not seen before:

Copyright and the Liturgy

Jeff Miller (the Curt Jester) has a post about copyright and various examples of the USCCB enforcing their copyright of the New American Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I remember when the Catechism was published in England that a Catholic software provider got exclusive permission to provide it electronically and another guy who sold it on a CD for not much more than the price of the CD got hunted and closed down. Then, of course, the Vatican spoiled the game by publising the text on its website and in a Word document on the website for the Congregation for the Clergy. (You can still get it there - see this catechism page to download it.

This is a problem that the Congregation for Divine Worship might want to consider. It used to be that publisher of a liturgical or other ecclesiastical text could always get permission to use the text provided that it was true to the original. Liturgical texts had to get a Concordat cum originali declaration. The result was that beautiful missals were produced by many different publishers.

With the ICEL translation, not only did we have to put up with the bad text; the books that carried it were of very poor quality. It seems that this is set to continue as I understand that the copyright for the new ICEL will be given to the national episcopal conferences.

Would it not be a much better idea for the text to be posted on the Vatican website? Publishers could be free to produce fine quality missals. It is a good sign that Pope Benedict has insisted that the Compendium be decorated with fine illustrations. Sadly, our Missals have not been well served in this respect, not to mention the quality of the paper and the binding.

A further consideration is the development represented by the personal computer, the internet and printers. With a little care, it is possible to produce good quality cards with liturgical texts on. I use my own for the crematorium and cemetery instead of thumbing through the useless and user-hostile "Order of Christian Funerals" book. If the texts of the Missal, the Ritual and the Lectionary were publicly available on the internet, it would also be much easier for people to provide good quality booklets for special occasions.

The need for a standard missal at the time of Pius V was made urgent by the advent of the printing press and the possiblity of errors being widely reproduced. Placing a text on the Vatican website provides a new way of ensuring accuracy. There may be some mistakes in teh original but these can be easily corrected if there is the opportunity for feedback. And an electronic copy will at least not introduce new errors.

Oh, and while I'm presuming to give advice to the CDW, and while universal permission is the flavour of the month, why not give permission for any priest in an English-speaking territory to use the RSV Lectionary as recently produced by Ignatius Press but only licit for use in the Antilles?

Monday, 16 October 2006

Pregnancy as marital fulfilment

Below is the text of a letter to the Editor of Faith Magazine. Valeria Manca has just given birth to her tenth baby - mother and baby pictured here with permission (the picture was taken 40 minuts after the birth.) I have just heard from Fr Hugh MacKenzie, a friend of the family, that the first eight children are very excited with new addition (though the eldest, Matteo, at University in Rome, has only seen her via a webcam.) Cecilia, aged one and a half, is the only one a bit fazed, and trying to poke the new 'competitor' in the eye and ear.

(I've got to say that this photo makes me feel OLD. Mother of ten!!!)

Pregnancy as Marital Fulfillment

Dear Fr. Editor,

Thank you for a very interesting March-April issue.

As the mother of a fairly large family, I found in it a lot of inspiration and much needed comfort. We can associate with some of Fiorella Nash’s experiences of pregnancy in modern England. Also my husband and I are often at the centre of arguments on sexual morality, sometimes with family and friends, sometimes strangely enough with people we have only just been introduced to.

The fact that we have many children seems to be just excuse to inquire about our intimate life, like whether we know about contraception, or to assume we are fanatics, or to make a few jokes. Even though we should be used to it by now, we can’t always think of a simple answer that is both true and charitable. The truth can seem complex. But as your editorial brings out our world suffers from the complexities of being fallen.

Whilst we don’t particularly find fault in the lives of those we meet at the school gate or in the office corridor they often seem to find clever objections to our lifestyle. We are the ones who must justify ourselves. Imagine being asked detailed questions about your financial capacity whilst standing on the pavement kerb by a mother whose only link with you is the fact the her Johnny is in your class.

Here’s a few other questions we’ve fielded:

If contraception is usually wrong, is it always wrong. Thanks to Fr Dylan James for helping us with that one and other interesting issues.

Is the prophylactic use of condoms the same as the artificially contraceptive use? That one often comes up in relation to Aids and African countries. Luke Gormally’s gives a very clear if somewhat graphic answer.

Is holding back one’s fertility morally more wrong than holding back on other aspects of our loving, as nobody is perfect?

I also liked the introduction of the shorter articles (as my attention span is not what it used to be, blame it on the kids!).

I especially enjoyed Fr. Timothy Russ’s article on the finality of marriage. Sometimes the hardest question to answer at point blank range is how many children are we planning on having? To paraphrase Timothy Russ, “marriage is more than a matter of rational collaboration, it is the recognition that we are dealing with God’s plan, with something bigger than we first understand.”

Valeria Manca

Video of Rosary Crusade

I knew Joee Blogs would come up with the goods. Here is his video of the Rosary Crusade. He's worried about the quality being "naff" but that doesn't matter - it was a bright sunny day and there's no need to bump it up to full screen. But as Joe says, the vid certainly gives you the idea of the scale of the procession.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

A daunting experience

Preaching in the Oratory is a daunting experience at the best of times. The preacher is escorted by the MC about a third of the way down the lengthy nave and then has to climb a steep set of stairs to look over the congregation.

Yesterday, several things combined to make the experience even more nerve-wracking. The first was that the Church was so full. That is not so bad in itself but being six feet off the ground does rather bring it home. Then the stand for the preacher's notes was a little too high for my five-feet-six frame. I did have a quick go at adjusting it but when it didn't move easily, I thought I had better leave it. There is also the adjustment that needs to be made for amplification in such a large space - you have to speak more slowly and pause more if it is not to become garbled (at least I think so!)

The most difficult thing, though was that this was one of those times when God says "Right, Finigan, let's bring you down to size a bit and make you depend on me a bit more!" I can normally read 12-point type OK without my reading glasses, although I rely on them more and more nowadays for reading books. Yesterday, for some reason, perhaps the bright sun followed by the relatively dark interior of the Church, perhaps fatigue, I just could not read the text clearly. I knew the sermon well enough to continue but was rather struggling at various points.

Today's parish sermon was bumped up to 14-point.

Sermon on homosexuality

Today I finally got round to giving a sermon on the Catholic teaching on homosexuality. Not something that I would particularly choose to do except for the widespread promotion of homosexuality among young people as simply an alternative lifestyle.

If we never speak about the Church's teaching in this area, youngsters simply believe whatever is the last thing they heard on the telly.

I was just going to do a whole series on moral issues but I think I will intersperse it with other topics - otherwise it becomes just a bit too depressing. Perhaps I'll talk about Our Lady or the Sacred Heart next week.

Other posts on Rosary Crusade

There were at least four of the UK Catholic blogging scene at the Rosary Crusade. Just had a quick look round to see any other posts.

So far, I have found ones from Mac at Mulier Fortis, Auntie Joanna
Joee Blogs has a video of the procession.

If you see any more, please drop the link in the combox and I'll update this post.

Rosary Crusade Report

The Rosary Crusade of Reparation yesterday was an overwhelming expression of Catholic devotion in the heart of London. About 2,000 people walked in procession from Westminster Cathedral to the London Oratory, saying the Rosary and singing hymns. The Metropolitan Police ably escorted the procession, stopping the traffic at the various junctions and clearing the roads as the throng of people wound their way past the embassies in Belgravia and the chic shops of Sloane Street. Chanel, Prada, Christian Dior, Gucci, Hermes and Versace all gazed at Our Lady of Fatima, then Harvey Nichols and Harrods where the anti-fur campaigners were briefly drowned out by the Ave Maria.

The procession was led by the processional cross, young servers, the young men of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood, the Knights of Malta and the clergy. In the picture below, you can see Andrew Swampillai, Fr Wadsworth (purple pom-pom on the biretta), Jamie Bogle, Fr Philip de Freitas, myself and Fr Basden (of Clapham Park). Talking to the marshals is Commander Neville McNally.

The Crusade involved "people of every race and language". There were Philipinos, Sri Lankans, Indians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Spanish, Colombian, Canadians, Jamaicans, and who knows ... Birettas were not the only headgear in evidence. For this occasion, Mantillas were also commonplace - everyone was able to express their Catholic faith and devotion. It was great also to see a number of seminarians from Wonersh who had come to the procession on their day off. Many thanks to John Chandler who kindly agreed to take some photographs on my camera.

The principal statue of Our Lady of Fatima was carried in pride of place. However, people brought other statues and crucifixes and lots of different banners to walk in procession.

After the people flocked into the Oratory through all the available doors, took up all the seats and standing room round the Church, the procession entered. Pictured below, in the uniform of the Knights of Malta, is Julian Chadwick, the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society. The LMS made all the practical arrangements for the procession including marshalling and stewarding, contacting the police who provided outriders to stop the traffic, and all the publicity and materials for the people.

Gordon Dimon, the LMS Master of Ceremonies looked after the procession itself. Once we were inside the Oratory, the Oratory MC took over, assisted by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood. At the Oratory, there were more hymns, a sermon, enrolment in the brown scapular, a "Farewell" to Our Lady and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Below, we see Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe preparing to incense the statue of Our Lady of Fatima which had been carried by members of the Catholic Police Guild.

Below is a view of the full Oratory Church with myself in the magnificent pulpit, preaching to a vast congregation. More about that shortly (it was terrifying!)

The Crusade concluded with Benediction, given by Fr Ronald Creighton-Jobe and assisted by Fr Rupert McHardy as Deacon, and Fr Michael Lang as Subdeacon. After Benediction, we processed to the Lady Chapel where the Salve Regina was sung. And I mean sung! It was a moment to warm the heart of any good Catholic. About 2,000 people, kept in time by the splendid organ, bellowing out this ancient chant in Latin, honouring our Blessed Mother with their full hearts and voices.

This occasion must rank as one of the most splendid manifestations of Catholic faith in our country in recent years. The numbers have been swelled by the immigrant Catholics who have come to form part of the Catholic Church in London. At the same time, the clipped tones of the English middle and upper classes demonstrated that the Church is truly Catholic. There was no snobbery here - and no inverted snobbery. All were as one, witnessing to the faith they love, taking Our Lady onto the streets of London, and filling a Church that represents the high-point of English Catholic restoration - and not only in the 19th century.

I would encourage anyone who is dismayed by the falling numbers of clergy, or massgoers, or marriages, to come next year. This event neither seeks nor receives any official encouragement or support. If any ecclesial activity could be said to be of the people of God, it is this. You want to see the Church alive and kicking? Here is where the action is.

Rosary Crusade Sermon

Here is the text of the sermon I gave yesterday at the London Oratory for the Rosary Crusade of Reparation.

The Triumph of Mary Immaculate

Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array? (Song 6.10)

At the visitation, St Elizabeth and the pre-born John the Baptist rejoiced in the presence of Jesus Christ, then an embryo of a few days. St Elizabeth also showed respect to our Lady: “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?” Our Blessed Mother’s immediate response was to use this prayer as a direct channel for the praise of God. “My soul magnifies the Lord...”

She is ever the same. She is a most sure route to our Blessed Lord “To Jesus through Mary” is the unfailing path of our prayers. If we think of the miracle of the sun, and the 70,000 people there including atheists, freemasons and communists, awed by her power with God, we should have a great confidence and trust in the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, the Mediatrix of all graces.

She can accomplishes the seemingly impossible. We might think, for example, that is is impossible to bring our Muslim brothers and sisters to Christ, so strong is their devotion to Islam. We should, in this connection, remember the advice of the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whom we may piously hope will be raised to the altars if it is God’s will, said,
“Missionaries in the future will, more and more, see that their apostolate among the Muslims will be successful in the measure that they preach Our Lady of Fatima. Mary is the advent of Christ, bringing Christ to the people before Christ Himself is born. In any apologetic endeavour, it is always best to start with that which people already accept. Because the Muslims have a devotion to Mary, our missionaries should be satisfied merely to expand and to develop that devotion, with the full realisation that Our Blessed Lady will carry the Muslims the rest of the way to her Divine Son. She is forever a traitor" in the sense that she will not accept any devotion for herself, but will always bring anyone who is devoted to her to her Divine Son. As those who lose devotion to her lose belief in the Divinity of Christ, so those who intensify devotion to her gradually acquire that belief.”
The difference now, of course is that we are all missionaries and the mission territory is our own country.

Sadly, in our Church, we can see that the spiritual battle to which St Paul urges us, is in many places not being fought. The truth with which we should gird our loins, has been exchanged for “values clarification”; instead of the shield of faith, we have the ragged flag of human opinion which will not “quench the flaming darts of the evil one” but give them fuel; the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit have become the baseball cap of earthly comfort and the walking stick of the spiritually infirm.

I have been told before, and I expect some of you have, that we should not be frightened of change.

No, my dear people, we should not be frightened of change. We must labour unceasingly to bring about change. We must change from being a Church where the confessionals are empty to a Church where the balm of divine mercy is sought and received regularly. We must change from being a Church where the prophetic teaching of Humanae Vitae is glossed over in silence to a Church where the sanctity of life and the truth of Christian marriage are known, recognised and lived. We must change from a Church where the sacred liturgy is reduced to a shabby form of entertainment to a Church where the solemn and reverent conduct of the rites takes us out of ourselves and into the realm of the divine.

And let us pray indeed that our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict will indeed use his supreme apostolic authority to grant that freedom which will inaugurate a genuine renewal of liturgical life in the Church.

We must work with determination, confident in the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, to fill our Churches, Confessionals and Seminaries, to baptise the children of generous couples whose began their “partnership” at the altar, and to create the problem of increasing the number of Masses rather than the doleful fatalism of planning for a Church with fewer priests.

Most of all, my dear people, as we know only too well, we must ourselves change by making use of the abundant grace God and the powerful prayers of Our Lady of Fatima. Let there be no compromise in our lives with the spirit of the world in which we pass but a few short years. May Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart summon us early in the morning to begin the day with that humble prayer that pierces the clouds. May she triumph in us to overcome every temptation to sin. May the love with which she received our Blessed Lord draw us to him in the Mass – daily if we possibly can. May her gentle and compassionate heart lead us to the confessional to draw on that undeserved balm of forgiveness for our sins.

Here today, in a short time, we will kneel and bow down in adoration before the greatest gift of God to man, the real and substantial presence of the Word of God made flesh, coming to be with us, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed sacrament. “To Jesus through Mary!” Her Immaculate Heart will triumph in us if we have the courage to consecrate ourselves to her with our whole being. United with her, we will be able to draw from the Blessed Sacrament all the graces that our Lord wishes to give us today.

Our Lady wishes to triumph again in England which was once her dowry and known throughout the world as a place of signal devotion to her. For that triumph, she needs us to be saints. We must be satisfied with nothing less. Let us ask her, here and now, today, to help us set out determinedly on that path of holiness and never to give up the struggle, never to flinch in the fight, never to rest in carrying the cross, never to seek any comfort other than that of loving her for the sake of her Son.

Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray for us!

Friday, 13 October 2006

Corriere poll on Latin Mass

I have just received news of an Online poll being conducted by the Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's leading daily newspapers

The question is: "Siete favorevoli al ritorno della messa in latino?" (Are you in favour of the return of the Mass in Latin?)

"Si" means "Yes".

When I looked just now, there were 64.6% in favour and 35.4% against with 25129 people having voted.

I know that it doesn't say "Classical Rite" and that we can already have Mass in Latin but it's worth voting anyway. The link goes to a story about the current rumour of a forthcoming motu proprio liberalising the Classical Rite.

Forthcoming ordination of Rev Brendan Gerard

Rev Brendan Gerard (Priestly Fraternity of St Peter) will be ordained to the Sacred Priesthood on Sunday 29 October 29, 2006, in Linz, Austria.

After his ordination, he will be saying the following Masses in December in the London area:
  • Thursday December 28, 12.30 p.m. Low Mass of the feast of the Holy Innocents. St Bede's.
  • Friday December 29, 3 p.m. Solemn Mass of the feast of St Thomas Becket. Catholic Church of St Mary and St Ethelburga, Linton Road, Barking, Essex.
There are also Masses in Edinburgh where he will be for two weeks. He will be singing the regular, scheduled Sunday Masses in St Andrew's Church on November 26 and December 3, and in the house chapel at 6 Belford Park at 6pm for the Immaculate Conception (Fri Dec 8).

If you need directions, go to the UK website of the FSSP and click 'Mass schedules'. Nearer the time, you can telephone for times of weekday Masses.

PFG and the new religion

The Parents Faith Group in my parish has reinvented itself this term. We are now meeting about twice a half term with people taking it in turns to host the meeting and do lunch. Today, we were at Helen's and were treated to a delicious pasta bake with tuna, tomato, olives and capers.

We discussed what subjects ought to be tackled in the forthcoming sessions. Deeper knowledge of the scriptures was one request and the Pam Stenzel DVD "Sex has a price tag" will probably be on the agenda for one of the sessions - it's a most helpful presentation for any family with teenage children. The whole question of the occult, especially mediums and contacting the dead often comes up as well - this brings in lots of basic Catholic teaching about the human person, angels and demons, the communion of saints and the four last things. I think that some lives of the Saints would also go down well.

I have noticed in schools recently that diet and recycling seem to have assumed an enormous importance. I was surprised to find out from the parents that teenagers in secondary schools who bring in their own packed lunch from home are forbidden to include crisps. Fizzy drinks are banned in the boys' school but one of the mums explained that this is because they throw the cans at each other so that is fair enough. Mind you, this can't be the real reason for banning Lilt because the now obligatory bottles of mineral water also make good missiles. (Actually the ones with the "sports cap" also make effective water pistols.)

Of course, anti-crisp monitoring and classroom cardboard collections are nothing to do with the schools themselves - they probably find the whole thing a wretched nuisance. It is all part of the Every Child Matters agenda of our ever-expanding Government. Compliance with this is inspected by OFSTED who will want evidence so that they can tick all the relevant boxes. (This is not a metaphor - there is a table with boxes that appears in the published report.)

We really have all the makings of a good secular religion here - the ten commandments are replaced by the five desired outcomes; a creed would not be that difficult to formulate around the trinity of diet, recycling and sex-education; sacraments are a cinch; and prayer - well we could meditate in front of an ikon of the rainforest or the ozone layer with cermonial sips of water every five minutes (perhaps chewing penitentially on a cereal bar.) I'm just waiting for a teenager to come to confession and say:
"Bless me, father, for I have sinned. On two occasions, I consumed saturated fats, I only drank 1 litre of water yesterday and I put my copy of FHM in with the household rubbish. For these an all my other sins which I cannot now remember, I beg the forgiveness of the earth, healing and wholeness from you my spiritualist father."

Thursday, 12 October 2006

Not Dead Yet

And immediately a hat tip! Via Credo, I found the website of Not Dead Yet, an organisation of people with disabilities who are opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide. It is related to the Euthanasia Blues video I posted yesterday. The site is quite hard-hitting and includes articles, fact-sheets and a "Journalists' Hall of Shame"

A UK branch of Not Dead Yet was formed in May 2006 by Dame Jane Campbell.

Credo blog

It appears that a certain Scots blog has reappeared from the ashes of an old one under the new name of Credo. Well worth a place on your blogroll.

Best of St Blogs UK meme

Mac at Mulier Fortis has tagged me with this one.

1. Favourite blog post from my own blog
I feel that the most worthwhile posts are those where I have tried to contribute something not already on other blogs. Passing on information is an important part of the St Blog's Community life but an original piece is very satisfying, especially if people find it helpful or entertaining. So I was pleased with the photo shoots of Parkminster (August archives passim) and the CIEL conference (September archive.) But writing helpfully is more difficult and I was happy that the piece on Indulgences not impossible was found useful. (There should perhaps be a "serious" and "silly" section here. For the silly section, I enjoyed writing How to woo Eccleston Square officials, and Buckled Shoes on Trial but they were both greeted with a respectful and perhaps embarrassed silence.)

In view of the responses and other posts it generated, I think my favourite must be the post on Creative Liturgy.

2. Favourite blog post from another UK blogger
Fr Nicholas at the Roman Miscellany writes so many excellent scholarly pieces that it is difficult to pick out just one. By way of example, I enjoyed finding out about the Legend of St Leopold and reading the fascinating illustrated post on rochets. In Hoc Signo Vinces has already put Joee Blogs' Very rushed post with the photos outside Westminster Cathedral as his entry for this category. As an alternative, I have to choose between any number of Aunty Joanna's. I particularly liked this one which includes a talk to a Methodist women's group, plug for proper children's books, recommendations for libraries, and a complaint about the weather which is quintessential Joanna:
I want cold: I want crisp, fresh mornings. I want the pleasure of hot drinks after a cold walk. I want pleasant Autumn clothes and decent shoes instead of squashy sandals. I want buses and trains in which one doesn't feel like a chicken being roasted. I want a faint smell of frost, and golden leaves falling from trees.
3. Favourite UK Catholic website
Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. (Only joking!) I am presuming that this does not include blogs so Radiant Light is certainly one of my favourites as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children for the news section, the Parliamentary Answers service and the quality of information. But I think on balance, I must choose St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster.

I think most of the small community of English Catholic bloggers have been tagged by now. If you haven't, consider this an open invitation.
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