Monday, 31 December 2007

New Year Plenary Indulgences

A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful under the usual conditions who devoutly assist at the singing or recition of:

The Te Deum on the lst day of the year to give thanks to God for benefits received during the past year.
The Veni Creator on 1 January to implore divine help during the coming year.

As ever, do see my post Plenary Indulgences not impossible if you are worried about the conditions

In my parish, we have a Vigil from 11pm tonight. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed; we say the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and then the Office of Readings (in English) from the Liturgia Horarum, concluding with the Te Deum sung in Latin.

Tomorrow, we will sing the Veni Creator in Latin after Mass.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Monsignor Heliodore Mejak RIP

Many thanks to Lee in the combox for the link to this post on Kansas City Catholic which has an obituary of Monsignor Heliodore Mejak, 1909-2007. Father Mejak ("he disdained any title except Father") was the world's longest-serving pastor (that would be "parish priest" in the UK), 63 years in the same parish: Holy Family, Kansas. At age 98, he continued to say Mass every day in the Church. He died on Christmas morning. He loved his parishioners and his parishioners loved him. May God now give him the reward of his labours and say to him
"Euge serve bone, et fidelis: quia super pauca fuisti fidelis, super multa te constituam; intra in gaudium domini tui."
Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many: enter into the joy of your Lord.
Of course, he would want us all to pray for him as well, that God may forgive any sins he committed through human frailty.

Among the many good things in this heartwarming tribute from one of his parishioners, one point caught my eye : Father Mejak
was very proud that his parish had no paid employees and was staffed entirely by volunteers.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

How not to discern your vocation

I'll be honest: I have only watched the first half of this video. YouTube seems to be interminably slow at the moment. The first half was good, though, and we haven't had a video here for a while.

H/T Catholic Tube

How others see us

Some time ago I was hearing confessions after Mass and there was so much noise in the Church from people talking that I could not actually hear the penitent clearly. I decided it was really time I exercised some pastoral authority in the matter. I hope that I was reasonably kindly in explaining to people over many weeks about the importance of respectful quiet in the Church.

I reminded people that Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament and that the Church is the House of God. Everywhere else in Blackfen, including nowadays the local library, we can talk to each other. In the Church we should be talking to God. Whilst it is good for us to meet and greet each other and make friends before and after Mass outside the Church, in the Hall or the Social Club, the Church is the one place that is set aside for prayer. I said that conversations held in the Church make it difficult for others to pray, that is was a good thing to make a preparation before and thanksgiving after Mass and that we should allow people to use the Church for this purpose. From that time, I have tried to ensure that I always say some prayers in the sanctuary before and after every Mass.

It took a little while but now people are used to the Church being quiet before Mass. There is still some ground to cover in the period after Mass but I think it is a bit quieter.

Anyway, it seems to have been noticed. The Mother of a very good family in the parish told me that they went to another parish on Christmas Eve to attend the Vigil Mass with relatives. The Church was full and everyone was talking - there was quite a bit of noise. The young daughter turned to Mum and whispered "Fr Finigan would have a fit!"

Families and peace

For the Feast of the Holy Family today, I spoke about a theme from the Message of Pope Benedict for the World Day of Peace. The Holy Father said that:
Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace.
As a priest who regularly hears the confessions of children, I know that children often fight with each other and argue with their parents: this might seem to contradict the Holy Father's optimism.

But I think he is absolutely right. One simple way that parents exercise their authority and teach peace is to tell children "No!" or "Stop that!" From parental correction, children learn what is right and wrong. Good parents also, of course, explain things and teach children what is good and holy too. But ultimately, if Caius is pulling Livia's hair, Mum or Dad has to tell him to stop it.

The importance of the family is that this injunction is given by one who loves the child and for whom the child has a natural and deep-seated love in return. The moral education that a parent can give is far more effective because of this mutual love. The various possible alternatives to the family that social dreamers have proposed from time to time have all been disastrous failures. In the sad case that a child has to be taken into public care, the authority of carers is never more than a very poor second best, however good they are. Even the most secularist will accept that "foster care" of some sort is better than anything even further removed from the natural family.

The Holy Father has used this World Day of Peace to underline the point that the family is essential to a peaceful society,
The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their words. (n.3)
and that therefore
whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Kathy's Real Story

Many people have heard of Kathy's Story, "The True Story of a Childhood Hell Inside Ireland's Magdalen Laundries" which alleged that she was abused by her father, experimented upon in a psychiatric hospital, raped by priests and then slammed up in a Magdalene Laundry where she had a baby at 14. Investigative journalist, Hermann Kelly has now written Kathy's Real Story which claims to cast light on the "destructive culture of false allegations hurting innocent people in Ireland." The publisher's information continues:
This book examines some of the most notorious accusations against lay and religious people in both Ireland and Britain, and explores if they stand up to close scrutiny and police investigation; it also looks at what effect a €1bn Government compensation scheme has had. The book rounds off with a quick-paced ride through global best-sellers which have turned out to be literary frauds.
Well I'll certainly want to read a copy of that.

Hat tip to Credo, Catholic Journal - a good and sound Irish Catholic blog that I had not seen before. Good to have Ireland on the blogroll!

Pharisaism in realtime

On the question of Tony Blair's reception into the Church, there is a standard response which comes up from time to time in comboxes. A friend rang me today to talk about a sermon he had heard along the same lines.

Are we not being ungenerous with Tony Blair? Should we not respect his conscience? Are we not all sinners and didn't Jesus eat with tax collectors and prostitutes? Etc. The word "pharisee" is quite often bandied about in the context.

Jesus did indeed sharply criticise the scribes and pharisees of his day for their hypocrisy. He particularly focussed on their failure to act in practice in accord with what they said they believed. The pharisees said one thing and did another. The sinners, on the other hand, were honest about their lives. What they said and did were in accord. Zacchaeus, for example, publicly promised to make amends for the wrong that he had done in the past.

When a person is received into the Catholic Church, they say solemnly and publicly that they believe and profess all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God. Commentators have written on this story from both ends of the political spectrum, and from various shades of theological opinion. One thing that nobody seriously believes is that Blair has changed his mind on abortion, euthanasia by neglect, the destruction of human embryos, or gay marriage. Nor have they been given any reason to think that he has - either from Blair himself or from any official spokesman for the Church in England and Wales. For a "Church source" to say "Whatever he previously believed or did is a matter for individual conscience" is pharisaism in realtime.

Andrew Pierce in today's Telegraph has a refreshingly honest take on the matter. As "an adopted gay man", Pierce disagrees with what he characterises as the Church's "bigoted stance on homosexuality" and he says that along with Blair, he too was thrilled at the change in the law that allowed same-sex partnerships. However, his quite reasonable question is How can Tony Blair become a Roman Catholic? Don't hold your breath waiting for an honest answer.

Friday, 28 December 2007

I Wonder as I Wandsworth

After getting a certain amount of paperwork done in the parish today, I took the underground from North Greenwich to Waterloo, the overground from Waterloo to Clapham Junction, and then the 337 bus to join Fr Martin Edwards, the parish priest of St Mary Magdalen's, and a number of other clergy and students for a Christmas Octave reception kindly hosted in the presbytery. Among the guests were Fr Stephen Langridge from Balham, Fr John O'Toole from the Christian Education Centre, Fr Michael Branch from Plumstead, Fr Peter Gee from Stockwell, and Deacon Fidelis Chukwu, one of my former students. Pictured above to the left are Frs Christopher Basden, parish priest of Clapham Park, and Fr Ignatius Harrison, Provost of the London Oratory.

To the right is a picture of the two parish priests of Wandsworth, Fr Gerry Ewing from St Thomas a Becket parish in East Hill (Happy feast day for tomorrow!) together with Fr Edwards of West Hill. Fr Gerry Ewing is explaining to Fr Edwards that he is unable to stay for our carol in front of the crib. I promised that I would post a picture of the crib for him to see later, so here it is: and very fine too!

Among the students present was one fine young man from the NAC who had to grab Fr Edwards' skull cap to hide a sneeze just as the photo was taken so that, happily, his modesty as a seminarian, eschewing any unnecessary publicity on a blog such as this, was preserved:

The sanctuary of St Mary Magadalen's is decked out in all its splendour for the Christmas Octave. Fr Edwards explains to visitors that he is unfortunately not able to celebrate Mass versus populum because of the arrangement of the altar.

Denis Riches RIP

It was sad to hear just before Christmas, of the death of Denis Riches, a great campaigner for the family who, together with his wife, Valerie, founded Family Publications to publish and distribute good books.

Denis's campaigning work was conducted through Family and Youth Concern. The regular newsletter of FYC is always helpful with well-documented articles that can be quoted with references in response to the moral challenges that our secular society presents.

Some months ago, I referred briefly to the joint biography of Denis and his wife, Valerie (Women, Cardinals, supporting the family). Looking through this again, I am struck by the vehemence of the reaction to the "Responsible Society" which was shortly renamed "Family and Youth Concern". Denis tells of how speakers were pelted with eggs, he was described as a "third rate drag artist" (which he found amusing) and family campaigners were labelled "cranks and killjoys". As he said "there are none so illiberal as liberals in power".

I remember the publication of the excellent pamphlet "Sex and Social Engineering" and agree with Denis's judgement that this was a landmark. Solidly researched, it marked the beginning of the fight back against secularist moral degradation which continues to our day. The joint biography, as well as being a charming story of two people who continued to love and cherish one another in Christian marriage, documents some of the most important developments in Britain's moral decline - and the efforts of those who opposed it.

I count it a privilege to have known Denis Riches. He was a perfect gentleman. By this, I do not mean simply that he had good manners. He retained those moral values which are the bedrock of a solid Christian society. As a gentleman, he was willing to fight for those values in the public square despite being vilified, ridiculed and threatened. He understood that when faced with evil, one must exercise Christian charity in the proclamation of the truth. His life's work was a practical living-put of the preaching of Pope Benedict that justice and tolerance cannot be achieved except by proclaiming and living the truth "in season and out of season". During his life, the truth of Christian family values was "out of season" but he never wavered in upholding that truth manfully, whatever the cost.

May he rest in peace and receive the reward of his labours.

Limerick Church to become spa and leisure centre

It has often struck me that places such as Bluewater shopping centre and Gym-spa-health clubs are rather like modern pagan temples. Sad then, to see plans for a real Church to become a temple to the new religion.

The Irish Times reports on the sale of the Sacred Heart Church, Limerick, to developer John O'Dolan for 4 million euros. (Roman baths: new plan for former Jesuit church). An application for purchase was also lodged by a tradionalist group who wished to use the Church as a centre for the Traditional Latin Mass.

The article outlines Architect John Kennedy's plans for the Church. They will involve "very little alteration to the church" and "virtually all of the fabric of the existing structure" will be retained, including all five altars. The nave of the Church will become a swimming pool surrounded by a glass wall so that people can still see the High Altar. also at ground level will be a restaurant and juice bar. The gym itself will be on a new floor, five metres above ground level. Here is a photo of the interior of the Church so that you can picture it all in your mind's eye:

O'Dolan apparently thought that it would be a nice idea to ask the Latin Mass Society of Ireland (LMSI) to come and say Mass from time to time. Their press release in response to the plans for the Church is headed Limerick group condemns grotesque O'Dolan plan Vicky Nestor, Chair of the LMSI, said "It's grotesque to think that we could fit the most sacred ceremonies of our religion around a swimming pool."

Gillibrand has a brief parish history with a detailed description of the Church (Grotesque decision by Jesuits turns Church into swimming pool). It is heartbreaking to read it.

O'Dolan may be sincere in his desire to retain the altars but this is wrong because they contain relics of the saints and have been the resting place of the Sacred Body and Blood of the Lord. The altars, statues and other sacred artefacts from the Church should be removed and given to people who will be glad to take proper care of them.

The Irish Jesuit weekly newsletter, AMDG Express, has a two DVD set for sale. The first DVD has the "Closing Mass" and the second has memories of the Church from Jesuits and local people.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Papal MC explains the papal liturgy

NLM has some text from an Interview with Msgr. Guido Marini, the Papal MC who took over from his homonymous predecessor recently. The interview gives some thoughtful background to the beautiful photographs that have been circulating the Catholic blogosphere recently. At this blog, we were particularly moved to read the following extract:
Let's get back to the symbolic aspects. What vestments will the Pope wear?

Above all, it must be underscored that the vestments chosen, like some details of the rites themselves, are meant to underscore the continuity of the present liturgy with that which characterized the traditional liturgy of the Church.

The hermeneutic of continuity is always the right criterion for interpreting the course of the Church in time. This goes for the liturgy as well.

Just as a Pope cites his predecessors in his documents, to show the continuity of the magisterium, a Pope also does the same in the liturgical sense when he uses the vestments and sacred accessories that previous Popes have used, to indicate the same continuity in the lex orandi.

Thus during the Christmas season liturgies, Pope Benedict XVI will be wearing miters that belonged to Benedict XVI, John XXIII, John Paul I and John Paul II.
Marini also has something important to say about the crucifix that many bloggers have noticed placed centrally on the altar when the Holy Father says Mass:
The Crucifix on the altar indicates the centrality of the Cross in the eucharistic celebration, which is the precise orientation that the congregation is called on to have during the liturgy. We do not look at each other - we look at Him who was born, died and resurrected for us, the Savior.
Let's get that in big letters, stamped and burnt into our consciousness:

[during the Liturgy]
We do not look at each other -
we look at Him who was born, died
and resurrected for us,
the Saviour

Remember - this applies to every celebration of the Mass - old rite or new rite.

Pope to mandate appointment of exorcists?

From another Italian news source, Petrus, comes the speculation that the Holy Father will issue and instruction obliging Diocesan Bishops to appoint exorcists. (Prossima un'istruzione del Papa per aumentare il numero degli esorcisti?) Thanks to Rorate Caeli for the notice of this and for their translation of this section of the article:
...Benedict XVI ... would intend to providentially deal [with the problem of diabolic forces] with an instruction, which could be published in the first months of the next year, which would determine that Diocesan Bishops...all over he world to confer the mandate to perform exorcisms to a stable number of their priests. There have not been official confimations by the Vatican, being just a rumor for the time being.
One commenter asked whether it would take 50 priests to constitute a stable group. surely there is no need to specify numbers - just specify that there must be the same number of exorcists in the diocese as the number that need to ask for the Classical Mass before it will be mandated ;-)

Interestingly, the article continues with the suggestion that the Holy Father will also encourage the recitation of the Prayer to St Michael after Mass. I was very pleased to read this because some time ago, I introduced the Leonine prayers after all weekday Masses in the parish.

Below are the Leonine Prayers for any priest who wants to use them after Mass in their parish. The form was always for the priest to go directly to kneel on the step at the foot of the altar as soon as Mass was finished and lead the people in saying the prayers. (Of course, lay people can say them privately if they are not said publicly.)
Hail Mary (three times)
Hail Holy Queen ...

Let us pray.
O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Holy Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to hell satan and all the wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us. (three times)

Palazzo Apostolico blog

Fr Z puts us onto a most interesting blog, Palazzo, the Vatican diary of Paolo Rodari.

Today's article speaks of a new year for the Holy Father, both in terms of theology and appointments (Un nuovo anno per il Papa: tra teologia e nomine). Rodari raises the question of whether Archbishop Ranjith has made too many enemies among those curial monsignori who are "still close to the dictates of Anninbale Bugnini" to be made Prefect of the CDW. To be honest, I don't mind which office he eventually gets - imagine if the great Archbishop were in charge of Bishops or the CDF!

When reading speculation from Italian journalists, you have to remember that they are light years ahead of most English-speaking colleagues in terms of their knowledge of the Church in general and the Vatican in particular. That doesn't mean that they are always right but they are often enough spot on - months ahead of events. Their speculation is still speculation; but it is of a very different quality from the English press.

Here are some of Rodari's suggestions: Archbishop Angelo Amato from the CDF to the Causes of Saints; Mgr Velasio de Paolis possibly to the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See, or possibly to succeed his superior, Cardinal Agostino Vallini as head of the Apostolic Segnatura - if Vallini moves (within a few months) to take over from Cardinal Camillo Ruini at the Apostolic Vicariate of Rome.

In addition to a well-informed post on recent developments in the Papal liturgy, Rodari picked up on the Westminster launch of Archbishop Marini's book in the post L'ultima fatica di Piero Marini nella protestante Inghilterra ("The last ditch effort of Piero Marini in protestant England").Here is a quote (my translation):
As well as Cardinal Murphy O'Connor, a well-nursed squad of vatican dignitaries waited on Marini, among whom was the nuncio to Great Britain, the Spanish monsignore, Faustino Sainz Munoz. The occasion was worthy of note: the presentation with great pomp of his last ditch effort: "A challenging Reform" (una riforma che pone sfide), published by the Liturgical Press. As a swansong, Marini's book was published only in English, as though it were intentionally directed above all to the public of protestant England: a country where experimentation in the liturgical field (even in Catholic circles) has found fertile ground in which it can be sown, grow and then propagate.
Ouch! I told you those Italians knew their stuff.

(I have put Palazzo on the blogroll via bloglines but I am not sure yet whether the feed is working properly.)

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Pope Benedict to the Roman Curia

Last Friday, the Holy Father gave his Christmas address to the Roman Curia. Reviewing the year, he spoke at some length about his visit to Brazil. He used the reflection as an opportunity to answer the question of whether the visit to Aparecida (a pilgrimage site where a miraculous statue of Our Lady is venerated) was an excessive retreat into interiority when we should be occupied with questions of justice. He also dealt with the question of whether we should evangelise today instead of simply working with other faiths for peace. Sandro Magister has a translation of the relevant sections of the address. (Surprise: The Pope Takes the Curia to Brazil)

After speaking more briefly of his other pastoral visits during the year, he concluded (my translation):
We must not deceive ourselves, certainly: the secularism of our times and the pressure of the ideological presumptions to which the secularist conscience tends, with its exclusive claim to definitive rationality, pose no small problem. We know this and we are aware of the burden of the struggle that is imposed on us in these times. But we also know that the Lord keeps his promise: "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world." (Mt 28.20) In this joyful certainty, welcoming the incentive of the reflections of the Aparecida for us also to renew our being with Christ, let us go forward with trust into the New Year. Let us go under the maternal gaze of the Aparecida; of Her as the one designated "handmaid of the Lord". Her protection keeps us safe and full of hope.

Celebrating St Stephen's Day

Our Mass on the feast of St Stephen is always one in which we pay special attention to the altar servers. The Guild of St Stephen has a serious and solemn enrolment ceremony which I use each year, awarding servers with their Guild medals to mark the fact that they have served well and regularly.

The material for my sermon was provided by Elizabeth Wang's book "The Purpose of the Priesthood: A Message from Christ", available from Radiant Light. The book is very much from the perspective of a lay woman inviting priests to reflect on the needs of the laity - to receive the teaching of the magisterium faithfully preached, to be given sound moral and spiritual advice, and to be helped to understand the real presence of Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass. At the end of the book, she proposes three faults that priests should correct: resentment, grumbling (particularly grumbling at God to the detriment of our adoration of him) and irreverence, particularly in Church.

I spoke only about the last item, highlighting the way in which good altar servers help the people to pray by serving Mass devoutly and reverently, thus emphasising the holiness of what is taking place.

(Elizabeth Wang's books are illustrated by simple but doctrinally very effective paintings. The website has an Art Gallery with many examples.)

This afternoon, I joined the Carthusians for their post-Christmas party. This takes place after None and finishes with us all pacing along the cloister briskly to Vespers. I don't usually get to talk to those who are professed and so it is a good opportunity - one brother introduced himself by saying that he hadn't spoken to me yet though I have been next to him in choir each fortnight for nearly two years!

It was great to talk to one elderly Carthusian who joined up in Switzerland during the war and ended up in Parkminster when I was about 4 years old. He was eager to talk to me about a couple of theological questions he had - the research I will need to do to check my answer will be very useful for a lecture I have to give in a few months time. Another chap told me of his work on St Therese of Lisieux: examining her writing in comparison with the phenomenology of Edith Stein. Along with a doctor from Czechoslovakia (it was still that when he left) and a former Jesuit from Japan, you can appreciate that the time between None and Vespers was not really enough. As we all left for Vespers, one of the novices said to me that he had wanted to have a chat but it would have to wait until next year :-)

Vespers was, as ever, awesome. As it is the Christmas Octave, the altar and choir were incensed. The Carthusians do this one-handed with aplomb, each member of the choir getting one swing, and the thurifer moving all the time.

Pope's mitre and seventh candlestick

Having spent an enjoyable afternoon at Parkminster, it is time to look at the latest Papal Liturgy photos. Fr Z noticed a detail in his post Jingle keys, jingle keys, jingle all the way. Having restored the big six and the large crucifix to the altar when celebrating versus populum, the Holy Father has now added the seventh candlestick:

I'll let Fr Z explain:
"But Father! But Father!", some of you are no doubt saying, "What’s with that seventh candle thing anyway? Big deal!"

Yes, it is a big deal. It is a signal to a watching world. Indeed the whole world was watching, too: this was the televised Midnight Mass.

The seventh candle could be used for Pontifical High Mass when celebrated by an Ordinary in his diocese (or by the Pope anywhere, of course). The seventh candle, placed in the middle and in line with the other six, but it should be a little higher. This pushes the crucifix a little out of line… which also emphasizes it, in my opinion. Pope Benedict is acutely sensitive to the position of the Cross during Holy Mass.
Many people have noticed on the excellent mitre that the Pope was wearing. (Notice also the Cardinal's dalmatic.)

Fr Z shows the stemma of Pope John Paul I as evidence that it was his mitre. Here is a remarkable comparison, thanks to the inimitable Papa Ratzinger Forum. First, we see Pope Benedict wearing the mitre for the Urbi et Orbi blessing yesterday:

Then, Pope John Paul I wearing the same mitre - as Cardinal Ratzinger pays his respects:

Having some interest in ecclesiastical headgear, I followed up the link on several blogs to the site devoted to clerical hats: Klerikale Kopfbedeckungen. But I have to confess that I found it a little worrying after the first couple of hundred. I think you probably want to see this as a site for reference rather than for visiting every day :-)

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas!

OK, that's enough for Christmas Eve. Time to say the Office and prepare for Midnight Mass which I am really looking forward to. After the morning Masses tomorrow, I'll be driving over to my sister, Mary, for lunch, games, and presents with her family. I'll be posting again on St Stephen's Day after visiting the Carthusians at Parkminster for what I boast is the most exclusive of all Christmas parties.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas. May God bless you and your families and loved ones. If you have lost someone dear to you and miss them at this time, remember that you are closest to them when you are at Mass. If they still need your prayers, they are helped greatly by them and are full of grateful joy for you remembering them at the Christmas Mass. If they are already in heaven, they rejoice that you are praying and they pray for you.

"Let us await him in a like silence"

Just a reminder on this holy night of that passage from the great Dom Prosper Guéranger regarding the silent canon:
After these words [viz. the Sanctus] commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the Priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the Altar, all is silence. It was thus, says the Book of Wisdom, in the quiet of silence, and while the night was in the midst of her course, that the Almighty Word came down from his royal throne (Wis 18.14-15). Let us await him in a like silence, and respectfully fix our eyes on what the Priest does in the holy place.
I wrote previously about Ratzinger and Guéranger on the silent Canon

Just what "Feast" is that, exactly

"Typical man", I needed to buy some Christmas presents today as I have not got round to putting in an order on Amazon. So I went up to town after hearing confessions this morning to get some good books that I hope my immediate family will like. I also got some chocolate just in case they don't like them.

It was quite spooky visiting London the day before Christmas. Everywhere I went, people were talking about some "Festive season". On the tube, canned announcements advised us at regular intervals to look at the "Festive Travel" leaflet. In MacDonalds, I was going to order the "Festive Wrap" from the "Festive Menu" and ask what it was all about, but thought better of it.

Then a nice young African lady behind the counter greeted me with "Happy Christmas". I thanked her and asked what this "Festival" was that everyone seemed to be talking about. I'm not sure if I went a bit far when I added that Christianity was the only religion that nobody is allowed to mention in Britain today.

On my way home, I got a few things at Sainsburys and popped into Coment since it was next door and I could pick up a couple of peripherals (mouse & speakers) cheaply. I was amused to see that a whole section of the store was labelled "USA Style Fridge Freezers". According to Comet, it is "USA style" to have a six foot tall fridge freezer in tasteful grey. I'd be interested to hear what you guys across the pond think about that ;-)

Pope converts to new Labour

Many thanks to Londiniensis, a regular commenter, for a link to this article from New Biscuit: Pope converts to new Labour. Reporting that the Pope was now convinced of Tony Blair's infallibility, the article does admit that...
... others were more sceptical; ‘There are those who might think that the Pope’s childhood membership of the Hitler Youth would make him unacceptable to New Labour’, said Tony Benn, ‘But then everyone is more left wing when they are young.’
What you won't find on the internet is the follow-up story in the colour supplement "Have Your Cake and Eat It". A representative from a leading gay lobbying group was quoted:
We would, of course, be delighted if the Pope of Rome had genuinely converted to New Labour. However, this man has been on record several times asserting that homosexual acts are a "grave sin". We can find no reason to suppose that he has changed his views and we can only presume that the Pope wants to be a new-Labourite on his own terms.
In reaction to the news, a spokesperson for Planned Abortion International said:
We question the wisdom of Blair's cosying-up to the Pope in this private, hole-in-the-corner new Labour reception ceremony at the private chapel of Chequers. Pro-abortionists who have worked tirelessly for free abortion on demand await some public statement from Benedict to the effect that he no longer adheres to the view of his predecessor that abortion is an "unspeakable crime" which all politicians are obliged to oppose by conscientious objection.
Tony Blair was unavailable for comment but a spokesperson from Eccleston Square Millbank said that it was particularly distasteful during the festive season to pass judgement on the personal conscience of the Bishop of Rome.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Contemplating with Mary the face of Christ

In the parish we had our Crib Service with the children this afternoon. This photo brings to my mind the words of Pope John Paul in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae
To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.

Tony Blair assents to Catholic Church's teaching

The former Prime Minister, Tony Blair has been received into the Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor in the Cardinal's private chapel at Archbishop's House, Westminster. Secular papers could be forgive for referring to this as a "private ceremony" because it was held (understandably) in a context where members of the general public were not freely admitted. However, as Catholics know, every liturgical service is a part of the public worship of the whole Church. This includes the part where Mr Blair (as with anyone being received into full communion with the Catholic Church) was asked to say:
"I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God"
In response to the news of Mr Blair's reception into the Catholic Church, John Smeaton, the National Director of SPUC said:
"During his premiership Tony Blair became one of the world's most significant architects of of the culture of death, promoting abortion, experimentation on unborn embryos, including cloned embryos, and euthanasia by neglect,"
The SPUC Director continued:
"SPUC is writing to Tony Blair to ask him whether he has repented of the anti-life positions he has so openly advocated throughout his political career."
On previous occasions, various commenters have said that we must not judge another individual's conscience. Of course, I agree with them. However, since Mr Blair has, in the public forum, made statements, voted, and taken action publicly in contradiction of Catholic teaching, it reasonable to expect some public disavowal those positions and a reassurance that he now adheres publicly to the Catholic Church's teaching on everything. I pray that SPUC will receive a reply that will reassure Catholics who have been working tirelessly in the pro-life cause.

Daily Telegraph: Tony Blair turns Catholic in private ceremony
Times: Tony Blair finally becomes a Catholic
This is London: Tony Blair converts to Catholicism - as immigration means Britain is now a Catholic country
Guardian: Blair converts to Catholicism

Saturday, 22 December 2007

More on Vatican nativity scene

Zenit has a little background explanation of this year's Vatican Nativity Scene. The article by Carrie Gress's quotes Elizabeth Lev, art expert and Zenit columnist. After explaining that the scene represents St Joseph's experience, Lev explains:
"In the Nativity accounts, a mother figure is always there, but this Nativity makes present the importance of the father figure and the fact that he is essential. It's a reminder that he wasn't born only to a mother, while providing a source of meditation during this time when we are faced with the battle against marriage and the family. It is a good way for the Church, in nonaggressive and nonpolitical way, to remind us of the basis of our understanding of family through the Holy Family.

"This is a Nativity very much of Joseph Ratzinger, a teaching Nativity. Instead of complacently laying out the characters, this year they are being laid out in a way so we have to think about what this momentous birthday means, think about the circumstance in which Jesus is born, while reminding us of Joseph's essential role."
I quite like that. The scene is to be unveiled on Christmas Eve and I look forward to seeing photographs of it.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Colwich Abbey

The other day, I was told about the Colwich Novitiate Blog. I am sorry to say that I had not heard of Colwich Abbey before; it is a Benedictine community of women near Stafford and seems to be thriving. There is also a Colwich Abbey website.

The blog has news of daily life at the Abbey and photos of various events, as well as questions and answers about the life of the community in particular and Benedictine life in general.

No more mister anonymous

Blogger now allows people to use something called "Open ID". This means that you can log in to comment using any open ID, including Typekey and Wordpress. The Blogger website has more information.

I have now turned on the option that means you have to use an ID when commenting. You can still make one up, of course, but you have to give yourself a name and not just anonymous. It was always annoying to have four different anonymouses commenting on the same post.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

"Jesus Comes to Me" first Communion course

The ever trustworthy and excellent Family Publications have recently published "Jesus Comes to Me", by Dora Nash, a book to help parents, catechists, and teachers prepare children to receive their first Holy Communion.

This is a really good resource for first Communion catechesis. The text is simple and straightforward, completely orthodox and child-friendly. Dora is an experienced teacher and her expertise shows through in the details of this book. There are exercises for the children to complete and even a cut-out-n-vest priest. I heartily recommend this for parishes.

Jesus Comes to Me is available priced £6.50 from Family Publications. (Bulk quantity discount are available for schools and parishes.)

Global warming lunacy

Hilary put me onto A Tangled Web which now goes onto the "political" section of my blogroll. Just to be clear: I do not endorse such blogs, just find them interesting and occasionally helpful.

Have a look at the post "The Great Manmade Global Warming Hoax Unravels" with the email from the President of the American Council On Renewable Energy threatening to campaign against the professional integrity of someone who dared to question current orthodoxy regarding global warming. There is more information at the website of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

So what has this to do with a religious blog? Well, as Pope Benedict sensibly advised us in his Regensburg address, threats and violence should not be used in the service of religious proselytism. And global warming hysteria increasingly looks like religious proselytism.

Councils seek to ban soup runs

The Manna Society is an excellent organisation working in the Diocese of Southwark to provide food, clothing, medical advice, and a hot shower for people who are homeless. You can even get your toenails cut. Anyone who has been on a walking pilgrimage for any length of time will appreciate the importance of this service. My parish supports them a little by sending up clothes and food and the proceeds of fundraising events from time to time. I must check whether we have sent anything recently because their Christmas newsletter (pdf 278Kb) which I read today, reminded me of the importance of their work.

On page three, there is an article by the Campaigns Worker, Bandi Mbubi with some disturbing news. Apparently, the London Borough Councils are preparing a Bill to set up designated areas where the distribution of food and refreshments will be banned. Exemptions would be made for sporting events or for companies giving out free samples to advertise their products. Thus the Bill is aimed squarely at the soup runs.

The rationale behind this quasi-Stalinist nonsense is that soup runs create "public order issues" ("an ishoo, an ishoo, we all fall down") and that people who use soup runs may be former rough sleepers saving money. So flippin' what! If someone is hard-up enough to go and get their tea from a soup run on the street, I think it counts are a reasonable act of Christian charity to provide for them.

Then there is the pious self-justification that soup runs foster dependency and do not enable vulnerable people to make contact with services that could help them. That would be the services that have helped them so much that they are on the street, I suppose. It is advisors from places like the Manna Centre that actually enable homeless people to negotiate their way round the bureaucracy of the "services" that are supposed to help them.

The excellent article by Mental Health Nurse Marc Thurgood in the same issue (page four) explains in simple terms, that even London Councils could understand, just why it is that people end up on the streets. In many cases, rough sleeping is part of the aftermath of local authority care as a child, service in the armed forces, or a spell at Her Majesty's Pleasure.

The Manna Centre and other voluntary initiatives pick up the pieces after the "action points" of the last policy-making committee meeting have proved useless. In any society there will be a need for good people to offer basic material help to the poor. Our society is not currently blazing a trail in reducing this need. As Bandi Mbubi points out:
This proposed ban tests the very foundation of our faith and may not stop many of us to continue the distribution of food and refreshments as before. What is a decent and peaceful activity may turn into a series of confrontations in which people would be hurt and councils and other authorities brought into disrepute. It is simply immoral and unworkable to enact such a law.
If you are looking for a suitable destination for one of your charitable donations over Christmas, the Manna Centre would be a good choice. See their Financial Donations page

Vatican still believes the gospel, Pope still Catholic etc.

The Vatican has announced that the creche in St Peter's will show Jesus at home in Nazareth rather than the customary Bethlehem scene. This is commented on in a not very good article in the Telegraph which presents it as a sort of policy change. (See: Vatican nativity does away with the manger) The article also makes the odd claim that "it is Matthew's gospel which forms the basis for the Angelus prayer."

Fr Bosco at the New Zealand Liturgy site has written a good critique of this coverage. (See: Vatican has Jesus born in Nazareth?) As he says,
[...] the Vatican is certainly not shifting Jesus’ birthplace from Bethlehem to Nazareth. It is shifting from imagery drawn primarily from St. Luke’s Gospel to this year presenting imagery drawn primarily from St. Matthew’s Gospel.
As Corporal Jones would say, "Don't panic! Don't panic!"

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Not just the stigmata...

I said back in May that the Life of St Gemma Galgani had jumped the queue of books to be read. I didn't get very far - something else must have supervened - but have got into the book now. I wrote about her after my last visit to Rome (post: St Gemma Galgani)

The author of the book, Fr Germanus CP, was her spiritual director for a few years. He describes in detail the physical manifestation of her union with the Passion of Christ. This included not only the stigmata but the sweat of blood, the crowning with thorns and the scourging, as well as a wound on the shoulder from carrying the cross. These wounds would only appear for a time, shed copious amounts of blood, and then heal up completely. They were usually present from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

These quite extraordinary physical signs do not make a saint, of course. Her holiness consisted, as it does for all saints, in her heroic virtue, and conformity with the will of God. When her confessor asked her to pray to Our Lord for the physical signs to stop, she did so sincerely - and they stopped.

The lesson that I am beginning to pick up from St Gemma's life is that we must meditate upon the Passion of Christ because it is so profitable spiritually to do so. I am sure that I read a short quotation from St Bonaventure today saying exactly this but I can't find it now...

... that's it! Train of thought: St Gemma Galgani - Passion - Anne Katherine Emmerich (another book I must read soon) - title page:
He who desires to go on advancing from virtue to virtue, from grace to grace, should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus... There is no practice more profitable for the entire sanctification of the soul than the frequent meditation on the sufferings of Jesus Christ. (St Bonaventure)
As some of us used to say by way of an alternative to Archbishop Worlock's motto for the National Pastoral Congress in 1980: "We are the Good Friday people and Stabat Mater is our song."

The article "New Saints" from Time Magazine of 13 May 1940 tells of the ceremony of canonisation, silver trumpets and all. Here is the picture I posted before, from the Laus Crucis post on the canonisation.

"To Heal the Broken Hearted"

The other day, the Passionist Publishers Ovada Books sent me a copy of "To Heal the Broken Hearted. The Life of Saint Charles of Mount Argus." St Charles was canonised a year ago by Pope Benedict and this is a new edition of the book by Paul Francis Spencer CP. I confess that I did not know about St Charles before and I look forward to reading the book as soon as I have finished the life of St Gemma Galgani which is occupying my attention at the moment.

The Vatican website has a summary of his life. Other sources of information include the website of the Passionists of Mount Argus and the blog Laus Crucis has a number of links to material on St Charles in the sidebar.

"To Heal the Broken Hearted" is available to read online which is, in my view, an excellent idea - I am sure this will increase, rather than compete with sales of the book and, in any case, it will help to make St Charles better known. The printed book is available (£9.50 or 13.95 euros) from:

Ovada Books
Saint Mungo's Retreat
52 Parson Street
G4 0RX
0141 552 5523

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Marini tour and background

As reported here previously (A reform which still "challenges"), Archbishop Marini was invited to launch his new book "A Challenging Reform" in the throne room at Westminster. There is an interesting article by the widely respected commentator John Allen Marini's book on liturgy: The future of the liturgy is the future of Christianity. Here is a part of the article:
When I’m on the lecture circuit, there’s a story I like to tell to illustrate the sometimes surprising diversity inside the Vatican. It’s set in the summer of 2002, when Pope John Paul II was in Mexico City to canonize Juan Diego, the Aztec visionary in the Our Lady of Guadalupe devotion.

At the moment in the canonization Mass when John Paul read out the Latin formula declaring Juan Diego a saint, pandemonium broke out in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Confetti fell from the ceiling, drums beat and horns blared, and a knot of indigenous dancers began to gyrate down a catwalk. Inside, it felt like Michael Jordan had just hit the winning shot in Game Seven of the NBA Finals; an American TV correspondent standing next to me, who happens to be Jewish, shouted in my ear, “If they did it this way every Sunday, even I would show up!”

The next day, when John Paul beatified two indigenous martyrs, the atmosphere was equally electric. Once again, confetti fell, music rang out, and native dancers did their thing. The dancers in this case were Zapotec Indians from the State of Oxaca, but there was a notable difference from the day before. In their midst was an elderly female shaman carrying a cluster of burning herbs. She performed a purification ritual known as a limpia, believed to drive off evil spirits. The shaman ritualistically brushed the herbs first on Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, and then on John Paul II himself.

In effect, the shaman performed an exorcism on the pope.

Bear in mind that this is not a "rad trad" commentator but widely respected, middle-of-the-road observer reporting on puzzling events in the papal liturgy of the John Paul II era. Allen continues:
Watching this surreal scene play out, I couldn’t help but wonder what the personnel in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican office responsible for policing the liturgical rules, were thinking. I took out my cell phone and dialed the number of a friend who, at the time, worked in the congregation. I asked if he had seen the ceremony on Vatican TV, which he had, and then I asked for the reaction in the office.

Summoning his deepest baritone, the official thundered back a three-word reply: “Marini must go!”
Havng now "gone" from the papal liturgy, Archbishop Marini has launched his new book in Westminster and will soon be touring various venues in the USA in February (see Fr Z for details)

Not having yet received my copy of "A Challenging Reform", it was news to me that it was edited by what Allen refers to as a "triumvirate": Jesuit Fr. Keith Pecklers, John Page, former executive secretary of ICEL, and Fr Mark Francis who achieved notoriety in the Catholic blogosphere and various traditionalist events for his assertion in the Tablet that Pope Benedict was "not a trained liturgist."

The book was also endorsed by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop John Quinn, and Fr. Timothy Radcliffe. The presentation at Westminster was attended by Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, the papal nuncio in Great Britain, a personal representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, and Mgr Bruce Harbert, executive secretary of ICEL.

Baptising Jack

Yesterday I took the train from Waterloo to Poole to visit my sister and her daughter and baptise my relatively new great nephew, Jack David. The Baptism was scheduled in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Bournemouth, just inside the Portsmouth Diocese. The sacristan was most helpful and welcoming and I was impressed by the Victorian Gothic Church which was originally run by the Jesuits. My sister, her husband and her daughter are part of the bell-ringing group at the Church which boasts a rare collection of bells for a Catholic Church. One day, perhaps, I will be able to make another visit, encouraged by my brother-in-law, Chris, to celebrate Mass at the Lady altar:

Naturally, at the Baptism of a baby, it is important that a slightly older sibling is not left out. Lucy is great at singing and dancing and was allowed to perform under the watchful eye of Grandma and Dad:

The adults were treated to Champagne afterwards, courtesy of Jack's Great-Grandfather who is a retired judge. According to a family tradition, this was drunk from delightfully unfashionable glasses inherited from my Mother's side of the family:

But we must include Jack himself, here held by his Dad, James, who, as a professional photographer, probably has some far better photos than mine...

The NAC alive and well

A friend of mine who is studying for a Doctorate in Rome at the moment rang this evening and told me of the Catholic life of the Pontifical North American College (NAC) in Rome. the photo above is from the collection on their website on the occasion of the feast of the Immaculate Conception this year. It is an important detail that the students are in clerical dress (as required by the Vicariate of Rome). A few years back, clerical dress was a casus belli in many seminaries, with opponents decrying "clericalism". This does seem a self-defeating cause in an institution which exists for the formation of clerics.

My friend tells me that the NAC is thriving, full of students and priests making the very best of their time in the Eternal City. I think that Bishop Tim Dolan did a great job there as Rector and his work must be continuing in his successors. A book I recommend to seminarians and priests is Bishop Dolan's "Priests for the Third Millennium" which consists of some excellent conferences that he gave to students at the NAC.

Incidentally, one of the differences between Americans and English that I discovered when I was in Rome was the use of the definite article. We always used to speak of "the NAC" whereas the Americans spoke simply of "NAC". Rather as we would refer to finding something "on the internet" while Americans speak of finding something "on internet". I eagerly await erudite correction on this point :-)
UPDATE: It seems that I was talking complete rubbish in this paragraph - see comments passim :-)

Carthusian photos

Take a look at the photos of various Carthusian houses on this Liturgy site from New Zealand.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Views of Bruges

A few weeks ago, I went for a couple of days to Bruges. It is easy for me to get to: an hour or so to Dover, lunch on the ferry, an hour's drive to Bruges. You can cut half an hour or so by using the Channel Tunnel. The train is not a good idea - from Brussells it is another hour to Bruges. (If you look at the map, you can see that you are going back on yourself.)

Bruges is one of the most photogenic cities in Europe. Here are a few of my efforts. First a classic view of the Church of Our Lady across the Minnewater:

One of the little bridges over the canals:

The end of the Minnewater with the bridge to the Beguinehof on the left:

Some typical Bruges houses along the canal:

The central part of the City is illuminated at night offering the opportunity for photos with reflections in the canal. The tower of the Markt is in the centre here:

Free beer

Sorry, that was a lie. But there is free Church music of good quality and that is better than free beer, especially if your parish has had to pay for a licence to sing some of the most dreadful hymns ever written.

Jeffrey Tucker at the New Liturgical Movement reports that the Chabanel Responsorial Psalms site has become "a portal for every kind of new composition for use in OF and EF Masses."

Have a look at the page for Year A and the wedding music page.

Carol Service and evangelisation

Last year, a local independent undertaker asked me to host a memorial carol service. This took place just a week before our parish carol service which made things rather busy for our organist, so this year I suggested that we combine the two. The service took place this afternoon and was a great success. There were about 300 people, more than half of whom were non-Catholics.

The Choir and our annual ad-hoc children's choir sang beautifully. I preached briefly and said some prayers for the dead. The Union of Catholic Mothers put on a magnificent spread in the hall afterwards and it was an opportunity for local non-Catholics to come to the Church, sing Christmas carols, listen to the choir and, in many cases, I'm sure, fulfil the natural instinct to worship God. A form of evangelisation, I hope.

Evangelisation document and a new source

Looking around this evening to see whether the CDF Doctrinal Note on Evangelisaiton was available in a more helpful form than a page image pdf, I followed Rorate Caeli's link to the text on Papal Encyclicals Online. this is a good looking site with a well-organised directory of magisterial documents (with much more than just papal encyclicals).

This was a site I have not seen before, at least in its present form. the "About this site" section was an interesting read. Most of the documents were originally on the Catholic Resources Network (CRNET) which became EWTN online. I remember the great pioneering work of CRNET and I think I gave them some small financial support in the early days. It reminds me of the time that I announced with some excitement in my "Faith Online" column that the Vatican now had a website...

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Manifold benefits of the Mass

Every Mass that is offered is of infinite value in that the Mass gives adoration and thanksgiving to God. Every Mass is also offered for the propitiation of our sins, and to gain God's gifts for us. In these respects, the fruits of the Mass is limited by our capacity to receive these benefits.

The sacrifice that is offered is the once and for all perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is primarily the actio Dei, the work of God himself. However the priest is called by God to participate in this one perfect sacrifice by worthily celebrating the sacred rites. The priest offers the Mass ministerially and the Church generally. The faithful also offer the Mass by participating in it: by requesting the celebration, by making an offering for that purpose, by providing the material requisites for offering the Mass, and, most of all, by attending the Mass and uniting themselves spiritually to the sacrifice. These actions of the faithful constitute their "actuosa participatio" - an expression that is often unfortunately rendered as "active participation". It would be better to talk of "genuine participation" to avoid giving the impression that you are not "participating" in the Mass unless you are doing a job or reading all the words in a book.

Some effects of the Mass are applied to God: adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. Other effects (or benefits or "fruits") are applied to us: the imploring of God's generous gifts, the propitiation of His wrath and the forgiveness of our sins, and satisfaction for our sins with the remission of the temporal punishment due to them. All of these effects flow from the Mass as the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

This perfect sacrifice is efficacious in pouring forth benefits or "fruits" as follows:

1. To the all the members of the Church, living and dead, who do not pose an obstacle to this grace - the general fruits of the Mass.

2. To those who participate (as outlined above) in the Mass - the special fruits of the Mass.

3. To the priest himself - the "most special" or personal fruits of the Mass.

4. To the person for whom the Mass is offered - the ministerial fruits of the Mass which the priest may apply for an intention that has been requested, for the people of the parish, or for any other proper intention of his choosing.

In addition, to the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the prayers and good works of the whole Church are applied through the Mass.

Finally, the personal prayer and devotion of the priest is efficacious in proportion to his own holiness. This personal prayer can be added as a secondary intention to that for which the Mass is offered by way of the "ministerial fruits". Hence the prayers in the previous post about the mementos.

(In the above, I have mainly summarised JB O'Connell's excellent treatment in chapter 4 of his book "The Celebration of Mass".)

Handling the mementos

Priests are often asked to remember a particular intention in their prayers. When people do this, I always say a Hail Mary there and then if possible and try to include such prayers in the general intention of saying the Divine Office. But people do like to be remembered "at the altar". I have a little book Clericus Devotus which I found in an old prie-dieu at school years ago and was allowed to keep. It belonged to a priest who had died: inside, it is inscribed in pencil "Rev W Evans, Ist Infantry Brigade, 1st Division BEF". Inside the rear cover, the Leonine Prayers (the prayers said after Low Mass) are written in pencil - the book was published in 1910 and I suppose the editors had not got round to including this relatively recent innovation.

It is a wonderful vademecum with prayers in preparation and thanksgiving for Mass, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, various prayers for priests, schemes of devotional morning and night prayers, and short meditations, especially on the last things.

One idea from the book which I try to use each day is the suggestions for the memento of the living and the memento of the dead. These are the parts of the Roman Canon where the priest pauses briefly. Here is my own translation:
If he intends to pray for many people, and so that it should not delay those attending, the celebrant can also set out in his mind all those, living and dead, for who he intends to pray in the Mass and (in the Canon at each memento) generally, in the one context, make commemoration of them. (Missale Romanum, Ritus celebr. Miss. VIII, 3).

Memento vivorum (memento of the living)
1. Lord, remember me (here the priest mentions the graces and benefits which he intends to obtain through the holy sacrifice).
2. Remember my relatives and living friends (here can be mentioned the father, mother, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends of the priest).
3. All superiors and benefactors of both spiritual and temporal goods.
4. All those committed to me in general and in particular.
5. All priests and ministers of the Church.
6. All my enemies and those to whom I have been an occasion of sin.
7. All heretics and the unfaithful, for their conversion.
8. All the sinners of the whole world who are now in agony and will die today.
Pius X conceded an indulgence of 100 days to all priests who had this commemoration at the Memento (S. Congr. Ind., 10 Dec 1907). Further, His Holiness commends this pious custom to us by his own example.
9. All those who have commended themselves to my prayers, and all those for whom You will and know that I ought to pray.

Memento mortuorum (memento of the dead)
1. Remember also, O Lord, the souls of my deceased relatives and friends (they are mentioned as above).
2. My superiors and benefactors
3. The priests and ministers of the Church
4. Those to whom I have been an occasion of sin.
5. Those who have been commended to my prayers.
6. Those who have died an unprovided death.
7. Finally those for whom I am bound and for whom You wish me to pray, and those for whom there is no special remembrance.
There is finally a reminder for the priest to apply the actual Mass intention which he should do according to the intention of the donor, even if it has been specified: in that way, the donor's particular intention can be honoured. As I can almost feel the questions that will come into the combox, I will do a further post on Mass intentions and the fruits of the Mass.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Doctrinal note on evangelisation

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today published a Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelisation. To be fair, after the trenchant criticism of Damien Thompson (endorsed here) of the failure of the CBCEW website to publicise the encyclical Spe Salvi, the Bishops Conference of England and Wales has, as far as I can see at the moment, the only online copy of the full text of the doctrinal note. It is a page image pdf (1.67Mb) and the pages were not quite straight in the scanner, but fair play to the guys for getting it on the web even before the Vatican website.

Everyone else has had to make do with Cardinal Levada's summary. I expect the Vatican will have the text up soon so we can paste quotes from it.

The doctrinal note asserts the fundamental right and duty of the Church to evangelise. Its missionary activity is a work of love, to bring to others the truth and the person of Christ. This does not offend against the liberty of the individual but in fact brings that human freedom to its full potential, allowing others to know the beauty of friendship with Christ.

The doctrinal note is an answer to those who cannot contemplate any attempt to preach Christ without protesting that the presentation of the truth is a condemnation of "my lifestyle".

A couple of quotations that I have lovingly typed out for you... First, concerning the false opposition between evangelisation and freedom:
There is today, however, a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt28.19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one's own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. (n.3)
And secondly concerning an error that is quite common in England today:
In the various forms of agnosticism and relativism present in contemporary thought, "a legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. [...] (n.4 - the quotation is from Fides et Ratio 9-10))

Fr Trigilio's blog

Fr John Trigilio is well known in the States for his work with EWTN. He has a blog called The Black Biretta and yesterday posted What Hollywood will NEVER produce, the synopsis of a fictional fantasy film which satirises Judaism and Islam and shows Catholicism in a good light. As he says, "Hollywood should either attack ALL religions (not a good choice) or NO religions (best option)."

Thursday, 13 December 2007

"Illustrious" Cardinal Stickler dies

Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler SDB died yesterday, aged 97. Earlier this year, he celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Gillibrand at Catholic Church Conservation has a translation of his obituary in Der Standard (Cardinal Stickler, one of the all time great cardinals has died).

The Cardinal was always a friend of the traditional liturgy. Here is a link to an address that he gave to the Latin Mass Society at its annual meeting in 1992. Summorum Pontificum was a vindication of his consistently held position that the old rite of Mass had never been abrogated.

His book The Case for Clerical Celibacy, published by Ignatius, was an accessible summary of the conclusions reached by the research of Cochini, Cholij and others on the question. He made the telling point:
These studies have either not yet penetrated the general consciousness or they have been hushed up if they were capable of influencing that consciousness in undesirable ways
Here is the announcement of the Holy Father's telegrams of condolence from today's Vatican Information Service:
VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has sent two telegrams of condolence for the death, at the age of 97, of Cardinal Alfons Maria Stickler S.D.B., archivist and librarian emeritus of Holy Roman Church: one to the late cardinal's brother and sisters, and another to Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, major rector of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco.

The Holy Father describes the cardinal as a "sincere and zealous collaborator of the Holy See" who in all his duties "provided precious testimony of fervent faithfulness to Christ and to the Church." He also mentions the "cultural and ecclesial industriousness of the distinguished jurist and illustrious cardinal."
Full text of the telegrams (Italian)

The office of Liturgical Celebrations has announced that the funeral will take place tomorrow, at 5pm in St Peter's, at the Altar of the Chair, presided over by the Holy Father.

Requiescat in pace

At the Sala Stampa tomorrow

At 11.30am tomorrow at the Press Office of the Holy See, there will be a Press Conference to present the "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelisation" prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Taking part in the conference will be Cardinal Levada (CDF), Cardinal Dias (Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples), Cardinal Arinze (Congregation for Divine Worship) and Archbishop Amato (CDF).

Don't mention the Christians!

The Government News Network has announced the formation of a "Faith and Social Cohesion Unit" as a new initiative of the Charities Commission. (Charity Regulator reaches out to faith-based charities). The press release says:
The new Faith and Social Cohesion Unit will lead the Commission's work with faith-based charities, building on the findings of a two year programme of workshops with representatives from over 800 faith-based organisations across 11 different faiths. Events were held with Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities as well as special meetings with the UK's smaller faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism, and a special multi-faith event for women only.
As the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship have observed:
It is of great concern to note that over the last 2 years no specific mention at all is made of any consultations with Christian organisations or faith groups apart from in the development of a model governing document for independent evangelical churches in 2004.
The Faith and Social Cohesion Unit website reports on feedback from the events held with Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and Hindu charities.

Confessions and lunch

L-R Frs John Boyle, Tim Finigan, Chris Basden, Charles Briggs, Stephen Boyle

A group of us met up today at the Good Shepherd Church in New Addington where the parish priest, Fr Stephen Boyle had arranged for confessions for the children in the Catholic junior school next to the Church. Afterwards, he treated us to lunch at the Coombe Lodge restaurant on the way in towards Croydon. Conversation included an informal discussion of the diocesan "Towards a Vision" process as well as the usual exchange of pastoral ideas which get adapted from one parish to another.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

A helpful phrase

A while back, Catholic bloggers picked up the phrase "say the black, do the red". It seems this is now entering the mainstream as Fr Z has noticed two prelates quoting the phrase, Archbishop Hart of Melbourne and Cardinal DiNardo of Texas, who said:
In the Fathers, you see an emphasis not only on the words said at Mass, but also the importance of the gestures of the liturgy. In other words, say the black, do the red.

Rorate Mass

A beautiful photo by Diane of Te Deum Laudamus of the the "Rorate Mass" at the Assumption Grotto in Detroit, Michigan.

This is a Votive Mass in honour of Our Lady for the season of Advent, celebrated by candlelight early in the morning or in the evening since Pius XII gave permission for Evening Mass.

(For those who complain about my focus on the Classical Rite, these were Novus Ordo Masses - but note the orientation: that makes a big difference!)
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