Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Sandals and Fiddlebacks

A great video from my friends at the Franciscans of the Immaculate:

Here is the info at the YouTube posting:
Formal fiddleback chasubles and modest Franciscan sandals come together in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. The video is put to beautiful music from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, our sister order. The music was recorded in Italy and is a fine example of the high quality of their music which, combined with the friars in Italy, are playing a major part in spearheading the reform of liturgical music in Italy.

Londoners - turn out to vote!

In March, I wrote about my meeting with George Hargreaves and A Christian strategy for the London Mayoral election. The election takes place tomorrow so this is a reminder to all you London Catholics (and other Christians) to get out and vote. As the Catechism teaches:
2240. Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country
and the second Vatican Council:
All citizens, therefore, should be mindful of the right and also the duty to use their free vote to further the common good. (Gaudium et Spes n.75)
You will have received your booklet with photos of the ballot papers etc. For Mayor, you get a first and a second choice. You should be aware that there is a good Christian pro-life, pro-family candidate, Alan Craig is standing on a joint ticket for the Christian Party and the Christian People's Alliance.

Being realistic, it is unlikely that Alan Craig will be elected as Mayor. But it would be good for him to get a sizeable number of votes. If you feel that it is a straight fight between Ken 'n Boris, you can still vote for whichever of the two you prefer as your second choice without wasting your vote because if your first choice is not in the top two, your second choice vote is used.

In addition, it should also be possible to vote Alan Craig on as a London-wide member of the London Assembly and possibly some Christian party people in a few boroughs. So if you were just getting apathetic about the whole thing and were not going to be bothered with it, you now have a reason to walk down to the local school some time tomorrow and tick the various Christian boxes...

You can read more about the Christian campaign at The Christian Choice; of particular interest to many readers will be the news item ITV & BBC Censor London Mayoral Election Broadcast "in Fear of Radical Islam". Alan Craig also has a blog called Meet Alan Craig.

Blogs added

I have added a number of blogs to the blogroll on the sidebar via bloglines. Let me know if you are in the wrong category - for example if you are a priest or religious or if you consider yourself a British blog. In the latter case, sometimes there is nothing obvious to indicate this. It is worth putting something about yourself in your profile or on the sidebar. You don't have to reveal your identity or tell people what you had for breakfast but a little general information usually helps.

"Let us do the experiment of tradition"

Amid the many blogs that have now appeared on the blogroll is one that perhaps requires and explanatory note: Transalpine Redemptorists at home. The Transalpine Redemptorists have purchased an island in the Orkneys which is called Papa Stronsay and is now the home of the Golgotha Monastery. As you can see from the map, it is a fair walk/swim from Blackfen!

View Larger Map

The Transalpine Redemptorists have worked closely with the Society of St Pius X but are also informally pursuing avenues of discussion with Rome. Fr Michael Mary CSSR and Fr Anthony Mary CSSR have this week published a "Declaration on Relations with Rome" (headed Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!)

There will doubtless be considerable controversy about this declaration within traditionalist circles but I have to say that I found it a moving expression of sincere desire to be in a regular canonical situation. They speak of the problems that have plagued the Church since Vatican II and then say (referring to Summorum Pontificum)
But now we must ask ourselves if a glimmer of light has not begun to show through the clouds of confusion that for many years have darkened the sky of eternal Rome. For we now have a Pontiff, a successor of Peter, ready to allow us to adhere fully to this timeless tradition of the Church and its complete expression in Catholic life without apparent compromise. He seems ready to "let us do the experiment of Tradition" as Archbishop Lefebvre asked so many years ago.
Their blog is not all about relations with Rome - there is much about daily life in the Community at Papa Stronsay. There can be some fairly severe weather up there and one pastime is to go storm walking:

There is also an account of the funeral of Brother Michael Alban FMS, a Marist brother who had moved to Orkney. His requiem Mass was at Stronsay and he was buried on Papa Stronsay. The hearse was drawn the mile or so from the pier by a donkey:

Well I decided to put the blog on the blogroll (cf. also the "Disclaimer (of sorts)" on the sidebar.) I encourage you to pray that there will be a good outcome to their prudent and charitable deliberations without causing any unnecessary division among traditionalists. Besides, I'm just delighted to see that there are traditional Redemptorists following in the footsteps of one of my favourite saints. The picture of St Alphonsus at the top of this post is one that I took from their blog - it is not one I have seen before.

Catholic Family News

Catholic Family is the website for the National Association of Catholic Families. Tim Matthews also operates a news service that gathers together many stories of interest from different sources and also has original content especially related to the family.

Gower Street Mass - follow up

I have just read the combox at Fr Wilson's post on the Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Newman House

Father Wilson has responded with commendable restraint and good humour to the comments, some of which have attacked him personally - it is also obvious that he is well regarded by the students in his care.

So let me repeat - I am sure the students are grateful to Father for making available a celebration of the older form of Mass. I would add my own prayers that it will be something that enriches the life of the chaplaincy as a whole.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Leaked terna?

Tim Walker at the Daily Telegraph has an article about the terna for Westminster which is, according to his source, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Peter Smith and Bishop Arthur Roche. The Mulier Fortis has an interesting observation on this article concerning the claimed source of the leak.

Tim Walker speaks of "my man at Archbishop's House" as his source. Mac suggests that this indicates political manoeuvering: an interesting point.

On reflection, however, I have to say that none of this can possibly be true. The terna for an archiepiscopal appointment is covered by the Pontifical secret. To leak this would incur a latae sententiae excommunication.

Has anyone suddenly come off the Mass rota?

Cui bono?

I have held off commenting on the latest announcement from the Bishops Conference of England and Wales regarding Holydays in the Extraordinary Form because I am not quite sure what is being attempted here.

It seems that if Mass is celebrated on Ascension Thursday Sunday in the older form of the rite, the Sunday after Ascension should be suppressed and the Mass of the Ascension should be celebrated instead. Not the most brilliant idea in liturgical terms but we could cope with that. But the more important question is over celebrations on the actual days. Are we to take it that those people who want to go to a traditional Mass on Corpus Christi despite there no longer being any obligation to do so are to be prevented?

If this is the case, I am reminded of Cicero's question "Cui bono?" - to whom will this be a benefit? What possible good could be achieved by prohibiting people from voluntarily coming to Church to worship God on a feast day hallowed by centuries of tradition?

The text of the response to the dubium has not yet been published so we will have to see what it actually says. I wonder if it is possible to prevent any celebration of a votive Mass of Corpus Christi on 22 May or of All Saints on 1 November; and again, what possible benefit could be achieved by trying to do so?

Damien Thompson has written about this in his post A petty victory for liberal bishops. I expect that one or two people might want to ask Cardinal Hoyos about this when he visits England in June.

Blogs missing from blogroll?

Some time ago, when I went over to bloglines, I changed the blogroll over to update automatically from there.

From time to time, I realise that a blog that I used to have on the blogroll has been inadvertently missed out. Only today, I realised that I did not have Mark's "Rise and Pray" which is an excellent blog.

To be honest, there are no hard and fast criteria. If you write a Catholic blog that is orthodox and you post reasonably regularly - at least once a week is good - I'd be happy to put you on the blogroll.

So here is an invitation. If you think that your blog would go well on the blogroll, let me know in the combox. But do please use the simple html to make a link if you can. (For instructions see "Putting links in the combox"

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Writings of Dominic Barberi and Ignatius Spencer

Br Rupert, in the combox, kindly posted a link to the Writings of Dominic Barberi and Ignatius Spencer. The site carries the text of Fr Spencer's own account of his conversion to the Catholic faith, written at the English College in Rome, in 1831.

Fr Spencer's cause for canonisation has passed the stage of the local tribunal and the papers are now with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Fr Spencer is related to the Princes William and harry through their mother, Princess Diana. In 1840, spencer visited Newman at Oxford. newman refused to meet him for dinner because, at that time, he considered him to be an apostate from the Church of England. (Newman was received into the Church in 1845.)

The writings of Bl Dominic Barberi posted here, his lamentation of England and his Letter to the Professors of the University of Oxford make interesting reading. Many thanks to Br Rupert and his colleagues for posting these items and I pray that they will, as desired, help to promote the causes of these two holy men who loved England.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sex education insanity

The Family Bulletin arrived this morning. Published by Family and Youth Concern, this is one newsletter that I always find worth reading. The latest issue is not yet at the FYC website but I expect it will be posted there soon.

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the Government's Sex education review steering group which is hopelessly biased in its make up. an article in the Family Bulletin picks up on something I had missed. Launching the SRE review, the Department for Children, Schools and Families confidently asserted that:
The delivery of good SRE is crucial in keeping young people safe and healthy as well as helping to bring down teenage pregnancy rates.
However, as the Bulletin points out, the Department has admitted that it has neither commissioned nor evaluated research on the impact of SRE on the attitudes and lifestyle choices of young people. Neither has it made any assessment of the effectiveness of sex education. The repeated claim to have a commitment to review best practice in effective SRE seems to be based on little more than asking young people what they want. There is no attempt to find out what is actually "best practice" or what is actually "effective".

Elsewhere in the Bulletin, a contribution by Dr Genuis to a debate in the British Medical Journal is reported. (See: Are condoms the answer to rising rates of non-HIV sexually transmitted infection? No) I was amused by this passage:
In my home province of Alberta, rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea have tripled since 1998 despite ubiquitous "safer sex" education. The ongoing assertion that condoms are "the" answer to this escalating pandemic reminds me of Einstein’s words, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
The Family and Youth Concern AGM and Conference with be at the RAF club in Piccadilly on 14 June. Speakers (afternoon) are Irina Tyk, headmistress of Holland House School which set up the Butterfly Project to teach children to read and raise educational standards; and Ray Lewis, a former prison governor who founded the Eastside Young Leaders Academy in Newham. Also at the meeting will be Owen and Eunice Johns who were turned down as foster carers because they were unable to condone homosexual practice.

Hasten the complete conversion of our country

Gillibrand has photos of an ex voto at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. It was set up in memory of Fr Ignatius Spencer who had requested prayers at the shrine for the conversion of England. (See For the total conversion of England!)

Incidentally, I have given the link above to the English language part of the basilica's website. There are more articles and photographs in the French section, including this picture by Charles-André van Loo showing St Augustine confounding the Donatist bishops at Carthage.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Cardinal Trujillo: Pope's homily and Times obituary

On Wednesday, the Holy Father preached at the funeral of Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. In the course of his sermon (Italian version), he said:
How could we not draw attention at this time, to the zeal and the passion with which he laboured during almost 18 years, carrying out a tireless activity protecting and promoting the family and Christian marriage? How could we not thank him for the courage with which he defended the non-negotiable values of human life?
There was quite a good obituary in the Times which observed:
Despite his unpopularity among some liberal Catholics and the attacks he came under in the media, López Trujillo never wavered in upholding traditional Catholic teaching. He once remarked about the role of the Pontifical Council for the Family: “As the Pope would say, these are decisive battles, and we want to be in the middle of them.”

TLM at Gower Street

The Central Catholic Chaplaincy for the London Universities, at Newman House in Gower Street, is to have a celebration of Mass in the older form of the Roman Rite on Saturday 10 May.

Fr Peter Wilson has written about this at the Newman House blog. Fr Zuhlsdorf has added his own comments and analysis.

I would only add that it does not seem necessary to seek permission from the Ordinary for such a celebration. In the post "If... but not "only if", I pointed out that Summorum Pontificum does not limit permission for the "extraordinary form" to cases where a group of people ask for it - in those cases he must do what he can to facilitate their request. According to his own pastoral judgement, the Pastor may arrange for the not-abrogated and not-forbidden form of the Mass to be celebrated if this form of Mass would be pastorally helpful. If a group of students ask for it, that seems to me a "slam dunk" as the Americans might put it. No?

In any case, I am sure that the students are grateful to Fr Wilson and it is very good to hear that the central London chaplaincy is making the traditional Roman liturgy available to students in their own chaplaincy.

Stones will shout

Stones will shout is the website of Into the Deep, a newsletter from Gippsland in South Eastern Australia. Apparently the voice of the laity is a bit too strong for the diocesan newspaper which has stopped carrying letters to the editor.

Linacre ethics forum next Wednesday

On Wednesday next week (30th April) Dr Mike Delany will be speaking to the Linacre ethics forum on Ethical issues in General Practice.

The meeting will be at 6.30pm (after 5.30 Mass in the Cathedral) in Vaughan House which is behind Westminster Cathedral (map here). The talk itself will be at 7pm, followed by group discussion, questions and answers. (Then on to the cafe/pub!)

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Discussion of mutual enrichment

Fr Thomas Kocik has posted a thoughtful article at NLM on The limits of mutual enrichment. His comments relate particularly to the enrichment of the ordinary form of Mass and his commitment to the reform of the reform makes these especially pertinent.

There are a number of important principles involved. The most important of these, I think, is that the priest should not himself innovate and change the liturgy sponte sua. Here, I think that there is a crucial distinction to be made. On the one hand, priests might make up new elements that have never been part of the Church's liturgy - for example improvisations in the Eucharistic Prayer, saying "Bertha. The body of Christ", clown outfits, balloons etc.

On the other hand - and I believe that this is genuinely a different issue - there is the question of introducing elements that have long been part of the tradition of the Church into the newer form of the Roman rite. Here I think we can look at several different levels.

1. Elements that are perfectly consonant with the new rubrics
For example: how should you bow? Priests saying the Novus Ordo sometimes step back from the altar and make a profound bow a the "In spiritu humilitatis..." There is no direction saying what sort of bow should be made at the "Supplices te rogamus..." In such cases, a priest familiar with the rubrics of the older form could observe them at the new form without there needing to be any dispute. The older form could give direction at these points where there is none in the newer form.

2. Elements that can be introduced without disturbance
The Holy Father's saying of the prayers during the incensation of the altar is a good example. The priest can silently say the prayer "Dirigatur Domine..." without disturbing anyone. Priests with no experience of the older form would not necessarily know these prayers. But many younger priests would be glad to say them quietly.

Other examples would be: the vesting prayers before Mass, the Aufer a nobis on the way to the altar, the Oramus te when kissing the altar, the Placeat tibi during the "pausa" after communion or on the way back to the sacristy. These elements would genuinely enrich the Novus Ordo for many priests. They would also enrich the rite per accidens for the laity because of their contribution to the devotion of the priest.

3. Elements that could be fairly easily allowed
I understand that there was a proposal (defeated in the event) to allow the old offertory prayers to be said (silently, as is the first option in the Novus Ordo) . I can see no cogent reason not to allow these prayers to be said - nor to forbid the additional gestures and genuflections in the Roman Canon - another possibility that has been proposed before. Cardinal Ratzinger in "The Spirit of the Liturgy" suggested the possibility of allowing the Canon to be said silently. This would be a more significant option because of its impact on the laity who are used to hearing the Canon said out loud; but it would not take long for people to become accustomed to this way of saying the Canon.

Fr Kocik referred to the 1978 answer in Notitiae and my observation that this could lead to ridiculous consequences if interpreted strictly. (See: Is your alb back to front?) Surely, as he hints, this approach to the Novus Ordo has now been thoroughly superceded?

The key principle is that enunciated by Pope Benedict in his accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum:
What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.
This principle can provide us with a key to uncovering the riches of tradition in the newer form of the Roman Rite.

Burundi nuncio's residence mortared

Reuter's reports that the residence of the Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, has been damaged in a mortar attack by the rebel "Forces for National Liberation" during the latest outbreak of violence in the small but crucially important nation in the central lakes region of Africa. (See: Burundi rebels bomb capital, hit papal envoy's home)

Fortunately, Archbishop Gallagher was out of the country at the time and nobody was hurt at the residence. It is unlikely that the Archbishop's residence was deliberately targeted. Nevertheless, it must be a worrying time for him. He was ordained for the Liverpool archdiocese and has worked for many years in the Vatican diplomatic service. He moved to Burundi in 2004, replacing Archbishop Michael Courtney who was killed in a roadside ambush. I knew Archbishop Gallagher when I was in Rome as a student and would be very grateful if you could remember him and his mission in your prayers as well as praying for peace in Burundi and the region.

Sri Lanka: priest killed, Our Lady in hiding

Last Sunday, Father M X Karunaratnam, a priest who worked to expose human rights violations in Sri Lanka, was killed by a remote-controlled claymore mine on a road he was known to use regularly, travelling in a well-known and easily recognisable vehicle. (see this story on

His funeral on Tuesday was an opportunity for thousands of Tamil Catholics to gather to pay their respects to this much-loved priest who provided care and support for people traumatised by the war and the 2004 Tsunami disaster.

In the meantime, earlier this month, the statue of Our Lady of Madhu was moved from the Madhu Church to a safer area, along with the priests, religious and laity who were advised by the local Bishop to relocate because of increasing attacks by the Sri Lankan military. Shortly afterwards, the Church was destroyed by shellfire. The all India Catholic union condemned the attack as a "wanton act of official military violence against a haven of peace"

Madhu is the most important shrine in Sri Lanka for both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics. The statue of Our Lady was moved there during the 17th century persecution of Catholics in Sri Lanka by Dutch protestants.

The B-Movie Catechism

This fun site B-Movie Catechism combines reviews of B-Movies with thoughtful observations from the Catechism.

H/T The Curt Jester

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

"In the Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger"

This morning, I received a new book co-published by the Catholic Herald and Family Publications: "In the Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger" by Alessandra Borghese (translated by Sebastian Cresswell-Turner from the original Sulle Tracce di Joseph Ratzinger.)

The author describes her "pilgrimage to the places most dear and important to the Pope", travelling with her friend Gloria von Thurn und Taxis not long before the Holy Father's visit to Bavaria. Her charming account makes evident her affection for both Bavaria and for Joseph Ratzinger, whom she had known before he became Pope. Throughout the book, there are reminiscences and anecdotes about the Holy Father from her own experience and those of people she spoke to along the way.

We are taken to Munich and Freisung, the abbey of Scheyern, where he often went on retreat, the shrine of Altötting, the towns where he spent his childhood: Marktl am Inn, Tittmoning and Traunstein ("the most beautiful town in the world" in the eyes of the Holy Father). A chapter is dedicated to Regensburg ("A small Rome")

At the end of the book, Borghese describes her experiences of meeting the Holy Father on his visit to Bavaria and offers an epilogue "From Regensburg to Istanbul" discussing the Holy Father's visit to Turkey in the light of the controversy over his lecture at Regensburg.

ISBN: 9781871217810. Price £7.95. Paperback 128 pages. Can be ordered direct from Family Publications or from the Amazon link below

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Catching up on the Papal visit

Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

I haven't been able to watch much of the Holy Father's visit to the USA and have promised myself some time to catch up with the various video clips that are around. A convenient site for these is the US Bishops Conference Papal Visit Site which has a collection of videos of the various events. The Vatican website has the for the texts of the various homilies and addresses of the Holy Father during the visit.

Of the various addresses that I have read so far, I was particularly moved by his address to young people at the St Joseph Seminary in Yonkers. He gave them all an "A plus" for German pronunciation and went on to use various saints as examples for young people. He spoke of his own youth:
My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.
He spoke about the sinister darkness brought about by the manipulation of the truth and the misuse of freedom. He offered a concise description of relativism:
And in truth’s place – or better said its absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong?
He challenged the misrepresentation of Christianity so common in the West:
Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
The New Liturgical Movement has a most interesting observation: How Lovely Are Thy Offertory Prayers. During the incensation of the altar at the various Masses, the Holy Father's lips were moving. There are no prayers prescribed in the Novus Ordo for the incensation of the altar. It is most likely that the Holy Father was saying the traditional verses of Psalm 140:
Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo: elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum. Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo, et ostium circumstantiae labiis meis : ut non declinet cor meum in verba malitiae, ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis.

Let my prayer, O Lord, come like incense before You; the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice. O Lord, set a watch before my mouth, a guard at the door of my lips. Let not my heart incline to words of malice, to make excuses for sins.
I noticed that he was also moving his lips as he was putting incense into the thurible and blessing it. Again, there is no specified prayer in the Novus Ordo but the traditional prayer is:
Per intercessionem beati Michaelis Archangeli, stantis a dextris altaris incensi, et omnium electorum suorum, incensum istud dignetur Dominus bene dicere, et in odorem suavitatis accipere. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Through the intercession of Blessed Michael the Archangel, standing at the right hand of the altar of incense, and of all His elect may the Lord deign to bless + this incense and to receive it in the odour of sweetness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
It could well be that these are examples by which the Holy Father, in a small and unobtrusive way, is putting into practice that "mutual enrichment" between the two forms of the Roman rite for which he expressed a hope in Summorum Pontificum.

Catholic Herald coverage of apostolic visit

The Catholic Herald's page on the Apostolic visit to the USA has plenty of links, pictures, eye witness reports and analysis.

Getting to Blackfen

Sometimes, people get lost when trying to get to the Church in Blackfen. So I have done some work on google maps. There is one map with directions by train and bus:

View Larger Map

and another with directions by car from the M25:

View Larger Map

The "view larger map" link takes you to the full page map on google. You can zoom the maps in to rooftop resolution and you can click on the blue "pins" for particular bits of information.

Monday, 21 April 2008

St George's Day Mass cancelled

I am sorry to say that the High Mass at St Mary Moorfields on Wednesday 23 April (St George's Day) will not now take place because of a visit from one of the Auxiliary Bishops of Westminster. I apologise for the short notice but I was only informed myself this evening.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Forthcoming sung Masses at Blackfen

This Saturday, our traditional Latin Mass will be sung with Gregorian chant according to the Roman Gradual. The Mass starts at 10.30am and will be followed by Benediction and the Marian anthem. (The Missa Cantata is usually on the first Saturday of the month but it has been brought forward because of the parish first communion Masses.)

We will also be having traditional sung Masses on the feast of the Ascension (1 May) and Corpus Christi (22 May), both at 8pm.

If any clergy are free and would like to assist, they would be very welcome - it would be great to be able to celebrate any of these Masses as a a solemn High Mass. Just let me know in the combox - put "not for publication" if you would prefer the comment to remain confidential. Of course, if you do not feel confident enough to assist as Deacon or Subdeacon and would prefer to assist in choro, you would also be most welcome. Seminarians would also be very welcome to assist in choro or to help with serving Mass.

Directions to Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

Cardinal Trujillo RIP

Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, has died in Rome at the age of 72. He was admitted to the Pius XI clinic in March and suffered a heart attack last night after suffering grave health problems for several weeks.

Cardinal Trujillo was a great voice in support of the family and of the right of parents with regard to their children's education. See John Smeaton's post: Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, defender of the family and human life, dies.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Things you see in Rome

I was going to say "only in Rome" but that would run the risk of turning the combox into a version of Private Eye's "Pedants Corner". Enjoy!

A cherub with a papal tiara ...

Police on normal duty looking like actors in a World War II film ...

A lampshade dedicated to Blessed Pope Pius IX ...

Really chic scaffolding covers ...

Heresy-sensitive security cameras ...

An anticlerical revolutionary whose tomb is less attractive than the biscuit named after him ...

Books bought in Rome

There are three bookshops that I always visit in Rome: the Vatican bookshop, Ancora (Via Conciliazione) and Leoniana (Via dei Corridori). I have learnt to leave plenty of room in my suitcase. Here is what I bought this year:

The Bones of St Peter by John Evangelist Walsh. Singa-Tala, Manila 1982
The story of the excavations in 1939 and the identification of the bones of St Peter.

Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi, translated by Jordan Aumann. St Pauls 1992
What is says, basically - following the new calendar. Has a historical note for each saint, followed by a "message and relevance" note drawing on the texts of the liturgy. Needs to be supplemented by "Saints of the English Calendar" for England.

The Fifteen Saturdays by Bartolo Longo. Shrine of Poppeii (1993)
The "Presentation" says that they have updated the style of the text so I am glad to have an English translation rather than an annoyingly modernised Italian original. It also says
"The thoughts, however, though not corresponding to theological ideas of today in several points, we have maintained intact, just as the saintly author conceived them through his sincere personal experience"
so thank goodness for that.

Pray, Pray, Pray. Editrice Shalom (1998)
This was one of a number of beautifully produced paperbacks on sale in the Vatican bookshop. Over 1000 pages of prayers, novenas, chaplets, meditations etc. ordered according to the persons of the Trinity, Our Lady and the Saints. There is a website for Editrice Shalom but although it has a union flag button, it does not take you to an English section. At any rate, they seem to be putting out devotional books in English.

Mother Theresa. Come be my light. The private writings of the "Saint of Calcutta" edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk MC. Doubleday (2007)
I was hoping that this would be simply the words of Bl. Mother Theresa. There are quite a few of those but there is a lot of editorial and explanatory text too. I'll reserve judgement until I have read it this one.

Vademecum di Teologia Morale by Gerardo Cappelluti OP. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (1995)
A short handbook of moral theology, solidly based on St Thomas.

Roma Sacra. Tha Vatican Grottoes. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (2003)
Illustrated historical and archeological guide to the grottoes under St Peter's Basilica - which I did not get to visit this time. A beautiful book with lots of colour and monochrome illustrations.

Dominus Est by Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (2008)
This was the one I really wanted - I have read it today and will post some thoughts on it later.

One great thing about buying books in Rome is that they are often so reasonably priced. The "Pray Pray Pray" was 12 euros, Bartolo Longo (over 400 pages) was 5.20 euros.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Papal visit snippets

I have just been catching up on the Papal visit to the USA, reading the speeches and looking at commentaries on the events. The following is just a very brief list of some things that caught my eye.

John Allen posted a transcript of the Holy Father's question and answer session on the plane in which he talked about clerical child abuse among other things. Allen also suggests that the Holy Father is setting the agenda on this one. He has not shirked the issue but gone for it head-on.

Reacting to the Pope's address at the Whitehouse, President Bush said "awesome speech, your Holiness". There has been some fairly strong reaction worldwide to the music at the Mass in Washington DC, especially the Responsorial Psalm.

The Pope has told the American Bishops that Catholics Should Be… Catholics in a speech that Our Sunday Visitor called A bit of a bombshell.

For updated coverage with the all-important links, I recommend Thomas Peters at American Papist. For photos - as ever, just go to the PapaRatzi Forum's page for Foto Immagini & Video Benedetto XVI, go down to "Foto da Papa" and click "last".

Catholics Come Home

A video invitation to lapsed Catholics to "come home" to the Church:

San Lorenzo cloister and paleo-Christian iconography

There used to be an optional course in Rome that everyone seemed to end up taking at one time or another: Fr Martinez-Fazio's course on paleo-Christian iconography. Complete with slides, it gave us an introduction to the many early Christian monuments that we would see on our visits to the catacombs and to other holy sites in Rome - such as San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura.

Here is a whale - recalling the story of Jonah and included on Christian monuments as a symbol of the resurrection:

Here is an image of the feeding of the 5,000 - calling to mind the Eucharist as the pledge of eternal life (Our Lord is second from the left):

On the next fragment there is a dove with an olive branch - a common symbol recalling the end of the flood and indicating Baptism. You can also see the very common Chi-Rho symbol (the first two letters of the Greek word "Christos")

One more: this has a list of virtues attributed to someone who died.

It reads:

Faith (/faithfulness), chastity, truth, modesty, integrity - he bore all these in himself (or she... herself)

Rather more noble than "he liked a drink and a bet on the horses."

Pio Nono Pilgrimage

Fr Charles Briggs is an expert on 19th century Church history, particularly the life and letters of Mgr Talbot and the life of Blessed Pope Pius IX. One of the main purposes of our trip outside the walls of Rome today was to visit the shrine of Blessed Pope Pius IX. Having duly offered a prayer asking for his intercession, and collected a couple of holy cards, we looked at the rest of the very Roman basilica of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura. Here is the statue of St Lawrence with his gridiron:

Downstairs there is a piece of marble on which St Lawrence's body lay when it was collected by the Christians after his martyrdom.

The Basilica has a monumental ambo together with a candlestick for the Paschal candle.

This is not the only basilica in Rome that demonstrates visually that the reform of the Liturgy after Vatican II often in practice had little to do with restoring ancient use and a lot to do with dumbing down and the fear of anything beautiful and ancient.

The great ambo and candlestick could be taken as a sign of the importance attached to these elements of the liturgy. However, take a look at this photo of the basilica and see if you can spot anything.

Here is the close-up of the lectern that is actually used to proclaim the Word of God:

and here is the paschal candlestick in use this Eastertide.


The Campo Verano

The Campo Verano is the principal cemetery for Rome. Many religious congregations and houses have vaults here. On our visit today, Fr Charles and I managed to find the English College vault which I last visited on the occasion of the funeral of Fr Christopher Pemberton who died suddenly at the English College Villa in Palazzola in the summer of 1983. We had just returned from Fano where he was giving a retreat to myself, Fr Frank Marsden and Fr John O'Brien in preparation for our ordination to the Diaconate.

Walking around, we found the vault for the Irish College and I was delighted to find there a monument for Mgr Frank Frayne who used to work for the Pontifical Commission for Migrants and Tourists.

Mgr Frayne was a very kindly man who was generous with his time, taking the trouble to give new students a guided tour of St Peter's. The tour would start with the cherubs at the holy water font:

To illustrate the proportions of the basilica, Mgr Frayne would point out that the cherub's head was the size of four babies' heads. This led to some speculation that this might be used as a unit of measurement for all aspects of the Basilica - the baldacchino, for example, would be 75 babies' heads high.

All very silly, of course. But it was good to remember him today and perhaps you might join me in offering a prayer for the repose of his soul and that of Fr Chris Pemberton.

VEC Church in restauro

Yesterday evening, we were generously welcomed at the Venerable English College in the Via Monserrato. The College is the oldest English institution outside of England which has continuously existed on one site. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it became a missionary college for English priests to return to their homeland; 44 priests of the College were martyred, beginning with St Ralph Sherwin, St Alexander Briant and St Edmund Campion.

The College Church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St Thomas of Canterbury. Thanks to a generous benefactor, the decoration of the entire Church is to be cleaned and restored. This major work will take at least a year, possibly two. Together with Mgr Nicholas Hudson, the Rector, I climbed onto the scaffolding so has to have a close look at the ceiling.

In this photo, you can see a small square that has been left uncleaned, showing the contrast:

and here is another photo from up on the scaffolding.

There will be quite a bit of gold leaf used in the restoration work. In Italy, the fine arts commission, known universally as the "Belle Arti" exercise considerable authority over such work. In this case, they spent some time coming to a decision about the exact brightness to be used in the gold leaf.

One of the most important elements of the work will be careful cleaning and restoration of the pictures in the tribune. These give a history of the saints and martyrs of England and Wales. They show some of the martyrs from penal times and depict their sufferings in some detail as an encouragement to their successors. This example shows the torments of some of the Carthusian martyrs:While the works are in progress, Mass is celebrated in the "Martyrs' Chapel". The centrepiece for this chapel is a painting of the martyrdom of St Thomas of Canterbury which has also recently been restored. It is currently hanging in the old "Guardaroba" prior to being re-hung in the Chapel. We also had a chance to see the beautiful third library. Here is an image from our last visit:

Over the years, students have kept a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. This is now a fascinating and unique historical record, going back to the early 19th century. These books have been re-covered, the older volume retaining the original binding.

Finally, we repaired to the Salone which serves as a common room for the staff and a fine room to receive visitors. I took a photo of the painting of St John Fisher. This confirms my impression that it is similar to the recently re-discovered painting at the John Fisher School which was blessed on the day of the consecration of the school chapel in January. My guess is that one of the priests at the Fisher school, perhaps an alumnus of the English College, knew of the painting there and arranged for a copy to be made. I am sorry that the photo below (of the painting in Rome) is not very good. It does need restoring - if there are any devotees of St John Fisher with some money to spare, it would be welcomed for this purpose.

Talking over old times, the Rector brought out a reminder of my days at the College. There was an old sepia photo of a gita to Tusculum during the 1880s. A group of us went out there to recreate the photo 100 years on.

In this closer picture, you can possibly see myself, Fr Guy Nicholls and Bishop Paul Hendricks if you look carefully!

Photos from the Casa Santa Maria

In the photo above, you can see that the windows of the Papal Apartment are closed and shuttered. While the Holy Father was away in America, Fr Charles and I went to the Casa Santa Maria. Here is a photo of their very fine baroque chapel:

There is a plaque listing the American Bishops who have been consecrated in the chapel itself:

There is a side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe with an image dating back to the 16th century:

The house also has a Byzantine chapel: here you can see the altar and tabernacle:

And finally, a photo of our host, Father Martin Edwards, attempting to imitate Pope Paul VI:

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Forte's criticism of Blair lecture

There is an interesting article by Pendennis in the Observer: Tony Blair's forte is not thinking says Forte. Rocco Forte, who paid for the lectures, seems to be unimpressed by the former PM's contribution.
'I don't think Blair is a particularly deep thinker,' Forte told me at a reception thrown by Condé Nast Traveller magazine. 'I don't find him a deep man. He was always voting against his Catholic principles; for example, he voted for abortion. He constantly voted against the ideas of Catholicism
As Pendennis observes, Rocco was out of the country for the lecture
"although for a man who travels as much as he does, it would surely not have been out of the question to return."

Visit to the Casa Santa Maria

I am blogging here courtesy of Fr Martin Edwards and his Apple Computer. I have had an excellent lunch, courtesy of the North American College and now have some photographs of their beautiful chapel.

After some hours, the Apple Computer has finally unfrozen and allowed me to post a photograph. Fr Charles is a devotee of Blessed Pope Pius IX and so it was good to stand with him before the magnificent painting of the great man in the refectory.
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