Saturday, 31 October 2009

VHK chapel in Tallinn

Above you can see the exterior of the main building of the Vanalinna Haridusholleegium (VHK) which is a truly remarkable enterprise, offering education and culture in Tallinn.
Some years ago, the moat around Tallinn was drained - foolishly as it turned out. The resulting effect on the water table meant that the cellars of all the buildings in the older part of Tallinn were flooded with mud. At the VHK, this was eventually cleared to make room for a chapel. Here is the entrance:

The Altar is set up with Ikons (I celebrated a sung Mass here last evening):

Each morning during the Festival, Lauds are sung according to the Cistercian use by a small group of devout early risers.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Tallinn - the Old Town

While in Talllinn, I took a few photos of the Old Town. Here is a slideshow:

Tallinn - the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul

Above you can see the entrance to the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul from "Vene" which is the street name.

Here you can see inside the courtyard:

And here is a close-up of the inscription:

"This is truly the house of God and the gate of heaven. Built 1844. Renewed 1924."

A few shots from the Mass:

In the sacristy afterwards, the excellent team of servers, guided by MC René. Fr Ivo arranged everything for Mass.

(L-R) Joosep Mükael Niitvägiu, Tarho Song, Mihkel Vooglaid, me, René Allik, Fr Ivo Ounpuu

Küng criticises Pope,sun rises in East, bears etc.

In his post are you scared?, Diogenes reports that Hans Küng has criticised the Holy Father's generous initiative in offering Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans who wish to be united in full communion with the Holy See as the "unecumencial piracy of priests". Küng says:
The pope’s basic message is: “Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!”
Diogenes observes:
Küng seems to think that readers will find that message alarming.

New media: the Pope gets it

The Holy Father has addressed the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on the subject of the new media:
These days you have paused to reflect on the new technologies of communication. Even a not very attentive observer can easily see that in our time, thanks to the most modern technologies, a genuine revolution is taking place in the realm of social communications, of which the Church is ever more responsibly conscious. These technologies make possible a speedy and penetrating communication, with a capacity to share ideas and opinions; to facilitate acquiring information and news in a personal way accessible to all.
I must confess to chuckling at the phrase "even a not very attentive observer" - there are still some who are totally oblivious.

He says later in the message:
I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to invite those who work in the Church in the realm of communication and have responsibilities of pastoral guidance to take up the challenges that these new technologies pose to evangelization.
Yes, Holy Father - and thank you.

The Holy Father also mentions a resource that is in the care of the Curia:
The Vatican Film Archive has, therefore, a rich cultural patrimony, which belongs to the whole of humanity.
That sounds a little like support for the idea of the "open source", "creative commons" style of availability. I hope that the Vatican can take this up in accord with the principles of social teaching, and the Church's attitude to social communications.

See also comments from Fr Z on this.

In praise of Estonia: coffee, cigars, wifi, metaphysics, and early Christian music

My goodness but Estonia is a civilised place! At Talinn airport there is a shop selling fine cigars. I used up my Estonian Crowns to buy some of their more modestly priced varieties. Annexed is a café where you are invited to smoke said cigars while enjoying a cup of coffee. And this being Estonia, (as indeed applies in Helsinki also) everywhere has free wifi as a matter of principle: hence this post while my Easyjet flight is delayed - by an hour so far.

This morning after sung Lauds, I met Professor Piotr Jarosynski, a Polish metaphysician who teaches at Lublin university. Unfortunately I missed his lecture in order to get to the airport in good time (I should not have bothered!). He organises international conferences in Lublin to explore the use of media in the service of culture and I may possibly get to one such conference in the future.

Also over coffee earlier today, I quizzed my hosts on the rationale behind the extraordinarily evocative style of Gregorian chant that they use here. It turns out that one of the key players in TriaLogos has spent many years researching early Christian music, with it Jewish roots. Hence the timeless style that dispenses with the embellishments of Solesmes - they are quite vehement about that here. I am looking forward to receiving a CD with some recordings of the singing.

Catholic Union Reception

The Catholic Union is holding a Drinks Reception at St Wilfrid’s Hall, the London Oratory 19 November 2009, from 7-9pm. The Reception will be preceded by Mass in the Little Oratory at 6:30pm in the extraordinary form.

From the Catholic Union website:
The Union exists in England and Wales and Scotland to advocate, express and uphold, by all proper and legitimate means, Catholic moral and spiritual principles and interests, and to promote Christian standpoint in public affairs, regardless of political parties and affiliations.
The Catholic Union has taken on a new lease of life in recent years. For more information about the Union, see the website. The Catholic Union is actively recruiting new members to ensure that the Catholic voice continues to be heard at Westminster on issues such as euthanasia, abortion and adoption.

The ticket price of £25 for the Drinks Reception includes one year’s free membership of the Catholic Union (usually £30). Applications for tickets, including the names of guests, accompanied by a cheque payable to “Catholic Union of Great Britain” should be sent to Mr James Pavey at Regency House, 25 High Street, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1UT.

As the number of tickets is limited, please apply before 9 November 2009. If you have any queries or wish to confirm the availability of tickets, please e-mail

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Pics and vid from Tallinn

Marko Tervaportti had to get back to Helsinki (2 hour ferry from Tallinn) and has let put up a couple of photos from his collection. Above is a photo from Mass yesterday in the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul. Below is a video that he made at the Mass, the Dance, and at Lauds this morning.

This afternoon, we had the book launch of "Südametunnistusest" the Estonian translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's book "On Conscience", published by the Elukultuuri Instituut. I gave a short presentation of the book, highlighting the importance of the problem of conscience today, and of Cardinal Ratzinger's treatment of it in the two lectures that form the short book. For any Estonian speakers reading this, here is a link to buy the book (141 EEK)

Bishop Philippe Jean-Charles Jourdan kindly came to the book launch and I had a chance to meet him. He was ordained in 1988 as a priest of Opus Dei and appointed Apostolic Administrator of Estonia in 2005. We had a photo together but that was on my camera so will have to wait until I am home tomorrow evening.

After the book launch, I sang a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament in the basement chapel of the School, and then had a chance to meet up with Jim Corum, an old friend from student days who is now Dean of the Baltic Defence College and very much enjoying living and working in Estonia.

Mass, dancing and culture

Don't worry - we did not have the dancing and the Mass at the same time. Last night I celebrated Mass in the usus antiquior at the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul for the feast of St Simon and St Jude. The choir sang the chants from the Graduale, with Mass II. Parts of this were done in a very Eastern-sounding style with a faux-bourdon arrangement but with the dominant note constantly sung by one of the cantors. The effect was quite stunning and very prayerful.

After Mass, I was taken to the "Dance Club" with Leanne Parbo "Vanalinna Muusikamajas" ("Old Town Music"). This was in a house which is part of the whole Vanalinna Haridusholleegium (VHK - "Old Town Education College") school complex. This is a remarkable achievement, offering education through all grades, including the fine arts, based on a "master-disciple" ethos.

The Dance Club has a cafeteria in the basement which served us with characteristically Estonian broth and meat pastry. We also had some black bread which was entirely produced by the school - they have their own field to grow wheat. After eating, we went upstairs to see the dancing and I was amazed to see how very similar it was to a Scottish Ceilidh. Lots of young people were enjoying themselves in set dances accompanied by an Estonian bagpipe and an accordion. It was explained to me that dancing managed to continue during the Soviet era because it is less obvious to see how one could censor dances.

This morning, we had Lauds in the chapel at the VHK school. This was chanted in Latin from, I think, the Cistercian books. Everyone just gathered round the large Antiphonale and Psalterium and followed the cantor.

After coffee in a beautiful local cafe, it was time for me to give my lecture on Fr Adrian Fortescue. This seemed to be well received: I can relax a bit more now. I answered questions posed both in English and Estonian - thanks to the highly skilled and efficient simultaneous translation service. You can download the lecture if you want to read it. The biographical information is mostly taken from Michael Davies' book "The Wisdom of Adrian Fortescue".

The second lecture was a thought-provoking illustrated talk on "The Influence of Art and Ambience on Christian Life" by Nelson Fragelli from Brazil. I was delighted to find that Mr Fragelli was a friend of Raymond de Souza who visited my parish earlier this year. He was accompanied by Valdis Grinsteins who lives in Krakow and publishes the magazine Polonia Christiana.

This afternoon, we will hear from Lina Dovgan on "Protective Signs in the Tradition of Rearing Children: Signs in Interior Decoration, on Toys, Clothing, Garments, Dishes and Egg-painting." English readers will immediately see the similarity with the work of Joanna Bogle in encouraging families to celebrate feasts and seasons.

It is quite remarkable that this truly cosmopolitan festival with people from all over the world gathered in Estonia, has shown how many concerns we share in common, and how we face similar problems, whether recovering from years of Soviet domination, tackling the assault of neo-Marxism in South America, or fighting the onslaught of aggressive secularism. The recovery of the sacred in the Liturgy, the promotion of the sanctity of human life, the defence of the family, and of Christian culture are all subjects on which, despite our different languages, backgrounds and social situations, we find ourselves not only agreeing upon in principle, but largely presenting the same challenges, more or less advanced depending on the country.

This post should be illustrated with lovely photos and videos but I have left my mini-USB lead behind so you'll have to be patient until I can borrow one. Perhaps some photos later...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hello from Tallinn

Just a quick "Hello" from Tallinn. Immediately on arriving, I caught the end of an interesting lecture on Icons by Nikita Andrejev. Later today I am just off now to celebrate Mass at the Cathedral.

Tallinn has a beautiful old quarter but it is desperately sad to see prominent strip clubs and the like littering the edges of the quarter, driven in no small measure, I expect, by the "Stag Party" trade from England.

I have already take a few photos from the old quarter but guess what? I forgot the mini USB lead so can't upload them. I expect to get that sorted tomorrow in my nice spotlessley clean and very nordic hotel. Room service includes Reindeer Liver with Wasabi mushrooms.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Oh yes! Storm heaven!

Ignatius Insight has this most encouraging piece of - well OK - gossip:
CATHOLIC circles in Rome and Australia are abuzz with speculation that Pope Benedict XVI will shortly appoint Australia's Cardinal George Pell to a prestigious job in the top echelons of the Roman Curia [...]

[...] One possible senior job becoming vacant in Rome is the powerful position of Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, which helps advise the Pope on the appointment of new bishops across the world.
See: Is Cardinal George Pell headed to a key Vatican post?

If this were true, it would be very good news indeed. Time to storm heaven with prayers.

A language understanded of the people?

Considering today some of the notices of Bishop Trautman's latest attack on the new ICEL translations (cf. Fr Z, and Diogenes, for example) I was minded to look up one of the first essays in producing a book of worship in "a language understanded of the people" Here are some examples.
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation

Prevent us O Lord, in all our doings

Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin: and that our Saviour Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost
Meet, supplications, dispose, prevent, forasmuch, regenerate - not to mention vouchsafe, and graft - "Them's all fancy words!"

Many Catholics will object that the words ineffable, wrought, and gibbet can be perfectly well understood by an intelligent person who, if necessary can consult a dictionary. For others, as it is well urged, the priest can explain what the words mean.

Nevertheless, we should recognise that people do in fact vary in their ability to understand unusual words. It is undoubtedly true that some people will not understand "them fancy words"; but one is then obliged to ask whether the same people will understand, for example, the arguments advanced by St Paul in his letter to the Romans read at them earnestly throughout the corpus of the Lectionary.

The mistake at the heart of the whole argument is to think that we can come up with a form of words that will be immediately accessible to everyone. Having studied psychology, I do not subscribe to the confidence that Eysenck and others placed in the modern psychological theory of IQ. Nevertheless, it may be taken as a convenient, if rough measure. Someone with a relatively high IQ (let us say, above 120) might be expected to understand the "fancy words" or to be able to cope with them by referring to a reference book. Someone with an IQ of 100 might find this a little daunting. Someone with an IQ of 80 or below would simply be left behind.

Should any such consideration be of the slightest interest in our celebration of the Liturgy? I would say that it has no place whatsoever. The Liturgy is for all, and should be available for all, regardless of their academic ability or attainment.

Does this mean that we should make every word in the Liturgy immediately accessible to those who, for no fault of their own, could not cope well with words like "ineffable" or "vouchsafe"? Obviously not - otherwise, we would inevitably discriminate against those who can. Much more effective would be to allow the Sacred Liturgy to appeal to people of all abilities, some following each word with academic understanding, others, loving the beauty and solemnity in a way that is beyond literary expression.

The great thing is that in Catholic thinking, neither is superior. The humble person who is functionally illiterate may have a spiritual life far more pleasing to God than the post-doctoral student who can tell you the history of the prayers of the Gelasian sacramentary; and vice versa. What matters is not our ability to comprehend every sentence but our love of the Good Lord.

Any attempt to make the words of the Liturgy immediately comprehensible to everyone will be doomed to failure. What we must do is to preserve the riches of our tradition so that it is available to everyone to participate in the way best suited to the character and aptitude of each. The reduction of the Liturgy to a didactic style suited to the struggling undergraduate will do nobody any favours. The recovery of the Liturgy which offers a wide range of styles of participation will be genuinely egalitarian, and, in pastoral terms, help to bring back those who have been repelled by forms that are perceived as either patronising reductionism, or overly theoretical and misplaced attempts to appease those who have walked away because the beauty and dignity that can be appreciated wordlessly has been emptied away.

Monday, 26 October 2009

TriaLogos Festival in Estonia

The TriaLogos Festival has been held in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, each year since 1998. I will be attending the Festival from Wednesday to Friday this week. I have been asked to celebrate a sung Mass in the usus antiquior in the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Tallinn (picture below). This will not be an unusual thing since the Cathedral has Mass in the usus antiquor twice a month. I'll also celebrate another usus antiquior Mass on the Thursday in the Chapel of the Conference Centre. On Thursday morning, I am giving a paper on the life and work of Fr Adrian Fortescue, and in the afternoon I'll be speaking at the launch of the Estonian translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's book "On Conscience" which is published by the Institute for the Culture of Life [Elukultuuri Instituut].

I have never been to Estonia before, so I am very much looking forward to the trip. It is surprisingly easy to get there: the budget airline EasyJet has a daily flight from Stansted Airport to Tallinn. I am looking forward to meeting Varro Vooglaid, Father Ivo Õunpu, and Rainar Aasrand, who have been in contact with me to organise the trip. Marko and Pilvi Tervaportti, my hosts on a trip to Helsinki in March 2008, are coming over for the conference so it will be great to hear news of the Church in Finland and their courageous new bishop. My friend from Oxford days, Lt Colonel James Sterling Corum is teaching at the Staff College in Estonia and so I'll also be able to catch up with him, his wife Lynne and their son Tommy. I'm only sorry not to be able to stay longer, but it should be a most fascinating couple of days. Tallinn is a beautiful city and the Festival is held in the old town.

Right now I have to put the finishing touches to my lecture, and find out a bit about Estonia before I go. Checking on the google currency calculator, I find that £100 sterling will get me 1706.84 Estonian Kroon. I'll try and learn how at least how to say palun and tänan (please and thank you).

Here is a quotation from the Introduction to the Festival:
The festival has evolved in the context of the revival of Tallinn’s ancient spirituality. During the last 35 years a spiritual movement of young intellectuals has developed in the district of Tallinn where in the 14th century the Dominican monastery founded the town’s first school. With the passing of years this small district has grown into a cultural environment with different studios, schools and craftsmen’s guilds. Since the educational and intellectual language of this region was for centuries Latin, the district is now called the Latin Quarter.

Surviving documents of the Dominican school, including vernacular notes in 15th century Latin documents, bear witness to openness and ability to dialogue that was prevalent in the Medieval monastic culture. Contrary to well-rooted myths, such and other evidence points to wide freedom of language, thought and expression during the Middle Age.

Organizers of festival TriaLogos try to learn from the mistakes of our past and attempt to replace cultural dictatorship with a space of dialogue that was the cradle and implantation of Christian and educated Europe. The intention of the festival is the revival and preservation of a free and open cultural forum of dialogue between dominant contemporary ways of thinking and the tradition of thought that has flourished in the Latin Quarter for centuries.

Quarant' Ore and longing for heaven

I have had a lot of very positive feedback from people who came to the 40 Hours devotion in the parish. This has all confirmed my own enthusiasm for it and I am sure we will be able to do even better next year. The Mulier Fortis has posted more photos, some of which I have pasted in below.

The young people who stayed all through the second night had breakfast together in the Hall in the morning. The adult helpers deserve a pat on the back for their generosity too, in supervising and making sure that everyone was safe.

The next photo of the consecration at the Mass of Reposition is unusual in that Mass is celebrated coram sanctissimo. During this form of Mass, the priest does quite a bit more genuflecting than usual and does not at any time turn his back on the Blessed Sacrament. After Mass, I had the incongruous thought of the scene in "Gladiator" where the gladiators are told to face the emperor "AND DON'T TURN YOUR BACK ON HIM". At the incensations, the priest goes to the bottom step and incenses the Blessed Sacrament while kneeling, at the time when he would normally incense the crucifix.

After Mass, the Litany of the Saints is sung, followed by a procession round the Church.

Finally, there is solemn Benediction and the Blessed Sacrament is reposed.

Several people said to me that they felt a tinge of sadness at the reposition after a long period of devotion and prayer. This is a very worthy sentiment and shows that the devotion had a good effect. Such occasions as these can create in us a longing for the eternal - the kind of desire that C.S. Lewis speaks of in Mere Christianity:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
To desire to remain in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is to desire heaven where we hope to be in the presence of God for all eternity, no longer seeing Him under the veil of signs and symbols in the earthly Liturgy, but with an immediate intuitive vision in the heavenly Liturgy. To long for heaven can help us to fear losing it by sin, and to pray more earnestly for the grace to persevere in the love of God.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Quarant' Ore second night

For the second night of our Forty Hours devotion, we had a Missa Cantata (the Mass for Peace) at the Lady altar. It was a little cramped so we only had the MC, thurfier, two acolytes and two torchbearers. I was proud that all the servers were under 15 years old. My sermon drew largely from Pope Benedict's writing on truth and conscience since I am reading his little book on conscience at the moment.

Tonight the Youth Group are staying all night. After Mass they got in some fish and chips and we watched the film about St Thérèse (Amazon link below) which came out a couple of years ago. It was perhaps a little slow for some of the younger ones but the second half of the film is quite moving, and rewarded those who persevered. During this time, there was a good number of people watching in the Church and, after the film, the youngsters went in to take a turn.

I have been very pleased that the devotion has gone so well. Putting on the Forty Hours is daunting in a one man parish, but my parishioners have really responded generously, making me enthusiastic about holding this every year. I would go so far as to say that it is one of the best things that I have done in 25 years of priesthood. It is a great blessing for the parish and would recommend any parish priest to consider trying it. A spin-off for the priest is that you get to say all your office, meditation and rosary before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. I enjoyed the thought earlier tonight that I was saying Matins and Lauds at the same time as the Carthusians; not that I took as long as them, mind you!

As it is usually done now, the Forty Hours starts with evening Mass, carries on over two nights and one full day, then finishes with a morning Mass. We have used the older form of Mass (in addition to a newer form Mass this morning); that is not essential, of course (though it is rather special.) In any event, it is good to celebrate the Masses with some solemnity, the use of incense and torches and so on.

I am taking notes during this year's devotion so that we can make it even better next year. One thing to watch is the care of the candles. Today, during the day, I was a little bit late on one occasion and had to do quite a bit of scraping wax out of candle holders when some of the candles had burnt down too far. On a less pedestrian note, it occurred to me that it might also be a good idea to sing Compline some time after the evening Masses. There was a good number of confessions after Mass this evening so that is something to put in the schedule too. My good friend Fr Stephen Boyle currently has the Forty Hours at his parish of the Good Shepherd in New Addington. The other day he told me ruefully on the phone that his runs over Saturday night: the clocks go back on Saturday so they have an extra hour of watching during the night.

One of my enthusiastic older servers pointed out that Fortescue says that ideally there should be a priest in choir dress and stole present in the sanctuary for the whole time. I'm not sure I could manage that on my own (though whenever I have been watching, I have put on a cotta and stole and taken a place in the sanctuary.) I'll get a few hours sleep now before joining the early birds first thing and then singing the Mass of Reposition later in the morning. I have never said Mass before the Blessed Sacrament exposed so I am going to have a quick look at Fortescue first...

The above photo is from Mulier Fortis. She has some more pictures from last night and I expect more will be forthcoming from tonight and tomorrow morning.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Personal Prelatures and the laity

In a recent post, I wrote about the "Personal Ordinariate":
"It is not the same as a Personal Prelature which canonically only concerns clerics"
Fr Paul Hayward replied in the combox:
- that might be the impression from just looking at canon 294 of the Code of Canon Law, but in view of canon 296, plus the specific provisions of the Apostolic Constitution "Ut Sit" by which the only Personal Prelature to date, Opus Dei, was established, and the Statutes of the Prelature as given by Pope John Paul II, it is quite clear that the lay members are fully incorporated into the Prelature.

Canonically, Personal Prelatures and Military Ordinariates seem to fall in the same genre: it remains to be seen whether Personal Ordinariates do also.
Here are the texts of the canons mentioned:
Can. 294 After the conferences of bishops involved have been heard, the Apostolic See can erect personal prelatures, which consist of presbyters and deacons of the secular clergy, to promote a suitable distribution of presbyters or to accomplish particular pastoral or missionary works for various regions or for different social groups.

Can. 296 Lay persons can dedicate themselves to the apostolic works of a personal prelature by agreements entered into with the prelature. The statutes, however, are to determine suitably the manner of this organic cooperation and the principal duties and rights connected to it.
The St Josemaria website has the text of the Apostolic Constitution Ut Sit. Some relevant extracts:
Since Opus Dei has grown, with the help of divine grace, to the extent that it has spread and works in a large number of dioceses throughout the world, as an apostolic organism made up of priests and laity, both men and women, which is at the same time organic and undivided -- that is to say, as an institution endowed with a unity of spirit, of aims, of government and of formation - it has become necessary to give it a juridical configuration which is suited to its specific characteristics.
"It" being Opus Dei, the apostolic organism made up of priests and laity. Then Ut Sit establishes:
Opus Dei is erected as a personal Prelature, international in ambit, with the name of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, or, in abbreviated form, Opus Dei.
Then later, there is specific mention of the laity of Opus Dei:
The jurisdiction of the personal Prelature extends to the clergy incardinated in it, and also only in what refers to the fulfillment of the specific obligations undertaken through the juridical bond, by means of a contract with the Prelature to the laity who dedicate themselves to the apostolic activities of the Prelature: both clergy and laity are under the authority of the Prelate in carrying out the pastoral task of the Prelature [...]
(For the sake of avoiding confusion, I should mention that there is reference to the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross which is is erected as a clerical Association "intrinsically united to the Prelature." The Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross is a society for diocesan priests who wish to be associated with Opus Dei - it is distinct from the priests who are actually members of Opus Dei.)

Since the "Personal Ordinariate" is a new thing canonically, I suppose it remains to be seen just exactly how it will differ from a Personal Prelature or a Military Ordinariate. I'm sure this will be a topic of learned discussion among canonists. I hasten to add that I am not a canonist - just trying to get things right. Comments from m'learned canonical brethren will be welcome.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Quarant' Ore and the Pope of Christian Unity

This evening our Forty Hours in the parish began with the splendid ceremonies of the Missa Cantata, followed by the Blessed Sacrament Procession and the Litany of the Saints.

For my sermon, I emphasised first of all the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ, without which this devotion would be meaningless. I also spoke of the fruits of the Holy Eucharist in terms of our union with Christ and the pledge of future glory, but especially of the unity of the Church. In this respect I was inspired by Fr Zuhlsdorf's post "Whose ecumenism?" in which he suggests that we should start calling Pope Benedict

The Pope of Christian Unity

Pope Benedict has begun to "walk the walk" rather than simply "talk the talk" on ecumenism, providing for the real and concrete prospect of unity with those Anglicans who share our faith. It would be insulting to refer to negotiations with the SSPX as "ecumenism" but the Holy Father has unambiguously set out his motivation for those negotiations as one of wanting to maintain and regain reconciliation and unity. Let me quote the accompanying letter to Summorum Pontificum:
Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.
A sea-change has come about over the past few days. After decades of resigning ourselves to inoffensive prayer services and polite discussions to understand each other better, Pope Benedict has sent a powerful pulse through the Church to remind us all that the search for Christian Unity has an end result in view: "one Lord, one faith, one baptism", not as a pious ideal among those who courteously disagree, but as a living reality, concretely achieved despite the opposition of the world.

Then and now

H/T to Anna Arco for this splendid cartoon from Punch in the wake of the restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850. As Anna points out, it does reflect the mood of the Times both then and now.

Newman on a scheme for reunion

Following the announcement of the provision for Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to come into communion with the Catholic Church, the blog for the cause of Newman's canonisation offers a topical reflection on Newman's perspective, especially on a proposal to the Holy See by Ambrose Phillipps de Lisle.

Newman saw some difficulties in the scheme. He said:
The Roman priests would be complaining that the rich splendid Anglican Church in their mission was drawing away at least the young generation
Some days later, Newman wrote more positively:
Nothing will rejoice me more than to find that the Holy See considers it safe and promising to sanction some such plan as the Pamphlet suggests. I give my best prayers, such as they are, that some means of drawing to us so many good people, who are now shivering at our gates, may be discovered.
It is well worth reading the whole article. See: Benedict XVI and Anglican Converts: Newman’s Perspective

Afternoon of Reflection and Worship (Radiant Light)

I received news of this event today and thought that some of you might like to go along. You can find out more information about the pictures at the Radiant Light website.

Afternoon of reflection and worship
An afternoon of reflection and worship, including talk by artist Elizabeth Wang and Holy Mass. Saturday 31 October 2009, 2pm - 4pm, Carmelite Church, 41 Kensington Church Street, Kensington, London, W8 4BB

'The Mystery of Faith' an exhibition of new and rarely seen pictures by Elizabeth Wang has been on display since the summer in Kensington. On Saturday 31 October, the last day of the exhibition, there will be an afternoon of reflection and worship in the Carmelite Church where the exhibition is taking place. This includes a talk by artist Elizabeth Wang at 2pm on the exhibition theme 'The Mystery of Faith', together with time for prayer and meditation; Holy Mass at 3pm, followed by refreshments in the parish hall. All are welcome, it will be nice to have a chance to meet one another. No tickets are required, just turn up on the afternoon. Many people may have already seen the pictures while visiting the relics of St Thérèse in the Carmelite church. This event will give visitors a chance to spend more time with the pictures.

The Carmelite church is five minutes walk from High Street Kensington tube station and ten minutes walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station. If you would like to visit the exhibition before 31 October there is still time. The Church is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Entrance is free, the exhibition is closed during services. The exhibition features large-scale prints of some of Elizabeth's paintings. Most of the pictures are recent works, and will be new even to those who know Elizabeth's work well. We hope you will be able to visit.

Please note that the exhibition is in a different church this year and NOT at the French Church.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Oxford University Newman Society

The Oxford University Newman Society has a new blog which has been given some history from old reports of previous events. The Michaelmas Term programme started off with a talk by Fr Thomas Crean OP on the inconsistencies of atheism. A star event in this term's programme will be on 30 November: a symposium in which Evan Harris MP and Bishop John Arnold will debate the place of Christianity in the British Constitution.

Some background on the new “Personal Ordinariates”

From various sources, information has been pouring in about the recent arrangement made by the Holy See for the new “Personal Ordinariates”. In this article I will try to piece together a few principal points of interest.

This was not an initiative of the Holy See but of over 50 Anglican Bishops, of whom about half are still in the Anglican Communion, and about half have seceded in recent years. There was no specific negotiation with the Traditional Anglican Communion.

The Holy See was concerned that the approaches of Anglican Bishops could not, in all charity, simply be dismissed, as some would have preferred. To reiterate the point, the Holy See did not initiate this process but responded generously to appeals from those who wanted to come into communion, rather than simply insisting that each individual should be received individually.

The Holy See has been working for years on this matter and has always been in favour of generous provision, in accordance with the historic attitude of the Holy See to include those whose traditions are not necessarily entirely Roman. In 1993 (after the ordination of women was approved in the Church of England), it was local Catholic Bishops who opposed any arrangements for corporate reunion, however, the radical liberal agenda at work in the Anglican Communion has so changed the landscape in the intervening period that even the most liberal of Catholic Bishops are no longer a priori opposed to such a corporate provision.

The process leading to the new Apostolic Constitution has been an extraordinarily complex, in-depth study, involving widespread consultation, and including communications with sitting Bishops of the Anglican Communion who were in favour of some such arrangement. The Holy See could not simply refuse to talk to such parties clamouring for full canonical union with the Catholic Church. Naturally the process of consultation involved the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, whose Secretary (Bishop Brian Farrell) is a Consultor of the CDF, and whose President (Cardinal Kasper) is one of the 15 Cardinal Members of the CDF. Some elements within the Pontifical Council were obviously not too happy with the whole notion of corporate reunion, however, in the end they were outvoted.

The arrangement of “Personal Ordinariates” is canonically a new arrangement. It is not the same as a Personal Prelature which canonically only concerns clerics. As was mentioned in the Note from the CDF, a “Personal Ordinariate” is something like the arrangement for the Military, that is, it is like a non-territorial diocese. It includes lay people but they also have a relationship with the local Bishop. The Personal Ordinary has potestas vicaria (vicarious power) which is dependent on the Holy See. However there is also cumulative jurisdiction, in that those in the Personal Ordinariate are subject both to their personal Ordinary and to the local Bishop. Therefore the Personal Ordinariates must necessarily co-operate with the local Bishops. Thus the arrangement is different from the Uniate Churches in that the Personal Ordiariates are canonically within the Western Rite.

For many of the Anglicans who have petitioned for an arrangement whereby they can come into full communion, the primary issue is not the ordination of women or of gays but that of authority. For the Church to function properly in accordance with the will of Christ, there must ultimately be a primatial see with real universal jurisdiction. The arrangements offered by the Holy See are courageous and to be welcomed. They show yet again the determination of Pope Benedict XVI to promote unity within the Church without insisting on uniformity of rites or customs. The Holy See’s provision of the new arrangements is a historic landmark for genuine Christian Unity as envisaged by Vatican II understood genuinely as in continuity with the tradition of the Church.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Videos of this morning's press conferences

Here are a couple of YouTube videos that have been posted of today's momentous press conferences. First from the Sala Stampa of the Holy See:

And secondly from the briefing at Eccleston Square:

I am receiving information from many sources about today's events and trying to filter it in the midst of various other duties. I'll post something in due course to try to give some background to these events.

Anglican Personal Ordinariates

The Holy See has announced a forthcoming Apostolic Constitution which will establish
Personal Ordinariates which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.
The Note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith specifies that the Apostolic Constitution "provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy" but that Bishops will have to be unmarried men, in accord with the historic tradition of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, the possibility is left open for the Ordinary to be a priest rather than a Bishop.

The "Background Information" given with the note mentions Henry VIII, the growth of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the work of ecumenism. It also says:
In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
The joint statement from Archbishop Nichols and Archbishop Williams focuses particularly on the ecumenical question. This rather cuts both ways. If the new arrangement is "consistent with" (CDF) and "one consequence of" (Nichols/Williams) the ecumenical dialogue of the past forty years, then this is something of a "Summorum Pontificum moment" in that the post-conciliar ecumenical dialogue is seen something that can lead to a canonical structure under the authority of the Holy See. This is consistent with the understanding of Vatican II according to a hermeneutic of continuity but one could be forgiven at some times during the past forty years for thinking that ecumenical dialogue was not actually intended to lead in this direction.

The new structure will, of course, open up the possibility in England of "Anglican Use" Churches in communion with the Holy See, providing a further option for Catholics wishing to fulfil their Sunday obligation.

I am pleased at the news and offer my warmest congratulations to all those Anglicans who have been longing for such an arrangement. I wonder whether the development of the "Anglican Use" ordinariates will help in the recovery of at least some elements of our distinctive English Sarum use that were lost at the Reformation alongside those that were preserved in the Church of England.

Nichols-Williams press conference this morning

Further to the Holy See Briefing on Anglican relations which will be given at 11am this morning, there has also been an announcement of a joint press conference at Eccleston Square at 10am (the one hour time difference means that the two briefings will begin simultaneously.)

The Catholic News Agency reports speculation in the Italian media that the announcement will concern the reception of a large number of members of the Traditional Anglican Communion, allowing them to use their own rite. Given the presence of the CDF and the CDW at the Rome briefing that seems not unlikely.

Later this morning we can all stop speculating!

Alasdair MacIntyre on Newman

The website for the cause for the Canonisation of John Henry Cardinal Newman has an article highlighting the reflections of the distinguished philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre: Alasdair MacIntyre on Newman: Education, Conscience and Faith today.

MacIntyre recently spoke concerning the cause for Newman's beatification and has developed his thinking on Newman in his latest book God, Philosophy, Universities (2009)

Monday, 19 October 2009

40 Hours at Blackfen Thursday-Saturday

This week, we have the Forty Hours Devotion at Blackfen. This is the first time we have had this at Blackfen for decades, and it is in fact the first time that I have taken part in the devotion. We begin with Missa Cantata at 8pm on Thursday, with Procession and Litany. There is an English Mass at 10am on Friday, then a Missa Cantata at 8pm. The devotion concludes with Missa Cantata on Saturday at 10.30am with Litany and Procession.

I was nervous before the weekend as people had been slow to sign up. The parish Youth Group are going to be there all night Friday to Saturday and then the excellent Knights of St Columba said that they would cover any slots unsigned for. Now, however, most of the hours are covered and so the Knights can choose their times to provide a little extra security for others.

Of course, if you are in the vicinity of Blackfen, you are most welcome to call in to make a visit at any time. I pray that this devotion will bring many blessings upon my parish, not least vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, which have been known as one of the fruits of this devotion.

Holy See Briefing on Anglican relations tomorrow

It's a good job I checked the Vatican Bolletino this evening. I haven't seen this picked up elsewhere except for the redoubtable Rafaella at Papa Ratzinger blog and Le Suisse Romain:
We inform accredited journalists that tomorrow, Tuesday 20 October 2009, at 11am, in the John Paul II Hall of the Press Office of the Holy See, a briefing will be held on a theme pertaining to the relationship with the Anglicans, at which His Eminence Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and His Excellency Mgr Joseph Augustine Di Noia OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will take part.
That's all very interesting. I'll have to keep the phone charged to check up on the briefing tomorrow lunchtime.

Fr Crean OP to speak at "Call toYouth"

I am happy to pass on news of this forthcoming talk in the London Oratory's Call to Youth series.

Thursday 29 October at 8pm, St Wilfrid's Hall

Fr Thomas Crean O.P. will be speaking on:
The Kingship of Christ & Religious Liberty

Father Crean is the author of the best-selling A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins, and has recently published an excellent work of Catholic apologetic entitled "Letters to a Non-Believer". For information about this and other publications, see the webpage for Fr Crean OP.

The question of religious liberty has been one of the hottest potatoes of theological debate in recent decades. Father Crean has studied the subject in depth.

Please come along if you are 18-35 & bring your friends. If you are new, do make yourself known to Fr Julian Large. As usual: food & drink afterwards.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Massive pro-life demo in Madrid

AP Photo/Arturo Rodriguez

There was another massive pro-life demo in Madrid yesterday, with the theme "Cada Vida Importa" ("Every Life Matters"). Even the regional government admitted that more than a million turned up - the organisers estimate 2 million. Zapatero's abortion bill would allow abortion on demand up to 14 weeks and allow doctors to carry out abortions of the babies of girls aged 16-17 without their parents' consent.

Here is a video from the Spanish station RTVE:

1st Solemn High EF Mass at St Peter's in 40 years

The group Giovani e Tradizione have been holding their "Summorum Pontificum" conference at Rome. The conference was mentioned in the greetings by the Holy Father after today's Angelus. Today, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Segnatura, said the first Solemn High usus antuquior Mass in the Basilica of St Peter's for 40 years, in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Mass was attended by Bishop Schneider (author of "Dominus Est"); Mgr Pozzo (Secretary of Ecclesia Dei) and over a hundred priests were present. There are more photos (including the above one) at the Messa in Latino blog.

You can read Robert Moynihan's narrative of how he got the news of the Mass. There are also lots of photos at JP Sonnen's Orbis Catholicus blog. Here is a short video of part of the Mass from Gloria TV:

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The post at Messa in Latino tells the tale of petty obstruction that will be all too familiar to anyone who has spent time in Rome. First of all, the day before the Mass, the time was changed to half an hour earlier. (Something similar happened at Lourdes with the time of the usus antiquior Mass there.) Then, on arrival at the Basilica, people who asked about the Mass were told that there wasn't one - there was a Novus Ordo Mass at the Altar of the Chair. After insisting (English people find it difficult to insist in the right way to achieve results), they were grudgingly directed to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. This was guarded by a dozen "Sampietrini" and Vatican Police and they were told that it was a private ceremony for a group. Again insisting (and being threatened with being kicked out), they managed to get nearer. The chapel, of course, was filled to overflowing.

This is all very typical of life in Rome and the Vatican - and by no means limited to matters surrounding traditional liturgy. If you live or work there, you gradually get used to it - not before several times wanting to pull your own head off in frustration. The consoling thing is that these high-profile Masses are obviously not going to stop any time soon, and the petty officials will, over time, be slapped down and given more specific orders.

A comment on unity

Joe at Catholic Commentary has posted a follow-up comment to my remarks on unity and the SSPX in the context of State interference in funeral of Chinese Bishop. It is well worth reading in view of Joe's familiarity with the Holy Father's Letter to Chinese Catholics.

See: A Comment on Unity

Saturday, 17 October 2009

An evening of Faith, YouTube and Vocations

The Faith group at the John Fisher School continues to thrive under the guidance of the indomitable "Sir Dan of the Blogosphere". Dan acts as a kind of human version of Google Reader, phoning me up regularly with carefully chosen snippets from Rorate Caeli, LifeSite News, Fr Z, NLM, St John's Valdosta and others. He is a great example of a "Silver Surfer" - he was a teacher when I was a boy, and has carried on in a pastoral role at the school since his retirement.

Last evening, I went over to talk to the Faith Group at the school on the subject of "What makes man unique?": the principal thesis being "We have a spiritual and immortal soul [De Fide]". Sadly, Takapuna, the house where priests used to live when there were many teaching at the school, is now boarded up and surrounded by mesh fencing. Nevertheless, the new venue in the Sixth Form Centre is good. One advantage of the new venue is the projector and interactive whiteboard with a live internet connection that actually works. So we could have a look at some blogs and YouTube channels before and after the talk.

The mix of boys was a bit daunting; there were some "Year 7s" (11-12 years old) and a couple of sixth formers (16-18 years old) but one of the healthy characteristics of the school is that the older boys have a good pastoral relationship with the younger ones and so the mix of quick-fire questions from elementary ones about what the soul is to advanced ones involving the relationship to God, free will and Pelagianism, could all be dealt with in due course with nobody getting impatient.

One good indicator of how this school continues to produce vocations (4 currently in seminary) is that the Headmaster, Mark Scully, on a Friday evening, after a week of bureaucracy and day-to-day problems, took the opportunity to come in and then to stay for tea and toast and an informal chat with the sixth formers with the occasional admonition to the younger ones to be careful with the snooker cue.

Recently, in the school newsletter, Mr Scully posted this photograph of one of the boards in the School Hall. Many schools have rugby, football and cricket honours. John Fisher has a board listing those who have been ordained priest or deacon or who have entered religious life. (Click to enlarge - I'm proud to have my name on there!) On the sports front, I should mention the recent glorious victory of the First XV over Whitgift in a match which attracted over 1000 spectators; the local people come along for this as well as parents and friends.

With a live internet connection, a couple of the boys were determined to show me the YouTube video of Potter Puppet Pals in "The Mysterious Ticking Noise". I resisted for a bit but then gave in out of curiosity; it has had over 70 million views which is impressive. I found it quite funny.

New Bl Teresa of Calcutta video

H/T to the Monstrous Regiment of Women for this trailer to a new film about Blessed
Teresa of Calcutta;

And just by way of serendipity, I would like to mention that the Sr Amada, Regional Superior of the Missionaries of Charity, and Sr Inocencia from the M.C.’s Edinburgh house visited the Sisters of the Gospel of Life recently.

State interference in funeral of Chinese Bishop

UCANEWS has a report on the funeral of Bishop James Lin Xili of Wenzhou which took place last Saturday. (See: Members of 'open' and 'underground' communities attend bishop's funeral) Bishop Lin was ordained clandestinely and therefore a member of the "underground Church". In China, as I understand, Catholics try hard to prevent the communist government from driving a wedge between the "official" and the "underground" Church. The funeral of Bishop Lin was an example of this determined co-operation with more than 20,000 people attending - from both communities (along with 1,000 police.)

Although the funeral was held in relative freedom, there was still some petty state interference. As UCANEWS reports:
The sources also said local government officials forbade the use of the term zhujiao (bishop) on banners and wreaths, but a compromise was reached with the use of "Lin mu" (shepherd Lin). However, officials allowed the verbal use of "Lin zhujiao" during funeral Masses and other memorial services.

Authorities did not allow Bishop Lin's body to be clothed in bishop's garb, but his family members placed the zucchetto or bishop's skullcap on his head just before the cremation, sources said.
I am currently reading Fr Adrian Fortescue's fascinating book on "The Orthodox Eastern Church" and the Chinese government's interference with the Church seems strikingly similar to the way in which the Emperors of "new Rome" and, later, the Turks, interfered with the Church at Constantinople.

Another thought which struck me was the fine example of tolerance and co-operation shown by the Chinese Catholics in such difficult and highly-charged circumstances. With our relatively easy civic freedom, perhaps we could see this as a model for co-operation with the Society of St Pius X? Please don't misunderstand me: I know that the comparison is not exact and I am certainly not suggesting that either side is the equivalent of a "patriotic Church" but if the Catholics in China can work together despite such important and emotive differences, should it be so hard for us to do so?

Friday, 16 October 2009

Excellent pastoral from Sioux City

A correspondent sent me a link to a pastoral letter of the Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless, Bishop of Sioux City: Ecclesia Semper Reformanda. It is excellent.

The letter is over 8,800 words (excluding the 46 footnotes), so all I can do here is give an outline and a few quotations that almost jumped onto the clipboard. I see that Fr Z has already picked this up and is also very enthusiastic about it.

The letter begins with a lucid explanation of the "hermeneutic of continuity" as applied to the Second Vatican Council, including the following passage:
My brothers and sisters, let me say this clearly: The “hermeneutic of discontinuity” is a false interpretation and implementation of the Council and the Catholic Faith. It emphasizes the “engagement with the world” to the exclusion of the deposit of faith. This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world. The Church that seeks simply what works or is “useful” in the end becomes useless.
Bishop Nickless then goes on to identify "Pastoral Priorities for the Diocese of Sioux City." Priority number 1:
1. We must renew our reverence, love, adoration and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, within and outside of Mass. A renewal of Eucharistic Spirituality necessarily entails an ongoing implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s reform of the liturgy as authoritatively taught by the Church’s Magisterium, the promotion of Eucharistic Adoration outside of Mass, regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist and our Mother.
Speaking of the purpose of the Liturgy, he hits the nail on the head:
The primary purpose of all liturgy, and especially of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is the worship of God. We sometimes forget this. We go to Mass to worship God, simply because He deserves to be worshiped, and we, his creatures, ought to worship him. Too often we forget that God is transcendent and ineffable, incomprehensibly greater than we can imagine.
Another quote from this section:
In this vale of tears, the liturgy should be a lodestar, a transcending place of wonder and comfort in the midst of our day-to-day lives, a place of light and high beauty beyond the reach of worldly shadows.[13]
As Fr Z picked up, footnote 13 is a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". The page reference is to an American edition so I leave it to our local Tolkien specialist Singulare Ingenium to find the passage he is referring to.

Bishop Nickless also speaks of the much misunderstood concept of "active participation":
Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.
Sometimes, people argue about whether liturgy of catechetics is the first priority - rather a "chicken and egg" debate in my view. In any case, Bishop Nickless has catechesis as his next priority for the Diocese:
We need a solid, systematic, and comprehensive catechesis, not eschewing “what” and “how,” but also answering also “why,” faithful to the entire Deposit of Faith and the Church’s Magisterium, forming both head and heart.
Well, you have liturgy and catechesis as the top two. What would be third? It's the family, stupid!
We must give concrete help against the corrosive effects of pre-marital promiscuity, cohabitation, contraception and abortion, pornography industry, easily executed divorce, and infidelity.


A renewal of family life is a sure recipe for the renewal of the Church and our society, and it must receive our creative attention and pastoral concern.
Priority 4 is to foster a culture of vocation, and 5 relates to the missionary character of the faith. They are also very good sections as is Bishop Nickless' conclusion.

Poll on assisted suicide

Lord Joffe, who has campaigned strenuously for the legalisation of assisted suicide, is giving a public lecture at Bath University to promote his views. The University wishes the public to have their say in a poll on their website.

It is a good, straightforward question "Should assisted dying be legalised for the terminally ill?" Currently there is a massive majority of "No" votes - go over to help keep it that way.

Cast your vote here.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Archbishop Ranjith in action

Hat tip to Fr Z for this excellent instruction from Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, formerly Secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship and now Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka. See: Liturgy Circular. Here are some highlights to encourage you to read the whole text:
Priests are not permitted to change or improvise the Eucharistic Prayer or other immutable elements of the Mass...

The so-called "Praise and worship" elements are not allowed during the entire rite of the Mass. Inordinate and loud music, clapping, long interventions and gestures which disturb the sobriety of the celebration are not permitted...

I would recomment all faithful, including the religious, to receive Holy Communion reverently kneeling and on the tongue...
Archbishop Ranjith impressed me greatly with his humility and urbanity when I met him briefly in Rome a few years ago. His firm but kindly guidance on matters liturgical goes hand-in-hand with his robust and courageous dealing with the government.

SSPX talks confirmed

Just over a month ago, I reported the fairly widespread speculation on the Vatican Team chosen for talks with the SSPX. This has now been confirmed by the Press office of the Holy See.

The talks are to begin on Monday 26 October. they will take place at the Palazzo del Sant’Ufficio, the home of what is now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I expect that the morning coffee break will be even more of a buzz than it normally is.

If you want to prepare a Novena to pray for the success of the process, you could begin this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Good Osservatore article on Obama peace prize

President Obama was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as you have probably heard. Many Catholics immediately protested for various reasons - not least his support for abortion which the Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta described as "the greatest destroyer of peace in the world". Many commentators have cynically (but perhaps realistically) pointed out that he received it simply for "not being President Bush.

Catholic bloggers were astonished when the Vatican Press Office speedily released a note of congratulation.

Now L'Osservatore Romano has, Deo Gratias, published an article by Lucetta Scaraffia which is critical of the award.

Perhaps the various Vatican media operations need to sign up for the increasingly popular course on Rocket Science.

Amazing story of Fr Schiffer

Many thanks to a correspondent for this story of Fr Hubert Schiffer and seven other Jesuits who were in a house about a kilometre from the centre of the blast at Hiroshima and survived while everyone else within that distance was killed instantly.

See also another account, and a further account.

Fr Schiffer put the survival of the small community down to their devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and their daily Rosary.

Bishop bans fellow Bishop from his diocese

Bishop Sample, of Marquette MI, has written to Bishop Gumbleton to explain politely that it is the usual courtesy for a visiting Bishop to seek the approval of the local ordinary before accepting an invitation to speak in a diocese. Bishop Sample also explains that his own responsibilities would not be helped by the visit because of Bishop Gumbleton's very public positions on homosexuality and the ordination of women. Read: Bishop Sample's Statement. See also the American Papist's Commentary: Bishop Sample prevents Bishop Gumbleton from appearing in his diocese

The Citizens for Peace and Social Justice are unaccountably "confused" by Bishop Sample's very clear and polite message. I think they mean that they disagree with him but it sounds better to make the passive-aggressive claim of confusion and hurt. They say Bishop Gumbleton was not told why his visit was not welcome. This is a good example of people making just any old statement in the face of the publicly available evidence (Bishop Sample's Press Release explaining the "Why")

The there is the more openly aggressive attack from the gay bloggers ("Catholic gestapo", "policing", "censorship" etc.)

Here are photos of the two Bishops. I'll leave you to guess which is which for extra marks in the "Rocket Science Examination."

UPDATE: Fr John Boyle knows Bishop Sample personally and has a good post on this incident.

UN Petition for right to life and rights of parents

C-Fam, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, have a petition to the UN: "International Call for the Rights and Dignity of the Human Person and the Family" in support of the right to life and the right of parents to education their children. They have over half a million responses so far.

Sign the Petition here

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Fertility Care talk at High Wycombe

A correspondent sends me information about this event which I am happy to pass on:

For some years now the Life Fertility Care programme has been helping couples to achieve successful pregnancies by natural and less costly and invasive means than IVF, with a very good success rate, by the use of NaPro Technology. See our website In May this year, the Times published an article about this method: An article about this method

In order that this natural, less invasive method is made more publically known, Ira Winter, Co-ordinator of the Life FertilityCare Service, is coming to speak in High Wycombe this month, on October 21st. This day is not solely aimed at those who have personal issues relating to fertility/infertility but to try and get the information out into the public domain about natural fertility care. Any medical personnel are particularly welcome.

The event is being held in The Environment Centre, Holywell Mead, High Wycombe, HP11 1QX (directions) on Wednesday, 21st October from 10am to 12.30pm and is free. (There is plenty of parking space at only 20p for four hours.)

Miracle of the Sun anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the miracle of the sun at Fatima, observed by 70,000 people on 13 October 1917. This video has contemporary photographs of the crowds:

Back in March, I mentioned the new film "The 13th Day". It has opened at various locations in the US today.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Dominican Study weekend for young adults

Many thanks to Anna Marie for news of this forthcoming Study Weekend. It is a quiet weekend especially for young adults, in a beautiful convent with plenty of time for relaxation and private prayer. Here are the details:
Study Weekend
at St Dominic's Convent, Stone, Staffs.
November 13-15

Purgatory: fire of Divine Love
Led by Fr Thomas Crean O.P & Sr Valery Walker O.P.

Suggested donation £30
Contact: Sr Valery Walker OP
Convent of St Catherine of Siena
155 Huntingdon Rd, Cambridge CB3 0DH
01223 353730
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