Monday, 30 May 2011

Margaret Clare ‘Meg’ Kane - Hello world!

Gordon Kane writes to me with the happy news that Margaret Clare ‘Meg’ Kane came out to look around the big wide world at 3.39am today in what turned out to be an unplanned home birth. Mum and baby are doing well but Mum (and I expect Dad too) are looking forward to a little sleep.

Warmest congratulations!

Looking forward to a week of devotions, ice cream, and buffoonery in Lourdes


Low Mass, cup of tea, board the coach, go to Heathrow Terminal 5, aeroplane to Toulouse, two hours in the coach, and then ... Lourdes!

This week sees the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, now held jointly by Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, and St Mary's Chislehurst. We have lots of babies and young children this year, so I expect that there will be plenty of opportunity for ice cream, buffoonery and catechesis along with the serious business of singing Mass, kissing relics, bathing in the waters and following in the footsteps of that most engaging Saint, Bernadette Soubirous.

We will be staying in the Grand Hotel D'Angleterre in the Rue St Joseph (opposite the Hotel Moderne, near the St Joseph gate.) Our Masses in Lourdes are as follows:
  • Tuesday 6pm - St Gabriel Chapel (Low Mass with catechetical instruction for children)
  • Wednesday 11am - Parish Church at Bartres (Missa Cantata)
  • Thursday 10am - Crypt of Lourdes Parish Church (Missa Cantata)
  • Friday 10.30am - St Gabriel Chapel (Low Mass)
A number of Diocesan pilgrimages also go to Lourdes during the half-term holiday. If you are in Lourdes, you are very welcome to join us for Mass, or to pop in to the Hotel D'Angleterre to join us for a drink after the evening torchlight procession. I'll also be doing a blessing for children on Wednesday at 4pm at the grotto. Recently this has been dropped from the official programme but the brancardiers usually let us in for prayers just under the statue, so if you have children, do come along and join us.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

High Mass at Ramsgate

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Solemn High Mass in the stunning Church that was Pugin's own favourite: another experience of the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

Marking the close of the St Augustine Week at Ramsgate, Fr Holden, the Parish Priest, arranged for High Mass to be celebrated in the Church of St Augustine, the church built by Augustus Welby Pugin as his ideal Church, constructed according to the "true principles of Christian architecture."

The week had included various lectures and a sermon on St Augustine (by Fr Nicholas Schofield) so I thought it best to draw out some spiritual themes for the sermon at the Mass. I focussed on time, Rome, and worship. St Augustine was only in England for seven or eight years, yet he converted the King and set Catholicism on a firm footing. If only we could use our time so effectively! He helped the English Church to consolidate a unity with Rome that was unbroken until the adulterous rebellion of Henry VIII. He also helped England towards a unity of worship, based on the Gregorian Mass which we celebrated.

A couple of months back, I was in Ramsgate and took a set of photos which you can see on Flickr. Here are just a few that may be of interest.

Augustus Welby Pugin was buried in the Church at Ramsgate. Here is his monument:

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The Church has some fine tiling:

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and stained glass windows:

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Here you see the aisle for the Blessed Sacrament chapel, with polychrome stations of the cross:

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When Pugin was on his travels in Paris, the Sainte Chapelle was still open to depradation after the revolution, rather than being the tourist attraction it now is. He actually took some stained glass from the chapel for Ramsgate:

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On my visit in March, I enjoyed lunch overlooking the harbour with three fine priests (left to right) Fr Holden, Parish Priest of Ramsgate and Minster, together with Fr Nicholas Schofield and Fr Richard Whinder who were sacred Ministers for Friday's Mass.

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St Augustine's Church in Ramsgate is in need of funds for repairs and restoration. With Fr Holden as Parish Priest, it is in safe hands. Please consider joining the Friends of St Augustine's Church.

As celebrant, it was not convenient for me to take photos. If anyone does have photos of the Mass, do publish them and send me a link, or send them to me for the blog.

(NB - that was an example of our silly English humour: I don't seriously think that celebrants should ever take photos during Mass.)

Fr Tony Pyle RIP


Fr Tony Pyle was my predecessor at the parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. He was parish priest for 14 years, so I have now nearly caught up with him. On Friday, his funeral was celebrated at Blackfen by Archbishop Peter Smith, assisted by Archbishop Michael Bowen, Bishop Howard Tripp, Bishop Patrick Lynch and about 30 priests of the Archdiocese. Do please remember Fr Tony in your prayers.

I asked people in the parish to lend me photos of Fr Tony. The above is from 1994 - the two girls were in my youth group three years later. One is now working in the City and the other is a highly respected teacher. I've tagged them on Facebook :-)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Happy St Philip's Day!

Especial greetings to all our English Oratorians.

Hilary White has a good observation about what happens when you entrust yourself to St Philip:
He has no qualms whatever about taking your life and holding it upside down and shaking it until all your stuff has fallen out of the pockets. When he rights you again, everything will be better, but different.
Please remember Hilary in your prayers as she is going through a rough time healthwise at the moment.

Hilary's post reminded us of a good set of photos on the Transalpine Redemptorists' blog from 2009. On the last day of their pilgrimage, they celebrated Mass at St Philip's altar in the Chiesa Nuova and had a tour of St Philip's rooms, courtesy of Brother Edward of the London Oratory.

You might like to read my sermon from a few years ago: St Philip, a saint for saints, or one given by Fr Nicholas Schofield: This is the Saint of Cheerfulness and Kindness.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Arab Christian flashmob in Beirut

You may well be among the nearly 33 million people who have viewed the video of the Hallelujah chorus flashmob. This one, an Easter celebration flashmob of Arab Christians, comes from a shopping Mall in Beirut and has, perhaps, a slightly more "edgy" feel.

H/T Betalegium

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

James and Ella's new baby boy

New Baby!

Congratulations to James and Ella Preece on the birth of their new baby boy. (Photo from James's blog Catholic and Loving It.)

L'Osservatore photos of last Sunday's Pontifical Mass

L'Osservatore Romano has hundreds of photos from last Sunday's Pontifical High Mass at the altar of the chair in St Peter's. The set is headed Pontificale in Rito Romano Antico. There are some very fine shots there. It does rather look as though the Osservatore photographer (Sig. Francesco Sforza) enjoyed having something so beautiful to photograph, with such a magnificent setting, and with such a variety of clergy, religious, and laity in attendance.

Furthermore, the presence of four Cardinals is enough to convince any Roman of the way the wind is blowing...

H/T Forest Murmurs and Messa in Latino

High Mass in Regensburg

Shawn Tribe of NLM posted the other day about the general assembly of the German usus antiquior society, Pro Missa Tridentina in Regensburg. Included in the programme was a Solemn Mass celebrated in the Alte Kapelle; the celebrant was Fr. Axel Maußen, District Superior of FSSP in Germany. The photo makes me want all the more to go and visit southern Germany and celebrate Mass in one of their heartachingly beautiful Churches.

Interestingly, there was a lecture by Dr. Andreas Wollbold of the Department of Pastoral Theology of the University of Munich on "The Classical Roman Liturgy and the Future of the Church." It would be interesting to read that.

Monday, 23 May 2011

3 million today

I remember being impressed by Pope Benedict's gesture of kindness towards the Cardinals after the last Conclave. He invited them back to the Domus Sanctae Marthae for champagne and cake. That is a good combination without being too extravagant. So I copied the Holy Father this evening by providing a glass of champagne and some chocolate cake for the small group that came to my private Mass.

Many thanks to all of you who have read my blog, apologies to anyone I may have offended, and solidarity to fellow bloggers. Some of you have fewer hits, some of you have vastly more; the important thing is to remember that the good Lord knows what we write and we need to appear before Him one day.

Theology of the Body Symposium at Twickenham

There is to be a Theology of the Body Symposium at St. Mary's University College, Twickenham from 3-5 June. Janet Smith is among the list of speakers. For further information, see the post at Catholic With Attitude.

While you are at Shaun's blog, I recommend his post on a recent pilgrimage that he made to the home of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

High Mass at Flitwick this Sunday

Fr de Malleray of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter celebrates Mass each week at the Sacred Heart Church in Flitwick at 5pm, thanks to the kind hospitality of the parish priest, Canon Denis McSweeney

. This Sunday, 29 May, the Mass will be a Solemn High Mass which is something special for the community there. If you are within reach (Flitwick is just north of Luton, near J12 of the M1) then you might like to join them.

Nuncio to Belgium celebrates Pontifical Mass at ICKSP Church

Archbishop Berloco, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, celebrated Pontifical Mass yesterday in the extraordinary form at the Church of the Convent of Saint Anne Boitsfort which is under the care of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. He also confirmed more than 30 children and gave first Holy Communion to 25 others. As Fr Hudson ICKSP noted, the children at his school are accustomed to the usus antiquior and would feel lost elsewhere. I understand that the Nuncio was very happy to celebrate Mass in the older form. The Church was completely packed and a video relay was provided in an adjacent room.

Fr Hudson has started a blog for the Church: Eglise du Couvent Sainte Anne Boitsfort- Institute of Christ the King, Brussels. There are more photos of the occasion there, and I recommend that this would be a good blog to include on your blogroll and feed reader.

Pilgrimage in the steps of St Charles Borromeo

Fr Clifton (aka Fr Mildew) is hoping to lead a Pilgrimage "In the Steps of St Charles Borromeo" in October. Pax Travel have told him that if there are fewer than ten people, they will cancel. Father will probably do the trip anyway but it would be helpful for him, I'm sure, if he did not have to organise the travel arrangements as well as being spiritual director for the pilgrimage.

So if you are able to get away from Monday 10th October until Saturday 15th, why not join him? The cost is £699, flying from London to Milan. Further details at Fr Mildew's blog.

(The above statue is in the magnificent Church of St Charles in Hull which I visited a couple of years ago.)

Friday, 20 May 2011

UE 31: suggested solutions for well-disposed Bishops

Does Universae Ecclesiae n.31 really make it impossible to use the older form of ordination?

The other day I looked at UE 19 which has given many people cause to worry that they will be quizzed about their loyalty to the Novus Ordo when asking for the usus antiquior. The solution there is simply to refer to what the instruction actually says. Legitimacy does not mean anything other than lawfulness, legality, licitness and cannot be stretched to mean anything more than that.

UE 31 presents a different problem and has also exercised many people. Here is the text:
31. Dumtaxat Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae Pontificiae Commissioni Ecclesia Dei subditis, et his ubi servatur usus librorum liturgicorum formae extraordinariae, licet Pontificali Romano anni 1962 uti ad Ordines maiores et minores conferendos.

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.
What of a Bishop who is happy to accept as candidates for the priesthood in his Diocese young men who will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy exclusively according to the usus antiquior? At first sight, it seems that he must ordain them using the Novus Ordo rite. As I have emphasised before, I am not a canonist: I am a dogmatist and proud of it. Therefore I hope that canonists (especially blogging ones) might consider the following suggestion.

A Bishop could set up in his diocese a Society of Apostolic Life for clerics who are attached to the usus antiquior. He could request the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to have the oversight for which it is legally competent (thus incidentally "future proofing" the Society to a certain degree.) Then he could lawfully ordain those clerics according the the usus antiquior after also ordaining them to the various minor orders.

What then of candidates who want to maintain the extraordinary form with due honour "on account of its venerable and ancient use" (UE 6) but are in a Diocese that does not ordain men exclusively for the usus antiquior? I am thinking of the case where a Bishop would be generous enough to use the older form of ordination at the request of a candidate, but would feel constrained by UE 31.

Surely in this case he could apply for a dispensation. The Church's law is not positivistic in the way that modern civil law tends to be: contrary custom and epikeia play a much larger part, and there is a whole chapter in the code about dispensations (canons 85-93.) As a non-canonist, I hesitate to quote sections from  the code, since my canonical colleagues know their way around the interplay of canons and interpretations which make this an area where only fools rush in. Still, to my untrained eye, this does seem to be an area ripe for dispensation. Every day, people obtain dispensations from all sorts of ecclesiastical laws: is this one specially protected?

Photo credit: Institute of Christ the King

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ghastly new statue of Blessed John Paul in Rome

Fr Z has posted today on a new statue of Blessed John Paul II that has been erected in the Piazza Dei Cinquecento in front of Rome's Termini Station. The Romans in the video below are, by and large, not happy: their looks of glum disappointment are hilarious. I especially liked the long peroooooooo of the lady who was trying to be polite but couldn't find the right words.

At Fr Z's there is a poll with a choice of 1-5 ("Love it" to Ghastly"). At the moment 80% of people are voting "Ghastly".

Meanwhile an article at the, quotes a Roman lady saying "ci farà fare brutta figura con i turisti" (it will make us look really bad with the tourists.) They also have a poll - a sondaggio - where you get the chance to vote "No, fa veramente schifo" which currently has 70% of the vote.

If you want to be more intellectual and deep than the Plebs Romana, you can take a cue from the Mayor of Rome who said that the statue is "strikingly beautiful and evocative: a modern work that as such stimulates and moves the imagination."

Massacre on Papa Stronsay

The Transalpine Redemptorists have waged war on the greenfly. Their elite force of ladybirds travelled with field rations (Cheerios). On their arrival, Br Jean Marie FSSR let them loose on the enemy in the greenhouse.

Too much worry about UE n.19


People have been worried about the provision of Universae Ecclesiae n.19 and I thought it might be helpful to look at this more closely. First let us examine the text itself in Latin and in the English translation:
19. Christifideles celebrationem secundum formam extraordinariam postulantes, auxilium ne ferant neque nomen dent consociationibus, quae validitatem vel legitimitatem Sanctae Missae Sacrificii et Sacramentorum secundum formam ordinariam impugnent, vel Romano Pontifici, Universae Ecclesiae Pastori quoquo modo sint infensae.

19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the Roman Pontiff as Supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.
Here is another translation which is a little more slavishly accurate (among other things, recognising where quoquo modo is in the sentence):
The faithful who ask for the celebration according to the extraordinary form must not support or belong to groups which oppose the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or of the Sacraments according to the ordinary form, or which are in any way hostile to the Roman Pontiff, the Pastor of the Universal Church.
There are some who deny the validity of the Novus Ordo: for them Universae Ecclesiae will be irrelevant since they will not be terribly interested in the present liturgical legislation of the Holy See. The word which has worried more people is legitimitatem.

Purely as in incidental observation, I wish that the Latin text had used a happier expression: legitimitas is not listed in Lewis and Short, and even in an equivalent English sentence, would be barbarous nounificationalityness. Still, we can understand it easily: we are not allowed to impugn the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo. In other words, we can't say that it is illicit, unlawful, illegal to celebrate it. That is sensible: otherwise we would have to say that the above photo shows the Pope doing something unlawful. Some people might believe that, but again, I doubt whether any of them would be bothered too much by the legal force of Universae Ecclesiae; they could always get Pope Michael I to issue a condemnation of the document. For the rest of us, the clause should not present a problem.

UE n.19 does not say that we have to like the Novus Ordo, that we have to think it is better than or equal to the Mass of Ages in respect of beauty, tradition, or expression of doctrine. We can criticise it, we can even say that it is a "banal, on the spot product." We do not have to say that the Novus Ordo is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven; only that it is lawful to celebrate it.

On the subject lawful celebrations of Mass, here is another form that may be celebrated lawfully. Not only that, but on account of its venerable and ancient use, it must be maintained with due honour (UE n.6):

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Oxford, Jansenism, Newman, and Blessed Lucy of Narnia

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It is always a great pleasure to be invited to speak to the Oxford University Newman Society (OUNS) and to visit my Alma Mater. As a past OUNS President (Hilary 1979) I am a Life Member, and apparently, according to the Constitution, still a member of the Committee. I must go along sometime to propose a footling rule change to the Standing Orders. (Or perhaps not.)

Last night I spoke about Jansenism, Dissent, and the Liturgy. (In due course I will publish the paper on the internet but, since it is a subject which requires careful distinctions, I will need to check the text carefully when I have the time to do so.)

It was good to see the OUNS thriving. The dinner before the meeting is always a great opportunity to pick up on the kind of atmosphere in which the talk will be received. As ever, it was stimulating but a little intimidating; very bright young people were mixed with graduates who could also ask searching questions and, as ever, at least one D.Phil student who happened to be researching an area with significant overlap on the topic in question.

Everything seemed to go well enough, though. We met in the blue room of the Old Palace which is the home of the Oxford University Chaplaincy. This is a beautiful venue in which to speak and discuss things. The chaplain, Fr Simon Bishop SJ was graceful in his hospitality and most helpful in the question/comment which brought the evening to a good conclusion by focussing once again on the mercy of God which astounds us. In the course of my talk, I spoke very warmly of the work of the Jesuits in contradistinction to the influence of the Jansenists; this was sincerely meant, and I was glad that there was a member of the Society there.

This morning, at the request of the students, I celebrated Mass at the Oxford Oratory in the usus antiquior at the altar of Our Lady of Oxford. The painting was obtained for the Church by Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, an Anglican convert who served as Chamberlain of Honour to Blessed Pope Pius IX, was influential in the conversion of many Anglicans, and himself a founder member of the OUNS, together with Gerald Manley Hopkins.

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Visiting the Oratory also gave me an opportunity venerate the new shrine of the Blessed John Henry Newman. This is a temporary arrangement, since the Oratorians are planning the building of a new chapel for him. You might agree with me that this is impressive for a temporary shrine:

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The chapel of Our Lady of Oxford houses the magnificent collection of relics that belongs to the Oratory Church. It was amusing to think that the Jansenists would have heartily disapproved of this sort of thing. One curio that was brought to my attention was the relic obtained by Walter Hooper on a visit to Narnia. (There is such a place in Italy.) They have their own Beata, and Hooper persuaded the local Bishop that it was important for a relic to be given to Oxford, the home of C.S. Lewis. So here is a photo of the relic of Blessed Lucy of Narnia:


Monday, 16 May 2011

The meaning of abstinence and power-shunning

Peppercorn Beef Shoulder Filet Steak
Photo credit: Mike Johnson -

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales met last week in Leeds; here is a link to the Plenary Resolutions. The one which has attracted most comment re-establishes the practice of abstinence from meat on Fridays.

This resolution has been widely welcomed and I find it very encouraging. The reasons given by the Bishops are set out clearly:
The Bishops wish to re-establish the practice of Friday penance in the lives of the faithful as a clear and distinctive mark of their own Catholic identity. They recognise that the best habits are those which are acquired as part of a common resolve and common witness. It is important that all the faithful be united in a common celebration of Friday penance.
I was interested to look up in some old catechetical books the sort of reasons that used to be given for Friday abstinence. A good, succinct summary is given in the Catechismus Catholicus of Cardinal Gasparri. I have the 8th edition which was published in 1932. This is divided into three principal parts: a catechism for children preparing for Holy Communion (a delightful summary in 25 questions), a catechism for older children, and a catechism for adults. In the adult section, question 257 runs as follows:
Curnam Ecclesia praescribit ieiunium et abstinentiam?
Ecclesia praescribit ieiunium et abstinentiam, ut fideles paenitentiam agant de peccatis commissis, praecaveant a futuris, atque ita efficacius vacent orationi.

So why does the Church prescribe fasting and abstinence?
The Church prescribes fasting and abstinence so that the faithful should do penance for sins committed, guard against future sins, and thus be more efficaciously free for prayer.
Both of these aspects of penance are important and can be integrated into a well-rounded spiritual life. I agree with the Bishops that the distinctive mark of Catholic identity and the common witness are important. Especially at public occasions, it is good for Catholics to stand out in a small way by politely refusing meat on religious grounds. Some papers have referred to the new instruction as applying to "practising Catholics." Obviously it applies to all Catholics - those who have lapsed will now have one more mark of identity, a relatively easy one to fulfil, which can help them on the road back to the Church.

The older justification for abstinence is also one that we do well to remember. Essentially, any form of penance should be related to our need to repent from sin and to be converted to a deeper spiritual life. The point about being more open to prayer is one that was often emphasised by the Fathers and other great spiritual writers.

Some of the press coverage has said that the relaxation of Friday abstinence goes back to 1984. This refers to a provision made in response to the publication of the new Code of Canon Law where the general law requires Friday abstinence (Can 1251), though it may be fulfilled in other ways if the Bishops' conference decides. I well remember in my childhood that the law of Friday abstinence was mitigated. People used to quote a Bishop from the Third World who said "My people never even see meat." Somehow it was meant to follow from this that in richer countries, we should not worry about eating meat on Fridays. It never made sense to me.

Many Catholics have already returned to Friday abstinence voluntarily for some years: to have this once again a part of Catholic life generally is a welcome affirmation of their commitment to the faith.

One opportunity that I foresee relates to Catholic schools. Since schools are not open on Good Friday, Ash Wednesday is currently the only day when any dietary provision needs to be made - and it is easily forgotten. Although the law of abstinence applies only to those who have completed their fourteenth year (Canon 1252) it would certainly make sense for Catholic school kitchens not to serve meat on Fridays. Schools nowadays have plenty of Health Advice posters and class projects on healthy eating, so this should not be a problem.

The press coverage of such announcements is always worth looking at. After all, we are Christians, and Catholics at that, so there is no need to be terribly respectful of our particular World Religion. Many articles have a "Bearded Lady" approach - the underlying message is that pointy-hatted potentates have a new rule  telling the faithful to do something silly.

The headline which I enjoyed most was Reuters: UK Catholics urged to shun meat on Fridays. It is not so much that it is factually wrong (hint: "Bishops of England and Wales"). Factual sloppiness is to be expected when it is only that Cafflick stuff (see also the Telegraph's mistaken reference to "red meat.") What I really liked was the word "shun." Maybe we could do with a bit of active and determined shunning. My idea would be to get the Lunch Club team to cook some sausages for after Mass on Friday and then have a guest Sergeant Major bawl out
"SHUN! - No you dozy bunch of brainless layabouts, I don't mean stand to attention, I mean SHUN THOSE SAUSAGES or I'll rip your arms off and beat you round the head with the soggy ends."
That would be a dramatic bit of shunning.

Here is my favourite picture of shunning.

It is the statue of St Bruno in St Peter's Basilica. He is in fact shunning a Bishop's mitre but I have photoshopped it appropriately to illustrate his relative expertise in the meat-shun. In fact, he not only shunned meat on Fridays but on every other day of the week as well. A sort of power-shunner. [That's enough shunning - ED.]

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Universae Ecclesiae - catching up with everyone else

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Universae Ecclesiae: a good thing. Let's get that out of the way first. I'm very pleased for various reasons and will give a few in a moment. First, though, let me point you to some good posts on this which have been carefully written while I have been swanning about in Rome. Non blogger bloggers have been favoured today since blogger has apparently been down for 24 hours. I was going to claim that I had asked google to switch it off until I got home, but some people would not get the joke and would send papal ninjas to shoot me, so let me say clearly that I had nothing to do with it.

Naturally Fr Z has covered this in considerable depth throughout the day. He has helpfully posted a list of RECENT POSTS about “Universae Ecclesiae” which will be updated. If you want a good summary of the document with well-considered observations, see his major post on it. Of particular interest for those in England and Wales are his comments on what Archbishop Nichols said today. There is also a WDTPRS poll for you to vote in. You are also encouraged to comment, with the amusingly sardonic rider "I know how reticent most of you are about giving an opinion about anything to do with liturgy." In accord with the genius of WDTPRS, there is a good drilling-down into the text of paragraph 21 on training of priests and seminarians and particularly the adverb enixe. (Lewis & Short: strenuously, earnestly, zealously)

Naturally the NLM has its own first-rate analysis and commentary; Fr John Boyle casts a canonical eye on the document; and the Transalpine Redemptorists affirm that it is Not for us "Black Friday". Damian Thompson writes: Vatican upholds and strengthens Summorum Pontificum. The Extraordinary Form is now a permanent feature of the mainstream Church and has picked up on the human interest story of Fr Stephen Dunn of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

And finally ... the Mulier Fortis cat posts are not universally popular but this was surely the right picture for the kitty being let out of the bag.

Now that kitty is peeping round to check that Summorum Pontificum is being implemented properly, I should perhaps weigh in with observations of my own.

I read the document three times carefully today, checking the Latin (which is the authoritative text) and little of it is left without marginal markings, mostly exclamation marks which are my shorthand for "good" when annotating books and documents. Here is a list of some of the things I liked about Universae Ecclesiae:
  • n.4 Pope Paul VI approved a "new missal" - novum Missale - i.e. we now have an authoritative statement that it was not simply a reform of the old one. I suspect somebody regrets failing to get that bit struck out :-)
  • n.7 The "sacred and great" line is quoted. Huzzah!
  • n.8a The usus antiquior is a "precious treasure to be preserved"
  • n.8b Summorum Pontificum (SP) guarantees the EF for all who ask for it and must be interpreted in a sense favourable to the faithful
  • n.10.1 The PCED has hierarchical superiority against Ordinaries who try to act contrary to SP
  • n.13 Bishops are to act in agreement with the mind of the Holy Father in SP and in case of controversy, the PCED will adjudicate
  • n.15 (Obviously but good to have it stated) the stable group may be people who came together even after the publication of SP
  • n.20a Priests are presumed to be idoneus
  • n.20b For Latin, priests do not have to have a classics degree; they must simply be able to "pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning" (Fr Z has been saying this for ages. He was right.)
  • n.21 (See the footnote) By the way, both Vatican II and the Code of Canon law require that seminarians should be taught Latin
  • n.28 (Essentially...) no female servers, extraordinary ministers etc. in the EF
  • n.33 You can do the Triduum in the old rite even if it means you have a repetition (i.e. the new rite as well.)
  • n.34 Oh, yes, don't be silly, the Dominican etc. rites are allowed.
Fr Z has been searching for an alternative to the American Rounders expression "no hitter." I admit to having woefully failed to understand this expression. May I therefore offer some cricketing analogies for some of the paragraphs mentioned above?

The PCED were first to bat and their first innings was not too exciting although n.4 was a deliberate edge just outside third slip for four. In to bowl, PCED stamped its authority with n.7, an obvious but dangerous fast delivery on target for middle stump by the fresh bowler, while n.8a added a little seam and n.8b moved a worryingly towards leg stump. n.10.1 was a bouncer that made an orange-sized bruise, while n.13 was the work of a timely spin bowler who made the batsman's heart beat nervously. In the second innings, nn. 20 and 21 were a series of perfectly executed square cuts to the boundary against a lacklustre medium-pace bowler and n.28 was the devastating punishment of a short ball hooked for six over the head of long leg. n.33 was a cheeky run taken while mid-off was fumbling and n.34 was one of those drives that made the umpire dance to avoid stopping the ball. PCED declared with every chance of bowling out the liberals easily.

Hope that makes it all clear: I think Fr Withoos will understand ;-)

And now, boys and girls, it is time for "another chance to see"...

Friday, 13 May 2011

Usus antiquior Mass daily at St Peter's 7am

Fr Mark Withoos, who works at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, normally celebrates Mass at the altar of the Transfiguration at St Peter's at 7am. (Normally - the chap may have to be away once in a while.) Above you can see a plan of the Basilica with the altar circled in red.

To get to the Mass, you will have to be at St Peter's Square early - I suggest at least 15 minutes before Mass starts. The Basilica opens to the public at 7am but you need to go through "airport style" security to get in. Then simply walk down aisle on the left and the altar is in front of you.

If you are a priest visiting Rome, you can celebrate Mass at St Peter's if you get there between 7am and about 8am. If you want to celebrate the usus antiquior, you could ask for the altar of the Transfiguration. If you are lucky enough to get it, there are some framed altar cards and a 1962 missal in the cupboard just off the gospel side of the altar. However it is worth bringing a travelling Missal and some altar cards (you can print some off from my parish website) since about a third of the priests who celebrate private Masses early in the morning at St Peter's nowadays are saying the older form of the Mass. (For lay people, just hang around at the sacristy door - 29 in the plan above - and wait for a priest who has identifying features - biretta, an old missal, altar  cards, something like that - and follow him.)

Here is a photo of the altar of the Transfiguration:

Rome 1 008

The mosaic, a reproduction of Raphael's "deathbed" painting, has two parts. Above is the Transfiguration, below is a boy, possessed by the devil, whose father is seeking help: the scene is one of turmoil. The apostle points upwards to the tranquil contrast of Christ transfigured: He is the only answer to our problems. The woman who is kneeling at the foot of the composition, represents the Church.

In the right place at the right time after all

Rome 2 031

Yesterday I suppose I wasn't holding out too much hope of getting any inside story on Universae Ecclesiae. I was too pessimistic: I should know by now that you can never entirely predict the last 24 hours in Rome.

Rome 1 023

In fact, in a small way, I became part of the story because yesterday I had lunch with David Kerr (above), a good Catholic journalist and friend, who now works for CNA. Some people in Rome are very nervous about blogs but, of course, journalists change the game completely, so once we were halfway through a half bottle of the vino della casa and fortified by a delicious plate of penne all' arrabiata, David brought out his little recording machine and asked me for my views on the impending document. I managed to mention both the Tablet and my take on the "message to the Bishops". Hush my mouth :-) (See: In Rome, anticipation for a new document on Latin Mass, due out tomorrow.)

First thing today I met Yvonne Windsor and Marygold Turner of the Latin Mass Society who are in Rome for the Summorum Pontificum Conference this weekend. We gathered at the altar of the Transfiguration to attend Mass celebrated by Fr Mark Withoos, who is at the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Fr Withoos normally celebrates Mass each day at this altar: I'll put up a separate post with more details. We had planned to meet for breakfast and so Father kindly took us through parts of the Vatican that you don't normally get to see before we exited through the Porta Sant' Anna and settled at a friendly "Bar" for some coffee and a cornetto. Priests who work in Rome usually have a favourite place for coffee where they are on friendly terms with the staff.

When a new document is issued by the Vatican, it is always a major event. An incredible amount of work goes into these documents and they are pulled apart by all sorts of people. The final text is the end of a long process, and those who are involved at every level in the relevant dicastery see the final release as a cause of rejoicing. Add to that the intense global interest and anticipation among Catholic bloggers and you can imagine that Fr Withoos was beaming today. Congratulations to him and to all at the PCED!

He encouraged me to go over to the Sala Stampa despite my maudlin sense of inferiority as a mere blogger (though bloggers do seem to be the flavour of the month in Rome.) So I rolled up with my passport (you have to have ID to do anything in Rome) and was given an Ospite (guest) press pass and a copy of Universae Ecclesiae with about 25 minutes of the embargo left. Settling down at a nearby bar with a coffee I was able to read it and then return for the informal briefing given by Mgr Lombardi.

Rome 2 034

In Italy, the press takes the Church seriously and the reporting is of a far higher standard than we are used to. I may well have had the back of my head featured on TV since there were four TV stations covering the briefing. Mgr Lombardi comes in for a fair amount of criticism which, I expect, he expects. I am bound to say in his defence that his summary of the document was genial, good-humoured, and meticulously accurate. He was asked one or two questions that might have pushed him to speculate on the force of particular norms but sensibly did not get drawn: this is, after all, the responsibility of Ecclesia Dei, not the Sala Stampa.

So as it turned out, I was in the right place at the right time. A pleasant light lunch with a good friend, of my favourite Italian sandwich "tonno e pomodoro" (tuna and tomato) followed by a cigarette on a balcony overlooking a busy street but with a splendid view of the dome of St Peter's concluded a most enjoyable trip to the Eternal City before getting off in good time to take the 5.15pm flight back to London from Fiumicino.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Universae Ecclesiae - I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time

You might think that being in the Vatican at the moment, I am superbly placed for an early copy or Universae Ecclesiae, the Instruction on Summorum Pontificum which is to be published tomorrow. In fact, relying on borrowed computers and the pace of life at the heart of the Church, I will probably lag behind every other blogger in the world.

Fr Zuhlsdorf has described the document as a "No Hitter" which sounds negative to those who are not familiar with baseball. I find via Wikipedia that in fact a no-hitter is a very good thing. Using a dynamic equivalence approach to translation, I suppose I would have to say it was something like "middle stump" or "back of the net."

Off now to dinner in the Centro Storico with some people. If I were to identify them on the blog they would have to shoot me. I am trying not to eat too much. I had a relatively frugal lunch in the Borgo Pio today with David Kerr of CNA who wrote an excellent article the other day about the Bishop of Toowoomba's removal from office, which Fr Z has commented on. David recorded some words from me so I might even be quoted on CNA myself tomorrow!

The privilege of a quiet St Peter's

Yesterday morning I said my Mass at St Peter's and was fortunate enough to get the lovely altar of the Transfiguration. This is where Fr Mark Withoos, an official of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei usually says his Mass shortly after 7am each day.

As well as the magnificent mosaic of the Transfiguration, the altar now has an added interest because the remains of Blessed Pope Innocent XI are housed beneath it. The blessed Pope was removed to make way for the newly blessed Pope John Paul II:

On Wednesday, the Basilica is empty save for priests celebrating Mass and a few people with them. It is a day for the Sampietrini to clean confessionals, polish bits of marble and generally spruce things up while the pilgrims are waiting for the General Audience outside. It was an opportunity for me to take some photos.

I forgot to bring my flickr password so these are low resolution but I hope to fill up my "St Peter's" set when I get home.

Here is a view of the Piazza with the big picture of Blessed Pope John Paul II and Spalancate le porte a Cristo (Open wide the doors to Christ.)

With the zoom and the big camera, I managed to get a recognisable photo of Pope Benedict; I rather like the foreground with children on their Daddys' shoulders:

Finally, one feature of the General Audience is the presence of newly-married couples. What you do is to get your parish priest to write to the Papal Nuncio in your country, (and perhaps send him an ecclesiastical certificate of marriage) with a request for tickets for the General Audience. You will get good tickets close to the Pope and probably a chance to shake his hand and get a really memorable photo. This happy couple were on their way through security as I passed.

The Seven Storey Sacristy

The north side of the central part of St Peters is still covered in scaffolding. Above you can see a picture which shows how clean and sparkling the Basilica will look like when the works are complete. Speaking to a Vatican Vigile (policeman) yesterday, I understand that it should not be too much longer for this part.

Next to the Basilica is the magnificent Sacristy. I have the not entirely frivolous idea of writing a spiritual book with the title "The Seven Storey Sacristy"

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Visit to the tomb of Blessed John Paul II

Always on my visit to the Basilica of St Peter, I say the Pater and Credo at the tomb of St Peter with the intention of gaining the plenary indulgence. I also remembered you, my readers, this morning at the tomb.

Then I went to say a prayer at the altar which now houses the body of Blessed John Paul II. I didn't have my camera with me, but tomorrow I will get some pictures of my own. At the Vatican bookshop I managed to find some good holy cards of the new Beatus to give to the altar servers when I get back.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Sic transit gloria mundi


I'm about to call for a cab to take me to the station as I'm off to Rome for a few days. I may visit the Roman curia (above). Looking through some photos of Rome, I found this one which, I think, illustrates well the cry that used to be uttered by a Franciscan during the ceremony of coronation of a new Pope:


Sic transit gloria mundi

I will remember all blog readers at the tomb of St Peter. I hope to get time and internet access to post a few things during the week.

Friday, 6 May 2011

He trusted in her... and changed the world

Another great video from Spain. Viva El Cristo Rey!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Bishop of Toowoomba reveals Pope Benedict's decisive action

Over the past year, there have been three announcements of Bishops being relieved from the pastoral care of their dioceses. Last August, Bishop Scanavino of Orvieto was removed, and last month, Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba was removed from the Diocese of Pointe-Noire, Congo. The latest case, earlier this week, was Bishop Morris, relieved of the pastoral care of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia.

In a pastoral letter that he wrote for Advent 2006, Bishop Morris argued that the Church should be open to ordaining women and married men, to reinstating priests who had left the active ministry, and to recognise the validity of Anglican, Lutheran and Uniting Church orders. It is thought that such statements were not unrelated to his removal by Pope Benedict.

In the video clip above, Bishop Morris responds to his removal from office by saying "I'm fine within myself; my sadness is for the community..." which more or less indicates that he has no regret for his dissent from the magisterium. He opines that his "treatment" (he alleges lack of process, denial of natural justice etc.) will "open a conversation."

The conversation has in fact begun. Phil Lawler at Catholic Culture takes a sensible look at the question: Can the Pope remove bishops? Yes, but... and answers various questions. He concludes:
Question #4: Who’s next?

One in early April; one in early May. Should we be waiting for another announcement from the Vatican in early June? Should we be praying for it? And is there any reader who doesn't have his own favorite candidate?
I was not really expecting to enjoy the video clip of Bishop Morris justifying himself, but it does contain an interesting revelation concerning Pope Benedict's personal decisiveness (0'55" in). Bishop Morris says:
"I came against a brick wall. And then eventually the Pope said to me 'Canon law does not make provision for a process regarding bishops, whom the successor of St Peter nominates and may remove from office.'"
He then started negotiating with the Pope, asking to take early retirement in three years' time, pleading that he still needed to offer pastoral care to families of child abuse victims and so on. He was abruptly cut off; as he says of the Pope "he said he was going to make the announcement on the second of May."

Viva il Papa!

Pro-Life Vigil 28 May

This in today from the 40 Days for Life Team. It's a Saturday and so I can't make it myself because of the parish Saturday schedule, but I do encourage you to go if you can.
Pro-life vigil in honour of Our Lady
28th May 2011

Consecration and reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary & prayers for an end to abortion, in May the month especially dedicated to Our Lady & to honour the work of Blessed Pope John Paul II in building a culture of Life!

Prayer vigil outside BPAS abortion clinic 26-27 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3HP
Start 8.30am. Ends 1pm.
Full police cooperation.
You may join for all or part of the vigil.

Contact: Daniel Blackman (40 days for Life)

SSPX welcomes Ordinariate converts

This notice was posted today at the USA District of the Society of St Pius X:
900 Anglicans become Catholic at Easter


While celebrating the Paschal season’s glad tidings of joy, it is appropriate that we relay the good news of 900 Anglicans converting to Catholicism on Easter, a traditional time when converts are received into the Church. This encouraging number is all the more so when we consider that it included 61 former Anglican ministers.

Despite some reservations about the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and the personal ordinariate that has been erected for such converts from Anglicanism, nonetheless we genuinely rejoice to hear of their recent conversion and sincerely welcome them as new members of the Mystical Body of Christ. May they unceasingly turn to their ordinariate’s patroness, Our Lady of Walsingham, for assistance in the restoration of the Faith of their Catholic ancestors, whose fervent devotion to the Blessed Mary Ever Virgin once caused their country to be called, Our Lady’s Dowry.

We also pray for all of this year’s Easter converts that they will persevere in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and thereby earn the eternal reward of the beatific vision of Our Risen Lord.
Of the reservations, I think that the first and second will prove unfounded. All of the former Anglicans that I know are absolutely sound on the question of the visible Church, and have no truck with sola scriptura. People who do not live in England often fail to realise that the Church of England encompasses a ludicrously broad spectrum of belief, and that the anglo-Catholics who are actually willing to come into Communion with Rome have professed the Catholic faith for years, taking their lead from the magisterium. What has happened basically is that there is no longer any possibility of preserving the myth that communion with the Catholic Church can exist within the Anglican communion.

On the third reservation, relating to celibacy, I can see the danger that is alluded to, but I think that too will dissipate. However I think that we do need to be vigilant on this matter, so that married clergy continue to be considered a charitable exception granted by the Holy See for particular cases.

Most importantly, though, this notice from the SSPX is a significant gesture of welcome and reflects very well on the Society.
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