31 December 2008

Brooding And Pondering (And A Bit Long)

Two recent events have shaken me a bit: the first was the dispute in the Latim Mass Society: nothing much has been vouchsafed to us pewfodder yet, but it is clear that behind the scenes, at the top, not just of the LMS, but of the trad movement in England and Wales, there has been a rift, precisely when we needed both to have and to show a united front. The second was the extraordinary interview given by the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton to the Catholic Herald, and what can only be described as a set of bizarrely heterodox comments on the practice of the Faith.

When I started this blog a couple of years ago I raised something I had raised with the Editor of the Universe on his forum a couple of months earlier:

“What we don't have is a Catholic organ, loyal to the hierarchy, which feels able to question the direction of the Church in England and Wales ... because if any of these issues are ever aired, they are raised and answered in the same article, and according to the current orthodoxy.”
The Universe’s editor answered as follows:

“I was about to bash out yet another indignant reply pointing out that The Universe is a loyal organ that is constantly questioning and analysing general policies through its feature writers, then I came to the second part of your comment, and actually you’ve right, and you’ve hit on something really important here – how does one write a loyal but at the same time questioning article that doesn’t end up like a soggy pastry? I must admit we’ve tended to steer our writers (and they’ve steered themselves) towards a formula just such as Ttony has described – the message tends to end up the same whatever the subject – “doing great but could do better”. I must admit this has become so commonplace that I’ve all but banned headlines that include statements of the blindingly obvious like “Church could do more to ….” And “Our duty to .”
The real difficulty here is that natural journalistic instinct says that contributors and commentators should just be allowed to sound off (within reason) on any topic they feel very strongly about. The danger is a) that your Catholic paper ends up being a shooting gallery, and that b) we must never forget that Catholic papers have a dual role – to inform the faithful, but also as tools of positive evangelisation for non-Catholics that might pick them up. Critical comment can be indicative of a vibrant, open and developing Church, but right now ours isn’t and – most importantly – I don’t think everyone has the confidence or maturity to engage some of these contentious debates, though that’s changing through the unavoidable reality of decline, and the consequences that brings. When I was formulating the loyalty policy of The Universe, my own bishop, Edwin Regan, summed up what was needed from the Catholic press perfectly – the phrase he used was ‘critical solidarity’, which sounds to me exactly what Ttony is asking for.”
I had thought that the Catholic blogosphere might be the answer to what I saw as something lacking, but, to my knowledge, with the exception of Damian Thompson the bloggers I most read share the self-censorship - well, self-restraint - of the Catholic press, whether from duty, obedience, propriety or whatever.

I'm not asking for a Catholic version of the News of the World, but something authoritative because of those who contribute to it, with a standpoint that is prepared to provide critical solidarity - challenge, but also support - might not come amiss, and might give Damian a break and a feeling that he is not alone.

Is this just me?

30 December 2008

On Egyptaholism


Beyond Parody

Radio 4 this morning: the Today programme. Guest editor Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor. And this just as a bunch of Anglican bishops have pricked the bubble of Labour as the only party a person with morality could support.

And the theme, insofar as there was one:

"Vote New Labour! This mess isn't their fault and only they can get us out."

You couldn't invent this stuff.

26 December 2008

Why I Like Boxing Day

Nothing is expected of me today, beyond the normal civility that should characterise every day. Today is the day when: the drama of Christmas Day having passed; the preparations for Christmas belonging to history; the opening of presents having produced either spontaneous or unauthentic gasps of delight; the great bout de cuisine having been accomplished; we can either sink into a sort of hung over accidie, or begin dimly to understand why Holy Mother Church ordains Octaves as a sort of period of suspended time, a time when we can begin to really enjoy Christmas, the material part having been got over.

Thanks to Fr Z (whom God preserve!) for the insight into Octaves and into why I enjoy Boxing Day and Easter Monday so much.

24 December 2008

Christmas Comes Early!

On the advice of the Police, Christmas came to the Church where we attended the Vigil Mass at 5.00 pm. They could spare a patrol to look after the parked cars while we were at Mass, but the policemen would be busy later with thieves and drunks. So it's been Christmas with us for ages already. A very merry Christmas to all!

I found a new translation of Adeste Fideles just before I went to Mass. No doubt you all know it already: no doubt you're wondering "How come he doesn't know this?"; but this evening I read this for the first time, and read the message of the hymn in a new light.

O come all ye faithful!
Triumphantly sing!
Come see in the manger
The Angels' dread King!
To Bethlehem hasten
With joyful accord;
Oh hasten! oh hasten!
To worship the Lord.

True Son of the Father,
he comes from the skies;
The womb of the Virgin
He did not despise;
Not made but begotten,
The Lord of all might,
True God of true God,
True Light of true light.

Hark! to the Angels,
All singing to Heaven,
"To God in the highest
High glory be given."

To Thee, then, O Jesus,
This day of Thy birth,
Be glory and honour
Through Heaven and earth!
True Godhead incarnate,
Omnipotent! Word,
Oh, hasten! oh hasten!
To worship the Lord.

God's Blessings to you all!

23 December 2008

The Conversion Of St Paul - Something To Look Forward To

I was reminded from Australia that the readings and propers for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul next year may be used even though the feast falls on a Sunday.

Vatican permits parishes to mark feast of conversion of St. Paul

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As part of the 2008-2009 celebration of the special year devoted to St. Paul, Catholic parishes may mark the traditional Jan. 25 feast of the Conversion of St. Paul even though it falls on a Sunday in 2009.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a decree saying Pope Benedict XVI, "in an extraordinary manner," has given permission for parishes and churches to use the prayers and readings for the feast day instead of those for the third Sunday of ordinary time.

The decree was released May 30 at the Vatican.Generally, the Mass texts for feasts such as the Conversion of St. Paul are not used when the feast day falls on a Sunday.

"The apostle St. Paul, who proclaimed the truth of Christ to the whole world," and who converted after having persecuted followers of Christ, "always was and still is venerated by the faithful, especially in this particular year," which marks the 2,000th anniversary of his birth, the decree said.

For that reason, "only for the year 2009," Pope Benedict has decided that parishes may use the prayers and readings for the feast day Jan. 25.

Because the feast day Mass does not include a second reading, the second reading from the third Sunday of ordinary time should be used and the Creed, often not recited at Mass during the week, should be recited, the decree said.

The decree was signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation, and by Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, congregation secretary.

22 December 2008

If You Don't Like The Bagpipes ...

... then look away now.

These are not the bagpipes of Scotland, but those of Asturias in the north of Spain. Vicente Prado "El Pravianu" plays a piece called "The Mine and The Sea" about a famous coalmine called La Camocha, some of whose seams stretched out under the Bay of Biscay, where fishermen earn their livelihood.

Sometimes fishermen heard strange noises below them of the firedamp exploding, and felt great pity for the miners working in the cold underground, while the miners, sometimes hearing the noise of the waves during a great storm would feal great pity for the miners, who had to work fearlessly on the open sea.

This is ancient music.

21 December 2008

What A Fortnight!

The Cardinal goes to Rome to tell and be told - fortuitously, he leaves a day or two before Damian Thompson breaks the story about the giant and growing fissure in the trad community in England and Wales; but before the anti-trads can take advantage, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton seems to decide to attack systematically a great swathe of orthodox Catholic belief.
We've still a couple of days of preparation before Christmas: perhaps we (a royal we, this one)ought to examine our consciences and work out how much of this is our fault. How often have I prayed for Bishops, that they might dutifully lead God's Church? How often have I criticised them behind their backs instead of praying for them? When have I made excuses for inadequately prepared celebrations of the TLM instead of praying in advance for the poor priests who are doing their best but are not quite there yet? Might my loving my fellow creatures help make the world a better and holier place?
Meanwhile, here is an example of neighbourliness, trust, concern for those who suffer, and recycling!

20 December 2008

Catholic Everything

Catholic Everything, which can be found here, has the potential to become really something. It is what it says: a Directory of Catholic everything. The list of categories gives you a clue: All freebies, Blogs, Business, Education, Family, Media, Organisations, People, Pregnancy, Products and Travel.

It's very US-focused at present (so advertise on it!) and has a few too many Google ads at the top, but, as I said above, this could end up being a really useful resource.

I Can't Believe It's Not Rutter

First of all, in the early nineteenth century, the Victorians standardised the tunes of all of the Christmas carols, and established a sort of Canon of acceptable carols. So you couldn't sing "While Shepherds Watched" to the tune of "Ilkley Moor" any more, because that wasn't the proper tune, while "The Joys of Mary" hadn't made it into the Canon and so survived, insofar as it has survived, as a folk song.


Then along came "Carols For Choirs" - when? in the late 60s? - and not only were all the standardised carols from the Canon reset, but the settings themselves became standardised, so that every choir in the land, every school carol concert, every group of four girls shivering in the High Street raising money for Christian Aid is going to sing exactly the same descant to the third verse of "Hark the Herald Angels", and however fresh and original it was 40 years ago, it is now a tired cliche.


So I think the Naxos Book of Carols (which I have just discovered but which is five years old already) available as a CD for a fiver, or as a book with SATB score and CD for less than a tenner is very welcome, just because it is new and refreshingly different, and, at this time of year, cheap!

19 December 2008

Brick By Brick In Germany

The new Archishop of Munich was Bishop Marx of Trier, 100% a Ratzingerian.

The new Bishop of Munster is Bishop Genn, currently Bishop of Essen. Before this appointment he was Auxiliary in ... Trier, when Marx was Bishop there.

Brick by brick ...

And the new Bishop in Oslo is a Croatian, who used to be a Parish Priest in Germany.

Catholic brick by Catholic brick ...

Hat tip to Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña

17 December 2008

A Catholic Bishop Speaks

Fortunately for Australia, and unfortunately for us, here is evidence of yet another Catholic Bishop in the English-speaking world who would feel out of place in any small group of islands off the NW corner of Europe. According to Schütz, who lives and blogs there, Archbishop Coleridge of Canberra addressed the problem of a parish where the priests have preached heterodoxy for too long and have been called to order. (This was the parish whose baptisms have been declared invalid.)

If any Church in this country has been the Church of the mob, open to all, it has been the Catholic Church. But the inclusiveness of the Church does not mean that there are no boundaries. It does not mean that there is no such thing as sin which sets a person or a group outside the communion of the Church.

In the end, communities like St Mary’s and those who support them, fail to recognise the difference between a band-wagon and a hearse. With the best of good intentions – and no-one is attributing any of this to malice – they jump gleefully on the band-wagon of a certain relevance and inclusiveness without realising that what looks like a band-wagon into the brave, new world of the future is in fact a hearse leading to a dead end that they do not see coming. Such confusions do not help, and it is the task of the Pope and the bishops to speak with one voice in pointing the way beyond them.

13 December 2008

Pius XII And The Jews: A Note


The Vichy regime would continue to be unmoved by foreign criticism. Marshal Petain appeared to believe that he was acting in the best interest of the French state. But he would be chastened by no less an authority than the Pope's representative. At a late July luncheon at a hotel in Vichy, Petain commented to the Apostolic Nuncio, Cardinal Valerio Valeri that he was consoled by the fact that the Pope understood and approved his policy on the Jews. Valeri had to correct Petain. According to a report by the Ecuadorian minister to Vichy that was intercepted by the British, the Nuncio told Petain that he was mistaken about the Pope. The "Holy Father does not approve of it". Valeri later asked for another meeting in which he delivered the Pope's plea to stop the persecutions. Even the personal protest of the Pope to Marshal Phillipe Petain, the Chief of State, stirred "Le Marechal" only to limit the ongoing deportations of foreign Jews living in the occupied zone of France.

From "Eavesdropping on Hell: Historical Guide to Western Communications Intelligence and the Holocaust 1939-1945". Archival references to NARA holdings available if required.

Bad News From The LMS

We have so many EF Masses now in England and Wales that everybody can fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending one. The only battle left to be fought is whether Low Mass or High Mass should be the norm, and where the leadership of lay Catholics should come from.

Does this sound like December 2008? No, it doesn't to me either. But read Damian's piece about some members of the Latin Mass Society's seeming desire to tear apart everything that has been achieved since Summorum Pontificum.

And to crown everything, they have cancelled next year's training course for priests at Merton College.

Who do these people think they are? Do they think they own the Mass?

09 December 2008

Good News From Rome

The news, as reported by the New Liturgical Movement, is that the Pope has asked all Abbots and Abbesses of the Benedictine Congregations to assemble at Monte Cassino next Ascension Thursday to pray with him at St Benedict's tomb.

What a wonderful, imaginative, act by HH the P. It makes me want to sing and shout! So I shall!

08 December 2008

Tagged By Mac For Six Happy Things

Harried by life at present, and I saw a message from Mac saying I'd been tagged for six things that make me very happy.

1. My family. My wife, who tolerates my enthusiasms. Teenagers who, while difficult to like at times, are impossible not to love. Brothers, sisters, cousins, all of whom are available on tap, no matter how long it is since we last spoke. Parents and uncles and aunts and others in Heaven who pray for us, and in Purgatory, for whom we pray.

2. Mass, said properly. I get to serve an EF Mass from time to time, though the "stable group" feels a bit like a household in the time of Campion as we are harried from pillar to post. I haven't been to a NO Mass where the Priest has purified the sacred vessels since September, and I haven't missed a single Sunday. But at least I have a choice of rubrically unsound Masses to go to: I don't live in China.

3. The radio: cooking Sunday dinner, listening (via the Internet radio) to Eamon and Jimmy on Radio Manchester until 12.00, then to Radio 7 for old comedy programmes. Radio 4. What's left of Radio 3. Broadcast words, and the best of broadcast music. Doing stuff with the radio switched on makes me feel like my dad, and the older I get, the more comfortable a feeling that is.

4. Loud choral music of the Renaissance: Monteverdi, Palestrina, that mob, as well as Tallis and Byrd. But loud: "you're in my basilica to listen to this". We roadtested the new stereo by taking a couple of CDs with us: mine was the start of the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers on loud. Loud to clear out the cobwebs, to scatter romantics and minimalists; loud because that's what fortissimo means.

5. Books: finding, when you get the Advent things down from the loft that there are a couple of boxes up there with a hundred-odd books you haven't seen for a couple of years and had forgotten about, and welcoming them back like the old friends they are. Odd books, quirky books, books that remind you exactly where you were (who you were) when you bought them and when you read them, even each time you read them. Books that were my parents'; books that were my friends'.

6. Wine. Fortified wines, like sherry and vermouth; sparkling wines like Champagne and cava; red wines; rose wines; white wines; "burned wine" (brandjewijn); anything except for "low alcohol" wines.

7. (And who is Mac to bind me to six when seven is the number of perfection?) The Internet. The Forum. The Marketplace. Not mantentem civitatem, but the agora in which we all bump into each other.

Tagging Ches, Fr Paul, Kirk, Hilary Jane Margaret White, the Mother of That Lot, and Eugenia.

03 December 2008

If You Feel A Bit Down ...

Perhaps what the Hierarchy of England and Wales is for is to demonstrate that national Episcopal Conferences are a bad thing. The cardinabile Bishops have demonstrated one by one why they are not fit to lead anything with Catholic in the title (I read the wikipedia aricle on EWTN earlier and it made me laugh to read: "The name "Eternal Word" was selected, instead of a name with the term "Catholic" for a specific reason. Under Catholic canon law, any organization with the word "Catholic" in it must be completely under the control of the Bishop whose dioceses it resides in").

But the eternal clock of the Church continues to tick, even in England and Wales. It isn't a querelous tick: that tick exists, particularly in the blogosphere, but the blogging tick, however noble, is of our time, the same time as the whateverdoxy of the Bishops.

But read the latest posting from Colwich, and see that the Church of always has survived. And I bet that in the convent (I hope it's in nuns' parlour!) there is a clock which they wind up every seven or twenty-eight days, that ticks with a slow, bass, beat and marks the hours which took the nuns from England to the Low Countries, and which brought them back: if there isn't, there should be!

01 December 2008

What Do They Know Of England ...

... who only England know?

You have to live abroad to understand what makes this country tick, and it's when you live abroad that you miss it most.

It's easy to criticise this country: there's plenty wrong with it.

But try living abroad: and read here what happens when you go away to something fantastic. You're in Rome, everything is wonderful, and there isn't a fry-up to be had.

A prayer for all exiles: Hic autem non habemus mantentem civitatem.