30 December 2010

Campaign For The Real Epiphany - Updated

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And a third!

Two new Masses in two new dioceses added from the combox.  I'll update every time I'm told of a new venue.

Here is the totality of what the LMS believes to be the celebration of the Feast of the Epiphany in England and Wales on 6 January.  Not much use for most people in England and Wales, as there are no Masses listed at all in the Dioceses of Arundel & Brighton, East Anglia, Hallam, Menevia, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Salford, Shrewsbury or Wrexham, and precious few elsewhere.

Special thanks to those priests who have arranged to ensure that Mass is available at a time when those of us who are working might be able to attend.


Westminster

8.00am Low Mass The Oratory Brompton Road London SW7 2RP
11.00am Low Mass St James Spanish Place George St London W1U 3QY
6.30pm Sung Mass Corpus Christi Maiden Lane London WC2E 7NB
7.30pm Low Mass St Bonaventure 81 Parkway Welwyn Garden City AL8 6JF

Arundel and Brighton

7.00pm Low Mass St Mary Magdalene Brighton

Birmingham

7.30am Low Mass St Joseph Hall St Burslem Stoke on Trent ST6 4BB
9.00am Low Mass St Anthony of Padua 115 Headley Way Oxford OX3 7NS
12.15pm Low Mass The Oratory Woodstock Rd Oxford OX2 6HA
7.30pm High Mass The Oratory Hagley Rd Birmingham B16 8UE

Brentwood

10.30am Low Mass Our Lady Immaculate New London Rd Chelmsford CM2 0AR

Cardiff

7.00pm High Mass Our Lady & St Michael Pen-y-Pound Abergavenny NP7 5UD

Clifton

7.30am Low Mass St George Boreham Rd Warminster Wilts BA12 9JP
8.00am Low Mass St Dominic Jubilee Rd Dursley Glos GL11 4ES
8.15am Low Mass Prinknash Abbey Cranham Glos GL4 8EX
9.30am Low Mass Our Lady of Lourdes 28 Baytree Rd Weston s. Mare BS22 8HQ
12.15pm Low Mass Our Lady Magdalene Street Glastonbury BA6 9EJ
6.00pm Low Mass SS Joseph & Theresa 16 Chamberlain St Wells BA5 2PF
6.00pm Low Mass St Gregory 10 St James Square Cheltenham GL50 3PR

Hexham & Newcastle

12.00hrs Low Mass SS Joseph Patrick & Cuthbert Coxhoe Co. Durham DH6 4DA
7.30pm Sung Mass St Mary’s Forest Hall Newcastle NE12 7AB

Lancaster

6.30pm Low Mass St Peter’s Cathedral Balmoral Rd Lancaster LA1 3BT

Leeds

6.45am Low Mass St Mary of the Angels Cross Bank Batley WF17 8PQ

Liverpool

12.00hrs Low Mass St Anthony Scotland Rd Liverpool L5 5BD
7.00pm Low Mass Our Lady Star of the Sea Crescent Rd Seaforth Liverpool L21 4LJ
7.00pm Low Mass St Catherine Laboure Stanifield Lane Preston PR25 4QG

Middlesbrough

6.00pm Low Mass English Martys Dalton Terrace York

Nottingham

6.00pm Sung Mass Holy Cross Priory 45 Wellington Street Leicester LE12 6QD
6.00pm Low Mass Rosmini Centre Ratcliffe on the Wreake Leics LE7 4SJ
Tba High Mass Holy Souls Frodingham Rd Scunthorpe DN15 7TA

Plymouth

7.30am Sung Mass Lanherne Monastery St Mawgan Nr Newquay Cornwall TR8 4ER

Portsmouth

11.00am Low Mass St William of York Upper Redlands Rd Reading RG1 5JT
TBC Low Mass St Mary High St Ryde Isle of Wight PO33 2RG

Salford

7.00pm Low Mass English Martyrs Alexandra Rd South Manchester

Southwark

7.00am Low Mass St Bede Thornton Rd London SW12 0LF
and also
12.30pm Sung Mass & Blessing of Epiphany Water

8.00pm Sung Mass Our Lady of the Rosary Burnt Oak Lane Blackfen DA15 8LW

26 December 2010

Scandalum Magnum

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"You can't care about absolutely everything unless you're an adolescent or a Guardian reader" a friend once said to me, and I've always thought that was fair enough.  There is only so much saeva indignatio to go around.  So I must confess that I have allowed the story of the "Soho Gay Masses" and their Leicester equivalents to pass me by - I haven't had enough time or interest to get interested.

A posting here by Reluctant Sinner started me thinking, though: not so much about the Masses themselves, or about same sex atraction, as about Archbishop Longley.

In an interview in The Tablet, Archbishop Longley was asked whether “those protesting (i.e. loyal and orthodox Catholics) are making assumptions” about the homosexuals attending the "Soho Masses". He replied,



“I would assume that is the case, and so it isn’t for any of us to make those judgments which, in conscience, people make before God and also within the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of reconciliation assisted by the priests and other pastors within the Church.”


“The Church does not, as it were, have a moral means-testing of people before they come to receive the sacraments and it is very easy to jump to and come to the wrong conclusions about people when you don’t know them."

Now, part of the point of Reluctant Sinner's post is that he does know these people and that he is jumping to the right conclusions, but let that pass.  It is the Archbishop who seems to me to have gone right off the rails.
 
There are lots of Catholic groups and societies, and they have special Masses from time to time, but I can't think of any other Catholic group membership of which allows members to trump the obligation of members to belong to and support their own parish both financially and by their attendance at Mass in the parish.  I also can't think of any other Catholic group which is allowed to self-define on the basis of an inclination to a form of sexual activity.
 
It was hearing Archbishop Longley's novel interpretation of the "development of doctrine" - his idea seemed to be that as the world and public opinion changes, so too does doctrine - that I realised that what he was defending was (it seems to me) to be profoundly unCatholic: that where originally I had thought it to have simnply been a pastoral failure, a failure of oversight in finding out about the state of grace of people at a Mass where it was objectively likely that some of those approaching Communion shouldn't be; in fact what the Archbishop is defending is that the Church should be at least in dialogue with at least the World and the Flesh.
 
Add this to what Fr Dwight wrote recently about the Catholic Church in England and Wales and about what he had been told about its agenda, and you can see the pickle we are in.
 
Perhaps we ought to start writing now to our Nuncio-designate.  Helpfully, his address can be found here.

24 December 2010

A Thought About Thought For The Day

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The Pope really does seem to have a singular affection for this country.

Let us hope and pray that it has motivated his choice of Nuncio.

Happy Christmas, everybody!

22 December 2010

Thank Goodness For Global Warming!


Fieldfare and Redwing huddle in a tree, puffed up against the cold.




One of the Redwings came close to the front of the house.  They have never comes as close before.

Thank Goodness for global warming!  Because imagine how much worse things would be if we weren't suffering from it!

18 December 2010

Taking Turns


The finch waits his turn, while the robin eats his fill.

12 December 2010

Wikileaks And The Vatican

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What is more important than Francis Campbell's views on the effect of the invitation to come to full communion with Rome, is that the US Embassy to the Vatican is dependent on the British Ambassador to get information about what Rome thinks.

This must be unprecedented in the hostory of US-Vatican relations: think about what this means.

03 December 2010

01 December 2010

To See Ourselve As Other See Us

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Catholic World Report has an article about the Church in England and Wales here.

I bet the Bishops' Conference comes up with the facts to refute the assertions made in the article before the week is out.

Just at the same time, no doubt, as Lord Lucan, riding Shergar, catches up with Elvis.
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21 November 2010

Divide And Rule: Editor Of Osservatore Romano Beats Pope

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I've no idea what the Pope said about condoms in his interview.  Neither, I suspect, does anybody in the media or the blogosphere with a tiny number of exceptions among those who have advance copies of the book before its release on Tuesday.

So what has the editor of the Osservatore Romano achieved?  Well: he has established the narrative to accompany the Pope's book, because whatever he says will now be ignored by the world's media, who "know" that the book is about "condoms prevent AIDS".  He has divided conservative Catholics who are now in disarray about what our Church's teaching actually is.  And he has destroyed the impact of the first ever long interview with a Pope.

Either the man is an idiot, or he has done it on purpose to spike the launch of the book, and to distract even the most faithful from it.  And looking around the Internet today, I reckon he's been rather successful.
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20 November 2010

RIP Independent Ireland

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For What Died the Sons of Róisín, was it fame?
For What Died the Sons of Róisín, was it fame?
For what flowed Ireland's blood in rivers,
That began when Brian chased the Dane,
And did not cease nor has not ceased,
With the brave sons of ´16,
For what died the sons of Róisín, was it fame?

For What Died the Sons of Róisín, was it greed?
For What Died the Sons of Róisín, was it greed?
Was it greed that drove Wolfe Tone to a martyr's death in a cell of cold wet stone?
Will German, French or Dutch inscribe the epitaph of Emmet?
When we have sold enough of Ireland to be but strangers in it.
For What Died the Sons of Róisín, was it greed?

To whom do we owe our allegiance today?
To whom do we owe our allegiance today?
To those brave men who fought and died that Róisín live again with pride?
Her sons at home to work and sing,
Her youth to dance and make her valleys ring,
Or the faceless men who for Mark and Dollar,
Betray her to the highest bidder,
To whom do we owe our allegiance today?

For what suffer our patriots today?
For what suffer our patriots today?
They have a language problem, so they say,
How to write "No Trespass" must grieve their heart full sore,
We got rid of one strange language now we are faced with many, many more,
For what suffer our patriots today?

10 November 2010

11 November

This is a photo I took last week at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield in Staffordshire.  It is part of the memorial to those who worked as slaves on the Sumatra Railway.

My father fought the Japanese and was luckier than those who were captured and forced into slave labour, in that he was never captured.  Luckier too, in his lights, and in those of his comrades, in that they were able to fight back, to recover from the disasters of 1942 and gradually force the Japanese back.

Much, much, more lucky, though, because they had priests who brought God to thm.  In the jungles of New Guinea, priests could still say Mass for soldiers.

Remembrance Sunday is next Sunday, and the official celebrations will take place then.  Tomorrow, though, at 11.00, I, and I imagine, most of my colleagues will stop work and make an act of remembrance.  Spare a prayer tomorrow for miliary chaplains.

08 November 2010

Some Thoughts On Mediaevalism

The Hanged Man is a wonderful book.  It uses the documents of the process in the cause for the canonisation of St Thomas of Hereford - Bishop Thomas Cantilupe - to draw conclusions about how the mediaeval world actually worked.

It wasn't a nice place, by today's standards.  The man who was hanged, William ap Rhys, known as William Cragh (Scabby William) from Swansea, was ordered to be hanged by the Lord of Swansea, who thoughtfully arranged for men of William's family to carry out the hanging.

All the evidence pointed to William's death, but he had prayed to St Thomas on his way to his death, and the Lady of the Manor had prayed to St Thomas to restore him to life.  Both had twisted a silver penny in token of their prayer, and the Lady had had the corpse measured in order to promise a life size wax effigy of the execution for St Thomas' tomb in Hereford if he restored William to life.

And restore him to life he did.

The book gives a wonderful picture of the mental and physical world in which all of this happened.  Time is measured in the time it takes to walk a quarter mile; distance is measured by the flight of a crossbow; time is approximate: "some fifteen years since Michaelmas next".  The book concentrates on the social and political conditions, but the religious life is as distant from us.  Bishops are civil servants and raising taxes for State and Church is an important part of their life.  St Thomas had been excommunicated by the Bishop of London in an argument over tax yields.  Some things are recognisably the same: the canonisation process for example, but it was relatively new in the early forteenth century.

I also read some jottings from the diary of the papal Master of Ceremonies who accompanied Pope Leo X to meet King Francis of France at Bologna in 1515.  Amidst the descriptions of ceremony came a curious section.  The Pope wanted Francis out of Italy as quickly as possible, but the King wanted to attend a Papal Mass.  The Pope only said Mass on Sundays, and need brooked for no delay.  So the MC said

"that next Thursday, that is feria quinta, was the feast of St Lucy, and that he might celebrate on that day, as Pope Alexander had celebrated in the presence of King Charles on St Andrew's Day; and that he might say one prayer in the Mass without commemoration of the feria, for we could have the Mass of the feria said earlier by someone else; and that pleased the Pope, especially when I said that all things were observed at this Mass as on Christmas Day, with a Cardinal Bishop assistant, and two epistles (Greek and Latin), and two Gospels, and the other solemnities; and it pleased the Pope to so so, and he immediately ordered me to begin preparations; and at once I had a whole army of carpenters and workmen busy transforming the interior of San Petronio and providing for the crush."

When I hear about the wrong-headedness of Pius XII, or the ahistoricity of the reforms of Pius X, or the classicist Breviary Reform of Clement VIII, or the mistaken formal entrustment of the Reform of the Liturgy to Pius V by the Council Fathers of Trent, I can't help feeling that we could carry on back through the anti-traditional ripping up of the Liturgy by Gregory the Great, following its earlier mutilation by Gelasius in an attempt to reach some archaeological truth which would be about as valid as Eucharistic Prayer 2!

In the same way that we can't separate the practices of the mediaeval Church and their development from the practices of world in which it lived, we can't take some isolated fragments of an earlier period and claim that they are part of the practices of today.  (Borges explains this better than I ever could in Pierre Menard Autor del Quijote (Pierre Menard Author of Don Quixote).)

We can have the 1962 Missal because it never stopped being said.  We can't have the 1950 Missal back, because it has stopped being said.  We could change current practice and introduce folded chasubles, the Vigil just after Dawn, no Communion on Holy Saturday etc etc etc, but it won't be a restoration, but a radical novelty dressed as a return to the earl(ier)(y) Church: exactly the same accusation that is thrown at Archbishop Bugnini.

02 November 2010

One Last Snippet ...

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... and then you can all go out and buy Ensemble Organum's music yourselves!

31 October 2010

Very Old Chant

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A while ago, Fr Tim posted some clips of Organum chant, which led me down a merry road of spending money on music I can only listen to on earphones or in an otherwise empty house.

The theory is that "Old Roman Chant" represents the very ancient mode of singing employed in Rome, and which lingered on in the Papal liturgies until the Papacy moved to Avignon, at which point Gregorian Chant supplanted it completely.

Old Roman Chant provides not just a bridge to the music of the Eastern Churches, but shows their descent from the music of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Here is a flavour of what has been conjectured as the sound of the Introit of the Dawn Mass of Christmas Day in the sixth century.  If you are like me, it will thrill you to imagine the link back, and to be able just about to imagine the baggage such singing brought with it.  If you are like everybody else chez Ttony, you will marvel at the fact that people will pay money to hear this.  "The closest this will get to my car is the front tyre", as I was told.

You decide.



 

The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It is celebrated just after the longest night of the year, when (in the northern hemisphere) the days begin to lengthen until we reach the summer solstice, which is associated with the figure of John the Baptist. To celebrate this moment, the Church deploys an exceptional - virtually uninterrupted - liturgical cycle in which the usual Offices are interspersed with four Masses.

 

The First Mass begins just after the third hour, that is to say when the sun is midway between its zenith and twilight. Then, amid the final glimmers of daylight, First Vespers of the Nativity are sung. When darkness has fallen, Compline celebrates the first hour of night. After a short pause begins the great Office of Matins, whose solemn ceremonial lasts more than three hours, until the night reaches its epicentre, at this point Midnight Mass is celebrated. As the time of darkness draws to an end, an hour before the first gleams of dawn, begins the Office of Lauds, the two last chants of which - the hymn and the Gospel canticle - must correspond with the arrival of light in the sanctuary. Then the Office of Prime, which lasts only some twenty minutes, introduces Dawn Mass. A short break, and, when the sun is midway between the horizon and its zenith - that is, at the third hour - the Office of Terce introduces the fourth Mass. Between the commencement of the cycle - after the ninth hour on 24 December- and the beginning of the last Mass - after the third hour on 25 December - six hours of daylight and twelve hours of night have elapsed. This geometry of time, which leaves our contemporaries indifferent, constituted for our forefathers the foundation of the liturgical act.

 

The musical anthology presented here traverses some of the great moments of these four Masses of the Nativity. The music is that of the ancient chant of the Church of Rome, one of the oldest repertories of which traces have remained in the collective memory of mankind. Up to the thirteenth century this repertory accompanied the papal liturgy. It disappeared with the installation of the papacy in Avignon, and sank into oblivion. Rediscovered in the early twentieth century, it aroused little enthusiasm among musicians, and only began to be studied properly first from the liturgical, then from the musicological perspective, in the second half of the century. At this time, to distinguish it from Gregorian chant, it was named 'Old Roman chant'. A major debate took place in the Gregorianist milieu in an attempt to understand why, when since the ninth century, the whole of Western Europe had been using books of Gregorian chant in which the melodic forms are almost identical, the Roman chant books give a different version from the Gregorian chant, often with much more highly developed ornamentation. After a century of research, it would appear today that Old Roman chant presents the Roman tradition in a state closer to its origins. The musical notation utilised is extremely precious, for all the ornaments are written out, whereas in the notation of Gregorian chant ornaments are merely suggested.

A short historical summary

At the end of the eighth century, the Frankish kings began to become conscious of their role in protecting the papacy. Pippin the Short, followed by his son Charlemagne, realised that the importation of the Roman liturgy would be a fantastic tool for establishing their legitimacy and culturally unifying a vast and disparate empire. Moreover, in the eyes of the Carolingians, the chant of Rome seemed to be the best preserved musical monument of the Graeco-Latin culture which they wished to revive at all costs. Conscious of the disaster that the loss of the knowledge of the ancients would represent, Charlemagne surrounded himself with scholars and artists who collected what they could of the artistic and scientific remains of Antiquity and attempted to breathe new life into them. The music of Rome was one of the key implements of this Renaissance. The musical terminology elaborated in Carolingian learned circles borrowed numerous terms from Greek theory, which the Franks discovered through the intermediary of the Romans. Thus the Carolingians developed a sensation of being a living part of a certain form of culture whose expression, according to ancient tradition, was Greek. As a result they acquired a degree of legitimacy which buttressed them in their attempts to forge relations with Constantinople.

 

However, it was necessary to adapt the Roman liturgy to the new liturgical preoccupations which took shape in the course of the ninth century. Successive reforms, and a certain crossbreeding with the old Gallican traditions, resulted in a transformation of the former Roman chant. From this emerged a new dialect known today as 'Gregorian chant'. This chant spread through the Western empire and returned to Rome around the end of the eleventh century, gradually taking the place of the older repertoire from which it was derived. Old Roman chant, whose origins dated back to before the sixth century, continued to exalt the papal liturgy at St Peter's and in the great Roman basilicas until the end of the thirteenth century. The installation of the papacy in Avignon dealt it a fatal blow, and all trace of it was lost in the early fourteenth centurv, when it ended up being supplanted by the chant now called 'Gregorian'.

 

Like Milanese and Beneventan chant, the other two older Latin repertories, Old Roman chant is situated at the turning point between the music of Graeco-Latin antiquity and that of the Middle Ages. It testifies to a time when the Eastern and Western Churches communed in cultural and spiritual unity.

This programme illustrates the different musical genres in use in the Roman Mass. The chants known as 'Propers' are specific to a particular liturgical time. These are the Introit, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the Offertory, and the Communion. To these are added the chants known as 'Ordinary', here a Kyrie. The art of reading is illustrated by a Gospel sung in the manner still in force in the Eastern churches, whose tetrachordal musical structure is characteristic of ancient Greek music.

For this recording we have used the oldest Roman chant manuscript. It is dated 1071, and is today preserved in the extraordinary collection of the Fondation Martin Bodmcr at Cologny (Geneva).

 

One must imagine this music in the context of the great Roman liturgies of the first millennium. The glimmer of the candles which makes the colours of the mosaics flicker on the walls, ceiling and the floor long of the basilicas, the movements and the static positions of the officiants the long periods of silence. This music is founded on the art of cantillation, that is to say the act of proclamation and transmission of the sacred texts. On the most solemn feast days, the words were drawn out to extreme lengths so that the faithful might better absorb the meaning they convey. Through the magic of music, sung texts become icons. Time is deployed with sovereign slowness in order to give contemplation all the space it needs and allow consciousness genuinely to settle into the encounter with the Word. The use of the drone, the note held by the lower voices - a form of polyphonic chant then called basilical organum - confers on the sound a hieratic immanence in which time and space are united in a single vibrant truth.

Old Roman chant occupies a central position in the history of music. It is the keystone which gives meaning and coherence to what ought to be the musical consciousness of Western Europe and far beyond. For, looking back to the period before, it gives us the key to the filiation between the chant of the temple of Jerusalem and the heritage of Greek music. Looking forward in time, it enables us to follow and understand the treasures of Koranic cantillation. Outside certain extremely restricted musicological circles, this repertory is today unknown to musicians, ecclesiastics, and the general public. Yet it offers us the oldest version of Graeco-Latin music of Late Antiquity, and represents the missing link between Byzantine, Coptic, Armenian, and Syrian chant, Arab music, and Western music.

Marcel Peres


 

 


28 October 2010

Sandpiper?




Can you have completely white sandpipers?  This was taken at North Dock Llanelli yesterday, so is unlikely to be anything too exotic.  It was about the size of a gull.

25 October 2010

St Martin In The Fields

I took this picture of St Martin in the Fields and realised that I'd never been inside.  (It doesn't lean, by the way, but I can't be bothered to photoshop the picture.)

If truth be told, the Wren Churches do little for me.  They are beautiful baroque spaces, wonderful paradigms for harmonious design, ideal venues for concerts, but something is missing: the Blessed Sacrament.  (Whoops!  It's by Gibbs, but the argument still holds.)

Perhaps I am being fanciful, but I think I can sense the difference between a Church in which Mass has been celebrated, however long ago, and one where it hasn't.  Now matter how reordered a pre-Reformation, I can always visualise how Mass could be said today, how little would have to be changed.

I must confess though that two things caught my eye and made me think that something very good was going on here.  The first was that there was a large group of down and outs in the church, each occupying one of the box pews in the side, enjoying the warmth, dozing, most of them, and appreciating the beatiful baroque space in a much less aesthetic but a lot more practical way than me.

The second was the window behind the altar.  I am not the greatest fan of modern art, and the idea of messing up the window in a Wren church sounds preposterous, but in there, this morning, it worked.

19 October 2010

The Benedict Bounce

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This coming Sunday will be the one where the Hierarchy pulls together of of the positive fruits which arose during the Pope's visit into a single powerful strand of prayer and action to revitalise the Church.  Together in unity, and individually as local leaders, they will issue a powerful and stirring message to their faithful to begin a new movement of evangelisation in accordance with the Pope's vision.

Watch out here:
Arundel & Brighton, Birmingham, Brentwood, Cardiff, Clifton, East Anglia, Hallam, Hexham & Newcastle, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Menevia, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Nottingham, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Salford, Shrewsbury, Southwark, Westminster and Wrexham

18 October 2010

SUPPORT FR MILDEW!!!!!!!!!

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In the same way that a bully will always look for the weakest of his opponents, Mgr Loftus has threatened to sue Fr Mildew and as a result Fr Mildew is reduced to a state of extreme anxiety.

Here is our shibboleth.

Fr Mildew preaches God's Truth.

Mgr Loftus writes for the Catholic Times.

Let's enthusiastically treat this as an issue of Black and White and admit no grey.  Let's make this a ground upon which we can stand.

Prayers, of course, for Fr Mildew, but let's support him properly and oppose the message of his opponents!

17 October 2010

New (To Me) Books

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As I had suspected, I had to resort to the world repository of second hand books to start to build up a collection of educational books about the Faith.  The first I managed to get hold of is a modern reprint of Fr H Thurston SJ's Lent and Holy Week, originally published in 1914.  It is amazingly good.  It starts with Septuagesima and the Lenten Fast and traces the history of Lent and the fast, discurses on the severity of the Lenten Fast in antiquity, on relaxations of the Fast, and on whether or not birds counted as meat in mediaeval and early modern times.

Chapter Two starts with Shrove Tueday: as Confession on the day before Ash Wednesday has no liturgical character, where does it come from? and then goes into  the difference between Confession, Penance, Reconciliation and Absolution (which four happened at different times during Lent), what happened to the person who, dressed in sackcloth and ashes was banished for six weeks, and how people who weren't carrying out this penance nevertheless began to get some of the ashes sprinkled on them on Ash Wednesday.  His description of Holy Week as it used to be are fascinating, though they raise the question about whether those who would return to the pre-1950 Holy Week would be prepared to impose the former strict fast on the entire Church, just so that they could anticipate offices in order to mitigate the fast's severity.  The Pian reforms are not perhaps as black and white as I had thought.



Over at Catholic Book Reviews, Andrew recently reviewed a book I'd never heard of called Mitre and Crook, by Fr Bryan Houghton.  He says: "In the best English tradition (and Fr Houghton would certainly have been aware of this) he uses letters to tell the bulk of the story, and this works exceedingly well.
The plot is fairly straightforward. An English bishop, Edmund Forester (possibly the bishop Fr Houghton believed he could have become if he had not been so suspect because of his orthodoxy...) decided to reinstate the Traditional Rite of Mass in his diocese." 

I was slightly less convinced by: "I first read it as an undergraduate; I picked it up out of idle curiosity from my mother's bookshelf one evening in the vacation. I did not go to bed until I had finished it in the small hours of the morning" but effectively the same thing happened to me - I read it through in one go!

The only other "Tridentine novel" I have read is Smoke in the Sanctuary, by Stephen Oliver, which details what happens when a new PP of traditrionalist bent takes over a very untraditionalist parish.  While not a comic novel, neither is it a serious literary attempt to write a novel about the Church post-Vatican II.  It is entertaining as well as serious, and aims some excellent blows at the "Spirit of Vatican II" beliefs which infect so many in authority in the Church in England and Wales.

Mitre and Crook is a very different proposition.  It is much more serious and tells what might have happened if just one of the Bishops in England and Wales had dared to defy the Episcopal Conference consensus which has brought about so many of the problems we face today.  Could what Fr Houghton portrays actually have happened?  Who knows.  But the manner in which the faithful had their Mass taken from them (for the second time in 400 years) and the trahison des clercs which caused it and saw it through are portrayed here in a series of letters which it is difficult to imagine could be written by any senior English or Welsh cleric today.

Lots to think about!

09 October 2010

Managing Decline



So Ushaw is to close.  I thought the writing was on the wall when I saw the photos of the former Junior Seminary here.  In fact the writing was on the statues which had been vandalised, and in the liturgical books which had been abandoned, and on the atlar cloths which had been left on deserted altars.

I could almost conceive that  torching places for their insurance value represents an ordinary decent criminality when contrasted with the studied manner in which the Northern Bishops (lets not blame Clifton, Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Arundel and Brighton for once) have just abandoned a holy and consecrated place.

There is an obvious and clunking allegory about stewardship; in fact there are two, when you bear in mind that the holy and consecrated place was built to train priests.

This is how decline is managed in the Catholic Church in England and Wales: by turning our backs on the past and walking away.  But don't look backwards, ever, for fear of whatever might be looking forward at us.

06 October 2010

Bad Words

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Musing on the discussion over at Fr Ray's about the "'Catholic' Press" in this country, my mind wandered and I started to think about words which, when uttered in a context which is supposed to be Catholic, today, in 2010, immediately make my knee jerk, make me think that here is somewhere I don't want to go.

Why don't you have a play?

Spirit of Vatican II
Vibrant
Assembly
President
Presider
A / The Church (ie without an article when it should have one)
Dance
Mayhew
Macrimmon
Estelle White
Priest, Prophet, King
Tablet
South Coast
Spontaneous
CAFOD
Challenging
Easter People
Young Church
Catholics for ...
Eccleston
Cool
Press release from the Catholic Bishops' Conference
CES
Solidarity
Liberation
Worship group
Music Group
Youth Mass
Ecumeni*
Liturgy Group
Parochial Church Council
We
Yahweh
Pray, my brothers and sisters, ...
"In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" "Amen" "Good Morning everybody" "Good Morning Father" "To prepare ourselves ..."
Ghandi
Martin Luther King
Football
Lay Minister
Minister of the Eucharist
Minister of the Word
Ministry of the Apparition (OK - I made that one up)
Holy Table
"We together, as God's people"
"Lord, you know ..."
Third World
Developing World
Developing countries

I'll stop there, having managed to boost my blood pressure up to the point where I know my heart is still working properly.

03 October 2010

Not Persecuted - Ignored

I get irritated by comments which which imply that Catholics in this country are facing a wave of persecution: it just isn't true.

Being persecuted involves people being martyred: it is distasteful in the extreme to think of the sufferings of Catholics in Pakistan, for example, and think that we are being persecuted.  And look at what happened in France in the 1790s to see what happens when a State decides to persecute the Church.

But another thought came to me from a throwaway remark in an American commentary on the Pope's visit linked from Joanna Bogle's blog.  It made the point that when the UK media talks about the Catholic Church, it doesn't mean the outfit based in Ecclestone Square: it means the Pope, Rome, the Vatican.  It suddenly struck me that the Catholic Church as an institution in UK national life is of as much moment as the Institute of Directors. 

Eamon Duffy has pointed out several times that one of the crucial points in the development of the post-conciliar Church in England and Wales came when Friday abstinence was abolished explicitly because it made Catholics different from their fellow citizens: that it marked them out.  "We" decided that we wanted to be just like everybody else.  (And let's not just blame the Bishops or pretend that it was the only disatrous choice made at that time.)

By removing the things that marked us out, by becoming part of civic society, our influence became that of any interest group.  Important, in a democracy, both because practising Catholics are about 2% of the population and are a relatively homogenous group with specific demands on society (like schools, chaplains in hospital etc), and because that 2% represents votes.

But our interests could now be weighed against those of other interest groups, and by taking part in the game, we agreed to be bound by the refree's decision.  The reductio ad absurdam of the current position comes when a senior representative of the Church can criticise SPUC for not cooperating with the Government in its aim of reducing the number of abortions.

Why should the press have been so surprised by the crowds who flocked to see the Pope?  Why did his message, or at least the manner in which it was expressed, seem so novel and shocking?  Why was it bewildering to see so many young people apparently accepting what the old man in white said which explicitly contrasts with what they are getting from every other source of information available to the general public?

Why?  Because the Catholic Church in England and Wales as an institution is irrelevant in national life.  We aren't being persecuted: we are being ignored.

02 October 2010

E&W Diocesan Websites

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Against the day when you fancy doing a tour of the websites of the Dioceses of England and Wales to see, for example, how they report on the Pope's visit, and on the steps they are taking to capitalise on it, here is a handy cut-out-and-keep way to their home pages.

Arundel & Brighton, Birmingham, Brentwood, Cardiff, Clifton, East Anglia, Hallam, Hexham & Newcastle, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Menevia, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Nottingham, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Salford, Shrewsbury, Southwark, Westminster and Wrexham.

It's not as bad as I feared it might be ...
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29 September 2010

Pravda Or Izvestiya?


Might it just be possible that this is a creature of the permanent staff of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales?  At one, or two removes, of course; far enough away to be deniable, particularly to their Graces and Lordships.

It's easy to see how much the staff of the CBCEW costs: what does it do?

27 September 2010

What The Bishops Did Next

The obvious thing for the Bishops to do to start building on the Papal visit was to get out there and confirm the brethren: not literally or in their Cathedrals necessarily, but to get out among the flock and build on the foundations established by the Pope.  And it's gratifying to note that if the Bishops' Engagements column in the Catholic press is accurate, that's what a lot of them did.

Many were out in parishes which were celebrating jubilees, a couple were going away on diocesan or society pilgrimages, the Bishop of the Forces was away doing military things, Bishop Conry was at a CAFOD residential weekend, and quite a few had no engagements listed, which probably means that they said Mass in their Cathedrals.  Bishop Budd doesn't seem to send his engagements in any more, and Bishop Lang wasn't listed this week.

I was struck by Archbishop Smith, who could leave Southwark for the day to preach at the service of the annual meeting of the Christian Socialist Movement at Manchester's Anglican Cathedral.

Archbishop Nichols issued a clarion call to the faithful of Westminster.  The Archbishop of Birmingham and the Bishop of Menevia offered Masses of Thanksgiving for the visit.

Next week it will filter down to parish level.

26 September 2010

Good Books: Help Wanted

It was quite a shock to read Fr Hunwicke recently when he said:

Dear old Fortescue's The Mass records the long debates of liturgists a century ago about where the epiclesis of the Roman Rite originally was before it ... er ... "dropped out". Their assumption, of course, was that the epiclesis was original to Christian liturgy and that the Oriental rites which preserve it were more 'primitive' than the Roman Rite. Now, happily, we know better. We see the Oriental epiclesis as a comparatively late fad in the evolving liturgical tradition. Rather than seeking traces of a lost epiclesis in the Canon Romanus, we realise that the prayer Supplices te rogamus, in which we pray that our offerings be taken to the Heavenly Altar, represents an earlier and lovelier expression of the linkage between our offering and the eternal oblation of the Eternal Son at the Heavenly Altar.
Fr Fortescue's work is one I refer to a lot, partly because it is so well written, partly because it is obviously the fruit of great scholarship, but mainly because if there is a newer or better history of the Liturgy, I haven't come across it.

There are specialised publications: Usus Antiquior, now two issues old, will become, I am sure, a focal point for serious students.

But what I am after would be broader, rather than deeper: we need both, but I can only find the deep.

It isn't just liturgical history either: in the same way as I'd like to see a successor to Fr Fortescue, I'd like to see somebody contemporary who could write as well and as meaningfully as Mgr Knox - it's over fifty years since he died.

In the back of my copy of The Mass is an advertisement for Longman's Westminster Library: A series of Manuals for Catholic Priests and Students.  The Mass comes before The Christian Calendar, The Study of the Fathers, The Origin of the Gospels and The Breviary.  Is there any modern equivalent?  Or do I have to throw myself (and my purse) onto Abebooks?

25 September 2010

The Birmingham Three: Catholic Laity In 2010


(The picture is just to show Fr Ray that Methodist Central Hall (sort of) decked itself out for the Pope, as well as The Albert on Victoria St.)

This posting is about England and Wales, even though it might ring true in some other jurisdictions as well. 

We've had priest-blogger equivalents for many years: they write in parish newsletters or the local press; some have columns in the Catholic press, or appear on Thought for the Day.  A reasonable proportion prepare homilies which they deliver each Sunday; a lot of others extemporise.  But we are used to hearing views from the clergy about major issues of the day, the third world, international debt, how wonderful CAFOD is, and sometimes God.  The blogosphere has allowed the more readable clergy and religious to put their offerings before a much wider and international audience, and they are flourishing, offering a distinctive voice in the Church.

But for many years, the only lay bloggers (using the same analogy) were those writing in the Catholic press.  It would be fair to say that the quality of the Catholic press is mixed, in the same way that the gourmet value of most High Street eateries is mixed.  Much of it is dire, but there is the odd jewel (I think, for example, of Stuart Reid) at times, and for some people, it is the only source of intellectual nourishment about the faith (as well as an opportunity to see wha the Press Officers of now-independent Catholic Grammar Schools can boast about).

(The letters page wasn't really an analogue, because somebody else: the editor: has total control of it.  The blogosphere obeys the market: if your blog is valueless, nobody will come.  The Catholic letter page is a command economy: how else would Tom from Somerset ever find any readers?)

So now that there is an alternative, who are the lay Catholic Bloggers, and where are they?  While you read what follows, bear two quotes in mind:

The Pope quoted Newman:

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it.”

and Fr Ray, when I asked for leadership from the Hierarchy said:

“Yes, yes, yes but it will only happen only with the help of a well educated laity who make these demands of all the clergy.”

Now, before I continue I want to make one thing very clear: I am not an Oratorian, and, in particular, I am not a member of the Birmingham Oratory.  That means that I don't know what has gone on inside the Oratory.  Something has, because the Oratory received a Visitation, and the Visitor has made some judgements about what happened.

That's all I know.

And that, I suggest tentatively, is all that anybody outside the Oratorian Congregation can possibly know.  But this post is about the Catholic laity who use their voices.

The squaring up of various Catholics in respect of the "Birmingham Three" is actually about something else (which must be a bit of a downer, if you are a Birmingham Oratorian, but hey ho).  It's about lay people deciding that it is up to them themselves where the voice of the Catholic laity can be heard and where it should be heard, and it's about who identifies both the Catholic laity who have voices, and the voices which belong to the Catholic laity.

This is an extraordinary and ironic fruit of the "Spirit of Vatican II": the lay people it "empowered" to throw off clericalism and speak as equal members of God's Church have done so, but many are so off-message that they are threatening to upset the equilibrium that the S of V II appeared to have imposed on the Catholic Church here.

There are five different strands of commentary which are fairly easy to identify (please don't get hung up on the labels - that's all they are):

The Tabletistas: those in favour of the anti-Benedictine pro-"Spirit of Vatican II" status quo; the people who in the main hold the levers of power; people who sneer at the Pope and those who accept his theology and ecclesiology; its loony fringe is liberal Anglicanism;

The NeoCons: JPII Catholics; often articulate spokesmen often from the new movements; sometimes converts from Anglicanism; vigorous; orthodox insofar as they have ever come across the orthodox teachings of the Church, but sometimes a bit over-confident in the way in which they articulate what they believe that Catholic believe;

The Neither of the Above: JPII  Catholics, articulate spokesmen who are neither of the above.  At a major disadvantage because they don't belong to a group which nourishes and supports them.

The Trads: sometimes articulate, sometimes "differently choate" spokesmen for a pre-JP II view of Catholicsm.  At an even greater disadvantage because they don't belong to a group and the first two groups are firing missiles at the place where they would try to form a group if they could.  People gather around the leading trad bloggers but these people can be ignored online as lay Catholics are ignored in the real world by the powerful.  Its loony fringe comes from the traddier-than-thou tendency (we'll have an SSSG soon which will recreate the Liturgy of the 6th Century and it will immediately force the formation of a counter-group which despises St Gregory for his actions in rewriting the Roman Mass);

and, on his own:

Damian Thompson:  unwilling to lead the faction which would follow him (and who could blame him, knowing what he'd have following him, as well as what he'd have opposing him).  The Boris Johnson of English and Welsh Catholicsm (mutatis mutandis of course).

Catholic Voices could have been an interesting way of bringing together the non-Tabletista tendencies and to have created a powerful force in the Church, one which might have been able to achieve what the Pope and Fr Ray asked for.  We might have had a sort of Catholic Evidence Guild which preached the Truth inside the Church as well as outside it.  The way the idea was emasculated, the way in which the Birmingham Oratory became a battlefield for something else, will be familiar to anybody with experience of student politics.  But might it also be a case that "they" are beginning to run scared?

What next?
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22 September 2010

A Tentative Return

Ironically, I spent the period of the Pope's visit in London, but was working.  I got out early in the morning, and managed this spectacularly empty picture of the Mall soon after 7.00 am on saturday morning, but spent most of my time indoors and with very limited access to television except for the News at the end of the day.  The only service I saw all the way through was the Evensong at Westminster Abbey, and it caused me to reflect,  first that Mgr Marini and the Pope both seemed alive to the sheer quality of the service on offer: a modern composition to welcome the Pope which didn't quite come off but scored an A+ for showing willing; Stanford, whose music the Holy Father may never have heard but which is the embodiment of a particular sort of observant Anglicanism; properly vested clergy; clergy who knew all the verses to their hymns; a sense that this was their new Sunday best, that they would do absolutely everything that they could to welcome their very distinguished and very welcome guest; and second, that it just didn't cut it; that what was happening was an end, not a beginning; that this was probably the last time that a Pope would engage with the Church of England as it has been since the Restoration of our Hierarchy; and third, that our Hierarchy just isn't up to it.  Hearing the addresses of the Pope and of the Archbishop of Canterbury, I wondered which Bishop in England and Wales would be able to write something so intellectually commanding.  Most could emulate the theological wrongness of the A of C, but not the intellect.  We don't have Bishops of the calibre to take on the secular world: that's why it's taken the Pope's visit to alert the media that there is a radical alternative to the world, the flesh and the devil.  The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton preened himself that the Pope would come and see a Rolls Royce model of how to manage terminal decline: instead the Pope preached a path to a new springtime.

In fact, when I think about the Hierarchy, the word that springs to mind is "mediocre".  We are desperate for leaders: they don't all have to be intellectuals, though it would be nice if two or three were; they don't all have to be profound theologians, though it would be nice if two or three were; they don't all have to be gifted administrators, though it would be nice if two or three were; they don't all have be be good communicators, though it would be nice if two or three were; but they have to be able to lead us.

When Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's resignation approached, Cardinal Pell's suddenly appearing as a candidate wasn't an accident.  This was not a game of Fantasy Archiepiscopal Nominations: what was wanted was a debate about the sort of person the Church in England and Wales needed, and the Vincent Nichols who was Archbishop of Birmingham when Cardinal M O'C was 74 needed to show himself as something other if he were to become the Archbishop of Westminster we need.  We needed somebody who could approach the cathedra in awe and aim to grow into it, rather than try to shrink the cathedra to his stature.  I still think the jury is out, but what happens during the next few months, after we have reflected on the messages the Pope has left us, will tell us which course he is trying to steer.

More soon on what it was like to watch the way that Catholic bloggers told the story of the Birmingham Oratory.

16 July 2010

Æstivation

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I was moved to start this blog by a comment made by the Editor of The Universe about something I'd written:

“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.”

The problem is that I find myself in exactly the same position as the people I had been criticising: I want to write what I really think about some of the people exercising authority both in the Church in England and Wales, and in broader Catholic life (the Tablet Trust, the Catholic Union, Catholic Voices etc), but find myself unable to publish some things that I know, and some that I think, because they would give scandal.

The scandalous private life of a very senior Catholic person is crying out for exposure, but it will not be done by me; my Bishop is in a position vis-à-vis the magisterium that would be easily characterised as schismatic, but it won't be by me; you can fairly easily obtain tickets for Papal ceremonies in September that were allocated in the expectation that they would be issued to parishioners, but it won't be me saying how.  Three examples of something I know about: lots of you know about others.  And none of us feel able to say anything.

Æstivation: I shall retreat from the blog for the summer and watch and wonder and brood about just how far the leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales can take the ... let's say the mickey, before people like me turn on them with the wrath that (I increasingly feel) they are going to be visited with. 

09 July 2010

A New Blog

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Here's a rather good idea.

Somebody who is receiving CTS pamphlets for review, when the paper which commissioned him to review them no longer wants to review them, is casting his reviews on to the tides of the Catholic blogosphere.

The CTS is one of the quiet success stories of the last few years: I expect that during the Very Bad Times it was expected that they would wither and die and so were left alone, but with a foundation, a back catalogue, and an understanding of what the market for pamphets really wants.

The column of pamphlets at the back of Church seems much more up to date than it used to, and these reviews will help point me to the ones I need to read, so that I can have a bit of foundation myself.
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03 July 2010

Something I Hadn't Noticed

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Edited to take account of Madame Evangelista's comment.

I've been trying to work out what it is about the Bishops' Conference that makes them so, well, different.  They seem to march to a different drum from many of us; they don't seem to like to make decisions on their own; they're just not what one expects of Bishops.  I might have hit on something.  If, like me, you remember the time when you went to University as a defining moment in growing up, you might find it strange that so few of our Bishops had that experience in that way.  Being 18 and suddenly being on your own, having to manage finances, make new friends, learn how to hold your drink, make outrageous mistakes and get away with it: in short, having to grow up.  Of course, you don't have to go to University to do this - you just have to leave home and set up shop somewhere.  But the University analogy is apt for people who are going away to study for a qualification; and the leaving home analogy isn't apt for people who leave their parents' home for a sort of religious boarding school where board and lodging is provided at somebody else's expense.  Of course all of the Bishops eventually were left to their own devices and had to sort of make do by themselves, but at a much later age, and when they were different people.

If you don't count being at a Seminary like Ushaw or Valladolid where you attend University classes (much less Rome), how many of our Bishops have had that experience?
  • Bishop Arnold – yes: a barrister
  • Bishop Brain - no
  • Bishop Budd - no
  • Bishop Burns - no
  • Bishop Campbell - no
  • Bishop Conry – no
  • Bishop Cunningham – no
  • Bishop Davies - no
  • Bishop Doyle – no
  • Bishop Drainey - no
  • Bishop Evans - no
  • Bishop Paul Hendricks - yes: a physicist who worked for two years for GEC
  • Bishop Hine (I can't find out about his education)
  • Bishop Hollis - yes read Modern History at Balliol
  • Bishop Hopes – trained as an Anglican priest
  • Archbishop Kelly – no
  • Bishop Kenney - no (though his experience in Sweden mark him out as differently formed)
  • Bishop Lang - no
  • Bishop Longley - yes: studied music at the  RNCM in Manchester and New College, Oxford
  • Bishop Lynch - no
  • Bishop McGough - no
  • Bishop Malcolm McMahon - yes Mechanical Engineering and worked for Daimler and London Transport
  • Bishop Thomas McMahon - no (though he trained in France, which is different)
  • Bishop Moth - no
  • Archbishop Nichols - no
  • Bishop Noble (I can't find out about his education)
  • Bishop Rawsthorne - no
  • Bishop Regan - no
  • Bishop Roche - no
  • Archbishop Smith - yes: Law degree from Exeter
  • Bishop Stack - no
  • Bishop Williams - no (in fact entered Junior Seminary aged 13 years old in 1961)

Now, there's nothing wrong with the formation any of them has had, nor is there any reason to expect that a Bishop should have gone to University.  But their background sets them apart from many of the people they have to deal with.
Is this why they have come to depend on the Tabletistas?

Incidentally the page here where they have published their CVs is illuminating in many respects.
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20 June 2010

Hiatus

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This isn't just me not posting.  It's me run off my feet at work and at home and having little time, as well as having more and more questions stacking up as the Papal Visit "planning" is revealed.  More soon, honest!

13 June 2010

Odd Behaviour By A Great Tit




I was watching a coal tit - we've not had one in the garden before - when I was told to look at the shed.

Was the great tit on the roof dead?  Had a cat gone for it?

No.   It was sunbathing.  It stayed for about three minutes then flew off.

Odd.  I've seen blackbirds doing this, and, suicidally, doing it on the grass.  but never a tit, andf never on a roof.

09 June 2010

Cardinal Pell Staying Put?

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According to la cigüeña de la torre here, Cardinal Pell has asked the Pope not to name him Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, for reasons of age and health.  Don Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña  is of the opinion that the Pope may still be trying to persuade Cardinal Pell, but that Cardinal Sandri's name is already being mentioned as an alternative.
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05 June 2010

My Hierarchy And Yours

Quite a few years ago, exasperated at the failure of an RAF Squadron Leader to get to grips with a project he was responsible for, a bunch of us conspired to make him responsible for a social evening, which, we suggested, ought to take place in the restaurant run by the local beer manufacturer.  Our intention was to allow him to demonstrate whether or not he was capable of organising a piss-up in a brewery: he wasn't.

I look at the way the Hierarchy is organisaing the Papal visit, and I start to think similar thoughts.  Just two examples:

The "Catholic" Education Service: it tried to set up a deal with Ed Balls which would allow abortion propoganda in Catholic schools when it was clear his party was about to be voted out; it then found a pro-life-some-of-the-time discredited MP to become its Deputy Head; now it has bravely set itself up against the idea that Catholic parents might take control of Catholic schools.  Why?

The Hierarchy was given a mandate by the Pope during the ad limina visit at the start of the year:

"Your visit to Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in your country and the Apostolic See, a communion that sustained your people’s faith for centuries, and today provides fresh energies for renewal and evangelization. Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales. I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it. During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart."

How many of you, like me, have heard nothing whatsoever of any sort of preparation for this visit?  How many of you, like me, have yet to find yourself in a church prepared to take up a second collection for the visit?  I'm beginning to get a bit annoyed by all of this. 

So here's a question: in the light of the forthcoming visit, who do the Bishops think they are? 

Are they Princes of the Church, prepared to welcome their temporal superior?  Are they Heads of a local Church prepared to welcome their Patriarch?  Are they the servants of God, prepared to welcome the Servant of the Servants of God? 

Or are they the equal (or even the better) of the Pope?

And where do they think that we fit in (other than putting notes into the collection)?

01 June 2010

Irony Abroad In Israel

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It's no so long since a poor suffering people found themselves on the high seas, desperately trying to reach Palestine, and being stopped, perfectly legitimately, on those high seas, by the naval forces of a legitimate state which wanted to ensure that they would commit no mischief if allowed to proceed, and which, on finding that mischief was intended, boarded their ships and sent them back.

One such episode ended up giving its title to a film: Exodus; though the story of the ship is as interesting.

Irony: always there somewhere if people who know their rights try to stand on them, especially if their rights might impinge on someone else's as well.
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24 May 2010

A Recommended Podcast From Father Z

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Over here, Fr Z has had the really good idea to use a podcast to say the new translation of the Roman Canon as we are likely to hear it.  He prefaces it by saying the current translation of Eucharistic Prayer 1 as we are wont to hear it.

Hearing the Canon in a new translation is a much bigger deal than I had expected; it is completely different from reading a translation (or the Latin) while the priest is talking.

I hope the catechesis picks up on the richness of the fare on offer and doesn't try to explain it away.

Most of all, I hope that the Bishops encourage priests to use this opportunity to evangelise: the whole of God's religion is contained in this six or seven minutes.  Think what a holy priest might do with it; think what a country full of holy priests might do with it!
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22 May 2010

How To Respond To The Abortarium Advert On Monday

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Boycott all of the products advertised during the same commercial break, and write to the companies concerned telling them why.
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21 May 2010

On Not Joining The New Altar Servers' Organisation

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I understand that a new Altar servers' Sodality was set up last weekend and that details are available here.

I'm not joining.  I joined the Archconfraternity of St Stephen forty-five years ago and I use its 1962 Handbook to this day when I serve.  There is no reason to set up a new organisation, other than in an attempt to gain some form of "ownership" of the Extraordinary Form in the Church in England and Wales.

I'm not a member of the LMS either, for similar reasons.

And I normally attend OF Mass, even when I know by whom and how it's going to be celebrated.

Anything which tends towards the fostering of disunity ought to be shunned.

UPDATE:

What's all this about?  This was in response to what I think was an intemperate message telling me (as it seemed to me) that I had to join this Sodality if I were to be considered a "real" 1962 EF Mass server.  I responded "assertively" and was then made aware that those attending OF Mass when EF Mass was easily available were not considered necessarily suitable for serving at EF Mass.  Lots of paraphrase here!
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15 May 2010

Preparing For An Anniversary

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For various reasons, I am involved in preparations for one celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain (as are so many other people and organisations!) and I have had a curious insight.  I reckon that most of us who were born between 1945 and 1960 are as affected by the Second World War as though we'd lived through it. 

We eat everything that's put in front of it; we don't make a fuss; we accept that not everything will work as scheduled; our upper lip is stiff; we don't expect that things will ever be perfect.

We were brought up by people who were formed by military service and by rationing.  Military service was reflected in a profusion of clubs, socieites, sodalities and guilds in which there was a hierarchy of posts up which one could ascend; in an expectation that the Man in Whitehall could behave as though he knew best; in politeness, deference and civility; in queueing.  Rationing was reflected in awful food: you cooked what you were given, out of what was available.  Meat was always overcooked because that way any iffiness (whether of source or freshness) might be overcome; food served at restaurants was "fancy", because the link between how you ate at home and how we had always eaten was lost; egg and chips became an option for a meal.

When we were little, our parents expected that we would end up being called up, and we'd end up fighting the Soviets; so discipline mattered, because it would make the transition to Basic Training a tinier bit easier.  "March nicely, boys" to a playground full of infants.

And that meant that our end was nigher, and that we ought to prepare for the Last things first.  A class of seven year olds singing "Dear St Joseph Spouse of Mary" would bellow out the chorus "Teach, O teach, us how to die" and our parents would be glad we were learning how to prepare ourselves for what was coming.

Then the 1960s happened.

Every time the Nazi says "Good Luck" to Gordon Jackson, and he replies "Thank You" during "The Great Escape", I know what side I'm on, and have been on since ever I can remember, and why. 

And I feel the most curious nostalgia for a time I cannot possibly remember.
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