22 August 2013

A Query On Licetness

Browsing Denzinger, as you do, to try to find a clue to just what it was that the Council of Florence said in 1215 which impelled the Friars to start encouraging lay use of the Little Hours as a devotional aid, I stumbled across the letter Perniciosus valde which Pope Honorius III wrote to Archbishop Olof of Uppsala on 13 December 1220 adjuring him to use a lot more wine than water during the admixture at the Offertory.

It reminded me to ask if anybody else has noticed a practice of some permanent deacons of only adding water to the wine in the chalice being used by the priest and not to those being offered to the laity?  I've noticed two do this now in two different parishes in two different dioceses.  I can't work out what point is being made, unless it is a subtle protest against the use of multiple chalices instead on one single chalice large enough for all the wine which is to be consecrated.

It's very easy simply not to queue up for the chalice and to return to your seat after receiving Communion, and I'm sure that the wine in the chalices without added water is as consecrated as that in the priest's chalice, but does anybody know if there is a specific instruction for this circumstance either way, or whether there is an "English practice", or whether I have simply stumbled upon the same creativity twice.

18 August 2013

As Joshua Says ...

While we bicker about matters liturgical and ecclesiological, Joshua puts an Australian finger on the pulse here:

"The true vocations crisis in the Church is not a lack of candidates for the priesthood: it is a lack of committed Catholics (from whose ranks a small but sufficient percentage of men would naturally be drawn to Holy Orders). There is a reason why the number of church weddings, not to mention baptisms, declines yearly: it is called erosion of the faith, decline in commitment to living out the Faith, and general forgetfulness of what previous generations, often at great cost, nevertheless succeeded in passing on – until the last half-century or so. The tradition has failed: discontinuity and rupture has broken the links formerly passing down the Apostolic tradition in continuity from one generation to the next.
In this Year of Faith, what is too evident is a crisis and a lack of faith. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" – Hosea iv, 6. I recall what St Thérèse of Lisieux noted: that if there were no love in the heart of the Church (and she felt her vocation to be to live as that loving heart), the apostles would forget to preach, the martyrs would not bother to die for Christ, the missionaries would not labour to spread the Gospel. Terrible to say, what she spoke of per impossibilem has in many places throughout the West – certainly in Australia – come to pass.
What is believed by too many nominal Catholics is rather a comfortable falsehood, according to which Scripture and Tradition have little value, nor does commitment to the harder moral precepts or duties such as Mass-going (which ought in any case actually be a joy if one realize what Mass is, but I digress); rather, a fairy-floss version of eviscerated Christianity is given lip-service, according to which bourgeois niceness and thinly disguised versions of the current secular virtues (the fashions of the moment) are all that is required, to which the more pious may add lounging about on bean-bags and playing at prayer, since sometime hopefully far distant in the future we all go to "some heaven light-years away" anyway (though one should not be too serious about such fables, unappealing as they are to the worldly), and in the meanwhile "celebrating the life" and dabbling in trendy forms of do-goodery is really all that is necessary. Indifferentism replaces Christianity, in point of fact."
In a "Year of Faith" we might have expected that these "harder moral precepts" would have been drummed into us Sunday by Sunday in the weekly homily, but as it isn't happening - where I live the "Year of Faith" is a logo on the parish newsletter - we're just going to have to do it ourselves.

15 August 2013

Annoyed By The Laudate Hymnal

Some people on twitter had to put up with my frustration at having Mass this morning ruined by a bowdlerised version of "I'll sing a Hymn to Mary".  The Laudate Hymnal, instead of having "When wicked men blaspheme Thee, I'll love and bless Thy Name" has "Oh may I imitate thee and magnify God's name" as part of its Year Zero approach to what it would probably refer to as a) gender issues in Catholic hymnology and b) Catholic exclusivity issues in Catholic hymnbookology.

Most of the bowdlerisation of the hymn book is aimed at reducing sexist references to men, but the example quoted above is so gratingly awful that you have to imagine that somebody was taking the mickey.  Is there a feminist in the land so keen on equality that she sees "wicked men" as exclusive of and discriminatory against, presumably, "wicked women"?  No, absolutely not!  But there are a lot of Nuchurchians who dislike the idea of the veneration of the name of the BVM: they probably hate the idea of the "Holy Name of Jesus" as well, but as it doesn't seem to be a feast, or a line in a well-loved hymn any more, they have probably won that particular skirmish.

So, clever-clever them, they have abolished the nasty words and replaced them with a prayer referring back to the Magnificat: absolutely fine, if change were necessary, but if it isn't (and it's not!) why not write your own hymn about the Magnificat, which is about the Lord, and leave the rest of us with our hymn to Our Lady?  (The answer is easy: Estelle White.  I rest my case.)

I'm afraid that my solution - sing the old words loudly and make uncharitable comments in between verses - is not really commendable, however satisfying it might have been for me, and isn't even a tactical success, really.  But I am left wondering:

 - who compiled the Laudate Hymnal, and why?
 - who gave permission for it to sell itself as Catholic?
 - why is at pushed at priests by diocesan authorities?

The bowdlerisation is, believe it or not, not the major issue.  the real problem with the hymnbook is that it is full of protestant hymns: in PTP's words "actual protestant hymns in the hymnal. (not hymns written by protestants but those expressing prostestant theology)".  Hymns that misrepresent the doctrine of the Atonement, for example, denying that anybody who is a Christian might go to Hell.

There are times when Lenin's "Kto? Ktovo?" (Who? Whom? - who is in the driving seat and to whom are they the dominant force?) seems like a mission statement for the apparatchiks.  If it isn't, why do so many of them behave as if it is?

07 August 2013

The Funeral Of Richard III

Lots of you will have been upset to learn that the official CBCEW response to planning work for the interment of the remains of Richard III simply said that Bishop Malcolm would play whatever ecumenical part those organising the ceremonies thought fit, rather than insisting on a Catholic burial for a Catholic King.  What none of us seems to have seen is the letter from Archbishop Nichols to the Prime Minister.

"Dear Prime Minister

When we last spoke, after the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act, I said to you that I would write about an opportunity for the Catholics in this country to demonstrate their continuing allegiance to the Crown and the State and for you to recognise it without giving up the principles to which you want to demonstrate your adherence.  I think the interment of Richard III might be that opportunity.

Richard was the last but one monarch in full and open communion with Rome and his funeral should not have been the hasty affair it was.  Even the King who vanquished him, Henry VII, paid for a fine memorial to one who, whatever side one takes in the great English Civil War of the fifteenth century, was consecrated as King.  As such he deserves the Catholic funeral for a King which the circumstances of 1485 denied him.

England is no longer a Catholic country and the Church of England, to whom responsibility for the King's interment has been given, will pay him the respects due to somebody being buried in the twenty-first century.  It will be an ecumenical ceremony which will strive to emphasise national unity against national strife, and the local Catholic Bishop will play a full ecumenical part.

But I am sure you will agree that it would be imaginative if on the vigil of the national ceremony being planned for his interment, Richard III's remains could be prepared for their final burial in the way that he and his contemporaries would have expected, in a lavish rite focusing on him as an individual rather than as a symbol of national unity.

The traditional Catholic rite for the funeral of a King has not taken place in this country since the death of Henry VII, or indeed anywhere since the funeral of the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1916. If you will authorise the transfer of the casket containing the King's remains the day before the interment, we will give him the funeral he merited, demonstrating our loyalty, but also recognising that we are no longer part of the national establishment which you represent.

I would celebrate the ceremony in Latin, in the rite the King would have known, the rite which Cranmer adapted into the Book of Common Prayer; the other four Metropolitan Archbishops: Southwark, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool; would perform with me the Absolutions proper to an anointed King; the Bishops of England and Wales and the Abbots and Priors of the religious houses would attend in Choir.  And I am sure that great numbers of the Catholic faithful would attend.

We understand that the Church of England would feel that for this to take place in Leicester (or even in Westminster Abbey) would look like an attempt by Catholics at taking over, so I would propose that the ceremony should take place in Westminster Cathedral: appropriate geographically for a monarch, but not threatening for the secular and C of E establishment.

As a conservative, I am sure you will appreciate this opportunity to link our people back to their past.  As an Anglican, I am sure you will appreciate our wish not to usurp what belongs to the State and its Church.  As a politician, you will be glad of an opportunity to show that we can still work together.

Please be assured of my prayers for you, your family, and your ministry.

Yours faithfully


05 August 2013

Sorry For The Silence

Like Fr Blake, who is cutting his way through the same thicket as I am, I am finding it hard to drive a path back through Trent to what was before and what might/could/should have been.

The questions are about ecclesiology as much as about liturgy: why should we follow the practices of the diocese of Rome when we are in our own diocese?  Why should the Mass be separated from the rest of the Liturgy other than in monasteries?  Apart from Bishop of Rome, who do we, and he, think the Pope is?

Ignoring all of the post-1789 changes (if that's when the wheels really came off), what might the post-Reformation Reform have consisted of?

The glib answers won't do, so I continue to delve in the muniments, some of them dustier than others, and am constitutionally unable to avoid rabbit holes (did you know that the UK went to war with Germany at 11.00 pm on 4 August 1914?) so this might take a while.