29 March 2015

In support of our priests, our families, and our Church.

You may have seen the recent letter from more than 450 priests in support of the Church’s teaching on marriage.

We would like to invite you to sign the letter below, to be sent to the press in support of them, and to encourage others to sign it.

To sign, please leave your name and your diocese in the comments box below, or if you prefer email them to me, Ttony,  (themunimentroom@aol.com) or to one of the coordinators:

Mark Lambert (mark@landbtechnical.com) or Andrew Plasom-Scott (andrewplasom_scott@me.com)

The Letter:

Dear Sir, 
We, the undersigned, wish to endorse and support the letter signed by over 450 priests in the recent edition of the Catholic Herald.

As laity, we all know from our own family experiences, or those of our friends and neighbours, the harrowing trauma of divorce and separation, and we sympathise with all those in such situations.
It is precisely for that reason that we believe that the Church must continue to proclaim the truth about marriage, given us by Christ in the Gospels, with clarity and charity in a world that struggles to understand it.

For the sake of those in irregular unions, for the sake of those abandoned and living in accordance with the teachings of the Church, and above all for the sake of the next generation, it is essential that the Church continues to make it quite clear that sacramental marriage is indissoluble until death.

We pray, and expect, that our hierarchy will represent us, and the Church’s unwavering teaching, at the Synod this autumn.

Yours faithfully,

28 March 2015

Holy Week 1863

29 SUNDAY. PALM SUNDAY, semidouble. Violet. Vespers of Sunday without Suffrages.

30 Monday. Feria. Second Prayers for the Church or the Pope. Violet.

31 Tuesday. Feria. Second Prayers for the Church or the Pope. Violet.

Wednesday. Feria. Second Prayers for the Church or the Pope. Violet.

On this and the following two nights the Office of Tenebrae.

2 Maundy-Thursday. Double of the first class. Creed. White.

Good-Friday. Double of the first class. Black.

Holy-Saturday. Double of the first class. Paschal Preface (until the Ascension). White.

After Compline, Regina caeli until Trinity Sunday exclusively.

This week's Ordo is very simple and might have barely merited comment, so familiar are we all with Holy Week, but the damage done to Holy Week by the 1955 reforms under Pius XII constitutes as profound a rupture as is the reformed Missal of Paul VI. Indeed, the 1955 reforms are a prime example of a Pope showing that by virtue of his office he could do anything: la tradizione sono io.

Let me begin by offering the Holy Week schedule for Westminster Cathedral, Farm St and the Oratory for Holy Week 1939.  Here is a schedule which would be followed in any place in the world in which Catholicism could be practised openly. (Click on the images to see them more clearly.)

The immediate difference between then and now is that all of the liturgical ceremonies of Holy Week take place in the morning. This is usually explained by explaining that the canonical hours had gradually been brought forward to mitigate the harshness of the fasting and penance involved, and that the 1955 reform was aimed at recreating something analogous to the ceremonies as they would have been celebrated in the Early Church.

The equally usual objection to this argument is that we are not members of the Early Church, and that the gradual move of the hours is part of a developed tradition that deserves respect for its own undoubted antiquity.

At this point, I would like to refer you to John R's Regnum Amoris blog, and in particular to his discussion of the right hours for these ceremonies, which is here.

He makes two points overall: that the times, and the odd hours at which the different components of the office are said at this time have meaning, and that evening MassMass was first allowed to be said after midday only in 1953, a couple of years before Holy Week was changed—represents a massive rupture both to the Office, which is the complete Liturgy, and to the place of the Mass within the Christian day.: for the first time, the Christian day was measured from midnight to midnight, instead of from sunset to sunset. something it had inherited from its Jewish origins.

So why was this done? I think there were two reasons: accommodation to the times, and sheer ignorance.

In 1955 Abp Bugnini wrote:

"Liturgical reform is something that is needed if the Liturgy is to preserve its vitality and splendour.  The act of the Church [the liturgical rites] ... bounded by time, by space, by the ministers who perform it, is necessarily linked in its exercise to the changeableness of human matters.  On this account the Liturgy in its structure has required a corpus of formulas, gestures, rites and ceremonies which make of it a living organism, exposed like all organisms to outside influences, to luxuriant vitality and, sometimes, to decay." To see how Bugnini continues, and to explore further just how wrong this is see D. Alcuin Reid The Organic Development of the Liturgy pp 214-219.

What is really sad, though, is that in this big thing as in so many other smaller things, Bugnini and his companions didn't understand what they were doing, or perhaps better, had no understanding either of how simplistic their analysis of the Liturgy was, or of the consequences of the changes they were bringing in.

For the record, I don't think that simply reverting to a 1939, or, for that matter, an 1863, Missal or Ordo or even just a timetable would be any sort of answer in 2015. It will only be when there is a much more general appreciation of how the liturgical developments of the twentieth century changed the Catholic understanding of the Mass, and that a better understanding is restored, that the most egregious of the changes will be unpicked. 

When, and how, is anybody's guess; on a dark day, and they seem to become more frequent, the interrogative pronoun becomes "whether".

(According to the bookseller, this illustration from an 1845 hand Missal is by Pugin.)

21 March 2015

Passion Sunday 1863

22 SUNDAY. PASSION SUNDAY, semidouble. Second prayers for the Church or Pope. Violet. First Vespers of St Cuthbert (Meruit supremos in the hymn) with commemoration of the Sunday. White. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, First Vespers of the Most Precious Blood, with commemoration of the Sunday and of the Octave of St Cuthbert. Red.]

23 Monday. St Cuthbert, Bishop Confessor, double (transferred from 20 March). White. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, The Most Precious Blood of OUR LORD, greater double (transferred from 20 March). Creed.  preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.]

24 Tuesday. Feria. Violet. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle second prayers of the Octave, third prayers of the BVM (Concede) without Gloria or Creed. In Diocese of Plymouth, St Edward, King Martyr, double (transferred from 22 March). Red.]

25 Wednesday. (Feast of Devotion) THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, double of the second class. Creed.  Preface of the BVM. White.Plenary Indulgence.

26 Thursday. Feria. Violet. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle second prayers of the Octave, third prayers of the BVM (Concede) without Gloria or Creed.]

27 Friday. The Seven Dolours of the BVM, greater double. Creed. Preface of the BVM. White. Plenary Indulgence. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Octave of St Cuthbert, Bishop Confessor, double. Creed. White.]

28 Saturday. Feria. Violet. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle The Seven Dolours of the BVM, greater double. Creed. Preface of the BVM. White. Plenary Indulgence]

The Indulgence begins.

Passiontide has begun and from Passion Sunday until Maundy Thursday the second prayers for the Church (Ecclesia tua) or the Pope (Deus omnium) are said.  The opening psalm of the Mass (Judica me) and the Gloria Patri after the priest has washed his hands are omitted, except on feasts. Crosses and pictures were veiled yesterday before first Vespers of Passion Sunday. After this week and until Low Sunday feasts which are doubles are transferred to the period after Low Sunday, when they will be celebrated chronologically.

The calendar in Hexham and Newcastle has been seriously knocked about by the Octave of St Cuthbert which gives the northeastern week a very different feel.  But the countdown to Holy Week continues in spite of the feast of the Annunciation.  This Friday is the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM, though it had been reduced to a commemoration before Pius XII carried out his own reforms of Holy Week.  In its traditional form it includes the whole of the Stabat Mater as its Tract.

The Easter Indulgence begins after None on Saturday.  Its conditions are the same as those for Christmas: Confession; Communion; a visit to a Church or Chapel in which Mass is celebrated to pray for the peace of God's Church; and  to assist the poor with alms, or to attend catechism or sermons as often as possible, or to assist the sick or those who are near to their end. (The fourth condition doesn't have to be met on the same day as Communion is received, but Communion must be received by somebody disposed to fulfill the condition if the Indulgence is to be obtained.)

St Mary's in Caermarthen is served by the Rev Lewis Havard, the Missionary Rector.  Mass on Sundays is at 11.00. Catechism is at 3.00, and Evening Prayers and a Discourse are at 6.00.  On the first Sunday of the month the Sermon and prayers are in Welsh.  On weekdays and days of devotion, Mass is at 8.00.  There are some 340 Catholics in Caermarthen and its several widely-spaced outstations, which stretch as far as Aberystwyth. 

Gifford's Hall School certainly comes well recommended! Click on the picture for more detail.

14 March 2015

Fourth Sunday in Lent 1863

15 SUNDAY. Fourth of Lent, semidouble. Violet. Vespers of the Sunday. Suffrages.

16 Monday. Feria. Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers OmnipotensViolet.

17 Tuesday. St Patrick, Confessor Bishop, greater double. White. Plenary Indulgence.

18 Wednesday. St Gabriel, Archangel, greater double. Creed. White.

19 Thursday. (Feast of Devotion) St JOSEPH, Spouse of the BVM, double of the second class. White. [In Diocese of Liverpool Plenary Indulgence, and in Diocese of Southwark for eight days.]

20 Friday. The Most Precious Blood of OUR LORD, greater double. Second prayers and last Gospel of the feria. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St Cuthbert, Bishop Confessor, Patron of the Diocese, double of the first class with Octave. Second Prayers of St Cuthbert and Creed during the Octave. White. Plenary Indulgence.]

21 Saturday. St Benedict, Abbot Confessor, double.  White

From this time to the Eighth of July the Suffrages are not said. The Crosses and Images are covered with purple veils till Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

The calendar this week is different in two respects from that obtaining in the twentieth century: St Gabriel the Archangel is celebrated on 18 March, rather than on 24 March (he was moved there to be closer to the Annunciation, presumably for the benefit of devout people with an attention span of no longer than a day); and Friday's Passion-related commemorations reach the feast of the Most Precious Blood.  This feast is too important to lose, so it was transferred to 1 July, displacing the Octave of St John, but it loses the context of the Lenten journey towards Calvary, and, shorn of context, was ditched during the Bugnini revision of the calendar, although, after protests, the feast of Corpus Christi was renamed as the feast of the Body and Blood of OLJC.  Bugnini casually claims that this was "one of the early titles of the feast": even if this is true, it misses the point spectacularly. (At the same time he got rid of the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but that was restored by John Paul II to 3 January, though only as an optional memorial, secondary to the main celebration of "Weekday of Christmas".)

This feast is, however, displaced to next week in Hexham and Newcastle by its own Patron, St Cuthbert, whose importance locally is underlined below. I wonder what folk memory there was of the importance of this feast.  It wasn't a Holyday in pre-Reformation England, so, unlike St Joseph, isn't marked as a Feast of devotion.

There are two references to the Suffrages, the prayers to the Saints, which were, before Pope Pius X's reform of the Breviary in 1911 a part of the Office said at certain times, and consequently something familiar to Catholics, most of whose parishes had provision for Vespers on Sunday evenings.  When said, they always included a commemoration of the Patron. 

This is the translation of the commemoration of St George, Patron of England:

Ant: The saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained the promises.
V: With the shield of thy good will.
R. Thou hast crowned him, O Lord.
Prayer: O God, who makest us to rejoice in the merits and intercession of blessed George thy Martyr, grant in thy mercy that, as we seek thy blessings through him, we may obtain them by the gift of thy grace.

In Hexham and Newcastle, however, the commemoration was of St Cuthbert, the Patron of the Diocese, not of St George. In Northampton, St Thomas of Canterbury, and in Plymouth, St Boniface, the diocesan Patrons, were commemorated before St George. These had proper antiphons, vesicles, responses and collects.

I don't ever remember a prayer to, of, or even about St George in a Catholic Church in this country, even on his feast day: when (and where) I was growing up Irish priests and nuns celebrated St Patrick as a patronal feast, and St George didn't get a look in.  But how different to see a diocese confident enough of its own status as a Local Church, and in possession of a perfectly good saint of its own, deciding that its saint could take patronal preference over the national patron: a different ecclesiology to today's.  In 1863 Irish immigration to England had grown sufficiently to mean that St Patrick merited a Plenary Indulgence, where Saints David and Andrew didn't.

The church of St Michael in Brecon is served by the Rev John Davies. Sunday Mass is at 10.30 in winter and 11.00 in summer.  Vespers in winter at 3.00, and at 6.00 pm in summer.  The congregation is entirely Welsh, numbering some 260.   There was always a Missioner in Brecon until the death of the Rev William Lloyd in prison under sentence of death for his faith in 1679.  From that period until 1788 there was no resident priest in Brecon, though since then it has seldom been vacant. 

We are very aware (particularly if we are from the North) of the fidelity of Catholics during the persecutions: this is the first I have heard of a community in Wales not attached to a recusant family which managed to cling on to the Faith until and beyond Emancipation.

Only eight national associations are listed in the Directory: click on the image to get a clearer view. St Anselm's Society seems to have had at its aim the publication of reputable books for Catholics about their faith.

07 March 2015

Third Sunday of Lent 1863

8 SUNDAY. Third of Lent, semidouble. Violet. First Vespers of St Frances of Rome, commemoration of the Sunday. White. [In the Diocese of Birmingham First Vespers of St Felix, Bishop Confessor, commemoration of the Sunday. White.  In the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence. In the Diocese of Northampton Plenary Indulgence of eight days.]

9 Monday. St Frances of Rome, Widow, double. White. [In the Diocese of Birmingham St Felix, Bishop Confessor, double (transferred from yesterday). White.]

10 Tuesday. The Forty Martyrs, semidouble. Third Prayers A Cunctis. Red.

11 Wednesday. St John of God, Confessor,  double. White.

12 Thursday. St Gregory the Great, Pope Confessor Doctor, Apostle of England, double of the second class. Creed. White. Plenary Indulgence.

13 Friday. The Five Wounds of OUR LORD, greater double. Second prayers and last Gospel of the feria. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.

14 Saturday. St Felix, Bishop Confessor, double. (Transferred from 8 March.) White. [In Diocese of Birmingham St Frances of Rome, Widow, double. White. (Transferred from 9 March.)]

I will put my hands up and admit that I don't know why St Felix should cause St Frances of Rome to bumped into the end of the week in the Diocese of Birmingham.  He isn't a Patron of the diocese and the date seems to have no significance in itself, either for the diocese or its Bishop.  If anybody has any idea, I'd be grateful to know.  (He is an English Bishop, a Patron of East Anglia, and his feast was still celebrated in the diocese of Northampton, from which the diocese of East Anglia was carved, in the 1962 Missal, although the feast was no longer observed in all English and Welsh dioceses.)

There are two plenary indulgences available this week to the whole Catholic population of England and Wales; as well as an extra one for Hexham and Newcastle, and a whole week in the diocese of Northampton which will end on Laetare Sunday. We've seen how easy it is to get to Confession: this week, you can confess, fulfill your Easter obligation and spring a soul from Purgatory: what's not to like?

Although Pope St Gregory the Great is not a Patron of England, he, rather than St Augustine of Canterbury, is called the Apostle of England. He seems to have been moved in the modern calendar to 3 September, the date on which some communities celebrated his Translation.  There will be more on national Patron Saints, or at least St George, next week.

The celebration of the Five Wounds comes well in the week in which we also celebrate the witness of the Forty Martyrs and of St Gregory, because it was the Banner of the Five Wounds under which the Catholics of England rose up against Henry VIII in the Pilgrimage of Grace.  

We can see what Jesus suffered out of love for us.

The Church of St Anne, Albert-place, Spicer-street, Spitalfields is served by the Marist Fathers. The Very Rev Stephen Chaurain is the Superior, and the rest of the community consists of the Revv Joseph Ecuyer, Charles faure, Joseph Gautherin, Charles Augustus Leforetier, Nicholas Binsfeld and Hugh Patrick Kenny.  Masses on Sunday are at 6.00, 7.00, 8.00, 9.00, 10.00 (with an Instruction), and High Mass and Sermon is at 11.00. Churchings and Baptisms are from 1.30 to 3.00 pm, and on Wednesday at 6.00 pm.  Vespers, Sermon and Benediction are at 7.00.  On Holydays, Masses are at 5.00, 6.00, 7.00, 8.00, and 9.00, with High Mass at 10.00.  Every Thursday at 9.30, Mass is said in the presence of children frequenting the schools.  Devotions are every night except Saturdays at 8.00 pm, followed by Benediction on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Stations of the Cross on Fridays.  Catechism is in the church every Tuesday and Thursday at 11.00, and on Sunday at 3.00 pm.  There are Confessions every morning from 7.00 to 9.00, and every evening from 6.00 to 10.00.  Persons unable to attend at these hours will always find one of the Fathers at the Monastery.  There are Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Family, the Living Rosary, and of the Most Sacred and Most Holy Heart of Mary.  Meetings of the Confraternity of the Holy Family are every Tuesday at 8.15 pm: men only are admitted.  There is a procession of the Blessed Sacrament on the third Sunday of every month at Vespers.  The Marist Fathers occasionally give Missions and Retreats.  The parish serves Whitechapel Workhouse; Mile-end Old-town Workhouse and Workhouse schools; Victoria-park Hospital for Diseases of the Chest; and Bethnal-green Lunatic Asylum.  New and spacious girls' schools are now being erected in this locality.