Sunday, December 24, 2006
Pope Benedict XVI 21.12.06
Monday, December 18, 2006
Mass ConfusionFather writes: It seems that some people have the idea that attendance at Mass on the morning of December 24th also fulfils the obligation for Christmas. Unfortunately this is not the case. It is also worth mentioning that Catholics are obliged to attend Sunday Mass every week. The Catechism of the Catholic church has this to say: “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin” thus Catholics who miss Mass through their own fault should not receive Holy Communion until they have confessed this in the Sacrament of Confession.
I`m told this has caused a bit of a stir. Three parishioners have spoken to me about it so far and said they didn`t realise there was an obligation to go Mass on a Sunday.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I particularly liked this part from the Italian petition:
........the cultural and spiritual value of the ancient Latin liturgy is a legacy of all, as is the Sistine Chapel, as is the Gregorian [chant], as the great cathedrals, Gothic sculpture, the Basilica of Saint Peter also are. Even more so today, when our entire European Civilization risks to cut off and deny its own roots.
Curiously, even "progressive Catholics", who made the dialogue with the world and with modern culture their banner, did not give any regard and fought for forty years to keep this incredible prohibition.
The `incredible prohibition` is still largely in force. Let`s hope it is lifted after Christmas!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In the order of the day for the meeting was also a discussion on the
juridical framework in which to place the Lefebvrists after their readmission
into full communion with the Holy See.The debated questions were, thus, two.
...Benedict XVI intends to extend the indult of his predecessor, in fact
withdrawing from the bishops discretionary power on the matter: the Missal of
Saint Pius V is no longer abolished, and even if the ordinary Roman Rite is that
originated from the post-conciliar liturgical reform, the old one -- used by
centuries in the Church -- can subsist as an "extraordinary rite".The bishops,
therefore, will not be able to deny the ancient mass anymore, but only regulate
its eventual celebration, together with the parish priests, harmonising it with
the need of the community. The corrections included would have reduced from 50
to 30 the minimal number of faithful who ask for the celebration according to
the old rite. As for the readmission of the Lefebvrists, once the rite of Saint
Pius V is liberalized, the deal should be easier.
I wonder how this will work. At present I have a private Mass on a Saturday morning which attracts about 15 people. If I manage to get 30 there one week can I then start to advertise it as a public Mass? Will it only be a public Mass if the numbers stay above 30? I`m having a private midnight Mass at Christmas. Last year we had about 80 people there. Since I can expect 80 again this year can I then advertise it as a public Mass in advance? Well at least this will be some kind of progress as it will no longer require the permission of the bishop which can be hard to get. I hope the Motu Proprio will actually recommend the traditional Mass as a good thing in itself and that it will be presented as something more than a concession for the liturgically-challenged. As I have three churches in which to say Mass, I hope I can look forward to at least three traditional Masses a week!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
ANSA) - CITTA' DEL VATICANO, 12 dic - ''La pubblicazione del Motu Proprio da parte del Papa che liberalizzera' la celebrazione della messa in latino secondo il messale di San Pio V e' prossima''. Lo ha affermato il cardinale Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, membro della Commissione Ecclesia Dei che stamattina si e' riunita per discutere della liberalizzazione della messa in latino. ''Noi abbiamo studiato il documento con calma'' ha affermato il cardinale. ''Abbiamo discusso assieme per piu' di 4 ore ed effettuato alcune correzioni sul testo del Motu Proprio''. La prossima mossa spetta al cardinale Dario Castrillon Hoyos (presidente della commissione) che presentera' a Benedetto XVI il testo. Forse, ha aggiunto Medina, occorrera' un'altra riunione da parte della Commissione Ecclesia Dei. Un altro membro dell'organismo, il cardinale di Lione, Jean Pierre Ricard non ha voluto fare nessun commento, sottolineando che ''e' tenuto al segreto pontificio''. (ANSA).
Which I translate as
`The publication of the Motu Proprio on the part of the Pope which will liberalise the celebration of the Mass in Latin according to the missal of Saint Pius V is close` Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, member of the Commission Ecclesia Dei which this morning met to discuss the liberalisation of the Mass in Latin confirmed this. " We have studied the document calmly" the cardinal affirmed. " We have discussed together for more than four hours and have made some corrections to the text of the Motu Proprio" The next move belongs to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos ( president of the commission) who will present the text to Benedict XVI. Perhaps, added Medina, there will be another meeting of the Ecclesia Dei commission. Another member of the body, the Cardinal of Lyon, Jean Pierre Ricard did not want to make any comment, emphasising that he is bound by the pontifical secret"
Friday, December 08, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Apart from this there are the never ending rumours about a general permission for the traditional Roman rite. The latest suggestion, reported by Fr Zuhldorf is that the permission will be made public on December 8th. The only evidence that something may be going to happen is the reports of French bishops making clear their opposition to any such move. Meanwhile in this country we are assured that it is all hype and that there is no substance to the stories.
Elsewhere today, Rorate Caeli reports that the Patriarch of Constantinople hints that some kind of re-union might be on the cards, while the `continuing Anglicans` are hopeful of an agreement to give them a kind of uniate status in the Catholic church as reported by Ruth Gledhill.
Meanwhile almost nothing actually seems to happen apart from the recent instruction that pro multis is to be translated as for many in the Mass. The post-Synodal document on last year`s Synod on the Eucharist has still to see the light of day. I wonder if this is a record for the longest time between a synod and its follow-up document?
These are certainly very interesting times.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
1) Seminaries. To establish an initial 'spiritual' year in which students would pray a great deal and, study a) the doctrine of the Church (overview) b) 'Great Books'; á la USA, perhaps one of the greatest civilizing tools in the West and c) Latin. In subsequent years to make sure that all students got a thorough, orthodox, formation in which the bishop was closely involved with every student at every level.
2) Schools. To re-establish schools inspections for orthodox catechesis. To provide financial incentives for (practising!) Catholic teachers to teach in Catholic schools (perhaps by regular collections in the diocese).
3) To regularly, often, visit every parish in the diocese. To make friends with the clergy and make them a major concern; their spiritual, ascetic life as well as their well-being.
4) To minimize involvement in the Episcopal Conference and its ramifications; a huge and, really, unnecessary drain on time and energy.
5) To make the liturgy in the Cathedral a worthy model for the whole diocese.
6) To make the traditional liturgy available for all who want it, and simply not to make an issue of it.
1) Make a study of those parts of the `Western` world where there is an upsurge in vocations to the diocesan priesthood. These mainly occur in places where there is a bishop who is noted for his orthodoxy and who believes that the priesthood is important. In the light of suggestion 6 above, it is worth noting that the Ecclesia Dei communities don`t seem to have a problem with vocations.
2) Invite into the diocese religious congregations that are on the up, such as the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the Community of St John, the Missionaries of Charity (we do already have them), the Fathers of Mercy etc. Also try to establish a Benedictine house with the classical Roman liturgy.
3) Put money into liturgical music. Our part of the world does not have the pool of professional singers such as can be drawn upon in the London area but I`m sure something could be done to improve standards and repertoire. It would be nice to see courses on plainchant for parishes.
4) Each parish to have instructors for Natural Family Planning.
That`s all I can think of for now.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
My links with the schola have not been as strong recently since I left Gateshead and have now very limited opportunity to celebrate sung Mass in the traditional rite. However we have had a few `private` sung Masses at Forest Hall and Ian has tried to introduce Gregorian chant at the main Sunday Mass on three occasions. Participation by the congregation steadily increased with each Mass but we have not had a `chant Sunday` for a few months now.
The purpose of the lunch was to discuss our future plans. We hope to revive the chant Sundays at Forest Hall, starting with very simple Mass settings to get people familiar with what is going on. It is unfortunate that the church organ lies in ruins in the choir loft, but we can manage without it for the time being. So I hope that in the New Year we can start with a regular Sunday each month to get this project up and running again. The two ladies of the parish choir have been keen to be involved and I hope that in time others may make their way upstairs to join the group.
Apart from that Ian suggested that we have Mass in the traditional rite every day during the Octave of Christmas, although probably not on Sunday. We hope to have a couple of sung Masses among them. These Masses will be at 11am each day apart from Saturday when it will be at the usual 10am. I don`t know why I`ve never thought of trying this before.
Maybe by then, if the Holy Father gets back safely from Turkey, we will have the new indult and life will be much easier.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
I set off for Stockton although I had some difficulty finding it, not having been to this part of the diocese very often, and so I arrived about fifteen minutes late. The first talk was about recent developments in psychology, a subject about which I know nothing. It appears that there has been something of a revolution in the study of pyschology. Freud is out and many of the leading pyschologists are discovering the concept of virtue and the writings of Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas! Father gave us some photocopies of writings by the secular and mainly Jewish writers who are advocating these ideas. He was very entertaining on the subject of New York and the crazebetween the 60`s and 80`s for seeing an analyst . Apparently the goal of analysis was to move the patient from misery to unhappiness! Happiness was out of the question and regarded as a form of illness since how could anyone be happy given the mortal condition. His explanations at this point explained a lot about Woody Allan I thought!
In the afternoon Father spoke about types of neurosis and new approaches to counselling. Father seemed to be full of hope about the situation in the Church now. He came with three members of the community of the Franciscan friars of the Renewal, which he founded, from their new friary in Bradford. Father was full of praise for Pope Benedict whom he called a genius and one of the key figures of Vatican II. He didn`t allude to the hypothesis that Ratzinger became somewhat disillusioned after 1968 and the student revolts and changed his mind about things somewhat. At one point Father spoke about how the five greatest figures of the second half of the twentieth century were all religious figures bar one. He named them as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, John Paul II and Einstein. Even Einstein had a fascination with the Blessed Sacrament and loved to talk about it at length if he met a Catholic. I`m never that sure why John Paul II features in this kind of list and wonder whether posterity will still see him as such a colossal figure. One of the Fathers was heard to wonder (in jest) how Diana, Princess of Wales, had been missed out of the list!
All in all this was a very encouraging day and gave the feeling that things are getting back on track. He took pains to say that he did not want to turn the clock back and gave as an example how much better it was to have the office sung in the vernacular rather than as in his day when the `Deus in adjutorium` was sung three times a day in a grim mechanical way. Given that it is still possible to hear the office sung in Latin in the new rite, and that it was recommended that religious houses keep the sung Latin office, after the Council, it seemed the Council simply came down to singing things in a less grim fashion. I`m all in favour of that. I then wondered what he thought about the proposed Motu Proprio to free the classical liturgy. Altogether it was an excellent and most encouraging day.
Monday, November 06, 2006
On this occasion I took the opportunity to ask whether we have an indult in England and Wales for lay people to purify the vessels after communion. . This arose because of the indult for lay people to do so in the USA recently not being renewed by the Holy See. He told me we don`t have any such indult. It would be surprising if our bishops were to say anything, I suppose, but maybe it will be raised at the next ad limina. Fr Finigan had an article with a discussion about this matter on his blog which includes a response from the Liturgy office of the English bishops. I am reluctant to make a stand about this in the parish without a lead from the top as they will just think it`s me who has `dragged (them) back in time in the celebration of Mass` ( in the words of the petition I was given a couple of months after arriving in the Forest). Anyway, if the universal indult is coming soon, (here`s the latest rumour) then there will be less to worry about in all kinds of ways!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Instead of playing golf, I teach Latin at Newcastle university. It`s not a big commitment: only one hour a week in the first semester and two in the second. I do `intermediate` Latin. I used to feature on the department website and may do so again. This year there are nine in the class. In first semester I go through Aeneid book one and in second semester we`ll be doing the second half of Suetonius` life of Nero. I began last week ( I start half way through the term) and was impressed by their grasp of things. About half have come in with A-level ( although this does not always mean they have a firm grasp of the basics nowadays) and half began from scratch last year. I hope I`m doing my bit to keep Latin going in these difficult days. If we get a universal indult for the 1962 missal then maybe Latin studies will revive somewhat. In Gateshead I twice put on a Latin and once a Ancient Greek for beginners course for parishioners using the Peter Jones books which featured in the Daily Telegraph. It aroused a lot of interest with about 14 people beginning the Latin courses although we lost a few along the way.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
On Sunday afternoon I went for a walk around the churches of Trastevere with Fr John Cooper. He is keen on the new movements and wanted to find the San Egidio community. We noticed that they were celebrating a Mass in Santa Maria in Trastevere at 5pm so we went in for it. I had heard of the Sant` Egidio community in the context of inter-faith dialogue and Fr Greg Price said they had stopped some wars in Africa but I wasn`t expecting anything interesting from a liturgical point of view. My memory of Italian Masses was that the music mainly consisted of hymns to tunes such as the Old Hundredth. However I was quite impressed. There were no hymns at Mass. The music was provided by a choir which sang rather in the style of the Russian Orthodox and from their Mass books they have a certain number of set pieces to be sung as the introit or offertory etc. There wasn`t an instrumental group which I had rather expected. The Mass was concelebrated by about 7 priests. I wondered if they might have some special practices like the Neo-Catechumenate but there were only a couple. During the Gloria a priest brought the lectionary from the back of church and a very large candle, like a paschal candle, accompanied it which was then placed on the epistle side. The Gospel itself was read from the pulpit halfway down the aisle and halfway up a pillar, so it wasn`t possible to incense the book but the acolytes and thurifer stood in the nave facing the priest reading the Gospel. Holy Communion was given by intinction which I also thought was interesting. Overall I was rather encouraged.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
While in St Peter`s on Monday night for the Mass for the opening of the academic year, I spotted the illustrious priest blogger Fr Tim Finigan of the Hermeneutic of Continuity. ( Seen here standing higher than the rest.) I took my picture first but I see he has posted the picture he took of me before I got round to posting. He has thus achieved more than I have managed as I haven`t got my own picture on this blog as yet! We have a mutual friend in Fr Charles Briggs of Chislehurst whose lunch appointments with Fr Tim are a regular feature of his blog. Fr Charles was meant to be coming to stay at Forest Hall this weekend but has had to postpone his trip until November.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I returned yesterday afternoon from a week in Rome with three priests of our diocese. Here they are enjoying a drink on the roof of the Casa del Clero with St Peter`s dome in the background. They are Fr John Cooper, episcopal vicar for religious and parish priest at Morpeth. I had my last year as a curate with him in 1994-95 at Morpeth and go back once a month to celebrate a traditional Latin Mass there. Also present were Fr Ian Jackson, parish priest of Ashington with whom I`d been to Rome in 1987 and Fr Martin Morris, parish priest of Hebburn. It was a very relaxing trip as there was nothing I was particularly desperate to see. I had thought that I should go somewhere I`d not been before and planned to get to Tivoli but in the event settled for heading off for Santa Costanza on the Via Nomentana as I`d never been to see its 4th century mosaics. I also just had time to pop into the adjacent Sant Agnese. An interesting feature of that church is the gallery called the matroneum which I assume was the place for women to attend Mass: not an arrangement I can remember seeing before.We saw the Pope at the Wednesday General Audience and again on Monday night at the Mass in St Peter`s for the opening of the academic year. Sitting beside me in St Peter`s were a group of young American religious in grey habits. I asked them who there were and they said they were from the Society of our Lady of the Trinity. As we have a parishioner, Br Martin McGough trainging with that order I asked if they knew him and a couple of them had actually been novices with him!There were 9 priests of our diocese out in Rome when we were there. Easy Jet is doing well out of the clergy of Hexham and Newcastle! Also staying the Casa and flying back with us were Fr Michael Weymes who comes from Longbenton parish which I also look after and Fr Greg Price, who spent a number of years with the Camillians before becoming a priest of the diocese. Here is Fr Price with two of our group by the `tank` at the English college where we were invited for lunch by the new spiritual director, Mgr Phil Carroll, who is also from our diocese. Three others were out with pilgrim groups.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
By a coincidence at the parish reading group this week there had been talk of Opus Dei. We met to discuss the book `The Path to Rome` which is a collection of accounts of recent conversions. We had two new people at the meeting and one seemed to regard Opus Dei with suspicion. As Fr Byrne had given a talk to the parish in the Lent talk series with the title `What is Opus Dei` which many of the reading group had attended, our new member was immediately told how impressed they were by Fr Byrne and his talk about Opus Dei. With all the interest in the Da Vinci Code the Opus Dei topic had been the most popular of the lenten talks. I was hoping to have a series of talks in the autumn too but fear that it is too late now and we may have to wait until Lent next year.
Friday, October 13, 2006
I mentioned in previous posts that my move last year was rather stressful. I can`t find any pictures at the minute of the interior of St Joseph`s Gateshead but it is a mid-nineteenth century Gothic church built to impress. The picture opposite shows the new sanctuary at Forest Hall. The old sanctuary has been closed off to make a much needed church hall and a new one built on the side of the nave as shown here. I have been able to make some changes to the sanctuary with the consent of the bishop and the parishioners. Now it looks like this. Not hugely different but a few significant changes such as moving the tabernacle, the introduction of a `big six` and an altar frontal. However there are still other difficulties such as the lack of a central aisle which makes funerals and weddings difficult and the lack of a pipe organ. (The remains of the original lie in the choir loft while we have a small electronic keyboard downstairs which is hardly used as we have no-one to play it.)
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Yesterday in the Times there was an article which claims that the Pope is about to make access to the traditional Latin Mass in its 1962 form far more accessible in the Church than has been the case hitherto. The article traces the claim to Fr Martin Edwards who told him that Cardinal Zen had recently told him this is going to happen. I rang Fr Edwards who I`ve known for many years at about lunchtime and he had no idea that the article was in the Times and was somewhat surprised.
I have long been involved with celebrating the traditional Latin Mass. When I was at St Wilfrid`s in Gateshead bishop Ambrose kindly gave me permission for a weekly Sunday Mass in 1996. On taking over St Joseph`s I moved the Mass there as it was a more central location. After I left St Joseph`s the new bishop decided that the Latin Mass should continue there on a Sunday. Unfortunately I now find myself in the strange position of being unable to celebrate that form of the Roman Rite on a Sunday although bishop Dunn has said I can say a private Mass which I do on a Saturday morning. It`s probably not that private now I`ve mentioned it here! However I am thrilled by this news about a liberalisation of the traditional Mass and look forward to being able to celebrate it more often again. I rely on the excellent Rorate Caeli blog for news on this matter. If it is true that the traditional Mass is to be known as the `extraordinary` form of the Roman rite we should be seeing a lot more of it if the term is used in the same way as `extraordinary minister of Holy Communion` seems to be used!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
On Saturday night to celebrate our patronal feast we had a concert by the New Ormston Singers. I had thought of having some kind of parish celebration quite a while ago. My first idea had been to involve the parish youth group which while thriving does not have an explicitly Catholic focus. I suggested to the chairman of the parish council that the youth group present a dramatisation of the battle of Lepanto ( cf. previous post), with vague images of childhood visits to Peasholme Park in Scarborough and its naval battle going through my head and also a thought that we could include the Chesterton poem `Lepanto`. However this all began to look rather difficult despite the agreement of our parish council chair (who also runs the youth group). So we decided to have a concert. I rang a contact in the New Ormston Singers without knowing anything about them. What a wonderful night they gave us. They are a band of keen singers who performed a selection of light classics and songs from the shows. The music ranged from West Side Story to La ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni and Laudamus Te from Mozart`s Mass in C to a favourite of mine, John Ireland`s Sea Fever, and Vilja from the Merry Widow. The accompanist struggled manfully with our small electric keyboard. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music and the food ( organised by the social committee). I hope we will invite the New Ormston Singers back again before too long. They explained that I had asked for a programme of light music but that they can do more serious stuff. Maybe I should ask for some Wagner next time!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that comprise Der Ring desNibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung), by Richard Wagner. It receivedits premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part ofthe first complete performance of The Ring.Noted excerptsAs with the rest of the Ring, a few excerpts are heard outside the operahouse. The most common heard excerpt from Siegfried is the ForestMurmurs.
That`s about it for Wagner on this blog.
I first met Fr Edwards at Ushaw at the end of 1983. I had just arrived at seminary and was somewhat surprised by what I found there. Father`s college retreat was a rock of certainity in a sea of confusion. He was the only retreat father I ever went to talk to in all my time at Ushaw. I resolved that whenever I became a parish priest I would invite him to give a mission. He came to St Wilfrid`s in 1998. When I became parish priest at St Mary`s I called him again and arranged another mission. The talks hadn`t changed since 1998 or even not that much since 1983 but as Father says if something is perfect it doesn`t need changing!
I was impressed by Father`s stamina. He gives the same mission service twice a day. It consists of an instruction, an action ( such as coming up to put a few grains of incense in the thurible before the Blessed Sacrament exposed) and a way of prayer followed by Mass. The themes were: " Is our Catholic faith true?"; " Why go to confession"; " The life of grace"; " The problem of evil" and "Our Dead". This last talk was particularly moving as Father spoke of his time as a gunnery officer on board a destroyer in the Korean war and the time he had to shell a village occupied by Chinese troops. He spoke of seeing Korean civilians on the beach watching his ship and how despite his best efforts shells fell on the beach. He told us how he prays every day for those he killed and for two of the crew who were killed by enemy fire. Unfortunately the attendance at the weekday talks was lower than Father would normally expect as a proportion of the Sunday congregation. However there was a good turn out for the children`s service on Saturday morning when Father asked children to bring models of angels or candles or cribs that they had made. This was preceded by the Saturday morning Tridentine Mass which attracted a good crowd.
On Saturday evening and Sunday morning Father had a captive audience and gave a commentary on the Mass. Memorable was his claim that if the Church ever said to you that you don`t need to attend Mass on a Sunday it would be lying. It could never say that there was anything more important for a Catholic than to attend Mass where we come to Calvary and the first day of the Resurrection and where we receive the body of Christ in Holy Communion.
Father does not charge for his mission but instead leaves out envelopes for contributions. I am happy to say that he collected £1070. I look forward to inviting him back at a later date.