Monday, January 28, 2008

Archbishop Ranjith does it again

I remember hearing the reports of the discussions at the Synond on the Eucharist and being rather disappointed by it all. One of the few interesting interventions was from a bishop from Kazakhstan who suggested that receiving Holy Communion in the hand and standing may be partly responsible for the decline in devotion to the Eucharist. It made sense to me but I was only sad that the idea was only being voiced in Kazakhstan. However Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan, has written a book and Archbishop Ranjith has written the preface. He concurs with the bishop`s thesis. I can`t wait for archbishop Ranjith to take over as prefect of the CDW!

Here are some relevant extracts from the preface courtesy of the NLM blog where the whole preface may be read.

At the same time, speaking of communion in the hand, it must be recognized that the practice was improperly and quickly introduced in some quarters of the Church shortly after the Council, changing the age-old practice and becoming regular practice for the whole Church. They justified the change saying that it better reflected the Gospel or the ancient practice of the Church... Some, to justify this practice referred to the words of Jesus: "Take and eat" (Mk 14, 22; Mt 26, 26).
Whatever the reasons for this practice, we cannot ignore what is happening worldwide where this practice has been implemented. This gesture has contributed to a gradual weakening of the attitude of reverence towards the sacred Eucharistic species whereas the previous practice had better safeguarded that sense of reverence. There instead arose an alarming lack of recollection and a general spirit of carelessness. We see communicants who often return to their seats as if nothing extraordinary has happened... In many cases, one cannot discern that sense of seriousness and inner silence that must signal the presence of God in the soul....
Now I think it is high time to review and re-evaluate such good practices and, if necessary, to abandon the current practice that was not called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, nor by Fathers, but was only accepted after its illegitimate introduction in some countries. Now, more than ever, we must help the faithful to renew a deep faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in order to strengthen the life of the Church and defend it in the midst of dangerous distortions of the faith that this situation continues to cause.

This takes the biscuit

Chris Gillibrand`s tireless efforts to uncover silliness and abuses in the celebration of the sacred liturgy are remarkable. This however must be the silliest thing yet (and there is some stiff competition!). Read more about it here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More praise for Lancaster school document

I asked at our diocesan school department whether they had a copy of the Lancaster `Fit for Mission?` document but they said they hadn`t got it yet. Other people seem to have received it, in the Vatican. I`ve already mentioned the previous Vatican praise for this document. Now there is more. H/T to Total Catholic.

New Vatican praise for bishop's education document

A groundbreaking education document produced by the Bishop of Lancaster has received further praise from the Vatican.

Fit for Mission? Schools had previously been praised by the Congregation for Clergy.

It has now also been singled out by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, as a “reliable resource for renewing the vitality of Catholic education in today’s society”.

The cardinal commended Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue on behalf of the congregation for his “initiative and work done to strengthen the values inherent in the Catholic school”.

Cardinal Grocholewski highlighted the publication’s “comprehensive” use of documents from the Holy See to support the Catholic ethos in schools on a diocesan level.

The implementation of the Fit for Mission? Schools programme will be developed throughout Lancaster over the course of this year.

The diocese’s education centre will facilitate and co-ordinate further consultation and implementation of the action plan among primary and secondary schools, and colleges.

The consultation will culminate in a diocesan conference in November 2008 to discuss the progress of the initiative overthe year.

Bishop O’Donoghue, currently on a pastoral visit to India at the invitation of the Syro-Malabar community, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the letter from Cardinal Grocholewski.

“It is so encouraging to learn that Fit for Mission? Schools has been commended by the Congregation that has authority over all Catholic schools and colleges throughout the world.”

He added: “I see it as yet another sign that our efforts at Lancaster are moving in the right direction.

“We are honestly trying to make our schools and parishes fit for mission – striving to communicate the Gospel with a freshness and energy to young and old.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Can King Kev save Newcastle?

While I was away for a few nights last week in Lille, the news broke and just made it onto the news on CNN on the hotel television that Kevin Keegan was returning to manage our football club. I was eager to get hold of an English paper to read about it. I was never very good at football. I`ve not been to St James` park for over ten years and when I last went I needed to ask a ten year old beside me to explain what was going on and as for the off-side rule... However I follow the progress of the club with much attention and interest and also go to the theatre a lot although I don`t even live in the south! (Cf. KK`s remarks at the press conference.) It has been said that football in Newcastle is different to elsewhere in the country as the fortunes of the club appear to influence the life of the whole city.

I read when I got home that shortly after the news of Kevin Keegan`s return was announced a couple named their new born son Kevin Keegan. This made me think back to confirmations here in Forest Hall in the autumn conducted by our own bishop Kevin Dunn. He remarked sadly that no-one had chosen Kevin as a confirmation name. We`ll have to wait and see but next time he comes for confirmation in a few years time he may find a whole row of Kevins waiting to be confirmed (and maybe even a couple of Alans).

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Christian Unity Week

I`m afraid it has been a rather uneventful Christian Unity week this year even if it is the centenary of the first one. As I have mentioned before my last experience of it was in 2005 when I went to the service in Gateshead at the C of E Christ church where the bishop of Durham was the preacher. I was the only Catholic priest present as far as I could tell but there was no shortage of Anglican clergy and a lady vicar in choir dress led the service.

How strange to be back in the very same church on Saturday as I popped in to see bishop Fellay`s blessing of that church for the use of the Society of St Pius X. I thought that, given that he is the head of that organisation it might be interesting to hear what he had to say. So after the blessing of the church he stood in that same pulpit where I had seen bishop Tom Wright of Durham preach and he talked for about an hour. The first half offered reflections on the symbolism of the rite of blessing a church and the place of the sacraments in Catholic life. In the second he gave us his reflections on the Motu proprio. Having heard what he had to say I must say my thought was that reconciliation with the Holy See and the SSPX looks as unlikely as ever.

Whereas Pope Benedict in his accompanying letter to the Motu Proprio wrote: There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal, bishop Fellay appears to see the two forms of the Roman rite as being mutually exclusive which is ironically quite similar to the outlook of `liberal` Catholics who oppose the Motu Proprio or make it difficult to be implemented as they too see the two forms as being opposed to each other.

I stayed for some of the Mass which was beautifully done except that the choir had not made it because of trouble with the trains and so the music wasn`t what had been intended. I said a prayer for reconciliation and pray that this division may not harden as Pope Benedict mentioned in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum when he wrote:

Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This makes me so happy

As readers may have read elsewhere today the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the Sistine chapel this morning but this time the temporary altar for celebrating facing the people was removed and the original altar of the chapel was used instead. Here is a picture courtesy of the NLM blog. It is very encouraging to see the Mass celebrated like this after there has been much written recently, not least by Cardinal Ratzinger himself, about the need to restore this orientation in the Mass. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the issues involved a good introduction can be found here.
I fervently hope that we will see the Pope celebrate Mass like this more often as it will encourage others (myself included) to follow his lead. So far we have read the books and a few brave souls have taken on this practice but with these pictures there is much more encouragement.
In Summorum Pontificum there is mention of the extraordinary form influencing the ordinary and vice versa. Although this orientation has never actually been forbidden for the Paul VI missal (and the rubrics in a few places seem to expect it, as in the priest turns to face the people and says `Behold the Lamb of God`) many churches have been `re-ordered` with varying degrees of iconoclasm on the supposition that this was required by Vatican II. However as the EF is celebrated with this orientation most of the time and the OF is normally celebrated `facing the people` this would be one example of the EF influencing the OF. Maybe we can start an experimental OF like this once a week in the Forest after appropriate catechesis.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Church and state

These two stories struck me as interesting. In Slovakia a radio station has been fined for making fun of the Vatican`s document on road safety while in Spain the government asks for the country`s bishops to apologise for holding a day to celebrate the family. It seems to me that both of these reactions are somewhat extreme.

Spanish leaders want bishops' apology for pro-family rally
Madrid, Jan. 3, 2008 ( - Spanish government leaders have asked the country's Catholic bishops to apologize for the massive pro-family rally held in Madrid on December 30, Vatican Radio reports.

Leaders of the Socialist governing party have charged that the Church intervened in partisan political affairs with the rally, which drew nearly 2 million participants. (The government is reporting that only 160,000 took part in the demonstration.) The government has asked the bishops' conference for an apology.

Although 40 bishops took part in the pro-family event, and the hierarchy gave clear support to the event, the rally was organized primarily by lay Catholic activists. The organizers have consistently argued that the rally was not intended as a partisan political event, but as a public expression of support for the traditional family founded on Christian marriage.

Slovak station fined for criticizing Vatican's “ten commandments” of driving

Bratislava, Jan 10, 2008 / 04:02 am (CNA).- A Slovakian television station has been fined two-million koruna ($88,400), for making fun of a Vatican document on Christian driving, Agence France Presse reports.

Slovakia’s broadcasting council said that a program on the commercial station Joj abused viewers’ religious sensibilities and was not objective.

The program targeted the 2007 document issued by the Pontifical Council for Migrants “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road,” widely characterized by media reports as teaching the “Ten Commandments” of driving.

The program said that priests were “not the best experts” to give instructions on driving because the Vatican had "only two kilometers of highway and the last traffic accident was more than half a year ago."

Around two-thirds of Slovakians describe themselves as Catholic.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Zielinski speaks

I apologise for once again lifting an article from Rorate Caeli but I know not all those who read this read it. Here are the words of the Most Rev. Abbot Dom Michael Zielinski, O.S.B. Oliv., Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church as reported in today`s Osservatore Romano. I`ve tried to do my bit to encourage chant in the Forest but it takes time for it to become familiar. I was talking to some parishioners today who said that after hearing it a few times they began to enjoy it, so we soldier on.

Despite the pronouncements of the Vatican II Council and of the papal magisterium, Church music is in crisis; it is affected by the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture, of which Benedict XVI spoke in his Address to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005.

To recover the great treasure which the Tradition of the Church gave to us, it is necessary to begin with Gregorian Chant, which is capable of communicating to the People of God the sense of Catholicity and to guide it towards a correct inculturation.

German writer Martin Mosebach recalls that this music was peculiar also to the ears of Charlemagne, of Saint Thomas Aquinas, of Monteverdi, or of Haydn. And it was as strange in their age as it is in our age. Today, however, one is more inclined towards the music of other cultures than the Christians of many centuries ago. Besides, the melodies of the various local traditions, even of those of cultures different from ours, are close relatives of Gregorian chant and, even in this sense, Gregorian Chant is truly universal.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mass from Highfield in 1967

I was recently given a cassette tape recording of a BBC radio broadcast of the Sunday Mass of November 27th 1967 from St Joseph`s, Highfield, near Rowlands Gill. The celebrant was Fr Hugh Lavery, one of the finest preachers and spiritual writers of this diocese in recent times. However it is a fascinating record of the changes in the Mass at that time.
The Mass appears to be a Missa Cantata in that the proper is sung by some very well-spoken girls but other elements such as the prayers and the Our Father are said . The whole Mass is in English apart from the canon which is said aloud in Latin. A lay reader reads the Epistle and bidding prayers and there are a couple of hymns too. The Introit and Communion antiphons are sung with extended psalm verses.
I can imagine there was great excitement at the time about these changes (although for a different reaction see Evelyn Waugh`s reaction in the book `A Bitter Trial`) as it represented the fulfilment of the hopes of the Liturgical Movement and the culmination of a process which had been at work throughout the 20th century to restore the liturgy and free it from the accretions of centuries. Certainly everyone on the tape (including the commentator) sounds quite excited by it all. However I think I`d be with Evelyn Waugh on this one.

The Saint Lawrence Press

I recently received a copy of the ordo for 2008 published by the Saint Lawrence Press. This ordo follows the 1939 edition of the Roman missal. If you would like to know more about it, there is a website here. Readers of this blog will have seen the comments on the post about the new SSPX church in Gateshead where this frst came to my attention. The ordo looks formidable at first and takes a bit of deciphering when it is unfamiliar. There is a sample page with explanation here.

It is a fascinating insight into the Roman rite before the reforms of the 1950`s and 1960. The site offers a comparison between different editions of the Roman rite since 1570 which is also very interesting.

Fr Demets in his talk to the clergy of Little Rock mentions that within the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter there are some who prefer the pre-1962 Roman missal. The Institute of Christ the King are said to have permission to celebrate the pre-reform Holy Week services too. However as I mentioned in the comments box it is enough of a struggle to get the 1962 missal up and running at the minute without complicating things further. However I am enjoying looking at this ordo every day to see what was in the norm in 1939.

When I was at seminary it was not unusual for an attachment to the `Tridentine` missal to be attacked on the grounds that those who liked it valued it for the sense of liturgical immutability and continuity it gave whereas in fact the Roman missal of 1570 missal was not identical to that of 1962. Here we can, with the help of the comparison table, follow those changes. However the changes between 1570 and 1962 are fairly cosmetic compared to that of the 1970 Novus Ordo and the sesnse of following an unbroken tradition is stronger in the 1962 missal than that of 1970.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

More from Lancaster

I don`t understand why it would be a cause for regret that the organ could not accompany the singing at a Requiem as it is meant to be sung without accompaniment but it`s good to see a regular EF Mass at a cathedral. How enlightened.


For Immediate Release

3 January 2008

Traditional Rite Returns to Lancaster Cathedral

After an absence of many years, and thanks to the Motu Proprio of our Holy Father, a Sung Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite was offered in the Cathedral of St Peter, Lancaster on 11 November 2007 – Remembrance Sunday.

The celebrant was Canon Stephen Shield, Cathedral Dean. Father Michael Docherty and Fr Peter Groody sat in choir. The servers were under the direction of the MC, Michael Massey, and Andrew Plasom-Scott conducted the choir who sang the Mass for the Dead without accompaniment as the cathedral organ is awaiting restoration.

The congregation, made up mainly of parishioners but including LMS members and visitors, numbered over 140.

Canon Shield offered a further Mass in the cathedral at 12.15 pm on Christmas Day.
It is now confirmed that commencing on Sunday 24 February, Canon Shield will offer a regular fourth Sunday Traditional Mass in the cathedral at 12.15 pm. It is planned that some of these Masses will be sung.

Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, said, “Slowly but inevitably the Traditional Rite is returning to the altars of the Church. The LMS is immensely grateful to Canon Shield for agreeing to offer regular Sunday Masses. The LMS would also like to record its thanks to Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, not least for his recent very fine teaching document on the need to provide a full and rigorous Catholic education for our youngsters. The renovation of the Faith in England and Wales is an urgent necessity and Bishop Patrick and Canon Stephen are showing the way.”

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or Yvonne Windsor, LMS Office Administrator, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Pope Benedict and his great love of cats

As the owner of two cats myself, one of which makes a determined effort every day to get into church for Mass (and in the summer often succeeds when the outside doors are left open) I always enjoy hearing about Pope Benedict`s liking for cats too. Here is a recent story from translated by Chris Gillibrand of the ever informative Catholic Church Conservation blog.

The Pope wanted to write books about those with velvet paws.

In the New Year, Pope Benedict XVI has to cope with a number of appointments, traveling also is ahead of him and he has to write a book and two Encyclicals.

He only very rarely has time for himself. But now he has told his neighbour in the papal apartments, what he would really do, if he just dreams for a couple of moments. Then he thinks of his secret wish:

To write a book about cats.

Secret vocation:

The Pope would like to be the author of cat stories

A cat at the Coliseum in Rome:

The Pope loves the stray animals

As Joseph Ratzinger said in April 2005, following the funeral of his friend, Pope John Paul II, he finally after 24 years in Rome would go back to Germany, because he had a plan: to write stories, stories about cats.

Joseph Ratzinger has had cats around him for decades, not least when he was leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation lies on what was once one of the busiest streets of Rome, the Via Aurelia. On this street every day, cats are injured. Not a few of the animals are carried into the garden of the nearby Congregation. There resided Ratzinger, then Cardinal, who took care of moving the cats. He fed them with milk when they were hungry, dressed their wounds, watched as they lay in the sun and slowly recovered. And he gave them all a name.

About these cats, he wanted to write. But his election of Pope stopped these plans. As Pope Benedict XVI, from then on, he had to take care of the great Universal Church instead of the small cats on the Via Aurelia.

The responsibility weighs particularly heavily at present on the 81-year-olds. Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret in Kenya reported today to the Pope on the phone from the battlefield: "They have burnt down a church in which there were 200 people. Children and the elderly were trampled down and burned.

"The Pope does not even take the normal short Christmas holiday in Castel Gandolfo. He worked on without Christmas holidays. In the coming year, he must travel in the United States, Australia, and to Lourdes in France and has to prepare a speech on Monday to the diplomatic corps.

But little has changed in his friendship with the cats of the Vatican.

I park my motorcycle on the way to my office at the Vatican always at the border crossing- the Paul VI Audience Hall. Swiss Guards keep watch there. If previously scattered animals tried to get into the garden of the Vatican, they shooed the animals away.

But when the guardsmen now see a cat, then they let it simply into the beautiful gardens of the Pope. Because they know that Benedict XVI, if he praying in the afternoon at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican, is always pleased when he sees a cat. Because then he returns to his old dream: that he did not want to be Pope, but planned instead to write cat stories.

Friday, January 04, 2008

An alternative world?

No these things are really happening. Here are a couple of encouraging events from the universal Church which came to my notice recently and show what can be done as regards Summorum Pontificum. While in many places it continues to be largely ignored or frustrated here are a couple of bits of good news.

Firstly, Fr Demets of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter gives a talk to the clergy of the diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas on the Motu Proprio. To hear it click here.

Secondly in Hawaii a bishop and his vicar General sign up for lessons on how to celebrate the 1962 missal. Read about it here.