Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Famous sons of Ushaw?

Madame Evangelista asks who are the famous alumni of Ushaw apart from Francis Thompson? ( I talked about the life of Francis Thompason a few months ago at the EF Mass at Longbenton) Unlie my old school which specialises in producing pop stars (Sting and Neil Tennant), not surprisingly the most famous alumni of Ushaw are the cardinals it has produced. Among alumni are
Cardinal Wiseman, first archbishop of Westminster 1850-1865,
Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State to Pope Pius X,
Cardinal Bourne, archbishop of Westminster 1903-1935,
Cardinal Hinsley, archbishop of Westminster 1935-1943,
Cardinal Godfrey, archbishop of Westminster 1956-1963
Cardinal Heenan, archbishop of Westminster 1963-1975
and, more exotically,
Cardinal de la Puente, archbishop of Burgos 1857-1867.

I think all of these would have been products of the junior rather than the senior seminary.

Can`t think of any other famous alumni at the minute.

UPDATE: Thanks for the additions in the com box:

Archbishop Charles Petre Eyre, first post-Reformation Archbishop of Glasgow.

Joe Tasker, the mountaineer who died on Everest in May 1982 (I`m sure I`ve met his parents)


Patrick Joseph McAloon, Prefab Sprout, 1968-1975 . (Do most Catholic institutions produce pop-stars?)

To these I think we should add bishop Hugh Lindsay, bishop emeritus of Hexham and Newcastle who is known to most Catholics in this country for his letters to the Catholic press.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Book Review

I`m still finding it hard to be inspired at the moment but here is something I thought I could post. This is a book review I wrote for the North East Catholic History Society magazine. This book appears to be available only from the college. I`ve looked on Amazon without success. Anyway here it is:
Book Review

Ushaw College 1808-2008 A Celebration. Compiled and edited by W.J. Campbell on behalf of the Saint Cuthbert`s Society PKB Publishing 142pp £25 (hbk)

To celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of the opening of Ushaw College the St Cuthbert`s Society has produced this commemorative volume. This beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated book is apparently the first (and last) venture into the world of publishing of its editor William Campbell. He is to be commended for a job well done.

Four chapters provide a general history of the College. The first, by the renowned historian of Ushaw, Fr David Milburn, covers the period from the foundation of the College at Douai up until 1858. His account contains little details which bring the period to life such as the recollection by Charles Waterton, the 19th-century naturalist, that the exiled Douai students needed to raid the housekeeper`s pantry when at the Tudhoe Academy to keep body and soul together (p.10). The second looks at the architecture of Ushaw from 1808 until the last significant extension with the East Wing in 1964: it contains many fine pictures and of special interest are the pictures of the College gardens in 1860 and the demolition of the Pugin chapel in 1882. Fr Michael Sharratt`s article of 1994, originally given as a talk for the bicentenary of Crook Hall, looks at the career of Ushaw President Mgr Robert Tate. Fr Sharratt`s article draws on the Tate`s gossipy private correspondence with Thomas Slater of Hutton Henry, which he and Fr Minskip have examined, and so illustrates another side to Tate `s sometimes contradictory character which complements the work of Fr Milburn in his history. Tate`s career illustrates the concern felt by those Catholics who were so used to keeping their heads down for fear of persecution that they had grown used to a rather plain form of Catholicism and felt distinctly uneasy with the arrival of more colourful expressions of devotion introduced from the wider Church. Fr Milburn sums this period up when he speaks of Newsham who `set about replacing the drab Douai-rooted devotional life of the College by the flamboyant devotions sweeping across Catholic England from Rome` (p.18).

A chapter on student life follows illustrated with pictures of students in class, at sport on the stage and in the chapel. The explanation of the rules for the game of Cat makes Pontifical High Mass look quite simple! Fr Phillips writes the development of the education system at Ushaw which brings the story up the present. Following on from Fr Sharratt`s article, Fr Philips quotes Mgr Newsham who in 1841 wrote to bishop Brown of the Lancashire District: Ushaw is really far superior to an Episcopal seminary as projected by the Council of Trent (p.80). At Ushaw old attitudes die hard.

The last section entitled `Beauty Passed Unseen` is a lavishly illustrated guide to the buildings, historic vestments paintings and plate of the College. It continues with pictures of students who have become cardinals and portraits of all the Presidents, presumably under the same rubric! The last section is about preparing for the future but mainly talks about the latest developments at the College whose future must be precarious although it has recently fought off one attempt to close it down in the interests of rationalising provision for seminary training.

This is certainly a book that anyone who has been associated with the College will want to have as a keepsake.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Once again this blog has been rather quiet. Maybe it`s because it`s August. I have however had a series of distinguished visitors. A few weeks ago James Mawdsley of Ecce Mater Tua called by. I was fascinated to hear about his time in Burma and how this all arises from his Catholic faith.

Next was Fr Massie of Hull who does not have a blog but who features often on the Catholic and Loving it blog. Fr Massie does marvellous work with Catholic youth through the Hull Faith forum, where I was once invited to give a talk. I think I called it Evangelisation of Culture in the Fourth Century but it was really about Prudentius.

Then Fr John Boyle called by yesterday and stayed over. As readers will know he is the author of South Ashford Priest and it was a pleasure to exchange experiences of parish life and priesthood.

Next week sees the arrival of another Southwark priest Fr Charles Briggs who does not blog but who features fairly regularly and indeed features today on the Hermeneutic of Continuity as he is in a neighbouring parish to Fr Tim Finigan. So maybe this is why things have been quiet of late but maybe I`ve just not felt that inspired. I would like to show some pictures The Old Believer has sent me of liturgical experiments of the 40`s and 50`s but I can`t work out how to get pictures from Word documents to display as pictures on Blogger.

It could just be the unrelentingly awful summer. Today we saw the sun and blue skies for the first time in weeks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rubrics and Ritual

I came across Rubrics and Ritual yesterday. There`s not much information about it`s author except that he lives in the Vicariate of Arabia. Well worth a look if you are interested in the nitty-gritty of the 1962 and 1970 missals.

I would also recommend ordorecitandi by Rubricarius which gives interesting insights into the Roman liturgy particularly in its pre-1962 form.

The Divine Name

It has been widely reported that an instruction from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship has announced that Catholic liturgy is no longer to used the vocalised form of the Hebrew divine name YHWH (normally rendered `Yahweh` although the vowels are actually not known). The whole document is interesting and can be read here with accompanying letter sent out by the USCCB. This will mean saying goodbye to a small number of hymns, none of which was among my favourites. I always thought it was a cause of scandal that Catholics started using this name so freely, given that the Hebrew tradition has always been that it is never pronounced out of respect for God and instead Adonai or The Lord was used wherever it occurs in Scripture. I remember being told that Cardinal Heenan had assured the Jews that we would never use the name in this way but I have no source for that claim. However using it in the way it has been used in some Catholic hymns gives great offence to Jews. It is also against out own tradition.
Well it`s a start and long overdue. Next in my sights would be those hymns that refer to the Eucharist as `bread and wine`. as in:
`I am with you for all time,
I am with you in this bread and wine`
While I can see the point of Holy Communion under both kinds so many Catholics speak about `taking the wine` that there seems to have been a huge failure of catechesis. At the very least it points to a weak understanding of the nature of the Eucharist. Personally I think it shows Catholics are not really ready for Communion under both kinds and that there should be a re-think. Another problem is that the daily use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to distribute the chalice renders them somewhat less than extraordinary and they become ordinary. I know the whole extraordinary/ordinary thing has taken on new dimension with talk of the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman rite but surely these words don`t mean the same thing.

Seaton Delaval Hall

My interest in Seaton Delaval Hall was first aroused quite a few years ago when listening to a programme about baroque architecture in England which said that it was one of the most important examples. England is not exactly awash with the baroque and so I made a mental note pay a visit as it was just across the river in North Tyneside. In those pre-Forest Hall days North Tyneside was an unknown country to me and I no real idea where Seaton Delaval was. However last year on yet another dull Bank Holiday I decided to track it down. I`d heard that the negative side of the hall was that it had been engulfed in a great fire in 1823 but wasn`t sure how bad the damage had been and how much had been restored. A roof was put back on the 1860`s but apart from one room the rest remains as it was after the fire. I wish I had some pictures of the interior but here are some of the exterior. This link has many more pictures, including the interior. The last shows how Vanbrugh based the design of the house on Claude Lorrain`s 'The Enchanted Castle' or more properly `Landscape with Psyche outside the Palace of Cupid`. I have always been a fan of Claude Lorrain. The view from the north entrance to the North Sea is also meant to put one in mind of one of his harbour pictures.

The National Trust is now trying to buy it since the death of Lord Hastings (who lived in one of the two wings which had not been destroyed in the fire). If it fails it will be bought privately. If you are ever in the area it is well worth a visit but only open on Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoons.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I`m sorry that this blog has been rather quiet of late but I was away last week and am just catching up on things. There have been some interesting things going on. I was moved by the post, highlighted by Fr John Boyle, of the testimony of Fr P O`Rourke who at the age of 83 has returned to saying the Mass of his youth. Also interesting is the case of the closure of the parish at Allerton Bywater in the diocese of Leeds, as reported by Damian Thompson, where the parish priest has been saying most of his Masses in Latin (OF and EF) at the request of his parishioners. The PP has been branded as `divisive`. Parishioners have been chaining themselves to the railings to protest against the closure of their church. It`s hard to know what to make of it as quite a number of churches in the Leeds diocese have been or will be closed. Bishop Roche wrote an instruction on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum which was rather restrictive and yet he has on the other hand appointed Fr Wiley to be diocesan co-ordinator for the EF Mass and there is going to be an EF Mass in the cathedral. Interestingly Allerton Bywater doesn`t appear in the list of EF masses on the Leeds LMS blog. It is hard to know exactly what the issues are at Allerton Bywater and bishops have a habit of knowing things that the rest of us don`t but one hopes that the voice of the parishioners will not go unlistened to.

Another post well worth reading is that of Fr Sean Finnegan on the various attitudes of Catholics today towards the liturgy (`Out Loud`) . His analysis is useful and thoughtful and I recommend having a read.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Technical Troubles

This morning I found I couldn`t access this blog nor any other UK priestly blog nor the NLM nor Fr Z. We have heard that the bishops are considering what to say about priestly blogs but I doubted that even the bishops had that much sway with Google! After some investigation it proved to be a problem with Site Meter. It seems to be fixed now. In the meantime I created an emergency blog Forest Murmurs Rides Again which will not use Site Meter but which I imagine will be largely dormant.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chinese Chant

I`ve not bought the new disc of chant by the Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz but I`m glad to see that it has proved popular. Today I found this story about a chant disc which may not challenge it in the charts but certainly has curiosity value. It is all the more remarkable given the natural difficulties the Chinese have with Latin pronunciation which I have written about here.

The article doesn`t say but I imagine this is the work of the Patriotic Chinese Church rather than the underground Church in communion with the Holy See. The article lists the other difficulties in this attempting this project. I think it may well prove impossible but I will see if I can get a copy of this disc. Could it be that the Olympic games is proving useful to the promotion of Gregorian chant too? Earlier this year a Chinese choir sang Mozart`s Requiem for the Pope at the Vatican. Maybe China will have a part to play in the restoration of sacred music?

From the Union of Catholic Asian News website.

CHINA Shanghai Cathedral Choir To Sing At Latin Mass, Produces CDs of Requiem Hymns, Prayers

July 31, 2008
SHANGHAI, China (UCAN) -- A church choir that has released CDs of requiem hymns and prayers in Latin, Mandarin and the Shanghai dialect is now practicing hard for a Latin Mass marking the feast of the Assumption.

Ding Gaoying, conductor of the Little Angel's Choir at St. Ignatius' Cathedral in Shanghai's Xuhui district, told UCA News at least one of the four feast-day Masses would be in Latin and her choir would sing at it.

The Assumption of Mary, Aug. 15, is a major Church feast in China.

A choir member surnamed Wang, 20, said that since the feast falls during the Beijing Olympics, he hopes foreign visitors attending Mass here will be impressed with the liturgy and hospitality of local Catholics, and gain some understanding of the China Church.

Also located in Xuhui district are the Shanghai Stadium, a competition venue for the Olympic soccer matches, and Huating Hotel, which will serve as the "Shanghai Olympic Village." The hotel is on the same road as the cathedral.

Wang and Ding also spoke about the choir's experience producing the CDs.

In September 2007, it released a CD of 14 Gregorian chants for funeral Masses, sung in Mandarin Chinese as translated from the original Latin.

In April this year, around the Qingming Festival, for which Chinese traditionally visit and clean their ancestors' graves, the choir released two more CDs. One contains the 14 Gregorian chants in their original Latin and is titled Requiem: Missa pro defunctis. The other is a recording of several elderly Shanghai Catholics chanting the Office of the Dead in the Shanghai dialect, a tradition which has been handed down through generations.

Ding believes the 3 CDs are probably the first recordings of Catholic requiem music in the China Church.

Commenting on the Latin pieces, she shared that a few years ago someone found in the cathedral a set of traditional music scores dating back centuries. The choir decided to preserve such Church treasures by singing and recording the music.

"We learned slowly and sometimes consulted priests on the correct pronunciation of the lyrics," Ding continued. She noted that the monophonic chants, with their changing rhythms, are different from other songs and are not easy to sing.

Wang said the China Church does not have recordings of Latin hymns and the new CD could help people appreciate them. People "can sing the hymns by listening to the CD," he said.

Ding anticipates the CD might be in great demand in November, when many mainland Catholics observe the month of souls. It could be of interest to more than just Catholics, since Gregorian chants have been known to help people relax in addition to enriching their spiritual life, she added.

The initial 2,000 copies of the Latin-hymn CDs are now on sale in Shanghai's downtown parishes, and about 600 CDs have been sold. The Latin CD comes with a booklet containing the Latin and translated Chinese lyrics for each hymn.

Father Joseph Ai Zuzhang, cathedral parish priest and vicar general, told UCA News the hymns are very spiritually evocative. He added that the choir's singing is "not bad, though it cannot be compared with that of Benedictine monks" who have produced Gregorian-chant CDs in the past.

The 83-year-old priest studied Latin in the seminary and celebrated the Latin Tridentine Mass until the late 1980s, when the liturgical reforms based on the Second Vatican Council took hold in mainland China.

Commenting on the CD recording in the Shanghai dialect, Ding revealed that one of the elderly women who helped in the recording died soon afterward. As elderly Catholics pass on, fewer young Catholics are able to learn such chants, she noted. The recording of such prayers is "a very precious preservation of the heritage of the local Church," she said.

Chinese Buddhists have funeral prayers available on CDs or tapes, but local Catholics usually have elderly Church members come over to their homes to chant prayers for the souls of departed relatives, she observed. Now, the younger Catholics can use the CD to help them chant these prayers.