Thursday, October 30, 2008

Northern LMS Pilgrimage to Lourdes

I`m just back from the Northern LMS pilgrimage to Lourdes where I was fortunate to be asked to serve as a chaplain together with Fr Swales of Coxhoe, Co. Durham. I`ll be writing more about it over the next few days. We arrived on Saturday and found the SSPX pilgrimage in full swing. I have pictures to post. We were able to have the EF Mass wherever we went, except at the grotto, despite the help of the Ecclesia Dei Commission itself.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Byzantium and Turkey

Last Sunday night I heard a programme on Radio 3 about Byzantium which is one of a number on BBC radio recently to coincide with the new exhibition at the Royal Academy. The programme can still be heard on the BBC iPlayer for a couple more days. It was a fairly routine run through the history of Constantinople but the part that interested me came at the end (at about 40 minutes) where it started addressing modern Turkish attitudes to the Byzantine past. Apparently, in Turkey, study of Byzantine history was largely unknown until recently and classics departments were also rare and regarded with deep suspicion. However it seems attitudes are changing and there is an openness to seeing this period as part of the history of the country now. In fact the last speaker goes so far as to say that Byzantium is part of the Turkish past and has nothing to do with Greece! Maybe this is not exactly a very new development. I remember reading in my guide book on a trip there in 2001, that the Turks even lay claim to Homer as their own being from Smyrna.
There is a story in the Tablet today about a visit of the Austrian Cardinal Schönborn to the Islamic theological faculty of Ankara regarding protection for religious minorities which indicates that attitudes may be changing in Turkey. An interesting situation given the hardening of attitudes elsewhere in the world, notably Iraq, and one that gives a bit of hope.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Daily Question

Hardly a day goes by without someone asking me if I`ve heard anything about our new bishop. I`ve been asked twice today. Of course I`ve not heard anything recently and don`t expect to until there is an announcement but I have taken to checking the `Other Pontifical Acts` section of the Vatican Information Service emails.

In the meantime it gets tiring waiting to see what the future holds. It`s a bit like what they said about soldiers in the trenches in World War One who just wanted to hear the whistle so they could go over the top, probably into oblivion, just because the waiting gets to you. It`s like waiting for Summorum Pontificum all over again. (And don`t even mention the clarification document!) I pray every day for our new bishop. Who knows what opportunities or difficulties lie ahead? However the diocese still seems to tick over and there have even been some notable events, most notably the EF Mass at the cathedral.

Looking at the Vacant Sees section of the Catholic Hierarchy site I see the world record for waiting for a new bishop goes to the Melkite archdiocese of Alexandria which has been vacant since 25th November 1921 so we mustn`t complain.

Minimus comes to St Mary`s Forest Hall

I`m delighted to say that all is ready for the Minimus course (Latin beginners course) to start at St Mary`s Primary after half-term. Thirteen children have signed up for this after school activity which apart from anything else should be great fun. I`ve heard rumours that Dorothy who is going to lead the teaching is threatening to dress up as a large mouse for the first class! It will be interesting to see how it goes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blog Deaths

Sorry to see that two priests` blogs from the archdiocese of Southwark have been deleted. Farewell to South Ashford priest and Semper Eadem. Sorry to see you go. Both of these blogs often had useful canonical reflections and will be missed.

Another musical item

I have forgotten so far to mention the new blog by Mike Forbester, of the Rudgate Singers who always come to Brinkburn to provide the polyphony. Here it is.

Gregorian Chant Weekend

I am happy to announce that St Mary`s, Forest Hall, will be hosting a Gregorian Chant weekend from November 7th-9th. This is being run by the Scottish Gregorian group and is open to singers of all levels of experience. For further details contact . As well as singing at the EF Mass on Saturday morning, there will be First Vespers on the Saturday night, singing at the OF parish Mass on the Sunday morning and the EF Mass at St Joseph`s, Gateshead. The fee is £10 to cover materials and refreshments.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New bishops for the UK

Two new appointments were announced today. Menevia gets bishop Burns of the Forces as its new bishop and Argyll and the Isles gets Mgr Toal, currently rector of the Scots College in Salamanca. The appointment to Hexham and Newcastle can`t be far off, surely?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form

I had forgotten to post this which I had received from the Latin Mass Society. Damian Thompson, in one of his posts about who will be the next archbishop of Westminster, when asked by one poster who he thought would go to Hexham, said he`d heard it was going to be auxiliary bishop Stack of Westminster. Then we could have EF confirmations up here!
It`s still not too late to sign up:

Last Chance to Register for Confirmations:

Now is your last chance to register for Confirmations in the Traditional Latin Rite at St James’ Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday 15th November at 11.30 am with Bishop George Stack.

Confirmations will be followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

If you are thinking of Confirmation for your child/ren this year, you need to register their details urgently with the Latin Mass Society. Please telephone or email to request a registration form and return it no later than 31 Oct 2008 to the LMS office.

Tel: 020 7404 7284.

Mary Queen of Scots

At the risk of this blog becoming uncontrollably Scottish, I thought this story on the BBC website was worthy of attention. There is a move to have the body of Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland and possibly to Falkland Palace which, being a Catholic house, would be a very suitable destination for her remains. The BBC notes:

A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said: "Mary Queen of Scots is undoubtedly held in very great and affectionate esteem by Scots Catholics who admire her religious devotion and fidelity to the church. As such, there would be significant interest among many Catholics in any plan to repatriate her remains"

Westminster Abbey is not so keen saying that her son, James I and VI, wanted her to lie in Westminster Abbey.

Before it all gets rather heated I wonder whether, given the recent events regarding the proposed relocation of the remains of Cardinal Newman, might it not be worth checking to see that there really are some remains left to transfer?

Una Voce Scotland

This should be Recent Event 3 as a part of my catching up but I got bored with that and thought that everything I write about could be given a number as a Recent Event so have decided to drop it.

A week past Saturday I went to Dalbeattie to give a day of recollection to Una Voce Scotland. I had been given a satnav by my brother for my birthday and this was its first real test. It worked perfectly but I had no idea where I was, not having located Dalbeattie on a map. The weather was not good, rain and mist everywhere I looked. However I could see that it was an attractive area and understood why it is a holiday destination.

There were about twenty people at the Mass. This was preceded by me giving a talk. I decided to give my talk on the Sarum Use again as I had it ready and it would remind me of the material before writing it up for the North East Catholic History magazine. This had seemed a good idea but as I found myself in Scotland I began to realise that it was very England-orientated. At least I had dates for the introduction of the Sarum Use in Glasgow to fall back on and mentioned the celebration of the Sarum Mass at Aberdeen in 200 by the then bishop Mario Conti. It wasn`t really a spiritual talk but I thought it was ok as there was a homily and a Holy Hour to come

Mass brought its own challenges as the altar was perched on the edge of a step so standing to face east, I found the altar was chest high. However I`ve never let an altar get the better of me yet and a low Mass followed. I preached on the saint of the day, St Francis, especially with regard to his love for the Church that kept him inside its visible boundaries.

After lunch we re-assembled for a Holy Hour. I`m not that sure it was an hour: I find it hard to time these things and many of them in the past have ben holy forty-five minutes but I spoke about the Eucharist under various aspects. It was when I came to the Eucharist as a source of perseverance that I felt somewhat at sea as I spoke about the English Martyr priests before I realised, to my shame, I knew little about the post-reformation situation in Scotland and just hoped it followed a similar pattern of priests saying Mass in secret for recusant congregations. After Benediction the day ended.

Many thanks to Una Voce Scotland for a warm welcome.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Requiem at St Mary`s Cathedral, Edinburgh on September 11th

Thanks to Blackbrow for alerting me to the YouTube videos of this important Mass celebrated by the new Dean of the cathedral in Edinburgh, mentioned on this blog in the entry for September 11th.

Archbishop Ranjith

According to rumour (such as here on Whispers in the Loggia) it appears that archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship may be leaving Rome to take up an appointment as archbishop of Colombo in his native Sri Lanka. Archbishop Ranjith`s utterances on the liturgy have been most encouraging to those who love the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. There has been only one cardinal in Sri Lanka before now (Thomas Benjamin Cooray, who got the honour in 1965). Well that means there is a precedent.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Recent Events No 2

So I spent a week in Tuscany in the company of Frs Zielinski and Donaghue. We used to be parish priests of neighbouring parishes in Gateshead and would have Sunday lunch together occasionally. Now we are more scattered but still meet up now and again for lunch and generally have good conversations. To put us in rather crude pigeon-holes I would say Fr Z is a conservative, Fr D a liberal and I`m traditionalist. So I find myself sometimes agreeing with one and then with the other. Naturally much time was spent discussing the diocese and the priestly life.

We visited Siena, San Gimignano, Monteriggione, Volterra, Colle di Val d`Elsa. The food was the best I`ve had in Italy and of course the wine was marvellous being in the heart of Chianti-shire.

From an ecclesiastical point of view there were some matters of interest. Not far from where we stayed was a sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We called to have a look around and greeted the sister who was in the church only to find that the community of six sisters were all Australians! They had come over twenty-six years ago at the request of the archbishop of Florence. We went back for Sunday Mass which was celebrated as a Mass of St Therese after which children distributed roses to all present.

Also nearby was the village of San Donato. Here`s the interior of the parish church. I was most intrigued by the lack of a forward facing altar and the presence of altar cards!

On exploring the internet just now I found the following on this site:

Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (FI): - "Pieve di San Donato in Poggio" - Località San Donato in Poggio - Tutte le Domeniche e feste di precetto ore 18:00 - Info +39 055 8072934

So it wasn`t an accident! We did get a glimpse of the young parish priest in his cassock. I wish I had done a search before going. Tuscany seeems to be well-supplied with the Extraordinary form.

So that was that. The journey back was much less eventful than the one out I`m glad to say. One more recent event to go!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Northern Cross!

I looked into this month`s Northern Cross (i.e. the diocesan newspaper) with a keen sense of anticipation as I knew there was going to be an account of the EF Mass at the cathedral. I was a little disappointed as I waded through the pages to find that the account was at the very back (on page 29 out of a total of 32 and among the Prayers and Petitions page). The pictures (as featured on this blog) were only in black and white which didn`t do justice to the splendid vestments we were able to use. Madame Evangelista has some pertinent comments on this matter too.

I suspected that not everyone was keen on a feature about the EF Mass and, while it was included, (so that the NC couldn`t be accused of failing to report what I thought was a fairly significant event) it was tucked away in the back pages. It may have been the celebration of Humanae Vitae that could cause more alarm than the EF Mass.

However I stand corrected. Apparently the reason it was near the back of the paper is that the NC try to use a 'prayerful' story alongside the prayers and petitions, because that they believe that people who read and send the prayers would be most interested in a story about prayer. However there were quite a number of stories which could also be said to have been about prayer.

So there we are. After being told that I have it all wrong for twenty-five years it`s hard to avoid being paranoid. However the cathedral is still there: it didn`t collapse because we had an EF Mass. I hope we`ll be able to go back again some time.

Feast of the Holy Rosary

Today is our Patronal Feast. I preached at Mass but we haven`t got any liturgical splendours planned for today. I`ve no idea why the parish is dedicated to St Mary of the Rosary rather than Our Lady of the Rosary but I must admit I prefer our title as `St Mary` sounds better to my ears than `Our Lady` for the title of a church as being more ancient.

We are having a mini-festival of events for Rosary Week however. On Saturday night we had a hugely enjoyable and successful ceilidh which many of our young parishioners attended. The proceeds went to support SPUC. Tomorrow night we have a concert of sacred music in church with the Sunderland Singers and on Friday the St John Singers will perform songs from the shows in the parish hall.
Maybe next year we`ll do something special liturgically too.

The picture for today I`ve borrowed from the ever-wonderful Hallowedground.

Recent Events No.1

At last I have found time to get back to writing up this blog. I have been away and busy in between. However it all started on September 24th. Many thanks for the birthday greetings. It was the day I was due to fly off on holiday with Frs Zielinski and Donaghue for a week in Tuscany. This holiday had been planned in August 2007. I don`t normally operate like this but when Frs Z and D asked me if I had plans for September 2008 I had to say I didn`t and so it was planned. However for quite a while now I have known that the director of the Schola Gregoriana of Northumbria, Ian Graham, was hoping to be appointed as a circuit judge somewhere in England. As luck would have it, after he learnt that he had been successful, he learnt that his swearing-in would be in London on September 24th. So it was arranged that I would change my plans for getting to Florence airport and catch up with the other two in Tuscany, arriving a few hours after them.

So I caught the London train. It was late. There had been a body on the line at Darlington but that was cleared by the time we got there but the train still managed to break down twice. It left me with 15 minutes to get from Kings Cross to Chancery Lane. The taxi driver told me that there had been an accident and traffic was slow. However I got there, with all my luggage, only five minutes late.

The swearing-in took place at the Royal Courts of Justice. Ian was vested in his judicial gear at Ede and Ravenscroft and set out to walk round the corner to the Courts, turning a few heads with his outfit as he did. The Lord Chief Justice duly appeared in an even more flamboyant outfit, heard the swearing-in and after this we went for lunch.

So farewell then Ian Graham...

Ian made a huge contribution to music for the TLM in the North East, mainly through founding the SGoN. When I first met Ian he was involved with the music at the Station Hotel Mass said by Dr Glover. I always knew that if he was organising the music for any event he could be relied on to do so in a professional way. Ian is intending to pay occasional return visits to Tyneside. Peter Locke has stepped into his shoes as Schola Director and took the reins for the first time at Longbenton on Sunday night where the congregation had rocketed to being 30 strong.

Here is His Honour Judge Graham after his swearing in. Note the gloves which are never worn but carried in the `non-dominant hand`.

Here`s one with me too:

I did get to Florence successfully and ended my birthday by being ripped off by a Comune di Firenze taxi driver who managed to make a 14 kilometer journey, which I was expecting to cost 50 Euros, cost 115 as he said the motorway was closed. Next time I`ll ask for a fixed price but it was 11pm when my flight arrived and I never thought I would have that kind of problem as it`s never happened to me before.

Best wishes to Ian in his new job.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Eucharistic Prayers for Children

I was quite pleased to see this item tonight. I have never liked the Eucharistic Prayers For Children although I always had a longing to try out the Latin version. More of this kind of thing please.

Still Here

Sorry for the lack of posts recently but I`ve been on holiday for a week and have been busy. I expect to write a few items on Monday. I`ve been trying to catch up on all I`ve missed in the last ten days or so. It takes quite a while to get through all those comments on Holy Smoke and articles on the NLM.