Thursday, November 27, 2008

A useful resource for priests

My good friend, Fr Mark Withoos, has produced a useful guide for priests seeking to learn the EF. He has a website which gives the tones for the prayers and readings for a priest who wants to celebrate a Missa Cantata. Even more useful perhaps is that these can be downloaded as a podcast. Go to the iTunes store and search on Missa Cantata and you`ll find the podcast there to you can subscribe. Any feed back will be most welcome.

UPDATE 1.12.08: I was looking at Orbis Catholicus just now with the pictures of Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos celebrating Pontifical Mass and I`m sure that is Fr Withoos himself (nearest the camera)!

Pluscarden Abbey

Further to the post on `Could it happen here?` I`ve had this information by Martin Gardner sent about Pluscarden which is worth knowing .

Just a point of interest regarding your comment on Pluscarden Abbey. I organised a Traditional Retreat there on behalf of our TLM community in Edinburgh, led by Fr Emerson FSSP. Fr Abbot and the community made us welcome and the sacristan was very assiduous in ensuring we had everything we required to celebrate Mass in the EF and all other devotions including Benediction.

Whilst on my personal annual retreat earlier this month Fr Abbot readily agreed we could return again next year and the guest-master, Br Gabriel, has already reserved both guesthouses (male and female) for our exclusive use for the weekend of 17th – 19th June 2009. (Place still available should you wish to join us).

The EF Mass at Durham University

I have had one report on last night`s Mass. Apparently over 70 attended and most of those were students. The Mass was a dialogue Low Mass but the celebrant, Fr Adrian Tomlinson from Sheffield, was not that sure of what to do as it was his first time saying the Mass without someone at his side to guide him through it. Thus there were a few mistakes. However practice makes perfect. In the sermon Father spoke of the loss of reverence that can occur in the OF and the need for it to be restored.
Overall it seems to have been a success. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Let`s hope it becomes a regular event although I wonder whether it will be so if Fr Tomlinson has to come from Sheffield every time for Mass.
Well done to those at Durham who have been asking for this Mass and to Fr Currer, the university chaplain, for making it possible.
I was at Morpeth for the monthly Mass which is not well attended despite having being going on for fourteen years by now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Annual Requiem

While I was in Edinburgh the LMS were having their annual Requiem at Westminster cathedral. The LMS have kindly sent me pictures which you may well have seen on other blogs but since I`ve been sent them, it seems a pity not to use them. There is a press release too.

Latin Mass Society Celebrates Its Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral

Father Antony Conlon, National Chaplain of the Latin Mass Society, celebrated a High Mass of Requiem in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 22 November for the repose of the souls of all deceased members and supporters of the LMS. Father Tim Finigan was Deacon and the Sub-deacon was Fr Patrick Hayward. Gordon Dimon of the LMS was MC.

A congregation of about 600 heard the men of the Cathedral Choir sing traditional plainchant.

For the first time in many years, the Mass was followed by the traditional ceremonies of Absolutions at the Catafalque. Many in the congregation said afterwards how pleased they were that this ceremony had been reinstated.

Before Mass, a wreath was laid by Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the LMS, and other LMS Committee members on the grave of Cardinal Heenan in the cathedral nave in thanksgiving for the Cardinal’s efforts to preserve the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Father Antony Conlon read prayers for the occasion.

John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS, said afterwards: “The LMS is grateful to Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the Cathedral Administrator, for his friendly help in organising our ceremonies. We feel that the Extraordinary Form now has a settled part to play in the life of Westminster Cathedral and we shall be putting some ideas regarding improved provision to Canon Tuckwell soon.”

Note: The Extraordinary Form has now returned to several of our cathedrals throughout England and Wales and the LMS is actively seeking to introduce further Masses.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

First Day

Today I acquired a new nephew, Louis. Here he is on his first day in the world. Congratulations to Jon and Sharon and to his brother Vincent. Ad multos annos.

The Extraordinary Form at Durham University

Durham University is a place where many people who failed to get a place at Oxford or Cambridge often study. Catholic life at Durham is somewhat more restricted than at those other two universities however: whereas Oxford and Cambridge have houses of religious, Durham has two Catholic parish priests one of whom is also university chaplain. It always struck me as a pity that no Catholic religious congregation of men had made a foundation at Durham. I`m sure an Oratory would do well there as it has at St Aloysius at Oxford.
About five to eight years ago I celebrated a couple of Masses for university students in the castle chapel in the Extraordinary Form. One in particular lives on in the memory as a student choir not only sang a Byrd setting of the Ordinary but also of the Propers as well. Even I thought, that while it was interesting to hear this done, it was a bit too much. Attempts by that group of students to get permission for a regular Mass, by which they hoped for once a term, were refused by the bishop of the time.
Since Summorum Pontificum a group in the university has been trying to get a Mass organised. This has taken a long time but this Wednesday night, the chaplain has invited a priest from the diocese of Hallam to celebrate an EF Mass. At this point I don`t know if it is to be a Low or Sung Mass. I would like to be there but I have my monthly Mass at Morpeth that night.
Having a priest from Hallam to say the Mass reminds me of how it was sometimes the rule before the Motu Proprio that a bishop would not let a Mass in the EF be said by a priest from outside the diocese. Presumably such rules can no longer apply.
I hope the Mass is well-attended. I`m sure Durham would be fertile ground for the EF if it is allowed to get under way. I hope that this will become a regular feature of university life as it is, after all, part of the Catholic mainstream now. I`m still praying we get a bishop who sees it that way!
UPDATE: The Mass will be at St Cuthbert`s church at 7pm (NOT 7.30 as advertised on the local LMS bulletin)

Could it happen here?

I`m sure you will have seen the news about the German abbey of Mariawald, Germany`s only Cistercian abbey, which has decided to take advantage of Summorum Pontificum to return to the traditional Mass and way of life. I found this story encouraging. I wonder if it could happen in the UK? There seems to be some interest in the EF in Benedictine houses in England. Maybe this example will encourage others to follow suit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Una Voce Scotland Annual Requiem

I was delighted to be asked to be subdeacon at the Annual Requiem for Una Voce Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday. The Mass took place in St Andrew`s, Ravelston, where Fr Emerson of the FSSP celebrates a Sunday Mass. Here is a picture taken by Sheila Webster. As you will notice we were rather short of altar servers but still managed. Mgr Boyle was the celebrant and Fr Emerson the deacon. It was good to see Fred and David again from the Scottish Gregorian Group.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bowing the head

As Augustinus points out in a comment on the last post, bishop Roche`s statement today does not just mention the Hebrew Tetragrammaton for the Divine Name. It goes on to speak about a Catholic practice that is largely falling out of use. Here is the passage:
It is part of our Catholic tradition that we offer reverence not just with the words on our lips but through actions such as a bow of the head. This bow is made whenever the Holy Trinity are named together, for example, in a doxology, and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honour Mass is being celebrated. Though the document from the Holy See is concerned with language and translation it provides an opportunity to remind ourselves of the reverence owed to the name of God both in worship and in daily life

Through all my time in seminary I used to bow my head at the names of the Trinity in the doxology. I expect that that probably gave me another black mark. This and the rubric to bow the head at the Name of Jesus, Mary or the Saint of the day was rubric 234 of General Instruction of the Roman Missal of 1969. I`m sure it is in the revised instruction too. Good to see it mentioned again by the English bishops. I`ll draw attention to it in the parish bulletin this weekend.

The Hebrew Tetragrammaton again

The bishops of England and Wales have now issued a statement, picking up on the Vatican directive that the use of the Hebrew Divine Name is not allowed in Catholic worship, as it is not part of our tradition and using it as has been the fashion is offensive to the Jews. Let`s hope the message gets through. A friend of mine approached his parish priest about this a couple of months ago and the poor priest said he`d never heard of any instruction about this. It should now get into the diocesan Ad Clerums and have an effect. So it`s goodbye to few a hymns I`ll not be sorry to see go unless they update them to be politically correct as they have done with so many hymns where the words man or men appear. I just got a sample of such a new hymn book today through the post. Looks as if the publishers will be producing yet more new additions to take this change on board.

For the full statement by bishop Roche click here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Latin Mass Society Confirmations

I have received these pictures today from the LMS of the recent confirmations in London.

There is also a press release:


For Immediate Release

17 November 2008

* The lights went out but the ceremonies went on!
* Westminster bishop confers Traditional Rite confirmations

A power cut at St James’ Church, Spanish Place, London threatened to ruin the day for 45 eager Confirmation candidates at the Latin Mass Society’s annual Confirmation ceremony in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Rite) last Saturday, 15 November. However, Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, and the children and congregation coped with the difficult conditions and the ceremonies proceeded in the darkened church with the help of many candles!

Bishop Stack administered Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form at the request of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. 45 candidates received the sacrament – 40 children and 5 adults. This was the fifth year of the annual ceremony.

The day began with a ‘get to know you’ meeting in the Lady Chapel between the bishop and candidates. The ceremonies followed with an address from Bishop George in which he spoke of Grace as a gift of God, freely given and inviting our response. In Confirmation we open ourselves to God and strengthen ourselves to go forward in faith.

With no electricity to power the organ or light the choir loft, the choir had to move to the nave and were accompanied on piano. A large congregation of over 500 family and friends joined the choir in singing the Veni Creator Spiritus and other traditional hymns. During the anointing, the choir sang polyphony and plain chant. After the confirmations, Bishop Stack conferred Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and led the congregation in the Divine Praises.

Because of the power cut, the usual reception for the bishop and congregation in the crypt had to be abandoned. Instead, Bishop Stack met and chatted with the newly-confirmed and their families on the church steps.

John Medlin, General Manager of the Latin Mass Society, said, “Despite the unfortunate circumstances, everyone was greatly edified by the occasion. The LMS is grateful to Cardinal Cormac and Bishop George for their pastoral concern for those attached to the Extraordinary Form.”

. . . . ENDS . . . .

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or James Murphy, LMS Office Manager, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

Scottish Gregorian Group

This blog is falling behind somewhat. Last week was very busy indeed with three funerals in three days, two of which were Requiem Masses, one of which was for a forty-two year old mother of three, Helen, who had a rare cancer.

However, on the weekend of November 7th-9th, as mentioned earlier, St Mary`s hosted a Gregorian chant study weekend led by the Scottish Gregorian Group. Many thanks to Alan, Fred, David and Bruce for all their work. Posters had been sent by email to all parishes in the diocese by the chancellor. Twenty people had expressed interest and asked for an application form but in the event about ten came, some of whom have been long involved in the Latin Mass.

After an introductory meeting on Friday night the evening closed with Compline in the church. next morning began with a Missa Cantata in the EF which ended with a Cistercian solemn Salve. The afternoon was spent learning the music for First Vespers for the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica which was sung at 4.30pm. Alan had prepared beautifully produced booklets for the services we had. Vespers and Compline were sung following the monastic use so I had to pretend to be a Benedictine and stand for the Gloria Patri`s etc.

The next morning the 10.30 Mass was the Remembrance Sunday Mass so the ordinary, the Introit, Dies Irae, Offertory Antiphon and communion Antiphon were sung by the schola. We also had a cantor for the responsorial psalm ( The Lord`s my Shepherd) and included a couple of hymns. That was the most chant we have ever had on a `Chant Sunday` and I was nervous that it might be too much but I think everyone understood it was a special occasion.

The SGG then did a quick flit over the Tyne to St Joseph`s, Gateshead where they sang the EF Mass for the Lateran Basilica feast. I got there half-way through and sat at the back. The parish priest, (and diocesan liturgist) was the celebrant. Unfortunately it was hard to concentrate on the Mass because of a large party waiting for a baptism at 1pm who were talking loudly but the Mass was beautiful. I enjoy attending the EF almost as much as saying it.

So many thanks to the SGG. I hope they may have planted some seeds to give other people a love of Gregorian Chant.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


On Saturday morning I found my internet connection was down. This afternoon it has been re-connected. It has been strange not having the internet and frustrating waiting for a phone call all day yesterday from BT which never came. However all appears to be well again and I`m trying to catch up with what I`ve missed.
Especially interesting is the news from Rome about Holy Days and the EF. At the Longbenton Mass on November 2nd I said the Mass of All Saints as that is what I thought we were meant to do even though I`d said the EF Mass for All Saints on November 1st. Now from what I read it seems that this may not be necessary as it is only judged `appropriate` to celebrate the feast as an` external solemnity` on the Sunday and not necessary.
This is good news but makes one wonder about how the decision was presented to us in the first place.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

John Grundy at Seaton Delaval Hall

A minor theme on this blog has been local architecture. In fact I reached the peak of my blogging career when I was asked to write a piece for the BBC website after writing an item about the notorious Gateshead carpark and why I thought it should be demolished.

Last night I went to the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead to listen to John Grundy talk on the theme of `Architecture and the Media` which was an account of how he moved from being an English teacher to working for the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission (English Heritage) on the National Re-survey of Listed Buildings in the 1980`s, before becoming a broadcaster on local television making very enjoyable programmes on places of local interest. The talk was very entertaining and the hour flew by.

Since moving to North Tyneside I have developed an obsession with Seaton Delaval Hall whose future is up in the air at the moment. Here is John talking about the interior in this YouTube extract. The Hall has no Catholic associations but I always find it hard to separate the baroque and Catholicism in my mind.

Unfortunately the recent changes at ITV have meant that Tyne-Tees Television will be almost entirely devoted to only news programmes and so we will not be seeing anymore of John Grundy`s wonderful programmes for the short-term.

SSPX at Lourdes: statistics

For those who may be interested in numbers I found this on the Angelqueen site:

The SSPX brought 18,000 pilgrims, from France and all over the world, 163 religious, 275 priests and seminarians, and the four SSPX bishops. Of great significance for the future was the behaviour of the authorities at Lourdes. The Bishop of Lourdes, Mgr Perrier, placed all the infrastructures of the Sanctuary at the disposition of the SSPX, with the proviso that none of their masses would be celebrated by the four bishops.
It certainly looked as if there were a lot of them. I thought it was good for my fellow diocesan clergy who may think interest in the EF is limited to a small and elderly group to witness the strength and youth of this movement at least in France.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Minimus begins

I`m glad to say that the Minimus course started today at St Mary`s Primary School. Fourteen children had signed up but only ten could be there as the others had a music class. The others intend to come next week. However I called in to see how things were going and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. I forgot to ask the children if they had been to Vindolanda but most primary school children around here have a trip at some stage. If they do go again they will be very informed about the lives of Flavius and Lepidina. I took some pictures but as we are not allowed to put pictures of children on the net without their parents` consent, which I didn`t have, I can only show you this picture of Dorothy dressed as Minimus! Dorothy was assisted by Margaret. Both are retired teachers and so more than qualified to take the class. Macti virtute!

Lourdes 2

We arrived in Lourdes late on Saturday night. When we woke the next morning and made our way to Mass it was impossible not to notice the SSPX were in town. There were men in cassocks everywhere as well as their more exotic Franciscans and Dominicans with full tonsures. On the way back from Mass we spotted them in procession and so I took a few pictures. The thought that went through my head was `C`est magnifique mais ce n`est pas la guerre`. I encouraged our group to pray that there will be a reconciliation soon between the SSPX and the Holy See.

I knew that a couple of priests from our diocese were out in Lourdes and we were hoping to meet up to go for a drink. I caught sight of them at the Sunday night Rosary procession but they didn`t spot me. We did bump into one another the next day. However Fr Swales had caught sight of them the previous day in the SSPX Blessed Sacrament procession! They were looking for us and thought that might be where we`d be. I don`t think they were very clear about the irregular status of the SSPX but they enjoyed Vespers and Benediction. Fr Swales and myself had meanwhile joined the official procession: the one with a host the size of a dinner plate.

Also in the procession was a large group from the Camargue in South East France. Their participation is unique in that they have a horse-back section: the only people allowed to process on horses at Lourdes. I took some pictures. The costumes were interesting and the women looked as if they had stepped out of the chorus of a production of Carmen. The horses went in front of the Blessed Sacrament which made some difficulties for those of us following. Do I need to go into detail? It was hard to imagine something like this happening anywhere in England. Could people from the South East of England dress up and process in their local costumes for any event? What would the English wear?

The SSPX had had the use of the underground basilica. On the Monday morning while lining up for our official photo some of our group spotted another EF Pontifical High Mass in the Rosary basilica. We spotted the blue biretta pom-poms of the Institute of Christ the King among the clergy in choir. Apparently this was a pilgrimage by the Domus Christiana ( if I`ve got the name right: I can`t find them on Google) which is a group promoting Catholic family life. We couldn`t find out who the bishop was.

We had hoped to have the EF mass at the grotto during our stay. Our organiser had even been in touch with the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome who had sent a fax to the Rector of the Shrine regarding our request. I don`t know how it works but I imagine that at the grotto there is Mass in a different vernacular at fixed times and groups are invited to attend OF Mass in their own language and priests to concelebrate. However we did find that the grotto was free for Mass at 6am on the Wednesday. We would have been no trouble as we had all our own gear but we were told that the EF Mass could not be allowed at the grotto. This was a great shame as we had had no trouble anywhere else. I heard a rumour that the SSPX are allowed to have Mass at the grotto but I didn`t see that in our time there and can`t confirm it but that would be a strange irony indeed. Let`s hope that this situation can be sorted out soon.


The EF Mass on the first Sunday of the month continues at Longbenton and I am glad to say that so far it has always been a sung Mass. After this last Mass I was delighted when a parishioner who, I think she won`t mind me saying, has no special interest in Latin and may not have sought out a Latin Mass if it hadn`t been said by the parish priest told me:

`I didn't want the Mass to end tonight as I felt so at peace and I find it so much easier to converse with God without all the distractions of the ordinary daily Mass`

I don`t think I have been very effective in conveying my enthusiasm for the EF to my parishes. I think many think it is all about Latin whereas, as the above comment shows, it is about having time to pray and find room for inner participation as well as external. I wish a few more would approach it with an open mind. I have to say of those who do attend from the parish it tends to be the younger parishioners, who don`t have the historical baggage, who come.

Another bonus on Sunday night was that I finally got to meet Madame Evangelista! You can read her impressions here (where she is very generous about my sermon).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Lourdes 1

At last I am a real Catholic: I have been to Lourdes! I was very grateful to the LMS for asking me to fill in as a chaplain to the Northern pilgrimage after Fr Hudson ( of the Institute of Christ the King) had found that he couldn`t make it. Fr Swales was the other chaplain with me and I learnt a lot from his previous knowledge of how things are done at Lourdes.

Masses had been arranged for everyday in the EF. There was to be one public Mass each day with sermon and the other priest would say a private Mass which people were free to attend too. Fortunately most of our chapels were booked for two hours so that allowed us to say one Mass after the other.

We had Mass on Sunday in St Michael`s chapel, Monday in St Ann`s, Tuesday in St Gabriel`s and Wednesday at the delightful church at Bartrès. On the last morning we had Mass in the hotel bar at 6 am!

Our group was quite diverse. the youngest pilgrim was Teresa who was fourteen months old (with her parents who had only become Catholics a couple of years ago) and the eldest was Anna who at 94 was sprightly and full of fun. Anna had been on the 1929 Hexham and Newcastle diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes! In all we had 38 pilgrims in the group and most were from the North-West. Many attend the Masses said by Fr Hudson in that part of the world. Conversation often included accounts of liturgical horrors. The one that sticks with me was the account of the parish priest who changes the words of the Mass so that people are to say before Communion `Lord I am worthy` rather than the normal response. However I believe he has given up on that experiment now. Another was the priest who felt that the large outdoor crucifix in front of the church needed repair and wondered whether something else could be put there instead of the crucifix. He had been heard to remark about the crucifix that the figure wasn`t even smiling!

Here are some photos. Our Masses were all Low Masses as while, as chaplains, we had taken many things for the celebration of Mass (missal, vestments, altar cards, chalice, ciborium, Communion plate) including a thurible and acolyte candlesticks was more than we could manage. However we had a hymn before and after Mass and at Bartrès the congregation sang the ordinary to the Missa de Angelis.

Here I am celebrating the Sunday Mass in St Michael`s chapel.

I was particularly pleased to get this photo during Fr Swales` Mass as it demonstrates an aspect of Catholic life on the continent that has always fascinated me. Why is it that whenever I attend a Mass there is always someone who decides to stand for the whole thing and blocks the view of the priest? Do these people never think that there might be anyone behind trying to see? It happens all the time and even during the consecration.

This is a very indistinct picture of Fr Swales celebrating Mass at Bartrès, taken with my mobile phone.

There will be a full report in the next issue of the LMS magazine, with, I`m sure, better pictures. Many thanks go to Ann Archer for organising the whole pilgrimage