Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cardinal Merry del Val

A while ago I had a post about famous sons of Ushaw. The one who has achieved the highest office in the Church was Merry del Val who became Secretary of State at the Vatican under St Pius X.

I have received this item about a new collection of his spiritual writings. Here are the details.

Spiritual Writings

Cardinal Merry del Val

Edited and translated by Harriet Murphy

Raphael, Cardinal Merry del Val, Secretary of State to Pope St.Pius X from 1903 to 1914, was born in the Spanish Embassy in London in 1865, the son of a distinguished Spanish diplomat of Irish origin and English mother. Educated by the Jesuits, he was to become a priest after a brilliant period of study, first in England then in Rome. Jealousy long supposed he owed the prodigious rise of his career to a privilege of birth, the truth is very different - far from seeking honours he only ever wished to be an ordinary priest - however, from an aristocratic background and speaking many languages, the Vatican had great duties for him. He died in Rome in 1930 and is buried in St.Peter's Basilica. This collection of his work includes sermons, prayers, writings on the Saints, Sacraments and Mary, addresses to conferences and letters of spiritual direction.
978 085244 122 0 242 pages £9.99

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The work of parish priests is essential

I will get back to proper posting soon but this caught my eye today. Nice to see something being said about parish priests!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: to follow Peter is a High Duty

I`ne been off-line since Saturday night but got sorted out today. Here`s something to be going on with.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wise Words

Thanks to Fr Ray Blake, in the light of the hostility of a small group of Fr Tim Finigan`s parishioners to the EF, for reminding us of this saying which is generally true of parish priests of whatever stripe.
"10% love you, 10% hate you, and the other 80% don't care much, so long as you are there when they need you."
It certainly rings true in my experience.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good news from The Universe!

It is many years since I read the Catholic weekly, The Universe. I got fed it up with its overall blandness amongst other things. Don`t tell the Tablet, but it appears that even the dear old Universe has caught up with the modern Church and I hear that soon they are going to have from early in Lent a weekly page devoted to Extraordinary Form affairs! Who knows it may encourage the formation of many more Blackfens throughout the country.

Good news from the Tablet!

Poor Fr Tim Finigan has been meted out the full treatment from the Tablet where this week there is an article attacking him for the temerity to follow Summorum Pontificum. Click here for the article and Father`s comments. In his parish, Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, there are four Masses every week at which one can fulfil the Sunday obligation. A reasonable person would have thought that given that three of the Masses are in the OF that would provide sufficient choice for anyone who feels the need to avoid the EF Mass. But the enemies of tradition cannot rest until it is completely removed.

Why is Blackfen so newsworthy? Why did the Tablet not visit Hexham and Newcastle? Here we have four parishes which include the EF Mass as one of the regular Sunday Masses. One of these is said in my old parish, St Joseph`s, Gateshead by the diocesan liturgist, Fr Dixon. Another by the Dominicans in Newcastle. Are these parishes torn apart? There are at least another three parishes I can think of in Southwark that have the EF as one of the regular Sunday Masses

Why can people not be more tolerant? If they don`t have to go to the EF why not let those who want it and who don`t find `liturgical dance` or such like to their taste get on with their spiritual lives?

And what is the good news from the Tablet? It normally makes me moderately to very angry every week. However the article about Blackfen cheered me up as it concludes with the words: And there could be many more Blackfens in the future. I can hardly wait!

Comments on Brown

I seem to have done something to the HTML when including the Brown Youtube video that has made the comments disappear. Here they are again.

Brown meets Pope Benedict

No, not this Fr Brown but our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. We are saying the FSSP Novena (mentioned below) for the Pope this week after Mass so he is in our thoughts. In fact the last words I ever said to bishop Kevin Dunn, the last time I saw him, was to say that every morning I wake up (I`m getting to an age when I am glad I do wake up) I thank God for Pope Benedict.

However the Vatican Information Service has this to say about today`s meeting:

"This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Gordon Brown, prime minister of the United Kingdom who, along with the other members of his entourage, then met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

"The cordial conversations dealt with the present global economic crisis and the duty to pursue initiatives benefiting the less-developed countries, and to foster co-operation on projects of human promotion, respect for the environment and sustainable development. Hope was expressed for a renewed commitment on the part of the international community in settling ongoing conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. Finally, several bilateral themes were brought up, of interest above all for the Catholic community in the United Kingdom".

It is the last bit that interests me. I wonder what the bilateral themes....of interest to the Catholics of the United Kingdom could be? Could the appointment of the new archbishop of Westminster have been a bilateral theme? According to The Times it was. I see Gordon Brown also invited the Pope to visit Britain. That could be interesting. It`s a different world to 1982.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goodbye Valentine, hello Raphael?

I`m surprised that no-one seems to have picked up on the suggestion from the Catholic Enquiry Office that those looking for a patron saint of romance should forget St Valentine and instead invoke the angel, St Raphael. The story featured on the BBC news website yesterday. Certainly there is far more comic potential with Raphael.

For those who may have forgotten the story as it occurs in the book of Tobit, Tobias is led to Sarah by the archangel Raphael. Sarah has been married seven times before but all her previous husbands died on the wedding night, killed by the devil Asmodeus. Sarah makes her prayer to God and so God sends Raphael who brings Tobias along. They marry and Raphael deals with Asmodeus so the couple live happily ever after.

One website has this to say about the book of Tobit:

The message of the book is that God is both just and free. Suffering is not a punishment but a test. God in the long run does reward the just and punish the wicked. The believer is called upon to trust God and live his way. The book is rich in principle, and presents the value of prayer in our daily lives, angelic intercession, reward of good works, parental respect, and the importance of prayer, fasting, and especially almsgiving in expiation of sin (12:9).

I think the Catholic Enquiry office may have a point especially as Valentine has been removed from the calendar of the Ordinary Form and hangs on by the skin of his teeth as a commemoration in the Extraordinary Form in its 1962 incarnation.

However it does seem odd to me that in an age when the Church talks about inculturation that it has chosen to ignore Valentine`s Day, a major secular event, but based on a Christian saint and chooses instead to celebrate as a feast, in Europe at least, those two worthy gentleman Cyril and Methodius.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Novena in support of Pope Benedict from the Fraternity of St Peter

For immediate public release:

Reading, England, February 13th, 2009: Novena for Pope Benedict

Sub + Petro

Dear Friends,
You are all well aware of the opposition which the Holy Father has faced in his efforts to reconcile the Society of Pius X. The current pressure from the media and others seems to not only threaten Pope Benedict’s work with SSPX. It also seems as though some would like to see it work as a means to undermine his very teaching and governing authority for his pontificate.

Given these oppositions which the Holy Father faces; given the particular role of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in encouraging the return of those who have distanced themselves from the hierarchy of the Church in the last forty years; finally, given that we hold St. Peter as our patron and have a particular attachment to his successor, as also requested by our Superior General Very Rev Fr John Berg, FSSP, I would like to invite you all to join the following NOVENA at the intention of our dear Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

The novena, which will be prayed as well by all our 350 seminarians and priests, will begin tomorrow on February 14th and conclude Sunday week, on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, February 22nd.

Cordially yours in St Peter,

Fr. Armand de Malleray, FSSP
Pater Noster, 3 Ave Maria, Gloria Patri

V. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Benedícto.
R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum eius..
V. Tu es Petrus.
R. Et super hanc petram ædificábo Ecclésiam meam.

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto : et dírige eum secúndum tuam cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ : ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat, et tota virtúte perfíciat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen.

Mater Ecclésiæ, ora pro nobis
Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be.

V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.
R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

V. Thou art Peter,
R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.

Let us Pray,
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. ThroughChrist Our Lord.

V. Mother of the Church. R. Pray for us
V. St. Peter. R. Pray for us

Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP
Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England
179 Elgar Rd, RG2 0DH, Reading, Berkshire, UK

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Petition to support Pope Benedict

In the light of the backlash against Pope Benedict for lifting the excommunications on the SSPX 4 there is an on-line petition to support the Holy Father. Normally I`m sceptical as to the value of these things but this one is signed by a few French bishops and two superior generals among others and so far has 38,000 signatures. You can find it here. Hat-tip to Valle Adurni and the NLM.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bishop Williamson

Apparently it was all because he is cross at Marks and Spencer`s! If you haven`t seen The Daily Mail`s surprising take on the whole thing read it here.

Friday, February 06, 2009

On Call

One of the duties of being a parish priest in my present parish, and the last, was to take a turn with the hospital `bleep` for night calls to give the regular chaplain a break. Well that`s the simple explanation of what we do except that towards the end of my time in Gateshead the shortage of priests meant there was no longer a curate in the deanery who had the job of hospital chaplain and so a permanent deacon was employed which meant that when a priest`s turn for the bleep came he was on call 24 hours a day for that week. As things turned out we took turns every six or so weeks. This was sometimes difficult to combine with my work in Newcastle on the diocesan tribunal where I would sometimes sit down to interview a petitioner or possibly angry respondent only to get a call to go to the hospital. However I moved across the Tyne and into the larger set-up of Newcastle. While there are three major hospitals to cover we are fortunate in that there is a full-time priest chaplain and with there being more parishes, the turn only comes around every six months. We are only on duty from 8pm-8am although we also do all-day Tuesday and Wednesdays to give the hard-working chaplain a break.
This week I have the bleep. It has been a busy week so far. Last night it went off at 1.15 am (as it had two nights previously). I was so glad that we haven`t had the snow the other parts of the country have had as that would make things more difficult. Off I went to an intensive care ward not knowing what exactly I would find. There was a young man of about 20 years of age with his parents by the bed-side. He was dying of cancer and was not expected to survive until morning. The family are from about 30 miles from the hospital. So I gave absolution and the plenary indulgence for the moment of death and did the anointings of the sacrament of the sick. The whole thing was intensely moving.
I came back on duty at 8pm tonight and as the pips for the 8 o`clock news went on the radio, the bleep went off again. This time it was for the delivery unit of the maternity ward. When I got there I found a twenty-two week baby who had died in the womb. I once had been called out to baptise a baby of that age. He was taken out of the fridge in a little tray made to look like a bed, a tiny but perfectly-formed child. Again this was a very moving experience. The parents weren`t there but I said prayers and blessed him. I also said a prayer for those who think it is ok to tear apart such a child in the womb that their eyes may one day be opened.
So not long until Sunday before I hand over the bleep. While these last two experiences have been powerful, I`m hoping I get a full-night`s sleep tonight!

The North East of England: still here!

Readers of Mass of Ages, the Latin Mass Society`s quarterly magazine, might be forgiven for thinking that the North East of England, and more specifically the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle has fallen off the map. Once again we had no report on the activities of the Latin Mass Society in this diocese in the magazine which I received today. Rest assured we are still here. We had better be if the next LMS training course is going to take place at Ushaw. Not sure what the technical problem was but I hope we may have a report in the next issue.
P.S. Please ignore the Teeside bit on the map above: it`s not ours.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bishop Lindsay and the snow

Yesterday I left the car behind and got the Metro into Newcastle for bishop Lindsay`s funeral. The snow had stopped quite a number of bishops from attending, including the cardinal, so the main celebrant was bishop Ambrose Griffiths. I won`t say anything about the music or anything like that but I enjoyed Fr Butters` sermon. Fr Butters had been with bishop Lindsay when he died. He painted a picture of a man who knew his weaknesses. One point stays with me. Once a bishop is retired he can speak but not vote at the meetings of the bishops` conference. Bishop Lindsay was said to have remarked that in his case he imagined the bishops wished it was the other way round!
The snow reminded me of the most significant day I had with bishop Lindsay, my ordination on November 19th 1988 when once again we had a day of snow. (The snow has vanished from Newcastle today, despite what the weather forecast had to say.) I must transfer the ordination video to DVD. I didn`t follow the sermon on the day and haven`t really digested it yet. All I remember was that it began with a story about a man in Jarrow who had a dog called Steve Cram.
May he rest in peace.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Weekend Break

It was hard to keep up with all the incredible developments last week. First there was the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops which was quite a surprise. Excommunication is a `medicinal` penalty designed to stop the offender doing whatever he was doing and come back to the straight and narrow. The SSPX bishops have carried on doing exactly what they intended to do in 1988 so why was the penalty revoked? Well the Pope is the Supreme Legislator and if he, in a particular case, decides that it is right to lift the penalty then that is perfectly in accord with the law. The result has been an increase of good will towards the Holy See by the SSPX so that we have news of bishop Fellay saying that he can accept Vatican II and the unexpected development of bishop Williamson apologising to the Holy See. Neither of these were things I ever expected to see. When I saw bishop Fellay in Gateshead last year, issuing his normal criticisms of the Vatican then I thought this was not a man who would ever submit to the Holy See. Bishop Williamson`s long-standing attacks on the `Romans` never led me to believe that he could apologise to the Holy Father for the embarrassment his stupid comments caused.
Then there was the story of the 400,000 ex-Anglicans who may be accepted into the Catholic Church in some corporate move, preserving their Anglican ethos as far as that is possible. This may have important ramifications for England. I have never found Christian Unity week to be so interesting. Normally it is a time for empty platitudes. After all it as the Church of England that put paid to any hopes of re-union by the unilateral decision to go ahead with the ordination of women. It was the Anglicans who thought that ecumenism was not that important. Ever since then the whole thing has been rather pointless but this initiative may lead the way for more Anglicans to seek re-union with the Holy See.
The appointment of a new Patriarch in Moscow brings with it the prospect of closer union and maybe even full communion.
I can hardly begin to wonder what this week will bring? After all some people are forecasting Tuesday as the day for a formal reconciliation of the SSPX with the Holy See. Maybe we will finally get a new archbishop of Westminster and he will be a surprise rather than being one of the usual suspects.