Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fortiter defendit triumphans?

Well maybe not!
( It didn`t really apply in 1644 either.)

Catholic Allah

On the other hand you may have seen the story on the BBC news site today about a court case in Malaysia regarding the use of `Allah` for God by the Catholic Church in that country. Muslims are bringing a case as they say that it is their word for God and can`t be used by anyone else. The problem is that it is the national word for `God`. It will be interesting to see how the case goes. Nice to see the preface being sung in the OF.

Visitors to Malta will know that in Maltese `Allah` is also the word for God and it did strike me as unusual when hearing that name used during Mass in the cathedral.


I see there is some trouble with Cafod reported in the Telegraph regarding its national director living free of charge in an MP`s second house. Nearer to home I have been puzzled by the forthcoming Cafod pilgrimage to Holy Island on June 13th. The excitement regards the involvement of Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman of the Yanomami índios in Brazil. Davi will be leading the `liturgy at key points along the way with reflections from his own tradition, focussing on how we live in harmony with God's creation.`

Now I know that Vatican II said we could find evidence of the Holy Spirit acting outside of the Church in all those who seek what is good and true but I am still puzzled how a Catholic pilgrimage will have its liturgy lead by a pagan priest. What would St Aidan have said, let alone St Wilfrid?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ascension Thursday

Just to say, as I was too late for the LMS listings and I even failed to get it in the St Mary`s newsletter this week, there will be a Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Ascension tomorrow night at SS Peter and Paul`s Longbenton. This will be at 7pm and will be a Low Mass.
The obligation for the Ascension has of course been moved by the bishops to following Sunday.
A Mass for Corpus Christi, in the Extraordinary Form, will take place on Thursday 11th June at 12 noon at St Mary`s Forest Hall.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Good Priest

Today the Canon Law Society`s newsletter arrived in the post. I had a quick glance through it after Mass. In an article by Fr Jerry Pokorsky of the diocese of Arlington in the USA about the financial administration of parishes I came across this which I liked:

As parishes expand [this bit doesn`t apply here!] and the number of priests decline, there is a great temptation to downplay the priest`s sacramental role and to accept his managerial functions [except that in some places some laity want to take on the managerial and sacramental roles, so what is a priest meant to be then?]. Instead of defining himself as the primary teacher of the faith and mediator of Christ in the celebration of the sacraments, he defines himself as the "enabler in lay ministry" [ This was the vision of the priesthood I remember being given at Ushaw by a now senior cleric back in the 1980`s!]. Instead of preparing parishioners for the sacraments (conducting baptism classes, marriage preparation etc) and visiting sick, he organises teams of "lay ministers" for the jobs.
Hence, the definition of a "good priest" is a man who knows how to delegate his sacramental duties to the laity and is a great administrator and fundraiser. Conversely, the definition of a "good Catholic" narrows to include only those who "do ministry" rather than those who bring Christ to their homes and workplaces as virtuous parents and employees. But anyone who has studied the documents of the Second Vatican Council realizes that this is exactly the opposite of the Church`s intention. It is critical to the mission of the Church not to disassociate priestly ministry from a priest`s personal administering of the sacraments.
Three cheers. This explains why I always feel to say the least uneasy when we hear that "lay ministry" is to be promoted. Minor orders would be fine but that isn`t what is usually meant. I am quite happy to recruit lay people to help with sacramental preparation and believe it is particularly useful when dealing with marriage but I believe that the priest must be involved too and guide the whole process. There is always a somewhat neglected Vatican document On Certain Questions Regarding The Collaboration Of The Non-Ordained Faithful In The Sacred Ministry Of The Priest of 1997.

Blogger`s Block

Ok I`ll finally admit it: inspiration seems to have dried up. Not that there`s plenty happening but unlike some blogs I don`t aim to cover every new story in the Catholic world. If it`s on a couple of other blogs I don`t see any point me reporting it too unless I have a particular insight that I think may be useful.
One thing that has been going around in my head is the notion that `you have to be comfortable to pray`. I keep asking myself about this. It`s because a priest friend of mine told me he had visited another priest who had just moved into his new appointment and had had major work done to the house and a new set of carpets. It is not unusual for a priest when he inherits a new presbytery to have it decorated. I did it here. Pope Benedict had major work done to his apartments before moving in. We all like to make a place our own. I`d like to do more to the church too but that is much more difficult. I have many ideas for making St Mary`s look more like a place to pray in than a school hall but some people like the school hall look and was it was all just completed a few years before I got here at great expense.
However what intrigued me was that my friend was told by his colleague that `You have to be comfortable to pray`. Interesting. I thought that it is often when we are uncomfortable when we pray most urgently. There are no atheists in fox holes etc. What would John the Baptist have made of this statement? or St Anthony of Egypt? Or St John Vianney? Etc, etc... I suppose this is the thinking behind the carpeting of our churches to make them look as comfortable as possible. While I`m not saying that being uncomfortable is good thing in itself, the attitude that our religion should not stretch us or challenge us is, I think, part of the reason for the falling away from the faith of so many. If religion makes demands and we rise to those demands because we believe it to be true it will have deeper roots. The religions that are on the rise today are those which make demands of their followers and claim to be true.
Maybe I should get back to having bloggers` block.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Priests` Retreat

Today I received an email with information about a retreat for priests `to celebrate the Year of the priesthood with St John Mary Vianney, Curé of Ars`. The theme is `The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our priestly identification to Christ.` It starts on Monday 13th July 2009, 3pm and ends at 12 noon Thursday 16th July 2009. It is organised by Fr de Malleray of the FSSP and priests will be able to celebrate their Masses in the Extraordinary Form.

This blog has been rather quiet since the Ushaw meeting which had a profound affect on me and, I know, on others. This looks like a good event to follow on from that conference although this is purely a retreat and not a training session for the Extraordinary Form.

Any priests interested in going can book by sending a £15 cheque made payable to ‘FSSP England’ to : Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, 179 Elgar Rd, RG2 0DH, Reading, Berkshire, UK.
The full cost is £107 - to cover:

1-Accommodation: single room with en-suite bathroom, full board: £92, full board, including VAT.
2-Retreat Master’s expenses: £15.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Year of the Priesthood: Rome conference for English-speaking clergy

At the Ushaw Conference I announced that there would be conference for English-speaking priests in Rome in January to celebrate the forthcoming `Year of the Priesthood`. There was quite a lot of interest from priests at the conference. Today the official announcement has been made and the details can be found on conference website. Here is the press release:

8 May 2009 – On this 223rd birthday of St. John Baptiste-Marie Vianney, patron of parish priests, the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the (American) Confraternity of Catholic Clergy announce a joint conference of their two associations for a special seminar in Rome, January 4 – 8, 2010. This historic combined meeting of priests and deacons is in response to the Holy Father’s designation of 2010 as the Year for Priests and invoking the patronage of the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney. Both groups were established to foster and promote ongoing formation (spiritual, theological, pastoral and human) of the clergy in a fraternal setting, which was called for by the Second Vatican Council and highly encouraged in Canon Law. One facet is an annual national gathering whereby lectures and conference talks are given by reputable speakers known for their orthodoxy and loyalty to the Magisterium. The 2010 meeting in the Eternal City is the first joint assembly for both confraternities and will be conveniently located near the Vatican at the Casa Pastor Bonus. Any and all Catholic priests and deacons from any English speaking country of the world are cordially invited even if not a member of either the A.C.C.C. or C.C.C. National Chairman, Rev. Michael Kennedy, PP, (Australia) and President, Rev. John Trigilio, Jr, PhD, (U.S.A.) enthusiastically urge their members to honor Pope Benedict’s Year for Priests by coming to Rome in January 2010 to spend time in prayer, study, and sacerdotal fraternity. More information will be made available at and at the respective websites: and at or by contacting the media spokesman in Australia, Reverend Father Nicholas Dillon on (+613) 97924422.

Maybe a result of this conference will be the establishment of a UK branch of the Confraternity of Catholic clergy. There is an interesting list of speakers arranged with Mgr Marini, Fr Lang, and archbishop Burke scheduled to take part. Provision will be made for priests to celebrate in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.