Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hard Times

Thanks to E F Pastoremeritus for voicing what I was wondering: why have the allegations against Cardinal O`Brien not surfaced until now? As others have noted Cardinal Pell had to face similar accusations and was cleared so we`ll have to wait and see. All this and only two days of Benedict XVI left. For as long as I have taken an interest in church affairs Ratzinger has been a major figure. It all feels very strange at the minute not knowing what to expect next. As Fr Rowe says 

You see it has now been eight years or so that on a parish level you could always say that you were simply following the vision of the Holy Father. This could all be very different very soon.

Life could become a lot more difficult with a change of approach.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Dome of Home

I realise most people may have already seen this on Fr Blake`s blog but I put it here for those who don`t venture that far and to show what can be done with redundant churches rather than closing them rather abruptly. One day I hope to go to New Brighton. In fact I`m rather surprised I`ve not been there already.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I`m slowly getting thoughts together after Monday`s news of Pope Benedict`s resignation/abdication/retirement. It`s going to be a strange world without Joseph Ratzinger at the helm. I can`t remember when I first became aware of him but I know that by 1985 he`d become well known for the Ratzinger Report which had the temerity to point out that not everything in the post-conciliar garden was lovely. Such was the outrage that a number of profs at Ushaw were demanding that the book not be stocked in the seminary bookshop. I loved the book. I got myself an A4 photo of the cardinal and put it framed on my wall in seminary. Somehow I still got through.

Like many I was over the moon when he became pope and waited for what seemed an eternity for the document that would free the old Roman Rite. It is only disappointing that as pope Benedict never made a public appearance at an Extraordinary Form Mass. Still Summorum Pontificum is in the Church`s life now and isn`t going to disappear. Thank you again Holy Father.

I can`t get very excited about who will be the next pope. From an Extraordinary Form perspective Cardinal Raymond Burke would be most desirable. I remember him as a Rotal Judge when I was doing the canon law licence in Rome in 1990-92. Among the present college Cardinals Versaldi, Erdo, De Paulis and Coccopalmerio all taught us at the Greg. in those days. Having one of them as pope would be interesting but I really can`t get that too motivated by any of the prospects: not like last time when I was praying it would be Ratzinger.

Finally we saw spontaneous applause for the Pope at the end of Mass yesterday in St Peter`s. I immediately thought as I`m sure many others did of this passage in The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger:

"Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. " (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198)

I just wondered whether he was thinking `Why do they not take any notice of what I say?` 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle Pastoral Letter

I thought this was rather good today.

My dear people,
In October last year the Holy Father chaired a synod in Rome to begin the Year of Faith.
The purpose of the Synod was to discuss New Evangelisation - in other words to discuss
how we can be inspired and how we can inspire others to follow Jesus Christ more closely.
On a number of occasions during the Synod great emphasis was placed on the importance
of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). I would like to share with you some
thoughts about this wonderful gift of healing.
For us to understand this sacrament of confession and reconciliation we need to discover
something of who our heavenly Father is.  In the book of Jeremiah God speaks to each
one of us when he says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love and I am constant in
my affection for you”.  Our God is a God of mercy, a God of compassion, and a God who
constantly heals us if we open our hearts to the love that only He can offer.
As I’m sure you have experienced sometimes it can be difficult to open our hearts to the
love of God. It can be challenging to come before the Lord and be honest about the
things we have done or failed to do.  We find ourselves in this condition because of sin.
The word sin is a way of describing something that causes us to turn away from God’s
love; it is something which closes our hearts to God’s affection. As a result of our
sinfulness we become damaged: gradually we become uneasy with God, uneasy with
ourselves and uneasy with others. We can be divided people who are beside ourselves.
When we are like this we are not living life to the full, we are not the people we were
created to be.  However there is a remedy, there is a constant source of mercy which puts
us back on track.
We all know that for us to be healed by a doctor we must first describe what we are
suffering from.  In the same way, and more importantly, in order for the God of
compassion to heal us we must enter the sacrament of reconciliation and cry out with our
hearts, “Here I am Lord, this is me.  This is the kind of person I am.  I am weak, selfish,
self-centred, hurt, I am wounded, I am broken and I am in need of healing.”  In this
intimate moment with Christ we examine ourselves thoroughly so that the love of God can
penetrate the depths of our being and we allow Him to bring to the surface all those areas
that are hurting and in need of healing.  When they surface it is important for us to be
totally honest with ourselves and God.  The priest then prays one of the most beautiful
prayers we have in the Church, in which he says to us, “Through the ministry of the
Church, may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
In this intimate moment with God we encounter the healing Christ who makes us whole
and helps us to look to the future with hope. This sacrament which today can be widely
ignored is essential for the future of our Church, for the New Evangelisation and for our
own salvation. God’s mercy given to us in confession brings us peace, joy and happiness
because only as forgiven children of the Father can we enter God’s Kingdom.
This week we begin the season of Lent, and so I have asked all Deans to arrange for
confessions in as many of the churches in the deanery as possible at the same time on the
same day.  This is to ensure that there will be an opportunity for you all to participate in
the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.  I suggested Wednesday from 6pm until 7pm
but this may not be possible in every parish.  (If this time is a problem for your particular
parish then your priest will inform you of another time slot which will remain the same
each week).
I too will be available to you for the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St Mary’s Cathedral on
Saturday 16th and Saturday 23rd February between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm.
I would like to encourage you - and ask you to encourage one another - to celebrate this
sacrament in a very special way throughout this Year of Faith.  I can assure you this will
bring much joy and happiness into your life.  You will be closer to God as a result and you
will experience His mercy and compassion in perhaps ways that you have yet to
With my very best wishes
 Rt Rev Seamus Cunningham
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

1700 years of freedom

There are quite a number of anniversaries occuring in 2013. There has been a lot about the bi-centenaries of the births of Wagner and Verdi. Also the publication of Pride and Prejudice was in 1813. 1913 saw the first performance of Stravinsky`s Rite of Spring. However I have seen very little to mark the Edict of Milan in 313 which granted freedom to Christians. It appears the Serbian Orthodox are celebrating and this even drew a comment from the papal nuncio to Serbia but I`ve not noticed much else.

I only thought about it recently, when the local Methodist magazine came through my letter box and I was surprised to see the front cover given over to the Edict of Milan, and am now thinking it may be worth trying to have a Solemn High Mass to mark the occasion given that we can`t always take freedom for granted.  Before anyone is tempted to say the conversion of Constantine was a disaster for the Church let`s just say that that was not how it seemed to Christians at the time.

This from Eusebius` Life of Constantine:

Chapter XV.—How Constantine entertained the Bishops on the Occasion of His Vicennalia.
About this time he completed the twentieth year of his reign.3251 On this occasion public festivals were celebrated by the people of the provinces generally, but the emperor himself invited and feasted with those ministers of God 524whom he had reconciled, and thus offered as it were through them a suitable sacrifice to God. Not one of the bishops was wanting at the imperial banquet,3252 the circumstances of which were splendid beyond description. Detachments of the body-guard and other troops surrounded the entrance of the palace with drawn swords, and through the midst of these the men of God proceeded without fear into the innermost of the imperial apartments, in which some were the emperor’s own companions at table, while others reclined on couches arranged on either side.3253 One might have thought that a picture of Christ’s kingdom was thus shadowed forth, and a dream rather than reality.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Richard III wasn`t an Anglican

If you think he should be buried accordnig to the rites of the religion he professsed, sign here.
Thanks to Fr Henry for his more detailed treatment of the matter.