Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Re-introducing Latin to the school curriculum

There was an article in the Telegraph on 27th December about governments plans to re-introduce Latin to the school curriculum. The full article is here. Here`s an extract.

Ministers believe it is an "important subject" and may help school pupils to learn modern languages.

Less than 15 per cent of state schools teach Latin and the number of qualified teachers is falling.

However, the Department for Education is understood to be considering adding Latin to the new Languages diploma, which will run alongside GCSEs and A-levels from next year. Baroness Morgan, the schools minister, has indicated that the Government wishes to see Latin regain its status as an important language.

She said it was "an important subject and valuable for supporting pupils' learning of modern languages". She added that the Language Diploma Development Partnership was "considering the place of Latin".

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another way of reaching the young

Readers will probably have read the recent interview with bishop Kieran Conry and his views on how to draw young people to the Church. Here is another recent view this time from Dominican Father Augustine DiNoia, undersecretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. You will find the whole story here, courtesy of CNS. Here`s a sample.

"In our conversations with young people, we have to avoid the temptation to fudge -- to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations," Father DiNoia said.

"This so-called 'accommodationist' approach generally fails, and it fails doubly with young people. There is a risk in this approach that the Christian message becomes indistinguishable from everything else on offer in the market stalls of secularized religious faith," he said.

Father DiNoia examined what he said were the three biggest obstacles to evangelizing young people today. The first, he said, is "the notion that it is arrogant to claim that Jesus Christ is the unique mediator of salvation."

He said that in confronting this barrier the church needs to first make clear that faith in Christ's uniqueness does not devalue other religions, which are worthy of respect and study as "monuments to the search for God.

"But what makes Christianity different is that it is principally about "God's search for us" and God's desire to give human beings a share in divine life, he said.

"Given that salvation in the Christian sense of the term involves both reconciliation of sinners and the elevation of creaturely persons to a new kind of life, it cannot come from within this world. Saviors are a dime a dozen when one fails to grasp what's really at stake. We need to be delivered not just from error, or suffering, or desire, or injustice, or poverty," he said.

"God desires nothing less than to share his life with us," he said. Only Jesus Christ could accomplish that, he said, and Christians need to affirm that in bringing salvation for them and for others, Jesus is "not just any savior."

St Thomas Becket

I`m still simply mystified by the decision of the bishops of England and Wales to downgrade the feast of St Thomas Becket on December 29th so that it is merely a commemoration and thus effectively abolished. I know that Thomas Becket was a complicated man and his stands on some issues seem to derive more from a clash of personality with Henry II rather than being over real issues of the relationship of church and state (or that at least is what I gleaned from Warren`s life of Henry II back when I was a medieval history undergraduate), but there is no doubt that his cult became an important symbol of the liberty of the Church from state interference and as such this seems quite important in some ways today. (I wish someone had asked Cardinal Cormac Murphy O`Connor about that on the Today Programme today.)

I had thought of just celebrating the feast anyway on the grounds that as he is patron saint of the English secular clergy (who maybe share St Thomas` awkward streak at times) then he should have a mention in a parish run by the secular clergy. However I restrained myself as I knew I had the EF Mass later in the morning where his feast is still in the calendar for England.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Octave of Christmas

As in previous years I am celebrating a daily EF Mass during the Octave (apart from Sunday). However the times are somewhat confusing. Tomorrow ( Saturday) Mass is at 10 as usual. Then on Monday and Tuesday it will be at 11. On Wednesday it is at 12 as I have a Requiem Mass at 10 and then on New Year`s Day it is at 11.

Hope this helps for those thinking of coming.

More clergy on TV

I was pleased to see this encounter bewteen Fr Patrick Burke and Christina Odone on Youtube. Hat tip to to an Anglican blog Massinformation

The Hidden Story of Jesus

I hadn`t intended to watch Channel 4`s take on the Christmas story last night but I found myself doing so. It held no surprises as Geza Vermes and other academics offered their interpretations of what might have happened at the first Christmas. What I did enjoy, however were the responses of archbishop Vincent Nichols to these theories. He spoke clearly and intelligently in putting forward the orthodox Catholic position on the Nativity. For what it`s worth, out of the three names (Nichols, Smith and Roche) mentioned as being leading contenders to be archbishop of Westminster, I think he would be the best. Oh well, no doubt we`ll soon know.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Midnight Mass at St Mary of the Rosary

Many thanks to Frank Erskine for these pictures from last night.

Merry Christmas

“Christmas is the privileged opportunity to contemplate the meaning and value of our existence. The nearness of this solemnity helps us to reflect, on the one hand, on the dramatic nature of a history in which human beings, wounded by sin, are perennially seeking happiness and a reason for living and dying; on the other hand, it exhorts us to contemplate the merciful goodness of God who has come to met humanity that He might communicate the saving Truth to us directly and make us to participate in His friendship and His life”.
Pope Benedict XVI Vatican City, 17th Dec 2008 (VIS)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Masses at St Mary`s, Forest Hall

If anyone is looking for here for the times of Christmas Masses at Forest Hall, they are:

Christmas Eve:
6pm OF Vigil Mass (with carols from 5.30pm)

12 midnight EF Missa Cantata (with carols from 11.30pm)
Christmas Day:
10.30am OF Mass

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What to do with the ashes.

It seems to have gone largely unnoticed but the bishops of England and Wales have recently published a document on what to do after a cremation. Here it is.

Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
Department for Christian Life and Worship
Guidance note on The Burial of Ashes


Since in baptism the body was marked with the seal of the Trinity and became the temple of the Holy Spirit, Christians respect and honour the bodies of the dead and the places where they rest.
(Order of Christian Funerals 19)
In the funeral liturgy the body of the deceased is reverenced by the sprinkling with Holy Water and incensed. This is a reminder that the Church’s concern for the dignity of human life is seamless: from conception to being laid to rest. How we treat those who are dying, the bodies of those who have died and the support we give to those who mourn is a sign of how we cherish life.

Since 1963 the Church has given permission for Catholics to be cremated. Prior to this Cremation was seen to be anti-Christian in intention. There was concern that there were anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, agendas being pursued by at least some who were promoting cremation as an option for the ‘disposal’ of bodies. This concern about the purpose of cremation finds expression in the 1983 Code of Canon Law which, while repeating the former permission, forbids cremation where it is ‘chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching Can 1176 §3’. A strong recommendation is given for burial: the returning of a person’s remains to the earth.

In England and Wales it is estimated that 70% of the general population is cremated and that the figure for Catholics is similar. Here cremation has developed as an option due to pressure on urban space and the lack of a tradition of re-using graves. The edition of the Order of Christian Funerals authorised for use in England and Wales therefore provides Catholic liturgical rites to be used at a Crematorium. These are forms of the Rite of Committal, which may lead some to assume that burial and cremation are equivalent actions. They are not. Cremation simply accelerates the decomposition of the body. It does not achieve the final ‘disposal’ of the remains.

The following is noted with regard to the Rite of Committal:
The rite of committal, the conclusion of the funeral rites, is the final act of the community of faith in caring for the body of its deceased member…

In committing the body to its resting place, the community expresses the hope that, with all those who have gone before marked with the sign of faith, the deceased awaits the glory of the resurrection. The rite of committal is an expression of the communion that exists between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven: the deceased passes with the farewell prayers of the community of believers into the welcoming company of those who need faith no longer but see God face to face. (OCF 219, 221)

That expression of continued communion is commonly experienced in the case of a burial – even if only because the grave remains a place where grieving can be focussed.

In the case of cremation there is no grave or resting place and there is the practical issue of what to do with the ashes. In light of the Church’s expectation with regard to burial even of cremated remains it is perhaps best regarded that the rite of committal at a crematorium the rite is not concluded until the ashes have been buried. Consequently, in the Order of Christian Funerals the Church provides a rite for the burial of ashes where the cremated remains are returned reverently to the earth.

Despite this, even in the case of Catholic funerals, a significant number of cremated remains are not collected by the relatives but are simply disposed of by the crematorium. Even when people have received the cremated remains of their dead they often do not know what to do with them so they are kept at home. In society at large, the common expectation is that ashes are to be scattered, for example at a place particularly favoured by the deceased – e.g. a hillside or a football ground. This view seems equally commonly held among Catholics. It may be asked what beliefs are being expressed when people scatter ashes. There has also been the development of the range of secular rites and practices regarding the ‘disposal’ of ashes – e.g. firing them in a rocket to explode in the sky; turning them into an artificial diamond; storing them in a glass ornament; or dividing ashes between family members. These may well be a sign that services at a crematorium do not of themselves necessarily bring a sense of completion to the process of ‘laying the dead to rest’.


Where the bereaved choose to have the deceased cremated they should 1. be advised of the strong recommendation of the Church that cremated remains be buried at a later stage.

• This advice may be from the priest, a member of a bereavement team or the funeral director.

• The Liturgy Office has produced a simple leaflet: Catholic Funerals, a guide, which can be download and made available locally:

• The diocese of Westminster has produced a leaflet on Catholics and Cremation which can be downloaded:

2. A liturgical rite is provided in the Order of Christian Funerals for the burial of Ashes.
• It can be adapted according to the circumstances. The introductory notes advise that if it is done within a short time of cremation, it will not be necessary to repeat the entire rite of committal.
• By necessity the burial of the cremated remains will take placesome time after the funeral. It may be, for example, an opportunity for family and friends to gather to mark a ‘month’s mind’.
The Rite for the Burial of Ashes can be downloaded from the Liturgy Office website:

3.The remains can be buried in a number of places:
• There may be specific provision within a cemetery.

• It can be possible to bury the ashes in the existing grave of a family member or relative.

• Some parishes have provided a burial place either within a church or church grounds. Before such a provision is made there should be consultation with diocesan authorities. Once ashes are buried it is intended by both Church and State that those ashes will remain there. Indeed, by law, once they have been buried cremated remains may not be removed without permission from the Home Office, and in some circumstances from the Church also.

• The remains can also be buried on private property but the conditions noted in the previous point would apply.

Fr Stan Fortuna on the Mass

So far all the comments on my last post have been negative. There was one from the Old Believer which got lost in the general sorting out of the post which asked whether I should be promoting this kind of Mass.

Clearly this is not my ideal way of saying Mass. Nor would I want this kind of commentary every week at Mass. However I think what Fr Stan Fortuna has to say is well worth hearing and for a one-off it works and has helped a lot of people in my ambit to understand the Mass better. Of course I would hope he might one day do something similar with the Extraordinary Form except then it would be difficult for him to do the commentary himself and say the Mass. Nor is this Mass ideal even from an OF point of view: there are no music or altar servers for example.

I don`t know anything about Rap music. I remember an interview with Fr Stan in which he said it wasn`t the kind of music he would choose to listen to either. However his music I believe is a useful tool for evangelisation and can engage young people. I`d much rather promote that than stuff about having too much water in the kettle. I`m a fan of both the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate who seem to me to be living an authentic Franciscan life. I only wish they had been around when I was young and exploring a vocation to the religious life.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

`My busy time of year` Part 1 (Take 2)

Well I think I`ve been to all the Nativity plays I was expecting to go to (four). Apart from these, this time of year is not that much different in terms of what I do. A highlight this week was a question and answer session with Year 4 at St Stephen`s Primary School, Longbenton, about the Mass. I had loaned the headteacher a DVD of Fr Stan Fortuna talking about the Mass. Above is a YouTube clip. It was watched by Years 4,5 and 6. I was surprised as I thought it might be ok for Year 6 at a pinch but it went down very well indeed with all those who saw it. In fact the reports coming back were so enthusiastic that I decided to show it to our altar servers who also enjoyed it, as did a couple of their parents who watched it with them and who suggested that I should show it to the parents of the First Holy Communion class.

Our head, Mr Fallon, said the children had lots of questions arising from the DVD. This, in a school were at most one third are Catholic. So I went to talk to the children of Year 4 for half an hour and found they had written eight pages of questions. They were very good questions. Among some I remember were `Why does the priest drop a particle of the host into the chalice before Communion?`, `Where does the Bible come from?`, `What does the colour purple signify in the liturgy?`, `Why can`t priests marry?` and many more. I mention this in the light of a recent episcopal statement that children don`t understand talk of sin and salvation and have to be engaged to talk about the environment instead. Well there certainly seems plenty of interest in purely religious matters among Year 4 at St Stephen`s school. I`d like to talk to Years 5 and 6 next term too. I may also see if we can show it at St Mary`s too.

This is the second version of this post. I`ve copied the comments from the old post below.`

UPDATE: I`VE CRACKED IT!!. I see I need to post the code into the edit Html box rather than just rely on the publish this to blog option.Hurrah!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Prayer for the Appointment of a new Bishop

As Christmas draws near it doesn`t look as if we will be getting an new bishop this year. This prayer has emerged from St Cuthbert`s, Kenton. I think we may start using it here in the bidding prayers.

Father, send forth your Holy Spirit and raise up for us a Shepherd of your own choosing; a Bishop to lead and guide us, a Shepherd of wisdom and strength, compassion and grace, holiness and learning with vision and the commitment to build up your Church and unite your faithful people in the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ your Son, who is Lord, for ever and forever. Amen!
I hope we get one of these rather than one of these.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blog Personality Type

I spotted this on Catholic Pillow Fight. Find out your personality on the strength of your blog! Simply type in your blog`s name and it gives a result. This was mine:

ESTP - The Doers

The active and playful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Interesting but way out on the physical out-door activities. Not sure about full of energy either. However it is the fastest personality test there is.

Monday, December 15, 2008

If I had an iphone...

This looks as if it could be useful for iphone or ipod touch users. The whole of the OF breviary and missal for 59p! Click here. They also claim Vatican approval.


Life would be much easier if our bishops (or diocesan adminstrator) laid on courses for the clergy. Whatever may be said about bishop Arthur Roche, he is the only bishop in the country who has organised a programme of training for his priests in the Extraordinary Form. Maybe the others just hope it will go away.

For Immediate Release

15 December 2008

* LMS Training Conference at Merton College, Oxford for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of Mass (Traditional Latin Rite), August 2009

The following is a statement from Mr Paul Beardsmore, Secretary of the Latin Mass Society:

1. The LMS Committee has not cancelled the Oxford Training Conference, and Merton College has not indicated to the Society that permission to hold the Conference has been withdrawn.

2. Mr David Lloyd’s views concerning the Oxford Conference held in July 2008 were considered by the LMS Committee three months ago and did not receive the support of the majority of its members.

3. The LMS Committee – including Mr Lloyd – is unanimous in its commitment to the implementation of the Motu Proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’, and consequently to the training of clergy to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

4. The leaking to the press of Mr Lloyd’s confidential e mail, and the attempt to link this e mail with the LMS Committee’s recent decision concerning the administrative arrangements for the Conference are mischievous.

Statement ends.

. . . . ENDS . . . .

LMS: (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Generation Gap

I have had on my desk for two weeks now a copy of the Tablet, open at the letters page. As you may guess, I`m not a great fan of the Tablet but do find it useful to keep up with what is being said. In the edition for 29th November, the first letter was printed under the heading (surprise, surprise) of Loyal Dissent. The letter was written by one Peter Clifton in reaction to the recent thoughts of the sadly about-to-retire bishop of Lancaster, Patrick O`Donaghue. What interested me was the following:

In educating my children before university education, I confirmed myobvious
rejection of superstition, creationism, literal interpretation ofScripture and
the discipline of celibacy for priests that is depriving theChurch of the
sacraments, to name a few issues. More importantly for theirlives, I told them
my belief that there is nothing wrong in limiting your family and being a

Normal Tablet stuff so far. However what follows is more interesting.

It was all about a reality test on Christian faith. My children (some of them) could see that being a loyally dissenting Catholic was all right for me but it wasn`t for them. It is too damn complicated to say "I believe this but not that". They want the whole biscuit and to be able to make an easy appeal to the authority of the Church. I am proud that they accept and practise the teachings of compassion and peace of the Church, just as I am proud of the statements of Catholic bishops on these issues. But to be practising Catholics they need more.

Mr Clifton concludes:

We loyal dissenters are dying out

In my time I have met ecclesiastical authorities who struggle to undestand why the younger generation is often not interested in loyal dissent. They label them as being too conservative or rigid. Thanks to Mr Clifton for giving an insight why if younger people are going to bother with Catholicism at all they want `the whole biscuit` and don`t see the point of committing yourself to something half-heartedly.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ushaw LMS Training Conference 2009

One of the things I`m looking forward to in 2009 is the Latin Mass Society training session for priests to be held at Ushaw in April, not having been involved in the meetings at Merton. I have been involved in some of the initial preparations for this conference. Seeing High Masses being celebrated on the altar of St Cuthbert`s chapel will bring a sense of personal satisfaction for me as I spent five years at the college from 1983-88.
The conference will take place from Monday 20th to Thurs 23rd April 2009 starting before lunch on Monday and finishing after lunch on Thursday.
Just now whenever I go to a meeting of priests I find them telling me they have had a letter of invitation to the conference. I was disappointed that one priest, who I hold in high esteem, told me he threw the letter away immediately. However, others have been keen to find out more and some have said they are going. I`m looking forward to meeting up with some of my contemporaries who I`ve not seen since leaving the college but who I read about in the LMS magazine as being active in celebrating the EF .
Ushaw will certainly provide a most suitable location for such a conference with its twelve altars. I hope that the conference will be great success in bringing Summorum Pontificum to the North of England.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Important Day?

I see on the Vatican Information Service that today Cardinal Murphy O`Connor is having an audience with the Holy Father. No doubt the future of the Church in this country will have been discussed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Meet the New Boss

Not the same as the old boss! This picture, borrowed from Fr Z, made me smile. It`s been making me smile most of the day in fact. Here is the new head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, (whose appointment was announced today) in action. There should be some fun in store!
(Apologies to The Who.)

It`s Fr Withoos again!

Fr Withoos reprises his role as a deacon at a cardinal`s Mass! See the NLM here for a full report of Cardinal Pell`s Mass yesterday at Ss Trinita in Rome. It appears to have been a joyful occasion. I listened to Fr`s podcast for Missa Cantata for the second Sunday of Advent as we had the monthly Longbenton Mass on Sunday night, and found it useful as I don`t normally use the tones used there so on the strength of the podcast I used the other tones.
For anyone who doesn`t know Fr Withoos, he lived in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle for two years while pursuing a PhD at Durham university. He made many friends while here amongst priests and laity. He said Mass on a number of occasions at Forest Hall.

No comment, except......

..the next time I report on a Solemn High Mass I must remember to describe it as `joyful` and even `multicultural` (Hebrew, Greek and Roman).
Click here.

Monday, December 08, 2008

More on the Mass at Southwark cathedral

I`ve had these pictures and a report from the LMS on the Mass at Southwark cathedral.

8 December 2008


Successful High Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, London

The Latin Mass Society’s annual High Mass in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, London on Saturday 6 December was a great success. Over 200 people braved the cold to assist at the feast Mass of St Nicholas celebrated by Fr Andrew Southwell, assisted by Fr Peter Gee as Deacon and Fr Christopher Basden as Sub-deacon.

The cathedral Dean, Canon James Cronin, preached; music was provided by the cathedral choir under the direction of Nick Gale and the organ was played by Thomas Wilson, Precentor of Westminster Cathedral.

In his sermon, Canon Cronin spoke about the life of St Nicholas and how Christians, inspired by St Nicholas, must never lose hope.

This was the second annual visit by the LMS to St George’s Cathedral. John Medlin, LMS General Manager, said: “It’s wonderful to come back to St George’s which is such a vibrant hub of Catholic life in South London. Canon Cronin makes us very welcome and it’s pleasing to see how easily the Extraordinary Form and Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite can work alongside each other to build up the liturgical life of the diocese. We’re looking forward to our next visit!”


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Another cathedral Mass

A friend has drawn my attention to a Mass today in Southwark cathedral according to the Extraordinary Form. There are plenty of pictures here. What interested me was that this event ws reported on the Southwark diocesan website. No such luck here when we had our EF Mass in St Mary`s cathedral in Newcastle. Something about it not being a diocesan event or some such thing I didn`t understand, given that I thought it was reasonably newsworthy. We did manage to get an article at the very back of the Northern Cross however with a black and white picture so mustn`t grumble.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

`Because musical sensibility is not exactly at home in the ecclesiastical sphere`

An interesting article by Sandro Magister about the lack of improvement in musical standards in the churches of Rome despite the reign of Benedict XVI and the recent International Festival of Sacred Music held there.

He writes:

There is a sort of musical paralysis, in Rome, around the celebrations of the pope. Benedict XVI's thought on liturgical music is very well known, it has been presented in his writings, very critical of the decline that has taken place. But almost nothing has changed, in more than three years of pontificate. The Vatican still has no office with authority on sacred music. The Sistine Choir, conducted by Monsignor Giuseppe Liberto, is a shadow of its glorious former self. And when the Sistine Choir is not singing at the papal Masses, what dominates is the theatrical style of Monsignor Marco Frisina, director of the choir at the Lateran, the cathedral basilica of Rome.
In this sense, too, the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art taught a lesson. To perform the Masses and motets of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Tomás Luis de Victoria, Luca Marenzio, Claudio Monteverdi – in short, the illustrious choir directors at the cathedrals of Rome and of Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries – the choir of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, conducted by Peter Latona, came from the United States, and from Germany the choir of the cathedral of Speyer, conducted by Leo Krämer.
It is not that Rome and Italy lack valid performers of this great polyphonic music. On the contrary, the most ingenious performer of Palestrina in the world is certainly Monsignor Domenico Bartolucci. But Bartolucci conducts Palestrina in the concert halls, and no longer at the papal Masses with the Sistine Choir, which he conducted until he was rudely removed in 1997. It is difficult to find a church choir in Rome and in Italy today that could perform the works of these composers in the live setting of liturgical action.
If it takes a festival to permit such marvels to be savored again, it's a sign that there's still a long road ahead.
Probably the best city I can think of for liturgical music has to be London and most of that is Anglican. What is it about Catholics that they have no interest in their musical heritage and feel more at home with the infamous ``clapping Gloria` than the simplest Gregorian chant?

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

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.