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?