Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lost Antiphons

I have given up trying to find the antiphons for the vigil of the Nativity for the minor hours in my lovely new 1962 breviary and have had to use the wonderful Divinum Officium site. Any clues would be appreciated. While I`m here can anyone tell me where the invitatory antiphon for the common of a virgin, non-martyr is to be found? There seems to be no option but to say that all virgins are martyrs.
UPDATE: Thanks to Gregor and Mark for the information on the antiphons. All is clear now. Thanks for your swift responses.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

St Wilfrid: not entirely forgotten.

I didn`t post anything about St Wilfrid on his feast day (October 12th) as it seemed the general policy was to ignore this saint even in the year of the 1300th anniversary of his death. People I`ve mentioned it to say `Well he`s more of a Yorkshire person`. It`s true he was bishop of York but he was also bishop of Hexham and was bishop of Hexham when he died in 709. Of all the Northumbrian saints he was the one who most exemplifies unity with Rome. Maybe this is why he is unpopular.
Yet not everyone forgot. In this month`s Northern Cross there is an article (p.9) about the choir of Hexham abbey making a trip to Rome to commemorate the 1300th anniversary of the saint`s death. They sang a Mass in St Peter`s. So at least the Anglicans think he is worth remembering.
On the subject of Anglicans and English bishops, in a recent interview , Mgr Faley, the assistant general secretary of the episcopal conference of England and Wales spoke to the BBC about the new ordinariate for former Anglicans. While the complementary norms for Anglicanorum Coetibus say the bishops of the Ordinariate are to be chosen from a terna presented by the Governing Council of the Ordinariate and thus would be expected to be a member of the Ordinariate, Mgr Faley thinks it is unlikely that this will be the case.
"I really don't know," says Mgr Faley. "There is the possibility that he would be - but within the culture of the bishops' conference I think that's highly unlikely."
I keep thinking about the phrase `the culture of the bishops` conference`. There is no mention of it in canon law as regards the suitability of a candidate for episcopal consecration. The code asks that a candidate be `outstanding for his solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues and endowed with other talents` as well as having a good reputation, be at least thirty-five years old and have a doctorate or at least a licence in theology, canon law or scripture or be at least `truly expert` in these disciplines.
I can`t help wonder whether St Wilfrid would have fitted into the culture of the episcopal conference?
PS I`m delighted to see Mgr Mark Davies of Salford has today been appointed as coadjutor bishop for the diocese of Shrewsbury. That`s cheered me up.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Breakthrough at St Peter`s, Rome.

I`ve been sent news that things are improving at St Peter`s with regards to priests being able to say Mass in the Extraordinary Form. My information says:

Cardinal Comastri, Arch-Priest of St. Peter, has ordered the sacristy of the Vatican Basilica to have four 1962 Missals available for priests wishing to celebrate the Holy Mass according to the usus antiquior. The whole story is in this Italian link.
More of the background to this and the recent FIUV conference in Rome can be read on Joseph Shaw`s blog here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The background to the icons at St Mary`s

I thought the notes Sr Petra Clare sent explaining the symbolism used in the icons may be of interest.
The icon draws on the account of the childhood of Mary of the Protoevengelion of James. Although from time to time there are questions about the historical veracity of the events, the tradition has been maintained in the icons because it underlines certain important mysteries in the life of the Mother of God.

The protoevangelion tells us that Joachim and Anna were left childless and the elderly Anna conceived, in a similar miracle to the conception of Isaac. The parents made a vow to give the child to the temple. I found from another source that there was a place for women - old women like the prophetess Anna and virgins given into their care to be brought up piously, serving the needs of the temple, including sewing.

After Mary is espoused to Joseph, the temple needs a new veil, and the tradition is for the undefiled virgins of the house of David to spin the veil. The priests cast lots to choose who was to spin gold, white, linen, silk, blue, scarlet and purple. Mary was drawn for the scarlet and purple spinning. In the protoevangelion, Mary is actually sitting and spinning the scarlet and purple when the angel visits her.

Whatever the material truth of the story, later exegesis takes it as a symbol that the flesh of Christ - the veil both revealing and concealing the godhead - is woven from Mary's body. I have followed an icon pattern which indicates the mountain of Sinai topped with cloud on the case of the spindle.

In the icon Mary, as a daughter of David, sits on the throne of the house of David, who will bear the new Godking of David's line. This is why her seat is always so thronelike. The MP OV is Mary Theotokon ( Mother of God). The letters are kept in Greek because the gospels were written in Greek. They are always in red and shortened, which links then to the similarly shortened name of Christ IC XC, and derives from the way of indicating the name of God in the Hebrew Bible.

The angel is always depicted below Mary, and at a distance from her. As the throne of God, she is higher than the angels. Because the angel only indicates that a divine birth will come about and the mystery is concealed from the messenger i.e. 'at a spiritual distance' from him, the space between the two, composed of gold, indicating the presence of God, is vitalling important. It is God who stands between the two. In your church, God literally is enthroned between the two in the tabernacle, and the central pillar forms the decisive division between the messenger and the Mother of God which is a feature of the icon.
Sr Petra Clare

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

North East Catholic History Society

I really should write these notifications rather earlier but this afternoon we have the December talk for the NECHS. The topic today is Mary Ward 1585-1645 Foundress and Educator and the speaker is Sr. Patricia Harriss cj. As always we meet at St Andrews, Worswick St, Newcastle and begin at 2pm. All welcome.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The icons arrive at St Mary`s

I`m delighted to say that the icon of the Annunciation arrived today for St Mary`s and I was able to get it installed straightaway in time for the Immaculate Conception tomorrow. This is the work of Sr Petra Clare who lives in the Sancti Angeli Benedictine Skete in Cannich, Inverness-shire. Many thanks to Davey and Derek who fitted them today: the same team that installed the hanging crucifix in SS Peter and Paul`s Longbenton a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few pictures although my camera doesn`t get the colours exactly right all the time

Many thanks to the parishioners of St Mary`s who have made this possible by their donations over the last few years.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Directory on the Canonical Status of the Clergy

Last week our dean came round with a copy of the new Directory on the Canonical Status of the Clergy. An event in itself as the last statutes on clergy life I can find in this diocese were published in 1962. This is a national publication and serves as a guide for dioceses to produce their own diocesan statutes for clergy life. Most of it consists of canons from the code but other sections in italics are meant to serve as models for diocesan legislation.

I remember reading an article in 2000 in the Catholic Herald by a priest who said he was not going to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the restoration of the hierarchy until the restoration of the canonical status of parish priests had also occurred! It is true that priests promise obedience to their bishops but sometimes this is misunderstood as an absolute obedience of the kind one finds in a monastery whereas the obedience of the secular clergy is as set out in the code of canon law. Thus while a priest will want to be as obedient as he can to his bishop he does nonetheless have rights as well as obligations and these are not to be ignored.

One of the most difficult events in a parish priest`s life can be when he is asked to move parish. The new directory gives a useful reminder of how this is meant to happen. Although I am a canon lawyer, I must admit I had never given sufficient attention to the canon that deals with this. Nor in my experience have bishops, even those with a doctorate in canon law!

The canon (1748) reads:
If the good of souls or the need or advantage of the Church requires that a pastor be transferred from his parish which he is governing usefully to another parish or to another office, the bishop is to propose the transfer to him in writing and persuade him to consent to it for the love of God and of souls.

The next canon reads:
If the pastor does not intend to yield to the counsel and persuasion of the bishop he is to explain his reasons in writing.

From there it goes on to explain what the bishop still wants to move the priest: the bishop is to send two priests round to try to persuade him to accept the move. If the priest still refuses, the bishop is to issue a decree declaring the parish vacant. The priest however is then at liberty to appeal to Rome and the bishop in his decree is to inform him of how this is done. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds as a number of years ago a few priests in Scotland did this and their appeal against transfer was upheld by the Vatican.

All of this is because if a priest is appointed parish priest he has canonical possession of the parish and can only be moved if there is a serious problem or if he consents to a move. Our bishop reminded us recently in the Northern Cross that all the priests he had moved had consented to move. However I look forward to the implementation of the canon regarding the need for a written request to be made to the priest regarding the move with the reasons for it outlined. There have to be real reasons for the move. Also having it on paper gives the priest time to think things through clearly rather than in an interview where the proposal is sprung on him when he knows nothing about the parish which is being offered to him. Of course this all means a slower process but it also means respecting the rights of the priest according to canon law.
The Directory deals with other matters of clergy life as well. Its publication is good thing and I hope will serve to ensure that the secular clergy know their rights and obligations under canon law.

Ushaw Conference 2010

One of the highlights of 2009 was the LMS training conference at Ushaw. I`m delighted to hear that it is happening again in 2010 and will be the LMS`s main training conference of the year. What made it special on a personal level was having spent five years there as a seminarian and never thinking to ever see let alone celebrate Solemn High Mass in St Cuthbert`s chapel. The LMS have sent the following information about next year`s conference. As well as gaining or refreshing knowledge about celebrating the Extraordinary Form it will be a good week in the company of like-minded priests. I was particularly glad to catch up with some people I`d not seen in twenty years.

Here`s the press release:

LMS Residential Training Conference for Priests Wishing to Learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham.

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (LMS) is organising a residential training conference for priests wishing to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at Ushaw College, Durham, one of England’s most prestigious seminaries.

The conference will run from Monday 12 April to Friday 16 April 2010 (i.e. Low Week) and will feature Traditional liturgies in Ushaw’s magnificent neo-Gothic St Cuthbert’s Chapel together with a Gregorian Chant schola and polyphonic choir.

Expert tuition in the celebration of Mass in the Usus Antiquior will be provided on a small group basis. There will be tuition in Low Mass, Missa Cantata and Missa Solemnis and there will be streams for beginners and more advanced students. There will be a keynote lecture and 1962 Missals and altar cards will be available.

There will be opening and closing High Masses, daily Mass and Devotions, and Rosary. There will also be a closing Conference dinner with guest speaker.

The subsidised fee to participants is only £115.00 which includes all accommodation, meals and training materials. There are limited places and priests are asked to register as soon as possible.

Further details and registration forms can be obtained from the LMS office (Tel: 020 7404 7284, e mail: or from the conference organiser, Mr Paul Waddington (Tel: 01757 638027, e mail:

Paul Waddington said, “This is the second time the LMS has organised such a training conference at Ushaw College and we are delighted to be going back. I hope the laity will tell their priests about this wonderful opportunity to learn the Usus Antiquior in the setting of one of England’s finest Catholic seminaries.”

Latin Mass Society, 11-13 Macklin Street, London WC2B 5NH
Tel: 020 7404 7284
E mail:

. . . . 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)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Irish child abuse scandal

In the light of yesterday`s report in Ireland regarding sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the subsequent cover up, I thought Mary Kenny`s piece in the Times today was useful.

In particular she argues that this is not just something involving errant clergy but the whole of Irish society. She writes:

Yet this clerical power in Ireland is often misunderstood by intellectuals, who analyse it as a top-down social structure, as if the clergy kept an iron hold on an unwilling populace. I would suggest that it was what we would call market driven. It came from the peoples’ faith, and the peoples’ desire to exalt their faith.

Especially after the disappearance of British rule, with all the gorgeous panoply that the Crown displayed, the people wanted the priests to be “a native nobility”. Irish politicians in the 1950s tumbled over themselves in their eagerness to kneel before a bishop and refer to an archbishop as “His Grace.
and concludes:
Yet to be fully understood, these scandals must be seen within the context of Irish history. The Catholic church in Ireland wasn’t “them”, it was “us”. It was our fathers and mothers and sisters and cousins and aunts. It was all those families and kin who must have covered up abuse — as families do.

Swine `Flu and Holy Communion

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for publishing this letter from the CDW written to a British Catholic explaining that no bishop can forbid people from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. This letter does not mention the H1N1 virus bit apparently thhe sender of the letter did. To be fair the bishops issued recommendations that Communion on the tongue cease but people may have understood this to be a command rather than just a recommendation. When our bishop came here in October he gave Holy Communion on the tongue to those who wished to receive in that way.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An extra Mass due to popular demand

Just to say that there will be an EF Mass at St Mary`s at 7.30 am on weekdays of Advent. At the last Council of Priests the bishop asked the priests of the diocese to consider having an early Mass for people going to work and I`m happy to oblige in this parish.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beauty Brings Joy to the Human Heart

New shroud discovery

I was interested to see this story in the Times. Dr Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican secret archives has deciphered the letters on the shroud of Turn which make up the notice attached to the shroud to say the deceased had been condemned as a criminal. Apparently the bodies were to be put in a common grave for a year after which they could be given to their family. The notice was still fixed to the shroud of Christ even though permission was given for him to be put in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea

It`s all explained in Dr Frale`s new book which looks at the lettering that was first noticed in 1978. The notice was in Hebrew, Latin and Greek.

The Times article says:

Dr Frale said that many of the letters were missing, with Jesus for example referred to as "(I)esou(s) Nnazarennos" and only the "iber" of "Tiberiou" surviving. Her reconstruction, however, suggested that the certificate read: "In the year 16 of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius Jesus the Nazarene, taken down in the early evening after having been condemned to death by a Roman judge because he was found guilty by a Hebrew authority, is hereby sent for burial with the obligation of being consigned to his family only after one full year". It ends "signed by" but the signature has not survived.

I look forward to seeing the English version of the book. In Italian it is La Sindone di Gesu Nazareno.

The crucifix in state schools

I don`t like the determination of secularists to see that all outward signs of religion are removed from public life: Christians are citizens too and also have rights. However I do struggle with the recent furore in Italy over the order to remove the crucifix from the classrooms in state schools. After all these are state schools. No-one is saying (yet) that they must be removed in Catholic schools. Actually in my experience Catholics are quite good at removing them themselves. They often seem to remove statues etc from Catholic establishments and replace them mostly with houseplants. I know of one where that happened almost twenty years ago.
However I thought Dignitatis Humanae, at Vatican II, called for the abolition of the Catholic church as the state religion in those places where this was the case. If Catholicism was the state religion of Italy then I could see some point in protesting about state schools having to remove crucifixes. Maybe I have misunderstood.
The Italians are fighting back. I`m glad to see it and hope they win but do we need to think about Dignitatis Humanae again?
Of course from a purely secular point of view if the majority of Italians want to have crucifixes in state schools and the EU really does believe in subsidiarity then I don`t see why their wishes should be defied by the EU in this way.

Ss Peter and Paul`s Longbenton

For quite a while now I have had a crucifix ready to hang in the church to replace the figure I inherited on the back wall. When the La Sagesse convent closed in Newcastle I heard they had a large crucifix they were willing to let us have and it being from a La Sagesse house I expected it to be tasteful which it is. The figure on the back wall of the risen Christ standing in front of the cross with a large smile just didn`t work for me and the parish council were also happy with the suggestion of putting up the La Sagesse cross as there had been a crucifix hanging there in the original design of the church. The workmen who put it up visited a couple of other Newcastle churches which have the same arrangement to see how it could hang from the arch and made a very good job of it.

There is now an outline of the former cross on the back wall. I tried to pass this off as having mystical significance and representing the risen Christ. It reminds me of the cross in the iconoclastic church in Istanbul on BBC4`s History of Christianity this week! However as you may remember there is an icon of Christ on it`s way which may be here for Easter which will occupy that panel. From the main aisle this will be partially blocked by the crucifix but I`m happy about that as it signifies that the way to glory is through the cross. The icon of the Annunciation for St Mary`s Forest Hall should finally arrive in time for December 8th.


And after:

This second photo was taken rather quickly and I may go back and try to get a better one.

More LMS: annual Requiem

A report this time from the LMS on the annual Requiem at Westminster cathedral with bishop Alan Hopes. I think it is good that it now seems to be a requirement to be an auxiliary bishop in Westminster that you can and are willing to celebrate the Extraordinary Form. Then I suppose they get farmed out as diocesan bishops and so a diocese gets a bishop ho can celebrate the whole Roman rite which is still not the case everywhere. However it would still be encouraging to see the archbishop of Westminster himself celebrate this Mass. I suppose it will take time to bed down and at the minute they still have the excuse that Pope Benedict has neither celebrated it as pope nor attended a celebration. Let`s hope at least one of the northern bishops will accept the invitation of the LMS to attend the next Ushaw training week in 2010. Surely a bishop is a bishop for all the Catholics in his care not just the ones that share his own tastes.
I see this week`s Tablet is tipping bishop Hopes to be the first Ordinary for the Anglican ordinariate in England.

Here are the pictures and report.

Bishop Hopes at the Altar

Bishop Hopes Giving Communion at the Rail

Bishop Hopes and His Ministers in the Sacristy (from left: Gordon Dimon, LMS MC; Fr Michael Cullinan, Deacon; Bp Hopes; Fr Michael Dunne, Sub-deacon; Fr Andrew Southwell, Assistant Priest

23 November 2009

* Westminster Bishop celebrates Traditional Mass for the First Time
* Latin Mass Society Celebrates Its Annual Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral

The Rt Rev. Alan Hopes, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, celebrated a High Mass of Requiem in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 14 November for the repose of the souls of all deceased members and supporters of the LMS. Father Andrew Southwell was Assistant Priest, Fr Michael Cullinan was Deacon and the Sub-deacon was Fr Michael Dunne of the cathedral staff. Gordon Dimon of the LMS was MC. Bishop Hopes also preached on the theme of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a bridge between the saving events of Our Lord’s Passion and the men and women of our own time with all their hopes and fears.

A congregation of some hundreds heard the men of the Cathedral Choir sing the plainsong Requiem Mass together with the plainsong Adore Te Devote at Communion.

The Mass was followed by the traditional ceremonies of Absolutions at the Catafalque and before Mass, a wreath was laid by Mr Kingsley Lewis, Deputy Chairman of the LMS, and other LMS 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 Andrew Southwell read prayers for the occasion.

John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS, said afterwards: “This was the first time that Bishop Hopes had celebrated the Traditional Mass and the LMS is most grateful to him for the great care he took in learning the Rite. We also thank Canon Christopher Tuckwell, the Cathedral Administrator, and his staff for the friendly welcome we always receive in the cathedral”.

Note: The Extraordinary Form has now returned to many of our cathedrals throughout England and Wales and the LMS is actively seeking to introduce further Masses.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LMS Confirmations.

I received the following information from the LMS regarding the recent confirmations in London. Good to see that these are still going on and I`m sure part of the excitment for the children is a day out in London, if they are from outside the city, but I hope we will see this happening elsewhere round the country before too long. Well done LMS.


12 November 2009

* Westminster bishop confers Traditional Rite confirmations

Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, administered Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Rite) at St James’ Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday 7 November. 32 candidates received the sacrament – 27 children and 5 adults. This was the sixth year of the annual ceremony organised by the Latin Mass Society.

As usual, permission for the Old Rite Confirmations had been given by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, now Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster.

The candidates’ day began with a catechetical meeting in the Lady Chapel with Bishop Stack. The Confirmation ceremony followed and the liturgical ceremonies were concluded with Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The choir and organist of Spanish Place provided the music, and a large congregation of over 400 family and friends joined them in singing the Veni Creator Spiritus and other traditional hymns. During the anointing, the choir sang polyphony and plain chant.

After the ceremonies, a reception for the bishop and congregation was held in the crypt. Bishop Stack met and chatted with the newly-confirmed and their families and cut the celebratory cake.

Doctor Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, thanked Bishop Stack for his pastoral concern for those attached to the Extraordinary Form and led the families and children in a rousing round of applause.

Bp Stack greets the children in the Lady Chapel.
Bp Stack conferring Confirmation

Ceremonies and the crowded nave

Children helping Bp Stack to cut the celebratory cake

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sign of the Times?

This morning`s post brought a vestment catalogue from church suppliers, Ormsby of Scarisbrick. Another supplier sent a catalogue a few weeks ago and I remember pointing out to anyone would listen, after Mass, that they always seem to have a picture on the front of these things of a beautiful, intricately-decorated vestment and then the usual horse-blanket style chasubles inside.

I browsed through the Ormsby catalogue and was surprised to see for the first time I can remember, a number of Roman-style chasubles included. Now I know that the EF does not require Roman vestments. I happen to prefer them myself but it isn`t the end of the world if I wear a Gothic vestment and normally I will choose to wear something Gothic a couple of times a week. However it is fair to say that a few years ago there would have been no demand for such things so they must be responding to requests and those requests must come from people looking for something more hermeneutically continuous. (Before I get a deluge of comments, I should say I know about the history of vestment design and am using the term in its loosest sense.)

The advertised vestments come with stole, veil and burse but alas no maniple so are not that useful for the EF anyway. I also have to say that I am quite particular about the vestments I buy and none of the designs on offer appealed to me but I thought it was worth blogging about. Some of the Gothic examples they have are rather attractive.

Oh and the picture on the front of the catalogue has a priest and deacon in Mass vestments with their backs to the viewer. Maybe next year there will be a subdeacon too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Last call for Rome priests` conference

This week I booked to go to the conference for the Year of the Priesthood to be held in Rome between 4th and 8th January. I had mentioned this many months ago. It is being organised by the Conference of Catholic Clergy from the USA and the Australian sister organisation. You can see the impressive programme here. I believe it is still possible to book places. The venue was originally the Casa Pastor Bonus but now the conference has access to the Domus Sanctae Marthae built in the Vatican city to accommodate cardinals during the conclave but used for other events too. However as accommodation is booked on a first come, first served basis those of us booking this week will probably still be in the Casa Pastor Bonus which I`m told is only ten minutes walk away. As you will see from the programme, the renowned priest-blogger, Fr Tim Finigan, is the guest speaker at the main conference dinner. Plenty of cardinals are involved as well as archbishop Burke of the Signatura. Liturgies will be in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms. An accomplished choir have been employed to provide glorious music.
I believe that 60 priests have booked to go so far. It should be a wonderful occasion and provide an opportunity for meeting priests of sound outlook.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mgr Langham on Anglicanorum Coetibus

The former dean of Westminster cathedral who now works in Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity offers his thoughts about the Apostolic Constitution on Vatican Radio here: click the audio link (under the words Anglicanorum Coetibus) to hear the interview.

Anglicanorum Coetibus

So now we have the document for the reception of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church. I wonder when we will see it start to take shape? The question of celibacy of future ordinands is left slightly open in that while celibacy is the norm the local Anglican Use ordinary can petition the Holy See for the admission of a married man to Holy Orders. The text runs:

§ 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

One other question that occurs to me, thinking ahead. If a convert comes to the Catholic Church from an Eastern Orthodox background, they become members of whichever equivalent Eastern Rite is in communion with the Holy See, even if they were received by a Latin rite priest. Will the same apply now for converts from an Anglican background? Will they become Anglican Use Catholics or will they still be able to choose to become members of the local Latin rite Catholic diocese?

Interesting times ahead.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Una Voce and Leo Darroch

You may have seen elsewhere on the blogosphere that the committee of the International Federation Una Voce went to Rome recently and their president was introduced to the Pope. This may not mean a lot to some people so let me explain. The Federation is the umbrella organisation for the many branches of Una Voce around the world. The federation has existed since 1967 although its roots go back to 1965. It is a lay movement which exists to preserve the traditional form of the Roman liturgy. The English Latin Mass Society is a member. For a full explanation see here.

Naturally with the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum their work has assumed a higher profile and the committee submits reports to Rome about its implementation. In this picture we see the Holy Father being presented with the latest report on October 28th.

The current president is Leo Darroch. He is well known among Latin Mass supporters in this diocese as he lives here. Hexham and Newcastle has a very high profile layman in the person of Leo. Let`s hope his good work bears fruit.

Northern Cross

The diocesan newspaper, the Northern Cross, which comes out on the first weekend of the month, takes a bit longer to get to Forest Hall: we got ours during the week. I was intrigued to see an article on page 12 about the celebration held here on October 3rd for La Virgen de Pilar. I hadn`t sent anything in but from the article it looks as if it was lifted from my account on this blog. I suppose it would have been nice to have had the blog acknowledged as the source but it`s not that important.
There is a large article on page two which gives an account of the bishop`s meeting with the `Council of the Laity` which has a picture of him and five female members of the council. In it the bishop sets out some of his ideas for leading the diocese. It is stated that the aim should be to `have everyone feeling valued and using their gifts and talents`. I hope this extends to the clergy too!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

London Colney

The LMS magazine, Mass of Ages arrived today. The front cover reminded me that I had received a few photos of the London Colney training conference which I had forgotten to publish. All seems to be in place for the Ushaw conference in April next year. Here are the pictures.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

North East Catholic History Society

This afternoon at 2 pm at St Andrew`s, Worswick St, Newcastle upon Tyne, the distinguished Newman scholar, Dr Sheridan Gilley, will speak on Newman and the crisis of Capitalism. All welcome. Non-members £1.

Monday, November 02, 2009

All Souls

Just a reminder that there is a Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St Mary`s tonight at 7pm.

Today I went to Benton cemetery to bless graves. I wanted to do this on All Souls itself but wondered if many people would come because of it being during the day but I`m glad to say there was a much bigger turn out than last year of people who wanted to pray for their departed relatives.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Traditional `Anglican` Communion?

I hope we get some details soon about the Apostolic Constitution. Presumably as we have had the press conference it is written and ready to publish. I still think it is a brilliant gesture towards Anglicans who are seeking to find full communion with the Holy See. However recent conversations have thrown up a couple of points. I hear Anglican converts , both clergy and lay, asking what are the distinctive features of Anglicanism which Rome is seeking to preserve? I suppose we have to look to the Anglican Use parishes in the USA to get an idea. Also there seems uncertainty whether Rome will allow the ordination of married men to continue in the new ordinariate. Archbishop Hepworth says he believes this is the case, others seem to think not. Time will tell. However I found out that I know a couple of TAC clergy already. What is interesting is that like archbishop Hepworth himself they were previously Catholic clerics. The two I know were ordained for Ecclesia Dei institutes, one being a founding member of the FSSP (also here) and the other a deacon with the Institute of Christ the King: both were converts to Catholicism from Anglicanism before reverting. Maybe there are more. I have heard it said that the clergy will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Since it seems some have been ordained Catholic priests and others by episcopi vagantes and others by Anglican bishops that will certainly be true.
UPDATE: Thanks to Et Expecto for drawing my attention to today`s announcement. New candidates for the priesthood are to be celibate. It looks as if Fr McCready got married just in time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the Supreme Importance of the Liturgy

Many thanks to the NLM for making these words of Cardinal Cañizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, available from an interview given to Catalunya Cristiana in Barcelona, at the end of his first year in that position. Good to see that the need for liturgical formation is recognised and that there is an awareness of the lack of a sense of mystery. I particularly like the line `The liturgy always looks towards God, not the community; it is not the community that makes the liturgy, but it is God who makes it.` and `We must recover the man who adores.`
Here are the relevant passages:

How can the sense of the liturgy be recovered?

At present we work in a very quiet manner on an entire range of issues having to do with educative projects. This is the prime necessity there is: a good and genuine liturgical formation. The subject of liturgical formation is critical because there really is no sufficient education [at the moment]. People believe that the liturgy is a matter of forms and external realities, and what we really need is to restore a sense of worship, i.e. the sense of God as God. This sense of God can only be recovered with the liturgy. Therefore the Pope has the greatest interest in emphasizing the priority of the liturgy in the life of the Church. When one lives the spirit of the liturgy, one enters into the spirit of worship, one enters into the acknowledgment of God, one enters into communion with Him, and this is what transforms man and turns him into a new man. The liturgy always looks towards God, not the community; it is not the community that makes the liturgy, but it is God who makes it. It is He who comes to meet us and offers us to participate in his life, his mercy and his forgiveness ... When one truly lives the liturgy and God is truly at the centre of it, everything changes.
So far away are we today from the true sense of the mystery?
Yes, there is currently very great secularization and secularism, the sense of mystery and the sacred has been lost, one does not live with the spirit truly to worship God and to let God be God. This is why it is believed to be necessary constantly to be changing things in the liturgy, to innovate and that everything has to be very creative. This is not what is needed in the liturgy, but that it really be worship, i.e. recognition of the One who transcends us and who offers us salvation. The mystery of God, which is the unfathomable mystery of his love, is not something nebulous, but is Someone who comes to meet us. We must recover the man who adores. We must recover the sense of the mystery. We must recover what we never ought to have lost. The greatest evil that is being done to man is trying to eliminate from his life transcendence and the dimension of the mystery. The consequences we are experiencing today in all spheres of life. They are the tendency to replace the truth with opinion, confidence with unease, the end with the means ... Therefore it is so important to defend man against all the ideologies which weaken him in his triple relationship to the world, to others and to God. Never before has there been so much talk of freedom, and never before have there been more enslavements.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is going on at the Forward in Faith Assembly?

The website for Forward in Faith offers podcasts of the proceedings. The most useful site I have found to keep up with what is going on and how the assembly is reacting to the offer of an Anglican Ordinariate is on Br Stephen`s Sub Tuum blog. Here is his report on what bishop Hind, archbishop Hepworth and some of the younger clergy had to say:

First, it has been reported in the Telegraph that John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, is practically at the doorstep of St. Peter's. This was not at all how I heard his speech yesterday, which I didn't report on individually. The money quote in his speech to my mind was, " Everything points to the wisdom of holding steady just at the moment." From there he went on to raise his concerns about whether the ordinariates would be a real ecclesial community or merely a place for nostalga. He described the prospect of being merely a "religious movement" within the Roman Catholic church as "bleak." From there, he went on to defend the ARCIC vision of the Church of England as arriving at full communion with Rome as a worthy ecumenical partner. In short, he has stated that he's willing to be reordained, but he did not seem eager to do it tomorrow.

Archbishop Hepworth made a very successful speech praising the Holy Father's generosity, assuaging doubts and taking naysayers. He actively put the best possible face on the future for the delegates saying that they had be assured that they would be treated as Anglican Catholics, just as there are Roman, Ukranian, and Maronite Catholics--that while the ordinariates were not a rite, they looked an awfully lot like one. He said that they had been offered an ecclesial body for Anglicans that protects those crucial elements of spirituality, liturgy, theology, history, and discipline, that are part of the distinctive Anglican patrimony. He says that TAC national synods will be asked to begin voting their acceptance of the Holy Father's offer immediately.

Most importantly, Archbishop Hepworth assured the assembly that they would continue to be able to have married priests by way of dispensations which would be given generously. The early statements on this point were less clear than this. Obviously, this is a bombshell, not just for those gathered but for the entire Latin Rite. Progressive analysts had already seized on this point after the initial announcement of the apostolic constitution and we can count on much, much more being said in days to come.

Archbishop Hepworth had to reassure the assembly and those listening that this was what they had asked and prayed for for decades and now it had been generously given to them. To Catholics and to especially my fellow converts, since we often carry the biggest chips on our shoulders, who want to rage about the evils of Anglicanism and want people to come crawling, chastened, and cowed, remember that it is the Holy Father himself who has chosen to kill the fatted calf. It seems that the least we can all do is make merry. Reviewing the parable of the wages of the laborers in the vineyard might do us all some good.

The session with young priests and ordinands was the most heartening. Naturally you have to temper this a bit given that those who are yet to start their careers and those near the end have the fewest issues to deal with in joining the ordinariates, but it was still incredibly heartening.

Here are a few quotes:

I am in absolute awe of the Holy Father.

First I am a Christian, then I am a Catholic, and then I am an Anglican. I look forward to the day when I can fully be a Catholic Christian.

It is time we said thank you to the Holy Father. I look forward to the day we can say 'our Holy Father. Pope Benedict, thank you for all of us.

Archbishop DeNoia asked the Dominicans to pray for this intention ... now it is time for us to pray and ask for grace and humility to see beyond our agendas.

Wouldn't you be happy to have them as your priests?

The reports from the members of Synod were less encouraging and more in favor of working through the Church of England legislative process until there's truly no hope. That's been the agenda these folks have given everything but their lifeblood for over the last few years. Don't judge them too harshly.

So here is some information for those who ask what is distinctive enough about Anglicanism to justify setting up a ordinariate.

Other reflections of interest are those of the recent convert priest Jeffrey Steel who is in Durham.

Maybe this week we will hear more of the details of what is involved.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Liturgical Confusion

“The (Second Vatican Council’s) Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stipulated vernacular language, not sacred language,” he added. “Did Jesus ever speak to the people of his day in words beyond their comprehension? Did Jesus ever use terms or expressions beyond his hearer’s understanding?”

So spoke bishop Trautman, former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ liturgy committee on October 22nd. Surely this isn`t right. The Second Vatican Council did not `stipulate` the use of the vernacular: it allowed it where it was thought to be useful. Latin remains the official language of the Roman liturgy. Also when Jesus was preaching he used language that people could understand but when he was praying he used Hebrew which was not the vernacular of the day but had come to be a sacred language by then. The language of the liturgy has never been the simple language of colloquial conversation. When Latin was adopted in the fourth century it was not the Latin of the street but a heightened form of the language. For more on this see Fr Hunwicke.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mgr Pozzo on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum

Many thanks to the NLM for this translation of an interview with Mgr Pozzo of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. It is very pleasing to see refuted the objection that the Extraordinary Form is only for those who have difficulty in coming to terms with the Ordinary Form but also for the young and that the request for the bishops to report on how things are going after three years is nothing to worry about.

Monsignor, a widespread restrictive interpretation of the motu proprio argues that the Papal provision is primarily if not exclusively, directed towards those groups and institutes that were already attached to the traditional form, and is not, by contrast, intended in any way to promote the extraordinary form. To this had already answered Card. Castrillón Hoyos, saying in London, in June 2008, that the Pope would actually like to have the 'Gregorian Rite' in all the parishes. What is your opinion?

The Motu Proprio is addressed to all the Catholic faithful who desire the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy, not just to those who, prior to its promulgation, were attached to the ancient form of the Roman rite. Certainly it does intend to accomodate these latter and to heal old wounds, but the purpose of the document is also to allow the spreading of the extraordinary form, for the benefit of those who do not know it yet (for being too young to have had it experienced), or of those who rediscover with joy the Mass of their youth. The ever increasing spread of this liturgical treasure, [sc. which is] the Church's patrimony, can bring many benefits, spiritual and vocational, also through the mutual enrichment between the two forms of the Roman rite.

The Pope's letter accompanying the motu proprio refers to a term of three years, after which reports of the bishops will be collected to assess the situation. That may mean, as some argue, that the liberalization of the old Missal stipulated by the motu proprio is to be understood ad experimentum, or at least that at the end of this evaluation there may be restrictions regarding the the extraordinary form, such as for instance the return to a regime similar to that of the indults of 1984 or 1988?

The three-year term simply refers to a balance of the first three years of application. If there turn out to be serious difficulties, appropriate remedies will be found, always keeping in mind the essential purpose of the motu proprio.

From many parts obstacles opposed to the implementation of the motu proprio have been reported. We, too, have experienced them... What should an adequate group of lay people who find themselves in such situations of difficulty do to obtain a weekly Mass in the extraordinary form? And in what way can the Commission Ecclesia Dei intervene?

The answer is already written in the motu proprio: ask the parish priest and possibly look for a priest ready [sc. to celebrate, or learn to celebrate, the extraordinary form]. Should this prove impossible, it is necessary to turn to your bishop, who is called to seek an appropriate solution. If even this way no satisfaction of the request is obtained, write to the Commission Ecclesia Dei, which, however, deals with the bishops, who are naturally our interlocutor: they are asked for an assessment of the situation, to see what the actual difficulties are and how to find a remedy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Divorce and re-marriage and the Anglican Ordinariate

I`m wondering what will happen in the case of new members of the Anglican ordinariates who are divorced and re-married and in good standing according to their present provisions. There could be quite a lot of new work for our tribunals, or will they have their own tribunals? If so where will they get the canonists? Just a passing thought.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans

No doubt everyone will have seen this morning`s news about the new structure for Anglican converts to be set up by the Holy See. It will enable them to maintain aspects of their Anglican identity including married priests (but not married bishops). I am very pleased to see that this is going to happen and wish someone had had the vision to set this up back in the 90`s when there was a large influx of Anglican clergy into the Catholic Church. It was discussed then but Cardinal Hume was against it, I seem to recall.

I`m not sure if this means that we will just be accepting married Anglican clergy now or whether new married priests will be ordained for the Ordinariate. I suppose it has to be the latter. That will make for an interesting situation. However I wonder how much interest there will be in England? George Pitcher, the Religion Editor of Telegraph Media has this to say:

All I would add is that this is marvellous news for the Church of England’s prospects for making up women priests to bishops, without creating an Anglican schismatic bloodbath. Traditional Anglo-Catholics, many of whom do not want to relinquish their Anglican identity, have had nowhere to go on this issue, other than conversion to Rome with a complete abandonment of Anglicanism.

Pope Benedict has thrown them a timely lifeline. He has also thrown one to Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. The issue of women bishops, approved by the Church of England’s Synod, was running into the sand, with a controversial proposal this month to impose a two-tier structure, with male bishops still having oversight in dioceses over those Anglicans who couldn’t accept women’s episcopacy. Women priests quite rightly resisted the suggestion that they would be second-class bishops.

Pope Benedict has effectively provided a province that the Anglican Church couldn’t. Traditional Anglo-catholic Anglicans can go there, under the oversight of former Anglican prelates; married Anglo-Catholics might even be ordained into the Roman Catholic Church. There really is no excuse for Anglo-Catholics who can’t accept women bishops now. They must accept the Pope’s offer, or stay in the Anglican Church and accept women bishops. It’s no longer a case of put up or shut up, but rather go with an Anglican blessing, or stay with the Anglican way.

It`s an interesting point of view. What will happen about church buildings? I can`t imagine most Catholic bishops being interested in new ones as they are making plans to close down a portion of what they have. However as these former Anglicans will be under their own bishops and not Catholic diocesan bishops that won`t be their problem.

We could be in for lively times ahead. Will this be a model for bringing back the SSPX? There was talk a while back of a similar structure for the Extraordinary Form so that devotees need not suffer at the hands of unsympathetic local bishops. I`m not so sure that this would be a good idea now as it would make a ghetto out of the EF whereas with Summorum Pontificum it is becoming slowly (and painfully slowly at times), part of the life of the whole Latin Rite.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meeting of the Northern Tribunals

Last week I went to Windermere for the annual meeting of the northern tribunals. It`s a while since I`ve been to one of these but it was a pleasant experience and good to meet others working in tribunals of the Church. I have borrowed the group photo taken by the bishop of Lancaster`s secretary which appears on the bishop`s blog.

In the morning, after the bishop of Lancaster had welcomed us, Mgr John Conneelly of the Westminster tribunal gave us a paper on the nature of marriage in the Orthodox Church and how this may have relevance for our work. I had sometimes wondered that since we say the Orthodox have valid sacraments, how do we cope with their discipline which allows a second or third marriage? If an Orthodox is in a second or third marriage, which is valid according to their law, do we accept that marriage if it becomes an issue in Catholic life? The answer is no we don`t: they would need a declaration of nullity from a Catholic tribunal for their first (and second) marriage.

In the afternoon Fr Brian Murphy, the Judicial Vicar of Liverpool, gave us some food for thought on how we may make the work of the Liverpool appeal tribunal easier by having a more uniform procedure throughout the Northern Province.

Next year we meet in Newcastle.

Extraordinary Form Pontifical Mass in St Peter`s Rome

I know this was all over the blogosphere yesterday but I just wanted to mention it too for those who maybe don`t read a lot of blogs. Fr Tim Finigan has an interesting post on the obstacles put in the way of anyone who was trying to find this Mass. (I`ve used the picture he chose too, as it is the best of those available.) However the first EF Pontifical Mass in St Peter`s, Rome for forty years or so is a great breakthrough. The celebrant is archbishop Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. It must be exciting to be in Rome these days.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Douai Martyrs

The feast of the Douai Martyrs on October 30th is one of the major feasts of the year at Ushaw College, Durham. The college is one of two direct descendants of the seminary at Douai and last year celebrated its 200th anniversary at the Ushaw site. The Douai Martyrs were the more than 160 priests arrested and executed for working as priests in England in penal times of whom eighty have been beatified.
This year a number of priests of Hexham and Newcastle have decided to get together to celebrate a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the feast. This will be at 7pm on Friday 30th October at the Sacred Heart and English Martyrs at Thornley, Co Durham. All welcome. Any priest is welcome to come and sit in choir for the Mass. There will be a buffet afterwards.

On the True Understanding of Vatican II

I was much encouraged by this pastoral letter of Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, USA, as reported today on the Catholic Culture site under the heading, Iowa bishop blasts ‘spirit of Vatican II,’ calls it ‘a ghost or demon that must be exorcised."

Here is the part that is quoted:

The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult? Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarreled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.
On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform,” of renewal in the continuity of the one subject – Church – which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council …
It is crucial that we all grasp that the hermeneutic or interpretation of discontinuity or rupture, which many think is the settled and even official position, is not the true meaning of the Council. This interpretation sees the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Church almost as two different churches. It sees the Second Vatican Council as a radical break with the past. There can be no split, however, between the Church and her faith before and after the Council. We must stop speaking of the “Pre-Vatican II” and “Post-Vatican II” Church, and stop seeing various characteristics of the Church as “pre” and “post” Vatican II. Instead, we must evaluate them according to their intrinsic value and pastoral effectiveness in this day and age …
The so-called “spirit” of the Council has no authoritative interpretation. It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.
Stirring stuff!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I was right about Blue Peter.

A few weeks ago I decided to preach on the life of St Thérèse of Lisieux in preparation for visit of her relics. I began by saying that my first memory of St Thérèse was through watching a feature on the story of her life on Blue Peter. When I stopped to think about it, it now seems highly unlikely that such a programme as Blue Peter would do a feature like that and I began to wonder if I had imagined the whole thing or had got mixed up.
Yesterday I was talking to someone who had been to a preparation session for the arrival of the relics . As part of the session they were shown the Blue Peter feature. Peter Purves told the story. I was so pleased to hear that I had been right and that it had really happened. My informant had searched for the episode on YouTube but it isn`t there. Maybe one day it will appear. I don`t suppose Blue Peter gave the tour of the relics any publicity this time.
I see the relics blog has published the numbers of visitors at each location. Newcastle with 5,000 didn`t really do that well: York managed 10,000 and Leeds 14,000. Still it certainly caught the imagination of people round the country. There`s an article in today`s Telegraph on the visit which tries to say what it all meant.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Tutorial Videos on the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

Here is a series of Youtube videos giving instruction on celebrating the Extraordinary Form of Mass. The commentary is in Italian but I`m sure it will be useful to those who don`t have Italian who may use it in conjunction with Fortescue or Zualdi. I particularly liked the demonstrations of how not to do things together with a large X across the screen. It is good to see it is catching on in Italy. When I was in Tuscany last year I was pleasantly surprised to see how many churches had the EF. Thanks to Giorgio Roversi for the link.

Here`s one part of the series:

UPDATE: Now available with English commentary here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Viva Nuestra Señora La Virgen Del Pilar!

Today at the request of some of our Filipino parishioners we had a Mass and celebration for La Virgen Del Pilar. I had heard of this devotion in Spain, at Saragossa, but wasn`t aware of the Filipino equivalent. The actual feast is on October 12th but people`s commitments meant it bringing it forward to today. Our Lady of the Pillar is patroness of Zamboanga city in Mindanao. The history is very interesting and can be found here. The fortress was dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar in 1718.

Wikipedia says:

On September 21st, 1897 the virgin made an apparition, according to the people who witnessed it they saw the virgin standing mid-air over the Basilan Strait, she had her right hand raised to signal the onrushing waves to stop, saving the city from a tsunami.

I learned at the party today that also in the 1970`s, Zamboanga City was saved from a tsunami. At the Mass we prayed for all the victims of the recent bad weather in the Philippines. After Mass there was a party in the parish hall. I was surprised to learn that everyone at the Mass and party was from Zamboanga. I had mentioned the Mass on the parish newsletter and hope that now I have the idea of what it is about we will have a celebration next year on the date and that the rest of the parish may want to join in. It is good to enrich our parish life with festivals like this. Here are a couple of pictures of the food and of course the lechón, without which no serious Filipino party is complete. (Vegetarians may wish not to look!)

At the end of Mass we had the hymn for the Virgin of the Pillar. Here it is:
Virgen Santa Madre mia
Luz Hermosa claro dia
Que la tierra Zamboanguena
Que dignaste visitar
Este pueblo que te adora
De to mor, favour implora
Y te aclama y te bendice
Abrazando a tu pilar...
Pilar sagrado, faro esplendente
Rico presente de caridad
Pilar bendito, trono de Gloria
Tu a la Victoria nos llebaras
Tu a la Victoria nos llebaras
Cantad, cantad himnos de amor y alabanza
Cantad, cantad a La Virgen del Pilar
Cantad, cantad himnos de amor y alabanza
Cantad, cantad a La Virgen del Pilar....2x

Friday, October 02, 2009

St Thérèse in Newcastle

On Wednesday night I went down to St Andrew`s in Worswick St to visit the relics of St Thérèse. I got there at about 9.30 and found there was quite a long queue. However it kept moving and in all it was only about a fifteen minute wait to get in. By the time I left at about 10.15 there was no queue.

What I enjoyed most about the visit was that feeling that we are part of the universal Church: that these relics have been all over the world drawing Catholics to them in unity of faith. Sometimes in England it feels that we are going our own way and that developments in other parts of the Church don`t reach these shores. It has been mentioned recently that Cardinal Hume would not give permission for these relics to tour England while he was alive. I`d forgotten about that and remember being angry about it at the time. Maybe the cardinal who had worked hard to bring Catholicism into the mainstream of English life thought that if we were presented as a `bone-worshipping religion` to the outside world it would diminish his efforts. However there is no denying that the cult of relics has always been part of the Catholic faith although much eclipsed in recent times. Peter Brown`s book `The Cult of the Saints` I found quite exciting on this subject as he revealed the importance of the cult of relics in the early Church.

In the event it has been a good thing. It was encouraging to see so many people in St Andrew`s church and to see not just older people but a lot of younger ones too. I recognised a good few parishioners and a couple of attendees at the local SSPX church who sometimes come to the EF Masses in Longbenton. I wonder if many of the local SSPX followers went or whether they thought it was all tainted by being in a church where the OF is celebrated?

Above all it has made me revisit`The Story of a Soul` again and renew my acquaintance with the life of St Thérèse for which I`m grateful. Madame Evangelista has posted on her earlier visit that day. I spoke to one of our teachers today who had gone at 4.30 am and said there was a good crowd. If the result is that people think about prayer and heaven then I`m sure it will have been a great source of grace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today`s the Day.

The relics of St Thérèse arrive in Newcastle today. I have failed to mention it so far but there is a blog following the visit round the country which makes interesting reading. You can find it here. Here is the programme for Newcastle:

Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux

Wednesday 30th September 2009
3.00 pm Arrival Service
3.30 pm General Veneration
7.30 pm Bishop’s Mass
8.30 pm General Veneration
11.30pm Evening prayer of the church

Thursday 1st October 2009
Midnight All Night Vigil
8.00 am Mass for St Therese’s feast day
9.00 am General Veneration
10.00 am Departure Service
10.30 am Departure of Relics

Priests will be available for Anointing of the Sick up to midnight on Wednesday and from 7.30 am to 10.30 am on Thursday.
Priests will available for confessions up to midnight on Wednesday.

The Mass with the bishop was originally billed as being ticket-only but now it isn`t.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at Forest Hall

This year, at the beginning of September, for the retreat day for our confirmation candidates, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal came up from Bradford. We were happy to welcome Fr Thomas and brothers Seraphim and Felice. I took a group photo but it was too blurry so here is the only usable photo of the day which is not ideal but better than nothing.
The friars led our young people in prayer and discussion and I hope the day will bear fruit. It is not often that young people round here get the chance to meet anyone in religious life. I`m sure the authentic Franciscan spirit and joy of the friars cannot fail to be infectious and hope that now they have met the community we may be able to get some enthusiasm going for events such as the annual Walsingham renewal weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Should the Pope come to Tyneside?

In 1982 Pope John Paul II came to York which of course has great historical significance for the English Church. It was a mid-way point where the Catholics of Yorkshire and the North East could go to share in the papal visit. It would be understandable, given his advanced age, if Pope Benedict makes a shorter visit to these isles. It is said he will visit London and Birmingham ( and maybe Oxford) but I`ve not been keeping up with the latest proposals. However the local Newcastle paper, the Evening Chronicle, had a poll on whether people would like to see the Pope come to Tyneside. When I last looked there was just over 50% in favour and 49% against. The poll seems to have gone but the article is here.

So is there still a virulent No Popery movement in the North East? I`ve never met much of it although I was directed recently to a blog by an Anglican cleric who works a few miles away which is somewhat less than keen on Pope Benedict.

Well it`s all very exciting and gives us something to look forward to. I`m sure many of us will be prepared to travel, even if it means crossing the border into Scotland if that is the nearest the papal visit comes. Roll on 2010!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bishops must help priests follow their vocation faithfully

Our bishop, Seamus Cunningham, is at this study week for new bishops although I couldn`t see him on this extract. `Bishops` boot camp` was the term our late bishop, Kevin Dunn, used to describe this week.

Forty Hours at 5.15am

This was the scene not long before dawn. All is going well and people seemed to manage without the heating last night so the candles survived the night and I hope they last until tomorrow morning. All the watching slots are now accounted for thanks to some last minute volunteers for some of the early morning slots. I`m always uplifted by the generous response the Forty Hours produces in people who are ready to give up time to be with the Lord.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Forty Hours underway

The Forty Hours is under way and almost every hour is now covered by volunteers to watch. I just hope the candles last. The heaters in church blow hot air around which makes candles gutter (they are also annoyingly noisy) but it is too cold for people to sit for an hour without any heat. Here`s a photo from a few minutes ago.

The Forty Hours

In my last parish, I came across the Forty Hours for the first time. That was in 1995. At St Wilfrid`s, Gateshead they had just kept it going while it had died out in other parishes. It was always a very special time in the parish year and even though the congregation was not large and mostly elderly there was great enthusiasm to keep it going. I offered to stop at midnight and start again at 8am but volunteers always came forward to ensure that there was watching through the night, both nights. I understand that my successor as parish priest, Fr Dixon, has kept it going.

I went to St Wilfrid`s in the week to borrow their candle stands as we are having the Forty hours here at St Mary`s this year. I didn`t think there would be enough interest to fill all the watching slots but most of them have been accounted for. Again I am very pleased that people have volunteered for the night-watching. So we start tonight at 6pm and will continue through to 10am Mass on Tuesday morning. I`m hoping it will help deepen our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and that it will become an annual event ( even if we need to borrow the stands from St Wilfrid`s every year).

Here`s a picture of the altar as it was set up this morning after Mass.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

North East Catholic History Society

I am delighted to say that our diocesan website now has a section on the North East Catholic History Society of which I have the honour of being chairman. There you can find the programme of talks for the next academic year and details about the magazine. Thanks to the diocesan webmaster for her work on this.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Brinkburn 2009

A much larger congregation than I`d feared turned up at Brinkburn on Saturday for the annual High Mass. As mentioned there was an all FSSP team. Fr Emerson was celebrant and Rev Simon Harkin was deacon and Rev Peter Bauknecht was subdeacon. Many thanks to them and to the Rudgate singers, Schola Borealis, organist Peter Locke and the altar servers for making it possible as well as English Heritage. Here are some photos, courtesy of Frank Erskine.