Friday, December 31, 2010

Dominus mihi adjutor

Last night I stumbled across the blog of Fr Hugh of Douai Abbey. His most recent post offers some useful thoughts on the meaning of the Sign of Peace during Mass. I`m working my way through earlier posts and have found much of interest. I was at Douai for the first time a couple of years ago for a priests` retreat led by Fr de Malleray FSSP and we were made very welcome. The blog can be found here.

1610: another forgotten Catholic anniversary

This year there were many performances of the Monteverdi Vespers to mark their four hundredth anniversary of publication: I went to Durham cathedral to hear the Monteverdi choir and John Eliot Gardiner perform them. Next year we are promised much coverage of the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.
This year however saw an important anniversary for English Catholics which appears to have gone almost entirely unmarked in this country. ( The Rorate Caeli blog did mention it in June for the actual anniversary). 1610 saw the publication of the Douai-Rheims Bible. The New Testament had been published in 1582. I don`t understand why we haven`t heard anything about it. However at the AGM of the North East Catholic History Society in September Fr Milburn gave a short talk about it and its importance. It is sad to think that the anniversary fell in the year that the closure of Douai`s northern foundation at Ushaw was announced.
Last year it was the 1300th anniversary of the death of St Wilfrid which went almost entirely unnoticed, this year it is the Douai Bible. Does this come from a lack of confidence in our Catholic identity or just an overdose on the Hermeneutic of Rupture?

Southwell Books

I was very sorry to hear by email today that Southwell Books is closing. It is sad to hear this so soon after Family Publications closed recently too. I presume Carmel of Plymouth is still going and may even have a website by now. It is sad as I often found that some books I was after were not available from Amazon and the ret but could be found at Southwell books. Many thanks to Mike and Mary Lord for all their hard work over the past five years.

News from Wales

A few days ago I received an email from Richard Colins who has the Linen on the Hedgerow blog with a link to Chris Gillibrand`s blog for an article from the Diocese of Menevia Yearbook for 2011. I enjoy Chris Gillbrand`s blog but don`t go there very often as for some reason of all the webpages I know it is by far the slowest to load. However there I found the following extract from a sermon given by the bishop of Menevia in June to conclude the Year of the Priest.
For priests who offended, I'm not sure that their abuses grew out of the rule of celibacy; abuse happens within otherwise good families too. I'm more convinced that it grew out of the clericalism of the past. That clericalism risks raising its head today among those who again are looking for identity in status, not service. They want to be treated differently. There are those who set high standards of morality for lay people, while they blatantly violate those same standards themselves. There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called VAT II rite or Tridentine Rile, through the "People's Mass" or the . "Priest's Mass". Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails. Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound. Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick. To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination. This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.

I see Fr Blake has given a very thoughtful commentary on this passage today on his blog. What he has to say is well worth reading. I only wanted to make a couple of points which occurred to me as Bishop Burns appears to be linking the child abuse scandal to what he says is clericalism. Fr Blake makes the useful point that:
He does not quite identify what he means by "clericalism". He certainly does not identify it as that gross distortion by his brother Bishops who covered up sins against God and crimes against children. Nor does he see it as that distortion of faith by individual priests or bishops under that cover all of abuse of the faith, the Spirit of Vatican II, nor is it the absence of transparency of the Episcopal Conference.
This touches on what I was going to say: that it is more likely that a willingness to break taboos comes when there is scant regard for the sacred. When a priest can treat the Blessed Sacrament as if it was nothing special or think so little of Scripture that he replaces Biblical readings with secular ones during liturgies or any of the other abuses which mean that the Sacred Liturgy becomes a play thing of the celebrant, then I think there is danger.
Another point that interests me is that the bishop appears to be attacking liturgical abuse in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form but then it becomes confused. We read:
Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick.
This can only refer to the Ordinary Form as no-one is allowed to be a reader or distribute Holy Communion at the Extraordinary Form unless they are in at least minor orders for reading or major for distributing the Eucharist. Are there really priests in Menevia who celebrate the Ordinary Form in this way? Fr Blake reminds us that a priest has the right to restrict serving to males as Rome has pointed out but in practice it takes a very strong-willed parish priest to do this and I don`t know of any who does.
That`s all I wanted to say: do read Fr Blake`s comments.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year and Epiphany

Just a quick note for anyone from outside the parish thinking of coming to Extraordinary Form Masses at St Mary`s on these two dates. Masses on New Year`s Day will be an Ordinary Form Mass at 10am and the Extraordinary Form at 11am. This will be a Low Mass.
For the Epiphany, there will be an Extraordinary Form Mass at 7.30 pm. I hope this will be a Sung Mass and that there will be the usual Twelfth Night social afterwards with blessing of chalk etc. However I`ve not heard anything about the social ( or indeed sung) side of things. Please note whereas in past years this Mass has taken place at SS Peter and Paul`s it will now be at St Mary`s.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

`Out of love for us, he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life to a share in the life of God himself.
As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.`
Pope Benedict XVI on Thought for the Day 24.12.10

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Turn towards the Lord!

On the first Sunday of Advent I devoted the sermon to explaining the history of the position of the celebrant at Mass, talking about the ancient Christian tradition of facing East to pray and then how that influenced the construction of churches and how even when a church was not constructed on an east-west axis then there was still value in priests and people facing the same way at Mass for the times prayers are addressed to God. I relied on the works of Mgr Gamber, Fr Lang and the Pope and quoted the passage in Spirit of the Liturgy which speaks of the disadvantage of creating an inward-looking circle at Mass and the advantage of having a attitude of looking out together to what lies ahead and above. (p.80 in Spirit of the Liturgy). I also quoted from Fr. Richard Simon, Pastor of St. Lambert Parish, Skokie, IL. USA, who said that he had had some angry responses to trying it. I read out part of his account of trying it for the first time. And then I carried on the Mass as usual. I had thought of introducing it at that Mass but at that moment it felt better to let people think it over.
The following Sunday I decided I would have to give it a go if I was to ever do it at all. I have been in this parish five years and it has always been in my mind to give it a try even though the church re-ordering was quite drastic and we don`t really have a sanctuary any more just a small raised platform with an unfixed wooden table for an altar. Afterwards I said that this was just an experiment and not to be alarmed if people found it strange. No-one said anything apart from in the sacristy afterwards when a couple of extraordinary ministers of the Holy Communion said they didn`t like it.
When I say Mass facing the people in this church I am facing east. I had mentioned St Peter`s in Rome and Gamber`s suggestion that the people faced east too. I had also mentioned that looking at the altar, and the celebrant, wouldn`t have been that interesting as there was a curtain drawn around the altar during the canon. From the disagreement I got after Mass it seems that my acknowledgement that I was facing east when facing the people but that there was still value in us all turning the same way to look towards the Lord especially in Advent hadn`t made much of an impression.

No-one said that they thought it helped them pray better but I suppose it was all rather new and these things take time. I know of two other priests in this diocese who do this for the Ordinary Form on a Sunday in their parishes although one has now reverted to facing the people. I have used it at school Masses with St Stephen`s school at Longbenton after explaining it to the children and staff and they seem quite happy about it. The Holy Father himself in Spirit of the Liturgy acknowledges that it will be difficult to re-introduce this practice since people have been through so many liturgical changes but he has given a lead of sorts in the Mass he says in the Sistine chapel on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord when he uses the original altar. ( See the picture above.) However with the new translation coming out next year change is in the air and so I thought the time might be ripe for this.
I had quite a number of supportive comments when I mentioned this on Facebook and one priest took the time to ring me up which was very kind. I recognise that people get angry about this because they feel excluded in a way but I think there are important issues at stake and I probably will have another try sometime next year and I`m thinking Ash Wednesday may be an appropriate time.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ushaw Petition

I have some doubts about the efficacy of on-line petitions but when people have no other way of expressing their concern it is understandable that they arise. There is now an on-line petition regarding the future of Ushaw College. There are some quite interesting comments too. You will find it here.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Questions raised in parliament over the future of Ushaw College

The Northern Echo reported on Friday that Pat Glass, MP for northwest Durham, `tabled an early day motion in the House of Commons, expressing fears about the uncertain future of Ushaw College, near Durham`.

The article continues:
Mrs Glass, who lives in Lanchester, said: “Ushaw College is a Roman Catholic college, home to St Cuthbert’s Seminary, which has been forming young men for the priesthood since its foundation and which holds a library that is priceless to the heritage of Catholicism in England and the North-East and consists of grade I and grade II-listed buildings.

“At a time when the Coalition Government’s cuts to the arts are hitting the North-East disproportionately, it is my opinion that we have a duty to protect our historic buildings and heritage here in the region.

“Ushaw College is greatly important to my constituents and the local community.”

Mrs Glass urged colleagues to note the importance of Ushaw College in the area, the concerns that local people have at the closure announcement and to support calls for the decision to be reconsidered.

The motion regarding Ushaw College has been supported by eight other MPs, including fellow regional representatives, Roberta Blackman Woods, Kevan Jones, Mary Glindon and Ian Mearns.

I`m glad to see Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside, our local MP, in this list. In fact the parliamentary website linked to above lists thirteen MPs behind this motion, twelve from Labour and one Conservative.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thanks to the Catholic Herald

I opened the Catholic Herald today and was very pleased to see a report on their Catholic Life centre page feature on the recent Extraordinary Form Mass at Newcastle cathedral under the title `Fr Swales celebrates High Mass in Newcastle`. The article mentions that this was the second time the EF Mass had been celebrated at the cathedral since `the changes`.
I thought this was an event that deserved a bit more coverage than a certain local Catholic paper gave it and am glad it has reached a national paper. The cathedral is a new venue for the EF Mass in this diocese and gives the signal that those attached to the EF have a place in the life of the diocese too.
Thanks to Mike Forbester for the photo.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ushaw College again

Today it was announced that the conference centre side of Ushaw will close on December 31st. The seminary will stay open until June 2011. I wonder what happened to the business proposals to take over the running of the conference centre among which was one organised by Paul Waddington, the LMS treasurer (although this was not an initiative of the LMS itself)? So what fate awaits the buildings at Ushaw? I hope it is a happier one than that of the former seminary at Upholland which seems to be falling into ruin.
Further thoughts on the matter can be found on Joseph Shaw`s LMS chairman`s blog. Ironically the lead story of this month`s Northern Cross is the rise in the number of seminarians in England and Wales. (The last story, tucked away on the very last page, is that of the Extraordinary Form Mass at the cathedral and of all the photos they were sent they (extraordinarily) chose not to print one of the Mass itself but a group photo of the altar servers instead. Maybe a picture of the Mass would be more than NC readers could bear.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bishop MacMahon`s Mass at Leicester

Readers may by now have seen the photos, by Mike Forbester, from the Pontifical High Mass at the Dominican Priory in Leicester for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. It appears to have been a terrific event. According to the reports there was a congregation of over 200. How annoying for the organisers that some of the altar candles appear to have gone out for key moments like the consecration. The bishop preached but I`ve not seen a copy of what he said as yet. After Mass there was the consecration of a new shrine to the English Martyrs. A reflection by the Prior of Leicester has been released for the occasion. It is well worth a read. I can only hope Fr Leon Pereira OP one day makes it to Newcastle`s Dominican house! Here it is.

The Martyrs of England and Wales are sometimes treated as an embarrassment. What they stood for is a reminder of less ‘ecumenical’ times. The temptation is to downplay their commemorations, and instead lump together all victims of religious persecution of the time, Catholic and Protestant, as the so-called ‘martyrs of the Reformation’, simultaneously congratulating ourselves that we have moved beyond such prejudice.

We can call such victims ‘martyrs’ only in an extended sense of the word. Properly speaking, the essence of martyrdom is not dying, but confessing the Truth. The Martyrs realised exactly where they stood. They saw what was at stake, and knew that friendship with God should not be lost at any price, even the price of a painful and gory death; even if conforming to the new state religion would spare their lives, and in some of their cases, earn them the honours and comforts of the world. The point of martyrdom is not death, but witnessing to or confessing the Catholic Faith. That is the meaning of the word ‘martyr’: a witness, a confessor.

This, the heart of martyrdom, is crucially important in our own time, when the Faith needs to be confessed with courage; when the shepherds of the Church must prize the care of their flock over the temptations they face: to be popular, to be loved, to be part of the established set, not to rock the boat. In this light we see what really matters about our Faith, and what is worth dying for. Not campaigns or agendas, but Christ Jesus and the Faith which is His gift, within the unity of the Church established by Him.

The English and Welsh Martyrs are a model of how the Church should function. In our day, ‘collaborative ministry’ is frequently a Trojan horse: tending to situations in the Church which simply cannot be, such as women priests; or to blur the distinction in identity and function between the clergy and laity. All of this is, of course, a massive betrayal of the Second Vatican Council. The Martyrs show us the true face of collaborative ministry: the laity died for sheltering priests – the clergy died for ministering to the laity. ‘Collaborative ministry’ which is unwilling to pay this ultimate price is not worthy of the name.

The Martyrs show us the role of conscience and the price of following theirs. Conscience is not about ‘feeling comfortable’ with one’s choices, but as the ‘aboriginal vicar of Christ’ (as Blessed John Henry Newman calls it), it must heed the Magisterium of the Church in order to be formed properly. In our time conscience is frequently invoked to justify dissent, especially on matters such as contraception (as though conscience were not involved in all our rational choices!).

Moreover we should not assume that the possession of an ‘untroubled conscience’ should never trouble us. A clear conscience should not be confused with a properly-formed conscience. Many of the English Martyrs invoked their conscience to account for their refusal to comply with the state’s injunctions. This is conscience as a challenge to self, rather than conscience as a justification of self. Rather than trivialising conscience, the Martyrs show its great dignity and seriousness.

The Martyrs do not simply inspire us; they aid us by their prayers. Their blood is the seed of Christians: of a Second Spring for England and the world. O white-robed army of Martyrs, pray for us!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bishop Kieran Conry and the Recovery of Tradition

I`m surprised no-one seems to have picked up on a story in the current issue of the Tablet entitled `Bring Back Friday Fasting, says Bishop Conry.`
Apparently the bishop of Arundel and Brighton is keen for Catholics to return to this ancient Catholic practice. I`m so glad to hear it. He is reported as saying that `the practice would strengthen Catholic identity`. I couldn`t agree more. Apparently he was going to bring it up for discussion at the recent meeting of the bishops.
The bishop is quoted as saying: " This was one of the most obvious signs of Catholic identity apart from going to Mass. It determined the diet in places like prison and hospital and was something Catholics were instinctively conscious of: we knew that we couldn`t have meat lie everybody else and it was a source of pride- it marked us out as different"
The Tablet comments that while it was discussed at the bishops` meeting no announcement was made but that an announcement on penance would be made at Lent.
Eamon Duffy was campaigning for this a few years ago. I see this as a very hopeful sign given the reasoning behind the proposal. A strong sense of Catholic identity is something that has been almost completely lost in the years since the Council. Let`s hope we hear more about this.

Immaculate Conception Mass

As Richard Rainbow was anxious to know on behalf of others whether tonight`s Missa Cantata at St Mary`s, Forest Hall, for the Immaculate Conception is going ahead, this is just to say it is. The parish car park is usable thanks to the work of a JCB on Monday. We have singers and servers who say they will be coming. The plan is to have a shared table afterwards. Mass starts at 7.30pm.

Monday, December 06, 2010

News from a faraway place

You may have seen Fr John Boyle`s report on yesterday`s Pontifical Low Mass celebrated by the bishop Sample of Marquette in the USA. In itself this is good news but even better is the news that the bishop intends to offer Mass according to the Extraordinary Form once a month on a Sunday in his cathedral! Although we have bishop MacMahon`s Immaculate Conception Mass coming up it still seems hard to imagine a bishop doing this in this country, especially given the piece in the Tablet a few weeks ago where the bishop`s conference reported little enthusiasm for the Extraordinary Form since Summorum Pontificum in 2007. ( See Joseph Shaw`s blog for a discussion of this). Fr Boyle is a priest of Southwark diocese at present working in the diocese of Marquette.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Immaculate Conception

Assuming the weather improves, there will be a Missa Cantata here at St Mary`s for the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday at 7.30pm. In Leicester at Holy Cross priory there will also be a Mass that day which will be something of a novelty in that it will be a Pontifical High Mass at the throne celebrated by the ordinary, bishop Malcolm MacMahon. As Br Lawrence Lew comments `this will be the first Pontifical High Mass of a bishop in his Diocese [ in this country] for a very long time indeed`. I look forward to reports about the Mass and what the bishop has to say.
Last Sunday our bishop was visiting the Dominican church in Newcastle and preached at all the Masses including the Extraordinary Form Mass at 11.30. However the snow was raging and there were only twelve people in the congregation. Normally I am told by the parish priest, there are about forty. Still not great but better than twelve.

Monday, November 29, 2010

And we think we have it bad....

Today Vatican Information Service news tells of a new diocese being created in Tanzania. Here is the announcement:

Erected the new diocese of Bunda (area 5,530, population 1,023,390, Catholics 335,000, priests 2, religious 2) Tanzania, with territory taken from the archdiocese of Mwanza and from the diocese of Musoma, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Mwanza. He appointed Fr. Renatus Leonard Nkwande, diocesan administrator of Mwanza, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Mantare, Tanzania in 1965 and ordained a priest in 1995.

335,000 Catholics and two priests!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Solemn High Mass at St Mary`s Cathedral, Newcastle

Saturday`s Mass was a great success. The congregation filled the centre aisles of the cathedral. It was hard to estimate how many people were there but the figure of 150 is being quoted on other blogs. It certainly wasn`t any less than that. It shows what can be done when the Extraordinary Form is celebrated at a convenient time and location. Many thanks to all who made it possible on Saturday. Here are some photos, courtesy of Mike Forbester.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Consecration of a cathedral

A friend posted this on Facebook today. (Click on the picture above and you will be taken to the original page to play the video) It is well worth watching as a reminder of how times have changed. As the film doesn`t say at first which cathedral is being consecrated I thought it must be somewhere in Ireland given the way the streets were decorated with papal colours. Amazing to think that this was Liverpool in the 1960`s. I`m not sure anyone would be very bothered if a new cathedral was opened today. For whatever reason, Liverpool seems to have fallen off the ecclesiastical map somewhat in recent times. I wasn`t a fan of archbishop Worlock (nor Liverpool cathedral) but at least under him there was a sense that Liverpool was an important Catholic place. I remember being told by an old priest from South Africa who was from Liverpool that it had been the most thriving diocese in north-west Europe and looking at this video you could believe it.

Quomodo sola sedet civitas plena populo?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bettany Hughes on Woman`s Hour

Given that saying the Extraordinary Form Mass means that the priest is familiar with Latin, given the constant threat to the place of classics in the timetable and given that I do a bit of Latin teaching at Newcastle university, I was interested to read this transcript of an interview with Bettany Hughes (above) from yesterday`s Woman`s Hour on Radio 4.

Woman`s Hour, BBC Radio 4 November 16, 2010

Jenni Murray: Now, even in the sixties, when I was at a state school and Latin was for everybody (Greek only for the very bright) there were plentyof mumblings about pupils wasting their time on dead languages when they could be learning French, German, Spanish and perhaps even Russian or Chinese. Well, it`s not on the National Curriculum and only 17% of state schools teach classics, but there is a new campaign called Classics For All. One of its leaders is Bettany Hughes, whose latest publication is The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life. Bettany,how would you sell Socrates to a class of 21st-century pupils?

Bettany Hughes: Well, I`d tell them that they are living the way they do because Socrates thought the way he did. The very fact that he says “the unexamined life is not worth living” is the reason that they are sitting in school in the first place, because they are there to learn about life. So he is intently relevant.

JM: Why are you so passionate about it, that you chose to write your next major tome about it?

BH: Well, I think he introduces so many things to us the idea that we needto ask questions about life: What is good? What is bravery? What is the point of death? And these are questions that we all ask about ourselves still today and he`s incredibly relevant to our world, because he lived in this kind of `can-do` society, 5th century Athens, where everything was going very well, there was a lot of materialism, they were expanding their empire. But suddenly, everything collapses, democracy doesn`t seem to have the answer to everything, it`s not a panacea, and Socrates is almost a prophet for our age, because he says: what is the point of all of this,what is the point of glittering statues, city walls and beautiful warships if those who live in these cities are not happy? So I think he asks an important question of our time.

JM: Which indeed is being asked at this moment, by the Prime Minister. Alright, now convince this same class that Latin and Greek are worth theeffort.

BH: Well what`s interesting I think my battle would be half-won, if I wereto go into that classroom, erm because we know, I`m the President of athing called JACT (Joint Association of Classical Teachers) and with Friends of Classics we did an independent survey and between 70 and 76% of the pupils we spoke to in 1000 schools all told us that they desperately wanted to learn classical subjects, they wanted to learn Latin, Greek and Classical Civilisation. But the terrible situation that we`re in now is that between 60 and 70 classics teachers retire every year, only 27 are being trained, so they are not being met, their desires are not being met.

JM: But did they say, because you know I suspect those of them who hadparents who went through it, the parents who say “Oh my goodness, do youreally want to go through, you know, `The farmer threw a spear at thebarbarian`?” for instance, she says, with memory. [chuckles]

BH: Indeed. Amo, amas, amat, and all that. Well I think actually that isone of the reasons they do want to learn, because they think that this is this special code-breaking that they as the next generation can do. Er,they love classical subjects. They go in their thousands, their tens ofthousands, their millions to films about the classical world. This filmabout Sparta called The Three Hundred [sic] took 72 million dollars in itsfirst weekend, and most of those were 14 and 15 year-old kids who weredesperate to find out about the ancient world. So it sparks their imagination, and actually what is very interesting is that they`re voting with their feet and they`re saying “Please, can you teach us more? We want to learn”.

JM: But when, politically, you find, alright a former-former-former Education Secretary, Charles Clark, saying “Oh, education for its own sake is a bit dodgy”, how do you counter that political view?

BH: [sighs] I mean, that`s just daft, isn`t it. Because what do we want out of our next generation? We want them to be enlightened and inspired and stimulated, surely, we want theirs to be a generation that has open minds, rather than closed minds. But there are also incredibly practical results that come out of learning Latin and Greek. Er, most of theEuropean languages, all of the Romance languages, are based on Latin. Between 40 and 60% of the words that you and I are speaking now are Greco-Roman in origin, so actually it makes you a great linguist, to learn these subjects, and of course it also teaches you about why we live the way we do. The fact that we have this word `democracy`, that we have`politics` - it is a Greek word, `politics` - helps you to understand the modern world if you, if you know more vividly, and with more nuance, wherethose words and ideas came from.

JM: But how impressed do you think an employer would be, with a kid withstraight-A`s in Latin, Greek and Ancient History, as opposed to the onewho`s done Business, Finance, and I.T.?

BH: The fantastic thing, we have some great statistics, luckily, to backup our campaign. If you talk to Cambridge University, they`ll tell you that of all their Arts graduates, excluding law students, if you call law students Arts graduates, classicists are the most highly employable. And actually, if you go to businesses, across the board, particularly international businesses, they love a classical degree, because it shows you can deal with quite complex data, it shows that you have an interestin the wider world, and it also shows that you have a fundamental interest in humanity, and increasingly, businesses of all kinds are realising that that`s an absolutely essential skill to have.

JM: How did you get your classical education?

BH: Well, I was very lucky. I got a scholarship to a school where there were still classics teachers. There were only three of us who learnt. I mean at this time it was very unfashionable, it was on its way out, but they were brilliant teachers: Veronica Anstee and Mary Sergeant and they inspired us to love this subject. And I think I carried on with it partly in a slightly bloody-minded way because I thought: this is SO importantand it teaches us so much we cannot allow it to die.

JM: And how do you retain that passion for it?
BH: Because the whole world is in antiquity. If you look to the distant past, you see yourself and you understand why we live as we do. And apartfrom that, there are just fantastic stories in antiquity. I love the factthat the poet Sappho first described love as bitter-sweet 26 centuries ago. Although, in fact, she called it sweet-bitter, which is much more accurate!

JM: But why do people say, “Ooeurgh, it`s such an elitist pursuit, oh, she had the benefit of a classical education, lah-di-lah-di-lah”

BH: Again, isn`t that terrible? It was lost from schools partly because people said: this is an elitist subject. How do you make a subject`elitist`? By only teaching it in the most elite schools. So, we know that state schools across the country are genuinely desperate: I get about 100 emails a week from children saying “I want to learn more”, so we set upthis campaign purely so that we can meet that need.

JM: But what about the teachers? I think you`re losing about 60 or 70classics teachers retiring each year. How are you filling up those gaps?

BH: We are, we are losing that number of classics teachers. The good news, though, is that the numbers of students in universities at the moment are 12,000 studying classical subjects, that`s the highest level it`s been at for ten years. So actually, in three or four years` time, we`re going to have a lot of very classically-educated young people who are going to beavailable to teach, and what our campaign is going to do is to give grants to schools who want to invite those new teachers into their schools to dothe work.

JM: Well, Bettany Hughes, thank you very much indeed for being with us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mass at St Mary`s Cathedral, Newcastle

Lest anyone hadn`t realised this Saturday, 20th November, there will be a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St Mary`s Cathedral in Newcastle at 11.30am. Many thanks to the Dean, Fr Leighton, for giving his permission. The celebrant will be Fr Swales, Fr Phillips will be deacon and I will be subdeacon. There will be clergy in sitting in choir too so if any priests would like to join them do bring the requisite gear. The music will be by the Jarrow Schola and the choir of St George`s, Cullercoats (who will sing Victoria`s O Quam Gloriosum` Mass). Many thanks to the local LMS for their help in organising this Mass.

We hope for a good turnout for this Mass in the newly refurbished cathedral. The picture above is from the previous Extraordinary Form Mass held at the cathedral a few years ago.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vocation discernment weekend with the FSSP

Comments are still coming in on the post below concerning Ushaw and vocations. In the light of the videos regarding the FSSP seminary at Denton, Nebraska, readers may be interested to know about the forthcoming vocation discernment weekend with the FSSP at their house in Reading. Fr de Malleray has sent this information which includes statistics about FSSP vocations in general and British vocations in particular.
Vocation discernment week-end at St John Fisher House in Reading on 17-18-19 December 2010
· For men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
· Starts on Friday 17th December 2010 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 19th December 2010 mid-afternoon.
· Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth has allowed for its canonical establishment in Reading on 1st August 2010.
o Address: 17, Eastern Avenue, Reading RG1 5RU.
o Access: 27mn from London Paddington by direct trains up to every 10mn, and from London Waterloo. Direct trains from Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Gatwick Airport, Southampton Airport, etc. Direct ‘RailAir’ buses from Heathrow to Reading train station every 20mn. Motorway: M4.
· Limited overnight accommodation: please book now.
· Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite), silent prayer, private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what is a vocation in general and to the priesthood in particular. Read here the Holy Father’s recent Letter to seminarians. Extract: “The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.”
· Cost: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome ; others: £50 suggested.

· Record breaking: this Autumn (2010), the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter gives thanks for the largest ever number of men admitted as First Year seminarians since our foundation 22 years ago: 48, including two British (one more Briton was admitted but was prevented from entering this year due to imperative work commitments). Deo gratias for so many prospective new workers in the Lord’s Vineyard. Please continue to pray for numerous saintly vocations : in particular for First Year British seminarians Alex and Mark who began their formation last month in Nebraska and Bavaria respectively, for Second Year British seminarian James tonsured last month in Wigratzbad, for Third Year British seminarian Ian to be ordained Porter and Lector next Saturday 20th November in Nebraska, and for British Deacon Matthew McCarthy to be ordained a priest next May in Nebraska.
· The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter runs two international seminaries: one in Europe, Bavaria for German- and French-speakers (International Seminary of St Peter in Wigratzbad); and one in the U.S.A.: so far the only English-speaking Extraordinary Form international seminary in full communion with the Church. Watch here the recently released 28mn video on Our Lady of Guadalupe international Seminary. Or here for our shorter 3mn Vocation video.
· Contact :; website:; International:
Priestly ordinations in the FSSP over the last 11 years
2000: 12; 2001: 15; 2002: 12; 2003: 19; 2004: 17; 2005: 7; 2006: 14; 2007: 8; 2008: 12;
2009: 9 (UK 2); 2010: 12 (UK 1); 2011: ? ( UK 1)

47th Convention of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors in the USA

I was interested to read this address to the National Convention of Vocations Directors in the USA, given on September 14th, on today`s Zenit report. Fr Roscia is the CEO of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, which is new to me. A glance at their website reveals an impressive enterprise. Fr Roscia`s address however raises some interesting points.
He said:

I would also like to address several important questions that are surfacing among those preparing for ministry, and those recently ordained. Why are candidates for ministry and newly ordained priests raising questions about the validity and enduring significance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council? Why does there seem to be a fascination with old liturgical practice and things that appear to be external and superficial? Why is the divide growing between younger priests and older priests? How can we foster dialogue and build bridges between the generations of the presbyterate?
I thought it was interesting that such questions are being asked at the highest level of the vocations world in the Church in the USA. I can`t imagine it being on a similar public agenda in the UK.
However the answer to these questions appears to be that the seminarians and younger priests are simply misguided. He continues:
The pillar of the renewal of priestly life is the liturgy. If the priest does not rediscover the true meaning of the liturgy in his life, he cannot find himself. The liturgy is the place of education to communion. The protagonist of the liturgy is Christ, not the Pope, the Cardinals in Rome, and not even the parish priest. By living the liturgy, we can enter into the life of God, and only thus can we priests journey effectively with the men and women of our time and of all time. Nevertheless the liturgical reform must concern itself not only with texts and ceremonies, rubrics and rituals, vestments and the number of candlesticks on altars, but also with the spiritual hungers of human communities that we serve. Without authentic evangelization, participation in the liturgy is ultimately hollow– an aesthetic pastime or a momentary palliative; without the works of justice and charity, participation in the liturgy is ultimately deceptive, playing church rather than being church.
Nor can we forget that permission for the "Extraordinary Rite" of the Mass was granted for the sake of unity in the Church and nothing else. "The Extraordinary Rite" is exactly that: extraordinary. What is ordinary is what the vast number of our faithful celebrate each week. To impose what was meant to be "extraordinary" on ordinary situations does a great disservice to the unity of the Church and goes against the intent of the Holy Father. To misuse the special permission of the Holy Father for the Extraordinary Rite for political motives causes division. We must be about the work of unity in a Church that is often so divided.
Of course the liturgy must not become divorced from life but unfortunately Fr Roscia doesn`t really understand why anyone would be attracted to the Extraordinary Form. He admits this in the next issue he discusses as he calls it `another perplexing reality`. I found this paragraph interesting too:
Another perplexing reality I have encountered, especially among those in formation and those newly ordained, has been in the area of Sacred Scripture and preaching. A number of students, usually in their final years of the Master of Divinity or Master of Pastoral Theology program have complained saying they would never take another Scripture course again; that their previous Scripture courses had nothing to do with the reality of the church and liturgy and that the courses were "without a soul". This topic was addressed numerous times at the recent 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, a Synod which I experienced in a very significant way, having served as the English language media attaché to this historic, world-wide gathering at the Vatican.
One cause of the present disinterest and seeming impasse in Scriptural studies has been the atomization and dissection of the Scriptures, and a lack of integration of biblical studies with faith and lived spirituality. Are today's Catholic Scripture scholars and teachers adequately prepared to draw from their exegetical knowledge and their own life of faith and prayer to help fellow Catholics discover the meaning of the biblical Word today?
I agree completely with Fr Roscia on this. One of the brightest stars in the modern world of Biblical hermeneutics, Jon Levenson, has written regarding this problem:
The goal was to place the Hebrew Bible in its historical context, and we could do that only if we could reconstruct the cultural world in which its many documents were written—an arduous task but one that bore, and continues to bear, much good fruit.
Almost from the beginning, though, I felt there was a certain problem with this. What the biblical texts meant in the world of their authors is in considerable tension with what they mean today—including what they mean personally to the professors and students who devote themselves to that historical task. But the very method rendered that question of what they mean today one that could not be asked. It belonged somewhere else, to the theologians, for example, or to the preachers. Of course, when the theologians or preachers interpreted the book in light of ongoing tradition and contemporary experience, the historical-critical scholars were none too reluctant to accuse them of taking the Bible out of context.

Apologies in that this is not the normal Forest Murmurs stuff but I think it is relevant here.
A few more thoughts of Fr Roscia gave me hope in that he shows a will to understand:
Many of us are afraid of the new generation, of their robust sense of Catholicism, their manifestations of piety, their desire to "reclaim" many things that have been lost or forgotten. Deep down inside of many of our hearts, we would like clones of ourselves, and not new, free, thinking beings of a new age. There is a great wisdom to the Church's ban on human cloning!
The younger generation easily uses the word "solid" to describe those who are rooted in tradition and unafraid to manifest authentic piety and devotion. The younger generation is wary of those who equivocate and speak around issues rather than addressing them. What can we learn from their questioning? We must learn that we have to avoid the temptation to fudge -- to adapt the Catholic faith so as to make it palatable to modern tastes and expectations. This so-called "accommodationist" approach generally fails. 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. We have to be convinced that the fullness of the truth and beauty of the message of Jesus Christ is powerfully attractive when it is communicated without apologies or compromise.
The Second Vatican Council recommends that older priests show understanding and sympathy toward younger priests' initiatives; and it advises young ones to respect the experience of older priests and to trust them; it suggests that both treat each other with sincere affection, following the example of so many priests of yesterday and today; the parish priest and other priests, including the religious, are called upon to testify to communion in everyday life.
Well said Fr Roscia! At 51 years old I cannot claim to be young but the aspirations he describes in the latest generation of seminarians have always been mine too. Only by listening to each other without prejudice can the older and younger generations of priests and Catholics learn and move forward.
UPDATE 15.11.10 For another take on Fr Roscia`s talk see Vox Cantoris.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Blog

I was glad to see the Holy Family Guild have started a blog. The HFG is a group of families in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle who exist to support each other in Catholic life according to the teaching of Familiaris Consortio. You can find the blog here.
While on the topic of family life it is an opportunity to recall the recent words of Pope Benedict as he spoke about his visit last weekend to Barcelona:

"I prayed intensely for families, the vital cells and the hope of society and of the Church ... My thoughts also went to the young, ... that they may discover the beauty, value and commitment of marriage in which a man and a woman form a family which generously accepts life and accompanies it from conception until natural end. Everything done to support marriage and the family, to help people in need, everything that serves to enhance man's greatness and his inviolable dignity, also helps to perfect society".

Monday, November 08, 2010

Here we go!

Five Anglican bishops resign and declare their intention to enter the ordinariate! I`m delighted by the news and only wish we had been as imaginative in the 90`s.

A modern seminary

This weekend the Northern Cross, naturally, had quite a lot to say about the proposed closure of Ushaw college. As was noted in the Tablet of October 16th there is a group of people led by LMS treasurer Paul Waddington who are willing to finance priestly formation at Ushaw if it includes training in the Extraordinary Form. Personally I thought that the logic of Summorum Pontificum would lead to all seminaries doing this nowadays: it is hard to believe that a man might spend six years at a seminary and not be able to celebrate the Roman rite in all its forms. However not everyone sees it this way.

The FSSP have a seminary in the USA, Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary at Denton, Nebraska. No-one would sell them a seminary so they had to build one from scratch, which opened on its present site in 2000, and it now has 75 seminarians with more applications for places than they have room. What is life like there? Who are the seminarians? Is the training according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on priestly formation? Well if you would like to see there are three videos on Youtube which give an idea of life in the seminary. You will see testimonies from bishops about how happy they are with the training that young men receive there as well as from lay people too (including Hexham and Newcastle`s own Leo Darroch at the start of the second video: Leo is the President of Una Voce International, the international umbrella group for national Latin Mass societies).

The videos are well worth watching:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Santiago de Compostela

The Pope arrives in Compostela today. I was there a few weeks ago with three priests of the diocese. This year as the feast of St James fell on a Sunday it is a Holy Year. The last one was 2004. In that year I organised a pilgrimage which followed the pilgrim route, or camino, landing at Bilbao and then on to the route through Burgos and Leon. Sorry to say we didn`t walk but had a coach. This time we just landed at Compostela airport and stayed a week so probably got even less grace. Two of our group did take the bus about eight miles out and walk in to get a feel for the camino.
Going to Santiago de Compostela is like stepping back in time: to before 2007 to be precise! There was no sign of an Extraordinary Form Mass anywhere which I thought odd for such an important pilgrimage destination. Una Voce Hispania has a list of regular Masses in Spain and on the Una Voce La Coruna site there are pictures of a High Mass celebrated at Compostela by the SSPX. In fact the whole thing was not a great liturgical experince. The cathedral was full of scaffolding as preparations were being made for the papal visit. The famous botafumeiro was nowhere to be seen so we assumed it was away to be cleaned up for the papal visit. I concelebrated at the 12 noon Mass on Sunday. There was no choir but only an elderly canon acting as cantor. No altar servers either apart from another elderly canon. The Mass was just like a normal parish Mass with four hymns and a Sanctus sung in Spanish (or Eucharistic acclamation I suppose). One day a choir from Argentina came and were able to sing a couple of motets during Mass. A visit to the bookshop by the seminary showed no influence of Summorum Pontificum either.
One day we all concelebrated Mass in the tiny chapel containing the relics of St James. This was a surprise as the sacristan led us to a chapel I never thought we would be going there. It was somewhat overwhelming to be so near to these relics which have so coloured the spiritual life of Spain and the Spanish-speaking world.

There were a number of items of interest for English pilgrims. For example on going to through the Holy Door to `hug the apostle` (the statue of St James kept behind the High Altar) in one of the side chapels there is a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

More spectacular was this statue of Our Lady in the Lady Chapel in the monastery church of San Martín Pinario which is now a museum. The notes said it was made in England and brought to Spain by Catholics fleeing Henry VIII. The first mention of it in the monastery archives about 1610 but whenever it got to Spain it was moving to see this bit of English Catholic history in such a glorious setting.

This cheered me up this morning

Des hommes à part
Uploaded by deshommesapart. - More video blogs and vloggers.

Thanks to Giorgio for the link.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Former bishop of Durham speaks about the Ordinariate

I saw this, this morning, in an interview with Tom Wright, former Anglican bishop of Durham and now a research professor at St Andrews University, and thought it interesting:

`Asked to comment on the Vatican's 'Ordinariate' scheme to enable Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church, and the desire in a parish at Folkestone to change allegiance, Bishop Wright said that people had thought that there were "dozens of parishes ready to jump", adding: "Many of the Roman Catholic bishops that I know in England were not terribly happy at the thought that they might have to administer this kind of whole extra wrinkle on top of the complicated structure they've already got, and I did hear one Roman Catholic priest - how representative I don't know - saying we've got quite enough traditionalists in our own Church without having all yours as well." `

I wasn`t aware that Catholic dioceses were a `complicated structure`. However there is no need for hard-pressed diocesan bishops having to worry about adminstering another structure as the ordinariates will not be under their authority but answerable to Rome.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recollection and Douai Martyrs

This Saturday is the feast of the Douai Martyrs. There will be a High Mass at St Joseph`s, Gateshead at 12 noon. This feast has an added poignancy this year given the uncertainty over the future of Ushaw college, the northern successor of Douai. The celebrant will be Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP. The Mass has been organised by The Group Of Priests Of Hexham And Newcastle Who Meet For Lunch Once A Month Who Like The Extraordinary Form (aka TGOPOHANWMFLOAMWLTEF) and the local LMS.
Preceding the Mass there will be a morning of recollection for lay people given by Fr Leworthy. This will start at 10am and will include time for confessions. It is open to anyone who would like to come. Other parts of the country have days of recollection organised by the LMS but this is the first time we have attempted this in the North East. If you are coming you may like to bring a packed lunch for after the Mass. Many thanks to Fr Adrian Dixon, the parish priest of St Joseph`s for letting us use his church for this event.
St Joseph`s, Gateshead is very easy to reach by public transport: it is immediately opposite Gateshead Metro station.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Facebook page on Ushaw

Readers may like to know that there is a Facebook page asking for Ushaw to remain open. You can find it here.

Good News

What with the judicial vicars` trip to Rome from September 27th-October 1st , a period of seven days when I had five funerals as well as a lot of other things and then my long-planned trip to Compostela for the Holy Year ( together with three priests of the diocese) it has been hard to keep up. However there have been good things happening which you will have read of elsewhere. I would just like to mention a few.
Firstly I was delighted to hear about bishop Mark Davies and his declaration of a Year of Mary in the diocese of Shrewsbury. From what I`ve heard people are being asked to say five decades of the Rosary each day but I can`t find any verification of this. Another good thing was the Pope`s letter to seminarians. Such a simple idea yet not one I can recall happening when I was a seminarian. As a canon lawyer and having spent yesterday at the northern canon lawyers` meeting where we were addressed by the ever-entertaining and illuminating Fr David Jaeger of the Antonianum on the subject of recent legislation, I enjoyed this part of the letter:
But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love.
It reminded me of being told in the canon law aula at the Greg that `the law will set you free`! Some of our present difficulties have arisen through failure to follow the law.
Another thing which made me happy was the announcement that archbishops Burke and Ranjith would be made cardinals at the next consistory. When in Rome a few weeks ago one of our ports of call was, of course, the Apostolic Signatura where archbishop Burke spoke to us at length and made us welcome. (Another place we went was the Rota and it was the day before the dean, archbishop Stankewicz ( who had taught us Roman law at the Greg) was due to retire the next day as he was turning 75. He spoke to us with great warmth and at length and so the judicial vicars and their assistants sang `Happy birthday` stumbling a bit when we were unsure whether we should sing `dear archbishop Stankewicz` or `dear dean of the Roman Rota`!) Both archbishops Burke and Ranjith are great friends of the Extraordinary Form.

Another story in the news, as reported by Christopher Lamb in the Tablet last week , was the announcement that a traditionalist group led by LMS treasurer, Paul Waddington, are interested in buying Ushaw. What an incredible thought! It raises the question of who will staff it and who the students will be? The FSSP are the most obvious candidates but as they only have one very recently established house in England it would be a huge leap to go from there to running Ushaw but I suppose they had no houses when they opened the seminary at Wigratzbad in 1988. Clearly Mr Waddington has serious plans as he speaks of Ushaw being run as a `mixed commercial and religious development`. It`s all very exciting anyway. I was thrilled enough to be able to have the LMS training weeks at Ushaw and see St Cuthbert`s chapel used for the liturgy for which it was built but for that to be a permanent feature would be fabulous. It`s certainly a bold idea and one I will include in my prayers.
I hope to write about Compostela soon.

Falling behind

I have been away to Santiago de Compostela and hope to write about that soon. In the meantime before I forget here are a couple of announcements of forthcoming events courtesy of the diocese of Westminster and the LMS.

Saturday 6 November at 2.00 pm
Victoria St, London SW1
Pontifical High Mass of Requiem
followed by Absolutions at the Catafalque
Celebrant and Preacher: Rt Rev. John Arnold
Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster


Saturday 20 November at 11.30 am
Spanish Place, George St,
London W1
Confirmations in the Traditional Latin Rite
followed by Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
With Rt Rev. George Stack
Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to do when your seminary closes?

Open it again!
(...but with a somewhat different ethos).

I had meant to give mention to the story of bishop Marc Aillet and his seminary when it appeared at the beginning of September but in the light of recent news up here it still seems worth mentioning it. The Eponymous Flower has provided a translation of the original story which was on the French Perepiscopus blog although the link given by the MessainLatino blog doesn`t seem to work any longer. (A German version is still available.)

The seminary in Bayonne closed ten years ago. At the time this was said to be, according to the out-going rector, a chance for the Church to break new ground. ( The usual stuff we can expect to hear again regarding Ushaw.) Last month the bishop opened his new seminary with eleven seminarians, another two in the pre-seminary year (see picture above) and an emphasis on the `hermeneutic of continuity` in the life of the seminary. Bishop Aillet is a great friend of the Extraordinary Form and has performed ordinations for the Institute of the Good Shepherd. The diocesan website has an account of the Mass for the opening of the seminary here.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ushaw College to close in June 2011

I`ve just had an email with a press release announcing the closure of Ushaw college in 2011. I`m very sad to hear the news as it is a place of great importance in the history of the Catholic Church in England and especially the North East. It drove me mad at times when I was there but I find it hard to think that it will no longer exist. I wonder what will happen to the site?

A quotation from the press release:
In recent years, Ushaw College has developed to blend heritage with advancement while maintaining its core function of the formation of priests to help renew and continue the work of the Roman Catholic Church in the region. Currently, there are 26 seminarians in formation at St Cuthbert’s Seminary and once they have completed this year’s studies, it is proposed that they will transfer to another seminary.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly, Chair of Trustees said: “This is one of the most difficult proposals that we as Trustees have had to make, not least because of the excellence of the formation our students are receiving.”

Monsignor John Marsland, President of the College, expressed his sorrow at the proposal: “Ushaw has a long history within the Roman Catholic Church and words cannot express how sad we are that we are considering such a drastic step.

“We have long tried to find a development partner and it would be nice to believe that a partner will still come forward with a viable business plan but unfortunately time is running out and we have to face the reality of the situation we are in.”

Monday, October 04, 2010

North East Catholic History Society

I must write about last week`s trip (for canon law purposes) to Rome but I just wanted to make amention of the new programme of lectures organised by the NECHS which start this Wednesday with George Thornton speaking about `St Robert of Newminster and the early Cistercians` We begin at 2.15pm and meet at St Andrew`s, Worswick St, Newcastle. More details here.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Google Translate

Google Translate now offers Latin as one of its languages. However it is far from perfect as yet. Try for example `Quid pro quo` a common Latin phrase that it might be expected to deal with and you get `What happens in Vegas`! `Veni, vidi, vici` is a bit better but not all there in that it gives `I came, I saw the street of`. Strangely however entering Te igitur clementissime Pater per Iesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum, supplices rogamus ac petimus uti accepta habeas et benedicas haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata in primis quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica` results in a good translation. I`ll have to try the rest and see how it compares to the new translation.
It seems more successful in translating English into Latin although I`ve not tried very much.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Papal Visit etc

Apologies to all those who have been asking me to add a new post for my absence. There was the papal visit and then the Forty Hours. It took a couple of days to recover from the Forty Hours as I had to close the church at 1am and then open up again at 6am. I`m glad to say that all went well although I wish I could motivate more parishioners to take a turn. One thing I hadn`t made clear was what the Holy Hour on Monday night would be. I had prepared an hour of material on Newman and went into church at 8pm to find only one person watching so I thought it best to leave it to another time.
I missed quite a lot of the papal visit with leaving Newcastle for London on the Thursday after waving off our parishioners on the bus to Bellahouston. However I tried to keep up with the news via the internet and once I heard there were 125,000 people lining the route in Edinburgh and less than 150 protesters it seemed things were going to go OK. I had been saying to people that I was sure that once Pope Benedict got here and they saw him and heard him then things would be fine. I said this keeping my fingers crossed. However things just seemed to get better and better as the visit went on.
I planned to leave at 6am to get to Westminster cathedral for 7am on the Saturday. What I wasn`t planning was waking up at 4.30 and not being able to get back to sleep! It was exciting to drive down a deserted Mall and see it lined with Papal flags and Union Jacks. Security at the cathedral wasn`t as time-consuming as I thought it would be and I was son in the cathedral hall where tea, coffee and biscuits were available. It was strange to think I had been there earlier in the year to talk at the LMS AGM. Slowly the hall filled with priests and it was fascinating to meet priests I`d not seen since leaving Ushaw in 1988. It was good to meet other old friends too.
The Mass was a tremendous event. I liked the MacMillan Tu es Petrus. It was fabulous to hear the Byrd five-part Mass being sung at a papal Mass in Westminster cathedral with the archbishop of Canterbury in the sanctuary, kneeling for the consecration. It made me wonder what those who first heard that Mass sung in recusant days would have thought. It was interesting to see the archbishop of Canterbury exhibiting signs of knowledge of the EF as he crossed himself at the end of both the Gloria and the Creed!
I was back in Newcastle by 9 at night. After Mass on Sunday I spent most of the day watching the news and trying to catch up with what I`d missed. I particularly wanted to see coverage of the Big Assembly as our head from St Stephen`s, Longbenton had gone down with two children from the school and he had texted me to say they were in the front row. They had a fabulous time.
It was interesting to hear the Holy Father remind the bishops abot the new translation of the Ordinary Form and Anglicanorum Coetibus. No mention of Summorum Pontificum however! Oh well.
I personally did find it all a time for faith (and hope) to be strengthened. What else is there left for this Pope to do? My hope now is that he manages to visit Moscow and build a path to unity with the Orthodox.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Forty Hours at Forest Hall

I am very glad to say that we will be holding the Forty Hours at St Mary`s again next week. I introduced this last year and it went very well. Unfortunately some of the people who volunteered for the night watching last year have moved away from Tyneside and this year no-one stepped into their shoes so, for the first time I`ve been involved with the Forty Hours, it won`t be possible to watch all through the nights. We will stop at 1am and resume at 6am. The Forty Hours is always a favourite time of mine and I`m sure it is a time of grace for a parish. If you are in the area from 6pm on Sunday to 10am on Tuesday do call in. Above is a picture from last year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Third Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum

Today marks the third anniversary of the coming into effect of the provisions of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. It is a day to celebrate.
I first became interested in the Extraordinary Form in 1982. It happened through reading books. I was a Carmelite novice at the time and just felt something was wrong. I found old copies of Christian Order in the cellar at the Boars Hill priory and thought I wanted to find out more so I got in touch with Miss Pond who ran the Oxford SSPX Mass centre. However shortly after that I decided to leave the Carmelites as I became more convinvced it was not for me and returned to Newcastle where I went to the SSPX Mass centre at the Station Hotel for a while until I was accepted for seminary. On seeing the Latin Mass I felt immediately at home. I didn`t make too much of a secret of my preference at seminary at Ushaw but somehow survived and said my first public Mass in the EF on a visit to Wigratzbad in 1989 and first public Mass in the diocese at St Dominic`s in Newcastle in 1992 on my return from further studies in Rome.
What difference did 2007 make? Well I now say an EF Mass every day but Sunday (!) and say the 1960 breviary. The EF is slowly getting ito the mainstream although still in the face of opposition and apathy. One of the best bits of news recently was the decision by the Dominicans of Province of St Joseph in the east of the USA to ensure that all students for the priesthood learn the traditional Dominican rite. I`m sure others will follow and seminaries will start teaching the EF as a normal part of formation.
I used to joke that instead of being born in 1959 I wished that I was leaving the world then. However recently I`ve been thinking about that and have my doubts. After all there was an expectation of liturgical change through most of the 20th century up to the introduction of the Novus Ordo. My seminary rector told me that people who spoke about a vernacular liturgy in the 1950s were regarded as cranks but I`m sure anyone who at that time kept up to date with the latest thinking would have known what to expect at Vatican II. Rubricarius is good at reminding us of this. However in recent years new scholarship has called into question many of the assumptions of the reformers. The work of Mgr Gamber, CIEL and others has led the way. We probably now know more about the EF or `Gregorian Rite` than ever before and understand more deeply why things were as they were. I`m enjoying reading at the moment Margaret Barker`s The Great High Priest: the Temple Roots of the Christian Liturgy whose title speaks for itself and gives a view of Christian liturgical origins wholly different from what I was taught at seminary.
The present time is probably one of the most exciting times to be around as the tradition is explored and new findings applied. Progress can be very slow but it is happening.
In all this Joseph Ratzinger has given the lead. That is why I am very excited about his visit to this country and looking forward to Mass at Westminster cathedral on Saturday.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Brinkburn 2010

Yesterday the annual Brinkburn Mass took place. Many thanks to the Rudgates who travelled all the way from Yorkshire and sang Tallis` Mass in four parts as well as two Monteverdi pieces. Thanks also to the Jarrow schola and to organist Peter Locke. The weather was lovely and the congregation was larger than in recent years. I estimated the congregation to be about 80-90 strong. The increase may have been thanks to David and Theresa O`Neill our diocesan LMS reps who sent out posters to parishes in the area. The celebrant was Fr Swales, the deacon, Fr Phillips and I was subdeacon. Thanks to our servers and those who prepared the food for afterwards and anyone else who helped in any way.

Here are a few pictures by Frank and Mike.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Missa Brevis

When people say they want modern music at Mass, not all that Gregorian chant, Palestrina and Mozart, what would they think if they got this? It`s from 1968 and so is post-conciliar.
I first came across this at the Aldeburgh festival a few years ago when Brian Ferneyhough was the featured composer. I wonder if it has ever been performed at a Mass? Don`t give up after a few seconds: it gets more exciting at the 3.10 mark.

The Kyrie and Gloria:

The Sanctus and Agnus Dei:

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pantokrator installed!

I have been meaning to get back to the blog for quite a while but never seemed to manage it. I was going to write about my trip to Scotland. No sooner had Fr Briggs returned from his trip to France with Fr Finigan as recorded on the Hermeneutic than after a busy weekend in his parish he set off north to join me at the Edinburgh Festival and a couple of days in St Andrews. I had meant to write about finally fulfilling a long held ambition to get to Dunfermline and what I learnt about the bones of St Andrew and St Wilfrid but it was the arrival of Davey and Brian, the joiners, to set up the Pantokrator icon (which I have discovered is known as Christ the Teacher if the book is open) which eventually got me to the computer keyboard. It was on Tuesday this week that they came and did a very good job in setting up the icon. You can see the results below. I think it completely transforms the feel of the church. I look forward to hearing what the parishioners think at the weekend. I do agree with comments made on the previous posting that we could do with an altar frontal and hope to do something about that. Well done Sr Petra Clare and thank you.