Saturday, May 29, 2010

Progress on the Pantokrator

Many thanks to Sr Petra Clare for keeping me updated on the progress of the new icon for SS Peter and Paul`s church, Longbenton. Here is the most recent picture which shows sister at work on the icon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

What I learnt at Ushaw

I`m not long back from the diocesan clergy retreat at Ushaw. It was a very enjoyable week and there was a good atmosphere among the priests. I enjoyed speaking to people I`d never spoken to before and reminiscing about our days at Ushaw as students.

However there were a few things I learnt during the week.

1) On the first morning of the retreat we learnt of the sudden death of Fr Kevin Gallagher, parish priest of Horden. For ten years he was a Spiritual Director at the college and as such was a help to many priests of the Northern Province who were his directees. He was my director from entering the college in September 1983 and remained so until the present apart from my two years in Rome. I personally owe him a lot and was very shocked to hear of his death at the age of 62. I expect his funeral Mass will be packed with priests from all over the north. His Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday 8th June at 12 noon at Horden, followed by burial at Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Washington. May he rest in peace.

2) A couple of us took advantage of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum to say private Masses in the Extraordinary Form. We spoke to the priest acting as sacristan and set up things in the Oratory (or relics`) chapel. However one day we arrived to find that the altar had been decorated for the feast of St Philip Neri with a relic of the saint as the centre-piece. This was a great surprise as any interest in relics would probably have been a formation issue in my day. That made sense of the two candles in front of the altar of St Bede the day before. I forgot to check the chapel of St Augustine of Canterbury the next day. This was a most encouraging development. By a stroke of co-incidence I had put two reliquaries out on the altar at St Mary`s here on Sunday, for the first time. So I said Mass in the St Charles Borromeo chapel that day,where I had conducted my instructions in saying Low Mass. It was a pity that the Octave of Pentecost in the 1962 books allows of no commemorations as I would have liked to celebrate these three saints this week.
3) I was seriously surprised by the number of priests who said they look at this blog.
4) I learnt that there are only fifteen seminarians in residence at Ushaw at the minute. The fourth year seminarians spend January to June on a parish placement but even including them the numbers are still only in the twenties. The situation is thus even worse than I imagined.
The retreat talks were given by Fr Eamon Mulcahy. He is a very good speaker with an amazing range of material at his fingertips. I didn`t agree with everything he said but as with any retreat there were good points to hang on to which made it a worthwhile experience.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Society of St Tarcisius

A bit late in the day but here is the LMS press release about the new society for altar servers.


On Saturday 15th May 2010, at Blackfriars, Oxford, the Society of St Tarcisius, a sodality of servers of the Traditional Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form), was founded during a training day for altar servers, arranged by the Latin Mass Society. Thirty servers were present, with the training being delivered by Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, Br Lawrence Lew OP, Mr David Forster, and Mr Richard Hawker. The day began with an address from Fr de Malleray on the importance of the service of the altar. The servers were divided into two groups of the less and more experienced for training. Some people travelled long distances to attend - one as far as Preston, Lancashire. The two groups each had an experienced MC and a cleric to guide them: the less experienced group was led by Fr de Malleray and David Forster; the more experienced group by Br Lawrence Lew and Mr Richard Hawker. The day was interspersed with prayers and ended with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Society of St Tarcisius has been founded to encourage servers of the Traditional Mass in their work on the altar, to provide training for new servers and the more experienced, to promote a high standard of reverence and accuracy, and to form a network through which servers can stay in touch and share resources.

The Society of St Tarcisius is sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, though membership is open to all who wish to serve the Traditional Mass. Saint Tarcisius was a Roman acolyte who was martyred while defending the Holy Eucharist from profanation during the fierce persecutions of the third century. The sodality has taken “Fidelis usque ad mortem” – Faithful even unto death – as its motto, and seeks to inculcate in servers an intense devotion and reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist, as well as a precise attention to the ceremonies of the Mass.

The society’s website is Servers wishing to join the sodality should contact the Secretary, Mr David Forster, at

Photographs of the training event on Saturday 15th May can be seen at

The Latin Mass Society and the Society of St Tarcisius will be holding a residential training course for lay servers at Downside Abbey, Somerset, from Tuesday 10 August to Friday 13 August. This will run alongside the LMS’s Downside training conference for priests to learn the Extraordinary Form. Full details are available from the LMS.

For further information, please contact John Medlin, General Manager, or James Murphy, Office Manager, on (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585;
(E mail)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

On using the new translation

I`m on the diocesan clergy retreat at Ushaw this week so this is just a quick post. Some priest bloggers have discussed recently using the new translation of the OF Mass before the official launch date. I thought readers might be interested to know that Mass at the retreat today was celebrated by our bishop and priests using the new texts. Everyone dutifully replied `And with your spirit`. No-one died and no horses appeared to be frightened. My impression was that it seemed a bit more wordy but it was a huge improvement on what we have had. I expect we`ll be using the new translation the rest of the week.

UPDATE: 26.05.10 Apparently it was just a one off. Today we returned to the old new Mass.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Deanery Meeting and Our Lady of Fatima

Last Thursday I was at one of those deanery meetings we are all having in the diocese to discuss the problem of a rapidly diminishing number of priests for our parishes. I`m not a great fan of these events but felt duty-bound to go. This one was attended by the priests of the deanery and two lay people from each parish. It was decided to set up a committee to look at the way ahead and also to offer some formation in lay leadership. At this point one of the representatives suggested that for this committee `nothing should be ruled out` and we should discuss married priests and women priests. I had to respond saying that they have been ruled out and that the truth that only men can be ordained as priests is to be held definitively by all the faithful. Our chairman intervened to say that women priests have been ruled out `for now`. I suggested that this means that all the faith, for example the belief in the Incarnation, is provisional. However the moment passed and we got back to setting up a committee.

I wish we could consider inviting into the diocese some of the religious communities that don`t have a vocations problem. There are the Ecclesia Dei communities of course but an exclusive use of the EF would not, perhaps, help with plugging the gaps in the parishes although their presence would be a breath of fresh air. Apart from them there are the Franciscans of the Immaculate, Franciscans of the Renewal or the Community of St John. Any of these would be a good thing. Sometimes I think that Catholics are so used to the scenario of decline that that is their comfort zone and the idea that there might be groups who are flourishing is too painful an idea and too difficult to understand.

The same day the Pope was in Fatima. I saw this story on the BBC news website and mused on the difference in attitudes between this lady and many Catholics who find the idea of travelling an extra half mile to another church for Sunday Mass too hard.

Many travelled the last few hundred metres on their knees, as a sign of gratitude to the Virgin.

Maria, a 47-year-old florist, had walked about 220 km (135 miles) from her hometown of Castelo de Paiva.

"I have done this pilgrimage for 22 years because my daughter was at the doors of death and Our Lady granted me the miracle of saving her," she said.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another new blog

There is now a blog for the parish of St Robert`s in Morpeth set up by the new parish priest, Fr Lawrence Jones. I was a curate there for three years (1992-95) and go back once a month to say an EF Mass. This monthly Mass started in 1993 and the next Mass will be in June as I am away in May. Morpeth is a very attractive market town and boasts a remarkable presbytery which was once the home of Lord Collingwood, Nelson`s second-in-command at Trafalgar.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Blog

As a result of conversations at the 2010 LMS training conference at Ushaw a new blog has been set up as a forum for Extraordinary Form events in the North of England. It is called Motus Septentrionalis and can be found here.

Rosary for the Bishop

I have been sent information about this initiative today. It looks very good. There is a blog for more information here. I already have my five decades allocated at the minute. Just now I have the first for the FSSP (as a member of the Confraternity), second for Pope Benedict, third for victims of abuse and renewal of the Church (I could include the bishop here), fourth for the sick of the parish and fifth for my family. I have for a long time said a prayer for the bishop on passing Bishop`s House (which I do quite a lot).
You can sign up for a reminder to be emailed to you it seems. The Catholic Herald featured this campaign in February.
UPDATE: I have now signed up and see it doesn`t need to be a daily commitment.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Aid to the Church in Need

I`ve received a notice about this event which looks very interesting if you are in the Birmingham area.

Birmingham Oratory Event
The Light of the World
Sunday, 27th June at 2:00pm, followed by Mass at 5:30pm
The Oratory, Hagley Road,
Birmingham B16 8UE
An opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the challenges
facing Christians around the world – and how you are helping.
Talks begin at 2:00pm, followed by Mass at 5:30pm.
We hope that Father Samir Khalil Samir SJ will be our guest of
honour, speaking on Christianity and Islam in the Middle East.
Father Samir is an Islamic scholar, semitologist, orientalist and
Catholic theologian based in Lebanon.
There will be a talk, based on first-hand material, on how your generous support has
helped victims of the earthquake which struck Haiti in January.
Fresh from project trips, UK Director Neville Kyrke-Smith will
speak about the Faith in Ukraine, while Head of Press and
Information John Pontifex will report on Christianity in Pakistan.
This event is free, but please reserve your place at or by calling 020 8642 8668

Refreshments will be provided at this event

Thursday, May 06, 2010

May at St Mary of the Rosary

While the cherry blossom is out I thought I would take some pictures of the parish garden. A couple of years ago we had a May procession with the children from our primary school. I hope we will do this again although we don`t really have much useful space to walk in. In the meantime I am reading one of Cardinal Newman`s meditations for May every day at the OF Mass to kill two birds with one stone: to celebrate the Mother of God and also to let people hear something from Newman as we prepare for his beatification.

Here`s the garden:

Here`s a view of the front of the church. Whenever I look at it I think it would be so easy to `baroque it` if we had the money and the enthusiasm!

UPDATE: Thanks to Pat who has sent this alteration with the help of Photoshop!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Fifty Best Catholic Blogs

I was sent an email today by Karen Anderson, from the USA, who runs the site `Online Christian Colleges`. She informs me that she has compiled a list of the best 50 Catholic blogs. I was somewhat stunned to see that this blog is placed at number 17 with the description : `One parish priest blogs about the religious life, including insider comments on current news and events that affect the Church`. The list contains Catholic blogs from a wide variety of perspectives. Fr Z is there at number 13 and the Hermeneutic is number 11. Fr Blake is there too but I can`t understand why he is at no 24 as he is normally my first port of call in checking the blogs.

Anyway there are some blogs I`ve never heard of which look worth a try such as `The Recovering Dissident Catholic`and `Acts of the Apostasy` whose titles intrigue me.
There all kinds of other blogs listed on the site, such as the best 50 Buddhist or Mormon blogs!
Many thanks Karen.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Grand Week

As mentioned below, yesterday I went to Ushaw for the Grand Week Mass and lunch. Unfortunately I underestimated how long it takes to get to Ushaw from here and, although I intended to concelebrate, I arrived ten minutes late and so sat in the benches for Mass. There were about eighty lay people attending, mostly of retirement age. I was surprised to see that we had the Missa de Angelis to sing for the ordinary and the hymns were rather good too. The Te Deum was sung at the end of Mass.
The main celebrant was the newly consecrated co-adjutor bishop of Shrewsbury, bishop Mark Davies. I particularly enjoyed his sermon and thinking I might want to remember some of it took some notes. He spoke about the priesthood drawing on the example of St John Vianney and the Douai martyrs. What I enjoyed about his treatment of St John Vianney was that we didn`t get a pre-amble to say that of course St John Vianney lived in a very different world and very different Church so we can`t take him at face-value. Instead bishop Davies recalled some of the saint`s words about the priesthood especially "Oh, how great is a priest! The priest will not understand the greatness of his office till he is in Heaven. If he understood it on earth, he would die, not of fear, but of love". The bishop told us that the priest is to be first in faith, first in fidelity and first in service. As for the Douai inheritance, bishop Davies said `The Douai tradition is not a place, not a programme of study nor inherited ball games [i.e.`cat` an ancient form of rounders played at Douai and Ushaw] but faithfulness to something much more and he went on to recall Pope Paul VI`s words at the canonisation of the English Martyrs that what had motivated them was the Holy Eucharist and the prerogatives of the successor of Peter. Bishop Davies reminded us that Douai was founded at a time when the Catholic priesthood was being discredited as much by erroneous scholarship as by the moral failings of priests. He asked us to ask the prayers of St John Vianney that we may be true to the inheritance we have received.
Having heard all that I was somewhat disconcerted when it came to the consecration of the Mass. No-one had knelt after the Sanctus and while this is not the usual practice in England and Wales I was to say the least surprised when no-one knelt at the consecration as required by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. I knelt anyway. After Mass I saw that the Mass booklet told us that it is the custom at Ushaw to stand throughout the Eucharistic prayer. It is so sad that at the heart of the Mass Ushaw should seek to do something different to the custom of the universal Church. It seemed to me to undermine much of what we heard in the homily.
After the Mass there was lunch. My host had already filled her table but I was glad to find `1569 Rising` was there and so I found a place among his contemporaries who would have been the ordination year of 1970. It was an enjoyable lunch. Afterwards the President, Fr John Marsland, made a speech as did the chairman of the St Cuthbert`s Society. We were treated to the singing of the Ushaw song (which I`d never heard before in my life) and there was a toast to the hierarchy and the college (but no mention of the Pope: maybe he just got included with the hierarchy).

After lunch I was glad to have a brief chat with bishop Davies who recognised me of old. He asked for prayers.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Pantokrator for Longbenton

I was glad to see Sr Petra Clare had a mention recently on the NLM blog (even if the Ushaw training conference didn`t). Sister is busy creating a new icon for SS Peter and Paul`s, Longbenton. I thought readers might be interested to see the work in progress.

When completed it will go on the wall behind the altar in the panel with the outline of the previous cross.

Photo of Cardinal Newman?

For the visit of the relics of St Therese, I bought a large photo of the saint from the Carmelite Book Service, had it framed and put in church. I would like to do the same for Cardinal Newman as we prepare for his beatification. Does anyone know where such a thing can be bought? I have looked at the CTS, Pauline books and the websites of the Oratories without success.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Back to Ushaw

Tomorrow I am going to Ushaw for Grand Week. Well it used to be a week but now is essentially two nights with a full day on Monday. Grand Week is a reunion for Ushaw alumni. I`m going for the Mass and lunch. I`ve never been before but have been invited by a committee member of the St Cuthbert`s Society. I`ve never felt any enthusiasm for going before as I don`t have particularly warm memories of my time there as a student in the 80`s. Maybe that`s why I bang on so much about the LMS training conference as I find it such a cathartic experience. So I`m curious to see what it will be like tomorrow.

It was good to see Fr de Malleray again at Ushaw last month. Seeing him reminded me that I never got round to saying anything about the consecration of the new chapel of the FSSP seminary at Denton, Nebraska. While Ushaw is a pale shadow of its former self and struggling to survive here was a completely new seminary chapel being opened in a building with capacity for 100 seminarians. Fr de Malleray told us that the original FSSP seminary at Wigratzbad in Bavaria is building an extension so that it too may house 100 seminarians. What is sad about this is that the FSSP and the IBP have been turned down when they have tried to buy existing redundant seminaries and so the FSSP have had to start from scratch. Here is an extract from the consecration of the Denton seminary. The whole video lasts longer than two hours but an 8 minute extract may be more digestible.

There are a number of places I would like to visit. One is the basilica of Our Lady of Peace in the Ivory Coast, which being bigger than St Peter`s in Rome is the largest church in the world.

I think my chances of getting there are fairly slim but I may give a cheer to the Ivory Coast in the World Cup on its account. ( They also have employed Sven Goran Eriksson as their manager which gives them an interest from an English angle.) However the Denton seminary is now on my list as well and I hope one day to see it.

PS Why does it seem to be impossible to insert video in the new editor on Blogger? I find the spell-checker on the old editor useful too. It is also beyond my technical knowledge to reduce the size of the video to fit the page.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Longbenton Mass

For those who may be wondering, there will be an Extraordinary Form on Mass on Sunday night at SS Peter and Paul`s at 6pm tomorrow although it will be a Low Mass this time as the schola can`t make it. There will be a Solemn High Mass on June 29th at SS Peter and Paul`s at 7pm.