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.

Catholic Church in England: Mark Dowd on Radio 4

I caught bits and pieces of Mark Dowd`s Radio 4 programme this morning on the state of the Catholic Church in England today. I thought it was very good in that it gave a voice to all the shades of Catholic opinion and let the listener decide what to think. I couldn`t hear it all but it is repeated tonight at 9.30 and I`m sure will be on the iplayer after that. I did manage to hear most of the stuff about Blackfen and to hear Fr Finigan interviewed and I thought he put his points across very well. The young Catholic who said the great thing about being a Catholic is that you can pick and choose what you want to believe made my heart sink the most.
There is a thoughtful review on The Sensible Bond.