Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kneeling for Holy Communion

Last Sunday as promised a prie dieu was put out after the sign of peace for anyone who wished to to kneel for Communion as requested by the bishops in the new instruction for England and Wales. Only one brave soul took up the opportunity but others made inquiries and we`ll see how it goes this weekend. Such is the nature of the re-ordering at St Mary`s that an altar rail is an impossibilty.

Imagine my joy when this week it was reported that Cardinal Cañizares de Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship) said that all Catholics should kneel for Communion. (In jest he is known in these Geordie parts as Wor Canny Zares. Or should that be Jordi parts? We also joke about the great Catalan viola da gamba player Jordi Savall as Wor Geordie Saville but I digress- and I know how `J` is pronounced in Spanish.)

The Cardinal`s remarks have no canonical value but they give encouragement to those of us who don`t naturally find queuing to be a natural way of showing reverence. (Cf. CCFather`s take on this if you`ve not already read it.) We now will have it in the General Instruction courtesy of our bishops that if a person does not kneel they should bow. I have yet to see to it that we introduce bowing and I don`t understand bowing to mean a nod of the head. But for now we will be making the prie dieu familiar (as well as gradually introducing the new translation over the Sundays of August).
UPDATE 4.08.11 Just to say I`ve been away this week ( more to follow on that). Three more people used the kneeler on Sunday gone. Brick by brick!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another good idea.

Encouraging older parishioners to take an interest in liturgical reform is very difficult. However I have found it is easier to make progress with the young. Here is an example from where this is happening in the USA. H/T to Paul Smeaton for this. The answers of the children are not scripted. For more on St Theresa`s, Sugarland, Texas see here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The end of civilisation continued..

On 11th July Michael Gove, Education Secretary, said the following:

`It is a source of considerable pride to me that the number of students studying Latin in comprehensives is the highest ever. We are presiding over the greatest renaissance in Latin learning since Julius Caesar invaded. [ Interruption. ] Those who are about to answer should be saluted, as we say in Latin. The critical thing is that we have to ensure that our examinations in every subject are up there with the best in the world. It is striking that before he went to university, one of the iconic figures of the 21st century—Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook—studied Latin, Greek and classical Hebrew.`

While this is good news on the other hand one of the country`s leading classics departments, Royal Holloway University College in London, is facing closure. According to the proposals from September 2012 student numbers will be reduced to 40 a year for BA`s in Classical Studies and Ancient History as well as Joint Honours. The classics degree will be discontinued. Ancient Historians on the staff will join the History department in 2014. A revival of Latin teaching can`t happen without trained teachers.There is an online petition here and a campaign blog to follow here.

Pictures from Dilston

Thanks to 1569 Rising for these pictures from Dilston. The chapel was packed to standing-room only (i.e there were about thirty in the congregation). Fra Matthew Festing was there and among the servers was James Mawdsley, who is returning to Wigratzbad in September for his third year at the FSSP seminary and Leo Darroch, president of Una Voce International. I was chatting afterwards with a gentleman who told me he had unearthed a letter which showed that James Radcliffe, the third Earl, executed after the 1715 Jacobite rebellion, was undoubtedly executed for his faith and not his politics and so should be on the road to beatification if anyone were to take up the cause.

Next year the feast of St Mary Magdalene (to whom the chapel is dedicated) will be on a Sunday so Mass will be on Monday 23rd.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dilston Mass

Tomorrow night at 7.30pm there will be a Missa Cantata at Dilston, near Corbridge, the site of the homes of the Earls of Derwentwater until the execution of the third earl for his part in the 1715 Jacobite rebellion. I have written about the history of Dilston before here.

We normally have a lovely summer`s evening for the Mass so I hope the current monsoon season abates long enough to let this happen again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

More good news

I would like to say this is the sanctuary at St Mary`s, Forest Hall after the recent re-ordering but alas it is not. It is instead the site of the new apostolate for the Institute of the Good Shepherd in Bogota. According to the source ` outside of Campos this is the first official TLM at a major Church/Basilica in South America in the last 30-40 years or so`. (UPDATE 5.25pm `Brazilian` has noted in his comment below that this is something of an exaggeration.) So more good news as the EF slowly continues to spread. It`s even billed, for the first time, at the next Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Ancona so chances are it will have a place next year at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. There was also the news that a Polish archbishop is thinking of setting up a priestly institute for the Extraordinary Form.

If you look at the IBP website you will see that, like us, they have a problem with their seminary. Theirs is somewhat different to the one here as they have too many seminarians for the size of the building (33 seminarians and five priests but only 28 rooms).

Ushaw again

As everyone will know on June 9th `a proposal [was] put forward by the University to create a Centre for Catholic Scholarship and Cultural Heritage at Ushaw under the auspices of the University’s existing internationally regarded Centre for Catholic Studies.` (Quotation from website of Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham) It`s good to hear that Ushaw will remain as a Catholic presence in the North East.

Readers who live outside the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle will probably not have the opportunity to see the articles in the Northern Cross. The CfCC has links to three pdfs from the latest edition with articles about the future of Ushaw. They are here, here and here. If this all works out then in a way things have come full circle as Douai began as a kind of Centre for Catholic Studies in 1568.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rubrics and change

Readers will have seen elsewhere that there have been some difficulties over the rubrics printed on the CTS Mass cards for the new translation. The main concern is regarding the rubric for the reception of Holy Communion by the laity. Another priest has told me he is unhappy because the CTS card indicates that the sign of peace is always to be included and the offertory prayers are to be always said aloud (unless there is singing of course). I like the CTS and think they are doing a great job and hope these difficulties are sorted out.

Fr Finigan mentions the Redemptorist and McCrimmon cards don`t have these problems. I ordered the McCrimmon cards when they first came out precisely because they fairly rubric free. In fact it only has two. One is an instruction to bow during the Creed during the Et incarnatus est and the other is at the end where it usefully says `Then the deacon, or the Priest himself, with hands joined and facing the people says` and the dismissal follows. ( It is strange that priest is gets a capital `P` and deacon is in lower case.) I always enjoy reminding people of the rubrics in the OF Mass which instruct the priest to face the people. I wonder what people make of them who cannot conceive that an ad orientem Mass would be intended? In such a case what else would the priest be doing but facing the people? Do they think it is there because there is a danger that the celebrant might be tempted all of a sudden to face the back of the sanctuary for the dismissal after facing the people for the rest of the Mass?!

We gave the new translation a go on Tuesday morning at St Mary`s. I intend using it on Tuesdays of July and then all the weekdays of August to get at least a core of parishioners familiar with the responses. In fact the reaction I got was could we have it twice a week to increase familiarity? I struggled greatly with the paperback interim missal which won`t lie open of course and so kept closing on me during the Mass. That will need sorting out.

Give that this is a time of change for the whole Catholic Church in this country what with the translation and the re-introduction of abstinence on Fridays I intend doing something more about ad orientem. A week past Sunday we had the First Holy Communion Mass at Ss Peter and Paul`s, Longbenton. As the children are now used to school Masses being ad orientem I weighed up the options. It may confuse the children to celebrate facing the people after having carfeully explained the advantages of ad orientem a while ago. On the other hand the parish aren`t used to it as yet and can get angry at this as they feel `excluded`. However the church was packed with the families of the communicandi many of whom had probably not been to Mass for a long time so I decided to stick to ad orientem for the offertory up to the distribution of Holy Communion. No-one made any comments and no-one appeared to be angry but I hope to talk about it this Sunday which will be the first time I`ve said the Sunday Mass in Longbenton since the First Holy Communion Mass. (At St Mary`s, Forest Hall the children are not used to regular school Masses but that will change in the new school year from September.)

Another change to which attention will have to be drawn is the new instruction for the laity`s reception of Holy Communion. For anyone who is not aware the English bishops have had an instruction included in or missals which will read:

"In the Dioceses of England and Wales Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament."

We`ll have to look into bowing so as to be faithful to the recommendation and even it seems provide a prie dieu or something like that for those individuals who may choose to kneel as the instruction says.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


This year I began looking for new material to use with out confirmation class. The last two times we have used the DVDs prepared by CAFE. I thought they were rather good and especially enjoy anything that involves Fr Stan Fortuna but the candidates and catechists were not as positive so I decided to find something else.

Thanks to a comment I left on another blog I was told about the Anchor course prepared by the Dominican Sisters of St Joseph based in the New Forest. So I ordered copies and we set to work. I`m glad to say the catechists this year have repeatedly told me how much more they have enjoyed the session this time. I wasn`t really sure how the Anchor course would work as it is not specifically geared to conformation preparation. What it does give is a general catechesis on the basics of the faith using the structure of the Mass. The Anchor part of our sessions have lasted about forty-five minutes and the first fifteen minutes were tailored to the needs of confirmation candidates. Thus we first asked the children to give us a short account of the life of the saint whose name they had chosen and then used that section to talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What has been a great improvement on previous attempts was the last ten minutes of each session where the candidates came into church where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and they knelt and followed the suggested prayer format. (In previous years they had stood or sat in a circle with a candle in the middle:something I was eager to change.)

However Anchor has many uses. The website says:

ANCHOR is especially written for parents:

- parents of children undergoing a sacramental preparation

(Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation)

- parents of children attending Catholic schools.

Yet it may be used with any adult who desires to understand the Catholic Faith.

ANCHOR can be used as a complement to:

- RCIA programmes

- Confirmation programmes

- Marriage preparation programmes

- baptism preparation for parents.

ANCHOR can be used as a Lenten course, as a Faith through Art course, or as a refresher course on the Eucharist.

ANCHOR can also be used as an introduction to the new translation of the Roman Missal in the Parish.

ANCHOR is accessible to anyone above the age of 15.

Our confirmation candidates are younger than 15 but they have responded well. The attractive artwork helps and the first part involves the candidates thinking through the reproduced paintings which illustrate each topic.

Our diocese is currently unveiling a new catechetical programme. I have seen some of the material for First Holy Communions and have been impressed that at last we have something with solid content to use. [UPDATE 20.07.11 see the comments box: English Pastor has read more of the course than me and points to some problems. 21.07.11 I`ve just got a copy today and will be reading thruogh tomorrow.] I believe we will also be getting something on confirmation. I look forward to seeing it. However I`m sure there will always be a place for the Anchor course in parish life given its flexibility and would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for sound material for catechesis.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


This week I have been on retreat in Berkshire. I mentioned it before here. It was led by Fr de Malleray of the FSSP and there were fourteen of us altogether. Sadly I had to leave a day early to come back for a wedding in the parish. On the other hand I arrived the night before the retreat started to save a rush on Monday trying to get to Cold Ash, near Newbury from Newcastle for a 2pm start. So I was grateful for Fr de Malleray`s offer of staying a night at the FSSP house in Reading which I was looking forward to seeing anyway.

When I arrived I was invited in for tea. Around the table apart from Father himself (who is French) there was Christopher who has just completed his first year at the FSSP seminary in the USA and is Polish, Fr Grega, a young French Canadian priest who joined the FSSP in January from his diocese and an American FSSP seminarian whose name sadly escapes me. Not only was I the only British person I was the oldest by more than ten years. This was a strange experience as belonging to the diocesan priesthood I`m used to being part of a structure which is top heavy age-wise. I had a tour of the house and was able to see the wonderful conversion job that has been done into making it a religious house complete with a (quite small) chapel. After dinner and clearing up the evening ended with Compline.

Next morning we went to the local parish church of St William of York for Mass. I was interested to see it having seen pictures on the internet. The altar looked splendid with its gradines and `big six` but all this has to be removed a few times each week so that the parish can have the OF Mass there too. The FSSP have still to acquire a church of their own in the UK. Surely that will happen soon given that they have about five native priests (none of whom at present work in the UK) about the same number in formation and four new seminarians starting this year. All this is quite remarkable when you consider that this is for an institute which only has this small house in Reading as a presence in England ( as well as a somewhat larger house in Edinburgh).

The next day we drove to Cold Ash where lunch was arranged for 12 noon for the retreat participants so that we might have a chance to socialise before beginning the silent retreat. Again I was the senior priest by over ten years and as such was invited to say grace. There were about eight of us at lunch eventually and the arrival of Fr Leworthy of the FSSP at last meant I wasn`t the only priest in his 50`s! The rest of the fathers were waiting at Cold Ash pastoral centre when we arrived.

The theme of the retreat was the prayers of the Roman missal so Fr de Malleray took us through the Mass giving a commentary on the spiritual significance of the prayers and rituals of the Extraordinary Form. All I can say was that I had heard nothing like this in my spiritual formation at Ushaw. (John Saward may have taught these things but I onnly had one brief course with him.) Hearing Father speak, the logic of the traditional Mass was made clear and its spiritual purpose revealed. There are lots of phrases from the retreat buzzing round my head as I write. There were things which I might have missed if I had read them in a book such as: the primary purpose of the Mass is the glory of God. I can be quite certain no-one ever told me that at Ushaw. Father drew our attention to this as the word `glory` kept appearing. It applies to the reading of the Gospel whose prime purpose is not instruction but the glory of God (which is why the response of the people or server is `Gloria tibi Domine`). Father also spoke of how today Catholics feel insulted if the priest says Mass `with his back to the people` as they feel they are excluded somehow but they have failed to realise that they are not the focus of the Mass but God and that the priest`s job is to lead them to God. I can`t give a synopsis of the whole retreat here but this gives a small taste. I also can`t give a synopsis because of the eight talks I only heard five as I had to leave a day early to come back for a wedding in the parish on Friday. There was a Holy Hour with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament each day and readings at all the meals. I particularly enjoyed those from Archbishop Dolan`s book `Priests for the third millenium`.

We had four altars in the rather attractive and largely unspoiled 19th century chapel so the first slot for saying Mass was the 5.40am! I`m afraid I don`t operate very well on ess that eight hours sleep so I took at 7.10am slot each morning which meant being asleep by 10pm. It was lovely to walk into the chapel each morning and see all the altars in use.

At times I must admit the retreat was hard going but now I`m back it all seems wonderful and I`d look forward to another. (This is quite like the experience of the Chartres pilgrimage.) It was a long way from the north but I was surprised some of those I know from nearer cities and towns never seem to come to these FSSP events for priests. It would be good to see more priests come next time.

So thank you again Fr de Malleray and thank God for the FSSP.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

St Robert`s Morpeth blog

I was back at Morpeth (which I had left in 1995 to become a parish priest) last month for Fr Lawrence Jones` silver jubilee of ordination celebrations and had a very good night catching up with people. I have mentioned it before but St Robert`s has a blog which I will put in my blogroll. I`m going back again this month for the 60th anniversary Mass of the resident retired priest, Fr Jim Doherty.

Random thoughts on Bishop Ambrose`s Requiem

Yesterday I went to the cathedral to take part in a Requiem Mass for Bishop Ambrose Griffiths. This was the third such Mass as there had been one in Leyland in the parish where he lived, one the night before at the cathedral here in Newcastle, yesterday's and then he was off to Ampleforth for the final one with burial. This may have accounted for the somewhat low turnout of bishops as they had so much choice. However we still managed to have the Apostolic Nuncio and Archbishop Nichols present and about eight or nine others. Canon Barrass preached and neatly caught the enthusiasm and unpredictability of bishop Ambrose. However the microphone for our bishop needs some attention. I remember when the portable microphone worn by bishop Ambrose was had major problems at a catherdal function. Yesterday whatever was wrong with it, the bishop`s voice was unfortunately very distorted by it. However I learnt this morning that at least two other Catholic cathedrals seem to have microphone problems too! How on earth did the Church manage before the invention of the microphone? When I vest for the OF Mass I sometimes wear the maniple and sometimes don`t. According to the Vatican website the maniple has never been abolished, so is optional and when I wear it I say the vesting prayer. The portable microphone appears to be compulsory however but there is nothing in the vesting prayers for putting it on! After yesterday`s Mass maybe there should be a prayer that it will work.

There were two pieces of Latin chant in the Mass. The Introit was sung before the clergy entered the cathedral so I missed that but the In Paradisum was sung but sadly to a tune that was not well known. One priest told me it was the solemn tone, someone else told me it was the Ushaw tone. No-one seemed very certain about it including the schola. The rest of the music was fairly dignified. The Kyrie interested me: it was an English setting of the Orbis Factor Mass which was rather nice (although I would have preferred the Requiem Kyrie) and thought it could be used in the parish. I was surprised that the cantor sang the prayer `May almighty God have mercy on us and forgive us our sins` etc as that part is reserved to the priest but apart from that I thought it was rather good.

A final thought. I imagine they have been at other functions and I`ve not noticed, but this time I was aware of a group of Knights of the Holy Sepulchre maybe because our LMS rep. David O`Neill, was making his first appearance in knightly garb. In turn I saw there was a Dame of the Holy Sepulchre present too. She was sporting a mantilla the like of which I`ve not seen outside of Spain: one of those that trails down the back. The knights wear a beret that looks rather like a biretta but the use of which does not follow the rules for the biretta it seems.

That was our third episcopal funeral in four years. May they rest in peace.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ss Peter and Paul`s Day

I was very glad to see a better attendance at Mass on Wednesday than I had feared since the virtual abolition of Holydays. At both my parishes, the primary school children came as a body but there was a respectable number of parishioners. At St Mary`s one half of the church was filled with the children and the other with parishioners. I don`t know what it was like at the 7pm Mass at St Mary`s )said by our retired priest, Fr Milburn) as I had to leave for the 7.30 EF Mass at SS Peter and Paul`s. Attendance at this was better than I feared. I have in the past advertised the Mass at the cathedral and got a good response but this year I didn`t get round to it. As we were not inundated in the diocese with Masses specifically celebrating Pope Benedict`s 6oth anniversary of ordination I had thought to see if I could get a poster sent out to all parishes from bishop`s house but didn`t get round to that either. Nonetheless I was very pleased to see quite a lot of new faces from my parishes. The travelling Latini are not so much in evidence these days but there were still a good number. Also we had two members of the diocesan clergy taking part in the liturgical action who I`d not known be involved before. I won`t say who they are as I`ve not asked them if I can. Sadly there were no photos taken of the Mass but it went very well and the music from the schola, the organ and the choir of St George`s, Cullercoats, was very good indeed. I remarked in the homily about how apt it was to have a Mozart Mass setting given the Holy Father`s enthusiasm for his music.

After the morning Mass at St Mary`s an elderly lady walking with a stick asked if it was true that the bishops are considering restoring some of the Holydays. I said it was and she thought this was a move backwards and when are we going to get some young bishops with more modern ideas? I smiled. Other people said how glad they were to have a Holyday celebrated and they hoped the others return.

I had had an invitation to a Mass in the afternoon at the local Catholic comprehensive but I felt that after two school Masses in the morning and a High Mass to take place that night that I could be justified in skipping that one. I heard last night about the liturgical dance and can only say my guardian angel must have been looking after me that day.