Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

`With the birth of our Lord Jesus, "the truth has sprung from the earth”, today too, “in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace”. But we must open the doors of our hearts to God, find room for Him so that he is not rejected today as two thousand years ago, for this hope for peace to survive`

Pope Benedict XVI Christmas 2012

Midnight Mass, Forest Hall 2012. Many thanks to Terry for the photo.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some good news in Hexham and Newcastle

There have been a few things happening which have cheered me up recently. The first is the opening of a Dominican house in Durham back in October. The Dominicans were invited to take over the running of both the university chaplaincies of Newcastle and Durham universities. I`ve heard some complaints that it means there are fewer interesting jobs for diocesan clergy as a result. Well I suppose as secular clergy we shouldn`t be surprised if we end up running parishes. Maybe priests could take on some of the curial jobs in finance and education which they used to have if we need diversity. Dominicans are ideal for university chaplaincies  and I thought it was particularly good for Catholic life in Durham to have a new boost which a community brings. Others have said vocations might be lost to the Dominicans who might have applied to the secular priesthood but I`m sure students can tell the difference between secular priesthood and religious life. We had seculars as chaplains at St Andrews and that didn`t stop me and others pursuing vocations in the religious life including the Dominicans!  (Now I`m a secular priest but I did try my vocation with the Discalced Carmelites for six months.)

Anyway here is an article from the Northern Echo on the new community.
NEW COMMUNITY: From left, Fr Thomas Skeats, Fr Benjamin Earl and Fr John Patrick Kenrick at their new home in St Cuthbert’s Church, Durham

A CATHOLIC order has established a new community in the region.
Three friars from the English Province of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans, have made their home in Durham City, taking over running Durham University’s Catholic Chaplaincy and St Cuthbert’s RC Church, on Old Elvet.
They did so at the invitation of the Right Reverend Seamus Cunningham, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle.
The establishment of the community was marked by a celebration of Mass on Wednesday, November 7 – the Catholic Feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order – led by the Very Reverend John Farrell, Prior Provincial of England within the Dominican community.
Dominican friars arrived in the North-East in 1239AD, less than 25 years after their Order was founded.
Their medieval priory still exists on Friars Street, Newcastle. It is now a restaurant and craft centre.
The priory was suppressed in 1539, as the last prior denounced Henry VIII’s claim to be the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and fled to Catholic Scotland.
However, friars were active around Hexham, Northumberland, in the 17th Century and St Dominic’s priory was re-established in Newcastle in 1860.
The new religious house represents the Order’s first ever presence in Durham.
Fr Benjamin Earl has been appointed parish priest and Catholic Chaplain to Durham University. Fr Thomas Skeats and Fr John Patrick Kenrick assist him.
Fr Earl said: “It’s a huge privilege to be asked to continue in Durham the outstanding work of priests from the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.
“The new religious community has been touched by the very warm welcome received from parish, chaplaincy, University and diocesan communities and we very much look forward to working with all those groups to promote prayer, study and preaching of the good news in Durham and the North-East.”
For more information, visit english.op.org

Secondly on December 7th Fr Warren organised a torchlight procession in Hexham in honour of the Immaculate Conception which drew a crowd of 500.  I was sorry not to be able to be there but hope i can be if it happens next year. Here are some pictures:

The third item was the first regular EF Mass in St Augustine`s Darlington. Fr Elkin has written about this. It seems that 50-60 people turned out on Wednesday night for Fr Tully`s Low Mass. I hope to make it through for the next one in January.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I`d long suspected I was avant-garde

H/t to Fr Z for spotting this article in The Economist and is now all over the blogs so I`ll repeat it too. Nice they`ve noticed. Not everyone has, especially within the Church!

A snippet:

 The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, started in 1965, now has over 5,000 members. The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now. In America it is up from 60 in 1991 to 420. At Brompton Oratory, a hotspot of London traditionalism, 440 flock to the main Sunday Latin mass. That is twice the figure for the main English one. Women sport mantillas (lace headscarves). Men wear tweeds.

But it is not a fogeys’ hangout: the congregation is young and international. Like evangelical Christianity, traditional Catholicism is attracting people who were not even born when the Second Vatican Council tried to rejuvenate the church. Traditionalist groups have members in 34 countries, including Hong Kong, South Africa and Belarus. Juventutem, a movement for young Catholics who like the old ways, boasts scores of activists in a dozen countries. Traditionalists use blogs, websites and social media to spread the word—and to highlight recalcitrant liberal dioceses and church administrators, who have long seen the Latinists as a self-indulgent, anachronistic and affected minority. In Colombia 500 people wanting a traditional mass had to use a community hall (they later found a church)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Stick to the script!

I`d not seen this story of the demise of an ad-libbing priest.If the ad-libbers are going to be taken to task things could get very busy for the Congregation for Clergy!

Here`s the gist:

The Rev. William Rowe, whose refusal to adhere to the wording of the Roman Catholic Mass caused him to become known as the "ad libbing priest," is officially barred from performing church rites.
The banned practices include performing Mass and officiating weddings.

According to a statement released Wednesday by Belleville Diocese Bishop Edward Braxton, a 60-day appeal expired making an earlier ruling by a panel in Rome final.

That ruling by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, stated that Rowe's written argument that changing the liturgy to make it easier for parishioners to understand was no basis to remove him from performing priestly duties, "has no canonical basis in law or in fact and is hereby rejected."

The recent poll highlighted by Fr Z seems to show Fr Rowe underestimated the Catholic response to the new translation!

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2012/11/23/2405010/final-action-taken-against-ad.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Scottish Academy of Sacred Music

`There has been some pretty lousy music sung in Catholic churches and that is where things have gone wrong, why congregations are shrinking.`

I`d agree although I don`t think it`s the only reason people stop coming to church. The above quote is from an interview with  Joan Dillon, a Masters graduate of RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Scotland`s Academy of Sacred Music was launched on 23rd November. James MacMillan is the patron. It all looks very good and hopeful. I hope its influence reaches over the border!

Joan Dillon adds:

As a parent myself it seems to me young people are being brought up immersed in the negative messages of modern music via MTV, a lot of which is demeaning.

They need the transformative power of sacred music to balance that, but instead they are getting banal, happy-clappy stuff at Mass. Sacred music can lift young people up and help them embrace more noble ideas, yet it is not sung in many Catholic churches in Scotland."

James MacMillan says:

If modernism has also brought in its wake a desecration of the human spirit, we must penetrate the mists of contemporary banality to restore the idea of the sacred, in which our true and fullest freedom resides. Without it our lives will become meaningless. I believe it is God’s divine spark which kindles the musical imagination now, as it has always done, and reminds us, in an increasingly dehumanised world, of what it means to be human.

We are reminded that Pope Benedict has said:

the world needs beauty in order not to sink into despair and music is the most spiritual of the arts. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

He`s not Vatican 2

This is two years old but I`d not seen it before. Sounds somewhat familiar.Pity about `orientam`.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New location for Extraordinary Form in Hexham and Newcastle

As you may have seen on our LMS diocesan rep`s site we have a new location for the Extraordinary Form in the diocese at St Augustine`s church, Darlington Mass will be said once a month on the second Wednesday at 7pm by Fr Paul Tully. The first Mass is on December 12th: I hope it is well supported. It`s a church I`ve never visited but from the picture above it looks like an ideal location for the Mass, having the high altar still intact.

I`ve been trying to get over to St Joseph`s, Gaeshead once a month on a Sunday to help with the EF Mass there but so far the avalanche of baptisms I`ve been experiencing this year have made it impossible so I`ve decided to have a Low Mass at Forest Hall on a Sunday afternoon once a month. There is normally Benediction at 4 on a Sunday afternoon so instead on the first Sunday of the month, starting in December this will be an EF Mass.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


H/T to Catholic Memes

Tradition and the New Evangelization

There has been a lot written about the Mass in St Peter`s which took place on Saturday but thanks to Rorate Caeli for linking to this video from the news service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops which is rather good.

Now must have a look to see what has been reported on the news site of the bishops of England and Wales or even on Independent Catholic News.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

All Souls Day

Here are a few pictures from the All Souls` Mass at St Mary`s, Forest Hall. Many thanks to the singers, organist, servers and sacred ministers. It was a great success. The sanctuary is something of a challenge for a Solemn High Mass but we just about managed.The catafalque was less than ideal but we don`t have a pall and I`d forgotten to ask to see if I could borrow one. Many thanks to Frank for the photos

Sunday, November 04, 2012

It seems to be very easy to get in.

Here`s the latest from some visitors to Ushaw`s Junior seminary.

I take it back

On the feast of St Matthias I normally comment that, strangely, Christian tradition has never followed the example of the Apostles and chosen their successors by drawing lots. It would seem the obvious way to choose bishops if we are concerned to follow the example of the Scriptures but, oddly, in the return ad fontes asked for by Vatican II this never came up.

So I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the process used for electing a Coptic pope where a blindfolded boy chosen at random picks out one of three names. I wonder if any other Christians  use random methods to choose their leaders?

Congratulations to bishop Tawadros: he has a difficult job ahead of him.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Being normal

Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will celebrate Mass in  the Extraordinary Form on Saturday at the altar of the Chair in St Peter`s in Rome. Thanks to Rorate Caeli for highlighting this interview the cardinal has given in advance of the Mass. Those of the `it`s against Vatican II` school of thought may find his words of interest. Looking forward to seeing if the new secretary of the Congregation, the former bishop of Leeds, will be there!
What is the point of the pilgrimage?
“To give thanks to God and thank the Pope for the motu proprio he issued five years ago, recognising the value of the liturgy celebrated according to the missal of the Blessed John XXIII and marking continuity with the tradition of the Roman Rite. By recognising the previous liturgy one understands that reform does not mean doing away with older traditional practices.”

Why did you agree to celebrate mass for pilgrims who follow the pre-conciliar Rite?
I agreed because it is a way to show people it is normal to use the 1962 missal: there are two forms of the same Rite but there is only one Rite, so it is normal to use it during mass celebrations. I have already celebrated a number of masses according to the missal introduced by the Blessed John XXIII and I will gladly do so again on this occasion. The Congregation in which the Pope has called me to act as Prefect does not oppose the use of the old liturgy, although the task of our dicastery is to enhance the meaning of liturgical renewal according to the directives of the Sacrosanctum Concilium constitution and follow in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Council. In relation to this it must be said that the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite must draw inspiration from the conciliar Constitution which in the first ten paragraphs focuses on the true spirit of the liturgy and so is relevant to all rites.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Faure on Friday at Forest Hall

I always like to have a sung Mass on All Souls` Day. This year, thanks to our LMS representative, David O`Neill who has contact with the Jesmond Choral Group and Priory Singers, the Requiem will be sung to the setting by Faure. We are also fortunate in having the services of Fr Phillips and deacon Andrew Bunce so that we will be able to have a Solemn High Mass. We will be using a silk black High Mass set which was made in Macao. Mass is at St Mary`s at 7.30pm followed by refreshments.
Somewhat overshadowed by this, there will be an Extraordinary Form Low Mass at SS Peter and Paul`s, Longbenton for the feast of All Saints at 7.30pm. As usual I will be thinking of Fr Oswald Baker of Downham Market and his famous recording of Mass for All Saints from the 70`s when he was driven out of the diocese of East Anglia for his adherence to the Extraordinary Form. We live in happier times although there are still pockets of resistance to the legitimate place of the Extraordinary Form in the life of mainstream Catholic life. Who knows one day even the diocesan website may mention the Extraordinary Form?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy at Reading

This week I was glad to be able to make the annual colloquium of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy held at the Oratory school at Reading. Fathers Henry, Blake and Finigan have all provided accounts. It was wonderful to see how the CCC has blossomed so quickly in this country and largely by word of mouth. Ad Clerums tend not to refer to it but episcopal approval was there in the presence of bishop Egan and a letter of welcome from archbishop Longley of Birmingham. 

I don`t intend to repeat what others have said and Fr Henry gives a useful summary of the talks but when I got home and opened the post to find detailed proposals for monthly parish council meetings I thought warmly of bishops Egan`s observation that he does not believe in salvation sola structura!

The liturgies were particularly encouraging with the ordinary form celebrated ad orientem to chant settings. Walking into the chapel before breakfast and seeing an extraordinary form Low Mass at the high altar warmed my heart and exercised its usual fascination on me.  It was also very good to see old friends and meet one or two readers of this blog. I think I could easily think of twenty or so priests who would have enjoyed the colloquium and I will do my best to spread the word and let`s hope next year our numbers have doubled!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Catching up

I`m getting behind with things. First I should say in response to Sceptical Believer,  the Hexham Mass went well. Estimates are between 30-40 in the congregation. I understand a good proportion of these were recent converts and the majority of the congregation were locals. Thanks to the schola and servers as well as the sacred ministers and Fr Warren. It was good to meet `Seeker` who often comments on this blog. However I think I should remember to book an organist next time: I`ve had my fill of silent processions!

I was glad to see the LMS have appointed Mgr Gordon Read, the judicial vicar and chancellor of Brentwood diocese,  as the national chaplain. Mgr Read is one of the leading canonists in the country and has had a long association with the Extraordinary Form.

Finally Fr de Malleray has set information about forthcoming events he is planning which I am happy to mention.

Altar servers’ weekend (residential): at St John Fisher House in Reading on 26-27-28 October 2012:
For single Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
Starts on Friday 26 October at 6pm – ends on Sunday 28 October mid-afternoon. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, with Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP.
In a convivial atmosphere, come and learn (or improve) how to set the vestments and sacred items before Mass and to serve EF Masses and Benediction. EF Mass on the Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. Limited overnight accommodation: please book now. Non residential participants welcome.
Cost [for the whole weekend, 2 days + 2 nights, including full board accommodation at St John Fisher House]: no set price for students or unwaged – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.
Contact: Tel: 0118 966 5284; Email: malleray@fssp.org; website: www.fssp.co.uk/england.

Vocation discernment weekend: 14-15-16 December 2012 at St John Fisher House in Reading:
For any English-speaking Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).
Starts on Friday 14th December 2012 at 6pm (arrivals from 5pm) – ends on Sunday 16th December 2012 at 3pm. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP.
Location: St John Fisher House, 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England. Off-street parking available.
Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite) including polyphonic Sung Mass on Sunday, silent prayer, and optional private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what a vocation is in general and to the priesthood in particular.
Cost [for the whole weekend, 2 days + 2 nights, including full board accommodation at St John Fisher House]: no set price for students or unwaged – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.
Contact: Tel: 0118 966 5284; Email: malleray@fssp.org; website: www.fssp.co.uk/england.
We are looking forward to welcoming you here.
Please pray for our 9 seminarians from these Isles. God bless you!

Clergy retreat in Bavaria 15-19 April 2013, led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP.
Priest? Come and pray next door to the largest international seminary in Europe (motherhouse of an institute admitting over 40 new seminarians each year) in Pope Benedict’s native Bavaria! What a grace to be supported during our retreat by the presence and prayer of 90 seminarians and priests from various European countries, singing in choir the peaceful Gregorian melodies 4 times a day in the local Church of Atonement, dedicated to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. What a good deed in return to include them and every candidate to the priesthood in our prayer intentions. Wigratzbad is also a Marian shrine and we will ask the Mother of God to teach us how to better know, love and serve Her divine Son in the Most Holy Eucharist.

Theme: ‘The priest and the Eucharist in the recent magisterium of the Church’.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Pope John-Paul II’s celebrated encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003), Fr de Malleray will give meditations on the centrality of the Most Holy Eucharist in the life of priests, developing in particular the notions of the Real Presence, the Sacrifice, the Adoration, the liturgy. In the context of the current ‘Year of Faith’, focusing here on priests, the conferences and table readings will includes quotes from Presbyterorum Ordinis, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Mysterium Fidei, Pastores dabo vobis and other magisterial teaching. Examples from the lives of holy priests and classical spirituality will also be used.

Programme: Silent retreat with a one-hour conference in the morning and another in the afternoon. Three daily meals taken in silence with table readings. Free time. Retreat-master available for confession and spiritual advice. Optional Lauds, community Mass, Sext, Vespers and Compline prayed in Latin with the seminarians and staff of the St Peter International Seminary. Daily hour of Eucharistic Adoration. The many altars will offer ample opportunity for private daily Mass (both EF and OF Missals can be used at the Shrine).
Arrival: Monday 15 April afternoon: landing at Memmingen Airport (direct Ryanair flights from London-Stansted, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin) and 40-minute drive to Wigratzbad.

Departure: Friday 19 April after lunch; landing in the UK in mid afternoon.

On option: stay on with us for one day of tourism: Lindau peninsula on Lake Constance, dinner in local ‘Gasthaus’ (restaurant) and colossal Benedictine Abbey of Ottobeuren – with take off from Memmingen on Saturday afternoon.

Cost: £220 (all inclusive for 4 days full board in single room with en-suite bathroom + transportation from the airport and back). Not included: return journey from your parish to Memmingen airport: for convenience, each priest will book his own flight (estimated cost of return flight with Ryanair: between £80 and £150). Extra cost for the optional tourism day: add about £50 in total.

Booking: Please send your Name-Surname-Address-Telephone-Email with your £100 deposit cheque made payable to FSSP ENGLAND to our address: St John Fisher House, 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England.

Info – Contact: Please contact Fr de Malleray if you have any questions: malleray@fssp.org; Tel.: 0118  966  5284.
(Picture: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger after having offered a pontifical high Mass in the usus antiquior at our motherhouse in Wigratzbad on Easter Sunday 1990.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Newcastle Brown Ale and ICEL!

Thanks to Ben Whitworth for noticing this. I`ve not seen these posters in Newcastle. In fact I can`t remember the last time I was with anyone in Newcastle who chose to drink Newcastle Brown. Maybe we should tell them about the new translation! Full article here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mass at Hexham

Just a quick note to mention that there will be a Solemn High Mass at St Mary`s Hexham this Friday night at 7.30pm at the invitation of the parish priest, Fr Warren. Friday is the feast of St Wilfrid who for a time was bishop of Hexham.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Hayes and Finch

Yesterday the latest Hayes and Finch catalogue arrived. This doesn`t normally detain me very long. However p.98 stood out for me. Summorum Pontificum has reached Hayes and Finch! I was only disappointed that I couldn`t identify the clergy involved (although the people in the catalogue are models this just seemed a bit specalised). There are even a few Roman-style chasubles for sale on p.111.

Eamon Duffy, Mass facing the people and Vatican II.

A few of posts ago I mentioned a series of lectures to be given at Ushaw starting on October 17th. The first speaker is Eamon Duffy, the distinguished Catholic historian. Prof Duffy back in 1996 gave an opinion on the question of Mass facing the people which readers may find of interest in the light of recent posts.

'Mass facing the people': did Vatican II require it?

It  is widely believed that the modern practice of celebrating Mass facing the people has solid historical foundations in Church tradition and was called for by Vatican II. As Dr Eamon Duffy argues, both claims are false. Dr Duffy is Reader in Church History at the University of Cambridge and author of a definitive analysis of the Reformation in England, 'The Stripping of the Altars.' The following article first appeared in the UK publication 'Priests & People'. It is reprinted with permission.

A well-known Catholic architect recently complained that the high altar in Westminster Cathedral remains in its old position, facing east. The most important cathedral in the land, he declared, was "setting a bad example," and he asked, "How do we live out our faith through the liturgy and sacraments in that place?"
Everybody thinks that the arrangement of the altar so that the priest faces the people was ordered by the Council. In fact it wasn't, and although "Mass facing the people" has now become almost universal, in important ways it represents a dramatic departure from Christian tradition. It expresses a symbolic understanding of the Eucharist which is at best partial, at worst defective, and, paradoxically, it encourages a depressing clericalism quite at odds with the teaching of the Council.
Mass "in the round" or facing the people does, of course, express an important dimension of the Eucharist, that of the Church as a community gathered around the family table, and among whom the Lord is fully present. But this is by no means the only dimension of the Eucharist that we need to grasp, nor, despite modern emphasis on the present experience of community, is it necessarily the most important. Too strong an insistence on this community now can lead to an enclosed and sectarian understanding of the nature of the Church and Eucharist, which is unreal in failing to grasp or acknowledge the sinfulness and incompleteness of the Church.
In the New Testament and early Church, the Eucharist was above all a pledge of a fulfilment yet to come; it pointed away from itself, away from the sin and brokenness of this world (and of the Church), to the great in-gathering and healing of humanity at the edge of the ages. The world labours and groans towards that fulfilment, and the Church too is a pilgrim looking towards her Lord. The deepest prayer of the Eucharist is a prayer not of achieved unity and peace, but of expectant longing: "Maranatha, Our Lord come."
For most of her history the Church expressed this vital truth in the stance of those taking part in the Eucharist. Priests and people alike faced east. The point was not that the priest turned his back on the people, but that everyone faced in the same direction, towards the rising sun, as they waited and prayed for the dawn of the Kingdom. Even the posture of the pope in the Roman basilicas, invariably used as the precedent and justification for "westward" celebrations, is no exception for, unlike most later churches, the Roman basilicas were oriented towards the west, and when the pope celebrated Mass he at least faced the rising sun, visible through the great door at the end of the church.

Vatican II theology

By abandoning the eastward position, the Church sacrificed the heightened solemnity with which all turned in prayerful expectancy towards the altar. She also lost a precious witness to the eschatological openness and incompleteness of the Church and her Eucharist - a fundamental theme of Vatican II's theology of the "pilgrim Church." In the process, we also saddled ourselves with a clerically-dominated liturgy.
The celebrant is now the focus of everyone's attention, seated in a chair which often occupies the place of the old tabernacle or altar-cross, centre-stage and in eye-to-eye contact with us throughout the Mass. Fr O'Flynn, whether he or we like it or not, is now the star of the show, a reality blood-curdlingly underlined in those churches where the priest opens proceedings with "Good morning everybody," and the congregation, like a school assembly, chorus back "Good-morn-ing-Fa-ther."
For several years I regularly attended Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist with my (then Anglican) wife. The small church had been re-ordered on best "Vatican II" lines, with the altar facing the people and the celebrant's chair behind it; the priest conducted the liturgy of the word from his chair; and the liturgy of communion, from the Lord's Prayer and Agnus Dei onwards, also took place with the priest facing the people. But for the eucharistic prayer itself the priest and his ministers came around the altar, and faced the east, just as the people did.
The effect was electric, a perceptible changing of gears and heightening of atmosphere, and a growing sense of solemnity as the whole congregation, with the priest as their spokesman, turned to the Lord for the greatest prayer of the Church. Yet there was no sense of alienation, of the priest with his back to us, for, in the parts of the Eucharist which appropriately emphasised dialogue and communion, he faced towards us. Instead, there was a profounder sense of reverence, and of a people waiting in a shared hope for the gift of God.
Both that sense of reverence and that sense of expectancy, once almost palpable in the hushed silence which surrounded the elevation, are all too often lacking in modern Catholic eucharistic worship. At least occasional celebrations in which priest and people turned together towards the east, and the dawn of the Kingdom, might help give it back to us. Maybe we should try it and see.

Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 9 No 1 (February 1996), p. 8

So there we have it. What makes me annoyed is that the sort of person who goes on about the need for the Church to be `inclusive` and `open to new idea`s suudddenly discovers that there are unquestionable dogmas to be defended when presented with an argument which questions what they take for granted.

I say Mass facing the people most the time. The ony time I face the same way as the congregation in the Ordinary Form  is for school Masses with St Stephen`s primary school because young people don`t have the historical baggage which more elderly Catholics carry around. However it has gone down well with the school up to now after explaining the reasons for it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

`Against Vatican II`?

I am assured here are people out there who think this blog is `against Vatican II` but so far none of them has offered any proof. Maybe that`s because there isn`t any. So would those who make such claims please now take back their accusation or at least stop making it?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mixed Reactions

A while back I noticed on Fr Blake`s blog  that this blog had been listed on an American site `Peter`s List` in a list of seven blogs by traditional Catholic priests (although this title was disputed in the comments presumably by those who think anyone who is in communion with the Holy See cannot be described as traditional). I was amazed to be mentioned among these  priest bloggers as I can think of a good number of priestly blogs which have more substance than this effort. However Peter`s List had this to say about FM:

Forest Murmurs is another blog often cited on traditionalist Catholic blog-rolls and appears to be primarily categorized by news clippings of traditional interests. A good example would be the happy news of the Institute of Christ the King purchasing a historically Jesuit – and unused – Church in Ireland.

Thanks for the plug Peter`s List!

However murmurs have reached the Forest that not everyone is as happy with this blog. Some people apparently think this blog is `against Vatican II`!!! Further enquiry as to how this could be produced little of substance except something about promoting Mass ad orientem. If you are someone who visits this  blog and seriously thinks this blog is at odds with that council then I ask you to please enlighten me as to where I have contradicted it. I don`t think anyone who has read Vatican II will find anything here that goes against its decrees.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lecture Series Promotes Ushaw’s National Importance

Here`s a press release from yesterday about the lecture series on the former seminary of Ushaw. These look quite interesting although I doubt I`ll be able to get to them. 
Durham University's Centre for Catholic Studies is launching a series of events to highlight the significance of Ushaw College.

In an effort to raise awareness of the nationally-important holdings at the former seminary - including documents from the period of Catholic persecution and rare first edition books - the Centre is arranging a series of lectures at the former seminary.

Before Christmas, the lectures will consider the reaction of English Catholics to Enlightenment Arts and Sciences. The series will be opened by the well-known historian, Eamon Duffy, on 17 October who will talk about the eighteenth century Ushaw-trained historian John Lingard. On 31 October, Durham's Stefano Cracolici and Giovanna Capitelli will explore Ushaw's art and the heritage of faith. The final lecture of 2012 will be given by Ushaw's Michael Sharratt, who will talk about Catholicism, modernity and science at Ushaw in the nineteenth century, in particular approaches to Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

The lecture series will continue in 2013, with topics including the Pugin architecture of Ushaw and its silver, before a major conference on Early Modern Catholicism is held at the college next summer. The events will also lead towards the publication of a book about the treasures of Ushaw.

Speaking of the upcoming events, Dr James Kelly, a fellow at the Centre for Catholic Studies who will be working on the Ushaw material, said:
"These events are aimed at showing just how important Ushaw and its holdings are not just to the Catholic community, but to the history of the North-East and England more generally. By looking at Ushaw in this way, it becomes clear that its history - and that of Catholicism - is not a mere footnote to the national story but of lasting importance."

The Ushaw lectures will start with refreshments at 5:30pm. Each event will be accompanied by a small exhibition of items held at Ushaw relevant to the topic.


The overall theme is: 'English Catholic reactions to Enlightenment Arts and Sciences'.
17 October
Eamon Duffy
John Lingard and the Reformation
31 October
Stefano Cracolici and Giovanna Capitelli
Ushaw Art and the Heritage of Faith
28 November
Michael Sharatt
Catholicism, Modernity and Science:
Teaching at Ushaw on the eve of Vatican I

Friday, September 28, 2012

St Michael`s, Newcastle upon Tyne

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit St Michael`s church in Newcastle. The last time I was there was about ten years ago or so when I was asked by the then bishop, Ambrose Griffiths, to go along in response to a request from a film company making a Catherine Cookson film, who wanted an adviser for the filming of a convalidation as it would have been performed in 1903.

This is my favourite church in the diocese: I`ve not seen every church in the diocese but it would have to be good to beat St Michael`s. Bryan Little`s Catholic Churches since 1623 [in England and Wales], has this to say about St Michael`s: 

St Michael`s is far more pleasing than Pugin`s church which had become the Catholic cathedral in Newcastle; it was probably the best of many Dunn and Hansom churches in Roman Catholic Northumbria.

This church was built between 1889 and 1891 by Dunn and Hansom for a cost of almost £20,000. The Elswick area in which it is situated is near the famous Scotswood Road ( of `Blaydon Races` fame) and was where many who worked in the factories along the Tyne lived. I grew up in Elswick until the age of five and was baptised at St Michael`s.

As you can see this church has been spared the destruction that has afflicted many sanctuaries and is ideal for the Extraordinary Form. Fr Bellamy, the parish priest for the last forty years has just recently retired and the future of this grade 2 listed building is under discussion. Much work needs to be done and the cost will be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds which the present small congregation will never be able to raise. Let`s hope an imaginative solution is found which respects this wonderful building.

The sanctuary

Closer view
The Lady chapel

Sacred Heart chapel


The crossing

The nave

The font

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

LMS Pilgrimage to Lourdes

I got back late on Friday night from the LMS pilgrimage to Lourdes, thanks to a lift from Stansted provided by our LMS reps David and Theresa. David has already blogged about the pilgrimage here. Paul Waddington has given an account here.  I`d been a few years ago with the LMS to Lourdes and had been thinking it would be good to have another pilgrimage with the EF Mass so was very pleased when asked to be chaplain. The group was quite small, consisting of twenty-two people five of whom were not Catholics. We had a broad age range from Timothy in his twenties up to Fergus who is eighty-seven. 

Celebrating the EF was no problem in that no-one objected to us doing so although as David points out some of the venues had their own hazards. The Mass in St Gabriel`s chapel on the first night was difficult in that the altar was very small and when I lent down for the consecration of the host the whole altar threatened to tumble over. Mass at Bartres was lovely as we had the original high altar to use. The last three Masses were sung but onlly because David, the MC also doubled as cantor for the propers! Somewhat unorthodox I suppose but the only way it would work. 

I enjoyed preaching on the life of St Joseph of Cupertino and the story of how he found a flock of sheep making the responses with well-placed `baa`s` when he recited a litany. The whole story is here.

So thank you LMS for asking me to be chaplain and thanks to the group for your support.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Is it any wonder?

Recently I took my copy of O`Connell`s Church Building and Furnishing (Burns &; Oates 1955) off my shelf to see if I could find if he had an explanation as to why there are always an odd number of lamps before the high altar or Blessed Sacrament. He does say that there are to be an uneven number but offers no explanation. But then I began browsing the rest of the book and came across his chapter on the altar with a section on Mass facing the people.

It reads as follows:

From the 4th century to the 6th century it was the practice in all greater churches to celebrate Mass facing the congregation. The choir (the clergy) was at the east end; the subdeacon stood behind the altar facing the celebrant. Even in private houses, or in chapels, or even in the catacombs, the celebrant faced the people, when this was physically possible ( sometimes e.g. in the catacombs the celebrant necessarily faced the arcosolium). It is certain that Mass was celebrated facing the people in a church where the Bishop`s throne was in the apse, or where there was a confessio ( the approach of this was from the the nave, at the back of the altar) or where the people were at the east end of the church, facnig West. The practice of celebrating with the celebrant`s back turned to the congregation gradually arose with the change in position of the people, desiring to face East at prayer, with the growth of the number of priests for missions and in monasteries and with the multiplication of Masses " for a private intention" and private Masses for the dead (these Masses were said in small chapels, not at the high altar). The practice of saying Mass back to the people, at side altars, gradually spread to the high altar. Yes both systems of orientation and both ways of facing at Mass existed together from the 6th to the 9th or 10th century; and then the eastern apse, and the celebrant facing it, became the prevailing usage. But the practice of celebrating Mass at the high altar facing the congregation has continued to this day (e.g. in the great Roman basilicas and in some of the catacomb chapels) and is now being restored in certain great churches (e.g. in the cathedral at Lisbon).

I wonder what was going on in Lisbon? Another book I`ve started is The Elusive Father Brown which is a life of Mgr John O`Connor (1870-1952, the inspiration for Chesterton`s Fr Brown. I found the following paragraph on p.145.

During the course of one of his Sunday sermons, Father O`Connor gave his view on the position of the altar, stating that to have it pushed to the far end of a long building with the priest turning his back on the people was an abuse which was 1,000 years old/ `Fancy, if all representations of the Last Supper made Our Lord turn his back to the Apostles!` e thought it unlikely that any reform would happen in his lifetime. He was right in that it was not until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council wre generally adopted that the priest no longer turned his back on the congregation. In Why Revive the Liturgy and How? which was probably written about 1928, his suggestions included many of the changes regarding vestments, language, the times and manner of communion, that would have to wait almost forty years to be implemented`

This is in the context of his building of First Martyrs` church in Bradford which opened in 1935. The church is circular with a free-standing altar.

Many of us who are keen on the Extraordinary Form have heard responses like Mgr O`Connor`s regarding orientation. At seminary we were given accounts like that of Fr O`Connell. It just struck me that there must have been a widespread expectation that Mass `facing the people` was the way to go to revive the liturgy and how this helped the transformation take place so quickly. Nowadays thanks to the writings of Mgr Gamber, Cardinal Ratzinger and Fr Uwe Lang we are more knowledgeable about the whole issue and how the intention to face East for prayer was much more important to early Christians than liturgy `facing the people`.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Brinkburn Success!

I`m glad to say a respectable-sized congregation of about 40 came to Brinkburn yesterday so thanks to those who sugetsed we hold the Mass agani this year. The weather was glorious and the Mass went very well. Thanks to all involved, the singers and servers.

Thanks to Leo for these photos.


Friday, September 07, 2012


I`d forgotten to mention that there is a Solemn High Mass at Brinkburn in Northmberland tomorrow at 12 noon. The weather should be good so I hope there will be a good turn-out. Last year`s Mass was very poorly attended and I had second thoughts about having another Mass but we are going to give it a (last?) try.

Friday, August 31, 2012

40,000 celebrate St Aidan`s Day

Here are  few pictures of the 1951 celebrations at Ushaw for the 1300th annniversary of St Aidan`s death. They haven`t scanned as well as I`d hoped.Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them.

And one from an an earlier pilgrimage to Lindisfarne.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Judicial Vicars

Judicial Vicars don`t make the news much. However at the minute there are quite a lot of changes in the air. In recent weeks new judicial vicars have been appointed in Lancaster, Middlesborough, Nottingham and Hexham and Newcastle. I`ve taken over from Fr Paul Zielinski in our diocese as he stands down after twenty-three years in the position. I`m glad to say he is staying to work on the tribunal so his experience and knowledge will continue to be of service.

In Middlesborough Canon Alan Sheridan is standing down and Fr Stephen Maughan is taking over. In Lancaster Mgr Michael Tully is retiring and Fr Adrian Towers is the new man. In Nottingham Fr Peter Vellacot takes over from Mgr Canon Edward Walker who has been in the job for thirty-six years. What I found interesting is that Frs Vellacott, Towers and Maughan have all been associated with the Extraordinary Form. Fr Maughan was the celebrant of the Missa Cantata in York Minster last year, Fr Vellacott has a Saturday morning Latin Mass in his parish and I remember Fr Towers learning the Extraordinary Form and saying it at his parish in Cottam outside Preston although it hasn`t been listed for a while now. 

All of this is of no great significance, as canon lawyers have to know Latin, but makes me feel less of an oddity!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sacred Heart church, Limerick

A happy outcome for the former Jesuit church in Limerick which has been on the market for a few years and if memory serves me right at one time was being considered for conversion to a swimming pool. I imagine the issue of architecturally significant churches with congregations too small to sustain their upkeep must be a problem for diocesan authorities.  Giving them to Ecclesia Dei institutes to make a go of them seems like a useful solution but sadly the required leap of imagination is not always there.

Here`s the story:

Sacred Heart Church purchased by the Institute of Christ the King in Limerick, Ireland

With the help of numerous friends from Ireland, the United States and Continental Europe, the Church of the Sacred Heart at the Crescent in Limerick, also known as the Jesuit Church after its first builders and long-term occupants, was recently purchased by a young priestly community called the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The church and adjacent building, sold to a developer some years ago, had stood vacant for six years and was in danger of falling into ruin. Therefore many people from Limerick and other parts of Ireland were happy to help this Institute bring the Church of the Sacred Heart and its residence back to life.
A young community of members of the Institute of Christ the King will very soon move into the attached residence in spite of its rather poor condition, and the church will serve for the time being as its chapel. With the permission of the Bishop of Limerick, the Institute of Christ the King has had a residence in the diocese since 2009 and offers Mass every Sunday in the Extraordinary Form at St. Patrick's Church, whilst also working in a few neighbouring dioceses.
Founded in 1990, the Institute is a Roman-Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right in canonical form. The 64 priests of the Institute work all over the world to promote the spiritual Kingship of Christ. A special emphasis is laid on the harmony between faith and culture, and thus the young community has acquired a reputation for promoting the arts, especially sacred music and architecture. This experience will serve to restore the Church of the Sacred Heart to its classical beauty and make it available once more as a point of reference for the cultural life of Limerick.
 The mother-house and international seminary of the Institute of Christ the King is based in Florence, Italy, where 80 seminarians are training for the priesthood and 21 religious sisters are especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Among these are already several Irish vocations. This young community has missions in Gabon (Africa) and important apostolates in the United States, England, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Sweden and naturally in Rome, where their founder, Msgr. Gilles Wach, was ordained to the priesthood by Blessed Pope John Paul. The provincial superior of the community in Ireland is at present Msgr. Michael Schmitz, who was ordained a priest by the present Holy Father, the then  Cardinal Ratzinger.
The prior of the Church of the Sacred Heart is a 38 year-old priest, Canon Wulfran Lebocq, choir-master of the Institute and permanently resident in the diocese since 2010. For the time being, the community in Limerick is composed of four members, whose average age is 32.
The Institute of Christ the King follows the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, which is expressed in the motto of the Institute: Live the truth in charity, and could be summarised in the famous quote of the Doctor of Charity: Cook the truth in charity until it tastes sweet. The Canons of the Institute of Christ the King have a vast experience in working with the young. Schools, youth camps, days of recollection, musical training and many other activities are among the benefits they are used to bringing to the places where they work.
In Limerick, the Institute of Christ the King, supported by many local residents and a large group of friends in Ireland and abroad, intends to restore the Church of the Sacred Heart to its original purpose as a vibrant spiritual and cultural centre and a beautiful place of worship through a dynamic and open community life as a spiritual family. However, this will require a careful historical restoration before the Church may be opened once again to the greater public.
The Institute of Christ the King celebrates the classical Roman Liturgy, the Latin Mass, in its Extraordinary Form according to the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962. This liturgy, promoted by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI in various documents, attracts today an ever greater number of people, especially young adults, students and families. The Institute is accustomed to see a lively family of faithful in its churches and wishes to bring the uplifting beauty of sacrality and genuine culture to all.
This beautiful church at the Crescent is still today a special architectural jewel, and many deplored its closing and long-term vacancy.  The Institute of Christ the King, which has a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly desires to reopen this church for the benefit of all, in close collaboration with the local civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In this way, yet another sign of a brighter future will again come alive in Limerick.
Those who would like to know more about this important project for Limerick City can find further information either on their website (www.institute-christ-king.ie) or by visiting the community at the Crescent: Come and see!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer (FSSR) aka the Transalpine Redemptorists, based on Papa Stronsay in the Orkneys, have received official recognition, after a very long wait,  as an Institute of Diocesan Right. Read about it here.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino diem festum celebrantes sub honore beate Mariae Virginis

Friday, August 10, 2012

In stories you may have missed this week...

What with the Olympics other stories are maybe not getting into the news so here`s one which I noticed the other day which looked interesting. Pity there`s not more background to it!

Court Rejects Russian’s Claim to Vatican


MOSCOW, August 9 (RIA Novosti)

Russia’s Supreme Court has overturned an appeal from a Russian national who urged the country’s judiciary to recognize his ownership of the Vatican, the court’s spokeswoman said on Thursday.
“The court has reviewed an appeal from Roman Lugovoi, who requested the establishment of Vatican inheritance and property rights. The appeal has been dismissed,” the spokeswoman said, adding that Lugovoi had named the pope as defendant in his claim.
She however did not elaborate why Lugovoi considered himself a legitimate heir to the See of Rome.
In early 2012, a Moscow arbitration court dismissed a claim from a woman who said she had the right to own a part of the Kremlin, naming then President Dmitry Medvedev, the government, the Culture Ministry and the federal property watchdog Rosimushchestvo as defendants.
In October 2011, the court overturned a similar claim from the head of the Fund for the Assistance to the National and Religious Agreement, who said that he was a descendant of the ancient Russian dynasty of the Ryuriks and was entitled to part of the Kremlin.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

More on bishop-elect Egan

For those who may not have read the comments on the last post Andrew Beards has left quite a substantial contribution on the new bishop of Portsmouth which I thought merited being an item in itself.

Mgr Phil has been a close friend for over twenty years. We have done the Longergan circuit together in Germany and the US. About 50 per cent of the time together we spend laughing! (No, make that 75 per cent!) Those of our friends who were able to come to our 25th wedding anniversary two years ago would remember (then) Fr Philip and Fr Gerald with Fr Elkin for our lovely Mass at St Mary’s Barnard Castle. Fr Phil preached and even managed to get Lonergan in there!

I can't speak highly enough of him and I think William Oddie's comments are right, although I even think they are an understatement! On earth, Bishop Mark Davies and the new Nuncio are the agents here. And this does confirm all kinds of good things we have been hearing about our new Nuncio from different sources. In heaven I know Mgr Phil (who kindly made the time to email me and Tina yesterday) sees one of the key players as St John Vianney, whose heart he had been praying before and on whose feast day he was ordained.

People are picking up on all kinds of things about Bishop-elect Egan, including his talk saying Humanae vitae is infallible – no disagreement there!
I would like to add a couple of things here, from among the many I could add (I am sure I am not saying anything here that would go beyond what one should). Firstly, Bishop-elect Egan shares completely the Holy Father’s vision of the liturgical reform of the reform. Like many of us he humbly accepts certain liturgical permissions which the Church has allowed in the last couple of decades but would not be at all sad to see these changed back to what they were, should Mother Church decide.
He is a very good Latinist having studied classics at London University before seminary. When head of studies at Oscott he was one of the priests there who, before Summorum Pontificum, worked to get novus ordo Latin Masses in the seminary and with some success. We used to meet up regularly at Oscott in a period of about five years when we were both in Birmingham, and we would start our time together with Mgr Phil saying a private Mass: novus ordo Latin, eastward facing (latterly). When Summorum Pontificum came along Mgr Phil wanted to conform his mind, as normal, to that of the Holy Father. I know he is very positive about it and all that happened at New Brighton, for instance. He just has been too busy of late to take things further personally. But when I saw him not so long ago he was asking me about courses to train up altar servers in the EF, with the thought he could send some of his on one.
The second point: Mgr Phil will be the most highly qualified theologian among the Bishops. He has a Ph.D. in Theology and, as far as I know, while other Bishops have honorary doctorates none have one of these! Also he has a book and serious academic publications. I know the other Bishops know this. For better or worse, since Vatican II there has been great deference paid to qualified theologians – often for worse. I don’t want to get into negative waters here, but suffice it to say this is why the last Holy Father and this Holy Father have been promoting Bishops who are also theologians. That Mgr Philip is such among the Bishops will mean a great deal – and, in addition, Rome keeps on looking at such Bishops for further needs it has!

Greetings once again to everyone,

Hope to see you again soon

Andrew (Beards)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shrewsbury and Portsmouth

The new bishop of Portsmouth, Mgr Egan, the recently appointed VG of Shrewsbury, has been announced. Looks like Shrewsbury is continuing to make its mark!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Forty Hours

We have just opened the Forty Hours Devotion at 5pm tonight. It continues until Tuesday morning with watching through both Sunday and Monday nights. This is always a very special time in the parish`s year and I`m encouraged by the numbers that came tonight for the opening. If you are in the area you are most welcome to join us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Feast of SS Peter and Paul

It is quite a shock to be having a proper Holyday on Friday. As usual there will be a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form at SS Peter and Paul`s, Longbenton on Friday at 7pm. We`ll be having a Palestrina Mass setting: at the minute I don`t know which one. After Mass there will be refreshments in the parish hall.

Photos from the Mass can be found here. Many thanks to Mike.