Friday, May 25, 2012

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

St Vincent Pallotti and the Irate Priest

As a seminarian, Vincent helped lead a youth group at a local school called the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. At this time most priests abandoned normal clerical garb and dressed as we would imagine Benjamin Franklin. St Vincent instead choose to dress in his cassock. One day he was leading his youth group on an excursion when a diocesan priest dressed in the “Benjamin Franklin” style berated him as a hypocrite for several minutes because he wore a cassock. The priest kept ranting and raving but Vincent Pallotti slipped away after a few minutes. Later, members of the youth group found him in a nearby church singing the Te Deum, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving, for the treatment he received from this priest. (cf. Fr Robert J. Fox, Saints & Heroes Speak, Harmony Media, Gervais, OR)

Benjamin Franklin
St Vincent Pallotti

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ball Games and Tradition

Thanks to Ben for the link to Newcastle-based Fr Dominic White OP`s new book. It seems that catch-ball was de rigeur for bishops in 15th century France although from the extract I can`t see if this was during the Sacred Liturgy. I hope bishop Fellay isn`t expected to embrace this French tradition as part of his come-back deal. Here is the `sneak preview` of Fr White`s book, The Lost Knowledge of Christ.

A little unsteady in all his finery, and conscious that all eyes were on him, the bishop followed the altar boy to the centre of the labyrinth. The altar boy then placed the ball in the bishop’s hands. This was the signal: the organ sounded, the choir sang out and the bishop threw the ball in the air. The dean caught it, took a step to the rhythm of the music, then passed it on, till all the clergy were dancing around the labyrinth and passing and catching the ball.
And so we might begin a comic novel, a mystery novel or even a wistful “what if” about church. But this is in fact, allowing for local variations, what happened at Easter in cathedrals up and down France until the mid-15th century. The cathedral chronicles and rituals laid down how it was to be done. And in the eyes of the citizens, woe betide any bishop who tried to wriggle out of the Easter dance. This was not just some eccentricity, a sop to residual paganism or even a clerical way of letting off steam. It belonged to a tradition of spiritual knowledge to which this dance, held to be the dance of heaven, was believed to give access. This same tradition of spiritual knowledge was embedded in the architecture of the cathedrals themselves, the labyrinths on the floors, the sculptures, and the images in the windows. It structured the music, the seasons and feasts, and much else. Then the knowledge got progressively forgotten and lost.
If you picked this book up in the Mind, Body and Spirit section of a bookshop, it may well have been nestling next to books on Atlantis, the Pyramids or the Holy Grail. If nothing else, it shows that people are fascinated by books on mystery and hidden knowledge. Sometimes such books are openly fictional – such as the Da Vinci Code. But they strike a chord. Fiction as much as non-fiction awakens our desires, even a a spiritual search. The Da Vinci Code continues to send people off to Paris to look at the obelisk in St. Sulpice. Even though we know that the obelisk is 18th-century, it speaks to us of something much older, much deeper in our human memory. Something we experience with our senses reminds us of something we feel we ought to know – something which has been forgotten. I am convinced that under the fiction – as so often – there is fact. And need. I stumbled on the knowledge of the cathedral.

Dancing continued

Thanks to Njinsky for his link to a Zenit article on `liturgical` dance whch includes an essay published in Notitiae in 1975. I had trouble with the link but eventually accessed it from a computer with different anti-virus software. It`s a pity there is nothing more authoritative as an essay even in Notitiae (the official organ of the Vatican`s Congregation for Divine Worship) is far from binding. However it makes some good points including, I`m glad to see, the issue of participation.

While some forms of stylised dance have a place in some ancient liturgies (notably the Ethiopians) it has no place in the Roman Rite. However the urge to dance in church appears not to be so recent. I knew about the Seises in Seville cathedral and this article reveals:

The propriety of the religious dance was hotly contested at various epochs in the history of the Church. A council prohibited the practice in 692, but it was still very general in 1617. Saint Augustine was against it, but Saint Chrysostom took part in it. In the six­teenth century the dance was accompanied by a solemn game of ball in many French churches, and in 1683 it was the duty of the senior canon to lead a dance of choir-boys in the Paris Cathedral.

Well I`ve yet to see a ball game during Mass (just when you think you`ve seen it all......) but it does appear the whole concept of dance was severely frowned upon but survived somehow in Seville.

The Notitiae article says:

Neither can acceptance be had of the proposal to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because there would be presentation here also of a spectacle at which one would assist, while in the liturgy one of the norms from which one cannot prescind is that of participation.

Therefore, there is a great difference in cultures: what is well received in one culture cannot be taken on by another culture.

The traditional reserve of the seriousness of religious worship, and of the Latin worship in particular, must never be forgotten.

If the proposal of the religious dance in the West is really to be made welcome, care will have to be taken that in its regard a place be found outside of the liturgy, in assembly areas which are not strictly liturgical. Moreover, the priests must always be excluded from the dance.

We can recall how much was derived from the presence of the Samoans at Rome for the missionary festival of 1971. At the end of the Mass, they carried out their dance in St. Peter’s square: and all were joyful.

I have no problem with Samoans or anyone else dancing in St Peter`s Square after Mass or at a papal audience. All I can say is that it doesn`t help me to pray at Mass. In the meantime I suppose the whole issue will continue to be `hotly contested`.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I was recently at a secondary school Mass where, bishop Conry would be glad to hear, there was no Hail Mary at the end of the bidding prayers but instead there was one of those `liturgical` dances which we were told had something to do with Our Lady.

What particularly irritates me about all this is that we have to stop to watch a performance. ( Well I didn`t watch I kept my head in my hands.) However try suggestnig a polyphonic ordinary for the Mass and there will be a barrage of complaints about it being a performance which people can`t join in.

I know I should know this but is there anything anywhere that says that so-called `liturgical` dance is not allowed? I normally manage to walk out as it usually happens after Communion but I was rather stuck with it being halfway through.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dilston Mass cancelled.

Dilston chapel where I have said Mass for the last few years for the repose of the souls of the Radcliffe family has run into trouble. The North Peninnes Heritage Trust which was looking after the site has gone into receivership. MENCAP  who run Dilston College cannot take on the running  of two ancient monuments ( the chapel and the castle). So for the foreseeable future this site which is of such significance for Catholic history in the North East will be closed to the public. The Radcliffe items which were on loan from Ushaw  have been sent to the Conservation Department of Durham University. Further information can be found on the Friends` website. I hope we will eventually be able to go back to Dilston for our annual Mass.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


There has been quite a lot of discussion about what exactly constitiutes the Anglican patrimony which the Ordinariate is charged with preserving in the Catholic Church. The problem appears to be that many of those in the Ordinariate were already so Roman that there was little about them that was discernibly Anglican. Maybe a clue to what we might expect that will be different to the culture of the average Catholic parish may be seen in the musical programme for the Darlington Ordinariate. Maybe our cathedral might attempt something like this but generally this is sadly not what most Catholic parishes would be happy with. I`m looking forward to being at the ordination Mass.

The Darlington Ordinariate
at S. Anne’s Catholic Church,
Welbeck Avenue, Darlington, DL1 2DR.


29th May to 29th July 2012

Group Pastor: The Revd Ian Grieves
Organist and Director of Music: Mark Mawhinney
Organist and Assistant Director of Music: Keith Brown
Assistant Conductor: Gary Griffiths
Deputy Organist: Mark Holt
Choir Librarian: Constance Reeves

Choir Rehearsals: Sundays at 9.00 a.m. & at 11.30 a.m.
More information on 01325 465980

Tuesday 29th May               FATHER GRIEVES’ ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD at 7.00 pm
Setting:                                 Mass for Four Voices by Willam Byrd
Anthems:                              If ye love me, keep my commandments by Thomas Tallis
                                                Sacerdotes Domini by William Byrd
Voluntary:                            Carillon de Longport by Louis Vierne

Friday 1st June                                FATHER GRIEVES’ FIRST MASS at 7.30 pm
Setting:                                 Spatzenmesse in C  (Sparrow Mass) by Mozart
Anthems:                              Salve Regina (plainsong)
                                                The Spirit of the Lord by Edward Elgar
Voluntary:                            Nan danket alle Gott (Marche Triomphale Op 65) by Karg-Elert

Sunday 3rd June                 TRINITY SUNDAY at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                Holy, Holy, Holy (German Mass) by Schubert
Voluntary:                            Fugue in E flat (St. Anne) by J.S. Bach

Sunday 10th June               CORPUS CHRISTI at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd
Anthem:                                Ave verum corpus by Mozart
Voluntary:                            Fantasia in G major (Piece d’orgue) by J.S. Bach

Sunday 17th June               11th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                Cantate Domino by Guiseppe Pitoni
Voluntary:                            Prelude & Fugue in C (BWV 565) by J.S. Bach

Sunday 24th June               THE BIRTHDAY OF S. JOHN THE BAPTIST at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Mass in G  by Franz Schubert
Anthem:                                Ave verum corpus by William Byrd
Voluntary:                            Crown Imperial by William Walton

Sunday 1st July                   13th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                O thou the central orb by Charles Wood
Voluntary:                            Praeludium in G (Bux WV 149) by Dietrich Buxtehude

Sunday 8th July                   14th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                View me Lord by Richard Lloyd
Voluntary:                            Postlude in F by Alexandre Guilmant

Sunday 15th July                 15th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                Ave Maria by Edward Elgar
Voluntary:                            Toccata in Seven by John Rutter

Sunday 22nd July                16th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10.00 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                God be in my head by John Rutter
Voluntary:                            Toccata Gothique by Leon Boellmann (KRB)

Thursday 26th July             S. ANNE’S FESTIVAL at 7.30 pm
Setting:                                 Missa O quam gloriosum by Tomás Luis de Victoria
Anthems:                              O quam gloriosum by Tomás Luis de Victoria
                                                Salve Regina (plainsong)
Benediction:                                    Elgar & Henschel
Voluntary:                            Imperial March by Edward Elgar

Sunday 29th July                 17th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR at 10 am
Setting:                                 Missa de angelis (plainsong)
Anthem:                                My eyes for beauty pine by Herbert Howells
Voluntary:                            Toccata in G by Dubios

Monday, May 14, 2012

Aid to the Church in Need: Night of Witness: May 17th

This weekend at Mass we had a talk on the work of Aid to the Church in Need by local organiser Mike Collins. Mike has been here before but he came to remind us of the work of ACN and give us an update on the work they do. Our parish project is helping Argentinian sisters working in Egypt so we have a close link with ACN. All this reminded me that I`d not mentioned the Night of Witness organised for this Thursday in London. Mike told us that in the world today every five minutes a Christian is killed for their faith .

Here are the details for this Thursday:

Will you join with us and persecuted Christians around the world as we come 'Together in Faith' this May?

Our Night of Witness aims to bring religious freedom to the forefront of public debate and give a voice to millions of suffering Christians around the world.
As attacks against Christians – and Christianity itself – become more prevalent, please help us to give a voice to the persecuted Church.
Taking our lead from Pope Benedict XVI, we are hosting a public witness event at Westminster Cathedral and on the cathedral piazza, to:
  • Give a voice to Christians and others persecuted for their faith
  • Remind society of the gift of religious liberty
  • Call on the government to make religious freedom a diplomatic priority

Guests who have agreed to take part in the Night of Witness include:

NB We regret that Monsignor Roko Taban Mousa from Sudan will no longer be able to join us.
  • Archbishop Joseph Coutts from Pakistan
  • Bishop Joannes Zakaria from Egypt
  • Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton
  • Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster – greeting participants on the piazza
  • British Pakistani Christian Association
  • Iraqi Christians in Need
  • Priests and faithful from Iraq, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Lithuania

Performers on the Night of Witness include:

  • Catholic band ooberfuse, winners of the World Youth Day 2011 global song contest
  • Eliot Smith Dance Company debuting new piece Persecuted and Forgotten
  • Singer Helen Munt
  • West End Gospel Choir
  • Urdu Christian musician Hammad Baily
  • Catholic poet Sarah de Nordwall

Programme for the Night of Witness

Please join us for all or part of this inspiring evening:
5.30pm Sung Mass to remember the modern-day martyrs to the Faith, concelebrated by Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, Bishop Joannes Zakaria of Luxor, Egypt, and Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton.
6.30pm Rally for Religious Freedom on the cathedral piazza, celebrating our faith through speeches, music, drama, dance, poetry and film, with groups from Iraqi, Pakistani, Sudanese and Egyptian communities in the UK, as well as others.
7.30-8.30pm Solemn, candlelit vigil in Westminster Cathedral – in thanksgiving for the inspirational sacrifice of Christians today.

Please come 'Together in Faith' as Christians to make our concerns heard

Through music, prayer and speeches by guests from Pakistan, Egypt and the UK we will explore what it means to be a Christian today – both at home and abroad. And, through examples of the courage and faith of others, we can grow in faith
and resolve 'to stand in the public square and proclaim the Lord'.
The vigil will also be a public statement about our own right to religious freedom.
To find out how you, your parish, school or group can participate please email or call us on 020 8642 8668.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Northern Branch

Yesterday two of us from Hexham and Newcastle set off early to reach Leyland to attend the meeting of the Northern Chapter of the British branch of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. The meeting was hosted by Fr Simon Henry of the Offerimus Tibi Domine blog ( where you may read Fr Henry`s report)  and organised by Fr Brown of Leeds diocese. After coffee we listened to Canon Meney talk about the new shrine of the Blessed Sacrament and St Philomena at SS Peter and Paul`s New Brighton. He also spoke about the life of the Institute of Christ the King and some of the abuses that can creep into the saying of the Extraordinary Form. After lunch in a nearby hotel we reconvened for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction before setting off on the three hour journey back home.

I was very glad to be able to attend as I`d missed the opening conference last year at Reading and the first meeting of the northern chapter too. There were ten of us there but more than that number had sent apologies. The problem with the northern chapter is the distances involved in getting to meetings but it was well worth making the effort to enjoy the fraternity of brother priests and to enjoy Canon Meney`s input. The next meeting will being the autumn and it is suggested that it take place in Newcastle. More details to follow!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New auxiliary in St Andrews and Edinburgh

Having been a student in St Andrews I take some interest in what goes on north of the border. Nice to see the new auxiliary bishop announced today. Mgr Stephen Robson, has been celebrating the Extraordinary Form in his parish!

More to read about this here.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Many Thanks

Many thanks to everyone who send condolences on the death of my mother whether by card, letter, email or comment on this blog. We received just short of 200 cards and many Mass intentions. Many thanks to everyone who came to the Requiem Mass at St Peter`s in Low Fell: it was a great comfort to see so many people there. She is hugely  missed by her family and friends and by many parishioners at St Mary`s, Forest Hall and SS Peter and Paul`s Longbenton. May she rest in peace.