Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Goodbye and Hello

This will be the last post on Forest Murmurs. I`ve been in Gateshead two weeks now and the dust is finally beginning to settle enough to let me find my way here. I wouldn`t say everything is sorted out here. There`s still some stuff in boxes I can`t find a home for and I am in need of an electrician and plumber amongst others. This morning I took my cats out for a walk around their new garden which they seemed to find interesting and more importantly they both ran back into the presbytery of their own accord. Dizzy loves company and has had only mine for the most part so once he gets his bearings I expect he will be trying to get into Mass every day as he did at Forest Hall. If he gets into the day care centre for dementia sufferers on the ground floor I expect I`ll not see him for long stretches. 

I could write more about my new situation but I think that it would be more appropriate to do so on my new blog Gateshead Revisited which is here but still very much under construction. So farewell to FM and on to GR.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So simple

Thanks to Latin Mass in Clifton for drawing attention to Fr Tomlinson`s (of the Ordinariate)  simple explanation of ad orientem celebration. Makes sense to me.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Feast of the Assumption

With  all the controversial changes that were made to Holy Days of Obligation in England and Wales a few years ago I never cease to be amazed that it was considererd a good idea to keep the Assumption as a Holy Day and on the day given that it is in the middle of the holiday season.

There will be an Extraoardinary Form Low Mass at St Mary`s, Forest Hall on Thursday 15th August at 12 noon.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Extraordinary Form Mass

I had forgotten to mention in advance last weekend on the newsletter ( and have forgotten to put it on the newsletter this weeekend too) that there will be the first Sunday of the month EF Mass at St Mary`s, Forest Hall, this Sunday, August 4th, at 5pm. This will be the last of these Masses, which have proved more popular than I thought. The last EF Mass at St Mary`s, I expect, will be on Saturday 24th August.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Very alarming.

It`s always difficult to comment on a story without knowing the full background but it is fact that a decree has gone out forbidding the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate celebrating the Extraordinary Form either in public or private from  August 11th. Very worrying as this is in contravention of Summorum Pontificum. The founder Fr Manelli has been replaced as superior by a Capuchin too.

The FI are a thriving and young congregation. This is very depressing. Read about it here and here.Also Sandro Magister has an article entitled For the First Time Francis Contradicts Benedict. (H/t to Valle Adurni)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Good News for York

I was delighted to read today that the Oratorians are setting up a house at St Wilfrid`s in York. It`s a beautiful church although there was quite a controversy a number of years ago when the altar rails were removed. Having celebrated a Solemn Mass coram episcopo last year for the LMS pilgrimage and having been in choir for the hugely successful Missa Cantata in York Minster the year before there does appear to be a constituency for something more traditional in York and so I hope, Deo volente, it is a huge success.

I was celebrant last year I think because I rejoice in the position of LMS chaplain for the north of England. I wasn`t needed this year and suspect that will continue to be the case once the Oratory arrive. Above is a picture of the sanctuary from the 2012 Mass.

Friday, July 12, 2013


There were rumours that Pope Francis was not favourable to the project of the Anglican ordinariate on the basis of a remark he is said to have made when archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bishop Venables, Anglican bishop of Argentina reported:

He [Bergoglio] called me to have breakfast with him one morning and told me very clearly that the Ordinariate was quite unnecessary and that the Church needs us as Anglicans.

Now the Pope has turned his attention to the Ordinariate and made a change in their constitution so that people who have been baptised as Catholics but not been confirmed or made their first Communion can become members of the Anglican ordinariate. I dont know what to make of this. If he ordinariate is about preserving the valuable parts of the Anglican patrimony in the life of the Catholic Church how is this served by incorporating lapsed Catholics? On the other hand it is good to see the ordinariate being affirmed in their role and being entrusted with this mission to the lapsed.

I suppose we just have to wait to see how it pans out. I understand from our ordinariate parish at Gainford, near Darlington, that a number of the `normal` parishioners attend the ordinariate Mass. I know I would if I were them. Now he has turned his attention to the Anglican ordinariate will it be long before Pope Francis turns his attention to the Ecclesia Dei societies and what surprises might he have up his sleeve?

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Three year old sings Salve Regina on roof of St Peter`s

Who needs `This little light of mine ` or `One step along the road` at school Masses when pre-school children can (almost) sing the Salve Regina?!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A new altar

Last night I was invited to St Robert`s Morpeth for the dedication of the new altar and the re-dedication of the altar rails ( more on that later). The sanctuary at St Robert`s is tiny. The parish was founded by Benedictines from Douai. High Mass must have been a bit of a squash. Actually I`ve taken part in a few EF High Masses there and it was a bit of a squash. I never enjoyed preaching there as a curate as the lectern was right up against a wall. However following a fire in the sacristy during an eleven o`clock Sunday Mass last year repairs needed to be done and the parish priest, Fr Lawrence Jones decided to alter the altar.

Here is a photo of the new altar

The arches are based on those of the ruins of the cloister of nearby Newminster abbey. Which means they fit in quite well with other overall Gothic look of the church. This interested me because the last new altar dediction I went to was a few years ago at Our Lady and St Cuthbert`s in Prudhoe. I attach a picture of the dedication Mass

Here the altar is a white block of Chinese marble which does not blend in with anything else. On asking Fr Zielinksi, the then parish priest, why something more sympathetic to the style of the church was not made he told me that he had been told the new altar was not to blend in on the principle that each age adds it`s own contribution to a church and so the altar should look modern. Well it`s true you can find Gothic churches with baroque altars I suppose but I still thought it a terrible clash which made the rest of the church look out of place: a pity as it had been restored at great cost and was rather splendid otherwise.

The observant may notice that the old high altar is also still in place in Morpeth. This did surprise me but I was told that it had to be left. In front of it you will see the altar rails moved from the entrance of the sanctuary. The altar rails were commissioned as a memorial to parishioners who fell in the First World War and so as a war memorial could not be disposed of. The altar rails were rededicated last night after communion. It`s the first time in my twenty-five years as a priest I have ever known there be any official recognition that such things as altar rails exist! There is a plaque in the church porch with the names of the fallen. 

So all in all more of a nod to continuity than normally is the case. Here`s something else in matters liturgical to be getting on with.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It`s started.

It`s fair to say that Summorum Pontificum has not been enthusiastically received in some quarters. Today we read that Cardinal Lehmann has gone public and has said it was not a good idea. Let`s hope Pope Francis continues to be as robust in its defence as he was to the bishops of Apulia.

First Sunday Mass in July

There will be no EF Low Mass at St Mary`s on July 7th. I expect many people will want to be at St Dominic`s, Newcastle for the last of the EF Masses there. I will however celebrate the monthly Sunday Mass the following Sunday at 5pm.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why we need festivals

I`ve just heard Tom Shakespeare on Radio 4`s Point of View regretting the lack of festivals in English society. Blame it on the Reformation I say. You can hear it here for seven days from Sunday. He even talks about Gateshead. Now if only we could start by getting the Epiphany and Ascension on the proper days! I used to encourage the local branch of the NACF when I was chaplain many moons ago to make something of the Birthday of St John the Baptist. A visit to Santiago de Compostella on the feast of St James in the Holy Year of 2004 convinced me of the possibility of evangelisation through fireworks. However no-one seemed very interested.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blog Title

I`m still thinking about a blog title for when I move. At lunch today with seven other clerics I mentioned this. No sooner had I said it than one of the brethren, the Reverend Bunce, came up with `Gateshead Revisited`. Rather good I thought!

A Google search reveals Gateshead Revisited has been used many times but I can`t find a link wih a Catholic connection so I think it is still a good idea.

Friday, June 07, 2013

New background

For anyone wondering where the new background picture was taken it is from an LMS training conference at Ushaw and is one of the two chapels on either side of the door into St Cuthbert`s chapel. Those conferences were wonderful and I often wish we could have something similar without the need for training but just a residential conference on the Extraordinary Form such as happens elsewhere. 

While on the theme of redundant seminaries I was interested to read on the Eponymous Flower blog about the attempt by the Institute of Christ the King to buy an ex-seminary in Sardinia. I`ve only been to Gricigliano once and that was way back in 1992. It was beautiful but rather small. I understand there is an extension and new chapel but that they are looking for extra space is all to the good. As usual there is some local clerical opposition.This seminary closed in 1976 so maybe things will work out well for Ushaw in another forty years or so when the FSSP or another buy it!

A Google search on `Cuglieri seminario` brings up this webpage with two pictures of which this is the better. I think this is the right place as the article talks about the seminary closing in the 70`s and now belonging to the state.
The story first appeared on MessainLatino.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Forest to Murmur no more.

At the weekend I was able to reveal that the bishop has asked me to move parish. I have been eight years in Forest Hall and wondered if I might be reaching my sell-by date. However I was surprised to hear I will be moving back to my former parishes in Gateshead: St Wilfrid`s and St Joseph`s although this time I`ll be living at St Joseph`s. A community of sisters now lives at St Wilfrid`s presbytery.

Not being in Forest Hall made me think that it would be pointless still to continue Forest Murmurs. As this year we are celebrating Wagner`s two hundredth anniversary of his birth he might like his title back again!

Things are changing on Tyneside with the Extraordinary Form. The Mass which started at St Dominic`s in Newcastle in 1992 and which I used to celebrate twice a month for the first couple of years is going to stop. This means the only Sunday Mass on Tyneside will be the Gateshead one which I started at St Wilfrid`s in about 1997 before moving it to St Joseph`s where it has carried on being said by my successor Fr Adrian Dixon. Fr Dixon is having a sabbatical year so I`ll be taking on the weekly Sunday Mass again which I am happy to do. If the St Dominic`s congregation transfers across the river then there should be a sizeable congregation.

I will miss life at Forest Hall and Longbenton. My successor here will be Fr Sean Hall. While it has been a bit bumpy at times here I have also had good support and will miss many people. However I`m only going across the river to Gateshead. I look forward to working again with my former parishioners.
Bishop Seamus Cunningham at St Joseph`s

I will continue to blog but I need another title. Ite ad Joseph occurred to me first but it seems to be too general. One feature of St Joseph`s is that the site of the martyrdom of Blessed John Ingram is in the parish and his death is commemorated each year with a procession from Newcastle so `Doing the Ingram Walk` occurred to me but might be thought of as flippant. So I`m still waiting for inspiration. 

This isn`t the last post here. I`ve had in mind to do one on The Disappearing Glories of Killingworth but it requires me getting out with my camera and I`ve not got round to it as yet.

I move parish about the end of August. Going back to where you were seems popular at the moment

Saturday, June 01, 2013

First Sunday Mass

To avoid confusion this is to confirm that there will be the usual First Sunday Extraordinary Form Latin Mass at St Mary`s Forest Hall on Sunday 2nd June at 5pm. This will be preceded by Exposition  of the Blessed Sacrament from 4pm to coincide with the Holy Father`s request for all the Catholic world to have an hour of exposition at that time for the Year of Faith.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pope Francis defends Summorum Pontificum

Thanks to Messainlatino for the story of Pope Francis` recent meeting (16th May) with the bishops of Puglia who on their ad limina expressed unease with Summorum Pontificum and claimed it was causing great division in the Church. Pope Francis is reported as saying that while extreme traditionalists need to be watched there will be no overturning or reining in of the Motu Proprio but told them `to treasure the tradition and to create the conditions so that it may live with innovation` (ma suggerendo altresì di far tesoro della tradizione e di creare i presupposti perché questa possa convivere con l’innovazione).

An interesting concert

I just noticed an advert for this concert of recusant music to be held at Ushaw on June 29th at 7.30pm. I may try to get along although buying tickets is not very easy. Ushaw seems to be more interesting now it is closed! The concert will include the first modern performances of music originally created for the court of the Cardinal Duke of York. Let`s hope the music isn`t as dull as Benedict XIV said the Cardinal Duke was.


St Cuthbert’s Chapel, Ushaw.
Time: 7:30pm start (seated by 7:20pm)
Ticket price: £10
Catholic Theology in the public Academy
A programme of sacred and secular vocal and instrumental music associated with the British Catholic recusant community from the late 16th century and the break with Rome to the late 18th century. Includes works by William Byrd, Matthew Locke, Innocenzo Fede, Nicola Matteis and some exciting first modern performances of new discoveries.
Please send cheques and include either email or postal address to receive tickets. Cheques
should be made payable to “
Durham University Centre for Catholic Studies
” to:
Dr Lucy Underwood,
Department of Theology and Religion,
Centre for Catholic Studies,
Durham University,
Abbey House,
Palace Green,
Durham DH1 3RS,
England, UK.
For further information:
Dr Lucy Underwood:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Corpus Christi

Just to mention there will be an Extraordinary Form Mass for Corpus Christi at St Mary`s, Forest Hall on Thursday May 30th at 7.30pm. The Schola Sancti Baedae will sing. All welcome

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Ordinariate at Gainford

As mentioned in the previous post last night I was due at the ordinariate May Festival in Gainford. This is way down south, somewhere near Darlington, and my sat nav told me it would take 70 minutes to get there. I`ve never been to Gainford before but had heard good reports from Fr Michael Melia who used to live there in retirement. I was somewhat alarmed when heading down the A1 to be welcomed to North Yorkshire as I thought it must at least be in Co Durham but eventually the side roads took me back into Co. Durham and I arrived on a lovely spring night which fortunately remained dry for the outdoor procession.

The Mass was lovely, the singing amazing. If you are ever near Gainford on a Sunday morning do go and you will hear something you will never forget. The Mass was simply that from the OF Roman Missal but everything was done with great care and attention to detail. After Mass we processed to the newly-restored grotto to sing the Salve and then went back to church for Benediction.

There were a number of the original Catholic congregation from Gainford at the Mass and the vicar of St Helen`s, Bishop Auckland with some of his flock. The church was almost full, At the refreshments afterwards I was able to speak to members of the congregation and was pleased to hear that the ordinariate congregation is growing with a number of converts to be received on Pentecost Sunday. The total membership of the ordinariate congregation at the minute is 71.

I am a great fan of the ordinariate and wish it had happened back in the 90`s. The question always arises what is the Anglican patrimony they seek to preserve so as to be a bridge into Catholic unity for the Anglican tradition? Well the Mass last night was straight from the Roman Missal but there is an ethos which made it distinctive. Catholics can be reluctant singers but this congregation raised the roof and like to sing all the verses of hymns. I`ve heard Catholics even complain about the ordinariate because they like to sing. Also the altar servers were impressive in their seriousness and attention to detail. All of this could be done in a mainstream Catholic parish but there is something about the ethos of our parishes which is not open to music of this sort outside of cathedrals or a few parishes in central London. I know because I have tried with introducing chant here at the 10.30 Sunday Mass at Forest Hall. Apart from complaints about having a Latin Gloria at all people expect the repertoire they have grown used to an I don`t know how to expand that.

As regards the ordinariate one thing which I would have thought was part of the Anglican patrimony was a married clergy. It is interesting to read that the ordinariate in England have accepted a married man for seminary training as is allowed in the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus and it is somewhat disappointing that Fr Bradley says this is a one-off. I hope the ordinariate will offer a familiar home to Anglicans looking for a bridge to enjoying full communion with the Catholic Church and won`t be overly-Romanised as has happened with Eastern Uniate groups in the West at times.

Friday, May 10, 2013

May Festival

Things have almost ground to a halt on Forest Murmurs and there are things I have in mind to mention. This is very late but just to say I`m getting ready to go to the May festival at  the local Anglican Ordinariate parish at Ganford near Darlington. I`m honoured to be asked to preach especially as I wouldn`t say I was a natural orator. However it looks like benig a splendid evening with Mozart`s Spatzenmesse. The ordinariate website is here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Work finished

Back in 2006 I contacted Sr Petra Clare to ask her to create some icons for my two parishes. Now at last they are complete. Just before Easter Sister sent two roundels for St Mary`s one of a dove and one of a crown to accompany the icons of the Annunciation and Coronation of Our Lady. So here are pictures of the finished items. Many thanks to Sr Petra Clare.

This was where we started in 2005 and I dare say some preferred this but I hope some parishioners have grown to like the present arrangement.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Offerings for the Infant King

Mention of the Institute of Christ the King reminds me I have been asked to mention to devotion to the Infant King promoted by the Institute. Offerings to the Infant King take place from the 17th - 25th of each month. Everyone submits their intentions by the 14th of each month and they are then included/remembered in that month's Infant King Novena and a few special Masses by the priests. Flowers and/or candles can be offered with one's prayers. More information can be found on the website.

New vocations` crisis

There appears to be a new vocations crisis plaguing the Catholic Church in the UK: a shortage of vocations to the episcopate! I can`t remember there being anything like this before but the situation is getting very serious. Sees needing a new bishop at the minute include East Anglia, Brentwood, Leeds, Liverpool, Hallam, St Andrews and Edinburgh, Paisley and Dunkeld. The Catholic Hierarchy site provides a quick guide but its list of vacant sees does not include Hallam and Brentwood where the bishops have passed the retirement age so I include those too.

I think most readers of this blog would have been excited by the appointments to Shrewsbury and Portsmouth not least because bishop Davies introduced the Institute of Christ the King to his diocese. Conversations with groups of priests often touches on the lack of recent appointments: East Anglia has been vacant since July 2011.

So something else to pray about as the English bishops attend a retreat at Villa Palazzola this week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Proof the shroud is not medieval

Good news from Andrea Tornielli on the Vatican Insider site. New tests have identified the Turin Shroud as being of first century AD provenance. The article is here. An excerpt:

The new tests carried out in the University of Padua labs were carried out by a number of university professors from various Italian universities and agree that the Shroud dates back to the period when Jesus Christ was crucified in Jerusalem. Final results show that the Shroud fibres examined produced the following dates, all of which are 95% certain and centuries away from the medieval dating obtained with Carbon-14 testing in 1988: the dates given to the Shroud after FT-IR testing, is 300 BC ±400, 200 BC ±500 after Raman testing and 400 AD ±400 after multi-parametric mechanical testing. The average of all three dates is 33 BC  ±250 years. The book’s authors observed that the uncertainty of this date is less than the single uncertainties and the date is compatible with the historic date of Jesus’ death on the cross, which historians claim occurred in 30 AD.

More in the Telegraph.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

`Can you say that I'm too old, when the angels have stolen my red shoes?`

I wasn`t too fussed that Pope Francis had decided not to wear the papal red shoes. After this post by the FSSR I`m beginning to think again. I didn`t think papal non-liturgical garb was formalised in the first millennium but I want to look into this more. If it`s true I`d be very sad to see the end of a tradition with such long roots.

On the other hand I can`t get this song out of my head at the minute.

Apologies to all those who don`t like Elvis Costello.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The FSSP and Longbenton

Sadly this is not to announce that the FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St Peter) have been given a church in the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. While we have a few redundant churches I think we will wait a long time before our diocese catches up with the universal Church and is open to Ecclesia Dei societies. No, what it is is that I recently received the new issue of the FSSP quarterly magazine `Dowry` and was surprised to see a photo on page 8 of children from St Stephen`s primary with their inspirational headteacher, Mr Fallon, at Twickenham for the papal visit in 2010 as part of an article on Catholic education! The whole magazine is available online and can be found here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Can Pope Francis help find the missing Monteverdi operas?

When there were such things as well-stocked classical CD shops, I often used to browse and always looked through the Monteverdi section just in case someone had found one of his lost operas and recorded it without me knowing. I love the music of Monteverdi from Orfeo to the 1610 Vespers, the eighth book of madrigals and the coronation of Poppea.  And he became a priest for the last eleven years of his life! Only three of his eighteen operas survive. I have listened to operas by his contemporaries such as Cavalli and Cesti but they are not in the same league.
So I was intrigued to read on the Intermezzo music blog that Cecilia Bartoli believes that they may survive in the Vatican library. Miss Bartoli has a difficult relationship with the church in that she turned down an opportunity to sing at the Vatican because she would not divulge her views on abortion. Her latest CD, Mission, dedicated to the music of Agostino Steffani, Italian bishop and papal diplomat of the late seventeenth century, has numerous bizarre pictures in the accompanying leaflet of Miss Bartoli with shaven head dressed as a bishop!
However Intermezzo points out that Pope Francis is an opera-lover so maybe he will be sympathetic to the suggestion. Although there again he may have one or two other things to think about at the minute....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francis

Well I said I was at a loss to know who I would like for Pope. The election of Pope Francis was a bigger surprise than I expected. To start with he is a lot older than I thought we were due. I didn`t think we were going to have another `caretaker` pope. Secondly I felt sad that he chose not to wear the rochet and mozzetta on the balcony and didn`t sing the blessing etc, all of which has been commented on elsewhere.

However as Fr Somerville-Knapman says:

Pope Francis might not be the pope I was hoping for, but he seems like the pope we all need.

Certainly his preaching style is quite a change. We`ve grown used to papal preaching being delievered from a prepared text. Pope Francis doesn`t seem to use notes. As this video shows he is not shy with crowds and I think we can see what to expect at World Youth Day

The sermon starts at 2.16.

I`m slowly trying to get together on this. it appears he is not very sympathetic to Summorum Pontificum. Even I would say there are plenty of other pressing issues in the Church but let`s hope for a change of heart on this one.

So God bless the Pope. I still find it unsettling that his predecessor is alive and well and who knows may even outlive Pope Francis. Or Pope Francis may also abdicate in a few years and we could have two popes emeriti! Strange times indeed.

Some good news

Rather late with this having been somewhat distracted but there was some good news from Westminster diocese last week as two parishes have been asked to celebrate the Extraordniary Form each Sunday. It cheered me up a lot at the time. Here is the press release:

LMS Press Release: some very good news.

We are delighted to announce that there will be weekly Sunday Masses in the Extraordinary Form at two new venues in the Archdiocese of Westminster in the near future.

The Masses will take place in St Albans in the parish of St Bartholomew’s, 47 Vesta Avenue, St Albans, AL1 2PE, and in Willesden, north-west London, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden, Nicoll Road, London NW10 9AX. In both cases, the parish priests have been asked by the archdiocese to learn and celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

2011 06 22_0178
Our Lady of Willesden, London NW10
Neither Fr Tim Edgar of St Albans nor Fr Stephen Willis of Willesden has previously celebrated the Extraordinary Form, but both are approaching the opportunity of offering the ancient form of Mass with a very positive and pastoral attitude. It will obviously take some time for them to reach the necessary level of proficiency to start offering Masses publicly. Nevertheless, training has begun and regular weekly Masses on Sundays will start later this year on dates and at times yet to be announced. Their parishioners have already been consulted and informed about the introduction of the Extraordinary Form in their parishes and the reaction has been positive.

2011 06 22_0180
Interior of Our Lady of Willesden
This very good news follows meetings between the LMS and the archdiocese over a period of a year or more, in which LMS Chairman Dr Joseph Shaw, Local Representative for Hertfordshire Mike Mason, and LMS General Manager Mike Lord met with Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop John Sherrington a number of times to discuss wider provision of the Extraordinary Form.

The LMS would like to thank Bishop Hopes, Bishop Sherrington and Archbishop Vincent Nichols for their work in helping to make the Traditional Mass available in these areas of the Archdiocese of Westminster.

LMS General Manager Mike Lord commented: ‘We are very pleased at this positive response from the archdiocese to what has been something of a pastoral crisis in Hertfordshire and north-west London in recent years for Catholics attached to the Extraordinary Form of Mass.

'It is doubly pleasing that the parish priest in each case has been asked to be the principal celebrant. The Traditional Mass needs to become a full and accepted part of parish life in dioceses across the country with an important role to play in drawing the faithful closer to Christ, especially in this Year of Faith. In the cases of St Albans and Willesden, the Extraordinary Form is set to do just that.’

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Time to open the box!

I still can`t get that worked up about who I would like to see as pope but from a Geordie perspective Odilo Scherer would be good (if pronounced as Shearer and it may not be). Or Cañizares Llovera if pronounced Canny Zares. He might also be the smallest pope ever if elected. Cardinal Ranjith used to say exciting things when at the CDW but hasn`t said much that has been picked up since going home. I don`t know: what we need is leader with a bit of charisma who can restore confidence in the Church. And a few saints would be a help.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hard Times

Thanks to E F Pastoremeritus for voicing what I was wondering: why have the allegations against Cardinal O`Brien not surfaced until now? As others have noted Cardinal Pell had to face similar accusations and was cleared so we`ll have to wait and see. All this and only two days of Benedict XVI left. For as long as I have taken an interest in church affairs Ratzinger has been a major figure. It all feels very strange at the minute not knowing what to expect next. As Fr Rowe says 

You see it has now been eight years or so that on a parish level you could always say that you were simply following the vision of the Holy Father. This could all be very different very soon.

Life could become a lot more difficult with a change of approach.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Dome of Home

I realise most people may have already seen this on Fr Blake`s blog but I put it here for those who don`t venture that far and to show what can be done with redundant churches rather than closing them rather abruptly. One day I hope to go to New Brighton. In fact I`m rather surprised I`ve not been there already.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I`m slowly getting thoughts together after Monday`s news of Pope Benedict`s resignation/abdication/retirement. It`s going to be a strange world without Joseph Ratzinger at the helm. I can`t remember when I first became aware of him but I know that by 1985 he`d become well known for the Ratzinger Report which had the temerity to point out that not everything in the post-conciliar garden was lovely. Such was the outrage that a number of profs at Ushaw were demanding that the book not be stocked in the seminary bookshop. I loved the book. I got myself an A4 photo of the cardinal and put it framed on my wall in seminary. Somehow I still got through.

Like many I was over the moon when he became pope and waited for what seemed an eternity for the document that would free the old Roman Rite. It is only disappointing that as pope Benedict never made a public appearance at an Extraordinary Form Mass. Still Summorum Pontificum is in the Church`s life now and isn`t going to disappear. Thank you again Holy Father.

I can`t get very excited about who will be the next pope. From an Extraordinary Form perspective Cardinal Raymond Burke would be most desirable. I remember him as a Rotal Judge when I was doing the canon law licence in Rome in 1990-92. Among the present college Cardinals Versaldi, Erdo, De Paulis and Coccopalmerio all taught us at the Greg. in those days. Having one of them as pope would be interesting but I really can`t get that too motivated by any of the prospects: not like last time when I was praying it would be Ratzinger.

Finally we saw spontaneous applause for the Pope at the end of Mass yesterday in St Peter`s. I immediately thought as I`m sure many others did of this passage in The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger:

"Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. " (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198)

I just wondered whether he was thinking `Why do they not take any notice of what I say?` 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle Pastoral Letter

I thought this was rather good today.

My dear people,
In October last year the Holy Father chaired a synod in Rome to begin the Year of Faith.
The purpose of the Synod was to discuss New Evangelisation - in other words to discuss
how we can be inspired and how we can inspire others to follow Jesus Christ more closely.
On a number of occasions during the Synod great emphasis was placed on the importance
of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). I would like to share with you some
thoughts about this wonderful gift of healing.
For us to understand this sacrament of confession and reconciliation we need to discover
something of who our heavenly Father is.  In the book of Jeremiah God speaks to each
one of us when he says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love and I am constant in
my affection for you”.  Our God is a God of mercy, a God of compassion, and a God who
constantly heals us if we open our hearts to the love that only He can offer.
As I’m sure you have experienced sometimes it can be difficult to open our hearts to the
love of God. It can be challenging to come before the Lord and be honest about the
things we have done or failed to do.  We find ourselves in this condition because of sin.
The word sin is a way of describing something that causes us to turn away from God’s
love; it is something which closes our hearts to God’s affection. As a result of our
sinfulness we become damaged: gradually we become uneasy with God, uneasy with
ourselves and uneasy with others. We can be divided people who are beside ourselves.
When we are like this we are not living life to the full, we are not the people we were
created to be.  However there is a remedy, there is a constant source of mercy which puts
us back on track.
We all know that for us to be healed by a doctor we must first describe what we are
suffering from.  In the same way, and more importantly, in order for the God of
compassion to heal us we must enter the sacrament of reconciliation and cry out with our
hearts, “Here I am Lord, this is me.  This is the kind of person I am.  I am weak, selfish,
self-centred, hurt, I am wounded, I am broken and I am in need of healing.”  In this
intimate moment with Christ we examine ourselves thoroughly so that the love of God can
penetrate the depths of our being and we allow Him to bring to the surface all those areas
that are hurting and in need of healing.  When they surface it is important for us to be
totally honest with ourselves and God.  The priest then prays one of the most beautiful
prayers we have in the Church, in which he says to us, “Through the ministry of the
Church, may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins, in the
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
In this intimate moment with God we encounter the healing Christ who makes us whole
and helps us to look to the future with hope. This sacrament which today can be widely
ignored is essential for the future of our Church, for the New Evangelisation and for our
own salvation. God’s mercy given to us in confession brings us peace, joy and happiness
because only as forgiven children of the Father can we enter God’s Kingdom.
This week we begin the season of Lent, and so I have asked all Deans to arrange for
confessions in as many of the churches in the deanery as possible at the same time on the
same day.  This is to ensure that there will be an opportunity for you all to participate in
the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent.  I suggested Wednesday from 6pm until 7pm
but this may not be possible in every parish.  (If this time is a problem for your particular
parish then your priest will inform you of another time slot which will remain the same
each week).
I too will be available to you for the Sacrament of Reconciliation at St Mary’s Cathedral on
Saturday 16th and Saturday 23rd February between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm.
I would like to encourage you - and ask you to encourage one another - to celebrate this
sacrament in a very special way throughout this Year of Faith.  I can assure you this will
bring much joy and happiness into your life.  You will be closer to God as a result and you
will experience His mercy and compassion in perhaps ways that you have yet to
With my very best wishes
 Rt Rev Seamus Cunningham
Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

1700 years of freedom

There are quite a number of anniversaries occuring in 2013. There has been a lot about the bi-centenaries of the births of Wagner and Verdi. Also the publication of Pride and Prejudice was in 1813. 1913 saw the first performance of Stravinsky`s Rite of Spring. However I have seen very little to mark the Edict of Milan in 313 which granted freedom to Christians. It appears the Serbian Orthodox are celebrating and this even drew a comment from the papal nuncio to Serbia but I`ve not noticed much else.

I only thought about it recently, when the local Methodist magazine came through my letter box and I was surprised to see the front cover given over to the Edict of Milan, and am now thinking it may be worth trying to have a Solemn High Mass to mark the occasion given that we can`t always take freedom for granted.  Before anyone is tempted to say the conversion of Constantine was a disaster for the Church let`s just say that that was not how it seemed to Christians at the time.

This from Eusebius` Life of Constantine:

Chapter XV.—How Constantine entertained the Bishops on the Occasion of His Vicennalia.
About this time he completed the twentieth year of his reign.3251 On this occasion public festivals were celebrated by the people of the provinces generally, but the emperor himself invited and feasted with those ministers of God 524whom he had reconciled, and thus offered as it were through them a suitable sacrifice to God. Not one of the bishops was wanting at the imperial banquet,3252 the circumstances of which were splendid beyond description. Detachments of the body-guard and other troops surrounded the entrance of the palace with drawn swords, and through the midst of these the men of God proceeded without fear into the innermost of the imperial apartments, in which some were the emperor’s own companions at table, while others reclined on couches arranged on either side.3253 One might have thought that a picture of Christ’s kingdom was thus shadowed forth, and a dream rather than reality.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Richard III wasn`t an Anglican

If you think he should be buried accordnig to the rites of the religion he professsed, sign here.
Thanks to Fr Henry for his more detailed treatment of the matter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Icons of SS Peter and Paul

Just before Christmas Sr Petra Clare sent the icons for the church of  Ss Peter and Paul in Longbenton. Davey put them up a week past Thursday. What with snow and me forgetting to take my camera it has taken  a while to get some photos together.

I`m glad that the church now has icons of its patron saints.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Clergy retreat in Bavaria 15-19 April 2013,

Clergy retreat in Bavaria 15-19 April 2013,    led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP.

Come and pray next door to one of the largest international seminaries 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. 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 by 4pm.
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: £120). Extra cost for the optional tourism day: add about £50 in total.
Booking: Please send us your full name, surname, address and contact details with your £100 deposit made payable to FSSP ENGLAND.
Info – Contact: Please contact Fr de Malleray if you have any questions: St John Fisher House, 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading RG1 5RU, England
Email:                   Tel.:   0118  966  5284.
UK priests report:
Fr Simon Henry, P.P., Liverpool Archdiocese: “The Seminary is part of an extensive site that is a place of Marian pilgrimage. So successful has the seminary proved that an extension was opened in 2000 by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to house the present number of 80 seminarians. I managed to sit in the Rector’s place in the refectory on the first day there, thus finding myself in pleasant conversation with the Superior General of the Fraternity, Fr John Berg – an urbane American. It was an example of the kindness and hospitality that is extended to all guests that the Rector, Fr Banauch, just sat to the other side of me and I remained in blissful ignorance of my blunder. The weather was lovely looking out through the windows”.
Fr Leon Pereira, OP, Subprior of St Dominic’s, London, and Professor at Oscott College: “I must say how impressed I am by the quality of the seminarians at Wigratzbad. Everywhere we were greeted warmly and courteously.
The seminarians struck me as pretty normal young men, prayerful without any false piety or affectation, and intellectually curious (that delighted me as a Dominican). I noticed how in their conversations, there was never any fixation with rubricism, even when they were unguarded and recreating. They asked me a lot about St Thomas, and clearly knew a lot themselves. And they expressed curiosity and an unfeigned fraternal solicitude for the seminarians I teach at Oscott. All very edifying indeed!”
Fr Barry Hughes, P.P., Southwark Archdiocese: “A memorable part of my travels was the hospitality of the seminary of the Fraternity of St Peter. I was astonished to learn that it was bursting at the seams with 80 students, taking the full course, but with especial focus on the Traditional Mass. While many ordinary seminaries have closed, or are half empty, this one has a constant supply of young men, mostly from France and Germany – we did find a Lancastrian among them. This was, after all, a pilgrimage, and a valued feature was a day of recollection, in silence, nourished by reflections from St John Vianney and Pope St Pius X.”
Fr Michael Brown, P.P., Hexham & Newcastle Diocese, reports on a clergy pilgrimage with Fr de Malleray: “On Wednesday we had a day of silent retreat in the house. Fr de Malleray gave us four conferences on the priestly life and we had readings at meals from St Pius X’s exhortation on the priestly life Haerent animo. Fr de Malleray recommended to us Bl. Columba Marmion’s Christ, the Life of the Priest as the best book he has read on the priesthood. I have had a copy for many years and intend to read it in this Year of the Priesthood. Father’s talks were both practical and challenging and gave me at least, much food for thought.”
A 400-strong priestly community serving in 110 dioceses (3 in the UK), the FSSP has ordained 6 British priests over the last 10 years and currently has 9 seminarians from these Isles on formation, including 3 in Wigratzbad. Please pray for us, and for more good priestly vocations from this country. God bless you and your ministry. Visit us on  

Sunday, January 06, 2013

St John Bosco

The relics of St John Bosco have arrived in the UK. Sadly their itinerary does not include the North East of England. Maybe this is because the resposnse to the relics of St Therese was rather poor in Newcastle. However I notice that he is weaing a maniple, something I`ve not seen any Salesian priest do. I do hope this doesn`t mean he is against Vatican II!

For statistics for the visit of the relics of St Therese see here.  There were 5000 visitors in Newcastle. This included visitors from Scotland. In Middlesbrough there were 15,000, in York 10,000 and even in Portsmouth 4,500. Then there were the 30,000 at Salford!