Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Collect would have been:
06 March 2014
Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Collect would have been:
27 February 2014
Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. the Collect would have been:
O almighty and eternal God, who didst cause our Saviour to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer the death of the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his humility; mercifully grant that as we keep the solemn commemoration of his passion, we may deserve both to keep in mind the lessons of his patience, and also to be made partakers of his resurrection.
24 February 2014
Fr Amorth, the exorcist, is reported to have received the Last Rites. Of all holy priests, he will be the target for the enemy. Please pray for him at this time.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven.
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world.
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost.
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God.
have mercy on us.
R. Pray for Him
Holy Mary... All you holy Angels and Archangels...
All the choirs of the just...
St. John the Baptist...
All you holy Patriarchs and Prophets...
All you holy apostles and evangelists...
All you holy disciples of the Lord...
All you holy innocents...
All you holy martyrs...
All you holy bishops and confessors...
St. John of God...
All you holy monks and hermits...
St. Mary Magdalene...
All you holy virgins and widows...
All you holy saints of God
intercede for him
Be merciful, spare him, O Lord!
R. Deliver Him, O Lord
From sudden death...
From violent death...
From the pains of hell...
From all evil...
From the power of the devil...
Through Your birth...
Through Your cross and passion...
Through Your death and burial...
Through Your glorious resurrection...
Through Your admirable ascension...
Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter...
In the day of judgment...
R. We beseech You, hear us.
That You spare him
R. We beseech You, hear us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
22 February 2014
Today is the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in the modern calendar, but until Bugnini, it was the Feast of the Chair of St Peter at Antioch. As it used exactly the same Mass as the Chair of St Peter at Rome, celebrated on 18 January, it was clear to the ordering mind of the Archbishop that these were feasts ripe to be merged, like the separate feasts of the three Archangels.
The problem is that they used to commemorate two separate things: the Chair at Antioch celebrates Episcopacy, the role of the Bishop in relation to his local Church; the Chair of St Peter celebrates Papacy, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, and the possibility of the translation of Bishops from other local Churches to assume this role.
It must have seemed so mediaeval!
16 February 2014
Tomorrow, 17 February, we should be celebrating the Feast of the Flight into Egypt, but it appears to have been suppressed during the Pius X calendar reform.
It is a great pity: apart from the relevance in our time of this feast to political refugees, to the Catholics in biblical lands who are having to flee their homes, we also have the example of St Joseph, both in his obedience to the message of an angel and in his acceptance of his role of father and protector of his family.
The Collect is as follows: O God, the protector of those that hope in Thee, who didst will to deliver thy only-begotten Son, our Redeemer, from the sword of Herod, by the flight into Egypt; grant to us, thy servants, through the intercession of his most blessed mother, Mary, ever virgin, that being freed from all dangers of mind and body, we may deserve to arrive at our heavenly country.
15 February 2014
In the Missal which arrived yesterday, there are two pictures of prelates. Who are they?
The Missal received approval from Bishops Walsh and Wiseman in Birmingham in September 1845. They were Vicar Apostolic and Coadjutor Vicar Apostolic for the Central District at the time.
I could convince myself that the lower one could be Pope Gregory XVI, then gloriously reigning, but who could the higher one be? I don't think either is Wiseman, and I haven't got a clue what Bishop Walsh looked like. The caption to the first picture simply records that it was engraved by H Adlard after a sketch by H W Phillips Esq.
All help gratefully received.
10 February 2014
You know what it's like when someone goes on at you a bit to read a book. It can easily become something you'll say you'll do, while putting off for as long as possible actually doing it.
I don't know when OTSOTA began to talk about Lord Of The World, by Mgr R H Benson, and about Pope Francis' reading of it. I just knew I'd read it a while ago and it was nowhere near top of my "books to be reread" list. But Paul kept dropping it into posts and tweets, not saying anything about me reading it again, but, consciously or unconsciously, doing a Chinese water torture on me so that, faced with a transatlantic flight, and the long, long, afternoon of the London to the East Coast flight, I resolved to reread it.
The first thing to shock me was how long ago it must be since I read it, probably at the time when I read much of RHB's works. The second was that, insofar as I had remembered it, it was as a science fiction novel in the style of HG Wells. It isn't.
It is a prophetic novel: it is written about the Last Things, the End of the World, the final attempt by the Devil to defeat God and become Lord of this world. That's not to say that the time is nigh: nobody knows the day or the hour. But what he describes in prophetic detail is the manner in which the Devil would twist the social impulses of the beginning of the democratic age into a world fit for him, and not for God.
The surrender of non-Catholic churches to the Zeitgeist; the increasing hostility, and then the militant opposition of atheists to all that the Church represents; the corrosion of the Church from within; the apathy of Catholics which leads to loss of Faith: RHB describes our world.
It continues to disturb me, as, obviously, it does the Pope. When the focus of Humanism becomes Man, instead of man formed in God's image and likeness; when the subjective "what suits me" replaces "what is my duty"; when loyalty to the Church and its beliefs can be portrayed as treason towards what the majority of people believe in, and therefore what is right to believe; this is the work of the Lord of the World.
The attack by the UN on the Church, made possible by very bad people allowing the Devil to penetrate the Church itself, is a call to arms, as well as a call to prayer, fasting and repentance. These may or may not be the Last Times: prepare as though they are; prepare as though they aren't. But the Devil is making great strides, in the Old World at least, and it is hard to see how in the rest of my life I am not going to see the Church, as I have known Her, disappear from any part of the life of nearly everybody I will meet. And it is our duty to fight it, whatever the cost.
The book won't be for everyone, but I'm glad OTSOTA nagged me to rereading it. Have a think about the last time you had heard a cleric below the rank of Pope refer, in your hearing, and not during a recital of the baptismal promises, to the Devil; and wonder why.
01 February 2014
It probably won't surprise anybody who reads this to learn that I am not a follower of the Neocatechuminal Way, but I have always recognised that those who are followers are good people who like to practice their faith in a different way from me. You can tell how centred in the Church a movement is by watching its attitude to the maxim "sentire cum ecclesia": when the neo-cats were told to change the way they celebrated Mass within their community they did so, and without complaining; in exactly the same way that the FFI are doing exactly what the competent authority is telling them to do.
What stands out with them, and was particularly manifest in their meeting with the Pope today is their complete openness to the Gospel of Life. This is a young movement, full of children, young priests, young seminarians; with children with Downs Syndrome, with handicapped children; and all united and happy around their Pope.
Neither the Pope nor Abp Gänswein looked particularly at home when Kiko Argüello took up his guitar and sang, but the joy of those present was the joy of praise which the Pope spoke of at his daily Mass this week: not some sort of mass produced, let's make our music sound like the radio, look how clever I am as a song writer; but the joyful sound of God being praised.
Most important was the missionary dimension: here are families who, with their priests are going out in partibus infidelium to bring the Good News to those who are not part of the Church, with no thought for how they will live because of their certainty that God will provide.
This is a real example of where the Church can go, and how.
I very deliberately compared the kikos to the FFI: both new movements are frightening to those who think they know what Church organisations should look like. Even at the Vatican the neo-Cats were reminded that they had to be part of diocesan structures, must not be a separate sect. (And how much more, as an Order, the FFI must be integrated in the life of the Church.)
But whatever the worries, whatever the jealousies, the difficulties they have undergone have been resolved simply because of their obedience. Sooner or later, the most zealous prosecutor has to recognise that there is no case, and that is the point where the young shoot can grow vigorously, flower and begin to propagate itself.
The Neo-Cats aren't for me, as the charismatics aren't, and as the LMS isn't. We are allowed a lot of leeway in how we practice our faith. But the thing that unites all of the young movements in the Church is their loyalty to Peter; their fidelity to the Magisterium. Imagine that it is the Ordinariate that has been given a particular mandate for evangelisation in England and Wales.
The reason that the heretics and heterodox in the Church are so vocal and fighting so hard at the moment is that they have realised that their day has passed. The future is in full view and while bits of it are uncomfortable for some of us, it is God's.
30 January 2014
I said last time that the calendar reform of the early twentieth century had seen a radical cull of Lenten feasts. Here they are, with this year's dates. (This is the order for England and Wales.)
Friday after Septuagesima
The Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Sexagesima
The Most Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Quinquagesima
The Most Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after First Sunday of Lent
The Most Holy Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Second Sunday of Lent
The Most Holy Winding Sheet of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Third Sunday of Lent
The Five Sacred Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Passion Sunday
(The Seven Sorrows of the BVM)
(The Feast of the Seven Sorrows is in brackets as it was retained when the others were abolished, though it was subsequently reduced to a Commemoration by Pope Pius XII and has been moved to 15 September as a Memorial in the post-VII calendar.)
Losing these feasts is an impoverishment: there are seven opportunities to preach, to catechise, to meditate on different aspects of Our Lord's Passion as Good Friday draws nearer, and on the final Friday, to join Our Lady in contemplating her seven sorrows; and while there is no reason why we shouldn't mark these Feasts on their traditional days, I doubt that many of us will, mainly because they are no longer part of the geography of our lives.
Each of the twentieth century's calendar reforms, which aimed at simplification, took away, but didn't replace. Simplification became reduction. In stripping away "superfluous" Feasts, the thing they commemorated was gradually forgotten.
This isn't a plea to bring back the Calendar of Leo XIII - well ... I suppose we could do worse than compare the starkly empty 2014 Ordo with what it would have looked like 110 years previously. But I'd rather think about how the Church might revitalise catachetics and reintroduce (or more often introduce) today's Catholics to the multidimensional richness of their Faith.
22 January 2014
Once upon a time - just over a hundred years ago - we would have celebrated the feast of the Espousals of the BVM tomorrow.
Insofar as we commemorate the Sacrament of Matrimony, we tend to think of the Marriage Feast of Cana, but that tends to involve preaching on the first public miracle, Jesus doing what his Mother asks, and (embarrassingly, sometimes) "there's nothing wrong with the occasional skinful".
Our Lady's marriage to St Joseph is a much deeper model, and not just for those of us who are married. The necessity of marriage is shown in the angel's coming to tell an already compassionate Joseph faced with her pregnancy that he was to marry Mary.
Jesus could not be born outside marriage.
This is a really important message, one I have never heard preached, but something we can bring to the once-Christian world. Or could, but no longer so easily, because the Feast has been suppressed.
The significance of this marriage, as expressed in two of the Propers is interesting:
COLLECT: We beseech Thee, O Lord, to bestow on thy servants of thy celestial grace; that to those for whom the Blessed Virgin's maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her Espousals may procure increase of peace.
SECRET: May the humanity of thy only-begotten Son be our succour, O Lord: that Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of a virgin did not diminish, but consecrated the integrity of his mother, may in the solemnity of her Espousals deliver us from our sins, and make our oblation acceptable to thee.
These are ways of looking at Jesus, who was born of a woman, a married virgin, that stop me in my tracks and make me think.
Wait until we get to the suppressed feasts of the Lenten season!
18 January 2014
Fr Hunwicke's piece on the origins of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminded me of a contribution of his in the last edition of Catholic, the excellent newspaper of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer which is published on Papa Stronsay. (There is, by the way, something very affecting about a member of the Ordinariate writing for former Lefebvrians, both groups having been able to reconcile themselves to the Church without the loss of the distinctiveness which now marks them out inside the Church.)
"But let us not forget the other prescription of Benedict XV: that we should offer Masses to make up for testamentary Masses neglected or forgotten. As an Englishman, I look back on the events of the Tudor period, when the government of England looted the testamentary endowments, first, of the Religious Houses, and then of the chantries in the parish churches up and down England. Other countries, I suspect, have had similar experiences: I am not an expert in French History, for example, but I get the impression that the cultic discontinuities of the l790s were fairly considerable.
Does it matter? When we read all those medieval wills, with their provision that Mass be celebrated for the testator "for ever", do we just murmur "Win some, lose some"? I think it does matter. Creation means that God created a myriad of different places; a myriad of different moments in the progress of time; a myriad of different beings living, reacting, in those places and those times.
Since God did not merely create one single created Other to receive his love, we are surely to take seriously the infinite plurality of his Creation. And that means taking seriously the myriad individual casualties within that complex Creation. Dame Thomasina Percival, a London merchant in the early Tudor period (I select her at random because I once did some work on her) endowed chantry Masses to be said at the scala caeli near the tomb of Henry VII's mother in the great Lady Chapel at Westminster which was still unfinished. Why should it not be a willed thing in God's Providence that she should be brought to the fullness of eternal grace and glory through the power of those operations?
Englishness, or whatever the nationalness we each have, is not narrowly synchronic affection. Surely, it must also be diachronic, embracing the Dame Thomasina's as well as the bloke I can hear talking to his wife in the house next door. I can think of few more English, more appropriate, things to do, and to give Mass stipends for Masses to make up for testamentary Masses forgotten or neglected, that per haec sacramenta salutis nostrae, cunctorum remissionem Deus tribuat peccatorum: that through these sacraments of our salvation, the Lord will grant remission of all the sins of all the Faithful Departed."
This is one of those subjects which, I must confess, I have never really thought about before: not even "Win some, lose some". Yet, the more I reflect on it, the more I come to think that it is one of the very great scandals of the Reformation (and one which Fr Hunwicke reminds us that Benedict XV encouraged us to help make up for).
Digital Nun posted here and better on the same subject. H/T Part Time Pilgrim.
09 January 2014
.In a comment on one of Ben Trovato's posts about comments made by his father about the post-Vatican II liturgical changes, there is a link to the statement on public worship made by the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales in April 1975:
"The unity of the Church is endangered if the rules laid down by the Holy See for the celebration of Mass are not observed. Unfortunately there are some few who ignore the liturgical laws and continue to experiment in many different ways. The Holy See has declared that experimentation is no longer permissible and that the laws laid down in the new Missale Romanum must be faithfully observed. This means that the rubrics, now reduced to a minimum and inserted, as they are, to safeguard reverence, must always be followed. The right kind of living liturgy is to be achieved by the variation of choice available in the definitive text (eg, regarding penitential rites, canons and so forth) and not by making up our own liturgies. Some priests neglect to follow the rubrics, to wear sacred vestments or to recite authorised prayers. Great harm is done to souls by priests who virtually make up their own Mass. No blessing will fall on those taking part in Masses celebrated in defiance of the instructions of the Church."
There is more in the statement about the extent to which celebration of the TLM is (or rather isn't) authorised, but I am interested here in the way the New Mass was to be celebrated. The statement by the Bishops makes clear that there has been a period of liturgical anarchy (some of us remember it well) and it is an effort by the Old Guard of the Bishops to try to re-impose order on the Church in England and Wales.
Mass has to be celebrated properly: there is no room for experimentation. There is variation of choice available in the Missal and rubrics, and these are sufficient to permit "the right kind of living liturgy".
By 1980 - only five years later - there had been change at the top: Cardinal Heenan was dead and had been replaced by Abp Hume; Abp Beck had gone from Liverpool, to be replaced by Abp Worlock; Abp Cowderoy had been replaced by Abp Bowen etc etc etc. The Bishops' Conference asked Abp Worlock to set up a National Pastoral Congress in Liverpool in 1980 which deliberated and reported on the mission and spirituality of the Church in England and Wales. The result was distilled into a document of the Bishops' Conference called The Easter People which would become the model for the Church in E&W.
Its section on the Mass, written just five years after the statement above is ... well, read it yourself:
There is more - there really is LOTS more - but that gives enough of a flavour. (The capitalisation is that of the original, by the way.)
A wonderful conjuring trick has taken place. The worthiness of the celebration of the Mass in the 1975 statement derives from the priest's adherence to the rubrics. He is to say the right prayers, read the right readings, wear the right vestments, use appropriate vessels. He has enough choice in the Missal and its rubrics to be able to say Mass worthily, in a manner appropriate to the occasion of its celebration.
Five years later, however, the manner of celebration of Mass is no longer just a concern of the priests. Lay people have an equal (if separate) role with the priest in "implementing ... a liturgy which is flexible and sensitive to local needs" and should play their part in diocesan liturgical commissions which in turn will have a part in "the necessary formation of people and priests".
As Joseph Shaw pointed out, first here, then here, what was happening is the disenfranchisement of the largest group of Catholics from their Mass: first, as condemned in 1975, by priests who treat it as their personal property; second in 1980, by a hierarchy which opted to share ownership with a self-selecting group of activists. The sociological study cited is of its day describes this in terms of the Old Mass and the New Mass, of disenfranchisement of working class Catholics by middle class Catholics, but the Church in E&W has been reinforcing failure for another generation now, and the problems are much deeper. Imagine that we have come to a point where Catholics will share with each other information about parishes where Mass is always said reverently.
There is a lot to be said about the liturgical reforms of the twentieth century (and I will happily say my bit), but the discussion often hides the ecclesiological and sociological changes which were imposed, and which survive in a sort of English and Welsh approach to Catholic Mission, developed on our behalf by people who don't know what we think or what we want.
I asked if I could join my parish's liturgy group and was told I could, as long as I did an approved course first which would teach me how parish liturgies should be celebrated. I asked whether in that case the priest couldn't just look up the rubrics in the GIRM. I was told that there probably wasn't going to be another course for a while. I got the message.
25 December 2013
From the team that came up with "I can't believe it's not Rutter" and started using different harmonies to well known carols, and even tunes not published in Carols For Choirs, comes "The Hunt for Different Translations".
O come all ye faithful!
Come see in the manger
The Angels' dread King!
To Bethlehem hasten
With joyful accord;
Oh hasten! oh hasten!
To worship the Lord.
True Son of the Father,
he comes from the skies;
The womb of the Virgin
He did not despise;
Not made but begotten,
The Lord of all might,
True God of true God,
True Light of true light.
Hark! to the Angels,
All singing to Heaven,
"To God in the highest
High glory be given."
To Thee, then, O Jesus,
This day of Thy birth,
Be glory and honour
Through Heaven and earth!
True Godhead incarnate,
Oh, hasten! oh hasten!
To worship the Lord.
What tune shall we use? Immortal Invisible?
Happy Christmas, everybody!
21 December 2013
We were discussing the need for catechesis recently, and concluded that it is one of the things which have been lost from catholic education.
What follows is from the children's missal I was given for my First Holy Communion, which followed the scheme for catechesis used in my school. I had made my FHC in top Infants (Year 2), so would have been taught this in December, in bottom Juniors (Year 3).
What I find interesting is the assumption that the themes here are considered to be understandable by seven year olds if properly taught. The way the teaching role of the priest is subtly linked to the prophetic mission of John the Baptist is particularly inspiring.
This is a contribution to debate, not a proposal to turn back the clock, so that when we take about evangelisation, we might reject from the outset any thought that we might need to dumb down the message.
PICTURE AND MASS THEME EXPLAINED
"John, the son of Zachary", to a world now awaiting its God, pleads for our final pre-Christmas "make ready". "Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight His paths" (GOSPEL).
Heroically, in the desert, he warns against the softness of iife in the city, pictured in the background. Alive to the danger of a "soft-garments" Iife, he is seen ia a rough "garment of camel's hair", carrying a baptismal shell, "preaching a baptism of repentance."
Introit Is. 43
DROP DOWN DEW, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; let the earth be opened and bud forth a Saviour. The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of His hands. Glory be, etc.
STIR UP THY MIGHT, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come; accompany us with great power, so that by the help of Thy grace, we may be mercifully hastened along when our sins weigh us down, Who livest, etc.
EPISTLE 1 Cor 4, 1-5
BRETHREN: let a man so account us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now here it is required in stewards that a man be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small matter to be judged by you or by man's tribunal. Nay I do not even judge my own self. For l have nothing on my conscience, yet I am not thereby justified; but he who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, pass no judgment before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and make manifest the counsels of hearts; and then everyone will have his praise from God. THANKS BE TO GOD.
GRADUAL Ps 144
THE Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless His Holy Name. Alleluia, alleluia. Come, O Lord, and do not delay; forgive the sins of thy people Israel. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 3 1-6
NOW IN THE FIFTEENTH YEAR of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judaea, and Herod tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of the district of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysarnis tetrarch of Abilina, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of the Lord came to John, the son of Zachary, in the desert. And he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, "The voice of one crying in the desert, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight his pads. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth; and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.'"
OFFERTORY Luke 1
HAIL, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with the. Blessed art thou among women and blessed it is the fruit of thy womb!
LOOK DOWN favourably upon these sacrifices, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that they may be profitable both to our devotion and salvation. Through Our Lord, etc. Turn to page 31
COMMUNION Is 7
BEHOLD A VIRGIN shall conceive, and bring forth a son; and His name shall be called Emmanuel.
HAVING RECEIVED Thy gifts, we pray thee, O Lord, that the frequent reception of this sacrament may advance the work of our salvation. Through Our Lord, etc
REVIEW CATECHISM FROM TODAY'S MASS
KEY WORDS: "Servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (Epistle). "The voice of one crying the desert: 'make ready the way of the Lord'" (Gospel).
I believe that priests have the mission of teaching and governing for the sake of sanctifying members in the mystical body of Christ; that they are messengers of God's truth and dispensers of the sacraments.
I believe that we should have the deepest respect and reverence for their high office; that we should pray often for priestly labourers.
16 December 2013
That should be Thursday's feast: the second feast of Our Lady in the New Liturgical Year after the Immaculate Conception. It would be the Mass Rorate with one change, a different last versicle at the Gradual: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son, Jesus Christ". A week before Christmas there is an opportunity to reflect on Our Lady's pregnancy and on the physical hardships she endured before Our Lord's birth. But it was reformed out of the Calendar, not by Bugnini, either in his Pius XII or Paul VI periods, but long before.
A lot went wrong liturgically in the twentieth century, before its second half.
09 December 2013
No Mass when the priest plays golf.
So when God's Mother has been dishonoured by having her feast moved "to observe the sanctity of Sunday", her soldiers don't just abandon the idea of leaping to her defence ...
... they yawn and have a day off, and go to play golf, and complain that it's hard playing golf on a damp December morning, at least once they get into the clubhouse, the nineteenth hole, to warm up and have lunch together.
But Our Lady, true to her mission, honoured or not, sets out on the journey to Bethlehem, and so unwoefully arrayed, that all creation should kneel as she passes by.
God, Help us all.
04 December 2013
It is absolutely wonderful that Fr Hunwicke has rediscovered his muse and is blogging again here.
The only problem is that I daren't post anything here about any of his subjects of interest because of the absolute certainty that he'll know so much more than me!
But I'm really glad that he's back.
22 November 2013
There is a piece on the BBC's website about Dr Buckle, a "mediaeval music expert and liturgical adviser" to those planning Richard III's reburial. She has found something which will allow the powers that be to reconstruct the rites which should have been afforded to Richard III's remains on their transfer to a proper tomb.
I can't think of any worse option: a pastiche of a ceremony carried out by people who don't believe in its efficacy and who do not have the power to effect what the rite is intended for.
What a depressing start to the day.
Link now working - thanks to Lazarus.
But while I've got you: why would an Anglican Cathedral need a mediaeval music expert to be its liturgical advisor? Does the CofE not think that it has any of its own? (And, although I'm no expert, aren't we into the Renaissance in 1485 rather than the mediaeval period?)
19 November 2013
What with all this talk about venerating St Peter's bones, I thought I might produce a slightly edited version of something I posted before about visiting St Peter's relics. The edit reflects a change in me since I first wrote about this: my attitude to relics and pious traditions previously was orthodox, but not particularly concerned. Even though I was perfectly content to accept that in line with the very earliest traditions of the Church, St Peter's had been built over St Peter's grave, and that the remains that had been found were his, this was a sort of highlighting, rather than a necessary part of my faith. Now I'm not so sure. St Peter's being buried underneath the high altar of St Peter's, the Rock on which Christ's Church is built has come to add a new dimension to my faith, helped, day's after I returned from the visit, by a priest wondering aloud during a sermon whether (or possibly asserting that) the word for "rock" used by Jesus in Aramaic was the same word used for the Rock on which the Temple was built in Jerusalem.
My faith has become less - linear, I suppose. I still understand and appreciate dogma and definition: they are a critically important part of understanding what we believe and why. But to that has been added a greater appreciation of mystery: I am more accepting of the fact that some things simply are, even if we can't rationalise or intellectualise the connections. St Peter's bones aren't beneath the high altar simply because the Basilica was built over his tomb. St Peter's bones are beneath the high altar because the Church was built from his tomb. That makes his bones more, not less important, for as they inspired the evangelisation of the world in the first half of the first century, they can inspire its re-evangelisation.
We spent the morning visiting St Peter's Basilica and then went for lunch. We returned, went to the Vatican Post Office to write and send some cards and then asked the Swiss Guards to let us though to visit the Necropolis. I showed our tickets, and they presented arms for us to go through. A large number of tourists thought we were important and took photos of us.
A seminarian from the American College greeted us. He told us the how the Constantine Basilica had been built, how a Roman cemetery had been covered with earth, in order to level a platform on the Vatican Hill and place the new Basilica above St Peter's tomb; how the exact site of the tomb of St Peter had been lost over the ages; how the Basilica we know today had been built, leaving the floor of Constantine's Basilica as the crypt of the modern Basilica.
Then we went down into the Necropolis. This was a normal Roman burial ground, on the surface once upon a time, but buried - and therefore unwittingly preserved - by Constantine when he wanted to build on the site because not even the Emperor could disturb the last resting place of the dead.
He told us the story of the discovery (or rather the rediscovery) of the Necropolis in 1940, and Pius XII's encouragement of the archaeologists who hoped to find St Peter's grave. He told us about (and later pointed out) the very early shrine to St Peter - the first Church and possibly the burial ground of the first Popes: Linus, Cletus and Clement, perhaps - which stood on the site. He told us of the archaeologists who got closer and closer to what, a very few years after St Peter's death, was already a site of pilgrimage; and he told us about the incredible mix up of archaeological finds caused by disagreements between the priests involved. He told us how St Peter's bones had been found.
Then he took us into the Necropolis. We were in a Roman cemetery. As we moved along the street he showed us the increasing signs - one piece of incredibly fine mosaic, one crude piece of graffiti - which showed that Christians had venerated this spot as St Peter's grave since the earliest times.
His story - the mix of detective story and archaeological dig - began to change as we got closer and closer to the grave itself. He told us the story of how Peter came to Rome to die the death Our Lord had prophesied for him. He told us what we had seen and asked for silence as we went to the chamber where we would see what remained of Peter's body.
In a niche in a wall covered in graffiti from the earliest pilgims to St Peter's grave the transparent plastic boxes in which St Peter's bones are now contained, and which were replaced there in 1968 in the presence of Pope Paul VI are clearly visible. The young man's injunction not to speak was unnecessary. We prayed: in my case as fervently as I can ever remember praying.
We went upstairs into the crypt. None of us spoke for a good while. In fact, apart from the odd "shall we cross here?" as we walked back to our hotel, none of us spoke at all for a couple of hours.
"On this Rock I will build my Church." I have seen the remains of the Rock, and I have seen the Church built on it.
15 November 2013
Via Ches via Elliot Bougis: as Chestertonian a paragraph ever to have come out of Mgr Knox.
“[O]ur minds are so chained to the things of sense, that we imagine our Lord as instituting the Blessed Sacrament with bread and wine as the remote matter of it because bread and wine reminded him of that grace which he intended the Blessed Sacrament to bestow. But, if you come to think of it, it was just the other way about. When he created the worlds, he gave common bread and wine for our use in order that we might understand what the Blessed Sacrament was when it came to be instituted. He did not design the Sacred Host to be something like bread. He designed bread to be something like the Sacred Host.”
28 September 2013
I've deleted the text of this post and frozen the comments.
It didn't get close to the people it was aimed at, and my bending over backwards not to annoy the Orthodox led me to knock myself out, as it were: I got some facts wrong, hence the corrections from Anagnostis (though some are his points are worth discussion, just not here).
24 September 2013
Of course, there's nothing he says that can't be explained, and sometimes he explains it himself when he says something different in one audience from what he said in an interview; and if he doesn't, you can always rely on Fr Z to explain what he said, even while the Tabletistas are dashing down the wrong track. He never attacks the deposit of the Faith: we know, because other people explain his comments and put them into a proper context. But I find the hermeneutic of Pope Francis baffling. How is it that somebody so wise, so clever, so holy, seems not to care about expressing himself in a way that allows people not just to draw wrong conclusions, but to pin them fairly and squarely on him?
If he stuck for a year to his homilies and avoided all other public utterances (he can say what he likes on the phone as long as nobody is recording him) we might begin to appreciate the radicalism of his Faith, the challenge that the Truth he expresses at times so clearly means for the way we live, the gentleness of his continuity with B16 and JP2 (rabbit hole: is this mutatis mutandis what JP1 would have been like?), and appreciate his obvious holiness as a complement to the obvious holiness of his predecessor, and therefore another challenge to the rest of us.
Instead I read in a Spanish newspaper yesterday that the Pope wants to appoint a female Cardinal, a deaconess in an order of the early Church that he will restore. He won't, of course, because it's an ontological impossibility: but how many readers of an article by a Spanish version of an ACTA follower will understand that the author has twisted the Pope's words to suit his agenda? How many people seeing the Pope wonder why so many disciplinary matters are referred to Rome may conclude that the hierarchy of E&W's not acting against heterodox Bishops is because they aren't heterodox, rather than because the CBCEW is a capon in a farmyard full of menace? How many people see his looking at the synodality of the Orthodox as a belied in the dogmatic infallibility of Bishops' Conferences, when Orthodox orthodoxy is rooted in the orthodox mission of the Bishop as an individual, not as a team member?
Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe the Tabletistas were right all along. Maybe the Pope's words are right and will have a magical effect on those who aren't orthodox Catholics which will bring them into the Church in droves. Maybe he's right to make us question what we actually believe in, and that's what he's trying to do.
It's a funny way to be right, though.
06 September 2013
I'm not going to repeat what we all know and what lots of people have already posted about the press attack on Fr Ray in particular and on the Church in general. I note from where the support has come. I also note from where it hasn't.
Can I invite you to join me in a Novena to St Michael for priests who live in parishes by themselves, starting perhaps on Sunday after we have observed the Pope's Day of Prayer and Fasting for Syria. There are few people the Devil hates as much as holy priests; there are few paths to holiness harder than that of being a priest, with all of the awesome obligations that entails. So let's ask St Michael to help. There are lots of good prayers available online: it might be instructive that there are even two alternative prayers on Wikipedia.
And even if you don't want to join me in this Novena, please pray for priests.
22 August 2013
Browsing Denzinger, as you do, to try to find a clue to just what it was that the Council of Florence said in 1215 which impelled the Friars to start encouraging lay use of the Little Hours as a devotional aid, I stumbled across the letter Perniciosus valde which Pope Honorius III wrote to Archbishop Olof of Uppsala on 13 December 1220 adjuring him to use a lot more wine than water during the admixture at the Offertory.
It reminded me to ask if anybody else has noticed a practice of some permanent deacons of only adding water to the wine in the chalice being used by the priest and not to those being offered to the laity? I've noticed two do this now in two different parishes in two different dioceses. I can't work out what point is being made, unless it is a subtle protest against the use of multiple chalices instead on one single chalice large enough for all the wine which is to be consecrated.
It's very easy simply not to queue up for the chalice and to return to your seat after receiving Communion, and I'm sure that the wine in the chalices without added water is as consecrated as that in the priest's chalice, but does anybody know if there is a specific instruction for this circumstance either way, or whether there is an "English practice", or whether I have simply stumbled upon the same creativity twice.
18 August 2013
"The true vocations crisis in the Church is not a lack of candidates for the priesthood: it is a lack of committed Catholics (from whose ranks a small but sufficient percentage of men would naturally be drawn to Holy Orders). There is a reason why the number of church weddings, not to mention baptisms, declines yearly: it is called erosion of the faith, decline in commitment to living out the Faith, and general forgetfulness of what previous generations, often at great cost, nevertheless succeeded in passing on – until the last half-century or so. The tradition has failed: discontinuity and rupture has broken the links formerly passing down the Apostolic tradition in continuity from one generation to the next.
15 August 2013
Some people on twitter had to put up with my frustration at having Mass this morning ruined by a bowdlerised version of "I'll sing a Hymn to Mary". The Laudate Hymnal, instead of having "When wicked men blaspheme Thee, I'll love and bless Thy Name" has "Oh may I imitate thee and magnify God's name" as part of its Year Zero approach to what it would probably refer to as a) gender issues in Catholic hymnology and b) Catholic exclusivity issues in Catholic hymnbookology.
Most of the bowdlerisation of the hymn book is aimed at reducing sexist references to men, but the example quoted above is so gratingly awful that you have to imagine that somebody was taking the mickey. Is there a feminist in the land so keen on equality that she sees "wicked men" as exclusive of and discriminatory against, presumably, "wicked women"? No, absolutely not! But there are a lot of Nuchurchians who dislike the idea of the veneration of the name of the BVM: they probably hate the idea of the "Holy Name of Jesus" as well, but as it doesn't seem to be a feast, or a line in a well-loved hymn any more, they have probably won that particular skirmish.
So, clever-clever them, they have abolished the nasty words and replaced them with a prayer referring back to the Magnificat: absolutely fine, if change were necessary, but if it isn't (and it's not!) why not write your own hymn about the Magnificat, which is about the Lord, and leave the rest of us with our hymn to Our Lady? (The answer is easy: Estelle White. I rest my case.)
I'm afraid that my solution - sing the old words loudly and make uncharitable comments in between verses - is not really commendable, however satisfying it might have been for me, and isn't even a tactical success, really. But I am left wondering:
- who compiled the Laudate Hymnal, and why?
- who gave permission for it to sell itself as Catholic?
- why is at pushed at priests by diocesan authorities?
The bowdlerisation is, believe it or not, not the major issue. the real problem with the hymnbook is that it is full of protestant hymns: in PTP's words "actual protestant hymns in the hymnal. (not hymns written by protestants but those expressing prostestant theology)". Hymns that misrepresent the doctrine of the Atonement, for example, denying that anybody who is a Christian might go to Hell.
There are times when Lenin's "Kto? Ktovo?" (Who? Whom? - who is in the driving seat and to whom are they the dominant force?) seems like a mission statement for the apparatchiks. If it isn't, why do so many of them behave as if it is?
07 August 2013
Lots of you will have been upset to learn that the official CBCEW response to planning work for the interment of the remains of Richard III simply said that Bishop Malcolm would play whatever ecumenical part those organising the ceremonies thought fit, rather than insisting on a Catholic burial for a Catholic King. What none of us seems to have seen is the letter from Archbishop Nichols to the Prime Minister.
"Dear Prime Minister
When we last spoke, after the passing of the Same Sex Marriage Act, I said to you that I would write about an opportunity for the Catholics in this country to demonstrate their continuing allegiance to the Crown and the State and for you to recognise it without giving up the principles to which you want to demonstrate your adherence. I think the interment of Richard III might be that opportunity.
Richard was the last but one monarch in full and open communion with Rome and his funeral should not have been the hasty affair it was. Even the King who vanquished him, Henry VII, paid for a fine memorial to one who, whatever side one takes in the great English Civil War of the fifteenth century, was consecrated as King. As such he deserves the Catholic funeral for a King which the circumstances of 1485 denied him.
England is no longer a Catholic country and the Church of England, to whom responsibility for the King's interment has been given, will pay him the respects due to somebody being buried in the twenty-first century. It will be an ecumenical ceremony which will strive to emphasise national unity against national strife, and the local Catholic Bishop will play a full ecumenical part.
But I am sure you will agree that it would be imaginative if on the vigil of the national ceremony being planned for his interment, Richard III's remains could be prepared for their final burial in the way that he and his contemporaries would have expected, in a lavish rite focusing on him as an individual rather than as a symbol of national unity.
The traditional Catholic rite for the funeral of a King has not taken place in this country since the death of Henry VII, or indeed anywhere since the funeral of the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1916. If you will authorise the transfer of the casket containing the King's remains the day before the interment, we will give him the funeral he merited, demonstrating our loyalty, but also recognising that we are no longer part of the national establishment which you represent.
I would celebrate the ceremony in Latin, in the rite the King would have known, the rite which Cranmer adapted into the Book of Common Prayer; the other four Metropolitan Archbishops: Southwark, Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool; would perform with me the Absolutions proper to an anointed King; the Bishops of England and Wales and the Abbots and Priors of the religious houses would attend in Choir. And I am sure that great numbers of the Catholic faithful would attend.
We understand that the Church of England would feel that for this to take place in Leicester (or even in Westminster Abbey) would look like an attempt by Catholics at taking over, so I would propose that the ceremony should take place in Westminster Cathedral: appropriate geographically for a monarch, but not threatening for the secular and C of E establishment.
As a conservative, I am sure you will appreciate this opportunity to link our people back to their past. As an Anglican, I am sure you will appreciate our wish not to usurp what belongs to the State and its Church. As a politician, you will be glad of an opportunity to show that we can still work together.
Please be assured of my prayers for you, your family, and your ministry.
05 August 2013
Like Fr Blake, who is cutting his way through the same thicket as I am, I am finding it hard to drive a path back through Trent to what was before and what might/could/should have been.
The questions are about ecclesiology as much as about liturgy: why should we follow the practices of the diocese of Rome when we are in our own diocese? Why should the Mass be separated from the rest of the Liturgy other than in monasteries? Apart from Bishop of Rome, who do we, and he, think the Pope is?
Ignoring all of the post-1789 changes (if that's when the wheels really came off), what might the post-Reformation Reform have consisted of?
The glib answers won't do, so I continue to delve in the muniments, some of them dustier than others, and am constitutionally unable to avoid rabbit holes (did you know that the UK went to war with Germany at 11.00 pm on 4 August 1914?) so this might take a while.
09 July 2013
I've reached a point, looking at the changes to the Liturgy introduced by the reformers, where, with the resources I have at hand, I can't work out exactly why they went the way they did.
Contemporary views of the development of the Liturgy weren't such as would definitively push any group of people towards what we ended up with, and the archaeologism condemned by (even though indulged in) by Pope Pius XII could easily have led a reform of the Mass in other directions.
I need to explore further the consequences of a post by the LMS Chairman which I think makes one wonder as much about the ecclesiology of the reformers as about their liturgiology, if only to avoid finding myself heading down a path towards conspiracy, freemasons and albino monks, but in the interim, here is a challenge.
Dom Gregory Dix expressed an ideal of public worship as practised mediaevally. Mutatis mutandis, I can't see this as anything but an ideal to aim at, but I can't see that this is practised anywhere any more, but am I alone in perceiving it as an ideal? (NB the fact that this worship is carried out not by regular, but by secular clergy, who therefore need to be supported by the faithful to carry out this practice.) (NB also that the capitalisation is Dom Gregory's, not mine.)
"Yet it would not be just to judge the mediaeval western liturgy by the regime of low masses alone. They were a devotional by-product, even an unavoidable one, though one with momentous consequences. Rather our judgement must be based on the complete round of the liturgy as it was meant to be performed, not so much in a religious house as in one of the great secular churches set in the midst of a busy city, like old S. Paul's or Notre Dame de Paris or the Duomo of Milan or the Dom of Cologne. There the dav began with quite a large staff of clergy and clerks rising before dawn for the long office of mattins and laud lauds, to praise God on behalf of the citizens before the city's day could be spoiled by sin. All through the day the public recitation of the hours of the office followed one another to the Nunc dimittis of compline, voicing prayer and penitence and praise on behalf of the whole population working in the streets around the church - making the sign of the cross continually over the city's daily bread. But the centre of it all was the mass. The thirty or forty low masses going on continually through the earlier hours of the morning were offered for the special intentions of individuals, and they made it possible for any who wished to join in the central act of christian living before daily work began. The chapter high mass, offered corporately and solemnly every day in the name of every christian soul in the diocese, lifted to God and brought under His kingship the cares and joys and troubles and work of the whole christian people as members of Christ.
It may have been a great burden of worship for those who offered it to bear easily, especially with the additions of the Office of our Lady and the Office of the Dead which the ninth and tenth centuries had unconsideringly added to the daily round. Few mediaeval visitations failed to reveal evidence of routine and formalism and sometimes downright irreverence in such corporations. Yet there is this to be said: Society at large supported these quite considerable bodies of men in leisure for continuous public worship, because it was then convinced that God ought to be assiduously praised and thanked for the redemption of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, where the substance of worship is held to lie in the sincerity of the individual's interior response to God and his own consciousness of that response, the whole conception of such a 'worship by representatives' will seem meaningless or worse. Protestantism has been consistent in its general abandonment of a liturgical worship offered on behalf of society. Its public worship is held not as representative of society, but as an opportunity for each of the individuals in society to attend and be 'edified' for himself in company with the others. But mediaeval men had not a purely subjective notion of worship; it was still for them, as for the primitive church, largely something 'done'. Nor had they arrived at the notion of society as essentially composed of isolated individuals. On their own grounds they too were consistent in what they did.
It is a historical mistake to idealise and romanticise the middle ages. The ordinary mediaeval man lived in a world which was horribly uncomfortable and dangerous, very poor in material resources and also very sinful. And he knew all that quite well. But his literature, from the popular literature of the ballads up to the great works of genius, reveals a world that was hopeful nevertheless, and had a great zest for living. Our own world is also uncomfortable and dangerous; it is much better equipped with material resources, though it has made poverty its nightmare. And it is reluctantly returning to the conviction that it is sinful. But it is hardly what one would call hopeful, and it has a fear of living. This is because our world has forgotten or has ceased to believe that it has been redeemed."
29 June 2013
I note that a group has fractured away from the SSPX and has set up a "Resistance Mass Centre" in Wandsworth, and that Bishop Williamson has set up an "Initiative", soliciting funds, and proposing the following:
"It seems that, today, God wants a loose network of independent pockets of Catholic Resistance, gathered around the Mass, freely contacting one another, but with no structure of false obedience, which served to sink the mainstream Church in the 1960’s and is now sinking the Society of St. Pius X. If you agree, make contributions to the St. Marcel Initiative; they will certainly come in useful. For myself, once my situation stabilizes, I am ready to put my bishop’s powers at the disposal of whoever can make wise use of them."
Is this happening everywhere, or only in the English-speaking world?
This matters to the rest of us because it will become a new stick with which to beat Benedict XVI and the EF or the Roman Rite, just at a point when those opposed to what the Pope Emeritus did feel that they are in a strong position. It matters because, as happened when Bishop Williamson made his remarks about the Holocaust, the secular world thinks that these people are like Catholics, just a bit more so.