11 April 2014

Feast Of The Seven Sorrows And A Rant

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Today should have been the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM, but as the readings are all in your 1962 Missals, and the St Lawrence Press blog has covered the pre-1962 here, (and I'm still as jetlagged as when I arrived at Terminal 5) I thought I'd offer some preliminary thoughts about the lost feasts.  I'll keep the series going right up to the end of the year - there are a lot more to come - but here are some first thoughts.

You will have heard enough about Bugnini from me: his ruthless, methodical, pseudo-scientific reformation of the Church's calendar was, I believe, an absolute disaster, as it divorced the new calendar from all 1900 years of development.  What I hadn't really worked out was that Pius X and Pius XII were just as enthusiastic mutilators of the calendar, and that the "simplifications" introduced by the time of the 1962 Missal had already so attacked the foundations of the calendar and, importantly, of the way the calendar governed liturgical praxis, that Bugnini was able to knock the whole structure over.  Rome had arrogated the calendar and liturgical celebration to itself, and Bishops no longer governed liturgy in their dioceses: then Rome decided to change the calendar and the liturgy.

What was wrong with the old way?  The reformers seem to have felt first that removal equalled simplification, and that simplification was a goal to be aimed for.  I am Miss Prism, I'm afraid, where mention of the Early Church goes: nothing is better, simply because the Early Church had a reduced version of what came later.  For example, you would have to argue, following the example of the Roman Canon, that the epiclesis was an innovation and should be expunged from Eucharistic Prayers.</>  (Mind you, unlike the composers of the 1967 Mass, you'd have to know something about the Early Church as well, but that is one for later, one for a book rather than a blog.)

What was removed was sold as a sort of pruning: in the garden pruning is good, because it removes unhealthy growth and allows the old stem to continually generate new shoots.  Why on earth do we think that this is a good analogy for the development of the liturgy?  In the past, the sober Roman rite formed the foundation on which an exuberant Gallican rite grew: observation of the austerity of the Roman rite led to the gradual recession of the Gallican, but not before the latter had managed to make the Roman slightly more gentle.  Cutting and chopping doesn't really happen until Pius X comes in and starts on the Breviary, but why is cutting and chopping appropriate to the Liturgy?

Pius X's aim was to reduce the load on priests: the Breviary he inherited had grown and grown over the years and he felt the load pastorally.  But instead of slashing the Breviary - casually removing the immemorial link to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem - why couldn't he have thought about making the priests' obligation more nuanced?  Couldn't some variation of: full office in monastery and collegiate church - Matins and minor hours and Vespers in big parish church - sole priest in busy parish says a reduced office but celebrates Vespers on Sundays - you get the point.  The integrity of the office could have been preserved.  Isn't this the sort of clericalism we should be wary of? 

(Actually, imagine the papolatry that underpins the acceptance of: "these are the psalms said in the Temple for centuries before the birth of Christ and said by His Church ever since He established it, but I am abolishing them because priests are too busy these days to recite them".)

And from then on all is cuts: slash and burn.  A move towards two dimensionality, cutting extra collects, cutting any last Gospel which wasn't John 1:1, and gradually introducing a flattening of the vibrant worship of the Church, which allowed Bugnini subsequently to introduce a radical two dimensionality to the calendar and to worship.  Ladies and Gentleman: Bugnini's calendar and Bugnini's Mass suffer from banality.  All the changes to the Mass before the twentieth century revolve around additions and subtractions from the original, plus the original: after the advent of Pius X comes regulation and justification for change which equates Liturgy with what weak men can do instead of allowing an eternal Liturgy to give men the strength to fulfil their part in it: we subtract rite and only add words.

Do you know what is worst of all?  That all of this started just as the laity became mainly educated and literate!  My 1890 hand Missal gives full instructions to the lay man or woman on how to work out what should be celebrated each day, and, as I think I've shown, it is really easy.  And so much easier today, with computers and printers: each week's parish Bulletin could easily contain the relevant English version of the Propers for each day of the week - indeed everything a Catholic in the pew might have needed.

I'm not a Pius V-ist: I go to Mass each weekend in the OF and rarely have the opportunity to attend an EF Mass.  But if we want to talk about liturgical renewal - and the SSPX managed to put paid to any question of serious change in my lifetime, I reckon - we need to look beyond 1962 and think about the whole question of centralised Roman control and the damage that was done during the whole of the twentieth century.
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03 April 2014

Feast Of The Most Precious Blood Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

(It'll still be Friday here for quite a while.)

Today would once have been the first celebration in the year of Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the primary celebration at that time being on the First Sunday in July.  Exactly the same readings as on the Feast itself would have been said, while the propers for the fourth Friday of Lent would have been said after the propers of the Feast.

To the eyes of the rationalist, it must seem odd that there are two celebrations of the same Feast, but we can see that the Friday Feasts from Septagesima onwards are about preparing ourselves for Good Friday, while the July celebration celebrates God's gift of Himself in Communion: one leads us into the Sacrifice, the other shows us what we draw from it.

The Flying Inn: Chesterton And Benson



I blogged a while ago about The Lord Of The World: courtesy of the same wonderful juxtaposition of e-readers, out of copyright books, and the willingness of volunteers to scan, I was able to spend a long, bright afternoon of the soul (aka a flight to the East Coast of the US) reading The Flying Inn by G K Chesterton.

I don't quite understand how I have missed this book so spectacularly.  When I downloaded it, and when I opened it to read it, I assumed that I was rereading rather than starting from scratch.  But a couple of paragraphs in, I realised that this wasn't the case and that I had never read it before.

And what a read it is.

Most of the poems in the book are well known, and happily celebrate drinking and drinkers (bear that in mind: Chesterton doesn't just simply praise alcohol, but rather the way he praises the way that alcohol and balanced happy people go so well together)r.  But that's not what the book is about.

It is about the way that the UK has been taken over by a coterie of driven people and the way in which that for reasons of idleness and venality on the part of the majority, they have been able to get away with it.  In the same way as The Lord Of The World looks at the whole question of the Church in the world, and its vulnerability, The Flying Inn looks at the way in which a small and determined groupuscle can turn the laws of England upside down, without most people really understanding what has happened, or how.

Whatever will or won't be decided about whether or not GKC should be canonised, this book, like R H Benson's, shines a light on much more than the England of their day.



31 March 2014

A Thought From 2007

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Looking for something else serendipity struck and I saw a comment made by Anagnostis in 2007:

"It is this more than anything which accounts for the grotesque, topsy-turvy, parallel-universe quality of TabletWorld (whose Rome correspondent recently sneered that the Pope was not, after all, "a trained liturgist"). What looks like comical, mind-bending hypocrisy and intellectual perversity is merely an indication of people struggling desperately to make reality fit their theories and foundational myths: it's cognitive dissonance on public display. They need our prayers, but they will also benefit enormously in the long run from unrelenting ridicule."

This is remarkably prescient: it is as true today in the reign of Pope Francis as it was in Pope Benedict's.  The precision with which Anagnostis diagnoses the problem and prescribes a solution leaves me wishing I could be as pithy.

The inhabitants of TabletWorld are fighting on two fronts: their once fierce grip on the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is getting steadily weaker; and Pope Francis is not delivering what they want: he is not nor ever will be the caricature version of Pope John XXIII they are portraying him as.

So let's not be too despondent: they will not prevail.  And remember to pray for them whether or not you ridicule them.
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27 March 2014

Feast Of The Five Sacred Wounds Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Five Sacred Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Collect of the Feast would have been:

O God, who by the passion of thine only-begotten Son, and the shedding of his blood through his five wounds, hast renewed the nature of man that was ruined through sin; grant to us, we beseech thee, that as we venerate on earth the wounds that he received, so we may deserve to obtain the fruit of the same precious blood in heaven.
 
The Gospel of the Mass would have been John 19 28-35, and the Last Gospel would have been the proper for the Friday in the third week of Lent: John 4 5-41, the woman at the well which we heard in the OF last Sunday.
 
The propers for the third Friday of Lent would have been said after the propers of the Feast.
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25 March 2014

Collect for Feast of The Good Thief

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The Collect for tomorrow's former Feast of The Good Thief is:

O almighty and merciful God, who justifies the wicked, we humbly beseech thee that thou wouldst draw us to a proper repentance with that loving regard with which thy only-begotten Son attracted the goof thief, and wouldst grant us that everlasting glory which was promised to him.
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23 March 2014

Yet Another Missing Feast: St Dismas, The Good Thief

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Although 25 March, traditionally the date of the Crucifixion would be the proper date, the Feast of St Dismas, the Good Thief, was celebrated on the next day, 26 March, because of the need to celebrate the Annunciation on that day.

I think the loss of the Feast of the Good Thief is one of the saddest of all of the twentieth century losses.  There are two reasons: first, he was the only person canonised by Jesus.  Even on the Cross Jesus was teaching his Church how to do things after His death and resurrection.  Second, because if any of the Saints in Heaven can be said to stand for Everyman, it is the Good Thief.  He was like the rest of us: a sinner. But at the end he recognised Jesus for what He was, when his fellow criminal could do nothing but mock.

"And one of those robbers who were hanged, blasphemed him, saying: If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked him, saying: Neither dost thou fear God, seeing thou art condemned under the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man hath done no evil.  And he said to Jesus: Lord, remember me when thou shalt come into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said to him: Amen I say to thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise."

The coincidence of this Feast's coming just after the Annunciation obviously isn't a coincidence.  Mary's assent to Gabriel's message contrasts with the Bad Thief's refusal to accept Jesus.  And in between them comes Dismas, who, as one of us, has fallen away, but who recognises Jesus even as he is being crucified, criticises his companion for his impiety, confesses his misdeeds and the justice of the punishment he is incurring and asks Jesus for His mercy.

Here is a saint for all of us.  he is the patron saint of thieves and those in prison, and there is one devotion to St Dismas which asks him to intercede with God to open the eyes of mass murderers and war criminals: he is a saint for the worst of us.  Yet this Feast had to go. 

I do not understand liturgical reformers: I am less and less convinced by the idea that "pruning" the liturgy - actively removing, rather than letting those accretions which can not stand the test of time wither away - can have enough positive fruits to outweigh the negatives.  I'll post the propers for the Feast on Tuesday and, while obediently not celebrating the Feast, we will nevertheless have a chance to meditate on the Good Thief.
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21 March 2014

Abp (des) McMahon: 2.913 Cheers

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In the circumstances, I can't see how the translation of Bishop McMahon to Liverpool can be seen as anything other than good news.  Not very great news, because there has obviously been a decision to translate within England and Wales rather than find somebody completely new: but of those available, we, and Liverpool (remember this matters to the archdiocese more than it matters to the rest of us) should be glad that the Pope, on the advice of the Nuncio and of the Cardinal, has chosen a Bishop who is not part of the Magic Circle, the apparatus whose stranglehold on the Church in England and Wales I believe the Cardinal has been weakening since he arrived at Westminster.

I'm not too worried about the new Archbishop's willingness to celebrate Tridentine Masses, though it will be an encouragement to a lot of people whose priests have implacably opposed it, or his politics, because for a Dominican of his generation he is probably as untarnished by the 80s as it is possible to be.  I'm really pleased that he is Catholic, intellectually capable, not afraid of engagement with the public sphere; a Bishop, rather than the manager of a diocese, and one who appreciates the importance of the Liturgy.

He isn't perfect: neither am I, nor, I dare to venture, are you.  But let us offer our prayers for his ministry, and hope that for Merseyside, the Isle of Man, South Lancs, and Salford irredenta, and by extension, for the rest of us, he can turn his cathedra into a Northern powerhouse of Catholic regeneration.
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20 March 2014

Feast Of The Holy Winding Sheet Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Holy Winding Sheet of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Collect of the Feast would have been:

O God, who in the holy winding-sheet in which thy most sacred body was wrapped by Joseph when it was taken down from the cross, hast left us a memorial of thy passion, mercifully grant that, by thy death and burial, we may be brought to the glory of thy resurrection.
 
The Gospel of the Mass would have been Mark 15 42-46, and the Last Gospel would have been the proper for the Friday in the second week of Lent: Matthew 21 33-46.
 
The propers for the second Friday of Lent would have been said after the propers of the Feast.
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17 March 2014

Missing Feast: St Gabriel

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Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of St Gabriel.  before the separate Feasts of the three Archangels were wrapped up into one general Feast for Angels, we would have celebrated, one day before the Feast of St Joseph,eight days before the Feast of the Annunciation, the Feast of the Archangel who brought the news to Mary. 

Archangelic commemoration flitted about a bit: by 1962 St Gabriel was celebrated as a sort of Vigil of the Annunciation.  But it took Bugnini to tidy up all of the Angels into one Feast.
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15 March 2014

Bishops and Bloggers

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We have had some really welcome appointments to the episcopate in England and Wales, with another announcement today about a third, but we have also had the Bishop of Lancaster asking Protect the Pope to stop posting on his blog, and Bishop Burns appearing to suggest that "re-marriages" can be good.

What is a Bishop for?  Canon law gives us a clue:

Can. 384 With special solicitude, a diocesan bishop is to attend to presbyters and listen to them as assistants and counsellors. He is to protect their rights and take care that they correctly fulfil the obligations proper to their state and that the means and institutions which they need to foster spiritual and intellectual life are available to them.

He also is to take care that provision is made for their decent support and social assistance, according to the norm of law.

Can. 385 As much as possible, a diocesan bishop is to foster vocations to different ministries and to consecrated life, with special care shown for priestly and missionary vocations.

Can. 386 §1. A diocesan bishop, frequently preaching in person, is bound to propose and explain to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to morals. He is also to take care that the prescripts of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially those on the homily and catechetical instruction, are carefully observed so that the whole Christian doctrine is handed on to all.

§2. Through more suitable means, he is firmly to protect the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed, while nonetheless acknowledging a just freedom in further investigating its truths.

Can. 387 Since the diocesan bishop is mindful of his obligation to show an example of holiness in charity, humility, and simplicity of life, he is to strive to promote in every way the holiness of the Christian faithful according to the proper vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to endeavour constantly that the Christian faithful entrusted to his care grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments and that they understand and live the paschal mystery.

We could assume that Bishop Campbell has decided that he, and only he, is going to exercise the mission of  proposing and explaining to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to morals, and taking care that the prescripts of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially those on the homily and catechetical instruction, are carefully observed so that the whole Christian doctrine is handed on to all. 

That's fine: I'm not absolutely convinced that the clergy should have as free a hand as us lay people when it comes to engagement in the public square. I'm a lot happier when they use the space for homiletics and exegesis, but if Bishop Campbell is saying that he will call out the heretics, heterodox and ill-willed, and that the mission shouldn't be just left to a Deacon, then fair enough.

He's not saying that though, is he.  And Bishop Burns doesn't mean widows and widowers remarrying.  We know what they are up to.  Can. 386 §2 cited above tells us what Bishops should be saying, and we know from what Pope Benedict said to the Bishops of England and Wales about dissent what the second sentence means: not permission to advance any old heretical idea in the name of honest speculation.

Bishops are human beings and get things wrong.  We probably all know of priests getting a very raw deal, of decisions about diocesan property which could have been much better thought through: but we should be able to trust them to safeguard the deposit of the Faith and to act in Justice.

What happens when, as a layman, I begin to wonder if they haven't in fact begun to err on matters that matter?
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13 March 2014

Collect for Feast of the Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ

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Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Collect of the Feast would have been:
 
O God, who in the weakness of that flesh which thou hadst taken, wast pleased to be pierced with nails, and with a spear to be wounded for the salvation of the world; mercifully grant that we, who keep the solemnity of the same spear and nails on earth, may rejoice in the glorious triumph of thy victory in heaven.
 
The Gospel of the Mass would have been John 19 28-35, and the Last Gospel would have been the proper for the Friday - Ember Friday - in the first week of Lent: John 5 1-13.
 
The Collect and Postcommunion for Ember Friday would have been said as second Collect and second Postcommunion.
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11 March 2014

Women In The Church, Feminisation, Etc: Some Background

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This all started as a result of a discussion on Twitter provoked by this post by Men Are Like Wine. It being Twitter, the discussion was too curtailed to get anywhere, but I somehow ended up tasked with finding out how far the National Pastoral Congress in Liverpool had been a catalyst in changing the role of women within the Church.

It was.

But before we go down what has become to me a drearily familiar track, let us reflect on two things: first, that the woman who said that the role of lay women in the Church was catering and domestic work was probably reflecting a truth which it would be difficult to spin into anything positive; and second, that when some 100,000 Catholics were given a list of 13 topics and were asked to pick the six they thought of greatest moment in the Church in England and Wales early in 1979, "The Role of Women in the Church and in the World" came 13th, only 20% of those opining choosing to put the subject on their list.  Are these two things related?

We have discussed previously the way that attendees at the Congress were largely self-selecting, and were representative of the vocal and interested activist.  There's no easy way round this.  If I form the League of Catholic Lepidopterists, make a lot of noise claiming to be the authentic voice of Catholic lepidopterists in England and Wales and start petitioning Rome on the League's behalf, sending plentiful press releases to the Catholic and lepidopterist press, blogging freely and putting myself in the public eye, by default I will become the Voice of Catholic Lepidopterists, indeed, of Catholic Lepidopterism, even though I only represent myself, and anybody sufficiently weak-willed or gullible to follow my lead.  Yet if the CBCEW suddenly finds itself one lepidopterist policy short of an environmental strategy, to whom will it turn?  The hard answer, of course, is that it shouldn't be where it is in the first place: Bishops don't need lepidopterist policies and should be offering paternal correction to the deluded person who thinks they should, but we have noted previously that he two most senior prelates in E&W were out for change, and this change fitted their agenda.  So the last subject on the list managed to fond its way onto the agenda.

I mentioned above that women with real gifts to offer the Church had been sidelined, but at the Congress, their sidelining was not what the delegates wanted to highlight. There was no mention that some women might be uniquely place to advise on the suitability of men proposing themselves for the priesthood: instead they wanted a woman on every selection panel. They wanted two things: a place in the administration of the Church and a place in the Ministry of the Church.

The discussion was summarised as follows:

"THE ROLE OF WOMEN

The Gospels and the Second Vatican Council, plus more recent detailed statements from the 1970 Synod of Bishops and Pope Paul's address to the International Women’s Year, make it quite clear that women and men are equal and both should have the opportunity to offer their distinctive gifts in the service of the Church and the world to build up the kingdom of God. All are agreed that there is an imbalance as the Church is led, organised and largely planned by celibate men. Though condemned by Gaudium et spes, there is still obvious discrimination against women in the Church - which, while itself preaching freedom and justice, has a clear duty to set its own house in order.

Women have so much to offer to the total Church their gifts and abilities are rarely being used at the national, diocesan and parish levels, particularly in planning and decision making. Many priests fail to use the variety of skills which women can offer.

Women are an integral part of the laity, not shadow men. But it does appear that they do need definite encouragement, e.g. discrimination in their favour until the effects of years of adverse cultural conditioning which has limited their role are eliminated. Single women and nuns suffer from the same difficulties of being in many cases assigned to fixed or inferior roles by the Church authorities and by laymen at the parish level. We feel that the work of women in religious orders in particular has not been given due recognition in the Church.

The whole question of human relationships between men and women concerns us, and we feel that from childhood women are conditioned to adapt these roles. We are concerned about the training of priests, as we feel that many of the difficulties stern from their inability to relate honestly and openly to women as people. It is felt that a large number of priests would be more open to lay partnership and the gifts of women particularly, if continuing education were a normal part of priestly life.

We live in a rapidly changing world and there is a great need for the total church to listen, reflect and adapt to new needs and new situations. The Second Vatican Council gave us the ideals, but the Church's normal structures at all levels do not favour a partnership or shared vision of responsibility and so tensions have arisen ever since the Council on how to carry out these new ideals at the local level. To adopt a gospel image, it seems to have been a case of new wine in old wineskins. Now we feel we need some new wineskins if the old ones are not to burst and the precious new wine be lost.

Recommendations

EDUCATION

1.  We recommend that the ability of women to play a full role in the Church should be fully recognised and assisted by a policy of continuing religious adult-education in parishes, deaneries and dioceses, using existing colleges of education and seminaries so that priests and lay people may study together. Such training should include that of interpersonal skills and group leadership, also community-building. This would help priests to work with and communicate with women more easily.

2. The changed attitudes called for by the Second Vatican Council and subsequent statements should be fostered from childhood upwards, particularly in Catholic schools, in order to avoid the trap of role-assignment or acceptance by women. Both girls and boys should be prepared for an active and varied service to the Church and the wider community.

ADMINISTRATION

3. We recommend that parishes in suitable areas be organised on a team basis which would include lay parish assistants as well as parish sisters working with priests to promote such areas as adult formation, catechetics, visiting, and to act as catalysts for real community building, and in particular to develop the ministry and potential of laywomen.

4. We also recommend that the establishment of some form of parish council open to both men and women should now be mandatory in every parish.

WORSHIP

5. Girls and women should be involved in, and commissioned for, all ministries now open to lay people, such as reader, acolyte, and special ministers of the eucharist.

6. We ask the bishops to continue to press for girls and women to be allowed to act as altar servers (as takes place already in many countries).

7.  We recommend the wider use of women as liturgy animators locally and on diocesan bodies.

GENERAL

8. We ask the bishops on their parish visitations to' enquire closely as to the ways in which lay women are involved in all levels of the life and mission of the local parish.

9. We ask that diocesan commissions on the Christian family might be set up to supplement the work of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council. They should be concerned with family policy and special needs such as those of one parent families, the handicapped or elderly people.

10. It is recommended (if this has not already been done) that married people should attend' as 'periti' at the forthcoming Synod on Marriage and the Family, as it is they who have the practical experience.

11. We propose that women should be admitted to the permanent diaconate as there is considerable scriptural and historical support for this step.

Carried: 38 for, 26 against, 3 abstained.

12. We ask that there should be continued study and consideration of the nature of priesthood to see if in time it might be possible for women to share in this great vocation. We need to explore more fully the model of priesthood down the ages to see if it is the only one possible, and whether it ignores the feminine gifts and potential for leadership in the Christian community.

Carried: 30 for, 21 against, 3 abstained.

(We ask the bishops to note that the majority of members of our topic group desired the eventual admission of women to the priesthood. In particular two areas of urgent need were mentioned: (a) that of women religious and secular institutes whose way of life requires the availability of a priest; (b) women religious who are chaplains or parish workers and are seriously impeded in their work by being unable to celebrate the eucharist in the groups with which they are working,  and are also unable to absolve those whom they serve.)"

There is a mix of the totally acceptable, the totally unacceptable, and the things that will be slipped in as a stepping stone towards making the unacceptable seem a little less unacceptable next time.  Of course women should have the same access to training as men so that they can act as catechists within the parish; of course women can't be deacons or priests, but to make up for having to say "No" to something you are so keen on, we'll let girls be altar servers and women "special ministers of communion" (can you see what they did there?) for now.  (By the way, have you ever seen non sequiturs lake those in the parenthesis at the end?)

What this is all about is another aspect of the entryism of the activists into ecclesial structures in England and Wales.  It's not about all women: it's about some women, and about how they fitted into the plans Cardinal Hume and Archbishop Worlock had for the Church.  I've missed out some of the patronising guff the Congress documents contain about priests: poor deluded misogynist men who need to be re-educated; but it is interesting that this was another field on which the Bishops enlisted the laity to marginalise priests.

None of this proves anything about what happens in your parish church each Sunday.  But it is another reflection of the insidious effect that the Congress had on the Catholic Church in England and Wales: the middle classes elected themselves as the laity's representatives and made a contemporary middle class social agenda theirs, and the Church's.
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06 March 2014

Collect for Feast of Holy Crown of Thorns

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Tomorrow would once have been the Feast of the Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Collect would have been:
 
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we who, in memory of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, venerate his crown of thorns here upon earth, may deserve to be crowned by him with glory and honour in the heavens.
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27 February 2014

Collect For Feast Of The Passion

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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.
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24 February 2014

Litany Of The Dying For Fr Amorth

 
 
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...
Holy Abel...
All the choirs of the just...
Holy Abraham...
St. John the Baptist...
St. Joseph...
All you holy Patriarchs and Prophets...
St. Peter...
St. Paul...
St. Andrew...
St. John...
All you holy apostles and evangelists...
All you holy disciples of the Lord...
All you holy innocents...
St. Stephen...
St. Lawrence...
All you holy martyrs...
St. Sylvester...
St. Gregory...
St. Augustine...
All you holy bishops and confessors...
St. Benedict...
St. Francis...
St. Camillus...
St. John of God...
All you holy monks and hermits...
St. Mary Magdalene...
St. Lucy...
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

Changed Feast

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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!
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16 February 2014

Another Lost Feast

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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.
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15 February 2014

Help Identify The Prelates!

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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.
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10 February 2014

Lord Of The World

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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.
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01 February 2014

Neo-Cats

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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

Lost Feasts In Lent


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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
21 Feb
The Prayer of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Sexagesima
28 Feb
The Most Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Quinquagesima
7 Mar
The Most Holy Crown of Thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after First Sunday of Lent
14 Mar
The Most Holy Spear and Nails of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Second Sunday of Lent
21 Mar
The Most Holy Winding Sheet of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Third Sunday of Lent
28 Mar
The Five Sacred Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Fourth Sunday of Lent
4 Apr
The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Friday after Passion Sunday
11 Apr
(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.
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22 January 2014

The Espousals Of Mary

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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!
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18 January 2014

Neglected Testamentary Masses

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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).

UPDATE:

Digital Nun posted here and better on the same subject. H/T Part Time Pilgrim.
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09 January 2014

Did You See What They Did There?




.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:
A WORSHIPPING COMMUNITY: LITURGY

59. Our persecuted forefathers in the faith recognised that it is the Mass that matters. Catholics in these islands have always preserved that devotion to the sacrifice of the Mass and to the real presence of Jesus Christ in the eucharist.  These are mysteries, however, so linked with our most intimate religious experience that many people can think of them only as occasions when they commune personally and individually with their Lord and God. Yet when the Second Vatican Council desired to explore for us the treasures of the Mass, it pointed at once to the fundamental truth that the liturgy is not private but to be shared, not the worship of individuals but the united prayer of a whole people. ‘The liturgy is the summit towards which all the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.  For the goal of apostolic endeavour is that all who are made sons of God through faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord's Supper’. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 10). It follows therefore that the Mass is the supreme expression of what the Church is and the source of all that the Church does.  Through baptism and confirmation all members of the Church, with their distinct ministries, share in the mission entrusted by Christ to his followers.  In the same way and for the same reason all members of the Church, again in accordance with their distinct ministries, share in the offering of worship to God and in offering to the Father Christ’s one eternal sacrifice of love. This in no way denies the personal and the devotional elements in our worship but emphasises that we find salvation and individual fulfilment through our baptism into the one body of Christ, into the fellowship of the worshipping Church.

60. As always, when we reflect more deeply on the themes of the Congress, we find ourselves thinking about baptism. Because of our baptism we are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God’ (1 Pet 2:9). All members of the Church share in the priesthood of Christ and in the Mass they ‘offer the divine victim to God and themselves along with it’ (Lumen gentium, n. 11). Whilst this is a shared offering, there is still within the same action a distinction of ministries: priest and people are united but fulfil different functions (cf. Lumen gentium n. 10).   There can never be, however, any justification for relegating the laity to the role of spectators, required passively to observe all that the ordained minister carries out on their behalf.  Just as we seek from men and women the most active participation possible in the saving and sanctifying mission of the Church, so we must aim at achieving the most active participation possible of both men and women in the preparation and the celebration of the liturgy.

61. In the International Synod of 1971, the bishops explained: ‘The eucharist forms the community and places it at the service of men’. Through the eucharist we become more profoundly the church and we are sent as a Church to fulfil our mission in and for the world. In our efforts to achieve renewal we have not been conspicuously successful in establishing this truth. We need to discover the link between Mass and mission, between worship and a way of life. We have to implement to the full a liturgy which is flexible and sensitive to local needs and which draws on the often untapped wealth of alternatives already offered in the official norms of the Church. We have to become aware of the existing possibilities in the Iiturgy for evangelising ourselves and others and for communicating the gospel message in all its richness.

62. This heightened understanding of the liturgy is nor achieved spontaneously. There is need for a sustained programme of liturgical education and formation. The bishop is at the heart of the local church's prayer and offering and has responsibility for every aspect of public worship in the diocese. Priests are co-operators and sharers in the bishop's office and it is on them that he depends for the continuing liturgical formation and education of his people. Normally he will seek advice and co-operation from a diocesan liturgical commission which adequately represents clergy, religious and laity.  Such a commission can be invaluable in promoting education in the liturgy and the necessary formation of people and priests. It can give service to the parishes of the diocese and perhaps maintain contact with representative groups established at deanery level. There is much experience to be shared between parishes and it is often within the parish that an effective sharing of experience and ideas can be carried out. A parish liturgy group, working with the priest, can help greatly to ensure the development of full participation by all members of the community in parish worship. In this way also much can be done to relate the real concern and spirit of the people to the celebration of the parish Mass.

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.
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25 December 2013

What's He Saying?

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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!
Triumphantly sing!
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,
Omnipotent! Word,
Oh, hasten! oh hasten!
To worship the Lord.

What tune shall we use?  Immortal Invisible?

Happy Christmas, everybody!
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