18 March 2017

Third Sunday of Lent 1865


19 SUNDAY, Third of Lent, semidouble. Violet. First Vespers of St Cuthbert, commemoration of the Sunday. [In Diocese of Liverpool, Plenary Indulgence, and in Diocese of Southwark, Plenary Indulgence for eight days for St Joseph.]

20 Monday St Cuthbert, Bishop Confessor, double. White. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Patron, double of first class with an Octave. Creed. Plenary Indulgence.]

21 Tuesday St Benedict, Abbot Confessor, double. White.

22 Wednesday St JOSEPH, Spouse of the BVM, double of the second class (transferred from 19 March). White. [In Diocese of Plymouth, St Edward, King Martyr, double. Red.]

23 Thursday St Patrick, greater double (transferred from 17 March). White. [In Diocese of Plymouth, St Joseph, double of the second class (transferred from 19 March). White.]

24 Friday The Five Wounds of OUR LORD, greater double. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.

25 Saturday (Feast of Devotion) THE ANNUNCIATION of the BVM., double of the second class. Creed. Preface of the BVM. Plenary Indulgence.

The Parish of St Mary’s on the Quay, Bristol, is served by the Revs Matthew McCann, Antonio Cardonna, Peter Sherlock and Thomas Dykes SJ.  Masses on Sunday at 8.30 and at 11.00 with sermon. . Vespers, Sermon and Benediction at 6.30.  Weekday Masses at 8.00 and 8.30. On Wednesday Sermon and Benediction at 7.00 pm. Confessions on Wednesday from 6.00 to 9.00 pm, on Saturday from 2.00 to 4.00 and from 6.00 to 9.00, also before 8.30 Mass on Sunday and before each weekday Mass. Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary in union with that of Notre Dame des Victoires at Paris.

In 2017 the Parish is served by the Divine Word Fathers and Fr Vinsensius Mbui SVD is the Parish Priest.  Anticipated Mass on Saturday at 6.15 pm, and on Sunday at 9.30, 11.00 and 5.15 pm.  (Mass at St James’ Priory at 8.00.) Mass on Holydays at 12.15 and 5.30.  Mass on weekdays at 12.15 and also at 5.30 pm on Friday.  Exposition Monday to Saturday 11.30 to 12.10.  Holy Hour First Friday after 5.30 Mass. Rosary after Lunchtime Mass. Stations of the Cross after lunchtime Mass on Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent. Lectio Divina Wednesday from 7.30 to 8.30 pm. Confessions Monday to Saturday 11.45 to 12.10 and by appointment.  Parish groups include RCIA, Youth prayer group, Young Adult prayer group, Divine Mercy & Padre Pio prayer group, SVP, Mission Outreach, Music groups, the Delta Recovery Club, Tuesday Lunch Club, a Talking and Listening group and a Knitting group.

12 March 2017

Deliberate Ambiguity - Just Imagine That!

Browsing through Abbot Gasquet's Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer I came across a short paragraph and footnote, in a section about the 1548 Order of Communion, which reminded me that some things never change when people try to manipulate our Faith.

"Thus although the new order of communion must certainly have been a startling introduction to a people accustomed to the old and simple rite, it need not have presented the same insuperable difficulties as it would to those now accustomed to a form long unvaried. Whilst it is impossible not to feel with a certain sense of disquiet the innovating spirit which runs through the whole, or to overlook the definite manifestation of uncatholic intent which here and there betrays itself, it may be said that the prayers, like the address, contain little to which definite objection can be taken (1).

(1) The unnecesary use of the word "spiritually"; the expressions "minister the bread" "minister the wine"; the consecration, or, if necessary, repeated consecrations of the chalice alone, point to innovation. On the other hand, the insertion of the words "which was given for thee" - " which was shed for thee" in the formula for communion, and the monition that "men must not think less to be received in part (of the consecrated host) than in the whole, but in each of them the whole body of our Saviour Jesus Christ", emphasize the ancient doctrine. It would almost seem that the action of two minds working with different intentions is to be traced in the composition of this 'Order of Communion'."

I bet Cranmer would have loved the footnote solution used in Amoris Laetitia.

11 March 2017

Second Sunday Of Lent 1865

12 SUNDAY Second of Lent, Semidouble. Violet. First Vespers of St Gregory the Great, antiphon O Doctor, commemoration of the Sunday. White. Plenary Indulgence for St Gregory. [In dioceses of Liverpool, Northampton and Salford, collection for Ecclesiastical Education. In Diocese of Birmingham, first Vespers of St Frances of Rome, commemoration of the Sunday. White. In Diocese of St David’s and Newport, first Vespers of St Felix (Meruit supremos), commemoration of the Sunday. White.]

13 Monday St Gregory the Great, Pope Confessor Doctor, Apostle of England, double of the second class (transferred from 12 March). Creed. White. [In Diocese of Birmingham, St Frances of Rome, double (transferred from 9 March). White.  In Diocese of St David’s and Newport, St Felix, double (transferred from 9 March). White.

14 Tuesday The Forty Martyrs, semidouble (transferred from 10 March). Third prayers A cunctis. Red. [In dioceses of Birmingham, and St David’s and Newport St Gregory the Great, Pope Confessor Doctor, Apostle of England, double of the second class (transferred from 12 March). Creed. White.]

15 Wednesday Feria. Violet. [In dioceses of Birmingham, and St David’s and Newport The Forty Martyrs, semidouble (transferred from 10 March). Third prayers A cunctis. Red.

16 Thursday Feria. Violet.

17 Friday The Holy Winding Sheet of OUR LORD, greater double. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.

18 Saturday St Gabriel Archangel, greater double. Creed. White.

The Cathedral Church of St Chad in Birmingham is served by the Bishop, the Rt Rev Bernard William Ullathorne DD OSB, the Very Rev Canon G Jeffries, Vicar General, the Very Rev Canons T Flanagan and E Estcourt, and the Revs Charles Hipwood and James Trenor. Mass on Sundays at 7.00, 8.00, 9.15 and 11.00. Vespers and Benediction at 6.30. Mass on Holydays at 6.00, 7.00, 8.00, 9.15 and 11.00. Vespers and Benediction at 7.30.

In 2017, the Cathedral is served by Archbishop Bernard Longley, Canon Gerry Breen, the Administrator and Dean, Fr Gerry Lennon, Fr Christopher Marshall and Fr Jeremy Howard. Anticipated Mass is on Saturday at 4.30. Sunday Mass is at 9.00 with High Mass at 11.00.  Mass on Holydays at 12.15 and 6.00 pm.  Also at 9.15 at St Chad’s Primary School in term time. His Grace the Archbishop officiates at Chapter Masses on the First Tuesday, the Feast of St Chad, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the Easter Vigil, Easter Monday, Christ the King, the Immaculate Conception, and Midnight Mass of Christmas. Weekday Mass at 12.15 including Bank Holidays, and on Saturday at 9.00. Confessions from 12.15 on weekdays. On Saturdays from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 4.30 pm. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturdays from 10.30 to 11.30.

04 March 2017

First Sunday of Lent 1865

5 SUNDAY, first of Lent, semidouble. Violet. First Vespers of St David (Meruit supremos) with commemoration of the Sunday. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Plenary Indulgence.]

6 Monday St David, Bishop Confessor, double (transferred from 1 March). White. [In Diocese of St David’s and Newport, Patron of Wales, double of the first class.]

7 Tuesday St Thomas of Aquin, Confessor Doctor, double. Third prayers of SS Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs. Creed. White.

8 Ember-Wednesday St Felix, Bishop Confessor, double. White. [In Diocese of St David’s and Newport, Feria. Violet. In Diocese of Northampton Plenary Indulgence for eight days.]

9 Thursday St Frances of Rome, Widow, double. White. [In Diocese of Birmingham Feria. Violet.]

10 Ember-Friday The Lance and Nails of OUR LORD, greater double. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.

11 Ember-Saturday St John of God, double. White.

The parish of SS Henry and Elizabeth Sheerness is served by the Rev Michael Conway.  There is Mass with a sermon for soldiers at 9.30, and High Mass with a sermon for the congregation at 11.00. Vespers, Discourse and Benediction at 6.30. Weekday Mass at 9.00. Confraternity Devotions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Stations on Friday evening. Confessions daily, on Saturday from 2.00 pm. Special services in Lent and May.

In 2017 the parish is served by Canon Francis Moran, assisted by Deacon Paul Glock. Anticipated Mass is at 6.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday Mass is at 11.15, with Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Minster at 9.00. On Holydays Mass is at 10.00 and 8.00 pm, with Mass at Minster at 12.00. Confessions are on Saturday 12.00 to 1.00.

25 February 2017

Quinquagesima Sunday 1865

26 QUINQUAGESIMA SUNDAY semidouble. Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers free for the priest to choose. Violet. Vespers of Quinquagesima Sunday, suffrages. [In dioceses of Westminster and Southwark collection for the Orphanages.]

27 Monday Feria. Second prayers of the Dead. Third prayers A Cunctis. Violet.

28 Tuesday Feria. Violet.

1 Ash-Wednesday Feria. Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers Omnipotens. Preface of Lent (until Passion Sunday, except when otherwise directed). Violet. FAST.

v  The FAST of LENT is to be continued till Easter on all days except Sundays, on which ABSTINENCE is to be observed, unless Dispensation be granted.  The time for complying with the obligation of PASCHAL COMMUNION commences on ASH-WEDNESDAY, and continues till LOW SUNDAY inclusively.

2 Thursday St Chad, Bishop Confessor, double. White. [In Diocese of Beverley Plenary Indulgence. In Diocese of Birmingham, Titular of the Cathedral, double of the first class.]

v  On all festivals in Lent a commemoration of the feria is made, and its Gospel read at the end of Mass.

3 Friday The Crown of Thorns of OUR LORD, greater double. Creed, Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence.

4 St Casimir, Confessor, semidouble. Third prayers of St Lucius Pope Martyr. White.

The Indulgence begins.

The parish of St Chad on Cheetham-road Manchester is served by the Revv William J Sheehan (Missionary Rector), Seth Henry Clarkson and James Hayes.  Mass on Sunday at 8.00, 9.00 and 10.00, and High Mass with sermon at 11.00. Baptisms at 4.00. Vespers, sermon and Benediction at 6.30. Mass in workhouse at 9.00. On Holydays Mass at 7.00, 8.30 and 10.00. Sermon and Benediction at 7.30 pm. On weekdays Mass at 7.30 and 8.15. Catechism, Instruction and Benediction on Thursday at 7.30 pm. Confessions on Monday and Friday from 4.30 to 11.30 pm and on Saturday from 3.30 to 11.00 pm, on eves of Holydays from 4.00 to 10.00 pm. Churchings on Monday morning at 8.30. Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings of Advent and Lent. Confraternities of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Living Rosary, Purgatorian Society, a branch of the SVP and a Young Men’s Society. The large schools in connection with this church are conducted by the Nuns of Notre Dame and the Xaverian Brothers.

In 2017 St Chad’s is served by the Oratorian Fathers. On Sundays Low Mass at 8.00, Solemn Mass at 11.30, EF Low Mass at 4.45. Solemn Vespers and Benediction at 4.00. Monday to Friday Mass at 7.00 and 5.30 pm. On Saturday Mass at 11.00. Anticipated Mass on Saturday at 4.00 in St Luke’s Chapel at North Manchester General Hospital. Mass on Wednesday at 12.00 in St Raphael’s Chapel North Manchester General Hospital. Mass on Saturday at 9.30 in St Joseph’s Chapel, Moston Cemetery. On Bank Holidays Mass at 10.00 am, and Requiem Mass at 11.00 at Moston Cemetery. On First Friday in term time Sung Mass at 1.45 pm with schoolchildren from Years 3, 4, 5,and 6. Confessions before Mass on Sunday morning and during EF Mass, 4.45 to 5.15 on weekdays, 11.30 to 12.30 and 7.00-8.00 pm on Saturdays. 9.40 to 10.00 on Bank Holidays. Devotions to St Philip and Silent Prayer after evening Mass on Monday. Silent Prayer after evening Mass Tuesday to Friday. Sung Vespers after the evening Mass on Feast Days. Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction Saturdays from 7.00 to 8.00.

18 February 2017

Sexagesima Sunday 1865

19 SEXAGESIMA SUNDAY, semidouble. Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers free for the priest to choose. Violet. Vespers of Sexagesima Sunday, suffrages.

20 Monday Feria. Second prayers of the Dead. Third prayers A Cunctis. Violet.

21 Tuesday Feria. Violet.

22 Wednesday St Peter’s Chair at Antioch, greater double. Second prayers of St Paul, Apostle, Creed, Preface of the Apostles. White.

23 Thursday Vigil. St Peter Damian, Bishop Confessor Doctor, double. Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Vigil, Creed. White.

24 Friday (Feast of Devotion) St MATHAIAS, Apostle, double of the second class. Creed, Preface of the Apostles. Red. Plenary Indulgence for the feast of the Passion. Abstinence.

25 Saturday The Passion of OUR LORD, greater double (transferred from 24 Feb). Creed, Preface of the Cross, Red.

The Parish Church of Newport, Monmouthshire, is served by Rosminian Fathers, the Rev Dominick Cavalli and the Rev Michael Bailey.  Sunday Masses are at 8.30, 9.30, and 11.00. Catechism at 2.30. Vespers, Sermon and Benediction at 6.30. Mass on Holydays at 5.00, 7.00 and 10.00. Vespers and Benediction at 7.00. Weekday Mass at 7.00, 7.30 and 9.00. Rosary on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7.00. On Thursday Benediction after Rosary. Stations of the Cross very Friday in Lent and on the first Friday of the month.

In 2017 St Mary’s has been amalgamated with five other parishes into a new parish of All Saints, served by Canon Michael Evans and Fr John Boye, and two permanent Deacons, the Revs Pasquale Cinotti and Rigo Logier.   At St Mary’s, anticipated Mass is on Saturday at 4.30 pm and on Sundays at 9.30 and 6.00 pm.  Weekday Mass is at 10.00, with an early mass at 7.30 on Wednesdays.  Confessions on Saturday 10.45 to 11.45 and 3.30 to 4.15 pm.  Adoration on Tuesday 10.30 to 12.00 and Saturday 10.30 to 11.45 and 3.30 to 4.15. Divine Office on Wednesday after 10.00 Mass.

Parish Groups are: Bereavement Support Group, Choir, Folk Choir, Guild of St Stephen, Hospital Visitors, Justice and Peace, Legion of Mary, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Night Shelter, Readers, St Mary’s Social Club, SVP, Sunday Munch (providing meals for homeless people), and Welcomers.

11 February 2017

Septuagesima Sunday1865

12 SEPTUAGESIMA SUNDAY semidouble. Second prayers A cunctis, third prayers free. Violet. Vespers of Septuagesima with suffrages. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Plenary Indulgence.]

13 Monday Feria. Second prayers for the Dead, third prayers A cunctis. Violet.

14 Tuesday St Valentine, Martyr, simple. Second prayers A cunctis, third prayers free. Red.

15 Wednesday SS Faustin and Jovita Martyrs, simple. Second prayers A cunctis, third prayers free. Red. [In Diocese of Clifton fourth prayers for the Bishop.]

16 Thursday Of the Blessed Sacrament, semidouble. Second prayers A cunctis, third prayers free. Preface of Christmas. White.

17 Friday The Prayer of OUR LORD, greater double. Creed, Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence. Abstinence.

18 Saturday Of the Immaculate Conception, semidouble. Second prayers of St Simeon, Bishop Martyr, third prayers of the Holy Ghost, Preface of the BVM. White.

On Sunday the Suffrages are said:

The parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, Marylebone-road NW is served by The Rev Alfred White and the Rev Thomas P Thacker DD. Masses on Sunday are at 8.00, 9.00 and 10.00, with High Mass at 11.00. Instruction for children is at 3.00, with Benediction at 4.00, and Rosary, Sermon and Benediction at 7.00. On Holydays Masses are at 8.00, 9.0010.00 and 11.00, and Rosary, Sermon and Benediction are celebrated at 7.00. Weekday Mass at 8.00. Confraternity of the Holy Family and Benediction on Tuesday at 8.00.  On Wednesday and Friday, Rosary, Sermon and Benediction at 8.00. Confessions on Wednesday and Saturday from 10.00 to 12.00 am; on Wednesday and Friday from 7.00 pm; on Saturday from 4.00 to 5.00 pm, and from 6.00 pm. Baptisms on Sunday at 2.00 pm; and Wednesdays at 10.00 am. Churchings on Wednesday and Saturday at 10.00 am. Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. The parish serves Queen Charlotte’s Lying-in Hospital.

In 2017 the parish is served by Fr Michael Johnston.  Anticipated Mass is at 6.00 pm on Saturday, with Sunday Mass at 8.30, 11.00 (Family) and 6.00 pm (Folk).  Mass is said at 1.00 pm on the First Sunday in Czech for the Czech community.  On Holydays Mass is at 12.30pm.  Weekday and Saturday Mass is at 12.30. Exposition and Benediction on Saturday from 5.00 to 5.30 pm. Confessions Saturday 11.00 to 11.30 and 5.00 to 5.30.  Parish groups are UCM, Over 50s, Finance and Properties, Church Cleaning, Faith Sharing, the Choir, the Folk Group, the Guild of St Stephen, the Legion of Mary and the Knights of St Columba.

04 February 2017

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany 1865

5 SUNDAY Fifth after Epiphany. St Agatha, Virgin Martyr, double. Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Red. Second Vespers of St Agatha to the Little Chapter, thence of St Titus (Meruit supremos) with commemoration of St Agatha, the Sunday and St Dorothy, Virgin Martyr. White. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence.]

6 Monday St Titus, Bishop Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Dorothy, Virgin Martyr. White.

7 Tuesday St Romuald, Abbot Confessor, double. White.

8 Wednesday St John of Matha, Confessor, double. White.

9 Thursday Sts Vincent and Anasthasius, Martyrs, semidouble (22 January). Second prayers of St Appollonia, Virgin Martyr. Red. [In diocese of Westminster, the XXVI Martyrs of Japan, double. Second prayers of St Appollonia, Virgin Martyr. Red.]

10 Friday St Scholastica, Virgin, double. White. Abstinence.

11 Saturday Of the Immaculate Conception, semidouble. Second prayers of the Holy Ghost. Third prayers for the Church or the Pope. Preface of the BVM. White. [In the diocese of Westminster Sts Vincent and Anasthasius, Martyrs, semidouble (22 January). Red.]

The parish of St Edmund, at 23 Westgate-street Bury St Edmunds is served by the Rev James Brownbill SJ. On Sundays High Mass at 10.45. On Holydays Mass at 9.00. On weekdays Mass at 7.15. Vespers and Benediction on Sundays and Holydays at 3.00. On Sundays Catechism after Vespers. On first Sunday of month Devotion of Bona Mors instead of Vespers. Confessions on Saturdays and eves of Holydays at 2.00 and 6.00 pm; also every morning before Mass. Confraternities of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Bona Mors.

In 2017 the parish is served by Fr Mark Hackeson, Fr Alvin and Fr Gerard Quigley. Three retired priests live in the parish: Fr Paul Mercer, Fr Christopher Hogan and Fr William Mason. The Rev Alan McMahon is Permanent Deacon.  Sr Marie of the St Louis nuns works in the parish and the Benedictine Sisters of Grace and Compassion run a residential home, Montana, at Great Barton. 

Mass on Sundays is at 8.30, 10.30 and 6.00 pm.  There is also Mass at Our Lady’s Lawshall and at Montana at 10.30. Anticipated Mass on Saturdays in Malayalam on the second Saturday and in Polish on the third Saturday. Adoration and Benediction is at 4.00.  On weekdays Mass is at various times at Bury, and at Montana on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 8.15. There is a Eucharistic service at Montana on Wednesday and Saturday. Mass at Lawshall on Tuesday at 9.30. Adoration, Confession and Benediction on Wednesday at 10.30. Confession also 10.30 to 11.00 on Saturday and by appointment. Parish groups are: Catenians, St Edmund’s Social Club, SPUC, History Group, Guild of St Stephen, MISSIO, a charismatic prayer group, the choir, Flower Arranging Group, Guild of St Martha, Helping Hands Group, Justice and Peace Group, Link Couple, Marian Prayer Group, Mothers’ Prayers, Parents and Toddlers Group, St Edmund’s Ladies Club, SVP, and a Walsingham Association.

31 January 2017

This Pope ...

I haven't really said anything much about Amoris Laetitia (and will go back to Angeluses, Novenas and Ordines after this), and that's because sexual sin is the most individual and the hardest to judge and absolve.  Sex is the most basic and base of our instincts, and the one in which our brutishness has the best chance of being revealed.  It is also the occasion of sin against which the highest ideal has been set: that sexual union should only take place between lawfully married spouses completely open to the gift of conception. It's not like stealing or killing: this is something our bodies and minds are designed for.

Of course every grace is available to those who ask for it, and we all know of examples: of heroic and faithful fecundity; of pious resignation to unwelcome aridity; of chastity accepted as just one element of the greatest of vocations. And we all know, and mainly personally, how easy it is to fall short of the great ideal, and we know the particular hypocrisy that surrounds sexual sin: the couple who abstain so as not to conceive who look down on the contracepting couple who learned NFP at Church looking down at the contracepting couple who use chemicals and these looking down on the remarried couple who in turn look down on the unmarried couple, and all look down on the gays. (How is homosexual sexual sin worse than heterosexual sexual sin when at least homosexuals aren't putting a barrier between their sexual activity and procreation?)  And when was the last time anybody here was taught about continence.

And the priest walks into the confessional to face all of this and the whole contextual misery in which somebody acknowledges their sin and their need to repent and access grace and has to decide how to address the particular situation of a particular individual at a particular point in time.  Poor priests!  It was hard enough before Amoris Laetitia: how difficult must it be now.

And all this talk of "living like brother and sister"! I know two or three examples of brother and sister house-shares and I can assure you that they don't involve people who share a bed or sexual longings for each other.  For what it's worth, I think that the Church's (or at least some churchmen's) attempts to "develop doctrine" have been thrown into relief by sexual sin: you can't pretend that what's sinful isn't.  You might argue that contextually what one absolute monarch did in the sixteenth century looks objectively like mortal sin, while analogous activity by a nineteenth century slumdweller looks objectively like venial sin; but they're both sins, and, anyway, sins are committed by people, and it's what is going on in the mind of the person that the priest in confession or, I daresay, God, at the Judgement will look at as much as at the objectivity of the sinfulness of the action.

So I'm not getting into arguments about ambiguous footnotes, or demands that strict rules should be applied across various boards.  I know about my own sinfulness and will address that, I hope, before starting on anybody else's.

But I will say that in all of this I want a teacher who teaches me unambiguously what is right and what is wrong.  I want a Church and a Pope who tell me that I have fallen short and that in spite of that I can still stand up again and move forward.  I want that teaching office, the confirmation f the brethren to be at the heart of what the Pope and the Bishops are for.

And instead, we learn that the Pope isn't even going to offer teaching and correction to his brother Bishops during their ad limina visits henceforth. He's given up on the teaching office he was elected to. That, I suggest, is the crisis: he can't even be bothered to pretend.

28 January 2017

Fourth Sunday After The Epiphany 1865

29 SUNDAY Fourth after Epiphany, St Francis de Sales, double. Second prayers and last Gospel of the Sunday. White. Second Vespers of St Francis to the Little Chapter, thence of St Martini, with commemorations of St Francis and the Sunday. Red. [In diocese of Clifton, third prayers for the Bishop.]

30 Monday St Martina, Virgin Martyr, double. Red.

31 Tuesday St Peter Nolasco, Confessor, double. White.

1 Wednesday St Ignatius, Bishop Martyr, double. Red.

2 Thursday (FEASTDAY OF DEVOTION) THE PURIFICATION OF THE BVM, double of the second class, Creed, Preface of Christmas. White. Plenary Indulgence. Before Mass the Candles are blessed.

v  After Compline, Ave Maria until Maundy Thursday

3 Friday St Paul, First Hermit, double (transferred from 15 January). Second prayers of St Blasé Bishop Martyr. White. Abstention.

4 Saturday St Andrew Corsini, Bishop Confessor, double. White.

The Parish Church of St Mary, Dunchurch-road Rugby, is served by the Institute of Charity (the Rosminians). The Very Rev AM Rinolfi is the Provincial, and the Revv Joseph Akeroyd, William J A Sheehy and Peter Castellano are also based in the parish.  On Sundays and Holydays Mass is at 7.00 and 10.00. Catechism is at 3.00, and Vespers, Sermon and Bendiction is at 6.00.  Weekday Mass is at 7.00 in Summer and 7.30 in Winter. Rosary, lecture and Benediction every Thursday at 8.00.  Stations of the Cross on Fridays in Lent.

In 2017 the Parish is still served by the Rosminians but is called St Marie’s.  Fr Tony Furlong is the Parish Priest, supported by Frs Tony Baxter and John Bucker.  The Parish Deacon is the Rev Gerald Nowoski. Anticipated Sunday Mass is on Saturday at 6.00 pm.  On Sundays Mass is at 10.00 and 6.00 pm.  Mass in Polish is at 12.30.  On Holydays Mass is at 10.00 and 7.00 pm. Weekday Mass is at 10.00. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm on Mondays and includes Morning Prayer at 8.50.  Confessions are on Sunday 9.30 to 9.55, and on Saturdays from 10.00 to 11.00 and from 5.30 to 5.55pm.

21 January 2017

Third Sunday After Epiphany 1865

22 SUNDAY Third after Epiphany, semidouble, second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope. Green. First Vespers of the Espousals of the BVM, commemoration of the Sunday and of St Emerentiana, Virgin Martyr. White.

23 Monday The Espousals of the BVM, greater double. Second prayers of St Emerentiana, Virgin Martyr, Creed, Preface of the BVM. White. Plenary Indulgence.

24 Tuesday St Timothy, Bishop Martyr, double. Red.

25 Wednesday The Conversion of St Paul, Apostle, greater double. Second prayers of St Peter, Creed, Preface of the Apostles.  White. [In Diocese of Liverpool, third prayers for the Bishop.]

26 Thursday St Polycarp, Bishop Martyr, double. Red.

27 Friday St John Chrysostom, Bishop Confessor Doctor, double. Creed. White. Abstinence.

28 Saturday St Raymund of Pennafort, Confessor, semidouble. Second prayers of St Agnes, Virgin Martyr, third prayers of the BVM. White.

This is the first of only five Sundays this year when the priest will wear Green.

The parish of St Mary Bacup is served by the Rev Henry M J Mulvany. Sunday masses are at 9.30 and 11.00. Baptisms are at 2.00., Churching at 2.30. Rosary, catechism and instruction at 3.00. Vespers, lecture and Benediction at 6.30. On Holydays Mass is at 9.00 and Rosary and Benediction are at 8.00 pm.  Weekday Mass is at 9.00.

The parish of Our Immaculate Mother and St Anselm Whitworth is served by the Rev John Millward. Sunday masses are at 8.30 and 10.30. Baptisms are at 2.00, instruction at 3.30 and Compline at 6.30.  On Holydays masses are at 5.00 and 8.00. There is an evening service at 7.30. On weekdays Mass is at 8.00. Churchings are after Mass on Mondays. On Thursdays, rosary, instruction and Benediction is at 7.30pm. Confessions on Sunday at 3.30, and for children on Friday evening.  The Holy Sacrifice is offered once a week in this Church for its benefactors.

In 2017 the two parishes have been combined and are served by the Rev Fr Frank Thorpe MA.  Anticipated Sunday Mass is at St Mary’s at 5.30 pm on Saturday, and on Sunday at 10.30 at St Anselm. Weekday Mass is at St Anselm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 9.15, and on Friday at 11.00 at ST Mary’s. Exposition at St Anselm from 8.45 to 9.15 on Thursdays. Confession at St Mary’s Saturday evening from 5.00 to 5.15 and at St Anselm on request.

14 January 2017

Second Sunday After Epiphany 1865

15 SUNDAY Second after Epiphany. The MOST HOLY NAME OF JESUS, double of the second class.  Second prayers and last Gospel of the Sunday, third prayers of St Maur, Abbot. Preface of Christmas. White. Second Vespers of the Feast, commemoration of the Sunday and of St Marcellus. Plenary Indulgence.

16 Monday St Marcellus, Pope Martyr, semidouble.  Second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope. Red.

17 Tuesday St Anthony, Abbot Confessor, double. White.

18 Wednesday St Peter's Chair at Rome, greater double. Second prayers of St Paul, Apostle, Creed, Preface of the Apostles. White.

19 Thursday St Wolstan, Bishop Confessor, double. Second prayers of SS Marius and Companions, Martyrs. White.

20 Friday SS Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs, double. Red. Abstinence.

21 Saturday St Agnes, Virgin Martyr, double. Red.

The parish of the Assumption, Deptford, is served by the Missionary Rector, the Rev John M Glenie, whose curate is the Rev James Purdon.  On Sundays, Mass is at 7.00, 9.00 (with sermon), 10.00 (for children only), and High Mass with sermon at 11.00. Catechism and sermon at 3.30. Vespers, sermon and Benediction at 6.30.  On holidays, Mass is at 8.00 and 10.00, with Vespers, sermon and Benediction at 7.30. On weekdays Mass is at 8.00 and 9.00. Benediction on Wednesday and Stations of the Cross on Friday, at 7.30 pm. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Rosary and Night Prayers at 7.30 pm.  Confessions on Wednesday and Friday from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 6.00 pm; on Saturdays from 10.00 to 12.00, and from 4.30 pm.

In 2017 the Parish Priest is Fr Boniface Kesiena Akpoigbe. Mass is said on Sunday at 9.00, 11.00 and 6.30 pm. On the second Sunday of the month, Mass is said in Yoruba at 2.00 pm. Weekday Mass is at 9.00, except on Saturdays when it is said at 10.00. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every weekday at 8.00 am. Confessions on Saturday 10.30 to 11.30 and at 5.30 pm..  Baptism as advertised after instruction. Visits to the housebound from 11.00 am Mondays. The parish website is here.

Looking for a school for your daughter?

07 January 2017

Sunday Within The Octave Of The Epiphany 1865

8 SUNDAY within the Octave, and 1st after Epiphany, semidouble, second prayer of the Octave. White. Vespers of the Sunday, commemoration of the Octave. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, Plenary Indulgence.]

9 Monday Of the Octave, semidouble, second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White.

10 Tuesday Of the Octave, semidouble, second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White.

11 Wednesday Of the Octave, semidouble, second prayer of St Hyginus, PM, third prayers of the BVM. White.

12 Thursday Of the Octave, semidouble, second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White.

13 Friday Octave of the Epiphany, double. White. Abstinence.

14 Saturday St Hilary, Bishop Confessor Doctor, double, second prayer of St Felix, Martyr. Creed. White.

The parish of St Mary’s Derby is served by a Missionary Rector, the Very Rev Canon Joseph Daniel, with two curates, the Revv C Stroobant and Arthur McKenna.  Mass on Sundays is at 8.00, 9.30, and 11.00  Vespers are at 3.00 and there is an evening service at 6.30.  On Holydays, Mass is at 5.15, 8.00 and 11.00, with an evening service at 8.00.  Weekday Mass is at 8.00.

Fasting and Abstinence in 1865

Fasting Days, on which flesh-meat is forbidden, and only one meal allowed:

The Forty Days of Lent; the Ember Days; the Vigils of Whit-Sunday, SS. Peter and Paul, the Assumption, All Saints, and Christmas; and the Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent.

Abstinence Days, on which flesh-meat is forbidden:

The Sundays in Lent, unless leave be given to the contrary, and all Fridays, except the Friday on which Christmas-Day may fall.

Lenten Dispensations:

The following are the usual Dispensations for Lent granted each year by the Bishops of England for their respective Dioceses, by the Authority of the Holy See.

1.            Flesh-meat is allowed at the single meal of those who are bound to fast, and at the discretion of those who are not so bound, on all days except Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Ember-Saturday, and the four last days in Holy-Week. On Sundays, even those who are bound to fast may eat flesh-meat at their discretion.

2.            Eggs are allowed at the single meal of those who are bound to fast, and at the discretion of those who are not so bound, on all days except Ash-Wednesday and the three last days of Holy-Week.

3.            Cheese, under the same restrictions, is allowed on all days, except Ash-Wednesday and Good-Friday.

4.            The use of dripping and lard is permitted at dinner and collation on all days, except Good-Friday.

On those days, Sundays included, whereon flesh-meat is allowed, fish is not permitted at the same meal.

These are the rules in place until modern times.  The only major change was that from 1917, the obligation of abstinence was removed on days of precept which fell on Fridays. Minor changes included better regulation of the use of butter and the definition of suet as only allowable when meat was allowed. 

Fasting meant only one meal: a modest meal according to one's station in life, and which should be completed in less than an hour.  Separate from this meal, two collations could also be taken, though together they should not be as large as the single meal.

The Lenten dispensations date from the time of the Vicars Apostolic and temper what, looked at from 2017, is a tough discipline, though I think if we still followed it I would feel able to look Muslim colleagues in the eye during Ramadan and say "yes, we fast too".

01 January 2017

The Feast Of The Circumcision 1865

I copied an Ordo for England and Wales a couple of years ago which showed what parish life looked like before the changes introduced by Pope St Pius X which began a process of disastrous liturgical change in the Latin Rite Church.  I'll try to do the same this year, but will probably leave out the sententious obiter dicta.which added, I think, little of value.

1 SUNDAY (Vacant) CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD double of the second class. Creed (till the Octave of the Epiphany inclusively); Preface of Christmas (till the Epiphany). White. Second Vespers of the Feast, commemoration of the Octave of St Stephen only.

NB Plenary Indulgence from the First Vespers till sunset of the Feast; and thus on all Feasts of or LORD and the BVM. [In Diocese of Liverpool Plenary Indulgence on all Sundays.]

2 Monday Octave of St Stephen, Proto-Martyr, double. Commemoration of Octaves of St Thomas, St John and Holy Innocents. Red.

3 Tuesday. Octave of St John, Apostle and Evangelist, double. Commemoration of Octaves of St Thomas and Holy Innocents, Preface of the Apostles. White.

4 Wednesday. Octave of the Holy Innocents, double. Commemoration of the Octave of St Thomas. Red.

5 Thursday. Vigil. Octave of St Thomas Bishop Martyr. Commemoration of Vigil of the Epiphany and St Telesphorus; last Gospel of Vigil. Red.

6 Friday EPIPHANY OF OUR LORD, double of the first class, with an Octave, during which the Preface of the Epiphany is said. White. Second Vespers of the Feast. Plenary Indulgence. Abstinence.

The Indulgence ends.

7 Saturday. Of the Octave, semidouble; second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or the Pope White. [In Dioceses of Clifton, St David's and Newport, and Plymouth, principal Mass of BVM with Gloria, one prayer and Creed; Litany of the BVM,and Benediction. White.]

The Parish of St Mary in Chippenham is served by the Rev Maurice Victor Domenge, a Missionary Priest of the Congregation of St Francis of Sales.  On Sundays and Holydays Mass and Instruction take place at 10.30. Catechism is at 5.30. Vespers, instruction and Benediction are at 6.30.  Confessions on saturday from 5.00 to 7.00 pm, and on Sundays and Holydays before Mass.

22 October 2016

Not Dead, And Thinking ...

It would be as odd to appeal for the abolition of the Internet as it would have been for an early sixteenth century Peter Simple to have called for the breaking up of all moveable type.  You can't uninvent things, especially the transformative things which every century or so change the way we do things: moveable type; accurate mapping; steam engines; you know.

The Devil is often the first to seize anything new, not least because novelty will always give him a way in.  It's precisely when, and because, something is new that people don't know what to make of it.  In comes Old Nick with a promise that it will meet every one of our desires.

The Internet is a bit like that: a packet-switched military communications system employing redundancy in novel ways, piggy-backed on by Academia, and, with the invention in 1991 of the World Wide Web, a transformation in the way human beings interact with each other. In the same way that a lie is half way round the world before the truth has its pants on, the Internet had transformed the way that the Devil could tempt humankind: all of the filth of all of the world now available at the click of a key.

So imagine what he must feel like when the Internet is used to link people to share prayer: not just Catholics blogging, using the Internet to find out just what is happening in Rome, important as that is; but praying the Angelus, praying Novenas, and asking each other for prayers for special intentions.

The more we occupy some space on each social media platform, the more we sanctify it; the more space we occupy, the more we deny to the Devil; the more we use it for Good, the more we intrude, such that people become aware that Good exists.

Make prayer a more explicit and positive part of how you use the Internet.

07 August 2016

Novena To Saint Joachim And Saint Ann

Saint Joachim and Saint Ann, grandparents of Jesus and parents of Mary, we seek your intercession. We beg you to direct all our actions to the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Strengthen us when we are tempted, console us during our trials, help us when we are in need, be with us in life and in death.

O divine Saviour, we thank you for having chosen Saint Joachim and Saint Ann to be parents of our Blessed Mother Mary and so to be your own beloved grandparents. We place ourselves under their patronage this day. We recommend to them our families, our children, and our grandchildren. Keep them from all spiritual and physical harm. Grant that they may ever grow in greater love of God and others.

Saint Joachim and Saint Ann, we have many great needs. We beg you to intercede for us before the throne of your divine Grandson. 

(Mention your request here)

All of us here have our own special intentions, our own special needs, and we pray that through your intercession, our prayers may be granted. Amen.

29 June 2016

After The Mute Centuries - For The Catholic Martyrs Of Wales

Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate, and Welsh poetry even more so, as part of the music it creates depends on the sound structure, utterly impossible to reproduce in another language.

So the translator has to work hard to express in the target language as much as possible of what is in the original, knowing that what he produces will never be more than a two dimensional representation of the original.

But we look at two dimensional pictures, seeing in them the three dimensions the artist's craft conjures up for us: so too we should persevere with poetry in translation (though for poetry, if for little else, I will resume in retirement the Welsh language classes I had to stop when children stopped so much else).

The name of Waldo Williams is, I imagine, unknown to just about everybody who ever stops by this place, yet he was one of the great poets of the twentieth century, just in a language few value.  He was a pacifist non-conformist, and became a Quaker, but his imprisonment for his pacifism gave him an understanding of what had motivated the Welsh martyrs, and he wrote the poem, the translation of which is below, about them.

This translation is by Rowan Williams: Archbishop of Canterbury, but previously Archbishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales: the first modern Archbishop of Canterbury to have been appointed from outside the Church of England. In this context, though, he is also a Bard of the Gorsedd: he really knows what he is translating.

After the Mute Centuries
for the Catholic martyrs of Wales

The centuries of silence gone, now let me weave a celebration
Because the heart of faith is one, the moment glows in which
Souls recognise each other, one with the great tree's kernel at
root of things.

They are at one with the light, where peace masses and gathers
In the infinities above my head; and, where the sky moves into night,
Then each one is a spyhole for my darkened eyes, lifting the veil.

John Roberts, Trawsfynydd, a pauper's priest,
Breaking bread for the journey when the plague weighed on them,
Knowing the power of darkness on its way to break, crumble, his

John Owen, carpenter: so many hiding places
Made by his tireless hands for old communion's sake,
So that the joists are not undone, the beam pulled from the roof.

Richard Gwyn: smiling at what he saw in their faces, said,
'I’ve only sixpence for your fine' — pleading his Master's case,
His charges (for his life) were cheap as that.

Oh, they ran swift and light. How can we weigh them, measure them,
The muster of their troops, looking down into damnation?
Nothing, I know, can scatter those bound by the paying of one price.

The final, silent tariff. World given in exchange for world,
The far frontiers of agony to buy the Spirit's leadership,
The flower paid over for the root, the dying grain to be his cradle.

Their guts wrenched out after the trip to torment on the hurdle,
And before the last gasp when the ladder stood in front of them
For the soul to mount, up to the wide tomorrow of their dear
Lord's Golgotha.

You’d have a tale to tell of them, a great, a memorable tale,

If only, Welshmen, you were, after all, a people.

12 June 2016

Down A Theological Rabbit Hole

I should have written earlier to praise Greg Daly's The Church and the Rising, an anthology of articles published by The Irish Catholic.

It tells the story of the Church and the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin both looking at how the Rising was viewed at the time and reflecting on it a hundred years later.

Like any anthology, some bits are better than others, but anybody who isn't Irish will get something from this collection, even if it just a nuanced view of how the Church reacted to what would be the opening shots in what would soon be a war of independence.  

At the end of the book are four reflections on the morality or justness of the Rising itself: two think it just, two unjust, and one of uses the theology of Just War to condemn it; (one of those thinking that the Rising was just rejects the application of Just War theology, and claims that there would need to be a theology of Just Rebellion if a specific theology needed to be applied: hmmm).

I'm not really that interested in the argument itself so much as in its retrospective application by the author of the article.  I'm not aware that any of the priests (all of whom will have had a pretty rigid scholastic formation) who ministered in Dublin in Easter Week to the rebels ever questioned the justness of what was happening, in the same way as the Chaplains to the Forces didn't question the justness of the fighting on the Western Front.  The author is reading history backwards, fitting a twenty-first century understanding of the doctrine of Just War as it has developed during the twentieth century to the Ireland of 1916: it won't do, just as the mawkishness which will in a couple of weeks accompany the 1 July commemorations of the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme won't do.  You can't judge people's actions using a hindsight not available to them.

The rabbit hole I have ended up in isn't about Just War, though: it's about the development of doctrine.  My exceptionally wise friend Anagnostis once said that it was wrong to think of the development of doctrine as resembling the development of an acorn into an oak: they are demonstrably different things; his analogy was the development of a photograph: the fine detail becomes clearer, but the picture doesn't change.

Attitudes towards warfare in western society changed dramatically in the latter part of the twentieth century.  War, big-scale war, ended in the Holocaust and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,and was replaced by more or less intense smaller scale conflicts.  Otherwise normal people began to think that the invention of the United Nations had meant that war would be no more: at least, that any war not sanctioned by the United Nations would be illegal

And along the way Just War doctrine has been hijacked, so that it now is supposed to match the non-doctrinal, non-theological, modern understanding of where the end of the Second World War left the West.

We're Catholics: we don't believe that doctrine changes to suit the prevaling currents of secular opinion, whether it be Just War or the admittance of remarried divorced Catholic to Holy Communion.  We have to understand how immutable doctrine applies to changed circumstances: for example, in what circumstances is it justifiable to target in a conflict a nerve-gas factory in the middle of a populated area (not the sort of thing St Thomas ever had to worry about); is the use of unmanned drones to kill an enemy leader an advance or a step backwards?  But the potential for war to be just doesn't depend on political sensibilities in late twentieth century Europe and North America.

The saddest bit of the book isn't about 1916: it's about today and comes when a current Capuchin friar talks about the ministry of the Capuchins of 1916 to the men who were to be executed.

'The salvation of souls was the absolute number one priority for the friars, he explains, adding that Dublin's secular clergy would have had the same concerns and the same determination to being pastoral care and the Sacraments to the injured and dying.

"Columbus Murphy's memoir shows that first and foremost they were really pastors of souls" he says.  "They really cared for the fellows' souls - they didn't want them to go to Hell.  That was the kind of theology of the day: it was Heaven or Hell, or a long, long term in Purgatory, so they were really interested in saving these guys' souls, making sure that they died in the favour of God with forgiveness and the oil of anointing on their bodies."

Describing how the priests ministered not just to the rebels but to their families, he says that during the Rising, "the priests met great faith in people, and shared the belief that they were there to save souls but that in doing that, built into it was pastoral care". Nowadays pastoral care tends to entail a "listening ear" and "a shoulder to cry on", he says, but "a hundred years ago it was a bit more stoic than that".'

God grant me a priest who believes in the theology of 1916 - the theology of the ages - when I am dying. I'll even not complain if he is described as "stoic".

UPDATE: I provoked some discussion from some really well-informed people about Just War theology and insurrection/rebellion.  You can read a summary of it here. Though it's not central to what I was on about above, one thing it's done for me is provide a more apposite example of when doctrine has to comprehend a new reality: in this case when both the governors and the governed accept that there has been a shift and that the governors can now only govern with the consent of the governed.  It doesn't mean that doctrine has to change: it means that unchanging doctrine has to be applied in a new circumstance.

06 March 2016

Tired With All These ...

The recent silence on this blog hasn't been caused by my having nothing to blog so much as by my not feeling able to blog about everything that is going on in any sort of measured or temperate way.

Shakespeare, as is well known, however, has a word for everything and Sonnet 66 says much about my views on what is happening in the Church today. (I note that Lady Asquith doesn't adduce this sonnet as an allegory about Shakespeare's Catholicism in Shadowplay, by the way.)

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

Fairly early on during my marathon look at what a pre-Pius X calendar would look like, I started to note consciously every time at Sunday Mass the priest added to or subtracted from the rubrics.  After a year, I can report that there hasn't been a single Mass I've been to at which the priest hasn't added to or taken away from text of the Missal before him.  Sometimes it has been small: "Pray sisters and brothers" instead of "Pray brothers and sisters" or "Pray brethren"; sometimes it has been the use of the Apostles Creed accompanied by a statement that none of us knows what consubstantial means; sometimes it has been adding a saint or two, or the names of the people for whom the Mass is being offered to the Eucharistic Prayer; sometimes it has been the five sermon Mass; sometimes during the football season we have had a discussion of the results either from the pulpit or the altar; usually it has been several of the above, and more.

And gilded honour shamefully misplac’d,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgrac’d,

Worst of all, and thankfully only once, a visiting priest insisted on improvising the Eucharistic Prayer: with the exception of the words of institution, he made it up as he went along.  (And by the time we got to the Eucharistic Prayer we weren't surprised as he had improvised everything else as well.) For the record, something analogous happened at one of the three EF Masses I got to.  The priest had fallen ill and his replacement, who hadn't said a Latin Mass since the 1960s, simply did what he could remember, without bothering to ask anybody or look anything up.

And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And then the Pope, saying the first thing that comes into his head; or does he actually believe some of the stuff he comes out with when he stops and thinks?  What does he think the Pope is for?

And folly—doctor-like—controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:

Even worse, the people who are taking advantage of the anarchy provoked by the Pope to push their own agendas.  Not just the Kaspers, but all of the little things going on up and down the country that are about making us less distinct and "more like everybody else".  "You don't need to worry about abstaining from meat on Fridays: that was the old Pope": that sort of thing.

Tir’d with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

But even with all of this, whatever is happening in the Church doesn't change the fact that it's my Church.  Whinging on blogs isn't going to do anything, but fasting and prayer might.  So don't expect near daily blogging or suchlike, but do join me in praying for the Church, and for the very holy priests, men like Cardinal Sarah, who are, I hope, its and our future.

06 February 2016

An Odd Thing

Tomorrow's second reading is 1 Corinthians 15 and begins with St Paul saying:

"Brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, the Gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the Gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you - believing anything else will not lead to anything."

A clarion call, you might think, to Orthodoxy: a solid statement that what the Church teaches is what it has always taught; that what it believes is what it has always believed.

Odd, then, that that sentence is optional, at least here, in England and Wales; and at the Vigil Mass I attended this evening, guess what! It was missed out.

02 February 2016

Novena To Saint Dymphna

Lord God, who has graciously chosen Saint Dymphna to be the patroness of those afflicted with mental and nervous disorders, and has caused her to be an inspiration and a symbol of charity to the thousands who invoke her intercession, grant through the prayers of this pure, youthful martyr, relief and consolation to all who suffer from these disturbances, and especially to those for whom we now pray. 

(Here mention those for whom you wish to pray.) 

We beg You to accept and grant the prayers of Saint Dymphna on our behalf. Grant to those we have particularly recommended patience in their sufferings and resignation to Your Divine Will. Fill them with hope and, if it is according to Your Divine Plan, bestow upon them the cure they so earnestly desire. Grant this through Christ Our Lord. Amen. 

02 January 2016

Just Asking ...

At the end of the Synod last year, we were left with a solid group of Orthodox prelates who were united in fighting off any watering down of the way the Church expresses her doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage.

Since then, that solidity has been buffeted by other proposals from ... well, from the same sort of people who seem to be saying that admitting the odd remarried divorcee back to Communion might be possible: the Marxians, we might say. They are that the question of priestly celibacy should be examined again, and that the prayer for the Jews composed by Pope Benedict for Extraordinary Form celebration of Good Friday should be rewritten so as not to ask for their conversion.

Now maybe I have spent too much time these holidays reading too much analysis of how the General Election last May was fought and won, but it seems to me that if I were a Marxian, faced with what was becoming an uphill struggle to get the expression of doctrine changed, I might well do something that looked as though I were opening a couple of new fronts, to distract my opponents: I might even have meditated on the old maxim divide et impera.

Add a few apparently anti-capitalist remarks and a view on global warming calculated to distract the sort of American Catholics most likely to be worried about challenges to the indissolubility of the marriage vow, and you end up splitting what had been a pretty solid opposition into lots of querulous voices arguing about lots of things at once.

Of course it might just be a coincidence: things in the Church are seldom so well organised.  I'll be saying that the election of Bergoglio owed a lot to a carefully thought out campaign next!

23 December 2015

The Cretinous Doctor

As ever, the Cigoña blog got it right here.  Whether Bishop Sanchez Sorondo should be described as a cretin, whether his comments should be described as rubbish, whether he is more of an imbecile than Fisichella, are questions of vocabulary and register, but the sentiment is right.

The Bishop is Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, so might be presumed to know a thing or two.  He especially might be expected to know a thing or two about global warming, and, as a fellow Argentine might have had a chat with the Pope before the latter made his recent comments about the sky falling in man-made global warming in Laudato Sii.  This isn't my argument.  What is, is the amazing comment he made, to a critic who said that the Pope's opinion was purely personal, and that the Church could not have a distinct point of view:

"Once the Pope has taken a position, it becomes part of the Magisterium of the Church, whether we like it or not. It is part of the Magisterium just as the fact that abortion is a grave sin is part of the Magisterium."

How very wrong this is: Steinbeck says somewhere something like: "you have to be very clever to be that stupid".  What happens when the Pope decides that diesel cars put far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than petrol ones: does that become part of the Magisterium? Does my Mondeo Estate become a mortal sin?

One effect of this very Latin American papacy is that the sort of carefully described and nuanced differences between the value and importance of papal statements has been thrown away, to be replaced by a sense in which they are simply what the Boss said, and therefore to be enforced by his enforcers. 

Either the Pope knows this sort of thing is going on and doesn't care, which would be scandalous; or he doesn't know, which would be scandalous.

God Help Rome, and all of us.

19 December 2015

BBC Nearly Manages A Catholic Message - But Along Comes Clifford Longley

One of the reasons there was such a lot of news about the Pope's acceptance of the second miracle meaning that Mother Teresa can be canonised next year is that so many people, including BBC presenters and executives, remember who she was: a tiny little Albanian nun who did really good work in India.  They might not remember anything religious about her, but she was somebody good.  The fact that she was attacked by a Hitchens, probably translated as a plus: he was attacking her because of her religion, but that shone a highlight on how good her religion had made her.

Now this is a load of tosh, but a tosh that opened a tiny gap for a sensible discussion on what being a Saint mans, and what a miracle is.  So yesterday evening The World Tonight had a piece (available here) about 30 minutes in, in which a Humanist lady debated what it meant to be a Saint with a Catholic author and broadcaster: except it was Clifford Longley.

He believes that miracles are out of date, a part of the Church that it has to leave behind, as belief in them makes the Church look mediaeval and superstitious: the Church is moving in another direction and miracles are not crucial.  The fact that Mother Teresa was so far beyond the average do-gooder is what makes her a saint.

Do listen while you still can: surely the Catholic Communications Network, the media arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, will already have been on to the BBC demanding that they take down such an outrageous false statement of Catholic belief, and will be warning all print and broadcast media that Clifford Longley is not authorised to speak for the Catholic Church.

They won't of course, and it hasn't hard to imagine that Longley's beliefs are shared by more than one of the denizens of Eccleston Square: a real shame when, for once, the Church had the opportunity to talk to a receptive audience about the supernatural in our religion, but allowed somebody who appears not to believe in the supernatural to represent her views.

17 December 2015

The Incarnation: Islam And Arianism

Jonathan Miller, I think, once spoke as an atheist about the power, the richness, of the metaphor of a God who enters His own creation to experience it as one of the created.  It is, of course, much more than a metaphor for us, but understanding how powerful a metaphor God-made-man might be to an atheist should help us understand a primary difference between those who believe in the Incarnation and those who don't.

A God who has never been Man is impossibly distant from us. He is everything we believe the omnipotent Deity to be, but infinitely remote.  The Creator-created relationship is akin to that of us making an animated plasticene model: the created has no existence except that the will and whim of the Creator has desired it and the created has no means of influencing the Creator. Submission to the will of the Creator becomes proper religion, and acceptance of the Creator's inscrutable will becomes the only response to whatever the world throws at the created.

This may well sound like Islam, but it is also Arianism, the heretical version of Christianity which seems to have so influenced Mohammed. All of Christianity might have ended up like this, were it not for the fact that the gates of Hell will never prevail against God's Church.

The cosmological impact of God becoming part of His creation must have been something like the Big Bang, but it was at Christ's death, not His birth, that the dead were raised and the veil of the Temple was rent.  When Christ was born, it was in an inn, and the only people who realised were shepherds and foreigners. There was a chosen people before, but now all of Humanity was let in on the secret. 

There are still Arians: Jehovah's Witnesses for example.  Arianism also allows other fanciful beliefs to propagate: that of particular human prophets sent as messengers of God: Joseph Smith, for example, who founded Mormonism. (And what about people, clerics even, who believe that they can change the Church's teachings?)

It isn't hard to see Islam in this context: a misunderstanding of the nature of God leading to a catastrophically poor misunderstanding of the relationship between God and His creation.  If God was Man, the distance between Creator and created disappears; if God was Man, we can appeal to Him in his Omnipotence as an equal; if God was Man, we can want what He wants, and He can understand how and why our wants have been perverted from what they should be, and He can nudge us back towards his path.  If God was Man, we can relate to Him, and He can relate to us; and that means that we can have a dialogue: not a dialogue of equals, because God-made-man is still God, but a dialogue, because God-made-man is man.

That link, and the existence of the Church God-made-man founded when he physically left us, is what makes our religion so different.  We can touch God because he gave Himself to us. He will forgive us when we confess our failings because He understands us as individuals.  He is in all of us and our reward, if we merit it, will not be simply to have the best of what is human, but to become part of what He is.