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.

29 November 2015

The Ordonist Entertains ...

Courtesy of Marc Puckett, I read at the New Liturgical Movement about Usuarium, an online database which catalogues over 800 liturgical books from the last thousand years or so which are available to download online and, more importantly are tagged and searchable by Use, by liturgical ceremony, by country of origin.  It is, simply, as complete a resource as anyone interested in liturgical history could possible need.

What were the prayers at the foot of the altar like in the Use of St Andrews?  How similar is a Roman Missal of the early sixteenth century to the post-Trent version?  Get an account, log in and all will be revealed.

26 November 2015

The CBCEW's Request To Reword The Good Friday Prayer For The Jews: Worse Than It Looks

If the Bishops' Conference has indeed petitioned the Vatican for a rewriting of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the Extraordinary Form, it means that all those new Bishops, who, we were told, were turning back years of Spirit of Vatican II, and were inaugurating a new period of respect for the Tradition of the Church, didn't think that a bit of Supersessionism and disrespect for Benedict XVI was problematic enough to rock the boat for. 

How much should we therefore put on them standing up for Marriage?


21 November 2015

Twenty-sixth and last Sunday after Pentecost 1863

22 SUNDAY Twenty-sixth and last after Pentecost, St Cecilia, Virgin Martyr, double. Second Prayers and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Red.  Second Vespers of St Cecilia until the little Chapter thence of St Clement, with commemorations of St Cecilia, the Sunday, and St Felicity, Martyr.

23 Monday. St Clement, Pope Martyr, double. Second prayers of St Felicity, Martyr. Red

24 Tuesday. St John of the Cross, Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Chrysogonus, Martyr. White

25 Wednesday.  St Catherine, Virgin Martyr, double. Red.

26 Thursday. St Felix of Valois, Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Peter of Alexandria, Pope Martyr. White.

27 Friday.  St Gregory Thaumaturges, Bishop Confessor, double. White. Abstinence.

28 Saturday. Vigil. Second prayers for the Dead. Third prayers Concede. Violet. [In Diocese of Beverley, St Francis of Borgia, Confessor, semidouble (transferred from 11 October). Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Vigil. Third prayers ConcedeWhite.]

We have had two Sundays filling in with readings for Sundays after Epiphany, but this is the last Sunday of the year and so the readings are, as they always are on the last Sunday of the year, of the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The Collect is "Stir up, we beseech thee", which will launch goodness knows how many Christmas Puddings; in the Epistle St Paul invites us to establish within us, here, the kingdom of God, and in the Gospel Our Lord prophesies the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world.

On Saturday we celebrate the Vigil of the feast of St Andrew as a Vigil can't be celebrated on a Sunday.  I'm pleased, though, that right at the very, very end, the Diocese of Beverley should be different, catching up with a Feast it missed through celebrating the Octave of the Patronage of the BVM, its diocesan patron. In this calendar everything adds up in the end, but it adds up at the diocesan, not the national, level.  To steal a quote (and to annoy any Falangists who care) each diocese is a unit of destiny in the Universe.

Seven years after this Sunday, the first Vatican Council would define the limits of Papal authority, never imagining for a minute that, within a generation, a successor of Peter would consign nineteen centuries of tradition into a dustbin, establishing a pattern which, during the twentieth century, would lead to the demolition of the structure of worship and its replacement with something else.  The calendar, just like the rest of the Liturgy, isn't a delicate rose, to be pruned: it is (or was, and should be) a mighty sequoia standing outside, indeed dwarfing human limitations, and lifting every man's eyes upwards (and how far upwards!) towards God. Or at least I, who am not a Pope, think so.

The last parish we shall look at is that of The Immaculate Mother and St Anselm in Whitworth, which is served by the Rev John Millward.  Masses on Sunday are at 8.30 and 10.30. Baptisms are at 2.00. Instruction is at 3.30, and Vespers at 6.30. On Holydays Masses are at 5.00 and 8.00, and there is an evening service at 7.30. Weekday Mass is at 8.00. Churching is on Mondays after Mass. On Thursdays, Rosary, Instruction and Benediction is at 7.30. Confessions are on Saturday at 3.30, and for children on Friday evening. The Holy Sacrifice is offered once a week in this Church for its benefactors.

May this parish stand as a type of all the parishes we have looked at during the last year.  Its priest will fast from midnight on Saturday until nearly 12.00 on Sunday because he says Masses for his parishioners. He offers them Vespers on Sunday so that they can join in at least part of the Office beyond Mass.  He instructs potential converts; he baptises the children of parishioners, and churches their mothers. He offers non-liturgical services, and, perhaps most importantly of all, he makes arrangements to hear their confessions, with particular emphasis on the confessions of children, and remembers the benefactors who make all of this possible by offering Mass for them every week.  Here is the outward extension of the local Church which is the Diocese, far from Rome in distance, but teaching and confirming the faithful in their religion, exactly the same religion as was taken from their forefathers four hundred years previously, and using, with a small number of variations, the calendar which had governed the life of that Church throughout the period of the great persecutions of those four centuries. God Bless all good priests, as they are blessed by those whose faith they confirm, and God Bless them for increasing the number of those who have such faith!

I will leave this series with two thoughts: first, the old calendar, the old concept of the calendar, in which the rampant sabbatarianism of the worship of Sundays in the abstract is totally missing, is a better integrated, more human, less didactic, unclericalised, popular way of linking the Church's year to the seasons and to the lives of the faithful.

The second is how much the life of the Church depends on priests in parishes, and on those in religious life who support them, rather than on Bishops, Cardinals, or Popes.  If we pray a lot, have lots of children, bring them up in the Faith, and are prepared to give them all to God if they have a call from Him that they will answer positively, we will be able to recreate a Church in England and Wales as holy and fruitful as it was in 1863.

14 November 2015

Twenty-fifth Sunday After Pentecost 1863

15 SUNDAY Twenty-fifth after Pentecost, St Gertrude, Virgin, double. Second Prayers and Last Gospel of the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. White.  Second Vespers of St Gertrude until the little Chapter thence of St Edmund, with commemorations of St Gertrude, and the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany.

16 Monday. St Edmund, Bishop Confessor, double. White.

17 Tuesday. St Hugh, Bishop Confessor, double. White. [In Diocese of Nottingham, greater double.]

18 Wednesday.  The Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts Peter and Paul, double. Creed. White.

19 Thursday. St Elizabeth, Widow, double. Second prayers of St Pontian, Pope Martyr. White.

20 Friday.  St Edmund, King Martyr, greater double. Red. Abstinence.

21 Saturday. The Presentation of the BVM, greater double. Creed. White. Preface of the BVM. Plenary Indulgence.

The Calendar is very different this week, even from the post-Pius X pre-Pius XII one.  (By the way, it's good news that the 2016 Ordo provided by Rubricarius, and which gives a flavour of the way the Church would worship if we still followed the way things were done around 1939, will be available soon.) The reason is that St Gertrude was moved in the 20th Century, as was St Albert the Great, but also because this week there are three feasts specific to England and Wales which displace their Roman date-sharers: Bishop St Edmund, St Hugh and King St Edmund.  In Portsmouth the Mass for Bishop St Edmund is different from that in the rest of England and Wales, with its Introit adapted from that of St Josaphat, the Gradual of an Abbot, its own Epistle, and a Secret and Communion from a different Mass for a Bishop and Confessor from the rest of England and Wales. It seems to have gone west during the reign of Pius XII. But how was that for localism!

King St Edmund has been kicked off the national Calendar in England and Wales in modern times, but the two Bishops stay optionally on. (In the same 2015 calendar, St Elizabeth of Hungary is described as a "married woman" rather than as a widow: what point are they trying to make? Why?)

The parish of St Mary, Beaufort House in Ham, is served by the Very Reverend James Canon Holdstock, Dean of St Thomas of Canterbury Deanery in the Diocese of Southwark. Mass on Sundays and Holydays is at 11.00 preceded by English prayers at 10.30. Vespers and Benediction are at 4.00.  Evening Devotions, Catechism and Benediction are at 7.00. On weekdays Mass is at 8.00. On Thursday, Rosary and Benediction is at 7.30 pm. Exposition on the second Sunday of Lent (40 Hours), Corpus Christi (for the day, the thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM.

This was a mission church and no longer exists: its story is told briefly here: the parish of St Thomas Aquinas is now responsible for Catholics in the area. It is a reminder of how fluid the period of Catholic expansion was. It is also the only example I have noted of pre-Mass prayers in English.

07 November 2015

Twenty-fouth Sunday After Pentecost 1863

8 SUNDAY Twenty-fourth after Pentecost, the Octave of All Saints, double. Second Prayers and Last Gospel of the fifth Sunday after Epiphany. Third prayers of the IV Holy Crowned Martyrs. White.  Second Vespers of the Octave Day until the little Chapter thence of the Dedication of the Basilica of St Saviour, with commemorations of the Octave Day, the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany and of St Theodore, Martyr. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence.]

Monday. The Dedication of the Basilica of St Saviour, double. Second prayers of St Theodore Martyr. CreedWhite.

10 Tuesday. St Andrew Avellino, Confessor, semidouble. Second prayers of St Trypho and Companions, Martyrs. Third prayers A CunctisWhite. [In Diocese of Beverley, fourth prayers for the Bishop.]

11 Wednesday.  St Martin, Bishop Confessor, double. Second prayers of St Mennas, Martyr. White.

12 Thursday. St Martin, Pope Martyr, semidouble. Second prayers A cunctis. Third prayers free. Red.

13 Friday.  St Didacus, Confessor, semidouble. Second prayers A cunctis. Third prayers free. White. Abstinence.

14 Saturday. The Translation of St Erconwald, Bishop Confessor double. White.

Only two more Sundays left.  As I said last week, the Catholic Directory is on line and if you want to have a go yourselves after my series has been completed, Advent 1863 begins on this page, and January 1864 here. Easter 2016 is on the same day as Easter 1864 as are all the other moveable feasts, so you can do what I've done for 1863/2015.

We are into the phase of balancing Epiphany Sundays against Pentecost Sundays to make sure we get all of the year's readings in, so Sunday needs a bit of work with the ribbons for the keen chap with the Missal, not that he would be a common sight at Mass in 1863.  My contemporary layman's hand missal would be useful as a preparation for Mass, but would be difficult to use during Mass itself, if you wanted to follow the bizarrely mid-twentieth century idea that you should be reading the words the priest was saying, rather than praying the Mass. And if you attended High Mass, a major feature of Catholic life which would disappear from most parish churches by the end of the century, or Sunday Vespers, which clung on a little longer than High Mass, then your Missal would be next to no use at all.  The age of literacy has been used by the Devil to tempt us into trying to understand Mass on our own terms, instead of praying it on God's.

St Erconwald was, of course, a major Bishop of London in the early Modern period.  His shrine was despoiled at the Reformation but he was honoured throughout Catholic England and Wales after the Restoration of the Hierarchy, but such cultus as he may have had had disappeared before the Second World War.

I bet Bugnini hated having the feasts of two different Martins on successive days: Pope St Martin no longer appears in the Calendar.

Even on the Sunday which marks the Octave of all Saints, the Sunday itself, and the Four Crowned Martyrs, the brothers Sts Severus, Severinus, Carpophorus and Victorinus, are remembered.  As I have mentioned before, I don't have a problem with new saints being brought in to reflect the age we live in (though I find the Roman martyrs still remembered in 1863 surprisingly relevant to the 21st Century), but wouldn't it be wonderful to have a calendar which listed them all, reducing to the simplest of feasts those which didn't speak as loudly today as in the past, but not banishing them?  That might be the way to bring all of John Paul II's creations in as well.  Go back to the original feast dates, put a sensible limit on commemorations - five should be enough, I think - and all of a sudden we can celebrate the richness of the Calendar again.

This is my sort of parish:

The Priory of the Annunciation at Woodchester, near Stroud in Gloucestershire is served by the Dominicans.  The Very Rev Fr H L Gonin is Prior; the Rev Fr Vincent Henry Ferreri is Sub-Prior and Lector; the Rev Fr Vincent King BD is Lector; and the community is completed by the Rev Frs Joseph Henry Bartlett, Raymund Palmer and Austin Mary Rooke.  Masses on Sundays and Holydays at 6.30 and 8.00. High Mass at 10.30. Catechism, Vespers and Benediction at 3.00. Compline and Rosary at 6.00. Evening Prayers, Sermon and Benediction at 7.00 (except the first Sunday of the month). Mass daily at 6.30 and 8.00. Compline with Salve and Rosary every evening at 6.00. On Thursdays, Benediction. On Fridays, Stations of the Cross. On Saturdays, Litany of the BVM. Procession of the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary on the first Sunday of every month with Sermon at 3.00. Procession of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament on the third Sunday of every month after High Mass.  There is a cemetery attached to this church.  The friars serve Woodchester Park, the Franciscan Convent of the Immaculate Conception, and the Catholic Orphanage attached to the Convent.

31 October 2015

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost 1863

1 SUNDAY Twenty-third after Pentecost, ALL SAINTS, double of the First Class with an Octave during which commemoration of the Octave and Creed. White.  Second Vespers of the feast, commemorations of the Sunday. White. After Bendicamus Domino Vespers of the Dead. Black. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence.]

Monday. All Souls. Black.

3 Tuesday. St Winifred, Virgin Martyr, double. Red. [In Diocese of Shrewsbury Double of the First Class. Plenary Indulgence.]

Wednesday.  St Charles, Bishop Confessor, double. Third prayers of Sts Vitalis and Agricola, Martyrs. White.

Thursday. Of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayers Deus qui corda. Third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White.

6 Friday.  Of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayers Deus qui corda. Third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White. Abstinence.

Saturday. Of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayers Deus qui corda. Third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White.

With the exception of one feast, displaced in one diocese, in November the calendar begins to run down like clockwork towards the end of the year, and with odd minor differences like the diocesan distribution of plenary indulgences the whole of the Church begins to face up as one to the end of its year and the beginning of Advent.  All Saints is a blinding flash of light which is extinguished at dusk as before, in white vestments, he finishes Vespers of All Saints, the priest vests in Black for Vespers of the Dead, the first Vespers of All Souls. Priests outside Spain and Portugal will not have the right to say three Masses on All Souls Day until 1915.

Octaves, too: Octaves have given us another dimension of richness this year.  In our impoverished Church we have only two, both showing what the year used to be like.  Easter's Octave obliterates its week, Christmas's crowns its. 

All Saints: this is the theme of this series, the Sanctoral taking precedence over the Temporal, as it were, until the reign of Pope Pius X just over 100 years ago. An ordinal number is nothing to celebrate: any Saint is. The Sabbatarianism implicit in raising any Sunday above any (or, 1910-1970, almost any) saint is more shocking, the more one thinks about it.  With a wave of the papal wand, Pope St Pius X abolished organic tradition and replaced it with an invented idea of what clever people assumed had been the rule at some remote point in the past, and began a century of liturgical vandalism. Remember that, the next time you want to criticise, for example, Pope Francis.

It has all gone, just as the Europe it had built would disappear utterly in 1918: destroy the Liturgy, destroy civilisation.

The Rev J B Colomb CB is the priest at St Edward the Confessor, Romford. On Sundays Holy Communion is distributed at 9.00, and High Mass with Sermon is at 11.00. Vespers, Instruction, and Benediction at 6.30. On Holydays, Mass is at 10.00, Rosary and Benediction at 4.00. On Days of Devotion and weekdays Mas is at 8.30. There are Confraternities of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of the Living Rosary.  The parish is responsible for the Romford Union Workhouse.

And here is the Rev Colomb, courtesy of the parish website, and here is a short biography of him. Pray for the repose of his soul, and ask for your prayers, if he is already in Heaven, to be applied to his successors in this parish.

℣. Eternal rest, grant unto him, O LORD,
℟. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
℣. May he rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

(For the 40-odd of you who follow this, there are just three more Sundays to go.  I bought copies of the Catholic Directory for the appropriate years before discovering that they are on line (though the online version misses out a lot of the adverts). If you want to have a go yourselves after my series has been completed, Advent 1863 begins on this page, and January 1864 here.)

24 October 2015

Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost 1863

25 SUNDAY Twenty-second after Pentecost, The Patronage of the BVM, greater double. Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Third prayers of Sts Crysanthus and Daria, Martyrs. Preface of the BVM. White. Second Vespers of the feast, commemorations of the Sunday and of St Evaristus. Plenary Indulgence. [In Diocese of Beverley, Patron of the Diocese, double of the First Class, with an octave, commemoration of which, Creed, and Preface of the BVM during the Octave. Commemoration of the Sunday only.]

26 Monday. The Purity of the BVM, greater double (transferred from 18 October). Second prayers of St Evaristus, Pope Martyr. Creed. Preface of the BVM. White.

27 Tuesday. Vigil of Sts Simon and Jude. The Translation of St John of Beverley, Bishop Confessor, double (transferred from 25 October. Commemoration and Last Gospel of the Vigil. White. [In Diocese of Beverley greater double.]

28 Wednesday.  (Feast of Devotion) Sts SIMON and JUDE, Apostles, double of the second class. Creed. Preface of the Apostles. Red. [In Diocese of St David's and Newport Second Prayers for the Bishop.]

29 Thursday. Venerable Bede, Confessor, greater double. White. Plenary Indulgence.

30 Friday.  St Francis Borgia, Confessor, semidouble (transferred from 11 October). Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers at the choice of the priest. White. Abstinence. [In Diocese of Beverley, of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayers Deus qui corda. Third prayers for the Church or the Pope. White. In Diocese of St David's and Newport Sts Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs, semidouble (transferred from 27 September). Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers at the choice of the priest. Red.]

31 SaturdayVigil. All-Hallows Eve. Second Prayers for the Dead. Third prayers Deus qui corda. Violet. FAST. [In Diocese of Beverley, of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Vigil. Third prayers Deus qui corda. White. In Diocese of St David's and Newport, St Francis Borgia, Confessor, semidouble (transferred from 11 October). Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Vigil. Third prayers Deus qui corda. White.]

The Patronage of Our Lady celebrates all those defeats of Saracens, pagans and heretics achieved by Catholic forces under Her Patronage, from Covadonga through to Belgrade.  Like the feast of Our Lady Of Victories it was originally instituted for Spain.  By 1863 the focus of the latter feast was on the Rosary, while today's feast focuses on the victories which an appeal for Our Lady's protection and guidance can achieve.

As we approach the end of the Church's year, and the end of this series showing what the pre-Pius X Calendar looked like, it is worth reflecting on how sophisticated the pre-1910 calendar was, how flexibly it could cope with the needs of the Sanctoral as well as the Dominical, and how important the local Church was, its particular celebrations taking precedence over all but the major feasts of the Universal Church.  Yet in the same way as the Sundays of Epiphany which are missed if Septuagesima comes early fill in for the Sundays after Pentecost which have no propers, so the Calendar copes with local feasts displacing universal feasts, fitting them back in even a couple of months late. 

And I have been particularly struck by the importance to the Diocese of its Principal Patron.  Apart from having to explain the concept of there being more than two (or three for 1962ists) Octaves, imagine trying to point out the punctiliousness that means that while the whole Diocese celebrates the Patronal Feast and commemorates it for a week, only the Cathedral Church and those parishes which fall within the city in which the Cathedral is situated celebrate the Octave Day similarly. We talk about lex orandi lex credendi,  forgetting that the lex orandi is a lot more than the Order of Mass.

More on all of this as I conclude my weekly offerings.

I write this while away from the Muniment Room and its bookcases, unsorted manuscripts, unindexed documents and cabinets of curiosities, so I cannot explain why the feast of St Bede should merit a Plenary Indulgence, or rather, why St Bede's should merit one while other saints whose feasts might rightly be thought to be equally significant to life in England and Wales, don't.

The parish of St Mary of the Angels in Bayswater is served by the Oblates of St Charles Borromeo. The Right Reverend Henry Edward Manning DD, Pronotary-Apostolic and Provost of Westminster is Superior. The Community comprises the Rev Frs Herbert Vaughan DD, Thomas Dillon, Thomas Macdonnell, Henry O'Callaghan, Robert Butler DD, William H Manning, Walter John Bruce Richards, Charles Denny, Henry Bayley and David C Nicols. Masses on Sunday are at 7.00, 8.00 and 9.00, with High Mass at 11.00. Vespers and Benediction at 3.30. Sermon and Benediction at 7.00pm. Mass on weekdays at 7.00, 8.00 and 9.00. The Way of the Cross is on Thursdays at 7.30pm. At 8.00pm on Wednesdays there is a Sermon and Benediction for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The intentions of members are read out after the Sermon. On Fridays the same for the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart. On all feasts of the BVM, the Apostles, and on Feasts of Devotion Benediction.  The Third Order of St Francis is established in this church and all Franciscan indulgences can be obtained in it.  It possesses also all of the indulgences associated with the Holy Basilica of St John Lateran, to which it is affiliated; and the side altars have the Indulgences of the Seven Churches of Rome.  The parish serves the hospital of St Mary's Paddington and the Paddington Workhouse.

Two future (and great) Cardinals in one community!

I can't find an online hymn for the Patronage of Mary so here's a hymn to Our Lady of Walsingham, though sung, unfortunately, as a dirge.

17 October 2015

Twenty-first Sunday After Pentecost 1863

18 SUNDAY Twenty-first after Pentecost, St LUKE the Evangelist, double of the second class. Second prayers and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Preface of the Apostles. Red. Second Vespers of the feast, commemorations of St Peter of Alcantara and of the Sunday. Plenary Indulgence for the Purity of the BVM.

19 Monday. St Peter of Alcantara, Confessor, double. White.

20 Tuesday. The Octave of St Edward, King Confessor, double. White.

21 Wednesday.  St Ursula and her Companions, Virgins Martyrs, greater double. Second prayers of St Hilarion, Abbott. Red.

22 Thursday. St John Cantius, Confessor, double. White.

23 Friday.  Our Most HOLY REDEEMER, greater double. Creed. Preface of the Cross. White. Abstinence. Plenary Indulgence.

24 Saturday. St Raphael, Archangel, greater double. CreedWhite.

Every Sunday in October is a feast of Our Lady, but the feast of her Purity is outranked by the feast of St Luke the Evangelist.  Although celebration of the feast is put back by just over a week, the Plenary Indulgence associated with the feast, and the processions and guild activities associated with it may still be celebrated today.

On 21 October we celebrate St Ursula and her Companions.  Already in 1863 the feast of St Ursula and her 11,000 Companions had been discreetly renamed, as though talking about senseless slaughter of large numbers of people were an embarrassment.

There is no feast of Christ the King yet, but the feast of Our Most Holy Redeemer is celebrated this week.

The parish of St Ninian in Wooler is served by the Rev John Carlile. Mass on Sunday is celebrated on alternate Sundays at 10.30. On Holydays Mass is at 10.00. On summer weekdays, Mass is at 8.00, and at 8.30 in winter. Catechism is at 3.00 pm followed by Baptisms at 3,30. Benediction with a sermon is at 7.00 pm. During the week, Prayers and Instruction are each evening at 7.00 pm. Confessions are attended every evening after Prayers. Stations of the Cross are on Fridays at 7.00 pm. Rosary and Litany of the BVM on Saturdays at 7.00 pm.

For the feast of the Purity of the BVM.

10 October 2015

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost 1863

11 SUNDAY Twentieth after Pentecost, The Maternity of the BVM, greater double. Commemoration and Last Gospel of the Sunday. Preface of the BVM. White. Second Vespers of the feast, commemorations of the Sunday and of St Wilfrid. Plenary Indulgence.

12 Monday. St Wilfrid, Confessor, double (transferred from 4 October). Second prayers of St Placid and Companions, Martyrs. White.

13 Tuesday. The Translation of St Edward, King Confessor, double of the second class with an Octave, during which a Commemoration. White.  Plenary Indulgence during the Octave for all benefactors of the Poor Schools Committee.

14 Wednesday.  St Callistus, Pope Martyr, double. Red.

15 Thursday. St Theresa, Virgin, double. White.

16 Friday.  Of the Octave of King St Edward, semidouble. Second prayers A Cunctis.  Third prayers at the choice of the priest. White. Abstinence.

17 Saturday. St Hedwiges, Widow, semidouble. Third prayers ConcedeWhite.

This is an English week.  The feast of St Wilfrid is only celebrated in England and Wales, and the feast of the Translation of St Edward only enjoys an Octave here, and in the absence of any other feast on Friday, the Mass will be of the Octave. The feast of St Hedwig should intrigue any children who think that an owl's name was invented by a writer.

The Rev Francis Verhagen is the Vicar of the parish of Our Lady of Light in Sclerder, Liskeard in Cornwall. He is supported by the Revs Bruno de Grave, Martin Verhagen and Amandus Mers OSF. Masses on Sunday are at 7.00 and 7.30, with High Mass and Sermon at 10.00. Catechism is at 2.30. Vespers, Sermon and Benediction is at 3.00. On weekdays there are Masses from 5.30 to 7.00. On Thursdays there is Benediction and Rosary at 5.00 pm. The feast of the Portiuncula (2 August), of St Francis (4 October), and of all the great feasts of the Order are kept with great solemnity. The Franciscan Recollect Fathers, besides giving Missions or Retreats, also receive in their Convent those of the clergy or laity who desire to make the spiritual exercises.

This parish has been blessed by the presence of evangelists from overseas in several different guises: see here. I wonder whether Martin and Francis Verhagen were brothers.  And what did Belgian Franciscans made of mid-nineteenth century Cornwall?

I'll sing a hymn to Mary, the Mother of my God. Will you?