Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My response to an Interview with Archbishop Nichols on WYD 2011

Too true Your Grace. Thank you. It is so good to hear you say that we should 'pay attention' and 'listen very carefully' to the Holy Father, not just youth, but all of us, bishops and laity alike. Thank you particularly for restoring Friday abstinence and for your encouragement of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. May we now look forward to some more developments in England and Wales that would also be a sign that the Pope's teaching and vision for the Church are being acted upon in full earnest?. I'm thinking particularly, though not exclusively, of seminary selection procedures and the design of the curriculum in those institutions.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mons. Guido Marini - The Papal Master of Ceremonies [of Pope Benedict XVI]

A special thank you to Monsignor Guido Marini and Monsignor Konrad Krajewski for their tireless and devoted service to the Sacred Liturgy and to the Holy Father, particularly during the recent WYD.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trying to catch Benedict XVI's personality and effect in a single phrase.

During WYD some loyal Catholic journalists and bloggers have attempted to do this. Were there a prize for the best effort, it would surely have to go to Madeleine Teahan of the UK Catholic Herald who described him as a 'meek man of mighty action'. Even so it  would be just as true if the words were reordered to read, 'a mighty man of meek action'. But as Damian Thompson said on Holy Smoke, she is definitely a young writer to watch. Trying to explain Pope Benedict's success with the young, Damian also said he thought it was due to his 'grandfatherly charm' and 'spiritual message'. The young Ordinariate Deacon Bradley who sang the Gospel at the opening liturgy, described Benedict XVI as 'truly a shepherd and pastor and his very person emphasises that'. These three quotes are all true, but somehow none of them  completely encapsulates the loving humility and greatness of our present Pope. The one person whom I would have hoped to be able to do this is the frequently excellent Elizabeth Scalia,, aka The Anchoress. But she disappointed me, writing that she felt that 'our introverted little professor pope is starting to enjoy these large gatherings'. I'm sure she meant it to be affectionate and there may even have been irony here, but the effect is to diminish the Holy Father. To start with, the word introverted according to my dictionary describes the psychological condition of a person 'who is interested chiefly in his own mental processes and his standing with other people, this making him shy and unsociable'. Pope Benedict may be shy, but certainly not for the reasons that the use of that word would suggest. And he is certainly not unsociable. He is deeply concerned about the individuality of each person who is presented to him, as is constantly attested to by those fortunate enough to have experienced such close encounter with him. His 'grandfatherly charm' is not something shallow, assumed or accidental. It is part of his nature. Young people recognise how genuine this is and that he is truly a profoundly  spiritual grandfather to them all. In an age when the family is so fragile and under attack from all sides, there could not be anyone better fitted than Benedict XVI to fill this role in our times. I am convinced that is a large part of the reason why the young flock to the shelter of his arms. He may be relatively little in physical stature. But he is a humble giant in his professorship, in his teaching of the Faith. But even that pales into insignificance when you are in his presence. Whatever your age, you become conscious of being blessed and drawn into  that special something that emanates from him in almost tangible waves, almost visible beams of light. It is, I believe a gift of the Holy Spirit. Its name is love, not just any old love, but the truest, soundest love we can ever know, namely the merciful and compassionate Love of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

As the seminarian said to him when welcoming our Holy Father to Madrid Cathedral before he offered Mass there, 'May God preserve you for the good of the Church'.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WYD brings 160 million euros into Spanish capital

The figure is the estimate of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce. Has anyone noticed any reports of 'climbing down' being done by the relatively small number of protesters, to whom the media has given so much coverage?When featuring the good financial news this morning, the UK Catholic Herald could only find a report in Spanish. It ought to be a major headline across the world. Is it? If not, why not? Has Reuters sent out the news only to be ignored by the mainstream secular media? Or hasn't it? Reuters itself has behaved inaccurately and irresponsibly, reporting that there were one and a half thousand at the Vigil on Saturday! Even if one allows that this ludicrous underestimate was perhaps the result of a careless error, it is the kind that should never be made by a global news agency, which up until now has commanded unquestioning trust and respect.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Complain to the BBC about its 'coverage' of WYD in Madrid

Like Fr Blake I do not pay the fee. I don't even listen to Radio 4. I only know what the BBC is up to from reports on the Internet. Everyone who reads this blog must already be informed enough to know that the Corporation follows an anti-Christian, anti-Cathollic agenda. As Fr Blake also says, it probably won't make the slightest bit of difference, but it is our urgent duty to register a complaint. Here is the address, given to me by 'Et Expecto' in my combox this evening:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ave Maria - Tomás Luis de Victoria

In celebration of the Holy Father's meeting with Spain's young University Professors at the Escorial Monastery of Saint Laurence this morning. It certainly beat last September's Strawberry Hill gathering into a three cornered hat!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spanish economy set for gain, not pain as result of WYD

All the mainstream media reports I've read this week emphasise Spanish protests at the cost of the event. Not one has mentioned the benefit to the Spanish economy of the six-day spending presence of over a million young people in Madrid. One has the impression that Spain is boiling over with resentment against the Church and against the Pope. As in Britain before the Papal visit, the media are giving priority coverage to relatively very small groups. In spite of this it all turned out very differently. I hope observers of the British experience remember it when reading these reports about Spain.

It was therefore with great pleasure and relief that I read 'Catholic Culture' this morning. Please go there and absorb a few simple facts in order to readily counter the anti-WYD bleatings you may hear from those who are still in thrall to the once respected Reuters,  and NYT for instance. If there are people who are determined to ignore, or to place no value upon, the spiritual benefit of WYD and the Christian witness of this vast assembly of young people, then  it is their sad loss. The media also seems unwilling to highlight WYD as presenting a very different face of modern youth from the one recently shown in the UK riots. How encouraging is the faith and witness of these young people. The media may ignore them. We do not. We admire and support their efforts to secure Faith, in and for their future. It is our duty to support them in their hope.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Holy Day Restoration: Pt 2: The need for a return to the full truth and practice of the Catholic faith

In his letter to Julia Ashenden, Archbishop Nichols could only offer two argumemts in favour of moving  certain feasts, from their 'correct' liturgical days to the nearest Sundays. Both arguments are pragmatic and are presented as a solution to a perceived problem, although he does not elaborate on its roots and nature. On the surface the solution was supposed to be seen as making things easier for people as they struggled with 'the pressures of economic life' and for priests under the stress of running a parish singlehandedly.

Plainly, what the bishops really wanted to address was the falling Mass attendance on Holy Days. I mean the figures were out there and could not be hidden. I'm not convinced that the decline in attendance happened as the result of 'the pressures of economic life', if by that His Grace means the need of many people to be at work rather than getting up an hour earlier, or going to Mass on the way home from work.. It is more likely
(imho) that fewer and fewer people went to Mass on those days, because they no longer felt that it was sinful not to go. As Archbishop Nichols himself affirmed in an interview, I think with the Daily Telegraph, in 2010, 'the old language of mortal sin, for example, was a misguided attempt to motivate the faithful'. Aside from the fact that this 'old language' is still used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, even if you agree with the Archbishop, and surely if you no longer use that language then it is your duty to find another way of motivating the faithful. Has this been done? I don't see any great sign of it. I cannot remember the last time I heard sin mentioned, mortal or venial, from an English Catholic pulpit, or the last time I heard an exhortation to pray for the soul of the deceased at a Catholic funeral. (The above observation is based on long personal experience of Mass attendance in Sussex, Devon and several districts of London. It is backed by the witness of friends in those same areas and in the dioceses of Portsmouth, Birmingham, Southwark and Clifton.).  The major drive seems to have been to make people feel secure and comfortable in the faith in the hope that as a result they will flood the churches. Well no, actually they haven't. One could argue that they have just gone on being less and less rigorous with themselves, more and more self indulgent and lukewarm in faith.. Many of them, and over several generations, have never had the full faith preached to them, and many, particularly those who were part of the Anglican influx in the immediately post 1992 era, seem to have been received without full instruction. From the bishops' point of view, I think that this can be explained, to some extent by several historical, ecclesial and socio-political factors.

Fifty years ago it seemed desirable that British Catholicism should come out of the ghetto and be seen no longer as some exotic alien sect whose members had more loyalty to the Pope and Rome than to the Queen and the lands of their birth.  They and their bishops did feel the need for acceptance at 'home'. I lived through the period and I understood that motivation. Then came all the changes in Catholic practice following Vatican II, the gradual loss of Christian faith and the secularisation of Briitsh society at large. Catholic leaders increasingly went for the ecumenical option with the Church of England. ARCIC may have faltered on certain doctrinal differences but in fact the Roman church  whilst holding onto its doctrines, in practice did much which had the effect of concealing them, in the organisation and presentation of its churches and their practice. (I sometimes wonder whether that was the reason why the blatantly inaccurate translation of the Mass was accepted.)  Further, Catholics themselves have not seemed aware that Anglo-Catholics themselves split into two groups (at least). The first major group stuck with tradition and the second aligned itself with the 'spirit of Vatican II'.

If I go into most Catholic churches in England (and in France) it is like going into a low church of England - the type I left at my conversion to Catholicism. The differences then were plain to see, and most of them sprang from the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ on the altar in the tabernacle. Now those differences have largely disappeared. Our Lord has been pushed out of the way to a side chapel; there is no  lamp in the main sanctuary; no communion rail etc. etc. Many people no longer genuflect towards that side chapel as they enter the pew.  Catholic identity sank further and further below the parapet.

I am not surprised that there is a crisis of faith in the Real Presence. Constant chipping away at the externals has undermined the belief they represent.

Then the C. of E. threw in the bombshell of women's 'ordination'. What on earth was the point of ARCIC anymore?

So, returning to 2006, what did our good bishops do? Did they really address the  problem of low Mass attendance on Holy Days? Did they determine on a church-wide mission to properly catechise the faithful? Did they instruct their priests to preach the meaning and importance of these days, and that we go to Mass, first and foremost because we love it and not because it is a duty. We go, glad of an extra opportunity to adore, thank and contemplate the mysteries of our faith in God? I don't know the answer to those questions. But I know from Archbishop Nichols' letter that they appealed to Rome to dispense English and Welsh catholics from attending Mass on 3 Holy Days. They wanted to leave the days as they were and just remove the obligation. Rome wouldn't wear it as the Archbishop attests. It all seems like the line of least resistance and a misguided attempt to go along with the 'zeitgeist'. It is weak, and above all it is a negative reaction. I simply do not see how you can hope to strengthen faith whilst telling people to do less than they have always been expected to do before.

The visit of Pope Benedict does appear to have given, (at least some) bishops fresh courage, but to reintroduce Friday Abstinence will seem a rather contradictory act UNLESS the Holy Days are restored. Of course there is one difference in the two obligations. Obedience to the Friday abstinence rule cannot be monitored in the same way as can Mass attendance. Non-observance of the first will surely mean a visit to Confession. Ah, Confession! - another practice that has gradually been allowed to fall into lack of regular use
Back to that lost sense of sin which I remarked on earlier.

Before completing this post I read the August 12 'Praytell' blog on Aquinas and the sins of the blogosphere. It is considerations of this kind that make Catholic blogging most sensitive and dangerous. Indeed there are some bloggers who are probably guilty of these sins listed as follows: defamation, backbiting, detraction, tale-bearing and derision. As you know I fight not to fall into them myself, and when I have, I always feel rotten afterwards, and say so. But I think that most of us are fired by love of our Lord and of the Faith He left us and there are times when we rant in anxiety and frustration that both are being discredited and inadequately defended by those who have authority or influence in the Church. We know the Faith we were taught and thank God that it continues to shine in the teachings of our Pope. Pray for him, for all our bishops and that we may celebrate Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi on their correct days in future. And please write to your bishop begging him that these Holy Days be restored.

I leave you with a closing quote which has particular reference to Corpus Christi.
"The Pope (Urban IV) asked St Thomas Aquinas to complete the mass and Office, and in 1264 published a Bull commanding observance of the feast and its date, but he died shortly afterwards. Succeeding popes took great pains to secure celebration and the Council of Trent spoke of it as a triumph over heresy. Almost from the beginning, the custom of carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession was part of the ceremonial. The feast became popular possibly because this allowed the faithful to witness publicly to their faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and to proclaim their gratitude to God for the spiritual benefits it brought to them." (Copyright Jane Mossendew 'Crown of the Year' Continuum 2005)

This still holds true, if last September's Hyde Park Vigil is anything to go by. So please your Lordships, restore Corpus Christi as well as Epiphany and Ascension. Its resonance in the Catholic mind is equal to, if not even greater than, that of the other two feasts.
A holy and happy feast of the Assumption to all here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore

 Another interim post:

I spoke recently about musical transposition. Listen to this. (And please say a prayer for Dudley Moore.) Neither Jonathan nor Dud can explain what happens in the mind or body of a musician who is capable of doing this. I've never seen this video clip before, but about two thirds of the way through it , I realised that the facility is God-given, God-organised. Thanks be to Him.

Later, when he was in the final stages of the disease that eventually killed him, the one thing that caused Dudley Moore to suffer most was that he could no longer play the piano. (Please say another prayer for him.)  

Mission Metropolis: How the Vatican plans to strengthen the New Evangeli...

Interim post.
Part 2 of 'Holy day Restoration' to follow on Monday, DV

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Holy Day Restoration 2011, please God: Part 1

It is difficult to know what the majority of English and Welsh Catholics really felt when in 2006 their bishops reduced the list of weekdays on which they were obligated to attend Mass. This was done by moving the celebration of three of the most important Feasts of Our Lord from their proper days to the nearest Sunday, namely Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi.

The poll had a very small sample of 700 of their readers. Even so, the results showed that nearly 60% of English and Welsh Catholics disapproved of the episcopal decision. Well over 60% of respondents in Ireland and Scotland, where the days had been 'lost' several years previously, also registered disapproval. That is an interesting feature of the results because it could show that the Irish and Scots, had had time to assess the change and to register their awareness that it had had no effect on the relevant Sunday Mass attendance and/or that it had further weakened a sense of Catholic identity. Only when the responses from other parts of the world are taken into account do the figures move in the direction of approval. A straw poll conducted in the same week at the meeting of the National Conference of Priests was predictably in favour of the change. I've no doubt that readers are familiar with this body and what has happened to it since, but you can see relevant backgroud  here and here .

For full Tablet report and the results of poll see here

UK ONLINE PETITION (Mid-Aprilto Mid-May 2009)
The petition was mounted by Mrs Julia Ashenden and asks the recently installed Archbishop Nichols of Westminster to reinstate the lost Holy days of Obligation. It raised over 500 signatures and Mrs Ashenden has recently told me that she delivered the results with a letter to Archbishop's house 'somewhere around the end of May'. On June 29 she sent a copy of the Archbishop's reply to all signatories of the petition. Here is the text of his letter dated June 17th 2009, ref. B51516
"Dear Mrs Ashenden,

Thank you for your kind and gracious letter of 12 June.

Thank you for your kind wishes.

Thank you for sending me the results of your on line petition concerning the possible reinstatement of the three holy days of the Epiphany, the Ascension and Corpus Christi on their correct dates. The changes made to these three feasts were made after considerable reflection and some consultation, not least with the Holy See. the changes bring the practice in England and Wales nucg nire in line with most European countries. But that, I agree, is not a major argument.

One of the questions we explored was whether it was possible to keep the feasts on their customary days while releasing people from the obligation to attend Mass, as increasingly this is very difficultfor large numbers of people, given both the pressures of economic life and pressures on the clergy. However we were told that it was not possible to separate the feast from the obligation in a formal way.

Schools are encouraged to celebrate the mystery of faith of each of the feasts in the course of the week running up to its celebration on the Sunday and thereby they prepare the children for the Sunday celebration, indeed encouraging them to go with their families to church.

Thank you for writing to me. No doubt we Bishops will continue to reflact on these matters.

With every good wish,
Yours sincerely,

Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

Without wishing to be disrespectful, or critical of the Bishops themselsves, the letter seems to demonstrate  a negative, weak and therefore unconvincing approach to the whole matter. No really sound or forceful argument is presented in defence of the change. (More of that in the next post.)

Over a year passed and then thanks be to God we had the visit of Pope Benedict to the UK and there is now some reason to hope that he may have galvanised the bishops into considering more robust action.
In May this year the BCEW had the first of its two annual meetings. Anna Arco reported for the Catholic Herald here

The bishops are now back in their dioceses reflecting on what they should do, and how, whatever that may be, it should be in response to the pastoral need of their flocks. Their next meeting is in November.

Julia and I have agreed that there should be strong representation to their Lordships from those in favour of reinstatement, but we tend to think that another online petition may not be the answer. Rather, between now and the end of October each bishop should receive a steady stream of letters asking for reinstatement of all three Holy Days. Yes, it takes more of an effort to write a letter than it does to support an online petition, but if this matter is important to you, you will write that letter, and gladly.

In my next post (on Saturday DV) I hope to concentrate on the very positive arguments for the reinstatement of our Holy Days, particularly of Corpus Christi. I close now with a quote from my own entry for the Feast from 'Crown of the Year' (copyright Jane Mossendew 2005)

"In 1246 the bishop of Liege instituted the celebration of Corpus Christi for his diocese at the urgent request of St. Juliana , prioress of a convent on Mount Cornillon near the city. Pope Urban IV, a former archdeacon of Liege, later established it for the universal Church, probably in part because of his knowledge of Juliana, but also because of a current heresy that denied transubstantiation. Added to this the laity had been showing signs of indifference to the Blessed Sacrament and It was being neglected. "

Mmmmmm. Sounds horribly familiar..................................

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Archbishop Nichols speaks about the London riots

Thanks to Damian Thompson's 'Holy Smoke' for the link he gives to the Indpendent Catholic News site.
I am sincerely grateful that Archbishop Nichols has called Catholics to prayer. However, with all due respect I have to disagree with him that the riots and lootings  'show how easily basic principles of respect and honesty are cast aside'. No, your Grace, they have not been cast aside easily. It has taken nearly half a century of liberalism in both state education and in the Church for us to reach this pass. The erosion has been gradual but nonetheless bitingly effective. It began whilst I was being trained as a teacher at the beginning of the 1960s and I have watched it get worse and worse ever since, so that now in context of both education and faith it is thought unsuitable to mention concepts such as authority, obedience, discipline and self-control. I will not go into the role the Church has played in carrying our this destructive ideological agenda. Down that road lies the argument about Vatican II and the 'interpretation ' of its documents.

In any case it's time to do as Archbishop Nichols has asked, and for the Novena Rosary and prayer for Ireland.

Next post on Thursday DV

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Reminder: Novena for the Church in Ireland starts today

Celtic Cross at Knock

For details and text please see here at 'Protect the Pope' Please spread the word among family, friends, parishes and/or on your blog.
(Next post about Holy Days restoration coming very soon. Consultations in progress.) 

Praise to the Lord the Almighty

For the Feast of the Transfiiguration: Inspired by the Chant Cafe.

 This afternoon I enjoyed watching two clips at the Chant Cafe of Mgr Georg Ratzinger auditioning young boys for the famous Regensburg choir. First he tests their sense of pitch, and then their sense of distance between notes in a cluster .The look on the child's face when he realised that the cluster being played to him was part of a hymn tune he already knew, was something to behold.At the same time as all that, Mgr Ratzinger seemed aware that a boy was a natural first or second treble. That information was probably given to him beforehand, but I just adore someone who can transpose at the drop of a hat.

A commenter asked what the tune was.  Answer: Lobe Den Herren (Stralsund Gesangbuch 1665) Original German words by Joachim Neander (1650-1680)  English version translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-78) And so we English, thanks to Anglican patrimony, know it as 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation'. It's in the Westminster Cathedral Catholic Hymn Book,. published 1998.

Will now look for a decent English version on You Tube.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Restoration of Holy Days of Obligation: Change in Oasis posting plan

Following last night's post, and on reflection, I have decided to consult the lady who mounted the 2009 petition to Archbishop Nichols before posting again of the subject.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Tablet - Poll confirms dissent over holy day decision

The Tablet - <b>Poll confirms dissent over holy day decision</b>

Will comment on this tomorrow. Take good note of the date when the Tablet published this report and then remember that in 2009 there was an online petition, (which I signed), asking that the days be restored. This week I learn that the bishops are now seeking our opinion! Tomorrrow I will  publish the text of an emial I received from the person who started that petition, which includes a copy of the letter she received from Archbishop Nichols in response to her report to him of the petition's results. N years down the line and English and Welsh Catholics are STILL waiting for three Holy Days to be given back to them. Come on, your Lordships, you don't have to admit that you made a mistake, just do the decent thing as soon as you possibly can. Please, for Epiphany 2012..

The use of the word 'dissent' in the Tablet headline would be risible were it not so misleading. (I expect that you know by now that I always try to couch things in the mildest of possible terms!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Novena for the Church in Ireland, August 7th to 15th

Very important. see Protect the Pope for text.

I believe St. Jean Vianney has been busy today! Thank you dear Saint.

Abbe Laguerie (IBP) inaugurates new traditional foundation In Lourdes

See Gloria TV in sidebar. Good news for France; good news for the Universal Church. Of course the 'happy-clappies' will say that the congregation looks miserable. And well they might look miserably downcast after the havoc that has been wrought over the last half century. No, they are serious; they are concentrated; they are engaged and they are 'participating'! I've read repeatedly over recent years that the Lourdes  'authorities' whoever they may be, have worked against the Latin Mass and that it's difficult to find one there, in spite of 'Summorum Pontificum' Well, now we will see..

I am not one of those who thinks that it is desirable or even possible that the Church should return to exclusive use of the 'Old Mass'. But when our Holy Father tells us clearly what he thinks, then we should listen and act accordingly..Those who have attempted to make sure that Catholics are not privy to his thought should be ashamed of themselves.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Polish artist gets ready for upcoming exhibit, including works of John P...

So why did we have to have that abomination outside the Rome railway station? Is that horror still in place, does anyone know?

Irish Presidential election: Norris out; Scallon (Dana) in?

Bara Brith links to John Smeaton for this news, the Norris bit that is. I read somewhere yesterday that Dana (strong pro-life record) is 'considering her position'.

PS Delayed by electric storm and consequent comptuter break-down. Just checked. It wasn't yesterday. It was Protect the Pope on July 28. Thanks to Deacon Nick.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The pope receives the gift of music at Castel Gandolfo

The Pope in lederhosen and a be-feathered pointy green hat?

No, just 'Rome Reports' giving entirely the wrong message through faulty English grammar.

To accompany tonight's video clip of the Holy Father receiving a tribute from a group of Bavarian musicians at Castel Gandolfo:
"Dressed in typical costume, Benedict XVI received etc......................"

The group was supposed to have played Bavarian folk tunes but the sound track is of Charpentier's Te Deum.

Love 'Rome Reports'. Despair of their scriptwriters.

A prayer petition for Pope Benedict to celebrate a public EF Mass

see here The Oasis will start this prayer petition on the eve of the Assumption and conclude on Holy Cross day.
During that month it will be offered daily before the Blessed Sacrament in the church here in Saint Romain.