Monday, August 31, 2009

Blood Money

This has appeared at Life Site News and Hermeneutic of Continuity. I want to support this film so I'm embedding the trailer.

Back again

Have been away from an internet connection. This photo taken just now from the hotel bedroom will perhaps reveal my location at the present time. There is free wifi so hopefully I'll find some time to report on my stay in Marquette.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bishop Hopes puts The Tablet in its place

Bishop Hopes, one of the auxiliaries of Westminster, has written a letter published in this weekend's Tablet and responding to the recent editorial entitled "The Old Rite put in its place". In his letter he echoes the Archbishop of Westminster's
gratitude to those priests who have given up their time to respond to a need in the Church today

by giving of their time to learn the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite. He says that Archbishop Nichols
is not “seeking to nip potential schism in the bud” or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is “necessarily marginal”.

I'm sure many will be reassured by this letter which I reproduce in full here:

I am writing with regard to your leader “The old rite put in its place” (8 August). In his message welcoming priests to the training conference provided by the Diocese of Westminster in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society, Archbishop Nichols expresses his gratitude to those priests who have given up their time to respond to a need in the Church today.

By providing this conference for priests wishing to learn the extraordinary rite, the Diocese of Westminster is not only affirming the import ance of the worthy celebration of the liturgy and the proper attention that priests should pay to good celebration but also reminding us that the diocesan bishop is the moderator, promoter and guardian of the whole of the diocese’s liturgical life. He is not “seeking to nip potential schism in the bud” or suggesting that the place of the Tridentine Rite is “necessarily marginal”.

Just as Pope Benedict pointed out in the letter he sent to the Church’s bishops to accompany “Summorum Pontificum”, so the archbishop notes the relationship between the ordinary and the extraordinary forms. Above all he emphasises the importance of the Mass as the “source and expression of the unity of the Church”. In this Year for Priests, Archbishop Vincent recognises the responsibility priests face whatever the form the liturgy takes – the active participation of all. This is an idea, common to papal teaching on the liturgy from the beginning of the twentieth century. This “active participation” has always been understood to be internal and external. To reduce participation to solely external signs is both a simplification and a misguided attack in the “culture wars” you seek to avoid.

(Bishop) Alan Hopes
Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, London SW1

More bumper stickers

You won't be surprised to learn that the owner of this car parked in the church car park this morning and I got along. The BJAMS sticker refers to the Bishop Marshall school I referred to earlier and the ribbon, in case you can't read it, says 'Pray for Priests'.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tablet, Purity and Complementarity

Following my previous post and that of other priests concerning The Tablet's editorial on Archbishop Nichols, I have received the following from Father Gregory Charnock, a priest from South Africa whom I had the great pleasure of meeting at the Latin Mass Society Merton College Conference last year. We have kept up an email and telephone correspondence since then. He works in a very challenging parish and I would ask you for your prayers for him and his parish. He has introduced the extraordinary form to his people. Because of poor internet connection, I presume he was unable to put the following as a comment to the post and so he sent it as an email. Here are his comments which I fully endorse.
In view of the wide circulation being given to the Tablet editorial of 8/8/09 and your competent responses, please permit the following additional observation.

In opposing the constant teaching of the Church against artificial contraception, as set forth in Humanae Vitae, the Tablet is no doubt guilty of misleading many of its readers into believing that purity and chastity are somehow no longer the manly, Christian and Catholic values they were universally held to be by all Christians until that Lambeth Conference of +- 1931 left this open to "personal conscience", an unfortunate decision quickly contradicted by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

The consequent loss of "respect for the woman" and consideration of her as "a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment" which is now very widespread, were prophesied by Pope Paul VI in paragraph 17 of Humanae Vitae, along with the increase of immorality,and imposition by governments of "solutions" such as we now see in the horrors of the one child policy in China with forced abortions.

The harm done to countless women by the culture of death, by chemical and other contraceptives, as well as by abortion, all fruit of the same rotten tree, amounts to a program of misogynism on the most massive scale ever in human history. The increased unhappiness resulting from divorce is another result.

No, the illusionary "freedom" from restraint offered to men by the (il)liberals of the Tablet is a misogynism which has left us to face the distorted feminism of broken women suffering the consquences of the arrogance of those who still claim to know better (2 Timothy 4:3).

These same people now seek to impose their errors regarding purity and complementarity on the Church, making her very sanctuaries and altars places where this confusion can be exhibited.

The Church does not like sex. She loves it, therefore surrounding it with reverence for the Creator's loving design (one could say procreation not recreation). Similarly, the Church loves women, with reverence and the deepest respect for their unique and complementary roles.

Poland: the Assumption and the Benedictine liturgical reform

Here's a picture supplied to me by my Polish supply priest, Father Piotr Kaczmarek, who is looking after the parish while I am away.

He writes that there is an old tradition on the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, that people bring fruits of the work of their hands to the church for a blessing. It reminds one of the blessing of food at Easter.

But Fr Piotr also wanted me to see the new crucifix and candles in his parish church. I couldn't help noticing the clearly 'Benedictine' arrangement.

Rose tinted glasses?

Fr Ben has often suggested that we Brits, particularly clergy, might have a rather rose-tinted view of things here in the US. Perhaps there is some justification for this.

On my second day here I was taken out to meet a wonderful family for supper. Ed's a dentist, Sue's a doctor, they have four sons all practising the faith. Two of them studied at the Franciscan University at Steubenville, Ohio, renowned for its fidelity to the Catholic faith. Perhaps its most famous professor is Scott Hahn, the well-known convert from Presbyterianism to the Catholic faith. One of their sons is currently studying there and there is one son left to go.

They live a simple lifestyle. Not surprisingly TV does not play a huge part in their lives. EWTN is one of the channels they watch more frequently. They have a house on the shores of Lake Elmore which is open to all, and we met an English couple, not catholic, whom they have befriended and who want to live permanently in the US.

Sue can no longer practise the branch of medicine - obstetrics and gynecology - she was trained to do. Neither can she work in general practice because of her objection to referring for abortion and family planning. She recounted how, twice, the contract that had been signed was ripped up when her employers realised that she was Catholic and that she would not get involved in these areas.

To meet someone who has lived her faith and stuck to her principles and been prepared to make such sacrifices in the face of clearly unjust discrimination was a great privilege for me. Although I know several Catholic doctors and other medical practitioners in the UK who have been faithful to the natural moral law, far more compromise. (Earlier this year I 'lost' a couple of parishioners when I said that it was not acceptable for a Catholic pharmacist to be involved in dispensing the morning-after pill and other anti-life/anti-conception pharmaceuticals.)

Sue is involved in medical care of a sort, but not that which she would love to practise.

Another thing this valiant couple have done is to get a school started in the area. They were so concerned at the education being given to their children in the state schools that they started the Bishop Marshall School. Apparently it's a lovely school, open to non-catholics too, but where the faith is taught in its integrity.

So you see, my spectacles have, if anything, become even more rose-tinted. Perhaps you would pray for Susan, Ed and their family that they will continue to be a beacon of faith, hope and love here in Vermont.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saint Hyacinth

This morning I took the opportunity of celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form here at Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe. Father Ben says it's the first time the ef has been celebrated here since the liturgical reforms. The church was built in 1948. As is often the case, one discovers 'new' saints in the old calendar. So a happy feast of St Hyacinth, particularly to any Polish readers I may have.

My St Andrew's Daily Missal tells us:
St Hyacinth, called the apostle of the North, was born in 1158 at the castle of Kamin, near Breslau. Having gone to Rome, he was received there into the Order of Friar Preachers by its founder, St Dominic, in the church of St Sabina. At the age of 33, he was made superior of the mission which this saint sent in Poland. St Hyacinth then went over to Austria, Poland, Denmark, Scotland and Livonia, everywhere preaching the word of God, which his numerous miracles confirmed. He died on the feast of the Assumption in 1257.

You can find out more at New Advent here.

The whole earth is full of the Lord's glory

These words from yesterday's Office of Readings from Is 6 struck a chord yesterday morning:

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.

Here are a few photos I took walking along a disused railway line around Morrisville (not known as a tourist destination), VT, yesterday, which seem to illustrate the point.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"The Virgin Mary can test everyone's assumptions"

I rarely buy a newspaper, principally because I never sit down to read one. But I picked up a free copy of The Times before boarding my flight to New York at Heathrow airport yesterday. And I was glad I did.

Catherine Fox, a novelist brought up in the Baptist Tradition, wrote a very appropriate piece on Our Lady to coincide with the feast of the Assumption. She writes:
My understanding of Mary is more instinctive and visceral, coming through the experience of motherhood. My first brush with it came the Christmas after my first son was born. He was premature, and at four months old, still tiny. As the choir sang “Hush, do not wake the infant king. Soon will come sorrow with the morning, soon will come bitter grief and weeping: sing lullaby”, I found myself crying. Tears splashed on his head as I realised that for all the ferocity of maternal love, I could not protect him from bitter grief and weeping. Later, as he and then his younger brother were growing up, I could no longer bear the Passion narratives, and showed my sons up on the Good Friday March of Witness, weeping when the Gospel accounts, dulled by childhood familiarity, sprang hideously to life. Mary, at the foot of the Cross. How could she stand there? How could she stand anywhere else?

You can read it here. Why not leave a comment.

Blessed Sacrament Church, Stowe, VT

After a pretty flawless journey yesterday, here I am with Father Benedict, the very pro-Pope-of-the-same-name pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church here in Stowe.

Last night we went to an Italian restaurant owned by some parishioners so a plug is in order: Trattoria la festa. It was lovely to see a packed Italian restaurant with a great atmosphere and such friendly hosts who were delighted to have their parish priest and his friend.

Here's the church set up for Mass (very few people in the photo, but by the time Mass started it was standing room only, with lots of holidaymakers - sorry, vacationers - in attendance):

Here it's 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time rather than Assumption which was transferred to today in England & Wales. Here the feast was kept on 15th but the obligation is lifted when it falls on a Saturday.

So Father Ben had the opportunity to preach again on the Eucharist, and did so with great eloquence and fervour. He called to mind the reply of Billy Graham who, when asked what he would do if Jesus appeared before him now, replied that he would fall to his knees and worship. And so we should avoid all over-familiarity with the Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, to which the parish here in Stowe is dedicated.

The Church is built on the site of a farm where the companion of Blessed Damien of Molakai (to be canonised this October), Ira Dutton who became Brother Joseph, was born. The outside of the church is decorated with frescoes commemorating the missionary work of these two holy men in Molakai, Hawaii. Here you can see depictions of the Holy Mass and hearing confessions.

Finally, here's the presbytery. In America, patriotism is seen as a good thing. So the flag flies proudly.

More later...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Google ranking

I'm pleased that a Google search on caritas in veritate now lists me 8th on the first page. Will it go higher?

Possible Blogging Interlude

No sooner have I started a new blog than my postings will become rather intermittent.

Today I am off to help with an Altar Servers Summertime (2006 group pictured above) at Woldingham School in Surrey until Friday, and then I am off on holiday. Amongst those I am looking forward to visit is the one who describes me as 'notorious' or 'infamous' depending on the state of what I hope is only a wicked sense of humour. In spite of such comments I shall bring him a supply of Marmite which he seems desperate for.

I hope to blog occasionally while I am away if anything interesting happens or occurs to me.

Father Piotr (Peter) Kaczmarek (pictured right below) is in the parish and supplying for me while I am away.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Baptism today

Today we had the joy of celebrating the Baptism of Anthony Trevor Young Han Leney. According to the parents' and grandparents wishes it was celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form. My supply priest Fr Piotr took a few photos during the ceremony and I have put them into a video.

Congratulations to the parents, Timothy and Jeoung-Hwa who live in Korea. Anthony's grandparents Trevor and Shirley attend the extraordinary form Masses here at St Simon's and were godparents.

On the last 26th July, feast of Ss Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary, grandparents of Jesus, Pope Benedict referred to the important role that grandparents play in family life. He said that the liturgical commemoration of Ss Joachim and Anne
invites us to pray for grandparents, who, in the family, are the depositories and often witnesses of teh fundamental values of life. The educational task of grandparents is always very important, and it becomes even more so when, for various reasons, the parents are unable to provide their children with an adequate presence while they are growing up. I entrust to the protection of St Anne and St Joachim all the grandparents of the world and bestow on them a special blessing. May the Virgin Mary who - according to a beautiful iconography - learned to read the Sacred Scriptures at her mother Anne's knee, help them always to nourish their faith and hope at the sources of the Word of God.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Old Rite put in its place

So runs the title of this week's editorial of The Tablet.

The editorial is a reflection on a foreword, written by Archbishop Nichols, to a booklet that will be given to priests taking part in the 24-28 August conference at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney. I do not have the article to hand but can comment on the Tablet's editorial without bringing in personal likes and dislikes, but simply applying the Church's law.

The editor begins:
One of Pope Benedict XVI’s most controversial initiatives has been his promotion of the Tridentine Rite of Mass as an alternative to the revised rite that reflects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Many things that the Church and her pastors direct are controversial simply by being controverted such as the teaching on artificial birth control contained in Pope Paul VI's encyclicalHumanae Vitae and Vatican II's Gaudium et spes. The fact of being controverted does not, however, make them any less legitimate.

The Tablet continues:
His message is unambiguous, and may not please some of those hoping to attend the conference. First, he has insisted that the training conference is officially sponsored by the Diocese of Westminster, “in conjunction with the Latin Mass Society”, thereby keeping it under his control. In church teaching and canon law, he states, bishops are responsible for the oversight of the liturgy. Many feel a bishop’s role in these matters has been undermined by Pope Benedict’s motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, which appears to allow priests to opt for the Tridentine Rite regardless of the attitude of local bishops.

Of course, the bishop is the moderator of the liturgy in his diocese, but always in accordance with the universal law of the Church. Whatever people feel, the fact is that Summorum Pontificum does indeed allow priests to celebrate the extraordinary form (which The Tablet insists on calling "the Tridentine Rite") without the permission of the bishop:
Art. 2: In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.

The Tablet:
Archbishop Nichols gives no shred of encouragement to those who want the Tridentine Rite to replace the newer version. Conference participants “will wholeheartedly celebrate the Mass in each of these forms”, he instructs them bluntly, adding: “The view that the ordinary form of the Mass, in itself, is in some way deficient finds no place here.” People who hold that view are “inexorably distancing themselves from the Church”, he says. There is no scope, in other words, for “Tridentine Rite” parishes that set themselves up in the spirit of being “more Catholic than thou”.

Well, I hope it works both ways, that those who refuse to accept the extraordinary form do not consider themselves more catholic than those who prefer the extraordinary form. I would hope that The Tablet, which prides itself on dissent from - or at least controverting upon - much of the Church's official teachings will allow thinking catholics the space to discuss the relative merits of one form of the Mass over the other. After all, the whole point of the provisions of Pope John Paul II's Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei and Pope Benedict's Summorum Pontificum was to respond to the legitimate aspirations of those who remained attached to the older usage. In the former document, Pope John Paul had already written:
(M)oreover, respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See for the use of the Roman Missal according to the typical edition of 1962.

Furthermore, Summorum Pontificum allows for the erection of personal parishes and chaplaincies exclusively dedicated to the provision of the extraordinary form:
The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.

My experience of the conference in Merton last year was that most, if not all, of the priests attending were regular parish priests whose daily celebration of the Mass was and would remain in the ordinary form. They would continue to celebrate it "wholeheartedly" even if with the benefit of the "mutual enrichment" envisioned by Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum. Also, attendees were provided with the opportunity to celebrate Mass daily in the ordinary or extraordinary form according to their preference, or indeed to concelebrate (in the ordinary form, naturally). So, in fact, both forms of the Mass were being celebrated and the form one celebrated in was not, in my experience, a cause of division or being thought of by the others as being more or less catholic.

The Tablet:
Recognising the threat of such moves, Archbishop Nichols is seeking to nip a potential schism in the bud.

Schism is a very technical word and The Tablet does its readers a great disservice in using it so imprecisely, just as it uses the term "Tridentine Rite" instead of "extraordinary form". There is no potential schism. All those attending the conference are faithful catholic priests.
His firm leadership in Westminster is one that other bishops in England and Wales – and elsewhere – will welcome. The Catholic Church does not need its own version of “culture wars”, and in his message the archbishop in effect declares a priest’s personal tastes or preferences to be irrelevant.

There would be no "wars" if all accepted peaceably the directives of the Holy Father in these matters. The priest now has a right to celebrate the extraordinary form privately whenever he wishes. Any decision to do so is bound to made on the basis of his preferences. The Tablet wants to deny priests their right in this matter.

The Tablet:
Furthermore the distinctive feature of the Tridentine Rite, and the single most pressing reason why the bishops at Vatican II wanted it reformed, was the absence of any role for the laity. They were little more than spectators of what the celebrant was doing at the altar; in practice this meant many of them concentrated on their own private devotions.

We have here a very distorted understanding by The Tablet of active participation. The faithful for whom I celebrate the extraordinary form consider themselves to be very much involved, being drawn into the mysteries they celebrate and praying in union with the priest at the altar. They should not be bullied into making responses, shaking hands etc. if they do not wish to.
Archbishop Nichols insists it is an “established principle of good liturgy” to encourage the active participation of all those taking part in the Mass, a principle needing “careful consideration and application by every celebrant”.

This can be done by instructing the faithful - priests and laity - on the true nature of the Mass so that they have a greater understanding of what is being celebrated and accomplished. In my celebrations of the extraordinary form, I have indeed exercised very "careful consideration and application" so that I may celebrate the Mass with faithfulness to the rubrics and tradition so that the people do not get Father John's Mass but the Mass of the Church.

The Tablet now goes on to make a giant deductive leap:
Implicit in this directive is the rejection of any discrimination against girls and women among those who assist at Mass, such as altar servers, readers and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. That some Tridentinist priests have banished females from the sanctuary or lectern in the name of authenticity has more than a whiff of misogyny.

How can The Tablet deduce this conclusion from the Archbishop's words? The Tablet fails to remind its readers that Vatican II directed that the stable ministries of acolytate and lectorate be restored but that the Bishops have not restored these ministries. Why? Because they are reserved to men. So there is a selective application of the directives of the Council. The council and, indeed, the Code of Canon Law, states that other lay faithful - of either sex - may, in the absence of instituted ministers, exercise these roles. But their role is supplementary, not essential. As for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, these are not necessary in any Mass. They are permitted if, in the opinion of the parish priest, the distribution of Communion would take too long, but they are not required. And in the extraordinary form, Communion is only given under one kind (although that could be reformed).

What is a "Tridentinist" priest anyway?
Thus has Archbishop Nichols neatly answered virtually every objection to the motu proprio,...

Was that the Archbishop's intention, to "neatly answer virtually every objection to the motu proprio"? Or to give practical guidelines for its implementation.
... and the Tridentine Rite can henceforth take its proper – and necessarily marginal – place in the life of the Catholic Church.

Let the people - not The Tablet - decide whether the extraordinary form (again styled "Tridentine Rite" by The Tablet") will be marginal, as Pope Benedict has given them the right to.
Indeed, he has made it accessible to those who are fully committed to Vatican II.

Just as the ordinary form Mass is accessible to those who are fully committed to Vatican II, including its teaching on artificial birth control (Gaudium et spes) and other issues one could raise such as the infallibility of the Pope and the need for religious submission of intellect and will to the ordinary magisterium of the Church.
This timely display of clear leadership from the new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales bodes well.

I'm sure it does.

Abortion and Catholics: Talks for Priests and Religious

Further to my previous post, there are also the following talks for priests and religious at

St Joseph's Hall
Brompton Oratory
Brompton Road
London SW7 2RP

11.00am Welcome Tea and Coffee
11.30am Janet Morana
Why the Catholic Church has to be Visibly Active in Ending Abortion
12.30pm Light lunch provided
1.00pm Theresa Burke
Rachel's Vineyard Apostolate and the need for the Church to make a public outreach to those hurt by abortion.
2.00pm Tea and depart.

Further information:
The Good Counsel Network
Tel: 020 7723 1740
Text: 07795 205114

Abortion and Catholics: Teaching the Truth and Helping the Wounded to Find Healing

I am happy to give publicity to this evening of Mass and talks organised by the wonderful Good Counsel Network, the Catholic pro-life group that provideds advice, information and practical support to women facing a crisis pregnancy.

Unfortunately I shall not be able to attend myself as I shall be on holiday.
Abortion and Catholics Talk

Covenant of Love

From Edmund Adamus, director of Pastoral Services in the Archdiocese of Westminster: the opportunity to join in a one hour informational conference call

Covenant of Love Marriage Ministry are now hosting a one hour informational conference call the second Monday of the month for people and parishes interested in learning more about starting a marriage ministry in their parish. If you would like to join in the next call Monday, August 10, have them contact Jeremy Rohr, Program Services Director, Covenant of Love Marriage Minsitry, + 44 1 763-463-9613, so you can get the necessary information to join in.
Covenant of Love Conference Call Invitation

Friday, August 7, 2009

Holiness is Always Now

On the occasion of the recent feast of St John Mary Vianney, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy Archbishop Mauro Piacenza has written the following letter to all priests:

Holiness is Always Now

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Upon the happy occurrence of the 150th Anniversary of the birth into Heaven of Saint John Baptist Mary Vianney (4th August 1859 – 2009), it is my pleasure to address you with renewed good wishes for the Year for Priests.

The Curé of Ars stands before us as an outstanding figure of priestly holiness, demonstrated not in the extraordinary nature of his works but in his daily fidelity to the exercise of the Ministry; he became a model and a beacon for the France of the early nineteenth century, and for the whole Church, of every time and place; he is a source and consolation for each one of us, even in the midst of various “exhaustions” which can touch our priesthood.

His total dedication is a spur to our joyful self-giving to Christ and to the brethren, so that the Ministry may always be a luminous echo of that consecration from which comes the one apostolic mandate and, in it, every pastoral fecundity.

May his love for Christ, which was the bearer of his humanity and sincere affection, be for us an encouragement to love every more deeply “our Jesus”: may His be the sight we seek in the morning, the consolation which accompanies us in the evening, the memory and the companionship of every breath we take by day. To live according to the example of St. John Mary Vianney, as lovers of the Lord, means to always maintain at a high level of missionary tension, becoming progressively but concretely living images of the Good Shepherd and of him who proclaims to the world, “behold the Lamb of God”.

May the real spiritual enrapture of the Curé of Ars during the celebration of Holy Mass be for each one of us an explicit invitation to always have a full consciousness of the great gift which has been entrusted to us: a gift which leads us to sing with St. Ambrose: “And we can all, raised to a dignity such as to consecrate the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, hope in Your Mercy!”.

May his heroic dedication to the confessional, nourishes by a real expiatory spirit and sustained by the consciousness of being called to participate in a “vicarious substitution” of the one High Priest, spur us on to rediscover the beauty and the necessity, even for us priests, of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. That sacrament is, as well we know, a place of real contemplation of the marvellous works of God in souls which He delicately captivates, guides and converts. To deprive ourselves of such a “marvellous manifestation” is an irreparable and unjustified privation for us, even more than for the Faithful, and for our ministry which is fed by the wonder which is born of every miracle of human liberty which says “yes!” to God!

Lastly, that filial love bears the moving attention of the saintly Curé of Ars to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he never hesitated to consecrate himself and his entire parish; may it prompt us, in this Year for Priests and always, to allow the “here I am” of Mary to resound in our fatherly hearts with ceaseless fidelity: her “for all” and “for ever” which constitutes the one real measure of our priestly existence.

I wish you a blessed feast of Saint John Mary Vianney.

+Mauro Piacenza
Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana

Say 'No' to assisted suicide

Sign this petition:

The Courage to proclaim the Gospel of Life: Bishop O'Donoghue experiences the Cross

One of the hardest things to bear during my time as the Bishop of Lancaster was to witness the other trustees refuse point blank to even consider the Church’s reasoned opposition to homosexuals as adoptive parents and to defiantly vote by a majority to accept government legislation, forced on us with the explicit threat of withdrawing funding.

In my disappointment and frustration at my own sense of powerlessness I looked to the Cross of Christ, and He gave me hope to go on, no matter how many defeats and set backs we have to face in this long, hard struggle.

These words are taken from an address given at the Family Life International Conference which took place in London on Saturday 9th May 2009. Reproduced with the presumed permission of the Christendom Awake website.

Latin Mass Society Training Course

The LMS are holding their annual training course for priests 24th - 28th August at All Saints Pastoral Centre, London Colney, Herts AL2 1AF. and have asked that I publicise the following Liturgical Celebrations which are open to the public:

Tuesday 25 August at 11.45 am
Feast of St Louis King and Confessor
High Mass

Wednesday 26 August at 11.45 am
Sung Mass

Thursday 27 August at 11.45 am
St Joseph Calasanctius Confessor
Sung Mass

Friday 28 August at 11.00 am
St Augustine Bishop, Confessor and Doctor
High Mass

Cantores Missae Choir will sing each day.

Location map:

Faith Summer Session 2009

I have just returned from the 37th Faith Summer Session whose theme was: Thy Kingdom Come: The Future of Religion and the Future of the World. The conference was attended by some 165 young people from all over the British Isles.

The group from Hull and the north east:

From the south-east:

The group from Scotland:



As well as the 'serious' stuff of talks, prayer and Mass, there was the usual talent show:

Joanna Bogle (aka Auntie Joanna) paid a visit when many families came on Wednesday afternoon for Bishop O'Donoghue's talk (see below) and is pictured here with Fr Roger Nesbitt.

Just as today began as a misty morning (here's a photo of Woldingham this morning)

but cleared to be a bright sunny day, so the week's talks developed into a clear vision of how the Kingdom of God is to be built in the world today.

I haven't got detailed notes of the talks but sooner or later you might be able to download them at the Faith website. The titles of the talks were:

The Kingdom of God in the world today by Canon Luiz Ruscillo
The future of the World: The meaning and purpose of creation by Fr Stephen Dingley
The disaster of sin by Fr Dylan James
"The Kingdom of God is at hand": The meaning of the first coming of Christ by Fr Roger Nesbitt
"Amen, come Lord Jesus": The church prepares for the second coming of Christ by Deacon Ross Campbell
"Thy Kingdom Come": Our part in building up the Kingdom of God

There was also a great seminar of public testimony by two wonderful young people who spoke about the example of their parents and grandparents that inspired them to pray and be faithful to the Mass and how this strengthened them when they left home for university and had to make decisions for themselves.

On Wednesday the Most Reverend Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop-emeritus of the Lancaster Diocese gave a wonderful talk on the importance Faith, Hope and Love. Bishop O'Donoghue (pictured below with Fathers David Barrat and James Clark after Mass) is the author of the renowned 'Fit for Mission' documents.

On hope, the Bishop referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church describing hope as the confident expecation of divine blessing. He referred to the heroic example of Cardinal Van Thuan who had been imprisoned for 13 years in Vietnam and yet managed to continue evangelising through sending secret messages. He kept thinking, not of himself, but "My people, my people..."

The Bishop spoke about the 'soft' totalitarianism that is emerging in this country and the USA.

On Faith, Bishop Patrick referred to Jesus' teaching in John 6. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood...." Jesus was not expressing a policy but a truth. The truth cannot change, be manipulated or spun. The Faith of Peter was in the person of Jesus. Peter trusts the Person and believes the Message.

The bishop spoke about the crisis of faith in our catholic schools. So few of the pupils at our schools practise, and the percentage decreases as one goes from primary to secondary to sixth form.

Magisterium is replaced by the pseudo-magisterium of autonomous conscience. Today, many Catholics dissent from the Church's teaching but remain in the Church. Those of Jesus' followers who did not accept his teaching had the honesty to walk away. (Jn 6:66) We must listen to the Church and follow her ways for Christ speaks through her. If we live the faith others will follow.

On Love, the Bishop said the Good News compels us to be people of love. Love is the vocation that includes all others. As the relics of St Therese will be making a tour of this land, the bishop drew on the life and teachings of this young saint in describing love as the motivating force for the apostolate. Love enable Therese to persevere through the "night of nothingness". Her devotion to the Holy Face led her to look forward to seeing Jesus face to face. Devotions such as the Rosary and visits to and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament are so important in helping us increase in love of God.

In his Fit for Mission? Church, Bishop Patrick had said how Europe is forgetting God. Many Catholics are forgetting they are Catholics. To read examples of how one forgets one is a Catholic, go to the document and find page 20. It's well worth the read.

Other posts of the Summer Session:
Hermeneutic of Continuity: here, here, here, and here (so far).
Mulier Fortis
Auntie Joanna
Bashing Secularism
Monstrous Regiment of Women

Monday, August 3, 2009

Novena to St Jean Marie Vianney Day 9: For the Desire of Heaven

O Holy Priest of Ars, your precious remains are contained in a magnificent reliquary, the donation from the priests of France. But this earthly glory is only a very pale image of the unspeakable glory which you are enjoying with God. During the time you were on earth, you used to repeat in your dejected hours, "One will rest in the other life." It is done, you are in eternal peace, and eternal happiness. I desire to follow you one day. Until then, I hear you saying to me: "You should work and fight as long as you are in the world." Teach me then to work for the salvation of my soul, to spread the good news and good example and to do good towards those around me in order that I will receive the happiness of the Elect with you. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for… (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.

O St John Vianney,
Patron of Priests,
pray for us
and for all priests!

Novena to St Jean Marie Vianney Day 8: For Exquisite Purity

O Holy Priest of Ars, a witness of your life made this magnificent praise of you: "We would have taken him for an angel in a mortal body." You so edified others: the modesty and the exquisite purity radiated from your body. With such charm and with such enthusiasm you preached to others about these beautiful virtues which you said resembled the perfume of a vineyard in bloom. Please I beg you to join your entreaties to those of Mary Immaculate and Saint Philomena in order that I guard always, as God asks me, the purity of my heart. You, who have directed so many souls towards the heights of virtue, defend me in temptations and obtain for me the strength to conquer them. Holy Priest of Ars, I have confidence in your intercession. Pray for me during this novena especially for… (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be to the Father.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Family, vocations, priesthood, sickness

A very touching film, h/t to Kate. Bitter/sweet? Sweet/bitter?

Good to be back

A post such as the following could not express better the appreciation of the laity for priest bloggers. If we can confirm such people as Kate (see her blog At home in my Father's house) in her loyalty and fidelity to the Catholic faith, it's worthwhile.

I take this opportunity of assuring Kate of my fraternal prayers for her priest-brother in the Clifton diocese.
The good news is, that Fr. John Boyle, previously blogging as 'South Ashford Priest' is back with a new blog, 'Caritas in Veritate' -has a certain ring about it, don't you think?

I am delighted that Fr. Boyle is back in the blogosphere, I missed his previous blog very much; it had been a source of inspiration, knowlege and catechesis, reaching people like me, far beyond the boundary of his parish.

When I started following the Catholic blogs, Fr. Boyle's blog was one of those that I found among the most helpful to me, as a Catholic wife and mother.

One of my brothers is a Parish priest in the Diocese of Clifton, so, I do have some understanding of just how busy the life of a parish priest is. And maintaining a blog is quite time consuming, as I have discovered myself. It seems to me that priest bloggers offer a gratuitous and ongoing act of 'caritas in veritate', for the benefit of all who are able to access the blogosphere, and what a great benefit it is.

Thank you Fathers, one and all.

Thank you, Kate!

In the few hours since I started this blog, I have had 442 visits thanks to referrals as the news has got round.

Great to be back!

I wish this was possible before

In the process of deleting my new but neglected 'South Ashford Priest' blog, I was offered the possibily of exporting it! This wasn't possible when I deleted my original 'South Ashford Priest' blog. Glad to see Blogger have introduced this.

"Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?"

I received by email subsription from the Congregation for the Clergy a letter from His Eminence Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of said Congregation, addressed to all priests. It's undated but was sent from the Congregation yesterday. The letter ends as follows:

We must not be afraid or remain subdued within our home... We will not cast the seed of the Word of God merely from the window of our parochial house, but we will go out into the open fields of our society, beginning with the poor and arriving at all levels and institutions of society. We will go to visit families, every person, above all the baptised and those who are distanced. Our people want to feel the nearness of the Church. We will do so, going out to our contemporary society with joy and enthusiasm, certain of the presence of the Lord with us on the mission, and certain that he will knock on the door of the hearts of those to whom we will announce Him.

Frankly, friends, after reading this in the presence of the Lord in the church this evening, I then sat in the confessional staring at these words. This is quite demanding. It sounds great in a letter, but it seems ever so daunting. Does the good Cardinal know how hard this is in the society he so accurately described in the opening paragraph of his letter?

The Western culture ... is a culture which is marked profoundly by a relativism which refuses any affirmation of an absolute and transcendent truth and thus which ruins the foundations of morality and which closes itself off to religion. In this way the passion for truth is lost, being relegated to the place of a “useless passion” ... Relativism, then, is accompanied by an individualistic subjectvism, which places one’s own ego at the centre of everything. In the end one cannot but arrive at a nihilism according to which there is nothing and nobody in whom there is any point in investing one’s entire life, and consequently life has no real meaning.

Isn't this so true and why we now have calls for assisted suicide to be legalised?

The Cardinal continues:

However, one must recognise that the post-modern culture which is currently dominant brings with it a truly great scientific and technological progress which fascinates the human being, especially the young. The use of this progress, unfortunately, does not always have for its principal aim the good of mankind or of individuals. It lacks an integral humanism which could give it an ultimate meaning.

This is going to need some prayer and, I would suggest, a renewal in the sense of fraternity amongst the presbyterate, the sense of a common mission.

A bit I left out above (the third '...') says:

In contrast Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Universal Logos, the Reason which enlightens and explains all that exists.

This is what we must dwell on.

I would venture to add that the accompaniment in this task of the laity would be a great moral and spiritual support. Many of us priests are on our own, and we have other demands as well as parish life. This visiting of the parish could be done fruitfully in a collaborative task of clergy and laity. I am very grateful that I have a number of parishioners who visit the sick and housebound. But outreach to the lapsed baptised and the non-evangelised is limited.

Charity in Truth for the Divorced and Remarried

Someone pretty high up in the Church recently said that the non-admission to Holy Communion of those whose lives are objectively not in full accordance with the teachings of the Church is an act of 'Charity in Truth'. An article I wrote recently on the subject was published in the March 2009 issue of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland Newsletter: Does there exist an 'internal forum' solution for the divorce and remarried? It's a bit long but you might like to read it. Would welcome comments/queries.

Komm, Jesu, Komm!

I happened to 'listen again' to the BBC Prom 17 consisting of Bach's motets. With all the depressing talk of assisted suicide going on at present, I found this conert so consoling. You can only listen to it for another two days (and then, I presume, only if you are in the UK). Must get a recording of it!

Blogs, Facebook, Texting...

Father Ray Blake has posted on Miss (or Ms) Pepinster's interview on this morning's Sunday programme.

I can sympathise with Archbishop Nicholls' concerns about virtual friendships that do not materialise into the real supportive systems that true friendships are meant to be. But even those friendships can result in great pain when 'friends' let one down.

It's interesting that Ms Pepinster should have been brought in to comment on this matter. She and her Tablet were particularly outfoxed by the world of blogs and facebook after attacking Father Finigan and the apostolate he is carrying out at Blackfen. The blogosphere, twitter, texts etc. have proved an incredily efficient way of getting news around the world in no time at all, for example in the recent demonstrations in Iran. Opinion formers have much to learn from these media.

Baptism today

A very little boy began his journey of authentic Christian development by reception of Baptism today.

We congratulate Kilda and Sinarasa Antony Brown (pictured on the extreme right and left of the picture) on the baptism of their less-than-two-month-old little son Henry, who is in the arms of his godmother next to the godfather and their son Kevin. The godparents had come over from Switzerland. The Sri Lankan people have quite a diaspora.

The Baptism took place immediately after the Mass at which the family had attended. It was also celebrated in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This seemed pastorally very beneficial. The parents had already been present at Mass and participated in a Liturgy of the Word. Also, language was a bit of an issue. Since the godparents did not speak English, to have a liturgy of the Word and homily again after Mass would have been a little arduous. The prayers are the most important thing, particularly those prayers of protection from the devil and all harm.

Henry remained absolutely calm and quiet throughout!

Charity in Truth

Having had a break from blogging under my previous blog name of South Ashford Priest, I have decided to re-enter the blogosphere. Let's see how it goes.

Why now?

Firstly: The words at the top of this blog summarise all that motivates me as a priest and as a human being. I may myself be far from a perfect example of an authentically developed person, but this project is one for a lifetime. With Pope Benedict, and Pope John Paul II before him, I am convinced that we can only know mankind by fully knowing Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. It is Jesus Christ who reveals man to himself.

Secondly: many people have expressed regret that I had pulled out of the blogosphere. They were very kind and charitable. I believe they spoke sincerely and truthfully.

Thirdly: I was at Father Finigan's happy Silver Jubilee celebrations (see here and here) last Tuesday. It was of course a wonderful celebration for the parish and by the parish. What wonderful parishioners he has. But it also brought many who communicate through the blogosphere together, those who write their own blogs or comment on blogs. It's a good community and provides great mutual support. I want to be part of that, to both receive and contribute.

So, as I said above, let's see how it goes. I place all this in the hands of Almighty God. I must use my time and talents reponsibly. There are things that others do (golf, watch tv, go to sports spectacles, theatre etc) which I either never do or hardly ever do. I trust that blogging will not take me away from other (and I stress other) pastoral duties. Should I find that it is a distraction, I'll give it up again.

As a priest, I also entrust myself to St Jean Marie Vianney, the Holy Cure of Ars in this year of the priesthood.

It will take me a while to customise the blog with a blogroll etc., particularly as I shall be away this coming week on the Faith Summer Session, the following week at the Altar Servers' Summertime, and then on holiday for a few weeks. But we'll keep in touch.


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