Sunday, 28 January 2007

Conversi ad Dominum

Fr Ray Blake has a rather encouraging post about the celebration of the Novus Ordo Missae ad orientem (facing the East). Catholics often assume (wrongly) that the Novus Ordo (New rite) can only be celebrated versus populum (facing the people). To explain this, I can offer no better answer than to look at a short pamphlet on the subject by Michael Davies. There are extracts from his book The Catholic Sanctuary and Vatican II on the Latin Mass Society website. More recently, an excellent book was written by Fr Uwe Michael Lang, entitled Turning towards the Lord. In this book, Fr Lang explains that the celebration of the Novus Ordo ad orientem is not forbidden, and that the celebration of the Mass in this orientation was in fact the norm for the early Church. In some Catholic churches, the celebration of the Novus Ordo ad orientem (for instance, the Brompton Oratory) is not unknown, but still remains an unusual practice in most Roman rite churches. Yet signs that this practice is growing appeared last year, when Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (the secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments) gave a very favourable address at the presentation of the Italian translation of the book. What is particularly encouraging however, is that a parish priest has taken the favourable decision to celebrate Mass ad orientem in his own church. Let us pray that more parish priests will be willing to do so.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Warning: Don't marry a Catholic!

I have just found a rather interesting and readable article entitled Don't marry a Catholic. This gem (written in 1952) points out the potential flaws of marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics, and is extremely relevant for people today.

Ecce sacerdos magnus

Fr Tim Finigan has a rather helpful post on how to greet a Bishop. This may be helpful when on Thursday the 22nd of February, Bishop Alan Hopes maybe addressing young people at the Brompton Oratory. Anyone aged between 18 and 35 is welcome (you do not have to be a Catholic to attend). Stay tuned for details.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

The saintly student

Reading Antonio Gallonio's Life of St Philip Neri this morning, I came across this wonderful description of our Holy Father's life as a student, and thought I would share it with you:

"While Philip was occupied in his secular education, he did associate with his fellow students from time to time, and had long discussions and arguments with them about obscure points of natural science, but he was at the same time extraordinarily fond of being alone, and spent long periods in nightly vigil. As Saint Paul recommends, he discerned the invisible things of God through the means of visible things, and scrutinised His eternal power and divinity to the furthest extent possible for a mortal man doomed to die.
He often did the round of the Seven Churches of Rome, with no one to keep him company: these churches were the ones most distinguished for their liturgyand the indulgences granted by the Popes...Whenever an opportunity occurred to curb the irrational desires and longings of his mind, he seized upon it eagerly, striving always to gain mastery over himself. That is why he was always advising his sons to try to conquer themsleves even in the most trivial matters , if they wanted to be able to overcome in the greater struggles."

This is thought to be the earliest known life of St Philip, and is a fairly recent translation by Fr Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory (it is also the first English translation). The Life of St Philip Neri is published by Family Publications, Oxford. Warmly recommended!

The Conversion of St Paul

Praedicator veritatis, et doctor gentium in fide et veritate.

Preacher of the truth, and teacher of the gentiles in faith and truth.

I wish all readers a very happy feast of the Conversion of St Paul. Fr Zuhlsdorf has posted an excellent meditation for today's feast. Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

St Raymund

Os justi meditabur sapientam, et lingua ejus loquetur judicium; lex Dei ejus in corde ipsius.

The mouth of the just shall speak wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgement: the law of God is in his heart.

Today is the feast day of St Raymund of Pennafort (1175-1275). St Raymund was the author of a Summa on morals and conscience, for which he was given the title 'Eminent minister of the Sacrament of penance'. Whilst he died at an unusually old age for a saint, he was not unusual amongst them in knowing of when he was to leave this world, and spent the last 35 years of his life preparing for his death. St Raymund, pray for us.

Monday, 22 January 2007

One up for the Latinists!

The Bone Chapel has a rather interesting and amusing post about Haitian Catholics in the USA whom surprised a Bishop (favourably-no, apparently this is for real) by singing the Te Deum in Latin. If only more Catholics would be so willing and enthusiastic! During the so-called 'penal-days', when the Protestant authorities in England had executed a Catholic priest, the British clergy and exiles in Rome would sing a Te Deum. I doubt many Catholics these days are familiar with this glorious hymn, but it seems that gradually, things are heading in the right direction.

Address to Institut

The New Liturgical Movement has very generously posted Cardinal Arinze's address to the Institut Superieur de Liturgie. I will shortly be posting a commentary on this address, but in the meantime, let me say how refreshing I found this particular point which he made:

young people will not desire to join a band of clerics who seem uncertain of their mission, who criticize and disobey their Church and who celebrate their own "liturgies" according to their personal choices and theories.

Spot on, Eminence. Many young Catholics whom I know are not impressed by liturgical 'creativity', and are fed up with being patronised by older Catholics whom suggest they want something more 'accessible' or 'friendly'. Stay tuned for further reflections.

Over in Rome...

John Paul at Orbis Catholicus has very kindly mentioned the daily intentions for the octave of Christian unity from the Raccolta. He has also been kind enough to post a picture of some smartly dressed canons. Thank you very much!

Friday, 19 January 2007

Catholicism and masculinity

Tip of the biretta to Argent by the Tiber for linking a very good article on 'Why we need real men'. Ladies, this is not just for the gentlemen, please read it and enjoy!

News of the old rite

There is a rather concise and readable article in the US Spectator by Thomas J. Craughwell about the Holy Father's reported talks with French Bishops over allowing greater celebration of the traditional Roman rite. He points out (quite correctly) that: "He (Pope Benedict) is not going to abolish the New Mass.". If a Catholic to whom you are talking to begins to panic, then politely point out that the lifting of restrictions on the old rite does not herald a replacement of the Novus Ordo. Not by a longshot. I have met a number of such Catholics whom will avoid even a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin like the plague, and if you are to mention your interest, they often cry "Why go back to all that?" (I am not intentionally being polemical, this has happened to me). It seems that many opponents of the traditional Mass are afraid that it will replace the Novus Ordo Missae. Not in this papacy-the Holy Father may (and hopefully) end the restrictions on the traditional Rite, and pursue a 'reform of the reform', but he is very unlikely to ban the post-conciliar Ordo.
My one complaint with Craughwell's article is when he states "the traditional Mass with its traditional theology". The Catholic Church has altered the liturgy, but it cannot add or subtract from the sacred Deposit of Faith, and so the theology which formed the traditional rite should theoretically be the same as that which forms all rites of the Church. Otherwise, this is an admirably succinct and intelligent presentation of the changes to the liturgy-ideal reading for those whom are new to the situation.

Call to youth!

Just to let the young Catholics of Britain know that there will be a talk for young people on Thursday 25th November at 8PM in St Wildrid's Hall at the Brompton Oratory (follow the link at the top for details on getting there). Father Julian Large will speak on "Who or what is the Devil?". If you are able to attend, then I strongly recommend you do so, as Fr Large is a very gifted and witty speaker, and this is a wonderful opportunity to meet people. Please also try and bring some friends along. It does not matter whether they are Catholic or not, as long as they are aged between 18 and 35. Spread the word!

Thursday, 18 January 2007

St Bernardine

Against all heresies has a very interesting post on St Bernardine of Siena, another neglected and forgotten hero of the Church. Tolle legge!

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

The secretary's fashion

A story in the Telegraph today caused me wry amusement. You may have been aware of the popularity the Holy Father's secretary Don Georg Gänswein has with many Italian women, but I don't think anyone could have foreseen that Donatella Versace would be inspired by Don Georg to design a new collection for Men's fashion week in Milan. There is something oddly satisfying about this. With the rise of militant secularism and hostility towards religion in Europe, it is perhaps encouraging that a senior cleric should be so respected by one of the world's most influential fashion designers (albeit in a rather unusual way). It is also encouraging that Miss Versace says she likes "Gregorian Garb", perhaps this might encourage our clergy to revive some of their traditional outfits!

Monday, 15 January 2007

Papa Pacelli's life

Thanks to our friends at Hallowed Ground (they really are too kind to us) for linking a film about the life of the Venerable Pope Pius XII. Unfortunately, I am unable to hear it, but the images are simply unforgettable. As the delightful hymn says: "Oh Mother, I could weep for joy"!

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Cromwell the royalist?

A close friend of mine (a history student) said the other night "Oliver Cromwell was not a republican"-and he was being serious (or so he said). He argues that Cromwell did not abolish the King's office. "Perhaps not" I replied, "but that was no excuse for him to kill the King". That action can be classified as treason and the republican's dream. Now don't worry here ladies and gentlemen, the person in concern is an ardent patriot and supporter of the Royal family. Hence, I was just a little surprised when he stated this, and expressed his admiration for Cromwell. This after all, was not merely someone whom had the nerve to try the King, but also to execute him, and allow the Puritans to enforce their own distorted and miserable version of religion on the English people. Furthermore, Cromwell's behaviour in Ireland, particularly towards Catholics was that of a murderous tyrant. Cromwell may have been an excellent general, but that does not excuse his behaviour.

Saturday, 13 January 2007

The Coronation Rites

For those of you whom may be interested, the Reverend Dr Donald Gray will be giving a talk on the Coronation Rites at All Saints Church, Margaret Street in London.

More thoughts on Wilde

Following my earlier post on the Vatican's endorsement of Oscar Wilde's wit, there is a rather interesting article about his relationship with Catholicism. Thanks to Don Jim for linking this!

The Cathedral which never was

There is a rather interesting post at the New Liturgical Movement about some of the original designs for Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral. A poignant display of what might have been.

Seminary Boy

I recently finished reading John Cornwell's account of his life in a minor seminary (a college for boys whom would later be training for the priesthood). Let me say now that I wouldn't normally rush to buy a book by Cornwell (the way he unjustly smeared the reputation of the Venerable Pius XII in Hitler's Pope filled me with indignance), but was very interested in reading of what a minor seminary would have been like. Cornwell refreshingly refrains from writing a 'what an awful a Catholic childhood I had' type of book, and looks back on his years in the seminary with warmth and humour, and I dare say that many Catholics of a certain age will identify his reaction to the post-conciliar Church. Seminary Boy has a number of sad and tragic stories, but is nevertheless a satisfying and illuminating book which portrays a lost way of life.

Bishop Challoner

Tip of the biretta to our friend Joee Blogs for drawing our attention to a wonderful post on Bishop Challoner by Monsignor Langham. Thank you both for your efforts to raise the profile of a neglected and heroic prelate.

Friday, 12 January 2007

New recruits for Northern Ireland

I was reading the Times earlier today (which I don't normally, as I generally read the Telegraph), and read a rather surprising story. Apparently, a number of Polish immigrants are helping fill the 'Catholic quota' of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Whilst I am pleased that there should be more police in the British isles, I fail to understand the point of such quotas. On this I agree with Ian Paisley Jr, who pointed out (rightly in my opinion) that candidates should be selected on the basis of their skills, and not on their religious beliefs. This attitude of 'so many candidates must be X' may be well intended, but little thought seems to be given to the consequences.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Vintage prayers

Here's something unexpected! The Cornell Society has posted a fascinating post about an Ecclesiologist whom safeguards precious statues from post-conciliar iconoclasts. But wait a moment, it gets better yet! They came across prayer cards for the Second Vatican Council-who would have thought of this?

St Robert Bellarmine

I recently enjoyed a delightful CTS pamphlet about St Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), which I found in a second-hand bookshop. This little gem by Robert Gallagher S J may unfortunately be out of print now. Saint Robert is probably most known nowadays for his links to the policy of sedevacantism, which the Rev. Gallagher's book does not discuss. Instead, we learn of the saint's love for theology, his ardent defence of the Holy Catholic Church in a time of crisis, his reluctance to be made a Cardinal, his uncompromising search for truth in matters of Faith, and his remarkable sanctity. Over the last forty years or so, a number of Catholics seem unjustly embarrassed about the history of the Church, particularly during the so-called 'Counter-Reformation', which has unfortunately resulted in a lack of knowledge of Church history, and even worse, of many of the saints whom the Lord gave us at this critical time. St Robert Bellarminem, pray for us.

Sunday, 7 January 2007

Il Papa parla

Fr Zuhlsdorf has a characteristically witty post about the Holy Father telephoning the French Bishops. Ad multos annos!


A friend today showed me a rather unpleasant letter in the Catholic Times by a priest in the arch-diocese of Birmingham. He called the Oratories of Birmingham and Brompton "liturgical sideshows", and accused Catholics whom attend those churches as being part of a "ghetto". Why on earth would someone be so ill-mannered and insensitive as to use such terms of derision? Here's something for this priest to think about-the purpose of the Oratory (or of any Catholic church) is for the salvation and sanctification of souls, not as a private club for Catholics for various tendencies. Granted, there are some people whom began to attend the Oratory because they were distressed by liturgical abuses, or because they were in need of uncompromised Catholic teaching, but many of these people have benefited immensely from their 'transfers' from other churches. Before anyone even considers labelling such people as 'reactionary' or 'refugees', they should carefully consider how distressing it is for many Catholics when prayers which they have always said are dismissed as "outdated", or when worst of all, they see the Blessed Sacrament treated with disrespect and sacrilege.
Please be aware that I am not trying to start an argument here, but I get very annoyed when the Oratory is unjustly derided, and I am shocked that a member of the clergy should adopt such an attitude. Let us pray that the gift of Charity will lead us away from such situations.
There are some simply wonderful pictures at Hallowed Ground. One of my personal favourites is of a Bishop on horseback. I had originally been very excited as I thought that this was a picture of the Venerable Pius XII, but on closer inspection I found that this was not so. However, there is still a marvellous picture of Papa Pacelli. Enjoy!

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Feast of the Epiphany

Vidimus stellam ejus in Oriente, et venimus cum muneribus adorare Dominum.

We have seen His star in the East, and are come with gifts to adore the Lord

We were blessed this morning with a Missa Cantata celebrated in honour of the Epiphany. The Little Oratory (attached to the Brompton Oratory) was overflowing with the faithful who came to adore our Blessed Lord. Many thanks to Fr Patrick Doyle for celebrating this Mass, to Fr Rupert McHardy for acting as ceremoniere, as well as to the Brothers of the Little Oratory for serving, and to the choir under the direction of Mr Patrick Russill. Deo Gratias!

Emitte wishes all readers a happy and blessed Epiphany!

Friday, 5 January 2007

Wilde and the Church

The Australian has a rather interesting story about a new book of Oscar Wilde's 'wit', which has been put together by the Vatican's head of protocol, Father Leonardo Sapienza. Well ladies and gentleman, do you have any ideas on what's going on? I don't. Most people are aware that Wilde was more than competent at delivering sharp comments, yet he did not seem to set such a high value on his witticisms. In A Handful of Authors, G. K. Chesterton pointed out that Wilde "was a charlatan. I mean by a charlatan one sufficiently dignified to despise the tricks that he employs". Many people are also aware of Wilde's sexual relations with other men, and his subsequent prison sentence, but how many know of his relationship with the Catholic Church? Wilde was not received into the Church until he was on his deathbed, but he had admired Catholicism for many years, and was nearly converted at an earlier age at Brompton Oratory. Yet inspite of his affairs and delayed conversion, we should remember Chesterton's observation that "He desired all beautiful things - even God".

Mass for the New Year

Our dear friend Joee Blogs has posted some marvellous pictures of Mass at St Bede's Church, London on New Year's Eve. Many thanks to Mr Vernon Quaintance for doing an exemplary job-as he always does.

How long is your Christmas?

Doesn't it always surprise you how many shops will have their Christmas decorations before November and then remove them with incredible speed as the New Year arrives? No surprise then that after weeks of preparation, Christmas whizzes by and we wonder where the time has gone. Personally, I think that we should leave the decorations until Christmas eve, and follow the Polish custom of leaving them there until the feast of Candlemas (February 2nd), which would allow us to appreciate Christmas for longer, and then keep the new year blues at bay!

Relics galore!

Tip of the biretta to Monsignor Mark Langham (the administrator of Westminster Cathedral) for a simply fantastic post on relics which are housed in the Cathedral.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

A sight for sore eyes

Let's not beat about the bush! I have a soft spot for tasteful and splendid clerical dress. This is not a case of mere epicurism. It is highly important that priests should dress as priests and not as businessmen or artisans, for theirs is a craft and profession unlike any. Furthermore, the decline of clerical dress in the aftermath of Vatican II is hardly an improvement. So it was with delight that I found some gorgeous pictures of chasubles and birettas at Dappled things. Enjoy!

New Year's Honours and adventures

Congratulations to friend and blogger of renown Joee Blogs on his recent knighthood! If that wasn't enough excitement for the New Year, he was recently kidnapped by trendy nuns, but is now safe and sound. As Bertie Wooster would say: "You do live, don't you Joee?"

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Masses on the feast of the Epiphany

The octave of Christmas is supposed to end with the feast of Epiphany on January 6th. However, the Bishop's conference of England and Wales decided to move it to the next Sunday. Fortunately I am happy to report that there will be at least three Masses in the traditional rite at the Oratories (the old calendar cannot be changed so easily).
Many thanks to Matt Doyle for advertising Mass at the Birmingham Oratory. There will also be a sung Mass at the Oxford Oratory at 12.15PM, and a sung Mass in the Little Oratory (part of the Brompton Oratory) at 11AM.

Dante - the musical!

You really couldn't make it up! Monsignor Marco Farina - whom directs the choir of the Lateran basilica in Rome - is composing a stage version of Dante's The Divine Comedy, according to Catholic World News. Now it is not my wish to discourage Monsignor Farina, but isn't this project a little ambitious? When I read The Divine Comedy several years ago, I had to keep on looking at the notes in order to understand whom the characters in Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven were. Dante's work is a political and social satire as well as a theological meditation, hence this is going to be rather more heavy-going than Mary Poppins! And provided that the plot is unaltered-it will definitely not be affected by political correctness. On that count at least, it might be rather refreshing! Thanks to fellow blogger Argent by the Tiber for bringing this to our attention.

Monday, 1 January 2007

We Believe

At the moment, I am re-reading We Believe by the late Monsignor Alfred Newman Gilbey (RIP). This excellent and highly readable book is based on courses of instruction which Monsignor Gilbey gave to his converts to Catholicism. We Believe is published by the Saint Austin Press, London, and is available in Catholic Truth Society (CTS) bookshops. I highly recommend you invest in a copy as soon as possible!

Most amusin'

Clerical blogger Fr Tim Finigan has posted a very funny post on what will NOT happen in 2007, which you can find at The hermeneutic of continuity. Thanks very much Fr Tim! Happy New Year!

Annual High Mass

This morning, I was delighted to attend the annual High Mass in the traditional Roman rite at St James's Church in Marylebone, London. If you happen to be in London in early January, I earnestly recommend attending this celebration of the Mass of ages in an exquisite church, with fine music. Thanks to Fr Terence Phipps, the rector for celebrating this Mass.
Afterwards, there was a chance to meet some familiar faces and good friends-it happens easily when we generally head in the same direction for Mass!-and I had a rather good chat with a friend in the afternoon as we had lunch. Deo Gratias!