Wednesday 29 June 2011

Form a reverent queue...

Fr Tim Finigan points out that the new CTS Mass Cards have what he calls a 'rogue instruction.'

Despite amended guidelines pointing out that a sign of reverence be made, such as bowing the head, before receiving communion, and that kneeling is an individual's right, the mass cards say:

Communicants come forward in reverent procession: they receive Holy Communion standing.

I suppose we should be grateful for the capitalisation of Holy Communion...

Regular readers will remember that I am, of course, a great fan of queuing as a sign of reverence.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Poland to vote on total abortion ban

Poland is set to vote on a total ban on abortions. The Catholic country has already reduced numbers from around 82,000 (1989) to about 500 (2008). Permissive abortion laws were the legacy of Hitler and Stalin, a murderous legacy from which the Poles, naturally, want to distance themselves.

Tellingly, they did not want us in the West to know of this massive groundswell movement, for fear that financial and diplomatic means would be employed to prevent them from breaking ranks with the 'liberal consensus' in Europe.

Pray for the success of this humane and sensible reform.

(H/t Lifesite

Monday 27 June 2011

Effect of Abortion on Abortionists

Thanks to Laurence 'Bones' for this link to an interesting and thought-provoking article by Anthony Ozimic on the impact of abortions on abortionists.

I have long thought that this is one of the unspoken tragedies of the crime and sin of abortion (and you will find an 'Adopt an Abortionist' button in my sidebar, should you wish to pray for one daily...)

Sunday 26 June 2011

Lauda Sion Salvatorem

The whole of the Corpus Christi Sequence, Lauda Sion Salvatorem, was sung at (EF) Mass at Lancaster Cathedral this morning. As it runs to nearly 7 minutes, it demonstrates that the priest, Canon Shield, and the Schola were in no hurry.

The whole atmosphere was one of praying the Mass, rather than getting through it as quickly as possible.

That was enhanced as the Cathedral is celebrating 40 hours of Exposition and Adoration, so the altar was surrounded by beautiful white flowers and candles by the score.

Canon Shield also preached on the Lauda Sion, and in particular the astonishing fact of Christ's love for us being so great.

We are truly blessed to have this Mass available to us in our Cathedral on a regular basis. It would be even better if a few more people came...

'Lord, help me win...'

On this morning's 'Sunday' programme, there was an interview with the chaplain to the English Cricket team, about a prayer written for the London Olympics. It was a fairly PC type of prayer, but the interesting part of the interview (to me at least) was when he was asked if athletes should pray to win.

He thought not. He made the reasonable point that they could pray for excellence, and for their competitors to do well (as there is no point beating them if they don't). But he felt that praying for victory was not something anyone with a mature faith should do.

I think I disagree. I think that if it is permissible to compete (and I think it is) then it is legitimate to pray for victory. For are we not to bring all our hopes and desires to our Heavenly Father?

Always remembering, of course, that to make it a Christian prayer, we conclude: 'May Thy will be done.'

The other approach risks alienating people's prayer from their real life and concerns and making it a set of pious platitudes; and likewise alienating people's real hopes and concerns from their spiritual life...

Saturday 25 June 2011

Harvington Hall

Yesterday, Anna and I went to visit Harvington Hall in Worcestershire, near Kidderminster (and fairly near Birmingham).

A fascinating Elizabethan moated manor house, it is particularly important to Catholics as a testament to our fore-fathers' commitment to their Faith.

The Pakington family, who lived there, clung to their Faith at a time when it was considered treasonous to do so. Not only that, they set the house up as a Mass centre and safe-house for Catholic Priests. Any priest found would have been executed, and anyone found hiding a priest would also have been executed.

Therefore, the Pakingtons had several priest hiding holes built ingeniously into the structure of the building, and it is these which are of course the highlight of any visit. Some are up chimneys, some under floorboards, one under a staircase (two of the stairs lift away) and the most ingenious was behind a bookcase, and then behind a pivoted beam (which could be bolted from the inside when the hole was occupied).

The house now belongs to the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and a couple of Archbishops, recognising its importance, have invested in restoring it.

It is well worth making a considerable journey to see.

We were particularly delighted to meet there, quite by chance (or Grace, I suppose in Catholic theology) our old friends Jack and Nuala Scarisbrick, the founders and mainstays of Life.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

A Future for Ushaw?

Something else I missed while in France was the news that there is a possible future for some of the Ushaw buildings that might be positive. According to the Catholic Herald, here, Durham University has suggested that it take on the main chapel, the library and some other buildings as part of its Centre for Catholic Studies.

Whilst it is a great shame (in every sense of the word) that the seminary is closing, this would be a much better future for the buildings than seemed likely even a short while ago.

Of course the real solution would be to invite one of the groups dedicated to the preservation of Catholic tradition to take it over: but I can't see the northern bishops favouring that one...

Peace and Justice in Pakistan: ACN

Aid to the Church in Need is asking supporters to make their voice heard to protect Christians and other minorities in Pakistan.

In association with the British Pakistani Christian Association, ACN is calling for a change to Pakistan's notorious Blasphemy Laws. The laws have been cited as the cause of 14 separate attacks on Christians over the last two months.

You can show your solidarity with Pakistan's faithful - and ask for peace, justice and human rights for all people of Pakistan - by signing their Petition

Aid to the Church in Need UK director Neville Kyrke-Smith will be among those handing in a petition at 10 Downing Street asking the British government to put pressure on Pakistan to amend the laws and protect the rights of religious minorities.

He said: "Please sign for freedom and protection of religious minorities... You will be helping the Christian and other communities who suffer intolerance and persecution due to the present blasphemy laws."

The more people who sign the petition, or come on the march, the louder our voices will speak out - so please do ask your friends and parishioners to get involved.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Beyond Satire: Queuing as Reverence

Catching up with my reading on return from Chartres, I came across this quoted at The Hermeneutic...

" the official CBCEW "Pastoral Guide" Celebrating the Mass which spoke about the "Communion procession" and said (with a reference to GIRM n.160):
"In England and Wales it is through this action of walking solemnly in procession that the faithful make their sign of reverence in preparation for receiving Communion." (n.209)
I hadn't seen this particular idiocy before! Who on earth are the liturgical experts who advise our bishops and foist this sort of thing on us?

Of course, queuing is widely recognised as a sign of reverence in England and Wales: we are renowned for it. We reverence the Bus Stop and the Ticket Office and the bakery and the supermarket checkout in this way. We reverence the chip shop and the cinema, the pop concert and the proms...

As Fr Finigan points out, the Vatican isn't fooled either and demands something more; and also confirms our right to receive Holy Communion kneeling.

Kneeling is of course a weak symbol compared with queuing, as we do it all the time. I regularly genuflect to the postman, the paper boy, the car park attendant, and so on.

I remember when we were being taught not to kneel by the Benedictines in the 70s, one of them explained to me that we no longer knelt to the monarch, so it was not a gesture appropriate for God either. I pointed out to him that we no longer knelt to the monarch as we no longer believe in the divine right of kings and no longer see the king or queen as God's vice-roy. (I was a horrible pupil).

But when I met the bishop of Chartres last week, I knelt and kissed his ring.

And I always kneel for communion - for somehow, despite the Benedictines' best efforts, I still believe in the Divine Right of Christ.

But, going back to the queuing business, the fact the bishops thought this even credible reinforces the point I made here a week or so back about their lack of Catholic Instincts...

Saturday 18 June 2011


Ant and I got back from Chartres just the other day.

As you may know, the Chartres Pilgrimage is a traditional annual event every Pentecost. Pilgrims assemble at 6.00 am in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and after a brief prayer in the Cathedral, set out to walk to Chartres: around 8500 of them, mainly young, mainly French, but with many other nationalities represented.

On the first day, we walk for some 15 miles, then stop for Mass in the woods and lunch, and then another 15 miles to the campsite where we spend the night.

The second day, Pentecost Sunday, is similar, with all-night adoration at the campsite for those who can't - or choose not to - sleep...

The third day, we walk the remaining 10 miles or so to Chartres, for High Mass in the Cathedral.

All the Masses are in the Extraordinary Form, and along the way, we pray rosaries (sung in Latin) and have meditations, confession, hymns and marching songs, and good old-fashioned conversation...

Those are the bare facts: what is much harder to convey is the experience: to be one of so many Catholics of so many nations, marching in honour of Our Lady, united in belief and worship (Latin is so self-evidently the way forward for the Universal [=global = Catholic] Church); to walk till it hurts and realise it is only lunchtime; to sing till your voice gives out, and realise there are five more decades to be sung; to turn over and over in your bed, and then be told (at 5.00 am) that it is time to get up; to be offered grace after grace...

This was the fourth time I have been and the fifth Ant has; we both agreed it gets ever-richer and we will be back!

You can see the photo album here.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Balance, Bias, Catholicism (BBC)

The BBC has a worldwide reputation for balanced reporting, it repeatedly assures us.

Consider the Sunday programme this morning, for example. One item was on in-breeding and genetic risk, with particular reference to the Moslem population in Bradford, where there is a cultural norm of marrying first cousins. A very careful report explained that this did increase risk of genetic disorders, but the increase was small. A study was being undertaken to look at precisely what the real evidence was. The report concluded with a brief interview with a chap from Bradford who had married his first cousin and had two children with (if memory serves) haemophilia. He stated that he was happy with his lot, would have it no other way, and would not have made a different decision even if people had informed him of the increased risk to any children of the marriage. There was no editorial comment on his interview. All very respectful...

Next up was an item no Caritas Internationalis, and the fact the Vatican had not approved the reappointment of its serving head. There were two Catholic interviewees for this item: and guess what? Both stated the Vatican had got it wrong. One attributed this at least in part to sexist prejudices, both to centralising controlling behaviour, and one to a clericalism that mistrusted lay people in important jobs (though the job has in fact gone to a lay person, as it always has for years...).

There was nobody there to put the Catholic point of view (oh, sorry, they were both Catholics, we were told - I must mean the Vatican point of view, of course...) Nobody to say why the Vatican (and indeed many lay Catholics) have lost confidence in the charitable work being done in the Church’s name and with money donated by the faithful.

Instead we were told that it was none of the Vatican’s business, and that Caritatis Internationalis was a democratic organisation, so it is up to the members who should lead it: democracy, after all, trumps Faith, Morals, and anything else.

Is it just me, or would the BBC have treated this story in a different way if it had been about any other religious group?

Or perhaps nobody from Catholic Voices was available or willing to stand up for the Church...?

Friday 3 June 2011

On Homosexuality and being 'disordered'

Over at James Preece's blog - which is always a stimulating read - there is much discussion on homosexuality and the fact that it is intrinsically disordered, but not sinful. Only homosexual acts are actually sinful. Some people find this hard to grasp, and others find it intrinsically insulting to people with homosexual tendencies.

As so often, looking in the mirror is a good way to shift the perspective. So surely what we should be explaining is that we are all intrinsically disordered in one way or another - it's called Original Sin. For many of us, part of that is in the realm of our sexuality. Any who are tempted outside of marriage, or are tempted by lust or a contraceptive mentality within marriage, are disordered. That's probably most of us... The Devil attacks our ability to love and our ability to procreate as major targets, and it seems clear that we are damaged by Original Sin in this area.

What counts is how we respond to those temptations. If we succumb to them, that's sin; if we don't, it may well be exercising heroic virtue, in response to God's grace. And that is true of homosexual and heterosexual people alike.

What doesn't help is to declare our own pet disorder to be normal and right, and try to educate others to see it in that way...