Friday 31 January 2014

It's not all right for others

There has been some controversy in the press recently about claims that huge numbers of Christians are being martyred every year.  Personally, I am not particularly interested in the numbers: the fact is that many, many Christians suffer for their Faith throughout the world. 

I have just been reading  the ACN booklet Persecuted but Never Forgotten.  It is chilling but essential reading, documenting the persecution of Christians in many countries around the world. 

It concludes with many suggestions for us (what we can and should be doing) and these words of Pope Francis':

I have a question for you, but don’t answer out loud, only in your heart. How many of you pray for Christians who are being persecuted? How many? Everyone respond in your heart. Do I pray for my brother, for my sister who is in difficulty because they confess and defend their faith? It is important to look beyond our own boundaries, to feel that we are one Church, one family in God! 

Thursday 30 January 2014

It's all right for some

So Ant has landed on her feet again. She just enquired about the possibility of going for a voyage on this ship, and the next minute, she was booked on, with a bursary paying her passage, and a promise to give her the next level of sailing qualification that she is after.

She sails from Genoa in a few days, for a ten day voyage, to Malta.

How is it that I never got to do such stuff at her age? (or any age, come to that?)

Tuesday 28 January 2014

It just gets better and better!

I have already enthused (here and here) about the wonderful Mass Propers site.

But I continue to discover further glories.  Tonight, I wanted to look at the chant for next Sunday; but next Sunday is Candlemas, so it doesn't feature in the drop-down list of Sundays (as it is always 2 Feb, and therefore, rarely a Sunday).

So I looked at the 'Custom Mass' tab (confident it would not be some dreadful modernist diy thing). But that only offered a Wedding Mass, a Mass for the Dead, a Mass for the Dedication of a Church, and a Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart.

But then I saw that for each part of the Proper (Introit etc) there was a search option. More in hope than expectation, I entered Suscepimus, and there it was: the Candlemas Introit.  And it worked for the Gradual, Alleluia, Offertory and Communion, too.

I am as happy as a pig in clover.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the wonderful Leutgeb of the Bara Brith blog who pointed this site out to me.

Getting Practical

It has been pointed out to me that I have said nothing about the really practical stuff: how to book on the Chartres Pilgrimage.

No surprises there: I am strictly an ideas man. Apart from my pedantry with regard to language, I don't do detail.

However, I realise that it might be quite helpful for those interested to know rather more than I have let slip so far. So I am delighted to be able to point you at the Website, which contains a full itinerary etc. and also the contact details for Mr & Mrs Carey, who are the organisers of the British Chapters.

At present, the site says that Registration Forms will be available shortly: so either visit the site regularly to download one once they are available, or contact the Careys to get on their email list.

For those who enjoy French, the French site is here.

Oh, and just a couple more things...

One of the things I forgot to mention in yesterday's post about the Chartres pilgrimage, is that now is also the time to start getting in shape for it.

If you are super-fit, like me, and run up the fells with your dog every morning before breakfast, this may be less of an issue.

But if not, it is worth serious thought.  The pilgrimage is not unmanageable: indeed young children (who tend to be quite fit) do it readily. But many adults, used to a more sedentary life, do struggle. We walk serious distances (albeit over very easy countryside) over the first two days: about 50 miles. It can also be very hot.

So it is worth getting a bit of walking in now, on a regular basis, and also getting your boots broken in. Whilst it is kind to the Order of Malta volunteers to make them feel useful, they do have a very busy few days treating blisters.

The other aspect, of course, is the spiritual preparation: you can start collecting prayer intentions, maybe make a novena or two; also, get others praying for you on the pilgrimage.

Notre-Dame de la Sainte-Espérance, convertissez-nous.    

Monday 27 January 2014

Go on, you know you want to...

It is that time of year when you have to start your planning, if you want to go on the Chartres Pilgrimage.

Yes, of course you want to: to read my gripping account of the last time I went, try here here here, here and here.  How could you resist?

The pilgrimage always takes place over Pentecost weekend. This year that means leaving London on Friday 6th June, walking on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (7th, 8th and 9th) and returning to London on Tuesday 10th June.  That's why you need to start planning now: book those dates in your diary, find baby-sitters, pet-sitters, book time off work, and so on.

It is a truly wonderful experience - and you will have the added bonus of meeting me in the flesh.  What further inducement do you need?

Sunday 26 January 2014

Putting the pieces together

Yesterday morning, we travelled some distance to an Extraordinary Form Mass, in the very beautiful setting of Our Lady and St Wilfrid's Church, Warwick Bridge.  It is a very small church, and very beautiful in a Victorian way: an intact Pugin design including rood screen and other beautiful details.

The Mass was a Low Mass: very quiet and prayerful. 

Perhaps it was the combination: the travel, the Saturday morning, the quiet Low Mass, and the beautiful setting, along with the fact that I have recently been musing on my Father's relationship with the liturgical changes, that made me remember with new clarity, and possibly new insight, the Saturday mornings of my early teens.

Because back then, in the 1970s, we used to travel into London on a Saturday morning, taking the tube to South Kensington. Then we would go to the Oratory, make our way to the Lady Chapel, and then push through heavy curtains into St Wilfrid's Chapel.

There, an elderly priest would say a Low Mass.

Putting the pieces together, I think that this must have been one of those 'old or sick priests who may celebrate the old rite privately,' according to the Bishops' statement here.  I think that the heavy curtain was put in place to ensure that this scandal - someone praying the Old Mass - would not be visible or audible to the Faithful in the Oratory, and also to prevent people attending this - as it was to be said privately.

I further deduce that this was (at least one instance of) my father acting on his judgement that: 'I am not obliged to 'obey' such authorities.' (see here).  Presumably, we were not meant to be there, though my memory is that quite a few people attended this private Mass on a regular basis.  It was certainly where I first learned to love the traditional Latin Mass.

I would be very interested in any light anyone else can shed on that Saturday morning Mass back in the early- to mid-1970s.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Reflecting on Cardinal Heenan

I don't know what to make of Cardinal Heenan; in truth, I don't know a great deal about him, but the fragments I do know seem to pull in odd directions.

I know most about him with regard to the changes in the Liturgy, as that is an area of particular interest. I have discussed his comments on the changes in previous posts, starting here

However, I am also aware of his correspondence with Evelyn Waugh, published as A Bitter Trial, and Waugh's feeling that Heenan had ultimately betrayed him (and implicitly himself, given his early statements about liturgical change).  

Likewise, I am aware of my own father's sense of betrayal, as conveyed in the notes from his notebook which I have previously published. These refer not only to the liturgical changes, but also to the English Hierarchy's abdication of responsibility (to put it kindly) in 1968 when Humanae Vitae was published (see here).

However, prompted by a post on Fr Ray Blake's blog on Tuesday, about Cardinal Mindszenty, I got out my (or rather, my late father's) copy of Cardinal Mindszenty's Memoirs.  

I had forgotten what a strong supporter Cardinal Heenan was of the persecuted Hungarian prelate (and this at a time when the Holy Father was trying desperately to put him out of the way, to smooth relations with the regime in Budapest).

After his departure (under false promises from the Vatican, in his view) from the American Embassy in Budapest, where he had been claiming asylum for 15 years, Cardinal Mindszenty spent some time travelling to minister to Hungarian expatriates (against the Holy Father's wishes).  That included a visit to London (1973), where he was warmly received by Cardinal Heenan.

In a sermon, Cardinal Heenan said:
While Cardinal Mindszenty remains an exile the world will not be allowed to forget that communism is inflexibly hostile to religion. To regard dialogue with Marxists as if it were a purely academic exercise is ingenuous and dangerous. We who live in liberty must not rest while men and women of any religion are persecuted. If world communism is in earnest about spreading peace let it cease from persecution. Let Hungary invite its Cardinal Primate to return home to the people for whom he is father and hero.
This was very much in opposition to the Vatican diplomatic approach at the time and will not have gone down well.  Indeed, so damaging was Mindszenty's witness (and in particular his Memoirs) deemed to be, that the following year, the Holy Father chose the 25th anniversary of the show trial of Cardinal Mindszenty to remove him, against his will, from the see of Esztergom.

But as for Cardinal Heenan, I remain intrigued.  I have his autobiography (my father's copy of course) but have yet to read it. It has just climbed several places up the list of intended reading...

In the meantime, remember both these holy Cardinals in your prayers.

Requiescant in pace.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Hoc est enim corpus meum...

Yesterday evening, on Twitter, I saw a tweet forwarded by somebody to the effect that Abortion is the Devil's sacrament: that is why the slogan of abortion, in diabolic parody of the Blessed Sacrament, is 'This is my body.'

Initially I dismissed it as a fairly superficial, slightly artificial, construction.

But it lingered in my mind, and the more I reflected on it, the more truth I thought it revealed.

If we consider what the Blessed Sacrament is, then it does become apparent that abortion, in many ways, is the diametric, and indeed diabolic, opposite.

So the Blessed Sacrament is the sacrament of Faith: abortion, of unbelief;

...and so it goes on:

Hope: despair

Love that sacrifices self for the other: sacrificing the other for love of self

Truth: lies

Life to the full: death

Communion and charity: autonomy and self-centredness.

I think the analogy is sound.

That is not to say that I think women who have abortions, or even those who provide them, are diabolic in intent; rather they have been seduced, albeit unwittingly, by the Father of Lies.

But from Satan's point of view, abortion is right at the heart of his project.  He hates fruitful love, he hates innocent life, he hates the Woman…

This is above all a spiritual battle in which we are engaged: which means it must be fought, above all, with spiritual weapons: prayer and fasting; faith, hope and charity.

Sub tuum praesidium
Sancta Dei Genetrix.
Nostras deprecationes ne despicias
in necessitatibus nostris,
sed a periculis cunctis
libera nos semper,
Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Is Sex Education Necessary - or Wise - Or Holy?...

I was reading Ofsted's comments on the excellence of Sex Education at a Catholic School today (and indeed, the school's own account of it, which is available from the same site).

By and large it sounded fairly innocuous, and indeed good in parts: 'issues such as abortion and contraception are approached fully and with confidence, reflecting Catholic teaching.' If that is true, it is very encouraging.  

It also sounded dodgy in other parts, to be honest: 'Teachers deal extremely well with sensitive and controversial issues ensuring that students feel secure and able to express their opinions and reach their own judgements.'

Is that really a Catholic education - students reaching their own judgements? I think not. 

But even if it were excellent, I still have a profound problem with teaching sex in schools. I think it intrusive, inappropriate and unnecessary - particularly when they go into things like contraception (which this school does, and I guess all others with any Sex Ed will do).  I am particularly concerned about the types of people who might think this such a good idea that they dedicate themselves to developing material and specialising in this, and the slant that might give to the approach taken.

What was it St Paul said?  Let such things not even be named among you, as becometh saints

These days, of course, we are meant to bow down in homage at the sacred cow of evidence-based teaching.  But here's a funny thing. The evidence for Sex Ed is rather unclear (to say the least).

You know how, when you tell someone not to think about a pink elephant, the one thing they have to think of is a pink elephant?  

It seems some of our well-intentioned public education campaigns fall foul of the same part of Murphy's Law.  No smoking signs, according to a team of academics from Oxford, Yale and MIT, may stimulate smoking.  Could it be that getting kids to talk about sex might just stimulate…?

Sancta Maria, mater Dei, semper virgine, ora pro nobis.

Monday 20 January 2014

Let Right Be Done!

I have just been catching up with the story of Fr. Mark Paterson, who was wrongly accused, and subsequently convicted, of sexual assault back in 2004, and has just had his conviction overturned.  The story is carried at Laodicea, with comment at Seraphic Singles, including interesting discussion in the combox there.

Here we have a very difficult problem. On the one hand, we have the undeniable fact that many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, and that of those that are reported, only a very small number result in a successful prosecution.  Clearly anything that works against improving those statistics is seriously problematic.

On the other hand, we have the undeniable fact that occasionally, false allegations of rape and sexual assault are made, and that such allegations can have a catastrophic impact on those wrongly accused, especially, though not solely, on those wrongly convicted.

To make the mix more potent still, there are possibly predispositions involved in all this that make it a tougher problem.

On the one hand, some victims' stories are not taken as seriously as they should be (for a host of societal reasons), and the fact that there are occasional false accusations may further incline people to take allegations less seriously than they should be taken; publicising such cases is therefore fraught with problems.

On the other hand, certain groups of people, once accused, may be thought to be more likely to be guilty than other groups: Catholic priests being a prime example, due to the extensive coverage of, and appropriate scandal surrounding, the small number of priests who do offend.

Surrounding all this is the whole issue of rhetoric, with phrases like 'victim-blaming' being hurled around; and the allied issue of press reporting, which prefers the sensational and salacious to the calm or nuanced, for obvious reasons.

I am delighted that Fr Paterson's name has been cleared, but I worry about a priest nearer to home who has recently been imprisoned for an alleged sexual assault several decades ago.

He pleaded his innocence to the last; his sole accuser told a different story. After all this time, it is of course harder to prove one way or the other.  Who was to be believed?  Perhaps it is because I have recently been reading To Kill A Mockingbird to Dominique that I wonder if a jury, in the current climate, was ever likely to have reached a different verdict.

My inclination is to trust the jury system: after all, I wasn't there and didn't hear the evidence. But as far as I can gather it was one man's word against another.  And as the case of Fr Paterson reminds us, our court system is not infallible.

So we are left with the predicament in general terms: how do we think and talk about these issues in ways that neither undermine the possibility of victims being taken with all due seriousness, nor undermine the possibility of defendants having a fair trial and being truly considered innocent until proven guilty? 

Likewise, we have the the predicament in particular cases: how do we have confidence in our justice system, when it is subject to such strains and stresses?

To these questions I do not know the answer.

Once more, the only counsel I can offer, beyond the practice of prudence in our discussions of such issues, is prayer and sacrifice: for those abused and for those wrongly accused.

Sancta Maria, mater purissima, ora pro nobis.

Sunday 19 January 2014

It is even cleverer than that!

I have been playing with the chant tool about which I blogged earlier, and have discovered that it is even cleverer than that!

If one wants, one can enter new texts, and a new melody, and the whole thing is automatically written out in square notes.

This one is for my friend Battlement Clare:

Tremendous Tool for Scholas

I really thought that I had blogged about this before, but cannot find the post. So either I did, but failed to tag it, or include any obviously searchable words in the body of it, or I imagined the whole thing.

Anyway, back in July, the excellent Bara Brith blog pointed me at this. It is a site where you can enter any Sunday of the year, and get chant for the Proper of the Mass for that Sunday.  Not only that, but you can choose between the full chant (as in the Graduale or Liber) or a simplified psalmtone version.

And not only that, but you can do that for each part of the Mass, and combine the lot into one .pdf.

Thus if you have a very new Schola, you might choose to sing the first few Masses purely using the psalmtones. As you progress, you might then introduce the proper (and more difficult) chant for some parts, and retain psalmtones for others.  Finally, when competence and confidence allow, you might graduate to singing the whole of the Mass to the proper chant.

This is hugely convenient, as anyone who has heretofore wrestled with the Liber and then tried to set the tough bits to psalmtones will testify - and is a much better solution (I think) than the Chants abrégés, which is the other resource sometimes used: I always find these unconvincing and unsatisfying.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Absolute and Abitofhell

In case you hadn't noticed, I am a fan of the late Monsignor Ronald Knox (there's a man who deserved an honorary title!).

His books of sermons (whether for adults or children) are all excellent, his introduction to the Faith likewise.  I haven't read his detective stories, but want to do so. He was, I think the last individual to do a complete translation of the Bible, and he had a fantastic sense of humour.

He it was who posted this advertisement in a religious periodical: Evangelical vicar, in want of a portable, second-hand font, would dispose, for the same, of a portrait, in frame, of the Bishop, elect, of Vermont.

Which should, perhaps, be better presented thus (though not for the sake of the joke in the paper):

Evangelical vicar, in want
Of a portable, second-hand font,
Would dispose, for the same,
Of a portrait, in frame,
Of the Bishop, elect, of Vermont.

He also wrote an excellent satire, Absolute and Abitofhell 'in the manner of John Dryden' on the new approach to religious belief that was leaking into the Anglican Church around the turn of the century.  It is worth reading in full (not least to remind us that there is little new under the sun - this was published in 1915) but some of my favourite lines include:

First, Adam fell; then Noah's Ark was drowned,
And Samson under close inspection bound;
For Daniel's Blood the Critick Lions roar'd, 
And trembling Hands threw Jonah overboard.

Lux Mundi came, and here we found indeed 
A Maximum and Minimum of Creed:
But still the Criticks, bent on Matthew's Fall, 

And setting Peter by the Ears with Paul, 
Brought unaccustom'd Doctrines oversea 
Suggesting rather, Caeli Tenebrae

You get the idea; and so it goes on, questioning the wisdom of those who:

Eschewing Luke, John, Matthew, and the rest
Read Mark, but could not inwardly digest. 

But my absolute favourite couplet is: 

When suave Politeness, tempering bigot Zeal, 
Corrected, "I believe," to "One does feel." 

As I say, a man of genius and wit: we could do with a few like him now.

Requiescat in pace.

Inspired by cheap music

I have made no secret of my poor taste in music (here for example, and passim), yet even I hesitate to admit to liking a Billy Joel album.

In mitigation, I plead that it was given me as a parting present by a French exchange guest (who was doubtless fed up with my poor taste in music and thought he should introduce me to something…. better…).  It was The Stranger, and I listened to it a few times; and as so often with cheap music, the associations of that period in my life mean that I continue to like it (my fondness for Abba springs from the same period - but I digress.)  I further plead that what I've heard of his subsequent music has not appealed to me at all.

The reason for mentioning Billy Joel now is that one song, Only The Good Die Young, (an adolescent attack on Catholicism, as it happens) contains a telling line: I know they never cared for me,// but did they ever say a prayer for me? That struck me as a very powerful indictment at the time, and has stayed with me ever since.

Yesterday, I was exhorting (or at least reminding) my readers to pray for those with whom they have profound differences - specifically 'women priests' and abortionists.

Today, I am adding another suggestion.  I have observed that the Catholic blogosphere is somewhat fractured.  I think it behoves us to pray regularly for those with whom we have fallen out.  I would also suggest that such prayers should be kept between you and God. I think there are contexts in which telling someone that you are praying for him or her is not appropriate (still less telling others…)

I think it worth paying attention, too, to the quality of that prayer: it is all too easy to pray for the conversion of the evil other to one's own sane and sensible point of view, or for their forgiveness for the wrongs they have done you.  But perhaps those are not the most appropriate prayers in this context.  But again, I leave that between you and God.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

I hope you are still praying...

I hope you are still praying for the 'woman priest' you adopted some time ago.  

What do you mean, you didn't spiritually adopt a woman priest? Rush over to Acts of the Apostasy at once and do so!

Likewise, I hope you are still praying for the abortionist you adopted (again if you have not yet adopted one, read this, and commit to praying for one).

If we seriously believe that attempts to ordain women and abortion are serious evils, and we seriously believe in prayer, then this is clearly the foundation of any Catholic response.

Unless we pray for those whom we see as committing evil, we risk coming to hate them which is bad for us, will do them no good, and will sabotage any other work we do, however well-intentioned, to fight these evils.

I have certainly found that regular prayer for both of these intentions has changed me (which must be one of the primary purposes of prayer) allowing me to think with compassion of those involved, without in any way lessening my conviction of the need to fight the evil they have got sucked into.

Monday 13 January 2014

Exciting News

The big news in the Trovato household is that Antonia, our eldest daughter, is getting married in the summer.

Her poor fiancé - let us call him Zachary, for obvious reasons - had to find me alone in order to ask my permission (though I later learned that in order to bolster his courage, Ant had said she would marry him even if I refused permission - the minx!)  He caught me as I was laying a fire in the stove, so I was bent down with my face covered in ash, which was perhaps not the scene he had imagined.

Whilst we were not surprised at the fact of the engagement, the timing was a little earlier than we had envisaged.  Had you asked me, I think I would have predicted my reaction as likely to be: 'OK, but a bit early…'  But in fact that was not how I really reacted. I am truly delighted, as is Anna (the redoubtable Mrs T).

Zachary is naturally pleased that we are so positive, and also surprised as he thought we would not be so enthusiastic.  In precisely the same way, Ant is surprised at how pleased Zachary's parents are (though of course, that is no surprise to us: we think he is doing very well…).

And it makes sense: they have been going out together for four years, and now they have finished University and are organising the rest of their lives.  They found that they were both making plans around each other, and thought it was a bit silly to try to contrive to live within a few streets of each other, when what they really wanted was to be together.

Like any proposed marriage, it is not without its risk: the union of two fallen people in matrimony is always a challenge.  In this case, it is complicated by the fact that Zachary is not a Catholic, or even a Christian.

Naturally, that has been a matter of some discussion between us and Ant, and much thought and prayer by Ant herself.

Moreover, I reflect that Anna was not Catholic (and only nominally Christian) when we married, so these things can work out.

Indeed, whilst my natural preference would be for all my daughters to marry wonderful Catholic men, I can also see there are risks in that too, in terms of broader evangelisation: we do not need to retreat into a ghetto.

Ant has clearly decided that her vocation is to seek both her sanctity and his in matrimony: and I believe she is old and wise enough to discern her path.

They are both young: but then so were we, and interestingly so were Zachary's parents when they got married having met at University (and they are still happily married too) so we are all fairly relaxed about that aspect (though Anna's mum, who married later in life, is not…)

Please remember them both in your prayers.

Sunday 5 January 2014

My Father on Luther and Heenan

In a previous post, I mentioned my father's quoting of Cardinal Heenan (which leapt out at me for reasons I think I made clear).  I have just read what preceded it in his notebook, which is a French quotation of something Luther wrote.  This explains, quite graphically, the impact of the Heenan quotation on my Father

'Toutefois, afin d'arriver sûrement et heureusement au but, il faudrait conserver certaines cérémonies de l'ancienne messe pour les faibles, qui pourraient être scandalisés par le changement trop brusque.'

(My translation: Anyway, in order to be sure of happily arriving at our goal, it would be necessary to preserve certain aspects of the immemorial Mass for the sake of the weak, who might be scandalised by too abrupt a change.) 

Given that context, it is easy to understand why my father reacted so strongly to Cardinal Heenan's admission that the changes to the Mass were introduced gradually, because otherwise 'You would have been shocked.'

As I read my father's notes, I am increasingly aware of the real anguish that he (and doubtless many others) experienced as the Mass (and as they saw it, the Faith) they had known and loved was re-fashioned.

A later note (May 1975) reads:

I am convinced that the Church is in the power of men who wish to destroy it. They are engaged in substituting a new ecumenical religion for the Catholic Faith, and in aligning the Church with Communism.

The proper authority of the Pope and bishops is fettered by 'collegiality.' Law is disregarded.

The whole structure of Catholic thought - theology and its philosophical basis - is discarded. Heresy is everywhere permitted to be taught. The Dutch Catechism is almost everywhere the basis of official teaching.

A spurious ecumenism has everywhere destroyed Catholic consciousness of the 'One True Church.'

The teaching and disciplinary authority of the Church is in abeyance - except as against 'Traditionalists.'

The new liturgy is intended to substitute a Protestant communion service for the Mass.

I am not obliged to 'obey' such authorities.


To his credit, the depth of his disillusion with the Church was not clear to me as I grew up. I was taught  to respect the Holy Father and the bishops, and to reverence the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, and my spiritual Mother.

But I do find that his notes demonstrate the real spiritual struggle of someone who was an adult convert to the Faith, and who felt severely let down.  Some of the context surrounding all this (as well as the wider changes in the Church) was the fact that he had entrusted his daughters to the nuns and his sons to the monks for their education, and found that they had not honoured that trust.  

An Epiphany Treat

This is a wonderful piece for the Feast of the Epiphany.

By indult of our bishops, you may listen to it today. Then you may listen to it tomorrow, on Twelfth Night, as you take your tree and decorations down (but not, of course, your crib!)

Saturday 4 January 2014

Another Note From my Father

I posted about finding my Father's notebook the other day.

Here is another note which I think may be of wider interest.  This one is entitled Note on the English Bishops' Statement on the Mass, and is dated May 1975

1) Confronted with people who say that the Novus Ordo is not obligatory, and who carefully examine the legislation, the bishops say: 'It is the Law of the Church and must be obeyed!' It is inconceivable that, if there were any such law, the bishops would not refer to it explicitly.

2) Serious theological criticisms have been made of the Novus Ordo, not least by Cardinals Ottoviani and Bacci. It is not a question of accusing the Holy Father of fostering heresy. It is not good enough to 'deplore the calumnies.' Explanation and justification is required.

3) It ill behoves these miserable time-servers who did their best to dodge 'Humane Vitae' to talk about loyalty to the Pope.

The whole statement displays the tyrannous and arbitrary methods of government now inflicted upon the Faithful.


I cannot find a copy of the English Bishops' statement to which he refers (but see update below): if anyone knows where it may be found, I would be very interested.



Thanks to my readers' (Matthew and Bookclubber) skills in research, here is the relevant part of the bishops' statement which my father criticises above (the first part condemned ad  lib changes to the Mass - the full text may be found by following their links):

At the other extreme are those who reject all the liturgical reforms. In both cases it is a question of loyalty and obedience to the Holy See. Catholics are wrongly said to be under no obligation to accept the reformed liturgy. It is alleged that the rite of the Mass as reformed by Pope Pius v may still be lawfully offered in place of the rite approved by Pope Paul vi. The bishops by this statement wish to make it clear that the Missal of Pope Paul vi has now replaced all other missals in the Roman rite. This is a law of the Church and must be obeyed. Exceptions to the law have only been authorised for old or sick priests who may celebrate the old rite privately. An indult was granted to the bishops of England and Wales to give permission to particular groups on special occasions to use the old rite as reformed in 1967. This, permission was given on the strict condition that all danger of division would be avoided. For devotional reasons a group may be given leave to have a Mass in this rite. At all parish and community Masses, however, the rite is obligatory, whether it is in Latin or English.
"Some have been misled by propaganda which attacked Pope Paul's Missal and even accused the Holy Father of fostering heresy in the new eucharistic prayers. The bishops deplore such calumnies and call for obedience to the Holy See. In company with the bishops of the whole Church the episcopal conference of England and Wales declares its loyalty to the successor of St Peter and trusts that this statement will make it clear to priests and people that Holy Mass must be celebrated according to the rite of the Roman Missal of Pope Paul vi.
As a matter of historical fact, it can be asserted that my father was right, and the bishops wrong, on this issue, as our recent Holy Father (now emeritus) Benedict made it clear that the traditional Rite had not been abrogated, and further that it would be wrong to declare illicit what had previously been held sacred by the Church.

You Would Have Been Shocked

One of my late Father's running jokes was to collect titles for the many volumes of the  autobiography which he never intended to write.

Every now and then, he would come across a phrase that struck him, and adopt it as the title of the next volume.

One such phrase was 'You would have been shocked.'

Reading his notebook last night, I found the source for this, which also explained its resonance for him.

This is from a Pastoral Letter by Cardinal Heenan, dated 12x69.

Why does the Mass keep changing?  Here is the answer. It would have been foolhardy to introduce the changes all at once. It was obviously wiser to change gradually and gently. If all the changes had been introduced together, you would have been shocked.'

(The underlining is my Father's).

Friday 3 January 2014

A Note From My Father

My father died a long time ago, back in 1978.  

This afternoon, I was looking unsuccessfully for a book by Knox (Mons Ronald, of course!), and found instead, squeezed between A Creed in Slow Motion and A Retreat for Lay People, a small notebook.  Only a few pages have been written in, all in my late father's handwriting. The following is the first note he made.

This note is dated September 1972. Here is what he had to say:

Two views:

1 There was a Council, certain changes were made; it went to the heads of some people, others were distressed by the changes. Things are now settling down.

2 a) The above is what might have been expected to happen; it is not what did happen. In fact, (using the Council as its occasion, and the fact that people were prepared for changes as its opportunity) a heretical clique has seized power and is bent on the destruction of the Church from within - what the Pope has called 'auto demolition' - and the introduction of a new religion.  The situation is more serious than the Reformation not because there are heretics about, but because of the complicity, or at least silence, of the authorities, and because the heretics have acquired the semblance of legality.

b) The root of the heretical movement is the idea of secular progress (most characteristically Marxist). The natural progress of the world from the atom to the fully socialised community is the great reality, and the Church is just one factor in this (at best).

c) The strategy is to destroy distinctions: the Pope is not much different from other bishops ("collegiality"); bishops are not much different from priests; priests are not much different from laymen ("democratisation"); Catholics are not much different from other Christians; Christians are not much different from the rest of men.

d) The means of achieving all this are (amongst others):

  1. The monopoly of the 'Catholic' press
  2. The catechetical movement
  3. The ecumenical movement
  4. The destruction of the whole web of authentic devotional life, and especially the new rite of the "coena domenica sine missa."

Two more views

1) Provided the essence of the Mass remains, all else - rubrics, language, music etc - is relatively unimportant. Tastes may differ.

2) a) But it can be argued that the new rite, while not necessarily invalid, is designed to obscure the Sacrifice and the Real Presence.  It is used at Taizé, and indeed 'Prex' 2 could be used by anyone. It fits the new ecumenical religion.

b) Are the 'inessentials' really so inessential? The Roman rite was doctrinally unassailable; the Latin was a powerful bond and manifestation of unity.

c) The new rite does not follow the lines of the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.


And there the note ends.  There are other notes in the book, which I may transcribe in due course.

I found this very interesting, not least given its date. In particular I was struck by his reflections on the strategy and means (2 c and d above).  

I notice that, while presenting two views (and then two more), he does not come down in favour of one or the other - but I think his thinking is clear, nonetheless…

On writing that, I realise that I am assuming that this was his own thinking: it may, of course, have been notes taken from a talk given by someone else, but I have some reasons for doubting that (for a start, I think he would have noted that fact, were it the case.)

It was his anniversary the other day: please spare a prayer for him.

Requiescat in pace.

A Turbulent Deacon

It's always the way, when you (or at least, I) do a list of (for example) blogs to award a prize to: waking up the next day and thinking, 'But what about…?'

I have already added one well-deserved extra to the list, but another blog I often read with interest and approval is written by that turbulent deacon, Nick Donnelly: Protect the Pope.

Not that I always agree with everything he writes (see for example, Patricius' analysis of a recent mis-step, here). And indeed, his latest post  seems to me to be rather harsh.

But that's not the point: I don't read - or recommend - people because I always agree with what they say. Rather, because I find them variously stimulating, thought-provoking, or entertaining.

It is easy to forget the atmosphere when Deacon Nick started his blog: it was before Pope Benedict's visit here, and the press was full of vitriol and misrepresentation. Protect the Pope was established to counter that, and dissect and correct many of the misrepresentations.

Since then it has developed, as blogs do, but with a similar locus of attention: countering misrepresentations of the Faith and championing orthodoxy. Notwithstanding the fact that I think he occasionally misses the target, overstates the case, or reads others through an overly-critical lens (none of which are faults to which I incline in the least, let it be understood!) I think Deacon Nick plays a very important role in the Catholic blogosphere.

This is the turbulence of my title, and is, of course, a reference to St Thomas à Beckett: when there is so much idiocy about, then turbulence of this kind is the correct response.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Bringing sunshine...

This was already, of course, an award winning blog, but I have just won a second: a Sunshine Award, courtesy of the irrepressible Eccles.

The Sunshine Award is for those who 'who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.'

And of course, reminds one of this.

Doubtless there will be those who castigate me for accepting this, Eccles not being universally popular. But there seem to be lots of pots and kettles involved in all that, so I will ignore any such censure.

Let nobody be churlish enough to suggest that Eccles is merely returning the favour, because I nominated him for a Liebster Award some time ago.

As usual, this award comes with strings attached - or at least conditions to fulfil:

1 illustrate the Award in the post 
2 Link to the blogger who was kind enough to nominate you.
3. Write 10 pieces of information about yourself.
4. Nominate ten fellow bloggers “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
5. Leave a comment on the nominees’ blogs to tell them of the award.
So without further ado, having done 1 & 2, what I now have to do is to reveal ten facts about myself.

Bear in mind that I am mendacious:

1) I first got to know Mrs T in a school production of The Mikado.

2) Despite my Romanism, two sentences that regularly bring me up short, in terms of examination of conscience, were written by Anglicans (C S Lewis: 'I would have thought that a man with your advantages…' and T S Eliot 'the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.'

3) My maternal grandfather squandered the family fortune on fast cars.

4) My paternal grandfather was a conscientious objector in WW1; and my father was one in WW2 (though he later recanted, when he learned the true evil of Hitler's regime).

5) My kids have nearly as many aunts as Bertie Wooster - and nearly as terrifying.

6) I once, as a teenager, got the zip of my trouser fly entangled in the mesh of a supermarket basket, leading to much embarrassment when I tried to put the basket down at the checkout.

7) I worked for the post office on the railways in the Christmas vacation, and dropped a mailbag under a train, resulting in one of the steel D-rings at the top being turned into tin foil.

8) The R&B band I played in at University played covers (ranging from Tom Petty to Elvis Costello, the Stranglers to The Monkees)  really really quickly, and managed to make them all sound the same.

9) This year, we celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary.

10) My kids really did believe there was a Father Book, from which I knew the answers to everything. 

The next task that goes with this award is to nominate ten other blogs (though some I would have nominated have already been chosen….):

1 The Muniment Room

2 Catholic and Loving It

3 Cum Lazaro

4 The Sensible Bond

5 Porta Caeli

6 Bara Brith

7 Valle Adurni

8 Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley

9 Gateshead Revisited

10 That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill.

So now I am off to leave comments on all those blogs to let them know of the great honour I have just bestowed.


I found, on visiting my chosen recipients, that one has already been awarded this prize; I won'\t tell you which, so you have to go and look at all of them.  However, it does give me the opportunity to add a further blog, which should have been in the original list:

10 (bis) Twelve Mini Pilgrimages

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Ring in the New

We had a great evening, to see out the Old Year and welcome the New.

We were one down, as Bernie is in London with her boyfriend, and was watching the fireworks on the South Bank.

We were also one family down, as the friends who have joined us for New Year's Eve for many years had other commitments (a better offer) elsewhere.

So we decided we would simply have to have a good time on our own, and we managed it.  After a few games around the stove, we climbed a local fell.  Ant had a rucksack full of kindling and wood, along with hot chocolate and coffee.

We noticed others planning to ascend, so thought we would settle just below the summit; but that proved impossible: the wind was very strong and rain and sleet were coming down.  So we ascended to the top, where there is a large stone obelisk, which provided a measure of shelter.

There we were joined by a couple from a village further up the valley, with their youngest boy, who enjoyed watching us trying to get a fire lit.  Eventually, by getting the whole family (minus Bernie) lying in a circle to form some sort of wind break, and by dint of striking matches in large bundles, we managed to get a flame to take hold.  And then the fire really got going.  The wind gusted it into strong flames and it produced real warmth.

So we treated our new friends to a few Scottish ballads (mixed in with the odd Tom Lehrer, Don Mclean etc song). Suddenly midnight was upon us, and as we sang Auld Lang Syne, all the hotels around the lake we were looking down on let off their fireworks. It was a magnificent site, seen from above.  Goldie did not enjoy it, but she is quite a patient dog.

Then our new friends revealed they too had some fireworks: they had thought they would struggle to light them in the wind and rain, but by using a glowing stick from our fire, were able to do so; so doubtless all the hotel partygoers enjoyed the sight of fire and fireworks on the mountain too.

It was very wet and windy, and quite cold, so we didn't hang around too long. But the descent was hilarious. There is a broad grassy trod for a lot of the way, pretty steep. The rain had converted this into a very hazardous descent, and I went down a long way, inadvertently, on my back, to the children's delight.  In fairness, they did little better, and only Mrs T reached the bottom with her dignity intact and her overtrousers unmuddied.

And so home - where Charlie played the piano, and we all sang along.  He was flicking through various song books, starting stuff at random stopping when he got bored, and then playing other things from memory which he preferred.  My favourite was A Farewell to Stromness, some of which he remembered correctly…

So it was two before we headed off to bed - and for some strange reason the kids aren't up yet, though it has just gone eleven o'clock.

Happy New Year and a Happy Feast Day to all my readers.