Tuesday 29 November 2016

Ivereigh Tower

It's all a bit confusing. Amoris Laetitia seems to be somewhat ambiguous, and some of its footnotes, more so. 

Clearly, as with any papal document, one reads it in the hermeneutic of continuity: that is to say, one starts from the assumption that it builds on, and does not contradict, previous magisterial teaching, and interprets any ambiguity in line with such teaching.

And yet, it seems that in a private letter, the Holy Father has suggested that the ambiguity is meant to be interpreted in a quite different way - a way that was discussed but not ratified in the two synods that preceded its publication. And as one looks around at the bishops and indeed cardinals of the Church, we find that some are saying it should be interpreted in one way, and others in a contrary way. That is clearly confusing, to say the least.

So some cardinals who are particularly mindful of the need for clarity - and indeed for doctrinal coherence in that very hermeneutic of continuity to which I referred earlier - have submitted five dubia to the Holy Father, so that all may be quite clear precisely what is or is not being taught.

Yet, mysteriously, the Holy Father seems reluctant to clarify: the dubia remain unanswered.  

And then I saw that Austen Ivereigh, one of the founders of Catholic Voices, responded to this tweet on Twitter: Submitting dubia is a standard part of Church life. It’s not unreasonable to expect a clear answer http://buff.ly/2gb2uJj  by @SSBullivant, by saying: But in this case it’s dissent / theological protest masquerading as a dubium. The answer has been given. They just don’t like it.

I found that curious, as I could find no record of such an answer, so I tweeted @austeni So, for the slow on the uptake, like me, what are the Holy Father's answers to the dubia? In Y/N form, for the avoidance of doubt?

But answer was there none.

Of course, there is no particular reason why Austen Ivereigh should (con)descend from his tower to  answer me - although as I also mentioned on Twitter, instructing the ignorant is one of the corporal works of Mercy.

Ivereigh is the author of How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice. Can we expect a second volume: How to Defend the Faith without saying anything at all?

More seriously, though, what are we to make of it when people (whether the Holy Father or the Head of Catholic Voices) refuse to clarify: when the request for clarity is seen as a hostile act, in fact?  That I find a very worrying question.

And what are we to make of it when people (such as close papal aides...) rush to lie: to say all the cardinals are united on this, and that the interpretation was the fruit of the two synods, when we know that to be untrue?  Again, I find the question, and the need to ask it, very worrying indeed.


Pray for our Holy Father, for all our Cardinals and Bishops, and for the whole Church: for we live in strikingly difficult times.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, 
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. 
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: 
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, 
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, 
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, 
divina virtute, in infernum detrude. 

Sunday 27 November 2016

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Whilst the experts on the Pray,Tell blog are quick to proclaim that Advent is not a time of penance, I demur.   

I understand the concern with my position: that Advent should not be seen as the same as Lent.  I agree: the two are different.  Advent is a time of joyous preparation for the coming of Our Lord (memories of his first coming, and looking forward to his second, of course). But both of these considerations naturally lead us to listen to the words of St John the Baptist: Repent!

We think it important to keep our Advent Celebrations quite distinct from our Christmas Celebrations - though they are related, they are two different seasons of the Church's cycle, with different themes and moods.

So as ever, we will celebrate Advent by saying our prayers around the Advent Wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and having a reading as we add another character to our Jesse Tree. We will also say the wonderful collect from the traditional Roman rite of the Mass:

Arise in thy strength we beseech thee O Lord and come; from the dangers which threaten us because of our sins, be thy presence our sure defence, be thy deliverance our safety for ever more. 

For those who love Latin, or those who fondly remember my introduction to Liturgical Latin, here is the collect in Latin. too:

Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári.

(This, of course, changes with the four Sundays of Advent).

The Marian Antiphon changes today from the Salve Regina to the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which we will sing until the Feast of the Purification (February 2nd).

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma redemptoris mater, 
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
et stella maris succurre cadenti
surgere qui curat populo.  
Tu quae genuisti, 
natura mirante, 
tuum sanctum Genitorem.  
Virgo prius, ac posterius, 
Gabrielis ab ore, 
summens illud ave, 
peccatorum miserere.

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people, 
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth, 
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator, 
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth 
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(Translated by Blessed John Henry Newman)

So today, when we get back from visiting our new grandson, Zachary, we will be out in the frost, collecting holly for the wreath, up in the attic looking for the advent calendars, Jesse Tree book etc, and I will be singing the Alma Redemptoris throughout the day...

Anna's Jesse Tree blog, means that Ant and her family, in the North East, and Bernie, down south in Manchester, and Charlie, at university, can be with us spiritually at the end of each day as we recall Salvation History.  Dominique is currently in residence, for the last year of her sixth form.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Thanks, Bugnini

This Friday's Mass is one of my favourite (?) examples of the supreme illiteracy of those who imposed their new liturgy on us.

The first reading is from the Apocalypse (10: 8-11): the leitmotif is: 'it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.'

Prompted by this, the chosen Psalm is Psalm 118, and the chosen refrain is: 'Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.'

I defy anyone with any literary sensibility not to find himself adding, mentally: 'but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.'

A few things strike me: the first is, that is how literature and performative art work. A theme is established and developed, and the reader or listener is expected (and rightly) to make the links between what has gone before and what follows.

The second is, I do not believe that those who compiled the Lectionary wanted us to make that (almost inevitable) link. Surely they were not wanting us to internalise the notion that the Lord's promise will turn our stomachs.

So the third is, those who compiled the Lectionary simply did not understand (this aspect of) what they were doing.

But then, I am that rigid sort of chap whom the Holy Father excoriates; I strive to make sense of what the Church teaches, and have a preference for clarity and coherence over muddle and mess.