LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Advance Warning

Just to let you know of a couple of splendid opportunities to give honour to Our Eucharistic Lord.

On Thursday, Fr Ray Blake will be singing Mass of Corpus Christi in the Extraordinary Form at S. Mary Magdalene. Brighton at 20:00, followed by an outdoor procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the parish.

Fr Ray is, apparently, a bit short of servers, and also singers to support the latin hymns in the procession, so will be grateful for any assistance : if you can help, have a look at his blog here.

The Oxford Corpus Christi procession will leave the Oxford Oratory at 14:30, first to Blackfriars for a Sermon and Benediction, and then on – through the centre of the city on a Sunday afternoon ! – to the Old Palace (the Catholic Chaplaincy) for Benediction (and tea, if I know anything).

Again, this is not only a splendid occasion in itself, but a wonderful opportunity to give honour to Our Blessed Lord : so if you live anywhere within reach of Oxford, do please come and join us – you will be most welcome !

Going Home

A friend of a friend on facebook posted a note a day or two ago that he had found something (at least potentially) seriously wrong with himself, and ended ‘Argh, I don’t wanna die !’

My friend’s perfectly sensible comment was ‘Death is an inevitability... but not, I hope, from this condition nor imminently’ – a wish which I am sure we would all share, especially when, as in this case, the person is young.

At the same time, it struck me as I wrote my post yesterday that this exchange was a manifestation of something which must strike many people as confusing : Catholics say that ‘here we have no abiding city; our home is in heaven’, and yet we seem just as reluctant as anyone else to die – yet logically, one would think, we should have no such reluctance, as our death will only be going home to God, to be reunited with Him for ever (DV) in heaven.

I suppose, really, it’s a bit like when we were children, and our mothers called us to stop playing and come in, because it was time for bed / supper / whatever. We never wanted to, however much we might also in theory have wanted whatever it was we were going to get by stopping playing : and that is a bit like our position on earth. This life is great fun, but ultimately it’s not what it’s all about, and deep down we have to realize that.

Let me make it plain; I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to die – I’m certainly not aching to do so, myself : and yet I want to try not to be afraid of death; to try to welcome the idea of it; and to try to prepare for it, spiritually if not (perhaps) very practically.

I’ve mentioned S. Joseph Cafasso before; and one of his practices was to make a very thorough spiritual preparation for death once a month – mainly, of course, in case when death came to him he was not able to make those acts of will himself, so that he had habitual dispositions on which to rely; but at the same time also because he recognized that for a Christian an acceptance not only of the inevitability, but also of the (ultimate) desirability, of death was something to be encouraged.

I hope and pray that my friend’s friend in fact has nothing seriously wrong with him, and that he has many more years left to enjoy the life which God has given him before he finally goes home : but I also pray, earnestly, that he, and all of us, may gain a great acceptance of God’s will in this, and come to welcome His call for us to go home, whenever it may come.


Sunday, 30 May 2010

‘In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes . . .’

As Mr Churchill once famously (if apparently irrelevantly) remarked, ‘Today is Trinity Sunday, my friends’.

Quite apart from having spent many years worshipping in a Church dedicated to the Most Holy & Undivided Trinity, I have always much liked today’s Feast : for a reason which is, in its way, not unlike the reason I cited a couple of weeks ago for liking the Ascension – namely that today is about God, and not about us, and thus (in my opinion, at least) helps us to focus on Him, rather than on ourselves.

The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery; and whilst there are many other mysteries in Catholic theology, most of them are capable of being explained in ways which the human mind can grasp to at least a reasonable extent; S. Thomas Aquinas, for example, pressed Aristotle into service to explain the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar through the doctrine of transubstantiation – a doctrine well within the grasp of any reasonably thoughtful person.

The Most Holy Trinity, on the other hand, is a mystery which appears to be incapable of wholly comprehensible explanation; and I have to confess that I, for one, have never come across an explanation of it which completely satisfies me . . . yet the Athanasian Creed rather worryingly says Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat (‘He, therefore, who wishes to be saved, must believe thus about the Trinity’) at the end of a lengthy passage which most people, I suspect, find far more bewildering than enlightening !

I’ve mentioned before my liking, especially in great Churches, for considering my utter insignificance before God; and that, I think, is what attracts me about Trinity Sunday – that it provides an annual (and highly salutary) reminder that, however deep God’s revelation to us is, however clever we are (or rather think we are), there are certain things which we shall only be able to understand when we stand before Him; things which He chooses to conceal from our eyes in His utter light (or darkness, if you prefer pseudo-Dionysius) during this earthly life : videmus nunc per speculum in enigmate tunc autem facie ad faciem nunc cognosco ex parte tunc autem cognoscam sicut et cognitus sum’ *‘Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am myself known’.

For now, we must be content with that uncertain view; we must celebrate, without completely comprehending, this immense mystery - but the time will come, we are promised, when we shall see our God clearly, and in the joy of Heaven all will be made clear - a blessing which, in due course, I wish you all.

* 1 Corinthians 13 : 12, translation NJB


Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Clonakilty Irish Elephant

For what it's worth, if you like Irish Beer, you want to get to know this elephant - who lives in Covent Garden, at the S. Paul's Church end. Full details are on the plinth, but I gather he can reward new acquaintances with a beer !

Thought for Today

‘For a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary to succeed in losing his soul, he would have to do himself as much violence as the other faithful do to save their souls, so abundant are the graces of this Confraternity.’
S. Jean-Marie Vianney, Cure d’Ars

Thursday, 27 May 2010

On ‘Anglicanorum Cœtibus’

Today is the Feast of S. Augustine of Canterbury, the man who brought the Faith of the Holy Roman Church to England; and in view of the current state of affairs in the Church of England, and the impending Synod discussions which seem bound to make matters more difficult for many, I thought it was a good day to bring to your attention a passage from a Homily by (I believe) F. Ignatius Harrison, Provost of the London Oratory, which was preached on the Feast of the Chair of S. Peter this year :

‘Faith is a supernatural gift from God. So non-Catholics who are considering their position in relation to the Catholic Church must do so, not in the spirit of simply “reaching a decision” as if this were just like any other human decision, weighing the arguments and assessing the probabilities. They should rather be praying with might and main for God to give them the fullness of His gift of faith, a supernatural gift from the Almighty which enables us to believe without doubting all that He has revealed. The fullness of that faith includes the doctrines of the primacy of S.Peter, the necessity of being in communion with his successor the Bishop of Rome, the indefectibility of the Catholic Church as guaranteed by papal infallibility, and all else that flows from those truths.

‘We Catholics are in no position to be smug and complacent about all this. Yes, we have been given the gift of faith. Yes, we are in full communion with the Holy Father. Such undeserved privileges carry with them grave responsibilities, not least the imperative to give the best possible witness to the truths of the faith by what we say and do, and by what we are. We are also bound in charity to pray fervently for our separated brethren and to give them every possible encouragement and assistance, as brethren, as friends, as fellow disciples of the Lord Jesus. Those of us who at different times and in varying circumstances left the Church of England in order to become Catholics, we know that for any number of contingent human reasons it is often difficult to pursue the right path. How deep the difficulties can be is seen in the long journey made by John Henry Newman. He thought, and studied, and prayed. The most efficacious of these activities was, and always is, prayer. It is also worth remembering that ultimately the decision belongs to God and not to us. Dominus dat incrementum.’

Flocking into the City

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

For Goodness’ Sake !

Restricted numbers at the Holy Father’s masses in the UK ?

Don’t be ridiculous !

If this nonsense comes from the Government, then the Hierarchy should say – politely, but very firmly – ‘In that case we shall advise His Holiness not to come, and make public our reasons for that recommendation.’

If it comes from the Hierarchy, then they should consider their position VERY carefully : because it’s an indefensible decision.*

The Catholics of Britain want to see their pope. You don’t get told that it’s ‘ticket only’ for the Mall on great occasions, or for the Lord Mayor’s Show, or any one of a thousand other major events every year – and why ? Because it isn’t needed . . . so the only result of this nonsense is to give the most amazing ammunition to those who want the world to believe that the Church is dying – and who were so soundly proved wrong at Easter !

By restricting the numbers, it will be made to appear that the Faithful of these lands aren’t interested in the Holy Father’s visit . . . which is simply not true : and if the Bishops won’t do something about this nonsense NOW, then they will simply be disobeyed . . . by me, if by nobody else.

I shall investigate to see what may be arranged to ensure that people CAN attend the Holy Father’s Masses : and I will update you with what I find out – so watch this space.

(* I suppose I must qualify that : it may be defensible on the basis of the arrangements as announced; but if that is the case, it shows it wasn’t thought through properly at the start, on the basis of needing to ensure that unrestricted access was going to be necessary for at least one event !)

H/T to Auntie Joanna, Bara Brith, Mac, Damien T, and no doubt many others !


There is, by the way, a very tenuous reason why I chose this particular elephant for today. Any guesses ?

Happy S. Philip's Day

I wish you a very happy Feast of S. Philip Neri.

Do be assured that all my Followers, Readers, and Visitors will be prayed for today at Mass at S. Philip's Altar in the London Oratory.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The stupid thing is . . .

. . . that to some extent the cause of the modern culture of death is, I believe, compassion.

A hundred years or so ago, people were accustomed to death; but strangely enough, were not usually brutalized by it. Instead, they recognized it as a natural – if unwelcome – stage in life’s journey.

Advances in medical treatment, which one must ultimately view as occasioned by compassion, have led to the vast majority of people dying in hospital, or in an hospice; which may very well mean that their deaths are less painful, and even less ‘undignified’ – but it has also led to a huge percentage of the population having no acquaintance at all with the actual mechanics of death and dying.

As a result, people don’t take death – as a stage of life – seriously; instead they canonize the incidentals such as peace, quiet, comfort, and ‘dignity’, and forget what it’s all about – failing to recognize, for instance, that it’s vastly better to die in some pain but with enough brain to allow you to make a good confession than to die painlessly but unshriven.

Taking this further, though, it occurs to me that so many of the ‘liberals’ who support ‘a woman’s right to choose’ only do so because they don’t have any idea what they are talking about . . . and that if they did, if they really did, they’d be utterly horrified, and their opinions would probably change very swiftly.

An advert which showed what actually happens in an abortion – what is actually in the container after it’s all over – would undoubtedly be refused by the Advertising Standards Authority : making women who have abortions look at the results of the ‘procedure’ would no doubt be viewed as almost inhuman . . . but what about what they’re doing ? Isn’t murder inhuman ?

Fr John Boyle, over at Caritas in Veritate, had a good post last night, after the Marie Stopes ad was shown, which raised the entirely sensible and valid point that perhaps what is needed is for the pro-Life organizations to create their own advertising campaign.

Of course one problem with the Marie Stopes ad is that it’s utterly misleading; and even if a woman comes to the conclusion that an abortion is the solution to her ‘problem’, you can be quite sure that they’ll never let her find out what it really involves.

The Germans who lived around the Death Camps were made to go and view the tens of thousands of emaciated, maltreated, corpses in them : and then watch them being given decent burial.

Is it, perhaps, time to take practical steps to ensure that all those complacent – but frequently also ignorant – ‘liberals’ understand exactly what the result of ‘a woman’s right to choose’ is ? Should those be the images in our campaign ?

I’m sure they wouldn’t be popular; but at least – unlike Marie Stopes’ – they’d be honest.


THE place to be . . .

Especially in this year when England will celebrate the Beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, who brought the Oratory to England, surely the place to be for Wednesday 26 May just has to be the Oratory – or rather one of the Oratories.

I don’t offhand know the details for the celebrations at the Birmingham and Oxford Oratories : but the London Oratory is celebrating in style, and I strongly suggest that anyone who can possibly get there should make the trip.

TODAY ~ Tuesday 25 May
17:30 Solemn First Vespers followed by Triduo Devotions to S. Philip

TOMORROW ~ Wednesday 26 May ~ S. Philip Neri
18:30 Solemn Pontifical Mass (OF, Latin)
(at which Archbishop Vincent Nichols will both celebrate and preach, and at which the organ will be reinforced by an orchestra, and every circumstance of liturgical excess will - if I know anything - be indulged in !)
Other Masses at 07:00, 08:00 (EF), 10:00, and 12:30

Monday, 24 May 2010

Sunday, 23 May 2010

They say they never forget . . .

Royal Challengers Bangalore

I can’t immediately find a direct connection between Elephants and Catholic Theology (I’ve looked in Aquinas, and Rahner, and all the other reliable sources); so I have to accept that this post – and what follows – is going to be something of a departure. However, if Mac can do Cats without damaging her Catholic street cred, hopefully I’ll be allowed to get away with Elephants !

For the next few weeks, the streets of London are home to a large number of brightly coloured model elephants – large enough to be noticeable, small enough not to cause a problem – which are part of the ‘London Elephant Parade’; which has been organized in aid of Asian Elephants generally, and a number of UK Conservation Charities as well.

To do my little bit – and to brighten the blog up as well – I shall be posting an elephant a day until the Elephant Parade ends : I hope you’ll enjoy them, and perhaps feel encouraged to go and see them for yourselves.

Today’s elephant is in Trafalgar Square, and is named for one of the teams in the Indian Cricket League : and was chosen for today for what I hope are entirely obvious reasons !

Friday, 21 May 2010

‘Embarrassed of England’

So, the Mascots for the 2012 London Olympics – named Wenlock and Mandeville – have been ‘launched’ : and all I can really say (remember, this is a family blog) is that I, as an Englishman, am horribly embarrassed by the complete lack of connexion with reality, good taste, and England (or even Great Britain) which they embody.

I understand that the reaction of the marketing professionals is scarcely more favourable than mine (22% called the mascots ‘dreadful’); whilst the designers apparently believe that they will ‘inspire floods of merchandise sales’.

I think there’s a song in South Pacific about that (‘They call me a cock-eyed optimist . . .’); and as for the Mascots, all I can say is that I just wish they had been ‘launched’ yesterday – straight into deep space (where they appear to belong), never to return !

Some Animals . . .

You may remember that line at the end of ‘Animal Farm’ : ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’.

Well, I was listening yesterday to a discussion programme on the radio, in which someone was saying how splendid it was to have a Minister with responsibility for ‘Equality’; one of whose responsibilities, apparently, will be to ‘protect’ people from various forms of bullying.

Now : so far, so good – I’m all in favour of protecting people from being bullied (I was, myself, once or twice at school); and I have no problem with ‘equality’ as an ideal.

However; as the discussion developed, it became apparent that what the speaker meant by ‘equality’ and what I understand by that word are two very different things – she was adopting the modern position on this subject, namely that of explicitly protecting the rights of certain groups and interests : and it led me to reflect on what is clearly a (potentially, at least) very divisive issue.

To me, equality means that anyone, regardless or their age, sex, race, religion, sexuality, political opinions, or any other characteristic should be entitled to equal treatment in every area of life except where those specific things may properly be relevant. In other words, irrelevant factors are irrelevant, and should not be considered – but that doesn’t mean that relevant ones shouldn’t be.

Let me give you an example. If you apply for a job as a bus driver, your age, sex, hair colour, religion, etc clearly don’t matter : so considering them is clearly unfair, and discriminatory. Whether you can drive a bus, on the other hand, is clearly something which it is entirely proper for the people making the selection to consider.

Similarly, to extend the logic a bit further, the fact that you suffer from flat feet, or sinusitis, is equally irrelevant, because they don’t interfere with your ability to drive a bus; but the fact that you suffer from epilepsy wouldn’t be irrelevant, because that could affect the safety of your passengers.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be how it’s viewed, nowadays.

My understanding is that if, for example, you’re a gay organisation, you could refuse to employ someone who is a practicing Catholic, on the grounds that their attitude is ‘homophobic’ : but a Catholic charity apparently can’t refuse to employ someone who is a practicing homosexual on the grounds that such conduct is contrary to the teaching of the Church – because steps must be actively taken to ensure that the ‘equality’ of homosexuals is protected . . . although the ‘equality’ of Catholics is apparently unimportant.

This is, ultimately, nonsense.

Equality might mean quite reasonably mean that everyone is, in every circumstance, treated the same : but as I have said, that is probably not appropriate in all circumstances. Absolute fairness of treatment, however, is; and is clearly possible – but it is obvious that today fairness is no longer seen as relevant : ‘equality’ is no longer about a lack of discrimination, but rather about a positive discrimination in favour of certain groups and interests . . . which isn’t quite the same thing at all.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

UPDATE - Society of S Tarcisius

As previously mentioned, the Society of S. Tarcisius was formally established on Saturday, 15 May 2010, during the 'Master Class' for MCs in the Extraordinary Form which was being held at Blackfriars, Oxford.

There was a good attendance at the Master Class, and the most satisfying thing about it was the very high percentage of young people involved; indeed I should think there can have been no more than about four or five people present who were old enough to have been alive on the day when the Novus Ordo came into use.

Even on the day of its establishment, it was obvious that the Society clearly had the scope to become something enormously valuable, both as a resource for training and developing Servers in the Extraordinary Form, and also for providing trained Servers for special occasions and parishes who do not yet have any. Equally, on the basis of Saturday, I believe that we may hope that it will also give its Members a sense of 'community' which will help to further the growth of the Extraordinary Form in the UK; and the LMS who have sponsored it, and David Forster who is the Secretary, are to be warmly congratulated for this exceptional initiative.

Let me recommend every Server who serves the Extraordinary Form - or who wishes to do so - to join. It costs nothing, and even if you already belong to the Guild of S. Stephen, or are perhaps a Brother of the Little Oratory, it is still worth joining; because it means that there is one single, central, body which can relate to (and eventually, we hope, speak for) all Servers who serve the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

You can find the Society's website here, and you can email the Secretary from here.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

In my Prayers

Today I am visiting Mother on the Dominican Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

This is just to tell you that all my Followers and other visitors will be in my prayers at both the Shrines; and I pray that Our Blessed Mother may give you much joy and grace.

(The image above is, I rather think, a postcard - although I can't track it down; but in any case, hearty thanks to whoever produced this lovely representation of all three images of OLW.)

One for Mac !

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Society of S. Tarcisius

As part of a ‘Master Class’ in serving Missa Cantata and High Mass (EF) that is taking place today at Blackfriars, Oxford, the Latin Mass Society is inaugurating the Society of S. Tarcisius.

Membership is available to anyone who can competently serve Low Mass in the EF.

Do let me encourage everyone who is duly qualified to join, and support this excellent initiative - and, incidentally, to keep your eyes open for further ‘Master Classes’ in the future, which I understand there are going to be.

Apart from anything else, my personal experience is that having servers trained in the EF greatly enhances the OF - a consommé (as someone once said) devoutly to be wished !

Friday, 14 May 2010

Just for Fun

You may never have visited the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham; and if you haven't, then I do urge you to do so when you can, and to pray, whilst you are there, for the reunion of Christendom and the Conversion of England.

The reason I mention it, though, is because of one of the chapels there, which I ought to have posted about yesterday.

The Church is a 'Rosary Church', with chapels for each of the Mysteries of the Rosary; and the Chapel of the Ascension - just behind the High Altar - has a rather lovely medieval depiction of the Ascension (from an unusual point of view) which I always enjoy, and which I thought you might like as well !

Goodness Me !

I popped over to 'The Crescat' just now to vote for various people - well, Fr Tim and Mulier Fortis, basically - in the Catholic Canonball Awards 2010 which is currently balloting . . . only to discover, to my very great surprise, that some kind person had put Libera Me up for the 'Best New Kid On The Block' Award - and even more surprisingly, that some people had actually voted for it !

I'm touched that anyone thinks that such a nomination is deserved : so 'Thank You' to whoever it was - and to all those rash enough to vote for it, as well.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Being Glad about being Sorry . . .

I suppose I never thought much about the Ascension until I was about sixteen, and had found my way into the very ‘catholic’ end of the Church of England, and then discovered that – at least as the law stood then – any schoolchild had a right to take the day off on Ascension Day, providing he or she ‘attended Divine Service’ !

You can probably imagine that I made sure that I got up early and went to Mass, and then exercised my right to the day off . . !

However; I can’t say that, apart from that modest benefit, the Ascension as a concept was something I really thought about until, I think whilst I was at University, I read Mgr Knox’s ‘The Creed in Slow Motion’, and this passage about the Ascension :

‘Père Clugny used to say that the Ascension was his favourite mystery among all the mysteries of our Lord’s life, because it was the only one which made you think how nice it was for our Lord, instead of thinking how nice it was for us. The Nativity, you see, was a day of great joy for us, but not for our Lord, in that cold stable. The Passion and the Crucifixion are things we cannot think of without tears of gratitude, but they brought nothing except anguish and misery to our Lord. Even His Resurrection, though it was a day of joy for him, was still more a day of joy for us – our sins forgiven, the fear of death for ever dispelled; we are glad on Easter Day, but it’s rather a selfish kind of gladness, or so Père Clugny thought.

But the Ascension ? There at last we get the opportunity of quite unselfish rejoicing; of being glad that our Lord is going back home to His Father, and forgetting what it means to us, that we shall not see Him, not hear His gracious accents, any longer. We can say to Him “How I wish You had stayed on earth, so that we could have been like the Apostles, and seen You, and talked to You ! But I’m glad You went up to heaven, because now You are in glory, and it would be impossible for anyone who loves You as I love You to grudge You any moment of that !”’

I’m not sure there’s really anything to add to that. Let us rejoice today that Our Blessed Lord has gone home, where He invites us all to follow Him and be with Him for ever – a blessing which, of course, I warmly wish you all.

Hail the Day !

Hail the day that sees him rise, Alleluia !
Glorious to His native skies; Alleluia !
Christ, awhile to mortals given, Alleluia !
Enters now the highest heaven! Alleluia !

There the glorious triumph waits; Alleluia !
Lift your heads, eternal gates! Alleluia !
Christ hath vanquished death and sin; Alleluia !
Take the King of glory in! Alleluia !

See ! the heaven its Lord receives, Alleluia !
Yet He loves the earth He leaves; Alleluia !
Though returning to His throne, Alleluia !
Still He calls mankind His own. Alleluia !

See ! He lifts His hands above; Alleluia !
See ! He shows the prints of love: Alleluia !
Hark ! His gracious lips bestow, Alleluia !
Blessings on His Church below. Alleluia !

Still for us He intercedes, Alleluia !
His prevailing death He pleads, Alleluia !
Near Himself prepares our place, Alleluia !
Harbinger of human race. Alleluia !

Lord, though parted from our sight, Alleluia !
Far above yon azure height, Alleluia !
Grant our hearts may thither rise, Alleluia !
Seeking Thee beyond the skies. Alleluia !

There we shall with Thee remain, Alleluia !
Partners of Thine endless reign, Alleluia !
There Thy face unclouded see, Alleluia !
Find our heaven of heavens in Thee, Alleluia !

(Charles Wesley)

Monday, 10 May 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

I was always under the impression that reverence dictated that, unless compelled by infirmity (which is, of course, an entirely legitimate reason), one should never turn one’s back on the Sanctissimum, or sit down before It.

And yet I constantly seem to have that belief challenged by people I either know, or at least have good reason to believe, are pious, devout, and reverent.

At Mass (EF) yesterday, for instance I was surprised to notice that several people – including those sitting in front of me, who were clearly knowledgeable and devout – sat between the ‘Domine non sum dignus’ and going up to make their Communion; and then again sat – rather than knelt – down as soon as they got back to their places.

Similarly, one would assume that anyone who will get up in the middle of the night to spend the small hours at Quarant ’Ore must be at least reasonably devoted to the Blessed Sacrament : and yet when I went to one a few weeks ago, several of those present were sitting, rather than kneeling.

Again, I have seen notably well-trained servers turning their backs on the Most Holy – indeed, I have even seen priests do so – during the course of the Mass.

I can’t believe that they’re all wrong; so it clearly must be me. I just wish I understood what the rules really are – and why.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I Don’t Understand . . .

Why is it that, in the Extraordinary Form, people sit down, rather than immediately kneeling again, after the Creed (or, if there is no Creed, straight after the Gospel) ?

What does the Priest do at that point ? He turns to them, says ‘Dominus vobiscum’, and then turns to the altar and says ‘Oremus’ before beginning the prayers of the Offertory of the Mass.

One of the great objections by many of those who support the Extraordinary Form is that the Offertory in the Novus Ordo is stripped of its sacrificial character, and lacks holiness : but surely one is meant to adopt an appropriate posture – and if something is holy, and particularly if it is explicitly prayer, then sitting is not the appropriate posture.

Can someone explain this ?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Ubi Caritas ?

As you know, I’m a convert; and many of my friends are still in the Church of England.

Because of that, today’s statement from the ‘Catholic Group’ members of the Revision Committee of the General Synod dealing with preparing draft legislation for the Consecration of Women Bishops is a painful and poignant one; even if it is what I have feared every since the original motion was passed – and it will leave most of my friends, and many other members of the Church of England, in a dreadful quandary.

Why do I mention it ? Well, because I think that it is utterly shameful that a Church can be so fundamentally dishonest, and so lacking in that greatest of all virtues - Charity.

If there are those who believe women can be raised to the episcopate, and if they want this done, then so be it : but I do not see how they can also believe that it is right and proper, still less Christian, to treat their brothers and sisters in Christ in this way.

If those opposed to the Ordination and Consecration of Women fought vociferously not only to have these things stopped, but also to penalise those who believed them, then they would be no better; but they don’t – they merely claim, assertively but peacefully, their right to have their religious integrity respected.

It appears that those in favour of this change apparently have no such Christian Charity.

I’d like to think that an appeal to their consciences and their better feelings would work : but I’m afraid I have my doubts. All I can say to my friends is that I will pray that the Holy Spirit may guide all concerned; and in particular that those supporting the innovation will remember that one day they will have to stand before the Lord, and answer for the anguish they are now causing, so if they cannot have compassion, will at least show a little mercy.

I ask my Catholic friends, followers, and readers to pray for all those in the Church of England suffering in this way.

Friday, 7 May 2010


Magnanimity, Aquinas tells us, is a virtue; and if you’re interested to learn more, our friends at Godzdogz provided a clear insight into it in their post on 14 August last year.

Now I appreciate that Aquinas tells us that magnanimity is about achieving – or seeking to achieve – great deeds; but in everyday usage magnanimity may also be about small things, providing they are small things directed to a great end.

I’ve just spent an exhausting night watching the election results come in; and something particularly struck me at the Election Count in Brighton – the results of the first of the three counts at which did not come in until about 05:00, and the last until just before the Regina Cæli at 06:00.

Why do I mention this ? Well, not because of the election of England’s first Green MP. Fr Ray has already drawn attention to this here; and her remarks after her election, at least about the other parties, could hardly be described as magnanimous.

Instead I’m thinking of the unsuccessful Liberal Democrat candidate in the Brighton Kemptown constituency.

She was obviously, in common with most people, utterly exhausted by 05:30 when her result was declared; and she had not won. I’m sure you are familiar with the pattern; the candidate who has been elected makes a short – and hopefully modest – speech thanking all concerned; and then all the other candidates, in turn, do the same rather more briefly – primarily to thank those who have helped them.

This lady did this : but then turned and wished the newly-elected Conservative candidate well in his parliamentary career – as far as I could tell, the only one of all the candidates in the three Brighton & Hove seats to do so. (Indeed, I can’t think of anyone else who did anywhere; but that may just have been the television editing.)

As I said; she was obviously exhausted, and I am sure she must also have been bitterly disappointed at the result (the Observer, on Sunday, suggested quite strongly that she might win) : but she could find the strength, the courtesy, the graciousness, and the generosity, to wish her opponent well.

It may not be quite the theological virtue of magnanimity that Aquinas meant : but I think it was a good example of traditional British magnanimity in defeat; and I wish she hadn’t been the only person who did it. I am sure it says much for her character that she did it; and I wish her well if only because of that.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Minor Apologies

For letting my Followers and Readers down by more-or-less disappearing for a while.

I'm afraid I have absolutely no excuse to offer except pressure of work : a slightly delayed essay to complete and hand in, and a particularly heavy professional workload including a lot of evening and weekend work for a very mixed lot of people in trouble - a seminarian, a parliamentary candidate, and a destitute mother and child to name but a few.

As they used to say on the BBC when that rather tasteful photo of the (black & white) goldfish appeared, 'Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible' . . .

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Cleansing Fire

With thanks to Carlos Palad at Rorate Caeli, who had a post today about it, I have spent a little time viewing the 'Cleansing Fire' blog.

All I can say is that if it's not a spoof, then it's simply terrifying : but you judge for yourself.