Thursday, June 30, 2011

More photos of Chartres

Since I wasn't there myself I have to rely on other's photos. Here is a nice one, from 'Official Photo Album' of Notre Dame de Chretianite, of one of the British chapters, led by James Bogle and [a priest with a surprising resemblance to] Fr Anton Guziel of the Birmingham Oratory.

Another British Chapter includes Br Magdala of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blind Obedience: St Ignatius and St Robert Bellamine

'Pray Tell' blog has a story today about a group of Austrian priests promising a campaign of disobedience. It looks like a systematic attempt to undermine the sacramental priesthood, in which they no longer fully believe. They are (as far as one can tell) following their consciences but I have explained before this isn't enough for their actions to be even subjectively right, let alone objectively so. They are blameworthy for failing to conform their consciences to the teaching of the Church.

The conforming of one's mind to an external authority in Catholic teaching is something which has been the source of a rich seam of anti-Catholic polemic by both Reformation and Enlightenment figures. To make matters worse, in addition to talking of 'corpse-like' obedience (which I have already discussed) St Ignatius used the phrase 'blind obedience' and talked about the subjection not only of the will but the intellect to a human superior. If anything is likely to get the enemies of the Faith to resort to the jibe that Catholicism is anti-intellectual, this is surely it.

In fact of course the Church has been the biggest supporter of education and every kind of intellectual endeavour in history. We need to look more closely at what St Ignatius meant, and how he fits into the wider Tradition.

St Ignatius is talking, in his 'Letter on Perfect Obedience', principally about the obedience of a religious - a member of an order who has taken a vow of obedience - to a superior, but he is aware of the wider implications as well. His point is that perfect obedience goes beyond outward conformity: the subject must make his superior's judgement his own, even if the subject would not have come to that judgement on his own. This is, in fact, necessary: only if you have internalised your superior's mind on a subject will you be able to adapt to changing circumstances or deal with unforeseen challenges in a way which advances the object of the exercise. For the situation St Ignatius is addressing is not one in which robotic, outward obedience will do: he has in mind situations in which his Jesuits are given orders, and then dispatched into jungles, or across deserts or oceans, where they will have to exercise considerable initiative and ingenuity with minimal, or no, further communication from headquarters. They must be able to do this while remaining steadfastly committed to an overall strategy which is also being followed by other, equally isolated Jesuits in a different part of the jungle, or in another Catholic safe house somewhere else in England. Perfect obedience in this sense is what makes it possible for isolated operatives to have a high degree of initiative and self-sufficiency without sacrificing coordination, in a hostile environment.

Just like in military situations? Yes, just like in military situations. It is no accident that St Ignatius had been a soldier and that the Jesuits are often described as having military discipline. The point is that officers in the armed forces are not, even ideally, stupid: they have to think on their feet at the same time as not arguing with strategic and tactical decisions made by superiors. If you think about why this is necessary in warfare, you should be able to see why this is necessary for the Church militant as well. As with 'corpse-like obedience', the primary application here is not matters of faith, but practical issues. When matters of faith come in, then the problems start.

And so they did. It so happens that the Letter on Perfect Obedience was quoted against the Jesuits in the time of St Ignatius' successor, and the whole issue was investigated by the Holy See. It was pointed out that if Catholics are taught this notion of obedience then they are likely to follow straying bishops and priests into heresy. The great St Robert Bellarmine, a Jesuit himself, addressed this problem as follows:

If the danger in question is to be measured by the obedience of religious, much more should it be measured by the obedience of the simple people, who listen to their pastors or bishops preaching publicly and with all the adjuncta of authority. For although the people take no vow of obedience to their pastors or bishops, they are still bound to obey them according to the teaching of St. Paul. So that, willing or not, they have to render them blind obedience and credence in those things which are not obvious to them already. Of course it can happen that a bishop or priest may be a secret heretic, trying to seduce the people and propagate his heresy. But God Himself and the vigilance of other pastors of souls will not permit this to go on for very long before it is properly referred to the judgment of the Holy See. Moreover, even though somewhere, by God's permission, a credulous people should be easily seduced by their pastor, no Catholic would dare say that therefore the people should be discouraged from obeying their prelates, or should themselves become judges of their pastors, and decide on the doctrine that is being preached to them. We know from present experience among the Lutherans that the danger of heresy is far greater by making this kind of concession to human liberty, than it will ever be from the simple obedience of the people. . . . Consequently, if the ordinary faithful must simply trust their pastors in the things which appertain to God, and render them corresponding obedience and respect, much more should religious obey and be subject to their superiors, perfectly and simply, and in that sense blindly, in whatever does not manifestly contravene the law of God.

This passage, one might say, tells you everything you need to know about the post-Tridentine Church. First, watch out for the caveats: the people 'have to render them blind obedience and credence in those things which are not obvious to them already.' Obedience extends to 'whatever does not manifestly contravene the law of God'. This is not the 'leave your brains by the door' obedience: for all that Bellarmine says the simple Catholic should not 'be the judges of their pastors', they are to judge at least that what these pastors say is in conformity with what they securely know of the faith, what is obvious to them.

But second, the strategy here is not to rely on the education of the simple people to make them more acute judges (to extend the range of what is 'obvious' for them), but to rely on centralisation: appeal to the Holy See. It should not be said that the Counter-Reformation neglected the religious education of the people: on the contrary, never had there been such a mammoth effort of publishing, school-building, and catechising as was put into motion by Trent, above all by the Jesuits. But while vast quantities of sound doctrine were shovelled into the attentive ears of schoolchildren from Tipperary to Shanghai, the culture which emerged seemed to place obedience of thought to superiors above that sensus catholicus which would enable them to withstand a widespread apostacy.

The simple Catholics who resisted the English Reformation despite nearly all the bishops giving way - those who hid the holy images and the old books, and even rose up against the imposition of the Prayer Book - they kept the faith alive in England, and provided a congregation for the Jesuits and other priests when they arrived in England. They did what St Athanasius did, and what good Catholics have always done in resistance to fashionable heresy. But this indomitable spirit was noticably absent in the 1960s and later when Catholics heard teachers and priests teaching faddish rubbish. And, sadly for the Bellarmine strategy, the central authority of the Church had simultaneously ceased to function.

Just one illustrative anecdote. In the dark days following Vatican II Michael Davies heard of a nun giving talks to adults in a parish about the Faith who had taught that there was no real change in the bread and wine at Mass. He joined the audience at the next talk and (not being recognised) asked a question, quoting Pope Paul VI's Mysterium Fidei. The nun was flustered and backtracked. Another audience member stood up indignantly to remind her of what she had said the previous week against transubstantiation.

The point here is that there had been no outcry against this teaching the previous week. The good and well-catechised Catholics present had simply accepted that Vatican II had made some changes and lapped it up. Bellarmine would have been horrified - transubstantiation should have been sufficiently 'obvious'; he had in mind a much more subtle and gradual undermining of the faith by a 'secret heretic'. But these Catholics gave way without a struggle all the same. And thereby hangs a tale.

Pictures: St Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church; bottom, the late Michael Davies. In between, a couple of pieces of crude anti-religious propaganda.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gloria TV on The Tablet and altar girls

Just watch this, it will brighten your day (unless you are the person deputed by The Tablet to watch my blog).

Especially from just over half-way through.

She really enjoys saying that last paragraph of Annie Mackie-Savage's letter.

Anglicanism as a car crash

An interesting post from the Anglo-Catholic blog: those coming over to Rome through the Ordinariate are like the survivors of a car crash.

It reminds me of Cardinal Newman's quotation of psalm 124, in a letter to a newspaper after it had been suggested that he might go back to the Church of England: laquaeus contritus est: my soul is like a bird escaped from the fowler's trap: the snare is broken, and I am escaped.

I saw this oddly apposite sign on the door of an Anglican church in a neighbouring village, a medieval church with some marvellous medieval wall paintings which had been painted over for centuries and are now uncovered. I can never understand how Anglicans can view the glories of Medieval Catholicism in their own churches and feel comfortable with Anglicanism.

Escape, little birds, while you can! And don't let anyone else in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stupidest argument ever about clerical abuse

The Tablet has been desperate to fit the clerical abuse phenomenon into the liberal narrative. Remember, that goes 'everything before the Coucil was bad (except the things and people who anticipated it): everything after it was wonderful (except for the things and people who resisted it)'. One of the bad things about the bad old days was taking morality seriously, especially sexual morality. What a relief that's all over now! All that guilt, all that nonsense stopping people be themselves and find their sexual identity.

The hugely influential theory of Dr Alfred Kinsey that we are all 'sexual', we all want and need sex all the time, including children (who suffered horribly in his experiments) was enthusiastically taken forward by progressives in the Church and the ideal of celibacy has come under ceaseless attack. Kinsey published his book on how men are having it off all the time (based on seriously flawed research methods) in 1948. It built on the theories of Freud (active in the 1920s and 1930s); the idea that sexual morality is a superstition for uneducated people goes back to the Enlightenment: think of Oscar Wilde or William Blake. This stuff was being soaked up by plenty of people in the Church before the Council, but only when the old text books had been tossed in the bin could it really flourish unimpeded.

(To illustrate: Arnold Lunn did a major investigation in the English Public Schools' attitude to religion, publishing a book about it in 1933. He found that the masters, chaplains and boys had completely lost the idea that there was anything intrinsically wrong with sex outside marriage: only in Catholic schools was that idea being upheld. So from the 1920s, or even earlier, the Catholic Church was an isolated exception to changing social mores. This isolation became harder to sustain as time went on.)

Whoops! People letting it all hang out can damage the innocent. There have always been depraved clerics but the tidal wave of filth which has engulfed the Church from the 1950s to the 1980s obviously has something to do with this decidedly un-old-fashioned approach to sexuality. So what does The Tablet say?

The leading article takes its start from the revelations about the Rosminian order, and the argument goes like this.

1. In the old days, the theology of the priesthood was such that transgressions by priests were taken very seriously. (True: but where is this going?)

2. So, in the old days, when a priest abused a child the priest's sin was seen as more important than the suffering of the child. (Dubious. But so what?)

3. So, in order to take seriously the suffering of the children, we must resist the traditional theology of the priesthood. (Non sequitur.)

The editorial's key line is that the Rosminian superiors, and others like them, were 'blinded by the lesser evil', ie the evil of the priest's sin. This is, well, prima facie evidence of cognitive dissonance.

The superiors didn't think that the crime of priestly abusers was so serious that they never got round to thinking about the victims. That just doesn't make any sense. As we all know, and people of that generation are happy to remind us, these crimes were not regarded as terribly serious at all. The reason the priests were moved to another school or parish and so forth was that it was regarded as an embarassing peccadillo, like getting drunk and offending the Lord Mayor's wife. Being forward-looking people, the Rosminian superiors of the 1950s refused to take sexual sin seriously: just like The Tablet today.

See also my posts about The Tablet on clericalism (they published a letter of mine) and on how progressive ideas about sexuality were imposed on priests, religious and catholic teachers by systematic re-education in the 1960s.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Juventutem Mass at St Patrick's Soho Square

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On Friday evening Juventutem London had a really splendid Mass in St Patrick's Soho Square, thanks to the hospitality of the parish priest, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke. The church has recently been reopened after a very extensive restoration, which among other things has made Mass ad orientem possible once more in the sanctuary.
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It was a Solemn Mass. Fr Patrick Hayward was celebrant, Fr Seán Finnegan deacon, Fr Tim Finigan subdeacon. Fr Aidan Nichols OP preached and Fr Ray Blake heard confessions. Mass was very well attended, and a large group of us went to dinner together afterwards. Bones was there too - what with Juventutem London and Juventutem Oxford it was quite a blognic in fact!
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The Mass was accompanied by the Schola Abelis with chant and polyphony.
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Here's a little Finigan/Finnegan revision for my readers.
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Fr Finnegan on the left, Fr Finigan on the right! Fr Hayward in the middle. A hearty thanks to all of them!

There are more photographs here (slideshow).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Corpus Christi at SS Gregory & Augustine

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Some pictures: more here. We had polyphony for the Ordinary, including a polyphonic Credo: I'll try to get some videos up soon, with the help of a new external hard disk: videos take up so much room!
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Mass was followed by a procesion (inside the church) and Benediction.

Tour of London's Marian Shrines

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Matthew of LMS Southwark North has proposed a form of multi-shrine pilgrimage, along the lines of the traditional devotion of the Seven Altars in Rome, for London, so he and I and a couple of others spent much of Wednesday travelling around London on the Tube looking at Marian shrines, with a view to thinking about what would make sense from a devotional and transport point of view.

We started naturally with Our Lady of Westminster in the Cathedral, and had a look at the fine modern statue of Our Lady of Pew in Westminster Abbey down the road.
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We went to the church of the English Martyrs church near the Tower of London but it is currently closed for refurbishment.
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We then embarked on the long journey to the shrine of Our Lady of Willesden. This is a refounded Medieval shrine, and one of considerable importance, dating back to the 13th Century. It has an excellent shrine image, though the shrine chapel is sadly stripped of traditional furnishings.
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It is interesting to see the arrows embedded in the pavement which lead people from the direction of the tube station to the shrine.
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We then went to the impressive shrine of Our Lady in Our Lady and St Gregory in Warwick Street. This shows you what a Catholic shrine traditionally looks like. I hear that it once had not only the silver 'ex voto' offerings indicating answered prayers, but a collection of crutches from those who had experienced a cure thanks to the intercession of Our Lady here.
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For a completely bonkers take on some other events in that church, have a look at the Bones.

The proposed pilgrimage will need a lot of planning but it is an interesting idea and I hope it works out.

More photos here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is The Tablet misogynistic?

Below is a letter published today in The Tablet, in response to their leading article (and other articles) on the use of Altar Girls at the Traditional Mass, from Annie Mackie-Savage, the Latin Mass Society Representative for the diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The bit in red is the bit they refused to print.

As a woman who acts as a local representative in Arundel and Brighton of the Latin Mass Society, I find your claim (Leader, 18 June) that not allowing female altar servers at the Extraordinary Form insults me is quite absurd.

I challenge you to provide your readers with evidence for this bizarre claim that the tradition of male altar service has anything to do with “ritual uncleanliness” (sic). On the contrary, this tradition is quite obviously a reflection of the fact that only men can be ordained as priests, and it is because male service at the altar emphasises the different roles of the sexes in relation to the sacrifice of the Mass that it has special value. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass represents the preservation for future generations of this and many other venerable traditions, and it is for this reason described by Pope Benedict as a “treasure” for the whole Church.

Before you reject these traditions as ‘insulting’ you should reflect on the fact that they formed the basis of the liturgical life of women, as well as men, for countless centuries. Is it not more insulting to women to picture us as helpless and passive oppressed victims of a misogynistic Church for nineteen centuries? Give us a little more credit than that.

Annie Mackie-Savage
Eastbourne, East Sussex

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ordinations for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

From Rorate Caeli:

Ordinations for the Institute of Christ the King

Perepiscopus notes that for this year, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest will have four new priests (three Frenchmen and one Italian), who will be ordained by H.E. Raymond Cardinal Burke, who is singularly close to the Institute. (In comparison, the ICRSS had three new priests in 2010 and five in 2009.)

This is wonderful news for these young men, for the Institute, and for the whole Church.

There are English men also at the Institute's seminary, which is growing quickly, and the Institute is soon to take possession of the Church of SS Peter & Paul, New Brighton, in the Wirral. Please say a prayer for the ordinands, the seminarians and this new English apostolate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comment on the PEEP fiasco

I've avoided commenting on the cancellation of the Faith of Our Fathers Conference organised by Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (PEEP) because it has nothing to do with me or the LMS, and Daphne McLeod and the PEEP Committee have already paid handsomely for their mistakes. William Oddie's recent blog post has got things so back to front, however, that I feel I must say something.

According to Dr Oddie's narrative, Mrs McLeod is a voice of moderation in an organisation beseiged by traditionalist nutters, and she needs to clear them out to avoid PEEP disapearing into a black hole. The basis of this idea is McLeod's habit of attacking traditionalists from time to time.

(She does this because she believes that bad catechesis is the sole cause of the problems in the Church today; Oddie agrees, unlike the Holy Father when he wrote (in Milestones) 'I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy'.)

Oddie's narrative is derailed in his own comments box by Daphne McLeod herself, who takes full personal responsibility for the decision to invite the two speakers whose reputations caused the Rev Swindle, the booking manager of Westminster Central Hall where the conference was due to take place, to decide that the talks would not be in accordance with Methodist doctrine - whatever that might be - namely Fr Paul Kramer and Robert Sungenis. She equally took responsibility for the advertisement which promoted the talk to be given by Cardinal Burke which said that the Bishops of England and Wales are 'intransigent', a description which led Cardinal Burke to pull out.

This taking of responsibility is an example of the honour and courage for which Daphne McLeod is so well known. It also reflects the reality of the organisation: PEEP is essentially a vehicle for Daphne McLeod. The notion of her being led astray or put under pressure by dark forces within or without her organisation is laughable, as anyone familiar with it or her could attest.

Daphne McLeod is not a traditionalist. Not all the people who get carried away into injudicious public remarks about the Bishops are traditionalists. Not everyone who gets caught up in the nightmare world of conspiracy theories is a traditionalist, or indeed even a Catholic: indeed, most are not. If Oddie thinks that you can insulate yourself from the nutters by shunning the Traditional Mass, the PEEP fiasco ought to show him that you can't.

Reflect on this. When we heard that Cardinal Burke had agreed to address the conference, there was talk, which later faded away, of his saying a Traditional Mass while in London. Well the LMS knows a thing or two about the liturgy in the Extraordinary Form, so we offered to help with that side of things. Daphne McLeod made it quite clear that she didn't want to have anything to do with us: she didn't want us associated with the conference, or Cardinal Burke's trip, in any way. Fair enough: it was her train set, as they say. But if we had had any involvement with the proceedings, and had had any influence over them, we would certainly not have allowed the frankly idiotic advertisement wording or the appallingly misguided choice of replacement speakers. I don't know much about Kramer and Sungenis, but I know they are widely regarded as dangerous lunatics, and with justification.

They are on the lunatic fringe. I think it is rather insulting to call them 'radtrads', but the main point is that their supporters are numerically negligable. They cross-fertilise with secularist anti-semites, Protestant creationists, 'birthers' and every kind of fruit-cake on the internet. Is this scene attractive to mainstream traditionalist groups? Has it got a grip on the typical EF congregation? The answer to both is an emphatic 'no'.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our A&B Rep takes on The Tablet

Annie of the Arundel & Brighton Latin Mass Society blog takes on The Bitter Pill with characteristic gusto:

"I have never ever felt second class in the Catholic church because of a male priesthood. In the eyes of some people this probably tars me as a no-brainer with an inability to see 'unfairness' when it's staring me in the face every time I'm at Mass. Er, no, actually it means I believe Priests should be male, and will always be male. Oddly, that's what the Church teaches."

See the whole post. Let's see if the Editrix of that appalling publication has the courage to publish Annie's letter...

Pilgimage to Stonor

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On Trinity Sunday the Latin Mass Society's first pilgrimage to Stonor took place. With the kind permission of Thomas, Lord Camoys, we had a Sung Mass in the medieval chapel, attached to this great house where the lamp of the Catholic faith was never extinguished, even in the darkest days of the persecution.

(This photo is from here.)

Although dating back to the 13th Century the interior was remodelled in the 18th Century in the 'Strawbery Hill Gothick' style, the style of two other Recusant Catholic chapels where the LMS regularly has Masses in Oxfordshire: Milton Manor and Mapledurham. Those two chapels have essentially flat ceilings, and it is interesting to see the 'gothic effect' plaster panels superimposed on a genuine Gothic ceiling. This decoration dates from 1759, with additions in 1797.

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The chapel is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, so this was its patronal feast.

The Mass was accompanied with chant by the Schola Abelis.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Repentant Fogeys

The strange attitude of Dr John Casey to the use of altar girls at the Traditional Mass (displayed in The Tablet) set me wondering, as they say, about where he is 'coming from'. Dr Casey himself tells us that he lost the faith in his youth and returned to it only thanks to Summorum Pontificum. He clearly has a very strong emotional link with the Traditional Mass, but is quick to condemn others who have a love for it, calling the opponents of Altar Girls (who are backed, remember, by the Holy See) as 'dissidents', 'rubricists', 'ideologues' and 'misogynists'. Isn't this a bit over the top?

Something very similar is on display with the Stuart Reid, a regular columnist for the Catholic Herald, who has covered the issue more than once. Regular readers of his column have often been told of his love of the Traditional liturgy, but he has enormous suspicion of others who love it. He tells us of those who disagree about altar girls that they 'look for the total capitulation of the Novus Ordo', that they should 'abandon the Church and join the SSPX', that they are 'not on [Pope] Benedict's team' (Catholic Herald, 27th May). Again, this all seems a bit over the top.

Here's a third example: Dr Raymond Edwards, author of a CTS pamphlet entitled 'Catholic Traditionalism'. Dr Edwards tells us that he used to go to the Traditional Mass a lot, and now goes occasionally. He clearly likes it. But he really dislikes Traditionalists: he cannot bring himself to mention any group of them without a snarl. Ignoring completely the quiet work the Latin Mass Society in campaigning for the Traditional Mass within the structures of the Church, he pours scorn on Archbishop Lefebvre, the SSPX, the Sons of the Holy Redeemer, and the Institute of the Good Shepherd in France. Cardinal Castrillon's claim that the SSPX are not, properly speaking, in schism clearly spoils Dr Edwards' fun, so the Cardinal's opinion is dismissed with disdain. Dr Edwards is, however, equally if not more embittered about what Archbishop Bugnini did to the liturgy, and compares the actions of the Bishops of England and Wales in the 1970s to the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Steady on, old chap!

What do these three men have in common? Well, what were they doing a couple of decades ago, in the 1980s and thereabouts? Dr Casey was at that time the toast of the right-wing Monday Club tendency among Cambridge undergraduates. Stuart Reid was campaigning openly for Archbishop Lefebvre. Dr Edwards, a younger man, was (I hear from multiple sources) the most reactionary young fogey in Oxford, in the days when standards were high.

Today, all of them repent of these excesses. But when they look at Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass, is it too speculative to imagine that their perception is tinged by their memory of own younger selves? Having emerged from various forms of emotionally charged extremism, they find it difficult to imagine people who are taking the Church's liturgical traditions seriously doing so without mixing it up with fevered nonsense about wider issues in the Church or in politics, and with an eye to their own inadequacies.

The fact is that the Traditional movement in England was never captured by fogeys in pith helmets. It has always been dominated by a quite different demographic, notably large families. This is even more true today than it was in former decades. Messrs Casey, Reid and Edwards find it difficult to grasp this.

The tragedy is that they think they are uniquely qualified to judge traditionalists. 'Been there, done that!' they say - 'I know this lot: they are a bunch of nutters.' In reality, they are uniquely ill-qualified to judge them. If they had any sense they would deal with their inner demons in private, and keep their embittered view about their fellow Catholics to themselves.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Solemn Mass at St Anthony of Padua, Headington

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On Thursday there was a truly magnificent Mass in the Church of St Anthony of Padua, in Headington, Oxford. In what is one of Oxford's most modern church (surpassed in fact only by Holy Rood in south Oxford, which unlike most of the city is in Portsmouth diocese), we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Church with the immemorial Mass in its Solemn form, with deacon and subdeacon. The Schola Abelis accompanied the Mass with Gregorian Chant.
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Fr Aldo Tapparo, the parish priest, was celebrant, Br Nicholas Edmonds-Smith deacon (he has in fact recently been ordained to the diaconate), and Fr Anton Webb subdeacon. Br Nicholas preached on St Anthony.
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At the end of Mass we venerated a relic of St Anthony of Padua, and we enjoyed a meal together in the parish hall. (The splendid vestments belong to the Oxford Oratory.)
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In the lead up to the anniversary Fr Tapparo has redecorated the church to great effect (this is what it used to look like). This was a wonderful way to mark the occasion.

On 11th July the Centenary of SS Edmund & Frideswide (Greyfriars), in the Ifley Road, Oxford, now looked after by the Capuchin Franciscans, will be marked by a traditional Missa Cantata also celebrated by Fr Tapparo, at 7pm. The Traditional Mass is a important part of the future for Oxford's churches.

More photos of the Mass at St Anthony's.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What's eating The Tablet?

My weekly penance - usually performed on a Friday, though since I was busy yesterday it is appropriate enough to do it today, an Ember Saturday - of looking through The Tablet has revealed a remarkable outpouring of hatred towards the traditions of the Church, the authority of the Holy See, and Catholics attached to the Traditional Mass, roughly in that order. The subject which has aroused this tsunami of poorly written vitriol - a feature article by John Casey, a leading article, three letters - is the subject of the reiteration by the competant authorities that females may not be used as servers at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

The leading article solemnly assures us that this ruling reveals a 'hidden agenda' by 'troublemakers' which amounts to 'misogyny, or worse'. (Is anything worse than misogyny, I wonder?) It might amuse the Holy Father and Mgr Pozzo, who authorised the clarificatory document Universa Ecclesia and wrote a letter making the issue clearer still, respectively, to be described as 'troublemakers'; anyway I thought that making trouble was The Tablet's job. Not for them the stodgy certainties of worn out intellectual fashion: isn't that the idea? Now, it seems, it is Traditionalists who are 'comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable', as one favourite glib liberal phrase has it.

The main complaint is that there are 'no theological arguments' against women serving at Mass, and that this has been affirmed by the 1994 ruling allowing them. A supplementary line is the claim that the reason the Church forbade them for 19 centuries is that they were regarded as 'ritually impure', a claim which is 'insulting' to all women. I challenge The Tablet and its supporters to provide a shred of evidence that notions of ritual impurity were used as a justification for not having altar girls before 1994.

As a service to perplexed liberals I have already set out arguments against female altar servers, on this blog. John Casey refers to this blog as the place where the letter from the PCED has been posted. At the bottom of that very post I link to three earlier posts giving arguments against altar girls, links he must have resisted clicking on in order to claim that there were no arguments.

That looks like intellectual dishonesty to me.

By all means disagree with the arguments - let's have a debate about it. But The Tablet's consistent line is that there are no arguments, and this can only be maintained by a bizarre liberal 'custody of the eyes': never read your opponents, never read the magisterial documents, pretend they don't exist. It is exactly the same argument which they use on contraception: there are no arguments against the Pill. It doesn't matter how many books are written by orthodox theologians on the subject, the liberals will always claim that there are no arguments, because they refuse to read them.

We will never know what Dr Casey or Catherine Pepinster or the various writers of enraged letters to their letters page think about the disastrous effect of female servers on vocations to the priesthood, or about the different roles of the sexes in the economy of salvation, because even to acknowledge these arguments would be too much courtesy to their opponents. And naturally, refusing to address them spares them the embarrassment of admitting that they cannot answer them.

The previous edition of The Tablet contained a thinly veiled call for female priests - isn't that a coincidence? A long article by Elena Curti quoted several proponents of women's ordination, and not a single opponent, in order to conclude that there are really no arguments against the ordination of women. This is The Tablet's 'hidden agenda': or not so hidden. Those who think they can uphold female altar service as anything other than an exception to the norm - which is what it is under Church law today - without supporting the ordination of women as priests are going to find they have no place to stand.(Photo from the Bad Vestment blog).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Private View

This is my annual shameless plug for my mother's Open Studio exhibition, part of the Chiswick Mall weekend of Open Studios. I'm at the private view; the studios are open to all over the weekend.

Here is one of the paintings with a religious subject - the Entry into Jerusalem.

There are lots of others - domestic and street scenes, pictures of the Scottish Highlands and still lives. Here's a small one.

It's at Cedar House on the Chiswick Mall; she paints as Anthea Craigmyle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The limits of tolerance

Please sign the petition to Cardinal Schonborn against this 'Western Mass'; have a look at what Fr Tim Finigan has to say about it, and watch the GloriaTV clip he's got: all here.

Why are sane people like Fr Tim even thinking about what a Cardinal has permitted to take place on an island in the Danube? Because the liturgical abuses which are integral to this celebration are a scandal to all Catholics, and all Catholics have a duty to oppose them: if, that is, they know about them and can do something about them. The internet has fulfilled these two conditions for us.

Why do some liberal Catholics oppose celebrations of the Traditional Mass, even when they are not obliged to attend and the celebration of it in no way inconveniences them? The answer is given by the Holy Father, in his brilliant contribution to the Fontgombault liturgical conference in 2001. Speaking of the rejection of the language of 'sacrifice' in the context of the Mass, he explained:

"It is only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent, that the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, after the liturgical reform, can be understood. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the strongest, and thus (for them) the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its value." (Full article.)

The very toleration of the Traditional Mass is a scandal, a rebuke, to those who reject the Church's teaching on the essential nature of the Mass. Even to tolerate it is make too much of a concession, for the people referred to by the then Cardinal Ratzinger.

This gives the struggle for a restoration of the Church's liturgical traditions a greater significance than simply aesthetics, nostalgia, or even personal spiritual benefit. It is a service to the Church because to celebrate the 1962 Mass is ipso facto to re-emphasise the Church's teaching on the sacrificial nature of the Mass, a teaching which is sorely needed today.

But to return to the parallel, or lack of parallel, between traditionalists and liberals, which I have discussed before: what traditionalists can't tolerate is the negation of the Church's teachings; what the liberals can't tolerate is the re-affirmation of the Church's teachings. Make of that what you will.

Corpse-like obedience: St Ignatius and St Francis

St Ignatius of Loyola is often quoted as saying that the Jesuits should have 'corpse-like' obedience, to their superiors and of course to the Pope. (He uses the phrase is his Constitutions in 1540.) This is a puzzling simile: why a corpse? The obvious simile for a very strong type of obedience would be that of a slave. But St Ignatius does not say that Jesuits or anyone else should have the attitude of slaves towards human authorities - if he had he would, of course, have been contradicting the tradition of the Church. The authority which corresponds to slavish obedience is tyrannical, and that is not something any religious superior or the Holy Father would ever wish to lay claim to. So what does corpse-like obedience mean? Corpses, one might think, don't make very effective servants.

I have been reading the Life of St Francis by St Bonaventure, and I came across a passage which is highly likely to have been familiar to St Ignatius; it is reasonable to think it is the source of the simile, or at least one source. St Francis' use of the simile is a way of exploring the connection between obedience and humility.

From Bonaventure's Life of St Francis, Ch 6 section 4

When once it was enquired of him what man should be esteemed truly obedient, he set before them as an ensample the similitude of a dead body. "Lift up," saith he, "a dead body, and place it where thou wilt. Thou shalt see it will not murmur at being moved, it will not complain of where it is set, it will not cry out if left there. If it be set in a lofty seat, it will look not up, but down. If it be clad in purple, it but reboubleth its pallor. This (he saith) is the truly obedient man, who reasoneth not why he is moved, who urgeth not that he should be transferred; who, when set in authority, preserveth his wonted humility, and the more he is honoured, considereth himself the more unworthy.'

This is the kind of obedience, of course, of vital interest to religious superiors: that their people go where they are sent and perform the jobs they are told to perform, without complaining. This what St Ignatius was offering to the Papacy: a body of men who would implement his initiatives and address his priorities.

It has not, in fact, got anything to do with assent to truths proposed for belief by the teaching authority of the Church, nor does it shed any light on the problem of 'Indiscreet Obedience' I have discussed elsewhere. It is an important strand in the virtue of obedience, but not the only one.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chant and 15th Century Polyphony for the Newman Society

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The Newman Society had its Termly Mass last week and I have just finished uploading some videos of it. It was a Traditional Solemn Mass at the Oxford Oratory; the celebrant was Fr Joseph Welch. It was accompanied by the Schola Abelis, and if you haven't heard them here is a nice sample. They are singing a polyphonic Agnus Dei by one of the greatest composers of the late Middle Ages, Dufay, followed by the Chant Communion antiphon (it is a Votive Mass of the Holy Angels), itself followed by a Dufay motet.

There are more videos on the Schola's blog, and more photos of the Mass here.

Fra’ Fredrik Crichton-Stuart, RIP

'Fra Freddie' was at different times Chairman of Una Voce Scotland and President of the International Una Voce Federation; at the time of his death he was Grand Prior of England, of the Knights of Malta.

He was also a major benefactor, through one of the charitable trusts he was involved with, of the St Catherine's Trust Summer School.

An indefatigible worker for the Church's traditions, and for the corporal works of mercy for which the Order of Malta was founded.

May he rest in peace.

More on the Una Voce Scotland connection; the Una Voce Federation connection, and the Order of Malta connection.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Well done to the Chartres pilgrims!

Today they are coming home. Well done to everyone who did the pilgrimage, and particularly the heroic priests - here's a photo by Fr Bede Rowe of some of his fellow English chaplains.

Fr Rowe has been doing a little running commentary from his IPhone (as I did last year); there are more photos on the New Liturgical Movement.

Ave Maria University

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As well as visiting Denton I spent some time in Florida visiting friends. I stayed at Ave Maria University, and gave a paper there which was fun. 'AMU' is one of a group of recently founded Catholic universities which are trying to recapture the Catholic values which have apparently been lost in many if not all of the most famous Catholic institutions. These new foundations can be broadly characterised as 'neo-Conservative' in their approach; Fr Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press and one of the best-known spokesmen for this strand of opinion in the English-speaking world was the chaplain here for some years. The Oratory (as they call it) at AMU presents an interesting contrast to the (equally new) chapels at Denton and the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph at Valparaiso nearby.
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The altar is placed so Mass can easily be said 'ad orientem'. [Corrected: see comments.] (The Traditional Mass is available every Sunday at 12.30pm.) The chapel is far, however, from traditional in its form; the best description might be a neoGothic rendered in steel girders. The altar has no reredos to speak of, but a series of gigantic statues stand on either side, and the interior of the church is dominated by a huge crucifix. Far bigger than life size, the nails pass through Our Lord's wrists and his body is characterised by oddly exagerated bones, muscles and veins. Here is someone else's close-up of it:
Crucifix inside the oratory
There are no side altars or shrines; there are places to light candles, but the do not correspond to any of the devotional images in the church. They sit under the first and last of the Stations of the Cross; I think the idea is that you are lighting your candle before the Tabernacle. There are, however, a large number of confessionals, and these line the church on each side.
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While impressive the whole thing seems to me to lack the spirit of devotion and human scale. I think it is interesting that although the Oratory is daring in design and large in size the architect did not think of buying an existing altar for it. Old altars, some of great artistic merit and with accompanying reredos, baldachinos and all the rest are available in North America as in Europe, having been stripped out of demolished (or radically re-ordered) churches. What a joy it is to see some of these as the centre-pieces of new churches and chapels which are continuing the same religion, and the same artistic and devotional traditions, as the artists and donors who created these wonderful things many years ago. In Ave Maria it is certainly the same religion, but the artistic and devotional traditions have been ruptured.
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The chapel of the Convent of Jesus Mary and Joseph near Denton, with an altar which had been in storage for many years before finding this new home.
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The altar of the chapel of the Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, originating in a church in Quebec. Yes, it can be done!

More photos of AMU here.