Friday, December 30, 2011

The Tablet quotes Mass of Ages

Not for the first time, I think. They've picked up the article wrtitten by the FSSP seminarian James Mawdelsy about World Youth Day (see cover photo). As I noted in the blog post below, James was a pro-democracy activist in Burma and was imprisoned; he was subdeacon at the Midnight Mass in Reading I attended. I'm not sure The Tablet can quite get its head around someone moving from political activism to a Traditional Seminary...

It has taken them a few weeks to get their hands on a copy of Mass of Ages. LMS members got it at the beginning of November. Don't get left behind!

You can buy your copy of Mass of Ages here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Midnight Mass in Reading

We had a splendid and very well-attended Solemn Mass in Reading for Midnight Mass. Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP was celebrant, Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP deacon and the FSSP Seminarian James Mawdsley subdeacon.
IMG_8572 IMG_8594 IMG_8602

By coincidence I was given a copy of James Mawdsley's extraordinary book, 'The Heart Must Break', for Christmas. It is about his experiences campaigning for democracy in Burma. It is written from a rather different perspective to that of the seminarian of today - it was published in 2001 and he has naturally moved on - but it is very interesting none the less. How many seminarians have been tortured and kept in solitory confinement under a brutal dictatorship?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Christmas humbug

The Introit for Midnight Mass, widely known as one of the most beautiful in the repertoire, has the surprising psalm verse: Quare fremuerunt gentes? Why did the pagans rage?

The verb fremo suggests roaring and growling as well as rage. The birth of Our Lord was not met with universal rejoicing. Good people rejoiced. The wicked were besides themselves with rage. In the Gospel story the wicked have their representative in Herod. But this is a cosmic thing. The same contrasting reactions will be on display when Our Lord comes the second time. The good will rejoice. The wicked will feel very differently. The events which bring God into the world are divisive (Matthew 10.34.)

Down in New Zealand, it seems there are militant liberal Anglicans. It seems they are in the camp of the enraged, and want to destroy the Christmas message. They put up an enormous poster of Our Lady looking, with horror, at a pregnancy test kit. The purpose of this blasphemous image is, I assume, to turn the Christmas story into some boring fable of modern life, but it is motivated by the same hatred of Christ that prompted Communists in the Spanish Civil War to shoot at statues of Our Lord. Only the means used differ: the hoped for result, the destruction of an image of transcendental value and redemption, is the same.

A Catholic layman has cut away the lower part of the image. The Reluctant Sinner, for whom I am indebted for the story, isn't sure if this was morally justified, and wonders if we should turn the other cheek. But tolerating an injustice done to God, and to Our Lady, is not an example of turning our other cheek. It turns the other cheek of the whole of society.

The question remains of what means should be employed to oppose such images. The reaction of secular commentators to this 'direct action' (or can only lefties use that term?) is to condemn Catholics in general as intolerant. I don't think that the reaction of the secularists would be any different whatever means had been used: if a Catholic had invoked religious hatred laws, for example, or picketed the Anglicans, or organised a letter-writing campaign. When Catholics criticise the actions of others they are being intolerant.

If a Catholic church had put up a huge poster attacking, with similar lack of taste, the beliefs or actions of non-Catholics, they would also have been accused, naturally, of intolerance, intolerance of others' beliefs or actions. When Catholics criticise this kind attack on Catholics, they are accused of intolerance: intolerance of the anti-Catholic views of others. So Catholic protests against intolerance are intolerant. In fact, Catholic speech of any kind is intolerant, if it reflects in any way the Christian message, because the Christian message is itself intolerant. Attacks on the Christian message cannot be intolerant, since they are attacks on intolerance. You follow me?

This looks like double standards, and it is. Using the language of tolerance here is humbug. But it is a humbug to which everyone who uses that kind of language contributes, when they try to use it to defend 'religious freedom'. The notion of everyone tolerating everyone else, of a big happy family of diverse opinions, only works as long as there are unspoken limits to the tolerance based on Christian assumptions: incest, paedophilia, Satanism, the latest crazy cult. Twenty years ago these limits were enforced not by reasoned argument but by shared assumption. Everyone just took for granted that we didn't tolerate those things, and that obvious Christian activities (nativity plays in school, street preachers) were ok, and that obvious Christian sensibilities (against blasphemy) should be respected. That's not true any more, and the incoherence of the notion of tolerance is being laid bare. What we are being left with is an official cult of secularism, which cannot tolerate Catholicism, because Catholicism has heavy things to say about right and wrong.

Herod couldn't kill the Christ child, and Christmas comes round again whether the secularists like it or not. Christ comes into the world, and demands our adoration, an adoration which has cost countless Catholics their lives. We may be required to put up with some intolerance ourselves.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Problems with the Reform of the Reform, again

Fr Ray Blake's encounter with a green-ink correspondant, about his extremely cautious experiment with saying Mass ad orientem, illustrates the point I made in this post perfectly: it is usually easier for a priest concerned about increasing the sacrality of parish liturgy to introduce a new Mass in the Extraordinary Form, or even to make one of his existing Masses an EF one, than to raise the standard of the existing Masses along 'Reform of the Reform' lines.

Fr Blake has already done the EF bit, so I'm not criticising him. On the contrary,I think he's being heroic; I also think that, ultimately, this is a necessary thing, even in the OF. No Catholic can read the Holy Father's criticism of worship versus populum in his 'The Spirit of the Liturgy' and then just carry on as normal. The relevant chapter is available to read here; here's a short quote:

The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. 

Let us pray for Fr Ray, the parish of St Mary Magdalen, and the anonymous letter-writer.

Monday, December 19, 2011

FIUV General Assembly

With my full set of photos now available, I thought I'd attampt to give a brief taste of the Una Voce Federation's 'General Assembly' in November. Above are the delegates of the Federation's member associations, with a number of guests, including Cardinal Burke. Below are most of speakers at the conference.
Leo Darroch, President of the Federation, re-elected unopposed at the General Assembly
Monika Rheinschmitt, Treasure, also re-elected.
Don Giuseppe Vallauri, FDP
Don Giuseppe Vallauri then gave a talk upon the ‘private prayers’ of the Priest during Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite
Don Stefano Carusi, IBP
Don Stefano Carusi addressed the Open Forum on the specificity of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, its spirit, and its progress since being erected in 2006.

H.E., Dr. Helmut Ruckriegel
As a member of the FIUV since the very early days, Dr. Ruckriegel was particularly well placed to give a brief history of the foundation, the struggles, the ideals and the future of the FIUV, especially for the benefit of new members of the Federation.

Right Reverend Monsignor Valentín Miserachs Grau.
The Right Reverend Monsignor Valentín Miserachs Grau, President of the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music, addressed the Open Forum on the subject of Sacred Music and the Centenary of the Pontifical Institute which was founded by St. Pius X in 1911.
Fr Joseph Kramer, FSSP
Fr Joseph Kramer, FSSP, Parish Priest of Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, the personal parish for the usus antiquior in Rome, spoke about the present state of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
Rev. Canon Luzuy, ICRSP
The final guest speaker at the Open Forum was Canon Joseph Luzuy, ICRSP, who spoke about the recent developments in the Institute of Christ de King Sovereign Priest, including his own Roman apostolate in the Church of Gesu e Maria on the Via del Corso, and the Basilica of Saint Mary Major and that has now extended into the Diocese of Livorno.
Centre, Mr. Oleg-Michael Martynov (Una Voce Russia), with a number of delegates from his part of the world, including new members of the Federation.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

FIUV General Assembly photos: Solemn and Low Mass on Sunday

On the Sunday of the FIUV General Assembly, we went (as we did in 2009) to the church of the Fraternity of St Peter, Sta Trinita. This is a very lovely church, of which Fr Kramer FSSP is the Parish Priest, and Fr William Barker FSSP his deputy. Although I've already referred to the Solemn Mass we all attended on Sunday morning, and the Low Mass said by Fr Barker I attended the same evening, since I have finally processed my photographs of these Masses here is a small selection. The church was packed for the morning Mass. IMG_8081 IMG_8088 IMG_8095 IMG_8116

More photos of Solemn Mass here. Low Mass, which was preceeded by Benediction and followed by the blessing of a very beautiful catafalque, with the singing of the Libera me. IMG_8175 IMG_8182
IMG_8186 More photos of the Low Mass here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

FIUV General Assembly photos: Pontifical Low Mass in St Peters

I returned from the Una Voce Federation gathering in Rome in November unable to process my photos, so here, finally, they are, first, for the wonderful Pontifical Low Mass was had in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St Peter's, celebrated by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect Emeritus of the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei.

It was the first such Mass I have attended. The first thing to notice is that the celebrant vests in the sanctuary, as at Pontifical Solemn Mass. IMG_7998

You can't see it, but the server next to the Missal for the Gospel had a hand candle (ie in a silver candlestick with a handle) to illuminate the Gospel (again as at Pontifical Solemn Mass).

Cardinal Castrillon preaching. IMG_8005

The choir loft was occupied by some superb singers, who usually sing for the FSSP at Sta Trinita. Although this was a Low Mass, they sang some motets.

Note the cardinal's folded cappa and red biretta left on a prie dieu outside the sanctuary.

The 'Second Confiteor': Cardinal Castrillon gives the absolution. IMG_8027

The Cardinal's red zuchetto (skull cap) is made ready, on a silver tray. They also used a ewer, rather than a little cruet, for the water.

The final blessing.

Having remonved his vestments, the Cardinal is again in his 'day clothes', as it were. IMG_8035

The nave of St Peter's in the late morning is a sea of tourists and pilgrims, taking photos with various electronic devices. The Una Voce delegates returned to our hotel for lunch: with Cardinal Burke. IMG_8036

On disagreeing with bishops

Fr Z reports that a Catholic candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Santorum, has publicly disagreed with the US Conference of bishops, on the subject of immigration. The bishops suggested that, to deal with the huge pool of illegal immigrants already in the United States, they be given the right to stay if they remained in the country for a certain number of years.

“If we develop the program like the Catholic bishops suggested we would be creating a huge magnet for people to come in and break the law some more, we’d be inviting people to cross this border, come into this country and with the expectation that they will be able to stay here permanently,” said Santorum..."

It reminded me of a British politician, John Gummer MP (as he was: he's now Lord Deben), a few years ago. In a speach in the House of Commons in February 2007, he said

"I want to give one example [sc of discrimination] because I happen to disagree with my Church on it, so it is a good example to use. I think that it is right to remove the discrimination against same-sex couples in relation to adoption, but I also think that we should be tolerant of people who do not agree with that."

Gummer had become a Catholic in 1992.

I suppose Tablet-type Catholics would say that they were both entitled to say what they liked, regardless of what their bishops had said on the matter. Left-leaning Catholic liberals (not all liberal Catholics are on the political left) can be surprisingly assertive about the need for other people (not themselves) to obey ecclesiastical pronouncements they happen to like, but this is just tactical. The fundamental view is that if you believe something, it is a matter of conscience; if it is a matter of conscience, then it would wrong for you to act against what you believe. It follows from this facile syllogism that the teaching of the Church should never be followed by anyone on pain of sin, unless by someone who by sheer coincidence happened to agree with it already.

Ultramontanist Catholics would say that both are wrong: the classic proposition of ultramontanism is that the whole gamut of offical teaching is binding on the Catholic, and in both cases we have bishops exercising their teaching office on a matter of public morality, or at least appearing to do so. In each case it is a matter not of doctrine narrowly defined, but of the practical moral implications of doctrine, but if you don't allow bishops (and the Pope) to set out such practical moral implications in an authoritative way then the doctrines will be useless verbal formulae.

A lot of conservative Catholics are attracted by ultramontanism today, in reaction to liberalism. Both positions are mistaken, however. Against liberalism, the point of authoritative teaching is bringing people the light of the Gospel, so that where people once believed the wrong thing, they start believing the right thing. The Church can do this because her teaching is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, and the people are rationally justified in accepting the teaching because they recognise in the Church the voice of Our Lord. In all sorts of ways the Church's authority can be perceived by people of good will: they can see her power to transform lives and make saints, for example; they see supernatural signs accompanying her activity, and they see the intellectual power and coherence of the teaching itself.

Against ultramontanism, the Church distinguishes between binding and non-binding pronouncements with great care, and this distinction is part of her teaching: to ignore it in order to adhere to that teaching more closely is self-defeating. On matters of historical or scientific fact not directly connected with the deposit of Faith, the Church exercises extreme caution: we are never obliged to believe the truth of private revelations, for example. Again, the moral urgency of a bad situation is for bishops and the Pope to point out: the remedy may be obvious (like feeding some starving people), or it may require complex judgements based on human learning and expertise. In the latter case, it is a matters of prudential judgement, and here there is room for legitimate disagreement.

As Fr Z suggests, however much we may disagree with Santorum on his favoured immigration policy (whatever it is), it is hard to deny that exactly what policy will most help actual and potential immigrants and their hosts is a matter of prudential judgement. Economic and political judgement comes into play. Well-meaning policies can be counter-productive.

Gummer/ Lord Deben is on thinner ice. While there are prudential judgements at issue in placing children with adoptive parents, the idea that is a matter of justice, of non-discrimination, that those in civil partnerships be allowed to adopt, is (as the Bishops of England and Wales had pointed out) incompatible with the obligation of adoption agencies to place children in the best possible family. It is also at right-angles to fundamental Catholic teaching on the nature of the family. Again, the very notion of civil partnerships as a quasi-family unit involves the legal recognition of a sexual relationship incompatible with Natural Law. In speaking as he did, Gummer demonstrated a refusal to be docile to a whole raft of Catholic teachings, not as applied to an individual, tricky, practical case, but in principle.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Juventutem London

Another set of photos which has been waiting for for PC to be fixed was that of the Juventutem London Solemn Mass, October 28th. Old news now, but their NEXT Mass will be

taking place at St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street at 6.30pm on 23rd December. Facebook here
At the October Mass, in St Patrick's Soho Square, the celebrant was Fr Simon Leworthy FSSP; deacon, Fr Andrew Southwell; subdeacon, Fr Leon Pereira OP. The Mass was accompanied by the Juventutem London Schola led by Matthew Schellhorn. IMG_7902 IMG_7937

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Annual Mass in Mapledurham

IMG_8372 Due to problems with my PC over the course of the last few weeks I have a backlog of photographs to post. The annual Mass in Mapledurham took place on 26th November.

It is always a joy to hear Mass in the private chapel of this house, which sheltered priests and was the base of a local Catholic mission for centuries after the Reformation. Mass was said for many years in a hidden chapel in the attic. The present chapel was built after the Catholic Relief Act, at the end of the 18th Century.

Fr Anthony Conlon sang the Mass, and the Schola Abelis sang. These photographs show me serving - an unusual occurance, since I am usually singing! Mass was said with 'Low Mass ceremonies', which is to say with just one server, and no incense.
The chapel is 'Strawbery Hill Gothic', the very early, and not very authentic, Gothic revival, which is still very close to the Classical style of many Catholic churches built after the Catholic Relief Act. It thus avoids the 'Non-Conformist Chapel' look of some Catholic churches of the period (which can, of course, also be very attractive in its own way), with a conscious reference to the Catholic Medieval past.
We have a Mass in this chapel each year, thanks to the hospitality of Mr John and Lady Anne Eyston, the heirs of the Blount family who lived in the house throughout 'Penal Times'.

More photos here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gaudete Sunday in St Bede's

On Sunday I was at St Bede's, Clapham Park for the monthly polyphonic Mass. It was of course Gaudete Sunday, and Fr Andrew Southwell was wearing some very splendid Rose vestments. Fr Andrew Pinsent was guest preacher.
IMG_8492 IMG_8501 IMG_8512 The Mass was accompanied as usual by the Cantores Missae, directed by Charles Finch, who sang Mass in honour of Our Lady of Loreto by Vinzenz Goller, Ave Maria by Vinzenz Goller, Ave verum  by W.A. Mozart, and Alma redemptoris mater by  G.P. da Palestrin.

If you've not experienced these Masses with these singers you should go! This is a really unique situation in England and Wales, made possible by a number of benefactors, including the Latin Mass Society.

After Mass I spoke to Br Dominic Mary F.SS.R, a member of the Papa Stronsay community who was passing through: more on that here.

More photos.