Thursday, November 28, 2013

Oh to be proved wrong

When Gerhard Müller was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Mgr Basil Loftus was on cloud nine. Archbishop Müller was criticised by some conservatives for things he had written in a work of speculative theology only available in German. Such criticisms were ambrosia to our good Monsignor.

On the 8 July 2012, he gave his assessment of where the critics were going wrong. ‘Quite simply, he [Archbishop Müller] is profoundly scholarly and spiritual, and they [his critics] are not.’

If only life were so simple. A year and a week later, after Archbishop Müller came out strongly against changing the Church's discipline to allow divorced and re-married Catholics (unrepentant ones, that is) to receive Holy Communion, Loftus changed his tune.

He wrote, on 14 July 2013: ‘Quite honestly, if the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, of which he is Prefect, sees its roles as setting limits to God’s Mercy, then it is not fit for purpose.’

Loftus doesn't burden his readers with the fact that this represents a complete turnaround. But there are a couple of things we can learn from this debacle.

I don't mean that Loftus is fallible. We knew that already.

Müller was never like Loftus. His views on the Virgin Birth may be controversial, but - as far as I know - they were contributions to a theological debate, not published in a newspaper available to the Faithful at the back of church. Part of the picture we had of Müller from the start was his opposition to radical dissident groups like 'We Are Church'. Loftus' euphoria blinded him to this.

Müller is now going to be tarred and feathered, like so many of his predecessors in his office, by extreme progressives, as a stick-in-the-mud. His nuanced view of the Virgin Birth is going to be irrelevant. With the burning of Pope Francis in effigy by feminists in Argentina, we are beginning to see the same thing happening to him.

Sadly for the likes of Mgr Loftus, Müller is, fundamentally, a Catholic. And so is Pope Francis. He shouldn't be surprised. But he will be.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Loftus attacks more Bishops


Mgr Basil Loftus excels himself in last weekend's column: The Catholic Times, 24th November 2013.

'These excesses [French monarchism, the Order of St Lazarus] are fortunately peripheral in Britain, but we do see churches dedicated exclusively to the celebration of the Tridentine-rite liturgy which sometimes ignore strict prohibitions on the use of thrones and canopies, on the vesting of bishops in the sanctuary rather than in the sacristy, on the washing of a bishop's hands with Jeeves-like servants and on the continuing cult of non-existent saints such as Philomena, who has been banned from every calendar in the world, only to become a cult figure for the opponents of liturgical reform. The totems of opposition to post-conciliar Kingdom liturgy are erected in several places where Tridentine-rite liturgy is permitted, even here in Britain.


Now hang on a minute. Under certain conditions, according to the 1962 books specified by the legislation governing the Extraordinary Form, bishops can vest in the sanctuary. Those are the rules. It is not 'strictly forbidden': that is a fantasy. Anyway, I though Loftus hated it when people insisted on rubrical exactness? Oh, only selectively. When it suits him, he uses imaginary liturgical legislation to attack some of our English bishops: shown here are Bishop McMahon of Nottingham, and Bishop Drainey of Middlesbrough. Are they dangerous extremists, Mgr? (The places these Masses are taking place, incidentally, are not even regularly used for the EF, let alone exclusively: the chapel of Ratcliffe College, and St Wilfrid's in York.)

Bishop McMahon vests in the Sanctuary: more photos
But what's this about multiple churches where only the Traditional Mass is celebrated? I know of none: not one. (Loftus talks about it being 'permitted', so we are not talking about SSPX places of worship.) In SS Peter and Paul and St Philomena, where the Institute of Christ the King say Mass in the Wirral, the Ordinary Form is also celebrated once a week (on Fridays: look at their weekly newsletter). No other church in Britain comes close to this level of dedication to the EF: wherever else the EF is celebrated, it is in a church belonging to an standard Ordinary Form parish, with the exception of a handful of private chapels, inside the homes of priests belonging to the Traditional Priestly societies, or in the Orkneys belonging to the Sons of the Holy Holy Redeemer.

(I've addressed Loftus' drivel about St Philomena here.)

Bishop Drainey, presiding at High Mass for the LMS York Pilgrimage in 2012: more photos
Many of the current difficulties with integrating the celebration of Tridentine-rite Masses into the overall liturgical jurisdiction of a diocesan bishop stem not from Summorum Pontificum itself but from the Ecclesia Dei Commission's application of it. For instance it has ruled that any priest may roam around the countryside seeking fellow-enthusiasts and with no other Eucharistic-community qualification, then demand to be allowed to celebrate a Trindentine-rite Mass in any church they choose. This is plainly nonsensical.

Vesting in the sanctuary

Here Loftus is presumably referring to the famous 'stable group' rule, which allows groups of those attached to the Traditional Mass to come together from different parishes, rather than ask for several Masses in several places. It seems quite sensible to me: and it is in the original legislation, Summorum Pontificum (Article 5); it's not something added later by the PCED.

Listening to the Gospel, fully vested.

Loftus goes on:

The Commission's sometimes sententious decisions which then followed also inhibit the free discussion among the People of God which helps to build a liturgy, old-rite or new, which is sensitive to the needs of time and place. It is simply arrogant and unjust for altar-girls to be forbidden the Tridentine-rite Masses. More and more there is an unjustified presumption that Communion at such Masses may only be received kneeling and on the tongue.'

Clearly, if you took the 1962 books and applied to them all the changes which happened afterwards you'd end up with the Ordinary Form. What would be the point of that?

As far as the PCED is concerned, what Loftus needs to get over is the final article of Summorum Pontificum:

Art. 12.  The same Commission [sc. Ecclesia Dei], in addition to the faculties which it presently enjoys, will exercise the authority of the Holy See in ensuring the observance and application of these norms.

Tough luck, mate. Oh, and here's more tough luck. If you think that Pope Francis is going to conduct some kind of fanatical campaign against canopies, you're in for a disappointment.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Requiems last Saturday


For the second year, we have had a Traditional Sung Requiem in the chapel of St Benet's Hall, Oxford's Benedictine house of studies and a Permanent Private Hall of the University, which is my own academic home (I am a Fellow).


As last year, it was celebrated by Fr Edward van der Bergh, a priest of the London Oratory and a former President of the JCR at St Benet's. It was accompanied by the Schola Abelis (I was there, singing, so couldn't go to the London events.)


All Catholic institutions should pray for their deceased members; many do, of course, but by no means all. It doesn't have to be in November, though of course that it appropriate. If you are part of a Catholic insitution of any kind, find out what is organised and if it is inadequate ask for something better.


The Extraordinary Form is ideal in this respect. Although subject to the most extreme criticism by Bugnini (as I blogged here), it avoids a number of problems with the Novus Ordo Mass for the dead (see also here). It makes it completely clear that we are praying for the deceased, and it expresses our feelings in the most artistically and spiritually satisfying way. What the overwhelming majority of people want at a funeral, or an annual Mass for the dead, is something respectful, restrained, and beautiful. With the traditional Requiem Mass, that is what they get, whether in a little chapel like St Benet's, or in Westminster Cathedral, where the LMS' Annual Requiem took place on the same day.


The same day was the Towards Advent conference, at which the LMS and the Guild of St Clare shared a stall. We certainly attracted a crowd!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Interpreting Pope Francis

There is a flattering, though short, reference to this blog in the The Tablet this weekend, in the middle of a feature article about how Catholic conservatives and traditionalists are responding to Pope Francis, and particularly to the interviews he has been giving. Brendan McCarthy wrote:

Another English traditionalist blog, the Sensible Bond, has urged conservatives in the Church “to make a power play to get the Francis narrative under their control. [They] know he is using the liberal codes”. As if in response, Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, sought in an intriguing series of blogs to articulate how enthusiasts for the old rite could find common ground with Francis. He urged traditional Catholics to distance themselves from neoconservatives.

“We are not the ones who regard obedience as the only virtue, who think that the firm smack of discipline is the cure for all ills,” wrote Shaw, ridiculing the neoconservatives’ ultramontane enthusiasm for placing “enormous emphasis on the person of the Pope, seeking at all costs to endorse and live by even their non-Magisterial statements and philosophical preferences”.

It's not that I'm looking to accolades from liberals (and this is not exactly an accolade, anyway). I see this, rather, as vindication of my approach to Pope Francis, which consisted of separating what he had said from the interpretation of extreme liberals (since he doesn't think the Church's teaching is going to change), and from the trap conservative Catholics have got themselves into, by suggesting over the last two pontificates that loyal Catholics take every Pope's lightest word as the Divine Law. I've forced at least this Tablet journalist to give the distinctiveness of the traditional Catholic position a second glance.

You can see my series of posts on Pope Francis here.

(McCarthy misread the Sensible Bond, however: it didn't argue that conservatives should make a 'power play' to get control of the narrative, it observed that they had done so, and gave examples.)

I also posted about the interview Pope Francis gave to the atheist Eugenio Scalfari, and went so far as to say that a key, troubling proposition presented as a direct quotation of the Holy Father was, on closer examination, meaningless. It now seems that the interview has been pulled from the Vatican website and more or less repudiated. Certainly, we have been told quite clearly that no trust should be placed in the individual propositions purporting to be the Holy Father's words. They probably weren't.

The Traditional Mass is back in St Peter's, for the FIUV General Assembly
There has, in fact, been a noticable change of tone in the Papal news feed. Pope Francis rang up a journalist who had not only criticised him but been sacked for doing so, and told him that he appreciated the criticism, which had been made with love, and which he needed. This, as they say, was pretty big of Pope Francis.

He has also just congratulated the Fraternity of St Peter on the anniversary of their foundation, and emphasised the value of their charism and mission.

In a letter to the theologian Archbishop Marchetto he congratulated the latter, a critic of the 'Bologna School' of theology (the one which sees Vatican II as Year Zero of the revolution), and not only implicitly supported the hermeneutic of continuity, but thanked the recipient, again, for useful criticisms:

You have made this love manifest in many ways, including correcting a mistake or imprecision on my part - and for that I thank you from the heart -, but above all it is manifest in all your purity in the studies made on the Second Vatican Council. I once told you, dear Abp. Marchetto, and I wish to repeat it today, that I consider you to be the best interpreter [ermeneuta] of the Second Vatican Council.

Now he has done it again, writing in a new document, a letter to Cardinal Brandmuller on the 450th anniversary of the Council of Trent, and referring to the 2005 Address in which Pope Benedict XVI set out his hermeneutic of continuity stall as Pope.

Graciously hearing the very same Holy Ghost, the Holy Church of our age, even now, continues to restore and meditate upon the most abundant doctrine of Trent. As a matter of fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal” (interpretatio renovationis) which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers not only to the Tridentine Council but also to the Vatican Council. The mode of interpretation, certainly, places one honourable characteristic of the Church in a brighter light that is given by the Same Lord (Benedict XVI): “She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Christmas Address to the Roman Curia).

I wonder what the liberals are going to make of all this. I'm not proposing that traddies now put happy pills in their tea and start dancing the aisles, as the liberals have been doing the last few months. But perhaps a more balanced picture is beginning to emerge, of a Pope who - like everyone - is a complex individual, and who - uniquely - has a very complicated job to do, and who - most unusually - was very little known when he took the job up.

Let us continue to pray for him.
Cardinal Brandmuller, with Fr William Barker FSSP next to him,
officiating at Vespers (which was followed by Benediction)
in the traditional form, for the FIUV, in the Chapel of the Choir
in St Peter's.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Loftus attacks Cardinal Ranjith

Cardinal Ramjith. I couldn't find a pic
of him in a cappa magna: maybe he's
not such a 'fetishist' after all.
Fresh from attacking (without naming) Bishop Hugh Gilbert, the very next column takes aim at Malcolm, Cardinal Ranjith, Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, and former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. I say 'attack'; this is not exactly a discourse of sweet reason, just an outpouring of vulgar, and possibly racist, abuse. From the Catholic Times,17th November 2013.

[Archbishop] Sorrentino was very briefly Secretary of the Worship Congregation [sic] at the very end of John Paul II's papacy, but was turfed out by Benedict XVI to make way for the Sri Lankan cappa magna fetishist and Tridentine-rite devotee, Malcolm Ranjith.

Further comment seems superfluous. Let's just have Canon 212, which is relevant to all critics of bishops and pastors.

§1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Requiem Mass in St Benet's on Saturday


There will be a Traditional Sung Requiem Mass on Saturday at 11.30am in the Chapel of St Benet's Hall, Oxford. It is being celebrated for the repose of the souls of the Hall's deceased members, staff, and benefactors; all are welcome.

St Benet's is 39 St Giles, Oxford OX1 3LN

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A tale of two bishops, by Basil Loftus

Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer
Bishop Hugh Gilbert with the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, a traditionalist
religious community whose reconciliation with Rome Bishop Gilbert sealed by
granting them canonical status.

While I was in Rome Mgr Loftus published (Catholic Times, 10th November) a particularly strange column in which the faults of two bishops are implicitly compared. One is the ex-, and now late, bishop 'Roddy' Wright, and the other is the current Bishop of Aberdeen, and former Abbot of Pluscarden, Hugh Gilbert.

To see what I mean you need to bear in mind that Bishop Gilbert was Abbot of Pluscarden from 1992 until he was appointed Bishop in 2011.

This is what Mgr Loftus wrote.

Over 11 years ago [ie around 2002]... I visited the Benedictine Abbey of Pluscarden. It is a wonderful centre of spirituality in this region ... As I looked around I saw a framed document signed by all the bishops of Scotland. It had to do with some canonical requirement, I forget what. But what I don't forget is the shameful way that the name of Roddy Wright, the former Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, had been crudely scratched out. An attempt had been made to airbrush him out of history as a consequence of his defection. ...effectively, he had resigned his position in order to marry.
Bishop Roderick Wright, as he was.

So I have never felt able to return to Pluscarden, I would not be comfortable...

A little background (newspaper obituaries telling the story abound). Bishop Wright became bishop of Argyll and the Isles in 1992, at a time when, as he later recounted in an autobiography, he was not being faithful to his vow of celibacy. Shortly afterwards evidence emerged suggesting liaisons with four women, but his protestations of innocence were so vehement that the late Cardinal Winning and others were convinced and let the matter drop. In 1996, however, he disappeared, as did a lover of his, who abandoned her child (from her marriage, which had ended in divorce) in order to elope with him to Cumbria. This was upsetting not only to his flock and fellow bishops, but to another of his lovers who had had a child by him, who was also left behind.

The couple ended up in New Zealand. They married in 1998. Wright died in 2005.

Wright had the Last Rites before his death, and it is for God to judge his soul, indeed He has done so. From a human perspective we can, nonetheless, identify a number of moral problems with his public behaviour. He lived a double life for a number of years, which is of particular seriousness in a bishop. He was a hypocrite. He lied to good people, from Cardinal Winning and Bl Pope John Paul II down to the simple Faithful, who trusted him. He was unjust not only to them but to the women with whom he had affairs, and above all to his own child. The sudden revelation of all this was shattering to the Church in Scotland, and had a particularly devastating effect on the morale of the priests in his old diocese.

Mgr Loftus appears to shrug all this off as a mere peccadillo. He resigned in order to marry. Really? Why did the longed-for union not take place until two years later? Why, come to that, did he not resign first, but just flee? One gets the impression, in any case, that Wright would have found faithfulness within marriage almost as challenging as celibacy.

So much for him. Loftus is not so soft-hearted when it comes to judging Abbot Gilbert, as he then was. Scratching out Bishop Wright's name, or allowing it to be scratched out, or allowing the notice with the scratched-out name to remain hanging on the wall (for how long? does Loftus have any evidence it wasn't taken down as soon as this act of petty vandalism was noticed?): this is the sin which cannot be forgiven. Loftus won't even set foot in the Abbey again, desecrated as it has been by this terrible crime. More than a decade later he is still going on about it. Truly, the fires of hatred in Basil's heart are not quenched, and the worm dies not.

On the one hand we have a lifetime of hypocrisy, vain glory, lust, perjury, lies, and injustice. Easily forgiven, of course. On the other we have, at worst, a moment of shock, anger and grief, giving rise to an act of scribbling out a person's name on a notice, which harms no one. No no, never to be forgiven, never to be forgotten, always to be held up to the shame of Bishop Gilbert, who for all Loftus knows had nothing to do with it anyway, an eternal monument of disgrace to the entire institution of Pluscarden Abbey.

Bishop Gilbert, admired everywhere for his personal integrity, spirituality, and orthodoxy, is, in fact, the governor of the see in which Mgr Loftus resides.

It is so easy to talk about other people being unforgiving. It can be so difficult to forgive. Before we lambast others for being unforgiving, we should perhaps ask ourselves seriously if we can forgive them. Loftus writes in the same column:

Sadly, the judgemental option, the desire to show condemnation rather than mercy, is still deeply and seemingly ineradicably rooted in many parts of the Church.

You said it, Basil.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wardour Chapel: Low Mass

Even the modest exterior of the chapel on the right would not have been seen
when it was first built, before the Catholic Relief Act.
I have more to say about the FIUV in Rome but I break off to blog about my trip to Wardour last Saturday, to attend a Low Mass celebrated by Fr Philip Thomas. Old Wardour Castle (not far from Salisbury) was destroyed in the English Civil War, but the family seat before and after that was a haven for Catholics and the new, 18th century house included a truly splendid chapel which served a local area with a high density of Catholics thanks to the protection of successive Lords Arundell of Wardour.


Sadly the title died with a heroic Lord Arundell who contracted tuberculosis in Colditz Castle in the Second World War. The house was sold but the chapel is the property of a special trust, and as well as Ordinary Form Masses twice a week there is a quarterly Tradtitional Mass there on a Saturday.


It is the finest private chapel in the country, splendid in the deepest sense of the word. The Altar was made in Rome and shipped over.


I hope to see more Masses in this historic chapel.

A warning to ant-Catholic zealots thinking of disrupting Mass.
IMG_5876 IMG_1887 IMG_1884

Sunday, November 17, 2013

FIUV in Rome: more liturgies


When not in the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's, the FIUV General Assembly (and the LMS Rome Pilgrimage which was timed to coincide with it) had Mass and Vespers and Benediction in the chapel of the Convent hotel where the General Assembly took place, the Casa Maria Immacolata, which is close to the Vatican.


The highlight of this was Vespers and Benediction given by Archbishop Guido Pozzo on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran. Archbishop Pozzo is a previous and also present Secretary of the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei, who as Papal Almoner ordained two of the Sons of the Holy Redeemer from the Orkneys last Summer. (His replacement as Almoner is no less a personage that Cardinal Piacenza, formerly Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy.)


It was in this chapel we had Mass on Sunday; it was celebrated by Mgr Gordon Read, the Latin Mass Society's National Chaplain; since it was Sung we had the Asperges at the beginning (below).


The chapel is not as splendid at St Peter's, but the acoustic was excellent, here is the FIUV choir, being conducted by Matthew Schellhorn. On Thursday evening they sang Ave verum by Fauré at Benediction after Vespers,

On Saturday evening, with Archbishop Pozzo, they sang Magnificat sexti toni by Vecchi in Vespers, which alternated with chant, and Ave verum corpus by Byrd for Benediction.

For Sunday Mass we had Mass for Four Voices by Byrd, Panis angelicus by Franck, and Rosa Mystica by Fauré, arr. Knowles & Turchetta.

On Sunday evening we the Vespers hymn Lucis creator optime alternating chant with a polyphonic setting by Washington, which was wonderful, and another polyphonic Magnificat, Magnificat Tone 1 à 4 by Viadana, At Benediction we heard Ego sum panis vivus by Byrd.

The musical side of the liturgy was tremendous, thanks to a lot of work from our dedicated professionals; Fr William Barker FSSP is also to be thanked for MCing the more complex liturgies, including Vespers with Archbishop Pozzo.


Mgr Read officiates at Vespers.


Fr Michael Brown, the other priest with the LMS pilgrims, said Low Mass at a side altar in St Peter's one morning, and I got a few photographs of him. He used the Chapel of the Presentation of Our Lady, and said Mass over the tomb of St Pius X who is buried there.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

FIUV in Rome: the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's

Mgr Soseman celebrating Mass
Last weekend and before and after I was in Rome for the General Assembly of the International Federation Una Voce. My photos are available and here is a taster.


We had two Masses and one Vespers and Benediction in the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter's. This is not usually open to the public, so it was particularly interesting to see it; on the south side of the Basilica all one normally sees in an enormous wrought iron gate with a curtain behind it.


 At the previous General Assembly, we had one Mass in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, which is smaller and less convenient (we displaced the people praying there before the Blessed Sacrament), though lovely. At the GA before that, we ended up in the Chapel of the Presentation of Our Lady, where St Pius X is buried, which is also beautiful but not exactly star billing.

Cardinal Brandmüller officiating at Vespers
As with other Traditional Catholic groups having pilgrimages to Rome in recent months, we have found the authorities' recognition of the Extraordinary Form as a legitimate expression of the Church's Law of Prayer has continued to increase under Pope Francis. Never has the FIUV had such liturgies in St Peter's: only a few years ago we were pleased to get into the crypt for Low Mass.

Cardinal Brandmüller blessing us with the Blessed Sacramnet

Our celebrants were, on the Friday evening, Cardinal Brandmüller, who officiated at the First Vespers of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, and gave us Benediction. The Lateran of course is the Cathedral of Rome, so this feast is First Class feast in the Diocese of Rome, with Vespers on the evening before as well as the evening of the day itself.


On Saturday we had Solemn Mass celebrated by Mgr Richard Soseman, an American priest working in the Congregation for the Clergy: photos at the top, who preached rather movingly of his own discovery of the Traditional Mass.

On Monday we had another Solemn Mass, celebrated by Mgr Pablo Colino, a musician and former Maestro of one of St Peter's choirs. Mgr Colino is very charming and rather forthright in his musical views.

Mgr Colino celebrating Mass

Luckily we had, in the elaborate organ loft, a superb professional choir, led by Matthew Schellhorn, with three male and two female voices and an organist. So we had a feast of flawless Gregorian Chant leavened with some superb polyphony, including pieces beautifully suited to the liturgies and venues.


So on Friday evening the Magnificat at Vespers in St Peter's was Magnificat primi toni by Palestrina; Benediction incoluded Elgar's Ave verum, and we had Bach's organ piece Fuga sopra il Magnificat BWV 733.


At Mass on Saturday we had Taverner, Tallis, and more Bach on the organ: Kyrie ‘Le Roy’ Taverner Mass ‘The Western Wind’ Taverner Bone Pastor Tallis, arr. Terry O nata lux Tallis: Toccata in C, BWV 564 Bach.

At Mass on Monday we had Mozart's Coronation Mass, and his Exsultate Jubilate (Alleluia), and
Ave Verum. We also had Messiaen's O sacrum convivium and the same composer's Apparition de l’église éternelle on the organ.


There are tons more photos: click on the links for Mgr Soseman's Mass, Mgr Colino's Mass, and Cardinal Brandmüller's Vespers.

Aquinas: Opera Omnia project

I've bought the commentaries on the Epistles from this project, and am delighted to draw it to the attention of a wider audience. Peter Kwasniewski is the same chap as the one on the New Liturgical Movement blog. 

Dear Friends,

As many of you already know, The Aquinas Institute has continued steadily publishing the works of St. Thomas in highly admired hardcover English-Latin editions.  We have completed the first phase of our publishing project with the following sets:

We are now turning our attention to the rest of the Opera Omnia -- and we need your help!  We have kept and plan to keep the cost of our volumes low to make them widely available, but as a result we are able to do the initial print run of volumes as they are funded through donations.  For a limited time, donors will receive a complimentary copy of the volumes they help fund.

Go to our website to use your donation as a vote for what will be printed next -- and to be among the first to receive a copy of that set.  Once a volume has been funded, this offer of a complimentary copy will cease for that volume, and we will then sell it via Amazon.

We have editors and translators lined up for most of the works of Aquinas, but we will focus our efforts on the works that are most funded by you, our readers.  Please spread the word by sending this email to any of your colleagues or friends who might be interested.

God Bless,

Peter Kwasniewski

Mass 8th December in Basingstoke

This is a fledgling venue for the Traditional Mass; if you are in the area please support it!

St Joseph's, Basingstoke
Sunday 8th December, 7pm 

Celebrant: Canon Alan Griffiths
(Canon Alan is a priest of Portsmouth Diocese, and teaches Liturgy at Wonersh seminary).

A choir, accompanied by organ, will lead us in Mass IX (Cum Jubilo) which is for Feast Masses for Our Lady.  We will sing Credo III and will probably sing the Alma Redemptoris Mater (anthem for Our Lady in Advent).

As usual refreshments will follow Mass.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Aid for the Philippines

I doubt we can do better than Michael Voris' suggestions for the best charities to support in the wake of these terrible storms.

Please click on the links below to support The Philippines;
*For donations for the Philippines please specify in the special instruction box in Paypal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Traditional Mass and the Christian East, Part 3: Il Padre

Tradition is doing...
In my previous post in this series I wrote about and quoted from the document 'Observation on "The Holy Mass in the Syro-Malabar Church', an Instruction of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches dating from 1984. It is specific to a proposal for liturgical reform within that church, but its points are of wider application; in many cases they are explicitly stated to be relevant in the Latin West. A more general document, one which is recorded in the Acta Apostolis Sedes, is the same Congregation's 1996 Instruction,

Il Padre, incomprensibile,

with the more prosaic English title

'Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches'.

It is available (in English) in the online library of the EWTN, and also (in a less searchable and legible form) on the Vatican website, as is the original Italian.

Here are some quotations. If we take these seriously, they have implications for liturgical practice in the West as well as in the East. The priest facing the people is alien to the customs of the East? It is in the West as well, for all the necessary caveats about Roman basilicas (where the celebrant would always have been impossible to see in any case). Lay people distributing the Eucharist are repugnant to the Eastern tradition? They are to the Western tradition as well. Should the Eastern Churches accept developments only if they are 'coherent with the contextual meaning in which it is placed'? Well, so should we in the West. The Eastern Churches should not only preserve but restore their liturgies in fidelity to their traditions? Well, we clearly have an even more urgent need to do that in the West.

Tradition and development.

18. The first requirement of every Eastern liturgical renewal, as is also the case for liturgical reform in the West, is that of rediscovering full fidelity to their own liturgical traditions, benefiting from their riches and eliminating that which has altered their authenticity. Such heedfulness is not subordinate to but precedes so-called updating. Although a delicate task that must be executed with care so as not to disturb souls, it must be coherently and constantly pursued if the Eastern Catholic Churches want to remain faithful to the mandate received. It is once again John Paul II who declares: "If, therefore, you must trim extraneous forms and developments, deriving from various influences that come from liturgical and paraliturgical traditions foreign to your tradition, it is possible that, so doing, you will have to also correct some popular habits."

We are witness today to the diffusion of a mentality that tends to overvalue efficiency, excessive activism, and the attainment of results with minimum effort and without deep personal involvement. This attitude can also negatively influence the approach towards liturgy, even in the East. The liturgy, rather, continues to be a demanding school which requires an assimilation that is progressive, laborious, and never completely accomplished. ...

These considerations do not take away from the rightful exigency to express, as much as possible, the Gospel in a plain and clear way for the contemporary man and woman. Every formula necessitates, therefore, unceasing vigilance to remain alive under the breath of the Spirit. But Tradition, even in its literal expression—as is the case for Scriptures—contains unrenouncable treasures; its strengths are received, assimilated, and utilized to transmit to mankind the fullness of the Mystery of God. Indeed, it is about words of fire, just like the Word of God which is sharper than a two-edged sword and penetrates to the division of soul and spirit (cf. Heb. 4:12). The fact that they are constantly repeated in the liturgy should not take anything away from their vigor and perennial timeliness.
what your forbears in the Faith did...

20. In modifying ancient liturgical practice, it must be determined if the element to be introduced is coherent with the contextual meaning in which it is placed. Such a context should be understood beginning with eventual references to Sacred Scripture, interpretations of the Holy Fathers, liturgical reforms previously made, and mystagogical catechesis. Here it must be verified that the new change is homogeneous with the symbolic language, with the images and the style specific to the liturgy of the particular Church. The new element will have its place if, required for serious pastoral reasons, it blends within the celebration without contrast but with coherence, almost as if it had naturally derived from it. In addition, it should be ensured that it is not already present, perhaps in another form, in a different moment of the celebration or in another part of the liturgical of that Church.

58. Who should distribute the Eucharist

Can. 709 § 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches establishes that it is the responsibility of the priest to distribute the Eucharist, or also the deacon if the particular law of the Church so disposes. The subsequent paragraph grants the right to the Synod of Bishops of the patriarchal Church, or to the Council of Hierarchs, to establish norms by which other Christian faithful can also distribute the Eucharist.

Therefore, assigning to the deacon or even to other faithful the task of distributing the Divine Eucharist depends on the instructions of the particular law. It is indispensable to remember, however, that these instructions must be coherent with the specific context of the liturgical tradition in which they are inserted. It should be remembered that all the Eastern traditions emphasize the greatness of the mystery of holy Communion. An ancient Syro-Chaldean commentator describes the presentation of the sacred gifts to the faithful with the following words: "The Holy One comes forth on the plate and in the cup, in glory and majesty, accompanied by the presbyters and deacons, in grand procession. Millions of angels and servants of the fire of the Spirit go before the Body of Our Lord, glorifying him. All the people and all the sons of the Church rejoice when they see the Body come from the altar." Therefore, reserving the distribution of the Eucharist normally to the priests has the scope of manifesting its highest sacredness. Even if this excludes enhancing the value of other criteria, also legitimate, and implies renouncing some convenience, a change of the traditional usage risks incurring a non-organic intrusion with respect to the spiritual framework to which it refers. Therefore, it is appropriate that the faculty of distributing the Eucharist by those other than the Bishop or the presbyter, or the deacon if so disposed by the particular law of each Church , be exercised only in the case of true emergency.

62. The eucharistic fast [See the FIUV Position Paper on the Eucharistic Fast]

Rigorous observation of the eucharistic fast was a unanimous tradition, even if diversified in its forms, in all the Eastern and Western Churches up until the first reforms undertaken in this area by Pope Pius XII. It expressed and continues to signify the concern for a proper spiritual preparation for receiving the Eucharist, life-giving Bread come down from heaven. In the desire to facilitate access to the Eucharist, such practice has been greatly reduced in the Latin Church. A similar example was followed by many Eastern Catholic Churches, while those non-Catholic maintained their customs, even if perhaps less strictly. The change in the discipline of the eucharistic fast has contributed to the development of a greater participation in the Eucharist, although it has sometimes contributed to weakening the awareness of the extraordinary value and meaning of the mystery celebrated. Can. 707 § 1 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches refers legislation in this regard to the particular law. An eventual restoration, at least partial, of the ancient norms for fasting in the Eastern Catholic Churches is valued opportune, taking into account the meaning of both the traditional practice, which does not always exactly coincide with the Latin sensibility, and of the need to correspond with the different conditions of life in the world today.

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...and handing this one to the next generation...
87. The penitential attitude permeates all Christian worship

The penitential orientation which accompanies all Christian life constantly appears in every manifestation of worship; in fact, it demands truth (cf. Ps. 50[51]:6) and thus, implies unceasing acknowledgment of one's sins and of the need to change ways. Such an attitude is found throughout the liturgical year and in every hour of the day, but in a particularly exigent way during the times of preparations for the feasts, above all in the one preceding Easter. For this reason, all the liturgies of the East as in the West ever since time immemorial call for Psalm 50[51] to be prayed even several times a day, the psalm with which forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit is invoked. The penitential attitude notably appears in many sacraments. Baptism, in fact, is given to us for the "blessed purification" of sins,[71] in the Divine Liturgy we offer "spiritual worship for our own sins and the faults of your people,"[72] approaching the Holy Communion in which we receive "the Body and the Blood of the Lord broken and shed for the remission of sins;"[73] the Anointing of the sick also procures the remission of sins (cf. Jas. 5:15). In various Eastern Churches, there are moments of liturgical prayer to which penitential value is particularly attributed as is also, in a certain way, a power of reconciliation. Penance in the ancient tradition did not obtain its fruit of salvation only in the liturgical setting, because there are other actions (fasts, alms, pilgrimages, etc.) which already obtain from God a certain grace of forgiveness and there are places (monasteries, sketes, cells, deserts, etc.) in which the ineffable gift of , or mourning for one's own sins, reveals through tears the possibility to be reborn every day in the newness of life in the Spirit.

107. Prayer facing the east [See the FIUV Position Paper on Liturgical Orientation]

Ever since ancient times, it has been customary in the prayer of the Eastern Churches to prostrate oneself to the ground, turning toward the east; the buildings themselves were constructed such that the altar would face the east. Saint John of Damascus explains the meaning of this tradition: "It is not for simplicity nor by chance that we pray turned toward the regions of the east (...). Since God is intelligible light (1 Jn. 1:5), and in the Scripture, Christ is called the Sun of justice (Mal. 3:20) and the East (Zech. 3:8 of the LXX), it is necessary to dedicate the east to him in order to render him worship. The Scripture says: 'Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed' (Gen. 2:8). (...) In search of the ancient homeland and tending toward it, we worship God. Even the tent of Moses had its curtain veil and propitiatory facing the east. And the tribe of Judah, in as much as it was the most notable, encamped on the east side (cf. Nm. 2:3). In the temple of Solomon, the Lord's gate was facing the east (cf. Ez. 44:1). Finally, the Lord placed on the cross looked toward the west, and so we prostrate ourselves in his direction, facing him. When he ascended to heaven, he was raised toward the east, and thus his disciples adored him, and thus he will return, in the same way as they saw him go to heaven (cf. Acts 1:11), as the Lord himself said: 'For just as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be' (Mt. 24:27). Waiting for him, we prostrate ourselves toward the east. It is an unwritten tradition, deriving from the Apostles."[85]
This rich and fascinating interpretation also explains the reason for which the celebrant who presides in the liturgical celebration prays facing the east, just as the people who participate. It is not a question, as is often claimed, of presiding the celebration with the back turned to the people, but rather of guiding the people in pilgrimage toward the Kingdom, invoked in prayer until the return of the Lord.

Such practice, threatened in numerous Eastern Catholic Churches by a new and recent Latin influence, is thus of profound value and should be safeguarded as truly coherent with the Eastern liturgical spirituality.

Art and architecture

109. It cannot be denied that the Eastern Catholic Churches have been exposed, in rather recent times, to the influence of sacred art styles completely foreign to their heritage, concerning both the external form of sacred buildings and the arrangement of the interior space and sacred images. Yet, from the preceding observations emerges a harmonious unity of words, gestures, space, and objects proper and specific to each of the Eastern liturgies. Continuous reference must be made to this aspect when planning new places of worship. To do so naturally requires on the part of the clergy an in-depth knowledge of their own tradition and a constant, well established, and systematic formation of the faithful so that they may be able to fully perceive the richness of the signs entrusted to them. Fidelity does not imply anachronistic fixation, as the evolution of sacred art—even in the East—demonstrates, but rather, development that is fully coherent with the profound and immutable meaning of how it is celebrated in the liturgy.

...with as much reverence as possible.
Photographs: Low Mass at Prinknash Abbey (set here); stained glass in window at Padley Chapel dating from the early 1930s, showing one of the 16th century Padley Martyrs celebrating Mass (set here); Solemn Mass with the Fraternity of St Peter in St William of York, Reading (set here); and Pontifical Mass with Bishop Rifan in St George's Cathedral, Southwark, for the LMS AGM (set here).