Friday, April 03, 2020

Baptisms when public services can't take place

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My latest on LifeSite

Much has been written about the lack of Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) in the current public health situation, but I’d like to say something about the Sacrament of Baptism. This will only affect a small number of people, but it has a particular interest because in principle, as we are all taught in Catechism, anyone having the use of reason can baptise. You can’t baptise yourself, but if you’ve not been baptised you can get your atheist cell mate to baptise you before you are thrown to the lions or whatever, if he follows the correct procedure.
The response of many priests and others will be that ‘private baptism’, without the full ceremonies, whether carried out by a priest or a lay person (and obviously only a priest can do the full ceremonies, with the anointing, blessings and so on), is only to be contemplated where there is ‘danger of death’.
This is clearly not the full story, however, since Catholics have found themselves in situations of persecution where priests were simply not available, sometimes for decades, like Japanese Catholics in 17th century. Readers may remember the classic film The Magnificent Seven: one of the features of the Mexican village that the seven gunmen go to protect was that the priest only visited them once a year. This was indeed the situation for many remote Mexican communities in that era, and historical parallels are not lacking. In the Catholic Highlands and Islands of Scotland, for example, for much of its history priestly visits were not as frequent, or predictable, as that.
Continue reading over there.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

LMS Guide to Holy Communion, Confession, and Baptism during the lockdown

St Charles Borromeo ministering to victims of the plague in Milan
The Latin Mass Society has published these short but comprehensive guides to the Sacraments of Holy Communion, Penance, and Baptism, while getting access to priests is restricted or impossible, in light of the Extraordinary Form and the Traditional Practice and Discipline of the Church.

Baptism

Penance

Holy Communion

What is a perfect act of contrition? What value has watching a live-streamed Mass? When would it be justified to baptise infants in the absence of a priest? Is it possible to gain indulgences if one can't go to Communion? What is the ceremony of 'supplying the ceremonies' after an emergency bapism?

Your questions are answered.

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Friday, March 27, 2020

New Prefaces and new Saints for the EF: Press Release from the FIUV

PDF version here.

Press Release:
CDF Decrees on new Prefaces and Saints for the Extraordinary Form
From the President and Officers of the FIUV
26th March 2020

Yesterday the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), now exercising the functions of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has issued two decrees, one on Prefaces to be added to the 1962 Missal (Quo Magis), and the other on the possibility of saints, canonised since 1962 to have Masses celebrated in their honour (Cum Sanctissima). (English summary here.)

The Federation was consulted on both issues, and we would like to thank the CDF for taking the views of our members into account in developing these decrees.

The Federation welcomes in particular the possibility of making a liturgical commemoration of saints canonised since 1962, without excessive disruption to the Sanctoral Calendar as it has come down to us. We wish, however, to issue some notes of caution.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Joy amid sorrow

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Last Gaudete Sunday, Holy Trinity Hethe with Fr Richard Conrad OP

My latest on LifeSite.

Last Sunday, Laetare Sunday, was a feast of joy. Stuck at home, in preparation for watching Mass on a small computer screen I read the commentary on the day from Fr Pius Parsch’s classic The Church’s Year of Faith. 
This Sunday has a unique distinction in the Church year—a day of joy in the season of penance and sorrow! …All the Mass texts ring with joy; the entrance song is a joyous shout, ‘Laetare—rejoice!’
This particular Sunday is a little moment of joy in a season of sorrow. As we approach Easter, there are, in fact, others: the joy of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, remembered on Palm Sunday, and the joy of the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, on Holy Thursday. Earlier, there was the Feast of the Transfiguration. Though not tied to the Easter cycle, but generally falling in Lent, are the great feasts of St Joseph and the Annunciation: not to forget St Patrick. And then, of course, is Easter itself, and the long Easter season.
As Fr Parsch likes to say, the Church is a good psychologist. You can’t have uninterrupted misery throughout Lent. It would wear us out, emotionally and spiritually, and we would become numb to it. The moments of joy, in fact, enable us to face the difficulties, the penance, and the sorrow: to face them and suffer them. Yes, sorrow: sorrow over our own sins, which is sharpened by our compassion for the sufferings of Our Lord, sufferings which He bore for our sins.
Read the whole thing.

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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Mass at a distance: devotional aids

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Mass in Chartres Cathedral relayed to Pilgrims outside (2014)
Tomorrow for the first time in my life I am going to sit down to watch the celebration of Mass on my computer screen. I'm not a great one for watching liturgy on screens. The experience of the liturgy cannot easily be reproduced through a screen, and indeed it is important to remember that at the end of the day one is looking at a (moving) picture of Mass, by contrast with one one can see, for example, through a window or a glass door. (I have extensive experience of following the Mass through windows and doors, in the company of small children who need a breath of fresh air.)

Huge screens outside a church for the overflow crowd, as we have at Chartres Cathedral for the Chartres Pilgrimage, are rather different, as you know it is happening right there in the church and the people around you are all taking part in the usual way. But no one would suggest that these are as good as being in the church.

But in one's home? In one's work space? On a little mobile device?

In these strange times we must do the best we can, and if we can't get to church, this is better than nothing. The experience of a live, as opposed to pre-recorded, Mass will give us a more intimate connection with what is happening, and it will be the liturgy of today, the liturgy intended by the Church specially for this moment in the Lenten season.

The Latin Mass Society has collected links to live-streaming Masses being celebrated in England and Wales here.


A plenary indulgence with special conditions, has also now been granted for those who ‘assist virtually’ at Mass, because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Prayer resources for epidemic

This Lent we are experiencing a special time of penance, including the cessation of public liturgies, even those of Easter itself.

At this time we must remember the Church’s patrimony of devotions suitable to such times: prayers expressing our sorrow for sin, and filial confidence in the mercy of God.

With this in mind I have created a printable booklet with the Seven Penitential Psalms in it (free download). Yes you can find these on lots of websites but this booklet has a facing translation, stress marks on the Latin, and 'pointing' to facilitate singing. 

The Psalms (without the translation) and many other such devotions can be found in the Latin Mass Society’s Vademecum Peregrini: a Pilgrims’ Handbook.

The Stations of the Cross: we include the version found in many editions of the Manual of Prayers, the official handbook of devotions and prayers for public use authorised by the Bishops of England and Wales over many decades up to the time of the Second Vatican Council.

Rosary Meditaions: to accompany the Rosary, the Vademecum includes the meditations on each mystery found in the Manuel of Prayers.

Prayers set to chant including the Marian favourite Salve Mater, Misericordiae; the Lenten Sequence, Attende, Domine; the Passiontide chants the Vexilla Regis and the Crux Fidelis; and the perennial prayer of penance, the Parce Domine.

In addition to these, the Vademecum includes chants, prayers, and hymns of Easter joy and thanksgiving, and the prayers of the Mass, including a Spiritual Communion.


Buy the Vademecum here. The LMS online shop may be slower than usual because of the steps we have taken to protect the staff, but we are still fulfilling orders.

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Taking part in the Prayer of the Church during the epidemic

My latest in the Catholic Herald, below.
This would, incidentally, be a great time to discover the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary: a wonderful way to take part in the Public Prayer of the Church, which can easily be said or sung in Latin, or said in English, with 'offices' (Matins, Vespers etc.) of very managable length, connecting you to the devotions of our Medieval predecessors. 

You can get two different editions of this from the Latin Mass Society online bookshop: this one includes what you need to sing it; this one includes the Office of the Dead.

An alternative would be to take up Compline from the Roman Office: this is quite short, mostly unchanging, and you can get a book dedicated to it from the LMS here.

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Public Masses, the Bishops of England and Wales have announced, will cease from tomorrow. It makes perfect sense, given the speed with which coronavirus can spread. It is also a reminder that Mass is about more than Communion, and the public prayer of the Church is more than Mass. Saying the prayers of Mass at home, and making a Spiritual Communion, perhaps in the context of a recorded or live-streamed Mass, is one way of uniting ourselves with the Holy Sacrifice. We also participate in the perfect prayer offered to the Father through the Son by praying the Office (Liturgy of the Hours), including the Little Offices, and the rosary.

Read the whole thing there.

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