Monday, 28 February 2011

High Court judgement: Christian belief inimical to children

Experienced foster parents Eunice and Owen Johns have been told today that their beliefs are inimical to the interests of children. They were not willing to say that the practice of homosexuality was a positive thing. The landmark judgement of the High Court means that Christians who hold to traditional Christian moral teaching on sexual ethics are now not considered suitable foster parents in Britian. (See: article by the Christian Legal Centre.)

The Judges were obviously concerned to avoid being accused of discriminating against Christians and so they ruled:
That there is no religious discrimination against the Johns because they were being excluded from fostering due to their moral views on sexual ethics and not their Christian beliefs
It seems that their Lordships want to rule on what we ought to believe as Christians. Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Christian Legal Centre is right when she says that
"Britain is now leading Europe in intolerance against religious belief."
In fact, after today's ruling there is no logical reason why social services departments should not home in on Christian parents and take their children away for having beliefs that are inimical to them in the weird and twisted world of modern British equality law.

Sicut passer solitarius in tecto

On a column near the village of Katschki in West Georgia, not far from the city of Chiatura, a Church was constructed, probably between the 6th and 8th centuries, on the site of a pagan temple. An Orthodox priest, Fr Maxim, has lived in the Church for 18 years. He is quoted as saying:
Since I was a child I dreamed of settling on the top of this pillar as other hermits did in ancient times. When I came here with my friends I envied the monk who had lived there long ago – now I am here too I am happy.
The Church it is currently being restored by some volunteers. It does look a bit of a mess but I have seen a Church in Cyprus in no better a state and without the need to climb a rusty ladder to get to it.

Thanks to the Daily Mail for this extraordinary story: The high church: Chapel that really IS that little bit closer to God. See also the article at the Meglaithic Portal for some more images. Thanks to that site, I got the latitude and longitude: 42.287632N, 43.215708E. Google maps does not even feature Chiatura but Open Street Map does a better job, including not only the city, but Katschki itself

The other photos by Ivane Goliadze at Panoramio are well worth browsing. We always hear of Georgia as a "former Soviet republic" and perhaps imagine it as a war-torn mess. I have no idea what it might be like to live there but Ivane's photos show it as a place of beauty that made me wonder wistfully how one might visit.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

New New RSV to be published soon

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible has been in print for some years. A new edition, the
"Anglicized New Revised Standard Version" with the Grail Psalms is to be published on 3 March. (See: Amazon UK) The Publishers' product description is as follows:
A new edition of the Bible aimed especially at Roman Catholics, including both the anglicized Catholic text of the NRSV translation, and the much loved Grail Psalms.

For years, Catholics have been waiting for a Bible including both the NRSV Bible and the Grail Psalms. Now, it is here at last.

The NRSV is increasingly becoming the most popular translation among Catholics, and it will be used in the new edition of the Lectionary which is coming soon. The much loved Grail Psalms are already in wide liturgical use, and will continue to be.

This Bible also includes additional features such as Mass Readings and maps.
It is understandable for the publisher to make claims such as "Catholics have been waiting" and "increasingly becoming the most popular translation" but I take them with a pinch of salt. The Douai-Rheims version has enjoyed a revival of popularity in recent years, not least because there are no problems of copyright and the text has been widely available in many forms on the internet free of charge. Many Catholics have also been drawn to the Revised Standard Version published by Ignatius Press.

The new new RSV is published by Collins but it seems that the text of the (unanglicized) version is available at Godweb and the oremus Bible Browser so there is reason to hope that the new new one will be available online too.

The original NRSV committee was strongly committed to "inclusive language" (see: this page for information). As I understand it, the version had to be edited for use in the Catholic Liturgy in accordance with Liturgiam Authenticam, particularly with regard to inclusive language. Indeed the NRSV in its original form was rejected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1995. (See this article.) One wonders why it was not simply decided to adopt the RSV as published by Ignatius. That had already been slightly edited precisely to accord with Liturgiam Authenticam.

Despite some misgivings I hope that the new new RSV will at least be an improvement on the Jerusalem version which we have had to endure for so long in the sacred Liturgy. The news that the text is soon to be published indicates that a lectionary based on it should be available in good time so that missals for the people can be provided with the texts of the readings as well as the propers of the Mass.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

New English Missal cover and CTS blog

The Catholic Truth Society has started a blog called CTS Catholic Compass. One of the first posts was to give information about the cover for the new edition of the Roman Missal in English which will contain the new (corrected) translation of the Latin editio typica. (See: New Missal's cover explained)

The Greek Cross on the front of the book, and the decorated edges do help to emphasise that this is a book for the Divine Liturgy in which we worship God and beseech Him to sanctify us. I am looking forward to further information about the Missal, and especially the illustrations that have been selected.

Prayers, please, for baby Ava

Ava is one month old and has contracted meningitis. Her father has asked me to pray for her. I am remembering her in the memento at Mass and will celebrate Mass for her on Monday. Ava's father was happy for me to request prayers here.

So please - Rosaries, Masses, Novenas, Divine Mercy chaplet, Holy Communions ... If you are not able to do anything else, please take a moment right now to say a Hail Mary.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Splendid collection of scanned books

Don Paco of the Ite ad Thomam blog, has scanned hundreds of volumes for the Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library. The amazing collection includes many text books would help you to earn that "Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist" mug: there are some real gems there. As well as the works of St Thomas, there is also Mansi's Sacrorum Conciliorum and the entire Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique to give just a couple of examples.

The files come with a request for donations - $10 per file or $500 for the whole collection.

40 Days for Life

From 9 March to 17 April, people all over the world will be praying and witnessing in a concerted pro-Life effort to bring awareness of the evil of abortion, to bring help and consolation to those who have been drawn into the culture of death, and to unite people who believe in the sanctity of human life

40 Days for Life is an international pro-life initiative which takes place in many locations around the world. It involves prayer, vigils and community action to draw attention to the evil of abortion and to help people to understand the sanctity of human life.

In London, there will be a 40 day prayer vigil outside the Bedford Square BPAS clinic. The London group has its own 40 Days for Life blog giving news about the event. The "Kick-Off Rally" will be on Tuesday 8 March from 7pm-8.30pm. The location for the rally is the northwest corner of Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3HP which is opposite BPAS Clinic. There will be a prayer vigil, followed by a social. You can indicate attendance at the Facebook event page or email You can also sign up for part of the 40 days at the Vigil Calendar page.

There is also a 40 Days for Life section for Cheltenham. The link gives information about a vigil at Cheltenham General Hospital.

I do encourage you to be involved in these events by prayer and fasting - but also by joining people for some time for the vigils. They are a great opportunity to do a little penance, to pray with others for an end to abortion, and to meet with other pro-lifers and know that you are not alone.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Forms, the body and the Fathers


The philosophy of forms and the theology of the body have been the focus of the first two talks at the Faith Theological Symposium at Ampleforth. Fr Stephen Boyle this morning looked at some different ways in which Pope John Paul's "theology of the body" audiences have been interpreted, and showed that his emphasis throughout on the problem of concupiscence gives no room for some of the exaggerated ways in which people have spoken about the body.

This afternoon, Fr David Barrett will be speaking about St Hilary of Poitiers. He will soon be defending his doctorate on St Hilary so it will be good to hear from him about one of my favourite Fathers.

I'm afraid that internet access is a bit restricted since I have to use a computer in the hospitality office (office hours only.) I had to make sure that my Catholic Herald comment got in on time this afternoon. Comment moderation and further blogging will have to wait until tomorrow.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Holy Year for Nuns

St Conleth's Catholic Heritage have proposed observing a Holy Year for nuns. Here is the text of the post:
Following the Holy Year for Priests, it is surely time to pray for consecrated women. Therefore, dear reader, we urge you to ask Ecclesiastical Authorities to dedicate a special year to give thanks to God for Nuns and to pray for Nuns and for more Nuns. What better way to do honour to St. Brigid?

Please proclaim an Holy Year for Nuns!

Ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu!
The Latin text of the last line is from the Benedictus antiphon when the office is celebrated of the Blessed Virgin Mary on a Saturday. The full text is:
Beata Dei Genitrix Maria, * Virgo perpetua, templum Domini, sacrarium Spiritus sancti: sola sine exemplo placuisti Domino nostro Jesu Christo: ora pro populo, interveni pro clero, intercede pro devoto femineo sexu.

O Blessed Mary, Mother of God, perpetual Virgin, temple of the Lord, sanctuary of the Holy Ghost, without parallel you pleased our Lord Jesus Christ: pray for the people, plead for the clergy, make intercession for devoted (or vowed) women.
Knowing so many good an holy women who labour in times of confusion, error and in some cases the virtual collapse of the congregation in which they vowed to live, I support this idea. I am fortunate to have some religious sisters come to Mass in my parish but there are many places where young people have never seen a woman visibly witnessing to her lifelong dedication to Christ in the religious life. That is a great loss for the Church.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Photos of St Aloysius Glasgow

St Aloysius, Glasgow

Photographer Stephen Lipton provides an opportunity for us to rejoice in beautiful Church architecture. A correspondent who sent me some photos of really ghastly Churches pointed me to photos of St Aloysius Church in Glasgow. The Church was designed by architect Charles Menart and built between 1908 and 1910.

These photos form part of a very impressive photostream on Flickr. Glaswegians may especially appreciate the set devoted to their city. Many thanks to Stephen for permission to post the photos here.

St Aloysius RC Church, Glasgow

Goodbye to Oscar

Oscar was a very good-natured dog. I am not at my ease normally with dogs but he was so friendly that he overcame my hard-wired anxiety which dates from my early childhood when I was bitten a couple of times by uncontrolled canines.

Sadly Oscar has had to go the way of all flesh. Please pray for his owner to whom he was a good companion.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Usus antiquior Mass returns to Croatia

Congratulations to Benedictus, the Society for the Promotion of the Traditional Mass in Croatia. Tomorrow morning at 11.30am they have the first traditional Mass since Summorum Pontificum, arranged at the Church of St. Martin in Zagreb. The Mass is scheduled to be said there at the same time every Sunday and Holyday from now on. 11.30am in Croatia is 10.30am in England so I will be celebrating the traditional Mass at the same time and will remember them at the altar.

This development in Croatia has been followed at the Rorate Caeli blog (The PCED intervenes in Croatia) which reported on correspondence with the Diocese of Zagreb and the PCED, available in the original Croatian and in English translation.

Thanks to a constructive intervention on the part of the PCED, and the co-operation of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Josip Cardinal Bozanić, the diocese of Zagreb has followed the provisions of Summorum Pontificum in response to the petitions of a stable group. Auxiliary Bishop Šaško has been given responsibility for ensuring that the legitimate demands of the faithful are met in accord with the Motu Proprio and Father Vitkovic will celebrate the Mass in St Martin's, which is conveniently located for the faithful. Great care has been taken by those responsible for the arrangements to provide materials to enable people to follow the Mass with understanding, and reverence.

Cardinal Bozanić, was formerly Bishop of Krk. The main liturgical language there used to be Old Croatian. This is also referred to as Old Slavonic, but should not be confused with the Old Church Slavonic used by the Orthodox Slavs. The script of the language was "glagoljica": the letter "B" is in the centre of the stamp of Benedictus (see above.)

When Mass was said in this language, it was obviously archaic but could be understood - though many people could not read the script. The use of Old Slavonic in the Roman rite long predates the Council of Trent which permitted it to continue. The singing which accompanied it originated in the time of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 9th century.

This much loved ancient custom continued until the second Vatican Council when the language was replaced by modern Croatian. Many of those involved in the traditional movement in Croatia would like to restore the Old Croatian use it in the areas where it once flourished. A 10th century protagonist of the use of Old Slavonic was bishop Grgur Niski (Gregory of Nin). Visitors to Split can see his statue (right), the work of Ivan Meštrovic, in front of the Northern Gate of the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

The Old Croatian use could be cited as a precedent for the use of the traditional Mass in an older form of English by the parishes of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Papal Household scam warning

From yesterday's Bollettino:
The Prefecture of the Papal Household, having been informed of the existence of unauthorised offers by some Tour Operators, especially on internet, of assistance in procuring tickets, with a service charge, for General Audiences and Papal ceremonies, particularly for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II on Sunday, May 1, wishes to make it clear that:

1) For the Beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II, as made clear from the outset, no tickets are required.

2) The tickets provided by the Prefecture of the Papal Household for General Audiences and Papal ceremonies are always issued FREE of charge and no person or organization can request any kind of payment.


Motu Proprio Appeal

There have recently been reports of possible restrictions on the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum in the forthcoming Instruction which is to be issued in clarification. It should be added that these reports have been contradicted by other sources and so the situation remains a little confused.

It would, of course, be a great pity if the Ambrosian rite were to be excluded from the provisions of Summorum Pontificum or if there were restrictions placed on Bishops wishing to use the usus antiquior for ordinations. One would hope that some recognition would be given to the magnificent response of the faithful to the provision of the traditional Mass as shown, for example in the above photo.

The main points of concern raised so far can be found at these posts at Rorate Caeli:

The Instruction - I Non-Roman rites and uses: a small sample of things to come, the risk of a return to the "indult" mentality

The Instruction - II Ghettoization must start in Ordination

The Italian blog Messa in Latino has further information for those who read Italian or are happy to work with a google translation.

NLM have now publicised an appeal to the Holy Father. This has also been simultaneously publicised by Rorate Caeli. It is worth noting that the appeal does not make any presumptions about the contents of the clarification but refers to reasons for concern:
The appeal does not presume to know or state what the actual contents of this proposed instruction are, however, in the light of the aforementioned reports, and given credible confirmations that there is reason for concern, it simply wishes to calmly and respectfully share our concern with the Holy Father about this potentiality, asking that, whatever is finally released, that the integrity of the letter and the spirit of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum be preserved.
I think that the wording is sensible and moderate, with the right note of balance between expressing gratitude to the Holy Father and asking him not to allow any restrictions to be made in the Clarification. I encourage you to pop over and take a minute to sign the appeal

[Please note that after you vote, the petition site will record the vote and then brings up a "donation" window. You can just close that window. It is not related to the appeal and not required.]

Gratia ad robur: the example of Manny Pacquiao

Filipino boxer, Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, generally known as "Manny" (or "Pacman") has fought at various weights in a glittering career and is regarded as the number one "pound for pound" boxer. Coming from a background of extreme poverty, he left home at 14 and lived on the streets of Manila. Married with four children, he was elected last May to the Filipino House of Representatives, representing the province of Sarangani. He is also a military reservist with the rank of Sergeant Major.

Manny attributes his sporting success to the grace of God. When he returns to the Philippines after winning a fight abroad, he attends Mass in thanksgiving Mass at the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila. (I wonder if he could be persuaded to contribute to the building of a minor Basilica in Blackfen?)

Manny has generously supported charitable projects, especially providing for the education of poor people in his native Mindanao. While on the road, he makes sure of getting to Sunday Mass. On the rare occasions that he loses a fight, he recognises the will of God and accepts defeat graciously. He is not ashamed to witness to the faith on his official website: see, for example his devotional post in advance of Christmas last year.

He is fighting Shane Mosley on 7 May at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, to retain the WBO Welterweight World Title.

H/T @lukecoppen and CNN Belief: The prayerful pugilist

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Mugs, manuals and Newman

Father Z has been busy designing new mugs. I enjoyed his post today about the Unreconstructed Ossified Manualist mug, "sure to bolster solid priests and annoy liberals everywhere."

Father is right in pointing to the wholesale ditching of theological and moral manuals in the wake of the second Vatican Council. I hope you don't need me to point out that there is nothing in the Council to justify such a radical departure. There were some drawbacks with the manualist approach, particularly if the lecturer did not inject any life into the course or allow students to ask questions.

We also need to take account of theology that has been written recently: further investigation of some of the work of St Thomas, for example (and possibly refutation of some of the wilder speculation which is contrary to the magisterium.) The moral manuals would have needed new material on bioethical questions and social teaching.

Rather more important that those reservations is to remind ourselves of what Optatam Totius had to say on the teaching of dogmatic theology:
Dogmatic theology should be so arranged that these biblical themes are proposed first of all. Next there should be opened up to the students what the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church have contributed to the faithful transmission and development of the individual truths of revelation. The further history of dogma should also be presented, account being taken of its relation to the general history of the Church. Next, in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections. They should be taught to recognize these same mysteries as present and working in liturgical actions and in the entire life of the Church. They should learn to seek the solutions to human problems under the light of revelation, to apply the eternal truths of revelation to the changeable conditions of human affairs and to communicate them in a way suited to men of our day.
All of these elements are to be found in the older manuals of dogmatic theology. One of my own favourites is the four volume Sacrae Theologiae Summa (STS) produced by the Spanish Jesuits in 1955 and published with the highly respected BAC imprint. They also communicated in a way suited to the men of their day: that element would need to be updated for the men of today who, in Europe at least, live in a vastly more secularised environment.

I am in awe of the depth of scholarship shown in a manual such as the STS and use books like that in informing my own teaching. When teaching dogmatic theology, it is important not to leave out anything that is essential; it is therefore also important to discern what is and is not essential. Some of the more arcane historical disputes may be passed over in favour of ensuring that enough time is available for theological questions that are more "live" today. Nevertheless, it is surprising how some questions that have been neglected in recent years can shed light on current debates over pastoral practice.

So I suppose I would not be an entirely unreconstructed ossified manualist - neither would Fr Z, of course. But it is a good joke to have a mug with this inscription. Here is the standard blurb for the beer stein which I will be ordering:
Heft a cold one in this 22 oz. ceramic stein with gold trim. A great “usable” alternative to the trophy. Make any day Oktoberfest whether with this impressive stein on the shelf or in-hand. Cheers!
While I'm at it, I must get one of the Blessed John Henry Newman mugs too:

It didn't make it onto the list of official merchandise for the Beatification. Here is the full graphic (a quotation from Newman's Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine):

A prayerful "St John's Day" at the Seminary


Earlier this week I stayed on at the Seminary at Wonersh for an extra day in order to take part in the celebration of St John's Day. The feast day of the principal patron falls on 27 December when everyone is away, so each year another day is chosen to venerate him during the term.

On Monday evening there was solemn first Vespers with the Rector, Mgr Jeremy Garrett, as celebrant, and two cantors in copes. After supper there was an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, concluded by sung Compline and Benediction with one of the recently ordained Deacons as celebrant. For Lauds on the morning of the feast, the Rector was again celebrant for the solemn sung office. At the Mass, Archbishop Peter Smith was celebrant, assisted by several other Bishops and priests, with silver jubilarian Fr Rags Hay-Will preaching.

The Sacred Liturgy was a model of dignified celebration of the revised Roman rite. The Divine Office was given its proper part in the liturgical celebration of the feast with the psalms being sung to simple tones suited to the accents of English sentences. There was a peaceful and familial atmosphere of prayerful preparation for the Pontifical Mass.

At the festive lunch, it is traditional to have a jubilarian give the speech. This year, Canon Joseph Collins of St Mary's, West Croydon, who celebrates his Golden Jubilee this year, shared his memories and his experience of the sacred priesthood.

St John's Day

FSSP in England: forthcoming pastoral and spiritual events

Fr de Malleray and Fr Leworthy FSSP are not letting the grass grow under their feet. The current list of forthcoming events is indeed impressive. Their zeal and diligence is an example to all of us. Here is a barebones list of events listed (so far) until the end of the summer:
  • Lenten Silent Retreat 25-28 March at Douai Abbey
  • Vocation discernment weekend 8-10 April at St John Fisher House (the FSSP residence in Reading)
  • International Juventutem youth gathering 4-6 March in Fribourg, 
  • FSSP pilgrimage for World Youth Day in Madrid 9-21 August
  • Residential retreat (men and women 18-35) at Douai, 9-11 September, organised by Young Catholic Adults and led by Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP
  • Day of Recollection on the Feast of St Joseph at Ladyewell Shrine in Broughton (near Preston) on 19 March
  • Full Easter Triduum at St William of York, Reading
  • Sung Mass at Tyburn for the feast of the English Martyrs (4 May), praying for the conversion of England
  • First Solemn High Mass of newly ordained Fr Matthew McCarthy on Sat 28 May 3pm at St James's Spanish Place
  • Clergy Summer Retreat 4-8 July at Cold Ash Pastoral Centre
  • 11-14 July Fr Simon Leworthy will be leading a Liturgical training session for priests in Ireland
  • Monthly: Men's group, Ladies group, and Holy Hour
See full details at the Forthcoming Events page of the FSSP site for England. Pray also for the Vocations Discernment Retreat which is taking place at St John Fisher House this weekend.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

On being fair to bomb shelters

"That is a bomb shelter, right?" was one Lux Occulta's reaction to the Church of San Giacomo at Foligno, pictured in my post Storms brewing over Church architecture in Italy. Today I received an email from Simon Cotton which makes me think that the comment was unfair to bomb shelters.

In the latest issue of New Directions (p.18), Simon Cotton writes:
A church is a church, but hundreds of years ago it might be the only substantial building in a community. When danger threatened, it was a natural refuge, and if danger persisted it was only natural to make it more secure, by fortifying it. The finest collection of these (see New Directions Jan 2010, p. 18) is in the region of NE France called the Thiérache, where most fortifcations that remain today are in 16th and 17th c. brick.
The photo above, copied from Simon's article, shows the fortified towers of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Prisces.

"Spiked" on the difference between chimps and humans

"Just another ape?" is the title of Helene Guldberg's book examining the difference between humans and chimpanzees. In the January 2011 Spiked review of of books, in the article "The chasm between great apes and people" she looks at Jon Cohen's "Searching for What Makes Us Human, in Rainforests, Labs, Sanctuaries, and Zoos" and Jeremy Taylor's "Not a Chimp". The subheading for her article is "For all the claims that apes and humans are genetically ‘98.5 per cent the same’, there is still an unfathomable gap between us."

Spiked is a generally left-wing publication which prides itself on being "freethinking" and liberal; there is certainly much with which any orthodox Catholic would disagree. However it has a refreshing ability to question commonly held secular opinion. Helene Guldberg's article is a good example of this.

I was personally struck by the article particularly because in many respects it takes much the same line as Fr Edward Holloway, founder of the Faith Movement, in his book Catholicism: a new synthesis (although, of course, she does not go beyond the observable phenomena to argue for the existence of the spiritual soul.)

If you are interested in apologetics in this field that do not commit you to the denial of the evolution of matter (or indeed the error of proposing that the soul evolves from matter) you might well enjoy What Makes Man Unique? in the Reasons for Believing series.

H/T SPUC news

Monday, 14 February 2011

Storms brewing over Church architecture in Italy

Cardinal Ravasi and "superstar" architect Paolo Portoghesi have laid in to the architectural style of some of the Churches that have recently been built in Italy. Sandro Magister reports today on articles written L'Osservatore Romano: New Churches. The Vatican Flunks the Italian Bishops

Cardinal Ravasi attacked the kind of modern Churches
[...] in which we find ourselves lost as in a conference hall, distracted as in a sports arena, packed in as at a tennis court, degraded as in a pretentious and vulgar house.
Paolo Portoghesi mentioned specifically the three Churches that had won the Italian Bishops' Conference national architectural contest in 2000: those built in Foligno by Massimiliano Fuksas (above), in Catanzaro by Alessandro Pizzolato, and in Modena by Mauro Galantino (below).

e non mi abbandonare mai
Photo credit: Antonio Trogu 

Magister's piece concludes with another article published in L'Osservatore, this time by Fr Timothy Verdon, an art historian from the US. Fr Verdon writes on "Basilica and Circle. The Tradition of the Great Churches of Rome." His analysis is very far from emphasising the idea of the people all being gathered round in a circle; he focusses instead on the well of light at the heart of the building and the centrality of Christ.

It is a relief to hear that there is some opposition to the ludicrously brutalist nonsense that seems to be popping up at great expense all over Italy when it would be possible to build Churches instead.

Chen Guangcheng latest

Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese lawyer who exposed and spoke out against the policy of forced abortion and sterilisation in the Shandong Province. More than 130,000 women were forced to have abortions as part of the coercive one child policy. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison.

In 2006 I wrote about the Jubilee campaign to free him. He was not freed and so in 2009 I wrote about the petition to the Prime Minister to Free Chen Guangcheng! Last year he was let out of prison after serving the full four year sentence.

However, as Pat Buckley of the European Life network reports, he is still under persecution. Chen is under illegal house arrest, with himself and his family, under intrusive surveillance each day by three shifts of agents, each shift comprising 22 people. Only his 76 year old mother is allowed to go out to buy food.

The above video is the first of five parts of a film that he recently made in his house and smuggled out. Here are links to the other parts: Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

Because of the video, the defenceless Chen (who is blind) and his wife were beaten senseless by the government agents. I am sure that many good Chinese will be ashamed that their country should be represented to the world by such cowardly and dishonourable conduct. Chen's voice by contrast, is one of true courage, and love for the Chinese people and their beautiful country.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Congratulations to Rev Edwin Barnes

Former Anglican Bishop, Edwin Barnes, was ordained to the Diaconate this morning by Bishop Crispian Hollis in his private chapel. Rev Barnes' ordination to the priesthood will take place on Saturday 5 March.

Rev Barnes was a Provincial Episcopal Visitor, known colloquially as a "flying bishop" and he will be a trusted friend for many Anglicans who are considering taking the step of joining the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. His Ancient Richborough blog has always been an encouragement to Catholic-leaning Anglicans. I owe it a personal debt of gratitude too, since it has for some time provided me with good number of visitors every day.

Do read Rev Barnes' post More Revs from which I took the above photo. To the left of Bishop Crispian is the ever cheerful and sound Deacon Stephen Morgan.

Catholic Herald in "Best Catholic Newspaper" finals is now running a poll for the Readers Choice Award 2011 for the best Catholic newspaper. The Catholic Herald is included in the five finalists. The others are all US papers: the National Catholic Register, the National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and The Wanderer.

At the time of writing, the Herald is third. That's not bad at all but a concerted effort from the British Catholic blogs could move it up.

Vote here!. Voting ends on 8 March.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Priority Trust

The Priority Trust has a sharp practical focus of providing mobility equipment for physically disabled children and young people so that they can participate in society and be enabled to achieve their potential

Last August, the Catholic Herald ran an interview with Kieran Prior which tells of how he secured a job at Goldman Sachs where he made staggering amounts of money for them despite living with a disability similar to cerebral palsy. (See: Religion and the City go hand in hand)

Kieran wants to ensure that other physically disabled people are able to achieve their potential. In this, a crucial factor is having the right mobility equipment at the right time. As he says:
Without the equipment that aids my mobility, my achievements both academically and professionally would have been impossible, rather than difficult. This should never happen again. Going forward we have the opportunity to ensure that every child’s need is met.
This specific need is the focus of the Priority Trust. The website observes:
There is a recognised and sustained problem with the provision of the correct mobility equipment for disabled young people that will enable them to play a full role in society. However the problem is sufficiently specific that a concentrated amount of funding will have a significant impact.
They quote a 2006 report from Barnardo's:
A number of official reports highlight that over the past 20 years there have been no significant changes in the delivery of wheelchair services, with the result that disabled children and young people are still facing numerous difficulties in being provided with the right mobility equipment at the right time.
Looking at the "Who we are" section it is obvious that a number of senior business and financial people have been recruited to help the charity. The clear and specific aim reflects the practical wisdom of those who have to show results in their working life and want to apply the same approach to helping others in need.

I'm happy to do my bit to make The Priority Trust better known and especially to commend to you the story of Kieran Prior who is the inspiration behind it.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Blog now scrolling faster

I was getting annoyed with the slow and jerky behaviour of the blog when scrolling down or when pressing "page down". I guessed that it might be the re-painting of the screen with the background picture. Having turned off that setting, it now scrolls properly.

The other day I also changed the post colours to pure white on pure black rather than light grey on dark grey. I hope that improves things a bit for those who don't like white on black. I'm inclined to keep that for the posts because it does provide a much better setting for photographs.

Some time soon, I will adjust the picture to show more of the Tiber - at the request of Sir Dan of the Nesbitry.

Just having a tooth reconstructed

I'm currently blogging from the waiting room at the Birkbeck Dentistry in Sidcup. My dentist, Peter Walsh has been drilling away at a damaged tooth with an old filling, to prepare it for a ceramic reconstruction. The resulting hole is sprayed with reflective powder and a 3D image is taken. A machine then buzzes away to construct a ceramic copy to fit the hole exactly (I suppose there must be some kind of tooth-printer driver.) When that is done, the ceramic piece is inserted into the tooth and bonded to the tooth by ultra-violet light.

Injecting, drilling and excavation takes about 45 minutes. Waiting time for the new bit is about 40 minutes (fitting it only takes 5 minutes.) Being a high-tech practice, the dentist has made internet-connected computers available in the waiting room. What a sound chap! (Mind you, the treatment will cost me a few bob. Thank goodness for my parishioners and their generous Christmas offering!)

I always find the dentist's chair a good place to meditate on the passion of Christ. It helps put the odd twinge in perspective.

Bishop O'Donoghue to lead Pro-Life Walsingham Pilgrimage

Each year in October there is a pro-life pilgrimage to Walsingham. It has been announced that this year's pilgrimage will be led by the great Bishop O'Donoghue of the highly acclaimed Fit for Mission documents. The Pilgrimage will be on Sunday 2 October.

Unfortunately, as it is on a Sunday, it is not possible for me to go, but I do encourage all good pro-lifers to put this in your diary. It might be an occasion for people to talk together about the possibility of a March for Life in London.

Ordinariate puts downsizing on hold

"Oh there will only be a few." This was almost a mantra in the months leading up to the establishment of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It seems that the "few" is a couple of hundred here, a couple of hundred there, along with various groups of several priests.

Fr John Boyle has picked up on an article in TotalCatholic which reports that seven Anglican priests and 300 lay people from six congregations within the territory of the Diocese of Brentwood are to join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This means that significantly more ordinations and receptions are foreseen this year for the Ordinariate alone than the yearly average figure for dioceses in England and Wales.

Recently, Bishop Thomas McMahon and the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell were interviewed by Radio Essex: the Ordinariate Portal has posted a transcript. The Catholic Herald adds a significant angle to the story from this interview. (See: Bishop defers plans to cut number of Masses thanks to ordinariate) Bishop McMahon's answers to the interviewer's questions were sensible and balanced. During the course of his remarks, he said:
Rationalisation of Masses for a number of parishes has been put on hold for the time being, as we wait to see what effect the priests coming into the ordinariate will have in the diocese in the months to come.
This is welcome news. It has become rather depressing to hear constantly of how we are preparing for a Church with fewer priests, amalgamating parishes and generally looking forward to the point where we might as well say "Last one out, turn the lights off." Despite the negative and unenthusiastic spin put on it by quite a few people within the Church, the Ordinariate does seem set to make a real difference to the life of the Church in England and Wales. (But the Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford still maintains that "it is a small group of people.")

Notte Illuminata : À la Madone : Andrea Bocelli

Many thanks to Joan in the combox for pointing me to this video of Gounod's À la Madone sung by Andrea Bocelli with some devotional filming of the veneration of a statue of the Madonna.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Up on the roof

Church roof 001

I suppose it is a traditional thing for a parish priest to have to get the roof mended. We have had scaffolding up for a week or so to provide access to the ridge tiles. The pointing had eroded in places and some of the tiles had cracked. Here is one that had gone completely:

Church roof 003

The work is nearly finished and we are all hoping that this will solve the problem of a couple of stubborn leaks that show themselves every time we have heavy rain.

This morning, the scaffolder was beginning to take down some of the poles and boards, so I thought I should get up there before I lost the chance. Four ladder climbs later, there was a good view from the top:

Church roof 006

It was also an opportunity to get a potential profile picture - the scaffolder kindly obliged:

Church roof 008

He also got this view with the Shooters Hill water tower on the horizon. From my end of the scaffolding it was hidden by a tree:

Church roof 009

Men's Retreat in August

The monks of Saint Joseph de Clairval Abbey in Flavigny, France, will be giving a five-day (silent) retreat for men this August, following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.

The retreat will be from Thursday 18 August to Tuesday 23 August 2011, at Pantasaph in North Wales. Mass will be celebrated each day during the retreat according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Here are the links to find out more, or to register for the retreat:
Information about the Retreat

My article on Mutual Enrichment for Usus Antiquior

My article 'Mutual Enrichment' in Theory and Practice has just been published in the latest edition of the journal Usus Antiquior. Here is the abstract:
To what extent may the prayers and ceremonial actions of the usus antiquior be used in the celebration of Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI? Examples of some elements being used by Archbishop Ranjith and Pope Benedict XVI seem to contradict in practice the idea that such enrichment is forbidden. An often quoted text from Notitiae, which discouraged the use of traditional elements, is examined and found wanting, especially in the light of Summorum Pontificum, which is considered in terms of its application to the celebration of the newer form of Mass. The enhancement of the newer form of Mass by the addition of elements from the usus antiquior is distinguished from arbitrary deformation of the liturgy and from the imposition of the priest’s personal whims. Some possible future practical developments are outlined.
The article is copyrighted but I am allowed to put a copy on my own website so here is a link to the full text. You can download it to read at home etc., but it would be against the terms of copyright that I have agreed for you to post the whole article on your blog. You can, of course, quote from it within reason. The citation is 
Usus Antiquior, Vol. 2 No. 1, January, 2011, 61–68
and you can subscribe here.

I'm very grateful to Dr Laurence Hemming for reviewing and accepting the article. He is currently combining editing Usus Antiquior with his new role as captain of a squad at his rowing club in Mortlake, where he’s training hard in an eight for the coming racing season on the Thames.

Rowing is probably a healthy diversion from traditionalist concerns; but you can never be entirely safe. See, for example, the Thames Traditional Rowing Association who promote the sport of fixed seat rowing and sculling on the River Thames in Waterman’s Cutters based on boats used in London in the 1700s.

Later I was wondering whether the coxless fours might count as sedevacantists but that is probably getting a bit silly.

Gearing up for WYD 2011

This would be a good advertisement to show to young people wondering about going to World Youth Day. It is made by Grassroots Films - the ones who made "Fishers of Men."

H/T Elizabeth Scalia The Anchoress, via Deacon Greg Kandra at The Deacon's Bench

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

RCOG proposes to deny abortion risks

Maria Stops Abortion, the blog of the Good Counsel Network has posted on the consultation launched by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on their proposed guidelines for the care of women requesting induced abortion. See: RCOG Guidelines Want All Medics to Deny Abortion Has Serious Risks

Here is a link to the text of the proposed guidelines. Claire McCullogh gives a few examples of the "care" that is proposed for women:
  • Women should be informed that induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer.
  • Women should be informed that there are no proven associations between induced abortion and subsequent ectopic pregnancy, placenta praevia or infertility.
  • Women should be informed that induced abortion is associated with a small increase in risk of subsequent preterm birth, which increases with the number of abortions.
  • Women should be informed that most women who have abortions do not experience adverse psychological sequelae.
There is also some suggested reading in relation to the above:
Rachel's Vineyard
Abortion Breast Cancer

The RCOG proposed guidelines are worrying in the dictatorship of relativism. It is not simply a question of recommending that women be informed that there are no serious risks to them in having an abortion. It is likely that those who do not follow the guidelines, and do inform women of the risks will be at risk in their professional career.

If you are a doctor, nurse, midwife or other healthcare professional, may I encourage you to respond to the consultation. The closing date for submissions is February 18th.

Mantilla poll at WDTPRS

Fr Z has a mantilla poll - well actually they are usually called "chapel veils" in the US, I think. The poll asks: "Should women in the Latin Church wear some kind of head-cover in church?" and gives a number of possible responses. Go over and cast a vote: it would be interesting to see how this turns out with a reasonably large number of respondents.

If you want some background information, there is a lengthy post at the Catholic Knight: The Chapel Veil - Veiling or Head Covering - Fully Explained That article has this fascinating newspaper clipping:

Rev Bugnini no less! The clipping has no date but it refers to the Congregation for Divine Worship as "new." The CDW was erected on 8 May 1969.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Pictures from Mass at Joint Ops HQ

Last Tuesday, the feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP celebrated Mass according to the usus antiquior at the UK's Operating Headquarters at Northwood. There is normally no more than a handful of people at Mass so getting fifteen people along was a bonus at a base where there is a constant high tempo of activity.

Fr de Malleray heard confessions before Mass and gave a sermon in which he reflected on sacrifice and the love of God, and on St Ignatius' witness as a martyr. He also spoke about the meaning of true Christian martyrdom out of love for God and neighbour, in contrast with the hate of terrorists who kill themselves in order to harm others.

At a small reception afterwards, Fr de Malleray was able to meet the military and civilian Catholics at the HQ. About half the congregation were unfamiliar with the older form of the Mass but many were enthusiastic about attending such a Mass again.

Here is a photo of Commander Neville McNally (who served Mass) with Fr de Malleray, taken by Leading Seaman Johnny Fallon (Royal Navy):

The other photos were taken by the HQ photographer Mark Rawlings and are Crown Copyright - but they may be used in blogs.

Writings of Fr William Most online

Photo credit: George P Landow at The Victorian Web

The Curt Jester has posted on the book "Free from all Error" in which Fr William Most defends the inerrancy of scripture and, at the same time, gives a good introduction to many topics in the study of the scriptures. As the text is available online, Jeff has also kindly made up ebook versions of it in the two popular formats epub, and mobi (for Kindle etc.)

I was grateful for the link to the collection of Fr Most's works at the Catholic Culture Library. Have a look also at the main page of the library - there is quite a large collection of articles there.

In which Fr Andrew doesn't joke but I do

Fr Andrew Brookes OP answers a question today: Quodlibet 34 - The differences between Dominicans and Franciscans?. I must confess that when I saw this in the feed reader, I thought it was going to be a humorous answer as there are many jokes about such questions.

Don't worry - I will tell you one in a minute, but before that, have a look at Fr Andrew's post because it is a good, brief answer to the kind of question that many people ask. Jokes about rivalry between religious orders are just friendly banter: among those who respect their own vocation, there is always a great respect for the authentic vocation of others. Here is the conclusion of Fr Andrew's answer:
Although both Dominic and Francis both lived very poor personal lives, Franciscans are seen to place a higher value on poverty as an end in itself in following Jesus whereas Dominicans tend to see it as helping us to live simply and be free to preach and to love and to trust in God, so it is more of a means to an end, perfection consisting in love of God and neighbour.

There have sometimes been historical tensions between the groups but there are also strong links binding us together as parts of the one body of Christ.
Now for the joke - with apologies if you have heard it before.

Which order is more successful, the Dominicans or the Jesuits? 

The Dominicans were founded by St Dominic to fight the heresy of Albigensianism. The Jesuits were founded by St Ignatius Loyola to fight Protestantism... So when did you last meet an Albigensian?
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