Monday 30 April 2012

Good news, and yet more good news!

Firstly, thank all of you who sent us good wishes for our 40th wedding anniversary and also to those who remembered us in your prayers.
We did manage an excellent fish and chip supper on Broadhaven Beach in St Bride's Bay; the sun (albeit a weak one) came out for about 30 minutes before we scooted for home and real warmth!

And then, at Mass yesterday I met the renowned blogger, Chris Gillibrand who has now taken up residence in the Diocese of Menevia - a definite case for a huzzah! Chris's blog is Catholic Church Conservation which is a rather "top of the league" sort of blog.

I cannot help feeling that, when Catholic bloggers meet, there should be some sort of established form of greeting. No, not a masonic handshake and certainly not a high five but, maybe a hearty Ave et vale! Does anyone have any polite suggestions to make?

                                  A good form of greeting for Catholic bloggers?

Of course, the next portion of good news was that the Mass was, as always, wonderful and the singing of the choir......just breathtaking.

We are so fortunate to have The Newcastle Emlyn Schola.
 I got to contemplating what it would be like in this diocese without them and
came to the conclusion that they are the force that binds us together around our priests and the Holy Mass - long may they continue.

And yet more good news, this time from Rome. A priest friend reports that it is now quite hard to celebrate an OF Mass in St Peter's as all the altar servers are up to speed with their Latin and only wish to serve at EF Masses!
That is definitely one for the brick by brick file.

All in all, not a bad start to the week.

Feast of Pope St Pius V - Quo Primum - worth a re-read

Was Archbishop Lefebvre disobedient? Read the Papal Encyclical of Pope St Pius V and decide for yourself. This encyclical  normalised what became known as the Tridentine Latin Mass so that, with very few sensible exceptions, there was one Faith and one Liturgy.
If you read nothing else, read the last sentence.
Servant of the Servants of God

    Upon our elevation to the Apostolic throne We gladly turned Our mind and energies, and directed all Our thoughts, to the matter of preserving incorrupt the public worship of the Church; and We have striven, with God’s help, by every means in Our power to achieve that purpose.
    Whereas amongst other decrees of the Holy Council of Trent We were charged with revision and re-issue of the sacred books, to wit the Catechism, the Missal and the Breviary; and whereas We have with God’s consent published a Catechism for the instruction of the faithful, and thoroughly revised the Breviary for the due performance of the Divine Office, We next, in order that Missal and Breviary might be in perfect harmony, as is right and proper (considering that it is altogether fitting that there should be in the Church only one appropriate manner of Psalmody and one sole rite of celebrating Mass), deemed it necessary to give Our immediate attention to what still remained to be done, namely the re-editing of the Missal with the least possible delay.
    We resolved accordingly to delegate this task to a select committee of scholars; and they, having at every stage of their work and with the utmost care collated the ancient codices in Our Vatican Library and reliable (original or amended) codices from elsewhere, and having also consulted the writing of ancient and approved authors who have bequeathed to us records relating to the said sacred rites, thus restored the Missal itself to the pristine form and rite of the holy Fathers. When this production had been subjected to close scrutiny and further amended We, after mature consideration, ordered that the final result be forthwith printed and published in Rome, so that all may enjoy the fruits of this labor: that priests may know what prayers to use, and what rites and ceremonies they are to use henceforward in the celebration of Masses.
    Now therefore, in order that all everywhere may adopt and observe what has been delivered to them by the Holy Roman Church, Mother and Mistress of the other churches, it shall be unlawful henceforth and forever throughout the Christian world to sing or to read Masses according to any formula other than that of this Missal published by Us; this ordinance to apply to all churches and chapels, with or without care of souls, patriarchal, collegiate and parochial, be they secular or belonging to any religious Order whether of men (including the military Orders) or of women, in which conventual Masses are or ought to be sung aloud in choir or read privately according to the rites and customs of the Roman Church; to apply moreover even if the said churches have been in any way exempted, whether by indult of the Apostolic See, by custom, by privilege, or even by oath or Apostolic confirmation, or have their rights and faculties guaranteed to them in any other way whatsoever; saving only those in which the practice of saying Mass differently was granted over two hundred years ago simultaneously with the Apostolic See’s institution and confirmation of the church, and those in which there has prevailed a similar custom followed continuously for a period of not less than two hundred years; in which cases We in no wise rescind their prerogatives or customs aforesaid. Nevertheless, if this Missal which We have seen fit to publish be more agreeable to these last, We hereby permit them to celebrate Mass according to this rite, subject to the consent of their bishop or prelate, and of their whole Chapter, all else to the contrary notwithstanding. All other churches aforesaid are hereby denied the use of other missals, which are to be wholly and entirely rejected; and by this present Constitution, which shall have the force of law in perpetuity, We order and enjoin under pain of Our displeasure that nothing be added to Our newly published Missal, nothing omitted therefrom, and nothing whatsoever altered there in.
    We specifically command each and every patriarch, administrator and all other persons of whatsoever ecclesiastical dignity, be they even Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, or, possessed of any other rank or pre-eminence, and We order them by virtue of holy obedience to sing or to read the Mass according to the rite and manner and norm herein laid down by Us, and henceforward to discontinue and utterly discard all other rubrics and rites of other missals, howsoever ancient, which they have been accustomed to follow, and not to presume in celebrating Mass to introduce any ceremonies or recite any prayers other than those contained in this Missal.
    Furthermore, by these presents and by virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We give and grant in perpetuity that for the singing or reading of Mass in any church whatsoever this Missal may be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment or censure, and may be freely and lawfully used. Nor shall bishops, administrators, canons, chaplains and other secular priests, or religious of whatsoever Order or by whatsoever title designated, be obliged to celebrate Mass otherwise than enjoined by Us. We likewise order and declare that no one whosoever shall be forced or coerced into altering this Missal; and this present Constitution can never be revoked or modified, but shall forever remain valid and have the force of law, notwithstanding previous constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the usage of the churches aforesaid established by very long and even immemorial prescription, saving only usage of more than two hundred years.
    Consequently it is Our will, and by the same authority We decree, that one month after publication of this Our Constitution and Missal, priests of the Roman Curia shall be obliged to sing or to read the Mass in accordance therewith; others south of the Alps, after three months; those who live beyond the Alps, after six months or as soon as the Missal becomes available for purchase.
    Furthermore, in order that the said Missal may be preserved incorrupt and kept free from defects and errors, the penalty for nonobservance in the case of all printers resident in territory directly or indirectly subject to Ourselves and the Holy Roman Church shall be forfeiture of their books and a fine of 100 gold ducats payable ipso facto to the Apostolic Treasury. In the case of those resident in other parts of the world it shall be excommunication latae sententiae and all other penalties at Our discretion; and by Our Apostolic authority and the tenor of these presents. We also decree that they must not dare or presume either to print or to publish or to sell, or in any way to take delivery of such books without Our approval and consent, or without express permission of the Apostolic Commissary in the said parts appointed by us for that purpose. Each of the said printers must receive from the aforementioned Commissary a standard Missal to serve as an exemplar for subsequent copies, which, when made, must be compared with the exemplar and agree faithfully therewith, varying in no wise from the first impression printed in Rome.
    But, since it would be difficult for this present Constitution to be transmitted to all parts of the world and to come to the notice of all concerned simultaneously, We direct that it be, as usual, posted and published at the doors of the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles, at those of the Apostolic Chancery, and at the end of the Campo de’Fiori; moreover We direct that printed copies of the same, signed by a notary public and authenticated with the seal of an ecclesiastical dignitary, shall possess the same unqualified and indubitable validity everywhere and in every country that would attend the display there of Our present text. Accordingly, no one whosoever is permitted to infringe or rashly contravene this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, direction, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree and prohibition. Should any person venture to do so, let him understand that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
    Given at Saint Peter’s, Rome, in the year of Our Lord’s Incarnation one thousand five hundred and seventy, on the fourteenth day of July in the fifth year of Our Pontificate.
    Given at St. Peter's, Rome, in the year of Our Lord's Incarnation, one thousand five hundred and seventy, on the fourteenth day of July of the fifth year of Our Pontificate.                      H. Cumin Caesar Glorierius

"in perpetuity" doesn't that mean forever?

Saturday 28 April 2012

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou.....

Tomorrow is a special day.

It marks forty years of wedded bliss for Mrs Linen and me.

The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is one that is so often taken for granted. But, it is not a one off sacrament; it remains with you throughout your married life and its graces will rise and fall according to how much one applies the required acts of patience, humility, love and forbearance that a successful union demands.

We have been blessed with a happy marriage and four children. What more could one desire?

And we now crave the simple life, no bright lights and swish restaurants for us. We plan to celebrate tonight (as we shall be at Mass on Sunday and it's a long drive back - thank you Bishop).

We shall wend our way far from the throng to a lonely beach (weather permitting).

In my knapsack will be a bottle of wine and chips for hell with the expense!

That is how we wish to celebrate our first forty years together. How romantic say some; how mean say others...but it's our choice.

So, "A jug of wine, fish and chips and Thou..."  may not quite have the same poetic ring to it that Omar Khayyam may have intended but it will do nicely for us.

Not quite what Omar had in mind

And just for the record we were married at The Church of the Holy Name, Esher, Surrey.
Father Richard Sutherland RIP (son of the famous Halliday) did the necessary and provided a fine sermon that I can still remember quite well today.

He took the Wedding Feast at Cana as his homily (an obvious choice perhaps but Fr S had a fine way with words).

One sentence in particular still rings in my ears:

"Love has no levels; you cannot half love someone, you either love them wholly and fully or not at all. A married couple must remember that and ensure that their marriage reflects that fact; just as Almighty God loves us all wholly and without reserve."

Friday 27 April 2012

It's easier than skiing - celebrating the Latin Mass

I posted earlier in the week stating that celebrating the Latin Mass was not exactly easy but neither was it hard.

Now, after scratching around in my press cuttings file I find a letter that was published in The Catholic Herald that makes it quite clear that it is actually easy - the author of the letter?

None other than Father Julian Large, Cong. Orat., new Provost of the London Oratory.

Fr Large must have written the letter at least six years ago and I hope that he does not mind me bringing it to the light of day but, some young seminarian may draw great comfort from it.

Here it is...........

"Sir - I never passed a driving test, I do not ski and I can hardly swim.
My violin teacher advised me to give up all hope of learning to play any musical instrument on my second lesson.

I failed Maths O -level twice, and my French makes Parisian waiters wince.

I did, however, manage to teach myself how to celebrate the Traditional Mass (report, February 22nd).

It took one week reading J O'Connell's 'The Celebration of Mass' and practising on the desk in my room, and an hour's dry run with a patient priest the day before my ordination in 2003.

It can't be so difficult."

Great! Now it just requires that a Bishop upon reading my blog (extremely unlikely) takes the initiative (a word seldom found in or around Cathedrals) and orders 50 copies of this wonderful book and instructs orders his priests to do as Fr Large did and learn it, pdq!

And here's another example of a 'Distance Learning' resource that is also available (aka training video) to the FSSP....

                                      The EF Mass - "It can't be so difficult"

Thursday 26 April 2012

It's too late to ask Catholic schoolchildren to respond

News is coming through about the Catholic Education Service and its request to 385 Catholic Secondary schools to support the campaign opposing homosexual "marriage".

It would be interesting to hear from some Secondary school teachers on this issue but my estimate is that it is too late, Catholic schools, or most of them, are Catholic in name only.

There is no longer any depth of knowledge leading to a fervent faith, no spirit of concern for moral issues other than saving the whale and recycling old copies of The Tablet to make bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs (you see, it does have a use).

With most young people that I meet (and I do meet a fair number in the course of earning my crust), you cannot tell if they are Catholic.

They display an almost total lack of ignorance about the faith and they tend to have very liberal views on issues such as homosexuality, IVF and cohabiting together.
Their lives are dominated by their regard for 'self' and if 'self' reckons that it's OK for two men or two women to live together as husband and wife....what's the problem?

This is a cynical view but it is a realistic one. There are exceptions and there are some exceptional schools but they probably account for less than ten per cent of the total, just 38 decent schools in the whole of England and Wales, probably a lot less.

Dear me. Somebody has not been doing a very good job - who could that be?

Of course, the Godless ones have jumped on the bandwagon and have started their mantra about it being a "political" issue and therefore outside the remit of the Church Authorities. The Humanists and Secularists are also promising to pursue any breach of the laws that may occur as a result of this lobbying.

Sadly, I don't think they have much to fear. I would love to be proved wrong.

We are Catholic gypsies

This phrase was used recently by a friend to describe our present state: we travel long distances to Mass, we are disenfranchised, homeless, despised by our fellow Catholics and disliked by those who have authority over us.

Good morning Bishop!
We are the wanderers who live hand to mouth, never sure that, should the time come, there will be a proper priest to bestow the final sacrament upon us.

A romantic notion is it not? A self pitying one? No, not that.

Romantic, maybe. But it also happens to be true and there are times when I get *****y fed up with it.

I mean, what would be so difficult about providing a Latin Mass in say, ten percent of the parishes (instead of one per cent).

Living in a large city as a traditional Catholic may mean a train or bus journey to Mass but here in wild and woolly Wales, every Mass we attend costs us around £28 each Sunday and, in terms of time, it takes up most of the day.

Tsk, tsk! you say; how dare you reduce Mass to calculations regarding petrol costs and your own precious time.

And, indeed, there are others worse off than us "gypsies" but that argument wears a bit thin after the first twenty years or so.

It is not as if we were asking for something unachievable, for something that was inherently bad that would lower our spiritual defences; quite the opposite.

The Holy Father has determined that we should have both an "Ordinary" Mass and an "Extraordinary" one - so why then do Bishops only make provision for the Ordinary one?

How can a Bishop sleep easy in his bed at night knowing that he has failed (and failed wretchedly) to comply with the Pope's express wishes?

Does he go to sleep blissfully happy that he has fulfilled his pastoral role to the letter?
Thinking that his flock all believe that he is the best thing since sliced bread?

Or, does he fretfully toss and turn in the knowledge that, in reality, a section of his flock believe him to be of slightly less use than a chocolate teapot?

Wednesday 25 April 2012

The Latin Mass....outside an abortuary

H/T to New Advent for flagging up this one. Click HERE to see the post in full including one great photo of the Denver priest, Fr Joseph Hearty, at the moment of the Consecration.

"According to the Register, over 300 people attended the rally, which ended with a second Latin Mass celebrated by Fr. Hearty. There were so many at the final Mass that the priest returned to the altar four times to break up the hosts for distribution before finally running out".

"Death where is thy sting?"

There are some people who are quite phobic about death. Understandable, in a sense, especially if they do not have a faith.

Others refuse to discuss the subject or refer to it euphemistically as though it does not exist or will never happen.

But it does happen.
 Sometimes without warning, sometimes in illness and, inevitably, in old age.

We cannot avoid it but we can, as Catholics, prepare ourselves for a new and much better life; and one that will be eternal.

This clip shows a young boy who, at the time was terminally ill and who has since died.
He shows an amazing acceptance of the situation and an equally amazing appreciation of what lies ahead for him.

H/T to Fr Z for covering it and to Kathryn Lopez who first posted on Garvan.

Imam jailed for child molestation

You would think that such a headline would command lead position in the tabloids, at least for a few days.

After all, a Muslim cleric in a position of trust, attacking small's a red top journalist's dream is it not?

Actually, it is a journalist's nightmare because all crimes of paedophilia, as any fool knows, are committed by Catholic priests and they are easy targets while, a Muslim in the dock could produce all sorts of repercussions for any reporter involved  - you know what I mean.

Teachers, Vicars, Sports Coaches, Bus Drivers and especially Muslims, do not indulge in such perverted acts.

Policemen never do it, Doctors don't.

And Members of Parliament and Lawyers never do (well, I'm half right).

But this particular crime, together with the threats made by the local Muslim community to the mother of the boys (telling her that she was the sinful one), never saw the light of day beyond the local paper.

Of course, there will be some among you who will be thinking that this is a case of "double standards" but I could not possibly comment.......ahem.

Extracts of the local news coverage below:

"AN IMAM who sexually assaulted two boys has been jailed for three years.
Yazeid Osama Aqqad, 24, of Alfreton Road, Radford, touched one boy when he was sitting on his lap on two occasions and abused another boy after inviting him to sit on his lap.

The mother of the two boys has been "vilified" by the Muslim community for reporting the assaults, Nottingham Crown Court heard.
She has been subjected to "a number of unpleasant incidents" including an episode at her home and damage to her car, Sarah Knight, prosecuting, said.
The mother told the court she felt the acts were aimed at encouraging her to withdraw the allegations because in the eyes of the Muslim community, she had committed a sin.
Aqqad denied the offences during his trial, but was found guilty unanimously of three allegations of sexual assault on a male child under the age of 13 years".

From: This is Nottingham

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Oh to be in Richmond...... that bigotry's there

The Godless ones are at it again, this time in the leafy borough of Richmond-upon-Thames - home of boating, bijou brasseries, baristas and many pubs serving delicious Young's beer (almost as good as.....well you know the rest).

You see, something terrible is happening in this peaceful town, the Catholic authorities wish to build two new schools, one primary and one secondary.

Shock! Horror!
It's enough to make one spill one's Earl Grey.

The nerve and cheek of Catholics - wanting to bring their children up in their own faith, indoctrinating them (if only) and brain washing them so that they, in turn will have children themselves when adult (and in a heterosexual married state) and so the Catholic faith will be passed on from generation to generation.

What was it Cromwell said when he exterminated Irish Catholics willy nilly? (to such a degree that the holocaust, viewed per head of population, was positively liberal) - he said: "Nits make lice"

That's a good reason for a Humanist or a rancid Puritan to annihilate children as well as adults, "Nits make lice", a chilling phrase if ever there was one.

I'm surprised that BPAS or Marie Stopes have not adopted it as an advertising banner.

So, well done for Westminster Diocese for pushing ahead to seek planning approval and here is how Francis Phillips reported on the matter in The Catholic Herald.....

"....The BHA argue that if the council ratifies the plans they are flouting new rules from the Education Act 2011 that state: “If a local authority in England think a new school needs to be established in their area, they must seek proposals for the establishment of an Academy’ [i.e. a Free School]. Proposals are then adjudicated by the Department for Education (DfE).”

A statement from the BHA continues: “Richmond Council has been clear that it thinks the borough needs a Catholic secondary school to complement its existing Catholic primaries, and that there is also a need for a new Catholic primary to provide additional places. They say that the Act allows them to go ahead with Voluntary Aided Catholic schools without first following the above rule.

“The BHA is concerned that this offers a way of opening religious schools in the face of public opposition by the back door, avoiding the competition that would otherwise be required.”

This challenge to the Church looks as if it is a sign of things to come.

Who else will contest a planning application for a new Catholic School in the future? 

The Freemasons, the Communists, Liberal Democrats (same thing), The Royal and Ancient Order of Water Shrews?

So enjoy this verse while you may.....England may not be around for much longer.

Oh, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

Celebrating the Latin Mass is easy!

Actually, it would be more accurate to state that celebrating the Latin Mass is not difficult, "easy" is, perhaps, not the right word to use.

To those who have never witnessed a Latin Mass I urge them to watch the video clip below; to those who maintain that the Novus Ordo is the Mass for them - again, watch the video clip.

As an altar server I have been privileged to witness at close quarters, the intimacy between the celebrant priest and the Body and Blood of Christ.
The complex and detailed moves of the priest's hands, the blessings and reverent actions that weave themselves throughout the fabric of what is truly an Extraordinary Form of Mass. The whispered prayers, the sense that God is truly present.

These are missing in the new Mass, the Ordinary Form of Mass. As Father Baker of Downham Market used to say: "They have put the liturgy into a boiler suit".
 I can find no finer way of expressing the change from the Mass in the sacred Latin form to the bland and indifferent vernacular.

I was brought up to serve the Dominican Rite of the Latin Mass - now, alas gone from my memory. But for those who have converted to the faith within the past 40 years or so there is no need for alarm. If I remember correctly, there are no major differences between the rites, a few tweaks at the prayers at the foot of the altar is all that those in the pew might notice. Both are holy and both are good and I would dearly like to attend a Dominican Mass once more.

Two elements are wrong in this Mass. Can you spot them? Answers in the comments box please.

Monday 23 April 2012

St George's Day!

On one plane...............

Tintoretto - St George slaying the dragon

And, on another..........................

And, yet another........................

Prayer to Saint George
Almighty God, who gave to your servant George boldness to Confess the Name of our Saviour Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith: Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Plan A is the Catholic Church - Plan B....there is no Plan B!

The old apologetics case that states: "If you have twenty faiths all proclaiming the truth but all different in their doctrines then either only one can be right or they all can be wrong. There is no other conclusion" is one that I can readily identify with.

But it does mean that, Protestants, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and fur lined ocean going Seventh Day Adventists and others are on the wrong bus.
There is not a Plan B, only the Catholic Church.

I will leave on one side the concept of people of other faiths gaining an eternal reward; I am sure it does occur, through the redemptive qualities of Holy Mother Church but, if it was me, I would not leave anything to chance; I would want to be within the fold of 'the one true Church'.

In many ways, Plan A was much simpler before Vatican II (and I use the Council in this instance as a punctuation mark in the history of the Church in the twentieth century).

We were all Catholics in 1961. We all believed the same truths, it was all so very black and white. We did not say things like: "My conscience guides me not the Church" or, "I think the Pope is wrong in this instance".

We were all Catholics then, sturdy and well rounded
Photo: Art & Interiors

We all abstained from meat on Fridays and, in England and Wales at any rate, we were recognised as being Catholics because our stance placed us at odds with secular life. We did not join in with office gossip and blue film groups; we declined social invitations on a Sunday in order that we could attend Holy Mass, we asked for time off from work on Holy Days of Obligation and we would consult our parish priest before attending a wedding or funeral in a non Catholic church.

We were not saints; we drank too much, fought occasionally and frequently lived the high life but always within certain parameters.

But....we all had the imprint of Catholicism writ large on our foreheads.

Of course, this is an idealistic picture. It cannot surely all have been like this? But, that is what I remember, I am sure that there are holes to be picked in my recollections but, by and large, I am not very far from the truth.

Yesterday I bumped into an old colleague, also a Catholic but very much in the modernist wing of the faith. He told me of several Catholic acquaintances who had 'left the Church' to become Protestants. He did not rise to my lighthearted crack "But I thought you were already Protestant" but the meeting did leave me with a feeling that all could not be right with the faith when people migrate so readily. It was a small sample, I agree, but it would have been unheard of 50 years ago.

What has changed? What has altered the thought processes of so many good people? Why have so many gone in search of a non existent Plan B?

There are many answers and many reasons for the change but the overriding one has to be a disregard for authority.
Discipline has become a dirty word - but that is what we had pre Vatican II.

Of course, opponents of traditional Catholicism will call it oppression and blind obedience but it was not. We had our route map and, by and large we stuck with it.

Admittedly, there was the syndrome of young people who fell away from the faith at the age of 18 or 20 but part of the pattern was that they returned stronger and more self assured within a very few years.

What I am really saying, in a roundabout sort of way, is that a collective spirit was good then but does not exist now.

We have fragmented and the major element has departed far from the truths, far from what the Holy Father wishes.

It is vital that a knowledge of Catholic life before the 1960s is maintained. That spirit that we had then was far from perfect but it was much, much better than the one we have today.

Those left wing liberal and modernist Catholics who continue to disregard the example and guidance of the Holy Father are just as bad as those few within the SSPX who veer too far to the nutty right.

The reform of the reform is under way albeit slowly but it will be truly be a great day when we can all say once more: "I am a Catholic" without any prefixes whatsoever.

Saturday 21 April 2012

If you wish to glorify immoral acts.... today's Guardian.

I know that many teachers regard The Grauniad as the epitome of good quality journalism but it has never done it for me.

And now, seeing today's copies in the newsagent's, I dislike it even more, you see, it has gone homosexual!

The Guardian has published a special Saturday "Gay Supplement" - Ugh!

Actually, not this edition, even though it has a "Fairy Tales" supplement

Friday 20 April 2012

"Dear Bishop...."

May 1989 and I respond to my Bishop's uncharitable letter to my wife and myself.

Meanwhile, abuses at the school continue, school Masses use flowerpot type vessels instead of proper chalices and ciboria and a visiting priest, saying Mass for the children stops halfway through the elevation to ask: "Does anyone know the Test score?"

You really could not make it up and our world becomes more and more Lewis Carroll and less and less orthodox Catholic.

We were saved by a wonderful priest, Father Peter Lessiter, who then operated a "flying pastor" service to traditional Catholic families throughout the length and breadth of the land. He came, on average, every five or six weeks and stayed for two or three days, celebrating Mass, catechizing the children and hearing confessions.

In between visits we said a "dry" Mass on a Sunday a la recusant style.
Father Lessiter advised me to record every event that occurred as, in his words: "We are seeing Church history before our eyes and it's important to retain a record for future generations".

So now I can refer to fat files of press cuttings and letters to all and sundry - here is my letter in response to the Bishop's warning shot. I was, perhaps, a little brasher in those days but, on re-reading the letter, I don't think that I would change anything.

"Dear Bishop....................,

I was extremely disturbed and angry to receive such a letter from you.

I have written to you several times in the past enumerating the various abuses that take place at Masses in your Diocese and you have never responded.

Because of the continuation of such abuses that deny the primary sacrificial nature of the Mass my wife and I have made the decision to return to the "Mass of all Time".

I find it rather bizarre to be accused of alignment with Protestantism as a result. Were, then, my parents heretics?

The Society (SSPX) is not a sect as you well know and if I seek justification for our actions in the modern Church I would quote to you Code 844 of Canon Law:-

"Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ's faithful for whom it is physically impossible to approach a Catholic Minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic Ministers in whose churches these sacraments are valid"

Our preference is, of course, to receive the Sacraments from a Catholic priest so we shall continue in our intentions.

We too, shall pray for you and the Church".

I believe that the new Code of Canon Law 844 was a sop to the ecumenical movement that flourished at that time with shared services being quite common but, on this occasion, it ricocheted back into the court of the liberals.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Oh, really Bishop?

Some 11 months after the SSPX Bishops had been excommunicated (let's call it that), we withdrew our children from their convent school preparations for Confession and First Holy Communion (our son and eldest daughter were, I think, in line for Confirmation classes).

We withdrew them because they were still colouring in drawings of Zacharias up a tree and, frankly, we were bored with it all.
So much mush, so little red meat.

I met with the nun who was Headteacher and explained our position; we had, I stated, moved to the traditional Church, the one that I had been brought up in. I followed through in writing so that there would be no misunderstandings.

No comment was forthcoming until, a few days later, a letter, landed on the doormat.

It was from our Bishop and he was not best pleased.

This is what he said:

Dear Mr Collins,

A copy of your letter to Sister ________ has been forwarded to me.
Because of the seriousness of the matter it was right that I've had the copy (sic).

Priests or Bishops belonging to the Society of St Pius X make up part of the group which the Holy Father with great sadness was forced to declare schismatics and formally excommunicated. (The level of English is not good)
In linking up with them, far from returning to the traditional Catholic faith in which you were brought up, you are rejecting that faith. You are entering a situation which aligns you with the Protestants and other dissident groups over the centuries who have rejected the primacy and authority of the Roman Pontiff. 
Traditional Catholic teaching tells us that knowingly to join such a sect is to commit grave sin.

Traditional Catholic teaching also says that to hand over children to be formed by members of a schismatic or heretical group is to be guilty of mortal sin of the most serious kind.

As your Bishop, appointed to proclaim, defend and safeguard Catholic teaching as handed on within the Catholic Church, and in filial union with and obedience to the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, it is my duty to point out plainly the reality of what you are doing and its serious consequences both now and for eternity.

It is a matter of great sadness and distress that yet another schism should happen in our time.

It is a matter of alarm to learn that this latest group to leave the unity of the Catholic Faith should be seeking to spread its disaffection within our diocese, with great harm to souls.

I appeal to you before it is too late, for the sake of your own eternal salvation and that of your children, to draw back from what you are doing.

Assuring you of my prayers at this time,

Yours in Christ

Now I had previously sent this Bishop numerous letters pointing out abuses (serious ones) within the parish and school and never received a reply.

The line "Traditional Catholic teaching also says that to hand over children to be formed by members of a schismatic or heretical group..." is particularly poignant as my wife and I had previously fought a running battle with the PP, Headteacher AND the Bishop, regarding the school allowing a group of American Baptists to evangelise the children for one whole day; without our approval or knowledge.

I do not publish this correspondence with any sense of bitterness. I just find it so absorbing that the grinding wheels of the Second Vatican Council have been put back on the right track and that the restoration of the liturgy is well under way.

I shall post my letter of reply quoting Code 844 of Canon Law tomorrow.

"Rebel Lefebvre causes schism"

Incredibly that was a headline for (I believe) The Daily Telegraph on 1st July1988, one day after the four Bishops had been consecrated

I have the press cutting but not an absolute record of whence it came but Jonathan Petre, the author, was a Telegraph religious affairs journalist at that time.

The whole world had dubbed a saintly and academic man as a "rebel" and few rallied to defend him.
Twenty four years later and it appears as if all has changed, sanity has returned and the Society of St Pius X, defenders of the one true faith and the Latin Mass, is back in the fold.

Archbishop Lefebvre RIP - hardly a rebel
Here are extracts from the rest of the article:-

"Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, provoked his own excommunication and the first schism in the Roman Catholic Church for 118 years yesterday by consecrating four bishops without papal approval.

He describes his action as an "operation of survival" to preserve the true Church.

The 82-year old French Traditionalist, who founded his Fraternity of St Pius X in 1969 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, rejected an eleventh hour appeal from the Pope not to proceed and to reopen reconciliation talks.

In a letter to the new bishops, one of whom is a Briton, the Archbishop said the "throne of Peter and the posts of authority in Rome have been occupied by antichrists". The Vatican, not he, had departed from Church Tradition, he insisted.

Cardinal Basil Hume, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain (sic) urged the Archbishops 3,000 or so supporters in this country to return to Rome, warning that to continue to worship with the Fraternity "is to leave the Church....."

"....In a half-hour homily before the consecration at his seminary in Econe, Switzerland, Archbishop Lefebvre said the Pope had "surprised" him by sending a car on the previous night to take him to Rome for immediate negotiations. He had not accepted the offer.

"We do not wish in any way that this ceremony be a schism......we are not schismatic," he said to applause from a congregation of nearly 8,000.

The Archbishop, who in the past has asserted that the spirit of the French Revolution had polluted the Church, claimed that Rome had made "grave errors" since Vatican II, and accused it of accepting "modernism, liberalism, communism, Zionism."

It is worth remembering that, at this time, several priests in Northern Ireland were accused of colluding with the IRA, encouraging violence and participating in gun running and munitions storage - no Church action was ever taken against them.

It appeared to me as if the world had gone mad; here was a priest (Mgr Lefebvre) who only wished to celebrate the Mass of all Time as it was intended and to follow accurately the Doctrinal commands of Holy Mother Church.

He was the one to be 'crucified' but Barabbas, in the form of the murdering IRA, was released without charge.

This was the point on which we, as a family, stopped attending the capering antics of the Novus Ordo at our local parish and went solo.

We were basically solo until 2007; it was a lonely 19 years - but now, Deo Volente, it's over.

Blessed be God, in His Angels and in His Saints!

(and God bless our Pope!)

Wednesday 18 April 2012

There is a message here for the Church as well as the State

Luton to the north of London is a bog standard English town; at least it used to be.
Now it is a hotbed of radical Islamists. Who would have thought that this bland little town would be assumed into the Islamist fold; what other areas will end up being more closely aligned with Islamabad than with, say, Chipping Sodbury?

Does this affect those of other faiths living in places such as Bradford, Luton and Finsbury Park?

Of course it does but the most chilling part is that this is the tip of the iceberg.
More will follow and the movement will gather volition.

H/T to Mark Shea in National Catholic Register for flagging this up.

And kudos to the young woman who faced up to the faceless ones.

Gaudete and Huzzah! - the SSPX is back in the fold

There are now several reports from respected sites stating that Bishop Fellay has signed the agreement with Rome and therefore, a reconciliation has been achieved.

We now pray for all parties (including those who have maligned the SSPX over the years) that full Christian harmony will thrive and develop.

Reports available from these blogs:

Creative Minority Report

Rorate Caeli

Andrea Tornielli

Ches at The Sensible Bond advises "wait and see" and that is probably the correct thing to do but, let us hope and pray that it is true.

See also:

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Purgatory - who holds the key to the gates?

Last month an old friend of mine died peacefully in his sleep. He was not a Catholic but a good Baptist.
He farmed all of his life from the age of twelve, went to chapel, played the organ and, when his arthritic fingers no longer allowed him to play he sat up in bed singing hymns at the top of his funny squeaky voice.

He led, to all intents and purposes, a good and devout life; he did not drink or smoke, gamble or do anything very much other than to tend his stock, go to chapel and live the country life.

Whilst offering up prayers on his behalf I found myself pondering on Purgatory and as to whether Ernie was there or in Heaven for, he must surely be in one or the other.

But who is the gatekeeper?

A soul being carried to Heaven - but from
earth or Purgatory?

If St Peter holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven then who holds the keys to Purgatory?

Easy. It is, of course, Our Blessed Lord. It can be no other.

His Blessed Mother has, as we know, tremendous influence on Him (what son could refuse his mother a lawful request, certainly not the Son of Man).

And the saints, so we Catholics believe, have a lesser role to play in interceding for those souls in Purgatory but, ultimately, we are released with God's good grace.

That, at least, is the conventional teaching of Holy Mother Church on the subject.

But are we right in placing such an emphasis on Purgatory?
 What is wrong with hoping and praying that we go direct to the Father, direct to Heaven?

Well, according to St Therese of Lisieux, that is precisely what we should be doing. We must hope in God and if we do hope in God then that hope must be aimed at going straight to our reward.

St Therese advised one of her novices of this fact and told her that:

"You do not have enough trust.
You have too much fear before the good God.

I can assure you that He is grieved over this.

 You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this punishment.

As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no sin remain.

And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to Purgatory".

This throws Purgatory into a new light (certainly for me at any rate).
I have always believed that, somehow, Purgatory would be an inevitability, provided that I departed this earth in a state of grace, but now I am not so sure.

A child has complete and utter trust in its parents and Christ said that unless we become as little children you cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven so it is perhaps right that we should embrace a desire for Heaven on the basis that we will be with Almighty God in His mercy and forgiveness.

This does not diminish the role of Purgatory in any way, it just re-aligns our thought processes.

And in the light of God's love for us He surely does not wish us to be in a state of suffering but would rather that we had the level of innocent trust to hope that we could go straight to Him.

I know that Ernie would not have approved of Purgatory (I am not sure that he was even aware of it) but I take great hope that, in his good and basic love of God, possibly, just possibly, he has sidestepped it and is now with the saints in Heaven advising them on pastoral care.

Fr Van Dijk, in his book on St Therese  produced seven key points regarding her beliefs in Purgatory.

They are:-

1. Purgatory became a rule rather than the exception.
An infinite number of souls who suffer in Purgatory and for whom the Church prays daily after consecration did not need to go there. If we think in human terms, God does not wish for us to need Purgatory. God does not put us here on earth, where we are tested and are suffering after the fall, only to let us suffer again--and much worse--in Purgatory. Everyone receives enough graces in order to go straight to God after passing the trials on earth. However, Purgatory is an emergency entry to Heaven for those who have wasted their time. However, what God considered the exception became the rule, and the rule--to go straight to heaven--became the exception.

2. To cope with the "inevitable" is a grave error.
Since God does not really want Purgatory, He does not want it for me either! But then I also have to not want it! Nobody would expose themselves to the danger of Purgatory by living a mediocre and--as is the case so often today--a sinful life. If they only thought of the intense sufferings in Purgatory. In this regard, the mystics unanimously say that the least suffering in Purgatory is much greater than the greatest suffering here on earth! The reason for this is that once in Purgatory, one does not go through the time of God's Mercy but of God's Justice. Here, the Lord's word applies: "1 tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last copper' (Lk 12:59). The many who carelessly say, "I will probably spend some time there," are gravely wrong. Nobody just spends some time there, one has to suffer there like one has never suffered nor could have suffered while on earth. One often even suffers a long time there also. If the Poor Souls in Purgatory had known on earth what to expect in eternity, Purgatory would have remained empty.
3. Purgatory is a waste of time.
   This is what St. Therese says, "I know that of myself I would not merit even to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there. But I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the tire of Purgatory. I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless He wanted to grant them." It is true that Purgatory is a wonderful grace, for if needed, without the purification in Purgatory we would not go to Heaven, and the work of art which God intended and created us to be would not be completed. But St. Therese is right: at the moment of our death we already have our place in Heaven. Afterwards, there is no growing in grace anymore. Whoever does not go through Purgatory does not miss anything.
4. We need a more positive image of God.
We already know that St. Therese told her novices that they offended God when they thought they would go to Purgatory. That is a very shocking statement: for if this is correct millions of Christians are offending God or at least hurt Him. And yet this is the case. They are focused only on themselves, thinking--not without reason--that they deserve Purgatory. They do not notice God Who is by their side and would love to help them so much. The fact that we fear Purgatory so much also has to do with a rather negative image that we have of God. We, Christians of the 20th Century, were like so many, raised with the image of a strict God, anxious to punish us as often as we deserve it. This thinking goes back to heresies like Jansenism. Quietism, or Calvinism.
5. Love banishes fear
The question of whether Heaven will follow right after death is a question of trust. God does not need our merits in order to take us straight to Him but He needs all of our trust. Or the other way around--it is not -our sins that can prevent God from giving us this grace but rather our lack of trust. Therefore, we must draw the conclusion that everything depends solely on trust. There is no trust without perfect love. And vice versa, there is no love without trust.
And this is exactly what the Apostle John writes in his first letter, "In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love" (1 Jn. 4:17-18).
This text enlightens our topic very much. Judgment Day is the day of our death. Whoever achieves perfect love at the moment of their death sees God as so merciful and generous that they cannot believe in punishment in Purgatory. We are dealing with the same kind of grace in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that this Sacrament has as its real fruit the wiping out of punishment due to our sins. After those who have received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, others present often notice that the sick enter a period of growing peace and trust, together with a great surrender to the Will of God, and even serenity and desire for Heaven. This also applies to those who up to that point did not believe or even lived in mortal sin. Even these people, as the great theologians of the scholastics say--for example, St. Albert the Great or St. Bonaventure--go straight to Heaven without having to go through Purgatory first. This shows the wonderful grace coming from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
6. The last will be the first.
While many Christians do receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, experience tells us that they do not go straight to Heaven. The mystics often relate that many priests and religious suffer a long time and have to wait for their release. However, all of them or almost all of them have received the Sacrament of the Anointing. What is the reason for this? The answer is certainly that they did not receive the Sacrament with the necessary repentance or surrender to the Will of God, or that they did not want to change their flaws and vices a long time before their death.
St. Therese of Lisieux tells us that she heard that sometimes great saints with
many merits come before the Judgment of God, but have to go to Purgatory because our justice before God is often unclean. That is why she recommends to giveimmediately away all the merits of our good deeds, and that it is better to appear before God empty-handed. She recommends to her oldest sister and godmother Marie, to be given Heaven free of charge by God.
While on the one hand the first ones don't always get to Heaven first, on the other hand there are enough examples that the last ones become the first ones. Therese refers in her writings to the Lord's mercy towards the good thief, and wishes that the story from the "desert fathers," about how a great sinner called Paesie died out of love and is being taken straight to heaven, should be added to her autobiography, "Souls will understand immediately, for it is a striking example of what I'm trying to say."

When our great hour comes, as St. Therese writes to Abbe Roulland,
missionary in China, if only we trust, the Blessed Virgin will obtain "the grace of making an act of perfect love" should we have "some trace of human weakness" and so will we reach heaven immediately after death.
7. St. Therese's teaching, a great message for the third millennium
One can rightfully say that Therese is turning all common opinions on Purgatory upside down.She wants to appear before God empty-handed and explains why it can be easier for sinners who have nothing to rely upon, to reach Heaven than the great saints with all their merits.. She emphasizes that trust alone is enough, that merits are no guarantee but often an obstacle for the straight way to Heaven, and that sins do not need to be an obstacle. After a 'messed-up' life, God can still take one straight to Heaven if the dying person only has trust. And how easy it can be to trust if there are no merits but only one's misery! Through trust she shows the shorter way to Heaven to the small and humble. And so many can and will go that way. She writes about this to her sister Marie: "... what pleases Him (God) is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His mercy... That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why should this treasure not be yours?..."
As has been said, she has made sanctity available for everyone through her little way, and this is also true for the straight way to Heaven... This will no longer be an exception. Once those who are smart enough to gather from the treasures of our new Doctor of the Church will walk this way easily, especially those who want to be part of the legion of little souls which St. Therese asked God for at the end of her manuscript B, "I beg You to cast Your Divine Glance upon a great number of little souls. I beg You to choose a legion of little Victims worthy of Your LOVE!"
 Extracts from:
                              ON PURGATORY
                    by Father Dr. Hubert van Dijk, ORC
 Ernie Jenkins RIP

Sunday 15 April 2012

Random rants

As I stood in a line of disparate Brits at London Heathrow Airport's immigration barriers, I removed my Aussie bought Panama hat in the certain knowledge that the Immigration Official who would vet my passport, would request its removal in order to certify my image in the aforesaid document.

Looking around at my fellow passengers (flight from Qatar) I observed a fair sprinkling of men and women with a variety of headgear ranging from full veils to crochet type caps to turbans.
No one asked them to remove their head coverings. Such is the state of Britain today.

Doubtless, if I had challenged the officials, I would have been bundled off to the Tower of London to await the judgement of the Mayor, one Boris Johnson.

Now what on earth has Boris been up to whilst I've been away?
He has banned an ad campaign set up by some evangelical Christians who feel that being homosexual is not a finality and that, with treatment, a homosexual can revert to a normal gender.

I am sure that they are right, I'm less sure about their way of getting the message across, plastered along the length of London buses.
But, hey! we have bus ads promoting the concept that there is not a God (possibly) and ones promoting homosexuality ("Some people are gay, get over it!") - I'll pass on the T Shirt, thanks. So why bar one with a Christian theme?

Maybe that particular Stonewall slogan could do with a tweak, something like "Some people are gay and can get over it!"

But the real point is, why is it an issue that dear old Boris should get involved with?
Well, we all know the answer to that one, it is the time of the mayoral election and he is after the homosexual vote.

Like David Cameron who wants to introduce homosexual 'marriage' Boris does not give a toss for the Christian vote, and why should he when our dear leaders offer such appallingly weak opposition to such schemes?

Thank the good Lord for ex archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey. He is not afraid to stand up and take some flak for his Christian faith. Any chance of him joining the Ordinariate? Unlikely, I guess. And have they got their own church yet? Does anyone know?

It was sad to see Rick Santorum withdrawing from the Republican candidacy race but, do not write him off yet.
That may seem a silly and rash statement to make but, after so many Rosaries were offered on his behalf we must remember that God acts in His own time span, not man's.
Keep praying, there are more things in Heaven and Earth etc.

Some apologies due to fellow bloggers whom I would have wished to respond to in their comments box over the past four weeks. I have been borrowing various bits of micro technology (very grateful, Matteo, don't get me wrong) to post a few bits and pieces but the ipads and Applemacs have been a trial for my clumsy fingers and even clumsier IQ. So, sorry but I will be returning to the fray as from tomorrow.

And, finally, to end on a lighter note I have to relay a sign seen stuck on a 4 x 4 in the State of Victoria recently.

It stated:

"I'd rather a full bottle in front of me to a full frontal lobotomy"

That, I think, is one to treasure.

Sunday 8 April 2012

A Happy and Holy Easter....and an early farewell

To all Catholic bloggers and especially all members of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma - a very Happy, Holy and Peaceful Easter.

A fitting image for Easter Sunday - Agnus Dei outside
St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne

And an early farewell to Australia as we shall depart in a week's time but, in the meantime, we are off up country for some back to basics camping (but with a fair modicum of comfort).

We arrived in Australia three weeks ago only to find some foul accusations against my blog and myself. It would appear that a blogger from Ireland (identity unknown) contacted an Australian blogger passing himself off as 'Linen on the Hedgerow'. When the Australian blogger tried to respond all went wonky and froze up.

So, the Australian then did a post casting vile smears and innuendo against me, not nice.
Of course, he only published some of the comments I sent challenging him, and finally, he published a half hearted retraction of sorts, but no apology. So, I offered up my Easter Sunday Mass on his behalf and on behalf of the 'Irish' impersonator who set the hare running. That offering up was only done with an effort, I am far from saintly when unjustly accused, but I hope the good Lord accepts it as the best that I can do.

It does illustrate the dangers that are on the internet for bloggers. Passing off is a rather nasty one as it can ricochet around the ether very quickly; judging others before you have properly checked on the truths behind a scam is also encumbent on us all, we should not be easily duped.

Enough; Australia is a great country and the people of Melbourne warm, friendly and courteous.
You only have to set foot on a crowded Metro or tram for somebody to leap to their feet offering you their seat, something that appeared to take place regardless of age or sex.

We have supped the best coffee in the world, been met with impeccable service and, best of all, we have been able to attend EF Mass at Caulfield North which must surely rank up there with St Mary Magdalen, Brighton, The Sacred Heart, Morriston and Our Lady of the Rosary at Blackfen.

On the down side....I admit to missing real warm draught beer a la Reverend James but that's about all.

Except that......I do not know how anybody can afford to live is expensive beyond one's wildest dreams.......a modest toasted sandwich (equivalent) could easily set you back circa 8 or 9 pounds sterling and the cost of a bottle of wine is, well....phew! Mortgage schemes exist to help you buy a drink out here!

So that's it for about a week, golden silence for you and some trout fishing for me and thank you Australia!

Thursday 5 April 2012

64,000 dollar question: What happened to the Stations of the Cross?

I mean, there are only 14 of them, they are in just about every Catholic church......but no one appears to say them any more.

The path to Melbourne Cathedral

The past two weeks I have spent visiting more churches than normal during Lent due to the fact that I am not in West Wales where most of the churches are locked up during the day in case anyone decides they want to get religious.
Here in Melbourne the city churches, at any rate, are open and available but I have yet to see anyone indulging in the Stations of the Cross; I would expect that London or Cardiff would be much the same.

The 'Stations' is one of the most moving and spiritual of our prayers and may be completed without a prayer book of any kind (although I do normally use the CTS purple booklet which is excellent).

Each station automatically brings its own prayer and one only has to genuflect, remember that? And to utter the words: "We adore Thee O Christ and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world" - then say one Glory be, one Hail Mary and an Our Father before moving on to the next station. It takes about 30 minutes to complete all 14.

Today (Maundy Thursday) I completed the Stations in St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. The Cathedral was busy with tourists, locals wishing to be shriven of their sins, people just wanting to meditate and pray, workmen and cleaners and about 10 coachloads of Chinese visitors who appeared both amused and perplexed at my attempts to pray the Stations. By now I expect photographs of me trying to focus on the Via Dolorosa to be in many a household in Beijing or Chengdu or wherever they came from. I wonder what they really thought of my efforts.

But the real point is, who does say the Stations today?

Have they gone the way of Benediction, Forty Hours Devotion, Corpus Christi Processions?

Or do hordes of parishioners descend upon their churches after dark in order to carry out this devotion in secret?

Answers on a postcard please!

Cost of inspecting abortuaries is the 'new' excuse to do nothing

Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley is said to have been shocked by the health regulator's      claim that the 'on the spot' inspection of abortion clinics is costing the taxpayer around one million pounds.

So far, these inspections have produced evidence that 20% of abortuaries are operating; that means one in five are flouting the regulations and, possibly, the law.

It appears as if this claim that investigations into the integrity of the 'clinics' will now be used in a 'shroud waving' exercise designed to call a halt to the inspections carried out without prior notice.

It would be interesting to have access to the protocols of the inspection process........they should be in the public domain should they not?

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Was Queen Elizabeth the first Liberal Catholic?

I mean, of course, Queen Elizabeth the First, who reigned from 1533 to 1603.

Dubbed The Virgin Queen and Good Queen Bess, she was far from good to the Catholic Church but it was only when re-reading Waugh's 'Edmund Campion' that the analogy between Liberal Catholicism and her reign began to emerge.

Priests dismissed and then persecuted, the Mass altered beyond all recognition, sanctuaries hacked around and altars replaced with tables, holy statues and ornaments removed and destroyed.....this also happened during Queen Elizabeth's reign!

Warped humour to one side, I justify my view by the following points:-

1. First and foremost, Queen Elizabeth "changed" her religion, she moved from a Catholic faith to a neo Protestant one - much as, in the years after Vatican II, the clergy and laity all swung towards a "Protestant" style of Mass and Church music.

2. Churches and chapels throughout the land were re-shaped in order to accord with the "new religion" - altars were broken up, communion rails removed......ringinig any bells?

3. QE1 also was careful to retain certain elements of Catholicism with her new faith and, for some years, the traditional priestly vestments were used while, at the same time, those Bishops of traditional bent were selectively disposed of and some 500 priests followed in their wake. Has anyone quantified the number of priests who "disappeared" in the decade post 1970? It would be an interesting exercise.

4. And, of course, the Latin Mass was declared illegal under Elizabeth; I seem to recall some Bishops in the 1980s saying precisely the same thing.

5. The Virgin Queen rewarded her followers well and gave them positions of some importance. How the Parish Council syndrome flourished post Vatican II with parishioners with traditionalist leanings being "drummed out" of all parish affairs.

6. Under Elizabeth, whole libraries were ransacked and burnt with the rich history of the Catholic Faith held within them. And now, over the past thirty years or so the same thing has happened in seminaries and convents throughout the country. All that had a traditional imprint was removed and burnt, yes, burnt!

 I have a friend who dealt in Catholic books and he told me that the libraries he was invited to place a bid for inevitably only held books from the 1950s onwards. And when he would enquire if the monks or nuns had any older works they would tell him that they had put the lot on a bonfire and that it was all out of date anyway - you see?

7. And what did Elizabeth do to the Catholic devotions of the time; the Rosary, Benediction, Stations of the Cross? She, to use a technical term, binned them along with fasting and penance and confession.
This proto Liberal Catholic has been feverishly copied as, even in this Benedictine era, you will be hard put to find more than 2 out of every ten parishes offering a Forty Hours devotion or a Sunday afternoon Benediction. As for confession, well who goes to that any longer?

8. Finally, we come to the ultimate triumph of Elizabeth's "liberal" standpoint; the destruction of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Under her hand the act of Holy Communion became a basic sort of ploughman's lunch, nothing sacred, just an act of remembrance, not commemoration.
 Of course, it did not stop there, the Host as consecrated at a Catholic Mass was ridiculed and commonly called a "Round Robin" or "Jack in the Box."
It may appear a little harsh to lay claim to a link from those days to the present practice of receiving the Host by hand and without kneeling but there is little reverence shown today, even at some EF Masses.
Reception by kneeling and by mouth may be practiced but very often there is a casual element that goes beyond the acceptable. Men with their hands in their pockets, girls smirking to their friends and all strolling back from the communion rails as if they were going to the pub. Aimless and irreverent.
That has its roots in Elizabeth's attempts to impose personal spirituality rather than 'opening windows into men's souls'.
And, of course, the VII drive to make communicants stand and hold out their hands is just the logical evolution of her reign and its move to make a new religion that was dressed up, in parts, to be like the old and true one.

So, there you have it - Queen Elizabeth the First of England, and first of the Liberal Catholics!