Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Canberra month coming up - please pray

It seems appropriate as we near the beginning of a big month for three Canberrans (two being ordained to the diaconate, and one religious making solemn vows) to put on record a big vote of thanks to Fr John Fongemie FSSP for his time as chaplain to the Traditional Latin Mass community in Canberra (and subsequently in Sydney), particularly for his role in fostering vocations. Father left Canberra a couple of years back, but his spiritual legacy lives on, as witnessed by these upcoming ceremonies.

Although Canberra is the capital of Australia, the traditional community there is not large. But its strength - witnessed not only by these vocations, but also in other ways such as the journal Oriens - is a testament to persistence and perseverence on the part of the laity, and the service of some dedicated and holy priests. Fr Fongemie recently returned to the States, but please do pray for him. And also please pray for these Canberrans, especially over the coming days.

First up on the honour role is Sr Frances Teresa a Jesu Hostia OCD, who makes her Solemn Profession at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph on 22 May (Corpus Christi). Her profession will take place during a Pontifical Mass celebrated by Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Then on 31 May, two FSSP seminarians from Canberra - Mr Marko Rehak and Mr Dominic Popplewell - will be ordained as deacons in Wigrantzbad, Germany by His Grace Archbishop Ranjith.

A wonderful haul of workers for the vineyard for any town, in any month or year!

And pray too, for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for traditional monastic foundations for Australia.

Cardinal Pell 'at it again' - Bill of rights for Australia? No thanks!

This time the Cardinal is speaking out against the idea of a bill of rights for Australia, and on this one I'm with him 100%. You can read a report of his comments here:

His main argument is that it is an abrogation of the rights of parliament in favour of the unelected judiciary. Very true, particularly given that most of the examples cited by advocates of such a bill relate to legislation that has been passed by our elected parliament (such as the terror laws, detention of illegal immigrants, etc), not allegedly discriminatory acts by individuals.

Cardinal Pell cites the example of Canada's unhappy experiences with such a bill (which has seen bishops taken to court for condemning the practice of homosexuality), but England's has been equally disastrous (resulting in people who refuse to advocate for homosexuality no longer allowed to be foster parents for example).

The Cardinal's nicest line is perhaps to point out that the existence of a bill of rights hasn't done anything to help the situation in Zimbabwe!

No surprise that this idea got a guernsey at the recent the 2020 Summit - the forces in favour of a bill of rights have been getting ready for a while. See for example the left-wing e-journal New Matilda's page on this:

Many of the usual suspects among the 'Catholic' community in Australia will no doubt be strongly in favour of such a Bill. The rest of us probably need to think about similarly organising.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Communion in the hand: a campaign for Australia?

I promised a good bishop story for today, and here it is, the Archbishop of Lima, Peru, H.E. Juan Luis Card. Cipriani Thorne, has banned communion in the hand in his diocese:

The story has now made the Tablet - see Fr Z's spruiking of the article here:

My question is, how can we encourage our own bishops to do likewise?

This is an important issue to me personally, and it goes to the loss of the sense of the Real Presence and the uniqueness of the priestly vocation, so evident in many parishes.

But I have to admit, while its importance is self-evident to me, its significance isn't at all evident to the novus ordo devotees I know, even those who practice regular eucharistic adoration. Part of the problem I think is that communion on the tongue needs to be linked to reducing (or preferably eliminating altogether) the use of extraordinary ministers of holy communion.

So is there any point in writing to our bishops advocating a change? Starting a petition? Or do we need to launch a serious grassroots level campaign to persuade people to receive on the tongue voluntarily first?

My guess is the last approach is what it will take. So how do we start? Articles for diocesan newspapers? Sacrifice ourselves by going to novus ordo masses en masse and kneeling to receive on the tongue by way of demonstration value?

I'd love to hear suggestions...

Monday, 28 April 2008

I'm going for gold - Into the Deep newsletter

It has evidently been Australia week in blogdom, and I couldn't let pass this one from Fr Finigan (aka His hermaneuticalness), promoting a reasonably robust (a little too much so for the diocesan newspaper apparently) newsletter put out by laity in the Sale diocese:

I've subscribed, and I'm impressed with what I've seen on a quick skim of their two most recent newsletters. Follow the links to subscribe online.

On bishops, calendars, and b****s

Lest this be perceived as a bishop bashing blog, let me assure any readers that in principle I want to support our shepherds, so I promise to find a 'good' bishop story for tomorrow. However, one of my correspondents drew my attention to a story on Fr Z that really is important to traddies (wouldn't you like to join the blog Peter?).

It seems the UK bishops have obtained a ruling from the Ecclesia Dei Commission that requires the harmonisation of major feast days between the old and new calendars. The most problematic part of the ruling is this:

"Where the [holy day of] obligation has been removed and the Holyday transferred to the Sunday, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christ, this is to be followed in both Ordinary and Extraordinary celebrations of Mass."

In other words, Ascension should no longer be celebrated on the Thursday but shifted to the Sunday instead. As Peter from Australia points out in the comments column:

"The (apparent) answer to this dubium is very disturbing.
However the fact that the Bishops of England & Wales (no less!!) proposed such a dubium is even more disturbing (‘utter bast****’ springs to mind). And surely PCED wouldn’t have engaged in ‘respecting of persons’ in crafting their response?

As a number of other commenters have expressed the view that it would be good to have some resolution of the differences between the calendars of the 2 forms of the Roman rite.

I agree, but surely this piecemeal approach, and starting with days where the LOCAL observance is NOT in keeping with the UNIVERSAL Roman calendar for CANONICAL HOLY DAYS (see the code), is a very poor one. If this was the genuine motivation for the dubium, then there are other aspects of the calendar they could have started with, such as accommodation of new saints made after 1962.

The PCED answer was perhaps predictable in light of the answer they gave on the transfer of St Joseph and St Patrick.

However I am cynical enough to think that this question was designed precisely to further marginalise, even hide, the OF by removing points where its celebration stood out, such as on the days in question. After all, it is on these days that those promoting the OF might be expected to publicise such celebrations to their OF coreligionists so they won’t hindered by perceived obligations to attend their own OF celebration (I do!).

From a number of things that have happened over the last year or so, it does seem to me that the standard approach by PCED IS piecemeal. Perhaps this has something to do with the nature of the commission – that they haven’t been delegated the necessary (any?) authority to do more than provide interpretations of the decree Ecclesia Dei adflicta and of Summorum Pontificum and assist with the implementation of their provisions (only).

Fr Z, I am surprised that you haven’t given some analysis of what you think the (apparent) response means. Perhaps you could give a view?
Australia has the same weak approach to Holy Days – in these difficult modern times in first world countries where people couldn’t possibly be expected to attend Mass on any other day than Sunday. In fact our bishops, presumably adopting the laconic ‘she’ll be right mate’ approach Australians are so famous for, have imposed only 2 days of obligation: Christmas and the Assumption."

There are a few more exchanges on the subject, so its well worth reading the debate here:

Global warming and the Cardinal

Coo-ees from the Cloister's new correspondent wonders about Cardinal Pell's most recent attacks on the concept of global warming in the face of a fairly strong scientific consensus:

I have to admit, whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate, I do rather question the strategy of trying to argue that it is all a beat up. It is certainly true that the extremists in the global warming debate treat the subject more like a religion than a matter of science and economics. But that doesn't make the whole argument invalid.

The Cardinal is of course entitled to be personally sceptical. Not every scientist has signed up to the cause (though there does seem to be a pretty strong consensus view), and as private citizens we are free to agree or not.

The problem comes when the appearance is given of the Church taking a position on an issue that ought to be judged on the basis of science, not theology. As Coo-ees hints, one might have hoped that we had learnt something from the Galileo case.

The problem in arguing against global warming altogether seems to me that it plays into the hands of those who see religion as equating to an anti-science irrationality.

The Creative Minority Report blog recently drew attention to a UK study which found an increasing number of people viewing religion as social evil, fostering intolerance and conflict, irrationality, and eroding the virtues (!) of secularism:

Countering this attitude, it seems to me, requires some new strategic thinking (as well as lots of prayer!). But on the face of it, the Cardinal's comments would seem to play into this perception rather than help counteract them.

There is another point at issue here too. Risk management theory dictates that if the costs of not doing something are high enough, one should act even if there is a good chance that the risk concerned may subsequently prove to be unfounded.

On the face of it, the prudential case for acting is there, but politicians have been slow to do anything. And that is what generates environmental fundamentalism.

The real issue from the catholic perspective seems to me to make sure that the action that is taken is sensible - and doesn't run counter to other imperatives such as fostering the family.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Expansion of the TLM post Summorum Pontificum - Adelaide

The Tradadelaide website has announced the addition of an extra Sunday TLM, at 5pm, in addition to the current 9.15am mass at Payneham Road.

A great sign of an expanding congregation:

Do liturgical dancers swirl backwards in Brisbane?

Melbourne stars again in blogdom, this time with a report on the adoption of the 'Benedictine (ie traditional) altar arrangement' of cross and candles in Melbourne Cathedral. See the photo and report on Fr Z here:

Fr Z couldn't resist commenting though, on the fact that our seasons are the right way around, drawing out the inevitable riposte on the direction of spinning down under....

Friday, 25 April 2008


Most traditional communities will celebrate a requiem mass today, in honour of all those who gave their lives who gave thier lives for our freedom.

Cooees from the Cloister has a nice item to commemorate the day:

Hugh Henry stars on NLM...and triggers controversy!

Hugh Henry got a guernsey on the New Liturgical Movement blog a few days ago, with a chant setting of grace before meals:

Apparently though, it has stirred up a huge debate on the merits or otherwise of singing (as opposed to just saying) grace! As the NLM comments:

"It sometimes seems that everything becomes a controversy on the web, and thus has it become with what I thought was an uncontroversial posting of a nice sung prayer before meals. But, sure enough, someone takes issue: "I'm sorry, but 99% of Catholics would consider that the act of a pretentious twit, and rightly so."

Read it all here:

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Reading the Bible - Letter of St James

Catholics aren't big on reading the Bible. But they should be. As St Jerome famously said, 'Ignorance of Scripture, is ignorance of Christ'.

Traditionally, monks followed a reading programme (reflected in the Divine Office) that involved reading the Bible in a year. A french monk posted a couple of possible versions of a suitable program on the New Liturgical Movement blog for comment last year, and I've been trying to follow them ever since with greater and lesser degrees of sucess.

The program, I would have to say, is a little ambitious unless one has a lot of time to devote to it. I don't think the text is self-evident; you do need a good commentary to give you a bit of context and alert you to the commentaries of the Fathers and the traditional interpretations. Reading the text slowly enough, and pondering its meaning properly takes time, so I've generally ended up moving a little more slowly than the NLM reading program.

All the same, the idea of following the liturgical cycle reflected in the Mass and Matins readings and filling in the gaps in them is a good one, and a great way to gain a greater familiarity with the riches of Holy Scripture. And there are some pretty good online materials available now to help now, so I thought I'd post some links I've found.

This weeks breviary readings are from the letter of St James (it only has five chapters, so quite a manageable proposition). Probably written around 57AD by the Apostle James 'the Lesser', it is similar in genre to the Old Testament Wisdom literature. Its particular significance lies in the fact that Luther wanted to drop it from the canon of the Bible (especially Chapter 2 on the importance of good works), and its provision of the Scriptural basis for the sacrament of anointing (in Chapter 5).
Some useful links:
Any other good links anyone can suggest?

Monday, 21 April 2008

2020 WAS Vatican II.....

Oh dear, it seems my correspondent was apparently not the only one who saw the parallels. The Sydney Morning Herald's Annabel Crabbe reached the same conclusion, and took the analogy a lot further, with St Kev to the Summit as God was to Vatican II (hmmm, I'll suppress the obvious temptations on where to go with this one).

Amongst her cutest lines, though, is this:

"Like Vatican II, the 2020 Summit demonstrated to us that our language is changeable; the favoured little sayings of John Howard now seem far away and hopelessly antiquated, as out of favour as Latin Mass...."

Now I have to admit, on the Howardisms to which she refers (she notes that "We have officially said goodbye to "mateship", "the things that unite us are bigger than the things that divide us", the "barbecue stopper" and "the pub test"."), I would have to confess to being a novus ordo devotee.

Still, I liked the line!

Actually, though, I may be in the process of changing my mind on the value of 2020. Some of the post Summit appraisals suggest that it did have a few substantive purposes. And after all, the Pope has just spent a week exhorting Catholics to take the debate in the public square seriously. So is there any good we can see coming out of 2020? Let me make some suggestions.

First, re-establishing the principle that ideas - and not just what will go down well with the voters - matter.

Secondly, supporting merit (of all very electic kinds! I really could have done with a lot fewer pictures of Cate Blanchett, baby Ignatius and Hugh Jackman).

Thirdly, building support for the big structural changes that Australia really does need to make (although lawyer Julian Disney's 'big idea' to penalize politicians who lie might pose something of a problem in this regard if implemented, given that we've just had an election campaign which promised absolutely no big changes).

Finally, trying to teach and corrall a lot of people - who would otherwise pester bureaucrats and politicians for the next three years - the difference between ideas, aspirations and concrete policy proposals.

In any case, I expect we will see a lot of 'Spirit of 2020ism' around in the near future. But perhaps this time Catholics might actually have a tactical advantage, knowing what to expect and how these things play out...get ready!

Feast of St Anselm OSB

Today is the feast day of one of the great Doctors of the Church, St Anselm.

Dubbed the Father of Scholasticism, he represents the bridge between late antiquity styles of theology, and scholasticism. He is most remembered today for this 'ontological' proof of God, which continues to divide philosophers, but he was also a stalwart warrior in the defence of the rights of the Church against the State, and wrote a number of important theological works, as well as some particularly beautiful prayers and meditations.

He is a particularly useful role model though for leaders, due to his ability to find ways of winning people over in difficult circumstances. Born in Italy in 1033, hecame a monk in France, and was catapulted into the position of Prior after only three years. It didn't please a number of the older monks. But they unanimously elected him Abbot in 1078, and forced him to accept the appointment despite his resistance.

He was an even more reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury (after several days the electing bishops refused to listen any further to his protests and literally picked him up and carried him to the altar), consecrated in 1093. His reluctance was justified, however, because he spent the remaining years of his life in conflict with King William Rufus (son of the Conqueror) and his successor King Henry over lay investiture, the supremacy of the Pope and the rights to Church revenues. He died in 1109.

Here is a little of his prayer for enemies:

"Almighty and tender Lord Jesus Christ,
I have asked you to be good to my friends,
and now I bring before you what I desire in my heart for my enemies.....

You who are the true light, lighten their darkness;
you who are the whole truth, correct their errors;
you who are the true life, give life to their souls...."

You can read more of his work here:

St Anselm, pray for us.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Pope's US messages

One of the interesting things about this papal visit to the US is the way the Pope is respositioning the apologetic for some key areas of Church teaching.

Pope John Paul II's 'big thing' was always the culture of life vs the culture of death. A perfectly good and important message given the predominant sins in our society.

But the message always seemed to come a bit in isolation from everything else (and I have to admit I find his theology of the body at best unconvincing; in some of its representations by others, positively dangerous). Instead of being based on the natural law, he explicitly says in Veritatis Splendor that our thinking on these issues should reflect gratefulness for the gift of life from God. Nothing wrong with the idea of being grateful, but in my observation, it doesn't last that long.

Pope Benedict's first encyclical started a shift on this, arguing that our principal motivation should be charity. It represents a shift back to a much more traditional formulation, and to my mind at least, a much more convincing one.

His big message in Spe Salvi seemed to be to focus on eternal life first. Our Lord tells us, after all, to fear those who can kill the soul more than those who can kill the body. So if we start from our worship of God, and our desire for the happiness in being with him, everything else will flow (as Fr Z puts it, 'Save the liturgy, save the world'). He reiterates his message about the crucial importance of focusing on salvation in his Q&A session with the American bishops (April 16).

In his US trip, the Pope has really developed the theme of the importance of the natural law. And interestingly, not just the inclination to self-preservation and procreation, but also the inclinations to live in society, and to seek the truth of God. Take a look at his UN speech, for example, as spruiked by FR Z:

I think the Pope's omission of explicit references to abortion etc in this speech is quite deliberate. Everyone knows the Church's position on these issues now. That's not to say it shouldn't be reiterated regularly - as the Pope did in his final homily at Yankee Stadium.

The real challenge, though, is to find a better way of convincing both nominal catholics and secular society of the objective basis of those positions. In his speech to bishops at Washington's National Shrine (16 April) he said:

"Clearly, the Church’s influence on public debate takes place on many different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters. Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as a “leaven” in society."

And I think the Pope is telling us that it is the internal coherence of all of the natural law operating together that can potentially help do that.

And that being a Catholic is about more than just life issues, notwithstanding their central importance.

The Pope also clearly understands that the Church's credibility on life issues has been undermined by the failure accept responsiblity for the abuse scandal and address it head on - up until now. There are, after all, ten commandments, not one.

His speeches and sermons make fascinating reading.

More on the talkfest

My correspondent has sent me an addendum to his earlier comments. First I think from the media report of the event:

"The delegates will soon break into 10 groups where they will begin intensive discussions on the thousands of ideas which have been submitted."

He comments:

'I hope they had lots of butcher's (or other ...) paper and finger paint.'

You will be horrified to know that they do!!!! The excellent Annabel Crabbe's blog of the event notes that by lunchtime Saturday:

"Already, a huge quantity of butchers' paper seems to have been sacrificed to the cause of 2020, despite early if slightly querulous promises from the Prime Minister's office that none would be involved.

In the Communities group, led by Tim Costello, great drifts of it have already been plastered to the walls, full of aspirational messages and nagging rhetorical questions.``How do we achieve a vision of inclusivity?'' and so on."

She goes on:

"The great thing about this sort of language is that it can be rearranged and read backwards, forwards or any which way and it still means roughly the same thing.``How do we include a vision of achievement?''``How do we envision an achievement of inclusion?''After the ``small groups'' session of the Communities group, the facilitator told participants: ``We've asked you to turn the challenges into the big questions''.Totally reversible. Try it."

Read the comments box for her ongoing story of the Event (no doubt including the fingerpaint side of things), here is the link:

Now I know we should be praying for our 'best and brightest' as they develop their grand plan for our future. But something tells me God is letting free will take its course on this one....

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Mr Rudd's talkfest

As I write '2020', Australia's weekend assembly of the 'best and brightest' to come up with new ideas for the future of our nation, is happening.

I have to admit though, that up til now, I'd just seen as an expensive but essentially harmless and irrelevant diversion from ever rising interest rates, petrol prices and the like.

But then a friend sent me this comment:

"Mr Rudd told delegates he wanted the event to "throw open the windows of our democracy" and find insights into a "new way of governing our nation".

"The old way of governing has long been creaking and groaning," he said.

This immediately reminded me of the reference of John XXIII, "flinging open of windows within the Church" ..... eventually followed by Paul VI's “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

Gahhh....are we really in for forty horror years! Let's pray not.

Daily TLM availability in Australia???

The new Wiki Missa ( is a great new resource for TLM times and locations, both SSPX and approved. It seems much more up-to-date than any of the ohter listings around (the Oriens website's list for example, is hopelessly out of date on this). So hopefully it can provide a basis for tracking the spread of the TLM in the wake of Summorum Pontificum.

There are some oddities that immediately hit you though when you look at the material. Can it really be the case, for example, that Sydney, with its five resident FSSP priests, doesn't have a publicly advertised daily TLM? Certainly the FSSP and Maternal Heart websites suggest you won't find one on Monday or Wednesday, or even most Fridays and Saturdays. Is this a case of an out of date website? Or are there private masses happening that everyone interested knows about? Can someone help me out here?

Friday, 18 April 2008

Melbourne book launch

Bishop Elliott will be attending the 11.00am Melbourne Traditional Latin Mass in choir this Sunday the 20th of April. He will then launch a book prepared by Michael Sternbeck,
'The Order of Mass'. For details see:


I've decided to give the blogging thing a try.

There are lots of Catholic blogs around now, and many of them are doing useful things.

So its a bit surprising that (at least as far as I've been able to find) there aren't many Australian traddie bloggers. So I've decided to do my little bit in remedying the situation!

I hope to be able to share news of upcoming traddie events in Australia (so don't hesitate to alert me to anything you know about!).

I'd also like to dabble a little on theology, particularly on the vexed question of how to sort through what is useful in modern theology - and what is downright dangerous.

Most of all though, I deeply believe that, with Summorum Pontificum, traditionalists must now take up the cudgels and work seriously for the conversion of our lands to Catholicism. Maybe this blog can help advance this cause just a little for Australia. More on this soon.....

Welcome to this blog!

Blessed Mary McKillop pray for us.