Saturday, 28 February 2009

Benedictine Ordo for week of 28 February

This week marks the start of Lent in the liturgy, so if youare usng the Benedictine Diurnal or Breviary, take a good look through the section on the 'Ordinary of the Ferial Office in Lent' (pages 190*-195* in the Monastic Diurnal) to get a feel for the changes!

Key points to note are:
  • Lauds and Vespers have special hymns to be used each day through the week (Iam Christe sol jutitiae, 191*; Audi benigne, p194*)
  • the antiphons for each hour (except Lauds and Lauds which generally stay with the 'thoughout the year ones' except for Sundays and feasts etc) are for 'Tempore quaragesimali'
  • the chapter and responsory/versicle for each hour are for the time of Lent also;
  • the Benedictus and Magnificat antiphons, as well as the collects, change each day (MD 198*ff).

Watch out especially for the hymns - there isn't a warning in the psalter section itself, whereas the texts of the antiphons etc are included in the section with each hour.

As far as the week itself goes, for once it lines up perfectly with Roman Rite EF!

Saturday, 28 November- Class III

MD 183*-185*

Sunday, 1 March - First Sunday in Lent, Class I

MD 186*

Monday, 2 March - Class III

MD 195*

Tuesday, 3 March - Class III

MD 196*

Wednesday, 4 March - Ember Day, Class II

MD 197*

Thursday, 5 March - Class III

MD 197*

Friday, 6 March - Ember Friday, Class II, Commemoration of SS Perpetua and Felicitas

MD 198*; at Lauds only for the commemoration, MD [74]

Saturday, 7 March - Ember Saturday, Class 2, Commemoration of St Thomas Aquinas

MD 199*; at Lauds only for Cm, MD [75]

First vespers of Second Sunday of Lent, MD 199*

Friday, 27 February 2009

First anniversary of the death of Dom Gerard Calvet OSB, founder of Le Barroux

You might like to consider saying some of the Office of the Dead, or say a prayer tomorrow (Saturday) to mark the first anniversary of the death of Dom Gerard Calvet, founder of the traditionalist monastery of Le Barroux, and one of the key leaders of the movement. You can read some of his thought, and the story of his split with Lefebvre here.

Traddie picture of the day: the power of prayer

Another WYD picture, this time of an order that are not technically traditionalists, but are certainly very sympathetic to the TLM.

I have put it in today because some things about Mother Teresa's order connect up particularly well with some comments of the Holy Father at the Ash Wednesday ceremonies as reported by VIS. St Paul, he says,

"...exhorts us to "persevere" in prayer, and to "pray without ceasing". On the subject of almsgiving, he speaks of "the great collection in favour of our poor brethren" and underlines how "charity is the apex of a believer's life. ... He does not expressly mention fasting, but he often calls for sobriety as a characteristic of people called to live in vigilant expectation of the Lord".

"May Lent, marked by more frequent contact with the Word of God, by more intense prayer, and by a severe and penitential lifestyle, be a stimulus to convert and to love our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and needy".

Mother Teresa's Order is one (of the few these days) that takes asceticism seriously, as well as the care of the poor and needy, providing a standard for the rest of us to strive for as best we can especially in Lent!

Secondly, on the call for more intense prayer, there is a particular connection to yesterday's picture of the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church. You might recall that the Sisters were originally sedevacentists. But a neighbouring parish priest started a campaign to convert them. He persuaded his bishop to invite in the Missionaries of Charity, and the Missionaries embarked on a prayer campaign for their conversion, together with visits to them. It worked, a testament to the power of prayer by holy women! You can read the full story here.

A lot of the Gospel readings that have been set before us over the last week have been about the need for strong faith and persistence in prayer (the blind man on the road, the Centurion, and so forth) in order to get what we need from God! In an age that tends to deny God's direct agency, we need to be witnesses to his power to intervene, to save, to reward, to punish. Our prayers may not be as favoured as those of the saints, or those who offer so many sacrifices through their total consecration to God. But our sacrifices and prayers are valuable to do, and we won't know the effects until we try! So getting working on all those causes....

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Fr Adrian Ckuj RIP

Please pray for Fr Adrian Ckuj, who died in Rome on 21st February 2009, aged 39. The picture above (from John Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus) is from the requiem celebrated at the FSSP Church in Rome by Fr Mark Withoos, a schoolmate of his.

His funeral will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 5 March at 1pm at Sts Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, 35 Canning St North Melbourne. The vigil (not mass) will be celebrated on Wednesday 4 March at 7.00pm.

A supporter of the extraordinary form

Latin Mass Melbourne reports that Fr Ckuj, "born and raised in Melbourne, was 'a zealous priest of the Ukrainian Rite, but was also devoted to the traditional liturgy of the Roman Rite.

He had a foundational role in the provision of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at St Mary's Church, West Melbourne, in the 1990's."

A commenter on another blog notes that he used organise the servers for the Mass when it was held each week at St Mary's West Melbourne.

Fr. Ckuj was Chancellor of the Ukrainian Eparchy in Rome, and had been in a chemically induced coma in Rome after suffering for weeks from pulmonary bronchitis without improving.

Fr Ckuj's life

Ruskij Sion blog reports that:

"Fr. Adrian was born in Melbourne, 11 February 1970. From 1988 to 1991, studied microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne. In 1992, he entered the Ukrainian College of Saint Josaphat in Rome for priestly studies.

On 13 December 1997, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in the Eparchy of Melbourne. He completed his licentiate in Dogmatic Theology at the Gregorian University in 2001 and a licentiate in Canon Law at the Papal University of the Holy Cross in 2004.

In September 2004, he was appointed chancellor of the Apostolic Visitor for Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in Italy. In February 2005, he was elected secretary of the Santa Sofia Brotherhood in Rome and, from 2006 to 2008, he served as its president.

Fr. Adrian had one of the most wonderful jobs for World Youth Day held in Australia last year. He accompanied the relics of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati halfway around the world on their first journey outside of Italy.

Fr Ckuj commented that, although the journey from Turin was long, it was a “particularly prayerful” one for him alongside the body of such a young saint so widely venerated by Catholics."

He is survived by his parents and two brothers (one a parish priest in Sydney), to whom we offer our condolences.

Traddie picture of the day: christian unity and liturgical abuses

Today, a reminder of the fruits we have already seen from this pontificate in terms of the promotion of christian unity, with a picture of those nice ex-Sede sisters from WYD, Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church pictured here with Archbishop Hart in their attractively coloured habits. Do go take a look at their website for the latest news on them (they are recruiting...).

And those obsessed with things blue/ICK might also like to have a go at the caption competition going on over at The hermaneutic of continuity.

AB Ranjith on the liturgical abuses of the last decades...

Some recent comments of Archbishop Ranjith on the liturgy reported by Catholic World News and picked up by a number of blogs rather highlight just why groups like this left the Church and at times couldn't recognise that it was the same church. And why those who are currently insisting on total acceptance of Vatican II usually mean something other than what the texts actually said (notwithstanding that there are some problematic sections).

In particular he said, in the forward to a new book that:

"Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation."

"Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained."

"An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools."

He called for a true reform of the reform and us "to be courageous in improving or changing that which was erroneously introduced and which appears to be incompatible with the true dignity of the Liturgy."

Brisbane oh Brisbane....

The saga continues, with Fr Kennedy rejecting Archbishop Bathersby's offer of a mediator, dismissing it as 'more bullying'. Pretty insulting to former High Court judge Ian Callinan....

So what next? Deadly silence so far.

Archbishop Bathersby: was he pushed into action?

In the meantime, it seems the international media are finally picking up the vibe that Archbishop Bathersby might not be entirely enthusiastic in his desire to close down the Kennedy charade. CWN in particular have run a very gentle but probing piece asking the following question:

"When the archbishop engaged a mediator to resolve the dispute, Father Kennedy rejected the idea as another "bullying tactic." The defiant pastor went on to say, "you see bullies never get enough of bullying and Rome bullies the bishops and the bishops bully us."

So now the distant, faceless power of "Rome" has been brought into the discussion. Father Kennedy is hinting broadly that Archbishop Bathersby would not have taken disciplinary action if the archbishop himself hadn't been under pressure from the Vatican....

Is that true? Would Archbishop Bathersby have been willing to tolerate the liturgical and doctrinal abuses, if the Vatican hadn't insisted that he take action? That is a serious charge. The archbishop's public statements have indicated that he is appalled by what he has found happening at St. Mary's parish. Did he make those statements only for show-- only to save himself from the wrath of the Vatican? That is what Kennedy's theory implies."

Let me help my international readers out here by pointing to a helpful editorial on this subject from Australia's liberal 'catholic forum' Catholica (popularly known as acatholica). Catholica I should add, is generally strongly supportive of Fr Kennedy and his campaign. Its forum is full of posts from admitted lapsed catholics declaring him a living saint and such like sentiments...

Catholica's take on the Archbishop

Catholica's editor Brian Coyne, wrote an Open Letter to the two priests involved and the parish community. It starts by congratulating St Mary's on its great work in the past:

"On behalf of the Catholica OnLine Community, I would firstly like to congratulate you on the now long and impressive legacy of good works which you have established at the Parish of St Mary's and which has become a shining beacon [well, a beacon of some kind anyway] certainly at the national level and possibly even at the international level....

He goes on to denounce those nasty catholic agitators who actually want valid sacraments, a church free of pagan idols, and abuse free liturgies (not to mention an orthodox sermon from a priest):

"I know I echo the general feelings of the Catholica community that have been expressed to me in our forums, via emails and telephone calls that the recent events at St Mary's following your being reported to the Vatican by a small canker group within the Catholic Church have caused deep disquiet to many..."

But then calls on them to stop attacking the Archbishop:

"While, in spirit, Catholica members have been supportive of your endeavours at St Mary's I have also picked up a certain disquiet over some of the confrontational tactics adopted in response to Archbishop John Bathersby...."

Not because he has been doing the right thing mind you. But firstly because it distracts from the cause of overthrowing the Church:

"Our concern has been two-fold: firstly we believe focusing your attack on Archbishop Bathersby was misconceived and likely to draw attention away from the real causes of your problems, and the general problems of the increasing lack of relevance the institutional Church has for the vast majority of baptised Catholics in this nation [Most of whom have ceased practicing in response to the wreckovations to the liturgy perpetrated by Fr Kennedy and his ilk]. Secondly we were concerned that the calls of yourself, Fr Kennedy, to establish some new community outside the institutional structure were likely to be counterproductive for you personally, for the community at St Mary's, for the wider Church and, most especially, for all those people of good will seeking to agitate for an institutional Church more responsive to the spiritual and other needs of the vast majority of Catholics in this country, many of whom now feel disenfranchised from the Church built by their forebears.[The old 'I'm a catholic because I say I'm a catholic' line - even if I don't believe or practice what the Church teaches...]"

And here it comes. AB Bathersby is on Fr Kennedy's side really:

"...We do believe that perhaps more might have been achieved if, earlier on, a more cooperative line might have been adopted in negotiations with Archbishop Bathersby and that might have been more mindful of the difficult political position he found himself placed in. At this stage that is now largely "water under the bridge" and the strategic positions that existed at earlier stages for yourselves, or for the Archbishop cannot now be recalled.

It is our belief that over the years Archbishop Bathersby, like ourselves, has been broadly supportive of your endeavours at St Mary's. It has been our assessment that he has turned a "blind eye" to many of the complaints that have been directed to him out of a sense of broader solidarity and support for the objectives of your community and the important outreach it represented to those who have perhaps not been well served by the institution. His "blind eye" has not been motivated principally by laziness or indifference but from a sense that he viewed there was much good being achieved at St Mary's despite some of the liberties that might have been adopted in liturgical styles [and his blind eye, and that of his predecessors is why invalid baptisms continued to be performed for over twenty years.. you have to wonder what proportion of St Mary's large congregation are actually even technically catholics...].

...I believe the members of Catholica will be more supportive of a more moderate line by yourselves including your canonical appeal and the planned rally of support on Sunday particularly if the focus is shifted away from some personal attack on Archbishop Bathersby and instead directed to the authorities in Rome and their constant appeasement of this tiny, totally unrepresentative [but rapidly growing!] canker who have caused so many difficulties for yourselves over the years and who have also been largely responsible for driving so many out of the pews of the wider Church over a period of many, many decades." [Oh yeah. Because Australia has so had a strong history of orthodox 'reform of the reform' style masses. Not. Especially not in Queensland. There is no equivalent of the Oratory or other conservative centres of resistance to spirit of Vatican IIism in this country. No wonder people left.]

I would urge all those who attend [last] Sunday's rally not to turn this into some effort to bloody the nose of Archbishop John Bathersby but that it be simply a peaceful, and non-liturgically or in other ways provocative way of sending a forceful message to the powers-that-be in Rome that it is time they started listening (a) to the more pastoral [!] bishops of Australia and (b) through them to the spiritual and liturgical needs of the vast majority of the faithful in this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit.

Oh and there's a plea for tolerance of us too (because we know liberals are so good at that), so long as we learn our proper place in life:

I would also urge, strategically, that those in the more progressive and mainstream sectors of the Church need to recognise that institutionally we have a responsibility to be tolerant towards those who understand, or express, their faith in more simplistic [!] or legalistic [!] or liturgically and devotionally conservative ways. They have a right to their beliefs and their ways of worship. The focus of any protest should not be directed at their beliefs or practices other than the single belief they seem to have that they can dictate the entire belief and worship agenda for the whole of Catholicism.

So has Archbishop Bathersby been dragging his heels as CWN hints? Well it sure looks like it from both sides of the fence...If the situation isn't resolved soon (and really anyway), surely he has to go.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Tradie picture of the day: on the front line

Today is Ash Wednesday, and there are unfortunately, an abundance of causes that you could offer some of your Lenten penances for. The situation in Brisbane. The Pope. The reconciliation of the SSPX and TAC. The bushfire victims. The loss of lives through the holocaust of abortion. Vocations. And of course your friends and family.

But in some ways the thing that unites all of these is the call for our land to convert. And for that to happen, we need the efforts of faithful priests.

So I'm interrupting my little run on the colour blue in liturgical use to pay homage again to Fr Tim Finigan of The Hermaneutic of Continuity blog (his profile picture is above).

Now Father Finigan is not in the strictest definition a traditionalist I suspect, but he is certainly attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, and a strong promoter of 'reform of the reform' and a rejection of 'spirit of Vatican IIism'.

And he is certainly very orthodox. Worse still in the minds of some, he is spreading that orthodoxy both through his leadership of his own parish, as an instructor at his diocesan seminary and to the English Carthusian monks, and through participation in an impressive schedule of other activities such as training other priests to say the TLM. And that makes him a prime target...

In the latest extraordinary development, the Tablet forced him to remove the hatchet job article they did on him (for the crime of offering the TLM in his parish), which he had put up on his blog together with responses to their claims, in the name of copyright!

Unbelievable. Well, actually very believable. But in a way its a good thing that ageing liberals haven't really come to terms with the power of the internet as yet, and when they do use it make a hash of it (Fr Kennedy's self-inditing blog South Brisbane parish blog springs to mind) ...

In any case, Fr Finigan's 'legally compliant version' of his response though, is hilarious and well worth a read. And please do say a prayer for him and all good priests in amongst your fasting and abstinence today.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Tradie picture of the day: pray for vocations

Just a reminder that there are lots of fervent priestly vocations out there - not of course in the dying dioceses infected by liberalism. Not even, in any number, in the 'conservative' parishes. But the traditional seminaries are packed. And that is why the future will be ours...

Here, Monsignor Ranjith was presiding at an ordination for the Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) in Wigratzbad last year.

And yes, those vestments are blue (because blue symbolises devotion to Our Lady, and it was a Marian feastday. The Ordination Mass took place in Bavaria, which has an indult for blue vestments on such days).

On the FSSP, you might care to keep their young men preparing for ordination (a group to be ordained deacons on March 13, priests on May 30) in your prayers. You can find their names on the North American website.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Tradie picture of the day...

Pictures of the day seem to be the in thing on blogs around the place at the moment so I thought I might join the party.

First, of course, there is the Papist Picture of the Day over at American Catholic (this one via REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN)).

There is the vocation piccie over at Roman Catholic Vocations.

And now the 'Not my mass' picture (in honour of Fr Finigan) from In hoc signo (do go over and take a look at the latest if you can bear it, for a guitar twanging number), below is number one in the series.

Now mocking clown masses is all well and good, but good also I think to keep reminding liberals and neo-cons of what just what it is (for reasons that one can only speculate on) they fear and despise.

Not to mention providing some nice eye candy for the rest of us as the signs and sounds of the battle crash around us.

So, I give you, the Tradie piccie of the (occasional) day. And this first one is dedicated to my fellow blogger Hardman Window who can't get enough of the Institute of Christ the King it seems, so I'm sure will enjoy seeing the cartoon version he has just posted in full colour.

The sisters and priests of the Institute are pictured with Monsignor Perl of the Ecclesia Dei Commission on the occasion of their recognition as 'of pontifical right' last year.

And on the Institute, if you've done your novena inspired by the FSSP (or even especially if not!) you might like to consider signing up to the spiritual bouquet for the Pope that they currently have going.

Getting ready for Lent - Spiritual reading

Last week I talked about fasting, one of the traditional three things to do for Lent (along with prayer and almsgiving).

But I thought I might also mention a few other possibilities to consider adding to your regime.

Four lenten practices

The Benedictine Rule actually specifies four practices for Lent, all of which are worth consideration in our own regimes I think, namely:
  • prayer with tears - some extra time and fervour focusing on compunction of heart and avoidance of sin;

  • fasting and abstinence;

  • some specific offering - such as foregoing some food, drink, sleep, talk or jesting; and

  • sacred reading.
I thought I'd say a little bit about sacred reading (which can count as prayer if you do itr right!), as there is just time to find yourself a book to work through for Lent...

Sacred reading

During Lent, the Benedictine Rule actually increases the amount of time each day to be devoted to lectio divina. Each monk was to be given a book for the season from the library, which he was to read through in order (and meditate on).

The letter of St Scholastica I quoted from last week suggested that the superior had to choose a book specifically suited to the needs of each person, since left to ourselves we won't choose what's good for us!:

"When a sister chooses her own book she is all too often swayed by personal prejudices and taste. It is easy to avoid the book that will prick the soul with compunction. And so I choose carefully for my little flock, imitating Nonna Lucia, our infirmarian, an expert dispenser of medicines for every affliction. In choosing the Lenten books, I try to offer a remedy for the sick soul, a comfort for the weary, a joy for the downhearted, a light for the path of the one who seems to have lost her way."

So the ideal is to get your Spiritual Director to suggest something appropriate. Alas, few of us have the luxury of such a person, so we will have to help each other out with suggestions. One option, of course, is to pick a book of the Bible and work your way through that systematically with a good commentary. One of St Paul's letter's might be particularly appropriate this year!

Personally, though, I prefer either to see if anyone suggests anything in the lead up to Lent that sounds good, to head for the local Catholic bookshop and see what catches my eye, or to tackle one of those books I've had sitting on my bookshelf, and dipped into from time to time, but never really read from cover to cover (or if I have it was so long ago that I've forgotten it!)!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Brisbane: bomb and violence threats prolong the agony

This was to be the weekend when a new administrator, Fr Howell, officially took over St Mary's, Brisbane following the termination of Fr Kennedy's appointment last week. Instead the church was packed last night for a concert (picture above from the Courier Mail) in support of Fr Kennedy, who intends to offer all of the masses this weekend.

Why? Because on Friday the Archbishop received a bomb threat saying that he would be "picked up in pieces". And even before that the police advised Fr Howell to cancel out on the basis that he and people attending mass could be at risk as 'feelings were running high'.

A truly lovely demonstration of the true colours of this allegedly socially concerned congregation.

The Archbishop now plans to appoint a mediator. Well yes, I guess this is a hostage situation. Unsurprisingly though Fr Kennedy doesn't seem too interested in this idea.

So how long will this scandal continue, and when does the SWAT team get sent in?

WYD star defects

And while we are on bad news stories for the Australian church, the SMH is reporting that the young woman who played Mary in WYD's Stations of the Cross has defected to Hillsong, seeking 'to learn more about the Bible' and a 'deeper relationship with God'.

You might recall that the WYD Stations of the Cross were heavily protestanized, with all of the traditional non-Scriptural stations removed in the interests of ecumenism and interreligious sensibilities. Is it too long a bow...

In any case, please do pray for Ms Dickson's repentance and reconciliation.

And don't forget amidst our day of mourning that today is the Feast of the Chair of St Peter, a particularly important day to pray for the Pope.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

National Day of Mourning for the bushfires

A special service is being held in Melbourne this Sunday to mark the national day of mourning for the victims of the Victorian bushfires (picture via The Age), and the Prime Minster has asked churches around the coun try to toll their bells for two minutes at 11am. The Melbourne service will be attended by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

At the moment the toll stands at 209, but seems likely to go still further.

There is also a Bushfire Message Book which all parishes are invited to add to (you can download the template here). On it the Prime Minister has said:

"In recent days our nation has begun to come to terms with the worst natural disaster in Australian history. We have witnessed scenes of unspeakable sadness and loss. Thousands of Australians have lost family, friends, neighbours, homes and everything they own.

At the same time, we have witnessed something else that is extraordinary. We have learnt of remarkable acts of heroism, courage and self-sacrifice as men and women risked their lives to save people they had never met. And we have seen an extraordinary outpouring of compassion as the whole nation has reached out to the fire victims. In communities across Australia, people have opened their wallets, come together in prayer and poured out their hearts as the whole nation has stopped to ask simply, what can I do to help?

As an expression of sympathy and support, I invite you to add your name to the pages of the Bushfire Message Book. For those whose lives have been forever changed by this tragedy, this will stand as a lasting record of the nation’s support and sympathy, and our resolve to help them rebuild their lives and their communities."

Benedictine Ordo for week of 22 February

This week marks the start of Lent in the Church's calendar, with the fast of Ash Wednesday.

Liturgically however it is a kind of quasi-Lent, reflecting the relatively late addition of these few days to the season of Lent. The full 'ordinary of Lent' (including the special tones for hymns etc for Lent if you sing the Office) kicks in only next Saturday night.

Sunday, 22 February, Quinquagesima Sunday, Class II


Monday, 23 February, St Peter Damian OSB, Memorial

Lauds: MD [73]

Vespers: First vespers of St Matthias, MD (2), [73]

Tuesday, 24 February, St Matthias, Apostle, Class II

All hours: Common of Apostles (9) with collect MD [73]

Wednesday, 25 February, Ash Wednesday Class I

Beginning of Lent - Day of fasting and abstinence

Pater Noster and collect said kneeling from today until Wednesday of Holy Week

MD 180*

Thursday, 26 February, Class III - Day of penitence

MD 181* for collect and canticle antiphons

Friday, 27 February, Class III - Day of penitence, abstinence

MD 182* for collect and antiphons

Saturday, 28 February, Class III - Day of pentitence

Lauds antiphon and collect - MD 183*

First Vespers for the first Sunday of Lent MD 184*

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Sacred and Great: the trials and tribulations of a faithful parish priest** updated

Readers of Fr Z will be aware that the Tablet is apparently about to do a number on Fr Tim Finigan of the wonderful Hermaneutic of Continuity blog. Fr Finigan has now come out himself to give some background on the story.

Essentially, some of his parishioners have objected - vehemently - to the fact that amongst the four masses he offers for each Sunday (one is the Saturday vigil), one is a TLM and another a novus ordo ad orientem. The story itself really illustrates the difficult times we live in as tradition is reasserted, and particularly the challenges faced by faithful priests.

But on the positive side, he has published a really wonderful leaflet he has written on the liturgy. It is basically a plea for tolerance of diversity. Fr Finigan himself prefers the Extraordinary Form of the Mass - but he understands that many of his parishioners prefer the new mass in English, which he also provides. What he is particularly concerned about are the misunderstandings about liturgy, what Vatican II actually said, and about the nature and roles of the priest and laity that drive the objectors. It is a truly excellent read.

So please do pray for Fr Finigan and his parish, and other priests and parishes in similar situations.
Yup, it happened. You can read the article with Fr Finigan's response here.
The crime - as advertised, having a TLM as his 10.30am Sunday Mass. Plus, to round out the charges, no extraordinary ministers at novus ordo masses, having communion rails and encouraging reception kneeling, having suitable vestments and clerical garb, having musical taste, suggesting that people save the chatter for outside the Church, and so forth. Just goes to show the liberals really do understand the importance of liturgy and sense of the sacred - which is why they war against it...

Preparing for Lent - fasting and abstinence*

Lent is rapidly approaching, so if you haven't already its time to start thinking and preparing for what you are going to do. St Benedict urges us to make up in Lent for our laxness at other times, and that seems like good advice! Moreover, this year, you might care to offer something extra for the Holy Father and for the state of our country.

So, what should we do for Lent? The best place to start is on what we have to do!

Fasting and abstinence

Canon Law (CL 1250) does actually still require us to fast and abstain in Lent, and do something penitential on all the days in Lent.

That means for Ash Wednesday next week:
  • no meat;
  • only one full meal and two smaller meals that don't equal the large one meal. No eating between meals is allowed, but water, milk tea, coffee, and juices are OK.
So it is a serious discipline (mind you, not so serious as in the middle ages, or amongst the Orthodox today, when eggs, dairy products and oil were also cut out). So why not fulfill your obligation on the other pentiential days by following the same regime? It requires a bit of planning to make sure meals are balanced, with sufficient protein (think nuts, beans and pulses, fish, cheeze, eggs, complementary grains and pulses), iron (think some types of fish and seafood, lentils and beans, spinach etc), and interesting (the discipline is reducing quantities and eliminating meant, not eating nasty tasting stuff!).

Of course, there is a let out clause, which allows you (courtesy of our Bishop's Conference) to substitute some other penance instead of this. And why bother when fasting is traditional?

The Pope on the purpose of fasting - Scripture

And in fact the Pope, in a message for Lent, made just this point. He started by setting fasting in a Scriptural context, where fasting is often:

  • a preparation for tasks to come
"Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter. "

  • a tool to help us avoid sin

"We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting.

In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gn 2, 16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that “fasting was ordained in Paradise,” and “the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.” He thus concludes: “ ‘You shall not eat’ is a law of fasting and abstinence” (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God."

  • A means of showing repentance and averting God's anger
"Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that “we might humble ourselves before our God” (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah’s call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: “Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?” (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them. "

  • A way of doing the Father's will, and eating the true Word of God
"In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, who “sees in secret, and will reward you” (Mt 6,18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4,4).

The true fast is thus directed to eating the “true food,” which is to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn 4,34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord’s command “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,” the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy."

Rediscovering the practice of fasting in the Church

The Pope also draws our attention to the tradition of the Church in relation to fasting:

"The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13,3; 14,22; 27,21; 2 Cor 6,5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God.

Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself” (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322).

In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one’s body. Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.

In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to “no longer live for himself, but for Him who loves him and gave himself for him … he will also have to live for his brethren“ (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22, 34-40)."

The virtues of fasting

The Pope also suggested some fresh reasons for fasting today, in terms of building the unity of body and soul, and opening us to service of neighbour:

"The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as “twisted and tangled knottiness” (Confessions, II, 10.18), writes: “I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that he will forgive me, to be pleasing in his eyes, that I may enjoy his delightfulness” (Sermo 400, 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.

At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, Saint John admonishes: “If anyone has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, yet shuts up his bowels of compassion from him – how does the love of God abide in him?” (3,17). Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, 15). By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15, 25-27), the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast (Didascalia Ap., V, 20,18). This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.

From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: “Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia – Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.”

Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (cf. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, 21). May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor."

More on getting ready for Lent soon...

Monday, 16 February 2009

Austrian nominee for bishop withdraws

When Pope Benedict XVI was first elected many hoped he'd take a tough stance - restore the TLM, sack more than a few bishops and appoint orthodox men in their stead, and so forth. It has been a bit of a wait - he has attempted to build bridges and momentum (with some success) and proceed step by step - but he is now acting faster. And the reaction is building. And it is not good.

Linz nominee withdraws

The latest, and very bad news I think, via CathCon is that the Pope's nominee as auxiliary of Linz in Austria, Fr Wagner, has withdrawn his nomination in the face of opposition, and his withdrawal has been accepted by the Vatican.

Fr Wagner's sins, for those who haven't been following the saga, are, amongst other things, refusing to have altar girls in his parish church, and daring to suggest that Cyclone Katrina might have some relationship to sin in New Orleans. No wonder no mainstream Australian clergyman has publicly dared to suggest any connection between the Victorian bushfires and the recent abortion legislation, whatever they might think privately!

The pressure

In the lead up to this latest development:
  • a number of Austrian bishops complained publicly about the appointment - a meeting of them was to be held today to discuss the matter;
  • a group of priests started a 'referendum' to counter the appointment;
  • large numbers of the laity claimed to have defected to protestant churches.

Now, one might think that the last two points give it all away really - the objectors clearly really are protestants in all but name (the same old syndrome of people insisting that they are catholics while rejecting everything the name stands for). So on the face of it disappointing, if perhaps understandable, that the Vatican has backed down.

Some reasons why standing firm might not be the best tactic

But I suspect the Pope, while clearly prepared to act (or put pressure on others to do their jobs) in the worst cases, prefers to keep this schism de facto rather than declared not least because it is dying out by attrition. Its followers are mostly of a certain generation - and with a few notable exceptions they are mostly a pretty dispirited lot. The thrashing around we are seeing, it can be argued, really are its death throes. But if it did split off, that would inevitably energize it somewhat, and might start reproducing itself.

Now I'm not totally convinced of this analysis myself - I'm a black and white kind of girl, and prefer to call a spade a bloody shovel (as if you hadn't noticed!).

In the Church, Liberals just seem a menace, making life unpleasant for the rest of us, and I'm not totally convinced that the disruption caused by St Mary-esq affairs breaking out all around the world would necessarily be worse than the regular doses of heretical sermons and liturgical abuses, let alone the fraudulent sacraments perpetrated by the worst offenders, most of us are forced to regularly endure.

Still, the problem facing the Pope I guess, is that while we know the Church would eventually prevail, given a hostile and subversive curia combined with a lack of sufficient orthodox and loyal bishops, it might be a long drawn out and bloody war (Bishop Morris of Toowomba for example apparently has the support of all his Queensland brother bishops and one suspects more than a few other key members of the Australian hierarchy in his efforts to 'get his people used to the idea' of married priests, woman and protestant 'priests', and other creative solutions to the lack of vocations).

The Pope however clearly does know the stakes - he has made comments several times about how to avoid a Reformation, and I personally don't think his main focus in reflecting on this subject was really the SSPX. His strategy seems to be to hope that the wider availability of the TLM, the (potential) reconciliation of the SSPX (and perhaps others such as the TAC), together with the weight of demographics, will, over time work to change the dynamic and enable heresy to be combated more effectively. There is something to this, even if it is painful for the orthodox in the meantime!

Still, unless he can get good bishops in place, that agenda is in serious jeopardy.

Hope everyone is saying that novena....

**The commentary on CMR is also worth a read on this - it calls this a pivotal moment.

And please, dear readers, do comment! So long as you give yourself a name, and keep it reasonably polite by attacking ideas not individuals, feedback and discussion is very welcome.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Novena for the Pope - starts today!

The FSSP have put out the following call for a novena in support of the Pope, starting today. Please do join in.

FSSP's call to arms

Their statement says:

"Many of the faithful are aware of the opposition which the Holy Father has faced in his efforts to reconcile the Society of Pius X. The current pressure from the media and others seems to not only threaten Pope Benedict’s work with SSPX. It also seems as though some would like to see it work as a means to undermine his very teaching and governing authority for his pontificate.

Given these oppositions which the Holy Father faces; given the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter's particular role in working as a bridge for those who have grown apart from the Church in the last forty years; finally, given that we hold St. Peter as our patron and have a particular attachment to his successor, the Fraterniy of St. Peter has asked all of its the members to offer increased prayers at this time for strength for Pope Benedict XVI.

A good number of priests and seminarians have contacted the General House to ask if the Fraternity could have particular prayers offered for this intention. All the members of the Fraternity are being asked to offer the following novena beginning on February 14 and concluding on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. All the faithful in the Apostolates are encouraged to join in these prayers and that the Masses on that Sunday (Quinquagesima) would be offered for this intention as well."

The Novena prayers

Pater Noster, 3 Ave Maria, Gloria Patri
(Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory be).

V. Orémus pro Pontífice nostro Benedícto. R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum, et beátum fáciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum eius.
(V: Let us pray for our Pope Benedict.R: May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.)

V. Tu es Petrus. R. Et super hanc petram ædificábo Ecclésiam meam.
(V. Thou art Peter,R. And upon this Rock, I will build My Church.)

Orémus. Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto : et dírige eum secúndum tuam cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ : ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat, et tota virtúte perfíciat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. R. Amen.
(Let us Pray, Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon your servant, Benedict, our Sovereign Pontiff, and guide him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation; so that, with the prompting of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Through Christ Our Lord. R. Amen.)

Mater Ecclésiæ, ora pro nobis. Sancte Petre, ora pro nobis.
(V. Mother of the Church. R. Pray for us. V St. Peter. R. Pray for us)

Benedictine Ordo for week of 14 February

Saturday 14 February, St Valentine, memorial

Office of Saturday of Our Lady MD (120) with antiphon and prayer at Lauds, MD [67]

First Vespers of Sexagesima Sunday, MD 182*

Sunday, 15 February, Sexagesima Sunday, Class II

MD 164*

Monday, 16 February, Class IV

Vespers: Magnificat antiphon MD 170*

Tuesday, 17 February, Class IV

Vespers: Magnificat antiphon MD 170*

Wednesday, 18 February, Class IV

Vespers: Magnificat antiphon MD 170*

Thursday, 19 February, Class IV

Vespers: Magnificat antiphon: MD 171*

Friday. 20 February, Class IV

Vespers: Magnificat antiphon, MD 171*

Saturday, 21 February, St Meinrad, Class I* (where celebrated)

St Meinrad, MD16** or Office of Our Lady on Saturday, MD (120)

First Vespers of Quinquagesima Sunday, MD 171* with a commemoration of the Chair of St Peter (add the collects, with one conclusion only, from MD[69])

Friday, 13 February 2009

Tim and dissers....

Courtesy of Catholic World News:

  • The club of Australian bishops who publicly dissent on issues such as women's ordination and clerical celibacy (see in particular media regular Patrick Power) has been joined vocally by the Bishop of Toowoomba, William Morris, who has revealed that he has been under investigation by the Vatican for the last two years after a pastoral letter on the subject and may well lose his job.
  • Note the article I've provided a link to above also gives an update on the Kennedy affair, with Archbishop Bathersby indicating that he is prepared to have Fr Kennedy forcibly ejected from St Mary's.
  • Our Tim (former Deputy Prime Minister Mr Tim Fischer) has formally taken up his new role as Australia's first permanent Ambassador to the Holy See (up til now the job has usually been combined with Ambassador to Ireland or some other such sinecure).

What damages the Church? And does salvation matter....

There has been an interesting debate going on around blogdom on the idea of 'damaging the Church'. It started of course in the context of the poor handling of the lifting of the SSPX excommunications. But then moved to the core issue which I guess comes down to, how much should we worry about what people think of the Church?

Who damages the Church most?

Fr Z even posed the question as who does the most damage to the Church Lefebvre vs Fr Kennedy (and his ilk). Amongst Fr Z's readers at least, heresy (well apostasy really) still trumps schismatic tendencies (by 91:9). Still, I rather doubt that reflects the general view.

Fr Sean Finnigan seemed to suggest, in the post that triggered this particular debate, that who represents the greater threat to souls is actually pretty clear cut ('Well duh!). But as Fr Fr Blake points out, it is an important question, and the answer won't be self-evident to many. But it does go to what the whole SSPX affair is really about:

"For the last forty years, in one way or another, to a greater or lesser degree, we have been following Fr Kennedy's course and decrying Archbishop Lefebvre's. The question today is, should we? This is ultimately what is behind the furore over the Williamson business, and the squeals and noise from the Catholic left at the possibility reconciliation of the SSPX."

The real issue is what criteria we use to judge 'damage' - the salvation of souls, or the public image of the Church here on earth.

And it is important, because it is a debate that will keep on getting played out, not least in how the next twist in the Brisbane saga will be managed (Fr Kennedy is apparently planning on refusing to leave St Mary's, and says he will sleep there from February 20).

Does it matter what they think?

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for bringing the Vatican (and many other Church organs) into the 21st century in terms of media management. There was a lot of unnecessarily negative fallout, and worse, confusion amongst the faithful about what it all meant, from the SSPX affair (not helped in the least, as some commenters on Cooees have pointed out, but the likes of pots like Cardinal Pell calling the kettle black!), and there is enough anti-Catholicism about without adding to the feeding frenzy. Negative publicity can put an unnecessary barrier in front of people interested in converting to Catholicism, and so is important.

Still, it is only too easy to lose a proper perspective on these issues. The Pope is doing things which will, no matter how well managed, have some negative fall-out in the short term. But in the long-term they may have huge payoffs in terms of the vigour and health of the Church militant, and hence the salvation of souls.

Yet in the meantime, the mainstream persist in wanting to be seen as caring, sharing, dialoguing people, happy to invest huge resources in activities that have little if any connection with the Church's actual actual mission of bringing all nations to the worship of God.

Showing that we care.... 1. Canberra's prison

Let me give two current examples.

Canberra is about to open its first prison (!), and the diocese is putting together a chaplaincy team. Fair enough.

But what should we make of these comments from the 'chaplain', Sr Janet Glass, on the front page of the diocesan newspaper The Voice:

"...But pastoral care is really about listening, the plan of action comes later. I try to establish a bond of friendship with the prisoners and when you get their trust then you’re able to ask questions.

We never know the full story – I only know what they choose to tell me. But you can’t judge, you come in with an open mind to show them the Church cares.

Sr Janet said prison ministry is not about “saving souls”, [OK, so its not actually really ministry at all but secular social work?] but being different things for different people.

It’s very ecumenical – I don’t know who is a Catholic and who’s not. [If you don't know whether they are catholic or not, you can't arrange for them to see if a priest if they need to. You can't talk to them about the need for conversion. Isn't this a bit of a problem?] It’s about compassion and getting across the message that God loves them and forgives them."[Does he? In the absence of sacramental confession how can we be sure?!]

Strange stuff in a week when the Pope once again reiterated that the greatest need of all that people have is God in a world that has forgotten him.

Showing that we care...2. The bushfires

A second example is a little debate going on over at Sentire cum Ecclesia over whether or not the bushfires might perchance be a response to Victoria's Abortion legislation (prompted by reports of a Pentecostal minister who claims to have had a vision to this effect).

Now let me make it clear that the Church seems to have been doing the right things for the right reasons in Victoria by way of response - organising a relief fund, saying mass for the victims, providing pastoral support.

But the general tenor of response to Mr Schulz's very tentative suggestion that there might be some causality has been utter outrage. First at the notion that punishment can be collective rather than just individual (a violation of the illusion of control over our lives that is a basic tenet of modern secularism). Secondly at the notion of punishment full stop, at the notion that God is not just a nice cuddly guy who 'loves and forgives us' (no matter whether or not we are actually sorry for what we did). And thirdly over the notion that the Church might actually have an obligation to voice the hard truths as well as provide support and comfort. Because we wouldn't want to give the media a free ride would we....

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes, healing the sick

As well as being the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, it is World Day of the Sick today.

The Pope made some interesting comments in anticipation, at the Angelus on Sunday:

"The experience of the healing of the sick occupies a good portion of the public mission of Christ and it invites us once again to reflect on the meaning and value of illness in every situation in which the human being can find himself....

Despite the fact that illness is part of human existence, we never manage to get used to it, not only because sometimes it comes to be burdensome and grave, but essentially because we are made for life, for complete life. Precisely our "internal instinct" makes us think of God as plenitude of life, and even more, as eternal and perfect Life. When we are tested by sickness and our prayers seem in vain, doubt wells up in us and, filled with anguish, we ask ourselves: What is God's will?

It is precisely to this question that we find an answer in the Gospel. For example, in the passage of today we read: "He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him" (Mark 1:34). In another passage from St. Matthew, it says: "He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people" (Matthew 4:23).

Jesus does not leave room for doubt: God -- whose face he himself has revealed -- is the God of life, who frees us from all evil. The signs of this, his power of love are the healings that he carries out: He thus shows that the Kingdom of God is near, restoring men and women to their full integrity in spirit and body. I refer to these healings as signs: They guide toward the message of Christ, they guide us toward God and make us understand that man's truest and deepest illness is the absence of God, who is the fount of truth and love. And only reconciliation with God can give us true healing, true life, because a life without love and without truth would not be a true life. The Kingdom of God is precisely the presence of truth and love, and thus it is healing in the depths of our being.

Thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, the work of Jesus is prolonged in the mission of the Church. Through the sacraments, it is Christ who communicates his life to the multitude of brothers and sisters, as he cures and comforts innumerable sick people through so many activities of health care service that Christian communities promote with fraternal charity, thereby showing the face of God, his love. It is true: How many Christians all over the world -- priests, religious and laypeople -- have given and continue giving their hands, eyes and hearts to Christ, true physician of bodies and souls!

Let us pray for all the ill, especially for those who are most grave, and who can in no way take care of themselves, but depend entirely on the care of others; may every one of them be able to experience, in the solicitude of those who are near to them, the power of the love of God and the richness of his grace that saves us. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us..."

Bushfire updates

Confirmed deaths are now at 180, with the real toll estimated to be over 300. Add to that the estimated 100 people who died in the heatwave of the previous fortnight.

So nice to see a message of support from the Pope conveyed to the Governor-General by Cardinal Bertone, and up on the Melbourne archdiocese website:

“...Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic consequences of recent fires in the State of Victoria, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assured all affected of his closeness in prayer.

The Holy Father commends the deceased to the loving mercy of Almighty God, and upon their grieving families, and all those suffering from loss of property and destruction of land, he invokes divine strength and consolation.

His Holiness likewise prays for all involved in providing assistance to the victims of this disaster, encouraging them in their efforts to bring relief and support."

In addition, Archbishop Hart will offer a mass for the victims on Thursday at 1pm. For more on what the Church is doing in Victoria, including details of a bushfire charitable fund, go take a look here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Feast of St Scholastica

Born in 480AD, St Scholastica was the twin sister of St Benedict, and abbess of a nearby monastery to his - the origin of the Benedictine tradition of twinned men's and women's monasteries. Relatively little is known of her life - St Gregory the Great's Dialogues contain the only two surviving stories attesting to her holiness.

Life of St Scholastica

The first story tells of how St Scholastica out did her brother in prayer, getting God to bring on a thunderstorm in order to prevent St Benedict cutting short her annual visit to him (he was being a bit of a wowser). The second story is of St Benedict being granted a vision of her entry into heaven in the form of a dove, in 547.

St Scholastica and the history of Benedictine nuns

One of the interesting aspects of the first story is the idea of an annual visit by a nun to a monk. While many contemporary, and virtually all later orders made a significant distinction between monks and nuns in terms of enclosure, with women generally much more strictly enclosed, feminine versions of the Benedictine Rule from the middle ages typically just changed the gender references and dropped the two chapters relating to the selection and entry of priests.

And in fact a letter attributed to St Scholastica discovered a few years back and featured on Vultus Christi provides some nice supporting evidence on that. It was apparently written around 535, and survives in a later medieval copy. Even if it isn't genuine (and while I don't know what the status of the research on this is, it certainly sounds plausible!), it does presumably reflect some of the thinking of the later medieval monastery.

And either way, it provides some excellent on how to tackle Lent to ponder as we move ever closer to its start!

A remarkable letter

"To my beloved sister in Christ, the Lady Flavia, abbess of the handmaids of the Lord near Benevento.Grace and peace from Scholastica, abbess in the school of the Lord’s service that is at Plombariola.

....Know that I have no teaching of my own; from the time of my veiling (velatio) the commands and teaching of my brother, blessed by grace and by name, “have mingled like the leaven of divine justice in my mind” (RB 25).

In truth, dear sister, he who is my brother according to the flesh, has become my father in the Spirit. It was he who named me Scholastica, saying that, like him, I was destined to remain in the “school of the Lord’s service” (RB Pro:45). In this school I have found “nothing that is harsh or hard to bear” (RB Pro:46). On the contrary, through the continual practice of monastic observance and the life of faith” (RB Pro:49), my heart is opened wide, and even now I am running in the way of God’s commandments in a sweetness of love that is beyond words (cf. RB Pro: 49).

I see my venerable brother but once a year, and even then he refuses to come to me, not wanting to leave the enclosure of his monastery. I am obliged to go to him at Monte Cassino, inspired by the example of the Queen of the South who traveled far to sit at the feet of Solomon and listen to his wisdom. My brother himself says that “we must hurry to do now what will profit us forever” (RB Pro 44). I will continue to go to him as long as I am able to make the journey, trusting that he who formed us together in our mother’s womb will one day bring us “together to life everlasting” (cf. RB 73:12).

You ask me to tell you how we observe Lent here at Plombariola. My venerable brother, in his “little Rule written for beginners” (RB 73:8), says that “a monk’s life ought at all seasons to bear a Lenten character” (RB 49:1).

He is also the first to admit that “such strength is found only in the few” (RB 49:2). Following his teaching, I urge my sisters to “keep the holy days of Lent with a special purity of life, and also at this holy season to make reparation for the failings of other times” (RB 49:3). I try to order Lent in my monastery with “discretion, the mother of virtues” (RB 54:19) in such a way that “the strong may desire to carry more, and the weak are not afraid” (RB 54:19)....

My venerable brother says that we are to “guard ourselves from faults” during this holy time. To do this, one must “always remember all God’s commandments, and constantly turn over in one’s heart how hell will burn those who despise him by their sins and how eternal life has been prepared for those who fear him” (RB 7:11). My brother calls this the first step of humility. As for me, my faults appear daily in the bright mirror of the Scriptures. I have no excuse for putting off the labour of my conversion. As the psalmist says: “Thou hast set our evil-doings before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Ps 89:8).

My venerable brother recommends four Lenten practices: “prayer with tears, reading, compunction of heart, and abstinence” (RB 49:4).

The first, prayer with tears, has always come easily to me. God has never refused me anything I asked of him with tears. I have no doubt that he “has set my tears in his sight” (Ps 55:9). Tears in prayer are no cause for alarm. The heart pressed by the hand of God in prayer weeps just as a sponge held tightly in your hand or mine gives forth water.

Sacred reading is my brother’s second Lenten practice. He considers it so important that he completely changes the horarium of his monastery during Lent to make more time for it. Here we do the same. Nothing is done at Monte Cassino that we do not do here at Plombariola. In Lent our hours of reading are “from the morning until the end of the Third Hour” (RB 48:14). This means we do not begin work after Prime, as is the custom at other times, but consecrate to sacred reading the best three hours of the morning. We are alert then, and the early morning light in the cloister is wonderfully clear and bright....

My venerable brother says that during this sacred season we are “to increase in some way the normal standard of our service, as for example, by special prayers, or by a diminution in food or drink” (RB 49:5-6). It is edifying to see Nonna Aquilina lingering in the oratory after Compline. Even Pulcheria, our littlest oblate, asked me if she might give up the sweet bread and butter given her after None each day. Nonna Marcellina asked me if she might pray the Beati immaculati (Psalm 118) daily through Lent. She knows it by heart, of course. Ah, dear Mother Flavia, joys such as these compensate abundantly for the anxieties and sorrows that an abbess so often carries within her heart.

My venerable brother says that Lenten joy is the most important thing of all. Some would make of Lent a time of gloom and lamentation. Not my brother!..."

This epistle is already too long, dear Mother Flavia, and I am obliged to write now with smaller letters in the margins of the parchment, but there is still one important thing on which my venerable brother insists. Before my first Lent as abbess, he said that “every sister should propose to me whatever she intends to offer, and it should be performed with my blessing and approval” (cf. RB 49:8-9). This was very humbling for me, I hardly felt equal to the task, but he reminded me that I should “always bear in mind what I am called, and fufill in my actions the name of One who is called greater” (RB 2:1-2). I give you the same counsel, dear sister in Christ: “Anything done without the permission of the spiritual mother will be put down to presumption and vainglory, and deserving no reward” (RB 49:9). Do then as I do, following the example of my venerable brother. “Everything must be carried out with the approval of the abbess” (RB 49:10)...

+ Scholastica, abbess"

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Brisbane action at last! And hellfires burn...

Thanks to Secular Heretic for an alert on Brisbane action.

Archbishop Battersby has written to Fr Kennedy:

  • terminating his appointment as administrator of St Mary's from February 21 (and inviting him to retire);
  • appointing a replacement acting administrator (the Dean of the Cathedral);
  • stating that he will nominate a day for baptisms to be performed to rectify the invalid baptisms;
  • stating that if he sets up elsewhere those who follow 'will not be in communion' with the Catholic Church.

The Archbishop also asks for prayers for himself and all those involved, certainly a worthy cause at this time.

Please pray also for all of those who have died (66 so far) and their families, those injured, under threat, and those who have lost homes and possessions in horrendous bushfires in Victoria. Bush fires are also burning in New South Wales.

What is a traditionalist revisited: should we give up on the word!

It has been a pretty bad few weeks for those claiming the name of traditionalist, bad enough that I'm rethinking my position on the use of this term!

And bad enough that I wanted to write something on the subject (not withstanding by attempt at a blog break!).

The attack

There have been a series of posts around the web (including several on Australian blogs) over the last several weeks - some polite, others just outright nasty, some claiming that they are just trying to be humorous - trotting out every cliche about traditionalists you could find.
A classic of the genre can be found over at The Catholic Thing. It is unsurprising I guess that the attack has ratcheted up a notch or two. Traddies are serving as something of a proxy for the Pope for those who (often being ultramontanists by inclination) don't want to attack him directly, particularly those who were happy in their catholic tradition-lite niches (a classic example of the genre being the story about the New Zealand bishop currently busily trying to find an alternative to clericals for priests) and are certainly feeling threatened by the Pope's agenda.

Now I'm all for finding a better term than 'traditionalist' - Gregorian rite catholics, movement for the restoration/rediscovery of tradition, whatever. But let's not kid ourselves. It doesn't matter what we call ourselves, 'just catholics' (neo-conservatives) of this ilk will still attack.

The Pope's agenda

What is really at stake is the Pope's agenda, in particular, his:
  • insistence that the Church didn't begin with Vatican II, and what the Council said has to be interpreted and assessed in the light of Tradition;
  • insistence that doctrinal orthodoxy on the part of pastors and teachers matters;
  • repeated focus on the importance of right practice in the Church;
  • insistence that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and approaches to interreligious and ecumenical dialogue need to reflect that;
  • acceptance of the right to question decisions of Popes and Vatican II when necessary.

A few paragraphs of a key 1988 speech the then Cardinal Ratzinger gave to bishops in Chile have been doing the rounds of blogs and it is certainly worth a careful read or reread. Take a look also at a great post on some of this by Fr Blake.

What traditionalists aren't

All the same, I do think we do need to defend ourselves, not just retreat into the ghetto, and defend ourselves not just with snark (although I'm all for that too - take a look these posts on Creative Minority Report and Orwell's Picnic after you've read the rest of this post to cheer yourself up again!).

Let's be clear about a few things:

  • Catholic traditionalism is not about political views. No surprise that many traditionalists are political conservatives (though I'm not and I know many others who aren't either). In some particular countries, history has led to some far right wing connections, and a fair few are monarchists - but that is not what traditionalism is intrinsically about, it is an incidental affiliation of some of its adherents;

  • traditionalists treasure beautiful vestments and ritual because they orient us to the good and the beautiful, they honour God whom we are worshipping, and help the priest 'put on Christ', expressing his humility, not his self-indulgence;

  • 'mainstream' (in full communion) traditionalists do not hate bishops, John Paul II or every thing about Vatican II - they do however question many of the actions, words and failures to teach of the last few decades by those of whom, by virtue of their position, more is expected;

  • traditionalists do not 'pick and choose' when it comes to dogma, rather they demand orthodoxy. And they properly weigh the words of Popes and Councils taking into account the level and type of Magisterium involved. They want to be able to understand the Church's teaching as a fuller understanding of the truth that 'has always and every where been believed', in a hermeneutic of continuity, not as some new modern invention;

  • and yes, any movement that has been marginalised and radicalised by continuing rejection will tend to become a bit battle hardened, and will attract a few nutters. Some lack of charity is an understandable (though not desirable) reaction to the kind of behaviour too frequently exhibited by bishops such as the Archbishop of Manila, who only this week has purported to ban the TLM except once a month not-on-Sunday in one location! All the same Summorum Pontificum has changed the environment, and while some of the old guard (on both sides of the fence) may never fully heal, with the help of grace and the charity of others, many will. In the meantime, as the movement continues to grow with people who didn't go through the bad years, that will make a difference.
So what is the traditionalist movement really about?

When it comes down to it, the traditionalist movement started as a protest against the destruction of the patrimony of the Church carried out in the name of the 'spirit of Vatican II', and which has had such devastating consequences to the size and vitality of the Church. Today it is supported by those who seek holiness through the traditional modes of the Church.

The central tenet that the Pope has been trying to get across is, I think, that culture cannot be separated from Catholicism: the idea that Catholicism could be stripped of all its Western traditions and replaced with the 'positive' elements from modern secular culture (of death) in the name of 'inculturation' was utterly misguided.

In the light of this, traditionalism's key planks, are, I think that:
  • the traditional Latin Mass is the crucial to maintaining catholic identity and faith. The liturgy handed down to us through the centuries fully orients us to worshipping God, not ourselves, and fully conveys the traditional beliefs of the Church in relation to both the sacrifice of the Mass and its sacramental dimension. Rubrics, Gregorian chant, beautiful vestments, great Church architecture and everything else associated with it serve to remind us of our primary duty to worship God, to orient us to heaven. By comparison the novus ordo looks at best limp;
  • doctrinal orthodoxy is not an optional extra. The failure to tackle outright dissent, let alone suspect and dangerous ideas has been disastrous, allowing heresies condemned by earlier Popes and Councils to flourish anew;
  • catholics need a sub-culture (or counter-culture) to sustain them in an environment that is increasingly antagonistic to Christianity. Ecumenical bible study groups and their ilk just don't cut it - we need traditional devotions and practices (such as fasting); we need good catechetical instruction (not the wishy washy erroneous rubbish that is typically passed off as RE in our schools); we need (faithful) monasteries; and we need priests, not priestless amalgamated parishes led by feral nuns.

If you need a fuller refresher course on traditionalism, go and reread the excellent piece by John Casey.

And in the meantime, pray for the Pope!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Kudos to Rudd - abortion aid funding bill rejected

You might recall that I mentioned that the forces of darkness were gearing up to have Australia follow Obama and lift restriction on the use of aid money for abortions. Well, good news!

The Life Site reports that the Rudd Government moved to immediately block a motion from the Greens aimed at doing this. Good to see sanity (and the need to keep Senator Fielding on side) prevail!

Benedictine Ordo for week beginning 8 February

Saturday, February 7: (St Romuald, Class III)

MD [58]

First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday, MD 153*.

After Vespers, Laus tibi... replaces the Alleluia.

Sunday, February 8: Septuagesima Sunday, Class II

Lauds and other hours see: MD 154*

Monday, February 9: Class IV (Roman EF: St Cyril of Alexandria)

Vespers: First Vespers of St Scholastica, MD [59ff]

Tuesday, February 10: St Scholastica, Class II (Class I in monasteries of nuns)

Lauds and all hours: MD [62ff]

Wednesday, February 11: Class IV (Roman EF: Our Lady of Lourdes)

Vespers: antiphon for Magnificat, MD 161*

Thursday, February 12: Class IV (Roman EF: The Seven Founders of the Servite Order)

Vespers: antiphon for Magnificat, MD 162*

(St Benedict of Aniane, Abbot OSB - doesn't make it into the 1962 Benedictine calendar, but is in Le Barroux's, and a saint who deserves to be recongized!)

Friday, February 13: Class IV

Vespers: antiphon for Magnificat, MD 162*

Saturday, February 14: St Valentine, memorial

Office of Our Lady on Saturday: MD (129)

At Lauds: concluding antiphon and prayers, MD [67]

Vespers: First Vespers of Sexagesima Sunday, MD 162*

The Season of Septuagesima

The season of Septuagesima, which starts after Nones today, has disappeared from the modern calendar, so I thought it might be worth saying a little bit about it.

Three weeks of preparation for Lent

Septuagesima basically designates the three weeks before Lent, and is basically intended to ease us from the relative laxity of the Christmas period to what, at one time at any rate, was the extremely ascetical time of Lent (although you might want to note that the Pope has called on us to take Lenten fasting seriously this year!). So a time to do the pruning and tieing up of the vines in the vineyard...It actually seems to have originated with the Eastern Church, who, because they didn't fast on Saturdays, needed additional days to make up the forty days of fasting before Easter.

At one time, according to Dom Gueranger, monks began their Lenten fast at Septuagesima, the secular clergy abstained from meat at Quinquagesima Sunday (just before Lent starts), and the laity two days later on Ash Wednesday. The Rule of St Benedict, however, doesn't actually recognise Septuagesima either for fasting purposes or in the liturgy. So perhaps it is not surprising that by the fifteenth century everyone commenced their fast on the same day, namely Ash Wednesday. The black monks did, however, adopt the practice of suspending the Alleluia in the liturgy notwithstanding the Rule's provisions on the subject.

What happens during Septuagesima?

The Golden Legend gives some good advice on this subject:

"At Septuagesima beginneth the time of deviation or going out of the way, of the whole world, which began at Adam and dured unto Moses. And in this time is read the Book of Genesis. [At Matins] The time of Septuagesima representeth the time of deviation, that is of transgression. The Sexagesima [the middle Sunday of the three weeks] signifieth the time of revocation. The Quinquagesima [last Sunday before Lent] signifieth the time of remission. The Quadragesima signifieth of penance and satisfaction....

And in the time of deviation and of exile we leave the song of gladness, that is alleluia, but the Saturday of Easter we sing one alleluia, in enjoying us and thanking God of the vesture perpetual which by hope we abide for to recover in the sixth age. And in the mass we set a tract, in figuring the labour that yet we ought to do, and in fulfilling the commandments of God.

...In this time then of exile of the Church, full of many tribulations...But alway, for as much as she fall not in despair, is purposed to her in the Gospel and Epistle three manner of remedies. The first is that if she will issue of these tribulations, that she labour in the vineyard of her soul in cutting and pulling out the vices and the sins, and after in a way of this present life, she seek the works of penance. And after that in doing spiritual battle, she defend her strongly against the temptations of the enemy."