Sunday, 31 May 2009

Melbourne Archdiocese guidelines in time of Swine Flu...

Archbishop Hart has released the following letter to parish priests:

"Dear Father,

Re: Impact of H1N1 Influenza (Human Swine Flu) on Liturgical Practices

You will be aware that the H1N1 Influenza (Human Swine Flu) is extending into our community.

My advice at this time is that currently confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza are exhibiting mild symptoms of illness, typical of the usual seasonal influenza virus. My advice is not to be alarmed but to consider the implications of swine flu in your parish and communities and to keep up to date with the latest information on the outbreak.

If parishioners are unwell they should seek medical attention for the best possible advice and avoid public places and close contact with others.

I remind priests, deacons and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene. Ministers of Holy Communion should be encouraged to wash their hands before Mass begins or to use an alcohol-based antibacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion.

During the Sign of Peace instead of shaking hands, kissing or embracing, as is practised in some parishes, it would be best to simply nod your head and avoid bodily contact.

When praying the Our Father do not hold hands, as may be practised in some parishes, but simply extend hands toward heaven or fold your hands.

Holy Communion should only be distributed under the species of the Consecrated Host and not the Chalice to limit the spread of germs during the H1N1 epidemic.

Prudence suggests that the reception of Holy Communion be on the hand but with respect for the freedom which the Holy See provides in this matter.

The manner of Christ's presence in the Eucharist is unique. The body and blood of Christ, along with His soul and divinity are truly present. (CCC n.1374) Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species. (CCC 1377)There, to receive Christ present in the host is truly to receive the body and blood of Christ.

I encourage you and your parish community to pray for all those affected by Swine Flu and to join with me in doing our part to prevent its spread. We should accept the advice of the health authorities and wash our hands often and if we are sick, sneezing or coughing we should all stay home.

Any other queries regarding H1N1 Influenza can be directed to....

The situation will be kept under review and these guidelines revoked when the situation improves.

For those who are unable to attend Mass I draw your attention to the availability of “Mass For You At Home” telecast each Sunday at 6am on Channel 10."

Feast of Pentecost

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Vigil of Pentecost

There is some wonderful music to celebrate this great feast, but I thought we might start with this hymn, sung at Vespers tonight.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Sacrifice brings belief...

For once Cath News actually links a helpful article, related to my post earlier this week on What keeps people in the pews? It is basically a scientific rationalisation for the old saying that 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church'.

Religion and Martyrs

Here is the story from New Scientist by Bob Homes:

"WHAT is the difference between Jesus Christ and Superman? The content of religions and popular tales is often similar, but only religions have martyrs, according to an analysis of behavioural evolution published this week.

When religious leaders make costly sacrifices for their beliefs, the argument goes, these acts add credibility to their professions of faith and help their beliefs to spread. If, on the other hand, no one is willing to make a significant sacrifice for a belief then observers - even young children - quickly pick up on this and withhold their own commitment.

"Nobody takes a day off to worship Superman or gives money to the Superman Foundation," points out Joseph Henrich, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

The more costly the behaviour, the more likely it is to be sincere: few would willingly give their life for an ideal they did not believe in, and devotees who take vows of poverty or chastity are clearly putting their money where their mouth is. Such credibility-enhancing displays are even more effective if performed by a high-status individual such as a priest or other leader, says Henrich.

Once people believe, they are more likely to perform similar displays themselves. Henrich created a mathematical model to test his ideas and showed that this self-reinforcing loop can stabilise a system of beliefs and actions, and help them persist through many generations (Evolution and Human Behavior, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2009.03.005).

This dynamic helps explain why so many religions involve costly renunciations. For example, Henrich notes that the persecution of early Christians by Roman authorities may have spread Christian beliefs by allowing believers to be martyred for their faith - the ultimate credibility-enhancing display.

The principle applies to other social movements too. Studies of 19th-century utopian communes such as Hutterites and Shakers show that those making the strictest demands on their followers were most likely to persist, says Henrich. "You can see the changes in action. The number of those costly commitment rituals increases over time."

Henrich's analysis fills an important hole in our understanding of the rise of religions, says Richard Sosis, an anthropologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.

The hypothesis still needs to be tested, for example with lab experiments on belief transmission, and historical studies of religions. But if Henrich is right, churches that liberalise their behavioural codes may be sabotaging themselves by reducing their followers' commitment. This may explain why strict evangelical Christian churches are expanding in the US at the expense of mainstream denominations.

"To be a member you've got to walk the walk and talk the talk," says Henrich. "And this transmits deeper faith to the children."

Muslims don't think we worship the same God....

There has been a curious, long-running case in Malaysia over the use of the term 'Allah'.

The Herald, a weekly newsletter put out by the Catholic Church there has been fighting a ban on the use of the word 'Allah' to denote God by non-Muslims, arguing that the word pre-dates Islam.

The Government on the other hand have insisted that its use be restricted to references to the Muslim God, and argues that its use by Christians would be confusing.

The ban has now been upheld, reports Al Jazeera.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Feast of St Augustine of Canterbury OSB, Apostle to England

Today's feast in the Roman calendar (it was on Tuesday in the Benedictine) is a saint all English-speakers arguably ultimately owe their faith to!

St Augustine (d 604) and forty monk companions were famously dispatched to convert England by Pope St Gregory the Great, who had become aware of the decline of Britain into paganism (it had after all been christianized in the Roman era) after seeing some Angles in the slavemarket.

St Augustine only got part way on his journey before getting cold feet, persuaded of the difficulties of operating in a land whose language he did not speak. St Gregory urged him onwards though, and the monks proved effective re-evangelizers, assisted by the fact that that the King of Kent had married a Christian princess and had allowed her freedom of worship.

The monks converted the locals by their preaching and example according to St Bede:

"…they began to emulate the life of the apostles and the primitive Church. They were constantly at prayer; they fasted and kept vigils; they preached the word of life to whomsoever they could….Before long a number of heathen, admiring the simplicity of their holy lives and the comfort of their heavenly message, believed and were baptized..."

St Augustine established schools and monasteries, and set about organising the missionary effort more broadly in England. His life was marked by miracles, and he was quickly acclaimed as a saint on his death.

St Augustine pray for us and the conversion of our land.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Pope meets the oldest Nobel Prize winner, Rita Levi Montalcini, aged 100!

There is a rather inspiring story on Zenit today that I have to share:

"Benedict XVI received in audience Monday the oldest living Nobel Prize winner.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, who turned 100 years old in April, won the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1986. She received it together with colleague Stanley Cohen for their discovery of nerve growth factor.

The Vatican press office reported the audience, but gave no details of the visit.

The scientist is a native of Turin, Italy. During World War II she accepted an invitation to study at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She remained at the university for 30 years, becoming a full professor in 1958.

In 2001, she was named a senator with life tenure in the Italian Senate.That same year she founded the Levi-Montalcini Foundation, which aims to give educational opportunities to African women. The project began in Ethiopia, and has since spread to 10 countries."

An extraordinary life

If anything the Zenit story undersells Dr Montalcini's extraordinary life.

Born to a Jewish family, she was inspired to become a doctor by the death of a friend from cancer. Her father initially opposed her going to University on the grounds that it would interfere with her duties as a wife and mother. She persisted however and graduated from medical school in Italy in 1936.

Her research career was cut short by anti-Jewish legislation under Mussolini, and so set up a home laboratory from where she laid the groundwork for much of her subsequent research. She had to flee three times during the war, living for a time underground in Florence before being hired by the allies as a doctor and nurse in a refugee camp, after she fled the advancing Nazis. In 1947 she accepted an academic position in the United States, and became a full professor in 1958, the year of the picture below.

From 1962 onwards she divided her time between Rome and the United States. She retired in 1979, and was awarded the Nobel prize for medicine in 1986 jointly with a colleague for her work on nerve growth factor.

In 2001 she was made a Senator for Life in the Italian Parliament, where she has been a lively supporter of the centre-left. According to the Wikipedia, though hard of hearing and nearly blind, she recently vowed to remain a political force in her country. On her recent birthday, she was feted with a party at Rome's City Hall.

And now, an audience with the Pope...

Feast of St Bede the Venerable OSB, Doctor of the Church

St Bede (673-735) was a child oblate - a counter perhaps to our sometimes excessively individualistic modern notions of vocation! Although it has to be said that although he clearly found his vocation, he, like some other child oblate saints, was not wholly in favour of the practice...

In any case, St Bede was the product of the lively Anglo-Saxon school fostered by the monastic tradition in England, and fed in each generation by great scholars. He wrote over 60 books, ranging through history, chronology, science, music, poetry and theology, finishing the last (a Gospel commentary) on his deathbed.

His deep piety, commitment to the monastic life and the struggle for holiness, and to passing on the knowledge that had been accumulated to his students and readers radiates from his work.

Ad multos annos!

Please remember in your prayers today Father Patrick Holmes, ordained on 27th May 1961.

He is the last Cammillian, an order devoted to health care, left in Australia and is chaplain to an aged care facility, including saying an occasional Latin Mass for them. He also often helps Father Rowe out at the Pro Cathedral.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What keeps people in the pews?

Ooooh! I've hit the big time, a link from Acatholica to my piece on Brisbane revisited.

This will no doubt to do wonders for my stats, and I suppose I should regard it as my great privilege to be labelled part of the 'neanderthal element' by Brian Coyne, who expostulates in response about how getting tough on the Fr Kennedy's of this world will just drive more people out of the pews.

What keeps people coming to Church?

So I thought I might just mention (in case they are reading) some important sociological work that Brian and friends may not be aware of. Because in fact the work of people like Rodney Stark, Dean Kelley and Lawrence Iannaconne suggests that the opposite to Mr Coyne's thesis is true. Stark basically points out that it is 'strict' churches - churches that demand something of their members in terms of belief and practice - that survive and thrive and maintain cohesion.

Go too far down the strictness path of course, and it becomes a cult, demanding too much for many to go along with.

But demand too little, and the membership assimilates to the general population and the church dies (it is called cafeteria, nominal or liberal catholicism...).

The growth and contraction of Catholicism

Stark's thesis is that Christianity grew so rapidly in its early years precisely because it was strict (have a read of Acts and you will see what I mean!). It maintained itself effectively through the centuries with its strict fasts and demanding penitential regime, nicely balanced with feasts, and insistence on the maintenance of doctrinal orthodoxy.

It is why Islam, with its strict regime of prayer and practices, clearly defined set of beliefs (albeit with splits akin to Christian 'denominations'), and insistence on the use of Arabic, is winning converts.

And it is a thesis that explains why practice has collapsed in the last few decades among catholics following the abolition of cultural identifiers like fish on Friday, and fasting through Lent. Not to mention the growth and open tolerance of dissent.

The future...

Now Stark and friends are not catholics or theologians but sociologists and economists. They don't, in the main, recognise the existence of a few vital factors like grace, the promises of Our Lord, the working of the Holy Ghost, or the attraction of the good true and beautiful in relation to the endurance of the Church. Yet as Robert Royal pointed out in his book 'The God that Did not Fail', truth does eventually prevail - else where are the Hittites now!?!

Still, their work has some important lessons for those concerned with pastoral care.

Above all, it provides some scientific support for our claim based on the virtue of hope that insistence on a more traditional view of the faith will prove more effective in the long term.

Meanwhile over in New Zealand...

Joshua of Psallite Sapienter is in New Zealand at the moment and mentioned that Fr Rizzo FSSP had been splashed all over the front pages of the papers there. Apparently he was conducting the funeral of an apparent murder-suicide (! ), and the police came in full force (literally, including guns) with a view to apprehending the son of the deceased, wanted for serious crimes including kidnapping and stabbing.

Funeral of a murder-suicide...

Here is a media report on the subject:

"A Catholic priest has condemned Christchurch police as "tactless" after they staked out a funeral and allegedly stopped a car-load of mourners at gunpoint in an effort to find the dead man's fugitive son.

Several police were at the funeral of Linwood's Tala Seleni, who was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide this month.

At the time Seleni's son, Tasi, 29, was on the run from police who wanted him on charges of kidnapping and stabbing. He did not attend the service after he got wind of the police presence.

Pauline Seleni, Tasi's mother and Tala's separated wife, said police had violated the "sanctuary" of the church and prevented her son from making his farewell to his father. Yesterday, police confirmed they had officers at the service at St Paul's Church in Dallington 10 days ago. Armed police were present but that went "hand-in-hand" with the violent nature of the charges. Seleni was eventually arrested in Rangiora on Thursday. Police had issued a public alert for him in mid-February.

Father John Rizzo, who conducted the funeral, said he got a call from the funeral home saying there would be a "discreet police presence".

Rizzo said the action was "tactless". "Obviously there was some potential trauma. They were planning to arrest him on the spot. I said, if you have any contact with the police, please, ask them, please, let him come to the funeral, let him grieve and get some closure."

Pauline Seleni said after the funeral police searching for her son had "put guns on the mourners" at the Memorial Park Cemetery on Ruru Road, Linwood, and had stopped a car of mourners at gunpoint. She said as they buried her husband police in armed offenders fatigues could be seen in the trees. "They had them in the trees there, the dogs were there, we could hear them barking. "It's disgusting. I know they were after my son but not there the church is a sanctuary, world-wide."

She claimed a deal had been struck with Samoan community elders to bring Tasi in to police the day after the funeral if he were allowed to attend.

But Detective Sergeant Scott Anderson, of the Hornby Police, said there was no such deal. "We were present at the funeral, we made no secret of that. Her son was wanted on very serious offences, he was on the run from police. We're duty bound to try and arrest him." Anderson said Seleni was arrested following a tip from the public. Last night, a police spokeswoman said a church was a public place and a person can be arrested in one."

Bizarre stuff from several perspectives, could be straight out of the movies, no?

The TLM in Christichurch

Joshua also notes that in Christchurch, traditionalists are 'spoilt for choices', with two daily Latin Masses: '7.30am Mass with the F.Ss.R. at their chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, or 8.15am Mass with the F.S.S.P. at the beautiful Bl Sacrament Cathedral...' Not bad for a predominantly Anglican city of 380,000, with 62,000 catholics in the diocese. It was nice to see that the two traditional congregations combined to celebrate the Easter Triduum.

Australian story: the Fr Kennedy saga continues

Last night we got another dose of the Fr Kennedy saga with the usual soft soap of the ABC's Australian Story. All the usual suspects appeared - gratuitous sniping from Paul Collins, weeping parishioners, and so forth. But, as the Cooees predicted, I would have thought any reasonable person watching it would have come away with more than a few questions in their mind.

I hadn't quite been aware of the scandal associated with the other priest associated with this parish, Fr Terry Fitzpatrick (beyond that he seemed to be absent from his own diocese without leave), who one gathers fathered a child. Far from repenting it seems (it was implied that his own bishop wanted to liacise him, so he had simply decamped...) , he has some weird shared custody arrangement with a week on week off basis.

And the archdiocese's spokesman, Fr Adrian Farrelly, did a good job of very gently pointing out some of the jarring notes in Fr Kennedy's approach. He alluded to Fr Kennedy's erroneous views on the divinity (or even existence) of Jesus for example. And he stressed the diocese's (extremely) minimalist requirements - use the prescribed words for the sacraments, wear vestments; hardly a big ask (indeed, might have been nice to ask for him to teach the catholic faith as well, but this is Brisbane after all).

But I have to say the thing that came through for me was that this situation had been allowed to continue for so long. The idea articulated by someone on the show that these are priests, and should be just left alone and trusted to do what they are supposed to is exactly the same thinking that has led to the clerical abuse scandals, allows hundreds of Irish and German priests to live in sin with women, and allows cafeteria catholicism to flourish.

Vocational grace only goes so far: it needs to be supported by a bishop who takes a close interest in the welfare and doings of his priests; by proper accountability; by regular professional development; by encouragement of asceticism; and much more.

Just how many more Fr Kennedy's - and worse - are there out there (**that's a rhetorical question folks, I know there are lots. The correct approach is to tell you bishop or if that doesn't work, complain to the Holy See!) ? Hiding our heads in the sand and hoping it will go away without another media stoush - whether now or later - is dangerous thinking.

Feast of St Philip Neri

St Philip Neri (1515-1595) is one of the most attractive of the great saints, charming people into conversion through his 'joyful heart' and mischievous sense of humour. As a priest, St Philip spent hours in the confessional as part of his missionary efforts in Rome. His Oratory movement is also famous of course for fostering the use of music, including cultivating great composers such as Palestrina.

I have to admit my favourite story about him though, is that often when saying mass privately he would have the server (for this was an age when the tradition and law of the Church was respected such that the mass sine populo did not mean mass sine anyone!) leave for half an hour or so when he reached the 'Domine non sum dignus', going into the heights of mystical meditation. Eventually the server would return, and he would continue the mass as normal.

St Philip pray for us, and pray for our priests.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Feast of Pope St Gregory VII OSB

Today is the feast of one of the great reformer Popes, Gregory VII, c1020-1085. A monk of the Congregation of Cluny, he is most famous for having faced down the Emperor Henry IV in the Investiture Controversy (over Church vs lay control of ecclesiastical appointments), forcing him to public penance at Canossa. Much of his life's work was devoted to the theology of Church-state relations. But he was also a vigorous reformer, promoting clerical celibacy, fighting simony, and curtailing the powers of bishops in favour of centralized government from Rome.

He died an exile in Salerno; his last words were: "Amavi iustiam et odivi iniquitatem; propterea, morior in exilio" ("I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore, I [now] die in exile."). His sarcophagus still lies in the cathedral church of Salerno, Italy, zealously guarded by the locals who have consistently resisted attempts to have his remains buried in St Peter's.

A parish pilgrimage for the Year of St Paul: Old Goulburn Cathedral

The Canberra Traditional Mass community headed to the Old Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul at Goulburn this Sunday, one of the designated pilgrimage churches for the Year of St Paul. The occasion was the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia (in the Ordinary Form, this feast is transferred to Monday because of the Solemnity of the Ascension, but in the 1962 calendar, Ascension is celebrated on its actual date).

Goulburn was the colony of New South Wales' first inland city, and is about two hours drive from Sydney, one hour from Canberra. It was the seat of the diocese of Canberra-Goulburn until 1969.

The Old Cathedral, which is currently being restored, is the only Cathedral in the world built of greenstone (diorite porphyrite). Built between 1871 and 1887, it pre-dates St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney.

The church, which also features the use of sandstone and has a dark purple slate roof, was literally built around the 1843 parish church, which was then dismantled and taken out...

The wonderful stained glass windows were imported from Europe:

The celebrant was Fr Ken Webb FSSP.

The church features a wonderful Hill and Sons organ, one of Australia's finest:

It is believed to be the first sung mass in the Extraordinary Form held there in around forty years... Palestrina's Missa Brevis with chant propers.

You can see the lovely High Altar has survived:

And the sanctuary features a lovely brass lectern:

What the National Trust describes as the 'magnificent and impressive' brass altar rails unfortunately haven't made it back into the Church as yet:

The prayers for the intentions of the Pope were said at the end of the Mass with a view to the indulgence attached to Masses at pilgrim churches for the Year of St Paul. The mass ended (of course!) with a rousing chorus of 'Help of Christians Guard this Land'.

In honour of the feastday, many members of the community took in some local colour at the Old Brewery for lunch beforehand (no Jansenism here, even if there was some Irish music!), and a brief snack before heading home at the art deco Paragon Cafe....

Thanks to Peter Thygesen for the lovely photos.


While some of us hang out for what the Pope has to say to Benedictine Abbots and Abbesses gathered at St Benedict's historic monastery of Monte Cassino (pictured below, looking up from the town below where a papal mass was held on Sunday), check out the Vatican's latest internet initiative, Pope2you....

Sunday, 24 May 2009

An Australian monk in the making - a special prayer request!

Former West Australian Peter Castieau is today (24 May US time) making his vows to enter the novitiate at Carmel in Wyoming, and on Pentecost Sunday will receive the full habit and his new name.

Please keep him in your prayers - he is on retreat until the vigil of Pentecost. And if I've interpreted the note I receive correctly, he is front row, second from the right in the picture above.

If you aren't familiar with these wonderful traditional Carmelite monks (yes, monks not friars), do go and take a look at their site. Reportedly, their 'mystic monk' brand coffee is to die for!

Swine flu: NZ update

As Swine flu is spreading fast now (though fortunately appears to be relatively mild at least so far), some bishop's conferences are issuing directives aimed at minimising the risk of spread through at Mass.

In New Zealand, the bishops' conference went so far as to purport to ban communion on the tongue. But Ecclesia Dei NZ have issed an update on what is happening over there, and so here it is.

Communion on the tongue is a right

By way of context, it is worth noting that the rubrics actually specify communion on the tongue as the norm, and in the hand by way of exception. On the face of it, bishops' conferences don't have the right to change this, so any guidelines they issue are, presumably by way of suggestions only (though I believe they do have the power to ban practices such as reception from the chalice and the sign of peace).

Secondly, it is worth noting that it is pretty clear that the most risky way of receiving is via 'the common cup'. Whether reception on the tongue is more risky than in the hand is debatable - if someone coughs on a hand, that can pretty quickly be passed to the next person, hence the ban on shaking hands at the kiss of peace. If contact with saliva is avoided (or hand wipes are used as necessary), communion on the tongue probably involves less handling. The safest of all routes if you are concerned though is making a spiritual communion!

What the New Zealand bishops said (on 30 April):

"The following actions are to cease: Communion on the tongue; Communion from the chalice; shaking hands at the Sign of Peace.The bishops emphasise that ceasing these actions is a precautionary measure only and hope that they will not have to take stronger action. An update will be issued by the bishops if stronger action is needed and advice will be given when these actions can be resumed."

What is actually happening

From EDNZ:

"Below are latest details available regarding responses to prohibition of Holy Communion (HC) on the tongue as ban affects the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass offered at known Churches in New Zealand (except for SSPX).A survey was completed of priests and churches concerned - ref. Latin Mass list elsewhere on this site.Order of list indicates areas from North to South New Zealand.

Fr. Meuli, Latin Mass Centre Titirangi, Auckland has continued normally as we believe will Fr. Anderson, Latin Mass Centre, Wellington (can’t reach him).

Fr. Mathew - Te Atatu - see NZ Cath -only HC in hand

Fr. Mullholland - Rotoroa, Hamilton, Tauranga- said he was continuing with rubrics.

Fr. Austin - Wellington - continuing with rubrics.

Fr. Rizzo - ChristChurch - said he was continuing with 1962 rubrics, (HC on tongue only) with extra precautions.

Holy Sons of the Redeemer, Christchurch, continued normally.

Fr McKone - Dunedin - said he was doing what his parishioners wanted - therefore both ways, HC on tongue and in hand."

Watch for the EDNZ site for further developments (and I'll try and keep you updated). By the way, I'm happy to add NZ priests to the prayer list....

Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia

The hymn for Vespers is Saepe dum Christi populus cruentis:

"Oftentimes, when hemm'd around by hostile arms,
The Christian people lay all sore dismayed,
Faith's eye hath traced the Virgin gliding down,
To lend her loving aid....

Virgin of virgins! Jesus' mother blest!
Add yet another mercy to the past;
And help our Pastor all his flock to lead
Safe into heaven at last..."

Praying for our priests - the list so far

As readers will be aware, I'm trying to construct a prayer list of priests associated with the TLM with ordination dates (and for bishop's date of consecration as a bishop, thanks Felix and Louise!). You can see the list for this month on the right sidebar.

I really do think that our priests need and deserve our prayers, especially on their ordination date, and it would be nice to see this as one of hopefully several gestures of appreciation for their service on the part of the TLM community for the year of the priest. And asking your priest for his ordination date is a good way of making your appreciation clear!

Seems to me also that the very length of the still-growing list is a nice rebuttal to the liberals horrified at the very prospect of priests saying the TLM. So please, keep the names and dates coming in.
Names are good as placemarkers, but please do follow up with dates if you can...


Archbishop Barry Hickey - 1 May 1984
Father Timothy Deeter - 8 May 1981
Father Patrick Holmes 27th May 1961
Father Georges Maurel - 29 June 1979
Father Martin Roestenburg O Praem - 13 April 1991
Father Michael Rowe - 21 May 1994, Perth Latin Mass chaplain
Father Jim Shelton - 30 June 2000
Father Brian Limbourne - 29th September 1989


Archbishop Phillip Wilson
Father Michael McCaffrey FSSP - 24 June 2006, Adelaide Latin Mass chaplain
Fr David Thoroughgood - 20 March 1982, hospital chaplain; former Latin Mass chaplain
Fr Mannes Tellis OP - 20 December 2008


Archbishop Mark Coleridge
Bishop Patrick Power
Fr John Fongemie FSSP - 23rd June 2001; US-based; former Latin Mass chaplain
Fr Ken Webb FSSP - 22 May 2004; Latin Mass chaplain
Bishop Aloysius Morgan (obit 21.5.08)
Msgr John Kelly (obit 5.8.07)
Fr John Parsons 3 April 1982
Fr Paul McGavin


Fr William Grogan - 22 June 1979
Fr Leo Lane - 27 July 1948
Fr Glen Tattersall - 23 June 2001, Melbourne Latin Mass chaplain
Fr John McDaniels - 29 June 2002, Melbourne Latin Mass
Fr Donald Lourensz -26 June 1987, Hoppers Crossing
Fr Christopher Dowd OP - 30 July 1988
Fr Nicholas Dillon - 7 June 2003
Fr Mark Spora
Fr Paschal Corby PFM


Fr Peter-John Nievandt - 1 July 2005
Fr Chris Reay - 19 August 1978, Parish Priest, Kerang


Fr Leo Hynes - 28 June 1975
Fr Bernard McGrath - 17 August 1984



Fr Lawrence Gresser FSSP - 4 March 2000; Lewisham chaplain
Fr Dominic Popplewell FSSP - 22 Nov 2008; Lewisham
Fr James McCarthy - 30 April 2009
Fr Andrew Benton - 30 April 2009
Father Terence Mary Naughtin OFM Conv - [7] May 1988
Fr Duncan Wong
Fr Kevin Muldoon


Bishop Kevin Manning of Parramatta - 10 July 1991
Fr Marko Rehak FSSP - 22 November 2008
Fr John O'Neill
Fr Terance Hogan
Fr William Define FSSP
Broken Bay
Fr William Alliprandi


Bp Geoffrey Jarrett - 22 February 2001


Fr Gerald Quinn CP - 21 July, 1962
Fr John Stork

Fr Martin Durham - Rockhampton
Fr Gregory Jordan SJ - Brisbane

Fr Mark Withoos, Rome
Fr Joseph Kramer FSSP, Rome

Bring back holy days of obligation!

I suggested earlier in the week that I might set up a petition on making more feasts celebrated on their actual date, and asked advice on which of the eight feasts list in the Code of Canon Law, but not already Holy Days of Obligation, we should lobby for. Four people, four opinions!

How many feast days?

The consensus so far is while we'd like all ten, it isn't likely to happen. But maybe we could word a petition to reflect that sentiment - something like ' We request the bishops to consider reinstating the Holy Days listed in Canon Law as Holy Days of Obligation, with a particular priority to...'

My feeling is that going from two to five is feasible - anything more is probably a bit overambitious! But by all means tell me if you think I'm wrong.

Pick one more...

Currently, two Holy Days of Obligation that actually fall on the appropriate date are the Assumption and Christmas. All those who commented agreed Ascension and All Saints should be restored. So you get to pick one more!

Here are the choices, with a few comments:
  • 1 January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - another Marian feast, all to the good, and there is something to be saint for Christianising secular feasts!
  • 6 January: the Epiphany - Biblical mandate for the date;
  • 19 March: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  • Thursday after Trinity Sunday: Corpus Christi - something to be said for emphasizing again the Real Presence;
  • 29 June: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles - a celebration of papal authority;
  • 8 December: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Would a poll in the sidebar be easier?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

On the importance of feasting and fasting: when Jansenism rules...

Fr Blake of St Mary Magdalen has written a brilliant post on one of the root causes of the horrors chronicled in the Irish Report, viz Jansenism. It is a heritage Australians and North Americans have unfortunately inherited, and traces of it can still be found amongst traditionalist priests and laity.

The importance of joy

So I think his piece is worth reproducing and reflecting on:

"The bleakness of the Irish institutions where abuse took place seems to reflects the theology of those who ran them. There is no Baroque exuberance, no time of festivity, just grinding tedium, where the norm is fast and penance mitigated by an occasional feast which is itself yet another penitential act. [A lack of joy in other words. One of the problems of traditionalism is the tendency to try and overcompensate for the problems of modern theology and practice. No asceticism left in the world - we'll make up for it. No sense of sin - we'll make sure ours is very well developed indeed! Sometimes we need to move beyond 'working out our salvation in fear and trembling' and focus on the good things God has given us now as signs of the world to come, practicing the virtue of hope.]

The pictures of these institutions show no sign of the Catholic sun shining, and black tea is served instead of good red wine, [I've heard sermons by traddie priests condemning the demon drink even in the form of an occasional glass with dinner!] there is indeed only Calvinist gloom. One simply can’t imagine a sense of festival that is more than an empty mouthing of the Gloria in these grim mills.

People have suggested that Jansenism lies behind the appalling accounts of dehumanisation and abuse. What type of anthropology lies behind Jansenism?

There is a heightened sense of sin, sin which cannot be overcome, but only beaten into semi-containment. There is a division of humanity into the saved and the damned, with the majority being damned. There is a tendency to see the poor, the weak as being damned, or at the very least as being beyond the influence of grace. [As far as I can see most Oz traddie communities do not do much charitable work as a community beyond assisting members of their own communities. Perhaps overcompensation again for the modern push on social justice? Perhaps lingering Jansenism?] Victims are damned, abusers are damned.

Grace is given so sparingly, by a God who is mean with both love and Grace, and man, he is made in the same niggardly image.

God is not merciful and forgiving but full of anger and rage, swift to condemn, waiting to punish. The wounds of the Son are not salvific but condemnatory, both victims and abusers are left without hope, the hell of now is but a foretaste of the hell to come. It is in this image man is created.

A low mass mentality

One has the vision of Jansenist liturgy celebrated perfunctorily in a damp chapel, poorly furnished with no joy, with no expense, with no understanding, with a mistrust of any movement of the heart. One is left with a vision of liturgy neither touching, nor being touched, by the divine. In the Usus Antiquior low Mass in every sense and in the Usus Recentior functionary anthropocentricity. [There are quite a few Australian Latin Mass communities that rarely or never see a Solemn Mass for example.]

The rhythm of the Churches Liturgy, of Feast and Fast, [see my post on this subject from last year] is supposed to give us an insight into God, it is suppose to save a fallen world. It is meant to give us to celebrate what God has made us. In the Liturgy we join with our brothers and sister, the saints, united with God himself but if our theology of Gods has gone awry then so does understanding of man and so does our worship.

The phrase “Save the Liturgy, Save the World” is not a platitude or an empty slogan, the Liturgy forms our understanding of God, of the Church, of ourselves and of our neighbour. The Liturgy has become in the last 40 years reflective of what is deep inside of us, but in the first millennium the liturgy formed those who took part in it, hence in northern Europe monastic liturgists were the great missioners."

Relax, it is Saturday...

Just to lighten up your Saturday, a couple of links you may enjoy.

On ecumenical dialogue....

For Lewis Carroll fans, here is a link to a wonderful parody of the Walrus and the Carpenter by EL Maskell on the subject of ecumenical dialogue (in this case with the Orthodox). It was originally published in Theology Today (thanks to Acatholica for pointing to it!).

A little sample:

"The Thomist and the Palamite
Were walking hand in hand.
Each did his very best to make
The other understand."
If only we could both agree,"
They said, "It would be grand."

"If sixty trained philosophers
Argued for half a year,
Do you suppose," the Thomist said,
"That they could get it clear?""
I doubt it," said the Palamite,
And shed a bitter tear..."

Do go and read!

Denying politicians communion

Now this is rather old news (by several centuries, so not just my usual slackness at work here!), but I do think you will find it fruitful to read Fr Z's spruiking of this important report by Miss Hilary White.

Now I don't always agree with all of Fr Z's comments, but I think he's pretty much on track on this one....a short extract:

"MEDIOLANUM, May 20, 390 (Ille Curator) – The Catholic bishop of Mediolanum has been accused of "political grandstanding" by some bishops and representatives of other Christian denominations, after he expelled the Western Emperor, Theodosius, from his cathedral on Friday – apparently a response to the recent alleged killing of 7,000 in Thessalonica. [Interesting turning of the tables. Usually the reportage says that Ambrose and his party are the "some", that is, the "few right-wing loudmouths" who don’t have a "nuanced" position.]"

Eunomius of Cyzicus, a leader in the Arian school of Christianity, [I don’t want to say… well.. "read: Jesuits", but…] and bishop Palladius of Ratiaria have distanced themselves from Archbishop Ambrose, saying he has engaged in an unnecessary public clash at the cathedral that was ill-befitting his position as a Church leader. [No "common ground" there. Can’t we all just get along?] Palladius said that refusing to allow the Emperor to enter except as a barefoot penitent was an "extreme and unpastoral" approach, that it had been "hasty" and was tantamount to "using the Holy Eucharist as a political weapon." [Besides, resorting to misleading characterizations based on facts is just plain mean.]

Bishop Palladius said, "If the emperor had come to my cathedral, I would have greeted him with compassion, not condemnation. I would consider it my duty to dialogue with him first before making any dramatic public confrontations.

"I feel it is our business as bishops to teach and I do not believe that the Holy Eucharist should be wielded as a political weapon."

The criticism comes after an extraordinary confrontation between Emperor Theodosius and the bishop of Mediolanum at the cathedral late last week.

Eyewitnesses reported that when the bishop saw the emperor approaching for services he physically blocked the entrance. [Welll… I am not sure about that. But this is the spin that the left is giving the story. Let’s just move on.]

The emperor has been the subject of controversy recently across the Empire since the alleged massacre, sanctioned by the emperor, of 7000 in the Greek city of Thessalonica...."

Friday, 22 May 2009

Floods - please pray

Perhaps it was the lack of Rogation Processions this year due to the vagaries of the 1962 calendar, but Northern New South Wales has been hit by devastating floods, causing the evacuation of several large towns including Grafton and Lismore. This is their third round of flooding this year...Please pray for those affected, and to avert further disaster!

Cardinal Pell on the Irish Report

Cardinal Pell has put out the following statement:

"I have only read the Executive Summary (and a few other sections) of the Irish report of the Commission into Child Abuse which deals mainly with physical cruelty, sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse in institutions for children from 1936 -1970 perpetrated by priests, brothers and nuns.

It is grim reading. Sexual and physical abuses are crimes. I was deeply moved by the brutality and cruelty suffered by the children. The only way forward is to acknowledge the wrongs that have been, to institute just procedures to process the complaints (where this has not been done), to offer help to healing and compensation. Sincere apologies have to be offered.

Please God this will be the beginning of the end of a sad and shameful period in the Catholic Church in Ireland. The Irish Church leadership is facing up to the past and they now face the difficult task of working towards the future.

The report will be examined thoroughly by us for any links to clergy or members of religious orders in Australia, and whatever needs to be done in the Sydney Archdiocese, and indeed more widely in Australia, will be done to bring justice to victims.

Ireland is not Australia. In 1996 Catholic bishops and religious orders in Australia established the Towards Healing protocol to investigate allegations of sexual abuse in the Church, and to provide support, pastoral care and justice to victims. This work continues.

The Catholic Church in Australia will continue to accept its responsibilities toward victims of sexual abuse, and I encourage anyone who may have been abused by a Catholic priest or a member of a religious order to contact the police or the Towards Healing contact line (1300 369 977)."

Masculinity and the NRL scandal

Today's Sydney Morning Herald has an article by Miranda Divine, drawn to my attention by a reader, on the NRL scandal (for my overseas readers, be prepared to be scandalized - some years ago a married football player had sex with a very young woman while away on a match, with a dozen of his mates looking on with their pants off), arguing that the whole thing is a beat up by those who want to attack the concept of masculinity.

Give me a break!

I'm all in favour of asserting proper gender roles, and recovering the idea of manliness. But I can't see how a group of rugby players indulging in group sex can possibly be upheld as an example of such an ideal!

Quite the contrary, as Annabel Crabb suggested a few days back in the same newspaper. Indeed, her comments have some resonance in the context of the clerical abuse scandal, so are worth taking a look at.

Do the perpetrators get it yet?

Commenting on the media coverage, she says:

"How intriguing it is to watch an insulated community, whose members have been behaving a certain way in private for many years, struggle with the realisation that most people view that behaviour as deplorable."

She goes on to point out the analogy in Britain with the MP expense claims scandal, but I think the insight similarly has wider resonances:

"At Westminster, the atmosphere is rife with tears and cheques, as politicians publicly repent of their avarice and deliver stricken personal apologies to the cameras.

In their eyes, you can see something similar to what we saw this week from Matthew Johns: desperate remorse, tinged with bafflement.

"But everybody was doing it," you can almost hear them wail to themselves, although of course they are too well briefed to claim that excuse in public."

Playing the emotions

She goes on:

"One group was guilty of scamming, the other of "bunning"....

But the behaviour pattern is rivetingly similar.

The psychology of groups; always a fertile area.

In a quiet way, the psychology of individuals was worth watching this week in Canberra, too.

Politics is full of carefully calibrated emotion.

There are times at which politicians publicly smother their anger and annoyance.

Think Kevin Rudd on Thursday, as he clapped on a hard hat and grinned for the cameras holding a shovel with Nathan Rees, a man on whom the Prime Minister would almost certainly prefer to use the shovel quite differently.

And there are times at which politicians amplify their anger.

Think the Ruddbot's recent press conference on people smuggling, his human speech simulator going at warp speed to come up with vocabulary of sufficient outrage.

The result was a sort of quasi-human gargle of wrath: "They represent the absolute scum of the earth … they should rot in jail and, in my own view, rot in hell …""

Manliness or homosexuality?

In an earlier piece Ms Crabb goes through what happened in the NRL case and has this to say about it:

"Let's say it out loud: it's the gayest thing ever.

And these are the same blokes who can't wait to climb into dresses for stunts on The Footy Show. Don't think we're not putting two and two together.

So come on, chaps.

If you want to get together and celebrate your oiled, toned bodies in the celebrated Greek tradition, then go ahead.

Just leave the ladies out of it, will you, and do us all a favour?"

Well actually, as Catholics we'd rather they didn't do it all. But I think she has called it for what it is, and Miranda Divine is just way offbeam.


Ms Divine's complaint is that while the initial criticism of the player concerned may have been justified, subsequent reactions, such as banning League players from visiting schools aren't. The problem is that, just as in the Church, the wider ramifications of the story haven't been adequately tackled as yet. None of the players involved except Johns have actually come forward for example.

Is there an element of media beatup about the whole thing? Of course there is. Does the attack on team sport fit in with the feminist agenda? Perhaps. Are some of the alleged victims just out to destroy the Code/Church? Sure looks like it.

But there is an underlying reality about all this stuff. The Rugby League code, like the Church, needs to get its act together and deal with the problem seriously. Or continue to take the consequences.

Installation of the new Archbishop of Westminster and the Irish scandal

Archbishop Vincent Nichols has now been formally installed as Archbishop of Westminster (photos: Fiona Hanson / PA Wire via The Catholic Herald).

In the lead-up to the ceremony, the Archbishop said and did some very promising things:
  • a blog was set up to give details of the preparations for the ceremony;
  • the preparations included commissioning music from Britain's leading catholic composer, commissioning a set of nice vestments, and a ceremony that included elements of the pre-reformation rite; and
  • he made some comments on the appalling Irish Abuse Scandal Report that seemed on the face of it, as Damian Thompson has suggested, to capture an appropriate level of anger and outrage at what had happened there.

The Irish report

I haven't read the Irish Report yet - I didn't want to spoil the feast day, and I suspect I need to be feeling strong before I do read it. Because I'll admit to having a bias against Irish culture from my limited experience of it and its Australian legacy - and it sounds from various comments I've read as my bias is going to be massively reinforced.

Still, the question really is, what is the appropriate response to it. The Irish Primate has made some pretty unsatisfactory comments so far. Archbishop Nichols responded to the report as follows:

"It's very distressing and very disturbing and my heart goes out today first of all to those people who will find that their stories are now told in public... Secondly, I think of those in religious orders and some of the clergy in Dublin who have to face these facts from their past which instinctively and quite naturally they'd rather not look at."

"That takes courage, and also we shouldn't forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did."

Asked whether those who perpetrated violence and abuse should be held to account, he said: "Yes they should, no matter how long ago it happened."

"In this country now we have a very steady and reliable system of co-operation with police and social services who actually now hold us in good regard.

"They know that we are reliable and trustworthy partners. Those that abused the trust that was placed in them should be brought to public account."

Asked whether legal and police process should take place, he said: "Yes, absolutely. If the offences are such that demand that."

All sounds pretty good to me, but apparently he has taken a drubbing from victims groups who are outraged at the suggestion that those involved could have done any good at all, and that it will take courage to face up to what they have done.

Anger and acknowledgement

One can understand their reaction - but I do think it is wrong in this instance.

Lay people, whether they were abused or not, remain rightly angry not just at the crimes themselves but much more fundamentally at the cover ups that occurred. The reason we remain angry is that very few of those who are implicated in the clergy shuffling and cover up have actually been called to public account. Yet.

The victims groups seem to want some kind of Rudd-esq, in my view completely fake, 'these people are the scum of the earth and they will burn in hell' reaction from the Church.

But Catholics actually believe in the call for repentance and forgiveness.

And Archbishop Nichols, I think, was just pointing to the reality of the challenges involved in this given the capacity for self-delusion.

Consider for example, the extremely disturbing example of Archbishop Weakland who, one gathers from various media stories, claims in his forthcoming book not to have understood that abuse was a crime - even though he wrote letters at the time rejoicing at having protected the 'reputation' of abuser priests.

The fallout from the Irish report looks like being enormous. It will affect Australia too, since apparently some of the priests involved now live here. And AB Weakland's forthcoming 'I'm a homosexual and proud of it' book will similarly do enormous damage.

There has already been one conviction for covering up abuse in Australia. The Australian Bishops Conference - and other conferences, together with the Holy See - would do well to consider getting ahead of this issue, show some transparency, and perhaps set up a task force to investigate just who else is implicated in cover ups here. This may well, however, be a classic example of the limitations of self-regulation...

Feast of the Ascension in Melbourne - and another diocesan priests says the EF!

It is nice to be able to bring you another story that shows the tide is turning, and the EF is spreading.

The celebrant at last night's Melbourne Latin Mass community mass for the Feast of the Ascension was Fr Nicholas Dillon, a New Zealand priest who is has been in Melbourne for the last year in the parish of St Gerard's in Dandenong North. Apart from being a good friend to the TLM communities in Melbourne and NZ, Fr Dillon also continues to give concerts around the world as an organist.

He served as sub-deacon at the Hearts Aflame Pontifical Mass in Christchurch earlier this year, but this was his first time as celebrant at a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

More photos can be found at the Latin Mass Melbourne website.

Please pray especially for...

Fr Ken Webb FSSP, whose anniversary of ordination it is today. Fr Webb is a Canadian, currently chaplain to the Canberra Latin mass community. His apostolate in Australia is due to end in the next few months though, so please do keep him especially in your prayers. Ad multos annos!

And on Canberrans, it is also the first anniversary of the Solemn Profession of Sr Frances Teresa a Jesu Hostia OCD (formerly Margaret McHugh), a nun of the traditional Carmel in Nebraska. Please do also remember her in your prayers.

If you could also spare a prayer for Fr Martin Durham, who celebrates the TLM for the Rockhampton community - he is currently recovering from surgery.

Coming anniversaries

Please note also that I have put all the anniversaries (that I know of) for the month up in a side bar. But I'm still missing a lot of names and dates, so please seize the moment this weekend to find out your priest's anniversary date, or add his name, if he isn't yet on THE LIST.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven?

I wanted to offer a little reflection on evangelization in honour of the feast.

Gazing up to heaven and evangelization: getting the balance right

The last message of Our Lord recorded for us in the Gospels before the Ascension is the instruction to go out and evangelize: to proclaim the Gospel, baptize, and teach men to observe the commandments.

The angel reinforces this message when, immediately after the Ascension he asks the disciples why they are still gazing up to heaven.

There is of course a time of preparation first, through prayer, leading up to the time of Pentecost. We need that prayer time too.

St Bernard of Clairvaux argued that it was the monk alone who had the privilege of continuing to gaze up to heaven, praying in support of those who go out to advance the Church's mission.

I don't entirely agree - even the most hidden monks and nuns can play an active role in mission too, as the witness provided the film on the Carthusians, Out of Great Silence, demonstrates. And all of us need to continue gazing up at heaven some of the time - in eucharistic adoration, in lectio divina, meditation and contemplation -so that we keep in mind what our final end is, and orient all our actions towards it.

But I do think we have to keep testing ourselves to make sure we have the right balance in our own lives between gazing up at heaven and evangelizing.

The imperative for evangelization

The Church's mission - and ours as part of the Church - must, I think, always be spurred on by that terrifying statement in St Mark:

"He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned."
Evangelizing ourselves has to be the first priority - every day we are subject to the assaults of the enemy in the guise of secularism, militant atheism and heresy. If we don't constantly nourish our faith, it will die, and we too will be condemned. And we can't evangelize others unless we are fervent ourselves.

At the same time, though, if we do believe fervently, how can we help but want to save others? If we have any charity for our families, friends and the wider world, evangelization is an absolute imperative!

So how do we evangelize?

I would suggest that evangelization occurs by three main routes: immersion in a catholic culture; direct experience of true, good and beautiful things; and dialectical engagement.

Immersion works by exposing us to a set of values and beliefs which we absorb without realising it, and which slowly become explicit through a process of reflection and questioning. We all evangelise others through immersion when as spouses we support each other's faith; when as parents we provide our children with a catholic environment to grow up in; as teachers in making sure our schools are truly catholic; when we invite others into our homes and expose them to a catholic environment. We evangelize ourselves through immersion when we choose to attend pilgrimages (such as the annual Christus Rex Pilgrimage in October) and/or retreats (men, consider going to one of the retreats offered by the Flavigny monks in December!).

The most obvious means open to us of evangelizing through exposure to inherently true, good and beautiful things lies in the Mass, especially solemn masses which require so much effort by many people in order to provide beautiful music, vestments and ceremonial. When our community members support each other in times of difficulty, and provide a warm welcome to newcomers. And of course when we witness by our example, particularly in charity work to the disadvantaged.

But we can't overlook the need for dialectical engagement as well. One can see miracles, I think, as one form of dialectic. We need to seek holiness and pray for them! Other signs of contradiction to the values of the world, such as priests and religious committed to celibacy and wearing distinctive garb to proclaim their commitment, and actions such as prayer vigils outside abortion clinics also seem to me to fit into this category. Apologetics too, tackling error and explaining why we believe what we believe is crucial. So is active engagement in politics and public policy.

What to do?

Now obviously no-one is expected to engage in all of these ways. We have to discern where our own duties, talents and opportunities lie through prayer.

But can anyone doubt that they are required to engage in the mission of the Church to convert the world?

So take a little time today to gaze up towards heaven, and fix our eyes afresh on the goal of our endeavours, the God who gives us life and purpose.

Then start with ourselves, considering whether we are doing enough to sustain our faith each day.

And then, let's move on outwards, and work to convert our country, each contributing what he or she can!

"Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven."

Feast of the Ascension

Pray for our priests: Fr Michael Rowe

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of the ordination of the indefatigable Fr Michael Rowe, chaplain of Perth's Latin Mass community. Apart from his leadership of the Perth community, Fr Rowe has generously given his time to the Christus Rex pilgrimage, run annual retreats both in WA and NSW, and has led many other traddie activities around Australia.

Ad multos annos!

Photo: Antony Barich

From Catholic Tradition in WA site.

Please also remember in your prayers Bishop Aloysius Morgan, former Military Ordinary and a good friend to the Canberra TLM community, who died on this day last year, RIP.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Meanwhile over at Acatholica....**updated

Just to remind us of the shape of the future - a photo from Juventutem vespers last year. Because there are times when we need that reminder....

I've been urging people to pray for our priests, and requesting names and if possible ordination dates - thanks to those who have contributed so far, do keep them coming!

Just why priests - and especially our new priests - need our prayers and support is made evident by a couple of items so nasty they are actually almost funny over at Acatholica (forum of Australian dissenters), attacking the newly ordained priests of the Sydney archdiocese, and traditionalists in general. I won't give the link - it will just expose you large doses of heresy and bile, but I thought I would share some a few of the comments so you know just why we need to pray, pray, pray!

What we are up against

Where most of us see the first mass photos on the Melbourne Latin Mass website as wonderful expressions of the priesthood and sign of the coming renaissance of the Church, Mr Coyne reacts as follows:

"The contempt these people show towards the rest of society is almost as breath-taking as that shown by terrorists who are absolutely and totally certain they are the only ones who have access to the mind of God. They are literally "building a museum" — thanks for these series of photos, guys, they say so much — and the utter contempt for the real spiritual needs of the rest of society is beyond belief."

Surprisingly, an ex-priest (I gather),'Steve' responds by defending the FSSP:

"I've known some of the FSSP priests, who have been in Australia expressly to offer the sacraments according to the 1962 books. In my experience, I've found that they are not narrow, indeed I've had some very good times, talks and laughs with them.

The ones I associated with were under no illusions that they were here to 'turn the church' to use of the 62 books. They provided for a pastoral need, for those who have an attachment to previous liturgical forms.

The FSSP priests I know are mature, well-balanced, intelligent and pastoral. They serve those who desire the ceremonies they offer. They don't claim that it is meant for all, they have plenty of work serving those who do desire such things.

I can't say anything about the current Sydney Archdiocesan seminarians and new clergy... I have had a great attachment to the 'old rite' of Mass. It was a glimpse at something out of the ordinary, and was a great comfort to me over the years. I have offered the 1962 Mass a few times as a priest, and enjoyed the experience.

I don't pretend it should be the norm, I don't think even its zealous promoters think it will become the norm again.

To each, their own."

Mr Coyne, however, remains unconvinced (mind you, he is correct up to a point in thinking that we do wish to restore orthodoxy, not just stay in a TLM ghetto, even if most of us don't expect to see the TLM totally replace a reformed version of the NO anytime soon!).

What's wrong with the TLM?

But the scariest posts are the comments about why it is all so horrible. The crimes?

1. Celebrating ad orientem (Peter R, clearly not a supporter of Pope Benedict XVI's book on the liturgy):

"Fancy a priest turning his back on Christ really present in the community. An absolute disgrace!" [It's not turning his back, its facing the same way as the congregation. Ideally facing towards the tabernacle, where Christ is more fully present...]

2. Celebrating the Latin Mass at all (Gail, passing on an email comment from someone who hasn't heard of Summorum Pontificum):

"I cannot believe it - I cannot believe it!!!!! ...he was born post vatican 11...How could he be allowed to celebrate the exception to liturgical worship as his first experience presiding! [! The priest doesn't 'preside', he celebrates or offers the mass - some recent reflections by Fr Blake of St Mary Magdalen are worth reading.] IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!! AAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH … I am becoming more and more convinced that we should not ordain anyone who has a predisposition to believing that the Second Vat Council's liturgical renewal is so insignificant that it can be dismissed as an aberration!"
Gail goes on:

'This is Cafeteria Catholicism [clearly not someone who knows what the term means!] at its worst - and a conquest by stealth [!]...'

3. It's not all about us (Tony See says):

"The pictures you linked us to reminded me of a similar series of pictures I stumbled on -- presumably from a similar group -- sourced in England. I was reminded because in both cases there were very few pictures of the congregation. I wonder why? Was it because of some sense that the congregation didn't matter?

Visually it seemed to express the view that the mass is about 'us boys' dressing up and putting on a show and the congregation are relegated to distant spectators. Related to that is the almost complete lack of ... what are they called? ... oh yeh ... women [I know it must be a shock for a novus ordo goer to actually see - men - at Mass in any number, especially young men, acting as altar servers rather than extraordinary ministers. But fear not Tony, women are there too - singing in the choir, organising flowers, polishing the brass, making vestments, participating interiorly. Most of us don't want our photos up on a website! But they are there - just look at the photo from the packed Solemn Vespers celebrated by Cardinal Pell at Juventutem/WYD last year.]"

**4. Not many people there?

Another poster takes a shot at the apparent size of the congregation based on a photo at the end - but in fact I'm told the photo is actually from after the Mass, when some people were queuing up for first blessings. In fact over 100 people attended the event.

Yup, sorry Brian and friends, we are growing in numbers, and, as acatholica commentator 'Pewster' recently noted, winning the war....

The museum of liberalism

All the same, it is disappointing to see this kind of stuff around in this day and age. Why is it that so many so-called liberals oppose legitimate diversity within the Church? Why can't they see that the liturgy they favour leads only to cultism of the Fr Kennedy mold and the destruction of faith?

If anything is being consigned to museum status, fortunately it is the trashy 1970s-esq liturgies this group favour. Still, there is a lot of work to do....

A petition on Holy Days...

Further to my previous post, I notice that in the UK, from Fr Tim's blog that someone has started a petition for the restoration of holy days to their appropriate date. It looks pretty easy to do, so I propose to set one up and see what level of interest it generates!

Before I do that though, I thought I should take a straw poll on just which holy days we should campaign for!

Currently in Australia, there are only two feasts celebrated on their actual date: Assumption and the Nativity. All the others are either assigned to the Sunday (thus covered by the Sunday mass precept) or suppressed - but I haven't been able to locate a list of which fall in which of these latter categories (if you know where to find it, let me know...!

All up, there are ten feasts specified in canon law to be celebrated as holy days of obligation unless the bishops' conference suppresses them, or transfers them to the Sunday. These are:

1 January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
6 January: the Epiphany
19 March: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Thursday of the sixth week of Easter: the Ascension
Thursday after Trinity Sunday: Corpus Christi
29 June: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
15 August: the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
1 November: All Saints
8 December: the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary 25 December: the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas).

But hardly any countries actually celebrate them all - according to the Wikipedia, Rome and one Swiss canton (take a look at this list)!

So we could:
  • suggest all of them be considered, but that may be too greedy;
  • go for a selection - my pick would be Epiphany, Ascension, All Saints (and perhaps SS Peter and Paul);
  • another selection of your choice.

Let me know what you think about the idea of the petition, and what it should ask for!

Vigil of the Ascension

There are two oddities about the Feast of the Ascension I wanted to alert you too. The first is that despite our bishops' apparent preoccupation with getting Catholics to actually open a Bible, most Australian catholics will not celebrate the Feast of the Ascension on the day suggested by Scripture. The second is that in one of those bizarre calendar clashes, Australian traddies this year arguably don't get to satisfy the Holy Day of Obligation associated with the Ascension.

Scriptural feasts

While our bishops have been preoccupied with inventing new means of encouraging us to engage with Scripture, it seems sad that the traditional ones are still being neglected. Like actually celebrating scriptural based feasts on the day specified by the Bible!

Ascension is top of the list in this regard, and even remains a public holiday in some formerly catholic countries like France. So here is my proposal: lobby your bishop to get the Bishops' Conference to return Holy Days of Obligation to the actual date of feasts as part of their scriptural promotion campaign.

And the 1962 calendar

Indeed, the shifting of the feast has a bizarre result for the 1962 calendar. It works like this - tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Ascension - but the day of obligation itself has, in the Australian calendar, been moved to the Sunday. But on the Sunday in accordance with the rubrics of the traditional calendar, we actually celebrate Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia (in the Novus Ordo, Sunday is the Ascension, with Our Lady's feast moved to Monday).

Does attending the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians on Sunday satisfy the obligation for Ascension? Hmmm, well, I guess a commemoration of the Sunday after the Ascension will be said.... And attending any mass on Saturday night to Sunday, whether or not it is 'of the Sunday', satisfies the Sunday obligation, so maybe?

In any case, all the more reason to make sure you get to Mass on the actual day of the feast, tomorrow!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The nature of evil

I have to admit I saw this video posted on a couple of blogs but hadn't actually watched it. Do! It is brilliant (and thanks Peter for the tip!)

Obama: are we just overreacting?

Predictably, President Obama's speech at Notre Dame, which included a call for us all to be nice to each other even as we fundamentally disagree on abortion, is being hailed as a great step forward, and those who protested decried as religious vigilantes. Not so predictably, L'Osservatore Romano seems to have come out on the side of President Obama!

Appeasement and its dangers

Personally, on this one, I think Fr Z has called it right:

"On Sunday we heard resound from Notre Dame well-crafted speeches well-delivered.

They were designed to shift the present controversies from the basis of reason to that of emotion and they succeeded.

The backdrop was perfect. Controversy insured high reportage. Thousands of cheering young fans, products of the education they just received, blithely drank up their obviously deserved praise. Gray-haired veteran liberals whose skills were honed by a real education and decades of progressivist trench warfare provided the spear-carriers of an more authentic ecclesiastical establishment, a Church establishment as it truly ought to be if we lived in a more just world. A few pathetic court-jesters shouted incoherently during the President’s speech. They provided the students with some entertainment and gave the Doctoratus in Chief his chance to reveal his patient benevolence by means of a prepared one liner.

Who needs The Tudors?

This was like watching Henry suborn the English Church away from the interference of Rome.

Neither President, Jenkins nor Obama, needed to say much of substance. And they didn’t. All they had to do to vindicate the inevitable rightness of their agendas was to sound reasonable...

President Obama, wise realist, offered astonishing insight. For example, you surely noted his stunning admission that the two sides in the abortion debate – wait for it – have irreconcilable differences! In the final analysis we heard various expressions of "can’t we all just get along" even as we were being told to "shut up".

A great goal has been held up for us. Gaze with wonder upon the new calf. Our new goal is dialogue. Common ground is our promised land. There we will find healing from divisions and lots more talk. Endless dialogue and then more dialogue. Our side might not be able to say very much, but that is neither here nor there. It’s the dialogue which is important.

But this dialogue must not be allowed to become mean-spirited. Forefend! We must not "demonize" – a favorite new word – anyone with their past records or the Church’s clear principles about the sanctity of human life. In an era when emotion trumps reason, facts are just plain mean.

The progressivist side knows they will not win by arguments. They win by projecting the image of deep-caring, of brow-furrowed nuance, of struggling with those hard decisions..."

Fr Z is pessimistic in the wake of the positive coverage of the event, of any action being taken to make Catholic University's behave in a catholic manner. Hard to argue. Particularly given the mixed messages coming out of Rome...

Mixed messages

Remember the Brazilian excommunications - supported by the Congregation for Bishops, but criticised in L'Osservatore Romano by Archbishop Fisichella of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Then, when most American blogs wrote up President Obama's first one hundred days in Office as a litany of pro-abortion measures (starting with allowing them to be funded using foreign aid, support for embryonic stem cell research, and moving up to legislation to remove conscience exemptions for health workers), L'Osservatore carried a relatively positive piece on the President.

A week ago, Archbishop Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura gave some fairly tough messages on the need to stand up for the defense of life in the US. But now L'Osservatore has come out in support of President Obama's Notre Dame appearance.

Now L'Osservatore Romano is not 'the Vatican' in the sense of being magisterial teaching per se. Still, it is often used to indicate the directions the Church's officialdom is heading in. So strange stuff indeed...

Wake up friends

We're engaged in a war. We always have been. But at the moment it is switching from being a cold war to a hot one. Trying to ignore it won't help.

Fr Z advocates right liturgy as our prime weapon. I'd argue that it is a necessary weapon - but not a sufficient one. Sedevacantists, schismatics and their fellow travellers after all, use the traditional mass too.

The recovery of orthodox belief and knowledge of the faith has to be one of the weapons in the war.

So too does action by catholics in the public square.

We need to be building stronger links between those on the same side - working together, not attacking each other instead of the real enemy.

And we need to pray, pray, pray!