Saturday, 30 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Please, drop the ultramontanism!

One of the less attractive movements of the nineteenth century was ultramontanism - the school of thought that thinks the Pope can do and say no wrong.

One might have thought it would have died with Vatican II's encouragement of the laity to take a more active role in the Church, and the 1983 Code of Canon Law that made speaking up a positive duty in some instances.

The silence of the blogs

But alas, ultramontanism is alive and well particularly amongst the American blogs.

The New Liturgical Movement, which previously poured over papal ceremonies with loving care, seems to have adopted a policy of studied silence when it comes to the innovations of our new pope.

And over at the Big Pulpit, a blog whose selection of posts I normally enjoy (and occasionally feature on) the list of posts on Pope Francis' Maundy Thursday foot washing ceremony in the jail is filled up largely with apologists for the event, such as Jimmy Akin and Fr Z's strained attempts to justify the event.  Yes, it does include Dr Peters' canonical critique of the example being set, but it is a very gentle critique indeed, and includes links to a rationale for dropping the restriction on washing the feet of women as well.

Now I'm certainly not advocating the level of bile in the comments box over at places like Rorate.

I don't think we should be getting upset about every minor change the Pope makes on minor things like red shoes.

Indeed, I think there is much to like about a greater focus on simplicity of living.

But the liturgy is never an unimportant thing, and I do think it is important to discuss issues of this kind.

Attempting to help people understand Pope Francis' agenda, as Fr Z does, is certainly laudable and a useful approach to the foot washing issue.

But why aren't the blogs asking some of the hard questions raised by the event?

The hard questions

Take for example the issue of washing the feet of Muslims amongst the jail population.

The Mass was in a jail: one has to suspect that a degree of pressure was applied in relation to the attendance of the inmates.  So how do those Muslims who were 'encouraged' to attend and even actively participate in a Christian ceremony actually feel about the matter?  How would we feel if it were Christians being forced to participate in a Muslim one?  And how do their parents and co-religionists feel about the matter?  Personally, I'd be a bit outraged.  In fact, it all smacks a bit of the religious imperialism that saw forced baptisms and the like in ages past.

And then there are the implications for the ongoing battle over the nature of the priesthood.  Yes Pope Francis is orthodox on this subject.  But why do orthodox priests and bishops not understand that belief has to be reinforced by practice: lex orandi, lex credendi?

Pope Francis clearly has an important agenda for the Church, and wants to move quickly to get the message across.  But he has also chosen to live in a Vatican hotel so he is not cut off from what people really think, what people are really saying.

So let's not self-censor unduly, but rather try and help him as he shapes his tactics.

Respect and obedience does not mean subservience.


Saturday and Sunday's updates show a more robust debate starting to come out on the blogs.  Big Pulpit has linked to this post, and the excellent Pewsitter has put up several links to robust posts on this subject.  Here are a couple of key links:
  • Fr Z - Pope Francis' action is promoting the EF!
  • Fr Ray Blake - elected to drop the mandatum in order to avoid the washing women's feet issue;
  • Pamela Geller - how will Muslims react?
  • and the list of those bishops who followed Church law - and those who didn't - is starting to emerge.
*****The inimitable David Timbs, desperate member of the spirit of 'V2Catholics' Club, has written on this post:  read more here.

The Benedictus for Holy Saturday

Today's antiphon for the Benedictus is: Mulieres sedentes ad monumentum lamentabantur, flentes Dominum, or 'There were women sitting over against the sepulchre weeping, and making lamentation for the Lord'.

And it is fitting, perhaps, that we leave this Lenten set of meditations with a text that points us to the importance of the role of women in the New Testament.

Catholicism has always recognised the importance of the charismatic roles accorded to women in the story of salvation: Christ came to heal us through the fiat of Mary; one apostle betrayed him, another denied him, the rest scattered and hid after his death, yet the women remained faithful at the cross and the tomb; no wonder then that in the next chapter of this story the Apostle to the Apostles who bears the news of his Resurrection is Mary Magdalene.

The Benedictus

Benedictus Dóminus, Deus Israël: * quia visitávit, et fecit redemptiónem plebis suæ :
Et eréxit cornu salútis nobis: * in domo David, púeri sui.
Sicut locútus est per os sanctórum, * qui a sæculo sunt, prophetárum ejus
Salútem ex inimícis nostris, * et de manu ómnium, qui odérunt nos.
Ad faciéndam misericórdiam cum pátribus nostris: * et memorári testaménti sui sancti.
Jusjurándum, quod jurávit ad Abraham patrem nostrum, * datúrum se nobis :
Ut sine timóre, de manu inimicórum nostrórum liberáti, * serviámus illi.
In sanctitáte, et justítia coram ipso, * ómnibus diébus nostris.
Et tu, puer, Prophéta Altíssimi vocáberis: * præíbis enim ante fáciem Dómini, paráre vias ejus
Ad dandam sciéntiam salútis plebi ejus: * in remissiónem peccatórum eórum :
Per víscera misericórdiæ Dei nostri: * in quibus visitávit nos, óriens ex alto :
Illumináre his, qui in ténebris, et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigéndos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

And the English:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he has visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And has raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament.
The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear:
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall, go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God in which the Orient from on high has visited us:
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Pope washes feet of Muslims and women: is the handwringing justified?

As many feared, Pope Francis' Maundy Thursday Mass at Roman juvenile detention facility included the foot washing of two girls, and a number of non-Catholics, including two Muslims.

Over at Sentire Cum Ecclesia David Schütz attempts to provide a rationalisation for this.

In my he fails.

It is obvious that Pope Francis is trying to emphasize the mission of the Church, and the duty of priests, and indeed all Christians to dedicate themselves to the service of others.

But to try and convey this message by breaking Church law in order to do it (yes he is the supreme legislator and could change the law.  But he hasn't - yet), and more importantly, jettisoning centuries of liturgical and theological tradition, he is surely sending the wrong signal.

Popes are protected in their teaching.

But they can fail to make the best pastoral and other judgments.

This seems to me to be such a case.

Liturgy not theatre

One of the primary facture lines between traditionalists and modernists is the liturgy: to what extent can it be changed, manufactured to suit the message of the day; to what extent is it part of the Divine Tradition handed down by the centuries and safeguarded by the Church?

Pope Benedict XVI taught that although aspects of the liturgy can be modified, parts of it cannot.  Are the rules about whose feet can and cannot be washed part of that inviolable Divine-Apostolic tradition?  Perhaps not - but it is surely part of the Apostolic-Ecclesial tradition, those traditions whose origins go back to the earliest days of the Church, and is therefore not lightly to be discarded.

The liturgy places the sacraments and sacramentals such as the foot washing into a particular theological context.  And the theological context in this case is the institution of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood.

The liturgy and traditions of Holy Week are ancient indeed, and to attempt to recast them in this way really is an assault on the idea that traditions are to be guarded not reinvented to suit ourselves.


In fact it seems to me that in many ways the most disturbing part of this gesture of the pope is not the washing of women's feet, but the participation of Muslims in the ceremony.

Washing the feet of women misses the point of the connection with the institution of the priesthood and helps undermine the male priesthood. That is, to say the least, unhelpful.

Simply ignoring the Churches longstanding restriction of the footwashing to 'viri' (men) also sends the message that Church laws are made to be broken.  That could prove counter-productive indeed. How, after all, can one demand obedience to any of the laws of the Church, liturgical or otherwise, if the Pope sets a bad example?

 But it seems to me that the inclusion of Muslims and other unbelievers in a liturgical service meant for believers, and a ritual that is meant to be about the mutual service of Christians of each other, misses the point of the ceremony altogether.

Yes the Church needs to reach out, to preach its mission to convert all to Christ and cease being so internally focused.

That doesn't mean, however, rejecting the idea that mutual service within the Christian community should have priority.

The early Church formed at Pentecost was surely the most outwardly focused of all times.  Yet the early Church described in Acts ordained deacons not to give out aid to the Jews and pagans, but rather to look after those within the Christian community.

Charity, in other words, begins at home, which is why Christ washed the feet of his disciples, not random passersby in the streets, or those at the margins that he had at variously times sought out.  There is nothing narcissistic or self-reverential about this; rather it is something Christ himself modelled for us.

So while I can see what I think Pope Francis is trying to get at in terms of problems in the contemporary Church, and agree with the underlying message, I really do think the hand wringing going on over at Rorate Caeli and elsewhere is justified in this case.

What do you think?

The Benedictus for Good Friday

Today's antiphon for the Benedictus at Lauds is 'Posuerunt super caput ejus causam ipsius scriptam: Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judaeorum', or 'They set up over his head his accusation written * Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews'.

It is a reminder perhaps that even the enemies of God can speak truth amongst all their lies; that they will often mock and ridicule us for what is in fact true.  We must hold fast.

The Benedictus

Benedictus Dóminus, Deus Israël: * quia visitávit, et fecit redemptiónem plebis suæ :
Et eréxit cornu salútis nobis: * in domo David, púeri sui.
Sicut locútus est per os sanctórum, * qui a sæculo sunt, prophetárum ejus
Salútem ex inimícis nostris, * et de manu ómnium, qui odérunt nos.
Ad faciéndam misericórdiam cum pátribus nostris: * et memorári testaménti sui sancti.
Jusjurándum, quod jurávit ad Abraham patrem nostrum, * datúrum se nobis :
Ut sine timóre, de manu inimicórum nostrórum liberáti, * serviámus illi.
In sanctitáte, et justítia coram ipso, * ómnibus diébus nostris.
Et tu, puer, Prophéta Altíssimi vocáberis: * præíbis enim ante fáciem Dómini, paráre vias ejus
Ad dandam sciéntiam salútis plebi ejus: * in remissiónem peccatórum eórum :
Per víscera misericórdiæ Dei nostri: * in quibus visitávit nos, óriens ex alto :
Illumináre his, qui in ténebris, et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigéndos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

And the English:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he has visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And has raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament.
The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear:
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall, go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God in which the Orient from on high has visited us:
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Out of the darkness: Tenebrae in Adelaide

Holy Week is one of those times when those of us so inclined who live (or are visiting) the right places can indulge in something of a liturgical binge or endure a liturgical marathon depending on your perspective or state of mind at the time.

Beauty converts

In the Novus Ordo the tendency has long been to 'simplify' the liturgy out of existence.  Apart from Easter Sunday itself, the Masses and other liturgical ceremonies of the period are not, bizarrely, days of obligation.

Yet these days offer simple yet beautiful ceremonies that can put us into a deeply meditative frame of mind if we focus not so much on the individual words, important those these are, and more on mindfulness of God.

And the sheer beauty of the liturgy over these few days is a great counter to the spiritual poverty of our times, offering riches to the poor.

On Sunday, I attended the sung Palm Sunday EF Mass in Canberra, which features one of the most splendid of the tracts of the Lenten season, as well, of course, as the singing of the Passion.Today is the start of the Triduum.  The congregation was small, but committed.

And last night I was able to get (albeit somewhat belatedly due a wrong turn in a strange city in the dark!) to the wonderful ceremony of Tenebrae.  Tenebrae in Adelaide was a lovely mix of chant and polyphony performed in the darkness, and attracted a very good crowd indeed.  It was boosted, I gather by a mention on ABC FM in the morning, but also attracted some other newcomers to the Latin Mass community.

The Adelaide community is doing Tenebrae for Holy Saturday on Friday night, with the highlight planned to be the Allegri Miserere, so well worth an attempt to get there if you live or are visiting here.

The main ceremonies of the Triduum, of course start this morning with the Chrism mass (if you live in one of the two places in Australia it is actually being done on the day!) and the Mass of the last Supper.  Optional or not, do make the most of this most holy part of the Church's calendar.  And try and bring some friends and family along with you...

The Benedictus for Maundy Thursday: The traitor gave them a sign

Through this Lent I've been looking at the psalms of Tenebrae, and for this Triduum I thought I'd finish off this theme by putting before you on these three days the three antiphons that go with the Benedictus, the final Canticle of Tenebrae on each of these days, as well as the canticle itself.

Today's antiphon is Traditor autem dedit eis signum, dicens: Quem osculatus fuero, ips est, tenete eum, or 'The traitor gave them a sign, saying: he that I shall kiss, that is he, hold him fast'.

This surely reminds us that so many traitors are from within the Church, not without.  The most obvious are those shepherds that are wolves in sheep's clothing. Yet we are all traitors when we receive the Eucharist unworthily, or fall from the path and pretend all is well.

The Benedictus

Benedictus Dóminus, Deus Israël: * quia visitávit, et fecit redemptiónem plebis suæ :
Et eréxit cornu salútis nobis: * in domo David, púeri sui.
Sicut locútus est per os sanctórum, * qui a sæculo sunt, prophetárum ejus
Salútem ex inimícis nostris, * et de manu ómnium, qui odérunt nos.
Ad faciéndam misericórdiam cum pátribus nostris: * et memorári testaménti sui sancti.
Jusjurándum, quod jurávit ad Abraham patrem nostrum, * datúrum se nobis :
Ut sine timóre, de manu inimicórum nostrórum liberáti, * serviámus illi.
In sanctitáte, et justítia coram ipso, * ómnibus diébus nostris.
Et tu, puer, Prophéta Altíssimi vocáberis: * præíbis enim ante fáciem Dómini, paráre vias ejus
Ad dandam sciéntiam salútis plebi ejus: * in remissiónem peccatórum eórum :
Per víscera misericórdiæ Dei nostri: * in quibus visitávit nos, óriens ex alto :
Illumináre his, qui in ténebris, et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigéndos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

In English:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he has visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And has raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy testament.
The oath, which he swore to Abraham our father, that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear:
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall, go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways:
To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God in which the Orient from on high has visited us:
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death: to direct our feet into the way of peace.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Tenebrae psalms/36 - Psalm 150

The last psalm of Tenebrae strikes an almost joyful note, for we wait now for the Easter Vigil to begin, with the last psalm of the psalter, Psalm 150.

Awaiting the Resurrection

Christ has preached salvation to those in hell, who surely praised him; for those in  Hades the trumpet has indeed sounded, and they await their entry to heaven.

Yet this rejoicing is kept in perspective by the antiphon that goes with it: O all you who walk by on the road, pay attention and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow (O vos omnes).  It is a reminder that suffering must come first.

And with this short psalm, I'll end up this series, hopefully just in time for you to either attend Tenebrae for Maundy Thursday, or perhaps sing or say it by yourself if that is impossible.  You can find the full text of Tenebrae in English and Latin here.  You can find the chant for it in the Liber Usualis.

May you have a happy and holy Triduum and Easter.

Psalm 150

Laudate Dominum in sanctis ejus; laudate eum in firmamento virtutis ejus.
Laudate eum in virtutibus ejus; laudate eum secundum multitudinem magnitudinis ejus.
Laudate eum in sono tubæ; laudate eum in psalterio et cithara.
Laudate eum in tympano et choro; laudate eum in chordis et organo.
Laudate eum in cymbalis benesonantibus; laudate eum in cymbalis jubilationis.  Omnis spiritus laudet Dominum

Praise the Lord in his holy places: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to the multitude of his greatness.
Praise him with the sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.
Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: Let every spirit praise the Lord.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

Here is a Victoria setting of the responsory using the same text as the antiphon.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Tenebrae psalms/35 - Canticle of Hezekiah

Today’s 'psalm' is the Song of King Hezekiah, who was told by the prophet Isaiah that he was about to die.

Scriptural context

At first he resisted the message out of pride (2 Chron 32: 24).  But then he repented, and prayed desperately to God for more time.  His prayer was granted, a miracle confirmed by the sign of the sundial winding backwards (Is 38:7-8; 2 Kings 20).  The story of Hezekiah’s miraculous restoration to health appears three times in the Old Testament, signaling its importance: as well as Isaiah 38, the story appears in 2 Kings 20 and 2 Chron 32.

In the context of the Office of Holy Saturday, Hezekiah's story functions as typology: for Christ did indeed go down to the gates of hell; yet his death is but temporary, until he rises again in glory.

Isaiah 38: 10-20

Ego dixi in dimidio dierum meorum : Vadam ad portas inferi; quæsivi residuum annorum meorum. Dixi : Non videbo Dominum Deum in terra viventium;
non aspiciam hominem ultra, et habitatorem quietis.
Generatio mea ablata est, et convoluta est a me, quasi tabernaculum pastorum.
Præcisa est velut a texente vita mea; dum adhuc ordirer, succidit me : de mane usque ad vesperam finies me.
Sperabam usque ad mane; quasi leo, sic contrivit omnia ossa mea :
de mane usque ad vesperam finies me. Sicut pullus hirundinis, sic clamabo; meditabor ut columba. Attenuati sunt oculi mei, suspicientes in excelsum.
Domine, vim patior : responde pro me. Quid dicam, aut quid respondebit mihi, cum ipse fecerit? Recogitabo tibi omnes annos meos in amaritudine animæ meæ.
Domine, si sic vivitur, et in talibus vita spiritus mei, corripies me, et vivificabis me. Ecce in pace amaritudo mea amarissima.
Tu autem eruisti animam meam ut non periret; projecisti post tergum tuum omnia peccata mea.
Quia non infernus confitebitur tibi, neque mors laudabit te : non exspectabunt qui descendunt in lacum veritatem tuam.
Vivens, vivens ipse confitebitur tibi, sicut et ego hodie; pater filiis notam faciet veritatem tuam. Domine, salvum me fac! et psalmos nostros cantabimus cunctis diebus vitæ nostræ in domo Domini.

I said: In the midst of my days I shall go to the gates of hell:
I sought for the residue of my years. I said: I shall not see the Lord God in the land of the living.
I shall behold man no more, nor the inhabitant of rest.
My generation is at an end, and it is rolled away from me, as a shepherd's tent.
My life is cut off, as by a weaver: whilst I was yet but beginning, he cut me off: from morning even to night you will make an end of me.
I hoped till morning, as a lion so has he broken all my bones:
from morning even to night you will make an end of me. I will cry like a young swallow, I will meditate like a dove:
my eyes are weakened looking upward: Lord, I suffer violence; answer for me.
What shall I say, or what shall he answer for me, whereas he himself has done it?
I will recount to you all my years in the bitterness of my soul.
O Lord, if man's life be such, and the life of my spirit be in such things as these, you shall correct me, and make me to live. Behold in peace is my bitterness most bitter:
but you have delivered my soul that it should not perish, you have cast all my sins behind your back. For hell shall not confess to you, neither shall death praise you: nor shall they that go down into the pit, look for your truth.
The living, the living, he shall give praise to you, as I do this day: the father shall make the truth known to the children.
O Lord, save me, and we will sing our psalms all the days of our life in the house of the Lord.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

Monday, 25 March 2013

Holy Week EF Mass Times

The following is a list of the EF mass times I've been sent to date for this Holy Week.

If you are aware of others, please do let me know and I'll add them.


Church of the Holy Name (St. Peter's), 80 Payneham Road, Stepney

Wednesday:  8.00 pm Tenebrae
Holy Thursday: 7.00 pm The Mass of the Last Supper
Good Friday - 11.00 am Stations of the Cross; 11.45 am Confession; 5.00 pm Commemoration of the Passion; 8.00 pm Tenebrae
The Pascal Vigil followed by First Solemn Mass of Easter Sunday: 10pm
Easter Sunday:   9.15 am; 5.00 pm


St Joseph's Church, Leopard St, Kangaroo Point.

Wednesday in Holy Week: 6.30pm
Maundy Thursday: 8:30 pm
Good Friday: 12:00 noon
Easter Vigil: 8:30 pm
Easter Sunday: 10:00 am


SS Peter and Paul, Garran

Maundy Thursday: 7pm
Good Friday: Stations, 2pm; Liturgy, 3pm
Easter Vigil: 9pm
Easter Sunday: 10.30am


St Aloysius

Wednesday: Tenebrae, 8pm
Thursday: Mass, 8pm
Good Friday: Stations, 10.30am; Liturgy, 3pm;Tenebrae, 10pm
Easter Vigil: 8pm
Easter Sunday: 8.00 am; 10.30 am; 5.00 pm St Joseph’s Tallarook 

Easter Sunday, 10.30 am


St Mary's Cathedral

Easter Sunday: Noon

Maternal Heart of Mary Chapel, Lewisham

Maundy Thursday: March 28, 7.00pm. Good Friday: March 29, 3.00pm. Holy Saturday: March 30, 8.00pm. Easter Sunday: 8.30am, 10.30am


St Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, Glenrowan
Maundy Thursday: 7pm, Good Friday March 29, Stations of the Cross 10am (location TBC); Liturgy 3pm Easter Vigil: 8pm

St Patrick's Wangaratta

Easter Sunday, 5pm

Tenebrae psalms/34 - Psalm 63

The original historical context for Psalm 63 is not clear: the title claims Davidic authorship, and the style and language seems to support this, so some modern commentators have suggested that it may refer to David’s early days at Saul’s court, when enemies plotted to bring about his downfall.

The Fathers, however, gave it an entirely Christological interpretation, as Cassiodorus explains:

“The words of this heading, as has often been remarked, are wholly related to the Lord Christ, who is to speak through the entire psalm. These words are written without historical narration; the clarity of the heading seems to waft the light of the coming psalm over us. The Lord will speak of His passion, which has afforded life to the world and has poured on us the light of belief…initially prays that He be freed from fear of the Jewish people, as He relates their deceits and impious deeds as if they have already been performed. He teaches that they have failed in their acts of persecution, whereas He has attained the glory of resurrection.”

This psalm points to the great works done this Holy Saturday night, and reminds us that we must all choose to be whether part of the 'assembly of the malignant' (verse 2), resolute in wickedness (v6) or to join the just, the upright of heart.

The Apostles preached the works of the Lord (v10) to those who had crucified Jesus, offering them the chance of redemption.  And many of those same persecutors were indeed converted, as the life of St Paul attests.

Psalm 63

Exaudi, Deus, orationem meam cum deprecor; a timore inimici eripe animam meam.
Protexisti me a conventu malignantium, a multitudine operantium iniquitatem.
Quia exacuerunt ut gladium linguas suas; intenderunt arcum rem amaram,
ut sagittent in occultis immaculatum.
Subito sagittabunt eum, et non timebunt; firmaverunt sibi sermonem nequam. Narraverunt ut absconderent laqueos; dixerunt : Quis videbit eos?
Scrutati sunt iniquitates; defecerunt scrutantes scrutinio.
Accedet homo ad cor altum, et exaltabitur Deus.
Sagittæ parvulorum factæ sunt plagæ eorum, et infirmatæ sunt contra eos linguæ eorum.
Conturbati sunt omnes qui videbant eos, et timuit omnis homo.
Et annuntiaverunt opera Dei, et facta ejus intellexerunt.
Lætabitur justus in Domino, et sperabit in eo, et laudabuntur omnes recti corde.

Hear O God, my prayer, when I make supplication to you: deliver my soul from the fear of the enemy.
You have protected me from the assembly of the malignant; from the multitude of the workers of iniquity.
For they have whetted their tongues like a sword; they have bent their bow a bitter thing, to shoot in secret the undefiled.
They will shoot at him on a sudden, and will not fear: they are resolute in wickedness. They have talked of hiding snares; they have said: Who shall see them?
They have searched after iniquities: they have failed in their search.
Man shall come to a deep heart: And God shall be exalted. The arrows of children are their wounds: And their tongues against them are made weak.
All that saw them were troubled; and every man was afraid.
And they declared the works of God, and understood his doings.
The just shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in him: and all the upright in heart shall be praised.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Latin prayer of the week: Vexilla Regis

I thought this week I would focus on a Passiontide hymn, Vexilla Regis Prodeunt.

This hymn is traditionally sung from Passion Sunday, including on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the Altar of Repose.

It was written by Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitier, and was first sung in 569 when a relic of the True Cross, sent by the Byzantine Emperor Justin II at the request of St. Radegunde, was carried to her monastery of Saint-Croix at Poitiers.

The opening verse is:

Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.


Abroad the regal banners fly,
now shines the Cross's mystery:
upon it Life did death endure,
and yet by death did life procure.


According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "Vexilla" has been interpreted symbolically to represent baptism, the Eucharist, and the other sacraments. Vexilla are the military standards of kings and princes, so the vexilla of Christ are the cross, the scourge, the lance, and the other instruments of the Passion "with which He fought against the old enemy and cast forth the prince of this world".

There are in fact a number of different versions of the hymn - it is one of those whose Latin has been 'improved' by assorted Popes and others, plus had new verses added, others dropped at various times.

As a result, the version in the Roman Breviary gives the second half of the verse as: qua vita mortem pertulit, / et morte vitam protulit.

Still here is one for you to enjoy (from Choral wiki):

Vexilla Regis prodeunt;
fulget Crucis mysterium,
[quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.]

Confixa clavis viscera
tendens manus, vestigia,
redemptionis gratia
hic immolata est hostia.

[Quo vulneratus insuper
mucrone diro lanceae,]
ut nos lavaret crimine,
manavit unda et sanguine.

Impleta sunt quae concinit
David fideli carmine,
dicendo nationibus:
regnavit a ligno Deus.

Arbor decora et fulgida,
ornata Regis purpura,
electa digno stipite
tam sancta membra tangere.

Beata, cuius brachiis
pretium pependit saeculi:
statera facta corporis,
[praedam tulitque tartari.] 3

Fundis aroma cortice,
vincis sapore nectare,
iucunda fructu fertili
plaudis triumpho nobili.

Salve, ara, salve, victima,
de passionis gloria,
qua vita mortem pertulit
et morte vitam reddidit.

O Crux ave, spes unica,
hoc Passionis tempore!
 [or: in hac triumphi gloria!]
piis adauge gratiam,
reisque dele crimina.

Te, fons salutis Trinitas,
collaudet omnis spiritus:
[quos per Crucis mysterium
salvas, fove per saecula.] 4 Amen.

The Royal Banner forward goes,
The mystic Cross refulgent glows:
Where He, in Flesh, flesh who made,
Upon the Tree of pain is laid.

Behold! The nails with anguish fierce,
His outstretched arms and vitals pierce:
Here our redemption to obtain,
The Mighty Sacrifice is slain.

Here the fell spear his wounded side
With ruthless onset opened wide:
To wash us in that cleansing flood,
Thence mingled Water flowed, and Blood.

Fulfilled is all that David told
In true prophetic song, of old:
Unto the nations, lo! saith he,
Our God hath reignèd from the Tree.

O Tree! In radiant beauty bright!
With regal purple meetly dight!
Thou chosen stem! divinely graced,
Which hath those Holy Limbs embraced!

How blest thine arms, beyond compare,
Which Earth's Eternal Ransom bare!
That Balance where His Body laid,
The spoil of vanquished Hell outweighed.


Hail wondrous Altar! Victim hail!
Thy Glorious Passion shall avail!
Where death Life's very Self endured,
Yet life by that same Death secured.

O Cross! all hail! sole hope, abide
With us now in this Passion-tide:
New grace in pious hearts implant,
And pardon to the guilty grant!

Thee, mighty Trinity! One God!
Let every living creature laud;
Whom by the Cross Thou dost deliver,
O guide and govern now and ever! Amen.

Translation from "The Psalter of Sarum": London 1852.

Saving the Church: the radical witness of religious life

Source: Vatican Communications
Yesterday, two Popes had a historic meeting.

God's plan for the Church?

In retrospect, Pope Benedict XVI laid some key foundations for the revival of the Church: putting Vatican II in its proper perspective and interpreting it correctly; the recovery of the importance of beauty as an absolute, embedded in a culture handed down to us; and a focus on effecting Church unity that went beyond nice ecumenical platitudes and gestures.

So what will Pope Francis bring to the task?

Well for one thing, perhaps a revival of religious life.

The importance of (genuine) religious life

The Vatican has just released its latest statistical yearbook, for 2011, and one of the striking statistics contained in this treasure trove relates to the continuing decline in religious life around the world.

When it comes to priests, the growth in numbers in places like Africa and Asia outweighs the declining numbers in Europe and the West.

When it comes to religious men and women though, the story is different.

The number of religious priests, lay brothers, nuns and sisters continued to decline strongly overall between 2006 and 2011, despite the growth areas.  And given the ever increasing average age of religious in countries like Australia - and the almost total absence of new vocations (there was a grand total of 15 female novices in Australia in 2011), that won't change quickly unless something drastic occurs.        

But perhaps something drastic will occur.

The most reported thing to date about our new Pope has been his practice of radical poverty.  His practice is, of course, consistent with his religious vows - but unexpected for all that given the state of most religious institutes around the world, the Jesuits (especially?) included.

His view of the importance of religious life, though, clearly goes beyond the recovery of a commitment to the poor and marginalized, and fidelity to the evangelical counsels.  Indeed, his letter to the head of his own Order just released points to the importance of the witness of religious life in and of itself:

"I received with great joy the kind letter you sent me, in your name and that of the Society of Jesus, on the occasion of my election to the See of Peter, in which you assure me of your prayers for me and my apostolic ministry as well as your full disposition to continue serving - unconditionally - the Church and the Vicar of Christ according to the teachings of St. Ignatius Loyola.My heartfelt thanks for this sign of affection and closeness, which I am happy to reciprocate, asking the Lord to illuminate and accompany all Jesuits, so that faithful to the charism received and following in the footsteps of the saints of our beloved Order, they may be evangelical leaven in the world in their pastoral action, but above all in the witness of a life totally dedicated to the service of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, seeking unceasingly the glory of God and the good of souls."

The popes, three messages for religious life

There is of course, nothing new or radical about the view that the importance of religious life is not so much in what religious do, but in their total holocaust of self, their life lived only for God without the distractions of family and secular life.

All the same, it is a message that stands in radical opposition to the views of many religious orders today!

And it provides, perhaps, a third plank to the reform plan for religious life put forward by the previous two popes.

Pope John Paul II put a lot of emphasis on the importance of the prayer of contemplative religious for the world, even establishing a contemplative monastery of women (of rotating orders) in the Vatican to pray for the work of the Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of the 'Opus Dei', the praying of the liturgy for no purpose other than the pure praise of God, particularly in the Divine Office, by religious, reflecting his teaching and conviction that the liturgy is truly the source and summit of our lives.

Pope Francis seems so far to be stressing the witness of the state of life of religious, and the radical practice of the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

I suspect the message that religious life is not meant to be just an unmarried version of lay life, but rather something radically different is a critical one in counteracting the decline of religious life in the West.

Will it be enough to spur the recovery of the importance of religious life in the Church?

Let's hope so, for as both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI pointed out on a number of occasions, religious life has been part of the structure of the Church from its very origins, and is essential to its health.

We cannot hope to revive the practice of the faith in countries like Australia through priests and an engaged laity alone, we need that ideal of radical commitment held in front of us to spur us onward.

So do pray for our Pope, and for the revival of religious life.

Pope Francis links

By the way, if you are looking for some reading on what Pope Francis' views really are, the ever excellent New Advent has some great links up on Pope Francis, including to his previous writings and his upcoming schedule.                                                                                                                                           

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pope Francis reactions/3

Today I want to complete my series on the reactions by our bishops to the election of Pope Francis.

Respect for the Pope

Before I get to reactions from the NSW bishops, I thought I'd alert you to this nice treatment of the criticisms being made of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis by progressives, secularists and traditionalists alike by Michael Voris (thanks to Fr Z for highlighting it).

I for one have been bombarded by requests that I 'defend' Pope Benedict in ways that implicitly or explicitly criticise Pope Francis.

Pope Benedict's white martyrdom, I think, started with the comments of some of the Cardinals.  He needs no defenders though, ultimately time will tell!

And yes, I'd prefer it if Pope Francis had reclaimed the tiara.  Yes, I'd prefer he wears red shoes and mozzetta. Yes, I'd prefer he says the Maundy Thursday Mass in one of Rome's great Cathedrals. And yes, I'd like him to actually use the word 'Pope' to describe himself occasionally.

These things, though small are symbolic and it is not just pharaseeism, I think, to regret their absence.

Nonetheless, they are all but small things, and honestly, there are bigger things than these to worry about!  So let's give the man some time to settle into the role, save our firepower for the big things that really matter, and pray instead.

As Mr Voris points out, attacking the Pope at this point is a pastime we should leave to the secularists and the Cardinal Mahony's of this world, who are certainly going there best to hurt the Church any way they can.

And in the meantime, let me finish off my round-up of what our bishops' initial reactions to the election were.

It is notable that, in contrast to the patchy West, Centre and Queensland, all of the NSW bishops (just as for Victoria) put out a statement on the election, and many subsequently offered Masses in thanksgiving.


The Sydney Archdiocese website continues to provide extensive coverage of the election and early acts of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Pell was, of course, one of the Cardinal-electors, yet the embrace of radical poverty advocated by our new Pope must surely be a challenging one for the resident of a permanently reserved apartment Domus Australia!

Nonetheless, as is his wont, has given a number of interviews on the outcome, including to types such as shock jock Alan Jones (why does he lend succour to such as these, who continue to undermine the case for free speech?!) .  You can find links and writeups of them here.

The Cardinal's official media statement was as follows:

"Cardinal Pell has warmly welcomed and is delighted with the new Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Cardinal Pell said: "The Catholic Church has her first non-European pope since the eighth century.

"Pope Francis is also the first pope from South America and the first pope to take the name St Francis of Assisi, an important and symbolic decision.

"He is also the first pope to be elected from the Jesuit order, which was founded by Ignatius of Loyola and which was the major force in the Counter Reformation and in restoring the faith across Europe.

"These are all happy omens which were reflected in the enthusiasm of the immense crowd of people in St Peter's Square for the announcement of the news.

"The church has a new father, a new successor of Peter.

"He is a man of wide pastoral experience who has lived through very difficult times in Argentina during periods of military rule and financial turmoil."

The Cardinal said he was excited and looks forward to the future with confidence as we have a pope of acknowledged piety and proven orthodoxy who has shown an ability to take decisions, and hard decisions.

"He will support national hierarchies in the struggle against sexual abuse, giving priority to victims and one of his first tasks will be to examine the three hundred-page report on the workings of the Vatican by the three cardinals.

"God has blessed the church and I am sure that all Australian Catholics will continue in their loyalty to the papacy and to the new pope."


The diocesan website carries news items and background on the new Pope, together with a statement from the bishop:

"Bishop Michael Kennedy, together with Catholics of the Armidale Diocese and around the world, celebrates with great joy the election of Pope Francis.

The speedy election of Pope Francis is a sign of unity within the College of Cardinals and the whole Church. This election was guided by the Holy Spirit and, with the first Pope from South America, it is a sign of the growing and young face of the Church as it reaches out to people of all the world.
Pope Francis has a sound theological experience and a compassionate heart. He has demonstrated a deep concern for people.

In keeping with the request of the Holy Father to “pray for me” Bishop Kennedy has this morning offered Mass for Pope Francis and asks for Catholics and people of good will to heed Pope Francis’ request and continue to keep him in their prayers."


Articles on the election process and Pope Francis.  The website also notes that:

Bishop Michael McKenna has given thanks for the election of Pope Francis, announced on 14th March 2013.

“We thank God for our new Pope, Francis. We ask God’s blessing and guidance on him as he begins this unique and vital service for the Church” Bishop McKenna said.

Before giving his blessing to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square and all connected with that event through radio, TV and internet, Pope Francis knelt and asked the people to pray for him. Bishop McKenna said by doing so “He reminds us that the mission of the Church is entrusted to all of us, each in his or her own way”.

In choosing the name Francis, the new Pope calls on the example and intercession of one of our greatest saints. Bishop McKenna remarked “St. Francis is popularly known for rejoicing in God’s creation and knowing he was part of it. He is also famous for his simplicity of life and solidarity with the poor. Both of these qualities come out of the fact that St. Francis took seriously the promises of Christ and lived joyfully and hopefully according to them”.

“We pray not only that Pope Francis will be blessed with such graces, but that the whole Church will be”.

Broken Bay

The  website provides news and updates.  Bishop David Walker commented:

"What an exciting outcome of the Conclave! A new pope, from a new continent, with a new name. The new Pope's personal history offers an insight into how he will lead. His background in South America indicates the sort of issues that will be important to him. The name he has chosen points to a holiness and simplicity that will characterise his leadership. It is a moment of great hope for the Church."


The diocesan website provides news and updates on the election and after.  Bishop Jarrett's statement said:

"It's often said that the unchanging God is also a God of surprises. Somehow the Church which appears on the one hand to be so predictable can also give us a great surprise. Cardinal Bergoglio certainly was not the most talked about papal candidate but now he will be known for ever as Pope Francis.

The choice of the name is both beautiful and significant. Francis of Assisi is a character universally loved and admired. He is also a model for the rebuilding and renewal of the Church, as Pope Innocent III saw in the thirteenth century: "Go, Francis, and rebuild my Church which as you can see is falling down." A later Francis was also one of the Church's greatest missionaries and a model for the Church's more energetic promotion of Jesus Christ, and His gospel of truth and conversion in the modern world.

This will be a papacy of great promise and expectation. All Catholics and people of good will will pray for the 266th Pope. He holds an office in today's fast changing world unparalleled in both longevity and influence."


'Bishop Bill' welcomes new Pope:

"...Bishop Bill Wright, the pastoral leader of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, has welcomed the announcement. He released a statement earlier in the day calling on members of the diocese to pray for Pope Francis, "pray that he is given the wisdom and strength to lead and guide our church wisely".

"In the coming days I look forward to knowing more about Pope Francis, and why God has chosen him for this ministry in the church at this present time", said Bishop Bill.

I ask Catholics of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to pray for Pope Francis; pray that he is given the wisdom and strength to lead and guide our church wisely.

Despite all the speculation about who might become the next Pope, the outcome of the conclave has once again been a surprise.

We put our trust in the work of the Holy Spirit and pray that Pope Francis will lead us well, bring us closer to God and be a great witness to Christ in the world of today."


Parramatta diocese has by far the best news service of any Australian diocese, allowing you to sign up to receive email updates typically occurring several times a day with news of local and international happenings.

Bishop Fisher OP:

"...welcomed the news of the election of Pope Francis as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church.

Habemus papam - we have a Pope! The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta cheers with the rest of humanity at the happy news,” Bishop Anthony said on Thursday 14 March.

Pope Francis, formerly Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is the first Jesuit Pope. He is also the first Pope to come from Latin America.

“He is a deeply spiritual man who is highly respected as a theologian and an intellectual. He is a humble man and a great defender of the poor. In his first words as Pope, Pope Francis spoke of building fraternity, love and trust,” Bishop Anthony said.

“In July this year, I will lead a group of 250 young people from the Diocese of Parramatta to Rio de Janeiro where we will meet Pope Francis at World Youth Day. More than two million people were already expected to participate and, with a new Pope from Latin America, I am sure many millions more will be coming.

Please offer your prayers for Pope Francis, today, in the days ahead and throughout his pontificate.”

Wagga Wagga

Bishop Hanna said:

"We welcome the news that broke at 6.00am this morning naming Pope Francis. As you will know from media releases and extensive coverage, he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Argentina.

My word to you at this moment is above all to support him in prayer.

The biographical details and his experience in governance as well as various positions he has held both nationally and internationally are well-documented.

As a Diocese, we offer our prayerful support in thanksgiving for the election of Pope Francis I and indeed in an intense way to commend him in prayer.


Bishop Ingham's statement on the website is:

"Bishop Peter Ingham today warmly welcomed the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio SJ as the new Pope.

Taking the name Francis, the new pontiff was elected on the second day of the Conclave of Cardinals.
Bishop Ingham said he joined with all Catholics in praying for the new Pope as he took on the awesome responsibility of leading the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

Bishop Ingham said, “I am very excited! The election of a new Pope is always a joyous time for the Church as was witnessed by the massive crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square braving the rain. He looked so calm and humble during what would have been a very daunting moment in his life. I liked how he asked the people to pray for him.

“Although a somewhat unexpected candidate, I am thrilled with the decision and I think it shows that the Cardinals really have listened to the Holy Spirit. Being from Latin America, the new Pope brings with him the perspective of the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Hemisphere. He also brings with him a great social conscience. He is a champion of the poor, which is clearly evident in the simple spartan lifestyle that he has lived.

“As a member of the international Jesuit order, which means the Society of Jesus, the new Pope comes from a great legacy of spiritual leadership, prayer, and a strong focus on education and social justice – being a voice for the voiceless. As Archbishop Denis Hart said, he focuses us on following Jesus closely.

“The name he has chosen is also a very important sign to us. St Francis Xavier (from whom our Wollongong Cathedral takes its name), was a great Jesuit missionary. Another great Saint in our Church is Saint Francis of Assisi; a man of poverty, humility and simplicity who gave up everything in the world to respond to Christ’s call to rebuild his Church. The Church’s nature is missionary and is always in need of reform and rebuilding.

“I see this as an opportunity for the Church to start afresh and renew its allegiance to our Lord Jesus Christ through our pledge of allegiance to our new Holy Father. Pope Francis cannot be expected to solve every problem. The challenges that face the Church at present, especially in Australia, cannot be understated. 

However, it is my hope that the election of Pope Francis will give us fresh heart and encourage us to persevere in the faith (cf Acts 14:22) and to meet the challenges ahead in a spirit of truth, justice and healing.
“Just as Jesus selected Peter from among the Apostles because of his strong faith, this new Successor of Saint Peter is a gifted man chosen under the influence of the Holy Spirit and affirmed by the Church. We pray for our new Holy Father, Francis, as he begins his journey in the footsteps of St Peter as an Apostle for peace and goodness for the whole world.”

Tenebrae psalms/33 - Psalm 91: Behold the lamb of God

The Third Nocturn of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday is entirely composed of psalms we have already looked at earlier in this series (viz Psalms 53, 75 and 87), so today we move onto the Lauds section of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday.

The first of the Lauds psalms (after Psalm 50), is Psalm 91, and it is a rather upbeat hymn that points to the coming Resurrection.

It is an obvious pick for Holy Saturday since its title suggests that in the Jewish tradition it was said on the Sabbath (ie Saturday), and indeed the Old Roman Office (ie pre-1911) retained that position for it.

In this psalm, I think we are called on to contemplate the deep mystery of God’s plan (vs 5). The fool, the psalmist states in verse 6, fails to understand: to him, St Paul points out, the Cross is a scandal.

Yet the Cross enables all of us to be reconciled to God through Christ. Indeed, the Fathers interpreted verse 10, talking about the exaltation of the horn of the unicorn, as a direct reference to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Horned animals were sacrificed to God, as Our Lord became the Lamb of God on the Cross.

Psalm 91

Bonum est confiteri Domino, et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime:
ad annuntiandum mane misericordiam tuam, et veritatem tuam per noctem,
in decachordo, psalterio; cum cantico, in cithara.
Quia delectasti me, Domine, in factura tua; et in operibus manuum tuarum exsultabo.
Quam magnificata sunt opera tua, Domine! nimis profundæ factæ sunt cogitationes tuæ.
Vir insipiens non cognoscet, et stultus non intelliget hæc.
Cum exorti fuerint peccatores sicut fœnum, et apparuerint omnes qui operantur iniquitatem,
ut intereant in sæculum sæculi: tu autem Altissimus in æternum, Domine.
Quoniam ecce inimici tui, Domine, quoniam ecce inimici tui peribunt; et dispergentur omnes qui operantur iniquitatem.
Et exaltabitur sicut unicornis cornu meum, et senectus mea in misericordia uberi.
Et despexit oculus meus inimicos meos, et in insurgentibus in me malignantibus audiet auris mea. Justus ut palma florebit; sicut cedrus Libani multiplicabitur.
Plantati in domo Domini, in atriis domus Dei nostri florebunt.
Adhuc multiplicabuntur in senecta uberi, et bene patientes erunt: ut annuntient
quoniam rectus Dominus Deus noster, et non est iniquitas in eo.

It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to your name, O most High.
To show forth your mercy in the morning, and your truth in the night:
Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery: with a canticle upon the harp.
For you have given me, O Lord, a delight in your doings: and in the works of your hands I shall rejoice. O Lord, how great are your works! your thoughts are exceeding deep.
The senseless man shall not know: nor will the fool understand these things.
When the wicked shall spring up as grass: and all the workers of iniquity shall appear: That they may perish for ever and ever:
But you, O Lord, are most high for evermore.
For behold your enemies, O lord, for behold your enemies shall perish: and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
But my horn shall be exalted like that of the unicorn: and my old age in plentiful mercy.
My eye also has looked down upon my enemies: and my ear shall hear of the downfall of the malignant that rise up against me.
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God. They shall still increase in a fruitful old age: and shall be well treated, that they may show
That the Lord our God is righteous, and there is no iniquity in him.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

Friday, 22 March 2013

Australia's new Nuncio...

Source: Canberra Times
Australia's new Nuncio, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, has hit the ground running with a series of media interviews.  He doesn't officially present his diplomatic credentials until the end of April, but he seems to be setting out to offer a more publicly engaging style than his predecessors.  That seems a welcome development.

Co-operation on child abuse Royal Commission

In yesterday's Daily Telegraph the Archbishop made it clear that the Vatican is prepared to co-operate with the Royal Commission:

"(We are) ready to respond to any legitimate request which is presented through proper diplomatic channels and respects accepted practice in accordance with the international agreements to which both the Holy See and Commonwealth of Australia are adherents," he told the Herald Sun."

That's a position in stark contrast to that taken by his predecessor here when dealing with the Irish Inquiry.

He also offered support for the processes themselves:

"In response to questions from the Herald Sun, Archbishop Gallagher backed the need for the Victorian and federal abuse inquiries, acknowledging the "pain caused and wrongs committed".

"I think the Vatican shares the view of the Australian bishops that it is necessary to make efforts to grasp the truth so that necessary action can be taken to ensure with confidence that we are doing everything possible to protect the vulnerable and prevent further abuse," he said.

About Archbishop Gallagher

In the Canberra Times today, he offers his personal reactions to the election of Pope Francis.  He also offers some background on himself:

"The archbishop, himself a simple man who values ''ordinariness'', is the product of a working class family from the same part of Liverpool that threw up the Beatles.

''I am about 10 years younger than them,'' the 58-year-old said. ''My school was near Strawberry Fields and when it rained I changed buses in Penny Lane.''

He has spent much of his working life as a diplomat in developing countries in Africa and South America, and believes Pope Francis' election as the first ''Second World Pope'' is very significant.

''I think it [his different life experience to other popes] is a positive; it is important that we see the diversity of the Catholic Church, that we see the diversity that exists within the priesthood.''

Archbishop Gallagher is the Vatican's 15th apostolic nuncio to Australia and takes over from Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, who was appointed nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine last August.

Archbishop Gallagher was previously the nuncio to Guatemala."

True power is service...Pope Francis reactions/2

I'm back online at last folks, but it will take me a little while to catch up on things, and I'm travelling interstate next week, so blogging will continue to be a bit scarce.

I thought I should, however, complete the series I started on the reactions of the Australian bishops to the election of Pope Francis (thanks to the reader who provided input for this).

Pope Francis in Holy Week

Pope Francis is certainly continuing to strike a unique path, emphasizing the Churches mission to those at the margins.

He has tweeted that 'True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.  And he has backed that message up with the announcement being that his Maundy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper will be held in a juvenile detention facility. Let's hope that they are treated to a splendidly beautiful liturgy, for surely those at the margins deserve to experience the best possible offering to God!

We look to be in for interesting times, so all the more need for diocesan websites that actually aim to keep its people up-to-date on what is happening in the wider Catholic world.  Indeed, I suspect diocesan coverage of the papal election is a pretty good indicator of its commitment to leadership and engagement with the laity.  And in the case of the election of a Pope, a pretty good test of a sense of unity as well!

It is surprising then, just how many dioceses have either completely ignored, or made only token gestures to recognise the change in leadership of our Church.

Accordingly, here is part II of my series on our bishops reactions, covering the rest of Australia except NSW.


Meanwhile back in Australia, here is what our bishops up north had to say about his election.

Brisbane: Articles and updates on the website.  Archbishop Coleridge released a statement saying:

"Like many others in the Church and beyond I was seriously surprised at the election of Pope Francis: he is the first Latin American Pope; he is the first Jesuit Pope; he is the first Pope ever to take the name Francis, and I had thought that he was perhaps too old.[!]

However, I find myself now seriously pleased with the choice the Cardinals have made. I think it is a piece of lateral thinking that is very welcome and brings a freshness to the Papacy that is also very welcome.

To see the new Pope appear on the balcony of St Peter’s in the simple white soutane and to speak as simply to the people as he did evoked the memory of Pope John XXIII. Then that he invited the crowd into a moment of silence to pray with him before he blessed them, again was very striking.

So here is a Pope renowned for his simplicity of life. We saw signs of that as he appeared on the balcony and we can only hope that that simplicity, the simplicity of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ himself, will typify the pontificate.

As we rejoice in the election of Pope Francis, we also pray that his health will hold up so that he might fulfil the mission that has been entrusted to him not just by the Cardinals but by the Lord Jesus himself.

Cairns: Nothing on website

Rockhampton: No news section on the website but a statement from Bishop Heenan:

"I am delighted with  the election of Pope Francis I, whose vision of the ministry of the Gospel seems to me to  be so refreshing.  His concern for and outreach to the  poor, reflected in the  title he  has chosen, indicates a welcomed gift  he will  bring  to  his Pontificate.

As time  unfolds  we will  all come to know  more  about  our new  Pope Francis I, but  in the meantime we must  earnestly  pray for God's  gift  of courage  and strength for him as he leads the Church.

He will  preside  over  our  Church  which  has many  wonderful strengths and  ways  of responding  to   the   message  of   the   Gospel,   as  well   as  other   weaknesses   and challenges  which  will  require much  wisdom and a resolute determination to address the issues that  weigh heavily  on the Church at this time.

I simply  say again, I believe  we  have  been  very  blessed  by  the  election of  Pope Francis I, and as we pray for the Holy Father  during his time  of settling in to the  role, we look forward to a Pontificate of new horizons."
Toowoomba: No news updates, but does offers a prayer for the new pope.

Townsville: Continuing updates on events and a video of the bishop on WIN News.  On the election, Bishop Putney commented:

“I am very excited by the choice of Bishop of Buenos Aires.” He is much loved for his simple life-style. He catches the bus to work each day with everyone else.

I guess the simple, poor Francis of Assisi is his model and hence his choice of name” he said. “I am also glad that he is from Latin America. Most Catholics live in Africa, Asia or Latin America but our focus seem always to be on affluent Western countries. For many from the rest of the world their daily issue is simple survival from poverty, war and terror. He will turn our gaze toward them.”


Melbourne: News and updates and updates, plus a statement by Archbishop Hart:

"AS Archbishop of Melbourne and President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, I joyfully welcome the glad news of the appointment of Pope Francis.  For two weeks the Catholics of the world have been without the spiritual father of their family.  We have been looking forward to this special moment when our new Holy Father, chief teacher and shepherd would be announced.

The announcement brings great joy and hope and readiness to walk with him on the way to Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio SJ born in Buenos Aires in 1936, ordained a Jesuit priest in 1969 and subsequently was novice master, teacher of literature and psychology, has been Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998 and a Cardinal since 2001.  He was Jesuit Provincial in Argentina from 1973 to 1979.  He is known for commitment to doctrine and social justice, and is a humble man of simple lifestyle.  His appointment is a sign to the Catholics of Latin America and the whole world of the invitation given to all to follow Jesus closely.  He has served as member of a number of offices in the Holy See”

In this time of rejoicing we thank God who has given us a leader and teacher to bring us to God, to care for us and unite us in the service of God and others. We offer our new Holy Father our prayers, obedience and love as he prepares to begin his ministry for us.  On behalf of all Australian Catholics I will immediately write to the Holy Father with our pledge of loyalty, prayer and support." 

Ballarat: For non-diocesan news, the diocesan website provides links to Cath News, the Vatican Information Service and the Catholic News Service.

In addition, the website has a reaction from Bishop Paul Bird, saying:

"After the short time without a pope it is a good thing to have the role filled and a new leader for the Catholic Church, Bishop Paul said.  He said he was rather surprised that the decision was made so quickly as all reports predicted it would be a long process when, in actual fact it, has been around the same length as last conclave.

Bishop Paul hasn’t yet met Pope Francis and said the closest he has been was to have a stop over at Buenos Aires.  It is something quite new to have a Pope from South America and it touches upon the international role the Pope has.  The Bishop said Pope Francis appeared very warm and gentle in his initial contact with people and that it was quite touching when he asked the crowd to pray for him in silence before he gave his blessing. He bowed while the people prayed in silence for him and after that gave his blessing.   Bishop Paul said it reflected the different roles of people in the church, the people in the square as well as the Pope.  The Pope has a special role and each one of us has our role where we are.

The Bishop also commented that this is the first Pope from the Jesuit order.  In Australia, Jesuits are best known for their work in education and the number of schools and colleges they administer.  Around the world, for many centuries, they have been a missionary order.   St Ignatius was their founder who saw the Jesuits as an order that would be willing to serve anywhere, quite particularly at the service of the pope, to go where the pope saw a special need.  The connection to the Jesuits might remind us of the missionary spirit which is a part of a pope’s role:  to encourage not only the faithful to believe in Christ but to spread the gospel of Christ to all those who haven’t heard."

Sale: Bishop Prowse has an article, and the diocesan newspaper has a lead article on the election of Pope Francis.  Unfortunately the bishop's statement is not in a format that can be readily copied into another document.  That's a shame as it provides a nice recognition of Pope Benedict XVI's legacy, as well as some commentary on what is to come.

Sandhurst: News articles and this statement by Bishop Tomlinson:

"Bishop of Sandhurst Leslie Tomlinson has welcomed with joy the election of Pope Francis in Rome this morning.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, Pope Francis, is the first Latin American and Jesuit Pontiff.
“A man who has a strong reputation of priority for social justice; a man of simple life; and, as we expect, of deep holiness, has been appointed to lead our Church,” Bishop Tomlinson said.

“Much media attention has been focussed on the challenges facing the new pope. Such an enormous job, of course, brings many challenges. But what is also evident is the worldwide interest and support for our Holy Father. We can see this in the prayers that have been offered in preparation for the conclave, and, I believe, we can see it in the result that is now presented to us in the election of Pope Francis.

“I think we can look forward with great expectation for the way in which God will extend His care for His people and His world through the Petrine ministry of Pope Francis.

“The joy that is so evident in people at this election is a true indication of the joy that comes through this answer to our prayers – the prayers of the whole Church and many people of good will – that we have a worthy successor, and we have that in Pope Francis....


Archbishop Adrian Doyle of Hobart said:

I welcome enthusiastically the announcement early this morning of the election of a new Pope. The events of the past month, following the unanticipated announcement of Pope Benedict that he intended to retire, have served to emphasise very clearly the importance of the role of the Pope, certainly within the Church, but across the whole world.

After an unexpectedly short conclave, the Cardinals have chosen the Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina to be the successor of Pope Benedict.

The choice of Francis as the name of the new Pope is, I believe, most significant. St Francis of Assisi was a truly remarkable person, committed to poverty and peace. St Francis Xavier was a missionary who travelled to Asia in the 16th Century to announce the Gospel in this important part of the world. St Francis Xavier was a Jesuit, a companion of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits.  Pope Francis has been a member of the Jesuits during his religious and priestly life.

I pray, as all of us do, that Pope Francis will have the health, guidance and strength to lead, guide and serve the Church in his high office for many years to come.

And you kind find the last part of this series here.

Easter Ceremonies: a guide to our Cathedrals...**updated

As Easter is rapidly getting closer, I've updated my guide to what is planned in our Cathedrals.

So far the cathedrals go, I'm pleasantly surprised to see some changes for the better since my initial post a week or two back.

Good too, to see some of the Liturgy of the hours, such as Solemn Vespers and even Tenebrae scheduled in some places.  Vatican II did suggest that the Divine Office should be part of the regular schedule of a church after all!

There continue to be some interesting 'innovations', on which I invite you to comment on the pros and cons.

What do you think of Chrism Masses not held in Holy Week for example?  I can see the case for holding it on a day other than Thursday in farflung dioceses, but separating it altogether from Holy Week?

Then too, there is Ballarat's Easter Vigil Mass - at 6am on Easter Sunday.  Well, it is still dark then!

So what do we have to look forward to at Easter in Australia this year?

In any case, here is a look at this year's Easter offerings, starting with the Archdioceses.

I will continue to update it to fill in the missing dioceses.  I haven't generally included Good Friday times, because the main liturgy tends to be pretty standard (ie 3pm).

And if those running or attending EF Masses would care to alert me to their schedules, I'd be happy to set up a post to publicize them, particularly for the benefit of those of us away from home base over Easter.

The Easter Vigil

Prior to 1955, the Easter Vigil usually took place around midday Saturday, and indeed traditionalists are lobbying for formal permission to be able to return to the pre-1955 ceremonial and even timings.

Without or without any actual approval, in past years I've certainly experienced a number of different versions of the 'traditional' Vigil, from full 1950 ceremonies; the radically revised 1962 version; and odd hybrids thereof.  I guess it is possible that some of those variations were duly authorized.

Still, at least they do represent versions of the liturgy that have actually been formally approved, as opposed to the oddities one encounters at Ordinary Form ceremonies at that time, with assorted hand washing ceremonies (scheduled this year for Perth on Maundy Thursdy!) and more, added in for the entertainment of the crowd.

Pope Pius XII's reforms, however, aimed, amongst other things at restoring the 'actual' timings (though it is pretty debatable what the actual timings really are given that the early timing of the 'Vigil' started pretty early), including a requirement that the Easter Vigil not start until it is actually dark.

Chrism Masses

The Chrism Mass is an important ceremony for a diocese, and I have to admit that one of my pet peeves is the many dioceses who hold the Chrism Mass on some day other than Maundy Thursday, and thus losing an important part of the symbolism of the event.

I can understand it, perhaps, in the widely dispersed dioceses.  But surely the chrism mass could at least be held during Holy Week!

And last year Sydney was the only diocese to actually hold the Chrism Mass on its proper day, viz Maundy Thursday.  This year Perth has joined the party, but alas, that seems it, so far at least!



Sydney's splendid Holy Week offerings, which include:

The Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday at 10:30am;.
Holy Saturday: 10:00am Tenebræ The Office of Readings; 7pm, Easter Vigil (Sunset is at 6.53, so it will be full dark)

And on Easter Day, a 10:30am Solemn Mass* (with Apostolic Blessing & plenary indulgence); 12 noon Low Mass (Extraordinary form); and 5:00pm Solemn Vespers and Benediction.


Perth's Chrism Mass is also scheduled for the actual day: Thursday 28th 11am.

And I'm glad to see that the 'Washing of Hands and Holy Communion' ceremony scheduled for the evening of Maundy Thursday, has been replaced by the 'Mass of the Lord's Supper, 6.30pm', with Compline at 9.30pm!

Perth Cathedral also has Tenebrae scheduled for Holy Saturday at 10am,  the Easter Vigil at 7pm.

On Sunday there is a low Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Noon, as well as Solemn Vespers in the evening.


Chrism Mass: Tuesday, 11am
Maundy Thursday Mass: 7.30pm
Tenebrae for Holy Saturday: Friday night at 7.30pm
Easter Vigil: 8pm


Chrism Mass: Monday 25 March, 6pm
Maundy Thursday: 8pm (7pm EF at Holy Name)
Saturday Vigil Mass: 7.30pm (sunset in Adelaide is at 7.15pm on that day); 10pm EF at Holy Name


The Brisbane Chrism Mass is a week early, on Thursday 21st March 2013, 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday: 7.30pm
Easter Vigil: 7pm


Chrism Mass: Monday 25 March at 7.30pm
Holy Thursday 7.30pm,
Easter vigil 7.30pm


(Date unclear from the website but perhaps Wednesday as a Vigil Mass?) Chrism Mass: 7:30 PM
Holy Thursday: 7:30 PM (Mass of the Lord’s Supper )
Holy Saturday: 7:30 PM (Solemn Vigil of Easter ) (Sunset in Hobart is at 7.05pm, so more or less dark by then)

Other dioceses


**Chrism Mass: Tuesday 26 :11am


'Mass of the Oils' Monday, March 25, 2013, 6.30pm
Holy Thursday:   7.00pm
Easter Vigil:  6.00am (**An interesting innovation!  Sunrise isn't until 7.38am so it will still be dark).


Chrism Mass: Monday 18th March 2013 in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. John in Bathurst at 5.45pm.
Maundy Thursday: 7.30pm
Easter Vigil: 7.30pm

Broken Bay

Chrism Mass – Mass of Oils: Tuesday 26 March 7.30pm
Holy Thursday: 8.00pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Holy Saturday: 10.00am Morning Prayer
Easter Vigil: 8.00pm


Not available on website


Not available on website


Chrism Mass - Not listed on website

Holy Thursday - 7pm;
Holy Saturday - Morning Prayer 9am Bishop’s House Chapel
Easter Vigil Mass 7pm (Sunset is 6.20pm, so it will be dark)
Easter Sunday - Masses 6.30am, 10am, 5pm


Chrism Mass (Mass of the Oils): This year the Chrism Mass will celebrated at Holy Spirit Parish Church, at 7.00pm. Celebrant will be  Most Rev Eugene Hurley DD, Bishop of Darwin. Priests from Parishes of the Diocese of Darwin will concelebrate.
Holy Thursday: 7pm (followed by Adoration)
Easter Vigil: 7pm


Not available on website


Chrism Mass: Not listed on website

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper at 7pm
Good Friday Celebration of the Lord's Passion 3pm
Holy Saturday Easter Vigil at 7pm. (Sunset is at 6.46pm, won't be fully dark)


Chrism Mass: Tuesday 26 March at 7.00pm.
Maundy Thursday: 7pm
Easter Vigil:7.15pm (Sunset is at 6.51pm, so just about dark)


Chrism Mass: Wednesday 27 March at 7.30pm
Holy Tuesday: Liturgy of Tenebrae (8pm) [Tenebrae usually is for Holy Thursday  - saying it on Tuesday seems a big anticipation!  Could this be an error?]
Holy Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 7.30pm
Good Friday: Sung Lauds - Morning Prayer, 9.30am
Easter Vigil, 7pm (Sunset is at 6.53pm, so won't be dark)

Port Pirie

Chrism Mass: Tuesday 19 March (timed to coincide with a week of (Diocesan assemblies)
Easter Vigil: Not available


Mass of The Oils: Wednesday 20 March 2013, 7pm
Holy Thursday 28 March 6.00pm Mass of the Last Supper, Adoration until 10pm
Easter Vigil 30 March 6.00pm Mass (Sunset is at 5.58pm)
Easter Sunday 31 March 6.30am Mass, 10.00am Mass, 6.00pm Mass


Tuesday, March 26: Mass of the Oils 11am
Wednesday, March 27: Ecumenical Tenebrae service 7.30.
Holy Thursday, March 28: Mass of the Lord's Supper 7.30pm, Watching with the Lord until 10.30pm
Easter vigil 7.30pm


Chrism Mass: March 20
Holy Thursday 9.00am Morning Prayer, 7.30pm Mass of the Lord’s Supper; Watch before the Blessed Sacrament ends at 10.00pm.
Good Friday 9.00am Morning Prayer.
Holy Saturday 10.00am Morning Prayer, 7.00pm Easter Vigil Mass


Not on website or online as far as I can find (Cathedral website is still back at Christmas time!).


Chrism Mass: March 21 (concludes a Priests’ Day of Reflection)
Holy Wednesday: Tenebrae, 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday: 7pm
Easter Vigil: 6pm (Note: Sunset is not until 6pm!)

Wagga Wagga

Not listed on website and Cathedral has no website.


Chrism Mass this year - Thursday 21 at 6 p m.  A week early, but as the bishop-administrator has to do his own Cathedral as well, fair enough!


Chrism Mass: Wednesday, 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday: 7.30pm
Easter Vigil: 7.30pm