Friday, 23 April 2010

"For England and St George!" Henry V

"Carissime: Memor esto, Dominum Iesum Christum"
Beloved: Fix thy mind on Christ II Tim 2:8

So began today's epistle reading for the feast of St George, Principal Patron of England, that great saint who so inspired England to be "great"... From Good King Richard I, the "Lion heart" who granted release to prisoners who would wear it and dedicated his crusading armies to the Cross of St George, through that other great King immortalised by Shakespeare, Henry V who cried "For England and St George" at Agincourt to those great personages honoured most highly by our monarch as members of the Royal Order of the Garter, of St George. Yet so little and yet so much is known about St George... little for certain, but much in the way of legend. Yet I believe a fair balance of the two may yet convince one, as it seems it has the majority of the Church Catholic for centuries as well as our monarchs, that "George" did indeed exist.

The oldest and most popular legend of St George is widely held by the Church of the East who claim him particularly as one of her sons. Believed to have been a soldier in the Roman Army serving the tyrannical Emperor Diocletian, it is said that George was beheaded for standing up to the Emperor against the persecution of Christians. The great ecclesial historian, St Eusebius of Caesarea, records such a soldier of fame being thus martyred writing in 322AD, a soldier of noble-birth martyred under Diocletian at Nicomedia on April 23rd 303AD though this otherwise detailed scribe does not give the name, country or place of burial of the martyr! That said, an apocryphal legend called the "Acts of St George" widely circulated from the Fifth Century by the East confers with these details, adding only the soldier's rank of "Tribune". These accounts were later translated into Anglo-Saxon adding the Saint's visits to Caerleon (outside Newport) and Glastonbury, also recounting the slaying of the dragon. A later collection of legends known as the "Golden Legend" (Legenda Aurea) by James of Voragine in 1265 includes the most famous account of "George and the Dragon" which every schoolboy used to know in England!

It has been suggested that Arculpus (an avant pilgrim of the 7/8C) and St Adamnan (of Mayo) brought the translated "Acts of St George" to these Isles and the Saint quickly caught on in the minds and hearts of the people. But it was really the Crusades that would establish St George as the patron of England. The Crusades were, in part, an outlet for an intense religious piety which rose up in the late 11th century among the lay public. The specific crusades to restore Christian control of the Holy Land were fought over a period of nearly 200 years, between 1095 and 1291. A crusader would, after pronouncing a solemn vow, receive a cross from the hands of the Papal legates, and was thenceforth considered a "soldier of the Church". King Richard I led the Third Crusade to the Holy Land in 1190 adopting the Cross of St George for his crusading knights and putting his army under the Saint's Patronage. At the Synod of Oxford in 1222, St George was declared the patron of England. Together with the ancient legends adn the "Acts of St George" and combined with the complimentary devotion of the Byzantine armies to the saint in common with the English crusaders, he became firmly established in the hearts of the English...

So, all in all, I think one can be fairly certain that St George is the Roman soldier and noblemen who was beheaded on this day in 303AD, referred to by St Eusebius.  The legend of the slaying of the dragon on the other hand may not be so reliable... 

According to The Golden Legend, there was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He distributed his reward to the poor, then left the area.  The legend does go back to the Fifth/Sixth Century and the Act of St George but may be allegorical refering to the persecution under Diocletian who was referred to as "the dragon" in ancient texts. The story may also be a Christianized version of the Greek legend of Perseus, who was said to have rescued the virgin Andromeda from a sea monster at Arsuf or Jaffa, near Lydda (Diospolis), where the cult of St George grew up around the site of his supposed tomb...

I suppose the hardest question for a boy old enough to have been schooled in "The Golden Legend" and the slaying of the dragon, is whether or not it needs to be true?!

Well of course, the slaying of the dragon doesn't have to be true, though again I like the suggestion that it is ancient and allegorical, re the tyrant Diocletion as "the dragon" and thus demonstrating the herioc nerve of our Saint George in standing up to the Emperor, even if losing his head by it.  But what then of the "Princess"?  Well, I suppose she could be the embodiment of the poor and defenceless Christians, indeed of The Church herself?  Who knows?  Who needs to know?

One thing is certain, whoever "George" was, he was an inspiration to the people who knew him from whence sprang the legends about him. Another certain thing is, that whoever "George" was, he was, has been and continues to be an inspiration for thousands upon thousands of Christians since... Why?

Of all the types of saints, bishops, doctors, confessors, virgins etc, it has to be admitted, I think, that the martyrs on the whole capture the devotion and admiration of the faithful in a unique way, often because of their bravery, their courageousness in the face of trial and adversity and their embrace of death.  It is of course, because of their desire for eternal life that these martyr saints go to their deaths "happily" or "bravely" and always the account of their martyrdom demonstrates their witness to their faith in Christ.  In far removed times such as these and in our relative safety, it is easy perhaps to forget that for many hundreds of years, The Church was herself the persecuted rather than as some think now, the persecutor.  It is also sadly not widely known that even now, in some places in the world, Christians still are and may yet be, physically persecuted and martyred for their faith.  What sums up the attitude however of all these martyr saints we heard in the first line of the epistle today, "Beloved, fix thy mind on Jesus Christ."  Indeed, if we fix all our being on Jesus Christ as they did, perhaps we too will earnestly desire and gain eternal life with Him, no matter what may befall us in this life.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Cassock... to wear or not to wear?

Another old post from "The Parish Blog" archive [March 27th 2009]. Anyone in Brighton would probably recognise me from this picture... not because I am in the picture, but because they will recognise the clerical dress that I most usually wear!
"Seminarians in Barcelona circa 1900 in Cassock, Greca & Saturno"

On March 16 this year whilst declaring a "year of the priest" that will begin on June 19 in a bid to encourage "spiritual perfection" among clerics, HH Pope Benedict XVI stressed that priests should be "present, identifiable and recognisable for their faith, their personal virtues and their attire". It has become something of a yard-stick in recent years between some clerics (and their acolytes) to measure the "traditionalism" or even "orthodoxy" of Priests by what they wear... Certainly in Anglican circles to be identified as "Anglo-Catholic" there is a certain expectancy that one would majoritively wear a Cassock. For "traditionalist" [Roman] Catholics, Priests of the SSPX and other similar congregations would hardly be expected to turn up to any public or even private event without wearing a Cassock.

As a "traditionalist" [Old] Catholic Priest, I wear my Cassock on a fairly regular basis... saying Mass, taking Funerals and other "occasional" services but I wonder then, in light of the Pope's exhortation, whether I should wear it more often?

It used to be a running joke amongst colleagues that "Father Jerome" would be easily identifiable by his Cassock! It is also sadly true that my appreciation of wearing a Cassock, most especially during Clergy meetings and retreats, has also been the subject of derision amongst other colleagues; I have been accused in the past of "parading around" and even of "clubbing" in it! The simple truth of the matter is, that I have sometimes remained in my Cassock after a service, perhaps a Funeral or Nuptial Blessing, to attend the Reception afterwards and sometimes these have been located on Licensed Premises... I certainly have never been "clubbing" in a Cassock! But on those occasions where I have remained in my Cassock to attend a Reception I have received nothing but either complimentary comments or conversations with people genuinely interested to know more about my vocation or about my ministry. Say what you may about a Cassock - but it certainly gets people talking and makes one a focus of their attention!

I remarked once in a homily how sad it was that I as a Western Catholic cleric should feel and sometimes be made to feel "uncomfortable" walking in public in a Cassock. Nowadays with the cultural diversity of our metropolitan societies, people think nothing, turn even a blind eye to seeing Buddhist Monks in their red and saffron robes, Sikhs in their turbans or muslims in their Shalwar Kameez, Hijab or even Burqa... but see a Catholic Priest walking down the street in "proper attire" and people stare - even in Brighton!

There are some, even traditionalist Catholics, who are uncomfortable or who might resist the notion of a Roman Catholic Priest wearing a Cassock in a street in the UK. This partly is a hangover from Penal Times and there is (apparently) still a Statute forbidding Roman Catholic Clergy from wearing their habit or Cassock outside of their ecclesiastical premises/buildings (try as I may, I cannot seem to track this Statute down, but believe it exists). Such people hold this opinion even in defiance of the fact that such a Statute would no longer be enforceable and yet might even hold to it with a certain recusant snobbery that "no real Catholic" would do such a thing... Perhaps this is why the Cassock is forbidden in the English College in Rome (even to visiting Priests). Rumour has it that even if serving at Papal Masses, English College students must carry their Cassocks and Roman Collars in bags than wear them to and from the Vatican. This despite admonitions by the Vicar of Rome that all seminarians past Candidacy should wear clerical attire in the Eternal City and even the regret expressed by John Paul II after visiting the English College at the lack of Cassocks and of kneeling during Mass!

One interesting example of the kind of "recusant hangover" I refer to above comes from a most unlikely quarter than one would expect for Cassock-wearing reticence. It was the custom of the Brompton Oratory priests when they took Holy Communion to the sick to wear their habit plus surplice and stole but that always (even in summer) to wear an ankle length "Greca" or overcoat over the top. The sign to any Catholics they passed in the street that they were carrying the Blessed Sacrament was that they would keep their right hand inside the coat across their chest "Napoleon" style. Then one would know not to speak to them but to genuflect as they passed! Apparently, even now, the Cong. Orat's prefer not to go out in public in their particular Cassocks and style of clerical collar but wear a simple black suit or dark clothes. This is in stark contrast to their brethren in Rome and the North American continent however.

There is also too, I am told, a "phobia" of being recognised not as a Catholic Priest but as an Anglican cleric... As I mentioned above, it is expected of Anglo-Catholic clergy to wear their Cassocks more often than a "clergyman" (code for black suit and clerical collar) and certainly an Anglo-Catholic cleric would not wear a grey (or other colour) clerical shirt as his "low church" colleagues might (although these days one often meets Roman Catholic clergy in similar attire). It always seems slightly upsurd to me that a Roman Catholic priest should not want to wear what is historically his by right to wear... for fear of being mistaken for someone who feels the necessity to wear what they perhaps are not entitled to?!

Regarding the "Statute" of course, if such a law were still in force it would probably be unenforceable as the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that "So far as it is possible to do so, primary legislation and subordinate legislation must be read and given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights" (s 3(1)); one of the Convention's rights is the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion which includes a person's right "to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance" (Article 9.1). I doubt therefore that any (stripe of) Catholic Priest has anything to fear these days by wearing his proper clerical attire in public on the streets of the UK!

There are of course, some people who claim that it is "off putting" to people for Priests and others in consecrated life to wear their habit or Cassock. Such thinking to my mind has always seemd totally absurd. How is a person to know who is a Priest or Nun or Monk if they are not wearing their "uniform"? Why should the interior life (particularly of Religious) of their vocation be cluttered up by the unnecessary burden of having to decide "what to wear"... what is "off-putting" and what is "normal" or even "approachable"? Anyway - how are people supposed to recognise them in the first place?! If a Priest is in "civy's" how is anyone to know he's a Priest and therefore approachable (unless he doesn't want to be approached of course)? All of this of course bears deeply and significantly on pastoral vocation and the necessity of Sacred Ministers to be seen to be available to serve and in what capacity they are able to serve. This is really the crux of what Benedict XVI and others are driving at...

So, "to wear or not to wear" more often my Cassock?! I think realistically the answer has to be in the affirmative and thinking about it, at least it will be a bit of PR and reactionary propoganda to that being peddled by the Secularist and Atheistic campaigners prevalent at the moment! It may also, I have no doubt, provoke people to think about their spiritual state. It was said by someone that the reason why people are put-off by seeing a clerical collar was that it reminded them of their guilt! Think about it, you see a priest and what is the first thing you think of...? At least then I might be able to remind them of the need, or even speak to them about the need, for salvation and the forgiveness offered us by God in Christ Jesus and bring some back to the fold or bring other new souls to faith in Our Lord.
True to my word, here is evidence of my wearing the saturno and cassock whilst raising money for charity [the Sussex Beacon, August 13th 2009]. Images of this event were picked up around the world by journalists, newstreams and bloggers and there was even a foolscap centre-fold photograph in the "Guardian" newspaper the next day! 
Reaction on the whole was overwhelmingly positive, the novelty factor was appreciated without too much derogation - I don't think I damaged the "street-cred" of brother clergy.  There was some negativity, mostly from uncharitable quarters with other agendas including a local ecumenical colleague who described me on his blog as being "mad as a box of frogs" [it was originally worse than that, but private correspondence sorted that out]!  Truth beknown, he was probably envious, certainly some of his parishoners thought he might be?  A lot of people have recognised me locally since - and further afield - and almost all have congratulated me, praised me for my "braveness" or "foolhardiness" and the charity were especially pleased at the thousands of pounds worth of media coverage they received - at no cost to themselves! For the parish too it provided heightened local awareness of our presence and our mission and I was invited several times to local Radio Stations to give interviews. Overall, I think it would be fair to say, the "stunt" was a success and made priests recognisable again in their proper uniform. 

It would be fair to say that the few negative experiences of my wearing cassock and saturno have been from other clergy rather than the laity and certainly not the "unchurched" who, it would seem, appreciate being able to recognise someone whose vocation is to serve them.  Wearing the cassock has if anything, demonstrated my availability and has encouraged, rather than prevented, people introducing themselves to me.  So this summer, as usual, I will stroll along our lovely promenade on Brighton seafront and welcome visitors to our city and direct them to Mass - whether mine or others appropriately - bless babies, children and pets and engage in conversations most usually instigated by strangers who recognise me as being someone they can talk to.  I encourage other clergy to consider doing the same, being visible in their communities, demonstrating their availability to serve...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

From the archive...

Addressed to the Brethren of the Oratory

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19/vi/09
Annus Sacerdotalis 2009-2010
From the Provost General, The Oratory of St John Vianney

My dear brother Oratorians

I write to you today on this great Feast of Our Lord's Divine Charity for mankind and at the start of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's "Annus Sacerdotalis" or "Year of the Priest" celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of our holy patron St John Vianney, to share with you some thoughts about our vocation as both Priests and as Brothers to Priests.

Those of you who have shared in my learning as Postulants for Ordination, will remember my instruction that the first duty of every Christian and therefore Priest, is to pray. The second is to offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church for God's people. The first rule therefore aims at our interior life, our personal spirituality; the second at the nature of our vocation and its expression both as instruments of religion and as ministers of salvation.

The Holy Father in his own letter to brother Priests around the world, reminds us too of the importance of the interior life, it is how our own spirituality is developed; if we are not men of prayer ourselves, if we do not have that interior relationship and dialogue with God, how are we to bring others to pray? His Holiness reminds us that, like our holy Father St John Vianney, we must be exemplars of Christian discipleship to those we minister to and to the whole world - we must be seen to be Priests, men of prayer, for by our witness will others be drawn to receive our ministry.

"Alter Christus"

Offering the holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church is how the Lord desires us and His people to be nourished and sustained; indeed, the Mass is the only direct and tangible way that we commune with the Divine, it is no coincidence that the Lord instructed us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" [Mtt 6:11] and when He said "...My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink..." [Jn 6:55] when He tells us that He gives us a "heavenly manna" better than that which was given to our forefathers in the desert [Jn 6:47-51]. It is how we receive eternal life [Jn 6:40-55].

As Priests we are "instruments of religion" because we are "set apart", as "alter Christus" another Christ, we stand at the Altar of Sacrifice, not in the stead of Him but He through us continues to offer that same propiatory sacrifice of His death on the Cross, that atonement for the sins of the world for all time; for we do not say "This is His body" but "This is My Body". For this reason St Paul, that holy Apostle whose memory and teaching we have reflected on this past year, says "...when you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim His death until He comes again..." [I Cor 11:26] the mystery of the Mass is that we witness that same Crucifixion, that same Sacrifice of the Divine to the Divine in atonement for our sins. For this reason we are truly Priests in the same way the sons of Levi were in the Temple [Lev16:1-34; Heb 7:11-23], we are Sacred Ministers for we celebrate and offer sacrifice to the Divine, but as Christ was the "fulfillment of the Law" [Mtt 5: 17-18; Lk 24:44] of the old religion, we are able too to sanctify, to make holy, for He through us [Heb 7:16], by the power of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles [Acts 2:4] and to us in their succession, He operates through us to His people; it is He through us who sanctifies, quickens and blesses for He is that "...great High Priest who has passed into the heavens..." [Heb 4:14] but who promised "I will be with you always, even to the end of the world..." [Mtt 28:20]

The power of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles, which we receive in Ordinaton as Priests to share in the ministry both sacramental and evangelical of the Bishop, makes us "ministers of salvation" because Our Lord wills the life of grace for His people to be effected through us. Which is to say that His Divine Will is effected by His gift of the Holy Spirit, that His promises and graces are made available to His people - through the Sacraments Our Lord remains with His Church, the Head is connected to the Body, the life blood, the waters of eternal life, flow from Him through and to us. Thus when we celebrate the Sacraments it is He through us who imparts His grace to His people; in Baptism it is He who exorcises and receives, in Confirmation it is He who imparts and seals, in Marriage it is He who binds and blesses, in Ordination it is He who sets apart and commissions, in Holy Unction it is He who comforts and heals, in Confession it is He who forgives and absolves; all these things He does through us as living icons, windows through which the Lord is able to touch His people. So it is then that we are "ministers of salvation" because all that is necessary for salvation is made tangible by Him through us, the Sacraments are the means by which the promise of salvation is made continually present and effectual to God's people, it is how they are touched by their God, how He comforts and consoles, how He nourishes and sustains, how He assures them of His presence in their lives.

"In persona Christi"

So it is then that our personal holiness, our personal sanctity is vitally important to the success of the proclamation of the Gospel; we being set apart must bear witness not just by words but by actions, by the ordinary living of our daily lives we must extol all that is necessary for salvation - submitting ourselves to the Will of God, offering ourselves to Him to be used as instruments of His will. If we, who are educated, trained in holy things, bound to pray the "Prayer of the Church", commissioned and empowered to effect and demonstrate the promises of Christ through us for His people, if we are ourselves not holy, then we endanger not just our own salvation but that of all those souls committed to our care and many others who by virtue of our office, see us as representatives of the whole body of the Church. This too the Holy Father touches upon in his letter, we perhaps more than most, are like unto "...ambassadors for Christ..." [II Cor 5:20] for we are seen publicly to represent His Church. For this then we have His yoke upon our shoulders, we embody His wounds - the scourges and insults, the mocking and scorn - we share in His burden. Just as all Christians in bearing His name must expect insult and injury - how much more then must we who are identifiable and set apart publicly and purposefully? It is for this reason that our brotherhood exists, it is for this very reason that the Oratory exists...

"The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ." St. John Vianney

The Oratory of St John Vianney was originally called the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the earliest days of it's conception. We adopted and changed our title to express the charism of the Curé D'Ars because of his saintly teaching regarding the "heart of Jesus" and the Priest. Our holy Father the Curé means by his words that the love of Christ is made manifest in the Priesthood because of all that Our Lord does through His Priests - the Sacraments that give salvific life to His Church, to His people. Recognising this, our saintly patron remembers too the limitations of our human condition, an understanding he had of himself as well as others. The Oratory is a brotherhood for Priests where we can encourage and console one another by sharing the great burden and joy which we share in our Office and in our condition. Fraternal charity - itself an expression of the Divine Charity - that Our Lord wills His people live-in together, is that which binds the brotherhood together. We are a brotherhood because by our common vocation and heritage we are like the sons of Levi, a tribe set apart within the people of God for the people of God; like that ancient title of the Patriarch of the West, "servum servorum Dei" we are the servants of the servants of God.

We also too, being uniquely bound to His most Sacred Heart by virtue of our Office must also too share in His pain as well as His love; for His Body which may be seen as one yet suffers fractures and we must share in His prayer "ut unum sint" ("...that they may be one..." [Jn 17:6-19]). For this reason then our brotherhood is an Oratory - for we share in the first duty of our Priesthood together, to pray, and we share in that prayer of Our Lord for His Church, for that unity which yet evades us. For this reason our fraternity has always been about prayer and the pursuit for unity, by virtue of the love of Christ manifest in our vocation and as an expression of that closeness we have to that Divine Heart by virtue of our Ordination. So too His people must be our concern also, for we are Ordained for Him to love them and thus what hurts Him so hurts us, and what hurts them too, must hurt us; for His love and concern are always for them, and so it should be for us. In this way our fraternity seeks to emulate the examples of our holy patrons, St John Vianney who so loved His people that he worked tirelessly day and night for their salvation and St Phillip Neri whose heart, so touched one Pentecost, could do no other than love His brothers and love His people; His brothers, His people. For so we Sacred Ministers are Our Lord's brothers, united to Him as we are for Him to touch His people.

So then my brothers, how can we serve one another and serve His people? Firstly by encouraging each other in the sanctification and pursuit of salvation for our own souls in our own lives, by praying for each other, by supporting each other and seeking out our brother Priests everywhere seeking to offer them the same service, one for another. Then by serving His people by offering His Sacraments and most particularly the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the "source and summit" of the life of His Body the Church, the means by which He is seen to save and we are able to commune with Him, the whole Godhead, the whole of His Body - the communion of Saints. I urge you brothers to offer the Holy Sacrifice as often as you can, to make available to His people the Sacrament of His Love, to offer their pleas and petitions through Him to Our Father, to make available to them His daily bread, to assure them of His abiding presence in their midst. In these two ways, prayer and offering the Holy Sacrifice - we make our own sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving by the subjugation of our lives to His Will. Whether alone or with company, whether in consecrated building or with the best you are able to muster, however humble, offer the Holy Sacrifice both for your own soul and all souls. Commune with the Divine daily if at all possible, for it is at the Altar that we all, the whole Priesthood, the whole brotherhood, the whole Oratory comes together through the ages, across the continents in service of each other, His people and Him. Make time, make sacrifice to offer The Sacrifice, give yourselves completely to His service that you may be used as an instrument of His salvation for His people, that you may be consoled by the knowledge of your own unworthiness by the presence of Himself in your company at the Altar. See Him before you as you are before Him, touch Him and He touches you and heals, forgives, makes whole both you, broken vessel that you are and His people. Take His yoke upon you that He may share in your burden as much as you share in His. Realise your Priesthood for yourself as well as others. Follow the example of our holy Fathers, the Curé and St Phillip and you too will receive all that they did that you too may receive that eternal reward which all seek; you too can be made worthy, with a "humble and contrite heart" [Ps 51:17].

Be assured my brother Oratorians of my prayers for you all most especially for this year of grace afforded us by the suggestion of the Holy Father to reflect and consolidate our vocations.

Most fraternally in Christ


Why orthodox Old Catholics should support the Pope

Originally posted on "The Parish Blog", February 21st 2009 - and still true now...

A question that has been posed to me, especially of late, and that I feel I ought to respond to publicly is... "Why do you, as an Old Catholic priest, support the Pope [of Rome]?".

An initial response: simply because, despite being an "Old Catholic" I must surely recognise the Bishop of Rome as the historical and legitimate "Patriarch of the West". Now I know that particular title has been "dropped" from the official titles of the Pope (since the 2006 edition of the Annuario Pontificio) but nonetheless, it is an historic title (and completely defensible by resources/references from anitiquity) of the Bishop of Rome - far more so than "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church"! Also, historically, it is important to remember where "Old" Catholics come from...

"Old" Catholics are so-called because after the promulgation of "Pastor Aeternus" (the doctrine of Papal Infallibility) promulgated the by the First Vatican Council (VCI) in 1870, Catholic scholars and theologians opposed to the doctrine met together in Germany at Munich at what was to become the "First Old Catholic Congress" in 1871, rejecting the "innovation" of the "new" doctrine as defined by the decree. They called themselves "Old Catholics" because they saw themselves as adhering to the Catholic Faith as it had been received and transmitted basically according to the principles of the Vincentian Canon "that which has been believed everywhere and by all" and to the OEcumenical Councils predating 1054 (the divide between the Eastern and Western Catholicates) inspite of VCI and the declarations thereof. What they did affirm about the Papacy was;

"We acknowledge the primacy of the Roman bishop, as it was received by the Fathers on the ground of Scripture. We declare that the dogmas of can only be defined in accordance with Holy Scripture, and that the dogmatic decisions of a Council must be shown to be in harmony with the originally delivered faith of the Church, in the direct consciousness of belief of the Catholic people and theological science."

I hold then, that it is utterly defensible as an "Old" Catholic to recognise and acknowledge the Bishop of Rome (Pope) as the "Chief Pastor" of the historical Western Catholicate, the Church which Old Catholicism claims to be a continuation of. It is for this self-same reason that Old Catholics using the Tridentine Rite, whether in the vernacular or in Latin, have always mentioned the Bishop of Rome as the "Chief Pastor" in the Canon of the Mass. At no time did the Old Catholic Congresses (of Munich 1871, Cologne 1872, Constance 1873 or Bonn 1874) at any time in any of their declarations refute the the primacy of the See of Peter, rather they refuted the exageration of the claims made by the Papal See under Pius IX and sought to "reform" the Church from abuses regarding indulgences, imposed celibacy etc.

It is wholly appropriate therefore, for Old Catholics to share culturally with other Western Catholics, a deep love and concern for the Holy Father. It is wholly natural for them to pray for the Pope and where they can in conscience work collaboratively with him and defend or support him in his role as Prime Bishop of the Western Catholicate in defense of the Catholic Faith. It behoves Old Catholic Clergy to guide their faithful in the proper support that may be shown and demonstrated for the Holy Father, particularly where this does not impede, contradict or otherwise endanger a proper knowledge or understanding of true Catholic doctrine - without falling into the trap of extraneous material that is not consistant with the "received" Catholic Faith or contrary to the spirit or purpose of those declarations of the Old Catholic Congresses.

In short, "Old" Catholics are essentially "Roman" Catholics without adhering to the doctrine of "Papal Infallibility" and that only as it is defined in Pastor Aeternus. Old Catholics do recognise the Primacy of the See of Rome and the Petrine Ministry, it is, if you like, only the "workings out" of it that they disagree upon as it has been defined. Cardinal Newman himself expressed doubts about the decree Pastor Aeternus and many Bishops and theologians at the time were not wholly convinced of it's argument. An Old Catholic can be a Papal supporter without being disingenuous to our position on Papal Infallibility! We should all hope and pray for that day when East and West can come together again in Council to agree and decide on these issues.

For the reasons given above, I find myself, particularly during the present climate of hostility towards the whole Catholic Church targeted particularly at the present moment in the person of the present Pope, needing to demonstrate my solidarity with other Catholics in support of the Holy Father. Benedict XVI to my mind represents the best hope for reconciliation between the members of the Catholic Church than any other Pontiff, certainly in my lifetime, has before. Mindful of the fact that his presence and guidance has been evident throughout the pontificate of the last Pope, John Paul II, the Holy Father has shown demonstrable understanding together with distinct theological credibility regarding an appreciation of the whole Catholic Church and Faith consonant with Scripture and Tradition that seeks to reconcile and make whole the "one flock". Admittedly, it is the area of the "one shepherd" on earth that presents the greatest difficulty and I would suggest the Holy Father should seek dialogue and address sooner rather than later with the other historical and recognised Catholic Patriarchs.

Frequent and assiduous viewers of our online broadcast of the Mass may have noticed of late my inclusion from the Tabula Orationum, the additional Propers Con Perscutores Ecclesiae and Pro Papa, namely the additional Collects, Secrets and Postcommunion Prayers For the Church and For the Pope. Those who have listened to my homilies may also have picked up my warnings and themes regarding a persecution of the Church now and in our time. To my mind, we as Catholics, are facing a persecution as great as that which our forbears withstood in the 3rd Century under Diocletian (amongst others). Similarly we are also battling with apostasy - or as John Paul II called a "silent apostasy" within our ranks.

Prayers are urgently needed and required for the whole Church, the whole corporate Body of Christ as we need to bear witness to not just an increasingly secularised world but one which is growing in the arrogance that Man is the summit and pinnacle of all creation, is the ruler of life and death and in independent control over his own destiny and that of the whole world. Humanism - not that utopian principle such as St Thomas Moore extolled, but the new kind which preaches the centralist perspective of "ego" is threatening the moral cohesiveness of human society by extolling the virtue of "self" above all others. A greater witness than ever needs to be made for "Charity" - not conscience relieving alms giving - but that Divine Love expressed through the Body of Christ - spiritually, sacramentally, corporately, intelligently, compassionately and unselfishly amongst all who believe.

"Et unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam"

The following was originally posted on "The Parish Blog" the 17th Sunday after Pentcost 2008, but is re-posted here with reference to the below post on the ordination of women priests...

In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesian's we heard in today's Epistle reading at Mass;

"One body and one spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism."

And in the Creed every Sunday we proclaim that there is "one holy catholic and apostolic church" but what exactly do we mean when we say that?

Firstly we must understand that "catholic" in this context should be properly understood, not to refer to a partisan perspective of church polity, but rather it's literal meaning "universal". It does not mean the "Catholic Church" as in Roman Catholic, nor Orthodox Catholic nor even Old Catholic! Of prime importance here is the next adjective to give us it's true context and meaning, "Apostolic"; "et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam" there is but one holy catholic and apostolic church. So what is the importance of "Apostolic?"

What we are saying here is that the Church we profess is not just universal as in all encapsulating, everywhere, but that our Church is descended from the original Apostles of Christ, that we are uniquely connected to them through the Apostolic Succession - the fulfillment of the promise of Christ to His Apostles that He would send them the Holy Spirit to teach them all things [John 14:16 & 26, 16:7] and that He would be with them always until the end of time [Matthew 28:20].

What we are proclaiming here, in the Creed, is what distinguishes us as Catholic Christians from other "churches" for we are "Apostolic" meaning "of/with the Apostles" which assures us of our closeness to Christ and to God. For by this Apostolic Succession we are able to know Christ's abiding presence with the Church through the grace and efficacy of the Sacraments. Through the Apostolic Succession - the passing on through the laying on of hands at Ordination, of the sign of the Holy Spirit - we are able to receive the Eucharist and receive forgiveness through sacramental Absolution, we in effect are able to witness and receive those "outward and visible" signs of God's "inward and invisible" effectual grace. When our bishops and priests offer Mass, we know that Christ through them - "in persona Christi" or "alter Christus" - is able to offer Himself both as priest and victim [Ephesians 5:2 Romans 4:25 Council of Ephesus (Part III, ch. i, anath. 10)] of His one eternal Sacrifice - the Crucifixion - through which our Salvation has been assured [Hebrews 10:14, 1 Peter 3:18, Romans 5:6-10].

Last Thursday at our votive Mass for "Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest" I taught from the Epistle to the Hebrews about the intrinsic correlation of the Sacrifice of the Mass to the sacrifices once offered in the temple at Jerusalem. How Christ is both the "covenant", the "high priest" and the "victim" and of the importance of that understanding to our comprehension of what the Mass is really about. Of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and His ministry and person being the completion, the fulfillment of the Old Covenant between God and His then "chosen people" (the Israelites) and the New Covenant in Christ for the salvation of His people.

I have also preached much lately on the theme of God's "Plan of Salvation" as we have celebrated recently the lives of St John the Baptist, of St Anne (Mother of Mary), we have heard again the Gospel of the Annunication and this week will celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have talked much of "vocation" in this context also, of the vocations of Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, John the Baptist and then also of Andrew and Peter and of those others whose place in the history of our salvation was no accident, but whose "ad sum" or "fiat" to the will of God effected His plan of salvation and how our vocations, individually given us from God "I knew you before you were in your mother's womb" [Jeremiah 1:5] are intrinsically linked to the perpetuation of that plan, particularly vocations to the Sacred Ministry which allow the Sacraments which effect Christ's continued abiding presence with His people through them.

It is largely through lack of teaching and understanding about the Mass and God's plan for salvation that much of today's divisive debates in the churches take place especially around the subject of vocation. Let us remember in the first place that essentially man and woman are not the same. A woman can give birth, a man cannot. This is an undeniable fact of nature. It is not true therefore to assert, as some people do in the equality debate, that the roles of men and women are interchangeable. They are not. Aside from the simple biological and physiological differences, the fact is that everyone is "individual" not all have the same abilities, or are gifted with the same talents. I cannot be you and you cannot be me. Nature, nurture etc the evidence of science is that no two people are alike - even twins are recognisably different persons even if they do share specific attributes. The point is here, that in creation there are only two forms of human, male and female and there is a very obvious distinction between the two!

In God's plan of salvation, this diversity in humanity is recognised and balanced. Man cannot give birth, therefore Christ had to be born of a woman. A woman having given birth to the Saviour, then to balance things out, she should give birth to a son, a male child. Together, the two, male and female, bring about the salvation of the world. For this reason, Our Lady is also called "co-redemptrix", "Mother of God" for her role in the plan of salvation was no accident, though it took her "ad sum" to Gabriel's "ave", her voluntary submission to the will of God, nonetheless, it was purposed. Christ in like manner, to fulfill the Old Covenant, needs must be male, to be a "Son of David." In this way God's plan of salvation is not divorced from that of His creation - He works through and with His creation to bring about salvation.

This is perhaps most simply illustrated by regarding the iconography of the Mass - the external and visible that portray the internal and invisible. In the same way that I, though a validly ordained priest, cannot confect the Body of Christ by using anything other than unleavened bread - the Sacrament of Orders cannot effect anything upon anyone other than a man. Remembering that the vocation of the Sacred Ministry is to perpetuate the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary - that event represented by the crucifix - the image of God made man on the cross - so too in the spirituality of the Mass, Christ through man (i.e. the priest) offers Himself in His eternal role as High Priest and Victim. Therefore the iconography of the Mass - the external visible representation of the incarnate Christ in the priest (in persona Christi), portrays the internal and invisible - Christ the High Priest offering Himself to the Godhead and fulfilling His promise to His faithful who partake then in the fruits of their redemption, namely His Body and Blood (the external and visible bread and wine) from which they receive the "new" manna - the "Bread of Life" [John 6:25-59]

It was not through any other limitation other than God working His plan of salvation through His creation that Christ chose men to be His Apostles - as through woman humankind receives life, so through man humankind receives salvation. To suggest that His choosing men was due to the "limitations culturally" of His time is to suggest that the whole Gospel - His life, ministry, passion, death and resurrection - is somehow not eternal. That this Jesus of Nazareth was not the Christ but a Christ, not the Messiah but just another prophet. This is the fundamental problem with regard to the prevalent misunderstanding and lack of teaching regarding the Mass - it is not simply a "family meal" it is a sacrifice - it is not simply a memorial, it is a witnessing of that same one oblation made once and for all time, that single moment in our history, the Crucifixion, the sacrifice of the Son of God for man in atonement of sin.

You see brethren, true equality is about recognising and embracing diversity - it is not about making square pegs fit into round holes - it is about accepting the true nature of things and their inherent qualities or attributes that contribute to the whole. In this case, in God's plan of salvation, it is about seeing that "male and female He created them" and through His creation, the role of saving humankind was shared equally between mankind and womankind. In the perpetuating revelation of God's plan of salvation, the two kinds continue to have a vocation each that contributes to the whole. In the same way that from man comes the seed and from woman the egg, together creating the new person; so too with God's plan of salvation - through the woman the male saviour is born, both aspects of humankind together share roles in the salvation of the human race. Without Mary's "ad sum" to Gabriel's "ave" there would be no birth, no saviour, her role is obviously pivotal in God's salvific plan. The assertion that some would make that the Catholic (universal) Church is "patriarchal and sexist" is simply not borne out by Catholic teaching regarding God's plan of salvation, by our recognition of the Blessed Virgin as co-redemptrix.

The "versus populum" orientation of Altars has prevented this true understanding of the Mass and of vocation. It is no wonder, if people are looking always at the person of the priest "at the front" - that they identify with him simply as another human being. They are presented continually with the face of the man they know. Whereas, "ad orientem" the priest with his back to the people, prevents the people establishing a relationship or recognition with the person of the priest, but helps them to focus the right direction of their worship - towards God, towards the Altar. By not seeing the face of the priest - or at least only glimpses - they are more able to recognise that he is not the focus of their attention, that Christ through him, through the priest, is the real celebrant fulfilling His offering of Sacrifice. With their eyes fixed forward toward the Crucifix on the Altar, which is reverenced at various times throughout the Mass to draw attention to it, the focus of the people in worship becomes centred on God in Christ - not the person "at the front."

I am firmly of the opinion that this debate regarding the ordination of women is largely due to the fault of pastors not teaching the faithful the proper context and symbology of the Mass and of contemporary liturgy as not portraying the true "lex credendi lex orandi" of the Church. It is not difficult to appreciate the modern confusion of roles if God's plan of salvation through His creation has not properly been taught, and how the personality of priests presented in "versus populum" worship has led to a desire to "change" the face at the front!

The faith of the "one holy Catholic and Apostolic" Church cannot - not simply will not - it cannot change the application of the Sacrament of Orders without fundamentally changing the Faith itself. Three Popes in recent times have reiterated this point - Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI - and this opinion is shared with the successors of the other ancient Patriarchates - the Orthodox Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem as well as Moscow, Eygpt, Ethopia etc. It is not within the power of any of these - nor any Ecumenical Council to change the fundamental essence of God's plan of salvation. "Anyone who goes ahead and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ, does not have God; he who abides in the doctrine has both the Father and the Son." [2 John 1:9]

On confusion still abounding... "Quo vadis?"

So, the old debate that has gone on for thirty years, that has divided parishes, dioceses, provinces and even families is still raging on in the world's third largest denomination of Christianity: Anglicanism.  The following article was published in the New York Times where in the USA the debate has moved on apace to the ordination of homosexuals; here in England, we have yet to ordain women as Bishops, having taken twenty years longer than our American counterparts to ordain women to the priesthood. So Ms Kramer gives her expose on the state of the argument in the CofE... A Canterbury Tale...

Interestingly Ruth Gledhill, Religious Affairs Correspondent of , "The Times" has blogged highligthing some of the more interesting quotes from the people interviewed by Ms Kramer:

"I’m eager to see women ordained [bishop],' he said, 'and at the same time very reluctant to see a decision made that will cost us some very, very valuable people. . . . There is something in that Catholic tradition, which is where I come from, which would be much poorer if we lost [them]." ++Rowan Cantaur

Well indeed, yet, and I know this is controversial, there are very very few really Catholic-minded folk left in the CofE. The trouble is that some confuse aping Roman Catholic ceremonial with Catholic Faith and Tradition, yet these are not synonymous; wearing a chasuble and asking for Our Lady's intercession are indeed part of the "Catholic" cultural tradition, but they are not truly "Catholic" unless combined with traditional Faith and Praxis.  This is the fundamental "problem" with the concept of the ordination of women as priests i.e. presbyters, this is not the "received tradition" of the Church and more than that, it is not and could never be a part of the "Catholic Faith".  The best and perhaps only argument for the ordination of women is presented by Ms Kramer...

"The legal argument runs this way: given the Church’s [sic. CofE] special status, priests are functionaries of the state, and, because of this, its claim to a “religious exemption” in regard to women in the episcopate violates both Britain’s and Europe’s anti-discrimination laws. The Scriptural argument, in brief, is this: there is nothing in the Gospels that precludes women from priestly service; Christ called men and women “equal in my hands,” and when conservatives in the Church counter that if Christ had wanted women bishops he would not have made all his apostles men, the women ask them why, then, did Christ choose two women to witness and announce the Resurrection." [ref. Jane Kramer]

...however, the assertion that "there is nothing in the Gospels that precludes women from priestly service" is flawed. The reason why women cannot be priests is not limited to the fact that Christ didn't choose women to be his Apostles but rather is dependent on a fully Catholic understanding of the Mystery of the Incarnation, the meaning of "in pserona Christi" in the Mass... even the Pope can't change that!  [I'll repost an older entry I made on our Parish Blog which illustrates all that!]

"She also interviewed Father Geoffrey Kirk, describing him as an 'unabashedly misogynist London vicar who is the national secretary of Forward in Faith.' Father Kirk told Kramer that for him, the tipping point was TEC's’ election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as their presiding bishop. He called it 'a fundamental scandal' and added, 'I think Mrs Jefferts Schori is a layperson. It’s not my doing. They decided.' He said that a shoplifter was 'more qualified, per se,' to be a bishop than a woman was, so long as the shoplifter didn’t say that shoplifting was good, or that he was a Marxist spreading the wealth around." [ref. Ruth Gledhill]

Well, an unfortunate choice of words and analogy and very out of character for one usually so erudite!  Fr Kirk does betray here however a lack of appreciation for the Catholic Faith and Tradition.  There are many, I know, who would "shoot me down" for suggesting that Fr Kirk of all people is "less than Catholic" but his argument that Katherine Jefferts Schori's primatial election was for him the proverbial "last straw" is to my mind, pretty poor.  Rather, the ordination of women as priests in the CofE let alone twenty years prior in the States with the CofE remaining in communion with PECUSA [now TEC], should've prompted him to seek a more ecclesial and orthodox situation for himself far sooner. Quite why he and others are now hammering on the door of the Holy See for an accomodation when they've happily put up with unorthodox praxis and remained "in communion" for this long, is beyond me...

"Kramer also offers interesting insights on the behind-the-scenes deals done here in England between conservatives and evangelicals.

Kirk apparently told her that he and the other Forward in Faith priests hedged their bets with the Vatican by making a marriage of convenience, or, in his words, 'co-belligerency', with their most conservative evangelical counterparts in the Church of England.

The understanding was, according to Kramer, that the evangelicals, who she describes as Biblical fundamentalists who consider homosexuality an abomination, would lead the fight against gay bishops, while the conservative Anglo-Catholics, as the fundamentalists of tradition, would do the same with women." [ref. Ruth Gledhill]

Indeed, and here we have it again, the absolute argument why so-called "traditionalists" or "orthodox Catholics" in the CofE should actually remain "Anglican" and not become Roman Catholics!  Clearly betrayed here is the fact that the desire to become Roman Catholics is motivated not solely by a desire to be in communion with the Holy See but because actually they now have lost the "battle" in the CofE to keep the "status quo".  This was made clear when Fr Kirk suggested in his opening address at the Foreward in Faith Extraordinary Assembly of October last year, that Anglicanorum Coetibus was "plan B"!

Quo vadis?

"Quo Vadis?" "Where are you going?" These were the words of St. Peter to our Lord, as tradition has it, as St. Peter was running away from Rome in A.D. 64.  When Jesus responded, "I am going to Rome to be crucified again." St. Peter questioned, "You will to be crucified again?" Jesus: "Yes, I shall again be crucified." St. Peter, ashamedly: "Lord, I will return and follow you." At that Jesus ascended into heaven and St. Peter was crucified, upside down since he deemed himself unworthy of being crucified as was our Lord.

St. Peter was running: running from that to which God had called him, running from the Cross. Each of us has those moments in our lives when we hear the voice of the Lord gently or boisterously asking, "Where are you going?" One of the most important ways in which our Lord asks us this is in regard to our vocation. Where are you going? What are you doing? Do you hear my voice calling you? Perhaps we even hear him asking, "Why are you running? Do you not know that all is well for you in my providence?"

Now, I know there are many who might be upset by what I have suggested here, particularly with regard to the motivations of others. I have many that I regard as friends, brothers even, who are "traditionalist Anglicans" and are members of the CofE. I appreciate that there has been and remains, considerable soul-searching within the hearts of those who were born Anglican, found the Catholic Faith even within Anglicanism and now are forced to reconsider and re-evaluate what being "Catholic" actually means. 

However, there are others who realised much sooner, or who followed their consciences far earlier, who have now already become Roman Catholic, or indeed fully Anglican Catholic, Old Roman Catholic and Orthodox Catholic expressing the Faith received from the First Millenium of the Tradition. I myself, am one, who found the fullness of the Faith in the Anglican Catholic tradition of the CofE, but who has now found another home more closely aligned to the culture, teaching and praxis of the received Apostolic Tradition.  None of this happened without a full sharing of heartache and soul-searching, of blind alleys and false starts, indeed, a lot of pain and angst, not a few mistakes and wrong turnings!  However, I and others have done it and "did not count the cost" in doing so... there comes a time when actually a "leap of faith" needs must be taken with regard to material concerns, as Our Lord Himself indicated [Matt 19:27-29]. I may not have a nice house, a rich stipend and expenses, but yet the Lord has provided me with a ministry, a place to live and money enough to put food on my table.

One is minded of the type of scenario a Spiritual Director might face with one who has been contemplating the Religious life and is ready to take that final step... "Embrace freedom, my child" the SD says, "but I will lose everything" replies the postulant, "no, my child, you will gain everything"! Talk to any Religious brother or sister and they will explain that in surrendering everything, embracing poverty, they felt a tremendous sense of freedom, of liberation from the constraints of the material world. They threw themselves into God's Providence by embracing the Religious life and in so doing, gained everything and lost nothing...

This is how I feel, a little, with some of my CofE friends. It is a scary prospect to decide to leave security for Providence. It seems imprudent, foolish even. Yet, it generally is the most liberating and exciting of experiences and God never lets anyone down who puts their trust in Him. It is a leap of faith. It is a step forward into the dark. It is a leap into the unknown.

Does God want strife, stress, compromise for His Catholic children? I think not. I write as one with experience of having given up everything to follow God. I write as one for whom life has not been easy but for whom God has done marvellous things; I have a home, I live out my vocation, I have a moderate income and I am not alone. This Parish, the fraternity of priests I belong to, the sense of fraternity and family around my Bishop, the many friends I have found since trusting myself to God, all confirm for me that embracing Him is the only real and tangible way of existing as a Catholic in the 21st Century. Forget "Shrine Churches" and rambling Presbyteries... embrace LIFE and live it! Embrace The Faith and live it!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Devotional Address for Churches Together

The address I gave at tonight's meeting of Churches Together in Central Brighton and Kemptown...

From the Gospel of St John, Chapter 20: 19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." John 20

Brothers and sisters

Like the disciples here we are gathered together in an upper room after the Resurrection of Our Lord. Here we sit around a table, much as the Apostles might have been – gathered together in fellowship, united to each other, as the Apostles were, through our knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. But do we sit here in this upper room as they did, afraid, in fear?

I suspect our initial answer might be “no” and yet a more honest answer might be “yes”... It is easy I think sometimes, for us gainfully employed in the normal routines of running our particular churches, to convince ourselves that we are being bold, we are being seen, we are witnessing, we are aren’t afraid... Yet, the truth of the matter is and particularly in this city in which we all work, the Gospel is not being as perhaps effectively proclaimed as it might be...

34 I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13

I know some of you have heard me say this before, perhaps in conversation or in Lent at lunch or in discussion, but as I see it, the greatest obstacle to the proclamation of the Gospel in our world, is the inability of the world to recognise in us, the churches, God’s love in Christ. We are not recognised as “Christ’s disciples” so often we hear people mock us with the words “how these Christians love one another” a phrase originally written in praise of the Early Church by the pagans and recorded by the historian Tertullian in the 2nd Century, and now said derogatively of us in the 21st Century!

On this evenings agenda is an item “What is the purpose of Churches Together” and, whilst not privy to any prior conversations with anyone as to why it is there, I would venture to suggest that the answer to that question, will decide for us whether we are in fact afraid, whether we do have love one for another and whether we seek to proclaim the Gospel in this city together. For me the answer is simple, we should first seek to love one another in fulfilment of Christ’s command, that out of our love, will be borne a desire for and a witness to the Gospel and the opportunity for our contemporary pagans to remark “how these Christians love one another” full of awe, wonder and curiosity!

Let us then pray for Christ to come into our midst, here with us now, in this upper room, his 21st Century disciples, as He promised he would to those who asked Him; let us hear His greeting of “Peace be with you” and let us embrace and share it with each other:

Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, I leave you peace, my peace I give you. Help us to heal the wounds of your resurrected body by the sins of your Churches; help us to love one another as you commanded; help us to encourage and embrace and sustain one another in our proclamation of your Good News; that we might be recognised again as your disciples, that we might be worthy of your name as Christians; that the love of God made manifest in you, may be made manifest in us, that you may be made manifest in our world through, with and in us; that we may be “lights to the world” as you intended so that others may be drawn to your Love and your glory that the will of our Father may be fulfilled, God who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen

Friday, 16 April 2010

Ad Multos Gloriosque Annos Beatissime Pater!

Many Happy Returns of the Day to
His Holiness, Benedict XVI
May he live many more years!

V. Orémus pro beatíssimo Papa nostro Benedícto.
R. Dóminus consérvet eum, et vivíficet eum,
et beátum fáciat eum in terra,
et non tradat eum in ánimam inimicórum ejus.

Pater. Ave. Glória.

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus,
miserére fámulo tuo Pontífici nostro Benedícto,
et dírige eum secúndum tuam
cleméntiam in viam salútis ætérnæ:
ut, te donánte, tibi plácita cúpiat,
et tota virtúte perfíciat.
Per Dóminum...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

RC's "Kicking Ass!"

Apologies for the colloquial euphemism... and the content of the video does not necessarily entirely reflect the opinion of the blog author...

Benedict XVI: Priests, bring Christ, not yourselves!

Another go...

Apologies to readers for the lack of posting - since December last year! I can't quite believe it has been so long nor indeed that the year is already into it's fourth month and Easter has been and gone!

I must confess I do wonder at how others, particularly clergy, are able to blog so profusely, I wonder at where they find the time?! However, ruminating on that particular conundrum made me realise that the time I was spending reading others people's blogs could be spent on writing my own?  So here it is... not only that, but so much is going on in the "world of church" at the moment that I feel I really must start to get some things "off my chest". That said, I wonder at where to start and how to commentate, rather I think than repeat much of what has already been more eloquently elucidated by others I esteem, I shall try and keep my posts to my own original thoughts. Naturally I shall give references to sources, articles etc that may have prompted my thoughts, but rather than seek to become an amateur journalist, it might be more edifying for any readers if I simply write about "wot I fink anywayz"?!

Firstly I suppose, one ought to give a quick précis of what one has been doing such that one has not had the time to comment previously! I think Easter being so early this year made the beginning of the year seem to go extraordinarily quickly.  No sooner was the Nativity over than the Epiphany was upon us, then Candlemass and Gesima and before one knew it, Lent had begun! When following what is now more colloquially referred to as the "Extraordinary Form" of the Latin Rite, the liturgical seasons of the Church can be quite a bit more involved than say the "Ordinary Form" as the Novus Ordo is now called; one can become quite consumed with the rubrics and "liturgics" of it all and there are plenty to keep one occupied! Thus the seemingly increased rate of progress through the Church's Year at the beginning of this year, kept one on one's proverbial toes in more ways than one! Combined with my quixotic desire to preach a homily during the Daily Mass broadcast and publish the Stational Churches everyday on our Parish Blog, as well as all the other additional commitments one takes on during the Season of Lent both parochially and ecumenically, the first four months of this year have been quite "full on"!

I have only really now begun to appreciate this year's celebration of Holy Week, the Sacrum Triduum and Easter. It may appear a strange thing to say for a priest! Yet, consider the amount of work these liturgical olympics afford mentally, spiritually and physically, particularly for a single priest with one server in a small Chapel attempting to offer the liturgy with the best we have, can afford and can realise from the rubrics of the Memoriale Rituum for the pre'55 "Use" of the "Extraordinary Form! Here I have to praise our server, Peter whose first full pre'55 Sac'Trid' it was and who followed instructions extremely well and with sparing rehearsal/walk through time prior to services [amazing the time a walk through takes for the simplified ritual of the Memoriale]! Thankfully Peter assures me the experience was deeply spiritual for him despite the added pressure of serving!

Certainly our Daily Mass Online viewers seem to have appreciated our efforts for this year's offering of the Sacred Liturgies, record numbers of viewers for the Sacrum Triduum particularly, 148 people viewed Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, but Paschaltide was particularly popular with 263 viewers for Easter and it's Octave! Considering that we predicted figures to be low, expecting most of our regular viewers to be attending the Liturgies in person for the Season, these figures are quite a testimony to our apostolate of encouraging Spiritual Communion for those unable to attend in person the Sacred Mysteries.