Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Is Tradition in crisis? In the West, you bet!

The Latin Mass Society's magazine (ironically) entitled "Mass of Ages" reports some interesting statistics (by Paix Liturgique 2010) regarding the availability of the 1962 Mass around the world and in England and Wales since the publication of Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum [2007].
"It counted a total of 1,444 places where the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated: 340 offer a weekday Mass at best; 313 offer at best a Sunday Mass but not regularly and not weekly; 324 offer Mass every Sunday but at a nonfamily-friendly time; lastly, 467 offer a weekly Sunday Mass at a family-friendly time."

A "nonfamily-friendly" time I suppose means an untraditional time in the afternoon or evening rather than on a Sunday morning? Literally about 50% of the 1'444 venues offer a weekly Mass on Sunday. The FSSPX has 690 venues offering the 1962 Mass on Sundays and weekdays, according to the report there are two "Roman" venues for every FSSPX one. All in all we might say that Mass offered according to the 1962 Missal is available on Sundays ("Roman"+FSSPX) in only 1'412 venues (only 66%) of a possible 2'134 around the world.

However, consider that globally the Roman Catholic Church had in 2009 (latest official statistics in the "Annuario Pontificio 2011") 410,593 priests. Only one priest is required for a Mass to be said, so roughly only 0.17% of Roman Catholic Priests offer the 1962 Mass on a Sunday. 0.17%. It's not a lot is it? Of all the '62 "Roman" Masses offered weekday and Sunday, only 0.3% of Rome's priests offer them. If the 529 Society priests (Society HQ website's current statistic) were reconciled to Rome, the average would increase to 0.4%.

Interesting isn't it? Of course, the number of priests and venues offering the actual Mass of the Ages (i.e. pre 1955 reforms) is far far less and statistically, at present, completely unverifiable. Though there is at least one venue, here in Brighton, where the Traditional Mass is offered daily by yours truly!

So, remembering the sage maxim "lex orandi, lex credendi" when people talk about "crisis" and "states of necessity or emergency" in the Western portion of Catholic Christendom regarding a battle for "Tradition"... they are not exaggerating! Though its worth remembering that the true Tradition of The Church i.e. sans exaggerated Papal claims, whilst held by a very small minority of Western Catholics (ORC's/orthodox OC's etc), is nonetheless still represented by the second largest number of Catholic Christians in the world - all the Orthodox Eastern and Oriental Churches. So all is not completely lost, however challenging we may often think things are!

Monthly Requiem for June

Missa "Requiem"

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Trinity Sunday 2011

Missa "Benedicta sit"

Rhyme or reason...?

One of the fascinating claims about Papal Catholicism is the suggestion that the RCC is "one" Church united in and professing "one" Faith. Of course the reality is very different. Two fascinating examples of RCC schizophrenia have occured this week.

A conservative and "traditionalist" organisation, independent of the RCC heirarchy were prevented from holding their annual Conference in Westminster raising issues regarding lack of discipline, lapsed Catholics and catechesis. Originally Cardinal Burke (Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura) was to be the main speaker - it seems he was warded off - and then, low and behold, the whole event was cancelled. Despite the venue not being a Roman Catholic one (actually Methodist) it would appear the RCC heirarchy used their ecumenical influence! Read all about it here... "Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice"

Then a liberal and liturgically abusive Mass, formerly encouraged and permitted by Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna (you can see how he offers Mass here), was successfully prevented from occuring again this year by the efforts of conservative bloggers petitioning against the "Western Mass"!

Meanwhile other Roman Catholics complain that they don't receive any answer to their requests for more "Extraordinary Form" Masses from their Bishops... While the Bishops discuss making available "worship spaces" and priests to catechise converting Anglicans...

Go figure?


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Ordinariate USA

I will share some thoughts about this later... meanwhile, enjoy a very interesting and insightful "fly on the wall" re the USCCB...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Don't you just love it?

The comments on this blog's post are supposed to persuade a "schismatic" Traditionalist like me return to communion with Rome...? I don't think so! ;o)

"Patrimony" or (moderate) Liturgical Abuse?

"Ordinariate" Benediction?
The photo is of the Officiant (Msgr Andrew Burnham) and attendant Deacons at Benediction following the Ordinariate offering of Solemn Evensong at the Dominican Priory at Blackfriars, Oxford, yesterday, a suggested offering of "Anglican Patrimony".

I had a hunch that rather than the historically patrimonial "Scarf & Hood" for the sung offering of the BCP Office, as may be seen in most Anglican Cathedrals up and down the country, a Latinate ceremonial would be employed, as is common in most Anglo-Catholic parishes. Of course, it has not been unknown for Copes to be worn on Feasts in such places, but certainly there has never been a tradition of the more Sarum or historical Latin Rite practice of "Rulers in Copes" etc. I'm rather curious then as to why so many Copes were seemingly employed for this offering of Prayer Book Evensong. I wonder if the Exhortation and General Confession were even offered at the beginning of the service, rather than the later practice of beginning the service with "O Lord, open thou our lips" (which as any Catholic knows is only ever said at the beginning of the first Office of the day - never at the evening offering)? [Noting that the 1928 Prayer Book, though never legally recognised by Parliament, did offer an "Alternative Order for Morning/Evening Prayer" omitting the Exhortation & General Confession.]

What's more interesting and perhaps disturbing is this take on the Latin Rite service of Benediction with assistants in Cope rather than the usual and rubrical Dalmatic [when Benediction is offered in its more "solemn" form]. As the service of Benediction is not to be found in any of the historical or contemporary offical liturgies of the CofE [i.e. Book of Common Prayer 1549, 1552, 1559, 1662, 1928, the Alternative Service Book 1980 or Common Worship] one would assume that these "Latin Rite" Catholics of the Ordinariate would celebrate this service according to the lawful rubrics of the Latin Rite*? No. It would seem that being of the Ordinariate means one continues that signature Anglican liturgical penchant for improvisation. So Copes for the assisting Deacons rather than their proper Eucharistic vestment which denotes their Order, as would be proper on such an occasion, the Celebrant only of course in Cope (with humeral veil at the appropriate time).

I'm sure it was "glorious" and all very impressive to watch. I'm sure the Latin Rite Catholics were left in no doubt that their new Ordinariate brethren truly believe the same doctrine concerning the Eucharist. However, this wasn't "Anglican Patrimony" unless by that one means a penchant for doing liturgy "impressively" but without historical or rubrical precedent? I always thought the more recent Anglican patrimony was to observe the rubrics better than the Romans themselves? Why this made up ceremonial then? Seems to me that Ordinariate liturgy is going to be a "bit of what we fancy" than an exercise in serious historical patrimonial expression or liturgical praxis.

Do the Ordinariate clergy fulfill their obligation to recite the "Prayer of the Church" by employing the BCP Offices? No. So why offer Evensong? Its as nonsensical as traddie RC's offering old rite "Vespers" once in a blue moon when it is not a part of their normal recitation. What does that say about one's understanding and relationship with the liturgy? Do they recite the LOTH Office privately before or after these archaeological forays, if only to maintain the continuity of a recitation designed to be prayed whole? No. I rather suspect not. I suspect they even probably permitted themselves to regard their offering of Evensong as equivalent to Vespers and Compline and a fulfillment of their Canonical obligation? 

Of course the Ordinariate, it is hoped, will offer something better than the above video... However, the same abuse of principle regarding rubric and liturgical law seems to be as extant in the developing Ordinariate as it is for most Roman Catholic parishes around the world. The fact that in the Ordinariate, things may be done a little better i.e. "classically" than elsewhere, even so, the only "patrimonial" principle Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics share perhaps is, "Father is always right" even when he is wrong!

P.S. I'm more than aware that similar rubrical inconsistencies were/are common in Anglo-Catholic circles, but one would've hoped that conversion to "actual" Catholicism might have provided an opportunity for such affectations to be "done away with" rather than perpetuated... everything being that much more "legal" (i.e. Canonical) now than previously... There's no need to "out do" (let alone "pretend") anymore folks, you ARE Catholics!

*Perhaps this is a "new" liturgical custom/prerogative for the Ordinariate when Benediction is offered? 

Monday, 13 June 2011

Pentecost Octave: Feria II

Missa "Cibavit eos" Homily: Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, "Wisdom"

With apologies... the first run in the new "Daily" scenario so a few hiccups, including forgetting the Act of Spiritual Communion - literally, I'd forgotten it, I just simply couldn't recall the words! Hopefully tomorrow should be better...

Saturday, 4 June 2011

"Oh God I love saying Mass!" Fr Beeching (in "Fr Ted")

Well, Thursday began as usual with the recitation of the Office (1570) and Mass... of the feast (Ascension Day)! I realise, of course (being an avid reader of the "New Tradition's" blogs), that there's a suggestion "floating around" at the moment that the [Roman] Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales is about to revert the local Ordo to a "traditional" observance of some feasts (e.g. the Epiphany), together with their recent pronouncement of the reinstatement of Friday Penance (I do find this "reclamation" of Catholic culture and identity since the Papal Visit... rather ironic). That's as may be... a little like "closing the stable door after the horse has bolted" though, I fear. Afterall, the "Catholic Church" in this country is judged to be losing approximately 30'000 souls per annum since VCII?

After the 8am Mass I popped back to "Domus Ecclesia" to catch up with some paperwork before returning to the Annexe for the Noon Mass. Persuaded the server to give me a lift to the hospital to pop in on a friend in Intensive Care. There I co-anointed him with an Anglican priest (also a friend) using the traditional Rite of Unction in both Latin and English. Having just finished anointing, another nurse came asking what denominations we were, I replied "Catholic and my colleague, Anglican" and the nurse stated he had a Protestant patient who'd like to see a minister, I deferred to my Anglican colleague and left to make my way to the farthest corner of the hospital to visit another friend just recently out of Intensive Care, an ex-Cistercian. After a cup of tea and three biscuits (first opportunity to break-fast after the Noon Mass) and promising to bring in "The Catholic Herald" the next day and some Nivea for him (hospital does dry out the skin,) as I left the Ward I was called over by another acquaintance who suffers from some Seasonal Disorder (always goes a bit loopy with the hot weather) and epilepsy. Returned to "Domus Ecclesia" to prepare the Bulletin and Proper's handout for Sunday, answer some messages and then went to "keep the Feast" with the local (immediately to me) Anglican MC who bemoaned the fact that his parish ("more Roman than the Romans") was observing the Feast on Sunday! Whilst enjoying a pint or two, I also met up with a parishoner who's wife I buried before Easter who'd popped in with his family to listen to the Jazz band I introduced him to and with whom he's played a couple of gigs with since, much to the delight of his daughter who says its "really helped him to cope with mum's absence".
"Keeping the Feast!"

Yesterday (Friday) was an equally busy day. After the 8am Mass (for St Charles Lwanga & Companions) I took everything down (Altar etc) for the Al-Anon (support group for families of those suffering alcoholism) to use the Annexe (Central) and went to the office to publish the Bulletin and Propers Handout for Sunday and then broke fast in the Cafe next to the Annexe and caught up with the Chef's from the Salvation Army Homeless "Drop-in" comparing notes and observations about the folks we saw on Wednesday. Then hot-footed it to the bus-stop to catch a bus to the entrance of the Crematorium (North) before walking up the long hill to the Chapel for a funeral (1030). After the funeral I walked back down the hill to the bus-stop, took a bus home (West), checked emails and phone messages, had something of a conventional "lunch-break" (how novel I thought) and then took a bus again back to the Crem' for another funeral (1430). After this I walked back down the hill from the Crem', again, to catch a bus back into the centre of town (South), changed buses for the Hospital (East). Got off halfway to pop into the RC Church to buy a copy of "The Catholic Herald", spoke to a drunk and then walked the rest of the way uphill to the Hospital. Got halfway to the Instensive Care ward and remembered I promised to get some Nivea... so back down the stairs to the Eastwing to the WRVS shop, only to find them fresh-out of skin-lotion! So back to the front of the Hospital to the main shop, Nivea duly bought, and back up the stairs and the lifts to the Instensive Care ward. Friend much better than yesterday, so something worked - as it should - having been doubly anointed yesterday! Friend in good spirits, but the person in the next bed kept trying to get my attention. An hour and half later, when said person's sister arrives, I realise its the woman who runs the Catholic Repository in the next bed who's been trying to say hello! A chat with them after sorting out a social worker for another patient in fear of being evicted from their home whilst their in Hospital, and I went back to the farthest corner of the Hospital to catch up with my ex-Cisctercian friend, only to find that he had finally been moved for muscular re-hab' and my efforts to get the paper and the cream were entirely wasted! But, saw the other chap again on the same Ward and spent sometime catching up again with him and with one of the Orderly's.

After all this, I returned to the Annexe via two buses to set up everything for Mass on Saturday (Altar, shrine, chairs etc) and at 7pm finally got on a bus homewards (West)! Literally a twelve-hour day as I'd started by leaving home at 7am! Feeling the need for some refreshment, I stopped off at my local and was treated to a pint by a local restauranter and we chatted about iTunes and iPods as he's thinking of getting one for his business. Then a friend popped in who would be seeing our mutual friend just recently transferred from the Hospital for muscular rehab' so gave him "The Catholic Herald" to take with him! Phew. Returning home for a "slam in the oven" fisn n'chip supper (it being Friday, some of us don't need to wait till September 16th as we've never stopped the observance) I started catching up again with paperwork before finally, after reciting Compline and Vigils, retiring to bed. Comforting myself I wondered if I had been "a good and faithful servant" and though conscious of my failings, drifted off into a deep sleep... ("at least Mass on Saturday is at 9am" I thought drowsily...)!

Right then..., Mass said, meeting taken, now off to a local Church's "Summer Fayre", the Hospital and... ;o)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Also yesterday...

The following is yesterday's report of the Abort67 volunteers display in Brighton & Hove...

Green Cross: VIth Form College entrance
Red Cross: Abort67 Display; Blue Cross: Wistons Clinic entrance

On Wednesday 1st June the Abort67 volunteers were back at the Abortion clinic in Brighton.

We knew this day was going to be a quiet one as the college were writing exams so student numbers were down but it was good none the less. As there were fewer conversations than normal we were able to observe the drivers reactions to the banner showing a 10 week old aborted child. Though our website gets seen by thousands of people each month I am fairly certain that with just a few hours out on the streets we are reaching more people.

A journalistic photographer who has done some work with channel 4 stopped by and took some pictures. So it may have been worth burning in the Sun just for that contact.

We had an interesting conversation with a couple of young mums who saw our “Notice Abortion images ahead” “A” boards and then came to see the banner to which it was referring. One of them had two young children with her who showed no signs of distress at the images as their mum calmly asked us about the image. The other mum said that when she found out she was pregnant; the first thing her midwife said was “Well if you want to get rid of it we will have to act quickly. It will just be a case of taking a couple of pills.” The new mum instead asked for a scan and the midwife refused to help her. Fortunately for this baby his or her mother knew abortion wasn’t an option. Now at 24 weeks she told us that “Those pictures would put girls off having abortions when they are told that it is just taking a couple of pills.”

I have attached a map of our position when we expose abortion at Wistons. We stand with the banners where the red cross is on the map. The green cross is the entrance to the college. The Blue cross shows the Abortion clinic entrance on the quiet side street where the other volunteers will stand to approach those entering the clinic. They ask people if they can provide more information before showing them the facts about pre-natal development and abortion.

Another girl walked past our banner in the direction of the entrance and turned away so she wouldn’t have to look at the image. Then instead of going into the clinic she crossed the road heading south to walk down Dyke Road. A minute later she came back up to the junction and stood for a while on the other side of the road looking at the banner. She then crossed the road and headed towards the entrance. Here one of the volunteers asked if she could give her some more information. She took it and stood outside the clinic for several minutes looking through it. She was visibly affected by what she had learned in those few minutes.

It is likely she was there for a consultation as she had no bag or paperwork with her that we could see. Unfortunately this will be another story that we will possibly never know the outcome of.

We must carry on exposing abortion because women are going to abortion clinics because they are ignorant of the reality of what they are doing even if deep down they know it is wrong. It reminds them that their instincts are not just some vague silly feeling but they are mothers now, not just when they are holding a baby in their arms. We have to carry on despite the frustration of not being able to follow up each person we come into contact with just to satisfy our own desire for seeing the fruit.

As a result of the article in the Guardian more people around the country have contacted us wanting to get involved. We really are at the stage where we need to move from doing this voluntarily to doing it professionally if we want to push through. This is where we need your help to not just carry on this work but to help us make it grow.

If you can help by sacrificially giving each month or making a one off donation please get in touch.

Many thanks,
Andy Stephenson


8am Low Mass (of Requiem) / In the Salvation Army kitchen
Chatted with a chap today, post Mass, availing himself of the hospitality of the Salvation Army's "Homeless Drop-in". Whilst pouring him tea (I was on the "tea/coffee" counter) I asked if he was enjoying the weather (a gloriously sunny morning, hot in the sun even by 9am) he mentioned, as a kinda throw away comment, that he had to make an important decision today and the weather was the last thing on his mind. Despite that, I got the impression he wanted to talk so I pressed him gently by expressing interest - a slight lilt in my voice and a raised eyebrow - he muttered something about "jacking it all in"... I was intrigued (concerned), so I asked him about it. He said he had to go to Court this afternoon to decide whether to go to prison or a hostel and drug rehab'. He expressed disappointment with the drug rehab' system having been through it, still in it, and still not off drugs. I opined that there are lots of services these days through the Prison Service for drug rehab' and for ex-prisoners. He looked thoughtful and went to a table.

A while later, spotting him in the carpark presumably for a cigarette, I called my colleague, M over (who took the photos at Mass today) and asked him to stand-in for me for a few moments. I went out and introduced myself properly to B who seemed pleased in the curiosity I expressed about his dilemma. He just wanted someone to listen. Basically, he'd been on Methadone and living in a hostel in the hope of overcoming his drug addiction. For some reason (I didn't ask) he was to be in Court today to make a choice about his sentencing for some misdemeanour, whether to carry on at the hostel or go to prison...

I didn't press him as to the charges, he was there to be received charitably, not to be judged and so we discussed the nature of the options open to him. I asked him what he thought the options were... in his own words, he said he'd come to the conclusion that prison was probably the better option for a proper detox to get "clean". I opined that a daily regime, square meals, medical assistance and access to courses, the internet etc and post-prison assistance (like NACRO) had obvious advantages... "So what's the alternative?" I asked him. Staying in the hostel with other Methadone/drug users and feeling unable to break free from it all, with a support group that hadn't yet proved useful to him, was his reply. Carefully and gently I pointed out that prison, though not normally a prefered option for most voluntarily, seemed to offer definite advantages... he seemed cheerfully to agree, even stating he'd been in before and didn't think it was all that bad (again, I didn't press). 

He didn't stay for lunch, his Court appointment was at 2pm. I don't know what happened, but I will certainly pray for him and hope you will too? I know there are many arguments about prison overcrowding etc but it seemed to me, and it appeared to seem to him, that prison was perhaps the better option. He expressed a definite frustration with himself and a clear desire to change his life.