Saturday 31 May 2008

Ad multos annos

We are deeply blessed in the Adur Valley to have, in addition to my own feeble ministrations, the help of two now-retired priests, Canon Brian O'Sullivan and Father Anthony Lovegrove. They were ordained on the same day, 31st May 1958, and so today they celebrated their Golden Jubilee together with a Mass at Steyning, in the Adur Valley. None of our own churches were big enough for the crowd that gathered, and so the Rev. Paul Rampton, vicar of Steyning's large Norman Anglican Church, built on the site where Saint Cuthman built that first church so long ago, generously permitted us to celebrate the Mass there (the second since the Reformation—the first being Canon Brian's 40th). Our bishop, Kieran Conry, presided, and said in his homily some words that touched me very much—I won't tell you what they were, but I found them very supportive in a rather difficult situation we have to handle in the Valley right now. Many parishioners will know what I mean. Another bishop, Bernard Longley (formerly a priest of this diocese, and now an auxiliary in Westminster) also concelebrated, and, to my surprise, even sang the psalm—a liturgical practice not, perhaps, foreseen by Fortescue and O'Connell. Another priest of the diocese, Canon John Stapleton also was present, celebrating today 61 years in the priesthood.
Many parishioners, especially from the Steyning end of the parish, pulled together to make a splendid celebration: a great deal of work went into it all (all arranged by the jubilarians themselves as they wanted) and the result was prayerful and joyful.
It did, however, fall to me, as Parish Priest, to offer congratulations, and toast the jubilarians, ad multos annos, and I said that I, at 19 years in the priesthood, already felt long in the tooth, and was awed to silence at the contribution of two sets of 50 years. On the day they were ordained, my own parents' wedding still lay eleven days away. And yet, considering their joint hundred years of priesthood—well, you only need twenty of these periods to be back in the time of our Lord. We presented each jubilarian with a new set of breviaries: Canon Brian's Great Dane having taken too literally the advice to 'read, mark and inwardly digest' his former set, and Father Tony still being on his original 1975 set.
Please remember them both in your prayers.

Car Hire

I'm off to Ireland to see an aunt for a couple of days; when booking my flight and my car, I came across this intriguing page on the Hertz car rental site.
Notice anything?

The Alfa Romeo costs less than the Nissan Micra!

Friday 30 May 2008

Hortus Conclusus

I've been rather admiring of Fr Zs photographs of the Sabine Farm. This is nothing to match, but I can't help loving my little flint-and-old-brick enclosed garden. This is, too, a lovely time of year, though the sunshine today is a bit half-hearted.
For the first time in fifteen months, I have no primroses! The plants seem to have finally decided to give themselves a bit of a break and behave as normal primroses do.
The bottom bits of the walls we think are old; there is a wall on this site from a map of the town from the 17th century. Flint is the local style here in Shoreham, and very pretty it looks on a sunny day.
I do have another problem; there are about eight cats who live in John Street, and all of them use my garden as their toilet! They never let me catch them at it, otherwise it would be waterpistols at dawn. Any suggestions? Besides getting one of my own, I mean—I'm allergic to moggy fur. And though I'd really love to get a dog again, I really don't have the leisure to be fair to it. A dog is high-maintenance, after all, though infinitely worth the pains if one can spare the time.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Lauda Sion

Does anyone know a versified English version of this sequence? It seems a shame to recite the sequence at the main Mass, and the Gregorian Chant is beyond what our choir are able (or willing) to do. On Sunday, a reader objected to even reading the shorter version, on account of its 'archaic language'.

International politics and cup size

The cult of celebrity seems to be going further and further. On serious issues, the opinions that hit the headlines seem to relate directly to chest size and, presumably, thus have influence on people who (can) vote. Here's one from Sharon Stone on being asked whether she had heard of the situation in China (earthquake &c): you can read the full piece here. To her intellectual credit, she didn't ask where China is, but said:

Of course. You know, it was very interesting because at first I am not happy about the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans, because I don't think anyone should be unkind to anyone else, and so I have been very concerned about how to think and what to do about that because I don't like that.Then I have been concerned about, oh, how shall we deal with the Olympics? Because they are not being nice to the Dalai Lama, who is a good friend of mine. And then this earthquake and all this stuff happened and I thought, 'Is that karma, when you're not nice that the bad things happen to you?'

Profound stuff! I can see a Nobel peace prize coming up. Incidentally, this is just about the only photo of Ms Stone that I could find in which she is (relatively) decently dressed.

Dolce far niente

I am reminded of Edmund Burke's famous dictum;
'For evil to triumph, it is only necessary for good men to do nothing'

The White Stone Name Seeker compares the situation in England and Wales over the Church and the recent bill to the Church of first-century Laodicea, where, she surmises, it was precisely this laziness that God condemned in the Apocalypse.

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ¶ “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. (RSV)

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Eulogies and Panegyrics

I noted, a few posts ago, the passing of Bernadin Cardinal Gantin. On Thursday, I must celebrate the funeral of an old friend, perhaps the last person I shall know with memories of pre-revolutionary Russia (there can't be many left), and the parish priest of her parish (very correctly) reminded me of the Church's forbidding of eulogies at a funeral.
This is often a difficult one: my reading of the law is that a eulogy must not replace the homily of the Mass (on the Christian understanding of death &c), but this need not preclude some account of the deceased person being given outside the Mass, which is to say, before the commendation, in addition to a homily after the Gospel. One remembers that at a Requiem in the Extraordinary Form, the address (traditionally a panegyric) is given at the end of Mass.
I was very interested to see on the Whispers in the Loggia site that the Holy Father had given a very explicit eulogy/panegyric at the funeral of Cardinal Gantin, and at the end of the Mass. What I don't know was whether there had been a homily also.
The forbidding of a panegyric by the priest is a good idea, for all sorts of reasons, but at the same time one cannot help feel that it helps the mourners to have their loved one's life directly addressed in some way, and very often this does come best from somebody who knew him or her in life. I'm relieved that the Holy Father thinks so too.

Monday 26 May 2008

As never seen before…

With many thanks to The Deacon's Bench, here's an interesting sidelight on a notorious historical figure. He obviously chose the wrong career.

Knox knocked back

It now appears that more Catholics attend Mass in Scotland than Presbyterians attend the Kirk, according to Scotland on Sunday. The same article attributes the bolstered Mass attendance and also the increase in vocations to the presence of a large number of Poles: the former is surely true, but I would have thought that the increase in vocations is due more to the forthright action of the Church in Scotland and its high-profile involvement in public life. It seems to me that Cardinals Winning and O'Brien have taken the moral high ground in dealing with the Scottish Parliament, leaving the Kirk standing. It must indeed seem that Scotland's Catholics are taking the initiative and playing a real part in public life in a very positive way. I wish our English hierarchy would be similarly courageous.

Sunday 25 May 2008

Just so you can see…

This was our procession in 2006. This is the old canopy that had been damaged, but with the B&Q improvised poles.

Saturday 24 May 2008

On Canopies

I saw from the photos on Fr Ray's blog that the Blessed Sacrament canopy has, from last year, made a reappearance at Arundel. I seem to remember that it had disappeared 'on the grounds of health and safety'.
Fr Tim, on his blog, laments that Blackfen lacks a canopy and must needs make do with an ombrellino.
Here, we had a canopy, but it had been put away wet after the last procession in about 1967, and the silk had perished. The poles, too, had gone missing. But what we discovered is that…
Canopies, unlike canapés, are pretty easy to make. You need a double bedspread-sized piece of good cloth (if you've a branch of Dunelm Mills near you, as we have, you can get a nice gold-coloured damask very reasonably). Square is a good shape, as it makes it much easier to process around corners if the bearers can simply turn themselves without turning the canopy. You need to line it heavily, make four holes about 8 or 9 inches in from the corners, and reinforce them. You should be able to get fringing at the same place, if you're into that.
Now go to B&Q and get four 3 metre lengths of shiny imitation-brass pipe and four of the sort of knobs one shoves into the end of curtain rails. All you need now is to find a way to prevent the canopy slipping down the poles. I have not yet worked out a permanent solution, but several rubber bands wound round near the tops of the poles seems to work fine.
And all of this should take one or two people very little time to do.
And now all you need is to invite a community of enclosed sisters into your parish, build them a convent, and ask them to get embroidering.

Thursday 22 May 2008

Getting Priorities Right

The UN is acting decisively to counter the tragedy in Burma. This isn't the starvation problem, or the exposure problem. No, it's something far more basic and urgent (as no doubt Cherie Blair would confirm after her tragic Balmoral experience) — the need for sex without the complication of risking the tragic possibility of a child being born. So the UN is about to dispatch to Burma 220000 condoms to stave off this major humanitarian disaster. Read about it here.

Saturday 17 May 2008

How to build a church

On the New Liturgical Movement blog, I found this YouTube video about the new shrine of our Lady of Guadaloupe in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. If you go to the NLM page here, you can find some more recent photos, too. The video is about 10 minutes; you won't notice the time go.

I want one.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Rubbing my eyes

Thanks to a tip-off on the New Liturgical Movement, I discovered these recent words of Cardinal Noe:
Ora bisogna recuperare, e in fretta, il senso del sacro nell’ars celebrandi, prima che il fumo di Satana pervada completamente tutta la Chiesa. Grazie a Dio, abbiamo Papa Benedetto XVI: la sua Messa e il suo stile liturgico sono un esempio di correttezza e dignità”.

Now we must rediscover, and quickly, the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi before the smoke of Satan utterly pervades the whole Church. Thanks be to God, we have Pope Benedict: His Mass and his liturgical style are an example of correctness and dignity. (my translation).
Can this really be the same Cardinal Noe who undertook the reordering of all the side altars in St Peter's, who had the Altar of the Chair smashed up, who would remove the cruets from the altars of priests whom he deemed to be attempting to celebrate the Traditional Mass……?

Is this another Vicar of Bray, or a real conversion? We must pray that it is the latter. The rest of the article repays reading, if you can read Italian. Find it here.

Cardinal Gantin RIP

Cardinal Bernadin Gantin has died in Paris. May he rest in peace. He was in some ways the natural negotiator with Archbishop Lefebvre, having known him in Africa before the Council, and if anyone could have achieved something, it would have been he.

The Times on Line has a good piece about him.

This is from the CNS site, from the time of the last conclave:

Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Dean emeritus of the College of Cardinals, was born on 8 May 1922 in Toffo, archdiocese of Cotonou, Benin.

Cardinal Gantin’s name means tree of iron on African land, and always his people and his land have been and are present in his life. Son of a railroad official, he finished his school studies in Dahomey, in what is today known as the People's Republic of Bénin, and where in 1861 the first Christian missionaries arrived. The main Christian centre was in the city of Ouidah, and from there it spread throughout the whole territory. A strong thrust toward Christianity came with the experience of many slaves deported from the country to the plantations of Latin America, the majority of whom upon their return to Africa were witness to the strength and hope they had received from the Gospel.

In 1936, he entered the minor seminary in Bénin. On 14 January 1951, he was ordained a priest in Lomé in Togo by Archbishop Louis Parisot and was chosen as a teacher of languages at the seminar. At the same time he dedicated himself intensely to pastoral work in a group of villages and from this experience acquired a great love for the pastoral apostolate.

In 1953, leaving his heart in Africa, he was sent to Rome to study at the Pontifical Urban University and then at the Lateran. He received a licentiate in theology and in canon law.

On 11 December 1956 he was elected titular Bishop of Tipasa of Mauritania and Auxiliary of Cotonou and was consecrated on 3 February 1957.

On 5 January 1960, John XXIII promoted him to Archbishop of Cotonou when his old teacher, the ailing Archbishop Parisot, felt it was time to hand over his flock to the one who could take on the enormous work of the apostolate. His prowess as a pastor was demonstrated in a number of areas: he subdivided the diocese to adapt more effectively to individual situations; he promoted the founding of schools; he vigorously supported the activity of catechists and of indigenous sisters; and, particularly concerned with the problem of priestly vocations, he underwent many sacrifices in order to maintain seminarians and priests of the diocese in their studies.

President of the Episcopal Conference of the region that included seven countries (Dahomey, Togo, the Ivory Coast, Alto Volta, New Guinea, Senegal and Nigeria), he was called to Rome in April 1971 as the adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, of which he became the secretary two years later.

From 1975 he was the Vice-President and then President of the Pontifical Commission of Justice and Peace and also Vice-President and then President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (1976-1984).

President Delegate to the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).

8 April 1984 until 25 June 1998, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

5 June 1993, Dean of the College of Cardinals. On 30 November 2002, the Holy Father accepted the request of Cardinal Gantin to be dispensed from the Office of Dean of the College of Cardinals and of the title of the suburbicarian see of Ostia, allowing him to return to his homeland, in Benin.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of 27 June 1977, of the Title of the Suburbicarian Church of Palestrina (29 September 1986).

Wednesday 14 May 2008


I see that the Holy Father is getting generous with the old indulgences again. That's a healthy sign. He's granted a plenary for those participating in the day of prayer for China on May 24th. I got this notice on the regular Zenit mailings:

HONG KONG, MAY 13, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is offering the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence to those who participate in the events surrounding the May 24 World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.
In a notice to parishes, the Hong Kong Diocese announced May 9 that at the request of Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop of Hong Kong, the Pope is making a plenary indulgence available to the faithful.
To receive the plenary indulgence, the faithful should participate in one of the solemn functions to be held May 15-25 in the diocese, as well as fulfilling the customary conditions.
Those who are unable to participate due to sickness or other grave reasons can also obtain the indulgence by uniting themselves spiritually with those present at the celebrations, offering their prayers and sufferings to the God of mercy for the Church in China.
"It is the wish of the Holy Father that the faithful will more and more yearn for and put into practice the supernatural virtues, especially faith, hope and charity, and that they will strengthen their communion with the Roman Pontiff, who is the visible foundation of the unity of the whole Catholic Church," the diocese said.
Benedict XVI proclaimed May 24, memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, a World Day of Prayer for the Church in China in his May 27, 2007, letter to Chinese Catholics.

Now, I think that this time of prayer is a very good idea, and I'd like to participate in some way. Since living several thousand miles from Hong Kong may be construed as a grave reason for me not physically participating in the celebrations, I wonder if I'd qualify for the indulgence?

Friday 9 May 2008


I have recently received quite a number of 'friend requests' on Facebook from people I don't know at all. Please don't think me rude, but I'm reluctant to accept such requests as they would reveal the names &c of people who really are my friends, and reveal notes left on my wall &c. If it is simply my memory that is faulty, you could remind me where and when we met &c by leaving a note on this blog saying 'not for publication' or whatever.
I'm sorry if this makes me sound like an old grouch; I'm flattered that nice people who read this blog would like to be friends, and no doubt if we meet one day, we shall be. But until then, please forgive my reticence.

God-free theocracy

Here are two accounts of the same event, which was the Cardinal's Westminster Cathedral lecture. Yet they could almost be describing two different occasions, two different people.

One from the BBC, here; '
Respect atheists', says cardinal'
and the other from the Guardian, here. 'Cardinal says Britain must not be a 'God-free zone'.

The BBC's approach is, I suppose, predictable—simply bad journalism, trying to make a story by taking a remark out of context—but it is nice to see the Guardian taking a more nuanced approach.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Genocide or not genocide?

Patriarch Karekin of the Eastern (non-Catholic) Armenian Church has passionately appealed in St Peter's square for the massacre of his people which took place in Turkey in and around 1915 to be recognized as true genocide. You can read about it here. The Holy Father also spoke strongly against the massacre, but he held back from using the G-word. The French lower house of parliament tried to introduce a bill to criminalize the denial of genocide of the Armenians, but the Senate blocked it. Similarly, President Bush has blocked a condemnation in the US legislature. The reason?
Well, it seems that there are two interest groups who resist labelling the deaths as genocide. One group is, of course, the Turks themselves. I should have thought that it could have been easy enough to heap the blame on the decadent Ottoman sultanate and say 'well, that was then; we, secular Ataturkists, are different'. But, it seems, they are not willing to go down that route. In fact, it is asserted that they have gone out of their way to destroy Christian monuments to bolster their claim that they are the original inhabitants of Turkey, and, incredibly, that there never were any Christians in Asia Minor. William Dalrymple in his book From the Holy Mountain (which I highly recommend) goes into this quite thoroughly.
You might care to take a look at the pictures; they are from Great Architecture of the World, a book that I received for my 16th birthday in 1977, and which was one of my favourite presents ever. I remember being fascinated by these ghostly ruined churches from the area of Lake Van—clearly very ancient, as the relief of David and Goliath shows. But I never grasped the significance of the last of these pictures, the one with the frescoes under the arch. For these frescoes or paintings to have survived in the open air like this, the church's destruction must have happened relatively recently. Turkey has begun to make some amends: the church illustrated at the top here, which has the David and Goliath relief, has been restored—though as a museum–by the Turkish Government. Read about it here, here (Western versions) and here (Turkish version).
I am told, though, that there is another group interested in keeping the g-word out of the Armenian context. This is some vocal Jewish groups, who feel that recognizing the Armenian massacre as a genocide will somehow detract from what they believe to be the uniqueness of their own holocaust. Whatever next, after all, might be recognized as an act of genocide? The Irish Potato Famine?
So I suppose it was for fear of annoying the Turks that the French held back from the g-word. No doubt it was the powerful US Jewish lobby that restrained Dubya.
The Holy Father has succeeded in annoying members of both groups during his pontificate already; perhaps he didn't want to exacerbate things.
But I really feel that the Armenians have been dealt with badly over this whole business.

In looking around the net for some more sites concerned with this issue, I have been rather unpleasantly suprised. I found a site that blamed the Jews for the Armenian slaughter, for instance, and on Google and Yahoo searches, there came up only one site that suggested that the Jews disapproved of the Armenian claim to Genocide status, this being the site of a holocaust denier. Perhaps some of you can come up with some links. Something is weird here.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

New ICEL translation

Those of you with long memories may remember a blog not infinitely removed from this one published the Ordinary of the new ICEL Mass, stating that it was going to be used in South Africa from the First Sunday of Advent. I have an update on this, thanks to the visit of some friends. Apparently, the SA bishops did indeed decree this, but then revised their decision, preferring to wait until the collects &c will be published, and therefore will introduce the new translation from the coming first Sunday of Advent, 2008. However, they have already been using parts of it for some time now in many—if not most—areas, including the 'I' version of the Creed.
On the other hand, here at home, an English liturgist who I know has expressed the hope that the present first year class of seminarians should be able to celebrate with the new version at their first Mass. That is another five years, folks.
The translation has actually been used already in this country; a gathering of Forward in Faith Anglican clergy used it for a service in Winchester last year—something which has left me a little bemused.

Saturday 3 May 2008


Please excuse slow posting: I don't seem to have any time these days. But once confirmations, first Holy Communions, Seminarians' exams &c are over, perhaps I'll be more prolix.