Friday 30 March 2012

Thank you

Thank you to Fr Z for the picture, but also to Miles (especially) and to Fr Terry, Sister Frances and Sister Breda, Deacon Richard, (nearly-Deacon) Stephen, and all the others who led a wonderful vocations evening in our parish last week.

Saturday 10 March 2012


I'm glad that the channels are still open, but the Vespers at San Gregorio today, at which both the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury assisted, produced two homilies in which neither had anything to say to the other, except polite acknowledgments.
The Holy Father. (in Italian)
The Archbishop of Canterbury.
Though, perhaps, in both bishops preaching about the witness of the Camaldolesi Benedictines, rather than self-consciously preaching about 'ecumenism', maybe rather more solid foundations are being laid.

Before Mass

I've been digging around in the Sarum books again, and have found this wonderful admonition attributed (sadly, doubtless inaccurately) to St Augustine. It is part of the preparation before Mass, a series of useful bits of advice to the pastor. Note particularly the verse beginning Estote breviloqui: excellent advice for those who tend to preach far too long.

And I wonder if St Augustine had the tune of Good King Wenceslaus going around in his head when he wrote this?

Incipit Dictamen beati Augustini de regimine sacerdotum

Viri venerabiles, sacerdotes Dei,
præcones altissimi, lucernæ fidei, 
caritatis radio fulgentes et spei, 
auribus percipite verba oris mei.

Vos in sanctuario Dei deservitis; 
vos vocavit palmites Christus vera vitis;
cavete ne steriles aut inanes sitis, 
si cum vero stipite vivere cupitis.

Vos estis catholicæ legis protectores, 
sal terræ, lux hominum, ovium pastores, 
muri domus Israel, morum correctores, 
judices Ecclesiæ, gentium doctores. 

Si cadat protectio legis, lex labetur; 
si sal evanuerit, in quo salietur? 
nisi lux appareat, via nescietur: 
nisi pastor vigilet, ovile frangetur. 

Vos existis vineam Dei propagare, 
quam doctrinæ rivulis debetis rigare, 
spinas atque tribulos procul extirpare, 
ut radices fidei possint germinare. 

Vos estis in area boves triturantes, 
prudenter a palea grana separantes. 
Vos habent in speculo legem ignorantes 
laici qui fragiles sunt et inconstantes. 

Quicquid vident laici vobis displicere 
sibi procul dubio dicunt non licere. 
Quicquid vos in opere vident adimplere 
credunt esse licitum et culpa carere.

Cum pastores ovium sitis constituti 
non estote desides sicut canes muti, 
vobis non deficiant latratus veriti
lupus rapax invidet ovium saluti. 

Grex fidelis duplici cibo sustinetur; 
corpore Dominico, quo salus augetur, 
sermonis compendio, quod discrete detur,
mundano cibario ne periclitetur. 

Ovibus tenemini vestris prædicare, 
sed quid, quibus, qualiter, ubi, quando, quare,
debetis sollicite præconsiderare; 
ne quis in officio dicat vos errare. 

Spectat ad officium vestræ dignitatis, 
gratiæ petentibus dona dare gratis, 
nec cuiquam fidei munera vendatis, 
incursuros gregibus lepra vos fiatis.

Gratis eucharistiam plebi ministrate, 
gratis confitemini, gratis baptizate; 
ut gratis accepistis, sic et gratis date; 
solum id quod fuerit vestrum conservate.

Vestra conversatio sit religiosa, 
munda conscientia, virtus virtuosa, 
regularis habitus a sit honorosa,
nulla vos coinquinet labes criminosa. 

Nullus fastus intima premat vestræ mentis,
gravis sit intuitus, habitus sit testis, 
nihil vos illaqueet curis inhonestis, 
quibus claves traditæ sunt regni cælestis.

Estote breviloqui, ne vos ad reatum 
protrahat loquacitas, nutrix vanitatum; 
verbum quod proponitis sit abbreviatum, 
nam in multiloquio non deest peccatum.

Estote benevoli, sobrii, prudentes, 
justi, casti, simplices et compatientes, 
hospitales, humiles, subditos docentes, 
consulentes miseros, pravos corrigentes.

Utinam sic gerere curam pastoralem 
possitis, et ducere vitam spiritalem, 
ut cum exueritis chlamydem carnalem 
induat vos Dominus stolam æternalem.

Wednesday 7 March 2012


In all the discussions regarding the new translation of the Missal, one item that frequently crops up is the discarded Missal of 1998.

What Fr Z calls 'bad old ICEL' worked very hard for several years to produce a new version of the Missal which went on to be approved by various episcopal conferences, but was then rejected in Rome.

Since the publication of our new 2011 Missal, many (especially on the Pray Tell site) have compared the 2011 version unfavourably to the unpublished 1998. Those who take this line usually have an advantage over mere mortals such as me, in that they have had experience, or at least sight of, the 1998 Missal, which has been kept as a jealously-guarded secret.
Some of the arguments go a bit like this:

Fred: I quite like the 2011 Missal.
Harry: Well you're clearly not a liturgist, Fred! Now, the Missal of 1998, which we spilt blood over, was far superior until some Dark Forces in Rome proved that they knew nothing about liturgy by rejecting it out of hand. All that work, binned!
Tom: Yes, Harry, you're right. What chance did we get to experiment with the 2011? We weren't even consulted, and we know about liturgy. The 1998 was tried out in all sorts of normative groups, ordinary parish situations, like the St Gregory Society, like the Bishops' Conference LGBT awareness Caucus. Every word was pored over, weighed, agonized over. And now this Mgr Moroney can sketch some ideas on the back of an envelope, and because he has friends among the Dark Forces, can have it imposed on the whole English-speaking world!
Fred: But I still like the 2011. It's a lot better than the 1975.
Harry: Hm; discuss. I don't agree; though I think that the 1975 certainly needed updating. It had far too much sexist language in it, and it is true that a lot of the imagery had been ironed out. That is just why the 1998 is so good.
Fred. I still like the 2011.
Tom: That's because you haven't seen the 1998. You are speaking out of ignorance. I have seen, used, the 1998, and it is simply wonderful. In fact, I was one of the writers.
Fred: Well, would you give me some examples?
Tom and Harry together: No!
Fred: No?
Harry: Certainly not! It is forbidden for non-initiates to see. You must simply take our word that it a much better translation. You must remain in ignorance until you are Enlightened by us.
Fred: Well, how do I become an initiate?
Tom: You have to become a Liturgist. You must go to music days, join the Society of St Gregory, write bitter letters to the press, join What If We Just Said No, take the oaths of secrecy.
and so on.

Well, all that changed for me this morning, because I found a link where you can download the whole 1998 Missal to your computer in pdf form. The veil of the temple has been torn, and all can see inside where, in my opinion, the Emperor is prancing around without many clothes on.

Don't get me wrong. Genuinely I can sympathize with those who worked for years on the 1998 Missal. It must have been galling and disheartening to have the thing rejected when so many had given it the green light.

But it really does belong to a different era. Essentially, the Ordinary is that of 1975 with some tweaks and corrections here and there. EP4 is substantially rewritten, and is actually quite nice, but the text strains painfully to be inclusive. There is an alternative version of the Our Father; the Lamb of God is substantially altered to make it match up to the frequently-used 'Communion-Song' style; quasi-litanic in form. In the rubrics, 'hostia' is rendered 'consecrated bread'; calix is 'cup' and 'patena' is 'plate':

The priest genuflects and takes some of the consecrated bread and the cup and,
extending them toward the people, says one of the following invitations:

After the completion of communion or after Mass, the deacon or another minister,
or, if there is no other minister, the priest, cleanses the plate over the cup and
then the cup itself, either at the side table or at the side of the altar.


Taking inspiration (I expect) from the Anglican liturgy, the acclamations after the Consecration have priestly lead-ins that differ according to which particular acclamation the celebrant wishes the congregation to use, losing in most cases the 'Mysterium Fidei' connection.

The collects aren't bad, actually, much better than 1975, and actually some of the ones I have looked at are preferable to the rather tortured ones in the 2011 Missal. You can find some side-by-side comparisons here, on the What If We Just Said Stuff The 2011 Missal site (useful; though it would have been more useful to have had the Latin alongside).

1998's texts and choices seem very much to come out of the Society of St Gregory school of liturgy. It really seemed, back in the 1990s, to be the way that liturgy was going, so the rejection of the Missal, and the publication of Liturgiam Authenticam must have seemed a real slap in the face. And you can see where comments such as 'Pope Benedict is not a liturgist' have come from.

I'm very glad to have been able to look at the 1998 Missal now. But if I had the choice, I have to say that I would stay with the 2011; our new translation isn't all joy for me—I do find it tortured from time to time, and sometimes inaccurate (simili modo, for instance, does not mean 'in a similar way' [though see the comments]), but in my view, on balance, it's much better than the 1998, and light years better than the 1975.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Good stuff

This is a lot of good stuff from Peter Kreeft.

Ideas are more precious than diamonds. The three most precious ideas I have ever discovered all concern the love of God.
None of them is original. But every one is revolutionary. None of them came from me. But all of them came to me with sudden force and fire: the “aha!” experience, the “eureka!” experience. They were all realizations, not just beliefs.
1. There Is Only “One Thing Necessary.” The first happened when I was about six or seven, I think. It was the first important conscious discovery I ever made, and I don’t think I have ever had a more mature or wiser thought than that one. I remember to this day exactly where I was when it hit me: riding north on Haledon Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets in Paterson, New Jersey after Sunday morning church with my parents. Isn’t it remarkable how we remember exactly where we were when great events happen that change our lives?
I had learned some things about God and Jesus, about heaven, and about good and evil in church and Sunday school. Like most children at that age, I was a bit confused and overwhelmed by it all, especially by what this great being called God expected of me. I felt a little insecure, I guess, about not knowing and a little guilty about not doing everything that I was supposed to be doing. Then all of a sudden the sun shone through the fog. I saw the one thing necessary that made sense and order out of everything else.
I checked out my insight with my father, my most reliable authority. He was an elder in the church and (much more important) a good and wise man. “Dad, everything they teach us in church and Sunday school, all the stuff we’re supposed to learn from the Bible — it all comes down to only one thing, doesn’t it? I mean, if we only remember the one most important thing all the time, then all the other things will be O.K., right?”
He was rightly skeptical. “What one thing? There are a lot of things that are important.”
“I mean, I should just always ask what God wants me to do and then do it. That’s all, isn’t it?”
Wise men know when they’ve lost an argument. “You know, I think you’re right, son. That’s it.”
I had perceived — via God’s grace, not my own wit, surely — that since God is love, we must therefore love God and love whatever God loves. I now knew that if we turn to the divine conductor and follow his wise and loving baton — which is his will, his Word — then the music of our life will be a symphony.
2. The Way to Happiness Is Self-forgetful Love. A second realization follows closely upon this one. That is, it follows logically. But it did not follow closely in time for me. Instead, it took half a lifetime to appreciate, through a million experiments, every one of which proved the same result: that the way to happiness is self-forgetful love and the way to unhappiness is self-regard, self-worry, and the search for personal happiness. Our happiness comes to us only when we do not seek for it. It comes to us when we seek others’ happiness instead.
It is an embarrassingly common lesson to take so long to learn, but most of us are incredibly slow learners here. We constantly try other ways, thinking that perhaps the happiness that did not come to us the last time through selfishness will do so next time. It never does. The truth is blindingly clear, but we are clearly blind.
The secret of love is not hidden, for “God is love,” and God is not hidden. God said through his prophet Isaiah: “I did not speak in secret, / in a land of darkness; / I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, / ‘Seek me in chaos.’ / I the LORD speak the truth, / I declare what is right” (Is 45:19).
Of course God’s secret plans, which we do not need to know, are hidden. And God’s infinite nature, which finite minds cannot know, is hidden. But the thing that we need to know, God does not hide from us. He offers it to us publicly and freely. Jesus invited prospective disciples to “come and see” (In 1:39). We are told by the apostle Paul to “test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thes 5:21).
This lesson is so well known that even a pagan like Buddha knew it profoundly, or at least its negative half. His “second noble truth” is that the source of all unhappiness and suffering (dukkha) is selfishness (tanha). All who teach the opposite—that selfishness is the way to happiness—are unhappy souls. “By their fruits you shall know them,” as Jesus tells us. Who are the happiest people on earth? People like Mother Teresa and her nuns who have nothing, give everything, and “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4).
3. “In Everything God Works for Good with Those Who Love Him.” A third shattering realization was that Romans 8:28 was literally true: “In everything God works for good with those who love him.” This is surely the most astonishing verse in the Bible, for it certainly doesn’t look as if all things work for good. What awful things our lives contain! But if God, the all-powerful Creator and Designer and Provider of our lives, is 100 percent love, then it necessarily follows, as the night the day, that everything in his world, from birth to death, from kisses to slaps, from candy to cancer, comes to us out of God’s active or permissive love.
It is incredibly simple and perfectly reasonable. It is only our adult complexity that makes it look murky. As G.K. Chesterton says, life is always complicated for someone without principles. Here is the shining simplicity: if God is total love, then everything he wills for me must come from his love and be for my good. For that what love is, the willing of the beloved’s good. And if this God of sheer love is also omnipotent and can do anything he wills, then it follows that all things must work together for my ultimate good.
Not necessarily for my immediate good, for short-range harm may be the necessary road to long-range good. And not necessarily for my apparent good, for appearances may be deceiving. Thus suffering does not seem good. But it can always work for my real and ultimate good. Even the bad things I and others do, though they do not come from God, are allowed by God because they are included in his plan. You can’t checkmate, corner, surprise, or beat him. “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” as the old gospel chorus tells us. And he’s got my whole life in his hands, too. He could take away any evil — natural, human, or demonic — like swatting a fly. He allows it only because it works out for our greater good in the end, just as it did with Job.
In fact, every atom in the universe moves exactly as it does only because omnipotent Love designed it so. Dante was right: it is “the love that moves the sun and all the stars.” This is not poetic fancy but sober, logical fact. Therefore, the most profound thing you can say really is this simple children’s grace for meals: “God is great and God is good; let us thank him for our food. Amen!” I had always believed in God’s love and God’s omnipotence. But once I put the two ideas together, saw the unavoidable logical conclusion (Rom 8:28), and applied this truth to my life, I could never again see the world the same way. If God is great (omnipotent) and God is good (loving), then everything that happens is our spiritual food; and we can and should thank him for it. Yet how often we fail to recognize and appreciate this simple but profound truth.
These are, I think, the three most profound ideas I have ever had. However, there is one idea that I have heard that I think is even more profound. It is Karl Barth’s answer to the questioner who asked him, “Professor Barth, you have written dozens of great books, and many of us think you are the greatest theologian in the world. Of all your many ideas, what is the most profound thought you have ever had?” Without a second’s hesitation, the great theologian replied, “Jesus loves me.”