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Showing posts from August, 2013

New Secretary of State and confidentiality

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The big news today in ecclesiastical circles is that Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin as Secretary of State. Since the reforms of Pope Paul VI, this is now considered to be the most important position in the Holy See after the Pope himself. Personally I'd like to see a return to the Holy Office being the most senior dicastery, the "Suprema" with a pro-Prefect as head in recognition of the fact that the successor of St Peter is the real Prefect.

That is probably not going to happen any time soon, so congratulations to Archbishop Parolin. here is his statement on the occasion of his appointment and here, courtesy of John Allen, is a translation of the last interview he gave before being appointed.

Here are some biographical notes from Vatican Insider. These were issued before the appointment which was widely leaked to Vaticanisti and via them to the entire world. Although I like to speculate as much as anyone else, I think that this process of leak-the…

British Confraternity of Catholic Clergy Colloquium: bookings open

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The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, British Province of St Gregory the Great, now has the booking form available for the annual Colloquium which will be at at the Oratory School, Reading, from Tuesday 22 to Wednesday 23 October. Here are links to the Programme of the Colloquium and a brochure with booking form. (All inclusive £50 for the Conference. Annual subscription to the CCCB £20.)

The Colloquium is a great opportunity to meet with other priests. I will be going, and I do encourage priests who agree with the objects of the Confraternity to come. Speakers this year are:
Fr Francis Marsden - ‘The Priesthood under fire - Past, Present and Future’Father John Saward - ‘“Giving Wisdom to Little Ones”: St Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Little Way’Fr Jerome Bertram Cong. Orat. - ‘The Conversion of England’ These are three excellent speakers and I guarantee that they will all be worth listening to. I can also confidently guarantee that you will not be asked to share your feelings in a gr…

A special Simple Prayer Book for our troops

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The Catholic Truth Society have produced a special version of their Simple Prayer Book for the armed forces.

In case you are not from Britain, the "Simple Prayer Book" is one of the classic publications of the CTS which has sold squillions of copies over the years. I often recommend it when someone comes to confession after being away from the Church for a long time as it contains basic Catholic prayers, prayers for Confession and Holy Communion, a summary of the faith and many other useful things. A standing instruction for the pamphlet rack in my Church is that there must always be copies of the Simple Prayer Book available.

The Knights of St Columba have funded the production of 30,000 copies of this specially adapted version for the forces. On 15 September, at the Roman Catholic Garrison Cathedral of St Michael and St George in Aldershot, Bishop Moth (Bishop of the Forces) will bless a copy and symbolically hand it to a serving member of the forces.

CD 273: Competitiveness at work

We are under pressure at work to achieve targets and our results are made public as a way of encouraging us. This can give rise to some bad feelings between us: can my faith be of any help in this?
Competition is not a bad thing in itself and can be a way of encouraging people to work hard, but the intense atmosphere of some workplaces with public comparisons has an obvious downside in tempting people to deceit, jealousy and disloyalty to colleagues. Certainly our Christian way of life can be of help. First of all, at a management level, whilst competition is a motivator, the cohesiveness of a team is also crucial to overall effectiveness and better results. Backbiting in the office is not going to have a positive effect on the balance sheet.

If you are not in a position to change the overall ethos at management level, you can still try to promote a better work atmosphere by living the virtues opposite to the vices which harm relationships in your own team. Integrity, honesty, trustwor…

New Oratory for Brisbane

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A new Oratory is to be opened in Brisbane with the permission and support of Archbishop Mark Coleridge. (See The Brisbane Oratory in Formation.) There are currently three priests and a seminarian intending to form the initial community.

The priests will begin a community in formation possibly in late 2015 but probably not until early 2016. The priests will then have three years of formation under the guidance of a delegate appointed by the Procurator General of the Oratory in Rome. If all goes well, and subject to the approval of the local Ordinary, it will then petition the Holy See for canonical establishment as a Congregation of the Oratory. One of the clergy of the nascent community is Fr Paul Chandler whom I met at the Colloquium of the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in June. The others are not making their commitment public until nearer the time that the community comes together.

The seminarian is Shawn Murphy whom I met when he was helping out at the ACCC. He will s…

Litany of Syrian Saints

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In response to my post yesterday about Praying to St Ephrem and the Syrian Saints a reader sent me this Litany of Syrian Saints which he composed himself last night. Let us pray for peace in Syria and in the Middle East.

Litany of Syrian Saints
For private use only

Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe audi nos, Christe audi nos.
Christe exaudi nos. Christe exaudi nos.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Trinity, one God,

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
St Michael,
St Gabriel,
St Raphael,
All ye Holy Angels and Archangels,
St John the Baptist,
St Joseph,

All ye Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
Blessed Peter the Apostle, and first Patriarch of Antioch,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, born in Tarsus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, blinded and converted on the way to Damascus,
Blessed Paul the Apostle, enlightened and bap…

Forthcoming new film on Our Lady

Ignatius Press are releasing a film about Our Blessed Lady called "Mary of Nazareth." The above video is the official trailer. Fr Donald Calloway (an excellent chap) says:
The most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film. It will make you want to love her more than ever. An absolute masterpiece! Yes, my friends, I can assure you that we finally have a movie that gets Mary totally right! Trust me, I am super hard to please when it comes to any portrayal of Mary in film, but this one nailed it entirely! I suppose I would also be hard to please. One or two small things in the trailer started me reaching for Fr Stefano Mannelli's superb biblical mariology "All generations shall call me Blessed" (try this google search for various sellers.) Rather than nitpick, though, I want to be positive because it is always good to have new Catholic films: Lord knows we have enough anti-Catholic bias to complain about. I very much look forward to the release of the film o…

Praying to St Ephrem and the Syrian Saints

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There is a great wealth of sensible comment on the question of military intervention in Syria and I do not think that I can add anything particularly useful to what others have said on the question.

I thought instead that it might be useful to read the Syriac Fathers. Fr Freddie Broomfield used to use this as a euphemism for going to have a rest after lunch. I am sure that today he would recommend us to read them in our helplessness before the events that are unfolding.

The best-known of the saints of Syria is St Ephrem who wrote poems and sermons in verse to encourage his people in times of trouble, and particularly during the invasion by the Persians. Here are a few extracts from his Nisibene hymns. (I don't know Syriac so I have to rely on the translations at New Advent.)

A prayer for peace:
To whom on any side, shall I look for comfort, for my plantations that are laid low, and my possessions that are laid waste? Let the message of the voice of peace, drive away my sadness fr…

Blessed Dominic Barberi's wise advice on a vision

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Fr Dominic Jacob, of the Oxford Oratory, has been posting on Facebook today concerning his patron saint, Blessed Dominic Barberi whose feast day it is. I thought that this story was just too good not to share on the blog:
A woman once came to Blessed Dominic, claiming to have had a vision of the Father and the Son.

" At what time of day did this take place?" he asked her gently. "At 6pm " she told him. "And when did you dine?" She replied "at 5 o'clock Father", " and what did you have for dinner?" "Two glasses of port wine Father." "Well my child, next time have three glasses, and I promise you will see the Holy Ghost too." Father also posted earlier that Blessed Dominic's command of English was never that great and that he once told a group of nuns to whom he was giving a retreat: "Without face we cannot be shaved."

Presumably this is an Italian proverb that does not quite translate. It reminded …

Superb sermon by Bishop Gilbert welcoming Nashville Dominicans

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When the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was in the process of being formed, Fr Roger Nesbitt (a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark who has inspired many priestly vocations) describe them as "the cavalry coming over the hill." I was delighted to see Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen use the same image in his sermon welcoming the Dominican Sisters of St Cecilia from Nashville, Tennessee, who are establishing a new foundation in Elgin:
What is happening today?

I’m old enough to remember Westerns. And here we are, wagons drawn close, feeling our last days have come and our scalps about to be removed, when – lo and behold – the US 7th Cavalry appears over the hill. Here they are, armed not with carbines but rosaries. And we can breathe again. It was also good to see his echo of a point (made before, I think, by Cardinal Danielou):
Every renewal of the Church has had a renewal of religious life at its heart. It is a barometer of the general state of the Church at any giv…

Blessed Cyprian Tansi pilgrimage

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The Blessed Cyprian Tansi, who baptised Cardinal Arinze while a priest of the Onitsha diocese, became a monk of Mount St Bernard Abbey in 1950. Each year the Abbey has a pilgrimage in his honour. This year's pilgrimage will be on Saturday 31 August in the grounds of the abbey guesthouse, starting at 11am. The pilgrimage will include Holy Mass, Rosary Procession, Exposition and Benediction and end about 5pm.

Here is a link to a previous article with some information about Blessed Cyprian Tansi

For any enquiries, contact: monks@mountsaintbernard.org or 01530 810410

Ordinariate Sisters have a permanent home

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Some great news on my arrival home today. Here is the Press Release from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:
Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Move to Permanent Home

The new religious community of the Personal Ordinariate, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have a permanent home for the first time since they were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church on New Year’s Day. They are to move on Tuesday (August 27) into a convent in Birmingham which is the former home of the Little Sisters of the Assumption.

Mother Winsome, the Superior of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, said: “We are absolutely overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to live in this convent. We have prayed long and hard and the Lord has opened up this way for us. It is a gift from God.”

The community, established as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham adopting the Benedictine rule, includes eleven sisters who had been part of the Anglican Community of St M…

1066 and other things

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"... and all that" would be a cliche, though I have resolved to get the book and re-read it. Yesterday Fr Briggs and I surveyed the battlefield at Battle and took the longer walk all around it as well as visiting the ruins of the Abbey that King William built in reparation for all the slaughter of that decisive clash.



Today we climbed up to the keep of Lewes Castle and looked over the motte and bailey mound that was one of Williams first establishments to consolidate his position.

Tomorrow we'll take our customary stroll over Beachy Head. Here is a video from a previous visit.

Christians suffering in Egypt

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The Muslim Brotherhood are understandably angry after the killing of 638 people by the security forces of the military regime during the clearing of protest camps. However, as in Syria, the persecution of Christians is going largely unremarked.

Having given praise where praise is due, to Paul Burnell's excellent reporting on the Dome of Home, I cannot avoid taking up an issue regarding the BBC and that is the extraordinary silence concerning the burning of Churches in Egypt. Nowadays if you want some unbiased coverage concerning the persecution of Christians, you have to go to Aljazeera.

Deacon Nick Donnelly has a report from an Egyptian Christian listing Churches that have been attacked. Schools and orphanages have also been the target of violence. USA Today has an interactive map of various Christian institutions under attack. There is also a list with links to photos at The Blaze.

There are also reports of some Muslims offering their Friday prayers outside Churches to protect …

Excellent coverage of the "Dome of Home"

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The Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Philomena was given into the care of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, by Bishop Davies in a far-sighted decision which has restored the much-loved Church into use for sacred worship. The Church has been given a grant of £35,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. For a good and positive article on this at the BBC website, see: New lease of life for 'Dome of Home' in New Brighton.

The other day, I made flippant comments on Twitter and Facebook about a previous article that said that the Dome of Home was the only Catholic Church in England that regularly celebrated the traditional Latin Mass. In fact, the article was very positive, and I was only joking about a blooper at the end that was swiftly corrected, so thanks to Paul Burnell for his coverage both then and in the article above.

Although I am fanatically anti-BBC, I do benefit from being reminded from time to time that there are some fine people working away there and doi…

Amazing footage of clothing at Ladywell Convent

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This footage from 1962 was just too good not to share. (H/T newly ordained Fr Sam Davey who posted it on Facebook.)

"ac Nostra"

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Happy feast day! Let us praise and adore almighty God for the favour he has bestowed on us by calling the Virgin Mary to be the Mother of the Divine Word, by preserving her from all stain of sin from the moment of her conception, and by her consequent assumption, body and soul, to the glory of heaven where she is Queen of all the angels and saints. Let us thank God also for allowing her to be our Mediatrix, Advocatrix, Auxliliatrix and co-Redemptrix.

I liked the British Pathé video because of the clipped English accent of former days and the unaffected respect that the announcer has for the event even though he is presumably not a Catholic. (Though it doesn't have the formula of the proclamation.) You can see some other videos at Rorate Caeli. Unfortunately none of them has the all-important beginning of the magnificent formula:
auctoritate Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, Beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra pronuntiamus, declaramus et definimus divinitus revelatum dogma esse…

Getty, open content, and the Church

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Today, the Getty has announced the Open Content Program "to share, freely and without restriction, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible." See: Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come.

After a quick browse, I downloaded the above image of the Madonna and Child by "The Master of St Cecilia" (Italian, about 1290 - 1295, Tempera and gold leaf on panel.) On requesting a download, you have to choose from a small number of options in two dropboxes to indicate your use of the file. The download was 15Mb so I have re-sized the image to prevent the blog from being slowed down.

I find this sort of thing very encouraging. There really does need to be a re-think in the Church about "intellectual property" as we have seen with the ICEL copyright fiasco and, more recently, the recent really stupid hassling of Brandon Vogt and Fr Zuhlsdorf who gave their time and expertise to make the encyclical Lumen Fidei better known.

The Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The importance of mental prayer

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For young people wanting to deepen their life of faith, and especially for those drawn to a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life, one of the most important habits to develop is that of daily mental prayer. The term “meditation” can put people off because of its association with esoteric practices. Essentially we are talking about setting aside some time deliberately each day to pray in addition to liturgical worship: to offer that time to the Lord as a holocaust, to give it completely to Him so that we can raise up our minds and hearts to Him, speak to Him, and listen to Him.

Just to be clear, the liturgical worship is essential, of course, including at least some of the divine office, regular confession, and the sincere effort to break down habits of sin. I am not suggesting that those things are unimportant, but a time of mental prayer is indispensable.

St Ignatius of Loyola is sometimes said to have invented mental prayer. Here I disagree with my good friend Fr Ray Bl…

IOR ("Vatican Bank") new website

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The Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), in a very sensible move, has set up its own website to give basic information and act as a point of contact for the media. The IOR is often referred to as "The Vatican Bank" but strictly speaking it is not a bank because it does not use deposits to lend money. (The question of whether it should become a bank is one of those raised by Pope Francis.)

In the nature of the case, the website is not the most exciting in the world, though it does have a pleasant minimalist design. There is quite a lot of information and plenty of links to relevant documents. The media section collects together recent press releases for convenience.

The principal function of the IOR is to look after assets transferred to it by Catholic institutions. 85% of its assets under management are from Catholic institutions such as religious orders, dioceses and the Holy See itself.

When looking at large numbers, especially concerning the Church and money, it is …

40 Days for Life book

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40 Days for Life which began in 2004 in Texas has grown in England in recent years and is now a regular part of pro-life witness. David Bereit and Shawn Carney, together with Cindy Lambert, have collected 40 short stories from life to give encouragement and inspiration to pro-lifers and, let us hope, to those who are undecided.

The stories show how God has transformed lives. Mothers have changed their minds about abortion, those praying have deepened in their spiritual lives, and even abortion workers have been converted. I was glad to see the chapter "From boys to men" focussing especially on the responsibility of young fathers.

40 Days for Life: Discover What God Has Done...Imagine What He Can Do ("True stories from the Movement that is changing hearts and saving lives on prayer at a time") Published by Cappella Books 272pp hardback. the link will take you to Amazon.uk where the book is £13.12 and Kindle edition £4.99. Alternatively you can order the book via the

Mass at Blackfen with the Franciscans of the Immaculate

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Fr Giovanni Mannelli of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (the nephew of Fr Stefano Mannelli, co-founder of the Institute) came to Blackfen yesterday evening to celebrate Solemn High Mass for the feast of the Transfiguration. I was deacon and Fr Simon Heans of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was subdeacon. Father preached an inspiring sermon on the Transfiguration: this was quite a feat as English is not his first language but he managed very well. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate sang for the Mass and included a beautiful setting of the Ave Maris Stella at the end.

After Mass we had a gathering in the Hall which was a great opportunity for people to meet and chat to the sisters. As I said to them, their presence and their habits are a witness to the religious vocation. I was especially glad that lots of children got to meet the Sisters too: it is great that they grow up knowing that cheerful, kindly and devoted religious sisters are a normal part of Church life.

I …

Evangelium Conference Report

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I am very happy to pass on this report of the Evangelium Conference which took place last weekend:
Over one hundred young adults met deep in the Oxford countryside 2-4 August for the sixth annual Evangelium conference, designed to help Catholics explain and defend the Faith in the modern world. Delegates streamed away from the Oratory School, founded by the recently-beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman, enthused by top-class speakers and liturgical services of stunning beauty and dignity in worship of God. Participants expressed gratitude for the opportunities to make new Catholic friends, for the mutual encouragement in the Faith, for the chance to explore vocations and the commitment to holiness. One participant wrote in the feedback, “Never stop holding these conferences: you are making saints.”

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, as well as celebrating Mass for the second time in three years at the conference, spoke movingly on the great 19th century French saint, Jean Vianney, as …

New edition of Newman's "Tracts for the Times"

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The Catholic publishers Gracewing are continuing their important contribution to Catholic scholarship in publishing the Millennium Edition of the works of Blessed John Henry Newman. The latest volume is "Tracts for the Times" which includes those tracts written by Newman with the exception of a few that have already been published in the series.

During the period of the Tracts for the Times, Newman was still an Anglican and argued against Romanism which he then regarded as heretical, but the process of trying to defend an orthodox doctrinal position within the Church of England was instrumental in his conversion to Rome.

The papers in this volume include the fascinating "Thoughts on Alterations in the Liturgy", "Mortification of the Flesh, a Scriptural Duty" and Newman's defence of the Via Media which he later repudiated.

The volume is edited and annotated by my good friend Fr James Tolhurst whose doctorate was on Newman's understanding of the Ch…

Petition to Bishops to consecrate England and Wales to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the Bishops of Ireland would be consecrating Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in response to requests from the faithful. I suggested that someone might like to start up a similar initiative here.

Well there is now a petition asking the Bishops to consecrate England and Wales to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I encourage you to sign it, and to pray for our Bishops.

Age-limited Catholic events

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Various organisations arrange events for different age groups. In many cases this is uncontroversial; if an event is arranged such as the Faith Summer Break (coming up soon) for 11-15 year olds, it is unlikely that a 40 year old is going to be offended by being excluded. And I don’t have middle aged people complaining to me that they are not allowed to come to the toddlers’ group and play on the pretend police car.

In terms of sex specific groups we seem to have settled down. There is no push to have men join the Union of Catholic Mothers or the Catholic Women’s League and there seems to be peace as regards the Knights of St Columba being reserved to men.

Discontent does sometimes focus around groups for young adults. Typically the limit is 18-35. This is true of the Faith Summer Session, Evangelium and the London Oratory’s Young Catholic Adults group. People who have tripped over the age limit can be annoyed that they are not allowed to go. Since this is a regular complaint, I thoug…

Faith Summer Session 2013

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Yesterday John Deighan, the Parliamentary Officer for the Scottish Bishops' Conference, spoke at the annual Summer Session of the Faith Movement. The website of the Catholic Parliamentary Office has a regular newsletter and information about Catholic Social Teaching. John's talk was a hard-hitting examination of the state of society today and the need for the Church to be present in the public square against the attack on humanity.

The theme of the Summer Session is "Friendship with God - the Meaning of Following Christ" and features talks by priests and lay people of the Faith Movement on the person of Christ, the sacraments, prayer, the apostolate and Our Lady. In addition to Mass and parts of the Office, there is adoration each afternoon and plenty of social activities. The conference provides a great opportunity for priests to meet up, as well as seminarians. It was good yesterday to catch up also with families and friends who came for the day.

Above is the grou…

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