Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I could not resist posting this:

What are churches for?

We have recently had our little church redecorated. While this was going on we decided to take the opportunity to rationalise the notice boards. Our church is tiny. The attendance at the single weekly Mass varies widely between 45 and 80, rising to about 115 at Christmas and Easter. Yet we had six (6!) notice boards, two of them almost the size of a normal door. And they were always full. The photographs are not of our boards but give the idea. In our village of 2,000 people there is an official village notice board in a prominent position, two external boards and several internal ones at the Anglican Church, which every one has to walk past, two at the post office, another at the car park, and several at the village shop.

So I was a little surprised at the reaction of some people to our decision to have one notice board in the entrance porch, ( behind the door) and two more at the back of the church proper. Comments ranged from "It's not just about having a neat and tidy church it also about communicating with one another and being welcoming", or " Yes I know it looked untidy from the street but at least people knew there was a lot going on in the village", "We can't just confine it to a few notices about Catholic things, can we?".
There is definitely an English disease which we might call Noticitis. I am convinced that if we were to cover the entire back wall of the church in cork it would be completely covered with fluttering paper by the end of the week. Why?

Not everyone thought it was a bad idea to cut back the notices and it is not exactly splitting the congregation down the middle, but I just thought it brought to the surface some very interesting conceptions of what the church was for.

To me the church is where I come to worship God and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and also the place where we are privileged to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a sanctuary of peace and calm, where one can go to pray quietly.

But it seems to me that we have replaced those things that were thought of as traditionally Catholic, processions, devotions, exposition, stations of the cross, confraternities, etc with an endless succession of good causes, social justice issues and environmental campaigns. Having jettisoned those things which made us feel good about the state of our souls it seems we still need ways of appeasing our consciences.

Just me rambling really

Monday, 27 October 2008

Well it might work.....

I also found the above image via the Oxford LMS rep.'s blog.

A Riposte to Dr. Dawkins.

I don't really know what all the fuss is about Dawkins. I have read two of his books. They are exceedingly dull, operating at a very low level of intellectual argument. The man IS a fraud.
I found the above picture on the net but I can remember where, but I thought it worth reposting it.

Oxford Martyrs.

On Saturday I tootled over the hills, through misty autumn sunshine to the city of dreaming spires to honour the memories of four Catholic men who died for their faith in 1589. Fr. George Nichols, Fr. Richard Yaxley, Thomas Belson and Humphrey Pritchard were arrested in the inn known as the Catherine Wheel and eventually sentenced to death. They were hanged, drawn and quartered on what is now the busy junction of Holywell street and Longwall Street.

They were very gruesomely put to death, first Fr. Nichols and then Fr. Yaxley, who embraced his brother priest's body before being put to death himself. They were verbally abused and taunted by the crowd and even after dismemberment had their disembodied heads, which were impaled on the nearby castle wall, disfigured by zealots. The last to be executed was Prichard who was a simple serving man. As he mounted the scaffold he called out, "I call you all to witness, in the presence of God and his holy angels, that I am a Catholic and that I am condemned to die for the confession of the Catholic faith; I die willingly."

The Mass was exceedingly beautiful and was probably the first Solemn High Mass to be offered in Blackfriars since the liturgical changes. It was also exceptionally well attended. I arrived at 10.20am for an 11.00 start. The church was already half full. By 10.45 am they were putting out the plastic chairs and even then at least 30 had to stand. It was very notable that there were many young people and a wide spread of social and ethnic backgrounds. The Mass setting was Victoria's Missa trahe me post te and we had Tallis' Salvador Mundi, sacerdotes Domini by Palestrina and a polyphonic Salve Regina also by Victoria. This and the proper was sung by a choir called Cantores Missae, which was apparently drawn from several professional choirs. In terms of the rubrics not everything was perfect. That pesky gospel procession went wrong, ( as it did at the Cardinal's Mass at Westminster), on a number of occasions both deacon and subdeacon did things at the wrong time, and the servers left the sanctuary during the singing of the Salve. I'm not sure anyone really minded; it was such a special and moving occasion. We all knew why we were there.

The Mass was followed by a procession to the site of the martyrdom where a plaque was blessed by Bishop Kenney, who had earlier given a quite hard hitting homily at Mass which it would be unfair of my to try and paraphrase. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given back at Blackfriars.

I did not stay for the procession or benediction. Parking in Oxford is HORRIBLE! Having got a parking ticket for being three, (3!), minutes late on a recent occasion, I wanted to take no chances. On arrival in Oxford I went to the underground car park beneath the bus station, five minutes walk from Blackfriars. It charged more than £3 an hour, the machines accepted only coins and you could not pay with a card. Back to St. Giles' where it is 2Hrs no return, I thought I remembered it was three. The streets of Oxford are patrolled by literally swarms of traffic demons issuing tickets at the slightest opportunity. After Mass having tried to move the car, not finding a space, and ending up a a maze of one way streets I gave up and went home.

Christmas is coming....

St. Michael's Abbey at Farnborough has a very nice selection of Christmas cards. They are designed and printed by the community and I think they are just the right kind of thing: simple, tasteful, restrained in colour, very much in the style of woodcuts and redolent of monastic tradition. And quite a few have Latin inscriptions. Ideal for keeping the real festive spirit alive.

You can order them on line at the Abbey Shop which also has a great selection of books incl., Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described by Fortescue et al., at a reduced price.

I was pleased to note the following, " we have been inundated by by requests for books, altar cards, and other items associated with the 1962 Missale Romanum".

Here's a link to the shop: http://www.theabbeyshop.com/

Saturday, 18 October 2008

By Way of Contrast.

Apparently a group of 25 women, including some who seem to believe that they have had themselves ordained, marched on the Vatican chanting " Ordain Women NOW!!". They wanted to present a petition but there was nobody available to accept it so they ended up giving it to one of the Swiss Guards.

I've just been out for a walk with The Hound.

A Sight to Gladden the Heart.

I wish I had seen this photograph when I heard a priest recently preach on the need to accept that the church of the future would be without priests because there were no young men coming forward. He regarded this " fact" as the work of the Holy Spirit in shaping the church. We the laity are apparently to run things from here on. The one thing he did not suggest is that we should pray, and pray hard, that we may be sent priests, and that young, and not so young, men will give themselves to Christ.

That's the FSSP anniversary celebrations in Rome BTW.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

For anyone following the interesting events unfolding around the plans to re inter Cardinal Newman in the Oratory at Birmingham and anyone thinking about attending the special Mass to be celebrated there on Sunday November 2nd there is now a website through which you can keep up to date.

Please note that it is necessary to have a ticket to attend the main Mass and that these, ( one for each person attending), can be applied for through the website, or the form downloaded and posted.
The website is as follows http://www.newmancause.co.uk/

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Brideshead Moment.

Our little church is to be redecorated starting tomorrow morning. So this morning after Mass we set about putting away anything movable. The tabernacle was emptied and the sanctuary lamp put out. All the statues, candles, flowers, hymnals and even the large crucifix above the altar were removed.

It was quite moving. Within half an hour it had been transformed from God's house into just a oddly shaped building. I think it brought home to several of us how very privileged we are to have the Blessed Sacrament present amongst us.

That time of year.

I had to go to Worcester the other day. I'm a complete scatterbrain; I needed to retax the car but had lost the logbook, so I had to go in person to the DVLA! I stopped on the way back and snapped this picture.

Freshly ploughed earth, turning leaves and Autumn sunshine on the Malverns. It was icily cold. I almost froze to the spot. When I got back in the car the thermometer was reading an outside temperature of only 3.C

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Splendid English Choral Music at Tetbury.

As part of the Tetbury Music Festival there will be a concert tomorrow evening, Sunday October 5th, at 5.00pm in the parish church, ( Anglican). It will feature the very highly regarded Gabrielli Consort conducted by Paul McCreesh, singing a selection of religious music with a strong emphasis on that remarkable generation of composers of the late Catholic period in England. The programme explores the ideas around pilgrimage as a metaphor for the souls journey into the afterlife. Along with some chant, In Paradisum, Ave Maris Stella, the programme includes the following: In Ora Mortis Nostra, by Thomas Tallis, Ave Maria by Robert Parsons, Christe qui Lux es et Dies, by Byrd, Media Vita Morte Sumus, and In Pace in Idipsum both by John Sheppard. It then moves on to more modern pieces with similar themes: a Nunc Dimittis by Holst, ( written for Easter at Westminster Cathedral in 1925), Take him Earth for Cherishing by Howells, Song for Athene by Taverner,( familiar from Princess Diana's funeral) and the lovely Hymn to the Virgin by Britten, ( written when he was only sixteen).
The Gabrelli Consort is one for the really top rank of professional choirs singing today and have made numerous recordings, including several liturgical reconstructions, but I have always found their style to be very full bodied and fairly robust, and it is certainly interesting to hear this great music sung in this way. I am sure there are still a few tickets to be had from the tourist office in Tetbury tel. 01666 503552 or from the door in advance on the day.
Two things to note, they do actually light all the candles in the chandeliers which is lovely, and secondly the box pews are without doubt the most uncomfortable I even had the misfortune to sit in for long. The seats in the balconies are a little better but the acoustic is not so good.

Architecturally Tetbury church is very interesting in being an example of the very early Gothic revival, creating a large open space with very high open arcades. The Victorians could not cope with it and inserted a chancel screen and reredos which were ripped out some time towards the end of the 20th century. The chancel is now rather bare with a free standing table altar and some chairs in a line along the flat east end. I might be wrong but I have a feeling they may have copied this from the Catholics, ( just a thought).

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Petition against extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

I have been asked to publicise the following and am more than happy to do so:


New Mass Location.

As and from October 9th., Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be offered each Thursday at 6.00pm in St. Gregory's Church, St. James' Square in the centre of Cheltenham. The location could not be more convenient and there is ample parking nearby. ( Do it legally! Cheltenham is a writhing pit of venomous parking attendants.)
I think it is very nice to see the Traditional Mass returning to the main Catholic Church in the town. Things are already pretty good there; last time I attended the N.O. Sunday Mass the whole congregation sang the ordinary completely in Latin.

There will be no Mass on October 30th, but will resume on November 6th.