Sunday, 30 September 2007

Out of Office

I'll be away for a few days, and may well not even have access to internet, so there won't be any postings, and I may not be able even to post your comments, which will have to await my return. Sorry.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tagged again…

Mac, the strongwoman, has tagged me. This time it's about blogging. Hm.

1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the
Novus Ordo?

Both. I celebrate the TLM once a week, and would do so more often if I could get away with it.

2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?

I walk around the corner to the church.

3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be?

A priest and a sinner.

4. Are you a comment junkie?

No, not really. Now and then.

5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?

If I want to see whether there has been any responses.

6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog?

Very, very rarely, and only for some special reason.

7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?

Don't like to say, really. If I were on a biggie like Fr Zs, then I might feel more under pressure to blog more regularly.

8. Which blog is the first one you check?

Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke, Fr Ray, Fr Z at the moment, but I am fickle.

9. Have you met any other bloggers in person?

Fr Tim, Fr Ray, Fr Michael Brown, Fr John Boyle, Fr Nicholas Schofield, Fr Seán Finnegan, Fr Zuhlsdorf, Fr Michael Clifton, One of the Sisters of the Gospel of Life, the Orthfully Catholic seminarians, Mac the Mulier Fortis, Joanna Bogle

10. What are you reading?

Breviarium Romanum (extraordinary use), St Francis de Sales Treatise on the Love of God, Brown's Life of St Augustine, Asimov's Foundation (vol 1) (again). Just finished (again) Arthur Ransome's Pigeon Post.

Bonus Question! Has your site been banned by Spirit of Vatican II?

I'd love to be worthy of that honour. I love that site; others don't seem to have heard of it. Here's a link, and here's another similar site, the Gorebertines ( a new blog).

Zimbelsterns and Linden Trees

Today I assisted at a wedding in our local Anglican church (no, that isn't it in the picture—you'll have to read on); the groom, a practising Catholic, had obtained a dispensation to wed his Anglican inamorata there, and I was keeping our end up. The hymns were not outstanding, I'm afraid. The first was 'Lord of the Dance'—we had a version of it in the seminary which went:
I danced on the altar when the Mass was begun
I took my guitar out and had a damn good strum
I giggled and I gurgled and I waved both my arms
With modern liturgy you need have no qualms.
Dance, dance, it's modern liturgy!
And we'll all dance around on the sanctuary
And sing silly songs fit for kids of three.
So give three cheers for modern liturgy!

But that isn't the point I'm getting at today. When the chorus of the wretched hymn began (me pretending to enjoy it), I nearly jumped out of my skin: this extraordinary tinkling of little bells emerged from the organ. It was a zimbelstern!
Now, the organ I learnt on had a celesta stop—no, not a voix celeste, but chime bells—the instrument that one plays the dance of the sugar plum fairy on. That was pretty unusual, but I have never heard a zimbelstern in England before. It takes the form of a star shape on the front of the organ case which, when switched on, rotates and rings a set of little tinkling bells. Very charming. Sometimes the bells are tuned in D or G. I was taken right back to my first encounter with a zimbelstern.
It was my first (and so far, only) trip to Poland. Usually, people head straight to Cracow, but I had to be different; I went to Warmia, because I have a good friend in Olszytyn. That neck of the woods used to be East Prussia until the various ethnic cleansings which followed WW2. Now the population is nearly all Polish, though I got by now and then with my sketchy German. It was the area where the Teutonic knights held sway: they governed from the extraordinary castle of Marienburg, modern Malbork—an intact mediaeval huge fortress curiously built in brick. By coincidence, I have a parishioner from Malbork. Anyway, there is also a Marian shrine in that corner of Poland called Święta Lipka, or Holy Linden (or lime tree) (German name, Heiligelinde). Web site here.(though the photo link doesn't work; use this one instead). It is, as you might see, a lovely church, and a beautiful Madonna in that rather severe northern European way. But what did it for me was the organ.

It was made by Jan Jozue Mosengel around 1720, and it incorporates two zimbelsterns, which you can see on the photo if you enlarge it (just click on it), positioned on the towers at either side of the organ. They spin round gently, tinkling away whenever the organist pulls a lever. But that's only the start. All those figures that you can't see very well in this picture also move. The angels blow their trumpets, turning from side to side; the putti play. And, best of all, on the very top of the instrument is a very large pair of figures (more than 6') representing the annunciation. The archangel Gabriel bows low before our Lady, asking her to bear God's son, and Mary graciously nods yes back to him. The whole thing is very moving in more ways than one. The unexpected sound of a Zimbelstern today transported me right back there. I must suggest to our vicar that he invest in some moving statues for his organ. I wonder if Ballinspittle has some to spare?
I have a tape of the organ, including with the zimbelstern. I wish I knew how to post a track for you.
Another link to Święta Lipka here.

Something a ltltie dnerfieft

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

i fnoud tihs on a fcaeobok pgae.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Dowry of Mary

English Catholics will be familiar with the concept of England being entitled the 'Dowry of Mary'. You can read an interesting article about it by my friend Fr Peter Bristow here. English people have always been rather proud of this idea, and Mary has, rather gallantly, been held in reverence in this land.
One piece of evidence for this was the permission, gained by the English and Welsh bishops in the 1960s, to include the Hail Mary at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful ('Bidding Prayers'). I have always loved this custom, and so am most disappointed that now our bishops (why am I not surprised?) want us to discourage it. Our parish had a generally-useful day for readers a couple of weeks ago, led by a diocesan apparatchik, and the said chick waxed lyrical on the wickedness of putting our Lady into the bidding prayers. So, the following Sunday, the writers of the prayers left her out. Only once. It took a kindly but firm word from yours truly, and our Lady is back in the prayers. I would so love to be in communion of mind and heart with our bishops, but why must I choose between them and our holy faith? Now, a Hail Mary here or there is scarcely something to go to the stake for, I know, but couldn't they actually do something to build up, for once, rather than pull down?
And actually, any orthodox liturgical practice that has had an uninterrupted use for 40 years becomes, officially, a custom, and is protected in liturgical and canon law. So we have every right to use the Hail Mary as we are accustomed to.
As a postscript, a visiting friend the other day told me that the practice of saying the Hail Mary in the Prayer of the Faithful is increasingly being imitated abroad. I'd be very interested to hear some evidence of this, if any of you know some: please use the comments box. Thanx.

All things weird and wonderful

I have to say that I always found the notion of Our Lady of Surbiton a little comical. It brought to mind Penelope Keith and The Good Life. Upper-middle-class values, and everything in the most frightfully good taste.
But for the last twenty or so years, one Mrs Menezes claims to have had apparitions and, no doubt is perfectly sincere. But, first the Archbishop of Southwark (both the present one, Kevin McDondald and his predecessor, Michael Bowen) and now the Vatican have very great reservations about, well, not the sincerity of this group, nor their piety, but about whether this really does come from God. And now the Vatican have come down firmly against its authenticity. Fr Ray has posted a substantial piece about it.
I gather that one of their principal aims is to get aborted babies declared to be martyrs and set alongside the Holy Innocents. Clearly, the title of martyr would not be appropriate, because in no sense have these unfortunate babies died as a result of hatred of Christ nor of his Church, but for a number of other reasons, some understandable (though never sufficient), some not. And yet, Pope John Paul II himself widened the concept of martyrdom somewhat in declaring St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) a martyr. She died not because she was religiously a Christian (though of course she was), but because racially she was a Jew. She should have been canonized as a Virgin, and arguably a Doctor of the Church. But in any case, one sometimes gets the impression that Pope John Paul canonized as martyrs anybody who was killed by the Nazis—including vast swathes of Poles. A glance at any page of the new Martyrology will show that. Anyway, back to the movement known as Divine Innocence. Their symbol is not very nice, really—a crucified baby. Abortion is a shocking and brutal business, certainly, but I'm really not sure that this symbol is appropriate.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a group called the Army of Mary have also been condemned, and in this case, six nuns associated with them have also been excommunicated. In this case, their foundress believes herself to be the reincarnation of our Lady. You can read all about it here, courtesy of the Arkansas Catholic.

Now, I don't know what you think of all this, but these are only two manifestations of some seriously weird goings-on here, there and everywhere. In Ireland, statues are held to move in Ballinspittle, and to change appearance in Mellaray. On Achill Island, our Lord and our Lady are in regular touch with Christine Gallagher. Almost every country has these strange manifestations. Some take them to be a sign of the end times.
I, however, have a more prosaic explanation. Our religion has become so puritan in its outward appearence, that people who no longer are allowed the dramas of processions, novenas, 40 hours &c have to get it where they can. So they flock to these strange manifestations of the ?Divine? in order to pour out the devotion that once they would have given the Blessed Sacrament or the statue of our Lady in their own parish church. Secondly, the public expression of orthodox Catholicism has been so downplayed, that people have to get convinced teaching, real talk about God, where they can. And so the natural Catholic instinct comes out in strange lumps, because all the normal channels have been denied for so many for so long. This is just the normal human reaction to repression.
My guess is that these strange things will mostly vanish away if Pope Benedict gets his way in his grand scheme for the Church. Which is why we must pray for a long life and health for him.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Some good news from Qatar

The first ever Catholic Church in Qatar is to be built, dedicated to our Lady of the Rosary. More details here, courtesy of Asia News. Apparently the Emir Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani contributed the land, having been concerned in talks with the Holy See over many years. May God and our Lady reward him for this courageous gesture which could well leave him open to attacks from others.


According to a footnote on Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke blog, I read that Bishop Declan 'Crispian-made-me' Lang has decreed that no music whatever written before 1963 is to be used in his hearing. Ah, how good it is to live in this brave new liberal open inclusive Church, where everyone is made welcome!
'No friends—only strangers we haven't snubbed yet.'
The triumph of the West Country Catholicism-Free Zone moves another step closer. God help whichever poor man is appointed successor to Hollis, Lang or Budd. How is one ever going to begin to rebuild after all that these three are doing?
A young man I knew from the Bristol area began a few years ago to explore his vocation with the Clifton (Crispy-fried Lang's) diocese. He was sent to the vocations team, where one priest on the team, in the pub with all the potential seminarians (and, I believe, some then current seminarians), boasted of his homosexual conquests and deplored the Church's teaching in this area. Now, I think that this was an unhappy man, for he left the Catholic priesthood not long after (and the Catholic Church too). As for the young man I was acquainted with, fortunately he is made of sterner stuff than some others, and persevered with his vocation—though firmly in another diocese.

In the interests of fairness, I should add that I read on Fr Tim Finigan's blog that Bishop Budd has taken a measured approach to Summorum Pontificum, and not knee-jerked. This is very much to be welcomed from the man who once said to me 'for 500 years the Church was celebrating Mass in the wrong way; now it is celebrating the right way', and in the presence of the friends and family of a priest known for his love of the Traditional Mass, as he threw earth on his coffin: 'and that's the end of the old Mass in my diocese!' Well, we live in interesting times, don't we? It goes to prove the truth of the saying autre temps, autre moeurs. I'm very happy that Bishop Budd has decided to be moderately friendly. Despite what you have read in this paragraph, I think that at root he's a nice man, and when I knew him in the past, I personally liked him while deploring his opinions. I'd just like to see more effort to rebuild the faith in his diocese.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Colonel Blimp

Well, I've been called blimpish before, but this week I've been in a particularly blimpish frame of mind. I'm an avid Radio 4 listener (for you poor chaps and chapesses a long way from the the UK, that's BBC radio's generally intersting all-talk station—magazine programmes, quizzes, news, plays &c), but for the last few days, every time I switch on my radio, all I seem to get is discussions about vaginas, penises, erections, orgasms and other messy businesses. Perhaps this sort of stuff has its place (though in a married bedroom only), but I certainly don't want it in my car at 9.00am (no innuendos, please!)
9.00 am Old Age to Fortysomething
Kaye Wellings explores British sexual attitudes and preoccupations through anecdote and frank talking. What do we get up to in the bedroom and beyond, and how do we feel about it?
Yes, that's 9 in the morning, nor did I enjoy being promised that there'd be more at 11.30am:
Gay Times 13 September 2007
Tom Robinson explores the portrayal of homosexuality in the media.
He looks back from the late 1950s to the early 70s. Contributors include actor Murray Melvin, broadcaster Paul Gambaccini and author Maureen Duffy.
More at 9.30pm. At least some of the children will have gone to bed, I suppose. And all again next Monday and Thursday.
It's all about a series called 'The Sex Lives of Us' What a strange title; why not 'Our Sex Lives'. But why have it at all? Why right in the middle of the day?
But it isn't just these slots; it also gets into the other programmes too. Yesterday afternoon, at school chuck-out time (think cars full of kids with the radio on), I too was driving home, and as the subject of the usual discussion on health topics there was a horribly detailed programme all about erectile dysfunction, the relative usefulness of Viagra and Cialis, frigidness, menopausal 'loss of drive', testosterone patches &c.
'Mum: what's Viagra?'
Here's the blurb from the BBC website:
This programme looks at sexual dysfunction. Most people encounter sexual difficulties at some point in their life. Common disorders include loss of desire in both women and men, erectile dysfunction and inability to attain orgasm in women. Treatments depend on the cause of the problem and range from medication or surgery to behavioural psychotherapies.
Look, I'm not going to blimp on about this. It's just so, well, over the top, and out of place, that I'm rather disorientated, like the old surrealist joke:

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. Fish.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Mean Gits

There are still some out there!

The Archdiocese of Milan has determined that Pope Benedict's motu proprio on the use of the pre-conciliar Latin liturgy does not apply to the use of the Ambrosian rite there.

In an unofficial August 24 note, the archpriest of the city’s cathedral, Msgr. Luigi Manganini, informed all archdiocesan deaneries that the motu proprio pertains only to Latin-rite parishes in the archdiocese, not to the majority Ambrosian rite. According to Msgr. Manganini, there have been no new requests for the use of the traditional Ambrosian rite.

At the moment, there is only one archdiocesan Sunday Mass celebrated according to the traditional Ambrosian rite. Around 60 faithful from across the archdiocese attend this traditional Mass, which was suspended for the summer.

H/T to CWN

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Peter and the Lord

I wanted to include this picture simply because I like it: I think it might be in the Hofburgkapelle, Vienna. Shame about the altar, though.

The Holy Father at Mariazell

His Holiness celebrated Mass this morning at the great shrine of Mariazell, much beloved, by the way, of the wonderful Cardinal Mindszenty.
The couture—I'm not sure one can really speak of vestments—were by a prominent female clothes designer. The deacons look cute:
The priests look miserable in their seethru plastic chasu-gouls. I hate these Masses where priests, not even concelebrants, hold ciboria while the Holy Father says the words of consecration without him even being able to see these ciboria. I wonder whether the consecration is even valid.
And, the pièce de resistance: do not adjust your eyes; yes that is the Holy Father dressed up as a Ghanaian chieftain. He does look a little self-conscious, doesn't he?
And here's a wierdo from we-are-church concelebrating.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

What might have happened…

Fr Zuhlsdorf (whom God protect) has posted an account of an interview given by an American bishop, Victor Galeone, in which he seems to suggest that indeed there is a problem with priests saying Mass irreverently, but he seems to suggest that perhaps what ought to be done is to stop priests celebrating Mass irreverently, rather than bringing back the Old Mass.
The bishop said that he sees that it’s irreverence exhibited by priests that needs to be corrected, and that the solution is not found in bringing back the Latin Mass.
Bishop Galeone is far from being the only one to suggest this, most saying something along the lines of 'oh well, we all know we've lost a sense of mystery, but surely the Old Mass was all about gabble and non-participation'.
One cynically wonders, however, whether their Lordships would ever have thought it desireable to bring back a sense of mystery if there had not been a movement to bring back the Traditional Mass……