Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization Confirmed

In this perspective, I have decided to create a new organism, in the form of a pontifical council, with the specific task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first proclamation of the faith already resounded, and where Churches are present of ancient foundation, but which are going through a progressive secularization of society and a sort of "eclipse of the sense of God," which constitutes a challenge to find the appropriate means to propose again the perennial truth of the Gospel of Christ.

—Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at 1st Vespers of SS Peter and Paul, 28th June 2010

Domine, quo vadis?

In the Dominican Breviary, first Vespers of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul has the following Magnificat antiphon, which retells the famous legend of how, when St Peter thought to flee Rome at the Neronian Persecution, he met the Lord at the outskirts of the City, Who appeared carrying His Cross:.

As so often in confusion Peter had asked the Lord what He was doing during His earthly life, again he asked Him, Lord, whither goest Thou? and received the Divine reply, Peter, I go to be crucified again.   

At this implied rebuke, the Apostle turned and returned to Rome, there to endure death as a true witness for Christ, acting as should the disciple sent by so good a Master, taking up the Cross from Him, the Cross that he almost refused, but which the Lord as it were determined to carry for him.

Beatus Petrus Apostolus vidit sibi Christum occurrere, et adorans eum ait: Domine, quo vadis?  Venio Romam iterum crucifigi.

(Blessed Peter the Apostle beheld Christ to come to him, and worshipping Him said: Lord, whither goest Thou?  I go to Rome to be crucified again.)

This beautiful and significant incident, many times retold down the ages since its first appearance in the apocryphal Acts of Peter (late second century), tells us much about our Christian witness – if we cannot endure, the Lord strengthens us, since in true it is He Who bears our burdens and carries our afflictions.  The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of Christians only because it is Christ Who works in them, His members, Who suffers in them, that their mortal labours be of immortal merit for the building up of His Body, the Church.

There still exists a church built on the reputed site of this event.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A New Gregorian Reform

There is so much filth in the Church; how often is Jesus received into cold and empty hearts – thus the terrible words spoken by Pope Benedict just before his elevation to the Papacy, words so terrible because so true.

The filth and scandals of the Church indeed make the Bride of Christ appear more like the Whore of Babylon.  This but hastens the loss of faith that characterises the West – with more and more loss of faith comes more and more laxity of morals, the two compounding and speeding the rush into the abyss.

What is needed is a new Gregorian Reform.  Just as the mediæval Church was swept clean of clerical concubinage and all manner of compromise with the secular world of its day, so the same is very much needed now.

After all, what does the ongoing exposure of cases of clerical sexual abuse reveal, but that much that should have been resolutely punished and purged was instead indulgently covered up, to the terrible harm of the little ones of Christ?

There are priests living in open concubinage: in that Austrian diocese where the appointment of a new bishop was aborted, for example – a priest there openly boasted in the media of this shame.  There are priests who have not kept their vows, but have wallowed in the mire.  I speak not here of those who have gone so far beyond all decency as to commit crimes, but of those who have followed the way of the world.

The Catholic laity cannot be excused, for it were hypocrisy to condemn priests for being unchaste, when their flocks are full of fornicators, lovers of self-abuse and pornography, sodomites, those who have abandoned their spouses to take up with new partners, and the multitudes who contracept and abort.

A simple principle: if a doctrine or precept be not preached, it is not believed.

When was the last time, gentle reader, you heard a sermon or any other instruction that warned against these sins?

This principle is so frightening!  Yet I more and more believe it to be true.

Many bishops and their clergy are not so much dumb dogs that do not bark, as quite satisfied with the way modern mores promote all manner of immorality: they do not speak out against any vices, because they do not consider them wrongful, and in some cases wink at them, and even indulge in them themselves.

What the medicine for this gangrene?  In some cases, the diseased limb must be cut off: if more clergy were suspended, defrocked, or even excommunicated for their moral turpitude, it would be a salutary lesson for all.

Given the ongoing scandal of clerical sexual abuse, and the culture of wilful blindness if not culpable negligence, and even of actual cooperation in evil that it reveals, it will not be long before bishops not just priests go to prison, and rightly so.

Which local episcopate will be the first to thus fall; which local episcopate will be the first to be dismissed en masse?  One fears it may come to that soon enough.  The current goings-on in Belgium presage this.  Ireland will not be the only land needing an Apostolic Visitation, and not a smiling whitewash either, but a thoroughgoing exposure and rooting out of all perversion.

But of course, the true, lasting remedy is sound preaching that leads to conversion, a conversion expressed by repentance and confession, with the intention to go and sin no more.  For this, all orthodox priests must labour yet the more.  The example that truly converts is that of personal holiness.

All glory be to God for raising up Pope Benedict to begin the cleansing of the Augean stables; may the Lord inspire him and his successors to be new Gregories, that the Church may be restored to purity, for the salvation of all.

Lamentable Prayers

Accipe, Deus, Ecclesiæ tuæ lamentabilem precem...

(Accept, O God, Thy Church's "lamentable" prayer...)

Oratio post Nomina, Littaniæ ante diem sancti Martini episcopi (10th November), Mozarabic Rite

Augustine long ago warned incomers to the Catholic Church (remarks which groups of Anglicans may find helpful!) not to be put off by bishops and priests who preach without style, diction or grammar:
For thus they will not act the mocker if they happen to observe any of the prelates and ministers of the Church either calling upon God in language marked by barbarisms and solecisms, or failing in understanding correctly the very words which they are pronouncing, and making confused pauses. It is not meant, of course, that such faults are not to be corrected, so that the people may say Amen to something which they plainly understand; but what is intended is, that such things should be piously borne with by those who have come to understand how, as in the forum it is in the sound, so in the church it is in the desire that the grace of speech resides.
— St Augustine, De Catechizandis Rudibus, chapter ix

Notoriously, ever since the reformed Roman liturgy has been done over into English by ICEL, the poor paraphrase provided has been a scandal, hiding the pearls of doctrine under a rude appearance; alas, the dumbing-down of prayer has been matched only by the foul philistine music provided, whose texts are more suited to kindergarten or a campfire singalong than to the sacred liturgy.

Lay prayer, too, has been debased: from the perhaps saccharine effusions beloved of many, as once used in Novenas and other devotions, the chosen style has descended to childish forms: "Loving God, may we disciple each other and be empowered..." – note how such "prayers" are actually thinly-veiled exhortations to bourgeois niceness, with God referred to only in passing.  The Prayer of the Faithful at Mass is too often a cringeworthy exercise in such consciousness-raising.

Thanks be to God, the new translation of the Mass will be sober, decent and fitting, reflecting the richness of Catholic faith and doctrine in its texts.  Nonetheless, we do not believe in "Salvation by good taste alone" – while every effort should be made "to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness", lest our adoration be a scandal, it is greater far to have the substance right, albeit the form all skew-whiff, rather than have the form but not the substance.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

And falling down they adored Him

"They found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him" — St Matthew ii, 11.

One joy I'd forgotten for a while, before rediscovering it, is making a visit to the Church of the Apostles after work, or on Saturday morning, and slipping in the side door.  Entering in that way, the first you see is the altar of the Immaculate Conception; turning round to the left, you come to the kneeler beside votive candle stand, and, further round still, the side altars of Our Lady of Czestochowa and of the Sacred Heart – while, up to the right, you see through to the High Altar wherein Our Lord is present in His Sacrament.

"And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him" — St Matthew ii, 11.

Either side of the Sacred Heart altar are some fine stained glass windows: on the right, Our Lord appearing to St Margaret Mary; on the left, the Adoration of the Magi, the text underneath reading "They found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him".  Very often I look at that image and that inscription.

I find that coming in, kneeling down, and greeting Our Lord and Our Lady, is the summary of devotion: first seeing the sacred image of the Blessed Virgin, who brought forth Jesus Christ – the same Lord Whose Real Presence we know to be present in the Tabernacle, which next we see.  It's a good place to pause and pray; to make a Visit; to make a spiritual communion; to read some of the Hours from my pocket Diurnal, first (as the custom is) saying O sacrum convivium, with the versicle and collect of Corpus Christi...

"And entering into the house..." – the Greeks don't disdain to call a church a temple, nor to term it a house, indeed, the House of God; and of course the Church of the Apostles, the "mother church" of Launceston (once planned to be a cathedral), is by its very name a significant representation of the Church, founded on the Apostles by Christ.  

"And entering into the house, they found the Child with Mary His Mother, and falling down they adored Him" — St Matthew ii, 11.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anniversary Mass in St Carthage's, Lismore

Courtesy of a correspondent, I have received a devout photograph from St Carthage's Cathedral: an early morning pontifical Low Mass, marking the anniversary of the first Mass offered therein, just as its founder, Jeremiah Doyle, the first Bishop of Lismore, celebrated it on the morning of the 24th of June, 1907, which was the 30th anniversary of his own ordination as a priest:

The same Mass, at the same hour, at the same altar, in the same Roman Rite.

Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Jeremiah Doyle, Bishop of Lismore: "a great priest, who in his life propped up the house and in his days fortified the temple" (Ecclus l, 1).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vigil of St John Baptist

In the Dominican Office, for the Vigil of the Nativity of St John Baptist, the only special parts appointed are three lessons on the Gospel of the Vigil Mass; all else, from Matins through to None is simply from the Psalter and the Ordinary – even the Collect is but that of the preceding Sunday.  In this, the Dominican varies from the Roman Office – the latter uses the Vigil Collect for the Hours, while the former keeps it for 1st Vespers only.

Having come in from work, I first read Terce to None, then had just time to pray 1st Vespers before the evening Mass, which did indeed turn out to be a celebration of the Vigil.  (Lauds I'd prayed before leaving for work, but press of business made me leave Prime till lunchtime!)

It made me think of the logic of the Dominican restriction of the Vigil Collect to Vespers: of old time, Vigil Masses were celebrated after None, immediately before Vespers, and at the end of Mass was sung not Ite missa est, Go the Mass is ended, but Benedicamus Domino, Let us bless the Lord, as it were exhorting the congregation to remain for the ensuing Office.  

Properly speaking, the Vigil was a plain, sober, penitential day, a fast in preparation for the feast; therefore, the ferial office is said, complete with the kneeling prayers of Kyrie and Our Father at each Hour; there is nothing proper to the Vigil except for a homily (to be read at Matins) on the Vigil Gospel that would be finally heard in full after None in the afternoon.

I was so glad, so glad, to get to a weekday Mass: what a decline from my former practice of almost daily Mass; what an inexpressible Gift of God.  Deo gratias.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints

Having sung through "The Church's One Foundation", I was minded to look to Thomas Ken's devotional expansion and meditation upon the Apostles' Creed, seeing what insights he had into belief in "The Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints".  

Indeed, what that saintly Anglican wrote is quite acceptable and praiseworthy insofar as it goes; a Catholic would wish only to name his own diocese or perhaps rite as the "particular church" to which he belongs; by church "of England" a Catholic would intend to name, not "Rowan's C. of E. so frayed / That withers like a flower decayed", but the local church in communion with Christ's Vicar.  

And that, of course, is the chief ecclesiological omission – reference, not just to pastors having the keys of governance, but to Peter's successor, the chief shepherd of Our Lord's earthly flock.  As far as Ken goes in his mention of saints, he is correct, but we would want to specify that we not only praise them and study their good examples, who pray for us, but add that we indeed rightly pray them to intercede for us.  We would also wish to pray for our dear dead.

Thus far myself; now, the pious words of Thomas Ken, in meditation upon the 9th article of the Apostles' Creed:

The Holy Catholic Church.

I believe, O blessed and adorable Mediator, that the church is a society of persons, founded by thy love to sinners, (Matt. xvi. 18; Eph. v. 25.) united into one body, of which thou art the head, (Col. i. 18.) initiated by baptism, (Matt, xxviii. 19.) nourished by the eucharist, (Matt. xxvi. 26.) governed by pastors commissioned by thee, and endowed with the power of the keys, (Matt, xviii. 18; John xx. 22, 23.) professing the doctrine taught by thee, (Acts ii. 41, 42.) and delivered to the saints, (Jude iii.) and devoted to praise and to love thee.
I believe, O holy Jesus, that thy church is holy like thee, its author; holy by the original design of its institution, (2 Tim. i. 9.) holy by baptismal dedication, holy in all its administrations which tend to produce holiness; (2 Tim. ii. 19.) and though there will be always a mixture of good and bad in it in this world, (Matt. xiii. 24.) yet it has always many real saints in it; and therefore all love, all glory be to thee.
I believe, Lord, this church to be catholic, or universal, made up of the collection of all particular churches; I believe it to be catholic in respect of time, comprehending all ages to the world’s end, to which it is to endure; (Matt. xvi. 18; xxviii. 20.) catholic in respect of all places, out of which believers are to be gathered; (Matt, xxviii. 19.) catholic in respect of all saving faith, of which this creed contains the substance, which shall in it always be taught; (John xvi. 13.) catholic in respect of all graces, which shall in it be practised; and catholic in respect of that catholic war it is to wage against all its ghostly enemies, for which it is called militant: O preserve me always a true member of thy catholic church, that I may always inseparably adhere to thee, that I may always devoutly praise and love thee.
Glory be to thee, O Lord my God, who hast made me a member of the particular church of England [sic], whose faith, and government, and worship are holy, and catholic, and apostolic, and free from the extremes of irreverence or superstition, and which I firmly believe to be a sound part of thy church universal, and which teaches me charity to those who dissent from me; and therefore all love, all glory be to thee.
O my God, give me grace to continue stedfast in her bosom, to improve all those helps to true piety, all those means of grace, all those incentives of thy love, thou hast mercifully indulged me in her communion, that I may with primitive affections and fervour praise and love thee.

The Communion of Saints.

I believe, O King of Saints, that among the saints on earth, whether real, or in outward profession only, there ought to be a mutual catholic participation of all good things, (1 John i. 7.) which is the immediate effect of catholic love. Thou, O God of Love, restore it to thy church.
I believe, O thou God of Love, that all the saints on earth by profession ought to communicate one with another in evangelical worship, and the same holy sacraments in the same divine and apostolical faith, (Acts ii. 42, 46.) in all offices of corporal (Gal. vi. 10.) and spiritual charity, (Romans xii. 9, &c. 1 Thess. v. 14; Heb. x. 25.) in reciprocal delight in each other’s salvation, and in tender sympathy as members of one and the same body, (1 Cor. xii. 13, 26.) O God of Peace, restore in thy good time this catholic communion, that with one heart and one mouth we may all praise and love thee.
O my God, amidst the deplorable divisions of thy church, O let me never widen its breaches, but give me catholic charity to all that are baptized in thy name, and catholic communion with all Christians in desire. O deliver me from the sins and errors, from the schisms and heresies of the age. O give me grace to pray daily for the peace of thy church, (Psalm cxxii. 6.) and earnestly to seek it, and to excite all I can to praise and to love thee.
I believe, O most holy Jesus, that thy saints here below have communion with thy saints above, (Heb. xii. 22.) that they pray for us in heaven, while we celebrate their memories, congratulate their bliss, give thee thanks for their labours of love, and imitate their example; for which all love, all glory be to thee.
I believe, O gracious Redeemer, that thy saints here on earth have communion with the holy angels above; that they are ministering spirits (Heb. i. 14.) sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation, and watch over us, (Psalm xxxiv. 7.) and we give thanks to thee for their protection, and emulate their incessant praises and ready obedience; for which all love, all glory be to thee.
I believe, O my Lord and my God, that the saints in this life have communion with the three persons of the most adorable Trinity, (1 John i. 3; Phil. ii. 1.) in the same most benign influences of love, in which all three conspire; for which all love, all glory be to thee, O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, world without end.
Glory be to thee, O goodness infinitely diffusive, for all the graces and blessings in which the saints communicate, for breathing thy love into thy mystical body, as the very soul that informs it, that all that believe in thee may love one another, and all join in loving thee.

An Uplifting Hymn

For Peter, Patrick and Mary:

Samuel J. Stone (1839-1900) wrote the following well-known hymn, which interestingly enough formed part of his Lyra Fidelium; Twelve Hymns of the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed (1866).   

Given this fact, "The Church's One Foundation" is pretty obviously the hymn meant to correspond to the 9th article of the Apostles' Creed – "[I believe in] the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints" ([Credo insanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem) – where "communion of saints" can be understood in two ways, since sanctorum in the Latin can mean both "holy people" and "holy things":
  1. as referring to the fellowship we have with each other here and throughout the earth, and with the saints above, and with the faithful departed, "all the whole Church", the Body of Christ; 
  2. and as our communion in Holy Things, that is, in the Holy Gifts of the Eucharist, "which makes the Church" as the saying is, since in receiving the Body we are knit together as Christ's Body.
The many Scriptural references in the hymn I will not pick out at this time; I will note the seldom-sung 3rd stanza (marked with asterisks) of the original, which in many ways even more starkly insists on the message of the 4th.  So, too, what is normally sung as the last stanza is in reality but the first half of the 6th joined to the first half of the 7th – again, I've marked the lines usually omitted with asterisks, and put a mark of juncture between the two stanzas.

The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From Heav’n He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

*The Church shall never perish!
*Her dear Lord to defend,
*To guide, sustain, and cherish,
*Is with her to the end:
*Though there be those who hate her,
*And false sons in her pale,
*Against both foe or traitor
*She ever shall prevail.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
*With all her sons and daughters
*Who, by the Master’s hand
*Led through the deathly waters,
*Repose in Eden land.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee:
*There, past the border mountains,
*Where in sweet vales the Bride
*With Thee by living fountains
*Forever shall abide!

(The tune for this is of course "Aurelia" (76.76.D), by Samuel Sebastian Wesley.)

Chanting is Good for the Soul

Again deputizing for Father, who had a prior commitment, I led our little Gregorian chant group this evening for our fortnightly singalong.  Being in church, a prayer to Our Lord in the Sacrament started us off, then an English hymn, marking the feast day of the holy martyrs John Fisher and Thomas More.  

For the chant itself, we first ran through the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Mass XVIII, marking those tiny liquescent notes; then had a good stab at Credo III; and ended with the Agnus Dei, Ite missa est and Kyrie from the Missa de Angelis – observing the lateness of these chants and thus their more "modern" sound, talking a little as we went about the old tropes or farcings of the Kyries that gave de Angelis its name, and looking at the Latin, translating and discussing.  Most enjoyable.

But soft!  A note from Father led us to a thoughtfully-secreted bottle of wine, plus nibbles, in the adjoining parish room... we nattered away till late, when our priest, at last returning from a meeting, caught us still gossiping: "Time, gentlemen, please."

Singing well is praying twice, Augustine says.  What a good pleasure it is.

Resolution: must spend more time in good company.  God grant it!

Ken's Evening Hymn

Thomas Ken was one of those devout Anglican divines (a Nonjuror, in fact, who resigned his bishopric at the usurpation) who, dying outside the fold, may be thought to have gone to the Limbus Anglicanorum.  I rather like his pious style; as I've been using it in my prayers again, here is his Evening Hymn, somewhat modified by deleting three stanzas about sleep (rather odd in their philosophy) and inserting several more from his otherwise unused Midnight Hymn:

Glory to thee, my God, this night
For all the blessings of the light;
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath thy own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the awful day.

O may my soul on thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake. 

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest. 

Lord! lest the tempter me surprise,
Watch over thine own sacrifice;
All loose, all idle, thoughts cast out,
And make my very dreams devout.

My soul! – how canst thou weary grow
Of antedating bliss, below,
In sacred hymns and heavenly love,
Which will eternal be above?

O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns with the supernal choir
Incessant sing, and never tire?

Blest Angels! while we silent lie,
Your Hallelujahs sing on high;
You, ever wakeful near the Throne,
Prostrate adore the Three in One.

I with your choir celestial join,
In offering up a hymn divine:
With you in heaven I hope to dwell,
And bid the night and world farewell. 

You, my blest guardian, whilst I sleep
Close to my bed your vigils keep;
Divine love into me instil,
Stop all the avenues of ill.

Thought to thought with my soul converse,
Celestial joys to me rehearse,
Or in my stead, all the night long,
Sing to my God a grateful song.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him, all creatures here below,
Praise him above, ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  

A good meditation, in thirteen stanzas (two pairs of six, plus the doxology).  This may be sung to Tallis' Canon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shortest Day

This year, the shortest day falls to-day, the 21st of June: the sun rose here in Launceston this morning at 7:38 am, and will soon set, at only 4:48 pm – only just over nine hours of daylight.  To-day's weather: partly cloudy, 0 to 13 degrees.  I am minded to see what my friend up in Edinburgh is experiencing, since for him this is the summer solstice, and so I'll quickly look up details (pause for googling): it appears he can expect some showers, and a range from 11 to 19 degrees (sounds like spring weather here).  Scotland's capital being further north than Launceston is south, the sun will rise there at 4:26 am and set very late, at 10:06 pm – imagine that! nearly eighteen hours' daylight, twice what we have now.  Given the lengthy twilight also, Edinburgh (were it not for cloud) would presumably have the "White Nights" of St Petersburg...

As good Christian folk will recall, the nearness of this event – the winter solstice in the Southern, but the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – to the feast of the Nativity of the Baptist, and therefore the truth that from this feast onward, for those north of the equator, the days shorten, is considered significant by such worthies as St Augustine, mindful of St John's own words to Christ, the true Sun Who enlightens all men born into this world: "He must increase, I must decrease" – the lesson being that the Baptist came to herald Christ, Who must grow in us evermore.  Our Lord's Nativity, occurring in the North in darkest winter drear, thus symbolizes Christ coming "to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death", enlightening hearts more and more, just as, after Christmas in northern climes, the days grow longer daily thereafter.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back to the T.A.C.

Having assisted at Mass last night, Sunday was free (Dominica vacat), and so, having promised Bp Robarts of the T.A.C. to pay him a visit, I betook myself to the temporary temple of the Parish of the Annunciation...

After divine service, we had a good chat: I had perforce to detail poor Dad's ongoing illness, and to add to that my Mum and sister are both laid up in bed with gastroenteritis (there has been an outbreak at the hospital, and they caught it while visiting Dad), so I'm the only one standing.

His Lordship celebrated in a green Roman chasuble over a plain alb; no maniple, but purple zucchetto, Episcopal cross and ring.  The temporary altar had a green frontal and white altar cloth, with six candles lit (up from two on my last visit!), the missal on its stand, plus a hymnbook and various papers with sundry prayers upon them placed on the mensa (though no altar cards).  The altar cross bore a sculpted image of Christ the Priest in vestments; above the altar, upon the cloth that served as a reredos, hung an icon of Virgin and Child.  The chalice and paten were veiled, and a burse was used.

I have previously described, in extreme detail! what liturgy I observed offered, so I note only any differences seen to-day.  I will offer one correction: after the Prayer of Humble Access, then he read the Secret, and then turned to say the Orate fratres, straightway leading into the Dominus vobiscum and Sursum corda.  This time round, moreover, he read the traditional Embolism after the Lord's Prayer, complete with performing the fraction during its doxology, more Romano.  Strangely, he didn't move the missal back to the Epistle side after communion.

Of notable Anglican prayers, the only ones missing were the Summary of the Law and the Comfortable Words; of Catholic, the Canon (since an Anglican version was used instead) and the Last Gospel.

The three attractive, doctrinal and very loudly sung out hymns were:
It is obvious that a high doctrine of the Real Presence and Sacrifice, as of the Saints, is held.

As never happens when with Catholics, mine was not the loudest voice!

As last time, it proved difficult to ascertain which Sunday was being celebrated: the three readings were taken from the modern Roman Lectionary (Zacharias xii, 10-11 & xiii, 1; Galatians iii, 26-29; St Luke ix, 18-24) for the 12th Sunday per annum, Year C.  In consonance with this, the Introit was pretty obviously Dominus fortitudo plebis suæ – which is that for this Sunday in the modern Roman Rite (while in the Traditional, it is the Introit for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost).  However, the Gradual and Alleluia I cannot now with certainty identify; and the Offertory and Communion seemed to quote from the Gospel pericope.

Furthermore, and in agreement with the Collect – which was that for the 3rd Sunday after Trinity (which equates to the 4th after Pentecost) in the B.C.P., and in turn is not the same as the Roman, but comes from the Sarum Proper for the 3rd after Trinity – the Secret definitely and the Postcommunion probably (I recall it speaking of the "holy gifts", as below) were non-Roman but came instead from that Sarum Proper.  They are quite interesting and worth attention:

O Lord, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy mighty aid be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (BCP)
O Lord, we beseech thee, mercifully to hear our supplications; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may by thy aid be defended.  Through... (Warren's translation of the Sarum Missal)
Deprecationem nostram, quæsumus, Domine, benignus exaudi; et quibus supplicandi præstas affectum, tribue defensionis auxilium.  Per...  (Sarum Missal)

I particularly like the phrase "an hearty desire to pray" – how comforting to think that the Lord has thus disposed our hearts.

The Secret and Postcommunion, in Warren's version (and, thanks to a commenter on Fr Hunwicke's blog, in the original mediæval Latin):

We beseech thee, O Lord, to sanctify the gifts now offered unto thee, that they may become the body and blood of thy Only-begotten One, for our healing.  Who liveth...
Munera tibi quesumus domine oblata sanctificata: ut tui nobis unigeniti corpus et sanguis fiant ad medelam, qui tecum. 
Having received the holy gifts, we beseech thee, O Lord, that by their virtue thou wouldest purify us from all vices, and fill us abundantly with the gifts of thy grace.  Through...
Sacris domine muneribus perceptis: quesumus, ut nos eorum virtute et a vitiis omnibus expies, et donis gratie tue jugiter repleas, per. 

Note that this Secret is a directly epicletic prayer!  It is precise and Catholic, and more than makes up for the Cranmerian anti-epiclesis that still disfigures the "Interim Rite", the version of the Consecratory Prayer used, which Rome would surely correct (this deficiency in the Prayer of Consecration is, upon reflection, really the only doctrinally objectionable part of the entire service I attended).

For those interested in such things as the manner in which the Lord is served in the T.A.C., Bp Robarts explained to me afterward that matters liturgical are still being worked out with reference to Rome; and that when the time comes he will of course do as will be determined.  In the meanwhile, he explained that he celebrated in a Catholic manner (using his English Missal), while retaining the various Anglican prayers beloved of his people.

I must say, I found it a decent and reverent service; as I reiterated, once all differences are composed, I look forward to worshipping with him more regularly, and to share in the one communion from the one altar.  Eastward facing worship!  Dignified prayers!  Very nice; just what the Pope desires: "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness".

He also explained what is only reasonable: that, for the good of the greater number of souls, and to help ease the painful transition, he and his Catholic opposite number wish to make haste slowly with setting up the Australian Ordinariate - it appears that some want it running by Advent this year, others by Advent next year, and that a suitable via media would be Pentecost 2011 (as would be most fitting when one considers it).  

Many T.A.C. laymen remain quite understandably troubled by the stumbling-block of being confirmed "again", after being taught all their lives by their High Church clergy that confirmation was both a sacrament and unrepeatable; it must gently be explained to all so concerned that, as with T.A.C. clergy and their Orders, Rome requires certainty, and rather than go through everything case-by-case, it will be understood that conditionality is an unspoken presupposition for those worried about this.

Robarts left me with some sterling if wry advice: Keep trying to keep the Faith, without being trying!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sacri Corporis et Sanguinis Pretiosi

I was forcibly struck by the words of the prayer after Communion this evening, at the Vigil Mass for the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time (honestly, I had to look up which it was – I rather like not knowing where the poor Church is, lost in Boring Time):

Sacri Corporis et Sanguinis pretiosi alimonia renovati, quæsumus, Domine, clementiam tuam, ut quod gerimus devotione frequenti, certa redemptione capiamus.  Per...

This stems from the Veronese or Leonine Sacramentary, where it appears in the 19th Mass formulary, with one word different (libamine not alimonia), and placed after renovati, and three in a different order (frequenti devotione gerimus) – minute variations only.  The opening phrase, be it noted, is unusual, in that "sacred" is not the usual adjective applied to Christ's Body – rather, "(most) holy" would be the expected.

Strangely, the great Fr Z doesn't seem to offer a translation of this postcommunion, but luckily the good fathers of the Birmingham Oratory do (I correct "Thy" to "the" before "Sacred"):

Renewed by the nourishment of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood, we beseech Thy mercy, O Lord, that what we do here with constant devotion, may win for us our eternal redemption.  Through...

Of course, the lame-duck ICEL version we'll be well rid of by next year impertinently mistranslates this, rewriting it as a completely different prayer; still, its rendering is by no means their worst paraphrase, since at least it still has some meat to it:

Lord, you give us the body and blood of your Son to renew your life within us. In your mercy, assure our redemption and bring us to the eternal life we celebrate in this eucharist. 

We are indeed renewed, renovated, repristinated, made new in the deep sense of being conformed to the New Adam, Christ, by the nourishment of His Sacred Body and Precious Blood; though sons of the Old Adam in his fallenness, like him weighed down and made old by sin, the sacred Food and Drink, the Flesh and Blood that saves, renews us as Christians.  

Mirabile dictu, this Sacrament was instituted ut sumatur, that It be consumed: what a marvel that we should tremble at!  God gives His very Body most sacred, His Blood beyond all price, to be our nourishment.  Had He not directly commanded us to thus eat and drink, never would anyone dare imagine such a thing.

Having thus been fed by such sacred and precious Gifts, thus assured of God's mercy, we confidently beg that Mercy.  What we do here constantly – as Dix put it so well in his magnum opus, what we ever do in memory of Christ, celebrating His Sacrifice and Sacrament – we pray may win eternal redemption for us: His Death once for all on Calvary, we hope to grasp ahold of, that that great act of Redeeming Love may prove for us eternal in its effect.

In reflecting on this, I was mindful of Neale's great englishing of that ancient hymn Sancti venite (at least as old as the 7th century, and traditionally attributed to St Sechnall or Secundius, nephew of St Patrick, who are together said to have heard the angels singing thus at Mass):

Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord;
And drink the holy blood for you outpoured.
Saved by that body and that holy blood,
With souls refreshed, we render thanks to God.

Friday, June 18, 2010


My father has been in hospital since Monday; he is lucid now, but frail, bed-bound, and so forth: the medical advice is that he go into a nursing home, since he cannot be looked after by one person at home any longer.  In a strange way, now the difficult decision is taken out of our hands, this comes as a certain relief from worry: he will be cared for and kept safe from harm.

It has been a tiring and trying week.

(Many, many thanks for the kind emails sent me about this family crisis.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sufficient for the Day is the Evil Thereof

After consolation, tribulation: I have but returned home, and crisis strikes – my father, who is elderly and suffering from Parkinson's dementia, has had another fall, his fifth, hitting his head again, and being no longer in his right mind, has had to be admitted to hospital.

Our family gathered at his bedside for most of the day; it is likely he will have to go into a nursing home, since it is no longer safe for him to be by himself, nor can we care for him adequately.  Mum was talking of how, when he and she bought the family home and moved in some 39 years ago, they little imagined that this would be their parting, to-day, the 14th of June.

It was awful to see him raving and lost, not knowing where he was and hallucinating, having to be restrained.

Of your charity, please pray for my father, for my family, and for the doctors and nurses treating him – not least for the paramedics, who had to come and take him to hospital at 2am this morning.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


4457.8 km was the reading on the dial when I pulled into the garage at home at last – having got up at 5.40 am (ouch! and after a restless night), driven off the ferry into the pre-dawn darkness, eaten breakfast and then driven back to Launceston through frost-white fields (such is Tasmania in winter), going to Mass before finally reached my driveway.

I think I have driven enough for the moment.

These travel journal entries over, I will return to matters euchological, theological and liturgical in due course...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ultraslow Internet on board Ship

Having had a fine dinner on board the overnight ferry back to Tasmania - don't make the mistake of feeding from the trough in the cafeteria, pay for the a la carte menu in the restaurant - I thought to blog a bit before settling down to read for the night...

Bairnsdale was worth visiting for the sight of St Mary's church, with its murals over the apse and ceiling, painted by an expatriate Italian artist during the Great Depression.  (I will upload my photos in due course.)

The fine marble altars have been preserved, but - poverty in the midst of riches! what Philistines we've become - half the pews have been removed (no one to fill them any more, funny, that), and a brutishly ugly chopping-block altar, with matching furniture, has been erected atop a carpeted dais between the splendours of the old sanctuary and what remains of the nave seating.  When will the Church repent for all the iconoclasm and ugliness forced upon us in the name of the Council?

At Sale (originally named Flooding Creek), I stopt in at the Cathedral, which, while not renovated in the best way, at least preserves a Catholic ambience.  Holy Mary, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, is Patroness of the Diocese: may she, Queen of Gippsland, intercede for all Christian people there, and their good bishop, Christopher Prowse (who taught me once, when he was still a priest in Melbourne).

Lunch was at Yarragon, a pleasant little township where my maternal grandparents married and where my maternal great-grandparents lived.  (Nearby is Gentle Annie hill, with a steep road running up it: Great-grandfather was a poor driver, and my Mum vividly recalls being a passenger in his car when he completely stuffed up the needed gear-shift, and, giving up, let the car slide backwards all the way to the bottom of the hill!)

Finally, about a quarter to four, I parked in marvellous Melbourne again. I had just enough time to meet up with my old mate Scott for a coffee, and to buy a few books at the Central Catholic Bookshop, before I had to head down to Station Pier for to drive my car onto the ferry, bidding the Mainland farewell.

Early to-morrow we dock in Devonport, and I expect to be back along the highway to home in time for Mass.

It's been a good trip.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sweet Heart of Jesus

Unhappily, I wasn't able to make it to Mass to-day, being out in remote parts of Australia – passing from the extreme south coast of New South Wales around to easternmost Gippsland in Victoria.  I did see some curious things, however.

Eden has, not a whaling museum, but a killer whale museum – because the pod of killer whales that lived in the bay there, from the second half of the nineteenth century until 1930, were uniquely beloved of the locals, who were whalers, in that the orcas would obligingly herd other whales, their prey, close into shore, coöperating with the harpooners in their whaleboats to slay the beasts: first they would feast, and then leave the remainder for the men to harvest the valuable blubber and so forth.  The largest whale harpooned off Eden was a blue whale some 97 feet (30 metres) long, thanks to those friendly killers.

All good things must come to an end: in 1930, as the Great Depression struck, Old Tom, last of the orcas to assist the whalers, himself died, he who had been so remarkably helpful as to warn the whalers when good prey approached, and who in his doglike eagerness even caught the ropes of the whaling boats to drag them at speed to the combat; thereafter (perhaps because the hunting had petered out, a victim of the joint efforts of man and killer whale) the hitherto resident pods moved off in search of food elsewhere.  

The locals lost their shore-based whaling industry, which had supported them since after the gold rush, but in gratitude they built a museum as a memorial to their flippered, sharp-toothed allies, and put the bones of Old Tom (suitably flensed) on permanent display, along with some remaining bones of slaughtered whales that they both had hunted.  (I was also able to touch a vertebra of that 97 foot behemoth caught in 1910.)

Old Tom, the whalers' faithful fellow-predator

Eden is also graced with a new Catholic church; what a pity the whaling industry inspired this most bizarre altar:

Our Lady Star of the Sea, Eden: please explain!

The old church is now a museum of local Catholic history; as Bl Mary MacKillop once visited, it is also a memorial to her and her sisters, some of whom are still based in Eden.

Lo! displayed on the old choirloft are the old altar, dressed for Mass, with a dummy priest in Roman vestments and lace alb – to think that was exactly the Mass I assisted at on Wednesday in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, with the priest in similar attire.  I doubt the locals would credit that what to them is a pious memory of fifty years ago is still very much alive and kicking!  (And there still remain teaching orders of nuns properly attired, even in Australia, such as the Ganmain Dominicans...)

I recommend this altar be put into the new church, and the rest of it too!

Having reached my destination for to-day, Lakes Entrance, I went over to the local church, St Brendan's, to find if perchance there would be a Mass this evening.  No, apparently there was a morning Mass instead, and no Mass to-morrow morning either.  Well, to be honest I was glad, because the sanctuary at St Brendan's is so revoltingly kitsch and foul I found the only prayer I could make was of apology to the Lord: it repulsed me forcibly.

Unbeatable for kitsch foulness: St Brendan's, Lakes Entrance

Yes, the cabin of the fishing boat – St Brendan's coracle updated – is the tabernacle, and its sail is the overhead projector screen!  The altar is faux stone, with a flat part concealed behind for putting the sacred vessels on; there is even a built-in bookrest.  Note that, behind the table with the holy oils on permanent display, the lectern is also fake rock, with a "streambed" of pebbles running down and across and under the altar, over to... the Paschal candlestick and font (also in fake stone) out of sight to the left.

Who will fix this mess?  Yuck.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sydney to Eden

One foot in Eden still, I stand
and look across the other land... 
— Edwin Muir

I miscalculated: to-day was my longest drive of all, nearly 500 km, when I'd thought it to be only 400.  I didn't reach Bega till nightfall, and then in Eden I had a devil of a job to find my accommodation, since Google Maps, God bless it, got the location wrong, and the establishment's signage was unilluminated owing to an electrical fault.

This Thursday began very early, arising at 6 am no less in order to drive through a surprisingly quiet and beautiful early morning Sydney to 6.45 am Mass at the Cathedral.  It was impressive how many workers evidently begin each day in so devout a manner, God reward them.

St Mary's Cathedral in the early morning sunlight

And the ibises (a signature bird of Sydney), noisily nesting in the palms

After returning for breakfast, marvelling at what a lovely day it was, I left my friends' place and paid a visit to St Brendan's, the church nearby, to say Prime and Terce before travelling.

St Brendan's, Annandale

It is amusing how to the north and south of Sydney, the road must cut through the solid rock of forested wilderness to reach the next port of call, and likewise to the east must climb right over the Blue Mountains...

Wollongong I reached a bit before midday: then on, and on, and on, till Eden at last.

Lunch in Wollongong, by the way, was Vietnamese: a good bowl of pho (soup).  On a whim I dumped in all the chillies so thoughtfully provided (waste not, want less), and it grew fearsomely hot!  Also, I'd ordered the "special" beef pho – "special" turned out to mean, containing meatballs and... tripe.

While looking unsuccessfully around Wollongong for the Catholic Cathedral, I did drive past the Anglican one (twice), and was shocked by the bizarre notice in front of it, indicative of the infection of ultra-Low-Church Sydneysiders (the Anglican bishop being one of them): rather than listing "Mass" times, or "Holy Communion", or "Eucharist", or "Mattins", or "Evensong", or "Worship", or "Divine Service", it listed – get this – the times for "Public Christian Meetings"!

Public Christian Meetings.  So that is what the Sydney Evangelicals call Sunday service.  It certainly isn't true worship, they got that right.

Wednesday in Sydney

It was so nice not to drive at all yester-day; instead, I took the bus into the city and wandered about.  I paid a visit to St Benedict's, Broadway, in the late morning before yum cha for lunch; in the afternoon, I caught up with Fr Terence prior to his weekly 4 pm Mass in the Cathedral, which was followed shortly thereafter by Vespers in Gregorian chant (new rite), sung by twelve choristers.  I must say, the polyphonic Magnificat was magnificent, and the chanting was very impressive.  I ran into no fewer than three other priests whom I know that afternoon, and have resolved to come back up to Sydney for a long weekend in the near future; as was said once of wicked Corinth, "I have many friends in that city".

Tamworth to Sydney

I have been staying with my Sydney mates again – as they don't have wireless internet (!) I haven't been online for a while.  Oh well, the sky didn't fall in.

But how did I get back down to Sydney?  Well, the short answer is that I drove, of course.

Since this succession of posts is doubling as my travel journal, let me just say that I departed Tamworth only a little before eleven o'clock on Tuesday, having made a visit to the attractive church of St Nicholas.  (The usual postconciliar reordering of the sanctuary at least featured marble rather than the stereotypical hideous green carpet.)  Next door, what had once obviously been a large convent is now the local conservatorium of music.

The scenery en route on both sides of the Great Dividing Range was beaut, and much better than that of New England.  I detoured to find the vineyards of the Upper Hunter, which meant that I missed closeup views of the "dark satanic mills" that burn the great coal deposits roundabout to power Sydney.  Sights of opencut mines, great hills of tailings and huge columns of steam going up for ever and ever were quite enough.  Having found some quite decent wine at Yarraman winery (bottles of their 2001 merlot going for $10!), I went on just as far as Denman for lunch: a decent steak and beer (Toohey's Old) at last.

Unfortunately, I still had a long way still to travel, and the highway through the lower Hunter proved slow, windy and congested as it passed through township after township, gradually gathering traffic on the way.  I gave up my idea of going back into Newcastle, and contented myself with a confusing drive round Maitland, trying to find the former cathedral (the see being now relocated to Newcastle).

I think this is the old Cathedral... in fact, it is the old old Cathedral, the nearby Catholic hall having been turned into the Pro-Cathedral in 1933, then itself replaced!

(Like many buildings in the area, it was badly damaged in the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, and is now unsafe, due to the risk of falling masonry.)

It was half four, and I was still over 150 km north of Sydney.  Despite the excellent freeway, I was running late for dinner with John and his friends – a dinner in my honour – and matters were made worse when I decided to turn off the Pacific Highway into the suburbs in the hopes of finding a quicker route: in the end I ended up back on the same, having wasted a good half hour.  Finally crossing the Harbour Bridge after all, I arrived an hour later than expected.

Dinner, it must be said, was excellent, and it was delightful to meet John's beloved, Laura.  I wish them well for the future.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New England

Yester-day I drove up from Lismore into the interior, crossing the Great Dividing Range again via the twisty Bruxner Highway.  It took me far longer than anticipated to get to Tenterfield.  Having crossed the divide, I was now in New England.  (I must say, it didn't look much like England.)  New England, the high northern tablelands and western slopes, was the home of the only serious New State movement during the twentieth century: and as a devotee of lost causes and nostalgia – I am a traddie – it interests me.

The traditional flag of New England - the rampant lion with sword, fighting for freedom

But first, some shots of St Mary's Church at Casino, only 30 km inland from Lismore:

I am told by an authoritative source that the unhappy reordering of the sanctuary is to be reversed and that right soon: the Blessed Sacrament will be returned to the place of honour at the head of the apse for a start!

Tenterfield, just south of the Queensland border, was the venue of the famous 1889 Federation Oration of Sir Henry Parkes, five times Premier of New South Wales, and a leading agitant for federation of the Australian colonies – "a nation for a continent and a continent for a nation" as Sir Edmund Barton, first Prime Minister of Australia, put it.  In a flag-draped room one could picture the scene, for it was in that very chamber that Parkes delivered his speech.  Sadly, he died five years before Federation was achieved, the Imperial Parliament enacting our Constitution prepared by various Federation Conventions of Australian politicians.  Good old Queen Victoria!

The Catholic church in Tenterfield:

As I drove on – and on – down the New England Highway, I was quite surprised at the altitudes reached; Bolivia Hill at 1031 m, and the town of Guyra, surely one of the highest in Australia at 1330 m!

As the twilight drew near I reached Armidale, putative capital of New England, and home to many fine schools and New England University, not to mention two cathedrals (ours and a false one!) – I made a visit to the Cathedral of SS Mary and Joseph:

(That's not my car, but a close likeness.)

A rather poor shot of the interior; the sanctuary, hard to make out, is quite decent, still retaining the high altar and altar rails:

His Lordship Luc Matthys, Bishop of Armidale, complete with ferraiola:

The end of a very long day's drive (from before ten till after six) brought me to Tamworth; let's just say I'm not that interested in its being the country music capital of Australia!