Sunday, May 29, 2011

To Holiday in Partibus

Off to Queensland to-morrow: where the episcopal sees are in partibus infidelium, at least insofar as their occupants are concerned!

I'll have three days in Brisbane, then a day in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, before driving further inland, visiting Toowoomba for two days (though I daren't go to Mass there, for fear of what I might find), and then gratefully returning to Christian lands by crossing the border into New South Wales, first visiting Armidale (where I plan to catch Mass at the Cathedral on Sunday evening, so as to fulfil my obligation licitly and validly), next Coffs Harbour, and then Lismore, before a final night on the Gold Coast.

At least, as Cardinal Pell observed some years ago, given the current holders of the sees of Armidale and Lismore, "The northern frontier is secure".

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy St Philip's Day

The glorious feast-day of St Philip Neri!

Good St Philip played a trick on me: Suzie (being a rather poorly trained pet dog) was up while it was yet pitch-black night, barking at the gate, and bleary-eyed me had to find the way to the window from my comfy bed to sharply tell her off; which meant I had a nice view of the cold and frosty sky, with the Pointers and the Southern Cross hanging close to the horizon.

For the sake of amusement, have a look back at that curious liturgical text, the Missa contra amicas...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Compline, Benediction, and Supper

For the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia, we celebrated with our fortnightly Compline and Benediction, followed by a special supper with good food and good wine.

There was about the best attendance yet, and all were in good voice - even with the rather tricky choice of Gaudeamus omnes in Domino (the Marian version of this Introit) sung as the exposition chant (for indeed we ought all rejoice in the Lord in honour of the Blessed Virgin, at whose solemnity the angels rejoice and together praise the Son of God).

Yours truly, as well as singing, also served as thurifer (thanks, Len, for saying I managed this well, as I am anything but confident wielding the thurible, or "swinging the pot" as you put it!).

Father has just bought a handsome new lamp for Our Lady's statue, which we saw lit for the first time to-night.  De Maria numquam satis...

Gǔ yǐ yǒu zhī

A friend of my family, a Chinese student studying here in Australia, was quite shocked when, in conversation, I mentioned that chili, that potent spice, comes from America, having been introduced to the Old World by the Spanish and Portuguese, and that therefore in all Asian cookery, including Chinese, it is a comparatively recent arrival.  As she comes from a part of China where fiery-hot flavours are popular, this did startle her.  She was convinced that chili was native to China, wouldn't quite believe me when I referred to English-language references, and was only convinced, though still very surprised, when she consulted a Chinese source on the internet.  (To be fair, Szechuan pepper is native to China, and this may have be the source of some confusion.)

I thought of this and smiled when I read to-day of the old-fashioned Chinese belief that Western science and technology, far from being the unpleasantly superior fruits of barbarian know-how, were actually known in ancient China, and thus, far from being invented exterior to the Middle Kingdom, were only lost secrets of the ancients now being re-introduced to their original home.  This is called gǔ yǐ yǒu zhī (古已有之), meaning "this already existed in ancient times": and, while this theory in its full-blooded sense has long been proved ridiculous, there remains a latent sinocentric view that various aspects of knowledge borrowed from the West has Chinese roots.

This assuming all things valuable to be home-grown is of course is a universal human tendency, especially for those who belong to large and populous nations (modern Americans, even more strangely, are guilty of similar faults, despite their much shorter history), so please don't take this as a criticism of Chinese people, but rather as an amused comment.  It relates also to our friend's preference for having her mother send her sundry items from China, items available here (including foodstuffs); but here she is no different to my South African friends (recent migrants to Australia), who love to buy any products of their former home: homesickness is again universal, and perfectly understandable.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Self-Hating Catholics

A Lutheran Pastor of my acquaintance has told me of his discomfit when engaged in official ecumenical dialogue with Catholics – because the Catholic representatives all too often can't wait to bad-mouth and criticise the Catholic Church, the Pope, Cardinal Pell, and so forth, and are only too glad to proclaim their love for Bp Morris, while ostentatiously rejecting Catholic doctrine and morals.

I hear of a similar sorry incident that occurred only the other day.

Thank God, there are Catholics who love the Church and her teachings as being those of Christ, rather than hating Sancta Mater Ecclesia, setting up their own imagined Christ as an idol in place of Our Lord, and eagerly following, not the truth, the way and the life, but a lie that is sterile and leads out into the waterless waste.

I think of one ex-priest who in my hearing opined that the relics of St Thérèse (then being brought on a visit to Tasmania) were fit only for boiling up to make soup.  What a nasty blasphemer!

Or again, I recall a fellow who went to try his vocation in the Melbourne seminary back in the bad old days of the eighties: he left after a week or so, because every night the staff and students were drunk, and there wasn't even daily Mass.  In a seminary!  (When the future Cardinal Pell was Rector there for a few years way back then, he had a tremendous fight against staff and seminarians when he tried to reintroduce daily Mass, in Corpus Christi College if you please.)

Far too many of the clergy and religious are parasites, happy to suck the sap while spreading false teachings.  Were they to cease the pretense of playing Catholics, and set up their own church in which they might freely do as they list, no one would go to it: hence their determination to benefit from the perquisites of power.  Personally, I would prefer to see them honest men, who would either depart or repent: but they are blind and see not.

It takes little consideration to realize that, in a clerical and religious culture that winks at doctrinal dissent, there is place also for moral turpitude.  How can X, who preaches quite other than the Catholic faith, reprimand Y, who has suspiciously close relations with parishioners?  Both are guilty of differing forms of disobedience: it was only the employment of the secular courts in recent times that caused abusers to be removed and punished.  Perhaps a "truth in advertising" test case could be mounted against a priest who pretends to teach the Catholic religion, yet in fact propagates alien beliefs?

As Chesterton said, it must be so hard for those without moral principles to know how to act.


P.S. I was feeling rather angry and disillusioned when I wrote this.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Intercommunion in Queensland

While some Catholics now access the Traditional Rite unimpeded, and the Benedictine Reform proceeds, what with the newly retranslated Missal coming in and even Eastward facing celebrations occurring, in other corners of the Church abuses fester.

Years ago, I heard tell of the long-term plan of the Catholic episcopate and clergy in Queensland: to foster "Eucharistic sharing", or rather purported intercommunion between Catholics, Anglicans, Uniting Church persons and other Protestants.  At the time, I rejected this as unbelievable, but now – hearing that such may have occurred in Toowoomba – I am not so sure.

The project intended to solve the shortage of clergy by having Catholic Mass said in a given place only a few times a month, but to arrange with the local mainstream Protestants to do likewise, staggering the times so that all local Catholics, Anglicans and so forth would indiscriminately attend Catholic Mass on one or two Sundays (this being the only service for all groups), and on the other Sundays go to an Anglican Eucharist or even a Uniting Church Communion service.

I repeat, this idea seemed to me so outré that I refused to countenance such a scheme existing, but now I fear it may be true.

Recall the strangeness of Morris' notorious Advent pastoral letter in calling, not merely for having married clergy (which all know to be a disciplinary matter most unlikely to be changed) or women ordained (which the Church declares impossible), but for recognizing Anglican and Uniting Church holy orders?  To recognize Anglican orders would of course be impossible according to the decision of Leo XIII (which itself but reaffirmed the constant practice of the Church), and as the Uniting Church (derived from the amalgamation of Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians) has no threefold ministry, there is no chance of their orders being ruled valid by Rome.

However, given the mindset and the heterodox theological education of most clergy in Australia, they simply would not regard these in truth insuperable obstacles as serious issues.  Hence this madcap plan.

I am sure aCatholics would have little trouble with such intercommunion: indeed, if they will not join the Anglican Church despite their utter agreement with its ordination of women and allowance of divorce, remarriage, homosexual liaisons, contraception, abortion and so forth, what better than to be in full intercommunion with it?

Morris was simply so great a fool and so arrogant that he made public, in writing, what subtler and more knowing clergypersons preferred to discuss and work towards on the quiet.

I have myself seen, at the Catholic funeral of a friend of mine in country Victoria, a Mass celebrated in presence of the local Catholic bishop, the local Protestant clergy come up and receive communion!  This friend was no friend of them, nor a lover of the new rite (indeed, I arranged a Missa cantata of Requiem for his soul back in Melbourne as some sort of making up for this hideous abuse at his funeral), so I can see no pretext for this illicit intercommunion.

Illicit intercommunion for Protestants at Catholic services, and invalid intercommunion for Catholics at Protestant services: as I say, I thought this simply impossible to believe, but I have heard of cases of both.

In all this, there is no understanding nor acceptance of the Catholic practice of closed communion: only those in full communion with the Church may receive Communion at Catholic altars (with certain exceptions made by recent Canon Law, which do not extend to such abuses as mentioned above – as if a Catholic could validly, let alone licitly, receive Protestant communion: it would be bread-worship; or as if a Protestant, not believing Catholic doctrine about the Eucharist, could receive It).  Bizarrely, Lutherans understand this better than some Catholics!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ad Orientem at Perth Seminary

A Western Australian correspondent informs me that, for some time now, Mass on Saturdays at St Charles' Seminary, Perth, has been said ad orientem versus; and that for the first time – when my friend was there a month ago – the same Eastward stance has been taken at Sunday Mass.  I hear that the singing of the Ordinary (including Latin for the Sanctus) and the choice of decent hymns were both pleasing, and that it was good to see the seminarians alike all in cassocks: indeed, the Rector, Monsignor Long (who was the chief celebrant), sets a very good example to them by always wearing his.

I recall how Bp Jarrett of Lismore likes to quote the Apostle's words "Let all things be done decently and in order" (I Cor. xiv, 40) when describing the unpretentious and sober manner in which Mass ought be said, the priest being thus a servant of the sacred liturgy, not a third-rate actor in a melodrama, nor a robot: I recall the then Fr Long saying Mass in the Catholic college chapel at the University of Western Australia, and such was the ars celebrandi he employed then, and still does now: without affectation "doing the red, saying the black".  I would think that this is one very important aspect of Pope Benedict's patient hopes for resacralization of worship – a making clear what it really is.

At Communion, it was also pleasing to hear of various of the seminarians quite unselfconsciously kneeling to receive Our Lord, as a godly freedom obtained as to which of the lawful postures for reception were employed, for the particular spiritual good of each person (for it stands to reason that, given the choice between Communion "kneeling on the tongue" or "standing on the hand", one should receive in the method best calculated to increase one's reverence).

Do spare a prayer, gentle reader, for the seminarians and staff of this seminary, which, ever since its reopening by Archbishop Barry Hickey (now very soon to retire) has produced a good crop of new priests.  Pray that the Archdiocese of Perth may be granted a strong, confident, Catholic successor in due time, that this work, and all else, may continue to grow and flourish.

By contrast, I recall attending one Mass, about a decade ago, at the Melbourne seminary, which got the priest who said it into enormous trouble (and some of the seminarians as well), just because, celebrating a Marian feast day by using the altar in the adjacent grotto, he said Mass ad orientem; the rumour – itself revealing – was that he said a Latin Mass (this in the days when to even imagine doing so was considered naughty if not worse), whereas it was just a normal vernacular celebration at which, by reason of the altar used being up against the back wall of the grotto, he had no option but to stand facing it.  

What a difference a decade makes!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Lutheran Dormitionists

During the Reformation in Germany, several Imperial abbeys, formerly Catholic, became Lutheran, such as Herford and Quedlinburg – the canonesses and abbesses of these were all Protestants for centuries; their continued existence was facilitated by the fact that the canonesses, while unmarried, had always been and remained secular canonesses, who took no vows; and it was convenient for noblewomen undesirous of marriage to retreat to such houses.  The devout ladies of these establishments even published books of spiritual writings, as for example did Princess-Abbess Anna Sophia II of Quedlinburg.

Given all this, and the delighted recognition of the unique Dormitionist charism previously expressed in comment from contemporary Lutheran clergy appended to my first posting explaining about the little-known but fascinating Order of the Dormition, it will be unsurprising to note that in Germany, too, some Dormitionist houses (dorters, or dormitories) passed out of Catholic and into Protestant hands, without a total dissolution of these monasteries, particularly those of Dormitionistines, the female branch of this most retiring of Orders – noble and devout women, seeking godly and perpetual rest.

Furthermore, the various revivals of monasticism among the separated brethren that have occurred since the nineteenth century have also included not a few instances of Dormitionist lifestyle being once again adopted and propagated.  The Dormitionist habit, so similar to the secular pyjamas, was more than once taken up by enthusiasts, albeit pairing it with the nineteenth-century smoking-jacket beloved of gentlemen (for incense of sorts, too, came in fashion).  New shoots spring from the old stump...

As Dormitionists seek to live, even in this life, as already in the eschatological state of endless rest, it will at once be apparent how persons more intent on faith than works would find such a fundamental spiritual orientation congenial.  For "faith without works is dead", and so those cleaving to sola fide should appear, if not utterly dead, then at least asleep: their hope, indeed, would be to be as "them which are asleep".

For this reason, Lutheran houses following this mode of existence may be found here and there (I believe there are plans afoot to regularize such a foundation in Australia); rather than using Catholic titles such as "of the Dormition", however (for all that these well-meaning people accept the Dormition as a traditional and catholic pious belief, without dogmatizing about it), they tend to avoid any cause for scandal by naming their establishments "Golgotha Dormitory", or "Soul Sleep Church", or "Family Crypt", or some such.  It is a purely private joke, alluding to the perseverance or otherwise of some would-be monastics, to call such-and-such an establishment "the Empty Tomb".


This blog being especially interested in matters liturgical, it will not go amiss if some reference is made to the worship of Lutheran Dormitionists.  (Attentive readers will already have realized how the Dormitionist vow to enter into rest, being in fact a Biblical text, was easily admitted as a devout prayer, not a work of supererogation, indeed, not a work at all, by these persons.)

A very plain Easter sepulchre

At Compline (always the principal Hour for sleepers-in-Christ), the only modifications made are to the text of the Confiteor, and replacement of the Marian anthem by a visit to the "Easter sepulchre", that common feature of northern European churches, representing the burial-place of Christ – there, such hymns as In Christi Wunden schlaf ich ein ("I fall asleep in Jesus' wounds") are customarily sung, taking up the rich tradition of vernacular song that is one of the glories of Evangelical piety.  (More modern Evangelical revivals of the Dormitionist charism in the U.S. prefer such ditties as "Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham.")


The revision made of the Dormitionist Mass is of particular ecumenical importance.  Given the simplicity of the rite, it will be unsurprising that, following Luther's own first redraftings, nothing at all of the fore-Mass or first part of the Liturgy was changed, while at the Offertory the Dirigatur Domine and Orate fratres alone were retained, the Veni Sanctificator omnium and the In spiritu humilitatis being deleted.  With a fine feeling for liturgical structure, however, the variable Secret of the Catholic Mass was replaced with a fixed epicletic prayer, itself taken in a truly conservative spirit from the mediæval corpus orationum, modifying only the controverted words tibi... oblata:

Munera tua, quæsumus, Domine, sanctifica: ut tui nobis Unigeniti Corpus et Sanguis fiant ad medelam, qui tecum vivit...
(Hallow Thy gifts, we beg, Lord: that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Thine Onlybegotten, for our healing: Who with Thee liveth...)

In other words, the essential import of the former Dormitionist offertory prayers was maintained, and a strong stand taken against sacramentarian deviations, just as orthodox Lutheranism ever has.

Most startlingly of all, yet, as alluded to above, most importantly, the Evangelicals who continued to maintain the Dormitionist traditions made a most interesting compromise between Luther's wholesale rejection of the Canon (the Lord's words amongst the oblationary passages therein being in his view "the Ark of God in the temple of Dagon") and the continuance of catholic features thereof.

Combining certain of Luther's earliest liturgical ideas, as expressed in his Formula Missæ, with some of those espoused by his followers in Sweden, and all unawares taking up the early Roman Christian idea of the consecratory Preface, the Canon was most radically reordered, by first of all reversing the usual Dormitionist practice of saying the Preface silently, and inserting the very Verba Domini therein, then by praying quietly a late variant of the Suscipe sancta Trinitas between the Sanctus and Benedictus (the Elevation being made during the latter), and concluding with the Per ipsum aloud:

Vere quia dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum.  Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem: tibi gratias agens, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, comedite, Hoc est Corpus meum, quod pro vobis datur. Similiter et calicem, postquam cænavit, dicens: Hic calix est novi testamenti in meo Sanguine, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.  Hæc quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam faciatis.  Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cælestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes:
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth, pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.  Hosanna in excelsis. 
Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hoc sacrificium laudis quam tibi offerimus in memoriam Passionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi: et præsta, ut proficiat nobis et omnibus fidelibus christianis ad requiem æternam.  Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.  Hosanna in excelsis.
Per ipsum, et cum ipso, et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.  Amen.
(Truly worthy and just it is, right and salutary, for us always and everywhere to give thanks unto Thee, holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord.  Who the day before He suffered, took bread: giving thanks unto Thee, He brake, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take ye, eat ye, This is My Body, which is given for you.  Likewise also the chalice, after He had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in My Blood, which for you and for many shall be shed in remission of sins.  These whensoever ye shall do them, in my memorial ye shall do them.  And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with every company of the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:
(Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts, full are heaven and earth with Thy glory.  Hosanna in the highest.
(Receive, O Holy Trinity, this sacrifice of praise, which we offer unto Thee in memorial of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ: and grant, that it may profit us and all faithful Christians unto rest everlasting.  Through the same Christ our Lord.
(Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.
(Through Him, and with Him, and in Him, is unto Thee, God the Father almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory, world without end.  Amen.)

It will be seen how daring, and how designedly ambiguous (indeed, how Anglicanesque) is the Suscipe sancta Trinitas of these catholic Lutherans: for the phrase "this sacrifice of praise", while eminently biblical, is used of the Eucharistic oblation in the Roman Canon itself, and to pray "that it may profit us and all faithful Christians unto [gaining] rest eternal", directly after the Consecration of the Eucharist and directly before the Elevation of the Sacrament, is to beg the question, is it but a heartfelt verbal sacrifice that is offered in the hope of benefitting all, or is it the Eucharist that is here offered up?  There is here, too, a hint of prayer for the dead, never entirely excluded by Lutheran orthodoxy, impetrating that all faithful Christians – living and dead – may indeed rest in peace.

Given this not-so-cryptic catholic reference, it is not surprising that any formerly Lutheran Dormitionists, coming into full Catholic communion have (by private rescript, analogous to the liturgical provisions made for incoming Anglicans) the unique privilege of offering Mass either in the usual Dormitionist rite, using the venerable Canon, or, for the sake of brevity (just as, in the Ordinary Form, Eucharistic Prayer II is provided, for utterly the same reason) according to this form, by using the epicletic Secret above, with the Consecratory Preface, SanctusBenedictus and Per ipsum with the Suscipe sancta Trinitas, supplementing that brief yet sufficiently expressive prayer of oblation and anamnesis by including mention of the Pope, the dead, and the Saints:

Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hoc sacrificium laudis quam tibi offerimus in memoriam Passionis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, et in honorem beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et omnium Sanctorum: et præsta, ut proficiat nobis et omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis et defunctis, cum Papa nostro N. ac Episcopo nostro N., ad requiem æternam: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in cælis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris.  Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
(Receive, O Holy Trinity, this sacrifice of praise, which we offer unto Thee in memorial of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of Blessed Mary ever-Virgin, and of all Saints: and grant, that it may profit us and all faithful Christians living and dead, with our Pope N. and Bishop N., unto rest everlasting: and may they deign to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we keep on earth.  Through the same Christ our Lord.)

To conclude, however, by returning to the actual modifications made in the old Dormitionist rite by the Lutherans, it must simply be observed that few other changes to the Mass were made.  The Lord's Prayer had the usual Protestant doxology added to it, with the old Embolism deleted (again following Dr Martin's prescription), though the administration of communion followed in the normal manner, with the traditional prayers, Agnus Dei and so forth; likewise, either Benedicamus Domino or the uniquely Dormitionist Requiescamus in pace was to be used at the end of the service, never Ite missa est (Luther erroneously deriving missa from a Hebrew word for sacrifice, he found the term unappealing); so too the Placeat was given away (Catholics are, however, required to say it).

The squaring of the circle, by always maintaining an oblationary reference in the Eucharist, remains a strange attractor towards full Catholic communion for all would-be Evangelical Dormitionists.  Please God, may it remain so!

I have often speculated that the Suscipe sancta Trinitas prayers (there were many variants in mediæval times, some few of which survive in extant rites such as the Dominican) derive from the Gallican rite, especially as they bear a curious resemblance to like prayers of sacrificial oblation in the Mozarabic rite.  It is good to see them not utterly abandoned.  Indeed, would it not be far better – and shorter! – to allow more widely this combination of consecratory Preface and Suscipe sancta Trinitas, in place of the untraditional Ordinary Form Eucharistic Prayer II, which, being but a hash made of pseudo-Hippolytus, has become de facto the standard prayer of the Roman Rite?  But I digress...

Isn't it wonderful that, the fruits of all true Christianity being oriented toward Unity in the Una Sancta, even ex-Lutheran Dormitionists can rest in peace, together?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alleluia: another Neophyte

I was moved and delighted to learn recently that a work colleague, a quiet fellow, was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil: of your charity, please pray for him, that he remain strong and steadfast in the Faith.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

UK: New Name Needed?

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Scotland chooses her own path and makes her own way in the future (an episode of Doctor Who presaged this not too long ago), what should the remainder of the United Kingdom – currently denominated, "of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" – be called?  Before Eire won her freedom, it was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; and before Ireland was incorporated fully, it was the Kingdom of Great Britain, once the old Parliament of Scotland had voted for union, and her own dissolution, back in 1707.

How about the United Kingdom of England, Wales, (Cornwall*) and Northern Ireland?  Or, perhaps, the United Kingdom of 2/3 of Britain and 1/6 of Ireland?

In any case, Her Majesty would still rule over both this successor state, and the restored Kingdom of Scotland; this would be but the latest division of the Crown, just as she rules as Queen of (the Dominion of) Canada, of the Commonwealth of Australia, and so forth.

* Some assert that Cornwall was never fully incorporated into England.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scottish Landslide

Being of Scottish descent myself, I have been delighted to monitor the news coming in of the election of the new Scottish Parliament, in which the Scottish National Party, which presses for the restoration of independence to Scotland (most unwisely given away in 1707), has won a great victory, and an absolute majority of seats for the first time.  Expect a referendum sooner rather than later.

Good Riddance - II

Kate Edwards has written an excellent opinion piece, "Bishop Bill Morris was guilty of false advertising", which I recommend to all.  My own tiny contribution thereto was suggesting the relevance of Stockholm Syndrome, whereby those brainwashed by hijackers can come to side with their abusers against their would-be rescuers.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good Riddance

It was a pleasure to read that the Holy Father has finally started doing something about  bad bishops: Boo hoo, cries Bp William Morris of Toowoomba, the nasty old Pope and those conservatives have forced me to give away my diocese (see the front page of to-day's Australian).  We expect the Vatican to release a formal statement to-night, Australian time.  About time, too: ever since his notorious Advent pastoral letter five years ago, calling for women priests and the usual collection of liberal nostrums, he's been justly examined, and in due course found wanting.  While I have no direct evidence, I would assume, given my own experiences of such men, that he is the usual intolerant liberal, suppressing those who would want doctrinal and disciplinary and liturgical correctness – "Scratch a liberal, find a fascist".  Good riddance to the whinger he's proven himself to be!

I rather hope that the similarly-wretched priests backing him, who are apparently contemplating resigning en masse, take their own advice.  Given the lack of vocations for Toowoomba, one suspects they are the sort of priests having a contraceptive (even an abortifacient) mindset as regards vocations (in other words, they are self-hating priests) – I recall meeting a young bloke, Joseph, from that accursed diocese, who was pursuing a vocation, but after attempting to swim against the tide in Queensland, he gave up.  No doubt the aCatholics and their clerical wing, SWAG readers all, will be wailing; I just hope they get the message, and other bishops, too.  Will CathNews even attempt to be objective, as opposed to siding with Morris?

I have long been sick to death of priests, yes, and bishops too, who take the pay-cheque and tyrannize their congregations, all the while teaching and living, not the Catholic Faith, but alien beliefs.  Let them go the way of South Brisbane (why is Queensland the locus for all this, I wonder?), or join the Anglicans, and let those who actually believe and accept the doctrines of the Catholic Church have priests and bishops who also share them, rather than shitten shepherds, as Chaucer put it.

Significantly enough, Morris was ordained a priest in 1969, meaning that his formation occurred during the years when, drunk on change, the Church was in uproar, and the decisions of the Council were used to legitimate all manner of madness.  He demonstrates in his writing, both of that infamous pastoral and of his letter of resignation, what Pope St Pius X long ago diagnosed as the skilful Modernist manner of advancing misbelief by dissembling, always protesting that deliberately ambiguous words should be taken in whatever sense seems expedient, while by those words seeking to corrupt and pervert the Faith.  Such men are cowardly: if he really and honestly wants women priests et al., let him defy Rome openly, ordain them, and lead off his followers into what he would regard as the true Church.  Again, good riddance.

It's about time the mediocrity and heterodoxy in the Church in Australia gets rooted out.  Canon Law has been ignored too long: it's taken the secular courts to pursue those guilty of sexual abuse; now I hope Rome will start repairing the damage caused to the faithful by doctrinal and liturgical abuse.  Sad to say, in both cases the damage has resulted in an epidemic of Stockholm Syndrome, whereby the victims, brainwashed, side with their abusers, and reject those who would deliver them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Exsultantis Ecclesiæ

O LORD,  receive, we beseech Thee, the gifts which Thy Church offers in her Festal Joy; and forasmuch as Thou hast so greatly occasioned her rejoicing, grant that it may be eternally fruitful to Thy praise.
— thus far the Secret of the Mass for Low Sunday, as given on a very nice little Anglican holy card in my possession (punctuation added).  Patrimony!  (Within the initial O is a tiny illustration of the priest elevating the Host at the altar, rays of glory streaming forth.)  This version slightly augments the last phrase of the prayer, but in a perfectly reasonable manner.

The Latin original itself is very beautiful indeed:
Suscipe munera, Domine, quæsumus, exsultantis Ecclesiæ: et cui causam tanti gaudii præstitisti, perpetuæ fructum concede lætitiæ.  Per...
(Receive the gifts, Lord, we beg, of the exultant Church: and to whom Thou hast given cause for such joy, grant the fruit of everlasting rejoicing.  Through...)
How good it was to hear in the Holy Gospel that the disciples, seeing the Lord, rejoiced!  Ever may we so do.  We ought indeed rejoice, exult, dance, skip, and sing, for this is the Easter of Easter, the Eighth Day of the Eighth Day, the Octave of Pascha, the Sunday of the Sunday of Sundays.  The Lord is risen, alleluia, we cry, and for eight days have celebrated His victorious triumph: to-day, Low Sunday, or St Thomas Sunday, or Divine Mercy Sunday, we rejoice in the Resurrection most gladly and mightily, as is most fitting and good.

Years and years ago, a friend dispelled whatever doubts I may have had about the rebranding of this Sunday, by passing on a pamphlet detailing how the Fathers, St Augustine and other worthies, thus glorified this, the Octave Day of the Lord's Resurrection, and how, therefore, to insist upon the well of Divine mercy being even more abundantly overflowing to-day was eminently Primitive and Catholic.

But I would like to share somewhat of my own especial joy at serving Sung Mass in Hobart this day, despite being a bit overwrought by having to drive down and back as fast as possible (a round trip of 414 km, says the odometer), given commitments at home, despite the gloomy, cloudy, rainy weather, making the road slippery; and the highway is in quite poor condition, too.

Suffice to say that I drove off at 8:30 am, stopt for coffee very briefly at Campbell Town (1/3 of the way to Hobart down the Midlands Highway, my usual pausing place), drove on, vexed by traffic, and arriving at St Canice at 11:15 am, quite angry in point of fact with everyone and everything!

But come Mass, beginning at 11:30 am, I took up my duty as M.C., answered the Judica me, then Father's Confiteor, recited my own and on behalf of all, supervised the servers (and gently guided our esteemed priest) through the Mass, standing at Father's left through the Canon (except for kneeling at the Consecration, raising the chasuble at the Elevations), looking upon Our Lord, Priest and Victim, in His Sacrament, receiving Him in Holy Communion, then holding the communion plate as Father houselled the people at the altar rails, returning to the altar step and kneeling down till the tabernacle was closed, supervising the last ceremonies, holding the altar card up for the reading of the Last Gospel, and finally processing back to the sacristy with the minister and servers for a blessing.

Mass ended at 12:45 pm, and all had gone very smoothly (despite my one blunder of forgetting to have Fr Quinn bless the incense at the middle of the altar before going to read the Gospel), though I did wish I could have been singing with the choir.  There was just time afterwards to finish off with prayer, say a few hellos and thankyous, and down a piece of some sort of cake on offer, before by 1 pm or so I had to be back on the road.

Petrol bought, back up North I headed, again stopping very briefly for coffee and a sandwich at Campbell Town, before I made it home at 3:45 pm.  I feel quite strung out by all the rush (for it's no joke to do the round trip to Hobart and back in just over two and a half hours each way, not counting my stops), but revitalized by the Mass.

Quasimodo – today's Introit, from which the Mass of this Sunday takes its name – begins a very notable Proper: the Epistle (I John v, 4-10) speaks so movingly of our faith, as being the victory which overcomes the world.  Blessed be the three witnesses on earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; blessed be the Three in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, Who are One.  Baptism into the Trinity: by this we receive the supernatural infused gift of Catholic Faith, that intellectual virtue superadded to the faculties of our souls, whereby we believe and trust in God, fearing and loving Him, hoping in His promises, for His is the victory, and so by our faith we have part therein.

I was reminded, while standing on the altar step at his side, listening to Father read the Epistle, of the noble Collect that was inserted into the modern Mass for this day, which (thanks to Fr Z) I can give as follows:
Deus misericordiae sempiternae, qui in ipso paschalis festi recursu fidem sacratae tibi plebis accendis, auge gratiam quam dedisti, ut digna omnes intellegentia comprehendant, quo lavacro abluti, quo spiritu regenerati, quo sanguine sunt redempti. Per...
O God of mercy eternal, who on this recurrence of the paschal feast dost kindle the faith of a people sanctified to Thyself, increase the grace which Thou hast given, so that with worthy understanding all may comprehend by what laver they were washed, by what Spirit they were regenerated, by what Blood they were redeemed. Through...
It says it all so beautifully, so rightly, and with just the right allusion to the endless mercy of our Good God.

May we hold fast to the Paschal triumph's profits in our life and way of living (cf. the Collect); may we have perpetual rejoicing at so great a joy given to the Church (cf. Secret); may the holy, sacred mysteries we receive safeguard us and be to us a sovereign remedy now and always (cf. Postcommunion); may we cry out by faith with St Thomas, My Lord and my God!  For the Gospel shews us how profitable to us all was his wavering; his act of faith confirms and strengthens our own, and gives us moreover the perfect prayer at the Elevation of the Host. Attendance at the Holy Sacrifice ought ever gain for us great increase of faith: as Father concluded his homily by suggesting, we ought pray, Lord, increase our faith –  Domine, adauge nobis fidem.  

The rest of the proper chants all reinforce our joy in Christ Truly Risen: "Alleluia, alleluia. On the day of My Resurrection, says the Lord, I will go before you into Galilee, alleluia"; "After eight days, the doors being shut, Jesus stood in the midst of His disciples and said: Peace be to you, alleluia"; "An angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and said to the women: He whom you seek is risen, as He said, alleluia"; "Put in thy hand, and know the place of the nails, alleluia; and be not faithless, but believing, alleluia, alleluia."  Alleluia sine fine!
At the offertory, the choir sang out O Filii et Filiæ, happy song of God's rejoicing children, glad in the Holy Ghost at Christ's rising to everlasting life.  While I wasn't able to give them full attention, being caught up in the liturgy at the altar, I do recall their last words sung: Deo dicamus gratias, alleluia – "Thanks be to God we cry, alleluia".