Monday, May 27, 2013

Sydney Ordinariate Parish UPDATE

I received the following kind email to-day:

Kevin said… 
I ran into this site by chance and am totally astounded at the detail, and capture of what we are about.  It is very good indeed. 
I have been with the Anglican Catholic movement since it hit Australia in the 1980s, and am the acolyte who served the Ordinariate Mass on that fourth Sunday of Lent – Simnel-cake disaster and all. 
For any visitor to this site, please note that, for good reasons, we have now moved to the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at 76 Fiddens Wharf Road, Killara with the new style of Holy Cross Parish and celebrate Holy Mass at 11.00am on Sundays. 
Regretfully, for architectural reasons, we are forced to celebrate the Mass versus populum, but it is the same Anglican Use liturgy as at North Turramurra.  We are Catholics, former Anglicans, adjusting to a new environment and full of thanks for the hospitality of the Lindfield-Killara Catholic parish. 
We should now have quite a deal going for us, an unswerving devotion to Anglican usage, a comfortable Church, a convenient time of day - we are with friends, and no longer in the boondocks. We would very much like people to find us and help us grow.

Of your charity, dear reader, pray for the new Holy Cross Parish, and – if in Sydney – do pay them a visit, and "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness".

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God in Three Persons

You, therefore, God the Father, by whom as Creator we live; you, Wisdom of the Father, by whom we have been made anew and taught to live wisely; you, Holy Spirit whom and in whom we love and so live happily, and are to live yet more so; you, who are Three in one Substance, the one God, from whom we are, by whom we are, in whom we are; you, from whom we departed by sinning, to whom we were made unlike, but away from whom we have not been allowed to perish; you the Beginning to whom we are returning, the Pattern we are following, the Grace by which we are reconciled: you we worship and bless! To you be glory forever! Amen.
— William of St Thierry

(A beautiful act of adoration from this Sunday's local parish bulletin. I haven't read William of St Thierry for years, but it reminds me to return to his holy words.)

Farewell Whitsuntide, Paschaltide, and Regina cæli

This week I have striven to say some of the Breviary Hours, thus participating in some degree in the liturgy of Whitsuntide, the Octave of Pentecost, the last echo of the Paschal season. Just as in the Extraordinary Form, the traditional, immemorial form of the Roman Rite, Lent is preceded by Septuagesimatide, beginning 63 days before Easter Sunday, so the Octave of Pentecost follows on and continues the celebration of Pentecost, the fiftieth day of Easter, until the 56th day, Whit Saturday. (If, as is now common, Corpus Christi is kept on the Sunday after Trinity, the Solemnity of the Sacrament of the Altar falls on the 64th day, 63 days after Easter, exactly parallel to Septuagesima Sunday 63 days before Easter.)

At midday this Whit Saturday, walking back to my car after brunch, I prayed for the last time this year the Regina cæli, which I first repeated with the special Premonstratensian and Dominican forms:
Regina cæli, lætare, alleluja,
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluja,
Spiritum misit, sicut dixit, alleluja:
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluja. (O.Præm.) 
Regina cæli, lætare, alleluja,
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluja,
Jam ascendit, sicut dixit, alleluja:
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluja. (O.P.) 
Regina cæli, lætare, alleluja,
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluja,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluja:
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluja.
("Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia, for He Whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia, hath sent the Spirit / now ascended / risen again, as He said, alleluia: pray for us to God, alleluia.")

Eastertide ends after None; first Vespers of the Holy Trinity marks the beginning of the long Sundays per annum. This year, Trinity Sunday falls on the feast of St Philip Neri, and he will not be marked by any commemoration because of this (except among his sons the Oratorians, who transfer his feast to Monday); he will I am sure be pleased by this coincidence, being one who preferred to hide his sanctity, and who has now been "hidden with Christ in God" for over four hundred years. "Eternity!" – such he once cried; and what must that be like?

I will be serving at the parish vigil Mass this evening, and will be asking St Philip's prayers – not least for the Oratorians throughout the world, and specially for those in process of establishing a new Oratory in Brisbane. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Credo in Spiritum Sanctum

I believe in the Holy Ghost – He is the uncreated, perfect, animating, vivifying, enlivening Lord, Who moved upon the waters at Creation, Who is sent forth and makes and creates, Who is the spirit and ‘soul’ of the Holy Catholic Church; He is the Communion between the Father and the Son, proceeding from Them Both as from a single principle, worshipped and glorified together with Them in the Unity of the Trinity; He Who is true God with Them, equal in glory and majesty, eternal, infinite, almighty; He spoke in many and divers ways of old through the prophets, in the Law, in the Gospels and through the preaching and teaching of the Apostles and their rightful successors in the Church; He is the communion, the true bond of fellowship, between all the Saints, those elected and made holy by His divine indwelling grace, first imparted at Holy Baptism (the water thereof made holy by the secret admixture of His grace, as once He sanctified Jordan); He is invoked to illapse upon Holy Church's offerings, sanctifying and blessing them, transsubstantiating the elements into the Holy Gifts (for what is wonderfully accomplished by the words of the Second Person is at one and the same time accomplished by the blessing of the First and the epicletic overshadowing of the Third, since all works external to the Trinity are the common work of all Three), just as He by His overshadowing joined once for all Body and Blood to the Eternal Word, the very sacramental Gifts that are now in this time of grace given to make holy those who receive them, that they may become what they are (the second marvellous conversion, the sacred commerce of the sacrament), imparting the Fire of the Spirit to those christified by the Body and the Blood; He is Himself the Forgiveness of Sins (as one of the Whitsuntide Collects prays); He guarantees (as was shewn to the prophet Ezechiel) the resurrection of the flesh, and thus He imparts to this mortal flesh immortal vigour, that it may endure unto life eternal, world without end. Amen.
(From a synthesis of the Apostles’, Athanasian and Nicene Creeds, with respect also to the Armenian version of the Nicene: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, in the uncreated and the perfect; Who spoke through the Law, prophets, and Gospels; Who came down upon the Jordan, preached through the apostles, and lived in the saints.”)

Pentecost Sunday is the anniversary of my baptism, confirmation and first Communion, now just over a quarter century ago – how strange that sounds... I suppose that Sunday Mass in my parish was at nine o'clock in the morning, the same time as it still is (though this year I have instead been to the vigil Mass at six in the evening, where I assisted with the singing of the Ordinary, appropriate hymns and the Latin Sequence): how appropriate, just as on that Whitsun morn 1,980 years ago St Peter's preaching drew the first harvest of souls to the waters of rebirth.

God the Holy Ghost, save and sanctify me a most unworthy sinner.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pentecost Last Year

Last year, I began Pentecost Sunday, the 25th anniversary of my baptism &c., by serving Fr Rowe's Low Mass at a very early hour, alongside many other priests and servers saying Masses at temporary altars, in a tent in a field somewhere in France (for an image of a like scene from 2005, see this photo): for I was on the Chartres Pilgrimage. Having found the pace and the heat and the burden of the first day's march too much (nearly 40 km), I had resolved to cease and desist, realizing I wasn't up to the standard; so after Mass, I packed up and watched the great pilgrim host depart, before arranging to get to the local train station (thanks to the kindness of the French volunteers), and then heading on to Chartres via Paris (again, given directions thanks to a fellow pilgrim who was also unable to continue). Having arrived at Chartres somewhat after midday, I dragged myself to my accommodation, booked an extra night, at last had a shower! said my prayers, ate some of the rations I'd shouldered in my day pack, and turned in: I think I slept for eighteen hours. That was my Pentecost in 2012.

Being a little tired, and having this evening attended the vigil Mass, I think I shall sleep in tomorrow, as seems fitting...

Pray for the Chartres pilgrims: it is a very tough slog, and I can but salute them in their fervour and commitment. Pray too for France, once more cutting off her nose to spite her face. Christendom, awake!

Trahison des clercs

Kate, over at her blog Australia Incognita, has been publishing a hard-hitting if necessarily depressing series of posts (here is a link to her latest summary) about what ought be done to arrest the decline and fall of Catholicism in Australia, a series I have been following with interest if also with uncomfortable recognition of painful realities.

Here are some thoughts of mine on this topic, from notes I jotted down while walking...

Regarding both priests and laity, the collapse of the symbolic universe that was the Catholic Faith began at the time of the Council, when the world, and the Church also, were subjected to great cultural revolutions, the results of which are still being played out. In retrospect, one may wryly surmise, perhaps those who left at the outset of the changes (clergy and layfolk alike) were the most quick-witted: they saw the collapse of former verities and drew the appropriate conclusions!

The still-unfolding crisis relating to sexual abuse of children by priests is another bitter fruit of everything going haywire. Of course most priests are not pedophiles: but it would be simplistic to assume that the only moral failures among their ranks are criminal – for every one who deserves prison, there must, as statistics would suggest, be more who have arranged other compromises with carnality, whether concubinage or attendance at places of low repute.

Turning to matters spiritual instead, it is an open secret that many do not pray the Office; and given the low standard of preaching, they cannot spend too much time searching the Scriptures, let alone perusing the Fathers or approved authors. Doubtless weekend football has much to answer for; but as my mother once asked me, what do priests do all day? Laymen in professional careers attend meetings, as do those who are ordained; but here the analogy ends, for such laymen do in fact work full time, whereas even close contact with priests leaves me convinced that only a minority ever have.

The minority of Catholics who still practise their faith now see that their leaders and 'betters' were hypocrites and worse – we read daily in the news and see on our televisions unrebutted allegations of the utter moral turpitude of the very hierarchy Catholics once revered: we have the filth and wickedness of "men of God" paraded before our faces. No wonder non-Catholics fear and hate the Church! They have, alas, in all this mess good reason! After all, if some were moral monsters, that is bad enough; but to find out how hand-wringing, ineffectual faffing about, malign neglect and even winking at crime while covering it up was all too common is to discover how even priests and bishops have completely lost their moral compass.

Surely a man of common decency, upon learning of such abominations, would have stopped at nothing to have such evil ministers defrocked and excommunicated (as St Paul excommunicated the incestuous member of the church at Corinth; see I Cor. v, 1-5) – the commonsense deduction is that those who did little or nothing were completely indifferent. No doubt the purely passive virtues of jellylike uselessness and pretended compassion more for perpetrators than victims will be invoked by those who should have acted with manly vigour instead. What must be the judgement meted out to those prelates who have died with such matters on their conscience?

The symbolic universe of Catholicism has been destroyed. Without a coherent view of the natural and supernatural world, there is no future for Catholic belief – and such a coherent vision has been smashed. "My people is destroyed for lack of knowledge" says the Lord Almighty (Hosea 4:6).  If only, say, a woman believing in her right to ordination held otherwise to orthodox belief; but it transpires that any and all doctrines are up for debate, the mere fact that such-and-such used to be a dogma almost guaranteeing that it will be mocked and rejected in favour of arrant nonsense. Religious sisters of a certain age and dress sense, and their lapses into strange novelties, are a case in point: out with the kneelers, in with the bean bags, coloured candles and amateur arts-and-crafts.

Of old, the Jansenists claimed that a general darkness and confusion had crept in and obscured the true doctrines of the Church (such as, they pretended, a neglect of the stricter views of the great Augustine); that claim was rightly condemned, but it would be perfectly easy to assert the truth of this statement with regard to the general ignorance, not to say dissent and heterodoxy, that is common throughout parishes (and presbyteries) these days. I recall, as a humorous example, the laywoman who told me without a trace of a smile that Vatican II called for whole-wheat hosts... she appeared miffed when I rolled my eyes and speculated aloud on the likelihood that three thousand bishops met for three years to decide on that, but then again, given the usual importance of episcopal conference statements, I may have been assuming too much.

The irony is that the great desire of many aCatholics, apparently – that Catholicism might by stages approximate to Episcopalianism – is a mirage; and even if it were possible (by going into practical schism from Rome to an ever greater degree, which to be honest has been a strategy employed fairly successfully over the last four decades throughout Australia and beyond), it would only speed the rate of decline.  After all, if our religion is reduced to pious foolery adorning secularism, what need is there for playing at church at all? Again, the honest ones gave up Christianity as ridiculous long ago, and the generations that have grown up have only given way to practical atheism more and more completely, to the extent that even in a Catholic school it is a rarity for many of either staff or students to, for instance, regularly attend Sunday Mass (or even think that doing so might be of theoretical importance for some strange reason).

Consider the former Bishop of Toowoomba, whom Benedict XVI noted to have lacked the theological and mental calibre to ever have been worthily appointed a bishop – and yet one assumes the official rescript of his appointment, as read out by the Nuncio when Morris was consecrated, contained the usual platitudes about his eminent abilities and virtues. It need hardly be stated that many of his peers would most probably fall in a like category, but merely have managed to keep their dafter opinions sufficiently quiet – I recall hearing of one of Australia's younger bishops, who upon first attending the Bishops' Conference was horrified by the low intellectual and cultural level.

And what is said of bishops is certainly true of priests: consider the one who in a homily in my hearing said that, when Our Lord died on the Cross, He didn't know He would rise again – what heresy! has the man (a "scripture scholar") never read the Gospels, wherein Christ clearly spoke of His coming death and resurrection? But I suppose I am succumbing to fundamentalism, and ought not fall into the sin of daring to criticise the Lord's Anointed (funny how clericalism never really dies, but is a truly hydra-headed monster)... 

Or again consider the typical sort of priest whose views on sexuality are rather at odds with Humanæ vitæ (as is the norm for Catholics and has been since 1968). When did you last hear a sermon against fornication (a rather common sin, yet strangely never criticised), or unnatural practices, or contraception, or anything of that sort? Yet surely the Magisterium still takes the age-old view that such things are rotten and gravely sinful. Of course, in "reality", this, and much if not all else that makes up the symbolic framework of Catholicism, is simply no longer believed. There is great cognitive dissonance between the actual objective content of the Faith, and the confused and subjective hold on it possessed by the average Australian Catholic – hence the paradox whereby the "liberals" who in fact hold much authority in the Church are yet still angry and afflicted with feelings of powerlessness to overcome nasty old Rome.

Recall Neuhaus' words: orthodoxy, if made optional, will sooner or later be prohibited; to which I add (from whereever I suppose I first heard it), doctrines not preached are not believed. I recall too what a Lutheran pastor mentioned to me: that he was sick of meeting self-hating Catholics who couldn't wait to tell him how proudly they dissented from the teachings of their Church, little realizing that he, as a zealous and orthodox Lutheran, was if anything closer to Rome and to more than mere Christianity than they were.

Catholicism, as played out in most parts of Australia, has no future. Evangelism, by a body not believing its own teachings, nor following even its most basic professed morals, but exposed to all and sundry as a nest of fools and perverts, is a sick joke, not a realistic hope. Looking around my own parish Mass – blessed with a good and dedicated priest, I hasten to add – I see very few children and young people, as Father himself lamented only last week. Our priest, though hale and hearty, is eighty; the congregation is fast catching up to him; I see a far healthier spread of ages at the monthly Latin Mass in Hobart!

Come, Holy Spirit, save us who cry to Thee! Descend with Thy Divine Fire and purge us of our unbelief and wickedness! Save us from ourselves!