Monday, 30 June 2014

Blessed Sacrament Procession

I was invited to celebrate the annual Blessed Sacrament Procession for St Anselm's College in Birkenhead on the Wirral last week.  It was a lovely occasion and what a treat it was to enter into a school where the Faith genuinely seemed to be at the forefront of school life, where boys enthusiastically took part as servers and assistants and seemed at ease with the things and acts of the Faith.  We sang "Soul of my Saviour",  the "Tantum Ergo".  There was a great display of photos  as soon as you entered the College of Bishop Mark Davies' visit to the school earlier in the year.  I finished my homily with his words to the boys:
I would like to say to each of you that where the Holy Eucharist is found, you will also find the answer to the greatest question of your lifetime. Here you will find your true vocation.

The Head, staff and governors, as well as the boys, made me feel very welcome.  So often my experience in our "Catholic" schools has taught me to expect that any number of staff will avoid the priest or be embarrassed; that pupils have no idea of who or what the priest is; and that things of the Faith are very much a low priority - and I speak as someone who was in full time Catholic school chaplaincy work for three years.

I think the photographs speak for themselves.  If only my own school and so many others would enter into this kind of commitment to the public proclamation of the Faith in all its glory!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sanctum Paupertatem

A design by Duncan Stroik for Saint Bernadette Church in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Currently being designed, the exterior is comprised of a beige stucco and limestone accents with an Ionic façade, statuary, and a bell tower.  The large windows of the clerestory and transepts illuminate the nave and sanctuary with natural light.

I have just received the latest edition of the Journal of Sacred Architecture and, as ever, there is an excellent Editorial by Duncan Stroik. Fortunately, Crisis Magazine is carrying the article, so I haven't had to type it out word for word! 

“How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless, and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.”  
—Pope Francis, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.
 What is the architectural corollary of Saint Francis of Assisi’s “holy poverty”? Is it the shantytowns of the third world or the stylish minimalism of first-world condominiums? When we build churches, schools, and soup kitchens, should they be cheap or at least look cheap? Not if the Franciscans of the past built them. In fact, history teaches how we should build through the example of the great philanthropists, religious orders, bishops, and saints. From the geometrical harmony of the Servites’ Foundling Hospital in Florence to Saint John Bosco’s house for boys in Torino, there is a type of Catholic building that is built to last with a sense of beauty. Some would question why we should spend great sums of money on architecture, when what the poor really need are buildings that meet their functional needs. And yet, following Mother Theresa and other great saints, to serve the poor means serving not only their material needs but their spiritual needs as well. Good architecture does both: it provides buildings and rooms for people to live in, study in, and work in while doing it in a way that can inspire.
Do the poor need beauty? Yes, maybe even more than other people do. The poor need beauty to ennoble them, to raise them up out of the morass of this fallen world. For many, their existing surroundings may not inspire them, so beautiful, durable architecture can have a salutary effect. We see the desire for beauty and tradition expressed in the parishes and schools built by poor immigrants in previous centuries. Their own houses may have been simple, but their communal home sought to be a work of art, full of iconography and richness. It is true that the rich and the middle class can afford many distractions: artwork, books, museums, travel, and entertainment where they oftentimes come in contact with beauty, serenity, and even the divine. Yet for those less well-off, where do they find the richness of culture and the majesty of nature but in the dome of a cathedral or the stained glass of a church?
 Some years ago, my students designed and built a house for Habitat for Humanity. One of the leaders of the organization visited the house and was shocked to see brickwork below the front porch (matching the older houses in the neighborhood). “You can’t make this house nicer than the other Habitat homes—you will make the other owners jealous.” In his view, the poor deserved only the lowest common denominator. The house was meant not so much to beautify or dignify the occupants but only to provide for their material needs. In a small way I would like to think these students were unwittingly imitating Dorothy Day, who once gave a diamond ring to a bag lady. Upon being questioned by a Catholic Worker staff member on whether it would have been better to sell the ring and use the money for the poor, Dorothy said, “Do you suppose that God created diamonds only for the rich?”
 Do the poor need a different or lesser architecture than other Americans? They too can feel the solidity of brickwork, the generosity of a porch, the human scale of baseboard and cornice, and the quality of natural materials. Likewise, they too are affected by mechanistic façades and oppressive interiors that do not elevate the spirit. When we welcome them to the homeless shelter, the school, the soup kitchen, the medical clinic, the pregnancy center, or the unwed mothers’ home, we welcome them to our house. Nothing less than the best is acceptable. We roll out the red carpet for them, since we believe “as you did it to the least of My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

High Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart

For anyone who might be able to get to Leyland.

High Mass 
for the 
Feast of the Sacred Heart
Friday 27th June
at 7.30pm.

We are blest to have some visiting priests assisting as celebrant, Deacon and Preacher.
Visiting Schola to sing the Mass.
Buffet supper afterwards and a glass of something celebratory!
Please note the later than usual time. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

It only takes two bishops

There is a chess strategy whereby you can win with just two bishops. 
Here are two who might be just the men for the job.

Two American Bishops this week have made strong statements reinforcing the actual teaching of the Church in the light of Vatican II instead of the nebulous "spirit" of the Council, which has so often been deformed to lend spurious support to all manner of inappropriate and ill-conceived ideas.

I met Archbishop Cordileone last year in London.

First, an interview carried by the New Liturgical Movement, given by the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco.  This concentrates on the language of the liturgy mandated by the Second Vatican Council - Latin; and the music mandated by the same Council - Chant  and polyphony.
"It was not the mind of the Council to abolish the use of Latin in the liturgy by any means; quite the contrary."

Second, the Most Rev. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, has issued a has issued a pastoral letter called Ars celebrandi et adorandi… The art of celebrating and worshipping.  This tells his priests in no uncertain terms to put the tabernacles back in the centre of the church.
"In order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain."

Monday, 23 June 2014

Corpus Christi

The Corpus Christi is proving to be an extended event for me this year. We celebrated Missa Cantata on Thursday evening with a piccolo festa afterwards, when we ran out of wine - temporarily, at least. (No miracle just a trip back to the presbytery!)  We ended the main Mass on Sunday morning with a short procession (complete with scattered rose petals) and outdoor Benediction. The above seems to be the only photo that has surfaced. If I look a little bemused behind the Monstrance, its because one of my cats had joined the throng and was threading its way though the kneeling parishioners. I will have a third instalment of the feast on Thursday of this week, as I've been invited to a school back on my home territory of the Wirral to lead a Blessed Sacrament Procession.  Good for them that they are making the effort to promote veneration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. ((They are without an official chaplain at the moment).

It would be great to see a drive for the Church to re-instate great outdoor processions as a public promotion of the Faith.  I understand that we are to be treated to another visit from the giant puppets on the streets of Liverpool this year.  The appetite for an afternoon out watching a procession (however bizarre) seems to be alive and well.  I'm all for the festival atmosphere that traditionally accompanies such processions on the Continent. I seem to recall a Blessed Sacrament Procession for the Jubilee Year was suggested in Liverpool by Fr Gary Walsh (RIP) of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers from their church up to the Cathedral but nothing ever came of it.  Some popular public reassertions of the catholic Faith might be just the ticket in regaining some of our battered confidence and public image.  

Some further photos at Torch of the Faith.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Good news this week that a seven-member board of medical advisers has unanimously approved the miracle to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Thus paving the way to his possible beatification.  In his day he was an enormously popular TV personality, preaching some hard-hitting catholic truths on mainstream U.S. television.  Would that we had someone with his communication skills today.  What he was able to do bears witness to the fact that watering down the truths of the Faith doesn't grab anyone's attention.  Offering a true alternative to the philosophies of the world does grab people's attention - if only we could regain the confidence to speak them to the modern world. Come Holy Spirit!  

Fulton Sheen is known to have had criticisms of some of the bad fruits of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council.  Having just returned from a visit to an excellent Catholic School I was interested to find this little quote from him; an opinion I hear ever more frequently from those Catholics still practising their Faith in this country. Truly Catholic schools, where the Faith is put first and taught without compromise, are surely few and far between, in the UK at any rate.
(In American terms a "public" school is the equivalent of a state school here in the UK.)

Here is a coverage with some details from the National Catholic Register.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the beloved American Catholic televangelist, took a major step closer to beatification and sainthood, as a team of Vatican experts verified that science cannot explain the reviving and complete healing of a stillborn baby that is credited to his intercession.
“Today is a significant step in the cause for the beatification and canonization of our beloved Fulton Sheen, a priest of Peoria and a son of the Heartland, who went on to change the world,” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., announced in a statement.
News that the seven-member board of medical advisers had unanimously approved the miracle to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints first reached the Diocese of Peoria early Thursday morning, March 6.
“I got the first email shortly after 5am, and I tell you, I didn’t need a cup of coffee to get going,” said Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation, which is handling Venerable Fulton Sheen’s cause.
“The fact that we have this unanimous decision from them, that there is no explanation [for this miracle], is a major shot in the arm for the cause,” he said. “It moves the cause forward in a significant way.”
The approval of the alleged miracle means that Archbishop Sheen has cleared the first hurdle toward beatification, but he still has more steps to go. The next step involves the Vatican’s board of theologians, who will scrutinize whether the miracle God worked can be attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen alone and no other person. After that, the alleged miracle will undergo further review by a panel of cardinals, and then, finally, it will move along to the Pope.
An informed Vatican official said the miracle is “under study at present,” but the Congregation for the Causes of Saints does not know when a final decision will be made.
“The theologians will primarily be looking at whether we can definitively attribute this miraculous healing to the intercession of Fulton J. Sheen,” Msgr. Deptula said. “We believe that that is clearly demonstrated in the documents we have and the witness testimony.”

Born Dead, Now Alive
Bonnie Engstrom, whose completely healthy son, James Fulton, is the stillborn baby allegedly healed through Archbishop Sheen’s intercession, told the Register the family was overjoyed with the news.
“Right now, I am just thrilled. We’re going to have steak for dinner; we’re going out for ice cream — we are just going to celebrate this. It is so exciting,” said Engstom, a mother of six who also blogs at A Knotted Life.
Engstrom told the Register that she and her husband, Travis, had entrusted this particular pregnancy from the outset to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen. Throughout the pregnancy, all the signs pointed to a healthy, normal pregnancy. And then came the delivery, at their home in Goodfield, Ill., on Sept. 16, 2010: Their newborn had no pulse, and for the next 61 minutes, a nightmare unfolded.
Engstrom was going into shock. Travis called 911 and performed an emergency baptism before ambulance crews came to rush the baby to the hospital. Bonnie only had one thought.
“I remember sitting there, on my bedroom floor, saying Fulton Sheen’s name over and over again,” she said. “That was about as close to a prayer I could get.”
Her shock at the unfolding scene made it “impossible for me to think of anything else,” shared Engstrom.
For 61 minutes, James Fulton Engstrom had no pulse and was medically dead, as medical professionals did their best but failed to resuscitate him. The only hope they had was to revive the infant long enough for Bonnie and Travis to hold him and say their brief hellos and good-byes. When the doctors finally gave up and started to certify death, Engstrom said, “that’s when his heart shot up to 148 beats per minute” — just like any healthy newborn.
Engstrom said she later learned that her husband had been fast at work starting a prayer chain in that difficult hour, asking others to pray — all over the world — specifically for Archbishop Sheen to intercede and ask God to save their little boy.
Astonished by James Fulton’s inexplicable return from death, the doctors told the Engstroms that their son must have suffered severe organ damage from the oxygen deprivation and would be severely disabled. Those predictions, however, never came to pass, and their baby was soon weaned off the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit machines and drugs.
“He’ll now be 4 in September,” Engstrom said. “He’s a normal, healthy little boy — just cute and really happy.”

Three Apparent Miracles Documented
The case of the apparent miraculous healing of James Fulton Engstrom was actually one of three fully documented cases that the Diocese of Peoria had to choose from. However, for the beatification process, they could only forward one to the Vatican.
The first case involved a woman who had died on the operating table. She revived for no medically explicable reason. Msgr. Deptula said the second case involved a baby born with five or six life-threatening conditions and was miraculously cured. The third case was James Engstrom’s healing, which seemed the most incredible candidate out of all three.
But the alleged miracle in the case of the newborn Engstrom baby is also a “very significant” symbol for Archbishop Sheen’s canonization process.
“Fulton Sheen’s own ministry had such a pro-life ministry,” Msgr. Deptula said. “He was one of the people very early on who warned this country was heading toward the sin of abortion and really promoted the idea of adopting unborn children spiritually and praying for them.”

The Next Phase
If the alleged miracle gets the Pope’s approval, and Fulton Sheen is beatified, he will need another confirmed miracle for the canonization process. The miracle count resets, in a sense, and a new miracle must be recorded as happening after the beatification (although, as in the case of John XXIII, the Pope can waive the second-miracle requirement). Once there is a strong candidate, the process of scrutinizing the miracle repeats.
“My husband and I are praying for God’s will, and if it’s his will that Fulton Sheen be beatified because of what happened to our son, then that’s really exciting,” Bonnie Engstrom said.
Still, the alleged miracle’s passing such a major test has generated a wave of grateful enthusiasm all over the U.S. Church. Bishop Jenky, whose Peoria Diocese is where the saint first lived and grew up, called the news “a good reason to rejoice.”
The Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., which Archbishop Sheen briefly led from 1966 to 1969, also chimed in its agreement.
“This is joyous news,” said Doug Mandelaro, spokesman for Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano. “We are so proud that this man, who inspired millions, who touched the hearts and souls of so many — and who served as our bishop — is being thus honoured by the Church.”
Father Andrew Apostoli of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a vice postulator for Archbishop Sheen’s cause until 2008, was ordained in 1967 by then-Bishop Sheen himself. Father Apostoli said Archbishop Sheen is the right saint for the times.
“Pope John Paul II told us twice to hurry up with this case,” he said. “Bishop Sheen was a moral force in the country. People listened to him, even ecumenically. He was speaking in synagogues at a time when we didn’t know the meaning of the word ecumenism.”
Archbishop Sheen became most widely known in the U.S. beginning in the 1930s, when he became a popular radio personality; his ministry later moved to television. His Emmy Award-winning weekly TV program, Life Is Worth Living, eventually reached 30 million viewers in the United States.
Father Apostoli noted that the highest percentages of religious groups that listened to him were first, Jews; second, Protestants; and, third, Catholics.
“A lot respected him, which was tremendous,” he said.

A Model for Modern Holiness
Archbishop Sheen is an excellent model for how the Church needs to conduct the New Evangelization “using new and modern tools,” said Msgr. Deptula.
“No one is a better example of that than Fulton Sheen. He captured the attention of a generation,” he said. “That’s the kind of evangelist we need today.”
For Bonnie Engstrom, Archbishop Fulton Sheen inspires her to become a saint, especially because she relates well to him: They’re both born and raised in the small towns of central Illinois (just a 20-minute drive apart) that look like typical small-town America.
It’s the humble side of this great man’s roots, she said, that gives her great confidence in his example.
“It just makes holiness seem so much more attainable — that I can do something great for Christ, even though I live in a really small town, and my life can seem so basic.”

Heavenly Father, source of all holiness,You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication.  You have blessed your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people.
If it be according to Your Will, for the honour and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint.  We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

+Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C.
Bishop of Peoria

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Corpus Christi

For those near enough to attend, there will be a Missa Cantata
this Thursday 19th June at 7pm
in honour of Corpus Christi,
followed by a buffet reception in the Saint John Paul Room.

There will also be a Blessed Sacrament Procession on Sunday
at the end of the 10am Mass
(Novus Ordo with Latin)

Monday, 16 June 2014

First Sunday High Mass in York for fifty years

The first High Mass celebrated in York on a Sunday for about fifty years took place on Pentecost Sunday at St Wilfrid's Church in the city centre, which is being looked after by the Oratorian Fathers.

Video courtesy of Mike Forbester.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Chevagnes International College

High Mass during the Octave of Pentecost

I had the great experience of visiting Chevagnes International College for a few days last week.  Set up in 2002, it offers a traditional English Public School education but in very much in the Catholic Tradition. Pupils come from various European countries but the everyday language in the school is English - apart from in church, of course!  The boys attend Mass every day as well as morning and night prayers in the lovely chapel. Mass can be experienced at varying times in the week in the Traditional Form, in the modern form and even - once a week - in English.

A boarding school - particularly if it styles itself as "traditional" can summon up a rather severe picture in some minds but it seemed to have a very happy atmosphere where the boys were as happy jostling to serve Mass in the sacristy as they were to be running out to the football field.  It was a novel experience to be in a school where chatting to the priest and talking of matters of Faith was perfectly normal.  Would that all the schools proclaiming themselves "Catholic" were managing to truly put the Faith at the heart of the school.  It seems that it is possible to celebrate Mass every day in a school and still have time for lessons, exams, house jobs, sport and running wild occasionally as well!

The purpose of my visit was to talk to the boys about the work of the Order of St Lazarus. As the school could be said have the education of children into Catholic Gentleman as its purpose, the link with an Order of Chivalry and knighthood was an easy one to make.

 Ite, Missa est.

 The Chapel - part of the complex that was once a Junior Seminary for the diocese.

 (Photos courtesy of Martin Gardey de Soos.)

There's even a School cat - Coco - so what's not to like?

Some of the boys had just returned from the Chartres Pilgrimage, so were pretty footsore and weary.  I couldn't find any photos of that but here's a clip of the College Choir singing in Rome a couple of years ago.
They also have a Facebook page.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


As we prepare to keep the feast of Pentecost, I'm happy to say that the usual Low Mass at 11.30am will be Missa Cantata this week here at St Catherine's, for anyone who might be visiting.

Fr Tim Finigan draws attention to Cardinal Piacenza's letter to priests for Pentecost. Like Fr Finigan, I was sorry when the Cardinal left the Congregation for Clergy and have missed his letters to priests, so am glad that he has taken to writing to us again from his new post. I've blogged about him many times before (Here for example) and have been with him when celebrating Mass - it was the Ordinary Form but the Canon was almost whispered - another little cross fertilisation that hadn't come to mind in my last post.

Here is the good Cardinal's letter:

Dearest friends,
         Gathered spiritually in the Cenacle with the Blessed Virgin Mary and in a spirit of intense ecclesial communion, let us relive the mystery of the “Red Easter”, the descent of the eternal Spirit of Love, who makes the Church alive and renews her unceasingly through the gift of grace with which the Lord has consecrated us for his service: the baptismal and the priestly seal.
         Because the Sacrament of mercy is the door through which the Spirit breaths most effectively in history and guides its path, I would like to share a particular thought on the solemnity of Pentecost with all my brothers who exercise the ministry of Confessor and to all penitents, to assure them that they are daily in my prayers.
         We know very well that, just as our new life is rooted in the mission of the Holy Spirit, so is the very identity of the Church and the vitality of her mission. In the wide “embrace” of Pentecost, the very person of Jesus, Risen and Ascended to Heaven, makes himself present until the end of time in all his disciples and, through them, by the working of the same Spirit, spreads out like a great sigh of mercy. Because of this divine working, the reality of the Person and the saving Love of Christ is no longer something “distant”, as if merely a thing to be imitated but that stays basically unreachable, or an “ideal role model” to follow without ever being able to attain it. On the contrary, this reality becomes the very root of our being, the new reality in which we live, that power of Love by which we are now “inhabited” and that asks that, in the course of the earthly pilgrimage, he might be able to act in the world through us.
         We know, true and immediate as this is for every one of the faithful by virtue of Baptism, it is true for Priests in a particular way. For they have been introduced, not by their own merit but by grace, to a “level of being”, to an intimacy with the Lord, such as to become participants in the Love of his Heart, of his very work of salvation, so much so that the encounter with Christ comes about for the faithful in a real way through them. Priests have been constituted ministers of divine mercy and thus servants of the Divine Love and compassion of Christ.
         For this reason, the Priest, object of mercy, cannot but be always a “man of mercy”.
         His new being gives witness to it and the faithful and passionate exercise of the  ministry becomes a continuous remembrance of it.
         To be an expert of mercy, it is enough to “listen” to the working of the Spirit in ourselves and in the faithful; to “listen” to the gift of Pentecost that in Baptism has consecrated each one of us, and in priestly ordination the Confessors, and who renews us in each celebration of the Sacraments. This he does in a most particular way in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
         This Sacrament is, in fact, an ever new experience of the Holy Spirit in action both for the Priest and for the penitent.
         For the penitent because sacramental pardoning represents a true and personal “Pentecost for the soul”, enlightened by his divine grace, purified by the blood of the Lamb sacrificed for us and adorned with every gift of grace, beginning with our renewed full communion with Jesus. For the priest, insofar as he is deeply united with Christ, the living “end” of each failing confessed by sinful man, because he becomes in the Sacrament the very thought of Christ by correcting, weighing, healing, and because, as he pronounces the words of absolution, he feels the sacramental seal and the personal identification with the Good Shepherd reviving in his heart through the working of the Spirit! What love is shown forth!
         Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Redeemer, to teach us to treasure and to make this reality remembered so that the splendour of the fire of Pentecost might be rekindled every anew; the fire of Love, the fire of mercy.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

“Customs are generally unselfish. Habits are nearly always selfish.”

St John Paul II holding the chalice with "canonical digits"
(the practice of holding the thumb and forefinger together after the consecration of the Host, so as not to touch any other surface.)

Fr Hunwicke draws attention to the "mutual enrichment" between the ancient and the newer forms of the Mass, picking up on a theme in an interview by the Abbot of Fontgombault, reported on Rorate Caeli and elewhere. The Abbot suggests: 
"Many young priests attached to the lectionary of the ordinary form, that they follow habitually, want a liturgy that is richer in the level of rites, associating more strictly the body to the celebration. Would it not be possible to propose in the ordinary form the prayers of the offertory, to enrich it with the genuflections, inclinations, signs of the cross of the extraordinary form? A rapprochement would [thus] easily take place between the two forms, giving an answer to a legitimate and, additionally, longed-for desire of Benedict XVI."
For any priest who was trained in the time since Vatican II who has discovered the richness and depth of the more ancient form of the Roman Rite, it becomes almost impossible not to just bring a similar ars celebranda into the new Mass but also, almost automatically, to incorporate some of the actions that were pared away after the changes.  Certainly the new translation of the Canon makes much more obvious the direct parallel with the Latin text and so gives more of a similar feel. 

I'm quite sure there will be those who read this who will cry, "But Father, you are not supposed to alter anything in the liturgy!"  G. K Chesterton points out that, “Customs are generally unselfish. Habits are nearly always selfish". I venture to suggest that we have abandoned old customs for new habits and it does not serve us well.  The gestures and customs from the ancient form of the Mass have been hallowed by past generations and are not alien to the Mass itself. Indeed, Pope Benedict made it quite clear that  what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too.  Many new habits in the liturgy are to be found nowhere in our tradition nor in the present Roman Missal and are routinely tacked on to the Mass in most parishes:  strange items other than bread and wine being brought up in the Offertory procession; "children's liturgy"; the replacement of the entrance, offertory and communion antiphons with hymns (or even secular songs); dance; drama; non-Catholic laity and ministers reading or leading prayers; the routine use of extraordinary ministers as a way of "involving" laity instead of as an act of service when absolutely necessary; the abandonment of sacred vestments; the use of pottery chalices; the unnecessary use of unconsecrated places for the celebration of Mass; the admittance of non-Catholics to Holy Communion; the admittance of whole congregations unfamiliar with weekly Mass (such as school Masses) to Holy Communion; blessings at the time of Holy Communion; etc etc etc.

All these and many more are routinely accepted without murmur, so a few gestures firmly rooted in our catholic tradition shouldn't cause too many problems. Indeed, I even have an altar card for the Ordinary Form - lest I forget the words of Consecration in Latin!

An illustration of one or two of the practices that could enrich the Novus Ordo...

Monday, 2 June 2014

Pugin Church

On Saturday 31st May I assisted as Sub deacon at High Mass in the beautiful church of Our Lady and St Wilfrid at Warwick Bridge just outside Carlisle, as a guest of the Parish that looks after the chapel, Canon John Watson of Our Lady and St Joseph in Carlisle itself.  The priests there have been recently established by Bishop Campbell as Canons of Ss Ambrose and St Charles, as a place of support and fellowship for priests.  Bishop Campbell was in attendance at the Mass itself - no mean feat in the tiny sanctuary!  Fr John Millar, assistant at the parish acted as Deacon and we were marshalled by Mr George Steven as the MC.

The occasion was organised to celebrate the Feast of St Petronia, who relics rest in the chapel.  The body of St Petronia was discovered in the catacombs of Priscilla in rome in 1841. She was found buried with a phial of blood (now turned to dust)  - something commonly done when the deceased had been martyred for the Faith. The stone name-plate from her tomb was also excavated. By order of Pope Gregory XVI it was decreed that Petronia should be venerated as a Virgin Martyr.

The relics appear to have been given to Marmeduke Constable-Maxwell (the 11th Lord Herries of Terregles (1837–1908) - possibly by Servant of God, Raphael Cardinal Merry del Val. The familly then transferred them to the domestic chapel at their home, Terregles in Dumfries.  In the late nineteenth century his descendants married into the Howard family at Corby Castle. The relics were definitely at Corby by 1919 when the parish priest, Fr John Cody, OSB, carried out an investigation upon them. The relics were then transferred to Benedictine Sisters at  Holme Eden Abbey. When the Abbey closed in 1983, they were given to the church at Warwick Bridge.

On 25th September 1940 Thomas Edward Flynn, the second bishop of Lancaster, opened the reliquary to examine its contents. He removed three small bones to be placed in separate reliquaries, the whereabouts of which are not now known. The reliquary was then resealed. In 1991 Mgr Gregory Turner, Vicar General of the Diocese, carried out a further investigation. It was estimated that she was a girl of about ten years old.

Canon Watson wore a chasuble belonging to the parish, the orphrey of which was stitched by Mary Queen of Scots. (Ben Trovato attended the Mass and has posted another photo of the chasuble & a few more details on his site).

The church's loveliness is accounted for by the fact that it was designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, completed in 1841 for a sum total of £2,586. The church was designed for the Sarum Rite, and contains an Easter Sepulchre. (Now the usual home for the relics.)

The designs were originally commissioned by Henry Howard of nearby Corby Castle, and included plans for a presbytery and grounds, which are now in use by the parish.

The tiny pulpit and a detail from the front showing St Paul preaching "Christ crucified."

Mass was followed by a procession around the picturesque grounds with the relics of St Petronilla.