Monday, 29 February 2016

Pontifical High Mass in New Brighton

Bishop Athanasius Schneider is certainly getting about on his visit to England (he wants to include Scotland next time as well!)  There was a good turnout in the huge Institute church of Ss Peter and Paul in New Brighton on the Wirral  for Mass last Saturday. Pontifical High Mass for a weekday in Lent must be quite a novelty but help travelled in from far and wide to make sure no rubric was left undone.  It is wonderful to see how many young people are interested in assisting at the Mass in its Traditional Form.  Once again, I was struck by the gentle and kindly personality of the Bishop, particularly his care for priests. His words of encouragement and orthodoxy are much appreciated.  

Incidentally, the church is New Brighton is moving along apace, with rather smart plate glass screens (etched with the Institute's coat of arms) now installed at the back of the church to provide a much needed "gathering space", as the modern architects might put it and a new shop for religious goods as well. What a great sign of hope, inspired by Bishop Davies' bold initiative, to re-open a failed church and find priests who have been able to breath new life into it.  Its an attitude we could do with more of in the church in this country. 

The photographs speak  for themselves. Here are a selection courtesy of Mike Barnsdall. 


Saturday, 27 February 2016

High Altar Restoration

Bishop Athanasius Schneider continued his tour of England this week with a visit to the Confraternity of St Peter Church in Warrington, to give Benediction and a talk to local clergy. When the Confraternity took over the church recently the altar in use stood on a platform built outside the original sanctuary (the altar, it has to be said, was rather small). Sadly, the original High Altar had at some time in the past been cut away but a temporary altar in the same place now restores the sight lines intended by the architect. In many respects, it is now a much simpler, less cluttered but grander space. A noble simplicity, one might say. Having offered Mass there recently on a weekday, it was great to see a substantial congregation of 30+. Being in the town centre is obviously a great benefit.

Following Benediction the Bishop gave a challenging talk from the pulpit on
"The Priest as Minister of Truth".


We adjourned to the Priory House afterwards for some food and fellowship.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Pontifical High Mass with Bishop Schneider

Bishop Athansius Schneider celebrated Pontifical High Mass during a day arranged by the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy at the Shrine of St Augustine in Ramsgate this week. Mass was that of the anniversary of St Ethelbert, King of Kent, the first king to receive the Gospel from St Augustine. 

The church was designed by A.W. Pugin and stands on the large site originally conceived by him as a whole - including church, presbytery, Pugin's home (the Grange), the Cartoon Room (where he drew up his plans) and a school.  The Grange and the presbytery can now be rented out as holiday accommodation through the Landmark Trust.  

Celebrating Pontifical Mass in the Shrine is no easy feat. Though perfectly formed in Pugin's original plan, the sanctuary was mutilated in the wreckavation insanity that we have seen so often disfiguring our churches over the last fifty years. Fortunately, this is all about to change, as funding has been obtained to create an education, research and visitor centre as well as restoring the church according to Pugin's original plan. This includes reinstating the high altar and the rood screen, which will then give far more practical space for the celebration of Mass - pontifical or otherwise. The shrine's Priest, Fr Marcus Holden, also parish priest at Ramsgate, has obviously been working tirelessly on this project. It is perhaps only in recent years that Pugin's genius has once again become more fully appreciated and this was the church he designed to be his own.

It was my first time visiting the church and also my first time acting as Assistant Priest. Perhaps that's why they needed TWO MC's who knew what they were doing!

The traditional photograph of the ministers and sanctuary party.

The Bishop before Mass saying the preparatory prayers.

The Mass was celebrated in honour of St Ethelbert. There is a modern fresco, painted by Russian artist Sergey Fyodorov in 2004 in nearby Rochester cathedral, which includes the baptism of the king. Some worthwhile modern ecclesiastical art - proving it can be done!

The site pictured from the road into Ramsgate.

 The clergy walked down to Ramsgate's Royal Harbour for lunch. 
Quite a site to frighten the locals.

What do you call a restaurant full of priests?
 The day included an excellent tour given by the Shrine's manager,
Mr John Coverdale. You can help to support the Shrine by becoming a "Friend of St Augustine".

 Fr Marcus Holden introducing Bishop Schneider in the Cartoon Room, where we were enlightened with two challenging talks.

 The church's statue of Our Blessed Lady, 
complete with silver lamp in the shape of a ship.

 St Augustine and one of his few remaining relics, donated by the Fathers of the Oxford Oratory, was placed in the reliquary in the church at the shrine inauguration on 20th may 2012.

 Pugin's own memorial in the family chapel where he is buried.

With thanks for some of the photos to Marie Muscat-King, 
Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Cyril Law.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Warrington

A reminder that Bishop Athanasius Schneider is giving a evening talk to Clergy 
- bishops, deacons, priests, seminarians and Religious -
 at St Mary’s Priory,Smith Street, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 2NS 
on Thursday 25th February.

FSSP Facebook Page.

I have had the privilege of meeting him before and always found him a wonderful priest. I'm sure it will be well worth travelling to Warrington if you can. 

A note - if you have not been to St Mary's before there is only very limited parking at the presbytery (which you won't know how to get to via the rear entrance unless you have been before) but it is easy to park across the road in one of the town car parks.)

6:00pm: Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (confessions heard during that time) 

[You may arrive any time before 7pm]

6:45pm: Benediction

7:00pm: Spiritual Talk to clergy: 

"The priest as a minister of the truth"

7:45pm: Questions and Answers

8:00pm: Refreshments

Bishop Athanasius Schneider was born in Tokmok, Kirghiz SSR in the Soviet Union. His parents were ethnic Germans from Ukraine who were sent by Stalin to gulags in the Ural Mountains after the Second World War. They traveled to the Kirghiz SSR after being released from the camps.

In 1973, shortly after making his first Holy Communion by the hand of Bl. Oleksa Zaryckyj, priest and martyr, he left with his family for Germany. He joined the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross of Coimbra, a Catholic religious order, and was ordained a priest in 1990, earning a doctorate in Patristics, a topic he taught at Mary Mother of the Church Seminary in Karaganda.

On 2 June 2006 he was consecrated Bishop at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter in the Vatican by Angelo Cardinal Sodano. In 2011 he was transferred to the position of auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Astana. He is the Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan. In Karaganda, formerly the centre of Sovietic atheistic persecution, he managed to build a superb landmark Catholic cathedral.

I can heartily recommend his book "Dominus Est":

I –Turning our gaze towards Christ
In order to speak of new evangelization correctly, it is necessary first to turn our gaze towards Him Who is the true evangelizer, namely Our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ, the Word of God made Man. The Son of God came upon this earth to expiate and redeem the greatest sin, sin par excellence. And this sin, humanity's sin par excellence, consists in refusing to adore God, in refusing to keep the first place, the place of honor, for Him. This sin on the part of man consists in not paying attention to God, in no longer having a sense of the fittingness of things, or even a sense of the details pertaining to God and to the Adoration that is His due, in not wanting to see God, in not wanting to kneel before God.
For such an attitude, the incarnation of God is an embarrassment; as a result the real presence of God in the Eucharistic mystery is likewise an embarrassment; the centrality of the Eucharistic presence of God in our churches is an embarrassment. Indeed sinful man wants the center stage for himself, whether within the Church or during the Eucharistic celebration; he wants to be seen, to be noticed.

For this reason Jesus the Eucharist, God incarnate, present in the tabernacle under the Eucharistic form, is set aside. Even the representation of the Crucified One on the cross in the middle of the altar during the celebration facing the people is an embarrassment, for it might eclipse the priest's face. Therefore the image of the Crucified One in the center of the altar as well as Jesus the Eucharist in the tabernacle, also in the center of the altar, are an embarrassment. Consequently, the cross and the tabernacle are moved to the side. During mass, the congregation must be able to see the priest’s face at all times, and he delights in placing himself literally at the center of the house of God. And if perchance Jesus the Eucharist is still left in His tabernacle in the middle of the altar because the Ministry of Historical Monuments—even in an atheist regime—has forbidden moving it for the conservation of artistic heritage, the priest, often throughout the entire Eucharistic celebration, does not scruple to turn his back to Him.

How often have good and faithful adorers of Christ cried out in their simplicity and humility : “God bless you, Ministry of Historical Monuments ! At least you have left us Jesus in the center of our church.”
II – The Mass is intended to give glory to God, not to men 
Only on the basis of adoring and glorifying God can the Church adequately proclaim the word of the truth, i.e., evangelize. Before the world ever heard Jesus, the eternal Word made flesh, preach and proclaim the Kingdom, He quietly adored for thirty years. This remains forever the law for the Church’s life and action as well as for all evangelizers. “The way the liturgy is treated decides the fate of the Faith and of the Church,” said Cardinal Ratzinger, our current Holy Father Benedict XVI. The Second Vatican Council intended to remind the Church what reality and what action were to take the first place in her life. This is the reason for which the first of the Council’s documents was dedicated to the liturgy. The Council gives us the following principles: in the Church, and therefore in the liturgy, the human must be oriented towards the divine and be subordinate to it; likewise the visible in relation to the invisible, action in relation to contemplation, the present in relation to the future city to which we aspire (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2). According to the teaching of Vatican II our earthly liturgy participates in a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy of the holy city of Jerusalem.
 Everything about the liturgy of the Holy Mass must therefore serve to express clearly the reality of Christ’s sacrifice, namely the prayers of adoration, of thanks, of expiation, and of impetration that the eternal High Priest presented to His Father.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Church architecture worth the name

I meant to post about this the other day but Fr Michael Brown (happily posting again at Gateshead Revisited) got there before me.  A new church of the Protection of the Mother of God at Yasenevo, on the outskirts of Moscow. You can see more fabulous pictures and read something of its development at the Orthodox Arts Journal.

How wonderful to see a that it is still possible to build a modern church completely in touch with its architectural and liturgical tradition. Not only that, this wasn't paid for by some Russian oligarch but:
The true miracle of the Yasenevo church, though, lies not in its richness, but its poverty. Astonishingly, this church, constructed in just seven years, had no major individual donors. There was no great oligarch or wealthy institution footing the bill. Rather, the money came in small donations from ordinary people and pious organizations – 800,000 donors in total.
So it can still be done. What an indictment on the attitude so often seen here in the west, where churches both new and when "re-ordered" are either completely unremarkable or remarkable for their abandonment or ignorance of anything in our Christian tradition. When we are expected to praise every style except our own, so far as church architecture is concerned.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

What a Parish! Emergency aid.

The Archdiocese here in Liverpool has undertaken to upgrade all its property's fire safety specifications. The work is being done here at the moment. I have to admit that some of it seems a bit over the top. You can't walk more than three paces inside or out now, without the provision of emergency lighting should the mains electricity fail and we now have four points where lightening conductors come down from the church roof - two of them lower than my house just next door!  We are awash with hideous green signage over every door indicating the exits. You get the picture. Anyhow... be that as it may, the result is that our little parish is stuck with a bill for £12,500, which will take us into the red.  I told the people just two Sundays ago and lo and behold, as of today, we have had the whole of it paid for in donations large and small! Amazing! Thank you to the people of St Catherine's - what great supporters of your parish you are!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Lenten Liturgy

Just for information for those who are local to St Catherine's...

Shrove Tuesday 12 noon 
Low Mass (EF) for the Holy Face of Jesus.

Ash Wednesday
Holy Mass (OF) with distribution of Ashes at
9.30am and 7pm.

Thursday - and each Thursday of Lent
St Alphonsus
Stations of the Cross.

Monday, 1 February 2016

New miracle for Blessed Cardinal Newman

Newman in his room at the Birmingham Oratory.

I'm happy to be reading reports of another miracle being attributed to Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. From Fr Dwight Longeneckert.

Apparently, after an extensive local investigation, the Archdiocese of Chicago has forwarded to the Vatican a possible miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. If it is sustained by the Congregation for Causes of Saints, it would be the second miracle necessary for his canonisation. The case involves a Catholic mother who survived a life-threatening pregnancy after praying to Newman. Her physicians have testified that they cannot explain her sudden and explicable cure.

The Roman postulator for Newman’s cause, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, declined to comment on the miracle unless and until it is approved by the Congregation’s medical board and panel of theologians and officially promulgated by Pope Francis. This is not surprising: a previous miracle cause from Mexico, involving a baby who was born perfectly healthy after prenatal scans showed it was deformed, was discussed publicly in 2010 but never approved by the Congregation.

His Shrine at Birmingham.