Saturday, 25 February 2017


Recording of Mass at my old seminary, Ushaw College, from 1960.

I came across a post this morning by Liturgy Guy recounting the story of a priest who wanted to learn the Traditional Form of the Mass and indeed started to do so but gave up, saying that he simply did not have the background and formation in the theology and spirituality of the Holy Mass to deal with the ancient rite. He makes the following interesting comments on the incident:
Sadly we are finding that the Church has often failed priests in teaching them the Faith, and in so doing they have failed the laity who are supposed to be sanctified by these very same priests. 
We often think of the classic expression lex orandi lex credendi (as we pray, so we believe) as being applicable to the laity. In reality, it is just as applicable to our priests. Possibly even more so.
Remember too, many of the priests formed by the new Mass over the last fifty years have now gone on to become bishops; and here we are left dealing with the fall out of this liturgical formation and its ramifications for the Church.
The current challenge to orthodoxy cannot be separated from the ongoing assault against orthopraxy.
Pray that more of the laity, more of our priests, and more of our bishops recognise this for themselves. Of course, this first requires a familiarity with the traditional liturgy.
My concern is that many do recognise this connection, and that is why they are so hostile toward the traditional Mass.
In reading round I saw an instant connection with another story, shared by the Eponymous Flower concerning the ongoing and tragic story of the Church in Belgium, where the initiatives that had begun to be put in place during Pope Benedict's reign to stem the catastrophic decline of the Church there are being sadly undone. The Society of the Holy Apostles which had undertaken the care of two parishes in the Brussels region and founded a seminary is being ejected by the new Archbishop of Brussels, Jozef De Kesel (appointed in 2015 by Pope Francis). The previous Archbishop (Archbishop Léonard) insisted on this parallel priestly training, hoping to train a new clergy at their new seminary. Three years after the foundation, 21 young men were already preparing for the priesthood. This new foundation was "too successful," as it was described behind the scenes.

An aerial view of Ushaw College - Junior and Senior House.

The formation of priests is a key to how the Church will look on the ground. What I learnt in seminary stays with me - even today after I've tried to revise much of it and even though at the time I was not always keen to be shaped into the model student that was perceived as ideal! Nevertheless, shaped I was by the teaching and the praxis I experienced there. 

Could it be that many more priests than we think would like to be more open to such things as Latin and the Traditional Mass but know that, as well as the uphill battle they would face at a diocesan level and from parishioners who have been told for fifty years that such things are forbidden, they have also not been equipped with the theology, spirituality and language to do so very easily? 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Splendour of Worship

Pope St John XXIII celebrating Mass..
if it was good enough for him...

Good article articulating some excellent points on the splendour of the liturgy by Peter Kwasniewski on the New Liturgical Movement, emphasising something so often lost in our modern worship - that it is God's doing, not ours. Hence when the liturgy is impoverished and de-ritualised, ("simplified" - as some would have it) all that happens is that many extraneous innovations are added in by individuals. Hence we end up with a liturgy with many accretions - just not ones mandated by the Church. Imported from other denominations, other religions and the secular world. It may be in time these things could become "sacralised" but this is the work of centuries - and the criticism levelled by those who reject so vociferously the "ornament" of past centuries, which has already gained a ritual and sacral meaning and been hallowed by use and honed by legislation.
"While it is sometimes possible that a saintly priest or bishop would choose to rid himself of anything valuable in order to give the money to the poor, in our own times it is much more common to encounter what might be called “ostentatious bad taste” or “hypocritical poverty,” when a priest or bishop who claims to be renouncing pomp and circumstance for the sake of the Gospel is really drawing attention to himself as a paragon of social justice, whose ugly garments or clumsy chalices in fact still cost a great deal of money — money that could have been spent on something truly beautiful, which spiritually enriches all who behold it, including the poor. We could put it this way: a priest or bishop who does not see himself as essentially a symbol of another and therefore as able to accept and promote liturgical beauty for the sake of that other will, perforce, see himself as —himself, in front of the people, on display. At this point, two roads are open to him: to be ostentatiously wealthy for the sake of worldly glory, or to be ostentatiously poor and virtuous. In either case, it’s all about him, and the result is thoroughly dis-edifying. In contrast, when a man of God really acts and speaks as a man of God, one who totally belongs to Christ the Eternal High Priest, it is extremely edifying to see him robed in splendour, uplifted in honour. When Our Lord said: “Whatsoever you do to the least, you do unto Me” (cf. Mt 25:40), He was certainly not excluding the truth that whatsoever you do to the greatest, you do to Him as well."

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Clergy Lunch and Talk in Warrington

Clergy Day 
The Divine Aspect of the Internet

Wednesday 15th February, 1-3pm

Priests, deacons, friars, seminarians 
are invited to gather 
St Mary’s by 1pm

short walk to a local venue for lunch
then a half hour spiritual conference by 
Fr James Mawdsley, FSSP 


‘The Priest and the Internet: 
Challenges and Opportunities’ 

followed by coffee & discussion 

There is the usual daily Mass at 12.10
for anyone who would like to come along.  
01925 635664
St Mary’s Shrine, Buttermarket Street, 
Warrington WA1 2NS
(The Presbytery & small car park 
can be accessed from Smith Street 
off the A49 dual carriageway.)

Fr James Mawdsley with Bishop Athanasius Schneider at St Mary's.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Communion on the tongue is an Apostolic Tradition

An issue much revisited here on this blog, I know, but I discovered a set of quotes about it conveniently gathered in one place by Roman Catholic Man. So here they are below.It does seem odd that such an ancient and much lauded tradition has been so casually superseded with no obvious reason that pertains to the good of souls.

Statements from Popes, Saints and Church Councils:

St. Sixtus 1 (circa 115): “The Sacred Vessels are not to be handled by others than those consecrated to the Lord.”

St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church (330-379): “The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in times of persecution.” St. Basil the Great considered Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to consider it a grave fault.

The Council of Saragossa (380): Excommunicated anyone who dared continue receiving Holy Communion by hand. This was confirmed by the Synod of Toledo.

The Synod of Rouen (650): Condemned Communion in the hand to halt widespread abuses that occurred from this practice, and as a safeguard against sacrilege.

6th Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople (680-681): Forbade the faithful to take the Sacred Host in their hand,
threatening transgressors with excommunication.

 St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): “Out of reverence towards this Sacrament [the Holy Eucharist], nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this Sacrament.” (Summa Theologica, Part III, Q. 82, Art. 3, Rep. Obj. 8.)

The Council of Trent (1545-1565): “The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition.”

Pope Paul VI (1963-1978): “This method [on the tongue] must be retained.” (Memoriale Domini)

Pope John Paul II: “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.” (Dominicae Cenae, 11)