Saturday, 28 February 2015

Dodgy Dutch

As I continue to wade through Bugnini's auto-hagiography, one of the recurrent issues is the Dutch church. They are for ever pushing the boundaries in every way.  For example: 'The Dutch were unwilling to translate the Roman liturgical books, but preferred to give rein to local free creativity.' (!) In fact as early as March 1965, long before authorised, 'translations of the Canon were beginning to circulate, along with texts o f new Eucharistic Prayers.' Nothing was done about this, of course: it merely provided the Consilium with the rationale to rush ahead with ditching Latin altogether, and writing their own, approved, new Eucharistic Prayers. At this stage, too, the Dutch bishops 'in order to retain control of liturgical development' were pressing for permission to 'develop and revise the presidential prayers of the Mass, to translate the Canon and the rites of holy orders, to use other Eucharistic Prayers that would be approved by the Holy See, to allow the laity to distribute communion, and to let them do so by placing the sacred host in the hand of the faithful.'

And then of course, there was the infamous Dutch Catechism (1966), written by Schillebeeckx et al. This was found to be defective by the Holy See, in its presentation of original sin and related doctrines, Christ's atoning satisfaction and sacrifice, the sacrificial character of the Mass, the priestly nature of the ordained ministry, the Church's teaching authority and various other issues, including suggesting that artificial contraception was legitimate.  But it was fiercely defended by the Dutch bishops, and there was a nasty propaganda campaign run against the Holy See for having the temerity to point out its defects and demand that future editions contain a supplement to pull it back towards Catholic teaching.

I don't know much about the history of the Church in the Low Countries. The hierarchy seems to have been heroic, though possibly naive, during the Second World War, openly denouncing the Nazis. But since then, the Dutch Church seems to have moved further and further from orthopraxis and then from orthodoxy. Liturgically, even before the Second Vatican Council, it seems to have been 'creative.' The Dutch Catechism suggests that heteropraxis and heterodoxy went hand in hand - a lesson that is also applicable closer to home, of course.

March Masses in the Usus Antiquior in Lancaster Diocese

Sunday March 1st  Second Sunday in Lent
at 6.00 pm Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Sunday March 8th  Third Sunday in Lent
at 6.00 pm Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Friday March 13th 24 Hours with the Lord – Eucharistic Adoration
From 9.00 am to 9.00 am on Saturday March 14th
St Walburge, Preston

Sunday March 15th
Fourth Sunday in Lent 
– Laetare Sunday
at 10.30 am: High Mass sung by St Philip Neri Choir 
St Walburge, Preston

at 6.00 pm: Sung Mass with polyphonic choir
Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Thursday 19th March  St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
at 7.00 pm Our Lady &  St Joseph, Carlisle

Sunday March 22nd  Passion Sunday
at 3.00 pm St Peter's Cathedral, Lancaster

at 6.00 pm Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Wednesday 25th March  Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 
at 7.00 pm Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Sunday March 29th  Palm Sunday
at 6.00 pm Our Lady & St Joseph, Carlisle

Shrine Church of St Walburge, Preston
Mondays – Fridays: 12 noon, Low Mass (except First Friday 7.00 pm) 

Saturdays: 10.30 am, Low Mass
Sundays: 10.30 am, Sung Mass

Mass is also celebrated every Sunday:
at 8.30 am at St Mary Magdalene, Leyland Road, Penwortham 
at 11.30 am at St Catherine Labouré, Stanifield Lane, Leyland

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Light A Candle for Hope and Peace in Syria

From Aid to the Church In Need:

Yesterday Aid to the Church in Need received an urgent message with the awful news that the terrorist group calling itself IS (Islamic State) has seized Christian villages in Hassake governorate, north-east Syria and that more than 100 people have been taken captive.

Around midnight last night, Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, who is helping persecuted Christians in the region, received an update from a contact in the city, which he relayed to us this morning. In brief, he tells us that 24 families from Tel Gouran, 34 families from Tel Jazira, and 14 fighters (12 male and two females) from Tel Hormizd have been captured and taken to the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier.

We don’t have the actual number of people as yet, but we do know that most of them are alive although, chillingly, the men have been separated from women and children.

Archimandrite Youkhana tells us that more than 50 families in Tel Shamiran are still surrounded and it is unclear if IS will attack the village.

To add to the tension, in Tel Tamar there has been a car bomb explosion as well as sporadic mortar fire into Tel Nasri from across the Khabour River. No casualties have been reported.

Obviously the situation is changing on an hourly basis, but you may like to read a fuller account of the information we have

This is a very frightening situation for the families taken captive and all Christians in outlying villages.

When it comes to securing the release of the hostages and the safety of the Christian community we might feel helpless.

However, it is within our power to join together in prayer and, strong in collective faith and goodwill, to ask the Holy Spirit to sow seeds of mercy in the hearts of the jihadists.

A few weeks ago we received a wonderful prayer from Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III of Damascus. In it he asks us to Light a Candle for peace and hope in Syria.

Will you help us join with him this weekend by lighting a candle in your church and pray most earnestly for the safe release of these innocent captives and also for Christ’s abiding peace in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East.

Thanks to you, last week ACN was able to rush through 22 projects offering emergency help − fuel, food, medicine − and pastoral help for families in Hassake, Aleppo, Damascus and the surrounding countryside.  

In the coming days, we will assess the urgent help required in this new emergency.

Thank you for your loyal and incredibly important solidarity in these difficult times.

God bless


You can learn more, find out how to support ACN, or donate here.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Bugnini for Lent

It is now about ten months since I got my own copy of Bugnini's Reform of the Roman Liturgy. But I have not read a great deal of it over that period, for various reasons, and have not blogged on what I have been reading.

But it is Lent: surely a time for works of penance and mortification, so I turn to Bugnini once more.

Looking back over the chapters I have read since I got my own copy (and of course the joy of working with my own copy rather than a library copy is that I can scribble in the margins) there are a few themes that emerge.

One is the self-confidence, or arrogance or... well you decide what is the right description of someone who could write this:
The renewal was gradually making its way even into the functions of the papal chapel, which, step by step, were being transformed into true sacred celebrations with participation of the congregation. (My emphasis: what does he think they were previously?)
and this:
That beginning (of the liturgical reform) was described as the day when " the entire Church was empowered to sing the glory of God in the languages of the Faithful." (It is odd to think that all those hymns written, for example, by Fr Faber, were never sung until then...)
Another theme is the speed of the changes. Sacrosanctum Concilium was published in December 1963; the much more radical Inter Oecumenici was published by Bugnini's Consilium in March 1965, giving official authorisation for the use of the vernacular in some parts of the Mass. By November 1965, Bugnini's address to the presidents of the national liturgical commissions, included: 'Now that Latin has been abandoned, at least in large measure...'  Of course, both SC and IO said that Latin should not and would not be abandoned.

A third theme is the degree of secrecy involved in the developments. 'The Cardinal President... exhorted all the participants in these meetings to be very prudent in letting others know of their work.' Likewise, the Taizé community was to be given permission to use the third anaphora 'but without publicity.'  Such secrecy was to protect the changes, both from the danger of people going much further than was permitted (which might provoke a backlash) and from those already profoundly upset.

Related to that was the concern to manage the reaction of those not directly involved: 'After the promulgation of Consilium documents, the press should endeavour to make them known to the Christian people, explaining and presenting them in a favorable light.' Likewise, 'It would be very helpful if the press were given advance notice of the publication of a document so that it might prepare public opinion and create an anticipation that will ease the way for the document.' Though a footnote suggests that the press were not quite the poodle that Bugnini wanted: 'Some difficulties hindered ready action:... captiousness and factionalism on the part of some journalists...'

A fourth theme is the sense that the agenda was on a pre-determined course, which even the Holy Father could not stop. The changes to the Roman Canon are a case in point. The Pope had specifically said that there were to be none; and that the Canon should normally be used. But he was over-ruled by the experts, and successive changes were made, including; 'The Fathers (that is the Fathers on the Consilium, not the Council - BT) also unanimously approved making the words of consecration in the Roman Canon identical with those of the new Eucharistic Prayers', and later: 'revisions to the Roman Canon so that comparison with the new Eucharistic Prayers might not lead to its neglect.' Surely, the Eucharistic Prayers could have been brought into line with the unchanged Canon (or better still, 'neglected' themselves, into oblivion...)

Likewise, the celebration of Mass facing the people simply was not seen as important by the Council Fathers or the Pope. But Bugnini cites 'a generally felt need' as his authority: and the rest is history.

The Council Fathers had ordered that Latin be retained as the language of the Liturgy, with permission for vernacular in some parts. But the Consilium was happy, by 1966, to order bishops: 'In bilingual areas, the bishops must see to it that each language is respected and that its speakers have celebrations available in their own tongue'; and also condescend to allow: 'It is only right that the Ordinaries would consider the eventual possibility of having some Masses celebrated in Latin....' All of which completely reverse the Council Fathers' priorities as decreed in Sacrosanctum Concilium.

The Holy Father also warned of tendencies that were a cause of 'anxiety and pain' including: 
'those who contend that liturgical worship should be stripped of its sacred character and who therefore erroneously believe that no sacred objects or ornaments should be used, but that objects of common, everyday use should be substituted. Their own rashness leads some so far that they do not spare the sacred place of celebration. Such notions, we must insist, not only distort the genuine nature of the liturgy, but the true meaning of the Catholic religion. 
In simplifying liturgical rites, formularies, and actions, there must be care not to go further than necessary and not to neglect the importance to be given to liturgical signs. That would open the way to weakening the power and effectiveness of the liturgy.'
But he had let the genie out of the bottle, and he could not contain it thereafter.

A fifth theme is the salami slice approach. Small change after small change, until as Fr. Gelineau, one of the many experts closely involved with the project (see here) candidly said:  In fact it is a different liturgy of the mass. We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered; we can look at it as a ruin or as the partial foundation of a new building. 

This was a deliberate strategy, and we can trace the progression from the modest proposals of the Council Fathers, which suggested that the Epistle and Gospel might be read in the vernacular, through the more radical ones of Inter Oecumenici  which suppressed Psalm 42 at the start, and the Leonine prayers after Mass, and changed the formula at the distribution of Holy Communion, to the new Mass promulgated in 1969, with the Canon changed and made optional, the Offertory removed and replaced, and so on. Another classic example is the admission of women into the sanctuary during the Liturgy, against the will of the Holy Father; a process I have described here.

The final thing I noticed is that there was widespread demand for change. How widespread it is hard to ascertain, but there is no doubt that the Consilium received requests from all over the world for permission to press ahead more rapidly and more radically than it was able to do. Whether that was the result of small but organised groups of progressive liturgists persuading local bishops, or whether there was a much wider popular demand - and how much that may have been stimulated by the type of press approach Bugnini deliberately fostered - it is impossible to say from his text. But we should not forget that it did exist: if the Consilium had not been pushing on an oiled door, things might have been very different.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ash Wednesday

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent in the Western Church.  We are called to repent of our sins and believe the Gospel, to dedicate ourselves anew to prayer and works of charity, and to restrain our misguided subjection to our passions (the result of Original Sin) by mortification and good deeds.

Humility and obedience are little valued by the World, which teaches self-esteem and autonomy as the highest human values.  We are called to be a sign of contradiction.

The ashes which we receive are a sign of this (note that we receive them humbly, not take them...)  

Every year I am struck by the contrast between the prayers over the Ashes in the Traditional and the New Roman Rite.

In the Traditional Rite, the Blessing and Imposition of Ashes takes place before the Mass begins, with the following solemn prayers of intercession and blessing:

Let us pray.   O almighty and everlasting God, spare those who are penitent, be merciful to those who implore Thee; and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from heaven, to bless † and hal†low these ashes, that they may be a wholesome remedy to all who humbly implore Thy holy Name, and who accuse themselves, conscious of their sins, deploring their crimes before Thy divine mercy, or humbly and earnestly beseeching Thy sovereign goodness: and grant through the invocation of Thy most holy Name that whosoever shall be sprinkled with them for the remission of their sins may receive both health of body and safety of soul. Through Christ our Lord.
 R.: Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who desirest not the death, but the repentance of sinners, look down most graciously upon the frailty of human nature; and in Thy goodness vouchsafe to bless † these ashes which we purpose to put upon our heads in token of our lowliness and to obtain forgiveness: so that we who know that we are but ashes, and for the demerits of our wickedness are to return to dust, may deserve to obtain of Thy mercy, the pardon of all our sins, and the rewards promised to the penitent. Through Christ our Lord.  

R.: Amen.

Let us pray. O God, who art moved by humiliation, and appeased by penance: incline the ear of Thy goodness to our prayers and mercifully pour forth upon the heads of Thy servants sprinkled with these ashes the grace of Thy blessing: that Thou mayest both fill them with the spirit of compunction, and effectually grant what they have justly prayed for: and ordain that what Thou hast granted may be permanently established and remain unchanged. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

Let us pray. O almighty and everlasting God, who didst vouchsafe Thy healing pardon to the Ninivites doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, mercifully grant that we may so imitate them in our outward attitude as to follow them in obtaining forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord.

R.: Amen.

 When all have received the ashes, the priest says:

V.: The Lord be with you.
R.: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.  Grant us, O Lord, to begin with holy fasts the campaign of our Christian warfare: that, as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of self-denial. Through Christ our Lord.
R.: Amen.


In the New Rite, the blessing and imposition of ashes takes place after the Homily.  There is an invitation to prayer, followed by only one prayer over the ashes (though, as so often, a choice is offered):

Dear brethren (brothers and sisters), let us humbly ask God our Father
that he be pleased to bless with the abundance of his grace
these ashes, which we will put on our heads in penitence.

After a brief prayer in silence, and, with hands extended, he continues:

O God, who are moved by acts of humility
and respond with forgiveness to works of penance,
lend your merciful ear to our prayers
and in your kindness pour out the grace of your blessing
on your servants who are marked with these ashes,
that, as they follow the Lenten observances,
they may be worthy to come with minds made pure
to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son.
Through Christ our Lord
R. Amen.


O God, who desire not the death of sinners,
but their conversion,
mercifully hear our prayers
and in your kindness be pleased to bless + these ashes,
which we intend to receive upon our heads,
that we, who acknowledge we are but ashes
and shall return to dust,
may, through a steadfast observance of Lent,
gain pardon for sins and newness of life
after the likeness of your Risen Son.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.


Is it me, or is that an impoverishment?

There is, of course, another telling difference. In the traditional Mass, the ashes are imposed with the words:

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.

Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

In the New Rite, there are (inevitably!) options:

Repent, and believe in the Gospel.


Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Many parishes, it seems, use the first option: another break with tradition.


Here is the Lenten Hymn: Attende Domine (English translation below the Latin text)

(NB: The Marian Antiphon for the season, of course, is the Ave Regina Caelorum.)

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.
Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Ad te Rex summe,
omnium Redemptor,
oculos nostros
sublevamus flentes:
exaudi, Christe,
supplicantum preces.

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Dextera Patris,
lapis angularis,
via salutis,
ianua caelestis,
ablue nostri
maculas delicti.

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Rogamus, Deus,
tuam maiestatem:
auribus sacris
gemitus exaudi:
crimina nostra
placidus indulge.

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Tibi fatemur
crimina admissa:
contrito corde
pandimus occulta:
tua, Redemptor,
pietas ignoscat.

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Innocens captus,
nec repugnans ductus;
testibus falsis
pro impiis damnatus
quos redemisti,
tu conserva, Christe.

Attende Domine, et miserere, quia peccavimus tibi.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.
Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

To Thee, highest King,
Redeemer of all,
do we lift up our eyes
in weeping:
Hear, O Christ, the prayers
of your servants.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

Right hand of the Father,
way of salvation,
gate of heaven,
wash away our 
stains of sin.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

We beseech Thee, God,
in Thy great majesty:
Hear our groans
with Thy holy ears:
calmly forgive
our crimes.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

To Thee we confess
our sins admitted
with a contrite heart
We reveal the things hidden:
By Thy kindness, O Redeemer,
overlook them.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

The Innocent, seized,
not refusing to be led;
condemned by false witnesses
because of impious men
O Christ, keep safe those
whom Thou hast redeemed.

Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy, because we have sinned against Thee.

On a lighter note, though still on track with the season, there's always the Dogma Dogs: Lent, Lent, time to repent!

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Today is Quinquagesima: the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In preparing the chant for today's EF Mass later this afternoon, I was struck by the Tract.  Here is the start of it:

The minute I started to sing it, I thought, Hello, I know this one. But I quickly realised that I didn't. I just knew some of it.

And I knew where I knew it from, because it is the Requiem Mass, which features highly on my list of favourites.

Here is the start of the tract from the Requiem Mass.

Even if you know nothing about chant (or music) or notation, you can tell just by looking that the opening musical phrase of each piece is identical, except for one additional reciting note at the start of the first piece (because Jubilate has one syllable more than Absolve).

But then then pieces diverge: the music for omnis terra is visibly very different from the music for animas omnium. However, every now and then, it sounded very familiar: for example, look at the decorated ending of terra, where there are many notes on the final, unstressed syllable. Then look at the decorated ending of defunctorum in the piece below. The last several notes are identical.

That pattern continues throughout the pieces: as though one is repeatedly quoting the other, and then moving off on its own, then quoting more, and so on.

But is that what is happening? Or were both drawing on a set of stock phrases and bolting them together?

And is there any intention for the familiar musical phrases in one context to make one think of the words of the other piece?

It is that last question that particularly intrigues me. 

I mentioned this briefly on Twitter, and the learned Dr Beale (@Dr_Teacake) pointed out that the Requiem Tract text had varied over time. So if we assume that the Requiem text was set to music later than today's Mass, the question becomes: when we are praying Absolve, Domine, animas omnium fidelium defunctorum ab omni vinculo delictorum (Loose, O Lord, the souls of the faithful departed from every bond of sin), are we deliberately being reminded, by the music, of the words: Jubilate Deo, omnis terra; servite Domino in laetitia (Sing joyfully to God all the earth; serve ye the Lord with gladness)?

It seems odd (to modern thinking) to set two lyrics with such very different emotional resonance to similar music - or more precisely to music including direct musical quotations (I had almost said leitmotifs, but that would surely be an anachronism).  But I like to think it is deliberate, and that in its gracious way, the music is interpenetrating our prayer for the faithful departed with that fundamental hope and joy that is the result of our Faith.

But I would love to hear from anyone who knows about this, to confirm or deny my speculations.

More on (the inadmissability of) Women in the Sanctuary

In picking up my Bugnini to research Fr Gelineau's role in the liturgical changes (see here), I happened to stumble across some references to the admission of women to the sanctuary, a topic on which I have blogged previously (see here for example), which I thought very interesting.

On January 25, 1966 the Consilium (the body charged to study the liturgy and suggest reforms, in the light of Sacrosanctum Concilium) of which Fr Bugnini was the secretary, issued the second of three letters it sent to all the presidents of episcopal conferences.

It covered a number of topics.  The seventh was to do with 'the liturgical ministry of women at the altar.' As Bugnini summarises it: 'In some places such a ministry has been introduced, at times with a somewhat comical effect (female altar servers wearing surplices). The letter states that according to the legislation presently in force, such a ministry is not allowed.'

As so often with Bugnini, it is the footnote that is really revealing:
There was nonetheless to be an evolution. Requests came chiefly from communities of women and places where it was not easy to find a layman capable of proclaiming the readings in the vernacular, especially in mission countries. A statement regarding these cases was presented to the Holy Father on April 21, 1966. On June 6 the Secretariat of State replied: 'The Holy Father has deigned to decree that this favour may be granted in places where true necessity requires it only for the readings and the leading of the singing; it is to be done outside the sanctuary, by well-known women of adequate years and moral way of life, preferably religious women.' Individual concessions were granted in these precise terms. Then the requests became more widespread, and the GIRM made the concession universal but without changing the conditions: no laymen available; a suitable woman; office exercised outside the sanctuary (see GIRM 1970 no. 66). 
The third instruction (Liturgicae instaurationes) of September 5, 1970, no. 5, introduced a further small extension when it said that women could proclaim the readings, the intentions for the prayer of the faithful, and the admonitions from a place where they could be easily heard with the aid of modern technological means (this was a roundabout way of saying they could go to the lectern). The instruction added that more detailed dispositions regarding place were to be given by the episcopal conferences. In the second edition of the Missal (1975) all the casuistic detail has disappeared, and it is said simply that the episcopal conferences can allow capable women to proclaim the readings and the intentions for the prayer of the faithful and can determine in greater detail the place from which this is to be done (no. 70). Thus there was a slow evolution that took in account the varying degrees of maturity and sensibility to be encountered in different places.

There is lots of interest here: I will pick up on just a few points.

The Holy Father (Paul VI) clearly thought that women should not normally be admitted to the sanctuary during the liturgy (the historic exception, of course, being the Nuptial Mass).

Bugnini and his like clearly thought that they should: this was progress, or 'evolution.'

Bugnini and his like won, via the typical 'hard case' to 'every day normal' slippery slope.

The issue was not addressed by proper process or scrutiny, but by gradualism.

Even at that time, there was no question of legitimising women or girls acting as altar servers. That, in fact, was done by the strange (but all-too-familiar) process of firstly acting in disobedience to the known liturgical law, and then raising a dubium, or question of doubt, about something where there was no doubt. The Vatican then gave the wrong answer (ie the answer that women were permitted to serve) when clearly from the Holy Father's statement quoted here, as well as from many other sources of text and tradition (dating back demonstrably at least to the late fourth century) that was not the case.

And I think it will be very hard to put the genii back in the bottle.

The FIUV position paper on male-only servers (in the EF) is well worth reading.