Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Ivereigh Tower

It's all a bit confusing. Amoris Laetitia seems to be somewhat ambiguous, and some of its footnotes, more so. 

Clearly, as with any papal document, one reads it in the hermeneutic of continuity: that is to say, one starts from the assumption that it builds on, and does not contradict, previous magisterial teaching, and interprets any ambiguity in line with such teaching.

And yet, it seems that in a private letter, the Holy Father has suggested that the ambiguity is meant to be interpreted in a quite different way - a way that was discussed but not ratified in the two synods that preceded its publication. And as one looks around at the bishops and indeed cardinals of the Church, we find that some are saying it should be interpreted in one way, and others in a contrary way. That is clearly confusing, to say the least.

So some cardinals who are particularly mindful of the need for clarity - and indeed for doctrinal coherence in that very hermeneutic of continuity to which I referred earlier - have submitted five dubia to the Holy Father, so that all may be quite clear precisely what is or is not being taught.

Yet, mysteriously, the Holy Father seems reluctant to clarify: the dubia remain unanswered.  

And then I saw that Austen Ivereigh, one of the founders of Catholic Voices, responded to this tweet on Twitter: Submitting dubia is a standard part of Church life. It’s not unreasonable to expect a clear answer http://buff.ly/2gb2uJj  by @SSBullivant, by saying: But in this case it’s dissent / theological protest masquerading as a dubium. The answer has been given. They just don’t like it.

I found that curious, as I could find no record of such an answer, so I tweeted @austeni So, for the slow on the uptake, like me, what are the Holy Father's answers to the dubia? In Y/N form, for the avoidance of doubt?

But answer was there none.

Of course, there is no particular reason why Austen Ivereigh should (con)descend from his tower to  answer me - although as I also mentioned on Twitter, instructing the ignorant is one of the corporal works of Mercy.

Ivereigh is the author of How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice. Can we expect a second volume: How to Defend the Faith without saying anything at all?

More seriously, though, what are we to make of it when people (whether the Holy Father or the Head of Catholic Voices) refuse to clarify: when the request for clarity is seen as a hostile act, in fact?  That I find a very worrying question.

And what are we to make of it when people (such as close papal aides...) rush to lie: to say all the cardinals are united on this, and that the interpretation was the fruit of the two synods, when we know that to be untrue?  Again, I find the question, and the need to ask it, very worrying indeed.


Pray for our Holy Father, for all our Cardinals and Bishops, and for the whole Church: for we live in strikingly difficult times.

Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio, 
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. 
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: 
tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, 
Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, 
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, 
divina virtute, in infernum detrude. 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.

Whilst the experts on the Pray,Tell blog are quick to proclaim that Advent is not a time of penance, I demur.   

I understand the concern with my position: that Advent should not be seen as the same as Lent.  I agree: the two are different.  Advent is a time of joyous preparation for the coming of Our Lord (memories of his first coming, and looking forward to his second, of course). But both of these considerations naturally lead us to listen to the words of St John the Baptist: Repent!

We think it important to keep our Advent Celebrations quite distinct from our Christmas Celebrations - though they are related, they are two different seasons of the Church's cycle, with different themes and moods.

So as ever, we will celebrate Advent by saying our prayers around the Advent Wreath, singing O Come O Come Emmanuel and having a reading as we add another character to our Jesse Tree. We will also say the wonderful collect from the traditional Roman rite of the Mass:

Arise in thy strength we beseech thee O Lord and come; from the dangers which threaten us because of our sins, be thy presence our sure defence, be thy deliverance our safety for ever more. 

For those who love Latin, or those who fondly remember my introduction to Liturgical Latin, here is the collect in Latin. too:

Excita, quǽsumus, Dómine, poténtiam tuam, et veni: ut ab imminéntibus peccatórum nostrórum perículis, te mereámur protegénte éripi, te liberánte salvári.

(This, of course, changes with the four Sundays of Advent).

The Marian Antiphon changes today from the Salve Regina to the Alma Redemptoris Mater, which we will sing until the Feast of the Purification (February 2nd).

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma redemptoris mater, 
quae pervia caeli porta manes,
et stella maris succurre cadenti
surgere qui curat populo.  
Tu quae genuisti, 
natura mirante, 
tuum sanctum Genitorem.  
Virgo prius, ac posterius, 
Gabrielis ab ore, 
summens illud ave, 
peccatorum miserere.

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people, 
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth, 
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator, 
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth 
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(Translated by Blessed John Henry Newman)

So today, when we get back from visiting our new grandson, Zachary, we will be out in the frost, collecting holly for the wreath, up in the attic looking for the advent calendars, Jesse Tree book etc, and I will be singing the Alma Redemptoris throughout the day...

Anna's Jesse Tree blog, means that Ant and her family, in the North East, and Bernie, down south in Manchester, and Charlie, at university, can be with us spiritually at the end of each day as we recall Salvation History.  Dominique is currently in residence, for the last year of her sixth form.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Thanks, Bugnini

This Friday's Mass is one of my favourite (?) examples of the supreme illiteracy of those who imposed their new liturgy on us.

The first reading is from the Apocalypse (10: 8-11): the leitmotif is: 'it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.'

Prompted by this, the chosen Psalm is Psalm 118, and the chosen refrain is: 'Your promise is sweet to my taste, O Lord.'

I defy anyone with any literary sensibility not to find himself adding, mentally: 'but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.'

A few things strike me: the first is, that is how literature and performative art work. A theme is established and developed, and the reader or listener is expected (and rightly) to make the links between what has gone before and what follows.

The second is, I do not believe that those who compiled the Lectionary wanted us to make that (almost inevitable) link. Surely they were not wanting us to internalise the notion that the Lord's promise will turn our stomachs.

So the third is, those who compiled the Lectionary simply did not understand (this aspect of) what they were doing.

But then, I am that rigid sort of chap whom the Holy Father excoriates; I strive to make sense of what the Church teaches, and have a preference for clarity and coherence over muddle and mess.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

School of the Annunciation: Foundations in Faith for the New Evangelisation

I have just received this news from the excellent School of the Annunciation, with a request that I publicise it:

Exciting new developments from the School of the Annunciation – the Foundations in Faith for the New Evangelisation (FFNE) course which began in June in Nelson Parish, Salford Diocese has three centres beginning this autumn and winter.

The FFNE course is an 18 month course which takes students systematically through the foundations of Church teaching.  Subjects include the triune God, Jesus Christ, the Church, Our Lady and the saints, introduction to Sacred Scripture, the Liturgy and the Sacraments, the dignity of the human being, Christian moral life, Sacred Art, media and the parish.

The course is for all Catholics who wish to know their faith better, especially those who pass it on to others, such as catechists, parents, grandparents, children’s liturgy leaders, youth workers, parish staff and volunteers, and anyone who has ever fumbled when they have been asked a question about the faith which they have struggled to answer.  As students study the course material they learn how to express it both for themselves and for others.  There are also practical workshops included in the study days and weekends.

After attendance at either the residential weekend at Buckfast or the study days at Ealing and Southwark, students work on their own with constant support by email from their course tutor. 

No prior learning is necessary, no essays or exams to be taken.  Students work at their own level through the course material and send in short 500 word assignments to their tutor every 7-10 days.

The forthcoming centres are:

Buckfast Abbey on 28th October with a residential weekend in the lovely and relaxing setting of the Abbey enjoying excellent accommodation and food, as well as excellent lectures and liturgy of course.

Ealing Abbey on 12th November (the course is run over 2 years at this centre)

Southwark Diocese on 7th January in Tooting Bec (under the title “Diocesan Catechetical Certificate”)

Both the Ealing and the Tooting Bec centres structure the course around 6 days of attendance.

Please forward these details to all your Catholic contacts and encourage them to get in touch with Mrs Carol Ann Harnett if they have any questions. 

Mrs Carol Ann Harnett

School of the Annunciation
Telephone Number (01364) 645660.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Seven Dolours of the BVM

Today is the feast of the Seven Dolours of the  Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is one of the few occasions that the Mass includes a Sequence: the Stabat Mater. The other Sequences in the Liber Usualis are the Dies Irae, the Lauda Sion, the Veni Sancte Spiritus, and the Victimae Paschali - distinguished company by any standard! Perhaps that is a mark of the importance our forefathers attached to this feast.

Here is the Sequence:

If you are unfamiliar with the Latin text, you may know the English: At the Cross her station keeping, which is often sung at the Stations of the Cross.  I include both below (the translation is by Caswell; the original may well have been written by Jacopo da Todi in the thirteenth century.)

Today's gospel is the one about Our Lady standing at the foot of the Cross - and, in that moment when her heart is being pierced as foretold by Simeon, being given to us as our Mother.

Stabat mater dolorósa
juxta Crucem lacrimósa,
dum pendébat Fílius.

Cuius ánimam geméntem,
contristátam et doléntem
pertransívit gládius.

O quam tristis et afflícta
fuit illa benedícta,
mater Unigéniti!

Quae mœrébat et dolébat,
pia Mater, dum vidébat
nati pœnas ínclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si vidéret
in tanto supplício?

Quis non posset contristári
Christi Matrem contemplári
doléntem cum Fílio?

Pro peccátis suæ gentis
vidit Iésum in torméntis,
et flagéllis súbditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriéndo desolátum,
dum emísit spíritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amóris
me sentíre vim dolóris
fac, ut tecum lúgeam.

Fac, ut árdeat cor meum
in amándo Christum Deum
ut sibi compláceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifíxi fige plagas
cordi meo válide.

Tui Nati vulneráti,
tam dignáti pro me pati,
pœnas mecum dívide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifíxo condolére,
donec ego víxero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociáre
in planctu desídero.

Virgo vírginum præclára,
mihi iam non sis amára,
fac me tecum plángere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passiónis fac consórtem,
et plagas recólere.

Fac me plagis vulnerári,
fac me Cruce inebriári,
et cruóre Fílii.

Flammis ne urar succénsus,
per te, Virgo, sim defénsus
in die iudícii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exíre,
da per Matrem me veníre
ad palmam victóriæ.

Quando corpus moriétur,
fac, ut ánimæ donétur
paradísi glória.


At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

In these troubled times, we should have incessant recourse to our Blessed Mother...--

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Having a dig...

Acting on orders received in 2007, and again in 2008, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, I have used the first two days of my holiday to start to remove the site of our bonfire, and prepare it for grassing over. 

As Dominique has just got back from a week in Cambridge, on an Archaeology summer school, I was paying particular attention to what I found as I dug out the fire pit.

It was my first pit (hereafter Pit 1), and I have to say, I was astonished at the richness it yielded.  The most exciting find, to my mind, is this amazing selection of fossilised calamari, thus demonstrating that the people of Cumbria were trading with Venice far earlier than was heretofore thought. I pictured them with a garden fork for scale, as I do not own a geological hammer. (Mrs T, incidentally, facetiously remarked that she thought they were curtain rings. Charlie's theory, that they were gold bangles from the arm of the Young Woman [Tutankhamun's mother] was not supported by the fact that they are not gold. So the calamari hypothesis remains).

But that was by no means my only find in Pit 1. Perhaps it is not surprising, given that we are relatively near Hadrian's Wall, and very near the old Roman Road, High Street, that we should have found these carefully shaped bricks, clearly designed for crenelations, or battlements, along the Wall. What is more surprising is finding so many together, and in such good condition.

Pit 1 also yielded this intriguing object; my conjecture is that it is a Roman toy catapult. It was found by the battlements, and is remarkably like a modern catapult, but is clearly of great antiquity. I will be sending this to the experts at Vindolanda for further analysis.

And then there was this, which I can only take to be an early barber's shaving blade. I imagine it had an ivory handle, or decorative knob on the end, as the handle end is a hollow tube. Clearly it is very old, as more sophisticated tooling has allowed much less coarse blades to be manufactured for such intimate and intricate work.

Another extraordinary find was this scimitar. I can only assume that this was brought home as a souvenir from the crusades by a previous occupant of the house; and was, perhaps, banished to the flames of a fire following some domestic dispute (?). It has survived well, and I am carefully cleaning the rust, in the hope of finding some inscription on the blade.

I had decided to keep the location of Pit 1 secret, and had indeed installed a guard dog, for obvious reasons. Pit 1 having yielded such treasures, it might have proved tempting to the less scrupulous of my archaeological followers.

However, following further discussions with the landowner ("Don't you leave that like a big mess in the garden; I want it turfed over, not left half-finished like so many of your projects...") Pit 1 has now been filled and is not available for further excavation. I will have to ensure that Mrs T does not disappear in the near future, as I understand the police take a dim view of freshly dug pits in such circumstances. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Living in a Parable

Reflecting on today's Gospel ('they look but do not see' etc) I was struck by the fact that my life, too, is like a parable. I cannot understand it, unless I listen to Our Lord's explanation. And when I do, 'blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear.