Thursday, 24 July 2014
This is my translation of an article in Corrispondenza Romana dated 23 July 2014. It concerns the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and in particular, the involvement in the Commissariamento of a certain éminence grise, who is profiled in the article. I think this is a very strange business, to put it mildly.
Who is Mario Castellano?
By Emmanuele Barbieri
One year on from the start of the Commissariamento of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the fate of the Institute is now in the hands of a triumvirate composed of Father Fidenzio Volpi, the Commissioner designated by the Congregation for Religious, of Father Alfonso Bruno, the “parricidal” Franciscan, and of an eccentric character, in the shadows up to now, but more active than ever as consultant to the policing operation: “Professor” Mario Castellano. So who is this man?
Mario Castellano was born in Imperia, in 1949, in a well-to-do family. His father Adolfo, a former commercial representative of Scotti rice, was a white partisan [presumably a reference to World War II – DB] and town councillor for the Christian Democrats; his uncle was Ismaele Mario Castellano, Archbishop of Siena. The young Castellano, after receiving his degree in jurisprudence, took the title of lawyer, a profession which he did not practise. His political sympathies have always been on the left. More precisely, he comes from the left-wing of the Christian Democrats, and in Imperia he is remembered as a Cathocommunist. It is also said that since the Nineties, Castellano has been affiliated to the Grand Orient of Sanremo. We await the interested party’s denial of this rumour.
Even though he had never been a professor, he taught law at the University of Managua, soon after the Sandinistas had taken power. (It was from ideological motives that our man moved to Nicaragua for a while, marrying a Nicaraguan woman there, from whom he separated a few years later.) He has collaborated on various websites and blogs, of esoteric and pro-Islamic orientation, before becoming the “right arm” or, according to some, the “left mind”, of Father Alfonso Bruno, whom he met at the Boccea house and has accompanied at times in the inspections of the “rebel” houses.
Since 2005 Castellano has written enthusiastically: in defence of the rights of Musims in Italy; in favour of multiculturalism; on the adjustment of our juridical system to the rights of Muslims; on the shared home of all (believers and non-believers, and believers of all Faiths). (1)
In 2008 he declared himself in favour of the removal from the “Tridentine” Missal of everything that could offend Jewish sensibility. Furthermore, in a positive and charitable tone, the author presented esotericism as one of the three motives for us Catholics being “condemned for eternity” to fight against the Muslims and Jews. (2) In islam-online in 2010 he described Islamic mosques as “a factor of stability and security”. (3)
On 8 April 2011, in an event of the Lions Club of Sanremo, in support of the Italian Risorgimento, Mario Castellano gave a talk on “Cavour Today” [Attualità di Cavour]. (4) Castellano showed evident sympathy for the Italian statesman, who was a noted anticlerical influenced by English-style Freemasonry.
On 12 June 2012 www.mediatrice.net posted an anonymous article, in fact by Castellano, Europe Moving towards Federation? (5) The author of the article reveals himself as an enthusiastic admirer of the French Revolution and of the European Superstate, likening the crisis throughout Europe today to that which France suffered on the eve of the Revolution. The crisis then had its outlet in a revolutionary act by which the States-General, proclaiming themselves the Constituent Assembly, initiated the Revolution. Today the direct assumption by the European Union of the public debt of certain States, and of the private debt of certain banks, is considered as a revolutionary decision which opens up the way to a Federation of European States.
In the course of the French Revolution the clergy then split, between the “priest-jurors” who adhered to the schismatic civil Constitution of the Clergy and the “refractory clergy” who remained faithful to the Church of Rome.
Castellano’s sympathy is for the schismatic priests, as is evinced from this passage: “When Napoleon, in 1801, was to draw up the Concordat with Pius VII, the “refractory clergy” were to be pardoned and readmitted to the exercise of the ministry, while the work carried out by the “priest-jurors” during the previous decade was to be recognised and rectified from the Canonical point of view. Those who had chosen to remain faithful to the Nation had therefore acted correctly, from the point of view of the State, as well as from the point of view of the Church of France.” [The link provided here by Corrispondenza Romana does not work – DB]
Mario Castellano has always distinguished himself, furthermore, by his violent attacks on uncompromising Catholics who are lovers of Tradition. Perhaps it is for this reason that he is loved in his turn by Commissioner Volpi and by the Congregation for Religious, who treasure his advice.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
The journalist Edward Pentin has tweeted this item of information, or possibly speculation, which appeared today on the Yahoo Italian news site. Here is the relevant extract, translated by me:
Tomorrow’s press conference could also, however, be the occasion for other announcements. According to a leak, there will also be announced the creation of a new Secretariat for Communication, a new dicastery stretching out to coordinate all the communication channels of the Holy See (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Press Office, Osservatore Romano, Radio Vatican). According to the leak, the name of Lord Chris Patten has emerged in “pole position” for the job of president of this organisation. He is aged 70, a British politician, a devout Catholic (he was the organiser of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010).
Picture from The Guardian newspaper, via Google Images
Tuesday, 27 May 2014
On the site of Messa in Latino there is a report, with pictures, of the accidental damage done to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The text is as follows:
A fire broke out in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, less than 48 hours after the visit of Pope Francis.
A small fire developed in the night because of the accidental fall of an oil lamp in the Grotto of the Nativity beneath the Basilica, it was reported yesterday by Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the Palestinian governor of the little city in which Jesus was born.
The alarm was raised at about 4.30 a.m. by a guard who noticed the smell of burning.
The flames damaged some hangings inside the Grotto and blackened the walls of the monument, which has been part of the Patrimony of UNESCO since 2012 and is being restored, a task on which two Italian firms are also working.
Thursday, 22 May 2014
I reported here on the splendid open letter from Fr Buzzi of Bangladesh that was published on Sandro Magister’s Chiesa. Fr Buzzi has now written a new letter, full of good things on the subject of the divorced-remarried. Here is the link to it.
If Chiesa isn’t already on your regular reading list, I recommend it to you.
Wednesday, 21 May 2014
I'm afraid I don't have time to translate all of this article, written by Roberto di Mattei for Correspondenza Romana. However, here is the nub of it, and it is quite a bombshell, though one which the Sisters may well have been expecting.
I expect Rorate Caeli or another English-language site will publish the entire article in the near future.
"On Monday 19 May 2014, Cardinal Joäo Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, announced to the Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the nomination, with immediate effect, of a "Visitatrix" for the Institute, with powers of severe control which in fact are equivalent to those of a "Commissioner".
In line with this, Sister Fernanda Barbiero has been installed in the mother-house [at Frattocchie, Rome, I think - DB]. Sister Fernanda belongs to the Istituto Suore Maestre Santa Dorotea. She is an "adult", up-to-date religious, of moderately feminist tendency, a follower, though belatedly by some years, of the "integral humanism" of Maritain."
Picture from holycrossbooks,co.uk, via Google Images.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
One of the things I like so much about Aid to the Church in Need is that it nourishes both body and soul. It goes to the peripheries, with the outpouring of God’s love and the fullness of fidelity to Christ’s teaching and that of His Church.
Some of you may not yet have discovered the blog The Eponymous Flower. It has just published this moving and inspiring account of the valiant work carried out by Father Michael Shields, a priest of the Order of the Little Brothers of Jesus. His apostolate is in the town of Magadan, close to the far eastern coast of Russia, and a place of bitter cold and also of bitter associations with the terrible Gulags.
See what beautiful things are being done! His work is helped by Aid to the Church in Need, and if you feel you could spare a small or even a tiny monthly donation, what a difference the cumulative amount could make to someone’s life and spiritual comfort.
It’s very easy to do. Please consider finding out how you could help, by following this link to the Aid to the Church in Need website.
Monday, 12 May 2014
Dear readers, I dare say many or perhaps all of you visit Sandro Magister's blog, Chiesa, which is available in Italian, English, French and Spanish.
In case you have not yet seen it, I must share this post with you. Magister publishes a letter he has received from an old friend, who has been a missionary priest for many years in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh. How well he has taught the faithful Catholics in his care! I particularly like the concise beauty of his teachings on the Sacraments, especially marriage, and his words on Holy Communion in regard to the divorced-remarried.
This is one of the joys of the Catholic blogosphere: that we who worry about the state of the Church as the Synod on the Family approaches, can be strengthened by our brothers and sisters all over the world.
Saturday, 10 May 2014
The prudential decisions of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II have featured prominently in the dismay expressed by some bloggers over their canonisation.
When I look back over my life I can pick out a number of prudential, earthly-wisdom decisions which I regret having made. On the small scale of an ordinary person’s life, the ripples travel only so far; though possibly farther than we can know, and affecting others to an extent we do not know.
How much more harmful may be the effects of the unwise prudential decisions of a Pope! We cannot know the extent of the sorrow experienced by a Pope, as his life draws to a close, if he comes to realise that some of his sincerely-motivated decisions have turned out to be harmful to souls and to the Church.
I don’t want to focus on this or that decision made by former Popes. We know what times the Church is living through, and other writers have expressed their views as to the causes or combinations of causes. My purpose in this post is to propose our newly-canonised Popes as special intercessors in the run-up to the Synod on the Family; and this specifically because of their experience in office.
Pope Francis certainly needs our prayers, and I think also the prayers of our new Saints, that his prudential judgments, and his pastoral decisions, may always be in alignment with the truths of the Catholic Faith. These truths being for the good of all souls.
Sunday, 20 April 2014
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
I have just finished translating the following post from the estimable Italian-language blog, Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes, published by Don Luciano Micheli. I found it fascinating and heartening. It’s long, but I hope you will be glad to have persevered with it.
UPDATE: Rorate Caeli has also posted a translation of Marco Tosatti's article, which he wrote for La Stampa. Do go to the Rorate post: it contains other encouraging material. Let us be of good heart!
Is Doctrine the Enemy of Pastoralism?
The Secret Consistory: What Happened.
Following the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
In the Secret Consistory, in which the “Kasper theorem” of the divorced-remarried and the Eucharist was discussed, there was very little agreement, and many criticisms. Here is a reconstruction of some of the most significant and important interventions. “It would be a fatal error”, someone said, to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
Marco Tosatti writes:
The Consistory of 22 February, to discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. But it was decided at a high level that it would be opportune to make public Cardinal Kasper’s long report on the subject of the Eucharist for the divorced-remarried. It was probably done to open up the way in anticipation of the October Synod on the family. But half of the Consistory remained secret: and it concerned the interventions of the Cardinals. And not by chance, because after Cardinal Kasper had set out his long report (not very easy listening, from what it seems) several voices were raised to criticise it. While in the afternoon, when the Pope gave him the task of responding, the German prelate’s tone appeared to many to be piqued, not to say angry.
The current opinion is that the “Kasper theorem” aims to say yes, that in general the divorced-remarried can receive Holy Communion, without the former marriage being recognised as invalid. At present this does not happen; based on Jesus’s very severe and explicit words about divorce. A person who leads a complete matrimonial life without the first bond having been considered invalid by the Church, finds himself, according to the present doctrine, in a permanent situation of sin.
It is in this sense that Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna spoke clearly, as did the German Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just as explicit was Cardinal Walter Brandmuller (“Neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel, have an expiry date. It is a work of courage to state the truth, even against the current mores. A courage that anyone who speaks in the name of the Church must possess, if he does not want to fail in his vocation … The desire to obtain approval and praise is an ever-present temptation in the dissemination of religious teaching … ” and following this, he made his words public.) So too, Cardinal Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops, expressed himself in a critical manner toward the “Kasper theorem”; as did the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of “Cor Unum”, who recalled, at the end of his intervention, how in the course of the centuries, even on dramatic questions, there have been disagreements and controversies within the Church, but that the role of the Papacy has always been that of defending doctrine.
Cardinal Re, one of the great electors of Bergoglio, made a very brief intervention, which can be summarised thus: I am taking the floor for a moment, because the future new Cardinals are here, and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say it, so I am saying it: I am completely opposed to the report.
Cardinal Piacenza too, the Prefect of the Penitentiary, declared himself opposed to it, and said, more or less: We are here now, and we will be here in October for a Synod on the Family, and so, as there is a desire to hold a Synod, I don’t see in fact why we have to deal only with the subject of Communion for the divorced. And he added: Since we want to have a pastoral discussion, it seems to me that we should take note of a very widely diffused pan-sexualism, and of an aggressive promotion of the ideology of gender which aims to unhinge the family as we have always known it. If we were the light of the nations, it would be providential to explain what kind of situation we find ourselves in, and what can destroy the family. He concluded by exhorting his audience to take up once again the teachings of John Paul II on the body, because they contain many positive elements on the subject of sex, of being a man, of being a woman, and on procreation and love.
Cardinal Tauran, of Inter-Religious Dialogue, returned to the subject of the attack on the family, also in the light of relations with Islam. Cardinal Scola of Milan also raised theological and doctrinal perplexities.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini was also very critical. He added: I do not know if I have made a good note of it, but up to this moment about 85% of the Cardinals who have expressed themselves appear to be opposed to the direction of the report. He added that, among those who said nothing and could not be classified, he gathered from the silences “that I think they are embarrassed”.
Next, Cardinal Ruini quoted the Good Pope, saying, in essence: When John XXIII gave the opening address of Vatican Council II he said that a pastoral Council could be held because, fortunately, doctrine was peacefully accepted by all, and there were no controversies; hence it was possible to give a pastoral edge without fear of being misunderstood, since the doctrine remains very clear. Whether John XXIII had been correct at that moment, the prelate commented, only God knows, but apparently, to a large extent, perhaps it was true. Today this could not be said any longer in the most absolute manner, because not only is doctrine not shared, but it is fought against. “It would be a fatal error” to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.
It is understandable, therefore, that Cardinal Kasper seemed a little piqued, in the afternoon, when Pope Bergoglio allowed him to respond, without, however, allowing the emergence of a real confrontation: only Kasper spoke. Add to this, that other criticisms of the “Kasper theorem” are being added to those raised in the Consistory; privately to the Pope, or publicly, on the part of Cardinals from every part of the world. German Cardinals, who know Kasper well, say that he has been passionate about the matter since the 1970s. The problem raised by several critical voices is that the Gospel is very explicit on this point. And the fear is, that not to take account of it would render any other point of doctrine based on the Gospel very unstable and modifiable at will.
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Unsurprisingly, and I dare say like many others, I am finding the prospect of the forthcoming synod on marriage and the family rather oppressive. With all the pressure by Cardinal Kasper and others, the thought, “It’s like the Maginot Line”, keeps popping into my head.
From various websites I have looked at (including a short Wikipedia article here), I have learnt that the Maginot Line itself was far from being a ridiculous thing, as it has sometimes been painted. It was a series of impressive and varied fortifications, its chief and most substantial presence being along France’s border with Germany, from which country France considered it had most to fear.
I say “the Maginot Line itself”, because my reading has taught me something I had not known: that the French preparedness against the Germans extended from the Maginot Line as far as the English Channel, by means of a series of weaker fortifications, some of which were natural features of the landscape such as forests.
The French thought that in the event of an advance by Germany, the Maginot Line, by acting as a buffer at the frontier between the two countries, would give them enough time to advance to meet the Germans by way of Belgium. But in fact it was the Germans themselves who advanced through Belgium, sweeping on into France, and simply bypassing the Maginot Line.
It is fortunate that the Church’s unchanging teaching is not limited by geography: but that does not allay my fears that certain prelates wish to attempt to outflank it by a blitzkrieg of false pastoralism.
Monday, 17 March 2014
I have seen this mistaken view expressed a few times, including on blogs. The blogger presents evidence that the Church’s teaching is being openly rejected, and that the clergy or hierarchy seemingly do nothing to correct the dissent. A commenter says: “Why do you want to exclude your fellow-Catholics who think differently from you? Surely the Church should welcome all views. After all, the word Catholic means inclusive.”
And the answer is, No it doesn’t: not in the Church's sense of the word. Certainly this is one of the meanings given to the word in an ordinary dictionary. But the Church's meaning is more precise, as I’m sure my readers know, being defined as universal.
The English Penny Catechism can’t be beaten for brevity:
The Church is Catholic or universal because she subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and is the one ark of salvation for all.The Catholic Encyclopedia gives an interesting and detailed account of the origins of the word Catholic as applied to the Church. In whatever context the term is used, it is clear that the Catholicity, the world-wide reach of the Catholic Church, is inseparable from Her true teaching. You will see what I mean if you read the whole article.
The Encyclopedia was published in 1917, a few years after the death of Pope St Pius X, who had issued detailed warnings against Modernism, described as the synthesis of all heresies. Bearing this date in mind, it is fascinating to read its dismissal of the idea that the Church can find room both for true teachings and their rejection. Here is the relevant passage, to which I have added a few paragraph breaks for ease of reading.
"It should be said that among some confused thinkers of the Anglican communion, as also among certain representatives of Modernist opinions, an interpretation of the Catholicity of the Church has lately come into fashion which has little connection with anything that has hitherto fallen under our notice. Starting with the conception familiar in such locutions as "a man of catholic tastes", meaning a man who excludes no rational interest from his sympathies, these writers would persuade us that a catholic church either does or should mean a church endowed with unlimited comprehensiveness, i.e. which is prepared to welcome and assimilate all opinions honestly held, however contradictory.
"To this it may be answered that the idea is absolutely foreign to the connotation of the phrase Catholic Church as we can trace it in the writings of the Fathers. To take a term consecrated by centuries of usage and to attach a brand-new meaning to it, of which those who through the ages had it constantly on their lips never dreamed, is to say the least extremely misleading.
"If this comprehensiveness and elasticity of belief is regarded as a desirable quality, by all means let it have a new name of its own, but it is dishonest to leave the impression upon the ignorant or the credulous, that this is the idea which devout men in past ages have all along been groping for, and that it has been left to the religious thinkers of our own day to evolve from the name catholic its true and real significance.
"So far from the idea of a nebulous and absorbent substance imperceptibly shading off into the media which surround it, the conception of the Fathers was that the Catholic Church was cut off by the most clearly defined of lines from all that lay outside. Its primary function, we might also say, was to set itself in acute opposition to all that threatened its vital principle of unity and stability.
"It is true that patristic writers may sometimes play with the word catholic, and develop its etymological suggestiveness with an eye to erudition or edification, but the only connotation upon which they insist as a matter of serious import is the idea of diffusion throughout the world."
Saturday, 15 March 2014
A fine post on Dr Joseph Shaw’s LMS Chairman blog set me thinking about what may (and probably will) lie ahead. This is the result.
Dear Fathers, Pastors of souls, I’m sure you will agree that there are times when you have to think like a civil servant.
I’d like to think that every priest has planned ahead, and worked out in advance how he is going to deal with the publicly unrepentant who stand in front of him at the altar steps, daring him to refuse them Holy Communion.
A soldier is well trained to deal with unexpected and critical threats, and so must priests be, in the spiritual sphere, especially in these dark days. I do not know whether bishops usually guide their clergy in such matters. I hope they do. But if not, it would be as well for priests to be (oh, cringe at the jargon) proactive.
When planning for these contingencies, it would be sensible also to recruit some of the burlier members of the congregation to serve on a roster of church ushers.
I sometimes try to imagine how I might react if I were in the priest’s shoes when faced with this situation. I can think of a few requirements. A quick assessment; taking command of the moment; a decisive response; a refusal to be cowed; genuine concern for the soul in front of you; standing on your authority as a priest of God and guardian of His Body.
I suppose the priest could say, quite simply, “Please return to your place”, or something similar. That might be sufficient, as well as tactful: the would-be communicant would know the implications of the priest’s words.
If the person refused to move away, I can envisage something stronger, such as “I will not give you Holy Communion”, and even, if the person persisted, “For the sake of your soul, I will not give you Holy Communion.” This would be turning into a horrible experience for the unrepentant person (as it would for the priest), but that would be more salutary for him than if he were to add the sin of sacrilege to his defiance.
Finally, faced with continuing refusal to move aside, the priest would be well advised to have his Burly Ushers close by, to apply their own persuasion.
After that, there is the question of the bishop’s reaction if he were informed of the incident. Now that is the great unknown. But at least in my imaginary diocese the priest would be able to produce his plan (already pre-approved by the bishop, naturally), which I hope would encourage the bishop to believe that he handled the crisis well. Civil service thinking, you see.
Times are grim, but at least we can all be prepared.
Friday, 14 March 2014
This, as you may have guessed, is about Michael Voris and ChurchMilitant.TV. In particular, I’d like to comment on the reports that the mission statement or policy of that organisation specifically precludes any criticism of the Pope.
Let us say, hypothetically, that there might be a Pope whose words or actions on occasion caused confusion or dismay to orthodox-minded Catholics. Those same words or actions might be interpreted by the heterodox and by those who rejected the Church’s moral teachings as a licence to continue on their false path.
If an orthodox Catholic broadcaster with a clause such as CMTV is said to have, were to find itself living and working in such a pontificate, one could reasonably imagine that it would experience a dilemma.
Paul withstood Peter, and the lay faithful, within their capacity, have the right to speak out when their Catholic antennae tell them that something, from whatever source, is just not right. Always subject to correction of genuine misunderstandings, of course, and assuming the sincerity of all involved.
If such a scenario ever came to pass, a few things occur to me. (Readers may think of additional things.) The broadcaster’s management board would be well advised to revisit its blanket “No criticism of the Pope” clause. As it stands, it would not allow them, or their presenters, the specific authorisation to criticise Papal words and deeds while continuing to deny them the right to criticise the man: to speak frankly about the former while displaying genuine respect and love for the latter.
They could, I suppose, leave the clause as it is while interpreting it with a kind of reservation: since it refers, as it stands, only to the Pope and not to his words or actions. There is a risk in this. It could be asserted by their opponents that they were ignoring the “no criticism” clause as though it were a dead letter. Such criticisms would have a grain of truth. But they would be a bit bare-faced. Dissenters have attempted to do this very thing, far more seriously (and have largely succeeded in practice) in regard to the moral teachings of the Church and Her associated disciplines. In general, though, it may not be a good idea.
It would be better, I think, for the broadcaster’s controllers to be completely up-front about it: to re-word the clause so that it clearly permits one kind of criticism while forbidding the other kind. If they were to do that they would at least be able, as one or two people used to say where I worked, to “cover their backs”. In this situation, it might be a sensible move.
Sad, isn’t it, that such measures might become necessary at some point. All CMTV are trying to do is to engage in the noble work of defending the faith of Christ’s Church.
God bless Michael Voris, who is such a valiant soldier.
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
This is my translation of an interesting post on Sandro Magister’s blog Settimo Cielo, entitled as above. I thought a few things were worth highlighting in bold.
Cardinal Walter Kasper is very angry at the publication by Il Foglio on 1 March – and disseminated in additional languages by www.chiesa - of his report to the consistory on 21 –22 February, in favour of Communion for remarried divorcees. This may be because the daily newspaper edited by Giuliano Ferrara has ruined the scoop the cardinal was already planning with the approval of Pope Francis, with the publication of his own report in the form of a short book, to be published by Queriniana.
But on 11 March it was L’Osservatore Romano which was the second media outlet to anticipate the issuing of the booklet, publishing almost in their entirety two other unpublished texts of Kasper, taken from his participation in the consistory, at the end of the discussion.
It was a very lively discussion, with many first-rank cardinals speaking against the theses maintained by Kasper.
In his reply to the critics, the German theologian and cardinal called on the tradition of the Church in support of his theses, and on the Eastern principle of “oikonomia”, on the Western principle of “epicheia”, on the equiprobabilism of St Alfonso Maria de Liguori, on the concept of prudence in Thomas Aquinas, and on the “sensus fidei” of the Christian people considered by Newman.
And he concluded with an either/or. Either the synod on the family will produce a change, or else it will be much better not to convene it at all:
“Regarding this question of ours, there are great expectations in the Church. Without doubt we cannot respond to all the expectations. But if we were merely to repeat the responses which have already been given, presumably going back forever, that would lead to a very serious disappointment. As witnesses of hope we cannot let ourselves be guided by a hermeneutic of fear. Courage, and above all, biblical openness (parresia), are necessary. If we do not want this, then we should rather not hold any synod on this subject, because in such a case the subsequent situation would be worse than it was before.”
Saturday, 22 February 2014
Here is a first-rate post from Fr Simon Henry on his highly-recommended blog, Offerimus Tibi Domine, entitled When was the last time you felt unable to go to Communion?
I venture, with some trepidation, to make a modest proposal.
In Clifton diocese the Holy Communion procession is a very neat arrangement, front to back, row by row. This results in those who do not go up to receive remaining rather conspicuously alone in the pew.
In contrast, I remember things as they used to be, both in my earlier years in Liverpool archdiocese, and as they were when we spent a good deal of time in a rural part of Ireland in the mid-2000s. What I recall is a bit of a scramble. All the communicants surged forward randomly, including those right at the back of the church. The people in the front pews sometimes had to wait quite some time before they could fit into a gap. In addition, some of the congregation liked to spend a little more time in prayer before receiving.
The “bun-fight” approach allowed for all sorts and types. It was untidy, but the very untidiness gave shelter to those who were unwilling or unable to receive. Nobody noticed what they were or were not doing. They could devote themselves to their own prayers and spiritual communions.
Really, it would be an act of charity to such members of the congregation. And, since the First Great Commandment relates to God, this giving of shelter and a degree of anonymity would also help to foster the respect due to the Blessed Sacrament.
Would congregations be willing to go back to the old, somewhat chaotic arrangement, if these genuine and very important spiritual reasons were put forward? Might it be feasible?
Image, via Google, from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville, New South Wales
Monday, 17 February 2014
Many of you will have read Rorate Caeli's post about the discussion between Pope Francis and the Czech Archbishop Jan Graubner, on the subject of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Archbishop reports the Pope’s opinion as follows:
When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. "When I search more thoroughly - the Pope said - I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."
If the report is accurate, Pope Francis thinks the Traditional Latin Mass is a fashion to which some young Catholics have become addicted as to a passing phase. He has come to this conclusion, because, as he is reported to have said, he has searched “more thoroughly” into the matter.
I am sure the Pope genuinely believes that his research has been thorough; but that does not necessarily mean it is so.
The evidence that the love of Tradition is a deep-rooted development lies not only in the slow but steady growth of the Traditional Mass in many parts of the world, but most dramatically in the vocational fruitfulness of those priestly and religious congregations who have embraced it. It is not for a fashion that young people give their entire lives to the Lord: it is because they have found the pearl of great price.
Image from Rorate Caeli's post on the recent subdiaconal ordinations of the FSSP
Thursday, 2 January 2014
Since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Traditional Latin Mass congregation of Cheltenham has been very fortunate in regard to the good priests who have regularly offered the Holy Sacrifice in the ancient form. Father Tom Smith, now at Warminster; Father Alexander Redman of Dursley, and now Father Ian McCarthy of Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water: they have each been a great blessing to us.
Because of various disruptions, I had been unable to attend the monthly TLM at St Gregory’s for a little while. I missed it very much. Yesterday evening, by means of a lift there and a taxi back, I had the quiet joy of being present at the first Low Mass of the year.
There is something very powerful about being part of a congregation that unites itself with the priestly workman as he goes about his Task. Yesterday, unusually, there was no altar server, and the congregation spoke the responses, with unostentatious dignity.
The number has shown a slow but steady increase over time, and at the end of a day of almost unremittingly vile weather about thirty people had made the effort to attend. They included quite a few newcomers, I think. It was very impressive.
As I knelt and prayed and observed Father going about his work at the altar, I tried to fathom out what it is about this form of the Mass that always goes to my heart in a way that the Novus Ordo form does not. At one time there is a particular reason; at another, a different one. Last night, the idea of normality came to me very strongly. If I had my heart’s desire in these things, I would wish to attend the Traditional Mass as my normal Mass.
I particularly wanted to write this post, in order to record an exchange I heard after the Mass, while waiting outside the door for my taxi to arrive. I heard a young woman say, as she came out, “That was beautiful”; and her companion agreed.
After that, I have no more words, except to wish my readers many blessings for the year ahead.
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes with warmth and sincerity about the Church’s relationship with the followers of the religion of Mohammed.
Calmness is an important quality, in this matter as in others. Sandro Magister’s Chiesa has published this calm assessment of the relevant parts of the Apostolic Exhortation. It is written by Father Samir Khalil Samir, a Jesuit and an Islamologist. According to Magister, Fr Samir “examines them one by one. And he criticizes their limitations.”