Friday, 23 April 2010

Third Post of Friday: The Bishops and Public Penance

The Bishops of England and Wales have urged all Catholics to set aside the four Fridays in May 2010 as special days of prayer (See Fr Blake’s blog, here). In particular, the bishops say:

We invite Catholics on these days to come before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes to pray to God for healing, forgiveness and a renewed dedication.

It would certainly be a good thing to undertake prayers of reparation for the sins of others. Since, however, it was hardly ever the case that these horrific acts of abuse against children and adolescents were perpetrated by members of the laity, I am concerned that the bishops have not mentioned themselves in connection with this proposal. They must surely be seen to be joining in.

I’d very much like to know how they, together with other senior figures in the clergy and in religious congregations and orders – both current and retired - intend to take part in these days of repentant prayer.

An excellent suggestion was made recently on Beliefnet, which I read via Fr Zuhlsdorf’s blog. A deacon from Alaska has written very well on the subject, making, in particular, the following challenging but warm-hearted proposal:

So here is my question for you. What if our bishops chose to do public penance? What if they lay prostrate or knelt in front of their cathedrals as penitents before each Mass on the weekend closest to the feast of St.Peter and Paul or on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or some other appropriate day or days? Or, even better, on the first Friday of every month for the next year starting with the feast of the Sacred Heart or Sts.Peter and Paul? And what if we, as their deacons, as an order in the Church, in all humility, not only called on our bishops to do public penance, but offered to join them in it?
What a wonderful suggestion.

Second Post of Friday: The Bishops and the Recognition of Dissent

On 1st February, the Holy Father said to our bishops:

In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate.

I’d be very interested to know what the bishops of England and Wales are planning in response to this exhortation. I very much look forward to hearing what steps they are going to take to guide the faithful in this respect.

First Post of Friday: That CES Appointment, in the Light of the Ad Limina

It was as recently as 1st February that the Holy Father told the Bishops of England and Wales, during their Ad Limina visit:

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission.

Now we have the appointment of retiring Labour MP, Greg Pope, with his voting record on life issues, to be the deputy director of the organisation that calls itself the Catholic Education Service. Fr Finigan's account of it, with many useful links, is here.

What does this say about our bishops’ desire to carry out Pope Benedict’s wishes? And not only his wishes, but to carry out their solemn duty as teachers of the whole truth, and as facilitators of those they appoint to teach the whole truth on their behalf?

Monday, 19 April 2010

Benedict to write no more books?

From on Monday 19 April 2010 (My translation – including any mistakes):

Ratzinger will not write anything more

The second part of the book on Jesus of Nazareth, due to be published in the next few months, will be Benedict XVI’s last book. After this, the theologian Pope will not write anything more.

This is the most interesting item of news to have appeared in the newspapers this weekend. Rabbi Jacob Neusner wrote it in Corriere della Sera. In an article inside a special feature for the five-year anniversary of Joseph Ratzinger’s pontificate, Neusner writes as follows:

Last January, when I met the Pope in Rome, I asked him what he intended to do when, within about six months, he would have completed the second volume of his Jesus of Nazareth. With a smile, he replied: “Nothing else. This is my last book. I have other matters to expedite.”

A scholar who gives up writing books does not keep the title of scholar for long. Benedict XVI did not have to add: “After all, I am the Pope”. But the academic in me whispered: “At what a price”."

Read Jacob Neusner’s La forza della ragione nel confronto con le altre religioni here.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

SSPX Rosary Crusade for Russia: Provisional Total

Some figures have still to be received, but it appears that in response to its request for a crusade of 12 million rosaries for the intention of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Society of St Pius X has received, to date, more than 18 million.

I can’t quite take the news in.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Well Done, "Flying Bishop" Burnham

Earlier this week I attended a talk which was given to the North Gloucestershire Newman Circle by Bishop Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet. He is one of the Anglican Provincial Episcopal Visitors known colloquially as flying bishops, originally appointed to minister to the spiritual needs of those Anglicans who do not accept the priestly ordination of women in the Church of England. As we know, events have developed a good deal beyond that issue alone.

His theme was, as one might expect, the implications of Anglicanorum Coetibus. This is not a full account of the talk: followers of the Catholic blogosphere are no doubt already well informed on the subject. But I thought I would record here a few snippets.


It was interesting to hear about the pilgrimage he made to Rome in 2008 with his colleague, the Bishop of Richborough. They made a tentative enquiry as to whether they might be able to call in for a brief visit at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. The idea was welcomed. They were then referred on for a visit to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was the appropriate office in regard to individuals and groups as distinct from entire ecclesial bodies. On their return to England they informed the Archbishop of Canterbury of their meetings and of the matters discussed. Quite independently, the Traditional Anglican Communion had made its own approach to Rome. No one, either in the C of E or among the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, seems to have known until a short time before the issue of Anglicanorum Coetibus, that its provisions would be of such generous extent that they could be applied to Anglicans within the Church of England. I had read somewhere that our bishops seemed to have been kept out of the loop, but it was fascinating to hear it from such a prominent person involved in the matter.


Touching briefly on the subject of the Church’s teaching on sexual matters, he asserted very clearly that we are all called to the virtue of continence, and that this applies to married people as well as to the unmarried. I am of course aware of this teaching, and fully accept it; but my agreement comes from my own study of the subject, and personal reflection on the teaching. I think I read it, some years ago, in Pope John Paul II’s book Love and Responsibility. I can’t think when I ever heard it said anywhere else, and certainly not from a Catholic pulpit. I was very pleased to hear Bishop Burnham say it.

The following is my own reflection: There is an unappreciated richness about the application of this virtue to the married state. It seems to be implicit in St Paul’s exhortation to husbands in Ephesians 5:25. From his even-handed teaching to married couples, the call to wives to obey their husbands tends to be emphasised – usually by critics– to the neglect of the other half of the text:

"Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and sacrificed Himself for Her, to make Her holy.”

I’m a great supporter of the idea of wifely obedience, not as a slavish thing, but as one of the great keys to unity in marriage. In addition, sacrifice is an inevitable part of the life of a wife and mother. But I think we should also honour the sacrificial elements of the life of a good husband, who will incorporate many virtues into his married life, including that great manly virtue, continence.


Lastly, I will give a brief mention to a most interesting observation which Bishop Burnham made on another aspect of this great adventure we are all engaged in with our Anglo-Catholic brethren. He had found that Catholic clergy seemed to be very much impressed with how well-taught the Anglo-Catholics were in the truths of the Catholic Faith.

Step by step, we are on a most inspiring journey.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Why was the CDF's Kiesle letter leaked on its own?

As Catholic World News reports, there was no context. We have no knowledge as to what background information was provided in support of this priest's petition for laicisation. Is this perhaps a significant omission?

Still experiencing a strange mood in reaction to all the attacks on the Holy Father. Anything may happen next. It is as though his adversaries are slowly circling him, flinging first one thing and then another at him. They do not achieve the primary success they desire, but they are making do with good deal of collateral damage from the falsehoods which are sticking, here and there, like mud, in the minds of the less well-informed among the spectators of this blood-sport.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Grief is Transformed into Joy

A very sweet and simple little picture, painted by an unknown illustrator for a children’s book of Bible stories. Mary Magdalen weeps at the tomb of her Master. She sees the angels, and speaks with them, but she does not seem to realise who they are. She is disorientated and inconsolable.

She strikes me as a rather fragile person. But whatever her temperament, whatever her state of health, everything that she is, everything, is filled with devoted love for Jesus. She has been His faithful disciple through thick and thin, to death and beyond.

And then she sees, as she supposes, the gardener, who says to her

“Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have taken Him away, tell me where you have put Him, and I will go and remove Him.” Jesus said, ”Mary!” She knew Him then and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabbuni!” – which means Master.
(John 20: 15-16)

And grief is transformed into a joy greater than any of us can imagine.

May we all have that joy at this time, which in earthly terms is very fraught and difficult, but in heavenly terms is the time of the victory of God’s love for us. He has loved us to death and beyond, and has shown us that His love and power are without limit.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Thirteenth and Fourteenth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

THIRTEENTH STATION: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
(Luke 23:50-53, John 19:31-37, Luke 24:26)

Consider that, our Lord having expired, two of His disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, took Him down from the cross, and placed Him in the arms of His afflicted Mother, who received Him with unutterable tenderness, and pressed Him to her bosom.

O Mother of Sorrow, for the love of this Son, accept me for thy servant and pray to Him for me. And Thou, my Redeemer, since Thou hast died for me, permit me to love Thee; for I wish but Thee, my Jesus, and I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

FOURTEENTH STATION: Jesus is Laid in His Tomb
(Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42, John 12:24-25, Romans 6:10-11)

Consider that the disciples carried the body of Jesus to bury it, accompanied by His holy Mother, who arranged it in the sepulchre with her own hands. They then closed the tomb and all withdrew. Oh, my buried Jesus, I kiss the stone that encloses Thee.

But sorrow turns to joy, for on the third day Thou didst rise again. I beseech Thee, by Thy resurrection, make me rise glorious with Thee at the last day, to be always united with Thee in heaven, to praise Thee and love Thee forever.

I love Thee, and I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Eleventh and Twelfth Stations: Meditations and Prayers

ELEVENTH STATION: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
(Psalm 22:17-18, Zechariah 12:10, Luke 23:33)

Consider that Jesus, after being thrown on the cross, extended His hands, and offered to His eternal Father the sacrifice of His life for our salvation. These barbarians fastened Him with nails; and then, raising the cross, left Him to die with anguish on this infamous gibbet.

My Jesus, loaded with contempt, transfix my heart at Thy feet, that it may ever remain there to love Thee, and never quit Thee again.

I love Thee more than myself; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.

TWELFTH STATION: Jesus Dies on the Cross
(Luke 23:46, John 19:30, Philippians 2:8-9)

Consider how thy Jesus, after three hours of agony on the cross, consumed at length with anguish, abandons Himself to the weight of His body, bows His head, and dies.

O my dying Jesus, I kiss devoutly the cross on which Thou didst die for love of me. I have merited by my sins to die a miserable death, but Thy death is my hope. Ah, by the merits of Thy death, give me grace to die, embracing Thy feet and burning with love of Thee. I commit my soul into Thy hands.

I love Thee with my whole heart; I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.


Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself on my knees in Thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beg Thee to impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope, and charity, with true repentance for my sins, and a firm desire of amendment, while with deep affection and grief of soul I contemplate Thy five most precious Wounds, having before my eyes that which David spoke in prophecy: "They pierced My hands and My feet; they have numbered all My bones."