Tuesday 30 June 2009

"Private" EF Masses: Must they be kept secret?

A moving item from Ttony of The Muniment Room -
- about his experience of serving a private Mass in the Extraordinary Form. His posting deals mainly with the intense experience of these encounters with God; but his first paragraph has the following details: the priest "is not allowed to celebrate it publically"... "the Mass is not public or announced" ... "invitations are not a way of making these private Masses public or regular celebrations" ...

Oh, how that resonated! There are fewer priests, and fewer scheduled (that is, "public") Masses; therefore if a priest decides to offer in addition a "private" Mass in the EF, it is surely a bonus for the parish. There seems no reason at all why knowledge of these Masses should be kept from the faithful of the area.

I am aware of one such Mass. There is a steady congregation; but an item in the newsletter to inform the rest of the parish about the Mass's existence cannot be considered, it is said, without careful thought and consultation.

I am concerned that if "private" is being over-interpreted as "secret", there will be an under-reporting of the level of interest in the EF when the Bishops' reports are submitted to the Pope at the end of the first three years after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. It is essential, I think, that the Bishops include these "private" Masses in their reports; but will they do so?

Monday 29 June 2009

Vatican II and the SSPX: Discussions set to begin

Two linked problems of the greatest importance are, at long last, about to be tackled: the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, and the position of the Society of St Pius X in regard to it. The following recent articles have caught my attention: from Fr Finigan's blog -


- all of which is of great interest; and from the Rorate Caeli blog - http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/ - , the text of an interview with Fr Schmidberger of the SSPX, posted on June 25 and entitled "Important Interview". (There is probably a way to link directly to this, but I'm afraid don't know how to do that yet.)

In response to some quite no-holds-barred questions from the journalist, Fr Schmidberger provides straightforward information, among which is this:

KNA: What should the theological dialogue between the society and Rome regarding the council look like?

Schmidberger: As far as the external form goes, it could be both oral or written, but primarily it should be written. We have selected representatives from our side and Rome also has chosen its people. The discussions will consider: what is ambiguous in the council? What contradicts the traditional doctrine of the Church?

It looks as if things have come to the crunch. Facts must be faced about the state of the Church and the weakening of Her message since the Council. Let us hope that good things are achieved from this dialogue.

Thursday 25 June 2009

An Honour and a Responsibility

It is an honour and a responsibility to have been given the Catholic Faith of the Church that was founded by Christ on Peter the Rock.

The word “pride” in connection with the Church has always jarred with me. There are, of course, different kinds of pride. There is honest pride in one’s work, or the gentle sort of pride which is really a healthy self-respect, for example making the best of one’s appearance, or taking care of one’s home. But it is not uncommon for people to say they are “proud” of their religion, even when, to all outward appearances, they seem to share none of its beliefs and to obey none of its teachings.

Pride in one’s religion may be genuinely spiritual, or it may be more akin to pride in one’s town, or to the local football team. At its extreme, it can be ugly. I can remember, some decades ago, seeing a film of mutually hostile crowds at the height of the Northern Irish Troubles. The crowd on one side were hurling hymns at their adversaries, as though they were hurling bricks.

Pride has nothing to do with it. Faith is a gift from God. I do not deserve it. It is a share in the royal priesthood of the Kingdom of Heaven: how could I possibly deserve it? It has been freely given to me, on trust; and the Lord will expect much of those to whom much has been given. What an honour, and what a responsibility!