Monday 30 November 2009

Extraordinary Form High Mass in Evesham, 8th December

At the EF Mass last Thursday, Father announced that there is to be a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, at 7pm on Tuesday 8th December, in Evesham. He will be the sub-deacon.

Church: St Mary & St Egwin, High Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 4EJ (useful if you have sat-nav)

The parish website tells a delightful story, dating from the early 8th century, about St Egwin and his devout swineherd, Eoves. Eoves saw a vision of Our Lady. He told Bishop Egwin, and took him to the place, where Egwin himself saw the vision. It was Bishop Egwin who, under this inspiration, built a church and an abbey there.

While Egwin became a canonised saint, Eoves is not forgotten, because the town's former name was changed to Evesham to commemorate him.

The Church of St Mary and St Egwin was built in 1911 and designed in the Gothic style by Pugin & Pugin. I have not been inside the church, but externally it looks very handsome. Low Mass is regularly offered there in the Extraordinary Form, at 7pm every Tuesday.

Friday 27 November 2009

Clifton Diocese: Is Communion available again on the tongue?

There have been a couple of developments regarding the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue. Fr Blake has published this letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which he found on the Rorate Caeli blog. The letter was written in reply to an enquiry by a British lay Catholic. In short, Rome has confirmed that, even during the present situation regarding swine flu, the faithful continue to have the right to receive on the tongue.

Yesterday evening I attended a regular Mass in the Extraordinary Form – technically a “private” Mass – and was very happy to find that the priest distributed Holy Communion on the tongue. I wondered if he had decided “Rome has spoken, so here goes!” But I have since learnt from Ttony, in a comment to my post of 11th October, How to restore Communion on the tongue in Clifton? that an Ad Clerum has just been issued by Bishop Lang of Clifton, lifting the restrictions.

Now, here is an interesting thing. I have read the text of the Bishop's message to all parishes, dated 25th November, available on the diocesan website. I am wondering if this is the Ad Clerum itself, or an exact reproduction of the text; and I ask this for a particular reason.

The Bishop's earlier message on 24th July (accessible via a link from the above), in which he originally called for the restrictions, said:

“It is now sensible for all churches in our diocese to offer communion under one form, and in the hand.”

“The Sign of Peace at this time should be given by a smile, a slight bow or some other appropriate gesture, but not by the shaking of hands.”
The Bishop's latest message, on 25th November, is introduced with these words:

“In the past months due to the swine flu pandemic, it has been recommended that Holy Communion be received under one form and the Sign of Peace should be given by a smile, a slight bow or some other appropriate gesture, but not by the shaking of hands."

The earlier reference to Communion “in the hand” is not repeated here.

Bishop Lang then continues:

“ … I think we can amend the guidelines and return to the practice of receiving Holy Communion under both kinds and exchanging the Sign of Peace with a handshake or other suitable ways."
No reference is made to the method of receiving the Host.

I have read the latest message with care, and cannot see anything about the restoration of the option of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. This is my reason for wondering whether this text is the same as that of the Ad Clerum.

It may be that the Bishop has spoken or written to his priests separately on this matter. I do not know. But it may not make any difference. Even if they are aware that Rome has ruled we can receive on the tongue, even if they know that this is a matter for Rome and not for the Bishops, Bishop Lang's message gives the local clergy the authority to decide whether to relax his own restrictions or to keep them in place. Here is the relevant passage:

“I believe that parish priests are best placed to know when it would be prudent to follow the previous guidelines and reintroduce them if necessary.”

Will the clergy distinguish between the Bishop's guidance and that of Rome? When we go to Mass this weekend, will we find there has been no change at all; or any combination of these things; or that everything is restored apart from Communion on the tongue? We shall see.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

The Shock of the Gospel

During my years of reading the Bible, day by day, in small segments, there have been occasions when something has struck me so forcefully that the implications of it have changed me.

There is one passage in particular, the import of which first sank in many years ago. I have never forgotten it: the words are constantly just below the surface of my mind, rising into my consciousness quite frequently, and inspiring each time the same sense of wonder.

The context is St John's Gospel, Chapter 3. I am sure you will recall that Nicodemus, the Pharisee and leading Jew whose devoted but secret discipleship led him eventually to bring myrrh and aloes for the Lord's burial, first visited Jesus by night, in the early days of His public ministry. They engaged in a marvellously scholarly discussion; in the Jerusalem Bible translation one can almost hear their voices.

And in the middle of their conversation, Our Blessed Lord says these words:

"No one has gone up to heaven
except the One Who came down from heaven,
the Son of Man Who is in heaven"

"Who is in heaven". He is with us upon the earth, and He says He is in heaven.

I find these words wonderful, just wonderful.

Monday 23 November 2009

Fr Sean Finnegan on Liberalism and the Ecumenical Movement

Here is a tremendous post, Whither Ecumenism?, by Fr Sean Finnegan, on his Valle Adurni blog. He considers the history of the ecumenical movement, the development of Anglo-Catholicism, and the rise of liberalism in religion, including its current manifestations both in Anglicanism and in the Catholic Church. Fascinating.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Constable Bill Barker, a good and faithful servant

In Matthew, Chapter 24, and in Luke, Chapter 12, we read of the servants who are carrying out the work their Master has given them, in readiness for His return. They are waiting expectantly for Him, so that they can open the door to Him as soon as He knocks. Happy the servants who are awake and busy about their work when He arrives. “I tell you solemnly, He will put on an apron, sit them down at table and wait on them”; He will place his conscientious servant “over everything He owns.”

Truly, we do not know the moment; none of us knows. Police Constable Bill Barker was married, and had four children. He died the day before his 45th birthday. He was doing his duty. He was standing on a bridge, in the town of Workington, in the north-west of England. The bridge was crumbling before the onslaught of the torrent of a river in flood. He was warning drivers and pedestrians to keep away from it. And suddenly it collapsed, and he was swept to his death. His Master had arrived, and had found him busy about his work. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Please pray for the repose of his soul, and for his widow and his children, in the shock and grief of their loss.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

The Vatican-SSPX talks are being filmed

How’s your Italian? There’s a very good blog called, which I like to visit to supplement my Italian studies. It has many fascinating articles. Today they have some interesting information about the talks between the Vatican and the SSPX. Here are some extracts:

The composition of the Lefebvrian delegation could change in future, to allow for participation by those with different areas of expertise.

The discussions are not in Latin. They appear to be in French and Italian; all those participating understand these languages, but since none is completely at home in one or other of the languages, they are provided with simultaneous translation.

The SSPX delegation is staying at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the cardinals have lodged for papal conclaves.

Since all the altars at the Domus are already booked for Masses, the SSPX’s Masses are celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica.

Lastly, and I think most interestingly, the proceedings are being filmed, so that the Holy Father can watch them.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The talented Mr England, on Purgatory

I urge you to read this wonderful post on Purgatory, written by Laurence England on his excellent blog That the bones You have crushed may thrill. It is splendid!