Saturday 19 February 2011

Summorum Pontificum: Milanese Seminarians Speak Out

Much to my frustration, a nasty spell of bronchitis has prevented me from going to the Mass and study day for the new Mass translation publicised in my previous post.

While needing to stay at home and rest, I have occupied some of my time in translating a very touching open letter from a number of seminarians in the Archdiocese of Milan, home of the Ambrosian rite which features in the latest disturbing rumours concerning the forthcoming Summorum Pontificum regulations.

The letter appears today in Messa in Latino, linked here. The comments that follow it - which I have not translated - start with a criticism of the seminarians' anonymity. Others consider the criticism to be unreasonable given the pressures under which they labour.

I think the letter is very inspiring. Here it is:

"Most Blessed Father, Dear Readers,

We desire the Motu Proprio in Milan, and we want it in the Seminary too, where, in contrast, we are given protestantising liturgies in the “BOSE” style.

Holy Father, Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, all the faithful, come and see how they celebrate in the Seminary of Milan, the liturgical furnishings of our chapel, the so-called statue of Our Lady (in a state of undress, seated before the Tabernacle in a sensual pose!). Please be aware of it. We well understand that times change, that history changes, but the hearts of the people need eternal answers; they need a Truth that is always the same: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Why, as Catholics and as seminarians, can we not be formed in the knowledge of the two-thousand-year Tradition of the Church? We are not asking for the old rite to be imposed. We accept that it should remain as the extraordinary form. But why can we not study it officially, and celebrate and pray it occasionally, rather than doing so secretly, clandestinely, without the knowledge of the Rector and the spiritual Father, at night, in our rooms, as though it were an act of disobedience to the Church?

Instead, however, there is imposed a creative liturgical sensibility invented by the community of Bose, which is not our vocation, and is not that for which we chose to follow the Lord in the Catholic Church. We don’t want to be priests in order to live in the Bose style or to celebrate syncretistic rites. Those who have that sensibility are quite free to go to Bose.

We want to be able to chant the Tantum Ergo in Latin (which is against the rules!), and not only the canons of Taizé in English or in Spanish.

Is it possible that a person who thinks like this must live in hiding, keeping silent and pretending that all is well?

What evil is there, we ask, in wanting to be Catholics of the third millennium, evangelizers of our time, and at the same time to be able to pray as the priests and laity of the CATHOLIC Church of Milan have always prayed?

We confirm that we do not want to be absolutist, we do not want an absolute return to the Vetus Ordo rite, but we want real, authentic, non-ideological respect, towards the Church, Her history, Her Tradition, Her spiritual riches which can truly nourish a soul that wants to conform itself to Christ the Priest.

Our thanks go to all of you who keep us in your prayers; those who, like us, seek to follow the Lord, in the furrow of His Church, with our difficulties and our limitations, but illuminated by the splendid grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is our wish that this humble appeal of ours may reach the heart of those who love the Church and who wish to serve the brethren in the things that relate to God.

Saints Ambrose and Charles, intercede for us.

In Jesus and Mary,

Some Seminarians of Seveso
(Metropolitan Archdiocese of Milan)"

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Study day for new Mass translation, Clifton diocese, 19th February

I mentioned in an earlier post that the English diocese of Clifton - covering the counties of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset - has been rather energetic in its preparations for the introduction of the New Translation of the Mass in September this year.

The series of presentations continues this coming Saturday, 19th February, and this time it is the turn of Cheltenham, at Sacred Hearts Church, Moorend Road, Charlton Kings, GL53 9AU. The day begins with Holy Mass at 10.30, using the new translation, which will be followed by a study session. The event closes at 3.30. Those attending are advised to bring a packed lunch.

On the Friday evening, from 7.30 to 8.30, there will be singing practice for the new parts of the Mass, in readiness for Saturday.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Another strange case

Following my post yesterday, I’d like to record another memory. It concerns Freemasonry, about which Fathers Blake and Zuhlsdorf blogged early in January. Well, it's not really about Masonry as such; it's more about what was going on in the Church in the years following Vatican II.

As I recall (and I hope you will make allowances for some vagueness), exactly the same process occurred in regard to the question of Freemasonry, as had happened some years earlier regarding women’s headcoverings. Something was reported, and it appeared to have come from Rome, the gist of which was that British Catholics were now free to join the Masons
a) because British Masonry was much nicer than the Continental variety, which was very anti-Catholic and still forbidden, and
b) provided that there was no danger that an individual’s faith might suffer by joining.

I don’t know the figures, but I would guess that as a consequence of this apparent relaxation quite a number of Catholic men very soon became members of their local Lodges, and those who were already members now felt more at ease in their consciences.

And then lo! In no time at all, once again there came the cry: “As you were!” Britain is not an exception; you may not join the Masons.

It would surely be impossible to know how many British Catholic Masons obeyed the Church and gave up their membership following this shambles; how many have joined the Masons since then; and, and, most importantly, what effect it has had on their orthodoxy. In some cases they would have been exasperated by this apparent flip-flop, rather like the women with their headcoverings, and resolved to make up their own minds on the matter. But I have the impression that the majority of Catholics in this country, from that time on, only remember the (illusory) relaxation, and take it as read that, in this country at least, Catholics can be Freemasons.

Incidentally, it was at about this time, as I seem to remember, that I first began to hear the comment that this or that pronouncement from Rome “doesn’t apply here.”

Saturday 12 February 2011

The strange case of the disappearing headcoverings

In his recent post on the subject, The Catholic Knight reproduced this cutting from The Atlanta Journal, dated some time in 1969. Father Z (here and here) and others have also dealt with the consequences of that strange incident.

I can remember it quite well. At the church I attended in Liverpool, as soon as we women heard the message that we no longer had to cover our heads, off came the hats, scarves and mantillas. The following Sunday, hardly any of the women were covering their heads.

Almost immediately, or so it seems at this distance in time, the word came out: As you were! The law has not changed: women must continue to cover their heads in church. As I recall, it was even announced from the pulpit.

And the majority of us did not comply. I think there was a general – if mainly unspoken – emotional response: This is ridiculous. First you don’t need to wear them, and then you do. It’s just not important. I’ll decide. That was my own decision too. But do you know, I felt just a little bit uneasy about it at the time. There was a niggling voice of conscience.

But gradually the new way became the generally accepted custom. And the requirement was eventually dropped, as a de jure recognition of the de facto practice.

I find great joy these days in covering my head when I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form. But at my own parish church, I have a real reluctance. For the usual reasons, I suppose: sticking out like a sore thumb, holier-than-thou, and all that. I don’t really know the answer, except more courage; though it’s ridiculous to feel that one needs courage to do something that was completely natural only a few decades ago. I think we would have to be prepared to counter any criticisms with good, positive reasons. An expression of unity with Catholic women in other places and in other times, perhaps.

It would be rather wonderful if the Holy Father, or the competent body in Rome, were to recognise an indulgenced Sacramental, along these lines: that a woman or girl who covers her head before the Blessed Sacrament is empowered to offer this action to obtain a partial indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

The growth of the Ordinariate movement

Fr Hugh, the vocation director of the Benedictines at Douai Abbey in Berkshire, has a blog called Dominus Mihi Adjutor. He has just published this interesting map of the spread of the Ordinariate movement up to now, in various parts of the world. You will notice that the display does not yet include the proposed Australian/Japanese Ordinariate.

I thought you might also like to see this link to a map of southern England and Wales, which can be found on the Ordinariate Portal, showing the locations of the exploratory Ordinariate groups which have been set up so far in Great Britain.

God bless them all, both groups and individuals, as they make their spiritual journeys.