Tuesday 22 May 2012

A priest rejoices at the view beyond Vatican II

I was struck by this poignant and rather exhilarating comment from an anonymous priest, in response to a Rorate Caeli post:

For many years now priests and others have attempted always to prove their Church "street cred" by referring back to the documents of the Council, as if someone is looking over their shoulder at all times and requiring that they do so to prove their loyalty to the "company program". I have never felt so free as a priest now that I no longer use the Council as a wall in the past [,] the immense and beckoning vista beyond which I cannot see.
"I have never felt so free."  The writer is probably describing the experience of quite a number of priests, whose eyes are now being opened to the Church's great wealth of spiritual treasure.

Thursday 17 May 2012

An attractive proposition?

The Holy See Press Office's communique* on the subject of the Society of St Pius X concludes as follows:

“Regarding the positions taken by the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, their situations will have to be dealt with separately and singularly.”

How can it be otherwise? Perhaps the broadcast of the exchange of letters in the public domain was intended as a spoiler by a person or persons in the SSPX, as some have suggested. Whether it was or not, the fact that we all know about it is probably irrelevant. If the exchange had not been leaked, I cannot imagine that Bishop Fellay would have withheld from the CDF his fellow-bishops’ disagreement with important aspects of the reconciliation process.

I have only read Bishop Fellay’s reply to their letter, but its contents are enough to indicate that if the views he laments remain the same, it will surely not be exclusively up to those three whether they, as individuals, return to indisputable and visible unity in the Church. It will be for Rome to decide whether she regards them as an attractive proposition. They seem to be very different characters. All the more reason, then, for the CDF and indeed the Holy Father to weigh them very carefully, “separately and singularly”.

*Link:  http://www.vis.va/vissolr/index.php?vi=all&dl=5eb79266-fc2a-d4b5-5855-4fb39d6467dc&dl_t=text/xml&dl_a=y&ul=1&ev=1

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Gathering us in, soul by soul

This SSPX business is constantly in my mind at present, whether at the surface or just beneath it. The Holy Father has shown himself capable of taking astonishing initiatives, going beyond what was imagined: for example, in enabling the establishment of Anglican-use Ordinariates. I hope it may be so in this case.

If a split occurs in the wake of any proposal, it will not be neat, but messy. It will be rather like a bloodless version of the partition of a country, with people fleeing in one direction colliding with others who are fleeing in the opposite direction. We cannot know at this stage how many of each type there will be. I think there will be a good deal of pain.

Our dear Pope Benedict has a great ambition, it seems: to gather us in, as many of us as possible, of all spiritual shapes and sizes and colours, as long as we have a Catholic heart and Catholic faith; to ensure that we of the wild olive shoot are all securely grafted into the true olive where the Good Lord intended us to be. This, I think, is meant to include, quietly but most ambitiously of all, the branches which really belong to the olive but were once, long ago, broken off*. Institutions and groups are one thing, and important; but I believe that in the last resort we are meant to be gathered in as individuals, soul by soul.

* Romans 11: 17-24

Thursday 10 May 2012

Looking for H

Brilliant news: the author of that most erudite blog, Fr Hunwicke’s Liturgical Notes, is to be ordained deacon on 26th May. Like many of those who commented on Fr Ray Blake’s post, as soon as I saw the item from the Ordinariate, I looked most particularly for his name on the list.

May he, and all his brethren who are the latest candidates for ordination to the Catholic priesthood in the Ordinariate, be blessed with many joys. May they bear – indeed, continue to bear – wonderful fruit.

Sunday 6 May 2012

English Pensioner Frisked at Rome Airport

Intro: This new Blogger format is confusing me. I can't get it to accept paragraph breaks. I apologise for the unbroken block of text that follows. I will try to fathom it out for next time. We have just returned from a holiday in Rome. Not a pilgrimage, more of a general exploration of the city, and we enjoyed it very much. We stayed near the Vatican, and on the day of the weekly General Audience we walked over to St Peter’s Square at about the time when the Holy Father was due to appear. We watched at the back of the square while he was doing his tour of the passageways between the blocks of seating. He was only a small figure in the distance, but we probably had a better view of him than if we had been in the audience and surrounded by a forest of people standing on their chairs. It was fascinating to see this little figure dressed in white, visible only from the waist up, buzzing along quite quickly from right to left, then disappearing for a few seconds at the side, then suddenly reappearing and motoring along equally briskly from left to right. He sawed back and forth until everyone had had at least the theoretical opportunity of seeing him. That was our only sighting of him during the holiday. On the Sunday we could not get into St Peter’s basilica, and had to be satisfied with participating in the Mass from the square. It was an ordination Mass, as on our last visit three years ago, but on that earlier occasion we had been able to go inside. Rome seemed much more crowded this time. Considering the world’s economic woes we had expected the place to be a good deal quieter. Our plan for the holiday was to look at some of Rome’s buildings, and generally to get the feel of the landscape of the city. I now feel a lot more confident about exploring it on foot. For me there was also a personal, religious dimension to our visit. Other Catholic bloggers have written far more knowledgeably and effectively than I could have done, on the recent intensification of the effort to re-establish the Society of St Pius X clearly and visibly within the Church. I made a private commitment to stop at any churches or basilicas we visited or passed, to say a heartfelt prayer for the intention of this major restoration. In fact we passed hardly any churches – at least, open ones – during the course of our wanderings. Sant’Agnese in Agone; Santa Maria Maggiore; San Paolo fuori le Mura; and there may have been one or two others. I think this was the first time I had ever prayed to St Paul. We both liked his basilica very much; lovely in itself, and set behind a charming courtyard garden; green and tranquil in its remoteness from the bustle of the centre. EasyJet used to fly to and from Ciampino, which we now think of nostalgically as a friendly little airport compared with the exhausting maze of Fiumicino. This was our first experience of it, and we will have to steel ourselves if we ever go there again. Our experience of the security area felt rather frantic: I think we used three or four trays, because they kept being whisked away on the conveyor belt before we could sort ourselves out with watches and mobile phones and jackets and so on. Talking of steeling ourselves: Dear Husband has metal implants, which always set the alarm off. In addition, since our last flight I have acquired some metal screws in one of my feet. I had already looked up the Italian for screws, and warned the security man about them, but he looked at me blankly. My appalling accent? A likely story? I will never know. I went through the frame, and off went the alarm. A young female security officer stood in front of me, with her arms held out wide, and her hands encased – worryingly – in latex gloves. Having become rather confused by then, I assumed at first she was directing me onward, and went to step to the side of her; but she very politely forestalled me, and waggled her hands, at which I got the message. I stood there very calmly while she did the patting-down routine. Could have been worse. On reflection, I think she must have had a quota of certain more or less shifty types to frisk; I suppose I came into the category of “Deceptively harmless-looking old Englishwoman who is Probably Not What She Seems”. Dear Husband said afterwards that our progress through Security reminded him of the fugitive Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn in the film High Anxiety, pretending to be an elderly Jewish couple going through airport security very, very noisily, on the reasonable ground that the most effective disguise is to be as flamboyant as possible. We’re not really terrorists. I thought I’d better say that.