Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Baronius Books

Baronius Press have just made the following press release. We are all still in eager anticipation for their traditional breviary... but until then, here are a few treats which could end up in your christmas stocking, assuming you're not a puritan:

by Father Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
$54.95 / £39.95

One of the best and most loved resources for meditative prayer – newly published by Baronius Press in a beautiful leather bound edition! This book is designed to assist the faithful in the quest for intimate union with God through the practice of meditating on holy truths. These Carmelite meditations are easy to fit into even the busiest schedule, giving you food for thought and inspiration every day of the liturgical year.

by Saint Louis-Marie De Montfort
$21.95 / £12.95

A new leather hard bound edition of this ever popular text that continues to inspire all who read it. Readers will understand that a true devotion to Mary is indeed a straight and sure path to a deeper understanding and relationship with Christ.

$89.95 / £59.95

Those familiar with the Douay-Rheims Bible will know that it is one of the most beautiful and accurate Bible translations available today – a word for word translation of the Clementine Vulgate.

Now, we have combined the traditional English Catholic translation with the Clementine Vulgate. The two venerable texts are presented side by side enabling the reader to see exactly where the vernacular translation came from. Even those with limited Latin skills will be able to follow along, using the Douay-Rheims translation as an aid. You’ll see how the Douay-Rheims is a literal translation of the classic Vulgate.

Bound in leather with ornate gold blocked cover and spine. Gilded page edges, head and tail bands and two satin ribbons.

Available to pre-order now. Estimated shipping date – 8th December for USA, Canada and Rest of the World, January 2009 for UK & Europe.

I've bought a couple of things from Baronius before and was very happy with the excellent quality of the binding and typing. If I had a button on my sidebar to make it possible, I would beg the general public to buy me every title in their catalogue!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

R.I.P. Fr Higham

It is with sadness that I learn of the death of Fr David Anthony Higham this weekend. I have known him since attending his parish of St Mary's at Harvington Hall in Worcestershire, where he said a traditional Latin Mass every month. Earlier this year he suffered a stroke and has since been recovering at Oulton Abbey in retirement.

Fr Higham was parish priest at Harvington Hall from 1999 till 2008. He wrote the book "The Priests and People of Harvington" published in 2006, which has been an excellent contribution to the history of this important recusant area. I have written a little about Harvington Hall before, but want to reflect today on his life, mainly in his own words, and recount some of the contributions Fr Higham made to the parish.

David Higham was educated by the Dominicans at Blackfriars, Laxton, and entered the Benedictine Order at Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire in 1944. He was subsequently sent with other monks to repopulate St Michael's Abbey at Farnborough in Hampshire. He was ordained priest in 1954, and eventually appointed superior at Farnborough. In 1980, when the monastery achieved autonomy, he was elected conventual prior. For three years Dom Higham also combined his duties with that of parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in nearby Cove.

Ten years later, for reasons Fr Higham was always quite reserved about, he relinquished his office of prior and returned to the Midlands to become chaplain to the Benedictine nuns at Oulton near Stone in Staffordshire (It was here that Fr Higham returned to be nursed in his final months). Around this time he was briefly the superior of a small traditional monastic community at Alton, which included fellow monk Dom Andrew Southwell.

Fr Higham joined the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1997, and after serving parishes in Staffordshire was assigned to the metropolitan Cathedral of St Chad's in the city centre of Birmingham. It was therefore with pleasure that Fr Higham was then reassigned in 1999 to his beloved countryside of Worcestershire and the little parish of Harvington.

Fr Higham soon set about restoring the Georgian-style priest's house adjoining the church of St Mary's, and investigating the archives. For company he shared the house with a border collie and two Burmese cats, who Fr Higham commented managed to live together more peacefully than some humans he has known! It was with sadness that his dog died in 2007, and Fr Higham hoped to be soon buried in the same grave in the garden of the Priest's House.

Fr Higham will leave a grand legacy behind him at the parish of Harvington, the shrine of St John Wall: in 2003 the roof and walls were repaired and refurbished to include angelic paintings on each ceiling overlooking the sanctuary (see pictures below). Other refurbishments include improved fittings for the reredos and tabernacle, a brass eagle lectern (where I will always remember Fr Higham's beautiful, intelligent and powerful sermons), new stained glass windows, new oak seating, and new paving outside the porch. Of note is also a sculpture of St John Wall by Gabrielle Mercer.

Fr Higham celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination in 2004. I hope that we may pray fervently and confidently upon his death, and dedicate his life's work back to God, whom he laboured so tirelessly for.

Subveníte Sancti Dei, occúrrite Angeli Dómine, Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altísimi.

Suscípiat te Christus, qui vocávit te, et in sinum Abrahæ Angeli dedúcant te. Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altíssimi.

Come to his assistance, all ye Saints of God: meet him, all ye Angels of God: receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most high.
May Christ receive thee, who hath called thee, and may the Angels conduct thee to Abraham’s bosom. Receiving his soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reginald Cardinal Pole

Fr Anton Guziel preaching about Cardinal Pole following the Mass

Last night the Birmingham Oratory, along with several other churches around the country including Magdalen College in Oxford, hosted a Traditional Latin Requiem Mass on the 450th anniversary of Cardinal Pole's death. The following is an extract promoting Michael Hutchings new book, "The Last Archbishop of Canterbury" (click here to order from Southwell books) Also available directly from St Joan Press for £15.49 and on sale at St Pauls Bookshops in London, Birmingham, Leeds and York.

Reginald Cardinal Pole was the son of Sir Richard Pole, a cousin of Henry VIII, and Margaret Plantagenet, Countess of Salisbury. He was a potential claimant to the throne. In 1549 Ple narrowly missed election as Pope.

Studying at Magdalen College Oxford and the Carthusian monastery at Sheen, Pole was widely respected for his scholarship. He left England for Padua to study, angering Henry by his opposition to the 'divorce'. Pole's continued intrasigent opposition to Henry led to the execution of his mother, Blessed Margaret Pole (pictured left), at Tower Hill in 1541, having been held prisoner at Cowdray near Midhurst.

After twenty-three years in Italy, Pole returned to England as Papal Legate in order to absolve England from schism. This occured on 30 November 1554, a day later decreed to be held in thanksgiving in perpetuo. Pole instituted a Synod for the restoration and reform of the Church in England. He prepared the ground for the establishment of seminaries, thereby anticipating Trent.

His hopes for England were cut short by the sudden death of Queen Mary. His own death occured hours later, on 17 November 1558. He was the last Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury.

I served at our humble Missa Cantata and with Father Anton Guziel's permission took a couple of photos of the Mass. I was not bold enough to hold up the camera, so this is actually taken 'blind' at hip level! It is the incensing of the altar at the offertory. I was asked by the organisers of this nation-wide commemoration to try and take some snaps, and I hope these efforts will be useful!

For more on Cardinal Pole see Fr Nicholas Schofield's complete sermon.

Let us pray:

O God, who didst raise Thy servant Reginald Cardinal Pole to the dignity of bishop and cardinal in the apostolic priesthood; grant, we beseech Thee, that he may be joined in fellowship with Thine apostles forever more. Through Christ our Lord,


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sung Requiem at Birmingham Oratory

BUMP - For Your Attention!

Reginald Cardinal Pole was the last Archbishop of Canterbury, dying on 17th November 1558 (the same day as Queen Mary). It will therefore be the 450th anniversary of his death this month.

Sung Requiem Extraordinary Form
Monday, 17th November 2008 at 7.30pm

The Birmingham Oratory will be saying a Missa Cantata in the Traditional Roman Rite for the repose of his soul (although I'm sure he's a martyr and will have gone straight to heaven!)

P.S. I have been gracefully informed that although he died within hours of Queen Mary, it was to influenza and not to the axe. Therefore - Not a martyr!

Other Masses on this day around the country are:

St Wilfrid's Chapel, Brompton Oratory, London (Low Mass, 12 noon)
Side Chapel, Fisher House, Cambridge (Low Mass, 6pm)
Corpus Christi Church, Covent Garden, London (Missa Cantata, 7pm)

Saturday November 29th - St Andrew's Chapel, Westminster Cathedral (Low Mass, 4.30pm)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Newman's Last Repose

Although the grave of Newman simply revealed the mystery of death, and no earthly relics; it did contain some precious artifacts. The cross around Newman's neck still maintains its strong and reassuring form. Around his neck in life, death and beyond.

This is one of the few relics we have of the venerable Cardinal, as well as some locks of hair and a speck of blood. All contained in a simple little reliquary resting in the chapel of St Charles Borromeo in the Birmingham Oratory. It marks a perfect symmetry with the chapel on the other side of the Sanctuary - that of St Philip Neri's shrine modeled on the Roman Oratory. Newman would be humbled and honoured to be placed in a place of such significance.

It may seem to many that the Cause for Newman's beatification is a done deal. But I think that it still requires fervent prayer. This is a time when all sorts of powers and influences have oozed out of the woodwork, to combat such a noble process. We must pray. Pray that such forces as Newman eloquently described in his great poem, do not cloud the way:

The mind bold And independent, The purpose free, So we are told, Must not think To have the ascendant What's a saint? One whose breath Doth the air taint Before his death; A bundle of bones, Which fools adore, Ha! ha! When life is o'er; Which rattle and stink, E'en in the flesh. We cry his pardon! No flesh hath he; Ha! ha! For it hath died, 'Tis crucified Day by day, Afresh, afresh, Ha! ha! That holy clay, Ha! ha! This gains guerdon, So priestlings prate, Ha! ha! Before the Judge, And pleads and atones For spite and grudge, And bigot mood, And envy and hate, And greed of blood.

(Demons, The Dream of Gerontius)

Recently published on the Cause Website are the following articles:

Translation of Remains of Cardinal Newman at his Birmingham Oratory (full account of the exciting few days written and with photos by Peter Jennings)

Full Text of sermon by Fr Paul Chavasse (of the November 2nd Mass for translation of Newman's Remains) - Link Downloads Word Document

Commemorative Mass Booklet (from November 2nd Mass) - .pdf file (requires Adobe Reader or browser plug-in)

Exorcizo Te

I have come across an interesting new drama production just broadcast on the BBC. It is called Apparitions and you can watch it on BBC iPlayer (but this may only be for a limited period.) Before this 2-part had even been televised, there were already plans for a whole series.

I have only watched part of the first episode so far, but it seems very promising. I can't say how accurate it is with regards to the subject of demonic possession, but the performances are certainly compelling, and it doesn't take a liberal stance as far as I have seen. The central character is Father Jacob, a Catholic priest who works for the Cause for the Canonisation of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (although at one point his nun colleague suggests he 'shelve Mother Teresa' and work on Newman instead!)

I think it is interesting that the BBC has chosen to commission this sort of thing. I hope that an interest in this area will encourage people who watch this to find out more about the Catholic Faith. It is quite well known that exorcists still use the old rite of exorcism because the new one doesn't work! These things really are important.

But the first kind of exorcism there is for someone is Baptism, which in the old rite (still freely in use today) contains prayers specifically designed to exorcise the soul of the catechumen and prepare it for the abundant grace of Baptism, or new birth in Christ.

A good verse was quoted by the character of Father Jacob:

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through places without water, seeking rest; and not finding, he saith: "I will return into my house whence I came out." And when he is come, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then he goeth and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and entering in they dwell there. And the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.
St Luke 11:24-26

He used this verse to show that Baptism without faith is efficacious, but the soul will easily be susceptible to further attack by worse forces if Christ is not rooted there.

The topic of demonic possession has already been the popular subject of movies. The 1973 film The Exorcist receives criticism, and rightly, for glorifying the whole issue and making it more horrific and scary than it really is. This film has many saving graces in my opinion. The central story is not really about the little girl possessed (which has lost its sting now due to countless parodies) but rather the young priest who is having a crisis in faith. Notice that he says Mass for the first time and understands it, having been exposed to the horrors of evil.

A better film is the Exorcism of Emily Rose, which portrays the real life story of Anneliese Michel, who was a 16 year old German girl who became possessed in 1968. Although the film is dramatised, there are interesting aspects of the true story that deserve note. Firstly there is controversy surrounding whether the girl was, in fact, possessed at all; the parents and exorcists were charged with negligence after the girl died following a protracted illness with pneumonia and starvation. But also there is a supernatural character quite extraordinary: the fact that the girl was previously devout in her faith, and was comforted during her trials by apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was allegedly given the option of divine deliverance, but opted for her special 'mission' of showing the world the power of evil.

Nowadays the Devil's greatest triumph is that noone believes in him (not even many so-called Christians). Secondly, that many people do not even believe in Sin, but that in the relativistic culture of ours, values are fleeting and built on sand. Perhaps if people are faced with the tangible power of evil, they will come to realise the subtle influence that the devil has over our lives. When I came to conversion, I realised that most of my mental block towards the Faith was related to this, rather than a sort of 'enlightened reasoning' which I thought I had.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Remember it's Sunday

Unfortunately I haven't been well today and subsequently missed Mass. But I wanted to put a couple of pictures up from my archive: Top takes us to Rome for today's feast, the dedication of the Lateran Basilica (which is the 'Cathedral of Rome'), and what I'm sure you'll agree is a most striking facade... and the smaller ones above take us back to Birmingham for Remembrance Sunday (pictured is the memorial in Centenary Square).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Newman Mass on EWTN

The Mass I attended on Sunday morning, for the translation of the remains of Cardinal Newman's remains, was televised live. Wendy and Maddy watched at home on the projector; and were fortunate to hear commentary by Peter Jennings and avoided experiencing nearly an hour of high pitch feedback coming from the speakers (most of the congregation were above a certain age and were oblivious). In any case, the squeeling was fixed sometime during the gloria and my sanity was spared.

Besides that it was a lovely Mass. This sort of thing should demonstrate the very best possible from the modern Roman Rite, and Fr Guy Nicholls is to be commended for his hard work in this regard. Of particular note was the 7th candlestick (which the altar at the Oratory isn't really designed for, it has to be said!) and the unbleached candles around the catafalque, indicating Newman is not yet blessed! Everything else was pretty much standard Oratory performance, except perhaps the large amount of con-celebrants present in choir for this special occasion.

If anyone is aware of a way to view this in retrospect, I'd be grateful. I would love to purchase such a production, and perhaps put it alongside the DVD of Cardinal Hoyos' Mass in Westminster Cathedral!

Scott Hahn Conference

On Saturday we were pleased to spend the day in Oxford and catch the afternoon session of the conference organised by Second Spring, entitled Scripture and Liturgy in the Theology of Pope Benedict XVI. Clearly our Holy Father is such an accomplished theologian that it pays dividends for other theologians to analyse his writings more closely!

The theme of the day seemed to be that, in these 'new movement' times of the Church, the liturgical movement and the scriptural movement should cross paths. It was fascinating hearing Adrian Walker (who translated the Pope's novel Jesus of Nazareth) discuss the way we should read scripture in a 'spiritual way'. Funnily enough, I had come to a similar conclusion just by seeing the way the old Douay Rheims bible was annotated and edited. He focused particularly on a section of the Pope's book about the Johannine image of water, in chapter 8.

Likewise, I'm afraid I only began to fully appreciate the place of scripture in the life of the Church after being given a St Andrew's Daily Missal (published in 1954) which shows how the liturgy is crafted lovingly using scripture throughout. The old form of Mass also enables me to reflect and meditate on scripture, especially when the Mass is sung, as the Psalms were intended. I am not convinced that the Novus Ordo intention of bombarding the Catholic faithful with as much scripture as possible has really payed dividends.

Scott Hahn presented a paper he had written entitled Eucharistic Kingdom and the World as a Temple which he was as enthusiastic about as ever! I could not hope to recount everything he said, but needless to say he painted a beautiful image of heavenly worship throughout scripture, and how this is relevant to the Mass. Hearing his description of how we are partaking with the altar in heaven, where the Lamb is worshipped, was just awe-inspiring. It is enough to make me thirst all the more for Liturgy which is conducted with this vision in mind. The Novus Ordo can be performed in a variety of ways, and a lot is down to interpretation. I am always confident and secure in the knowledge that Mass celebrated according to the strict rubrics of the 1962 missal will be reverent, prayerful, and will reflect the heavenly reality in a way that has been accomplished through centuries of development.

There were a few people in the audience who enthusiastically asked questions, mainly I think about the liturgy, and I think the old Rite was more or less dismissed from serious discussion. However, we did not stay for the remainder of the discussion because we had a baby to rescue from the torrential rain outside! Also we did not hear Dom Aidan Nichols talk, which I'm sure would have been peppered with references to traditional liturgy.

The highlight of the day was of course meeting Dr Scott Hahn. We have enthusiatically followed his writings since 2004 when Wendy was an Anglican, and picked up a title called "Hail, Holy Queen". Reading and listening to his conversion story also had a profound impact upon us, and we went on to read the book Rome Sweet Home co-authored by his wife.

We took the opportunity to get our latest book, Reasons to Believe, signed by Dr Hahn. We were fortunate in that we were sitting very near him during his talk, and when the tea break came we were the first to approach him (before a long line developed behind us)! Of note was his happy and friendly demeanour, and the way he talked passionately to each and every person who mercilessly requested an autograph! He was very excited to hear about yesterday's Mass for the translation of Cardinal Newman's relics. A fellow convert; Hahn is a big fan of Newman!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints

This great multitude,
which no man could number
is gathered into this one day's commemoration,
the goodly fellowship of Prophets,
the noble army of Martyrs,
the Children of the Holy Church Universal,
who have rested from their labours.

- John Henry Cardinal Newman
(Parochial and Plain Sermons Vol 2, no 32)