Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Let's pray for Michael's soul and for his friends and family....

We were born in 1982 the year of 'thriller', both danced and sang to his songs with our siblings!!
My brother Damian (RIP) used to write his own Michael Jackson lyrics as a young boy.
His songs have influenced so many.
May he finally be at peace.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

High Mass in Birmingham Parish

Even before the council it would be unusual for there to be a full Solemn High Mass in the ordinary parishes. It is with eager anticipation that I therefore draw your attention to this event on Thursday July 9th at 7pm! It will be the patronal feast of the church of St John Fisher in West Heath in the old calender and therefore a fitting occasion.

Please see my LMS blog for more details.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Cogitationes Cordis ejus in generatiónem:
ut éruat a morte ánimas eórum et alat eos in fame.

The thoughts of His Heart are to all generations: to deliver their souls from death and feed them in famine.

(Introit for today - Psalm 32: 11-19)

The Sacred heart is many things: It is an image, it is a feast, it is a popular devotion in Catholicism. But above all things, it is an indicator towards an important theological foundation of Christendom. In the encyclical Haurietis Aquas, Pope Pius XII asserts that;
It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.(Paragraph 2)

His predecessor, Pius XI, was even so bold as to say;
Is not a summary of all our religion and, moreover, a guide to a more perfect life contained in this one devotion? Indeed, it more easily leads our minds to know Christ the Lord intimately and more effectively turns our hearts to love Him more ardently and to imitate Him more perfectly. (Miserentissimus Redemptor)

Therefore it seems clear that this devotion is particularly relevant for thinking of our religion in this day and age. So what is this devotion all about?

The perfect way to visualise the basis of the devotion is through the Gospel accounts. St John records in his account of the Gospel (7:37-39);
on the last and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and let him drink that believeth in Me. As the Scripture saith: Out of his heart there shall flow rivers of living waters.' Now this He said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in Him.

This vision given by our Lord reaches its perfect fulfilment on the cross, where in the moments after His death the centurion pierces His side with a lance, sending forth a stream of blood and water. The symbolism behind this has been taken to reflect the waters of Baptism which cleanse our soul, and the blood of the new covenant given to us in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which instils in us divine Grace, uniting us to Christ's sacrifice and atonement. Through His pierced side, the Holy Spirit thus flowed upon His Church.

But let me take a step back. For the Sacred Heart this year has been instituted as the beginning of a year dedicated to the Priesthood. Pope Benedict has chosen the feast of the Sacred Heart, today, to inaugurate this year. That is why I have chosen the image above: Jesus arrayed in sacerdotal vestments thus symbolising His Divine Priesthood. This consists of Him being the perfect mediator between God and Man, since He is God made incarnate, in the flesh. By sharing in our humanity, Jesus shows us a perfect example of Divine Love. The ministry of the Priesthood is closely connected to this for a variety of reasons which I'm sure we will learn more about in this coming year. From my point of view, the way the Priest makes present the reality of Christ, calvary, the real presence of Our Saviour in the Mass, on the Altar. Furthermore, the Liturgy shows us an image of the Priest in our everyday lives: feeding us with Christ's Love in a tender and sober way, especially evident in the distribution of communion on our tongues like lambs in his flock.

In the image above, Christ is represented on the Cross, for it is here that he makes manifest his Divine Love in the most perfect way, recalling that His institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist began before the crucifixion during the Last Supper as part of one single act (see the way Mary Magdelene holds the precious Chalice at his feet). Christ is therefore crowned as King in heaven but also victim, the image of the suffering servant of Isaiah's prophecy, symbolised in St John's apocalypse by the lamb standing, as it were, slain.

Through His merits, which He has earned for us on the Cross, we partake in the Holy Trinity and become objects of a love which is constantly outpoured, ready to be received. As we are reminded in the classic image - his heart is burning with love for us, like the Just Father for his Prodigal Son. This love is without condition, and we cannot earn it. We can, obviously, partake by praising the Father for sending us such a gift. We resign our weakness and our failing to His Sacred Heart in confession. He urges us to reciprocate His love in this manner, but moreover by displaying His love in our own everyday lives. It all begins with Christ and His Sacred Heart.

Holy Father's Letter to Priests

VATICAN CITY, 18 JUN 2009 (VIS) - The Pope has sent a Letter to the priests of the world for the occasion of the Year for Priests, which has been called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney.

Dear Brother Priests,

On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 - a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy - I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide.

I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of St. John Mary also makes us think of Christ's pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

St. John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. "One need not say much to pray well" - the Cure explained to them - "We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to Him, let us rejoice in His sacred presence. That is the best prayer". And he would urge them: "Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from Him in order to live with Him. ... "Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!". This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that "it was not possible to find a finer example of worship. ... He gazed upon the Host with immense love". "All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass" - he would say - "since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God". He was convinced that the fervour of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass: "The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!". He was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice: "What a good thing it is for a priest each morning to offer himself to God in sacrifice!"

To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Cure of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to His Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: "In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world". Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Cure of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by Him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!

Benedict XVI.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's in a name?

I would like to link back to a good post on Joseph Shaw's blog about the vocabulary used for the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite. There are many people who react against the word 'traditional' for instance. The word 'tradition' is derived from the latin 'tradere' which means 'to hand down'. The best biblical precedent in the New Testament comes from St Paul, who uses this very same word in the Vulgate translation (1 Cor 15:3);
For I delivered unto you first of all, which I also received

The whole of this chapter is worth reading to grasp this aspect of Catholicism. Indeed, in this respect all Catholics should be 'traditional', in that the doctrine (the deposit of faith given by our Lord) has been handed down and preserved.

What most people acknowledge in various degrees is that in the latter half of the 20th century, there has been a widespread rupture in this process of 'handing down'. Nowhere is this more evident in the catechesis of Catholic doctrine. And visibly in most Catholic churches around the world, there has also been a rupture in the way Liturgy is conducted. These are the topics at the heart of those who are referred to as 'traditionalist', who adhere to the form of Mass which has been very much handed down, without artificial discontinuities.

On the other side of the coin there are 'liberal Catholics' who also acknowledge a discontinuity, but prefer a wholesale rejection of tradition. This will include doctrine and our public display of Catholic beliefs in the Mass.

So it would be nice if we all knew where we were, but when viewing the Catholic world as a whole, it can be a very confusing place where discord is rife! I think it would be far more easier to embrace the Faith of our forefathers, especially those who died in this country for their faith, rather than the modernists who would simply have the Church become 'updated' to the modern world, and eschew all notion of listening to the wisdom of the dead!

I suppose there is also another view that the Church is still in complete continuity. Perhaps the term would be 'neo-conservative' (ie conservative to the new state of affairs). This would probably be a group of Catholics who take an ultra-montanist view on papal infalliability and in my opinion leave the laity looking sadly deficient in intellectual stamina or a desire to progress at all. It must be a hard pressure on the Pope trying to please all these different groups, as well as the non-Catholics and secularists! Our prayers should always be with him, to discern the will of the Holy Spirit, and best safeguard the deposit of Faith, which is the best nourishment for his flock.

Update: A quote from Newman which has appeared on today's blog entry:
I allow, then, that the Church, certainly, does ‘insist,’ when she speaks dogmatically, nay or rather she more than insists, she obliges; she obliges us to an internal assent to that which she proposes to us … And I admit that she obliges us in a most forcible and effective manner, that is, by the penalty of forfeiting communion with her, if we refuse our internal assent to her word. We cannot be real Catholics, if we do not from our heart accept the matters which she puts forward as divine and true. This is plain.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Corpus Christi

Some photos of the latest High Mass at the Birmingham Oratory today can be found on my LMS blog. It was testament to the glory of Catholic liturgy for the greater glory of God, "then be the anthem clear and strong, thy fullest note, thy sweetest song, the very music of Thy breast" (St Thomas Aquinas, who wrote the Lauda Sion for this feast day, intended to more gloriously celebrate the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, just after the end of Paschaltide)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I'll Be Back

We're now back from an excellent holiday in sunny Devonshire coastline, hence the lack of recent posts. This month is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a devotion we are especially attached to. I hope to write more about this soon, especially since this time last year a Protestant pastor challenged me about what reparation to the sacred heart means. I was too preoccupied to answer this, and a little tired of Protestant rhetoric, so avoided it. But I must do so now in charity.

The title of this post fits in with the release of the fourth terminator movie, set in 2018. I love these movies, despite it all making more sense leaving the first film on its own! Anyway, it was incredibly enjoyable. There is even a computer generated mayor of California making an appearance (which was just as believable as the one in the flesh). The picture on the right is of T-X from the third(-rate) film, which I took at the Star Wars celebration in July 2007.