Sunday, December 27, 2009

Attack on the Holy Father

Following the scenes on Christmas Eve, Fr Z poses a good question here.

Should the sedia gestatoria be reinstituted?

Church under attack

Various news websites including the RTE are reporting that Longford Cathedral was gutted by fire in the early hours of Christmas Day.

Please God this is an accident and not some twisted "revenge" attack on the Irish Church.

St Michael pray for us.

Source: RTE

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Nativity of our Lord

Merry Christmas one and all

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Emmanuel

The last of the seven great Antiphons, O Emmanuel


O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
O Immanuel, you are our king and judge,
the One whom the peoples await and their Saviour.
O come and save us, Lord, our God.
Isaiah prophesied:

"The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and shall give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Immanuel means "God is with us".

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    O Rex Gentium

    The King of the Nations,  or O Rex Gentium, O Antiphon number 6.


    O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
    lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
    veni, et salva hominem,
    quem de limo formasti.
    O King whom all the peoples desire,
    you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
    O come and save man
    whom you made from clay.
    Isaiah tells us:

    "For there is a child been born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace." (Isaiah 9:5)

    "He will wield authority over the nations, and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war." Isaiah 2:4

        Monday, December 21, 2009

        New saints on the way

        There has been news over the weekend of progress along the road to sainthood of a number of people.

        Pope John Paul II has had his heroic virtues confirmed. No surprises there. However so has Pius XII. This is great news and a clear sign that the Church will not listen to the anti-Catholic bigots who sit and snipe about things of which they know nothing. The sad fact is that most of the snipers are "liberal" Catholics or ex-Catholics who have an axe to grind.

        Fr Jerzy Popiełuszko has had his martyrdom formally recognised and the decree of beatification has been confirmed. This is wonderful news, especially for the very many Poles in our community, so many of whose lives have been directly influenced by Fr Jerzy Popiełuszko.

        Father Jerzy

        O Oriens

        O Antiphon number 5, O Oriens or O Rising Sun (Sunrise)

        O Oriens,
        splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
        veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
        O Rising Sun,
        you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice.
        O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
        Isaiah tells us:

        "The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone." (Isaiah 9:2)

        Sunday, December 20, 2009

        O Clavis David

        The fourth of the O Antiphons, O Clavis David or O key of David


        O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
        qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
        claudis, et nemo aperit:
        veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
        sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
        O key of David and sceptre of Israel;
        what you open no one else can close again;
        what you close no one can open.
        O come to lead the captive from prison:
        free those those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

        Isaiah's prophesy says:

        "I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." Isaiah 22:22

        "His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore." Isaiah 9:7

        "...To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."Isaiah 42:7.

          Saturday, December 19, 2009

          We've waited long enough

          The new English translation of the Roman Missal has finally been passed by the American bishops.

          Even after all this time there are liturgical dinosaurs who are trying to hold up the implementation of the translation. Dinosaurs like Bishop Trautman who thinks words like "ineffable", "consubstantial" and "oblatgion" are TOOOO HAAAARD for normal people to understand.

          Then we have dinosaurs like Fr Ryan and America Magazine who want us "just wait" and are running a petition to that effect. How much longer should we wait? Another 35 years Father?

          Now we have a chance to respond. Please add your name to the petition "We've Waited Long Enough".

          Mission Impossible

          h/t James at Catholic and Loving It

          O Radix Jesse

          The third of the O Antiphons, O Radix Jesse or O stock of Jesse


          O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
          super quem continebunt reges os suum,
          quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
          veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
          O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations;
          kings fall silent before you
          whom the peoples acclaim.
          O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

          Isaiah says:

          "A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots." (Isaiah 11:1)


          "That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples. It will be sought by the nations and its home will be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10)
            Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of David's line and be born in David's city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1)

            Friday, December 18, 2009

            O Adonai

            The second of the O Antiphons, O Adonai

            O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
            qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
            et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
            veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

            O Adonai, and leader of Israel,
            you appeared to Moses in a burning bush
            and you gave him the law on Sinai.
            O come and save us with your mighty power.

            In Isaiah we read:

            "... but [He] judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land. His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked. Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips." (Isaiah 11:4-5)

            "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king and our saviour." (Isaiah 33:22)

            Thursday, December 17, 2009

            O Sapientia

            The first of the O Antiphons. O Sapientia or O Wisdom.

            In Latin:

            O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
            attingens a fine usque ad finem,
            fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
            veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
            In English:
            O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.
            You fill the universe and hold all things together
            in a strong yet gentle manner.
            O come to teach us the way of truth.

            In the prophecy of Isaiah we read:

            "On him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:2).

            This prophecy is especially significant read with the Gospel of St John chapter 1, where we read in verses 1 - 3 "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him."

            and in verse 14 "The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

            Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire

            Tuesday, December 15, 2009

            The O Antiphons

            On 17 December we enter the Octave before Christmas and we use, at Vespers, the seven "O Antiphons". Each day until 24 December has a different one of the seven O Antiphons preceding the Magnificat.

            Fr William Saunders at Catholic Education says

            The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

            The "O Antiphons" are important for two reasons. Firstly, each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah, and secondly each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah telling of the coming of the Messiah.

            I hope to post the O Antiphon of the day, in Latin and English, each day from 17 to 24 December. The Latin will be as per the Breviarium Romanum and the English as per the The Divine Office translation as approved for use in England (and most other English speaking countries bar the US). Quotations from scripture will be as appear in The Jerusalem Bible.

            Rorate Mass

            We have a very large Polish community where I live. Indeed, our own pastor is Polish. The Polish Church maintains a very old tradition of celebrating Rorate Masses during Advent.

            A Rorate Mass is so called because the Introit begins with the words "Rorate caeli desuper, et nubes pluant iustum..." (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One...) (Isaiah 45:8)

            The Mass itself is a votive Mass in honour of our Lady and is held before dawn. The church is in darkness with only the sanctuary lit by candlelight. There is also a statue of our Lady placed in the sanctuary, symbolising thatChrist, our Light, is coming into the world and that He, the Light, comes from Mary.

            The liturgy is wonderfully beautiful. It was a truly spiritually moving experience and reminded me, sadly, just how poor and bereft of beauty are our ordinary English Masses.

            Monday, December 14, 2009

            The Religion of Peace

            Thursday, December 10, 2009

            Food for thought

            Fr Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say has a really short, thoughtful post about being forced to pray in church (of all places!).

            Click HERE to pay him a visit.

            Tuesday, December 8, 2009

            Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

            8 December is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady.

            The Immaculate Conception is often confused with the Virgin Birth. Sadly this confusion extends to poorly formed Catholics, as well as to non-Catholics.

            For clarity, the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception without the stain of original sin of our Lady, Mary the Mother of God. In other words, it is Mary herself that had no original sin, unlike all other humans who have original sin.

            The Virgin Birth on the other hand refers, of course, to our Lord, Jesus Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary. To paraphrase the Creed - He became incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.

            The feast day is an important one for our family as it is the patronal feast day of the schools our children attend (FCJ, and Beaulieu Convent) and, more, Our Lady is the Joint-Principal Patron of our Diocese (Portsmouth).

            Thursday, December 3, 2009

            St Francis Xavier

            Today is the feast day of St Francis Xavier, the co-founder of the Jesuits and missionary in Goa, Japan, Borneo and others.

            St Francis Xavier was born in Javier, Navarre, Spain on 7 April 1506 and died on 3 December 1552 on Sangchuan Island in China. He has numerous patronages including Foreign Missions, The Apostleship of Prayer, missionaries generally, Propogation of the Faith and countless schools, universities and churches.

            As a PS: this is an attempt at a scheduled posting ie written in advance. If all goes right, it should appear at 1.13 am on 3 December!

            Wednesday, December 2, 2009

            Devil worship in the Forest of Dean

            George Pitcher is an Anglican vicar. He is also a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and he has the following article on his blog. You can see the original by clicking here.

            English satanic practices always make me smile. They conjure up images of very white, fat people dancing around clumsily in a wood. So when I read our story today that a vicar in the Forest of Dean is seeing signs of “dark forces”, I’m afraid I was reminded more of Ghostbusters than of The Omen.
            But the Rev Nick Bromfield, rector of Drybrook, Lydbrook and Ruardean, is taking it all very seriously: “It might sound medieval to talk about the relationship between good and evil, but there is no middle ground on this. People need to leave well alone.”
            Oh, c’mon, Rev Nick. We’re not talking about Old Nick here, are we? All that classical theistic Greek dualism, which gave us the battle between God and the Devil, with the great eschatological battle fought out at the Cross of Calvary? Are you mates with Mel Gibson?  Or perhaps you just didn’t like finding a sheep’s head impaled on a stake outside one of your churches?
            I agree that’s not very nice, least of all for the sheep, but are we still really talking about a Miltonesque battle for dominion between the powers of darkness and light? I don’t think so. Evil is the absence of the divine in humanity, made potent by the power of human imagination gone wrong. So I agree that humans obviously have a capacity for great evil. But because they are possessed by the Prince of Darkness? No. There’s only room for one deity here.
            Still, the Rev Nick may not be sensing a whiff of sulphur after all. In fact, he might not be into fallen angels at all. He might be taking the St Michael. Because he also says that it might be “our ‘friends’ from that sphere of activity sending a tribute because we are successful.”
            Oh, I see. Atheists. That makes much more sense. Prof Richard Dawkins has yet to send me a severed sheep’s head to the Telegraph’s offices, but it’s only a matter of time.

             This is entirely typical of "liberal" Christianity that denies the presence of evil. It's pretty much a believe what you want attitude and it's the reason the Anglican Communion finds themselves in the terrible mess they are in right now.

            This is how the Father of Lies works - he convinces people that he doesn't exist. Note the Reverend's comment that "There’s only room for one deity here". Just the response the Devil is looking for.

            And as for St Michael, well...

            Saint Michael the Archangel,
            defend us in battle;
            be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
            May God rebuke him, we humbly pray:
            and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
            by the power of God,
            thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
            who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

            ht  Fr Dwight

            Interesting (and rather sad) NY Times piece

            The original can be found by clicking here. The parts in bold are my emphasis.


            By KENNETH J. WOLFE

            Published: November 28, 2009

            WALKING into church 40 years ago on this first Sunday of Advent, many Roman Catholics might have wondered where they were. The priest not only spoke English rather than Latin, but he faced the congregation instead of the tabernacle; laymen took on duties previously reserved for priests; folk music filled the air. The great changes of Vatican II had hit home.

            All this was a radical break from the traditional Latin Mass, codified in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. For centuries, that Mass served as a structured sacrifice with directives, called “rubrics,” that were not optional. This is how it is done, said the book. As recently as 1947, Pope Pius XII had issued an encyclical on liturgy that scoffed at modernization; he said that the idea of changes to the traditional Latin Mass “pained” him “grievously.”

            Paradoxically, however, it was Pius himself who was largely responsible for the momentous changes of 1969. It was he who appointed the chief architect of the new Mass, Annibale Bugnini, to the Vatican’s liturgical commission in 1948.

            Bugnini was born in 1912 and ordained a Vincentian priest in 1936. Though Bugnini had barely a decade of parish work, Pius XII made him secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform. In the 1950s, Bugnini led a major revision of the liturgies of Holy Week. As a result, on Good Friday of 1955, congregations for the first time joined the priest in reciting the Pater Noster, and the priest faced the congregation for some of the liturgy.

            The next pope, John XXIII, named Bugnini secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of Vatican II, in which position he worked with Catholic clergymen and, surprisingly, some Protestant ministers on liturgical reforms. In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.

            Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, “We must strip from our ... Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.” (Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)

            How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.

            Bugnini fell from grace in the 1970s. Rumors spread in the Italian press that he was a Freemason, which if true would have merited excommunication. The Vatican never denied the claims, and in 1976 Bugnini, by then an archbishop, was exiled to a ceremonial post in Iran. He died, largely forgotten, in 1982.

            But his legacy lived on. Pope John Paul II continued the liberalizations of Mass, allowing females to serve in place of altar boys and to permit unordained men and women to distribute communion in the hands of standing recipients. Even conservative organizations like Opus Dei adopted the liberal liturgical reforms.

            But Bugnini may have finally met his match in Benedict XVI, a noted liturgist himself who is no fan of the past 40 years of change. Chanting Latin, wearing antique vestments and distributing communion only on the tongues (rather than into the hands) of kneeling Catholics, Benedict has slowly reversed the innovations of his predecessors. And the Latin Mass is back, at least on a limited basis, in places like Arlington, Va., where one in five parishes offer the old liturgy.

            Benedict understands that his younger priests and seminarians — most born after Vatican II — are helping lead a counterrevolution. They value the beauty of the solemn high Mass and its accompanying chant, incense and ceremony. Priests in cassocks and sisters in habits are again common; traditionalist societies like the Institute of Christ the King are expanding.

            At the beginning of this decade, Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote: “The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself.” He was right: 40 years of the new Mass have brought chaos and banality into the most visible and outward sign of the church. Benedict XVI wants a return to order and meaning. So, it seems, does the next generation of Catholics.

            Tuesday, December 1, 2009

            What's going on here?

            I'll leave you to figure out this one!