Tuesday, 30 September 2014

News update

A couple of days ago the Master attended a celebration of the 60th birthday of one of our members in Venice. A small group of other SSIM confreres were also present for what was a lovely occassion.

In other news, Liam Carpenter,  formerly a monk of Farnborough Abbey has recently joined the seminary at Oscott, to study for the priesthood for the Nottingham diocese. 

Deacon Stephen Morrison of the Norbertines in Chelmsford has informed us that, God willing,  he will be raised to the Sacred Priesthood at the hands of the Bishop of Brentwood in early December. 

Our Chaplain,  Fr Peter Lyness of the Diocese of Westminster has recently taken up a new appointment as Chaplain of St Edmunds College, Ware in Hertfordshire and Fr Neil Reynolds,  member of Chapter and priest of the same diocese has recently moved parish.

Let us continue to pray for one another!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Order of Premontre

Last week one of our members, Brother Stephen Morrison, o.praem. made his Solemn Profession as a Canon Regular of Premontre.  These Cannons follow the Rule of St Augustine and that of St Norbert their founder and for that reason they are also known as Norbertines.

The Master was present as Bro Stephen made his vows for life to God, in the presence of the Rt Revd Hugh Allen, o.praem. Prior of their Canonry in Chelmsford and members of the order from Rome, the Czech Republic and Belgium. At least three other members of SSIM were also present, one assisting in choir and another serving at the altar. S Justin, our great patron, also got a mention in the Litany of the Saints, which according to a Norbertine custom is always sung standing (unlike the norm in the Roman Rite, when it is usually sung kneeling).

Please pray for Br Stephen and all of the steadily growing community at Chelmsford. We wish him well as he continues his formation for the sacred priesthood. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

New Associate

The Master, assisted by the Chamberlain, today admitted a Priest and Canon Regular of Premontre as an Associate Member. The admission took place in the Generate of the Norbertine Order in Rome

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Baddesley Clinton

This Tudor House (with major Victorian additions), is in the care of the National Trust and lies to the South-east of Birmingham.

It was a fitting place to visit on St Justin's day as the house, seat of the Ferrers family, conceals no fewer than three priest holes crafted by Nicholas Owen.

The room which was converted into a Catholic Chapel in the 1890s, had been the bedroom where 8 Jesuit priests slept for over 3 years whilst stationed at the house and carrying out their secret sacramental duties during the great persecution.

The Chapel remains and contains a picture of Our Lady to which the then Bishop of Birmingham attached an indulgence of 40 days for the faithful who prayed the litany of loreto, the memorare or three Hail Mary's before it.

Near-by the Anglican Church of St Nicholas dates from the closing years of the Catholic period of English history. The tower was completed in 1517 in the reign of Henry VII.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Pentecost in Birmingham

On Pentecost Sunday I attended the Solemn High Mass at the Birmingham Oratory.  This was celebrated, as has become their recent custom on a Sunday morning, in the Extra-ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, using the Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962).  

They do things well at the Birmingham Oratory and always with the minimum of fuss.  Despite the beautiful vestments, Mass setting by Schubert and two gorgeous motets by Palestrina, the whole liturgical experience feels very ‘ordinary’.  By this I mean that it isn't a performance or a concert it is ‘just’ the People of God at Mass.  

It was during this Mass that two things struck me very powerfully.  

Availability of Confession
In order to cope with the large number of people in the confession queue a priest sat in the confessional for most of the Mass.  I suspect this is frowned upon by many because the ‘assembly’ should be participating at mass and should have sorted out going to confession well before hand.  And yet it struck me as a most pragmatic, pastoral approach.  Now that so few Catholics  make use of the sacrament of penance in the way the church requires, it is critical  that priests make it available at times that are convenient and where others can see that there are those who still go to confession.  Even in churches with multiple priests on the staff it is rare to see this practice and of course it is impossible if the priest is single handed.  During Lent in a parish in Essex I saw a priest leave the confessional 2 minutes before mass started, celebrate Mass and then return to the ‘box’ immediately after removing the vestments.  It is no coincidence that it is in these churches where an effort is made to make the sacrament of confession accessible, that it is in fact used in great numbers.

Active Participation
One of the perceived ‘problems’ of the old rite of mass is that it apparently at odds with the teaching of Vatican II.  Sacrosanctum Concillium, the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy says, “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism.

“In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.”

In the older form of the Mass, now called the Extra-ordinary Form (EF), the people in the pew apparently do very little. The clergy carry out the sacred actions in the sanctuary and in most cases even the people’s responses are made for them by the server.  The people are expected to pray quietly in their places and to many this form of participation may seem anything but active or perhaps entirely passive. 

The Mass is of course the supreme liturgical act of the Church as She participates in, offers and makes present the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary offered once for the sins of the world.  To kneel in silent prayer, wonder and awe as the priest offers this Sacrifice at the altar is no less active a participation than was Our Lady’s participation as she stood and watched her Son die.  The degree to which our participation is active or passive doesn’t depend on everyone doing their own bit, reading, taking the collection, running the Sunday school, ‘giving out’ Holy Communion; it depends much more on how we engage inwardly with the action of the priest offering the Mass; the degree to which we bring our needs and those of of our family, friends and the world to the very foot of the cross and unite those intentions with those of Christ himself.  Busy-ness in church is no substitute for the real active participation which is predominantly interior and spiritual and yet has expression in our standing, kneeling, actively listening, making the relevant responses etc.

In my experience there can be much more active participation in a prayerful attendance of Mass in the EF than can be be seen in many parishes where everyone has a job to do, no one joins in the many hymns anyway and where there is incessant murmur and chatter throughout the liturgy.  In both forms of the Roman Rite this imperative of active participation by the faithful is fulfilled by their presence, their prayers and their union with the Church as it carries on the work of redemption.  We have to accept that our Lord offered himself on the Cross for us.  He was and is the principal in the drama of our redemption and in the Mass; the full conscious and active participation of each one of us in either form of the Roman Rite must not obscure that simple fact that we are at the mercy of God.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Dorchester Abbey

Four members of SSIM visited Dorchester Abbey whilst attending a meeting of the Association of Latin Liturgy on April 13 which was held a few hundred metres along the road at the beautiful Catholic Church of St Birinus.

On visiting the abbey one is first struck by a notable example of reformation desecration as one has to side step and altar stone which was set into the pavement of the porch, deliberately so that people would trample on the very spot where the precious Body and Blood of Our Lord rested during the sacrifice of the Mass. (See picture).

The church itself is impressive and was served first by secular and subsequently regular Augustinian canons. It was the Cathedral of the Kingdom of Mercia, a privilege it lost by royal edict, to Lincoln.

The relics and shrine of St Birinus can be found inside as can notable examples of medieval glass and stone carving.

Pictures in this post include a member fulfilling his SSIM duties before a medieval crucifix wall painting, the great east window and the Shrine of St Birinus.

Dorchester is well worth a visit, as are its many pubs!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wash one another's feet!

Pope Francis, will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this year in the Casal del Marmo, a penal institution for young people in Rome.  The holy Father has specifically asked that this liturgy be marked by simplicty. In doing this the Pope is departing from the tradition of the Bishop of Rome celebrating this mass in his Cathedral, St John Lateran by taking this liturgy to those in prison.  That he does this will shock some and please others.  He is not the first Pope in history to visit this particular institution of course.  Both Benedict XVI and John Paul II did so, demonstrating their own care for the marigianlised, he is though the first to not celebrate the Liturgy of the Cena Domini, with solemnity and in public (we are told this event will not be televised).

Clearly the Pope has mad a pastoral decision, that is well within his competence to make and we must again get used to a man who is a firm decision maker and who sees to it that his decisions are implemented.  If some thought that John Paul II knew how to use his authority they should watch Pope Francis!  Even so its clear that this change of venue is not at odds with liturgical law.

Beyond the change of venue though, what shall we make of Pope Francis’s reported intention to the wash and kiss the feet of 12 boys and girls from different nationalities and confessions during the Mass of the Lord’s supper?

Let us look at what the Roman Missal says: “The men who have been chosen……..”  in Latin the word used is Viri, so we cant say “men” means “human” in this context.  It is abundantly clear that the liturgical law requires those whose feet are to be washed to be selected from the male of the species.  Many who read this will have experienced for many years, the priest washing the feet of women during this part of the liturgy but make no mistake that is a liturgical abuse.  The tradition of the Church and the rubrics place an emphasis on the symbolism of Christ washing the feet of his disciples.

Departure from tradition is something many of us find uncomfortable.  We can though, take comfort in the fact that the most noble and important traditions of the Catholic Church are codified and have legal standing.  The legal systems of the church are not just for dealing with complicated martial situations!.  Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (often referred to as Chief Magistrate of the Church) has delivered conferences on the juridical nature of the liturgical instructions and rubrics.  Liturgical law is Law!

We know that as lay people we have a right under the law of the Church to be provided access to the liturgy of the church, properly celebrated according to the norms of the Roman Missal and the other liturgical books.  When that right is infringed we may and are encouraged to, complain to the local Bishop or to Rome (Congregation or Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments).  Some liturgical abuses are more serious than others of course yet it is clear that some are considered so severe that they are classed as graviora delicta (more grave crimes) with pardon from such offences, in the external forum, being reserved to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  One example of a liturgical offence of this sort would be the attempted ordination of a woman (CDF 19 Dec 2007).
Now most of the liturgical abuse we witness in many of our parishes, day by day, are not of this order and don’t warrant more than the raising of an eyebrow.  Yet we must be certain that what the Church lays down in the liturgical books and especially when it is in conformity with the long tradition of the Church, over many centuries, is what is being celebrated.  If not then we are impoverished to some degree.

Pope Francis will depart from an ancient tradition, codified in the liturgical books and he will do this as an act of his own will, using his power as Pope.  He can do this of course as he isn’t subject to the law as we are.  

Canon 332 says of the Pope, “he has supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the church , and he can always freely exercise this power”. So this derogation by the Pope from the liturgical norms for Holy Thursday is an exercise of his power as Vicar of Christ.  The question hangs in the air as to whether this liturgical change now applies to the entire Latin Rite Church or whether it should be seen as a particular departure from tradition in these circumstances alone.    

It surely better that changes which need to be made to the liturgical laws are made by means of a clear juridical process (i.e. a motu proprio), not so much because of this case but because there may be other more significant changes to come.

God bless our Pope!