Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Our Lady's Assumption

What a joy it was to celebrate the Assumption (actually on the 15th August!) in the wonderful atmosphere of the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady, Fontgombault, in the Province of Berry, France.

Having arrived in a Cessna 172 single engine plane at Le Blanc airfield the first visit to the Abbey was for Solemn Pontifical First Vespers on Saturday evening, presided over by His Lordship the Abbot.
Saturday brought with it the celebration of a Pontifical High Mass at the Throne, preceded by Terce and a procession around the cloister. it was a privilege to participate at Mass from the Transept and therefore have an un-restricted view of both the Throne and the Altar.
Later that day there was again Pontifical Vespers this time with a procession of Our Lady and around the Church itself along with various Marian devotions, followed by benediction.
Fontgombault was the venue for a liturgical conference in 2001 which was presided over by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The monks celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite but include the Universal Prayers / Intercession (in Latin) and omit the Last Gospel.
The singing of the Gregorian chant is sublime and the whole experience is surely a foretaste of heaven!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Northern Lands

Family affairs took me to the North East of England last weekend. Whilst there I was able to visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and the ruined Cistercian Abbey at Rievaulx in the North York Moors.

The Monastery at Lindisfarne was founded in 635AD by St Aidan a monk of Iona. It lies on an island just off the Northumberland Coast and is connected to the mainland by a causeway across the sand except twice daily when the tide isolates the island.

1 The Abbey 2 St Cuthbert 3 Sculpture of Monks Carry Cuthberts Relics

Aidan's monastery is now ruined but has many interesting features including architectural details on pillars that are very similar to those in Durham Cathedral. Lindisfarne was for a time a dependant house of the Abbey at Durham.

St Cuthbert was once prior of Lindisfarne and lived on the island as well as at his hermitage on a small island of Inner Farne, now know as St Cuthbert's Island. He became Bishop of Lindisfarne before returning to the hermitage to die. His relics were later transferred to Durham where the current magnificent Cathedral was raised in his honour.

Many other saints were formed at Lindisfarne and there prayers were invoked for the ministry of the Church in the North.

The nine saints of Lindisfarne are:
  • St Aidan
  • St Finan
  • St Colman
  • St Tuda
  • St Eata
  • St Cuthbert
  • St Eadberht
  • St Eadfrith
  • St Ethelwald
Some of the great missionary saints also had associations with the monastery in their time:
  • St Chad
  • St Cedd
  • St Wilfrid
St Egbert, a monk of Lindisfarne influenced the apostolate of:
  • St Wilfrid
  • St Wigbert
  • St Willibrord
The Anglican parish church of St Mary the Virgin stands in the grounds of the monastery and I was able to fulfil the SSIM obligations there and in the abbey itself as well as praying for the current (Titular) Bishop of Lindisfarne, the Rt Revd John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster.

1 Nave looking East 2 Shrine of St William

Rievaulx Abbey, situated near the lovely market town of Helmsley, was founded in 1132 and was the first Cistercian house in the north of England. It's third Abbot was St Aelred (1147-67) when the community had 140 choir monks and up to 500 lay brothers and servants. Graves of some of the monks are extant in the Narthex, Choir and Chapter House. The abbey also houses the shrine of St William, the first Abbot (1131-45).

3 Cloister

Both sites provided perfect opportunities to exercise the apostolate of our Society.

Saints of the North; Pray for us!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Fr Finigan's Jubilee

Some members of SSIM very much hope to join Fr Tim for his jubilee mass at Blackfen this evening. Ad multos annos pater!

Sunday, 26 July 2009


The Nativity of S John Baptist saw the admission of two new members, one priest and one layman followoing the Mass at S James Spanish Place. The admission was performed by the Master.

The Master also admitted the Revd Robert Penhallurick of the diocese of Columbus, Ohio, USA as an Associate Member on 25th July and has appointed him Chaplain to Associate Members.

Fr Bob is spending some time in England and is looking forward to visiting many of our medieval churches during his holiday.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Steven McKenna informed us of recent visits he's made:

Odda's Chapel: http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/glouces/Deerhurst-Oddas-Chapel.htm
Deerhurst Church: (nb Communion table arranged for North Endcelebration!!) St Alphege was a former Monk of deerhurst http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/glouces/Deerhurst.htm
and Tewkesbury Abbey http://www.britainexpress.com/counties/glouces/Tewkesbury_Abbey_Photos.htm

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Precepts of the Church

So what are the precepts of the Church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2041) says of them: 'The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in growth in love of God and neighbour.' They are:

  • You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labour
  • You shall confess your sins at least once a year
  • You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season
  • You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church
  • You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church

Question about act of reparation

A member has asked for clarification about what form the act of reparation for past wrongs should take when visiting former Catholic places of worship. There is nothing to stop members using any suitable and approved form of act of reparation but the following advice is given on the SSIM website:

On visiting a church, monastery, shrine, even if ruined, which had previously been used for Catholic worship recite the following [Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri] for the repose of the souls of all who have worshipped there in the past, especially the priests who faithfully offered the holy sacrifice of the Mass and in reparation for all wrongs committed there. Pray also for the unity of Christ’s church around the See of Peter and for the intentions of our Holy Father

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Next Admissions

The Master will be admitting new members following the 6pm Mass at S James's, Spanish Place, London on 24th June. Anyone wishing to be admitted on that date should contact the Chamberlain at the earliest opportunity. chamberlain.ssim@ntlworld.com

Monday, 1 June 2009

Feast of S Justin our Principal Patron June 1st

A secular philosopher, born in second-century Samaria at Nablus, by the age of around thirty Saint Justin had begun to sense that philosophy alone could not answer the questions rising in his mind. After his conversion in the year 130, Justin put his talents to use as an apologist, establishing a school of Christian philosophy in Rome. During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius he was arrested and required to renounce his faith. Refusal to do so led him to him being condemned by the Prefect Rusticus and to a martyr’s death by beheading in 165.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Duties of Membership

Full members of the SSIM are duty bound to observe the following practices:

1. To say a Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri (in Latin) whenever visiting medieval churches, cathedrals, chapels or shrines which had once been Catholic places of worship. In doing so they are to pray to Almighty God for those who worshipped there in former times, especially the loyal Priests who offered mass there. They are to make an act of reparation for those who abandoned the Faith of our fathers and for the wrongs which may have been committed there. If the relics of the saints or venerable images are preserved in such places, members are to venerate them in a manner appropriate to Catholic practice. An intention should be offered for those who currently worship God in those places that they may come to the knowledge of the Truth and that all Christians may soon be united with the See of Peter.

2. To observe the precepts of the Church

3.To pray regularly for fellow members

4. Priest members of the SSIM are to offer Mass for the members of the society at least once each year.

Society Prayer

O Holy Justin, you vigorously defended the sacramental mysteries of the Church and taught the folly of the Cross to a pagan world. From your place in heaven, protect with your prayers, our Holy Father Pope N that he may rule the church on earth with confidence and faithfulness and fearlessly proclaim the good news to the world. With countless martyrs through the ages you suffered death in Rome; guide the Catholic Church, the one true church of Jesus Christ, as it witnesses to the Truth in an hostile world. [Keep in your special care the people of our lands; pray that God may once again raise up saints and martyrs for his glory in these islands.] Through your merits, which God has crowned with the grace of the beatific vision, give your heavenly protection to the members of our Society that they may always reject falsehood and remain loyal to the faith. Amen.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Visiting Ancient Sites

I'm happy to post on this blog reports and pictures from Members of SSIM who have made visits to ancient places associated with our Catholic heritage in order to fulifl the obligations. Please email them to me at Magister.SSIM@ntlworld.com or send them as comments to this post.

Among the roses of the Martyrs.
Brightly shines S Justin.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

God grant us increase!

I have been humbled by the rapid increase in the number of people expressing an interest in joining SSIM. If there are any Friars out there who would like to apply that will mean the three main groups of religious will be represented (Monks, Friars and Canons Regular). Do please spread the word and pray that more and more people will join us in our apostolate which combines an interest in catholic history, ecumenical endeavor, spiritual works of mercy and visiting beautiful places.

During the course of the summer we hope to be able to hear mass as a group and I will post detials of that as soon as they are available.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

S Pancras (of Rome) Martyr

Next Tuesday, 12th May, is the Feast of S Pancras who was martyred in Rome around 304. His cult probably came to England via S Augustine of Canterbury in 597; Augustine having been sent here by Pope S Gregory the Great. We know that Augustine dedicated a chapel at his monastery in Canterbury to S Pancras, no doubt because the monastery Augustine had been prior of in Rome, prior to his mission to the Angles, had been very close to S Pancras's tomb.

Our Society has S Pancras as one of its Martyr patrons precisely because through this history he bridged Rome and England. We are fortunate to have a small fragment of relic, kindly sent to us by a priest in Rome, just as Pope Vitalian sent relics of Pancras to the King of Northumbria in the 7th century.

Largely because of this connection some members of the Society made a pilgrimage today to Old S Pancras Church in London. Having first attended the Solemn Mass at the London Oratory, sung by the Provost, the Very Revd Ignatius Harrison, we made our way to the church, situated behind St Pancras International Station.

Although the current building has only existed in its present form since the 19th century there has been a pace of worship on the site since 314 AD. In the custody of the current Anglican parish is a sixth century altar stone, reputedly the original property of Augustine and there are signs of the original church in the stonework. The question remains as to whether its dedication to S Pancras pre-dates the arrival of Augustine.

S Pancras, pray for us!
That we may be worthy of the promises of Christ!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The blog is here

After a flurry of interest in SSIM in blogosphere over the last few days we've decided to launch our own blog!

I'm very pleased that our numbers are beginning to grow steadily - both ordinary members resident in the UK or Ireland and more surprisingly, associate members living abroad.

During the Summer I shall have the pleasure of admitting the Revd Robert Penhallurick of the Diocese of Columbus Ohio as Chaplain to our Associate Members.

If you've stumbled on this blog and are interested in finding out more about us and perhaps in applying for memebership then do get in touch or visti the website
S Justin Martyr, Pray for Us!