Monday, December 11, 2017

The Pater Noster: a problem with the Son of God himself



So, the Sovereign Pontiff suggests the Pater Noster needs a rewrite, well we know from the Superior General of the Jesuits no-one had a tape recorder, so it is not possible to know what Jesus actually said, in the same way we don't haver a video of his life, so we have to rely on the Church's collective memory, guided by the Holy Sprit to lead us into all truth.

The Gospels though they give slightly different versions of this prayer, they concur with the ancient liturgical form of the prayer which ends, "Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo." in Greek, "καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν, ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ." So it is not just the translation the Pope has problems with but the actual text itself. His problem therefore is not with ICEL or some other body but with the Son of God himself.

The Greek means “to bring into” or “to lead into”: it’s in the active voice not the passive therefore it certainly does not mean “do not let”, the Pope's preferred translation. There is an important truth here, God does not merely permit temptation as though we live in a world where Satan is as powerful God and good and evil struggle together, and mankind is pulled hither and thither.

The new French translation uses the passive voice, "let us not fall into temptation", is far from accurate, it suggests that falling into temptation is some kind of unfortunate accident. For a Christian, that is those empowered by the Holy Spirit, to "cry out, "Abba, Father"", a new relationship has been formed, in whichthrough Grace we are empowered by God and no longer in sway of the Tempter, in short, we can resist sin and temptation, even the temptation in the Last Days to defect from the faith.

Regrettably, there seems to be trait in much of His Holinesses theology, where human beings do not receive sufficient grace to overcome sin or live Christian lives: the Blessed Virgin cries out to God that she has been decieved or Jesus has to beg forgiveness from Mary, and the Grace of marriage does not give the strength to live according to Jesus' teaching.

An alteration will obviously add to a sense of change within the Church. Protestant churches seem to have their own translation but what His Holinesses seems to want to do is to change, not merely change words but the very theology, the words, of Christ.

The problem is that the Orthodox Churches will continue with what has been given and the un-Churched will continue with what has always been but the cavalier attitude of the Pope to the explicit teaching of Jesus Christ will wound the Catholic Church for generations and set precedents for further rejection and sidelining of Christ.



If we can't have a Pope fluent in the major liturgical languages, God grant us one who knows when to keep silent!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Dictator Pope - some thoughts



I finished that book, 'The Dictator Pope', a few days ago. There was very little that was new in it but it is shocking when scandals are brought together in a catalogue of vice. This is certainly not a book I would recommend most people reading, especially those who are easily shocked.

It portrays a picture of an arbitrary self-seeking princeling with few virtues and practically every vice. For those who hear confessions regularly it gives an insight into the cup which is clean on the outside but full of corruption on the inside.

It gives an insight into the contemporary Church, certainly into the psychology of many of its leading clergy and perhaps into the heresy of Mercy. In the abuse crisis so many of our leaders like Cardinal Daneels, who comes in for much criticism, not only defended abusers, telling their victim they needed to repent but they simply pretended there was no problem. Maybe they were not as bad as Cardinal Maradiaga who chairs Francis' Council of Nine, he dismissed the whole matter as a construction of the 'Jewish media'.

A false, heretical understanding of Mercy reduces God to being tolerant of everything, to the point where sin disappears and black becomes white, the foolish are regarded as wise, the corrupt become virtuous. A tolerant God means mankind has no need of Redemption or Salvation, the whole Christological drama becomes unnecessary and humanity has no need of a moral compass, because whatever is done, so long as it doesn't undermine the Enlightenment virtues, is fine.

An excess of Mercy has a tendency to remove any critical faculty. God becomes the watchmaker who having finished his work, sets it in place to run by itself, he is not as scripture portrays him concerned by our every action, nor is he the one who will come to judge between sheep and goats, and certainly not the one who is concerned about our personal integrity, our truth telling, our sexual or financial morality and our craving for power. It works well for a dictator, in that any criticism or expression of doubts or any questioning about this new god (the god of theological speculation, rather than God revealed by Jesus Christ in scripture and Tradition) becomes a sign of sickness, rigidity, even heresy but worst of all of the unforgivable sins of divisiveness and disloyalty.

What I find so shocking in this book, which hardly reveals any new secrets, just adds a few details, is that such corruption as it reveals causes dis-ease in so few. Indeed, those who do raise concerns are hussled to the margins and vilified. Colonna gives us insight into a court that seems to be hotbed of neurotic revenge, nepotism, financial corruption, homosexual practice and where surveillance and gossip are rife and where image is all. A quote from the book, a priest said, "It is not who or what you know, it is now about what you know about who you know", he was talking about a culture of blackmail.
Why is it tolerated? Why is it so easily accepted? Why do so few denounce it?

Perhaps it is that Catholicism in particular has seen so many changes in recent years that there are so few points of stability from which bearings can be taken. Even the Gospels, the actual revealed words of Jesus are pushed to the background and replaced by 'the sublime theology' of some German Cardinal. The author makes the point that what has been lost in the last few years is Jesus's 'Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no',

Being anxious that some fragment of the Lord's body might be lost or desecrated should be important to priests, nowadays being deeply concerned that a word, a comma of Lord's being lost should be a deep, deep concern of every Christian because where sin and vice abounds Christ cannot be tolerated

But then many bishops and religious superiors simply turned a blind eve to sexual abuse and abusers.....

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When we lose faith



I don't fear atheism or aggressive secularism as much as I fear Catholics who have lost their faith bur remain in professional roles within the Church,  There seem to be a awful lot of them on the right and left who contribute nothing to the life of the Church, in fact they suck it dry or damage its Christocentricity, they are interested in church politics and factions or they use the Church to satisfy and further their own needs. People like this can be found in every Catholic school and parish, in diocesan curial offices, in choir galleries and music groups, in theological faculties, in fact they are everywhere and they are legion.

Increasingly there is a strong division between the episcopacy and the people, in recent weeks young men have been forcibly removed from churches in Belgium and France over Reformation celebrations, in Belgium, as in Germany and Austria protests over art installation, the latest being a crucified cow in a Belgium church. It seems really odd that any bishop or priest would allow such things and that they would not realise how appalled the faithful might be. On the continent it could be that the local civic authority rather than the clergy have control over what is put into churches but one might expect senior clergy to be more shocked not less shocked than the laity.

When lay people lose faith, unless they are Church employees or gain some satisfaction like performing, they simply stop practicing and supporting the Church and its activities and in effect they disappear. When clergy, especially those of a certain age, stop believing they carry on, either with a lack of enthusiasm or actively undermining the faith of those who still believe and pushing their own particular agenda, in many cases they become even more concerned about developing their own careers.

It is important to remember when faith goes, so too do the other theological virtues, hope and charity. The result is people who are depressed and bitter or cruel or those who are aggressively destructive of faith and those things that speak of faith, they become practically and supernaturally anti-Christ. We Catholics understand faith as the foundational virtue which if it is present always produces fruit. If the fruit is rotten, then faith is likely to be dead and the tree unsound or dead. I remember a prelate who gutted his church and threatened to sue parishioners who objected, he used to send one particular couple a Christmas each year renewing the threat.

This article appeared a few days ago, which, if as I suspect it is true, it explains Pope Benedict's reference to "the wolves". A great deal of the confusion and pain in the Church today and the divide between those who have faith in Jesus, and those who use Christianity for their own agenda; amongst the laity using Christianity is about a backdrop for weddings or funeral, amongst the clergy it can be about career development or exerting power over others, which as we have seen all too vividly can be expressed in sexual terms.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The third man


The third man or servant, the one with one talent is worth considering. Why did he not do anything with that one talent, except bury it?

The answer is given us,  "Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid ..." (RSV translation). It is pretty obvious that his fear has blinded him to know that what the master wanted was a profit. so it seems as if he didn't know his master very well, the other two servants obviously knew him better. Perhaps the fact he buries the talent indicates that whilst his master is away, for 'a long while', he is happy to have him out of his mind and house and life, his memory buried with talent amongst the dead things in the earth. One is left to wonder too what he is doing whilst not burdened by his master's affairs, is he mistreating his fellow servants or perhaps found another master to serve.

Scripture tells us, "perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (1Jn 4:18). We don't kinow about the other two servants but presumably they knew the master better than the third one, perhaps they loved him too because the knew him "We cannot love what we do not know", says St Thomas Aquinas. The third servant certainly does not love, he is merely afraid, too afraid to either know or do his masters will, yet he knows it perfectly, because he says that his master reaps where he has sown and gathers where he has not winnowed.

Jesus says, "If you love me, keep my commandments". John 14:15. There are lots of themes here, first of all love gives us an insight into what his commandments are, then proof of love is by action, not necessarily by emotions or sentiment.

What is not forgiven the third servant is that he is paralysed by 'his' fears and is unable to see or act beyond them to produce any fruit, he is fixed on himself rather than his master. He has built his life, his house, on the sand, of his feelings and fears, rather than the rock-like hardness of the masters will who invites his servants to follow "the hard and narrow path".


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Confusion


Image result for gender confusionA parishioner who works in social care has been told she is a "bigot" and a lot of other rather unpleasant things, the reason is that she refuses to go along with her department's gender policy. She deals with confused young people who often cut themselves or are anorexic or are suicidal. often drug or alcohol dependant and aggressive to others, lately to this mix has been added confusion over gender identity.

Her description of most of those she deals with suggests gender identity is just one of many confusions these young people have to deal with. Many appear to be from homes where there is no father, where the mother has a succession of 'partners' and is uncertain about her role, where the family is sexualised by the presence of various forms of pornography and where the children are prematurely sexualised by the actions of those around them.

Confusion over gender seems to occur where there is confusion on many other levels. The confused are left asking who they are, where do they fit in. Gender confusion would seem to be merely a symptom of general confusion, that ends up by disrupting relationships and ultimately questioning one's very identity as a person.

Religion is about identity; our ability to understand what we mean by "I am ...". it is about knowing one's place in the universe and history in relationship to God and others.

The present confusion in the Church, especially amongst bishops, is not unrelated to gender confusion, it is about having lost sight of who God himself is. Confusion especially confusion about right and wrong, good and evil is always from the Devil, as is confusion -heresy- about who Jesus Christ is.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Has it worked?" the question we dare not ask



In this centenary year of the Soviet Revolution, it is worth reflecting that after 70 years the Russian people actually asked the question, "Has it worked?" It is the question an efficient business asks regularly, I suspect parents in a healthy family ask that question. it should be the fundamental question of the spiritual life.

Fifty years after the implementation of the liturgical changes, it is the question the Church should be asking itself, any business would have product tested before a change of brand. I suppose that Summorum Pontificum was Benedict's way of doing this retrospectively.

Vatican II's liturgical reforms were introduced en masse everywhere and within a few years of the Council, unlike the gradually introduced liturgical reforms of Pius V that percolated gradually as old books were slowly replaced but even then only where the Roman Rite was used, the Milanese, Lyonese, Bragans, Dominicans, Carthusian, for example, continued using their own Rites, and acted as a kind of quality control or reference point for the reformed Roman Rite.


There are two areas where, 'has it worked?' should be asked, the first is liturgical reform, the second is the modern use of the papal fiat that introduced them, it was an unprecedented use of papal power. The second of these, Pope Francis is dealing with very effectively by forcing even the most conservative to ask about the modern use of papal power, "has it worked?". I half think that it is a deliberate policy, a reductio ad absurdum, that the Pope is raising with allies like Fr Spadaro and Dr Ivereigh and other cheerleaders. Are they cooperators who will heroically sacrifice their careers in a successive papacy. Dare one suggest that Magnum Principium might actually be a return of the Church to local Rites and Usages that are mutually enriching? I suspect not but it is a possibility. The Ordinariate Rite after all seems to have this effect where it is celebrated.

Apparently a large number of French Seminaries are closing, as are a whole lot of ancient monasteries and practically every convent has become a retirement home. I am not sure what the number is this year, but last year, in our diocese we had only 3 seminarians. Whilst I was at the seminary we had in this city of Brighton and Hove almost 30 priests, in 17 years time by the year 2030 we will be lucky to have 2 under 65, they will age prematurely out of exhaustion.

The thing is that there isn't an absence of vocations, from my little parish we have three men, two preparing for the priesthood and one in a rather rigorous contemplative monastery but they were very much involved in the Old Rite and have gone to communities outside of the diocese. It isn't even that there is an absence of contemplative religious, there are new convents opening in the Channel Islands and in the Diocese of Lancaster but again the sisters will worship according to Old Rite. The only monastery flourishing, without scandal, in Italy (despite episcopal opposition) is Old Rite, at Norcia. The same in France, where a quarter of this years ordinations were of priests attached to the Old Rite, and where monastic life is retracting but Old Rite monasteries like Fontgombault are actually making new foundations. I am quite willing to accept that it is not necessarily the Rite itself but if it is not then it is the theology that goes with the Rite, or the 'ecclesiological experience' that goes with it. On a practical level the Old Rite seems to work.

Why are we incapable of asking, "Has it worked?", presumably it is because of an ideological attachment, rather like the politburo of the Soviet Union that will not allow itself to question givens until long after they had collapsed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The soldier and his cloak are radical



The radical nature of St Martin's giving of his cloak to the beggar is easily reduced to the sentimental or just overlooked: the soldier Martin, a catechumen, meets a beggar, and then later in a vision or a dream or in prayer sees that has given the cloak to Christ himself, St Francis and the leper is a similar story.

It is radical because of what it says about the 'personhood' of the outsider, the poor, the powerless. In the medieval world it was a frequently seen reminder of human dignity. It subtly conveys Martin's own anti-Arian teaching.

Martin lived at a time when Christianity had become legal, but armies tend to be conservative, the Mythraic cult seems to have been the dominant religion of the army. Scholars now suggest that the reason Christianity had been persecuted and suppressed at least by the powerful, though it seems to have grown widely amongst the masses in the 3rd and 4th centuries, to emerge as a great torrent with the Constantinian coup d'etat, was precisely because of the Trinitarian and Christological doctrines that underlined St Martin's (and his master Hiliary of Poitiers') anti-Arianism. It is also an indication of why Arianism was so attractive to the upper classes.

Christianity did threaten the power structures of Roman society: it actually said that slaves and beggars and the poor were of equal value to the emperors or patricians, in the same sense that publicans and sinners were of equal value to Pharisees, because in them Christ was made present.

It seems folly, but an accepted one, to imagine outside of Christianity that all are of equal importance or value in the state and society. When society excludes Christ it is easy to devalue the poor, the unborn, the elderly. racial minorities.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

La Vulnerata: A prayer for the Church


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, and our wounded Mother that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, We fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother.  To you do we come, imploring you to look on the Holy Church of God, your Son's Immaculate Bride, now defiled by sin, ravaged by wolves, betrayed by her Shepherds and Priests, becoming covered in the filth of the world, blinded to the Vision of her Spouse your Son, deaf to his teaching, by your own share in His Sacred Passion and by the sword that pierced your heart, hear our sorrowful prayers, bind up our woundsand wipe away our tears.

Amen


The Vulnerata, The Wounded One, was desecrated by English sailors in Cadiz in 1596, she was brought to Vallodolid in solemn procession by order of the King and is venerated in the Real Colegio de Ingleses, she is an apt reminder of the Church today.

She inspired the Holy Martyrs of the College, may devotion to her inspire us.



Borromeo: Epitomy of Trent

Ironic some celebrated the Protestant Reformation at the beginning of the week, today Holy Church celebrates Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584).

After the terrible period of depraved Popes and decadent churchmen there arose men like Borromeo. It must have appeared that Christ and his saints slept, I am sure many good Christians were brought near despair, then as if from the tomb Christ awoke.
"What good thing came out of the Protestant Reformation: why - the Glorious Counter-Reformation", as one Oxford preacher said a decade or two ago.

This is no idle Catholic boast, it is not just about art an architecture, it is about 'holiness'. I can't help thinking about the young Seminary Priests, leaving Rome where they might well have met St Philip Neri, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier perhaps, St Paul of the Cross, many travelled up through Italy to call in to see Borromeo, many would made a detour to Geneva to receive the blessing of St Francis De Salles, before coming to England or other parts of Europe to suffer death and reveal their own heroic sanctity.

In there northward journey one suspects like sought like and they would have sought out and been sought by other holy men. St Charles however seemed to hold a special place, he seemed even for his contemporaries to epitomise the Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563, he was the model of a reforming post-Trent bishop.

There is much that Trent did but like other Councils it was expected to produce fruit, not just peace to a troubled, disunited and confused Church but also to produce a new flourishing in the Church's mission and her structures, ultimately holy men and women.

I am not sure that Vatican II, or even the foreshortened Vatican I, has produced the same fruit as Trent, there appear to be less flourishing, less saintly men and women, less zealous priests and bishops and less clear thinking members of the Papal Court than there were once.

Perhaps it is too early to tell.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

The Pontifex Maximus


.... Under this fiendish Emperor every form of torture was imagined and having been imagined was visited upon the Church of God, sparing neither the Holy Apostles themselves or clergy, man or women, even little children, widow or orphan, all were subject to the rapacious will of this Pontifex Maximus ....
... The sycophants about him, who should have stayed his hand as true friends, encouraged not only his violence but his viciousness which spared none. How low his court fell, and with them the morals of the people of Rome. For once the ruler becomes vile and corrupt soon the whole edifice is weakened and crumbles and is plunged into hatred, yes, of the Church and Christian people but also of goodness itself, so that virtue is lost and vice extolled  ...
From a sermon for St Peter and Paul by one of my predecessors, not quite sure who, in the 1920s/30

Monday, October 30, 2017

Did the Protestants win?





There is a provacative little article in the Wahington Post by a Lutheran working in various Catholic institutions entitled: The Reformation is over. Protestants won. So why are we still here? Is it true?

A Lutheran academic most probably only moves in rather restricted circles, possibly one should ask where have Protestants won? The question however provokes other questions.

Such as where do we find Catholicism?

Is it in the documents of VII, or the theology of Cardinals Cupich or Marx, or in an ecumenical gathering, or is it the congregation at weekday Mass or the Rosary Procession through London last week or is it in the millions today that would term themselves 'former Catholics' or 'of Catholic descent', who have turned their back on the Church and its teaching?


Who 'owns' or controls the Church?
Is it the 'possession' of the Pope and a small group vociferous twittering bishops, media savvy academic theologians and other clergy and journalists, or is something else?

I am no Church historian but it strikes me that Luther was the first 'theologian' in the modern sense, we had men like Aquinas and Bonaventure but they were quite different, they tried to make sense of an an already existing faith and explain it. In a sense their teaching persisted for centuries until it was actually taken up the Church, an example is Aquinas' use of 'Transubstantiation', it was only the Council of Trent that took it up as a philosophical explanation of the Real Presence, even now we can ask do we have to believe in a divide between 'substance' and 'accidents' to be a good Catholic or can we take it as analogy that explains why we prostrate before Blessed Sacrament and hold it as our greatest treasure and our contact point with God himself?

One could ague there have never been any Catholic theologians ever, even Newman (and Ratzinger at his best) were historians of theology rather than theologians in their own right, they, like good preachers tried to explain to their contemporaries an already existing faith (held always, everywhere and by all). If one follows this understanding of what a theologian is then all Catholic 'theologians' added nothing new but merely tried to bring out the treasure of the past and place it in the context of the present.

This is not what Luther or his contemporaries did, they invented something new, something personal. As soon as Protestantism emerges it is divided in itself. Luther has a different approach than Zwingli or Bucer or Calvin indeed they had savage disputes, they killed one another.

Luther himself said that before the Reformation there was one Pope sitting on seven hills, now every dung heap in Germany has its own Pope sitting on it. The creation of new 'churches' centred around particular theologians meant that princes were obliged to intervene for the sake of peace and order, so that religion became not something that somehow belonged to the people and bound them together but something imposed and regulated from above, by the 'prince'. I think until recently for example in England, atheist, nor-Christian, even Catholic Peers and Commons, actually had to vote on Church of England doctrine, and a non-Anglican, often non-believing, Prime Minister, in the name of the Queen, appointed its Bishops. Thus after the Reformation governments controlled what people believed, it became something imposed or something 'handed down', as opposed to something 'handed on'.

The Council of Trent, as a reaction to Protestantism for more or less the first time imposed a set of detailed doctrines on the glorious muddle of medieval Catholicism. Previous Councils had predominantly merely told the faithful what to avoid. Even then it is only with VII that the Catholicism becomes imposed from above, mainly in the liturgy of course, 'the Pope' or 'the Council wills it', became a standard phrase in post-Concilliar Catholicism, trumping Tradition or the feelings of ordinary Catholics, especially in liturgical 'reformation' of Vatican II was imposed with such destructive violence whereas so much else of VII was quietly rejected. For the first time the will of the Pope was seen as greater than the historic will of the rest of the Church, it seems to be attitude reaching it zenith in the present Papacy.

Authentic Catholicism is about a movement of the Spirit in the hearts of the faithful, expressed in worship and devotion. The more it is formalised, and taken away from what was taught at grandmother's knee, when it becomes the subject of documents, or individuals, even of Popes and Bishops the more Protestant it becomes, and I would suggest, therefore, the more empty our churches become.





Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Heresiarch Luther



Just one reason why I can't join the Vicar of Christ in celebration of the heresiarch Luther:
... a shocking part of Luther’s legacy seems to have slipped though the cracks of the collective memory along the way: his vicious Anti-Semitism and its horrific consequences for the Jews and for Germany itself. At first, Luther was convinced that the Jews would accept the truth of Christianity and convert. Since they did not, he later followed in his treatise, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543), that “their synagogues or schools“ should be “set fire to … in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christian.“ He advised that the houses of Jews be “razed and destroyed,“ their “prayer books and Talmudic writings“ and “all cash and treasure of silver and gold“ be taken from them. 
They should receive “no mercy or kindness,“ given “no legal protection,“ and “drafted into forced labor or expelled.“ He also claimed that Christians who “did not slay them were at fault.“ Luther thus laid part of the basic anti-Semitic groundwork for his Nazi descendants to carry out the Shoah. Indeed, Julius Streicher, editor of the anti-Semitic Nazi magazine “Der Stürmer,“ commented during the Nürnberg tribunal that Martin Luther could have been tried in his place. 
All the more stunning that Germany should proclaim a special national holiday in the name of the anti-Semitic Martin Luther only 70 years after the Shoah. Although the general public may mostly be unaware of Luther’s views, the responsible clergy certainly is aware and has still chosen to declare a nationwide holiday. 
It is no doubt laudable that the Synod of the Lutheran Church in Germany (EKD) distanced itself from Luther’s anti-Semitic statements in November 2011, and several other church representatives have done the same, yet how do they have no compunctions about declaring a major commemorative event to honor Luther, as if his sinister and hateful views and writings on the Jews are insignificant and trivial?
Times of Israel

The thing about the love of power and evil is that it casts out the work of sanctifying grace leavinf us thugish, corrupt and prone to all kinds of evil

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Priests Drinking to Conscience First

I had always thought that conscience was important to Catholics: Newman famously said he would drink to the Pope but to conscience first, Aquinas, that we must follow conscience, even if leads one out of the Church.

Pope Francis, or at least the Beroglians, appear to be saying that the divorced and remarried may receive Holy Communion if they do so in good conscience, the problem is what if the priest who is expected to give them Communion feels in good conscience that he may not do so.

I heard a rather garbled account of a young priest, not a 'Correcton' signer, placed in this situation, after a discussion with his bishop he was led by conscience not quite out of the Church but to another diocese. it could be that this priest was tactless or harsh in how he said what he said, I don't know.

I get the feeling that this seems to be a phenomena that is likely to grow in the Church. On social media and in clerical chat rooms those priests whose comscience tells them the Gospel and Church promotes the former 'pastoral' practice seem very uneasy about their ability to continue in their dioceses. It seems that in some places lay people and bishops can freely follow conscience but not priests.

The implication for priests is if you insist on following your conscience you must find a diocese where the bishop allows or tolerates such a priest with such a conscience.

In the past conscience led priests to the arena, or the gallows or concentration camp and a bishop and those involved in their formation were concerned about sharpening not blunting conscience. An 'e-friend' priest said recently, 'they want us out and gone from the Church', that is probably an over reaction but there are obviously diocese, as in Malta where the seminary gate is open, as is, presumably, the diocesan gate where other bishops have told critical Catholics to stay away from events, the implication for priests whose conscience is sensitive is frightening.

This is presumably where schism begins; 'old' believers are simply told to go away or are unwelcome. The problem is that 'old' believers are so often the young, not the men and women of the 1970s. for a diocese in Europe or the US to lose even one of its younger priests today is pretty catastrophic.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Pope changes the Church's teaching on ...


executioner of the Papal States
The Pope changes the Church's teaching on the death penalty, is running on Twitter and a few blogs at the moment. Well that is not true, Popes do not, cannot, change Church teaching on anything, not even when they speak Ex Cathedra, All Popes can do is clarify.

The two 'classical' acts of such clarification, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption in many ways were completely unnecessary at the time of their promulgation, except to promote Papal power. The Church had and always will believe the Theotakos was 'full of grace', and had been from her beginning, what the doctrine does is say that Mary's beginning (and therefore our beginning) happened not at birth or at her quickening, or ensoulment but at the moment of conception. The Assumption, with its deliberate ambiguities reconciles the western doctrine of the Assumption and the Eastern doctrine of the Dormition, it purifies the doctrine of possible unnecessary pious legends.

Better uses of infallible teaching are Paul VI's declaration that contraception, (especially/including modern forms of artificial contraception) are contrary to the constant Tradition of the Church. Similarly JPII's, and maybe more clearly Benedict XVI's, declaration that women never have been and therefore never can be ordained priest are the more usual forms of 'infallible teaching' but these statements depend not so much on supernatural inspiration but the Holy See's library and record keeping. I have always thought that amongst the many papal titles ought to be a reference to 'keeper of the archives' or 'first amongst historians'. These are Church teaching because they are historic facts handed on to us, not because a Pope signs a document.

The problem is that if some other historical sources produced contrary historical evidence then 'infallible' teaching becomes very fallible.

So, Pope Francis has declared the death penalty is contrary to the Church's teaching, well the office of executioner to the Holy See has been unfilled for some time now and the Old Testament laid down quite clear rules about about when the death penalty must be enforced, so one can hardly say that the death penalty is historically contrary to Christian doctrine, however one of the strands that has been developed in Catholic theology, really since the declaration of the Immaculate Conception, is that Life, all life, is sacred, that Life is the fundamental right of all human beings.

For the Pope to say that the death penalty is contrary to the constant teaching of the Church is historically untrue. Obviously he can say that the death penalty is contrary to the Church's teaching but that is his opinion and should be taken seriously as he is Supreme Pastor. The problem is that an incoherent Pope or confused Pope damages the whole concept of Papal teaching. What Francis teaches us is to be sceptical about such teaching.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What does Fatima say about Amoris Laetitia?



My friend, the rather brilliant theologian Fr Serafino Lanzetta asked me the question: What does Fatima say about Amoris Laetitia? It is a good question, a bit like the Zen master's question, 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?' On one level both questions could be answered by the simple answer, 'Nothing', but then both questions are to be pondered, sipped slowly, with no rash conclusion, both questions are in fact are profound.

I was 'formed' in a relatively liberal theological climate of the 1970s, it was fundamentally apophatic, to an almost snobbish degree, in our age it has reappeared with a vengeance. Apophatic (negative) theology isn't a bad thing in itself, it is a frank admission that God is beyond us, his ways are not our ways, there is always something unknowable about, ultimately he is Mystery but always it needs to be balanced with Cataphatic (positive) theology which tell us God gives us reason and revelation, especially through Jesus Christ allow us the know and love him. God became incarnate, so that in our flesh we might see him.

In the 1970s there was such a push against anything that spoke of mystery, of the supernatural, of the other, of anything that said we might actually be able to 'touch' God, it is fundamentally Arian, the belief that God did not become Man, Jesus was not what the anti-Arian Nicene Creed says so strongly that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father (Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sǽcula. Deum de Deo, lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero, Génitum, non factum, consubstantiálem Patri: Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem Descéndit de cælis. Et incarnátus est de Spíritu Sancto Ex María Vírgine, et homo factus est. Per quem ómnia facta sunt.), Arius could say none of this because Jesus for him was not fully God, just a form of God.

The theology that dominated this period was that of men like Hans Küng, which was far removed from the Catholicism of ordinary Catholics, it was very deeply rooted in the protestant Tübingen school which pioneered the historical-critical analysis of biblical and early Christian writings, which in certain hands could reduce the 'historic' Jesus' - who is different to the Jesus of faith - words to a message that could be written on the back of a postage stamp. Miracles like the feeding of the 5000 could be reduced to an act of sharing, the Incarnation and Resurrection to a mere myth, the Eucharist to a sharing in bread and wine, 'a meal for people today rather than the sacrifice of yesterday offered to God', Mary of course, who in Catholic/Orthodox theology is the resolute defender of true belief in the doctrine of the Incarnation lost her place of the triumphant Immaculate and becomes a doubter like any other woman, her sinlessness becomes an embarrassment and myth, a kindly mum, of doubtful virginity rather than the pure Theotokos, As Lumen Gentium says what can be said of Mary can be said of the Church, and so the Church becomes an old fashioned human institution that is in need of constant updating rather than the sacred bride of Jesus Christ.

It was of course against this background that Vatican II and the ecumenical movement and relationships with non-Christians grew up, it was in this environment that modern liturgy came into being and was implemented and all the world's bishops were chosen, and this environment in which the priests of my generation grew up.

Fatima, which I must admit for years I had difficulty with - Walsingham is ancient it is pretty harmless, Lourdes at least is useful, it is about healing. Fatima on the other-hand is different it is about so many unpalatable issues: judgement, penance, heaven and hell, condemnation and divine wrath, it is hot knife cutting through butter. It is so unsophisticated, a reflection of child-like peasant belief. In a world, a Church that has grown uncomfortable with the supernatural, it is profoundly super-natural, illogical, unscientific; God intervenes, the sun dances this is such a contradiction of what has now become the 'theological norm'.

Amoris Laetitia is from one world whereas Fatima from another.



Saturday, October 07, 2017

Rosary: against the Pope?

Polish bishops are urging a million Catholics to pray along the nation's 2,000-mile border next week. Pictured: Catholics wait for Pope Francis in Poland last year
Today millions of Poles are going to the peripheries of their country to say the Holy Rosary, which is a wonderful way to celebrate the feast of the Holy Rosary, it is also a demonstration of the power of the Polish Church. Could our English bishops or the Germans across one of Poland's borders be able to motivate such numbers of people?

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is of course 'political', it marks the destruction of Islamic forces at the Battle of Lepanto, in the same way the importance of the conversion of Languedoc through St Dominic and the Rosary was important, because of the need to have strong Christian Lords on the borders of Christendom to counter the insurgence of Islam on the Iberian peninsula.

One political strand which I find interesting are the ecclesiastical politics of this event in Poland. Though Polish bishops would deny this was an anti-immigrant demonstration, the borders with Russia and the tensions there since the rise of Russian aggression against Ukraine and its other neighbours are as much a concern as the immigrant crisis. In Poland national identity is linked to its Christian identity. The British media see this event as an indication of Poland's far rightness.

For Catholics there has to be the question, "What would Pope Francis say? " though he has backtracked on open borders, as has Mrs Merkel, it seems pretty likely he would strongly disagree with the Polish bishop's and their people's actions. Yet the Polish bishops seem often in strong disagreement with the Pope, over Amoris Laetitia and JPII's magisterium, as much as over the issue of borders.

Here, a small group of Poles and their families want to come to the Church today to join their Rosaries to that of their compatriots, one of them said it was important to him because, "The Pope was so opposed to closing borders to immigrants who do not share Polish culture". I suspect he might oppose the Pope on numerous other issues, including those mentioned in the Filial Correction.

So for him and presumably other Poles the Rosary today is in part in opposition to the Pope Francis.

Friday, October 06, 2017

It's What Cardinals Do


Apparently, just before the last Conclave Cardinal Murphy O'Connor held a meeting for Anglophone Cardinals at the Venerable English College, just opposite in the window of a restaurant in full view sat Cardinal Pell ostentatiously noting the names of those who turned up, he himself had not been invited. Pell was obviously totting up who was in Murphy O'Connor's gang and Murphy O'Connor was obviously trying to extend its influence. These meetings were happening at colleges, universities, and interestingly, embassies through out the pre-Conclave period they are as much part of the pre-Conclave season as the official gatherings, the Congregations, organised by the Cardinal Dean, nothing in law forbids them and little governs how they operate, except good taste.

In the time of John Paul's long period of dying they were happening on a more ad hoc basis over a much longer period, similarly they were taking place from the period of the announcement of Benedict's resignation.

There are still stories going the around on the internet that the canvassing that took place before the last Conclave somehow invalidated the election of Pope Francis, I can't emphasise enough it really is nonsense. What happens during the election is bound by strict rules to maintain secrecy but they govern Conclave itself, those thinks that happen behind locked doors, presumably to stop the faithful from being scandalised and protect the new Papacy beginning in the shadow of scandal.

Certainly Pope John Paul established rules governing what happened inside the Conclave, the new rules were necessary because no longer were elderly Cardinals to be literally locked away and living in the makeshift unhygienic airless garrets and galleries in and around the Sistine Chapel. This is why John Paul built Santa Martha, it was for Cardinal Electors, not another Papal residence. Using it means Cardinals are bussed from there to the Sistine Chapel and rather than being served cold food by a few stewards, mainly clerics, the whole lay staff of what is really a luxurious hotel are employed, together with an increased gang of others to ensure they are kept incommunicado. Modern technology of course makes this much more difficult than a hundred years ago.

Amidst the changed circumstance John Paul's rules attempt to maintain a retreat like atmosphere in the Conclave and for its proper ordering, and yes there are rules against causing scandal to the faithful by openly soliciting votes for individuals; putting up posters or adverts on the television for example but what actually happens or did happen is bound by secrecy on pain of excommunication, so no-one really knows.

Before the Conclave, especially during the period of Congregations, their Eminences are free to do what they always have done. During the Conclave today they are less likely to be intimidated by foreign armies or starved into making a decision and who nowadays would even contemplate removing the roof of the Sistine Chapel if they were dilatory in their decision making.


The rest of the time, what do Cardinals do? Years ago I asked the disagreeable Cardinal Daneels this in an attempt to make conversation, his reply was short, "We look for the next Pope". It would be a fool who thinks that when Cardinals meet they do not talk about the state of the Church and who might best deal with it, or most probably who are the most unlikely candidates to solve its problems. It would be a dereliction of duty if Cardinals didn't do this, or if they didn't introduce to their friends someone who they thought might be overlooked in the next Conclave.

I hardly think that Cardinals Mueller, Burke and Sarah discuss the weather and the use of the doctoral birreta in the Rite of Braga or kitten pictures on Facebook when they are in private conversation, or at least most of us would hope not. One of the reasons for Cardinals coming to Rome other than being a splash of scarlet at Papal events is to discuss the succession and lobby for or against their preferred candidates with all the scheming and guile one would expect of high ranking clerics.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Clericalism and Optionism

I loathe it when people talk of "Fr Ray's Church" or "Fr Ray's Mass". I loathe it because it suggests a  clericalism which my whole being revolts against. The problem is that although the Mass is the Mass is the Mass, the great difference between the New Mass and the Gregorian Mass (TLM) and indeed the Divine Liturgies of the Eastern and Oriental Rites, is the options.

Though at one time parishes might have had a Liturgy Committee that decided whether or not to sing the Introit or Kum by yah or a hymn of doubtful theology, or which penitential rite, whether to have the Kyrie of the season from the Gradual or the one that goes to the tune of Humpty Dumpty, which Gloria or even which collect, etc., etc., these committees have by and large disappeared or else they continue with the same people they had thirty years ago and continue with their iron grip imposing their choices on everyone else, or else they have disappeared and Father now makes the decisions and imposes his will. Whether it be priest or committee it is a new form of clericalism, moving something that had a certain objectivity to something entirely subject to an individual's or group's whim.


The Missal of Paul VI introduced the idea 'options' into the Catholic Church and these options were imposed from above, by priest or a committee. I understand in the US some dioceses' Liturgy Committees make these decisions and so the whole diocese ends up by singing from the same Mass sheet, despite what be in the Gradual or even the Missal, this is only going to increase following Magnum Principium, Pope Francis Moto Proprio of September this year.


The old Mass reflects the old theology, it is without many options and personal choices. The Old Mass, the Gregorian Mass reflects a certain pneumatic egalitarianism where priest and people served something over which they had no control, they continued to do what their fathers had done before them and which their sons would do after them. They were not the imposers of liturgy anymore than they were the imposers of theology or doctrine or morality, the clergy like the faithful were servants of what had been passed on to them, fidelity rather than innovation was the watch word.

The parallel seems to be the enclosure in 19th Century England, where land from time immemorial was held in common for the good of everyone suddenly became the property of a few individuals, thus robbing the masses not only of a source of sustenance but also of that which symbolised their common culture and rootedness.

The Missal of Gregory the Great, like the more recent liturgies of the East and Orient come from the same school of thought as the writings of the great St Vincent of Lerins. 

The "old" theology which we see in Vincent of Lerins (see below) and sometimes better preserved in the East than the West, identifies a certain pneumatic egalitarianism in which the whole Church served the same ends. The Gregorian Mass, like the Divine Liturgy was is part of that and therefore differs from the many optioned Missa recentior, in which it is clerics who day to day choose the preferred option. The old theology seemed to understand the faith was given in its entirety at baptism (What do want? Faith) by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, teachers and pastors gave it form or helped its recipient to articulate it, they were there to serve it they were certainly not its masters.


Lex orandi, Lex credendi, Lex vivendi: it is not liturgy alone but morals, doctrine that is effected, by this Optionism, in fact every aspect of the Church's life, even its banking and relationships with its employees and the poor. Everything becomes an option because nothing is set, everything is in flux, everything becomes a choice, not according to Divine Revelation because even that has become a choice and option.


This is something that suits and maybe gives rise to the new hyper-uber-Ultramontanists because in the world of options everything depends on the spider at the centre of the web, which is of course as East and West would have said is positively anti-Catholic




Thanks to Mark Lambert: Saint Vincent Of Lerins once said:
“If one yields ground on any single point of Catholic doctrine, one will later have to yield later in another, and again in another, and so on until such surrenders come to be something normal and acceptable. And when one gets used to rejecting dogma bit by bit, the final result will be the repudiation of it altogether.”

“All novelty in faith is a sure mark of heresy.”

“True piety admits no other rule than that whatsoever things have been faithfully received from our fathers the same are to be faithfully consigned to our children; and that it is our duty, not to lead religion whither we would, but rather to follow religion whither it leads; and that it is the part of Christian modesty and gravity not to hand down our own beliefs or observances to those who come after us, but to preserve and keep what we have received from those who went before us.”

“I cannot sufficiently be astonished that such is the insanity of some men, such the impiety of their blinded understanding, such, finally, their lust after error, that they will not be content with the rule of faith delivered once and for all from antiquity, but must daily seek after something new, and even newer still, and are always longing to add something to religion, or to change it, or to subtract from it!” 
“What, then, shall a Catholic Christian do … if some novel contagion attempt to infect no longer a small part of the Church alone but the whole Church alike? He shall then see to it that he cleave unto antiquity, which is now utterly incapable of being seduced by any craft or novelty.”


To Sign or Not to Sign #3



Reconciling our today with yesterday, seems important. The Fourth Commandment, with its promise is important: Honour your father and mother, and you shall live long in the land, is about much more than being nice to mum and dad, it is about roots and continuation, a society that forgets it past has no future.

The leitmotif of  Benedict XVI's papacy was the 'hermeneutic of continuity', a return to actual texts, whether it was to the scriptures or the documents of the Vatican II. There was an intellectual rigourism which frightened many. He was disarming with his gentleness whilst at the same time terrifying in his intellectual honesty, which often discomforted the intellectually shallow, for example, his words about the Missa Normativa, that it was "created ex nihil".

He believed in the triumph of truth, the Augustinian in him echoed the saint's words. ‘The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.’ Some, both positively and negatively, have suggested that his greatest work was Summorum Pontificum, I don't think he intended that every priest or even every parish would be offering what he described as the Gregorian Mass and certainly not that it would replace the Missa recentior, what he did intend was to create an environment in which, "What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too."

It was a reminder of where we had come from, an attempt to provide something which was "created ex nihil". and is essentially 'rootless', 'often without much scholarship' with a counter balance and introduce a gravitational pull towards historic Catholicism, and not by imposition from above but by creating a grassroots movement.

The greatest abuse of the faith for Benedict was the idea of 'rupture' that somehow with the close of Vatican II, a new Church was sung into being, or that the Church somehow encountered a Pol Pot-like 'year zero' with no past and consequently no roots and, in his opinion, therefore incapable of bearing fruit and consequently with no future.


One of the 'semi-official' news agencies Rome Reports (is Mr Greg Burke involved in that?) actually claimed that the signatories 'rejected the Second Vatican'. Whilst I have difficulty interpreting the actual meaning of certain ambiguous passages I would be inclined to sign the Correction precisely because I accept VII. I am not sure about the wisdom of Bishop Fellay's name on it, personally I am glad it is, but even he says he accepts 98% of the Council, which is probably a lot more than your average Prelate both in Rome and in the peripheries.

A few of the names, like Dr Joseph Shaw's are very much associated with the Traditional Mass, bur more so concerned with the truth itself, "What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too." It isn't about a prissy archaeologist's attachment to a certain liturgical style but about the immutability of Christ's teaching and divine promises of God's presence within the Church and within history.

Massimo Faggioli rather starkly underlines the problem:


The phrase "theologiocal views that are not Catholic anymore", stands in direct opposition to any thought of 'continuity' and direct opposition to all earlier generations considered sacred.
On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us.                                      Benedict XVI - Christmas Address to the Curia 2005
Faggioli would would place himself alongside those who would claim, like the Maltese Bishops or recent appointees to the College of Cardinals such as Blaise Cupich, that all the previous teaching of the Church can be dispensed with except the current Pontiff's. The words of the present Jesuit Superior General express the real problem:
At that time, no one had a tape recorder to capture the words. What we know is that the words of Jesus have to be contextualized, they’re expressed in a certain language, in a precise environment, and they’re addressed to someone specific.
Sosa is right about the importance of contextualising Jesus' words, what is said to the Apostles is not necessarily to be applied to other disciples for example, but Sosa goes further by suggesting the actual words and teaching of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, the Second Person of the Trinity are not to be taken at face value or are reliable. This is an undermining of the very essence of Catholicism which is about the immanence of God through the Incarnation, through the sacred texts, through the sacraments, through sacred history and through the authoritative teaching of the Church, by the one who promises to be with his Church until the end of time, who won't leave us orphans but will send the Holy Sprit to lead us into all truth.

The patristic scholar Bishop Athanasius Schneider identifies the situation in the Church as being comparable to the Arian Crisis: Arianism was essentially about distancing Man from God by denying that the True God became Emmanuel that is Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin. This seems precisely where we have got to.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

To Sign or Not to Sign #2


I was speaking to a brother priest, another who is deeply concerned about the state of the Church today, the bullying and turning away from the plain teaching of Jesus Christ and scripture. He said he too was asked to sign the Correctio, he hadn't because he simply didn't have time to read Amoris Laetitia.

He said that although St John Paul had written some long documents, that Amoris Laetitia was as long as all the existing Papal documents up to the reign of St John Paul. It is true. It took me over two weeks to read A L whereas Humanae Vitae can be read in less than an hour, Pastor Aeternus in half that time. My friend deeply aware of the need for intellectual rigour said that he thought the great problem for him was that parts of it were incoherent.

I suspect many of our Pastors, even Cardinals simply haven't read this document either and yet promote what "they understand" the document to say. or what their Episcopal Conference says it says, or what their favourite 'Catholic' newspaper, or heaven preserve us of what the noisiest journalist says. It is similar to Benedict's remark about the two Councils - the Council of the media and the true Council.

The Pope encourages this sloppiness by referring people who question its meaning to Cardinal Graf von Schönborn or 'Tucho' or some obscure Conference of Bishops, like Malta. The situation isn't helped when it appears that the Pope himself might actually not comprehend, or even have studied what has been written for him and what the problems are - when questioned on the controversial footnote he actually replied that he couldn't remember it. I would like to quiz a few prelates on the Thomism of the document.

I am sure all the signatories of the Filial Correction have read AL, what concerns me is whether those who have expressed themselves online both for and against it have done so or even possess a copy. I can understand many without a theological formation are seriously uneasy about the political, theological, intellectual or even the sartorial (maybe 'style' might be a better term) direction the Pope is taking the Church - this should not be treated lightly, it is part of the sensus fidelium - the gut instinct of the Church, which is often ignored (churches, convents, seminaries being empty is one sign of it).

What I am trying to say is that just because someone like my friend has not signed the Filial Correction does not mean he is against it, he would certainly support those who have signed but more is desired for formally and publicly correcting a Pope or another Successor of the Apostles than mere fellowship or even a gut instinct. The Church of Jesus Christ is not a mob, the great flaw of Pope Francis is that rather than gathering the flock he is scattering it, sending many to wander in the desert or runaway in confusion and fear.

There is another aspect best seen in the Mueller/Burke take on the matter, Burke sees the error as needing corrected by the Church's law NOW, Mueller by the Church's theology LATER (probably the next Pontificate) both agree there is a problem what they disagree on is the method by which it is to solved.

Despite not signing the Dubia I suspect many Cardinals want it answered and feel the Church is suffering until it is, however that does not mean they are willing to condemn the Pope publicly, though they might be very glad that Cdl Burke and the three have done so, just to show there is a problem but reasonably feel they will act in the next Conclave in the not so distant future rather than today.



Friday, September 29, 2017

Yom Kippur Rubrics for כהן גדול




Video from Park Avenue  Synagogue -cantor Mo Glazman

Today is Yom Kippur, my felicitations to Jewish friends.

Straight from Wiki are the major rubrics concerning the כהן גדול, Kohen Gadol (High Priest) the high point was speaking the Tetragrammiton, the name of the Lord

The following summary of the Temple service is based on the traditional Jewish religious account described in Mishnah tractate Yoma, appearing in contemporary traditional Jewish prayer books for Yom Kippur, and studied as part of a traditional Jewish Yom Kippur worship service.[22]

While the Temple in Jerusalem was standing (from Biblical times through 70 C.E.), the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) was mandated by the Torah to perform a complex set of special services and sacrifices for Yom Kippur to attain Divine atonement, the word "kippur" meaning "atone" in Hebrew. These services were considered to be the most important parts of Yom Kippur because through them the Kohen Gadol made atonement for all Jews and the world. During the service, the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple, the only time of the year that anyone went inside. Doing so required special purification and preparation, including five immersions in a mikvah (ritual bath), and four changes of clothing.

Seven days prior to Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol was sequestered in the Palhedrin chamber in the Temple, where he reviewed (studied) the service with the sages familiar with the Temple, and was sprinkled with spring water containing ashes of the Red Heifer as purification. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) also reports that he practiced the incense offering ritual in the Avitnas chamber.

On the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol had to follow a precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications:


  • Morning (Tamid) Offering The Kohen Gadol first performed the regular daily (Tamid) offering — usually performed by ordinary priests — in special golden garments, after immersing in a mikvah and washing his hands and feet.
  • Garment Change 1 The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
  • Bull as Personal Sin-Offering The Kohen Gadol leaned (performed Semikha) and made a confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. The people prostrated themselves when they heard. He then slaughtered the bull as a chatat (sin-offering) and received its blood in a bowl.
  • Lottery of the goats At the Eastern (Nikanor) gate, the Kohen Gadol drew lots from a lottery box over two goats. One was selected "for the Lord", and one "for Azazel". The Kohen Gadol tied a red band around the horns of the goat "for Azazel".
  • Incense Preparation The Kohen Gadol ascended the mizbeach (altar) and took a shovel full of embers with a special shovel. He was brought incense. He filled his hands and placed it in a vessel. (The Talmud considered this the most physically difficult part of the service, as the Kohen Gadol had to keep the shovelful of glowing coals balanced and prevent its contents from dropping, using his armpit or teeth, while filling his hands with the incense).
  • Incense Offering Holding the shovel and the vessel, he entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies. In the days of the First Temple, he placed the shovel between the poles of the Ark of the Covenant. In the days of the Second Temple, he put the shovel where the Ark would have been. He waited until the chamber filled with smoke and left.
  • Sprinkling of Bull's Blood in the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the bull’s blood and entered the Most Holy Place again. He sprinkled the bull’s blood with his finger eight times, before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second. The Kohen Gadol then left the Holy of Holies, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  • Goat for the Lord as Sin-Offering for Kohanim The Kohen Gadol went to the eastern end of the Israelite courtyard near the Nikanor Gate, laid his hands (semikha) on the goat "for the Lord", and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim (priests). The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. He then slaughtered the goat, and received its blood in another bowl.
  • Sprinkling of Goat’s Blood in the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the goat’s blood and entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies again. He sprinkled the goat’s blood with his finger eight times the same way he had sprinkled the bull’s blood. The blood was sprinkled before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Kadosh Hakadashim, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  • Sprinkling of blood in the Holy Standing in the Hekhal (Holy), on the other side of the Parochet from the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol took the bull's blood from the stand and sprinkled it with his finger eight times in the direction of the Parochet. He then took the bowl with the goat's blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner, putting it back on the stand.
  • Smearing of blood on the Golden (Incense) Altar The Kohen Gadol removed the goat’s blood from the stand and mixed it with the bull's blood. Starting at the northeast corner, he then smeared the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the Golden (Incense) altar in the Haichal. He then sprinkled the blood eight times on the altar.

Cliffs of Mount Azazel
  • Goat for Azazel The Kohen Gadol left the Haichal and walked to the east side of the Azarah (Israelite courtyard). Near the Nikanor Gate, he leaned his hands (Semikha) on the goat "for Azazel" and confessed the sins of the entire people of Israel. The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. While he made a general confession, individuals in the crowd at the Temple would confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sent the goat off "to the wilderness". In practice, to prevent its return to human habitation, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off its edge.
  • Preparation of sacrificial animals While the goat "for Azazel" was being led to the cliff, the Kohen Gadol removed the insides of the bull, and intertwined the bodies of the bull and goat. Other people took the bodies to the Beit HaDeshen (place of the ashes). They were burned there after it was confirmed that the goat "for Azazel" had reached the wilderness.
  • Reading the Torah After it was confirmed that the goat "for Azazel" had been pushed off the cliff, the Kohen Gadol passed through the Nikanor Gate into the Ezrat Nashim (Women’s Courtyard) and read sections of the Torah describing Yom Kippur and its sacrifices.
  • Garment change 2 The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet both before removing the linen garments and after putting on the golden ones.
  • Offering of Rams The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar. He dismembered the rams and burned the parts entirely on the outer altar. He then offered the accompanying mincha (grain) offerings and nesachim (wine-libations).
  • Musaf Offering The Kohen Gadol then offered the Musaf offering.
  • Burning of Innards The Kohen Gadol placed the insides of the bull and goat on the outer altar and burned them entirely.
  • Garment change 3 The Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  • Removal of Incense from the Holy of Holies The Kohen Gadol returned to the Holy of Holies and removed the bowl of incense and the shovel.
  • Garment Change 4 The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed into a third set of golden garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  • Evening (Tamid) Offering The Kohen Gadol completed the afternoon portion of the regular (tamid) daily offering in the special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet a tenth time.
The Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen), immersed in the mikvah five times, and washed his hands and feet ten times. Sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (meal) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur). The Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times. The Tetragrammaton was pronounced three times, once for each confession.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

To Sign or Not to Sign



I have been asked to sign the Filial Correction, I signed the letter of the 45 academics and pastors last year, and almost immediately found Cardinal Nichols' tanks parked on my lawn to inform me of his displeasure, which was quite mild unlike other lay signatories, who were sacked from their jobs in Catholic institutions for their pains, Dr. Josef Seifertis being the most high profile. I admit it, I am afraid to sign and I know other priests who share my fear. Many of those who might have signed have in the last four years have a certain fear about their place in the Church.

Rome and those surrounding the Pontiff have certainly become more vicious in defending him, never ever engaging in intellectual arguments, merely attacking like ravenous wolves or child bullies those who pose questions. The climate is bad throughout the Church, in Rome it is positively toxic. Under Francis the Vatican has become a place of fear and arbitrary oppression, there was a public glimpse of that in the sacking of Cdl Mueller by the Pope, and earlier in the dismissal of a couple of priests from the CDF and amongst laymen of Libero Milone, former Auditor General and many others. It is not just in theology that 2+2=5, or whatever number the Pope chooses that day, it extends to morality and ordinary human decency, ultimately it is a serious attack on the rationality of the Catholic faith and intellectual rigour.

The abusive attacks on any one who asks legitimate filial questions or even of people like Cardinal Burke and the other "Dubia Cardinas" or even Cdls Sarah or Mueller  by the likes Austen Ivereigh, Rosica or Spadaro merely echo the statements of the notoriously immoderate Cardinal Madriaga the senior member of the Pope's Council of Nine or the shocking insults always aimed at faithful Catholics by the Pope himself. Let us not even go to the shenanigans and manipulation surrounding the Synod on the Family

The men who rule the Church are not even in the worldly sense good, as the former Prefect of the CDF has said "power has become more important than truth". It would be easy to dwell on the gay chem-sex parties hosted in the Vatican City itself and the advancement of those with a gay agenda, which produces apparently no reaction, not even a dismissal. In the matter of financial mismanagement and corruption, there appears to be window dressing masking inaction, John Allen seems to think this is the big issue above others. In fact, maybe because Francis centralises and 2+2 = whatever he decides, many of those in Rome suggest things have never been worse, a 'kingdom of brigands' as one former Nuncio described it.

Dioceses are not Rome but they do reflect Rome, Cardinals and bishops intimidate clergy and others who are faithful, if Francis has done anything it is to highlight a deep rift in the Church, marked by the quite extraordinary rise of an Ultramontane/Liberal faction against those who are faithful. Many bishops, who are often chosen for not for fidelity to Christ nor depth of learning nor moral fibre, not even their pastoral abilities but for their admin skills are quite happy to side with that faction which has power at the moment, moving Vicar of Bray-like from convinced Wojtyłaians to Ratzingeriansw to Bergoglianians..

Therefore one of the chief reasons for my reticence in signing is my fear and cowardice.

Another reason is that I like any other Catholic have a deep reverence for the person of the Sovereign Pontiff, it is not Ultramontane and unquestioning but I have a problem in directly accusing him of heresy or of promoting it, or even of tolerating it. Some might say the evidence is overwhelming, I can't dispute that but there is a bit of me that hopes against hope, because frankly having a Pope who is heretical, promoting or tolerating heresy is so horrific for the Church I would prefer to put off admitting it. I feel more comfortable with that idea that the Pope is weak, ill, manipulated by his ministers. Certainly, the days of John Paul inadvertently misspeaking and ordering the destruction of whole editions of L'Osservatore are long gone with the coming of the internet.

I admire those who have signed, a friend who has signed said the question is WWSJFSTMD, What Would St John Fisher and St Thomas More Do?

At the moment I am like the majority of the priests I know, who remain silent and praying that the question is not put to them,

I know it is not worthy of Christ, conscience says one thing, fear and self-serving, what some might call prudence, says something else.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The House Falls and the Sensus Fidelium





I am sure there have been psycho popes in the past, as much as there have been a few heretical ones, as there have been downright wicked ones.

Quite recently there was quite a lot of talk on the web, not from serious media though, of ‘schism’. I suspect there was a feeling that somehow the “dubia cardinals” would rise up and by some strange legal act would create a new pope. There was also discussion of the invalidity of Pope Francis’ election that was pure nonsense. 

Pope’s theologically hold office by popular acclamation and acceptance by the Church of Rome and the bishops and clergy throughout the world, how they get there isn’t that important. 'Legality' doesn't quite enter into it, in the past armies have, as have bribery or imprisonment and torture of opposing Cardinals. Simple question: who do we pray for at Mass? Except for odd people it’s Jorge Bergoglio reigning as Pope Francis. There is no other Pope.

I am told that the old question Suarez and others raised about the deposition of a Pope has become a popular subject for doctoral study in certain Canon Law faculties. There was a conference on it in Paris recently.

I am not sure that the relationship of Church and pope works quite so cleanly, especially today. A proper understanding of the sensus fidelium gives a clue. “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice …… And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” It is not a formal act that separates the sheep from the stranger, it is simply they don’t hear him. In the same way that the people heard Jesus and didn’t hear the scribes and pharisees because “he spoke with authority”.  In the same way “one cannot pick figs from thorns”, and houses built on sand will fall and lamps hidden under tubs do not give light to the house, one can tell a tree by its fruit.

Schism does indeed have a legal definition but the main problem is that our churches, our seminaries, our convents are empty, people aren't marrying. Though people might turn out in vast numbers to see the spectacle of a pope in the streets of Bogata on a Brazilian beach in reality they simply don’t hear him. It is the same with bishops and priests: the sheep do not hear them or follow them.

This is what “schism” is really about in modern times, it is not sharp division of ecclesiastical institutions but lapsation, a refusal or inability to hear the Church’s leadership.  Like the scribes and Pharisees, separated from Christ, they have no authority. Speaking in their own voice they have nothing to say. In fact as we see today in surveys bishops are mistrusted even more than local priests, when they are true pastors they are effective and loved but so often they have merely an administrative role distinct from the word of God.

There has been a lot talk about the older form of the Mass and Orthodoxy attracting young people, I think this is true, or at least it produces vocations and committed Catholics but it is not necessarily something to celebrate, it appears to be attractive because the rest of the Church is failing.

Like older form of Mass, the older form catechesis, of preaching, or living as a priest or even being Church is all linked to the fons et culmen the Mass. Change the rites and the theological ground is changed, rock can easily become swamp or quicksand, and the house .... it falls.





Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pope mobile doesn't stop


In this video the 'pope mobile'  almost runs over someone who gets in the way rather than stopping to check on whether the man is injured or not, it continues on its way.

I don't know whether the pope's chauffeur is the same one who braked abruptly and caused the Pope to fall and cut his face, which was widely reported.

What I find surprising is the lack of media attention to this event and the lack of concern over the man. Perhaps things are different Columbia, in the rest of the world a vehicle that is involved in an accident would be expected to stop and even if the law doesn't, charity does.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Going into Reverse


Reverse gearThe Servus Servorum Dei recently said to a meeting of Italian liturgists, regarding the liturgy, that with his magisterial authority he declared post-concilliar liturgical changes are ‘irreversible’. As with many of the things he says, I am left wondering quite what he means, or even whether it contained any meaning at all.

It is a truism surely, what has happened in the past can't be reversed; an act of iconclasm cannot be undone, a smashed statue might be glued together but it still bears the marks of the violence done to it, and the community (like Italian liturgists) accustomed to violence seem to have that tendency in their psychological make-up, even a great deal of psychotherapy or analysis won't effect a cure, the only cure is a biological solution, the passing away of a generation.

The thing is that so much of the 'innovations' of the 1970s/80s rather than appealing to the young or even the middle-aged nowadays, chase them away. Again, again though the Pope says their is no reversal we do see bishops reversing what their predecessors did; in England and Wales, we've had a return to meatless Fridays and this week two of or Holy Days have been restored to their proper dates. It might indeed be that most Catholics haven't realised  the sinfulness of a bacon sandwich and it will take sometime to return to full churches on a Holy Day but this strikes me as being a reversal.

May our bishops having discovered the reverse gear, use it frequently! Bless them.


CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENTS Prot. No. 180/17 ENGLAND AND WALES
To His Eminence, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having taken into consideration the letter received on 21st February 2017, by virtue of the faculty attributed to this Congregation by the Supreme Pontiff FRANCIS, we willingly grant that in future, in the calendar specific to the same Conference, the celebration of the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated on its particular day, namely, forty days after Easter; the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord on its particular day, namely, 6th January. When the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord falls on a Saturday, it is to be assigned to the Sunday following; when on a Monday, to the Sunday preceding. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,
4th August 2017, on the feast of St John Mary Vianney, presbyter.
Robert Card. Sarah Prefect
+Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary