Sunday, September 26, 2010

Into the Lions' Den

I have to attend a conference for most of this week. I've been attending this one for some years as it's good to keep an eye on some of the ideas that are floating about the place. Over the years this conference has done some excellent work and produced some really useful publications. Whilst it has taken a lurch towards tradition it probably hasn't quite made it to the starting gate. It remains firmly rooted in the Novus Ordo despite the obvious groundswell at the younger end of those attending. I'm packing a private Mass kit as I doubt the conference centre (a convent) will have the necessary requisites. Things have come a long way. At the first of the conferences I attended I wasn't even allowed an altar. The range of speakers looks good however and I have hopes that the quiet presence of some of the traditionally minded at this conference will nudge it along in the right direction over the years.

I'm obviously not the only one with an eye on this particular group. A subtle rejigging of the coordinating group makes me think that the modernists are quite scared that this group is going to be lost to the cause and fall into a filthy sea of traditionalism. The alarm bells started sounding about six months ago when a couple of the modernist participants started moaning, on a notably liberal discussion board, of the conservative direction that this group was taking. I suspect this was picked up by 'interested parties' and some subtle direction was introduced on the grounds of 'not scaring the horses' or wishing to 'maintain as broad an ecumenical appeal as possible'.  Prayers please! I suspect a rocky road ahead.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Requiem aeternam

My intention at Mass this morning was for a priest who had just died. I know little about him apart from the fact the he was an older man who had held the faith and kept the faithful safe in various places during his priestly ministry. The Divine Office, at least as I know it, concludes with prayers for all the faithful departed, and they are always, at least, remembered in the Canon of the Mass. Still, it does worry me that we don't pray enough for the dead. We probably need to make up for the neglect of years, for those we have forgotten to pray for, for those poor souls who received attempted canonization rites rather than the prayers their souls desperately needed.

Our obligations to pray for the dead are not an option, not a devotion or duty that we dip into at leisure. But frail beings as we are we need help. There are several associations that continue to promote prayer for the faithful departed. Amongst these are the Holy Souls Crusade based in Ireland where other links will be found to prayers and organisations.

"The Holy Souls are eager for the prayers of the faithful which can gain indulgences for them. Their intercession is powerful. Pray unceasingly. We must empty Purgatory!" -- Saint Pius of Pietrelcina

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Said, as it is among us.

From Loss and Gain

To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses forever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words -- it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. Here becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity.

Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on, as if impatient to fulfill their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick, for they are all parts of one integral action, for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon, as when it was said in the beginning, "What thou doest, do quickly".

Quickly they pass, for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass, because as the lightning which shineth from one part of the heaven into the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass, for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the name of the Lord as He passed by, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth". And as Moses on the mountain, so we too "make haste to bow our heads to the earth, and adore".

So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, "waiting for the moving of the water", each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intentions, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation; not painfully and hopelessly, following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our place with God's priest, supporting him, yet guided by him.

There are little children there, and old men, and simple laborers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving, there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one Eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and the scope of it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A call to prayer

The Papal visit is now upon us and there are obviously mixed emotions about this event in the life of the nation and of the Church. The organisational problems have been reported, the 'official' liturgical booklet speaks for itself, and the detractors are out in force. The time for grumbling is probably over and the time for prayer starts. I suspect many have taken the wise decision to view these events from a distance. There are however a couple of 'fringe' events that may be of interest to traditional Catholics. Fr Armand de Malleray will celebrate Holy Mass in the crypt of Tyburn Convent at 2 p.m. on the day of the Hyde Park 'prayer vigil'. During the vigil itself a group will meet to pray outside the main 'event area'. Further details can be found on the FSSP website. May all the Holy Martyrs of this nation pray for us.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tradition on celluloid

The Hermeneutic of Continuity recently provided a much appreciated link to the Midnight Mass sequence in the 1940s film noir Christmas Holiday. Two other films sprung to mind which have good liturgical sequences relatively free of the innacuracies that normally plague representations of the liturgy on the big screen. The first is the opening sequence of the 1955 film The Prisoner starring Alec Guiness. Here we find a Cardinal about the business of pontifical ceremonies before being arrested. Made by Ealing Studios some of the pontificalia was borrowed from a neighbouring Benedictine Abbey. The second movie that springs to mind would be The Cardinal. The opening sequence of an episcopal consecration always seemed too accurate to be true until I discovered that the 'extras'  serving were actually monks familiar with pontifical ceremonies. All three films are well worth seeing particularly for their positive portrayal of the faith.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Anything you can 'trad' I can 'trad' better...

Around the time of the release of a certain papal document a young friend of mine wailed, half tongue in cheek, 'But Father! What are we going to complain about now?' I assured him that within the traditional movement(s) there will always be those who will find something not to their taste or not to their particular view of what the Church, and it's liturgy, was, is and should be. I had two immediate thoughts after the conversation. Firstly that I had rather been ignorant of these controversies. In the first decade of my Catholicism I'd never even heard the phrase third confiteor nor that it was of any reason for concern. Secondly that bells were ringing, so to speak more memories actually, of the inter parochial competition that used to exist in what proved to be the smouldering ashes of the anglo-catholic movement.

The story is told of  Catholic Cathedral which had nestling in the shadow of its triple spires one of the most prominent anglo-catholic church in that city. The Archbishop, quite elderly at the time but very sharp, dropped a handkerchief on the way out of Mass one day and the MC swooped to collect it with some ceremony. Five minutes later the same MC got a dressing down in the sacristy not because of any particular fussiness but rather because the archbishop was afraid that the rite of 'retrieving the celebrant's handkerchief' would be included in the ceremonies 'across the road' by the next Sunday.

Now we cannot ignore the fact that there are serious problems that we need to be concerned about and that there has been unwarranted tinkering with the way we worship for a long long time. We do, however, need to look behind the surface to see what is causing the ripples on the surface. It was said of an elderly relative of mine that she was never happy unless she was unhappy about something. I suspect this mentality exists within traditionalism. Are some of the current divisions and concerns amongst the traditionalist movement actually being fuelled by a underlying need to be a 'nation set apart' at all costs rather than the proclamation of objective truth?