Saturday 9 April 2011

Passiontide Begins...

When I first came back to the Church and took an interest in things liturgical, I was vaguely aware that there was an option to veil statues in the week before Holy Week. I understood that the statues and crucifixes were veiled because Christ hid himself (John 8: 59) before finally entering Jerusalem for his Passion, but I wasn't aware of any reason for having this done a week before Holy Week rather than, say, the beginning of Lent.

I'd never heard the term "Passiontide" and, in any case, I would have thought it referred to Holy Week, because, in the Novus Ordo, Palm Sunday is also called Passion Sunday. I thought that "Passion Sunday" referred to the reading of the Passion at Mass from one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Of course, when one attends the Extraordinary Form of Mass, all becomes clear. Passion Sunday is actually the week before Palm Sunday, and the Gospel reading is the one ending "Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple."

Clifford Carvalho put things very well:

"...we begin the season of Passiontide. It is when our Lenten practices get even more intense. We started light during Septuagesima. We got more intense during Lent. Now we get even more intense during Passiontide."

The gradual heightening of awareness as one approaches the Triduum is something to treasure. I would often get quite annoyed because Ash Wednesday would catch me unprepared - especially if Easter was early - but, in the Extraordinary calendar there's a countdown - we start with Septuagesima Sunday and work our way up to Lent, which is plenty of time to consider how we can mark the penitential season. And then, after the brief respite offered by Laetare Sunday, we plunge into Passiontide, aware that this is the final push before the intensity of the Triduum and Easter Sunday, and it allows us to recoup our flagging enthusiasm for our Lenten efforts.

Of course, it's only if one is involved in veiling the statues, crucifixes and images of saints that one realises how many of them there actually are...

A happy and holy Passiontide to you all!

UPDATE: The inimitable Fr. Z has an excellent post on the gradual intensification of the penitential season, along with a poll about whether you have veiling at your parish.

Friday 8 April 2011

A Bit Of A Flutter...

Tomorrow sees the Grand National at Aintree. This is an annual race which seems to get the whole country going to the bookmakers to place a bet. It's the only race on which I remember my father ever placing a bet - though, to be strictly accurate, he actually joined the sweepstake at his workplace and picked out Red Rum, the favourite. The poor man kept having to leave the living room where we were watching the race as he couldn't stand the tension. Red Rum went on to win.

I was in the parish club this evening after Stations of the Cross when it was announced that there would be a sweepstake for tomorrow's race. Obviously I had to have a go. I picked an envelope and found that my horse is Golden Kite, a complete outsider. So much of an outsider, in fact, that he only snuck in at the last minute because some other horses were withdrawn...

I don't think I need to hold my breath.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Baronius Press Breviary...

It seems that Baronius Press has finally managed to get a little closer to publication of the Roman Breviary in Latin and English.

I'm very, very interested, but can't quite afford the £230 asking price at the moment... I shall have to start saving, or hope that someone tries to sell a discount version on ebay.

However, Baronius is not quite ready for pre-orders yet. They're actually asking for people to indicate interest in being given the pre-order date. Pre-ordering the pre-order, so to speak.

Twitch of the mantilla to Shawn Tribe for the heads-up!

A Tale Of Two Musicians...

Well, ok... one musician and one hymn-composer. I'm being generous with the term "hymn."

Joseph Shaw has an excellent rebuttal of the rather mean-spirited (and rather skewed) comments from Paul Inwood on how there are dreadful priests who should be taken to task by their bishops when they do things to the liturgy which the people don't like.

The problem lies in one's idea of what liturgy actually is, of course.

If one believes liturgy to be people coming together to have a good time and a bit of a sing-along to praise God, then yes, the views of the people would matter. But, if (as happens to be the case) the liturgy is the official worship of God by the Church, then the personal likes and dislikes of the people don't actually come into play.

The Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form are two valid forms of the one Roman Rite. Both forms should be available for the people of God. Naturally, in the average parish, this means that one Mass is likely to have to be changed: it's up to the Parish Priest to decide which one that should be.

Of course, Mr. Inwood is probably still smarting because the corrected translation of the Mass means that pieces such as his Alleluia-ch-ch ditty and Gathering Mass settings can no longer be used, even in the Novus Ordo. And, in his heart of hearts, he possibly blames the Extraordinary Form and its adherents, because, after all, there is a certain gravitational pull from the usus antiquior. Something to do with the idea that this isn't just a celebratory meal, but it's a sacrifice, and we're at the foot of the cross on Calvary not a community get-together.

The gravitational pull is demonstrated in this excellent article by the musician I mentioned: James MacMillan has only attended three Extraordinary Form Masses so far, but he's been very positively inspired by what he's seen...

Wednesday 6 April 2011


Groups such as Marie Stopes insist that they are "pro-choice." So why are they not loudly condemning China's one-child policy which uses forced abortions and sterilisations?

Instead, Marie Stopes International welcomed China's Minister of National Population and Family Planning Commission, Lin Bin, to its London offices.

The one-child policy is being carried out with the cooperation of groups such as Marie Stopes International, the United Nations Family Planning Association (UNFPA) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) - these are listed as abortion providers operating in China. In 2008, the U.S. Secretary of State identified the UNFPA as being complicit in coercive family planning.

Back in 1991, the UNFPA representative in China stated that the reports of coercion were exaggerated. Well, it seems that the coercion is so exaggerated that family members are being murdered by the Family Planning officials, and nothing is done about it.

Marie Stopes, the UNFPA and IPPF and their ilk aren't pro-choice. They're anti-life.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Kitty Explorers...

The kittens have finally conquered the catflap. I realised that both kittens were a little wary of the height of the jump to the ledge, so I put out a wooden chair to make things a little easier while they're getting the hang of it all. Today I taped open the catflap and settled down to watch as both kittens ventured outside without any coaxing...

After watching them both have a good old sniff around the bushes, I pushed both kittens back through the flap and removed the tape holding the flap open. I then walked back home (I don't have a back door, so I have to go right around the block.) By the time I got back inside, the inevitable had happened (as I'd hoped) and both kittens had pushed their way out through the flap so that they could explore some more.

Just to check that they knew how to get back in, I rattled their food bowls and gave them some biscuits. Both cats came tearing back through the catflap without any problems. Furretti then settled down to munch her biscuits, while Miaowrini decided that she wasn't quite ready for biscuits and went back outside.

Now I'm sure they know how to get back in, I can let them out on their own.

Next step - encouraging them to use the bushes rather than the litter tray...

A Hair-Raising Effort...

You might remember my mentioning a little girl called Beatrix who wanted to donate her hair to help make wigs for children who'd lost their own hair through illness, and she had the wonderful idea of getting sponsorship to support her favourite charity.

Well, all went according to plan. Her hair was chopped off into a very fetching bob, and so far she has raised £1202 - more than her initial target of £1000. The charity page is still open for donations, if any of you are so inclined.

More About The Ordinariate...

Copyright Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham 
I posted a report of Monsignor Keith Newton's audience with the Holy Father on Friday. I'm delighted to see that the Ordinariate blog has actually got a Flickr account, and the photos from the audience have been put up.

The Holy Father was given a collection of the photographs of the Ordinariate groups and the first ordinations, along with a copy of Fr Michael Rear's new book about pilgrimage to Walsingham, and an image of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Copyright Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
For a more personal view of what it means to be a member of the Ordinariate preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter, I heartily recommend reading Mark Greaves' excellent article in the Catholic Herald Online.

A Little Encouragement For Pro-Lifers...

A twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Ray Blake for this encouraging video. Does anyone know what the soundtrack is?

Monday 4 April 2011

A Glimpse Of The New CTS Missal...

Things are certainly moving apace... the CTS have now got together a prototype of the new Altar Missal which will be on sale in November, and a price list.

It is beautiful. I particularly like the ribbons (which seems to be the way ribbons were arranged in the past, rather than the rather clunky ribbons in the current versions of Altar Missals... I speak as someone who has had to arrange said ribbons when setting everything up for Mass, and trying to make them lie flat is a real pain!) and the beautiful artwork. No doubt some will complain that there's no point to such illustrations because the only person to see the Missal will be the priest. Personally I think that it's even more important to remind the priest that what he's reading from is a sacred liturgical book, which should be treated with reverence and honour.

It is reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts...

The price will be £230 - but pre-publication discounts have been promised, to be announced after Easter. It sounds expensive, but, in reality, it's not that much. In a medium-sized parish it works out at about 50 pence per parishioner... maybe £1 each in a smaller parish...

Anyway, have a look at what you get for your money...

Help A Hermit...

I first met Fr. George Byers when he was a chaplain at Lourdes and I was helping to organise the Parish Pilgrimage, back in 2008 (I think.) In 2009, just before he left Lourdes, Fr. George arranged for our group to have Mass at the parish church in Lourdes - a wonderful experience.

After a period of teaching in seminary, Fr. George has decided to follow his vocation as a hermit. This was a bit of a shock, as I'd always assumed that a hermit would tend to be of a rather solitary, almost anti-social frame of mind... and I can't quite picture Fr. George as anti-social and solitary. However, it seems that this has been a long-cherished dream of his. You can find out more about his work via his blog, Holy Souls Hermitage.

Anyway, Fr. George is setting up his hermitage on the Blue Ridge Mountains - of North Carolina. No, I didn't think they were in North Carolina either. But my geography is pretty dire.*

He intends to offer up his prayers and penances for the sanctification of priests and bishops, living and dead. The Holy Souls Hermitage needs quite a bit of support as it's starting out, so any donations will be gratefully received. The Benefactors Page gives details of how you can donate money, and the sidebar has links to pages giving specific details of items which are needed, like altar breads, candles and so on. I believe that the chainsaw shown in the photo above is lacking a chain, for example. Fr. George will pray daily for benefactors and offer Mass for them about once a month.

Those of us who can't afford to support the Hermitage financially are asked to pray for Fr. George and his work. Prayers are always welcome!

* For anyone wondering where I thought those mountains actually are...

Sunday 3 April 2011

Lost In Translation...?

I don't speak Latin. I know little bits and pieces from the Mass (for many years the only Latin I knew was "Kyrie, eleison!" ...the rest was all Greek to me...) and from singing stuff like Mozart's Ave verum. I've come to recognise quite a bit from the Psalms because I typed out the Rossini Propers for the choir to use at the Extraordinary Form Mass.

But I don't really know any Latin.

I do know several people who do know Latin, and know it extremely well. And they have assured me that the current ICEL translations we use at Mass are dreadful. In addition, through my reading of the writings of many of the saints of the Church, I had come to the conclusion that even the translation of the Scriptures left much to be desired. I also picked up the discrepancies in translation through praying the Divine Office, first using the standard English texts (ICEL again) and then looking at the English translations given in the Benedictine Monastic Diurnal.

I wrote a post on it way back in 2007, explaining how some of the differences in translation had really major effects on the meaning.

Today, at Mass, the discrepancies in translation hit me like a thunderbolt. Like most Catholics who attend Mass regularly, I am very familiar with the account of the feeding of the five thousand as recorded in St. John's Gospel. So familiar, in fact, that occasionally I don't listen to it all that carefully any more. However, the translation used at the Extraordinary Form Mass is rather different to the Jerusalem Bible translation used in the Novus Ordo lectionary.

Fr. Tim read the Gospel in English before his sermon, as usual. All of a sudden, one verse jumped out at me: "And when they were filled, he said to his disciples: Gather up the fragments that remain, lest they be lost." (John 6:12) But this is currently translated as "When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, 'Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.'"

The thought which hit me so suddenly was that the ICEL translation in the Jerusalem Bible has completely twisted the meaning of the text, separating it from the Eucharistic overtones and making it into little more than a picnic meal, where you don't want to let food go to waste. The Douay-Rheims translation, on the other hand, with its use of the words "fragments" and "lost" brings out the parallel with the Sacrifice of the Mass - reflecting the care the priest takes when ensuring that no fragment of the Host is allowed to fall from the paten, and the care with which the corporal should be treated, being placed for protection in a burse, and being rinsed in water which is poured into the ground before being washed with other items. "Fragment" implies tiny particles as well as bigger ones, "pieces" makes you think of chunks of bread.

This is probably not news at all to the majority of my readers, but, as I said, I haven't had the luxury of reading and translating the original Latin for myself. It makes me even more keen to see the introduction of the new, corrected translation of the Mass.

Laetare Sunday...

Today being Laetare Sunday, the famous rose vestments were out. Not only that, but, to make sure that the full set got a thorough airing, our regular 10:30am Mass in the Extraordinary Form was celebrated as a Solemn High Mass.

Wonderful stuff.

Fr. Timothy Finigan, as Parish Priest, was celebrant, Rev. John Harrison was deacon ("on loan" from Chislehurst) and Fr. Bernard McNally was subdeacon.

This year, thanks to the kindness of various parishioners and some pretty nifty needlework by Maria and Hilda (and maybe some others in the team), we saw the debut of a new rose antependium.

In the past, I mistakenly understood the use of an antependium to be a way of covering up a visually unedifying altar, and I thought that it was unnecessary if one had a beautiful altar. Reading through various quotes (courtesy of that wonderful resource on all things liturgical, the New Liturgical Movement blog)on the use of the antependium shows how wrong this idea is - far from being a way of covering up an eyesore, it is because the altar represents Christ himself (indicated by the five crosses carved into the upper surface of the altar, for the five wounds) and it is therefore adorned "as with precious vestments." The stripping of the altar on Maundy Thursday, completely exposing the marble beneath the altar cloths, is made much more clearly symbolic of the stripping of Our Lord before his crucifixion.

I love how the Catholic faith pulls together the spiritual and the physical elements of worship - a reminder that we are both body and soul, and that Christ became incarnate for us, so the physical does matter.

As a further bit of symbolism, we had yellow roses on the altar and the sanctuary - it is traditional for golden roses to be given as a mark of the esteem and affection of the Roman Pontiff, and they are blessed on Laetare Sunday. Yellow ones (beautifully arranged by our sacristan, Hilda) were the best we could do, sadly, but it did make me wonder whether the vestiges of this tradition are seen in the preponderance of yellow flowers on sale in time for Mothering Sunday...

More photos can be seen over on my Flickr page.
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