Saturday, 28 April 2007

Motu proprio (again)

Latin Mass may offend Jews is the headline of the latest version (in today's [London] Daily Telegraph) of what is surely the reddest of red herrings in the present long-running motu proprio saga. And I'm afraid many so-called 'traditionalist' Roman Catholics are to blame. Why? By referring, as they frequently do, to the pre-Vatican II eucharistic rite in the Catholic West as if it were a phenomenon that has remained unchanged for the best part of 400 years. In reality of course, the version set, as it were, in aspic in 1962 was but the point reached in a centuries-long process of liturgical evolution that was replaced by the rather different processes inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council.

A couple of months ago I bought a copy of the Baronius Press's 2004 edition of the The Daily Missal and Liturgical Manual from the Editio Typica of The Roman Missal and Breviary 1962. In the Foreword one reads that, 'while this volume is essentially a reprint of the edition published in 1962, certain elements of it have been updated to reflect modifications and additions that have taken place since that time, such as the norms contained in the Enchiridion of Indulgences promulgated by Pope Paul VI and the inclusion of the Mysteries of Light of the Holy Rosary recently proposed by Pope John Paul II. While the changes are few, they reflect an important fact, i.e. that the traditional rites are not antiques frozen in 1962, but are very much alive and continue to bear spiritual fruit in the Mystical Body of Christ in the 21st Century.'

Just so.

My 2004 edition replaced a (genuine) 1962 edition as well as one dated 1947. All three differ from one another and the changes between 1947 and 1962 are quite substantial. Given the present Pope's unquestioned liturgical literacy, I am perfectly certain that an officially sanctioned 2007 edition could at the very least address the sensibilities of our Jewish brothers and sisters and those in the English and French hierachies who would appear to be somewhat pre-occupied by such matters.

Of course I write as a mere Anglican who is pleased to record that the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer no longer requests divine deliverance 'From the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities.'

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Child abuse

I suggest we need to think rather carefully about some of the issues raised by the case of the latest choirmaster to be found guilty of abusing choirboys. Much of what I have read and heard on this subject so far today betrays an above average level of muddled thinking.

We can all, I hope, agree that the abuse of children is wrong. It would also seem that procedures now in place to safeguard children in this country are pretty stringent and, for the most part, effective. However these procedures and the attitudes that both feed and result from such procedures have changed markedly over the past ten or fifteen years.

What happened before then was different in that although most people thought the 'abuse' of children (I continue to use the catch-all pc term) was wrong, methods for dealing with such matters had not then been codified as they are now and therefore practice varied considerably. While by today's standards many aspects of the way responsible, competent individuals and organizations dealt with instances of paedophilic abuse were not at all satisfactory, we must, I think, be careful to avoid one of the besetting modern hypocrisies of judging the events and attitudes of the past through the narrow prism of current thinking. As a society we simply have to be able to accept that over time collective pre-occupations, to say nothing of notions of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour, change and it serves no useful purpose to exercise our other obsession with apportioning blame for current mishaps, retrospectively.

I write as a former chorister at a very well-known English cathedral. I was never abused in any meaningful sense nor am I aware that any of my contemporaries experienced such abuse. What I do recall is behaviour by certain adults which, if it were to occur today, would result in these individuals’ instant dismissal but probably not their prosecution. We were taught how to handle such situations and in doing so learned one of the many lessons children in every generation have to learn about a world and human environment beset by risk and danger.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

A tale of four cities and two walking sticks

Late last year I was planning to walk the last 100 kilometres or so of the pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostela with a group of friends. Sadly, other commitments got in the way so in the end I didn’t go. However in the meantime I had been shopping - for a pair of walking boots and a walking stick that would comply with the new restrictions on airline luggage. Clearly it was no longer possible to pitch up at a check-in desk with a stick of any kind so I found one that could unscrew in three parts and be packed in a suitcase.

I was rather proud of my new brass-headed cane so when six weeks ago I decided to realise my long-cherished wish to visit the Holy Land it was duly packed along with the ‘Spanish’ walking boots. Both proved extremely useful not least because the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem are in places extremely slippery and rubber soles and a stick with a rubber ferule forestalled a number of hard tumbles.

Then I took a bus to Bethlehem. The journey is described here. What I didn’t record was the fact that when I was talking to the driver on my way off the bus in Bethlehem, I omitted to pick up my stick! Given the interest shown in it previously by Jerusalem street traders, I imagine he will have got a good price for it. I certainly hope so.

Last night I browsed relevant sites on the internet for a replacement and at just after 1 am I placed an order. At five past nine this morning I had a call from the suppliers to say that, rather than putting the new stick in the post, could someone who wanted to come into the Ely market drop it off personally? At 9.35 - eight-and-a-half-hours after ordering it on line - I was the proud owner of a new walking stick. It is not a precise replica of the one now in or near Jerusalem but near enough.

St Alphege

Born about 953, St Alphege was successively a monk of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, a hermit in Somerset, Abbot of Bath and, in 984, bishop of Winchester in succession to St. Ethelwold. He was used as an emissary to placate the Danish invaders who came to London and Wessex in 994, converted their leader to Christianity, and persuaded them to withdraw. In 1005 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. Another Danish force now overran southern England (1011) and the king, the famously named Ethelred the Unready, was unable to cope with them, despite the payment of the tribute tax known as the Danegeld. They besieged Canterbury and took Alphege hostage, demanding an enormous ransom which the Archbishop refused to allow the people to pay. Finally, on this day in 1012, after a drunken feast, the Danes had Alphege axed to death at Greenwich.

Under King Canute, he was enshrined at Canterbury in 1023. Later, the Norman archbishop Lanfranc suspended the celebration, questioning whether Alphege was actually a martyr for the faith. The answer, supplied by St. Anselm, was that, like St. John the Baptist, Alphege was a martyr for justice and truth; the feast was then duly restored. By an act of prescience, St. Thomas Becket, in his last sermon at Canterbury before his murder, praised Alphege as the first Canterbury martyr.

I am grateful to the the website of The Sacret Heart Parish, Waterlooville for the above text and to Orthodox England for the icon of St Alphege.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

I prayed

A good short piece from Ruth Gledhill of The (London) Times about the shootings at Virginia Tech may be read here.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Anonymous comments

Earlier today I sanctioned the publication of an anonymous comment on the piece I wrote on 12 April (concisely) entitled Et unam sanctam Catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. While I'm loath to play censor, I do think if people have something to say they should come out into the open and say it and not hide behind a cloak of anonymity. So, reluctantly, I shall not in future publish comments by anyone unwilling to sign their name to what they've written. After all, if I'm prepared to make a fool of myself by what I say then so can you.

Ad multos annos

16 April 2007: Pope Benedict at 80
Ad multos annos, Father Joe

If there's anyone out there who is not aware of the fact, today also marks the latest 'deadline' for the publication of the promised papal motu proprio in terms of which priests will enjoy greater freedom to celebrate the 'Tridentine' mass. Needless to say the day passed without publication. Those wanting a chuckle on the subject will find it here. My thanks to the former Confused Anglopapist who since his trip across the Tiber is, I see, now merely a Confused Papist.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

St Etheldreda Cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham

Fr Keith Straughan celebrates Mass for members of the St Etheldreda Cell of the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral.

Afterwards Fr Keith blessed a newly-planted tree outside the Cathedral Centre. The tree has been donated donated by the Cell

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam

The current trials and tribulations within the Anglican Communion have understandably attracted a good deal of interest in and comment from the Catholic blogosphere and from those Anglicans on its fringes seen by the Romans as ripe conversion fruit. There's been a good deal of discussion on the Roman claims that it and it alone is 'the one holy catholic and apostolic Church' and I attempted to pull together some of the threads in one such discussion in my posting of 28 March entitled Roman Claims.

Now another rather different take on this with which I fully concur emerges in Fr Anthony Chadwick's always thought provoking site, In medio stat virtus. The piece in question is entitled Divided yet but one in Christ draws on an equally thoughtful piece in Daniel Mitsui's fascinatingly eclectric blog site which he calls The Lion and the Cardinal and which is well worth visiting. However in the context of the present posting, please follow the link Divided but yet one in Christ and thence to Daniel Mitsui's piece entitled Permanent Scars.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Holy Week

It's interesting to see how many bloggers have shut or are shutting down for Holy Week or at least for the Easter Triduum. There is considerable good sense in doing so and I am going to follow suit before leaving tomorrow morning for my spiritual home at Alton Abbey.