25 August 2015
The annual LMS pilgrimage to Walsingham will take place this coming Bank Holiday weekend. Those walking from Ely to Walsingham, a mere 55 miles over two and a half days, will assemble on the Thursday evening in Ely. Others, who prefer just to attend at Walsingham, can gather for Mass, which will be at the Catholic Shrine at 2pm on Sunday 30th August. It will be followed by a procession to the ruins of the old abbey and the site of the holy house. This year, Fr John Cahill will be the principal chaplain, and he will be assisted by Fr Michael Rowe, who is visiting from Australia. Fr Rowe was on the pilgrimage two years ago, when he livened up the event. Also there will by 5 Franciscan Friars doing the walk. It is too late now to book in for the walk from Ely, but please do join the walkers for Mass in Walsingham and in walking the Holy Mile.
24 August 2015
In the last article, I mentioned that figures for the number of priests ordained each year in England and Wales are not published in any official publication of Bishops' Conference. At one time, these figures, along with many others were printed in the Catholic Directory, but have been omitted for many years. This would be really useful information, and should be published. There is a National Office for Vocations, and one would think that providing statistical information about ordinations would be just the type of thing that it would do.
22 August 2015
It has recently been announced by the bishops conference of the United States that there have been 595 ordinations to the priesthood this year in the US. This compares with 477 last year and 497 in 2013. Apparently the average age of the ordinands is 34. Whilst one should not read too much into a single year's figures, the increase of 118 over last year (about 25%) is surely significant. These new priests would, in most cases, have commenced their training in 2008 or 2009, during the papacy of Benedict XVI and shortly after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. This could be considered as evidence of the so called Benedict bounce, although we could do with the figures for the next two years to be sure of this. This is a welcome improvement, but is insufficient to halt the decline in the number of priests in the USA. There would need to be nearly 1,000 ordinations each year to maintain the present numbers. However, the USA is in a much better position than England and Wales so far as the supply of future priests is concerned. It is regrettable that the bishops of England and Wales do not publish similar information. Without it, one cannot be very sure how we stand for priests in the future.
20 August 2015
I wrote a little while ago about the Extraordinary Chapter of the English Benedictine Congregation, called to discuss the serious decline in the number of novices in their monasteries. Readers may recall that one of the suggestions put forward by younger monks was that "the usus antiquior should be de-stigmatized". I read today of some evidence that this really works. Silverstream Priory was formed five or six years ago in County Meath in Ireland by an American Benedictine, Fr Mark Kirby. He did this entirely on his own, with no help, except from his dog. Now we read that there are four fully professed monks, including Fr Kirby, at Silverstream, with the prospect of more novices likely to join. Now, what is so special about Silverstream Priory, for it to be growing so quickly? One answer is that there is no stigma attached to the usus antiquior there. It could be that the younger monks of the English Benedictine Congregation have put their fingers on exactly what is required for the rejuvenation of their monasteries.
18 August 2015
We have in England three dioceses, where the bishop has designated a church specifically for the use of the faithful attached to the older form of the Mass. In each case, care of the church has been passed to one of the traditional orders of priests. They are in New Brighton (Diocese of Shrewsbury), Preston (Diocese of Lancaster) and Warrington (Archdiocese of Liverpool). In the first two cases it is the Institute of Christ the King that is in charge, and the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter will soon be taking over in Warrington. However, none of these are parish churches. In each case, two or more parishes have been merged, so that the church in question is within the boundaries of a larger parish with its principal church and parish priest located elsewhere. At New Brighton and Preston, the churches have been designated as shrines to the Blessed Sacrament. So far, no English Bishop has designated a parish that is mainly or exclusively for those who adhere to the traditional forms of the Mass. This is not the case in other parts of the world. Bishop Olsen of Fort Worth has recently erected the Parish of St Benedict in Fort Worth as a Personal Parish exclusively for the extraordinary form. The term personal parish means that the parish is not defined by geographical boundaries, but rather open to anyone within the diocese who choses to attend. The parish priest has all the same duties and privilages of any other parish priest. Fort Worth is not the only diocese to have a personal parish devoted to the extraordinary form. There are about 40 personal parishes in the USA, and they also exist in Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, France, Gabon, Italy, Mexico and Nigeria. Although three English bishops have taken a bold step in handing over churches to the FSSP and the ICKSP, bishops in other parts of the world have bee even bolder. No doubt, the time will come when we will have personal parishes in England.
17 August 2015
The number of people attending Vespers on Sunday evenings at 6pm St Wilfrid's Church in York is usually small, but it has been building up recently. Yesterday there were 30 in the congregation, and the total attendance including clergy, servers and choir was about 45. This is the highest number so far. Both choir and clergy are far more confident in the singing of the psalms etc than they were when Vespers were first introduced. I would go as far as to say that the singing has reached a pretty high standard. In fact one visitor commented that the singing of Vespers was better in York than it is at the Brompton Oratory! I do encourage people to try attending Vespers. When sung well, it is a really beautiful service, and there is the added bonus of Benediction afterwards.
08 August 2015
Since the feast of the Assumption (15th August) falls on a Saturday this year, there will be no Latin Mass for the feast on that day at St Wilfrid's Church in York. This is because the normal vigil Mass for the Sunday will be taking place at the time when it is usual to have a Latin Mass on Holy Days of Obligation. There will, however, be a Mass of the Assumption on the Friday at 6pm.
07 August 2015
The Tablet (please accept my apologies for mentioning it) has carried an article about the English Benedictines Congregation holding an Extraordinary General Chapter to consider the declining number of vocations. It was preceded by by a forum which included younger monks and nuns from the 13 communities that make up the EBC. Various papers were produced by these younger community members attending the forum, and these were later considered by the General Chapter. The paper on the subject of liturgy included the assertion that there was a need to destigmatize the Extraordinary Form. The message from younger Benedictines seem to be: If you want more monks and nuns, have more Tridentine Masses. A fuller report can be found on the blog, Dominus mihi adjutor.
06 August 2015
Last night's sung Mass in Hull went well. We were fortunate to have Fr Leworthy as celebrant, who was able to ensure that not too much went wrong. I had to act as both MC and thurifer, which would present no difficulty to someone more competent than me, but I did find it a little challenging. With a little help from Fr Leworthy, my mistakes were probably not too obvious to the congregation. There were two other servers, one of whom had never served at a traditional Mass before, and the other's experience was limited to one Low Mass. Nevertheless, both did very well as acholytes. The Rudgate Singers lifted the occasion to one appropriate for such a fine church. The congregation was a little smaller than usual, and this is almost certainly due to some of the regular attenders being on holiday. I was delighted to see a reporter and photographer from the Hull Daily Mail in attendance. Many photographs were taken and the reporter spoke to several of the congregation. I am hoping that this will result in a big spread in the paper. Readers of the Hull Daily Mail, please keep an eye out.
Fr Michael Brown, Northern Chaplain to the Latin Mass Society, has a post in his blog, Gateshead Revisited, in which he discusses the treatment of Irish seminarians at Maynooth. The website, Irish Catholic, has reported that six of the ten Maynooth seminarians who have recently completed pastoral placements were recommended to take time out from their priestly training to reconsider their vocations. It is suggested that the reason for this recommendation is that "their theological views are at the conservative end of the spectrum". This is probably a euphemism for saying that they prefer to kneel during the consecration when attending Mass. Apparently, three of the six will be returning to Maynooth in the autumn, after intervention by their bishops. My first observation is that, if six out of ten are at the conservative end, there cannot be many at the liberal end - perhaps one or two, but more likely none at all! The obvious conclusion is that the Church in Ireland needs to look to the "conservative end of the spectrum" if it is to have even a modest number of priests to serve the generations to come. My second thought is to enquire: Who is to blame for the disastrous fall in the number of priestly ordinations in Ireland in recent decades? There will be many reasons for the decline, including growth of materialism and changes in social attitudes. However, the failure of the Irish hierarchy to recognise and foster good candidates is undoubtedly a major factor. The authorities of Maynooth have, in this year alone, apparently tried to dissuade six men who had reached an advanced stage of their training from pursuing their priestly vocation , because they represent the conservative end of the spectrum. How many more have received this type of treatment over the years? How many more have never reached the seminary door because they realise that they belong to the conservative end of the spectrum? I would guess that there are thousands in these categories who would have gone on to be good priests, if only they had been given some encouragement. So who is to blame for the shortage of priests?
03 August 2015
I have been sent brief information about the weekend pilgrimage for young Catholic adults to be held at Aylesford Priory on 31st October and 1st Nov. Aylesford, which is in Kent, was a Carmalite Priory in pre-Reformation times, that was dissolved by Henry VIII, but was repurchased by the Carmalites in modern times. The Retreat will include a sung High Mass, talks, rosaries etc. For details and to book please go to the Young Catholic Adults website or their facebook page
I am pleased to report that three members of the Rudgate Singers will be coming to the Latin Mass to be held at St Charles Church in Hull at 6.30pm on Wed 5th August This will enable a full Missa Cantata with the Propers sung to the tones of the Liber Usualis. The Mass will be of Our Lady, celebrating the feast of Our Lady of the Snows. The celebrant will be Fr Simon Leworthy, who will be leaving St Charles Church later in August to take over another parish. I am hoping that he will be able to find the time to celebrate Latin Masses more frequently. This Mass has been arranged as a Missa Cantata at the request of some of the congregation. After the July Mass, a few people stayed behind to practice singing the Ordinary parts of Missa de Angelis. We made a sufficiently good job of it to make the decision to give it a go. The news that members of the Rudgate Singers will be attending will ensure that everything will go well. A Latin Mass takes place in Hull on the first Wednesday of every month. Currently it is at 6.30pm in St Charles Church, although consideration will be given to moving to another church in the winter months to save on heating costs. The usual celebrant is Fr Peter Mulholland.
01 August 2015
A few weeks ago, it was announced that Bishop Philip Egan of the Portsmouth Diocese was to create a bi-ritual parish in Gosport, which is not far from Portsmouth. The church chosen was St Mary's and Fr Seraphino Lanzetta, who formerly belonged to the Franciscans of the Immaculate, together with some brothers arrived in the parish in mid June. An additional Latin Mass was introduced each weekday (7.30am Mon to Fri and 9.30am Sat), but otherwise the schedule of Masses was left unchanged, including Sundays when the only Masses (9.15am and 11.00am) remain Novus Ordo. An item in the parish newsletter announced that there were to be meetings following the Saturday Latin Mass to give guidance to parishioners on following the Mass in its traditional Latin form. The latest edition of The Tablet (that periodical that claims to be Catholic, but devotes most of its energies to attacking the Catholic Church) includes an item headed "Friars accused of taking parish back in time". It quotes two women as making claims that that turn out to be totally false and without foundation. It is interesting to note that these claims have now been deleted from the website edition. There is more detail in Fr Brown's blog, Gateshesd Revisited. This incident demonstrates yet again what a disreputable periodical The Tablet is. Firstly, they have printed a story based on information that was not only incorrect, but malicious. Secondly, they clearly failed to check out a story, which was based on assertions that were so improbable, that anyone with any knowledge of Catholic affairs would regard with suspicion. Thirdly, the story was already five weeks out of date. They are clearly slow in picking up news at The Tablet. As has often happened in the past, The Tablet has scored an own goal. Whilst trying to ridicule Bishop Egan and his moves to make the traditional Mass more widely available, The Tablet succeeded in giving publicity to the bi-ritual parish in Gosport, whilst ending up with egg on its own face. We must hope that a later move will be to include a Sunday Latin Mass in the parish schedule.