Monday, November 30, 2009

Mass and Office in Advent

As my Advent intensification of vigilance, I have turned back to the Roman Breviary (since 1st Vespers on Saturday), and am planning to go to daily Mass (which entails the OF for the most part; shikata ga nai, it cannot be helped; I find it isn't as mediocre on weekdays, though still the EF is far preferable for its richness of expression and reverence).

This morning already I've read the (very long three Nocturn) Matins, and heard Mass of St Andrew at Carmel, and fittingly, in the recessional hymn, we sang a prayer for Scotland, my ancestral homeland:

The faith that Andrew taught once shone
O'er all this kingdom fair;
The cross that Jesus died upon
Was honoured everywhere.
But evil men that faith beat down,
Reviling Andrew's name;
The cross, though set in kingly crown,
Became a sign of shame.

Saint Andrew, now in bliss above,
Thy fervent prayers renew
That Scotland yet again may love
The faith, entire and true...

In numero et merito

An Advent thought: at the Elevation, I am minded in this season to pray the prayer Veni, Domine, Jesu, Adveniat regnum tuum, in numero et merito - "Come, Lord Jesu, Thy Kingdom come, in number and in merit" - that is, may Christ the King extend His visible empire to the whole world, that all men acknowledge Him and do Him homage by living lives fruitful in all kinds of good works and meritorious deeds, that by His grace we all be made holy as He is Holy. (This phrase, in numero et merito, derives from something the late Fr Pius Parsch wrote about Advent.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Birthday

To-day, the First Sunday of Advent, 2009, we held a belated birthday party...

No, we weren't wishing "happy birthday, Novus Ordo!" - for the 40th anniversary of the unhappy day of its foolish introduction on the First of Advent is strictly speaking to-morrow - but, after another Missa Cantata courtesy of Fr Popplewell (ere he return to Canberra), we had a shindig at the Greeners' residence for Simon's 50th.

(The Novus Ordo is obviously entering upon a mid-life crisis, as are all those who put their trust in it; and wickedly I suggested we sing Felix nativitas ad te, Nove Ordo, as an Offertory Motet, but this was turned down.)

"The Mass that wouldn't die" is alive and well: again, we had a sung Mass, at 10.30 am at St Canice; we had a choir of five - I was able to join in this time - and seven servers in the sanctuary, plus about fifty or sixty in the pews, both locals and the large number of friends and relatives from Canberra (Fr's parish) and Sydney who were in town for yesterday's nuptials.

I enjoyed singing Mass XVII (Deus Genitor alme), and the uplifting Propers (Ad te levavi et al.). For Offertory, we sang Creator alme siderum, and at Communion, Adoro te and Ave verum; Mass ended, we appended the simple Alma Redemptoris Mater. (It being Advent, there was no organ.) Fr Popplewell customarily offers the old Mass, which meant that it all flowed beautifully, lasting just over an hour, and he sings well, making the liturgy an improvement over the best efforts of dear Fr Quinn, who is only able to monotone his parts, and, only saying it once a month, is rather slow, as he has to read the rubrics as he goes.

After Mass, we had a great celebration together, as noted above; but all good things - except God - come to an end; so I had perforce to turn the car for points north, and head back to Launceston, arriving back home at a quarter to seven. 600 km driven this weekend since I drove out to the airport on Friday evening!

A Beautiful Wedding

In the end I didn't join the choir for the Nuptial Mass of Tomasz and Kazia, as I hadn't practised, and Mass V (Kyrie magnæ Deus potentiæ) was not familiar to me. However, the Mass setting chosen sounded admirable (kudos to Tony, Tony, Simon &c.), even if Tony - as we haven't ceased reminding him! - managed to sing it before the Pax, thus totally confusing the congregation! The organist played "in the French style" during the Ecce Agnus Dei, but that was the only other little point of criticism: the liturgy, with Fr Popplewell as celebrant of the Missa cantata, was beautiful.

Of course, the bride was radiant, and only ten minutes late... during her entrance, James sang and played the obligatory Schubert contrafactum setting of the Ave Maria, which made for a very pleasing sentimental entry, with her proud father walking arm-in-arm to come and give her away.

It struck me forcibly how arrestingly quickly the couple marry: they quickly state their free consent, and as quickly plight their troth: all thereafter is for the blessing of them as man and wife, and for their thanksgiving to the Almighty; and to do so, the greatest of all prayers, the Mass, follows.

Yours truly was able to make one small but useful contribution to the celebration: I have on file a Word document for the marriage service, with the Latin and an English version partly mine, and partly cribbed from various sources... this I emailed to Kazia a month back, and it turned out to be just what they needed. While it was my compilation, someone - Fr? - has lightly edited it.

One example of lawful mutual enrichment (ad mentem Summorum Pontificum) that I was able to suggest: one of the modern Roman Prefaces for Marriage was used, which is in fact a revision of a text from the Gelasian Sacramentary; here is the Latin (as sung at the altar), with my very literal translation, as supplied to the (perplexed?) faithful:

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine, sancte Pater, omnipotens æterne Deus.
Qui fœdera nuptiarum blando concordiæ jugo et insolubili pacis vinculo nexuisti, ut multiplicandis adoptionum filiis sanctorum connubiorum fecunditas pudica serviret. Tua enim, Domine, providentia, tuaque gratia ineffabilibus modis utrumque dispensas, ut, quod generatio ad mundi produxit ornatum, regeneratio ad Ecclesiæ perducat augmentum: per Christum Dominum nostrum.
Per quem, cum Angelis et omnibus Sanctis, hymnum laudis tibi canimus, sine fine dicentes:

Truly worthy and right it is, just and salutary, for us unto Thee always and everywhere to give thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty eternal God:
Who hast bound the covenant of marriage with a sweet yoke of harmony and an indissolvable bond of peace, so that the chaste fruitfulness of holy marriages may serve for multiplying the children of adoption. For it is by Thy providence, Lord, and by Thy grace that Thou dispensest in ineffable ways both that generation produce adornment for the world, and regeneration lead to the increase of the Church: through Christ our Lord.
Through Him, with the Angels and all Saints, a hymn of praise unto Thee we sing, without end saying:

Fr Popplewell preached a short, concise, gentle homily for the happy couple, who were at matching prie-dieux just inside the altar rails over on the Epistle side:

The noble estate of holy wedlock was instituted by God in Paradise, when he blessed the union of our first parents; and Our Blessed Lord (as all men know) raised this institution to the dignity of a sacrament, lifting it to the supernatural level by infusing it with grace. The Apostle teaches that marriage is so exalted that it is comparable only to the mystical union of Christ and His Bride, Holy Church. To live in marriage, receptiveness to grace is the key to growing ever in mutual love and understanding, and to this end devotion to prayer and the Sacraments is vital; bride and groom ought petition Holy Mary and St Joseph to aid them, just as they should take their example of life as a Holy Family to heart.

For this end, the sermon ended with a bidding for all present to say, "Hail, Mary...".

The choir sang the Ave maris stella (at Offertory) and Adoro te (at Communion), and while Fr read the Last Gospel, the newly-weds went and knelt at the Lady altar, entrusting their marriage to the Holy Mother of God, while the solemn Salve was sung in supplication. They processed out to a curious mediæval piece, an ancient Carmelite hymn beginning Salve Mater misericordiæ.

The reception (at the Polish Club) began at 5pm, and was still going strong at 1.30am apparently! But after so enjoyable and happy a day, I had departed a little earlier, at half eleven - which was wise, for by the time I'd driven south out of Hobart, taken a wrong road, retraced my path, and finally arrived at my host's for the night, it was well after midnight.

Before Thine altar throne
This mercy we implore;
As Thou dost knit them, Lord, in one,
So bless them evermore.

– Henry W. Baker, "How welcome was the call", v. 6, HA&M, 1861.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wedding Bells

Ah, how good it is that it's Friday; work is over for the week, my fatiguing tasks are done (I was at work till 11pm last night!) and I am about to go out to the airport to collect my old mate John, who's coming down to Tasmania from the sinful city of Sydney.

He and I will head down to Hobart tomorrow, to assist at the Nuptial Mass (3pm at St Canice chapel, Lower Sandy Bay) of a mutual acquaintance... yours truly will help execute the chant: Propers and Mass V with Agnus Dei from Mass VI; solemn Salve; Adoro te and Ave maris stella; some chap will warble Ave Maria lest the marriage be invalid...

There is prospect of a Latin Mass this Sunday!!!

Snowed Under

Apologies for no posts lately - I'm snowed under with work!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The T.A.C. in W.A.

In the spirit of Pope Benedict's friendly outreach to incoming Anglicans, my mate Rob, himself a fairly recent convert from Anglicanism, who lives in Perth, Western Australia, went along to visit them on Sunday; he sent me this report to pop online:

In an effort to make my ecumenical presence (in the true and proper sense of the word) more visible in regards to the TAC's desire to enter into full communion with the Holy See, this Sunday I attended Evensong and Benediction (for the Feast of Christ the King) at their main place of worship in Perth, the Parish of St Ninian & St Chad's in Maylands.

The congregation was small (about 15, including two other priests), though as this was not their main Mass I was not particularly discouraged by this (from what I've heard Perth's TAC faithful number about 120 in all and are spread out over the metropolis at a few different churches and chapels). Led by an elderly priest, the service was straight from the 1662 BCP and was sung according to Anglican chant. Apart from abbreviated readings (a newer lectionary I supposed) and only one psalm chanted [this has been common ever since the 1872 'Shortened Services' Act (UK) - ed.], there were no additions to the order of service.

Evensong had been sung in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Benediction was some sort of Anglo-Catholic translation of the traditional Roman Rite and was all done very nicely. During adoration, the celebrant, Bp. Harry Enwistle, recited special prayers for unity, especially for their journey towards unity with the Holy See. I liked this as it conformed to my own private prayers which were of a similar intention (for reasons plain to many I was privately refraining from active worship of the Host, though I was certainly joining in such prayers!).

After the service I chatted briefly to Bp. Entwistle and to a few of the faithful. It was all very pleasing to see such an open and cheerful attitude towards unity with the Holy See. What a contrast to the closed-minded spirit of so many liberal Anglicans who regard themselves smarter than the testimony of the ages! Indeed, as I had arrived I'd briefly introduced myself to one of the clergy who had been part of the congregation. I let him know that I was a Catholic visitor and he replied by saying that 'we'll all be that soon', which I thought to be an attitude that typified the spirit of the place.

– Rob

Book of Common Prayer Evensong coram Sanctissimo! Now that's both very Anglican and very Catholic! What sweet revenge on Cranmer, that detestable Zwinglian, to make use of his incomparable prose in such a manner...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Irascible Hermit

An acquaintance of mine has asked me to link to and advertise his new blog, which I do with pleasure, especially because of its amusing name - Ruminations of an Irascible Hermit!

It appears that "Methodius" places his blogging under the patronage of the formidable St Jerome, known even as a fellow to be very carefully dealt with - Justin once told me of an hilarious reference to him in a contemporary Greek text, that basically says "Don't provoke him for God's sake!"; and I always recall how Jerome got stuck into, not merely his old friend Rufinus, but even disparaged Augustine (on the basis of a misunderstanding arising from letters to and from him having been mixed up) as "That Numidian bull-ant!"

LOL, I know I react like that all too often (as for example, when perforce at the Novus Ordo to fulfil my Sunday obligation, I read a really pestilently biassed smarmy article by some Jesuit using the feast of Christ the King as a pretext to attack the Church...)

Now Aquinas rightly tells that the irascible appetite is given to man, that by this faculty we be worked up against things harmful to us, so as we then will act to overcome them. "Be angry and sin not", but rather labour energetically to right wrongs, even fighting the good fight in the cause of all that is good and true.

The Psalmist goes on to say, "Repent ye in your chambers..." I always think of the many images of St Jerome in a cave (with or without the lion he tended to), beating his bare breast with a rock, doing penance and asking mercy for all the sins of his tongue, which the Apostle James terms a fire, a world of iniquity, setting on fire our lives, set on fire by hell! (iii, 6), with the which we curse men made in God's image (iii,9): for man's anger worketh not the justice of God (i, 20), and whoso thinketh himself religious, restraining not his tongue, his religion is vain (i, 26). Mea maxima culpa!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November Heatwave and Bushfires

So it begins... on the Mainland, first South Australia, then inland New South Wales has been sweltering in temperatures touching forty degrees, and high winds combined with dry lightning have brought about dangerous bushfires already threatening homes. Even Melbourne recorded 38°C the other day, and it's still spring, not summer yet. Never before has the fire season come so soon... yesterday, bushfires broke out here in Tasmania, and burnt down several homes on the East Coast in a sudden fury. Pray!

Pro Orantibus

To-day, the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple, is kept as Pro Orantibus Day - when we ought remember with all thankfulness before the Lord those who devote themselves to prayer as cloistered contemplatives, and pray for those who ever do pray God. In particular, I think of the Carmelite nuns I know here and elsewhere (in Melbourne, in Bunbury, in Lismore), who live enclosed lives of sacrifice and supplication, filled with a holy joy by the Holy Ghost.

Their sterling example ought move us to recall in Whose Presence we live our short passing lives so thoughtlessly, heading for Who knows what fate! It is right for us to re-orient ourselves to face Christ, our true East, and our End.

St Alfonso declared that "He who prays is saved, he who prays not is lost". If we persevere in prayer by God's gift of grace, we shall not die sundered from Him at the last, and so go to pray and worship Him in fellowship with all His saints evermore. But if we fall away from the habit of serious converse with Almighty God through Christ in the Holy Ghost, then - if unconverted, and not returned to union with the Lord through faith and prayer - we shall indubitably be damned and separated from Him, thrown into the abyss with the reprobate men and devils without any release.

We should earnestly and soberly keep in mind and practice now what we hope shall be our everlasting occupation in heaven, not rush like the Gadarene swine down the slippery slope to perdition.

We cannot turn from Christ: whether we will or nill, we shall meet Him as our dread Judge upon our departure from this world, which ineluctably approaches: soon, soon we shall appear before His great Assize. Will He recognize us as His friends, or His hardhearted foes? Come, ye blessed... or, Depart from me, ye accursed!

(A very necessary part of our prayer and worship now in mortal life is in the Sacrament of Penance, for in confession we first of all confess God's mercy and holiness, before confessing our sins and need of forgiveness; now is the hour to turn to the Lord, else at our judgement He turn from us.)

Contemplatives put eschatological truth in the first place, and therefore give the first place in their lives to divine worship: to Mass, to the Hours of the Divine Office (the Work of God, the Opus Dei), to lectio divina, to contemplation - for prayer is a dialogue, even if wordless, initiated and sustained by Him Who loves us, and so in worship we read the Revelation of God, praise Him with His own words, and thus pay worthy homage.

Nihil opus Dei præponatur, says wise St Benedict: Let nothing be put ahead of the Work of God. All other necessary occupations are pursued only insofar as they subserve this central concern: his Rule even specifies that, should a monk become overly engrossed in his appointed trade or work, the Abbot ought straightway take it from him, lest it be a snare and a distraction from his primary and proper devotion to the Lord! We who live in the world ought likewise order our lives, fulfilling our duties, but making sure God and sacred communication with Him always comes first.

Holy Church proposes this Collect for to-day's feast, that, just as Our Lady was made the habitation of the Holy Ghost ever since her Immaculate Conception in preparation for her becoming Mother of God (and, as the outward sign of this, pious meditation represents her as presented as a child in the Temple to serve the coming Lord ahead of time, giving concrete form to her espousal to Him as a perpetual Virgin, of undivided heart, ever intent upon the Lord's service), so at her all-prevailing intercession - she who is Mediatrix of grace - may we deserve now and forevermore to be presented in the true temple of God in heaven, now in hope, and one day in all reality :

Deus, qui beatam Mariam semper Virginem, Spiritus Sancti, habitaculum, hodierna die in templo præsentari voluisti: præsta, quæsumus; ut, ejus intercessione, in templo gloriæ tuæ præsentari mereamur. Per... in unitate ejusdem Spiritus...

Epicleses Good and Bad

In the Anglican tradition, the prayer for calling down the Holy Ghost upon the elements to hallow and bless them is termed "the Invocation", very sensibly, since this is the more immediately comprehensible Latinate term for the Epiclesis (its exact Greek equivalent and antecedent term).

[In discussing this area of Eucharistic theology, I prescind here from the question of whether Anglicans can in fact consecrate the Sacrament at all - though of course I accept the decision of Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicæ curæ.]

A good consecratory Invocation properly prays for the transsubstantiation of the bread and wine, that they may "become" (fiant) the Body and Blood of Christ. Since this is for our sake, that this Sacrament and Sacrifice impart to us life and all the unspeakable, ineffable benefits of His Passion, the liturgy - as in the Roman Canon - prays that the bread and wine "become for us" (fiant nobis) His Body, His Blood. But all subjective, nominalist interpretation must be excluded: it is not that they "become" Christ's Flesh and Blood only in sign or figure or from our perspective; no, they truly change in their very natural substances, objectively ceasing to be bread and wine, in such manner that in every sense they are made the Body and the Blood of the Lord, only their outward perceptible appearances of bread and wine remaining unchanged.

Therefore, a petition that "this bread and wine may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ" is gravely suspect - it seems to imply that no objective change takes place, but that they simply serve to represent His Flesh, His Blood. This would be the error of transsignification or transfinalization: as if the bread and wine now signify His Body and Blood, or that they no longer have the natural purpose of feeding us, but are empowered with a new final causality, to impart to us Christ's life. This is insufficient, and the Holy Catholic Church in her solemn teaching reprobates and rejects such heresies.

Worse still would be an epicletic or invocatory prayer that prays "that we, receiving this bread and wine, may partake of Christ's Body and Blood" - for that would be an expression of the damnable falsity that is receptionism, Hooker's new heresy, according to which the bread and wine change not at all, but that, at the moment of partaking of them, their eaters and drinkers mystically and sacramentally eat and drink Christ. This is not far from Cranmer's Zwinglian madness.

Unfortunately, the Anglican Books of Common Prayer largely contain heterodox Epicleses.

It was the glory of the Scottish Episcopalians (whom I'm told have in past decades utterly gone to the dogs, their High Church doctrine having been vitiated by the acceptance of moral turpitude) that their eighteenth century Divines, following the English Nonjurors with whom they were in communion, and accepting the Patristic era testimony of the documents known as the Apostolic Constitutions, improved the text of the Invocation in their liturgies.

From them descend the U.S. Episcopalians - nowadays also turned liberal modernist heretics of the worst odour - but their liturgies reverted to the older Anglican type, by almost immediately abandoning the full-blooded Scottish epicletic prayer in favour of the receptionist English form. Only their very first provisional liturgy, that of Bp Seabury, had a proper epiclesis - for he had obtained Anglican episcopal consecration from the Scottish Episcopalians on condition that he adopt and promote their form of worship in the nascent United States' Episcopal Church; he succeeded only partly, and lost out on the matter of this prayer.

Here - in descending order of orthodoxy - are Seabury's epiclesis, equivalent to the 1764 Scottish form ("become"), then that of the 1637 Scottish ("may be unto us") - which combines the English 1549 and 1552 forms - and finally that of the 1928 U.S. B.C.P. ("that we receiving them"):

Bp Seabury's Communion Office (1786),
equivalent to the Scottish 1764 Communion Office

And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father to hear us, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son.

Scottish 1637 B.C.P.

Hear us, merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify with thy word and holy Spirit these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son; so that we receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christs holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of the same his most precious body and blood.

U.S. 1928 B.C.P.

And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.

An Anglican Canon?

The current Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship includes all the major B.C.P. prayers for the Holy Communion, except the Prayer of Consecration and the Prayer of Oblation. With a second edition, suitably based on older B.C.P.'s and the English Missal, apparently in preparation at the Vatican, it is interesting to speculate on whether an Anglican Canon will be included, or whether, as in the B.D.W., only the Roman Canon (and the other three post-conciliar Eucharistic Prayers) will be included. I exclude discussion of the enormous number of modern Eucharistic Prayers throughout the Anglican Communion - their name is legion - since most of them are frankly too low in their doctrine, and hardly any have much intercession included. I have previously blogged on this, and have just left the following comments on Fr Hunwicke's blog:

...for any Anglican Canon to be inserted in the upcoming Roman Rite Anglican Use Missal (B.D.W. 2.0) - so far as I can see, the only way to do so would be to follow the Scottish 1764 Communion Office, and have the Prayer of Consecration immediately followed by the Prayer of Memorial and Oblation, with the Prayer for the Church tacked on at the end, rather than read at or before the Offertory. (Rome would also require, as it has for all new Eucharistic Prayers, that the Epiclesis be put back before the Consecration, as in other Anglican traditions than the Scottish and its daughter the American.) But would not having these three prayers in sequence make for a very long Canon?

...the Scottish rearrangement (which derives from the 1718 Nonjurors' liturgy) is... :

  1. Prayer of Consecration;
  2. Prayer of Memorial and Oblation;
  3. Prayer for the Church.

By putting the Prayer for the Church last, and including the words "accept our Oblation", it makes it clear that the Eucharist is an impetratory sacrifice, not merely one of praise and thanksgiving: it is offered up for determinate ends.

As St Cyril of Jerusalem says,

"Then when the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless act of worship is complete, we beseech God, on the ground of that sacrifice of propitiation, for the common peace of the churches; for the stability of the world; for kings; for our soldiers and allies; for the sick and afflicted; in fact, we pray for all who need help, and for them we offer this sacrifice. Next, we remember those who have fallen asleep before us; first the Patriarchs, Apostles, Martyrs; that by their prayers and intercessions God may receive our supplication. After that we pray for the holy Fathers and bishops who have already fallen asleep; and, in short, for all the departed, believing that it will be the greatest advantage for the souls of those for whom this supplication is offered when the holy and awful sacrifice is set before God. We offer up Christ, sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our compassionate God on their behalf, and on our own."
[Mystagogical Catecheses 5, 7-10]

The Prayer for the Church, in its more catholic recensions (1549, as returned to and reworked by the Nonjurors and the Scots, praying for the dead and fulsomely commemorating the Saints), fits this description admirably. As Bishop Thomas Brett (1667-1744) wrote:

"The Reason of the Thing also pleads for putting the Prayer for all estates and Conditions of Men after the Consecration, for as it is one general End of Sacrifice, and of this Eucharistick Sacrifice in particular, to render our Prayers more is certainly most proper, that the Sacrifice or Oblation should first be offered, and that Prayer should be made whilst it lies upon the altar, and is already dedicated to God."

It will be observed that this order is in fact the common pattern of the post-Conciliar Roman Eucharistic Prayers:

  • Proemium;
  • Epiclesis;
  • Consecration;
  • Anamnesis/Memorial;
  • Oblation;
  • Prayer for Communicants;
  • Intercesssion for the Living and the Dead with Commemoration of the Saints;
  • Doxology.

Note that, in regard to the Epiclesis, Rome has been clear that in the Roman Rite, for the avoidance of all confusion, it must be placed before the Consecration, so 1549 must be followed, not the Nonjurors, the Scots and the Americans.

So much for what I've written already; here is an example of the text of such an "Anglican Canon" - this is from the Scottish B.C.P. of 1929, except for the restoration of the most express and orthodox 1764 Epiclesis, moved back to before the Consecration (where it was found until that year), and so to fit the sense, changing "For" back to "Who" and deleting "he", and the petition for the Queen and Government moved to after that for the Church and clergy, to avoid Erastianism (I have also restored the words "to accept our Oblations" from the 1764, and inserted the Pope to signify Catholic communion):

ALL glory and thanksgiving be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who, by his own oblation of himself once offered, made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memorial of that his precious death and sacrifice until his coming again.
And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father to hear us, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son.
Who in the night that he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you: Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this, for this is my Blood of the new testament, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins: Do this as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me.
Wherefore, O Lord, and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy humble servants do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion, and precious death, his mighty resurrection, and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same, and looking for his coming again with power and great glory.
And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion.
And here we humbly offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee, beseeching thee that all we who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, and be fulfilled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him.
And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end.

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church.

ALMIGHTY and Everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make intercessions and to give thanks for all men: We humbly pray thee most mercifully to accept our Oblations, and to receive these our supplications which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord; and grant that all they that do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy word, and live in unity and godly love.
Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, [and especially to thy servants N. our Pope and N. our Bishop,] that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and living word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments: and to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, and especially to this Congregation here present, that they may hear and receive thy holy word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
We beseech thee also to save and defend all Kings, Princes, and Governors, and especially thy servant Elizabeth our Queen, and all who are put in authority under her, that we may be godly and quietly governed.
We most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.
We commend to thy gracious keeping, O Lord, all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear, beseeching thee to grant them everlasting light and peace.
And we yield unto thee most high praise and hearty thanks, for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all thy Saints, who have been the choice vessels of thy grace, and the lights of the world in their several generations: and chiefly in the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord and God, and in the Holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Martyrs, beseeching thee to give us grace to follow the example of their stedfastness in thy faith, and obedience to thy holy commandments, that * at the day of the general resurrection, we, and all they who are of the mystical body of thy Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear his most joyful voice, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate.

[*Add ", strengthened by their fellowship, and aided by their prayers" - from the Scottish 1929 B.C.P., Prayers and Thanksgivings, Prayer 51.]
Does this appear a sufficiently orthodox Catholic Eucharistic Prayer, or not?

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Converted Prayer

The forerunner of Anglicanorum cœtibus, and its upcoming parallel document specifically for the T.A.C., was the Pastoral Provision of 1980. To obtain quick approval of some elements of Anglican liturgy for the incoming American groups back then, selections from the 1979 U.S. B.C.P. were hastily assembled, and somehow got past the elder Marini et al. Much has changed since then, and we may hope for something more like the English Missal, with the nice bits of the various older and more classical B.C.P.'s inserted therein, to be made available as the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite.

In the meanwhile, here is one of these converted (I was going to say rebaptized) prayers now declared a part of official Catholic worship by reason of its placement at the end of the Anglicna Use Burial Service, Rite I - it is an abbreviation of a prayer of about twice the length by Jeremy Taylor, seventeenth century Anglican Divine, in his Holy Dying - which I think expresses well the urgency of all moves toward full corporate unity:

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us “in holiness and righteousness all our days” (St Luke i, 75); that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favour with thee our God; and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Half-way There

Half-way to heaven or...?

At this hour, exactly thirty-five years ago, I was born into this world. God bless my parents!

On all my sins, God, have mercy; for all the uncountable graces I've been given, glory to God in the highest! Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I give particular thanks for His gifts to me of a mind, and of supernatural faith to enlighten it: of granting me strength through faith and knowledge. I ask particularly for forgiveness for making so little use of these gifts, and of wasting them on follies and worse.

Being grounded in faith, having a constant hope, I beg to be granted charity fruitful in meritorious works, lest I fritter away my blessings in anger and selfishness.

I give thanks for the great sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation that have brought me to fight as a Christian, and of the ever-new sacraments of the Blessed Eucharist and of Penance, ever giving life to me and restoring life to me, lifting me up. I give thanks for Holy Church, in whose Communion I find saints and angels to aid me; in whom I find the truths of Holy Faith and the beauty of the Sacred Liturgy to bless me, mediated to me by priests Catholic and good.

"Pray, hope, don't worry": excellent advice I hope to keep.

Of your charity, as the best possible birthday present, pray for me.

The 19th of November

I arose right early this morning (at 5.30!), to go for a brisk three-quarter hour walk around the Cataract Gorge before Mass and work - what a joyful beautiful morning!

I'd already sung in the shower (!) one of my favourite hymns: "Come down, O Love Divine"...

To my further delight, having had the blessings of Nature, the supernatural mysteries of the 7.30 Mass were celebrated at Carmel by Fr Allan, our local Franciscan priest, who is a good devout celebrant and preacher, and to-day turned out to be a feast of a Carmelite: St Raphael Kalinowski, O.C.D., the first male Discalced Carmelite to be canonized since St John of the Cross himself.

It's been such a long time since I went to a weekday OF Mass, I was surprised that there was no Gloria for this saint's day memorial! Fr made use of the second Preface for Saints, and the third Eucharistic Prayer, which I quite like, liberal that I am.

The Propers were greatly affecting, I thought, especially the Collect and Epistle, in my present frame of mind; unfortunately the translation of the orations is particularly bad, and I cannot find the Latin at present, but no matter:

St Raphael Kalinowski of St Joseph, Priest, O.C.D.
19th November
O.C.D. Memorial

Raphael Kalinowski was born to Polish parents in the city of Vilnius in 1835. Following military service, he was condemned in 1864 to ten years of forced labour in Siberia. In 1877 he became a Carmelite and was ordained a priest in 1882. He contributed greatly to the restoration of the Discalced Carmelites in Poland. His life was distinguished by zeal for Church unity and by his unflagging devotion to his ministry as confessor and spiritual director. He died in Wadowice in 1907.

Entrance Antiphon (St Luke 4:18a)

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives.

Opening Prayer

God, you made your Priest Saint Raphael strong in adversity and filled him with a great love in promoting Church unity. Through his prayers make us strong in faith and in love for one another, that we too may generously work together for the unity of all believers in Christ. (We ask this) through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

1st Reading (Philippians 3:8-14)

A reading from the letter of St Paul to the Philippians
I am racing towards the finishing-point to win the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you, my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm (Ps 15: 1-2a, 5. 7-8. 11 R/. cf. v5)

R/. You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: 'You are my God'.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize. R/.

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight:
since he is at my [right] side I shall stand firm. R/.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever. R/.

Gospel Acclamation (St John 15:15b)

Alleluia, Alleluia.
V/. I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father.

Gospel (St John 15:9-17)

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father.

Jesus said to his disciples:
'As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master's business;
I call you friends,
becae I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me,
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another'.

Prayer over the Gifts

God of mercy, we offer you this memory [sic; lege memorial sacrifice] of our salvation, to celebrate the feast of Saint Raphael, your Priest. May it be for all of us, a sign of unity, and strengthen your love within us. (Grant this) through Christ our Lord.

Communion Antiphon (St Matthew 20: 28)

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Prayer after Communion

Lord, our God, may the sacrament we have received strengthen your faithful to be united in their belief. For this Saint Raphael worked untiringly until the moment of death. (We ask this) through Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Special Provision for the T.A.C.

Why on earth has Cardinal Kasper said that Anglicanorum cœtibus was not drawn up for the Traditional Anglican Communion? At first blush this seems ridiculous: for everyone knows that their bishops have signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church in acknowledgement of their adhesion to the Faith, and have petitioned Rome to bring them and their people into unity. Yet other remarks have indicated that the Pope's Apostolic Constitution was drafted in response to approaches from other Anglicans, those still in the mainstream of that unhappy Communion, such as groups of Forward in Faith International, centred in England.

Another little hint from a commenter (the mysterious but apparently well-informed P.K.T.P.) over at Rorate cæli:

Kasper is preparing us for the document set to appear a fortnight from now. It will deal specifically wtih the TAC. Notice, however, that he does not exclude the TAC from the recently-published apostolic constitution. The truth is that because the TAC boarded the train BEFORE all the others did, and before that train ran down Kasper and cut his career to shreds, it is getting MORE than just the apostolic constitution. It is getting special provisions and exemptions to enable all of its ministers to come across and become Catholic priests (except those who are 'remarried'). The truth is that the Pope now needs the TAC or he'll be left standing there with no reliable Anglicans to welcome into his new provisions.

This seems to explain the divergences between what Anglicanorum cœtibus promises, and what Abp Hepworth, Primate of the T.A.C., has claimed that corporate reunion will involve: for he of all people, having been in the forefront of negotiations, with everything at stake and his credibility on the line, could hardly be guilty of exaggeration and wishful thinking.

It explains what I've heard: that the T.A.C. bishops will come over as a body, a continuing body; that having themselves been received and their orders sorted out, they will reordain their clergy en masse; and that their clergy, once regularized, will receive their people into the Church, that every one will be rescued and given refuge, please God, leaving none behind but those who in conscience are not yet able to come (and for whom the T.A.C. will strive to make provision, lest they be abandoned and lost for good).

What must we do?

We may ruminate on these rumours, but most of all we must indubitably pray that many souls will find rest and peace in Holy Church united, for their salvation, to the Triune glory of Almighty God, His Christ, and Their Holy Spirit of unity.


UPDATE: I have independent confirmation of this, but cannot say more.

Old, New, True Ecumenism

The Popes have ever proclaimed that all conversation with non-Catholics is rightly ordered to securing for them in true charity the ineffable blessings of Catholic unity, that they may attain salvation. (It would be tedious to repeat centuries of quotations from their writings to this effect.)

In more recent decades, ecumenical dialogue has been undertaken, not to forswear what the latest Council proclaimed - that all who, grasping that the Church is necessary for salvation, must needs enter her communion to be safe and saved - but to help smooth the way for the unity of all Christ's scattered flock, by eliminating scandals, misconceptions, age-old prejudices and misunderstandings.

(To interject some levity, it reminds one of a Catholic Frenchman in the days before the Revocation of the Edict of Nante, who, to help motivate Huguenots to convert, set up a Bank of Conversions that offered cheap loans to such persons! He claimed "It prepared the heart for the operation of grace!")

Unfortunately, Catholics have sometimes deluded themselves and others, in their anxiety to be irenic, or even in their hankering after profane novelties, by vainly papering over or falsely belittling real differences of importance between our Holy Faith and the heterodox opinions of others, thinking to salve consciences and compose disputes in an insincere manner. This tendency the Roman Pontiffs have naturally opposed. But they have been abused for doing so...

Equally unfortunately, those not of our faith have been lured by this vacillation of Catholics between the conserving acts of the Magisterium and the confusing, provoking acts of ill or well-meaning persons, into surmising that Rome, too, will bend to the winds of time and change, smoothly adapting herself to the world in practising expediency. This may all too be true at an accidental level, but not at a substantial one. The promise of infallibility and indefectability is given to the whole Church at large, as well as guaranteed in the person of Christ's Vicar, as Servant of the servants of God, the successor of St Paul as well as of St Peter, consumed with the care for all the churches, to keep them in one.

How appropriate to think of this on the very feast of the dedication of the great Basilicas of St Peter and St Paul!

Alas, far from Rome in the true sense, impertinent persons in particular have played a malign part in this deviation of ecumenism from its natural role of fostering unity, to an improper purpose of maintaining (let us be candid) elaborate talkfests to occupy and waste time, without scarcely forwarding the mission of the Church. Even non-Catholics have remarked at the scandal their Catholic dialogue partners engender: for all too often, it is the Catholics who wink at Church doctrine and say as much, being all matey and conspiratorial about it! This rightly repulses many, but confirms all outsiders in the opinion that much is dirty and unpleasant within the Ark that is the Church.

Grace, the grace of the Holy Spirit Who convicts the world of sin, justice and judgement, Who inspires the will and enlightens the intellect to chance great things and belief hard truths, must be allowed to work: but its sweet secret work may be frustrated and brought to nought by hard, proud hearts, rich only in their own conceit and doubledealing, delighting not in the truth but in dreams.

What I have written of - the deliberate change in Papal policies for the last forty-odd years to indulge in Realpolitik toward non-Catholic bodies, by accentuating immediate goals (greater mutual charity, lessening of vile bigotry) relative to discreetly advertising the ultimate intent (reception of converts into full unity) - is by many unwise persons called the "old" ecumenism, when really it is newfangled.

What is now called by its enthusiasts the "new" ecumenism, and decried by its detractors (profiteers of the "old") as totally opposed to ecumenism - exemplified by the energetic steps taken by His Holiness to embrace incoming Anglicans, according them many sweet privileges, in response it must be underlined to their heartfelt pleas for corporate reunion, having been at last revolted by the unchristian antics of their original denomination - is in fact the original, settled ecumenical policy of Rome, no different in substance to the efforts, lasting or not, made since mediæval times and before, to offer rest and peace to those willing to return to the Father of Christendom.

Both the new "old" ecumenism, and the old "new" ecumenism, are true insofar as they are rightly ordered, implicitly or explicitly, to the true goal: to unite all Christians in one faith under one shepherd, for which happy cause Our Lord Himself deigned to pray directly before His saving Passion: Ut unum sint, ad salvandas animas, ad gloriam Patris.

There is an old blessing, sometimes termed Mozarabic but cropping up in the Benedictine Office and I suspect of mainstream mediæval Latin Rite origin, given its rough rhyme:

In unitate Sancti Spiritus,
benedicat vos Pater et Filius.

This is best interpreted in the deeper sense: May we, united in the one Holy Spirit, Who is the Principium Unitatis as the Quickener of our souls and bodies, as the Lifegiver to our fellowship in the Holy Catholic, that is, rightbelieving worldwide, Church, be therefore blessed by the Father and the Son - for these Three are One. Amen.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anglicanorum Cœtibus - II

I find the terribly uncharitable comments posted on the Rorate Cæli blogsite really quite scandalous - surely the mean and extreme remarks found there will frighten off many potential converts? - but I found the following comment, from one P.K.T.P., very interesting:

"...the TAC choirmaster here [where?] tells me that it was announced publicly today by the dean of his cathedral.

"The news is this: the apostolic constitution was not Rome's response to the TAC's petition of October, 2007; rather, it is a general response to all the requests of differing Anglican groups to reunite with the See of St. Peter. There will now be a SECOND document issued from the C.D.F., this one to address the situation of the TAC specifically. This is coming soon, very soon, well before Christmas.

"I have no idea what is in this new document to come, but we can have some fun speculating about it. I imagine that it will grant some general dispensations for TAC priests and it might make arrangements for ordinariates, especially for the less populous TAC national churches."

Recall that other sources indicate that the Vatican will also approve before Christmas a form of liturgy for the incoming Anglicans, upgraded from the present Anglican Use of the Roman Rite given in the Book of Divine Worship, and most probably drawing upon the English Missal (that is, the Roman Missal done over into Cranmerian prose, with the nice bits of the Book of Common Prayer interwoven).

It seems Father Christmas, otherwise known as Papa Benny, has been busy at work preparing gifts for good boys and girls... I wonder what else he has hidden under the camauro?

Saints' Days

Happy birthday to Fr Greg Bourke, a Melbourne priest who was born on this day and was named for St Gregory the Wonderworker, whose feast it then was. St Gregory it was who actually did move a mountain (hence his name), who received revelation from St John the Evangelist of a very Catholic creed, and who, upon his deathbed, gave thanks to God that through his ministry, the Christians in his city had so multiplied in number that, where there had been but ten when he arrived, by his departure there remained but ten pagans.
To-day the Anglican Use keeps the memory of St Elizabeth of Hungary; and, yesterday, of St Gertrude the Great (who crops up one day earlier in the Traditional Calendar) and of St Margaret of Scotland - the latter always reminds me of a nice old lady who told me that she was a Scottish Episcopalian (once quite a decent High lot, who've gone to the dogs), and that "Our church was founded by St Margaret of Scotland". (Yeah, right.) I forbore to tell her that my Church was founded by Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anglican Use Thought for the Day

Give ear to me, you that follow that which is just, and you that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you are dug out.
– Isaias li, 1

It wasn't Lambeth Palace that lost a tile...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hope not Fear

Θλῖψις, thlipsis - "distress" (hardship, suffering, trouble, being hard-pressed): what a great word, rolling tripping off the tongue... it pops up in the readings at ordinary Mass this Sunday, the penultimate of the Church's Year of grace.

"Deliver us from all anxiety," as the priest prays at the altar!

The world will come to an end, we know not when; but this knowledge, combined with our apprehension of all the stupidities, cruelties, tragedies and violence in this and every age, ought not drive us to despair: for God the Lord holds all of man's broken history in His hand, and - being so powerful as to draw good even out of evil - is silently, secretly directing all things toward their fulfilment in Christ. Of ourselves, we would indeed succumb to despair if we were without faith (as Vatican II in one of its wiser passages affirms); but because as believers we are in Christ, we know that in Him is our only hope, a hope unshakeable - we must not be as the pagans who have no hope, and so wallow in every form of distraction to dull their sense of futility and ineluctable doom. Therefore, we ought live godly, sober and righteous lives, serving God above all and loving our neighbour for His sake, "alert not alarmed", keeping watch and vigil, not in dread but in the joyful expectation of the return of Christ in glory and power almighty.

(Some thoughts based upon Fr Greg's sermon this morning at Carmel.)


The music at Carmel was much as it always is: a (rather slow) hymn to start and end with; the Ordinary sung in Gregorian chant (but the Creed said by all); the nuns' singing the Responsorial Psalm, Alleluia verse, and Communion verse to some simple tone (Gelineau?); the Memorial Acclamation (that unfortunate innovation), "Great" Amen and Lord's Prayer sung also, and the rest of the liturgy said.

As is the custom, the chant for the Ordinary was taken from different Masses: the opening Kyrie and Gloria were short and syllabic settings, presumably for ease of singing and to avoid too much delay - as the nuns sing very slowly - while the Sanctus and Agnus Dei were more melismatic, being shorter texts able to be sung out with more complexity:
  • Kyrie from Mass XVI (for ferias);
  • Gloria from Mass XV (Dominator Deus, for simple feasts);
  • Sanctus from Mass IX (Cum jubilo, for feasts of Our Lady);
  • Agnus Dei from Mass IX also;
  • O sacrum convivium, in a simplified chant setting (I must get a copy!), sung after Communion - it made an excellent spur for meditation on the ineffable benefits of receiving Our Lord.
(These settings of the chants of the Mass I learnt first by ear through attendance at Mass at Carmel - only later, having to sing from a book at a Traditional Latin Mass, did I discover which Masses they came from.)

Yesterday was the feast of All Saints of Carmel, and to-morrow, All Carmelite Souls (transferred from to-day); next Saturday will be the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, and is Pro Orantibus day, when we all should pray for cloistered contemplatives. From the modern Carmelite Missal:

I will bring them to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; for my house is a house of prayer for all the peoples. (Is 56:7a,c)

Lord, may the patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, and the prayers of all the Saints of Carmel help us to walk steadfastly in their footsteps, and by our prayers and good works ever further the cause of your Church. Through...

Lord, you are the glory of those who serve you. Look lovingly on our departed brothers and sisters, united in following Christ and his Mother by the waters of baptism and the bonds of Carmel. In your mercy grant them everlasting sight of you, their Creator and Redeemer. Through...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And Can It Be

Here's a favourite hymn, one of Wesley's, a Methodist anthem - by an enthusiastic yet High Church Anglican - that is really so very Catholic; I'm sure that Bl Columba Marmion OSB, faithful interpreter of the Apostle and his doctrine, would fully agree with the admirable sentiments expressed therein about us living now "in Christ", Whose unfathomable riches are ours by grace:

The second stanza has been omitted, yet I think it well expresses the strength of Wesley's Christology:

'Tis mystery all: th' Immortal dies!
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.

A Chance Meeting

Well, I'll be stonkered - I was walking through town this morning, when I spotted a character who looked familiar... and having done a double-take, it did indeed turn out to be that learned peripatetic, Fr Gregory OP! He's been in Launceston all week giving philosophy lectures to the good Carmelite nuns here. To-morrow, then, I'll go back to Carmel for their early Mass, for he is a devout celebrant of the Sacred Mysteries, and a very good preacher.

Bushfire Fears

(Canberra under bushfire attack in 2003)

Already in some parts of Australia there have been bushfires burning; and on the mainland of our continent, unseasonally early heatwaves have struck, presaging a frighteningly long, hot and dangerous summer.

For example, Justin told me that Melbourne's been sweltering - they've had five days in succession over 30°C - and in country Victoria the story is even worse. As for Adelaide, capital of the driest State of the Commonwealth, records have already been broken: in November, six days in a row over 35°C (with two more forecast), including four - soon to be six - over 38°C! What will January and February be like?

Here in Tasmania, as in Victoria and elsewhere, we've had a very cool and very wet winter: but this bodes ill, for the verdant vegetation everywhere apparent will brown off and dry to tinder and kindling by the height of summer. It was a set of seasons uncannily similar that led to the terrible 1967 bushfires in this island State...

I live in a comfortable house with a large garden on a hill overlooking Launceston below - a city ringed by treed hills. The bush begins at the end of my street, where land drops away into the Cataract Gorge, and trails just behind the row of houses on the upper side of our roadway. At night, one sees wallabies and pademelons jumping out of neighbours' gardens as they return from an evening snack; and ditto for the peacocks that live wild in the Gorge; walking home a few weeks ago I saw an echidna - we are on the edge of the wild.

Now, fires don't burn downhill as much as they do uphill, but still the thought of such a roasting cataclysm freezes my blood. This is a heavily vegetated suburb: God help us if a we have another recordbreaking summer's day, scorching dry with high wind, and a crown fire spreads through the State Recreation Area just over the brow of Trevallyn hill. I think of my elderly father, who is slowmoving, and easily disoriented and confused... as a family, we have already decided he must be taken somewhere safe if bushfire weather threatens.

Over in Victoria, particularly in the Dandenongs on Melbourne's northeastern outskirts, but also along the Great Ocean Road far to the southwest, there are now large numbers of "tree-changers", folks who have homes high in the hills among the stands of Eucalypts, which are notoriously fireprone, almost flammigerous. After Black Saturday's horrors in February this year, when 173 men, women and children perished, most people have abandoned plans to stay and defend their properties, and plan to evacuate if bushfires threaten. But the fear now is, as to-day's Herald Sun reports, that the winding roads in and out of so many small communities would be bottlenecks, and could be death-traps, if people leave leaving too late. Many places, like doomed Marysville, have only one road connecting them to safety.

Pray against bushfires - pray as the Spirit inspires; and take care, as seems good, to invoke the aid of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God: the wonderworking image of Our Lady of Good Counsel, kept at New Norcia, saved that monastery from fiery ruin back in 1847. Consider also the words of the prophet Joel (i, 19 - ii, 10), which seem grimly apposite.

And the Lord hath uttered his voice before the face of his army: for his armies are exceeding great, for they are strong and execute his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible: and who can stand it?
Joel ii, 11

A Lesson

After Confession this morning, I read Mattins from my B.D.W. (hoping by this quixotic devotion to express my prayerful support for corporate reunion of Anglicans), and was struck by the end of the first Lesson:

The Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: "Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!" And he and his sons fled to the hills and left all that they had in the city.
I Maccabees 2:27-28

Surely this may be applied to those wetting their toes on Tiber's banks, having finally spurned the glamours and witchery of that false strumpet, the C of E? For in the days of the Maccabees, Israel had capitulated to the pressure of the pagan world, changing from faith in God to worship of demons, and from adhesion to the Law to the crass expediency that marked Gentile morals. All that was left to do was to fight and flee to a place of refuge...

And I recall what happens a bit further into the tale of the Maccabean revolt, in chapter eight of the first book of the Maccabees:

Now Judas [Maccabeus] heard of the fame of the Romans, that they were very strong and were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them, that the pledged friendship to those who came to them...

So Judas chose Eupolemus the son of John, son of Accos, and Jason the son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome to establish friendship and alliance, and to free themselves from the yoke; for they saw that the kingdom of the Greeks was completely enslaving Israel. They went to Rome, a very long journey...
I Maccabees 8:1, 17-18a

It is and has been a very long journey to Rome: please God, journey's end is now at last in sight.

To escape the slavery of modernism - that is, complete surrender to the world - and to cast off its yoke, paradoxically it remains for Anglicans to seek Gospel liberty in the embrace of the Roman Pontiff: who, far from being the tyrant of Protestant legend or of the scoffing mob's derision, is as Christ's faithful Vicar, the true heir of SS Peter and Paul, attending to preaching the Good News to all, ever concerned for all the churches, and striving to guarantee the Lord's promises of a light burden, Christian service in perfect freedom, the tranquillity of order, and a peace that the world cannot deliver.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Off to the Old Country...

Thanks for any prayers offered: I've managed to get affordable tickets for flights to and from Europe for my upcoming trip.

I will arrive in London just before noon on Thursday the 31st of December, and hope to spend about nine days in England and Scotland, probably visiting Oxford and lastly Edinburgh... then it's off to Italy to meet up with a friend of mine, with whom I'll do some travelling about - probably mainly in Rome and Florence (a visit to Gricigliano hopefully), plus Assisi, before flying to Australia from Rome on the evening of Thursday the 14th of January; I'll have the weekend in Melbourne, and get back home on Sunday afternoon.

Pray that all goes well! I look forward to meeting various people during this upcoming holiday!