Saturday, 19 December 2009

Dom Prosper Gueranger on Our Lady's Expectation:

This feast, which is now kept not only throughout the whole of Spain but in many other parts of the Catholic world, owes its origin to the bishops of the tenth Council of Toledo, in 656. These prelates thought that there was an incongruity in the ancient practice of celebrating the feast of the Annunciation on the twenty-fifth of March, inasmuch as this joyful solemnity frequently occurs at the time when the Church is intent upon the Passion of our Lord, so that it is sometimes obliged to be transferred into Easter time, with which it is out of harmony for another reason; they therefore decreed that, henceforth, in the Church of Spain there should be kept, eight days before Christmas, a solemn feast with an octave, in honour of the Annunciation, and as a preparation for the great solemnity of our Lord’s Nativity.

In course of time, however, the Church of Spain saw the necessity of returning to the practice of the Church of Rome, and of those of the whole world, which solemnize the twenty-fifth of March as the day of our Lady’s Annunciation and the Incarnation of the Son of God. But such had been, for ages, the devotion of the people for the feast of the eighteenth of December, that it was considered requisite to maintain some vestige of it. They discontinued, therefore, to celebrate the Annunciation on this day; but the faithful were requested to consider, with devotion, what must have been the sentiments of the holy Mother of God during the days immediately preceding her giving Him birth. A new feast was instituted, under the name of the Expectation of the blessed Virgin’s delivery.

This feast, which sometimes goes under the name of Our Lady of O, or the feast of O, on account of the antiphon which begins O Virgo virginum, is kept with great devotion in Spain. A High Mass is sung at a very early hour each morning during the octave, at which all who are with child, whether rich or poor, consider it a duty to assist, that they may thus honour our Lady’s Maternity, and beg her blessing upon themselves...

Most just indeed it is, O holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire thou hadst to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in thy chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also thine; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and, on earth, peace to men of good-will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy thy desires and ours. Make us redouble our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by thy powerful prayers for us, that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts.

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? quia noc primam similem visa es, nec habere sequentem. Filae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

O Virgin of virgins! how shall this be? for never was there one like thee, nor will there ever be. Ye daughters of Jerusalem, why look ye wondering at me? What ye behold, is a divine mystery.

(H/T to Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Eric Hester meeting with Bishop McMahon

Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham is the new Chairman of the Catholic Education Service

Eric Hester writes : 'Bishop McMahon is the bishop in charge of education for the Bishops' Conference. I recently went to see him after he and I had exchanged letters on the subject of the government's plans to make sex education compulsory for all children in state schools and the support this has received from the CES (Catholic Education Service). The first thing to say is that the bishop very readily agreed to meet me, arranged a time to suit my travelling to Nottingham and treated me most courteously, allowing our talk to go on beyond the hour arranged. In fact, it all went beyond courtesy: the bishop listened most carefully and sympathetically and allowed me to make all the points that I wanted and to produce the relevant evidence. He discussed things with me, raised some questions and was most willing to answer all my questions to him. And the result? Well, I had hoped to persuade the bishop there and then to renounce any support for the government. This he did not do. However, he agreed to consider carefully all that I had said to reconsider his position especially when the government announces the results of its 'consultation' and to talk the matter over with others.

'One thing the bishop said surprised me: he said that he was not aware that there was any special alarm among Catholic parents and others about the government's proposals. I think that we all need to consider what we do here. Perhaps we look at supportive websites, read our own publications and assume that the case for or against something will be obvious and does not need stating. It could be, too, that Catholics have been so badly treated in the past that they feel it is a waste of time writing to the bishops. I do not believe that this is the case with Bishop McMahon. We need to do more, I think. I do not want to shower the bishop with sudden letters, but it would be a good thing if those who do feel strongly ensured that they wrote to him, mentioning perhaps who they are 'Writing as a parent, grandparent, former teacher, school governor, etc' and making simple points in their own way to show their concern. At the same time, they could send a copy of the letter to their own bishop or write another letter to him.

The address is: His Lordship the Bishop of Nottingham, Bishop's House, 27 Cavendish Road East, The Park, Nottingham. NG7 1BB. Finally, I made it clear to the bishop that if the CES continued its support for the government, it, and the bishops, could expect the greatest opposition ever seen by lay Catholics in England since the rights of parents on sex education are 'inalienable' and may not be usurped by anyone, not even a bishop, let alone the members of the present government.

(h/t to Jackie Parkes)

Friday, 30 October 2009

Traditionalists of all churches: unite!

“Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!” Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica.

“Look: The fisherman is fishing above all on the ‘right’ side of the lake. But the water is muddy,” he said.

(The Holy Father is committing the unforgivable act of bringing traditional Anglicans into the one true fold, where they may be united to the chief shepherd, vicar of Our Lady's son.)

So Hans Kung writes about the latest move of our present Holy Father to send a life raft to the sinking ship of Anglicanism. Yes, Fr. Kung, we all know how bitter you feel now that you are a nobody, a laughing stock and a dinosaur from the sixties that some young catholics have not even heard about, let alone take seriously! And while you are now rapidly being forgotten about and becoming history, every work and word of your contemporary and colleague Joseph Ratzinger is listened to, studied and broadcast all over the web and blogosphere. For he has been given the power of the keys, as Pope Benedict XVI! Yet you have said that you do not in any way feel bitter...

While you gained popularity and support from the world's media by your attacks on the church's teaching and magisterium, in particular Humanae Vitae, Joseph Ratzinger was universally hated and vilified for defending it. But now the tables have been turned, and divine justice has been done. Our Lord will always reward obedience and fidelity to the teachings of his mystical bride the Church. For he who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Dr. Rowan Williams....

"I christen this ship C of E!"
Thus proclaimed Rowan Williams with glee;
Now he paddles around
Trying not to get drowned
On his archiepiscopal see.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A pastoral provision for dissaffected Anglicans

This news has just come in from Damian Thompson. This could have effects as far reaching as Summorum Pontificem! Also here is a statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

This is astonishing news. Pope Benedict XVI has created an entirely new Church structure for disaffected Anglicans that will allow them to worship together – using elements of Anglican liturgy – under the pastoral supervision of their own specially appointed bishop or senior priest.

The Pope is now offering Anglicans worldwide “corporate reunion” on terms that will delight Anglo-Catholics. In theory, they can have their own married priests, parishes and bishops – and they will be free of liturgical interference by liberal Catholic bishops who are unsympathetic to their conservative stance.

There is even the possibility that married Anglican laymen could be accepted for ordination on a case-by-case basis – a remarkable concession.

Both Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Rowan Williams are surprised by this dramatic move. Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was in Lambeth Palace only yesterday to spell out to Dr Williams what it means. This decision has, in effect, been taken over their heads – though there is no suggestion that Archbishop Nichols does not fully support this historic move.

Incidentally, I suspect that Rome waited until Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s retirement before unveiling this plan: the cardinal is an old-style ecumenist who represents the old way of doing things. His allies in Rome, and many former participants in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, are dismayed by today’s news, which clears away the wreckage of the ARCIC process.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is unlikely to be pleased, though he was vigorously concealing any displeasure at a press conference this morning. (There was a lot of spin about this decision “arising out of dialogue”.) The truth is that Rome has given up on the Anglican Communion. With one announcement, the Pope has given conservative Anglicans a protected route to union with Rome – and promised that, even once they are members of the Catholic Church, they will be offered a permanent structure that allows them to retain an Anglican ethos.

Thousands of Anglicans who reject women bishops and priests and liberal teaching on homosexuality are certain to avail themselves of this provision. Within a few years, there will probably be “Anglican ethos” Catholic parishes in England and Wales (and one wonders how many conservative cradle Catholics will gratefully start attending Mass there).

Under the supervision of a “Personal Ordinary”, who can be a priest or unmarried bishop, ex-Anglicans will be able to put forward their own candidates for ordination. In the short term, there will be no difficulty in ordaining married former Anglican clergy.

The Vatican would not use the phrase, but this is very close to the setting up of a “Church within a Church”. Yet that is not as unusual as it might seem: Eastern-rite Catholics have their own liturgy and church structures, and in America a small number of ex-Anglicans use service books that borrow from the Book of Common Prayer.

Anglicans will have to request their own “Personal Ordinariate”, to use the Vatican’s clunky term. How might that play out in England? This is just a guess, but the most pro-Roman C of E bishop, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, could submit a request to Rome. He would be ordained a Catholic priest, and might himself be made “ordinary” (bishop in all but name) of ex-Anglican clergy and lay people who have been received into the Catholic Church together.

This unprecedented canonical structure will affect different countries and dioceses in different ways. But we are not talking about the creation of an “Anglican-Rite” Catholic Church. Although some parishes will want to use the Anglican-usage liturgy, in England many ex-Anglican congregations will be only too happy to avail themselves of the new English translation of the Roman Rite, to be introduced next year.

This is a decision of supreme boldness and generosity by Pope Benedict XVI, comparable to his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass. The implications of this announcement will take a long time to sink in, but I suspect that this will be a day of rejoicing for conservative Anglo-Catholics and their Roman Catholic friends all over the world.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Ordination of Br. Lewis Berry to the diaconate

Please pray for Br. Lewis Berry of the Birmingham Oratory, who was yesterday evening ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Philip Pargeter. May he be blessed in his vocation as an Oratorian, and please God, as a future priest.

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, pray for us

Friday, 16 October 2009

The relics of St. Therese at the Knights of Malta conventual chapel

Yesterday evening the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux made a stop over at the Knights of Malta conventual chapel at St. John's and St. Elizabeth's hospital, St. John's Wood, London. I was asked to come down and sing for the pontifical English high mass and veneration by a friend of mine, where we sang Missa Surge Propera by Victoria and Surge Amica Mea by Guerrero.

The place as to be expected was packed out, as you can see above as the relics arrive. Naturally the sick were given priority for veneration, but in the chaos everyone managed it in the end. For us singers, we had to rehearse outside the chapel in the hospital corridors, as patients were being wheeled in and out!

We sang from what were very cramped balconies, and had to put up with several on - duty nurses barging their way through us singers to get a glimpse of the relics during the mass. Such is the popularity of this saint! When we had a few spare moments we all took some photos.

At the end there was slight hiatus, and then the relics were borne off to the sound of a piper, a most poignant moment, and very quickly the throng dispersed and went their separate ways. As for me, I stopped over on the way at a pub to Marylebone station to have dinner, and then catch the late train home to Birmingham.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Request for prayer

In this month of the rosary please do remember in your prayers, for things are going somewhat pear shaped for me at the moment. My gastric complaints have returned with a vengeance and I have had to leave work today, and I also have other issues on my hands....

Monday, 12 October 2009

It's just not going to happen...

For those that hold the notion that reunion between the Catholic and Orthodox churches could happen in a few years time, here is yet another reality check from Interfax Religion, the news agency of the Moscow Patriarchate, on the Feast of the Holy Rosary:

Moscow, October 7, Interfax - Head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk has denied reports that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia might visit the Vatican in the near future.

"No preparations are being made for the Patriarch's trip to the Vatican and his meeting with the Pope at any particular place or at any particular time," Archbishop Hilarion said while taking questions from journalists in Moscow.

The possibility of the Pope's visit to Russia in the near future is not being discussed, either, he said.

"The matter may imply a meeting on neutral ground, as they say now," he said.

Archbishop Hilarion insisted that the main purpose of a dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church is not so much a meeting between their heads as such as "radical improvement in our relations and the overcoming of the existing problems."

He mentioned among such problems proselytism, a too aggressive missionary policy on the part of the Roman Catholic Church in the traditional Orthodox territory in the 1990s, and the expansion of the Uniates in Ukraine.

Quite bluntly, reunion is just not going to happen! And this comes clearly apparent should anyone take into account the human reality of the split between East and West. You are not going to overturn a millenia of schism and doctrinal, spiritual and institutional divergence in just a few years. Both churches have gone their separate ways for a long time. And not are you going to overturn the legacy of state and political domination (among the Russians) or that of Islamic influence from Ottoman rule (among the Greeks, where they have the slogan: Orthodoxy or death!). Consequently there are strong undercurrents of deep, visceral hostility towards Catholicism and the papacy. At best, we can hope for greatly improved relations, but not alas for reunion.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Equal opportunities double standards

We hear constantly that we must show greater consideration for persons from ethnic minorities, particularly those of African and West Indian origin. Therefore according to this principle the secularist liberal establishment should be more sympathetic and understanding towards you if you are black. But, as Denise Haye, a Christian worker for Lewisham council was to discover, this only really applies if you hold the 'correct' liberal views and opinions. She has been wrongfully dismissed, for equal opportunities does not apply if you are a black Christian.

Her crime? She posted unfavourable comments about gays on the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) website using her work computer. She wrote that Sharon Ferguson (its head) should be "ashamed" of herself and that homosexuality was "not normal" and a sin. Citing the importance of repenting in the "last days", Haye added, in capitals, "the wages of sin is death". She at first unaware of what this site was, and had come across it while looking for church information online. The full story can be found on The Voice.

H/T to Fr. Tim

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Forty hours

The Birmingham Oratory holds its annual Forty Hours festival from the first Tuesday of October to the following Thursday, with an all night vigil from 10pm on Wednesday evening to 6.30am the following morning. We start off with a votive high mass of Corpus Christi, and finish off with a votive high mass of the Sacred Heart, with a procession of the Sacrament around the church. This year I was unable to make the all night vigil as I was too tired, but I managed to fit in a few hours before the sacrament, and take some pictures:

ADORO te devote, latens Deitas,
quae sub his figuris vere latitas:
tibi se cor meum totum subiicit,
quia te contemplans totum deficit.

Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
sed auditu solo tuto creditur;
credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius:
nil hoc verbo Veritatis verius.

In cruce latebat sola Deitas,
at hic latet simul et humanitas;
ambo tamen credens atque confitens,
peto quod petivit latro paenitens.

Plagas, sicut Thomas, non intueor;
Deum tamen meum te confiteor;
fac me tibi semper magis credere,
in te spem habere, te diligere.

O memoriale mortis Domini!
panis vivus, vitam praestans homini!
praesta meae menti de te vivere
et te illi semper dulce sapere.

Pie pellicane, Iesu Domine,
me immundum munda tuo sanguine;
cuius una stilla salvum facere
totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
oro fiat illud quod tam sitio;
ut te revelata cernens facie,
visu sim beatus tuae gloriae. Amen.

Tonight we finish with high mass of the Sacred Heart.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Two reality checks for ecumenism

There has been much talk of immanent reunion between Rome and Orthodoxy on some of the blogs, and there are also those in England who still believe that 'reunion' is still possible between what remains of the Anglican 'communion' and the Holy See. But the two following articles courtesy of Rorate Caeli and Fr. Dwight Longenecker should bring some of these professional ecumenists to their senses.

The first is an extract from a letter of Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, the Ecumenical Patriarchate's most prominent exponent of ecumenical dialogue to the Metropolitans of the Orthodox Church of Greece, denouncing the vehement opposition within that Church to dialogue with Rome:

3. It is being propagated very falsely and conspiringly that the signing of the union of the Churches is imminent! A professor emeritus of Theology, who is well known for his ill-will towards my person, had visited a Hierarch of the Church of Greece and had told him that he knew with certainty (!) that the union had already been signed (in Ravenna!) and that the relative announcement was a matter of time!!! Clergy and laity have approached me and asked me if it is true that the union is to be signed in Cyprus, in October!

Obviously, a feeling of unrest is being attempted among the people of God through this behaviour, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Church. However, those who are disseminating these things are fully aware (as long as they have not been blinded by empathy, fanaticism or a mania for self-projection), firstly, that the ongoing theological Dialogue has yet to span an extremely long course, because the theological differences that have accumulated during the one thousand years of division are many; and secondly, that the Committee for the Dialogue is entirely unqualified for the "signing" of a union, given that this right belongs to the Synods of the Churches.

Therefore, why all the misinformation? Can't the disseminators of these false "updates" think of what the consequences will be for the unity of the Church? «He who agitates (God's people) shall bear the blame, whoever he may be» (Galatians 5:10)

The second from Fr. Dwight is more pithy, concerning reports that the queen is extremely concerned (and rightly so) about the state the Church of England has fallen into:

Let's face it, the Church of England is never going to roll over and submit to the Holy Father, but it would be rather nice if a conservative group were to split off, join the Catholics and have Her Majesty come long for the ride. She could repudiate her role as the head of the Church of England, and the Anglicans could elect Elton John to take her place. That way they could have everything they really want: homosexual marriage and an old English queen as the head of their religion.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Eucharistic miracle in Poland and forthcoming 40 hours devotion

Reports have just got out about a miracle concerning a host that was dropped at a mass in Saint Anthony’s Church in Sokółka, Diocese of Białystok, Poland. I was first informed about this at high mass in the Oratory this morning by our superior who had just returned from Poland. Here is the news article from News Poland which I found on the web.

A special commission from diocese in Białystok is being checked if there occurred a miracle in Saint Anthony’s Church in Sokółka. Dissolved Host looks like a part of human heart. This interesting miracle has been kept in secret since six months.

“We are not sure that it is true. We must investigate this case and be sure that a real miracle occurred in this church” – said priest Andrzej Dębski who is a spokesman of the Curia.

The miracle happened during the mass. One of local priests was giving the Holy Communion when suddenly it fell down on the floor. So he took it and put into a chalice. After several days the chalice was filled with red water which was poured out on a special ceremonial tablecloth. As it turned out, there was also a strange things examined by the doctors. According to them it was a part of human heart at the point of death condition. The commission will try to investigate truthfulness of the miracle.

Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano

This miracle is a most welcome incentive for us to participate in the Oratory Forty Hours devotion which begins this next Tuesday evening at 8.00pm with high mass of the Blessed Sacrament, with all night vigil the following Wednesday to Thursday and closing with Votive High Mass of the Sacred Heart. This will be good opportunity to pray for the conversion of left wing heretics and right wing schismatics: in particular for the Russian Orthodox church, the Pius X society in their negotiations with the Holy See, and some of the Bishops of England and Wales....

Friday, 2 October 2009

Benedict XVI to come to Brum, and beatify Newman?

There is some reason to hope that our Holy Father may come and visit us at the Birmingham Oratory, if these extracts from this Catholic Herald editorial prove to be right:

It has been suggested that the Pope will be present at the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Church sources say London, Birmingham and Edinburgh would be likely destinations, as well as Oxford.

Some Catholics are hoping the Pope will break with convention and beatify Cardinal Newman himself.

Fr Federico Lombardi, the Pope's spokesman, said such a trip would be an "obvious occasion" to beatify Cardinal Newman. A journalist in the Czech Republic noted that Benedict XVI had previously expressed a preference to allow beatifications to be carried out by the local Church rather than by the Pope. In response, Fr Lombardi said: "We have a year to figure that out."

A Church insider said: "Cardinal Newman is the major event. It wouldn't be ridiculous to suggest that it's a possibility. The Pope has said it's his rule not to preside at beatifications but it's his rule to break.

"Pope Benedict is a great admirer of Newman and this visit is about Newman, and about what it says about the Church. It's not as simple as him turning up to bash politicians on the head. He always comes to boost those countries he visits, and England and Wales will benefit."

It seems that despite hysterical bigotry to the contrary from the National Secular Society, a papal visit will be almost universally welcomed in this country. But, please God, may he come to us! Now that will give the secularists and Tabletistas something to whinge and cry about...

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Habemus Episcopum!

Today on the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux it has been announced that Bishop Bernard Longley, Auxiliary in Westminster, has been appointed by our Holy Father to the metropolitan see of Birmingham. He seems to be a reasonably safe appointment, and thankfully at least we have not been given one of those episcopal horrors from the dioceses of the south coast!

Please do remember to pray for him that he will be a wise and holy pastor, who will feed the flock entrusted to his care well, and will courageously uphold the faith and magisterium of the church both in and out of season. Of all the dioceses in England and Wales, Birmingham has been among those that have withstood the assault on the church in the last forty years better. May it continue to do so, and also follow the program of renewal of Benedict XVI.

St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

St. Chad of Mercia, pray for us.

Ven. John Henry Newman, pray for us.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Today is the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, traditionally known in England as Michaelmas. This is a feast which has marked the beginning of autumn and of the new academic year in universities, as well as the end of the summer holidays (and the beginning of the grim long winter's nights...). There is also as far as I'm aware a superstition that it is bad luck to pick blackberries after this feast. If this is true, it does not bode well for me, as I have yet to harvest the considerable crop that appears in Birmingham for jam and puddings!

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;
contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.
Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:
tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,
satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,
qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,
divina virtute in infernum detrude.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Absolutely shocking!

The Bishops of England and Wales have commissioned two songs from Mike Stanley of CJM Music fame for the visit of the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux. They have been brought to my attention recently as examples of 'Catholic' music that really takes the biscuit for sheer awfulness and saccharine sentimentality.

The MP3 files can be downloaded here: Child of Grace (Therese) and My Song of Today. Being an amateur composer, organist and singer myself (go to my CPDL site for what I have written), I thought I might listen and give my opinion. They are exactly as I have heard others describe them, and let me tell you, they require considerable stamina and guts to listen to. I must say, I take back all my harsh words against Maria Parkinson's As I kneel Before You. It sounds like Bach and Palestrina in comparison to this! And a word of warning: DO NOT LISTEN to the downloads without having a sick bucket handy.

I feel sorry for the Little Flower that such appalling music should have been written in her honour. Even I could do a better job than this shocking and embarrassing attempt! Why the hell couldn't the Bishops of England and Wales commission Britain's leading Catholic composer James MacMillan for the task? Now that would have indeed been a genuine and real act of devotion, for one of twentieth century's greatest saints.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Grant Roberts R.I.P.

Of your charity please pray for the repose of the soul of Grant Roberts, a long time stalwart of the Oratory parish community, the Latin Mass Society and one of the founding members of the Birmingham branch of the Walsingham Association. He died in hospital of a heart attack on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, following on severe cancer of the liver. This was just short of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the branch.

This morning an extraordinary form requiem was celebrated for his repose in St. Philip's chapel. May he and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Walsingham Association Birmingham branch 40th anniversary mass

Yesterday the Birmingham branch of the Walsingham Association celebrated its fortieth anniversary with the mass of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrated by Bishop Philip Pargeter,Auxiliary of Birmingham. It was a very joyful occasion, but it was also overshadowed by the death of one of the founding members, Grant Roberts, yesterday. Please remember to pray for the repose of his soul.

Above is Bishop Pargeter delivering the homily: he celebrated the golden jubilee of his ordination this year. For those of you wondering, this is a concelebrated English novus ordo mass celebrated ad orientem! Below is Anne Roebuck leading the bidding prayers: the national Walsingham association chairman and stalwart of the Oratory parish.

Unfortunately due to the lighting in the Oratory unless you have professional equipment photographs come out with a red tinge! But that can't be helped. The mass continues with the offertory:

Bishop Pargeter leads the final prayer and blessing:

And then we have the procession of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham around the church to the hymn, 'Sing the praises of Mary, the Mother of God.' The Walsingham mass is an annual event in September which is an integral part of the devotional life of the parish. There is a great tradition of devotion and pilgrimages to Our Lady of Walsingham here which was begun by the late Fr. Humphrey Crookenden, one of the Oratory fathers who died in 1978.

And finally, we had a buffet in the parish hall afterwards, where Bishop Pargeter was presented with a gift for his golden jubilee of ordination on behalf of the Walsingham Association members.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pope to visit England next year

Just recently news has come from unofficial sources that Pope Benedict XVI will visit England next year, at a time that could well coincide with the upcoming beatification of Cardinal Newman. If this is true, let us hope he will come to visit us in the Oratory in Birmingham. If that does happen, it will be one of biggest news stories of the English church in years. And what a snub it will be to our enemies and critics! I would love to see the reaction of the Tablet and some of the Bishops of England and Wales to a papal high mass in the Oratory...

For nearly forty years, particularly during the church's grim Babylonian captivity in the 70's and 80's, we were an embattled ghetto holding fast to the doctrinal, liturgical and devotional traditions of the church often by the skin of our teeth. Now those days are well and truly over and we are seen as the model for the Benedictine reforms, particularly on the web. The combination of the beatification of our founder, with a visit from the Holy Father will be the vindication of our efforts and what we have stood for.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Public health warning!

Bones has issued an urgent health warning of a terrible new disease that has broken out across England and Wales. He explains in great detail the symptoms, potential remedies and what to do if you think that you have caught it.

It seems that I have caught a very mild form of it, but if you are a militant secularist suffering serious convulsions about what I have posted on in the last three days, please follow the link!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The veneration of Saint Thérèse's relics

In Birmingham there is a great tradition of devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the Oratory is no exception. So deep is this that there are several parishes dedicated to her, almost every Catholic church has a shrine to her and Teresa is a very common name for Catholic girls in the city. So it was be expected there would be a big response to the visit of her relics, but not as great as I imagined!

Yesterday afternoon, after the service of Midday prayer was over for the arrival of Saint Thérèse's relics, seeing the sheer numbers of people present, I thought that it would be better to go away for an hour and wait for the crowds to subside. So after having a pint with some fellow Oratory parishioners, I came back to discover that the throng had not diminished but considerably increased! So much so that there was a long queue stretching right down the street.

Nevertheless, with a little patience I got in to venerate the casket. But very little time was given with only 5 seconds allowed to kneel before it, and then we were moved on. The sick and disabled were given priority, and were allowed to sit in the cathedral: and with just all of them alone the pews were filled to capacity!

Reports from the secularist media about the visit of the relics have ranged from cynicism at best to downright hysteria and bigotry. Most of talked about the usual knee - jerk 'medieval superstition', while some have even made thinly veiled demands that the authorities stop this event! I have seen articles saying, 'religious tolerance is being taken too far!', 'vast crowds being duped and led astray', 'politicians should not kowtow to fundamentalists', etc. etc.

But these people have good reason to react badly. The Little Flower is a saint who means business: the Nemesis of secularism and atheism! Indeed when I came back today, the crowds were even bigger, with the police maintaining a benign supervision of the event. I asked them how many people had come and how did they react to it. They told me they about 5000 - 10000 could have turned up, and yet this has been all very orderly and well organised with no problems whatsoever. Yet to secularist paranoia, Christian fundamentalist terrorists are in the making in this gathering..

Indeed, to give an idea of the scale of the crowds, here is the back of the queue towards the cathedral. It took about quarter of an hour to move through it to venerate.

This event was a real sign of Catholic unity and fellowship. People came from all across Birmingham, the Black Country and beyond, with every parish being represented, and with groups coming from other parts of the diocese in Stoke on Trent, Lichfield, Worcester and Coventry. Almost every nationality and ethnic group was represented, and Catholics whether liberal or traditionalist laid aside their differences to come together in prayer and veneration before the saint. Never once before I have seen such unity in diversity, and such a powerful sense of the mystical body of Christ. How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers live in unity!

The Franciscans of the Immaculate came down for the day from Burslem, Stoke on Trent, where they confirmed to me that five of them have just set up a new friary. They have now settled in well, and so my prayers have been answered. Deo Gratias! Later on they were to join us in the Oratory this evening for vespers.

But this is only the beginning! The relics have another month to tour England and Wales, and what we see here will be nothing compared with what will happen when the relics visit London. Let us hope that the media go wild with fury, for we will then know that the Little Flower has struck England's secularist heart.

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, pray for us.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

St. Thérèse comes to Birmingham

Today this afternoon at two o'clock the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux arrived in St. Chad's cathedral, stopping over in Birmingham over the weekend during their tour of England and Wales. I arrived just in time to the joyous peeling of the cathedral bells, where the procession was just starting up.

Slipping through the crowds, I managed to catch a few pictures. Bishop Philip Pargeter, Auxiliary of Birmingham is leading the procession, while behind him are the nuns of the Carmel of Wolverhampton. For many of them, it may be their first day out in years.

And here is the reliquary, borne in procession to the cathedral:

I expected the cathedral to be busy, but I didn't realise that I would be very fortunate to get inside for the service that was to follow! We were held waiting by the doors while the stewards managed to squeeze in a few extra persons.

And when I got inside, it was standing room only!

Then followed sung Midday Prayer, led by Bishop Pargeter, with the nuns of Wolverhampton Carmel.

At the end of the recessional, we were asked to wait for official photographs of the occasion, before beginning veneration. Seeing the vast crowds, I thought it would be better to go away for an hour for them to subside, and come back later. However, I was in for a surprise when I came back! More later...