Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Some obvious rambling, and a difficult question.

A question for you all. How does one encourage the interest of young people in the old rite Mass? I drag the odd friend along from time to time, but most of them don't come back - they think it's not their cup of tea. Which is, on one level, absolutely fine - I'm all for legitimate diversity, have no quibbles with the validity of NO, etc etc. At the same time, however, going to one old rite Mass isn't likely to mean that you've got a handle on the differences between the liturgies; and it seems to me that there is so much good to be gained from the old rite that as many people as possible should have the chance to become acquainted with it. But it's quite difficult to say to folk - especially students, it seems - 'Look, this liturgy is great, and enormously edifying and prayerful, and has helped me hugely... but you might want to read all this stuff first, and it'll take about six weeks to stop being confused by singing one thing while the priest does something else...' Or rather, it's perfectly easy to say; it's just difficult to get them to do it...

I began going to the Trid - just after I realised I had to become a Catholic - primarily because, a) as a medievalist I had a professional curiosity, and b) I had a couple of Triddy friends whose judgement I trusted. (Actually the first old rite Mass I heard was in a convent in Liechtenstein and I had no clue what was going in, but it all helped to push me to Rome...) It occurs to me that these factors involve several helpful circumstances. Not having been going to Mass all my life (which is obviously not good per se), I was used to the notion that one might have to put some effort into following liturgy, at least for a while; I was well aware that there had recently been vast changes in the practice of Latin Catholicism, and had a much firmer grasp on fifteenth-century that late-twentieth-century ecclesiastical matters; having first been familiar with bits of the Mass for musical purposes, in Latin, I knew just how awful the ICEL translations of the Mass were.

To state the obvious: a great many young cradle Catholics have practically no idea that the Mass changed recently, beyond vague ideas that it used to be in Latin and there were no altar girls. Now young folk I know are by no means hostile to the idea of the old rite as such (unless, and inasmuch as, they associate it with the SSPX and disobedience: lots of first-years in Edinburgh wander into the SSPX chapel near their halls, and it hits them for six). At the same time, however, they have absolutely no idea why it might be quite a good thing to have some notion of liturgical tradition: no idea that the Church has two thousand years of liturgical development with which to nourish her children; no idea that dubious vernacular translation is a matter for concern, because it robs the faithful of food; no idea that learning how the Latin Church conducted her liturgy for a thousand years or so might offer aid in living out one's baptismal vows. All of which, I think, is accompanied by a vague idea that Vatican II changed everything (in some unspecified way) and that this was somehow necessary. This may all be an unfair over-generalisation, but, purely anecdotally, this is the king of impression that I get. And while such ideas might result in benign indifference to the celebration of liturgy according to the old rite, it is clear that general indifference to the riches of tradition is not helpful for souls. People may do perfectly well, of course, without paying any attention to things before 1969; but it seems almost wilfully counter-intuitive to ignore the feast of prayer, thought, discipline, art and devotions which may well help so many of the faithful.

So, carissimi, are there any particularly good ways to encourage people to put in the bit of time and effort it will take to become newly acquainted with Tradition? Particularly since lots of my Catholic chums probably pigeon-hole me (in the nicest possible may) as Mad Retro Convert. There are, of course, all the practical political problems as well - advertising being a bit of an issue, lack of enthusiasm from bishop (though he allows it, Deo gratias, and I suppose he can't be enthusiastic about everything), not wanting to tread on other PPs' and chaplains' toes, blahdiblah... I appreciate that Being A Saint is always the best answer to, well, pretty much anything. But apart from that ongoing project - any hints and tips?

Monday, May 29, 2006

On Father Lang's 'Turning Towards the Lord'

A very good friend of ours has forwarded a link to us pertaining to the great attention given within the last month to Father Lang's 'Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer'.
"For this reason, preserving and enriching the spiritual mysticism of the liturgy is no longer an option for us, but a duty. If the world falls into the pit of human self-sufficiency, thus becoming more thirsty for the infinite, the Church cannot help but offer the liturgy, because in Christ humanity is raised up into the divine presence. It is not by lowering itself to superficiality that the liturgy will motivate us to reflect the values of the infinite to the world, but by affirming these mystical and divine dimensions more and more. Today more than ever, this becomes a reflection of the prophetic role of the Church as well. Thank you, Fr. Lang, for this book which will help us to turn our gaze ever more toward the Lord."
These comments are from the Secretary for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don.
Father Lang's involvement with Juventutem is certainly a blessing.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Thank you

Today is the 22nd Anniversary of my birth. Deo gratias. Please pray for me.
I assure you all of my prayers - particularly at the Holy Sacrifice this day (we have the Schola today! Missa Solemnis, I don't think one could ask for more.)

Thou art of all Thy gifts Thyself the crown.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Are those ridiculous pieces of 'art' in Melbourne still up?

If so... to anyone in Melbourne...

Just go and remove the damnable things. Go on. Do it.

Mamma would be proud...


The Fruit of Yesterday's Class

Yesterday I learnt that in 1886 a new Anglican bishop was appointed for Melbourne. His name was F.F. Goe. Mr Goe's father was an atheist, and refused to give his son a Christian name. So, for a time, Melbourne's Anglicans were under the care of the right reverend Field Flowers Goe. Hooray for popery!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Happy Feast!

Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of my baptism. Today is the Feast of Our dear Mother, Our Lady Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia, and of Juventutem 2008. It is the 24th here!
We had 7am Mass this morning, amidst morning rays shining through the windows on a chilly Autumn day. Exposition followed simply, with a beautiful chanting of the Litany of Loreto.
And here, my dear ones, is one of the wonderful things about the Latin language. Your finger can write exhortations in one of the Jewish heartlands of Melbourne on dewy tram shelter windows. 'Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis!' The unsuspecting pagan has no clue as he sounds the words out. I hope they last all the morning. Sneaky, but satisfying.
Please do pray for Australia, it is quite a struggle.
On a side note, as per usual, 'Exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam, alleluia: et clamor meus in conspectu ejus, introivit in aures ejus, alleluia, alleluia!' Vere!
I am going to miss singing the Vidi Aquam - I have finally, sort of, worked it out.
The Liturgy Planning images website features dogs?
Hitherto their conversation had been on the verge of jest and earnest; now it took a more pensive tone.

"The nuns of St. Theresa are very strict, I believe, Mr. White," said Miss Bolton.
"Yes," he made reply; "I have fears for the Mrs. Wardens and Mrs. Principals who at their age undertake it."
They had got home, and White politely rang the bell.
"Younger persons," said he tenderly, "are too delicate for such a sacrifice."
Louisa was silent; presently she said, "And what will you be, Mr. White?"
"I know not," he answered; "I have thought of the Cistercians; they never speak".
"Oh, the dear Cistercians!" she said; "St. Bernard wasn't it?—sweet, heavenly man, and so young! I have seen his picture: such eyes!"
White was a good-looking man. The nun and the monk looked at each other very respectfully, and bowed; the other pair went through a similar ceremony; then it was performed diagonally. The two ladies entered their home; the two gentlemen retired.

JHN - Loss and Gain - which I am enjoying very much - when I should be writing papers...

Friday, May 19, 2006

New Vocations Video at

There is a beautiful video presentation now available on the international FSSP website. It is titled 'Called to become a priest...' It is available to view online or to download. It brought tears to my eyes - men, what are you waiting for? Grab your bags heavenly recruits, and off you go! The video is very sweetly European with familiar voice and faces.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Deacon Joe Lee to be ordained June 3rd

I'm sure you all remember Deacon Lee and his rather comical spiritual talk on why the Tridentine Mass. Well, as I was in Kansas City this past weekend surprising my mom for Mother's Day, I saw him there at the Fraternity church I always attend when I come back home. He gave a great sermon and after Mass we got to chat a little bit.

Anyways, he will be ordained a Priest very soon. June 3rd in Denton, Nebraska USA to be exact. Please keep him in your prayers as we soon add another traditional priest to our ranks. The more traditional priests we ordain, the more traditional Masses can be offered all over the world.

God bless Deacon Joe Lee, the Fraternity of St. Peter, and all who fight for a greater freedom of the Mass of Ages!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Amsterdam Indult - The Story

Starting mid-September the Classical Roman Rite will be celebrated every Sunday in the Saint Agnes Church in Amsterdam. Priests of the Fraternity of Saint Peter will celebrate the Liturgies.

The search for an Indult location already started when Mgr. Bomers was still bishop of Haarlem. Already. Mgr. Bomers was always very open toward Una Voce and the possibility to establish a Indult in Amsterdam. However the situation in his diocese did not make it possible for him to designate a Church. The priests and parish board had to be convinced, unfortunately to without success. Mgr. Bomers himself showed his good will by ordinating six priests for the Fraternity of Saint Peter in juni 1998.

On September 9th of the same year Mgr. Bomers gave a talk in Brussels. After this talk he told father Duroisin fssp that he had found a church for the fraternity in Amsterdam. The details would follow soon. Unfortunately, completely unexpected, he died on September 12th while posting a letter. Nobody knew which church he had in mind.

Meanwhile the parish of Saint Agnes in Amsterdam was fighting for the preservation of their Church, which was on the nomination to be demolished. On August the 15th they organise a ‘oldfashined’ Marial Holy Hour [Marialof in Dutch, don’t know if the translation is correct], attended by the bishop. Mgr. Bomers in very impressed and on September 14th they receive a letter thanking them for their hospital and informing them that he had found a destination for their church. Unfortunately, since Mgr. Bomers died on September the 12th, nobody knew hwat he had in mind.

Meanwhile the successor of Mgr Bomers, Mgr Punt told Una Voce that his policy with regard to the ‘Tridentine’ Liturgy would be the same as his predecessor. Unfortunately he did not have the power to assign a church.

On December 2005 we were informed that somebody contacted the headquarters of the Fraternity of Saint Peter about the possibility of having the Latin Mass in the Saint Agnes in Amsterdam. A contact was established with the parish counsel, and the two storylines were finally connected.
The Saint Agnes Church is a beautiful church build in the 1930s that was, since it was on the nomination to be demolished, never renovated according to the new liturgical orientation. This makes this church especially suitable for the Latin Mass.

Creative Crisis, Catharsis and Contemplation

Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev, ca. 1410
Perpetua has already commented on the Crisis, Catharsis & Contemplation exhibition being staged at St Patrick's Cathedral and having viewed it myself, I thought it was time to add my voice to those who were 'scandalised by this sacrilege'.

I will not dwell on the appropriateness of using the cathedral as a gallery and installing profane works inside a sacred space. It is sufficient to say as the temple of God and seat of the bishop it has a specific function for the community of believers for which its administrators will be held accountable at another time.

Therefore let me turn my attention to the works themselves which include the prophetic (a crumbling redgum altar), profane (defaced pages from Genesis), pathetic (mocking of an individual who happens to be schizophrenic), puzzling (several feathers inside a neon lit chamber entitled The Visitation), pantheistic (the presence and worship of God in nature as seen through film stills) and political (twisted wire figures representing the struggle in the Holy Land).

Cardinal Newman in his Idea of A University wrote the fine arts are "high ministers of the beautiful and the noble ... special attendants and handmaids of Religion; but ... are apt to forget their place, and, unless restrained with a firm hand, instead of being servants, will aim at becoming principals." A few lines later he explains the consequence of unrestrained art, "Put out of sight the severe teaching of Catholicism ... as men now would put it aside in their philosophical studies, and in no long time you would have the hierarchy of the Church, the Anchorite and Virgin-martyr, the Confessor and the Doctor, the Angelic Hosts, the Mother of God, the Crucifix, the Eternal Trinity, supplanted by a sort of pagan mythology in the guise of sacred names, by a creation indeed of high genius, of intense, and dazzling, and soul-absorbing beauty, in which, however, there was nothing which subserved the cause of Religion, nothing on the other hand which did not directly or indirectly minister to corrupt nature and the powers of darkness." Now it is aptness to forget their place, use of pagan mythology in the guise of sacred names and ministering to the corrupt nature and powers of darkness which I charge against these exhibits in the cathedral.
The works are meant to engage the gothic architecture and art of the cathedral but instead enrage those who have a true sense of decency, devotion and discernment. The works are meant to react to liturgy, scripture and history but detracts from them everything which is good, holy and true. The works are meant to reflect the Christian story but deflect what is most unique to it by introducing elements which are foreign. The works are meant to express the tension between the past and the present but repress the tension between the supernatural and natural, all too often reducing the former to the latter. The works are meant to show beauty attuned to modern culture but throw light on how that culture no longer knows what it means because it is divorced from harmony, perfection and radiance. The works are meant to transform the space but deform its nature and purpose.
Perhaps as a conclusion I should let Pope Pius XII speak from his encyclical Mediator Dei, which although referring to liturgical art could be applied to this exhibition in a liturgical space: "Modern art should be given free scope in the due and reverent service of the church and the sacred rites, provided ... the needs of the Christian community are taken into consideration rather than the particular taste or talent of the individual artist ... Nevertheless, in keeping with duty of Our office, We cannot help deploring and condemning those works of art, recently introduced by some, which seem to be a distortion and perversion of true art and which at times openly shock Christian taste, modesty and devotion, and shamefully offend the true religious sense. These must be entirely excluded and banished from our churches, like anything else that is not in keeping with the sanctity of the place."
Edit: Jude has posted the following at his blog - I thought that it would be helpful to archive the comments in one place (here) for future reference. Wonderful work, Jude. The feathers make me think about sacrificial hens. -P.

For the last two weeks the Archdiocese of Melbourne has been hosting an exhibition of contemporary art, Crisis, Catharsis and Contemplation, inside St. Patrick's Cathedral. Now what must be stressed is the exhibition is of contemporary art and is inside the cathedral, not in a gallery or museum.The exhibits themselves include:

A film of a monstrance morphing into the Divine Mercy image, the television being located inside the baptistery.

A fibreglass boat representing the arrival of the first Catholics, located adjacent to where deceased archbishops are commemorated.

A floodlit confessional representing the light of Christ from His tomb.

Pages from the book of Genesis used as a canvas to write the word HOPE.

A suit with large crucifix inspired by an eccentric Melbourne figure who "wears a crucifix around his neck but carries a heavier cross in his mind."

Stills on a television depicting the four elements.

A series of distorted images projected onto a sheet directly behind the high altar.

Several white feathers illuminated by a neon light.

Inside a cage shattered wine glasses containing a stone, fir tree planted in red ochre and feather representing the persons of the Holy Trinity.

A film on places of worship in Japan.

A three panel icon depicting abstract figures reminiscent of animist masks.
A television set on St Brigid's altar.

Veils with silhouettes, one of Christ Crucified, hanging near the sanctuary.

A redgum altar which has been partially hollowed out.

While I am sure the works were exhibited with the best of intentions, unfortunately their presence in a sacred place is clear evidence that the road to hell is paved with such intentions, so let me describe them and the impression they give to the observer. (Here I draw on verbal and written comments on the exhibit.)

The morphing monstrance in the baptistery and lit confessional have a Catholic focus, so there were no complaints except they prevented the use of those rooms.

The pages from Genesis is perhaps a comment on the hope springing from God's decision not abandon humanity but out of his love, to seek to redeem and restore it. Yet by using pages from the bible as a canvas it gives credibility to claims that Catholics are ignorant of and do not honour the Word of God.

The 'eccentric' figure referred to is actually a gentleman with an active interest in the Christian faith, where he finds people who share his interests and treat him with the dignity he deserves. Though he may have a terrible cross to bear, it does not need to be born aloft for passersby to stare at and no doubt mock.

The stills of the four elements has a label referring to the presence and worship of God in nature, which could easily be interpreted as saying the Catholic Church advocates some form of pantheism.

The stills projected behind the high altar can only be described as ghastly and ghostly, while the illuminated feathers entitled 'The Visitation' has no bearing on the mystery and only conjure images of poultry having been plucked for voodoo rituals.

The shattered wine glasses, which the artist refers to as chalices, are a tribute to the painter Rublev and his icon of the Holy Trinity, yet they are also meant to be a return to primitive worship in the forest, which again has pantheistic overtones.

The film on Japanese worship might be what the curator referred to as a "thoughtful interruption in the [sacred] space". It may also be intended to appeal to Japanese tourists who visit the Cathedral.

The icon panel is completely abstract and to the observer looks more like pagan gods in headress with their mouths wide open and bellies empty, waiting to consume the viewer. There is no Christian element whatsoever and this 'icon' fails to provide a window into that world populated by angelic spirits and saintly men.

The television set on the altar is a comment on how worship of Christ in the Mass has been superseded by worship of celebrities on the television. Now there is some truth to this statement but surely it can be depicted without desecrating a consecrated altar which though not in use remains sacred because it contains the relics of the saints.

Perhaps the only pieces which might be considered of having any bearing on the Catholic Church are the fibreglass boat and the redgum altar because they possess prophetic qualities. The boat represents the first Catholic priests and bishops who endured hardship first in coming to the country, then in establishing the Church. However in its indoor setting it is more like St. Peter's barque having been grounded on the shores of modernity, driven off course by the 'Spirit of Vatican II'.

The redgum altar, partially hollowed out with the broken fragments scattered on the ground, has been placed in a side chapel. In its broken condition, it represents the sacrilege perpetrated in many churches since Vatican II, and in its position relative to the old side altar which is still intact, it represents a contrast between the modern and traditional liturgies.

From these comments it appears that most of the exhibits were a waste of [sacred] space and this leads to an important question: How can the Archbishop allow St Patrick's to be so used? (Or should that be abused?) I will not presume to pass judgment upon he whom God has appointed to be my shepherd and who stands in greater favour with Him than I ever could. Instead I will refer readers to St Paul's words to the Thessalonians, "Omnia autem probate quod bonum est tenete, ab omni specie mala abstinete vos" and to paragraph 195 of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Mediator Dei, in which the subject of modern art in a liturgical context is addressed. I think that if His Grace was aware of these lines he would not have consented to the exhibition being staged in the Cathedral.

I shall end with a brief reflection on the exhibition's title, Crisis, Catharisis & Contemplation. Looking back it has proven there really is a crisis both in contemporary art and the Church. It is a crisis brought about by a catharsis of the supernatural, traditional, transcendent and virtuous. It can only be solved by contemplating and returning to the eternal truths made known to us through scripture and tradition.

As Jeremias said, "Confusus est omnis artifex, quoniam falsum est quod conflavit et non est spiritus in eis. Vana sunt et opus risu dignum in tempore visitationis suae peribunt."

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Ne perenni cremer igne

Listening to extracts from Meister Eckhart must be one of the torments of the damned.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Amsterdam Indult

Starting medio September Amsterdam wil have an Indult!

Every Sunday at 12:00 hr.
Saint Agnes Church
Amstelveenseweg 163
Amsterdam (Oud Zuid)

I will post the miraculous history on how this Indult was established later.

Deo Gratias!!!

Keeping clear of the Crypt

It seems that dear Bishop John Bede Polding will not have a forced introduction to that contraption called 'television', afterall! Nor feathers or neon lights. I am sure that both he and his successor would much rather the masses be familiarised with that well tried, faithful companion called the Office. Surgite!

Comment on the last comment:

"I think that the issue of abortion is a liturgical matter because it is one of the most grievous sins committed by man and for which our Lord offered himself first on the Cross, now on the altar. What is more, the Blessed Sacrament as a continuation of the Incarnation in the womb of our Lady should remind us of the countless souls which are incarnate in the wombs of women at every moment in time."

How beautiful.

As an unrealted aside, I bought a little statue of St Joseph today.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What material impact?

While this reflection isn't specifically on the Liturgy, I'm sure that it will still be of some interest.
One of the platforms that the major political parties will pounce upon towards the upcoming state elections in November will be the decriminalisation of abortion. It is currently illegal in Victoria, but there is a legal dispensation for the usual pathetic reasons.

It would be preferable, say many poor souls, that the law be changed to say that: "No abortion be criminal when performed by a legally qualified medical practitioner at the request of the woman concerned."

No God, no sin. No law, no guilt. No baby, no baby. Because, you know, abortion is one of those fashionable surgeries, like liposuction, a face lift, or something... I don't want to be fat - I don't have to be. Me, wrinkles? No way, not for me. I don't want to be a mother. So I won't be. Thanks be to... um, me.

Now, back to the issue at hand. Please read the following comments from Mr Baillieu, newly elected leader of the often touted conservative Opposition:

"The criminal sanction is outdated, (but) I don't think decriminalisation is something we'd be pressing for desperately," Mr Baillieu told The Age. "I don't think it's going to make much difference to the world. But in the event that it was there, I'd probably take the same view as Robert [former leader, supported decriminalisation].

"Being premier is about the principle issues and advancing the principle causes. That issue (abortion) is an emotional cause, but it's not going to materially change this state. If you are dealing with emotional, divisive issues which don't have a material impact on the state, then I think you really need to have very substantial support to embark on an exercise like that."

I wonder if you repeat it long enough that after a while it will begin to make more sense?

Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state. Killing babies has no material impact on the state.

No. On second reading? No.

Killing babies? Yes, Mr Baillieu. Yes, to you too, Mr Bracks, you Premier, you Maronite Catholic, you. That is what abortion is.

But P, it's the ultimate CHILDCARE, baby.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

St. Agnes, Pray for Amsterdam

Friday, May 05, 2006

Because it isn't an Optional Memorial

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

10 books for change - and a TV on an altar

To my great delight, the Mannix library is having another booksale. 'The Life of Christ' by Bishop Fulton Sheen for $2.50! That's Australian dollars! I came across that sweet little Order of Mass in Latin and English booklet, and I got that for free! Quite sought after in these corners. Deo gratias. Wonderful too, 'Australian Liturgical Week - Melbourne, 1955'. This one is a collection of papers, and particularly interesting is the section on techniques for teaching liturgy to young people. Another treasure to delve into for some ideas and inspiration for $2.50.

My book pile is now that little more heavier, and I hope that I have some titles that will satisfy some friends. Which reminds me - Jude now has a blog: Pro Sanctis et Fidelibus, and is blogging up a right holy storm! Here is a sample:

I am sick and tired of calls for active participation
Because when made it can only cause frustration
For when the laity's role is given consideration
Like the priest they do have a proper vocation
It comes by virtue of baptism and confirmation
As a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation
This they must each accomplish by manifestation
Of prayer, penance, charity as befits their station
Leaving the sacraments and grace's communication
To those duly anointed for their administration.

Ad secundum - there is currently a television set on the altar of the chapel of St Brigid in the Cathedral as part of an art exhibition for Carnivale Christi. On passing I was quite revolted. I then read the accompanying blurb. It mentioned the television taking over the place of Christ. I looked again, and in my repulsion, I agreed. The 'exhibit' is completely sensible. The TV has been invested - let us all passively watch, too much noise to pray... I'm secretly fond of the crumbling altar exhibit in one of the side chapels, too. I'm not fond of a piece of work constructed upon the identity of a well-known soul in Melbourne.

In conclusion, I leave you with a quote from one of my lecturers - "Some churches now look so clinical that you could do a heart-transplant in them" - "without really a change of heart", I'm sure he added.

Deo gratias that I spent some quality time this evening in a church far from that description. I must approach the Parish Priest regarding future festivities... When I was in year 12, I didn't know what a monstrance was.