A worthy cause

Most monasteries feel short of money. Mine has been running at an annual deficit for some years but life is far from desperate. That said, there are things we need to be doing or fixing that we cannot now do due to the limitations on our funds. One huge advantage we have is that our property is an asset that can secure us loans when we need them.

So when a monastery is both short of money and living in a house not its own, the danger is compounded. It is hard to practise the Benedictine vow of stability when it is quite possible to be evicted from the place in which one’s stability is rooted.

So please spare a thought for the brethren at the recently-founded monastery of Silverstream, in County Meath in Ireland. Fr Mark maintains the edifying and insightful blog Vultus Christi, and the brethren focus on the worthy celebration of the liturgy in its monastic integrity, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and providing hospitality particularly to priests in a country which largely holds its clergy in low esteem at present. Silverstream has a flourishing community of external oblates, but more imnportantly it has new recruits who need to be formed and housed in security.

Silverstream Priory

The brethren at Silverstream do not own their monastery, but they would like to buy it. Every year that they cannot make the purchase sees 12.5% added to the asking price of the monastery. So in the last few days Fr Mark and his brethren have appealed for help to buy their house. Amazingly, in short time someone stumped up €100,000. That is about 15% of what they need to make an outright purchase.

If you have some money that cries out to be directed to the glory of God, or you know someone else who has, please consider a donation to Silverstream. Fr Mark gives guidance on how to donate in a tax-effective way for those in the UK, the EU and the USA.

Just st St Joseph provided for our Lord and our Lady, so too should the Church provide for those who serve it in the least economically-profitable but most spiritually-profitable way. Such monks are the heart of the Church which prays without ceasing for a world that so much needs God’s grace, and yet is so oblivious to it. Please help them in even a small way, if you can.

Pax.

The brethren on a community walk

 

 

Diaconal Cheap Shot

Pat Archbold over at Creative Minority Report (CMR) has a knack for tracking down the best and the worst in ecclesial life, usually in his homeland, the USA. Recently he re-blogged a video put up by Deacon Sandy of Good Shepherd parish,  Menomonee Falls, in the diocese of Milwaukee. In one of the cruel twists of this fallen world’s disorder, he has been appointed to lead this parish. In this video Deacon Sandy provided an introduction to the parish, and despite his PC enthusiasm it was a depressing experience. He was upset when his video gained negative attention, not least on CMR. Having conceded that he would need to rethink his approach Pat agreed to take down the video, taking Sandy at his word. That appeared to have led to a resolution that looked positive for both parties.

So now Pat at CMR, with the help of Ben Yanke, has found a homily from only 10 days ago in which Deacon Sandy gratuitously insults Benedict XVI. And I mean gratuitously. It is the zenith of the genre of the cheap shot, focusing (as all these people do) on the papal red shoes (as if Benedict was the only pope ever to have worn them). He gets a fact wrong too – they were not Prada. So it is a cheap shot with a seasoning of untruth and lashing of injustice gravy. The video from Ben via Pat is below – the relevant bit starts at 9 minutes 55 seconds (in case the embedding code does not work!):

The egregious Sandy clearly implies to his co-religionists that Benedict XVI is not one of the tolerable clerics who dresses finely “for good reasons” but some, like Benedict XVI, wear “finery” because, “unlike us secular folks”, for him it is an “issue of self-esteem”.

Sandy got one thing very much right – he, and those who joined him in snide and mocking laughter, are certainly “secular folks”. I can only hope that others sitting in that church were equally as appalled as Pat, myself and others at Sandy’s abuse of the pulpit and his mandate to preach God’s word. He, and his co-religionist mockers, show themselves to be the smug, self-righteous little crew that has ever been a danger in the history of Christianity. Oh, how insightful they are, these wise ones. Yet I wonder if that Powerpoint projection system is really necessary, or just an extravagant (and ugly) way of camouflaging the vacuity of Sandy’s preaching? After all, he told Pat that the parish cannot afford kneelers (and thus they never kneel. What a surprise.)

Mockery is rarely appropriate. Unjust mockery, the cheap shot – never. In fact, I doubt it is ever just to mock any pope, even the ones who were personally or morally flawed, even the ones we just do not like. Their office demands they be given a level of respect since they act as Christ’s Vicar. However, since Sandy has revealed his true colours Pat has re-posted the original video (also found on Ben’s page with other Sandy horrors). If you look at it, it would be no injustice or cheap shot to mock Sandy and the perversion of Catholicism he espouses. Given his abuse of his preaching office, such mockery would be just indeed. What a nasty little man. What on earth is he doing running a parish?

One might suspect that any self-esteem issues lie more with Sandy than they ever would with Benedict XVI. Benedict XVI was humble enough in his own self-assessment to step down from an office, the gravest and most solemn office, which he felt unable to continue to fulfill. While I am not convinced that Benedict XVI was totally accurate in his self-assessment, yet Sandy would do well to imitate the pope he mocks and step down. His parish deserves better than it seems to be getting.

Sorry if anything above sounds intemperate. This Sandy appalls me. Immensely.

TIME does right by Benedict XVI

How refreshing it was to read an opinion piece on TIME’s website (admittedly by a Catholic) that pays due regard to the achievements of Benedict XVI. Christopher Hale makes several excellent points in his op-ed which you should go and read (in part to encourage secular media such as TIME to be as balanced in their coverage in the future). But a few deserve highlighting:

If the Church is indeed undergoing a revolution, it is important to note that Francis himself did not fire the first shot. That feat belonged to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who a year ago today announced his stunning decision to voluntarily renounce his office.

By renouncing the throne of Saint Peter, it was Benedict — not Francis — who performed the greatest act of papal humility in 2013, and perhaps the greatest act of papal humility during the two millennia history of the Catholic Church.

Benedict’s lesson for his Church and the world was clear: I love you. I choose you. You matter to me more than anything else…

…Benedict came into office during a strange and difficult time for the Catholic Church. The introvert pope had to replace the rock star Pope John Paul II during a time of great trial for the universal Church, which had been rocked by the sex abuse scandal in the United States and throughout the world.

Amidst the difficulties, Benedict attempted to re-center the Church around Jesus Christ. And when the dust settled, Benedict appeared to do the job well…

…To the surprise of many, Benedict’s teachings came back again and again to the central theme of God’s love…

…But of course, Benedict’s greatest act for the Church was his last action. In a world obsessed with the cult of personality and power, he reminded us that the greatest among us are the ones who give it all up for the sake of others.

Mr Hale also exposes the opinions on Benedict expressed in Rolling Stone for what they are: bilious, “mean-spirited antics”.

Even though the author is a guest writer for TIME, we can at least acknowledge that TIME has done something positive, allowing the record to be balanced on its website and allow a voice that goes against the libels that plague the reputation of Benedict XVI in the secular wilderness.

logo_time

Wonderful news on Fulton Sheen

Tickled indeed was I to read the news today that a miracle by the intercession of the Venerable Fulton Sheen has been approved unanimously by the medical commission that advises the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. It pertains to the miraculous recovery 61 minutes after birth of a stillborn baby in 2010.

The matter will next be put before Pope Francis who, if he approves the miracle, will decree Fulton Sheen’s beatification. It could even be decreed this year.

Sheen’s beatification will no doubt worry some. He does not obviously fit the humble stereotype so much praised these days. His consistent wearing of proper episcopal attire in public, yea on television!, will most likely be seen by some as triumphalism or clericalism, &c. His skill in raising impressive amounts of money for the Pontifical Mission Society, as well as his media ministry (which earned him an Emmy award), will be used as evidence of his vanity love of attention.

Let’s be honest. He did love the spotlight, and he loved being a priest and a bishop. And why not? He was born for this vocation, so why should he not love it? He did it so well. He attracted millions to watch him on TV when Catholicism was still not quite kosher for the general run of American society. He presented the truths of the Faith in an unerringly logical and accessible way, dealt with topical and controversial subjects, displaying humanity and fidelity to truth. He made converts. He was a televangelist before the name was tarnished by the flood of charlatans who would follow in his wake. Even today, though his flowery style might take some getting used to for some, he can captivate and inspire. He was a bishop who was also an apostle. And his humility was apparent to those who cared to look. His one hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day, without fail… the veiled confessions of his own weakness in the examples he used. Humility is a realistic knowledge of self, and I suspect he had a good dose of that.

So why not watch him talk about temptation, so apt for Lent. Watch it to the end.

Blessed Fulton Sheen – sounds good!

More than one kind of fasting – St Francis de Sales

With Ash Wednesday now passing for another year and our Lenten observance upon us, a few wise and perhaps not often seen words from St Francis de Sales might be helpful as we launch ourselves into the penitential discipline of Lent. In this sermon, a long one, he teaches on fasting. This excerpt bears a little reflection form us all:

To treat of fasting and of what is required to fast well, we must, at the start, understand that of itself fasting is not a virtue. The good and the bad, as well as Christians and pagans, observe it. The ancient philosophers observed it and recommended it. They were not virtuous for that reason, nor did they practice virtue in fasting. Oh, no, fasting is a virtue only when it is accompanied by conditions which render it pleasing to God. Thus it happens that it profits some and not others, because it is not undertaken by all in the same manner… We know very well that it is not enough to fast exteriorly if we do not also fast interiorly and if we do not accompany the fast of the body with that of the spirit…

We must fast with our whole heart, that is to say, willingly, wholeheartedly, universally and entirely. If I recount to you St. Bernard’s words regarding fasting, you will know not only why it is instituted but also how it ought to be kept.

He says that fasting was instituted by Our Lord as a remedy for our mouth, for our gourmandizing, and for our gluttony. Since sin entered the world through the mouth, the mouth must do penance by being deprived of foods prohibited and forbidden by the Church, abstaining from them for the space of forty days. But this glorious saint adds that, as it is not our mouth alone which has sinned, but also all our other senses, our fast must be general and entire, that is, all the members of our body must fast. For if we have offended God through the eyes, through the ears, through the tongue, and through our other senses, why should we not make them fast as well? And not only must we make the bodily senses fast, but also the soul’s powers and passions — yes, even the understanding, the memory, and the will, since we have sinned through both body and spirit.

Ash Wednesday, 1622

So let us think beyond food for our fasting self-denial. What is some little good that we can deny each of our senses? Such a universal fast is not only a noble offering to the Lord, but a way of taming all our senses, so easily and regularly indulged in this modern world. With our senses more tame, maybe our behaviour might become less selfish and our treatment of others more Christian.

A lot to hope for, perhaps? Well, if Confucius got anything right it was this: a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

And it can be a small one.

If you want a more detailed Lenten rule, you might want to read Dom Mark’s Lenten programme: it is practical, reasonable and traditional.

Pax.

A 1965 Missal Surprise

It has been a busy day (and not over yet), in part due to another newborn lamb to attend to. Say hello Flora.

Flora, still a little messy from her birth.

One of my fine blog correspondents (and there are some really good people who drop me a line) has sent me some interesting news, confirming and elaborating information received from another correspondent Michael over at St Bede Studio.

It seems that the 1965 Missal is not as dead as I had thought it to be. The monks at the thriving monastery of Fontgombault have been known to use it. It is reported that in 2011 the 1965 Missal was used for the Mass at which the new Abbot of Fontgombault, Dom Pateau, received the abbatial blessing from the Archbishop of Bourges.

Abbot Pateau receives the mitre

Formidable, Fontgombault! Revive ’65.

 

The New Lectionary is Dead – † RIP

The silence over the last year on the new lectionary’s progress has been unsettling. We had it from the Chairman of ICPELL himself that the new lectionary would make use of the ESV Bible, a revision of the RSV originally authorized for vernacular worship back in the mid-60s, and that things were advancing to the point that we might even this year see a first volume published. Then he, and everyone else, went quiet.

Br Tony Jukes SSS has discovered the reason for the silence. He has come across a statement from the Education Officer for Liturgy of the Archdiocese of Brisbane (Australia), Mrs Elizabeth Harrington, that explains all. It can be trusted as the Archbishop of Brisbane is (oops! was)  the Chairman of ICPELL. She gives a valuable and balanced summary of the dynamics of the process over the last decade, and comes to this climax:

After 10 years of unsuccessful efforts by ICPELL, it became apparent that the whole lectionary project was in serious jeopardy. It had proved impossible to find a lectionary that suits the Holy See, the copyright holders of the scripture translations, and bishops’ conferences. Another issue was that the Revised Grail psalms, which were planned to be part of the revised lectionary, have also lost support in some quarters.

At the end of 2013 the decision was made to dismantle ICPELL and leave each conference of bishops to make its own decision regarding a lectionary for Mass. Consequently, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference agreed to discontinue its involvement in the international lectionary project and to reprint the existing lectionary. It would contain a slightly modified version of the Jerusalem Bible currently in use and the Grail translation of the responsorial Psalms.

The general opinion is that some poor translations in the Jerusalem Bible are easily remedied and that other required changes to the text can be made fairly quickly.

So the cat is out of the bag. ICPELL is dead. Each bishops’ conference will make its own provision. For a start, we know now what the Australian bishops propose to do. The often unsuitable Jerusalem Bible will be retained, though with some attempt to remedy its “poor translations”. The New Grail Psalms are to be abandoned and the old Grail retained. Finally, they hope to have the new lectionary ready for the end of 2014 (the First Sunday of Advent I presume).

jerusalem

Most probably the bishops of England and Wales will not depart much from the Australian plan.

This will be something of a blow to some in the Reform of the Reform movement. For liberals and traditionalists, to use those sweeping labels for brevity’s sake, this development is probably welcome. The former tend to like the current lectionary as it is; the latter have their eyes firmly on the Vetus Ordo and its vastly different lectionary.

One factor in the demise of ICPELL might be the desire of Pope Francis to devolve as much as he can to local bishops’ conferences. ICPELL was not a curial body as such but it did represent centralization of sorts, and that is no longer encouraged.

It would have been nice to have heard it from someone more responsible in this matter than a diocesan education officer (though we must be grateful to her).

We could always Revive ’65.

**NB: the new lectionary was never envisaged for North America. Both the USA and Canada already have their own lectionaries in place. The new arrangement has at least the virtue of being consistent with what has happened in North America.**