Blogged by James Preece 6 Days ago...
If you want to appear wise, then predicting the future is a very silly thing to do. The future has a nasty habit of doing it's own thing and making those who tried to predict it look very silly indeed.
That said, I cannot help but note certain similarities between the current state of things and the way things were back in the 1960's as Pope Paul VI prepared to release that most lefty liberal of documents: Humanae Vitae.
It was Pope John XXIII (according to Wikipedia at any rate... what? did you think I knew this stuff off the top of my head) who established a commission to look in to issues like population control and contraception. Pope Paul VI enlarged the commission and the commission reported back to him.
By all accounts the deal was in the bag. The commission said that contraception ought to be allowed and Paul VI was expected to go ahead and allow it. It was the 1960's, Vatican II had just allowed all sorts of things. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, Pope Paul VI gave us Humanae Vitae.
Fast forward a few decades and the Church stands in a similar spot. A pre-synodal survey in place of a commission, plenty of support from high ranking churchmen and an upcoming synod at which to finally decide, once and for all, that divorce is not so bad after all.
If you read The Tablet and co you could be forgiven for thinking that this deal, like contraception before it, is in the bag. Everybody knows Pope Francis is off the cuff and flexible. He'll probably sign anything and hardly even notice. What could possibly go wrong?
Well... Don't be suprised this October if all the hype doesn't turn out to be a tad misplaced.
You never know...
Blogged by James Preece 3 Weeks ago...
I've been out of touch with the world of Catholic Blogs for a little while, so I don't know if this has "done the rounds" or been shamefully ignored, but it ought to be mentioned.
Blogged by James Preece 3 Weeks ago...
One of the less pleasant things I did with my time over Christmas was to listen to the comedy Catholic Herald podcast in which several hilarious (and sadly uncredited) actors gave a fantastic performance in a parody of Peter D Williams and his chums at the London branch of the Self Importance Society.
Oh wait.. What? It was for real?
We are the center. They are the fringe. We are the center. Did I mention who the center is? We don't know what the pro-life movement is, or what it's for, or where it's going but we dashed well know it's us and it's not SPUC!
That's pretty much all Peter D Williams and his London-centric chums have to offer the pro-life movement. Bitterness.
They are bitter because they honestly believe that with the right clever combination of campaigning, lobbying and clever PR pro-lifers could force something through Parliament and that would be wonderful because it would be a Victory! and nothing is so important to the London branch of the Self Importance Society as a Victory! so they can put their name to it and feel, well, important.
Only.. those nasty pieces of work down at SPUC HQ keep spoiling everything. Not content with simply being more well known (and nothing upsets the London branch of the Self Importance Society more than somebody else being more well known) the meanies at SPUC keep sabotaging all the clever campaigning, lobbying and PR by doing silly things like opposing same-sex "marriage" and the promotion contraception.All that does is exclude potential supporters and make Victory! Impossible. So little wonder that SPUC are so reviled by the London branch of the Self Importance Society. They are stealing their glory and sabotaging their Victory! all at the same time. We hates them my precious!
The fact is, dear reader, that the London branch of the Self Importance Society are wrong. SPUC are not sabotaging anything. The fact is that no amount of clever campaigning, lobbying or PR is ever going to result in a Victory! in Parliament because Parliament is not the problem. Fix the problem and Parliament will sort itself out.
Okay Mister Clever Cloggs. So what is the problem?
I'm glad you asked.The problem, as the peeps at SPUC understand but Peter D Williams doesn't, is that abortion is a symptom and not a cause.
Symptoms are the things you see that make you go and visit the doctor. Vomiting, diarrhea (try spelling that without Google) and purple pimples. You go to your doctor and you say "I've got purple pimples and I keep vomiting" and the doctor says "gosh, what terrible symptoms".
The cause, as we all know, something else entirely. Tiny little germs have found a home in your body and are robbing you of whatever it is you need to prevent purple pimple sand vomiting. If you are lucky, your doctor will be able to treat the cause by giving you something to kill the little germs and you will recover.
If you are unlucky, your doctor will be Peter D Williams and he will attempt to prevent your vomiting by stuffing a rag in your mouth and saying "after much clever lobbying and PR we have successfully convinced parliament to ban you from vomiting - hooray! You are cured! I am the best doctor in the world!"
Abortion is not the germs. Abortion is the purple pimples and the vomiting.It is a symptom of a society which is sick, of a culture which is deeply unhealthy. This is why we cannot hope to 'fix' abortion in isolation.We need to heal our culture and given that the disease our culture is of a deeply spiritual nature, saying "let's have a secular pro-life movement" makes very little sense.
But James! If we oppose eating eight Pizzas a day, people who are in favour of eating eight Pizzas a day but who are otherwise opposed to obesity will not support our anti-obesity society. We must remain neutral on eight Pizza eating!
Yes, er, um. Thanks for that one.
Look, I want it to be true as well. I would love to be able to say "Oi! Smeaton! Get it sorted!" and then go hug some lefties and see abortion stopped. It would be awesome but it's not going to happen.
The only thing that is going to work is years and years of long, slow, painstaking, grass roots campaigning. Actual work. When SPUC talk about leaflet drops our friends in London snigger. If they have a better idea for actually reaching ordinary people I would love to hear it. TV appearances? Check. Coffee mornings? Check. Standing on the side of the road with your message scrawled on a ruddy big bit of cardboard? SPUC do that too.
No. It's not galamorous and if you have better ideas for actually changing the culture I would love to hear it. Writing a novel might help. Oh.. Fiorella is on it. Maybe somebody could start an internet meme?
So please. Support the work of SPUC. Get out there and be a white blood cell. Do what you can to convince friends, family and politicians that abortion is a grave evil. Give to groups that support women in crisis pregnancies. Walk up and down dropping leaflets through doors. Sit in a room on your own and say some prayers.
All of those things are useful.
Sitting around bitching to each other about those nasty SPUC people because they refuse to take a neutral stance on the things that are actually making our culture sick in the first place?
Not very helpful at all.
Blogged by James Preece 1 Month ago...
Ben Cornish is a juggler from Exeter, which happens to be where I studied for my degree - though that has nothing to do with this blog post. I've never met Ben Cornish and we have never exchanged either emails or carrier pigeons. He is, in the great tradition of magic tricks, a total stranger to me.
Everything you are about to see took place in front of a live studio audience. There are no camera tricks. The hand is quicker than the eye. Don't worry I'm not going to saw him in half and yes, I made up the bit about the studio audience.
Anyways.. this evening I was reading a blog post Ben Cornish wrote about his time as a theatre student...
My dance training was the teaching of someone who had good technique herself but did not impose it on her students…our training was much concerned with ‘image work’ and rolling around on the floor a lot ,searching for……who knows what. ‘The floor is your friend’ was my dance teachers mantra in our first year…I didn’t find it to be the case and had the bruises to prove it! It was a great irony that by the time we reached the 3rd and 4th years , despite being a highly politicised group of students with all sorts of anarchic ideas and principles we were begging to be taught to proper ballet technique ….our rebellion was to seek out the orthodoxy that had been rejected by the dancers of 2 or 3 generations before us !
As you can see, the card Ben selected from the deck is the very one I've been banging on about for years. Amazing.
Did you know there are loads of twenty-something Catholics in this country with a similar story about their religious upbringing.. "we were young, we were rebellious, so we said enough with your rubbish, give us the truth!"
What's interesting is how the story seems to be repeated across all areas of human endeavor. When I learned to draw, when I learned woodwork, when I learned Latin... and now I hear it from a juggling theater student.
The story always seems to be the same.
It begins with some time time honored, long standing, traditional, way of doing things that was hard work but lead to genuine beauty, truth and goodness. Ah yes, it may have had it's faults and could have done with some development or evolution but it had the right goal.
Then there was the big revolution and it wasn't a revolution in method it was a revolution in intention. Everywhere people said "let's stop intending to do good and let's say, from now on, that everything is good (except orthodoxy)". Goodness was no longer the goal.
You can do that for a while because if you grew up learning your catechism or ballet or realistic drawing or whatever then even as you boldly announce that your classical training is worthless you carry on using the skills you have without even realising it.
The problem comes when the training which was abandoned as worthless is denied to successive generations - they are less able to wing it and eventually you end up with art teachers who can't draw and Ballet teachers who can't do ballet if you ask them about it they explain that you are terribly old fashioned and everybody knows that drawing is about far more than just making pictures that look like things and by the way would you leave now please?
Gradually we are beginning to reach a generation who go to college to learn art or dance or woodwork or whatever and find themselves doing papier mache models (abstract ones of course) and rolling around on the floor.
Some of them say to themselves "what is this rubbish?" and their rebellion ends up becoming a quest for orthodoxy.
As I said - the interesting thing is how the story seems to be repeated across all areas of human endeavor. Drawing, woodwork, latin, ballett.. No area of life seems untouched - even shaving.. When the fossil record tells you that all the animals and plants died out at the same time.. you know something big happened. We are talking about spiritual devestation of seismic proportions.
I consider it a great sign of hope then, to find so many people in so many area of life in open rebellion against it. All over the place, from seminaries to dance studios, people can be found saying "no" to the powers and principalities of this world.
Many of those people are not Catholics and many would call themselves atheists yet they share a common goal of beauty, truth and goodness - that put's them a lot closer to God than some Catholics!
Their rebellion is to seek out the orthodoxy.
You never know... they might even find it.
Blogged by James Preece 1 Month ago...
You know you're neglecting the internet when you discover that Archbishop Vincent Nichol's is to be made a cardinal two days after the event when your wife finds out at an RCIA meeting.
I am reminded of something my very wise six year old daughter said to me over breakfast recently. "Daddy" she said "Daddy, one day people will call this the olden days". She is quite right.
Goodness, do you know I've been at this blogging lark for more than ten years?
There was a time, in the olden days, when I used to blog about problems because I genuinely, honestly, really believed that if somebody only knew what was going on.. well, they would surely do something about it. Wouldn't they?
Back then things were relatively simple, do you know (I can hardly believe it myself) that it used to be possible to easily see what the Bishops Conference was up to? They would do things like putting their logo on websites, employing people directly and give them titles like "mister chap we put in charge of the department of thingy".
When something untoward happened it was so easy to write blog posts saying "something untoward happened and it was done by people directly employed Bishop X". Awkward.
For the last few years things have been harder. Everything is done through quangos and it's impossible to say "look what the Bishops are doing" without resorting to tedious essay length explanations of who did what where and how it all links up. I'm not surprised it all gets laughed off as conspiracy theories.
So he gets his hat. Well done him. I just hope it will come with a map printed on the inside so he can finally figure what is down the road.
Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...
I've been meaning to research a blog post like this one for ages and never found the time. This is a great piece of work by Peter Kwasniewski..
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgated of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 4, 1963). If I may borrow a rhetorical strategy from Fr. Fessio, here is what your local liturgical scene would look like if we were all following, to the letter, the teaching of Vatican II:
- The Eucharist would be perceived by all as a “divine sacrifice,” in which, as in the Church herself, action is subordinated to contemplation (cf. SC 2). The Mass would be understood to be, and would be called, a “holy sacrifice” (SC 7, 47, et passim) and the liturgy in general “a sacred action surpassing all others,” whose purpose is “the sanctification of man and the glorification of God” (SC 10; cf. 112). Indeed, the liturgy would seem like a foretaste on earth of the heavenly liturgy of the new Jerusalem (SC 8).
- The faithful would be well catechized and well disposed to receive the sacraments fruitfully (SC 11), and would understand the nature of the liturgy and how to participate well in it (SC 14), led by the example and instruction of the clergy (SC 16-19): “through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration” (SC 48). In this way, they would be unlike the majority of Catholics today, who, according to many surveys, are unaware that the Mass is the re-presentation of the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary or that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ—and who also don’t sing very much, in spite of decades of cajoling.
- The liturgy would look much as Catholic liturgy has looked for centuries, since “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing” (SC 23).
- The ordained ministers would be the only ones performing the actions they are supposed to do, while the laity would be involved in those ways that pertain to them: “in liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the principles of liturgy” (SC 28; cf. 118).
- No one, “even if he be a priest,” would ever “add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (SC 22.3).
- The use of the venerable Latin language would be a frequent and appreciated occurrence, since “the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (SC 36.1). The vernacular, of course, will be utilized, but only for certain parts of the liturgy (SC 36.2), and the clergy would remember the Council’s request that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them” (SC 54).
- Liturgies would frequently be celebrated in their most noble form, namely, “solemnly in song” (SC 113). Most of the singing would be closely connected with the actual texts of the Mass (cf. SC 112, 113) and the music would be such as “adds delight to prayer, fosters unity of minds, or confers greater solemnity upon the sacred rites” (SC 112). There would be an important role for trained choirs or scholas, which preserve and foster the treasure of sacred music—a treasure of inestimable value (SC 112, 114-115). The people, for their part, would sing acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs—and everyone would observe reverent silence at the proper times (SC 30). None of the texts of the songs would be in any way objectionable from a doctrinal point of view, since they would be drawn directly from Scripture or the liturgy itself (SC 121).
- Notably, Gregorian chant, being “specially suited to the Roman liturgy,” would be given “pride of place in liturgical services” (SC 116). Other forms of sacred music would not thereby be excluded—such as, preeminently, polyphony (ibid.). And of course, the pipe organ would be “held in high esteem” as “the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things” (120). Other instruments would only be used if they “are suitable or can be made suitable for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful” (ibid.). Hence, such instruments as piano, guitar, and drums, which, in the Western world, originated in profane settings and are still associated with genres like jazz, folk, and rock, would never be used for sacred music. None of this is surprising, since the Council Fathers announced their purpose of “keeping to the norms and precepts of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline, and having regard to the purpose of sacred music, which is the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful” (SC 112).
- Communion under both kinds would be rare—e.g., to newly professed religious in the Mass of their religious dedication or to the newly baptized in the Mass that follows their baptism (SC 55). Similarly, concelebration would be relatively rare (SC 57).
- Sunday Vespers would be a much-loved weekly occurrence, to which large numbers of faithful flock: “Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually” (SC 100).
- The liturgical year would be of enormous importance in the life of the community, marked by the observance and promotion of each season’s traditions and customs (cf. SC 102-110). Images and relics of the saints would be publicly honored (SC 111). Sacramentals and popular devotions would abound, such as Eucharistic Processions, Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, the Brown Scapular, and customs connected with saints’ days, because all of these things deepen the spiritual life of the faithful and help dispose them to participate more fully in the sacred liturgy (cf. SC 12-13).
- The church architecture and furnishings would be “truly worthy, becoming, and beautiful, signs and symbols of the supernatural world” (SC 122), “turning men’s minds devoutly toward God” (ibid.). There would be nothing that could disturb or distract the faithful, since the bishop would have “carefully remove[d] from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity, and pretense” (124), since what are rightly sought are “works destined to be used in Catholic worship, to edify the faithful, and to foster their piety and their religious formation” (SC 127).
Is this what you experience, week in, week out?
Is not the monumental failure to implement much of Sacrosanctum Concilium a scandal?
Go to the full post for Peter's full introduction and conclusion.
Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...
I'm not sure what I like better.. good deeds or terrible puns? So I'm happy to discover both in Stephen Bullivant's Marython. What am I saying.. it's a wonderful pun, wonderfully terrible...
My name is Stephen Bullivant, and I'm a Catholic husband and father from England. On New Year's Eve 2013, I'm running a MARYthon - a full marathon (my first), while praying the rosary non-stop - along the cold, windy and (quite probably) rainy and/or snowy docks of Liverpool.
Back in July, I was fortunate enough to visit the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Manila. This church, run by the Redemptorists, is the major site of Marian devotion in the Philippines. One of their many outreach programmes is the SARNELLI CENTER FOR STREET CHILDREN. Named in honour of Bl. Januarius Sarnelli, the Center works mainly with abandoned boys aged 8-16, providing them with food, shelter, medical care, counselling, education, recreation - and, above all, a safe and loving community in which to grow and thrive.
I'm trying to raise as much support - through prayers and donations - for their wonderful work as I possibly can.
Get yourself over to the Just Giving page and donate!
Blogged by James Preece 3 Months ago...
I've read on several blogs now about St Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and how people like me are going to be shocked, shocked I tell you!
Except of course we're not (or at least, I'm not) because we have actually seen the gospels and we do actually understand about the mercy of God, we've heard of forgiveness and we kinda noticed that Jesus seems kinda concerned about the poor.
No, I think the only people who will be suprised are the ones who the Church could change her teaching any time she likes and the only thing holding us back are those nasty people over there. The people who think that Pope Francis would churn out 47,000 words just to have a pop at traditionalists.
Personally, I'm reading this and I'm thinking "oh yeah, I could do that better, I hadn't thought of that" etc.. but if you want to really miss the point, try reading it with the assumption that any given parahgraph is aimed not at you, but at Those Nasty People Over There.
In other words.. try reading it like Austen Ivereigh..
Later (93-95) he critiques the “self-absorbed promethean neopalagianism” of self-appointed guardians of orthodoxy or traditional Catholicism who spend their time criticising fellow Catholics (“A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelising, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door to grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying”). He also criticises those who have “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people”
Note that Pope Francis doesn't refer to "self-appointed guardians of orthodoxy" or "traditional Catholicism" at all.. but he does warn about "carefully cultivated appearances" and "a business mentality, caught up with management, statistics, plans and evaluations whose principal beneficiary is not God’s people but the Church as an institution".
These paragraphs contain a warning for all Catholics to avoid an obsession with appearance at the expense of evangelisation and are just as much a warning to lefty Bishops Conference media quangos as they are to traditionalists.
When St Paul said "if I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." was he speaking out against knowledge and faith? Clearly not. It's the "but have not love" part he's worried about. Similarly with Pope Francis, he's not having a pop at people who care about liturgy and doctrine - it's the "without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people" bit that matters.
Pope Francis warns that "supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism" and you can point that one at traditionalists if you like... but do Catholic Voices not claim soundness of doctrine? Do they not engage in an authoritarian elitism? The special club of the trained and approved vs the excluded self-appointed nobodies.
I'm reading Pope Francis' words and thinking "maybe he has a point, maybe I could do some things better, I wonder if I am doing enough for the poor". Meanwhile Austen sounds like the Pharisee in the temple saying "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men".
If you want to know which part of Evangelii Gaudium really shocks me, it's this:
No one must say that they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas.
Yikes! I always thought the "busy being a dad" card could get me out of anything...
We could all be doing more for the poor, that's a given and I'm working on my own personal failings as I hope you are too, but please.. can we end the practice of using the poor as a human shield to defend heterdoxy.
Imagine a little kid chucking rocks through the church windows and smashing centuries old stained glass. A parishioner happens to be passing and says "hey! what are you doing?" to which the kid says "what are you? some kind of self appointed guardian? shouldn't you be more concerned about the poor?".
That's pretty much what is happening here.
The "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" card is as old as the hills. Yes, Jesus told people to care for the poor, but he also had no time anybody who would set love of the poor against love of Himself.
The poor are not a convenient tool to be used for point scoring at the service of particular ideologies within the Church, they are people and in my experience people are better served by beautiful liturgies than ugly ones and better served by the truth than by lies.
Using them as a stick to beat people who disagree with your claims that urging condom use is Catholic pastoral practice is, well, stooping pretty low.