Ad Orientem... Please?

Blogged by James 2 Months ago...

Last night we went to Mass in the Extraordinary Form at St Charles in Hull. I am very grateful to Bishop Drainey for allowing this once monthly Mass to continue well after the original trial period.

There are many reasons that people feel drawn towards the Extraordinary Form of the Mass but one of the key things that has always moved me personally is the orientation of the liturgy away from those gathered and towards Christ.  I have often been distracted by the antics of Priests whose conduct at the altar has not always been appropriate but at the Extraordinary Form this has never been a problem and I have been less distracted and closer to the Sacred Mysteries.  My "active partitipation" has increased.

In his letter to Bishops on the release of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the two forms of the Mass should be "mutually enriching" and one place where this could happen is in the increased use of Ad Orientem worship during the Ordinary Form of the Mass. 

Over the May Bank Holiday we were in Walsingham for the National Association of Catholic Families annual pilgrimage and were privileged to be joined by Cardinal Burke who celebrated Mass for us in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms.  On both occasions he celebrated 'Ad Orientem'.  Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship recently said "as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east" and expressed a desire that this be implemented in Cathedrals as an example.

I do hope Bishop Drainey will consider this in our Cathedral.

Adventures in Walsingham

Blogged by James 2 Months ago...

We just got back from an incredible weekend in Walsingham with the National Association of Catholic Families.  This year we had the incredible privilege of being joined by Cardinal Raymond Burke who said a Latin Mass for us, gave a talk and brought for every family a second class relic of St John Paul the Great.

His Eminence was incredibly generous with his time and after I kissed his ring we spoke to him about our eldest daughter's First Holy Communion which will take place next week.  Cardinal Burke asked where we were from and when I said "Hull" he looked puzzled so I narrowed it down for him.. "it's near York".  One cannot expect Cardinals to know everything.

We spoke for so long in fact that while we were speaking his assistant priest had time to nip outside to play football with the many young people who were on the camp and I found myself alone with the Cardinal for a brief moment.

Naturally I would never betray his confidence by telling you the geopolitical significance of the words he said to me when we were alone but I will tell you that they consisted entirely of the ineffable phrase "Do you know where the Canon is?" to which I responded with my famous quick wit that "um, er, I think he's over there".

At this moment I became aware to my horror that I had made a grave mistake.  Not only had I failed to realise that his assistant priest was in fact a Canon but I had caused His Eminence to direct his attention across the camping ground and away from the guy rope which supported the marquee behind him.  The rope was held in place by an enormous metal stake that had been hammered in to the ground and now presented a clear and present danger to the Cardinal's shins.

I still cannot bear to think what might have happened next.  Words like "laceration" "infection" and "death" would probably be used by the Catholic doctors who were present that day as they tried in vain to save his life.  Then everybody would have looked at me - the Blogger who killed a Cardinal.  No wonder blogger's have such a bad rep.

Fortunately my cat like reflexes were shining that day and like any loyal son of the Church all thoughts of personal safety were put aside as I ran forwards and said to His Eminence "er, hold on, look out for that, er.." 

Had I almost killed any number of other Cardinals the story might have ended here with a trial in which I insisted this had been an accident but my past blog posts were used as evidence that I had quite likely done it on purpose.  Fortunately Cardinal Burke is aware that the Laity are "by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion", so he listened and disaster was averted.

This is how it came to pass that I certainly saved a Prince of the Church from probable almost certain death.  You're welcome.  Who can say if it was my knowledge or my outstanding ability that caused His Eminence to heed my words - maybe it was both?  The details are not important.

Later that day we walked with the Corpus Christi procession along the Holy Mile with bare feet and happy hearts. In the Shrine at Walsingham His Eminence lead Benediction and also gave us his own personal blessing.

Afterwards we all crammed in to the Pilgrim Centre for a a final farewell to Cardinal Burke.  As we awaited his arrival our youngest child declared a need to visit the little boys room which is how I found myself in the long corridor that leads from the entrance to the dining room of the centre.  Here I encountered His Eminence again.

As he entered the door at the far end of the corridor I looked in his direction and he looked at me.  We maintained eye contact as he walked the full length of the corridor which was just long enough for me to wonder if I should be looking away but then I found myself smiling instead - by now all the people in the queue were looking at me as well, wondering what was going on.

Then it happened, His Eminence stopped right next to me, paused, and said simply "York".  As I'm sure you all know - that was his his way of saying "Thank you James for saving my life earlier".

Cardinal Burke asks that we say the Rosary on the first day of each month.

I suggest you do it.

Patron Saints Infographic

Blogged by James 3 Months ago...

The people at sent along this infographic and since I haven't updated my blog in so long I figured I might as well share the love..

If you forgot your microscope today, you can click on through to a full sized version here.

A Startling Admission from Cardinal Nichols

Blogged by James 7 Months ago...

On 28 January, Cardinal Vincent addressed the CATSC/CES Secondary Leaders’ Conference in London.  That is, he was speaking to Catholic Secondary School teachers about Catholic School children.

We are talking about the age of children in your schools, in your care. We are talking about youngsters ‘round here.


What does he have to say about these Catholic School Children..?

many do reach that age without a firm basis of values or beliefs by which they can steer their lives or against which they can rebel. In their formal upbringing many have been presented only with fleeting guidance, couched always in the tones of choice - you must decide what you think is right or wrong for you;


It is to teenagers such as these that the call of a definitive, demanding faith, one which asks for a heroic sacrifice is addressed. It is cast as a true fulfilment of all the unfocused yearning within them. One month is all it takes to transform a dissatisfied and disorientated teenager into a terrorist.


Straight from the horse's mouth..  "many do reach that age without a firm basis of values or beliefs".  Note: many.  If that is the case then perhaps he should be asking Catholic Primary School teachers about it!

I honestly thought, when I read the line "It is to teenagers such as these that the call of a definitive, demanding faith, one which asks for a heroic sacrifice is addressed" that Cardinal Nichols was talking about the Gospel.

Does not the Church present us with a "definitive, demanding faith"?

Does not Christ ask us to join in his "heroic sacrifice"?

Can the Gospel not transform a teenager?

After that it goes a bit blah blah blah.. TL:DR to use the modern parlance.  He doesn't use the word "sacrifice" in reference to the Catholic faith even once.

To be fair, he does speak about the need to develop a relationship with Jesus, a call to Holiness, to Faith, Hope and Charity.  He talks about how such an insight "is redemptive, saving us from drudgery, stirring us to get up each morning".

Well yes, it's true.  A relationship with Christ is redemptive, but it would be useful to know how to encourage such a relationship among young people.  Instead, Archbishop Nichols suggests "two leadership tasks"..

"One is to help others to see how their personal experience or contribution is indeed part of a greater whole"

"The second task is more subtle. There is an important truth to be remembered: that to see the beauty of a fragment is to glimpse the beauty of the whole."


Both of those things are admirable enough, but neither of them amounts to "preach the Gospel" (with our without "words").

And therin lies the problem.

The reason that "many do reach that age without a firm basis of values or beliefs by which they can steer their lives" is that nobody is proclaiming the Gospel.

In short - the definitive, demanding truth that God loves you, gave His Son for you and calls you to make a heroic sacrifice of giving up your life in the service of others.

This really is the "true fulfilment of all the unfocused yearning".

[h/t Catholic Herald]

How do we fit in?

Blogged by Ella 10 Months ago...

If Jesus has managed to achieve all this then where does that leave us?


It is Christ's humanity that has made it possible for us to join to Him with our sacrifice, just because Jesus has carried out the tough part it is no bed of roses for us. The only way we can participate is if we truly follow Christ for, “Whoever follows after Christ, the perfect man, becomes himself more of a man.” The whole of man both body and soul is sanctified because the Word of the Father was 'assumed' through the incarnation of His Son and by the Paschal Mystery, and through this the whole of God's creation, which was put under the charge of man is also sanctified. Therefore because “Salvation is known only to God, it will be through more than simply their supernatural elevation brought about by Christ's union with humanity. It will be through their “being made partners... in the paschal mystery””.

If we truly desire to be reconciled with God in the fullest sense of the Trinity we will follow Christ. For through him we “have access to the Father by one Spirit.”. Therefore though He is only one person of the Trinity, Christ is the source, content and objective of catechesis in light of the whole Trinity.


It is therefore important that we make Christ the centre of our Christian living, we must strive to live our lives as Christ with that self-sacrificing love he gave for us on the Cross. We can achieve this through the grace that God gives us and by our receiving of the Holy Eucharist in mass, the cleaning of our souls in confession and the deepening of our prayer lives to say the least. We are given a fresh life through baptism, but this is not enough we still bear the burdens of sin and must redeem ourselves to God in our daily lives always striving always to follow the path Christ lay before us.


It is also important to note that because Christ died for the salvation of all “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and his Church, but seeks truth and does the will of God in accordance to his understanding of it, can be saved” through the baptism of desire.

Marriage Prep in Middlesbrough Diocese

Blogged by James 10 Months ago...

So there's a young couple in my parish.  Early twenties.  About the age I was when I got married.  For reasons I don't entirely understand they get sent off to York for Marriage Prep with Marriage Care.  You know.. Marriage Care.

So they get back and they are kind of like "hmm, that wasn't so bad as we expected because somewhere in the small print we found a phone number for information about NFP" and I'm like "that's good" and they are like "oh yeah, and they told us..."

"If you watch porn - make sure you watch it together"

So er.. yeah.  Seems like outsourcing marriage prep to an ex-Catholic company/charity thingy with an "ethos" might not be so good an idea.

Son of God

Blogged by Ella 10 Months ago...

By Son of God we mean that Jesus has divine body, blood, soul and knowledge. He knows the Father's will intimately, He is totally without sin, He is perfect, He is a manifestation of God's love.


But why therefore does Jesus need to be fully God?


Firstly, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways”, but it is difficult to explain and pass on the will of God as a human messenger as our human minds cannot fully comprehend the great mysteries, the “master plan” that God has for us. It is difficult to see that “It is man himself who must be saved: it is mankind who must be renewed”. So being fully God, Jesus is able to “teach with authority” because He does understand the full will and plan of God and He is able to pass it onto us by human means as described above. Secondly, by being God He can conform Himself to God's will, having that deeper relationship with God and being able to carry out and overcome the challenges before Him as a man that we struggle to achieve being with original sin. Thirdly, being God He is able to pay more satisfaction for our salvation than any price required. By salvation we do not mean “an immanent salvation, meeting material or even spiritual needs, restricted to the framework of temporal existence and completely identified with temporal desires, hopes, affairs and struggles, but a salvation which exceeds all these limits in order to reach fulfilment in a communion with the one and only divine Absolute: a transcendent and eschatological salvation, which indeed has its beginning in this life but which is fulfilled in eternity”. In short if a human was to die on the cross it would not be enough, it is only achievable by God Himself.


Fourthly, God can see the pain and suffering of man and how often man falls away from Him because of this. God loves us so much that because He wants us to have freewill and freedom. He cannot just choose to make everything good without limiting that freedom, so instead He comes to share in that suffering with us. If we look at the temptations of the devil when Jesus is in the desert they are very significant, the turning of stones to bread in Luke 4:3 for example, “Is there anything more opposed to belief in the existence of a good God and a Redeemer of making, than world hunger? Shouldn't it be the first test of the Redeemer, before the world's gaze and on the world's behalf, to give it bread and end all hunger?”. Pope Benedict XVI reflects on the significance of the third temptation revealing how the qualities of the saviour/messiah were not those expected by the Jews at the time. Therefore “Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence, for that belongs to the core of his mission; he has to penetrate it completely, down to its uttermost depths, in order to find the “lost sheep”, to bear it on his shoulders and bring it home”.


Son of Man

Blogged by Ella 10 Months ago...

We first know Jesus as the Son of Man through His teaching ministry. When we say Son of man we mean that he has a human soul , human intellect for example he had to learn to read and write, human will allowing him the choice not to take on the mission God set before him, a human body where he felt physical pain and a human heart that he could feel emotion.

But why is it important that Jesus is fully human?


The message He brings is not an impossible one for humanity. Firstly, we can understand it because He explains and reveals the truths to us in human form, terms and understanding “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin.”, which allows us to deepen our understanding of God and His mission, His plan for us. It allows us to have a deeper relationship with God as we are on earth and guides us on our path for perfection. Secondly, He knows and understands our limitations because He is human He knows how to guide us towards the path of righteousness and God, towards the Kingdom of heaven. Thirdly, because He himself is truly human He is the second Adam, He has a choice to conform to God's will and being born without original sin, as Adam was, He is able to do so. He as a human can choose to make the sacrifice required and pay the satisfaction needed for us to be saved. He can and does choose to be the ultimate sacrifice, baring all our sins as our representative and be resurrected into eternal life, where Adam failed for all humanity Jesus does not and if we choose to accept it our original sin is removed and we are “washed clean in the blood of the lamb”