Friday 29 February 2008

Catholic Blog Awards: why not vote?

If you like Roman Christendom then why not vote for it in the Catholic Blog Awards?

Plaudits are always welcome!

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Wednesday 27 February 2008

THE EASTER TRIDUUM will be solemnly celebrated by the Knights of Malta at their Conventual Church in St John's Wood

The Grand Priory of England and British Association of
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta


The Conventual Church of Saint John of Jerusalem, at the Hospital of Saint John and Saint Elizabeth, Grove End Road, St John’s Wood, London NW8, is the Oratory of the Order of Malta in Britain.

The Sovereign Military Order of St John of Jersualem, Rhodes and Malta ("the Knights of Malta") will be celebrating the full, traditional Latin liturgy of the Sacred Triduum, according to the 1962 Missal. Although these services are primarily intended for members of the Order, anyone who wishes to attend will be most welcome.


Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.30pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Evening Mass)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 7.15pm

Solemn Mass ‘in Cena Domini’ 8.00pm
followed by Procession to Altar of Repose and Stripping of the Altars

Compline (at the Altar of Repose) After the Stripping of the Altars

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose will continue until Midnight.


Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.00pm
(Vespers are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Liturgy of the Passion)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 2.15pm

Solemn Liturgy of the Passion (Mass of the Pre-Sanctified) 3.00pm

Compline, with Veneration of the relic of the True Cross 6.00pm


Matins and Lauds (‘Tenebrae’) 10.00am
Sext 12.45pm
None 2.30pm
Vespers 5.00pm
(Compline and Matins are omitted by those assisting in choir at the Solemn Easter Vigil)

Spiritual Conference on the Liturgy 9.15pm

Solemn Easter Vigil 10.00pm


Solemn Mass 11.00am

Sung Vespers and Benediction 2.30pm approx


Monday 25 February 2008

Flora MacDonald: "Who shall find a valiant woman? Her price is of the uttermost."

Flora Macdonald (1722-90) (Fionnghal NicDhòmhnaill) was born in Milton, South Uist.

Flora (or Fiona) MacDonald was the daughter of Ronald Macdonald, a tacksman (gentleman freeholder of a grant of clan land) but he left her an orphan when only a year old.

Flora MacDonald's mother married a Macdonald of Annadale, in Skye, who, at the time of the Jacobite uprising, commanded one of the militia companies raised on the island by Sir Alexander Macdonald for the services of the government.

While visiting her brother at Milton in June 1746, to drive his cattle to their summer pasture, she was awoken one night to be told that she must leave the cattle-tending and assist a prince in distress.

Her encounter in Ormaclett, South Uist, on 20 June 1746 with Prince Charles Edward Stuart, then fleeing from the consequences of his defeat at the battle of Culloden, was to make her immortal in Scottish history.

Flora decided to take the prince to safety - disguised as her maid "Betty Burke'"- on Skye. On 28 June the party set out from Rossinish in Benbecula and journeyed for 15 hours under threat of capture by government troops to Mugstot House, from where she guided the prince to Kingsburgh House, the home, as it turned out, of her future husband; he said goodbye to his saviour on 1 July at Portree. As a gift Charles gave Flora a gold locket with his portrait.

The Bonnie Prince takes leave of the loyal and courageous Flora MacDonald

After further adventures the prince escaped to France, but Flora was arrested for her part in the escape plan and was held on the Royal Navy vessel HMS Furnace. Afterwards, Flora was a prisoner in Dunstaffnage Castle. After being conveyed from place to place, she was eventually transferred to London, where she remained in confinement for eight months (she was discharged at the special request of Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of King George III, without a single question having been put to her).

The Bonnie Prince with Cameron of Lochiel and MacDonald of Clanranald

In 1750 Flora married Alan Macdonald of Kingsburgh and produced a family of seven children. At the age of 51 she emigrated with her family to the then British territory of North Carolina and was active in recruiting Highlanders to fight for the British in the American War of Independence, in which her husband was taken prisoner. Flora returned to Britain via Nova Scotia in 1778. Two years after her husband's release, they returned together to settle once more at Kingsburgh.

Some ask: how could she support the British government in America?

Simply this: she recognised that the rebellious American War of Tax Evasion (for such it was) had no legitimacy whatever.

She was not a believer in revolution or rebellion; she was not a revolutionary, nor a nationalist nor a Socialist nor a Marxist but was a believer in lawful and legitimate government.

She supported Bonnie Prince Charlie because he and his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, were the rightful king and heir and James was the rightful head of the British government, excluded by rebellious Whigs simply because he was a Roman Catholic.

Prince James Francis Edward Stuart, King James III and VIII, excluded from his rightful throne because he was a Catholic and for no other reason

She did not believe that the restoration of the Stuarts was a rebellion at all. Like the Catholic Church, like St Thomas Aquinas, she utterly rejected rebellion - and the English Whigs were rebels against the lawful Crown and authority and had placed an usurper upon the throne.

The American rebels were also Whigs but they were worse Whigs and were now rebelling against the English Whigs. Flora MacDonald could see that this was going out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Flora MacDonald, like all good Jacobites, was a Crown Unionist (i.e. she believed in separate kingdoms but under one Stuart Crown) and was not a separatist or nationalist, still less did she believe that any part of the Union or Empire had the right to rebel, least of all the secularising American Whig rebels who wanted to evade their due taxes and seize power from the British government to satisfy their own power-hungry ambitions.

Her position was entirely consistent and was in no way a capitulation to the British Whigs (as some Whig historians falsely and mendaciously pretend).

The American rebels were akin to the Jacobins of the French Revolution and entirely opposite to the Jacobites who were no rebels but rather the loyal supporters of the legitimate Stuart dynasty. The Jacobites were, in fact, opposed to the Whig rebellion and the Whig usurper dynasty and government - a very different thing.

Flora MacDonald and her family returned to Skye, where she died, March 4th, 1790, leaving a son, Lieutenant Colonel Macdonald of the Royal Clan Alpin Regiment, an able writer on military tactics and telegraphy; and a daughter, married to Macleod of Skye. She retained her Jacobite beliefs to the last hour of her existence, contrary to the Whig claptrap put about in some historical journals.

The first meeting: Flora MacDonald is introduced to the Prince

Gaelic-speaking and educated at home, she met Dr Samuel Johnson while on his tour of the Western Islands with James Boswell in 1773 and sang to him of her Highland heritage. Of her, Dr Johnson wrote: “Her name will be mentioned in history, and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour”.

In 1773, despite the ban on the wearing of the kilt (the short kilt, the philibeg, or the great kilt, the philimore) in 1747, which was not to be repealed until 1782, it was worn by MacDonald of Kingsburgh, Flora’s husband, when Dr Johnson and Boswell visited in 1773.

Boswell, himself Boswell of Auchinleck, younger, and the son of the Laird of Auchinleck, wrote:

"I was highly pleased to see Dr Johnson safely arrived at Kingsburgh, and received by the hospitable Mr Macdonald. He had his tartan plaid thrown about him, a large blue bonnet with a knot of black ribbon like a cockade, a brown short coat of a kind of duffil. A Tartan waistcoat with gold buttons and gold button holes, a bluish philibeg, and tartan hose"
(from Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides, James Boswell, page 184)

Tartan: MacDonald of Kingsburgh


Wednesday 20 February 2008

Liturgy: is reverence and dignity enough?

No. That's the short answer.

Look at these Greek rite clergy. There is much more to their Liturgy than reverence and dignity alone. Much, much more. Now compare it with the asinine silliness of the clown-style liturgy, presided over by a Western bishop, pictured in my previous post.

Can there be any doubt which is better? There is no comparison! And yet in the West even bishops allow themselves so to traduce Christ the Lord and to mock Him in the Sacred Liturgy. What a fearful disgrace! And how our Greek and Russian brethren in the Faith are scandalised by such mockery of the Lord! And they are right. For it is, indeed, a scandal. And, moreover, tasteless, clueless, stupid, ignorant and puerile.

Catholics simply MUST stop defending this sort of utter nonsense. It is a direct insult to God.

So long as Catholics ignore the truth about liturgy things will not improve. We must use our God-given intelligence, reason and understanding on the issue. The "touchy, feely" approach to liturgy and religion has done immense harm. That, of course, is not to say that we should be insensitive - we should not - but I think we do have to take care, when faced with the sheer tawdry dishonesty of much modern liturgy not simply to "feel" that any challenge to the dishonesty is somehow unjust or uncharitable.

We perhaps ought occasionally to remember Christ chasing the money-changers out of the Temple with whip-cords - they who made sacred things sordid. This is not sinful anger or injustice or uncharity. On the contrary it is the righteous wrath of the Lord. Doubtless the money-changers thought him unfair, hard and unreasonable. But He was not. He was right and just. It was the money-changers who were unreasonable.

Now we have something just as bad with the perversion of the liturgy. Yes, the Novus Ordo can be celebrated with reverence, dignity and love but this is next to impossible in most parish masses because of:

(a) The ICEL mistranslation - a far cry from the original Latin; and

(b) The poor quality of the rest of the liturgy as it is ACTUALLY done in most Western parishes.

Moreover, there is more to liturgy than dignity and reverence.

I daresay that a Buddhist ceremony can be celebrated with dignity and reverence. But it is nowhere near enough for a Catholic, of course.

What we need is a Catholic liturgy celebrated, firstly, the way God wants it and secondly, with beauty, truth and tradition at the forefront. We need to celebrate the way God wants us to, not the way WE would like to, no matter how reverent and dignified our own way might be.

No - reverence and dignity, although essential, are NOT enough. We must also love truth, tradition, faithfulness and integrity.

A monk of the Benedictine Abbey of St Marie Madaleine, Le Barroux

There can be no excuse for the ICEL mistranslation. It has over 300 errors in it. It is a deliberate falsification of the Latin of the Novus Ordo Missae. Yet this is what most English-speaking Catholics get, week after week, at Sunday Mass. In truth, I think it can be said that it is NOT really the Novus Ordo at all - at least not as the Council Fathers envisaged it.

When one adds the later innovations of forward altars, lay readers, disregard of proper vestments, communion in the hand, replacement of chant with modern (and often vapid) hymns, girl altar servers, facile bidding prayers, removing the Tabernacle and replacing it with the priest's chair (whom are we worshipping?) - let alone bizarre and ridiculous mockeries like clown masses, liturgical dancing, "happy clappy" masses and children's masses - then we can see that the situation is seriously worsened.

But too many Catholics have simply become blinded - in some cases culpably - to the differences between true and false liturgy. Many think it is all about aesthetics i.e. beauty and dignity. They also think that all that is needed is "reverence" and "dignity". As I say, that is not enough. A pagan ceremony can be reverent and dignified.

Much of our modern liturgy is simply dishonest. And one cannot celebrate a dishonest liturgy and pretend that one is doing so with love.

The problem is that Catholics have got used to the inferior diet of poor liturgy that has engulfed the Western Church. We have become blinded by our own self-indulgence and now, like the Emperor's new clothes, we cannot see that the liturgical Emperor is really naked and wears no clothes at all.

But non-Catholics can see it. They alight upon a modern Catholic liturgy and are repelled by it.

Indeed, I have spoken to many lapsed Catholics who felt the same way.

It is my belief that millions of Catholics have lapsed as a direct result of the auto-destruction of the Roman liturgy.

We should not under-estimate the immense harm that has been done by such devastating auto-destruction. We have preferred the tawdry and worldly to the beauty of the Divine and Holy.

Adam and Eve culpably exiled themselves from Eden by preferring the worldly above Paradise

I recently attended a Requiem mass, for a prominent Catholic figure, in a beautiful church in Malta with a colleague who is a Buddhist nun. She was brought up a Catholic and remembered the beautiful masses of her childhood. This Maltese mass was a typical product of the post-conciliar liturgical establishment.

In place of a High Mass there was a dreary concelebration. The mass, as the modern mass so often is, was mostly talking, talking, talking. It was not liturgy. It was mere recitation. And there is a big difference.

There was a choir but, instead of singing some of the extraordinarily beautiful music from the Church's immense and rich patrimony, they sung 3 vernacular hymns in Maltese to the tunes of "I'll Sing a Song to Mary", Crimond and "Welcome, welcome, welcome Jesus".

These tunes might be appropriate for a procession of our Lady or some tableau of popular piety but they are out of place at a Solemn Requiem. The mass was in the vernacular and, although the Maltese translation is a lot better than the appalling ICEL translation into English, it is still far accurately reflects the original Latin.

After I expressed my disappointment, my Buddhist colleague said that she felt able to say that she, too, was disappointed. She had expected so much more at a Solemn Requiem of the Catholic Church. She began to tell me more about her experiences in the Church and it was clear that she had been a devout Catholic once upon a time but, following the liturgical changes, she had, like so many millions of other Catholics, become disillusioned with modern liturgy and, thereafter, with the Church itself.

In former times, the Roman liturgy made many, many converts. It need not surprise us that the reverse can take place if the liturgy goes sour: millions leave. And they have left. Indeed, the Church has suffered a monumental haemorrhage over the last 40 years - the worst ever in its history.

Is this renewal of the Church? No - assuredly not.

There is simply thus no room whatever for complacency or sloppy thinking regarding the liturgy.

It is, in fact, a very, very serious matter. It is not just a matter of reverence and dignity. It is not just a matter of aesthetics and beauty. It is not even simply a matter of Latin. It is much more. It is about faithfulness and integrity, tradition and truth.

If we are to find our way back we cannot settle for the mockery of liturgy that now takes place with the ICEL mistranslation in most parishes of the Western Church.

If we do then we are selling short ourselves, our neighbour and, above all, God.

Behold the Blessed Babe! Adore Him as He should be adored!


Monday 18 February 2008

Why do so many modern Catholics tolerate rotten liturgy?

Well, why?

Are they stupid?





Well, what is it?

I am a convert. The first time I was taken to a Catholic liturgy it was the new mass in ICEL's appalling mistranslation.

However, I had never even heard of ICEL (the International Committee for English in the Liturgy) at the time.

My first thought was "Why is the English so abysmally poor compared with, say, the Anglican Prayer Book?"

My next thought was "Surely this liturgy cannot be that of the 2,000 year old Roman Catholic Church?"

Not only was the English abysmally poor but the liturgy itself was banal, dull, flat and uninspiring.

I again wondered "Is this the mass that inspired great men like St Thomas More? If so, why has it been so badly translated? Who could be so crass as to do such a thing? And why have the Church's authorities permitted this to happen?"

Later I was taken by the priest receiving me into the Church to a "Rock mass". I plainly said to him I was not likely to be very interested in it. Nevertheless, said he, you should go to it. So I went.

He, by the way, has since left the priesthood.

I was amazed by the whole concept. There being some music it was at least better than the banal, flat spoken mass I had previously attended. But the whole atmosphere was absurd: it was neither fish nor fowl. It was neither a religious liturgy nor, on the other hand, was it a rock music discotheque or nightclub. It missed both marks and so failed completely.

I found it silly, childish and facile.

This almost put me off the Catholic faith altogether.

Fortunately, I was being instructed "on the side" by a layman (now a priest) who was able to explain the phenomenon to me, wryly observing the fatuities and re-assuring me that this was the so-called "new liturgy" which was being famously traduced all over the world and that I should not take it as any more than the absurd posturing that it was. Better times would come, he said, when proper liturgy would be restored.

This intrigued me and naturally I wanted to know more.

So began a voyage of discovery which has, Deo volente, confirmed me completely in my initial reactions to the "new" liturgy as "performed" in most churches today.

It is, was, and always will be little more than puerile nonsense and childish trash, at least so long as the ICEL mistranslation and silly, modern "rubrics" (if they can be called such!) are used.

This might not matter were it not for one, huge, inescapable and unavoidable fact.

This is now what most Western Catholics get, most of the time, in most Catholic churches in the Western world.

What happened to the leaders, scholars, bishops, clergy and learned men and women of the Catholic Church that they ever let it get into their heads to accept this cheap, tawdry substitute for the beauty and solemnity of real liturgy?

What collective madness stole over an entire Church to allow this to happen?

I still do not have a proper answer to this question.

And most bishops in most parts of the Western Church are not about to give me an honest answer, either.

The new parish liturgist is a well-known scholar in his field...