Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Cardinals: Princes of a Higher Kingdom

As was widely reported, Pope Benedict created six new non-European cardinals on eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King.
New Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila wipes away tears after being
made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI during a consistory
in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Nov. 24. (CNS)

The Pope concluded his homily last Sunday:
To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen.

Voice for Justice: a religious freedom blog from the UK

A new blog to counteract the Thought Control that is being perpetrated in the UK on such things as same sex "Marriage", Islam, etc.

The most recent post begins:
The Thought police … coming to a street near you

118 Tory MPs rebelling over the proposed legislation, now apparently being fast-tracked by David Cameron, to allow gay marriage! Whatever next? However hard our Prime Minister tries to pull religion – that is, Christianity - into line and tell us we’re out of step, he seems doomed to failure. And rightly so. Same sex marriage was conspicuously absent from the Tory manifesto leading up to the last election, and it is not, and never can be, the province of Government to try to redefine belief. Yet this is what same sex marriage will do, if it ever becomes law. In one fell swoop, it will attempt to rewrite the Biblical understanding of the nature of men and women, and of our relationship with each other, and with God.

This kind of loopy interventionism would seem increasingly to be becoming a hallmark of British life...

Year of Faith Tweets from English and Welsh Bishops Conference

Pioneering use of ‘twitter’ during the Year of Faith
A new way to teach the Catholic Faith and to encourage people to read the Bible is being piloted on the social networking tool, ‘Twitter’.
@YoFtweets is a daily service that is being provided by the Catholic Bishops’ Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, in partnership with Bible Society. Throughout the Year of Faith (11 October 2012 – 24 November 2013), followers will be led through the documents of the Second Vatican Council, with related extracts from the Bible being offered, as well as quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from some Saints.   
Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: “This is the first time that the Department has been involved in a project to use Twitter to offer a scheme of catechetical material. We hope that, especially for very busy people, it will provide an easily accessible daily encouragement to grow in faith and to share it. Please do 'follow' and share it with your friends.”
Supported by the Bishops' Home Mission Desk, over 400 tweets have been prepared and, where possible, the material complements the liturgical seasons. Quotes in Lent, for example, are designed to help followers to prepare for Easter.
Bishop Conry added: “We hope that by reading the material on Twitter people might be inspired to read more of the documents, the Bible and the Catechism. The Twitter initiative is, we hope, a helpful starting point for people.”
The promotion of the tweets comes ahead of a second national initiative concerning Scripture which is called 'Bible Sunday' and falls on 9 December. For more information please see:  
To sign up for the Twitter resource follow: @YoFtweets and also see: 
Additional Year of Faith materials are available on: 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where to now?

There is a lot of angst among many in the Church about what to do now that President Obama has won a second term. Clearly the bishops' efforts (with the help of their priests and other collaborators) to draw attention to the intrinsic evils that formed part of the Democratic Party's policy platform did not convince a sufficient number of Catholics that they should vote for someone other than the President or Democratic candidates.

One article which demonstrates such angst is by George Weigel in the online version of FirstThings entitled: The Crisis of a Second Obama Administration.

Among other things Weigel calls for the withdrawal of the Church from the civil side of marriage.

The eminent and always concise and perceptive Dr Edward Peters has responded on his blog in a post entitled: Some first thoughts on Weigel’s call to reconsider civil consequences for Catholic weddings.

I entered a comment under the First Things article referred to above but, because of its length, I doubt it shall be published. So here it is.
I have to own up to echoing the opinion of an eminent canonist, and that is that clergy do not so much act as agents of the State. Rather, the State accords recognition to marriages celebrated in the presence of a duly authorized Church minister. If the State wishes to accord such recognition, why reject it? It is good for the couple and for society that the marriage receives such recognition.

As for celebrating marriages that would not receive recognition from the State (e.g. of those without legal papers), Canon Law prohibits this without the permission of the Local Ordinary. There are all sorts of reasons why the Local Ordinary might withhold permission, in which case there are ways and means for the couple themselves to celebrate the marriage without the intervention of a duly delegated minister (who, however, should be present but not intervening). Canonists will be familiar with Can. 1116. Non-canonists: beware. This canon requires careful interpretation. Such a marriage would be sacramental (if both baptized) but would not enjoy civil recognition. The couple would enjoy the Church's blessing upon their union and would, therefore, be able to receive Holy Communion, be godparents, etc. They would not, however, benefit from any state recognition.

All this goes to show that the Civil and Ecclesiastical are separate spheres. One offers civil benefits. The other offers spiritual goods. If both can work together, why tear them asunder?

I feel that the most urgent matter at hand is to deal with those Catholics in public life who promote intrinsic evils. Their diocesan bishops should issue them with the warnings that Canon Law foresees (precepts) and, should they fail to come into line, notify them that they fall under Canon 915. Further penalties can also be considered.

Then we must address the issues affecting the Church's proclamation of the Social Gospel including, but not limited to: the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, the care offered to the stranger (i.e. immigrants - has the Church lost Latinos as a result of this election campaign) and the poor.

A renewed catechesis to be offered to all Catholics who attend Mass, and a public campaign of information on the Church's teaching on various issues.

Homosexuality: However hard it might be, we also need to present our compassionate approach to those who experience same sex attraction, without compromising on the Divine Law concerning marriage and the purpose of human sexuality. We will, like Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, receive "bigot of the year" awards from organizations such as Stonewall, no doubt, but we might at least reach those with open hearts and minds.

I feel this political campaign has divided us so much. The Holy Spirit might show us some ways of healing these divisions.

We need also to recognize that there is a choice to be made: Christ or the World. We are in the world but not of it. Let the world go its way, if it insists. Let us be faithful to the Lord. If the State deprives us of our freedom, it does so unjustly. It will not be the first time Christians experience injustice. But nothing can deprive us of our inner freedom of conscience and will: even if we must withdraw from those areas that, traditionally, were the initiative of Christian missionaries: schools, hospitals, etc. Naturally, we should not do so without seeking to vindicate our rights before the civil courts. It is ridiculous for the State - on the pretext of the separation of the Church and State - to want to kick the Church out of these areas and institutions which were founded, in large part, by Catholic and other Christian missionaries. But if it does, so be it.

Oh, and if we lose tax exempt status, fine.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Cemetery and Grave Blessings

On the first Sunday of November the parish processes after Mass to the nearby cemetery to pray for the dead and bless the graves of departed loved ones, all in accordance with the rite in the Book of Blessings. I'm sure there's one in the more traditional Rituale Romanum but I think it's worth the reminder that this is very much part of the current practice of the Church, at least in theory. However, all of my parishioners have said that they never experienced this before I introduced it last year. I hope this brief post assists in promoting the practice.

Further photos at the parish facebook page.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dr Edward Peters on when to exclude people from Holy Communion

In an article in First Things entitled Fencing the Altar, Dr Peters writes:
Participation in Holy Communion is achieved by two related but distinct acts: the action of a member of the faithful in seeking Communion (reception) and the action of the minister in giving Communion (administration). These two actions are not only performed by different persons, they are governed by different canon laws. Virtually all confusion over Communion can be traced to the failure to keep these two actions distinct.
It is worth reading as it helps minsters guard against over-zealous denial of the Holy Communion on the one hand as well as giving clear guidance on how to apply the law of the Church in this matter. There are public figures whom Peters has no doubt should be excluded by their bishops from Holy Communion.

I am much consoled by his line:
Difficult cases of law and fact will arise, and mistakes will inevitably be made in deciding them.
for we do inevitably find ourselves in tight spots during the celebration of Mass and do not always get it right.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jerusalem or Jericho

Homily for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 28th 2012.

A suicide of a 17 year old

Please pray for the eternal repose of a young girl in the town who took her life at the weekend, and for the young people she went to school with.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

SSPX and unity: more patience needed.

From the Vatican Press Office today:
The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" takes this occasion to announce that, in its most recent official communication (6 September 2012), the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X has indicated that additional time for reflection and study is needed on their part as they prepare their response to the Holy See’s latest initiatives.

The current stage in the ongoing discussions between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity follows three years of doctrinal and theological dialogues during which a joint commission met eight times to study and discuss, among other matters, some disputed issues in the interpretation of certain documents of Vatican Council II. Once these doctrinal dialogues were concluded, it became possible to proceed to a phase of discussion more directly focused on the greatly desired reconciliation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X with the See of Peter.

Other critical steps in this positive process of gradual reintegration had already been taken by the Holy See in 2007 with the extension of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite to the Universal Church by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and in 2009 with the lifting of the excommunications. Just a few months ago, a culminating point along this difficult path was reached when, on 13 June 2012, the Pontifical Commission presented to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X a doctrinal declaration together with a proposal for the canonical normalization of its status within the Catholic Church.

At the present time, the Holy See is awaiting the official response of the superiors of the Priestly Fraternity to these two documents. After thirty years of separation, it is understandable that time is needed to absorb the significance of these recent developments. As Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI seeks to foster and preserve the unity of the Church by realizing the long hoped-for reconciliation of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X with the See of Peter – a dramatic manifestation of the munus Petrinum in action – patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed.
Meanwhile, the SSPX expels Bishop Williamson.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Canonisations in Rome

St Peter's Basilica adorned with portraits of the new Saints. St Kateri is on the
far left, St Marianne is second from the right. Both came from New York State.
Today Pope Benedict declared the following as Saints:


The lady in Indian costume bore the relic of St Kateri to the altar.

The relics of the new Saints.
For the occasion Pope Benedict introduced a long-disused vestment, the Fanon, which has excited those concerned about promoting the continuity of the liturgy. Further details at New Liturgical Press.

The canonisation ceremony took place as a separate liturgical act before the Mass. After the declaration of canonisations, announcements were made in various languages requesting the people to maintain a reverent attitude and, in order to promote a deeper participation in the Mass, to refrain from applause and waving banners. Pope Benedict is showing the world how the Liturgy is to be celebrated - with reverence and a contemplative attitude. Papal Liturgies are to be the models of all liturgy. We should learn - and ensure our liturgies are celebrated in accord with the Roman Liturgy.

Indians from the Upper Peninsula were present, as well as a young girl from the Marquette Cathedral Parish whose name is Kateri! What a treat!

The Pope's homily can be found here.

On the new American saints, the Holy Father remarked:
I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in 1838 in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in 1862 she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in 1656 to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!
St Marianne and St Kateri: pray for the New Evangelisation in the United States of America and in the Americas, and especially among the Native American peoples.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bishop Sample on his pilgrimage across the Upper Peninsula

 He's on his way. Follow him at the UP Catholic Youtube channel and on his Facebook page. Regular updates and wonderful participation by the faithful.

Blessed Sacrament Church, Stowe, Vermont

Last week I had the privilege of preaching  mission by way of inaugurating the Year of Faith at the parish of my good friend Father Benedict Kiely. Here's a little tour of the church.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bishop Sample "Crossing" the UP

To mark the beginning of the Year of Faith Bishop Sample of the diocese of Marquette will travel from North to South and from West to East this weekend.

Saturday morning he will celebrate Mass at Copper Harbor, Saturday evening at Menominee, Sunday Morning in Ironwood and Sunday evening at Drummond Island. He will travel over 1140 miles
as I place the diocese under the sign of the Cross, the symbol of our faith, in preparation for the New Evangelization. FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER (@BishopSample) as I make this historic pilgrimage. And pray the deer and moose stay away from my car!
Bishop Sample's facebook page can be found at

More about Bishop Sample on the Year of Faith to follow, when I get some opportunities for blogging.

Friday, October 12, 2012

US Bishops correct Biden "facts" on HHS

Of course the "Catholic question" came up. Ryan stated his views on abortion and how they are informed by his Catholic faith but are in fact based on science and reason from which it is clear that human life begins at conception and that therefore he was pro life. I noted he was very careful to say that the Romney government policy would be to make exceptions in the case or rape or incest but he did not himself endorse those exceptions. He also said that it would be unreasonable to expect his faith not to influence his public life. For me, he gave a coherent answer on this one.

Biden, on the other hand, went on about the Church's social doctrine, even using technical language such as "de fide" to describe the Church's teaching on human life. And then said how he should not impose his religious beliefs on others. This is quite disingenuous.

Anyway, following last night's Vice Presidential Debate, the USCCB has issued the following remarks on VP Biden's assertions regarding the HHS Mandate:
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:
Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:
"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."
This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.
USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.
For more details, please see USCCB's regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed "accommodation":

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Year of Faith Has Begun

Today Pope Benedict opened the Year of Faith at an open air Mass at St Peter's in Rome. You can watch a recording of the Mass at Vatican's website.

In his homily Pope Benedict recalled that today is the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

There is no doubt that Pope Benedict is setting the Council as a true landmark in the history of the Church and its long and continuous tradition. He said that if the new evangelization is not to remain an ideal or lack effectiveness due to confusion, it needs to be based on the documents of the Council. As he has insisted on many occasions, we must return to the letter of the Council if we are to find its authentic spirit. In other words, the "Spirit of the Council" can only be found in the letter, i.e. the documents.

How many people have you heard purporting to quote the Council when in fact they are only quoting what they think the Council said or perhaps wish it had said?

The Pope also recalled that, before the reform of the liturgy and calendar, this day was kept as the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In just over an hour's time I shall be celebrating this feast in the Extraordinary Form. How wonderful to know that Blessed John XXIII chose this Marian feast to inaugurate such a historic Council.

As Pope Benedict concluded his homily today:
May the Virgin Mary shine always like a star on the road of the new evangelization.

Read the Catechism in a Year

An initiative for the Year of Faith. Sign up in the box at the top of the sidebar on the right hand side of this page. Read today's paragraphs 1 - 10 in your own Catechism or at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What conscience dreads and what prayer does not dare to ask

The priest is given much freedom in selecting the prayers for the weekday Masses. He can repeat the prayers from the previous Sunday or choose prayers from any of the Sundays in Ordinary Time, or even celebrate a Votive Mass.

I tend to repeat the prayers of the preceding Sunday. In this way, the Sunday Mass is somehow extended throughout the week, and the prayers sink deeper into the heart as they are repeated.

This week's Collect might seem a bit of a mouthful but what it expresses is truly profound:
Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
This prayer is one of true release. There are probably dark areas in all our consciences that we would rather not open up. Yet in prayer, before God, we need have no fear. We may dread to face up to things - sometimes great things, more often the small embarrassing things - but we may be confident in the Lord as he pours forth his mercy upon us.

What might we not dare ask for in prayer? All sorts of things. But perhaps, also, for the grace to truly respond to God's call to discipleship, to abandon whatever holds us back, to say "Yes" even though we may doubt our ability. Or perhaps we fear to embrace the Lord's will fully. With the Lord's mercy, all things are possible.

The Prayer after Communion is similarly beautiful:
Grant us, almighty God,
that we may be refreshed and nourished
by the Sacrament which we have received,
so as to be transformed into what we consume.
It is this "divinization" that is made possible by the Incarnation. The Divine Food that we eat at Communion is not changed into us. We are changed into It. We truly are invited to become what we eat.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Desert of British Politics: reduction in abortion time limit "chilling".

As Britain's Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, expresses his personal opinion (The Guardian Newspaper: Jeremy Hunt attacked from all sides...) that the time limit for abortion should be reduced from the current twenty four weeks to twelve weeks, he is berated for expressing his own opinion, and the thought of restricting abortion is described as "chilling" (see my previous chilling post) by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

His own party leader has come out as clearly pro-abortion in stating:
I personally have voted for a modest reduction from the current limit of 24 weeks because I think there are some medical arguments for that. But I don't agree with the 12-week limit...
Of course, Mr Hunt's view that
... 12 weeks is the right point for it. It is just my view about that incredibly difficult question – about the moment we should deem life to start. I don't think the reason I have that view is for religious reasons.
cannot be justified for religious reasons. There is never a "right point" for abortion.

Meanwhile, the UK's largest and oldest pro-life group, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has dismissed recent newspaper stories about ministerial support for reducing abortion time-limits as "journalistic hype".

SPUC was responding to recent stories in The Times and The Telegraph newspapers in which ministers were asked whether they support reducing time-limits for abortion.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC communications manager, told the media earlier today:
"These stories are in reality media-generated hype. There is no 'news' in these stories. The voting records of Jeremy Hunt, Maria Miller and Theresa May on abortion time-limits, over four years ago, are public knowledge. The Telegraph supports reducing abortion time-limits while The Times is strongly against any abortion restrictions, and between them they are generating some heat but little light on the real politics of abortion. There is some scare-mongering by pro-abortion figures, and some groundless hope for success by Nadine Dorries MP, whose amendments in 2008 were clearly defeated.

There is a large pro-abortion majority in Parliament which will ensure that any time-limiting amendments are rejected while using the opportunity to push for pro-abortion amendments. The real political debate about abortion in the UK should focus - as it does elsewhere in the world - on the right to life of all unborn children and on way governments bankroll abortion access at home and abroad."
SPUC is right. There is no point in fighting for reduced abortion time limits. The only way is to seek its abolition.

See SPUC's release of last Thursday (4 October 2012) Fresh perspective, not time-limit debate, needed on abortion, says pro-life group SPUC

Woman survives being burnt alive for 18 hours

I'm sure you'd find that a "chilling" headline. Well, that's what Gianna Jessen went through in the womb of her mother when a saline solution was injected into the womb. The baby swallows the solution so that she is being burned inside and out, and the mother delivers a dead baby. Well, Gianna survived.

Gianna gave an inspiring talk at the pro-life Marquette Care Clinic Banquet last Thursday evening, October 4th. Approaching 500 people attended the banquet which took place at the Northern Michigan University. The venue used in previous years was just too small.

Gianna was not afraid to touch on politics or religion. Her goal in life is tell as many people as possible about the love of Jesus Christ. She drew a comparison between her experience in the womb of her mother with that of Shadrach, Mishael and Abednego, the three young men who survived Nebuchadnezzar's fire in Daniel 3.

The banquet is an annual fund-raising event for Care Clinic which has just recently begun providing services in  this parish at KI Sawyer.

A number of our wonderful young people attended and were able to meet with Gianna.

Saline solution abortions are not carried out now, so does that make abortion less "chilling"?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Former York Minster Canon Chancellor to be received into the Personal Ordinariate

(Catholic Herald)

Dr Edward Norman...
... argues that Anglicanism has “no basis for its authority” as its confession “varies from place to place and person to person”. He says: “At the centre of Anglicanism is a great void.”

He adds: “The Church of England provides a masterclass in equivocation; it also, however, is the residence of very many good and faithful Christian people who deserve respect – for their perseverance in so many incoherent spiritual adventures.

“To leave their company is a wrench; to adhere to the Catholic faith is to join the encompassing presence of a universal body of believers in whose guardianship are the materials of authentic spiritual understanding… I have immense gratitude.”
Eight years ago he said that Anglicanism is going to tip into the sea.

It is not clear to me whether Dr Norman is already a Catholic and entering the Ordinariate as a layman or with a view to being ordained a priest for the Ordinariate. Either way, this is a piece of good news for the Catholic Church in England.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cardinal Murphy O'Connor - attracted to the idea of being in House of Lords

Well, that's the part of the story that led me to this interview in the Daily Telegraph.

Far more interesting are his comments on secularism, e.g.:
“There is a new orthodoxy of what it is OK to believe or not believe. Some of it is sensible, but some of it seems to me to be a cause of intolerance,” he says. “Nobody is obliged to be a Christian, but no one should be obliged to live according to the new secular religion, which says it alone decides what’s right. It says, 'We rationalists decide, and all sensible people must accept this.’ Why should believers have to conform? Especially if it’s to do with social, medical and sexual matters.

“I think there’s a small minority who are aggressive, who want religion to keep silent, not to have a voice.”

They haven’t got a hope of that when it comes to the Cardinal. His affable tone – as he leans back in a leather chair – disguises tough talk.
He is getting quite a battering in the Comments but I think he speaks wisely. The fact that he is 80 perhaps accounts for the wisdom. And maybe he should have been given a seat in the Lords? Maybe, or maybe not, but he obeyed the Pope's indications.

He also confidently predicts that Archbishop Nicholls will be a Cardinal in a year or two.

Monsignor Georges Lemaître Father of the Big Bang

The BBC has produced a wonderful half-hour radio programme about this Catholic Priest who is known as the Father of the Big Bang, describing the integration of his love of science with his faith, acknowledging him as a holy priest, a true scientist and appealing human being.

From the BBC website:
William Crawley tells the surprising story of the Catholic priest behind one of the most important scientific theories of our time.

Monsignor Georges Lemaître was both a great scientist and a deeply spiritual priest, and his work on cosmology continues to influence our best scientific accounts of the universe.

He came up with the scientific notion of The Big Bang Theory, now one of the most recognisable scientific brands in the world, Lemaitre wore his clerical collar while teaching physics, at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.

It was this unassuming Catholic priest in this modest centre of academia who has changed the way we look at the origins of the universe.

His story also challenges the assumption that science and religion are always in conflict.

William meets men of God, and men of science who knew Lemaitre, to explain how he was able to satisfy his ardent religious beliefs alongside his curiosity about how the world was formed, a curiosity that has radically shaped modern scientific ideas, and how his life-story also challenges the claim that science and religion are necessarily in conflict.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Duty to Maintain Communion

Because I have been asked I am recording some of my homilies. This is today's offering. Have a blessed day and week.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Way to Fly

There really is no other way!

Bishop Thomas J Paprocki on troubling issues of Democratic Party Policy

Bishop Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, (watch video above or read his article) addresses the "platforms" of the Democratic and Republican Parties. He points out the following intrinsic evils in the platform of the Democratic Party:

  • Abortion should be safe and legal and should be a right "regardless of the ability to pay", which can only happen if taxpayers are required to fund abortion, or insurance companies can will be required to pay for them, or hospitals will be forced to perform them for free.
  • support for same-sex marriage, recognizing that "gay rights are human rights", calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law signed by President Clinton in 1996 that defined marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.

He also addresses the troubling conflict over whether or not the name of God should be included in the party platform, pointing out that if it was only included at the will of the The Party Leader, then it could also just as easily be removed at the will of The Leader, which does not bode well for democracy in the Democratic Party.

Bishop Paprocki looks at the Republican Party platform and finds party support for no intrinsic evils.

On other matters, a Catholic can hold a variety of opinions, such as how "to address the needs of the poor, feed the hungry, solve the problems of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils."

Bishop Paprocki is concerned for the salvation of the souls of his flock when he concludes his piece as follows:
I am not telling you which party or which candidates to vote for or against, but I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.

I pray that God will give you the wisdom and guidance to make the morally right choices.

May God give us this grace. Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"A Consequential Election" - Bishop Alexander Sample

Bishop Sample of Marquette, Michigan, is contributing a 4-part series of articles in the diocesan newspaper The UP Catholic to guide his diocesan faithful in the November General Election.

His first article entitled "A Consequential Election" deals in general with the Church's social teachings describing her rich and well-developed social doctrine as "one of the 'best kept secrets of the Church'".

In his second article Bishop Sample writes about the Church's teachings on life. "From the very moment of conception, a unique and irreplaceable member of the human family comes into existence."

The UP Catholic, published twice monthly, is available free on line, and you can subscribe to receive a free email notification when a new edition is published by clicking on the enotify button at the top of the page.

Who and what are we offering at Mass?

When ... the bread and the wine are placed on the altar we are symbolically hidden in them, united to Jesus Christ and offered with him. (Blessed Columba Marmion, Christ: the Ideal of the Priest, Ignatius Press, p.217)
So when the priest says the following prayer at the Offertory:
Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens ætérne Deus, hanc immaculátam hóstiam, quam ego indígnus fámulus tuus óffero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabílibus peccátis, et offensiónibus, et neglegéntiis meis, et pro ómnibus circumstántibus, sed et pro ómnibus fidélibus christiánis vivis atque defúnctis: ut mihi, et illis profíciat ad salútem in vitam ætérnam. Amen.

Receive, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless host, which I, Thy unworthy servant, offer unto Thee, my living and true God, for mine own countless sins, offenses and negligences, and for all here present; as also for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may avail both for my own and their salvation unto life eternal. Amen.
what is the "immaculate (or spotless) host"? Is it the bread that lies on the altar? Maybe. But surely it is also the Church, all of us. The Church is spotless, we no doubt are sinners, and yet we are all that the Son has to offer to the Father. The priest, standing in persona Christi, professes the fact that he is servant and unworthy, that he has countless sins that require the Father's mercy. In some senses, he is Christ taking upon Himself all the sins of the Church so that the Church can be offered pure and spotless.

I am reminded of the first time I celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Even though I had read and rehearsed the prayers, it was only when standing at the altar that the force of the following words said in preparation for Holy Communion after the Lord's Prayer became apparent to me:
Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesia tua; eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris: Qui vivis et regnas Deus per omnia saecula saculorum. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to Thy Apostles, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; look not upon my sins, but upon the faith of Thy Church; and vouchsafe to grant her peace and unity according to Thy will: O God who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.
The faith of the Church is pleasing to God, even if the priest is sinful and unworthy. Even though the Mass is effective even if the participation of the faithful is lacking, think dear Catholic faithful of how the priest asks the Father to look upon your faith and upon you as members of the immaculate Bride of Christ, a spotless victim offered to the Father in union with His Son.

Pray for me as I go now to offer the Holy Sacrifice. I'll make a special memento for all my readers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bishop Sample's Homily at Mass in Honor of Venerable Frederic Baraga

Bishop Sample preaches on the New Evangelization and how the life of Bishop Baraga exemplifies the seven priorities of the New Evangelization as set out by Blessed Pope John Paul II in Novo Millennio Ineunte.

See more at Bishop Sample's Facebook page.

We proclaim the death of the Lord...

Why? Shouldn't it be His Resurrection? My reading from Christ the Ideal of the Priest has provided a neat insight.

We must realize that, at the consecration, the whole drama of Calvary, with all the consequence of sufferings and humiliations which it involved for Jesus, is present before God. It may be said in all truth truth that we are displaying before the eyes of the Eternal One all this divine past; that is why the Apostle says so aptly that at every Mass "we announce to the Father the death of His Son."

Every time that a priest celebrates Mass, he is presenting (to the Father) the Son Himself under the sacred species making, for love, a true immolation, though in sacramental form.

Let us dwell a little on this thought. What does the Father see on the altar stone on which the holy sacrifice is offered? He sees the body and blood of the Son of His love: Filius dilectionis suae (Col. 1:13). And what is that the Son is doing on the altar? Anuntiat mortem: He is placing before the eyes of the Father His love, His obedience, His suffering, the oblation of His life. And the Father casts on us a look of mercy.
We really do need to try to acquire a "God's eye view" of the Mass.

St Vincent de Paul and the Poor

St Vincent (1581 - 1660) founded the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians) to give spiritual formation to the clergy and relief to the poor. In a letter to the priests of his Congregation he wrote:
Let us show our service to the poor ... with renewed ardour in our hearts, seeking out above all any abandoned people, since they are given to us as lords and patrons.
In the poor we encounter Christ Himself, our Lord and God.

The St Vincent de Paul Society of Marquette is being featured in a three-part series in the Mining Journal.

Sep. 24th: St. Vincent de Paul has long history of helping people

Sep. 25th: Marquette thrift store is hub for St. Vincent de Paul Society activities

Sep. 26th: St. Vincent de Paul food pantry works to fill gaps

Ron Provost, President of the Marquette
St Vincent de Paul Society

And today:Sep. 27th: Kiwanians assist St. Vincent de Paul

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Further comment on the German Bishops

I have received some very helpful feedback on the subject of my previous post.

I would refer readers to the latest post by Jimmy Akin, a correspondent with the National Catholic Register, on his blog. Among other things he writes:
As a Catholic News Service story suggests, the German bishops have tried to frame the issue without reference to money and instead frame it in terms of Catholic identity:

"There must be consequences for people who distance themselves from the church by a public act," said Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, conference president, in defending the Sept. 20 decree.

"Clearly, someone withdrawing from the church can no longer take advantage of the system like someone who remains a member," he said at a Sept. 24 news conference as the bishops began a four-day meeting in Fulda. "We are grateful Rome has given completely clear approval to our stance."

The archbishop said each departure was "painful for the church," adding that bishops feared many Catholics were unaware of the consequences and would be "open to other solutions."

"The Catholic church is committed to seeking out every lost person," said Archbishop Zollitsch, whose remarks were reported by Germany's Die Welt daily.

"At issue, however, is the credibility of the church's sacramental nature. One cannot be half a member or only partly a member. Either one belongs and commits, or one renounces this," Archbishop Zollitsch said.
Akin also addresses the issue of manifest grave sin:
Since denying your faith before the state is a mortal sin, it is thus potential matter for canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which provides

"Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."

If they have denied their faith before the state, it's a grave sin. Because they filed paperwork with the state, it's a manifest sin. And if their pastor has talked to them about it and they haven't turned back then they are obstinately persevering in it.

So I see a possible basis for denying them holy Communion on such grounds. I don't want to go further into canonical waters, however, until I've seen the actual documents involved and seen competent commentary from others.

My point is that the German bishops may have reasonable grounds for their decree, canonically, either because it merely applies existing provisions of the Church's universal law or because it further specifies that law as particular legislation for Germany.
I think this makes very good sense.

The Catholic News Service article reports:
"Conscious dissociation from the church by public act is a grave offense against the church community," the (bishops') decree said.

"Whoever declares their withdrawal for whatever reason before the responsible civil authority always violates their duty to preserve a link with the church, as well as their duty to make a financial contribution so the church can fulfill its tasks."
Akin also quotes several verses of Scripture, including:
Jesus said: “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 10:32-33).
I must say I think he has analysed the case extremely well with his skill as a journalist, and it seems that the German bishops have acted appropriately. As so often, it is the narrative that is the problem but I guess the bishops could not have won this anyway. The media would always spin it as being a case of no tax, no sacraments.

See also Ars Vivendi for an explanation from one who lives in Germany.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Can the German Bishops do this?

UPDATE September 27th.

Since writing the below yesterday, a lot of comment has been generated which greatly clarifies the situation. It would seem to me that there is a clear break of communion by those who "defect" or declare their intention to leave the Church. In which case it would seem that the bishops have the right/duty to inform the people of the consequences. It's not about the money but about the act of defection. There is, however, the problem of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts specifically excluding the removal of one's name from a government maintained register in order to secure certain civil consequences (see below) as sufficient for procuring formal defection. I guess it would depend on the means required for such removal. If, for removal, one actually has to say "I wish to leave the Catholic Church", then one should be taken at one's word and face the consequences.

Please see Further Comment. Also of interest are: Jimmy Akin quoted in Further Comment, Sentire Cum Ecclesia, Ars Vivendi, the German Bishops Conference, comments of Dr Edward Peters.


As widely reported the German bishops have decreed that Catholics who "renounce" their membership of the Catholic Church so as to avoid paying the religious tax will not be able to receive the sacraments, act as godparents or have a Catholic funeral. Which sounds pretty severe. Is it legal in Catholic Church law?

Reports can be read at the BBC and Reuters. I'm not knowledgeable about why Germany operates a religious tax system. No doubt it has historical roots. The religious tax is about 8% of your overall tax bill, so if you pay 10,000 euro income tax, a further 800 euro will be added to your tax bill and go towards your church/religion of declared affiliation: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish... It is not an 8% income tax. Apparently over 180,000 Catholics "left" the Church in 2010 following the various scandals that have rocked the Church in Germany and elsewhere. Other religions have also experienced a fall in their tax-paying members. Apparently, many "left" as way of reducing their tax bill when income tax went up to cope with the effects of the reunification of East Germany with the rest of Germany in the early 1990's.

So, can the bishops deny baptised Catholics the sacraments because they do not pay the tax? Have Catholics who have decided to remove themselves from the civil religious register put themselves outside the Church? The media reports claim that the Vatican has approved the measure, but this does not mean the measure is beyond appeal. And I daresay it won't be long before someone appeals to Rome if they are denied the sacraments, or prohibited from being a godparent, or their relative is denied a funeral, simply on the basis that they are not registered in the State taxation system.

What does Canon Law have to say?

How is a Catholic defined?
Can. 96 By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way.

Can. 205 Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.
So if one is baptized in the Catholic Church, or received into it after valid baptism in another Church or ecclesial community, one is joined with the Church in its visible structure, unless one breaks the bonds of faith, sacraments and/or governance. One has duties and rights. Does removal from the religious tax register constitute being no longer joined with the Church in its visible structure? As for the duty of supporting the Church, could one not claim that one is fulfilling this duty in ways other than paying the tax, e.g. by placing money in a collection etc? The Church has never stipulated a set sum of money that must be contributed for membership to continue.

The Eucharist

The rights/duties of Catholics as regards the Eucharist:
Can. 912 Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion.
So a Catholic is presumed to have a right to receive holy communion. There are very strict conditions that must be met before a minister can refuse to give holy communion to a Catholic.

There is a special requirement for children:
Can. 913 #1. The administration of the Most Holy Eucharist to children requires that they have sufficient knowledge and careful preparation so that they understand the mystery of Christ according to their capacity and are able to receive the body of Christ with faith and devotion.

Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor (parish priest) to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.
So, the question arises: are Catholic children whose parents have removed themselves from the civil religious tax register prohibited from receiving the Eucharist? It would appear that the tenor of the Canons is quite to the contrary. Everything should be done - primarily by the parents of course (and here they must examine their consciences as primary educators of their children as to the consequences of removal from the religious tax register) but also by the pastors - to ensure that children with the use of reason receive the Eucharist at the earliest possible time.

An assessment must therefore be made as to the consequences for their children of parents removing themselves from the register. Does such an action conflict with their duty of educating their children in the Catholic faith? I'm not pretending to give a general answer to this question. I am simply posing it. Perhaps the German bishops' decree addresses this issue. I have not seen it.

Those who may not receive the Eucharist:
Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
This Canon refers to the external forum. The reports state that all talk of excommunication has been carefully avoided and, indeed, excommunication is a penalty that can only be imposed on one who has committed a crime in the Church. So those who have removed themselves from the religious tax register have not received either of these penalties. They are not being accused of having committed a canonical crime.

So, are they amongst those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin? It's certainly manifest in that it is a matter of public record. But is withholding the religious tax a grave sin?
Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to ... receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.
This Canon refers to the internal forum of conscience, but again the question hinges on whether or not self-removal from the register is a grave sin.

Canon 844 concerns the discipline regarding administration and reception of the sacraments of penance, holy eucharist and anointing of the sick by/to members of other churches and ecclesial communities. But this canon would not be applicable since the people we are talking about are Catholics.

Does removal from the tax register constitute departure from the Church? It is possible to formally defect from the Church and there used to be consequences of such defection on the validity of marriage contracted outside the Church. These consequences were done away with by Pope Benedict but it is still possible to formally defect. And this must have consequences.

In a 2006 interpretation from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, the conditions for a successful formal defection are described in detail and may be read on its website. Of great relevance to our study is the following paragraph:
The substance of the act of the will must be the rupture of those bonds of communion – faith, sacraments, and pastoral governance – that permit the Faithful to receive the life of grace within the Church. This means that the formal act of defection must have more than a juridical-administrative character (the removal of one’s name from a Church membership registry maintained by the government in order to produce certain civil consequences), but be configured as a true separation from the constitutive elements of the life of the Church: it supposes, therefore, an act of apostasy, heresy or schism.
It is to be noted that the removal of one's name from a tax register simply to avoid paying the religious tax is explicitly mentioned as not being sufficient for formal defection from the Catholic faith. One must have the intention of rupturing one's communion with the Church by an act of apostasy, heresy or schism. This would surely have to be verified in each individual case.

What about the concept of notoriously or publicly abandoning the faith, (which is not the same as the formal act of defection mentioned above)? Notorious or public defection from the Catholic Church has consequences such as: being unqualified to vote in any canonical elections for ecclesiastical offices (Can. 171 #1,4); automatic removal from any ecclesiastical offices held (Can. 194 #1,2); becoming unqualified for reception into public associations of the faithful (Can. 316 #1); their marriage in the Catholic Church would need the permission of the local ordinary (Can. 1071 #1,4) and when marrying a Catholic their marriage is subject to certain conditions that apply to mixed marriages i.e. they are treated in some way as non-Catholics (Can. 1071 #2) while still remaining subject to ecclesiastical law (Can. 11).

All the Christian faithful are obliged to maintain communion with the Church. (Can. 209 #1) and to notoriously or publicly abandon the faith is, I would guess, a grave sin, and so one guilty of such an act would doubtless fall within the category of those in manifest grave sin referred to in Can. 915 as well as falling under Can. 916. So they could be refused communion. But is removing one's name from the religious tax register such a notorious and public act of defection?

One notes that the German bishops' document states that those who have removed their names from the register must get the permission of their bishop before marrying a Catholic in a church ceremony. They therefore do indeed seem to be classifying these people as notorious and public defectors from the faith. (See my reference to Can. 1071 two paragraphs up.)


Among other things sponsors must

  • have the aptitude and intention of fulling this function (in assisting an adult in Christian initiation or together with the parents an infant for baptism, and helping the baptized person to lead a Christian life and to fulfill faithfully the obligations inherent in baptism);
  • be at least sixteen years old;
  • be a Catholic who has been confirmed and has already received the Eucharist;
  • be leading a life of faith in keeping with their function as sponsors;
  • not be bound by any canonical penalty. (Cann. 872, 874)

Under these canons, it would have to be verified whether or not removal of one's name from the tax register constitutes a failure in living the life of faith in keeping with the function of sponsor. I cannot see that any of the other requirements are affected by this act.


The Canons dealing with denial of funeral rites are as follows:
Can. 1184 #1 Unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, the following must be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals:
- 1 notorious apostates, heretics, and schismatics;
- 2 those who chose cremation of their bodes for reasons contrary to Christian faith;
- 3 other manifest sinners who cannot be granted ecclesiastical funerals without public scandal of the faithful.
#2 If any doubt occurs, the local ordinary is to be consulted, and his judgment followed.

Can. 1185 Any funeral Mass must also be denied a person who is excluded from ecclesiastical funerals.
Can a general statement be made of those who have removed themselves from the religious tax register that they are notorious apostates, heretics or schismatics, or manifest sinners? I would find this hard to accept. It must surely be determined on an individual and case by case basis.

But the bishops seem to be clear that these people do fall under one of the categories of Can. 1184 #1 for they state that
"If the person who left the Church shows no sign of repentance before death, a religious burial can be refused."
As I must stress, I have not seen the decree nor any other documentation concerning this matter. But it would seem to me that the burden of proof is with the ecclesiastical authorities to verify that one who has removed his/her name from the religious tax register has in fact notoriously abandoned the faith or formally defected from the Church or is by some other means in manifest grave sin.

I await with interest the comments of Dr. Edward Peters who is obviously studying the matter closely. The reported position of the German bishops is that
"This decree makes clear that one cannot partly leave the Church.It is not possible to separate the spiritual community of the Church from the institutional Church."
This is obviously a fair point, but I think a lot rests on the motives for the removal of one's name from the tax register. I think it would be difficult to uphold the requirement of being on a tax register for being considered a member of the "institutional Church". But I'm sure the bishops have good Canon Lawyers involved in this and that the Vatican has guided them. We shall have to wait and see. I find it perplexing and would agree with one commentator that it sends the wrong signal.

The act par excellence of priestly charity is a Mass well said.

I am currently reading Christ - The Ideal of Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion (available from Ignatius Press and Amazon). It is a truly rich book of spirituality and theology for a priest. But all Christian faithful would benefit greatly from its wisdom. In my reading this morning I read the following:
We must remember that the act par excellence of priestly charity is a Mass well said. When he is celebrating, the priest must not think of himself alone. He bears in his heart the responsibility of his charge of souls. He must pray for his flock, for his works; for his parish, for his diocese, for the whole Church and, from the chalice of benediction which he consecrates, he will pour out on souls, even those far distant, a flood of merciful grace. On Calvary, Jesus took upon Himself our anguish and our sufferings. he was the Good Shepherd Who gave His live for all His sheep.

At the altar, when he is offering the chalice, the minister of Christ, associated by Him in His work of salvation, must embrace in a great movement of charity the divers needs of the whole human race: Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem ... ut pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat: "We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice ... for our salvation and for that of the whole world, rising with a pleasing fragrance."
This was the final paragraph in a section on the various ways a priest must exercise charity in imitation of Christ. A Mass well said is no substitute for all the other ways of living charity that are necessary for a holy life, particularly a priestly life. But it is surely the crowning of all the priest's life of charity.

As for text of the Mass quoted above, it is of course from the Offertory prayers of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. Here is the prayer in full with English translation, and the corresponding prayer in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I'm afraid the newer is poorer, in my opinion.

The older:
Offérimus tibi, Dómine, cálicem salutáris, tuam deprecántes cleméntiam: ut in conspéctu divínæ majestátis tuæ, pro nostra et totíus mundi salute, cum odóre suavitátis ascéndat. Amen.

We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, beseeching Thy clemency, that it may ascend in the sight of Thy divine majesty with a sweet savour, for our own salvation and for that of the whole world. Amen.
And the new (in English only):
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will bcome our spiritual drink.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bishop Philip Egan's address at the end of his ordination Mass

Bishop Philip Egan has pronounced his Magna Carta for his episcopate. Beautifully and compassionately delivered, and so clear.

Highlights for me:
We must offer this salvific message to a people,
       sorely in need of new hope and direction,
       disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics,
       wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment,
       and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers
       who, in the relativistic world they're creating, however well-intentioned,
       are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.

Please pray for me to the Lord Jesus,
       whose Heart yearns for us in the Blessed Sacrament,
       that I might be a humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous,
       Bishop of Portsmouth, one fashioned after the Lord's own.
The address in full (also at the Portsmouth diocese website)

Dear fellow pilgrims on life's journey,
we inhabit a remarkable century, the 21st,
which despite the current economic distemper, is witnessing momentous advances
in every domain of human knowledge and endeavour,
with new discoveries and new applications in science and engineering,
in computing and cybernetics, in medicine and bio-technology,
in the social sciences, arts and humanities,
all of which manifest the limitless self-transcending reach
of human experience, understanding and judgement
and the cloud of burgeoning possibilities for human deciding,
undreamt of by those who've gone before.
Indeed, even as we speak, Curiosity is roving among the sand-dunes of Mars,
in anticipation of a manned space-voyage to the Red Planet. 
With all these exhilarating developments, the Catholic Tradition must engage,
the old with the new, in a mutually-enriching critical-conversation.
Yet the ordination of a Bishop,
as Successor of the Apostles, in communion of mind, will and heart with the Pope,
as the chief Shepherd, Teacher and High Priest of the diocese entrusted to him,
who, like the Master, must lay down his life for his flock,
reminds us that human needs ever remain essentially the same:
the need to love and to be loved,
the need for a purpose and vocation in life,
the need to belong to family and community,
the need for mercy and forgiveness, for peace and justice, for freedom and happiness,
and most profoundly, the need for immortality and for the Divine.
All these fundamental desires, hard-wired into the human heart:
theology expresses in the word 'salvation,'
and we profess that every child, woman and man on this planet can find that salvation.
There is a Way - and it's the Truth!
It's the true Way that leads to Life, real life, life to the full, a life that never ends.
There is a Way, and it's not a strategy, a philosophy or a package-deal.
            This Way has a Name, because it's a Person,
            the only Person in human history who really did rise from the dead,
            a Person alive here and now: Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son Incarnate.
He alone can save us.
            He alone can give us the salvation our spirits crave.
            He alone can reveal to us the Truth about God and about life,
            about happiness and humanism, about sexuality and family values,
            about how to bring to the world order, justice, reconciliation and peace.
This message of Good News, and the civilisation of love it occasions,
            we Catholics must now communicate imaginatively, with confidence and clarity,
            together with our fellow Christians, and all people of faith and good will,
            to the people of England, this wonderful land, Mary's Dowry.
We must offer this salvific message to a people,
            sorely in need of new hope and direction,
            disenfranchised by the desert of modern British politics,
            wearied by the cycle of work, shopping, entertainment,
            and betrayed by educational, legal, medical and social policy-makers
            who, in the relativistic world they're creating, however well-intentioned,
            are sowing the seeds of a strangling counterculture of death.
My brothers and sisters, today, the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom, of England's Nazareth,
let's go forth from this Mass with joyful vigour, resolved in the Holy Spirit,
to help bring about the conversions needed - intellectual, moral and spiritual -
for everyone-we-meet to receive Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Life, the way to TGLHH&F.
Bishop Crispian, I thank you sincerely for your most gracious welcome here
            and on behalf of the whole diocese I express to you our deepest gratitude
            for the wonderful legacy you have bequeathed to us.
            Please pray I might be a worthy successor.
Archbishop Peter Smith, our metropolitan, I thank you for coming here today as co-consecrator
            and Bishop Mark too, you have given me an inspiring example
            of what it means to be a brilliant diocesan Bishop.
I thank Archbishop Vincent for his excellent homily,
            and all my brother bishops for your support and prayer.
I also greet Mgr. Brian, asking him to express my gratitude to his Excellency,
            Archbishop Mennini, and through him to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict,
            who, in God's providence, has trustingly given me this appointment.
On everyone's behalf, many thanks to Canon Hopgood, Fr. Phillip,
            all the helpers here at the Cathedral,
            and to Fr. Stephen, our musicians, servers, sacristans and others
            who have made this Liturgy so memorable.
I also greet all our friends here today:
            first, our ecumenical guests, the dignitaries from the Navy,
the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, and civic leaders,
            then, the priests and people of this diocese, and those of Shrewsbury Diocese,
            and all my personal friends, many of whom have travelled from so far away:
            from the US, California, Germany, France and the north of England.
It's marvellous too that so many dear parishioners have come from Romiley,
            together with some of our best altar servers, all in fine array,
            - a huge journey - thank you so much.
And finally, I must add my love and thanks to my family,
            my three brothers and sisters in law, my nephews and nieces,
            and to one truly special person, without whom I wouldn't be here today: my father.
            Thank you Dad for everything - all my love to you, God bless and good health.

I must stop now or we'll be late for the 'do'.
            Thank you all, once again.
            Please pray for me to the Lord Jesus,
            whose Heart yearns for us in the Blessed Sacrament,
            that I might be a humble and holy, orthodox, creative and courageous,
            Bishop of Portsmouth, one fashioned after the Lord's own.


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