Thursday, 25 May 2017

Golden Jubilee of Priesthood for Fr John Johnson

Many congratulations to Fr John Johnson, who celebrated 50 years of Priesthood this week at a Mass at the beautiful church of St Mary in Wigan (his home parish!). A well respected and much loved priest. 
Ad multos annos!

Archbishop Malcolm preached on Fr Johnson's natural ability to feed the sheep.

 Auxiliary Bishop Tom Williams was also in attendance.


A cake presented by Fr Paul Grady, one of the vocations ordained at St Mary's, and Benedict Ratchford, server at the Mass and part of the Youth Ministry Team in the Archdiocese.

More photographs at the Archdiocesan Flickr site all courtesy of Nick Fairhurst ( an old friend and parishioner at my former parish of st Cuthbert's in Wigan.)

Interestingly, I think I'm right in saying that Fr Johnson and Fr Canon Christopher Cunningham (also originally from St Mary's and celebrating Mass with Fr Johnson here, were the last priests in the Archdiocese to be ordained under the old form, before the changes after Vatican II. Interestingly, the first ordinations in the Traditional Form for 50 years in the Archdiocese will take place next month at another St Mary's - in Warrington - when Archbishop Malcolm will ordain deacons Alex Stewart and Krzysztof Sanetra to the Pristhood.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Ascension Thursday Mass

Mass on Ascension Thursday 
in the 
Traditional Form
St Catherine Labouré Church 

Just Low Mass this time.

All welcome
Light refreshments served afterwards.

The Church and the liturgy face a ‘profound crisis’, says Cardinal Sarah

These words from Cardinal Sarah speak for themselves without much comment from me. Certainly, we have lost the "art" of celebrating liturgy in a way that raises the heart and mind or directs the eyes of the soul to contemplating the divine. Prosaic, earthbound, uninspiring celebrations of Mass, sloppily executed, always leave me feeling so sad and with the thought of another missed opportunity to touch hearts and minds.

From the Catholic Herald site:

Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgical chief, has spoken of a “serious, profound crisis” in the liturgy and the Church since the Second Vatican Council.

In a message to a liturgical conference in Herzogenrath, Germany, translated for Catholic World Report by Michael J Miller, Cardinal Sarah praised Vatican II’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. But he said the Council had been followed by a “serious crisis of faith, not only at the level of the Christian faithful but also and especially among many priests and bishops”.

The Cardinal, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said the “crisis” was particularly visible in the way the Mass has been understood and celebrated. He argued that many Catholics had neglected “sacred silence”, and gestures such as kneeling which express reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. They had also forgotten that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, “identical to the act performed once and for all by Jesus Christ, making present the Sacrifice of the Cross in a non-bloody manner”.

He added that the Church had experienced “devastation, destruction and wars” not only in the liturgy, but also in doctrine, morals and Church discipline. “More and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times, and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God,” he said.

The conference was on the tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio which called for “mutual enrichment” between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Mass, and gave greater freedom to celebrate the older form.

Cardinal Sarah had originally planned to attend the conference, but had “unexpected” obligations and sent a message instead.

He quoted several times from Benedict’s writings, including his remark – when Cardinal Ratzinger – that the Church’s crisis was “to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy”.

Cardinal Sarah suggested that the crisis had followed when God was displaced from the centre of the liturgy. Instead of directing worship towards the adoration of God, the Eucharist became dominated by merely human motives such as “the community’s celebration of itself”.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Navalis Festival, Prague

I had a wonderful time at the celebrations for the feast of St John Nepomuk, Patron Saint of Prague, last week. Staying with a priest friend in the diocese there enabled me to take a full part in the festivities. A splendid Mass in the packed Cathedral celebrated by Cardinal Dominik Duka, who was joined by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza (3rd from the left) with about forty priests in attendance and many seminarians as well. 

Before Mass began, the cardinal blessed a team of horses from Moravia from the balcony of his palace.

As Mass concluded, we processed from the Cathedral with the relic of St John. The elaborate canopy to the rear hangs over his magnificent shrine, where the relic is kept.

The celebration goes back a long way, flourishing in the Baroque period, but was in abeyance for many years under the years of Communist rule. However, in recent years Cardinal Duka has re-established it as a huge public festival, with a procession through he streets and over the Charles Bridge, concluding with a spectacular fireworks display on the river, complete with full orchestra and a huge party on a river boat for the great and the good of Prague. Used very much as a way to put the Church back at the centre of the city's cultural life. (The Church suffered greatly in the former Czechoslovakia and the present day Czcech Republic has only about 10% of the population declaring themselves as Catholics.)

An open topped carriage is gifted to the Cardinal for the day, which means that he can ride for most of the procession, rather than walk (lucky him, it takes quite while).

The relic on the Charles Bridge, where we stopped for prayers and litanies at his statue and the site marked as the place of martyrdom, where he was thrown into the river in 1393.

It's not misty in this photograph - just that the thrurible was giving off a LOT of smoke!

A new feature was a salute by a parachutist, who descended from the skies and manoeuvred his parachute under the arches of the Charles Bridge, hence everyone looking heavenwards.

The fireworks were something to behold and great fun in concert with the music.

I visited the Chapel in the Archiepiscopal Palace earlier int the day, after a meeting with Cardinal Duka (he is the Chaplain General for the Order of St Lazarus). Our Lady of Fatima was still crowned after her recent feast day.

There are many more photographs 

A news report here - in Czech, if anyone is clever enough to speak it!
(You have to be quick to get a glimpse of yours truly once or twice!)

The splendid fireworks.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Traditional Confirmations in the Archdiocese


Archbishop Malcolm McMahon presided at Confirmations at St Mary's, Warrington, recently, administering the Sacrament in the Traditional Form. 

How times change! Not so long ago, this would have been thought impossible here in the Archdiocese. It's good to see all parts of the Church community being catered for and warmly welcomed. Such a welcome enables the FSSP Fathers to take part in the life of the Archdiocese; it's always good to see them at diocesan functions. Thus, those looking after the Extraordinary Form are now an ordinary part of the Diocese, which, to my mind, is how it should be.

Some more photographs can be viewed on the FSSP Flickr site.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Do you want to be Extraordinary? Come and learn!

Any priests, deacons and religious welcome!
Next Clergy Day: Wednesday 10th May 2017

1pm Lunch at nearby restaurant (meet at St Mary's, Warrington at 1pm and walk there together)
2pm Coffee, and 40mins Talk on 'Avoiding Priestly Apostasy'. It happened to some better than us. No apostate priest means to deny Christ from the start. It begins with agreeing on mere formalities. Just a little step... Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP will illustrate 12 practical steps endangering and eventually uprooting the fidelity of priests to Christ and His Church. 

Should you wish to arrive earlier to pray: Church open from 11am, with Rosary at 11.30am and Confessions from 11.40am, followed by Mass at 12.10pm.

Liturgical Training
There will also be the opportunity for priests and seminarians to have one-to-one training in offering Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Sessions are available at 11am, 12noon (memorial chapel) and 3pm. Please book in advance to be sure.

Venue for the above: St Mary's Warrington, car park accessed via Smith Street, WA1 2NS

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Archbishop Malcolm McMahon interview

H/T to Fr Bede Rowe for spotting an interview in the Guardian with Archbishop Malcolm the other day. I've always found +Malcolm to be someone who takes all sorts of things in his stride, so the interviewer must have been pretty annoying, for His Grace seems to have had occasion to put him in his place; asking him,  "You do this for a living, do you?"

It's all about Catholic Education, of which His Grace rightly defends the principles (whatever some of us might think about the content).