Monday, 21 August 2017

Conference, Mary and Martyrdom at Chavagnes Studium

 The College Chaplain, Fr Mark Lawler, 
celebrates a Mass of Mary Immaculate in the college chapel, 
assisted by students of the College.

“The sorrowing mother: an eternal theme of the human imagination”,
a talk by Ferdi McDermott. 

“The Marian Devotion of Father Frederick William Faber”, 
a talk presented by Father Sebastian Jones, Cong Orat.
from the Oratory in formation in Cardiff.

“The martyrs of the Vendée”,
 a talk presented by Mr Louis Mabille.

On that note, just this week Cardinal Sarah has been visiting the Venée and gave a powerful sermon on just this topic. The Studium and Conference are hopeful that the Cardinal may pay a return visit next year to the Vendée to take part in the Conference.

Anyone who would like to be kept informed of the Conference details for next year (around about 30th July - 3 August 2018) can do so by e-mailing the Headmaster at:

The proposed topic is Europe and the Faith, so that should lead in some interesting directions. 

“The Sufferings of Mary in the Liturgy”, 
a talk presented by Mr Gerhard Eger,
lecturer at Maison de Formation St Alberto Hurtado
in the south of France.

Many of the participants from last year returned again this time 
to meet up with friends old and new.

“Seven Swords: The Virgin Mary in the Poetry of G.K. Chesterton”, 
a talk presented by Father Mark Lawler

Fr Leo Daley gave a fascinating talk on "The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne" , painted between 1605 and 8 April 1606, when a final payment to Caravaggio was recorded, for the Confraternity of Sant' Anna dei Palafrenieri, or Grooms, of the Vatican Palace. The composition depicts Christ and the Virgin treading simultaneously on the serpent of heresy, watched by the Virgin's mother, St. Anne, who was the patron saint of the Palafrenieri.

 “A liturgy for laymen: A study of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary”,
a talk presented by Mr Anthony Dickinson. During the week we sang the Little Office in the Father Baudouin memorial chapel (one of three chapels on the site) built over the place of the Venerable Fr Baudouin's house.

The chapel dedicated to the memory of the Venerable Louis Marie Baudouin,
founder of the college, originally as a seminary in 1802.

Fr Leo Daley presides as we chant the Little Office of Our Lady.

The Gothic pediment over the door of the chapel depicts Ven. Fr Baudouin teaching the boys of the seminary.

 We were provided with some excellent meals in the French style 
in the splendid Refectory.

 On another evening, dinner was a barbecue in the gardens, where some of the college boys helping out got into the spirit of things. By the by, congratulations to this young Spanish student, who has just attained a A* in his English O Level. 

A very sociable Conference!

 Included in the Conference were some visits to local attractions with a Catholic association.
Here on a visit to Le Château de la Chabotterie, (castle and museum dedicated to the Vendée counter-revolution).

We also visited Mont des Alouettes. A hill on which once stood eight windmills but where just two now remain. These were used during the Vendée wars to signal enemy movements. There is a chapel on the site as well, commemorating those who fell defending the Vendée for King and Faith. I want to say a "small chapel" for such it is and yet it is also rather grandiose, especially the entrance portal.

A charming rendition of the site by Vendéan artist,Raphael Toussaint.

We celebrated a Requiem Mass there -  Missa Cantata, 
which drew in some surprised passing visitors.

A few of the Conference goers.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Masses for the Assumption
St Catherine's

9.30am - said Mass in English

7.30pm - Missa Cantata (EF)

Friday, 11 August 2017

No smoking, please. We're English (Heritage)

Fr Michael Brown tells us that the last annual Mass will take place at Brinkburn Priory in Northumberland next month on Saturday 9th September at 12 noon. There has been an annual Mass there for 25 years but in their wisdom English Heritage have apparently decided that candles and incense - IN A MONASTERY - are some sort of health and safety risk. What an odd decision! Set aside the fact that Mass has been celebrated there for the last 25 years without burning the place down (let alone that the selfsame Mass was celebrated there for about 400 years before the Protestant revolt) it is precisely what the place was built for! In many heritage properties great lengths are gone to in order to re-create the atmosphere of how the building was originally used to enlighten the minds of the hordes of  eager tourists. One might have thought that the celebration of High Mass in a setting created for it would have been a great boon to English Heritage and something they might have encouraged to bring alive the whole meaning of the building.

What a short-sighted decision. 

I know of at least one church in my own diocese where smoke detectors have been installed in the church, so incense is definitely out there. Of course, it's a well-known phenomena (and one that I've experienced myself) that even the sight of an unlit thurible brings on coughing fits throughout the church. 

Perhaps the offering of incense to the majesty of the Triune God will soon be legislated for in Parliament and become illegal in all public places and those who want to make use of it will have to gather in makeshift shelters by the bins outside church to engage in their filthy habit.

Though, to my mind, that would still be better than the new electronic thuribles now on sale. About as convincing as those cardboard policeman you see outside some supermarkets.

I mean, really, anything fake is just never going to convince anyone, is it?

Monday, 7 August 2017

High Mass for Our Lady of Ransom

Anyone who can get to Lancashire on Saturday in a couple of weeks time is very welcome to the High Mass here 
with members of the Order of St Lazarus.

Satruday 19th August.
11am Votive High Mass of Our Lady of Ransom
followed by the Investiture
and a Drinks Reception 

Mass and the Drinks are open to all but you are very welcome to buy a ticket for the lunch afterwards just next door at Farinton Lodge as well if you would like to.
Do think of coming along to support the great work of the Order. 
We have given £60,000 to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in recent years for his leprosy charity. 

Special Guests this year,
Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Col. Alan Jolley 
and Mrs Mary Jolley.

Saint Cajetan

In the old calendar today is the feast of St Cajetan. I have started using Dom Prosper Guaranger's "Liturgical Year". A wonderful set of books with most uplifting commentaries for the saints and feasts of the year. St Cajetan's "Life" tells us that: 
"He was a great promoter of assiduity at the divine worship,
of the beauty of the House of God,
of exactness in holy ceremonies..."
An example to us all, secular or Religious in these days when such desires seem so unfashionable in so many church circles.

The commentary notes that, "the science of Sacred Rites owes much to his sons". Not least to the Cardinal, St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, whose splendid memorial can still be seen in the church of St Andrea Della Valle in Rome. (Who sadly dies after the rigours of a long papal liturgy on a freezing Christmas eve brought on pneumonia!)

St Tomasi's shrine.

St Cajetan, pray for us.
St Giuseppe Maria Tomasi, pray for us.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Marian Conference at Chavagnes College. Last few places.

If anyone is free at short notice, I understand there are still just a few places left at this conference.

The Chavagnes Studium (sitting alongside Chavagnes International College) offers a Catholic Liberal Arts BA, set in the historic Vendée region of France in the stunning setting of the college
 - originally the junior seminary of the diocese dating from 1802.

The Conference runs from the evening of 

Monday 31st July 

to the morning of 

5th August 2017.

Accommodation can be arranged at various levels 
in the college itself or at the nearby Chateau or hotel.

Meals included and a visit to a local shrine with luncheon out on one of the days.

Nearest airport is Nantes,
transport can be arranged for you.
Certainly last year was very enjoyable, with excellent speakers and the opportunity to relax informally with an aperitif on the cloister terrace and chat over a good dinner with the other guests and the speakers.

You can book online here:

The College Chapel in its seminary days.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Parish Anniversary

Our parish of St Catherine Labouré was established seventy years ago, so we have been celebrating with various events, including a "Last Night of the Proms" on Midsummer's Day, which was great fun. Also with a Mass, of which a few pictures here.

In light of Cardinal Sarah's remarks on the mutual enrichment of ancient and newer forms of the Roman Rite recent and his other liturgical clarion calls, it seems that we are on the right track, liturgically speaking. 

The Mass here was celebrated in the newer Form on this occasion, though as always here, ad orientem
I was assisted by two deacons (thanks you to two of my friends in the diocese). 
On this occasion we processed in to a hymn (Jesus my Lord, my God my all!) but incensed the altar to the sounds of the Introit in Latin (as each Sunday at the man Mass - along with the Offertory verse and the Communion). 
The Schola sang Mozart's Jubilate Deo after the Offertory verse.
The people joined in the Mortem tuam and the Pater noster, as well as hymns at Communion and recessional.
We were fortunate to be able to lift our hearts and minds in prayer to Mozart's Coronation Mass (Kyrie, Gloria and Sanctus). Though on a ordinary Sunday all join in singing either Mass XVIII or the Missa de Angelis, as a norm. Mozart's Agnus is a tad lengthy, so we had Casali's Missa Brevis in G for that.

I might add that the mutual enrichment goes both ways, we do, for example, proclaim the Reading and Gospel in English at Low Mass in the EF and manage to find a place for a hymn or two at Sung Mass. Of course, if the newer form is celebrated in a spirit of continuity with the past, it feels much less jarringly different, whichever form is being celebrated.

The church was turned around 360 degrees some 25 years ago, which led to the remains of the High altar being used as a backdrop to the celebrant's chair in a rather gloomy recess that was the former entrance porch. You can now see the reredos re-instated at the high altar, giving a little bit of a sense of height to our slightly squat church. At the opening of the parish, this was intended as a temporary church and to become a hall when funds were raised to build a "proper" church. The funds never materialised!

The opening ceremony with Archbishop Robert Downey.

The original sanctuary 
(now the parish Hall, the Pope John Paul  Room)

At the end of Mass, I was delighted to be able to present our music maestro, Anthony Dickinson, with the Papal award, the Benemerenti medal. Not just for his excellent work in music and many other things here in the parish but for service to the wider Church over many years. The whole parish knew it was coming, except him, so thanks to everyone for keeping the secret.

After Mass 
we had some further celebrations 
and one of our most senior parishioners(still a reader in her 90's) 
and one of our youngest 
assisted me in cutting the cake.

Friday, 14 July 2017

More Tradition!

Many of you will have read the news that Bishop Campbell in Lancaster Diocese is asking the Institute of Christ the King to take over the care and administration of  another historic church in Preston: St Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs. 

Two things struck me. That the Bishop sees the Institute priests as having the ability to breathe new life back into areas of the diocese where it has been in decline. Indeed, he speaks of the Institute as "evangelizing through use of the extraordinary form". That they have “shown tremendous energy in conveying a sense of the sacred through their proven ministry at St Walburge’s and around the world." Inspired by their patron, St Francis de Sales, the Institute strives to form its people in holiness according to their motto of “teaching the truth with charity”.

I know for a fact that the priests in Preston work extraordinarily hard and their dedication is to be admired. As with other communities led by priests who still see a future for the Church and believe it has something to offer, they set about their work presuming it will be successful and believing that it can grow. If they do the work, the Holy Spirit will bring the fruits. Too often, we seem to have succumbed to the spirit of the age, believing that the Church can only decline and plan merely to manage "inevitable" decline. That can only become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

One of the ways the Traditional movements in the Church manage this is that they are now the ones offering something "new", something that offers a challenge to the secular culture all around us. They offer an alternative to the spirit of the age and that holds an attraction where people have become disenchanted with the banal - be it in politics or religion. Beauty ever ancient ever new.

The altar dedicated to the English Martyrs.

The second thing that struck me is that the church is to be a centre for devotion to the English Martyrs. We have been slightly embarrassed, I think, by the English and Welsh Martyrs of the Reformation period. By the time they were canonised in 1970, the mood of the Church had changed and they seemed a little out of place at just the time when it appeared that reconciliation with the groups and denominations outside the Church was a hopeful goal. Nevertheless, the example and sacrifice of ordinary men and women in the face of persecution of the Faith seems actually a great draw in these days when the Faith is persecuted anew by the powers that be.

I understand that there will be regular weekly devotions to the Martyrs, alongside a full programme of Mass and Confessions etc, once the handover of the building takes place in the autumn. The Canons will be glad of extra help coming in the form of a Deacon from the Institute to lend a hand.

Bishop Michael Campbell 
with priests of the Institute of Christ the King.

The sanctuary 
in St Thomas of Canterbury & the English Martyrs, Preston:
 a) pre-1887; 
b) after rebuild and refurnishing by Pugin & Pugin, 1887-88.
This was not a re-ordering for the sake of it
(sometimes seen today!)
but part of enlarging the church for a growing congregation at the time.