Stand up, sit down, turn around, ‘The Mass is ended, go in peace’…

I read the this article in ‘Mass of Ages’ a while back and it certainly sums up how constricted I feel if I ever happen to find myself at the Novus Ordo Mass.

I’m not so interested in the hand missal angle here. I often use the propers and readings from the Mass of the day for my Letio Divina in the morning and continue this while they are read at Mass. The ordinary of the Mass however, I read almost daily at Mass for the first six months of attending the Traditional Rite and now I am able to unite my own prayers and devotions with the liturgical action.

While routine helps us to avoid restlessness and a tendency to flit from one thing to another, the demands made on the faithful in the new Mass restrict our freedom to enter into anything beyond the vocal prayer of the responses. Even if the Canon of the Mass were to be said silently, the second that the silence leads one into prayer, one’s neighbour is standing expecting a handshake. These are not abuses of the Novus Ordo but are inbuilt. One could rite a Screwtape letter along these lines: ‘My Dear Screwtape, prevent them from meditating on the sacrifice of the cross at all costs. Punctuate every sixty seconds with an imposed change of posture or a demanded response. ‘

Once used to the Traditional Mass, I would recommend using a  hand Missal for the propers and the readings but also praying the rosary in union with the Mass. A rather cheeky modernist Canon of my diocese once mocked the Traditional Mass saying ‘It is not good enough for people to just sit click through their beads at Mass, they have to be involved!’ Well, dear Canon, those who pray the Rosary at the Latin Mass are doing so because they are saturated in their participation.

Who could not pray the first sorrowful mystery during the Confiteor and not see the Alter Christus bowed down as if in agony in the garden or the fourth joyful mystery at the offertory and not see the host in the hands of the priest as the Christ-child in the hands of Simeon being offered to God. Is this not a greater participation in the Holy Sacrifice than moving around and shouting out?

“Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.” Pope Pius XII Mediator Dei, 1947

An Essay on the parable of the Good Samaritan

See below a short essay which I wrote on the parable of the Good Samaritan for a university course. Some of the points made are due to the constraints of the exercise. I don’t at all approve of the hideous logo that was used for the year of mercy.

The Good Samaritan Painting

In a climate of increasing secularism and religious pluralism, the necessity of Catholicism is unclear to many. The parable of the Good Samaritan is commonly used to illustrate the Golden rule which is held as common to most religions: that we should treat others as we want to be treated ourselves. While this ethical interpretation is valid and laudable, the Saints and Fathers of the Church remind us that to care only for the temporal needs of others is to expect them to ‘live by bread alone’ and that physical wellbeing is only part of the way to spiritual restoration. I will attempt to demonstrate that this redemption is only possible through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and this extended to all people in all ages by His Catholic Church.

St Augustine begins the allegorical and spiritual interpretation by revealing the significance of the journey that the man, representing all of mankind, was taking from “Jerusalem, the city of peace, that heavenly country” (Augustine, In Aquinas. online) to “Jericho [which] is interpreted to be the moon, and signifies our mortality, because it rises, increases, wanes, and sets.”(Augustine, In Aquinas. online) The Jerome Bible Commentary mentions the geographical descent from Jerusalem to Jericho, emphasising the idea that the man was descending from a state of grace to a state of sin. This is compounded by the attack of robbers who strip him. St Basil’s analysis compares the incident to the fall of our first parents in his comment “wounds precede nakedness, as sin precedes the absence of grace.” (Basil, In Aquinas. online) Saints Ambrose and Augustine agree that the striping of the man’s garments symbolises his being stripped of the garment of supernatural grace and freewill by ‘the Devil and his angels’ (Augustine, In Aquinas. Online).These surely are the deepest wounds, to be stripped of the dignity that is ours as created in the image of God, to be robbed of our immortality by sin: to be alive in body but in mortal sin is to be half dead.

Some interpret the passing of the Priest and the Levite as the general failure of religion to care for the man, furthering the argument that religion is not necessary for altruism. (Stuhlmueller, in Brown, Fitzmyer and Murphy, 1968:144) Ratzinger makes a comparison between the Jewish religion of the time and the effect of Christ’s redemptive work which brings true healing. “Priest and Levite pass by; from earthly history alone, from its cultures and religions alone, no healing comes.” (Ratzinger, 2007:200) Here we see the necessity of divine assistance if we are to recover from our wounded state. This is not to be found in secular philanthropy. Neither is it to be found in any other religion for even St John Chrysostom sees in those passers-by a representation of Moses and the Law (In Aquinas. online) and St Augustine fortifies this saying that both the sacrifices of the Old Covenant and the Law “could not heal, because by the Law came the knowledge not the doing away of sin.” (Augustine, In Aquinas. online)The central issue here is the necessity of the redemption that is only found in the sacrifice of Calvary, no other religion or lack thereof is salvific.

The identity of the Samaritan is key to understanding the parable. St Ambrose writes of “the Good Samaritan, who is the guardian of souls..” (Ambrose, On Repentance 1 Ch11 Online), which is supported by St Augustine who interprets ‘Samaritan’ as ‘Keeper’ in comparing the care of the Samaritan to God in Psalm 121 saying “Behold he shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keepeth Israel. The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy protection upon thy right hand.” (Psalm 120: 4-5 DR) St Ambrose, then, brings this together when he says “Now this Samaritan was also coming down. For who is he that ascended upon into heaven, but he who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven.” (Ambrose, In Aquinas. online) We see therefore that the Samaritan is Jesus Himself, the keeper of souls who descended from Heaven so as to lead us to the New Jerusalem.

Ratzinger comments on the compassion of the Samaritan by highlighting the original Hebrew word used which connotes maternal care (Ratzinger, 2007:197). This familial metaphor reinforces the description of the burning charity that is found in the very Heart of Jesus that is uncompromising and concerned for each wounded soul. Such is Jesus’ love for us that “…when He came He was made very near to us by His taking upon Himself our infirmities, He became a neighbour by bestowing compassion. Hence it follows, And when he saw him he was moved with compassion.” (Ambrose, In Aquinas. online) We see this in the logo for the current Year of Mercy in which Christ takes the weakness of each of us upon Himself. Here we gain great insight into the very person of Jesus Christ.

Once again the saints draw us into a deeper understanding of the depths of Christ’s love in their reflection on the nature of the care that the Samaritan gave to the poor man. Not only was this corporal mercy but spiritual mercy which flows from the grace found in the Sacraments of the Church. The Samaritan does not clean the man’s wounds with water but “..he poured in wine, that is, the blood of His passion, and oil, that is, the anointing of the chrism, that pardon might be granted by His blood, sanctification be conferred by the chrism. The wounded parts are bound up by the heavenly Physician, and containing a salve within themselves, are by the working of the remedy restored to their former soundness.” (Chrysostom, In Aquinas. online)

Ratzinger harmonises with this when he too refers to the “healing gift of the sacraments.”(Ratzinger, 2007:201) Once baptised with water, it is with oil that we are anointed as adopted sons and daughters of our Heavenly King, it is with oil that we are strengthened and readied for spiritual battle in confirmation, it is the Body and Blood of the Lamb which washes away our sin and it is with oil that we are anointed in the sacrament of the sick. The Church then, is necessary to our redemption because only she has the sacraments which are our remedy and source of sanctifying grace.

The Samaritan takes the wounded soul to the Inn, a place of healing where we are treated and cured and where, as St Augustine puts it, we as travellers in this world find a home until we reach our destination, the Kingdom of Heaven. (St Augustine Sermon 81 online) “For the Inn is the Church, …[where]the wearied traveller casting down the burden of his sins is relieved, and after being refreshed is restored with wholesome food. And this is what is here said, and took care of him. For without is everything that is conflicting, hurtful and evil, while within the Inn is contained all rest and health.” (Chrysostom, In Aquinas. online) This has been re-presented in our own time by Pope Francis who has collected these truths in his image of the church as a “field hospital”.

This issues us, as members of the body of Christ, with a challenge to be the hands with which God blesses the world. (St Teresa of Avila) If we are to fully live the spiritual and corporal acts of mercy, we must learn to practice a Caritas which imitates that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The totality of this love exceeds temporal need. This love speaks the truth that sets us free, it is impartial, generous and seeks, above all, the salvation of souls. It seems to me that we cannot divorce the message of this parable form the great commission that is to be Apostles who bring Christ to all nations. “Blessed then is that inn-keeper who is able to cure the wounds of another; blessed is he to whom Jesus says, Whatsoever you have spent more, when I come again I will repay you.” (Ambrose, In Aquinas. Online) We face the challenge which Jesus gave to the questioning lawyer, ‘Go and do likewise.’

 

Lent and the temptation of Our Lord in the desert

 

 

christ-in-the-wilderness-ivan-kramskoy-smThe Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent in the Traditional Latin Mass brings our attention to the 40 days which Our Lord spent fasting in the desert. Here I offer a few reflections from my prayer on this passage in addition to the common understanding that each temptation touches on the main areas that we all struggle with.

Driven by the Spirit

At His Baptism, we see the Holy Trinity gloriously revealed. The Father declares “Behold my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” while the Holy Ghost descends in the form of a dove. Archbishop Fulton Sheen points out that this is the only time when the Holy Ghost appears as a dove and that the dove was the offering of the poor for a temple sacrifice. This coupled with the “Ecce Agnus Dei” (“Behold the Lamb of God”) marks Jesus out as the sacrifice of the new covenant.

Jesus is then ‘driven by the Spirit.’ The use of ‘driven’ here implies an urgency, that baptism and the consolation of communion with the Blessed Trinity was the preparation for an urgent action.

Lord, that I would be as attentive to the prompting of the Holy Ghost. By your Grace conferred on my soul in the sacraments, may I live a life of patient waiting on you so that I may be driven by your will.

In God’s Time

The first temptation – “If you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread.” Our Lord responds saying that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

It is interesting that the first temptation is to do something that Jesus would eventually go on to do when He fed the 5,000. He will also give His flesh- the living bred for the life of the world. Jesus only did these things after the people sat at his feet and heard the word of God.

Lord that I would learn to submit my own needs and desires to your Holy Will. Even good things, without prudence and temperance can cause harm. Grant me an inward disposition by which I may discern your will and make it my own. 

The Devil tempted Jesus the throw himself from a tall building testing God’s promise of protection from the angels. Again, Jesus does not do this but as soon as Satan is gone, the angels came to minister to Him. Again we see that which Jesus resisted does come to pass but in God’s time and on God’s terms. This puts me in mid of the suffering of our Lord in the Garden when an angel is sent to comfort Him.

Lord that I would remember that you ask nothing of me which you do not exceed in grace. Lord increase my Faith, Hope and Charity that I may face all adversity for your sake and with your assistance. 

 

 

 

Choral Evensong and Religious Indifferentism

 

popewelbyblessing

Last night, a service of Choral Evensong was held in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the very heart of the Catholic Church. See story here.

With my Anglican Convert (and former Organist and Director of Music) hat on, I considered that this would be a wonderful opportunity for the new Anglican Ordinariate to offer evening prayer in their authorised use of the office. This would be a prime opportunity to celebrate genuine diversity within Holy Mother Church and wouldn’t it have been wonderful to hear St Peter’s ring with Herbert Howell’s Collegium Regale setting of the Magnificat  in the context of a truly Catholic service!

This, however, was not the case. Rather than celebrating true ecumenism-which is the conversion of those outside of the One True Church and their grafting onto the body of Christ- last night was a pageant of false ecumenism. The Holy Father, four years on the throne (well rarely on the throne in a literal sense) this week,  has made it his goal to ‘reach out to the peripheries’ but it seems that his open arms sacrifice the true faith as revealed by God on the altar of ‘togetherness.’ At the last, this is as good as this false ecumenism gets- togetherness- because those who are separated from the Church remain so even if the Pope holds their hands over the wall that they themselves have built.

Until the Second Vatican Council, it was a sin to pray with anyone who did not hold the fullness of the Catholic Faith and was not in union with the Visible Church which was founded by Christ on the Petrine Rock. These days, Peter- who’s confession was ” Thou art the Christ”- joins in prayer with the Lutherans at Lund in celebration of the man who tore half of Europe from the bosom of Holy Mother Church, in the Anglican congregation in Rome and on various other settings. But this time, this time the false worship was offered deep in the panting heart of Rome- treading on the grave of St Peter, parading past the tombs of Popes. What does Pope St Pius X think of this as the adherents of this false notion of God parade past his altar dressed as Bishops? And what of St Peter and the Martyrs who were murdered for refusing to compromise on the truth- their relics trod upon by those who pick and choose, distort scripture, divorce, fornicate, contracept and abort, those whose founders and ancestors all but stamped out the True Church all for a king’s lust. This is a great sacrilege and a desecration of the house of God.

Others have written well on the doctrinal issues surrounding this and so I leave a couple of reflections of my own for your consideration.

  1. In his prophetic novel, ironically recommended by the Holy Father, ‘Lord of the World’ Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson writes of a time when the charming politician who has been elected as President of the World claims the abandoned Anglican church buildings of England for the New Religion. This pagan religion is enforced much like protestant Anglican worship was enforced by Henry VIII successors. The ‘liturgy’ for this worship of human ideals is inspired by that of Freemasonry and is enacted by ex-priests of the Catholic church who are headed up by a man who left his prominent position at the Vatican to do so; a certain Fr Francis. The equalisation of all religions into one super-religion is a prime objective for those seeking to establish the New World Order.
  2. I encouraged priests and friends of mine to offer Vespers in reparation for the desecration of the principal Papal Basilica. The chapter at the office could not have been more appropriate.

“Between the porch and the altar the priests the Lord’ s ministers shall weep, and shall say: Spare, O Lord, spare thy people: and give not thy inheritance to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.” Joel 2:17

The previous verses talk about the heathen climbing in through the windows as thieves to steal the inheritance of the people of God- the windows, no doubt, that were left open by Pope John XXIII!

 

V. Let us pray for Francis, the Pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
R. And upon your son whom you have anointed.

Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.