The Sorrowful Mother Today

As a sequel to the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross the Church keeps the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, whose heart was pierced by the nails that pierced Christ’s hands and feet, and the lance that pierced the Lord’s side.

One of the most typical images for the feast today is that of the Pietà. The most famous representation is, of course, Michelangelo’s sculpture in St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Yet his is very far from the only one.

It struck me at Mass today how powerful an image it is for the Church in its current crisis of sexual and physical abuse by clergy and religious, and the negligence, or worse, of some in the hierarchy in dealing with such abuse. The scandal of deposed-Cardinal McCarrick truly merits the label scandal, as it has become for many a true stumbling block for a peacefully fruitfully life in the Church. Who really does believe that so many of McCarrick’s fellow bishops and cardinals knew nothing of Uncle Ted’s activities? I suspect only fools and the terminally idealistic. Continue reading “The Sorrowful Mother Today”

Death in question

The mild Sydney winter seems to help me get my rant on. Ranting via a tablet, however, leads to many a typo. Swings and roundabouts I guess…

The last 24 hours we’ve been hearing about the change to the text to the Catechism of the Catholic Church proposed by Rome to reflect the current papal attitude to the death penalty.

To be frank, this does not particularly worry me per se. Church moral teaching once encompassed slavery, now it definitively rejects it. Church teaching has encompassed capital punishment hitherto, but the recent magisterium has not looked positively on it. My approach to capital punishment is conflicted. For example I can see a case for capital punishment to ensure public protection from a violent, murderous offender whose guilt is incontrovertible. Likewise, genocide seems to merit the ultimate sanction. Again, guilt should be incontrovertible. Continue reading “Death in question”

Liturgy, Abuse and Humanae Vitae: Some Connections?

This year and next see some significant ecclesiastical half-centuries racked up. This year it is the encyclical Humanae Vitae‘s (HV) turn, and next year it is the turn of the Novus Ordo Missae (NOM)—the new Mass. There has been and will be much written on these milestone anniversaries, by many more qualified that this writer to comment. Rather than publish a parallel, and probably quite similar, commentary to theirs, it is intended here to offer a few contextual notes you might keep in mind as you read them. We need now to interrogate more searchingly and more insistently both what you read and hear, and our own current situation.

50-odd years on HV and NOM offer a study in both contrasts and congruities. What HV predicted of a contraceptive culture has been comprehensively fulfilled; the promised fruitfulness of liturgical reform has not. The sad accuracy of the one and the equally sad failure of the other share a common cause (among others): the turn to self as the standard of judgment and the focus of attention.

Continue reading “Liturgy, Abuse and Humanae Vitae: Some Connections?”

Collegiality, collusion, collectivity and clericalism

Back from the dead! It has been a busy time. I am about to fly to Australia (in a few hours actually) to sneak in some holiday before taking up a new role in the monastery, that of bursar. If the new job does not kill me I suppose it will make me stronger. But there has been so little time to read, let alone write.

The Cardinal McCarrick affair is growing louder in the media. Christopher Altieri raises a point that merits pushing further: the failure is not just McCarrick’s but that of the American bishops as a body. How could no other bishop not have known? And knowing, how could they have kept silence? The denials just do not ring true. For many they may be true but such is the deficit the Catholic hierarchy suffers at the moment that few will believe them. After all, in England we had a similar case, that of Bishop Conry and his long-standing relationship with a mistress. It was very well known in ecclesiastical circles, even from his days in Rome apparently. Yet he was promoted anyway. Did any bishop protest at the time? The Conry case has one essential difference: his sin was with a woman, so a collective sigh of relief that it was not a minor encouraged silence.

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Cardinal McCarrick

Continue reading “Collegiality, collusion, collectivity and clericalism”

Brainstorming by Social Media

What do you call brainstorming by the means of the social media? Is there a name or do we have to make one up? Suggestions are welcome.

Anyway, to the point, which is a rather uncomfortable piece of what you might think, not unreasonably, to be self-promotion. In fact, the fundamental point, my vanity notwithstanding, is to promote an idea.

4 September 2018 is the date on which Paulist Press of New York plans to officially publish my book, Deo volente. This is the draft cover of the book: Continue reading “Brainstorming by Social Media”

More that was not lost

It’s been a busy day so just one piece today in the series on Douai Abbey’s Ward vestments. Today it is the cope.

The cope was another significant piece of the set that was ready in 1896, though in that year the morse for it had not yet been made. It is essentially easy to describe: the orphreys on the front show the 12 apostles grouped in pairs. Continue reading “More that was not lost”

Not all was lost

In the 1890s our priory (Douai became an abbey only in 1900, along with the other ancient EBC houses) in Douai, Flanders, was blessed with a series of generous benefactions from Edmund Granville Ward (1853-1915), of the Isle of Wight, son of the Tractarian convert to Catholicism, W G Ward. Mr Ward had discovered Douai on his way to Rome in 1894, and in 1895 he gave £100 for the library. The next year he funded the building of a new cloister, which came to be named after him, as well as the development of  cricket oval and tennis courts at the monastery’s villa down the road in Planques. A little later he funded a new lavatory block (not named after him) and a guest wing. The great tragedy is that in under a decade the community would have to abandon its newly-embellished monastery and school in the wake of the French government’s 1901 Law of Associations, a law which saw a mass exodus of monastic houses to Britain, including Solesmes to Quarr and La Grande Chartreuse to Parkminster. Continue reading “Not all was lost”