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?”

Confronting the non-binary fallacy

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Above is a depressing little advisory from the current edition of The Week. It reads like something from a fantastically dystopian novel about the future from the 1950s or 60s. It is the sort of thing at which we would have cackled in derision on reading. Now it is reality; or rather, what passes for reality. Dystopian it most certainly is; self-destructive, indubitably.

The first reaction on reading of a man referring to himself as “they” was the memory of Mark 5:9. Yet it is disturbing on levels not quite so immediate to the mind.

Last week we celebrated the memorial of St Gertrude the Great, a Saxon nun of 13th-century of Helfta—a monastery which was a nursery of saints at the time. Thinking on things with a view to a homilette, what came to the fore was the nuptial mysticism of this great saint. Her intense devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whatever else it might be, should be seen as the logical development of her nuptial mysticism. Continue reading “Confronting the non-binary fallacy”

L’Affaire Weinstein: Two Questions

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has been a nauseating fixture in the news over the last week or two, inescapable and distasteful. Nauseating and distasteful in the details of the accusations against him, of sexual misbehaviour and abuse of power on an industrial scale. Yet equally nauseating has been the exponentially-increasing parade of Hollywood identities lining up to throw their stones at the man, rightly or wrongly, now in the stocks of public opinion. Continue reading “L’Affaire Weinstein: Two Questions”

Yesterday’s Junk?

Recently I borrowed a book from our library. If it had been read, it had not been read often. It dated from 1976, an edition under the imprint of Catholic Book Clubs.

A couple of bits of paper fell out as I opened it. Someone’s jottings? A letter or postcard? No; rather they were two flyers inserted by the Catholic Book Club—the sort of stuff that comes by forest-load in the weekend papers.

However, they fascinated me. What a marvellous little slice of social history they comprise. Continue reading “Yesterday’s Junk?”

English Catholic Publishers: An Unexpected Contrast

This little gem from Wilfrid Sheed’s Frankie and Maisie: A Memoir with Parents (1985) is worth sharing, at least for those who might remember these publishing houses, now absorbed into the publishing giant Continuum, and essentially defunct, though not definitively dead. The author is looking back to the 1940s:

Sheed and Ward was one of merely two Catholic [publishing] houses in England, and with its American branch, it was much more dashing than its rival, the semi-official Burns & Oates, which included hair shirts and knotted ropes for self-flagellation in its catalogs (sic)—a far cry from the jokes that filled ours.

Now I am left with a strong hankering to see the catalogues of both these firms from the 1940s. An online search, admittedly a fairly cursory one, yielded nothing useful for Sheed and Ward. The house had its own journal, Sheed and Ward’s Own Trumpet, which may be what Wilfrid is referring to. The price as marked on the cover was “Priceless”. Again, I can find nothing much except library references for it online, and mention of it in a journal article.

Does anybody have anything along these lines? Do let me know if you do, please.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Continuum to ask what archival holdings they have for Sheed and Ward. No answer yet, alas.

 

An Anniversary and a Discovery

Tomorrow, Good Friday, is the tenth anniversary of my priestly ordination, at least in terms of the civil calendar, ie 14 April. In liturgical terms I was ordained on Sabbato in albis, ie the Saturday within the Octave of Easter, which will be 22 April this year. Keeping this liturgical dating will allow for a more festive recollection and thanksgiving.

Yet, the Day of the Cross is not such a bad one to have even such a modest anniversary. Continue reading “An Anniversary and a Discovery”

Filial piety

So many matters are worthy of attention at present—Cardinal Sarah’s latest treatment of the Church’s liturgy, for example, or Martin Mosebach’s searching critique of the modern liturgy recently renewed; Dubiagate; the infamous demotion of the papal nuncio to Ireland.

But when one is in a strop (probably only Poms and Aussies will get the meaning of that word in this context) it is best to leave weighty matters aside lest one’s true feelings be too forcefully expressed.

So instead, let me recommend a book. It is not in print but easily obtainable at a reasonable price secondhand. I have not yet finished it but already I think it one of the best biographies I have read. Continue reading “Filial piety”