Saturday 19 December 2015


St Joseph`s Christmas Eve 5pm vigil Mass, Christmas Day 10.30am.

St Wilfrid`s Christmas Eve 6.30pm, 9pm Shepherds` Mass (Polish), Midnight (Latin). Christmas Day: Polish Mass. 

Carol singing half an hour before Christmas Eve Masses

Wednesday 16 December 2015

The future is not where the older generation seems to think it is

Even the Tablet has noticed! An interesting article this week by Carmody Grey. Find it here. Some excerpts.

It’s only a matter of time,” they say: my parents’ generation, the generation of Catholics that lived through the Second Vatican Council and put their hopes in it. Only a matter of time till the Church realises what it must do to have a future. It must be avant-garde, open, progressive; it must grasp that seismic changes have taken place in the moral, spiritual and technological expectations of young people; it must adapt to contemporary customs and mores. If the Church does not respond to these expectations, it will become marginalised and irrelevant. 

Young Catholics who are actually practising their faith seek a countercultural identity: a sense of self and a community which sets them apart from their peers, which makes them feel, as every new generation wants to feel, that they are special. Just as the Sixties generation did in its turn, they are “rebelling”, but what they are rebelling against is the moral and spiritual drabness and homogeneity of contemporary youth culture. The Catholics whose faith journeys I have shared, whom I live and work with, want a religious identity that is proudly at cross-purposes with what surrounds them; that is unashamedly traditional, in contrast to the prevailing obsession with the novel and the transient. They want markers of this counterculture to be apparent at the deepest level of their behaviour and identity. Catholic sexual and gender ethics is one of the ways many of them stand in strongest relief against their social background. Older Catholics would be surprised by how many of them admire the “theology of the body”, resist gay marriage, embrace gender roles and look forward to practising natural family planning. They celebrate discipline and expect high standards of religious observance. They know and rejoice in their differences from Protestants, and, in particular, from Anglicans. Their heroes are John Paul II and Benedict XVI. 

Carmody Grey is a doctoral student in theology at the University of Bristol.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Entirely Fitting

Bishop Alexander Sample on "ad orientem" Worship

Also this from Cardinal Sarah,  the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship  in the June 12 edition of L’Osservatore Romano

Contrary to what has sometimes been maintained, it is in full conformity with the conciliar Constitution—indeed, it is entirely fitting—for everyone, priest and congregation, to turn together to the East during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations, and the Eucharistic prayer, in order to express the desire to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ. This practice could well be established in cathedrals, where liturgical life must be exemplary (cf. §41). Of course it is understood that there are other parts of the Mass in which the priest, acting in persona Christi Capitis, enters into nuptial dialogue with the assembly. But this face-to-face has no other purpose than to lead to a tete-à-tete with God, which, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, will become a heart-to-heart. The Council thus proposes additional means to favor participation: “acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons and songs, as well as…actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes” (§30).

Thursday 19 November 2015

Rome-bound again!

Off to Rome next week for the five-yearly visit of the Judicial Vicars of England and Wales to the Roman Curia. On Monday I was in London for a meeting to hear from Fr Frank Morrissey how Mitis Judex is meant to work. I thought I had it worked out in my head but now I find I have more questions so I hope to sort them out next week. It was interesting to hear that the introduction of the shortened process for marriage nullity cases is reviving the provisions of Clement V`s decree Saepe of 1308 which were changed by the 1917 code. Makes me feel better about it all! It is also the biggest change to the whole process since 1741.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Back again.

Populus Summorum Pontificum approaches the Vatican. Photo by Joseph Shaw
I spent three nights in Rome at the Domus Australia. I got back two weeks ago. I was going anyway but the LMS asked for chaplains for their pilgrimage and I said I`d help if I could be of assistance and so became, according even to The Universe, the pilgrimage chaplain. However the pilgrimage was a bit of a flop. Only three signed up of which only one, Alan, was staying in the Domus, so my duties were very light. Alan is good company and a veteran of pilgrimages of various kinds on which our paths have crossed over the years.

Flying from Newcastle at 7.15am and happening upon a local Lefebvrist at the airport who was going to the pilgrimage too, I arrived at about midday in Rome.  The first event was Pontifical Vespers at the FSSP church of Santissima Trinita. My information sheet said it started at 6 so I got there at 5.30 to get a good seat but found on arrival it was not to start until 7 so I prayed and listened to the choir rehearsing. Vespers ( with Benediction) lasted an hour and forty minutes after which I rushed to get the bus back to the Domus so as to arrive before they stopped serving dinner. I had watched Vespers very carefully as I had agreed to take part in Vespers at the Domus on Saturday night. I was told there would be solemn vespers and so read my Fortescue and photocopied the relevant pages so i could go over it again. On arrival I found it was billed as Pontifical Vespers with Cardinals Pell and Brandsmuller. Hence my close attention. It must be about 15 years since we had solemn vespers in the EF on Tyneside so I`m a bit rusty. I have never studied the ceremonies for Pontifical Vespers as the likelihood of that happening in Hexham and Newcastle is just so remote as to be not worth the effort.

Fr Withoos celebrates Mass at the Domus Photo by Joseph Shaw
It was a joy to be able to celebrate the EF at the Domus with such ease. Fr Withoos, who is a resident, has an altar in the chapel equipped. It was good to see Fr Withoos again after a few years. As I have explained elsewhere, Fr Withoos, ( recently employed by the Ecclesia Dei commission and now a secretary to Cardinal Pell) studied at Durham university for a number of years pursuing a doctorate and so got to know us in H & N. I was looking forward to catching up with him and we arranged to have dinner on the Friday night. This meant a clash with archbishop Pozzo`s Pontifical mass starting at 7pm as I reckoned Mass would take about two hours and I didn`t want to have to rush back to the Domus for dinner again. Anyway the big event was on the next day at St Peter`s so I decided to forgo the archbishop Pozzo Mass. I was also coming to the conclusion after the previous evening that I can probably manage only about one Pontifical event a month!

So what to do on Friday day-time? There was nothing I particularly wanted to see in Rome so I decided to take the bus to the Chiesa Nova and visit the shrine of St Philip Neri as I`d read a biography of him this year.  I spent a long time there and partly attended a Mass in the chapel where he is buried where a young and linguistically versatile priest celebrated Mass for four people, two Italians and two Columbians. He gave a homily in Italian and the a summary in Spanish. all very impressive. I decided to wander down the Via Giulia after this wishing I had brought a detailed guide book but ended up in the Campo di Fiori for a vegetable sandwich and small beer before heading back to the Domus where I later said Mass and sat reading on the roof garden until it all got rather noisy.

Saturday brought the main event. A group of us got a taxi to San Lorenzo in Damaso for Exposition and then the wonderful procession to St Peter`s. The Mass was all very good but having been last year when we had a message of support from Pope Benedict read out and the Mass was at the altar of the chair for the first time it wasn`t quite as exciting. The homily appeared to be a kind of homily for any occasion. Afterwards in the sacristy I met Fr Southwell who is now undertaking a doctorate. It was as always good to see him and he briefly introduced me to Fr Zuhlsdorf who had had a walk-on part in the Mass as one of the chaplains who look after pontifical ablutions. After Mass I had no plans but fortunately Alan found me, his chaplain, and we went for a pizza.

In the evening there was the vespers I was to take part in. I`d thought it odd that there had been no mention of a rehearsal so I went down to the chapel half an hour before it was due to start. There was no-one there nor anyone in the sacristy. Vespers when it started was rather low key. Cardinal Pell sat in choir dress and Fr Crean did the necessary. Afterwards a meal with the Una Voce Council gathering who had just elected their new president. Cardinals Pell and Brandmuller stayed and Cardinal Pell spoke at the end to tell us that the Synod had gone well and not to worry.
Dinner with Una Voce and Cardinals Pell and Brandmuller. Photo by Joseph Shaw

As direct flights to Newcastle from Rome leave on Sundays I left the next day. Enjoyable but I don`t think I`ll go next year. On the other hand a LMS pilgrimage to Rome which had a planned programme would be a good thing and I hope would be popular.

For the rest of the photos by Joseph Shaw click here.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Rome-bound again

I found last year`s pilgrimage organised by the Populus Summorum Pontificum so encouraging I vowed to return this year. So I`ll be there at the weekend and will be chaplain to the LMS contingent. It`s such a change to be part of something positive, vibrant and growing.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Mitis Judex

As Judicial Vicar I`m trying to get to grips with the new procedures for decrees of nullity of  marriage. I thought we might have an avalanche of enquiries but this hasn`t happened. However as a short guide to what is involved I have found this from the diocese of Madison rather useful and offer it here for anyone interested. A novelty will be the personal involvement of the bishop in cases following the shorter procedure. I`m sure bihops will not be looking forward to another duty to addd to their routine but it looks like there is no escape as judicial power cannot be delegated unlike executive power. For more on this read Dr Peters here.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Brinkburn 2015: photos

All went well with the Brinkburn Mass. The Westland Singers provided beautiful music and even the weather was fabulous. We celebrated Solemn High Mass for the feast of St Januarius. I looked up Wikipedia beforehand and was interested to find this:

On March 21, 2015 Pope Francis during a visit to Naples Cathedral venerated the dried blood of Januarius, prayed the Lord's Prayer over it, and kissed it. The Archbishop of Naples Crescenzio Sepe then declared that "The blood has half liquefied, which shows that Saint Januarius loves our pope and Naples."[37]
Pope Francis than replied "The bishop just announced that the blood half liquefied. We can see the saint only half loves us. We must all spread the Word, so that he loves us more!"
It was reported that this is the first time that the blood has liquefied in the presence of the Pope since it did so for Pope Pius IX in 1848. Nothing similar occurred during the visits of St Pope John Paul II in 1979 or Pope Benedict XVI's visit in 2007.

Maybe St Januarius prefers liberal popes! (Pio nono started his papacy as what passed for a liberal in those days.)

Here are some photos. Thanks to everyone who made it happen, especially the team who helped me pack everything which was a novelty as I normally do it all myself.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Brinkburn 2015

Somewhat later than usual the annual Solemn High Mass at Brinkburn will be held on 19th September at 12 noon. It`s normallly on the second Saturday of September for reasons I can`t remember but this was unavailable this year because of it being used for a wedding. So I have pencilled in a booking for next September already.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Thinking it through

So it seems during the Year of Mercy I can invite the local SSPX clergy round (their church is ten minutes walk away) to help with confessions but can`t invite them to say Mass. And their weddings are still invalid.

Sunday 30 August 2015

News from Berwick

It`s a long time since I was ever in Berwick. But things are afoot there. I was surprised to learn recently that that they are performing Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) there on Friday, albeit in an 18 piece re-orchestration . I`d never thought of Berwick as a centre for opera but there we are. Other news from Berwick concerns the Extraordinary Form. In this week`s parish newsletter there is the following announcement:

“It is hoped to celebrate a Traditional Latin Mass on a Thursday morning during school term time, at 10 am, beginning this Thursday, September 3rd.  This can’t necessarily be guaranteed every week so please do check beforehand. ..sheets with readings, prayers etc. will be provided”

Delighted to hear it and I hope it goes well. Thursday at 10 am may not be a convenient time for those who work but parish weekday Masses are often at 10am these days so it`s good to see it incorporated into the parish schedule. It`s a while since there has been a new Mass location for the Extraordinary Form in H & N. Well done Fr Phillips and I hope it takes off.

Our Lady and St Cuthbert`s, Berwick

Thursday 30 July 2015

Trouble in Gosport?

So far three English churches have been given into the care of Ecclesia Dei institutes. I`ve not heard any reports of trouble. In June St Mary`s in Gosport was given to the care of exclaustrated  Franciscans of the Immaculate. The Tablet has an article under the title Traditionalist friars accused of taking Portsmouth parish back in time. It reads:
Parishioners at a church in Portsmouth Diocese say they have been driven out by an order of traditionalist Franciscans who have been put in charge.
The Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan handed over St Mary’s, Gosport, to the Franciscans of the Immaculate in June. Since then, parishioners say people are required to kneel to receive communion and women asked to cover their heads at Mass.
The order attracted controversy in 2013 when Pope Francis dissolved its General Council and forbade the friars to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form without permission. However the friars celebrate Mass in the old rite six days a week at St Mary’s.
Dr Amanda Field, a convert to Catholicism, says she has stopped attending the church after six years. “We used to have something really special here. The church was packed; people had to stand in the porch. But since the friars came we’ve been plunged back into the days before Vatican II,” said Dr Field.
Jean Watson, who has been serving the parish as a catechist and music-leader for 30 years, also described a “reversion” since the friars’ arrival. “I was a child in the parish before Vatican II and it wasn’t even like this then,” said Mrs Watson.
Bishop Egan announced this week that another traditionalist order, the Sisters of Maria Stella Matutina from Spain will reside at St Joseph’s church in Grayshott and assist with evangelisation.
The friars and the diocese declined to comment.

A few facts. I`ve been reliably informed that:

 1. The Mass count in Gosport had fallen by fifty percent in the last twenty years. It has risen significantly in the last two months;
2. It is not true that parishioners have been required to kneel or receive on the tongue, nor have women been told to cover their heads; 
3. Mass is celebrated each weekday in the EF very early in the morning and the daily OF Mass takes place exactly as before;
4. The Sunday Masses in the OF remain.
5. The diocesan post bag is currently running ten to one in favour of the, to quote one of them, "beautiful, more reverent Masses".
6.  The Stella Matutina Sisters whom the article mentions are not "traditionalist" but very much novus ordo

Useful to know. 


There are two questions that are never far from my mind. One is why did the Roman empire become Christian and the second is what did they think they were doing at Vatican II? I`m always interested to talk to priests who lived through the late fifties onwards to ask them what they thought was going on and whether they are happy with the results given the state of the Church today. I don`t always understand the answers. So I`m looking forward to getting a copy of Abbot Cuthbert Johnson`s new book which is a compilation of the memories of Mgr McReavy, a peritus at the council. He was still at Ushaw during my time and his allocutios to the college`s Legion of Mary presidium were much appreciated. In case anyone doesn`t know Mgr McReavy was a noted canonist who had a page answering canonical queries in the Clergy Review in the 1950`s.

Here`s the blurb:

Fifty years after the Second Vatican Council, fascinating accounts of its progress have come to light in the diaries, letters, and journals of Monsignor Lawrence Leslie McReavy, held in the Archive of Ushaw College.

Sent as a 'peritus' or expert, McReavy found that this duty quickly became a joy as he witnessed the optimism and enthusiasm of the Pope and the Council Fathers gathered in Rome. Students, priests and staff at Ushaw College, Durham, were kept abreast of progress in regular letters which dealt not only with matters doctrinal and liturgical, but even culinary and sartorial, as the Council unfolded. The McReavy archive is a precious resource for anyone who wants to know the Council, presenting an eyewitness account just as eye-witnesses are becoming something of an endangered species. It is the Council, literally, as he saw it.

Dom Cuthbert Johnson's academic work along with his knowledge and experience of life in ecclesiastical Rome, make him uniquely-placed to unlock this important resource. He is to be congratulated for his service to the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and to the whole Church in his careful preparation of this book.
And the biographical notes:
Monsignor Lawrence Leslie McReavy influenced generations of priests trained at Ushaw College where he taught for forty-five years and was nicknamed 'Bomb'. In addition to his work for the Preparatory Commission of the Second Vatican Council and as a peritus, he was a highly-respected Canon Lawyer who worked on the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law. For his monumental service to the local and wider Church, he was, in 1989, appointed a Protonotary Apostolic. He died the following year aged eighty-seven.

Abbot Cuthbert Johnson OSB retired as abbot in 2008 after twelve years of abbatial service at Quarr Abbey in England. A Benedictine monk of the Solesmes Congregation, Abbot Cuthbert gained his doctorate in Sacred Liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Sant Anselmo, Rome, before being called from his monastic duties in 1983 to serve as an Official of the Congregation for Divine Worship before being elected abbot in August 1996 upon the sudden death of Dom Leo Avery. Abbot Cuthbert is a Consultor of the Congregation for Divine Worship and an Advisor to the Vox Clara Committee. He was elected President of the Henry Bradshaw Society in April 2007.  Saint Michael's Abbey Press, 2015. Sewn hardcover, 464 pp