Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Thought I'd import my liturgical list of English Saints to this blog...

...and you can find it here. The list has been created with the assistance of a recent Roman martyrology, but is not a comprenhensive list of English Saints, containing only those great figures who have found their way into the liturgy of the Roman Church. The page should also appear linked on the blog side-bar with all the other pages.


Daily Masses - Saint Philip Neri (yesterday) and Saint Augustine of England (today)

Yesterday's Mass was offered for the repose of the soul of Canon J. W. Browne (+), may he be forever blessed. Today, Mass was offered for the intentions of coronavirus sufferers. What an ordeal it must be to endure the treatment for that in serious cases. Let us continue to pray for the victims of the illness, and in particular those who are dying from it.

As an act of charity, would you please also pray for S. R., who is presently in hospital.

The last two days have been a liturgical high for the Church in England. Yesterday was the feast day of Saint Philip Neri, the saintly Florentine priest from the sixteenth century, who spent the greater part of his life and ministry in the holy City of Rome, leaving no writing behind but exercising a charismatic hold on the people of the City that has lasted four hundred years and more. They still call him the third Apostle of Rome, the first two being naturally Saint Peter and Saint Paul. His history begins in England in the nineteenth century with the popular English convert, Saint John Henry Newman. JHN was an academic and a minister of the Church of England who was convinced that he could find a middle way between the Catholicism that was so disliked and distrusted in England, and extreme protestantism. In the course of his study of Church history, he discovered that the concept of such a middle way (via media) had been condemned in the past as a heresy by Church Fathers and the Popes. He became one of the most famous Anglican converts to Catholicism and later sought ordination as a Catholic priest. Seeking to lead a common life with other clergy, he introduced the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri into England, with the first house in Birmingham. Many of our large cities now have colleges of Philippian priests: in addition to Birmingham and London, the oldest houses, there are Oxford and (recently) Manchester and York. More about the the English Oratories here.

Today has been the feast day of the Apostle of England, Saint Augustine, the humble monk chosen by the Holy Father (Gregory I) to bring England into stronger relation with Rome. This last summer, finding those two weeks free, I had conducted a tour of England. Intending to find friends in the East country, I drove down to Ramsgate. I had wished very much to see the shrine of S. Augustine that stands there. I had actually thought Augustine had landed at Ramsgate, but the cross that marks the point of landing is a little further west on Pegwell Bay.


I like the histories of those early days when the diocesan structures of England were in their infancy. I am, in fact, reading one of them at the moment: Saint Bede's ecclesiastical history. Augustine was not alone, he had companions, but it must have been a difficult mission, even with the assistance of the Kentish king Ethelbert. Having ended my stay at Ramsgate, I passed through Pegwell to locate the cross that was erected about a hundred years ago at the presumed landing spot, and then headed off to London, through Canterbury. At Canterbury, the cathedral was being restored, and there was scaffolding over much of the West end of the building, but it was pleasant to walk through the old church and the cloisters a few times. Afterwards, I stopped at the original monastery, which is about a quarter of a mile away from the cathedral and was where Augustine lived and died (early seventh century). I do believe he was entombed there and I don't think his relics were ever moved to the present cathedral building. Augustine was the first archbishop of the See of Canterbury, the southern See. May he pray always for the Church in these lands, his great Project.


Meanwhile, the countdown to Pentecost continues. Today is the sixth day of the novena to the Holy Spirit.
NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: DAY 6

"If Thou take Thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill."

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds, that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in Thy Light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of Thee and the Father and the Son. Amen.

One Our Father and one Hail Mary,
Seven times the Glory be.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Amen. 

Monday, 25 May 2020

Daily Mass - feast day of the monk Saint Bede, called the Venerable

Mass was offered today for the repose of the soul of the Reverend J. M. P. McCarthy. 

I have very little to say about Saint Bede. I have a vague idea that he lived in the eighth century and was a monk at Wearmouth and Jarrow, was a prolific philosopher, theologian and natural scientist, never travelled too far from his beloved monastery. I know he wrote an ecclesiastical history of the English people. Some months ago, having two weeks off, I went on an excursion around the country. One of my stops was my first ever to the north country and I rode into Newcastle on the trains. Pulling into Newcastle, I was surprised to see a gigantic church building appear to the right of the tracks. I was passing Durham and I determined to stop there: it was my first visit to the great cathedral, which holds the remains of both Saint Cuthbert and Saint Bede, the latter's tomb being outside the great west door of the church and to one side. I didn't know when I would be able to visit again, so I ran up the tower to the top for a view of the country around, then came down and said my rosary walking around the cloister, as (no doubt) monks had done in the long distant past. 

Coming away from Durham, I stopped at the local Waterstones and got a copy of Bede's ecclesiastical history. It's sitting on the table beside me and I'm still feeling my way through it. Because of it, some people call Bede the father of English history. It should be an interesting read. May the good monk pray for us.

photo credit: Matt Knott Durham. via photopin (license)

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Daily Mass - the seventh Sunday of Easter



Mass was offered this morning for the deceased members of the Coleman family, may they be eternally blessed in the Risen Christ. And it's the memorial day of our Lady under the title Mary, Help of Christians, a devotion promoted especially by the famous Turinese priest Saint John Bosco (in the picture above). Here's an information page on the basilica with that dedication built by Saint John, containing among other things his tomb and the tomb of his protegé, Saint Dominic Savio. 

In our first reading at Mass today, Saint Luke carefully counts up the eleven remaining Apostles, returned after the Ascension to the upper room where the Last Supper took place: 
"Coming in, they went up into the upper room where they dwelt, Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James. All these, with one mind, gave themselves up to prayer, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, and the rest of the women and His brethren." - Acts of the Apostles, chapter 1
It was very important to maintain the count because of the two vital things that were about to happen. First, Judas the traitor was to be replaced, to make up the number of the Twelve. Twelve was and is essential to the self-understanding of the Church, for the Church was intended to reassemble symbolically the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. The Twelve would form the very pillars of the Church, as given by the book of the Apocalypse of Saint John (the 'holy city of Jerusalem' is here the Church):
"And he carried me off in a trance to a great mountain, high up, and there shewed me the holy city Jerusalem, as it came down, sent by God, from heaven, clothed in God’s glory. The light that shone over it was bright as any precious stone, as the jasper when it is most like crystal; and a great wall was raised high all round it, with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and the names of the twelve tribes of Israel carved on the lintels; three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south, three on the west. The city wall, too, had twelve foundation-stones; and these, too, bore names, those of the Lamb’s twelve Apostles." - the Apocalypse of S. John, 21: 10-14
The final member of the twelve by the Apostles, Saint Matthias, was carefully chosen in council, as the rest of the first chapter of Acts tells us. The second thing that would follow the count, once the number of the Apostles was made up is what we will celebrate next Sunday: the eruption onto the people in that Upper Room of the Holy Spirit, and the explosion (if not the birth) of the Christian Church. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Strengthener, would help the newly-created community to suffer through its first years, which would feature severe persecution. 

In the midst of the present affliction, with sickness and disease, economic uncertainty, etc., we are being called to suffer in a way that we haven't before. In the midst of this, we are called to belong joyfully to Christ by the gospel reading today, to trust in His goodness and mercy because we belong to him: 
"'I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours...'" - Gospel of S. John, chapter 17
Meanwhile, the novena continues...

NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: DAY 3

"Thou of all Consolers best,
Visiting the troubled breast,
 Dost refreshing peace bestow."

Come, O Blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart. Enkindle therein such a love for God, that I may find satisfaction only in His service, and for His sake lovingly submit to all legitimate authority. Amen.

One Our Father and one Hail Mary,
Seven times the Glory be.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Amen. 

O Mary, Help of Christians, pray for thy children

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Daily Mass - Saturday of the sixth week of Easter

I thought that I would mark today as a Lady day, it being Saturday and a ferial day. I'll take any excuse to honour the holy Mother. Mass was offered this morning for the people of the Parish, and the Rosary said for all the penitents I have heard in my years of priesthood. Once all this virus business is finished, we need to bring back Confession in a big way. I would like to recommend that all of you, at home for months without the Sacraments, to prepare carefully with all the examinations of conscience that you can find to make your confessions when the opportunity arrives. I shall do the same. This must be a time for new beginnings, if the whole ordeal has taught us anything.

Back to our Blessed Lady. What we need is a picture and a hymn. Here's a picture. The hymn is below it. And I shall end with today's entry for the novena to the Holy Spirit.



NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: DAY 2

"Come, Thou Father of the poor!
Come, with treasures which endure!
Come, Thou light of all that live!"

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set Thee, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend Thee, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of Thy Divine Majesty in Heaven, where Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the ever Blessed Trinity, God, world without end. Amen.

One Our Father and one Hail Mary,
Seven times the Glory be.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Amen. 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Daily Mass - Friday after the Ascension (aka. Friday of the sixth week of Easter)

Mass was offered this morning for the repose of the souls of our deceased Parishioners. May they and may the souls of all the Faithful departed rest in peace. I once saw at the back of a church a large and covered notice-board that had pinned on it many orders of service and memorial cards. I think that's a wonderful idea, and something we could perhaps try to erect here. Similarly, we could compile a book of remembrance, so that our deceased Parishioners may be always remembered by name at the church.

The Mass readings continue today with the theme of the week: the gospel tells of the benefits of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the first reading tells of the history of the early Church acting under the effect of the Holy Spirit. The next few weeks is all about praying as hard as we can for the continued gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I've heard say that the oldest novena (nine-day prayer) of all the ones we have is that to the Holy Spirit, for Christ Himself told the Apostles to remain in prayer before he ascended, nine days before the first Pentecost Sunday:
"He had shewn them by many proofs that He was still alive, after His Passion; throughout the course of forty days He had been appearing to them, and telling them about the kingdom of God; and now He gave them orders, as He shared a meal with them, not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the fulfilment of the Father’s promise. You have heard it, He said, from My own lips; 'John’s baptism,' I told you, 'was with water, but there is a baptism with the Holy Spirit which you are to receive, not many days from this'... Then, from the mountain which is called Olivet, they went back to Jerusalem; the distance from Jerusalem is not great, a sabbath day’s journey. Coming in, they went up into the upper room where they dwelt, Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James. All these, with one mind, gave themselves up to prayer, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, and the rest of the women and his brethren." - Acts of the Apostles, 1: 3-5, 12-14
I have omitted the Ascension narrative, but you'll find it easily in your Bibles, in the first chapter of Acts. Today is the first day (of nine) of the novena to the Holy Spirit. I shall add some of the prayers to the bottom of these posts. So, let's begin with:
NOVENA TO THE HOLY SPIRIT: DAY 1

"O Holy Spirit! Lord of light!
From Thy clear celestial height,
Thy pure and beaming radiance give!"

Almighty and eternal God, Who has vouchsafed to regenerate us by water and the Holy Spirit, and has given us forgiveness of all sins, vouchsafe to send forth from Heaven upon us Thy sevenfold Spirit, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Fortitude, the Spirit of Knowledge and Piety, and fill us with the Spirit of Holy Fear. Amen.

One Our Father and one Hail Mary,
Seven times the Glory be.

On my knees before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself soul and body to Thee, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Thy purity, the unerring keenness of Thy justice, and the might of Thy love. Thou art the Strength and Light of my soul. In Thee I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve Thee by unfaithfulness to grace, and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against Thee. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for Thy light and listen to Thy voice and follow Thy gracious inspirations. I cling to Thee and give myself to Thee and ask Thee by Thy compassion to watch over me in my weakness. Holding the pierced Feet of Jesus and looking at His Five Wounds and trusting in His Precious Blood and adoring His opened Side and stricken Heart, I implore Thee Adorable Spirit, helper of my infirmity, so to keep me in Thy grace that I may never sin against Thee. Give me grace O Holy Ghost, Spirit of the Father and the Son, to say to Thee always and everywhere, Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth. Amen.