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Those who enjoyed the first two Father Brown series must be delighted that the third — with 15 instead of ten episodes — is now airing on BBC1.

Although it’s great to see it once again, one year on, I still have mixed thoughts.

The acting is superb and Mark Williams plays the lead brilliantly. The stories, by and large, are very good and still take place in 1953. G K Chesterton wrote his Father Brown stories in the 1920s; the television series either loosely adapts these or airs original scripts in postwar England.

The show’s creators chose a rural setting to better capture the 1950s. The programme is faithful to the era in the settings and clothes. The nostalgia it evokes is part of its appeal.

Italian-Roman chasuble However, although Father Brown has a Jesuit as an advisor, the chasuble that Mark Williams wears did not appear until Vatican II in the early 1960s. What Catholic priests wore in 1953 and for the rest of the decade is called a Roman chasuble, popularly known as a fiddleback, as seen on the left, courtesy of Traditional Ecclesiastical Tailoring.

Another quibble is that the modern rite of the Mass is mistakenly used in episode 6 of the new series. ‘The Upcott Fraternity’ has a brief scene of the seminarians at Mass. Surely, it would not have taken the actors much time to learn a line or two of ecclesiastical Latin.

Surely the Jesuit advisor could have helped on these two points; perhaps the show’s creators did not ask him.

Furthermore, the series has a Midsomer Murders feel to it; all the deaths take place in the general vicinity.  One wonders how many more people can die.

Finally, whilst the programme is generally acceptable for children to see, the third series has two episodes thus far which have content perhaps better suited to mature audiences. ‘The Upcott Fraternity’ and ‘The Lair of the Libertines’ will certainly provoke some uncomfortable questions from little ones.

The latter episode lives up to its name. The men and women at an exclusive hotel tell Father Brown they wish to find happiness through pleasure. One man says that he is looking for happiness all the time and never finds it. Father Brown replies that if a person seeks happiness he will never find it. True happiness comes to us but occasionally and is ephemeral.

American and South American viewers will no doubt be able to see the latest series on PBS and the Film & Arts channel later this year.

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My better half and I were in Cannes last month.

It’s a biannual business trip for SpouseMouse with a few days’ holiday afterwards. For me, it’s 100% leisure!

The next few posts will cover the latest in this delightful resort city, probably one of the most egalitarian in the world. You can enjoy yourself whatever your budget.

However — first things first.

Chapelle de la Misericorde CannesLatin Mass is still being said at Chapelle de la Miséricorde, next to Marché Forville at the west end of the city centre. I have updated my 2009 post to say that the Extraordinary Form is now said at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday.

When we went four years ago, this Mass was said on Sunday evenings — a pleasant finish to the weekend.

The chapel is the place of worship associated with the Marché Forville, and a weekday Mass — Novus Ordo in French — is held on Wednesdays.

La Miséricorde (‘Mercy’) was built in 1617 by the Pénitents noirs. It was consecrated in 1620. After the French Revolution, it — along with many other church buildings — was sold to the government. The Pénitents noirs attempted to regroup after the Revolution, but the congregation was dissolved in 1860. The chapel was declared an historical monument in 1933.

La Miséricorde might still be affiliated with Cannes’s St Nicholas Church, however, their website is down as I write. St Nicholas oversees 11 churches in the city.

Lectionary lectionaryorgBible-believing mainline Protestants aren’t the only ones unnerved by the Lectionary. So are traditionalist Catholics.

It’s a bit odd that we are so dissatisfied, considering that it has been around for at least 40 years. We seem to find it less appealing as time goes by.

It’s not that we’re not interested in the Bible — far from it. However, we have seen too many edits — ellipses (…) — in the passages read. What are we missing? Why are we missing it?

Some Protestants will say, ‘Who cares?’ Yet, it was thanks to the Catholics that mainline churches even use the Lectionary. Not many people know that.

Yesterday’s post reiterated that the late Cardinal Bugnini came up with the idea for the Lectionary in the run-up to Vatican II.

Readers might wish to note that (emphases mine):

Archbishop Bugnini was ‘a revolutionary more clever than the others, he who killed the Catholic liturgy before disappearing from the official scene’.  (Suspecting Bugnini of being a Freemason, Paul VI sent him to a post in Iran, where he died in 1982.)

All the same, here we are in the 21st century stuck with the Lectionary.

A few weeks ago, the Revd Ray Blake, a Catholic priest in Brighton (England), featured a post on it. What follows are excerpts from his post, his readers’ comments on its structure and how the Lectionary paints a picture of God and His Son which is much different to that which had endured for centuries.

These are not necessarily in sequence but I have arranged them to present a clearer picture of the dilemma of the Lectionary. First, Fr Blake:

The rupture that concerns me, is not a liturgical one but a theological [one], it is the change in “the face of God” that it represents.

The image of God presented to and by the great saints, which had existed for at least 1,500 years was altered.

Scripture is inspired but previous generations would also have believed so was the Lectionary, the choice of readings.

There are subsidiary issues about the editing of scripture but what concerns me is that I am not presented with the same image of God as say St Francis or Sr Ignatius of Loyola.

Part of his aforementioned main post reads as follows:

Certainly the OF [Ordinary Form — Novus Ordo, or New Massanother Bugnini inspiration] Lectionary gives us a broader selection of readings, including the Old Testament and extracts from the Gospels other than mainly Matthew and chunks of John. In many ways the modern Lectionary is superior, as a logical academic presentation of scripture the older form is obviously inferior.  I don’t know quite how the older Lectionary emerged, presumably like most organic forms, by a process of evolution and to meet pastoral needs, it was tried a tested in the crucible of sacred history down the centuries.

What is more significant and worthy of serious discussion is the rupture that I would suggest the newer Lectionary has introduced into the Church’s presentation of the image of God. The pre-Concilliar image of God is different from the post-Concilliar image. Revelation is both Scripture and Tradition, it is within the Liturgy that Revelation is presented: by changing the Lectionary have we broken with something very important?

In his preceding post on the subject, Fr Blake pointed to the distorted view of Christian love which we have nowadays — unconditional and ever-accepting, at all times. He wrote, in part:

The Gospel today has Peter asking how often he should forgive his brother; I wonder whether he is asking in some general way, or specifically whether Andrew, his brother and fellow Apostle, has been particularly annoying and Peter is asking explicitly about their relationship.

Jesus answers by telling a story about an irascible master who is going to sell a debtor and his family into slavery, who then relents after much pleading but then hearing about the mistreatment of another servant has him handed over to the torturers. Jesus’ message to Peter is forgive your brother because you yourself have been forgiven a great deal

Though Jesus tells Peter to forgive, he also tells the Apostles to “preach repentance”, “teaching”, “bring back a brother who errs” and to “correct error”; forgiveness and teaching seem to go hand in hand. The Fathers, the Saints too seemed to be by today’s standards violent, even abusive in their teaching of the faith, in their refutation of heresy and their denunciation of sacrilegious behaviour.

Against this we have to set love but then “love” seems to have been reformed to something passionless, and reduced to variation of tolerance. Has there been a feminisation or even lavenderisation, certainly a de-Christianisation of “love”.

One of Blake’s readers noted that the Latin Mass — Extraordinary Form, or Tridentine (from the Council of Trent) — would have had Luke 11:14-28 as the assigned reading. In it our Lord casts out demons. Well, today’s Catholics cannot hear that at Mass. Much too disturbing, binary and clearly pointing to good versus evil. Or so thought Bugnini no doubt and, later, the Catholic and Protestant Lectionary editors who brought the whole thing to fruition.

Someone else observed that the passage from Luke about demons is split three ways into weekly reading:

The passage has been used elsewhere, albeit split over at least three locations: Thurs in week 3 of Lent (11:14-23), and Fri & Sat in week 27 of Ordinary Time (11:15-26; 11:27-28). Luke 11:27-28 is also an option for the Gospel reading in the Common of the BVM.

What that means is that anyone who does not attend Mass daily will never hear it in its entirety.

And what are two verses of it — read as a Gospel option for a Marian feast — compared to the whole story?

BJC summed it up nicely for both Catholics and Protestants:

I think many of those passages/prayers in the new lectionary have been truncated to emphasise “love” not sin and those other off limits words like hell, punishment and repentance

It’s a mistake because if you emphasise love to the degree we have its hardly surprising when people stop regarding even obvious things like adultery and pornography as sins. Everything becomes so mushy mushy its difficult to comprehend words like punishment and hell and therefore “sin” itself falls by the wayside.

As regards the Church Fathers and saints for sure by today’s standards they would be regarded as fundamentalists and intolerant. It just emphasises how far we’ve fallen.

To further the confusion, it seems as if today’s Catholics use the three-year Lectionary for Sundays and another two-year one for weekday readings.

Back now to Blake’s more recent post the following day. Part of the problem is not the readings, per se, notes George, but the manner of preaching about them. This appears contradictory, however, it indicates a problem with the priests’ sermons making sense of Scripture for the listener:

Many traditional priests (not all) seem to follow a different preaching plan than Novus Ordo priests. Many traditional priests, using instructions that came out of Trent, and through the work of Charles Borromeo and others, preach on matters of faith and morals with a regular plan and with a regular frequency, irrespective of the readings for that day. Many traditional priests will offer a sermon and never once reference the readings of that day. In contrast, many Novus Ordo priests will rarely preach outside of the messages within the day’s readings. When you compound this phenomenon with the seeming dearth of the toughest scripture passages in the new lectionary, you find many NO priests failing to cover throughout the year the fullness of Catholic faith and morals in their sermons.

Deacon Nathan Allen brought up an excellent point about the suitability of the person receiving Communion. This still holds true today in confessional Protestant denominations yet is rarely taught in the post-Vatican II Catholic faith:

Despite having much more of the Bible read to us, there are some passages that were cut out, and they seem to be those that ask us to examine our consciences regarding sin. For example, one obvious passage which was read in the usus antiquior on Corpus Christi is completely absent from the NO lectionary, and even from the Liturgy of the Hours: 1 Cor 11:29: “Whoever eats this bread or drinks of the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” For my part, I think that verse should be solemnly chanted (better than most ‘communion songs’) as the people queue up for communion.

That’s a powerful New Testament verse and the deacon is correct in saying that it cannot be emphasised enough. Still adhering to it — in addition to traditionalist Catholics — are devout Anglicans as well as confessional Lutherans and Calvinists (see Dr R Scott Clark’s explanation of this passage). Yet, I never heard of it in my Catholic preparation for either First Holy Communion (1960s) or Confirmation (1970s).

Wasn’t it all easier when each denomination — Catholics included — had one year of readings in one prayer book? In the days of the Tridentine (Latin) Mass, everyone had the same set of prayers and readings. One could prepare at home by reading the Scripture for that Sunday or feast day. I know. I still have some early missals. And I have several copies of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Thankfully, the Anglicans haven’t yet fully restricted its use, although Lectionary readings might override what is in the BCP, depending on who is taking that particular service.

Blake wrote later on:

The change in the selection of texts is the really drastic change, it is this that has brought about a difference in our understanding of God.

John Fisher thought that the idea of repetition of Bible readings was to reinforce them, not cause people to turn off:

The coverage of Bible readings is BETTER dealt with in the Liturgical Hours….not Mass.
It is through repetiton we are taught and learn.
In the Old Mass I actually learn and assimilate. In the new Mass I feel overwhelmed and confused.
In the Old Mass I read and hear the readings. In the New Mass I only hear and am usually most annoyed by nasally women and men!

People who read the lessons aloud really do need training in enunciation, pitch, inflection and projection, even when aided by a microphone. Our Anglican parish is doing significantly better in that regard; they understand what they are reading. However, I know a Catholic reader who doesn’t really take the responsibility seriously: ‘So I started on the wrong page. Big deal.’

Blake hinted at heretics operating behind the Lectionary:

It is not a matter of “better or worst” that is a personal judgement, “authentic” might be a better word. The ancient Lectionary is has come into being in the crucible of sacred history, it has been the foundation of the Church, it hammers away at a pretty basic message. The modern Lectionary has been chosen by a committee at an identifable point in history, and [I] suspect reflects that period’s image of God.

Marcion [a heretic] was accused of editing scripture with a pen knife, I can’t help thinking this has been done with the modern Lectionary.

But, enough of the Lectionary for now. What about the practical results of it on today’s Catholic — and, for that matter, mainline Protestant? Blake’s reader Jacobi said:

… One obvious reason is the false ecumenism which infected Vatican II resulting in the LCD Catholicism-lite we have today, and the other, as has been mentioned here, is to air-brush out sin. The latter objective has been largely achieved as is seen in any Catholic church with 100% attendance at Communion and near zero at Confession.

The answer always lies in the middle, but Hell does exist and people go there. Also those who wish to air-brush sin out are in effect saying that Jesus Christ was just another deluded religious bigot who died needlessly on a cross.

As to Bugnini’s original intent, Joseph Shaw offered this:

I don’t know of a full-length study of the EF lectionary, or of the reform. Bugnini’s treatment of the latter is terse and unhelpful. He does say that they rejected the idea of keeping the old lectionary as one of the three years’ cycle, because if they did this ‘there would be major differences between that cycle and the others’ (Reform of the Liturgy, p416), that pretty well vindicates Fr Blake’s instinct!

Because the OF lectionary is so large, it is often possible for its defenders to say ‘Oh no this or that passage has not been excluded, it is on Wednesday of week XX in year Z’, but that is a bit beside the point. We know Bugnini wanted [to] minimise ‘negative’ elements, and exiling a passage to a weekday in the middle of the summer, once every three years, is as good as putting it in the shredder. The smaller selection of readings in the EF become really familiar in time, they really give a flavour to the whole liturgical experience.

And that is where we are today. Yes, the Lectionary might have been finalised nearly two decades after Bugnini first came up with the idea and was no longer involved in it. However, his legacy is long lasting.

Our local Anglican clergy take a detour from the Lectionary now and then, not skipping a verse in what they choose to read. Long may they continue to do so. May others follow their example.

 

Pope Francis created a storm in Catholic circles when he conducted the customary Maundy Thursday foot washing ceremony in a young offender’s institution.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported (H/T: Rorate Caeli):

Pope Francis, who often prefers to call himself “bishop of Rome” for the little ones, those who suffer, and the poor, will celebrate today the rite of the washing of the feet in the juvenile penitentiary of Casal del Marmo. Among the twelve young inmates whose feet he will wash will also be a girl, perhaps two. “In Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio also admitted girls to the rite. And we proposed today a female presence. In the Vatican, after some resistance, they accepted it,” said Father Gaetano Greco, the chaplain of the facility, where the Pontiff will arrive this afternoon.

The National Catholic Register added:

The Vatican said the jailed teens were not all Catholic while reports say among the among those who had their feet washed were two teenage girls, one Italian and another from Serbia.

Going back to the New Testament, before the Last Supper, the Apostles were arguing among themselves as to who was the greatest when Jesus broke the moment by bringing water and a towel with which to wash their dusty feet. In other words, the Apostles were so self-absorbed and prideful that none had thought to perform basic hygiene before breaking bread. So, yes, there was a practical reason for His washing their feet as well as the strong signal that they put their personal pride away. Jesus thereby mandated humble service to one another. (‘Mandate’ is the operative word behind ‘Maundy’, as in Maundy Thursday.)

However, note that Jesus did not just wash anyone’s feet; He washed those of His twelve closest friends, even though He knew one would soon betray Him. The remaining eleven would evangelise and die confessing His name. This is why Maundy Thursday is considered as the formal institution of the priesthood as well as Holy Communion.

Today, where the foot washing is done in the same spirit in a Catholic or Protestant service, the celebrant washes the feet of deacons, other clergy and/or people who have given generously of their time for the church.

No well-known clergyman — until now — has gone into a prison to wash the feet of unbelievers, especially someone who has never been a Christian.

Nor do they kiss that person’s feet.

Yet, here is the elevated Jesuit Pope kissing the young prisoners’ feet, among them a Muslim’s:

Blogger Fr Ray Blake explains that some traditions have different practices. The clergy wash each others feet and laypeople and religious communities wash each others. The head person performs the act:

From a Russian friend I understand the Patriarch of Moscow washes the feet of twelve Moscow bishops, which seems entirely appropriate, the Apostles were after all bishops. It was also appropriate that formally the Bishop of Rome should wash the feet of twelve priests of his diocese.

In my mother’s homeland, that bit of Northern Italy that became Yugoslavia, it was the custom of my grandfather, and the heads of most households, to wash the feet of his family and farm workers, the practice I understand continued even under Tito’s Communism. In England before the Reformation the monarch used to wash the feet of the poor, and in at least one Benedictine Abbey I know Mother Abbess washes the feet of the whole community in the Chapter house, in the Liturgy the chants are sung but the priest washes no-one’s feet. Formerly it seems it was a ritual for those in authority to exercise with their subordinates.

This is a different context to going into a prison to wash random prisoners’ feet, people who might have no interest in or knowledge of Christ.

Is the Pope’s ‘example’ not a case of casting pearls before swine?

Many Catholics have pointed out that Holy Week is the most important time the Church year, culminating in Easter. The services during that week are for the faithful in remembering Christ’s Passion.

Where Vatican II, its aftermath and clergy-led innovations are concerned, one of Fr Blake’s readers wrote:

My frustration is, why so much leniency for lawbreaking *innovations* yet heavyhanded episcopal smackdowns for daring to go back to previously approved liturgical forms (like the 1955 Roman rite—or, sadly, in too many cases still, the now-legal 1962 rite, or even legitimate things like celebrating the Novus Ordo ad orientem or using altar rails)? It’s perplexing and depressing.

Furthermore, it is difficult for Catholics to find a Latin Mass in their local area. Most would have to spend the better part of a Sunday driving to and back from one. And most priests refuse to celebrate it, despite Benedict XVI’s instruction to do so.  Our local priest at the time put his foot down, even when I offered to donate money to have a priest brought in to celebrate what is now known as the Extraordinary Form: ‘I will not have a Latin Mass in this church!’ There is something strange in that sentiment, even though most Catholic priests and bishops in Britain share it.

This same priest was also fond of saying, ‘Holy Mother Church must be obeyed at all costs!’

Hmm. It will be interesting to see how all this turns out for the Church’s faithful. The Pope twists and perverts — let’s be honest — the rites of the Last Supper and priesthood on Maundy Thursday. Yet, despite his predecessor’s (Benedict XVI’s) efforts and instructions, there are few Latin Masses for the faithful who wish to hear them. How sad.

I am grateful for having become a Protestant all those years ago. At least my church offers the 1662 Book of Common Prayer service at least once a month.

Prayers for the Catholic remnant as they navigate their way in the dark.

Tomorrow: More on Vatican II from Cardinal Bugnini to Pope Francis

On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, the conclave to elect the successor to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will have begun.

A few Reformed blogs have treated the Pope’s abdication lightly, when the Catholic Church is in real danger. It is not a stretch of the imagination that, should it find itself in chaos, the rest of Christianity will also be in danger.

With today’s ignorance about the Christian faith — including here in England, even among people over 50 who had to take Religious Education in school — it is quite possible that we will all be tarred with the same atheistic brush of ‘conservative, reactionary perverts and theonomists’.

So, I would suggest that we pray that Benedict XVI can retire in peace and be left alone. We do not know what is really happening inside the Vatican other than that ‘another spirit is moving through’ it — to borrow Martin Luther’s stinging words to Zwingli over the latter’s doubt of the Real Presence in Holy Communion. And that spirit is a form of darkness.

However, there is a cautionary historical story here. Benedict XVI, like the Popes before him going back to John XXIII, advocated teachings which go against Holy Scripture, among them (emphases mine):

Changing with the times: ‘In the era of liberalism that preceded the First World War, the Catholic Church was looked upon as a fossilized organization, stubbornly opposed to all modern achievements‘ … ’Whoever wants to attach himself solely to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures or to the forms of the Church of the Fathers imprisons Christ in “yesterday”.

This ties in with the ideas behind la nouvelle théologie: dogma changes over time and old tenets of the faith, even scriptural teachings, can be discarded.

Indeed, Benedict XVI helped to develop the changes which emanated from Vatican II:

Ratzinger became a professor at the University of Bonn in 1959; his inaugural lecture was on “The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy”. In 1963, he moved to the University of Münster.

During this period, Ratzinger participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Ratzinger served as a peritus (theological consultant) to Cardinal Frings of Cologne. He was viewed during the time of the Council as a reformer, cooperating with theologians like Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx. Ratzinger became an admirer of Karl Rahner, a well-known academic theologian of the Nouvelle Théologie and a proponent of church reform.

My mother, a devout Catholic, read everything going on the Catholic Church, especially when the subject concerned Vatican II. By the 1970s, Ratzinger and Küng were household names in our home. My mother sought out the nuns at my school to voice her opinion that the outcomes of Vatican II would ruin the Church. They attempted to reassure her that these particular changes were necessary and not to worry!

Well, we know what happened. Over the past four decades, the Catholic Church has been hemorrhaging laity and vocations whilst accumulating sacerdotal scandals and internal discord.

There was nothing ‘conservative’ about Benedict XVI, then or now. There are times, as was true with the now-retired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that, amidst all the Modernist and worldly teaching, a glimmer of faith and brilliance occasionally emerged. The latest case in point was Benedict XVI’s final message on February 28, 2013.

The cautionary point is that Benedict XVI reaped what he sowed. Although none of us has eyes into each other’s souls, I would like to think that since his ascent to the papacy he has at least partially repented of Modernism as he saw the maelstrom of unbelief, corruption and immorality around him. The latest news before he ended his tenure was that a cabal of militant homosexual bishops is lobbying the Church for change. Their ability to do so would have to rely on Vatican insiders — other clergy — allowing that to happen. Of course, the fallout from the sex scandals has not gone away, either.

Vatican II really does have nouvelle théologie written all over it and the relativism it brought to all aspects of Catholic life has caused a number of lay members — including my friends and I — to leave. A few of us became Protestants, however, most left the Christian faith full stop.

A couple of years ago, we got together to talk about the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church. In the pre-Vatican II Church we agreed that we knew where we stood, that the Catholic faith was important to us largely because of the mysterium tremendum in Latin Mass and clear teaching (even if erroneous) which we learned at a young age.  Of the post-Vatican II changes, we thought that Mass had lost that mysterium tremendum, the priest wanted to get people in and out as soon as possible and that there was little guidance from the pulpit in matters of faith.

What is truly unfortunate, however, is that those who left Christianity said that they had little reason to believe that Jesus was active in their lives. Christ seems distant to them. Salvation doesn’t worry them; it doesn’t even enter their minds.

That distance and abstraction are part and parcel of nouvelle théologie:

the Incarnation of the Word (Jesus) was but a mere blip in the evolution of the universe. According to new theology, time moves on and our link to Jesus becomes more abstract. New theology ignores His sacrifice on the Cross, His glorious Resurrection and His promise of salvation.

God is not personally involved in our lives or our world; rather, God is an abstract ‘universal cosmic Centre’. This notion contradicts Holy Scripture from beginning to end.

we can be saved only through pantheism — Gaia — and ‘uniting’ ourselves with the universe.

As is often said in marketing, there is a big ‘So what?’ problem with the post-Vatican II Church. There is no compelling reason to align oneself with watery or, just as bad, extra-scriptural theology.

The other factor which I find troubling is the huge emphasis that Pope John Paul II (during whose tenure I left the Catholic Church) placed on Mary, making her co-redemptrix. For more information, see my Christianity / Apologetics page under the heading Mariolatry.

Then there is the difficulty of the Catholic doctrine of Christ’s specific designation of Peter as ‘the rock’ on which He would build His Church (Matthew 16). Yet, when one reads the Bible, Peter has a smaller role to play. This is no doubt one of the reasons why Catholic clergy had, until relatively recently, discouraged lay people from reading Holy Scripture, because if the faithful had begun to read and study it, who knows what contradictions with ‘tradition’ they might find?

John MacArthur explains:

Paul wrote Romans in the year 56, made no reference to Peter If Peter was the pastor of the church in Rome, why doesn’t he refer to Peter? And he greets a whole bunch of people in chapter 16, he just keeps greeting one after another after another after another, it would be pretty serious to overlook Peter. When Paul was later imprisoned in Rome in the year 60 to 62, he wrote four letters and he included in those letters all who came to him, never mentions Peter. In his last letter, 2 Timothy, written in the year 64 or about that, he gives greeting to ten people in Rome, not Peter..not Peter. By the way, Peter was never called to the Gentiles anyway. Galatians 2:7 and 8, you might want to look at that for just a minute. Galatians 2:7 and 8, he says, “I had been entrusted…Paul says…with the gospel to the uncircumcised, to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the circumcised.” Peter was never called to pastor a Gentile congregation

By the way … you might think at least Peter would be the head of the Jerusalem church, but he’s not. According to Galatians chapter 2 and Acts chapter 15, the head of the Jerusalem church was James…not Peter at all. There’s no indication whatsoever that Peter had anything to do with the city of Rome.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, the Apostle Paul addresses the factions in the Corinthian church, he says, “Some of you say I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Cephas, or Peter, I of Christ.”He doesn’t make any great thing of him at all. In fact, he makes it very clear that none of these people are particularly significant. They’re not the ones who deserve the credit for the work of God. Go over to chapter 3. “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed. I planted, Apollos watered, God was causing the growth.” It’s a very low key way to treat yourself. He doesn’t give any elevation to anybody.

Furthermore, Paul went to Rome to preach and in Romans 15:20 he says, “I aspired to preach the gospel not where Christ was already named.” If Peter had been there and planted a church, then that would not be true. He didn’t go where somebody else had been. If Peter was already the Bishop of Rome, why would Paul want to go there and strengthen and establish that church?

In 1 Peter, let’s hear from Peter himself. First Peter chapter 1, [‘]Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ[‘], that’s all, an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He introduces himself as nothing more than that, not THE Apostle, not the head of the church. First Peter 5, “I exhort the elders among you as your fellow elder.” As your fellow elder. I’m just one of you. I’m just a partaker of the glory to be revealed. Shepherd the flock of God. “Exercise oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God, not for money but with eagerness. Not as…here it comes, verse 3…lording it over those allotted to your charge.” Boy, there’s a direct hit at the papacy. We’re just fellow elders. Don’t ever lord it over. Peter himself actually taught against the priesthood of which, of course, the papacy is the highest place. First Peter 2:5 he says, “You are living stones, you are built up a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.” This is what we know as the priesthood of believers. Down in verse 9, “You are a chosen race. You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” There’s no priesthood but the priesthood of believers.

And by the way, Peter completely disappears after Acts 15, completely. But in spite of all of this, the Roman Catholic Church affirms that Peter was the first Pope, the head over the whole Church and the author of Papal Succession. Where do they get it? They get it from three passages completely misrepresented. Matthew 16, and this one you know, Jesus said, “I say to you, you’re Peter and on this rock I’ll build My church.” You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church. It’s a play on words. He’s not saying you are Peter and upon you I’ll build My church. You are Peter, Petros…Petros,small stone, and upon this Petra, rock bed, I will build My church. What rock bed? The rock bed of the reality of Christ. Simon Peter in verse 16, “Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God. And Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood didn’t reveal this to you, My Father who is in heaven. I say you are a small stone, but it’s on the rock bed of who I am that I will build My church.” How could that be perverted, the language is crystal clear?

Then there is the matter of St Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes. I do not know if it is true, but, if so, and if the translation has been properly interpreted, the next Pope will be the last. His name, according to Malachy, is Petrus Romanus.  Then again, the reliability of our interpretation of these predictions could be akin to the way some invoke Nostradamus whenever there is a disaster or mass tragedy.

Does Malachy’s foreseen ‘apocalypse’ during Petrus Romanus’s tenure mean that referred to in Revelation or one of the Catholic Church?

Is it possible that the Catholic Church could move to another leadership model?

Would the papacy transfer from Rome to another city?

No one knows. Personally, I do not think it means the end of the Catholic Church, although its polity could change. Perhaps it will become more biblical in doctrine. Pray that it does.

To that end, thanks to commenters on John MacArthur’s Grace to You blog, I ran across a few useful New Testament verses for Catholic consideration:

Justification by grace through faith

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Examining teachings against the truth of Scripture

10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)

On venerating Mary

27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”

28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” (Luke 11:27-28)

Pray that the Pope Emeritus, the Curia and the next Pope embrace the fullness of Holy Scripture and pass it on to the faithful.

Recently, Spouse Mouse and I were in the US visiting family and friends.  What follows are musings from four friends, all of whom are lapsed Catholics.  (Dialogue below as close as I can recall it.)

On opting out:

P: I just don’t go to Mass any more.  It has no meaning for me.  When I do go, it’s for someone’s First Communion or for a wedding.  But those are family events.

On the Novus Ordo Mass:

K: I went to a different parish church today for a First Holy Communion Mass.  What I’ll remember is that they rang the bells at the Elevation of the Host — so beautiful.  They don’t do that at my church any more.  Why? 

I really don’t go to Mass very often any more.  I do church my own way — at home in prayer.

R: I don’t go to Mass, either.  It’s too different to what it was when I was growing up.  I was an altar boy.  It was the Latin Mass then. We had respect for the Mass and the priest.  Nowadays, the priest just sits there in his chair.  Why?  There’s something wrong when a priest sits in a chair for that much of the Mass.  I also don’t think the servers are trained that well.  Sloppy.  I look at them and shake my head.  Never would have happened in my day.

Would I still be going if it were Latin Mass every week?  That’s a good question.  Maybe not every week, but a lot more often, sure.

On First Holy Communion:

K: When we made our First Communion, we got a missal, a rosary and a scapular.  Today, the kids didn’t receive anything more than a scapular.  What will that mean to them?  How will they be able to pray and meditate privately?  A scapular won’t do it.  What will happen to their faith? 

R: When I made my First Communion, everyone got a missal, rosary and scapular.  Everybody did. It was the norm. I don’t understand why they’re not still doing that.  Why not?  The Church can’t be short of money.  What’s this all going to mean to the kids?  Nothing much.

On fellowship:

S: I’ve been going to a small, independent Bible church of 100 people.  Everyone has been so nice to me.  I had an operation last year and I couldn’t believe how friendly everyone  was.  Every day, at least one lady from church would drop by with food.  They would also help me with little household chores.  I couldn’t believe it. 

That wouldn’t have happened in the Catholic church.  They wouldn’t have cared if I were sick or not.  I wouldn’t have been able to reach out to them.

Those women, including the pastor’s wife, really are my friends.  They’re not holy rollers, just good people.  They’ve given me such good advice.  They’re really generous with their time.

On the Bible:

S: Since I’ve been going to my church, I’ve learned so much about Scripture.  Verses I never even knew existed.  The pastor and my friends there really help me understand what the Bible says and how I can apply it to my daily life.

These are (ex)Catholics — baptised, confirmed and educated in Catholic schools (through high school) — who are disillusioned with the faith into which they were born.  If these are just my friends, how many others like them exist throughout the world?

The conversations just get more profound in the Tridentine Mass versus Novus Ordo (NO) debate.  Vatican II worked out quite well, because, although it was never intended — on paper, at least — to do away with the Latin Mass, in practice, Novus Ordo quickly became the de facto global replacement.  Churchmouse Campanologist has a variety of posts on Vatican II, in particular, the Mass.

InsideCatholic.com featured an article recently by John Zmirak.  ‘All Your Church Are Belong to Us‘ (as in ‘All Your Base Are Belong to Us’), explores the hijacking by reformer (as opposed to Reformed) Catholic bishops, eager to subvert orthodoxy in the Catholic Church.  Thanks to their efforts to ‘modernise’, we have one, if not two, generations of Catholics who don’t understand orthodoxy or the focus of the Mass.  Converts and young people who know only Novus Ordo (‘New Order’!) Mass are at loggerheads with the more traditionalist, Tridentine fans (like many of my Catholic readers).  The NO types reduce their argument to one of ‘externals’, when that’s really only a tiny part of the story.  (Emphases mine below.)

Both the article and subsequent comments are worthwhile reading.  First, here are excerpts from the article:

‘Having come from churches that didn’t have the Eucharist, and remaining through God’s grace flush with gratitude for the sacraments, many converts really don’t understand what the rest of us are nattering on about … We owe these good people an explanation.’

‘While the universal language of the Church is still to be revered for all the reasons that Vatican II prescribed in Sacrosanctum Concilium, it isn’t Why We Fight.’

‘The liturgy is miraculous, but it doesn’t work like magic: Rev. Teilhard de Chardin had said the Tridentine Mass for decades even as he invented Catholic Scientology; conversely, his sometime housemate at New York’s St. Ignatius Loyola, the holy Rev. John Hardon, obediently switched missals with every tinkering that came to him from the bishops.’

‘The old Mass reminds me of what they used to say about the Catholic Church and the U.S. Navy: “It’s a machine built by geniuses so it can be operated safely by idiots” … The new rite was patched together by bureaucrats, and should only be safely celebrated by the saintly.’

‘Here’s what we Trads have realized, that the merely orthodox haven’t: Inessential things have power, which is why we bother with them in the first place. In every revolution, the first thing you change is the flag. Once that has been replaced, in the public mind all bets are off …’

‘The perception that the Church was in a constant state of doctrinal flux was confirmed by the reality that her most central, sacred mystery was being monkeyed with — almost every year.’ 

YES!  I remember that ‘doctrinal flux’ well.  How many different versions of Missals do I own?  What about reception of Communion and the type of Host?  Confession?  Don’t get me started.

Then, two highly important passages.  The first explains what happened next and what Catholics today experience in the pew.  This gave us the CINO (Catholic in Name Only):

The campaign of dissenting priests, nuns, and (let’s be honest) bishops culminated, in America, with the Call to Action Conference, which its leading advocate John Francis Cardinal Dearden described in 1977 as “an assembly of the American Catholic community .” This gathering of 2,400 radical Catholic activists was composed of “people deeply involved with the life of the institutional Church and appointed by their bishops” (emphasis added). The Conference approved “progressive resolutions, ones calling for, among other things, the ordination of women and married men, female altar servers, and the right and responsibility of married couples to form their own consciences on the issue of artificial birth control.” This is the mess made by the bishops appointed by the author of Humanae Vitae, which his rightly beloved successor John Paul II spent much of his pontificate trying to clean up. What we Trads feel compelled to point out is that he couldn’t quite finish the job, and that the deformations of the Roman liturgy enacted by (you guessed it) appointees of Paul VI helped enable all these doctrinal abuses. They changed the flag.

And the second explains why traditionalists are upset:

how it felt to be young and Catholic in the 1970s. Every sacred thing had to be changed, every old thing replaced with a new one, every complicated beauty plastered over by the cheap and the easy. The message was almost subliminal, but by that means all the more powerful: All Your Church Are Belong to Us.

The comments demonstrate the feuding between both sides.  Those 45 and younger as well as recent converts side with the modernisers.  I wonder if they realise what they are saying with statements such as these:

Dan the Dad: ‘Wow, that’s one seriously long, rambling article. I still can’t figure out why Trads are so crazy about the Tridentine Mass. I would suggest you use bullet points and write a shorter article that is clear … I’m a very orthodox Catholic. I like the Novus Ordo (thought I think it would be better if it were in Latin). I believe the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and kept free from error. Thus, the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo can not be mistakes.’

You can read the author’s reply in bullet points.

Mary Kay: ‘It’s more than being offended. They’re attacking their brothers and sisters in Christ and rationalizing their doing so.

Daria: ‘I feast upon the body and blood of Christ at either form of the mass.’

Croix: ‘Kneeling? Some people kneel before Communion, yes, but somehow it seems like showing off. I usually have an intense desire to prostrate myself but of course I will never to do it.’

Cephas: ‘I’ve attended enough TLM’s to know that for the most part people basically just sit there (or, kneel there: ouch!) for long stretches of time watching the priest and altar boys move around.

‘Actual participation like (gasp!) giving the responses is looked down upon in many Traddie parishes. And, the silence . . . O, the Silence! Silence is overrated. When I’m on retreat at a monastery, I want silence. When I attend a liturgical celebration I don’t want to kneel, sit, stand in silence.’

Marie: ‘… feel free to die in my parish in California (where I am the Liturgy planner). Although far away from an FSSP, I’ll make sure you get the Requiem chant for the Introit, “Dominus pascit me” for Responsorial, the Dies Irae as Sequence, the Jubilate Deo Ordinary with the “Dona eis” at the Agnus Dei, and “Lux aeterna” for Communion. I’ll get the priest to wear black (albeit with the deepest violet sheen) for your glorious send-off. Heck, I’ll even throw in “In Paradisum” at the gravesite, and even “Libera Me.”

‘But it will all be the Novus Ordo, ha-ha!

So, Catholic friends and reverent visitors who prefer the Tridentine Rite, you will need to deal with the therapeutic, pomo generation:

– NO (Novus Ordo) Catholics who believe TLM people are ‘attacking’ them and being ‘uncharitable’

– Catholics who are accepting of what ‘Holy Mother Church gives them’ — as if one could compare the solemn and reverent Tridentine Rite to the abomination of the NO

– Catholics who wish to feel comfortable (no kneeling!) and ‘celebrate’ the remembrance of Christ’s holy and living sacrifice

– Catholics who like having their ‘itching ears’ tickled with an easy, fun Mass — the horror!

Now, how is that to be transformed, particularly in light of bishops and priests who can’t be bothered?

This, for me, was the most poignant of comments.  Prayers for Another Old Catholic — with whom many can empathise (my emphasis):

I was a child when the mass was changed, when the Blessed Mother’s statue was ‘disappeared’ from her little altar to the left of the main altar, this old and lovely altar later ripped out and replaced by a large dining room table. I was frightened when the priest, instead of facing East with the rest of us turned toward us got between us and God. It seemed to me that we had gone from the worship of God to the worship of the priest. I was a child but I cringed at the bad music with sometimes sacrilegious lyrics. I was robbed of my tradition, and so were the next two generations who never even had the experience of the Traditional Latin Mass..

Even now I often leave the Novus Ordo mass in tears over my loss. The closest TLM near me is an hour away over dangerous roads and my car is also old. All I want is the TLM restored to every parish so that those of us who love it have an equal chance to worship as those who want the Novus Ordo. I want the next generations to have a chance to see what they have been missing before those of us who remember it are gone.

How true.  And that’s how I remembered it, too.

Finally, some good news to share, especially after my posts about ailing, abandoned or converted churches.

St John’s Valdosta blog recently carried a story about a disused Catholic Church which has seen new life.  Robert Kumpel has reproduced the text from Latin Mass Magazine in full. (The photo at left is courtesy of one or both of the two sites.)

So often I say, ‘With just a little ingenuity you can breathe new life into a parish.’  Sure enough, it’s happened yet again, this time in the village of Warren, in central Massachusetts. 

The Revd Daniel Becker came to St Paul’s as a relatively new priest in 2002.  Prior to that, he’d had a career then went to seminary in Boston.  However, the scandals surrounding the Archdiocese of Boston were about to break, and the atmosphere amongst priests and seminiarians was dispiriting. Furthermore, Law asked priests to abandon their pro-life witnessing, which Becker was unwilling to do. So, he moved west and was ordained in the neighbouring Diocese of Worcester.

Fr Becker saw that St Paul’s needed redoing.  It had been painted lavender in the early 1970s.  Balloons from trendy Masses had floated to the ceiling.  The sacristy was festooned with silk butterflies.  However, money was an issue.  This wasn’t a wealthy parish. Yet, together, Fr Becker and his parishoners worked hard to set things right:

During the wild and wacky days, the Stations of the Cross were represented by Roman numerals on purple disks. Father Becker acquired an entire set of Stations and a high altar on eBay. Who would have thought that the Internet bazaar would be a blessing to the Catholic restoration? The lovely altar rail, preserved for decades by the faithful parishioner, has been returned to the spot from whence it was torn. The church is now a welcoming place which would look familiar to Catholics of fifty or a hundred years ago …

St Paul’s is fortunate in having a school and convent attached.  The Franciscan Sisters Minor are

devoted to a “radical life of prayer, poverty, and penance.” And they really mean it. No bongo playing or demands for abortion from this quarter; the ladies are up at 4:50 a.m. for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Becker

took a course on how to say the Latin Mass and was ready to introduce the low Mass by the Spring of this year and subsequently has also revived the sung high Mass. Though Father Becker works like a Trojan, he is surrounded by Catholics who are grateful to have a true parish again and are willing to put sweat equity into keeping this good thing. Parishioners are involved in everything from directing the Schola Cantorum, to running the school, to organizing altar boy practice. The local Knights of Columbus is raising money to buy Roman vestments …

The article states what so many of us have been saying for so long:

For years, Bishop after Bishop has claimed that those who seek the Tridentine Mass are nostalgia buffs and that it is really desired only by a few “old people” in “Europe” or some such place. Lies and damnable lies. This is a youth movement, baby. The pews at Latin Masses are packed with the young–infants, toddlers, grade-schoolers and teenagers. The parents bringing them are largely those who were experimented on in the 1970’s and who decided along the way that they wanted true Catholicism for themselves and their children.

So, let’s stop believing what our self-serving clergy are saying.  People have had enough milk.  They are ready for the meat of the liturgy and the Gospel — and plenty of it.  God bless Fr Becker, the good sisters and the parishoners, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Chapelle du Saint-Suaire Nice photos-provencefrAlthough I referred to this chapel in my previous entry regarding Latin Mass in Cannes, it seemed worthy of a separate entry for anyone travelling to Nice who wishes to hear the Extraordinary, or Tridentine, Rite. 

If you do wish to hear the traditional Latin Mass with Gregorian chant during your stay in Nice, go to the old part of the city — Vieux Nice — and walk to the end of the Cours Saleya, where the market stalls are during the week.  There you will find the Chapelle du Saint-Suaire, where this Mass is celebrated every Sunday and special feast days at 10 a.m.  We weren’t in Nice on a Sunday, otherwise I would have gone, but I have noted it for our next visit.

The chapel is so named as it housed the shroud of Turin for a number of years in the 16th century. 

If you are unable to attend Mass, the chapel is open every Tuesday afternoon from 2:30 – 5:30 for guided tours.

Chapelle de la Misericorde CannesWho would have thought of Cannes as the logical place to hear Latin Mass?

Yet, that’s what my better half discovered when we were there a couple of weeks ago whilst we were looking for the Marché Forville.  I was a few steps behind him when he spotted the notice on the Chapelle de la Misericorde which stated that the Tridentine Rite, which dates from 1570 under Pius V, was said every Sunday at 6 p.m.  (UPDATE — JUNE 2013: This Mass is now held at 9:30 a.m.)

We poled up about five minutes beforehand on Sunday, June 21.  Only one lady wore a mantilla and one other had her head covered.  Most people had their own missals, but, happily, there were booklets with Latin-French translations of the whole Mass in every pew.  These were provided courtesy of the Chapelle du Saint-Suaire in Nice, where you can hear the sung Tridentine Rite every Sunday at 10 a.m.

There were about 15 people when we arrived.  By the time Mass started a few minutes later, there were probably 30.  The chapel is small and old, with a proper raised pulpit.  It dates from the 16th century, and whilst elegant, it is a humble structure, primarily for the market traders at Forville.  Mass in French is held every Monday at 8:30 a.m. and the chapel is open every weekday morning.  The bells ring on the hour, by the way.

Anyway, back to Mass.  The priest — possibly from Saint-Suaire in Nice — wore the traditional vestments that you would associate with the Extraordinary Rite: a bass-viol chasuble over an alb which had a beautiful eight inches of delicate eyelet lace embroidery, which must have been done by hand.  He was assisted by a layman in his thirties and two little altar boys, dressed traditionally except for their trainers (tennis shoes)!  We thought that maybe they were his sons.  It was reassuring to see three generations represented at the altar.  The boys weren’t old enough yet to grasp the importance of the Tridentine Rite and how easily we lost it, long before they were born.  The man helped them out, though, silently, yet quite intently, to make sure they did the right things at the right time.

The congregation was silent and reverent.  All ages were there, including young children, which puts paid to the notion that only old people and reactionaries are interested in the Tridentine Rite.  It seemed that half attended the Mass regularly and others, like us, were visitors.

The priest went through the prayers quite quickly, so it was difficult keeping up, which surprised both my husband and me.  We thought that we’d know where we were.  The Epistle and Gospel readings were in French as was the homily.  These were all said slowly enough for all of us to understand.  It was the Feast of the Sacred Heart that Sunday, so the priest described how Christ appeared to St Margaret Mary Alacoque mandating a devotion to the Sacred Heart.  It was the first time I had ever heard the story from the pulpit, which added to the significance of the occasion.

Communion was taken kneeling at the altar rail and distributed traditionally by the priest with the layman holding the paten.

Did we have the impression that we had been to Mass?  Most definitely.  There is no comparison between Mass in the vernacular and the Tridentine Rite, especially with the Last Gospel from the Book of St John read at the end.  It was an experience we won’t soon forget.  I’m so grateful and happy that we went, and I would certainly go again on my next visit to Cannes.

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