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Sunday, 17 August 2014

What I Want is Mercy, Not Sacrilege: The Dangers of “Routine Communions”

Giusto di Gand (Joos van Wassenhove), istituzione dell'eucarestia

Holy Communion is often treated as a prize, nowadays, or even a "right." The July-August issue of Faith Magazine carries an article of mine, looking at the dispositions required for Holy Communion: living in accord with the teaching of the Church, being in a state of grace and free of unconfessed mortal sin, and making a proper spiritual preparation for Holy Communion. In this connection I also discuss the danger of routine communions. Bishop Mark Davies kindly recommended the article when he visited the Faith Summer Session earlier this month.

Here is a link to the article itself: What I Want is Mercy, Not Sacrilege: The Dangers of “Routine Communions” , and here is a link to the whole current issue of Faith Magazine with several excellent articles which you can read online or download as a pdf. If you like the magazine and prefer reading things on real paper, a subscription is £25 for the year (six issues.)

Image credit: Justus van Gent (fl. 1460-1480) "The Communion of the Apostles" via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Catholic Dilemma 285: Is Confirmation the point when we become Catholic?

Is it correct that when we are Baptised into the Catholic Church we become members of the Christian Faith, and even though we may make our First Holy Communion we don’t actually become full members of the Catholic Church until we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation?

By Baptism we are incorporated into the Church and become members of the body of Christ. There is only one Church, founded by Our Lord on the rock which is Peter. In a case of genuine necessity, anyone, even a pagan, can baptise validly, as long as they use water, say “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, and intend to do what the Church does. Any person who is thus baptised becomes a member of the Catholic Church.

Someone who is baptised validly by a non-Catholic minister becomes a member of the Catholic Church and does not become separated from full communion with the Church until they have begun consciously to adhere to a separated ecclesial community. Hence there is no rite for receiving a young child, below the age of reason, into full communion with the Church. The rite of reception only applies to children who have reached “catechetical age.” In the older form of reception into the Church, the candidate formally repudiated heresy and schism. Although this is not done in the modern rite, the profession of faith that is made implies that the person no longer adheres to a separated ecclesial community.

Confirmation is sometimes referred to as the “perfection” of the grace of baptism. In an effort to explain the word “perfection” in its theological sense, it is sometimes explained as the “completion” of Baptism. Hence the false impression can be given that the incorporation into the Church at Baptism is imperfect or incomplete in some way. In fact, by Confirmation “we are bound more perfectly to the Church” (Lumen Gentium 11) and given the grace of the Holy Spirit to strengthening us to bear witness to the faith. We are, by Baptism, made fully members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome by email or via Twitter @FatherTF

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Cardinal Brandmüller on the Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy


The idea that clerical celibacy was established in the Church as a medieval development was strongly contested by a number of scholars in the late 20th century. Some characteristic works in English are:
Cholij, R. Clerical Celibacy in East and West. Gracewing. Herefordshire. 1989;
Cochini, C. The apostolic origins of priestly celibacy. Ignatius. San Francisco. 1990;
Heid, S. Celibacy in the Early Church. Ignatius. San Francisco. 2000;
Stickler, A. The case for clerical celibacy. Ignatius. San Francisco. 1995.
Cardinal Stickler’s brief account is a most useful summary of the case for clerical celibacy. He noted that there had been a number of important recent studies devoted to the history of celibacy in both the East and the West, and that,
"These studies have either not yet penetrated the general consciousness or they have been hushed up if they were capable of influencing that consciousness in undesirable ways."
This unfortunately remains the case as articles continue to appear, and assertions continue to be made without finding it necessary even to address the research of these scholars. The debate is still legitimate, but in some quarters it seems that a substantial case on one side is completely ignored.

So I was glad to read on Sandro Magister's blog last month the article by Cardinal Brandmüller which gives a brief primer on some of the important points. See: Francis Speaks, Scalfari Transcribes, Brandmüller Shreds

Photo credit: Ivo Giannoni di Osimo (via New Liturgical Movement)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Portiuncula indulgence tomorrow (and indulgences generally)

PorziuncolaTomorrow, 2 August, you can gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions (see below) by visiting a parish Church and there reciting the Our Father and the Creed. This is called the Portiuncula indulgence and goes back to St Francis of Assisi. Fr Z has the details.

Don't forget that you can also gain a plenary indulgence by visiting a Church on the day of the titular feast, and there reciting the Our Father and the Creed. I made a list of other indulgences: please see the post Plenary indulgences for particular days which has a link to the list. The post has some background information which you may find helpful since indulgences are not well understood today - which is not surprising since indulgences are not included in most Catholic education curricula, and most priests never preach about them. Therefore many Catholics are left with whatever silly, half-baked, ill-informed nonsense about indulgences happens to be current.

If you want to understand the theology of indulgences, I recommend reading the first four chapters of Paul VI's Indulgentiarum Doctrina. By reading and digesting not much more than 3000 words, you will gain a balanced and theologically mature understanding of indulgences. In fact, since few people (including priests and bishops) seem to think it worth the bother, you will instantly become relatively expert on the subject!

To forestall the common objection that almost nobody ever gains a plenary indulgence because of the condition about being detached from venial sin, please see my post: Plenary indulgences not impossible. This post also gives general information about the conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Kindle screensavers

Kindle screen

The screensavers on Kindle, which appear when the device is switched off, are clever in their own way, but in these days of personalising everything, it does seem natural to want to replace them with other pictures. I usually do this with mobile phones, changing the background to a devotional picture.

Unfortunately, Kindle does not offer an easy way to personalise the screensavers, but ages ago I saw a note somewhere saying that it is possible. Today I decided to do it. Essentially you have to "jailbreak" the device and then use a screensaver hack. It's not all that difficult, though there are one or two pitfalls.

Please don't ask me for advice on how to do this - if you are confident enough to hack your Kindle, then you will be able to find the right instructions for your model and version on google. If you are doing it, however, I have uploaded some picture files that are the right size (600x800 - black borders where necessary) and format (png). They are in an album on my flickr account called "Kindle screensavers". Feel free to help yourself. Here's a nice one for this coming Saturday:

IMG_20140728_170911

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Clear thinking from Dominicans on divorce and remarriage

Nova et Vetera has published an outstanding article by a team of American Dominicans: "Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment" looks at General Principles, proposals for Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried (drawing particularly from Cardinal Kasper's Consistory address), and proposals for changing the nullity process.

The article is clear, concise, and theologically robust. Although it refers frequently to recent Popes, Vatican II and the Catechism to reinforce the points made, I recognise the common corpus of the perennial Catholic theological approach, with a solid understanding of the teaching of Trent - and its all-important context.

With commendable clarity, the authors analyse the pastoral problem of the current despair over chastity, as well as the historical-doctrinal question of the teaching of the Council of Nicea on the subject of second marriages. On the subject of the canonical process for nullity, the crucial point is made that a canonical approach is pastoral in essence, while the abandonment of law has serious negative pastoral consequences.

Those who are highly competent in any area requiring in-depth technical knowledge show their expertise best by writing in a way that the non-expert can understand. This superb article is a good example. I pray that all of the Bishops taking part in the forthcoming Synod pay careful attention to it.

Monday, 21 July 2014

An Invitation to Blackfen for the Feast of St Alphonsus

Saturday 2 August is the feast of St Alphonsus Liguori in the old calendar, and in God's loving providence, this year it is the first Saturday of August, so we will have Missa Cantata at Blackfen at 10.30am. I'll be preaching on St Alphonsus (one of my favourite saints); I haven't composed the sermon yet, but following the great Doctor's example, I expect it will include some reflection on the four last things.

As this will be my last Saturday Missa Cantata at Blackfen (I am moving to Margate on 2 September) I would like to take this opportunity to invite any Hermeneutic of Continuity readers, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends to join us. After Mass, we will order pizza according to need, and the bar will be open. At 2.30pm there will be sung Vespers and Benediction.

No need to reply, just turn up if you can.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Some British diplomacy for papal interviews?


Following the news that Lord Patten of Barnes is to be the new communications supremo at the Holy See, I did wonder whether he might bring some British style diplomacy to what seems frankly a bit of a mess over the whole papal interview thing. You know - millions of commuters in London seeing the Metro front page claim that the Pope says that one in 50 priests is a pervert, dwarfing the news of Hamas threatening rocket attacks on Israel, Germany winning the World Cup, the Cabinet reshuffle and the forthcoming heatwave. A story like this was never going to get pushed to page 9 with the "Killer Gran who thought Cyclist was a Badger."

Here is the possible conversation that ran through my mind:
"Franco, Hi! Great to see you again, carissimo Papa! Shall we get down to the interview?"

"Sure, Eugenio. Have a seat. I trust you absolutely. Fire away my friend!"

"You know of course, Franco, I don't go for this recording-the-words gig - it's not very Italian."

"Hi, Eugenio, great to see you!" Lord Patten intervenes, oozing British charm you could bottle for Fortnum and Mason, "You know you're really very welcome and if I can speak on behalf of the Holy Father, we're all immensely grateful to you for taking the time to be with us. I do of course realise that Italian journalists dispense with slavishly recording every word: and what a jolly liberated way of carrying on that truly is! I hope you understand that here in the Holy See, we're a tad behind the times, and we do tend to want a, sort of, well, transcript of what the Holy Father actually said - you know, the words that in fact issued from the pontifical mouth, as it were. So if you can possibly bear it, and I know it's such a bore, I'll just put this little electronic thingy on the shelf over here. It won't intrude or make a noise or anything, and one of our chaps will just type it all up later. If you're interested, we can email over a copy to you."
Actually that wouldn't be all that British, come to think of it. Standard Operating Procedure would probably be to conceal the recorder anyway and not say anything about it. Then if it were necessary to quote some actually uttered words, His Lordship of Barnes could simply arrange for a minutante to pretend that he pressed the wrong button on his mobile phone and recorded the interview by accident.

Anything really would be better than what actually happened.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Confraternities of Catholic Clergy Rome Conference, January 2015


The American, Australian, British, and Irish Confraternities of Catholic Clergy will be represented at a Conference in Rome from 5-9 January 2015. The last conference was in 2010, and out of that conference came the desire to form Confraternities in Britain and Ireland. It was a stirring gathering and a great opportunity to meet priests from around the English-speaking world in the heart of Rome.

Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Burke, and Archbishop di Noia are featured in the programme, and you can guarantee that the rest of the line-up of speakers will also be inspiring and well worth travelling to hear. I will be attending the Conference myself and I warmly recommend it to brother priests.

For further details and registration, see the website: Confraternities of Catholic Clergy 2015 International Conference.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Film about the Claretian Martyrs of Barbastro



Thanks to the Eponymous Flower for notice of this film about the Claretian martyrs of Barbastro who were executed by the communists during the Spanish Civil War.

The film, directed by Pablo Moreno was given the "Silver Fish 2014" award for the best film, at the 5th International Catholic Film Festival Mirabile Dictu in Rome last month.

See the post A "Silver Fish” For “Un Dios prohibido” -- Catholic Film Festival Swims Against the Flow which has details of some of the other award winners.
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