From 'Mementoes of the Martyrs' : "...which provoked a Frenchman who was there to comment on the strange ways of the English, "those who are for the pope are hanged, those who are against him are burned:"                                               Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!

"THE KING AND THE CATHOLICS"

The editor of this blog thoroughly commends to you, during this election period of hyperbole, hollow rhetoric and vitriol in the Brexit battle (whichever side you have adopted), the wonderful new book by Lady Antonia Fraser - "The King and the Catholics - the Fight for Rights 1829", a history of Catholic Emancipation. Whether as a grotesque sense of parliamentary déja-vu, or as a welcome diversion from our present equally unending (but less erudite) debates, this volume is un-put-downable.

It has been observed by some commentators in recent weeks that, just short of the 2nd centenary of Emancipation, Catholics are again being excluded by the Establishment (which perhaps we never truly rejoined) from the political realm, and this lends this volume a further piquancy.

Antonia Fraser is a friend from childhood of many members of our Order, and one of the most delightful historical story-tellers of the modern age. Every Catholic residing in Britain and Ireland should read this book.



TRASPONTINA FOLLOW-UP

Following our post HERE, and in response to several email enquiries from within the Order, we post the following follow-up videos. It is not the place of this organ to provide commentary, merely to offer information in a spirit of Tuitio Fidei.

Firstly, herewith a video of the protagonist, which offers a fulsome apologetic presentation. (We offer this video in a version from a respected Italian news site, with a short introduction in Italian.)


Secondly an act of reparation from one who should know, a faithful priest of the Amazon region.


Readers are invited to draw their own conclusions, and to act according to their consciences. Above all the correct response is prayer and conformity to the mind of Holy Mother Church.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.

SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN AND THE MASS

Bust of Newman by our confrere Neil Weir, 2019 
We are deeply indebted to Father Mark Elliott-Smith of the Ordinariate for his inspiring talks on Newman, given at last month's Recollection. They are given here for the benefit both of those who could not attend, and those who heard them and wish to reflect further, a study which they greatly merit.
‘Thy sacred body vibrating under the heavy flail as trees under the blast.’ Newman was a poet, and that phrase shows it. But he was also an unflinching poet. He looked reality square on. The first part of the Dream of Gerontius describes the dying of a faithful devout sinner. It chronicles the fear, the terror in the face of the bodily disintegration that is dying: ‘this pouring out of each constituent... this natural force by which I come to be...’ So Newman was not afraid to confront his reader with the graphic, and the depiction of Christ’s sufferings that we have just heard gives us an insight into his understanding of the Mass.

Of course, Newman was very much a product of his age: suffering was very visible around him: poverty and sickness and death were very visible, and very close by. We, by by contrast, live in a very anaesthetised society. Thank God, although people still suffer greatly, medical progress has meant longer pain free living, and end of life care to, very often, pain free dying. In the progress we have made, we have also rather airbrushed death out of the picture, and prefer not to think about it until we have to. Victorians thought about it all the time, the death of little Nell springs to mind, and the use by Victoria of deep mourning, an example followed by the general population, kept death very much in the forefront of Victorian society. Newman cannot have been any different from his countrymen in this regard. 

Indeed, I would contend that his vivid imagination, with which he was born, was one of the most significant factors in his Eucharistic understanding. His ability to enter so deeply into the wounds of Jesus, to shelter in his wounds, you might say, provided the fuel for his argument: ‘Such a sacrifice was not to be forgotten. It could not be a mere event in the world’s history. If that great deed was..what we know it is, it must remain present.a standing fact for all times.’ This, surely, was no new insight for Newman. It was not something that came to him after 1845, when he implored Dominic Barberi to reconcile him to the Catholic Church. This was a reflection that was long in the making: ‘our own careful reflection upon it tells us this.’

Here again, we see what Newman is doing. He is not, repeat not, telling us anything else about the Church’s teaching that we don’t already know, or what Catholics have always believed and taught. It is part of his assent, his docility, to the authority of the Church, ‘and her teachings as her own.’ His creativity, his imagination, his poetry, his intellect, are directed towards one end: to elucidate that teaching, to enable us to enter more deeply into it, not merely by way of the intellect, but by way of imagination and love: Heart speaks unto Heart. So the news of the Sacrifice is ‘most touching and joyful’ and ‘carries with it the full assent and sympathy of our reason.’

And the heart’s response? ‘My Lord, I offer thee myself in turn as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.’ Traces here of his former Anglicanism? These words, from the prayer book Communion service will have imprinted themselves on his formidable memory:

“And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee;” from the prayer of oblation.

But also Newman, more than anything else, draws our attention, first and foremost to the Sacrifice of the Mass. Such was the almost unimaginable suffering of Calvary, the suffering of the God Man, that its significance and its reconciling power are not confined to time, but present at every Mass throughout eternity, and the mark of Jesus, a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek, is indelibly conferred on those whom he calls to be another Christ.

Newman’s canonisation has been very timely: his writings are still so fresh and so vivid that they speak to us today as powerfully, if not more so, than when written. In a society so different in so many ways to the one in which he flourished, that vivid, graphic language jolts us awake in a way that much modern prose fails to do.

Talking of which... “The Church aims, not at making a show, but at doing a work. She regards this world, and all that is in it, as a mere shadow, as dust and ashes, compared with the value of one single soul. She holds that, unless she can, in her own way, do good to souls, it is no use her doing anything; she holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse.” Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching (1850) (Lecture 8)

Now, I know that Newman knew all the rhetorical tricks, and used them, and he exaggerated for effect; and I am equally sure that he would be just as concerned for the fate of the earth, and how we are responsible for its well being as any, but I could wish, in the fever of his canonisation, we remembered just how passionate was Newman’s understanding of what the Church is, and what its task is, namely to call souls back from the brink of destruction and, through her sacramental life, to lead them to Heaven. Perhaps I shouldn’t, but I can’t help wondering out loud what he would have to say about the present ecclesial craze for environmental friendliness.quo

In the Mass, we are brought, disgusted by our own sin, to Calvary, and confronted by the horror, the wonder, and the beauty of our redemption. 

From the sermon The Religion of the Pharisee, the Religion of Mankind (1856)
“It is the sight of God, revealed to the eye of faith, that makes us hideous to ourselves, from the contrast which we find ourselves to present to that great God at whom we look. It is the vision of Him in His infinite gloriousness, the All-holy, the All-beautiful, the All-perfect, which makes us sink into the earth with self-contempt and self-abhorrence.”

Although I yield to no one in holding to the principle that the beauty of liturgy should capture the heart and make us fall in love with God, or that it should, in the very best sense, be fun, so too it should make us ever mindful that, “Domine non sum dignus...” it is at his word, that is to say, the Incarnate Word, that we are ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.

We are contented with ourselves till we contemplate Him.It is only when we have a sense of sin, as Newman so clearly had, that we can have a true sense of forgiveness. Not just of our individual shortcomings or tendencies or habits, but how those individual shortcomings, tendencies and habits are related to our primordial separation from God. Only so, can we recover the sense of wonder at how wonderfully, and yet how simply, we are reconciled: through the Cross, by the power of the Resurrection, made present each time we go unto the Altar of God.

Part Two

Quote: the Food of the Soul

One thing we should never forget about Newman. Although he had travelled extensively in Italy, and although he was undoubtedly undergoing the process that would ultimately bring him into the full communion of the Catholic Church, he studiously avoided, while still an Anglican, going to Catholic acts of worship.

He wrote this to a close friend: “When I have been in Churches abroad, I have religiously abstained from acts of worship, though it was a most soothing comfort to go into them – nor did I know what was going on; I neither understood nor tried to understand the Mass service...” Don’t you love that? The Mass service! It almost feels slightly naive. 

But what is perhaps even more remarkable is that it was the presence of the Tabernacle in Catholic Churches that, more than anything else, impressed itself upon him. He wrote about it constantly; indeed, he was to assert that he had not understood what worship actually was until he entered the Catholic Church. To an Anglican friend, (how good he was at keeping his Anglican friendships in good repair!) he wrote this:

“I am writing next room to the Chapel – It is such an incomprehensible blessing to have Christ in bodily presence in one’s house, within one’s walls, as swallows up all other privileges … To know that He is close by – to be able again and again through the day to go in to Him …”

(We must might pause to observe, yet again, how Newman’s devotion to the presence of our Lord in the Tabernacle, and its role in his conversion might speak to today’s Church. The prominence, the pre-eminence of the Tabernacle, its distant glimmering lamp, was undoubtedly a kindly light that led him on).

For all the romance of Newman’s nature (indeed, ‘unromantic’ was occasionally used by him as a criticism: his teachers, Jesuits actually, though gifted academically, were described by him as ‘plodding, methodical, unromantic’), he was a realist, both practically and theologically. Even as an Anglican, his view on the Eucharist pointed towards a belief in the Real Presence:
“The bearing, then, of our Lord's sacred words would seem to be as follows, if one may venture to investigate it.  At Capernaum, in the chapter now before us [John 6], He solemnly declares to His Apostles that none shall live for ever, but such as eat and drink His flesh and blood; and then afterwards, just before He was crucified, as related in the other three Gospels, He points out to them the way in which this mystery of grace was to be fulfilled in them. He assigns the consecrated Bread as that Body of which He had spoken, and the consecrated Wine as His Blood; and in partaking of the Bread and the Cup, they were partakers of His Body and Blood.” (Newman, 1842/1869, online, 139).
It is the same Chapter 6 that underlies his meditation: ‘to whom should I go but to Thee? Who can save me but Thou?” And here the romance, the love affair with God truly kicks in. All the gifts of intellect and reason, his passionate search after truth, the argument, the satire, are all fuelled by that beating heart, that senses the presence of another Heart, beating with love for humanity, and from whom streams a grace that draws those who respond like a moth to a flame. ‘I come in great fear, but in greater love.’ 
In all this, I want to make a very simple point: Newman’s own understanding of the Mass very naturally changed as he moved towards, and eventually embraced, the Catholic Church. But even as an Anglican, while not assenting to the doctrine of Transubstantiation, he accepted that the presence of our Lord in the bread and wine was real, that the gift of the Eucharist was a high mystery, even if celebrated on what he then described as a lowly table, and that those who approached received the precious Body and Blood of the Lord. As a Catholic, and a Priest, he became even more aware of that Presence, at once both homely and mysterious and divine, made present on the Altar, living in the Tabernacle, and feeding the deepest hunger and meeting the deepest thirst. Newman’s Faith, for all its rigour, is essentially a homely faith, arising from a homely nature. When Newman made his famous remark about converts, that his old friends think him good riddance, and his new friends are cold and strange, he speaks to the experience of all those who make this journey, even if old friendships are eventually repaired, and new friendships become warm. But that remark tells us much about Newman, his desire for warmth, and a love of hearth and home. In later life he would write: “I am so much the creature of hours, rooms, and of routine generally, that to go from home is almost like tearing off my skin...”
I mention it, because I think it shapes his faith, and has something to say to us today, about a God who is not remote, but a God who is homely, and makes His home among us, tabernacles with us, because his Heart is such that he cannot bear to leave us. To do so would be to tear his skin off, and so He is always present, He cannot leave us alone, and so the light will always glimmer over the Tabernacle, to the comfort of all those who, whatever their state of life, enter the Church where he is found. Always present, because he has left his indelible mark on men who stand at the Altar and offer the Sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world. Always at home with us, and wanting us to be at home with him. Newman did so much for the Church, and we can hope that one day, he will be declared its next Doctor, but I hope that one of the things that we will give thanks for is that he shows us that faith, the Mass, the Church, her teaching, is all about our home, and our heavenly homeland, to which Newman’s kindly light leads us.
Saint John Henry, pray for us.

NOVEMBER INDULGENCES FOR THE DEAD

Do not, pray, miss out on the opportunity to fulfil the greatest act of charity possible, to release faithful souls from Purgatory. Every day this week, from today, 1st to 8th of November, a Plenary Indulgence may be obtained, as below. There are 309 members of the British Association, so together we could release 2,472 souls, one each every day. Not to mention the Companions and OMV. It is hard to imagine a more fruitful work, with lasting benefits.
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For the faithful departed 
§ 1. A plenary indulgence, applied exclusively to the souls in Purgatory, is granted to the Christian faithful who:

1° on each single day, from the first to the eighth day in November, devoutly visit a cemetery and, even if only mentally, pray for the faithful departed; [Note: one plenary indulgence for each day, if the usual conditions are met]

2° on the day of Commemoration of All Faithful Departed [November 2] (or, according to the Ordinary, on the preceding or subsequent Sunday, or on the day of the solemnity of All Saints) piously visit a church or oratory and there recite the Pater and the Credo

(Reference: Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 4th edition, al. concessions.)

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace.