Sunday, 13 August 2017

Seminarians in the soup

A few weeks ago the story emerged of a group of seminarians who after attending an ordination Mass took themselves off to the pub where they were refused service because the staff thought that men dressed in cassocks could only be part of a stag night celebration which they didn`t want to serve. The pub relented when the truth was discovered and went so far as to name one of their ales after the incident.

I belong to a group of priests who meet for lunch on a monthly basis. In May we chose a new pub. I said to the waitress as the six of us walked in that we were a stag do but clearly that was too ridiculous to be true and no upset occurred. We are a bit old for that kind of thing.

However what struck me as interesting about the story was that if in my day, in the 80`s, a group of seminarians had walked into a pub wearing cassocks their biggest problem would not have been whether the staff would serve them but what would be said to them when they got back to the seminary. Although there was a custom at Ushaw that seminarians from second year up could wear a cassock on a Sunday it was much frowned upon by the staff and I remember my interview for diaconate with the President of Ushaw was mainly devoted to asking why I chose to wear a cassock on a Sunday. I imagine if in the 80`s seminarians had gone for a drink in cassocks it would have been considered a formation issue with dire consequences. So things are more relaxed nowadays it seems. At least I hope so. The English College in Rome was very down on cassocks, apart from a few special occasions, in my experience in the 90`s and I`m not sure things have changed much although I`d like to hear otherwise. 

I have always worn the cassock for Mass in the parish. One of my favourite incidents came while I was a curate in Morpeth. Bishop Ambrose was on visitation and stood at the door greeting parishioners after Mass in his cassock. When I turned up in mine he asked me why I was wearing mine. I said I always did and he replied "How extraordinary!"

So well done to the seminarians. Here`s something else about cassocks.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Last Mass at Brinkburn

Brinkburn 2016
The annual Mass at Brinkburn Priory will take place on Saturday 9th September at 12 noon. This will be the twenty-third and last. The choir Antiphon will be singing the Missa L'homme arme' by Guillaume Dufay with the motets Benedicta et venerabilis by Byrd and Parsons Ave Maria. We will also have a Gregorian chant group led by David Edwards.  I`m hoping the Mass will be a Solemn High celebration but am still trying to confirm the sacred ministers. 

Last year after Mass the English Heritage lady in the cabin said she was concerned that we had been using candles and incense as these are not allowed in English Heritage properties for health and safety reasons. I can see this being the case for stately homes with many fabrics about but Brinkburn is made of stone apart from the sedilia. However, I wrote to English Heritage to get clarification but got no response. A week ago I wrote to English Heritage to confirm all was arranged for September 9th. I was told that it was but we must not use candles or incense. It was suggested we use electric candles which is what other people do. I thought this wasn`t allowed for Mass but anyway a Solemn High Mass without incense would be ridiculous so I assumed that was it. However this week English Heritage came back to me and said given the short notice of cancellation they were happy for the Mass to go ahead with incense and candles this time but not in the future. So there we have it after nearly a quarter of a century. I`ll miss Mass at Brinkburn as it is a glorious location. So I`m looking into other venues for the Hexham and Newcastle LMS day out.  We used to have a Mass at St Mary`s cathedral in Newcastle for a few years but have been told this year that that is not to happen. However I have a couple of other irons in the fire!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Summorum Pontificum at 10 again

Many thanks to Leo Darroch for giving his reflections on Summorum Pontificum on July 7th. His talk took us through from the beginnings of the struggle for the traditional Mass until the present. It was useful to be reminded of the story and to learn more of the background detail. 

One thing in particular struck me. Under the terms of the original indult for England and Wales Mass was celebrated at Esh Laude. This is an attractive and historic church but in a remote rural location.  However it was not far from Ushaw College, the seminary, as was, for the north, where I was studying, so it proved to be a convenient location from my point of view. Originally permission was given for Mass only three times a year. The then LMS diocesan rep, Jack Harvey, decided one year to ask for a fourth annual Mass to commemorate the anniversary of local martyrs.

Leo told the story thus:
In the late 1970s the LMS diocesan representative managed to obtain permission from the bishop for three Masses per year under the ‘English Indult’. They had to be late on a Wednesday evening in an isolated parish and no advertising was allowed. On one occasion the representative asked for a fourth Mass to commemorate the anniversary of four local Reformation martyrs. The bishop was furious and threatened that if he didn’t stop harassing him then he would stop the lot! Three Masses per year!!!

The bishop was bishop Lindsay. He retired in 1992 and died in 2009.  In his latter years we had a regular email correspondence, much of which I still have,  as he used to read Forest Murmurs and offered me his thoughts on the issues addressed. I was very sorry when I heard of his death as he had invited me to go to see him the following week to talk and, as he had been quite supportive in our meetings at diocesan events, I was very much looking forward to talking to him about it all.

There are rumours that Summorum Pontificum may be revoked. I can`t see how this is possible given the statement by pope Benedict that the traditional Roman missal had never been abrogated. (I had argued in my canon law tesina that it had been obrogated but not abrogated.) If such a thing happens then many may take inspiration from bishop Lindsay`s successor, bishop Ambrose Griffiths, who said that when he got new instructions from Rome he put them in the bottom draw of his desk and left them there.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

More Good news from diocese of Lancaster: Institute of Christ the King gets second church in Preston

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Delighted to see this today. The Institute of Christ the King recently announced they are opening a school in Preston. Now they have a second church. I was interested to read this as a friend of mine was a curate in English Martyrs and I used to go to visit. A fabulous church and so good that it will be staffed by the Institute. Let`s hope they one day cross the Pennines and open up in Hexham and Newcastle.

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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Summorum Pontificum at 10

This Friday is a significant day. Not only does our bishop, Seamus Cunningham, turn 75 and so reach the age at which his resignation must be submitted to the Holy See but it also marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of Summorum Pontificum. Nothing much seems to be going on in the diocese to mark this anniversary so I thought to do something. We are having a Missa Cantata on Friday at 7pm to give thanks. The Mass will be for the feast of SS Cyril and Methodius who are not without liturgical significance,  but after Mass there will be a talk from our own Leo Darroch, former president of Una Voce International, the umbrella committee for the societies throughout the world which seek to promote the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy.

Leo will talk to us about his perspective on the ten years of SP. He has just written a history of Una Voce for the period 1964-2003 which is about to be published by Gracewing. The flyer by Lord Gill says:

This book is a straightforward document. It eschews the debate on the merits of the old rite an the shortcomings of the new. I does not dwell on the consequences to Cathlic liturgy of the introduction of the Novus Ordo. It simply records in unemotional detail the ways in which for nearly forty years faithful Catholics were denied access to the old rite.

Sounds like an essential read and quite a hefty one too at five hundred pages. So if you`d like to hear Leo Darroch`s reflections on Summorum Pontificum then do come on Friday night. The talk will be about forty minutes with an opportunity for questions. Refreshments will be available too.
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Leo Darroch and Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Warrington Ordinations

Sadly I couldn`t make the ordinations for the FSSP on Saturday. It would have been wonderful to be there. If asked thirty years ago which diocese in England would be the first to hold ordinations according to the traditional books I would never have thought it would have been Liverpool, then with archbishop Worlock in charge. How things change. Let`s hope there`s more of this kind of thing to come! Congratulations to the newly ordained. Ad multos annos!

I think they get their vestments (non tumblerdryer friendly) from the same shop as I do!.

For more click here.

Sunday, 18 June 2017


This is timely. I was talking to a priest recently, telling him how a
mutual friend had asked advice about where to buy a special vestment
which a parishioner had given a large sum to buy. I was surprised when this priest said his main concern in buying vestments are whether they are washable. Not
something on my list of priorities! Oh and I have someone coming to fix
my washer/dryer tomorrow.

Thanks to Laurence England