Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Happy Christmas

On Christmas Eve, we will place ourselves once again before the Crib to contemplate, astonished, the "Word made flesh." Sentiments of joy and gratitude, like in every year, are renewed in our hearts as we hear the melodies of Christmas carols, which sing of, in so many languages, the same, extraordinary miracle. The Creator of the universe, out of love, came to make his dwelling among men. In the Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul affirms that Christ, "though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (2:6). He appeared in human form, adds the Apostle, humbling himself. At holy Christmas we will relive the realization of this sublime mystery of grace and mercy.

Pope Benedict XVI 21.12.06

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Mass Times

St Joseph`s Gateshead

Christmas Eve: 5pm (with carols from 4.30pm).
Christmas Day: 10.30am

St Wilfrid`s Gateshead

Christmas Eve: 7.30pm (with carols from 7pm)
                          Midnight (with carols from 11.30pm) Extraordinary Form.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Foreign Practices

There`s something that has been on my mind for a while. In November I offer to bless graves of parishioners` family members and friends. When I returned to Gateshead this was not an issue as my predecessor, Fr Dixon (the diocesan liturgist) had been following the same practice. Not a lot of parishioners come but those who do are very grateful to have their deceased remembered and prayed for in this way. However this year I heard of a priest who was asked to do this and declined. There may be many reasons for this some of them even legitimate, but what fascinated me was the reason actually given. He said he wouldn`t do it as it was a foreign practice. This struck me as a strange response given that Christianity itself was an import to this country. Does he participate in the Eucharist? Is it not a foreign practice? How abut using the Bible: was it not originally written in funny foreign languages? If we adopt this criterion for what we will and won`t do the only option is to paint ourselves blue and go to greet the summer solstice at the nearest stone circle while sacrificing a few humans occasionally.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Rubrical Questions

Here at St Joseph`s we have a keen young couple, Andrew and Jayne, who have been coming to the EF Mass for about six months now. Andrew has learnt to serve Low Mass and often has questions which I do my best to answer. One of the recent ones was why is there a double ablution at the EF Mass and only a single one at the OF? I didn`t have an answer to hand so consulted Jungmann. I was interested to read that the first ablution is to purify the mouth lest any fragments of the host remain in the mouth which may even be expelled. The second is for the fingers and the sacred vessels. However I was even more intrigued to read that there was a long neglected rubric in the Ritus Servandus which requires that when the faithful communicate they should then be offered wine mixed with water and a linen towel to purify the mouth. The reference given is Rit. serv.10.6 but I haven`t been able to track it down. I wondered whether the practice should be re-introduced as clearly this was the mind of the Church (although it didn`t make it to the 1962 rubrics). It would at least make less offensive that expression `taking the wine` often heard among Catholics which makes me wonder why we bother at all.

This set me thinking. There is a section of traditionalists who demand absolute adherence to the rubrics of 62. I must admit I`m not one. I bow my head to the cross for the Holy Name and expect there to be a Confiteor before Communion. I do go along with sitting down for the Epistle at a High Mass but after the Una Voce conference liturgies where at every High Mass the pre-62 arrangement was observed I`m begin to wonder about this too. And I`d like a few more collects etc but stick to 62 to avoid confusion. After all the 1962 missal was in force for only a few years before the next revised rubrics came along. I wonder whether the equivalent of the present 62 police were fuming for centuries because the faithful weren`t offered wine, water and a linen cloth after Communion.

Which brings me to another thing. The 62 rubrics do talk about the consecration candle for Low Mass. They say that where the custom exists it should be preserved. (It had previously been mandatory but largely ignored.) My good friend, Fr Briggs of Chislehurst, is a great devotee of the consecration candle and to such an extent he has introduced it into the OF as a praeter legem custom. I have yet to hear any calls from the 62 enthusiasts for its reinstatement, presumably because 62 does not make it mandatory. So I`ve decided to restore it. (To his credit a 62 enthusiast here greeted this with approval.)

I know we have to have order and discipline but I think there is room for local variations which are sanctioned by long-standing custom. Eventually a consensus will emerge. I`ve never been that keen on positive law for its own sake. Maybe I`m a terrible liberal!

I`ve just noticed Fr Z blogged about this a couple of weeks ago. I borrowed the picture from him. As for rules about the numer of candles at Mass I have no idea what is going on in the picture. it must be Mass coram Sanctissimo during the 40 Hours I presume although it`s not too clear.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

St Joseph`s, Gateshead 1954

Here is another picture from the archives. This one is clearly dated to 1954 as it was framed and given to Fr Landreth to celebrate his Silver Jubilee of ordination that year. This is a photograph of the original which I couldn`t remove from it`s holder to get onto the scanner. I think we should have a Spot the Difference competition! I said last time I think this one is later than the other as the stencilling is simplified. Our Lady has acquired a set of electric lights and two door-type structures have replaced the curtains at the sides of the high altar. For those who believe the last one was printed in reverse, it seems very odd that yet another should be and once again the wording on the high altar is not in reverse so it does seem the pulpit was on the epistle side. I`ll post a picture soon of the Sacred Heart chapel in it`s pre-wreckovation state to show the original altar from Mirk Lane from 1852 which was smashed and disposed of during the re-ordering.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Infant King

I had an email from Jacqueline Stein, outreach officer for the ICKSP, regarding their novena to the Infant King. There is an interview with the Canons from the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, IL in regards to the monthly Infant King novena. You can find it here.

The interview is extremely informative and interesting. It's broken into 3 parts for readers: 

1) About the Infant King Statue
2) About the Devotion to the Infant King
3) About the practice of the Novena to the Infant King at the Shrine in Chicago, IL

Maybe one day we might see an ICKSP shrine on the banks of the Tyne. Stranger things have happened!

Monday, 2 December 2013

St Joseph`s, Gateshead, as it was.

I am interested to find out more about the history of St Joseph`s. In the room off the sacristy, with the title, the Ingram Hall, (originally the sacristy proper), there are a number of old photos of the church. There are two of the sanctuary. Here is one. I`ll scan the other eventually. I suspect this is the older of the two as the other lacks the stencilling, the candelabra and replaces the curtains on either side of the high altar with doors.

I`d be interested to knnow if any photos exist of the church as it was in 1859 when new. I find it hard to believe that the pinnacle above the tabernacle was original as it blocks out the stained glass behind. I wonder where it went?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Katherine of Alexandria

A few years ago we had the film Agora which dealt with the life and death of Hypatia, the female pagan philosopher of Alexandria, who refused to convert to Christianity. An interesting topic for a film I thought: I never thought to see St Cyril of Alexandria portrayed on the big screen! However the film was somewhat disappointing in its stereotyping. Christians were depicted as fanatics who wore black while pagans were virtuous and wore white. The chief Christian evangelist was a dodgy character. The exception was bishop Synesius of Cyrene, a former pupil of Hypatia, who was a good Christian. I was surprised the film didn`t latch on to the one quote I know of his, regarding his conversion, when he said in 410, he would become a bishop on condition that while he might `speak in  myths` in church, he should be free to `think as a philospher` in private. He also got the concession that he could keep his wife.

So it will be interesting to see what they make of Catherine of Alexandria, the Christian version of Hypatia in that she was also a philosopher. Facts about her are rather thin on the ground so anything could happen. Nonetheless it has drawn Peter O`Toole out of retirement at 82 to take a major part. Here is the trailer:

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Lost Deacon

I`ve never worked with a permanent deacon before but on coming to this parish in August I found we had a permanent deacon, Osaro. I thought this was a good thing as it would be useful to have help around the place especially with baptisms as I`d been over-run with them at Forest Hall. 

Osaro is from Nigeria and had been in junior seminary there before transferring to the Netherlands to study with the Society of African Missions (SMA fathers). He left seminary there, married, raised a family and started training for the permanent diaconate. He finished this training in this diocese and was ordained a deacon on 18th June 2011. 

As mentioned below St Joseph`s has an African Mass once a month and a few weeks ago Osaro was appointed to be diocesan chaplain to the African community. 

This Sunday gone the African Mass was due to take place. Osaro informed me that a priest had agreed to come to say the Mass. However on Saturday night, at St Wilfrid`s, three men of the African group informed me that Osaro had emailed the to say he wasn`t coming back. I knew nothing about this. I hadn`t even had an email. On Sunday morning before the 9am Mass the bishop rang to tell me Osaro had decided to leave the Catholic Church and join the C of E!  He hopes to be ordained to the Anglican priesthood. The African community were completely stunned. 

I told people at the three Sunday morning Masses what had happened.I said we should thank God for the work Osaro did in his time here and keep him in our prayers. What does concern me though is that I suppose we are rather slow nowadays to say that we believe the Catholic Church to be that founded by Christ and entrusted to St Peter and his successors and that the fullness of truth is found in her. I suspect many young people have no idea of the claims the Catholic Church makes about herself and see all churches as much the same. It`s belief in the claims of the Catholic Church that keep me part of her when here is so much to be disheartened about. 

As it happens we have alarmingly few baptisms in these parishes. However it is sad to lose Osaro and he will be in my prayers.

Osaro, if you read this would you mind returning the front door key?!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rome LMS Pilgrimage

I was pleased once again to be asked to be a chaplain on a Latin Mass Society pilgrimage from November 7th-12th. I had been twice to Lourdes with the LMS as chaplain when another priest had found he was unable to go. I had thought I would like to go with the LMS on their Rome pilgrimage so was delighted to be asked when again the scheduled priest found he couldn`t make it. Mgr Gordon Read was the main chaplain. What I particularly enjoy about these pilgrimages apart from using the Extraordinary Form each day is hearing the about the experiences of the pilgrims in adhering to the EF. There were quite a number of converts among the pilgrims and it`s always interesting to hear the stories of those who were received into the Church in the 1950`s and find out how they survived the subsequent decades when much they had signed up for changed beyond recognition. On a personal note I found much common ground with one pilgrim, Peter, as we had both belonged to the Discalced Carmelites: he as a brother for six years in the 1950`s and me for six months in 1982 but we knew many people in common and I was interested to hear about Carmelite life in the 50`s. I always thought the Discalced Carmelites started going downhill once they no longer had a skull in the refectory!

The timetable for the pilgrimage was very light. Only Mass and Vespers were scheduled each day.
Mass in chapel  of the choir, St Peter`s  Photo courtesy of Joseph Shaw`s Flickr page
Our trip coincided with the annual conference of Una Voce International which consisted of delegates from different countries so we made up the numbers for the services.Sometimes we had Mass or Vespers in the Chapel of the Choir at St Peter`s. The rest of the time we used the chapel at the Casa Maria Immacolata in the Via Ezio which was about a half hour walk away from the place we were staying at S. Maria alle Fornaci. Sadly the chapel was lacking many items we needed such as an altar missal which meant trying to celebrate Missa Cantata on the Friday morning using the propers from the pilgrimage booklet and the ordinary from the red booklet that is often used at EF Masses. However the sacristans were friendly and no-one made things difficult for us. Joseph Shaw has written up an account of the liturgies we had with many photos. I was very happy to be subdeacon for High Mass at St Peter`s on Monday. Our celebrant, a former director of the Cappella Julia, had an eclectic approach to the rubrics but that`s nothing new. We skipped the Judica Me but then before communion and before Mgr Read could even think of singing the Confiteor before Communion he gave the absolution. I was interested to see that at the other High Masses we had not onnly was the Confiteor before Communion always sung but the celebrant stayed at the missal to read the epistle which is not very 1962 but does make things rather simpler.

So there was plenty of spare time and some of the pilgrims proved very intrepid explorers. First prize must go to Brian who took himself off to Assisi for the day but almost impressive was a group that went to Castle Gandolfo. Others explored the sights of the city. One trip that was scheduled was a visit to the English College where we were given a guided tour by the rector himself, the ever-gracious Mgr Whitmore. Although I had lived in the college for two years I went along and learnt a few things I didn`t know and enjoyed seeing the restoration work to the main chapel. We had asked about having a Mass at the college being a place of interest for English pilgrims and in accordance with Summorum Pontificum (Art 5.3 For faithful and priests who request it, the pastor should also allow celebrations in this extraordinary form for special circumstances such as marriages, funerals or occasional celebrations, e.g. pilgrimages). However Mgr Whitmore refused our request for a Mass on the grounds that the college church was not equipped for it and the Martyrs` chapel is used for personal prayer but apparently couldn`t be used for Mass.

The Martyrs` chapel: unsuitable for the Extraordinary Form
Mgr kindly suggested we have Mass at the nearby FSSP church where I did say Mass on the Sunday morning but beautiful as it is it doesn`t have the significance for English Catholics the Venerabile does. On Saturday morning in St Peter`s the celebrant of our Mass was Mgr Soseman of the Congregation for clergy who also acts as teacher of the Extraoardinary Form for students at the North American College. I imagine it will be a while before the English College employs such a tutor! 

 On Sunday afternoon we attended the open Meeting of the Una Voce conference here the speakers were Abbot Cassian Folsom of Norcia and Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos. It was very interesting to hear the abbot`s account of how he came to the Extraordinary Form and came to refound monastic life in St Benedict`s birthplace. Also interesting was the cardinal who told us of his meeting with Pope Francis and who assured us the pope has no problem at all with the Extraordinary Form. The current difficulties with the Franciscans of the Immaculate are an internal matter and of no significance to the status of Summorum Pontificum.I was pleased to meet Albert E. Doskey from Una Voce Cuba who worked out I was the author of Forest Murmurs and had extremely kind words to say about it. I think that was the only time my blogging got a mention on the trip. Also it was good to see Rodolfo, former secretary of Una Voce, again and catch up with an old friend from days at the Greg Fr Bob the Jesuit. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Silver Jubilee concluded

On Tuesday night I celebrated an EF Mass to mark the day of  my 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. There was a good turnout despite the cold and a number of priest friends hda travelled from aruond the contry to be there. Afterwards at a reception in the parish hall, Leo Darroch, the out-going president of Una Voce International said a few words and made a presentation of a reversable purle and white vestment, as well as a set of Una Voce cufflinks. Many thanks to everyone especially those who prepared the church and food.

Now it`s back to normal for what feels like the first time since I arrived here in August! Here are some pictures courtesy of Gabriella again.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Silver Jubilee

Today is the twenty-fith anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.  I still intend to write about the LMS Rome pilgrimage but as might be magined things have been rather busy since I got back.

Here I was twenty-five years ago.

Today I`m particularly remembering in prayer my parents, bishop Lindsay and Fr Kevin Gallagher (my spiritual director for many years and preacher at my first Mass). May they rest in peace.

We celebrated with an OF Mass on Saturday which my brothers and their families travelled to be at.  Here are a few pictures.

Thanks to Gabriella for the pictures. Tonight there will be a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Many thanks to all who have helped me reach twenty-five years in the priesthood. Please say a prayer for me.

Laus Deo semper

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Francis Effect

I got back from Rome on Tuesday this week having been there for six days with the Latin Mass Society as assistant chaplain on the pilgrimage. I`ll write about that soon.Before that I noticed this article on the `Francis effect` in Italy.It seems that hundreds of thousands of Catholics have returned to the Church as a result of his election. I can`t say I`ve noticed a similar effect here but it appears he is the most talked about person on the internet which is quite something.

Here is the article about Italy from CBS
A new study has found that “hundreds of thousands” of Italians have returned to the practice of Catholicism because of the new pope.
“It’s a massive, and even spectacular result,” Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne explained to the National Catholic Reporter.
Introvigne conducted a national survey one month after the March 13 election of Pope Francis where he interviewed pastors throughout the country who reported significant increases in turnout for Mass and demand for confession.  He repeated the same survey six months later to determine if those results were attributable to what he called “religious effervescence”, or if they seemed to represent something more lasting.
In the sample of 250 diocesan clergy and religious priests throughout the country, Introvigne found that 50.8 percent still reported above-normal Mass attendance and requests for the sacrament of reconciliation.
“The relevant point,” he wrote in his new book called II segreto di Papa Francesco, “is that at a distance of six months from the first survey and seven months from the beginning of the pontificate, the phenomenon of the ‘Francis effect’ gives no sign of reflux, but instead is consolidating itself.”
He offers an estimate of the number of those enticed by Pope Francis to become active practicers of the faith.
“Since we’re dealing with half of the parishes and church communities on a national scale,” he wrote in his book, “we have to be talking about hundreds of thousands of people in Italy that have come closer to the church by welcoming the invitations of Pope Francis.”
“This ‘Francis effect is not disappearing with the passage of time, but enduring,” he stated.

Monday, 4 November 2013

St Joseph`s Church, Gateshead

When I was at Forest Hall I used to say all I wanted was a fixed main altar and a proper organ. Well there were quite a lot of other things I would have liked, such as a baroque Roman basilica,  but these seemed to me to be essentials and it was hard to make progress without them. The altar at Forest Hall was simply a table-type construction which was not fixed. So imagine my joy when I got sent to St Joseph`s which has both these things. There are some pictures of the church around on the Internet but I thought some more detailed ones may be of interest.

I rely for the history of the parish on the solemnly-titled `Down Your Aisles` which gives a history of the diocese and quite a number of parish histories from the diocese drawn from a once regular feature in the diocesan paper entitled Down Your Aisle.

The article on St Joseph`s recounts the history of Catholicism in Gateshead after the Reformation. Much centred round Gateshead House, next to St Edmund`s chapel, on the High Street, which was the home of the recusant  Riddell family. The Riddells sheltered Jesuits in the late 17th century and most of the 18th. Gateshead House was stormed by a mob in 1746. A writer of 1575 contrasted the good Protestants of Gateshead with the people of Newcastle who were virtually `all papists. However when Bishop Williams OP visited Gateshead in 1729 he confirmed 100 people. In 1767 the Papist Returns listed 58 recusants in the Gateshead area. By 1851 the population of Gateshead was 25,570 of whom 3,000 were Catholics, 1,554 of Irish background.

In 1851 Fr Betham was sent from St Andrews, Newcastle to take up residence in St Catherine`s Terrace in Gateshead. For Sunday Mass the top storey of a warehouse in Hillgate was used and interestingly was known as Our Lady and St Wilfrid`s, the dedication of my other parish opened in 1903 on Sunderland Road. After a fire in 1854 the venue was changed to the Long Room in the Queen Head`s Hotel in Mirk Lane until St Joseph`s was opened in 1859.  Fr Betham left the diocese in 1854 to join the Jesuits and was replaced by Fr Consitt. Bishop Hogarth solemnly blessed the church on July 5th 1859. It cost £3,000 and could seat 1,000.

Well here are the pictures:

The former Sacred Heart chapel with the seven sacraments window. Detailed pictures below. This chapel used to contain the original altar from Mirk Lane. Parishioners can still remember it being smashed up.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Following a request from bishop`s house at all Masses this weekend we united ourselves with Pope Francis as he consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary today in the presence of the Statue of Our Lady of the Rosary from the Capelinha (Little Chapel of the Apparitions) from Fatima.

We united ourselves with the Holy Father today by saying the consecration prayer at Mass.

Consecration Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we consecrate ourselves, in an act of total entrustment and of oblation to the Lord.
By you we will be led to Christ your Son, and Only-Begotten Son of God, and by Him and with Him to His Eternal Father. We shall walk in the light of faith, of hope and of love so that the world may believe that Christ is the One sent by the Father to give to us His word, and we, as His ambassadors, shall carry His knowledge and love to the ends of the earth. 

Thus under the maternal protection of your Immaculate Heart, we will be one people with Christ, ransomed by His death and witnesses of His Resurrection, and by Him led to the Father for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity Whom we adore, praise and bless. Amen

Friday, 11 October 2013

A Day in Darlington

A recent development in the diocese has been a new venue for the Extraordinary Form at St Augustine`s, Darlington. This started as a monthly Mass on a Wednesday, became a weekly Mass in Lent and now is reverting to a monthly Mass. Tomorrow I`ve been asked to travel to the south to sng a Missa Canata for the feast of St Wilfrid. This is being preceded by a servers training day and there will be an exhibition of vestments and missals and items of interest. I`m looking forward to saying Mass in this lovely church at 2pm.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Move update

Interestingly, I get more daily visitors to Forest Murmurs than to this blog. I`m still getting comments on Forest Murmurs and have recently acquired two more followers! A good number of visitors here also come here after visiting my old blog. I didn`t think it made sense to keep the old name now I have left Forest Hall but this one is taking a while to get settled in. I still have things to transfer from the other blog here but hope it will be all done soon.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Fabric of Britain

Just before I forget again this BBC4 programme is a must for anyone interested in the history of vestments. It focuses on the Opus Anglicanum from the High Middle Ages which was much sought after throughout Europe and which thanks to the work of the Reformers largely survived on the continent. There are some quite remarkable pieces of work. Also featured for about eight seconds are the hands of well-known LMS MC Richard Hawker as he lays out vestments in Watts and co!

Can be viewed until October 13th. Click here to view.

Settling In

Well I`ve been back in Gateshead over a month now and I am still regularly asked how am I settling in. I reply `slowly`. However it is going well. I have a very heavy schedule of weekend Masses with a vigil Mass at St Wilfrid`s at 6pm on Saturday, then three Masses on a Sunday morning at St Joseph`s. the 9am is a quiet OF Mass with no singing. At 10.30 there is a sung English OF Mass. I`m pleased to say we have a small but enthusiastic group of singers and I like what they do. We are fortunate to have an organist too.The Mass starts with the entrance antiphon I am delighted to say, sung to a psalm tone after which there is the opening hymn. The ordinary of the Mass is sung, apart from the Kyrie, and with organ accompaniment.  The EF Mass follows at 12. Attendance has increased dramatically since the demise of he Sunday EF Mass at St Dominic`s, Newcastle and I would say it makes more sense to have one well-attended Mass rather than two small congregations on each bank of the Tyne. This is normally a Low Mass but I am very keen to increase the number of sung Sunday Masses as Low Mass feels somewhat less than one might hope for on a Sunday. I hope we will have a sung Mass every fortnight. We are trying to recruit singers as the schola is only two strong and we have no organist.

Once a month there is an African Mass at 2pm and I said that too last Sunday. I hope we will get a rota of priests from the diocese to help but 2pm on a Sunday afternoon is not a hugely popular time. The singing is accompanied by percussion, mainly drums. The music was lively and enthusiastically sung. I had wondred whether a solution might be to have the Missa Luba so we could combine the African and Latin Mass! It would make for an interesting article in Mass of Ages!

Each of these Masses is very different and it is hard to see how they could be amalgamated.

Apart from Sunday Mass, there is a weekday Mass at 12.05 from Tuesday to Friday and a 10am Mass at St Wilfrid`s a couple of times a week. The idea of 12.05 is to offer a Mass for workers. St Joseph`s is in Gateshead town centre and the civic centre is very near. I`m not sure many workers come to the Mass.  So all in all I`m kept busy, apart from being Judicial Vicar too. The parish hall is used by many groups and our hall bookings organiser is retiring his month and I`m hoping the transition to our next volunteers goes smoothly. I`m still chairman of the North East Catholic History Society which I enjoy and which is not onerous and de facto chaplain to the diocesan Association of the Eucharist which meets at St Joseph`s. And of course I`m also Northern Chaplain to the LMS although that is not a presssured role and teach a bit of Latin in the classics department ( as was) at Newcastle university.

Apart from this I`ve been trying to get sorted out in the presbytery. My cats have been settling in too. As I live in a first floor flat in the old presbytery they have quite a few stairs to descend to get outside but as yet I haven`t managed to get a cat flap installed so they`re not getting out much and show little interest in leaving the flat. I do take them out sometimes but Dizzy seems to have lost his enthusiasm for meeting people. At Forest Hall he was in the sacristy every morning to see who was there and who would stroke him. He also never missed a Tuesday coffee morning but here he seems content to lie on the sofa all day. I hope he`s not depressed. Here he is on a rare trip outside last week.

So there we are. Sorry this blog has been rather quiet but I`m kept very busy here. And as well as all this we have Pope Francis with whom there seems never to be a dull moment.

Brinkburn again

Rather late in the day but just to say Brinkburn went well. The weather was glorious, the liturgy beautiul and a respectable turnout made it all worthwhile. Mike Forbester has a number of pictures on Rudgate Ramblings one of which I include here.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Frank Erskine RIP

I was shocked and saddened to hear at lunchtime that Frank Erskine had died. I`d learnt recently that Frank had cancer. I last heard from him on Tuesday by email: Frank wrote to ask how the Brinkburn Mass had gone and again to hope all went well at Ryhope where it was my turn for the Missa Cantata on Wednesday. I`ve know Frank for as long as I`ve been celebrating the Tridentine Mass in the diocese which is since 1992. He was always supportive and, a keen photographer, he took many of the pictures of our Masses which appeared on Forest Murmurs. Our paths hadn`t crossed as much recently with me being out of the mainstream of the Extraordinary Form during my years in Forest Hall. For years Frank offered lifts to others with no transport to take them to Latin Masses. His dog, Pericles, often went with him and waited outside church. Frank was quiet but with a good sense of humour and kept up to date with developments regarding the Extraordinary Form. He was 65 years old.

His Requiem in the Extraordinary Form will be held at St Patrick`s, Ryhope on Tuesday 1st October at 9.30am and Fr Dickson will be the celebrant. Sympathy to his sister Bernadette and all the family. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.

Letter from Mgr Newton on the Ordinariate

Our own Ordinariate community at Gainford contnues to thrive. New members were recently received. I can`t find a webpage with a link to the story so here is the entry from the Ordinariate site

A former priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Ian Westby, was among four people received and confirmed into the Darlington Ordinariate group at St Osmund’s Church, Gainford in August. Music for the occasion included Gounod's Messe du Sacré Coeur dé Jesus, Brahms’ How lovely are thy dwellings fair; and Elgar’s Imperial March. The new members bring to nine the number received into the Darlington group this year.

 Mgr Newton has written a letter which Archbishop Nichols has asked we make available this weekend by reading or displaying it. The request is all a bit vague and may be ovelooked so I post here the text of Mgr Newton`s letter.

 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Next Tuesday, September 24th, the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, is an
opportune moment to be invited to write to you about the Personal Ordinariate of
Our Lady of Walsingham, established two and a half years ago. I am grateful to your
bishop for giving me this opportunity to tell you about the contribution the
Ordinariate makes to the life and mission of the Catholic Church in our country.
Pope Benedict XVI established this new structure in 2011. He wanted to help groups
of Anglicans, who wished to bring with them some of the traditions and beauty of
the Anglican heritage in which they were nurtu-red, the ability to enter into full
communion of the Catholic Church.

Since then more than eighty former Anglican clergy have been ordained as Catholic
priests of the Ordinariate in England and Wales. They lead about 40 groups of former
Anglican lay people, as well as serving the wider Catholic Church as chaplains in
hospitals, prisons or schools or as diocesan priests. In London two churches have
been entrusted to us. Elsewhere, our groups celebrate Ordinariate Masses in
diocesan Catholic churches. We now have our own Ordinariate rite, which draws on
those elements of the Anglican tradition which are consistent with Catholic teaching.
As it is gradually introduced, it will add to the distinctive character of our worship.
Already, one of the jewels of the Anglican tradition, choral Evensong, is being
regularly celebrated by the Ordinariate in some Catholic churches.

The Ordinariate adds to the rich diversity of the Catholic Church. Any Catholic is free
to take part in the life and liturgy of the Ordinariate and receive the Sacraments from
its clergy. Our priests are just like any other Catholic priests. By attending an
Ordinariate Mass, you are fulfilling your obligation, just as you would by going to any
Catholic church in the world. Members of the Ordinariate are likewise free to attend
Mass in any Catholic church, being truly and fully members of the Catholic Church.
People coming to our Masses have spoken positively about the conviction of our
preaching, our strong musical tradition and hymn singing, our pastoral outreach and
the welcoming nature of our gatherings afterwards. This puts us in a strong position
to play a full part, with the whole Church, in the urgent task of the New

Like many members of the Church of England, in which I was ordained for over 35
years, I longed and prayed for union with the Catholic Church and the Ordinariate
was a personal fulfilment of those prayers. It has been an incredible and uplifting
journey for us all, full of grace, joy and blessings. Of course, we have experienced
hardship and sacrifice as well. For many, especially those of our priests who are
married with families, there has been great financial uncertainty; for us alt it has
meant leaving friends and familiar places of worship in the Church of England. We
ask for your encouragement, your support and your prayers.

You may ask why we did not become Catholics in the usual way. It is a reasonable
question but misses the most important point about the Ordinariate, that it is "a
prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between
Anglicans and Catholics" and "It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all
ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of
which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves
as an enrichment to us all" (Benedict XVI, Address to the Bishops, Oscott College,
September 2010}.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has begun in a small way but it
is a concrete expression of the Church's desire to fulfil our Lord's command that
'they may all be one'. It is a small step towards healing one of the most damaging
wounds of our history: the dividing of Christ's Body, the Church in this land.
With the assurance of my prayers for the whole Church as we all seek to be faithful
to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monsignor Keith~

More information about the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham can be found
on our website

Friday, 13 September 2013

A trip to Chislehurst

Last weekend I enjoyed a brief stay at St Mary`s, Chislehurst with Fr Briggs. On Sunday we were joined for lunch by Fr Finigan and later by Mulier Fortis. There is a photo of we three priests out there somewhere but it`s not emerged yet.  Chislehurst has a lovely parish church, a very congenial liturgy and a most informative website, which is well worth a visit. The above picure is of Fr Briggs` Silver Jubilee Mass in 2011. St Joseph`s, Gateshead has a website too but I`ve yet to meet the webmaster. My Silver Jubilee is drawing close and I must start thinking about it but first I have my induction Mass on Thursday.

UPDATE; 15.09.13
Thanks to the Mulier Fortis for the plug. Here is the picture I mentioned by Michael Davies` grave.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Rather late but I hope everyone who is thinking of coming knows that the annual Solemn High Mass at Brinkburn Priory in Northumberland takes place this Saturday at noon. The Schola Sancti Bedae will sing the proper and the Rudgates will sing Byrd`s Mass for Four Voices. Here`s some footage  from 2008`s Mass.

Me too.

Here we go

Thought I better put smoething here just to show it is starting up. This is only a first draft of the template. I have a few posts in mind so will be back soon.