Holy Priests

Prayed at mass, an Installation Mass last night, a Mass to install one of the Conventual Franciscan friars as parish priest. In Melbourne.

Yes, I am in Melbourne! Lucky me!

During the reverent, beautiful, solemn Mass, a Mass worshipping Our Lord, the Holy Sacrifice, a mass honouring the vocation of the priesthood, I was reminded, yet again, of our need for holy priests and religious. Our need. The laity. The Church. The world. Our need of their example, their prayers, their vocations, their masses.

“For if anyone will consider how great it is, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw nigh to that pure and blessed nature, he will clearly see what honour the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests, since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and of our salvation.St John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood.

“Those who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body, whereas this binding lays hold of the soul, and penetrates the heavens, and what priests do here below, God ratifies above…”

“..when one is required to preside over the Church, and be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude, and the majority of men also…”
This Saint tells it like it is!


How to achieve peace in our lives?

I found peace, inspiration, love and grace .. on Monday. ( Don’t ask about Tuesday, however..)

I prayed at Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Now, don’t take this in a bad way but…I needed that Mass. To worship Jesus, to receive Him, without attendant, unnecessary noise or activity or distractions. Without clapping and jokes. Without a sloppily intoned Alelluia ( not during Lent, of course). Without shaking hands and chatting.

Just praying, silently, reverently, with others, with the priest, before Our Lord.

The sursum corda-the lifting up of our hearts-is the first requirement for real participation in the mass. Nothing could better obstruct the confrontation of man with God than the notion that we “go unto the altar of God” as we would go to a pleasant, relaxing social gathering. This is why the Latin mass with Gregorian chant, which raises us up to a sacred atmosphere, is vastly superior to a vernacular mass with popular songs, which leaves us in a profane, merely natural atmosphere. The Case for the Latin Mass Dietrich von Hildebrand

Yesterday, after a particularly exhausting and draining day, I had a phone call from an always supportive friend. Later that evening, after the weekly Mass and Novena to St Anthony in our parish, I went to another friend’s house, watching The Jane Austen Book Club with other homeschooling mothers.

Our world is an English village. The Jane Austen Bookclub.

It is true. Our world is a village, in other words, in many ways, people and relationship and work and life oriented. But is that all there is? I love the friend I spoke to, the friends I spent time with yesterday. I love my family and friends, the little glimpses we give each other of who we really are. I get it ~ that pleasant, social gathering of which von Hildebrand talks ~ and I get more. I get love ( without being too think).

All Jane Austen, all the time. It’s the perfect antidote.
To what?
To life.

It is. But we are made for more. I am made for more. There is that God shaped vacuum of which Pascal spoke, that restlessness of which St Augustine spoke..these can only be satisfied by worship of God. By that Perfect Love.

And, in human, every day terms, by private prayer and public worship. By the sacraments; the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and of Reconciliation.

Which, to quote von Hildebrand again, must be that sursum corda, that rising up of our hearts, that sacred atmosphere.

I think if you read Austen’s novels…
Oh, I have. You wanted me to, and I did.
I think you’ll see she always writes in favor of order and self-control. Nothing unwise.
So what, this is a rulebook?
We could do worse.

We can have our rules, our Jane Austen code of life….rules and codes are needed. To cast them away, to undertake what amounts to a momentary act of pleasure, without thought for other good, can destroy peace..and thus what appears to bring joy, brings only short term pleasure and gratification and sometimes long lasting sorrow..Which is why I cried out ( apologies to my fellow film watching friends!) Don’t when I thought Prudie ( in the film) was going to throw it away, throw away cautions and that rule book, for something temporary and ultimately shoddy….

Prudie didn’t. She remembered What Would Jane Do?

We can remember these rules, these codes. Yet, just as we need something more than these human relationships to satisfy our souls thus we need more than rules to live by.

We need a foundation for that rulebook.

A foundation of Love.

That going up to the altar of our Lord, meeting God, heart to heart.

How to achieve peace in our lives?

We find peace with God, with Our Lord.

And we find this peace again and again, within our High school’s never over lives ( the Jane Austen film again ), in our prayer and worship, via the sacraments.

In reverent Masses, full of awe .

Worshipping Our Lord.. with the angels and the saints.

When you hear talk about so-called ‘traditionalists’, some think that they are a group with a stubborn and nostalgic attachment to the past. That is not true. In fact, here we find ourselves before a dynamic Christian view of the life of faith and devotion, shared by so many families and their children who are attached to those ancient liturgical and devotional forms which have accompanied the Church through centuries of her history and have formed legions of saints. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos interview for Il Giornale, May 31, 2004


The role of the laity

Today, after Mass, after (much needed) Confession, after silently praying The Way of the Cross (also much needed ~ can you tell I’ve been spiralling, downward, spiritually?) , after chatting to fellow parishioners…and before a parish shopping trip and Vietnamese lunch out at Cabramatta, followed by House Cleaning for a darn, dratted House Inspection, followed by family movie night ( only four of us home), watching Click and crying….today, I did some reading on the role of the laity within the Church.


Because of thoughts and things. Things I need to sort.

I shared the quotes below on Facebook but now want to keep them here, on my blog, for my future reference.

You ever know when such quotes just might come in handy.

Cardinal Newman in 1851:

What I desiderate in Catholics is the gift of bringing out what their religion is — I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity — I wish you to enlarge your knowledge, to cultivate your reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism …

I have no apprehension you will be the worse Catholics for familiarity with these subjects, provided you cherish a vivid sense of God above and keep in mind that you have souls to be judged and saved. In all times the laity have been the measure of the Catholic spirit; they saved the Irish Church three centuries ago and they betrayed the Church in England. You ought to be able to bring out what you feel and what you mean, as well as to feel and mean it; to expose to the comprehension of others the fictions and fallacies of your opponents; to explain the charges brought against the Church, to the satisfaction, not, indeed, of bigots, but of men of sense, of whatever cast of opinion.

Pope Benedict XVI

“When dioceses are faced with a lack of priests”, Pope Benedict said, they should not resort to “a more active and abundant participation of the laity” since it could detract from the lay calling.

Fulfilling the lay vocation involves working to “give expression in real life – also through political commitment – to the Christian view of anthropology and the social doctrine of the Church..”

“The truth is that the greater the faithful’s awareness of their own responsibilities within the Church, the clearer becomes the specific identity and inimitable role of the priest as pastor of the entire community, witness to the authenticity of the faith, and dispenser of the mysteries of salvation in the name of Christ the Head,”.

Making the remarks in an audience with bishops visiting from Brazil, the pontiff said that while the lay faithful share in the “common priesthood,” they are not ordained ministers of Christ and His Church.

“Hence,” the Pope cautioned, “it is important to avoid the secularisation of clergy and the ‘clericalisation’ of the laity.


On Receiving Holy Communion

The best way to express our sense of reverence to the Lord in Mass is to follow the example of Peter, who as the Gospel tells us, threw himself on his knees before the Lord and said, ‘Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinner’”. (Luke 5:8) …Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the preface to Dominus Est

The papal master of ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, commented that kneeling and receiving Communion on the tongue helps to emphasize “the truth of the Real Presence [of Christ] in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces the sense of mystery more easily”. ZENIT

Why do I post these quotes? I post in reflection, reflecting on receiving Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, with reverence.

In Australia standing is the most common posture for receiving Holy Communion. The customary manner of reception is recommended to be followed by all, so that Communion may truly be a sign of unity among those who share in the table of the Lord. When approaching to receive Holy Communion, the faithful bow in reverence of the Mystery that they are to receive . General Instructions of the Roman Missal, Interim text for Australia §160.

Note that standing is described merely as the most common posture. Standing to receive communion is not prescribed. Not compulsory. Merely recommended.

Neither do the instructions imply, nor state, that the bow mentioned replaces a genuflection; nor do they mention genuflecting or kneeling to receive Our Lord….. let alone forbid such postures.

It is clear that reverence for the Eucharist is a requirement.

May I add, that kneeling and/or genuflecting and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, re-inforces our belief in the Eucharist, in the sacred, in transubstantiation….encourages reverence.

Kneeling and receiving on the tongue is the norm at Papal Masses.

As Monsignor Marini, quoted above, goes on to state…“The form adopted by Benedict XVI is meant to highlight the force of this valid norm for the whole Church.”

“It could also be noted that the (Pope’s) preference for such form of distribution which, without taking anything away from the other one, better highlights the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces more easily to the sense of mystery. Aspects which, in our times, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to highlight and recover.”

The Monsignor reminds us that “it is necessary not to forget the fact that the distribution of Communion on the hand remains, up to now, from the juridical standpoint, an exception (indult) to the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those bishops’ conferences who requested it”.

We are to receive Holy Communion with reverence. We may bow and stand, as is the custom in Australia or we may genuflect before receiving Our Lord; we may receive kneeling.

The unity of which the GIRM speaks may be seen to be unity in reverence..each communicant showing, by their posture, their reverence; by these actions, demonstrating belief in the Real Presence.

I can even be cheeky here and quote that Second Vatican Council document ..unity within diversity.

And, you know, there is very little hold up and no tripping of people in lines that I have ever seen, when some communicants prefer to receive kneeling.

As the Archbishop of Miami says, in one of his regular columns, “Some people, however, prefer to kneel to receive Communion and that is also allowed. Some say it interrupts the flow of the Communion line and could lead to people tripping over those who unexpectedly kneel in front of them. I have yet to go to a celebration where someone does not kneel in front of me to receive Communion, and I have yet to see someone trip”.

Any communicant is entitled to receive Holy Communion kneeling, even in countries like Australia where standing is normative.

From Sacrament of Redemption , Redemptionis Sacramentum, Pope John Paul II, published March, 2004:

90: “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”. [There is a cross-reference to GIRM §160]

91: In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”, [i.e. not excommunicated. The official text has a reference to Canon 843§1, 915.]

Therefore, any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. It is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any practicing Catholic merely on the grounds of posture ie merely on whether or not someone receives Holy Communion kneeling .

Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Prot. n. 47/03/L of 26th February, 2003, said of the permission for standing in the USA:

…while this Congregation gave the recognitio to the norm desired by the Bishops’ Conference of your country that people stand for Holy Communion, this was done on the condition that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion.

The faithful should not be imposed upon.

Something to think about.

For, as that old Baltimore Catechism tells us, that catechism I have used with my kids as part of their preparation for their First Holy Communion…The chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are: a closer union with Our Lord and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor; an increase of sanctifying grace; preservation from mortal sin and the remission of venial sin; the lessening of our inclinations to sin and the help to practice good works.

And, that it is well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily, because this intimate union with Jesus Christ, the Source of all holiness and the Giver of all graces, is the greatest aid to holy life.

Receiving Jesus often, maybe daily, worthily, with reverence..and without undue imposition from others.

As I said above, something to think about, something for reflection. Especially during Lent.


Pre-Vatican II

“We don’t do that. It’s pre-Vatican II!”

This sort of comment makes me stop. Look in disbelief. We are not still beating that old horse, are we?

For those who don’t know the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October, 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 21 November, 1965. Four future pontiffs took part in the council’s opening session: Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, who on succeeding Pope John XXIII took the name of Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Father Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Our current Pope.

What was the result of the Council? I could go on forever and refer you to many documents and websites but, quite frankly, I won’t. This is not a long, discoursive blog. Or blog post.

Instead, I will point out that Pope Benedict XVI, himself, reflected on the fruits of the Council…

The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?
Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarreled with each other. ….

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. …
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises ….

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim….
Speech, 2005

This is where that statement ‘Oh, it’s so pre-Vatican II’ often comes into play. To justify a whim, an individual belief, a personal view of the spirit and not the text of the Second Vatican Council.

This statement is used, in particular, when it concerns the liturgy, the public worship of the Church.

I have written before about liturgy, the spirit of the liturgy, the importance of beauty in our liturgical worship, how to pray the Mass.

None of these posts rely solely on my personal interpretation of any Church document or any one document or statement in isolation but instead trust in the clear teachings of the Church, on liturgy, on public worship, on rubrics.

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops that accompanied the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

It is a fallacy of logic to fall back on a generalised statement ( pre-Vatican II) or to talk about ‘spirit and not law’ ( personal interpretation). Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore because of this”) .

A logical fallacy is, in loose terms, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy.

So, the statement ‘pre-Vatican II’, used to discontinue a liturgical practice, can be seen to be a fallacy of an appeal to authority. An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a claim that a proposition is true.

The person in authority refers, supposedly, loosely, generally, to un-named documents of Vatican II , or worse, to his personal belief in the spirit of Vatican II as authority, and we are intended to believe that the practice (et al) under discussion is no longer allowed.

Yet, as the Pope says,What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.

And one can see that the generalised ‘pre-Vatican II’ term means, in fact, nothing. Has no appeal to authority. Does not quote Church documents. That it is, in fact, fallacious.

I thought that tired old horse of an argument, of pre and post Vatican II, had died.

But, as Belloc pointed out with regard to heresies, that old heresies appear again and again, so fallacies and false arguments reappear.

Sometimes, it is up to us, yes, you and me, to point out these point out that the Emporer is wearing no clothes.

religion, Unschooling

Our Lady of Lourdes

This is how I arranged the dining table centrepiece before bed last night..a visual reminder, for all who rise in the early or not so early hours of the morning…and who wander past the dining area to the kitchen for breakfast. A reminder of today’s feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.. Saints book, candles; Fr Lovasik book on Our Lady of Lourdes; dh’s statue of Our Lady, from his childhood home….and our art focus book.
A week or so ago, someone asked me Why I Bother. Their point was I am doing a lot of work outside the home at the moment, a lot of stuff in the home for Kumon and for volunteer stuff, and at midnight, before bed and an early start the next morning for Mass, I do things like arrange a centrepiece for the table.
Don’t bother, I was told. Let others do the chores and don’t worry about the extras.
But I do want to “worry” about the extras.
It is the extras that make the house a home, a refuge, something set apart. That make a life, really.
I said awhile back, to a priest, that women don’t always have time for the great inventions, for the great works, not because we are less inclined to these things but because our days and minds are often filled with little things…little things that never seem to amount to much, that no one may even notice if done or left undone, but which make a mark on the lives of family and friends.
Creating a space, a nook, for quiet reading and sitting. For movies. Putting out flowers and candles. Planning a dessert for a saints day. Plumping up cushions and scattering an interesting book. Texting friends. Having a person who is lonely over for a cuppa..and including the kids in the converation. Sending a smile.
I am not advising mothers and wives and women to be martyrs. I certainly take time for reading, for work, for my study, for workouts. But my mind and days are also full of All Those Small Things ( Blink 182).
And I bother.
‘A man,’ as one of them observed to me once, ‘is so in the way in the house!’ Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford.
And not at all true. But the point is made..a woman often does make a subtle difference. Shouldn’t that difference be calculated, for the good, for beauty, for people?
Thus the “perfect woman” (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These “perfect women” are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations.
In our own time, the successes of science and technology make it possible to attain material well-being to a degree hitherto unknown. While this favours some, it pushes others to the edges of society. In this way, unilateral progress can also lead to a gradual loss of sensitivity for man, that is, for what is essentially human. In this sense, our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that “genius” which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! – and because “the greatest of these is love” (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
Pope John Paul II
Why do I bother? Out of love..not just for family, but for friends, for others, for people I meet, for love of God.
A recent homily on St Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13 ( If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal… ) challenged all of us, husbands, wives, women, men, single, married, religious..all of us to serve with love. If we love, we are not jealous; we do not act out of selfishness and concern for ourselves; we act with love and care for others.
I must act with that feminine genius of which the Pope spoke, with that sensitivity for human beings in every, yes, every, circumstance…even with that oh so talkative! (but gorgeous) teen or the disparaging neighbour or critical person at church or the exasperating relative or the ( sometimes) angry spouse…
A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace. Mother Theresa
In my very busy life, I remember some of the stories of my childhood and early teen years, those stories that shaped me. The Little House on the Prairie series. The Anne of Green Gables books. The Meet the Austins series. The Dimity boarding school books. All those Pollyanna novels. Jane Austen. Swallows and Amazons. Noel Streatfield. Verily Anderson. Dodie Smith. Bridge to Terabithia. Amongst others.
What was it that attracted me to these books?
Their vision of family life. Of normality. Of fun. Of dinners and chats and walks and time together.
I take this vision and try to live it out, in my whirlwind of activity and technology.
I bother with the little things.
The extras that are not really extras. For, as we women, seek careers and study, seek good, seek to be truly ourselves it is sad if we also lose sight of what it is that makes a home…us.
Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world. Mother Theresa

Art fraud and picture books

One of my new year ideas, was to re-visit an artist of the month theme. Looking to add some beauty to our technological life.

January, I grabbed the book Discovering Great Artists and found that Jackson Pollack celebrated a birthday that month. Greg wrote a short bio of Pollack and put small prints of two of his works on our fridge.

This month, February, today, I have pulled out the book Art Fraud Detective, strewing it on the dining table, for reading and persual and fun.

To my mind, one is never too old for picture books. Especially picture books with a hook (find the painting, find the fraud) and with reproductions of great art.

A picture book is a story told in words and pictures. Each makes an important contribution to the way the story is told, the meaning created.

A picture is not the same as an illustrated story: there the words alone could tell the story and the illustrations simply break up the words or decorate the text…In the best picture books, the illustrations are absolutely necessary. They carry parts of the story or narrative and in some cases the language is dropped and the pictures alone are all that is needed.
Libby Gleeson. Making Picture Books, 2003. p. 2



Prayer asking God for St. Francis’ intercession

Collect for the Feast of St. Francis’ Stigmata, September 17th

O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when the world was growing cold, did renew in the flesh of the most blessed Francis the sacred stigmata of Thy Passion, in order to inflame our hearts with the fire of Thy love, graciously grant unto us, that yoked to his merits and prayers we may bear the Cross, and bring forth fruits worthy of penance: You who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

St Anthony’s prayer for Wisdom

Oh Light of the World, Infinite God, Father of Eternity, giver of Wisdom and Knowledge, and ineffable dispenser of every Spiritual Grace; who knowest all things before they are made, who makest the darkness and the light; put forth Thy hand and touch our mouths, and make them as a sharp sword to utter eloquently Thy Words. Make our tongues, Oh Lord, as chosen arrows, to declare faithfully Thy Wonders. Put Thy Spirit, Oh Lord, in our hearts, that we may perceive; in our souls, that we may retain; and in our consciences, that we may meditate. Do thou lovingly, holily, mercifully, clemently and gently inspire us with Thy Grace. Do Thou teach, guide and strengthen the comings in and goings out of our senses and our thoughts. And let Thy discipline instruct us even to the end, and the Counsel of the Most High help us through Thy Infinite Wisdom and Mercy, Amen