Friday 24 April 2015

Church of Not Very Nice Really

Having dealt so speedily with Bishop Finn of Kansas City, the latest Bishop to fall mysteriously under a bus during the Francis papacy, I imagine that faithful Catholics will be hoping that His Holiness has 'a word in your ear' with Archbishop Cupich for giving Holy Communion to a public non-Catholic and will also be hoping that His Holiness will be lending his considerable papal authority in support of the under-fire 'a bit too Catholic for San Francisco', Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. Of course, we shouldn't imagine that the Successor of St Peter is some kind of CEO of a multinational corporation or some kind of 'NGO', but there are times when some people could be forgiven for that misconception.

May the soul of Cardinal Francis George, through the mercy of God and with the assistance of the prayers of the Our Blessed Lady and all the Saints and Martyrs rest in peace. His questions, for us, still remain unanswered. The more time goes on, the more mysterious and arbitrary appear the decisions in Rome about who is in, and who is out, who stays and who simply has to go. I'm sure Pope Benedict XVI said some very perceptive and wise things about justice when he gave an address at the German parliament. Mild mercy and swift justice, like 'the Spirit, blows where it wills' at the moment.

Pray for the Pope, for all faithful Bishops and for all Bishops and Cardinals that true justice and true mercy will both be and be seen to be proclaimed in Holy Mother Church.

Monday 13 April 2015


Chester Cathedral window dedicated to the Reformation in England
When on a recent visit to Chester, I was pretty dismayed when I toured its Cathedral to see nearly an entire window dedicated to Henry VIII with his court of advisers giving the thumbs up as he embarks on the dissolution of the monasteries and the enforcement of the Act of Supremacy. Did he send them out as Tudor 'Missionaries of Mercy'? I guess those were different times and different ways were employed.

I hope I am completely wrong and the two years of 'hypersensitivity training' I have undergone has been for nothing. We should all welcome a year of Mercy. Let's go with that. Who could oppose mercy?

Think of all the initiatives in parishes and Dioceses that could come from a grassroots renewal of devotion, promotion of the Sacraments and the works of mercy. A top-down, one size fits all model of mercy would be, I think, a little outside of what Vatican II expressed as desirable. Subsidiarity is surely the key, so that the local Church, while always remaining in Communion with the Pope and Bishops is able to promote mercy according to the particular needs of that area, without rupturing the fragile unity and Catholicity of the Church by abandoning the necessary link between doctrine and pastoral practice and thereby making visible a breach in the hull of the Church. I do rather have deep-seated fears of the newly appointed 'missionaries of mercy' that Pope Francis wishes to send to be welcomed by Dioceses around the globe. I hope they are not Volpi-clones, sent to dispense 'mercy' as endured from a certain Vatican-sent Commissioner, chosen, as he was, to flood with his own unique brand of tenderness and compassion, the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

Time will tell. Prayers could make all the difference. I have several Protestant friends and have been discussing with them the Kasper proposal and the upcoming Synod. It is amazing how little Protestants seem to understand of what is going on within the Catholic Church. All the news (but not gossip, of course) on the Synod was news to them. Two of them expressed astonishment that the Catholic Church could even countenance the Kasper proposal, knowing what the Church believes about the Holy Eucharist and what it has consistently taught regarding marriage, the natural law and divine law. One friend said, "If the Catholic Church did that, that would be huge...that would mean it no longer believed in marriage as a permanent union." So basically, even Protestants with little contact with the Catholic Church think the Catholic Church is in auto-destruct mode, with massive ramifications for the world.

I had emphasised, as a Catholic, what it could do to the fabric of the Church. I found it intensely interesting that the Protestant replied, "Nevermind the Church...what about society!? That would mean the Church sanctioning the breakdown of the family and marital break-up." Yes, indeed. Of course, that is exactly what it would mean, as Voice of the Family have made known and shouted from the rooftops. If the Church is to become no longer a moral voice in society for the family and marriage, it is hard to see how the Church could remain a moral voice at all. Why believe anything She says? Most of my Protestant friends are evangelicals, which, ironically, is an 'ecclesial community' that Pope Francis has gone some way in 'reaching out' towards.

We are all, as Catholics, called to be missionaries of mercy, to extend mercy towards others. We are also called to proclaim the truth in season and out of season and there is no contradiction between these two. I'm not sure to which period of the Church's history Pope Francis is pointing when he talks about a time when we could or should have been more merciful and why it is he feels that the Church can go beyond its previous 'limits' of mercy. I'm confused as to what this might mean. There are no limits to God's mercy, because God's mercy is inexhaustible and infinite. There are, however, limits to which we creatures will feel bound by, say, if we do not desire to change, or do not desire Salvation. The Church has never really said anything different to that. How much 'further' can Francis go without turning mercy into liberalism and sanctioning of sin?

"Nobody expects...": One Peter Five got there first...
The limits on God's mercy - if we dare say that - are limits we place there ourselves for our own feelings of comfort, protection and security. We would rather refuse the Cross. We fear going 'out to the peripheries' - that is - outside of the comfort zone of our own moral laxity and self-love. There is no sin that the Church does not desire to forgive in the name of Jesus Christ. There are, however, sins - 'reserved sins' if you please - that we do not want forgiveness for because we know that might take us out of our comfort zone and leave us completely dependent on God and His mercy and His grace.

The reality is that it is we as individuals who fear change, or avoid true repentance. The Church, as ever, holds up to us an Ideal of human life, or, rather a Person - Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life. We avoid His way, we often shun His Truth and we miss out on Life in all its fullness, the eternal life that He wishes to give to our souls. Let's be frank. That's the real reason the Reformation happened in England. That's the real reason we do not follow Christ perfectly as we should. I hope the missionaries of mercy will be in the service of Jesus Christ as He revealed Himself, imparting the mercy of God to the repentant and preaching the mercy of God to all who will hear for a false mercy will only bear witness to a false Christ. I hope that they do act in such a way which will cause scandal, as has been seen with the Franciscans of the Immaculate, or damage or impair that fragile communion that exists within the Body of Christ.

Finally, I don't, but others do, have first hand remembrance of the 'wreckovation' period during the 1970s in the Church, when Sanctuaries were destroyed in order to make way for a new liturgical revolution that re-orientated the parish churches. Many have taken time, raised and spent money to restore Churches to at least a reflection of their former glory. We all know of cases where priests have, courageously, restored both the Sanctuary and the liturgy of the Church to make it more fitting for the worship of God. Pray for them, that the hard work they have put in to give God glory, is not reduced to rubble by any 'missionaries' who think, like the knights that skewered the head of St Thomas Beckett, that what they do, they do in the service of the monarch.

I suppose what many clergy and some Bishops may be disconcerted about when it comes to papal 'missionaries of mercy' is not the promotion of mercy 'at a local level', but perhaps the very anti-thesis of the Benedictine vision of the Church renewing Herself from the bottom up - the most ambitious exercise in micromanagement ever undertaken by the Catholic Church in Her entire history. It would be a humble one, though...naturally. Evangelii Gaudium showed us the what without explaining too much the why. It looks like Misericordiae Vultus (or is it Vulpus?) is showing us the how. Let's hope that how is the very epitome of Christian mercy and love.

The martyrs of the Reformation in England and Wales exemplify the truth that, at the end of the day, the Christian is the one who accepts following, in life and in death, the One Who was nailed to the Wood of the Cross, Who hung there to bleed to death to the delight and the derision of the crowd, with only a few people there to offer some kind of human consolation. These martyrs also understood that anyone who stood underneath that Cross shared in the pain and humiliation of the One they loved. Are we followers of Jesus Christ or followers of the World? Do we want to follow Him? Do we want to imitate Him? Do we want to imitate them?

Pray. Pray. Pray for the Pope, for Cardinals, Bishops, priests and the Church throughout the world.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus exultemus et laetemur in ea....

This is the day when adulterers end their adulterous relationships. This is the day when fornicators cease their extra-marital dalliances, those co-habiting set wedding dates and/or boot each other out of their flats until marriage. This is the day when thieves and brigands hand back the spoils of their crime and do penance. This is the day when the mean and avaricious learn generosity to the poor. This is the day when abortionists repent of their crimes and those who have procured them seek the height, the depth and the inexhaustible riches of God's mercy.

This is the day, indeed, when mafiosi bosses put down their guns and open hospitals for poor, sick children instead. This is the day when alcoholics, crack and smack heads take up the Cross and join the relevant anonymous meeting groups, when those who watch porn take a hammer to their laptop, when those who frequent houses of iniquity consider renting property outside of the city centre.

This is the day when the single re-dedicate themselves to lives of celibacy, the married to devotion, constancy and fidelity, priests to singular devotion to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother and all Catholics throw themselves on God's mercy, receiving His Absolution in Confession and His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.

This is the day when Shepherds preach the truths of our sinful proclivities and the Salvation on offer to us and teach the faithful to guard against mortal sin. This is the day when manipulative prelates and those who bully clergy pursue the path of justice and peace towards those in their care and put Christ and His Church first, renouncing their own agendas and holding their tongues only at those times when the Gospel demands it. This is the day when German Church tax collectors, like St Matthew, renounce their old way of life and pursue, with singular apostolic zeal, the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Allelulia! Allelulia! Allelulia!

This is the day, this is Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter, in which the Church, because of the unfathomable Mercy of Her Divine Bridegroom, opens the floodgates of His Mercy for sinners, that we might repent of our sins and find in Jesus Christ not a severe Judge, but a merciful Saviour, whose desire is not to punish us according to our transgressions, but bring us to the inheritance of His Saints, Eternal Life in the Presence of God forever, forever united to Him, Body and Soul.

There have been a lot of strange things said about mercy recently, some things that are authentic and some that do not seem very authentic. Mercy does not gloss over our sin but entreats us to be confronted by our sin, to confront ourselves and to seek, in sincerity of heart, the God of Mercy. It always involves us turning away from our sin and turning towards the Lord. It means recognising that we need to, that we want to make a break with that which enslaves us and recognising that Jesus alone can liberate us from sin.

Apologies for all readers for not posting up the song below earlier. I know that all readers will appreciate just what a beautiful hymn this is, communicating so eloquently the joy of Easter and the mystery of our redemption!

The Papal Bull for the Extraordinary Year of Mercy can be read here. 

Immediate and somewhat worrying commentary can be read here.

I hope those 'missionaries of mercy' are not the kind that the Franciscans of the Immaculate have had to endure.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Breaking: Appointment of New Bishop Could Signal Major Adjustments to the Golden Jubilee

With a different bishop will come a different style. New reports suggest that the Rt Rev. Richard Moth, who is leaving the Bishopric of the Forces to become the new Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, could signal significant changes to the AMEX stadium-based Golden Jubilee of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

A newly appointed committee for the activities to be promoted during the Golden Jubilee have reportedly been asked to 'push the boundaries of ecclesiastical celebrations'. Guest speakers already invited are to be kept, but new speakers are also expected to be invited as the event takes on a more masculine, or even militaristic tone. It is thought that the new Bishop will want to distance himself from the original plans drawn up under the disgraced Bishop Kieran Conry and 'beef the event up' a little, promoting a more manly Diocese with strong and firm leadership from the top with deaneries set to be disbanded and parishes set to be merged into 'batallions'.

While the Archbishop of Canterbury will still be able to wax lyrical about his views on Christianity and Fr Timothy Radcliffe will be able to impress upon his audience some very private understandings of Christian morality, the Orthodox Church are to be represented by the man who's finger is always hovering over the red button, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin, whose absence from public life recently promoted major news outlets around the world to issue 'Where's Putin?' cartoons, in which readers had to find Vladimir Putin in a crowd of figures wearing similar clothing, is set to be a big name booked for the mega Church celebration.

Ecumenical gesture: Vladimir Putin

It is expected that Vladimir Putin will enter the AMEX stadium from above, parachuting out of a Russian Bear fighter jet, with a live Russian bear and, having wrestled with the bear in mid-air, will continue the wrestling competition on the football pitch, before dusting himself down and giving an ecumenical talk on the powerful intercession of the Mother of God that he experienced while venerating the belt of the the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Cast out from the BBC for striking a colleague across the face for gross culinary negligence - and therefore one who can now be sought on the 'peripheries', the former Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson is said to be under consideration as a public figure who could speak ably on God, cars, driving, aggression and manliness. His talk will be entitled, "When I drive the new Ultima 1020bhp supercar, I begin to understand what it must be like to be God."

Clarkson: The only man left at BBC before his sacking
In order to promote masculinity within the Diocese as part of a new emphasis from the former Bishopric of the Forces, in a one-off mass gun licensing event, each Catholic who attends the AMEX event will be issue with a shooting rifle. Ten thousand grey collared doves will be released from a bulging net in the centre of the football pitch before those in attendance will be able to ready, aim and fire, a pastoral event that could see anything between 5,000 to 9,000 doves fall from the sky onto the turf below. The clean up operation from this event alone is expected to exceed the Diocese's initial six figure budget dramatically. Following this, children will be invited to play the traditional English village fete game, 'Whack a Rat', but with a twist to cultivate children's desire to hunt God's creatures and if necessary, to kill wild animals, as live rats are used and children learn to 'splat a rat'. A hundred ferrets have been ordered should the AMEX event run out of rats. Animal rights campaigners are concerned but as yet no moves have been made to curtail the programme's broad ambitions.

The multi-cultural nature of the city by the sea and Sussex and Surrrey's multi-ethnic communities will be served by various forms of hunting events during the day. A large, see-through container housing a variety of whales will be visible at the back of the stadium where Japanese Catholics will hunt with spears, making this family friendly day out an exciting event that will see clear water turn red with the spoils of sport, while the Filipino community will be entertained by cock-fighting. The Spanish community will be entranced by bull-fighting and anybody who complains about the nature of the event will be court-marshalled and, if necessary, taken outside and shot, after a short, but entirely just - and impartial - military trial.

The entertainment, having wowed a bloodied and thrilled congregation with renewed interest in various bloodsports, will end when the new Bishop will ride into the stadium upon a stallion, chasing a skulk of foxes before saying, 'Tally-ho! Before this Mass let us turn to the Lord and ask His mercy for those times when we have failed to live up to our baptismal promises, as we say, 'Lord, you were sent to heal the contrite. Lord, have mercy...' as Mass begins. It is thought and hoped that in the wake of this unique Church day out, all memory of the tenure of Bishop Kieran Conry will be quickly forgotten and the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton will experience the comradeship and the excitement of a newly energised Catholic community. The event may also serve, unintentionally of course, to distract attention within the Catholic community from the upcoming Most Appallingly Disastrous Synod in the History of the Church. TM

Sunday 5 April 2015

Christ is Risen

A happy, holy and blessed Easter to all readers.

Don't let any prelate spoil the Octave of partying and rejoicing...whatever he says or does!

Christ has risen as he said. Allelulia!

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...