Wednesday, 30 October 2013

An Old Mass in an Old Seminary

A happy day in the diocese of Aberdeen.  Following an initial request to Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B., the Ordinary of the See of Aberdeen, the Chapel of the old Scottish junior seminary (1829 - 1986), was designated as the location where the Vetus Ordo could be offered.  A very fitting place indeed.  Blairs College must be a place of fond memories for the hundreds of Scottish boys who went on to receive Holy Orders and served, as some still do, in parishes throughout Scotland and overseas.
The Chapel and college
So it was that on Saturday the 19th October a Missa Cantata was offered by Fr Michael Mary, Rector Major of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.  Father brought Br. Martin Mary and Br. Jean Marie with him, two sterling examples of men fit for the priesthood.  Despite an autumnal gale with heavy rain which kept numbers down, it was a grand occasion in every sense. 
Thanks too must go to the Mr Ian Forbes, the curator of Blairs Museum, who ensured we had everything to hand including a set of wonderful Marian vestments.  He had attended Blairs as a boy and was looking forward to Mass but ended up clearing the drains to prevent the boiler room from flooding.  Oh the joys of being a museum curator! 
Blairs Chapel - Mass of Our Lady in Sabatto
Blairs Chapel - Mass of Our Lady in Sabatto
Blairs Chapel - Mass of Our Lady in Sabatto
Fr Michael Mary F.SS.R.
The next Vetus Ordo Mass is scheduled for Saturday the 16th November at 11:00 am.  It will be another Missa Cantata and that of the Feast of St Margaret of Scotland, our 2nd Patron Saint in Scotland.  So, if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, please do come along.

As usual more photographs may be viewed HERE

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Its a Small World

In our decision as to where we are going on an overseas holiday, one of the decisive factors in my "must have" list, is the availability of the Vetus Ordo.  Why the Old Mass and not the Novus Ordo?  Simply that in all my extensive travels around the world I have yet to be able to fully engage and pray the Mass when surrounded by people responding in their own language.  For example try saying the Our Father when surrounded by say Portuguese, Italians or Germans. Understand the bidding prayers or join in the hymns? forget it.  As a result I have always left those churches feeling undernourished and somehow thinking I had not fulfilled my Sunday Obligation.
When we chose to spend a long weekend in Berlin this was naturally a deal breaker for me.  By the way Berliners will tell you that Christianity is only practiced by about two per cent of the population - yes TWO per cent.  Thankfully there is a wonderful community in Berlin called the Institute of St Philip Neri led by the  indomitable Father Gerald Goesche.
I was kindly given permission to take some photographs during Mass, Fr Goesche belongs to the more publicity the better camp.  During Mass my attention was drawn to one of the gentlemen in the schola who had a "weel kent" face, as we say in Scotland.  Lo and behold after Mass who should seek me out but Frater Marcin Góral whom I had last seen on the small Scottish island of Papa Stronsay when he was with The Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Fr. Jatzkowski, left   Fr Goesche centre,   Frater Marcin right.
Needless to say we had a good gossip and catch-up of news over a splendid cup of coffee before setting of by taxi to our next appointments.  He to visit parishioners and me to have lunch with she who must be obeyed.  How marvellous that we should meet again thousands of miles away and how wonderful to learn he is now studying for the priesthood. 
Please do go to their website; there is an English version which requires updating, but nevertheless gives a detailed account of the Institute.  One of their fund raising activities of late has been to install a wonderful organ found in England regarding which you can read about HERE
Yes it certainly is a small world.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Universal Church

Earlier this summer my long suffering wife and I took a cruise in the Baltic visiting a number of locations and cities before arriving at our most easterly destination of St. Petersburg; the Venice of the North.  Amongst the many beautiful sights we saw in Estonia and Russia were cathedrals which equal, if not exceed, the excesses found in Baroque churches in European regions such as Bavaria in southern Germany. 

Inside Petershof Church
Church of the Spilled Blood
Conversely in Northern Germany where Lutheranism is predominant the austerity of their churches we visited was stark.  Perhaps a view of the future of Catholic churches in the U.K. where some Bishops and priests seem driven to strip our churches of our patrimony in the name of "the spirit of Vatican II", ecumenism and modernism.
Whatever your preference there is always a constant - the Universality of the Church and our Christian belief.
In St Petersburg I had the great privilege in handing over to Oleg-Michael Martynov, the chairman of Una Voce Russia, a complete set of Low Mass Requiem Vestments including Cope, a small altar stone complete with a saint's relic, ideal for a small travelling altar, birettas and a Missale Defunctorum.  This was a gift from Una Voce Scotland to our Catholic brethren in Russia.  We are both part of the FIUV world wide organisation.
I received an email from Oleg-Michael last week stating that the Altar stone had already been used during their four day 100km St Olaf Pilgrimage walk (see picture below).
Fr Paolo Giancinti IVE offers Mass during the Pilgrimage
Perhaps Ian Fleming will forgive me but rather than "From Russia with Love" I will say "To Russia with Love" from all of us in Scotland.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Centennial Pilgrimage

One hundred years ago most of the Anglican Benedictine monks of Caldey Abbey, which is situated on the small island of Caldey off the coast of Tenby in South West Wales, voted to "Cross the Tiber" and converted to the Roman Catholic Church.  From that small beginning the community re-founded Prinknash Abbey which in turn (re)founded Farnborough and Pluscarden Abbey, and more recently, Kristo Buase Monastery in Ghana.  
As part of the 100th anniversary celebrations, Fr Martin Birrell OSB, the guest master at Pluscarden Abbey, led fellow religious and lay oblates of Pluscarden and Prinknash Abbeys on a weekend pilgrimage to Caldey Abbey at the beginning of August.  We followed the Office of the Abbey, which is now part of the Cistercian community, with Vigils starting at 3.30 AM finishing with Compline at 7.30 PM.
Caldey Abbey Centennial Pilgrimage
Caldey Abbey

On Saturday afternoon we had the honour of listening to Fr Aelred Baker OSB, a renowned expert on the Caldey Conversion and who knew some of the original monks.  This was followed by Fr Giles Conacher OSB who continued the unfolding journey, with many humorous accounts of life at Prinknash, to Pluscarden and the present day.
Sunday afternoon saw us having a guided tour around the original St David's Priory and surrounding area under the very knowledgeable, and dry wit, of the prior Fr Gildas Gage OSCO.

Caldey Abbey Centennial Pilgrimage
Fr Gildas
Our visit had to be shortened on Monday morning due to the tides requiring the postal ferry, which was to return us to the mainland, to rearrange its timetable. 

Caldey Abbey Centennial Pilgrimage
The Happy Pilgrims with some of our hosts

A wonderful pilgrimage amongst fellow Benedictine lay oblates and holy religious men.  It was an honour to be part of it.  A notice in the vestibule of the guest house seemed to sum up our weekend:

Arrive as strangers - depart as friends

As usual more photos are available HERE

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Wonderful Sacramental Day

On Saturday 22nd June we were greatly blessed.  We travelled home to my village to join in the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage of my nephew Duncan and his fiancée, Carly.  Duncan is the eldest son of my late younger brother Edward (RIP) and Carly his sweetheart for the past seven years.  Needless to say it all went rather well and the happy couple will now be enjoying their honeymoon.

May they be blessed with children and a long, loving and happy marriage.

 Another joyous sacramental occasion was occurring simultaneously in Rome.  Two deacons of the Sons of The  Most Holy Redeemer, Rev. Yousef Marie F.SS.R. and Rev. Magdala Maria F.SS.R. were being ordained to the sacred priesthood in the FSSP's personal parish of SS. Trinità dei Pellegrini by His Grace Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Almoner to His Holiness the Pope. 
 I have met both these two very holy men during visits to their Monastery on Papa Stronsay and can most assuredly say they will be not only a credit and blessing to their community but to the Catholic Priesthood.

Rev. Fr. Magdala Maria F.SS.R. (left) and Rev. Fr. Yousef Marie F.SS.R.(right)
with their Rector Major Fr. Michael Mary F.SS.R. (centre),
(photo taken after their ordination of Diaconate)
Please visit their blog where I am sure they will shortly post photographs of this joyous event.
A most truly auspicious and happy day indeed.

St Alphonsus, pray for them
St Geraldo Maria, pray for them
St John  Vianney, pray for them
St Benedict, pray for them
Saint Pio, pray for them
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for them
Holy Guardian Angels, watch over them

Monday, 27 May 2013

There and Back Again - A Lenten Tale

I prepared this some time ago but felt I could not publish its contents as my spirit was so low.  However friends coaxed me into going ahead and recommence blogging, so here we go.


This year's Lenten journey began simply enough but little did I know what the Good Lord had planned for this year!  Giving up the usual things such as chocolate treats, fasting and abstinence, (including blogging of course), were very quickly superseded by more important events.  Lent was not about the little worldly bits of me which have routinely been offered up, but, as it should always be, about my Faith.

First was the total shock in learning of our beloved Pope Benedict XVI's abdication.  He had given so much to us and the church and had so much more to offer.  Next was the eye-opener concerning our Cardinal, which is still reverberating around Scotland and beyond.  Closer to home we learned of our ex Vicar General leaving the priesthood to get married and finally the departure of one of our diocesan priests, of whom the less said the better.      

It was as though the whole Catholic Faith in Scotland was imploding upon itself.  We, the pew fodder, could not even look to our Bishops for guidance and support as they appeared to have gone into a silent Lenten retreat such was their silence.  Without doubt they too were sorely grieved.

As Lent continued so too did further revelations until I began to seriously doubt my faith.  Even the election of the new Bishop of Rome, Francis, as he seemed to style himself, brought little true joy especially during his inauguration Mass when, at the end of Mass, I clearly observed one Cardinal punch his fist in the air with a “Yes, we’ve finally got our man elected” type glee.  Not what one would expect from a Prince of the Church.  Pope Francis’s tag line of “the poor” seemed to be fixed on their material poverty, which was not too surprising coming as he does from a third world continent.  Of course the media loved this but what about the poor in spirit, the poorly formed seminarians, the poorly catechised children; surely their poverty is more pressing to the Church.  In the Gospel of Matthew 26:11 we hear Our Lord say “For the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always”.

With a heavy heart I started Holy Week.  I had been asked to serve during the Easter Triduum and so travelled daily to Edinburgh giving the MC apoplexy as I fumbled my way through.  It was during the Good Friday service gazing of the Cross that I re-awoke from my pit of sorrow, one could say almost a cathartic moment, and once again found the meaning of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross.  The feeling was so profound my eyes welled up with gladness, sorrow, wonderment, humility, unworthiness to be given such a grace.  Now I began to understand the meaning of Lent.

Thank you Lord for being so patient with one such as me.

Monday, 11 February 2013

God Bless Pope Benedict XVI

Farewell your Holiness.  We have been truly blessed to have you as the Vicar of Christ on earth.  May your retirement be blessed with peace and good health in your remaining days with us.  Your courage and strength remains indomitable - who else would have accepted God's will that you step down as Holy Father and announced such with so much humility and charity as you.
Let us all give thanks to God for your wonderful pontificate and we pray that your successor may also be filled with that self same holiness, humility, strength and conviction.

Full Text of His Resignation Speech

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


Monday, 21 January 2013

Communion in the Hand

I have long been of the opinion, and practice, of only receiving Our Lord whilst kneeling and on the tongue whilst studiously ignoring looks from both laity and occasionally clergy who "roll their eyes up" when presented by communicants such as myself.  No I will not tell you what I think about EMHCs - but you are permitted to guess.
Recently I read a quite stunning article from a well known Scottish blogger and contributor to liturgical magazines such as The Remnant, and, having received his very kind permission, I append his article in full below.  Do enjoy.
Reviewing Communion in the hand
By Martin Blackshaw 
“Why, for God’s sake, should Communion in the hand be introduced into our churches when it is evidently detrimental from a pastoral viewpoint, when it certainly does not increase our reverence, and when it exposes the Eucharist to the most terrible diabolical abuses? There are really no serious arguments for Communion in the hand. But there are the most gravely serious kinds of arguments against it.”
These words of Dietrich von Hildebrand were published in a November 18, 1973 article entitled ‘Communion in the hand should be Rejected.’
To demonstrate the stature of the one who wrote the article it suffices to recall the tribute of Pius XII, who called von Hildebrand a “20th century doctor of the Church.” Popes Paul VI and John Paul II later paid their own compliments to this German Catholic philosopher and theologian.
In the years since von Hildebrand’s article was published, reports of the Blessed Sacrament having being found under church pews or lying in the street have become commonplace in many countries, as have reliable observations of a general loss of Eucharistic faith among priests and faithful.
One U.S. gallop poll in recent years recorded just 30% of U.S. Catholics now believing in Our Lord’s True Presence. The other 70% had either various shades of Protestant belief or no belief at all.
These findings would appear to confirm what the ‘Servant of God’ Fr. John Hardon S.J., had already bluntly asserted: “Behind Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.”
Pope John Paul II was already lamenting the trend in his April 1980 ‘Instruction’ Inaestamabile Donum, when he wrote of “…frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world…an increasing loss of the sense of the sacredlack of reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament.
The Pontiff was to write of these abuses again in Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003) and Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), deploring their multiplication and asking: “How can we not express profound grief at all this?
In 2005, Cardinal Francis Arinze also spoke out noting that the practice of Communion in the hand had even facilitated easy access to the Blessed Sacrament for blasphemers, who subsequently abused the consecrated host in satanic rituals and displayed all manner of sacrileges against it on the Internet.
A few years later, Peruvian Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne and Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra banned Communion in the hand from their respective dioceses of Lima and Bologna, citing overwhelming evidence of irreverence, profanation and sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament as their reason for acting.
Then, in 2008, the truth about this practice began to emerge. Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, at that time Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote: “It is now time to evaluate carefully the practice of Communion in the hand and if necessary to abandon what was never actually called for in the Vatican II document, Sacrosanctum Consilium.
The Archbishop wrote these words in his Preface to Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book Dominus Est, which scholarly work, by an expert in Patristics (Fathers of the Church), challenges the authenticity of this modern practice.
It is Bishop Schneider’s contention that what has been sold to the Catholic faithful as a return to the Eucharistic discipline of the early Christians is historically untenable.
The discipline of the early Christian Church, insists Mgr. Schneider, forbade both the placing of the Blessed Sacrament in the left hand and the touching of it by the faithful with their fingers. Rather, the faithful were obliged to bow reverently and consume the sacred host directly from the palm of the right hand, taking care to repeat the action to ensure that no consecrated particle remained. Additionally, women were required to cover the right hand with a white cloth.
Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise of San Luis, Argentina, in his book ‘Communion in the hand – Documents and history,’ concurs with the findings of Bishop Schneider, declaring: “It would be to deceive the faithful to make them think that receiving Communion in the hand would identify them more with the spirit of the primitive Church.”
Bishop Laise, now retired, also refused to permit Communion in the hand in his diocese, as has his successor.
Also in 2008, Mgr. Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, responding to the question of whether the Pope intended to make Communion on the tongue while kneeling mandatory at his Papal Masses, said:
I really think so. In this regard it is necessary not to forget that the distribution of Communion in the hand remains, even now, from the juridical standpoint, an indult from the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those Bishops’ Conferences which requested it. The method adopted by Benedict XVI tends to underscore the force of the norm valid for the whole Church.
One year later, On July 22, 2009, Cardinal Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, speaking to Life Site News, said: “It is the mission of this Congregation to work to promote Pope Benedict’s emphasis on the traditional practices of liturgy, such as reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling.”

These statements clarify three very essential points for Catholics today:
  1. Communion in the hand was not initiated by Vatican II or the Conciliar Popes.
  3. Communion in the hand is “an indult” from the universal law of the Church, which remains that of kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
  5. Communion in the hand is not the traditional practice of the Church’s liturgy.
The truth is that Communion in the hand was introduced illicitly into the Church in the mid 1960s. Pope Paul VI lamented this fact in his May 1969 ‘Instruction’ Memoriale Domini, stating: “in certain communities and in certain places this practice has been introduced without prior approval having been requested of the Holy See…
In the same document the Pope upholds the Traditional practice, declaring: “the Holy Father has decided not to change the existing way of administering Holy Communion to the faithful… The Apostolic See therefore emphatically urges bishops, priests and laity to obey carefully the law which is still valid and which has again been confirmed.
While it is true that Paul VI in Memoriale Domini provided for an indult under strict conditions for those countries were the “contrary usage” had then come to prevail, it is clear from the wording of the document that this provision was restricted to those countries alone. At the time, these were Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.
The intention of the Pontiff was evidently to isolate the novelty of the “contrary usage,” which he prophetically warned carries with it “… the danger of a loss of reverence for the august sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine.”
How the indult thereafter came to spread into many other countries is best explained by Bishop Laise, who writes: “These initiatives frequently could not be suppressed because they had spread too widely. With his great kindness and prudence, the Holy Father has frequently ceded, and many times he has done so against his will.
He then adds: “If the legislation did not change [that Communion on the tongue is the lawful practice], the obvious conclusion is that the only reason for the extension of the rite [of the practice of Communion in the hand] is that the Bishops did not listen to the vehement exhortation of Paul VI to diligently submit to the law in force and again confirmed.” [MD] (16).
That law of 1500 years has not been abrogated or superseded. This is the message Pope Benedict XVI is sending to the Church today. It is the message par excellence of St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote: “out of reverence for this Sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated.” (Summa, III, Q. 82. Art. 3).
In this Year of Faith, then, I hope every priest will weigh seriously the matter of Communion in the hand, which today is sadly more reminiscent of the practice introduced by the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century than that of the early Christians.
More importantly, I urge the Bishops to follow the Holy Father’s example of humble love for Our Eucharistic Lord by discouraging this “contrary usage” with its clear and proven dangers to faith and reverence.
To these I beg urgent reflection on this closing observation of Bishop Laise:
With Communion in the hand, a miracle would be required during each distribution of Communion to avoid some Particles from falling to the ground or remaining in the hand of the faithful….Let us speak clearly: whoever receives Communion in the mouth not only follows exactly the tradition handed down but also the wish by the last Popes and thus avoids placing himself in the occasion of committing a sin by negligently dropping a fragment of the Body of Christ.”
© Martin Blackshaw
January 2012