Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Satan Hates Latin

(Published in New Liturgical Movement Web-site)

I just attended a talk by the exorcist for diocese of San Jose, Fr Gary Thomas. He is the subject of a book and a film called The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins. (The talk was organized by a group called Catholics at Work.)

First, he was a great speaker. He described how almost by accident, and after 20 years as a parish priest, he found himself sent to Rome to learn how to perform the Rite of Exorcism. He was very clear in saying that, in his opinion, the recent rise in interest in New Age paganism has opened the door to adherence to the occult for greater numbers of people than before, which in turn opens the way to diabolical possession. He has always been inundated with requests, even before the publicity.

The fact that he described these things pretty much in the same straightforward, matter-of-fact way that one might describe what goes on in a marriage or baptism in a parish RCIA class only served to reinforce the truth of it all for me. And I would say that if anything is to increase your faith, it is listening to accounts of how the Church overcomes the effects of possession by the devil and demons, and the suffering of those poor people who are affected by them.

I wanted to pass on one little comment that he made almost in passing. I do not know where he stands liturgically in regard to the Mass - there was nothing in what he said that led me to believe that he celebrates the Latin Mass, for example. However, he did explain that the Rite of Exorcism is only said in Latin. One reason is practical - there is no approved translation in English as yet. He gave another reason why he was so strongly in favor of the use of Latin in the Rite of Exorcism: “The Devil hates Latin, it is the universal language of the Church.” I asked him about this afterwards, and he repeated it, saying that his personal experiences as an exorcist who has performed many, many exorcisms have convinced him of this. He told me he had heard from exorcists who did exorcisms in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (the only approved vernaculars for this Rite) that Latin was the most effective language.

Reflecting on this it is not surprising that there was an eruption against the Latin Liturgy after Vatican II. Experiences indicate one of three reactions to the Traditional Mass: adverse, indifferent or welcoming. Unfortunately adverse and indifferent dominate at this time but hopefully one day it will change for the better: cannot come soon enough.

An interesting consequence of the above is our experimenting with Gregorian Chant after finding that holidays in the countryside, free from TV, WiFi and town living, brought a blessed relief and peace. Returning home soon dissipates this feeling of well-being and peace: why? Perhaps there is too much negativity in modern towns and cities today. In trying to recapture this peace we played soft background Gregorian Chant and much to our interest the peace seemed to return, and this would fit in with the above observations. Try it out yourselves: may a blessed peace fall on you.

Bob and Jane

A Reflection on the Prodigal Son

We often hear homilies and commentaries on this moving and very important parable from Jesus on the Prodigal Son which, especially in this Year of Mercy, pointing at us individually to change and go back home to the heavenly embrace of the Father via confession, and then we can make a fresh start in our lives. Very true and important advice to us all.

But we don't ever hear that not only individuals are addressed in this powerful parable but whole nations. It is quite clear, if you study history, that civilised societies decay and eventually collapse with terrible suffering inflicted on all of those concerned. Such situations are caused by the turning away from God, moral perversion, corruption and an overwhelming desire to seek one's own good and especially power through acquisition of money, and they become addicted to this false well-being which eventually leads to debt, discouragement and fear.

Today the world, in particular the West, through the mistaken belief that it can borrow itself out of trouble and, through science and technology, can do without God, has decided to formulate and follow its own natural defined laws, claiming evil to be good and vice versa and has squandered the graces built up over centuries of Christianity so that the pot is now virtually empty. On top of this there is a multi-trillion debt mountain never experienced before in the history of the world. When faced with this awesome approaching tsunami, our leaders', and indeed people's, only reaction is “more of the same”. So the world brings on itself the horrible suffering that clearly awaits us all, when we will be most fortunate to find any husks of swine we could eat. We see nations disappearing one after the other into the whirlpool of the abyss of spiritual desolation and despair.

The consequences of this massive turning away from God (any god), which is unprecedented in the history of the world has yet to begin to be played out. We see the early signs but these are rapidly smothered by the media, so that God's warnings, using nature, disasters and economic instability, are smothered by the climate change mantra or soothing words from scientists, economists or politicians. Without God, man is rendered powerless to achieve any lasting good and is doomed to self-degeneration in all aspects of life.

It is all there quite clear to see: convert back to God or spiritually perish. It is perhaps too late to stop the consequences of Western debauchery, but they might just be shortened if enough of us reject the world and return to our Heavenly Father who will welcome each one of those who return with great joy, running to embrace them. The world of today will, fortunately, not exist in its present deformed state tomorrow: it is just not sustainable. Who will listen to our Father's warnings by rejecting this world with all of its spiritually poisonous possessions that will one day go back to whence they came: mere dust, including silica sand.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Provision of Latin Masses - some thoughts

Paul Waddington, Local Representative for Middlesbrough Diocese writes:

27 FEBRUARY 2016

Is there Sufficient Provision of Usus Antiquior Masses?

A couple of months ago there appeared an article by one Monsignor Pope who argued that interest in the Traditional Latin Mass had reached a plateau, and was possibly even declining.  His view was that the expansion in the provision of Latin Masses far exceeded the demand, with the consequence of too many poorly attended Masses.  The implication was that the number of Latin masses should be reduced.  He was speaking in an American context, where the response to summorum pontificum was more generous than at this side of the Atlantic.  I will not comment on his arguments, as my knowledge of the American scene is limited.

However, I do feel able to comment on the extent and adequacy of the provision to extraordinary form Masses in England and Wales.  Prior to summorum pontificum, the extent, frequency and location of Latin Masses was largely at the discretion of the local ordinary, and provision varied markedly from diocese to diocese.  In only a handful of dioceses was there a regular Sunday Mass in the older form at a convenient time,  In most dioceses where there was provision for Sunday Masses, these took place at constantly moving locations, and at varying times, almost always in the afternoon.

In the aftermath of summorum pontificum, there was a significant increase in the provision - the average number of Sunday Masses in England and Wales increasing from about 25 to about 50. Mostly, the additional Masses were scheduled on a roster basis so that followers of the traditional Mass were expected to travel to a different church each Sunday to attend Masses scheduled at different times.  This was probably not a deliberate policy, but resulted from the difficulty in finding priests who were willing, and had the time, to celebrate additional Masses.  The possibility of substituting an established Novus Ordo Mass by an Extraordinary Form one was hardly considered for obvious reasons.

An additional point is that the location of EF Masses has generally been determined by the presence of a well disposed priests, rather than any strategic planning.  As a consequence, it is not uncommon for there to be two Latin Masses relatively near to each other, when there are huge areas in  the same diocese with no provision at all. This is something that can only be remedied by each diocese taking a lead and coming up with a coherent plan.  The evidence is that this has not happened in most dioceses.

The question of whether there is sufficient provision of usus antiquior Masses is not a simple one.  If one just looks at the average size of the congregation at Latin Masses, it is clear that there is over-provision, as congregations are generally small.  Looked at another way, there are many of the faithful who would dearly like to attend a Latin Mass, but cannot do so, because there is no provision in their area.  This would suggest under-provision.

One difficulty is in quantifying the inconvenience factor.  If Novus Ordo Masses were scheduled for 3pm or only took place on the third Sunday of the month, what would be the size of their congregation be?  Another factor is the need to allow congregations to build up.  The experience is that, given a convenient time in a decent church with an able priest at a suitable location, Latin Mass congregations will grow.  When the church of Sts Peter, Paul and Philomena in New Brighton was reopened by the Institute of Christ the King Supreme priest, the Sunday congregation was only about 40.  Now it is about four times that and still growing.

So, in judging the adequacy of provision, it is not sufficient to look at the attendance at existing Masses.  The demand needs to be assessed and then considerable thought needs to be given to the best way of satisfying the demand, always mindful of the limited resources that are available.

The above is a brief introduction to the current state of affairs in England and Wales.  The next post will consider some possible ways forward.

So How Should the Demand for the Latin Mass be Satisfied?

We must start from the premise that almost all diocesan priests are already overworked and would find difficulty taking on the celebration of additional Masses.  It follows that, either more priests must be found or that Latin Masses will need to be provided in substitution  for existing novus ordo Masses, rather than in addition.

Taking the first point, there is an emerging source of priests who are more than keen to to provide usus antiquior Masses.  I refer to the traditional Orders.  The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter has had several Englishmen ordained to the priesthood in recent years, and expects to have a steady stream of ordinations during the next decade.  There is every prospect that the number of vocations to the priesthood in the traditional orders will continue to grow.

We have already benefited from the Institute of Christ the King Supreme Priest taking over churches in New Brighton and Preston, and the FSSP taking over one in Warrington.  Although it is too soon to make a final judgement, the indications are that these are prospering as centres for traditional liturgies.  It is to be hoped that as the traditional orders ordain more priests, churches will continue to be handed over to their care.  This solution tends to work well in the larger towns that have several Catholic Churches, and where consideration is already being given to closing churches.  This is surely a win-win solution.

A second approach is for each diocese to consider where Latin Masses would be best located.  In most cases, this would mean selecting churches in the greater centres of population, where larger congregations can be expected.  Currently, Latin Masses are frequently provided in remote or village locations, and it is unsurprising that these attract small congregations.  In the case of the Diocese of Middlesbrough,  The obvious locations would be Hull, York, Scarborough and Middlesbrough itself, all of which have multiple churches.

A process of merging parishes in in these locations has been going on for years, and surely such mergers should provide the opportunity to reconsider Latin Mass provision.