Monday, 29 August 2011

EA Seminarians are now in the 21st Century

The East Anglia Seminarians' blog is now available on your phone. The mobile web version should load automatically on your mobile or smartphone instead of the normal web version.

Now you have no excuse not to follow your favourite seminarians all day, every day, except during Mass, of course!


In 24 hours, I shall probably be on my way back to Oscott, a day before the start of third year!

Where has all the time gone?

Term begins on Wednesday, with the arrival of all the new students, both those who were formerly students of St Cuthbert's, Ushaw, as well as the first year, many, but by no means all, of whom are joining us from St Alban's, Valladolid. With all these new students, I think the house will number around 56, up from 26 last year (including part-time). The house-list on the website hasn't been updated yet, so I don't know who most of these people are, but then my curiosity will be satisfied in a few days.

Last year, we said 'goodbye' to our three brethren from the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who are now all ordained and at home in India, but this year, we say 'hello' to three new brethren from the Order of St Augustine, who will be studying philosophy at Oscott.

The Friars Hermits, as they were once called, have a house in Harbourne in Birmingham, which is on the opposite side of the city, near Edgbaston. They are also not strangers to our diocese of East Anglia. The Austin Friars still have a house in Clare in Suffolk, and have pastoral responsibility for that parish. Putting my history-hat on, the Order, both the canons and friars, had several houses in East Anglia before the Protestant Reformation, including Walsingham Priory.

We are also joined by an additional brother from the Society of Divine Vocations, who have made their mark on the Oscott community in the past few years! Two of their existing students are undertaking their extended placement this term, so will not be joining us at college for a few months.

Maybe there are more religious students I have not heard about yet. Not to mention the all the secular students, who are still in the majority!

East Anglia has no new students this year, but there are a number of applications this year, so keep these aspirants in your prayers over this year during their application process.

And please don't stop praying for vocations to the priesthood! 

It is really great news that Oscott has a larger first year than we have seen for a while, and that the propaedeutic seminary in Valladolid is over-subscribed again, and English students will even being going to seminary in Ars this academic year.

It has been a year since the Papal visit, so we are only just seeing the first fruits of that visit in aspirants who are coming forward today. With prayer and a firm conviction, let us all do our part in building a culture of vocations in our parishes, making spiritual sacrifices, and supporting young men who you think may be suitable. Nurture the faith of young people with orthodox Catholicism. Support your parish prayer groups, social groups and youth clubs, and attend exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

The People of God must consent to the ordination of a priest at his ordination, so the People of God must do their part in helping them from the start. It might seem silly, but don't overestimate the power of the question, "have you ever thought of being a priest?"

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Mass with seminarians

As is now usual, the Pope celebrates the Mass for seminarians during World Youth Day. Madrid was no exception. His homily, as, we know, is normal for our Holy Father, was beautiful and powerful, and it is well-worth reading in full. I hope one day, all of his writings, sermons and speeches will be gathered into a magnum opus!

Until then, a large chunk of his homily from last week appears here below, with some highlights.

Dear friends, you are preparing yourselves to become apostles with Christ and like Christ, and to accompany your fellow men and women along their journey as companions and servants. How should you behave during these years of preparation? First of all, they should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify.
Meditate well upon this mystery of the Church, living the years of your formation in deep joy, humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live. No one chooses the place or the people to whom he is sent, and every time has its own challenges; but in every age God gives the right grace to face and overcome those challenges with love and realism. That is why, no matter the circumstances in which he finds and however difficult they may be, the priest must grow in all kinds of good works, keeping alive within him the words spoken on his Ordination day, by which he was exhorted to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.
To be modeled on Christ, dear seminarians, is to be identified ever more closely with him who, for our sake, became servant, priest and victim. To be modeled on him is in fact the task upon which the priest spends his entire life. We already know that it is beyond us and we will not fully succeed but, as St Paul says, we run towards the goal, hoping to reach it (cf. Phil 3:12-14).
That said, Christ the High Priest is also the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, even giving his life for them (cf. Jn 10:11). In order to liken yourselves to the Lord in this as well, your heart must mature while in seminary, remaining completely open to the Master. This openness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, inspires the decision to live in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and, leaving aside the world’s goods, live in austerity of life and sincere obedience, without pretence.
Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders. Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice.
Under the guidance of your formators, open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you. Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts.

So, in summary...

  • Seminary is a time when seminarians prepare themselves to become apostles with Christ and become like Christ, and be with others as companions and servants on their own journeys. 
  • Time in seminary should be spent, primarily in: 
  1. interior silence
  2. unceasing prayer
  3. constant study
  4. gradual insertion into the pastoral and structural life of the Church
  • The Church is shaped by our holiness and our sinfulness, but ultimately, the source of its holiness is the Lord.
  • Priests are living signs of Christ, therefore, priests should strive to be holy themselves. Anything other than this is a sign of contraction, hypocrisy. Seminarians strive towards holiness during their time in seminary.
  • God gives everyone the grace to live their calling; priests should be mindful that their calling is to model themselves on the Lord's cross, and least strive towards that goal.
  • The heart of a seminarian should be open to what the Lord is asking him to do, particularly, in striving to live the Evangelical Counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) in sincerity.
  • Do not be afraid to unmask the false gods that are worshipped in our society!

Pope Benedict also mentions to things that seminarians (and priests) should avoid absolutely in striving to imitate Christ in his charity towards others:

Anxiety: a subjective 'feeling' and interior disposition whereby persons to worry about uncertain outcomes. This word is being eliminated from the English translation of the Embolism (after the Lord's Prayer) in the new translation of Mass, incidentally, not only because it is an in-appropriate translation and oft-misused word, but Christians have no need to be anxious and without hope, as St Paul says (1 Th 4:12-3). The new translation uses 'distress' instead; all people, including Christians, often feel distressed by external threats, not interior feelings, as modern western society tells us. Our passions should not govern our being, and anxiety, according to this understanding (rather than the psychological condition), is contrary to the Gospel. We are a beacon of hope to others. How can we be that beacon without hope burning within ourselves?

Mediocrity: At the end of the film, Amadeus, Salieri says that there is no place for mediocrity in God's glory, it means to be moderate or not very good. This doesn't mean not being good at doing things. I'm not very good at painting. We know from our Thomisic philosophy, that a being is not defined by what it does, but by what it is. The priest's being in ontologically conformed with Christ, so God doesn't want us to be moderately Christ-like. "...because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth." (Rev 3:16)

Friday, 19 August 2011

Half-way through WYD

I've been following all the goings-on in Madrid via the internet. We can't really watch anything on the secularist state broadcast news, which only seeks to cover a small protest of around a hundred people, never mind the witness to faith of a million young people! Here's a picture of some of them, including our very own seminarians:

Our East Anglian brethren!
Since the arrival of Pope Benedict, I've been reading his speeches, addresses and sermons, and I'll replicate a few segments here. As ever, the Holy Father doesn't shy away from reality, and, I think, much of what he says is particularly relevant for us in Britain, given our recent civil disturbances. His words are always encouraging and inspiring. 

Please take a few moments to read these extracts. I promise you will appreciate it afterwards!

Here's what he said when he arrived in Madrid, addressing the core problems faced by young people, and, indeed, all people, head on.

Many of [these young people] have heard the voice of God, perhaps only as a little whisper, which has led them to search for him more diligently and to share with others the experience of the force which he has in their lives. The discovery of the living God inspires young people and opens their eyes to the challenges of the world in which they live, with its possibilities and limitations. They see the prevailing superficiality, consumerism and hedonism, the widespread banalization of sexuality, the lack of solidarity, the corruption. They know that, without God, it would be hard to confront these challenges and to be truly happy, and thus pouring out their enthusiasm in the attainment of an authentic life. But, with God beside them, they will possess light to walk by and reasons to hope, unrestrained before their highest ideals, which will motivate their generous commitment to build a society where human dignity and true brotherhood are respected. Here on this Day, they have a special opportunity to gather together their aspirations, to share the richness of their cultures and experiences, motivate each other along a journey of faith and life, in which some think they are alone or ignored in their daily existence. But they are not alone. Many people of the same age have the same aspirations and, entrusting themselves completely to Christ, know that they really have a future before them and are not afraid of the decisive commitments which fulfill their entire lives. That is why it gives me great joy to listen to them, pray with them and celebrate the Eucharist with them. World Youth Day brings us a message of hope like a pure and youthful breeze, with rejuvenating scents which fill us with confidence before the future of the Church and the world.
Of course, there is no lack of difficulties. There are tensions and ongoing conflicts all over the world, even to the shedding of blood. Justice and the unique value of the human person are easily surrendered to selfish, material and ideological interests. Nature and the environment, created by God with so much love, are not respected. Moreover, many young people look worriedly to the future, as they search for work, or because they have lost their job or because the one they have is precarious or uncertain. There are others who need help either to avoiddrugs or to recover from their use. There are even some who, because of their faith in Christ, suffer discrimination which leads to contempt and persecution, open or hidden, which they endure in various regions and countries. They are harassed to give him up, depriving them of the signs of his presence in public life, not allowing even the mention of his holy name.
But, with all my heart, I say again to you young people: let nothing and no one take away your peace; do not be ashamed of the Lord. He did not spare himself in becoming one like us and in experiencing our anguish so as to lift it up to God, and in this way he saved us.

Later, in Madrid itself, during a Liturgy of the Word, he delivered a homily on the Gospel of the house build on solid rock, from which the next extract is taken. He speaks here of rooting one's life in Christ, not giving in to the temptations which lead us away from true life.

Indeed, there are many who, creating their own gods, believe they need no roots or foundations other than themselves. They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment. These temptations are always lying in wait. It is important not to give in to them because, in reality, they lead to something so evanescent, like an existence with no horizons, a liberty without God. We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness, responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative co-workers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation. God is looking for a responsible interlocutor, someone who can dialogue with him and love him. Through Christ we can truly succeed and, established in him, we give wings to our freedom. Is this not the great reason for our joy? Isn’t this the firm ground upon which to build the civilization of love and life, capable of humanizing all of us? 
Dear friends: be prudent and wise, build your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ. This wisdom and prudence will guide your steps, nothing will make you fear and peace will reign in your hearts. Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others. They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe. 
He died for us all, rising that we might have life, and now, from the throne of the Father, he accompanies all men and women, watching continually over each one of us.

Finally, this evening, during a celebration of the Way of the Cross. He spoke of suffering, and said:

As we were making our way with Jesus towards the place of his sacrifice on Mount Calvary, the words of Saint Paul came to mind: “Christ loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). In the face of such disinterested love, we find ourselves asking, filled with wonder and gratitude: What can we do for him? What response shall we give him? Saint John puts it succinctly: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 3:16). Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles. On the contrary, he became one of us “in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood … hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God’s compassionate love — and so the star of hope rises” (Spe Salvi, 39).
Dear young friends, may Christ’s love for us increase your joy and encourage you to go in search of those less fortunate. You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion. The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord’s way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. “To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves — these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself” (ibid.).
Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the Cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the Cross, by which man lives. The Cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one’s life. The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The Cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men. Here we recognize the icon of supreme love, which teaches us to love what God loves and in the way that he loves: this is the Good News that gives hope to the world.
Let us turn our gaze now to the Virgin Mary, who was given to us on Calvary to be our Mother, and let us ask her to sustain us with her loving protection along the path of life, particularly when we pass through the night of suffering, so that we may be able to remain steadfast, as she did, at the foot of the Cross.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Of saints and things...

Meanwhile, some of us have remained at home!

I've recently been in a rainy York, where, amongst other things, I visited the shrine of St Margaret Clitherow. St Margaret was a convert to Catholicism, who enabled the celebration of Mass in her house in the city of York. Her son trained as a priest in the English seminary in Douai. St Margaret was arrested in 1586 for protecting Catholic priests, who were regarded as traitors, and executed, not, interestingly, for that crime, but for refusing to make a plea during her trial. She was crushed to death - an agonising death which took 15 minutes - on Good Friday, 1586, which was also the feast of the Annunciation that year. Queen Elizabeth, unusually, issued a protest to the city of York for ordering the execution, as a woman should not have been executed for her crime, according to law.

The Shrine of St Margaret Clitherow, York

Today, there is a small shrine to St Margaret Clitherow on the Shambles, which is a twee little street in the city centre, filled with tourists and sweetshops. This present shrine was not the site of her house - that is a few doors down - but Mass is celebrated in this little chapel every Saturday at 10 am. I wonder how many tourists and visitors are aware of such a significant shrine; many people wander into the chapel, as it opens directly onto the street.

Even though I have visited this chapel many times, I had never really noticed that alongside the statue of St Margaret is a statue of Blessed Thomas Thwing. He will be well-known to Oscotians, as, along with Blessed Nicholas Postgate, we have a number of his relics in the Chapel; they were the last priests to be martyred in England, in the wake of the Titus Oates plot in the 1670s. Oates, a former Catholic and seminarian, wrongly accused a number of Catholic priests of treason, who were swiftly led to the gallows. Blessed Thomas was, interestingly, the first chaplain to the newly established congregation of un-cloistered nuns based in York, inspired by the Jesuits, and led by the Venerable Mary Ward, who are now known as the Congregation of Jesus, who are still present in Cambridge.

These little historical links can be interesting, occasionally!

My new lithograph, depicting the martyrdom of St Edmund

Another twist of fate allowed me to find a 19th century illuminated lithograph of the martyrdom of St Edmund, the patron saint of our diocese, as well as a depiction of Our Lady of Walsingham, which I 'rescued', and I look forward to hanging it in my room in Oscott, as a reminder of East Anglia!

World Youth Day!

Well, it's about 140 hours before World Youth Day begins, at the start of next week, on the feast of St Roch. The week will culminate next Sunday, with a prayer vigil and Mass with the Holy Father in Madrid's 'Four Winds' airport.

Cuatro Vientos airport, which will be transformed next week
The East Anglian contingent are already on their way, and they will be joined by many others on their journey over the coming days.

Making sure all the mitres are well ironed!
We'll all be keeping the pilgrims, and those preparing the event, in our prayers during the next week, I'm sure, and we await to see and hear about all the wonderful events.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Vocations and fiction

I’ve just finished one of my summer novels, Ken Follet’s 1989 epic drama, The Pillars of the Earth. Set in the twelfth-century, it tells the story of the building of a priory cathedral in a fictional town in Wiltshire. It was a really good read, and I look forward to reading the sequel one day, but I would warn those who have not read it themselves, that it is quite risque and violent in places! I’ve now run out of novels at home, but waiting for me at Oscott is the first of the Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles, which is a historical crime fiction series, a little like Cadfael, but set in out very own Cambridge, which was recommended to me when I was on placement in Cambridge in January. 

Like any good novel, there is a web of intermingling story-lines and characters in The Pillars of the Earth, which was recently adapted for television on Channel 4, which I have not seen. Because of my history background and pedantic nature, I wear a tiara of skepticism when judging historical-fictional drama, which clouds my overall judgement of the story. The liturgical scenes, even in the book, were horrific, but most of the story was beautiful in its humanity. One of the principal characters, Philip, is the Prior of Kingsbridge, who commissioned the cathedral. A conversation between him, and a young monk, Jonathan, who was brought to the priory as an abandoned baby, brought a smile to my face as I read it, and so I’ve reproduced it here. Brother Jonathan is talking to Prior Philip about vocation, and asks him: 

“What do you think my task might be?” 
“God needs monks to be writers, illuminators, musicians and farmers. He needs men to take on the demanding jobs, such as cellarer, prior, and bishop. He needs men who can trade in wool, heal the sick, educate the schoolboys and build churches.” 
“It’s hard to imagine that he has a role cut out for me.” 
“I can’t think he would have gone to this much trouble with you if he didn’t,” Philip said with a smile. “However, it might not be a grand or prominent role in worldly terms. He might want you to become one of the quiet monks, a humble man who devotes his life to prayer and contemplation.” 
Jonathan’s face fell. “I suppose he might.” 
Philip laughed. “But I don’t think so. God wouldn’t make a knife out of wood, or a lady’s chemise out of shoe leather. You aren’t the right material for a life of quietude, and God knows it. My guess is that he wants you to fight for him, and not sing to him.” 
“I certainly hope so.” 
“But right now I think he wants you to go and see Brother Leo and find out how many cheeses he has for the cellar at Kingsbridge.” 

While all Christians have a vocation to holiness (the universal vocation), as explained by the Second Vatican Council, and by many saints, each individual Christian is called to perform some ‘definite service’, as Blessed John Henry wrote about his own vocation. A large part of vocational discernment is trying out ‘what fits’. If something feels like the right thing to do, after prayer and, importantly, discussion with others, it is probably a big divine push in the right direction! As Prior Philip suggested in his conversation, different vocations are not ‘more important’ than other vocations. They are different in expression, but equal in dignity: from bishops to builders, even counting cheeses! All are works of service to the Lord, and equal in value. It’s also important to remember that we actually have to do something about it; discernment is a process, not a destination. 

We are called, as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, to emulate the life and virtues of Our blessed Lord, but that is always partnered with God’s sanctifying grace working within us. He is the Vine, and we are the branches. The branches are the bits of the plant that we see working: the fruit and leaves grow on the branches, but the branches themselves are fed by sap from the Vine itself. How gloriously humbling it is to freely accept that we are mere instruments of the all Holy God. Recall what happened to Peter, walking on the water, when he took his eyes off Christ the Lord. We are fools to think that we can try to live our vocation without beseeching the Lord to feed us with the means to do it! 

Veni Creator Spiritus!

The importance of prayer for vocations: a pastoral theology situation

Sometimes, I look back over my life, and I’m overwhelmed and humbled by some of the extraordinary moments of grace which I have been able to witness taking place in and through other people, mainly in monasteries and hospitals. As grace operates differently in different people, some of these moments may seem banal to others!

One of these little moments of grace was during post-Mass coffee, which I have, just for fun, turned into a pastoral theology-style ‘situation’ we have to discuss at Oscott.

Parishioner 1 was talking about vocations to the priesthood, and that the fewer number of priestly vocations being pursued suggests that the Church reconsider the discipline of priestly celibacy.

Parishioner 2 interjected, suggesting that, in reality, we, as laypersons in parishes, are not doing much about the vocations crisis. Parishioner 2 said that, if we really believed in the vital importance of the ministerial priesthood, we would be earnestly praying, in public, for vocations every day, after Mass, or at another time, like we used to.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Another recommendation...

Talk of the CTS has reminded me of my intention to recommend another new pamphlet about the priesthood.
A Priest Forever: Continuity in an Age of Change, is written by Fr John Saward, from Oxford. 

Here’s a little quotation from the booklet, taken from the website of the newly-founded British Province Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, which sums up the booklet quite well:
...In virtue of the character of Holy Order, the Priest differs from the layman in three ways.  First, the priest is an ‘image’ of Christ in a way which the layman is not; secondly, he acts in the person of Christ the Head, which the layman does not; and thirdly, he possesses an active instrumental power that the layman does not... What the Priest is, he must become. His sacerdotal being is his chief motivation for sanctity. By virtue of his ordination, through the indelible character conferred upon him, the priest is objectively the image of Christ, with the power to act in Christ’s person in consecrating and absolving. But he is also called to become an image of Christ through the spiritual beauty of a Christlike life, by the exercise of the Christian and priestly virtues. Ontologically, he is an alter Christus; he must now become an alter Christus morally and spiritually, a priest according to the Heart of Christ.
Intended primarily to priests, it is clearly also helpful for the faithful to grow in understanding of the ministerial priesthood, and for men aspiring for the priesthood, to help them on their journey of discernment. It is a really excellent read, and short too!
I’m sure I’ve heard about the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, but I’ve only just discovered their flashy website, which is worth taking a look at. It is a fraternity of diocesan clergy, which seeks to encourage fidelity to the Church in service of the People of God, and assist the clergy in living their sacred vocation. 

Lest anyone suggest that the blog has gone into abeyance over the summer...!

An important aspect of seminary formation are the holidays away from the seminary. 
But still, it is now August, and Oscott is starting early this year, on 31st, so it won’t be long before we all have to file back through the gates again. 
I’ve enjoyed spending time at home, catching up with my reading (that’s novels, of course, not course-books!) in the sunshine, as well as spending the odd weekend away, or day-trip somewhere, usually involving trawling the antique-shops of East Anglia and the East Midlands. I’ve also spent a lot of my time in my parish, not just drinking tea and eating biscuits with parishioners, but serving and reading at Mass, assisting funerals and baptisms, scuttling off for the occasional sick visit, and, here at home, helping to implement the new translation of the Roman Missal, which will arrive on every Missal stand this September. 
As there hadn’t been any preparation for the new translation at home, it was clear that parishioners were exposed to the new translation as soon as possible, so I’ve led an hour-long catechetical workshop several times over the past few weeks, explaining the reasons behind the changes, and some of the important changes themselves. 
It was heartening to see that almost everybody received the texts really well, and are, mostly, looking forward to their implementation. 
During the reformation of the rite of Mass from 1964, culminating in the introduction ordinary form of our rite in 1969, there was little catechesis or instruction on the changes; an opportunity lost. We are now given, in my view, the best, most effective catechetical opportunity since then, and, perhaps, for many generations still, to help the faithful grow in their understanding of the Christian religion and its sacred rites. It is a shame to see this opportunity not taken up enthusiastically, partly, I suspect, because of lack of resources rather than hostility, so I was glad when a number of parishioners seemed keen to have much more in-depth instruction, the notes for which I’ll be preparing over the next few days. I pray that the Holy Spirit may bestow some of His Wisdom on His servant!
Just to give you something to read over the summer, I may write a few bits and pieces on this blog before September!
Speaking of liturgy, Oscott says goodbye to its liturgy lecturer, Father Timothy Menezies, who has been appointed Vicar General of the diocese of Birmingham. He is replaced by Monsignor Bruce Harbert, of Birmingham, who has been heavily involved in the new translation. 
The Catholic Truth Society (CTS, which can be found at this website) is the new publisher of liturgical texts in this country. As well as producing Missals, they have also provided for the faithful a number of little instructional booklets as part of a new Living the Liturgy series, which I’d like to recommend here. 
The first, Companion to the Order of Mass (LT01) by Mgr Harbert, is an almost line-by-line of the new translation of the liturgical texts of the Missal, particularly, making connexions with scared scripture. Mgr Harbert’s wit and scholarly talent shines through in this short booklet, which, as well as being an account of the translation process, but an excellent spiritual reflection. Much of its content was present to Oscott during our summer pastoral study days, which, if it isn’t a little exaggeration, has really affected my spiritual life. I’d recommend this booklet to anyone and everyone, as it is very accessible, as well as rich and powerful.
The second work, by Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, is Understanding the Roman Missal (LT02) which is a short spiritual reflection on the Mass, and, importantly, links parts of the Mass to scripture and magisterial teachings. The new rite of Mass has been severely lacking in accessible spiritual commentaries, in the model of Abbot Prosper Gueranger (late 19th century); hopefully, these two little booklets will re-ignite a passion for commentaries!