24 May 2011

New Our Lady of Walsingham Outdoor Shrine

Here is a peak -- by way of a lovely photograph by Margaret Pichon -- at the new Our Lady of Walsingham Outdoor Shrine at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church (Anglican Use) in Houston, Texas.  Some will remember the previous shrine which had been terribly damaged by vandals.  Parish plans for new building and hall renovations made it possible to also include the need for a new outdoor shrine.

The new structure is based on the surviving arch at Little Walsingham in England and within the arch of the new shrine the Corpus from the Crucifix of the old shrine now adorns the cross above the statue of the Child Jesus and Our Lady of Walsingham, now stationed high above the altar.  This new Shrine joins other new buildings and cloisters added to the Parish Church and Holy House Chapel, and the new shrine and buildings will be dedicated at 10:00 in the morning this Saturday, 28 May A.D. 2011 by His Eminence Daniel Cardinal Di Nardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston.  One may find more information on the Our Lady of Walsingham Parish and Shrine Website about these happy events in Houston in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

And a close-up of this most beautiful statue of the Child Jesus and Our Lady of Walsingham, in situ:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
 +Laus Deo!

Revisiting the treasure of a papal homily

Time to share sacred treasure found on another blog!  Some days ago I read again the following homily by the Holy Father on Dom Mark Daniel Kirby's excellent blog Vultus Christi -- which is not so much a blog as it is a work of art guiding the faithful reader in the spiritual life adoring Christ our Eucharistic Saviour and Lord -- and found myself struck again by how much Pope Benedict XVI gives to the Church in his sermons and how little these treasures are disseminated throughout the Church!  So I hope to do a little bit to advance the reading and remembrance of this memorable homily by reprinting it below together with the italicised remarks of Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, O.S.B. which at the very beginning give us context and background in brief.

[. . .] the feast of Pope Saint Peter Celestine, monk, Supreme Pontiff, and hermit. Last July 4th, in the context of the Year of Saint Celestine, proclaimed by the bishops of the Molise and Abruzzi regions of Italy, Pope Benedict XVI went to Aquila in pilgrimage to the saint. The Holy Father left his pallium on Saint Peter Celestine's tomb as a token of devotion to this remarkable saint who, after five months, resigned the papacy and retreated to his beloved solitude.

On the occasion of his visit to Aquila, Pope Benedict XVI Holy Mass and pronounced the following remarkable homily:

Hermit Elected Pope
Dear friends! My visit takes place on the occasion of the Jubilee Year proclaimed by the bishops of Abruzzo and Molise to celebrate the 800th anniversary of birth of St. Peter Celestine. Flying over your land I was able to contemplate the beauty of its landscape and, above all, admire some places closely linked to the life of this renowned figure: Mount Morrone, where Peter lived as a hermit for many years; the Hermitage of Sant'Onofrio, where in 1294 he received news of his election as Supreme Pontiff, which occurred at the conclave in Perugia; and the Abbey of Santo Spirito, whose main altar was consecrated by him after his coronation in the Basilica of Collemaggio in L'Aquila. In April of last year, after the earthquake that devastated this region, in this basilica I myself came to venerate the casket that contains his remains and leave the pallium that I received on the first day of my pontificate. More than 800 years have passed since the birth of St. Peter Celestine V, but he remains in history on account of the notable events of his pontificate and, above all, because of his holiness.

Ever Greater Luminosity of Holiness
Holiness, in fact, never loses its own power of attraction, it is not forgotten, it never goes out of fashion, indeed, with the passage of time, it shines with ever greater luminosity, expressing man's perennial longing for God. From the life of St. Peter Celestine, I would like to gather some teachings that are also valid for our days.

Peter Angelerio was a "seeker of God" from his youth, a man who was desirous to find the answers to the great questions of our existence: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I alive? For whom do I live? He went in search of truth and happiness, he went in search of God and, to hear his voice, decided to separate himself from the world and to live as a hermit. Silence thus became the element that characterized his daily life. And it is precisely in external silence, but above all in internal silence, that he succeeded in perceiving God's voice, a voice that was able to guide his life. Here a first aspect that is important for us: We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be "filled" with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God's voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others.

Divine Grace
But it is important to underscore a second element too: Peter Angelerio's discovery of God was not only the result of his effort but was made possible by the grace of God itself that came to him. What he had, what he was, did not come from him: it was granted to him, it was grace, and so it was also a responsibility before God and before others. Even if our life is very different from his, the same thing is also true for us: the entirety of what is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our intervention. The fact that I live does not depend on me; the fact that there were people who introduced me to life, that taught me what it means to live and be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of that is grace and not "done by me." We could have done nothing ourselves if it had not been given to us: God always anticipates us and in every individual life there is beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of his goodness. Because of this we must be attentive, always keep our "interior eyes" open, the eyes of our heart. And if we learn how to know God in his infinite goodness, then we will be able to see, with wonder, in our lives -- as the saints did -- the signs of that God, who is always near to us, who is always good to us, who says: "Have faith in me!"

Beauty of Creation
In interior silence, in perceiving the Lord's presence, Peter del Morrone developed a lively experience of the beauty of creation, the work of God's hands: he knew its deepest meaning, he respected its signs and rhythms, he used it for what is essential to life. I know that this local Church, like the others of Abruzzo and Molise, are actively engaged in a campaign of sensitivity to and promotion of the common good and of safeguarding creation: I encourage you in this effort, exhorting everyone to feel responsible for their own future, and that of others, respecting and caring also for creation, fruit and sign of God's love.

The Wide Open Arms of the Crucified God
In today's second reading, taken from the Letter to the Galatians, we heard a beautiful expression of St. Paul, which is also a perfect spiritual portrait of St. Peter Celestine: "For me the only boast is in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world" (6:14). Truly the cross was the center of his life. It gave him the strength to face bitter penances and the most difficult times, from youth to his last hour: he was always aware that through it comes salvation. The cross also gave St. Peter Celestine a clear awareness of sin that was always accompanied by an awareness that was just as clear of God's mercy for his creature. Seeing the wide-open arms of his crucified God, he felt himself transported into the infinite sea of God's love. As a priest he experienced the beauty of being the administrator of this mercy, absolving penitents of sin, and, when he was elected to the See of the Apostle Peter, he wanted to grant a special indulgence called "The Pardon." I would like to exhort priests to be clear and credible witnesses of the good news of reconciliation with God, helping the man of today to recover the sense of sin and God's forgiveness, to experience that superabundant joy that the prophet Isaiah spoke to us about in the first reading (cf. Isaiah 66:10-14).

Evangelization Rooted in Prayer
Finally, a third element: St. Peter, although he lived as a hermit, was not "closed in on himself" but was filled with passion to bring the good news of the Gospel to his brothers. And the secret of his pastoral fruitfulness was precisely in "abiding" in the Lord, in prayer, as we were also reminded by today's Gospel passage: the first priority is always to pray to the Lord of the harvest (cf. Luke 10:2). And it is only after this invitation that Jesus outlines some of the essential duties of the disciples: the serene, clear and courageous proclamation of the Gospel message -- even in moments of persecution -- without ceding to the allurement of fashion nor to that of violence and imposition; detachment from worry about things -- money, clothing -- confiding in the providence of the Father; attention and care especially for the sick in body and spirit (cf. Luke 10:5-9). These were also the characteristics of the brief and trying pontificate of Celestine V and these are the characteristics of the missionary activity of the Church in every age.

Remain Solid in the Faith
Brothers and sisters! I am among you to confirm you in the faith. I would like to exhort you, firmly and with affection, to remain solid in that faith that you have received, which gives meaning to life and gives one strength to love. May the example and intercession of the Mother of God and of St. Peter Celestine accompany us on this journey. Amen!

+Laus Deo!

Shawn Tribe's Brief Meditations on the Sacred Liturgy


Shawn Tribe often writes the most marvellous articles on The New Liturgical Movement, and so I always recommend his website for daily reading. Most especially I want to point out a post of his from 19 May 2011 that will prove to be very useful to anyone with a concern for the character of the Sacred Liturgy. His post is not very long but rich with the Church's authoritative teaching which at the same time is also profoundly beautiful.  His Brief Meditations on the Sacred Liturgy are of course from a Roman Catholic perspective, and I think it essential reading for Catholics but also very appropriate for those involved in similar discussions among Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians:

+Laus Deo!

Cardinal Burke @ World's Largest Abortuary

Cardinal Burke's Astounding Visit to Houston, Texas


+Laus Deo.

Cardinal Burke: The Theo-Centric Character of the Catholic Liturgy

I share this here thanking Shawn Tribe of The New Liturgical Movement website for making us all aware of the lecture's availability on video.

His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, gave the following lecture at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C. on Wednesday May 11, 2011.

There is no doubt that this is the most important lecture on the Sacred Liturgy to be made in North America following the release of Universae Ecclesiae, but this lecture's scope is the Theo-Centric Character of the Sacred Catholic Liturgy which is a broader topic than issues relating to the Most Ancient Use (Antiquior Usus) of the Catholic Liturgy.  

Cardinal Burke asks, "What has happened in our time to make it necessary to address the God-centred character of the Sacred Liturgy?"

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

+Laus Deo!

17 May 2011

From the BBC series: Part 2, Palestrina and the Popes

This is definitely the sort of thing my readers far from the reach of the BBC will find interesting and worth the time taken to stop, watch and listen to a fine beginning exploration of the Prince of Music and the Chair of St. Peter in Rome.
Unfortunately, the video has been removed from Gloria.tv. Nevertheless, I highly recommend Part 2 of the BBC series and hope it will be made available on DVD. Well worth seeking out!

10 May 2011

Paschaltide: An Excellent Sermon of the Archbishop of Westminster

The following is a sermon of Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster given for Solemn Evensong and the Commemoration of the Carthusian Martyrs St. John Houghton and Companions.

"The Holy Spirit ... Has Healed Many Wounds in the Church"

Shortly, from this chapel, where we have celebrated such a beautiful solemn evensong, we will process to the Chapel Court, the site of the ancient Priory Church. There, as the Master will remind us, the Carthusian Community – having a few days earlier undertaken their reconciliation with God and one another -- offered the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

They did so that the “gracious Comforter himself” would “console, strengthen and direct [their] hearts”. And, as we will hear, during that holy Mass the monks experienced the voice of a gentle breeze, which, though no more than a sweetly whispered murmur, was nevertheless an irresistible power.

It is so fitting that we are reminded of that outpouring of the Holy Spirit during this season of Eastertide. For Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection is also the time of the new coming of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus had promised in the Upper Room where he kept his Passover with the Twelve. Jesus, the Christ, consecrated by the Father with the anointing of the Holy Spirit, gave up his spirit on the cross so that risen he may bestow it upon his Apostles. “Receive the Holy Spirit”, he says. Then, just as he himself was sent, so he calls the Apostles to be ministers of, and witnesses to, that peace and reconciliation which are the fruits of the new creation inaugurated by his death and resurrection. This apostolic mission is given its definitive manifestation on the day of Pentecost. Full of the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles go out to fulfil faithfully their vocation, even though in so doing they encountered suffering and death.

That same Holy Spirit came upon the Carthusian martyrs whom we commemorate today. The gift of the Holy Spirit moved them to be reconciled with God and with one another. That soft murmur carried sweetly and strongly, to their inner ear, the very word of God: “Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are mine”; I will be with you through river and fire to bring you to the glory for which I have created you. Yes, a gentle breath convincing them utterly that the fiery trial ahead would make them nothing less than partakers in Christ’s sufferings -- thus something in which to rejoice! And it was “the spirit of glory and of God” resting upon them which enabled this brave brotherhood to believe unswervingly that “when [Christ’s] glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” The sound from Heaven heard just after the consecration of the Mass was indeed the promise of future glory: a sure hope on which to draw during their courageous witness to the truth of God and His holy Church.

That courageous witness was given four hundred and seventy six years ago today when Saint John Houghton, after pardoning his executioner with a moving embrace and kiss, went to his death praying one of the psalms we sang tonight: In te, Domine, speravi. It was such hope, born of the Spirit, such a firm trust in God our strong rock and deliverer, which preserved St John in fidelity to his calling and mission; such inspired trust and hope permitting St John in his suffering to give voice to the very passion of Christ: “Into your hands I commend my spirit”. In this, too, he was one with Christ’s Passover into the Father’s glory.

His nineteen companions gave the same witness, some of whom endured being tied to posts in filthy prisons and deprived of food. However, for a while at least, a Margaret Clement, disguised as a milkmaid, it is said, was able to smuggle in meat to these poor souls. Margaret had been brought up in the household of St. Thomas More, whom by association we may also include as a Charterhouse martyr. No doubt you know that as a young man he joined in the spiritual exercises of the Charterhouse and seriously considered joining the Community. Although he did not, the influence of the monks remained in his heart. In his Dialogue of Comfort, written whilst a prisoner in the Tower, he tells us that imprisonment for God’s sake is no displeasure. As an example to prove this he takes the “Holy Monks…of the Charterhouse Order, such as never pass their cells but only to the church set fast by their cells and thence to their cells again, wherein for God’s love they joyfully choose so to live.” And it was in his cell that St. Thomas echoes the trust of the Carthusian when he wrote: “God must be your comfort…And he is a sure comforter;…and therefore if, you be part of His flock, and believe His promise, how can you be comfortless in any tribulation? When Christ and his Holy Spirit, and with them their inseparable Father (if you put full trust and confidence in them), be never neither one finger breadth of space nor one minute of time from you.”

Guided by the Holy Spirit, St Thomas More discerned that his vocation was not monasticism but marriage. Of course, one can be called to both (but not at the same time!) as was demonstrated by one of the Carthusian Martyrs, Blessed Sebastian Newdigate. He married and had a daughter. Later, following the death of his wife, he entered the London Charterhouse. King Henry VIII, with whom Sebastian had enjoyed an intimate friendship, offered great riches to Sebastian if only he would conform to the Act of Supremacy. The king even visited Sebastian in prison in order to convince him to do so. However, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, Sebastian remained steadfast.

This fidelity of two Charterhouse martyrs who had lived as married men brings to mind the most recent marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. For it powerfully reminded us that Holy Matrimony calls the couple to be living witnesses to the Holy Spirit – The Lovers’ breath. The Spirit inflames the trust so essential to married life, trust not only between husband and wife but also – and above all -- in God. As Bishop Richard Chartres in his eloquent address explained: in the spirit of our generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to one another; that whatever the difficulties, they are to be committed to the way of self-sacrificing love, a generous love which allows the Spirit to flow. Yet such generous love, the true sustenance of enduring happiness, is not possible without that most fundamental trust in God. I think that the young Duke and Duchess do believe this. In the lovely prayer which they composed for their own wedding they asked God the Father to keep their eyes fixed on what is real and important in life, and they asked the grace of serving ‘in the Spirit of Jesus’ himself.

The Spirit of Jesus Christ was at work not only in that happy couple, but also in the gathering together of so many who shared in the splendid royal wedding. Assembled with Her Majesty the Queen were three cardinals, the Apostolic Nuncio representing the Holy See, and the present Archbishop of Westminster too! It was an occasion which showed that, even if not wholly, the Holy Spirit of peace and reconciliation has healed many wounds in the Church. Certainly there is a journey still to be completed, but how far we have come from the situation in the sixteenth century which we recall today! Furthermore, it struck me, sat as I was in the choir stalls with the Chief Rabbi and leaders of other religions as neighbours, that within the Abbey a certain bond of unity with those outside the Christian family had been forged. Was this not another manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work?

Certainly the royal wedding made a very favourable impression on many of my brother bishops from around the world who were at another great celebration which I attended last Sunday, the Beatification of Pope John Paul II. This too was a marvellous celebration of the fruits of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit empowered Blessed John Paul to respond whole-heartedly to the invitation of Christ: “Do not be afraid.” He was not afraid to forgive his would-be assassin. He was not afraid to proclaim the power of hope in Christ or to cross the threshold of that hope in search of freedom for so many. As Pope Benedict said in his homily, Pope John Paul encouraged many believers not to be afraid to speak the Gospel. Maybe it was during the closing days of his earthly life, when he could hardly speak, that Blessed John Paul spoke most authentically the Gospel of God’s love and unfailing mercy. Fortified by the Holy Spirit received through the Sacrament of Holy Anointing, in the midst of fragility of old age and the suffering caused by sickness, when fear can so easily overwhelm us, he witnessed to the abiding presence of God. To the end Blessed John Paul II taught us not to be afraid of accepting the call to holiness: for if we rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength, no matter our weakness in face of challenges, we will be victorious and find peace in that glory for which we were made.

Blessed John Paul II speaks to us still this evening. He assures us that no matter the obstacles still to be overcome, the Holy Spirit is leading the Church to the full realization of the Father’s plan. That plan, to which the will of Christ is perfectly conformed, is expressed with heartfelt urgency in his prayer uttered at the moment he entered the saving mystery of his Passover: Ut Unum Sint. In his encyclical on the commitment to ecumenism rooted in this prayer of Our Lord, Pope John Paul II wrote that Church “asks the Spirit for the grace to strengthen her own unity and to make it grow in full communion with other Christians; a grace to be obtained through hope in the Spirit, who can banish from us the painful memories of our separation and grant us the clear sightedness, strength and courage to take what steps are necessary, that our commitment may be ever more authentic.” (102)

So as we take our steps to the Chapel Court in the company of Saint John Houghton and his fellow Carthusian Martyrs, let us seek their intercession -- and Blessed John Paul II’s too. He would also ask to seek the help of that spirit-filled woman, Mary, who recognised that for God nothing is impossible. In answer to their prayers, may the grace of spiritual unction which they possessed so abundantly pass to us and softly charm our hearts. Gladdened and strengthened by that gift may we not be afraid to journey further along the path toward unity, knowing that the Lord walks with us every step of the way, no matter how arduous it may seem. May God’s holy will, that there be full and visible communion among all who rejoice in the name Christian, find fulfilment in and through us, to his eternal praise. Amen.

+Laus Deo.