Sunday, 25 September 2016

In hock to the devil


Two depressing stories of great powers in the world whose appalling record on the human rights - allegedly held in such high honour by western secular governments - is ignored, I guess for the sake of filthy lucre (cf Titus 1:11.  For there are also many disobedient, vain talkers, and seducers who must be reproved, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre' s sake.)  I presume that buying oil and selling coca cola justifies the turning of blind eyes. 

EWTN carries this story about 27 Lebanese Maronite Christians, including women and children, who have been deported for celebrating the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady in their home. This in a country where Muslims converting to Christianity can be punished by death. Christians make up about 3% of the Saudi population. Where any Muslim, not just the religious police, has the right to take away any Christian religious object or symbol from Christians, such as Bibles, rosaries or crosses. Read the full report HERE.

The Catholic Herald reports the story of the trade in human organs in China, horrifically  carried out as part of punishment for those who disagree with its communist government. thousands of prisoners of conscience – potentially including unregistered “house church” Christians – are strapped to operating tables and cut apart by force. Their vital organs are then extracted and sold for use as transplants.


O Mary, merciful Refuge of Sinners and Mother of all mankind! Behold how many souls are lost every hour! Behold how countless millions of those who live in barbarous regions do not yet know Our Lord Jesus Christ! See, too, how many others are far from the bosom of Mother Church which is Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman! O Mary ... life of our hearts ... let not the Precious Blood and fruits of Redemption be lost for so many souls!

Grant that a ray of Heavenly light may shine forth to enlighten those many blinded understandings and to enkindle so many cold hearts. Intercede with thy Divine Son, and obtain grace for all pagans, heretics, and schismatics in the whole world to receive supernatural light and to enter with joy into the bosom of the true Church. Hear the confident prayer of the Supreme Pontiff that all nations may be united in one faith, that they may know and love Jesus Christ, the blessed fruit of thy womb ... And then all men shall love thee also, thou who art the salvation of the world, arbiter and dispenser of the treasures of God . . . And, glorifying thee, O Queen of Victories, who, by means of thy Rosary, dost trample upon all heresies, they shall acknowledge that thou givest life to all nations, since there must be a fulfillment of the prophecy: "All generations shall call me blessed." Amen.

-----Pope Pius XI

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Monthly Clergy Recollection Evenings at Warrington

Archbishop Malcolm at St Mary's last year.

The Fraternity Fathers at St Mary's, Warrington are starting up Clergy Recollection evenings once a month. Any opportunity for clergy to get together for mutual support and encouragement is very welcome. I know from experience that you will receive a warm welcome.

They will take place every third Wednesday in the month: i.e. 21st September; 19th October; 16th November; 21st December 2016.

·         6pm-7pm Holy Hour with Confessions
·         7pm-8pm: doctrinal/spiritual talk and questions and answers
·         8pm onwards: refreshment/dinner

Please confirm your attendance, in advance,for the meal for catering purposes.

THEME for 21st September: Fr de Malleray, FSSP will give a talk on Divine Mercy and Holy Mass. As the Year of Mercy initiated by Pope Francis is nearing its end, we will go through the prayers of the Mass in the EF Missal and follow the thread of Divine Mercy. In fact, St Faustina attended Mass daily in the Usus Antiquior, and it is very fitting that her revelations on Divine Mercy were supported and inspired by the liturgy of the Church, from which she would draw her spiritual energy.

Access by train: 5mn walk from Warrington Central, 15mn walk from Warrington Bank Quay (under 2h from London Euston direct).
By road: driving up Mersey Street from the river, turn left into Smith Street just before the Borough Arms pub and park onto our church car park at the end.
Air: 25 minute drive from either Liverpool or Manchester airport.
Contact and Google Map:!contact/c24ju

Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP
Rector, St Mary’s Priory, Smith Street, Warrington, Cheshire, WA1 2NS, England

01925 635664 –

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

EF Mass at Sizergh Castle

For anyone within travelling distance, Sizergh Castle (Kendal LA8 8DZ) is host once again to the Lancaster LMS Society for 

Low Mass at 7pm this Friday 9th.

It is the commemoration of St Gorgonius, an officer in Diocletian's household, who converted many at the imperial court. He was condemned to a horrific death in AD 302.

The Castle is home to the Hornyold-Strickland family (who always make us very welcome), and to the Strickland family since 1239. It's possible that Catherine Parr lived here for a while, and Sir Thomas Strickland was a member of the court of James II in exile.  While it's probable that the pele tower contained an oratory, the current chapel is at the end of one of two wings forming a courtyard, so you need to proceed along the driveway , which takes you along the left hand side of the building, and park in the second courtyard.

St. Gorgonius, St. Dorotheus and St. Adrian, Martyrs
by Father Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876 

The Roman Martyrology commemorates St. Gorgonius and St. Dorotheus, on 9th September. St. Gorgonius, though chamberlain of the heathen Emperor, Dioclesian, was secretly a Christian, and with the assistance of Dorotheus, who occupied a similar position, he gradually converted all the chamberlains of the court to the Christian religion. 

One day, when both had witnessed the cruel torturing of a Christian, condemned by the emperor, their hearts were filled with the desire to suffer martyrdom for their faith, and addressing Dioclesian they said: "Why do you torture only him? We profess the same religion, and we wish to suffer for Christ's sake as he suffers." The Emperor was highly incensed at these words, and both were immediately barbarously scourged, after which, salt and vinegar were poured upon their wounds. When this had been done, they were chained upon a gridiron, placed over a fire, and having been thus roasted for some time, they were at length hung. Thus died these two holy martyrs, animated to endurance by witnessing the martyrdom of others. 

St. Adrian was converted in a similar manner. He was about twenty-eight years old, descended from the first Roman nobility, and was one of the most distinguished of the imperial courtiers under Maximian Galerius. He was often a witness of the sufferings of the Christians when they were tortured in the presence of the emperor. Considering the constancy and joy with which they suffered the most cruel pains, he came to the conclusion that such strength must be more than human, and that there must be a God who imparted it, and further, that this God must be the only true one. Having arrived thus far, he would no longer hide the change that had taken place in him, and he confessed publicly that he was a Christian, and desired to live and die as such. No sooner had the Emperor Maximian been acquainted with this, than he commanded him to be cast into a dungeon, where twenty-three others were already confined. Natalia, the wife of Adrian, who, for a long time, had been a Christian, was greatly rejoiced when she heard of his conversion. She hastened to the dungeon, threw herself upon his neck, kissed the chains that fettered him, and praised him that at last he had recognized the truth of Christianity. Having encouraged him to remain firm in the approaching combat, she had to leave him as she was not permitted to stay any longer. 

A few days later, Adrian was informed that the emperor had sentenced him to die. Not in the least terrified at this message, he bribed the jailer to allow him to go to his wife and communicate to her this joyful news, promising to return in a few hours. When on his way, he met an acquaintance, who hastened before him to prepare Natalia for the coming of her husband. She was terrified when she heard of his coming, thinking that he must have become faithless to Christ. Running hastily to the door of the house, she closed it against him, saying that she neither could nor would recognize as her spouse, one who had become an apostate. Adrian called to her to listen, as he had not renounced the true faith, but had only returned to bring her the joyful news that he had been sentenced to die. Quickly opening the door to him, Natalia, falling at his feet, begged his pardon, and after some conversation, she returned with him to the prison, where she renewed her exhortations that he would remain firm, and she prayed to God to give him strength in his approaching martyrdom. 

The day on which Adrian was brought before the Emperor, Natalia, going to him, said: "The time has now arrived, my beloved spouse, to manifest your noble resolutions. Think of the Almighty. Your sufferings will end, but the reward which you will receive in heaven has no end. If you have been brave in combating for your Emperor, who could give you only an earthly recompense, how much braver ought you to be when fighting for Christ, who will give you an eternal crown." Adrian, filled with Christian heroism, went to the Emperor, and as he fearlessly confessed Christ, the tyrant ordered him first to be scourged with rods, then beaten with clubs, and after this, to be torn with small iron hooks. Having suffered all this, he was led back to the dungeon, where Natalia and some other matrons waited for him. Embracing him most tenderly, she congratulated him on having so courageously withstood the first assault. She wiped the blood that flowed from his wounds, and endeavoured in every possible way to give him some comfort. 

The tyrant, hearing of it, forbade them henceforth to admit women into the prison. Natalia, going home, cut off her hair, put on male attire, and thus returned unknown to Adrian. Soon after came the imperial command to cut off the hands and feet of all the imprisoned Christians and to burn their bodies. The invincible confessors of Christ praised God and prepared themselves for the cruel martyrdom. Natalia requested the executioners to begin with her husband, that the sight of the sufferings of the others might not give him fear. Encouraging him to bear his pain with fortitude, she accompanied him to the place of execution, and there manifested a heroism such as perhaps the world had never before beheld. She herself laid the feet of her husband upon the block, and constantly animating him, she held them there until the executioner had cut them off. She then did the same with his hands. Adrian remained fearless to his last breath. Natalia reverentially kissed his feet and hands, but was not allowed to take them home with her. The fate of Adrian was shared by all those who had been imprisoned with him, and when they had all gloriously ended their combat, the executioners threw their bodies and limbs upon a pile of wood to burn them. 

But a terrible storm arose, every one fled, and the rain extinguished the fire, which gave the faithful an opportunity to carry the bodies and limbs, as yet untouched by the flames, into the nearest Christian dwelling. They also bought for a large sum, the garments which the martyrs had worn and which the executioners had divided among themselves. Placing these and the sacred relics in a vessel, they brought them from Nicomedia, where these holy martyrs had suffered, to Constantinople. One arm of her husband was kept as a priceless treasure by Natalia, that incomparable Christian heroine. Some days later, Adrian appeared to her, and directed her to leave for Constantinople in order to escape the danger of becoming the wife of a heathen, as the Emperor desired. Natalia obeyed, went to Constantinople, and served God with great fervour, until Adrian again appeared to her in her sleep and said: "Come, thou zealous servant of Christ and of the Martyrs! take possession of the glory prepared for thee in Heaven!" She awoke, related her dream, again closed her eyes, as though she would sleep, and calmly and peacefully expired.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Journeying towards the Lord together

This video has been posted in one or two other places but it puts the arguments very well, so I thought it worth sharing here. I know that celebrating ad orientem is still very rare in ordinary parish life (with a few notable exceptions) but the continuing suggestion of its efficacy in assisting the decline of reverence and continuity (to say nothing of its ecumenical import with our Eastern brethren) from increasing numbers of liturgists, bishops and cardinals is certainly a sighn that it is "on the agenda" more than ever than in the last fifty years.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Carmelite Monastery of the Infant of Prague

The Carmelite Sisters of Traverse City, Michigan, have undertaken a renewal of their chapel and monastery. You can see above how their chapel looks now and what it was like before!  They maintain Full Habit, Papal Enclosure, Gregorian Chant in Latin, and Ordinary and Extraordinary Form Masses. I had the opportunity to visit them earlier this year.

Their renewed cloister is now nearing completion. You can see video footage of the large crucifix centrepiece being lowered into place on their website HERE.

The Sisters have a joyous attitude to their vocation and seem to be attracting newcomers - prayers for a continued renewal in both spirit and in bricks and mortar!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Ad Orientem

I lift up my eyes to the mountains.

The flurry of articles on ad orientem since Cardinal Sarah's suggestion that it should be seen much more often (in the Ordinary Form) and suggesting that this Advent would be a good time to introduce it has at least put the idea at the forefront of liturgical discussion. This is no bad thing - whatever the actual take-up of the suggestion might be.

Some of us have been following the latest advice from the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship for quite some time now.

I came across an article (from an Episcopalian pastor) who has introduced the practice and his reflections stemming from a more aesthetic approach. This doesn't mean it is only a secondary consideration, for the architecture of the built environment forms and teaches us in very many subtle ways. The terrible tower blocks of the 1960's remind us of this no less than the fact that supermarkets take great care in the layout of their premises to influence how and what we buy there.

The pastor's experience mirrored some of my own:
I received my theological education and training in liturgy under the assurance that versus populum celebration was the most ancient and liturgically correct option. All else was accursed medievalism.
Something happened to me over these years. I became more and more sensitive to the architectural violence done to so many sanctuaries in refitting them for a freestanding altar. Usually the high altar is still there against the wall, abandoned but looming in the background, while the Eucharist is celebrated at a table that often looks too small and shoehorned into the space. I wonder now about the iconoclasm perpetrated in the name of the liturgical movement.
He goes on to explain that seen through fresh eyes of someone not brainwashed by the ecclesial  hippy mantras of the 1960's, the abandonment of the high altar in favour of the picnic table sized mockeries installed before them is an obvious nonsense.
A former parishioner of mine is a Harvard-trained landscape architect. She is a wonderful person with a limited interest in Christian doctrine who enthusiastically defines herself as an Episco-Buddhist. She is sensitive to design, but with little background in theology and no axe to grind in this debate. She asked me once why the altar has been abandoned in so many of our churches. There was more theology in her observation than she knew.
He asks the question I have often asked myself when entering a church where every sight-line and every stone  directs the eye to the high altar. all this focus and direction has been abandoned and disturbed  by some obviously inferior postage stamp sized block plonked down somewhere on the sanctuary, destroying all possibility of graceful or ordered movement around the once  elegant sanctuary.  
In most refitted liturgical spaces that one encounters, the message of iconoclasm and abandonment is unavoidable. I have come to find this visual message a poignant embarrassment. What drove my elders’ compulsion to disturb and distort liturgical spaces that were based upon a completely coherent and orthodox theological rationale? Why the drive to fight the original design and turn one thing done well into a poor copy of the other?
Of the history of what is more ancient he says:
C.S. Lewis said somewhere that most laity are more interested in whether something is meat or poison than in its original position on the menu. In Letters to Malcolm, he noted that the clergy had changed Feed my sheep into Experiment on my rats. “It lays one’s devotion waste.”

One of these things is not like the others.
One of these things just doesn't belong here.
(Here for those who are not of a certain age!)

Some friends of mine are on their way to Compostella at the moment. I recall a visit there some years ago being amazed that the great High Altar, directly under which St James' remains lie in a silver casket (where I was fortunate enough to celebrate Mass) had been abandoned for the celebration of Mass there. The link between the present celebration of Faith and the very reason for the church being there had been broken. (To say nothing of the fact that many such altars are privileged - do we no longer think that speeding souls from Purgatory is a worthwhile pursuit?)  It is a real oddity that the whole focus of the church - the Saint's relics below and the statue the pilgrims embrace above in the reredos - has been divorced from the contemporary celebration of Mass there. 

I say an "oddity" but sadly, it's one repeated again and again in churches the world over.

Again, some years ago, I concelebrated Mass in St Mark's Basilica, Venice. It's quite a large building (!) with an main altar of spiritual, artistic and cultural importance but we celebrated on a tiny, shoddy construction, with the lectern (I hesitate to call it an ambo) placed so close to the altar that you had to be careful not to knock over the (compulsory in Italy) arrangement of flowers of the end of it when proclaiming the Gospel.

Visually and subliminally, it is a message of iconaclasm, taking what is good and perverting the meaning to weaken and empty it. Who would do such a thing? Usually, such tactics are usually those of   Luther Lucifer.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Celebration Luncheon for our new St Lazarus members

The beautiful Investiture Mass celebrated by His Grace Archbishop Malcolm, with music organised by Chev Anthony Dickinson, including Mozart's Spatzen Messe as the Mass setting, was followed by a drinks reception in the grounds and a celebratory Luncheon.

A fuller report of the event  - with plenty of photographs for all who were there -
can be read at the Order's site here.

Special thanks to this young man, who serves Mass at St Catherine's.
He served the Investiture Mass with the Archbishop 
and then played classical guitar at lunch,
to much appreciation.