Thursday 27 December 2012

Christmas 2012

A Happy Christmas to all readers.  That is, if the word 'Happy' is still acceptable.  So often when I have said "Happy Christmas", I get the reply "Merry Christmas".  Have I missed something? Has the word 'Happy' been expunged? It is true that I do not like the Happitudes (Happy are those who mourn, etc) but 'Happy' is still a good word.
So a very HAPPY AND MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all!

Here are photos of our altar and crib here in Barnard Castle this Christmas Day.

Thursday 13 December 2012

And Another One - Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick is Father Z's motto for the building up of the traditional approach to the Catholic Church.
And yesterday evening we saw another brick put in place.
In St Augustine's Church, Darlington, I was present at the first traditional Latin Mass in this church for very many years ( I myself celebrated here an OF Mass in the mid-90's, before it was termed an OF Mass, for a Silver Wedding). It is intended that this 'new' Mass will be celebrated once a month on the second Wednesday of the month - and after a while, who knows what will come next?
The idea of having an OF Mass in St Augustine's was the idea of Doctor Carl Watson (whose sons regularly serve my Mass at Barnard Castle), and he had to persuade the parish council to approve the celebration, he made all preparations for the Mass and provided what was necessary for the celebration.
Last night's Mass was celebrated by Father Paul Tully; it was, I believe, his first public celebration, though he has been celebrating privately for quite some time.  The two servers were Carl's sons, James and John, who did very well. Almost sixty people were in the congregation and clearly many of them had no difficulty in answering the responses. Father Tully gave a short homily about St John the Baptist ("Are you the one we have been waiting for?") and the Real Presence of Jesus at Mass.
The Mass was very well received by the group I was with and we pray that the venue becomes established with a growing following of Catholics eager for the beautiful tradition Mass.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Insulted? I'm not sure!

I have just been insulted this afternoon. At least, I think it was an insult - but was it to me, or to the Church?

I celebrated a Requiem Mass for a deceased parishioner at midday today, and then we drove down to the nearest crematorium for the repose of the body.  We were joined there by quite a number of people who refused to come to the church for the Requiem.
After the cremation prayers, as the mourners were filing out, one lady came up to me, and declared that 'if that's the Catholic Faith, then I'm glad I belong to the Church of England.'

Was it something I said? Could it have been that, since I did not spend any time lauding the deceased and her wonderful life but instead encouraged those present to pray for her eternal soul to speed her way into heaven, that I had mistaken the whole purpose of dying, which is to get straight into heaven from one's death-bed? I will never know  -  well, not just yet anyway. As she walked off, I just grinned.  The undertaker had been the target of the neighbours as well. So we both commiserated with each other!

Tuesday 4 December 2012


When Twitter first started up some years ago, I joined straight away, but rapidly lost interest. And I tried to delete my account, but I don't think that I ever succeeded.
However, now that the Pope has decided to start tweeting (although perhaps not personally), I think that I will start again. My new hash-tag is @parochusbarnie
I think that I will tweet comments about the saint of the day or something from the ferial Mass of the day.
I may even start blogging again!

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Moveable altar

I refer to the latest post by Father Finnigan here where he discusses the removal of a front temporary altar.
When I first came to Barnard Castle in November 2001, the sanctuary of St Mary's had been 'modernised' a few years previously: the altar rails had been taken from their proper place and fixed to the lowest step of the gradus, the floor was raised  by a platform covered in a green carpet and projected out towards the nave; otherwise no changes took place. Except of course that a front altar was put in place (I understand that the altar was made from the recycled pulpit and confessional - the confessional was one of those with a curtain shielding the priest and penitent where everybody could hear what you confessed and the penance which you were given!)
(This is the Christmas altar in 2010)
After celebrating the TLM for some time with the front altar in place, I casually mentioned to my all-round handyman, Joe Wilson, that it would be nice if we had wheels on the front altar and could roll it out of the way. He devised a system of levers and wheels which lowers the wheels and lifts the altar so that one man  is able to move the altar easily.
Then we took the rails and put them back in their proper place, so that the space on the sanctuary is what it used to be, and on occasion, for traditional weddings, we can bring them forward to create even more space for ceremonies.

And Hey Presto! We have a traditional sanctuary, looking much as it has done from 1928 until some time in the 90's.  In the photo, you can see the front altar to the left-hand side of the sanctuary behind the rails.

The mechanism for moving the altar is not patented, and I am sure that Joe would be pleased if someone decided to copy his handiwork!

Monday 23 July 2012

Founders' Day Requiem

On Saturday we at St Mary's remembered the Founders of the Bowes Museum and of our church, John and Josephine Bowes.
The Good Lord moved His jet-stream just far enough north to give us a warm, sunny and windless day - just perfect!
The Requiem Mass too was just perfect - when is it not? - but the singing was out of this world. As usual the singers were headed by the Rudgate Singers but they were joined by the Ordinariate Choir from Darlington who sang Pearsall's setting for a Requiem Mass. We believe that this is the first time that this music has been sung in its proper liturgical setting, and it was glorious. Strong, confident, a powerful expression of the hope of eternal life. I understand that the musical score called for trumpets and euphonium, which we did not have, but the music hardly needed them!
The ceremony ended with a procession to the Tomb of John and Josephine, which is behind the apse of the church - prayers were said and the Absolution given.
Afterwards everyone was invited into the garden for coffee, tea and something to eat.
The whole occasion was totally uplifting.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Difficult Problems?

Prayer to Saint Joseph for a Difficult Problem
O Glorious St. Joseph, thou who hast power to render possible even things which are considered impossible, come to our aid in our present trouble and distress.
Take this important and difficult affair under thy particular protection, that it may end happily. (MENTION YOUR REQUEST)
O dear St. Joseph, all our confidence is in thee. Let it not be said that we would invoke thee in vain; and since thou art so powerful with Jesus and Mary, show that thy goodness equals thy power.  Amen.
St. Joseph, friend of the Sacred Heart, pray for us.
(With acknowledgements to Father Z's blog)

Friday 13 July 2012

Barney Life No 39: The Castle Players

This week The Castle Players perform their annual play by William Shakespeare. This year the play they are doing is "As You Like It".  As everyone knows, the weather has been atrocious: the lawn behind the Bowes Museum is sodden and now rutted and gouged by the big lorries which delivered the huge Grandstands to their places and all the other vehicles bringing tents and other equipment to the Outdoor Theatre.  But the Show Must Go On!  The Players are proud of the fact that in all the years they have been performing they have never cancelled a performance because of the weather.

The performance area is open grassland dominated by a magnificent ancient fir tree, with a circle of trees as a backdrop.  It also was sodden, and much sport was had with a sheet of green plastic which was placed on the ground if the play called for someone to fall on the ground.  Such as the moment when the leading lady was about to faint - we could all see that she was fainting and held up by two stalwarts at an acute angle until a third gentleman placed the green plastic below her, and then the two stalwarts just dropped her - THUMP -onto the ground!  The Players as usual gave wonderful performances, the action was nonstop in two halves and always interesting; many were the guffaws and giggles amongst the audience.
Since shepherds and shepherdesses were a big part of the plot, two sheep (Lincolnshire Longwools) had major parts in the action, at  least they were in a pen at one side of the arena.  One, called Bert, had an occasional speaking part, baaing at  the sound of his mistress's voice, leading to much amusement among the audience! Bert gave an interview about himself, and this is what he had to say:

Myself and my brothers Johnny and James are delighted to be taking to the stage with The Castle Players in As You Like It and readily accepted the parts (afier negotiating our contracts, of course - namely how much food would be involved). I am a sheep of some repute, having gained fame (definitely NOT notoriety) throughout the area for my particular skills as an escape artist and petty food thief I have decided to put my considerable talents to better use however, and am very excited about becoming the world’s first sheep actor I am currently a foster father to an orphan foal on the farm, and hope to inspire her to continue in my footsteps. I have taken a method approach to this part, which has mainly involved eating, breathing, and living being a sheep. I have found this easy, which I imagine is largely due to my incredible acting talents rather than anything else. As soon as this show finishes we are all off to Hollywood to start work on a new film so unfortunately will be unable to perform at Stratford next week. Bert

Indeed, The Castle Players have been invited to Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Mr Shakespeare himself and The Royal Shakespeare Company; they will perform the second half of As You Like It at The Dell on Saturday July 22nd - a huge honour for them and very justified!

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Founders' Day Requiem

On Saturday, July 21st, at 12 noon, we will be celebrating our annual Founders' Day Requiem Mass for John and Josephine Bowes.  It is true that our church of St Mary's here in Barnard Castle is not exactly the church which John had envisaged. Josephine, his wife, had already died when he decided to continue to build the church in her memory next to (what has become) the famous Bowes Museum; but when he ran out of money to finish the project, the church stood as a folly for about fifty years, until the money which he had left to the Church Trustees accumulated sufficiently for the then trustees to move the whole building to its present location.  So the church as it is now is not what John had intended but the money was his gift. Hence our desire to honour them and pray for their souls.
The Mass will be sung by the Rudgate Singers with a choir augmented by the Ordinariate Choir. Mike, of the Rudgate Singers, sent me this message:
"Just a quick message to let you know that we believe it will be the first time ever that the music we're planning on singing (Pearsall's setting of the Requiem Mass) has been sung in its proper liturgical setting. It's been performed in concerts, but not during Mass (in either form it appears). Consequently we're getting quite excited by this - it's not every day you get to sing in a world première liturgical performance - I just hope that we do it justice and that people like it! We'll be joined on the day by some singers from the Darlington Ordinariate Choir.
We would welcome anybody who wishes to come along to celebrate with us on July 21st, and weather permitting there will be refreshments on the lawn after Mass (otherwise huddled in the house!)

Monday 11 June 2012

Corpus Christi

This year there has been only one child for First Holy Communion.


Emma, pictured here, has had weeks of preparation for the Big Day.  On Saturday, she made her First Confession. Afterwards, I told her that after making her First Communion on Sunday she would be able to receive Holy Communion at every Mass which she attended. She though a bit, and then asked a very prescient question: "Even when I go to Scotland?" (Her family is Scottish, and they regularly go up to Scotland). I assured her that Scotland is also a part of the Catholic Church.
On the Sunday afternoon, we held our annual Blessed Sacrament Procession - inside the Church this year, as the weather was so dodgy. A nice turnout of traditional parishioners.  We processed around the church until we came to the back of the church where we had a Benediction, after which we circled the church once again, ending at the sanctuary where we had a second Benediction.  Emma, our First Communion girl, took pride of place in the procession.  The singing was unaccompanied but very enthusiastic; the hymns were all the traditional Blessed Sacrament hymns.  I meant to have some photos taken, but unfortunately forgot to ask anyone to do the job!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Barney Life 38

Now that the Diamond Jubilee celebrations are over (God bless the Queen - she has been Queen almost all my life - I can just remember King George VI, her father), we can say that our celebrations are also over - for the time being (the Olympic torch is due to pass by my church in a fortnight's time).
The annual Barney Meet took place on Monday, and  - you've guessed it -  the theme of the floats was as expected.  Here are some pictures.

Yesterday, Tuesday, our street had its 'street party', though because the weather was a little bit undecided, the party was held indoors.  It was very interesting to meet one's neighbours, in a convivial setting, and not just as passersby on the street. More pictures.

Monday 21 May 2012

Ascension Thursday Sunday

I noticed this name for Sunday's feast in the OF on Father Z's blog last week (and there is more about it on today's blog).  I thought that this was a good name for Sunday's feast and so I put the name on my Weekly Bulletin which I produced for Sunday.  I explained to my congregation at each of my Masses that since Thursday was the proper day for the feast of the Ascension that this was a good name for the transferred feast. We had just read in both the 'English' Mass and the Latin Mass that Our Lord had spent forty days, not forty-three days, with his Apostles.  The tradition of celebrating the Ascension on the Thursday goes back to the time of the Apostles themselves - this is a long tradition of the Church. Some people, I said, do not care for the Church's traditions, but I love them - they are where we come from, and they have made us what we are. I added that I hoped that the Bishops would soon give us back this ancient tradition of celebrating the Ascension on its proper day. Thursday!

Monday 14 May 2012

May Procession 2012

Yesterday was a cold day, with strong blustery winds.  Still, it was the day of our May Procession in honour of Our Lady.  I usually like to say the Rosary in front of our statue of Our Lady in the church grounds, but in the circumstances I decided that it would be better to process around the outside of the church and grounds before returning to the church for the Rosary.  Hymns to Our Lady were sung all the way during the procession. After the Rosary had been said, I reminded the congregation that I had decided to call our staute of Our Lady "Our Lady of Barnard Castle" - this is her home, just as St John took Mary into his home after the words of Jesus on the Cross.  The statue of Our Lady in the church was then crowned by two little girls whilst the congregation sang "O Mary, we crown thee..." from the hymn Bring Flowers of the Rarest.  Finally we celebrated Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The congregation was large and enthusiastic, probably the best we have had in my time here at Barnard Castle.  All our regulars were joined by the Holy Family Guild who came with all their children, babes in arms and toddlers aplenty. I don't think I have ever had to sidestep so many prams as we left the sanctuary after the service!
Normally after a Procession we go out onto the lawn for tea etc, but in the circumstances (the cold wind) I told everyone to go into the house - and what a crush! Standing shoulder to shoulder with the children squishing past, but the atmosphere was joyful and delightful. Everyone was enjoying each others company.
One being was not so enthusiastic about the proceedings - and that was my dog Storm. Since he is frightened of strangers and large groups of people, I had put him in a back room out of the way; after all had departed, I let him out, and he was practically sulking - he went outside into the back yard, and refused to come back in for over an hour.  It took a long time for me to bring him back to his normal self (what is normal for him anyway!)
Now I am looking forward to our Blessed Sacrament Procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Welcome Back Again

After reading the Bishop's letter at my Masses on Sunday, I commented to my congregations that "I wondered if a proper analysis of what had gone wrong had been done."
Of course, there were changes in the social mores of the 1960's and 70's, which affected church members almost as much as anyone else, but I want to concentrate on the changes in the Church itself.
As I said in my last post, I consider 1970 to be the pivotal year of change, give or take a couple of years.
After the Second Vatican Council, the Church was in an excitable state. In 1967 or 1968 we were given permission to turn our altars around and celebrate Mass in English. It may have been noted that altars facing the congregation only applied to new churches, but that didn't matter - we all did it. All manner of temporary altars were constructed, and, if I remember rightly, there was at first no official translation of the Mass which we should use.  I remember that Goodliffe Neale brought out a loose leaf version of the Missal to which new sections were added at intervals. By 1970 Rome brought out an official Roman Missal which we started to use, and which was promptly withdrawn after a couple of years because the GIRM, the General Instruction at the front of the Missal, was heretical (I think someone has missed out the sacrificial aspect of the Mass altogether). A new Missal was produced, which has been in use until very recently.
But by then a new and radical understanding of the Mass was taking root - it is a celebratory meal in which we take pleasure in each others company while communicating with Jesus - the congregation is an audience. I have to admit that I bought into this idea, at least in part - we had to energise the audien - sorry - congregation into singing and responding to the celebrant and shaking hands, and generally behaving in ways that the congregation had never done before.
One question which I was constantly being asked by parishioners in those days was, "We were brought up to believe that the Mass was unchangeable and could never be changed; why is it changing? And if the Mass can be changed, what about the rest of the Faith?" Good questions, and the answer is not so simple!
Soon it became acceptable to receive Holy Communion standing because forward-altars had removed altar-rails. And then we began to hear that some places were giving Communion in the hand in disobedience to the general rules for receiving Holy Communion.  Eventually, our Bishops petitioned Rome to allow us to continue with this new way because it was by now so entrenched that they would not be able to stop it. I feel sure that many Catholics stopped attending Mass because of some despair and disillusionment at the way things were going in the Church.
And the result of all this turmoil can be seen in our diocesan statistics for practising Catholics.  From 1970 until the present day, an average of 2000 souls a year has ceased to practice the Faith by attending regular Sunday Mass. In 1970 42% of the Catholic population attended Sunday Mass, by 1986 that had dropped to 34%, and by 2009 the percentage was just over 20%. In 1970, the actual recorded number of Mass-going Catholics in our diocese was 119,115; by 2010 (the latest figures) the number was down to 38,485.
I remember reading a slim booklet by Father Schillebeeckx , a Dutch theologian, who was looking forward to a smaller Church because it would be much more devoted and dynamic. We now have a smaller Church, but more devoted and dynamic? Or are we just managing the decline?  What do you think?

Monday 7 May 2012

Welcome Back

Yesterday throughout the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in the north-east of England priests read out at Mass a letter from the Bishop about Welcome Back Sunday. This is an initiative across the diocese in which parishioners are asked to gently invite someone who has lapsed to come back to Mass on Pentecost Sunday and be welcomed back 'home'. The Gospel of the Mass yesterday quotes Our Lord saying "Make your home in Me as I make Mine in you"; the parish is also our spiritual home.
Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with any initiative to bring people back to the practice of their faith, the Bishop says that these folk have not lost their faith but have simply got out of the habit of going to church. I wonder.
I think that there are a lot of reasons why people have 'given up' - an argument with a priest, laziness, agnosticism, and in some cases despair at the changes which have taken place in the church since 1970.
I take 1970 as the pivotal year (give or take a few years either way) in the Church's fortunes.
Being ordained in 1959, I lived through all those years, and my memories of the time before 1970 are of a strong and flourishing church.  All the parishes I served in before 1970 had full churches every Sunday; all of them had active societies - Legion of Mary, SVP, and other sodalities.  Many parishes had at least one curate, the Bishop in those days having the enviable problem of finding places to place his many priests. There were plenty of vocations to the priesthood, to the monasteries and to the convents. There was no need in those days for a Welcome Back Sunday, the Church certainly in our diocese, and I believe in most others, was vibrant, growing strongly, and was definitely not moribund, as some who should know better have claimed. Numbers were increasing, new churches were being built and new parishes set up.
Before discussing the aftermath of 1970, I wonder if anyone would like to add anything to these thoughts of mine; I would like to hear others giving their memories of the years before 1970.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Catholicism and Father Barron

This afternoon, I drove from Barnard Castle to Washington, to the St Robert of Newminster School, to listen to Father Robert Barron, the American priest who authored the Catholicism series of DVDs and the book to accompany the series. The roads were awash after the monsoon-like weather we have just had and some roads were closed - but I made it in time.
I took this quick snap after Father had finished giving his talk, just as I was following the Running Man to the Exit.
His series on Catholicism was mentioned before his talk began, but he was speaking about what he called "the theo-drama - a play in five acts".  The first act of the theo-drama was Creation, the second the Fall, the third the Preparation of the Israelite people as His own People, the fourth the Coming of the Messiah, the fifth Evangelisation and the Spreading of the Message of God's free gift of love.
He is an engaging speaker, and his insights were fascinating to hear, and the audience of priests, sisters and catechists from around the diocese listened intently to what he said.
I will now go and fill in the form to order the series of DVDs and the book as well.

Saturday 31 March 2012

Little by Little

I have not posted anything for some time, but just to let readers know that I am still here .....
Over the past few months life has been routine, humdrum, ordinary, and I have found nothing to blog about.  Things I might have blogged about others have done so much better!
Routine! There is nothing wrong with routine! Isn't that the lesson which St Theresa of Lisieux teaches us, with her Little Way.  It is easy to crave a little excitement in daily life, but it is the patient fulfilling of life's little chores which leads to sanctity. Well, I am still trying, and I think .. a long way to go yet!
I have given over most of the heavy work in the garden to a hired man. Apart from cutting the grass, in the past week he has cut down the mounds of pampas grass and opened up the pond and indeed the garden.Here are the latest photos of my pond (the fish are doing well and in the last few days of summery weather they have been eating as if it were the middle of August).

Now, of course, with an open border, I have to work out a strategy to fool Mr Heron and keep him from arriving for a fishing expedition! I have ordered fuchsias and geraniums for the gaps between the pampas grass.

Friday 2 March 2012

Winter Fast Ended

After several unseasonably warm days, my fish are beginning to enjoy an early feed.

We are all hoping that the worst of our winter is now behind us!


This is what I have written on my Sunday Weekly Bulletin for my parishioners to read this coming Sunday; I feel that my readers would like to do the same as I hope my parishioners will do.

Members of the Government seem to be very keen to change the meaning of the word "marriage" to suit their own ideas of what they think marriage should mean.  This is just plumb crazy and undemocratic, and I would like to ask everyone who can to type this link into their browser and read the statement about marriage and then sign the petition.

Here is the link: click here

Here is what Keith (married parishioner) has written about this proposal:
Please act now to protest the proposed introduction of ‘Same-Sex marriage’ in our country by supporting the C4M [Coalition for Marriage] petition at We must use every means to let our MPs & Government know, that massive numbers of people are opposed  to  this  heinous  mockery of true Marriage.Apart from the obvious moral, religious & biological arguments against the proposition there are other pragmatic objections including:
· Redefining Marriage as proposed is undemocratic ; no Politicians were voted in on this ticket
· Protecting traditional Marriage safeguards children & society
· Redefining Marriage will be complex & expensive to implement
· Civil partnership legislation already exists
· Schools would be forced to teach any new definition.
Please now go to  Click here
Sign the petition now.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

All Hail, the NHS!

Today I have no complaints against the National Health Service - indeed just the opposite. I went to see the doctor at 8.30 am with my 'fat' leg - origin of 'fatness' unknown at this stage and unchanged after 4 weeks of water tablets. I was a few minutes late in getting into the surgery, but after some proddiing and poking of the leg the doctor asked the receptionist to prepare a "DVT Pathway" and to arrange an untrasound scan asap. Paperwork was prepared, injection given, blood taken, and I was told to be at the Memorial Hospital in Darlington at 12.30 pm. I suspect that I must have disrupted the normal working of the surgery by quite a lot!
I arrived good and early for my appointment, but absolutely at 12.30 pm I was called in for the scan. The technician started the scan by probing from the groin area, and within a short while she said, "There's no point in going any further - I can tell you have a clot". Out inside ten minutes, and back to my surgery to return the paperwork and notes to my doctor.  I see him again tomorrow for the next step of the treatment.
Everything went with very smooth efficiency, everyone was pleasant and welcoming.  Well done indeed!
Final comment: over the years of my ministry, there have been those who though I was a bit of a clot; now I know that they were at least partly right!

Friday 10 February 2012

St Valentine's Day

This article about St Valentine is taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912.  The St Andrew's Daily Missal of 1962 declares that, rather than three St Valentines, there was only one; the confusion was caused because he was first buried in Rome and then removed to Terni, and in Terni it was claimed that he was a bishop.

At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Of both these St. Valentines some sort of Acta are preserved but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.
Saint Valentine’s Day
The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in Englandand France during the Middle Ages, that on 14 February, i.e. half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair. Thus in Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules we read:
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.
For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines. In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes thus about a match she hopes to make for her daughter (we modernize the spelling), addressing the favoured suitor:
And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.
Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man addressing it “Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire”. The custom of choosing and sending valentines has of late years fallen into comparative desuetude.

In 1912 the "choosing and sending of valentines" may have "fallen into comparative desuetude", but now it is very big business indeed and even bigger hype!
And usually poor old Valentine is not even called a saint!!
I will be celebrating an Extraordinary Form Mass in his honour on Tuesday evening.

Monday 6 February 2012

The Quaker Way

Recently the bishop of our diocese, the Rt Rev. Bishop Seamus Cunningham, was present in choir at a Traditional Latin Mass as part of his visitation of St Joseph's parish, Gateshead,  A layman who was present has shown me a letter which he sent to the Bishop afterwards and he has given me permission to reproduce it here.

My Lord Bishop,

I thought that your sermon at St Joseph’s and your illustration of Psalm 62 was very thought provoking. I hope you will not think it presumptuous of me to comment.  In my late twenties I became a Quaker.  I loved the spirituality of silent worship.   That aspect that you referred to in your sermon of waiting passively and silently, what you referred to as the Waiting Room was important to me; it allowed me space.  Eventually though I found Quakerism was lacking both in its lack of visible sacraments and authorised ministry and reverted to Anglicanism but still at times worship missed those aspects of silent waiting, listening and yearning.

A few days after I was received into the Catholic Church we were staying in London for a short holiday.  Being near the Oratory I decided to go to the 8am Mass.  It was a Mass in the Extraordinary Rite.   What for me was so remarkable about it was not the difference in the rite but that I found it evoked those very aspects of silent worship that I had so deeply missed.  I still feel now whether I am serving or not that there is a profound and very deep peacefulness present in the Extraordinary Rite that is somehow lacking in the Novus Ordo.  

I realise that many Catholics feel that the Extraordinary Rite, because it lacks lay participation, is no longer relevant to the times in which we live.   On the other hand I find that the expectation of an audible response in the Novus Ordo can be almost intrusive.  It doesn’t matter to me that I can not, even when serving, hear everything that the Priest says, something is happening but I can still feel fully involved by the very nature of that profound silence and space that it leaves me.   I think perhaps that sometimes Catholics who have not experienced worship in other forms do not always see the unique and profound power of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Asking Your Lordships Blessing, I am, Yours respectfully, (he asked me not to name him).

 I have not seen the silence of the traditional Mass explained in quite this way, and I find it intriguing; perhaps we should expect an influx of Quakers into the church!