Wednesday 31 October 2012

495 years ago today, Luther opened a can of worms

                                                        Knocking the Church, as popular in 1517 as it is today

On October 31st 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 revolutionary opinions to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.

In so doing he set in motion a series of cataclysmic events that would shatter the Catholic world.

Foremost of his concerns was the so called selling of indulgences.

We know from Chaucer and others that such abuses occurred but there is a narrow line between charging for an indulgence and making an offering or paying a stipend.

The chantry system whereby the laity paid for Masses to be said for their souls and those of their loved ones was an established and popular practice; it continues to some degree today when we hand in our list of names of deceased family members with our November offering.

Catholics have always contributed to the support of their pastors and it is encumbent upon us to do so.

Nothing wrong in that. In fact, there is a great deal of good in it.

And today, when we wish for a Mass to be offered for a special intention, we include a stipend as a contribution to the priest. Would Luther classify that as 'buying a Mass?'

The selling of indulgences in the 16th century was not really the foundation block that Luther planned to reconstruct the Faith from but it was a good 'headline' catcher and he used it against the Church much as today, clerical abuse is used as a means of attempting to destroy something that is fundamentally sound, fundamentally good, the Church led by Pope Benedict XVI.

So now, on this anniversary of the birth of Protestantism, let us remember those among us who have died and may be in Purgatory and compile our lists ready for the month of the Holy Souls.

Apart from fulfilling yet another of our requirements, praying for the dead, it is also a very good indicator that Luther did not succeed.

The Church that he despised is still strong; it weathers all storms and, it will triumph with the help of Our Blessed Lord and His Mother.

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Friday 12 October 2012

Report on the 2012 Ely to Walsingham pilgrimage

In August members of Juventutem London (and the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma) assisted in the organisation of the Latin Mass Society's three day walking pilgrimage from Ely to Walsingham. Here is an inspiring report from a first time pilgrim.

We look forward to seeing you on the 2013 pilgrimage for the conversion of England!


By Rhoslyn Thomas

The pilgrimage to Walsingham was recommended to me by numerous people, some of whom had only become interested in Latin Mass a couple of years ago. I was somewhat sceptical as I had been taken to Latin Mass as a teenager by my mother, and, being a rather rebellious 13 year old, I was determined not to enjoy it. Though I do remember that I noted the reverence shown not only by the priest, but also by the women and men who were attending the Mass. I had never seen a mantilla before and I had certainly never seen anyone kneel to receive communion!

Mass at Oxburgh Hall on Saturday morning.
In the past year or so, I have left numerous parishes because I was frustrated by the liberal approach adopted by the priests celebrating Mass and the way some people seemed to stuff the Eucharist in their mouth. I am no saint, but if we, as Catholics, truly believe in transubstantiation, this belief is not being reflected in the majority of the ordinary Masses that I was attending. Nevertheless, switching from ordinary to Latin Mass (though I will still attend ordinary Mass for the most part) felt like a giant leap and I was embarrassed of my ignorance, having only attended Latin Mass a few times in the past year.

The Holy Mile procession from The Slipper Chapel to the site of the original shrine in Walsingham.
The pilgrimage, being my first, felt like a good opportunity to throw myself in the deep end. I knew there would be daily Mass, singing of the rosary and the opportunity to chat to priests who celebrate the old rite. I was given a sizeable booklet with all the prayers I would need to know, both in Latin and English, and lots of songs to sing whilst walking. During Mass, we were also given a slim red book, again in Latin and English, which outlines the order of the Mass, with explanations and pointers which help you to work out where you are in the Mass, when to kneel etc.

Pilgrims enjoying a well earned meal on Saturday evening!
During the Mass, I felt it was far easier to concentrate and I felt reassured by the reverence shown by others in the congregation. Nobody was afraid to show respect and kneel or bow their heads, which is quite different from what I was used to!
Canon Olivier Meney ICKSP joined the pilgrimage for the final day's walk.
As for the walking, yes it is 55 miles over about two and a half days, but it’s almost all flat and when you are singing the Rosary in Latin, French and English (all in your booklet), it is much easier to keep going. You also know that you are walking with a purpose, that is for the conversion of England! This is not a Duke of Edinburgh expedition, you are not walking to nowhere. You have the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham as your goal and the journey is vital to the experience. The priests who were with us, Father Bede, Father Cahill and a seminarian, James, were all fantastic, warm, approachable, humble and above all reverent people. I felt at ease with them and everyone else on the trip. I didn’t hide the fact that I knew very little about Latin Mass and people helped me out, pointing to where we were on the page, explaining certain aspects of the Mass and chatting away to me about their conversion to Latin Mass. Very few people had been raised in the old rite. There were quite a few very recent converts on the pilgrimage and it was inspiring to see how open they were to something which was even more foreign to them, than it was to me!

Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury blessed the pilgrims before they began the final Holy Mile.
By the end, I knew most of the prayers that we had sung off by heart, in Latin, French and English, I felt much more confident about attending Latin Mass and I had visited some truly stunning churches and tiny chapels along the route. I won’t lie - there were blisters and aching muscles as well as some torrential rain, but this is a pilgrimage after all! It’s challenging, but far from impossible. I encourage anyone who thinks they might enjoy it to go for it. Prepare your feet well and be open to a new experience of Mass!

The Latin Mass Society (on whose website this report was first published) are very grateful for all of the walkers, particularly Rhoslyn for her above report, all the volunteers,  particularly the cooks, and all those that helped make the Walsingham Pilgrimage the success that it was. 
They are particularly pleased to report that we have been informed by people that the submitted intentions which were carried by the walkers to Walsingham have been answered. Some very directly, including Mr M. H. who had his petition answered within days of the completion of the Pilgrimage. The LMS welcome news of people who have had their prayers answered after submitting a request to the Walsingham pilgrimage, just email

Monday 8 October 2012

Why have a Guild?

It's a fair question and one that has been raised quite a few times over the last three years or so.
Blogging is a sad solitary occupation and there are no advantages in having a group of bloggers; it's alien, it's controlling; it's unnecessary.

Or, is it?

We in the Catholic Faith have always had Guilds, at least, in England, Wales and Europe
I believe that it is true to say that, in some respects, the trade union movement may have borrowed some of the aspects of the guilds but, of course, they missed the key essence, that of praying as a community in fulfilment of the words of Our Lord when He said: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I".

Christ was not just speaking of attendance at Mass or a Rosary group, Our Lord meant any occasion where He was the focal point of our attention.

                                                       Photo:  Storm Within the Empire blog

Before the Reformation there were Guilds covering every possible category of artisans; weavers, blacksmiths, potters, artist's, clerks and so on.

And guilds unconnected to trades sprang up adopting various feasts or aspects of the Faith.
Corpus Christi is probably the most common of them and there were also many with affinity to Our Lady and the patron saints.

But the bedrock of the guild movement was their fundamental approach towards support for guild members and their families through prayer, attendance at Requiem Masses upon the death of a member, welfare support for widows and orphans, chantry provision (providing funds for Masses to be said on behalf of dead members and their families) and, of course, carousing together on the great feast days of Holy Mother Church.

This also, was an essential part of the movement.

All of these activities were enshrined within a framework of prayer and aspiring to a more spiritual life.

The Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma is, in my mind, no different to its medieval counterparts although, admittedly, it has not yet established a process for praying for deceased members as we have yet to face that one, but, it will come in God's good time, the process, I mean.

Does it need to go further than that?

Almost certainly. I am sure that the old guilds also incorporated a very strong element of fraternal support where members helped and aided each other and I can see a time coming when the GOBTB could evolve into this sort of provision.
 It would be good, for example, if perhaps a member could give a tutorial on blog management or pictorial techniques; I would certainly appreciate that.
Maybe Mary O'Regan could give us an insight into editorial research or some other element of journalism.

Many questions concerning the Guild were posed by Mark of Quam angusta porta but the outstanding one that I believe many have wrestled with is: What should we do with the Guild blog?

One suggestion made at the meeting of Guild members last month was that we should contribute what we perceive to be our best two posts each month to be carried on the Guild site.
I think that's a good way forward but, hopefully, it will not preclude Guild specific posts.

And then there is the wider issue still of evangelisation. That may appear a little pompous but, seen within the framework of the Faith that is surely something that we are all called to undertake.

 Blessed Titus himself said:

"They who want to win the world for Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it"

If you sit back and review how the world of new communications technologies has developed in the past ten years, you will quickly appreciate that we are constantly moving into new territory and that Catholic blogging, in particular, has achieved some outstanding successes in revealing and exposing matters that might have had a very different outcome without the spotlight of attention that was beamed upon them.

I am thinking, in particular, of the move by Tescos to withdraw funding from the Gay Pride movement; there are many more and they were all achieved by the initial activity of Catholic and other Christian bloggers.

But these are early days for the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma and, I am sure that the Guild will grow to embrace such issues more fully.

Meanwhile, we pray for each other both collectively and individually and we carouse, but only occasionally and only modestly. And that's just part of Catholic tradition.

Please note: The Guild was the concept of Dylan Parry - A Reluctant Sinner. The above thoughts are purely my own and made without any authority other than that of a Guild member.

Posted by: Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Solemn High Mass at St. Mary's Church Clapham - by Mark Lambert of De Omnibus Dubitandum Est blog

St. Mary's from Clapham Park Road.

Fr. Dominic O'Toole is Parish Priest at the beautiful St. Mary's Clapham, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1849. The church was designed in a Gothic style by William Wardell and was solemnly opened and blessed by Cardinal Wiseman on May 14th 1851 during a service beginning at 5.30am to avoid local unrest due to the growing influence of what was deemed the menace of Roman Popery!

Fr. Dominic is one of my dearest friends and I have been deeply privileged to have been invited to his first and, some years later, his final profession and his ordination by Cardinal Keith O'Brien. Dominic is God Father to my son John and is the person I have to thank for encouraging me and supporting me to study the faith at Maryvale.

On Saturday 13th October 2012, Fr. Dominic is going to say a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, with some beautiful music, to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the consecration of the Church.

This really is a beautiful church, and Fr. Dom is a great young priest (same age as me actually- so very young!) who deserves as much support as can be mustered! Why not come along and celebrate with him? He has promised to provide a brief interview I can post up here afterwards about the experience and what gave him the idea! If you have any questions you would like to ask him, please post them in the comments section and I will make sure they are put to him.
Dom and I on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, on the occasion of his first profession.
St. Mary's side chapel

St. Mary's Clapham
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