Thursday, October 22, 2020

Christ the King

This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King - the eternal high Priest. 

This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primus.

While the encyclical that established this feast was addressed to Catholic bishops, Pope Pius XI wanted this feast to impact the laity.
“The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”

Holy Mass at 1.00 p.m. at St. Joseph's, Pakington Street, Bradford. Please remember to bring a mask. Confession available before Mass at request.

Reminder that there is Mass on Wednesday evenings at 6.00 p.m. at St. Winefride's church, Wibsey, Bradford and on Thursday mornings at 9.30 a.m. at St. Anthony's, Clayton, also in Bradford. 

I am hoping to arrange a Mass of Requiem for Bishop Wheeler at Leeds Cathedral in November. Details to follow.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Pentecost XIX -Missa cantata

I'm pleased to announce that we are going to attempt a covidtime sung Mass this Sunday at St. Joseph's, Bradford. This will be the first public sung Mass since March. Holy Communion is distributed on the tongue. l have received some very encouraging comments recently about the EF Mass at St. Joseph's from priests and people. l hope it isn't too long before the Bishop is able to offer Mass and administer the Sacrament of Confirmation according to the books in use in 1962. 

It is pleasing to see the sustained good numbers at Mass. Please remember to register and to bring your masks. It will be good to leave church with the smell of freshly burned incense in the nostrils.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Pentecost XVIII etc

Friday October 2nd - First Friday

Mass - Feast of the Guardian Angels

St. John the Evangelist - Cooper Lane, Bradford  6.00 p.m.

St. Austin's  - Wentworth Terrace, Wakefield  7.30 p.m.

This Sunday -  October 3rd is the Eighteenth Sunday of Pentecost 


St. Joseph's - Pakington Street, Bradford 1.00 p.m. 

Please remember masks and to make your reservation. Increasing numbers at this Mass suggest we may need to adopt an extra usher even as the darkening evenings of autumn approach. 

We owe Bishop Stock a great deal of gratitude for permitting reception of Holy Communion on the tongue at both Forms of the Mass in this diocese. This privilege has sadly not been afforded to other places.

I hope that traditional missals and prayer books will shortly be available in the repository at St. Joseph's, Bradford. I am going to arrange for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament after a Sunday Mass in the next few weeks and will post details shortly.  

I am pleased to announce the birth of our sixth grandchild - Felicity May Stephens, who weighed in at 8lb 6oz on Tuesday. Mum and baby both doing fine. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Pentecost XVII

Mass at 1.00 p.m. on Sunday at St. Joseph's, Pakington Street, Bradford. Please register beforehand and remember facemasks.

Today (Friday) saw the first public Mass in many years at St Robert's, Harrogate. The occasion was the Requiem Mass of Austin Jennings who had been a loyal attendee at the EF Mass for many years. RIP.  His nephew, Mgr Grogan offered the Mass. 

Mgr Grogan offers Mass at 6.00 p.m. at St. Winefride's, Wibsey, Bradford.

The Thursday morning Masses at St. Anthony's, Clayton continue at 9.30 a.m. 

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Pentecost XV

Mass on Sunday at St. Joseph's, Bradford at 1.00 p.m. Holy Communion distributed on the tongue.

I have been in Krakow this week in an attempt to improve my execrable Polish and to enjoy the wonderful culture. Again I was able to hear Mass every day. Tuesday's Mass for the feast of our Lady's birthday was a sung Mass and I was moved to be able to join in with missa viii  - de angelis . The hymn to our Lady at the offertory brought a lump to my throat. I have not attended a sung Mass in England since March. 

Reminder that there is Mass on Wednesday evenings at St. Winefride's, Wibsey at 6.00 p.m. and on Thursday mornings at St. Anthony's, Clayton at 9.30 a.m.  

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Pentecost XIV - updated

There will be Mass on Sunday at 1.00 p.m. for the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost at St. Joseph's, Bradford. Please remember your mask! Holy Communion is distributed on the tongue.

From Wednesday 9th. September there will be a weekly evening Mass at St. Winefride's, Wibsey. (This will replace the pre-lockdown Mass there on Tuesday lunchtimes.) These Masses will be at 6.00p.m. now confirmed. Thanks to Mgr. Grogan for his time and patience.

Weekly Thursday Masses at St. Anthony's, Clayton continue with thanks to Fr. Winn.

Of your charity please  pray for the repose of the soul of Austin Jennings who died on suddenly on Monday. Austin was a regular attendee at the EF for many years. RIP.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

August 24th and purgatory.

 August 24th is our wedding anniversary and has nothing to do with purgatory! It is also the feast of St. Barthlomew who according to legends was skinned alive and beheaded so he is often pictured holding the knife he was skinned with or holding his own skin. An Apostle and Martyr he must have died an agonising death. This saint's memory is venerated in the Catholic Church and Orthodox and Anglican Communities.

The extremely admirable convert priest, aplogist and writer, Monsignor Ronald Knox died on this day in 1957. In time to come I hope he will be made essential compulsory reading to seminarians. In the meantime I was very pleased to hear Mgr Knox's name mentioned in a beautifully crafted sermon on a sad occasion. The occasion was the requiem Mass for Fr. Hall's own wife, Liz (to whom reference is made in the sermon) who died a few weeks ago in lockdown. May she rest in peace.
I hope Liz is rejoicing in the bus ride and eventual promised destination. (See sermon)

The sermon is reproduced here in full:

Homily for Requiem
What do you think will happen to you when you die?  Not your body - you've probably watched enough episodes of Silent Witness to be quite an expert on that.  I mean your soul - your self?
You may be surprised to know that the New Testament does not go into great detail about this.  St John tells us, "Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when Jesus Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is."  When Jesus is revealed we shall be like him - but does that mean when we die?
St Paul speaks to the Corinthians of a time of testing: "Now people build on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, but also with wood, hay, and straw. The work of each builder will become visible, for the Day of the Lord will disclose it, because the fire will test what sort of work each has done.  If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire."  The problem here is that he is talking about the Church, not about us as individuals.
It's in this light that I'd like to talk to you about one of Liz and my favourite books.  I don't know how many we've bought over the years to lend or give to people.
It's "The Great Divorce" by C S Lewis.  The title is Lewis's response to the rather strange poem by William Blake called "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".  No marriage, says Lewis in his foreword, but a Great Divorce.
The book takes the form of a dream, in which Lewis finds himself in a dismal street, in a grey town, just as the light is failing on a winter's afternoon.  Suddenly, a resplendently shining double-decker bus arrives, and he joins others climbing aboard.  The bus takes him out of the town, in fact out of the world, and to the outskirts of heaven.
They land in a pleasant flower-strewn meadow, and Lewis has a series of surprises.
First, his fellow passengers, who had seemed so real on the bus, now seem transparent, ghost-like, mere smudges on the air.
Secondly, the grass on which he is standing does not bend under his weight - in fact its solidity hurts his feet.
Then, when he tries to pick a flower or a fallen leaf, he finds them far too heavy to lift.  It is as if this new world is much more real than he is.
A further surprise comes when he notices that each visitor from the bus has someone to meet them.  His own welcomer - guide, you might say -  is a Scottish author whom Lewis had admired throughout his life, whose writing, along with that of G K Chesterton, had begun to turn  him as a young man from being an atheist into a believer in God.
You really need to read this short book yourself, but suffice it to say that most of the rest of it is formed of two things: Lewis questioning his guide about the world in which he is in, but also the encounters between other passengers and their guides.
For each one of the visitors to the outskirts of heaven has some thing that is chaining them to the grey town - some thing that is preventing them from moving further into the heavenly land.
It is the guides' job to help the visitors receive freedom and solidity.  Some visitors need healing from spiritual and emotional wounds.  Some need to repent of attitudes that still turn them in on themselves. Some need to receive forgiveness from those they have wronged; others need to forgive those who have wronged them.

Lewis watches as many, many of these visitors lose their chains and move "further in and higher up".  But with great sadness he also sees some who are so turned inwards, so attached to their current state, that they refuse the healing and freedom they are offered, and make their way back to the bus.
Liz and I, from our earliest days as Christians and even more as we began to discover the treasures of the Catholic Church, were confident that heaven would one day be our destination.
But moved by C S Lewis, and by reflecting on the misplaced attachments in our own lives, we both realised that we would need a time of healing, of penance, of purification before we were ready to come into the awesome presence of God.
You will recognise, of course, that what C S Lewis is describing in his book, what Liz and I both anticipated, is what the Church has traditionally called purgatory.  While the Church has given, and still gives, teaching about this intermediary state, answers to the question "but what is it like?" have been left to poets like Dante and authors like Lewis.  Lewis, the Northern Irish Protestant, has been praised by Pope Benedict and by at least one other major Catholic theologian for his fictional depiction of the Last Things.
If that's the case, then what is happening to Liz now, in as much as we can say "now" about the heavenly lands?  Liz died strong in the faith and fortified by the sacraments of the Church.  But using the language of the Great Divorce, she will be growing more solid as she faces up to the things that hold her back, lays down her burdens, and receives healing and forgiveness.
And that it why it is such an important work of mercy for us to pray for Liz and all the departed.  Our prayers, our penance, even perhaps our forgiveness, can help in that solidifying process. 
Let me close by referring to another dream - one written down by St John Henry Newman 20 years after his reception into the Catholic Church, and later set to music by Edward Elgar.
In the Dream of Gerontius an old man approaches his death, strong in faith and hope, and fortified by the prayers and sacraments of the Church.
Knowing that he will have to spend time in purgatory, nevertheless it is his great wish that he might see the face of God first.  Carried up to the highest heaven by his guardian angel, he is granted that vision.
"Now he lies, " says Newman, "Passive and still before the awful Throne.  O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe, Consumed, yet quicken'd, by the glance of God."
Gerontius himself then says,
"Take me away, and in the lowest deep there let me be.  There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast, that sooner I may rise, and go above, and see him in the truth of everlasting day"
Newman's poem ends with words that describe exactly what we are doing tonight.  The Guardian Angel says,

Angels shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee as thou liest
And Masses on earth and prayers in heaven
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the Most Highest.