Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hurrah for 'Alma Mater by the Tyne'!!

Yesterday (21st October 2011) we celebrated Founder's Day of St Cuthbert's Grammar School - now St Cuthbert's High School - in Newcastle upon Tyne. Due to Half Term holidays the day was celebrated 1 week early.

It was in 1881 that Bishop Chadwick founded this school for boys of the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. Several moves later - including to the country during WWII - the school settled on Denton Bank. During my years at the school - 1949-1954 - we had boys from as far north as Alnwick, as far south as Darlington, as far west as Hexham and as far east as Tynemouth & South Shields.

My  Headmaster was Canon (later Monsignor) JJ Cunningham whose office was situated at the top of the '13 steps' on the right & immediately opposite the chapel. In which order did one visit them? The Head Prefect - in charge of discipline - was Fr Gerard (Ged) Crumbley. It was quite a shock to come from our (mainly) avuncular parish clergy to these cassocked figures who were now among the teaching staff. Fr Ged left to go to parish work & arrived at my home parish of St Michael's in Newcastle where his brother, Fr Raymond, was already a curate. What a change!

Following Fr Ged we had the (in)famous Fr (later Canon & Headmaster) Cassidy. Who can ever forget his saying through tightly clenched teeth "Every time I open my mouth some fool speaks."

Whilst every day at St Cuthbert's was not a bed of roses I can say with honesty that my schooldays were happy, that - although no star pupil -, I had a good education and that my Faith was strengthened, my sense of discipline was formed and I was readied for adult life.

To quote the school song:

"Come then boys come rally round her
Let our hearts with hers entwine
Come and laud her to the echo
Alma Mater by the Tyne"

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I have been following closely recent stories regarding the travellers who occupy sites at Dale Farm in Essex. One of our bishops supports them as they claim that if moved of this - illegally occupied - site they would be homeless. Let us look at the actual situation as widely reported in the media.
Their occupation of most of the site is & always has been illegal. A small number of sites were initially allowed but (almost secretly) large numbers of others moved onto the site over a bank holiday weekend suspecting (rightly) that the authorities would not be there. Following the decision of the planning authorities to uphold the law of the land & protect the longstanding local (legal) residents of the area the travellers offered to move for £3m.
Looking at their "homelessness" we are told that a number of them own expensive properties in Rathkeale i Ireland. One traveller owns Bally-William Close a development of some 30 houses while another is developing 44 houses near Rathkeale called Castle Park Estate. A large number of other travellers own properties in that area which for 11 months of the year are locked up with steel grilles being opened up only over the Christmas period when the owners return home. These same people are registered in that area of Ireland for voting in local, national and European elections.
Please let's not be sympathetic to a bunch of lawbreakers intent only on circumventing the law of the land in England without contributing anything to our country.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Receiving Communion

There were two articles in Catholic Herald this weekend on this question.

The first was by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in which he posited the idea that both forms of reception - kneeling on the tongue and standing in the hand were of equal value. He then went on to, in my opinion, shoot himself in the foot by suggesting that receiving kneeling and on the tongue, as practiced by Pope Benedict when he distributes Holy Communion, we are "aware of coming to be fed  with the Food of Life, conscious of our utter dependence on the Lord. We know the Holiness of the One we receive, beyond our touch." "When we receive Holy Communion kneeling, we present ourselves with humolity and reverence, submitting our strength to Him, recognising that He is Lord of all." This must surely be the better way to receive our Lord and God.

His explanation for Communion standing and in the hand is that "we show we are ready to receive the Lord and to walk and act in His name."

Can we not, after kneeling before our God, stand renewed and then walk and act in His name?

The second article was Catholic Dilemmas by Fr Tim Finigan whose writings I have read before.

He tells us that, although the Holy See gave permission in the 1970s for Communion to be received in the hand " remains the case that receiving on the tongue is the universal practice in terms of liturgical law." Whilst the permission was implemented by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales any diocese may revert to reception on the tongue and, as more dioceses examine the situation, many throughout the world have reverted to the 'universal practice' of receiving on the tongue. Again Fr Finigan cites the lead given by the Holy Father.

Some bishops have in the past refused Communion to Faithful who approached for reception kneeling and on the tongue and my wife and I were shocked to be told by a senior prelate in the diocese that he would 'bless our hands' to enable us to go against our deeply held beliefs that lay hands are totally unworthy to touch the Body of Christ. He did, eventually, relent but insisted that we approached for Holy Communion after everyone else.

I find this dichotomy troubling and wonder whether anyone would help by commenting.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Requiem for Bishop Ambrose Griffiths OSB, KC*HS

Yesterday (1st July) we had the Requiem Mass for Bishop Emeritus Ambrose Griffiths OSB, KC*HS in St Mary's Cathedral in Newcastle. This was the third such Mass (previously in Leyland, then here on the day of the reception of his body) & was to be followed by yet another at his home monastery at Ampleforth where he is to be buried.

The Mass was (thank God) quite orthodox without the dancing & clapping to which Bishop Ambrose was attracted. Nor did we have official representation from the YMT which he founded. They were otherwise engaged.

Strange to say the Introit (in Latin) was from the Missa pro Defunctis as was the In Paradisum. It seems as if someone noticed late in the day (the night before actually) that the cathedral choir couldn't sing these items and so a small schola of Peter Locke, Lawrence Valentine & Gerry Langley were quickly recruited to fill the gap. Sad to say the In Paradisum wasn't good.

As Bishop Ambrose had been Prior to the Northumbrian Section of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem during his episcopy there was a small contingent of the Order (4 Knights and 1 Dame) present (including myself) to form a Guard of Honour as the hearse left after Mass. Although Bishop Ambrose was also a Member of Honour of the Knights of St Columba there was no official presence but 2 Brothers were in attendance personally.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mgr Marini speaks out

Mgr Marini is the Papal MC and at a  recent conference spoke out regarding several points relating to how we, as Catholics, should be showing our focus during Holy Mass and Communion.

In the first instance he reminded us of the ancient tradition of focusing on Christ either through eastward orientation during the Eucharistic Prayer or towards a crucifix or other image of Christ which stood in for the eastward orientation.

We are in danger of losing this focus as, in the past, everyone (including the priest) prayed towards the same point - showing that the Lord was coming and that together we all looked towards Him.

He also posited that kneeling before the presence of the Lord makes it all the clearer that it really is Jesus and implies our adoration of Him.  Not just that we receive Him but that we kneel in worship before Him.

Mgr Marini also asked us to listen anew to what the Holy Father says both in his writings and through his example in the Papal liturgies.  The Pope distributes Communion to communicants who are always kneeling and who receive always on the tongue because - Indults and Permissions aside - this remains a law of universal character.  We should look on these examples not as the Pope's personal preference but rather that this is how he intends priests and people to follow his lead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick to the core

 Thus said our Holy Father when still Cardinal Ratzinger. A photograph shows Pope John Paul II, shortly before his death, kneeling to receive Holy Communion from Cardinal Ratzinger.

I have personal experience of a high ranking diocesan priest chastising me for wanting to receive Communion on the tongue. He offered to 'bless' my hands so that they would be like those of a priest or deacon whose hands had been anointed to permit him to touch the Real Presence.

Let us pray that Pope Benedict forbids the reception of the Sacred Species  than on the tongue & kneeling.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Knights of the Holy Sepulchre

I am delighted to announce that on Saturday 4th June 2011 at St George's Cathedral, Southwark I was invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem by Archbishop McDonald the Archbishop Emeritus of Southwark Diocese.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Knight of the Holy Sepulchre

On Saturday 4th June 2011 in St George's Cathedral, Southwark in London I had the great privilege of being invested as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (KHS) by Archbishop Kevin McDonald KC*HS, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Southwark and Grand Prior of the Lieutenancy of England & Wales.

The Investiture was the culmination of 3 years of examination of my life in the Church as well as a nihil obstat  from my diocesan bishop Seamus Cunningham. On Friday 3rd June I spent the full day with other Postulants and Investees at a seminar on the Order and its work.

Saturday began at 8.00am with a Chapter Meeting at the cathedral followed by the Investiture Mass. Straight after Mass, which ended at 12 noon, we were transported to the Great Hall of Lincolns Inn for a very splendid lunch.

I ask for your prayers that I may be a worthy member of this ancient Order which was formed at the time of the First Crusade in the 11th Century. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Masses for the Feast of Corpus Christi

Masses in the diocese of Hexham & Newcastle:

Morpeth, St Robert's Low Mass at 7.00pm
Barnard Castle, St Mary's Low Mass at 7.30pm
Coxhoe, SS Joseph, Patrick & Cuthbert Low Mass at 12 noon 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Girl Altar Servers for EF Masses in Cambridge

The Catholic Herald reports (Charterhouse 27/5) that Fr Alban McCoy - the Catholic Chaplain at Cambridge - has allowed young women to serve at EF Masses. It is reported that he has come under "a lot of stick in the past fortnight"!  And rightly so!

Whilst the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae does not mention that female servers are forbidden, it does (in my opinion) clearly state that the rubrics in place in 1962 must be adhered to.  In 1962 female servers were not allowed.  Bishop John Arnold, Chairman of Oxford & Cambridge Catholic Education Board, supports him.  Is that surprising?

Whilst some traditionalists do seek the capitulation of the Ordinary Form, most do not & simply look for those attached to that form of Mass to grant us the same consideration as most of us are prepared to grant them.  I am firmly of the opinion that the Mass is the Mass is the Mass & I do, happily, attend properly celebrated OF Masses.  What I do object to (strongly) are those OF Masses celebrated according to the whims of the celebrant, whether it be changing the words or otherwise defiling the Mass. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Methodist Ordinations in Liverpool Cathedral cancelled

It seems that Archbishop Kelly has had sense put to him by higher authorities and has withdrawn his permission for ordinations to the Methodist ministry to be carried out in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool.

Many people - including some ecumenists - were shocked that a Catholic cathedral of such standing and importance could conceivably have been put to such use.  While unwilling to use such words as "profanation" it certainly is hardly acceptable that non-Catholic rites should be permitted in the House of God wherein is revered the Body of Christ.  Perhaps if Methodists believed as we do in the Real Presence it might have made sense but surely it cannot be acceptable for their bizarre 'communion' services to be even considered.

ICKSP takes over church in North West

Great news that Bishop Davies of Shrewsbury has given over an unused church to ab Ecclesia Dei religious institution.

The church is that of SS Peter & Paul in New Brighton.  In addition to this the FSSP has 2 houses in the UK, perhaps they too might be given an unused church somewhere.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Traditional values guarantee Catholics at Mass

In his blog 'Let the Welkin ring' Fr Elkin quotes statistics which are both worrying & hopeful.

In this diocese (Hexham & Newcastle) we are to have a 'Welcome Back Sunday' at Pentecost. Father's figures claim that we have just over 20% of Catholics attending Mass in this diocese. That is worrying.

Bishop Bruskewitz in Nebraska has around 60% of Catholics attending. That is hopeful.

To contrast the two dioceses perhaps the fact that the American bishop insists that his priests follow the rubrics of the Roman Missal (I presume in both OF & EF) results in both the proper celebration of the Mass as well as the authentic teaching of Holy Mother Church.

The question to ponder, it seems to me, is whether our bishop should go back to basics & instruct (order?) his priests to celebrate Mass properly or whether he should be inviting non practising Catholics to return to Mass where, at least in some cases, they will see a Mass celebrated by a priest using words other than those prescibed in the rubrics of the Roman Missal.

Please ask yourself the question.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Vitriol in Northern Cross

In the February issue of the Hexham & Newcastle monthly newspaper - Northern Cross - I wrote bewailing the imminent closure of Ushaw College. I admit to being rather sarcastic in describing our Youth Village (I called it our 'Yoof' Village) and suggesting that, instead of building it from scratch it could have been sited on the Ushaw College campus.  The comment re the village was 1 very short paragraph in my letter which dealt with other aspects of diocesan finance viz centralised buying of fuels (gas & electricity) and other items common to most parishes.

The response was 2 pages of what can only be called invective &, it seemed to me, an orchestrated response. Perhaps I touched a nerve?  I am a member of the News Panel of Northern Cross & was offered the opportunity of response but decided not to dignify such letters with a response. I will instead pray that, supposedly, educated people will be granted the wisdom to put their opinions in a more Christian context.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


This is to introduce myself on this new blog. It is totally separate from my LMS blog & all comments in this blog are my own personal thoughts.

I am a traditional Roman Catholic man born in 1938 in Newcastle upon Tyne in NE England. I am fortunate to be able to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite every Sunday although I do attend Ordinary Form Masses regularly. Sadly, I must say that I select such Masses very carefully as too many priests 'do their own thing' instead of following the rubrics of the Mass as laid down in the Roman Missal.

I am a trained altar server up to & including Master of Ceremonies at Solemn High Mass & am happy to train others in these skills.

I do not suffer fools gladly & do not 'do' quiet. I am very upfront with my opinions but will hear other opinions without necessarily agreeing with them. Anyone who holds an opinion without expressing those opinions does not deserve to enter a discussion.

This blog will cover a very catholic range including religion, politics & indeed anything which takes my eye.