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L’Osservatore Romano goes Hungarian

Magyarophiles will be pleased to learn that L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, will begin appearing in Hungarian. The new edition will appear every other week as a four-page insert into Új Ember, the Hungarian Catholic weekly founded in 1945. “We are a small editorial staff,” Balázs Rátkai, editor-in-chief of the weekly, told L’Osservatore.

“However, our intention is to probe and to make our readers think. The collaboration with the Vatican daily is of historic importance for the life of the weekly and of the entire local Church; it not only brings the Universal Church and the Pope closer to us; it will also enrich readers, and through them all of Hungarian society, with new thoughts, opinions and answers.”

Printed as a daily broadsheet in Italian, the Vatican newspaper also has weekly tabloid editions in French, Spanish, English, German, and Portuguese, as well as a monthly version in Polish.

December 17, 2013 11:20 am | Link | 4 Comments »

Saturday: Day of Fasting & Prayer for Peace in Syria

Given the urgent situation, please see the following from the Fathers of the London (Brompton) Oratory:

London Oratory
Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria

This is in response to the following call to fasting and penance issued by His Holiness Pope Francis:

“On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.”

The London Oratory invites you to join the Holy Father in prayer for this urgent intention.

6.00pm Mass for Peace, the Oratory Church

6.45pm-11.00pm Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the Little Oratory

September 5, 2013 7:20 pm | Link | No Comments »

Some Norwegian Catholics

Writers, politicians, journalists, academics — Norway’s Catholics seem an intellectual bunch. The Church in Scandinavia is on a slow but steady ascendant, and it’s telling (of both the rise and fall of many) that there are now more seminarians studying for the priesthood for the Nordic countries than there are for all of Ireland.

As a Norwegian acquaintance of ours was ordained for the Diocese of Oslo within the past year, I thought a little jaunt through a handful or two of Norwegian Catholics might be interesting. There are some I would have liked to included — the conversion of the former Lutheran ecumenist Ola Tjørhom provoked controversy and Wilhelm Wedel-Jarlsberg preceded Christopher de Paus as a papal chamberlain — but there is only so much time and space and effort.

Of those mentioned here below, only Sigrid Undset has achieved worldwide fame. Her work Kristin Lavransdatter is an absolute must for any serious reader of literature and was recently re-translated into English by Penguin. (more…)

August 12, 2013 4:00 pm | Link | 10 Comments »

Into the Qadisha Valley

THE HOLY VALLEY cuts down like a gash in the earth, with the cathedral city of Bcharré on the clifftop, almost hanging off of it. One almost wonders if you started building at the other end of the town, it might force St Seba’s Cathedral off over into the deep beyond. There is something almost Lord of the Rings about the setting, a Levantine Minas Tirith, if only Tolkein had been a Maronite.

The Qadisha Valley (Ouadi Qadisha, وادي قاديشا, literally the “Holy Valley”) takes its name from the Aramaic word for saintly and for over a millennium its natural caves have provided shelter for hermits seeking solitude as well as others seeking refuge and safety. Evidence of human habitation dates back to the Paleolithic era, and the Qannubin Monastery here is said to have been founded by the Emperor Theodosius the Great in the fourth century. While this is the holiest ground of the Maronite Catholics, hermits living in these caves and in these monasteries have been Melchite, Nestorian, Armenian, Syrian Orthodox, and Ethiopian. When the Monastery of St Maron was sacked by Antiochene Monophysites, many monks fled to the Qadisha Valley, strengthening the presence of this Eastern church which has always remained in communion with Rome. For over five hundred years, the Maronite patriarch made Deir Qannubin his seat. (Since 1830 the Patriarchate has been based at Bkerké above the pleasant Mediterranean city of Jounieh).

It was a hot summer’s day when we arrived and as chance had it we couldn’t even get very far into Bcharré.

“A man has died. We can’t go on,” the driver mysteriously intones. (A funeral procession is underway).

Very well. We carry on down circuitously weaving through the outer-lying portions of the town, through a small necropolis, and then finally into the valley proper. While the Qadisha valley attracts many pilgrims and travellers, this is not some easy tourist route, though nor is it difficult as hiking goes (unless, like us, you have a partially blind Paralympian among your party).

Up and down you go amongst small rivulets and meandering paths joining and divorcing from your own, led by a guide who speaks neither French nor English (thank God our Lebanese friends were with us).

Eventually, having passed a considerable way down, and then up a little ways, we are taken to a cave which has been segmented with stone walls into a chapel.

Much to my surprise, murals still survive in this exposed environment, protected by the overhanging rock.

The iconoclastic damage looked quite recent, and our guide explained it probably dated from as recently as the Syrian occupation (1976–2005).

Monasticism began in the East, of course, and Western monasticism is a slightly different kettle of fish. While hermits once lived in these caves, almost all of today’s Qadisha monks are gathered into the formal Maronite communities (Baladites, Aleppians, and Antonins) or into the other non-Maronite monasteries in the valley.

Brushing the dust of the Qadisha Valley from my shoes at the end of the day, I wondered if the first monks slapped their sandals together, discarding the very same sand sixteen hundred years earlier after they finished their Liturgy of the Hours for the day (though I somehow doubt it).

July 22, 2013 5:56 pm | Link | 3 Comments »

The Lady Altar

The Oratory Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Brompton Road, London

In the south transept of the Brompton Oratory is the altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, perhaps the finest altar in the entire church. It is a favourite place for getting in a few prayers and offering a candle or two or three or four. At the end of Solemn Vespers & Benediction on Sunday afternoon (above) it is where the Prayer for England is said and the Marian antiphon sung.

The Lady Altar was designed and built in 1693 by Francesco Corbarelli of Florence and his sons Domenico and Antonio and for nearly two centuries stood in the Chapel of the Rosary in the Church of St Dominic in Brescia. That church was demolished in 1883, and the London Congregation of the Oratory purchased the altar two years beforehand for £1,550.

The statue of Our Lady of Victories holding the Holy Child had previously stood in the old Oratory church in King William Street, and the central space of the reredos was slightly modified to house it. The Old and New Worlds are represented in the flanking statues, which are of St Pius V and St Rose of Lima — both by the Venetian late-baroque sculptor Orazio Marinali. The statues of St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena which now rest in niches facing the altar were previously united to it, and are by the Tyrolean Thomas Ruer.

April 7, 2013 11:00 pm | Link | 3 Comments »

The Cathedral of the Bronx

The Augustinian Church of St Nicholas of Tolentine

The Church of St Nicholas of Tolentine dominates the busy intersection of University Avenue and West Fordham Road in the Bronx. The parish was erected by the archdiocese in 1906 and has been served by Augustinians ever since then. The present church is a modern gothic creation from 1927, and probably one of the most handsome Catholic churches in the borough — it is often nicknamed “the cathedral of the Bronx”. (Though that style is sometimes also ascribed to St Jerome’s in Mott Haven).

The church is of suitably grand proportions, but the effect is somewhat diminished by the unfortunate use of bulky wooden pews. They are ill-suited to such a large church, and detract from the spaciousness of the interior. This is unfortunately a very frequent problem in the United States, where clumsy pews crowd even great cathedral churches like St Patrick’s in Manhattan or the glorious Cathedral Basilica in St Louis. Regardless, St Nicholas of Tolentine is a splendid ornament in this borough of many churches. (more…)

March 28, 2013 2:00 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

Better late than never

Old hat already, but following the announcement of Benedict XVI’s abdication, the Los Angeles Times solicited opinions from eleven American Catholics — among them your humble & obedient scribe — what they would like to see in the new pope.

I posted in on Twitter, but in case you didn’t catch it there, you can find my contributions (in addition to those of the ten others) at this link. (more…)

March 25, 2013 10:58 pm | Link | 1 Comment »

Against the Dictatorship of Relativism

Pope Francis continues Benedict XVI’s fight

… But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “dictatorship of relativism”, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.

“For those tempted to draw an overly sharp distinction between Pope Francis and his predecessor,” John Allen reports, “the new pope offered a clear reminder Friday that he may have a different style than Benedict XVI, but on substance, he’s cut from much the same cloth.”

“In a speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Friday, Francis lamented not only the material poverty of the early 21st century but also its ‘spiritual poverty,’ meaning a rejection of God and objective standards of morality.”

Also, I found it interesting that the Holy Father noted that his background in an Argentine family of Italian origin impelled him in his role as bridge-builder. Naturally, as someone from an Estadounidense family of Irish origin, I feel a certain parallel kinship to this first American pope.

[Note: The boldface below is mine.] (more…)

March 22, 2013 2:29 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

Pope Francis’s Arms

The Vatican released information about Pope Francis’s coat of arms on Monday but the image they provided of it was very poorly drafted. Many of us were waiting for the Italian heraldic artist Marco Foppoli to craft his own rendering of our new pope’s arms, and he has duly released it today (see above).

The central motif is the emblem of the Society of Jesus — the Christogram with nails on a sunburst. The star represents the Blessed Virgin while the sprig of nard-flower represents Saint Joseph, the patron of the universal church. Thus the three emblems on Pope Francis’s arms together represent the Holy Family.

Further info available from Il Foglio, Fr Z, and Whispers in the Loggia. (more…)

March 20, 2013 7:50 pm | Link | 3 Comments »

From the provost

The Provost of the Brompton Oratory, Fr Julian Large, warns Catholics not to let their attitude to the Pope be determined by the media

Shortly before his abdication, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI delivered an address to the clergy of the diocese of Rome. He reflected on his experiences as an expert at the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and on that Council’s effects on the life of the Church. He spoke mysteriously of a contrast between the Council of the Fathers, meaning the proceedings that actually took place around the Pope in the Vatican, and what he called, a ‘virtual Council’, or a ‘Council of the media’. According to Pope Benedict, the real Council was firmly rooted in Catholic doctrine and aimed at renewing the Faith, while the ‘virtual Council’ as presented to the world through the media had a completely different, political, objective. Pope Benedict explained: “this Council [the ‘virtual’ one] created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality. Seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialised.” Pope Benedict even lamented that this ‘virtual Council’ was stronger than the official Council itself.

Whether or not we agree with this interpretation of the hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council, we must acknowledge that the media in the world today exerts a formidable power over the information that ultimately determines how we think and live. (more…)

March 18, 2013 9:16 pm | Link | No Comments »

Franciscan Ways

Martin Gambarotta’s weekly ‘Politics & Labour’ column in the Buenos Aires Herald is the best English-language guide to Argentine politics. I miss the days when the superb exchange rate allowed me to subscribe to the Saturday Herald, and I could read the eternal soap-opera antics of the republic while safely ensconced abroad. Here, he analyses the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope through the lens of Argentine politics.

If God is an Argentine then, apparently, the pope is a Peronist. At least that, “a Peronist,” is how much of the local press has chosen to describe Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who on Wednesday was elected pope and took the name of Francis.

MARTIN GAMBAROTTA

Bergoglio is a son of Buenos Aires. If you happened to stroll through Plaza de Mayo on any given day you could sometimes see Bergoglio preaching to his flock from the steps of the Buenos Aires Cathedral while life went on around him.

Plaza de Mayo has always been a historic place. Now visitors will want to take another look at the cathedral, which for years was the headquarters of who is now Pope Francis.

If Bergoglio’s appointment has redefined the way in which you will look at a building then imagine the effect it will have on the nation’s volatile politics.

Resident of Buenos Aires (aka porteño), now you know what global attention feels like.

The minute Bergoglio’s election was announced the telephones in newsrooms started to ring. (more…)

March 18, 2013 9:00 pm | Link | 9 Comments »

Pope Francis

THE SACRED COLLEGE have elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to be Rome’s new bishop and our Supreme Pontiff. He has chosen to take the name of FRANCIS.

One immediately recalls the words Our Lord spoke to Francis of Assisi in the great saint’s vision at San Damiano:

Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.

We pray that the Holy Father will continue the work of his predecessors in safeguarding the flock, and will do his part to fulfil the task given to his namesake, St Francis of Assisi.

God bless our pope!

March 13, 2013 11:45 pm | Link | 8 Comments »

Gardone 2013

The daily programme of events for the twenty-first Gardone Riviera Summer Symposium organised by the Roman Forum has been released and is worth taking a look at.

As usual, there are a wide variety of subjects to be covered at the annual event:

• The Organic Society and the Principle of Subsidiarity: The Catholic
Understanding of Order and the Modern Age of Extremes
• City Planning, and Catholic Christendom: Baroque and Post-Modern
• The Secularization of the Religious Feast Through the Concepts of
Weekend and Leisure Time
• Catholic Regime Change Today: The Model of the Italian Opera dei Congressi

And many, many more! The overall theme of this year’s gathering is “The Divine Comedy Versus the Theater of the Absurd: Navigating a Path Between Scylla and Charybdis”. For more information, head over to the relevant page on the Roman Forum website.

March 3, 2013 8:52 pm | Link | No Comments »

The Malteserkirche, Vienna

I happened to stumble upon the Order of Malta church in Vienna while meandering down the Kärntner Straße in the middle of a snowy day. It’s a small and relatively simple church consisting of a Gothic nave with an organ gallery. The Order has occupied the site since 1217, though the bulk of the current church dates from the fifteenth century. In 1806, Commander Fra’ Franz von Colloredo had the façade remodelled in the Empire style fashionable at the time. The altarpiece, a painting by Johann Georg Schmidt depicting the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, is from a few decades earlier in 1730, and there is a splendid Neoclassical monument to Jean de la Valette including telamonic Saracens. The church is also decorated with forty coats of arms: five of grand priors, one cardinal, a grand commander, twenty-nine commanders, and one bailiff.

(more…)

March 3, 2013 8:48 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

Grazie

“You will always be with us. Thank you.

The municipal authorities have put these posters up all around Rome.

March 3, 2013 8:42 pm | Link | No Comments »

The Lenten Evening Oratory

THE ORATORY, SOUTH KENSINGTON
Brompton Road, SW7 2RP

Lent 2013
Evening Oratory
with the Fathers

Spiritual discourses, music and prayer
in the tradition of St. Philip Neri

WEDNESDAYS at 6.30pm

20.Feb.2013 – Little Oratory
The Oratory Choir
The Three Lenten Tasks: tasks for all the year

27.Feb.2013 – Little Oratory
London Oratory School Schola
Adversaries of the Spiritual Life: The Flesh, The World, The Devil

6.Mar.2013 – Little Oratory
The Oratory Choir
Our Lord speaks to His followers before the Passion

13.Mar.2013 – The Church
Holy Hour during 40 Hours Exposition (Quarant’Ore)

20.Mar.2013 – Little Oratory
Oratory Junior Choir
Our Lady’s Dolours (texts from Stabat Mater)

27.Mar.2013 – The Church
Tenebrae in Cena Domini

February 26, 2013 11:00 pm | Link | No Comments »

Vigil of Prayer at the Oratory

Thurs 28 February 9.30pm
until
Friday 1 March 7am

There will be an Adoration Vigil (Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament) in the Little Oratory praying for the Church as we end the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, thanking God for all the graces during this pontificate and asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the cardinals as they meet to elect the new Pope.

The Vigil will begin Thursday 28 February at 9.30 in the evening and conclude with Mass at 7am the following morning.

The Little Oratory
Brompton Oratory
Brompton Road
London
SW7 2RP
February 26, 2013 10:45 pm | Link | No Comments »

Don Bosco in London

Just went to venerate the relics of Don Bosco, which are doing a UK-wide tour organised by the Salesian order. There was quite a crowd waiting for the Saint’s earthly remains to be unveiled at 2 o’clock — suprising for early afternoon on a workday. Before the relics were even made viewable there were pilgrims huddled around the veiled reliquary, whom the organisers eventually had to shoo away in order to organise some proper veneration.

The faithful are able to venerate the relics at Westminster Cathedral from 2:00pm to 8:30pm today and tomorrow only, after which they will spend the next two days at St. George’s Cathedral in Southwark before returning to Italy.

January 11, 2013 3:20 pm | Link | 2 Comments »

Tradtastic Hertfordshire

The bishops of England & Wales cunningly arranged for the Feast of the Epiphany to fall on the actual Epiphany this year. We had a great big festive lunch at our favourite little Italian place in South Ken, but the night before I went out to Hertfordshire, where I witnessed the tradition of a door being CMB’d with holy chalk for the new year (above).

Those unaware of this tradition can read a bit more here. The C+M+B stands both for Christus mansionem benedicat (“Christ bless this house”) and the names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.

January 10, 2013 10:10 pm | Link | No Comments »

Return to Downside

Christmas was marked by a return to the Abbey Basilica of Saint Gregory the Great at Downside for Midnight Mass. The abbey church always has a splendid feeling at night. One of the best points at the wedding of the century was in the evening when, after a fair bit of dining and drinking, a whole slew of guests slipped into the church where the monks who a few hours previous had sung the nuptial mass were singing compline and joined in their prayers.

Doubtless you will recall last year’s Christmas diary documenting my holiday with Garabanda, Ming, und Familie. In the time since then, my own parents have very wisely moved onto the same landmass as I, and — even better — moved to nary a half-hour’s drive from Downside, so this Christmas was spent in blessed Georgian comfort with my own parents and all the delights of that particular patch of the West Country. (more…)

January 10, 2013 10:00 pm | Link | No Comments »
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