Thursday, 15 December 2011

32 seminarians tonsured the same day

On 22nd October 2011, 14 and 18 seminarians were tonsured in each of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter's two seminaries, making it 32 altogether: the largest number of ‘tonsurati’ in the history of the Fraternity. Among them were three from the United Kingdom: Revs Krzysztof (originally from Poland), Alex, and Mark. The latter reports on the ceremony in Bavaria.

In the Old Testament the tribe of Levi had no inheritance to call their own; they had no land to pass on to their sons. According to God's merciful plan they were accorded forty-eight cities to dwell in – scattered amongst the other tribes – but this was for their maintenance; they had no "heritable property" as we would know it today. And yet, having nothing, they had everything, for "the Lord God of Israel Himself" was their possession (Jos. 13:33).

So it is for the cleric. He is singled out, set apart – after a particular call from the Lord – to bring sacrifice to the Lord. Living in a spirit of poverty, he has – like the Levites – nothing material to give. Rather he brings the offerings of others, and above all he brings himself to be offered. Thus with a joyful heart I, and thirteen of my confrères, prayed the immortal words from Psalm XV– "The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me" – and received the clerical tonsure on October 22nd in Lindau, on the shores of Lake Constance in Bavaria, from His Excellency Vitus Huonder, Bishop of the neighbouring diocese of Chur (Zurich) in Switzerland.

In a moving ceremony, the Seminarian is "called forward" to receive the tonsure, where he answers "adsum", that he is present and ready; he is prepared. The Seminarian having donned the collar, soutane and cincture privately in the Sacristy – the collar representing Christ's yoke, and the cincture chastity – the Bishop proceeds to cut five locks from the Seminarian's hair in the form of a Cross, at the same time reciting the above verse from the Psalter in Latin. Then the Surplice – the cleric's particular garb for Liturgy (the Soutane being his everyday clothing, it must be remembered) – is "imposed" onto the Seminarian, with the prayer that the Lord will make him a "new man, created by God in justice and the sanctity of Truth" (c.f. Eph. 4:24).

Whilst the Code of Canon Law now recognises the clerical state only with the conferring of the Diaconate, the ceremony of Tonsure and Clothing as Clerics makes us such liturgically and „existentially‟. One may not yet canonically be a cleric, but for us, and for the eighteen further Seminarians who received the Tonsure on the same day in America, a very visible change has taken place. To the world we look like clerics, or – not knowing any better – we are mistaken for Priests, and we are confronted with a new identity each time our reflection is seen in a pane of glass or a mirror. Is it really me there? Yes, and – trusting in God's call – I will continue to "put on" My Lord each day, and suffer for His sake. (Though, most encounters are positive, because – even in today's "Godless" society – people recognise a commitment as such.)

And so began my second year as a Seminarian for the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. After a first, "probationary" year, the very visual ceremony and change from civil clothes into always dressing like a cleric, is one that strikingly confirms that one is continuing in formation. With six years still "to go", there is plenty time to become used to the soutane, and also to be formed by it. After all, our formation here is not only academic, as Pope John Paul II noted in the Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis", but must also encompass human, pastoral and spiritual formation. And even a piece of clothing contributes to that (though, having been blessed by the Bishop, our Soutanes are also sacramentals!).

The Seminary formation here follows the model prescribed by the Council of Trent while conforming to the Ratio Studiorum of the Holy See. The first year, probationary in nature, is a year of spiritual formation, during which the candidate becomes disciplined in a community life of prayer and penance. The next two years comprise a thorough grounding in thomistic philosophy, during which the Seminarian also continues studies in Latin, scripture, and Gregorian chant, already begun in first year. This is then followed by four years of theological studies, during the last of which one is on placement as a deacon.

Already in the first year there were many challenges to be met: dealing in a foreign language "all day, every day" has its initial frustrations but immense benefits. After years of disuse my childhood German had become very rusty, and I prepared for entering the Seminary by going "back to school", to night classes. That said, the first few weeks were daunting as the artificial environment of my Hometown University could only prepare me so far, and I found many gaps: the language of philosophy being somewhat different from that of the holidaymaker or business traveller.

The daily régime of the Seminary is also demanding, but very rewarding: the day centres around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Hours of the Divine Office (the Breviary). By 6:25am Seminarians are in the Church praying Lauds in choir, this is then followed by silent mental prayer and then the community Mass. Likewise, Seminarians gather in the chapel for Sext (midday prayer) and Vespers, or Rosary in common, or Adoration and Benediction, and again in the Church for Compline (night prayer). The rest of the day is made up of classes and tasks and chores. Despite there being two mandatory recreation periods, one after lunch and one after the evening meal, the day seems full-packed and in second year it does not show any signs of slowing down!

That said, the daily rhythm bears for me a great deal similarity to that one finds in, for example, a Benedictine monastery. By that I mean that there seems a healthy mix between all the aspects of life necessary for formation: not one seems to rule at the expense of the rest. There is work and study, time for silence and then time to talk, private prayer and contemplation, public liturgy and outreach; all has its right place. This follows the succinct maxim of the Middle Ages: "in medio stat virtus", virtue lies in the centre. Hence, whilst the life can be hard at times, there is a real sense of reward and valuable work, especially when one looks to the goal: the Catholic Priesthood. I cannot presume to second-guess the Lord's divine plan for me, but should it be that He wishes me to be His Priest, then here is the place to realise that end. And so I am reminded of the prayer of the cleric each day he dons his Surplice: "Clothe me, O Lord, in the new man, who is created by God in justice and the sanctity of truth".

(originally published in Downry, no. 12 (Autumn 2011), magazine of the FSSP in England)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Vocation discernment weekend / Altar servers' weekend

Vocation discernment weekend, at St John Fisher House in Reading on 16-18 December 2011:
For Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).

Starts on Friday 16th December 2011 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 18th December 2011 mid-afternoon. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP.

Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales.

Address: 17, Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England.

Access: 27mn from London Paddington by direct trains up to every 10mn, and from London Waterloo. Direct trains from Oxford, Bournemouth, Bristol, Newcastle, York, Birmingham, Gatwick Airport, Southampton Airport, etc. Direct 'RailAir' buses from Heathrow to Reading train station every 20mn. Motorway: M4.
Limited overnight accommodation: please book now.

Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite) including polyphonic Sunday Mass, silent prayer, private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what a vocation is in general and to the priesthood in particular. Read here the Holy Father's recent Letter to seminarians. Extract: "The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church's liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations."

Cost: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.

New: our special Vocations flyer and videos on


Altar servers' weekend (residential): at St John Fisher House in Reading on 18-20 November 2011:
For single Catholic men between 18 and 35 years of age (under 18 please contact us).

Starts on Friday 18th November 2011 at 6pm – ends on Sunday 20th November 2011 mid-afternoon. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP.

In a convivial atmosphere, come and learn (or improve) how to set the vestments and sacred items before Mass and to serve Low Mass and Benediction. EF Mass on the Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. Fr de Malleray will give explanations on the liturgy.
Limited overnight accommodation: please book now. Non residential participants welcome.

Cost: no set price for students or unemployed – any donation welcome; others: £50 suggested.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lanherne Convent appeal

by Dr Joseph Shaw

I too have received the same e-mail as Fr Sean and Fr Ray Blake.

The Sisters of the Immaculate at Lanherne have for ten years occupied a convent owned by the Carmelites. This is not odd for them as they are unable to own property. However the Carmelites have announced that they wish to put the convent on the open market, unless... well, unless the Sisters can come up with something.

They are a thriving community who use Traditional Mass the 1962 Breviary. They are a sister order to the Friars of the Immaculate, who have a base in Stoke and two of whom accompanied the LMS Pilgrimage to Walsingham.

Please pray for a solution to be found. The community is unique in the British Isles and if they lose the convent they will have to return to Italy. The order, and the community at Lanherne, is international.
If we English Catholics can't find a home for these sisters who want to devote their entire lives to praying for us, then I say we do not deserve the conversion of England for which we all long.

(reposted from LMS Chairman blog)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New Release: bilingual Diurnale Romanum

A new release for all friends of the traditional Roman liturgy: Fr Ramm of the FSSP's Apostolate in Thalwil announces a new edition of the 1962 Diurnale Romanum. This edition, newly typeset is bilingual: german-latin, in a clear two-column format.

The new edition is available for pre-order, and will be shipped in mid-August. Available with or without zippered cover, prices start at 80,- CHF / 60,- € (approx. $103 / £63).

For more information, including order form, please

Redemptorists on Feast of St Alphonsus

Yesterday, the Feast of our Holy Father Saint Alphonsus, was a very special day for us since we also had a final profession, temporary profession and two clothings!

The four candidates present themselves before the superior.

With Our Lord enthroned within the tabernacle and the doors open, Br. Xavier Maria, F.SS.R. kneels before His Divine Majesty and pronounces his final vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience together with a vow and oath of perseverance.

Br. Xavier binds himself with his hand upon the Holy Gospel.

Br. Alfonso, also kneeling before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament pronounces his temporary vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience for three years. He received his complete religious name: Br. Alfonso Maria of the Star of the Sea, F.SS.R. Brother had spent some years as a sailor before he joined the Transalpine Redemptorists.

At the time of first profession, brother receives his pallium, or, mantle.

Our two postulants preparing to be clothed in the habit of the congregation. On the left Mr Tyler Lunsford and on the right Mr Arden Mills, both from the United States.

Exuat te Dominus veterem hominem cum actibus eius,
et induat te novum, qui secundum Deum creatus est
in justitia et sanctitate veritatis.

May the Lord strip thee of the old man with all his acts and
clothe thee in the new, who is created by God in justice
and in the holiness of truth.

The new Brothers receive their habits.

Indue, Filii Dominum Jesum Chrisum, semper
mortificationem ejus in corpore tuo circumferens.

Son, put on Our Lord Jesus Christ, always surrounding
thy body with His mortification.

Accipe, Fili, imaginem Crucifixi, Magistri et Redemptoris tui,
qui passus est pro te, et tradidit Semetipsum pro te. Pone Illum
ut signaculum super cor tuum, ut signaculum super brachium

Receive, my Son, the image of the crucifix,
image of thy Master and Redeemer, who suffered for thee and
offered Himself for thee. Place it as a seal upon thy heart, as a
seal upon thy arm

The first step towards leaving the world! Today we have seen all three:
These young men leave the secular life and enter the novitiate.
Br. Alfonso completes his novitiate and makes his temporary vows.
Br. Xavier, after three years of temporary vows takes the final step and gives himself to religious until his death.

Accipe, Filii, Rosarium beatæ Virginis Mariæ, quæ tibi sit semper murus ad protegendum, mater ad nutriendum, stella ad dirgendum, portus ad salvandum. Tu autem stude diligenter Mariam diligere et imitari, ac ejus saluberrimam devotionem ubique propagare. In periculis, in angustiis, in rebus dubiis, Mariam cogita, Mariam invoca. Dulce nomen illius non
recedat ab ore, non recedat a corde.

Receive, Son, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may She always be a wall to protect thee, a mother to nourish thee, a star to guide thee and the door to thy salvation do Thou, however, learnest diligently to love and imitate Mary, and to propagate Her most salutary devotion everywhere. In dangers, in anguishes, in doubtful things, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May Her sweet name not disappear from thy lips, nor disappear from thy heart.

Accipe hunc habitum benedictum precans sanctissimam
Virginem, ut eius meritis illum perferas sine macula, et te ab
omni adversitate defendat, atque ad vitam perducat æternum.

Receive this blessed Scapular and beseech the Blessed Virgin
that through Her merits, you may wear it without stain. May
it defend you against all adversity and accompany you to
eternal life.

With the reception of the skull cap comes the new name:
Mr Tyler Lunsford is now Br Seelos after Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.SS.R.
Mr Arden Mills is now Br Peter after St. Peter the apostle.

Congratulations to Br Peter and Br Seelos!

And to Br Xavier Maria and Br Alfonso Maria!

Br Seelos with his mother and father and three brothers.

And Br Peter with his father.

Mr de Jarving, a friend of Br Alfonso, entered as a postulant today.

Br. Xavier Maria and Br. Magdala Maria, both from the Pacific Islands.

First Mass of Fr Marek Grabowski FSSP

by Dr Joseph Shaw

2011 07 31_0858

Fr Marek Grabowski FSSP made news with his ordination in Poland, this being the first traditional ordination since 1970. He is well known to the English Traditional Catholic community, as he has often visited Reading and was a member of staff at the St Catherine's Trust Summer School in 2007. It was wonderful to see him back here again as a priest. He celebrated Mass with the assistance of Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP as deacon, and Fr Simon Leeworthy FSSP as subdeacon.)

2011 07 31_0882

I have never seen St William of York so full. There were people crowded at the back, the extension had about 30 people in it, and of course there was the choir in the choir loft. In all about 120 people. (No, Paul Inwood, not the 'same 30 people' in Portsmouth diocese people going to more Masses than before, but four times that number at St William of York alone.

2011 07 31_0852

Afterwards Fr Grabowski gave 'first blessings'.

2011 07 31_0872

More photos here.

(reposted from LMS Chairman blog)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Ordinations in Florence

by Shawn Tribe

This past July 7th, Cardinal Burke ordained four new priests for the ICRSS at the beautiful Florentine church of San Michele e Gaetano. A full photo gallery can be found, but as always, we wanted to pick a few highlights to feature.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Cardinal Ricard at Wigratzbad

by Shawn Tribe

The following photos of the recent FSSP ordinations at Wigratzbad were sent in to us by a reader in France. Jean-Pierre Cardinal Ricard, the archbishop of Bordeaux and a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, was the celebrant.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem Permant Home in Charles Town, WV

The Canon Regulars of the New Jerusalem have a new home in the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. There residence is in Charles Town, West Virginia according to the Canons website.