Thursday, 22 August 2019

Saint John Kemble, Priest Martyr (1599 – 22 August 1679)

St. John Kemble's Grave at Welsh Newton

"John Kemble was born at Rhydicar Farm, St Weonards, Herefordshire, in 1599, the son of John and Anne Kemble. They were a prominent local recusant Catholic family, which included four other priests. John Kemble was ordained at Douai College, on 23 February 1625. He returned to England on 4 June 1625 as a missionary in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.

Upon Fr Kemble's returned to Monmouthshire he served more than 50 years as an itinerant priest, winning admirers even among Protestants. Little is known of his work caring for his flock during these fifty three years. The condition of Catholics had eased but priests still needed to perform their ministry discreetly.  Based at Pembridge Castle, the home of his nephew, Captain Richard Kemble, he had seemed immune from prosecution.

The uneasy tolerance within which Fr Kemble had operated was shattered by the Popish Plot of 1678. Titus Oates was a perjurer who concocted a plot in which the Anglican Charles II would be assassinated and his Catholic brother (later, King James II) installed as king in his place.  When Oates' story was examined in detail the whole fraud was exposed, but it gave disgruntled Protestants and ambitious chancers an opportunity. Anti-Catholic politicians made cynical use of this "plot" to implicate English Catholics, particularly priests. A Monmouthshire man, William Bedloe, laid false information against the leading Catholics of the area.

Among the many Catholics caught up in the frenzy was Fr John Kemble. Fr David Lewis was apprehended at St. Michael's Church, Llantarnam.

Fr Kemble was allowed to die on the gallows before being drawn and quartered, thus he was spared the agony suffered by many of other Catholic martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales. He died on 22 August 1679 at Widemarsh Common, Hereford. His death was greeted with dismay in the locality, Protestants no less than Catholics praising him as "a great gentleman".

One of Kemble's hands is still preserved above the epistle-side side altar at St Francis Xavier Church in Hereford city centre. His body rests in the (Church of England) churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at Welsh Newton, and local Catholics make an annual pilgrimage to his grave."

Fond out more at

Monday, 19 August 2019

VISIONS OF REDEMPTION RETREAT Led by Christopher Greener OSB & Nick Gurr 4 – 6 October 2019

Two 20th Cent American female writers and thinkers offer two distinct Catholic visions of redemption. Dorothy Day writes with a gritty journalism. Living with disability, Flannery O'Connor's fiction was inspired by faith and her roots in America's South.

The retreat will involve close-reading an discussion of texts and audio-visual material, giving a brief introduction to these writers' work.

Participants will be encouraged to explore the work in the light of their own faith.

Nick has experience... and has also organised and led many meditation retreats for people who use 12-Step programmes to overcome addiction.

Br Christopher is infirmarian at Douai Abbey and has for some years enjoyed reading Flannery O'Connor.

Cost: £145 (All rooms fully en suite)
£116 per person for those sharing. 

Saturday, 17 August 2019

ASK FATHER: @BishopBarron on the Pew Research and lack of belief in the Eucharist. Fr. Z rants a little and issues an invitation.

From Wikicommons

From Fr Z:-

"From a reader…
Bishop Barron has a video reacting to the Pew Research saying that 75% of Catholics think the Blessed Sacrament is just a symbol.  He talks about the failure of catechetics and educators and that social justice was made more important than sound teaching.
What say you?

Bishop Barron indeed reacted to the recent Pew Research about Catholics and their belief in the Church’s teachings about the Eucharist.  He is clearly frustrated.  Anyone with any commonsense and sliver of love left for the Church would be beside himself at the news that 75% think that the Eucharist is just a symbol (younger Catholics … drop that to 80%). It’s only a symbol.
Barron quotes Flannery O’Connor’s famous quip and quite properly.  “If it’s only a symbol, to hell with it.” Exactly right.  The Eucharist is the – here comes the non-cliché which must never be allowed to be used as a cliché – “source and summit” of our lives as Catholic Christians.
Barron admits that, if 75% don’t believe then something has gone seriously wrong. It represents a “massive failure” for which “we are all guilty”.

Sorry, but I’M NOT!  I’ve been flogging myself for decades to be clear as crystal about the Eucharist and I’ve been beaten to a pulp for my efforts.  As I recounted elsewhere, I was thrown out of seminary (the first time) because of a dispute over the Eucharist.  But, as a former Lutheran, I can “do no other”.  As a convert, I made radical choices knowing what I was leaving and knowing what I was embracing.  As a matter of fact, I did my profession of Faith, from the traditional Ritual, publicly during Sunday Vespers kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.  Enough about me.

It could be that Barron’s “we” meant “we bishops”. But, sincerely, I get his point: many, not all, people are to blame.  Hmmm… many… not all….
Bp. Barron underscores that this has been a massive failure on the part of educators, catechists, evangelists and teachers.

Well, yes, but mostly… NO!

Yes, catechesis is important, but more important still is our liturgical worship, for decades hardly “sacred” liturgical worship.

Lack of belief in the Eucharist is mostly a massive failure in the way we celebrate the Eucharist!  I mean, of course, Holy Mass.

Everything flows from worship and then back to worship.Allow me to affirm that you can’t say everything in a short video. There isn’t enough time. So, what you choose to include is probably your most important position, what you really want to get across. Not a word from Bp. Barron in the video about liturgy, about decades of the prevailing liturgical style (or the rite itself – the Novus Ordo).  This is so typical of bishops.

Not a word – in that video – about liturgy as either a cause of the problems we face or as a solution. I listened to it twice and didn’t hear it.  He talks about the danger of placing social justice, etc., before doctrine.  But, he doesn’t talk about liturgy.

Did I miss it?  Please correct me if I did.  It may be that he has held forth at length on the topic elsewhere.  I don’t follow him daily. Bp. Barron, in this video, underscores great figures who loved the “Eucharist” and who would be flabbergasted at the suggestion that the Eucharist was just a symbol.  Exactly so!

However – and I know you know this Bp. Barron – “Eucharist” is not just the Blessed Sacrament. It is also the way the Eucharist is celebrated.There’s the Eucharist that is the Host and Precious Blood and there’s the Eucharist that is the very way by which we have the Host and Precious Blood, the ultimate “thanksgiving” which is Holy Mass.

Our sacred liturgical worship is our most important action in the fulfillment of Religion, that orders all other activities and gives them meaning.The way that Holy Mass is celebrated IS DOCTRINE… it IS CATECHESIS. Liturgy is the principle locus of encounter which the vast majority of Catholics have with the Church. It’s Sunday Mass (if they go) far more than talks, classes, adult education, CCD, etc.  Let’s not even bring up efforts in most homes of your average Catholic to teach children the Faith. 

The way Mass is celebrated is by far the principle influence on how people see and think about the Eucharist.

If the ars celebrandi of the priest is X, then people will be guided towards X. Change the liturgy and the belief of people about X will slowly follow.  Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi … “Lex orandi – Lex Credendi” is NOT a cliché, either. It’s the way things work!

WE ARE OUR RITES. Change those rites and you change belief.  It is inevitable.

What Pew Research revealed is nothing other than the fruits of the last 50 years of near total liturgical devolution which enervated and evacuated the Faith of the overwhelming majority of Catholics.   And soon they won’t even bother calling themselves Catholic.

Tick… tick… tick… tick….

Bp. Barron says that this is a “call to action” in the Church. I agree.
On the other hand, the Bishop doesn’t seem to mean action to change the way we celebrate the Eucharist, the way we see the Eucharist, the way we sing to and about the Eucharist, the way we literally handle the Eucharist.  That is: liturgical worship, how we celebrate Holy Mass.
He wants a “call to action”? Here’s a call to action!
  • Foster kneeling for Communion put in Communion rails.
  • Get serious about music.
  • Phase out unnecessary lay ministers of Communion.
  • Clear the sanctuary of everything that distracts.
  • Celebrate ad orientem.
  • And the scariest of all … implement generously Summorum Pontificum!
Every one of those will require, yes, catechesis.  Lot’s of sound catechesis and patience.
Patience and more patience.
But “it’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.”
Let’s not wring our hands and wonder how to proceed “pastorally” to the point that we, again, proceed to do nothing.

“Oh dear, oh dear! Some people might not like these changes!  We have to be sensitive!  They’ll… you know… complain!  Then what?  We have to be nice, after all.  Can’t we get along?  Let’s not fight over these things.”
Not fight?  NO!  Sometimes we have to have the fight.   The fight as come to us, whether we want it or not.

We are, in fact, now in the fight of our Catholic lives!

Bp. Barron has issued a call to action.
I respectfully issue a call and an invitation to Bp. Barron.

Bp. Barron: Think outside the box – which is actually inside the box of Tradition –  and talk about sacred liturgical worship as the key to rebuilding our Catholic identity.
Projects and programs and pamphlets and videos… yeah… great.  It’s liturgy all along.  It’s has always been about liturgical worship.

Also, in my capacity as the President of the Tridentine Mass Society of the Diocese of Madison, I invite you to come to talk to us here about all these matters and – please! – also to celebrate a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form either at the Faldstool or, with Bp. Hying’s consent as he wishes, at the Throne.

I am convinced that you will do well as celebrant.  It isn’t has hard as one might imagine.  In fact, celebrating traditionally as a bishop is about as easy as it gets in the Roman Rite on either side, because you are surrounded by ministers who do just about everything.  All you have to do is be a little docile, pray, and preach well.  We do the rest.
Please consider coming. Your welcome will be warm and sincere and you will set an example of “action”."

Monday, 5 August 2019

Updates for the 2019 Young Catholic Adults weekend!

Please see a couple of updates for the 2019 Young Catholic Adults weekend! It will feature author and associate editor of the Catholic Herald Professor Stephen Bullivant (talking about the Benedict Option), Fr. Stewart Foster (discussing Marian devotion), Canon Poucin ICKSP, Dom. Jonathan Rollinson (Bemont Abbey) and Dom. Christopher Greener (Douai Abbey).
John Curran, from the Scola Gregoriana of Cambridge, would like to run an extra chant workshop for those who already have some chant experience, at 2pm on Friday 25th October. If there is enough demand, he will arrange lunch, for an extra fee. If you are interested in this extra workshop, please email John direct, at:-
Please click on the link below to book onto the YCA Douai weekend (and for more details):-


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