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Letters & emails

The wrong way to seek priestly vocations

SIR – The article by Michael Warren Davis (US news analysis, June 28) concerning ordinations to the priesthood makes interesting reading. The main lesson seems to be that the best way of encouraging priestly vocations is to nurture potential vocations from a young age. No doubt the principle would apply equally well this side of the Atlantic.

It has been a widespread practice in this country in recent decades for bishops and vocations directors to do precisely the opposite. I know of many cases where young men have been advised “to come back after they have had a year or two to think about it”, or “to get some experience of the world of work first”. We would, no doubt, have many more priests now if these men had been given more encouragement.

There is another consideration not discussed in the article, but nonetheless relevant. By most reports, the average priest ordained in recent years is much more sympathetic to the Latin Mass than his older confrères. This trend would suggest that vocations directors would do well to give extra encouragement to young men who are sympathetic to the Latin Mass. Indeed, the ideal target is young men who are tradition-friendly.

Paul Waddington
Hemingbrough, Yorkshire

The procession that moved me to tears

SIR – I write in strong support of Fr John Zuhlsdorf’s article (Omnium Gatherum, June 21). In September 2018, I had the honour and privilege of helping to carry the canopy, which protected the Blessed Sacrament, during the Eucharistic Procession around the streets of Liverpool at the Eucharistic Congress.

People of all ages and entire families knelt on the pavements, in heavy rain, to adore the Blessed Sacrament as it passed them. I was at the same time moved to tears and highly elated to be part of such a momentous and holy event.

The last National Eucharistic Congress to be held in England was in 1908. We must do this much more often. Perhaps an annual, National Eucharistic Procession could be held, rotating around the dioceses of England and Wales. This would be preceded by High Mass and followed by Benediction. We need to be more proactive in sharing our faith with our communities.

John Noone
Worsley, Greater Manchester

Newman’s trailblazers

SIR – It has been the thrill of a lifetime for this 91-year-old to learn that on Sunday, October 13 Blessed John Henry Newman will be canonised. While thanking God that I have lived to receive that great news, I wish that Mgr Dr H Francis Davis and Fr Gregory Winterton, Cong Orat were still alive to see their efforts bear fruit.

Both of those English priests played key roles in placing the focus on Newman’s personal holiness, and not just on his academic achievements. It is holiness that merits canonisation.

As long ago as 1945 Dr Davis wrote a remarkable essay on, “The Catholicism of Cardinal Newman”, in which he wrote: “He must never be thought of as a great religious thinker who happened to become a Catholic. Still less was he a man of letters who was interested in theology. The whole of Newman’s intellectual life was saturated with Catholicism … It almost seemed that for him God’s ways were easier to understand than man’s, and that the mystery of man’s darkness was greater than the mystery of God’s light.”

Dr Davis sought to restore the focus that existed at the time of Newman’s death on his heroic charity. Newman’s concern for the poor of Birmingham, when he was Provost of the Birmingham Oratory, is well known. But he was aware of a more radical poverty in society, which he spoke of in a lecture in Dublin on “the Idea of a University”: “The world is content with setting right the surface of things. The Church aims at regenerating the very depths of the heart.”

Dr Davis became the first vice-postulator of the Cause, and was vice-rector at Oscott College when Gregory Winterton was a student there for the Birmingham archdiocese. Perhaps it was due to the lectures on Newman that Dr Davis gave the students that caused Gregory to become an Oratorian, and in time to follow in Newman’s footsteps as Provost of the Birmingham Oratory.

In founding the Friends of Cardinal Newman in 1976, “to assist the vice-postulator in collecting evidence of devotion to Newman for the furtherance of the Cause”, Fr Gregory Winterton played a vital role in putting the Cause for Newman’s canonisation into “top gear”.

The Church owes a considerable debt of gratitude to those two men who dedicated much of their priestly lives to bringing to our attention the light that Cardinal Newman can throw on our lives.

Fr Michael G Murphy
Cork, Ireland

A Factory Feast

SIR – I remember being taken as a small child in the 1940s to the Factory Feast at Spa Lane Mills in Derby (Letter of the Week, June 28). It was always held on or about the feast of Corpus Christi, in those days still on a Thursday and therefore a working day. It involved Solemn Benediction and a big feast afterwards given to all the workers, Catholic or not. The rest of the day was free from work.

The managing director was Alan Turner (1902-1965). The web page from the Derbyshire Records Office writes: “His approach to running the business, in a way that incorporated both organised worship and a concern for the welfare of workers, led to his being knighted in 1956 by Pope Pius XII.”

His other consuming interest was the performing arts and putting on both operas and plays in London and Derby. On these occasions the factory workers often made up the chorus – and presumably were paid extra.

It would be fascinating to be able to read and see the two albums of writings and photographs relating to Alan Turner’s faith and his ideas of “the Christian factory”. Unfortunately these are not online, thoughthey are available to view in the Derbyshire Records Office.

Sister Elaine Cope OSC
Swaffham, Norfolk

Spectacular actions

SIR – The Rev Dr Peter Phillips (Letter, June 28) decries the posture of the priest in your June 7 photograph, saying that “a priest extends his hands ‘at about the height and width of the shoulder’ ”, rather than using the extravagant gesture in the image.

However, I believe that the picture depicts the gesture accompanying the prayer Veni Sanctificator omnipotens (“Come O thou Sanctifier”) at the Offertory, where the accompanying rubric states “Erectus expandit manus, easque in altum porrectas iungens” (“Standing upright, he extends his hands, raises them and joins them …”).

It is one of the most spectacular of the manual actions of the Mass, and I’m very happy that its explicit inclusion in the liturgy of the ordinariates has enabled me to experience it in English as well as in Latin (and to provide the English translation here).

Andrew Leach
Eastbourne, East Sussex