Friday, 30 June 2006

Glimpses of Family Life

Letters From a Young Catholic today has a lovely article on her visit to see her god-daghter and her family: Glimpses of Family Life. Especially touching is the description of the Father leading his three older children in their night prayers.

Nanny state

The Telegraph today has an article Family life faces State 'invasion' giving news of the proposed national database to track all 12 million children in England and Wales. The database, intended to help prevent child abuse, will check such things as whether they are eating five portions of fruit and vegetables and whether their parents are providing a "positive role model".

corruptissima re publica plurimae leges
Tacitus, Annales 3.27

(ICEL translation: "When the state really stinks you get more laws")

Operation Rescue buys abortion clinic

The Cafeteria Is Closed has just posted an article on how Operation Rescue has bought up an abortion clinic. The abortion provider was behind with the rent, the building had been put up for sale, and Operation Rescue snapped it up for a new HQ and a memorial to the unborn.

Troy Newman, OR's president said
We want this building to be a testament to the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. If Jesus can redeem a building, he can redeem lives and heal hurting hearts.
(WARNING: The description in the linked article of what Operation Rescue found when they took possession of the building is rather grisly and may be upsetting for some people.)


The Wikipedia is one of those simple and yet enormously successful ideas (like the world wide web itself). The English Wikipedia, begun in 2001, currently has 1,223,328 articles. A recent study by Nature found that it had only slightly more errors than the Encyclopaedia Brittanica in articles relating to the natural sciences.

Anyone can edit articles in the Wikipedia. The worldwide collaborative effort is a model of what can be achieved without regulation. The article About Wikipedia is a good place to find out more.

Yesterday, I was looking at various articles about the Wikipedia itself and other "wikis" with a view to using the model for some collaborative editing. In the course of my browsing, I was amused and delighted to find that there is a Latin Vicipaedia. If you've finished today's crossword puzzle and Sudoku, and feel in need something more challenging, try the article on string theory in Latin: Theoria Chordarum.

Tacitus on the Roman Martyrs

For the feast of the Protomartyrs of the See of Rome, we should once again read the account by Tacitus. He is speaking of the fire of Rome for which Nero was widely blamed by the populace.
Sed non ope humana, non largitionibus principis aut deum placamentis decedebat infamia, quin iussum incendium crederetur. ergo abolendo rumori Nero subdidit reos et quaesitissimis poenis adfecit, quos per flagitia invisos vulgus Chrestianos appellabat. auctor nominis eius Christus Tibero imperitante per procuratorem Pontium Pilatum supplicio adfectus erat; repressaque in praesens exitiablilis superstitio rursum erumpebat, non modo per Iudaeam, originem eius mali, sed per urbem etiam, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque. igitur primum correpti qui fatebantur, deinde indicio eorum multitudo ingens haud proinde in crimine incendii quam odio humani generis convicti sunt. et pereuntibus addita ludibria, ut ferarum tergis contecti laniatu canum interirent aut crucibus adfixi [aut flammandi atque], ubi defecisset dies, in usu[m] nocturni luminis urerentur. hortos suos ei spectaculo Nero obtulerat, et circense ludicrum edebat, habitu aurigae permixtus plebi vel curriculo insistens. unde quamquam adversus sontes et novissima exempla meritos miseratio oriebatur, tamquam non utilitate publica, sed in saevitiam unius absumerentur.
Tacitus Annales 15.44

But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man's cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Translation by Church and Brodribb (1946)
I remember Philip Egan chuckling over Tacitus' characteristic aside. He speaks of the Christian "superstition" reaching even Rome and then adds gratuitously, quo cuncta undique atrocia aut pudenda confluunt celebranturque (where all atrocious or shameful things from everywhere come together and are celebrated)

Thursday, 29 June 2006

‘Finding Christ, Finding Life’ Art Exhibition

This today from the Radiant Light e-newsletter:
'FINDING CHRIST, FINDING LIFE’: an exhibition of new and rarely seen pictures by Elizabeth Wang, is being displayed in London at the French Church, Leicester Square, London between July 1st and September 24th 2006. Eighteen large-scale prints of original paintings are displayed, together with the artist's written meditations.The pictures should inspire and encourage those searching for a deeper faith. They illustrate in striking images important themes about Christ and relationship with Him, such as: the love of God, the Incarnation, repentance, the Sacraments, the Scriptures, the Church, love of our neighbour, and prayer.

Entrance is free. The church will be open every day from 9:30am to 7:30pm. Visitors are welcome to attend Mass, which is celebrated in English (Mon-Fri, 12:15pm and 6pm ), and in French (Sat 6pm and 11:30am ). The exhibition is closed during services. The French Church ('Notre Dame de France') is at 5 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX, U.K., just off Leicester Square, between Haagen Dazs and Starbucks, 3 minutes walk from Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Sq stations. The church is near the Prince Charles Cinema.

Finding Christ: A Time of Prayer and Reflection
Saturday Sept 9th 2006. To go with the exhibition theme, there will be an afternoon of prayer at the French church on Saturday September 9th 2006, starting at 2pm (until 3:30pm); directions are above. This will include short talks by Mgr. Keith Barltrop (Director of 'CASE'), Sr. Amadeus Bulger CJ, and the artist Elizabeth Wang. All are welcome, no tickets are required.

Wednesday, 28 June 2006


When I was studying in Rome in the early 1980s, I attended every class that was on offer from Fr Reginald Foster OCD. Originally from Milwaukee, his lifetime passion is the Latin Language and he was the best teacher of anything that I ever had the good fortune to study under. Reggie is an eccentric character who expresses himself strongly in English and even more strongly in Latin. He works for the Secretariat of State producing official documents in Latin and, famously, doing things like writing the script for the ATM at the Vatican Bank.

Theologically, he is something of a liberal and he has no great enthusiasm for Mass in Latin except with his students when he also preaches in Latin. However, he could be scathing about the moral standards of seminarians and could not abide any insensitive display of ecclesiastical grandeur. He was known to shake his fist in the street if a Monsignore passed by in what he thought was too luxurious a car.

His retort to the charge that Latin is too difficult for people to learn nowadays was that "every prostitute and street-vendor in Rome knew Latin". However, he is scathing about any attempt to "get the general sense", demonstrating with simple examples that "either you know it or you don't". On one occasion, a student from the NAC was not sure what a particular word was doing in the sentence and opined that it was just floating. The reply was "NOTHING floats in Latin". In sum, he opined sagely, "You can't learn Latin with your thumb in your mouth and your mind in neutral."

To say he was indiscreet about his work would be an understatement. He expressed himself freely and vigorously on the style (and sometimes the content) of Pope John Paul's encyclicals. One one occasion, he was telephoned by the curator of public works of the Vatican. They had been cleaning the obelisk in St Peter's Square and had found an inscription "P.F.C." on it. The curator asked him if he could look up some reference works and see if he could find what the initials stood for. Without hesitating, he said "Well it just might be your job - Publicae Fabricae Curator - and slammed the phone down.

A pet hate of his was the revision of the hymns of the Breviary. The hymn for Advent which used to begin Creator Alme Siderum reads, in the new version, Conditor Alme Siderum (traditional English version begins "Dear maker of the starry skies"). He got us to look up in the dictionary the two verbs condo-ere (to create) and condio-ire (to spice or pickle). The derivatives of these (both spelt "conditor") would have a short and a long "i" respectively. He then sang "Conditor alme siderum" according to the usual tone for the hymn (it obviously has a long "i") and said "So now we have to sing 'Dear pickler of the starry skies'".

His classes were divided into the first to fifth "experiences" of the Latin Language. The "second experience" was conversational Latin in which he used examples from the plays of Terence and Plautus as well as some of Cicero's letters. While three of us were sitting in the garden of the English College in Rome on a hot afternoon in June, a student dived into the swimming tank with a loud splash. Reggie immediately cried out "Quis urinatus est?", urinor meaning "to dive".

My memories of those great days of sanity and relief from the tedium of the Greg include a trip round the 12 obelisks of Rome, reading the inscriptions and learning the history of their various journeys; a visit to the Museum of Roman Civilisation at EUR where all the exhibits are casts - but some of originals that were destroyed during the war; and a visit to the Capitol and the Forum. Actually, after 4 hours, we only got as far as the top of the Clivus Capitolinus, reading through pages and pages of Livy, Cicero, Tacitus and others.

I usually visit Rome once or twice a year and try to call in on him when I am there. He is easy to find - 20 years on, same time, same aula, similar enthusiastic students. I usually reel off some verse or saying that I learnt by heart then and never forgot. One time, a young American seminarian looked in awe and said "Was he one of your students all that time ago? Are you going to give him a test?" With a dismissive wave of the hand his mildly contemptuous respose was "Nah, he just stands there and recites it on his own."

He has a regular 5 minute slot on Vatican Radio in which he is interviewed by Veronica Scarisbrick who has a clipped English accent and totally straight manner which is a foil to his irreverent comments in gravelly American. Here is an archive of the programmes.

I'm also delighted to see a page Learn Latin with Reginald Foster attempting to give some of his material online. It isn't the same - you have to be there to get it but it would be great nostalgia for any other alumni. The page also has a good collection of links to Latin resources.

A profoundly grateful hat tip to the American Papist for these links.

If you are studying with Reggie in Rome at the moment, tell him Timotheus Reginaldo salutem plurimam dicat, optatque illum semper bene valere. Make the most of your time learning Latin with him - you will be grateful all your life. Here's a verse from Ovid to take to class. I bet he starts joining in before you've got halfway through the first line.
Dum vires annique sinunt, tolerate labores;
Iam veniet tacito curva senecta pede.

Another Southwark Priest blogger

Fr John Boyle has started a blog - South Ashford Priest. Now linked and blogrolled.

Mass for Year 1

It is the turn of Year 1 at Our Lady of the Rosary for their Mass in the school Hall. The school is 10 minutes walk for me but it probably takes about half an hour to walk 60 children over so we only have the school Masses in the Church occasionally.

The altar was designed by the children and look very dignified. We have a proper Mass kit at the school and a plain but tasteful Marian chasuble. The parents are invited to come to the Mass and there is a good turnout - mainly mums but a couple of dads and a few grandparents are able to come as well.

Today, as it is the month of June, the theme for the Mass is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These children are aged 5-6 so I just talk to them about how our Lord loves us and always listens to our prayers. I ask them if Mummy is ever busy with something important and cannot listen to them. Lots of them nod in recognition. Then I ask them if they sometimes don't listen to Mummy. No nods this time from the children but quite a lot from the mothers. So I tell them that Jesus is always listening to us when we pray so we must try to think about our prayers and also sometimes talk to him in our own words. I explain how they can do this during the Mass which then continues.

The readings are kept fairly simple. This meets the norms of the Directory for Children's Masses but frankly that is not difficult. I translate the texts myself to keep them simple, rather than doing a "chinese whispers" type of adapted translation that can end up way off the inspired text. The children compose the Bidding Prayers in class and the offertory procession includes something extra related to the Mass. Today they brought up a lovely crucifix from their classroom as a reminder of the love of Jesus for us.

The teachers prepare the children really well for Mass and there is always a devout and prayerful atmosphere. Our Lord favoured the prayers of children so I take them very seriously when I ask for their intercession.

Burial of Ashes

With so much on my mind over the past few days, I make the mistake that every priest dreads. I go to the wrong cemetery. The attendant and gravedigger at Sidcup Cemetery are quietly ambling through, checking the headstones (they sometimes fall over) and there is no recognition that I should be there. It dawns on me that the service is at Falconwood. Fortunately this is only about 10 minutes drive away so I am only a couple of minutes. I was relieved to find the family are milling around chatting rather than angrily looking at their watches.

The service for the burial of ashes is quite informal and we have two poems read out as well as the prayer for blessing the grave and the other committal prayers. Please say a prayer for Terri Schartau.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Hello World

300 visitors today. Not sure what brought that on but the referrers list has quite a lot coming from Fr Stephanos who gave me one of his CLICK HERE FOR IT links on Sunday. Average is now 144 visitors per day - 1011 this week. Page views since April 11,613. (Blimey!)

The one I have been waiting for is that there are dots in all five continents on the World Map plot of the last 100 visitors. That's nice. There had to be a day when all that learning to program "Hello World" finally had a point :-)

Change of tune

I'm a bit behind with this news which is now plastered all over the blogosphere but must register my own delight at Pope Benedict's speech at the end of the concert given by Domenico Bartolucci in the Sistine Chapel in which he said:
All of the selections we have listened to – and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel – agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the ‘Roman school’, constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.
Sandro Magister has a good comment piece this week on it called A Change of Tune in the Vatican – And Not Only in the Secretariat of State in which he analyses Pope Benedict's decition to reinstate Bartolucci as director of the Sistine Choir.

Apparently the grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, said it was "better to have guitars on the altar and rock and roll Masses than empty churches". To which a chorus of responses has pointed out that the two have not proved mutually exclusive.

Monday, 26 June 2006

Fr Stephanos highlights a bad translation

Fr Stephanos over at Me Monk. Me Meander. has been kind enough to do a graphic display relating to my comment on my "favourite" bad translation in the old ICEL.

Another important defect in the old ICEL was in the prayer Supra quae in the Roman Canon. The Latin text reads:
Supra quae propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui iusti Abel, et sacrificium Patriarchae nostri Abrahae, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
This was rendered accurately by Hillaire Belloc as:
Which deign to regard with a propitious and serene countenance, and to hold acceptable as You held acceptable the gifts of Your just servant Abel, and the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham, and that which Your High Priest Melchisedech offered You, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.
The old ICEL translates it as:
Look with favour on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.
The serene and propitious countenance (or "serene and kindly gaze") is reduced to "Look with favour" and Melchisedek is denied the "high" of high priest. The most glaring error, however, is that the words "sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam" are simply not included in the translation.

The addition of these words to the canon is found as early as the Gelasian Sacramentary. The Liber Pontificalis ascribed the phrase to Pope Leo the Great; Duchesne argued that it was directed against the Manichees who denied the holiness of matter and therefore of any material sacrifice. Presumably the new ICEL will restore these words so that the people are allowed to hear the prayer as it was provided in the Roman Rite for centuries and preserved in the Missal of Paul VI.

Altar ad orientem at Oristano

Fr Jim Tucker reports that Cardinal Ruini and Bishop Fisichella recently came from Rome to consecrate the new bishop of Oristano. There is an interesting comment on the Cattolici Romani Forum which is a text from Professore Fr Gianluca Arca explaining the changes in the Cathedral in relation to the post-Conciliar reforms, very much along the lines of Cardinal Ratzinger's writing and the recent speeches of Archbishop Ranjith, secretary of the CDW.
L’arcivescovo di Oristano, coadiuvato, si immagina, dal Capitolo metropolitano, si è reso promotore di una decisione importante, interprete acuta della ricerca di spiritualità e frutto di una riflessione profonda: ha voluto levato dal presbiterio della Cattedrale l’altare provvisorio coram populo, frutto di una tendenza successiva al Concilio Vaticano II e non legata alle maturazioni di esso. La scelta di un altare aggiunto volto al popolo, che si è imposta per anni, dopo la riforma liturgica, la quale pure non la rende un obbligo, è da sempre poco espressiva del senso più pieno della celebrazione eucaristica, perchè impedisce la percezione della grande forza dinamica della liturgia, rinserrando in un circolo che si autocelebra le tensioni ascendenti significate dal volgersi ad Oriente, simbolicamente il Cielo ed evangelicamente la direzione da cui il Figlio dell’uomo tornerà a manifestarsi a quanti lo attendono.
See the full text here

Southwark Vocations Blog

Fr Stephen Langridge today sent me news of the Southwark Vocations Blog. If you, or anyone you know, is interested in finding out more about the Catholic Priesthood, you can email Fr Stephen. There are many events arranged by the Southwark Vocations Team, including no-obligation events for young men just wanting to find out more. See also the Southwark Vocations website.

Miss Louisa Staunton RIP

This story was sent to me today by the Good Counsel Network.

Miss Louisa Staunton, a deceased benefactor of The Good Counsel Network, saved a lot of time and money as well as saving a lot of lives by her generous response to an appeal for housing.

Louisa originally came to The Good Counsel Network, a Catholic Pro-Life organisation, to attend the Counsellor Training Course we run. One day when attending one of the sessions, she overheard one of us phoning around trying to find accommodation for a woman who was turned around outside an abortion clinic and who wanted to keep her baby, but could not go home as her boyfriend had threatened both her and her baby. Louisa immediately said, “she can stay with me!”.

Without regard for her own safety or comfort, Louisa took this lady home with her and there began her new work of looking after vulnerable expectant mums. Louisa turned her whole house over to us, having as many as 3 members of our staff/volunteers living with her at any time as well as up to 4 mothers-to-be. She hated to accept any money from the mothers who stayed with her and was regarded as a grandmotherly figure by them all. The last Friday before she died, I brought another girl to stay with Louisa. “Mary” had spent the previous night sleeping on various London buses, after being made homeless by her employer because of her pregnancy. We had tried to find her a place wherever we could and Louisa was the first to say yes, even though there were already 4 other women staying with her. When we arrived she made Mary very welcome and cheered her up no end by her friendliness. The last time I saw Louisa conscious she was blowing bubbles in the living room to entertain Mary. “Its Our Lady’s house” she told us as we thanked her for taking Mary in.

Louisa went to bed that night but could not be woken in the morning. She was taken to hospital where she remained unconscious until Monday. Doctors found she had had bleeding around the brain during Friday night. On Monday a Priest came to the hospital to say Mass in her room. The gospel that day was the cure of the woman with a haemorrhage. Louisa died immediately after the Mass, having never regained consciousness.

During her life Louisa worked as a nurse, later a psychiatric nurse and also an assistant to the blind. She was involved in many Catholic organisations, especially the Legion of Mary. Even at the age of 75, she did the shopping for many ill and housebound neighbours and was known well by all who lived near her. She gave away anything that was asked of her to others, including on one occasion where she gave her car to a family she had just
met whose car had broken down!

Lousia was involved in the Justice and Peace movement throughout her life and regarded justice and peace for the unborn as a priority. She had supported various pro-life causes over the years and while working with us she housed over 20 mothers and many babies, who may not otherwise have come into the world.

She did not confine herself to providing a roof for these girls but really loved them and took and interest in their lives. From serving ice cream to them at midnight to helping them repair their relationships with their families, she was always there for them. The more difficult the girl, the more she loved.

She was a special friend to the lonely and depressed. She loved Our Lord and had a strong devotion to Our Lady, particularly Our Lady of Good Counsel and Our Lady of All Nations.

Louisa had spent a long period of her life wanting to become a religious sister. Speaking at her funeral, one of her brothers pointed out that although she had not been able to achieve this she made her world a kind of convent where she could serve God through prayer and through her actions to those around her.

Through a strange series of events she was buried wearing a Carmelite habit and was buried on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
May God rest your soul Louisa, our great pro-life friend and sister in Christ.

Please pray for the repose of her soul, and also ask her prayers for your intentions.
“Then the king will say to those at his right hand. ‘Come, O Blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”. Matt 25 v34-36
Due to the generosity of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, we have been allowed to continue housing pregnant women at Louisa’s house.

Holy Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Louisa on the second anniversary of her death, 5th July at 7.30pm in the Carmelite Convent, St. Charles Square, London, W10 6EA

The Good Counsel Network

Sunday, 25 June 2006

Lesnes Abbey Blessed Sacrament Procession

Despite England playing Ecuador in the World Cup, there was a commendable turnout for the Blessed Sacrament Procession for Bexley and Greenwich deaneries. Fr Michael Scanlon, parish priest of St Peter's, Woolwich, and new Dean of Greenwich has the honour of carrying the Blessed Sacrament. My job of being MC now seems to be taking on a permanent air. That suits me as I enjoy trying to make the ceremonies as dignified as possible.

The procession is impressive as we wind our way around the gardens next to the Abbey ruins, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and singing various popular chants. The participants are of all ages - lots of babies, first communion children, teenagers, and older parishioners. Each parish has at least one banner.

Fr Michael Branch, the new parish priest of St Patrick's Plumstead is the preacher and his sermon reminds everyone of the importance of the doctrine of the real presence as well as the missionary dimension of today's procession.

We had a full coach from Blackfen as well as many people going in their own cars. I felt a bit sorry for the young coach driver who had to miss the first half of the football.

Bexley Civic Parade and Service

Bexley Borough Council today held its Civic Parade and Civic Service. As chaplain to the new Mayor, Cllr Brian Bexkwith, I took part in these events which I have never experienced before - obviously I could not normally come to such things on a Sunday morning. Being part of the official party means that I get to ride in the Mayor's limousine over to the Civic Offices where tea and biscuits are laid on. The biscuits are the subject of wisecracks all day because apparently a local paper has run a "shock horror" story accusing the Council of spending too much on hospitality.

The pre-parade tea is an opportunity to meet Colin Tandy, the Deputy Mayor; Ian Clement, the new leader of the Council; the Chief Executive; and the two local MPs, David Evenett and Derek Conway. We are fortunate to have two solidly pro-life MPs who have an excellent voting record in all the pro-life divisions. There is also the Colonel of the local Signals Regiment at Bexleyheath (and various other bits scattered around London). As usual with the modern British Army, the history of the present regiment is somewhat complex but it has a link with the old yeomanry regiments who were basically local people who turned up with their horses to fight Napoleon. Although the Colonel is a part of the TA, he is on 6 hours notice. If the bad guys set off a dirty bomb in central London it will be his lot who will set up the secure communications when the army is called in.

The parade marched through Bexleyheath to Christ Church, a Victorian gothic Anglican Church. Included were the British Legion, the RAF cadets, the Boys Brigade, and various uniformed groups from the scouting and guiding movement. The service was well put together. The hymns included All things Bright and Beautiful, Jerusalem and Onward Christian Soldiers: a sensible choice for such an occasion and they were all sung with gusto. Rev Dick Johnson made a very good job of interviewing various young people who were volunteering in various ways and working on their Duke of Edinburgh awards. I then had to preach.

I spoke about how a society needs people to participate if it is to function properly, how we can take for granted the vision and enterprise that has to be put in for something like our roads to be built or our bins to be emptied. (Actually I referred to our recycling bins taking the bottles and cardboard to be used again - I surprise myself sometimes with how much in tune I am with modern thinking.) I encouraged the youngsters there to be active citizens, and then spoke of how we respected every human person made to the image of God. I finished by saying a bit about how Christ would help us and we must not be afraid of him - quoting Pope Benedict. To be honest, I was not all that happy with it. I found it difficult to guess what would be the right note to hit. But I am at least very well accustomed to talking to young people so aimed the whole thing at them, using my prepared text as a framework. The Mayor and others were all kind and complimentary so that was a relief.

The National Anthem at the end was sung with representatives of all the uniformed groups lowering their flags. It was very impressive and the whole occasion had a genuine note of people wanting to work together for the good of the community, and seeking decent values. It got me wondering what it would be like if the Catholic Church were the established Church and we had the flag bearers kneeling and lowering the flags at the Consecration of the Mass.

After the service, there was another procession back to the Civic Offices where we stood on the podium for the Mayor to take the salute. The British Legion contingent had the best shout for "Eyeeeees RIGHT!" but I'm afraid I couldn't help thinking of Stephen Fry in the opening sequence for Blackadder.

There is a whole support staff for the Mayor with its own network. The mace-bearer, Steve is obviously very experienced and competent. The driver (who also kindly chauffered me back in the Mayoral Limo) is, I think, leaving Bexley to be the mace-bearer at Westminster Council. They are excellent guys who obviously take a pride in their job and do it well.

Saturday, 24 June 2006

Congratulations Paul and Rhianne

Congratulations to Paul Meredith and Rhianne Trill who were married today at Our Lady of the Rosary.

May the Lord bring you many happy years of life together.

History and ICEL

In the Philadelphia Catholic Standard and Times, Cardinal Rigali has given an interview about the new ICEL translations. The article quotes him:
However, no one ever claimed the translations were perfect or as good as they should be, because they were done under great pressure,” Cardinal Rigali said. “It could have taken decades [to do this work] because of the amount of text [but it did not].
This is an understandably conciliatory approach to the introduction of the new ICEL translation and I accept that it may be helpful in encouraging some opponents of the translation.

However, in truth, it ignores the English National Liturgical Commissoin (NLC) translation which is still a legitimate translation for use in England. It is sometimes referred to as the "Wheeler Missal" and some of us lovingly preserve dog-eared copies of it.

The NLC is a good, workable, accurate translation. The new ICEL could have saved a lot of time by just adapting it. The NLC was produced before the ICEL translation so the "great pressure" argument does not hold water. The truth is that the old ICEL translation was driven by certain theological positions which played down the sacred by using everyday terminology instead of sacral language, resulting in a text that was much less accurate than the NLC.

Friday, 23 June 2006

US amendments to ICEL

Gerald Augustinus at The Cafeteria is Closed has a very useful post on the US Amendments to the new translation of the Mass. Most of them are quite harmless but it does annoy me that they want to change "Pray, Father, your blessing", a quite reasonable translation of Iube Domne Benedicere to "May I have your blessing, Father."

The great thing is to look at these snippets of the new translation and reflect on how people will at last be given the opportunity to listen to the prayers of the Church. As is their right.

Sacred Heart ever relevant

Sorry to use such a word as "relevant" on this blog but the feast of the Sacred Heart cries out for it. St Margaret Mary received her visions providentially at a time of widespread Jansenism. The flowering of the devotion did encourage people to receive Holy Communion without fear of the "unrelenting judge". Pope Pius IX made the feast universal in 1856 and then Pope Leo XIII consecrated the whole world to the Sacred Heart, speaking of that act as the most important of his Pontificate. Both Pius XI (Miserentissimus Redemptor) and Pius XII (Haurietis Aquas) wrote about the Sacred Heart and Pope John Paul applied the understanding of the devotion to the present day in his sermon at the canonisation of St Claude de la Colombière, the spiritual director of St Margaret Mary.

This year on 23 May, Pope Benedict wrote to Fr Hans Peter Kolvenbach, the superior general of the Jesuits for the 50th anniversary of Haurietis Aquas. The Jesuits were notable advocates of the devotion to the Sacred Heart and fiercely opposed by the Jansenists who considered the devotion too liberal.

Back in the 17th century, St Margaret Mary heard our Lord say
Behold the Heart that has so loved men . . . instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude...
This seems as true today as it was then except that blasphemy (Jerry Springer the Opera etc.) is added to ingratitude.

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Feast of St John Fisher

St John Fisher is the patron of the secondary school I went to. It is still called "The John Fisher School" because it was founded before the canonisation in 1935. Fr Nesbitt told us stories of St John Fisher when we were boys at the school and he has remained my favourite English martyr - and probably my favourite of all the saints.

There are not many biographies of him - most of them are now out of print but Michael Davies wrote a new one shortly before he died. He told me that he did not intend to write anything original, just to provide a biography that people could access.

One of the most famous speeches of St John Fisher is (courtesy of Women for Faith and Family) his reply to Bishops Stokesley, Gardiner and Tunstal, sent to the Tower by Thomas Cromwell to persuade him to submit to King Henry VIII:
Me thinketh it had bene rather our partes to sticke together in repressinge these violent and vnlawfull intrusions and iniuries dayly offred to our common mother, the holy Church of Christ, then by any manner of perswasions to helpe or sett forward the same. And we ought rather to seeke by all meanes the temporall distruccion of the so ravenous woolves, that daily goe about wyrryinge and devowringe euerlastinglie, the flocke that Christ committed to our Charge, and the flocke that himself dyed for, then to suffer them thus to range abroade. But (alas) seeing we do it not, ye see in what perril the Christen State nowe standeth: We are beseeged on all sides, and can hardly escape the daunger of our enemie: And seeing that iudgment is begone at the howse of God, what hope is there lefte (if we fall) that the rest shall stande! The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therfore seeing the matter is thus begunne, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I feare we be not the men that shall see the ende of the miserie. Wherfore seeing I am an ould man and looke not longe to live, I minde not by the help of God to trooble my conscience in pleasing the king this waie whatsoeuer become of me, but rather here to spend out the remnant of my old daies in prayinge to God for him.
Pope Paul III made John Fisher a cardinal while he was in prison in the Tower of London. The Pope hoped that Henry VIII would be deterred from executing a Cardinal. The gesture had the reverse effect. Henry famously said
Let the Pope send him a hat when he will, but I shall provide that whensoever it commeth, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head he shall have none to set it on.
When Pope John Paul wanted to give a speech to the Cardinals reminding them that the cardinalatial red signified a readiness to die for the faith, there was only one Cardinal martyr that he could refer to.

Bertone announcement

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has been appointed Secretary of State to succeed Cardinal Sodano who will retire from office on 15 September.

The Times heads up its article Pope promotes 'hardliner' in reshuffle of his top team. You can get a spin-free account from Catholic World News.

Cardinal Bertone called the Da Vinci Code a "sackful of heretical lies". In the picture above, he illustrates one of the non-heretical silly mistakes. He is standing by one of what Dan Brown calls "unostentatious and unmarked" Vatican cars (the SCV number plate is a bit of a giveaway.)

Confessions at the junior school

"OLOR" is Our Lady of the Rosary School, our lovely school for children aged 4-11. Each term, Fr Hartley (parish priest of St John Fisher, Bexley) and I go in to provide an opportunity for all the children who have made their first confession to receive the sacrament. So in the summer term, we have 4 year groups - 8 classes. As well as the graces that the children receive, I believe that humanly speaking too, it is a good idea because all the children are treated as important individuals in their own right. Today, it is the turn of a Year 6 class so they are shortly to leave and will be starting in their new secondary schools in September.

At the Governors' meeting in the evening, we hear that the school fete last Saturday raised £11,000 for the school. The fete is always a most enjoyable social occasion when many parents of former pupils come along. The Parents' Association did a wonderful job in organising it all.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Our deceased children and young people

Tonight we have a Mass to commemorate our children and young people in the parish who have died. This is my sermon for the occasion. If you have lost a child, know that we are praying for you also tonight.

We commemorate today all those children and young people we know who died in their youth. As we remember them, we can be tempted to remember the anguish, the horror of seeing them taken from us through accident or illness. As a priest, their funerals have been for me the most difficult acts of my priestly ministry. With a full Church of people crying with the psalmist “Why O God do you stay afar off?” it is terrifying to stand as the representative of God and try to bring some crumb of consolation or meaning to such an occasion.

Just as a physical wound cannot leave the body in torment indefinitely, so with a spiritual and emotional wound, the pain does not go away but remains a dull ache, sometimes flaring up into unbearable hurt. We need each other at such times, to share the suffering, to lighten each others’ spirits. And that is why today’s Mass is such a good idea and I want to make sure that we have such an occasion every year. Don’t let me forget!

We must remember that this Church, where we celebrated those awful funerals, is also a room in the home of each of us. We must not allow it simply to be a reminder of sorrow but also a reminder of our solidarity. Here, we have the support of others who do really understand because they have shared the same sadness. Here, we remember our beloved children not only being commended to the Lord but also receiving their first communion, being confirmed, growing up in our community.

And most importantly of all, it is here that we are closest to our departed children and young people. As we gather to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the Church teaches us that the court of heaven also gathers because Jesus Christ is here. That court of heaven includes the holy angels who are our guardians, praying for us unceasingly. It includes the saints of God – including St Aloysius whose feast day it is today.

St Aloysius was from the royal family in Spain. He renounced his title to join the new “Society of Jesus” which had recently been founded by St Ignatius and would later be called the Jesuits. As a young man, he worked tirelessly with those afflicted with the plague. Eventually, he caught the disease and died at the age of 23. In his illness, he wrote to his mother
May the comfort and grace of the Holy Spirit be yours for ever, most honoured lady. Your letter found me lingering still in this region of the dead, but now I must rouse myself to make my way on to heaven at last, and to praise God for ever in the land of the living; indeed I had hoped that before this time my journey there would have been over. If charity, as Saint Paul says, means "to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who are glad," then, dearest mother, you shall rejoice exceedingly that God in his grace and his love for you is showing me the path to true happiness, and assuring me that I shall never lose him.

Take care above all things, most honoured lady, not to insult God's boundless loving kindness; you would certainly do this if you mourned as dead one living face to face with God, one whose prayers can bring you in your troubles more powerful aid than they ever could on earth. And our parting will not be for long; we shall see each other again in heaven; we shall be united with our Saviour; there we shall praise him with heart and soul, sing of his mercies for ever, and enjoy eternal happiness.
As well as St Aloysius, the patron of teenagers, the communion of the Church gathered with us at the offering of the Holy Mass includes also the children and young people. They are closer to us here at the Mass than at any other time. If they are already in heaven, they are rejoicing in the presence of Christ whom they see not under the appearances of bread and wine but face to face in all his glory and majesty. Enraptured by his presence, their desire and prayer is for all of us to join them in their happiness.

And if they are in that time of purification which we call purgatory, they are still blissful because they are sure of their place in heaven. They undergo joyfully any preparation which was left incomplete here on earth for the full possession of eternal joy in heaven. And more than that, they rejoice in our prayers which console them, assist them and contribute to their happiness. They are not lost to us, they are in some ways closer to us than they have ever been.

In the Church, we must turn our eyes to heaven. In Holy Communion, we have a foretaste of that heaven. Whenever we receive our Lord, let us try to receive him knowing that we do so in union with all the holy souls and with the whole communion of saints in heaven – including our beloved children and young people.

Exam fever

Spent much of the day today in St Bakhita's, the refectory at St Luke's. Students were, by and large, chilling out after their exams. It was good to hear that the Theology paper seemed to have the right questions on it! One student said it was like standing in front of an open goal and having the ball lobbed gently at your feet. That's good to hear. We're hoping for some great results this summer.

I took today's issue of Private Eye in with me in case everyone was more focussed on post-exam relief than talking any serious stuff. But I didn't get to read too much of it because several people took the opportunity to sit down and have a chat. Must do this more often.

Visiting St Luke's College

Several students have engaged in dialogue on this blog regarding various issues at St Luke's. The suggestion I made that it might be a good idea to meet up seemed to be welcome. So I will be in the College from late morning (11.15-11.30am) today (Wednesday 21st) and would be very glad to meet any students informally either individually or in a group. I'll be around St Bakhita's or in the Library. If I'm anywhere else, I'll try and remember to let the Office know so that you can find me. I hope your exams have gone / are going well.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

England: dramatic draw - Yeeeeess!

The BBC website reports:
England will play Ecuador in the last 16 of the World Cup after securing a dramatic draw with Sweden to top Group B.
Since Germany have beaten Ecuador, this means that England will be playing Ecuador on Sunday afternoon. This is very good news for Paul Meredith and Rhianne Trill who are to be married here on Saturday afternoon. Had England lost, they would have been playing Germany during the best man's speech.

For our Blessed Sacrament procession on Sunday afternoon, the bad news is that some people will stay away to watch the football. The good news is that there is zero chance of the procession being disrupted by hooligans.

The world cup oddschecker from the Sporting Life gives the following as of now for the outright winner:
Brazil : 11/4
Argentina : 4/1
England : 7/1
Germany : 8/1
Spain: 9/1

Learning from Catholics in Africa

The New Liturgical Movement has interesting news of a Congress to Promote the Liturgy in Africa and Madagascar. The congress is to be opened by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith who was recently appointed by Pope Benedict as secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. This looks to be very much a part of the Holy Father's strategy for renewal. As the tired no-cost, no-challenge Catholicism of the West peters out and parishes are closed, the packed, confident and vibrant churches of Africa will show us the way forward.

Peter's Pence online

You can now make online donations to Peter's Pence. It was the Anglo-Saxons who started this custom: just another indication of what a terrible devastation the Reformation brought to England. Peter's Pence today contributes to the support of the Holy See and its charitable works, especially to poor dioceses, religious institutes and missions throughout the world.

Very silly video

Two American seminarians engage in a light-sabre battle. You can also get it via google video or download the mov file. Here is the dedicated page.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Carthusians and Confirmation

Today, I had my fortnightly opportunity to visit Parkminster. We were working through the theology Sacrament of Confirmation, covering the later Fathers, looking briefly at the contributions of the medieval theologians and then spending some time on the reformation controversies as they bore on the sacrament, before going on to look at the matter, form, and (most importantly) the effects of the sacrament.

Speaking of Confirmation, St Thomas used the military metaphor made popular by St Faustus of Riez (and even more popular by the medieval belief that this was included in teh false decretals and ascribed to Pope Melchiades).
The sacrament by which spiritual strength (robur) is conferred upon the regenerate constitutes him in a certain way as a fighter for the faith of Christ. And because fighters under any prince bear his insignia, those who receive the sacrament of confirmation, are signed with the sign of Christ. […] Those who receive this sacrament are in a certain way enrolled in a spiritual army.
(Summa Contra Gentiles 4.60)
St Thomas applied this especially to the duty of defending the faith under persecution. Following the teaching of the second Vatican Council's decree on the Lay Apostolate, whch itself drew from the lay movements of the 20th century, more emphasis has been laid on the idea of this mission and apostolate deriving from the sacrament of Confirmation. This is helpful because not everyone is going to be called to defend the faith in times of persecution but everyone is called in one way or another to share in the mission of the Church.

A thought occured to me, sitting in the classroom at Parkminster. The Carthusians at the time of Henry VIII were peacefully going about their daily life and prayer. When they were suddenly called to witness to the faith through martyrdom, they accepted this with serenity and heroism. The grace of the sacrament of Confirmation came into play in the most stark manner.

After the lecture I always stay for Vespers. We are back to the time after Pentecost and the ordinary round of psalms and antiphons with which - for Monday Vespers - I am now familiar. There is a proper responsory for St Romuald, who the Roman Breviary says, "sought solitude and founded small monasteries".

Waiting for me as I leave is a bottle of the Carthusians apple wine. It is sometimes referred to as "Cider" but at 10% abv it is much safer to think of it (and drink it) as wine.

CIEL Conference

Fr Michael Lang from the London Oratory, sends the following notice about the forthcoming CIEL Colloquium at Oxford. The line-up of speakers is very impressive and it is great that Cardinal Hoyos is coming to the conference.

Planning is well underway for the 11th International CIEL Colloquium which will take place in MERTON COLLEGE, OXFORD, from Wednesday 13th to Saturday 16th SEPTEMBER 2006.

The Colloquium will take place in the presence of His Eminence Dario CARDINAL CASTRILLON HOYOS who, as well as attending the talks, will celebrate the closing Pontifical High Mass on Saturday in Merton Chapel.


Papers will study the various Rites existing in Europe until the II Vatican Council reforms, and the spiritual influences of these liturgies. There will also be papers upon the place of music in the development and practice of the liturgies.

The speakers are as follows: Professor Eamon Duffy (Cambridge); Professor Lauren Pristas (USA); Professor László Dobszay (Hungary); Fr. Michael Lang of the Oratory; Rev. Dr. Alcuin Reid (London); Abbé Frank Quoëx (Sorbonne and Geneva); Fr. Joseph Santos (Portugal and USA), Don Nicola Bux (Italy); Dr. Christina Dondi (Oxford); Rainer Hilkenbach (Germany); Dr. Sheridan Gilley (Durham); Abbé Claude Barthe (Paris); Rev Dr. Laurence Hemming (Heythrop, London). CIEL is very grateful to all these eminent speakers for agreeing to participate.

The Conferences, held in the Examination Schools and the Sheldonian Theatre, are presented within the framework of daily sung MASS in the Rite of 1962, and the offices of LAUDS, VESPERS and COMPLINE in the glorious 13th Century chapel of the Merton College. People may attend either as resident delegates for the three days, staying in Merton College with full board accommodation, or as day delegates for a modest conference fee.

The Delegates and Speakers will gather for luncheon and dinner in the mediæval Hall of the College, providing a good opportunity to discuss the day’s proceedings, and make new friends.

There will also be recreational time for visiting Oxford and we have arranged specialised tours of the Colleges for delegates.

Full details and booking forms are available on the CIEL Website.

The costs of organising the Colloquium are considerable, and should you wish to make a contribution, either for the running cost or to support the priests and seminarians who could not afford to come. Please send contributions, made payable to “CIEL UK” to: CIEL UK, COLLOQUIUM FUND, P O Box 500, ROCHESTER, KENT ME1 1WU

It you would like to help with organisation at the conference, please email the organiser. Holy Mass will be offered at the Colloquium for the intentions of all who give help in any way.

Please put these dates in your Diary, and pray for the success of this Apostolate.

Sunday, 18 June 2006

The Dissenting Enigma Machine

The Dumb Ox reports that Dissenting Enigma Machine was discovered by the Cardinal Newman Society. The machine is used by dissenting groups to code their public statements. An example is:
Original coded Message:
“The Church hierarchy are obsessed with sex and genital issues”

Same message after decoding by the D-Enigma machine:
“I hate Humane Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and Theology of the Body.”
Plenty of other funnies on this blog (e.g. the post on the five new bishops.)

Pope Benedict on Corpus Christi processions

Fr Nicholas Schofield over at the Roman Miscellany has a report on today's Blessed Sacrament Procession organised by four parishes in North London. Brother Lawrence has some photos of the procession held at Blackfriars, Cambridge on the feast day itself. We will be having our Blessed Sacrament Procession next Sunday for the Deaneries of Bexley and Greenwich. If you are in the area, it starts at 3pm at the ruins of the old Lesnes Abbey in Abbey Wood. The photo here shows part of the Blackfen contingent at last year's procession.

Today at the Angelus, Pope Benedict had something to say about the custom. As ever, it is thought-provoking and insightful, offering an original slant.

The Eucharist has a cosmic value: the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ constitutes the principle of divinization of creation itself. That is why the feast of Corpus Domini is characterized particularly by the tradition of carrying the Most Blessed Sacrament in procession, an act that is rich in significance.

By carrying the Sacrament in the streets and in the squares, we wish to immerse the Bread that descended from heaven in the daily routine of our life. We want Jesus to walk where we walk, to live where we live.

On this day the Christian community proclaims that the Eucharist is for everyone - it is life itself, the spring of life which conquers death. From our communion with Christ the Eucharist, comes that love which transforms our existence and supports our journey towards our heavenly Home.
(Translation by Teresa Benedetta of the Papa Ratzinger Forum.)

Opus Dei jokes

Apparently these have been circulating among "members and associates":

Q: Do members of Opus Dei use the cilice?
A: That question really rubs me the wrong way!

Q: Do members of Opus Dei really use a "discipline"?
A: Beats me.

See the full article at the Los Angeles Times. (Hat tip to Built on a Rock.)

Saturday, 17 June 2006

A Saturday in the parish

Mass at 10.30am where we celebrated the sacrament of anointing for Bridget Ewing, the parish secretary, first communion and RCIA catechist - and much more. Please remember her in your prayers. Adoration and confessions until midday. Time for a quick bite of lunch and then finish the newsletter, sermon etc. Then off to the Our Lady of the Rosary School Summer Fete which is a roaring success under the customary blazing sunshine. Other schools ring up the Headmaster to find out when to arrange their summer fete - we never seem to have rain.

Evening Confessions and Mass are followed by a dash over to St Thomas More in Dulwich to give my talk to debunk the Da Vinci Code. That seems to go well - lots of kind comments afterwards. Fr John O'Connor, the parish priest, comes over to see how it is going and then invites myself, Joe (of Joee Blogs), who organised the talk, and his dad, over the road to Le Moulin. He is well-known there and they are happy to serve us something suitably light for the end of a balmy Saturday.

Friday, 16 June 2006

Corpus Christi Procession


Pictures of Pope Benedict XVI

Some fantastic pictures and collages of our beloved Holy Father in the Papa Ratzinger Forum.

New translation news

The Associated Press has reported that the US Conference of Bishops has approved the new ICEL translation by 173 votes to 79. Gerald Augustinus at The Cafeteria is Closed has a number of posts today on the subject so you can get the details there.

It seems that the US Bishops, particularly the one the yanks keep calling Bishop Trautperson, have changed some of the texts, for example removing the reference to "soul" in "only say the word and my soul shall be healed". Let's hope that the CDW overrule these changes. At least we will now have a "precious chalice" instead of a cup.

Of course, there will be efforts to delay the use of the new translation as long as possible. I wonder why some of these Bishops cannot see that the people have been denied the riches of the Church's liturgical prayers and have a right to them. Bishop Arthur Roche told the US Bishops
"The version of Mass that we currently use is clearly far from perfect."
Well some of us have been saying that for over 30 years. Any historic apologies in the offing? No, I don't suppose so either.

If you want, you can vote in the American Papist's poll on the new translations.

Living a Catholic life with SSA

Eve Tushnet's post The Roses and Raptures of Virtue might be helpful for anyone who is trying to live a good life while coping with same sex attraction. I don't pretend to understand this stuff very well but she seems genuinely balanced and moderate. Don't think I agree with all she says but Catholic gays reading this blog might find agree with her take on the issue.

(Another hat tip to Fr Jim Tucker.)

Man who cracked the genome finds God

Francis Collins, the director of hte US National Human Genome Research Institute speaks about the rational basis for belief in God. He says:
When you make a breakthrough it is a moment of scientific exhilaration because you have been on this search and seem to have found it,” he said. “But it is also a moment where I at least feel closeness to the creator in the sense of having now perceived something that no human knew before but God knew all along.
Fr Stephen Dingley who did a doctorate in Astrophysics at Cambridge and now teaches theology at Wonersh made a good point in the discussion of "intelligent design" theory at the last Faith Winter Conference. He argued that the "intelligent design" school was ultimately arguing for a God of the Gaps and that we should not be saying "I cannot explain this, therefore God exists" but "I can explain this - therefore God exists".

Article in the Sunday Times I’ve found God, says man who cracked the genome. Hat tip to Fr Jim Tucker of Dappled Things.

Oxford Conference on Theology of the Body

A Short Course on the Theology of the Body, to be taught by Jonathan Rowland in Oxford next month, 23-26 July (timed to coincide with the end of school term). Please write to Stratford Caldecott if you might be interested in attending this course. Click the image for a full-size copy of the flyer.

There are some bursaries available for students who would like to go but could not afford the student fee of £150. Day attendance without accommodation is £40 for students, including meals. (Please note that you have to register in advance.)

Patricia Malcolm RIP

Please remember Patricia Malcolm in your prayers, as well as her husband Keith, and her children, Nancy and Scott. Patricia was 44 and died after a long battle with cancer. She was a learning support assistant at Kidbrooke school and the Headteacher there has gone out of her way to arrange for colleagues and children to attend the funeral on Monday at 10.30am at Our Lady of the Rosary.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Vocations video from Canada

Vocations Video

From the Seminary of Christ the King in British Columbia.

JP Catholic University promo video

John Paul the Great Catholic University

Specialising in business and media, "JP Catholic" opens this September.

Everything old is new again

"Video for the Orthodox"

Made by Ma Beck of the Ward Wide Web. This made my day.

Abortion spend £282K: Hospital to be closed to save £240K

MP Laurence Robertson has pointed out that the Gloucestershire NHS Trust spent £281,861 last year on providing abortions but is proposing to close a hospital to save £240,000.
Abortion money is being spent illegally, claims MP | - Health

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Janet Smith talks

There are some excellent talks by Janet Smith on Humanae Vitae, the culture of life and death, the family, homosexuality, NFP, reproductive technology, conscience etc. at My Catholic Faith Resources

(Biretta tip to American Papist.)

Google pro-lifely is a search engine powered by Google that generates money for pro-life organisations. You don't have to do anything except use it and the website generates money for pro-life organisations. You can register if you wish but you don't have to.

Make it your default search page.

Biretta tip to Fr Stephanos. you can find further information at his post.

Morning after pill - Governors' responsibilities

In many schools, Governors are complicit in the provision of the MAP to children under 16. The MAP is know to have serious adverse side effects. On 6 June, Mr Amess MP asked the Secretary of State for Education and Skills about liability in cases where such adverse side effects harm children.

The answer from Beverley Hughes makes clear that the Nurse and Primary Health Care Trust are those responsible. However, she also states:
School governors are responsible for ensuring that the school has consulted parents on the nature and scope of any health services available in the school; and ensuring that a protocol exists with the PCT/Trust that makes clear which services will be delivered by PCT/trust staff working on the school site.
This has obvious implications for Catholic schools whose Governors should make quite clear that School Nurses do not provide the abortifacient (and dangerous) Morning After Pill in Catholic schools.

From Hansard for 6 June 2006.

Blair evades question on abortion

On Monday, Mr Amess MP asked the Prime Minister how many (a) letters and (b) postcards he has received from (i) members of the public, (ii) hon. Members and (iii) Members of the House of Lords about abortion, and how many and what percentage (A) support and (B) oppose abortion; and if he will make a statement.

Recent visitor to Pope Benedict XVI, Prime Minister Tony Blair's weaselly answer:
Since 1 January 2006 my office has received appropriately 6,000 representations about this issue. Given the volume of correspondence I receive, thousands of letters each week covering a broad spectrum of issues, my office records letters by subject rather than by the view expressed.
From Hansard for 12 June 2006.

SPUC links to Hansard

SPUC, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, has added two very useful pages to its website.

The first is a frequently updated archive of life-related content in Hansard.

The second is a page of links to of parliamentary answers - again specifically related to pro-life matters.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Post Box Ceremony

While blogging about Lourdes and the tedious multilingual repetitions of Bidding Prayers etc., I made a reference to the Monty Python sketch for the inauguration of a postbox. I just discovered today that somebody has posted the scripts for all the Monty Python sketches ona website. Here's the Post Box Ceremony.

Of course, this gets me reading some of the other sketches. Never seen the Court Scene Multiple Murder but I do remember the Crunchy Frog one.

More on dress at Mass

The post on 3/4 length shorts has generated quite a lot of interest and comment. DilexitPrior has followed up with something from a parish in her own British Columbia On How we Dress for Mass.

Kellie & Rob - belated photo

Congratulations again to Kellie and Rob who were married at St Mary's Chislehurst last Friday.

(In the background is a rare photo of Mulier Fortis who sang the Ave Maria at the wedding.)

Parallel Church universe

Gerald Augustinus has a post called Spaceship or cathedral? referring to the Cathedral "Christ the Light" which is currently being built in Oakland. He quotes the description of the Cathedral where "all the children of light can gather around the altar-table in a communion of love" and observes:
Of all the unbearable terms of liberal church speak, I probably loathe "gather" the most - the hymnal by that name costs a lot of gas money - driving to escape it.
He justly compares the new cathedral to the ghastly Liverpool Cathedral. Archbishop Worlock used to point out that this was separated from the Anglican Cathedral by Hope Street. We were all supposed to smile sagely at this evocative coincidence. Now that the Anglicans have decided to ordain women bishops, perhaps it should be renamed "Not-a-Bat's-Chance-in-Hell Street".

Pope Benedict's pro-life prayer intention

Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for June is
That Christian families may lovingly welcome every child who comes into existence and surround the sick and the aged, who need care and assistance, with affection.
Speaking recently to the John Paul Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, he said:
Marriage and the family are rooted in the innermost core of the truth about man and his destiny. Sacred Scripture reveals that the vocation to love is part of that authentic image of God that the Creator willed to imprint in his creature, calling man to become similar to him precisely in the measure in which man is open to love. The sexual difference entailed in the body of man and woman is not, therefore, a simple biological fact, but bears a much more profound meaning: It expresses that way of love with which man and woman become only one flesh; they can realize an authentic communion of persons open to the transmission of life and cooperate in this way with God in the procreation of new human beings.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Chicago Cardinal on the hermeneutic of continuity

Not this blog but the concept behind the title. Cardinal George of Chicago has a column in Catholic New World, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago in which he asks "Will the real Vatican II please stand up?" Much of his analysis is taken from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia in which the Holy Father spoke of two ways of interpreting Vatican II. One was the hermeneutic (principle of interpretation) of discontinuity and rupture. As Cardinal George says:
It is as if the Church after the Council was a new, a different Church from all that had gone before. Where the texts of the Council did not support this interpretation, they were put aside in the name of the “spirit” of the Council.
Speaking of the other interpretation, the hermeneutic of continuity and reform, the Cardinal quotes the Holy Father's words:
The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes.

(Hat tip to the New Liturgical Movement.)

Mass at the Fitzgeralds'

I visited Simon and Margaret Mary Fitzgerald today to celebrate Mass for a group that meets at their house each week. Mass is celebrated in the traditional Roman rite with permission of the Bishop. There are confessions and Rosary before Mass, devout preparation and thanksgiving, followed by tea and sandwiches and the exchange of news and views on current issues in the Church. It is great to catch up with Tom Van der Linden, Daphne McLeod, and Ruth and Michael Real.

People decorate their houses in various ways - who am I to judge? Simon and Margaret Mary decorate theirs with statues of the saints. I remembered to take my camera today so just a few snaps - there are dozens of smaller statues too - have you seen a statue of St John Berchmans or St Benedict Joseph Labre anywhere else? (Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.)

Our Lady and the Child Jesus in the front garden

St Joseph and St Francis welcome you at the front door

St Francis hiding in the back garden

St Anthony and St Vincent de Paul see you in the front door

Our Lady and various ikons help you to prepare for Mass

St John Eudes reminds you how to have devotion to Our Lord and his Blessed Mother

The Pietà in the conservatory reminds you of the sacrifice of Christ

The altar prepared for Mass

Our Lady watches over the celebration of Mass

That last statue of Our Lady gives me ideas for our statue in the Church. It is rather plain but has a lot of devotion invested in it. I'm sure the sacristy team would love to get some lace and damask and decorate it for the various seasons of the year - and go overboard for the major Marian feasts.

The Ironic Catholic on wedding music

The Ironic Catholic has St Cecila reply to a letter written to the Communion of Saints entitled Why Can't I Play A Shakira Song At My Wedding Mass?

(Also - have a go at the Catholic Haiku contest.)

Gesture of benevolence to SSPX expected

Shaun Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement, posts an interesting account of a recent interview with Cardinal Ricard.

In the interview with Apcom, the Cardinal, who is a member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, suggested that Pope Benedict wished to make a gesture of benevolence towards the Society of St Pius X in order to show that the door is not closed. Cardinal Ricard is of the opinion that the gesture will not happen before the July chapter of the SSPX at which the Society will decide whether Mgr Fellay is confirmed (re-elected) as the superior.

Many would then hope for a gesture of benevolence from the SSPX in order to continue the process of cooling hostility between the society and the Vatican with a possible way forward for a solution of the problem.

Bertone rumour solidifies

The Italian daily Il Giornale has reported that
Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, will be Benedict XVI’s new Secretary of State. Sources at the Vatican said this was "90% sure" and that the announcement could be made on June 29, feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
As we found with the moves of Cardinals Sepe and Dias, the Italian press do seem to be quite good at this sort of thing. (Hat tip to Amy Wellborn. See her full post here.)

"It's not abortion they view as disturbing, but pictures thereof"

Here's Gerald Augustinus' take on the Ted Atkinson case. The Cafeteria Is Closed: It's not abortion they view as disturbing, but pictures thereof

Catriona Millar

Proud parents, Greg and Edel Millar, have just sent me some photos of their newly-baptised daughter. She was baptised according to the traditional roman rite of Baptism. Here is a picture of Fr Rupert McHardy of the London Oratory during the ceremony. The stole is still purple and I think that is an oil stock in his hand, so this would be the part where, having carried out the various exorcisms, he now about to anoint Catriona with the oil of catechumens.

And here's me holding Catriona who is now a sanctifying grace-filled Christian, child of God and member of the Church. The baptismal gown is rather special. It is a family heirloom and has ribbons attached for each baby that has been baptised in it - red for the boys, pink for the girls.

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Everything happening at the Oratory

The Reception after the Mass at St John's Wood for Jamie & Joanna's 25th was at the St Wilfrid's Hall at the London Oratory. It was really good to see so many old friends. Joanna was originally Nash. Her brother, Andrew, was at school in the same year as my brother Gerry (RIP 1979). Ursula, Joanna's mother, used to do all the work of sending out the Faith Magazine and running the subscriptions. She also came every week to help the boys make tea and toast after the Faith Group meetings. Joanna herself go involved in politics and was, at one time, the youngest woman councillor in the country.

Andrew was Chairman of the Faith Society at the John Fisher school (I had that honour a couple of years after him). This was run by Fr Roger Nesbitt who taught Chemistry at the school. He was also there yesterday. There was also Paul Marsden whom I haven't seen in years, and Dr Philip Howard with Mary his wife. They were in the year above Andrew. Andrew married Dora Craven whom he met in Cambridge. I remember a barge holiday with them and others including Stephen Langridge who is now parish priest of the Holy Ghost Balham. The picture to the right shows 4 generations of the Nash family - including young Hugo (Edmund and Fiorella's son) for whom this is now the third appearance on this blog.

Greg and Aghi Clovis know Joanna and Jamie through their pro-life and pro-family work. They are pictured left with Fr Chris Basden, parish priest of Clapham Park. Another great pro-lifer I met yesterday was Veronica Hodges who has been very supportive of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life.

The subdeacon for the Mass was Fr Michael Cullinan whom I first met at Oxford in the late 70s. He was a year ahead of me - and a Balliol man. He has just done what must be his third doctorate - this time on the ethics of St Paul.

Now these (and many others) are all gathered in St Wilfrid's Hall. Downstairs, there just happens to be another crowd of people from the London Faith in Focus group who have been at the Baptism of Catriona Millar, new daughter to Greg and Adele.

(Oh and by the way, Bruce Forsyth's daughter was getting married or something, not sure. Bagpiper and cameras outside. Don't think I knew any of those people.)

The sermon I would have given

For the 25th anniversary of the wedding of Jamie and Joanna Bogle:

Caritas Christi diffusa est in cordibus nostris (The Love of Christ is poured out in our hearts.). In the name of the Father...

During my lifetime, the divine institution of Christian Marriage has changed within society from being something that most people took for granted to being something that is now counter-cultural. Some truths of our faith that it would not have occurred to us to have to defend now need to be explained and defended. For example, the most basic fact of human creation “in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”. Now there is an increasing pressure to see our maleness or femaleness as contingent, something that can be changed at will.

Pope John Paul of beloved memory reflected on the mystery of human creation and our maleness and femaleness over several years in his General Audience addresses. We may well applaud the intention of Pope Benedict to unfold this providential teaching so much needed in our world today.

Here, at the celebration of 25 years of marriage of my good friends Jamie and Joanna, we make before God and underlying everything that we do today, a solemn affirmation of the goodness of our created nature male and female, in the Church and in society. Christian marriage today more than ever can be seen as a concerned not only with the happiness of the couple but also with the very foundation of our society. Therefore, on your behalf, I wish not only to congratulate Jamie and Joanna but also to thank them for being married.

I was a server at their wedding. I was training for the priesthood at the time so boy, did I know how to serve Mass! After the entrance of the bride, the bridegroom was still in his place in the bench rather than having moved to the chair placed for him next to the Bride. As a hardened middle-aged parish priest, I now know that this is an easy and common mistake for Bridegrooms to make. They are so geared up to be on their best behaviour that they figure it is better not to move unless directed. As a seminarian, of course, I knew the perfect way to correct matters. With hands correctly joined, I bowed to Jamie and discreetly whispered “If you want to get married, you had better join your Bride.” Well, of course he did and we are all here today, 25 years older and wiser – maybe.

As I have grown more familiar with the traditional Roman rite, I have found many useful ways in which the new rite can be enhanced. One of these is at a wedding where there is a somewhat bland introduction with the rubric that the priest should use “these or similar words”. Taking my permission from this, I read the instruction for couples from the old pocket ritual. It is an excellent summary of the theology of marriage with language befitting an occasion that all the relatives and friends know is supremely significant. So, I tell them:
Here today, before the altar, in the presence not only of your relatives and friends but of the angels of God and the whole court of heaven, your two lives are to be united in a bond that will endure as long as life shall last.
I do call upon those Holy Angels today to visit, protect, keep and defend you in your marriage and in all your work.

The instruction carries on with a paragraph which always raises a smile and shows the Church’s realistic approach to human affairs:
Have no fears but rather great confidence. Fulfil your religious duties, your prayer, your reception of the Sacraments. Learn to love each other, but also to understand each other, sometimes to put up with each other.
The “sometimes” is a gentle and optimistic reminder for the young couple. Couples who have been married 25 years might well substitute “often put up with each other.”

But the phrase that is most important in my view is “learn to love each other”. The received view seems to suggest that a couple must be “in love” and as compatible as possible and therefore carry on in their marriage like a cricket ball hit from the crease – if there is enough momentum, it will go for four. If not, then sadly, we have to think again.

But the Christian view of love in marriage is one of constant learning and willing. Love is something that you do, not something that happens to you. Christian love is also something that has the effect of making the world a better place. Joanna and Jamie have shown their love and support for each other in the different apostolates that they have engaged in to the benefit of the Church and of very many people.
Another piece of wisdom from the marriage instruction is:
Keep a place for Our Lord in your home. Where he is, there is no room for the evil things that can destroy your happiness and drive God’s grace away.
We believe in the reality of evil and that Satan does indeed hate good Christian marriages. He will do what he can to destroy your happiness and certainly to undermine the life of grace. So we pray today that Our Blessed Lord will continue to be in your home. I would also add as the instruction does,
Ask his holy Mother and St Joseph that they may be with you as well. Model your lives and your home upon theirs; and may their prayers obtain for you many years of happy life together.
Certainly, I am sure that I would echo the wishes of everyone here today if I pray: may the Lord grant them many years – and even more years. Ad multos annos, plurimosque annos, vivant!
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