Friday, 18 April 2014

Wa Habibi.....

....My Beloved

Pray for all Christians persecuted for their Faith, especially those in Syria and all parts of the Middle East

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Withdrawing for Holy Week

I shall not be blogging now until after Easter Sunday.

I wish you all a holy and joyful Easter.

Christ in the tomb - Church of The Sacred Heart, Morriston, Swansea

Mass on Easter Sunday at 3pm at The Sacred Heart

Saturday, 12 April 2014

What's a church for?

There is only one presentation that should take place here
Photo: Fr Julian Large

Silly question. Or, is it?

The Anglican Church has long been active in arranging all sorts of activities in their churches.

Flower Shows, Painting Exhibitions, Festivals of every shape and size and.....choral or musical recitals.

I hold hard to the view that churches, at least, Catholic ones, should be used for the worship of Almighty God.

Laughable isn't it?  Fancy going to church to go down on your knees and pray for forgiveness....we all know that no one actually sins any more. Hmm.

I recall the late Stella Hook telling me of her experience in Westminster Cathedral back in the 1980s.
She had called in precisely to go down on her knees and spend a few minutes with the Lord but, lo, she arrived to find the main aisle covered in flower petals.

The Cathedral was having a Flower Festival!

Stella was never one to mince words and so, when she found the late Cardinal Basil Hume standing at her elbow she turned to him and said: "You have turned God's house into a florist's shop"

The Cardinal's response is not on record.

But, it seems, that the concept of having a show of some kind is catching on more and more in Catholic parishes.

Arundel Cathedral has a famous flower festival and LMS Chairman reports on a recent recital of Ian Wilson's 'Stations' that took place in St George's Catholic Cathedral in Southwark.

It matters not to me that the aim or content of a performance is religious in context, I just dislike the thought of an audience sitting down to watch and listen when the prime purpose of the building is for the celebration of Holy Mass, the EF Mass, that is.

When the audience members wander in to take their pew seats do they bow to the tabernacle (assuming that they can see it)? This is, of course, presuming that the Blessed Sacrament was not present.

I suspect not.

Do they then speak in hushed tones both before and after the performance? Again, I think it highly unlikely.

Now I do appreciate that this cements the fact that I am a curmudgeon of the lowest order, but, so be it.

In fact, I have taken to wearing a 'curmudgeon' sign around my neck.
 All I need now is a bell to ring as I make my way through the townships.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Palm Sunday - a Mass for you!

Irish pilgrims en route to Chartres (Photo: Irish Pilgrimage Blog)

In Menevia we have a group of people who have come together, under the guidance of the priest whom Bishop Burns has appointed as Co-ordinator for the EF Mass, to aid the development of the Latin Mass in the Diocese.

The group is known as The Confraternity of the Holy Cross and, some months ago, the members of this group set about raising funds to support our young people so that they could join the Chartres 2014 Pilgrimage.

We raised money, thanks to many of you, and we also sold many Latin Mass mugs for the cause.

And, if you were not one of the donors, then, I am sure that you will have remembered our cause in your prayers and for that we are profoundly grateful.

So, this Sunday's Latin Mass in Menevia will be offered up in thanksgiving for your generosity and for your personal intentions.

It will take place at The Church of the Sacred Heart, Morriston, Near Swansea at 3pm and The Newcastle Emlyn Schola will be there in full voice.

You may be pleased to learn that you raised a sum sufficient to send two of the Confraternity members to Chartres this year and you will be remembered in their prayers as they make their way from Notre Dame in Paris to Chartres Cathedral.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dylan Thomas and the Catholic shed

The shed where Dylan Thomas found inspiration
The link between Dylan Thomas, whose centenary year this is, and the Catholic Faith is a tenuous one.

Dylan was the antithesis of all things Catholic.

 A drunkard, a man given to excesses and a man, if I remember correctly, with non conformist roots.

But, his poetry and writings displayed a fine understanding of his fellow Welshmen and women and his style must surely have been inspired by the poetry of Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ.

Dylan did much of his writing in a shed. A shed that has been preserved today, on its original site, close to his boathouse home in Laugharne, West Wales.

And, because it is his centenary, some genius has come up with the idea of replicating the shed and putting it on a trailer and touring the country with it so that something of the character of the man may be seen and more people come to understand the inspiration that spawned such works as 'Fernhill' and 'Under Milkwood'.

A mobile shed.....or chapel?
The travelling shed is truly an inspired concept that will introduce the poet not just to his Welsh countrymen but also to the Sais (English) who are, I suspect, pretty much in ignorance regarding the man.

It occurred to me that if some enterprising Bishop (is that an oxymoron?) were to commission a small replica chapel to be constructed on the back of a trailer, and take it to the town squares and village greens, it would give many a chance to grasp something of the reverence and beauty that exists in the houses of God.

It might cause people who have never entered a church to experience something of the peace and awe that such places inspire.

It might, even, cause one or two to delve deeper into the original Faith of Wales and England and, possibly, to convert.

Can you imagine the scene?

A car towing a 'shed' pulls into a parking bay off the main town square and the rear doors are opened to reveal and altar decked out with a tabernacle, flowers and candles and a sanctuary lamp (although the Blessed Sacrament would not be present).

That's all it would take.
A simple, plain unvarnished cameo of what lies behind what, to some, are forbidding church doors.

Just one thing; it would have to be an altar a la Forme Extraordinaire.

A Novus Ordo table would not inspire anyone.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Identify this building....

.....I mean, do you think it is a water tower?

Or, maybe the entrance to a retro seventies style art gallery?

Or, is it some biological research station?

Of course, it is none of those things, the clue lies in the cross on the cream wall; it is, in fact, a church.

But, not only is this building a church, it is the National Shrine of Wales - Our Lady of Cardigan, also known as Our Lady of the Taper.


How does this compare with, say, Walsingham?

That looks, traditional (and Catholic)

Or, even, Holywell, in mid Wales.

The 'Lourdes' of Wales

No one, least of all the Bishops of Wales, seems to care one iota for their national shrine.

Of course, the cry will go up that the diocese is strapped for cash. 

OK bishop, that's the problem, now think of a solution.

Start a fighting fund to re-build a proper shrine on the banks of the River Teifi (where it historically belongs).

And find a Catholic architect who has an awareness of how early churches (tabernacles) were built in biblical times and, no, that does not mean we want a badger skin edifice in Cardigan, just one that is pleasing to the eye (and Our Lady).

Finally, spend some money, quite a bit, in fact, on commissioning Catholic artists such as James Gillick and his twin sculptor brother, Theodore.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ten points that a Bishop should be focusing on

We need more croziers and fewer crooks
I cannot think of any organisation or industry where the shareholders or members would put up with 50 years of sloppy management, lack of leadership, wrong directives and generally off beam initiatives.

Yet, we in the Catholic Church are as silent as.... as.....lambs.

Because we try to hold hard to aspects of Christ's teachings we turn the other cheek.

But, Our Lord did not say: "Look the other way".

He, I trust, would not wish us to sit on our hands while babies are aborted, our children fed the poison of the homosexual, politically correct lobby and His authority ignored or distorted.

So here, is my contribution to the basic requirements that a Bishop should demonstrate in carrying out his role:-

1. Spread the Gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ to all in his diocese - not just Catholics.

2. Recognise the authority of the Vicar of Christ and abide by his guidance and commands - that means not only the current Holy Father but his predecessors also.

3. Manage the affairs of his diocese efficiently and direct and paternally guide his priests.

4. Ensure that Catholic Schools are of a high standard and that the RE programmes are rigorous and inspiring.

5. Oppose all political or social moves that go against the Catholic understanding of Faith or Morals - that means not allowing Catholic children to be adopted or fostered by homosexuals.

6. Lead the main prayer and vigil groups opposing abortion on every possible occasion.

7. Fight to make certain that the country's seminaries are free of homosexual influence and the modernism is not allowed to dictate the admissions procedure or syllabus.

8. Visit all parishes in his diocese regularly and administer the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Orders.

9. Encourage pilgrimages and the development of any shrines in his diocese.

10. Spend a number of weeks each year acting as a parish priest in various of his parishes.

Friday, 4 April 2014

"I met the Queen of England and all I got was......

....a bottle of 12 year old malt whisky, a haunch of venison, a jar of quince jelly, some chutney, a bottle of beer, a tin of shortbread biscuits and a jar of honey"

Any suggestions for a caption?

Poor Pope Francis. Here he is trying to be humble and unworldly and, bingo, in pops the Queen accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh who immediately goes into his Greek salesman pitch appearing to ask the Holy Father how much he is prepared to pay for a bottle of the 'O be joyful'.

I can think of more appropriate gifts for the Vicar of Christ than a Co-op hamper.

Westminster Abbey would have been nice. No need to gift wrap it Your Majesty.

And,  reports indicate that Pope Francis will give the hamper to the poor of Rome. 
Enjoy! As they say rather annoyingly.

Are you armed?

I mean with a rosary?

And not just one rosary. It is a good practice to have several on hand to give away to those who are in need, Catholic or non Catholic, Christian or non Christian.

The effect of a gift of a rosary on, say, a dying person can be dramatic.

I have known of people who, with little or no faith, have been drawn closer to God as a result of receiving the gift of a rosary.

It is a symbol of mystery, it is something to wonder at.

Above all else it may be the key to Heaven's gates for them.

A group of traditional Catholics (I think, parishioners of St Bede's, Clapham Park) in their spare time stand outside London Underground stations giving away rosaries to those who, perhaps, have no faith.

They would appreciate cash or rosaries to support them in their mission.

One of them, Graham Moorhouse, publishes an online magazine called Le Tocsin.

You may subscribe (free) to the magazine HERE or, forward cash or rosaries (or just offer up a rosary or two on their behalf).

Brave souls. We need more like them.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ode to Spring

ACTA conference ahead

Oh, to be in Southwark
Now that ACTA’s there,
And if anyone’s awake in Southwark
Do they know, and do they care?
That the framework of the Church
Is in danger, in the lurch?
 And after April when May begins,
Will we lose sight of all our sins?
Will women priests and inclusivity
Drive us down towards iniquity?
Hark where the Bishops meet and gather
Do you hear the endless blather?
 In Bulinga Fen and Eccleston Square
Where magic circles have their lair
 All will be rapture in the spring
And crows warble and magpies sing
The sunlight shines and boldly glimmers
Upon the serried ranks of zimmers
The endless chattering sound of dentures
  ACTA types on their adventures.

Apologies to Robert Browning

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Always be kind to your estate workers

St David's Cathedral in the far flung corner of west Pembrokeshire, used to be a Catholic church.

No longer.

But, among the remnants of the sarcophagi desecrated by Henry VIII's men, there have sprung up some relatively new Protestant counterparts.

The most notable of these is to be found in the south east end (top right hand) corner of the cathedral.

Here is the chapel of St Edward the Confessor, dedicated to the memory of the Countess of Maidstone, daughter of one Bishop Jenkinson who died in the early 20th century.

She was, according to the present Bishop, J.Wyn-Evans, something of a harridan.

So much so that she led her estate workers a merry dance.

She was not pleasant. She was positively spiteful.

And the workers, being Welsh, took it in their stride but logged her nastiness at the back of their minds.

When the time came for the Countess to shuffle off her Protestant mortal coil, she was, according to the custom of the day, (and a bit of folding money) allocated the tiny chapel of St Edward to rest her mortal remains.

It was decked out in a white marble flecked with, how can I phrase this so as not to offend any maiden aunts looking in? - a sort of doggy brown.

There, does that conjure up the right image?

It is not to my taste, much as I like dogs.

It does not do to stand too near to it; it's rather like finding oneself standing rather too close to a Van Gogh (or, 'Van Go' as they say in the Colonies). Cough, cough (or, should that be 'co,co')? One feels a little bilious. A bit 'Uncle' as they would say in the East End of London.

So, after the dear woman's death, her estate workers, the stone masons among them, were commissioned to chisel out her effigy in brown flecked marble, for the sarcophagus. 
And, as was customary, the image of the dog belonging to the dead person was also carved at their feet.

 No one, it should be noted, ever had an effigy of a cat reproduced at their feet.
Let's leave it there.

So, the good old solid and patient Welsh masons went to their task stolidly and carved, out of the aforesaid, dog brown flecked marble, an image of their dear mistress, but....and it's a massive great the place of her dog's visage, they carved her face.

Bow, wow!

Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

And there it remains to this day.