Thursday, 31 March 2011

The debate that splits the Catholic Church.....

.....This debate has set father against son, daughter against mother, friends have parted company over it and it's best not to discuss it if alcohol has been taken. It has gone on for years and H/T to Bones for reminding me that it is in the news once more....... it permissible eat hot cross buns on Good Friday or not?
Does it also make you hot and cross
when these are eaten on Good Friday?

In my book it's a definite no! How can you indulge in consuming these delicious spiced buns on a day of fasting, abstinence and penance? And you cannot get away with it by arguing the case that, because they are adorned with a cross sign it is all approved by Holy Mother Church.

Yet I know many Catholics (from both ends of the spectrum) who will eat hot cross buns as part of the tradition of Good Friday. They are conning themselves, it breaks with tradition, it is wrong.

By the way, please do not think that I am being bunphobic - I have a passion for these things but save it until Holy Saturday!

The slaughter of dolphins causes outrage....but no concern for life in the womb

There is a circular letter currently being passed around the internet. It carries photographs of the annual slaughter of Calderon Dolphins by young men on the Faroe Islands. It is not a pretty sight; the sea is stained with blood as the beautiful creatures are driven into a bay of shallow water where the savage killing takes place.

Abhorrent? Yes, but human abortion is more so
 I like dolphins, I believe they are intelligent creatures who do not deserve to die in this manner in the 21st century but I also believe that many of those who are scandalised at this barbaric practice and who may sign the letter, are unconcerned about what happens in an abortuary.
I recall a tour of Japan I made some years ago. The party comprised a prominent Labour Peer, a Grandee of the Tory party, a British Captain of Industry and a Japanese entrepreneur. It was a gruelling tour and we reached Tokyo after 5 days solid speech making and political meetings.
That night, as we ate in a restaurant, tempers were frayed after being in such close confinement. I instigated a debate to liven things up and to get the group together again. We debated the rights and wrongs of abortion and I suffered a heavy defeat. They argued that it was the right of the individual to choose; I was shouted down.
All agreed that it had been a rallying occasion and so I suggested another debate. The evening was quite early and they had enjoyed their victory so I suggested that we discuss fox hunting. By now they had got the bit between their teeth and they went for me hammer and tongs (I was in favour and they were vociferously anti). They argued that the dumb animal felt pain and that it was primitive for men to hunt animals in such a fashion.
Again, the vote came down 4 to 1 in their favour and they settled down rather pleased with themselves. "So what" I asked: "happened to individual choice?" "What happens to a baby in the womb when a surgeon destroys its life?"

Of course, I do not condone the killing of dolphins in such a mass murder fashion but my concerns are with the unborn child. I will not sign any letter requesting that the Faroe Islanders cease their killing until all abortion clinics closed and the law makes the taking of human life a crime once more. Then I will forgo fox hunting and sign the dolphin petition!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The sort of trade unions I like!

One of the many casualties of the Reformation in Great Britain were the Guilds of Craftsmen.

These guilds existed for every occupation in just about every English and Welsh parish prior to Henry VIII's rampage against the Catholic Faith. They were a form of security, professional companionship and a vehicle to support the pious elements that existed as part of the guild structure.

Blacksmiths, weavers, metalworkers, foresters, ropemakers, think of a craft and there would be a guild in a given town or village comprising of a few good men who enjoyed feasting, fasting and the faith and who pooled their resources to their common temporal and spiritual good.

When a guild was formed the first action would be to elect a patron saint; the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady were among the most popular and then, of course, saints would be selected often according to their own occupations. So St Peter might be the guild patron for fishermen and St Hubert the patron of huntsmen.

In effect, the guild provided a framework of welfare and pastoral needs to its members. Those who fell on hard times would receive a small allowance, a widow of a member might receive financial aid or a member dying away from his home village would have the benefit of a delegation of members travelling to collect the body at their expense. There was always the strength and support of members should one of them require aid.

In a spiritual sense the guild provided money for a candle to be constantly lit before the image of their patron saint, a pledge for all members to attend the Requiem Mass of one of their own and prayers for the souls of members were a daily practice.
The feasting was an integral part that flowed from the spiritual. A Blessed Sacrament Guild would, on the feast of Corpus Christi, attend Mass as a group, process around the town with their banners and end up with some pretty rigorous feasting in the best of British Catholic traditions.

The duties of the guilds were not restricted to members only; social events for the whole parish would be undertaken as would deeds of charity, SVP style.

Banner of St Winifrede of Wales
patron saint of the Tailors and Skinners Guild
 Some larger guilds even began to invest funds (members subscriptions) for the good of members. Livestock was purchased and hired out to members and loans were made to brothers wanting to expand their enterprise.

By the time Edward VI came to the throne, the day of the guilds were numbered and, by the end of his short reign they had disappeared never to return. O tempora O mores!

More of GKC courtesy of The Chivalrous Plan

I am indebted to The Chivalrous Plan for reminding me of Chesterton's
'The Song of the Strange Ascetic'

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have praised the purple vine,
My slaves should dig the vineyards,
And I would drink the wine.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And his slaves grow lean and grey,
That he may drink some tepid milk
Exactly twice a day.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have crowned Neaera’s curls,
And filled my life with love affairs,
My house with dancing girls;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And to lecture rooms is forced,
Where his aunts, who are not married,
Demand to be divorced.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have sent my armies forth,
And dragged behind my chariots
The Chieftains of the North.
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And he drives the dreary quill,
To lend the poor that funny cash
That makes them poorer still.

If I had been a Heathen,
I’d have piled my pyre on high,
And in a great red whirlwind
Gone roaring to the sky;
But Higgins is a Heathen,
And a richer man than I:
And they put him in an oven,
Just as if he were a pie.

Now who that runs can read it,
The riddle that I write,
Of why this poor old sinner,
Should sin without delight-
But I, I cannot read it
(Although I run and run),
Of them that do not have the faith,
And will not have the fun.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Catholic Emancipation and the feast that followed

I am sorry to impose this on you in the season of Lent but this is a feast too good to hang on to....I have to share it!

The occasion? Following the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 Sir Robert Throckmorton, a noted and prominent Catholic of Coughton Court, Warwickshire, became, in 1831, the first Catholic since the Reformation, to sign the Oath of Allegiance and to take his seat in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament.

If ever an event called for a feast it was this one. It might be worth recounting just what Catholics had to put up with since the 17th Century. We were not allowed to vote, our churches could not be built near a main road but had to be accommodated down a side street, our land ownership attracted higher taxes than our Protestant countrymen and if anyone took a fancy to our horses, they could claim them as their own and we would have to hand them over without a quibble. The horse was, of course, more vital than a car in today's world so imagine someone walking up to you today and laying hold of the keys to your beloved BMW or Fiesta. You might be more than a little miffed!

So small wonder that the Throckmorton family rejoiced at this post Emancipation progress and invited the great and the good to join with them in a feast. The dining room at Coughton accommodates around twenty people, sadly, I have no information as to whom they were.

For the trenchermen amongst you, here is the menu of the day:-

Feast to celebrate Sir Robert Throckmorton’s
appointment in 1831 as the first Catholic Member
of Parliament since the Reformation


Asparagus Soup
Oxtail Soup
Salmon with lobster sauce
Fried filleted Soles


Lamb cutlets and Cucumber
Fricandeau of Veal
Lobster Pudding
Stewed Mushrooms
Saddle of Lamb
Braised Ham
Roast Veal


Charlotte Russe
Almond Cheesecake
Gooseberry Tart
Vanilla Cream

This all has a very solid 19th Century English cooking ring about it, nothing to excite the appetite too much in modern terms but, of course, at a time when there was no artificial refrigeration, the provision of ices (and fish) must have been quite challenging.

I don't like the term 'Taliban Catholic'.....

....and neither does Michael Voris apparently.
H/T to Christine at A Catholic View.

A little known Welsh Marian shrine

The Shrine of Our Lady of Penhrys is located in The Valleys, which, as the name suggests are a series of valley villages that begin just 20 minutes or so by road from the capital city of Wales, Cardiff. Each valley has its own character and ambience and the people are tough, resilient and used to life's hard knocks (there has not been much employment in the region since the coal industry went into decline).
The history of the Shrine is taken from the website but I cannot find the link. Sorry.

Statue of Our Lady of Penrhys in Cardiff's St David's Cathedral

The beginning of devotion to Mary at Penrhys is shrouded in legend but it is certain that from Medieval times there was a Shrine to Our Lady of Penrhys that flourished for many years.
In 1179 the Cistercian monks founded an Abbey at Llantarnam, and in 1205, Llantarnam Abbey and Margam Abbey agreed on a boundary between the two monasteries, which meant that Penrhys was within the boundary of Llantarnam, some 25 miles away.  The monks built a grange there, enabling them to care for their land and sheep in the outer regions of their property.  The original complex of buildings also included a hostelry maintained by the monks for the pilgrims, and possibly a grange farm house.
Tradition has it that an image of Mary was discovered in an oak tree and, as news spread, crowds of ordinary men and women flocked from far and wide.  The statue was thought to have been immovable from the oak tree until a Shrine chapel had been erected on top of Penrhys Mountain, just above the Holy Well.  Over the well stands a small stone hut-like structure.  ‘White wine runs in the rill,’ said one poet,‘ that can kill pain and fatigue.’
During the time of the Reformation in 1538, the shrine was destroyed and the image seized under cover of darkness.  Thomas Cromwell instructed his emissaries to act ‘with quietness and secret manner as might be’ but were confronted by an ‘audience’ who we can assume had to be overawed before the image could be taken away to Chelsea and burned in the same fire as the images of Our Lady of Walsingham and Our Lady of Ipswich.  (and possibly, Our Lady of the Taper) ‘It will not be all day in burning,’ said Latimer in a letter to Cromwell.
Although the Shrine was destroyed, it is recorded by William Llewellyn, writing in 1862, that in the previous twenty years, there were accounts of people making pilgrimages to the top of Penrhys Mountain.  The Roman Catholic Archbishop Michael McGrath (1940-1961) furthered the modern popularity of the Shrine.  He was anxious to purchase the land on the top of Penrhys Mountain for the Roman Catholic Church in Wales. A statue of Our Lady of Penrhys was erected in 1953 which stands on the foundations of the former chapel. 

Prayer of Reparation to Our Lady of Penrhys

          O Most Holy Virgin and our Mother who appeared at Penrhys,
we listen with grief to the complaints of your Immaculate Heart
surrounded with a crown of thorns placed therein at every moment
by the blasphemies and ingratitude shown to you in the Middle Ages
and every year since.

We are moved to beseech you dear Queen of Penrhys because it is
our urgent desire to love you as our Mother and of promoting your devotion
restoring the special place you made here so many years ago.
We kneel to manifest the sorrow we feel for all the grievances that people
have caused you in the Middle Ages up to now.  We are willing
to atone now by our prayers and sacrifices for the offences with
which they return your love.  Obtain for them and for us the pardon
of so many sins.

Hasten the conversion of sinners that they may love Jesus and cease to
offend the Lord, already so much offended.  Turn your eyes of mercy
toward us, that we may love God with all our heart on earth
and enjoy Him forever in heaven.

Our Lady of Penrhys, Pray for us!
Our Lady of Reconciliation, Pray for us!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Lent is a good time to remember those in Purgatory

Lenten prayers may release a soul to Heaven

O gentlest Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the soul of your departed servant (name). Be not severe in your judgement, but let some drops of Your Precious Blood fall upon him/her, and send, O merciful Saviour, Your angels to conduct him/her to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.

Thanks for this prayer to Salve Regina

Still time for Archbishop Nichols to concede gracefully?

As the Cardinal Vaughan fight to retain the Catholic ethos and nature of the school rumbles on, even more big guns have signed up in support.
H/T Damian Thompson.

Lord Alton, joining the fight for the Vaughan
 The latest additions to the impressive list of patrons are Lord Alton of Liverpool, an ex teacher and a noted anti abortion campaigner and Dr Ralph Townsend, Headmaster of Winchester College and a leading Catholic.

Now is surely the time for the Archbishop to withdraw and face up to the fact that, even if Westminster Diocese wins the legal battle, the moral battle will have been won by the Vaughan Parents and Teachers. Fight the battles that you can win is a good maxim, never more appropriate than at this time.

Archbishop Nichols would not be diminished by a withdrawal; Catholics throughout England and Wales, would, I believe, give him credit for taking it on the chin.

Here is a full biographical list of those who are sticking up for the Catholic faith on the side of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School - at present, one of the best in the UK.....
 The Patrons of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group are:
He qualified as a teacher in 1972, working in socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods, teaching immigrant children and later children with special needs.  While still a student, aged 21, he was elected to Liverpool City Council and became its Housing Chairman and Deputy Leader.
Elected in 1979 to the House of Commons for a Liverpool constituency, as a Liberal, becoming the youngest member and achieving a record political swing.
He was his Party’s spokesman on Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, Overseas Development and the Environment, and served as Chief Whip, Chairman of the Party’s Policy Committee and President of the National League of Young Liberals.
In 1997 he stood down from the House of Commons, and from party politics, and was nominated by the Prime Minister, Sir John Major, to the House of Lords, where he sits as an Independent Life Peer, speaking regularly on human rights and religious liberty issues. 
Among the international awards he has received are the Michael Bell Memorial Award for Initiatives for Life, the Korean Mystery of Life Award, and the Advocates International Award for human rights work.  In 2005 he was created a Knight Commander of the Military Order of Constantine and St. George in recognition of his work for inter-faith and ecumenical dialogue. In 2008 Pope Benedict XVI created him a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in recognition of his work for human rights and religious liberty.
Professor David Crystal is one of the world's leading experts on language and linguistics. Formerly Professor of Linguistics at Reading University, he is now Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, and President of the National Literacy Association. He was educated at St Mary's College, Crosby and University College, London. He has written more than 40 books including The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, The St John Gospel and Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language, and numerous articles on the language of liturgy.
Professor Felipe Fernandez-Armesto joined the history department of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana in 2009. This is one of the leading Catholic universities in the USA and is one of the oldest, having been founded by the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1844. Professor Fernandez-Armesto teaches at its London Centre. Previously he occupied chairs at Tufts University and London University (Queen Mary's College) and before that was an Oxford don. He has had visiting appointments at many universities and research institutes in Europe and the Americas, and has honorary doctorates from La Trobe University and the Universidad de los Andes. His latest book 1492: The Year Our World Began has just been issued in paperback.
Mrs Fordyce is a former Chairman of the Governing Body of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. She is an author of a chapter on St Margaret Ward in English Catholic Heroines and is a former Wimbledon doubles finalist.
Professor Luke Gormally is the former Director and Senior Research Fellow of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, described by Bishop Anthony Fisher O.P. as "not just the premier Christian bioethics institute in Britain but one of the finest in the world, Christian or secular". It was recently renamed the Anscombe Bioethics Centre after the famous philosopher and Catholic convert, Professor Elizabeth Anscombe (Professor Gormally's late mother-in-law). From 2001-06 Professor Gormally was also Research Professor at Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great.
Mr Gormally is the highly respected former Headmaster of Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. The Secretary of State for Education, the Right Honourable Michael Gove MP, recently described Mr Gormally as being one "of the most conspicuously inspiring leaders in the field" of Catholic education.
Lord Grantley brings a wealth of campaigning experience to the VPAG. He is a former councillor for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and was a member of the House of Lords from 1995-99. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and a Director of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth. Born in 1956 and educated at Ampleforth and Oxford, Lord Grantley spent most of his professional life as a banker, retiring in 2005. He was a patron of Save Sloane Square, which in 2007 won an historic victory to prevent the Council from turning the square into a crossroads. Lord Grantley comes to us not as a parent or indeed with any involvement in the School, but as a supporter of Catholic causes who believes that the VPAG’s campaign is crucial to the future of Catholic education in England and Wales.
Born in Staffordshire in 1928, Paul Johnson was editor of the New Statesman in the 1960s and has written around 50 books including A History of Christianity (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1976), A History of the Jews (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1987), Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Restoration (St Martin's Press 1982), The Papacy (Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1997). Mr Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2006. Three of his ten grandchildren have been or are pupils at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.
Edward Leigh was born in 1950. He was educated at St. Philips School, London, the Oratory School, Berkshire, the French Lycee in London. He studied History at Durham University and was president of the Union Society. He is the younger son of Sir Neville Leigh K.C.V.O., former clerk to the Privy Council. He is married with three daughters and three sons. Mr Leigh is a barrister and a member of the Inner Temple, practising for Goldsmiths Chambers in arbitration and criminal law. Mr Leigh was a member of the Richmond Borough Council and then the greater London Council from 1974 until 1981. He was elected as a Member of Parliament for Gainsborough & Horncastle in the July 1983 General Election. In May 1997 he was elected Member of Parliament for the new Seat of Gainsborough, with a majority of 6,826. This rose to 8,071 in 2001. In 2005 his majority remained almost unchanged, at 8,003. In the most recent General Election of 2010 Edward's majority increased to 10,559. He was a member of the Social Security Select Committee and Joint Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Between 2001 and 2010 he was Chairman of the influential Public Accounts Committee - a role he relinquished after serving the maximum term. Mr Leigh's website can be found here
Lord Lexden is the title taken by Alistair Cooke, who was appointed a Conservative working peer in November 2010. He is a political historian who spent most of his career in the central organisation of the Conservative Party. A graduate of, Cambridge, he taught and researched modern British and Irish history at Queen's University, Belfast, before becoming political adviser to Airey Neave, Conservative Spokesman on Northern Ireland (1977- 1979). He was Assistant and then Deputy, Director of the Conservative Research Department from 1983 - 1987and Director of the Conservative Political Centre, the Party's educational wing from 1988-1997. He was General Secretary of the Independent Schools Council from 1997-2004 and consultant to the Conservative Research Department from 2004-2010. He has been the Conservative Party's official historian since 2009. His many other roles include President of the Northern Ireland Schools' Debating Competition. Lord Lexden's letters, usually on historical subjects, appear frequently in the national press. He has just had his 100th letter published in The Times and he holds what the Daily Telegraph believes to be the record for one person of 160 letters from one person published in that newspaper!
Colin Mawby is a distinguished English composer, organist and choral conductor.
He attended Westminster Cathedral Choir School, where he acted as assistant to George Malcolm at the organ from the age of 12. He subsequently studied at the Royal  College of Music and became Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral in 1961.  In 1976 he moved to Dublin to become choral director at  Radio Telefis Eireann and was later artistic director of the  National Chamber Choir of Ireland.  He founded the  RTE Philharmonic Choir in 1985.    He retired in 2001.
Colin Mawby is a prolific composer of music for the English Catholic liturgy, including 30 Masses; among his best known compositions are an Ave Verum Corpus for choir and a setting of Psalm 23 which won fame in the recording by Charlotte Church.
He has a long association with Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School; he composed a piece for the ordination of former Headmaster Fr. Anthony Pellegrini, and the Schola has sung many of his compositions around the world, including his Exsultate Deo which features on a Schola CD recording.
Charles Moore is a journalist and author. He was born in 1956 and educated at Eton, and Trinity College, Cambridge where he read History. He is a convert to Catholicism. He has been editor of The Spectator (1984-90), the Sunday Telegraph (1992-95) and The Daily Telegraph (1995-2003). He resigned from the last post to spend more time writing Margaret Thatcher's authorised biography, which will be published after her death. As well as writing the biography, he currently writes weeky columns in both The Daily Telegraph and The Specator and is Consulting Editor of the Telegraph Group. He is the chairman of the think tank, Policy Exchange and of the Rectory Society. He was a member of the Council of Benenden School from 2000-20009. Publications (with A.N. Wilson and G. Stamp): The Church in Crisis, 1986; co-editor: of A Tory Seer: the selected journalism of T.E. Utley, 1989.
Judith Mossman is Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham, and was formerly a Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. She was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Woldingham, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was a governor of Woldingham School from 1990-93. She is the author of two books and a number of edited volumes and articles on Euripides and Plutarch, and frequently gives talks on classical subjects to schools and summer schools. From 2005-9 she was Chair of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers (JACT) Classical Civilisation Committee.
Cristina Odone is an Italian-American Catholic author, journalist and broadcaster. Born in 1960 and educated at various schools and Oxford University, she was editor of the Catholic Herald from 1992-1996, deputy editor of The New Statesman from 1998-2004, and for six years, wrote a column for The Observer. She has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph and The Spectator. She was a regular contributor to Thought for the Day from 1995-2003, and in 2005, made a Dispatches programme for Channel 4 on "Women Bishops". She broadcasts widely, including for Question Time, the Today programme, Channel 4 News, Woman's Hour and the Jeremy Vine show and she has a regular blog at The Daily Telegraph. She is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, for whom she has written a number of pamphlets, including one on faith schools, In Bad Faith (2008) and Assisted suicide: how the chattering classes got it wrong (2010). She has also written four novels.
Professor Thomas Pink is Professor of Philosophy at King's College, London. After reading history and philosophy at Cambridge, where he obtained a PhD, and working for four years in London and New York for a City merchant bank, he returned to philosophy in 1990 as a Research Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He then lectured at Sheffield University prior to moving to King's in 1996. He is the author of Free Will: A Very Short Introduction, and other works, and an editor of London Studies in the History of Philosophy.
Piers Paul Read is a novelist and playwright, born in 1941, was educated at Ampleforth College and St John's College, Cambridge. He was Artist in Residence at the Ford Foundation in Berlin (1963-4), Harkness Fellow, Commonwealth Fund, New York (1967-8), a member of the Council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (1971-5), a member of the Literature Panel at the Arts Council, (1975-7), and Adjunct Professor of Writing, Columbia University, New York (1980). From 1992-7 he was Chairman of the Catholic Writers' Guild. Many of his books have a powerful Catholic theme. His novels and non-fiction books have won a number of awards and several have been filmed for cinema and television. He has lived in London for many years and his two sons attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School. Those who know something of the history of the School may remember the events in the mid 1980s when the Diocese made appointments to the Governing Body and then tried to remove the School's sixth form. Piers Paul Read was one of the leading members of the Vaughan Parents' Action Group formed at that time to fight to keep the sixth form. The present VPAG draw much comfort and hope from the fact that Piers Paul Read and his fellow parents and friends won that fight.
Dr John Martin Robinson is a writer and one of Britain's foremost architectural historians. He was educated at the Benedictine school of Fort Augustus and at Oriel College, Oxford where he obtained a D.Phil. He is the biographer of Cardinal Consalvi (the Vatican's representative at the Congress of Vienna) and author of The Dukes of Norfolk: A Quincentennial History, Treasures of the English Churches and of the official guide books to Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. He is Maltravers Herald Extraordinary, one of Her Majesty's Officers of Arms, and Librarian to the Duke of Norfolk. He is Vice-Chairman of the Georgian Group and a trustee of the Lakelands Arts Trust. He serves on the architectural advisory committee of some of our most important Catholic churches.
Anthony Speaight is a senior barrister and a Bencher of the Middle Temple. He is a commercial practitioner specialising in technology and construction law. He was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing and Lincoln College, Oxford. He has served as a member of the Bar Council, and as Chairman of the Access to the Bar Committee and of the editorial board of Counsel, the journal of the Bar of England and Wales. He is author of The Law of Defective Premises and editor of the Architect's Legal Handbook. He is a Freeman of the City of London and has received the Robert Schuman silver medal from the FVS Foundation of Germany.
Dr Ralph Townsend is the Headmaster of Winchester College. A Catholic, he was educated in Australia and at Keble College, Oxford. In his early career at Oxford, where he taught in the Theology Faculty, he was Senior Scholar at Keble, Dean of Degrees at Lincoln College and Warden of St Gregory's House. He became successively Head of English at Eton, Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School and Headmaster of Oundle. He has written books on Christian spirituality and numerous articles for the Dictionnaire de Spiritualite, the reference book published under the responsibility of the Jesuits. He is an Adviser to the National College of Music in London and a Trustee of the United Church Schools Trust.

Professor Mark Watson-Gandy is a barrister specialising in insolvency and company law. He is a Visiting Professor at the University of Westminster and a Visiting Lecturer at Cass Business School (City University). Dual qualified as an accountant, he is the author of "Watson-Gandy on Accountants" and other works, and is Head of Professional Standards for the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. He is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St George, and in 2008 was made a Knight of the Order of St Gregory the Great by His Holiness Pope Benedict in recognition of "his work as a barrister and law professor for the Catholic Church".

Sunday, 27 March 2011


Yes, it is finally time for this great man to file his pen and put away his various means of communication. At the ripe old age of 84 he deserves a well earned rest, he has, after all, given most of his working life to promoting the Catholic Church through the media.
A famous orator he also held post as MP representing the folk of Northern Ireland, he has led the Democratic Unionist Party and last year he was made a peer becoming Baron Bannside.

Photo: BBC
Farewell Dr Ian Paisley - 'the bitter orange'
Ian Richard Kirk (honestly, you couldn't make it up) Paisley has, for as long as I can remember, slagged off the Catholic Faith, the Holy Father and all things emanating from Rome. And, in so doing he has created a wave of sympathy for Catholicism and, in particular, for the Catholics of  Northern Ireland. During a session of the European Parliament he famously interrupted proceedings shouting that "Pope John Paul II is the Antichrist" - he also referred frequently to the church and the Holy Father as "the Whore of Babylon".

Paisley has  presented such a bigoted and sectarian viewpoint that he has pushed people's opinions into the opposite (Catholic) camp. For all of that, I find him a rather interesting figure. He actually commenced his theological studies in South Wales at what is now the Evangelical Theological College ( a very grim place - I know, I've been inside it and was greatly relieved to get out alive).
His Doctorate credentials came from a US Baptist College (obviously a hard anti Catholic one down South) and he very quickly established his own church and brand of Prebyterianism once back in Belfast.

On the occasion of Pope JP II's visit to Great Britain the HF met with the Presbyterian Church's top honcho in Scotland and gave him his blessing.
This enraged Paisley who immediately set up a group of supporters along the Papal route all holding banners stating: "All those blessed by this man will burn in hell". Legend has it that, as the Popemobile drew level with this group, the Holy Father extended his hand to them and gave them his blessing!

But Ian Paisley really has a dark background. I recall watching the infamous televised Oxford Union debate back in the 60s when Paisley produced a consecrated host from his pocket and ground it underfoot. All Catholics watching must have taken a deep intake of breath at that point, one can only pray that the host was not, in fact, consecrated.

He appeared to mellow somewhat with age but I suspect that someone with his level of bigotry would always carry it under the surface.

He leaves behind him, a son, also an Ian and also a politician.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

How lovely is Thy dwelling place?

Many years ago when no Latin Masses were celebrated within a radius of 150 miles of us, we created a chapel in a wing of our house and visiting priests celebrated Mass there and during the week the family retreated to it in order to pray and meditate.
We did all that we could to make it a fitting place for Catholic worship, statues, flowers, sanctuary light, candles and altar linens - we tended it lovingly. Simple as it was it became a fitting place for the offering of the Mass.
Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral -
has a touch of Gotham City about it!

Now during the week I visited the main Catholic church in Wales, St David's Cathedral, Cardiff. From the outside it is a shade grim and more than a bit overpowering with its slightly sooty stonework. But, it's what's on the inside that matters.

Except that, I have visited this church before so I knew what to expect on the inside, it is a touch of Freemason's Lodge meets Presbyterian Kirk. It is cold, and I do not mean in terms of temperature; it is austere and reflects well its exterior.
Presidential chair centre, tabernacle far right

The sanctuary is odd. Large purple (Lenten?) banners are dotted around  and the altar is the usual table covered in a purple cloth plonked in the centre of the sanctuary and behind it stands a massive Presidential chair.....centre stage (someone important sits here!). No tabernacle of course, we have to search a bit for that...Oh there you are Lord, right of centre (much like my position) but out of the mainstream. Shame.
An air of emptiness about it'

The Cathedral has an air of emptiness and abandon about it. I have experienced the same feeling in Protestant churches; it's namesake, St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire (Church of Wales Anglican) has the same feel, as if the owner had left the place some time ago.

It is, perhaps, understandable in a non Catholic church but for a
Catholic Cathedral to  have that atmosphere is, frankly, depressing.

I try to pray but am distracted by uncharitable thoughts about A) the architect and B) those who are supposed to cherish this place. I plough on with my prayers but I cannot stay long. That is, I could stay long but really I cannot wait to get out into the fresh air.
The Sacred Heart Chapel,
a little bleak?

I appreciate that it is Lent and churches are supposed to look spartan at this time but this place feels positively neglected. Side chapels are bare except for one with a single statue...the Sacred Heart stands alone and isolated; there are few candle racks and the ones that are there are the dreaded night light variety, you know, twenty pence for twenty minutes?

Is this really the best we can do for the Lord? I am ashamed by this Cathedral and only hope that it is awaiting the appointment of a new Archbishop to this important Archdiocese that has been without a leader for so long. Whoever it is, I hope they have an eye for  how a Cathedral should look.

Bad, mad or misunderstood?

Was he bad or just plain mad? Henry VIII, one time Defender of the Faith turned from an apparently devout Catholic to a sex mad serial killer. He was also a financially challenged sex mad serial killer and lusted for money as much as he lusted for the flesh and a male heir.
But is it just to write about him in such terms? Many, today believe that he has been misunderstood and that his behaviour was a result of his  suffering from either a genetic disorder or a personality defect or both.
I don't doubt it that as a possibility but he was still bad as far as I am concerned.

How many  'A' Class criminals have claimed insanity once they were apprehended for their crimes, Sutcliffe (The Yorkshire Ripper), Brady (The Moors Murderer), Michael Stone, Ted Bundy and many more.
I am sure that they do or did suffer from some form of mental handicap but I am also equally sure that they knew what they were doing; they knew the distinction between right and wrong and that makes them culpable.

Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao were all responsible for the deaths of not just a few million souls but something in the region of one hundred million!
30 million plus died as a result of Mao's
paranoia and politicking
Are we to believe perhaps that they were just a shade psychologically below par? Maybe, but they were still bad, very bad.
I can hear the liberal squeaks right now..."you should not be judgemental" and "only God knows if they were truly bad". To which I respond: "Why not?" to the first and: "I agree" to the second.

We need to be judgemental in our lives, to determine whether it is a good time to cross the road, whether Messrs Slapdash and Bodgit Ltd are good builders whether Miss Godfrey's visitations from Our Lady are genuine or not.
We use the facts that are at our disposal to inform our judgement and always with the caveat that the final word is God's. We do not condemn people to hell we do not even speculate as to whether they are worthy of hell; that is God's province. But there is every reason why we should determine whether they are good or bad.

The Catholic Thing has phrased it rather well:

Of course, if a human person commits an immoral act, we judge the actor as wrong. But we do so precisely because we respect his humanity and the power of moral choice that all human beings possess by nature. Though some human beings cannot exercise that power because of immaturity or illness, they are nevertheless moral subjects deserving of moral respect. They possess no less a human nature than do their mature and healthy peers.

Henry VIII set in motion a series of events that were to result in the deaths of thousands of the poor and vulnerable (as well as the religious). With the Dissolution of the Monasteries came the end to the monastic welfare state that provided employment, medical care, education, shelter and, indeed, food and drink for the poor and aged. According to Thomas Cobbet in his History of the Protestant Reformation, thousands died by the roadside, unable to fend for themselves. Cobbet writes of Thomas Cromwell, the King's chief instrument for carrying out the bulk of the sackings of the religious houses and their valuable chalices, plate and works of art:-

".....but he was not more innocent than were the butchered abbots and monks, he was not more innocent than any one out of those thousands upon thousands whom he had quartered, hanged, burned or plundered; and amongst all those thousands upon thousands there never was seen one, female or male, so complete a dastard as himself......"

Cromwell was acting on Henry's orders, orders that also saw the murder of several of his wives as well as great men such as St John Fisher and St Thomas More.

The romantic in me often wonders what would have been our lot if Henry had been a good man and continued to encourage the Catholic faith to prosper (England at that time was deemed the most pious country in Europe, hard to imagine today).

What would England and Wales be like today? Could it be that, as Big Ben strikes 12 noon today a  procession of two hundred monks and nuns will leave Westminster Abbey after a Solemn High Mass (EF of course), and halt in Parliament Square to recite the Angelus before processing to Marble Arch to sing hymns at the shrine to the martyrs of Tyburn. They are joined by thousands of workers from the various Guilds and an army of priests hear confessions in the open air.........well, it might not be precisely like that today but one may dream.

Of one thing I am certain; Henry VIII belongs in a gallery with Mao, Stalin, Hitler and the rest. Possibly mad, maybe misunderstood but definitely bad!

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Ballad of Walsingham

Bitter, bitter oh to behoulde
The grass to growe
Where the walles of Walsingham
So stately did shewe.

Such were the worth of Walsingham
While she did stand,
Such are the wrackes as now do shewe
Of that (so) holy lande.

Levell, levell with the ground
The Towres do lye
Which with their golden, glitt'ring tops
Pearsed oute to the skye.

Where the weare gates noe gates are nowe,
The waies unknown,
Where the presse of freares did passe
While her fame was far blowen.

Oules do scrike where the sweetest himnes
Lately were songe,
Toads and serpents hold thie dennes
Where the palmers did throng.

Weep, weep, O Walsingham,
Whose days are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deedes to dispites.

Sinne is where Our Lady sate,
Heaven turned is to helle;
Sathan sitte where Our Lord did swaye,
Walsingham, oh, farewell!


The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honor thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favored lady," Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name."
Most highly favored lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say--
"Most highly favored lady," Gloria!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The identity of the mystery writer is revealed....

Did you guess correctly? No? Well, it's hardly surprising really because the style and direction of this writer appears to have changed over the years and morphed from a semi traditional Catholic viewpoint to an all embracing liberal one...I hope I am not being unfair know who!

Well, I shall put you out of your misery and whisper in hushed tones the name of our mystery guest, it is none other than......Joanna Bogle!

Did you catch that?

No? Well here it is a little louder....JOANNA BOGLE!

Mrs Bogle appears to fall into the same category as Marmite, she is either loved or less loved but generally today she is loved by the liberal lobby and avoided by those who love the tradition of the faith.

Mind you, the article that I posted yesterday does reveal a much more orthodox woman than we perhaps see today.

And now, I have received some gentle criticism for the way that I have treated Mrs Bogle in the past so I would like to put my feelings on record.
She is not my cup of tea and I have criticised the way in which she appears to only select glowing comments to feature on her blog...I may be doing her an injustice but I think that to do such a thing is, shall we say, a little not quite correct (I am choosing my words carefully).
I also believe that Mrs Bogle is a professional journalist and is used to accepting both good and bad comments without sobbing into her pillow every night. She certainly will not be losing any sleep over any remarks that I have made, she is much too sensible for that.
One critic claims that my attitude to her is because she is a woman and I am a man...hmm, that does not really deserve a response so I shall only state that such a thing is risible!

Of one thing I am certain, Mrs Bogle will continue unimpeded by her critics and more power to her elbow. The world would be a duller place without a little dissent.
There is quite a full debate on her on James Preece's blog.

Libyan enlisted to aid the advance of Christianity!

I mean, of course, St Simon of Cyrene (Cyrene then a town in today's Libya). I have always been fascinated by this shadowy character, an unwilling participant in a brutal crucifixion - did he believe that he shared culpability by his actions I wonder?

I empathise with his reluctance; it must have been the last thing that he wanted, there he was just an innocent bystander standing on the sidelines of the world's greatest drama and suddenly some thuggish Roman soldiers grab hold of his arm saying "'ere you, take a grip on this 'ere cross" or words to that effect. How often have I felt like that, having a desire for quiet anonymity and suddenly some priest whispers in your ear "Do you know how to serve Mass?" or, worse still, "Would you stay behind after Mass and help  fill a few thousand envelopes?"

Of course, those roles are nothing like being asked to assist at a crucifixion where you might well end up being an object of hatred of all parties concerned.
And the request meant that poor unsuspecting Simon would have blood on his hands, literally. He would have to take up a very considerable burden in carrying that cross as Our Lord, by then, must have been as weak as a kitten from the scourging, beatings and subsequent loss of blood.
He was not a Jew, or so it is believed, he wanted no part of some religious political spat between the High Priests and the Romans and, for all we know, he may have been on his way to clinch an all important business deal that would set him up for life or, maybe, a nice lunch with some old buddies.

If there was a vacancy for a patron saint of fall guys, St Simon would be just the ticket and that's one of the reasons that I like him so much, that and the fact that he really represents us all. How often have we been reluctant to get involved in our faith, to stand up in that group of friends in the pub on Friday night and state that abortion is wrong, to ask someone not to blaspheme by using the name of Christ as an expletive, to write to one's Bishop concerning some liturgical abuse? I can fully understand St Simon, I have been there and will be there again no doubt.

But something happened to him once he had taken a hold of the cross and relieved the suffering Christ just a little. The spark of faith took, ignited and grew with God's grace so that, in time, Simon changed from being an unwilling helper to an enthusiatic follower.
There he was, minding his own business and, all of a
sudden he was making a commitment!

The lessons in this scene from the Passion of Christ are many and to me the most important one is enshrined within the deed of 'taking up the cross'. For Simon it proved to be a blessing and so it is for us all. When we suffer a bereavement, get made redundant or when the consultant tells us that we have cancer it is a cross that we unwillingly shoulder but shoulder it we do and we receive God's blessing as a result.
If there is any sense to be made of the disaster in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami or the New Zealand earthquake it is in the cross that those souls have unwillingly (like St Simon) shouldered (to help reduce the suffering of Christ?). It is suffering that is redemptive, the shedding of blood that opens up the road to salvation.
We are all innocent bystanders who, inexplicably, receive God's love for us in the form of a cross. If we can carry it, it will set us free. We can all be Simon of Cyrenes.
The time we should worry is when we do not have a cross to bear. Pity the lottery winner, the healthy athlete, the banker, the person who is so successful in all that they touch and do. They just do not know what they are missing.


The Cyrenean helps Jesus to carry His cross

V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.

R. Because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.

Here, Simon of Cyrene on his arrival from his day's work was made to carry the cross after Jesus.
Jesus all bruised and disfigured, still lives on amongst us under the form of suffering humanity.
Let us then be charitably disposed, after the example of the Cyrenean, and help Jesus to carry His cross by relieving the poor, visiting the sick and consoling the afflicted.
"As long as you did this to My least brethren you did it for Me"

Let us be kind and helpful to all in trouble, sympathetic and indulgent. It is our bounden duty to hold out the right hand of fellowship to all in temptation:

                       "Considering thyself lest thou also be tempted"

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A criticism of the English and Welsh Bishops, from an unexpected quarter

The year is 1985, the publication is a small magazine for priests called 'Vox Sacerdotalis - but can you guess the identity of this person who levels some good critical remarks to their Lordships? He or she is obviously a staunch Catholic who dislikes the liberal trappings of guitar Masses and the like. How have their views changes some 25 plus years later? It is a good article, and it paints an interesting picture of the state of the Church in England and Wales in 1985.
Have you guessed who the author is yet?
No? Well read the article in extract form, sorry it is so long, and make an educated guess, the answer will be revealed in tomorrow's post!
My thanks to Mrs Linen who kindly transcribed it for me.

"The Pope has called a special Synod of the Bishops of the Catholic Church in November.  The idea is to review progress since the Second Vatican Council in the mid -1960’s.

Here in Britain the latest statistics from the Catholic Education Council give a picture of what is happening.  Meanwhile the Bishops of England and Wales have sent their own submission to Rome in preparation for this event.  It makes extraordinary reading.

The Bishops claim to have “carried out consultation among Catholic people” in preparing for the Synod.  This is a peculiar assertion, since they contacted only a tiny selection of Catholic organisations, and although it is true that in theory any Catholic was able to make his or her own comments to their lordships, this was certainly not widely publicised despite the fact that there is a ‘Catholic Media Office’ which might have been asked to undertake the project.

The episcopal submission says that “the renewal of the liturgy has played a large part in helping to achieve a deeper appreciation of the Church as People of God … the word of God has been more thoroughly heard as the source of enlightenment and animation of the community of believers …”.

But whoever is getting the “deeper appreciation of the Church as people of God” it isn’t the majority of the people themselves.  They’re staying at home.  This is revealed in the Catholic Education Council figures:  Mass attendance as 2,114,219 in 1966, dropping to 1,570,230 in 1982 and 1,512,552 in 1984.
That is a drop of 30 thousand per year, at a time when the official Catholic population was steadily rising.  If the drop continues at this rate, there will be no Catholics attending Mass in Britain in 45 years time.

What about baptisms?  For these figures, it is useful to consult the Catholic Directories published annually.  Infant baptisms fell from 137,673 in 1964 to 71,887 in 1981, while the nominal Catholic population rose from 3,827,000 to 4,220,262.

Catholic marriages are down, too.  In 1964 there were 45,592 but in 1982 there were 27,774.

Is it a case of quality rather than quantity?  In the case of priests, it had better be.  In 1984 just 92 were ordained, and 152 died.  The lack of priests is going to present a crisis in the not-too-distant future.

Above all, the Catholic Church in Britain seems to have been unable to hold its young people – they are lapsing annually in their hundreds and thousands from the practise of their faith and are not returning.

The reasons for people absenting themselves from hearing God’s word or partaking of His Sacraments are probably very wide-ranging, but the present liturgy, which the Bishops claim has helped so many to a deeper appreciation of the whole subject, must be examined as a major factor.

As one Catholic lay movement has put it, in a report of its own to the Synod, “Every conceivable kind of experimental liturgy has at one time or another been foisted upon the unfortunate laity in the name of the Second Vatican Council.  In the process, the deeply reverent and spiritual atmosphere that had traditionally been associated with the celebration of the liturgy has been lessened and often enough completely lost”.

“There is no doubt that this has been a contributory factor in the decline of Mass attendance.  Much of the new liturgical celebration has been tasteless, ugly, badly performed and irrelevant …. Instead of using the words and rituals provided by the Church at the Second Vatican Council and having the humility to do so in a liturgical celebration hallowed by tradition and the authority of the Church, many clerics prefer their own way. To the laity, who have to listen and receive these things, it looks like pride and self-glorification.  The young are not deceived and soon look elsewhere for spiritual, liturgical and religious fulfilment”.

The Bishops assert that more and more lay people are gaining from involvement in the life of the Church.  But of whom are they talking?  Presumably not of the people who no longer go to Mass, the children who remain unbaptised, the young who marry outside the Church.  They seem to be referring to that tiny minority of people who sit on the new Episcopal commissions and committees, the heavy (and expensive!) structure of bureaucracy with which the Church in England and Wales is encumbered.

........The falling Mass attendance figures are the key to the tragedy.  As a prominent Catholic layman and political commentator, B.A. Santamaria, said in The Tablet  recently after listing the statistics of the decline:  “If these facts are false, let them be shown to be so.  It they are true, for God’s sake let us not conclude our assessment with the monumental absurdity that, in proportion as Catholics vote with their feet and empty once-full churches, the Holy Ghost is ‘renewing’ what is visibly ceasing to exist.”

The episcopal submission ends with the startling assertion that the overall picture seems to be one of welcoming and acceptance of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council among Catholic people in Britain.  But how many Catholics here have actually read them, or know what they say?  The evidence would appear to be that Catholics who truly know and love their faith, and are prepared to make it an active force in their lives, are a diminishing number in Britain today.

Meanwhile every kind of crazy cult, from Rastafarianism to the occult, is gaining adherents, thousands of unborn children a year are destroyed by legal abortion, the divorce figures rise, violent crime increases, Christianity no longer has a central place in the curriculum of our state schools, and many young people – Catholics among them – get involved with drugs, cohabit rather than marry, and view the Church as irrelevant to their lives.

The picture in Britain is emphatically not one of renewal but of weakness, decay and decline.  Bureaucracy, humbug and doctrinal compromise have got to be swept away if any progress is to be made.  Fortunately, the man in charge in Rome is a Pole whose view of the Church is one tinted with an ability to detect all three.


This year the conference spent more time than usual listening to prepared speeches.  They were entertained by among others, Mgr. Bruce Kent, whose speech was utterly predictable; and by Fr. Austin Smith C.P., who for some time has been working in Toxteth.  Just like many priests who work in Latin America, the latter has espoused liberation theology and besides calling for more help for the deprived people (I nearly said depraved), he called for a renewed Church, less clericalism, born again from the grass roots of basic communities, totally dedicated to the poor and oppressed.

The third main speech from Bishop Kelly of Salford was far better.  Eighteen resolutions were voted on.  The theme was ‘Violence’.  The conference looked to have voted both ways on Military Chaplaincies.  One resolution called for the continued recognition of the right of men and women in the Armed Forces to pastoral care and affirmed the Chaplain’s role in seeking to preach the gospel and celebrate the sacraments with them.  With that there can be no dissent I would think (except that 5 abstained and 2 voted against.)  The next resolution said “We ask our Bishops conference to re-examine the conditions of service of our military chaplains”.  I thought at first this was saying, “let us not have any” but it transpires that what the members were getting at is the fact that full time chaplains have the status of officers, wear uniforms and are paid for by that awful body, the Ministry of Defence.  The members were looking to some sort of unranked chaplaincy arrangement.

I will not list all the resolutions.  Most of them I would have voted against or abstained.  For one or two, however, I would probably have lost my temper and shouted out “shame” at their being passed if I had been present.  Thus the following come in that category.

“On the occasion of an interchurch marriage, if the non-Catholic party expresses true faith in the eucharist and wishes to communicate with his/her partner, this should be allowed and welcomed”.  However this failed with 42 for and 22 against with 8 abstentions.

“As Clergy we lament our ignorance of the violence of Northern Ireland (what ignorance? We see it every night on screen!) and the injustices underlying it, in particular the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act”.  What about the daily horrors perpetrated by the I.R.A.???

“That this conference should place on record its concern over the exercise of authority of any level in the Church which submits members or sections of God’s people to moral or psychological violence.  In particular we uphold the right of theologians to legitimate enquiry and speculation which should be encouraged as essential to the life of the Church”.

”We fully endorse the vision of the Church as expressed in the submission to the synod secretariat containing as it does, a clear indication of the priorities for the local Church”.  The previous issue of Vox dealt with this submission.  Only 6 abstained on the vote.

Much of the remainder of the conference wasted its time by dealing with issues like unemployment and social deprivation.  When will they deal with prayer, lapsation, the Devil and other topics truly suited to an assembly of priests?  Regrettably a picture published in the Catholic papers of the entire assembly revealed that most of the august gathering had discarded clerical collars and/or clerical dress at least for the conference.


Education.  “Church schools should certainly stop playing the numbers game by claiming that so many have taken first communion, or so many practice their religion on Sundays.  This tells us nothing about how many religiously mature people we are helping to produce later in life, whether as mature Christians or mature Atheists.  When teaching atheists, one’s aim is not to convert them but to produce serious reflective atheists who have a sensitive appreciation to Christianity and religions generally (the sort of appreciation no doubt that will dispatch you quickly to the Gulag in Russia!).  After all, as Gerald Priestland has reminded us, to be an atheist you have to know a lot about religion”.

From a Review of Gabriel Moran’s ‘Religious Education Development’ (Chapman 1984).  Well there is another book to avoid.  See the review of Fr. Purnell’s book for similar ideas.

Youth Masses from the publishers blurb for ‘Masses with young People’ by Fr. Donal Neary SJ.

“These Masses were composed for use with groups of young people from the age of about 14 years upwards and they take into account the normal level of religious and liturgical experience and difficulties for this group … the themes of the Masses are Easter, Compassion, Heart for Justice, Friendship, Risk/Courage, Trust, Flowers and Weeds, The Cross, Jesus the Revolutionary, Exam Time, Christmas, Self Image, Vocation, God, Hope, Suffering, Forgiveness, The Breaking of Bread, The Good Samaritan, Choosing a Career”.  Well liturgical books are really on the way out in the Church of the future !!!

Radio Mass “If there is one sound which brings on in me a strong urge to switch off, it is that of guitar and recorder music in Church services.  I have nothing against guitars and recorders as such, but when they announce themselves in Church as they did in last Sunday’s Mass on Radio 4’s Morning Service, I feel that what follows will make me feel the reverse of uplifted.  Now this sort of prejudice ought to be resisted.  With this in mind I stuck out the broadcast from Our Lady of Lourdes Church to discover only once again that where guitar and recorder music is found in church, so are cheap and tinny hymn tunes, reedy singing from a congregation patently uneasy with syncopation and a general air of matinees about the whole business guaranteed to bring on nausea.  In future I shall know better than to doubt my own worse fears.”  Gillian Reynolds in ‘Sunday Telegraph’ September 1985."

It surely can't be Damian T as he was still in the 4th form then, mmm, maybe William Oddie?.......or maybe not!