Saturday, 30 April 2011

Are you really a Catholic?

Fr Simon Henry on Offerimus Tibi Domine posted recently and the subject was 'On actually being a Catholic'. That article has gnawed away at me as I am sure the good Father hoped it would, and prompted me to add my small contribution to the cause (less eruditely than OTD). The essence of the post is really, are you just a chattering classes Sunday Mass Catholic? (That's my paraphrased version).

Bishops, as well as laity, need to ensure
Mass is reverent!
When I look around at my fellow Catholics - and, of course, when I examine my own conscience, I am struck by the fact that, we are all rather fixed on the Sunday Mass element and rather slothful  forgetful with regard to other essential practices that will, hopefully, go some way towards ensuring our eventual progression to Heaven.

Here is a brief bullet point checklist of some of the elements that I see missing from today's Catholic society:-

  • Daily Rosary
  • Grace before meals, even in public (especially in public)
  • Reverence for the House of God (there is an unholy chatter that emanates from the congregations both before and after Mass (not the EF Mass though)
  • Morning and evening prayers
  • Educate yourself regarding the Faith, read good books regularly
  • Involve yourself in Catholic culture and society (Juventutum, SVP or whatever)
  • Regular confession - not once every three months but once a week if possible
  • Acts of charity whether that be dropping money into a beggar's hand or planned giving and actual, physical aid to those in need
We have to shake off this concept that being a Catholic is something that you turn on and off as the need arises. It is a mantle that should embrace us and those close to us throughout our lives but we need to work at it.

Finally, the list is not exhaustive, I am sure that you will be able to add more bullet points, feel free to do might be 'Spend less time blogging and more time praying'.....That's a bullet point through the foot for you!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Remember Bishop Li today, may his soul rest in peace!

From Asianews comes a report of the death of one of the faith's great contemporary leaders, Bishop Li of Luoyang, China.
The Underground Catholic Church in China is precisely that; a hidden community persecuted and punished by the Communist authorities at every opportunity while those in the Patriotic Catholic Church (State controlled) are tolerated.
Chinese Catholics have not always been well supported by the Vatican yet they have kept the Faith against all the odds and in the face of Taoist and Communist ideologies.
Many Catholic Bishops have spent many years incarcerated, tortured and seemingly forgotten and many more have been forced into grindingly hard labour for most of their lives
Bishop Li Hongye was one such hero, today is the day that his Requiem Mass will be celebrated so please remember his soul in your prayers.

From Asianews........
Death of underground bishop of Luoyang. Decades under house arrest and hard labour
by Jian Mei
Bishop Li Hongye, sick for a long time, died during the Easter Vigil, in his 67th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He suffered imprisonment for his loyalty to the pope. The funeral will be held April 29.

Luoyang (AsiaNews) – Mgr. Peter Li Hongye, 91, bishop of Luoyang (Henan) died of a heart attack on April 23 last, during the Easter Vigil, as he blessed the water before baptisms. He was approved by the Holy See, but not recognized by the government in Beijing. His faithful remember him for his fortitude in living his vocation and his suffering in the forced labour camps and the time spent under surveillance.
A priest from the diocese told AsiaNews that the funeral of Mgr. Li will next be held April 29 at the birthplace of the Prelate, Gong County, halfway between Zhengzhou and Luoyang.
Other sources tell AsiaNews that Mgr. Li knew Latin perfectly. During the 50s and 60s was sent to forced labour camps ("reform through labor") in Qinghai. Since the late 80's he has always lived under close surveillance or house arrest.
Bishop Li was in charge of the Religious sisters of the Diocese of Luoyang in the underground community and surrounding areas characterized by extreme poverty and lack of personnel, rendering even more heroic the work of Mgr. Li and his priests.
Bishop Li was born on January 6, 1920. From a deeply Catholic family from 1937-1943 he studied at the Seminary of Kaifeng. Ordained priest 22 April 1944, he became pastor at Yanshi.
From 1955 to 1970 he was arrested and sentenced to hard labour for his loyalty to the pope. The obituary prepared by his faithful describes this period as one of a "test of blood and fire."
On August 7, 1987, he was consecrated underground bishop of Luoyang, he continued his pastoral work in Yanshi and other areas in Henan.
Since 2004, he suffered from heart disease, has spent periods in hospital and was always ill.
The Diocese of Luoyang has about 10 thousand Catholics, 20 priests and 30 nuns. In 1929, Luoyang became a apostolic prefecture, separating it from the Vicariate of Zhengzhou. Administered by the Italian Xaverian missionaries, it became an apostolic vicariate in 1935 and a diocese in 1946.

                                       May his soul rest in peace - Amen

If TinTin is banned what about Wopsy?

Anything wrong with this picture? No!
Anyone who has taken a ride in a Tuk tuk
or rickshaw would agree I think

Andrew M Brown blogs in the Daily Telegraph about how his local library have put the popular TinTin series of pictorial adventures of a boy and his dog, under wraps, considered politically incorrect don't y'know!
Well, they do feature black people.....hmmm......and Belgians....but I cannot see anything too wrong in that.

Compare it with a series of books written by a White Father, Gerard F Scriven, back in the 1940s. The series featured a Guardian Angel by the unlikely name of Wopsy (I know for a fact that my Guardian Angel has got a pretty manly, Christian type name, not some poncey made up monicker like Wopsy, but there we are).

Enough to put one off devils for life!
 The series was tremendously popular and now the books are collector's items but, I guess, few have read them.
Wopsy (shudder) is GA to a small black boy by the name of Shiny-John and he steers him through life in the jungle, coping with devils (the Business that Walks by Night and the Mid-day Devil) and Leopard Men, (animist sacrificers of young children).
It does have the stuff of nightmares about it but I grew up on it and apart from a nasty twitch and an addiction to a dirty old blanket, it has not affected me in the least.

Seriously, the books do scare but I believe only in the same way that Struwwelpeter or Grimm's Fairy Tales scare. It can do one good to learn fear of God from such a source. One also learns, very well, to have a concern for falling under the influence of the devil - 'not a subject for five year olds' I hear being spluttered in leafy Leamington Spa but, delivered in the right way it is no bad thing to develop a dislike of evil from an early age.

The colour issue is, admittedly, a little dated and tends to treat the African peasant as slightly basic but....hang on to your socks......that is often how African peasants are! Shock, horror! The Equality Gestapo are on the way to my house right now. So, just to set the record straight, peasants the world over can be a little unworldly and simple in their approach to life. So can some marketeers and educationalists that I have worked with!

I grew up in Heston, a White Father's parish on the edge of what is now Heathrow Airport and so began to inhale the Wopsy stories from a very early age and with the encouragement of a great Bishop (we had them in those days). Bishop Walsh who went on to work in Dundee and was finally sent to a monastery because he had a housekeeper who was a divorcee and, despite huge pressure from uncharitable Catholic laity, he refused to sack her, quite rightly so. Not everything was good about pre Vatican II Catholicism.

The Wopsy adventures hammered home, very effectively, the power of God and His angels. Wopsy always triumphed over the devil and Shiny- John was always pulled to safety, physically and spiritually, on every occasion.

Here is a passage from Wopsy and the Witch Doctor, one of a series of four books:-

"The path to Bikonda was very narrow, as were all the paths made by the black men, being made for people who walked not one beside the other, but behind each other. On either side the great trees of the forest rose as high as church steeples as if they were fighting each other to get to the sun. From their high branches great creepers hung down and trailed over the ground. Now and then Shiny-John saw little monkeys climbing up and down them and it seemed to him that they sometimes chattered to him as they rested for an instant. He would have loved to stay and watch them, but Margarita-Maria hurried on with her rosary in her hand. She knew that the great forest was the home of other animals, larger and fiercer than the little monkeys.

Wopsy flew ahead for some distance on either side of the path looking for anything that might be a danger. Now and then he did see something that moved quietly through the undergrowth, in and out the thick tangle of creepers, but he had a way of dealing with such things. Now it was a crafty looking snake slipping along and making a hissing sound, but Wopsy patted it on the head, for he wasn't a bit afraid even, of the most wicked snakes, and made it go to sleep until Margarita-Maria and Shiny were a long way ahead".

All good stuff in my book, metaphors and all but I guess the educational psycho folk will be having spasms right now!
Father Scriven died in 1949 aged thirty seven and despite a wealth of historical data concerning the White Fathers (bit of a non PC name right now) I have found nothing biographical about him other than the fact that, with his white habit he wore a fez, a throwback to the time spent in the missions in Zanzibar I believe.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Altar server shortage? Not any longer!

I just had to feature this from Acts of the Apostasy, read the whole post HERE

"Because the circus had trained the chimps so well for their acts, it didn't take long for them to learn the motions and actions required of altar servers - the procession, assisting at the altar, holding the paten during communion, and so on.

"About the only things they can't manage," Fr. Bailey said, "are lighting the candles and handling the thurible. Fire and smoke sorta freaks them out, so the deacon takes care of those responsibilities."

Hmm....I know of some human altar servers who can't serve as well as these chimps! (but none that I serve alongside, phew!)


Britain's Monarchy can be Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu or Bush Born Baptist but they can't be Catholic

A country that prides itself on its even handedness and sense of fair play, that opens its doors to all and sundry in need of state support, that invokes laws promoting homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia in its attempt to be 'forward thinking and unprejudiced' actually does not allow a Roman Catholic to become an heir to the throne.
 A massive throwback back to the Dark Ages!

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales profess to be ambivalent towards this inequality, not really concerned with a Catholic becoming an heir to the throne, happy to  maintain the status quo. Happy, also, for their Cardinals to be relegated to the back of the VIP pews when it comes to Royal Weddings.

But I find it distinctly unhealthy and an indicator of a hard core prejudice against Catholics. Nick Clegg (bless him) was all set to sort out the Act of Settlement and change it so that Catholics could join the ranks of those eligible to be king or queen  along with Seventh Day Adventists, Monster Raving Loony Born Again Christians and the Ba Hai Reformed Church members (who have been eligible for that honour since the Act was passed in 1701).

Now it appears that the Government is cooling down any notion of making any changes, well we have had 310 years of prejudice against Catholics, what's another century or two?

Whom, one might ask, has put the dampers on change? EF Pastor Emeritus claims that no less a personage than the Queen is behind it and I believe that he is correct.
Her Majesty has never evinced any love or even empathy for the Catholic Faith; she is Low Church Anglican and put a stop to a small private Mass that was celebrated regularly in the cell of St Thomas More in the Tower of London a few years ago; that seemed to be a spiteful act. She referred, patronisingly, to Cardinal Hume as "My Cardinal" and he also played the part well.

"A Papist on the throne? - Never"
 She has not gone out of her way, in any sense of the phrase, to embrace the British members of the Catholic Church as her subjects.

British Catholics, however, continue to show temporal fealty to the Crown and, by large, are a loyal and true bunch of people.

Of course, no self respecting Catholic would wish to marry or be born into the British Royal Family. They do not have a great record in terms of marital fidelity or sensible behaviour. I once stood for nearly two hours in the rain with a group of Special Needs students outside our College, awaiting the arrival of the Princess Royal. When she arrived her aide pointed out the group but she totally ignored them and swept past. All that was needed was a quick wave and all would have been fine.
I would like to be a Royalist but my support is waning fast and the fact that this state prejudice is likely to continue only contributes to my feelings that they should all get proper jobs like their European counterparts and start behaving with some decorum.

I also question the role of the Equality and Human Rights Commission - shouldn't they be taking action against such bigotry?

But then I looked at the list of Commissioners and speculated how many of them were Catholic or, even, they are:-

Trevor Phillips OBE (chair)Baroness Margaret Prosser of Battersea OBE (deputy chair)Stephen Alambritis Ann Beynon OBE
Professor Geraldine Van Bueren
Kay Carberry CBE
Baroness Sally Greengross OBE
Baroness Meral Hussein Ece OBE
Dr Jean Irvine OBE
Kaliani Lyle
Angela Mason
Michael Smith
Simon Woolley

If you check their EHRC profiles you will find that many of them are Labour Party activists and a few of them are also supporters of Stonewall, the Homosexual Charity. Quite a few list trades unions as being their key interest. One also claims representation of black people - that's fine but why no evidence of Catholicism?

We are the only faith of any reckoning in this country after all! 

A small victory for Catholic blogging

Coughton Court - a haven for Recusant Catholics but not assassins!

Some weeks back I posted on the National Trust property and Recusant house of Coughton Court in Warwickshire. I was concerned that one guide in particular was claiming that the Pope issued a decree to all English Catholics "to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I".

Also, other guides were 'dumbing down' the effects of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by using terms such as "Henry VIII closed the monasteries" - some closure!
Well, a stout hearted blogger, one, Umblepie, decided to take the matter up with the National Trust and, as a result, has received a letter promising a review of the interpretational literature and a promise that the issue will be discussed at the next team meeting of the guides. 
A good result I would say and a not insignificant victory for Catholic bloggers. Next issue.......more EF Masses! 

Here is the Trust's response:

Dear Mr ...............
Thank you for your letter dated 6 April and your interest in Coughton Court.  Our Administrator has passed your letter to me so that I may reply to you, as I lead the team who support our room guides.
We are keen to provide an accurate and balanced interpretation of the house, the people who have lived here or who have been associated with it, together with the times in which they lived. Your comments regarding the 'Reformation' and the comments made by my colleagues will be presented at our next interpretation work group meeting. I have also passed a copy of your letter to our Interpretation Officer who is responsible for the presentation material for the house.
We always welcome discussion about our presentation and thank you for taking the time to share your views.
Yours sincerely,
Julie Brunton,
Volunteer Support and Development Team Leader,
Coughton Court.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


"Not an English and Welsh Bishop again"

The new Archbishop Designate of Cardiff, His Grace, George Stack gave an address to the General Synod of the Church of England in which he, apparently, denied the role of Mary, Mother of God with regards to her intercession.

Now the important word is "apparently" because, as William Oddie of The Catholic Herald points out, the Archbishop's phraseology is open to some interpretation - but it damn well shouldn't be! Surely that's why our priests rise up the hierarchical ranks, because of their ability (among many other things) to pronounce clearly and without error on the teachings of Holy Mother Church.
It is not good enough to make a statement that leaves a number of speculative options open as to the meaning behind the words.

I am not one of ++ Stack's biggest fans, I disliked the way he handled the Vaughan School debacle and how he responded to letters with a letter of his own (standard response) plus a computerised signature......very low grade in my books.
However, I would like to think that, on this occasion, the Archbishop has been misunderstood and I would also hope that he will issue a corrective statement in which he clearly lays out the role of Our Lady as part of Church teaching.

BUT..........more than that I would hope (and strongly recommend to his Grace) that he leads a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Wales, Our Lady of the Taper, in Cardigan.
Our Lady of the Taper - what is the
relevance of Lourdes if we do not
believe in Our Lady's intercession?

 In fact, it would be a very good thing for Welsh Catholics if the new Archbishop were to lead the Latin Mass Society Pilgrimage to the shrine this year - and even celebrate a Latin Mass (EF, that is).
You's not just the people of Cardiff who want to know, it's not even the Catholics of the rest of Wales, it's all Catholics from all over the world who want to be reassured of the Archbishop Designate's belief in Our Holy Mother.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Photo: BBC
Brother Horse "His look was turned towards God"

Some readers have been kind enough to comment on my first post about The Animals of St Gregory by Brian (Brendan) O'Malley. They have picked up on animal characteristics that either they or those close to them have observed but, in almost every case, the character alluded to is a human or animal trait whereas, what St Gregory and Brendan O'Malley have in mind are spiritual marks that may also be associated with an animal.

So, today I have selected Brother Horse for a little closer scrutiny and it would be interesting to see if you agree with my identification of  the living person who closely resembles O'Malley's assessment. Here is a precis of his character.

Brother Horse, above all else, is an animal who with every ounce of his body and soul has surrendered himself to God and become totally absorbed in God's love as a result.
He is, of course, beautifully proportioned 'with supple, rippling muscles and a high prancing action' (keep thinking spiritual, not temporal).

Through the medium of prayer and meditation he knows his innermost self well and is able to rein in any earthly tendencies towards sin by chastity and continence.
These gird him well and he is, as a result, able to enter any arena without fear. He responds to the 'hidden word' of his Master and is confident in his humility and charity so that he can cope calmly with the uproar that often surrounds him.

O'Malley writes: "The immediate fruit of the horse's prayer was tranquillity gained through constant attention to the presence of God. His pasture was prayer, the nourishment and inward refreshment of his soul. He gazed on lofty heights gained through travelling long in the valley of tears".

As Brother Horse draws ever closer to God so his white body becomes more luminous, brilliant with the light of righteousness and the burning fire of chastity. Truly, he is the very essence of goodness and authority.
Through prayer and mortification he is able to accomodate a series of hurdles and, at the same time, place all his energy into one concerted leap
 '..through being co-centred with Christ into Being itself'.

The book, The Animals of St Gregory by Brian O'Malley is beautifully illustrated with exceptional wood engravings by Simon Brett.
Click on the Lions Head for his website.

Oh, and the person whom I most closely associate Brother Horse with is, of course, The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI - but then you knew that already!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

What sort of a Catholic animal are you?

Would Brother Camel fit your character?

St Gregory, in his writings, made reference as to how he alluded to the monks in his charge as various types of animal, each according to its imagined spiritual character.
So, he has Brother Rhinoceros, Brother Locust and so on. In all, Gregory the Great characterized some 72 different Christian animal types.

This must have been a foreunner to the management training programme so popular in the 70s and 80s (and, maybe now, for all I know). We were taught (as young, green marketeers) to identify those sitting around the conference table and to give them animal identities according to their character. So, the Lion was the blustering, bullying type and the snake was the've got it! The idea was that, once one knew the characters you were dealing with, you could handle them accordingly and I am sure the same thought must have been in the mind of Abbot Gregory, as he then was.

Now this is where the story becomes a shade tortuous but, stick with me and, hopefully all will soon become clear. Back in 1989 when, we,  as a family, decided that we could not take any more mullarkey at Sunday Mass we declared UDI and set up our own chapel in a wing of the old schoolhouse where we lived in Pembrokeshire. There, only the traditional Latin Mass was celebrated by visiting priests. Our immediate neighbour was a 9th century church, now part of the Anglican Church of Wales and ministered to by a vicar by the name of Brendan O'Malley. Now it transpired that Brendan was an ex priest, in fact he was an ex Benedictine monk and had a marvellous academic and learned mind. I like to think that he peaked during his Catholic period and never since then has repeated his excellent works and writings but that might be a little unfair on him. Both then and today, Brendan and I have little in common as he has a most liberal Anglican approach to life. In fact, whilst he was vicar of this gem of a Pre Reformation church he ordered the oak pews ripped out and miles of carpeting laid, on top of which went a series of sofas and armchairs - more House of Fraser than House of you may see how we differ essentially.

Nevertheless, after he left the priesthood (but was still a Catholic) and with the images of the monastery fresh in his mind, one of his writings was published under the title of 'The Animals of St Gregory' under the name Brian O'Malley. A rewarding book to read and to use to identify the characteristics (less desirable ones) that manifest themselves within one's own character.
The characteristics outlined by Brendan O'Malley are interesting because, of course, they are a blend of both the good and the bad that are in all of us. So, Brother Lizard is a slow and apparently, untalented Brother, here is a passage from his chapter:-

"....he was not attractive to look at nor was he clever or quick-witted. Everything he did was accomplished with painstaking endeavour. He was the monastery cook and from his kitchen he poured out his love in the service of others. He had a happy heart and his attitude was transmitted in his work, so that the simple fare he served took on the element of a sacrament. Through his work his love was made visible. In his work, he found the reality of himself, something no one else could know....."

While Brother Ostrich was a shade less loveable:-

"...Brother Ostrich had a certain amount of time for God; he felt that it wasn't so much a matter of his belief in God as of the feeling that God believed in him. If he had worked as hard at prayer as he did on his image of sanctitiy, he would, in all probability, have been able to fly, but he could not fly in prayer, because of his need to impress all beholders. Grovelling in his heart in things below, Brother Ostrich could not maintain a life of sanctity. He could not, in truth, even rise from the ground, but walked along the broad spaces of his thought, silently uttering his own praises, such was the weight of his hypocrisy....."

The blurb on the cover informs us that: "The animals of St Gregory can be met in any High Street. You will find Brother Rhinoceros and Brother Locust in any bar. They are also to be found in the heart of each one of us"

Which poses the question, what sort of Catholic animal are you?

The Animals of St Gregory by Brian O'Malley
Published by: Paulinus Press   ISBN 0 907740 00 6


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Feastday to all English men and women!

As so many bloggers have covered  Holy Saturday so well I hope I will be forgiven for flying the flag for St George whose feastday it is today, 23rd April.

Arm! arm! for the struggle approaches,
Prepare for the combat of life:
Saint George! be our watchword in battle,
Saint George! be our strength in the strife.

Great Saint, from the throne of thy splendour,
Look down on thy chosen isle,
Soon,soon may they share in thy glory,
Who faithfully strive her awhile.

The land of the love is a desert,
It s temples and altars are bare,
The finger of death is upon it,
The footprints of Satan are there.

Arise in the might of they power,
And scatter the foes of the Lord;
As the idols of Rome in their temple
Were crushed at the sound of thy word.

Oh, bring back the faith that we cherish,
For which thou hast nobly withstood
The tortures and rack of the tyrant,
That faith which thou seal'dst with thy blood.

H/T to Once I was a Clever Boy for the hymn to St George.

Thursday, 21 April 2011


Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
     That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
     Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
     Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
     Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
     I, only I.
Yet give not o'er,
     But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
     And smite a rock.

Christina Georgina Rossetti


I shall not be posting on Good Friday which also happens to be the anniversary of the death of one of our greatest but possibly least well known poets, Roy Campbell.

Roy Campbell 1901-1957 - RIP

Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell was born in South Africa on 2nd October 1901. He led a liberated childhood wandering the bush in the company of young native friends and it must have been this grounding that gave him a taste for danger and adventure in later years.
Arriving in England in 1919 he quickly established himself on the circuit of "wild poets". Dylan Thomas became a drinking companion and there was a famous incident when Campbell mounted the stage during a poetry recital and assaulted Stephen Spender.
Augustus John took Campbell and his wife under his wing for a time and Edith Sitwell and T S Eliot gave him the literary encouragement he so badly needed.

Morals between Campbell and his wife, Mary were loose at this stage in their marriage and there was considerable controversy over their individual affairs within the so called Bloomsbury Group. Eventually, there was a great falling out with Roy Campbell producing some  pointed satirical verse lampooning the Virginia Woolf set. (The Georgiad)

Roy and Mary moved to a rented cottage on the Lleyn Peninsula  in North Wales where they lived a simple peasant life which allowed them to assess their situation. During this period Campbell wrote his first epic poem 'The Flaming Terrapin'.

They returned to London and were warmly received by Evelyn Waugh and Wyndham Lewis but Campbell continued his heavy drinking and carousing.
On one St David's Day (in the company of Dylan Thomas) he proceeded to eat a whole vase of daffodils "in honour of Wales" - not many Welshmen have been known to undertake such a feat!
With the Civil War in Spain brewing, Campbell came out firmly on the side of Franco, bitterly opposing the communists and, incidentally, the majority of opinion, at least in Great Britain. The academic and literary societies became rabid in their hatred of him and, before long, the Campbells had moved to Spain where the climate suited Roy's yearning for the warmth of the sun.

 'The towers and trees were lifted hymns of praise,
The city was a prayer, the land a nun:
The noonday strumming all its rays
Sang that a famous battle had been won,
As signing his white Cross, the very Sun,
The Solar Christ and captain of my days
Zoomed to the zenith; and his will was done.'

Roy had been drawn closer and closer to Catholicism when in Britain and now, he found that Catholic Spain (as it then was) compounded his search for something deeper in life. His wife made the first move announcing
 curtly: "I'm going to become a Catholic".
He responded, without hesitation: "Well, kid if you're going to, I will to".
They were received into the Church in the town of Toledo and, to a degree, he reformed his wild ways and focused on his work and on danger. Instead of heavy drinking he rode and hunted regularly and began a successful period as a bullfighter.
The violence of the Civil War began to have an impact on Campbell and his young family and, whilst he rather relished the role of 'protector' to the community of monks who were their friends, it was felt that, for the sake of the children, they should retreat to France. Within days of leaving their community, all seven of the monks had been stood up against a wall in the town square and shot.

The account of this tragedy is recounted here by Joseph Pearce:

"In March 1936 the anti-clerical contagion spreading across Spain reached the streets of Toledo, the ancient city in which the Campbells had made their home. Churches were burned in a series of violent riots in which priests and nuns were attacked. During these bloody disturbances, Roy and Mary Campbell sheltered in their house several of the Carmelite monks from the neighboring monastery. In the following weeks, the situation worsened. Portraits of Marx and Lenin were posted on every street corner, and horrific tales began to filter in from surrounding villages of priests being shot and wealthy men being butchered in front of their families. Toledo's beleagured Christians braced themselves for the next wave of persecution, and the Campbells, in an atmosphere that must have seemed eerily reminiscent of early Christians in the Catacombs of Rome, were confirmed in a secret ceremony, before dawn, by Cardinal Goma, the elderly Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain. In July 1936, the civil war erupted onto the streets of Toledo, heralded by the arrival in the city of Communist militiamen from Madrid. With no one to defend them, the priests, monks, and nuns fell prey to the hatred of their adversaries. The seventeen monks from the Carmelite monastery were rounded up, herded on to the street and shot. Campbell discovered their murdered bodies, left lying where they fell. He also discovered the bodies of other priests lying in the narrow street where the priests had been murdered. Swarms of flies surrounded their bodies, and scrawled in their blood on the wall was written, 'Thus strikes the CHEKA.'"
Campbell later immortalized the incident in his poem The Carmelites of Toledo.

Eventually returning to England, Campbell concentrated on his work completing his autobiographical, 'Light on a Dark Horse' and also translating much of  the mystical writings of St john of the Cross. He soon returned to Spain, however, where he took an active part in supporting the Nationalist cause.
During the Second World War he had a varied army career hampered by an injury to his hip incurred during training. He served in the Intelligience Corps in what was then British East Africa (Kenya) and in the aftermath returned to Oxford where the whole family were looked after by leading Catholic writers, Bernard and Barbara Wall. He also became a great friend of Tolkien's who actually based one of his earlier hobbit characters on Campbell.

In 1952 the family moved to Portugal and Campbell began lecturing in the United States. He became intensely fond of America and the American people.
He died in a car accident in Portugal on 22nd April 1957.

May God have mercy on his soul - he was a larger than life character with many flaws but his good  points and his gusto for life overcame them all.

His poetry reflects well his tempestuous and wild character, here is 'Horses on the Camargue'

In the grey wastes of dread,
The haunt of shattered gulls where nothing moves
But in a shroud of silence like the dead,
I heard a sudden harmony of hooves,
And, turning, saw afar
A hundred snowy horses unconfined,
The silver runaways of Neptune's car
Racing, spray-curled, like waves before the wind.
Sons of the Mistral, fleet
As him with whose strong gusts they love to flee,
Who shod the flying thunders on their feet
And plumed them with the snortings of the sea;
Theirs is no earthly breed
Who only haunts the verges of the earth
And only on the sea's salt herbage feed-
Surely the great white breakers gave them birth.
For when for years a slave,
A horse of the Camargue, in alien lands,
Should catch some far-off fragrance of the wave
Carried far inland from this native sands,
Many have told the tale
Of how in fury, foaming at the rein,
He hurls his rider; and with lifted tail,
With coal-red eyes and catarcating mane,
Heading his course for home,
Though sixty foreign leagues before him sweep,
Will never rest until he breathes the foam
And hears the native thunder of the deep.
And when the great gusts rise
And lash their anger on these arid coasts,
When the scared gulls career with mournful cries
And whirl across the waste like driven ghosts;
When hail and fire converge,
The only souls to which they strike no pain
Are the white crested fillies of the surge
And the white horses of the windy plain.
Then in their strength and pride
The stallions of the wilderness rejoice;
They feel their Master's trident in their side,
And high and shrill they answer to his voice.
With white tails smoking free,
Long streaming manes, and arching necks, they show
Their kinship to their sisters of the sea-
And forward hurl their thunderbolts of snow.
Still out of hardship bred,
Spirits of power and beauty and delight
Have ever on such frugal pasture fed
And loved to course with tempests through the night.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Bill Oddie on the Burka - a must read!

Now this will throw you! I mean Bill Oddie the Catholic Herald journalist (not the grumpy and eccentric birdwatcher, despite my last post) and blogger who has an excellent piece on why we SHOULD ban the burka. His post contains reference to an article that appeared in The Daily Telegraph last week by Allison Pearson and she has some very poignant observations to make.
As I am steering clear of controversy all I shall do is point you towards Mr Oddie's blog.


The common or garden goldfinch is featured a great deal in paintings of the Madonna and Christ Child and there are several accounts of its importance in terms of Good Friday. The most common legend has it that a goldfinch alighted on the cross and tried to remove thorns from the head of Christ with its beak (hence the bird has a face stained with the blood of Christ). Then again, the bird appears, as above, with the infant Christ as a prophetic symbol of what is to come.
The British Goldfinch and its Siberian cousin are basically the same, a quite gaudy bird with feathers in black, brown, red, white and yellow. Readers from the USA have, I believe, a species that is yellow and black.

Photo: Wikipedia
They are one of my favourite breeds of bird and we have at least 8 pairs that come to take the niger seed from our feeders...this is getting a bit Fr Zish!
Please note: I am being good this week and not posting on controversial issues, in fact, not posting too much really, the approach of Good Friday is something that I always find rather sombre.

Thomas Tichborne, priest and martyr

Tyburn was busy on April 20th 1602. At least three great priests won their crowns that day; Fr Thomas Tichborne, Fr Robert Watkinson and Fr Francis Page.

Father Tichborne belonged to an old Hampshire Catholic family and went to Rheims to study in 1584 and then on to Rome in 1587.
Returning to England to take up his priestly duties he was quickly arrested and thrown into prison.
A daring rescue by Thomas Hackshot and Fr Tichborne's cousin, Nicholas, resulted in an attack on his jailer as he was transferring the prisoner. The jailer was knocked to the ground and Fr Tichborne was freed.
Both Thomas Hackshot and Nicholas Tichborne were soon apprehended and endured unspeakable tortures before being executed on 20th August 1601.

Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Chideock Dorset
Fr Tichborne remained at large until he met an apostate priest by the name of Atkinson in the street. Recognising him, Atkinson shouted out: "Stop the priest" to which Fr Tichborne responded with absolute truth and aplomb: "I am no more a priest than yourself".

On 20th April 1602 he suffered hanging drawing and quartering at Tyburn with his two brother priests.
Fr Atkinson was able to celebrate Mass in his cell on the day of execution and eyewitnesses state that about his head shone a 'bright light like a ray of glory'. This lasted from the consecration until communion.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Halliday Sutherland - the man who fought Marie Stopes in court and finally won!


June 24th 1882 - April 19th 1960

Halliday Sutherland was a learned medical Doctor, a great traveller and travel writer and, above all else, a defender of the faith.
In the early twenties, close on the heels of the Suffragette movement and the 'liberation' of women, one Marie Charlotte Carmichael Stopes was establishing herself as an authority on women's health and, most especially issues concerning sex. She opened her first Family Planning Clinic in 1921 in Holloway, North London.

Both the Catholic Church and the Church of England launched an attack on Stopes but it fell to Halliday Sutherland to make the main assault in his book 'Birth Control: A Statement of Christian Doctrine Against the Neo-Malthusians.'
The book carried a passage that Marie Stopes and her legal team were able to fasten upon:

 "Exposing the Poor to Experiment.

"Secondly, the ordinary decent instincts of the poor are against these practices, and indeed they have used them less than any other class. But, owing to their poverty, lack of learning and helplessness, the poor are the natural victims of those who seek to make experiments on their fellows.
In the midst of a London slum, a woman, who is a Doctor of  German philosophy (Munich), has opened a Birth Control Clinic, where working women are instructed in a method of contraception described by Professor McIlroy as 'The most harmful method of which I have had experience'
(Proceedings of the Medico-Legal Society, July 7th 1921.

Sutherland went on to slate the Government of the day stating: "It is truly amazing that this monstrous campaign of Birth Control should be tolerated by the Home Secretary, Charles Bradlaugh was condemned to jail for a  less serious crime"
Photo: BBC
Dr Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes took the case to the libel court and, after a battle involving some of the top lawyers of the time, she lost the case but immediately went to appeal whereupon the decision was overturned and victory was hers.
Sutherland, being a gritty Highlander was not given to losing and he took the case to The House of Lords and won.

He married Muriel Fitzpatrick in 1920 and the couple had five sons and one daughter. One son was killed in the war and one (Richard More Sutherland RIP) became a priest in Westminster Diocese and a personal friend of mine.

He was an authority on tuberculosis and built up a reputation for his medical knowledge, his wit and his writings that included a series of books. The most famous was 'Arches of the Years' but, in 'A Time to Keep' he covers a pilgrimage to Lourdes and makes several interesting insights on St Bernadette and Our Lady.
In 1954 he was made Knight Commander of the Order of Isobel the Catholic and was presented with the Pope John XXI medal in 1955.
Marie Stopes, when writing about the case some years later described him as:
"The most cocksure man in the British Empire"

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen

Monday, 18 April 2011


Or, in your office, on your work station, on the tea trolley, put one anywhere (respectable, that is) and show that you are proud of your faith.

64 year old electrician, Colin Atkinson has a palm cross on the dashboard of his company van and now faces a disciplinary hearing because of it. Is it perhaps a health and safety issue? does not obscure anything but it DOES reveal shows that he is a follower of Jesus Christ and that appears to be something that his employers will not stand for despite the fact that his boss, by the name of Mr Doody (change your name man!) has a Che Guevara poster on his office wall. Now, to say that I am rather opposed to Che Guevara is something of an understatement. His bearded face looks out from just about every student bedroom but few seem bothered by the fact that, among his many misdemeanours, this thug machine gunned some 300 men women and children in a brutal act of murder most foul.
I am not familiar with Mr Atkinson's company premises but, if I know electricians, I would wager that a few walls will also have the odd saucy calendar or porno pin-ups decorating it.

Of course, that's all OK....but when it comes to a palm cross in your van or wearing a crucifix chain...then it's you for the high jump!

So maybe we Catholics should fight back and show some solidarity with Mr A. You do see one or two cars with a rosary hanging from the rear view mirror however, I don't think that is particularly good. But a rosary or small crucifix discreetly bluetacked to the dashboard might be a habit worth cultivating.

Or a "Tenner" slipped over an indicator switch (my preferred mode) is also good, one does not need to be blatant about it.
That does provide me with one headache, however, do you think that a four foot high statue of St Therese de Lisieux is a bit OTT?

A small sacrifice for Passion Week

Pray this week for the sufferings,
mental and physical, of all our priests

The book that I ordered, Priest-Workman in Germany by Henri Perrin SJ has arrived and every page is a joy to read.
I still have not had time to learn fully about Fr Perrin but I plan to set aside an hour or two each day to read this account of his suffering in a number of prisons.

The title "Workman Priest" I found quite offputting as I am sure it relates to the priest worker movement in France where priests take up factory jobs alongside the workers. Personally, I like the concept of priests that is generally accepted, that of being 'other Christs' ministering to our spiritual and pastoral needs in all locations; the home, the church and, maybe occasionally in the workplace but not being at one with their fellow men in the sense that they operate the lathes and the foundries - their hands have more important work.

Here is Father Perrin's small sacrifice:-

"...My Great Retreat continued. For a week I had been giving my whole mind to the Passion of Christ. At Jerusalem, as I knelt on the flagstones of Lithostrotos, where Jesus spent the first hours of Good Friday, I had been profoundly moved. How much more so now, at the thought of the hours He spent in prison. But he was there only a few hours, and if I dare say so, He had no time to get to know it well.
It was marvellous to think that He could call on men thus to make up what was lacking in His Passion.
During my long hours of silence, I saw Him in His cell, in the midst of other prisoners. For He "did time" too, and so many others after Him, from Peter to Joan of Arc, from Paul to St Louis. This would henceforward be a bond creating a special ans unforgettable love.
However, I passed long hours in His company - sometimes in my cell, sometimes in His prison, that cellar of Caiphas' house which has apparently been identified not far from the Upper Room. I often wondered what He can have said to the other prisoners _ for indded He must have talked to them. 
He who was as able to console the wretched as to silence the Pharisees.

Yesterday I had followed the way of the cross with Him. Here, it all became amazingly vivid. We saw a little Russian, all in rags, terribly thin and quite filthy, coming out of the next cell while they were cleaning ours; the guard knocked him down with a blow because he wasn't going fast enough. I needed to look no farther for Christ falling under the cross - He was carrying on Our Lord's Passion far more than I, and I could not get his picture out of my imagination......I saved a packet of fruit pate for him from my parcel to give him at the next opportunity....." 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A lost battle but the moral high ground belongs to the Vaughan Parents

Westminster Diocese issued a press release following its win in the court last week over the Cardinal Vaughan Action Group who were fighting to keep the school Catholic in the sense of its admissions policy.

This release does not square with the CVAG account of things so they have produced their own account.....You may read Westminster's in its entirety on For some reason it would not copy and paste onto this post.


The Diocese of Westminster displayed a statement concerning the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School on its website today, Thursday 14 April. The statement contained serious inaccuracies in some places and was misleading in others:

DIOCESAN ALLEGATION 1: The Court of Appeal has clarified the law relating to the appointment of Foundation Governors to the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School.

VPAG RESPONSE: all three Appeal Judges made the point strongly that the wording of the Instrument of Government dealing with the appointment of Foundation Governors is NOT clear, and the fact that the three judges interpreted it differently demonstrates this lack of clarity. The VPAG will lobby Michael Gove to clarify this point.

DIOCESAN ALLEGATION 2: We regret the wasteful court action brought against the Archbishop of Westminster by a number of parents associated with the Vaughan Parents Action Group.VPAG RESPONSE: the court action was NOT brought by parents associated with the VPAG, or by the VPAG itself. It was bought by the school’s Parent Governors, who were gravely concerned about the way the Diocese had manipulated the Governing Body. The VPAG was formed some considerable time after the court action was begun.

The funds for the Parent Governors’ action were raised by voluntary donations from parents, pupils and friends of the school. The Diocese’s legal funding came from lay Catholics across the Diocese.

DIOCESAN ALLEGATION 3: It is important to note that the ‘Vaughan Parents’ Action Group’ is not supported by the School. It is not to be confused with the Vaughan Parents’ Association, which is the recognised parents’ association. Rather it is a campaign whose leaders include two former Governors of the school and the former Headmaster.
VPAG RESPONSE: the VPAG is a properly-constituted sub-committee of the VPA and enjoys the overwhelming support of the school’s parents and pupils.  Staff are employed by the Governing Body, the majority of whose members are appointed by the Diocese; they are in no position to express an opinion one way or the other. Over 1500 people recently signed a petition supporting the VPAG’s aims and opposing the Diocese’s actions, and around 1000 people have attended two prayer vigils organised by the VPAG in support of the school and opposing the Diocese’s behaviour. The former Headmaster and ONE former Governor are patrons, not leaders of the VPAG.

DIOCESAN ALLEGATION 4: (the judgment)… means that at least two Foundation Governors must either be parents if (sic) current or former pupils of the school, or have children of or below compulsory school age.

VPAG RESPONSE: this is contrary to how the Instrument of Government was outlined on the Diocese’s own website last year (at the time of the controversial appointments). THE DIOCESE HAS SINCE REMOVED THE PRINCIPLES OF CASCADING QUALIFICATION FROM ITS WEBSITE, AND THIS HAS SERIOUS IMPLICATIONS FOR ALL VOLUNTARY-AIDED SCHOOLS. If this ruling is enforced, malign trustees can use the same loophole the Diocese of Westminster has exploited in order to avoid appointing parents of current pupils as Foundation Governors – in effect they can appoint anyone they like as long as they have school-age children.

DIOCESAN ALLEGATION 5: Current parents will continue to be fully represented on the Governing Body of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School as elected parent governors.
VPAG RESPONSE: parents will not be “fully represented”. The school will have to continue without any Foundation Governors with children at the school, despite the intention of Government to ensure that at least two FG’s are current parents. As long as the Diocese-appointed Foundation Governors enjoy a majority of 11 to 9 on the Governing Body, the five Parent Governors have little or no chance of winning important votes. This is why the VPAG was formed: to push for full and proper representation of the parents of current pupils. We will lobby to close the loophole that the Diocese has exploited to load the Foundation with its own ‘placemen’ and continue to oppose the Diocese’s attempts to dilute the Catholic ethos and make fundamental and damaging changes to the school.

Finally, we would also point to this statement by Appeal Judge Sir Richard Buxton, who supported the Parent Governors’ case:

“With appropriate deference, none of the matters reviewed in paragraphs 18-29 deflect me from the conclusion reached in paragraph 16 above. On the true construction of the legislation the failure to continue the term of the two Foundation Governors who were current parents, and the appointment in September 2010 of the new governors, has resulted in the overall constitution of the Governing body not complying with the law, as it does not contain two Foundation Governors who have been shown to have been at the date of their appointment eligible for election or appointment as Parent Governors.”

The VPAG, and the school’s parents and all its supporters, will continue to protest at the actions of the Diocese of Westminster, and will continue a very public and open campaign, including letters and emails of protest to the Vatican.

We will not be moved.

For more information visit

Palm Sunday would not be complete without......

                                                     THE DONKEY

When fishes flew and forests walked
    And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
    Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
    And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
    On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
    Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
    I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
    One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
    And palms before my feet.

G K Chesterton

Saturday, 16 April 2011


Dachau Prison where over 6,000 Catholic
Priests were tortured and executed

Palm Sunday 1944 and, as the Second World War grinds to a finale a Catholic priest, French Jesuit Fr Henri Perrin, celebrates Mass in secret, fearful of discovery and punishment, not just for himself but for those other Catholics taking part.
This scene must have been repeated in concentration camps spread across Europe. In Dachau alone it is believed that over 6,000 priests gave their lives for the faith.
The following is an extract from Fr Perrin's book 'Priest workman in Germany'.....

"…..round five a.m. I said Mass. I did not want to do it in the evening lest the warder should make a late round and find me. At about four-thirty, I woke Raymond who was sleeping on the table, and then Marcel and Remy, who had asked to take part. No one else had shown any wish to do so in the evening – they had come in late and tired, and were going off again at
 half - past seven in the morning.
It was much better not to force them to attend a Mass unwillingly; anyhow, alas they would not understand. From their beds which were set up in a circle round the table, they could see the light, and follow me if they wanted to.
Everything was ready. Three handkerchiefs for a cloth; another one, which was quite new, served for a corporal, lying on top of the enamelled tin cup which was to contain the Precious Blood. A candle lit the German text from which I read a passage from St Paul, and one from St Luke. And there were the bread, the water and the wine.

‘In the name of the Father….’ Marcel and Remy could only follow me with memories of long ago, and I recited the psalm alone, and was the only one to make the public confession at the beginning of Mass. At the final Kyrie Marcel remembered what he ought to answer. But when I held the sacrifice between my fingers, I was holding up to God in complete faith the lives of all the men sleeping round me. In an absence of emotion I still find, without the least sentimentality, but simply looking to God in faith, I offered to our Father from the bottom of my heart all the suffering of the prison, and the gloom of all the poor wretches sleeping under its roof; I offered it through Christ, for the forgiveness of all the omissions and sins of men, for the salvation of the world.
The others were all asleep but the whole Church was beside me. At Gethsemane the Apostles slept and these were my ‘Apostles.’

A Pole got up, like an animal forced by instinct, to go to the W.C. six feet away from me. He didn’t realise that it was not a suitable thing to do….luckily our ideas of decency and indecency had little in common with God’s. We might be scandalized by this man’s behaviour, but we ourselves had often come to the sacrifice with our hearts full of bitterness, and that is incomparably worse. The flesh of our hearts is putrid and filthy, says St Ignatius, and that is why we need the purifying and strengthening flesh of Christ. ‘Body of Christ save me….’ I was alone in this ‘communion’ but through the Body of Christ I was in communion with the whole Church and with all my brethren – in this room, in this prison, in all our growing Christian communities……Mass was over.
Raymond had not gone, but sat in his corner watching what I did. As he came past me, he just said: ‘Your Mass is pretty terrific’. And that was all.
In deep silence I watched the windows whitening with the dawn, the dawn of Palm Sunday".

I do not know which prison Fr Perrin was in ( I will find out as I have ordered his book) but, in Dachau, Priests were given the most arduous roles. Their day commenced at 3.30am when they rose and prepared the breakfast meal for the whole camp. Afterwards they were set to work as "horses" pulling heavy carts and moving provisions and gear around until it was time to prepare the evening meal. Finally, after all prisoners were fed and all cleared away, the priests were free to rest but this only meant a few hours sleep before the same routine began again the following day.


It had to happen, a Soho Pub Landlord looks likely to be at the receiving end of a great deal of unwelcome attention from the homosexual lobby because he removed two men from his pub. Their offence? Well, they were kissing passionately in the bar.

Photo: BBC
The offending (and offensive) couple
Because I am of a rather cynical nature I believe that this affair has all the hallmarks of a set-up job following on from the Christian Bed and Breakfast couple who were taken to court for refusing rooms to homosexuals. I am quite certain that this case will end up in court. The reaction of London's 'gay' community is to threaten to invade the pub and stage a massive "kiss in" and this appears to have the approval of Conservative MP Alan Duncan who claims that it is an appropriate way of expressing disapproval.

Now I do not wish to turn this post into a outraged of Tunbridge Wells type rant but I am in full agreement with the landlord. As far as I am  aware, a Publican has the authority to remove whomsoever he chooses from his premises (within the framework of the law) as, essentially, the pub is also his own home and he has a right to approve, or not, of what goes on there.

Let's face it, Soho is full of homosexual pubs where, I guess, consenting males could kiss to their heart's delight; personally, I go to a pub for a pint and a bit of rustic conversation but, hey, it takes all kinds.

The issue is, were they in breach of any law? Of course not. But then how does one guard against this type of behaviour?
Naturist beaches are places to avoid especially if you have young children with you but kissing may apparently take place anytime, anywhere.
I have a feeling that this is another 'pushing out the boundaries' exercise and, before long we will not be able to enter a pub without tripping over men kissing men - yuck!

The answer may lie in the hands of those drinkers who enjoy their ale or
G & Ts in a normal atmosphere, is it possible that they might respond in an appropriate fashion when homosexual or heterosexual kissing takes place in the Dog and Duck?
I know they would in my local!