Thursday, 30 June 2011

Time for Novus Ordo Catholics to step up to the mark?

Fr Z's brick by brick philosophy is all well and good except that, in Great Britain it would appear as if the bricks are still in the ground in the form of clay - sticky, claggy and unmalleable, at present at any rate.

First, make your bricks - a slow
 process in England & Wales
Abuses continue to abound in Churches but, apparently, only in those where the Ordinary Form of Mass is celebrated. We don't do liturgical shenanigans in the Extraordinary Form.
The rather wonderful thing is that a large proportion (I estimate) of OF Catholics are as opposed and dismayed by such goings on as the Traditionals.
The trouble is, they labour under a heavy yoke of what they falsely believe is 'obedience'. For 'obedience' read 'do nothing'. Obedience in my book relates to conformity with Rome not to Father Jimmy and his hippy, hippy shake dance at the Offertory.

It seems to me that our OF Catholic brethren turn a blind eye to abuses in the fond hope that they will suddenly disappear. Instead, the bizarre antics become a routine until such time as accepted as the norm.
Back in the 1980s at the height of insurrection in Northern Ireland I had to travel to Belfast on business. My Protestant agent looked after me well showing me the sights (Falls and Shankill Roads) and we had a good pub meal somewhere. He insisted that the bombings and shootings were isolated occurrences that only happened in specific, contained areas and that the troubles did not affect the ordinary man in the street. He was telling me this as we left the pub and walked to his car whereupon he dropped on all fours to check to see if someone had planted a bomb under the vehicle. The bizarre had become so everyday that he had forgotten what was normal.

So what other abuses besides prancing around the sanctuary are there that OF Catholics might make a stand against?
Here are a few for starters, I am sure others might like to add to the list:-

1. Talking before and after Mass
2. Not genuflecting
3. Guitars, flutes and whistles used against the Holy Father's 
4. Kiss of peace where, instead of a manly handshake, people
    embrace, hug and generally behave in a silly fashion
5. Eucharistic Ministers of Holy Communion who give blessings to non
    Catholics presenting themselves at the altar rails
6. EMHCs who undertake the priestly duties of purification of vessels
7. Liturgy of the Word ceremonies
8. Turning the church into a coffee bar after Mass
9. Queuing for Holy Communion while chewing gum
10. Inappropriate dress
11. Ad libs from the priest during Mass
12. Extraneous bits of prayer and ritual added to the Mass
13. Use of a card table as an altar
14. Clapping at any time

I could go on.....but I shan't.
I am very grateful to some good friends with whom we had coffee yesterday. They step up to the mark, they inspired this post.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


60 years ago today, the Feast of St Peter and St Paul and the ordination, in Germany, of a young man, Joseph Ratzinger, later, much later, Cardinal Ratzinger and, finally, Vicar of Rome, Successor to St Peter, Pope Benedict XVI.

Here is some grainy footage of his ordination at Freising Cathedral on 29th June 1951, young Father Ratzinger may be seen by the sharp eyed during the reception of the sacrament of Holy Orders but is very clearly visible after five minutes as the priests process from the Cathedral.

                               Ss Peter & Paul Ora pro nobis!  

                          AD MULTO ANNOS SANCTE PATER!

Please note: Since writing this post I see that A Reluctant Sinner has an excellent piece covering the ordination to be seen here
And many thanks to Caroline Whatley for the link

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Why would a priest not wish to celebrate Mass everyday?

I have been following James Preece's posts on how Liturgy of the Word type ceremonies appear to becoming a normal part of Catholic worship, even to the point of usurping the Mass. One comment posed the question: "What is going on at Arundel Cathedral on Mondays?" so, without further ado I had a peek to see exactly what was what down in leafy Sussex.
The real Liturgy of the Word made Flesh!

Sure enough, there are no Monday Masses, just the good old Liturgy of the Word as per the web details:-

'Mondays 10am : Liturgy of the Word and Holy Communion in the Cathedral'

I have never been to a Liturgy of the Word ermm....ritual?......service (sounds a bit garagey)......observance...convention...routine (thank you Roget!) so I don't really know what goes on but I can make a shrewd guess.

The issue really is, why would a Cathedral of all places, with three priests on site, have a day without Mass? Is it because they have celebrated a few over the weekend (Masses, I mean) and think that they can take a break on Mondays? Why would any priest worth his salt wish to give up an opportunity to say Mass; to be in such intimate contact with Christ?
It's beyond me. I decided to do an instant market research exercise to see how many other Cathedrals have gone down this road; I interrogated about 6 of their website before ennui set in.
Only one offered a LoW service and that was for save the little dears from being isolated and distanced at Mass (yuk!)
Three guesses which Cathedral it was......South of begins with P........Mr Inwood in residence.......yup, it was Portsmouth!

Here is how they try to justify what I believe is a grave and foolish error...

Why have a separate Liturgy of the Word with Children?
The Directory on Children’s Masses (1973) reminds us that we need to ensure that children at Mass ‘do not feel neglected because of their inability to participate or to understand what happens and what is proclaimed in the celebration’ (para17). The Directory therefore suggests the celebration of a separate Liturgy of the Word with the Children (LOWC) in another place so that children are enabled to listen and respond to the Word of God in a way which is appropriate for them.

Liturgy, not catechesis
LOWC is part of Mass, the Liturgy of the Word in simplified form. During it, children are given opportunities to hear and respond to the Word of God in ways which are suited to their age and ability. LOWC is a celebration of the Word of God, not a teaching session, sacramental preparation class or a crèche. ‘The final purpose of all liturgical and eucharistic formation must be a greater and greater conformity to the gospel in the daily life of the children’ (Directory for Masses with Children para 15).

What complete and utter tosh! I feel quite nauseous, so sorry to inflict it upon you, dear reader. I recall reading one of Mulier Fortis's posts from her recent pilgrimage to Lourdes. In it Mac recounted how Fr Tim Finigan gave a running commentary to children attending a 'catechetical' Mass whilst another priest celebrated it.
This seems so very sound and sensible. How on earth are children going to love the Mass if they are separated from it? How are adults going to for that matter?

And that is what the LoW does; it separates one from the truth; it makes the need to attend Mass less is, in reality, quite a Protestant type of solution to a perceived 'problem', it ain't Catholic!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Government blows a hole in Archbishop's plan for the Vaughan

Essex Peer
Lord Lexden
The House of Lords, thanks to a fairly new peer, Lord Lexden (Alistair Cooke as was) has come out in support of the Cardinal Vaughan Parents' Action Group and stated that it is the right of parents to appoint Foundation Governors, not the Diocese of Westminster.
Here is the full story from the Save the Vaughan website:

"We are delighted to announce that the Government has intervened to help us in our campaign to appoint current parents in the school as Foundation Governors.
We believe that the Catholic Diocese of Westminster has, in effect, gerrymandered the Governing Body by refusing to appoint parents of children in the school as Foundation Governors and filling it with placemen instead. We have always maintained this is against the law. One judge in the Court of Appeal strongly upheld our view, but the other two said the Diocese's interpretation that "parent foundation governors" in the regulations did not have to be Cardinal Vaughan parents, was lawful. Following this split decision, we asked for the government to intervene.   
Our request was backed in the House of Lords (June 14) by Lord Lexden, - a patron of the Cardinal Vaughan Parents' Action Group. He said clarification of the law was needed to protect parents' choice and rights. In his speech during the second reading of the Education Bill, Lord Lexden said this:
vigilance is needed in protecting choice and rights which parents have long enjoyed. I have recently drawn one specific cause of concern to the attention of my noble friend the Minister in my role as a patron of a campaign organised by parents of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London. Parents with children at the school are being denied their proper role on its governing body by the Roman Catholic diocesan authorities. This is a case which has implications for all 4,000 voluntary-aided schools in England. The law needs to be clarified. I hope that, either in Committee or through some other means, the Government will be able to set out their view.
Now the education minister, Lord Hill, in a letter to Lord Lexden, says he intends to amend the school governance regulations The effect of this amendment will be to remove all doubt that the requirement on appointing bodies to include 'parents' as Foundation Governors means parents of children currently in the school, except where none is available to serve. A consultation period on the implementation of the amendment will begin at the start of the Autumn term.
The Diocese has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep Vaughan parents off the Governing Body and so shut them out from crucial decisions on the future of this outstanding school. The Archbishop and his advisers have shamelessly exploited an apparent loophole in the law. We don't understand why the Diocese has been at such pains to exclude us, but we believe that it has in mind changes to Cardinal Vaughan which no parent there would want.
We welcome Lord Hill's intervention as a breakthrough for parents’ rights. We would like to thank our patrons for their invaluable support and encouragement.
But our work is not over.
This development represents a very important step for our campaign. But the law will not come into effect straight away. 
For this reason we ask you now to appeal respectfully to Archbishop Nichols to appoint two current parent foundation governors immediately - before the appointment of a new Head in the Autumn. It is essential that everyone has confidence that the Governing Body is correctly constituted before it undertakes this most important task. Archbishop Nichols has the power to do this. He is clearly, in our view, morally obliged to do it. Please help us to make sure that he does it.
The Archbishop can be contacted by email at or by post at Archbishop’s House, Ambrosden Avenue, London SW1P 1QJ.
We would be interested to see copies of your letter and any replies you receive.
We will be posting more important news, in the next few days".

If the Archbishop wishes to salvage something out of this wreck he should quit now and back down gracefully; he would engender a deal of respect as a result.

Story also featured by Damian Thompson.

The Papal blessing for stroppy journalists

Papal wit but which Pope?

This story has been attributed to several Popes but I believe that it was Pope Pius XII who was the Pontiff concerned. However, since starting this post I see that the story has several quite distinct versions. Here's my one.

A very anti Papal, anti Catholic journalist (possibly from the Bitter Pill?) attended a Papal Audience and very provocatively asked the Holy Father for his blessing.

Without changing pace Pope Pius blessed him using the words:

"Ab illo benedicaris + in cuius honore cremaberis. Amen"

Which, is the blessing reserved for incense and in English it reads.....

"Be ye blessed by Him + in whose honour thou art to burn. Amen"

Sunday, 26 June 2011

With 200 hundred priests like this man we could bring Europe back to the Faith!

Let me first do a little scene setting for those of you unfamiliar with this Italian priest. First of all he is fictional (sadly). Secondly, he lived (if a character in a book can be said to have 'lived') in post war Italy and never ever set foot in Great Britain. Thirdly, he has characteristics that, perhaps are part of all of us. He is a passionate defender of the faith, he gets things wrong occasionally, he converses with the crucified Christ, he is a shade hot tempered and liable to bash his opponents about the ears and, deep down he loves his enemies. But, above all else, he loves the crucified Christ.

He battles daily with the devil (mainly in the stylised form of Communist Mayor Peppone) who is really someone whom he loves as one of Christ's own (Peppone that is, not the devil). This is post war Italy, still a country split by violent factions, ex Partisans, Reds, Christian Politicos and even a few fascists still lying around all contribute to a volatile existence for a country parish priest.

But Don Camillo, aided by the Lord on the cross, bashes his way to keeping the faith uppermost in people's minds. In this clip he is about to lead a procession for the annual blessing of the River Po when he learns that the communist mob, led by Peppone, is out to wreak havoc on his parishioners and his plans.
What does he do? He does not cancel the procession, he sends the altar servers and his parishioners home to safety. He is a good shepherd.

And then he realises that he has to undertake the procession alone, except for the crucified Christ. The symbolism is heavy here. He picks up the cross and commences the slow march to the river......the rest you may see for yourself!

This form of action is what we lack today. But then, of course, one could argue that we in the western world at least, are not called to fight our corner in the way that Don Camillo had to except.......maybe we are; not with flailing fists but with reasoned logic and a fearless approach to standing up to an authority that wishes to destroy life in the womb, dispose of the homeless, aged and incapacitated and fragment the family unit.
I find strong comparisons between Don Camillo and our blogging priests who, metaphorically, at least, are not afraid to knock a few heads together!

* The Don Camillo series is written by Giovanni Guareschi. Several films were made in the 1950s starring Fernandel as Don Camillo, an inspired choice.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Am I a nasty Catholic?

No, don't answer that one! It is purely rhetorical. It's just that Shadowlands has spoken out against traditionalists (I think) who criticise Charismatics (although as far as I am aware there is nothing  in Left Footer's post about 'Nasty Catholics' that mentions Charismatics).
I don't think that there is anything wrong with criticism; it's when the boundaries between humour and nastiness get blurred that people start to get edgy. One man's satire is another man's poison maybe.

 I enjoy satire and I even enjoy jokes about traditional Catholics; that's very much a part of Catholic culture, one that we share with the Jews also. It is not a bad thing to be able to laugh at oneself from time to time; and to also laugh at things that irritate. Without that freedom we become politically imbalanced, prudish and precious. We need to puncture certain balloons occasionally, without that freedom lies the road to insanity!

So, here goes......

"Last week I couldn't even spell Charismatic and now I are one!"

Friday, 24 June 2011

Extraordinary! Beautiful! Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi

Thursday 23rd June and Swansea Cathedral, probably for the first time in 40 plus years, witnessed a Sung Mass on the Feast of Corpus Christi with a congregation estimated to be in the region of 75 plus.

"The most beautiful thing this side of Heaven..."

Celebrant was Father Jason Jones, Parish Priest of nearby Sacred Heart, Morriston and three other priests attended. All who were able to kneel, knelt to receive Holy Communion and ALL received by mouth.

The choir, from the Newcastle Emlyn Schola, sang in a manner that must have sent a few of the heavenly host into a green mood and afterwards, a full procession with young girls strewing rose petals in the path of The Blessed Sacrament. Traditional Corpus Christi hymns were sung throughout the procession and the finale was a rousing 'Faith of Our Fathers'.

Swansea Cathedral, not big but well attended
for the Feast of Corpus Christi

For many in the congregation it was the first time that they had attended an Extraordinary Form of Mass and the response afterwards paid tribute to the immense reverence that is invoked at such Masses.

For my sins I was MC which, in my case stands for 'Muddler of Ceremonies'. I blame (of course) the fact that such wonderful Masses are still pretty infrequent down here in West Wales and that a bit more practice would bring me a shade nearer perfection. All on the sanctuary was saved by my fellow servers Corey, Patrick and Seamus who were impeccable in their performance.
The Cathedral aisles could not accommodate
a canopy

At present there is talk about the Charismatic Movement on several blogs. I defy anyone who, after witnessing last night's Mass, would think that holding hands, swaying to the rhythm or clapping at the Consecration was anything but crass irreverence and that true adoration can only be achieved in full at an EF Mass.

We left immediately after Mass and could not stay for the 'bunfight' which is such a feature of Catholic post Mass celebrations. I know that Bridgend parish had one also.

On the way home we were treated to the spectacle, for a few seconds, of a setting sun; just an orb of fiery red in the night sky, like a host on fire. It seemed a very fitting and appropriate end to a memorable evening.

The Birth of St John the Baptist!

Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight all his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, And the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways smooth. (Luke 3, 4-6.)

The birth of St John the Baptist
 Today we celebrate the birth of this great saint and cousin to Our Lord. What a  man he must have been; strong willed, tough, determined, far seeing....just the qualities we would wish to find in a Catholic Bishop today, and, of course, he was a martyr for the cause. But, today we celebrate his nativity.

 O God who hast made this an honoured day for us by the birth of Saint John: bestow upon Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and guide the hearts of all Thy faithful into the way of eternal salvation.

William Drummond 1585-1649

The last and greatest Herald of Heaven’s King

Girt with rough skins, hies to the deserts wild,

Among that savage brood the woods forth bring,

Which he more harmless found than man, and mild.

His food was locusts, and what there doth spring,
With honey that from virgin hives distill’d;

Parch’d body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing

Made him appear, long since from earth exiled.

There burst he forth: All ye whose hopes rely

On God, with me amidst these deserts mourn,
Repent, repent, and from old errors turn!

—Who listen’d to his voice, obey’d his cry?

  Only the echoes, which he made relent,

  Rung from their flinty caves, Repent! Repent!

Thursday, 23 June 2011


St Ambrose

"You say perhaps, 'This is ordinary bread'. But this bread is bread before the sacramental words; directly the consecration occurs the bread is changed into the Body of Christ. We must therefore prove this. How can what is bread become the Body of Christ?
By what words is the consecration effected and whose words are they?
They are the words of the Lord Jesus. Indeed all the rest that is said before is said by the priest: praise is offered to God, prayers are made for the people, for kings and for all others. But when it comes to effecting this wonderful sacrament the priest no longer uses his own words but those of Christ.
It is Christ's word, therefore, that effects this sacrament."

4th Century

Sing forth, O Sion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy Shepherd-King,
In hymns and canticles divine;
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.

To-day no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays –
The living, life-dispensing food –
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.

Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.

Within our new King's banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.

Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine;
And lo – a Host of saving power.

This faith to Christian men is given –
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature's powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e'er discerned.

Concealed beneath the twofold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored:
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood
In each, one undivided Lord.

Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne'er wastes away.

The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin.
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal life. See how one food
Man's joy or woe accomplisheth.

We break the Sacrament; but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold;
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides:
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie;
'Tis but the sight that meets the eye;
The hidden deep reality
In all its fulness still abides.

Behold the bread of angels, sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The bread for God's true children meant,
That may not unto dogs be given;
Oft in the olden types foreshowed;
In Isaac on the altar bowed,
And in the ancient paschal food,
And in the manna sent from heaven.

Come then, good Shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine;
So we may see thy glories shine
In fields of immortality;

O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present good, our future rest,
Come, make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine, and comrades blest
With saints whose dwelling is with thee.
Amen. Alleluia.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ten events I would like to see in the Catholic Church

1. The Holy Father to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of Mass

2. The Bishops of England and Wales to establish a training programme for
    priests to learn how to say the old Mass in conjunction with the Latin Mass

3. The full development of the National Shrine of Wales (Our Lady of the
    Taper) as a focus for Welsh and all other Catholics on a par with

4. The Archbishop of Westminster to celebrate an Extraordinary Form of Mass
    on the Feast of the Holy Cross - September 14th, anniversary of Summorum

5. A return to kneeling and reception on the tongue

6. All Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to be disbanded

7. Altar girls to be transferred to a special branch of The Legion of Mary

8. All folk Masses and the use of flutes, recorders, guitars, skiffle boards etc

9. Unity between Rome and Econe

10. Clerical dress for priests (black suit and white collar) to become the rule

Rome wants please do it for the Feast of Corpus Christi

And ever afterwards. I am referring, of course, to the reception of the Body of Christ on the tongue and kneeling.

The Bishops of England and Wales may say one thing but the message from Rome and the Holy Father is loud and clear - "do it"

My thanks to Fr Simon Henry for his excellent post on the subject which you may read at Offerimus Tibi Domine

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Corpus Christi at Swansea Cathedral

This Thursday, 23rd June at 7pm, Sung Mass and Procession at St Joseph's Cathedral, Swansea....

The Choir of the National Shrine of Wales, celebrant, Father Jason Jones

Photo source: Godzdogz


Fr Z has posted a chilling four word message on his blog...."The Devil is abroad." 

We know, of course, that the devil is always abroad but I think that Fr Z means that he is abroad in an extraordinary way right now. Priests and Bishops are under attack, the Holy Father is under attack and the Church is being persecuted in a good old fashioned medieval style throughout the world. But it is our clergy who are so very vulnerable. If you wish to destroy a priest, it's easy. Just one allegation and phut! that's the end of a priestly vocation and the chance of a fat wad of cash for the accuser. There have been many genuine cases of priestly abuse but, I am sure, that equally, many have been false, trumped up charges. It is hard to distinguish between the lie and the truth. Sadly, it is often our best and most prominent priests who face the challenge of an unjust accusation and it must be a constant, nagging fear for them.

 Avoiding situations where one might be alone with a female parishioner or a minor, walking into deliberate traps set by the perverse, reported to the Bishop for carrying out their duties diligently. The priest's lot is not a happy one right now. They need our prayers more than ever, offer a Rosary or even a decade to the cause. Pray daily to Our Lady that she will place her foot on the neck of Satan and break him in his attempt to ruin the lives of our priests. The prayer below is actually meant for priests to say in order to secure their own protection from the devil but, I am sure, it will be equally effective if said on behalf of a priest. Say it whenever possible, expecially for our blogging Fathers!

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost

Most glorious Prince of the heavenly
Armies, Saint Michael the Archangel, defend
us in “our battle against principalities and
powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness,
against the spirits of wickedness in the high
places” (Ephes., VI, l2). Come to the assistance of
men who God has created to His likeness and
whom He has redeemed at a great price from the
tyranny of the devil. Holy Church venerates thee
as her guardian and protector; to thee, the Lord has
entrusted the souls of the redeemed to be led into
heaven. Pray therefore the God of Peace to crush
Satan beneath our feet, that he may no longer retain
men captive and do injury to the Church. Offer our
prayers to the Most High that without cry come
 unto Thee.
V. May the Lord be with thee.

God of Heaven, God of Earth, God of Angels, God of Archangels, God of Patriarchs, God of Prophets, God of Apostles, God of Martyrs, God of Confessors, God of Virgins, God Who has power to give life after death and rest after work, because there is no other God than Thee and there can be no other, for Thou art the Creator of all things, visible and invisible, of whose Reign there shall be no end. We humbly prostrate ourselves before Thy Glorious Majesty and we beseech Thee to deliver us by Thy Power from all the tyranny of the infernal spirits, from their snares, their lies and their furious wickedness; deign, O' Lord, to grant us Thy powerful protection and to keep us safe and sound. We beseech Thee through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

From the snares of the devil,
All: Deliver us O Lord.

 Grant that Thy Church may serve Thee in secure liberty
All: We beseech Thee, hear us.

Deign to crush down the enemies of the Holy Church, 
 All: We beseech Thee, hear us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us

Monday, 20 June 2011

Our Lady Vanishes

No this is not a remake of that old film, good as it was, starring Angela Lansbury. This concerns OUR Lady...or, to be more precise, Our Lady of the Taper - the statue that is the focal point for the National Shrine of Wales.
Our Lady of the Taper - Ora pro nobis
Our Lady of the Taper - Where are you?

The statue normally resides in the shrine which is at a side altar in the distinctly 70s retro shed church in North Road, Cardigan. Without the statue there is nothing....except an empty plinth which, according to reliable sources now hosts a Ronnie Corbett sized version of the statue.

Where has Our Lady gone to? Does anyone know? No parishioner has been informed. What happens if you happen to be a pilgrim en route through the lovely Welsh countryside in a quest to give honour to the Mother of God at the National Shrine no less? You will arrive to see a pygmy sized replica sitting on a massive plinth. The authentic shrine statue has vanished.

Has the statue been stolen? Are we witnessing a modern miracle? Is Our Lady trying to tell us something about the way she is treated at the National Shrine?

Nope. I think she has gone walkabout to visit other parishes in Wales.

 You can just see this happening at Walsingham or Lourdes or Fatima can't you?
Pilgrims arrive to find the source of their visual inspiration gone! Out of sight....gone away.....not there.

I believe that Bishop Stack* has taken up his new role as Archbishop of Cardiff today. Perhaps he can find Our Lady for us!
* As reported by Whispers in the Loggia, Ecumenical Diablog and
A Reluctant Sinner

Bring her back to her throne in Cardigan - pdq!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Is the Age of Chivalry dead or has it just changed?

Hold a door open for a woman today and you are quite likely to get a snarl in return. Give up your seat to a female on the tube and you are immediately a suspect rapist. Men are having a hard time of being chivalrous in today's world!

The somewhat dated image of chivalry.....

Most sources list the origins of chivalry back to the time of the Crusades and the word itself comes from the French chevaliere - normally taken to be a horseman of noble birth. A knight, in other words. And now all the images of maidens in distress being rescued by burly young men on horseback spring to mind.
I am sure that these roots are accurate, except for one thing. From where did the need for chivalry arise? Why should men have adopted a lifestyle aimed at being virtuous and protective of women (amongst other things)?
I have always been led to believe that it stems from love and respect for the Mother of God. Our Lady personifies womanhood. She, alone is unique in the world as being chosen to be both the Immaculate Conception and the Mother of Our Lord and so, all mankind. All women, therefore, are blessed by the grace of Mary and that is why we honour them with courtesy, not because of this 'fairest sex' nonsense.
Medieval knights (and Crusaders) adopted this approach of courtesy and protection to all women out of love and respect for the Blessed Mother. Of course, the 'woman' element must not get out of proportion; in many respects those choosing the chivalry road also adopted a religious rule, much like a tertiary order member might today.

So, typically, a Code of Chivalry emerged along the following lines:-

To fear God and maintain His Church
To serve the liege lord in valour and faith
To protect the weak and defenceless
To give succour to widows and orphans
To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
To live by honour and for glory
To despise pecuniary reward
To fight for the welfare of all
To obey those placed in authority
To guard the honour of fellow knights
To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
To keep faith
At all times to speak the truth
To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
To respect the honour of women
Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
Never to turn the back upon the foe

Not a bad set of ideals to live and die by.

Now I have two instances to relate; the first, came as a result of most of my career being spent in the education sector. Holding a door open for a woman lecturer one day she snapped at me: "Are you doing this just because I'm a woman?" To which I replied: "Not at all, I'd do the same thing if you were a man". And I meant every word of that statement. That is why we should not get too hung up on chivalry just being about a regard for women; it is a set of Christian principles which we should apply ourselves to.

Always accept the offer of a seat from a beautiful girl!

My second incident occurred just a few weeks ago when I was in London to attend the inaugral meeting of the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma.
I was standing on a crowded tube train when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Turning around I found myself face to face with a vision of loveliness; a young woman with a radiant smile and a truly beautiful countenance.
My joy was shortlived as she said to me: "Would you like my seat?". Totally crushed my first reaction was to disdainfully reject her kind offer. I then realised that one must accept chivalry when it is offered; to have spurned the offer would have been just too rude. So, swallowing my pride I accepted gracefully. And that proved to me that chivalry is not the province of the male sex alone; Christian love is a two way street!

And now, some answers to the quiz......................

1. Jezebel  2. 18  3. The pipe organ  4. 'Penance'  5. St John  6. 266 
7. Beheaded   8. A recess to accommodate holy oils  9. St Monica 
10. A letter from a bishop to his priests  11. Jesus fell as recorded at those stations  12. Feed the hungry  13. A kneeler for prayer  14. Scallop shell
15. Witness   16. The two natures of Jesus Christ (divine and human) combined in the one person.  17. Oliver Plunkett   18. Skullcap 
19. St Jerome   20. 1962

Congratulations to all who made the attempt, sorry, no silver teapots!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

The tragedy of Fr Corapi

I am not going to make any comment regarding the Fr Corapi issue other than to say that is both tragic and immensely sad.

I try to measure it against a priestly anniversary party held recently in a Diocese I know of. It was for a priest who had, some years previously, fled his parish overnight and returned to his native Ireland rather than have the police press alleged charges against him regarding importuning for young men in a public lavatory. Within a couple of years he was back in the Diocese, admittedly in a non contact role and there he remains, celebrating I don't know how many years of priesthood.

Of one thing I am sure. The devil strikes those whom we love and respect the most. Prayers are needed.

CRITICAL PURSUIT! - a little diversion for the weekend

Here is the Catholic Pub Quiz, edition uno........if you wish to test just how knowledgeable you are about the faith....just go for it.
Answers will be featured on Sunday.

Good Providence!

  1. Who was eaten by dogs in the Old Testament?   

  1. How many books of the Prophets are there in the Old Testament?                                      

  1. According to Vatican II which instrument is to be held in high esteem at Mass?                                 

  1. At Fatima in 1917 what word did the Angel cry out to the children three times?                          

  1. Who was the last Apostle to die?                   

  1. How many popes have there been?                 

  1. How was St Paul martyred?                       

  1. What is an aumbry?                 

  1. Who was the mother of St Augustine?             

  1. What is an Ad Clerum?                   

  1. What do the 3rd, 7th and 9th stations of the cross have in common?                                       

  1. What is the first corporal work of mercy?    

  1. What is a pre dieu?                              

  1. What did pilgrims en route to Compostela historically carry with them?                                    

  1. What does the word Martyr mean in its Greek original?     

  1. What is meant by the phrase hypostatic union? 

  1. Which martyred bishop has his feast on July 1st ?

  1. What is a zucchetto?      

  1. Which Saint translated the Vulgate version of the bible in the 4th century?                                

  1. In which year did Vatican II commence?                 

Friday, 17 June 2011

The grumpy saint

It has been stated of quite a few saints that they were, how shall I put it delicately?.......less than warm hearted?........not one of nature's chucklers?.....downright bad tempered?

Father Vincent McNabb OP
 8th July 1868 - 17th June 1943

Father Vincent McNabb OP., whose anniversary it is today, was one such man (his cause for canonisation is a work in progress as they say). I hasten to add that I never met this great man, he died long(ish) before I was born, but I had a great Dominican Friar friend (Fr Donald Proudman OP) who regaled me with stories of Fr McNabb and his notoriety, certainly within the community, of being a shade grumpy - a grouch is how they might put it in the USA.

But grumpiness, in this instance, was part of his spirituality. Fr McNabb had his mind set on God; not just for a few hours each day in front of a crucifix or the Blessed Sacrament, but a full on 16 or 17 hours of his being awake was dedicated to deep meditation on the Almighty. If a fellow monk passed him in the cloisters, Fr McNabb would respond testily to any greeting or approach of any kind. I wonder what form that took? I doubt it would have been along the lines of "Push off four eyes and leave me alone!" More like a grunt of disapproval at being interrupted; a harumph or growl like noise designed to keep further conversation at bay. After all, it was interrupting a conversation with God Almighty; who would not issue a harumph or two if faced with an inane "Morning Father" from some young novice when you were deep in a debate with the Lord.

Monsignor Ronald Knox once said of Fr McNabb:
 "Father Vincent is the only person I have ever known about whom I have felt, and said more than once, 'He gives you some idea of what a saint must be like.' There was a kind of light about his presence which didn't seem to be quite of this world."

This extract from Catholic Authors...

"Father McNabb was born in 1868 in Portaferry, County Down, Ireland, within a few miles of the rock that covers the bones of St. Patrick. "My father," wrote Father McNabb, "was a master 'Mariner' (to give him his noble title) and my mother, a dressmaker." Vincent, who was proud he was the seventh son and the tenth of eleven children, spent his schooldays at the diocesan seminary of St. Malachy's College, Belfast. When asked by the editor of The Catholic Times to lend assistance to Ireland during one of the last crises, Father McNabb wrote in his scalpel-like way that both peoples alike, the people of England and the people of Ireland have been martyred by the same imperious few. He said that he loved Ireland like a mother and England like a wife".

His great friend, GK Chesterton wrote of him: 'Nobody who ever met or saw or heard Father McNabb has ever forgotten him." That statement was certainly true of his period as an orator at Hyde Park's Speakers Corner on a Sunday afternoon. Those were the days of emerging communism in Great Britain and Fr Vincent was adept at cutting down to size any red who had the temerity to heckle from the safety of the crowd.

In 1913 he embarked on a successful lecture tour of the States and just four years later he was rewarded by the Master of Divine Theology degree. He taught, from 1929 to 1934 at the London University Extension where his subject was the Summa of St Thomas.
He wrote over thirty books including 'Where believers may doubt', 'The decrees of the Vatican Council' and 'Eleven Thank God!' an account of  his Catholic  mother and upbringing.

Fr McNabb held somewhat unorthodox beliefs regarding the social and economic structre, he abhorred technology and yearned for a countryside that could produce food and clothing with a high level of employment and a quality of life for all - not a bad philosophy at all and well summed up by this comment from him:-

"Buy boots you can walk in. Walk in them. Even if you lessen the income of the General Omnibus Company, or your family doctor; you will discover the human foot. On discovering it, your joy will be as great as if you had invented it. But this joy is the greatest, because no human invention even of Mr. Ford or Mr. Marconi is within a mile of a foot." 

Faced with an oncoming death he said:

 "I don't see why I should make a tragedy of this; ­ it's what I have been preparing for all my life. I am in the hands of my doctors, ­ or better, in the hands of my God."


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

This prayer is one of many composed by the great man.....


                       Lord Jesus Save Me

"Lord Jesus, the one whom Thou lovest is sick" (Jn 11:3).
The one whom Thou lovest is strayed.
I have lost Thee.
I cannot find Thee.
Find me.
Seek me.
I cannot find Thee.
I have lost my way.
Thou art the Way.
Find me, or I am utterly lost.
Thou lovest me.
I do not know if I love Thee;
but I know Thou lovest me.
I do not plead my love, but Thine.
I do not plead my strength, but Thine.
I do not plead my deed, but Thine.
The one whom Thou lovest is sick.
I dare not say:
The one who loves Thee is sick.
My sickness is that I do not love Thee.
That is the source of my sickness which is approaching death.
I am sinking.
Raise me.
Come to me upon the waters.
Lord Jesus, "the one whom Thou lovest is sick."