Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Another Catholic School in peril - Coloma.....Southwark's "Vaughan"

EF Pastor Emeritus, good priest blogger that he is, posted on the Coloma Convent Girls' School issue earlier this month, you may read the post here

I particularly liked EFPE's comment:

   "Maybe Catholic Schools should discriminate, in favour of the Faith, and should be supported by Bishops and Archbishops. I have long-standing doubts about the actions of  school commissions whether in Southwark or Westminster. Time and time again the Church seems to be surrendering long fought for rights originally recognised in th 1944 Schools Education  Act.  I saw the same thing happen with Hospitals and warned over 20 years ago of what would happen if we did not insist on our Legal rights. Now we are faced with Chaplains given fewer rights and Catholics having to INSIST that their religion be recorded when they enter hospital AND that the Catholic chaplain be notified.
I sometimes despair at the level of ignorance which appears to exist amongst the hierarchy. Mind you, I think they would very quickly be educated if the Catholics in the pew kept their hands firmly closed and joined  (in prayer) when the second collection for Catholic Education is being taken. Even in the Church, money speaks, as does its absence!"

It is looking more and more as if Southwark Diocese under Archbishop Peter Smith, is trying to do a "Westminster" ie control the school absolutely as Archbishop Nichols tried to do with Cardinal Vaughan School.

Why, oh why do they always go for the decent, principled Catholic Schools and let ones like Bonus Pastor with its explicit sex ed programme go free?

Here is the report from the local newspaper 'Croydon Today' comment in blue....
                 ​CRITICISED:   Coloma Convent Girl's School's head teacher Maureen Martin, whose institution has been criticised for its 'unfair' admissions code
           Coloma Convent Girl's School's head teacher Maureen Martin

The school awards maximum points to potential students baptised within six months of birth, with two points given to any child after 18 months.
The parent said the policy was "unfair" and broke the School Admissions Code. Coloma's admissions policy was also described as "unclear and discriminatory" by the diocese, which criticised the decision to award points for involvement in "church activities".
Rated "outstanding" following its last Ofsted inspection in October 2009, the school, in Upper Shirley Road, is one of Croydon's most respected and oversubscribed schools.
When its September 2012 admissions policy came up for review the only two objectors were the parent and the diocese.
The diocese said families who could not provide evidence were being discouraged from applying to the school, adding that the policy was particularly unfair to single parents. (But, the Church insists on a Baptism Certificate being produced if you wish to be Confirmed or Married)

The parent said Coloma was wrong to use Canon Law, which states families "are obliged to take care that infants are baptised in the first few weeks", and that early baptism only reflects commitment to Catholicism at the time, not 11 years on.

Schools Adjudicator Dr Bryan Slater cited a previous adjudication which, the school said, had shown the priority given to the date of baptism did not contravene the School Admissions Code, though at the time the diocese had made it clear that it did not support the measure.
Dr Slater said in his report that the school's rationale behind awarding points for early baptism and involvement in parish life is that the alternative, distance from the school, would lead admissions to be "dominated" by those able to afford to live nearby, contradicting Coloma's inclusive ethos.
Dr Slater upheld the complaints, with the report stating the social mix of the school was already unrepresentative of the area it was in
He said: "I am unconvinced the school is able to justify its reasons for departing from diocesan guidance in employing the oversubscription criteria. I agree with both objectors that there is potential for unfairness."
Dr Slater said he had given "very careful consideration" as to whether to change the school's admission arrangements.
He added: "I am mindful that parents have only until the end of October to make their expressions of preference, and that it would be unreasonable at this juncture to ask them to do so on an altered basis.
"Accordingly, but with some reluctance, I think it is now too late to amend the arrangements for 2012-13."

Coloma refused to comment.

How do you evangelise a Zombie?

I have worked, during most of my career with young people aged from 16 years of age up to 24 and beyond. They came from all sorts of backgrounds and had all sorts of beliefs or none at all.

A third of them were excellent students, well behaved and diligent. Another third were just there; they existed, they scraped through their assignments and they finally passed through the system (I can identify with that sector, I was like that in my time so don’t give up hope on them  completely).

The final third are the walking dead; some College staff referred to them as “the knuckledraggers” – what unkind person could have used that phrase?
But, it was true. They grunted at times, they were, largely, unwashed, they could not actually string a sentence together and they could not hold a knife and fork.
 They could not tell you who Churchill was let alone Jesus Christ.

Amazing but true.

The problem is, of course, that these are the children of the latch key kids generation.
Their parents came home after school (if they ever went there) to an empty house, not a home.

Food came from the freezer and was microwaved to an instantly edible mush. It was consumed in front of the television (porn videos from under dad’s side of the bed?) and it was eaten using only the fingers. Easier and it saved on the washing up.

If you think that I am painting a damning picture, you are right. But it is also true. And this is the next, evolved generation. The generation that are adept at playing computer games for 12 hours at a stretch, the generation that has lost the art of communication.

Now as Catholics we have a mission in life to lead others to Christ. Not in a Jehovary sort of way, that is crass. Not in a Protestant TV  evangelical sort of way, they wouldn’t watch it. And certainly not in a happy clappy, cheery wavy, Catholic charismatic sort of way. That way only fools the charismatics.

The Holy Father has charged the Bishops to evangelise in 2012 but I’ll bet you a meal for two at McDonalds that no attempt will be made to make contact with the massive numbers, possibly hundreds of thousands that I speak of.

Why? Because it’s hard. Because the number of clergy the Church has that are versed in communicating with young dissidents does not run into double figures, because the ideas cupboard is bare; not only bare, the Bishops have forgotten that it ever existed!

We need new ideas, new ways of approaching this group. They are so tragic, sleepwalking to Hell. They need saving.

But who will save them?

And more to the point – how will they be saved?

Watch this space for some attempt at answering this troubling situation in a few days time.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

It may be too soon in Advent for a Gaudate...

....but here is one anyway

It lightens the economic gloom and focuses our minds on what is to come - that is more important than world financial crisis, global warming and even Bishops!

Gaudete! one and all!

Have the guts to nail your colours to the mast!

Perhaps I got out of bed the wrong side this morning or, maybe it's a winter thing, deprivation of sunlight etc.

 We get a lot of that in Pembrokeshire from November to March each year.

 And, each year I renew my vow to go and live in a beach hovel on Ithaca and eat grilled snapper or mountain goat all washed down with  rough red wine; and say my Rosary to the lonely can see the state I'm in, but, actually, today it is anonymous commentators that have provoked my bile.

Also, those who make their comments using a pseudonym, just as bad if not worse.

         If you are 'Anonymous' or 'Cub' please take this off before commenting

They are hiding behind a mask; one that they have assumed on a whim. They adopt names such as "Cub" or Exprodcatholic" (please note that I am using pseudonyms for those using gets even more complicated from here on!) But, I have no wish to encourage these 'beings' to comment on this post, in fact, I wish to actively discourage them full stop.

If you have a view it is not an unreasonable expectation that you would have the courage to put your name behind it.

It follows, also, that if you are a Catholic you would have the courage to speak up for the faith when it is called for.

Or do you, at the meeting of the Parish fuehrers, slip a mask over your face when you wish to say something that you know will provoke their ire. Like "Whatever happened to the communion rails?" or "Why has someone placed that horrible bunch of flowers on the head of the statue of Our Lady?"

Perhaps these anonymous types and their nom de web counterparts just say nothing and let the matter go, it's so much easier than putting one's identity to something.

Enough of this droning on.......suffice to say that all, reasonable comment is welcome on this blog but to those who wish to hide their identity, please go and, how can I put this in a Catholic manner?

Shove off!  Phew, that took all of my powers of restraint!

Note: This does not apply to those bloggers who use a pseudonym but whose identity is well known and available within the blog profile information. 

Monday, 28 November 2011

A little Advent plainchant to lighten the gloom

To Thee before the close of day. Creator of the world we pray.......Te lucis ante Terminum....

Inculturation......"but not as we know it Jim!"

The "inculturation" word has been bandied around quite a bit recently, including a few times on this blog when I posted on the issue of an 'African Mass'.

But what, precisely, do we mean when we use the word?

Do we mean an acceptance of a degree of local culture that is not, ordinarily, strictly in line with Catholic teaching?

 Morris Men - would they be an acceptable
part of the liturgy?

I am thinking here of the Chinese example when, allowances were made by the 17th century Jesuit missionaries, for the Chinese practice of  veneration of relics of ancestors to be incorporated into the faith.

Soon afterwards, this bending of  beliefs was rescinded by Rome and, ever since then, it has gone to and fro, mainly in accord with how the Pope at the time viewed such a practice.

This example is a sensitive one; many western Catholics have keepsakes of parents and grandparents tucked away somewhere.
Does the problem begin to materialise if you build a shrine in the corner of the sitting room and put locks of Grandmama's hair within?

Or, is it more a liturgical may pray for the soul of your ancestor but not get involved, to any degree, in worshipping the mortal remains (naturally).

It is quite a leap from this sort of debate to then describe the congregation doing an African (or Chinese for that matter) dance during Holy Mass as being part of the 'inculturation' process.

Is it right to permit deviations in the liturgy according to local custom or culture? "Yes, yes, of course!" (I can see the comments in the combox now) but I believe that this form of inculturation is wrong, for the following reasons.

The Mass is the Mass is the Mass (here he goes again you say). It should be the same Mass whether you attend in Amsterdam or Honolulu, apart from the obvious change in languages. But, of course, it's not.
A couple of years ago I wandered into an Amsterdam Church during an OF Mass and my expectations as to what I would witness were not at all disappointed inasmuch that it was all terribly informal and (apparently) ad libby.
The priest ignored the altar and carried out all of his duties, at a green baize card table centre stage.
I had no idea of where we were in the Mass and then, a few days later I repeated the exercise in Istanbul and was similarly confounded, or, is it kebabbed?

At this stage I have to mention the Latin Mass in its Extraordinary Form but, I'll keep it brief as we all know the points regarding its universality.

Some people obviously believe that it is asking too much of a Ugandan Swahili speaker to contort their tongue and their inclinations  in accepting the quiet, soulful delivery that is an integral part of the Extraordinary Form of Mass.

Patronising? Almost certainly.

For years Africans, Indonesians, Brazilians and even English men and women accepted the Mass in Latin and without question. Why now must we bend so that we have a Mass in Erse or Urdu? And, even worse, why should we have to accept limbo dancers or weird liturgical perversions in the process?

This inculteration business carries its own form of inverted political correctness with it.
They ( 'they' being those who like the concept) apparently approve of it only when it involves native peoples performing folk dances up the aisles and across the sanctuary.

They do not seem to have thought this through. If it's acceptable for black Zimbabweans to do it - why not white English Morris men or, (Heaven forfend), The Michael Flatley River Dance Club from Ballydehob to go a leppin' and a stampin' across all and sundry.

It is tempting to go further with the analogies but, for all of your sakes, I shall hold it there.

My point really is that inculturation (if that is what it must be called) is OK up to a point.
That point is perhaps best illustrated by the Missa Luba recordings that hark back to the 1960s.

The first was an African rendering of the Tridentine Latin Mass sung (mainly in Latin) by a Congolese choir, they coped with the Latin easily enough, as did five year old boys - I was one.

 If you have not heard it before, listen and see if you believe that it is acceptable.

And there it ends. No dancing, no non Christian rituals, no hats on the menfolk, no animal sacrifices at the Offertory.....just an African people worshipping God using their style of music...better still had it all been in Latin!

That's my take on inculturation for you!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Is there a trend emerging in the film industry?

There are films that have recently premiered and some more that are on the way and all of them have the same theme, Catholic faith and victory, of a temporal sort.

Cristiada........soon to be released, set in Mexico in the 1920s

The available from Amazon at around £8.99 and well worth every penny...set in France and Spain

and now, courtesy of Fr Bede Rowe's blog, news of another film due for release January 2012......War in the Vendee....set, of course, in France.
The Vendee was the region that suffered most in the wake of the French Revolution. Catholics were massacred and put to death in most foul ways.
Here is a clip from the film....

ADVENT COMES.............

Saturday, 26 November 2011

It's official! the Holy Father approves!

Yes, Pope Benedict drinks Reverend James bitter! The above picture shows him when he was Cardinal Ratzinger (but a mole in the Vatican informs me that a draycart (beer delivery truck) makes a weekly call to the Vatican and drops off a keg of the ambrosial brew). So, now the Pope drinks Rev James bitter!

Now I can honestly* claim that the Holy Father and I share the same taste in good ale** -  Amazing.

* Definitions may vary

** Any member of the Brains Cardiff Brewery Marketing team who wishes to make a handsome donation in folding money to the LOTH Fund  should send me an email.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The man who has done more to keep the Latin Mass alive in England and Wales...

...more, in fact, than any single person over the past 40 plus years.

Not a Pope, not a Bishop, not, even a Monsignor, he is, a humble priest. The most humble of priests who asks to be described as being "Nothing really, totally unimportant except as a servant of God"

He was given the accolade in the headline when attending a wedding at the London Oratory some two years ago. After the Nuptial Mass this priest stood quietly to one side as the guests spilled out and photographs were duly taken, when an Oratory Father approached him and said:

"Father I just want to thank you for the wonderful work you have done over the years in keeping the Mass alive in this country. You have done more than anyone and we all owe you an enormous debt of gratitude".

The man he was addressing was none other than Father Peter Lessiter, once of Southwark Diocese and well known to many hundreds, if not thousands of Catholics around England and Wales.

God's humble servant- Father Peter Lessiter

In many respects, Father Lessiter is another St Jean Vianney - he mirrors this French patron of priests so very closely. He works among those most in need of the Latin Mass, he catechises the young, teaches the potential convert, baptises the infants, offers the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony to couples and yes, finally celebrates a Requiem Mass for them when they die.

And, like, the Cure of Ars, he takes the Sacrament of Penance to the needy and, at times, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction; travelling many hundreds of miles, often late at night in the process.

He is especially in demand from priests who are nearing death and who, in extremis, desire the traditional last rites despite having apparently accepted all the changes of modernism in the church during their priesthood.

How did this priest come to serve the Lord in such a manner?

We must go back to those confused and ugly days following the interventions of the 'periti' after Vatican II.

Fr Lessiter was a young priest, fresh from the seminary and going about his duties as a curate (we had them in those days) with vigour and integrity.

I remember those times and, in fact, was even a willing particpant in some of those changes, many were duped and fell under the spell of obedience to the Bishop at any cost.

But Fr Lessiter had made his vows to Almighty God, not to a Bishop and after eight years of attempting to reconcile his inherent belief in the teachings of Holy Mother Church he made the momentous decision to 'go it alone'.

There was never any element of wishing to abandon his vocation; Fr L is a man made of sterner stuff.
He resolved to place his trust in God and His Divine Son and to continue his mission in life, that of saving souls - surely the ambition of every priest.

He had spent eight years as curate at St Osmund's, Barnes and when he left in 1973 it must have been like stepping off a cliff. He launched himself out into a void and he knew not what would become of him. Whether he would starve or whether he would be abandoned by those who had professed support for him.

Those early years could not have been easy and Father chortles today when he recounts how so many people reviled him back then but are now saying to him: "Father, you were right after all"

He commenced his mission by travelling the country, taking the "outlawed" Latin Mass to the few faithful remaining. He travelled a circuit that would have exhausted many a lesser man. from London to Leicester, to Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Somerset, South Wales and beyond and then, the next week the same circuit again.

The 'Recusant' priest, celebrating the EF Mass
in homes, church halls, and makeshift chapels
Wherever he went he took his good humour and his love of Christ and His Church with him.
"We must pray for the priests and their Bishop's" he would say. "They are the innocent ones in need of our prayers".

And when things got rough as they so often did and his parishioners became bitter and twisted over the actions of a Bishop or priest he would tell them:
 "Don't get involved in the politics of the changes; go to Mass, receive Holy Communion and do your best to bring your children up in the Faith. That is all you can do as a good Catholic in these times. It will only drag you down if you become embroiled in the controversy".

He was called upon, on several occasions, to present himself before a Bishop and to give an account of his activities. Invariably, he would face not only the Bishop but a couple of his Monsignors also and then the interview would turn into an inquisition.

But Father L always remained cool and calm and answered all calumnies against him equably.

For a brief period he worked with the Society of St Pius X but soon withdrew because they had no concept of pastoral care; their priests would celebrate Mass and then take off for the next venue (they still tend to do this today). There is merit in this approach but they left a great many people cold behind them, 'no time for Confession, must dash!'

For the past ten years or so, Father Lessiter has lived in Axminster, one of the first bases for the Latin Mass post Vatican 2.

There he has built up an embryo order and  a small community around him, two nuns, a sizeable congregation and many lay workers scattered around England. The constitution for the order is a work in progress and, one day will be presented to the Bishop of Plymouth but, until then, he still tours the country albeit on a reduced circuit.

He is a little infirm these days but his spirit is still strong.

After a series of strokes, two years ago, he was found lying semi conscious, having collapsed in his cottage one evening and lying for 12 hours overnight with one side of his body against a blisteringly hot radiator.
Lying in hospital, semi delirious, he insisted, when visited by the two sisters, on saying Mass, albeit a 'dry' Mass.

He lay on his bed, eyes closed and word for word, went through the Latin of the Holy Mass and, at the Hanc igitur he brusquely told the sisters to "Kneel down the King of Kings is coming!".
Even unconscious, he knew his duty in life - to say the Mass and to lead his flock.

Over the years, he has taken great joy in counselling seminarians especially and many of the clergy still seek his good counsel today, including one or two of the hierarchy.

He has been chaplain to my family ever since we 'jumped off the cliff' and became followers of the 'Mass of all Time'.
In 1989 he paid us an initial visit in remote West Wales and he kept on coming as our children grew in the faith.
Every month or so, the house would be readied for Father's visit and, in time we converted a room in our old schoolhouse to become a dedicated chapel. It was the least we could do for the sake of Our Lord and His good servant Father Peter Lessiter.

In 2012 Fr Lessiter will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination.

Fr Lessiter and his community live totally on the charity of those whom he has loved and served over the years. He has not asked me to make this appeal but, if anyone would like to contribute to his good works please send a cheque payable to Father Peter Lessiter.

The Community of Our Lady of Victories,
Mount Carmel,
Lodge Lane,
Axminster, EX13 5RT

What can you buy for £680? could get a very good meal for six at The Ivy Restaurant....or a really well tailored suit.....or, maybe a weekend in Paris for two....

and what else?.....'t tell me, it's on the tip of my tongue......

......hang on.....I know! ........I know!......

             .....You can get a baby aborted!

Yes, a mere snip at £680....a life snuffed out and no questions asked.

H/T to Protect the Pope for the report on how the British Government shells out this sum to abortuaries for every child murdered in its mother's womb - what a society!

What's it to be?
Dinner for 6 or an abortion?

I like this post from Puff the Magic dragon

Never mind the associations that spring to mind from the name (I seem to recall a Danish couple, he bearded, she tres Scandinavian, singing the song gazing into each other's eyes, their names escape me).

The owner of the Puff the Magic Dragon blog has set up a meme, for want of a better word.

It is based on naming bloggers whom you have not met but would like to meet to have a drink with.

Here is my stab at it, though, truth to tell, there are so many great bloggers I have yet to meet that I am having difficulty in narrowing it down to four.

1. A blogger with whom I would like to go for a cup of coffee - Joyce

2. A blogger with whom I would like to invite for tea - Michael

3. A blogger with whom I would like to go out for a beer - James
4. A blogger with whom I would like to share a bottle of wine - Jane

The invited guests then make up their own lists if they so desire

I would also add Fr Ray, Fr Bede Rowe, Christine, Esther, Elise, John Whitehead, Gareth H, Charlie J, Clare, Patrick Button, Paul Smeaton, Brian, Ttony, Mary Regan, Bob, Ben, Ches, Chelliah, Breadgirl, Catawissa, Tony Layne .....and so many others to my list. But that's not allowed.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The German Bishops just don't get it!

I shall refrain from using any German expletives here (great though they are at releasing one's angst!).

But really, the German Bishops are a bunch of limited thinkers are they not?

First they invest Diocesan funds into shares of  Weltbild, a publishing house that allegedly (note the word, allegedly) publishes pornography - yes, really! Catholic Bishops backing porno mags!

And now, when the mist hits the fan and they are found out...what do they do?

Of course, they do what any upright, Catholic organisation would do, they burn the shares, destroy them, commit them to oblivion and deny any future ownership of them. Or, alternatively they sell them and give all proceeds to charity in reparation of their stupid or negligent actions in acquiring them in the first place.
Or, at the very least they give the proceeds from the shares to a charity before taking the original investment sum back into their portfolio.

But......and it's a big fat German but....they don't do that.

They sell heard correctly...they are selling them and taking the accrued profits and the share price and stuffing it back in their coffers. Unless, of course, they tell the world that this is not the case.

Was that a butterfly coughing again?

O tempora O mores!

291 and still counting!

A massive 'thank you' to all those who have responded to my request for a rosary (or Memorare) to be said for the intercession of Our Lady of the Taper at Cardigan, for the return of the Tridentine Latin Mass to this part of West Wales.

291 rosaries or equivalent have been pledged and these will be laid at the feet of Our Blessed Mother at Cardigan on Sunday 4th December at 3pm - the last Mass to be celebrated here at the National Shrine of Wales - stunning isn't it?

Surely the National Shrine should
have a regular Latin Mass?
Furthermore - the rosaries offered will form a spiritual bouquet that will be presented to the Bishop of Menevia, Bishop Thomas Burns for both his personal intentions and for the return of the Mass.

Brick by brick, rosary by rosary, the Mass will return - but, a few more rosaries would be much appreciated - please email 1 or whatever number you wish to donate (1 is good) to: or, leave a note in my comment box.

We, the members of The Confraternity of the Holy Cross, will have a Mass said for the intentions of all donors - thank you!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

It takes courage to stand in front of a firing squad....

...without a sign of fear. In fact, it takes more than courage, it takes above all else, faith. Especially if you stand with your back to a wall after refusing the customary blindfold and proclaim “Viva Cristo Rey!” in ringing tones.

Bl Miguel Pro whose
feast it is today, and
who died 23rd
November 1927
Two seconds later the volley of shots rings out and a martyr’s crown is won in the only way possible, by giving up one’s life for love of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world.

Miguel Pro was born in Mexico on 13th January 1891 and received the baptismal names of José Ramón Miguel Agustín.  His father was manager of a mine and young Miguel had ten siblings.

Life was relatively hard in the Pro household but Miguel showed, from an early age, a sincere sense of spirituality and a strong and mischievous sense of humour.

Dubbed ‘Miguelito’ and, when he was a little older, ‘Cocol,’ he played joke after joke on his brothers and sisters but never with any malice.

By 1911, Miguel had determined on a life dedicated to Christ, not an easy decision to take as Mexico was descending into one of the worst periods of persecutions of the faith since the Reformation. He joined the Jesuit order but within three years he had to flee with his fellow seminarians to California and then to Spain in order to continue his studies in peace and safety.
He was ordained in Belgium in 1925 and lost no time in returning to his beloved Mexico despite knowing full well the perils he faced under the persecutions instigated by the dictator, President Calles.

Immediately, he went underground to carry out his ministry. He travelled the country, hearing confessions, celebrating Holy Mass and taking the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and the infirm.
He had many narrow escapes; once when celebrating Mass in a house that was raided. Fr Pro donned a policeman’s outfit and  coolly walked out through the cordon, telling the officers on guard: "It's about time you caught that rascal Pro".

On another occasion, while being pursued, he took the arm of a startled young woman passing by, stuck a cigar in his teeth and engaged her in close conversation. The police raced past the couple leaving Fr Pro space in which to escape.

His daring and his dedication soon made him a legend, popping up on all sorts of occasions and in all sorts of disguises; he took on the mantle of a clerical Scarlet Pimpernel and the authorities put a price on his head. They wanted this man above all others.

The making of a martyr, captured on film

In the end they caught him along with his brother Roberto.
Fr Pro was taken out of the prison into the yard and put up against a wall. He took out his rosary and knelt in a brief prayer after refusing to be blindfolded. Standing, he held out his arms in the form of a cross’ and proclaimed “Viva Cristo Rey.”

The firing squad did their duty and an officer delivered a single shot to the body as a coup de gras.

This clip is from a film about Blessed Miguel Pro……keep the tissues handy!

                                PRAYER OF BLESSED MIGUEL PRO

Say this prayer if you are sick or troubled or…just say it anyway!

Does our life become, from day to day, more painful, oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish….I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith…. Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigour to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.

Bl Miguel Pro

Graham Greene wrote an account of Fr Pro in his excellent book 'The Lawless Roads'

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

It's altar girls again!

Apparently this topic is guaranteed to send one's visitor stats through the roof but, in my view it's more likely to lead to combox meltdown.

The priest is free to decide
against altar girls if he so wishes
Christine on Laudem Gloriae has linked on it but, cleverly avoided making a comment although, anyone who reads her blog knows which way the wind blows on LG.

The link leads to The Washington Post news report on Corpus Christi Parish Church in Loudon County where the Parish Priest has said "Enough" to female altar servers. Good for him!

I wish some strong soul would also say "Enough" to wrinklies on the sanctuary (me included, much as I love serving).
You see, in my little book of curmudgeonly prejudices, I believe that altar servers should be aged betwixt 5 and, say, 21.

Older servers have a great deal of wisdom to impart and they should continue to do this..but for Heaven's sake, leave the way clear for young men to shine.

I have yet to see a young altar server given any duty other than holding a candle or acting as boat boy (with the incense). That is pretty insulting to youth in my book.

I was taught to MC at the age of eleven* by a very enlightened Westminster priest called Father Bushey. Others of that age quickly followed and a pattern was set. The older servers were pensioned off; I know that sounds unkind but it's rather like having a wonderful church choir with a member or two who cannot find a note at any price. It would not be tolerated. They would be (kindly, one hopes) asked to man the Piety Stall or, whatever.

* Those who have seen me MC recently may be mystified why, having had so much experience, I am  fumbling and stumbling in my duties's an age thing Dear! And, I also blame V2 for lasering my memory into a stodge of grey porridge.

So, there we to upset both the pro girl camp and the revered oldie camp in one swift go!


Sunday, 20 November 2011

A tragedy unfolds.....join with us if you are able

If you cannot be physically present at the National Shrine of Wales on Sunday 4th December at 3pm, then please remember us in your prayers....we few, we unhappy few, we band of brothers and sisters.

What is the occasion?

Why so pale and grim?

It will be the last EF Mass to be celebrated in West Wales - the end of a brief era that came in like a lion after Summorum Pontificum and now, goes out like a....well it goes out with its head held high at least.

RIP in West Wales!

There will be a Missa Cantata sung by the excellent schola that grew in voice and stature after 14th September 2007 and I have no doubt that the faithful band of brothers and sisters, the lay members of the Confraternity of the Holy Cross and members of the LMS will turn out in honour of Our Lady of the Taper.

After that date the nearest Mass will be around 70 miles distant, that may not sound too much, I am sure for those souls in Middlesborough, Portsmouth and elsewhere who have similar or even further distances to travel.
But it is a massive loss for those of us residing in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion.

How you can help us

Please pledge a rosary for the cause of the Tridentine Latin Mass returning to West Wales and, in particular, for the Mass to return to the shrine of Our Lady of the Taper - we do not need money, just a pledge of your prayers
Please send me an email just stating 1, 2 or however many rosaries you can afford.....send it to

The pledges will be placed at the feet of Our Lady of the Taper at the National Shrine of Wales, Cardigan on Sunday 4th December and then sent to our Bishop, Bishop Thomas Burns in the form of a spiritual bouquet and petition.

Wherever you are in the world, please add your rosaries to our list, thank you.

"Out of the depths I have cried to You O Lord...."

The Psalms seem very appropriate for the cause of the release of the Holy Souls.

They are plaintive, pleading and full of sorrow for our sins.

Halfway between Heaven and Hell - the life of a Celtic hermit

 St Govan and his chapel in the cliffs

Halfway down a cliff - hidden from Viking eyes!
 A number of accounts surround the origins and life of this saint of the early Catholic Church (not the Celtic Church as stated on the Pembrokeshire National Park literature).

The main elements and the common ones are as follows.

He came from Country Wexford in Ireland, he lived in the sixth century and he was an Abbot; that much, at least, seems to be pretty certain. He died in the year 586.

The entrance, 74 steps
down the cliff
In addition, we know that his name was Gobhan or Gobban which shows that he had some link with ironwork as a blacksmith, speculation is that his father was one. Other views range from the rather fanciful (that he was the Sir Gawain of Arthurian fame) or that he had travelled to Wales to meet with St David.
We shall not know the certainty in this world.

So here we have a single traveller monk; apparently then set upon by pirates from whom he hid in a fissure in the cliff face which then miraculously opened up and closed around him until said pirates had grown bored with their search and set off to undertake piratical duties elsewhere.

Overcome with a) gratitude or b) remorse at his ‘cowardice’ (you choose) the holy monk set up home on a damp and draughty cave adjacent to the fissure that had shielded him.

Crude but beautiful - a stone
holy water stoup
Here he lived the lonely existence of a hermit, eating the fish that he caught from the sea  below and, doubtless receiving some victuals from the peasant communities that he must have celebrated holy Mass for.

After his death (or, maybe before he died), it’s all a little vague, a stone chapel was erected over the site of his cave ‘cell’. Half way up or down the cliff, depending on how you views things; not high church, not low church but certainly Catholic Church.

St Govan's Well
A stone altar at one end (eastward facing naturally) a piscina and an ambry adjacent to the altar for the sacred vessels and water and wine cruets. The whole chapel measures, approximately 17 feet by 12 feet and, from a side window one looks out across the stormy Carmarthen Bay to Ireland and, beyond that Amerikay as my ancestors use to call it.

Looking west, to Ireland
and North America
Some thirty feet below the chapel is a stone arch half buried by rocks. Here was a well that served the holy man and, in time the water from  this well built up a reputation as a remedy for rheumatism (must have been endemic in those days) and from eye infections.

Some wonderful stories surround St Govan. There is one involving the chapel bell which was stolen by pirates – some things never change as, even today, church bells are in demand by the criminal element who then sell them for their scrap value. But back to the pirates. A group of angels (what is the collective noun for angels?)  descended upon on the pirates and retrieved the bell.
They returned to the chapel but, for safekeeping, they entombed the bell in a massive rock (now known as Bell Rock) alongside the chapel.
And ever after the saint would only have to strike the rock for the bell to sound at a volume estimated to be one thousand times louder than the original bell itself.

The crevice that saved him is still visible to the left hand side of the altar, and the sides of the fissure show rib like characteristics.  Legend says they are the imprints of St Govan's body as he lay concealed there.  Other legends say that if a person makes a wish and enters the fissure, and is able to turn himself around, his wish will be granted. That is, of course, not a Catholic legend.

For those who may wish to visit this unique chapel, they should head across the Severn Bridge from England into Wales and proceed, in a westerly direction until they reach Pembrokeshire. Then head for Bosherston, famous for its beautiful lily ponds, and the Ordnance Survey reference is SR967929.

Be prepared to descend some 74 uneven steps to reach the chapel and, even more prepared to ascend them afterwards!

The 74 steps......a penance coming back up!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Out of the depths....

De profundis from Solesme...but no guitars!

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice. De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: Dómine, exáudi vocem meam.
Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. Fiant aures tuae intendéntes: in vocem deprecationes meae.
If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? Si iniquitátes observaveris, Dómine: Dómine, quis sustinébit.
But there is forgiveness with Thee: because of Thy law I wait for Thee, O Lord. Quia apud te propitiátio est: et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Dómine.
My soul waiteth on His word: my soul hopeth in the Lord. Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
From the morning watch even until night let Israel hope in the Lord: A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: specret Israel in Dómino.
For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plentiful redemption. Quia apud Dóminum misericordia: et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
And He shall redeem Israel, from all their iniquities.Et ipse redimet Israel, ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.

Good priests are ignoring the requests of the Holy Father

I know of quite a few priests who do this routinely. In this equation the Bishops must also stand up to be counted although, in this instance, the power to obey the Pope lies firmly within the hands of the Parish Priest.

Back in 2006 the Holy Father made a statement concerning the secular music forms being presented at Masses around the world today.

He asked that full attention be given to abiding by the strictures of Vatican II that strongly stated that traditional plainchant and the organ should be the main base of church music.

Why, then is Pope Benedict's more than reasonable request being ignored?

I can only make a guess as to why and that is, the power of the parish council or, if there is a nun in charge of church liturgy, then, almost certainly, she will be the root cause.

The issue of church music is a touchy one. Some years ago when I attended the NO Mass I was asked to write a short piece for the parish mag.
I thoughtfully wrote a few hundred words that carried the heading "Heavy Metal or Choirs of Angels?"

It was a sensitive piece in my usual style (?) but it was promptly consigned to the round file never to appear again.

Parishioners want to be the arbiter as to what takes place musically at Mass and all too often the PP is afraid to stick his head over the parapet and say "No."

You may write your own caption to this one!

Yet the Holy Father has quite clearly said that he wants an end to guitar Masses and to modern 'unliturgical' music, while being fully in favour of modern music in church provided that it reflects the purpose of its use.

Here is the report from 2006 as it appeared in The Daily Telegraph..........

Silence modern music in church, says Pope

The Pope has demanded an end to electric guitars and modern music in church and a return to traditional choirs.
The Catholic Church has been experimenting with new ways of holding Mass to try to attract more people. The recital of Mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy; in Spain it has been set to flamenco music; and in the United States the Electric Prunes produced a "psychedelic" album called Mass in F Minor.
However, the use of guitars and tambourines has irritated the Pope, who loves classical music. "It is possible to modernise holy music," the Pope said, at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci the director of music at the Sistine Chapel. "But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."
His comments prompted the newspaper La Stampa to compare him with Pope Pius X, who denounced faddish classical and baroque compositions and reinstated Gregorian chants in 1903.
The Pope's supporters argue that the music played during Mass is a vital part of the communion between worshippers and God, and that medieval church music, with the liturgy, creates the correct ambience for perceiving God's mystery.


So just what part of "Don't do it" do parish priests not understand?

Friday, 18 November 2011

How about an African Mass..... leafy, (not jungly), Hertfordshire?

Oh, dear, not more nonsense from the Shires of Westminster?........

'Fraid so. I came across it by chance, just like Livingstone tripping over the
 source of the Nile*.
There was I, searching for a proper Mass for Christmas Day, and what should I find? - An African Mass (not, I think, on Christmas Day, but on a bi-monthly sort of a basis).

And, what is more, it is run by the AA. Whether that is the motorist's organisation or the boozer's one I am not sure but the African priest definitely has the letters "AA" after his name.

It all sounds such jolly fun, here is how the Diocesan website describes it:

"It incorporates African hymns and music, drums and dancing though the Mass setting is in English. All people welcome to come. The Mass is followed by a social so if you plan to come to that a plate of food would be very welcome".

O joy! How very uplifting it all sounds. But hang on one sec.....dancing? drums? Is that allowed? Not by the Holy Father all sounds rather bongo bongo to me.

And then there is the very African style of wording...all people welcome to come.......a plate of meat would be very welcome".
Do they mean that one is going to be ultra hungry after all that dancing and waving of knobkerries so be prepared for a good old blow out or do they mean, bring along a haunch of giraffe?

It's all very confusing and not to say just a little worrying. For a start there are over 2100 languages in Africa, is that why they have plumped for an "English setting". and what does that phrase mean?
Isn't it a bit like holding an "English Mass" in Masvingo and stating that the setting will be Zimbabwean? I mean, it all sounds a bit silly really.

Will the dancing be around maypoles a la morris dancer meets zulu style?

Unfortunately, I just cannot free up a bi-monthly Sunday to attend at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew in Hitchin (or Hitchinberg as it is now known) but I will say this prayer for them:
Baba Yetu uliye mbinguni,
Jina lako litukuzwe;
Ufalme wako ufike,
Utakalo lifanyike
Duniani kama mbinguni.
Utupe leo mkate wetu wa kila siku,
Utusamehe makosa yetu,
Kama nasi tunavyowasamehe waliotukosea.
Usitutie katika kishawishi,
Lakini utuopoe maovuni.

* Yes, I know that Livingstone fouled up on finding the Nile, call it Blogger's licence!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

A little night music....

Requiem....beautiful, atmospheric......and for those in Purgatory

Shopping for food, clothes or financial services?

Give these three major companies a miss.

Tesco Stores..........Nationwide Building Society........Benetton


Tescos are sponsoring a Gay March in 2012

Nationwide Building Society sponsored Stonewall who then, under the auspices of the sponsorship awarded the outstanding journalist, Melanie Phillips, the 'Bigot of the Year Award'

The 'China meets USA' version of the offensive ad.
Benetton has now withdrawn the version showing
Pope Benedict

and Benetton for running an ad with offensive copylines showing the Holy Father and a Muslim cleric in a faux kiss of peace.

Here is an excerpt from a report by Christian Voice, an Anglican organisation:

Christian Voice E-Alert – 15th November 2011
"As reported in the Christian Voice newsletter which was published on Saturday, the respected journalist Melanie Phillips was 'awarded' the title of 'Bigot of the Year' by the Stonewall homosexual lobby group in an event sponsored by Nationwide Building Society.
I was also shortlisted for the 'award' for my comments about Elton John's designer baby and for championing the right of African nations to keep sodomy as a criminal offence. Also shortlisted was Sir Brian Souter, Bill Walker MSP and Rt Rev Arthur Roche. Read the whole story HERE.
'Bigot of the Year' is an attempt to bully and humiliate someone in public life. Not one of those shortlisted was actually invited. Bullies hate it when their victims stand up to them, and Stonewall couldn't risk that".

Stephen Green, National Director

If you wish to email a comment to these companies, here are the relevant addresses:-

Tescos....................Phillip Clarke (CEO)

Benetton....................mark "FAO: Alessandro Benetton"

Nationwide.........Graham Beale (CEO)

We are still in November and 'they'...........

.....are still in Purgatory!

It surprises me just how many Catholics know nothing about Purgatory and, even, dismiss it as being part of the 'outdated' teachings of the Church.

I am not suggesting for one minute that readers of this blog fall into that category but they might like to send this video clip to any family members who have expressed doubts on what is infallible Church teaching.

Of course, we don't like to talk about Purgatory just as we do not like to talk about death but, if we get to Purgatory we will not have to face eternal death, only eternal life.
Better still if we can avoid Purgatory altogether and join the glorious faithful in Heaven.

And one way in which we may achieve this seemingly over ambitious aim is to follow the advice given by St James the Apostle who states:

"He who saves a soul, saves his own, and satisfies for a multitude of sins"

How do we do this? By praying for the Holy Souls, by offering up penances on their behalf and by propagating the faith.

A powerful prayer for the Holy Souls...pray it to 'empty Purgatory':

"Eternal Father I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Jesus, with all the Masses being said all over the world this day, for the Souls in Purgatory."

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Looking under stones and Padre Pio

It happened in his lifetime when he was accused and rejected and, of course, it was bound to happen after his death and canonisation.

An Italian journalist has done an investigation into the stigmata of the Saint and, in turning over stones, has dug up some murky alleged facts.

It is a sad fact that any journalist of any competency, and, most especially, Italian ones, can create a nuance out of innocence, weave a prejudice into a belief, distort the truth with half truths.

Damian Thompson has the full story and speculates that the real harm done by this latest accusation, will be the fall-out that will only add to the other snide cases made against the holy and not so holy.
I am thinking (as is Damian, I believe) of the Nazi slurs against Pope Pius XII (holy man) and the paedophilia scandals (not so holy men).

You may read his report here and then pause awhile to read Paul Priest's comments which are, as always, so very sound.

A Prayer
by Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
May Jesus comfort you
     in all your afflictions.
     May He sustain you in dangers,
     watch over you always with His grace,
     and indicate the safe path
     that leads to eternal salvation.
     And may He render you always
     dearer to His Divine Heart
     and always more worthy of Paradise.   

Thanks for the letter Tesco

Just received a response in reply to my complaint about Tesco sponsoring  the London March of Homosexuals in 2012.

It is, more or less, precisely the same letter as received by GM which I published recently. It tells me just how wonderful, kind and charitable the Tesco Group is and how 'delighted' they are to be able to shove £30000 towards World Pride 2012.

They state that they are an 'inclusive' organisation (yuck) and they claim to have given £64 million last year to to see a breakdown of that figure.

Anyway, I just thought you might like some help in making up your mind as to what you might be inclined to do about the good Joe 'n' Daisy's Tesco Group.

Here are my suggestions.............

That logo says it all...or you might like..............

Or, even........................

AND A CUNNING PLAN..................

If you feel moved to write to Tescos why not ask them to sponsor SPUC in 2012? After all, they are an inclusive company..........are they not?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Let's stamp on this lie now!

It is just not true but it is well on the way to becoming embedded in the Catholic pysche, so much so that a traditionalist priests actually related it to me quite recently and I was duty bound to correct him.

What is the lie?
               The Latin Mass took 6.8 seconds this morning!

That pre Vatican 2, when all was Latin and not a stain of the vernacular in sight, priests babbled through the Mass.

What? You mean they gabbled and babbled and rushed through the Latin at a helter skelter pace so that Holy Mass in its Tridentine Latin form was completed, quite regularly in 6.8 seconds!


Well, it would be amazing it it was true but it ain't (lapse into a bit of Americanese just to show what a worldly chap I am).

So, it is not true; I am sure that there were some priests who gabbled on occasions, like when they had an urgent sick call to make immediately after Mass but as a general

How do I know?  Well...I was there and, what is more, I served at multiple Masses offered by a very cosmopolitan variety of explanation.

We lived less than one hundred yards from the parish church of St Michael's and  St Martin's, in Hounslow, what is now one end of the main London Heathrow Runway.

Because of our proximity to a) the church and b) the airport (then Hounslow Aerodrome) it was encumbent on me to serve many weekday Masses before school and these were, in the main, celebrated by priests who were arriving or exiting Britain and using the parish as a staging post.

So, at a rough estimate, I must have, in a period of ten years, served at something like 1500 plus Masses.
Not a bad poll figure on which to make a claim.

Now what are the reasons for this high speed Latin Mass myth?

I have a hunch that many people, who are not overly familiar with Latin, fail to comprehend it when it is spoken at a normal talking speed. A little like practising one's French before the holiday and yet, when you step off the plane   the locals seem to be speaking in sentences where the words have all become merged into one.

In pre Vatican 2 Britain, all priests spoke Latin as if it were their mother tongue - and why not?

I also seem to recall that there were very specific time limits set by Canon Law, outside of which, a celebrant would have been guilty of fault; for a Low Mass I believe there was a twenty minute minimum...for High Mass....I cannot remember.

As a young altar server I am afraid to say that I would have welcomed a twenty minute Mass with open arms but they did not often come my way.

Instead, I would be treated to a moderate, reverent and clear 40 minute delivery of the holy texts and, who knows, some of the graces received from those 1500 Masses may have stuck with me in later life.

So please, unless you are as old as Methuselah and can challenge me on this point, let's hear no more of it. And when you hear a priest, nun or parish commissar state this lie...correct them, gently and charitably.