Monday, 31 December 2012

The Bishop’s top 10 New Year Resolutions

  1. Must sort out my Primary and Secondary Schools and get some decent, orthodox textbooks and lessons underway

  1. Set myself a target of establishing a series of Latin Mass training programmes for all of my priests

  1. Join with the next SPUC and Forty Days for Life abortuary prayer sessions

  1. Issue an urgent pastoral letter regarding the sanctity of marriage and how all of my flock should protest to their MP about proposed same-sex legislation

  1. Appoint one of my priests as Latin Mass Co-ordinator with the target of establishing EF Masses in at least 20% of my parishes by year end

  1. Issue an Ad Clerum requesting that Benediction be restored and that the grille type of confessionals and communion rails be replaced

  1. Plus….all clergy (and nuns) should be dressed in clerical wear at all times (other than in bed)

  1. Request that all OF Masses should be celebrated Ad Orientum from now on

  1. Ask the FSSP or ICKSP to host one of my parishes

10. Invite the local SSPX group round for drinky poos

NB: This list is not exhaustive, please feel free to suggest more resolutions

A Pastoral letter is the same as an Annual Report

Back in the dim and dark depths of the 1970s, someone or some organisation (please don't ask me to verify it, it was pre the computing age) carried out some research into the marketing elements of  Annual Reports.

Vast sums of money are spent each year by the multi national companies (and by Colleges and Universities) in producing glossy and colourful Annual Reports.

The research showed that the recipient of such a report (postage was another considerable on-cost) took something like 3.5 seconds upon opening the postal envelope and to then make the decision whether to read or not.

Mostly, when the 3.5 seconds was up, the 300 page glossy would be consigned to the round file conveniently placed beneath the desk.

The message being, of course, that you needed to be pdq at getting your message across; it had to be precise and visually gripping.

The human attention span is not a long one. If you are on the receiving end of an Annual Report it is a mere fraction of time betwixt determining success or failure.

I think that it is probably much the same with a Pastoral Letter. How many are actually read?

And, if the letter is read out aloud at Mass, how many switch off after 45 seconds (the average concentration span for the reception of oral communications).

And why do people switch off? Because, invariably,  the message is parcelled up in unimaginative, boring sentences.

Because the letters are too long; and the content too ambivalent.

I am not going to go through the various pastoral letters issued on the same-sex "marriage" issue, that would be tedious.

But here are the main points that should be addressed:-

1. Keep it to one A4 page

2. Encapsulate the message in the first concise sentence eg "I am asking for your support in upholding the teachings of Holy Mother Church by opposing the Government's plans to introduce same sex "marriage."

3. Keep the wording simple; that is not to say that the audience is cerebrally challenged, it is just that the message gets through faster and remains if it is straightforward.

4. Have short, clearly defined requests (preferably a bit more than "write to your MP")

5. Leave the recipient with a final sentence that contains an action request ("Join the March in London on X date").

That's it really. It's not rocket science but, if you should wish to verify that this post is necessary, please go to the pastoral letter issued on the Feast of the Holy Family in 2011 by Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam Diocese. It is not on the SSM issue but it warbles on blindly oblivious to the fact that, if the Diocese did research its impact, they might be surprised to find that yawning came top of the list. It is, in reality, an annual report in pastoral letter format.
You may read it HERE

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Universal Church or Individual Church?

Mac, at Mulier Fortis, perhaps inadvertently, touched a raw nerve with me in her post
One by One.

The post deals with the latest Bishop of England and Wales to step up to the mark and condemn the British Government's attempts to legalise same-sex "marriage."

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham Archdiocese has issued a pastoral letter and also plans for the same letter to be read out at Masses on the Feast of The Holy Family, (January 13th in my Missal).

By a rough reckoning that means that some half dozen or so Bishops have taken similar actions, all welcome but all rather late in the day.

They have also taken these actions "domino" fashion; that is, not so much in the name of the Lord as in domino chequers, those that, once lined up, all begin to move once the first one moves.

                   *Thirty three Lone Rangers would be so much more effective than one

That is rather a pity, I feel.

An all out statement or a general pastoral letter agreed by the Bishops of England and Wales, would have had so much more punch to it.

As it stands, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, may get the impression that we are not too gifted on the coordination front; he may feel that he has enough strength behind his 'initiative' to proceed with his ill thought out plans.

I am trying not to be churlish; the moves by the various Archbishops and Bishops are most welcome, it's just that they would have more effect if they came from the one true Church as opposed to the Church in Shrewsbury, Portsmouth, Westminster or Birmingham.

The fact that pastoral letters are being issued and that the Feast of The Holy Family has been highlighted as the day (in Birmingham) to deliver the contents to the faithful may not so much have been prompted by this post HERE as by the priest who originally suggested that such events should take place.

He would not like to be named, he is much too humble for that, but we could offer up some prayers on his behalf while we also pray for all of the Bishops to get behind the initiative.

* Estimated number of Bishops in England and Wales

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A fine excommunication!

Today is the feast of St Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Catholic, of course), who did not hesitate to penalise those who committed serious offence against Holy Mother Church.

Richard Burton made a fine Thomas Becket and his scene of excommunication is, for me, one of the highlights of the film 'Becket'

When, eventually, King Henry II uttered those immortal words about a troublesome priest he set in motion the actions that would lead to St Thomas Becket's martyrdom.

As he was hacked at by his attackers at the altar, he uttered the following sentence:-

 "Here I am ready to suffer in the name of He who redeemed me with His blood; God forbid that I should flee on account of your swords or that I should depart from righteousness."

He died at Canterbury on 29th December 1170 - St Thomas Becket, ora pro nobis!

And now......another Archbishop speaks out against the state - thank you Archbishop Vincent Nichols -
 A Reluctant Sinner has it covered.

Friday, 28 December 2012

What will the New Year bring for two Glasgow midwives?

Connie Wood and Mary Doogan are the two senior midwives at the centre of the dispute as to whether Catholic or other Christian denomination nurses or midwives should be forced, by law, to assist in abortion procedures.

          The role of a midwife is to ensure the safe delivery of a baby - not to destroy life in the womb

In February 2012, (see here) the legal judgement was that they must oversee abortions carried out by other midwives  on their labour ward and now, in January 2013, they will be appealing against this ruling.

SPUC has  fought their case through the courts but that comes at a high cost and more financial aid is vital to speed the process.

If you would like to support this cause click on the link HERE for details

You could also help by spreading this information and linking to SPUC on your own blog and/or, most importantly, by praying for success

With death comes absolution

Turning to my missal for today's Feast of The Holy Innocents I noticed, in the prologue, two things that had, either through ignorance or familiarity, passed me by in the past.

The first thing is that the "Innocents" are given the status of martyrs.

Why? They were not Christians in the sense that we speak of being Christian today.

But they died in the name of Christ; it may have been involuntary as far as they were concerned but the fact remains nonetheless.

The second thing to strike me was the fact that the Collect for the day makes note of the fact that "the Innocents, by dying confess".

In other words, the blood of their martyrdom washes away the stain of Original Sin.   

Is it then, just pushing the limits of what is meant by"martyrdom" too far to attribute the same absolution for those infants who, today, are murdered in their mothers' womb?

They, too are "innocent" and many of them die, if not on Christ's behalf, then certainly in involuntary support of Catholic doctrine, the teachings of Christ and the revelations of the Almighty.

Vox in Rama audita est, ploratus et ululatus:
Rachel plorans filios suos, et noluit consolari,
quia non sunt

A voice in Rama was heard,
lamentation and great mourning:
Rachel bewailing her children,
and would not be comforted, because they are not

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lose weight with a Catholic diet

The aftermath of Christmas festivities means, inevitably, the usual round of diet fads designed to remove the excesses of too much food and drink.

I have come across a diet that appears eminently sensible and feasible; I have not tried it (I need to) but the author is a good friend and has a background both as a family GP and a researcher into all matters concerned with health.

                             Fast and do penance - and lose weight!

Dr Caroline Shreeve is a lover of the Latin Tridentine Mass and she resides in Wales, not far from me.

Her book is based on a 14 day diet plan that can shed up to 19lbs in the same period - yikes!

What is more, she claims that, on her FBF (Fat Burner Foods) diet you will not feel the pangs of hunger - double yikes!

On the down side you must forgo alcohol (well, what did you expect?) and you must stick to the plan.

Caroline's premise (in one brief sentence) is that some foods actually burn off more calories than they contain.
A portion of Brussels Sprouts, for example, contains, say 50 calories but the body utilises 75 calories purely in the digestion process, some 25 calories are, therefore, effectively "burnt off"

That is a crude example and one would not wish to make sprouts the basis of a daily menu ( look what happened to Richard Dawkins) but Caroline has researched and tested this diet over quite a few years.

Of course, weight loss is also aided by physical exercise or, even, breathing exercises. I would not like to give the impression that it is all down to food type intake.

I suspect that, if the great and the famous came across this diet, Dr Shreeve would rapidly become the food guru of 2013 - meanwhile, if you would like a copy of her book it is available on Amazon (at a very modest price).

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas is just a myth

The first time this sentence was uttered in my presence I felt a few shockwaves flow through my body.
I have heard it several times since and it still tends to rock me back on my heels somewhat.

There is, it appears, a sizeable proportion of the population (certainly of the British Isles) who regard the birth of Jesus Christ as pure fantasy; it didn't happen, after all it was 2,000 years ago, where's the proof?

These same folk often have a keen interest in things historical, ancient even .

Egyptology, Paleantology, you name it, they like it, in fact, they appear to be fans of quite a lot of ologies.
Most of these interests pre date the birth of Christ by a couple of thousand years at least.

So, where's the proof that Tutankhamun existed?  How do we know that Sabre toothed tigers once prowled around Westminster Cathedral? And where's the evidence that early man fashioned tools and weapons out of stone?

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Holidays.....or Happy Winterval?

A non Catholic Robin

A few of my non Catholic friends are at pains to send me Christmas email greetings along the above lines.

I am not a paranoid person but I do think that they are out to nail me and my Catholic Faith.

So, by way of return,I usually send something along the following lines and, at the same time, paste in a picture of the most traditional Nativity scene that I can find.......

"........and I wish you and your family a very holy, happy and peaceful feast of the birth of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, redeemer of the world, God made man, born of the Virgin Mary, bringer of the truth to all men that they might believe and be saved"

That's not over the top is it?

A very holy, happy and peaceful Nativity to you all!

Before the paling of the stars,
Before the winter morn,
Before the earliest cockcrow
Jesus Christ was born:
Born in a stable,
Cradled in a manger,
In the world His Hands had made
Born a Stranger.

Priest and King lay fast asleep
In Jerusalem,
Young and old lay fast asleep
In crowded Bethlehem:
Saint and Angel, Ox and Ass,
Kept a watch together,
Before the Christmas daybreak
In the winter weather.

Jesus on His Mother's breast
In the stable cold,
Spotless Lamb of God was He,
Shepherd of the Fold:
Let us kneel with Mary Maid,
With Joseph bent and hoary,
With Saint and Angel, Ox and Ass,
To hail the King of Glory.

Christina Rossetti

Monday, 24 December 2012

Love came down at Christmas

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Christina Rossetti

Monday, 17 December 2012

A Time to keep Silence

There is a time for everything and now, as Advent draws to a close I have a few days in which to get my spiritual house in order.

I shall not post now until after Christmas, a blessed relief for you all.

Thank you for your support and comments (all of them) and I wish all Catholic bloggers (especially my fellow Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma members), commentators and readers a very happy, holy and peaceful Christmas.

                             May God bless you and spare you

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The unintelligible journey

.....a grave disappointment, not so much JRR Tolkien as W Disney.

I have never watched a Dungeons and Dragons video game but I have seen the odd commercial for this type of computerised imagery and I think that the ads are somewhat superior to The Hobbit film.

The script borders on the banal and poor old JRR must be spinning in his grave at such moronic treatment of his pride and joy.

I think I would have rather spent 24 hours watching the Ice Age animated films on a loop than this nonsense.

Well, The Hobbit was certainly wild and woolly

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Gaudete! The Lord is at hand, have no anxieties

The Third Sunday of Advent and the anniversary of the Saviour's birth draws near:


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. 
Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand;
 have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, 
with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. 
Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.
— Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85 (84):1

63% of Catholics want The Feast of the Holy Family.......

........dedicated, this year,  to the cause of preserving the sanctity of Christian marriage!

Damned statistics 
That is an amazing statistic, 63% of English and Welsh Catholics would like Archbishop Vincent Nichols to declare all Masses celebrated on this great feastday, to be offered up to defeat the moves to establish same-sex "marriage" and to emphasize the sanctity of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

Well......63% of those readers who voted in the poll on my sidebar would like the dedication to take place.....that may not count for very much as national surveys go but, hey! it's an indicator and that must count for something. Yes? No?

And 58% (it was a multiple choice vote) would like to march on London singing Salve Regina and reciting the Rosary, standing in a group outside the Houses of Parliament (or should that be Archbishop's House?).

And, blow me down,  52% would like the Bishops to issue a joint pastoral letter to be made available over Christmas, telling all of us, including those CECO folk (Christmas and Easter Catholics Only), what a shady bunch of ne'er do wells this Government is and that we should not vote Conservative next time round, or Labour, or Dim Lib.

With such a small margin between each of these results it seems pretty obvious to me that we few, we band of etc., actually would like the Bishops of England and Wales to get up off their Episcopal Thrones and do something!

Yes, I know, several of our good Bishops have made balanced statements that make the point but we need a concerted approach; right now it appears to David Cameron as if only a handful of Britain's many Catholics are opposed to his plans.

And as he appears to have lost all contact with the common man (if he ever had it) he will carry on in blissful ignorance of the enormity of his deeds.

Until the next election, that is.

Friday, 14 December 2012

An English Carol sung by Irishmen

Just to remind us all that Christmas is not about things secular but the birth of Our Saviour (and a moderate amount of feasting).

And the words are here:-

Boar's Head Carol
The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bays and rosemary
I pray you, my masters, be merry
(so many as are in the feast)
Quot estis in convivio
Chorus: Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino
(The boar's head I bring, giving praises to God)
The boar's head as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico. 
(let us serve with a song)
Chorus: Our steward hath provided this
In honor of the King of bliss
Which, on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio:
(in the Queen's hall)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

This is the big problem with gay marriage

What would Cardinal Heenan have done?

                       Cardinal Heenan - to him the Church meant "authority" - and so it should

Picture: A Reluctant Sinner

I mean what would Cardinal Heenan have done in the sense of action over the gay "marriage" fiasco, or the gay Masses in Soho, Catholic Adoption Agencies caving in to government legislation, Catholic schools being cesspits of ignorance regarding the Faith, the Pathway to oblivion touted by Liverpool, the general lethargy of the hierarchy when it comes to standing up for Christ, being a witness to the Church Militant.

Well, he would not have remained silent.

He was always on television fighting the good fight.

He made acute observations regarding the new Mass in the vernacular ("the men won't go you know") although I am unsure as to why he didn't think that the women also would not go.

He it was who did more than any person other than, possibly, Mother Theresa, to bring broadcaster and intellectual, Malcolm Muggeridge into the fold.

The late Cardinal Heenan was a scrapper but always in a kind way. He gave witness to the Faith straight from the shoulder; he would not have waited until the last minute to issue a letter regarding the Church's view on same-sex marriage.

And I doubt Mr Barber would be getting his knees under the desk at the Catholic Education Service if the good Cardinal was still Archbishop of Westminster.

The following conversation is between the Cardinal and Malcolm Muggeridge before he jumped into the Tiber.

It gives an excellent insight into both men, it is amusing and forthright.
 In answer to Muggeridge's question "Presumably  you want people to become Roman Catholic?" His Eminence answers: "Yes. I want everybody to" - a no nonsense response, full of Christian love both for his Faith and for others.

Extract from Muggeridge: Through the Microphone; BBC Radio and Television, Edited by Christopher Ralling.

Muggeridge: I always feel that almost the only reason that I’d like to become a Cardinal would be to be waited on by nuns.

Cardinal: I think you’d make a very good Cardinal as a matter of fact.

Muggeridge: I doubt it strongly. Not a Cardinal, perhaps a bishop.

Cardinal: Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Muggeridge: I always like lunching on Fridays because we don’t have meat.

Cardinal: You’re not getting any fish, by the way, you’re getting an omelette.

Muggeridge: No, no, it’s very nice. This would be part of the Catholic life that I would find least difficult. I suppose it dates from a time when eating meat was a tremendously important thing.

Cardinal: Well, you know what they say. They say that it was an example of the Jewish instinct of the twelve Apostles; they were all fishermen, and they decided that if they made a rule about fish on Fridays, it would be good business. But I don’t think that’s a theological doctrine.

Muggeridge: How powerful is a Cardinal today?

Cardinal: How powerful? It really depends on what you mean by power.

Muggeridge: But aren’t you the boss of the bishops?

Cardinal: The boss of the bishops? No, the Pope is.

Muggeridge: But he’s your boss?

Cardinal: The Pope is my boss, but he’s also the boss of all the bishops. The Pope deals directly with the bishops, not through me necessarily.

Muggeridge: He can go over your head as it were?

Cardinal: Well, yes. I wouldn’t think of it in that way.

Muggeridge: No. But the thing is that of course the Church does indulge in the sort of magnificence and outward show which one associates with worldly power.

Cardinal: When you’re taking part in ritual, as I do very often, it is burdensome rather than self-glorifying.

Muggeridge: You mean you personally don’t like it too much?

Cardinal: Well, no, and also you’ve got to wear the robes. The same as the poor Queen when she wears the crown and the royal robes. I’m sure she’s most uncomfortable but nevertheless she knows that by doing this she gives a certain satisfaction to her people.

Muggeridge: To me, at any rate, such emulation of the trappings of earthly authority would seem to have a certain danger.

Cardinal: This outward panoply and foolishness that you are thinking of, this has its uses, because even sticking a chain round a man’s neck and calling him mayor of Wigan – I don’t mean that with any disrespect to Wigan, of course – but putting a chain round a man’s neck marks him out as chief citizen. If he’s not a fool he doesn’t really think he’s the brightest and best and best and most intelligent man in that particular town. Nevertheless, that chain of office shows him to be what he is; it’s a sign – a badge of his office. Incidentally, I’ve got a chain on too, with a Cross, and I always envy a Mayor his chain, because at the end of the year he can just take it off and go off on his own, but this thing will be with me until I’m in the coffin in the Cathedral…

Muggeridge: How about your role as proselytizer?

Cardinal: I loathe that word.

Muggeridge: Presumably you want more people to become Roman Catholics?

Cardinal: Yes. I want everybody to.

Muggeridge: Therefore you are a sort of missionary.

Cardinal: I object to the word proselytizer because it sounds like something very underhand, some poison, some snaky movement by which you’re trying to drag people from the truth and indoctrinate them….No, you wouldn’t call Christ a proselytizer; a preacher perhaps. We call the Apostles –

Muggeridge: Evangelists.

Cardinal: Evangelists, men who have the message, which they believe to be truth, and want to spread it everywhere. Now there’s nothing strange about that, because even if you happened to have discovered a cough cure and it really works, and you take this thing, this drug or injection, all winter, and never have a cold, you know well that you cannot stop telling your friends about it. If you’re a good man and you possess a good thing, you want to share it. There’s an old philosophical saying, Bonum est diffusivum sui. You’ll know this, of course, but for the sake of my colleagues on the bench I will translate. It means that goodness diffuses itself, spreads itself, it can’t help it, just as heat can’t help expanding, warmth glows. In this kind of way a person who possesses the faith wants to spread it, want his warmth to go out to others. Now that’s no problem to me. Is it a problem to you?

Muggeridge: No, not a problem at all.

Cardinal: But this is what you’ve got to remember. Although we don’t use the word because it’s an offensive kind of word to use, this country’s full of pagans, this country’s full of people who know as little about God as the so-called heathens that you mentioned.

Muggeridge: Since you would hold that your Church in certain respects has the message uniquely, you would presumably wish good Anglicans also to join it.

Cardinal: Well naturally; after all this country was once a completely Catholic country, as you know. It would be lovely if once again it would be a completely Catholic country, from my point of view. Whereas, as you know, others would say, ‘Oh no, just a moment, it was once a Catholic country, but the corruption of Rome spread, and it has to be cured by a complete revival and renewal, and then the old Catholic faith was restored and Romanism dissipated.’ That’s another point of view – not, as it happens, mine.

Muggeridge: I didn’t think it was. Anyway, the point is that presumably, in so far as you would in the long run hope to bring back the Anglican church into the fold, into the Roman Catholic fold, that would mean that you were a missionary in relation to them also; that even the Archbishop of Canterbury, say, is a target.

Cardinal: Well, target is hardly the word.

Muggeridge: How do you get along with him, incidentally?

Cardinal: He’s a very great friend of mine; I’m very fond of him, and of his wife too.

Muggeridge: Do you argue with him when you’re there?

Cardinal: I don’t think we argue in the sense of having controversy. It’s clear that as the Chief Bishop of the Church, the Anglican Church in this country and throughout the world, it’s hardly likely that when I go to Lambeth I would go with a whole bundle of tracts in my pocket and say, ‘Look, I must explain to you about Papal Infallibility.’ Of course not. Our conversation is on a very different level, and I don’t think he ever seriously tries to persuade me of the errors of Rome or offer me a job as his assistant or auxiliary bishop in Canterbury. No, we don’t do that. But if you ask me, I don’t want to appear in any way insincere. I do agree that my greatest desire would be to have all Englishmen Catholics again.

Muggeridge: And those little churches and cathedrals that used to be Catholic – all their bells would be ringing.

Cardinal: You’ve got to be quite mature before you realize what being a priest involves, particularly in the question of celibacy, giving up the right to a family and so on, and it’s at that time, I think that the crisis comes with most people. These young men realize, they might be 20, 19, 21, anything, but they’ll be quite mature and they will then say, ‘Now, for the first time I realize that this really does mean a lonely life.’ You’re not feeling miserable because you’re alone, but you’re a man apart.
The relationship between a Catholic priest and his people is something you’ve got to experience to understand, they call me Father and that’s a term of tremendous affection. Now that Fatherhood I find enormously attractive and uplifting, but the shouting and the kissing, that means very little indeed.
Muggeridge: What do people want from their religion?

Cardinal: It’s the unchanging teaching of the Church which answers the deepest appeal, I think, in the heart of the people.

Muggeridge: What is that unchanging teaching, in a word?

Cardinal: In a word, if you want a word – authority.

Muggeridge: Authority, whose authority?

Cardinal: The authority of the Church, made known through the Pope and through the Council.

Muggeridge: Contrasting with that, when you’re standing at the altar…?

Cardinal: Now that’s quite different. When I’m standing at the altar, I am there representing Christ. When I offer the Mass, I don’t say, ‘This is the Body of Christ,’ I say, ‘This is my Body,’ because I, John Heenan, don’t exist. That’s why the vestments are there to disguise my personality. I am standing there a mediator, as 
one representing Christ. That’s quite different; there I am the Church, so to speak.

Muggeridge: This is the difficult thing to understand.

Cardinal: Of course, of course.

Muggeridge: I mean, how do you feel, when you’re doing it?

Cardinal: Well, I’ve been a priest for thirty-five years, and I’ve offered Mass every day.

Muggeridge: For thirty-five years.

Cardinal: Yes, and sometimes more than once a day. Now there’s an old saying, an old Latin saw, – Ab ssuetis non fit passio – a thing you’re used to doesn’t affect you, and so, obviously, I don’t feel emotionally now as I did the day I put on vestments for the first time, and offered my first Mass as a young priest. I don’t feel the same but perhaps I treasure the Mass even more; the Mass means more to me now after thirty-five years of celebration daily, than it did then. But how to describe that and how to show that that should be so is very difficult.

Muggeridge: Does it add to your worries when you think that by and large people are falling away from the Christian religion?

Cardinal: Of course, of course. I don’t use the word worry, because I don’t worry about these things. It’s God’s business, you know. If they’re falling away from religion, they’re falling away from Him.

Muggeridge: But you wouldn’t feel that it’s because you’re being inadequate?

Cardinal: Yes, yes.

Muggeridge: Do you, when you wake up in the night, think that…

Cardinal: How do you know I wake up in the night?

Muggeridge: I’m sure you’re a fellow-insomniac. I can spot them. When you wake up, would it be a bad thing that would worry you to think to yourself, ‘Well, are we really making a great mistake’?

Cardinal: No, I don’t. On this, no. I have no doubts whatsoever.

Muggeridge: You would regard yourself as being a person who held, on the whole, for tradition?

Cardinal: Well yes, I would say that every Catholic really at heart values the tradition. You can’t be a Catholic without holding for tradition. We’re the one thing in a changing world that’s solid. We’re the thing that people can reach for.

Muggeridge: But you are going to go on being as solid as you have been?

Cardinal: I hope so. Of course we are. Rome is the centre of Christianity. This place is still the centre, and that’s not because of that material building. Because, you see, this city of Rome could be taken over by the communists tomorrow, or next year. But even if materially we abandoned Rome, the spiritual centre of the Church is the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, and, as you know, there have been Popes that have never seen Rome. At one time there were no less than three people claiming to be the Pope. There was vice in this Vatican. This was a centre of vice from time to time, the Borgia Popes and so on, and therefore we are sometimes inclined to think that this was the most wicked of all ages, but in fact, in many ways, it’s the best of all ages. And you asked some time ago where I stood, and was I against progress. The answer is no. But obviously when you get people emotionally charges and determined to broaden the view, there are going to be excesses, they’re going to exaggerate, they’re going to get it wrong, and some of us have got to stand quite firm and say, ‘Yes, I love this wide open view, but we mustn’t for a moment forget truth, we mustn’t pretend that truth doesn’t matter.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Good news, bad news

                      The Director's chair at the CES - soon to have a new occupant

The good news is....the Catholic Education Service (CES) has made an appointment to replace Oona Stannard.

The bad news is........they've appointed Paul Barber as their new Director.

My apologies to Mr Barber and Mrs Barber and all the little Barbers if there are any, I'm sure they must be rejoicing at the news. But, that this plum job has fallen into the hands of the man who was at the centre of the row over The Cardinal Vaughan School and its desire to keep its Catholic identity and independence is somewhat disturbing.

Mr B was Archbishop Nichol's Director of Education and, leaving out a great deal of detail, he wanted to implant governors onto the school board, taking all control for their appointment away from the school and the parents.

It was, some say, a hamfisted, small minded attempt to ride roughshod over the views and feelings of the Catholic staff, pupils and parents but those good folk at the Vaughan swung into action most professionally and ran a very successful campaign that meant the Archbishop had to back down, give in, capitulate.

So, it does not exactly auger well for the poor old CES that must bear the brunt of the criticism for the dire state of most Catholic schools in this country; just as they thought it was safe to go back into the water....

I find this sort of news extremely depressing but must refer you to Damian Thompson's post (the Telegraph has much better litigation lawyers on their side than I have).

This is the recruitment ad that the CES ran last October, I do hope that Mr Barber will live up to the ideals stated therein:

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is seeking to appoint a new Director for the Catholic Education Service. The CES is the agency which represents and promotes the national education policy of the Bishops in relation to the 2,300 Catholic schools, colleges and university colleges which the Church is responsible for across England and Wales.
The Conference is looking for a practising and committed Catholic who is capable of giving strategic leadership and strengthening relationships at a senior level nationally to promote the interests of Catholic education with the UK and Welsh Governments.
You will:
• Be motivated by your love for Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church;
• Have a passion for, and a secure understanding of, the distinctive nature of Catholic education;
• Have substantial senior management experience and demonstrated inspirational leadership;
• Possess highly developed interpersonal and communication skills, and the ability to win respect and trust at all levels.

Archbishops attack......with feather dusters!

Tickling David Cameron pink!

Archbishops Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Peter Smith of Southwark made a statement to the Prime Minister yesterday decrying the move to legalise same-sex marriage.

It was, if I remember correctly, the Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, who, many years ago described an attack by Conservative politician, Geoffrey Howe MP, as: "Like being savaged by a dead sheep."

That really is how their Graces' message comes across; too little, too weak, too late.

But what could they have done now that the National Census report that shows that the number of Christians in Britain now equals roughly the number of three legged chickens and that belief in God is virtually non-existent (other than in the Muslim community).

Well - they could have done and, indeed still have time to do one of the following:-

1. Issue a Christmas Pastoral letter to make the 'sleeping' Catholic community fully aware of the value of Christian marriage.

2. Dedicate all Masses on the Feast of the Holy Family (December 30th) to the cause of preserving the sanctity of marriage.

3. Organise a national march to the House of Commons

4. Gather together all the Cardinals and Bishops of Great Britain and walk, as a body, the Tyburn route, reciting the Rosary at Marble Arch (site of the 'Tyburn Tree')

5. Dedicate a national day of prayer and penance on behalf of the cause.

6. Lobby all Catholic MPs and Peers to ensure that they are at one with the requirements of their beliefs.

Perhaps you could suggest some more initiatives?

Surely any of the above would be a valid response and much, much better than a rather weak "Dear John".

And please remember to vote in the sidebar....thank you.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

What are you doing on 21st December?

                              So, OK, give or take 14 months or so

I mean, will you be hiding in the cellar with your stock of corned beef and bottles of spring water, waiting for the blast of trumpets, the shuddering of earthquakes, fire and brimstone?

If you are a member of the Church of Latter Day Mayans you may well be preparing to batten the hatches or take to the hills, whichever seems more appropriate because, in the Mayan Calendar, the page for the 21st December 2012  has a large red ring around it.


Because the world is due to end on that day - no big whoop then?

Not for us Catholics, we take no notice of such superstitious gobbledy gook.

We know that no one, not even the Holy Father, knows when crunch time will be upon us so just what is the point of worrying? We should all be living our lives as if the world is going to end tomorrow anyway.

I know what I shall be doing. I shall be raising a glass of the O be Joyful to my grandaughter, Eva, whose birthday it is; and may she enjoy many, many more years of life.
She will be two years old on that date and that is a great age of innocence, long may it continue!

Gay marriage and a letter for David Cameron

The sheep are waiting for the shepherd to wake up

Yesterday I posted on how the Catholic Bishops have a golden opportunity to influence the Government by issuing a pastoral letter on same-sex "marriage" at Midnight and /Christmas Day Masses.

That letter, although intended for the Catholic community, would go direct to David Cameron's in-tray and, if he ignored the contents, he would, indeed, be leading his troops to obscurity and the job centre.

The letter could focus on the Feast of the Holy Family (how very appropriate) on 30th December and, as an extra thought, how powerful would it be to dedicate every Mass offered on this great feastday, to the cause of maintaining the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.

This last move would, I imagine, require a lead from Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

So now, if you have not posted on the need for a pastoral letter (please consider doing so, this is a Spartacus moment, don't let it slip through your fingers) and also email or write to your own Bishop and to Archbishop Nichols if you have not already done so.

And finally, please cast your vote in the poll on the sidebar.......are you in favour of a pastoral letter at Christmas?...............should all Masses on the Feast of The Holy Family be dedicated to preserving the Sacrament of Marriage?........or, should we all sit back and let it wash over us?

Monday, 10 December 2012

A golden opportunity for the Bishops?

This Christmas, as at every Christmas, the churches will be full of Catholics who, only come to Mass at this time of year.

What an opportunity for re-evangelisation.

A chance to reach out and, in the words of Bishop Thomas Tobin invite them to "Come home".

But, it also provides another very special opportunity, one that involves the looming legislation regarding same sex "marriage."

It is not too late to influence those politicians who are hell bent on imposing this unwanted perversion of marriage upon us.

                          A focus for a pastoral letter on the sanctity of marriage

A priest friend has suggested that their Lordships might jointly issue a pastoral letter on the sanctity of Christian marriage, available as a handout after Midnight Mass and, of course, available at all Masses and Christmas Services including, of course, the Feast of the Holy Family (30th December)- what better fulcrum could there be to effect change than this great feast?

Catholic bloggers have it within their writ to charitably galvanise the Bishops into action; if only we can provide coverage on our blogs.........that is a suggestion, not a request, I know how sensitive such matters can be.

And, if you do not blog you might care to email or write to His Grace, Archbishop Vincent Nichols and/or to your Diocesan Bishop.

Here are the Archbishop's contact details:


                  Post:  Archbishop's House
                           Ambrosden Avenue
                           London SW1P 1QJ

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Turkeys vote for Christmas and Tories for Gay "Marriage"

Of course, there's nothing gay about this bunch!

David Cameron and his chums just don't seem to get it - the great British public does not want homosexual "marriage" in churches, registry offices, synagogues, temples or anywhere else for that matter.

The whole concept is preposterous but Cameron seems to think that the homosexual vote is the one to go for.

Now, I know that there are lots of London to Guildford Bi-sexuals around and I also know that some are Christians but the heterosexual population, who are Christian, must far outweigh the ones who are on the wrong bus.

My local MP is opposed to the Prime Minister's plan and he is not alone; nothing focuses an MPs mind more than the prospect of joining the dole queue in a couple of year's time.
Well over 100 Tory backbenchers don't like the way the party is drifting into airy fairy politics.

They can see disaster looming up on them like a runaway express train heading for the buffers, the old Etonian buffers in Downing Street.

The fact that our PM cannot see the blooming obvious renders him unfit for purpose. He must go and go soon if the Conservatives are to cling on to power.

I do believe that the Catholic vote, along with other Christian denominations, will topple the Tories.
I shall not be voting Conservative next time round; I do not who who will get my vote, there really is not very much to choose from.
It may have to be the Monster Raving Loony Party, they appear to be the most sane out of a poor bunch.

It's the Dominicans - again!

                                       A Dominican, not a Socialist

Not so many years ago the Dominican Order was in a similar state as the Jesuits today.

Many Dominicans were louche and worldly and on Friday nights there was a blur of sweaters and jeans as the Friars shot off for rather unfriarly social activities (from a certain London base).

Things changed; I know not why except that the hand of God is evident.

Some of the older, more left wing Doms went to meet their Maker and, at the same time, receive the shock of their everlasting lives.

They would have been surprised to discover that God is not a Socialist, neither is He a Conservative, and He most certainly is not a Liberal Democrat.

Those priests need our prayers today.

Younger Dominicans came on song and the order began to find its base once more.
 Erudite preaching returned and books that emphasized the orthodox appeared on the various publisher's websites.

In America, there is a far greater pace to the reform of the reform; vocation figures are up and on an upward curve and young women, especially, are turning once more to a life dedicated to prayer and Christian charity.

In particular, the Dominican order is benefiting from large intakes of novice nuns and I believe that to be a great and wondrous thing; young women giving up their worldly lives to dedicate themselves to God and with tremendous attendant benefits for us lay men and women.

Father Ed Tomlinson, whom I know not, has a post on the resurgence and I hope that he will not mind me snaffling his video clip, it is so good that it must be shared out it is:

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bad joke, good joke

Practical jokes are dangerous, they can backfire very easily, they can damage a person's confidence to the point where, as we have seen in the last two days, suicide results.

They can also be very funny; they can be quite a good way of making light of situation or of deflating someone who is, perhaps. overly pompous or self important but the shadow of causing real harm is always there and they should be used with caution. And, what is more, blogging has many similarities.

Despite the fact that the "joke" that appears to have led to the death of Jacintha Saldinha was carried out in a thoughtless, dull and silly manner, I do not think that a witch hunt for the two Australian radio presenters is very helpful; I presume that they are mortified at what has happened and their predicament will act as a warning to all.

This one crass act should not destroy all future practical jokes.

I recall, many years ago, as a young man, I worked in an open plan office for a  national organisation. There were about twenty young men and women working with me and it was a rarified atmosphere where good humour ruled and self importance was squashed at every opportunity.
One of the group, a young Scot whom I shall call Hamish, was very careful with his money.

He saved and scrimped until he had enough money to put down a deposit on a VW Beetle; new, sparkling and the pride of his life.

Some of us decided that Hamish had an unnatural fondness for the car that bordered on a fixation and we devised a joke that would bring him back down to earth.

We pooled resources (not very much in those days) and purchased three gallon cans of petrol and, on the day that the VW was premiered we secretly topped up its tank.

Every few days after that we would covertly do the same again.

Hamish was delighted with his purchase and for the first ten days or so he told all and sundry just how economical it was: "The petrol gauge just doesn't seem to go down" he said. Time after time.

After two weeks he was ecstatic over his purchase claiming it was the best buy anyone could have made.

In week three he commenced writing letters to Volkswagon and various motoring magazines extolling the virtues of the Beetle.

On the Monday of week four the penny dropped and he came into the office uttering Scottish profanities against us Sassenachs.

But all enjoyed the joke, no one came to any harm, in fact, Hamish really benefited from the whole episode and, most importantly, he tempered his preoccupation of polishing and cleaning his car.

As the wise Signor Mundabor has stated in his post on the suicide affair, there must have been some background, some build up of problems other than the  badly thought out prank. Sadly, Jacintha (apparently) took her life because the joke provided the final straw; life became unbearable and so, the end.
Please pray for her eternal soul; suicide is an ugly thing.

But don't let that put an end to practical jokes.....or to cutting but charitable blogging.