Friday, 30 March 2012

Hie thee to St James' Spanish Place

If you are in or near London on a Sunday, go to Mass at St James' at 9.30am.

Why? Because the celebrant is likely to be none other than the great Father Leon Pereira OP

If you have not heard Fr P preach, you are in for a rare treat but it may be advisable to check beforehand to make sure that he will be celebrating Mass on the Sunday in question.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

"Ave Maria" - Flying the flag for the unborn in Melbourne

Tuesday morning and a small group is gathered outside an abortuary near the city centre.
Behind a wall lies a tree screened building quaintly bearing the title  'North Melbourne Procedural Day Centre' as though it was some municipal place of rest from the busy, uncaring world.

Whereas, of course, it is a place where deeds most bloody are carried out routinely and the victims are the unborn and the girls and the women who have been scared or duped into agreeing to the 'procedure.'
Plus, the prospective fathers who get little or no say in the matter.

We joined the group and were met with a warm reception, the Rosary continued and then we sang 'Soul of my Saviour and proceeded through the set pattern of prayers and hymns as laid down by the Forty Days for Life organisation.
'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters)....' 

A complete cross section of Catholic society came to join the group and came and  went in the course of the next two hours; young mums with children in push chairs, students, retired folk and an excellent organiser, Trudy, who kept the prayer rota going evenly and smoothly.

We only met with a bit of anger from one young executive type who marched past very quickly shouting-
"Why don't you get a life" - but that is what precisely we were doing, getting a life and, maybe getting several lives, but the irony was lost on him.

More hymns, the good, traditional ones such as 'Come Holy Ghost', 'Ave Maria' and, of course, 'Salve Regina'.
There is no better hymn to sing in public than Salve Regina - it is the battle hymn of the faith and it stirs the blood no end. It turns a timid Catholic into a brave Catholic.

Bemused office workers hurried past and the groups' numbers rose and fell reaching, at its lowest 3 and at its highest, some 13 souls. Not bad for 10am on a Tuesday.

Here is a prayer that was included in the 40 Days prayer book:-

My Child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in times of adversity.

Cling to Him but do not leave Him,
that you may prosper in your last days.

Accept whatever happens to you;
in periods of humiliation be patient.

For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust in God and He will help you;
make your ways straight and hope in Him.

You that fear the Lord, wait for His mercy,
do not stray lest you fall.
You that fear the Lord, trust in Him, and your reward will not be lost.

You that fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for lasting joy and mercy.
Consider the generations long past and see:
has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?

Has anyone persevered in the Lord and been forsaken?
has anyone called upon Him and been ignored?
For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
forgives sins and saves in times of trouble.

Woe to timid hearts and drooping hands,
to the sinner who walks a double path!...............

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Catholic Melbourne - same as Catholic Westminster

It may seem presumptive to have been in Australia for only 9 days and to be offering a view on what's what as far as the Faith is concerned.

But, on reflection, I find that church affairs are really just as they are in the UK.
On the surface, at any rate, and that is all that I am qualified to comment on.

The city Church of St Francis - the oldest Church in the State of Victoria -
but why the empty cross? How sad.

There is a dearth of Latin Masses in and around Melbourne (a la Westminster) and even St Patrick's Cathedral only offers an EF Mass on Wednesdays at 5.30pm.

The Church of St Francis, right in the city centre and surrounded by high rise office blocks, has no Latin Masses on offer which is a great pity as it is a beautiful church that appears to be busy with the faithful coming and going throughout the day.

There is a lack of statues in the Cathedral which always makes me feel a shade uncomfortable but then, St David's in Cardiff (Old South Wales) is also imageless, more or less.

One difference that is noticeable is that the wearing of the mantilla seems much more the custom here, even by the non traditional faithful.

The mainstay of traditionalism in Melbourne is the Church of St Aloysius, in the suburb of Caulfield North.

Here the altar is ad orientum and I found myself wondering if the Ordinary Form of Mass was also celebrated in this way. I was enlightened after the 8am EF Mass when a modern altar was wheeled in from the wings - a complete reversal of how it is in England and Wales, and a welcome one at that.

But I do have one grouse (and that applies also to churches in Great Britain).
It is the issue of being acoustically challenged when the sound system is so basic and pitched at high volume that good sermons literally fall on deaf ears. Or deafened ears.

Does the parish priest ever sit in a pew and listen to one of his brother priests preach?
They must not. If they did so they would surely make haste to employ the services of a professional sound engineer to put in a decent system.
How sad it is for wise words to be so unintelligible that, instead of uplifting the soul a thin red mist is engendered.
Older churches were designed and built with the natural amplification of the human voice in mind; they cannot easily take a modern speaker system that bounces the sound waves off a thousand surfaces.

SSPX priests, if I remember correctly, tend to despise sound systems and use their voices to effect, the way that God intended perhaps. It adDs a lot to a sermon if the deliverer has to inject intonations and volume at varying pitches. It makes it hard to deliver monosyllabic homilies.

Please accept these comments as a shallow view on Catholic life here in the Diocese of Melbourne; for a really in depth appreciation please watch out for a post from Kate Edwards (Australia Incognita) as I believe she is working on a report.

It is almost six years since we were last in Melbourne and the number of EF Masses and churches that offered them has shrunk.
Not a point for the brick by brick file I'm afraid; but it does go to show that the battle for the reform of the reform must go on and that the pace should, if anything, be increased.

Friday, 23 March 2012

I was at school with Victoria Gillick!

OK, that may not vie with the headline: 'Freddie Starr ate my hamster' but it at least may have its origins in the truth.

You see, on holiday in Oz at present I am reading the great Victoria Gillick's book, 'A Mother's Tale' and, on page 92 she mentions that she attended a Dominican Convent School in Middlesex.

As far as I am aware, there was only one Dominican Convent School in Middlesex in the 1950s and that was St James's, Burnt Oak, my alma mater. I was there about the same time as VG but, no surprise that our paths never crossed as boys and girls were strictly segregated.

And, if you know not the name, Victoria Gillick, haste ye to Google and you will find that, as a young mother, she fought the battle against under age contraception advice from such knowledgeable folk as school nurses and GPs and, in fact, anyone other than the parents of the said child.
Fred the school caretaker had more authority than a twelve year old girls's mother both then and today.

She went to the High Courts and lost. How could she ever win? But she fought and that it what is important in my book.

I was working in leafy Cheltenham at the time and remember seeing yellow and black posters proclaiming 'Kill Victoria Gillick' - that immediately had me on side, a Catholic woman taking on the establishment? Brilliant!

I immediately donated the princely sum of five pounds to her fighting fund, peanuts today but the price of a night out for two then.

The poster was, of course, the work of the socialists; a degenerate bunch if ever there was one.

We could do with a Victoria Gillick today, a laywoman who is not afraid to speak out and to go the mile with the cretins who are in authority over us. Offhand, I cannot think of a male or female of her calibre today.

If you want to gain a flavour of the immense battle that she entered on our behalf, read her book: 'A Mother's Tale'. Or, just Google the name.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Every home needs a..........

.......God box!

A 'God box' is what my son has dubbed his collections of bird's eggs, crab shells, fossil fragments, seaweed filaments, dried leaves, small mammal skulls, moth's wings and many more besides; all enclosed in a framed case, normally hung on a wall.
Gerard Manley Hopkins would have been an enthusiast, 'Glory be to God for dappled things...' and 
'As kingfishers catch fire and dragonflies draw flame' are lines that spring to mind when one looks closely at Matthew's 'God boxes'.

A carefully collected and arrayed cluster of natural objects that emphasises that the world around us was created by a Supreme Spirit; the details in a humming bird's nest, the intricacy of a coral fragment and the   detail contained in the skeleton of a sea horse - all show the glory of God, not Darwin, and all are displayed in the Melbourne home of a boy that was, thank God, brought up in the wild countryside of Herefordshire and then West Wales.
The 'God box' concept has elements of Victorian England about it; the desire to capture the essence of creation in its most basic, natural form, the craving to capture the natural world in an alien framework of wood and glass - but, it works and you cannot but marvel at the detail and variety that God has laid before us, a cornucopia of intricate and beautiful design.

The beauty of God's vision for His world, enclosed in a glass cabinet

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

40 Days under attack

Flying at 37,000 feet en route to Australia I clicked onto the news channel only to find that the main report was on the 'aggresive' tactics of the 40 Days for Life campaigners outside the BPAS abortuary in Bedford Square.

It is a sure sign that those who carry out this hideous practice are getting nettled and are starting to make weird and outlandish claims.
I have prayed with this group at this place and always found them to be wonderfully restrained and occupied in either prayer or in making very singular counselling invitations.

They would be the last people on earth to show 'aggression'. But it did my heart good to read about Robert Colquhoun and the others who were taking on this challenge and bringing it to where it is needed most.

And now, my good friend, Piers Darcy, informs me that Bishop Alan Hopes who will take part in one of the sessions on 30th March, has been subjected to a media attack for his pains.

Please contact him and offer him your support and prayers, we need more Bishops like him who are not afraid to get stuck in. his email is on - for some reason I cannot open it, but please send him an email.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Solemn High Mass - at Caulfield North

A glorious Solemn High Mass at the church of St Aloysius, Melborne.
Singing, great, choir fantastic, the whole experience, amazing.
It made me think about the various degrees of the Masses available to us; Ordinary, Extraordinary - and all the variations therein, Solemn, High, Low, Pontifical and so on.

It increased the realisation that, the greater the reverence and liturgical emphasis, the greater the Mass and the greater the worship due to Almighty God.

Thank you to the priests of St Aloysius and all involved in this great parish.
You gave my family a wonderful opportunity to experience the Mass of all time in its most wondrous mode.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Hail glorious St Patrick!

Today is, of course, St Patrick's Day and as my Confirmation name is Patrick and as I have a teaspoon or two of Irish blood in me (albeit dating back to 1845 which is but a blink of an eye in Irish history), here is my tribute to the great saint, his own poem which I dedicate to all Irish Catholic bloggers.

Written by St. Patrick in 377 A.D.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

Is there dispensation today for the odd pint of Guinness or a couple of Paddy Whiskies?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A story for Lent - Our Lady's Tumbler

This short story dates back to medieval France and not only is it a beautiful story but it has a moral that leaps up and hits you in the face.

In the Middle Ages, a Tumbler was a jester, a minstrel, a sort of forerunner to the sort of acrobatic act that might be included in The Royal Variety Performance today.


Extract from the Original Translation of Our Lady's Tumbler

"In the lives of the ancient fathers, where is store of goodly matter, is told a certain tale.
Now I will not say that others full as fair may not be heard — ay! many a one — but I say that this is not to be so scorned but it is worth narrating.

 I will therefore tell you and relate of what befell a certain minstrel.
He wandered so far to and fro, over so many a plot and place, that he grew a-weary of the world and gave himself up to a Holy Order.
Horses and robes and money, and whatsoever he had he straight surrendered to it, and clean dismissed himself from the world, resolved never again to set teeth in it. Wherefore he entered that Holy Order — as folk say — in Clairvaux.

And when this dancer had given himself to it, albeit he was well adorned and beauteous, comely and well made, he knew no trade that he could ply therein. For all his life he had spent in tumbling and leaping and dancing.
 How to trip and spring he understood, but naught beside, for he had conned no other lesson — nor pater noster, nor chant, nor credo, nor  ave, nor aught that might make for his salvation.

When he had entered the Order, he saw those folk high-shorn converse by signs, while no sound passed their lips; and he supposed for sure that they could speak no otherwise. But presently he learned the truth, and knew that for penance they were forbidden to speak, therefore somewhiles they were silent; whereat it came into his mind that he too ought often to keep his silence; and he held his peace so meekly and so long, he had not spoken all the day had they not bidden him to do it; whereat there was no little laughter many a time. The man was all abashed amongst them, for he knew not to do or say aught with which they were busied there, and he was sore grieved and sad thereat. He beheld the monks and the converts, as each one served God here and there according to such office as he held.
He saw the priests at the altar, for such was their duty, the deacons at the gospels, the sub-deacons at the vigils, while the acolytes stood ready for the epistles, in due time. One recites verses, and another a lesson, and the choristers are at the psalters,  and the converts at the misereres — for so they order their lamentings — and even the simplest at pater nosters.

Through offices and cloisters he gazes everywhere, up and down, and sees in remote recesses here five, here three, here two, here one. He looks fixedly, if he may, at every one.
The one has to lament, the other weep, a third to groan and sigh. Much he wonders what ails them. "Holy Mary!" he says, "what ails these folk that they bear them thus and show such grief? Methinks they are perturbed indeed, that they all make such lamentations." Then he added, "Holy Mary! — ah! woe is me, what have I said! I trow they are praying God for mercy.
But, O wretched me! what am I doing? For there is none here so caitiff but who vies with all the rest in serving God after his trade; but I had no business here, for I now not what to do or say. A very wretch was I when I gave myself to the Order, for I know nor prayer, nor aught that is good. I see them — one before and another behind — while I only walk with nose in air and consume victuals for nothing.
If I am found out in this I shall foully fail,  for they will thrust me out to the dogs. And here am I, a strong villain, doing naught but eat. Verily I am wretched in a high degree." Then in despite he wept for woe, and for his part would he were dead. "Holy Mary, mother!" he said, " do pray your Sovereign Father that he hold me in his pleasure, and send me his good counsel, that I may have power to serve him and you, and may earn the victuals that I take" for I know well that I misreceive them."

Thus maddened with grief he went his way, till, searching through the monastery, he came upon a crypt, and crouched down by an altar, pressing up as close to it as might be. Above the altar was the form of my lady, the Holy Mary. He had not lost his way when he came to that place! No, verily, for God, who well knows how to call his own to him, led him there. When he heard them sound for Mass he leapt up, all dismayed. "Ah!" he cried, "how am I betrayed! Now each one will say his stave, and here am I like a tethered ox, doing naught but browse, and spoiling victuals for no good. — Shall I say it? Shall I do it?
 By the mother of God I will! I shall ne'er be blamed for it, if I do what I have learned, and served the mother of God in her monastery according to my trade. The rest serve in chanting, and I will serve in tumbling.

He removes his cloak and strips himself and lays his clothes beside the altar; but that his flesh be not all naked, he keeps on an under-coat, right fine and thin, scarce more than a shift. Then he stood, just in his body, well girt and adorned. He girds his coat and takes his stand, turns towards the image right humble, and looks upon it. "Lady," says he, "to your protection I commend my body and my soul.
Sweet queen, sweet lady, despise not what I know: for I would fain essay to serve you in good faith, if God aid me, without guile. I can not chant, nor read to you; but, for certain, I would pick for you a choice of all my finest feats. Now, may I be like the bull-calf that leaps and bounds before his mother. Lady, who art no whit bitter to such as serve you truly, whatsoever I am, may it be for you." Then he began his leaps before her, low and small, great and high, first under and then over.
 Then he threw himself on his knees again before the image, and saluted it. "Ah!" he says, "all-sweet Queen! of your pity and of your frankness, despise not my service." Then he tumbled and leapt, and made, in festal guise, the vault of Metz around his head. He saluted the image and adored it, and honoured it with all his might. Then he did the French vault and then the vault of Champagne, and then he did the Spanish vault and then the vaults they do in Brittany, and then the vault of Lorraine, and strained him self to do the best of all his power. Then he did the Roman vault, and put his hand before his brow and danced so featly, as he gazed right humbly at the image of the Mother of God.

"Lady," he said, "this is a choice performance. I do it for no other but for you; so aid me God, I do not — for you and for your son! And this I dare avouch and boast, that for me it is no playwork. But I am serving you, and that pays me. The others serve, and so do I. Lady, despise not your slave, for I serve you for your disport. Lady, you are the mon-joie that kindles all the world.

Then he tumbled with his feet up in the air, walked and  went on his two hands that he might journey closer to the ground. He twists with his feet and weeps with his eyes. Lady, he says, I adore you with heart and body, feet and hands, for I can nor more nor less. Henceforth I will ever be your minstrel. They shall sing in there together, and I will come here to entertain you. Lady, you can guide me. For Godâs sake do not despise me. Then he beat his breast in penitence, he sighed and wept right tenderly, for he knew not how else to pray.

 Then he turned back and made a leap. ãLady,ä he said, ãso save me God, I neâer did that before! This does not rank among inferior feats, and is all new. Lady! what fill of joyance should he have made who might abide with you in your glorious manor.
For Godâs sake Lady, receive me therein, for I am yours, and no whit my own.ä Then he did the vault of Metz again, and tumbled and danced right there. And when he heard them raise the chants he laid too in right good earnest, and as long as the Mass lasted his body did not cease to dance and trip and leap, till he waxed so faint he might no longer stand upon his feet, but fell upon the ground and  dropped for very weariness.
 And as blood drips from the spit so the sweat started from him, head to foot, from end to end. Lady, he said, I can do no more now; but, indeed, Iâll come again. With heat he seemed all burning. He puts on his vestments again, and when he is clothed salutes the image and goes his way.
Adieu, he says, ãsweetest friend. For Godâs sake be not cast down, for if I can I will come again.
 At ever hour I would serve you the very best that may be, if it please you, and if I can. Then he went away, still looking at the image. Lady, he said, ãwhat pity that I know not all those psalters! Right gladly would I say them for love of you, most sweet Lady. To you I commend my body and my soul.

This life he led long time, for at every hour thenceforth he went to render his service and his homage before the image; for he took marvellous delight therein, and did it with a right good-will, so that no day was ever so weary but what he did his best  therein to entertain the Mother of God; and never did he desire other sport. Now they knew, of course, that he went every day into the crypt, but no man on earth knew, save God, what it was that he did there, nor would he, for all the wealth the world possesses, have had any know his doings save only the Lord God alone. For he well believed that so soon as they should know they would chase him out and force him into the world again, which is all seething with sins, and he would liefer die than ever be bitten again with sin. But God, who knew his meaning, and how great was his compunction, and the love that made him do it, would not have his deed concealed. Rather did the Sire will and decree that the doings of his friend should be known and manifested, for his Motherâs sake, whom he had fêted, and that all should know and understand and perceive that God rejects no one who comes to him in love, of whatsoever trade he be, if only he love God and do right.

Now, do you suppose that God would have prized his service had he not loved?
 Not a whit, however much he tumbled! But it was his love that he prized. Do penance and toil all you may, keep fast and vigil all you may, weep all you may and sigh, groan and pray, and give yourself to discipline, and go to Mass and matin, and give all you have, and pay all you owe: yet, if you love not God with all your heart, all these good things are thrown away — be well assured — and avail you naught at all for salvation; for without love and without pity all labour counts for nothing. God asks not gold nor silver, but only true love in folksâ hearts. And this man loved God unfeigningly,. and that was why God prized his service.

So went it with the good man long space. I cannot number you the years that the good man was thus at ease; but the time came when he was very ill at ease: for a monk took note of him, and blamed him much in his heart for that he came not to matins. He wondered what became of him, and said that he would never stop till he knew what sort of man this was, and for what he was worth, and how he earned his  bread.
 The monk observed and tracked and spied him out until he plainly saw him plying his trade without disguise, as I have told you. In faith, said he, ãhere is fine sport! and methinks greater doings than all the rest of ours put together! There are the others at their orisons, and toiling for the houses, while he is dancing as proudly as if he had a hundred marks of silver. He does his business in good style, and verily he pays us all he owes. It is a goodly way of doing it — for us to chant for him and him to tumble for us!
We pray for him and he for us.. If we do weep, he gives us quits. Would all the Convent could see him as I do — if I had to fast till nightfall for it! Not a soul, I trow, could keep from laughing if they saw the fury with which this wretch goes killing himself, as he throws himself into his tumbling and gives himself no mercy.
May God count it for penance! for he does it without guile. And, for my part, in sooth, I think no ill of it; for I take it he does according to his lights and in good  faith, because he would not fain be idle.
 This the monk saw with his eyes at all the hours of the day, as he worked and rested not. Much did he laugh and much rejoice, and felt delight and pity.

He went to the Abbot and told him. From end to end he related it just as you have heard. Whereon the Abbot rose to his feet and said to the monk: Now hold your peace, and do not scandalise him; I bid you, on the vows of your Order. And observe my command to speak of it to no one, save to me. And we will go and see it this day. We will find out what it may mean. And we will pray the Celestial King and his most sweet dear Mother, who is so precious and bright, to beg, in her sweetness, her Son, her Father, her Lord, to let me see this thing to-day, if it be his pleasure; that God be the more loved thereby and the good man, be not blamed, if it likewise please him. Then they went all quietly and hid themselves without more ado hard by the altar in a nook where he could not see them. The Abbot and the monk witnessed all the convertâs office, and all the divers vaults he made, and his leaping and dancing and saluting the image, and tripping and bounding, until he came to faint.
He worked himself into such weariness that he needs must fall, and down he sat all worn out.
The sweat all over him, for very toil, dropped down upon the floor of the crypt. But in short time, in little space, his sweet Lady succours him, her whom he serves without deceit. Well knew she how to come at need!

The Abbot looked and straightway saw a Dame so glorious descend from the vault that none eâer saw one so precious and so richly arrayed, nor was one so beauteous eâer born. Her garments were very costly with gold and precious stones. With her were the angels from heaven above, and the archangels, who came around the minstrel and solaced and sustained him. When they were ranged around him all his hear was assuaged.
Then they pressed to serve him, because they longed to repay the service that he did their Lady, who is so precious a gem. And the sweet frank Queen held a white napkin, and fanned her minstrel with it right sweetly before the altar.
The Dame, frank and meek, fans his neck and body and face to cool him. Well does she undertake to aid him.
The Dame abandons herself to the task. The good man does not turn a glance to her, for he sees her not, nor knows a whit that he has such fair company.

The holy angels do him great honour, albeit they remain no longer with him, and the Lady sojourns there no more. She makes the sign of God on him and turns away, and the holy angels make him an escort: for they find a marvellous delight in gazing on their companion, and only wait the hour when God shall cast him from this life and they shall have snatched his soul. And this the Abbot saw without let, and his monk, a good four times, for at every hour it came to pass that the Mother of God came to aid and succour her man, for she well knows to rescue her own. The Abbot had exceeding joy, for he had longed sore to know the truth of it.
But now God had shewn him verily that the service pleased him which his poor man had rendered. The monk was all confused, as though burnt with anguish.

 To the Abbot he said: Have mercy, sire! This is a holy man that I see here. If I have said aught concerning him amiss ât is meet my body make it good. Lay on me my penance, for beyond all doubt this is a good man. We have seen it all right through, and cannot ever be deceived about it.ä Said the Abbot: You speak truth, God has made us know right well that he loves him with a love all tender. Now I command you straightway, in virtue of obedience, and on pain of falling under sentence, that you speak to no man of what you have seen, if it be not to God and to me.
And I, said he, give you my promise, sire. With these words they withdraw, and make no longer stay in the crypt; nor did the good man delay, but put on his garments again, and when he had done all his task, he went to disport himself in the monastery.

And so the time came and went until a little afterwards if came to pass that the Abbot sent for the man that had so much good in him. When he heard that he was sent for and that the Abbot was asking for him, his heart was so full of sorrow, that he knew not what he should say. Ah me! he cried, I am accused. Never shall I be a day without misery and toil and shame, for my service comes to naught. It is not pleasing to God, as I take it. Ah me! nay, rather, it displeases him: for the truth of it has come to light.
Did I suppose that such a deed as mine and such sport were fit to please the Lord God? Not a whit. I neâer did any good. Alas, what shall I do, what shall I say?
Fair, sweetest God, what will become of me? Now shall I be slain and shamed, now shall I be banished from hence, now shall I become a target out there in the world with all its evil.
Sweet Lady, holy Mary, how far astray was that idea of mine! And I know not whom to take to counsel. Lady, come you to guide me! Do not delay nor linger. And do bring you Mother with you. For Godâs sake come not without her. Come both of you to help me, for I know not what to plead. They will say straightway, at the first word, ÎBe off with you! Oh me! 
What answer can I make when I have not a word to say? What does it matter, for I shall have to go. Weeping, so that his face was wet, he came before the Abbot; weeping, he knelt before him. Sire, he cried, for the mercy of God, will you chase me out from here? Say what you will command. Will do all you will. The Abbot said, I will to know, and will that you should tell me true — you have been long time here, winter and summer — I will to know what is your worth, and how you earn your bread.
Alas! said he, ãI knew it well, that I should be sent upon my way soon as my doing should be known: that they would have no more to do with me. Sire, he said, I go my way. Wretched I am and wretched I shall be, and I never made a farthingâs worth of any goods.
 The Abbot answered, Far am I from saying that, but I require and demand, and moreover I command you in virtue of obedience, that you tell me all you know, and at what trade you serve us in our monastery. Sire! he said, ãhow have you slain me! How this command kills me!
 Then he tells him, with whatever grief, all his doings, from end to end, so that he did not leave a word to say but told it all at a breath, just as I have related it. And now he has told it all and narrated it to him with clasped hands, weeping, kissing his feet and sighing.

The holy Abbot turned to him, and, weeping, raised him up, and kissed both his two eyes. Brother, said he, ãnow hold thy peace, for I accord, in very truth, that you shall be of our convent. God grant that we may be of yours; in guerdon of service done in our own. I and you will be good friends. Fair, sweet brother, pray for me, and I will pray again for you. And I pray you, my sweet friend, and command you without feigning, that you do this service frankly, even as you have done it — ay, and yet better if you have the skill.
Sire, said he, is this in verity?Yes, said the Abbot, ãât is in verity. He charged him, on pain of penance, to doubt it no more; whereat the good man was so overjoyed, as says the ditty, that he scarce knew what had become of him, and he must needs sit down, and he turned all pale. When his heart came back to him his bosom leapt with joy, so sore that an ill assailed him, whereof in right short space he died.
 But very meekly he did his service without repose, morning, and evening, night and day, never missing an hour until he was smitten sick; and so great was the ill that held him that he could not stir from his bed. Then it was grievous shame to him that he might not pay his dues; and therefor chiefly was he troubled, for he complained not a whit of his ill, save that he stood in sore doubt of losing his penance, in that he toiled not at that toil that was his wont. It seemed him he was all too slothful; and since slothful he must be henceforth, the good man prayed to God to receive him eâer he were undone by sloth. For he felt such utter grief about this matter, whereof some knew, that his heart might not endure it; yet needs but he lie and could not stir. The holy Abbot honours him much; he and his monk at every hour come to chant at his couch. And he took such great delight in what they sang to him of God that he would not have had Poitou in lieu of it, but would have given all in quittance, such joy had he in hearing. Well did he confess and  repent; yet withal was he in doubt. What need of more? At the last it behooved him to meet his end.

The Abbot was there and all his monks, many a priest and many a canon, who gazed at him right humbly, and saw all openly a miracle most marvellous. For they all saw with their eyes that his end were the angels present, and the Mother of God and the archangels, ranged all around him. And on the other side were the furious ones, the enemies and the devils, to have his soul — it is no fable! But in vain had they waited, and hastened and strained so far, for they shall have no part in his soul. Albeit his soul departs from his body it falls not at all, for the Mother of God has received it. And the angels who are there sing for joy and go their way, and carry him to heaven, as was decreed. And this all the convent saw, and all the rest who were there. Now they all knew and were aware that God would no longer hide is love of his bachelor, but rather would that each and all should know and recognise the good in him. Great joy and great marvel had they thereat. High honour did they render to his body, which they bore into their monastery, rendering high service to God. Nor was there [missing several words] chanted or read in the choir of the [ditto] church.

With right great honour do they bury him, and look upon him as a holy corse. And then without disguise the Abbot told them all the tale of him and of his way of life even as you have heard it, and of all that he saw in the crypt. The convent listened gladly. Verily, they said, ãwe must needs believe you, for the truth bears witness. It is well proved at need; nor is there place for doubt that he has made his penance.
 Great joy had they amongst themselves thereat.
Thus ends The Minstrel. In happy hour he tumbled; in happy hours he served; for thereby he won high honour such that none may compare therewith. This is what the holy fathers relate concerning what befell this minstrel. Now pray we to God, who has no like, that he grant us so to serve him that we may earn his love".

And if anyone believes that this story is an encouragement to dance at're reading the wrong blog.

Off to Australia today - the feast of St Matilda!

St Matilda - not known for her waltzing

I find this rather droll, that today of all days, when we start our journey to Australia, it should coincide with the feast of St Matilda.

Of course, St M had nothing to do with Australia, she was born in Germany in the late 9th century and married Henry the Fowler, son of the Duke of Saxony.
She was, by all accounts, a charitable soul who stayed close to the seat of power after her husband's death (he had then succeeded to his father's Dukedom).

So, my prayers will have to be directed to Australia's dedicated patron saints; first and foremost, Our Lady Help of Christians and then, to a lesser degree, St Therese de Lisieux, St Francis Xavier and, of course, the great St Mary McKillop.

Of course, I shall say a prayer to St Matilda also, it would be churlish not to.
And yes, I do know that a 'matilda' is a traveller's bag.

Blogging will be a little sporadic from now until 16th April when we shall be back in Blighty.
But there will be one last post in a few hours, an extract of a rather good medieval story about a monk and Our Lady.

After that, watch out for occasional posts from Linen on the Eucalypts!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hugs and kisses but nothing Catholic

Another Catholic School, St Mary's College in Hull (isn't that Preece country?), I hope he doesn't mind a softie southerner trampling over his patch.

St Mary's bills itself as a Catholic International Sports College but I'll bet you that while it may be international and it may be sporty, it is not, in my book, Catholic.

No signs of faith on the website opening pages and I really cannot be bothered to search through the small print looking for the odd reference to the Faith but their chaplaincy page is a bit of a hoot, they dismiss with the concept of a priest being a chaplain and move to a lay person taking on the role and leading the liturgy.

Here is how they describe the role:

For some reason this refuses to transpose. I have re-typed it but it disappears as soon as the publish button is clicked.

I don't have time to correct it at present, my apologies, I will try and rectify it and re-post in  a day or two.

Fr Gunter brings fresh hope

After a vacancy lasting some six years the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is to have a new Secretary to the Department for Christian Life and Worship

Fr Paul Gunter OSB, ex Editorial board member of Usus Antiquior, will take up post shortly and, this will, effectively, make him the Director of the National Liturgy Office.

It is, perhaps, an unusual appointment as, he is described by The Tablet as a "conservative" and, of course, he has a track record of having an affinity and deep knowledge of Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

This is not a move designed to sweep away the Ordinary Form of Mass but it could be viewed as an appointment that will speed the reform of the new Mass to bring it back to a more reverent and solemn framework and, possibly, closer to the Extraordinary Form.

We can only hope that Fr Gunter will help establish the EF Mass as a proper and desirable form of the Mass that every priest should be able to celebrate.

Meanwhile, as Fr Z might say: "It's one for your 'brick by brick' file"

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Wearing a cross in Britain could leave you jobless

Following close on the heels of David Cameron's plans for homosexual and lesbian marriages to become legal we now have, according to The Sunday Telegraph, a fresh move to ban Christians from wearing any religious symbols in the workplace.

This appears to be both bizarre and Stalinist and it looks as if Cameron is set to go the route of Obama by losing the Catholic vote in the future.

The move has been prompted by two women who are taking their case for the freedom to wear a cross or crucifix at work  to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg where Article 9 states that:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance"

The Government is opposing this appeal and, if successful, will have no hesitation in implementing the law making it possible to dismiss employees who wear a cross.

Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, has weighed in with support for the right to express one's Christian faith by means of wearing symbols or jewellery and accused ministers of sidelining the established faith of the country.
Where are the Catholic Bishops?

Heads down below the parapet as usual I'm afraid, no sign of any Christianity from that quarter.

I actually do have reservations regarding the wearing of a cross or crucifix as an item of adornment, it seems to me that it rather trivialises the supreme sacrifice that Christ made on the cross, but, if a person wishes to wear it openly only a diabolical influence would wish to ban it surely?

A Sikh male may even wear this in school in
parts of the country - but a cross is out!
Meanwhile, of course, Sikhs may wear their turbans, bracelets and carry daggers and Muslim women may wear the niqab face mask - all without a challenge of any kind.

When the time comes to cast a vote in the future, I am going to find it hard to find a home for my "cross" - in fact, I even may ban it, certainly from the Conservative Party.

Catholic Universities in England - are they really Catholic?

Having had a bash at the schools last week, a subject I intend to return to, I thought I should take a look at our Universities, I think that's a plural!

St Mary's Strawberry Hill I used to know well, it was the focal point for Diocesan school sports events and many's the 100 metres I have streaked shambled over in those pre modernist years.

I knew that I would be unlikely to discover a hotbed of Catholic fervour, of religious imagery and reverence and, to my amazement.....I was right!

Am I being unfair?

Is this, in fact, a Catholic University?
It used to be a teacher training College but I guess it morphed into a Uni along with all  those excellent Ploytechnics, post 1993.

I assume it is still a Catholic institution, it does have a Chaplaincy and, on further investigation I uncover just about enough info to convict them of being so.
In June 2010 they recruited a new Principal. Philip Esler, a well respected academic hailing from, where else but Australia.

However, they rank 94 in the Times Good University Guide Tables, that places them, err, in front of......umm.....not too many others.
But they do lay claim to being  fifteenth in terms of London Universities (that must mean that they come last after all the others?).

If I was their Marketing Director, I think I might leave that statistic out of any prospectus information.
And, incidentally, the contact details for their marketing person give their designation as "Marketing Manger" (sic) - yes, we all know what they mean but for an educational organisation to get that wrong is, well, really pretty poor.

Reminds me of the ad for a college which read:

Come to St B-----'s College for a Quality Eduction

But I digress. As I stated earlier, you only know that St Mary's is Catholic when you dig a bit deeper into the various click buttons and then it's there, from time to time in the body copy.

They have the (by now) intensely boring and fatuous mission statement:

St Mary’s prepares its students for flourishing lives, successful careers and social commitment through excellent, research-enriched teaching in a strong community of mutual respect based on our Catholic ethos and identity.

Oh, No! Catholic ethos and identity - again! Meaningless gobbledygook unless backed up with real Catholic ethos and identity.

Do they have a crucifix in every classroom?
Do they stop for the Angelus at mid-day every day?
Does their teaching reflect the teachings of HMC and does a framed photograph of the Holy Father meet you in the reception area?

No? Well it ain't got no Catholic ethos and identity then.

Now, I hasten to add that I have not been able to determine whether the above statements are correct or not but I'll happily donate £50 to SPUC if someone proves me wrong.

I skimmed over the events calendar only to note that, on 14th March an American Professor, one Dr Colin Barr from Ave Maria University, Florida, gave a lecture on Cardinal Newman.

Here is an extract from the preview blurb:

Dr Barr commented, “In recent years, John Henry Newman has become an exemplar of orthodox piety, and a gay icon. His most famous book, The Idea of a University, is by common consent, one of the most influential treatises ever written on the philosophy of higher education. Yet it too suffers from anachronistic, political, and wildly conflicting interpretations.

If I was a Principal of a Catholic University I would not give the stage to someone who wished to talk about Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman as a "gay icon".

Perhaps that says it all.
There is a lot of talk about Fairtrade, Ecumenism and more but not too much on what I would wish to see from a 'Catholic' place of High Education.

More to come on other allegedly Catholic institutions during the week.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Into Ethiopia, next month

Next month my daughter, Catherine, a nursing sister, will take two weeks out of her leave to travel with a medical team to Ethiopia to carry out surgery on children and young people who have diseased, ravaged or deformed faces.

The causes for the deformities are many and include, attacks by animals, especially hyenas, pathological diseases such as noma, machete assaults and, quite commonly, battery acid (having been used as a means of inflicting terror or punishment).

In response to my recent post for prayers and funds for "Project Harar" you gave most generously and Catherine has asked me to pass on her note of thanks:-

Dear All,

Thank you so much for your incredibly generous donations towards Project Harar whom I will be working with in Ethiopia in April.
Your sponsorship will enable the work we do to reach people most in need and help them eat, speak and smile again. 

Many thanks
Catherine Collins

Save a child, if you're near Brighton

This email came through this morning, it speaks for itself:

I just received this from Kym, one of the organisers of the 40 Days For Life vigil in Brighton.  please consider helping them out.  The clinic is closed at the weekend but they are keen to keep the vigil going as the aim is to see it closed all the time.    
Many thanks,

Dear ALL Fellow Pro-Lifers,

We are in need of filling quite a few hour slots this weekend PLEASE can you take a look at the vigil [contact on the email address below for details] & see if you can spare an hour to join us.
Caroline & I are going to leaflet Chatsworth Road in the afternoon to get to know our neighbours & give them information about 40 Days for Life & the present Abortion situation.
We will therefore not be free to stand outside the clinic.

Thanks for ALL your prayers & the hours you have already put in. This is a battle but we will win the war; God is on our side.
We hope to see as many of you as possible on Monday eve at 7:30pm outside the clinic to share what God is doing & encourage us for the last 20 days.
God Bless you

Kym Reeves

Friday, 9 March 2012

New competition! Spot the Catholic imprint!

It is not to unreasonable to expect that all Catholic Schools should portray an immediate and unmistakeable element of "Catholicity" for want of a better word ('ethos' tends to be a little over-used and distorted in meaning).

This is a sign of Catholicism!
That sign of Catholicism should be apparent on the school website, notice-board and within the walls of the school itself in the form of crucifixes and statues prominently displayed.

Who could possibly argue against that? Even the most liberal cafeteria Catholic could not possibly disagree - or could they?

So, to determine the extent that Catholic Schools show evidence of their faith I have commenced carrying out a market survey, websites only at this stage, just to see how "Catholic" our schools are, certainly in appearance.

Having outed Cardinal Newman School in Hove it seemed logical to focus on all schools bearing the great man's name.

After all, he lived comparatively recently (as opposed to the sixth century saints), he was propelled into the spotlight by the Holy Father beatifying him in Birmingham in 2010 and he was a convert from the Anglican faith which would seem to give him yet another topical facet.

So, my first port of call was Cardinal Newman School, in Luton.

Well, other than the Headteacher's message, which is the usual guff, there appears to be no sign that the school is Catholic. The Head mentions the word 'Catholic' some three times and then, that's it!
That rates as a zero in my view.

I think that Our Lady would be pleased
to be featured on every Catholic School

And  so to Cardinal Newman Primary School, Hersham, Surrey. This also is lacking in signs or symbols of the faith and only mentions that it is Catholic in passing. Another cabbage award!

Up to north of the border and we find the Cardinal Newman High School in Lanarkshire. Well, this one does have a picture of what appears to be a stainless steel representation of Christ on the Cross but very little else to tell parents that it is Catholic and not a sausage (or haggis) with regard to a biographical note on the Cardinal. Shame!

Back down to Wales and CN School in Pontypridd - at last! Amazing! Lots of buttons to click stating things such as "Retreat", "Charitable works", "Holy Week" and "CAFOD" (groan) but you click the buttons and get nowhere, nothing happens, "dim" use as they would say in Pontypridd.

And still there's not a word on their patron saint.

The mission statement (aaargh!) is the usal bland claptrap but carries the subtitle "Heart to Heart Speaks" - OK I know what they mean.

And, finally, (this is getting tedious), but please stay with me - to
Cardinal Newman High School in Warrington.

I could lay out a sum in folding money and challenge one and all to try and find a religious symbol on this site.
It does not have a mission statement but it does have a vision statement the meaning of which, is beyond all human comprehension.

This is how it begins...

"Jesus was a teacher, His Gospel message was concerned with the whole person and the whole of society.  In Cardinal Newman High school we believe that the Gospel is relived in daily life and God is experienced as a reality......"

All of these schools claim that their aim is to imbue their pupils with the Catholic faith (in a variety of words) - the thing is, dear reader......are they telling the truth....or are they telling porkies?

I leave you to be the judge.

'Catholics' final episode and some more on the Schools issue

Last night BBC Four screened the final part in its mini series, 'Catholics'.

I watched with as charitable an eye as possible, it had been previewed as being about women in the Catholic Church which I interpreted to be about the issues of participation in a liturgical sense whereas it seemed to focus on women in the church volunteer sense. So be it.

There was some good and some less than good; the programme showed up the beauty and wonder of the "Mother Church" of English and Welsh Catholics, Westminster Cathedral, a place that, during my childhood seemed ever clad internally in scaffolding (no, they were not building it silly, I am not that decrepit, they were finishing the mosaic ceilings).

But the views from the women interviewed, for the most part, were those of Cafeteria Catholicism, they disliked the rigidity of the Church in the 40s and 50s, they disapproved of Catholic teaching on contraception and some of them had quite muddled interpretations as to doctrinal affairs.
It did appear, rather, that when the cameras were on bright, forthcoming young mums, the questions regarding doctrine were held back and saved for others that were featured.

I will not single out individuals as that might be unkind but the programme was probably a pretty fair summary of what modern Catholic women (and men) believe as regard Catholicism.

Having left the Anglican Church for
the Catholic Faith, Cardinal Newman
might well be puzzled at the prospect
of joint Eucharstic Services

And yesterday, I posted on Catholic Schools and one in particular that held an Anglican Eucharistic Service for 300 Protestant students who joined with the school in some sort of mumbo jumbo service.
The comments you may read and they are sound but I have also received a comment from a friend who has inside knowledge of the affairs of this school (Cardinal Newman School, Hove). Hence, my friend must reamin anonymous but this is from their email to me:-


Glad you did Card Newman. I think all the deanery clergy are
unlikely to be supportive of Anglican Eucharist. They are good men and
though they wouldn't criticise it publicly they are very concerned
about it.

Especially that it has 300 Anglicans, you can imagine what
impact that has on the Catholic "ethos".
To the clergy's credit the school is a constant gripe at deanery meetings, so much so that the bishop appointed the charismatic lay chaplains brother as the PP of Hove, in part to forestall complaints I suspect.
Like most Catholic schools it is Catholic in name only.

And in answer to my question, why do Catholic Schools go down this route when we have such richness at our fingertips?

"It is money, the more pupils, the weaker the faith but the bigger the
budget and the higher the

Now it is an undoubted scandal that Catholic Schools (most of them) ride roughshod over Church Law and the Teachings of Christ.
It is a scandal that they, presumably, ignore the requests or commands of their local Bishop.

So we just go back to sitting on our hands and tut tutting.

Well, I think not. The time has come for a petition -
"Oh no!" I hear you cry, "Not another bleep petition" ah.....but this one is to Our Lady and all that is involved is that you say three Hail Marys every day until the end of Lent.

And the petiton is: 'Please intercede with your Blessed Son so that the Bishops will intervene and bring all schools under their control into the fullness of authentic Catholic Teaching and liturgical practice'

That does not have to be uttered word for word, the sentiment will do nicely.

And ask your Bishop what he is doing about the scandal, but is Lent after all.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Catholic Schools - they just don't get it

I think that just about every Catholic Secondary School in Great Britain is named after the Sacred Heart, Our Lady, a saint or a leading Catholic cleric.

So far so good. But they miss out on a tremendous opportunity to catechise and excite the senses of those in their charge because, they fail to give any details regarding the saint or the personality they are named after.

Do those pupils attending the St John Lloyd School know anything about him?

Or those pupils in Coventry attending the Bishop Ullathorne School, would they be able to compose a short essay on the life of the great man?

But quite obviously, after the recent Papal visit the pupils of Cardinal Newman School in Hove will be au fait with HE John Henry?

Not according to their website, not so much as a photograph or painting of  Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, or a snatch of verse from the 'Dream'.

This would go rather well on their site I thought...

                             This child of clay
                             To me was given,
                             To rear and train
                             By sorrow and pain
                             In the narrow way,
                            From earth to heaven.

An opportunity missed, a chance to enlighten passed by; and would not a brief biographical note lift the school out and place above others when the time for comparisons came?

But, upon closer inspection of the Cardinal Newman School website I came across something that was, how shall I put it? Not quite the round shilling?

This is what was stated on the website ................

"Anglican Eucharist
On Wednesday February 29th at 10a.m we are having one of our regular Anglican Eucharistic services. Over 300 Anglican students have been invited to attend and we will warmly welcome members of their family who can be there too. Please sign in at reception if you come. The service itself will celebrate the long standing and significant contribution the Anglican community has made to the Christian ethos and the success of Cardinal Newman Catholic School".

Yikes! Thought I, this is not right in any shape or form. Just what is an Anglican Eucharist?
I am reasonably happy for Anglicans to go along holding their own brand of service in the hopes that, one day, God's grace will enter their souls and they will make a move towards conversion to the one true Faith but, in the meantime, I see no merit in holding such a service in a Catholic School.

I have no idea how it all panned out but I have a horrid sneaking suspicion that there may have been a joint "service" with the Catholic priest celebrating Mass and the Anglican Vicar having a Eucharistic Service - just the sort of thing one wants to confuse young minds and encourage indifferentism.

So, a brief foray into Catholic School websites to determine if they had paid their dues to their patron has turned into something even more disappointing.

Perhaps Bishop Conry might like to pay Cardinal Newman School a visit and perhaps all Bishops might like to commission a review of all schools in their Diocese to make certain that they really do portray the Catholic Faith and are, indeed, Catholic.

I shan't be holding my breath.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

10 steps towards re-evangelisation

Later this year, on October 11th to be precise, Pope Benedict's planned 'New Evangelisation' programme begins and it is scheduled to finish on November 24th 2013. Here is how Catholic Online describes it:

"Many Catholics do not know what the Catholic Church actually teaches. Others practice a "cafeteria Catholicism"- choosing what parts of the faith they will follow.
Some profess the Creed but confine its influence only to participation in the Liturgy on Sunday. This has led to what the fathers of the Second Vatican Council warned of - the "greatest error of our age, the separation between faith and life."

The rejection of the existence of objective truth has unleashed what has been referred to by Pope Benedict XVI as a "Dictatorship of Relativism".  The contemporary culture has embraced a "new" paganism; which is just the old paganism dressed up in the sophistry of an age that purports to be "enlightened" when it is bound in the ignorance and darkness which accompanies the rejection of God.

So this missionary Pope has announced a "Year of Faith". It will run from October 11, 2012, until November 24, 2013, when the universal church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King.

He told the faithful, "It will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time"

Whether we deem it a New Evangelisation or a Re-evangelisation is immaterial, the fact is, it is aimed at those Catholics who, like Mae West, started out snow white - "but drifted".

They drifted in precisely the same manner as the man who neglected to look at his face in the mirror; after a year or two he forgets just what sort of a person he is.
His hair is longer and unkempt, his face a little unshaven and not washed too thoroughly; his tie is awry and his shirt could do with a decent laundering.

Over a period of one year his face had
changed somehow
 In short, he is now a CINO (Catholic in name only).

He believes that his conscience is the arbiter of any questions regarding moral codes, he has never attended a Latin Mass and thinks it backward and the congregation odd (he may have a point there).

He is vaguely aware of liturgies that used to be celebrated back in the Dark Ages of the 1950s; Benediction, 40 Hours Exposition, Stations of the Cross.
But he shudders when anyone mentions them believing that too much reverence and incense leads to a peasant mentality and, very likely, a desire to genuflect when entering the pew or, Heaven forfend, kneeling to receive Holy Communion.

This poor wretch likes nothing more than to entertain his parish priest whom he calls, Reg.
He belongs to a masonic lodge, eats meat on Fridays, last went to Confession oops! Sacrament of Reconciliation in 1998 and has made provision in his will to be cremated and his ashes scattered over Wentworth Golf Club.

It is this man that the Holy Father has his eye on.

And here, for what it is worth, is my ten step guide to getting Crispin (sorry, I didn't mention his name earlier) back on track:

1. All secular priests to be instructed to conform to the clerical dress code (black and white only) and to re-establish the social protocols so that Crispin's PP (Reg) becomes, at the very least, Father Reg.

2. All parish catechists and council members to attend briefing sessions that set out the parameters of the programme (return to reverence etc)

3. All electric candles to be banned from churches and churches to be open from 8am to 8pm

4. The Latin Mass to be established (over a two year period) so that at least one Mass on a Sunday or Holiday of Obligation is an EF Mass

5. Communion rails to be reintroduced

6. Altars and sanctuaries to be re-designed to accommodate the EF Mass facing East

7. All parishes to be issued with a facts sheet telling them the basics of Catholic beliefs eg abortion, IVF, Euthanasia, Homosexuality, Intimate relationships outside of Marriage etc are absolutely wrong. Also to carry  a ready guide to Catholic behaviour (no speaking in church, no hugging and kissing in church, no hand clapping when it's Father Reg's birthday and so on.

8. All guitars, tambourines and Andean epiglottal wind instruments to be banned and plainchant made more readily available.

9. Every parish, within the two year period of grace, must acquire appropriate sets of proper vestments and ensure that all ciboria and chalices are as required by Canon Law ie no pottery or glass to be used.

10. Seminary admissions policies to be reviewed and re-structured so that a panel interviews prospective candidates. Four panel members with three being priests who celebrate the Latin Mass or religious from a traditional order.

Good job!

Australia looms ever closer - both for Fr Ullathorne and me

Next week I shall (DV) arrive on Australia's sunny landmass to begin a four week break with my son and his family during which time I hope to take a gentle look at the faith in and around Melbourne.

A challenging territory for a
newly ordained priest
Almost 180 years ago a young Catholic priest made the same journey but it was by boat and he landed at Sydney, not Melbourne.

That young man, a mere 27 years of age, was none other than the future Archbishop Ullathorne, Catholic leader and theologian extraordinaire.

His role in Australia was that of Vicar General, a senior post working with and for the Bishop at the time, Bishop William Morris of New South Wales.

You can easily re-create the scenario of his arrival on the scene; a fresh faced priest barely out of seminary, sent to assume  jurisdiction over all of NSW- and an Englishman to boot!

Here is an account of how he was received by the Australian clergy and how, without any delay or prevarication, he assumed control and won their support - what a great man he was................

"...............I looked so youthful that the first language of Father Thierry, and even of his housekeeper, was naturally patronising; but after dinner I produced the document appointing me Vicar-General, with jurisdiction over the whole of New South Wales, as well as the rest of New Holland (Australia), after reading which Father Thierry immediately went on his knees.
This act of obedience and submission gave me great relief.
I felt that he was a truly religious man, and that half the difficulty was over.

At his invitation I went with him that evening to the house of a gentleman, where I found myself in company with precisely the three persons with whom it was represented to me in England that I should find my difficulty.

But, in fact, they were all very good men, and we became great friends.

Still I was internally amused, for they evidently took me for a raw College youth and I humoured the notion, and was told at a later time that after I had left they had talked of sending me to Bathurst, then the remotest part of the colony.

The next morning as I came from Mass in the little chapel, Father Thierry met me and said:
"Sir, there are two parties among us and I wish to put you in possession of my ideas on the subject"

I replied: "No, Father Thierry, if you will pardon me there are not two parties."

He warmed up, as his quick, sensitive nature prompted, and replied with his face in a glow:
"What can you know about it? You have only just arrived, and have no experience."

"Father Thierry," I said with gravity, "listen to me. There were two parties yesterday; there are none today. They arose from the unfortunate want of some person endowed with ecclesiastical authority, which is now at an end. For the present, in New South Wales, I represent the Church, and those who gather not with me scatter.
So now there is an end of parties"

Great words from a great leader but, after reading Kate Edwards post of today, I wonder at just what I will find (like Fr Ullathorne) on arrival in New Holland.

It appears as if Australia is in a more parlous spiritual state than Great Britain and even Cardinal Pell comes in for some criticism from Australia Incognita.

This will be my second visit so it will be interesting to see just what has changed in six years.

At least Melbourne Diocese has representation from the FSSP so there will be some recourse to spiritual replenishment and some post Lent refreshment of the other kind.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Bishops are depriving the masses!

If liberal Catholics get to hear about Benediction
they will all want it!

It is outrageous and scandalous.

In a world where such an emphasis is placed on equality and fair play the Bishops of England and Wales stand accused of discriminating against some 90% of the Catholic population.

And this has been going on for almost half a century.
The needs and spiritual welfare of hundreds and thousands of Catholics are being routinely ignored by a hierarchy that seem intent on forging ahead with this policy that makes apartheid appear quite benign by comparison.

So just what is it that almost every Catholic born since 1970 (plus those who are slightly older) are being deprived of?

It is the Tridentine Latin Mass aka Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

For reasons best known to their Lordships they have mounted a sustained campaign to keep liberal Catholics away from this cornerstone of the Catholic faith, depriving them of God's grace and that in abundance.

Depriving them of spiritual depth and integrity not even letting them have knowledge of the heady delights of plainchant, silencing the sanctuary bells, locking up the thuribles and removing the communion rails so that the poor Catholic man and woman in the pew have to stand to receive the Body of the Son of God, maker and creator of all things and Supreme Spirit.

The beauty and splendours of Holy Mother Church have been misered away so that modern Catholics cannot take joy and pleasure from attending Holy Mass.

Benediction, The Angelus, the Stations of the Cross - all have been hidden from the eyes of the laity.

How unfair.

This affects a huge number of Catholics who, at present are largely unaware of the riches that are rightfully theirs that have been stolen from them.

Can you imagine what the result would be if a solicitor or lawyer kept back the major share of a family inheritance only allowing the few remaining relatives a portion of Primark suits and IKEA furniture while the antique fine oak and persian carpets lie mouldering in the company vaults?

When the relatives find out they have been cheated there will be ructions and all merry hell to pay.

Please do not spread this around, if the liberal Catholics get a sniff of the fact that they have lost out.....there will be tears before bed!

Picture ex

The forgotten sin

I never hear of this sin today, no one appears to have knowledge of it, even some priests know it not so, presumably, it does not feature much in the confessional litany.

No, it is not witch burning, hamster swallowing or dwarf throwing, it is the sin of being theologically drunk.

Of course, being drunk is a sin in its own right; it is an act of gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly sins and it is a catalyst for many other sins.

Drunkeness comes in many degrees; there's the Irish one of "having drink taken" which is a way of covering the pleasant and (if controlled) harmless stage of having had one or two drinks, just enough to feel a slight quickening of the senses.

Then there is "sloshed," "trolleyed" and all the other epithets we use to describe someone who is pretty well inebriated.

And, finally, the "dead drunk" stage which says it all.

But "theologically drunk" - what is meant by that phrase?

Well, it does not mean an overdose of St Thomas Aquinas; what it does mean is being in such an inebriated state that one is no longer able to distinguish moral values and, therefore, not capable of defending one's faith or recognising when one is committing a sin, the consequences of which are manifest.

This must then fall into the gravest category, that of mortal sin.

For anyone suffering from addiction to alcohol, this definition is not quite so simple.

There are strong forces at work with an addiction and although Archbishop Sheen used to say that "the sin of alcoholism is in the blood" I am fairly certain that a confessor priest would not classify an alcoholic being theologically drunk as being in mortal sin.
Why? Because in committing the sin the person is not in full control of their faculties, deliberate and complete consent (in all probability) are lacking.

But, for the rest of us......being theologically drunk will leave us with both a physical and spiritual hangover.