Saturday, 30 June 2012

Dedicated to those in the Vatican and those in the SSPX who scheme and distort

A step closer to Holywell

And, on our way there, tomorrow,  in our medieval minibus, we shall sing hymns and say the Rosary and indulge in some good Catholic humour (in the manner of medieval pilgrims).
This is a beautiful piece although, I suspect, we shall be more in the 'Faith of Our Fathers' neck of the woods.

I found this hymn to St Winefride in an old Westminster idea as to the music, but it tells her story rather well:

                                                            ST WINEFRIDE

More fair than all the vernal flowers
Embosom'd in the dales,
St Winefride in beauty bloom'd,
The rose of ancient Wales.

With every loveliest grace adorn'd,
The Lamb's unsullied bride,
Apart from all the world she dwelt
Upon this mountainside.

Caradoc then, with impious love,
Her fleeing steps pursued,
And in her sacred maiden blood
His cruel hands imbrued.

He straight the debt of vengeance paid,
Ingulf'd in yawning flame;
But God a deed of wonder work'd
To her immortal fame.

For where the grassy sward received
The martyr's sever'd head,
This holy fountain upward gush'd,
Of crystal vein'd with red.

Here miracles of might are wrought;
Here all diseases fly;
Here see the blind, and speak the dumb,
Who but in faith draw nigh.

Assist us, glorious Winefride,
Dear virgin, ever blest!
The passions of our hearts appease,
And lull each storm to rest.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Black is good

Enough has been said on the issue of whether a priest should wear black or grey or the ghastly Methodist blue.
So, you will be relieved to know that I am not going to add my two penn'orth to the cause but I am going to feature some extracts from posts on the subject (prompted by an innocently meant comment I left on A Reluctant Sinner's post about the new Bishop of Wrexham Diocese) - you may see the post here -

So, first off, a H/T to the Father Joe blog for this:

What do you call the black pants and black clerical shirt a priest wears (with a white collar tab)? They are simply called clerics or clerical clothing. The shirts actually can come in various colors and sometimes Norbertines, Dominicans and others might wear a white clerical shirt. Bishops in some of the hotter climates have permitted this to ease the problem of heat absorption by black clothing.
PRIESTS ARE SUPPOSED TO WEAR CLERICAL CLOTHING. If the priests you know are not doing so, then there is a serious question of disobedience. Church law insists that the priest wear “suitable clerical clothing, according to the norms issued by the Episcopal Conference and according to legitimate local customs.” (Canon 284)

And, from Aggie Catholics we have this:

The black represents a priest dying to self as well as simplicity/poverty.  Every time he puts on his clerics, he should remember that he does not belong to himself, but his bride, the Church.  It also symbolizes simplicity and giving up the comforts, honors, and privileges of the world.The white Roman collar you see priests wearing symbolizes obedience to God and the Church.  This comes from the tradition of a slave having a ring put around their necks and priests choose to give their lives to Christ as his "slaves".  It also represents the marriage "ring" of being we to the Church.  The white also symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.

And, finally, a very fine post from Fr Andrzej Pryzybylsky  

The day when I received a priestly dress was a unique event for me. Although I did not become a priest then (actually we received cassocks at our III year of studies in the seminary), we belonged to clergy in the eyes of the world and people. It was a marvellous day! Some people began greeting Christ when they saw me, and they began sharing their problems. Thanks to the cassock I became a visible sign of a special belonging to God. Therefore, I support the defenders of clerical clothing and although I know that it is not true that 'clothes make the man' I miss the times when wearing a cassock was a normal and daily habit. I like wearing my cassock very much.
Naturally, in the first centuries of Christianity (for over four centuries) priests wore the same clothes as ordinary people. The tunics were normal clothes. When it was fashionable to wear shorter robes some priests kept tunics, and thus they stood out from other people. The Synod of Braga, AD 572, ordered priests to wear different clothes when they went out. The tradition of wearing cassocks was established over a very long period. At the turn of the 15th and the 16th centuries there was a custom of wearing robes called 'révérend' (the word derives from Romance languages). In those times men used to wear robes, especially the gentry liked wearing long dresses: the zupan (a long coat lined with cloth of gold) and the kontusz (an overcoat with split sleeves) and belts. The clerical clothing was established in the 17th and the 18th centuries. The colour of the cassock was connected with the hierarchy of clergy, which has remained up till now: the pope wears a white cassock, cardinals wear red (scarlet) ones, bishops wear amaranth red ones and priests wear black ones. You are right that black is associated with sorrow but in the case of priestly robe this colour has another symbolic meaning. A black cassock is to remind a priest that he 'dies to the world' every day and immerses in eternity. Blackness also symbolizes giving up bright colours and thus giving up what the world brings, its glittering, honours and entertainment.
The clerical collar is an important item of clerical clothing. Our students used to ask me: why is this white belt on you neck called a clerical collar although it is not colourful (in Polish 'koloratka' means colourful)? The word derives from Latin collare meaning a collar (also called a dog collar). A white collar on a priest's neck should remind him of a ring and collar - his marriage to Christ and to the Church and giving his freedom to Christ, thus letting him control his life. We, priests, wear a collar because we want to be directed by Christ in all things. Please notice that our collars are white as opposed to our cassocks. In the background of a black robe it is a symbol of the light of resurrection. We go through the world giving up baubles and colours, living the hope of participation in the brightness of resurrection. This white collar in the background of our black dress is actually a sign of our desires and aspirations.
See how meaningful our robes are and therefore I am sad to see that priests wear cassocks less and less frequently since a cassock itself has proclaimed the most important truths of our faith. And by the way, we, priests, wear trousers under the cassock and it is not a rule that every cassock has 33 buttons.

So there it is. A black and white answer or answers, nothing grey about that whatsoever.

Sacred and ancient - the Lourdes of Wales

Yup, the Confraternity of the Holy Cross (some 10 or 12 of us)  is off, on Sunday, to Holywell to join the LMS annual Pilgrimage.

This holy place is also called the Lourdes of Wales and I hope to be able to dip my toe in the water (no time for a full Lourdes type plunge, I'm afraid - Deo gratias).

I shall pray for you all here, especially Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma members and Charlie J.

Feast of Ss Peter and Paul

Decora lux

What fairer light is this than time itself doth own,
The golden day with beams more radiant brightening?
The princes of God's Church this feast-day doth enthrone,
To sinners heavenward bound their burden lightening.

One taught mankind its creed, one guards the heavenly gate;
Founders of Rome, they bind the world in loyalty;
One by the sword achieved, one by the cross his fate;
With laurelled brows they hold eternal royalty.

Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign
With princely blood, who now their glory share with thee.
What city's vesture glows with crimson deep as thine?
What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?

To God the Three in One eternal homage be,
All honour, all renown, all songs victorious,
Who rules both heaven and earth by one divine decree
To everlasting years in empire glorious.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Is a Vigil Mass legit?

"A Mass or not a Mass? - that is the question"

Today we observe the Vigil of the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul and, for those of us who suffer under the Bishops of England and Wales (with their sparse attention to the needs of their more traditionally inclined faithful), a Mass in the Extraordinary Form can often be hard to find (on a Sunday or on a Holyday).

Priests are hard pressed  and, on many occasions,  cannot offer an EF Mass on the due day because of pressure of OF Mass schedules and other pastoral duties.

Under such circumstances it seems sensible to attend a Vigil Mass if one is on offer; after all, better to have a Mass on the eve of a Feast rather than no Mass at all.

But, there are some Catholic organisations who do not appear to subscribe to pragmatism and they refuse to place Vigil Masses on their Mass listings.

I feel a vote coming on so please check in the sidebar and express your view on the matter.

Further comment on this matter may be seen at A Reluctant Sinner blog

Big Ben and its Catholic (and Welsh) history

News that the epic London landmark, Big Ben, is to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II, may be considered strange.

Pugin strikes again!

I don't think that people will ever stop calling it Big Ben (although the renaming, apparently, refers to the Tower itself).

I think that if I was the monarch (notice that I did not say 'Queen') I would prefer to have had some new sort of a monument built to me, maybe a statue on a plinth in Trafalgar Square?

But few appreciate the role that a Catholic architect had in the design of the clock as well as the tower.

Augustus Pugin was the man who designed the clock tower and the dial to the world's largest timepiece, sub contracted by Master architect, Charles Barry.

In the later stages, the man responsible for overseeing the construction as First Commissioner of Works was Welshman, Benjamin Hall, later, to become Baron Llanover of Monmouthshire. He was, by all accounts, an ultra tall man and many attribute the clock's nickname as coming from 'Big Ben Hall'.

However nice this might seem as a story it is far more likely that it was dubbed 'Big Ben' after a popular boxer at the time (at least, according to Wiki).

But Pugin's footprint is writ large over the structure and it is here that I refer you on to Laurence England's blog which has a good piece also about Pugin.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Nuns on the Run?

                                      Well, at least they look like proper nuns

Tim Stanley has an interesting insight in his post for the Daily may read it here

The joy of suffering

Yet another case is going forward for judgement on one man's right to commission his own death. The person in question is 58 years old and suffering from "locked in syndrome" following a severe stroke.

When such tragic cases hit the headlines it seems to me that the benefits of suffering are never raised, never recognised even.

Can there be benefits attached to an existence that forces you to be reliant on other people for every personal need?

"The vertical bar pointing to the heavens is God's will. The horizontal bar contradicting it is our will. When our will is in conflict with God's will we have a cross. A cross in the mind is fear, anxiety, unhappiness. A cross in the body is pain" (Archbishop Fulton Sheen)

As Catholics we know that there are indeed profound benefits to be gained if we can approach suffering in the right way.
 I am reminded me of a talk given by Archbishop Sheen on the subject of suffering. He met with a woman who was in what we used to call an 'iron lung' - she had been subject to this treatment for some years and was due to spend the rest of her life inanimate in all but speech.

The Archbishop asked her if she knew what suffering was and she replied "No".
He then wrote to her daily over a long period of time and I have no doubt that his letters would have been a lifeline for her.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen had a great insight into suffering and, in later life, he actually experienced it himself following complicated heart surgery.

But, more than that, he wrote about it and it is a constant thread running through most of his books and talks.

Here is what he has to say on the issue of what he calls "wasted pain" -

"One of the greatest tragedies in the world is wasted pain. Pain without relation to the Cross is like an unsigned cheque - without value.
But once we have countersigned with the signature of the Saviour on the Cross, it takes on an infinite value.

A feverish brow that never throbs in unison with a Head crowned with thorns, or an aching hand never borne in patience with a hand on the Cross, is sheer waste.
The world is worse for that pain when it might have been much better.

All the sickbeds of the world therefore, are either on the right side of the Cross or on the left; they ask to be taken down, or like the thief on the right, they ask to be taken up.

It is not so much what people suffer that makes the world mysterious: it is rather how much they miss when they suffer.
They seem to forget that even as children they made obstacles in their games in order to have something to overcome. Why then, when they grow into man's estate, should there not be prizes won by effort and struggle?

Cannot the spirit of man rise with adversity as the bird rises against the resistance of the wind? Do not the game fish swim upstream? Must not the alabaster box be broken to fill the house with ointment?.......................Why then cannot pain be made redemption? Why under the alchemy of Divine Love cannot crosses be turned into crucifixes?........."

Those words say it all really. The negative processes of suffering can be re-directed to positives.


By offering pain and humiliation to the Holy Trinity

By allowing your own suffering to be a platform for others to show their love and care and charity

By resigning oneself to God's will and offering up the pain for the release of the Holy Souls

By bearing the pain and indignity in reparation for blasphemies against the Holy Name and Our Lady

Blessed Miguel Pro wrote a most moving prayer on suffering; it is not an easy prayer to say. It is even harder to abide by the sentiments in the prayer:-

Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be he a thousand times who desires it so.

 If life be harder, love makes it also stronger and, only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the cross of my Lord  Jesus Christ.

Love without egotism, without relying on self but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish…..I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith….Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigour to my confidence.

Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but, so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee.

Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

This is where we have all gone wrong

As Catholics we have a range of weaponry in our war chest; the Rosary, novenas, penances, pilgrimages, confession and Holy Communion, retreats and so on.

But....are they enough?

Surely we need something over and above these rather dated and old fashioned means of gaining God's good grace?

Well, I think I have found, please do not thank me, I am more than happy to pass on my discovery in the certain knowledge that it will set you free - liberate your senses! Make you a whole person at ease with your inner self.

What can it be?  Essence of monkey glands? No.

Some rare concoction of exotic plants and tree bark? No.

OK then - it's not the old real ale therapy? No, of course not.

                                          I'm sticking with the Catholic white dove thanks

It is called Emotional Freedom Technique - O joy!

This is what I have been searching for, something to release my emotions other than the well known brew called The Reverend James.

EFT (if I may call it that) will not leave you with a hangover or upset stomach but it will probably, put a bit of a dent in your wallet or purse.

So - what is involved?

Well, it appears to be a mix of self hypnosis, acupressure and meditation (orange dressing gowns are optional) and (can it get any better?) it involves tapping. Yes, tapping. also appears as if there are vacancies for EFT least I have read online that you can get certified quite easily.
That's when the men in white coats come knocking at your door and you wake up in a room with rubber walls.

I think I'll stick with my Rosary........after all, I am a Catholic!

Monday, 25 June 2012

What a real nun looks like

"What on earth is LCWR when it's at home?"

Sr John Francis RIP

No lipstick, earrings or M & S cardigan, just a wimple, habit, rosary beads and a crucifix - plus a good Irish smile...invincible!

And a supporting post from Christine at A Catholic View.

A few good starts to the week

First and foremost, in this age when many are falling away from the Faith, mainly out of ignorance or laziness, here is a great post from Ascending Mount Carmel blog.

And another post right on target from James Preece at Catholic and Loving it - so you thought that reception by hand was all part of the Second Reformation did you?

To top it all off we have the Holy Father stating that we have suffered from liturgical abuses and irregularities, thanks to Cathcon - so, no more self expression on the sanctuary, hand clapping, kissing or ad libbing!

What a start to the week....can it get any better than this?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

It is the real thing

Last week, whilst with Catholic friends our discussion touched on the SSPX. 
I was surprised to find our friends making a statement that, up until then, I had only believed in myself in a very private way.

They stated that it was only really when attending an SSPX Mass that they felt that all was right - all was perfect and complete.

I perfectly understand this view and find it refreshing that others believe it also.

That is not to show any disrespect whatsoever to our great priests who struggle in their parishes, offering both the old and the new in an effort to hold all together, to abide by the orders of their Bishop and to the guidance of the Holy Father.

But an SSPX priest, when he celebrates Mass, does so in an environment that is wholly Catholic, wholly at one with Christ.
And he is completely dedicated to the Mass of all Time as is the church where he celebrates Mass.
The air is not defiled by echoes of guitars and tambourines, there has never been any inane pre Mass chatter in the church, no one has ever walked across the path of the tabernacle and bowed instead of genuflecting.

No lay person has ever laid hands on the Blessed Sacrament, the ambience evokes totally the hermeneutic of continuity; when you attend Mass there you are back in the time of Christ. The basic elements of the liturgy that materialised over the first three or four hundred years of Christianity are palpable - Christ lives, God is present!

That is one reason why we so badly need the SSPX back within the fold. They provide the gold standard against which, others may set their benchmark.

When the continuity of tradition has been fractured, and to a large degree lost, it is invaluable to be able to take that missing gem and restore it to its rightful place in the crown that is Christ's.

A Mass untainted by modernism

Saturday, 23 June 2012

"When England returns to Walsingham Our Lady will return to England" ~ Pope Leo XIII

This from the Latin Mass Society.......

You are invited to the third Latin Mass Society walking pilgrimage for the conversion of England. We will be walking from Ely to Walsingham from 24 to 26 August 2012. This is a bank-holiday weekend. Pilgrims will meet by 7pm on the evening of Thursday 23 August at the Guide Hall, St. Johns Road, Ely, CB6 3BW. The pilgrimage will begin with the Traditional Mass in St Ethelreda's Catholic Church 19 Egremont Street, Ely, CB6 1AE on Friday morning (Mass at 6.15am).

There will be a sung Traditional Latin Mass each day and Confession will be available throughout the pilgrimage.

Mass on the second day will be in the private chapel at Oxburgh Hall. This is a c15th moated manor house which is still the home of the Bedingfield family who built it nearly six hundred years ago. Oxburgh Hall was a recusant house in penal times and has a priest hole.

During the pilgrimage there will be recitation of the Rosary, the singing of traditional hymns, periods of silence and quiet reflection, and the chance to chat with other pilgrims and to renew friendships, or extablish new ones.

Accommodation en route

This pilgrimage is open to all ages and to families.

We want to encourage as many families to attend this pilgrimage as possible. For that reason we have secured indoor accommodation for each night. The indoor accommodation is for use by women and children. Women and children are also free to camp if they wish. Camping is compulsory for men, although this will be indoors on the Thursday night. Please note that children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Daily Mass open to everyone - not just pilgrims

If, for any reason, you are unable to take part in the pilgrimage itself, you are more than welcome to attend any or all of the Masses along the way. The details are as follows:

Friday, 24 August: St Etheldreda’s Catholic Church, 19 Egremont Street, Ely, CB6 1AE 6.15am
Saturday, 25 August: Oxburgh Hall, Oxborough, near Swaffham, Norfolk PE33 9PS 8am
Sunday, 26 August: Chapel of Reconciliation, Catholic National Shrine, Walsingham, 2pm  

The Final Day of the Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage will conclude on Sunday afternoon starting at 2pm at the National Shrine in Walsingham (in the Chapel of Reconciliation next to the Slipper Chapel). Pilgrims will have the chance to visit the Slipper Chapel as well. This will be followed by a procession along the Holy Mile from the Slipper Chapel to the ruins of the Abbey in the centre of Walsingham itself. The Abbey grounds have been booked from 4pm and there will be prayers of thanksgiving offered there. The gate to the grounds closes at 5pm, so pilgrims will have the chance to spend some time there, after the conclusion of the pilgrimage.

The Slipper Chapel is so called because pilgrims would traditionally leave their shoes there before walking the Holy Mile to the Holy House of Walsingham, where in the eleventh century Our Lady appeared in a dream to the Lady Richeldis de Faverches and asked her to build a house like the Holy House of Nazareth. The house contained a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary with the child Jesus seated on her lap. A priory was later built beside the Holy House. During the reign of King Henry VIII the priory was closed as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the statue was taken to London and burnt.

Coach from London on the Sunday

For those wishing just to attend the final Mass in Walsingham, there is a coach leaving London on Sunday, 26 August for the final Mass at Walsingham. If you wish to book a place, please phone the LMS office (020 7404 7284).

Can You Lend a Hand? Volunteers Needed!

As the pilgrimage grows from year to year, we need more volunteers to help things run smoothly. We especially need people to help drive support vehicles. All your expenses (petrol etc) will be covered and you will be offered a reduced rate to attend the pilgrimage. We also need people willing to help with stewarding and others to help with the preparation of food. Phone the LMS office on 020 7404 7284 or email us on if you can help. Thank you.

Getting to and from the pilgrimage

The Guide Hall in Ely is a short walk from Ely train station. At the conclusion of the pilgrimage we can take you back to Ely. Please note that the pilgrimage will end at c.5pm on Sunday and it takes approximately an hour and a half to get from Walsingham to Ely.

Should you have any queries about driving to the pilgrimage please contact the LMS office on 020 7404 7284 or email us on

How to recognise a modernist nun

This is a real nun - not a modernist one

A true modernist nun is recognisable by the following:-

  1. No habit
  2. Hair styled by Mad Max
  3. Couture by Oxfam
  4. Make-up and Lipstick by Blind Pugh
  5. Winning the fight against anorexia
  6. Travel in packs
  7. Frisbee earrings
  8. Stainless steel vaguely cross shaped brooch
  9. Over 70 years old
  10. Lives in groups in a convent covent coven

This post was inspired by Making Things Visible, The Tenth Crusade and Fr Z. 

And - if you think that I am off beam....just view the video clips on the above blogs

Friday, 22 June 2012

Queen to 'Shake hands with the devil'

Breaking news, it has just been announced that HM Queen Elizabeth II will meet Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, on her forthcoming tour of Northern Ireland and, more than that, she will shake hands with the man.

Repugnant as it may appear, such events inevitably provoke the phrase "What would Christ do?" and, I am certain that Our Blessed Lord, would shake McGuinness's hand but also tell him: "Go and sin no more".

Sadly, the anniversary of Captain Robert Nairac, a young British officer and a Catholic, foully and brutally murdered by IRA thugs,has just passed and still no member of the IRA will inform the Nairac family as to the whereabouts of Robert's body.

The tragic Nairac affair is told HERE and, of course, his murder took place on Martin McGuinness's watch.

It is a good thing to forgive events of the past and I grudgingly agree that it is good for him to meet Queen Elizabeth but, if McGuinness could now bring some pressure to bear on those who know......then that would truly be a cause for forgiveness and a resolution to the Troubles.

And for those lovers of Tolkien...........

.of whom I am one, I am indebted to A Wandering Oblate for a post carrying the Hail Mary in Elvish.

Here it is:

Ai Meri, meleth-phant, Hir ah-le;
daethannen im oessath phain
a daethannen iaf e-huvec - Iesus.
Aer Meri, Eru-odhril,
hero amman raegdain
sia ned in e-gurthem.

A Saint for all Seasons

Today is the feastday of St Thomas More, intellectual, lawyer, politician, poet, writer and...a great man.

This clip shows some of his witty remarks from the film 'A Man for all Seasons'.
 In the film he was played by Paul Scofield, also a great Catholic* (*apologies, I have since discovered that he was not a Catholic) as well as an accomplished actor.

But one of St Thomas More's most poignant lines is not included in the clip; it was made by him when he commented on the lamentable state of the Catholic Church in England and it could be just as applicable today.

More said (of the absence of backbone among the Bishops and, to a lesser degree, the priests), that the country suffered from:
                                 "........A weak clergy lacking in grace"

And this is one of the accounts of his execution on July 6th 1535......St Thomas was addressing his executioner at this point....

"After saying the Misere on his knees, he asked forgiveness, saying, 'Thou wilt do me this day a greater benefit than any mortal man can be able to give me. Pluck up thy spirit, man, and be not afraid to do thy office. My neck is very short; take heed therefore that thou strike not awry for saving thy honesty.'

Then, covering his eyes and laying his head upon the block, he removed aside his beard, saying that (he) had never committed any treason.
So with great alacrity and spiritual joy he received the fatal blow.

And then he found those words true that he had spoken often, that a man may lose his head and have no harm; yea, I say, unspeakable good and everlasting happiness.

And here is a prayer composed by the great man whilst imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1534, it is a good prayer for Catholic bloggers to adopt......a great prayer for Catholic bloggers to adopt....

Give me the grace, Good Lord
To set the world at naught. To set the mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men's mouths.
To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.
Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.
Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.
To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God. To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.
Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.
To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes.
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.
To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations.
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.
To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.
These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.

                                        St Thomas More - Ora pro nobis

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The five minute pilgrimage

Today we visited Cardigan, a small town on the far West coast of Wales. Famous of course! The famous Cardiganshire Corgi, a dog trained to herd cattle.

But Cardigan is also famous as the home of the National Shrine of Wales, that of Our Lady of the Taper and it has been a place of pilgrimage since the 12th century, maybe longer.

So, on this bright and sunny day we set off to visit good Catholic friends in the vicinity but stopped off first to pay our respects to Our Blessed Mother and to leave a few of our troubles and woes at her feet (and to pray for all Catholic bloggers).

I am happy to report that the Shrine looks good despite the fact that it is located in a 1970s designed church that owes much to the NCP Car Park style of architecture rather than the baroque or gothic.

Most important of all, the statue of Our Lady, candle in hand and the infant Christ cradled in her other arm, looked good, we felt as though we had returned home.

And then, after our five minute pilgrimage we were off to meet our friends in a local hostelry and to engage in Catholic badinage - as has been the custom of Catholic pilgrims since the time of Chaucer.

Did we get that the right way round? Five minutes for Our Lady and her Divine Son and a couple of hours down the pub?

Maybe, maybe not but, as we are off to the LMS Pilgrimage to Holywell as part of The Confraternity of the Holy Cross on 1st July, I thought that Our Lady would be as understanding as all mothers are and bear with us in our weakness.


                                  Shrine Prayer

                   My soul glorifies the Lord,
               Henceforth all ages will call me Blessed.
                The Almighty works marvels for me:
                           Holy His name.

                   Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
              Be it done unto me according to your word.

Father, Your Son Jesus born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit is the Light of the world. May the same Spirit lead us to imitate Mary’s faith love and humility, that, guided by her example, we may follow the light of her Son on our Journey through life and come at last to see you as you are, and praise you in the everlasting kingdom of heaven.

Holy Mary Mother of God, you offer your Son for our adoration
May we too treasure His word in our hearts and help bring His light.

              Our Lady of Cardigan         Pray for Wales

              Our Lady of Cardigan         Pray for us

Be at ease with your Catholic side

The Liberal Catholic test..........

You are most definitely in the liberal camp if you:-

  1. Become apoplectic when you hear latin spoken
  2. Like to have a chat in church before, during and after Mass
  3. Applaud in church when the Chairman of the Parish Council’s birthday is announced
  4. Say the Our Father aeroplane fashion
  5. Like to hug your neighbour at the kiss of peace
  6. Are not too fond of Pope Benedict
  7. Like Sister Sharon’s new earrings
  8. Possess a polyester gown for the liturgical dance
  9. Are allergic to incense
  10. Are a founder member of the Graham Kendrick fan club
None of those? There you are - you see you really are a traditionalist - be at ease with your Catholic self!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Cameron leaves his 8 year old daughter at the pub

The redtops had a field day last week after the Cameron family returned from the pub (where, so it is said, our PM quaffed a pint or two of the Reverend James) only to find that they had left their eight year old daughter behind.

Shock! Horror! – actually, it must have been devastating, Mrs Linen and I have never done anything like that  - but not for want of trying!

So now David and Samantha (I can call them that because I vote Conservative, or used to) are being castigated and tagged as bad parents….hmmm…..I seem to recall another incident when a couple left their twelve year old son* behind by accident...............

...... and He wasn’t found for three whole days! 

*just in case there are any pedants lurking out there…..also foster son.

Monday, 18 June 2012

What's it to be...become a monk or be hanged?

Well, it turned out to be both in the case of another of our great martyrs, Blessed Sebastian Newdigate.

Born in the County of Middlesex he was a son of a nobleman and enjoyed the privileges of court and, in particular, the friendship of King Henry VII - a dangerous occupation if ever was.

After his wife had died prematurely, Sebastian decided to enter a monastery and remarked to his sister, Jane Dormer, Duchess of Feria: "what would you say if you next heard of me as a monk?"

She responded: "I should be less surprised to see thee hung"

She lived to see both.
Not a judge of others
but obedient to God

Sebastian Newdigate, entered the London Charterhouse and sought the life of a monk but, when asked to sign the Oath of Supremacy, he refused and Henry had him cast first into Marshalsea Prison and then the Tower of London.

He remained firm in the face of Henry's promises and threats and when the King asked him if he was more learned than all the ecclesiatics put together he replied:

"I may not judge of others, nor do I esteem myself wise or holy, being far short in either, only this,  I assure myself that the faith and doctrine I profess is no new thing, but always among the faithful held for Christians and Catholic. We must obey God rather than man."

 He gained his martyr's crown at Tyburn on 19th June 1535 along with BB.  Middlemore and Exmew

  Martyrs of England and Wales - ORA PRO NOBIS

Father Norman Weslin RIP

Do you recall the newsreel images of an ageing priest being arrested on campus property back in 2009?

That was Fr Weslin, fearless defender of the unborn child, remember him in your prayers, here is his obituary from These Stone Walls.......

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ritual, tradition, pageantry and pomp

No, no, no, not the Latin Mass but the rather wonderfully British ceremony of Trooping the Colour, the celebration of the official birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

How we Brits (and quite a few Americans, Canadians, Australians and other nationalities) love it.

The spectacle, the colour, music and atmosphere all help to conjure up modest feelings of pride in our nation and its past.
 And it all has its base in linking back to events in our history and showing that we, as a nation, are more than capable of facing events in the future.

The uniforms of the Guardsmen are resplendent and the leather and brass accoutrements sparkle in the summer sun, and they are all made out of decent materials, bear skins, leather, cloth...not a scrap of polyester anywhere.

Do I feel an analogy coming on?

I must away to drink a toast to Her Majesty and to soon as the watery sun is over the watery yardarm.

If the menu is blank how do you know what's on offer?

It's not "off" it just isn't there!

Can you imagine sitting down in a restaurant and being handed a menu that has gaps in the listings?


But this is what is happening in the Catholic Church at both Diocesan and Parish levels.

So many parishes that offer an EF Mass one Sunday (or Wednesday) per month do not actually show it on the church notices.

Look on the website of the parish or diocese and more (or, rather, less), of the same.

The Latin Mass is not apparent so it does not exist..........and most Catholics believe that to be the case.

So, a visitor to the region, on Googling his or her chances of finding a Latin Mass, is left with the impression that none exist. Shame.

It is shameful that some Diocesan websites totally ignore the fact that the TLM is celebrated in a few of the parishes and one cannot but arrive at the conclusion that those in authority want it to be like that so that, starved of oxygen, the patient will die or, at least, appear to die.

At the time of the 'excommunications' of the SSPX Bishops in 1988 I recall some impromptu legislation that was laid down by some Bishops with regard to the Latin Mass.

No broadcasting of its venue or timings was permitted. It could not take place on a Sunday and children should be discouraged (so it had to be held at 5pm just when they were preparing to begin the evening ritual of tea and bed).And it should not take place on the main altar but in a side chapel.

And people rejoiced when apartheid came to an end!

But, the answer to this thorny problem lies within our grasp; we must be most un-British and.....COMPLAIN........LOUD AND CLEAR (but, always with Christian courtesy).

Complain to the parish priest, to the Bishop, to the webmaster, the parish council and, finally, to the local paper if you cannot get justice.

But, above all else, complain.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Bishops of England and Wales prepare to welcome the SSPX

Today we pray especially for our priests

H/T to Christine Niles for flagging this up:

June 15th is World Priest Day.

Let us pray for our priests, who are at the front lines of battle every day, and whom the enemy attacks with all his might.
I and all the priests and deacons of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy enthusiastically support and deeply appreciate the hard work and efforts of in sponsoring World Priest Day and the Rosary Relay for Priests on June 15. It is with enormous gratitude that prayers for priests are being said around the world. We priests NEED and WANT these prayers and we pray for ourselves so we can better minister to Holy Mother Church and all her children.

Another hymn for this great feast

We tend to forget (or, maybe do not know) this wonderful hymn to the Sacred Heart whose feast it is today.
How far we have come in Great Britain in the past thirty years or so.
I can recall certain people of other Christian faiths referring to our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as "offal worship" - thankfully, that is, hopefully, all in the past.

Have no fear of failure.....

First preached under the heading: NO FEAR OF FAILURE by Fr Aidan Nichols OP and reproduced by kind permission of 

'When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.' One of the sayings in the Gospel tradition, then, that registers the merciful love of Christ for his own people, the consecrated nation.
In this spirit, he sends out his twelve closest friends, his inner group of disciples, on mission. He sees them as the new 'twelve patriarchs' of the people, destined to give the House of Israel a fresh beginning, just as the great heroes of the past, the sons of Jacob, had done before. And what was the result? A flop. The Twelve do not convert Israel. Jesus will weep over the Jerusalem that rejects him. Whatever else we may say about his Sacrifice, he goes to his death in the awareness that he had been unable to bring his people to share through him the life of the Father.
This tells us two things -- something about God and something about ourselves. First, something about God. When God involves himself in our world and becomes incarnate, his life is, in human terms, a failure, and a spectacular one at that. This seems like nonsense. How can divinity which, among other things, is omnipotence, fail?
God is indeed omnipotent, but his omnipotence is in function of his love. His power realizes what his love intends. It does not compel assent when the 'Yes' of creatures is withheld. If God is to show himself in our world precisely in his love, he must be open to possibilities of defeat. And in a world affected through and through by original sin, by the warp that makes ordinary respectable people do the things we read about in newspapers, it's morally inevitable that God will be defeated -- at first.
Boundlessly exigent, ennobling love such as God's must be: this puts limitless demands on us, and hence we want to blot it out. That is something already presented to us in the Passion narrative of St Matthew, the first Gospel, though it will not be analysed until the fourth Gospel, St John.
Secondly, the failure in human terms of Jesus's ministry tells us something about ourselves. If the incarnate Son of God accepted the defeat of the Cross as the right way to witness to the love that is his Father, why are we so frightened of failure? In countries like Britain, the Catholic Church today seems paralysed by the thought of seemingly inevitable decline. For the liberal press, it is certain that Christendom is over, and for the more traditionally minded newspaper, the question is only, 'How long, O Lord?'
How long before a multi-faith society is constitutionally recognized -- a prospect which is only a half-way house before we move on to acknowledging a global ethic -- we might call it 'ecological humanism' -- as the religion of the future, in comparison with which all historic religions will look parochial and out of date.
Such a prospect should not make us defeatist and passive. The Church has known many setbacks in history, many unpropitious sets of circumstances in which to work. She has known situations where whole populations have fallen away, leaving only tiny remnants to carry the precious burden of revelation, the message of salvation, through history.
Let them do their worst. They will not say 'No' more vociferously, or (for that matter) with greater indifference, than many of the participants in the Passion of Christ.
Whatever happens, our task is to be faithful to the mission our Lord has given us, and, if we are young, to consider by what means we can best serve the Kingdom of God -- it may be to live and work directly for the Church as a priest or in a religious order, perhaps helping to revive one that has become moribund yet represents something valuable. If we are middle-aged, and at the height of our influence in our particular milieu, 'being faithful' will mean using that influence. If we are old, it will mean counselling others by what we say and do, and praying that the Church be kept Catholic and not fritter away her commission in platitudes and blandness.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What, precisely, is a personal prelature?

It would appear (although, as far as I am aware, no official statement has yet been verified) that a personal prelature has been offered by Cardinal Levada to Bishop Fellay of the Society of St Pius X.

What does that actually mean?

 Opus Dei operates under a personal prelature and it appears to be a quasi autonomous arrangement whereby an order or group, with the approval of the Holy Father operates independently of a Diocese and reports direct to Rome. Obviously, within certain parameters set by the CDF.

This is how Wikipedia defines it:

Personal prelature is an institutional structure of the Roman Catholic Church which comprises a prelate, clergy and laity who undertake specific pastoral activities. Personal prelatures, similar to dioceses and military ordinariates, are under the governance of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops. These three types of ecclesiastical structures are composed of lay people served by their own secular clergy and prelate. Unlike dioceses which cover territories, personal prelatures —like military ordinariates— take charge of persons as regards some objectives regardless of where they live.

Still not a crystal clear definition but at least a blueprint for how the SSPX might be brought back to full communion with Holy Mother Church.

The issue now is, will Bishop Fellay go for it?  Undoubtedly there will be some clauses that will cause him to reflect.

And the intransigent three, Bishops de Mallerais, Williamson and de Galarreta, what influence will they have on Bishop Fellay?

I believe that they will not unduly sway the good Superior General who will do what he believes is right, not what others may wish him to do.

Above all (literally) we have the Holy Spirit into whose power we entrust a positive outcome.

What would Our Lady wear to Mass?

There has been some debate recently (again) regarding the wearing of the mantilla. Mary O'Regan of
 The Path Less Taken has a sound and well reasoned post on the subject as does Dorothy B of
An Honour and a Responsibility, Annie of the Arundel & Brighton blog and Joe Shaw of LMS Chairman. - so I feel quite safe at throwing my two penn'orth into the ring.

I think that all of the bloggers who have commented so far have been at pains to point out that there is no obsessive disorder involved here; if women wish to go to Mass bare headed, sobeit. That is their decision.

So, I would like to take you back in time, not so very long ago, maybe seventy or eighty years or so.
To the age when both men and women wore hats as part of their everyday headwear.
No male over the age of ten would have walked the streets without a cap of some kind on their head and every female from pram stage onwards would have done likewise.

Off to Mass? Where's your hat Albert?

So what happened when the Catholics among them entered a church?

Well, of course, the men would remove their hats and the women would keep them on; it was the custom, the culture, if you like.

And today, the custom has not changed for men; we still remove our knotted handkerchiefs, bowlers or derbys when we enter where God Himself is present.

Would it cause dissent if I strolled in wearing a rather natty (if frayed) Panama? I rather think so.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Holy Father's decision regarding the SSPX today?

Pray for a "Welkommen" for the SSPX

Let us pray that, if true, it will be a positive it at Whispers in the Loggia.

Do not attend Mass unless you are reconciled

Today* is the anniversary of the execution of another of the English priest martyrs, Blessed Thomas Woodhouse.

Blessed Thomas was apprehended whilst saying Holy Mass and thrown into London's grim Fleet Prison.
And then, when the Plague took grip on the capital, he was moved to the Cambridge house of Tyrrel, the Fleet Warder.

He was not a silent witness to the Faith, or, a silent guest.
He rebuked Tyrrel (knowing that he was an ex Catholic) for eating meat during Lent and told him that he would not stay under the same roof as him if he continued to do so.

When a Protestant grace was said at table, he refused to take part and, on one occasion, he was placed in the stocks for this act of rebellion and publicly abused.

Back in the Fleet Blessed Thomas continued with his practice of saying the Mass daily as well as The Divine Office.
He despatched letters to Lord Burghley (Queen Elizabeth's Chief Minister) asking him to repent and to counsel the Queen to join him.
"Mr Cecil" aka Lord Burghley

When interviewed by Lord Burghley, Blessed Thomas refused to recognise his status and addressed him as "Mr Cecil" as, in his eyes, the Queen had no right to bestow titles.

And, in the course of the interview he boldly told Burghley that, if he was ever to celebrate Mass in his house, Burghley must definitely not attend unless he was fully reconciled to Rome.
Under the circumstances an uncompromising and bold statement to make.

Taken to Tyburn he continued to preach the truth from the scaffold, urging the Queen to repent and ask pardon of God.

He was then hanged, drawn and quartered and gained his martyr's crown 13th June 1573.

* The internet SQPN site has his date of death and feastday as 19th June but my little and very ancient martyrology has it at 13th.

                                   BLESSED THOMAS WOODHOUSE - ORA PRO NOBIS

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Just how long is a cubit?

At least Noah had the advantage of a warning from the Almighty but we few, here in wettest Wales, have been unprepared for the deluge that has been with us now for some years weeks.

The garden is a swamp and the bantams have taken to paddling around a la duck fashion.

The weathermen (and women) say that it will be with us at least until July (hopefully they mean July this year).

What to do in such appalling weather conditions?

Toy thoughtfully with a hara kiri knife?

Put on a Gorecki CD?

Sing "Shine Jesus Shine" (and mean it)?

Or build an ark?

For those of little faith who believe that most of the accounts contained within the Old Testament are fairy stories, the story of Noah is remarkably prosaic and detailed.

The ark that Noah and his fine sons crafted was made of cypress wood, a very hard softwood, if you follow me. It is also full of natural resinous type oil and so would repel the inroads of water. But, in true boatbuilder fashion, the ark was caulked from within with burning pitch.
This working model of the Ark was built by a Dutchman because
he feared that the The Netherlands would be flooded (?)

By all accounts it was no Gypsy Moth flying across the surface of the sea, more like a rather squat oil tanker and about as manoeuvrable as an iceberg.

We are told that it measured 300 cubits in length, 50 wide and 30 high. Now, a cubit is very roughly based on the length of a man's forearm which, erring on the generous side would make it two feet in length.

Convert that to yards and the ark is not so very big at 200 yards from sharp to blunt end (or, in the ark's case, from blunt end to blunt end).

Now I do believe totally in the story of Noah from a Douay Bible, but I do have a bit of a hang up when it comes to fitting the animal population of the world, times two, into a vessel 200 yards high by 33 yards wide.
The Old Testament definitely mentions "wild animals" most specifically but, I do have some concerns as far as that is concerned.

Doubtless there will be some learned folk out there who can advise better (and I welcome any advice) but I am assuming that the animals that Noah and family herded onboard were actually domestic animals, two goats, two chickens, two sheep etc.And that any wild animals were left to fend for themselves.
Is it possible that what we classify as a domestic animal today might have qualified as "wild" in Noah's time?

Pairs of domestic beasts would fit very nicely into that sort of area and any extra space would, of course, be dedicated to animal feedstuffs and living accommodation for the Noah family.

But as for fitting in an arguable 1.5 million species times two....I think that's as wild a theory as claiming that Noah was six hundred years old.

Time for a little bit of Mgr Benson

The Teresian Contemplative

She moves in tumult; round her lies
The silence of the world of grace;
The twilight of our mysteries
Shines like high noonday on her face;
Our piteous guesses dim with fears,
She touches, handles, sees and hears.

In her all longings mix and meet;
Dumb souls through her are eloquent;
She feels the world beneath her feet
Thrill in a passionate intent;
Through her our tides of feelings roll
And find their God within her soul.

Her faith the awful face of God
Brightens and blinds with utter light;
Her footsteps fall where late He trod;
She sinks in roaring voids of night;
Cries to her Lord in black despair,
And knows, yet knows not, He is there.

A willing sacrifice she takes
The burden of our fall within;
Holy she stands; while on her breaks
The lightning of the wrath of sin;
She drinks her Saviour’s cup of pain,
And, one with Jesus, thirsts again.