Tuesday, 31 July 2012

"Brick by brick" is too slow

At least, it’s too slow in England and Wales.

There is rather an air of defeatism in the blogosphere at present.
 The Church seems to be in ‘one step forward, two steps back' mode and that is not good.  

Of course, some will say that it’s all in the hands of Almighty God and that the Holy Spirit will act as and when it is deemed appropriate.
But that doesn’t stem the desire to get things moving, to see some real advances being made in the face of secular governments intent on destroying Faith and Family.

And, of course, when governments attack the Church it’s like a wild beast savaging a dumb animal, it is a signal for all and sundry to join in; the eroticists, humanists, atheists and the rest of the hyenas and jackals.

And who will watch the watchers? Who challenges the Bishops of England and Wales on vital matters?

Is there, I wonder, a need for a ‘society’ type of structure to organise and lobby, to promote orthodoxy and to confront both society and the wayward Bishops?

We do not have (in England and Wales) any form of organised and cohesive action group to take on matters of liturgical abuse, wilful actions by the Bishops or the re-evangelisation of the bulk of Catholics in the pews.

We do have individual recourse to both the Papal Nuncio and to Rome but, with the best will in the world, it’s rather like stuffing a message in a bottle and chucking it into the ocean.
You may get a response but it could take years and will undoubtedly be from the wrong person!

It is not uncharitable to describe the bulk of Catholics in England and Wales as being ignorant. It is a fact and one that should worry the Church authorities.
It is not wilful ignorance so much as institutionalised ignorance where all fundamental knowledge has been eradicated or overlooked.

Catholic bloggers live in a rather sense heightened world, we have Catholic news and information at our fingertips and, within seconds, we can view events and happenings in both the Catholic and the secular world.

But ask an average Catholic if they ever read a blog let alone a Catholic one and you will be met with a blank stare.

Ask them about the Holy Father’s Moto Proprio or what is meant by “Extraordinary Form” and you will receive more of the same.

Take this a few steps further and explain that reception of Holy Communion by hand is only available on an indult basis and you will probably be booted out of the door.

Of course, there is no particular reason why the Catholic layman or woman should read Catholic blogs but, if their only source of current Church affairs is from The Tablet and The Catholic Times…you get my drift.

In addition we have genuine corporate amnesia with regard to the changes and effects that have taken place since the early 1970s and their relationship to what went on before the Second Vatican Council.

And, of course, the bulk of Catholics have known nothing more than what they have been fed upon for the past fifty years. No one born after 1960 can have much experienced based concept of the pre Vatican II version of Catholic social and spiritual life.

So what issues would such an organisation tackle?

Here are the five main areas:-

  1. Catholic Education or, rather, the lack of it
  2. Re-evangelising the Faithful
  3. Confronting the Bishops (unswervingly but charitably)
  4. Developing Latin Mass centres
  5. Social Teaching and Justice

There may be other areas and you may reasonably argue with regard to other points but this is a start.

But, as to how it could be achieved…….that is for another post (unless anyone cares to suggest a path forward?).

Monday, 30 July 2012

The dress code.....and no exceptions

It's rigid, inflexible, but you won't get through the door unless you abide by it:


No, that's not Church silly.

It's the Orient Express, London that runs to a host of destinations....you cannot board if you are improperly dressed.

On the lookout for shabby dress

Amazing Grace - both of them

Last Sunday's Missa Cantata at St Benedict's Church, Sketty, Swansea was routinely much as usual.
Totally uplifting and joyous.

I could not find yesterday's Mass on Youtube,
 but here is another fine example of the Kyrie

The choir, (the Newcastle Emlyn Schola) though few in number, sang like forty angels on full amplification, thank you.

The newly refurbished church (another step closer to orthodoxy) was beautiful yet simple and the celebrant, Fr Jason Jones, sang the Mass pitch and tone perfect, but then, he is Welsh and his vocal chords are naturally engineered to fine tenor mode.

But it was the sermon given by Fr J that really made me wake up.

As I was serving on the altar, I was, along with the two other servers, behind the priest.
Now sound systems in churches do not take account of altar servers; they are all set at the top of the aisles and are pointed, of course, to the body of the church.

We poor souls on the sanctuary are left hearing only brief snatches of clear speech.

Nevertheless, straining to comprehend the homily, I did pick up the words "Grace" and "Actual" and Sanctifying".

I often harp on about modern Catholics who have forgotten the teachings of Holy Mother Church but there was I, suddenly in the same boat being reminded of two of our most vital elements that contribute to salvation.

In overall terms, as we all know, Grace is a supernatural gift of God that enables us to believe, without doubting, whatever God has revealed.

There are two types of Grace: Actual and Sanctifying.

Sanctifying grace is a supernatural gift which is a sharing in the nature of God Himself and which raises men to the supernatural order, conferring on them powers entirely above those proper to human nature.

Actual refers to Grace bestowed upon us by Almighty God in response to our prayers or actions (reception of the sacraments, acts of charity, novenas, pilgrimages, retreats etc).

Beyond that, from Father's homily, I could not go thanks to the loudspeaker system but it did jolt me into taking a fresh look at my own spiritual programme with a view to how I could increase the flow of Grace.

My main concern is just how much Grace is bestowed upon inept MCs with crumbling knee joints?

I think that merits a shedload of Grace but then, it is not up to me.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Would you like Pope Benedict to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form?

Yes, wouldn't we all.
I am sure that, like me, you are all praying fervently for this to take place, but, in accord with the maxim "God helps those who help themselves" you may now also contribute to a petition (yes, I know, another one, but this is a really good cause).

Sooner or later, in God's good time, it will happen - here is the link to the petition site........

But also....keep up the prayers!

Did the Bishops have a hand in the Olympic opening ceremony?

I mean, it had all the hallmarks of Eccleston Square writ large over it.
Lots of flashing lights and clouds of smoke; young maidens dancing about the place and then there was the punk rock bit....just the sort of thing that their Lordships think makes them cool and trendy (see Day for Life)

And, to cap it all, it made Britain look like it was stuck in the Industrial Revolution period, cloth caps, mufflers and clogs. Great!

Various British Governments have spent fortunes in an attempt to dispel the commonly held image of Britain as a country steeped in pea souper fogs, with citizens either wearing the aforesaid apparel or deerstalker hats wandering around streets lit by gas lamps..

That is really how many Chinese and Japanese industrialists view us, a slightly comical nation with Morris Dancers outside every pub and Little Bo Peeps herding sheep through city streets.
And now, they know it is true.

The Day of Life which takes place tomorrow was originally intended as a day to reinforce the sanctity of human life when the forces of BPAS and Dignitas are hell bent on destroying it.

Only now, it's riding on the Olympics bandwagon and the promotional image of a young girl swimming has all the depth and allure of a municipal swimming baths programme.

If you can be bothered to look at the Day for Life website you can read the blurb. And blurb it is.

The thing is, I looked for a mention of "God" or something in the spiritual vein. There was nothing, it was all totally secular as far as I could see.

If you wish to prove me wrong and can direct me to where mention is made of Almighty God, then you will win a one way ticket to Pyongyang's Hotel  Dignitas.

Meanwhile, remember that Greece was the original home of the Olympics.....and of cynics.

Friday, 27 July 2012

To the barricades! Let's storm the church!

"Latin Mass at Llandovery next Sunday d'accord?"

No, not the Church, I mean the church, the Church of Our Lady in the Welsh town of Llandovery where a seagull flying overhead is a cause for intense discussion and debate.

It is a quiet town, quite pleasing in aspect, and - it's next door to the village of Llangadog, the village of three stunning pubs all within a few feet of each other.

But it's not the pubs (no, really) it is the beautiful little church that has no parish priest and is served from its larger neighbours of Llandeilo and, somewhere else (memory is getting embarrassing).

This church has no Sunday Mass. Hmm.......my brain went into second gear when I heard that fact.
No priest, no Sunday Mass - it's ripe for a take-over.

Let's do it! St Nicolas-du-Chardonnay style.

Do you remember 1977? No? Never mind, stick with me.

That was the year that a group of French Catholic families, thoroughly fed up with the liturgical bilge that was pushed in their direction, rebelled. Yes, rebelled.

They chose a church in the centre of Gay Paree (well, just Paris really, most of it is gay these days). And they stormed it, turfing out the clerical occupants and barricading the doors.

Of course they were well stocked up with all edible things French (in France, the maxim is, if it moves eat it and, even if it doesn't move, still eat it).

So they had stocks of pate, baguettes by the ton and plenty of bottles of....Chardonnay of course! Voila!

They stayed in the church for about six weeks until the secular authorities (who have jurisdiction over church property in France), caved in and granted the church of St Nicolas to the then legit SSPX.

It remains today, an absolute bastion of Catholicism, beautiful and untouched by moronic modernist hands.

But, back to Llandovery. Could we, I wonder, recreate the actions of the Catholic French and take over this  gem of a church and reserve it only for the Tridentine Latin Mass?

We would need a stock of provisions, some traditional Welsh fare, Caerphilly cheese, laverbread, salt marsh lamb and.....some curry sauce and chips! All along with a few barrels of good Welsh ale.

The forces of darkness could not compete against folk who had such stout reserves.

And then...we would await word from the Bishop. Maybe a letter stuck in the cleft of a stick and pronouncing:

" With the authority granted to me by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, I hereby grant the Latin Mass lovers of Menevia, full use of the Church of Our Lady, Llandovery for the celebration of the Mass in the Extraordinary Form in perpetuity and furthermore state that no OF Mass of any kind, whether celebrated by clown priests, or accompanied by leotard clad maidens, shall ever take place in this holy House of God"

That would indeed be a case for a "huzzah" in fact, quite a few "huzzahs".

NB: A friend has kindly pointed out that the Paris Church is that of St Nicolas-du-Chardonnet...not Chardonnay.- I did, of course, just take a little poetic licence (ahem, and a few yellow pills).

Thursday, 26 July 2012

A funeral and a sense of joy

Today we buried the mortal remains of Anthony Wilson, known to me and to others as "Mr Wilson".

He was old school, a real Catholic one might say. A Colonel of the Church Militant.

He did not suffer fools gladly and so I am modestly pleased to say that we were friends, albeit tentative ones; we lived some 80 miles apart and, other than a few words after Mass and the annual exchange of Christmas letters, our friendship rested on our shared love of the Latin Mass and rejection of all silly liturgical abuse.

Having been nominated to serve (default really as all others were at St Catherine's Trust boot camps or on holiday somewhere), I arrived in good time to size up the layout of the church and sanctuary.

The little Church of Our Lady in Llandovery is no architectural gem but it has a great amount of charm and an air of sanctity about it. I would like very much to be a parishioner there and to lobby for a Tridentine Latin Mass every Sunday (it has no parish priest being served on a shared basis by two other parishes).

Fr Jason Jones, Extraordinary Form Coordinator for the Diocese of Menevia, was the celebrant and the Newcastle Emlyn Schola sang the hauntingly beautiful Requiem Mass.

It was suffocatingly hot and the sanctuary small and made even smaller by the mandatory altar in the middle of it.
Fortescue went out the window, practicality ruled the day and I did not make too many blunders as the server (I think).

Fr Jones gave quite one of the most charitable and kind sermons I have ever heard and he set the scene for those unfamiliar with the EF Mass. No communion unless you were a Catholic and in a state of grace, and reception kneeling, if possible and on the tongue.

Except that, he didn't use those clumsy words, he was light of tongue and as likely to cause offence as a butterfly sunning itself on a warm Welsh country wall.

And, afterwards, we drove to the country graveyard where Mr Wilson was to be buried. I drove in my car through the sleepy town of Llandovery still in my cassock and cotta.
Anyone looking into the car might have thought that this was some new form of personalised greeting show; not so much a gorillagram as a servergram! Maybe they thought I would burst into someone's front room and let rip with the Missa de Angelis Credo.

I think that anyone over the age of 60 must feel a few twinges when standing at the mouth of a yawning grave. I certainly did today.
I kept thinking, in a few years time, or sooner,  that could be me being lowered into the depths.

And then, the graveside blessing and prayers and a sudden sense that I had witnessed something natural and beautiful; the end of an earthly life and, Deo volente, the beginning of an everlasting one.

One that was going to be beyond comparison with this life on earth - all is well, God is here; the Father receives his prodigal son, home for good.

We sang Salve Regina lustily (is there any other way?) and blessed the coffin and grave with holy water.

And then, and then........we adjourned to the pub (The Goose and Cuckoo) to do justice to Mr Wilson in a manner that he would have approved of (as would Chesterton and Belloc and, of course, Giraldus Cambrensis).

There is nothing like a funeral on a blistering hot day to work up a thirst and I wasted no time in downing a pint or two of.......Diet Coke (I was driving you see).

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

L. Anthony Wilson, Meteorologist died 13th July 2012

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

What makes you happy?

The 2012 Office for National Statistics survey into 'happiness' (aka Cameron's lost the plot) tells us what makes us happy, how kind and thoughtful of them.

I really cannot begin to comprehend how a research organisation would set out to implement a survey of this kind.

Would they start with a high rise estate in Birmingham and find that a 72" colour television and a packet of chips is the summit of happiness on earth?

Manhattan or......
           .........Mass?  Mass, of course!                                 

Or, perhaps begin in Martha's Vineyard only to find that happiness comes in the form of a new Ferrari F430 Spyder and a Manhattan penthouse.

Methinks you would need a massive base across all socio economic groups to even get close to what makes us happy.

Sadly, the Catholic Faith or matters of Catholic interest do not feature in the results.

 If they had quizzed me I would have placed, in descending order, the following:-

1. A Missa Cantata

2. A Low Mass, EF, of course

3. Attending Mass with my wife, children and grandchildren

4. Fishing with my son

5. A Manhattan cocktail

Fairly undemanding you might think but, in fact, all five are hard to achieve, ergo, I must be unhappy most of the time.

Except that, I'm not. I have siblings and good Catholic friends to enjoy a pint with from time to time and life is pretty good right now.

But then, the survey highlights the fact that older people (and younger ones) are the happiest in our society.

Not exactly the sort of result that has one falling over backwards in amazement.

But then, the survey actually picks out The Orkneys as being home to some of the happiest people in the British Isles.

Apparently it's a sort of epicentre for bonhomie and laughter and Orkney folk walk around with massive grins and sparkling eyes all of the time.

The answer is, of course, clear. It's all down to the fact that the Transalpine Redemptorists have a monastic community there (on Papa Stronsay).

I must admit that living close to a monastery would rank high  in my personal happiness stakes; higher even than living across the road to the Brains Brewery, home of the R*v J***s bitter.

Of course, before the Transalpine monks alighted in The Orkneys, it was a distinctly unhappy place as you can see from the following poem on the subject..........

Bloody Orkney

This bloody town's a bloody cuss
No bloody trains, no bloody bus,
And no one cares for bloody us
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody roads are bloody bad,
The bloody folks are bloody mad,
They'd make the brightest bloody sad,
In bloody Orkney.

All bloody clouds, and bloody rains,
No bloody kerbs, no bloody drains,
The Council's got no bloody brains,
In bloody Orkney.
Everything's so bloody dear,
A bloody bob, for bloody beer,
And is it good? - no bloody fear,
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody 'flicks' are bloody old,
The bloody seats are bloody cold,
You can't get in for bloody gold
In bloody Orkney.
The bloody dances make you smile,
The bloody band is bloody vile,
It only cramps your bloody style,
In bloody Orkney.
No bloody sport, no bloody games,
No bloody fun, the bloody dames
Won't even give their bloody names
In bloody Orkney.
Best bloody place is bloody bed,
With bloody ice on bloody head,
You might as well be bloody dead,
In bloody Orkney

                                           Hamish Blair

All I can say is, thanks be to God for Fr Michael Mary and his band of happy men.

Bishop Williamson and the savage art of backstabbing

Over the past twenty odd years, Bishop Williamson has spoken out on many subjects and, at times, there have been brief sound bites coming from him that have sounded so logical and reasonable that I have had to pinch myself back to the reality that this man is a scoundrel.

When the "excommunications" were first announced I  vividly recall his phraseology:
"They will remember the True Church when the tanks begin to roll across the border, when the fire and brimstone begins to fall, they will all remember the one true Church". 

That is a pretty fair approximation.

At the time (and it was a very dark time, for those of us in Wales it was SSPX or nothing) I thought Williamson was the voice of the turtle but, as it transpires, I was wrong.

He is the voice of the turncoat, the traitor. Yet, there is something in his style of speaking that, just for a fragment of a second, can mesmerise you and transport you to....the Lord knows where.

Hitler and Mussolini must have had this sort or oratory power; a power that could sweep you off your feet and lead you to perdition if you were not careful.

It is the sort of power that one might think of as having some more sinister force behind it.

A year or so ago I heard Bishop Williamson give a sermon at a Mass in Wimbledon and quietly walked out afterwards, it was repugnant to remain in the same room as the man.

And now, this Bishop has turned against his Superior, his leader of twenty one years standing. Here is a video of the Bishop in Hamlet like mode, apparently talking to himself.........

Do not be fooled by this apparent off the cuff soliloquy, it is carefully crafted, even to the extent of being filmed in simple kitchen like surroundings ("He's a straightforward fellow with the common touch" is the tack he's on).

This clip displays the Bishop at his very cinematic best: calm, slightly worried and saddened at the crack in the SSPX foundations and then.....he does the Brutus on a good and saintly man, Bishop Fellay.

I know that Bishop Fellay can be slow to take action against his own but it is truly time that he upturns the glass on Bishop Williamson and boots him out of the door. H/T to Fr Z.

ON ANOTHER NOTE: Could I please ask for your prayers for Fr Patrick Keenan ODC., who is being operated upon for cancer. Fr Keenan now resides in Dublin but, some years ago, in Somerset, he received my wife into the Church for which I will be eternally grateful.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Avalanche of books hits Pembrokeshire

Great Scott! I am overwhelmed with the kindness of people who responded to my call for guidance in choosing a few books for holiday reading.......the response has been so overwhelming that I do not know where to begin......so perhaps I should start by saying "Thank you all".

Don Camillo featured high on people's recommendations but, I may not have informed you, Dear Readers, that I hold a place in The Guinness Book of Records for the person who has read the Guareschi series cover to cover non stop for the past fifty years (I started very young).

Fathers Abberton and EF Pastor came up with some interesting ones, I am especially intrigued by the western novel from Fr A, many thanks.

Mack, Ttony, Seaninn, Anagnostis, Dylan Parry and Nancy L  came up with enough ideas to provide me with a good Christmas as well as summer holiday list, again, profuse thanks.

But the gold medal has to go to Seaninn for suggesting "The Dog", I have gone ahead and ordered it from Amazon, the silver medal goes to Fr Abberton for recommending St Agnes' Stand and the bronze (I'm getting into Olympic mode) goes to Anagnostis for his "Fludd" - sounds most intriguing.

Breadgirl made a very astute comment regarding the differences in book choices made by men and women; they've just got to be different.
 I think this is very true but cannot really fathom why it should be so. Most of my favourite authors are male, make of that what you will.

But, the diamond encrusted medal has to go to my Antipodean son who found a literary treasure somewhere south of Alice Springs and is sending it to me post haste.

Got to be a mystery read but, knowing Matthew, it will surprise and delight.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Help needed...what is your favourite book?

Holidays are looming and I need to build up a stock of reading matter to restore some sanity after a hard couple of years since we had a complete break.

           Please speak up if you have any suggestions

I am in need of inspiration and where else would I turn to for help except to you my dear fiends friends?

Now please don't go off half cock and lumber me with the Summae Theologicae, I need to coax my brain into some form of activity not detonate a nuclear warhead in it.

So what am I after?

Here is my specification:

Fiction, modern day, some aspects of the Catholic Faith OK but also some pace and excitement (but nothing by Dan Brown if you get my drift). I have already laid my hands on two novels by Shusaku Endo (The Samurai and Silence) and am hoping that they will cut the mustard.

Any further suggestions (polite ones) will be most gratefully received and I shall sip a glass of Raki in your honour (d**n! Now you know where I'm going).

We started out as sheep but now we’re chickens

I have some experience with both sheep and chickens and can quite see why Our Lord chose to use sheep as a means of analogising us.

Penance for the sheep

We need a shepherd to give us direction, we are easily scattered, we are preyed upon by wolves and we need a regular shearing and an antiseptic dip to rid us of our dirty fleeces and unwelcome parasites.

It is a great analogy and, if you read Jay Boyd’s latest post (which you must do if you are a Catholic living in Wales or one that has to travel far to Mass) you will also find that there is a military aspect attached to sheep.

But, if Our Lord walked the earth today, would he employ the same analogy?

Today, His faithful are only loosely bound together as a flock (a collective noun applicable to both animals).

We wander in various directions and, despite being given some mighty powerful leadership, we just don’t seem capable of taking it in, of recognising a directive when it comes.

Sheep don’t do that, they follow the steer of the shepherd’s crook.

Chickens do precisely that. No matter how one tries to herd them they individually scatter and do their own thing.

Chickens also fail to recognise safety when it is their in front of their noses beaks.

Leave a safe and fox free shed open to them and they will roost on a low down branch, the equivalent of a foxy Walmart or Tescos.

Give them a warm, dark nest box wherein to lay their eggs and they will avoid it like the plague pox and lay their eggs in full view of marauding magpies and squirrels.

And, if you want to rid them of fleas and parasites, that’s when the feathers really fly. There’s nothing of the compliant ovine about a chicken.

Definitely one of the Knightsbridge variety

And, finally, there’s the pecking order. 
Oh dear, they are so like us it’s embarrassing. 

There’s the charismatic chicken who like to strut and crow, the Knightsbridge version, so aloof and particular, the liberal breed ready to peck pick on any of its neighbours and the odd one or two more traditionally inclined who are kind to all, easy to manage and highly productive in their output (aherm).

When it comes to having any sort of backbone, it’s the woollies that win every time.

 Chickens aren’t called chicken for nothing you know.

Even when the shepherd flockmaster arrives to feed them they scatter as if the all the foxes of Christendom are about to gobble them up.

So much like us Catholics today who fail to see the hand that feeds us is the guiding hand and that we should be as one and follow without question.

We refuse to comply with the intelligent and choose only the crass and the ignorant paths; we refuse good shelter and food in favour of unseen dangers, we are preoccupied with self rather than authority.

And, we fail to see that if we do that we are no more than headless sheep, of no use to man nor beast nor…….God?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

A video clip that all liberal Catholics should view

Not hard. Very straightforward - why not do as the Holy Father wishes you to and receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue - even at Ordinary Form Masses?

Twelve questions to ask your Protestant friends

There are so many issues concerning the Protestant faiths that it is hard to know where to start.

Was it Archbishop of Canterbury................(Michael Ramsey or Geoffrey Fisher) who was honest enough to state, in the 1960s, "We have no doctrine other than that handed down to us by Rome."

 Dr Ian Paisley might have a few words to say on that topic.

But, so many non Catholic friends seem to live in a glass bubble where all that has gone before is forgotten and all that is to come is ignored.

So here are my twelve questions, you may well have others you wish to add:-

1. When did your church last canonize a saint?

2. Why have you covered up that fine holy water font? (on visiting a pre Reformation Church)

3. Why have those effigies of Catholic nobility had their features hacked off?

4. Did you know that St David was a Catholic? (this for my non Catholic Welsh friends)

5. What does your church believe in precisely?

6. Why do you speak of "Jesus" and "Mary" as if they were your next door neighbours?

7. When Our Lord and His followers were all male, what is the case for female ministers?

8. Did you know that England and Wales were once Catholic countries?

9. If there is both heaven and hell....what is the procedure for gaining access to the former?

10. When was your church founded - and by whom?

11. Did you know that there have been circa 86 Catholic Archbishops of
      Canterbury and 34 Protestant ones?
12. Why on earth don't you convert to the one true Faith?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Spode - the Dominican dream that is now a fading memory

You may be forgiven for thinking 'china' when you hear the name Spode mentioned and, indeed, you would not be a thurible throw away in terms of context.

The one time head of the Spode family, Josiah Spode IV, (Christian name choice came hard in the Spode family) converted to Catholicism and established a Dominican Priory, Hawkesyard, near Rugeley in Staffordshire.

The house alongside the Priory was called Spode House and it eventually fell into the ownership of the Dominican Order who decided that it should be a centre for Catholic enterprise.

I use the word enterprise because that is how it appears to me.

Spode House became a hub for retreats, those wishing to study church music, theatrical groups, youth organisations, you name it and they flocked to Spode for their two or three days of rural total immersion in all things Catholic.

Taken from the Catholic Herald Archives is the following quote that sums it up very well:

"...Yet my affection is not so much for Spode House as for the idea behind it: the meeting together over a few days of Catholic men and women with common interests, specialised knowledge, hopes, causes, arid the free, open discussion of important Christian topics of the day...."

Some of the London based Dominican Fathers, most notably Fr Donald Proudman OP, gathered young Catholics from disparate walks of life and formed them into a loose knit group that became known as 'The Spodeites'. They were one of the groups that would gather at Spode for two or three weekends of the year and pray and reflect and meditate and go carousing - all in good Chestertonian fashion (although some of the more abandoned carousing was gently frowned upon by some of the priests).

Most of my six siblings went through the Spode years ahead of me and, when my turn came, just before the Second Reformation Council sat in Rome, the signs of decay were just beginning to show.

The bulk of the group came from the Haverstock Hill (naturally) area of London led by one Robert Malone. Professional actors Michael and Shirley Robbins aka Hal Dwyer ( husband and wife) were part of the gang and, generally, a good time was had by all.

As well as Fr Proudman there was the grim faced but heart of gold warden, Fr Conrad Pepler and the saintly Fr Columba Ryan.

The Spode concept was a grand one. To bring together all the parochial elements of lay Catholics and to encapsulate them in a solid framework of the faith so that the sense of Catholic identity was reinforced at the same time as inspiring and enthusing the faithful to greater efforts and zeal.

I only attended three Spode weekends and then, somehow, the life began to drain away from the retreats.....largely because the main shaker and mover in all of this was Fr Proudman who had been despatched to minister in Barbados where, shortly afterwards, he was to die, may God have mercy on his soul.

Being carried is Fr Donald Proudman OP, unusually in civvies, 
I guess because of the pre Barbados party planned for him. 
Centre is actor Michael Robbins and leading is Richard Owen
all others (bar one) unknown

My own memory of Spode is pretty dim although one incident sticks out clearly.

A group of us had (quite wrongly) broken away from the more spiritual exercises to go in search of real ale. It was the heart of a very cold, bleak winter and the river was heavily frozen over.
Having only a vague idea of the direction of the nearest pub we set off walking along the frozen river (the footpaths were deep in snow).
After what seemed like hours, we came across a local farmer taking hay to his stock.

We asked him the way to the pub which was called The Ash Tree.

He stopped and removed his cap and thoughtfully scratched his head in the fashion of all good farmers and finally said: "Why the Ash Tree is about 40 miles from here"

We were overtaken with a sudden attack of the Lot's wife syndrome.

And then we realised that something had been lost in translation......he had thought we said ESTUARY...no wonder he looked puzzled.

I now look upon the Juventutem movement as being the modern equivalent of Spode; if only a base such as Spode House was still available for all groups to join together, what a force that would be.

Maybe it is as Fr Z would say......"a brick by brick enterprise" - something for a future weekend.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Has the Gay rights mob ever targeted Monty?

I mean, of course, Monty Python. The team of comedians and satirists who re-wrote the world of humourous sketches back in the 1960s.

You see, they constantly featured sketches involving homosexuals in various situations but no one, as far as I am aware, has uttered one word of vitriolic cant in the direction of John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam or Graham Chapman.

If a Catholic blogger (or Scottish Cardinal) was to make a similar type of comment, in their own style rather than Monty Python's, all hell would be let loose. The hairpins would be flying all over the place.

But, somehow they seem to have got away with it......so far. Homophobic bunch that they are!

A young man about to go to war, composes a prayer for his mother

The year is 1941 and a young man has joined the British army and lied about his age to be accepted into an infantry regiment, The King's Royal Rifles.

His older brother is already in the arena and his father, a veteran of the First World War and a holder of the Military Medal for outstanding valour, is in the Home Guard.

The Nazi bombs fall every night on London and its outskirts, where the young man lives with his family.

Life appears very precarious hanging by a narrow thread but, before he departs, the seventeen year old writes a prayer for his mother:

That was from one of my brothers, Michael Collins RIP, late of the King's Royal Rifles and the Commandos

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Deer Bishup Lang.....

......Further to yore recant ad for a Cheef Exicivite Exvetitite Officer, I shud like to appley for the job.

I think I am well quallefried for th job as I'm not what you wood corl a Romin Cafflick, in fact, I'm verry proud to be a pagan and have bin cheef worlock (aka Derek) of my grupe for the passed too yeers.

I haff also bin treshurer to my masonick lodge so I kno a bit about cash flo.

In addishun I am reely into leedership as I wus once secshun leeder of th young nazi club in Chipping Sodbury.

Orl in orl, I think I fitt ther job rarthur well and I cudd sertainly use the 65 big ones that com wiv it.

Luking fourwad to meeting yure most Steemed Holly Exellencyness


B.L. Zeebub

See Offerimus Tibi Domine and Fr Ray Blake  and (just seen it) Catholic and Loving It plus..............Laurence England

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Silence is golden

The Mass of all time........

No chatter from the pews, no intrusive cell phones, no distracting dialogue - just the Tridentine Latin Mass as it has been offered over the centuries - many centuries.

Have mercy on them O Lord!

I am talking about the mobile phone user who receives a call at a critical moment during Holy Mass (every moment is critical, of course).

It has never happened to me (DG) but it's an issue that gives me nightmares just fantasising about hearing that familiar ring tone on sacred ground.

Recently, at the SSPX Chapel in Bristol, just as the priest was about to commence his sermon, the ringtones rang out.
The congregation went into spasm, there was a brief second where all thought that, it was their mobile that was polluting the air and then....an almost audible sigh of relief as they collectively realised that it was not their phone....and then, the furtive (and not so furtive) glances around to see the offending culprit.

It was a young woman, identified because she was the only one in church frantically throwing the contents of her rather large handbag onto the floor.

And then....horror! It rang again.

The priest paused mid flow and with a gentle and patient smile, waited.

What every Catholic woman wants - a bag organiser
complete with mobile phone pocket

Just as he recommenced so the phone range for a third time. By now the young woman was a whirlwind of arms and objects as she flung them out of her bag.

Silence. The priest began again only for the phone to ring yet again; why do women carry the contents of several wardrobes in their handbags? One of life's major questions.

By now, foam was appearing at the woman's mouth and her eyes were rolling in her head. It gave a final defiant ring before she triumphantly grasped it and strangled the life out of it.

Now I am not a saintly person (no, really, despite what you may think) but I felt nothing but pity for that young woman.

She suffered intensely for perhaps forty or fifty seconds that must have appeared to her (and to the priest) like forty or fifty minutes.

The degree of her suffering was great and went some way towards reparation for forgetting to turn her mobile off.

There should really be a prayer of forgiveness for those that transgress and leave their phones switched on in church.

I am considering putting that priest's cause forward for canonisation.

Photo: Bagatidy

Monday, 16 July 2012

The first Ordinariate for Wales

Father Brian Gill, former Vicar General of the Traditional Anglican Church will be ordained by the Bishop of Menevia, Thomas Burns, on Saturday 21st July in the cluster parish of Presteigne, Rhayader and Knighton.

A small number of community members forming what is believed to be the first Welsh Ordinariate will join with Fr Gill on the day.

Remember Fr Gill and the Welsh Ordinariate in your prayers please, especially on this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel - the following prayer may be said as a novena on behalf of the Ordinariate:

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein that you are my Mother.
O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart, to succour me in this my necessity. There are none that can withstand your power. O show me herein that you are my Mother.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us that have recourse to thee. (3 times)
Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands. (3 times)

Of course, this will be the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham but.......dare I suggest.....

.......that it should really be the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Cardigan as this shrine has equal standing to Walsingham and is, of course, the National Shrine of Wales.......but then, it is a long way from major cities, fast trains and motorways (!) 

The 'forgotten' shrine of Wales, Our Lady
of Cardigan - National Shrine

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Just what is the deal regarding the Latin Mass?

Just in case any Bishop has forgotten what Summorum Pontificum stated, here is the great Cardinal Arinze spelling it out, slowly and logically as the Holy Father intended.

His Eminence also spells out what is wrong with the "add ons" to the Ordinary Form of Mass and states, quite clearly that they are not allowed, they are forbidden in fact.

So please, get on and encourage those of your priests who wish to learn how to celebrate Holy Mass as it was intended to be celebrated, and to do it! - Subito! 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Manhattans, Mikado and Mass

What the....!!!! I hear the one or two followers of this blog spluttering into their gruel....the fellah's gone totally mad, what on earth can connect those three things?

Not a lot really except that, I (along with Mrs L) have just returned from an overnight stay in Cardiff to see an open air version of Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado.

The production was great and highly entertaining but....but....it just didn't hit the spot.


Konnichiwa or How d'you do? but never howdy pardner

Because the producer had decided, in his wisdom, to bring the production a little up to date so that some numbers, such as, "Here's a how-de-do" (which, I believe should be spelt and pronounced as "Here's a how d'you do but now I am getting pedantic) had been vulgarised into a hillbilly format complete with fiddle type music and holding one's braces dance routines. There was more of the same.

It did nothing to improve (how could it) on G & S's music and lyrics but it did a great deal to detract and diminish.

So, (by now you will have seen my exocet trail) I was minded of the Novus Ordo and how, it is good and proper but it just fails to hit the spot; it's all that 'bringing it up to date' c**p that really does not wash.

First link.

And then, the notable Fr Z has recently devoted some time to debating the merits of Manhattan cocktails over Dry Martinis - stay with me and all will become clear.

Due to our pre booked hotel making a fist of our reservation and, in fact, losing it (Oh yeah?) we were offered a damp mattress in a doss house as compensation.

'No way' was our retort. We want a five star hotel complete with all the trimmings plus we want a free meal for four, a series of taxis to ferry us to the show and back to our new hotel and yet back again the following morning.

Our wishes were granted; in fact, the somewhat worried looking Manager actually stated that we could have whatever we wanted.

We settled for the above and when, late that night we checked in to the Cardiff Hilton, we fell into the bar (exhaustion, you understand) and ordered drinkie poos for 4.

Now, never having tried a Manhattan I decided that my time had come and asked the barman for the same. He looked puzzled and asked me for the formula.....ummm.....whisky and sweet Martini was my response. He looked dubious and went off to Google it. Turns out I was correct and within a very few minutes a large cocktail glass, big enough for two goldfish to live in quite comfortably, was at my elbow (but not for long).

I sipped this exotic looking drink and was hooked - pure ambrosia!

However, the dear barman, in an attempt to please had added a stick with three glace cherries impaled on it so that, instead of looking fairly cool and man of the worldish, I appeared much like a second hand car salesman of uncertain gender. All it lacked was a paper umbrella.

Never mind. I agree with Fr Zuhlsdorf.......Manhattans are great.

It took several people to restrain me from ordering a second which is just as well because I think two of those concoctions might have played with my brain, or what is left of it.
 I settled for a goodnight glass of Murphy's (there was no Guinness on offer) and went to bed.

So, there you have it. Global warming is getting a grip, Iran is moving closer to a nuclear strike, Europe is in meltdown, Obama is gaining ground as Romney weakens (remember I told you not to give up on Santorum?) and Al Qaeda look likely to rule in Afghanistan - never mind - Manhattans are fantastic.

And so is the Tridentine Latin Mass (and you don't get a hangover).

Friday, 13 July 2012

Time to change the Credo?

Change? Change? A word that can produce apoplexy in traditional circles (but not magic ones).

Of course, I am not proposing any change to the wording of the Credo, that is beyond my remit somewhat, light years beyond, in fact.

But, having travelled the country attending Sung EF Masses rather a lot over the last 12 months, I observe that the choir and the people are not as one.

It is, as you know, the practice for choir to commence the Credo with the congregation taking over for the second tranche and it alternates from then on.

Choir = good  
Choir + Congregation + alternate = bad
Choir + Congregation + unison = good

Even pre the Second Reformation, the congregation was not good at getting it right; there was always a bit of a fudge at the handover point, rather like a relay runner passing the stick on to a colleague who is not too sure when to grab it.

The result is a shade dirgey, a small tower of babble that picks up again when the choir re-asserts its authority.

So - I have a suggestion to make.

Let us all sing the Credo together, choir, people and priests. It is a most wonderful piece that calls us all to attention and points out precisely what we should be concerned with and then...and then....we come to the resounding "et unam sanctam Catholicam....." bit. This should be belted out with chests out and heads held high - and...in unison. The rafters of the church should shake and set Satan quaking in his boots.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Traditional Catholics and self inflicted wounds

I have been mulling on this post for some months and it took some sound comments from Parapedimos (regarding my last post on Hot Dogs and Homilies) to put thoughts into words.

I am heartily sick of traditionalists who, once they achieve the victory of having a Latin Mass celebrated in their parish, then proceed to snipe at minor 'irregularities'. "The priest turned the page with the wrong hand", "the altar server forgot to genuflect as he passed the tabernacle", and, "my dear, did you hear his latin pronunciation?"

"Look at that altar server Carrutthers. He placed the
 missal at a 20 degree angle doncha know?"
Of course, those are all errors but priests and servers are on a steep learning curve and it will come right, in time.

What they do not need, after Mass, is some pompous twit poking them in the chest with their index finger telling them how to do it.

As Parapedimos wrote:

"Some time ago, I attended an EF Mass in a neighbouring parish; it was being celebrating by a sympathetic young curate (Fr D) for the first time and the plan was that he would do so every fortnight. The PP was supportive. Afterwards, at coffee, I was disheartened to see various 'experts' gather around Fr D in order to patronisingly point out his mistakes and offer their 'guidance'. I did not attend any of the other EF Masses he celebrated (I prefer a well celebrated Ordinary Form Mass). After 4-5 times, he decided not to continue. When I asked an elderly priest friend (Fr M) why this was the case, he replied that Fr D was simply tired of the continuous bickering and criticism aimed at him and the servers who, in the minds of the 'experts', couldn't get things right".

A sad tale but one that takes place across the land all too frequently.

Worse still is when those who should know better, completely foul up and turn off the laity in their desire to attend the EF Mass.

Some years ago I attended the first Mass ever to be held in a parish church (it had been built in the 70s).

It was a sung Mass, courtesy of a visiting choir and, at the Credo, the congregation, ignorant or forgetful of the fact that it is customary for choir and people to alternate, joined in with gusto. and who could blame them? For many it was a revelation, seeing and hearing the Mass that they once believed was banned, back in strength and with the wonderful Missa de Angelis Credo to inspire and excite them.

Tragedy was to strike as afterwards, before the wax had cooled on the candles, an irate Latin Mass Society representative took to the pulpit and berated them for not observing the choral niceties.

The next month, that congregation of 60 plus souls had reduced to 30. And, bless them, if they didn't fall into the same trap yet again. It was as if they were just carried away by the enthusiasm and beauty of the Credo.
They belted it out and enjoyed every second of it.

Again, after the Mass an even more irate LMS chappie got on his soapbox and told them to get their act together.

The following month, the numbers in the congregation were down to 15 and they have remained at that level (so I am assured) ever since.

As well as witnessing this saga the PP also related the story to me at a much later date (not realising that I had been in the congregation). He, too was disheartened and, I suspect, will not continue saying the Latin Mass much longer.

It is tragic that, whilst some priests and people are steadily undertaking the brick by brick process, others are following behind equally steadily removing them.

I suspect that nothing will change their attitudes except for one thing.....death. You see, those who make snide comments are all the old brigade. What I call the "Knightsbridge Catholics". You will see them in any parish of the land, waiting to pounce on any poor server who holds the wine cruet in his left hand instead of the right or any poor cleric who forgets to keep index finger and thumb together.

Their days are numbered; in ten or fifteen years the problem will have gone....trouble is....will the TLM have gone also?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A homily, a hot dog and ignorance regarding orthodoxy

The reform of the reform trundles on, annoyingly at a brick by brick pace.

Equally annoyingly, as the pace increases (gradually) so more 'nuanced' comments from priests and laity in the Nuchurch are forthcoming.

Often such comments display an appalling ignorance of what it is to be traditional; what it is to be Catholic, even.

Some priests who have daringly dipped their toes into the scalding hot water of celebrating the EF Mass are taking short cuts; adapting the liturgy and the actions associated with the Holy Mass to suit their own purposes.

Why not? They do it every Sunday at the New Mass.

What do I mean by short cuts? (and, as you are about to hear, not just short cuts)

I mean priests who, at a High Mass, will dispense with the MC and leave the altar servers floundering around doing very little as per the Novus Ordo. And, who, at Low Mass, insist on booming out the words at the Secret and at the Consecration.

"But we don't do that at an EF Mass Father"
Photo: Cooees from the Cloister

I also mean priests who are 'on the journey' from liberal to authentic and who haven't quite got the point.

They think that being traditional is just saying the Tridentine Latin Mass - Ho, ho! If they only knew.

One priest in my sphere of knowledge often makes little quips as he distributes the host at Holy Communion.

What! Yes, sad but true. He will say (to a visitor from another parish): "We welcome tourists here" And then place the host in that person's mouth.

Inane, stupid and unnecessary.

And then 'new' priests also often forgo the rubrics regarding reception of Holy Communion and proceed to place the host into the hands of those who appear not to know either. I am not suggesting for one second that there should be a bit of argy bargy at the altar rails but I do believe that, by positive body language, in most instances, the host may easily and reverently be placed on the tongue of the person with hands held out.

Failing that, a gentle homily on the matter will serve to enlighten and educate.

And, also, from a good friend comes an example of how a non traditional priest (is that a good, politically correct way of phrasing it?) totally misses the point and ends up shooting himself in the foot with his hotdog metaphor (I like to mangle metaphors from time to time).

The priest, in his sermon, tells a story about a family who are eating out at a restaurant, here it is in my friend's words (my comment in red)

"The family took their seats and, when the waitress had taken the adults orders she turned to the seven year old son to ask what he would like. "Hotdog please", he replied.
 "No" said mum. "He will have steak with potatoes and carrots."

The waitress ignored this and asked the child if he would like tomatoes sauce with his hotdog. The boy said yes, he would, she then left.

The family were speechless and there was silence around the table.

 The boy said," She thinks I'm real".

The priest then began to link this up with the Curia's treatment of the Catholic laity who want a different church, women who want to play more of a part, to be be deacons and priests (but that it is not up for discussion). (It was a tortuous link back to the hotdog analogy; the boy represents the voice of those reasonable and logical (????) modernists who want to change elements of the faith that those in authority refuse to budge on). 

He railed against the Curia somewhat, telling us to get informed about what they are doing and how we should read The Tablet etc etc, to be in touch. He told us we needed wise people to guide the Church.

I decided to receive Holy Communion (on the tongue of course) kneeling down as a act of reparation. He did not like this and appeared to stop in his tracks as if I'd done something "unholy" -  he made a show of dropping the host on my tongue, ( not for the first time in my experience with Vat 2 fanatics)

After Mass two liberal members of our community spoke to him agreeing with his viewpoint.

I overheard him scathingly referring to the Society of St Pius X and other traditional communities that the Church was accommodating and then I chatted to him about a mutual friend before putting him in the picture.

I told him he'd rather shot himself in the foot with that story as anyone who has read up about the contents of hotdogs would know how horrifying the contents really are and that a wise (got that one in!) mother would protect her children from eating such gross ingredients.

I also said ( to quote from today's passage) " The gates of the underworld shall not prevail" and that obedience to our superiors / those placed over us, is everything according to the saints
and they are the ones to follow and to be informed of and by.

I also told him that I would be accompanying my husband, a convert, to an SSPX Mass that night and that my husband had found the Latin Mass through our daughter in XXXXX (I got it in that the young are being attracted to the Latin Mass also) and that my husband cannot understand how we "ditched" the Latin to replace it with.....?

Father asked me how was it different.  

So I shared with him the views of my husband and daughter and there were a few more exchanges but I did feel I'd got the "wops in" on all his stances.
So there we have it! A dissident in a position to mould the faith and knowledge of young men and women passing through the college
(he taught at a well known Catholic school) for decades.

But I'm thinking, they are scared stiff! 

The whites of their eyes are showing! They feel the change and are trying to stop it ( Satan more aggressive in his final throes).

So, please, when you see abuses taking place or, errors being voiced, have a quiet but polite word in the ear of the priest after Holy Mass......and, remember, if he is celebrating the Latin Mass, he has his foot on the first rung of the orthodox ladder. Don't push him off.  Be Christian, be Traditional.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Son of Man teases His Mother

My wife reminded me about this scene(s) from The Passion of the Christ.

In it Our Lord laughs and teases His Blessed Mother.

Did it happen? Well, certainly, something like it.

Christ was subject to human emotions (and human ills) and laughter must have not been uncommon in the house of Joseph the Carpenter.....

Did Our Lord ever laugh?

Of course, He did. He was human as well as divine and laughter must have been commonplace at the carpenter's bench.

But we seldom see images of Christ laughing, or even smiling for that matter.

Would it be regarded as frivolous for the maker of the world, the Supreme Spirit, to be observed laughing?

Well, yes, in a sense, it would. God the Son offered up His life for us all and suffered both mentally and physically in a most horrendous fashion; that is not a matter for congeniality.

But, as a child, back in Nazareth, Our Blessed Lord must have laughed alongside his holy father at the workbench and, sitting round the table, surely He would have gently laughed with His Blessed Mother?

Well - He did, of course, and here is the image that proves the point:

This statue of Madonna and Child is copied from a statuette by the famous Florentine sculptor, Antonio Gamberelli Rossellino.

It is known as ‘The Virgin with Laughing Child’ and the original was made circa 1465.

This statue now rests in a side chapel at the Shrine of St Winefride in Holywell in North Wales.

If you look closely you will see that the infant Christ is not merely smiling; He is laughing, as any child of six or eight months of age might do.

Sometimes we tend to forget the human element of Our Blessed Lord, the fact that He suffered the same problems that children do today. A scraped knee, a splinter in the hand (prophetic indeed) or a speck of dirt in His eye.

And who, with worldly cares, would not be ecstatic to be held in the arms of the Mother of us all?

Salve, Regina, mater misericordiae:
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus, exsules, filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia ergo, Advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos
ad nos converte.
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis, post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens: O pia: O dulcis
Virgo Maria.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Opposing both State and Church

There are those today, who claim that it is 'disobedient' to attend the Tridentine Latin Mass; that the Bishop must be obeyed in all things, even when he claims that the origins of paedophilia within the Church stem from adherence to lacy vestments and the like and refuses to admit traditionally minded young men to train for the priesthood.

The great mass of Catholics, certainly in England and Wales, would not know the meaning of obedience if it leapt up and savaged their nether regions.

Less than five hundred years ago, England and Wales were in a similar episcopal state as they are today.

Bishops caved in to the cunning and conniving State and many, many, priests, monks and nuns followed in their footsteps.

One man who did not yield to either the
State or the Church, when all
others apostatized - St John Fisher
They gave up all they believed in to embrace the new religion that dispensed with chantry prayers for the dead, the care and nursing of the old and infirm of society, the education of the young and the employment of thousands.

Statues were dragged out of the churches, pulled by horses and altar slabs ripped out and placed across church doorways so that all who entered had to walk over the sacred stone and defile it in so doing.

Religious books were piled in heaps and set on fire, up went the work of thousands of monk hours as the illuminated manuscripts were consumed by flames.

Few men or women stood in the path of such crushing opposition; but among the few, St Thomas More (representing the laity) and St John Fisher (representing the hierarchy) were, arguably, the most outstanding of our Reformation martyrs.

More had witnessed St John Fisher being taken off for execution, just a few days before he was to make the same journey and the Catholic world must have appeared most bleak and hopeless to him.

Nonetheless, he was constant to the very end and in no way a coward as some modern Catholics argue (because he did not submit to his trial but attempted to challenge the King's authority to gain freedom).

Here is a prayer composed by St Thomas More that has a certain resonance today:

"His truth shall compass thee as a shield"
Gracious God, give me Thy grace so to consider the punishment of that false great council that gathered together against Thee, that I be never, to Thy displeasure, partner nor give mine assent to follow the sinful advice of any wicked counsel.

St John Fisher suffered for his faith on 22nd June 1535 and St Thomas More on July 6th

We celebrate their feastday today - 9th July - Ss John Fisher and more - Ora pro nobis

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The past five days and the past eight hundred years

Some may have noticed (and others not noticed) that there has been a lull in posting for five days.
This was all due to the generosity of our four children who stumped up the necessary to send us on a one day trip on the Orient Express from Victoria to the Kent coast.

It was, a trip to remember; we sailed graciously through Swanley, hotly through Chilham, at a gallop through Canterbury and sheepishly through Ramsgate and on to the Kent coast.
As we thundered on in opulent surroundings, I cast a thought to the extraordinary Catholic parishes that we passed close to; first, of course, was Blackfen and Fr Tim Finigan and then Maidstone, Ashford home of (I think, Fr John Boyle who is away in the States at present), then, finally, Ramsgate and the young Fr Marcus Holden, son of West Wales fame.
Truly, Southwark Diocese must have the greatest concentration of Latin Masses in England and Wales.

For those unfamiliar with the Orient Express, think Pullman Trains, think Agatha Christie and think also of a time when life was less frenetic and the more fortunate of society were able to enjoy a certain style of comfort and attention.

The deal was a round trip of some 170 plus miles together with a glass or two of champagne and a five course meal avec a complimentary bottle of vin glug....except that it was very good vin glug.
I settled back in my armchair seat and tried hard to keep Laurence England, who constantly prods my Catholic social conscience, out of my thoughts. It was hard.

At the end of the day we returned to the bosom of our family and, at the very end of the day we retired to our inn hidden away in the depths of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside.

Hertfordshire is a county that I, certainly, am guilty of overlooking; it is easily accessible yet has all the appearances of being a thousand miles from a big city.
Once home to an order of monks, now a charming inn

Our inn was The Brocket Arms in a hamlet called Ayot St Lawrence and once served as the lodgings for the local monks who offered up the Latin Mass in the local church built in 1150.

Come the so called Reformation and the church was vandalised and the resident monk (according to legend) hanged for his faith in the inn (I was not aware of this at the time and would have offered up a prayer for his immortal soul had I known).

So, for some 860 years, this inn has been a place of rest, initially, for our priests and then, in the past 400 years for the local gentry and the yeomen and women of Merry England, ploughboys, rook scarers, mole catchers, hedgers and ditchers, blacksmiths and their superiors, would have quenched their thirsts at this little haven of Englishness.

In later years, George Bernard Shaw would have joined them as his house lies only some 200 yards away, but, the least said about GBS, the better in my book.
Why don't Catholics have beautiful churches? - Because Henry VIII
and his Protestant ministers wrecked them and robbed them of their
chalices and statues! The "old" church of Ayot St Lawrence

But I do rather believe that Chesterton and Belloc would have supped their foamy pints here from time to time.
Did Belloc and Chesterton once quaff ale here?

Finally, home on Sunday, stopping off for the 10am Mass at St Saviour's in Bristol, home of the SSPX.
Gloriously sung, well served and MC'd and perfect in every way.

I know that I have mentioned before that the SSPX Masses are different from the EF Masses celebrated in churches that are really nuanced towards the modern Mass.
It is not really surprising; the architecture is created especially for the TLM (even though St Saviour's was once High Anglican); the tabernacles are in the right place, the aura is right. The churches are untainted by modernism.

The only odd thing was that, knowing what sticklers the SSPX priests are for liturgical accuracy, I was surprised that the celebrant did not remove his maniple when he entered the pulpit to preach.
I do not highlight this from any nitpicking aspect, just a minor curiosity on my part.
Someone will now comment, I am sure, that Pope St Evaristus granted an indult to this effect in the year dot, never mind, it's not worth losing any sleep over.

We did, however, meet up with many of our good friends (some of whom, we had not seen for over 25 years). It was great to meet Joe and Clare Bevan and their family and Nigel Mills from Bath. And, even some that we missed in the throng after Mass (the chapel was packed out). Stephen from the Salisbury area was one that we missed, sorry Stephen if you read this.

More on the old church of St Lawrence in future posts.