Wednesday 31 October 2012

A question for school lay chaplains......

......When they plan their visit to the local Mosque.

How do you set about filling in the statutory risk assessment form?

                       A thorny problem for Chaplins

If the Bishop's were Executives, they'd have been fired long ago

Mulier Fortis and Countercultural Father report on Bishop Kieran Conry's latest outpourings that are, frankly, mystifying.

+ Conry casts aside recorded history to give his distorted take on things.

Elsewhere we have Bishops shutting churches in a style more akin to Chairman Mao than to a Prince of the Church.

For years they (their lordships) have trundled out tired and weary nuances that have weakened the faith of many and led them down the path of relativism.

Yet we, the poor old sheep in the pen, put up with it all ad infinitum.

If George Orwell was alive and writing Animal Farm today he would not be focusing on Communism but on the Catholic Church.

Just think, for one minute, of the track record of  the Bishops over the past forty or fifty years.

Catholic Schools are a disgrace, abortion on demand goes unheeded,  marriages and baptisms have nose dived, adoption by homosexuals accepted, foreign priests drafted to prop up parishes in a lazy attempt to maintain the status quo and the seminaries sniff out any candidates that might have a touch of sanctity about them.
In fact, the old Noel Coward joke could be adapted along the lines of:

 Bishop interviewing prospective seminarian: "Tell me, are you a homosexual?"

Prospective seminarian: "I'm sorry My Lord, I didn't realise it was an entry requirement"

In a business world, the Bishops would have received an appraisal interview 12 months into the job.
The object would be to identify weaknesses or flaws in performance and give firm guidance and objectives with the aim of helping the Bishop to become more proficient.

This is not be a spiritual exercise, it concerns management and administration matters.

How to plan effectively, how to overcome issues such as the lack of vocations, how to motivate your priests and how to inspire your flock by your words and deeds.

And then, at the end of year two and on the occasion of the second appraisal interview, if objectives had not been achieved, the Bishop should be told to go, and quickly.

That goes part of the way to ensuring a vibrant and strong Church.

The other part is, of course, the spiritual element.

NB - an apology. After experimenting with Disqus I have reverted (hopefully) to the original comments format. In the process it appears as if I've lost a great number of comments and responses, sorry.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

No Sunday Mass for 3 years

Sorry, but if you are a member of the Parish of St Winefride in Aberystwyth, Welsh gateway to the North, it looks as if you will just have to go without a Sunday Mass until some time in 2016, or possibly, 2015 if providence smiles on you.

The Bishop of Menevia, Thomas Burns, has closed the parish church deeming it unsafe and unsound.

As far as I can ascertain, from speaking to a leading parishioner, no information has been imparted to them other than the fact that the church is closed as of last Sunday.

No more Masses and, apparently, no Diocesan contingency plan.

No pastoral guidance to parishioners as to how and where they may fulfil their Sunday obligation and attend Holy Mass.
Nothing. Zilch. Dim.

The poor parish priest has been confined to barracks in Swansea some 70 or so miles distant and he is only allowed to be in Aber on Sundays, but no one knows if there will be a Mass in a hall, a community centre or under a hedge somewhere.

With the best will in the world that appears to me as being pretty dismal leadership.

Bluster and threat and asking parishioners to tell those opposing the new church to politely back down smacks of insecurity and incompetency.

Certainly, it is not Christ like behaviour.

Say a prayer please for the Bishop and his priests and the outcast parishioners of St Winefride's.

That time of year thou may'st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold;
Bare ruin'd choirs where late the sweet birds sang.

Paris comes to Aberystwyth

In a move reminiscent of Paris in the 90s when traditional French Catholics 'took over' a well known church to stage a six week sit in, parishioners of St Winefride's have occupied their parish church in an attempt to block the Bishop from proceeding with plans to demolish and rebuild.

This protest is only designed to last until the Feast of All Souls but, according to BBC reports, the protestors are also considering taking their cause direct to Rome.

Bishop Burns, meanwhile, has appealed for prayer in an attempt to resolve this issue.
Trouble is, it looks very much as if someone has been a shade terminologically inexact and that these plans to demolish and rebuild out of town, have been on the agenda for a long time and, if that is true, then any subsequent process of consultation with parishioners has been a sham and a cynical exercise.

Monday 29 October 2012

Why the Latin Mass is so important

More important than pooja, sarat or metta karuna - more important, in fact, than any single thing on earth.

The Mass in the Extraordinary Form has rightly been described as the most beautiful thing this side of Heaven.

Watch this video and weep - and, hopefully, agree

(Message from Father Z)

I do not have access to my missal at present but here is a prayer I found online from the 

V. From lightning strikes, hail, and violent storms.
R. Deliver us, O Lord Jesus Christ.

V. Show us, O Lord, Thy mercy.
R. And grant us Thy salvation.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.  We beseech Thee, O Almighty God, through the intercession of Holy Mary, the Mother of God, of the holy angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins, widows, and of all Thy saints, that Thou show us Thy continuing protection, permit tranquil winds, and also pour out to us, Thy unworthy servants, Thy safety from heaven above against lightning strikes and violent storms, and that Thou remain always protective of the human race and crush down the aerial powers by the right hand of Thy power.  Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen

V. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
R. Now and forever.

V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.

V. May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Ghost, descend upon you, this place, and the fruits of the earth and remain forever.

R. Amen.

Sunday 28 October 2012

A note to school chaplains*

"When was the last time you invited a group of Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs to attend Mass in your parish church?"

I ask in all seriousness because it seems to me that the ecumaniacal movement is a one way street, with the Catholics going one way - to the shrine or the mosque.

Some commentators on my previous post have accused me of being a bigot and a racist (at worst) and uncharitable (at best).

And quite a few generous souls have leapt to my defence including bloggers such as Mundabor,
A Catholic comes Home and Left Footer - I thank them and will remember them in my Rosaries this week especially.
And I shall also remember my critics - equality for all I say!

As to the criticisms.....let me just say that I have a Muslim son-in-law and that part of my formative years included having an indian student living as a member of the family, he became another older brother for me.
So, not too much bigotry or racial hatred there then.

My reasons for writing as I do, reflects on the fact that I had an absurdly normal childhood and adolescence. I did not rebel or shout at my parents or shock them by appearing with a ring through my nose and tattoos all over my body.
I was boringly boring.

So now that I am, how shall I put it? - a tad older, I think that all that suppression of emotions and repressive freedom has resulted in a rebirth of adolescence.

Another chance to shock and appal my fellow man.

That might have a touch of truth in it but I also cannot abide cant and stupidity and all this pathetic political correctness.

Sadly, many in my Faith have gone down this route and, in so doing, have damaged the Faith and worse, I suspect, offended Almighty God who cannot be too pleased at the fact that young minds are being exposed to false religions in a manner that may lead them to believe that 'we are all members of the same club'.

That comment was made to my wife recently by a leading Catholic laywoman.

All members of the same club?................a good job that's it's Sunday or I might have used the rude, round and plural word.

* I mean lay chaplains, of course.

If you must visit a mosque or temple, here's what you must do

                       Granny Linen's Ecumenical Pork Pies are always popular

This is a key list of essential items or acts that you should  take with you or do if you are unfortunate enough to attend a school that has a lay chaplain or be a member of a parish that has a nutjob as a parish leader who desires to lead you down the rose petal strewn pathway to Perdition.

If you are going to do this visit, at least do it well, here's your list:-

1. Rosary - to be worn openly around your neck

2. Bottle of holy water - 'sprinkling' is widely accepted as a sign of friendship

3. Selection of foods, pork pies and bacon sandwiches are especially popular

4. One or two bottles of Reverend James or some lesser brew - it's ecumenical to share

5. Carry a copy of Geoffrey Hindleys 'A brief history of the Crusades' under your arm

6. Remember to hug and kiss your hosts enthusiastically one both cheeks,
     ten times - the kiss of peace is internationally welcomed

7. Hand out copies of "The Catechism of the Catholic Church" to all you meet

8. Sing the 'Salve Regina' loudly as you leave

9. Finally, and most importantly, remember to carry your "I am a Catholic, please inform
    a Catholic priest in the event of an accident" card.

Saturday 27 October 2012

What's it to be - Latin Mass or Pooja?

First of all, following my recent post on the parish of St James in Reading, I received a response from Bishop Phillip Egan of Portsmouth.

It was a kind response but, unfortunately, he had assumed that I was a parishioner and, therefore, his advice was for me to go and consult my PP.

OK, I said that it was a kind response, I did not say that it was a good one.

One of the main things about being a good leader in my book is that you accept a certain level of responsibility. 
If something smells fishy you conduct a bit of a search until you find that, bingo! there is no smell source or.........there is. 
What you do not do is tell the person enquiring to go and ask elsewhere. Let's leave it there.

Kali is not one of the most ecumenically inspired Hindu gods
Now, I hear that a Catholic School Chaplain (a young man) believes that it's a jolly good idea to go and mingle with those of heathen faiths. 

Here is what he has said:

"What an excellent opportunity for young catholics to gain an understanding of their Hindu neighbours. 
I myself am planning a trip to XXXXXX mosque with our Year 8s and 9s." 

So, why? - I keep asking myself this question. 

Why, oh why are the modernists so keen to lovey up to those of pagan faiths?

Let me put it another way, here are 4 questions for those in favour of taking parishioners or school pupils to visit temples, shrines and covens (covens? well why stop at temple and shrines?):-

1. Have you taken your parishioners or pupils to witness a Sung Latin 
    Tridentine Mass? If not, why not?

2. Have you taken your parishioners or pupils on pilgrimage to a Catholic shrine?

3. Have you arranged for an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 
    or Benediction for your parishioners or pupils?

4. Have you taken your parishioners or pupils to visit the Mother Church 
   (the national Cathedral)?

The point of all this is, that I suspect that the pupils (certainly) and the parishioners (possibly) have not experienced any of the above and it just seems rather sensible to me that young minds should first be well grounded in their own Faith before enquiring about others.

And another point is, what steps should the organiser of such a visit take (if it has to take place) to ensure that the Catholic visitors do not get drawn into a worship alliance once they are there.

By that I mean having the red spot (bindi) placed upon their foreheads, bowing towards their gods and so on.

Not only would such involvement be very, very wrong and in breach of the First Commandment but, I strongly suspect that, should a reciprocal visit take place and Hindus be invited to a Catholic Church, no request would be made for them to bless themselves or for the men to remove headgear.

But then, that's how the modernist mind works isn't it?

And, just in case any school chaplains happen to be reading this blog and require a bit of spiritual recall, here it is:-

       I am the LORD your God, 
who brought you out 
of the land of Egypt
out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before me. 
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, 
or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, 
or that is in the earth beneath, 
or that is in the water under the earth; 
you shall not bow down to them or serve them; 
for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, 
visiting the iniquity of the fathers 
upon the children to the third and the fourth 
generation of those who hate me, 
but showing steadfast love to thousands of those 
who love me and keep my commandments.

Friday 26 October 2012

Feast of Christ the King this Sunday

What will you pray for on this great feast?

Remember that, in 1925,  Pope Pius XI instituted this feast on the last Sunday of October in the Extraordinary Form, 25th November in the novo.

He created this feast as an antidote to secularism and we certainly need to remember that fact today.

But on this, one of the greatest days of HMC, surely our pleas to the Almighty will be heard with extra concern. Ask and you shall receive - so then what will you ask for?

I have a suggestion; ask for the return, the liberal return, of the Tridentine Latin Mass.
Made available to us in every parish on every Sunday.

Phew! That's a big ask.....................but not for Almighty God......the thing is that we ask Him, and on His very special day.

And, to aid the return of the EF Mass could I beg a favour? A friend is working on a project that, if successful, will advance the cause of the Latin Mass in Britain and Ireland certainly, and quite possibly a great deal more of the world.

Please pray for the success of this project. All will be revealed in due course but for now, given the enemies we have that oppose the Mass of all Time, keep it under your biretta.

Please offer up your Mass this Sunday to this cause.


The news from the organisers of the petition to the Holy Father requesting that he celebrates the old Mass in public is that it was lodged at the beginning of the month. They, the organisers, could not leave it at the office where it would have stood a chance of moving forward, instead it was taken from them at some other, lesser place - that's all I know.
Not great news but then, a prayer, a penance, a small sacrifice and who knows what could result.
More Rosaries need.

How to have a Catholic Hallowe'en

Halloween is not a festival of ghouls and witches and horrible corpses with blood coming from their nostrils, although, you might be forgiven for thinking so when you walk around the stores and see the weird mix of costumes and masks on sale.

                                Cut a cross shape in your pumpkin and leave Freddy K to RIP

What are we thinking of? We howl and scream at Jimmy Savile's alleged abuses of young girls and then we shove our children out on to the streets to trick or treat or to some macabre party. Ugh!

Hallowe'en is really All Hallows Eve as I am sure all readers of this blog know too well.

It is All Holy Eve, the night before we celebrate one of the great feasts of the Church, All Saints' Day.

So dress the little dears up as saints, have plenty of fun by all means (though adults might wish to fast and do penance in readiness for the following Feastday), eat sausages round the fire and cut potatoes into halos, stars and crosses - that's all good, clean fun.

Thanks to Gail for the picture.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Pro Life Melbourne stands up to the antis

                        Watch this if you watch nothing else today

I have good memories of 4 weeks spent in Melbourne with my son and his family earlier this year.

And of the morning we spent outside an abortuary with the 40 Days for Life group.

The good work carries on as you can see from this most moving clip.

Whoever made this film deserves a medal.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Ecumenism or ecumania?

I have received news that the parishioners of St James's Church, Reading are off on an ecumenical jolly shortly.

No, they are not going to Canterbury to share an altar in a joint service, neither are they off to have a sing-a-long with the Episcopalians, it's something far more exotic than that.......

they.....are......going to......a Hindu Temple!

But...but....Hindus are not Christians, there is nothing that we can share with them and, if my sense of prophecy is in working order, I think that those good Catholic parishioners from St James will be drawn into some sort of Hindu ceremony on the evening.

Maybe a bit of bindi along with the Hindi?

That is not on, not on at all and I am sure that Bishop Egan, newly elected to Portsmouth Diocese, will have something to say about it.

Why not ask him what he thinks? He is visiting the parish on Friday 14th December when he will preside at a Mass of Thanksgiving - an excellent opportunity I think.

This is taken from the parish newsletter:-

112 Whitley Street, Reading RG2 0EQ
on Tuesday, 30th October at 6.00pm.
The aim is to provide the catholic
group with an experience of Hindu
worship in the Temple. All are

Will there, I wonder, be a future visit to a Muslim mosque? that would be interesting.

You may also wish to email His's by form HERE

My thanks to GM for this post

"...and for your penance drink two flat whites"

Gluttony is an ugly word and, worse, an ugly sin.

Quite rightly, in my view; it comes second only to Lust in the listing of the Seven Deadly Sins and above Greed.

I am not given to the sin of gluttony in a mortal sense; just an occasional extra slice (or two) of cake or an extra glass of Possum's Spleen, I hope that such transgressions register only on the venial scale.

The thing about gluttony is that it can kick in with relatively small (venial sin) amounts or with massive (mortal sin) quantities.
I can't imagine that with lust or sloth for that matter. You cannot surely only be a little lustful or a little idle.
You lust totally and laziness is not a sin of half measures, whereas gluttony can be.

A flat white, or rather two, can lead to black sin

What brings me to this topic is coffee, what is called in Australia (where, I believe it hails from) a flat white.

A flat white is a most delicious form of coffee comprising two shots of good quality espresso followed by hot milk that has been infused with steam so that its nature changes and it takes on a marvellous creamy appearance.
But, it doesn't end there. The steam enhanced milk must be married to the coffee taking the milk from the bottom and not the top of the jug.

The result is a coffee par excellence.
I became addicted to this style of coffee when visiting Australia and it became so bad that I had to have a caffeine fix every morning before 10am and thereafter at 2 hourly intervals.

So when my local branch of Marks & Spencers featured flat whites on their menu, I was there in a flash.

Suddenly, I was volunteering to do the shopping; I became, in a short space of time, a veritable shopaholic.
But the reality was much more sinister. I was hooked on flat whites once more.

It reached a peak last week when I decided that they were so good that I would order two cups at the same time.

Luckily, I have nerves of steel and so was able to withstand Mrs L's snorts of derision and open laughter when I arrived at the table bearing my two cups, in a rather jealous fashion I do admit.

I had reasoned with my conscience, (as a Catholic aspiring to goodness) and theorised that, as I had worked hard for 50 odd years, I could be allowed to drink two coffees one after the other; it was, I decided not a vice and it was even my actual duty to do so. The caffeine would liven me up and stop me nodding off at 30 minute intervals.

And so it was I duly quaffed the coffees with great speed and relish.

And then, and then, I felt something akin to a punch in my chest from the Klitschko brothers followed by severe palpitations.

How dreadful, I thought, to have a heart attack in M & S and shuffle off my mortal coil between ladies underwear and kitchen utensils. I had such high notions for a final exit, and they didn't include a department store.

Soon my forehead was bathed in sweat and a dull pain took over my frame and then, the realisation hit me.

It was the effect of drinking 4 shots of espresso ultra prestissimo.

Never again, I vowed while my wife rocked silently with cruel laughter, and, true to my words, I have not touched a flat white since.

This form of gluttony is, I reflected, self regulatory.

You commit the sin and then penance is dished out instantly - but I think I shall still have to add it to my ever increasing list ready for confession proper.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

A Catholic 'earworm'

I did not know what an 'earworm' was until today when Mrs Linen brought me up to date as she does regularly.

I tend to dislike new words that creep into the English language, I am a traditionalist after all.

But the word 'earworm' apparently refers to the catchy song or tune or, in my case, hymn that you hear and then just cannot get out of your head.

It is on a loop that repeats and repeats incessantly; you hum it, you sing it, it stays with you for days and days.

You may even wake up in the middle of the night hearing it.

This one I owe to Fr J and the October Devotions after Mass last Sunday.

It could also be something to do with the fact that I remember my mother singing this at my bedside when I was the tender age of three or four (gulp).

I think that every Catholic mother would like to croon this hymn softly to their loved ones - and your Guardian Angel will appreciate it also.

Monday 22 October 2012

Battle of Aberystwyth round three

     This note is from those who oppose the Bishop's plans to demolish, develop and re-build                        

                        WHY SHOULD WE SAVE ST WINEFRIDES?

If planning consent is given to demolish St Winefride’s and property development goes ahead on the Queen’s Road site, the parish will have lost a historic and valuable asset. The love and sacrifice lavished by generations past on St Winefride’s will be gone and lost for ever to future generations.

Arguments against demolition and relocation of Catholic community to an out of town site:

 Plans for a church, presbytery and hall can be realised on the Queen’s Rd site. The church was registered at the Land Registry on 29 April, 2005, preparing it for sale a long time before any ‘consultation’ with the parish had been undertaken. This is proof that the diocese of Menevia has, from the beginning, pursued one option only and have never entered into a meaningful dialogue with parishioners. Ref. to parish priest’s letter of resignation.

 An independent survey shows a feasible, affordable option to refurbish the Church at the Queen’s Road site, for far less than the £2.6 million quoted on the plan sent to the parish by Menevia diocese..On the application to Ceredigion Planning, October 2012, the cost is quoted as ‘cost likely to exceed £2 million’ also ‘project (of new build) likely to be neutral . This vague representation of costs does not inspire confidence.

 Parishioners have not seen a report by insurers, nor is there evidence that the building has been surveyed by the insurance company. In September 2012, Ceredigion Council Buildings Officer confirmed that the church poses no health and safety risks Why does the amended application state that St Winefride’s church will remain open for 18 months if planning permission is granted?

 Location, location…Irrespective of how new a building, nor how modern the design, it will inevitably become a white elephant if not accessible to the community. The church location on the Queen’s Road site is central to the community, convenient for public transport links, relatively near to the University and the hospital, and easy for visitors to Aberystwyth to find. It is also a short and convenient walk for parishioners to the town from the church. St Winefride’s is not just a building it is central to the Catholic community in Aberystwyth.

 Development for the 21st century would include environmental arguments against demolition. Demolition of old buildings is hugely environmentally damaging, as well as costly. Demolition would create a situation whereby people are dependent on cars or minibuses to attend church mass; the diocesan plans take no account of the cost to the environment and rising fuel-costs. Furthermore, plans to lay on a mini-bus are not practical as those parishioners who are elderly and disabled will still need to get to the pick-up point.

 Space behind the Queen’s Road site is earmarked by the Council for parking. A local business has also approached the diocese to help solve the parking issue by offering to develop a parking area.

Write to oppose the demolition of St Winefride’s and redevelopment of the Queen’s Road site . Letters should arrive before 2 November, 2012.
Planning Application A120276
Mr Owain Davies, Planning Officer,
Neuadd Cyngor Ceredigion, Penmorfa, Aberaeron SA46 OPA

At present I am not able to receive comments in my combox, they are being forwarded to me as emails.
I hope to resolve this issue shortly but feel, in the interests of fairplay that, as I have received the following comment I should publish it:

Those who are  infirm are unable to get into this church as there is no disabled access, and as this is a mainly rural parish ( Aberystwyth parish encompasses many villages ).The vast majority of the rest of us drive to church, giving lifts to those who need it, so the position of the church buildings is hardly crucial ! The church gets bitterly cold in the Winter - not good for old or infirm - and there are no toilets either. Vast sums of money have kept the church open thus far - starting when the building was only 50 years old, and we just can't afford it any more. 

Sue Smith

And another comment from one (Dixit Dominus) who is for the status quo:-

One crucial point that seems to be overlooked is that if / when the church moves to Penparcau it will spell the end for daily Mass and informal visits to worship the Blessed Sacrament.  It will not be possible to leave the church open during the day because of the certainty of vandalism in this most run down part of Aberystwyth. Also the church is so far away from the university , offices and everything else that people will not be able to pop in for 5 minutes during their busy days as they do now.  Many of the people who are in favour of this project are 'Sunday Catholics' ; we never see them any other time so maybe this isn't important to them compared to better heating and toilets.

Embers of the Spanish Civil War

73 years after this bloody and brutal conflict came to a close there are still embers glowing in the ashes. Communism and Socialism may have received a setback at the fall of the Berlin Wall but they have not gone away.
Accounts as to the number or priests and nuns murdered out of hand vary from 6,000 to 16,000*
Either figure is a tragedy.

A Dominican martyr of the Spanish Civil War   Picture: The Black Cordelias
What always surprises me about this war, is the way that the British establishment always takes side of  the Republicans, the reds.

The classification of Fascists bad and Communists good just does not hold true in this instance (although both sides are guilty of acts of great cruelty). Franco and his followers were protectors of the Faith and the Republican movement, so beloved of the literati of the world were their sworn enemies.

The Catholic Herald reports an incident last week in which a Spanish Catholic school was stormed by a mob baying for the blood of priests: "Where are the the priests?" they cried, "We're going to burn them at the stake".

This was not Islamabad, Kabul or Abuja, this was smart and fashion conscious cosmopolitan Madrid.

The mob of youths went rampaging through the school yelling that they wanted to destroy any crucifixes they came across; one teacher was injured in the melee.

Needless to say, if it had been a Muslim madrasa and not a Catholic school that had been attacked, the world would be reverberating with the news.

* The figures according to Wikipedia:

 The figures of this persecution are impressive (not quite the right word, I feel):
 13 bishops, 4,154 priests and seminarians, 2,365 religious, 283 nuns and about 4,000 laymen killed for helping or hiding nuns or priests.

Sunday 21 October 2012

The Holy Father and the Fanon

                                                                      Picture New Liturgical Movement

This is another case of the brick by brick approach to restoring dignity and reverence to the Faith.
Today, at the canonisations of the seven new saints, the Holy Father wore a fanon, a silk shoulder cape worn only by the Pontiff.

New Liturgical Movement describes it as follows:-

A shoulder-cape worn by the pope alone, consisting of two pieces of white silk ornamented with narrow woven stripes of red and gold; the pieces are nearly circular in shape but somewhat unequal in size and the smaller is laid on and fastened to the larger one... The front part of the fanon is ornamented with a smallcross embroidered in gold... The fanon is like an amice; it is, however, put on not under but above the alb. The pope wears it only when celebrating a solemn pontifical Mass, that is, only when all the pontifical vestments are used. The manner of putting on the fanon recalls the method of assuming the amice... After the deacon has vested the pope with the usual amice, alb, the cingulum and sub-cinctorium, and the pectoral cross, he draws on, by means of the opening, the fanon and then turns the half of the upper piece towards the back over the pope's head. He now vests the pope with the stole, tunicle, dalmatic, and chasuble, then turns down that part of the fanon which had been placed over the head of the pope, draws the front half of the upper piece above the tunicle, dalmatic, and chasuble, and finally arranges the whole upper piece of the fanon so that it covers the shoulders of the pope like a collar. The fanon is mentioned in the oldest known Roman Ordinal, consequently its use in the eighth century can be proved. It was then called anabolagium (anagolagium), yet it was not at that period a vestment reserved for the use of the pope. This limitation of its use did not appear until the other ecclesiastics at Rome began to put the vestment on under the alb instead of over it, that is, when it became customary among the clergy to use the fanon as an ordinary amice. This happened, apparently in imitation of the usage outside of Rome, between the tenth and twelfth centuries; however, the exact date cannot be given. But it is certain that as early as the end of the twelfth century the fanon was worn solely by the pope, as is evident from the express statement of Innocent III (1198-1216). The vestment was then called an orale; the name of fanon, from the late Latin fano, derived from pannus, (penos), cloth, woven fabric, was not used until a subsequent age. Even as early as the eighth century the pope wore the fanon only at solemn high Mass...

Now there's a thought

Fed up with the fact that there is not a Tridentine Latin Mass within a 6 hour journey by Boeing 747 from you?

That your Bishop never answers your letter requests for the implementation of Summorum Pontificum?

Well, here's a notion for you to ponder on while you're chanting your latin primer......

....find a retired priest (in a convent or a bungaloid) near you and ask if, for a small sum of folding money (excluding ten pence coins with hinges), he will celebrate the old Mass for you and your friends.
Once a week, or once a month, on a Sunday.

It's what estate agents call a "win win" situation by which they mean that the priest gets a bit of brass to eke out his pension and you get the Mass of all Time.
Something that the Latin Mafia Society might like to consider.

And..........if the Bish won't provide you with a church for that......then it's time to do the French thing.
No, not storm the Bastille.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Dear Bishop..................

What follows are extracts from a letter written by a Parish Priest to his Bishop.

It concerns the Aberystwyth issue; that of a 19th century church building sitting on a valuable plot of land. The Bishop wishes to sell off the land and  build a new church some way out of town but the bulk of the parishioners wish to stay in town in the old church.

This battle is almost becoming a metaphor for the liberal vs traditional struggle although, the majority of the parish members would, I am sure, be classified as modern Catholics.

Key to the issue is an alleged report commissioned by the Diocese that is said to condemn the old church as dangerous and unsafe (sound familiar?). The Parish Priest has written the following letter tendering his resignation as a trustee of the Diocese of Menevia and asking to have sight of the report.

Although the letter is addressed to his Bishop, the priest, Fr Evans, distributed copies of it to all of his parishioners and a copy was passed on, in due course, to me.

The regional newspaper has featured parts of the letter but, I believe that it is important to read it more or less in its entirety; that way you will receive a sense of the priest's even handedness in approaching the problem (if, in fact, there is no other course of action other than to demolish the old and build the new then he will abide by that decision).

"Dear Bishop Tom

With regret I write to proffer my resignation from the Board of Trustees of the Diocese of Menevia......

......As you know, I have been unhappy about the failure of the Trustees to adequately address, with conviction and resolution, other possible solutions to the problems facing us in Aberystwyth.

It seems that the possible options (in order of preference) are as follows

(i) To sell the land in Penparcau (the new proposed site) (retaining a plot of land for any possible daughter church in Penparcau) and use that money, possibly with help from lottery funding and/or other sources, to repair the church and presbytery in Queen's Road.

(ii) Reluctantly (if an objective assessment and structural survey demand it) to pull down the existing church and presbytery and rebuild on the same site. (Keeping it within town limits and accessible to the elderly and infirm).

(iii) Otherwise to seek to purchase an existing redundant church, chapel or hall (there's a few of those in Wales) in the town so that the Catholic community can remain centred in Aberystwyth.

(iv) The sale of the land in Queen's Road and Penparcau to build a new church in Penparcau (I believe Fr Evans means this as a last option, that of pooling monies from both sites and re-building anew out of town)

Unfortunately the perception exists that the Trustees have from the beginning pursued with conviction and resolution only the last (final) option. Of course it may well be that, in the end, this last option proves to be the only option left to us (even if not the best option), and so there will be no choice but to knock down the present church and presbytery and build new in Penparcau.

However, for the sake of justice, transparency and truth it is important that the trustees should be seen to have explored the other options with an equal conviction and resolution with which they appear to pursue only this one (last) option.
It remains my view that the preferred option is for the Catholic in Aberystwyth to remain based in Queen's Road.
 Aberystwyth is arguably the capital of Welsh-speaking Wales (certainly it is at the heart of Welsh-speaking Wales),and it is the home to the national Library of Wales, the Centre for Celtic Studies as well as a major Welsh University.
The symbolism of the Catholic Church withdrawing from the capital of Welsh Wales, coupled with the woeful provision of the Welsh language - (no provision for a Welsh Catholic to be baptised, married or buried in his/her own language) - would, inevitably reflect badly on the reputation of the Catholic Church in Wales (I might add that there are no Latin Masses in this part of the Diocese either).


....I repeat that, in the end, we may, despite all the arguments to the contrary, have no choice but to rebuild in Penparcau, but I do not feel that as Trustees we have taken seriously, and pursued with conviction and resolution, the preferred options and solutions to the problems we face in Aberystwyth."

And, here are a few more words to ponder upon:-

"........... For, these are not easy times to live in. Unemployment is over 8% at 2.62 million in Britain, and the average level is higher here in Wales. The economy is faltering. Governments struggle to resolve the Euro-debt crisis. Those allegedly responsible for it still seem largely unrepentant. Meanwhile, many people among those who are the worst affected suffer in silence, often faced with desperation and hopelessness, the innocent victims of rash policies and the over-reaching ambition of others. Where is hope in this? Where is God?  St Paul provides the answer: Real hope is in things unseen. Sometimes we confuse it with expectations about what we want.  In fact, hope is the very essence of grace. It brings freshness and courage. It calls us to be awake to welcome the unexpected. Out of the depths of despair and anxiety, the unforeseen can emerge".  

The author?.................Bishop Thomas Burns.

Friday 19 October 2012

A Priest stands up to his Bishop

More on the Aberystwyth Church of St Winefride, the one that the Bishop of Menevia, Thomas Burns, is keen to demolish so that the land may be sold for big money.
To be fair to the Bishop, he plans to spend £2.6 million on providing a new church, trouble is, it's well out of town and that does not appear to be so sensible.

But, the newly appointed Parish Priest, Fr Neil Evans, is having none of it.

He has resigned from his post on the Bishop's board of trustees.

Here is how The Cambrian News reported the matter:-

A CATHOLIC priest has resigned from the diocese board of trustees just days after taking command at St Winefride’s Church in Aberystwyth, writes Antony Gedge.
Father Neil Evans stood down as a Diocese of Menevia trustee because he opposes controversial plans to demolish the church, replace it with a housing development and build a new church in Penparcau.
It was also revealed this week that Father Neil has been homeless since taking over at St Winefride’s because the presbytery used by outgoing priest Father Ross Patterson has now been closed on health and safety grounds.
Church bosses say insurers won’t allow it to be occupied. And it is feared that the church will close at the end of the month for the same reason.
Church bosses say the buildings are too costly to repair but objectors have produced a surveyor’s report which suggests they can be easily repaired.In a letter sent to Bishop Tom Burns and copied for parishioners, Father Neil launched a scathing criticism of how the church authority has dismissed the possibility of renovating the church.
He said: “As you know, I have been unhappy about the failure of the trustees to adequately address, with conviction and resolution, other possible solutions to the problems facing us in Aberystwyth. Unfortunately the perception exists that the trustees have from the beginning pursued with conviction and resolution only the last option.
“Of course, it may well be that, in the end, this last option proves to be the only option left to us (even if not the best option), and so there will be no choice but to knock down the present church and presbytery and build new in Penparcau.

Fr Neil is a humble and holy man and also, obviously, a brave one. It takes real courage to face up to Bishop Burns. Please remember him (and the Bishop) in your prayers.

NB The full text of Fr Neil's letter will be posted tomorrow, Saturday 20th!

Is this a cupcake I see before me?

Frills and fancies - the modern cupcake

Cupcakes have become the new cake thing.
Swiss rolls are passe, jammy dodgers a thing of the past and fairy cakes are, well, let's leave that one where it is,

Everywhere you look there are cupcakes, of every colour and size.
 Small ones, giant ones, ones with fancy concoctions on top, ribbons and bows, hundreds and thousands, nuts, glace cherries, multi coloured cupcakes, cupcakes covered in sprinkles, cream, M & Ms - the list of varieties and permutations of varieties is endless.

I well recall the days of the late sixties (yawn, zzzzzz,) when cupcakes were all the same.
The cupcake of ages

The sponge was chocolate flavoured and they came with a chocolate topping thick enough to require a good pair of jaws to penetrate it.
They were solid, reliable, uniform, satisfying and delicious and you knew where you were with them.

In short, they did all that you could wish a cupcake to do for you.
And then, along came Vatican II - and it all went downhill from there on.

Thursday 18 October 2012

I would willingly serve homosexuals......

....if I was a greengrocer, butcher or whatever.

But.....I would not rent a room to them if I was a hotelier or B & B owner.

Why? Because I would not wish for homosexual acts to take place within my own home.

The Berkshire B & B owners who politely refused to allow two homosexuals to share a bedroom have now been fined £3500, as the judge said: "To make up for the hurt feelings" of the homosexual couple.

The homosexuals concerned, in a radio interview claimed that, to discriminate as the Berkshire couple did, was the same as racial prejudice or religious sectarianism.

Not so.

Discrimination against people because of their skin colour or faith is wrong, they do not commit any unnatural act or undertaken any course of unnatural action whereas, homosexuals do.

The answer, if you are in the accommodation business, is to look for a legitimate cause that complies with the law of the land.

I am minded of an occasion a few years ago when a jobsworth in grey suit approached local fishermen in a seaside village in Pembrokeshire and instructed them to call a halt to selling mackerel off their boats at the quayside as it was against EU legislation and would attract a heavy fine.

Pembrokeshire fisherfolk, ever resourceful, immediately began selling old newspapers at the quayside complete with free fish!

Perhaps Christian hoteliers should begin banning sodomites because they are wearing dirty shoes or shirts of a nasty colour.

How can an army fight if it has no generals, no mission, no idea who the enemy is?

Well, it can't. It can only wander around with the various units bumping into one another with a few officers yelling "Charge!" and the bulk of them telling the troops how they should recycle their bathwater and buy fairtrade fags.

The enemy will, of course, be having a field day; taking his time, picking off the easy targets, avoiding the slightly troublesome ones and distributing leaflets saying: "You have plenty of time...."

                                          Liberal Catholics taking on the enemy

And the troops, God bless 'em, they are parading and drilling and marching except that they have forgotten the finer elements of all three so they are out of step, buttons undone on uniforms and tripping over each other.

That, in case you had not quite got there yet, is an allegory for the modern Catholic Church (I do know that most if not all of you will have made the connection, it's just that occasionally the odd liberal Catholic wanders on to this blog only to hitch up their skirts and run screaming for the delete button).

Now this post, believe it or not, is meant to be about the sensitive topic of re-evangelisation; how the Church informs and educates those within its walls to the reality of Catholic spiritual (and secular life).

Father Ray Blake had an excellent post a few days ago that provided us with an admirable hit list of that we might consider adopting for our own spiritual development but, I am speaking of educating the masses, the troops who have forgotten how to dress by the right and quick march.

Some time ago I posted on how, as Catholic bloggers, we have the nettle of evangelisation within our grasp but the problem is that most Catholics know little or nothing of the existence of Catholic blogs; it's rather like shoving a book under the nose of one who cannot read - a connection needs to take place before knowledge can be implanted.

A good friend (MC), whom I have yet to meet over a pint of Bateman's, has his own programme for reaching out to his fellow parishioners. MC has produced a series of newsheets (that hardly does them justice) in which, in short, pithy posts, he opens up topics for discussion.

For example, he covers current affairs illustrating that the 'brick by brick' progress is actually taking place and he also includes facts of Catholic life that many will have forgotten.

Here is his post titled: "Five lost Catholic practices currently being re-instated by faithful Catholics"

1. Sprinkling of Holy Water around the home
 2. Catholic home altars
 3. Once again calling our Church 'the One True Church'
 4. Kneeling for Communion
 5. Increased attendance at Pro Life vigils from all age groups

All truly excellent stuff - I just wish that I had the know how to reproduce the whole newsheet here.

Maybe, he will post it on his own blog.........he should because, the rest of the concept relies on those interested parties in printing off each newsletter and leaving them at the back of their local church avec permission from the PP, of course.

This idea has, as they say, got legs.

What it needs now is some of the blogging community to run with it.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

We don't complain enough

That may sound a trifle rich coming from one who posts constantly about the inadequacies of those charged with responsibility for the souls of men (and women).....(and children).

But, as a nation, the British prefer to receive a sloppy, undercooked, bland flavoured restaurant meal so that they may live for months on the memory of how bad it was and whinge to their friends on the subject.
Perish the thought that a complaint might be lodged with the waiter or maitre d'.

                                    Not quite The Tablet I had in mind

I am sure it is the same with requests for the EF Mass following Summorum Pontificum; few will have made their way to Bishop's House and even fewer to Rome.

We enjoy sitting back and carping about the sad state of affairs whilst the bulk of the hierarchy, in the absence of any fuss, sit back and relax in the belief that, as the sheep are not bleating, they must be well fed.

If you don't believe me, just investigate a few Diocesan websites and click on the 'Bishop's Appointments' page.
Here's an extract from a leading Diocese for October 2012 (I've tried to keep it anonymous as I don't particularly wish to enter a dialogue on this matter but most Bishop's will have a similar diary):-

Friday 5
10.30am Trustees’ Meeting, Xxxxxxxx
Saturday 6 – Sunday 28
Attends Synod in Rome
Subject to change without notice

Phew! I feel absolutely shattered after just reading about that frenetic activity.

If the CEO of Amazon or the Chairman of the World Bank read that schedule they would probably roll around the floor laughing hysterically.

So, my pre resolution (forward planning, see?) for 2013 is to refresh my efforts to place before my Bishop and Archbishop, polite requests to extractum digitum on matters liturgical and ecclesiastical.

Where to start? So many issues, so little time.

Well, I think that the Diocesan Magazine may be worthy of attention. why?

Because, in with the usual pap about the nun who has just produced a cookery book of recipes using only Fairtrade goods and the Curate who raised funds for CAFOD by knitting a world record length scarf, I have noticed advertisements.

Not just any old advertisements, you understand, but a full colour half page ad for (cover your ears) The Tablet.
Yes, The Tablet!

It's bad enough for a Catholic Church to have copies of this rag at the back of the Church but, to actually be involved in marketing the thing.....39 steps too far, I think.

Time for a little action Richard Hannay style.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Soho Masses, a reminder from earlier this year

The Homosexual and other similar groups who attend the Warwick Street Masses in London may be concerned as to the future of the so called 'gay Masses' as supported by Archbishop Nichols in his statement earlier this year.

In the light of a reported investigation into these Masses by Archbishop Gerhard Mueller
(see Protect the Pope blog), it is interesting to view how The Catholic Herald reported on the Archbishop's statement in February this year,  just to refresh one's memory.

"Archbishop Vincent Nichols has reaffirmed the Diocese of Westminster’s pastoral provision for gay Catholics following accusations that it provides a platform for dissent from Church teaching.
In a statement issued today, the Archbishop of Westminster “reaffirmed the intention and purpose” of the pastoral provision for Catholics at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Warwick Street.
The pastoral provision, known colloquially as the “Soho Masses”, has attracted criticism since it was established in February 2007 by the archbishop’s predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. Earlier this month a short video of the bidding prayers at one of the Masses was posted on YouTube. Critics claimed that the prayers challenged Catholic teaching on homosexuality – a claim denied by the organisers.
Archbishop Nichols said: “As we approach the fifth anniversary of the establishment of a pastoral provision for Catholics of a same-sex orientation at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, I would like reaffirm the intention and purpose of this outreach.
“That intention and purpose were clearly set out in the statement issued by the Diocese of Westminster in 2007 when the provision was started under the guidance of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.
“Furthermore it is important to recall and study again the direction and guidance set out by Cardinal Hume in 1997.
“In order to appreciate the intention and purpose of this provision a close reading of these two documents is required.
“These documents outline three essential foundations: the dignity of all persons created by God, the moral principles concerning chastity and the Church’s teaching on sexual activity, and the pastoral care of Catholics who are of same-sex orientation. All who participate in the Mass are called to live the church’s teaching through an ongoing conversion of life.
“At the present time consideration is being given to the circumstances in which these Masses are celebrated to ensure that their purpose is respected and that they are not occasions for confusion or opposition concerning the positive teaching of the Church on the meaning of human sexuality or the moral imperatives that flow from that teaching, which we uphold and towards which we all strive.”
The archbishop’s statement ended with a note which said: “The language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Church documents is the term ‘homosexual’. I am also conscious that the abbreviation LGBT is preferred by many as a collective identification. Whatever language is used, it is worth bearing in mind that the Church ‘refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental identity: the creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life’ (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, par 16).”
In response the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, the group that organises the provision, said that “increasing numbers” of gay Catholics had returned to the Church through the Masses.
The group said: “The Masses offer us a warm, joyful and inclusive occasion to share in communion with each other, with our families and friends, and with the whole Church, secure in the knowledge that we, too, have our place at the Lord’s table.
“Increasing numbers of LGBT Catholics who had been estranged from the Church have been restored to communion through the Diocese’s courageous witness to the dignity of all people.
“We also express our gratitude to the many clergy and lay people of the Diocese, and others, who support and sustain this ministry.”

There may be more than a little bit of back pedalling going on in the Victoria district at present.

Quite why we have Masses for specific congregations is beyond me. We don't have Masses for adulterers, fraudsters or serial killers - each Mass is for the Catholic community as a whole, regardless of sexual orientation or any deviation from the path of holiness.

The sooner Archbishop Mueller pronounces on the matter the better.

Fatima and a meeting of brother priests

A 'Doctor Livingstone' moment in the crowded square

The last few days traditionally is a peak period for pilgrims visiting Fatima to coincide with the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun on October 13th.

I do not know how many thousand people would have been in attendance, but it would have been a lot.

There are two priests who are so very close to the heart of my family and to whom we owe so much yet, they live and work hundreds of miles apart.

It so happened that both were in Fatima during the last week and they met, quite by chance, in the middle of the square.

Neither knew each other well; I think that they had met briefly on one occasion in the past.
 I would have given a lot to have been there in Portugal with them both and their flocks.

And, for Fr Z's brick by brick file, I have learnt that a friend in the group, never having served at an EF Mass in his life, stepped up to the mark thus enabling Fr Jones to celebrate a daily Mass.

The other priest was Fr Lessiter, another legendary priest who travelled hundreds of miles at night to bestow the Last Rites on my mother as she lay dying in hospital.

Father Lessiter has made last minute dashes a part of his ministry and he has anointed many a 'liberal' priest on his deathbed including a member of a famously modernist Bishop's staff.
Needless to say, the Bishop never knew what was taking place under his nose.

The Cardinal who spoke out against ecumenism

Today is the anniversary of the death of one of the great figures of the Reformation period, a leader of the Faith at a time when all was crumbling in Britain and beyond.

                                     Picture: Last Welsh Martyr blog

He did not die a martyr's death but he was a martyr of sorts nonetheless.

William, Cardinal Allen dedicated his priestly life to the cause of retaining the Faith in England and Wales at a time when both clergy and laity had apostasized and converted to the new Protestant faith, in massive numbers and within a very short period of time.

He died, in Rome, in 1594 at the age of seventy two, remorseful of the fact, that he had been instrumental in sending so many young priests to certain death on the mission and had not been able to join them in their sacrifice.
But his great gift to the struggle to maintain the Catholic Faith was in his work in founding Douay and other Colleges where young men were prepared for the priesthood and an almost inevitable early death.

He believed that Protestantism was a temporary glitch and that England would  soon return to the one true Faith and he had this to say about the slide of many of the Faithful into heresy by their attendance at Protestant services:

"Never teach or defend the lawfulness of communicating with the Protestants in their prayers, or services, or conventicles where they meet to minister their untrue sacraments; for this is contrary to the practice of the Church and the holy fathers of all ages, who never communicated or allowed in any Catholic person to pray together with Aryans, Donatists, or what other soever.

Neither is it a positive law of the Church, and therefore dispensable on occasions, for it is forbidden by God's Eternal Law, as by many evident arguments I could convince, and it hath been largely proved in sundry treatises in our own tongue, and we have practised it from the beginning of our miseries. 

And lest any of my brethren should distrust my judgement, or be not satisfied by the proof adduced, or myself be beguiled therein in my own conceit, I have not only taken the opinion of learned divines here, but to make sure, I have asked the judgement of His Holiness (Pope Clement VIII) thereon.

And he expressly said that participation in prayers with Protestants, or going to their services was neither lawful nor dispensable"

Those, today who 'share' services with people of other Christian faiths should take note. This was not just a single Cardinal speaking out against the errors of combining two religions with contrasting beliefs. Cardinal Allen's words were confirmed by the Pope at the time and the words "unlawful" and "dispensable" are as true today as they were 400 years ago.

William, Cardinal Allen - Pray for England, pray for Wales, pray for the world!

Monday 15 October 2012

Guilty until proven innocent

There is a strong moral in the following true story.

It covers events that took place some 30 years ago in, coincidentally, the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, and it concerns a company employee who was entrusted, each week, to deposit the business takings of several thousand pounds, in the night safe of the local bank.

On one occasion, his employers noticed that the takings for week X had not been deposited and they asked him why.

He told them that he had posted the bag containing the money into the night safe as normal.

Enquiries with the bank showed that they had not received the cash.

The police were called in and, following an investigation, arrested and charged the employee concerned, despite his protestations of innocence.

He was eventually brought to trial and sentenced to a prison term. During his spell inside his wife left him in disgust along with their small children.

After serving his term he was released but, due to his criminal conviction, he could not find work and ended up on the streets.
All of his friends and work colleagues disowned him.

He drifted on a downward spiral until, after a couple of years of unrelenting misery, he took his own life.

Some ten years after his death the bank concerned underwent renovations including a new fascia.
The old bank night safe was demolished and, in the course of the work a wallet full of cash was discovered lodged in a crevice within the shute.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Savile row grows apace

More and more women have come forward to make a claim that they were molested, or worse, by Jimmy Savile some 30 or 40 years ago.

Jimmy Savile received a Papal Knighthood from Pope John Paul II in 1990, a poorly advised award if ever there was.
Regardless of these claims against him, a Papal award should not go to lightweight TV celebs just as MBEs should never be awarded to tea ladies or traffic wardens.

An anonymous comment prompted me to re-visit my earlier post, Jimmy Savile is innocent, because this blog (commentators and self) were accused of being unCatholic in the views expressed.
I removed the comment because it was somewhat abusive; I have allowed some anonymous comments but, from now on I will only maintain comments from named individuals.

My position has not changed. Despite a rather appalling level of accusations against the man I am bound, as a Catholic, to keep an open mind.

As a citizen I am bound to believe in innocence until guilt is proven.

Of course, the sheer volume of women coming forward makes this stance a hard one to maintain but we have seen cases in the past where trumped up charges have resulted in people being found unjustly guilty; and we do have the example of an innocent man being tried, found guilty and crucified have we not?

And, no, I am not saying these accusations are trumped up. And, yes, if these gross acts did, in fact happen, then my sympathies go out to those who may have been abused.

It's just that I abhor trial by media where the front headlines of The Sun newspaper can condemn out of hand.

And I dislike the cant and hypocrisy of those in show business who are now throwing up their hands in horror that such things could have happened.
If ever the phrase "whited sepulchres" could be used in today's climate, it would apply to BBC and ITV celebrities who are now running flat out to distance themselves from  Sir Jimmy Savile.

And, if you should wish to comment, please do not do so anonymously. And, yes, the headline is intentional.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Do you know what Hell is really like?

I mean, do you? Do you think that it's all white hot coals and sulphurous smoke?

Or, maybe you have a more earthly concept for Hell such as being locked in a room full of accountants or estate agents (or Clifford Longley) - pretty terrifying but far from the real thing, I'm sure.

G.E.M. Skues (who he?) had a view as to what Hell was really like and, before I go further let me explain that George Edward Mackenzie Skues was a great and famous authority on fly fishing - a British gentleman, lawyer and author of many books with titles such as 'Minor Tactics of the chalk stream'

Skues was not, as far as I am aware, a Catholic and he died in 1949 at the ripe old age of  91 years.

One tale that he left behind was that of the dry fly fisherman who, having died, went before St Peter.

I shall do my best to recount it from memory but let me first say that the thing that fisherman love most about their sport is its unpredictability.

You never know if you are going to hook a half ounce minnow or an 8lb brown trout.

So the old fisherman arrives in front of St Peter who gives him a warm welcome before consulting his ledger.

"Ah, yes" says St P: "I've found your entry, just follow me if you would be so kind"

"Oh, St Peter, I would be so very grateful if my reward could include a little fly fishing" utters the fisherman.

St Peter halts mid-stride and looks the old chap in the eye and replies that he has exactly that in mind for him.

Throwing open a gate St Peter shows the fisherman a beautiful portion of typically English mellow countryside complete with a swift flowing chalk stream.

"Wonderful, wonderful" cries the old man as St Peter thrusts a 9 foot Hardy split cane rod into his hands - "I can't wait".

"Here, then is your mark" says St Peter, indicating a few yards of bank and, as the angler approaches the spot he sees with great joy, a fish rise near the far bank.

Without further ado he makes a cast to the spot and is instantly into a 2lb trout which he lands with little bother.

Feverishly, he recasts to the same place only to find that, within two seconds, he is fast into another fish.

Landing it he sees that it is another 2 pounder. By now he is in an advanced state of excitement and he casts again only to catch another fish of 2 lbs and this is then repeated all afternoon.

"By Jove" says the old man, "I think I've had enough for one day and I have to say it's getting a bit boring catching exactly the same size of fish over and over again".

"Oho! booms St Peter; "You can't pack up now, the fish are still rising".

Wearily the old man catches a few more before throwing down his rod in a state of exhaustion.

"No more" he cries. "That's it for today"

"But you cannot stop" responds St P, "You have to do this all day and all night"

"What?" Shrieks our brave angler, "You mean that I have to do this continuously for all Eternity?"

"You've got it in one old chap" says the Saint.

"Oh, hell!" said the fisherman.

"Precisely" replied St Peter.