Saturday 31 August 2013

Is this the best Don Camillo passage ever?


Mayor Peppone has just been to confession, after 30 something years.

He confesses to Don Camillo that he was the one who gave the priest a good beating a few weeks previously.

Being the good priest that he is, Don Camillo gives Peppone a penance of 20 Hail Marys and 20 Our Fathers.

And then, as Peppone kneels to say his penance, Don Camillo discusses the matter with the crucified Christ above the altar:

"Lord, if I have been a worthy servant to you, grant me one small favour.

Let me at least hit him with this candle. After all, Lord, what is a candle?"

"No", replied Christ, "Your hands were made for blessing."

Don Camillo sighed wearily. He genuflected and left the altar.

As he turned to make a final sign of the cross, he found himself behind Peppone who still knelt at the communion rails and appeared absorbed in prayer.

"Lord", groaned Don Camillo, clasping his hands and looking up at the crucifix, "My hands were made for blessing, but not my feet".

"There's something in that" replied Christ, "but, I warn you, just one".

The kick landed like a thunderbolt. Peppone didn't bat an eye.

After a minute he got up and sighed.

"I've been expecting that for the past ten minutes," he remarked casually, "I feel better now."

"So do I" exclaimed Don Camillo whose heart was now as light and serene as a May morning.

Christ said nothing at all but it was easy to see that He too was pleased.

If you have not read any of the Don Camillo stories, I urge you to do so. They were written by Giovanni Guareschi and are still to be found on Abe and Amazon.

Friday 30 August 2013

Mills and Boon goes Latin

"Samantha had been looking forward to Sunday all week.

As the parish choreographer she had led her small group of 'maidens' in creating a special dance in honour of the patron saint of the parish, St Knobbly, and they had been practising their twerk routine for what seemed like ages.

Arriving at the church Samantha felt her heart miss a beat.

Something was wrong, very wrong.
Someone had reversed the altar so that Fr Reg would have his back to the people. Samantha let out a gasp; there was smoke coming from the sacristy, could the church be about to be engulfed in flames?

And then, he appeared and Samantha instinctively knew that she would be safe in this man's hands.

He moved from the hips up and Sam felt a sudden surge of blood to her face as she blushed uncontrollably.

Who was this tall stranger with grey flecked eyes and lean jawed features?

 And why was he wearing a cassock and cotta?

"Hi" he said casually. "Are you looking for somebody?"

"I think I have found him" said Samantha, looking at him from lowered eyes and feeling very pleased that she had put on that new foundation make-up delivered by Pickfords, the day before.

"I'm the thurifer" continued the broad shouldered server, "sorry if the smoke alarmed you".

"Not at all" cooed Samantha. "I like a man who smokes but I thought that Lucifer was supposed to be bad?"

He threw back his head and laughed showing a set of even, white teeth.

"That's very good" he said. "But excuse me while I arrange the sanctuary for the Missa Cantata"

"Th-th-the Missa whatta?" stuttered Samantha, her mind racing as she thought that she knew all of the latino dances but this one did not ring a bell (or, did it?).

"We are having a Solemn High Mass" this morning, said the server. "With three priests, Fr Blogfinegan, Fr Sexton and Fr Harry from 'oop north'".

Samantha felt as if a cold hand was clutching at her heart. "B-but where are you from" she managed to gasp out.

"Me?" said the server, "I'm LMS".

"What?" "Does that mean Lean, Manly and Strong?" asked Samantha hopefully.

"No, you little fool. It stands for Latin Mass Society.
Today is the day that the Latin Mass returns to St Knobbly's, on his great feast".

"You brute!" exclaimed Samantha as she ripped the thin, flimsy lace from his broad, manly chest.
"Does this mean no dancing on the sanctuary and no more Special Holy Aunties of the Eucharist?"

'Fraid so" said the server, your twerking days are over, there's a whole world out there just waiting to be rediscovered. Why don't we step into the future together, who knows, you might even come to love Latin".

"That's true" thought Samantha as she snuggled into the coarse black cloth of his cassock.

"Maybe the Latin Mass does have something to offer that is bigger than both of us".

With apologies to Mills and Boon.


Thursday 29 August 2013

The underground cathedral - carved from salt

I know that Poland is the territory of my good friend Chris at the excellent
Left-Footer blog so I beg his forgiveness for my trespasses.

And a H/T to Clare, my niece, for sending me the information.

There is nothing particularly spectacular, you might think, about a salt mine.

Parts of Cheshire, I believe have been mined extensively for centuries.

But Wieliczka Salt Mine, near Krakow, in Poland hides a secret, an underground treasure, hidden from human eyes, but not from the sight of God.

Some 327 metres below the surface, miners, over the centuries, have worked to laboriously carve out of the rock salt a Cathedral.

Not only a Cathedral but also three chapels and literally dozens of holy statues.

Now, you may conjure up an image of a rough hewn cavern and fairly fundamental altars, communion rails and so on, but that is not the case.

Feast your eyes on this extraordinary work of man, dedicated out of love of Almighty God.

Of course, somehow a Welsh dragon managed to put in
an appearance

The mine has been in existence since the 12th century but ceased operating in 1996.

Now the Wielicza has been placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites

St Kinga - patron saint of miners
Please note: The mine is open to visitors and access to the depths is via a lift (or elevator if you come from N. America).

Source: Wikimedia

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Mills and Boon goes Catholic!

Yes, in an unexpected move, romantic novel publishers, Mills and Boon has announced that they have commissioned a group of their authors to write specifically on Catholic  subjects.

"It's part of our programme of reaching out to niche markets" explained Crispin de Warren Manley, Head of Marketing.

And here, as a total worldwide scoop we have an extract from the first novel, 'Not a marrying man' read it here first, remember:-

"Marjorie stepped out of the shower and admired her long, slim legs in the mirror.
It was Sunday and she had not attended Mass in months and so, she had decided to put on some of her best finery and go; after all, the unmarried Deacon Antonio was going to be in attendance and she had long harboured feelings of pent up passion for him, in spite of his acne problem and built up heels.

Quickly slipping into her flimsy top and flaired mini skirt she grabbed her handbag and made for the door, it wouldn't do to be late for Mass today.

She drove into the church car park and could not help noticing a tall, menacing figure in black at the foot of the church steps.

"Who could that be?" she wondered. "It's not one of our dear greeters"

Nimbly slipping out of the car she gaily approached the church entrance whereupon she was grasped firmly by one shoulder.

"Where do you think you are going dressed like that?" a voice hissed in her ear.

It was none other than Deacon Antonio.

"Antonio" exclaimed Marjorie. "Why are you handling me so roughly, you brute?"

Secretly Marjorie rather liked Antonio's firm, masculine approach, she had thought him somewhat limp wristed up until now.

"I've told you before" said the Deacon. "Don't call me Antonio, it's Reverend Mr Deacon if you don't mind"

"But Reverend Mr Deacon" gasped Marjorie throatily. "You have never spoken to me like that before"

"Things have changed" said Antonio, slightly relaxing his grip on her smooth, white shoulder, "We've got a new PP and he's a you know whatter"

"A you know whatter?" Marjories lisped. "Whatever do you mean Ant....Reverend Mr Deacon?".

"He's a Latinist" Antonio snarled. "And what is more he is celebrating a Latin Mass this morning. We are sunk".

"B-b-but" Marjorie stammered, "What does this mean?"

"It means" Said Antonio with heavy irony. "That you have to dress modestly for Mass and wear a mantilla"

Marjorie swooned and fell heavily against the deacon who propped her up on his broad, masculine chest.

"But where will I get some modest dresses from?" sobbed Marjorie, nestling into the rough, heavy tweed jacket of the man she secretly loved.

"You can borrow one of mine" said Antonio.

"You do know that I am gay don't you?"

To be continued.......

Apologies to M & B

Still time to email your MP

The House of Commons will debate tomorrow whether or not to shove a few massive warheads in the direction of President Assad's military bases.

Trouble is, a few civilians will get killed in the process but, hey, that happens in a war.

Except that, this is not a war as such.
It is a civil conflict and, much as we are appalled at the sight of civilians gasping in extremis as a result of chemical warfare, we do not know with any degree of certainty, who launched them.

The argument that only Assad has the rocket bases is specious, we know that a great many types of rocket may be launched from the back of massive trucks and it could just as easily be a cynical move by Al Qaeda elements, killing their own people in order to provoke western intervention.

I am not a pacifist. I do believe in the Aquinan principles.

None of those are met in the case of Syria and Hague's outrage at the fact that these weapons are being used is laughable when you think who it was who dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So please Google your MP and send him/her a pithy email asking him/her to vote for restraint  tomorrow.

And please spread the 'Syria prayer'

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Please say this prayer for Syria

And please spread the Syria prayer on your blog or Facebook or anywhere where it will be read....

    Prayer for peace in Syria

God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbours in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.

We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,

Petition: For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.

We pray to the Lord…

Talking of Syria, Mr Cameron....

....please remember, war is not like this!
God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
Bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
Bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
Strengthen Syria’s neighbours in their care and welcome for refugees,
Convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
And protect those committed to peace.
God of Hope,
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence and to seek reconciliation with enemies,
Inspire the Church around the world with compassion for the people of Syria,
And give us hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
Prince of Peace and Light of the World,
Petition: For the people of Syria, that God may strengthen the resolve of leaders to end the fighting and choose a future of peace.
We pray to the Lord


Monday 26 August 2013

If it looks Protestant and sounds Protestant......

.....then, logic dictates, it must be Protestant.

I mean, of course, the Ordinary Form of Mass, the Novus Ordo.

This post has been prompted by several comments, made privately, from recent converts who have found themselves in the 'double somersault' position, namely, the first somersault in converting to the Catholic Faith and the second in discovering the Tridentine Latin Mass.

And then comes the process of attempting to reconcile the one with the other - a hard and often painful period of doubt and concern.

And to a certain degree it applies also to Novus Ordo Catholics who, again, 'discover' the Old Rite and then come up against the same problems as their converted brethren.

Now, I stress that, what follows are my own views and I accept that some may be offended by them but, I return to the post heading: "If it looks Protestant and sounds Protestant, then it must be Protestant".

The liturgical case of OF vs EF has been made many times but I would like to focus on the physical, actual signs of Protestantisation in the new Mass.

The elements that make the distinction between old and new as clear as white is from black.

Catholic or Protestant? Hard to tell in today's world


Again, I pre-qualify what follows by stating that we have many good priests who celebrate both forms. I believe that to be an acceptable but dangerous thing inasmuch that, in many respects, the two represent very different spiritual processes. 
We also have many indifferent priests who only celebrate the Ordinary Form, and that, indeed, is an extremely dangerous thing.

1. The Catholic altar has been replaced by the Protestant table

2. The Faithful stand to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the hand

3. Holy Communion is given in both forms

4. Unifying Latin has disappeared to be replaced with the vernacular

5. The Priestly vestments have morphed into the style of the Protestant pastors

6. Females as altar servers

7. Religious statues, flowers on the altar, candle offerings - all are disappearing in the new order

8. Holy water fonts are, often dry and neglected

9. Sacred music has been replaced by guitars and tambourines

10. Altar servers wear albs

Now, please comment by all means but do not tell me that, in your parish, the water font is full to overflowing.
My points are generalisations and you will always find parishes where the Novus Ordo is celebrated reverently and largely in Latin.

But, every time that I attend an OF Mass (infrequently, admittedly) I see all that is listed above taking place.

That list, of course, is not exclusive. You could add the disappearance of bells, thuribles, dancing and so on to the list (and please feel free to do so in the comment box).

So, on the one hand we have the Mass that organically expanded until, in the 16th century, it was (broadly) ratified and has remained the same ever since, throughout the world, and, on the other, the Mass that was committee designed in the 1960s and 70s, that is subject to constant variations and changes according to the whim of the celebrant and that is allegedly in the vernacular but, in Britain today, is just as likely to be in Tagalog or Polish or Mandarin.

I know which Mass has Catholic Doctrine in its DNA.

I know which Mass I will attend to fulfil my Sunday obligation.

Picture: Infallible Catholic blog

Sunday 25 August 2013

At last - a Bishop speaks out!

Even the logo features the symbol of The Holy Trinity

It may not be the Same Sex "Marriage" issue or a statement in opposition to homosexuals adopting babies but, it's a start and a good one at that.

The Girl Guides Association recently announced moves to remove any reference to God in the oath (or promise?) made by Girl Guide Novices before they are received into the arms of Baden-Powellship.

Christian groups worldwide have been aghast at the prospect and now a Bishop, and an English Bishop at that, has fearlessly stepped up to the mark to fly the flag for Christendom (rather too many metaphors, I'm afraid).

Thank heavens for a Bishop who is not afraid of his own shadow...trouble is, the Bishop concerned is an Anglican and not a Catholic - no surprise there then.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has commended those Girl Guide leaders who are refusing to implement the new humanist oath and is encouraging others to do likewise.

But, it's not altogether a whole hearted stand against secularism as Bishop Nazir-Ali is advocating having a choice of oaths, one Christian and one Secular.

A shame really, there are over 900,00 Girl Guides who have already taken the Christian oath without any problem.

This is just another cynical and silly move by the humanist lobby.

The Catholic problem vis a vis the Bishops is that they all have a 'diocesan' mentality and no one speaks out with a corporate voice, as England and Wales is the territory of Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

And we know, do we not? That His Grace lacks the Heenan principle of grabbing a television camera crew and putting the Catholic view forward pronto.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Can we survive the growth of Islam?


Not according to this clip on Muslim demographics....."in a very few years, Europe, as we know it, will cease to exist".


A little Catholic humour

A well known atheist was walking through the woods one day when he was confronted by a savage looking bear.

Turning, he fled in fear of his life. Within a few seconds the bear had outrun him and with one paw pinned him to the ground whilst the other, was poised to strike the mortal blow.

"Oh God" screamed the atheist.

Instantly, the bear froze as time stood still.

And then, a voice from above said: "You called me?"

"Oh", said the atheist, "So you really do exist, could you make this bear go away please? (he was a very polite atheist).

"But why should I?" said God. "You've been denying my existence all your life".

"That's a very fair point" said the atheist, thinking quickly. 
"Do you think perhaps that you could turn the bear into a Christian instead?"

"Yes, my son, I can certainly do that for you", said the Almighty.

Instantly, the bear became animated once more, halted its attack, placed its paws together and said: "Bless us O Lord.......".

Friday 23 August 2013

Richard III - the non Catholics just don't get it

Please may we have our Abbey back?

The tussle over where the remains of King Richard III are to be buried rattles on with suggestions that he should be received and re-interred at York Cathedral, Leicester Cathedral or Westminster Abbey.

This is a Catholic King we are talking about and whilst, all of the above mentioned churches were once Catholic, they are Catholic no longer.

Not to labour the point but they are all Protestant and, whichever way you package it, that means that they are heretical - not in communion with the one true Church, in fact, very much out of communion with the OTC.

The letters pages in today's Daily Telegraph carry yet another venue that is totally inappropriate:-

Sir - I too am a descendant of Edward IV, (well you should know better, then) via his daughter Elizabeth of York and her marriage to Henry Tudor.
Would the Queen consider allowing Richard III's remains to be interred in St George's Chapel, Windsor, where his brother, Edward lies?
Elizabeth Bembridge

Well Mrs Bembridge, perhaps a solution to this problem would be for the Protestant Church to return one or all of the Cathedrals and Chapels that were stolen from the Catholic Church.

Then, King Richard could be buried in York, Westminster, Windsor, Chipping Sodbury or, anywhere, for that matter, that was of the same Faith as him.

How to spot a terrorist

A badge of courage.......or of extremism?

It is reassuring, in one sense, to find that the British Government, for all its faults, has set in place a programme of training for public sector workers, to enable them to be aware of the terrorism threat and, more importantly, identify potential terrorists.

It has been in place since 2011 and it is called PREVENT.

PREVENT is a nice, non alarmist sort of a word that one might use to describe a deterrent to stop cats or dogs from entering the garden.

If I was in charge of such initiatives I might have called it 'SPOTAKILLER' or, 'ISLAMOWATCH' and that brings me to the point.

The official blurb covering PREVENT (you may read it HERE) mentions Northern Ireland Terrorism, International Terrorism, Extreme Right Wing Terrorism and so on but, coyly, fails to make any mention of the main threat, that of Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorism.

But, according to my source, those who are on the receiving end of such courses, namely, doctors, nurses, teachers, immigration officers and so on, are being given very specific directions with regard to identifying Muslim extremists.

Quite how that works I don't know but I am assured that it's a bit more sophisticated than looking out for anybody with a spade beard and a crochet cap.

But how long will it be before we see a target group listed as 'Christian right wing' or 'Christian anti gay 'marriage/abortion?'

Not too long, I suspect.

And how will they spot us?

Well......they might make a start by arresting those found wearing symbols of a crucifix or a scapular.

Thursday 22 August 2013

The end of Summorum Pontificum?

Summorum Pontificum RIP?

The Eye Witness has the story.......please God it will not happen.

Satanic rituals suspected in the West Country

The Teign Valley - a green and pleasant land now marred by satanic rituals

*The peace of the Teign Valley in Devon has been shattered by a series of horrific attacks on animals suspected to be the work of satanists.

The reports cover ducks found decapitated, lambs left to die in fields with their front legs severed and horses and goats tortured and dismembered.

It would be hard to lay the blame for such acts on street thugs and vandals who do not normally operate in the countryside, preferring the city streets for their brand of criminal violence.

Supporting evidence pointing to satanists comes in the form of ritualistic symbols and other signs surrounding the remains of the unfortunate animals.

We have become a complacent society all too keen to appear non judgemental and accepting of all forms of social and anti social behaviour.

It is not uncommon, here in West Wales, for a local 'witch' to be interviewed in the regional press, making comments on religious and social affairs. The preserve, 30 years ago, of various ministers of Christian denominations.

We have absorbed tarot cards, ouija boards, horoscopes and the like as part of our daily fare. There are even boxed children's games based on ouija boards.

Back in the 1980s when we had a smallholding deep in the Forest of Dean; on a hill supposed to be one of the main ley line centres in the country (I don't know much about ley lines and I don't wish to further my knowledge), I was out late at night, assisting our small flock of ewes to give birth.

At one stage, while at the bottom of the field I looked some two hundred yards to the top where field met forest, only to see forty or so candle lit lanterns deep in the woodland.
 No sign of any movement.

 Nothing but the flickering lights, in a place some quarter of a mile from any road or forest track.

I am afraid that I did not investigate further, wild horses would not have made me take one step in that direction; I finished with the lambing and went to bed for a rather uneasy sleep.

Some 60 miles away, Glastonbury, once a pleasant country town and seat of Catholic history and devotion, was sinking under the influence of New Age followers and all their hangers on.

The Buddhists, Hare Krishnas, Yoga practitioners and the like all have links back to the occult whether  through the individual beliefs of their followers or their actual practices.

Now, idol worshipping Glastonbury stands as an example of what is taking place throughout Britain, the rapid spread of witchcraft and the occult in general.

The Bishops will not speak out against it, I suspect that they do not even wish to acknowledge its existence as it would be an admission of the failure of the reforms that have taken place since the 70s.

What to do?

One thing that must be done is to talk about it. Bring the topic to the fore of conversations with family and friends and make people aware of the sinister forces that are at work here.

So many young people are drawn blindly into the fringes of the occult through the horoscope pages in every newspaper and magazine.
That is the start of a process of decline that involves the denial of the power of God and His Divine Son and the acceptance of another supernatural power.

 Of course, we may also say what Father Z calls "the Michael Prayer" a potent force against all forces of evil....

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defence against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust down into hell Satan, and all wicked spirits,
who wander through the world for the the ruin of souls.

*Reports made in The Daily Telegraph and other major newspapers


Wednesday 21 August 2013

The end of the tour

We are back after twelve or so days in the Shires carrying out patriarchal (and matriarchal) duties.

One of the greatest benefits for us was that we went to Mass at several parishes not previously visited.

The traditional Catholic network in Britain is a strong one and, wherever you go you come across links to friends, if not actual friends themselves.

I would particularly like to thank Fr Mildew (aka Fr Michael Clifton), President of the Basil Loftus Appreciation Society, for his kind words after Mass and for his wonderfully direct homily.

If we had one hundred priests like Fr Clifton I am sure England would soon reclaim 'Mary's Dowry' status.

We were also able to meet Alan and Suzanne Robinson at Ware and Marigold Turner in Tenterden.
Marigold is well known as  one of the giants of the laity, responsible for keeping the Latin Mass alive in her part of Kent during the dark days pre Summorum Pontificam.

And to those whom we failed to see, due to a number of obstacles, my apologies and I hope we may rectify that in the future, Deo volente.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

A Mass for the Deaf

For use on board plane - or at the Latin Mass!

I know it is not pc to say the word 'deaf' but the term 'hard of hearing' belongs directly to the nanny state and, besides, nobody speaks of the 'hard of eyesight' - 'blind' being perfectly acceptable.

But this Mass for the Deaf was one that I attended some time in the last five years, somewhere East of Fishguard and north of Penzance (it would be most unkind for me to cast a light on the good priest who celebrated this Mass).

It was not a Mass for deaf people, there was no 'signing' in Latin, that would have been rather droll.
It was rather a Mass that, if you were deaf, you would probably have had no problem in hearing every word the priest said.

Let me set the scene; it was a typical Old Rite congregation, no chatting, laughing or telling silly jokes; all was quiet and reverent as usual.

A bell rang and the server emerged from the Sacristy followed by the celebrant.

So far so good.

And then the prayers at the foot of the altar began.

The priest (whom, I should have said, was Irish, had a broad Irish brogue that you could have cut with a pneumatic drill) and when he opened his mouth to say the blessing: "IN NOMINE PATRIS ET FILII ET SPIRITUS SANCTI AMEN" he bellowed it out with every ounce of energy in his body.

And so it continued.

At first I was shocked and then subject to inward hysterical laughter.

I then came to the conclusion (rightly as it transpired) that this priest was using his normal volume of speech and that he had little knowledge of the Latin Mass and its rubrics.

This was a Mass of a sort never before experienced and the good man proceeded at a rattling pace, to go through the Mass as if someone was holding a gun at his head and telling him to go louder and faster.

We, the congregation, were swept along with him, barely hanging on for dear life to the edge of his alb.
This was a Mass of some pace, it was a raging torrent of a Mass and it bumped us along through the rapids over waterfalls, into deep pools and out again spluttering for breath.
It was a magnificent and moving experience - but, with the Blessed Adrian Fortescue spinning in his grave, by all rights it should not have been.

Monsignor Ronald Knox once described the Mass as being a form of dance and never was this more true than on this occasion; it was a river dance of a Mass that would have had the purists swooning in the aisles.

I am not a purist. There was no intention of irreverence.

And any priest who travels a considerable distance on a Sunday afternoon, to say the Mass of all Time for a disparate group of orthodox Catholics, gets my vote.

We left the Church feeling as if we had been through the millstream with heads ringing and eardrums in a state of shock.

May God bless that priest (and guide him to an LMS course on how to celebrate the Holy Mass).

Monday 19 August 2013

Noddy goes to the Latin Mass

With apologies to Enid Blyton (or Eonidh O'Bloightain as she is sometimes called)

"Introibo ad altare Dei" Parp, parp!

"It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning as Noddy climbed into his little yellow car and set off for Mass at St Knobbly's in the centre of Toytown.

As he drove along he waved cheerily to Mr and Mrs Tubby Bear and their son, Bruiny and then braked hard to avoid running over Bumpy Dog. "Parp, parp" went the little yellow car as Noddy tooted at Bumpy Dog, warning him to be more careful in future.

Noddy carefully parked his little car outside St Knobbly's and, just as he was about to enter the church, he was pounced upon by the two goblins, Sly and Gobbo.

"Let me go!" said the little nodding man; "Oh, please let me go!"

"Not until we have greeted you" said Sly and Gobbo in chorus; "We're the new greeters"

"But we don't have greeters at the Old Rite Mass" said Noddy.

"And, anyway, you are the Parish Artists and have nothing to do with us traditional Catholics."

"We're the new greeters" said Sly and Gobbo

"Now then, now then" said Policeman Plod, appearing as if by magic; "What's going on 'ere then?"
Mr Noddy is quite right you know, there's no need for greeters at EF Masses, traditional Catholics are far too smart for such silly pranks.
Now run along the two of you before I report you to Bishop Bumble".

Sly and Gobbo made a series of nasty faces at Noddy before running off to find their friend Stinkly, the parish liturgist, who lived in Bishop Bumble's dustbin.

"Phew" said Noddy. "Thanks PC Plod, those goblins really give me the creeps. I really can't begin to think why folk need 'greeter's to welcome them to Mass, especially when Our Lord is waiting to greet them in person".

"I know, I know", said PC Plod; "Trouble is, Noddy, people have forgotten all about worshipping the Lord properly.
I just hope that Pope Frankly will put them straight so that we can all settle down in peace once more.
Now you run along into Mass and don't forget to say a prayer for me will you?" he winked knowingly at the little nodding man who cheekily replied: "Of course not PC Plod, I always pray for sinners!"

Sunday 18 August 2013

Getting it rite - more on the Novus Ordo Mass and the Mass of Christ

I know nothing of Fr Hesse but plan to research him more fully when time allows.

Meanwhile, I am indebted, yet again, to Elaine for shoving me in the right (rite?) direction.

This clip shows, very effectively, the Protestantisation of the Catholic liturgy.....'frogs in buckets' springs to mind.....


Saturday 17 August 2013

Cardinal Vaughan School - good news!

Catholic ethos + Catholic Culture + Catholic Education = Catholic Success

It seems only yesterday that the Archdiocese of Westminster and the Parents, Teachers and Pupils at London's Cardinal Vaughan School were at odds over ++ Nichols' desire to appoint his own men and women onto the Governing Body, in effect, taking control of the management of the school.

Well, a great deal of prayer and lobbying by those opposed to such goings on resulted in a victory for common sense and this most illustrious of Catholic Schools.

And now, (drumroll) I am pleased to announce that this month's outstanding A Level results at the Vaughan, have placed it as the top performing Comprehensive School in the country.

Yes, you read that correctly, the top performing Comprehensive School in the Country!

As the school website so modestly puts it:-

"In a year when the national proportion of A* and A grades fell once again (to 26.3%), it has risen by over 10% at the Vaughan from last year's 51.7% to a record-breaking 62.2%.   Grades from A* - B also rose to 86.8%.  The overall pass-rate was, once again, 100%. 

We are, according to The Times, the highest performing comprehensive school in the country.

This exceptional performance is due to the immense diligence of pupils and staff who work so effectively with - and for - each other.  Our thanks and congratulations go to them all."

Picture: Yates Associates

H/T to Liam Connelly

Father - where's your aura?

On the Feast of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary our Latin Mass was at St Edmund and the English Martyrs, Ware, at the gateway of what used to be called Allen Hall, alma mater to many Westminster priests now getting on a bit.

The church was quite full with many, many, children aged from zero to 18 or so.

The altar was prepared and the candles lit celebrant.

With five minutes to go a sudden hush fell over the congregation (they were already very quiet and reverent, this was going to be a Latin mass, remember).

And then, in a scene oddly reminiscent of the elven troops marching in to Helm's Deep, they appeared.

Not elves; these beings were much more potent and important - they were Norbertines!

They did not march up the church, they appeared to be on castors as they glided, serenely and without any unseemly haste, as they proceeded to the sacristy.

I have often felt that those priests who celebrate the Old Rite, have a certain aura about them; an invisible glow that, somehow, makes its presence felt.

So it was with the two Norbertine fathers.

Priests with a definite aura - the White Canons, big guns of the Church

I never learnt their names but there was just time to exchange a few words afterwards and, when I asked permission to feature their photograph on the blog I was both surprised and inspired to receive the words: "Keep up the good work".

The Mass was, of course, as always, magnificent but, when it came to the sermon, the celebrant gave a most moving homily.
Certainly, I would rate it as being in the top five sermons that I have listened to in my short life (!)

What follows is a poor transcription, from a poor memory and I ask forgiveness from the priest who treated us so it is...I should state that the priest did not so much preach at us as speak to us, without notes.

We were in a one sided conversation with a man of massive intellectual capacity that did not hinder in any way, his understanding of us lesser mortals, so now, here it really is:-

"I have a great devotion to the Shroud of Turin and an interesting fact that has emerged of late is that analysis of the image has shown that Our Lord died with His head resting on his right shoulder.

We believe, of course, that, His Blessed Mother stood at the right hand side of the cross; Our Lady is always depicted this way and, that means, of course, that Our Blessed Lord died gazing into the eyes of his beloved mother.

And, our Lady, held the sight of her Beloved Son in her own gaze.

Now we know that Our Lord loves us all, although I do not really know why He loves me, he certainly loves you - and we may hope that, when our time of death comes, He will gaze lovingly into our eyes - and we, for our part, may gaze also into His eyes......"

Enough. I really can not do justice to this fine and most moving sermon.

And after Mass we adjourned to the church hall for a fine repast and enjoyed the company of many parishioners and their children.

Alan and Suzanne Robinson (from the College) were most hospitable and, as an added bonus, we were able to visit the grave of Fr Richard More Sutherland, the priest who bestowed the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony on us at the Church of the Holy Name, Esher, all those years ago.

The grave was tucked into the side of a hedge, just five yards from the hall, but, sadly, the headstone had been smashed in some recent mishap.

We shall attempt to remedy it when we next visit this little church, miles from anywhere.

And, if you wish to learn more about the Norbertines, please visit their website HERE or, if you are in the process of discerning a vocation as a priest or sister, please visit Norbertine Vocations.

Please say a prayer for the eternal soul of Fr Sutherland.

Friday 16 August 2013

"A four legged friend...."

Over at The Muniment Room, Ttony has a rather good post concerning the new inclusive re-writes of some of our best and most profound hymns.

I could hardly bear to read it so appalling and inane are the Nuchurch versions.

It brought to mind the state of play that existed at the time of the 'food processing' of the liturgy, from around 1970 on.

My eldest brother, may his soul rest in peace, so disliked the new music that he had great difficulty in fulfilling his Sunday obligation.

Nevertheless, he would stand at the back of the church (churches in Lancashire were still full to overflowing in those days) and, when the banal singing began he would close his eyes and join in.

But, he sang the words and tune to the old Roy Rogers cowboy song "A four legged friend" because, in his eyes, mundane as the song was, it was still several hundred times better than the crass hymns being sung throughout the Mass.

I do not regard that as blasphemy, more a case of a man suffering from 'Gregorian deprivation'.

An example of equine liturgical dancing

Thursday 15 August 2013

Holy Father welcomes Bishop Fellay and the SSPX team

Oh, no! Got that wrong didn't I?

Sorry, I meant members of the Argentine football team. Got my priorities mixed up there.

The Feast of the Assumption - in Wales

Just one year on, the Missa Cantata on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be celebrated again at The Church of The Sacred Heart, Morriston, Near Swansea at 12 noon.

Just as it took place in 2012.

It would be fruitless to video it again, the Latin Mass is the Latin Mass.

Except that, I suspect, the Newcastle Emlyn Schola will sing a different Mass this year - Palestrina? Byrd?

Quis scit?

Sorry for the poor sound quality.

And, should you find yourself able to attend this Mass, remember to take a pork pie or a chicken leg with you for a feast after Mass.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

How to make your home fireproof

Remember how, years ago, every Catholic home had at least one crucifix on the wall?

You always knew you were in a Catholic home when you saw the crucified Christ, ready to protect when needed.

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) knew a great deal about evil and how to counter it; she died in a Nazi concentration camp having converted from Judaism.

She wrote about the approaching fire:

"The world is in flames. The struggle between Christ and Antichrist rages openly, and so if you decide for Christ you can even be asked to sacrifice your life.
Contemplate the Lord who hangs before you on the wood because he was obedient even to the death of the Cross.
 He came into the world not to do his own will, but that of the Father. And if you wish to be the spouse of the Crucified, you must renounce completely your own will and have no other aspiration than to do the will of God.

Before you the Redeemer hangs on the Cross, stripped and naked, because he chose poverty.
Those who would follow him must renounce every earthly possession.
Stand before the Lord who hangs from the Cross with his heart torn open.
He poured out the blood of his heart in order to win your heart.
In order to follow him in holy chastity, your heart must be free from every earthly aspiration. Jesus Crucified must be the object of your every longing, of your every desire, of your every thought.

The world is in flames: the fire can spread even to our house, but above all the flames the Cross stands on high, and it cannot be burnt.
 The Cross is the way which leads from earth to heaven. Those who embrace it with faith, love, and hope are taken up, right into the heart of the Trinity.

The world is in flames: do you wish to put them out?
 Contemplate the Cross: from the open Heart the blood of the Redeemer pours, blood which can put out even the flames of hell.

 Through the faithful observance of the vows, you make your heart free and open; and then the floods of that divine love will be able to flow into it, making it overflow and bear fruit to the furthest reaches of the earth.

Through the power of the Cross you can be present wherever there is pain, carried there by your compassionate charity, by that very charity which you draw from the Divine Heart.

That charity enables you to spread everywhere the Most Precious Blood in order to ease pain, save, and redeem.
The eyes of the Crucified gaze upon you. They question you and appeal to you. Do you wish seriously to renew your alliance with Him?

What will your response be? ‘Lord, where shall I go?

You alone have the words of life.’ Ave Crux Spes Unica!

Read more:


Tuesday 13 August 2013

Are you planning on giving the woman of your dreams a gift?

What's it going to be?

I mean, this has got to be a gift for a very special you're really going to push the boat out, right?

Well, here are one or two suggestions so that you may be good and ready for the special day -
August 15th - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:-

First and foremost has got to be the gift of reciting the Rosary on her great day. And, a pledge to continue to do so, daily from then on.

Secondly, reach the mother through the Son......acts of mortification are in order, made as a thanksgiving or, for a special cause such as the return of the Latin Mass or on behalf of those who blaspheme the Holy Name.

Thirdly, attend Mass, not just because it is an obligation but out of love for your mother.

And, fourthly, stand and sing the 'Salve Regina' at the top of your voice in your local supermarket - you will find that it will make a huge impression.

NB: The fourth point may not be such a great idea....just humming it would please Our Lady, though.


There will be a Low Mass on 15th August at 11.30am at St Edmund of Canterbury and the English Martyrs, Old Hall Green, Nr Ware.

Monday 12 August 2013

Know your rites!

H/T to Elaine who pointed me in this direction.

We rarely sit back and take stock of the differences between the Tridentine Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo.

It is important that we do lest we forget that, in reality, the two forms of Mass are poles apart.

This film clip gives some but not all of the distinctions, new versus old, crass versus reverent.


King Richard III to be given a Protestant ceremony

Send in the Dominicans!

Yes, one of our great historical Catholic figures (I said great, not necessarily, good) is to be re-interred in a Protestant church with a Protestant ritual. H/T to Deacon Nick and Ttony for this information.

This is the equivalent of burying the Chief Rabbi of England and Wales (after his death, of course) in a Muslim cemetery following a service in the local mosque.


But, the decision has been made, Archbishop Nichols has written* to our beloved Prime Minister who now plays Robin to Obama's Batman.

* Ttony points out that he and not ++ Nichols, wrote the letter as a piece of excellent satire - it will teach me to read posts more slowly.

What to do?

Maybe ++ Nichols might like to consider embarrassing David Cameron by celebrating a Latin Mass on the same day and at the same hour as the re-burial service?

Or, His Grace could send in a battalion of Dominican Friars to seize the remains during the ceremony and remove them to a place of safety (a Catholic place of safety).

Which do you favour?


Sunday 11 August 2013

New Magazine for Catholic Men

And why not?

We have 'Men's Hour' and 'Listen with Father' on the radio, 'It ain't 'alf hot Dad' on the television, so it's only logical that a Catholic 'lads mag' should take to the newstalls.

Do I hear gasps of horror from the Shires?

Are dentures shattering on the floor in Macklin street?

And, what do you think it's title is?

'Fratres?' - no, think again,

'Homo?' - no, don't be silly.

Got it! - it's 'Rex!'

Yes, correct. There really is a mag for the Catholic adult male called 'Rex'.

For the Catholic man about town

But that rhymes know....s*x. The word banned before Vatican II.

Eeek! - Now do you have a tingling sensation down your right arm? Stabbing pains in the chest?
Is it difficult to draw breath?

Take a look at the content (but only if you're over 18 and up to date with your statins)

See it HERE

Saturday 10 August 2013

The miracle on Highway 19

A horrific car crash, twisted metal, trapped victims.

Emergency services, closed road, no one can get in or out.

But a Catholic priest did - and a sense of calm prevailed as he administered the Last Rites.

And then he disappeared.

My thanks to Fr J who provided me with this story

It's sad I know, but some things are just not meant to be

It is crass and demeaning to see a circus elephant riding a bicycle; it would be the height of stupidity for Sylvester Stallone to appear as Mary Poppins, and who would think it normal to go to the opera wearing wellington boots, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt?

Ridiculous. Crazy. Not meant to be.

Totally out of time and place.


Friday 9 August 2013

Oh yes! A new best pub!

Not that I am in any way preoccupied with pubs or alcohol, other than a modest indulgence in the odd good pint or two of bitter and the occasional glass of vin rouge but, yesterday, whilst travelling up the great River Thames from Kingston, I espied a pub with a rather intriguing (not to say wonderful) name: the 'Bishop out of Residence'.

It all looks very wholesome but, sadly, time did not allow for further market research.
It will have to wait for another occasion, maybe a good venue for a Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma blognic?
I just wish we had more Bishops out of residence in England and Wales (pubs, that is. I do hope you did not misconstrue my meaning). (Cough).

Thursday 8 August 2013

Lent versus Ramadan

Ramadan 2013 has ended and Muslims in Finland, particularly must be heaving a sigh of relief.

Feast or Famine? But not both

My Muslim friends are far too polite to directly compare our Lent with their Ramadan but there is always the unspoken criticism that hangs on the air "How can you call Lent a period of fasting when you may still eat three meals a day?"

But Lent and Ramadan are as different as chalk and cheese.

The Catholic Lent is a sustained period of moderate (depending on the attitude and ability of the individual) fasting, a constant source of modest mortification.
Never so severe that our capacity to carry out a surgical operation or drive a bus is placed in jeopardy.

Ramadan, on the other hand, insists on a fast period from dawn to dusk, hard in Britain, even harder in the land of the midnight sun.

A shade easier in the Middle East where dusk occurs in the early evening.

But, at either end of the Muslim fast, there is the unseemly gorging of food and drink (remember, no liquids and no food during daylight hours is the rule). Vast quantities of bulky carbohydrates and protein are eaten in an attempt to see them safely through the day.

And now, as today is the start of the feast of Eid, marking the end of Ramadan, the real feasting begins....not dissimilar to the Christian over indulgence at Christmas.

I have long claimed that Muslims who work in charge of potentially life threatening technology, should be excused duties during Ramadan. The human body was not created to undergo such extremes of feast and famine and it would be interesting to see some statistical evidence such as a rise in A & E admissions during this period.

I still do not understand Ramadan and the Muslims that I have consulted on the matter equally do not seem to be clear as to why they fast.
The most convincing answer has been that it helps the individual understand what it is like to be poor.

 An admirable aim but it would be made better still if they adopted the Lent format which reflects on poverty for 24 hours a day, for 40 days of the year.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

A little flirting with Southwark, a sojourn in Westminster and a touch of the A & Bs

Two of Southwark's finest liturgists and the Diocesan 'humble' car

Today we have left the desert lands of Menevia, boarded our trusty Volkswagon Tardis and taken a journey back in time to visit some of the haunts of our youth (those that are not entombed beneath the M25).

We shall not dally long in Surrey but continue our travels on to the Northern boundaries of the Archdiocese of Westminster where we hope to attend Sunday Mass at Ware (no jokes please, that's too obvious even for me).

And, for the Vigil of the Assumption of Our Lady (aka Mary if you are an a la carte Catholic) we shall be, hopefully, at Welwyn Garden City's church of St Bonaventure.

Sunday 18th will see us boomeranging back to Southwark North (sounds like a Tube Station) where we shall seek a Mass in the Ashford area. And then, on to
A & B.

If Archbishop Vincent Nichols or Archbishop Smith would like a meeting with me to discuss why we now have schools with Muslim Prayer Rooms and specific Masses for the LGBT brigade.....then, I'm sorry but I shall be too busy fishing, relaxing, drinking good strong coffee (and, possibly, some ale) and, maybe, even doing the odd post or two.

Please, Your Graces, contact my PA to arrange an appointment for a future date.

NB: For 'PA' read Mrs Linen, although she will wish to garotte me with her knitting wool for calling her that.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Don Camillo and the beachball (with apologies to Giovanni Guareschi)

Was it you who left the beachball on the altar Peppone?

"As Don Camillo made his way to the sacristy a sudden gust of wind took his biretta from his head and playfully tossed it back towards the door of the confessional.

Inwardly he scolded the sacristan for leaving one of the church windows open but then, upon arriving at the sanctuary, he saw that someone (presumably entering through the open window), had left a beachball on the altar.

“What is this nonsense Lord?” said Don Camillo.

“What do you mean?” said the figure of Christ from the crucifix above the altar.
“It’s only a beachball, Don Camillo, it is not as if it were a bomb or a nasty letter”

“But Lord” said Don Camillo, a beachball has no place on your altar where, in a few minutes time, I will be placing your Body and Blood; the altar is specifically reserve for specific objects, chalices, patens, ciborium, altar cards and so on – even the water and wine cruets are not placed on your altar”

The crucified Christ sighed and said: “Well, you are right, of course, Don Camillo, but can’t we overlook this show of frivolity just this once, I’m sure the person placing it there meant well”.

With this Don Camillo asked his leave of the Lord and went to the sacristy to vest for Mass.

Afterwards (and not even stopping for his customary few minutes thanksgiving at the foot of the cross), he dashed off to the People’s Palace to confront the Mayor whom he suspected of being behind this despicable act.

“Good morning Comrade Mayor” said Don Camillo with heavy irony: “I assume it was one of your henchmen who violated the altar during the night?”

“What are you talking about? Said Mayor Peppone: “Have you been drinking grappa at this early hour?”

Don Camillo picked up a bench of some considerable proportions and advanced on Peppone muttering through gritted teeth: “I’ll teach you to leave a beachball on the altar of the Lord”

Mayor Peppone was perplexed: “A beachball?” he said, “Left on the altar? Sounds more like one of the village lads playing a prank on you. 
Go home Don Camillo and take a few of those blood pressure pills, then you might be able to think a little more clearly”.

When Don Camillo returned to his church he was absolutely astounded to find the window open yet again.

He dashed to the altar and there, to his dismay, was a guitar and a copy of the Paul Inwood Hymnbook.

“Lord” he exclaimed to the crucified Christ: “who is persecuting me in this fashion?”

“No one is persecuting you, Don Camillo” said Christ, “It is me they are after and really, beachballs and guitars are much less offensive than whips and nails..... ......although, I do draw the line at the hymnbook.”  

Monday 5 August 2013

Is this the worst hymn of WYD?

Let's face it, the competition must have been immense what with all those cool and groovy Bishops having a say in the liturgy and hymn selections (to say nothing of the Kyrie Calypso and the Credo Cha Cha Cha).

But, for schmultzy, gut wrenchingly awful hymns this one takes the biscuito!

Remember to have a box of tissues handy (and a bucket).

A tip of the biretta to The Canon's Stall for this (although I think that the Canon rather likes it).

This post is only for priests......

.....and, maybe,  Deacons, Sacristans, Nuns, Brothers, Altar Servers and, even, Bishops.

And the laity may find it informative and interesting also.


Sunday 4 August 2013

I almost own answers to the meme questions

Arguably the most beautiful Catholic Church in England

1. My favourite church?
That would have to be the chapel of Our Lady Queen of English Martyrs at Chideock in Dorset. It is small, romanesque and it carries a rich Catholic history from the Reformation period. Sadly, no Latin Masses are celebrated there but it is a blank canvas for some orthodox group to embrace it on an annual pilgrimage basis.

2. What non doctrinal element of the Faith would I like to see changed?...
.....that's too easy, it would have to be an instruction for the old rite Latin Mass to be celebrated in every church throughout the world on every Sunday. Not much to ask is it?

3. My favourite saint...
....that's a hard one. It would have to be St Thomas More, witty, erudite and sound in the face of his enemies, a saint for all seasons.

4. And the greatest threat facing the church?
My vote goes to Islam. The spread of Islam is taking place at a terrifying rate and, while most Muslims are good people, there is an inherent layer of violent intolerance attached to both the Koran and the Hadith.

5. My most admired priest?
Another difficult one to answer, so many to choose from. But, in the final analysis it would have to be Fr Donald Proudman OP., RIP.
I went on several boat holidays up the Thames with him and a gang of followers. Every night we would moor up at a pub and the younger ones (of which I was then one) would spend a happy evening drinking Brakspear bitter.
In the morning I, being the only one who could serve Mass in the Dominican Rite, would rise with Fr Donald, at some unearthly hour and tramp several miles cross country until we came to Henley or Marlow or Dorchester, where we would seek out the local church and I would be server and sole member of the congregation.
Those were selfish moments, early morning Mass with just the celebrant and me...and the Body and Blood of Christ.

Saturday 3 August 2013

As the beachball of time....

....slowly deflates on the altar of destiny.....

....then, maybe it's time for a meme.

I do not often originate such things but, in the light of all that is taking place it seems a relatively inoffensive pastime.

I am making this a very nationalistic one, it is aimed solely at Welsh bloggers or those who live in Wales and blog (as I do).

So, my choice of guest bloggers is as follows:-

1. Catholic and Welsh

2. Ragazzagallese

3. Last Welsh Martyr

4. Lucas Cambrensis

5. Ecumenical Diablog

And now for the actual questions, please feel free to respond as you will:-

1. What is your favourite church (other than your parish church).

2. What non doctrinal element of the Faith would you like to see changed or updated.

3. Name a particular saint that you have a devotion to and why (not your patron saint).

4. Which of these, in your view, presents the greatest threat to Catholics?

a) Islam  b) Secularism  c) Communism  d) Feminism

5. Who is your most admired priest (deceased)

Please reply (if you so wish) on your own blogs and in your own time, thank you.

Friday 2 August 2013

The deacon, the dog and the parish liturgist

Tony was a little mad and had poor bladder
control, but the PP loved him

Time to lighten up, I can only take so much of the current apprehension and concern.

Yesterday, I travelled from West to East, to Kent, in fact.

And back again the same day.

18 plus hours stuck on various trains in appalling levels of heat and humidity.

With plenty of time on my hands I tried to think of some subjects for future posts but, all the while,  this old story kept running through my mind.

I've polished it up a bit and given it a good dusting and I still laugh at it after all these years, and I'm allowed to laugh because it's not my joke.

Here it is:-

A young Deacon was reversing his car up the Presbytery driveway when his foot slipped off the brake and on to the accelerator (gas).

The car shot backwards and, in so doing, ran over the beloved pet of the Parish Priest, his faithful dog, Tony.

The Deacon leapt from the car and was appalled at what he had done, the shredded remains of poor Tony lay at his feet.

"What am I to do?" he wailed, falling on his knees and holding his head in both hands.

"My PP will be devastated at the loss of his dog and I am guilty of this crime"

As he wailed and moaned he noticed something glinting in the shrubbery.

He went over to look and picked up a very old brass urn. As he was giving it a rub with his sleeve, a great cloud of smoke belched out from the urn and there, in the midst of it was a Genie.

"Oh your most Reverend Mr Holiness" the Genie said; "I am here to grant you one wish, just say the word and anything that you want in the whole world will be yours."

"Well" said the Deacon thinking rapidly, "I would really like you to put this poor dog back together again and bring him to life so that the PP will not be upset at his loss and give me a good spiritual kicking"

"Certainly your reverenceness" said the Genie, "Let me take a look at the poor beast"

"Oh dearie me" said the Genie. "What an awful mess this dog is, I'm afraid that it is beyond even my considerable powers to breathe life into this poor mutt - do you have another request that I could attend to instead?"

The Deacon sighed at having good fortune snatched away from him and then thought of a second wish.

"There is something" he said. "It concerns our Parish Liturgist. Do you think that you could make her less of a feminist dragon and more of a reverent and good soul please?"

The Genie thought for a split second and then said: "Let's take another look at that dog shall we?"