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Showing posts from January, 2007

Green birettas

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Fr Ray Blake has a most environmentally friendly post concerning the wearing of birettas. A priest friend has turned down the heating in his presbytery in order to reduce his carbon footprint. He has consequently taken to wearing a cassock and biretta to offset the effects of the lower ambient temperature.

Fr Ray speculates on the possibility of our Justice and Peace groups encouraging priests to wear birettas in order to enhance their green credentials. Perhaps I should raise this at the Deanery Meeting next Tuesday?

Holy Father's donation to Cambridge chaplaincy

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If I wanted to be really churlish and follow the current English fashion for "equality", I could have headed this "Pope Discriminates against Oxford" :-)

What a very interesting gesture! Clearly the Holy Father is taking a keen interest in England.The Pope has made an unprecedented personal donation of £2,000 to the Roman Catholic chaplaincy at the University of Cambridge to help it and the faith survive at one of Britain’s main centres of academic excellence.Pope Benedict XVI, who was a university teacher for many years, intended the donation to signal his “encouragement and support”.The two priests and the Dominican nun who work at the chaplaincy were stunned by the donation, which they believe is the first of its kind to come direct from the Pope. The Fisher House chaplaincy is appealing for £2 million to set up a foundation to ensure its survival. The Catholic academic community in Cambridge is dependent on the chaplaincy for its community life, and about 450 pe…

Honouring Our Lady

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The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen was founded in 1936 and was a chapel of ease, served by Welling parish. In 1945, it became a parish in its own right. Our beautiful resin statue of Our Lady of the Rosary was provided for the Church by Fr Adolph Koch, the first parish priest of Blackfen on the occasion of the silver jubilee of his ordination to the sacred priesthood. It is now housed in a side chapel that I erected, using the marble from a neighbouring parish that was no longer required after the re-ordering of their sanctuary. I have the good fortune to have a stonemason in the parish who carried out the work.

Maria, one of my parishioners, is an expert seamstress and has made several very fine altar cloths. Some time ago, I suggested to her that it would be a good thing if we could decorate the statue for feast days. Today, I was able to view the magnificent result of her efforts, just in time for the Day with Mary on Saturday. The picture below shows the statue flanke…

Scots Catholics and SORs

This week's Scotland on Sunday carries an article titled: Church: we'll make gay rights martyrs. The report tells of a "spokesman" for the Catholic Church in Scotland who has said that they will not close down the Catholic adoption agencies as a result of the Sexual Orientation Regulations...Instead, they will deliberately break the law in order to bring a case to court. The Church believes it could then challenge a guilty verdict through Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which upholds the freedom of religious expression.However, the article reports that Scottish legislation allows for the "sign-posting" compromise (cf. A Deal on SORs?) and they are hoping that the same will apply when the SORs come into force (they will apply in Scotland too.)

This "sign-posting" deal is a compromise in more ways than one. It is now compromising a possible fight-back.

FSSP in Urbe blog

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The Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP) in Rome have started a new blog to keep their friends and benefactors abreast of liturgical happenings in Rome. This is great news! It is good to see that the restoration of the facade of the Church has now been completed.

If you want to find out more about the FSSP, here is a link to the main FSSP site. And here is a link to the FSSP Rome site.

UPDATE: I should also have spotted that there is a site for FSSP UK.

"KGB plotted to discredit Pius XII"

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There is a most interesting article in National Review Online by Ion Mihai Pacepa, (Wikipedia article) the "highest ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the Soviet bloc." Entitled Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican, he tells the story of how the KGB set out to discredit Pope Pius XII and were behind the play The Deputy.

Amy Wellborn's post Is this for real? has a discussion in the combox. One point is worth mentioning - have you seen anything about this in the news? No, I didn't think so.

Compassion and sensitivity

A commenter "Just a confused Catholic" asked about Archbishop Vincent Nichols' admission on Newsnight that Catholic agencies were happy to place children with single gay people, but not couples. He suggested that this undermined any argument about gay adoption and lost credibility for the church's position

As I understand it, some agencies say that from their experience, some older children who have had long experience of dysfunctional families do better in long-term care of a single person. (I am not qualified to comment on whether this is the case or not.)

In such a situation, it might be that a Catholic agency would place a child or teenager with someone whom they knew (through confidential assessment procedures, perhaps) to have some homosexual temptations but who accepted the teaching of the Church and lived chastely.

However, I cannot see how it would be possible for a Catholic agency to place a child with someone who defined themseves publicly as "gay",…

Where we are headed

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Tablet attacks Rome. Pope Catholic. Bears etc.

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In the midst of perhaps the most significant crisis in relations between the Catholic Church and the British Government in the past 100 years, the Tablet has, true to form, attacked the teaching of the Church on the central issue.

Its leader "Need for Compromise" refers to the document regarding homosexual civil unions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 and signed by Cardinal Ratzinger as "ill-judged" and speaks of "the intemperate language of Rome."

Part of the argument runs as follows:
The Catholic Catechism says that Scripture describes homosexual acts as "grave depravity". This is far removed from the temper of the times, and probably no longer even reflects what a majority of practising Catholics believe about homosexuals. Many of them have gay friends and gay relatives; Catholic mothers have gay sons. Some of the most devout are gay themselves.I am trying hard to imagine what it would be like to belong to a Churc…

Catholic Dilemmas

This week, I have become a columnist for the Catholic Herald. It is a short piece under the Leader called "Catholic Dilemmas." (People ask questions and I try to answer them.) The first one is about relics and what to do with them.

The Editor, Luke Coppen has given me a very kind notice in the Editor's Blog.

Belated Australia Day Greetings

I am sorry that I missed sending out a greeting to the southern blogosphere for yesterday which was Australia Day. I hope you all had a good time.

On YouTube I found the annual broadcast from Sam Kekovich of the Australian Lamb marketing board. As ever, he uses the opportunity to fire a broadside against tofu and other forms of un-Australianism.

This year, he launches the Australia Day Party, suggesting that tax cuts be taken off the table and lamb cuts be put on it instead. His answer to global warming is to use uranium as a green alternative for powering the barbie. He concludes:I have a dream: - that lamb can unite Australians of all colours and creeds - even sandal-wearing hairy-legged lentil-eaters.

Married couples' tax allowance petition

Michael Wonham has set up a petition at the 10 Downing Street e-petitions site. It reads:We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reinstate the Married Couples Tax Allowance.Further information:It's agreed by many that one of the causes of 'problems' in our youth community is the difficulties that parents have on surviving on one income - forcing both parents to gain paid employment, leading to childcare difficulties. By reinstating the married couples of allowance, the couple can benefit from both tax allowances, even though only one is getting paid, increasing the possibility that mothers (or fathers) may be able to engage in more part-time work suitable for balancing income and childcare.

There are 275 signatures at the time of posting. Do add your name if you are eligible (you must be a British Citizen or resident to sign the petition.)
Sign the petition here.

Hymn to St John Fisher

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Above the entrance to the John Fisher School Chapel, there is a new statue of the patron. He carries in his hand the Cardinal's hat which he never received. Pope Paul III thought that Henry VIII would not dare to execute a Cardinal. The King's reaction to the news is well known:"Yea, is he yet so lusty? Let the Pope send him a hat when he will, but I shall provide that whensoever it cometh, he shall wear it on his shoulders, for head he shall have none to set it on."St John Fisher is the only Cardinal Martyr.

Dan Cooper gave me a copy of the school hymn which was composed by the founder, Canon Byrne. I don't have a copy of the music but will try to get hold of it.Sharing Christ’s Priesthood, high honour, dread burden,
Steadfast amid all its manifold cares,
Friend of the poor, of the aged, the dying,
Saint of the Priesthood, give ear to our prayers,
And pray for us now.

Patron of learning, enriching, ennobling,
The home of the scholar, inspirer of youth;
Through th…

John Fisher Faith Group

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I realised today that it is thirty years since I left the John Fisher School at 18. The school was founded by Canon Byrne in 1929, before the canonisation of Sts John Fisher and Thomas More. It has always retained its original name, without the "Saint."

I was there today to speak to the school's Faith Society. This is where the Faith Movement began. The Society was founded by Fr Roger Nesbitt who was then a teacher at the school, with guidance from Fr Edward Holloway. It still meets in what used to be Fr Nesbitt's study - I think it was Andrew Nash who coined the nicknamed "The Nesbitry." The room is in a house called "Takapuna." In the 70s, it was the home of several priests who taught at the school.

Inside, it is not at all as tidy as it was when Fr Nesbitt lived there - generations of boys have taken their toll on the paintwork and furnishings. However, the spirit of the place is clear enough from the walls:

I was invited by Dan Cooper ("Sir …

Fr Michael Crowdy RIP

This from Fr Rupert McHardy of the London Oratory:Fr Michael Crowdy was for many years a priest of the London Oratory & in some ways, juridically at least, stayed one all his life. He he kept in touch with a number of the fathers and remained devoted to St Philip. He died on 8 December 2006 aged 92 after many years of devoted work to further the cause of Tradition in this country.

The Provost of the Oratory, Fr Ignatius Harrison will offer a Requiem Mass (Missa Cantata) for the repose of his soul on Friday February 16 at 7pm. The Mass will be in the Little Oratory and served by the Brothers. This is particularly appropriate as Fr Crowdy was for a number of years Fr Prefect of the Brothers.

Cardinal's forthcoming interviews

This today from the Catholic Communications Network:The Cardinal has been interviewed for the Sunday Times News Review section this Sunday.

He will also be interviewed for the Sunday Programme and then on a.m. Sunday (Andrew Marr show) at 9.05am.

In these interviews, he is talking more widely about Church and State; individual rights v the common good; legislation and freedom of conscience.

Congrats Matt, Wendy & Madeleine

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Via Lacrimarum Valle:

Madeleine Jane Doyle was born at 2341hrs on Thursday, January 25th 2007 weighing in at 6lb 15oz!!!
Go over to Matt's blog for photos and details. Here's one of the proud father!

(Thank you for your wonderful response to the Spiritual Bouquet.)

How to greet a Bishop

An American student asked me how he should greet the Bishop when he visits.

Most Bishops nowadays are happy to be greeted as "Bishop "John" (or whatever his name is.) A more formal greeting which is still quite acceptable is "My Lord." For an Archbishop, this would be "Your Grace".

Many Bishops are a little embarrassed at you kissing their ring. However, they shouldn't be. This gesture is not meant to be some kind of fawning sycophancy. It is a recognition of his office as successor to the Apostles. Having said that, it is probably better not to kiss his ring if it makes him feel uncomfortable - unless you particularly want to make a point.

Occasionally, people from Catholic countries kiss my hand when they greet me after Mass. I don't try to stop them. It is not me they are respecting but the sacred priesthood. I'm not worthy of it and their reverence is a reminder to me of the need to try to live up to the grace of the priesthood.

My favou…

News values

Hilary reports a most interesting media "non-event" in her post A Hypothetical Prize Fight. She sums it up thus:
Let me be clear: a famous leftist politician and a famous conservative expert debate on a subject that is interesting because people are getting killed over it around the world, in one of the most important cities in the western world; all the media is present and after it is over, there is no coverage.It was Ken Livingstone and Daniel Pipes, debating "A World Civilisation or Clash of Civilisations?" Since there is no coverage elsewhere, let me help you out (courtesy of Hilary) just in case you want to supplement the rich diet of balanced and impartial information that is supplied by our mainstream media.

Adloyada: Daniel Pipes survives Livingstone's Lions' Den

Sharon Chadha: Clash of Civilisations?

David Pryce-Jones: Debating Clash

Oliver Kamm: Livingstone's Follies

Harry's Place: A very civilised clash

And someone who has a distaste for the po…

Yet another BBC anti-Catholic slander

Not having a TV (as you probably realise by now) I learned of this one via Bashing Secularism. Apparently, in the programme "Waking the Dead", a member of Opus Dei shoots dead a man and a woman while they are having sex.

The portrayal of Opus Dei is obviously derived from the Da Vinci Code. The Work have sent in a complaint that the programme contravenes the BBC’s Religion Editorial Guidelines which say the cooperation “will ensure the religious views and beliefs of an individual, a religion or religious denomination are not misrepresented, abused or discriminated against, as judged against generally accepted standards.”

Youth Vigil

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Just cleared up after the Youth Vigil. After exposing the Blessed Sacrament, I went into the Confessional while the young people led the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and an impressive collection of various Catholic Prayers.

After Benediction, we watched The Scarlet and the Black starring Gregory Peck as Mgr O'Flaherty, running a network to assist Jews and allied servicemen on the run. It is very enjoyable and suitable for the whole family. The film is quite closely based on the true story of Mgr O'Flaherty's life. (The picture shows the real O'Flaherty.)

I was glad that I tried to over-estimate the amount of Pizza & extras needed from Domino's. Quite phenomenal amounts got consumed!

Amazon is currently selling the film on DVD for £3.97. (It is in stock. For some reason, it comes via "Amazon Jersey.")

Questions about Humanae Vitae

In the combox of the post "Family exasperated at Tablet & condoms, Seamus asked the following: I always thought the Church taught that THE purpose of sexual intercourse was procreation? If one practices NFP the intention is not to reproduce, but to express one's love for one's partner. Is the problem of contraception not that it 'reduces' (big inverted commas here for emphasis) sexual intercourse to pleasure, or is it that it prevents the creation of human life?And another thing. What does one do about communion when one's partner who is not a Catholic uses contraception. Does this condemn the Catholic partner to never being able to take holy communion?I will try to answer the two questions in turn.

1. The Church teaches that the two ends of the marriage act are the procreation of children and the unity of the couple, and that neither of these should be deliberately frustrated. With the use of artificial contraception, both the act itself and the intention …

'snow rest for the wicked

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This is the sight that greeted me outside my window this morning:

Our outside statue of Our Lady of the Rosary became Our Lady of the Snows:

All very beautiful, of course but I am afraid snow is not really good news for me. Here is the front of the Church at first light:

We have a number of elderly people who walk to morning Mass so it is quite important that a few paths should be cleared. I think once again "I must go and get one of those broom-type snow-plough thingies as soon as the shops are re-stocked." I will probably forget again this year. Never mind - it didn't take too long with a broom; and a bit of manual work is surely a good thing now and again.

Then there is the salt and grit to put down. I took a crowbar to break up the compacted material and I found that the container had been used as a convenient rubbish bin: beer bottles, coke cans, confetti packets etc. (Memo to self: Get some rubbish bins for outside.) My Deacon arrived at this point and kindly got rid o…

Fr Charles Briggs - non blogging priest

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The new non-blogging priestly guest of English Catholic blogs is Fr Charles Briggs, pictured above at one of our regular Sunday lunch meetings at the Chislehurst Golf Club of which he is an honorary member. He is given this honour on account of the Club House being the former home of Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie, and his being the parish priest of St Mary's, Chislehurst. In the background, you can see a painting of the Empress and the young Prince Imperial.

Below, he is pictured outside his not unpleasant Chislehurst presbytery.

Fr Briggs regularly writes for Living Liturgy in the Modern World magazine, expounding the thesis "Latin is a Barrier to Participation." He has a fine collection of hand-thrown pottery chalices, and Javan batik stoles in primary colours. He is a 9 on the enneagram.

Oh all right, then - Fr Briggs is a Church Historian, expert on Mgr Talbot, Jansenism, and Blessed Pius IX, and regularly celebrates the Classical Roman Rite. His living room feat…

Chislehurst graves and tombs

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As I had my camera with me when I visited St Mary's, Chislehurst on Sunday, Fr Briggs made sure that I got photographs of some of the more significant monuments at his Church. First, there was the grave of Charles West, the Founder of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children:

Nearby is the grave of Claude Sophie O'Shea who was born on 15 February 1882 and died on 21 April 1882. The inscription says "In memory of our lost darling [...] erected by her Mother and Father" Her father was Charles Stewart Parnell, described by Gladstone as the most remarkable person he had ever met. Parnell was an Irish MP for the Home Rule League. He organised the Irish Parliamentary Party, making it highly efficient. In the process, he invented the party whip system, enabling the party to work as a bloc in Parliament and hold the balance of power.

His Parliamentary career began to fall apart when he was cited as co-respondent in the divorce proceedings that Captain William O'Shea s…

Pray for Matt, Wendy and Madeleine

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Matt Doyle (Lacrimarum Valle) and his wife Wendy are expecting their first baby (already named Madeleine) - like anytime now! Wendy has to go into hospital tomorrow for labour to be induced if it doesn't start properly tonight.

OK - an experiment. The combox for this post is a Spiritual Bouquet. Post a short comment to say what prayers you are going to say for them - like 1 Rosary, 1 holy Communion (i.e. offered for them), 10 Hail Mary's ... you get the picture. You can be anonymous if you like.

UPDATE: Thank you for your wonderful response to this request for prayers. Madeleine has now been born.

(Combox now closed - but that doesn't stop you adding prayers!)

A "deal" on SORs?

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A student yesterday drew my attention to an article in the Daily Telegraph: Falconer refuses to exempt Catholics from new gay laws. Lord Falconer refuses to acknowledge the obvious conflict of "rights" that is at the heart of the widespread Christian opposition to these regulations. His approach seems to be deliberately confrontational and, if pursued, will place good and upright members of society on the wrong side of the law. All quite predictable so far.

However, I have just realised that there is a "deal" being brokered. The Telegraph reports: "Downing Street has proposed a possible compromise under which Catholic agencies could refuse to accept gay couples but would have a duty to refer them to agencies that would accept them."Yesterday, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor sent a letter to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Here is the text of the letter. The Cardinal says that the Church is opposed to any unjust discrimination, summarises the releva…

Sex-ed study in the BMJ

There is an editorial article by Trevor Stammers in the current issue of the British Medical Journal entitled "Sexual Health in Adolescents". This link gives you the first 150 words of the article. (A reader kindly sent me the whole article.)
UPDATE: Joee has the whole article on his blog.

Stammers comments on a research report (available free online), published in the same issue by Henderson et al., looking at the impact of a sex-ed programme on "registered conceptions and terminations." The study found that the sex-ed had no measurable impact on these outcomes. Stammers comments: Henderson and colleagues stress the need for more comprehensive approaches that incorporate the influence of parents on sexual experience in teenagers, and to improve the future life opportunities for vulnerable young people. The false assumption that “young teens will have sex anyway” is an insult to many young people who have the capacity to rise to a far more effective challenge than ju…

1549 BCP on Holy Communion

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I am very grateful to an Australian correspondent who sent me this quotation from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer; the first edition to be produced by Cranmer. Concerning the distribution of Holy Communion, it says: And although it bee redde in aunciente writers, that the people many yeares past received at the priestes handes the Sacrament of the body of Christ in theyr owne handes, and no commaundement of Christ to the contrary: Yet forasmuche as they many tymes conveyghed the same secretelye awaye, kept it with them, and diversly abused it to supersticion and wickednes: lest any suche thynge hereafter should be attempted, and that an uniformitie might be used, throughoute the whole Realme: it is thought convenient the people commonly receive the Sacrament of Christes body, in their mouthes, at the Priestes hande.The history of the Book of Common Prayer illustrates in a fascinating way the changes of doctrine that took place in the Church of England from the reign of Henry VIII to th…

St Mary's Chislehurst

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Yesterday, in between duties, I called over to Chislehurst for lunch with Fr Charles Briggs. He is parish priest of St Mary's:

Usually in England, a Church looking like this would be an Anglican Church. This one is an early (1852) foundation of the diocese of Southwark after the restoration of the hierarchy in 1850. Here is a view from the north:



Fr Charles Briggs is set to become the new priestly non-blogging guest of English Catholic blogs. He has alread appeared on Forest Murmurs. Expect some more sightings here soon!

Old Mass responses in mp3

I have two boys in my parish learning to serve the Classical Roman Rite of Mass. I was thinking that I should get round to using my little memo recorder to make an mp3 file for them to listen to the responses on their ipod or whatever.

Thankfully, the Latin Mass Society in Ireland has already done the jog. On their page Text of the Mass - Audio Download, you can download parts of the Mass or the whole lot.

Biretta tip to the ever excellent New Liturgical Movement.

Excellent "Ditch the TV" rant

Fr Julian Green has posted an excellent rant entitled "Be Radical: Ditch the Telly"

Your home will be destroyed and your cows taken away if you don't abort

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After my post about the Pope's forthcoming letter to Chinese Catholics, a reader sent me an email with a link to the Laogai Research Foundation. The site itself is worth a browse but the particular page that I was alerted to was a disturbing display of photographs of slogans painted on walls in China, supporting the "One Child Policy." The photos show some of the more horrific slogans, e.g. - Better blood flowing like a river than one extra birth.
- Abort whether early or late, abort using any method!
- Your home will be destroyed and your cows taken away if you don't abort.There is a list of others such as: - One sterilization honors the whole family! (Shandong Province)
- One excess birth, whole village sterilized! (Chuxiong, Yunnan Province)
- Sterilization dodgers wanted! (Sichuan Province)The site gives information about the word "Laogai":
The Laogai was created by the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong, yet it still serves the one-party dictatorship …

Priestly work

I have not been able to post yesterday and most of today because of saying the three Sunday Masses, going to Chislehurst for lunch with my good friend Fr Briggs (more later), marking a couple of essays from my students, driving round to Wonersh, lecturing on the Sacrament of Penance, checking over the marking of several essays with Fr Dingley, attending the beginning of the Board of Studies meeting, seeing a student for Spiritual Direction, finishing an article for the Catholic Herald, and visiting my sister to celebrate her son Joe's eleventh birthday.

This week, I have to conduct the funeral of a baby who was stillborn (please pray for the parents), start off the Confirmation classes, give a talk at the John Fisher School Faith Group and lead a wonderful initiative of one of the sixth formers in my parish who asked spontaneously if we could have a Youth Vigil with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions. Naturally, I agreed to this wholeheartedly. I offered to lay on a…

Papal letter to be sent to Chinese Catholics

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Thanks to Amy Wellborn for posting on this very interesting prospect: the Holy Father will send a letter to the Catholics in China. This will be the most wonderful news for the Chinese Church. Our Lady of China. Pray for us.

Yesterday and today, at the Apostolic Palace, there was a meeting of various Bishops and others concerned with the situation of the Church in China. The Vatican press office communique included the following (my translation):
In the light of the troubled history of the Church in China and of the principal events of recent years, the more serious and urgent ecclesial problems were examined, problems which await adequate solutions in relation to fundamental principles of the divine constitution of the church and of religious freedom. Note was taken of the shining witness, offered by Bishops, priests and faithful who, without giving in to compromises, have maintained their fidelity to the See of Peter, sometimes at the price of grave suffering. It was further establish…

Spiritual Reading - a great find!

Browsing in the CTS bookshop the other day, I found "The Spiritual Combat" by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli published by the most excellent TAN books.

In this edition (a reprint of the 1945 edition), the preface is by Fr B F Marcetteau, SS, the spiritual director of the theological college of the Catholic University of America. He tells us that the authorship of the book is in fact disputed; there were several 17th century editions published under the name of John of Castanzia, a Spanish Benedictine. Some Jesuits claimed that it was written by one of their own, Achilles Gagliardi. However, "most critics" now consider the book to have been written by Scupoli who was a Theatine.

This is significant since the Jesuits were modelled to some degree on the Theatines who came to regard the Jesuits as a rival group. One of their co-founders was Giovanni Pietro Carafa. When Carafa became Pope Paul IV, St Ignatius was distraught and went to spend his famous 15 minutes before the Blessed …

Cicero and Genghis Khan

For light reading, I enjoy historical novels. I found Robert Harris's Pompeii a good read, so his latest title Imperium caught my eye in Waterstones a week or two ago. When I read the blurb and found that it told the story of Cicero's rise to become Consul, I could not resist it. The narrative is put in the mouth of Tiro, Cicero's amanuensis. I recommend it if you like this sort of thing.

One I have just started is Conn Iggulden's Wolf of the Plains. Apparently this is the first in what is to be a series of books about Temujin, better known as Genghis Khan. My detractors might want to suggest that I would find the protagonist a bit left-wing for my tastes - in return I upbraid them for their lack of due cultural relativism. (I was amused to discover that in addition to his historical novels, Iggulden is the co-author of the best-selling "Dangerous Book for Boys.")

One niggle about Imperium: as with most best-selling hardbacks, the pages are glued rather than se…

BBC experiments on children

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I just found this story on the blog Against All Heresies (which is a good read, by the way.)

Mary has picked up on the news of a reality-TV show which the BBC recently broadcast, in which five "couples" aged between 16 and 19 were filmed attempting to look after children who were loaned to them for a few days.

Here is the BBC3 information about the programme. They tell us: Britain's teenagers are breeding like rabbits - can they be convinced to wait? We tool up five teenage couples for the toughest job of all - parenting.

Our series is packed with tears and tantrums as the teens get to grips with the reality of being 'grown-ups'. How will they cope with childcare and, more importantly, each other? Will they take to parenthood and adult life like a duck to water or run home to mum? Find out, when you meet the 'parents' in this unique social experiment.The Daily Mail reports on the story in an article titled Fury as TV teenagers play house with REAL babies. Th…

Cambridge Faith Forum

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This term's series examines

What Catholics believe about...

Death
Fr David Standen, 22nd January

The Eucharist
Fr Stephen Dingley, 5th February

Confession
Fr Scott Deeley, 19th February

Mary
Fr Roger Nesbitt, 5th March

All talks begin at 8pm and take place in the Buckingham Room, Magdalene College.

For more information, contact Fiorella at fiorella@cantab.net

Above are the College Arms. The College website informs us that the motto means "Keep your faith", not as it is sometimes misconstrued, "Watch your Liver."

The College was re-founded in 1542 by Lord Audley who had presided over the trials of St John Fisher and St Thomas More and obtained the property as part of the dissolution of the monasteries. (More information) It is rather good to think of the Faith talks taking place there now.

Enforcement ministers

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A thought-provoking post from Tim, the Lapped Catholic the other day speculated on the question of lay ministry. He was taking up the suggestion of Fr Erich Richtsteig that we should reintroduce the ministry of Beadle:... a minor official in medieval and some Protestant churches. His badge of office was a good, long stick used to smack people misbehaving in church. Not only could he take care of the clappers, but also unrepentant cellphone users.This reminds me of a story from my elder sister's parish one Christmas Midnight Mass. Some local Jack-the-Lad had a bit too much lemonade and thought he would come along and disrupt the Catholic Mass. He encountered two of my nephews in the porch:

Austin (medical student) who was then in full training as a boxer. (He had to give it up when the consultant told him he couldn't do ward rounds with a black eye.)

Declan - a short, unassuming, mild-mannered sort of chap who happened to be in the British National Judo Squad, gave it up to study…

Photos of Pluscarden

There are some great pictures of Pluscarden over at Joee Blogs.

Jesse's prayers

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This week,
Oi 'aave been mostly prayin' fer
Christian Unity.



If you are not familiar with the Fast Show, here is a sample of "Jesse's Diets":

"If she were a dog ..."

The media today is full of one of those sad stories that are used to confuse everyone, muddy the waters and promote euthanasia.

Here is the BBC version: Vegetative State Drug Review Call

And here is an example from the print media (Daily Telegraph) 'Lazarus' husband demands drug inquiry

The basic story: "Jessica" (not her real name) was a PVS patient. Her family, in the words of the Telegraph, "asked for her feeding to be withdrawn so that she could be allowed to die." The Official Solicitor obtained a High Court order that she should be treated with the anti-insomnia drug Zolpiden which has, in some cases, led to PVS patients recoving some consciousness. It didn't work. The family are angry and demanding an enquiry.

It would be morally acceptable for the family to refuse the drug on behalf of an incapacitated relative if it was agreed that the drug was an "extraordinary means" - as it may well be if the drug is still unproven. (Medics feel free t…

Visit to Good Counsel Network

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After my parish Mass today and a few bits of paperwork, I took the Jubilee Line from North Greenwich (I have found a new place to park near there) to Baker Street and then a short hop on to the "Women's Centre" of the Good Counsel Network." They invite me in to say Mass from time to time and it is always great to swap pro-life news with Clare and Stuart and the others there.

The GCN advertises in the same places as Abortion providers and Pregnancy Testing Services. Their work involves giving accurate information about abortion and offering practical alternatives. They have saved very many babies.

They told me a good story today. After the Panorama programme about condoms and AIDS, attacking the Catholic Church in general and Cardinal Trujillo in particular, the GCN sent a letter to all the Bishops of England and Wales, accompanied with a picture of 300 babies that they had helped to survive. All of these were conceived in cases where the man had used a condom.

I also h…

Family exasperated at Tablet & condoms

The other day, Daphne McLeod forwarded me a letter a couple recently wrote to the Cardinal. I am happy to publish it here (with permission) because I believe that it reflects the concerns of many parents - especially those who have "more children than is usual in England and Wales today."

Dear Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor,

We are a Catholic married couple who feel concerned that in recent weeks the letters page of the Tablet has been running a campaign in favour of artificial contraception following a letter from Terry Prendagast of Marriage Care. Examples include:

Contraception and Marriage
Elizabeth Price (2 Dec 2006)

Laity's Instinct for Doctrinal Truth
Brendan Farrow (9 Dec 2006)

Laity's Instinct for Truth
Fr Sean Fagan (16/23 Dec 2006)

Where the Truth Leads
Shane Reese (6/1/07)

Instincts for Truth
Kevin Deane (13/1/07)

The authors are from an organisation called Catholics for a Changing Church but the titles are provided by the editor of the Tablet who is clearly suggesting …

Going to another parish

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Fr Edward McNamara made an interesting point yesterday in his regular column for Zenit. The question was about Attending Sunday Mass at Other Parishes. Apparently, the new code (can 1247 & 1248) does not specify that people should attend Mass in their own parishes as the old code did.

Father goes on to make as much of a case as possible for going to one's own parish (it emphasises communion, promotes the growth of the Church, enables one to support one's pastors...) but he admits that there may be circumstances where defective practice and doctrine meant that a person could have no alternative. He says,If the objective defects constitute a danger to the Christian's faith, or to that of his or her children, or cause serious spiritual turbulence, then the person would be more than justified in worshipping somewhere else.Personally, I would not be as cautious as Fr Edward. If people are going to Mass, that is fine. Sometimes the objection is made that this will make us lik…

Distractions and sacrifice

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A very common worry among people who try to pray regularly and live a devout life is that of being distracted at prayer.

Tanquerey gives some wise advice. He says that We must [...] strive seriously to repel promptly the distractions that present themselves to our mind;He also says: We must, likewise reduce the number of such distractions by a vigorous fight against their causes: habitual dissipation of mind, the habit of day-dreaming, the preoccupations and attachments that absorb the mind and the heart."It is important to bear these things in mind first because such faults are easy to fall into and very common. Channel-hopping through useless things on television, or surfing idly and without purpose on the internet are examples of what he means by "dissipation." However, once we have seriously tried to take the steps that he recommends, he says, [...] there is no cause for worry concerning such involuntary distractions as run through our minds or disturb our imaginatio…

St Thomas Aquinas Study Weekend

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Just received notice of this by email.

St Thomas Aquinas Study Weekend
January 26 -28 2007
at St.Dominic’s Convent,
Station Rd, Stone, Staffordshire ST15 8EN

GOODNESS – IT’S GOD !
An opportunity for study and discussion concerning God, goodness and evil, with Fr Peter Hunter OP, Sr Valery Walker OP, and Sr Ann Catherine Swailes OP

Email: Sr Valery Walker

Arrivals Friday from 6.30 pm

by rail to Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent or Stone
by coach to Stafford (railway station)
buses run from outside the stations to Stone


Departures from Sunday 1 pm (after lunch)

ICEL example

The other day, I posted a parody, poking fun at the old-style ICEL way of translating. Fr Sean Finnegan has posted Translations: an analysis of the real life example we had last Sunday.

Pro-Life call to African-Americans

Priests for Life has published an article about the pro-life witness of Alveda King. Quote:"It’s amazing how the African-American community can know what’s right" and not speak out, King said. "Abortion is socially and spiritually irresponsible. A baby has the same civil rights we all do. African-Americans should be more sensitive to the plight of a person."Who is Alveda King to be speaking like this to African-Americans? She is the niece of Martin Luther King.

H/T to Ma Beck at the Ward Wide Web.

ePilgrimage Newsletter for WYD08

The website for World Youth Day 2008 has published its January 2007 newsletter. It begins with an excellent introduction from Bishop Anthony Fisher and is devoted to Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

The Evil Attack Squirrel of Death

Funny story passed on by Drell's Descants. True? Who knows? It's a good story anyway :-)

From the same source:



Moral: Don't be caught out preaching in a Protestant Church at the second coming!

On the threshold of heaven

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Today was the day for my fortnightly visit to Parkminster. One of the community gave me a couple of photos from the entirely unusual (once a year) Party at Parkminster. (I did check with him that it was OK to put them on the Internet.) The quality is reduced because they are scans of the prints that he gave me. He offered to give me better quality ones but I did not want to trouble him.

(L-R) A Carthusian, Fr Finigan, A Carthusian, A Carthusian
(Photo credit: A Carthusian)

(L-R) A Carthusian, Fr Finigan, A Carthusian
(Photo credit: A Carthusian)
Now we are back to normal with the class on Sacramental Theology after which I stay for Vespers. In the Choir, I am given a place next to the Prior: I have discovered that this is a great honour. I can now usually set up the books with the markers in the correct places and arranged according to the custom of the Order. Increasingly I thirst for this 45 minute sojourn on the threshold of heaven. It struck me today how much I have come love their aus…

Confession Lite

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The Curt Jester discusses an important question today in his post Pick a sin, any sin. The title is a good parody of "Confession Lite" where a priest invites the congregation at a Communal Penance service to go to an individual priest but says that people only need to confess one sin.

The website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops gave a good short answer to this one. The text reads:[Question] When the Reconciliation of Several Penitents is celebrated, is it allowable for each penitent to confess just one sin?

[Answer] No. In recent years the practice has grown in which, in consideration of a large number of penitents, each penitent is asked to approach a priest and confess only one sin. Such a practice does not allow for an integral confession as required by the Rite of Penance. In order for a valid confession to take place, a full and integral confession must be provided for in every instance. Canon 988 §1 refers to the obligation to confess all serious sins in “kind a…

Tour of the Apostolic Palace

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How do you get to take a photo of St Peter's Square from this angle?

Only if you get to go on a tour of parts of the Apostolic Palace that ordinary tourguides cannot reach. Have a look at the series of illustrated posts by Fr Nicholas Schofield on Roman Miscellany.

Stem cells from amniotic fluid - a question

A short while ago, Mac wrote a post New Source of Stem Cells? raising some doubts over the widely welcomed prospect of obtaining stem cells from amniotic fluid without harming either mother or baby. She said:Hmmn. If it's true, then that sounds very encouraging. But I worry that the fluid will be obtained from the amniotic sacs around aborted foetuses, and because everyone's heard that "it's alright, it's not foetal tissue" then distinctions wil be blurred and people won't differentiate. And abortions will be carried out as a way of harvesting the amniotic fluid...You might also be interested in the article Foetal Tissue Transplantation which she wrote for Faith Magazine in July 1996.

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