Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Mad World from the Abbessial Wheelchair


Another part of Fr X's conversation concerned a woman who we both knew ages ago, who is now a nun somewhere in France. The old Mother Abbess who is ninety plus and whose sight is a bit limited had to go to the local clinic for some tests, so Sister had to wheel Mother down to the clinic. On her way Mother said her beads, when they came out of the clinic and were almost home she said, "Let's go for a spin down to the square, I haven't been there for 6o years". Apart from medical necessities none of the nun's ever go out.
When they got back Mother said, "Thank God, back to sanity and reality. I am surprise we don't get more women wanting to come here. Everyone seems quite mad, did you see those men talking to themselves, talking quite loudly into their hands? Quite mad!"
Mobile phones of course.

Wear a biretta is Green

Live Simply Campaign
I was discussing this with a fellow priest, different diocese, his bishop has been quite enthusiastic about it, and yes it is a good thing. My contribution so far is that I have promised to pray daily with Fr John for an end to abortion legislation.
Well, this fellow priest, let us call him Fr X (signifying anonymous not Xavier) has decided to decrease his carbon footprint, so he has decided to turn the heating in his presbytery down. It is a drafty pile. Eventually he got round to the confession part of the conversation and told me he has started wearing a biretta and cassock in the house.
I like the idea of diocesan justice and peace groups encouraging the clergy with slogans like “wear a biretta, its Green”, I suppose veils should be encouraged for sisters. Fr X pointed out that cassocks and some form of “house hat” are from a time when people lived in unheated or at least underheated houses. When I was a child before double-glazing, we never had heating upstairs. The cost of heating, both the finacial but also the ecological cost is very significant in our Victorian buildings. There was a time a of course when bishops wore at least five layers of clothing on the sanctuary just to keep warm, and made elderly priests canons so they could wear fur for the same reason. I wonder whether Fr X will persuade his own bishop to both dress up and keep warm himself, and to transform Fr X to Canon X to enable him to keep warmer and encourage his ecologically minded dress habits.

Todays Audience


Saints also disagreed among themselves and holiness does not imply not making mistakes, but rather is one’s capacity to convert and repent, to start all over, as the lives of some of Saint Paul’s collaborators show, i.e. people who devoted their lives to spreading the Gospel.


Read more (AsiaNews)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gay Adoption: my concerns

I don't particularly want to discuss the sinfulness of homosexual genital activity, it is pretty obvious if you have a Catholic understanding of the nature of marriage as something open to the procreation and upbringing of children, that such relationships are at the least problematic and are indeed disordered, and sterile by their intrinsic nature.


My concerns are:


  1. The denial of parents right to discriminate against or in favour of any group for the sake of their children. Catholic adoption agencies do not pick up children off the streets but from people who want their children brought up in the Catholic faith. Nowadays the birth parents of a child are expected to continue there involvement with the child as far as is possible.

  2. This seems to place homosexual civil unions on the same level as marriage, it seems to be part of an agenda to force an acceptance of same sex relationships, increasingly we find the state agencies including the police are used to enforce this agenda.

  3. I do not feel it fair for a child who often has enough painful baggage because of the break up of his/her birth family which has led to being placed for adoption should also have to deal with his/her adoptive parents' sexuality as well.

A Carthusian Video


I know nothing about this French monastic community, they are obviously following a Carthusian way of life, but they appear to be mixed monks and nuns, there also seems to be a heavy Orthodox influence. Some of the architecture is also interesting, a ciborium (canopy) over the altar in the manner of some of the ancient Roman churches. I would be grateful if someone who can give me more information. Enjoy the solemn Salve Regina, I think it is a Carthusian variant.

This is the UTube tag. "Monastic Community of Bethlehem, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary,and St Bruno."living the hidden life of Desert fathers and mothers...2 distinct Communities of Catholic Monks and Nuns, belonging to the same Monastic Family. Founded 1950, worldwide based in France
This presentation more of a focus on the Brothers."

I found this on Orthofully Catholic a blog written by anonymous seminarians somewhere in England. I have added them to our "Interesting Blogs" section. They are well worth checking out.

Serbia in IIlinois


MOST HOLY MOTHER of GOD SERBIAN ORTHODOX MONASTERY in Grayslake, Illinois.
From one of the most beautiful sites on the blogosphere called the Lion and the Cardinal.
They have been running a series on the work of Abbot of Suger which is quite fascinating, no pictures of course.
Have a look and then ponder what this monastic Church and what which Suger created says about worship and prayer and the dignity of man's place in the mystery of Salvation.

Such decoration isn't really about teaching but rather indicates that we, and the liturgy thye Church celebrates are part of the mysteries that are illustrated, and all is part of God revealing Himself.
You know the Bible 100%!
 

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Todays Angelus


The Holy Father releasing a dove today during the Angelus.
Peace between faith and reason, in Lebanon and Gaza, says Pope
Once more Benedict XVI calls for a dialogue between faith and reason to avoid today’s cultural “schizophrenia” and conflict with non Western cultures. He sees St Thomas Aquinas as bridge between western and Arab thought. He makes a special appeal for an end to violence in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. He releases two white doves, symbol of peace, with Azione Cattolica youth, telling them: “You are the true messengers of peace.” He mentions World Day of Leprosy.

Pope gives £2000 to Cambridge Chaplaincy


I thought this story was of interest because it shows the Holy Fathers special interest in the Church in England. There are rumours of his intervention in the appointment of bishops. On one occassion, a certain bishop was all set to move to an archdiocese only to be dissappointed, when the then Prefect of the CDF vetoed his appointment. It is said that he intends to take a personal interest in the appointment of our English bishops. Members of the Curia certainly seem to show a keener interest in what is happen here than they did in the past.

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From The Times:
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 people attend Mass on Sundays.The chaplaincy, in the centre of Cambridge in a former public house, has two choirs who sing in English and Latin and averages eight conversions a year. There have been ten vocations to the priesthood coming out of Fisher House.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Church cleaners

One reason to encourage small children at Mass




















Is this exploitation or work experience?

In Britain, the Church must always submit


It seems one of the favorite British sports, equally appreciated in England and in Scotland: to force Catholics to submit to the almighty State. Yet, how could an objective assessment of the events surrounding the current "Gay Adoption" Church-State confrontation be any different from this?
Oddly, had the Catholic position been more hardline, it might have stood more of a chance. But once Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Birmingham, admitted on Tuesday’s Newsnight that his agencies were happy to place children with single gay people, but not couples, his argument fell apart. Surely two parents are better than one? If single homosexuals are acceptable, why not a couple committed to each other? The widespread view was that he couldn’t have it both ways: either homosexuality was wrong or it wasn’t. Equally, Catholic agencies are prepared to place children with cohabiting heterosexual couples, even though the Church disapproves of sex before marriage. As one Cabinet minister put it: “If there was a religious principle at stake here, they sold the pass several years ago.” (source)
As always in its difficult history in the "Sceptered Isle", the Catholic Church, whose local prelates now rightfully demand a clear exemption from this iniquitous law, would now be in a much better position if its hierarchy had consistently stood for clear, Traditional, Catholic principles.

There is a good article by a gay man in the Telegraph

Catholic adoption agencies 'will not co-operate' over new equality laws


SCOTTISH CATHOLIC adoption agencies will defy new anti-discrimination laws, the Church warned last night, as the row over allowing gay couples to adopt threatened to divide religion and politics.
The argument was sparked by new equality laws being brought in by Westminster which would make it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of sexuality. This would include a Catholic adoption agency turning down a gay couple for adoption and has led to outcry among religious groups.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pro Church MPs


A survey of more than half the 40 Catholics in the Government, who represent predominately working class constituencies, showed that the majority supported an opt-out to allow Catholic adoption agencies to turn away gay couples.The Prime Minister was also warned by a senior Catholic bishop to expect a backlash by some of Britain's four million Catholic voters if he refused to grant the opt-out from new gay rights laws, while an opinion poll found the country was evenly divided on the issue.Peter Kilfoyle, the MP for Liverpool Walton, predicted that the threat by bishops to shut their agencies would cause lasting political damage to the Labour Party."This is just yet one more reason not to vote for us," Mr Kilfoyle, a former minister, said."My constituents are not the most enlightened people. They would be viewed by the London liberal tendency that is pushing this agenda as reactionary

"But they are decent people, with decent values, and they do not understand why the Government is doing this. They will react with disgust if any of the agencies do close. We will pay a heavy price and lose votes all over the country."Joe Benton, the MP for neighbouring Bootle, said: "I have strong reservations over this. Nothing has persuaded me that it is right. There should be an exemption for the Church. We are getting ourselves into a terrible mess."Another former minister said: "I am sure a deal will be done behind the scenes that will accommodate both sides. We badly need one."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pope At St Paul's Outside the Walls





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Pope Benedict celebrated vespers at St Paul's Outside the Walls and is shown the recently revealed tomb of St Paul.

Henry we are proud of you


Story 1:
Henry Law a parishioner of St Mary Magdalen Brighton demonstrates total immersion baptism for those who will be baptised this Easter!
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Story 2:
Henry Law a parishioner of St Mary Magdalen Brighton demonstrates his year round delight in swimming on Brighton beach!
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Story 3:
Henry Law a parishioner of St Mary Magdalen Brighton demonstrates Catholics don't flinch when undergoing penance!
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Story 4:
Henry Law a parishioner of St Mary Magdalen Brighton demonstrates you have to be tough to be Catholic nowadays.
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You choose which story is true or add your own.
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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lacrimarum Valle's baby is coming


Matt Doyle and his wife Wendy are expecting a baby in the next few hours, I have actually never met them, but Matt is a young medical student and faithful Catholic and loving husband and a soon to be dad. Now, I don't ring up expectant parents every few hours just to see ... but I have been logging on to Lacrimarum Valle (Vale of Tears) regularly just to check on the baby and Wendy. I really do feel a strange affection, an e-affection, for them and indeed for the baby, who incidently they are going to call Madeleine after our mighty patroness, I am not sure if it is directly or indirectly, they have already arranged her baptism. I have added Matt's blog to the sidebar. I do feel like an e-Godfather, isn't it strange?

So let us invoke the Magdalen's intercession

Most Blessed Mary Magdalen, so acquainted with the vale of tears before your meeting with the Risen Christ, protect Madeleine named in your honour, intercede for her during her birth into this world and into the life of grace in baptism. Bring joy to her parents Matt and Wendy and to all her family. Watch over her as she grows up and comes to know her Redeemer and her Lord. Pray for her that she will always have trust in the Triumphant Resurrection and be with her when after many years of joy in this life she enters into the blessedness of Heaven with all the saints rejoicing at the Throne of the Lamb.

Interview with The Argus



I have just had a very nice young guy from The Argus on the phone for the last half hour asking me about the blog, in part provoked by the story I put on about a day I had a few weeks ago. Eventually we ended up by talking about gay adoption and the relationship of the Church and the "gay community". I tried to get over the notion that children who were given to Church run adoption agencies precisely because it was Catholic and the parent(s) chose the agency because they wanted the Catholic faith and Catholic values for the child. I said I thought it was the best interests of the child that should always be important.

There is a popular notion that there is a antipathy from the Church towards anyone who is homosexual, I did my best to point out that this is not so, that we try to see people as people, who are struggling to be Christlike and that everyone struggles with their sexuality. I did point out that Bosey is buried in the cemetery at Crawley's Catholic Church, I did not mention that Wilde spent his declining years moving to the Catholic Church and was eventually received into the Church but I did point out that people struggle with their sexuality like the characters in Brideshead, which I suppose is the great 20th century novel about people coming to understand their sexuality. I did say that we have problems with people defining themselves by their sexuality rather their humanity.

Errm, I always do my best to avoid the media, I was asked to do a thing on the radio recently which I laughed off and previously I was asked to do the Papal Funeral/Election, partly because I always think that other people might do better, when I get nervous I struggle with names and things, and in part because I think I might end up by getting myself into a public row, or get shouted someone else down or encountering a Paxman figure. Maybe I am just cowardly.

The Great (Papal) Escape



A rather nice story from Rocco Palmo

Way back when, a friend told me that, as he came to grips with the Vatican fishbowl in the early days of his pontificate, John Paul the Great would slip out of the walls in a Panama hat, trousers and open-necked shirt, discreetly trailed by plainclothes security.

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Pope John Paul II made more than 100 clandestine trips to ski or hike in the Italian mountains and was rarely recognized by others on the slopes, his former secretary said....


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In the winter of 1981, the pope, his secretary and two of his Polish aides decided to make a "getaway" to the mountains from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.They packed into a car owned by one of the priests, in order not to raise suspicions, and when they passed the Swiss Guard post one prelate opened wide a newspaper to hide the pontiff in the back seat.Then they drove to the central Italian ski town of Ovindoli without an escort, winding through mountain towns and carefully respecting the speed limits.Once they arrived, they chose a deserted slope and the pope was able to ski all day long. On the way back, the pope smiled and said, "We did it!" It was the first of many such escapes, the papal secretary said....


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One of the first people to recognize the pope was a young cross-country skier, a boy no more than 10 years old, who was lagging behind the rest of his family when he came upon the papal party. He asked them if they had seen his family go by, and one of the priests pointed to the trail.
At that moment, the pope arrived at the bottom of the slope.


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The boy looked astonished, pointed to the pontiff and began yelling, "The pope! The pope!"One of the pope's aides intervened quickly: "What are you saying, silly! You'd better think instead about hurrying up, you're going to lose your group."The boy skied away, and the pope and his friends quickly returned to their car and headed for Rome before the word got out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Comments Lost

I seem to occassionally loose some comments, I click the publish tab and they disappear, anyone had similar experiences?

I only delete those comments that are libelous, uncharitable, completely heterodox or from the BNP, Islamic Front for Mission and Lem, from Miami, who wants to advertise his debt reclaiming business or are otherwise offensive.

If you do not see your comment appear after a few hours re-submit it, I can't resist seeing what people have to say when ever I am in the office.

Comment on Cardinals Letter


There has been a minor outcry against the Cardinals letter to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the adoption of children by homosexual couples, one or two leading MPs have suggested that His Eminence is out of touch with the vast majority of Catholics in this country. I am afraid I think they might be right.
Marriage has not been a high priority for the Church in this country. The feast of the Holy Family, the normal time when Bishops write to their people would have been a time to speak about this issue, having had a quick trawl through their letters, few addressed the issue of what marriage and therefore the family is, few contain more than platitudes.

Marriage is about a man and woman in a permanent union with children, even if it is not possible they should at least want children. The Church is clear that although the family might come in a variety of sizes it only has one shape (husband, wife and children). Until the 20th century marriage was primarily centred on the procreation and upbringing of children. I t was child centred. In the last century we recognised that mutual support and affection were also important but the Christian concept of redeemed man is that he goes beyond himself, on a natural level towards the desiring and procreation of children.
Gay partnerships are not, nor ever can be marriage, though there may be much mutual support, such a union is incapable of procreating children and indeed it is not orientated towards the upbringing of children. I am not sure that most Catholics seem to be aware of this basic understanding of marriage, and certainly during the discussion on Civil Partnerships this was not pushed or much enunciated by the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Many priests feel that much that they would want to do regarding the support of the family is not supported by diocesan structures. How many diocese make real provision for the formation of couples in Natural Family Planning? How many Marriage and Family life, Diocesan Offices see it as an embarrassment? Cardinal Murphy O'Connor when he was Bishop in this diocese on a few occasions asked tentatively whether we ought to refuse to marry couples who were living together before marriage, no policy was ever formulated or instruction ever given, even bvy raising the matter privately, he amongst the bishops was an exception. In most dioceses the question would not even be asked. I don't know but I doubt whether the issue of premarital sex is taken seriously in Catholic Schools. In our diocese we had the scandal of a major girls public school teaching children how to put on a condom, I suspect here the cause was ignorance of the Church's teaching rather than anything else.
But this is the problem, IGNORANCE because those appointed by Christ refuse to teach.

Outed, Orientated and Getting My Fix

Abbe Jacques celebrating the ad orientem in St Mary Magdalen (in the Tridentine Rite)

This appeared on Joee Bloggs' Catholic Londoner in the comments section, I confess, I am the priest concerned, I have been outed!

"Anonymous said...
Recently our parish priest in Brighton has started to say an evening Mass ad Orientem, once a week, it is Novus Ordo, in the vernacular. It brings a new dynamic to the liturgy, we can see his whole body (legs and all), there is no barrier between him and us. Although he elevates the the Body and Blood properly, it is the Ecce Agnus Dei that becomes the focus when he turns finally with the host. There is a real sense that he is offering the Mass on behalf of us, rather than at us. If anything there is a greater sense that he is one of us, it is quite beautiful. The other thing that is beautiful is the silence, there are often less than a dozen people there but I don't think it is the lack of people that makes the difference it is that it is God-centred."


Ad orientem, facing east, is actually a legitimate choice for saying Mass, well actually it is more than that, the Roman Missal actually gives specific directions about the priest turning towards the people at the words "Pray brothers..." and at the "This is the Lamb of God...". The presumption is that he is not facing the people at other times. Cardinal Hume used to say Mass in his private chapel facing east, Pope John-Paul II had his private chapel changed from its Paul VI design so that he could face east, Benedict too faces the traditional direction for Christain prayer.
I must confess that I hope the forthcoming Papal response to the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist will encourage facing East, as does Pope Benedict's book The Spirit of the Liturgy.
Why? Because I think it encourages prayerfullnes. The Taize Community in their directions for conducting prayer services specifically says that everyone should face the same direction so that God is the focus of worship. I remember talking to the Abbot of Caldey years ago, who had had a group of teenagers living with the community for a week or two, sharing in the offices and Mass, he said he was shocked when one of them asked, "Father, when do the monks actually pray?"
I am not a great fan of the Tridentine Rite Low Mass, not now we have microphones but it is pretty obvious that it is prayerful; the orientation of the priest, the fact that not everything is said aloud points to this. I do like not having a barrier between me and the people, standing behind the altar seems to encourage a school teacher mentallity amongs the clergy, them and us, wheere as facing the same direction indicates solidarity with the people in the face of God. To me it seems more than reasonable that when one talks to people one faces them, when one talks to God one faces him, or at least looks at the Crucifix and talks to God through the image of his Son.
My once a week "fix" on a Friday evening is very important to me, it is an extra Mass so if people don't like it they don't need to come to it but for me it helps to re-orientate my celebration of the Mass, previously the only time I got the chance of celebrating this way was when I was in Rome and could get to St Peter's or one of the great basillicas where none of the side altars have been moved. For a priest it is important that he remembers that he is really there to pray for and on behalf of his people, praying is his most important and most useful function.

Cormac: Gay Adoption

In response to news that some government ministers are trying to stop Catholic adoption agencies from opting out of new rulings that allow gay couples to adopt, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has written the following letter to the government.

Dear Prime Minister and Members of the Cabinet,
It has always been the wish of the Catholic Church in this country to work with the Government for the common good of its people. We believe we do this in matters of social care, education and in many other ways. Catholic teaching urges us to do this, and we do it gladly in a spirit of co-operation.
We would, however, have a serious difficulty with the proposed Regulations on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services if they required our Adoption Agencies to consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.
The Catholic Church utterly condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence, harassment or abuse directed against people who are homosexual. Indeed the Church teaches that they must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. We, therefore, recognise many elements of recent legislation ­ including much in the Northern Ireland Regulations ­ that takes steps to ensure that no such discrimination takes place.
What, then, is the problem? It is that to oblige our agencies in law to consider adoption applications from homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents would require them to act against the principles of Catholic teaching. We require our Agencies to recruit and approve appropriate married and single people to meet the needs of children in local authority care for whom adoption has been identified as being in their best interest. We place significant emphasis on marriage, as it is from the personal union of a man and a woman that new life is born and it is within the loving context of such a relationship that a child can be welcomed and nurtured. Marital love involves an essential complementarity of male and female. We recognise that some children, particularly those who have suffered abuse and neglect, may well benefit from placement with a single adoptive parent.
However, Catholic teaching about the foundations of family life, a teaching shared not only by other Christian Churches but also other faiths, means that Catholic adoption agencies would not be able to recruit and consider homosexual couples as potential adoptive parents.
We believe it would be unreasonable, unnecessary and unjust discrimination against Catholics for the Government to insist that if they wish to continue to work with local authorities, Catholic adoption agencies must act against the teaching of the Church and their own consciences by being obliged in law to provide such a service.
Catholic adoption agencies have readily accepted their responsibility to provide an informative, sympathetic and helpful service to all those who enquire about adoption, whether or not they meet the agency's criteria for acceptance for assessment. Catholic adoption agencies welcome adoptive applicants from any or no religious background. Homosexual couples are referred to other agencies where their adoption application may be considered. This 'sign-posting' responsibility is taken very seriously by all Catholic adoption agencies.
This is an appeal for 'fair play', particularly for those many children, Catholic or not, who continue to benefit from the widely recognised, professional and committed adoption services provided through our Catholic adoption agencies. Giving protection to the rights of Catholic adoption agencies to act with integrity will preserve an excellent and highly valued adoption service, representing 32% of the Voluntary Adoption Sector, with an outstanding record of finding stable and loving homes for some of the most disadvantaged children in society ­ including children who have been abused, physically, sexually and emotionally; children with disability and limited life expectancy; and large sibling groups who need a family where they can grow up together. Catholic Adoption agencies continue to excel in their commitment and acknowledged success in securing and sustaining adoptive families for such children whilst maintaining the lowest rates of adoption disruption in the UK.
Our agencies receive fees from Local Authorities directly linked to their adoption work. In addition they are supported generally by the Catholic Church community. Catholics contribute generously both by offering themselves as potential adoptive parents and through the financial contributions they make. They do this because they believe the Catholic
Church should contribute to the common good in this way. It is this voluntary contribution that ensures additional support services of a very high standard being sustained for children and families, often over many years, by the Catholic Voluntary Adoption Sector.
Our agencies have an excellent track record, which is well documented by the Commission for Social Care in their Regulatory Inspection Programme. It would be an unnecessary tragedy if legislation forced the closure of these adoption services, thereby significantly reducing the potential resources of adoptive families for the approximately 4,000 children currently waiting for adoption placements.
This outcome is wholly avoidable. We urge you to ensure that the regulations shortly to be laid before Parliament enable our agencies to continue their work with local authorities for the common good. There is nothing to lose, and children waiting for an adoptive family have much to gain, by our continuing successful collaboration.

* In a statement yesterday, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Rt Rev Vincent Nichols commented: "Catholic adoption agencies do not obstruct adoption by same sex couples. Any such request made to Catholic agencies are referred to other agencies that are able to respond. Granting an exemption to Catholic agencies will not alter the legal rights of same sex couples seeking to adopt children. But this is not a service that Catholic agencies themselves can provide because of beliefs that are well known and widely shared.
"To refuse to grant exemptions to Catholic agencies will drive out of adoption work agencies that provide an excellent service. Catholic agencies enjoy an outstanding record of stable and lasting placements particularly of children with special needs."
Archbishop Nichols added: "Those who will suffer will be the 4,000 children presently awaiting adoption."
COMMENT: Archbishop Nichols sounds a bit weasily to me, if something is wrong for children, for the family, for society, then referring people to other agencies, seems a cop out, or co-operating with evil.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Compromise and Martyrs

Painting commemorating the 120 Chinese Martyrs canonized in the year 2000
The American sites seem to be concerned with Abp Wuerl allowing Holy Communion to be received by Ms Pelosi the new speaker of the House of Representatives, a Catholic, but a consistant voter in favour of pro-Abortion, pro-Gay Rights lobbies. One American ishop asked whether he would forbid pro-abortion politicians replied with, "But these are my friends", nepotism worthy of the Borgias! In this country it most probably would not even be an issue. I suppose for me as a priest I would be unwilling to act without episcopal support. Time and time again we seem to want to co-operate with the status quo rather than take any stand. I cannot help but see parallels with the Wielgus situation in Poland, it was his compromise with the civil authorities that lead to his downfall.
Fr Zuhlsdoprf has an interesting post on the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrences, and finishes it by this account of Fr. Tan Tiande who suffered years of impisonment and torture for the faith.
"My crime was my conduct: preaching religion accounted as little my sentence. Given that this was the worse crime you could be accused of, I was dragged into a public gathering to be criticized and denounced as guilty. I was the "leading man", the object of criticism by my companions.
The "director" had bound my hands behind my back. The "make-up man" had hung a square sign around my neck which also hung down behind my back. The "director" led me onto the stage and read my crime to the public: frequently preaching religion in prison with no sign of penitence. The sentence was for life. When the sentence was pronounced, they made me lie down on the ground in front of the thousands of people there watching the show. My legs were extended behind me and they bound them around with chains weighing many kilos. In that moment I felt the roar of the throng before the stage. I don’t recall even a single word of what they were shouting. I only know that I was at peace.
"Still believe in God?", the party functionary sneered with his mouth curled.
"Why not?" I responded.
"Since you believe in God, why doesn’t he come to save you?", he said to toy with me.
"God is free to save me or not. Whatever happens, I believe in him firmly."
"Try a little taste of these chains on your legs", he said. And he left.


The Burmese government has just issued a "Programme to destroy the Christian religion in Burma" , pray for Fr Gregopry and Fr Pius, two Burmese priests from Karen Province who I lived with when they came to study monastiscism in England in the 2000 and returned home.


In a world where so many suffer for the Sacred Faith the example of these holy men demand from us priest, bishops and lay people, a bit more than compromise.

They crave for bread: we give them candyfloss!!!


I remember a conversation with the late Fr Michael Hollings when I was trying to decide whether I should be a monk or a secular priest, we spoke about the great mystics of the Catholic Church and the English Mystics in particular, he asked where in England can someone go to discover and understand their writings. I have always wondered how we could get these incredible books into people's hands. When I had this conversation with Michael, thirty years ago, it wasn't unusual to meet Catholics who were familiar with the writings of St John of the Cross or St Theresa of Avila, and who gradually ascended Mount Carmel with them. It is not just the English Mystics that concern me now, it is that people just do not read or even seem to be aware that we Catholics actually have this great tradition. "People crave for bread and we give them candy floss," used to be the cri de coeur of my predecessor here, Fr David Maskell. Indeed it seems that people look for the "spiritual" not in the Catholic Church but in any looney sect that panders to their vanity. Even in Catholic circles the "prayer of the frog" or the hateful Enneagram seems to have more influence that the "Ladder of Perfection" or the "Cloud of Unknowing".

So what is to be done? I thought we might start a book group. I put a note in the newsletter about this, normally diocesan things, Lent groups, for example go unnoticed people don't want to join in them here but I was surprised by the response to this. So the first book is going to be the Rule of St Benedict, we thought we would start with something short (and not too espensive) at first, and as at the moment I have Br Francis a monk who appeared in the television series "The Monastery" staying with me, he can help run it. The following book I have decided on will be the autobiography of St Theresa of Avila, easily read, may be a bit long, but good alternative to the television for Lent, then maybe something by St Aelred. Eventually we will get round to St Augustine's Confessions, Imitation of Christ, Introduction to the Devout Life, St Theresa of the Child Jesus, The Interior Castle etc etc etc, ther is so much. Has anyone tried doing this? Any advice?

I was very grateful to the manager at the CTS bookshop at Westminster for his help, in finding cheap editions of some of the books we are looking for, and he told me he reads this blog occasionally. They are so helpful nowadays, it is a joy to speak to them and go into the shop.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

BBC on the Jesuits


Just a link to the programme on Radio 4 on the Jesuits, it is quite worth listening to.

Part of it was an interesting discussion on the Jesuits influence on science and the Enlightenment.


Contributors

Nigel Aston, Reader in Early Modern History at the University of Leicester
Simon Ditchfield, Reader in History at the University of York
Dame Olwen Hufton, Emeritus Fellow of Merton College, Oxford
with Lord Bragg


Angelus: Unity


Christians are “heirs to past divisions,” but “Christ can do anything, he ‘makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak’ (Mk 7, 37),” he can instil in Christian the ardent desire to listen to and communicate with one another and speak together with Him the language of mutual love.” It is with this heartfelt emphasis that Benedict XVI referred to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual event that will be celebrated by many Christian denominations from January 18 to the 25.
“It is my intention to comment at length on this biblical subject,” said the Pope, “next January 25, liturgical feast of the Conversion of St Paul, when, on the occasion of the end of the ‘Week of Prayer,’ I shall preside over Vespers celebrations in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, starting at 5.30 pm. I expect you to come in great numbers to that liturgical meeting since unity can be especially achieved through prayer, and the more prayer is unanimous, the more it is appreciated by God.”
The Pontiff said that this year’s theme was prepared by “faithful from Umlazi, South Africa, a very poor city, where AIDS has reached pandemic proportions and where there are very few human hopes. But the Risen Christ is hope for everybody, especially for Christians. Heirs to past divisions, they have tried on this occasion to launch an appeal: Christ can do everything, he “makes the deaf hear and (the) mute speak" (Mk 7, 37),” can instil in Christians the ardent desire to listen to and communicate with one another as well as speak together with Him the language of mutual love.”
Talking about the ecumenical commitment to Christian unity, Benedict XVI stressed that such a commitment is not limited to the experts but is for everyone. “Ecumenism is a deep dialogical experience; it is listening and talking to one another, knowing each better. It is a task that everyone can accomplish, especially in terms of spiritual ecumenism based on prayer and sharing that are now possible between Christians. I hope that the yearning for unity, translated into prayer and fraternal collaboration to alleviate man’s suffering, can spread more and more at the parish level as well as in Church movements and religious institutes.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More on China

The press release from the China summit announced the Holy Father will write to the Christians of China, I would love to see the faces at the Patrotic Church office, it rachets things up a bit. Good move.
See Asia News for more info

Agnes' Eve


Today is St Agnes' Eve, the Pope traditionally blesses two lambs on her feastday whose fleece will be used to make pallia for new Metropolitan Archbishops.
I do feel sorry for those poor trussed lambs.
It used to be the custom on Ester day in many monasteries for a lamb or two to be presented at Lauds for blessing, then immediately taken out, slaughtered and prepared for lunch.

In China, Obedience Isn’t a Virtue Anymore


ROMA, January 19, 2007 – Beginning today, a “sub secreto” meeting is taking place in the Vatican on the subject of the Church in China. Participants include key members of the secretariat of state and of the congregation for the evangelization of peoples, but also personalities from outside the curia: the bishop of Hong Kong, cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun (in the photo, with the pope); cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-shi, of Taiwan; the bishop of Macao, José Lai Hung-seng; and professor Anthony Lam, from the Holy Spirit Study Centre in Hong Kong. At the center of attention is a question evoked by Benedict XVI in the Angelus of December 26, 2006. After recalling the protomartyr Saint Stephen and all those who today “are persecuted and suffering in various ways for their witness and service to the Gospel,” Benedict XVI continued: “I think of those Catholics who maintain their fidelity to the See of Peter without ceding to compromises, sometimes at the price of grave sufferings. The whole Church admires their example and prays that they have the strength to persevere, knowing that their tribulations are the font of victory, even if at that moment they can seem a failure.” The news from China in recent weeks confirms this rift between the Christians who bow to the commands of the communist authorities, and those who resist them; between the official Church created by the regime in opposition to Rome, and the one that is united with the pope and not officially recognized by the state.

Friday, January 19, 2007

When your engine overheats

Car blessing in Russia
h/t Clare
.
.
.
The Catholic
BLESSING OF A VEHICLE (old rite)
Be gracious,
O Lord God,
to our prayers
and bless + this vehicle with Thy right hand.
Send Thy holy angels to accompany it
that they may keep from all evils
those who ride in it;
and as once Thou didst grant faith and grace
through Thy deacon Philip
to the Ethiopian Eunuch riding in his chariot
and reading the word of God,
so now show the way of salvation
to Thy servants that,
always given to good works,
they attain to everlasting joys
after the vicissitudes of the journey
and of this life.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.
.
.
As a non driver I rather like this, especially the reference to the Ethiopian Eunuch, it tends to make the boy racer of a new Testarossa think.

European Divorce Statistics


Cyprus and Ireland have the fewest divorces (almost 13), Italy 15, Poland 25. Off the chart are the Czech Republic with 67 and Belgium with 75 of 100.
from the Cafeteria is Closed

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scotland:free condoms



Scottish church leaders have condemned a local program handing out over 1,000 free condoms per week to children under the age of 16, saying that it makes sex as easy as having a pizza.

A total of 53,638 free condoms were issued to 13 to 15 year olds in Edinburgh as part of a controversial safe sex program in the Lothians, the Scotsman reports.

The confidential C:card service hands out contraception to children as young as 13 at youth clubs and other venues on condition youngsters talk to an adviser about safe sex.

The service was today praised as a crucial way of protecting youngsters from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, amid rising rates of teenage pregnancy and chlamydia in the region.

Meanwhile, Zenit reports that the January issue of the World Youth Day 2008 E-pilgrimage newsletter is focusing on giving a positive message about sex.

On the front page of this month's issue, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher asks, "Is sex just a recreational activity? Is the body just a product to be bought and sold? Do I have to be sexually active in order to be really happy? What is the meaning of this kind of 'body language'?"

"There are many voices in the modern world that overestimate the importance of sex - as if no-one could be happy who had not had sex in the last few hours - or trivialise or underestimate its power - as if it were no more humanly significant than any other bodily function," Bishop Fisher writes.

"But deep down most people know the body, sexuality and fertility are precious and important things which can be used to express some of the noblest things about human relationships, or which can be used instead to hurt and exploit," he adds.

The January issue explores various ways that "this very positive message about human bodily life and love have been expressed in the Catholic tradition - right back to the Song of Songs in the Bible through to Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclical 'God is Love.'"

The eight-page newsletter also includes a prayerful reading of the Song of Songs and a biography of the first married couple to be beatified together.



Wednesday, January 17, 2007

...and a little Palestrina


Now the Second Vatican Council decreed that this and chant are the liturgical norms for music and so when I am Pope Julius III one or two things will be need to be seen to....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Leo XIII on film!

Pope Leo XIII (Gioacchino Pecci 1878-1903)

h/t Idle speculations
This is a site that I haven't seen before, it has lots of intelligent, interesting, arty things on it and a few wackey ones.
I love the sedan chair!

A Latin Lesson

h/t Orthometer and Monty Python, I have been doing more than my allowed 45 minutes blog reading today. This video reminds me of Mr Gibson my Latin master's teaching style.

I did read somewhere that using another language every day delayed the onset of Ahlzeimer's, is that a good reason for more Latin in the liturgy?

Sacred Entertainment: Tallis Scholars

h/t the Jeff Smith

Now isn't it sad that these people have to be entertaining on the the sanctuary rather than singing at worship that is happening on the sanctuary. I have a theory that the Catholic Church has been the main exponent of secularism in the 20th Century and we are reaping what we have sown. I mean that we have turned our backs (often literally) on the great art that has been a necessary adjunct to our worship. The culture of two millenia of Christianity is now simply frivolous decoration that is deprived of meaning which has become at best a museum exhibit or sacred entertainment a has been replaced by the nonsense in the video below, we have replaced the sacred with profane, the beautiful with the banal, the transcendent with the trite. The sacred, the beautiful and the transcendent move the soul of man to God. They are necessary for us to become truly human.

It is almost impossible nowadays to use this type of music in the liturgy without protracting it to such an extent that it becomes an interruption to worship rather than an aid to it.

In so much as you did it to the least of these you did it to me



Of your Charity pray for the repose of the Soul of Ann Roberts who, fortified by the Sacraments of Our Holy Mother the Church, died last night.

Ann, was an incredible woman, her husband died about twenty years ago after being received into the Church, shortly afterwards Ann too was received into the Church, from that time onwards she worked tirelessly for the poor in Brighton. She started our souprun, with the help of others, year after year, summer and winter, rain and gale she fed the hungry. In her quiet and gentle way she helped so many begin their journey form the gutter to normal life. Last year she was named one of the Catholic Woman of the Year.

She needed a new hip, during the last summer she developed a kidney infection and had been in hospital ever since, she died last nigh of a heart attack.

She leaves two adult daughters Amanda and Claudette, and many friends.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Libera Nos, Domine

Now isn't this a good advert for praying for the Motu Proprio? I am not sure if it is a spoof, the Mentos bit I mean, but it is a "real" "Catholic" Mass presided over by Cardinal Mahoney in his Cathedral in Los Angeles. I am a bit shocked that receiving The Body of Christ, at the end is equated with eating a sweet but when the Liturgy is reduced to a cabaret then all becomes trivialised even Holy Communion.

From this nonsense, Good Lord deliver us.

h/t Mulier Fortis

Saturday, January 13, 2007

CAPTION COMPETITION


Pentecost!

Wielgus fallout




Yesterday, Poland's bishops met:
The Roman Catholic Church leadership of Poland called Friday for all of the country’s bishops to be investigated for past ties to the secret police.
“We will ask a special commission to check the past of all our bishops,” the Council of Bishops’ chief, Jozef Michalski, told reporters in Warsaw after the episcopate’s 45 bishops held an emergency meeting to deal with the worst crisis to hit the Polish church in years.
And:
The Vatican is to receive reports on the activities of all Communist-era Roman Catholic bishops in Poland, their spokesman Jozef Kloch said Saturday. He said the decision was taken by Friday's extraordinary meeting of the Permanent Council of the Polish Bishops' Conference to discuss the church's involvement with the Communist-era secret service.
Teresa at Papa Ratzinger reports (post 5692, bottom of page) Her comments in italics:
At least two Italian news reports today are citing statements made yesterday by the secretary-general of the Polish bishops conference that it did inform the Vatican of 'signs of unease' about Mons. Wielgus. Here is how korazym.org reports it: The secretary-general of the Polish bishops conference, Mons. Piotr Libera, said the Holy See knew about Wielgus's situation [presumably, his collaboration], in effect giving the lie to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Cognregation for Bishops, who told the Corriere della Sera on January 6 that "we knew nothing at all about this." Linera said 'the signals of unease' were sent to the Vatican about Wielgus. [I am translating from the Italian 'i segnali d'inquietudine', so I do not know if that was how it was expressed in Polish as well. I truly would welcome a fuller account of his statement from the Polish press, because if he had said this to newsmen, the obvious follow-up question to him would be: "What signals, and why only signals, not a direct statement?" ] He added, however, that the Vatican was able to see the 68-page documentation by the Institute of National Memory about Wielgus's involvement with the secret police only after it had been published in the Polish press.
And, today the Pope, in addition to some Italian and South American bishops, met with:
Em.mo Card. Giovanni Battista Re, Prefetto della Congregazione per i Vescovi
I guess he would...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Mount Athos on the Pope, the Patriarch and the Metropolitan

If it is good Athos is against it", the Superiors of the Monasteries of Athos condemn the visit of the Pope to Istambul and Archbishop Christodoulos to the Vatican. A friend of mine who wanted to visit Athos was told to pretend to be a Methodist rather than a Catholic if wanted a welcome - here you can see why.

"First of all, the Pope was received as though he were a canonical (proper) bishop of Rome. During the service, the Pope wore an omophoron; he was addressed by the Ecumenical Patriarch with the greeting “blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord” as though it were Christ the Lord; he blessed the congregation and he was commemorated as “most holy” and “His Beatitude the Bishop of Rome”. Furthermore, all of the Pope’s officiating clergy wore an omophoron during the Orthodox Divine Liturgy; also, the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer, his liturgical embrace with the Patriarch, were displays of something more than common prayer. And all of this, when the papist institution has not budged at all from its heretical teachings and its policy; on the contrary, the Pope is in fact visibly promoting and trying to reinforce Unia along with the Papist dogmas on primacy and infallibility, and is going even further, with inter-faith common prayers and the pan-religious hegemony of the Pope of Rome that is discerned therein."
If you want more bitterness read the whole thing

Wielgus and what the Pope didn't know


The comment on Wielgus’ resignation read over Vatican Radio on January 7, 2007, by Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office”


“The behavior of archbishop Wielgus in the past years of the communist regime in Poland has gravely compromised his authority, even among the faithful. "For that reason, in spite of his humble and moving request for forgiveness, his resignation from the see of Warsaw and the quick acceptance of this by the Holy Father appeared to be a suitable solution in the face of the disorientation created in that nation.

"This is a moment of great suffering for a Church to which we all owe so much and which we love, which has given us great pastors such as cardinal Wyszynski, and above all Pope John Paul II. The universal Church must feel itself spiritually bound to the Church in Poland, and accompany it with prayer and encouragement so that it may quickly recover its serenity.

“At the same time, it is good to observe that the case of archbishop Wielgus is not the first and probably will not be the last case of an attack against Church personalities on the basis of the documentation of the secret services of the past regime. There is an endless amount of this material, and in seeking to assess its value and draw reliable conclusions from it one must not forget that it was produced by functionaries of an oppressive and extortionist regime.

“These many years after the end of the communist regime, with the disappearance of the great and irreproachable figure of pope John Paul II, the current wave of attacks on the Catholic Church in Poland, more than being a sincere search for transparency and truth, has many aspects of a strange alliance between those who once persecuted the Church there and its other adversaries, and of a vendetta on the part of those who persecuted it in the past and were defeated by the faith and by the Polish people’s desire for freedom.

“Christ said, ‘The truth shall set you free’. The Church is not afraid of the truth, and in order to be faithful to the Lord its members must know how to acknowledge their faults. “We hope that the Church in Poland will be able to live through this difficult period and overcome it with courage and lucidity, so that it may continue to make its precious and extraordinary contribution of faith and evangelical zeal to the Church in Europe and all over the world."

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I met an elderly Polish in the street who started to tell me again about the death of her husband a few years ago in hospital here. "He died," she said, "of starvation." I am sure that the truth is that she did have enough English to understand what was really wrong with him.

I am sure that there is rarely a situation in which the elderly die through starvation or lack of hydration but I hear far too many anecdotal stories in which people think has happened, Fr Finigan mentions a case today.


My own mother died last year, she had suffered from dementia and had a kidney complaint, she also had MRSA. Although she was being hydrated intravenously little was done to ensure that she was fed or give water orally. She could often be difficult about accepting food; she needed a great deal of patience and coaxing which the hospital staff were unable to cope with. My father used to go in and feed her and give her liquids. I think if things were left to the staff she would have received nothing by mouth, they simply do not have the time or the skill to feed the elderly, ultimately I suppose it is not budgeted for.
Nursing has become increasingly specialised, I am not sure that feeding and hydrating the elderly, or even cleaning, are regarded as worthwhile specialisms. My father did it, because he loved her. She accepted food from him even when she no longer recognised him, I think, because over the months he learnt how to coax her, you need staff to know the odd ways of their patients if they are to do that, the health service doesn’t function like that, it treats illnesses not people.


One of things that seems to be lacking in the health service is simply a human heart, but no amount of money or training can deal with that. I find it interesting that Filipino parishioners who work in the NHS in this country seem to find that the most horrifying thing about Britain.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pope says Christians should embrace persecution as source of blessing

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) --

The Christian community and its members always will face persecution and suffering, but they should embrace it as a source of blessing, Pope Benedict XVI said.Speaking at his Jan. 10 general audience about the ministry and death of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, the pope said the persecution of the early Christian community is what pushed the disciples to leave Jerusalem and bring the Gospel to the world."Even in our lives the cross, which is never lacking, becomes a blessing," the pope said.And by accepting suffering in the knowledge that it will lead to growth and blessings, "we learn the joy of Christianity even in moments of difficulty," Pope Benedict said.St. Stephen, he said, "teaches us to love the cross because the cross is the path Christ always uses to arrive in our midst."The pope also spoke about the ministry of St. Stephen, who was elected by the Christian community and confirmed by the apostles as one of "seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom," charged with distributing charity.The fact that St. Stephen and the other six also preached the Gospel, he said, is a reminder that "charity and proclamation always go together."The pope touched briefly on the fact that before having them begin their ministry, the apostles laid hands on the seven, which is why many Christians see them as the church's first deacons.Pope Benedict did not refer directly to theological discussion over the possibility of ordaining women deacons based on New Testament texts describing community leaders laying their hands on the heads of women chosen to carry out specific tasks on behalf of the community.However, he said, the gesture of laying hands on someone's head "can have different meanings. In the Old Testament the gesture mostly has the significance of transmitting an important charge."Sts. Paul and Barnabas were anointed that way before being sent off to evangelize the gentiles, as was St. Timothy, he said.Pope Benedict said that St. Paul's descriptions of the power of the laying on of hands and the need for discernment prior to anointing someone in that way demonstrate an evolution in the meaning of the gesture, which later developed "in the line of a sacramental sign."At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict greeted 30 members of an international soccer team made up of priests. The priests gave him a yellow jersey with his name in Italian, "Benedetto," and his number in Roman numerals, "XVI."

St Nicholas the Wonder-Worker


Yesterday a new member joined the household, or rather returned to the household. I say returned in so far as he was the pre-reformation patron of Brighton.
The icon is 19th Century, the garments are very beautiful painted with shell gold, I suppose originally he would have had a gilt or silver riza. The beauty of his hands, the tenderness of his eyes attracted me to this icon.
The roundels are a reference to St Nicholas' appeareance at the Council of Nicea when legend related he physically assaulted the heresiarch Arius and was "defrocked" and imprisoned for his zeal, during the night Christ appeared and gave him again the book of the Gospels and Our Lady restored to him the orphorion "the episcopal stole or pallium". His chasuble is actually red but overlaid by gold, and the red starred background of heaven behind the Saviour and the Virgin speak of suffering, the green, and also the extensive use of gold, of the funcundity of the saints miraculous ministry and of divine grace. The swirling of fabric over the saint's heart I suspect are meant to indicate his dedication to mystical contemplation, often it is the centre of his beard that swirls pointing to the same mystery, the tri-furrowed brow and cheeks I presume are supposed to indicate his continuous contemplation of the Holy Trinity.

He is the patron saint of Apothecaries, Boys, Brides, Children, Choristers, Court recorders, registrars, Dock workers, Murderers, Orphans, Paupers, Pawnbrokers, Prostitutes, Sailors, Women desirous of marrying, Brighton and practically every other thing besides.
The Russians have a saying, "If anything should happen to God, we will still have St Nicholas". Having given him a home I expect him to work for his place here, I expect a miracle or two on a regular basis or I am a fraid he is off to the sale room (well, maybe not yet, he is part of my pension plan).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Wielgus resigns

Wielgus resigns hours before his installation.
Polish and Vatican officials held talks overnight on the fate of Stanislaw Wielgus, at the centre of communist-era spying row, the reports said.
Sunday's Mass was to take place despite Archbishop Wielgus' admission he collaborated with the secret police.
Poland's president had been expected to attend the event. Now it will honour Cardinal Glemp on his retirement.

Happy Epiphany

Botticelli: Adoration of the Magi

The antiphons for todays office remind us that it is also about the Epiphany at the the Marriage feast of Cana and the Baptism, readings speak about the Epiphany of the Burning Bush.
It is about the "showing forth" of Christ rather than the coming of Magi. St John Chrysostom speaks of 40 Magi bearing gold, incense (frankincense, I presume means French incense) and myrrh. In scripture three gifts are mentioned not the number of gift bearers.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Bonjor, ici Papa"



Pope picks up the phone in defence of the Old Rite
Pope Benedict XVI has spoken by telephone to a number of French bishops to persuade them to accept a wider use of the Tridentine Mass, it has been claimed. The Pontiff brought French bishops who oppose the Tridentine Mass “to a reluctant but decisive change of view”, according to the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter (FSSP), an organisation of Old Rite priests that the Pope strongly supports. It is widely expected that a papal document will soon be released to allow priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass – using the pre-Vatican II 1962 Latin Missal – without the explicit permission of the local bishop, though probably only in the low-key setting of a “private” celebration.

The document, which will be released motu proprio, or on the Pope’s own initiative, has caused concern among bishops in France, where traditionalist groups are particularly active. But efforts by the French episcopate to “torpedo” the initiative have failed, according to Videre Petrum, the FSSP’s British newsletter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Spanish bishops fear rebirth of Islamic kingdom



By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
from the Independant
Spain's bishops are alarmed by ambitious plans to recreate the city of Cordoba - once the heart of the ancient Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe.
Plans include the construction of a half-size replica of Cordoba's eighth century great mosque, according to the head of Cordoba's Muslim Association. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organisations in Morocco and Egypt.Other big mosques are reportedly planned for Medina Azahara near Cordoba, Seville and Granada.
The bishops of those cities are alarmed at the construction of ostentatious mosques, fearing that the church's waning influence may be further eclipsed by resurgent Islam financed from abroad. Up to one million Muslims are estimated to live in Spain. Many are drawn by a romantic nostalgia for the lost paradise of Al-Andalus, the caliphate that ruled Spain for more than five centuries.
Last month, Spanish Muslims reasserted their right to pray in Cordoba's great mosque. The mosque houses within its arches a cathedral built to consolidate Catholic rule after Muslims were expelled from Spain in 1492. Muslims are forbidden to pray in the building.
Mansur Escudero, president of Spain's Islamic Council, has challenged the current head of Spain's Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, to explain why Muslims could not pray in Cordoba's mosque. Mr Escudero said he had been encouraged by the Pope's act of prayer in Istanbul's Blue Mosque on his recent visit to Turkey. "It showed that mosques are open to Christian worshippers," he said. "Could not Muslims pray in Cordoba's mosque?"
Bishop Blazquez replied that public collective praying was prohibited, but he supposed private or individual prayer was acceptable. Mr Escudero then announced that Muslims would henceforth return to Cordoba's mosque to pray "in a respectful, private and individual capacity". The bishops hit back, insisting that "Muslims cannot in any way pray in Cordoba cathedral".
Spain's Muslims have been long respectful towards civil and ecclesiastical authorities, but as numbers have grown they have turned to more radical leaders. An alliance of Spanish converts, pro-Moroccan and pro-Saudi leaders took control of one of Spain's two main Islamic federations last year. Half of the new leaders are imams from Saudi-funded mosques in Madrid and Fuengirola.
Mr Escudero, an ousted moderate who nonetheless remains head of Spain's umbrella Islamic Council, said he did not favour the construction of flamboyant mosques with foreign money. "I prefer more modest, decent buildings that are backed by Spanish local authorities," he said, but added: "Muslims have the right to build mosques big and small wherever they like."
Hundreds of mosques have popped up all over Spain. But churches, and many residents, complain that big, shiny mosques are more than just centres for culture and worship, and say they are funded by undemocratic countries promoting Islamic radicalism.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quality of Life




The parents of a child afflicted with a severe brain impairment have carried out a number of calculated mutilations intended to improve her quality of life by eliminating future inconveniences and possible medical complications. According to the (London) Times, the child's parents instructed doctors "to remove her uterus, appendix and still-forming breasts, then treat her with high doses of oestrogen to stunt her growth."
Because of her small size, the parents say, Ashley will receive more care from people who will be able to carry her: "Ashley will be moved and taken on trips more frequently and will have more exposure to activities and social gatherings ... instead of lying down in her bed staring at TV all day long."By remaining a child, they say, Ashley will have a better chance of avoiding everything from bed sores to pneumonia -- and the removal of her uterus means that she will never have a menstrual cycle or risk developing uterine cancer.
Maybe, maybe not. What I find disturbing, if not surprising, in this story is where the child's parents deal the aces and where the deuces in making their decisions. For example, they seem to take it as given that medical science will not find ways to treat the child's impairment or to ameliorate the hardships anticipated by puberty (we're told that, at present, "she cannot walk, talk, keep her head up in bed or even swallow food"). On the other hand they seem confident that the surgery and hormone therapy will have only positive effects, and astonishingly sanguine about the improved social life the child will experience as a consequence. The child's father offers what he takes to be a religious justification:
"Some question how God might view this treatment," he wrote. "The God we know wants Ashley to have a good quality of life and wants her parents to be diligent about using every resource at their disposal ... to maximise her quality of life."
It's the arbitrariness and -- I suppose -- the finality of the arbitrariness that are unsettling, because the steps are taken in anticipation of hardships and not in response to them. Of course we'd feel sympathy for a child who was neutered in the process of excising a lethal cancer. But surely it makes a difference to a person's spiritual and emotional life to mutilate her with the purpose that she'll never mature sexually -- even if there's no foreseeable possibility of a physiologically or socially normal existence in either case. Somehow parental prerogative has crossed a line into a kind of pet ownership ("we spayed kitty for her own good"). It would be a horrible plight for a parent to be constrained to remove a diseased organ from his child, and we could share the anguish of his decision -- but can we say the same about the choice to remove a healthy organ?

Hell the musical comes to Vatican



BBC reports on a new musical, which is to be premiered in the Vatican, it seems to be an an expression of the Pope's belief that heaven and therefore worship, is conveyed by a particular kind of music and hell by another. I think it could be one of those Benedictine signs in his campaign to rid worship of inappropriate music.




A Vatican composer is to stage an opera based on Dante's Divine Comedy, with visions of heaven, hell and purgatory.
The lavish production is reported to include 200 performers and musicians, six projectors and a huge stage.
The composer, Monsignor Marco Frisina, has said it will contain a variety of musical styles, with hell illustrated with rock, punk and rave.
The Divine Comedy is an epic medieval poem describing the journey through three parts of the afterlife.
Frisina has written a large number of songs and soundtracks, for TV movies as well as religious works.


"It's a non-traditional opera, all kinds of sounds are used," he said.


Reports suggest heaven will be full of classical style melodies, the limbo of purgatory will be illustrated with Gregorian Chant, with hell full of more jarring music.
Frisina said the use of rock music to describe the devil's den was not a value judgment on the genre but that rock's "violent and rebellious tones" help create "a hellish atmosphere".
He confirmed most of the opera's lyrics are taken directly from the poem, a classic considered one of the first works of Italian literature.
The dancing routines were also inspired by Dante's descriptions, and elaborate sets will be enhanced by dozens of images projected on screens, Frisina said.
Organisers plan to start rehearsals in the next few weeks and have asked permission for the premiere to be held at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI.
They added it was hoped it would be possible to tour the production around Europe.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mutiny

from Whispers in the Loggia
...when even the Swissies are having a winter of discontent:
There is mutiny afoot in the Vatican's Swiss Guard, the world's smallest but probably most pampered army.
The focus of discontent at the barracks is what many papal bodyguards see as the heavy-handed policies of the current commanding officer, Colonel Elmar Theodore Mader, who has banned men from holding the traditional year-end parties on the terrace atop their barracks. Even senior officers have been forbidden to give cocktail parties, say Vatican sources.
Ordinary guardsmen are angry that rules preventing them from staying out at night in Rome after midnight are being rigidly applied in the holiday season while Capt Mader himself is frequently out at parties until the early hours of the morning.
One of the halberdiers was angry after discovering that the commanding officer had ordered the confiscation of a crate of wine that admirers of the corps frequently send the soldiers from Switzerland. "We received 25 bottles of good Swiss wine but when we came back from guard duty there were only five left in my room," said the guard. "The other 20 had been seized on orders of the commander, evidently for his own use."
How do you say "brutta figura"... in Romansch?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Jesus was a .....


Found this on Open Book


For years, now, we've been inundated with the latest incarnations of re-inventing Jesus from popular and scholarly sources alike.


At First Things, Anthony Sacramone offers a handy summary:
Jesus was a woman.
Jesus was a space alien and is buried in Japan.
Jesus survived the crucifixion and is buried in Kashmir.
Jesus was a Buddhist.
Jesus was a Muslim.
Jesus was a Mormon.
Jesus was a magician.
Jesus was a Gnostic.
Jesus was the son of Mary and a Roman solider.
Jesus never existed.
Jesus was never executed.
Jesus was married and had children.
Jesus was a social revolutionary when he was not a mere Mediterranean peasant.
Jesus was an itinerant visionary whose real teachings exist only in distorted, fragmented form.
Jesus was insane.
Some of this is clearly absurd, of course, but even that which is not absurd, which undergirds our encounters with Scripture and Tradition, is a widespreaed skepticism about the events of the life of Jesus - something I often heard in the midst of DVC fever, when people who self-identified as Catholic told me over and over again that everything that we "know" about Jesus was written down so long ago by essentially undependable guys (undependable either because they were simply recording "word-of-mouth" information (which must be unreliable) or because they were all about imposing their own concerns on the story), so...you know...whatever.