Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Angelus

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI appealed Sunday for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East, hours after the deadliest attack in nearly three weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.
"In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their arms on all sides," the pope told pilgrims and tourists at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, on the outskirts of Rome.
Pausing slightly, he repeated the word "immediately."
"I appeal to governing leaders and to international institutions not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary cessation of hostilities," the pontiff said.
Much of the international community has been calling for an immediate ceasefire, but Israel and the United States have resisted, saying a settlement should address enduring issues between Lebanon and Israel and disable Hezbollah.
The faithful in the papal palace courtyard chanted "Peace! Peace! Peace!" in Italian, briefly interrupting the pontiff.
Benedict embraced their call. "Peace, yes," he said, before resuming his remarks.
"In this moment I cannot help but think of the situation, ever more grave and more tragic, that the Middle East is going through: hundreds of dead, so many wounded, a huge number of the homeless and refugees, houses, cities and infrastructure destroyed," Benedict said. "These facts demonstrate clearly that you cannot re-establish justice, create a new order and build authentic peace when you resort to instruments of violence."
It was Benedict's strongest appeal since the violence erupted.
Benedict urged all to pray "so that He may give his peace to that region and to the whole world."
Benedict also urged the intensification of humanitarian aid efforts.
Lebanon, which has a sizeable Maronite Catholic community, has asked the Vatican for helping in ending the warfare. The Pope has said he would contribute through appeals for peace, not political involvement.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ordination of Pere Ambroise at Le Barroux

There are some very beautiful pictures of the ordination of Pere Ambroise at the traditional monastery of Le Barroux, in Southern France.
Like most of the monastries the Pope John Paul II had given permission to to use the traditional rite, Le Barroux is thriving, full of young monks.

Thanks to the New Liturgical Movement
Here is Mass at Le Barroux

Super Kool

Pope at the end of his holiday of to Castelgandolfo Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 28, 2006

Father Martin Thompson and some Father Joe Flannagan stories

Father Martin Thompson is staying with me at the moment, I am afraid it means a few late nights, we both suffer from that priestly problem of talking, talking and talking, but it is good to have him here, he's is going off to work in Albania again, I'll try and get him to talk at Masses next weekend about it.
During the Communist era most many priests were tortured and killed, lay people could be imprisoned for simply making the Sign of the Cross, sao much was the Church hated by this atheist regime.

Father Martin was ordained here, during my first year in the seminary, whilst Fr Joe Flannagan was parish priest. Martin's was the last ordination until David and Graham was ordained here my first year here, 2001. Canon Joseph Flannagan was an institiution, everyone in Brighton knew him, and to know him was to love him. For Fr Martin he was a real source of inspiration. Everyone in the parish knows the stories of Fr Joe tramping the streets of Brighton and coming across a traffic warden or someone else and saying something like, "Ah sure you have a terrible miserable Protestant face on you, why don't change it and become a Catholic?" Many, many did.

Father Martin told me a story Fr Joe told in a sermon, "A young man was on the verge of becoming a Catholic, Fr Joe was instructing him. His parents tried to persuade him not to, and said if he gave up the idea they would buy him a motorbike. The temptation was too much, to some young men a bike is better than God, but the first time he took it out he was killed."

A famous Joe story several people have told was about him celebrating a funeral of a daily Mass goer, who had died during Mass or Benediction, it had the great line, "There he was looking at his Lord and God under sacramental form one moment and there he was looking at Him face to face the next.

I'll post some more stories later in the week, but why don't you do so in the comments section, does anyone have a photograph of him? Posted by Picasa

“When doubts and errors are spread...”

I would like to give every member of our parish a copy of this document - oh that our bishops would produce "a pastoral instruction" like this, because we seem to have the same problems.

The Spanish bishops have produced a diagnosis of the problems of their Church. I think it is splendid, rather than blaming "society" or "secularism" and outside forces they look to their teaching and rather than finding the answer in slick management or cosey communitarianism or congregationalism, they look to Christ and the faith. They see the problem, and the solution as being Christological. They reject false ideas about who and what Jesus Christ is and like the Second Vatican Council, and subsequent Popes they call for a return to the scriptures and to the teaching of the ancient Fathers (bishops) of the Church. They repudiate those who spread doubt and error from within the Church and push a heterodox agenda that distorts the Catholic Truth.

It is in the person of Jesus and of His Blessed Mother, and the centrality of the Church in the Mystery of Salvation, that they see as the source of hope for the future.


Daniel Mitsui always has something interest on his website have a look at "public clocks of the late Middle Ages". Most as you can see were built for Churches, there purposes was, I think, not so much to tell the time or regulate the offices, the medieval day varied in length according to the season. The working day lasted for as long as the sun shone. Vespers could be as early as 3pm in winter or after 8pm in summer, and was shortened or lengthened according to the season, as were all the offices. For the working or liturgical day the sun dial would have been more useful.

These are beautiful objects, whose complexity and intricacy are a model of the orderliness of the cosmos, that is ruled over by God.

Mgr R H Benson

The world depicted in Lord of the World is one where creeping secularism and Godless humanism have triumphed over religion and traditional morality. It is a world where philosophical relativism has triumphed over objectivity; a world where, in the name of tolerance, religious doctrine is not tolerated. It is a world where euthanasia is practiced widely and religion hardly practiced at all. The lord of this nightmare world is a benign-looking politician intent on power in the name of "peace," and intent on the destruction of religion in the name of "truth." In such a world, only a small and shrinking Church stands resolutely against the demonic "Lord of the World."

click here to read the whole article

I haven't read "Lord of the World" for years, anyone got a paper copy?

Here is the end, I mean the the literal end, that is of everything:

Yet even at that sound and sight his soul scarcely tightened the languid threads that united it through every fibre of his body with the world of sense. He saw and heard the tumult in the passage, frantic eyes and mouths crying aloud, and, in strange contrast, the pale ecstatic faces of those princes who turned and looked; even within the tranquil presence-chamber of the spirit where two beings, Incarnate God and all but Discarnate Man, were locked in embrace, a certain mental process went on. Yet all was still as apart from him as a lighted stage and its drama from a self-contained spectator. In the material world, now as attenuated as a mirage, events were at hand; but to his soul, balanced now on reality and awake to facts, these things were but a spectacle....

He turned to the altar again, and there, as he had known it would be, in the midst of clear light, all was at peace: the celebrant, seen as through molten glass, adored as He murmured the mystery of the Word-made-Flesh, and once more passing to the centre, sank upon His knees.

Again the priest understood; for thought was no longer the process of a mind, rather it was the glance of a spirit. He knew all now; and, by an inevitable impulse, his throat began to sing aloud words that, as he sang, opened for the first time as flowers telling their secret to the sun.

O Salutaris Hostia

Qui coeli pandis ostium.

They were all singing now; even the Mohammedan catechumen who had burst in a moment ago sang with the rest, his lean head thrust out and his arms tight across his breast; the tiny chapel rang with the forty voices, and the vast world thrilled to hear it....

Still singing, the priest saw the veil laid as by a phantom upon the Pontiff’s shoulders; there was a movement, a surge of figures–shadows only in the midst of substance,

... Uni Trinoque Domino ....

–and the Pope stood erect, Himself a pallor in the heart of light, with spectral folds of silk dripping from His shoulders, His hands swathed in them, and His down-bent head hidden by the silver-rayed monstrance and That which it bore....

... Qui vitam sine termino

Nobis donet in patria ....

... They were moving now, and the world of life swung with them; of so much was he aware. He was out in the passage, among the white, frenzied faces that with bared teeth stared up at that sight, silenced at last by the thunder of Pange Lingua, and the radiance of those who passed out to eternal life.... At the corner he turned for an instant to see the six pale flames move along a dozen yards behind, as spear-heads about a King, and in the midst the silver rays and the White Heart of God.... Then he was out, and the battle lay in array....

That sky on which he had looked an hour ago had passed from darkness charged with light to light overlaid with darkness–from glimmering night to Wrathful Day–and that light was red....

From behind Thabor on the left to Carmel on the far right, above the hills twenty miles away rested an enormous vault of colour; here were no gradations from zenith to horizon; all was the one deep smoulder of crimson as of the glow of iron. It was such a colour as men have seen at sunsets after rain, while the clouds, more translucent each instant, transmit the glory they cannot contain. Here, too, was the sun, pale as the Host, set like a fragile wafer above the Mount of Transfiguration, and there, far down in the west where men had once cried upon Baal in vain, hung the sickle of the white moon. Yet all was no more than stained light that lies broken across carven work of stone....

... In suprema nocte coena,

sang the myriad voices,

Recumbens cum fratribus

Observata lege plena

Cibis in legalibus

Cibum turbae duodenae

Se dat suis manibus ....

He saw, too, poised as motes in light, that ring of strange fish-creatures, white as milk, except where the angry glory turned their backs to flame, white-winged like floating moths, from the tiny shape far to the south to the monster at hand scarcely five hundred yards away; and even as he looked, singing as he looked, he understood that the circle was nearer, and perceived that these as yet knew nothing....

Verbum caro, panem verum

Verbo carnem efficit ....

They were nearer still, until now even at his feet there slid along the ground the shadow of a monstrous bird, pale and undefined, as between the wan sun and himself moved out the vast shape that a moment ago hung above the Hill.... Then again it backed across and waited ...

Et si census deficit

Ad formandum cor sincerum

Sola fides sufficit ....

He had halted and turned, going in the midst of his fellows, hearing, he thought, the thrill of harping and the throb of heavenly drums; and, across the space, moved now the six flames, steady as if cut of steel in that stupendous poise of heaven and earth; and in their centre the silver-rayed glory and the Whiteness of God made Man....

... Then, with a roar, came the thunder again, pealing in circle beyond circle of those tremendous Presences–Thrones and Powers–who, themselves to the world as substance to shadow, are but shadows again beneath the apex and within the ring of Absolute Deity.... The thunder broke loose, shaking the earth that now cringed on the quivering edge of dissolution....





Ah! yes; it was He for whom God waited now–He who far up beneath that trembling shadow of a dome, itself but the piteous core of unimagined splendour, came in His swift chariot, blind to all save that on which He had fixed His eyes so long, unaware that His world corrupted about Him, His shadow moving like a pale cloud across the ghostly plain where Israel had fought and Sennacherib boasted–that plain lighted now with a yet deeper glow, as heaven, kindling to glory beyond glory of yet fiercer spiritual flame, still restrained the power knit at last to the relief of final revelation, and for the last time the voices sang....



... He was coming now, swifter than ever, the heir of temporal ages and the Exile of eternity, the final piteous Prince of rebels, the creature against God, blinder than the sun which paled and the earth that shook; and, as He came, passing even then through the last material stage to the thinness of a spirit-fabric, the floating circle swirled behind Him, tossing like phantom birds in the wake of a phantom ship.... He was coming, and the earth, rent once again in its allegiance, shrank and reeled in the agony of divided homage....

... He was coming–and already the shadow swept off the plain and vanished, and the pale netted wings were rising to the cheek; and the great bell clanged, and the long sweet chord rang out–not more than whispers heard across the pealing storm of everlasting praise....







and once more



Then this world passed, and the glory of it.

The End.

read what precedes it on

Faith Magazine July-August 2006

The Faith Magazine for July-August 2006 is now online. This issue is really outstanding. The editorial is on the impact of infallibility and the future of Catholicism. Fr Linus Clovis has finally got his talk on Slavery and the Gospel of Life onto paper. One of the sisters from St Cecilia's, Ryde has a first-rate article on Guéranger and Mgr Keith Barltrop piece on re-awakening the Catholic imagination is hard-hitting and very much to the point. Lots more - all available for free download.

I stole this post lock, stock and barrell from Fr Tim Finigan's excellent The hermeneutic of continuity website if you look at it you will also see were I got the "bones" of this one, initation is the ...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Which St Sabbas?

A late 19th Century Russian icon, it is most probably from Moscow, the clothing is delicately painted, the whole panel would have been gilded, and in this style it would have been paint over the goldleaf, the painted areas would have been varnished but not the gold, therefore the gold would have become scratched and has been lost in cleaning. The cleaning on this icon has been a bit aggresive, you can see the scalpel marks.

Back row Saints Panteilimon (physician) and Catherine, front row Saints Cosmos and Damian (physicians) flanking St Abbas, above the head of Christ. All the saints are named. Because of the proliferation of physicians I would like to think that it hung in a pre-revolutionary doctor's surgery.

It would be a great help to know which St Sabbas this is. He is certainly not the famous St Abbas who founded the monastery in Palestine, he according to the canons for icon painters should have moderate rounded beard.
So if you are an iconophile or have Russian Orthodox friends, let me know. Posted by Picasa

APPOLOGIA pro blogga sua

What is the Latin for "blog", well anyhow, I am having problems with pictures and layout, bear with me.


This is a really exciting website, it is full of worthwhile little gobbits, below is todays article. I've been rattling on a bit about allegory at daily Mass, so you might find this interesting.

“Allegory is about privileging the language of the Bible”July 27th, 2006
Allegory is the Church’s love affair with the Bible…. Allegory is about privileging the language of the Bible. It assumes that it is better to express things in the language of the Scriptures than in another idiom. As the Church’s great preachers have always known metaphors drawn from elsewhere, no matter how apt, lack the power of the biblical language to enlighten the mind and enflame the heart. Like rhetorical ornaments that momentarily delight the hearer, they are ephemeral and soon forgotten. The words of the bible, however, are emblematic and weighted with experience. Unlike words taken from elsewhere, their meanings cannot be disengaged from the biblical narrative, from God’s revelation in Israel, the sending of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit on the Church. The range of possible meanings is never exhausted.
In spite of its many accomplishments, a strictly historical approach to the Bible is incapable of receiving the Bible as Bible. It can offer various kinds of syntheses, such as a cultural history of the ancient Near East, a chapter in the religious history of the Greco-Roman world, to mention the most obvious, but it cannot give us the book of the Church, the Scriptures that have been read, the psalms that have been prayed, the holy men and women whose lives have been imitated, the teachings that have been expounded. To be sure, the Old Testament is a book that has its origin in the ancient Near East, but the book the Church reads also belongs to another time and to other places….
The unique vocation of the Christian exegetical tradition was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the Bible as the book of the Church centered on the Triune God. This required more than what is considered interpretation today. For the Bible of the early Church was a living voice, not only a document from ancient history. In its pages the fullness of Christian faith and life could be found in bewildering detail and infinite variety—all organized around the center which was the Church. Early Christian exegesis was not simply exegesis, but a distinctively Christian way of thinking. That we should find ourselves drawn to this synthesis does not mean that the exegesis of the early Church or the middle ages can be appropriated without being filtered through our experience and thinking, including our historical consciousness. But it does mean that at the beginning of the 21st century the time has come to take out of the closet and polish a very old word from the Christian lexicon, “allegory,” and to discover anew why it is indispensable for a genuinely Christian interpretation of the Old Testament.
Robert Louis Wilken


click see whole article

By Duncan Stroik:
The more the Church grew into the Eucharistic mystery, the more she understood that she could not consummate the celebration of Communion within the limited time available in the Mass.—Benedict XVI
What is it that makes a Catholic church different from other churches? I remember asking myself this question as a graduate student in architecture school. On a cold and dreary day I visited the Dominican church of St. Mary in New Haven. What is it that would draw people in to make a visit, say a prayer, or even stay for a while in this massive Gothic pile? Huge stairs challenged me to come in. “There is something important up here,” they seemed to say. Upon entry, the architecture was generous, grand, and with a sense of the beautiful. The lofty and colorful vaulted nave and side aisles with their bundled colonnettes and stained glass were complex and offered a glimpse into a shadowy mystery.

At the Summit on the Middle East, Benedict XVI Preaches the Cross of Jesus

What we can do is give the witness of love, the witness of faith; and above all, raise a cry to God: we can pray! We are certain that our Father hears the cry of his children. At the Mass, preparing for holy communion, to receive the Body of Christ who unites us, we pray with the Church: “Deliver us, O Lord, from all evil, and grant us peace in our day.” Let this be our prayer in this moment: “Deliver us from all evil, and give us peace.” Not tomorrow or the next day: give us peace, Lord, today! Amen.
Extract from Chiesa

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pope says being silent about Christianity will not increase peace

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the name of peace, many people are tempted to think it is better not to speak about religion or their specific faith, but that runs the risk of giving free rein to those who abuse religion and the name of God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope made his comments July 23 at the tiny parish in the village of Rhemes-Saint-Georges, near where he was vacationing in the Italian Alps.

The Vatican press office July 25 published a transcript of the pope's unprepared remarks to parishioners during the evening prayer service for peace in the Middle East.

"Today in a multicultural and multireligious world, many are tempted to say, 'It is better for peace in the world among religions and cultures not to talk too much about the specifics of Christianity, that is, of Christ, the church and the sacraments,'" the pope said.

Many people reason to themselves, "Let's be content with the things we have more or less in common," he said.

But that will not increase the chances for peace, the pope said.

"Precisely at this moment -- a moment of great abuse of the name of God -- we need the God who triumphed on the cross, who won not with violence but by his love," Pope Benedict said.

"Precisely at this moment we need the face of Christ to understand the true face of God and, in that way, to bring reconciliation and light to the world," he said.

On July 24 Vatican Radio interviewed Father Paolo Curtaz, pastor of the parishes in the Rhemes and Savarenche valleys, including the parish where the pope celebrated the prayer service.

He said Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope's personal secretary, visited several churches in the valleys July 22, then made a choice of where the pope would go.

"It was a surprise," Father Curtaz said. "Saturday evening Msgr. Georg phoned and said, 'We want to pray with you tomorrow.' And that's what happened."

The little parish, he said, does not even number 200 people, "so it was a parish that never ever would have thought" it could host a papal visit.

He said the parishioners were "euphoric," but in the typical mountain way.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

St Christopher


Fr. John T. Zuhlsdorf

Today is the feast of Saint, er umm… "Mister" Christopher. This beloved figure "lost", as it were, his status as saint when the Holy See made a determination to remove from the universal calendar some certain figures (e.g., "Miss Philomena") whose historicity was questionable. The Church has never said that a person cannot venerate these figures, of course, but they are generally not be celebrated at the altar.

In any event, here is the terse entry in the Martyrologium Romanum:

2. In Lycia, sancti Christophori, martyris.

His story is fascinating he was a giant 18 cubits high, the two medieval portrayals of him I know best, the one at Albury in the old parish church and the one at Toledo Cathedral in Spain show him as a huge giant striding over a door and carrying the Christ child on his shoulder. The door association is presumably a link to his patronage of travelers.

In Byzantine iconography he was often represented as having a dog's head, presumably in order to emphasise his distance from civilised (Christian) mankind, symbolising the baser aspects of humanity.
  Posted by Picasa
Originally he was named, "Offero" or "Reprobus", he swore he would only serve the strongest being there was and settled for the Devil but then hearing the devil was afraid of the cross of Christ he set out to find Christ. A hermit told him to go and carry people at a nearby river and Christ would come to him. Eventually a little child came to him. He found the child the heaviest person he had ever carried, the child revealed he was Jesus and he was so heavy because he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders. Thus Offero became Christo-phorous, Christ-carrier. Christopher. The Lord baptised him and told him to plant his staff on the bank, it immediately became a fruiting tree and many were converted. A local pagan king was so enraged by this, he had him tortured and killed.

Erasmus condemned devotion to St Christopher in "In Praise of Folly", but the truth of the matter is he is one of those "everyman" saints, who though the actual details of his life are lost actually sums up the experience of all Christians and of every Christian life. The iconography of the story are wellworth meditating on, as are so many of the apparently "fanciful" lives of the saints, if we treat them in an allegorical or semi-allegorical way, we will learn, like the men and woment of the middle ages, to trawl a very rich understanding of the spiritual life.

Today is the Feast of St James

Do see the entry in New Catholic Encyclopedia, it touches on Jesus' family tree and sums up the scriptural accounts of James.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Amnesty - Abortion

As part of its review of its attitude towards women's rights amnesty International seem likely to become pro-abortion - oppressing the rights of the unborn. It is shame considering Amnesty was started by a good Catholic. With the help of Bishop Evans (say a prayer for him he is very seriously ill) I started the Woking Group

An open letter by Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, England - a 30-year member of Amnesty - said it would be ``very difficult for Catholics and many others'' to continue supporting Amnesty if the proposal is passed. In Canada, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary called the proposal ``a gross betrayal'' of Amnesty's mission and policies, which including opposition to the death penalty.

Read more,,-5971377,00.html

Clayton wallpaintings

I am always surprised that so many Brighton residents are unaware of the Clayton paintings, which are within hiking distance (10 minutes by car) of our city. If you haven't seen them it is well worth the little effort. The paintings on the side walls are rather difficult to interpret but the style of the painting is solemn and majestic. I discovered them by accident, when as a youth I was staying with friends in the lee of the Jack and Jill windmills and wandered into what I thought was an unpreposessing rural Church, and still when I visit it I am awestruck by the artist's exaltation in the glory of the Church Triumphant that shines through the sparse pallette of ochres 8/9 centuries later.

Anne Marshall, from the Open University has a fasicinating catologue of early wallpaintings.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Books I've mentioned
I've mentioned the Pope's book "The Spirit of the Liturgy" it can be bought from Amazon

Uwe Michael Lang's "Turning Towards the Lord" is available at

POPE: right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country

Benedict XVI recalled that he had called this day of prayer because of “the aggravated situation in the Middle East”. He said: “I offer to God a heartfelt prayer so that the peace aspiration of the overwhelming majority of the population may be realized as soon as possible, thanks to the shared commitment of leaders. I renew my appeal to all charitable organizations to take concrete expressions of common solidarity to these peoples.”
He continued: “I take this opportunity to reaffirm the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, the right of Israelis to live in peace in their state and the right of Palestinians to have a free and sovereign homeland. I am especially close to the defenceless civilian populations unjustly struck in a conflict of which they are but victims: both those in Galilee forced to leave in shelters and the large multitude of Lebanese people who, once again, are seeing their country being destroyed and who must leave everything to search for safety elsewhere.” He added: “I entrust all humanity to divine love, while urging everyone to pray so that the beloved peoples of the Middle East may be capable of leaving the path of armed conflict to build, with the bravery of dialogue, lasting and just peace. Mary, Queen of peace, pray for us!” After the Angelus, he repeated in English: “Let us remember in our prayers those less fortunate, especially those who are suffering at this time as a result of the tragic conflicts in the Middle East.”
The pope also recalled that yesterday “we celebrated the liturgical commemoration of St Mary Magdalen, disciple of the Lord, who occupies a foremost place in the Gospels. St Luke included her among the women who followed Jesus after having been ‘cured of evil spirits and infirmities’, specifying that ‘seven demons had gone out’ of her (Lk 8:2). Mary Magdalen would later be present beneath the Cross, with the Mother of God and other women. She would be the one to discover, on the morning of the first day after Saturday, the empty sepulchre, where she remained in tears until the risen Jesus appeared to her (cfr Jn 20:11). The story of Mary of Màgdala brings us all back to a fundamental truth: the disciple of Christ is a person who, in the experience of human weakness, has the humility to ask him for help, is healed by Him and becomes committed to following Him closely, a witness to the power of His merciful love, stronger than sin and death.”
thanks to

St Charbel Makhluf

Monday is the feast of St Charbel (Sharbel) Makhluf,
ask his prayers for Lebanon

Youssef Antoun Makhlouf was born in 1828, in Bekaa Kafra (North Lebanon). He had a true Christian upbringing, which had given him a passion for prayer. Then he followed his two hermit uncles in the hermitage of the St Antonious Kozhaya monastery and was converted to monastic and hermetical life.
In 1851, he left his family village and headed for the Our Lady of Maifouk monastery to spend his first monastic year, and then he went to the St Maron monastery in Annaya, where he entered the Maronite Order, carrying the name Charbel, a name of one of the Antioch church martyrs of the second century. On November 1st. 1853, he exposed his ceremonial vows in St Maron’s monastery - Annaya. Then he completed his theological studies in the St Kobrianous and Justina monastery in Kfifan, Batroun.
He was ordained a priest in Bkerky, the Maronite Patriarchate, on July 23rd, 1859. He lived 16 years in the St Maron's monastery – Annaya. From there, he entered, on February 15th, 1875, the St Peter & Paul hermitage, which belongs to the monastery. He was a typical saint and hermit, who spent his time praying and worshipping. Rarely had he left the hermitage where he followed the way of the saintly hermits in prayers, life and practice.
St Charbel lived in the hermitage for 23 years. On December 16th, 1898 he was struck with an illness while performing the holy mass. He died on Christmas' eve, December 24th, 1898, and was buried in the St Maron monastery cemetery in Annaya.
Few months later, dazzling lights were seen around the grave. From there, his corpse, which had been secreting sweat and blood, was transferred into a special coffin. Hordes of pilgrims started swarming the place to get his intercession. And through this intercession, God blessed many people with recovery and spiritual graces.
In 1925, his beatification and canonization were proposed for declaration by Pope Pious XI. In 1950, the grave was opened in the presence of an official committee which included doctors who verified the soundness of the body. After the grave had been opened and inspected, the variety of healing incidents amazingly multiplied. A multitude of pilgrims from different religious facets started flocking to the Annaya monastery to get the saint's intercession.
Prodigies reached beyond the Lebanese borders. This unique phenomenon caused a moral revolution, the return to faith and the reviving of the virtues of the soul.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Christina the Astonishing

Often referred to as Blessed or Saint but there is no record of her beatification or canonisation, but she had a a popular cultus and was commemorated on July 24th.
Read more about her

DAY OF PRAYER AND PENANCE for peace in the Middle-East

VATICAN CITY, JUL 20, 2006 (VIS) - Faced with worsening situation in the Middle East, the Holy See Press Office has been directed to communicate the following:
"The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.

Tomorrow Sunday, the Church will be open all day for prayer, for peace.

Friday, July 21, 2006

HER at 1st Compline

Benedict: MUSIC

The Holy Father, everyone knows, wants to correct the errors that were widely taken up after the Second Vatican Council, the silly nonsense that was termed "the Spirit of Vatican II". The rather Protestant understanding that the church had no sacred history, as if the Holy Spirit had not been guiding it "into all Truth" over the last 2,000 years and as if somehow there had been no other Council in all those years.

Central to Benedict xvi's understanding of the vision of the Church is the Sacred Liturgy, the big question is: Is the liturgy about man or is is about God? I put it crudely: Is it about entertaining us or is it about worshipping the Divine? The same question can be asked about the Church, again crudely: Is the Church for us or is it for God? We can extend this question even further to Man himself: Is our purpose to serve ourselves or to serve God?

It is interesting that in the next few months the Holy Father is to issue a response to the Fathers of the Synod on the Eucharist, held last year, in which they, the bishops, asked for a deeper sense of reverence in the Mass. He is also working on reconcilliation of the renegade Lefebvrists who broke away for the Church in the 80s. He has stated that in Papal liturgies there will be greater solemnity. It is interesting that Archbishop Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship has been making increasing demands for liturgical reverence that go beyond mere rubrical or liturgical directives. The first public appearance of his newly appointed No 2, Archbishop Ranjith, was to endorse the Italian version of Uwe Michael Lang's book "Turning Towards the Lord" which was prefaced by Card Ratzinger. In it Fr Lang of the London Oratory argues for the priest to face the same direction as the people at Mass, this is an amplification of the Pope's own book "Spirit of the Liturgy".

Domenico Bartolucci, former Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, in this interview speaks frankly about the nature of music in worship. Remember the Roman Missal still speaks of Gregorian Chant and Polyphany (as in Palestrina) as being normative. It is music after all that creates in the broadest possible sense "the sound of the Liturgy".

Hail O Magdalen; Hail thou Messenger of Joy, of Life, of Hope; Hail Bearer of the True Myrrh, the Balm of Humanity.

SaintMary Magdalen ready for her feast day, Karla putting some finishing touches to her flowers.

She wears Provost Moore's (former parish priest's) jewelled morse.

The new icon reminds us that she is the first witness to the Resurrection and that she brought this wonderous news to the Holy Apostles.

Theology and Body News

First the new translation of John Paul II's Theology of the Body has been released by Pauline Media. For those not keeping track:
John Paul II’s The Theology of the Body remains a masterwork of Catholic teaching — an invaluable guide to understanding the spiritual communion of life, love, marriage, and sexuality. But previous editions of the work were based on individual Italian transcriptions of the 129 catecheses the Pope delivered between 1979 and 1984, resulting in many translation inconsistencies, inadvertent omissions, and intentional edits. While they were theologically true and pedagogically helpful, nevertheless these editions lacked the coherence originally conceived by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.Pauline Books and Media presents The Theology of the Body: A New Translation Based on the John Paul II Archives, a brand new translation based on a previously unknown version of the text discovered in Vatican Archives by acclaimed biblical scholar Michael M. Waldstein, Th.D. Now, for the first time in 22 years, the true beauty of The Theology of the Body can be appreciated.

Pope: Catholics and Orthodox united on Green Issues

In a message to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Benedict XVI stressed that a shared commitment in defence of nature is “an example of the collaboration that Orthodox and Catholics should constantly search for in response to the appeal for a shared witness”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – All Christians, especially Catholics and Orthodox, are called to promote awareness to show “the intrinsic link between development, human needs and the safeguarding of creation”, said Benedict XVI. The pope was writing to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in a message that also drew attention to the ecumenical significance of a shared action in defence of nature.
The message, published today in the Vatican, was written on the occasion of the “Religion, Science and the Environment” project promoted by Bartholomew I, and dedicated to the environment and protecting creation. In the framework of this project, a seminar was held in Brazil from 13 to 20 July entitled “The Rio of the Amazons, Springs of Life”. This was the sixth such meeting and its committee of honour included Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
“The task of stressing suitable catechesis with regard to creation, to call attention back to the religious meaning and significance of safeguarding it, is intimately connected with our duty as pastors and can have an important impact on the perception of the very value of life itself and on the adequate solution of consequent unavoidable social problems,” read the message that was borne by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, papal representative at the meeting.
Benedict XVI then expressed hope that the meeting will serve to draw the attention of governments and people to the problems, needs and urgencies of “a region whose ecological balance has been so tried and threatened: its rivers and its forests, in their beauty and grandeur, speak to us of God and his magnificent works for man. This immense region, where water is an unparalleled source of harmony and richness, is like an open book and the mystery of life is revealed in its pages. How can we not feel called, as individuals as well as communities, to a responsible awareness-raising that translates into coherent decisions to safeguard such an ecologically rich environment?”
The pope continued: “In our shared commitment, I see an example of the collaboration that Orthodox and Catholics should constantly search for in response to the appeal for a shared witness. This presupposes that all Christians cultivate in their inner selves that openness of heart dictated by charity, which has its roots in faith. In this way, they may offer to the world together a credible testimony of their sense of responsibility for the safeguarding of creation.”“People of goodwill can and should associate themselves with practical objectives dealing with human survival. Reciprocal respect is also communicated through initiatives like this present one, since the themes to be tackled are in everyone’s interest. Common points must be found on which to converge the commitment of each to safeguarding the habitat that the Creator prepared for mankind, in who he impressed his image.”


Pope urges Middle East ceasefire

VATICAN CITY, JUL 20, 2006 (VIS) - Faced with worsening situation in the Middle East, the Holy See Press Office has been directed to communicate the following:
"The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.
"In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region; as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16."
"In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland."
"At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Holy Father sneaks into Switzerland

Holy Father on holiday sneaked into Switzerland prays, surprises tourists, pats dogs, goes home, writes encyclical or book. Busy!

story at

more phots at

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are a museum of the Sicilian dead. This unsettling collection of skeletons and mummified corpses, preserved in their everyday clothing, began in 1599 as a repository for dead friars but soon grew to include local luminaries.

When should the sacrament of the sick be given?

Fr McNamara is asked a bit about Indulgences and a bit more about the Sacrament of the Annointing of the Sick

Many priests (& bishops too), today seem to misunderstand this very important Sacrament, so it is not surprising that the laity either treat it as a simple blessing or they do not asked for it at all. There is confusion too about its relation to the Sacrament of Penance, Fr McNamara a professor of liturgy in Rome, addresses most of these points.

He is asked:
"Is the sacrament of the anointing of the sick reserved solely for those suffering a terminal illness or for those preparing to undergo surgery? May persons suffering from chronic illness, mental illness, spiritual illness and drug addiction receive this sacrament?"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alice von Hilderbrand on the Supernatural

Fascinating, provocative article, just like Alice herself, she is the wife of the philosopher and 20th century commentator Dietrich von Hildebrand.
Do comment on it, you can do it anonymously.

"Let me quote Kierkegaard who has a superb formulation. He said: "Christ changed water into wine. Modern theologians do a lot better than that, they change wine into water".

The woman has a great advantage over the human male, she is receptive and religiously speaking, receptivity is a crucial virtue. The Holy Virgin taught us that when she said at the Annunciation "Be it done to me according to Thy Word". She wasn’t doing, she said "be it done". In other words she was receptive and her receptivity enabled the Holy Spirit to fecundate her and at that very moment the Son of God was made incarnate in her womb.

And this is why the female body should be veiled because everything which is sacred calls for veiling. When Moses came down form Mount Sinai, he veiled his face. Why did he veil his face? Because he had spoken to God and at that very moment there was a sacredness that called for veiling.

A Story from the Spanish Civil War

Many of my friends had relatives who fought against Fascism in Spain. It is perhaps easy for us English to know more about this dreadful war from Hemingway and other left of centere writers but here is a story about the execution of the monks of El Pueyo by the Left. It is rather gruesome.
I am the one who killed the Prior of El Pueyo and from that time on, I have not had one day of peace. I cannot sleep two nights in the same room, because I see in front of me the reflection of his eyes, which is unbearable and deeply upsets me. I commanded the executioners, when the Fathers were conducted from the prison to the truck.

St. John of Damascus and the Qur'an

St. John of Damascus is a very important witness to early Islam. He was born into a priveleged family in Damascus (his grandfather had been the administrator of the city at the time the Muslims took it), and he grew up and served in the court of the caliph. He was entirely familiar with Islam (a name it did not yet possess, apparently), and thus what he has to say about it, and the context in which he places it, is of great historical importance. For one thing, this is a single chapter in his work “On Heresies,” part of his larger work, “The Fountain of Knowledge.” Thus, St. John did not consider Islam, as it was during his lifetime, to yet be a separate religion, but rather a Christian heresy. In any case, he mentions several suras of the Qur’an by name, and refers most interestingly to one which is no longer extant.
Read the text.

Sex-ed: pouring petrol on the fire

This is from which is always worth a visit.

An article in today's Telegraph Schools get help for 'too sexual' pupils tells how Birmingham council's inappropriate sexual behaviour unit is sending in "teams of experts" to schools to tackle the problem of little children engaging in sexually explicit behaviour. Stephane Breton, a social worker is quoted as saying:
They are seven and eight and they are flirtatious. We go with them and address the issue to make sure they know what they are talking about.So that's all right then.Yesterday, the same paper reported on how £150m plan has failed to cut teenage pregnancies. The £150 million has been spent on the notorious Teenage Pregnancy Unit. The headline figures from the TPU show a small decline in teenage pregnancy "rates" - but there is actually an increase in the number of teenage pregnancies. Critics of the figures have pointed out that the rates can fall where there is an increase in population, especially in the population of Muslims "where teenage pregnancy is rare" - i.e. where there is sound moral education for teenagers.To get some idea of why children are becoming sexualised at an early age and why £150 million has done nothing useful to reduce teenage pregnancy rates, it is worth having a look at another article from the Telegraph about a book for PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) produced by Coordination Group Publications. Alternatively, have a look at the unit descriptors for the Channel 4 DVD All about us: Living and Growing - a programme that is used in at least one Catholic school to my knowledge:

Unit 1: For Ages 5-7
* Differences
*How Did I Get Here? (Contains animation of the sexual organs)

Growing UpUnit 2:
For Ages 7-9
* Changes
* How Babies Are Made (Contains animation of sexual intercourse)

Growing Up (Contains footage of a live birth)Unit 3:
For Ages 9-11
* Girl Talk
* Boy Talk (Contains information on erections, wet dreams and masturbation. There is an animated sequence showing ejaculation).

If some old bloke on a park bench showed children how to masturbate, he would be lucky if the police got to him before their parents did. Nevertheless, campaigners against this kind of sex-education are routinely dismissed as cranks and extremists. They may begin to find some allies outside the Catholic sector as parents become aware of the actual content of these sort of materials. In 2003, parents of children at a non-Catholic school in Dagenham protested vigorously and got the programme banned, saying it was "virtually pornographic". In Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council, East Renfrewshire Council and the Western Isles Council have all banned the programme as unsuitable for use in schools.


Of your charity pray for the soul of Moira Lee who died earlier this morning fortified by the sacraments of our Holy Mother the Church.

It is a great privilege for any priest to be called to the deathbed of one of his parishioners and to be albe to say those wonderful prayers, "Go forth faithful Christian into the the hands of God the Father who created you... May you dwell in paradise today... with Mary, he Blessed Virgin and all the angels and saints.

Pray for Moira's sister Betty who has been nursing her.
Betty was saying she was weep because was Moira was dying, she said "Stop that, I am going to a much better place". She believed her Redeemer lived and on the last day he would raisxe her up. Let us pray we all have that sought of faith.

Monday, July 17, 2006

On Marie-Antoinette's Faith Journey

Another French bit, but again interesting.

"She was always a Roman Catholic in good standing, going to daily Mass, confessing and receiving Holy Communion on a regular basis."

Did you know that Mass used to be said in Brighton's YMCA by French emigre priests, that is when it was the home of Maria Fitzhurbert, the Prince Regents Catholic (and secret) wife. The Prince apparently entertained a group of French nuns at The Ship.

Bastille Day

A French friend of mine who read our blog thought I was cosying up to Napoleon a bit by quoting him. He sent me this on the revolt of the Vendee against the revolution that was put down with such savagery. It was his Bastille Day present!

"Not one is to be left alive." "Women are reproductive furrows who must be ploughed under." "Only wolves must be left to roam that land." "Fire, blood, death are needed to preserve liberty." "Their instruments of fanaticism and superstition must be smashed."

Past Splendour and Mgr Wallace

These are not very good photographs of some embroideries from some of our old vestments, the embridery is in good condition but the vestments are very worn.
These glorious angels are on the orphrey of the cope, Mary Magdalen is on a dalmatic. I have been told that they a from Flanders about 1930.
We'll vest the statue of St Mary Magdalen in them for here feast day.

I suspect they would have been acquired under Mgr George Wallace who was parish priest here during the war.

He was an Englishman brought up in France, he stuied for the priesthood at the Gallican College, for a while he was the Master of Ceremonies of Westminster Cathedral and oversaw its consecration. There is a story that he came to Brigthon after being sacked. The story is that the King of Portugal was to be received formally at Westminister Cathedral, in those days it meant great ceremonial, the Cardinal wearing a Cappa Magna and the King walking down the aisle under a canopy. Apparently someone, possibly the Cardinal ignored an instruction from Mgr Wallace, so he went off to say his Office. The ceromonial started to collapse, the Cardinal sent a message saying, "As long as you are Master of Ceremonies, I and everyone else will obey your instruction to the letter". After the liturgy the Cardinal asked Mgr what the contents of the message were, he repeated them, the Cardinal said, "That is right, however Monsignor you are no longer the Master of Ceremonies of this Cathedral". The Archbishop of Southwark heard the story, and because there was certain amount of attagonism between Southwark and Westminster, offered Monsignor St Mary Magdalen's.
During his time here time the liturgy flourished he encouraged plainchant, despising the polyphony of the other local parishes. There were apparently lots of vestments of this calibre which were sent off to Walsingham, who then passed them on top a protestant parish in Norfolk. Shame! These were apparently taken by a parishioner and returned when the clearing our bug had passed.

In his time apparently Belloc and Chesterton used to come and hear him preach.

One of our older parishioners remembers hearing Mgr Wallace saying in his French accent, during the war she thinks, "If you have troubles tell me, if you have needs let me know, I am your father, it is my duty to help".
Pray for his soul.

If you have any memories of him post a comment, indeed if you memories of Fr Joe or Canon Smith or any other priest let me know, if you have pictures I can post them.


If you are in Paris this summer why not visit my favourite museum. It is housed in the Mansion of the Abbots of Cluny in the Latin Quarter, the fan vaulting is in the chapel.
The other pictures are exhibits. they have those wonderful "virgin and unicorn" tapestries. They also have the original statues from the facade of Notre Dame de Paris housed in Roman Baths next door.
It is a bit like the V&A but smaller and more "digestable".

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...