Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nun, Gang Raped: Indian Government does nothing

Again and again one hears of outrages in India against Christians, today the gang rape of nun has come to light!
It makes one wonder if the Indian government is capable of protecting its citizens. What we hear from Tamil Nadu, from Keralla and most especially from Orissa, is that if they are Christian the government is not interested. In some parts Christians are outlaws in their own country. Letters and everything else fail, either Christians plead in the streets for justice or flee to the forests.

India's Orissa state government has been accused of failing to take action against the perpetrators of the gang rape of a 28 year old Catholic nun.
The Hindu reports the Orissa government has failed to take any action against those who committed the gang rape of the nun and the brutal attack on a Catholic priest who courageously resisted their attempts to force him to participate in the atrocity. .......

Clerical Whispers

Patriarch of Armenia Blesses Holy Muron

There is a fascinating account of blessing of the Holy Muron here. Muron is the equivalent of western Chrism, in the west it is blessed by a bishop, with his priests, annually at the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass (which may may not actually be on Holy Thursday), it normally takes about five minutes.In east it is replace as necessary, it is only blessed by the Patriarch together with bishops, its blessing and consecration takes days. It last happened in the Armenian Church in 2002.

.....At the conclusion of the Andastan service, the procession of clergy and faithful moved from the courtyard of the Mother Cathedral to the garden of the Old Pontifical Residence, where the service of blessing the ingredients that will comprise the Holy Muron was offered. As Holy Scripture was read, prayers intoned and hymns sung, the Armenian Pontiff blessed the oils, balsam, floral extracts, aromatic roots and plants, and asked for the graces of the Holy Spirit to descend from heaven, infuse the elements of nature that would soon be added to the cauldron, and to dwell within the hearts of Armenian faithful in the homeland and throughout the Diaspora. In his message to the faithful, His Holiness also stated, “We encourage our sons and daughters throughout the world to pray with us unceasingly during this time, so that your voices will be mixed with the sweet aromas and floral essences, and thereby sanctify the Muron. We ask God to send the manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit with His miraculous power to purify the souls of all Armenians who will be baptized, sealed and ordained with this Chrism, and that the sanctity of the Muron becomes the adornment of every individual.”
After the ingredients were blessed, His Holiness added the elements into the cauldron one at a time, and sealed the lid. The cooking process will take three full days, during which time, the cauldron is constantly attended to by the monks and deacons of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin. As the fire below the cauldron cooks the elements, the clergy stand 24-hr vigil and offer their continuous prayers and recitation of psalms, since the mixture is never left unattended.......

Earlier and Later Popemobiles: A Hermeneutic of Rupture

Fr Tim has some images of the evolution of the Popemobile. Far be it from me to accuse him of Modernism, but there are extant examples of the more ancient forms in the Vatican museum. Even in the earlier form there are two obvious and divergent species.
The grander example was the eight horse power model.

Fr Tim suggest there is an evolution in the forms, but where is the link between the above examples and those below?
The link is missing, they are totally different species, there is a hermeneutic of rupture!
I submit the new form is in essence different from what preceded it.

Brutallity of Orissa continues

(AsiaNews) – Three bodies were recovered from a river in Kandhamal, the district in Orissa state hit by a wave of anti-Christian violence for more than a month now. The bodies belong to a couple and a woman reported missing after they visited a local village to administer immunisation. Elsewhere Hindu radicals continue their rampage in areas like Raikia (Padrikia and Mondasoro), Tikabali and Didrabadi (near Daringbadi).

“The situation is unbearable. A systematic plan to wipe out Christian life is underway, killing people and destroying their property,” a local source told AsiaNews. “Nothing prepared us for this.”

Fr Nithiya Executive Secretary, CBCI Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, confirms that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal (BD) are carrying out forced conversion to the last Christian.“This plan is not only politically motivated but is part of a scheme to wipe Christians off the face of Orissa,” the priest said. He described in detail the pattern the plan follows.

1.First Christian Dalits and Tribals are threatened if they do not convert to Hinduism. Once a village has been selected, fundamentalist groups announce ahead of time the date before which residents must convert.

2.Christians are told they must bring back their relatives who fled to refugee camps or anywhere else before the conversion deadline expires.

3.On conversion day Christians must sign a document in which they acknowledge that they freely chose to convert. If they refuse to sign they are tortured and killed.

4.Even of they become Hindu they must still pay a fine of 1,000-1,500 rupees (20-30 US dollars).

5.As a token of their "re-conversion" they must smash Christian statues, vandalise churches and even kill those Christians who have resisted forced re-conversion.

6.Those who do not become Hindus are robbed of all their worldly possessions (homes, land and more) which are given to their Hindu neighbours. Everything left over is set on fire.

7.NGOs and humanitarian workers are not allowed into the forest and the refugee camps where Christians have found shelter. Currently there are some 25,000 people in 17 such camps. Only doctors are allowed in to provide medical care but they are under close supervision for fear that they might engage in “forced conversions” to Christianity.

8.Both the VHP and the BD are hunting down priests, nuns and pastors as well as their families in order to kill them.

9.All the violence is taking place in broad daylight in cities and main roads with the police standing idly by. In Orissa fundamentalist groups have total immunity.

Whilst all this is happening state authorities are saying that all is under control and that everything is fine.Little news is getting out of Orissa; whatever information is making its way out it is being manipulated. India’s national newspapers and even the BBC have reported that Orissa tribal associations like the Kui Samaj are trying to defend the rights of poor Tribals against the arrogance of Christians who are stealing their land and threatening their leaders.

“First of all no one has pointed out that the Kui Samaj is not any association. This group is linked to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bajrang Dal, i.e. the world of Hindu fundamentalism,” said a priest from Orissa.“What is actually a form of caste warfare is being described as an interethnic clash. Upper class Hindus cannot accept that Christian Dalits and Tribals are improving socially and economically. What is more, local merchants are lending a hand to non-Dalit Hindus by supplying them with the kerosene and petrol they use to set Christian properties on fire.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today's Homily on Angels

One of my parishioners came away from a pilgrimage to Lourdes, more than a little shocked a few years ago and with her faith a little damaged. She had had a conversation with a certain prelate about the Holy Souls. “Oh,” he said, “you still believe in that stuff”. A friend of hers later asked him about angels and got the reply, “I have never met one, I am not sure what their purpose is.”

I can both sympathise with this man but I also think his attitude is highly problematic. I sympathise because our age is highly materialistic and it is difficult for modern man, even prelates, to think outside of what can been seen and touched and analysed. I couldn’t help wondering whether this man might have a similar difficulty with “God”.

The importance of belief Angels is precisely that they call us to believe in something beyond our experience, and beyond our knowledge. It is impossible to deny that Jesus had no problem with Angels, and fact is that the New Testament glitters with them from the Annunciation to the end of the world.

Angels extend the cosmos; they breach the cortex of our world. They slip between the presence of God and man, making God present to man and man to God. It is very easy to argue that we have no need of intermediaries; we have Jesus Christ the sole mediator. It is true we have no need of Angels, or for that matter of saints or even of the Blessed Virgin but they are part of God’s absolute generosity. Wherever God is there is the whole court of Heaven. Our Catholic cosmic vision is not that of the 16th century reformers where God is always alone and therefore tends to be distant, for us God is indeed always totally “other”, but he is not distant, he is intimate. He is united to us by numerous threads. He is with us, we see this world as being separated from heaven by the thinnest of veils which is continual penetrated.
In the liturgy especially we break through the veil; and so we join the Angel and Saints as we sing..., what we sing in the Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei is the song of the Angels. The Mass continually reminds us to this mystery; angels and saints are constantly referred to or invoked, maybe a little less in the Reformed Liturgy but they are still there.

Catholics experience 12% less pain!

I am always a little skeptical about "measuring" the effects of prayer, or even suggesting it has a purpose other than worshipping the Almighty, as far as the following story is concerned I would be interested in meeting the Catholics, I mean what kind of Catholics are they? and I would want a look at the rest of the data. Faith should make us more questioning of such stories not less.
Howrah News: Researchers at the Oxford Centre For Science Of The Mind, in Oxford University, in a study published in the journal Pain, conducted an experiment with electric shocks on 12 Roman Catholics and 12 atheists as they studied a painting of the Virgin Mary.

The Catholics in the experiment seemed to be able to block out much of the pain as they were able to activate part of the brain associated with conditioning the experience of pain, reported the Mail on Sunday. The study also found that participants who had strong religious belief could moderate their pain by thinking about it more positively. The experiment was conducted as part of a series by the Oxford academics — scientists, philosophers and theologians. It involved strapping a sparking device on the back of every participant’s left hand to deliver an electric shock. They were also asked to contemplate two paintings, Italian painter Sassoferrato’s 17th century Virgin Annunciate (Virgin Mary) and Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th century Lady With An Ermine.

The participants were not told the true purpose of the experiment, only that it was designed to judge how people felt pain while contemplating pictures of different things. They were made to spend half-an-hour inside an MRI scanner, receiving a series of 20 electric shocks in four separate sessions while looking at either one of the paintings. The researchers hoped that the Virgin Mary painting would induce a religious state of mind in the believers and the da Vinci painting was chosen as it did not look dissimilar and would be calming. The researchers found that the Catholics felt "safe," "taken care of" and "clamed down and peaceful," said that looking at the painting of the Virgin Mary. They reported feeling 12 per cent less pain after viewing the religious image.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Orthodoxy on Angels

A few patristic and scriptural thoughts on Angels, I thought you might enjoy.

The Two Brothers, Two Ways

One son says, "yes" but doesn't go and do what his father wants, there is no struggle, in fact there is no real engagement withe father at all. The son gives the old man what he wants to hear, and does his own thing. It seems as if this son is treating his father with contempt. This son chooses the "easy way". He is like the Christian who has all the formulas off patt but is really just another hypocrite. "Am I bothered", no, he is not bothered. He doesn't care.

The other son is bothered, he actually cares, yes, he argues, he squabbles, he moans and he groans, maybe he even has a tantrum even, but he has chosen to engage with the father, he chooses the more "difficult way" and eventually does what he is asked, there is an interior struggle going on. An observerer might think there was a real problem here, a disobedient son who needs disciplining. The other son really presents no problem.

The real problem is with the son who simple says, "yes". The other son is struggling with his own will and the will of his father. We actually see this going on in Jesus on the Mount of Olives as he says, “My Father, let this cup pass from me! Yet not what I will, but what you will”. (Matthew 26:39).

Our faith tells us the will of the God and Jesus are one, but in this little passage we glimpse an inner struggle but in order to do his father's will Jesus has to struggle with human emotions.

St Paul speaking of his own conversion, says, "it is hard kicking against the goad", whether this about a struggle before his Damascus road experience or something that happens after his conversion in the Arabian desert, we don't know.

In the conversion of everyone there is a real inner struggle, in the case of Theresa of Avilla, it showed itself in depression, mental and physical illness. For others the struggle is only apparent after conversion, one says, "Oh that is what it was all about".

The great Carmelite writers identify the first stage of the three stages of the spiritual life, the Purgative as being about this inner struggle, the next stages are Lumative and Unitative. In this inner struggle we experience, "How narrow the gate and the difficult way that leads to life. And those who find it are few".

For the other son "the gate is wide and the broad [and easy] way that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

White Martyrdom

The word martyr means "witness", the first centuries of the Church were spattered red with the heroic blood of the martyrs, but when peace came to the Church there was still a need for heroic witness very soon the concept of "white" martyrdom developed.

This was a martyrdom without blood, without violent hatred of the faith. This white martyrdom consisted in a total offering to God a "dying" to self, to the world and its allurements. The age of martyrs melts into the age the early monks and hermits.

At the heart of it was was an interior war, the frontline was chaste celibacy united to an ardent desire to bend one's will to Christ's will. Saint Anthony of Egypt was the great exemplar of this new ascetic way. His twenty years of solitude in the tomb, fighting with his inner demons, was an invitation for many to follow him.

The word "monk" comes from "monachus" meaning alone. Denial of self and the gradual bending of one's mind by continuous prayer, were the tools of sanctification, yes, first celibacy and solitude, but also fasting and nights of sleeplessness. In Egypt especially, gradually these monks gathered together around an Abbas, a spiritual father, and little by little community life developed.

In and around the great melting-pot that was Alexandria especially, there seems to have been an interplay with other great religions. In outward appearance there seems to be little difference between the Christian monk and Hindu sadu, or Buddhist ascetic, both of these traditions were present in the city.
Here is a site of some of the sayings of the Desert Father, they are short and pithy as befits, the silent men of the desert

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oaklands Cathedral, USA

Fiat Lux : an introduction to the Cathedral of Christ the Light By Sean Bryan
Guess what? I found this extremely irritating. Apart from the "Omega Window", don't you think the same symbolism can be applied to any modern building? Pretentious, is that the right word?
Tell me want you think.
Michael Clifton said...
You might like to mention in your blog that I am operating a prize competition based on the Acts and the Epistles of St. Paul Prize £20 and moderation is on until Monday week. I did not like that Cathedral.

The Faith, The Family... The Future

A conference of hope for young people and families
Organised by Catholic Families, for Catholic Families
All Saints Pastoral Centre
London Colney
St. Albans AL2 1AF
25th-26th October 2008

Exploring the beauty of the Church's teaching on love, the needs of young Catholics and families and vocation, and the means for preserving and passing on our faith.

Over the weekend there will be many eminent speakers, representing a broad panorama of Catholic thought and culture. With programs specially tailored to each age group, combined with the opportunity for retreat, spiritual reflection and renewal, the weekend provides a great opportunity for Catholics to renew their spiritual life, strengthening their families through meeting other young Catholics who share their hopes and views.

Palin visits Medugorje

I am afraid the title is Creative Minorities little joke, it is Michael Palin, not the gun toting Sarah.

The Holy See recently censured and imposed severe penalties on Father Tomislav Vlasic, who had been the seers spiritual director. The Holy Father's skepticism about repeated and continuous apparitions is well known, as is the local bishop's and Holy See's prohibition on bishops and priests leading public pilgrimages to Medjugorje.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

St Monica & HPV Vaccine

The BBC carries the story about St Monica's school in Manchester and the governors decision not to allow HPV vaccinations to be given on school premises. The age when it is to be given is 12-13.

Catholic Education Service says there is nothing wrong with allowing the cervical cancer vaccinations to be given. I think most of us can agree that preserving the health of young women is always a good.

Of course one would hope that St Monica's is already taken steps to safeguard its charges against HPV by teaching the Gospel and therefore a life of chastity and continence. HPV is only caught by women who have multiple partners.

One might argue that CES's advice presupposes that schools are going to fail to teach the sexual values of the Gospel. What concerns me more than a little is that giving this vaccine will be see to be a rite of passage into a very secular form of adult sexuality. What, I wonder is being done in other school, to counter the notion of "I have had the jab, I can now have sex with who I like".

Another thing that concerns me is that giving the vaccine in school takes the responsibility for a child's sexual and moral health away from her parents. If the school takes care of it, there is no need for family to take responsibility for discussion of sexual and moral health. For us Catholics there seems to be a separation of sexual health from morality, this seems to be very much part of our governments secularist agenda.

Though there is nothing wrong with what the CES says, one always has the suspicion, especially after Fit for Mission, that what comes from them is not the pastoral or prophetic concern of Bishops but the bureaucratic concern of those involved in the smooth running of our schools as part the state system.
Where is the distinctive nature of our Catholic schools?

Popes at Gandolfo

(A translation from L'Osservatore)
(CNS) -- Pope John XXIII used to duck out incognito and visit surrounding towns. Pope John Paul II played hide-and-seek with employees' children. And Pope Benedict XVI fills the evening air with notes from his piano.

It's all part of the informal family atmosphere that reigns at the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, said Saverio Petrillo, director of the villa since 1986 and a staff member there for the last 50 years.

Each pope has had a different style, Petrillo told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an interview published Aug. 26.

Pope John Paul was the first to really use the villa as a second home. Especially in the early years, he hosted evening meetings with young people where the youths would light bonfires, sing songs and tell stories about their lives.

Pope John Paul would pay frequent visits to the families of the 50 or so employees who live and work on the villa grounds, accepting a cup of tea and chatting casually with them, Petrillo said.

The employees' children, whenever they would see the pope walking in the gardens, would hide behind the bushes and jump out at him when he passed. The pope loved the game and played along, Petrillo said.

It was Pope John Paul who had a swimming pool built at the villa so that he could exercise, on the advice of doctors, the director said. When some critics objected to the expense, the Polish pope joked: "A new conclave would cost a lot more."

Petrillo said Pope Benedict impresses the villa staff with his extraordinary sensitivity and spirituality. The German pope finds the quiet villa a perfect place to write, and every evening the staff hears the pope at his piano, playing his favorite works of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

"It makes us happy because it means he really feels at home here," Petrillo said.

The 50-acre villa, built on the grounds of a Roman emperor's country residence, is perched in the Alban Hills south of Rome. Petrillo began working there in 1958, in the waning days of Pope Pius XII.

He learned that during World War II, Pope Pius had not only opened the doors of the villa to thousands of people fleeing the Nazi army, but on many occasions gave up his bedroom to expectant women among the refugees.

"Fifty babies were born in that room," Petrillo said.

Pope John liked the villa in part because he could slip out so easily.

"Every now and then he disappeared. He would go out one of the gates without telling anyone and without an escort," Petrillo said. The pontiff would make his way to nearby towns and just hang out with people.

One Sunday morning the staff received phone calls placing the pope at the sea town of Anzio, then at Nettuno and then at the lake below Castel Gandolfo. As his aides panicked, the pope returned calmly in time to lead the Angelus prayer at noon.

Pope Paul VI came to pray at the villa as a cardinal for a week before the 1963 conclave that elected him pope. When it came time for the cardinal to leave the residence for Rome, the villa's doorman said goodbye with the words, "Best wishes, Holy Father!"

By using the words reserved for addressing a pope, the doorman had, of course, violated the age-old rule of never wishing a cardinal good luck as he went into a conclave. The doorman received a burning glare from the villa's director.

When Pope Paul visited the villa, it was always for spiritual sustenance, Petrillo said.

"He prayed and that's all," he said.

Like Pope Pius, Pope Paul died at Castel Gandolfo, and his body remained there three days for public viewing before a simple funeral procession carried him back to Rome.

When Pope Pius died in 1958, Petrillo said he was surprised and saddened to see how the reduced number of papal aides at the villa made for a lonely death.

"Before I began working there, I thought the pope would always be surrounded by a big crowd of people, ready to respond to his every desire. But when I saw Pius XII dying, I realized how alone he was. No one was there," he said.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Oratorian Consultor for Papal Liturgy

Fr Uwe Michael Lang, of The London Oratory has just been appointed as a consultor to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Pontiff. Fr Lang is the author of "Turning Towards the Lord", in which he argues for celebrating Mass facing east. It will be interesting to see what influence the Oratory style has on Papal liturgy.
Also appointed is Fr Paul C.F. Gunter, O.S.B., of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at the Pontifical Athenaeum of S. Anselmo and a member of the editorial board of the new academic journal Usus Antiquior.
Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer

Our Lady of Walsingham

Prayer for England

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.
By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.
Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.
Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Hero of the Eucharist

I was talking to a man, "J", after our Traditional Latin Mass a few months ago, he was in his early forties. He said I like coming to it "...because I don't feel forced to come to Holy Communion". When he couldn't go to the TLM he went to the Polish Mass. He hadn't been to Holy Communion very often for ten years.

"I come to Mass every Sunday," he said, "I am living with "M", she is divorced. Most Lents we have determined to live as brother and sister, sometimes it works and I go off to Confession, receive absolution and receive Communion, normally a few weeks after Easter our resolution breaks down. The last couple of years we haven't got very far, so I haven't been to Holy Communion for three years. I want to come, of course I do, but I know I know what Jesus said about the permanence of marriage and marriage to divorcee. It would be hypocritical to receive Him and not live by His teaching."

I of course suggested looking at an annulment, he said he had tried that but "M" just couldn't bring herself to go through the procedure.

I was so impressed by this man, so impressed by his extraordinary love for the Blessed Sacrament, impressed by his honesty and the heroism of his Christian life.

I think one of the good things about this parish is that not everyone comes to Holy Communion, our Polish Mass only about a half of the people recieve, I think about the same proportion receive at the TLM.

I would love to hear a pastoral letter that extolled faithful people like "J". I really do believe that we should encourage people to see it is a good and holy thing not to come to Holy Communion.

St Pio of Pietrelcina

From Zenit an extract from "Padre Pio Sotto Inchiesta: l''Autobiografia Segreta'".
Asked to swear on the Gospel, Padre Pio for the first time revealed the identity of the one from whom he received the wounds.
It was June 15, 1921, and in answer to a question posed by Bishop Rossi, Padre Pio said: "On Sept. 20, 1918, I was in the choir of the church after celebrating Mass, making the thanksgiving when I was suddenly overtaken by powerful trembling and then there came calm and I saw Our Lord in his crucified form.
"He was lamenting the ingratitude of men, especially those consecrated to him and favored by him."
"Then," Padre Pio continued, "his suffering was apparent as was his desire to join souls to his Passion. He invited me to let his pains enter into me and to meditate on them and at the same time concern myself with the salvation of others. Following this, I felt full of compassion for the Lord's pains and I asked him what I could do.
"I heard this voice: 'I will unite you with my Passion.' And after this the vision disappeared, I came back to myself, my reason returned and I saw these signs here from which blood flowed. Before this I did not have these."
Padre Pio then said that the stigmata were not the result of a personal request of his own but came from an invitation of the Lord, who, lamenting the ingratitude of men, and consecrated persons in particular, conferred on Padre Pio a mission as the culmination of an interior mystical journey of preparation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I am getting soft

I had a new bed delivered today. Call me soft if you must but I have decided to give up the penance of having a lump in the small of my back and the sharp end of a spring in my buttock, They started to wake me up once or twice during the night.
I don't think I have ever had a new bed in my life.
I know St Jose Maria used to encourage people to sleep on the floor on Fridays, and many Benedictines choose to rise in the middle of the night to pray, and Carthusians and some Cistercians rise halfway through the night for the Office. I know I really am getting soft.

One of my converts once said,

"You know Father when I was young, I had a rather ravenous appetite for pleasure, but now I am old pleasure is being able to sit down when I need to, getting to the lavatory on time, not having indigestion after a good meal, having a good nights sleep and realising I will most probably pre-decease my friends.

I am getting to that stage.

p.s. That isn't my new bed, it is James II's at Knole.

Bloggers of the World Unite

Father Zuhlsdorf is in town! Somewhere, I have been trying to get him to phone me, anyone know where?
He is organising a "blognic".

DATE: Tuesday, 23 September
TIME: Evening - 6-8 pm
PLACE: Buckingham Arms, in Petty France
WHAT: Hang out, chat, buy your own refreshments, unless you have other plans
WHO: Everyone, and we especially hope blog owners will come.

Go along, unfortunately I am going to listen to the Irish Chamber Orchestra, with some parishioners, at the Wigmore, so I can't be there.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More from Aachen

Jeffrey Smith has some splendid photographs from Aachen.

Reiss and Scientific Fundamentalism

The Guardian carries a letter by Professor Michael Reiss, clarifying the furor that followed a recent speech of his:

Your headline (Teach creationism, says top scientist, September 12) misrepresents the views of myself and the Royal Society. The society believes that if a young person raises the issue of creationism in a science class, a teacher should be in a position to examine why it does not stand up to scientific investigation. This does not put it on a par with evolution, which is recognised as the best explanation for the history of life on Earth from its beginnings and for the diversity of species.
Evolution is rightly taught as an essential part of biology and science courses in schools, colleges and universities across the world. Creationism, which has no scientific validity, can be discussed in a science class if it is raised by a pupil, but should in no way be seen as comparable to evolution or any other scientific theory which is backed up with evidence.
Professor Michael Reiss
Director of education, Royal Society

The scientific establishment, in a very unscientific way, sided with the populist uptake of Reiss' words rather than what he actually said and immediately sought to rid itself of Reiss, who is also an Anglican clergyman, has of course now resigned.

What he was suggesting, I think, was merely that science teachers shouldn't take a fundamentalist approach but be willing to engage with "creationist" students. It is estimated that 10% of students in the UK, a large part of the Muslim are creationist. One of the failures in UK science teaching seems to be that like religious fundamentalism it presumes a number of unquestionable "givens", and failure to accept either ignorance of these "givens" or even an opposition to them.

Being a Catholic, I am not of course a Creationist in that sense. The order of creation in the Copernican system is beautiful, the evolutionism of Darwin is compelling, no serious Catholic would question the broad sweep of his theories. What we would question is its frightening political notion of the "survival of the fittest" with its brutalistitic anthropology and world view.

What I have always been fascinated by is that scientist who look through microscopes tend to disbelieve in God, those who look through telescopes tend to believe in God.

What this debate has brought to the surface is the inability of science to deal with the notion of God. I don't simply mean to say that non-believers should prove that God does not exist, but they do have to admit that science does not answer, even our scientific questions.

I suspect that the God who they don't believe in, is also the God I, and most Christians, don't believe in.

People like Dawkins build their own straw God, tell us that this is what we believe in and then proceed to tear it down. For believers God is the "beyond, beyond", "the eternal", "the source", "the prime mover", the creator of something out of nothing. For a Christian we see these attributes made "flesh" and dwelling amongst us in the Natural Law, and ultimately through the womb of the Virgin being given a human face, so human that it takes on man's suffering."God". At least in physics is the "X factor" which means that these ultimates are benign

Science needs faith simply to rescue it from the rationalism that lead Hitler to rid society of the defective, and other totalitarians to dehumanise their societies robbing mankind of anything other than a functionalism allowed him by the ideology of their regime. We have seem in the 20th century the debasement that "scientific method" brings to society, it is essentially compassionless and soulless.

I think not unrelated to all this is Baroness Warnock's comments on dementia patients, it is scientifically (and economically) expedient to euthanize them. Christians recognise an infinite value to every human being, the scientist following his principles is always going to limit the value of the human person.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Relics of St Ursula

I was staying opposite the Church of St Ursula, woken daily by the clang of bells, though the church was open there is an iron screen at the back to stop people wandering around. Inside the Church there is chapel, which I didn't get into, containing the relics of St Ursula the Virgin Martyr and her 1100 companions.
Such is the wonder of modern technology that what one can't see in reality flickr provides.
I was very impressed with the fascinating collection of relics I saw in Germany: the Magi, the belts of Our Lord and his Blessed Mother, I think I encountered Our Lord's lioncloth somewhere, and then there was St Peter's staff in the Cathedral, which actually does have a Roman knob on it. It is fascinating insight into Medieval spirituality.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aachen, even more glitter

My tip, visit Aachen, an hour from Cologne, the capital of Charlemagne, the coronation place of the Holy Roman Emperors.
Practically every amazing piece of early splendid gold work, I have seen in books, seemed to be in the treasury of Aachen, there is lots I just couldn't find pictures of.

Glittering Cologne

Behind the High Altar of Cologne Cathedral is the object of medieval pilgrimage, the shrine of the Magi, unfortunately I couldn't get near it the retro-choir was "verboten", however what one could visit was the Cathedral treasury with wonderful gold and silver, but mainly gold, with a few spectacular vestments.

Now schools introduce a sex guide for your six-year-olds

The first sex education pamphlet for six-year-olds is being marketed to primary schools to encourage teachers to start sex lessons earlier.
The comic, from the former Family Planning Association, includes illustrations of a naked girl and boy and invites youngsters to label the genitals.
The group, now called the fpa, is producing 50,000 copies of Let's Grow with Nisha and Joe in an initial print run and promoting it to schools across the UK.
The fpa insisted the 12-page comic, designed for use in school and at home by six and seven-year-olds, was a 'gentle introduction'.
But angry parents condemned it as 'too much too young' and warned against robbing children of their innocence.
Margaret Morrissey, of the lobby group Parents Outloud, said she would have gone 'ballistic' had her own children brought a copy home.

Back from Germany

Inflation 1923-24: A German woman feeding a stove with currency notes, which burn longer than the amount of firewood they can buy.

It was strange coming back from Cologne, yes I went there, and reading about financial crisis. What had happened in Germany in the 1920s with all that followed, is, one would hope, never going to happen again.
The effects of economic meltdown are always catastrophic. There seem to be more shops that are standing empty, more "for sale" signs outside houses, more of my parishioners seem to be unable to live the lifestyle they had a few years ago. I am worried about how to heat the Church this year, many of my parishioners are worried how to keep themselves warm.
Those on fixed incomes, the elderly especially, are really worried about how they will cope, food has become more expensive, even travelling to work has become more expensive.

I saw a mother of one of the children in our school a few weeks ago picking up cigarrette ends in the street, it seemed to illustrate where we might be heading.

What worries me is that in any economic decline we search for strong leadership, which is always terrifying: Put not your trust in princes, as the Psalmist says.

That woodpecker wioll have to go

From Fr Robert Donat

Monday, September 15, 2008

Away until Friday

I shall be away until Thursday evening, I am going here. You are welcome to guess where.

Usus Antiquor - You can help

Usus Antiqor was launched yesterday, at the Oratory with Solemn Vespers of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Father John Boyle carries the press release.
They have launched a competion to design the jounal, this is a way you can help
1. The Editors will make a decision on the winning entry by the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, January 6th, 2009, and their decision will be final. They will enter into no correspondence or discussion on their decision. The winning entry will be published on the web sites of Usus Antiquior and the New Liturgical Movement on that day.

2. Entries are required to submit (a) a cover page; (b) a title page; (c) two pages of a journal article, using the text supplied for each page below (and nothing else).

3. Entries submitted must be the original work of the entrant(s), and must be submitted to stribe@rogers.com by St. Nicholas Day, December 6th, 2008.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Re-enchanting through marbling and gilding

Occasionally I get a visitor at Mass who say they read the blog. I had one today, a teacher, I think he must be teaching R.E., he was at a Catholic Secondary School as far as readers are concerned at "somewhere in England". In a brief conversation he told me he and some of his colleagues are concerned about re-enchanting the faith, and consequently the liturgy, for their students. They seem to have a deacon as a school chaplain who is quite enthusiastic about their approach. So what is he doing?
  • They teach children to be recollected, the use recordings of plainchant.

  • They have been teaching their students to sing plainchant.

  • They are preparing them to take part in Benediction with the proper chants, it sounded like EF to me.

  • They have taught them marbling

  • They have taught them gilding
The last two, are so they can do up their school chapel and altar, I just think that is wonderful! So often we underestimate the importance of the visual for children, that which we do give them is so often ephemeral.

Love itself is passion

Cardinal Ratzinger in 2002:
Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

Love itself is a passion, something we endure. In love experience first a happiness, a general feeling of happiness.

Crux fidelis

Crux fidelis inter omnes arbor una nobilis:

nulla silva talem profert fronde, flore, germine.

Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulce pondus sustinet.

Pange lingua gloriosi lauream certaminis,

et super vía trophæo dic triumphum nobilem:

qualiter Redemptor orbis immolatus vicerit.


Sempiterna sit beatæ Trinitati gloria;

aequa Patri Filioque, par decus Paraclito;

unius Trinique nomen laudet universitas.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

I exult in the cross of Christ

I used to think that vestments should be clothes without any iconography, I also used to believe that we should carry our cross rather than wear it round our neck.

I remember an elderly nun telling about washing the dead body of a saintly old priest when she was a novice, the only priest she seen naked, he had the Crucifixion tattooed across his back, scarred with marks of his own penance. She said she believed for ages that all priests were literally marked with the Cross before ordination.

Now, I think that all vestments should bear the cross, a priests vocation is to carry the crucified on his back*. I also think it is a good and holy thing to wear the image of the crucified next to one's heart.

*One of my servers suggested, when I said this, that possible Christ was carrying me on his back.

Esplanade des Invalides

AP) — Pope Benedict XVI condemned unbridled "pagan" passion for power, possessions and money as a modern-day plague Saturday as he led more than a quarter million Catholics at an outdoor Mass in Paris.
Benedict spoke as he was making his first visit as pontiff to the French capital, renowned for its luxury goods, fashion sense and cultural riches.
"Has not our modern world created its own idols?" Benedict said in his homily, and wondered aloud whether people have "imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity?"
"This is a question that all people, if they are honest with themselves, cannot help but ask," the pontiff said.
The 260,000 or so people who gathered on the lawns of the Esplanade des Invalides displayed a joyful outpouring of faith for this traditionally Roman Catholic country, which has witnessed a sharp decline in churchgoing in recent years.
Benedict has continued with a campaign started by his predecessor, John Paul II, who worried that the ever-more affluent West was turning consumerism into a kind of religion and ignoring spiritual values.
Paraphrasing from the New Testament, Benedict decried "insatiable greed" and said "the love of money is the root of all evil."
"Have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even knowledge, diverted man from his true destiny?" the pope asked.
In his homily, Benedict blasted modern society's thirst for these new "pagan" idols as a "scandal, a real plague."
The pope urged the faithful to "shun the worship of idols. Do not tire of doing good!'"
Listeners welcomed his message.
Jacqueline Dudek, a 76-year-old great-grandmother from Paris attending the Mass, said she was glad much of France's political elite was there to hear the anti-materialism homily.
"They have plenty of things to learn," she said.
The late-morning Mass is Benedict's only public appearance Saturday before he flies to Lourdes on a pilgrimage to the shrine there, which draws millions of pilgrims each year, many hoping for miracle cures of physical or psychic ills.
Tens of thousands of faithful, many of them young people, had camped overnight on the field after hearing greetings from the pope Friday night as he left a prayer service in Notre Dame.
On Friday, Benedict told young people they shouldn't fear spreading their faith in a society where secularism is entrenched and Islam is growing.
While most French are Catholic at least by tradition — if not in practice — the old yarn is that most go to church three times in their life: at their baptism, their wedding and their funeral.
France also has a fervent belief that faith and the state should be kept strictly separate.
Benedict and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who held talks on Friday, spoke publicly of the contribution that religion can make to forging an ethical society.
"They say that Catholics in France are fewer and fewer, and less devoted. But you can see here that is not true," said Robert Pavilla, a 58-year-old school groundskeeper, gesturing toward the throngs of people on the esplanade.

Help with TLM

If there is priest reader, in good standing etc., who could say the low TLM next Sunday evening at 6pm. 21st September.

I can offer supper and if needed a bed for the night. One of the problems caused by Summorum Pontificum is that there are so many demands made on the FSSP on the continent that in the South of England there is now only one priest serving the growing community of young families in Reading, they are no longer able to come to Brighton.

If I can't find a priest, the small community who come to the Mass will have to have a Latin Pauline Mass, ad orientem. I suppose there is no reason why we can't have prayers at the foot of the altar before, the Leonine Prayers after. I don't have a modern Latin Lectionary, but I presume I can take the readings from the Neo-Vulgate, and for pastoral reasons reduce the number. And as Archbishop Ranjith at Maria Vesperbild introduced various blessings and the genuflections before the elevations there are presumably other elements of the Traditional rite that can legitimately be introduce without compromising the the Novus Ordo.
Power of the blog: Father Peter Gee has agreed to come

Notre Dame

"Always cultivate a thirst for the word of God," he said. "Thus you will learn to love everyone you meet along life's journey. In the church, everyone has a place, everyone." see CNS

Our pilgrimage to the holy city would not be possible if it were not made in the Church, the seed and the prefiguration of the heavenly Jerusalem. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 126:1). Who is this Lord, if not our Lord Jesus Christ? It is he who founded his Church and built it on rock, on the faith of the Apostle Peter. In the words of Saint Augustine, “It is Jesus Christ our Lord who himself builds his temple. Many indeed labour to build, yet unless the Lord intervenes to build, in vain do the builders labour.
Rocco Palmo carries the full text

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...