Friday, December 31, 2010

Receiving Former Anglicans

The New Year is going to be very much about the beginnings of Ordinariate, keep it in your intentions.
from Fr John Boyle's Blog
I have heard on the grapevine that five former Anglican bishops, their wives and three former Anglican nuns from Walshinghas are to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Chuch at 12.30pm tomorrow, New Years Day, at Westminster Cathedral.

I presume that the former bishops concerned (and their former dioceses) are: Andrew Burnham (Ebbsfleet), Keith Newton (Richborough), John Broadhurst (Fulham), Edwin Barnes (assistant bishop, Winchester) and David Silk (assistant bishop, Exeter).

Bishop Burns: Paedophiles and Clericalism

One Bishop I know lives in the age of the Inquisition and will happily tell his priests, and anyone else who will listen to him, that complaints have made against them but then will neither tell the priest of the substance of the complaint nor who the complainant was. It can be like Spain during the Inquisition!

The bishops' role is primarily to be the foundation of unity and love within their diocese, principally by being the "Father in God" to their clergy it is sad when he becomes the source of suspicion and rumour.

Here is a rather strange sermon from one of our Welsh bishops, Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia, it starts off reasonably well, if a little confused, then becomes a rant.

Now which was the Roman Emperor who used to publish laws but in a way that no one was able read them? It is full of accusations which are made but not really identified. The 50 plus priests in his diocese must wonder if they are guilty of "clericalism" which he connects directly to paedophilia.
The link was sent to me by one of his priests.
The sermon seems designed to create an air of suspicion and a culture of mediocrity.
The concerning passage begins:
For priests who offended, [through the abuse of minors] I'm not sure that their abuses grew out of the rule of celibacy; abuse happens within otherwise good families too. I'm more convinced that it grew out of the clericalism of the past.
He does not quite identify what he means by "clericalism". He certainly does not identify it as that gross distortion  by his brother Bishops who covered up sins against God and crimes against children. Nor does he see it as that distortion faith by individual priests or bishops under that cover all of abuse of the faith, the Spirit of Vatican II, nor is it the absence of transparency of the Episcopal Conference.

He says, "clericalism risks raising its head today ..." it seems to imply he is having a go at young clergy, especially those who see themselves in the Benedictine and JPII mould!
... among those who again are looking for identity in status, not service. They want to be treated differently. There are those who set high standards of morality for lay people, while they blatantly violate those same standards themselves.
Status rather than service would be very sad but younger clergy seem to identify themselves as first of all serving God and by their service of him, serve their people. Immoral clergy have always been a scandal and Bishops have a duty to root them out. The moral standard is set by Christ and his Church, not by individual priests, except by their sanctity. If he knows of those who "blatantly violate those same standards themselves", which he seems to imply he does, he must act, we have had enough of cover up and double standards.

There are those who go to extremes to express the Mass in a particular way, whether it is in the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form, in a so-called VAT II rite or Tridentine Rite, through the "People's Mass" or the "Priest's Mass".
I am not sure what he is saying here, I hope he is not saying that those who care about the Sacred Liturgy are paedophiles or exponents of clericalism. As far as the EF is concerned, how can you go to extremes, it is so controlled?
Some want to put the priest on a pedestal, whilst the people are consigned to be privileged spectators outside the rails.
 Pedestals? Who is he getting at? Doesn't Redemptorist Sacramentum speak quite clearly about people having clearly defined spaces and places in the Sacred Liturgy? Invariably it is laypeople who put priests on pedestals, most priests know they are sinners and hate anything that hints of a pedestal.

Flamboyant modes of liturgical vestments and rubrical gestures abound.
Ah yes, I hate potato printed chasubles, is that what he is talking about? But rubrical gestures? If they are rubrical then they are correct, it is the non-rubrical gestures that is problem.
Women are denied all ministries at Mass: doing the Readings, the serving, the Bidding Prayers, and taking Communion to the Sick.
 If he hadn't mentioned the Usus Antiquior earlier you might think he was talking about that, and of course all the Eastern Rites, where the sanctuary was reserved to men. Any priest has a right to restrict serving to males only and if a priest can take Holy Communion to all his sick, he should praised not linked to paedophilia!
To many in our Church and beyond, this comes across as triumphalism and male domination.
And to many, it might be seen as reflecting the male nature of the ministerial priesthood and an opposition to a particular form of feminism that is becoming rife in England and Wales and seems to be a deliberate move towards encouraging female ordination.
This clericalism conceals the fact that the Church as an institution has often acted in collusion with what I can only regard as structural sinfulness. It has paid dearly for it and is untrue to its humble Founder, Jesus Christ.
I always get worried by those who talk about "the Church as an institution", it stinks of "that Pope", "those Bishops" "that Curia" and as for "structural sinfulness" well, prostitution, slavery and poverty are "structural sins" but structures only become sinful because of sinful people.
There seems to be a bit of that 1970s fallacy that Christ instigated a Church without hierarchy here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sr Wendy on Icons

Sr Wendy Becket speaks about a Christmas icon on the BBC at one of my favourite London icon galleries.

Ramsgate moves to Chilworth

There has been news of the move of the Benedictines of Ramsgate to the Chilworth for ages, whilst negotiations were going on but here is the news in black and white. The move takes place in the spring.
Pray it goes smoothly.
I am so pleased they are coming to our diocese.

After 10 months of careful deliberation, the Benedictine monks of St Augustine’s Abbey in Ramsgate, have voted to purchase the Franciscan Friary at Chilworth, Surrey, as their new home.

On 15 October last year, the Community of eleven monks announced their decision to vacate the monastery on the Kent coast which has been their home for 149 years, and to relocate to smaller premises. Only four months after taking that decision, their brief initial search for a new property came to an end when the Order of Friars Minor made public their own similar decision to leave their Victorian Friary on the outskirts of Guildford, and suggested that the building might be suitable for the Benedictines of Ramsgate.

For almost 120 years Chilworth Friary, a Grade 2 listed building designed by Frederick Walters and constructed in 1892, has served as the Franciscans’ Novitiate house, a place of studies for the training of new entrants to the Order. As a purpose-built religious dwelling with its own church and cloister, it seems an ideal location for a monastic Community.

Fr Michael Copps OFM, Minister Provincial of the Friars Minor, commented: “One of the most difficult things I have had to do as Provincial was to come to the decision that we could no longer sustain our house at Chilworth. Most of the Friars in the Province started their religious life there, and have fond memories of a monastic building that managed to be homely, with a beautiful church set in woods on the top of a hill. I had been thinking with horror that it might become a hotel or health spa, until I was shown the information on the Internet that the Ramsgate Benedictines had decided that they had to leave Ramsgate and look for a smaller monastery.

Reading their ‘wish list’ for the place they were looking for, I saw that Chilworth ticked nearly all the boxes. We see it as providential that it is going to continue as a building housing men dedicated to seeking God’s will in living the monastic life. St Francis found shelter in a Benedictine Monastery at the beginning of his calling. Though the Friars are sad, it is good to be helping the Ramsgate Benedictines continue their life in a new home.”

Dom Paulinus Greenwood OSB, Abbot of Ramsgate, concurred saying: “We have been extremely fortunate in finding a suitable new home within such a relatively short period of time, and will always be grateful to the Franciscans for alerting us to the availability of their Friary. Since making the difficult decision to move from Ramsgate just over a year ago, we have been encouraged and supported by the goodwill, prayers and benefactions of many people, and we do not forget them. We feel that this is God’s will for our Community at this time, and hope to forge ahead in the coming months to re-establish our monastic life and witness in this beautiful, tranquil setting.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Becket: The hooly blisful martir

According to the Ordo today is the "optional commemoration" of St Thomas Becket the Patron of the English Pastoral Clergy, how sad his memory has been laid aside so easily.
Chaucer reminds us of the centrality he had in the Medaeval Chuirch for the faithful
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
The destruction of every image of Thomas in the country, the erasure of his name from the Missal was one of the first marks of Henry VIII's break from Rome.
Pray today for the English clergy: bishops, priests and deacons.

As a mark of devotion you could watch Becket, which is Youtube here in 15 parts.

Polish Vestments from Zygzak

Zygzak the Polish vestment house sent me their catalogue, their vestments have available for some time in Britain, I have never bought directly from them but their vestments are good quality.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ambrosian "Hodie in Bethlehem puer natus est"

I found this on Youtude, it is Ambrosian Chant, of which I know little. If you share my ignorance you might find this by the clip's poster micrologus2 useful:
Ambrosian chant (also known as Milanese chant) is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Ambrosian rite of the Roman Catholic Church, related to but distinct from Gregorian chant. It is primarily associated with the Archdiocese of Milan, and named after St. Ambrose much as Gregorian chant is named after Gregory the Great. It is the only surviving plainchant tradition besides the Gregorian to maintain the official sanction of the Roman Catholic Church.
Ambrosian chant is largely defined by its role in the liturgy of the Ambrosian rite, which is more closely related to the northern "Gallic" liturgies such as the Gallican rite and the Mozarabic rite than the Roman rite. Musically, however, Ambrosian chant is closely related to the Gregorian and Old Roman chant traditions. Many chants are common to all three, with musical variation.
Like all plainchant, Ambrosian chant is monophonic and a cappella. In accordance with Roman Catholic tradition, it is primarily intended to be sung by males, and many Ambrosian chants specify who is to sing them, using phrases such as cum Pueris (by a boys' choir) and a Subdiaconis (by the subdeacons).
Stylistically, the Ambrosian chant repertoire is not generally as musically uniform as the Gregorian. Ambrosian chants are more varied in length, ambitus, and structure. Even within individual categories of chant, Ambrosian chants vary from short and formulaic to prolix and melismatic, and may be freely composed or show significant internal melodic structure. Its most distinctive feature compared with other plainchant repertories is a significantly higher amount of stepwise motion, which gives Ambrosian melodies a smoother, almost undulating feel. In manuscripts with musical notation, the neume called the climacus dominates, contributing to the stepwise motion. More ornamental neumes such as the quilisma are nearly absent from the notated scores, although it is unclear whether this reflects actual performance practice, or is simply a consequence of the relatively late musical transcription.
The Gregorian system of modes does not apply to Ambrosian chant. Although there are no b-flats indicated in the musical notation, it seems likely that they were understood, based on Guido d'Arezzo's description of the "more perdulcis Ambrosii."
Nearly all of the texts used in Ambrosian chant are biblical prose, not metrical poetry, despite Ambrose having introduced Eastern hymnody to the West. Ambrosian chant serves two main functions in the Ambrosian liturgy: to provide music for the chanting of the Psalms in the monastic Offices, and to cover various actions in the celebration of the Mass.
And here is something even more esoteric: A Mozarabic Gloria.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Urbi et Orbi


Hodie Christus natus est:

Hodie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

by Jacobus Gallus Carniolus a 16th Cent Slovenian composer
Performed : Chanticleer

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy and Blessed Christmas
to all the readers of this blog,
if you are a member of this parish a special thanks for putting up with mess and disorder in the Church over the last few months without complaint.
May God bless you keep always.

Pope on Today

Here is the Pope's Thought for the Day on BBC's "Today Programme", it is at 1:48

What I thought was even more interesting was a very surreal interview with Archbishop Longley, it was almost paradigm of how English Church seems to work. Humphries was asking him some very real questions about adherence to the Catholic Faith, whether people accepted or rejected the Church's teaching on such issues as abortion, contraception women priests and homosexuality and the Archbishop kept going on about Newman and the development of doctrine, speaking about the Church changing and adapting to the times.
What he seemed incapable of saying is that the Church proclaims the Gospel which is unchanging and counter-cultural, it offers the Truth "which the world cannot accept".

Towards the end of the programme was a much more spirited interview with Christina Odone and Polly Toynbee, this was obviously meant to be cat-fight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Cardinal on IPlayer

I have always want to see this film, I put a little Youtube clip up and one commenter said it was being shown on the Beeb, well it should be up for the next week so watch here! Or you could keep it for Christmas.
Oh for the days when Holywood presented priests as manly, heroic and admirable - how times have changed!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Syllabus infallibly condemning "the misinterpretation of the Vatican Council II"

The Blessed Pope John XXIII said that there had been enough condemnation, Vatican II would issue none and that despite issuing Dogmatic Constitutions the Council was actually a "Pastoral" Council.

I suppose what he meant was that we were expected to read the documents rather than a summary, which in the case of VII didn't exist, in a series of condemnations, which every previous Council had produced.
The Vatican Council produced some wonderful documents especially on the Word of God, identifying what we mean by inspiration and the relationship of the Bible and Tradition, and the Church, which speaks so eloquently about the necessity of the Catholic Church and its relationship to other churches and ecclesial bodies.
The reat problem with VII is that it can be read both as continuity and rupture with the Catholic Church, Gaudium et Spes can for example be seen to contradict Lumen Gentium and because so many of the documents are lengthy and dense it is easy to read short phrases out of context. Following the Council many "enthisiasts" like Annabile Bugnini seemed to take charge of the interpretation of the Council, putting a gloss on it that would appear to be totally a variance with what the Council Fathers had intended.

Last week, at a conference organised by the Friars of the Immaculate in Rome Bishop Athanasius Schneider called for a "Syllabus infallibly condemning "the misinterpretation of the Vatican Council II".
Because, according to Bishop Schneider, only the supreme magisterium of the Church (the Pope or a new ecumenical council) may correct the abuses and errors arising from the Council and correct its understanding and its reception in the light of Catholic tradition. Responding to a request for clarification, he caused the scholarly gathering to burst out laughing by stating that it was not possible to convene a council for another 500 years. It is left therefore, to the supreme magisterium of the Pope. Hence his call for a new Syllabus that would list the condemned errors side by side with their orthodox interpretations.

Already this seems to have been one of the objects of this Papacy, and the work of Joseph Ratzinger previously. It began in 2000 with the publication of Dominus Jesus and has continued with constant clear teaching of the "hermeutic of continuity", notably in his address to the Curia in 2005.

Though I doubt we will ever have a document which states it is an "infallible" syllabus, the talks to reconcile the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X are likely to result in something approximating Mgr Schneider's hoped for syllabus.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What do you do in the Eucharistic Prayer?

In "The Sprit of Liturgy" the Pope speaks of the Eucharistic Prayer as "being in crisis". I must say being a regular celebrator of both forms of the Roman Rite, the crisis is in the Novus Ordo and especially when celebrated versus populum.
In the usus antiquior the silence shouts "PRAYER", in the usus recentior celebrated ad orientem there is a strong indication prayer is taking place but when it is celebrated facing the people, well, I am not sure what is going on and what the people are meant to do, I must confess I don't know what our !st Communion children are taught to do in the Eucharistic Prayer.

What do you do during the Eucharistic Prayer?
Do you join the priest in saying the Eucharistic Prayer? I am told in some liberal parishes priests encourage people to join in, even here some people follow the prayer in their missals, a few even move their lips.
Do you just wait for the priest to finish - not sure what to do? This seems to be why most priests opt for the short and quick EP2.
Do you say your own prayers? It always strikes me as a bit rude to deliberately pray about something else when the priest is addressing God.

In "The Sprit of Liturgy" the Pope speaks about returning to silent Eucharistic Prayer, or saying it silently but announcing in some way key words. In Britain on his visit he used Latin, which in most people's minds is bit like silence with sound and people commented on the profound sense of prayer.

The Eucharistic Prayer should be the moment of profound intercession for the Church, the world, salvation, mission. The answer is presumably a return to celebrating ad orientem and in silence.

Fr Mark Kirby gives 10 reasons for celebrating ad orientem:

1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is experienced as having a theocentric direction and focus.
2. The faithful are spared the tiresome clerocentrism that has so overtaken the celebration of Holy Mass in the past forty years.
3. It has once again become evident that the Canon of the Mass (Prex Eucharistica) is addressed to the Father, by the priest, in the name of all.
4. The sacrificial character of the Mass is wonderfully expressed and affirmed.
5. Almost imperceptibly one discovers the rightness of praying silently at certain moments, of reciting certain parts of the Mass softly, and of cantillating others.
6. It affords the priest celebrant the boon of a holy modesty.
7. I find myself more and more identified with Christ, Eternal High Priest and Hostia perpetua, in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary, beyond the veil, before the Face of the Father.
8. During the Canon of the Mass I am graced with a profound recollection.
9. The people have become more reverent in their demeanour.
10. The entire celebration of Holy Mass has gained in reverence, attention, and devotion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Intellectuals Needed!

Roald Dahl's daughter trying her vocation

Her story is here.
I am not too keen on making a great thing about anyones "trying" their vocation but what God has done for her so far is certainly something to celebrate - pray for her.
At the moment her vocation isn't to be a nun but simply to see if God and her convent want her - to be open to God's will.

Notre Dame d'Afrique

Notre Dame d'Afrique, the cathedral of 99% Muslim Algiers has re-opened after 5 years restoration.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Family: the basis for World Peace

John Smeaton highlights some passages in Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 44th World Day of Peace, which will be observed on New Year's Day, in it the Pope emphasises that the family is the basis for world peace.

"The family...finds its place here as the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children ... Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture. The family, the first cell of human society, remains the primary training ground for harmonious relations at every level of coexistence, human, national and international ..."

It is interesting that the commandment "Honour your father and mother" ends with the promise, "and you will live long in the land". The inference there is family gives us social stability. Social stability is necessary for peace.
Does it really follow broken, fractured unstable families lead to broken, fractured unstable? It is logical but is it so in fact? I must admit I think the world will be in precarious situation when Chinese men outnumber women by so 20% in the next 50 years. War seems the only historical answer to such a surfeit of men.

Cheer me up!

Following my post on the commercialise of Santa Claus and being truthful with children, one or two people accused me of Scrooginess and being an old misery, if it was you, you are most probably right! Yes, maybe I am being a bit self indulgent too.

This morning we discovered we had a robbery, nothing even worth contacting the police about, a couple of bits of silver and silverplate disappeared from the dining room , some of it had sentimental value and from the parish office a cash box containing £10 and some keys, which will have to be replaced and most importantly a years worth of receipts for our Parish Centre,  it is the irritation and nuisance not the value! At the moment the house has workmen from the church cleaning out asbestos having their tea breaks in the kitchen, there are also refugees cooking a Christmas lunch there. Earlier we had some rough sleepers in, we opened up the Parish Centre for them last night, so anyone could have done it.

The Church is a mess, it is dusty, there is electrical equipment all over the place waiting for asbestos to be removed before it can be installed, there is an "airlock" at the back of the church, a huge hydraulic lift in front of the Lady Chapel, in front of that there is scaffolding tower and in front of the Lady Altar itself are brackets for the lighting. The new lighting system should have been completed today, all this stuff should have been finished with, now it looks as though it is going to carry on until Candlemas.
There is no room for Christmas decorations at the moment, I don't even know if we can erect the crib and it looks as though the number of people unable to get into the Church during our late morning Mass and Polish Mass will be excessive and because of the unexpected work our bank account is leaking money like an old sieve.
So taking a leaf out of the great Fr Z's book: anyone got any good news?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Nuncio

The Nuncio to Moscow, Archbishop Antonio Mennini is the new Papal Nuncio to Great Britain. So Damian says.
He was appointed the first Nuncio to Moscow in July this year - interesting, eh?

He seems to be younger than our previous Nuncios someone on his way up rather than his way to retirement.

Blast from the Past: the political Jesus

There is blast from the past in the New Statesman this week, an article by Mehdi Hasan: What would Jesus do?
In the 70s we used to try and make Jesus fit in with our personal political ideologies, ultimately making him in our own image likeness. I know Catholics do it, but it is essentially a Protestant sport, using his words as a proof text to support banker bashing, the NHS or whatever.

The glory of Catholicism is that we can live with paradox and have to in order to safeguard the unity of the Church. It is the same Christ who inspired the hermit to live in the cleft of the rock and the prince bishop to reform his diocese or the king to legislate justly or the parent to provide for his child. Catholicism teaches a Christ who always calls to do more but ultimately to enter into a relationship with him. Our reading of the Bible is not find words to defeat our enemies or bolster our opinions but to enter into Communion with him: not so much taking the Divine to ourselves but allowing Him to Divinise us and through us the world.
Yes justice, truth, integrity, are part of the message but at the heart is love of God and our neighbour, a reaching beyond the imprisonment of self to the other.

Sacking of Archiepiscopal Palace in Vienna

I know this is a clip of the sacking of Cardinal Initzer's palace in Vienna but does anyone know what film it is from?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

He doesn't exist!

I don't think I have ever believed in Father Christmas or Santa Claus or that stuff: for the most part I suspect children pretend to believe in the expectation that confirming their parents in the story somehow affects the outcome of the Christmas presents.
Telling children untruths perhaps convinces them that adults' words should always be subject to reason. That being said I have always avoided saying outright, "He doesn't exist!" out of fear of becoming the loonie vicar who is always quoted in the papers at this time of year.
In my bah humbugness I took some pleasure in reading this story about an Argentinian Archbishop who denounce Santa Claus as being a lackey of commercialism!
As a Catholic I appreciate that Santa Claus is a corruption of St Nicholas but then he is also a conglomeration of Odin, the Jack Froste, 19th Cent. Mummery, Holywood and the invention of a few New York ad agencies.
Though we do not want kindergartens of howling children complaining "Father has ruined my Christmas", I think we Catholics ought to avoid implicating ourselves in deliberately deceiving children, just incase they see the Incarnation as being equally untrue.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

London Defies Banning Christmas

The Councell haveing received severall Informations that there was avery wilfull &; strict observation of the day com[m]only called Christmasse day throughout the Cittyes of London & Westm[inster] by agenerall keeping of their shops shut up and that there were Contemptuous speeches used by some in favour thereof, which the Councell conceiveing to be upon the old grounds of superstition and malignancy and tending to the avowing of the same and Contempt of the present Lawes and governm[en]t have thought fit that the Parlam[en]t be moved to take the same into Consideration for such further provisions and penaltyes for the abolishing & punishing of those old superstitions observations and meeting w[i]th such malicious contradiction of offenders in that behalfe as their wisedomes shall iudge fit, They have likewise received informations of frequent resort unto and exerciseing of the idolatrous masse in severall places to the great dishono[u]r of Almightie God, notorious breach of the lawes and scandal of the governm[en]t wherein according to notice given they have already taken some Course and desire the parlam[en]t will be pleased to take that matter alsoe into their Consideration for further remedies & suppression of that Idolatrie in such way as to them shall seeme meet.
It is Oliver Cromwell, complaining about Christmas on Tea at the Trianon, I just thought it was interesting: thank God Catholics can't be Puritans!

Thoughts on Hope

Paul, the Whistle has been cogitating on Hope.
For Christians hope is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, already God's promises are fulfilled and will be fulfilled. Hope tells us that God will triumph.

It strikes me that the great problem for Catholics is not so much a crisis of Faith but a crisis of Hope, a sense that the world is not under God's control, that his promises will not be fulfilled, that the flock has been deserted.
Most significantly the crisis of Hope shows itself in the lack of an impetus for Mission. Here is the connection between Faith and Hope most clearly spelt out, the great missioners from the time of the Apostles onwards had Faith in the message of Salvation they had to proclaim, Hope gave them courage to proclaim it, to risk everything, even failure and to realise the supreme value of doing so.

Hope gives Faith traction. Liberalism saps Faith of Hope and renders Faith as something “notional”. So many in the Church would claim to be able to sign up to everything the Council of Trent said about the Eucharist but unless our believe drives us to our knees in the belief that as unworthy we are, that the mere saying of the word by the Lord is transforming and healing, that Faith is merely “notional”, ultimately merely a good idea. Hope drives us to a realistic expectation of this healing for ourselves and for others, it gives us the expectation that God will act, that God is on our side and with us. Likewise Baptism, it is fine believing what the Church teaches but what is that gives us the impetus to “Go out to the whole world and baptise ...”?

Advent offers us similar readings to the ones presented in the pre-Advent period, the difference is the spirit in which we read them. In Advent we read them not in dread of judgement but in expectation that our Saviour is coming soon. Hope-lessness takes away our enthusiasm even to speak about Salvation, it eats away at the Gospel, at the sacraments and the priesthood too.

Hope is perfectly expressed expressed in the Magnificat:
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

New portrait of the Pope

Michael Triegel,  a Leipzig artist has produced a new portrait of the Pope, apparently without a single sitting.
Isn't that clever!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The First International Conference on Eucharistic Adoration

Where would you get to hear the following speak on the Eucharist over three days?
Cardinal Francis ARINZE, Emeritus Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship
Cardinal Raymond BURKE, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Vatican City
Cardinal Antonio CAÑIZARES LLOVERA, Prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship
Cardinal Malcolm RANJITH, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship
Cardinal Mauro PIACENZA, President of the Congregation for the Clergy, Vatican City
Cardinal Peter TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace, Vatican City
Bishop Giovanni D’ERCOLE, Auxiliary Bishop of L’Aquila, Italy
Bishop D. José Ignacio MUNILLA - Bishop of San Sebastian, Spain
Bishop Dominique REY, Bishop of the Diocese of Frejus-Toulon, France
Bishop Athanasius SCHNEIDER, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan
Fr Nicolas BUTTET, Founder of the Eucharistein Community, St-Maurice, Switzerland
Fr Mark KIRBY, Prior of the Diocesan Benedictine Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Fr Florian RACINE , Founder of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, Sanary, France
Mother Adela GALINDO, Foundress of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, USA
Sr. Joseph, Missionaries of Charity, Calcutta, India
The answer:
The First International Conference on Eucharistic Adoration
The Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon, France, Msgr Dominique Rey, today announced a major international conference on Eucharistic Adoration to take place in Rome from June 20-23, 2011.

Organised by the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist, a new community founded by Bishop Rey in 2007, the conference brings together a wide range of international speakers, including seven prominent Cardinals.

“The first condition for the new evangelisation is adoration,” Bishop Rey said. “We must regain the ability to adore Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist if we are to bring the men and women of the twenty-first century to faith in Jesus Christ. This is one of the key themes of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI,” he emphasised, “which is why we are taking this initiative.”

Adoratio 2011 will include fourteen conferences, workshops, the celebration of Mass in the new and older forms, all-night adoration and the divine office. Approximately 300 resident participants are expected, with more due to attend on a daily basis. Simultaneous translation services will be provided in the main languages.

The conference will conclude by joining with Pope Benedict in his celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran and the Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major that follows.

Fr Florian Racine, founder of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist and the principal organiser, stated: “We are confident that this conference will make an important contribution to the new springtime of Eucharistic adoration that is so dear to the heart of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict. We are humbled by the many people who have already given so much to make this conference something far better than we ever dared to hope it could be. Adoratio 2011 already promises to be an important international event in the life of the Church in 2011.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leaving the Church

Here Fr Barron speaks about people leaving the Church.
So many people regard the Catholic Church as just being one amongst many; a denomination. People seem to fell free to be part of it or not, to practice as Catholics or Anglicans or Charismatic Evangelicals, or not to practice at all. There is casualness about practice. So many liberal Catholics seem to see the Church as being something they can reshape, whereas fo most people it doesn't matter whether one belongs to it or not.
thanks to CM

Petition for Asia Bibi

Please sign the this:-
Petition by Wilson Chowdhry Vice Chairman of the "British Pakistani Christian Association"

Asia Bibi an innocent Christian woman caught up in the injust and unequal society of Pakistan has been given an historical death sentence (by hanging) from the Sheikupura Court of Pakistan. The malevolent Blasphemy Law of Pakistan is a constant threat to people from minority faiths residing in Pakistan.

The BPCA calls for the British Government to urge the president of Pakistan to act by bringing an anullment to this unjust legal decision.

We urge the UK Pakistani Embassy to seek justice for this victim and to urge a repeal of the judicial decision by President Zirdari. We express our complete horror that such a decision has caused turmoil and perplexity to an innocent mother and her family

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Benedictine Altar Arrangement is a bit silly!

 NLM has these two pictures of the "Benedictine altar arrangement" in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Cathedral of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.
It is the same arrangement we adopt here on Sundays and Solemnities: six candles with a crucifix facing the priest on the edge of a forward facing altar, outside of Mass and during the Liturgy of the Word it works reasonably well, it restores the form of a Catholic altar, it gives focus and perspective to a church.

However for me it is problematic: the doubling of crucifixes, one for the people and one for the priest seems a bit silly; which one is venerated at the beginning of Mass, which is incensed?

In this illustration taken from the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the crucifix, the image hides the Blessed Sacrament the Reality. It also hides the priest when he is behind the altar, the arrangement here looks as though it will hide the Blessed Sacrament itself at the elevation and the candlesticks seem to form a screen hiding the priest from the people.

It strikes me that the "Benedictine arrangement" is temporary, a transition from the "desk arrangement"of stumpy candles on either end of a table with a crucifix behind on which the priest turns his back, or worst still the "Italian desk arrangement" candles at one end crucifix at the other with a few flowers designed to frame the priest.

The "Benedictine arrangement" is certainly an improvement, it at least makes the altar look like an altar but the next step is to turn the arrangement around to put candlesticks not on the altar but a gradine behind it, to remove the superfluous second crucifix so that priest and people venerate the same image and for the priest to stand on the same side of the altar as the rest of mankind facing the altar together.

It is interesting that in Spirit of Liturgy the Pope writes a great deal about facing East but falls short of saying definitively we should face East but is only the brave or eccentric priest who dares do it.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Immaculate Conception is Pro-Life

One of things that the declaration of the Immaculate Conception did was end the centuries old debate. Sts Bernard, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas were on the losing side but so too were those who claimed like Aristotle and many Jews and Muslims that the humanising or ensoulment of a person happened sometime after conception. The Immaculate Conception is a pro-Life doctrine, Orthodox who believe that Mary is Immaculate but not from the moment of conception tend to believe in a later or progressive ensoulment, which is presumably why the Orthodox Christians are not as committed to Pro-Life issues as Catholics or Evangelicals.

I can't help, being a little cynical thinking that the infallible definition of the Immaculate Conception was a bit of Papal muscle flexing, simply because the doctrine was not believed "always and everywhere" but it is also an illustration part of Divine providentiality that it states that for the Blessed Virgin, and therefore the rest of us, that she became human from the moment of coneption. It was not so important in the 19th century but of great importance in the 20th and 21st century.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Gay couple design their baby

I found this here.
At the heart of all religions is the movement from self to other, it is the basis of the "Great Commandment", it is what Jesus is about. It is also what marriage is about, it is at the heart of what the Church is saying when it teaches about marriage being open to the "gift" of children.
Here a child is seen as an accessory, a commodity, an object fufilling the desires of this couple. What will happen when the child no longer fits in with his parents desires?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Church Open

Good news according to the Health and Safety Executive the church is safe and can be open for Sunday Mass!
Just for my own peace of mind it will be closed when cleaning work in the crypt resumes on Monday.

Pope: Europe wouldn't be Europe without marriage

The Pope received the Hungarian ambassador during the week, he had some very important things to say on marriage.

"Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples," the Pontiff affirmed.
He noted that "marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between man and woman and, at the same time, as basic cell of the state community, has also been molded by biblical faith."
"Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it," the Holy Father said.

On the other hand, the Pope added, it is "because of the different types of union which have no foundation in the history of the culture and of law in Europe."
"The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family," he stated.

"These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the natural law and, hence, to the relativization of the whole of legislation, in addition to the awareness of values in society," the Pontiff said.
Thus he affirmed that "the Holy See notes with interest of the efforts of the political authorities to elaborate a change in the constitution," which would "make reference in the preamble to the legacy of Christianity."

The Holy Father added, "Also desirable is that the new constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life."
He asserted, "Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed."
"We all know how much risk marriage and the family run today," Benedict XVI acknowledged.
He explained that on one hand, these are at risk "because of the erosion of its most profound values of stability and indissolubility, because of a growing liberalization of the right of divorce and of the custom, increasingly widespread, of man and woman living together without the juridical form and protection of marriage."
John Smeaton contrasts his words with the EngCath presentation:
•Archbishop Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, who said on BBC TV that he did not know "whether the Catholic church should one day accept the reality of gay partnerships"

•Archbishop Nichols who said on BBC TV, the day after Pope Benedict left Britain for Rome, that the Catholic Bishops of Conference of England and Wales "did NOT oppose gay civil partnerships, we recognised that in English law there might be a case for those. We persistently said that these are not the same as marriage"

•Bishop McMahon, the bishop of Nottingham, who is open to headteachers of Catholic schools being in same sex unions and who says the Church is not opposed to civil partnerships (Bishop McMahon is chairman of the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales)

•Archbishop Nichols who, questioned about his support for the provision of Masses for homosexuals who openly dissent from Catholic teaching, told those who oppose what's going on to "hold their tongue".

When News Isn't News

Diogenes brought a little smile to my face with this: I suspect he had the New York Times in mind but it could apply to the Times, Guardian, Independant or the BBC.
Act I, Scene I: The newsroom of a major metropolitan daily

Reporter: Hey, boss! We’ve got a story here. Says the Pope might have allowed a priest who was accused of abuse to work in a parish while he was Archbishop of Munich. What should we do with it?

Editor: Did the Pope personally assign the priest to parish work?

Reporter: No; his vicar general did.

Editor: Did the Pope know about it?

Reporter: No evidence of that.

Editor: Did the Pope know this priest at all?

Reporter: No evidence.

Editor: Did this priest abuse other kids while the Pope was there?

Reporter: No evidence of that either.

Editor: What the heck. So we don't have all the details. Still, if the Pope was soft on abuse, that's news. Let’s splash it across the front page anyway.

Act I, Scene II: The same newsroom

Reporter: Hey, boss! Another story about the Pope. Seems that he didn’t laicize a priest from Milwaukee who was accused of abuse.

Editor: Was the Pope responsible for laicizing this priest?

Reporter: No; the local archbishop had the authority to do it.

Editor: Did the Pope stall the disciplinary process?

Reporter: No; the local archdiocese waited 40 years to do anything about it.

Editor: Did this priest abuse other kids after the Pope decided against laicization?

Reporter: No, he was old and sick by then. He died a few months later.

Editor: What the heck. So we don't have all the details. Still, if the Pope was soft on abuse, that's news. Let’s splash it across the front page anyway.

Act I, Scene III: The same newsroom

Reporter: Hey, boss! Here’s a different story on the Pope. Says that he was pushing for tougher disciplinary action against abusive priests.

Editor: Was this recently?

Reporter: No; way back in 1988.

Editor: You mean back when all the other bishops were hiding these abusers, he was trying to get rid of them?

Reporter: That’s what the documents say.

Editor: So he was really leading the charge against abuse all along?

Reporter: Looks that way.

Editor: OK. No big deal. So the Pope wasn't soft on abuse? Who ever said he was? Put it on page 17.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Our Lady for Sale

Gorringes one of the local auction houses has this rather splendid statue of Our Lady of Lourdes for sale, at over 6ft it is a bit too big for our Church, but maybe some parish priest somewhere...

I hate seeing "holy things" up for sale, there are a few other ecclesiastical bits and bobs in the following lots, I rather fancy those candelabra, lot 52 and 53, they would look splendid between the big six, apart from them being too expensive we have enough candlesticks, really. It is such an eclectic mix, it looks as if they came from a Anglican clergyman's chapel. There is nice painted altar.
In the paintings section there are a few icons, over estimated, I suspect, and some certainly misnamed.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Torn between Peter and the Local Bishop

I was a bit afraid of putting up a link to an article by Dominic Scarborough who I like a great deal and for whom I have a great deal of respect for him, it deals with tensions between the Bishop's Conference and Rome.
This is how Fr Tim summarises it:
Dominic Scarborough has written an article for Catholic World Report Outside the Magic Circle which is subtitled "Tension builds between the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and orthodox Catholics." He looks at the way in which the BCEW presents a common front on every issue, the ostracism of Bishop O'donoghue, the Soho Masses, the designation of "Taliban Catholics", and the response to Summorum Pontificum. It is an interesting article in that we all know this stuff but having it set out clearly in Catholic World Report is a step forward
For my part, because their works and actions are so secret I never know quite what the Bishops as a Conference are saying and doing, and what Ecclesdon Square and the CES are doing and saying in their name.

Una Voce have published, or maybe it has been leaked, their report on Summorum Pontificum which was prepared for the Pope and presented to Cardinal Canizares an abridged version of its special report sent by its presidency to the Holy Father on the third anniversary of Summorum Pontificum. The section dealing with British Hierarchies makes interesting reading, there is praise but on the whole it is pretty sad. It speaks of priests being intimidated, the desires of the laity being ignored and the wishes of the Pontiff being frustrated.
Again there seems to be quite a gulf between the Bishops and Rome, and consequently priests and laity who support their own reading of what Rome is saying feel a distance from their own diocesan bishop or local episcopal conference.

The bishops are not the Pope's altar boys, it is not their role simply to slavishly implement every directive that comes from the Holy See. The Pope is the servant not the master of the Church. Since the Apostle Paul's rebuking Peter to his face there is a necessary tension within the Church.

However, Paul always seeks communion with Peter. The problem for many traditionally minded Catholics is that there is a sense in which they are torn between loyalty to Peter and their local bishop. The post VII debate about the standing of the local Church and the universal Church characterised by the very public conversation between Kaspar and Ratzinger was more or less settled by the 2005 conclave in which the Cardinals elected the latter to the throne of Peter.

The problem today is that we hear Peter more clearly than the local bishop. We know what the Pope teaches and we trust his authority often much more than we know what our own local bishops teach and so often it is too easy to dismiss local bishops teaching as "merely personal opinion", often because it is merely that, rather than being deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.

The exraordinary thing about the Catholic Church is that what holds us in communion with it is nothing more than Love, ultimately, here is the Mystery of the Church, an affection between individuals. It is a familial realationship symbolised by the bishops ring is bridegroom to his Church and Father to his clergy and people. If a bishop lacks the personal qualities of affection and concern for his priests and people, communion with him suffers, similarly if he appears to lack affection for those things his people hold dear, like God or the deposit of Faith, for example.

It is certainly difficult for people to have affection for an anonymous committee such as an episcopal conference; it is perhaps easier today to love the Pope and to be in communion with him because, through the media, we know him. The old scholastic adage, "one cannot love what one does not know" is as true of bishops as it is of God or one's spouse.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bad News: Church Closed!

We are going to have to closed the church for the next few days by order of the Health and Safety Executive whilst we get rid of the asbestos the accursed workmen disturbed in the crypt.

I can understand why some priests turn to drink or worst! It times like this one when feels particularly alone.

We are going to have to have to have Mass in our Parish Centre over the weekend, how we do it I don't know, it is going to be quarts into pint pots.

During the week there will only be Mass at 10am in the Parish Centre, there will be no Friday evening Mass and to be on the safe side the Missa Solemnis on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is cancelled.
If you come here on Sundays try and go elsewhere.
Say a prayer God will speed the work.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Enculturation in Colombo: Cardinal Ranjith Returns

The only time I have ever met the now Cardinal Malcolm Rajith he was speaking about "enculturation", saying that it was important in Asia to get away from western concepts and that bowing and prostration even crawling on one's hands and knees were very much part of many Asian cultures. He was also suggested bishop's using cds and tapes, in the US even videos, for pastoral letters was seriously unliturgical!

Therefore I was delighted to see this marvellous piece of eculturation  to welcome him back to Colombo, I would have preferred a scarlet elephant, but I am just a trad.
read more here
see more here

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Benedictine Nuns of Notre Dame de L'Annonciation

Video of The Benedictine Nuns of Notre Dame de L'Annonciation on their new album Voices Of Avignon, available from Amazon.

Abuse: the problem is Ecclesiological

The Pope attributes the present state of Catholic Liturgy to a disregard for the Liturgy as "a given" and the same could be said for the state of confusion in catechesis.
The Pope has been urging bishops and priests to return to "doing the red and saying the black" - basically following the rules. It is interesting that in Peter Seewald's book the Pope when speaking of the sexual abuse in Ireland he cites the change in ecclesiology being at the root of the problem.
Pope Benedict says: “The Archbishop of Dublin told me something very interesting about that. He said that ecclesiastical penal law functioned until the late 1950s; admittedly, it was not perfect – there is much to criticise about it – but nevertheless it was applied. After the mid-sixties, however, it was simply not applied any more.

“The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather a Church of love: she must not punish . . . This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people.”
Asked by Seewald about the overall impact of the Irish sex abuse crisis, Pope Benedict says: “In Ireland the problem is altogether specific – there is a self-enclosed Catholic society, so to speak, which remained true to its faith despite centuries of oppression, but in which, then, evidently certain attitudes were also able to develop. I cannot analyze that in detail now.
“To see a country that gave the world so many missionaries, so many saints, which in the history of the missions also stands at the origin of our faith in Germany, now in a situation like this is tremendously upsetting and depressing. Above all, of course, for the Catholics in Ireland itself, where now as always there are many good priests.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Monastic News

St Cecilia's on the Isle of Wight have just had another Solemn Profession, Sister Margaret Ross.
Congratulations! According to the Catholic Herald there are a few more on their way.
Sister Elizabeth Burgess, who looks forward to her Solemn Profession next year, Sister Mary Thomas Brown who made her First Profession on October 18 this year, Clara Beards, who entered the Abbey as a postulant in September, and Sister Marie-Therese Dempsey, who received the habit earlier in the year on July 9.

I understand the monks of Ramsgate are still negotiating to take over the Franciscan Friary at Chilworth.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pope v Dalai Lama

Sorry to go on about sex but I thought you might be amused(?) by this vox pop video on the views of the Pope versus the Dalai Lama. h/t ACBP
I am not sure that the Dalai Lama's teaching is his own or the teaching of Tibetan Buddhisms. I am rather sick of people describing the teaching of the Catholic Church as being the Pope's personal teaching.

The Blessed Silence: Christ the Angel

The Temple Gallery, that delightful little icon gallery in Holland Park sent me their catalogue for their Christmas exhibition. I am fascinated by these two icons of "The Blessed Silence". Although this seems to be a particularly Russian devotion, there is in the ancient Roman Canon the reference to the Angel who takes "this offering to Your Altar in Heaven". Presumably the same scripture references support both the icon and the reference in the Canon.
The second icon interestingly shows Christ's heart pierced with instruments of the Passion.

Christ depicted as an angel is based on Isaiah 9:5 who refers to “The Messenger (‘Angelos’) of Great Counsel”. He is the ‘Word in Eternity’ and, according to Coomber in The Icon Handbook, (Springfield Illinois, 1995), the iconography is ‘associated with the Creation and the Plan of Salvation, ordained from Eternity’. Other references from Isaiah are relevant: 42:2 “He shall not...cause his voice to be heard in the streets”; 53:7 “He was afflicted yet opened not his a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth”. Two four pointed stars, one superimposed on the other, are seen within Christ’s halo; their eight points are said to symbolise Eternity and the whole of Creation. (The Octave is the symbol of completion). Christ is clothed as a bishop (cf Hebrews 4:14 “...we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus Christ, Son of God...”. Seraphim, six-winged, bodiless and traditionally red, adorn the upper part of his chest and arms. The Seraphim, according to Dionysios the Areopagite, are the highest order of Angels and stand at the entrance into Paradise. At Christ’s chest is a Cherub, also bodiless and regarded as second in the angelic order. Christ holds the symbols of the Passion and an inscribed scroll: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). On the borders are the Guardian Angel and a female saint.

The subject was introduced into the iconographical canon in Russia in the 16th century. At that time Moscow, which had recently declared itself the Third Rome, was a milieu of intense theological and iconographical activity. (See N.P. Kondakov,The Russian Icon, OUP 1928, Chapter Mystical and Didactic Subjects).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cardinal Burke on the Pope's remarks

Raymond Cardinal  Burke on the Popes remarks on condoms:

I don’t see any change in the Church’s teaching. What [Pope Benedict] is commenting on — in fact, he makes the statement very clearly that the Church does not regard the use of condoms as a real or a moral solution — but what he’s talking about in the point he makes about the male prostitute is about a certain conversion process taking place in an individual’s life. He’s simply making the comment that if a person who is given to prostitution at least considers using a condom to prevent giving the disease to another person — even though the effectiveness of this is very questionable — this could be a sign of someone who is having a certain moral awakening. But in no way does it mean that prostitution is morally acceptable, nor does it mean that the use of condoms is morally acceptable.
The point the Pope is making is about a certain growth in freedom, an overcoming of an enslavement to a sexual activity that is morally repugnant [unacceptable] so that this concern to use a condom in order not to infect a sexual partner could at least be a sign of some moral awakening in the individual, which one hopes would lead the individual to understand that his activity is a trivialization of human sexuality and needs to be changed …
The text itself makes it very clear that he says the Church does not regard it as a real or moral solution. And when he says that it could be a first step in a movement toward a different, more human way of living sexuality, that doesn’t mean in any sense that he’s saying the use of condoms is a good thing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mopping and whinging

Say a prayer!
I know this is a bit self indulgent.

Everything that could go wrong with the project to restore the church seems to have gone wrong in the past week or so and we are quickly running out of money.

We moved some radiators to restore the original width of the central aisle, ever since we have had leaks, last Wednesday I had to cancel Exposition and Benediction and spent a couple of hours mopping up water, then before our Saturday evening Mass another of them started spouting hot water. Bill, the plumber came out and almost fixed it fixed but I still had to get up a couple of times in the night to empty buckets.

The new lighting scheme depends on taking a great wadge of cables from the sacristy at the front of the church wher the electricity comes into the church to the back, we had intended to take it under the floor, tests showed that we have asbestos in the crypt of the church. In 2001 I spent pratically every penny we had and more encapsulating it but it is still a problem.

Most evenings I spend an hour or so in the church mopping tyhe benches to get rid of the dust from the slow, slow process of cleaning off the horrible grey paint for the stone. We clean it off withe a chemical preparation which is then neutralised, afterwards it has to be rubbed down with fine sandpaper. All rather messey!
I really have been self indulgent and feeling sorry for myself, the last week of the liturgical year  is always a bit of sad time, there is my birthday, the day after is the anniversary of my mother's death, the day after that is the anniversary of a very good friend of mine, it is always bit a numbing.

I am not being tortured or imprisoned for the faith, my parishioners can come to Mass freely, I am not in physical pain, I haven't sick or dying children or a spouse to worry about, no one is bombing or threatning us, we are not cleaning up after flood or a disaster.

But if you can spare an Ave or two I would be grateful.

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...