Monday 31 December 2012

Thursday 27 December 2012

Monday 24 December 2012

A Poem for Christmas

New Heaven, New War

Come to your heaven, you heavenly choirs,
Earth hath the heaven of your desires.
Remove your dwelling to your God;
A stall is now his best abode.
Sith men their homage do deny,
Come, angels, all their fault supply.

His chilling cold doth heat require;
Come, seraphins, in lieu of fire.
This little ark no cover hath;
Let cherubs’ wings his body swathe.
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat;
Provide our little Toby meat.

Let Gabriel be now his groom,
That first took up his earthly room.
Let Michael stand in his defence,
Whom love hath linked to feeble sense.
Let graces rock when he doth cry,
And angels sing his lullaby.

The same you saw in heavenly seat
Is he that now sucks Mary’s teat;
Agnize your king a mortal wight,
His borrowed weed lets not your sight.
Come, kiss the manger where he lies,
That is your bliss above the skies.

This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.
Though he himself for cold do shake,
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field;
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.

His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.
St Robert Southwell S.J. (c1561-95)

Friday 21 December 2012

Sister Wendy Loses the Plot

Yes. I am sorry but it is true. Another "Catholic" celebrity bites the dust. Anyone doubting this should check out the Desert Island Discs broadcast on the BBC i-player. What this poor lady fails to recognise is that when God gives someone a particular vocation it is for a particular purpose. In the case of a hermit it may well be to prevent them causing scandal by what they may say or do in public.

Sister Wendy Beckett clearly supports the view that on subjects like abortion, contraception and women priests the Church takes time to adjust- with the obvious implication that the world is right on these matters!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

O Root of Jesse

“Radix Jesse” In art, The Tree of Jesse is a depiction of the Ancestors of Christ (Matt.1.1-25)- a family tree showing descent from Jesse, the father of King David and illustrating the prophecy of Isaiah, “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse…” (Isaiah 1.11). Among its earliest representations in stained glass are those of Abbot Suger’s Saint Denis, near Paris and of the West Front of Chartres Cathedral (12th Century). A very fine example dated 1533, and a remarkable survival, is to be found in the church of St Dyfnog at Llanrhaeadr in Denbighshire. Probably the finest medieval stained glass window in Wales, its two lowest registers shown here, depict at the bottom, the recumbent Jesse from whom the tree sprouts and, above him, the royal figures of David (with harp), Solomon (with temple) and Rehoboam.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Sunday 16 December 2012

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith

Statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith on the government response to the same sex marriage consultation. Archbishop Nichols is President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Archbishop Smith is Vice-President.
The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family. Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.
The government has chosen to ignore the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to stay, and we are told legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament.
We strongly oppose such a Bill. Furthermore, the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today.
We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill.
 My thoughts:
I am not sure how one can express one's views on this subject without impugning the motives of those responsible for this utterly abhorrent  project. What kind of cess-pit of a mind conceives of an equivalence between the depravity of perverts and marriage?

Saturday 8 December 2012

In honour of Our Lady

Psalm Nisi Dominus from Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Claudio Monteverdi(1567-1643). Unless the Lord builds the house in vain do the builders labour!

Monday 3 December 2012

Saturday 1 December 2012

Thursday 29 November 2012

Holy Smokes!

I had my last cigar nearly six years ago. Now I fear I may have given up a practical aid to sanctity - at least if the reports on St Joseph of Cupertino are to be believed!

Saints who smoked, popes who puffed, and others who snuffed.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

A very important video

Thanks to Countercultural Father
This is a very powerful video the main arguments of which seem, to me at least, unanswerable. 

I have never described myself as "Pro-Life". The term seems somewhat woolly to me. Anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia and anti-the-culture-of-death are sharper and more accurate terms. Wars are won by people fighting against something. They also call for courage, strategy and resources.

There is certainly much to reflect upon here.

Sunday 18 November 2012

What the BBC aren't telling you!

Just check this out!

Thousands of people rallied in Paris and across France on Saturday to protest a government bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. March organisers said marriage required "one dad and one mom for every child."

By Charlotte BOITIAUX / Joseph BAMAT 
Opponents of a bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”.
Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organized by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties.

Their stated goal was to persuade French lawmakers to abandon plans to pass the new law called "Marriage and Adoption for All"which is being championed by France's ruling Socialist Party.
In Paris thousands of people gathered in the Denfert-Rochereau square, many brandishing signs that read “one mom and one dad for one child”. The crowds largely respected requests by organisers to wear blue, white and pink clothes and abstain from brandishing the names or colours of their own organizations or political parties.
Organisers said there was between 15,000 and 20,000 people at the protest in the French capital.

From France 24

Saturday 3 November 2012

Notre Dame de Boulogne?

On a flying visit to Boulogne sur Mer back in September I explored the Cathedral. I saw someone I recognised but did not expect to see. "I am sure that is Our Lady of Walsingham", I said. I looked closer and...sure enough, it was
Notre Dame de Walsingham!

Sunday 28 October 2012

In hoc signo vinces

Today, I am reliably informed, is the 1,700th anniversary of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

Friday 21 September 2012

St Matthew

I was struck by the thought, this morning at mass, that, as a tax collector, St Matthew had the right CV for an evangelist: good recording skills! Indeed, whoever heard of a tax man with a bad memory?

Thursday 30 August 2012

Free Rimsha Masih Petition

Please sign the petition for Rimsha Masih, the Pakistani Christian girl with Downs Syndrome, who is being persecuted by Muslims for alleged desecration of a Koranic text here:

Sunday 26 August 2012

Pater Noster

I got an ear-wigging today from a lady who was very upset at our having had the Lord's Prayer sung in Latin at mass. I suppose  the fact that I help out with the music led her to infer that it was my choice. It wasn't but I was more than happy to go along with it. Even my protestation that I had been taken by surprise by the (new) priest's decision did not prevent my getting the brunt of her wrath and so I was hardly prepared to deal with a pile of assertions about it not being fair to the "young people" who "don't do Latin" and felt deprived of being able to say the Our Father. Nevertheless, I managed to point out that Latin had never been "stopped forty years ago", as she put it and  not only did  the holy father himself use it at World Youth day masses but that I  had been at English masses with Latin in several dioceses. The problem here seems to be one of education- essentially Catholics who, even in this modern age of motor cars and interwebnet thingies , hardly venture to mass outside their own parish or attempt to inform themselves about what is going on in the wider Church.

One really good thing, however! The priest concerned did not add "Good Morning, everybody," to the opening dialogue.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Friday 6 July 2012

Thursday 5 July 2012

From Ken Russell's "Elgar"

Between approximately 04.55 and 06.05 may be seen a depiction of Benediction with one of Elgar's settings of the O Salutaris. Although ostensibly representing the composer's early life, in the 19th century, the clergy and servers were among those at St George's, Worcester in 1962 when the film was made. The celebrant, in the impressive gold cope (the parishes best) is Father Arthur Kavanagh S.J. who was Parish Priest at the time. He is assisted by Fr. Jones. This film sequence is of more than ordinary interest to me because all is as I remember it from my youth. Tomorrow, 6th July, will be the fiftieth anniversary of my First Communion which took place on that very sanctuary- in the same year that Russell made his film and, if the certificate I received at the time is to be believed, the celebrant on that occasion was also Fr Kavanagh. I cannot vouch for that, however, as  the priest's signature was the only writing ever inscribed upon it. Also, there were several priests at St George's in those days although the Friday morning mass for the school was usually celebrated by Fr. Thomas Mc Phillips. Friday afternoons, for the school, ended with Benediction much as we see it in the film, except that there were normally only six torchbearers.
I was also delighted at my recent discovery of this clip  because it really does show things as they were in those days before "the barbarians arrived at the gates" although, to be fair, St George's suffered less in reordering than many churches. The original high altar with its reredos and exposition throne remain- so that a fairly full restoration should not be too difficult.

"And with the morn those angel faces smile
which I have loved long since and lost awhile."

Friday 29 June 2012


Please read this and vote against the legalisation of assisted dying!

From "The Hermeneutic of Continuity". Follow the links. The poll is at The Telegraph and the pro-death people appear to be out in front.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Scenes from the life of St John the Baptist

From the choir screen of Amiens Cathedral.
The relic of the reputed head of St John the Baptist appears to have been acquired in the Sack of Constantinople in 1204 and arrived in Amiens in1206.

Saturday 23 June 2012

St John Baptist

From the Cathedral of Amiens in northern France which I visited during my summer holidays last year. 
Top: view into shrine with reliquary holding part of the skull, it is thought, of St John the Baptist. 
Bottom: Detail of iron choir screen with motif of the head of St John the Baptist.

Thursday 21 June 2012

More of St Alban's

While visiting St Albans in May I also managed to snap some of the remains of the medieval paintings on the piers of the nave. Since the Crucifixion features prominently on each of these west facing sides it seems not unlikely that  there were altars below them originally. Before Vatican 2 concelebration was extremely rare and a multiplicity of altars enabled several priests to celebrate mass more or less simultaneously- an important consideration in a monastery where many of the monks would be priests.
On the subject of concelebration: I'm not against it as such- it just seems a waste of priests when by each celebrating individually the numbers of masses could be increased and the opportunities for us laity to attend mass similarly multiplied.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

St Alban

Here is a snap of the shrine of our first martyr, St Alban, which I visited early last month. It is in the former abbey church of St Alban's in Hertfordshire, temporarily an Anglican cathedral.. St Alban was martyred during one of the Roman persecutions, having been apprehended protecting a fugitive priest- an interesting turn of events, given the nature of the Tudor and Stuart persecutions which were to follow more than a millennium later.

Friday 15 June 2012

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

For today's feast I am posting one of the favourite hymns of my youth- with its peerless tune by Sir Richard Terry!

Sunday 3 June 2012

Domine Salvam fac Reginam Nostram...

In honour of HM Queen's Diamond Jubilee I am posting the only example I could find online of the prayer for the Queen which we sang after Sunday Mass in years gone by. I think it got dropped when the Bidding Prayers were introduced c1965. Initially we prayed for the Queen and the government but in most places the prayers became more "woolly" and generalised. The last priest I recall mentioning the sovereign by name died about ten years ago. Small wonder, then, that she has not yet converted. To be fair, she has a bit of a problem in having sworn to uphold the Protestant faith at her coronation. We should start praying for her again so that at her deathbed- which I sincerely hope is a very long way off- she may, like some of her illustrious ancestors, be received into full communion with Christ's Church.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Thursday 17 May 2012


...may we have our Ascension Thursday back?

Another thought: What happened about the bishops of England and Wales consulting upon the restoration of the Solemnities of the Lord to their proper day as holy days of obligation?

Is there anyone out there who has been consulted?

 I haven't.

Just wondering...

Friday 11 May 2012

Supporting Free Speech and Marriage

Thanks to Linen on the Hedgerow, Countercultural Father, Religion Law Blog, LMS Chairman, Catechesis of Caroline and Cranmer.

"I am Spartacus!"

Backing Free Speech

Friday 20 April 2012

On this day seven years ago...

...I was staying in my father's house and, shortly after getting up, I switched on the television. (Television in the morning is something I normally regard as an abomination!) I found the Sky News Channel and they seemed to be showing mass live from the Sistine Chapel with the new Pope and the cardinals. Pope Benedict was preaching and I listened. 
Suddenly it dawned upon me that he was not speaking Italian but LATIN! 
 In my joy I shouted out "Habemus papam! We have a pope...a Catholic pope! We can all be Catholics again!"


Thursday 19 April 2012


I saw this programme and began to realise that the cardinals had done a spiffing job once again in my lifetime!

God Bless our Pope!

(Ignore reference to Scottish Psalter- which relates to another tune for this hymn found in the Westminster Hymnal.)

Tu es Petrus!

Remembering Seven Years Ago

Saturday 14 April 2012

Friday 13 April 2012

Victimae Paschali Laudes 1

A French take on the Victimae Paschali Laudes (Warning: not for the purists!)

Sunday 8 April 2012

Would ya believe it?

From BBC News

"During the Mass, the Pope also baptised eight new converts by pouring water over their bowed heads."

Well, there's a novelty! They obviously use real experts to give the religious news!

A Happy Easter... all my visitors!

Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia

Friday 6 April 2012

Sunday 1 April 2012

Palm Sunday

Gloria laus et honor tibi sit:
Hymn in honour of Christ the King by Theodulph of Orleans proper to the procession of Palm Sunday! Learn it here!

Saturday 31 March 2012

Pueri Hebraeorum


(Worth watching up to about 2.05)

Friday 30 March 2012

"Going Equipped..."

On Tuesday my new CTS Daily Missal arrived and I remain most impressed. With over three thousand four hundred pages it is a pretty hefty tome and  carrying it into mass feels like carrying a house brick or half a breeze block. It occurred to me that I could be like a vandal or a burglar about to inflict some serious damage! "Going equipped", as they say in the police dramas. (As Evelyn Waugh is supposed to have remarked, "Ah, but imagine how much worse I could be if I wasn't a Christian!").
Had the CTS published the Daily Missal back in the Autumn, I'd probably have never bought the Sunday Missal, as I did then- because the Daily Missal includes Sundays and in fact all the material I already have in the Sunday Missal. In fact I am a little puzzled as to why they didn't do what Collins did when they published the Missals for the old translation and simply had a Weekday Missal which duplicated a minimum of material from the Sunday Missal. Nevertheless, I am very happy, not least because of the parallel Latin and English texts of both the mass ordinaries and the Proper texts - apart from the Lectionary material. A major failing of both publications, however, is their neglect to give the people's response to the celebrant's "Good Morning, everybody!" Should it be, perhaps, "Et tibi, Pater,"? Oh, hang on. Is that where I get to throw the book at them?

Wednesday 28 March 2012

"Septimus Wilkinson, bishop of Matabeleland"

The news that a sixth former Anglican bishop has been ordained to the Catholic priesthood is wonderful. It was the discovery that his former charge had been Matabeleland, however, that rang bells for me.
Surely he had an illustrious- if fictitious- pretended predecessor in Louis Manzini, (played by Denis Price), the murderer of the scions of the noble house of D'Ascoyne (all played by Alec Guinness)?

I was unable to embed the following clip but the link is there, for those who wish, to a passage from "Kind Hearts and Coronets" which includes such memorable lines as "My west window has all the exuberance of Chaucer without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period."

Tuesday 27 March 2012

On the Menu at Number Ten

Remember the Tory Party Conference?
People scratched their heads in amazement. What was the logical connection between being a conservative and supporting same-sex marriage?

"I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative," David Cameron said...and now we know why! (Protect the Pope)

Still need a clue? It is the capital letter that gives it away. It is nothing to do with being ideologically or philosophically conservative but with putting the financial interests of the Conservative Party first!

(And some of you were imagining that it was something to do with what had gone on at a certain public school.)

Monday 26 March 2012

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae

Et Verbum caro factus est et habitavit in nobis!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Saturday 24 March 2012

I am puzzled...

...I seem no longer to have the feature allowing me to edit my blog posts.

Thursday 22 March 2012

St Nicholas Owen

Saint Nicholas Owen was a fixer! More about him here and here and here.

Monday 19 March 2012

Latest on the petition!

Over a quarter of a million have now signed the petition in support of marriage.

St Joseph

St Joseph by Georges de la Tour

It seems to me that St Joseph was somewhat more than a mere "workman" or "carpenter". The "old man who dreamed dreams" was something of a "fixer"!
St Joseph, pray for us!

Saturday 17 March 2012

St Patrick

Saint Patrick, pray for us!

Friday 16 March 2012

Save Marriage!

If you haven't done so yet, please sign the Coalition For Marriage petition here

Thursday 15 March 2012

A Conspiracy of Rich Men...

For a long time I have been puzzled by this whole "Gay rights" business. There are clearly a lot of these unfortunate people on television but unlike Poles (God bless them!) one isn't exactly falling over them in Tesco's(- or Sainsbury's, or Asda, or Morrison's, or Lidl or Aldi for that matter). From this one might deduce that they shop in more expensive establishments than I am ever likely to patronise or are wealthy enough to have servants do their shopping. That said, I don't really know anybody with servants- although, like "gays", one does come across such people on the television. Given their exceedingly small numbers, their influence seems to be excessive. The obvious question is "Who benefits?" or, leaving aside these unfortunate individuals, whose interests are served by the provision of "gay rights"? It is not at all clear.

Thanks to Laurence of
"The Bones" something is beginning to emerge and it seems to concern a group of men for whom I confess I have felt a deep and, I think, quite natural sense of loathing: philanthropists. I hope one day to be worthy of the name of "Christian" but God forbid that I should ever be described as a "Philanthropist"!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Tuesday 13 March 2012

How well put!

Thanks to Webmaster Gareth of Catholic and Welsh

Sunday 11 March 2012

A deafening silence.

When, instead of hearing the expected letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith after the Gospel at Mass this morning, I heard a waffley sermon I thought the priest had decided to read it out under "notices" after the Post Communion Prayer. It was not.

Instead there was a vague reference to copies being available at the back of the church. In other words it looked very much to me as if the priest bottled out.

With pastors like this is it any wonder that we are such a miserable shower?

I wonder if anyone else had a similar experience...or did you actually get to hear the letter?

Update: I gather that in one parish in the Wrexham diocese the Parish Priest not only read out the letter but encouraged parishioners to follow his own example and write to David Cameron. A priest in the Shrewsbury diocese apologised to his parishioners saying that he had not received the letter and therefore could not read it to them.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Te Deum Laudamus

A bit OTT?

Well, it is my birthday!

Friday 2 March 2012

Happy Saint Chad's day!

Having greeted the Welsh on their patronal feast day yesterday, I now greet my fellow Mercians! Above the high altar in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of Saint Chad in Birmingham may be seen the reliquary of Saint Chad- designed by none other than yesterday's birthday boy Augustus Welby Northmore etc. etc. Pugin! St Chad was the first bishop of Lichfield back in the seventh century. Mercia was one of the more important Anglo-Saxon kingdoms- subsequently eclipsed by Wessex- its most celebrated king being Offa famed not only for his "Dyke" but as the first English King to send Peter's Pence to Rome.

Update: I see that the Clever Boy has already posted on St Chad.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Happy Birthday, Pugin!

Augustus Welby Northmore - one is tempted to add "and all stations on the Northern Line"_ Pugin is two hundred years old today. The most influential architect and polemicist of the Gothic Revival, he died in 1852 worn out by his very considerable labours and insane. The above illustration served as the frontispiece to one of his books, "An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England" (1843). It depicts many of his churches grouped together in one bird's eye view perspective.

Pugin's essential contribution to the Gothic revival seems to me to have been to recognise the structural logic of Gothic ornamentation. Under his influence what had been a somewhat light and even frivolous fantasy style in its earlier "Strawberry Hill" phase became something much more serious and earnest. Such was his polemical zeal that Blessed John Henry Newman, no less, did not scruple to remark, "Mr. Pugin is a bigot."

To Pugin Gothic alone was the true Christian style of architecture. Like the earlier revivalists, Pugin valued the architecture of the middle ages for its associations. He differed from them in his choice of associations. Here I would suggest that the key difference between Pugin and his admired medieval predecessors was that he was self-consciously designing and building in a style where what they built simply manifested a "style". The frontispiece above clearly shows him as a post-renaissance designer for no medieval architect could have produced, let alone conceived, such a drawing. Perhaps it was as well that he could and it is arguable that Pugin's arrival on the scene was providential. A convert himself, Pugin played a key role in providing architecture for the Catholic Church in England during the stirring years of the "Second Spring" following Emancipation, the period of the Oxford Movement converts, of immigration from Ireland and leading up to the Restoration of the Hierarchy.

In addition to his church work Pugin also provided the gothic designs for the new Palace of Westminster but perhaps his greatest bequest to posterity was the architectural proclamation of the revived Church which was carried on by his son and by other architects like Hansom. A host of churches across the country declared that the Catholic Church was "back in business" in England. The revived medieval style so abruptly halted three centuries earlier by both Renaissance and reformation, I fancy, spoke for the Church and said something like "As we were saying before we were interrupted..."

Happy Saint David's Day !

Compassion- what's that?

Many years ago I heard it suggested that the major fault of the political left was the denial of Original Sin- while that of the right was the refusal to countenance anything else- in others. I do not know how true that is but I do recall the Thatcher government's clearly implied conviction that anyone working in the public service was most likely on the make. Teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, civil servants and government employees of all kinds were a bad lot, lazy and not doing their jobs properly. The "remedy" involved, among other things, tighter supervision, an emphasis upon management, "guidelines", appraisals, new terms of service and a dose of "competition". Now, all of a sudden, there is concern that the elderly are not treated with compassion in the health service! This news came on the day that a court in Scotland showed scant regard for the consciences of midwives working within the NHS.

Thursday 23 February 2012

Funny Old World

"Journalism largely consists of saying 'Lord Jones is Dead' to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive."

At least that was G.K. Chesterton's view. Things have changed somewhat. Nowadays we are informed when a journalist dies. "Each man's death diminishes me..." and all that but....

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Ash Wednesday

Fr Longenecker has a good post here.
"Reasons for Renunciation"

Monday 20 February 2012

Coalition for Marriage Petition

It shouldn't be necessary but, alas, I fear it is. Please find the petition here.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Where do they get these barmy ideas?

I have just read a curious post on Defend Marriage in Scotland concerning the Scottish Young People's Commissioner who wants boys to be allowed to wear skirts to school. What's the problem? I hear you ask. Scotsmen are different. Wearing what- to the rest of us- look like skirts is what they do. Nor do they look any the less manly for it- at least I don't think so. It is not, however, an appeal to the nation's cultural heritage which was the occasion of the commissioner's utterance. He is evidently concerned about those children who suffer on account of their belief in having been "born in the wrong body".

Now in case anyone should think that I am picking on a uniquely Scottish foible I must mention that there was an item on the Midlands television news recently about a child in Worcester suffering from- and clearly indulged in- the same delusion.

I wonder that noone has troubled to ask just one or two obvious questions. Firstly, if indeed it is the wrong body, how did you get into it? And, second, if it is the wrong body, how can surgically- and chemically- produced alterations to that same body make it the right body?

It also seems to me that those medical professionals who carry out such operations are profoundly dishonest. Will a man, who has had "gender reassignment treatment" ever conceive, carry a pregnancy and give birth? At the skeletal level men and women are different. Watch any of the archaeology programmes on television and when bones are discovered an osteo-archaeologist will confidently determine sex on the basis of obvious features. The pelvis, although not exclusively so, is kind of crucial here with the female pelvis being being wonderfully wrought to both cradle the developing baby and allow his/her passage into the outside world. Then there is the question of genes- or chromosomes. Will a man have all his Y chromosomes replaced with X-s? Who knows? Perhaps he will lose the ability to park a car!

That adults should be indulged in such absurd behaviour is bad enough but to encourage it in children is surely one of the worst kinds of abuse.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Catholic Voices Update

I see that Catholic Voices have changed the offending passage quoted earlier. In the interests of fairness- and because, as I have said before, I earnestly wish for the success of the CV project- I am posting the changed passage in full here:

"But in reality, Catholics on campus have nothing to fear. The motion's definition of pro-choice ideology is so narrow and extreme, and its actions so brow-beating and authoritarian, that it will show informed pro-lifers who accept that abortion cannot be prohibited immediately -- including the bishops of England and Wales, who advocate incremental restrictions, but realise that a total ban is currently impossible to achieve -- to be the true advocates of moderate, rational and humane principle."

Had this been posted originally I' d not have been moved to comment. My own view, for what it is worth, is that the incremental approach is highly problematic but I cannot wholly condemn it- because we are discussing real human lives here. Apart from that, the article seems to take a remarkably upbeat, even optimistic, view of the current situation at UCLU- whether it is justified only time will tell. Sadly, fornicators have a solidly vested interest in the provision of easy abortion and, all too often, recognise it.

I pray that God will bless the good efforts of those involved in the Catholic Voices project- and all who speak up for the truth.

Monday 6 February 2012

"Catholic Voices" Catholic?

I have just had a shock. Following a link on the "Auntie Joanna" blog referring to the recent goings on at University College London, I read what was suggested as "a good analysis" of the situation. In its summing up the "Catholic Voices" article contained the following-

"The motion contains no definition of "pro-choice"; if it means simply someone who accepts that abortion should be legal, most Catholics -- including the bishops of England and Wales, who advocate incremental restrictions, but not yet a total ban -- would fit that description."

The suggestion that our bishops would not advocate a total ban on abortion is, as far as I am concerned, unthinkable. It looks like a monstrous lie. God forbid that there should be the slightest possibility of a whisper of truth in it! I am not one to knock our bishops, even if one or two might seem a little odd. Indeed, regarding the "Catholic Voices" project I have tried to overlook what appeared to be the results of occasional ineptitude resulting from inexperience. And I certainly did not want to join with those bashing them from motives of personal pique or on the basis some "party" agenda. This, however, written on their own website- presumably a considered statement- not only flagrantly misrepresents the Catholic position on abortion but slanderously associates our bishops with it.

I ask: are the "Catholic Voices" Catholic?

Saturday 28 January 2012

Morning- Westminster

A view of the nave of Westminster Cathedral- taken after the 7a.m. mass on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25th January 2012. The mass was actually celebrated in St Paul's chapel - off the south aisle. It is usually my custom, when visiting London, to go to the early mass at Westminster in thanksgiving for a safe journey to the big city and, quite simply, because it is one of my favourite places...the House of God...the Gate of Heaven...

Sunday 22 January 2012

Elgar's Church

Fr John Abberton of Stella Maris has an interesting post on "Elgar and other Catholics"
which has given me an excuse to post this snap of St George's, Worcester which I took in October 2010. Elgar was organist at St George's from 1885 until 1889- although he had deputised for his father, who preceded him in the post, from 1872. At his leaving the parish priest, Fr Knight, presented him with a copy of Blessed John Henry Newman's poem "The Dream of Gerontius" as a wedding present. The rest is, as they say, history!

Thursday 19 January 2012

St Wulstan

A view of the crypt of Worcester Cathedral with its elegant Romanesque columns and groined vaulting.
Today is the feast day of St Wulstan who was bishop of Worcester from 1062-95 and who was canonised by Pope Innocent III in 1203. The crypt, shown here, is the most complete survival of the rebuilding of the cathedral undertaken by St Wulstan who, nevertheless, is said to have shed tears at the necessary demolition of the work of his holy predecessors. He was renowned for his pastoral solicitude no less than for his personal holiness. Distracted while celebrating mass by the delicious smell of roasting meat wafting from the monastery kitchen, he resolved never to eat meat again. He was assiduous in visiting his diocese which extended as far south as Bristol- where he intervened to stop the slave trade.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Quote of the day!

"To be Catholic, we must always remain in continuity with the living tradition we have inherited."

Fr. John Boyle of Caritas in Veritate.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Holding fast to hand on

I was recently struck by the very active sense of tradition in the new translation of the Eucharistic Prayer I - the Roman Canon. Consider the old translation here:

"We offer them for your holy catholic Church, watch over it, Lord, and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for Benedict, our Pope, for N. our bishop, and all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles."

The new translation of the same part goes thus:

"...which we offer you firstly for your holy catholic Church. Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world together with your servant Benedict our Pope and N. our Bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith."

I do not think that there is anything glaringly wrong with the old version and there is certainly nothing amiss with praying for "all who hold and teach the catholic faith that comes to us from the apostles" but in the new translation it is made quite clear that the faith- the "catholic and apostolic faith"- is something which is "handed on" by those who "hold... to the truth".
In other words the faith is seen as not just something vaguely floating down to us "from the apostles" but something particular and almost concrete and, as such, dependent upon those intermediate persons- i.e. between the apostles and ourselves- actually holding (on to) the truth.

To speak in these terms is to recognise both the active nature of tradition in the Church- "handed on" being the literal meaning of "tradition"- and the particularity of the faith. That the truth is, necessarily, conceived as something to be "held to" for the purpose of the handing on of the faith is also remarkable. Indeed it is a ringing declaration of the fact that the catholic and apostolic faith is something altogether different from what most people in contemporary society would conceive of as "a faith"- namely belief in a set of more or less improbable fancies. Rather is it anchored in the truth.

Sunday 8 January 2012

To blase the rising of this glorious sunne...

The Epiphanye

To blase the rising of this glorious sunne

A gltteringe starre appeareth in the Easte

Whose sight to Pilgrimm toyles three sages wunne

To seek the light they long had in requeste

And by this starre to nobler starr they pace

Whose armes did their desired sunne embrace

Stall was the skye wherein these planets shynde

And want the cloud that did eclipse their rayes

Yet through this cloud their light did passage finde

And perc’d these sages harts by secret waies

Which made them knowe the ruler of the skyes

By infant tongue and lookes of babish eyes

Heaven at her light, earth blusheth at her pride

And of their pompe these Peeres ashamed bee

Their Crownes, their robes their trayne they sett aside

When Gods poore cotage clouts and crewe they see

All glorious thinges their glory now dispise

Sith God contempt doth more than glory prize

Three giftes they bringe three giftes they beare awaye

For incense myrrhe and gould , faith hope and love

And with their gifts the givers hartes do staye

Their mynde from Christ no parting can remove

His humble state, his stall his poor retynewe

They phancie more then all their ritch revenewe

St Robert Southwell S.J. (1561-95)

Saturday 7 January 2012

Wise men...or just lucky?

Nearly twenty years ago I saw a television programme details of which had a profound impact upon me. I think the subject of the broadcast was the fraught relationship between the Chinese Communist government and Tibetan Buddhism and how the Chinese rulers were attempting to control the selection of a high-ranking lama. Such lamas are each believed to be a reincarnation of a previous lama and it was the method of divining or determining the "correct" individual which struck me most vividly. Two or three monks set off on a journey through the kingdom carrying some of the deceased lama's personal possessions which appeared to be easily portable items. These were, in turn, presented to young boys- largely toddlers if I remember rightly- whose reactions to the objects were then carefully observed. On the basis of the appropriate reaction of apparent familiarity or interest the individual was deemed to be the reincarnated lama. He was subsequently taken away to train for the post.

It seemed to me at once bizarrely strange but also curiously "familiar". As the saffron-robed searchers reverently laid out the treasures before each little boy I felt myself witnessing something remarkably similar to events in Bethlehem some two thousand years ago. Of course there are people who argue that the Infancy narratives in the Gospels are merely the Evangelists mythologising!

Thursday 5 January 2012

A timely poem!


The law's been passed and I am lying low
Hoping to hide from those who think they are
Kindly, compassionate. My step is slow.
I hurry. Will the executioner
Be watching how I go?

Others about me clearly feel the same.
The deafest one pretends that she can hear.
The blindest hides her white stick while the lame
Attempt to stride. Life has become so dear.
Last time the doctor came,

All who could speak said they felt very well.
Did we imagine he was watching with
A new deep scrutiny? We could not tell.
Each minute now we think the stranger Death
Will take us from each cell

For that is what our little rooms now seem
To be. We are prepared to bear much pain,
Terror attacks us wakeful, every dream
Is now a nightmare. Doctor's due again.
We hold on to the gleam

Of sight, a word to hear. We act, we act,
And doing so we wear our weak selves out.
We said, "We want to die" once when we lacked
The chance of it. We wait in fear and doubt.
O life, you are so packed

With possibility. Old age seems good.
The ache, the anguish - we could bear them we
Declare. The ones who pray plead with their God
To turn the murdering ministers away,
But they come softly shod.

Elizabeth Jennings

Thanks to Ben Trovato

Update: An ideal doctor?