Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Thoughts on fasting

Fr Ray has a short but excellent post on the true purpose of fasting. About time someone reminded Cafod. I am not going to criticise anyone, but if a 'Catholic' charity forgets about why one should fast during Lent, then they are sending out the wrong message, and risk a good opportunity for their spiritual lives. We Catholics need to remember that our vocation is to know, love, and serve God in this life. If fasting can aid us in this respect, then all the better, but we should do so as penance for our sins. And as I am sure you know, our Blessed Lord has some good things to say about it:

And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.

Matthew 6:16

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

A change of tide

There is a very encouraging article about a parish where it has been decided that girls will no longer be recruited as altar servers. Now, before the egalitarian readers of this blog (if there are any) start to shriek, please allow me to explain the benefits of such a decision. It was once considered a great privilege to serve Holy Mass. It was a means by which many vocations to the sacred priesthood were discovered and nurtured. On this basis alone, it should be clear that a parish priest who only permits boys to serve Mass is not a misogynist, but is trying to encourage young men to consider a vocation as a priest or religious (and goodness knows we need them). Unfortunately, the current trend nowadays is that it must be something which everyone can enjoy. Again, this is a well-meant idea, but poorly considered. Serving the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should not be something 'to enjoy', it is a responsibility and a privilege, and this should be remembered as such. In case anyone would like to hear a lady's view on the subject, I can do no better than to recommend this article by Joanna Bogle. And please don't hesitate to share your views!

Saturday, 24 February 2007

I love it when they talk like that!

Thanks to The Cornell Society for posting this wonderful news about an Archbishop's reminder. Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

The benefits of the internet

Who wold have thought ten years ago that the internet would be so useful for Catholics? Recently, I joined Facebook, and was delighted to find The Imitation of Christ online. This spiritual classic is divided into many short chapters, and thus would be ideal to a read a meditation a day during Lent.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

A little disclaimer!

Now dear readers, I thought it only fair to offer you a little explanation. I am unable to respond to all of your comments and questions for several reasons:

1. I am a full-time student, hence cannot spend as much time as I like dedicated to this blog.
2. Some of these questions and/or comments require a carefully considered and written answer-not only do you deserve a carefully written reply, but bloggers must accept responsibility for their writings, hence they often take a while!

Please rest assured that I will try and answer any questions or comments you may have, but this does take time (and a little patience).

Pax tecum.

Friday, 16 February 2007

And what are you doing?

There isn't much time left, so in case you haven't already, it may be worth considering how to make the most of the upcoming season of Lent. At this point, I would like to share one of the most useful maxims I have heard from a priest on the subject: "Don't think what you can do for Lent, but think what Lent can do for you". I am always wryly amused when agnostics and atheists spend ages discussing what they will be giving up (well, God does work in mysterious ways). We need to remind ourselves that Lent should not be an excuse for a diet-our spiritual and temporal needs should not be confused. Having said that, Catholics seem to have forgotten about the benefits of austerity in our spiritual lives. Many people are horrified by the use of a cilice, forgetting that such mortification was practised by many people in the middle-ages. Nor was it used for masochistic purposes, another priest reminded me last year that mortification was of no value unless offered to God. Hence, if you intend to follow a gentler form of mortification (such as giving up alcohol), do so for the love of God and not for your own sake. Another suggestion is to revive the practice of a particular devotion, or invest in some spiritual reading. In order to help my dear readers, I will post a short meditation or link every few days. Stay tuned for details, and pray about it.

A Bitchy Bulgarian Bishop

Ad Jesu per Mariam has just brought a debacle in Bulgaria to my attention. One of the youngest Orthodox bishops has called the Supreme Pontiff a heretic. Bad move Nickolay. Whether or not the Pope appeals to you, you don't insult God's representative on earth. Furthermore, Cardinal St Robert Bellarmine demonstrated that the Pope cannot be a heretic. No-one is impressed by this impertinent outburst, so let's change the subject.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

An exceptional evening

Yesterday, I broke with my Valentine's day tradition of watching Brief Encounter to head to town for a very interesting talk on the Jacobites organised by the Royal Stuart Society. Fr Nicholas Schofield was present, and afterwards we had a pleasant talk in a local pub about blogging, vocations, and parochial life. A most enjoyable evening!

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

A little light humour

This morning, a random thought came to mind, inspired by Martin Mosebach's The Heresy of formlessness. When Monsignor Annibale Bugnini (for those of you who don't know, he is responsible for the liturgical 'reforms' of Vatican II and trying to extinguish the old rite) dies, he is met by his guardian angel to take him before the Most Just Judge. En route, the angel says to Bugnini "You certainly know how to amuse us", to which he replies "How do you mean?". "Well", says the angel, "we have been celebrating the divine liturgy for a while now. Did you really think you could make your own up?".

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

A dear price to pay

Following yesterday's post about the courage of a young Albanian, Fr Ray has helped to bring the dreadful situation under the communists to mind. No doubt about it, people need to know about this, as the press in Britain seems to turn an obstinately blind eye to the treatment of Catholics abroad. It's time for a reality check, we may not be in a favourable position as Catholics in Europe, but we are much more so than some of our brethren around the world. And yet in this situation, our faith has survived, and will continue to survive. As Saint Paul says in the second epistle to the Corinthians: We suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but we perish not. I refuse to intimidated by the militant atheism which pretends that religion is dead. Take the situation in Poland, where the practise of Catholicism was hampered, but not stopped by Nazi slaughter or by Communist pressure. The gates of hell shall never triumph against Holy Mother Church-and never forget it.

Monday, 12 February 2007

They will also persecute you

If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you

John 15:20

Fr Blake has posted a heart-rending story about an Albanian Catholic, which has moved me immensely.

A truly happy day

Yesterday I dropped into South Ashford for Fr John Boyle's first Mass in the Traditional Roman rite. It was a truly moving occasion, and I would like to offer my very best wishes to Fr John. Ad multos annos!
It was also a very special occasion for the Doyle family. Congratulations on Madeleine's baptism! Deo Gratias!

Saturday, 10 February 2007

The miracle which confounds sceptics

For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality

1 Corinthians 15:53

Mac has a highly readable and intelligent post about the undecayed bodies of saints (to be fair, I've never known any of her posts which aren't readable and intelligent). This is one of those occcassions when I am instinctively moved to thank God for his gifts of nature and grace. I have never seen a saint's body as incorrupt as St Bernadette's, but last year I was visiting Assisi and was able to see the preserved body of St Clare. St Clare's body showed no signs of decay for a few days after her death, but when they soon appeared, they applied wax to her corpse, and so it has been unchanged for over 700 years. Deo Gratias!

Friday, 9 February 2007

Newman on friendship

This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:12

Thanks to Don Marco for posting a sermon by the Venerable John Henry Newman on friendship. Earlier on this week for a laugh, I had a look at 'advice for single people on surviving Valentine's day' (or something to that effect), which suggested telling our friends and family that we love them-decidedly one of the better suggestions. It reminded me that we need to thank God each day for the gift of good friends. Decidedly, I am somewhat biased in this matter, as I am always especially delighted to make friends with other Catholics, since our faith unites us in a way which non-Catholics rarely understand. This doesn't mean I value my non-Catholic friends less than my Catholic friends, it simply means that I am favourably inclined towards making friends with my brethren, this is one of the meanings of the phrase: 'charity begins at home'. We need to love one another above all because Our Blessed Lord has told us to. A priest once remarked to me 'Love isn't really talked about these days. And the world's take on the word love is divorced from its true meaning'. And on that note, I think it's time I re-read Deus Caritas Est.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Let all mortal flesh keep silence

How sad it is that earlier today, I attended a concert where there was greater concentration given and attention paid by the audience than by some people at a Mass I attended on Saturday. I am pleased that the performer was given the silence which any musician deserves when performing, but it reflects badly on Catholics who talk to one another during Holy Communion. Not long ago, I heard a sermon given by a priest whom had invited an Orthodox lady to Solemn Mass, only to be told "Your people have no respect for the sacred, Father. They were talking to one another, parents were letting their children run around screaming, and a telephone went off". Unfortunately, that last item is something which many of us are all too familiar with these days.
Decidedly, one of the many things about the Traditional Roman Rite which I love dearly is the silent Canon. There is a very fine homily on this, which was given at the launch of CIEL UK.
Before Christmas, I was blessed with a very beautifully celebrated Missa Cantata. Somebody asked me afterwards: "How long was it?", to which I replied "I honestly don't remember, but there is no passage of time in Heaven, and we were given a glimpse of eternity." This is what the sacred liturgy must be rembered as : a foretaste of the Divine liturgy. Not something which is planned or suggested, but something which raises our minds to Heavenly things. And few things are as effective in this respect as silence is.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Regular confession

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity. The first epistle of St John 1:9

Recently, Terry of Abbey Roads 2 wrote a rather thoughtful post about the sacrament of confession and its fruits.
It seems to me that more young Catholics are going to confession these days, and I find this very encouraging (especially with the catechetical crisis which still plagues the Church). Of course, we must remember that there are still too few Catholics going to confession, which is ultimately to their own spiritual loss. Well, what can we do about it? By first of all adopting a healthy and mature approach towards receiving this sacrament on a regular basis, before we recommend the practice to our brethren. Here are some suggestions for those whom find it especially difficult, or are nor used to regular confession:
1. Invest in a copy of A Catechism of Christian Doctrine (also known as the Penny Catechism), which is available from CTS and Tan Books. Remind yourself what the ten commandments are, what sin is, what is a mortal sin etc.
2. Before going to bed, examine your conscience, and if you have committed a sin-be it venial or mortal-then express your sorrow before God in the form of an Act of Contrition.
3. Adopt the practice of receiving this sacrament on a regular basis ie once a month, which will make it easier.
4. Don't rush straight to the confessional after entering the church, but first of all prayerfully and carefully examine your conscience, pray to Our Lady, or your patron saint to make a good confession.
5. Afterwards, remember to thank God for the gift of His grace and mercy, and perform the penance your confessor has given you (and don't hesitate to say more prayers as further penance).

More footage of Papa Pacelli

Tip of the biretta to Fr Nicholas for a simply marvellous video of Pius XII in his latter days. Thank you so much Father!

Thursday, 1 February 2007


Joee has 'tagged' me to say five random things about myself. Here is what came across my mind:

1. I used to be an ardent devotee of The Sound of Music (I still enjoy the film, I'm just not such an ardent devotee these days).

2. I am very particular about how tea and coffee are made and consumed (and I have a rather unsettling skill of making other people change their habits in this matter to mine)

3. When I was very young I could speak Italian very well, these days I only speak a little.

4. I am told that I do rather convincing impressions of characters from The Simpsons.

5. I wish I could play the piano in the style Chico Marx (RIP) played.

Vigil of the Purification

For the feast of the Purification of Our Lady tomorrow, there will be a sung Mass and blessing of candles at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane in London at 6.30 PM. On another subject, I recently finished reading The idea of the Oratory by Father Raleigh Addington, and thought this might interest you. In 1848 on this day at Solemn Vespers (First Vespers of the Purification), Father John Henry Newman admitted nine men to the Oratorian habit, and the English Oratory was officially founded the next day - Deo Gratias.

Appeal for your assistance

Emitte would like to appeal to our dear readers to sign a petition to Tony Blair to grant Catholic adoption agencies exemption from the incoming sexual orientation regulations, which threaten the consciences of thousands of people, and are amongst the most damaging legislations against Catholics in Britain. Thanks to Catholic Church Conservation for bringing this to our attention. Please lend your support and prayers. Our Lady, refuge of sinners, pray for us.