Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Thank God for wise priests

Following Bishop Conry's bombshell of an interview the other day, Fr Tim has done a good job on rebuffing his unhelpful comments on the value of frequent confession (among other things), whilst Mac has a thoughtful post on some of the issues raised by the bish. Enjoy!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

What I've been up to...

Quite a while since I last posted, I know. I've been kept busy by university work to the extent that I don't even get round to reading many blogs these days. Perhaps when my degree is over and I join all the other jobless graduates I might find a little more time to post more regularly. Besides trying to work on my dissertation and doing odd jobs, I managed to get to Oxford at the end of October for the very moving High Mass at Blackfriars and unveiling of the plaque in honour of the Oxford Martyrs. A week later or so I found out (thank you Brian) that Edward 'Ed' Stourton had not only been given a radio programme on religion, but had also interviewed Dr Joseph Shaw, who organised the event. Brian has neatly demolished Stourton's irritating argument. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

I'll bet you had no idea...

...that Batman was a Catholic. Or so someone has been arguing. I haven't read any of the articles properly, and don't quite agree with what he's saying, but I find it a refreshing and somewhat amusing change from the usual things we come across on the blogosphere.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Time-Warp Wives

There was a rather interesting and whacky documentary on Channel 4 last night about a few people-mostly ladies, who live life as if they were in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Overall, I found them rather sweet and courageous-if more than a little eccentric. You have to give them credit for braving ridicule, and they were all really quite well dressed. I have to admit that I felt a certain sympathy with their admiration for those times in comparison with the misery of the modern world.

I can't say I agreed with their idea wholeheartedly. They admitted that they had created their own cocoon. Christians are often accused of living in a cocoon (as some do) and this can be a temptation for most if not all of us. It would not be ideal for any of us to completely ignore the age in which God has seen fit for us to live in.

I am not nostalgic about the 1930s-1950s. I was not born until several decades later-but I can't help but admire the dress sense of that era, and the fact that people generally had good manners then-it reminds me of when George Gershwin visited London and was touched by the politeness of everyone who he encountered, which few would agree with these days. On the other hand, I don't deceive myself into believing that everything was perfect then. Rather appropriately, I was flicking through the channels and ended up watching that especially sad moment in The Shawshank Redemption where a prisoner of fifty odd years is released, and unable to cope with the pace of modern life (in the 1950s) hangs himself-a grim reminder that even in those times people were not immune from giving into despair and risking the loss of their souls.

Undoubtedly we would do well to learn from the past, but to imitate it would only be of any real value if would help us to fulfill the will of God and contribute towards our salvation. In this respect, the 1930s still have a lot to offer us. At the time, a substantial group of writers such as G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh, and the Dominicans Vincent McNabb, Bede Jarrett, produced a wealth of fictional and non-fictional literature which can still help us today.

In the end, I don't hold out a great deal of hope for the efforts of those in the documentary. Of more use to society and to the Church will be families of faithul Catholics-and even this depends upon each one of us building up the Kingdom of God within our hearts, but we can all learn a thing or two from the past.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Meditations for the Pauline year

In case any of you didn't know, the Godzdogz are kindly writing reflections on St Paul. An ideal way to benefit from the year of St Paul.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Not making it up!

For those of you who haven't read this morning's Zenit bulletin:

Papal Text Messages Encourage and Catechize
SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 17, 2008 (
Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is weaving together a mini-catechesis with a medium nearly any young person can relate to -- cell phone text messages.The Friday morning local time message to Youth Day pilgrims was a call to Christian love. "The spirit impels us 4ward 2wards others; the fire of his love makes us missionaries of God's charity. See u tomorrow nite - BXVI," it read.On Saturday night, there will be a vigil with the Pontiff, followed by an all-night sleep out under the stars leading up to Sunday's closing Mass.
Before the Pope's boat-a-cade reached Sydney Harbor Thursday afternoon local time for his official arrival to World Youth Day, the Holy Father sent his third text message. That one said, "The Holy Spirit is the principal agent of salvation history: let him write your life-history 2 - BXVI."
On Wednesday, after his encounter with typical Australian animals, including a koala bear and a carpet python, the Pontiff sent a text message reading, "The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles & gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! - BXVI."
Pilgrims received their first text message from the Bishop of Rome on Monday. It said, "Young friend, God and his people expect much from u because u have within you the Fathers supreme gift: the Spirit of Jesus - BXVI."
Youth Day participants can receive the messages by texting the word Pope to a special number. Benedict XVI is expected to send a message each day of the event.

Honestly, I can't describe how bemused I am by all of this. My friends will tell you that I am one of those who send text messages with all the words written out-although occassionally I use 'text talk' for a joke or to see if they notice. Now I expect that some spoilsport will point out that the texts were written by one of the Pope's entourage, but I find the image of an eighty-one year old Pope texting wonderfully whacky and endearing.

Friday, 27 June 2008

What's been going on

I returned about a week ago from my holiday in Italy and it's been one of those busy seasons. A few days before I came back, my uncle Chris went to his reward after battling cancer for several years. R.I.P.

I intend to take a week's break or so from blogging, after which I shall resume my musings/ramblings and tell you about the more interesting points of the holiday.

In the meantime, a slightly belated happy birthday to my friend Oliver, who recently announced the closure of one blog, but appears to have started another. Happy birthday as well to our dear Mulier Fortis!

Ad multos annos!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Seen this?

Right now I'm fairly sure that the blogosphere has been buzzing with people looking at reports of yesterday's Pontifical High Mass at Westminster Cathedral, so I thought something a little different might be in order.

At the risk of displaying preferential treatment, Oliver has put up a little piece on allegiance to the Queen. If your latin is as bad as mine, then you may find it a tad difficult, but you shouldn't find the point too hard to understand.

In what I believe may be a first (possibly even a historic moments) Bishop Williamson has given an interview which is unusually free from outrageous and hilarious statements. Fr Z has given his customary reply with points. I can't help but feel that a radio or TV discussion between these two would be very interesting.

Finally, the Ceremoniere has a post many of us may identify with.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

New site

I have been asked to advertise the St Conleth's Catholic Heritage association. According to a friend of mine who is often in Ireland, the Church there is in something of an odd state, so please spare a prayer for their efforts.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Moving along

Apologies for a long absence. The last month has been pretty busy with the last stage of my second year at university, which left little time for much more important things like blogging.

I am afraid that I show little signs of producing much more as I am currently on holiday in Italy with limited access to a computer. Nevertheless, I will keep you updated on anything interesting which I might do/see/otherwise.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The restoration of Our Lady

Thanks to today's Moment with Mary bulletin, I found out that today is the date when in 1866 Blessed Pope Pius IX gave the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (this title has been changed to Our Lady of Perpetual Help-much to the annoyance of my friend Oliver) to the Redemptorists.  The church of Saint Matthew which had housed the icon had been destroyed by troops during the Napoleonic invasion, but the image of Our Lady was saved by a good soul.  Pio Nono exhorted the Redemptorist Fathers (who had built the church of St Alphonsus on the site where St Matthew's had been) to "Make her known!  Make her loved!  She will save the world".

This makes me wonder how we can harness devotion to Our Lady as a means to evangelisation.  A number of converts to Catholicism have rightly owed their decision to enter the Church to the intercession of Our Lady, one of whom is St Alphonsus Ratisbonne.

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, pray for the salvation of the world.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Request for prayers

A good friend of mine will undergo a long operation on Tuesday the 29th of April.  Please pray that it will go well.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Things put into perspective

With academic work getting rather trying at the moment, it was possibly providential that I served a Requiem Mass today. Actually in the last few months, I have ended up at Requiem Masses (without meaning) too, and have found them highly helpful in reminding me that however stressful we might find our everyday concerns, there are things to be slightly more concerned about, such as continuing to know, love, and serve God with the time we have left. It's rather disconcerting to consider how when we will go before God, we might find that our priorities were mistakenly arranged.

How encouraging given this then, that God is always willing to have souls return to Him in spite of anything they might done.

Friday, 4 April 2008

A challenge to the culture

On Wednesday evening I went along to St Patrick's in Soho Square for Father Tim Finigan's talk entititled 'Humanae Vitae-a challenge to the culture'. If you haven't been to St Patrick's before I recommend a visit-it is one of London's most historically important Catholic churches. A beautiful building which resembles a Baroque Austrian or Italian church, it is also the 'mother church' (if you like) of the School of Evangelisation, and is an oasis of peace and charity in a troubled part of London.
There were quite a number of young (and one or two not quite so young) Catholics gathered in a fairly small room upstairs, leaving standing room only, and quite a few had to listen from outside. Fr Finigan had put together his talk very well with a powerpoint presentation, and demonstrated great articulacy and pastoral sensitivity, as well as a good sense of humour.
I will not reproduce my entire notes from Fr Tim's talk (namely because I don't have his permission to do so), so I'll give you a brief overview and emphasise a few points.

(NB-this is only an unofficial overview, and not by any means a word-for-word account. If there is any mistake then it is on my part and not on Fr Tim's. If you have any disagreements then please don't go and leave them on his blog, but leave your comments here)

Fr Tim pointed out that when writing Humanae Vitae, Paul VI was primarily addressing the question of contraception by married couples, whereas nowadays it is used vastly outside of marriage. His (Fr Finigan's) portayal of how much society in Britain has been transformed into what he described as a 'culture of lust' was depressingly accurate, highlighting how sex is viewed by many as either solely an expression of love, or as a dose of harmless fun. As a result, the procreation of children has been removed from the equation. As a consequence of this outlook, there has been a massive corruption of love, and a significant increase in the number of abortions.
One of the most telling symptoms of this cultural shift has been the attitude of many (especially in the government) towards sex education. In the face of the fact that Britain has more teenage pregnancies than any other country in Europe, a policy of "we're not providing adequate sex education and adequate information about avoiding pregnancies therefore we must do more" has been adopted-with worse consequences. The fact that condoms are not 100% effective is more or less ignored by a worrying number of people.
Fr Tim then reminded us of Christ and the Church's vision of love and of the need for a genuine 'cultural revolution'. People must recognise that they are not animals, recognise the spiritual side of love, and thus see genuine love as a loving concern for the other. Catholic teaching offers a deeper and more profound vision of love and marriage than that which our culture does, especially in its recognising of the grace which marriage offers.

As I said, this is only a brief overview of the talk, so I apologise to Fr Tim if I have missed out large sections or in anyway presented an inaccurate report. At any rate, it went down very well with the people gathered there. After a few questions and answers, the front of the room was given a quick transformation and prepared for a few minutes of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Afterwards a few stayed on for a little more talking and socialising. Altogether, a highly edifying evening. If you are able to go to any of the other talks in the series, I am sure they will be worth attending.

Providentially (I think at least), the next day I dropped into a church library and came across a book entitled The Encyclical Humanae Vitae-A sign of contradiction by the late philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (RIP). I haven't read much yet, but it looks like an excellent essay, and prompted me to read the encyclical itself last night. Again, it's recommended!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Worth his weight

I came across this rather impressive Coptic priest (as I'm sure most of you have done) thanks to the Pastor in Valle and a link from Cornell Society. How refreshing. He may not be in full Communion with the Holy Father, but he doesn't hesitate to make the teaching of the Gospel known, nor to dither about claiming that he isn't interested in converting non-Christians. A man who loves souls and won't hesitate to stick his neck out for Christ-now that's ediying. Let's pray for him!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

More spring cleaning

Happy Easter!

My decision to restrict reading matter has proved very helpful recently. I also decided (somewhat spontaneously) to spend a minimal amount of time on facebook. The immediate consequence was that I had considerably more time than usual, and it was rather liberating. I've now decided to restrict my time on it as much as possible.

As hinted by the title, I intend to do some more tweaking of this blog in order to make it a little tidier and more attractive. Rest assured that I am unlikely to delete most of the links.

I dare say that my blogroll looks worryingly long. To be honest, I rarely look at more than a few each day-and likewise intend to avoid spending a long time doing so. I am not one of those who considers the internet a satanic invention (although I don't doubt that the devil makes profitable use of it) and am very much of the opinion that it has a lot to offer, especially in matters of our Faith. On the other hand, I was rather disgusted by the report that most young people spend two hours online each day-and I am almost certainly one of them. Not a good thing.

Anyway, I've also come across a characteristically sensible and edifying quote from St Teresa of Avila which has helped knock some sense into me:

I understood how great a blessing it is to make no account of anything which does not lead us any nearer to God.

God bless.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Turning up the heat

Our Lenten observances and resolutions should intensify during Holy Week, and if we haven't done much already, then this provides an opportunity to start now.

Bear in mind that as well as 'mortification of the flesh'-which can mean anything from using a good old-fashioned discipline to flog oneself with (as used by Silas in that highly accurate book, The Da Vinci Code) to fasting. Another highly profitable idea which has just sprung up in my mind is to stop reading and nattering on-as I do-about liturgical reform and about other usual 'churchy' issues, in order to concentrate on Holy Week. Hopefully this will provide more time for important things such as prayer and introduce a little more balance into my life.

Of course this means I will have to stop visiting Holy Smoke for a few days (sigh), but I will not be removing it from the links list-that way if any of you would like to use my idea, then you will have the opportunity to resist the temptation and hopefully grow in grace.

God bless.

For the record: I would like to emphasise that what I do not intend to discuss is liturgical reform. I am almost inevitably going to discuss the liturgical practice in the ordinary and/or extraordinary form, but will not be ranting or avoiding it altogether. Otherwise, I wouldn't be sharing these delightful pictures! Thanks Carolina!

Monday, 17 March 2008

New on the blogosphere

My term is now over, so I now have a little more time for blogging-not that I'm trying to allow myself much time for it as I have a lot of work to before before going back to university, and am trying to spend less time over Holy Week on the internet.

Visiting Lacrimarum Valle this morning, I came across this rather good blog by one of our brethren in the West. As you can see, he has something of a soft spot for liturgy, Catholic history, and the Venerable Pius XII-my cup of tea entirely!

Then of course, there are no shortage of lovely pictures at Hallowed Ground (as usual).


Saturday, 1 March 2008

A new church in the Middle East

Good news for our brethren in the Middle East (hat tip to New Advent). May I suggest that nearer the time, we begin a novena for their intentions?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Spring cleaning

As I am sure you know, the word 'Lent' was used to refer to the arrival of Spring which often coincides with the arrival of the Penitential Season now upon us. "Spring cleaning in February?", you might ask-well, an awful lot of people do what they refer to as 'spring cleaning' in January (quite possibly to take their minds off what many might agree can be one of the most stressful times of year), and a few would argue that the lovely weather in Britain has heralded the early arrival of Spring, but I digress-as you may have noticed I am trying to tidy up this blog in the hope that I may motivate myself to devote myself a little more consistently to it. With the word 'little', in mind (but not at all insignificant), as a footnote to my suggestion the other day, I would like to second John's suggestion to look at Recta Ratio for some good Lenten reading.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

In need of Lenten reading material?

Don Marco's posts from last Lent should help you out.

Where has the time gone?

Yes, the first post of 2008, and it has taken me this long to do so! Well, as I may have mentioned before, I am trying to prioritise things and haven't exactly managed to crank out much. To be very honest, I don't really see the point in doing so as a lot of bloggers say the same thing-yes, they say it in different ways I know, and this is useful-but I don't see much point in providing more 'dithering material' as it were for people to waste their time with. Instead, I will try at least to point you in the right direction of some interesting or profitable reading matter on and off the internet.

Case in point: With all the blogs around the world rattling on about the Good Friday Prayer, I indeed understand why it is an issue dear to many hearts (including my own), but see no need to issue a statement on how and why I feel about it-there's time better spent by both of us praying.

Oh, and just to re-assure you, I am going to try to produce less posts about the Liturgy-again, something which there is an awful lot of about online, and therefore not needing any further commentary from yours truly.

Happy Lent! God bless!