30 November 2008

First Sunday Of Advent

This afternoon.
Chinese lanterns in a garden.

Mistletoe growing in a tree and, today, the first Sunday of Advent, flowering, or whatever it is called when this most unnatural of created things bursts into bud.

The tips of the daffodils are through the grass already; the magnolia is in bud; some of the thorn trees are in flower.
All of the allegories we use about spring are about Easter and the Resurrection. For the first time, thanks, presumably, to climate change, the allegories of new growth are visible as we prepare for the coming of our Saviour.

It works.

And here, thanks to Cathcon, are the ladies from gloria.tv singing Rorate Caeli Desuper.

28 November 2008

Darts: The Manchester Board


The Mother Of That Lot has had considerable trouble with offspring who "help" at Christmas. Look here.
She titles her post "Options Evening", which is enough to frighten anybody who has, or has had, children in Year 9 or 11.
But she shows a weird picture of a darts board with the numbers in the wrong order, some coloured stuff in the middle of it, numbers written in wire, and a bizarre extra wire ring about a third in.
I wonder if she is planning a cruel and unusual punishment on her offspring: "you have messed up my Christmas shopping and I will mess up your life by teaching you how to play darts on a dart board which isn't Mancunian".
The Manchester board: for arrers.

26 November 2008

New laptop

I know it's only a year since I bought the last one, but I needed a new one for various reasons, and a 2 GHz processor and 4 GHz of memory for (5p) less than £400 sounded too good to be true. It isn't.
But I remember when I bought my first PC fifteen years ago that as soon as you plugged it in and turned it on it started to work. I'll stop soon after two hours tonight, but this is still miles off being fully loaded and nasty-proofed.
And I'd hate to see someone try this who didn't have a clue what they were doing.

24 November 2008

Messing About With The Rubrics

Fr Ray wrote:

"I really do feel for people who have to put up with this type of nonsense week after week. The rubrics, the Liturgical Law is to protect people's faith. I really do wonder if my faith would be strong enough to endure onslaughts of this kind of abuse week after week after week."

We are in a state of liturgical flux at the moment; the new PP having changed Mass times and introduced the Rite of Purification of Sacred Vessels by Lay Females Only, my local church is not really the place for me. We were travelling about a bit at the weekend and decided to attend Mass at a mediaeval church generously lent by the Anglican Parish Council to its Catholic brethren for the celebration of Mass. I thought that Mass on the feast of Christ the King in a "proper" Church might restore some concept of the dignity of what we believe in to a bewildered non-Catholic wife and to a 14 year old daughter who has started asking if she has to go to Mass if Fr X is saying it.

A priest who can't sing in tune, and who has no sense of time, shouldn't be allowed to wear a portable microphone; a visitor who hears him say at the start of the entrance hymn "We'll sing 'Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise' because that's the sort of thing a King does" should know what he's in for. And we were in for it.

We had a sermon in which the Queen's family were told off for setting a bad example, something Christ the King wouldn't do, after which point the priest told us that the Jews in Israel are at least as bad the Nazis in their genocidal treatment of Palestinians, and Christ the King wouldn't behave like that.

He apologised for the long sermon (it was 45 minutes after the start of Mass when he finished the sermon, according to the Westminster chimes of the bell in the clock tower) but he promised Eucharistic Prayer II to "save time at the end of Mass". He had a Host the size of a side plate (made, I would guess from the taste, from some sort of Muesli) and he spent the time after the Agnus Dei breaking it into chunks, one of which he held up in his left hand for the first five words of the Domine Non Sum Dignus. It wasn't enough, but luckily, there was a ciborium in the (Anglican Church's) tabernacle which had white hosts for the last few communicants. He let his Extraordinary Ministers purify not just the chalice, but the paten he'd been using. That way, he didn't need to wash his fingers.

This happened at the weekend, at the celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King, and I was there, escaping the bad for the worse. There isn't a parish within a half hour's drive at which you can guarantee that at any Mass the rubrics will be respected (never mind observed).

Am I bitter? Yes, I am.

23 November 2008

Yet More About Westminster

Ches has a rather good post about the article by Ruth Gledhill in the Times which suggests that a Scottish Bishop, Tartaglia, is now the insider's favourite.

I have never known there to be such excitement, such interest, and so much caring about the right man being chosen, as though there is finally a realisation that the alternative to the "right" man might very possibly be the "wrong" man.

19 November 2008

More PO'D-ery


I know very little about lots of things.
I don't doubt that some of us are cleverer than others.
I imagine that if you are an ex-priest, and comfortable in a world in which you and your fellows interpret the signs of the times unanimously, whatever others might say, you might be nervous about the others if they seem to be casting themselves adrift.
I imagine that if you are the sort of person who thinks that sovereignty can and should be pooled, then attacks on examples of pooled sovereignty, like the Bishops'Conference of England and Wales must sound and feel like attacks on the axioms which underpin your beliefs.
What PO'D has said, must, to the Sandalistas, feel like what some of us have felt like every time the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles has featured on a YouTube video.
So why is PO'D getting the publicity? Why aren't they stifling the story?
Is their grip finally being loosened?
Are they on their way out?

17 November 2008

That Article In The Mail

According to the Mail On Sunday, Archbishop Smith of Cardiff is the name at the head of the terna the Nuncio will send (or has sent) to the Vatican as the preferred candidate for Westminster. It's all a bit odd though.

Neither the Mail, nor Jonathan Petre, the journalist whose byline is on the story, are particularly interested in Catholic stories: so why would this story break in this way. It can't have come from the Nuncio, who is sworn to secrecy in this context, so must have come from "sources close" to him, or to those in the Hierarchy who know the way his mind is turning.

There is a teensy-weensy clue in the journalist's surname. Petre is a distinguished recusant surname. "They" would not want anything to leak out through the Daily Telegraph or the Times: how better, then, to see who would salute this particular flag, by raising it through the old boy network in an unexpected place (for I can't believe many of our Hierarchs are Mail readers).

What does it mean? It means that somebody who thinks he knows what the Nuncio has told Rome has informed a friend or (and/or) kinsman, who has in turn published it. It is instructive that Archbishop Smith's price at Paddy Power remains the same today, at 16/1, as it was yesterday: no money is following this leak.

This ends up being as good a story as the translation of Cardinal Pell, or the retention of the services of PO'D: fascinating; intriguing; and either right or wrong! (I'll guarantee the last cause will be proved accurate.)

16 November 2008

The Tablet: Who Owns It And How We Can Change It!

Being an investigative journalist always seemed to me to be an alluring profession: half way between a spy and a demagogue. The reality is different, trawling through the Internet, only to find myself having to read balance sheets. I wanted to know who owned the Tablet and nobody could tell me: so I found out for myself, and am happy to share what I have found, because the Tablet shouldn't be as it is, and we might be able to turn it back to what it should be.

The Tablet is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Tablet Trust, a registered charity. (So is the Pastoral Review: more of this later.) In it latest published accounts it says:

"The objectives of the charity as set out in its foundation documents are

a) to advance the Christian religion
b) to promote, present, and disseminate the teachings of the Christian religion and to promote understanding of the Roman Catholic faith, value and principles
c) to advance the education of the public
d) to pursue such other charitable objectives as shall not be inconsistent with the objects hereunto before set out.

The objectives of the Trust are carried out by its support of the religious and educational aspects of “The Tablet” and “The Pastoral Review” and support of other bodies whose activities fall within the Trust Deed objectives.

Objectives for the Year (2008)

The Trust looks to achieve its strategic aims properly through the activities of the Publishing Company

Specifically the company is charged with

a) maintaining the high journalistic quality and Catholic ethos informed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council of The Tablet and The Pastoral Review
b) increasing the influence of The Tablet and The Pastoral Review in the religious and secular spheres in the UK and beyond and
c) increasing the circulation of both titles

Strategic Aims and Intended Effect

The Trust seeks to fulfil its objectives through its support of the Publishing Company’s flagship title The Tablet. Through this support it aims to grow The Tablet’s influence in the UK and internationally as a journal of comment and analyses. This in turn will engender amongst its growing readership a discernment of the Christian message reflected within the intellectual values of providing informed opinion, a forum for debate, and a journal of record. It seeks to create a spiritual counterbalance to the political polarisation of society and in particular intellectual life. It also seeks to provide a resource to the Church through The Pastoral Review."

And after some stuff about investment policy:

"Future Plans

The Trust has recognised that to support the expansion of the Publishing Company new premises will be required as the existing site is inadequate for the demands placed upon it. The conceptual work done during the past year will be built upon to develop a number of on-going initiatives that will not only generate additional funding but enhance the objects of the Trust."

The Trustees represent the secular portion of what Damian Thompson calls the Magic Circle.

The Chairman is Sir Michael Quinlan, and the Vice Chairman is Michael Phelan. The Trustees are: John Adshead, Robin Baird-Smith, John Battle MP, Lady Rachel Billington, Lord Camoys, Angela Cunningham, Professor Conor Gearty, Professor Peter Hennessy, Lady Hooper, Lord Hunt, Pat Jones, Lady Kennedy (Helen Kennedy), Henry Keswick, Alfred Latham-Koenig, Sir Gus O’Donnell, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, Sir Michael Paliser, Lord Patten, Susan Penswick, Edward Stourton, Sir Steven Wall, and Lady Williams (Shirley).

The wage bill for the company is £847, 380 (not including pensions and NI). There are eight editorial staff, six publishing staff and seven in administration. One member of staff earns about £80,000 a year; another earns between £90,000 and £100,000.

The Pastoral Review Bursary Scheme facilitates the educational advancement of the public in postgraduate studies of Pastoral Theology: last year it paid out £24,828.

Now: we need a good lawyer and a good theologian to spend a few months reading the damn thing, but, if it could be demonstrated that the Tablet was not meeting the objectives of the charity, then there would be good grounds for a complaint to the Charities Commission about the Trust's status as a charity.

13 November 2008

6 December: Vocations Day In Lancaster

Somebody pointed out that I can't go round saying nice things about the Bishop, and then not publish the fact that he is hosting a Vocations Day in his Cathedral. Fair cop!
Quo vadis?

If you are 17 or over and have ever wondered if you are called to be a priest then you are invited to meet the vocations director of the Diocese of Lancaster and students for the priesthood:

...listen to testimonies...
...Questions & Answers...
...join us for an informal lunch...
closing with Mass and time for prayer
Saturday 6th December10:30am -- 4:00pm@ Lancaster Cathedral
If you are interested, please e-mail Fr Manny Gribben at e.gribben@merseymail.com or call on 01946 810324

12 November 2008

Do Vicars Work Hard?


This one does. He (or possibly she - I have no idea) has this village church as one of several in his cure. The people don't turn out, and those who do don't give much. But there he is, week after week. And when he's not there, they say the Office. They record the fact that the service has taken place and what the vicar has preached on.

There is a heroic virtue being acted out here.

10 November 2008

The Green Fields Of France

On the vigil of Armistice Day.
Not the version by the Fureys.

09 November 2008

08 November 2008

Fun And Games In Catalonia


So, ABC, a conservative Madrid-based newspaper published comments about the amount of money claimed in expenses by certain left wing catalonian politicians.
These comments were reported on news bulletins on radio stations owned by the company which publishes ABC and by radio stations belonging to COPE, a chain of radio stations which are owned by the Church.
By strange coincidence, the Catalonian Government has reallocated radio frequencies, and both ABC and COPE have effectively had some of their transmitters shut down.
It could never happen here.

Book Sought


A parish in which a Merton 08 graduate has reintroduced the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is looking out for a couple of copies of the 1962 edition of the Altar Servers' Handbook.
They are particularly useful because they are properly bound and lie flat; they also look suitably decorous as items to be used in the sanctuary.
They are useful as an aide-memoire for the priest at the foot of the altar, both for the introductory prayers, and for the Leonine prayers at the end of Mass. (It takes a long time to be confident that you can say all of these prayers accurately and confidently.)
And they are designed for the server: they contain everything he needs to say and do, and contain prayers to say during the Mass as well which, while designed for boys, are just as suitable for grown men.
I have tried abebooks and there aren't any for sale there. There is an online version of the pre-1962 version (ie with the Confiteor before Communion) here but even though I could edit the text, it still wouldn't be the slim red volume shown in the picture. They have two copies on loan at the moment, but would like two of their own, so that the loan copies might be returned for use somewhere else.
Can anybody help?

07 November 2008

The Westminster Stakes: An Odd Rumour

I've heard this three or four times now, and Paddy hasn't. I'd have put it down to wishful thinking, except those passing on the message aren't wishful thinkers. I'd try putting it down to wishful thinking on the part of their interlocutors, but the one chain of speculation along which I managed to travel three links is distinguished by its sobriety, rather than by its vivid imagination. But I still can't believe it!

If this rumour is true, then Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue, soon to be Emeritus Bishop of Lancaster, will be asked by the Holy Father to step upwards for a short (3-4 year) period.

Yes, he is about to be 75; yes, his resignation from Lancaster has been accepted; yes, his successor there has been announced. But, if you are Sovereign Pontiff, so what?

You can see why my first response was "wishful thinking".

This wouldn't be a vote for PO'D the financial genius, or for PO'D the Prelate who keeps churches open: he isn't perfect.

This would be a vote for PO'D the writer; PO'D the author of "Fit for Mission"; and for the concepts and ideas contained within it.

You can see why my first response was "wishful thinking". And don't I wish!

04 November 2008

Helping Out At Lourdes

Were a couple of 15 year old girls express a wish to go to Lourdes to "help out" with a pilgrimage, how would they go about it if their parish priest, when asked, said that he had no idea as there wouldn't be a pilgrimage to Lourdes from his parish?

The childrens' parents want them to go with a group from the UK - how does one find out what groups are going, and when?

02 November 2008

No Advice To Americans From Me On How To Vote

Living overseas during the first part of the Thatcher era, it was a pain in the neck for me to be told by people who didn't understand how politics in the UK worked how I should vote. So I won't say anything to any visiting Americans about how they should vote, and will content myself with praying for them as they cast their votes, and hoping that I won't end up having to pray "God Bless America" in the way that I find myself praying "God Help the UK".

01 November 2008

Elderly Bishops

I wondered how many of our Bishops would have only one ad limina visit left - how many, in other words, are 70 or older.

Step forward Bishops Budd, Hine, Hollis, McMahon (of Brentford), Noble, O'Donoghue, Pargeter, Rawsthorne, and Regan, Archbishop Kelly (later this month), and, of course, the Cardinal himself.

What Your Taste In Art Says About You

Courtesy of Jeffrey, a new quiz.

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Conscientious, Fulfilled, and Spiritual

34 Renaissance, 13 Islamic, 18 Ukiyo-e, -30 Cubist, -40 Abstract and -1 Impressionist!

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence affected literature, philosopy, religion, art, politics, science, and all other aspects of intellectual enquiry. Renaissance artists looked at the human aspect of life in their art. They did not reject religion but tended to look at it in it's purest form to create visions they thought depicted the ideals of religion. Painters of this time had their own style and created works based on morality, religion, and human nature. Many of the paintings depicted what they believed to be the corrupt nature of man.

People that like Renaissance paintings like things that are more challenging. They tend to have a high emotional stability. They also tend to be more concientious then average. They have a basic understanding of human nature and therefore are not easily surprised by anything that people may do. They enjoy life and enjoy living. They are very aware of their own mortality but do not dwell on the end but what they are doing in the present. They enjoy learning, but may tend to be a bit more closed minded to new ideas as they feel that the viewpoint they have has been well researched and considered. These people are more old fashioned and not quite as progressive. They enjoy the finer things in life like comfort, a good meal, and homelife. They tend to be more spiritual or religious by nature. They are open to new aesthetic experiences.

Take What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test at HelloQuizzy