30 November 2007

Spe Salvi


I wish I knew half as much about anything as the Pope seems to know about everything.

This one is going to take a long time to understand: it takes long enough to read through to realise that you aren't going to understand it first time round.

God Bless Our Pope.

28 November 2007

Something Positive

"The document recognises that the best modern resource for creating a Catholic ethos in our schools is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which present the 'rich and full symphony of faith.'"

I am in the van when it comes to criticising Bishops, so it gives me great pleasure to point out that the Bishop of Lancaster not only thinks that Catholic schools in his Diocese ought to be Catholic, but that he has also given them a document which will help them to become beacons of Catholic light.

Well done Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue!

23 November 2007

Advice for Busy Catholics in London

You are in the Victoria area just after 1100. You have a meeting in Whitehall at 1230. You want to go to Confession.

Go to the Cathedral. Join the queue which is several strong at 1110 even though confessions begin at 1130. Join the shuffle which enables you to focus on the Lady Chapel: the "Tota Pulcra Es", which draws you into the "Ave Maria", which draws you into the mosaic of the life of Our Lady.

Wait your turn. Worry about the time.

Tell yourself to stop worrying.

Go to Confession.

Get one Our Father (that's right: ONE OUR FATHER) as your penance.

Say your Our Father. Feel guilty that the good priest seems to have noticed your briefcase and suit and not how much of a wretch you really are.

Say your Our Father again because you were thinking about the above.

Decide a decade of the Rosary would have been a better penance and say it.

Leave the Cathedral at 1205 and arrive in Whitehall early.

Say Deo Gratias.

19 November 2007

Diamond Wedding


By Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate

LOVE found a voice and spoke two names aloud –
two private names, though breezed through public air –
and joined them in a life where duty spoke
in languages their tenderness could share,

A life remote from ours because it asked
each day, each action to be kept in view,
and yet familiar in the trust it placed
in human hearts, in hearts remaining true.

The years stacked up and as their weight increased
they pressed the stone of time to diamond,
immortal-mortal in its brilliant strength,
a jewel of earth where lightnings correspond.

Now every facet holds a picture-glimpse:
In some, the family faces and the chance
for ordinary talk and what-comes-next;
in others, shows of pomp and circumstance.

And here, today, the diamond proves itself
as something of our own yet not our own –
a blaze of trust, the oneness made of two;
the ornament and lodestar of the crown.

Photograph of a Saint at Mass

Courtesy of Jeffrey, I have this picture of a Saint at Mass.

Kneeling at the right is His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor Charles, now Blessed Charles of Austria.
I posted some time ago a picture of an Australian Padre in New Guinea in WWII. A subtext to that post was the adaptability of the Extraordinary form of the Mass: that adaptability is shown here too, where Mass is celebrated in a railway siding, next to a hospital train.
But as worthy of note is the adaptability of an Emperor, who humbles himself in front of his Sovereign Lord.

17 November 2007

How to Heckle

Remembering what happened when somebody protested at a Labour Party Conference, some young students decide to heckle differently.

Promoveatur ut Removeatur

They are promoted that they might be removed.

I worry less about the occupants of the Sees of the Dioceses of England and Wales than about those responsible in the Seminaries for training the next generation of priests.

If you don't know what I mean, see Fr Ray.

Two of the Seminaries are in safe hands: there is an opportunity for a third. Let's really pray for the discernment of whoever chooses the next President of Ushaw.

12 November 2007

If There Be Fifty Just Men In the City Should They Perish Withal?

I worship in a parish with a liberal Parish Priest in a liberal Diocese. I make small waves. The young curate has begun to learn the Extraordinary Rite, but has told nobody. I have promised to relearn how to serve his Mass: in a form I learnt 44 years ago and used for only three years.

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, and then clicking on links in a blogroll, probably Philip's, I came across a posting which described a life of resistance to Modernism in a modern English Catholic Diocese which made realise just how craven I am.

John Kearney has found his vocation: it is, in a spirit of orthodoxy and humility, to stand up to the Diocese of Portsmouth. If you read only one thing today, please read this.

I am reminded of a local St Athanasius: somebody who stands up patiently for God's Truth, but instead of (no doubt as well as) against the pagan, has to do so against the people who claim to be representing God's Church. He has faced the people who do not attack through Ad Clerum confidential letters, but through browbeating ordinary members of the Church into thinking that they, the experts, now understand how the Church of the Ages has been systematically wrong for the last 1900 years. He has stood up to them and they have ridiculed him.

I quoted something by Evelyn Waugh yesterday: "The Mystical Body doesn't strike attitudes and stand on its dignity. It accepts suffering and injustice. It is ready to forgive at the first sign of compunction." This, it seems to me, it what John Kearney has done on behalf of the Mystical Body, and is doing. I am proud to be in Communion with him, but am not worthy to shine his shoes.

11 November 2007

Parsing an Editorial

Or at least a sentence from one.

Courtesy of The Suppository (The Tablet which is a pain in the backside):

"It is already present in some seminaries, where a proportion of young men studying for the priesthood seem particularly attracted to a backwards-looking style of Catholicism that was familiar in the novels of Evelyn Waugh."

Now, if this means anything, it means that Catholicsm in the novels of Evelyn Waugh is backwards-looking. The Catholicsm described in Waugh's novels is, given that they were all written before Vatican II, Tridentine. If, therefore, they are backwards-looking, they look to the period before Trent, perhaps as far back as the time of the Fathers.

Perhaps this is what Waugh was describing when he wrote:

"The Mystical Body doesn't strike attitudes and stand on its dignity. It accepts suffering and injustice. It is ready to forgive at the first sign of compunction."

Not described here are the Tridentine certainties of Bishops who feel that their Headship of a Local Church gives them an absolute dictatorship, but rather the paternal love of a solicitous father.

Do we think that the anonymous editorialist was thinking about that when she wrote it? (Can the word "thinking" be used about the supremely silly act of name-calling?) Probably not. She was probably thinking vaguely about the TV adaptation of Brideshead.

Is a proportion of young men studying for the priesthood particularly attracted to a backwards-looking style of Catholicism that was familiar in the novels of Evelyn Waugh? I have no idea, but I have my hopes.

10 November 2007

For Remembrance Day

The Last Post at the Menin Gate

Both my grandfathers and all of my great uncles fought in World War One. Two died, and their bodies were never found. One is named on the Menin Gate, the other on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Both of my parents and all of my uncles and aunts served during World War Two. All of them survived.

Because of their sacrifice, nobody in my generation has had to join the Armed Forces.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918) Canadian Army

08 November 2007

Bishop Hollis Keeps Digging

I will tip my hat to Cathcon, but with heavy heart. Bishop Hollis of Portsmouth is at it again.

This time he wants to legalise prostitution.

"If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there's a need to make sure it's as well-regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves.

That's not to say I approve of prostitution in any way. I don't. I would be very much happier if there was no prostitution in Portsmouth or anywhere else because I do regard those involved in any way as involved in some form of immorality.

But it's going to be there whatever we do – it has been from time immemorial, so I think that's something we have to be realistic about."

I like the idea that something that has been around since time immemorial can suddenly, now we are in 2007, be sorted out.

This is the New Labour, Spirit of Vatican II, idea that changing things solves them; that novelty is a substitute for truth; that we, today, have solutions to all of the things which have plagued mankind since the Fall.

No hint from the Bishop that the problem might be rampant sexuality. No hint that people living well-ordered lives might act as examples to their neighbours. No hint that prostitution is both a sin itself and a cause of sin.

No mention of sin, actually.

In what morass have we sunk, and who has guided us there?

05 November 2007

The Westminster Stakes - An Update

Light movement on the book on the next Archbishop. Here are today's odds from Paddy Power (earlier odds in brackets):

Rt Rev Vincent Nichols 2-1 (7-2)
Rt Rev Kevin McDonald 5-1 (7-2)
Rt Rev Alan Hopes 11-2
Fr Timothy Radcliffe 6-1 (10-1) (6-1)
Bishop William Kenney 15-2 (6-1)
Cardinal Pell 10-1
Fr Aidan Nichols 11-1 (5-1) (6-1)
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald 12-1 (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Patrick Kelly 12-1 (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche 12-1 (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Bernard Longley 12-1
Rt Rev Peter Smith 12-1
Rt Rev Michael Evans 16-1
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue 16-1
Bishop George Stack 16-1
Fr Christopher Jamison 20-1
Bishop John Rawsthorne 20-1
Bishop John Patrick Crowley Non-runner (33-1)

Only two changes: Archbishop Fitzgerald drops to 12-1, and Bishop Stack enters the list: another Westminster Auxiliary. My guess is that this is a pious and speculative shot by a few parishioners in his area.

Cardinal Pell maintains his place on the list. 10-1 will look like very good odds if he comes to the See.

04 November 2007

Four Stories of the New Spanish Martyrs

Courtesy of the Casa de Sarto, here are the stories of four of those martyrs beatified last week.

Mgr Laplana was Bishop of Cuenca in 1936 and was arrested with his manservant and his secretary by a group of militiamen. They were driven out to a roadside near Villar de Olalla where they were shot. Mgr Lapana received a wound to the hand as he was trying to bless his killers. After killing them, the militiamen mutilated their bodies.

Francisco Güell Albert, Parish Priest of Bellprat was arrested by militiamen who took him to Rocas de Paratge, where he was shot in the head and chest and was left for dead. Some local people found him and took him to the hopital at Igualada. However, tipped off by a doctor, the militiamen came to the hospital and took him to Pla de les Malles where they killed him.

Antonio Sierra Leyva, a former Administrador of Guadix Catedral was brutally beaten by militiamen in an attempt to make him blaspheme. As they were unable to do so, they doused him in petrol, set fire to him, and then buried him alive: throughout his agony he continued to reapeat “Father, forgive them”.

Perfecto Carrascosa, a Franciscan priest, fled from Madrid after three friars had been murdered, to the village of Villacañas where he had been born. He was arrested and brutally tortured by militiamen who wanted him to call his mother and the BVM whores. “My mother was not one, as well you know” he said; “and the Most Holy Virgin was always Immaculate”. He was badly burned by candles before being shot near Tembleque.

Holy Martyrs of Spain, pray for us.

03 November 2007

Fiorella de Maria

I read a book by this author recently - Fr William's Daughter - and I can't get it out of my thoughts - for the right reasons I should add. The blurb goes as follows:

"Francesca Saliba's father dies in a cleverly conducted traffic accident when she was eleven. As the only witness, she knew it was murder but only her English uncle, a West Country parish priest, believed her story. Her father's death marked the end of her Maltese childhood: within days, she had been spirited out of the country, her passport had been revoked and she found herself living in the eccentric little world of the one relative prepared to take her in - Father William Arrowsmith, the most English of men, the most Catholic of priests.

Father William's daughter tells the story of a refugee forced to start a new life in the alien world of an English market town and traces Francesca's journey home ten years later, where she begins her quest to discover why her father was killed and who betrayed him. But as Francesca and her long-suffering guardian revisit the murky post-independence world of her childhood, they are forced to acknowledge that the truth may be more elusive and more distressing than they could ever have imagined."
I had expected something like a detective story but found something rather more like an early P D James than an Agatha Christie. It is well written: sufficiently well written that I could imagine that she could develop into a real prose stylist. And she avoids sentimentalising a story that could have ended up dripping with saccharine.
She manages to evoke two different worlds: that of Catholics in a provincial town living in that semi-attached manner that Catholics outside the great clusters of the Faith in England have developed; and a Malta in which the problems of the late 1970s and early 1980s still smoulder beneath the surface ready to blaze up again. The main theme is about growing up and letting go, but I only realised that the second time through the book: I spent the first racing through to uncover the plot.
This is the Christmas present for somebody you can't really think what to get for, not least because in a few years time when she has become a bestselling author, they will be able to boast about how they have been reading her for years! But if you do buy it as a present, make sure you give yourself enough time to read it first!