30 June 2008

The Westminster Stakes: Confusing Signals

I am sure that Paddy Power is as convinced today as he was a week and a half ago that Archbishop Nichols has this in the bag but this afternoon, the Archbishop's odds have lengthened to 13-8, and nearly every other runner's odds have lengthened as well, most to the point where reality about their prospects is finally reflected in their price. However Fr Ignatius Harrison of the London Oratory has entered the running at 10-1: this is somebody taking the mickey, paying Paddy a few bob to get their friend's name on to the list.

Who is advising Paddy on this one? Is changing the odds simply about raising interest and attracting money? Or is he on to something?

And if the latter, why do Fr Timothy Radcliffe's odds remain so frighteningly and stubbornly short?

Rt Rev Vincent Nichols 13-8 (5-4) (2-1) (7-4) (2-1) (7-2)
Fr Timothy Radcliffe 6-1 (10-1) (6-1)
Dom Hugh Gilbert 8-1 (6-1) (4-1)
Rt Rev Kevin McDonald 8-1 (6-1) (5-1) (7-2)
Bishop William Kenney 10-1 (9-1) (8-1) (15-2) (6-1)
Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon 10-1 (8-1)
Very Rev. Fr. Ignatius Harrison 10-1
Rt Rev Alan Hopes 12-1 (10-1) (8-1) (6-1) (11-2)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche 12-1 (10-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Fr T Finegan 16-1 (10-1)
Cardinal Pell 16-1 (12-1) (10-1)
Rt Rev Peter Smith 16-1 (12-1)
Fr Aidan Nichols 20-1 (14-1) (12-1) (11-1) (5-1) (6-1)
Bishop George Stack 20-1 (16-1)
Rt Rev Michael Evans 22-1 (20-1) (16-1)
Rt Rev Patrick Kelly 25-1 (16-1) (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Fr Christopher Jamison 25-1 (20-1)
Bishop John Rawsthorne 25-1 (20-1)
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald 25-1 (16-1) (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue 33-1 (20-1) (16-1)
Rt Rev Bernard Longley 33-1 (20-1) (16-1) (14-1) (12-1)
Bishop John Patrick Crowley Non-runner (33-1)

A Tirade Of Abuse After A Hard Week

It was a hard week, honest, but it was punctuated one day by a farewell lunch at Champagne Charlie's underneath Charing Cross station which I left at half past seven after nearly eight hours!

Anyway ...

Four teenage boys who were confirmed asked the curate if they could become altar servers, and he asked them to serve one particular Mass, and while keen, reverent, and obviously trying hard, they were absolutely useless because while they had observed servers serving, they had never been trained. So, the curate asked me to take them in hand.

They have responded very well. We set as our aim that the best served Mass was one at which the congregation was unaware of how many servers there were, and during which the priest was never distracted or made to wait by something he needed's not being at exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

I also introduced, where possible, some of the things altar boys used to do: things like passing the cruet to the priest from the right hand and receiving it back in the left hand; or the triple ring of the bell at the elevation. The curate and the PP like it; the boys are happy (and keen to do more); and the congregation, insofar as it notices the servers any more, approves.

Until the weekend when the person with whom I had a disagreement a couple of weeks ago caught me outside the porch on the way out of Mass and, in a tirade of abuse, told me I was indoctrinating these boys to become Tridentinists, and to be like the priest's servants; for once the modern came to my rescue and I was able to ask why she thought they were called altar servers. "They are there to serve God, not the priest." But it was the three rings of the bell which most riled her: "it's mediaeval" she shouted.

I behaved properly, and didn't enter the discussion. This isn't a madwoman: she is highly educated and has a senior and responsible position. She is a Tabletista and a member of the Bishop's lay advisory group. And I think she is seeing her image of the Church slowly being toppled and knows that there is nothing she can do about it.

21 June 2008

The Westminster Stakes: Archbishop Nichols, Says Paddy Power

Archbishop Nicols is now as close to evens as we are likely to be going to see. Nobody else has moved. My guess is that this means one very big bet, or a reasonable number of medium-sized bets on the Archbishop of Birmingham.

REMINDER: the odds quoted below don't tell you what the Pope is thinking, as he looks at the possibles for Westminster: they tell you what "insiders" think is going to happen.

If I had ever put anything on Archbishop Nichols, I think I would be trying to lay it off: I can't think of anything that has happened recently that might advance his cause, other than a bunch of pious supporters punting at Paddy Power's.

The "Cardinal Pell for Westminster" movement seems to have gone very quiet: why?

I hope for his sake that Paddy isn't going to be as rash as he was in Ireland, paying out on a "Yes" referendum result before the count had even started.

Good fun, this, isn't it!

Rt Rev Vincent Nichols 5-4 (2-1) (7-4) (2-1) (7-2)
Fr Timothy Radcliffe 6-1 (10-1) (6-1)
Dom Hugh Gilbert 8-1 (6-1) (4-1)
Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon 8-1
Rt Rev Kevin McDonald 8-1 (6-1) (5-1) (7-2)
Bishop William Kenney 9-1 (8-1) (15-2) (6-1)
Rt Rev Alan Hopes 10-1 (8-1) (6-1) (11-2)
Rt Rev Arthur Roche 10-1 (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Fr T Finegan 10-1
Cardinal Pell 12-1 (10-1)
Rt Rev Peter Smith 12-1
Fr Aidan Nichols 14-1 (12-1) (11-1) (5-1) (6-1)
Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald 16-1 (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Patrick Kelly 16-1 (14-1) (12-1) (10-1) (12-1)
Rt Rev Bernard Longley 20-1 (16-1) (14-1) (12-1)
Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue 20-1 (16-1)
Bishop George Stack 20-1 (16-1)
Fr Christopher Jamison 20-1
Rt Rev Michael Evans 22-1 (20-1) (16-1)
Bishop John Rawsthorne 25-1 (20-1)
Bishop John Patrick Crowley Non-runner (33-1)

18 June 2008

Pope Rage

Fr Ray posted about Pope Rage and while I knew I had never met it, I recognised the sort of character who might be infected by it.

Then, this evening, I met one: somebody whose Parish now hosts Extraordinary Rite Mass; where, once a month - "every damn month" - the priest celebrates ad orientem: "the ******* turns his back on all of us and expects us just to watch his back"; and "says the Consecration bit in Latin whenever he wants to".

Her family has abandoned the parish, her husband has complained (though to whom is not quite clear), and anybody who disagrees with her is one of those "bad Benedictines" who want "to go back and pretend that Vatican II never happened".

She had thought that all present were Suppository readers.

She learned differently.

Books For Father's Day

The sort of thing you wake up to on Father's Day in this house looks like this, though the books are all more or less the same size.
"Amazing Tales for making Men out of Boys" is compendium of stories that we all used to know: Captain Scott; Sir John Moore; the Birkinhead; Rorke's Drift; but adds some new stories: the Penlee Lifeboat, for example; and some worth adding to the canon: Dien Bien Phu. These are the stories which evoke manliness and heroism.
"Madresfield" is the story of a house and family, best known nowadays as the inspiration for Brideshead Revisited, but of genuine interest in its own right.
"Terror and Consent" is the hard one. "He sets out with clarity and courage the first really comprehensive analysis of the struggle against terror" according to Tony Blair, and, for one, I agree with the ex-PM: as far as I've got in the book so far, he does.
Inspiring, interesting, important: it's hard to better than that in three books.

08 June 2008

Aliens Need Christ's Redemption Too

In an article in this week's Catholic Herald, "American science fiction writer John C Wright, a recent convert to Catholicism, considers how the Church should react to the discovery of alien life forms".

I used to read science fiction almost to the exclusion of all other fiction, other than that which was set for me at school or university. I had thought I had grown out of it - until I read this article.

I'm not going into the arguments about what sort of alien could be christened: there are cleverer people than me to do that. Read Wright's article.

What thrilled me in this essay was this image:

"Here we can see, once again, what seems to be a theological question is really a question of the poverty of imagination. It is hard to imagine in a cosmos so wide that God would incarnate in one small world. But this is really no harder than to imagine that in a world so wide, that God would incarnate in some humble dung-ridden stable in the poorest and remotest province of the Roman Empire, and that the herald angels would seek out, not the wise and great, not the senators of almighty Rome nor the philosophers of Athens nor even the learned Levites in Jerusalem, but a band of unwashed and unlettered shepherds from the hills, to announce the heavenly tidings. Why a little world like Earth on the ragged outskirts of the galaxy? Well, why a poor province like Judea, on the ragged outskirts of the empire?

It is no cause for pride if Earth should turn out to be the only world where the Incarnation took place. God often selects the younger son, the poor fisherman, the tax-collector, the harlot and the sinner, the weakest and humblest things in the world to do his almighty work. Earth may have been selected because she is the lowest world in the galaxy, the cosmic equivalent of a stinking stable.

In any case, imagining that God selected a lowly stable for His cradle is no harder and no different than imagining God selected a lowly world for His cradle; the difference is only in the magnitude of what one's imagination can grasp. "

05 June 2008

Adieu, SSPX!

"Good liturgy is good. But at this point in time, I frankly don't want the SSPX back. They may be nice people, but they don't act like it. They may be Catholic, but they don't act like it. Not that it matters--they won't ever want to come back, anyway. And it's better for both of us that way."

This is from a comment on Rorate Caeli about Bishop Fellay's latest comments about the Pope and his trip to America. And freemasonry. And liberalism. The Yawn! quotient is high.

The SSPX has become irrelevant in a way that it wasn't a relatively short while ago.

04 June 2008

From The Welsh

O pilgrim wearied from the storm,
Lift up thy gaze, behold the scene;
The Lamb, he is our Mediator,
In vestments flowing low and free;
With faithfulness as golden girdle
Bells thereon proclaim the sound
Of full forgiveness for the sinner
By infinite Atonement found.

Remember in thy state of weakness
But ankle deep the waters rise -
Yet without number are the cubits
Measured to you from the skies;
Though children of the resurrection,
Swimming in these waters wide;
No depth nor width can ever span
The substance of Bethesda's tide.

O wondrous depths of our salvation!
The holy secret here we find,
The God of gods he has appeared
In flesh and nature of mankind;
Here's the Person, he who suffered,
For us beneath the law he groaned,
Until Justice cried 'Sufficient,
Let him free, he has atoned.'

O happy hour of rest eternal
From all the labours that I bore;
Steeped in a sea of glorious wonders,
Endless without bound or shore;
Entrance free to dwell for aye
In the courts of Three in One,
A shoreless sea to swim for ever,
Man a God and God a Man.

Ann Griffiths Bererin llesg gan rym y stormydd trans Fr John Ryan OMI MA PhD

02 June 2008

Idle Speculation

Not too long ago, the Telegraph speculated that the terna being presented to Rome for the Westminster succession consisted of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Peter Smith and Bishop Arthur Roche.

Since then, Archbishop Nichols has commited his unfortunate faux pas on Radio 4, but Archbishop Smith has contributed materially to the cancellation of the LMS Mass in Cardiff.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned here, Bishop MacMahon, the Dominican Bishop whose priests like him as much as if he had been chosen from the secular clergy, has suddenly torn into Paddy Power's lists.

Now, I'm not a believer in post hoc ergo propter hoc, but it is possible to speculate that the terna was received in Rome and a relatively junior curial official got straight back to the Nunciature in London: "you can't seriously expect us to put up a terna without a single religious"; only for a new terna to be sent to Rome, excluding one of the three on the list, but adding Bishop MacMahon. (Rabbit hole: I wonder if the curial official was French; he might appreciate a MacMahon.)

Idle speculation: that's all this is.