Friday, 31 October 2008

SSPX at Lourdes

Rorate Caeli has reported on the recent pilgrimage to Lourdes of the Society of St Pius X. They have given links to some lovely photos of the Solemn Mass, the recitation of the Rosary and Benediction in the underground basilica of St Pius X which will have been used only because it is the only place large enough to hold the numbers of pilgrims attending.

Seeing these pictures, I have to ask why it is that the SSPX are able to hold functions freely in Lourdes whereas ordinary pilgrim groups wishing to celebrate the usus antiquior are presented with difficulties and obfuscation.

Let me be clear; I have no objection whatever to the SSPX celebrating their Masses and other spiritual exercises there. They give a fine example of Catholic devotion with a predominantly young following who offer inspiration to other pilgrims.

But if one of the intentions of Summorum Pontificum was to allow the usus antiquior to be celebrated more freely, and without bureaucratic restrictions, surely it should not be a problem for any group at Lourdes to celebrate Mass in the older form - in any of the chapels that could normally be booked for such groups.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

What the nazis built on

Cardinal O'Brien's open letter to Gordon Brown has been widely reported. He has compared the HFE Bill to the atrocities of the Nazis. (See: Embryo bill like Nazi atrocities, says Cardinal)

In September, I wrote about an essay by Malcolm Muggeridge in which he pointed out that the euthanasia programme in Germany was initiated by medical professionals before the Nazi party had risen to power. (See: "The life thou gavest, Lord, we've ended") The book entitled The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life was published by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding in 1920.

Many people start shrieking and wailing when the "N word" is used in relation to "culture of death" policies. It may be helpful to point out that the euthanasia of the disabled was already in place well before Hitler and the nazis rose to power. The medical establishment had paved the way for the gross atrocities of the National Socialists.

In the same way today, our morally bankrupt approach to human life leaves the way open in principle to any number of atrocities. The present government and the secularists who have promoted the destruction of human embryos and associated horrors may not be nazis themselves; but they have provided an open door to further assaults against human life. We cannot predict what these may be.

It is chilling to think that the precursors of the nazis were relatively moderate by comparison with the experimentation allowed by the HFE bill.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

APGL Conference today

Today we had the autumn Conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life (APGL). Fr John Saward spoke about Pius XII and preaching the Gospel of Life. A former Anglican clergyman, Fr Saward was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2003 and has had a distinguished academic career.

Father examined Pope Pius XII's defence of the sanctity of human life and the way in which he anticipated and provided the groundwork for much of the magisterial teaching of his successors. The hermeneutic of continuity (the concept, not the blog) was a key to understanding this teaching. Of particular interest was his reference to Pius XII's insistence on the ordering of the ends of marriage - something that will be worth looking up in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis - and his observations on the Acts of the Second Vatican Council relating to the relevant passage of Gaudium et Spes.

In the second part of his talk, Fr Saward examined the teaching of Pope Pius XII on fatherhood and the way in which the spiritual fatherhood of the priest complements the natural fatherhood within the family. Fr Saward's was quite brilliant and we hope to publish it in due course as part of a collection of papers given to the APGL.

After lunch, I gave a short spiritual reflection. I spoke about the importance of pro-life preaching and therefore (in order for this preaching to be authentic) of the importance of the priest bringing the sanctity of human life into his own prayer and meditation. As an example of this, I offered some thoughts on the first three joyful mysteries of the Rosary, especially drawing from Fr Faber's reflection on Mary's pregnancy in his hymn "Like the Dawning of the Morning." We concluded with Rosary and Benediction in the Little Oratory, led by Fr Marcus Holden.

As ever, it was good to spend time in the company of faithful and hard-working priests who are committed to preaching and living the Gospel of Life in a country that has done so much to promote the culture of death.

Petition demanding protection for Iraqi Christians

Ed West is organising a petition to 10 Downing Street to demand protection for Iraqi Christians. It reads:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to demand from the Iraqi Government protection for Iraq's Christians, especially those who have recently fled the city of Mosul. We also ask for assistance for those who have fled, measures to ensure the safety of those who wish to return, and a full investigation into who is responsible for the murders. More details
Further information:
At least 13 Christians have been murdered in the city of Mosul in the last two weeks, and around 10,000 Christians have fled the city. These are just the latest attacks: since the 2003 invasion up to half of Iraq's 800,000 Christians have fled persecution, kidnappings and murder. According to the UN High Commission on Refugees the Christians, just 3 per cent of the pre-war population, account for over a third of overseas refugees. Without protection Iraq's ancient minority, who have been Christian since the 2nd century and speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, will die out. Even before the current disaster Britain has a long history of letting down Iraq's Christians, also known as Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs. Britain has a duty to help protect them.

There is also widespread suspicion among Mosul's Christians that groups allied to the Kurdish Regional Government are behind the killings, as part of a plan to annex the province of Nineveh. An impartial investigation should look into these claims.
Sign the petition

(Deadline 23 December 2008. You have to be a British citizen or resident to sign.)

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Santa Maria in Trastevere

I just discovered that I had prepared these photos of Santa Maria in Trastevere to post. "Trastevere" means "across the Tiber" and the area has its own quaint and traditional character. Above is the square outside the basilica; here is an overview of the interior:

All students have to note that the columns are assorted. This is common in Roman Churches because they (and the capitals) were scavenged from older buildings or fished out of the Tiber or something. Apparently the capitals here were taken from the Baths of Caracalla.

The ceiling is magnificent in its own right:

Typically of ancient Churches in Rome, Santa Maria in Trastevere combines art and architecture from across the centuries: ancient columns, cosmatesque paving, 17th century ceiling (by Domenichino), 6th century painting of Our Lady, 13th century apse mosaic, 19th century arch, 1702 facade by Carlo Fontana... The various additions do not seem to detract from the atmosphere if ancient Christian Rome that wafts through the Church which is on the site of one of the early Roman "tituli" founded at least as early as the reign of Callixtus I, around 220.

Document on psychological testing of candidates for the seminary

This coming Thursday, there will be a Press Conference at the Holy See Press Office to present a document of the Congregation for Catholic Education "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood."

The speakers at the press conference will be Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, Secretary of the Congregation, and Fr Carlo Bresciani, a psychologist and a consultor to the Congregation who has written on bioethics and sexual morality.

Here is the original (Italian) announcement in the Vatican Bollettino. And here is the Catholic News Services story.

CNS reports that the Congregation has been working on this document for at least six years and notes that the pyschological testing of candidates for the priesthood is a controversial issue at the Vatican.

I would agree that some sort of psychological evaluation of candidates if a fairly obvious necessity but I'm nervous about the use of psychometric testing. Many years ago, I actually did a degree in psychology (joint with philosophy) at Oxford. From that time, I picked up a skepticism about the validity and methodology of psychometric testing.

The book "After Asceticism" which I reviewed in the Jan-Feb 2008 Faith Magazine, criticised the use of a secular "therapeutic mentality" and referred favourable to the work of the Catholic psychologist, Dom Thomas Verner Moore in the first half of the 20th century. It seems to me that the "therapeutic mentality" still influences some of the use of psychology in the Church, and that we have not adequately taken account of the scathing indictment by William Coulson of the work that he participated in with Carl Rogers. (See for example:Carl Rogers and the IHM Nuns: Sensitivity Training, Psychological Warfare and the "Catholic Problem" and "We overcame their traditions, we overcame their faith."

For various reasons, then, I look forward to reading the new document from the Congregation for Catholic Education.


The door pictured above is in the entrqance to the Vatican Information Services office on the Via Dei Corridori. We were staying at the Hotel Bramante just off this road last week and the restaurant just across the road was the Osteria San Pietro at which we lunched one day. I just noticed in the photo that not only do you have a clear view of part of the colonnade of the Piazza San Pietro, but also of the window from which the Holy Father gives his Angelus address each Sunday.

Chant Workshop

The Schola Gregoriana Sancti Nicolai have sent details of their forthcoming Chant Workshop and I am happy to pass these on:

Chant Workshop
10.00 – 16.30

Farnborough Abbey – (near station)
with the support of Fr Abbott


1000 Registration
1030 Workshop Part I
Office of Sext - chanted by the monks
Break for Lunch
Workshop Part II
Office of None - chanted by the monks
Break for coffee
Workshop Part III
1630 Workshop completes
1645 Office of Vespers - chanted by the monks

Syllabus – chant introduction & practice to include:

a. Ordinary - Mass IV Cunctipotens Genitor Deus
b. Propers for feast of St Nicholas

Music materials will be provided

Tea will be provided & sandwiches for lunch - at a small charge

Fees - £15 (including tea but excluding lunch)

All Welcome – Including Beginners


Arranged by Schola Gregoriana Sancti Nicolai

Monday, 27 October 2008

Faith and Family Conference a roaring success

I am very pleased to pass on this report from Richard Marsden (Bashing Secularism) about the Faith and Family Conference that was held at London Colney last weekend. I am so glad that this conference, organised by two of my parishioners, was such a success.

Faith and Family abound

Families and young people from across the United Kingdom were inspired to convert England back to Catholicism through family life at a weekend conference.

About 200 people flocked to the Faith, the Family, the Future conference at the Diocese of Westminster’s All Saints Pastoral Centre in London Colney, St Albans, to reaffirm the orthodox Catholic teaching on the family.

Dominican friar and eminent theologian Father Aidan Nichols told parents and young people it was time to “pick up the torch” in the hope of restoring England back to her ancient faith and defeating secularism.

Fr Nichols said: “Seek to develop a Catholic culture in you home morally, devotionally and intellectually. In so doing you will take further the conversion of England almost without realising it.”

During his talk on “Rediscovering Catholic Culture”, Fr Nichols said it was humiliating for an ancient nation like England that has produced saints and institutions promoting virtue to be replaced by an “ethos of self interest”.

“What we’ve seen in recent years is secular elites using the legislature to inculcate on morality, or possibly a non-morality, of a very different kind and using such public instruments as OFSTED or the Equality and Human Rights Commission as well as the BBC to bring into line schools, charities and, through the role of the television in the household, the opinions of ordinary citizens,” he added.

He said Catholics had a huge fight on their hands to defeat the secularism that, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger put it in 2003, “is beginning to turn into an ideology that imposes itself through politics and leaves no public space for the Catholic and Christian vision”.

But Fr Nichols said a return to a moral, devotional, intellectual way of life in the home would help the conversion of England.

The conference, organised by Catholic families from south London, was a mixture of talks, social activities and prayer. Mass and Benediction were held on both days of the event, which also included a Blessed Sacrament Procession and all-night Eucharistic Adoration.

A spokesman for the organisers of the conference said: “We wanted to bring families so they feel supported to share their faith and spread it. One person said this was the best and most effective support they have had in years.”

In other talks, Antonia Tully, coordinator of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s Safe and School campaign, exposed a number of Government initiatives that subject children the sex education and undermine the role of parents.

She raised concerns about increasing numbers of “nurture” rooms in schools and described the government agency Connexions, that promotes organisations like the Family Planning Association and the Brook Pregnancy Advisory Service, as “pernicious”.

Mrs Tully, a mother of six, said: “It seems to me that the Government is taking over the role of parents. This is something we need to be aware of.” She went on to explain the important of parents as protectors and educators of their children.

Fr Roger Nesbitt, co-founder of the Faith Movement, said the family was a “microcosm of the Church” and that “only in Christ do we find the true meaning of marriage”.

Johannes Waldstein presented a talk originally given by his father, Michael, at the Valencia World Meeting of Families 2006. It gave a refreshing vision of the interplay between a father and his developing children and emphasised that a father can learn from his children. Johannes’s parents, Michael and Susan, are on the Pontifical Academy for Marriage and the Family started by Pope John Paul II.

Southwark Diocese vocations director Fr Stephen Langridge addressed the question of “responding to the call in our secular world” and Lancaster Diocese director of education Fr Luiz Ruscillo spoke about passing on the faith to children.

Jenny Pfang and Sian Martin, who have both taught Natural Family Planning (NFP), along with LIFE Education officer Joanne Hill, explored the heart of the Church’s teaching on love and marriage.

Sessions and activities were also held for children and teenagers over the weekend. “Understanding confession”, “Amazing Saints” and “Chastity” were just some of the workshop titles. A tug of war, sports, music sessions and a “saints trail” kept youngsters entertained.

The talks were recorded and will soon be available to buy. To do this, email Faith and Family at or visit the Faith and Family website.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Don't worry! Be happy!

Some years ago, I remember a "hit" song that my youth group liked called "Don't worry! Be happy!" The fun and lilting caribbean voice made it a popular and amusing invitation to "chill out".

The atheist bus adverts promise people a worry-free existence if they will only accept that there is "probably" no God. This is not very reassuring in itself - to be free of worry, you would really need to be certain that there is no God - but let that pass.

Who can have a worry-free existence? This was essentially the problem that exercised the Stoics and other ancient philosophers in search of the "Beata vita", the blessed, or calm and contented life. Seneca and others got close when saying that freedom from fear and desire was the key. An ascetical life would free you from the desire that nags and worries. Acceptance of whatever happens will free you from fear.

Without the teaching of Christ, however, this search for the beata vita will be doomed to frustration. At this time of the year, we reflect on the Four Last Things: death, judgement, hell and heaven; exactly those eternal truths that Richard Dawkins and his friends think condemn us all to worry and unhappiness. In fact, they liberate us to enjoy life and life more abundant. By seeing our present lives in the perspective of eternity, we do not solve all our present worries but we are freed from seeing them as final. We are open to a glorious future in which:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. (Rev 21.4)
In "The God Delusion", Dawkins taunted Christians with the challenge that they should not fear death. Two examples come to mind from England in the reign of Henry VIII. St Thomas More marvelled at how the Carthusian martyrs went to their gruesome deaths at Tyburn singing the psalms as though they were on their way to a wedding.

I also love the story of St John Fisher's final hours in the Tower. On 22 June 1535, when the Lieutenant of the Tower of London came to tell him that he was to be executed that morning, there was this exchange:
‘Well,’ quoth the Bishop, ‘if this be your errand hither, it is no news unto me; I have looked daily for it. I pray you, what is it a’clock?’

‘It is,’ quoth the Lieutenant, ‘about five.’

‘What time,’ quoth the bishop, ‘must be mine hour to go out hence?’

‘About ten of the clock,’ said the Lieutenant.

‘Well, then,’ quoth the bishop, ‘I pray you, let me sleep an hour or twain. For I may say to you, I slept not much this night, not for fear of death, I tell you, but by reason of my great sickness and weakness.’
In other words, "Although I am going to have my head chopped off in a couple of hours, I'm a bit tired and I'd just like to get a little more sleep."

Don't worry! Be happy!

FSSP Retreats in England

Fr Armand de Mallerary of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter will be giving retreats in England in Advent and Lent. Both retreats will be held at Douai Abbey in Berkshire (Upper Woolhampton RG7 5TQ) and at both retreats Holy Mass will be offered each day in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Here are further details:

Monday 8th December 2008 at 2pm until Thursday 11th December 2008 at 11am

Theme: Our Lady and the Incarnation

Cost: £137 - to cover:
1-Accommodation: single room with en-suite bathroom, full board. The Guest Master suggests a donation of £125 per person (individual discount granted on request)
2-Preacher: a minimum £12 per person would be expected in order to cover Fr de Malleray’s expenses.

From Monday 2nd March 2009 at 2pm until Friday 6th March 2009 at 11am

Theme: "By his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5)

Cost: £169 - to cover:
1-Accommodation: single room with en-suite bathroom, full board. The Guest Master suggests a donation of £155 per person (individual discount granted on request)
2-Preacher: a minimum £14 per person would be expected in order to cover Fr de Malleray’s expenses.

For either retreat, contact Fr de Malleray (Email: malleray[at]

Dr Pink at the Oratory, Thursday

For young adults, (up to 18-35) there is an opportunity to hear Dr Tom Pink speak on Thursday 30 October at the London Oratory "Call to Youth" series. He will be giving a talk on "How should Catholics work for Christian unity?"

You can also read a good article by Dr Pink on the subject.

Killing off "non persons"

Dr Tom Pink, reader in Philosophy at Kings College, London, has written on the ethics of humanity for the Cornerstone Group blog (see: A gross assault on human nature)

He draws attention to the basic universal ethics of humanity that dictates that we should not deliberately aim at the death of an innocent fellow human. As he says, "there is nothing specifically religious in this view." Referring particularly to the work of Peter Singer, he warns that the ethics of humanity are now under threat because of the limitation of "personhood" to those who have self-consciousness and the capacity for "reason" and "autonomy".

Because these qualities are not clear-cut, the right to be treated with respect (and not to be deliberately killed) becomes a matter for negotiation and debate. Furthermore, as Dr Pink warns:
... once the ethics of humanity is abandoned, the alleged human right to autonomy may not long offer very much protection. For suppose a human is judged not actually competent to choose. Then their humanity may no longer protect them, since - in Singer’s terms - they may no longer be properly ‘persons’.
The article was written before the passing of the HFE Bill last week and is a timely reminder of "the terrible directions in which this thought is moving."

I am sure that many legislators who have allowed this ghastly law onto the statute book have not thought through the ethical principles that have led us to the point where the importance of the human-animal species divide has been ignored in favour of the creation of hybrid embryos. It is not the first time that lazy and utilitarian thinking has led to laws that pave the way for horrors that the legislators could have foreseen if they had a minimal understanding of how important are the fundamental principles of respect for humanity and the right to life.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

We shall fight them on the buses...

Well done Paulinus (In Hoc Signo Vinces), for this:

(If you didn't get the point, here is an example story.)

Meeting people in Rome

Near the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, there are several shops selling vestments and Church plate. Meeting priest friends there is almost inevitable and the other day was no exception. In addition, I made the acquaintance of a most affable priest from the Society of St Pius X, working in County Dublin, who kindly told me that he reads this blog. (Very good to meet you Father!)

Shop windows in Rome, like those in Oxford Street, tell something of changing fashions. For some time, Gammarelli has had Roman vestments displayed; but Barbiconi is now catching up fast with no fewer than three such vestments in one window:

Here is a closer view of that purple vestment:

Even De Ritis (which Fr Guy Nicholls and I used to refer to jokingly as "De Ritibus") has a roman vestment alongside the cowled polyester garments.

Notice that the Roman vestments are always arranged to display the back of the vestment whereas the modern ones are "facing the people" ;-)

BTW - in response to enquiries: yes I will post photos of the green vestments that arrived from Gammarelli's the other day. I will also make sure that photos are taken when they are first used (i.e. next week since tomorrow is the feast of Christ the King in the old calendar.)

Una Voce report on SP implementation

Many thanks to Jane at Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism for news of a report compiled by the International Una Voce Federation concerning the application of Summorum Pontificum during the year since its promulgation. At the French Una Voce website, you can download the original French text.

Jane has generously spent time writing a number of posts, translating and analysing various sections of the report. These will, of course, be particularly helpful if you cannot read the French original. (I hope that perhaps the Una Voce Federation will make available an English translation of this important document.)

The report is written expressely to give the Holy Father information from the laity, pointing out frankly that in the past, reports from Bishops have failed to give a true reflection of the desire of the faithful for the traditional liturgy.

The report accurately describes the varied character of responses to Summorum Pontificum and lists some Bishops who have been particularly positive. It also points out that there has been some opposition to the expressed will of the Holy Father and that in some places, there is even a fear among priests that being associated with the traditional liturgy will have negative consequences.

The report is balanced and moderate in tone; it offers a helpful contribution to the assessment of progress in implementing the Motu Proprio one year on. Una Voce intend to offer reports after the next two years as well.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Back from Rome

Arriving back in the presbytery, even after a four day holiday, means a mountain of post to deal with. I was surprised and pleased to see that the box from Gammarelli's, containing the new green vestments, has already arrived. I'll let the altar servers open that tomorrow.

It is odd to think that only this morning I made a last visit to the tomb of St Peter to gain the indulgence. Returning through London via the new Terminal 5 (more about that sometime) I thank God for getting us home safely. England was a rude awakening as we were treated to a piece of "advertorial" in favour of Barack Obama, courtesy of BBC news 24.

I did say that I don't post recommendations for restaurants but I have to tell you about La Barca, a wonderful fish restaurant on the corner of the Borgo Angelico and the Via del Falco, near the Borgo Pio. If you like seafood, this is really worth a visit.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A restaurant recommendation

I don't usually post recommendations for restuarants. Frankly, despite everyone's "to die for" place in Rome, most of the eating houses are pretty good and you can follow the usual rules about choosing places a little away from the main tourist areas and do very well.

Today, however, Fr Charles and I happened, in God's providence, on somewhere rather special. After visiting Santa Maria in Trastevere, it was time for lunch and so we wandered off the square a little to find somewhere. This was where we landed up:

It looks fairly ordinary but when we realised that La Trattoria degli Amici was run by the Sant Egidio community, we immediately asked for a table. Here is a picture of the table cover which explains the ethos of the restaurant:

One of the features of the restaurant is "Wine for Life" where Italian wine producers help a holistic programme to treat those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

We had an excellent Barbera D'Alba (Domenico Clerico 2006 Trevigne) to accompany Mezze maniche all'amatriciana and Prosciutto e mozzarella, followed by a very good Saltimbocca alla Romana. The fizzy water came in a carafe, presumably gassed on the premises which is perfectly sensible.

The restaurant is a co-operative venture sponsored by the community of Sant' Egidio. Working people with disabilities are accompanied by friends who help out voluntarily: "because we do not believe in a world divided in two."

This is a great enterprise and not in any way patronising. I do not think I have seen a better wine list anywhere in Rome and the food is fresh, well prepared Roman fare. If you are going to visit Santa Maria in Trastevere, this is a highly recommended place to eat afterwards.

Bl Pio Nono and the new liturgy

Next door to the Campo Verano is the paleo-Christian basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura. This was an important stopping place on our pilgrimage because the crypt houses the body of Blessed Pope Pius IX. His memory seems to become more important by the day as democratic governments trample on basic human dignity. Only yesterday the British parliament voted to extend the lethal abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. (See John Smeaton's report)

I cannot resist pointing out again the way in which this basilica gives the lie to much of what passes for the justification of "modern liturgy". We are told that in the early Church, the proclamation of the word was terribly important, as was the Paschal candle. Hence the lectern for the word of God:

And hence the paschal candle:

Yet the actual ambo and paschal candle stand from an earlier Christian era, which we are supposed to be beholden to, are unused:

There are several Churches in Rome which replicate this unanswerable demonstration of the poverty of the modern liturgy.

Praying for the dead

The Campo Verano is Rome's principal cemetery and has vaults for many colleges and religious orders as well as impressive tombs for noble families. Here is a view of the cemetery chapel:

Fr Charles and I went there today to say a prayer for Fr Chris Pemberton and other buried in the English College vault.

We also remembered dear Mgr Frank Frayne who used to take students on their first visit to St Peter's Basilica. He worked for many years faithfully at the Pontifical Commission for Migrants and Tourists.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Little gems in Rome

The centro storico of Rome has hundreds of little Churches; they seem small because the standard of comparison is the Major Basilicas. One of my favourites is the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena which is a rare example of Roman roccoco. At the front of the Church on the epistle side is a chapel with the crucifix before which St Camillus was praying; the arms of Our Lord detached themselves from the cross and reached out to St Camillus who then founded his order for the care of the sick.

Later in the day, I took a stroll off to the east of the Campo de' Fiori, hoping to find the Church of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini. I could have looked it up on a map, of course, but it is pleasant just to wander around those old streets. Coming across a Church that I thought was in roughly the right place, I met Fr Brendan Gerard FSSP on the steps.

SSma Trinita is a real gem - my photo above was taken on the camera phone. I'll have the proper camera with me later. It is good to see a Roman Church in its original splendour without a table in front of the High Altar and without electric candle stands blocking the way to the side altars. At SSma Trinita, the side altars all have altar cards and a missal ready for priests to say Mass.

Fr Charles and I will be calling over there later today to say Mass. But first we must stroll along to St Peter's Square and receive the blessing of the Holy Father. It's wonderful the things you can just stroll along to in Rome! The Holy Father includes family and friends in the blessing that he gives. I will make an explicit intention to include the readers of this blog.

Shopping done

Barbiconi's were more than happy to measure me up for a ferraiuolo. They commented that most of their orders for these things come from England. A ferraiuolo is a cape worn over the cassock on formal non-liturgical occasions. It is appropriate for clergy to wear one at an occasion where lay people dress formally for dinner. Mgr Gilbey proposed a set of more detailed rules. I also bought a couple of tabbed clerical shirts - I know the younger clergy tell me to wear stiff collars all the time but I am from that sloppy generation ;-)

At Gammarelli's, I chose a set of green vestments. At 475 euro, this works out at just under £370 on the current exchange rate. This is really very good for a fine five piece set (chasuble, stole, maniple, veil, and burse). It should arrive in England early next week.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Mass at St Peter's

I took that picture this morning at about 7.15am on my way into St Peter's. Back in April 2006, in pre-Summorum Pontificum times, I tried out the Ecclesia Dei rescript without success.

Nowadays, saying Mass in the usus antiquior at St Peter's is not a problem. I turned up with my travelling Missal and waited in line for vestments and a chalice. There was a little wait today because there are a number of priests and Bishops attending the Synod who want to say Mass. The usual thing at St Peter's is that a server will carry the cruets and missal to a free altar, put the cruets on the lavabo tray and then leave. There were at least two or three priests saying Mass in the older form. Nobody seemed to mind or really notice much. It really shows that there was no need for such a fuss all these years.

I was reminded this morning how easy it is to take things for granted in a City so full of history as Rome. I had started Mass before I averted to the fact that I was saying Mass at the altar which holds the mortal remains of Pope Leo I. He was the 5th century Pope who went to meet Attila the Hun to persuade him not to march on Rome. His "Tome" was the standard of orthodoxy in Christology and was accepted basis for the Chalcedonian confession of faith.

The hotel we are staying in is right next to the "Corridor" which links Castel Sant' Angelo with the Vatican. This photo is taken from one of the courtyards of the hotel:

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Bloggers' meeting in Rome

I would like to invite any bloggers or readers of my blog to meet up at the Bar Pantheon on Tuesday at between 12noon and 1pm. If you are free, it would be great to see you. Above is a picture of the Pantheon which indicates the location of the homonymous bar.

"To do" list for Rome

From Monday to Friday this week, I will be in the Eternal City with Fr Charles Briggs for a little break. here is a list of things that I would like to do this week:
  • Buy a Ferraiuolo at Barbiconi's
  • Eat a Roman Pizza Capricciosa
  • Buy a green Roman Low Mass set at Gammarelli's
  • Say Mass in the usus antiquior at St Peter's (about 7.30am Tuesday if you want to come)
  • Visit the Church of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini
  • Drink a small glass of Nardini Grappa
  • Receive the blessing of the Holy Father at the General Audience
We will be around for a bloggers' meeting. Details of that in a separate post.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Youth Sunday

A parish priest's postbag regularly includes a large envelope containing a full colour folder with "Liturgy Suggestions" for "whatever-it-is-this-month Sunday". The "Youth Sunday" pack is usually particularly silly. Over the past few years, these "resources" have been posted on the web as well. This year, with the increasing number Catholic bloggers, that strategy seems to have been a mistake. Normally, the parish priest throws the pack into the bin and that is the end of it. But now, intelligent young Catholics all over the world have been able to see the stuff. The resulting storm of sarcasm and fury is not pretty.

Anna Arco at her new blog Anna Arco's Diary looks on the bright side:
Something positive has emerged from the newest revolting antics of the Youth Services office. On the web, in emails, on Facebook, young Catholics have been discussing the Mass. Suddenly, the Justice and Peace posse are talking to the Theology of the Body gang, the mantilla-ed Trads are talking to the be-sandaled Charismos. It seems, everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet and the words do not begin with "Brilliant God..."
You have probably read elsewhere about asking forgiveness for over-filling our kettles, the sheep and goats mime and the idea of giving out FairTrade chocolates after communion, wrapped with instructions to use low-energy light bulbs. Here is a link if you want to see a pdf of the whole liturgy pack.

Anna has hit the nail on the head with this comment:
Anyone over 16 who decides to continue fulfilling the Sunday obligation after leaving home has made a conscious decision to do so. There are no social pressures getting bottoms on pews anymore; the situation is quite the opposite. A Mass like the one proposed for National Youth Sunday merely patronises and trivialises that decision.
The "Youth Mass" ethos harks back to a time when young people felt under some pressure to go to Mass and it was thought helpful to try and entertain them. As well as being contrary to the nature of the liturgy, this was a failure on its own terms: even the most wacky "liturgy" will never be able to compete successfully with the secular entertainment available to the young and will simply appear ludicrous. (Hint: they are laughing at you, not with you.)

I haven't been idle, however, I have been over to Angelus Press to get some copies of "The Mass for Boys and Girls" and the comic-strip book "Know your Mass". They should be here in time for Youth Sunday.

St Philip Howard - feast and film

Tomorrow is the feast of St Philip Howard so this is just a reminder of the DVD produced by Mary's Dowry Productions which I wrote about in august (See: Two fascinating DVDs)

Mary's Dowry Productions are currently working on three new films. Bernadette tells me that the St Edmund Campion costume arrived today :-) I'm looking forward to the film about priest holes.

A Pope blog?

Zenit reports that Agnes Lam, president of the Catholic Biblical Association of Hong Kong and a lay auditor at the Synod of Bishops, as suggested that the Holy Father should start a blog. (See: A blogging Benedict XVI)

This is an absolutely top hole idea. Let me just say that if the Holy Father needs an editor/dogsbody for his blog, I'm happy to oblige ;-)

Fr Z suggests that some of the Bishops were asking their neighbours "What's a blog?" You could imagine a Private Eye style dialogue:
Mr Justice Cocklecarrot: What is a blog?

Counsel for the prosecution (Messrs Sue Grabbit and Runne): A blog M'Lud, is a series of articles posted on the internet in reverse chronological order

Mr Justice Cocklecarrot: What is the internet?

Counsel for the prosecution: The internet M'Lud is like a series of tubes ... (etc ad nauseam)
The Curt Jester has a fun post up about this too: Blogger of the Universal Church. He has this picture and caption:

New options for the end of Mass

The revised Editio Typica Tertia of the Missale Romanum was printed last week. I expect that there has been a serious attempt to correct the many misprints in the last printing. One new feature is to add three options for the end of Mass in addition to "Ite missa est." The new options are:
"Ite ad Evangelium Domini nuntiandum"
"go to announce the Gospel of the Lord"
"Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum"
"go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your lives"; and simply, 
"Ite in pace" with "alleluia, alleluia" added during Easter season.
"go in peace (alleluia, alleluia)."
Fr Z comments acerbically "Because we really need more options." I agree with his take on this but would add the question I wrote about a year ago: Why choose a particular text?

What criteria will a priest use to choose which of the dismissals to use? Will he plan the choice with a Liturgy Committee? Will he assess the options in the light of the scripture readings for the day? Or will he simply decide along the lines of "We had that one yesterday."?

Michael Davies once pointed out that the number of options in the Novus Ordo mean that a priest could say Mass every day of his life without every using the same combinations twice. The CDW have now multiplied the number of permutations by four.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Double-standards at YouTube

There is an interesting article on the Richard Dawkins fan site (Petition YouTube for Pat Condell). Pat Condell has posted a video to YouTube criticising the Saudi-based islamicisation of Britain and, in particular, arguing against the use of Sharia Law. His video has been pulled by YouTube and he has been warned that his "violation of the community guidelines" may result in his account being terminated.

Meanwhile, over at mediawatchwatch (not to be confused with the excellent Media Watch UK) there is an article celebrating the restoration of "free speech" in that YouTube have allowed the videos of people desecrating the Blessed Sacrament to be shown, but deprecating the censorship of Pat Condell.

Anyone, secularists included, can see that there is a blatant double-standard operating here.

A pitfall to be avoided

Diogenes has made an important point about unnecessary concessions to anti-life rhetoric:
Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, in a column for his archdiocesan paper the Catholic Review, laments the public image of the pro-life movement:

"How unfortunate it is that the pro-life movement comes across to some as angry, reproachful or excessively judgmental."

"Comes across to some..." Who are these "some" people who see pro-lifers in such a negative light? Why of course it's their political foes, the champions of unrestricted abortion on demand.
See: An unconscious plug for the other side. Diogenes continues:
Yes, it's unfortunate that the pro-abortion side, amply represented in the mass media, controls the terms of public debate, and distorts the public perceptions of pro-life work. That doesn't mean the archbishop should reinforce their rhetoric.
This is an easy mistake to make when public figures try to appear reasonable and show "both sides" of a debate. Experienced pro-lifers can help speakers avoid this mistake.

Good news for Northern Ireland's babies

Abortion plans for Northern Ireland abandoned due to peace process. Pro-abortion MPs had been planning to table amendments to the HFE bill that would legalise abortion in Northern Ireland. They have been tipped off by ministers that this could upset the peace process. Unfortunately, there are still plans to try to make abortion easier in the rest of the UK. Mark Pritchard MP said:
"The decision appears to be more about extending the political life of the Prime Minister - rather than the Government extending the lives of the unborn.

It appears ministers are still determined to introduce 'drive-thru' abortions where mothers can bypass the advice of their local GP, drive straight to their local clinic and place an order for an abortion."
As the Telegraph reports, opposition to abortion is one area in which the Nationalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland agree.

Of course, the Family Planning Association is still campaigning for abortion in Northern Ireland against the wishes of the people there.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Visit to Oxford

Yesterday I travelled to my one-time home of Oxford to give the first in a series of three talks at the Oxford Oratory to mark the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae. The Fathers kindly invited me to join them for Oratory and Dinner beforehand. "Oratory" is a custom preserved unchanged since the time of St Philip with 20 minutes silent meditation before the Blessed Sacrament, followed by the Litany of Loreto, the Sub Tuum Praesidium and various other prayers. The community is thriving and indeed working very hard at various pastoral projects. They are also in the middle of a restoration of the area above the High Altar so there was scaffolding in the Church. I look forward to seeing the completed work.

Last year, I spoke to the Newman Society in Oxford on the same subject but this was an event mainly intended for parishioners of St Aloysius. There was a good response and I was delighted to meet a number of old friends. Andrew and Dora Nash were there Dora has had two excellent books published by Gracewing: "Confirmed in Faith" (for Confirmation preparation) and "Jesus Comes to Me" (for First Holy Communion). the easiest way to find them is to search for "Dora Nash" at Family Publications.

Speaking of Family Publications, a long-standing friend, Valerie Riches was also there. Valerie and Denis founded Family and Youth Concern and Family Publications. Many years ago, Valerie wrote "Sex and Social Engineering" which was a far-sighted and pioneering critique of sex-education. This has now been updated and published as "Sex Education or Indoctrination". Her dear husband, Denis, died last December: while he knew that he was dying, he and Valerie jointly authored "Built on Love: An Autobiography for Two."

After the talk, I was introduced to Robin Aitken who wrote the excellent book "Can we trust the BBC?" (you've got three guesses.) Chatting to him, it was fairly clear that we are, as Fr Z puts it "on the same page".

Oxford always brings happy memories flooding back. On this visit, I decided to make a pilgrimage to Blackwell's and in particular to the Norrington Room downstairs:

The Norrington Room has three miles of shelving and so I made my way down further into the bowels of the great bookseller "to whom we all owe so much" as one way but it in the days when they routinely offered credit to undergraduates. (Perhaps they still do?) The Philosophy and Psychology shelves are adjacent - these were my sources for course books, but they are also next to the Theology section where I spent a lot of my time. Impoverished undergraduates cannot always afford to buy the books they need to read and there were always people sat on the floor making their way through texts before putting them back on the shelves. I see that chairs are now provided.

On the way to the station, I called in to The Ashmolean for a brief wander among the antiquities.

I was particularly struck by this writing board from 2nd century AD Egypt:

The information board tells us that it is:
A school-boy's wooden writing-board inscribed in ink with a paraphrase and glossary of lines 349-373 of Book IV of Homer's Iliad describing an exchange between Agamemnon and Odysseus during the battle which followed Pandaro's treacherous attack on Menelaus
But of course, education has moved on so far since those times 0-)

"Live chastely" pledge

In 2006, the Catholic Youth Service issued a press release on the website of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, to announce that National Youth Sunday would launch the "LiveSimply" challenge to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter Populorum Progressio.

This year's National Youth Sunday is the third one in a row with materials supporting the LiveSimply challenge. James Preece at Catholic and Loving it! suggests: "I think it's fair to say we've covered the LiveSimply theme." He continues:
The fortieth year anniversary of Populorum Progressio has passed. I believe time has come to mark the fortieth anniversary of Humanae Vitae with a new promise to LiveChastely.
And why not indeed? Even if you agree with the political agenda of "Sustainable Development" it is a bit of an "easy sell" for youth workers. Young people are bombarded from many sources with encouragement to recycle, save the planet and wear funny hats for chariddy. It would be something of an understatement to say that the message of chastity is not supported in the same way. It is routinely undermined by talk of "safer sex" and confidential advice from the school nurse on where to get the morning after pill.

At his post: LiveChastely, James reports that currently the most popular pledge on the "LiveSimply" promise site is to sign a seedpacket and send it to your MP. That promise currently has 22 people signed up. James is aiming to get 1000 people to sign up to the LiveChastely pledge. In order to reach this target by the 41st anniversary of Humanae Vitae (25 July 2009) he needs some publicity.

So please, go sign up; and put the link to his pledge on your blog. (From anywhere in the world: you don't have to live in the UK.)

Cry for help from Iraqi Christians

Iraqi Christians in Need (ICIN) is a charity set up to help needy Iraqi Christians who have been suffering, displaced, destitute or persecuted as a result of the war. The other day, the Times reported on the "religious cleansing" that has recently escalted in the country.

ICIN reports that the crisis in Mosul (Nineveh) is becoming increasingly desperate and that
During the past few days, many Christians have been killed in Mosul, just because they are Christians. Several thousands have fled their houses and took refuge in Churches in the city and nearby mountains.
In response, ICIN has made a substantial donation from its reserve and will send this, together with what is received from the “Crisis in Mosul Fund”, directly to those in Mosul who are taking care of the displaced.

If you would like to support this appeal, here is a link to donate by credit card.

Dr Suha Rassam, one of the founders of the charity, recently received a "Catholic Woman of the Year" award and has also spoken this week at the London Oratory on the plight of Iraqi Christians.

Robert George on Obama's pro-abortion extremism

Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, has an article in Public Discourse on Obama's Abortion Extremism.

George argues that Obama is "the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress" and analyses his pro-abortion record in some detail.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Interview with Cardinal Pell

Just at the moment, I am wondering whether anyone can talk about anything without referring to the "Global Economic Meltdown". John Allen's interview with Cardinal Pell begins with this topic but thankfully moves on once His Eminence suggests that it would be wise for the Synod not to say too much about it.

After that, it gets very interesting. Cardinal Pell talks about the possibility of a new institute for biblical translation, the relationship between exegetes and the Magisterium, the importance of preaching on the whole corpus of Catholic doctrine, and the current controversy on Pope Pius XII.

I am now an aardvark

The other day, I wrote about Bishop O'Donoghue's letter to the Catholic Caring Services of Lancaster (More from Lancaster). The day after the Bishop's Letter, the Catholic Caring Services offered a curious response.
The new legislation has posed difficulty for the Church as it would appear to some to challenge the Church’s views on marriage.
The "some" here include the Holy Father, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Bishop O'Donoghue. The Sexual Orientation Regulations do not "appear to challenge" Catholic teaching on marriage, they flatly contradict it.

The press statement asserts that the charity has taken legal advice, undergone extensive consultation and "discernment". Despite this, it does not seem to be able to offer any answer at all to the suggestions offered by Bishop O'Donoghue based upon his consultation with lawyers, moral theologians, and those involved in adoption.

Jim Cullen, Chief Executive of the Charity, said:
“So our work continues. We will remain a Catholic Charity, operating the same services, with the same staff, same values and same ethos."
This is a peculiar use of the word "Catholic". There seems to be a fashion according to which people think that they can define themselves as Catholic without any reference to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

So I will try this out. Although I am a human being by nature, I consider that in this universe of the Cartesian self, I can define myself to be whatever I choose. Therefore from now, I am an aardvark. Does this work?

Monday, 13 October 2008

Stanbrook Abbey still available

In February, I reproted that Stanbrook Abbey was up for sale. A possible sale has recently fallen through and there is a danger that the Abbey will be vandalised and generally fall into disrepair after the sisters move out next March.

To buy this, you are going to need in the region of £6 million. If you have this kind of money spare, may I encourage you to spend it in this good cause. I'm sure there would be a queue of good traditional communities wanting to move in if you were to "build up treasure in heaven" by such a generous benefaction.

More from Lancaster

Lancaster Diocese has just launched a new website. The old one wasn't bad, actually, but this one ties things in rather better with lots of the key information on the front page. (Incidentally, the new one is which replaces the old "")

One of the most important items which I have not yet got round to mentioning is Bishop O'Donoghue's letter to the Catholic Caring Services of Lancaster. Here is a link to the text of the letter.

The Trustees of the Lancaster Caring Services have voted to go along with the Sexual Orientation Regulations and accept gay and lesbian couples as suitable adoptive parents. Bishop O'Donoghue has responded by explaining the Church's teaching "as bishop and pastor", by insisting that the charity cannot unilaterally change its nature, and advising the trustees to seek an exemption from the SORs under Regulation 18.

He makes it clear that if they insist on considering adoptions from same-sex couples, he will inform the Charities Commission that the CCS Lancaster is no longer considered to be a Catholic charity, and will be required to change its name.

Most significantly, Bishop O'Donoghue says:
Catholic Caring Services will be required to discontinue any association with Catholic churches, parishes, schools or other Catholic organisations or societies, and Catholic Caring Services will no longer be entitled to the benefit of any Diocesan collections.
Furthermore, the leases on the three properties currently occupied by the CCS will be reviewed, and the diocese will:
Review the receipt and usage of past and future legacies and/or bequests made in favour of Catholic Caring Services and determine whether it is appropriate for any past legacies and/or bequests to be repaid to the diocese or future legacies/bequests to be retained by the Diocese.

Rosary Crusade Sermon

Fr Marcus Holden, co-author of Evangelium, was the preacher at the Rosary Crusade of Reparation last Saturday. John Smeaton SPUC Director has posted a couple of quotations from his sermon:
"In the future times, I believe people in this land will hang their heads in shame at what we their ancestors have done in these times."
Fr Holden described the government's Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill as:
"one of the darkest pieces of social legislation ever to come out of this land"
The intention of this year's Rosary Crusade was the defeat of the HFE Bill.

I was sorry to miss the Rosary Crusade but I have to be careful about being away from the parish on Saturday. If I am actually to be here for Masses and Confessions, it means that by the time I get to London I have to come home again. I can sometimes get a supply priest to stand in but I don't feel it is right to do this too regularly.

Credit Crunch - the lighter side

On my trips around the motorway yesterday and today, I have listened to the news rather more than usual given that Gordon Brown has now gambled wisely invested so much of our money on bailing out the big banks. My friend at the Treasury emailed me a joke that is going round there and this reminded that the British are quite good at cracking black jokes in these circumstances. Here is a selection from those recycled in various places around the web.

I went to the ATM this morning and it said "insufficient funds".
I'm wondering is it them or me.

With the current market turmoil, what's the easiest way to make a small fortune?
Start off with a large one.

What's the difference between an investment banker and a London pigeon?
The pigeon can still make a deposit on a new Porsche.

What's the capital of Iceland?
About £3.50

Masked man walks into a bank with a gun:
"I don't want any money - I just want you to start lending to each other..."

Talk in the City is that if you want a job, it's Dubai, Mumbai, Shanghai or goodbye.

And here is today's cartoon from the Daddy of them all, Matt of the Daily Telegraph:

Sunday, 12 October 2008

"Oil of Gladness" forbidden

While on the subject of Archbishop Ranjith, I would like to pass on this nugget, (also via Fr Z) from the Summorum Pontificum Johannesburg blog on the question of the use of the "Oil of Gladness" as a "sacramental" in healing services.

The Archbishop has written to Cardinal Napier to say that there are only three blessed oils prescribed in the Roman Ritual and that the use of any other oil is "proscribed and subject to ecclesiastical penalties." Since the letter refers to canon law which is in force universally, the prohibition should not be considered as applying only to South Africa.

Here is the jpg of the letter (click to enlarge):

CDW rumours

Several people have asked me recently what I think about the rumours of Archbishop Ranjith being lined up to be Archbishop of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Fr Z has a helpful post on the whole business, with a translation of a recent article by Andrea Tornielli (“La riforma di Benedetto XVI”, i cambiamenti al Culto Divino)

Cardinal Arinze is now 75 and therefore likely to retire from his office as President of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Archbishop Ranjith, the Secretary of the CDW (second in command) is well-known for his support for Pope Benedict's liturgical project and for his outspoken statements and interviews on various liturgical matters, including criticism of the practice of communion in the hand.

As I mentioned some time ago, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the "Little Ratzinger" is one of the names rumoured as a possible successor to Cardinal Arinze.

For the Bugninista tendency in the Curia, it would be a great problem to have two solid supporters of Pope Benedict's liturgical project in the top two positions at the CDW and therefore some would be pushing for "balance" which, as Fr Z points out, is code for undermining Pope Benedict's "extreme" project.

None of this necessarily has any bearing on what will actually happen. Rumour is used in these situations to push for particular outcomes since there cannot be any direct "campaigning". I would certainly hope that Archbishop Ranjith remains in the Curia or, if he is posted to Sri Lanka, that he is recalled after the briefest decent interval. Personally, I would be happy to see him in charge of any of the Congregations. (Imagine if he were the Cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops!)

But don't ask me to make predictions. The Roman Curia fits Churchill's description of the action of Russia: "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

Faith Magazine special offer for the USA

Fr Hugh MacKenzie, the editor of Faith Magazine, is trying to increase the number of subscribers that we have in the USA and is promoting a Special Offer at $49.99 for one year (six issues) for subscribers in the USA.

At the website, you can read about the Faith Movement and various pamphlets and articles, including articles from current and back issues of the magazine. The current issue (September/October) has proved very popular.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

CTS pamphlet on Louis and Zélie Martin

While on my travels, I took a couple of the new CTS pamphlets with me. One I would heartily recommend is the one on Louis and Zélie Martin by Fr Paulinus Redmond. in 75 pages he does an great job of capturing the spirit of their life and of their exceptional family.

Zélie wanted to be a religious sister but was rejected. her prayer then was:
Lord, since, unlike my sister, I am not worthy to be Your bride, I will enter the married state in order to fulfil Your holy will. I beg of You to give me many children and let them all be consecrated to You.
When they were first married, Louis and Zélie lived a life of continence in imitation of the Holy Family. However, a wise priest advised them that the Holy Family was an exceptional case and that normally, married people should have children. Within a year, Zélie was pregnant with their first child, Marie Louise.

In one of her letters, Zélie wrote
When we had our children our ideas changed somewhat. From then on we lived only for them. They made all our happiness, and we would not have found it without them. Nothing any longer costs us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many more in order to bring them up for heaven.
They had nine children all together, seven girls and two boys. The two boys and two of the girls died in infancy or childhood. The family home was occupied by Prussian soldiers during the Franco-Prussian war, and after the war, the economic consequences meant that they had to move to a smaller house in Lisieux. Sometimes the family is presented as living simply a comfortable bourgeois life but they had their share of hardships with which to cope.

Zélie died in 1877 at the age of 45. Louis was devastated but heroically continued to care for his family. In his declining years, he suffered from both mental and physical illness, bearing both with fortitude.

Louis and Zélie Martin are to be beatified at Alençon this coming Sunday. Fr Redmond's pamphlet would be an excellent source of inspiration and edification for this great occasion.

(Price £1.95 from the CTS.)

Not being bored

Sometimes people ask me if I am busy. My stock answer is to say that I don't get bored. To youngsters asking what it is like to be a priest, I say that I have good days and bad days but that I have not yet had a boring day in nearly 25 years of priesthood.

Yesterday was a particularly full day. In the morning, I celebrated the Requiem Mass for Sarah Keenan who had died at the grand age of 92. One of her American relatives had the good idea of recording some of her thoughts on tape and so after receiving her body into the Church on Thursday afternoon, I sat in my study and listened to her talking about Lourdes, Fatima, the Holy Land, the Rosary Procession in London and how she continually prayed for all her family and for all the Holy Souls.

The burial was at St Patrick's Cemetery, Leytonstone. Unusually for England, this is a Catholic cemetery. Some of my own relatives from the East End are buried there. It was a beautiful day and we spent some time going around, blessing graves and praying.

I then had to drive to Purley to talk at the John Fisher School Faith Group about the Martyrs in the life of the Church. I dug up some gruesome stories of the Roman Martyrs from St Alphonsus, the English Martyrs from Sebastian Bowden, and the life of St John de Brebeuf to illustrate some of the torments that they endured. I tried to make the point that what we have to put up with by way of ridicule is pretty trivial compared to their sufferings and that if we are called to martyrdom, we must be ready through prayer and the sacraments to call on God's grace which alone can help us in such a time.

From there I drove over to New Addington where Fr Stephen Boyle, (the brother of the South Ashford Priest) was in the middle of a Forty Hours devotion with a pro-life theme. I heard some confessions, then said Mass and preached on chastity as the only real guarantee of the sanctity of human life. Then we had some time before the Blessed Sacrament, during which I led the Rosary, said the pro-life Litany and some other prayers.

Meanwhile, the Mulier Fortis has been busy posting photos. Here is one from the High Mass last Tuesday for the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary:

And here is a video from our recent Mass for the feast of St Francis of Assisi. It is quite fun because it is a bit like those little books that you used to get with successive pictures that looked as if they were moving if you flicked the pages. (Just to be clear: this is a slideshow with photos - the music was added afterwards from another source.)

Looking through my phone (isn't it funny that you can do that!) I found this photo from the Coal Hole after Mass at Maiden Lane. I thought that the gloom and the traditional jugs of ale suggested a rather conspiratorial gathering.

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