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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Reading Blessed Columba Marmion

Abbot Columba Marmion was the third Abbot of Maredsous Abbey in Belgium. He originally wanted to be a missionary in Australia but as a young man was won over by the liturgy of the recently founded Abbey of Maredsous where he was solemnly professed in 1891. When he became Abbot in 1909, he had care of over 100 monks. His spiritual conferences were thought worthy of a wider audience and thanks to his secretary, Dom Raymond Thibaut, they were prepared for publication.

These were originally translated by a nun of Tyburn Convent but recently, Gracewing have published new translations by Alan Bancroft. The recently published "Christ in His Mysteries" has a Foreword by Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR and an Introduction by Fr Aidan Nichols OP. Concerning the project of translation, Alan Bancroft remarks:
[...] it is extraordinary, is it not, that the words of this Dubliner, who became the abbot of a Benedictine community in Belgium and spoke and wrote in French, have to be translated back into his native language (or one of them, alongside his Irish). But there it is.
One convenience of this edition is that the scriptural quotations are all given in English, usually in the Douai-Rheims version. Marmion often quoted in Latin, knowing that the monks who were listening to him would be familiar with the texts from their daily celebration of the Liturgy. Sadly, many modern readers will not have this familiarity and frequent untranslated texts in Latin would be an obstacle to the flow of the text.

Christ in His Mysteries is available from Gracewing priced £17.99

Currently, I am reading the first collection of conferences, "Christ the Life of the Soul" in the older edition which was given to me by a friend when I was about 18. I didn't get on very well with it then but now find it absorbing and tremendously rich. I am using the book for my daily meditation in the morning, taking one chapter section each day, so I am reading the book very slowly. It is a great consolation at the start of each day to ponder the insights of this holy man.

Blessed Columba Marmion's writing has been described as true "biblical theology" but I would suggest that this description does not quite convey the depth of the work. Certainly, Marmion is steeped in scripture, especially through the texts he sang daily in the Sacred Liturgy. He skilfully peppers his conferences with quotations from St Paul that open up many facets of the Apostle's wisdom. In this sense, his "biblical theology" is a refreshing change from the sterile technical approach that characterises much biblical study of recent times.

In addition, however, he obviously had a close familiarity with the Summa Theologica of St Thomas Aquinas which he often quotes in footnotes. (One significant improvement in the new editions is that the footnotes are laid out more clearly.) Bl Columba was undoubtedly a competent theologian and manages to explain theological theses in a way that is directly applicable to the spiritual life. He was speaking to monks but his conferences have a universal appeal, transcending the modern debilitating fashion for selecting "schools" of "spirituality".

If you are looking for some good, wholesome spiritual reading, I recommend going over to Gracewing and getting "Christ the Life of the Soul" and "Christ in His Mysteries."

At the Vatican website there is a short biography of Blessed Columba and the homily given by Pope John Paul II at his beatification on 3 September 2000, at which the Pope also beatified Blessed Pius IX and Blessed John XXIII.

The picture above shows Blessed Columba properly attired in his habit with pectoral cross. The one here shows him in lay clothes. He was in fact passing himself off as a cattle dealer in order to get some of his young novices to Ireland during the first world war in case they were called up for military service. He travelled without any papers and when he got to England, the authorities refused him entry. He told them:
"I am Irish, and the Irish never have a passport... except for hell, and... it isn't there I am wanting to go."
Apparently this caused them to burst out laughing and let him pass. I can't imagine the UK Border Agency letting that happen today.

A damascene conversion

From
they are sad, pitiful losers, the furthest of outcasts from our society.
[...]
they can undergo counselling that reduces their chances of reoffending substantially.
To
I'm not really inclined to spend my time engaging with paedophile-defenders like - as you put it - "His Holiness."
[...]
I hope one day you have an awareness of the despicable and evil crime you are defending
How times change!

See posts at Dolphinarium:
Paedophiles are Human Too
and
Johann Hari's rude and bigoted reply to a reader who corrected his factual inaccuracies

Let me be clear: the Pope is not a paedophile-defender, far from it. That slur was in response to a reader who dared to correct Jonathan Hari's outrageous misrepresentation of Crimen Sollicitationis and Pope Benedict. For a sympathetic approach to offenders (particularly if they are pop stars) cf. Johann Hari's earlier article Paedophiles are People Too.

MercatorNet offshoot defending Pope Benedict

The blog MercatorNet has recently started an offshoot called Just B16. The first paragraph of the About page gives the flavour:
Just B16 is MercatorNet’s contribution to clearing the air about the sex abuse scandal enveloping Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church. Last year, in our “Our public intellectual A-list” we described Benedict as “the world's leading voice for human dignity founded upon the divine creation of man” – which he undoubtedly is. We feel that ill-informed, unjust and vicious attacks on Benedict’s credibility will ultimately undermine the credibility of human dignity itself.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

An insult to fish

Damian Thompson today has an important article: The Pope, the judge, the paedophile priest and The New York Times. This includes the full article by Fr Brundage, the priest who was presiding judge at the tribunal which proceeded against Fr Murphy. The original is at Catholic Anchor, the website of the Diocese of Anchorage: Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy. When I clicked it a few minutes ago, there was a server error. Another try and it was OK but I guess that the server is being hit quite heavily just now so you can take the text from Damian Thompson or check the original. (The kind of procedure the NYT seems to have neglected.)

Fr Brundage sets out to do the following:
  • To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;
  • To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;
  • To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;
  • To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.
This is a vitally important article which clears some of the fog of war that is wafting around at the moment. Many thanks to Damian Thompson and Simon Caldwell for bringing it to our attention.

I put in a graphic in showing fish being wrapped in newspaper. However, along with Fr Z, who comments also on a disgraceful article in the National Catholic Reporter, I think this jibe is now becoming an insult to the poor inoffensive fish.

Three additions to the blogroll

1. Love the Tradition - Loathe the Traddies
(can we call it "Tradwatch" for short?) is written by "The Raven" who is a Catholic priest. The strapline is:
A blog where we are fairly sure that good taste is not always nearest to godliness and that the cut of your maniple has little bearing on your orthodoxy.
A good post "Throwing Blame" looks at Gerald Warner's recent article It's the Pope's turn to retaliate in Catholic civil war.

I agree with The Raven that the problem of child abuse does not relate only to the last 40 years but goes longer and deeper into our history. The best book I have read on this is After Asceticism which I reviewed for Faith Magazine a couple of years ago.

2. Laodicea
"a filthy puddle of popery" is a Scottish Catholic blog. Yesterday's post was an important one: Peter Tatchell and Child Abuse, giving the link to Peter Tatchell's call for lowering the age of consent to 14. Berenike comments:
Presumably he was out at Westminster Cathedral yesterday protesting that The Church wasn’t defending the right of adult men to have sexual relationships with teenage boys.
3. Dolphinarium
"Cynic: a person who smells flowers and looks for the coffin" is written by Red Maria. She has been working hard on various issues recently, including Crimen Sollicitationis, and digging up the murky history of the Paedophile Information Exchange and various people associated with it. The most effective campaigns against The PIE was led by Mary Whitehouse and Family and Youth Concern (formerly called "The Responsible Society"); their action led to the Protection of Children Act 1978. The PIE only finally closed down in 1984.

Religious community for girls with trisomy



Thanks to Berenike for this lovely story posted on her blog Laodicea: Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb. This is a small contemplative Benedictine community called Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb. There are seven sisters, five of whom have Downs syndrome. They have recently moved to a new location "near a large Benedictine Monastery". (That would be Fontgombault.)

90% of children with Downs Syndrome are killed before seeing the light of day. Small as it is, this community's charming and gentle example deserves to echo around the globe as a testament that people are not worthless just because they have trisomy.

Our problems - a short summary



H/T to St Johns Valdosta for posting clips from "The Vortex", an online daily Catholic TV show posted on their YouTube channel. Michael Voris is hard-hitting and maybe sometimes gets a punch in below the belt but you may perhaps agree with me that as a pacy news presentation, this is a whole lot more fun than what we are used to.

Let teachers get on with teaching

In the Times yesterday, Madeleine Teahan wrote on the pressures faced by school teachers who are called upon to fulfil an increasing set of roles "sex advisor; behaviour manager; dietician; counsellor and fitness instructor, to name a few." The article offers a different perspective on the proposals for compulsory sex education in schools.

See: Is sex education the responsibility of parents or teachers?

Monday, 29 March 2010

Atheist warns against Catholic-bashing

Many thanks to a correspondent who sent me the link to an article in which Brendan O'Neill, atheist editor of Spiked, steps aside from the mainstream commentary to say:
The reaction to the paedophile priest scandal is as guilty of scaremongering, illiberalism and elitism as the Catholic Church has ever been.
I don't agree with everything in the article but he makes some good points about the effects of the "new atheism". See: Why humanists shouldn’t join in this Catholic-bashing

Palm Sunday at St Aloysius, Melbourne


Fr Glen Tattersall sends me news of the Palm Sunday Mass yesterday at St Aloysius Church in Melbourne which I mentioned last month. Most Rev Basil Meeking, Bishop Emeritus of Christchurch, New Zealand, blessed the palms, led the procession and celebrated Pontifical Mass - all in the usus antiquior, of course. The above is just one photo from the collection at the website.

Franciscans of the Immaculate ordination photos


Many thanks to Rinascimento Sacra for posting photos of the ordinations of priests of the Franciscans of the Immaculate by Cardinal Franc Rodé at the Church of All Saints in Florence last Thursday. You can see in the above photo that Mgr Wach and another priest from the Institute of Christ the King were also there.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Letter in today's Sunday Telegraph

Today's Sunday Telegraph published a letter opposing current moves to enforce compulsory sex education. Here is the text:
Mandatory lessons on sex in primary schools

SIR – Parents and guardians have the primary responsibility for bringing up their children in accordance with their own values and culture. They may entrust the task of formal education to a school of their choice, but the overall responsibility for the upbringing of their children remains theirs.

The Children, Schools and Families Bill undermines this principle and seeks to impose a particular ideology by means of statutory sex and relationships education from the age of 5 (which primary schools do not currently have to teach). We would therefore urge Parliament decisively to oppose it.

A state which seeks to centralise responsibilities which are properly fulfilled by families is acting in an unjust manner and undermines the basis of a free society.
The lead signatory and organiser of the letter was Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust. Three Catholic Bishops signed the letter: Bishop Noble, Bishop O'Donoghue, and Bishop Mark Davies. The letter was signed by many non Catholics, including Shahid Akmal, Chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain Education Committee. Among the Catholic signatories, a few names particularly caught my eye:

Canon Jeremy Garratt, Rector of Wonersh
Neville Kyrke-Smith - National Director Aid to the Church in Need
Tim Matthews - Editor National Association of Catholic Families
Fr Aidan Nichols OP of Blackfriars, Cambridge
Fr John Saward of Oxford
Dr Petroc Willey Dean of Graduate Research Maryvale Institute (Deputy Director of Institute)

I am happy to be included among the important signatories of this letter and delighted to see the names of so many good friends, both priests and lay people in the list of signatories. The letter was well worded, and simply expressed the basic concern of many people of good will. Congratulations to Norman Wells for this initiative. A correspondent has suggested that it might be a good idea to send an Easter Card to one or two of the signatories of the letter just to indicate your solidarity.

There was also an article in the paper referring to the letter: Hundreds of heads and church leaders oppose sex lessons for seven-year-olds

Goebbels redivivus

Damian Thompson today has a quotation from Richard Dawkins about the Holy Father, whom he describes as a "leering old villain in a frock". Have a read of this section:
No, Pope Ratzinger should not resign. He should remain in charge of the whole rotten edifice – the whole profiteering, woman-fearing, guilt-gorging, truth-hating, child-raping institution – while it tumbles, amid a stench of incense and a rain of tourist-kitsch sacred hearts and preposterously crowned virgins, about his ears.
Does that not sound a whole lot like a previous propagandist against another world religion?

Just for the record, here are a couple of the comments that have been published at the Richard Dawkins website:

Appeal for an anti-Catholic Kristallnacht:
Until the mid 60's it was traditional for a monk to appear three times before a new pope at his coronation, to burn a taper and utter the words "sic transit gloria mundi" (thus passes the glory of the world) as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honours. It is about time Herr Ratzinger had such a reminder, but in his case it should be the whole of his church that burns.
Pressing for a "solution" to the problem:
May the drum beat of criticism go forth in perpetuity! Or at least until the beast is dead.

A plea for reason

There is a good piece by Andrew Brown on the Telegraph blogs today which makes a plea for journalists to apply reasonable standards to the current Pope story: Why can't the media treat the Pope fairly?. As he says:
Intelligent journalists who are normally capable of mental subtlety and of coping with complexities have abandoned their critical faculties. There is an atmosphere of unreason.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Early Tenebrae without the sad bits

Thanks to @Londiniensis on Twitter for the link to this post from Archdruid Eileen of the Beaker Folk of Husborne Crawley describing Authentic Earth Hour Worship. I give you a taster:
We agreed that, given Taizé chant is fairly simple and the band wasn't needed, we'd risk it and go for a complete hour's worship in the dark. A kind of early Tenebrae, but without the sad bits.

So with fifty Beaker Folk sat quietly on their bean bags, enjoying the authentic Celtic flavour of a song from France sang in Latin, it was all going remarkable well. Even the Tibetan Prayer Bells were being bashed in time.

And then we found out about the Liturgical Dance.

Again, I'm not finding fault with the authenticity here. I'm sure that in 6th century Staffa, Mull or Islay, Celtic French Latin worship with Tibetan Prayer Bells was always accompanied by four of the less slender worshippers equipped with ribbons and a beach ball and performing a liturgical polka. You can see how that would have appealed to St Columbanus or St Rab or whoever. But in the dark, in a tightly-packed Moot House, it caused utter chaos.

Interview with Cardinal Levada on Salt and Light


I haven't watched this all through but thought I would pass on to you an interview given by Cardinal Levada to Fr Thomas Rosica of the Canadian Salt and Light TV.

Susanna Maiolo was more honest

Susanna Maiolo was more honest. An article in the Irish Independent today makes a characteristically snide attack on Pope Benedict:
Sources said that Pope Benedict was considering diverting attacks on his handling of paedophile cases in Germany and France by taking strong action in Ireland.

The sources added that the Pope was considering the option of seeking Cardinal Brady's resignation to prove to his critics that he was now fully determined to tackle the worldwide abuse crisis.
In other words, damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. If the Holy Father does ask Cardinal Brady to resign, it will now be construed as diverting attacks on himself. There is also a sly insinuation in the "now" of the second sentence quoted. Pope Benedict has long been known as tough on the "filth" of clergy sexual abuse and, as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith, introduced procedures to ensure that offenders were dismissed from the clerical state.

Authors of the article were John Cooney and Jill Sherman - oh, and Ruth Gledhill again.

Thanks to the Transalpine Redemptorists for reminding us of the prayer for the Pope:
Oremus pro beatissimo Papa nostro Benedicto. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.

Let us pray for our Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI. The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies. Amen.
Just a few other links of interest regarding recent attacks on the Holy Father:

Archbishop Vincent Nichols in the Times.

Fr Hunwicke on Pervert Priests

Sean Murphy's Response to Christopher Hitchens at the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Damian Thompson: The Pope and the Wisconsin sex abuse scandal: I smell a stitch-up

Catholic News Agency: Vatican defends action in case of Wisconsin priest abuser

Raymond de Souza in the National Post: Culture change in the Church

Friday, 26 March 2010

Dominican Rite tutorial


The Eastern US Province of Dominicans have just launched a new Dominican Rite Tutorial Website for the Dominican Rite Mass of 1962 complete with HD video, video commentary, and detailed rubrics in English.

In the tutorial section, there are some Dominican Friar icons. When you click these, a popup appears with texts from St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert the Great, and St Vincent Ferrer on the ceremonies of the Dominican Mass. The Dominican Rite was codified in 1256 and was therefore old enough to continue being used after the Tridentine Missal was codified. It is quite something to ponder that when you attend the classical Dominican Rite, you are participating in Mass just as it was celebrated by St Thomas Aquinas.

I am not familiar with the Dominican rite and this tutorial will be a great help for me in understanding this important variant within the family of Western rites of Mass.

Acta redacta


Thanks to Fr Z for the news that the Acta Sanctae Sedis and the Acta Apostolicae Sedis have now been put online at the Vatican website.

The Acta Sanctae Sedis ran from 1865 to 1908, carrying the documents of the Holy See. In 1904, its contents were designated as "authentic and official". It was replaced in 1908 by the Acta Apostolicae Sedis which was given a more specific authority in that teh legal documents published are considered to be promulgated when published, and effective three months from the date of publication, unless a shorter or longer time is specified in the law itself.

These Acta are essential for those wishing to give authentic references to official documents of the Holy See and have hitherto only been available to those with access to a Catholic library that carries them. Providing them online is an important and significant service. The picture above is page 481 from the 1968 volume: the first page of the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

News from Croydon


Although I was born in North Cheam (which I used to put down as Cheam Septentrionalis on forms at the Gregorian University) we moved to Croydon when I was about a year old and grew up with visits to the Fairfield Halls, visits to the new Whitgift Centre, a Saturday job at Grants and Saturday evening outings to the Greyhound underneath the Nestles building (before the rebranding of the company to "ness-lay".) My sister Mary still lives there with her family and wrote to me in connection with my post "off the Boulevard St-Michel":
I happen to be very fond of the song Where do you go to my lovely? When I was in Mrs Hill's class at St Mary's, she made us all choose French names, so I insisted on being called Marie-Claire, having heard the immortal line, 'So look into my face, Marie-Claire...' many times. She was impressed at my knowing such an authentic French name. I don't think I told her where I discovered it! The Sarstedt brothers, though born in Delhi, all attended Heath Clark School in Croydon, and Peter, having lived in Europe, apparently now lives in Croydon again with his wife.
Sadly I couldn't find a video of Captain Sensible's Croydon so you'll have to make do with part of the lyrics:
I worked at the Fairfield Halls
cleaning toilets, but I understood some day
I'd be back in my own right
giving concerts in my own peculiar way
but I kept my rabbit back at home
and I cleaned it every other day
(other day, other day, other day)
but you really have to hear it.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Confessions and priestly fraternity in New Addington


New Addington is a housing estate on the outskirts of Croydon which has had a mixed reputation over the years. Fr Stephen Boyle has, for a number of years, been an untiring pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd, bringing a straightforward, faithful, and cheerful message of faith to the people under his care. Every so often, he arranges for the children of the Catholic school next door to the Church, to come in for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions. He invites various priests to come and then takes us all out for lunch afterwards, combining pastoral care for the children with a ministry to priests.

Today Fr Charles Briggs and I drove down to help out and to enjoy a convivial priestly gathering. Fr Stephen's brother, Fr John Boyle, of Veritas in Caritate was also there along with other priests from the local area.

Baptism water rosary photo


This photo is doing the rounds at the moment. Here is the accompanying text:
This was taken at the baptism of Valentino Mora, son of Erica, a single mom of 21 who asked the photographer to take a picture of her son for free. The photo of the baptism of Valentino Mora is sweeping the Internet, because at the time the priest pours the Holy water over his head, the water flows in the shape of a rosary. This story began at the Parish of the Assumption of Our Lady in Cordova, Spain, where the baptism of a one month baby took place. At the time that Valentino came to the baptismal font for the sacrament of baptism, Erica asked the photographer Maria Silvana Salles, who was hired by other parents baptizing their babies, to take a photo of her son as a favor, since the young mother had no way of paying for it. The photographer, moved by Erica's request, agreed to take a photo of Valentino. Maria Silvana works with a traditional camera and had to send the film to be developed to a shop in Cordova. When she received the photos, she noticed with surprise that the water poured from the head of Valentino was a perfect rosary. The photo of the baptism of Valentino has awakened faith in the people of Cordova who come to the humble home of Erica and Valentino Mora to touch him. The truth is that this sign of faith has mobilized this town in Cordova, whose neighbors go to Maria Silvana's store to buy the picture as if it were a prayer card.
Hmmm. It's not a matter of faith. it could be a coincidence. It could be a sign. I'm saying nothing.

Except that I don't agree with those who criticised the story because it was about a "single mom". Single moms who have a baby in Western Europe have very often resisted pressure to have an abortion so we should thank God for that.

SSPX advice on the sales


A notice that I saw in the porch of St Nicolas du Chardonnet (my translation):
The season of the sales is a good time to make sensible and economical purchases.

Ladies who, for praiseworthy motives of thrift, have kept skirts from their childhood, might profit from the sales to obtain, at a good price, clothes corresponding to their adult measurements.

In other words, the dress of majorettes is not welcome at Saint-Nicolas; which is not to say that they should dress as men ...

Flickr Photostream

Looking at the number of photos I took in Paris, I realised that it would save a lot of time if I spent some little time setting up a Flickr account at long last. Here it is: Fr Tim Finigan's Photostream. I have uploaded some photos in various sets related to the different Churches I visited. They are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licence. In other words, you can use them on your blog but you should give credit for them.

I was especially pleased with some of the ones of Notre Dame, thanks to the Lord's gift of sunshine earlier today.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Balanced article on Pope Benedict

John Hooper has written a lengthy article for today's Guardian about Pope Benedict. Entitled Is the pope a reactionary or a prophet, it gives a fair-minded and balanced assessment of Pope Benedict. It is by no means a hagiography and I wouldn't agree with everything he says, but it is a relief to read something from a commenter in the secular press who knows what he is talking about. John Hooper has done us a service with this objective appraisal which is a welcome contrast to the Catholic baiting of the Times.

(I picked up the link for the article from Morning Catholic must-reads which is a regular round-up written by Luke Coppen, Editor of the Catholic Herald. His blog Editor's Briefing is well worth following.)

Basilique du Sacré Coeur


The Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Montmartre is one of the finest landmarks in Paris. Montmartre is so named because it is the place of martyrdom (c.250) of St Denis, Bishop of Paris and patron of France. After suffering defeat in the Franco-Prussian was of 1870-71, French society was divided and the Communard uprising in Paris led to atrocities on both sides. The Archbishop of Paris, Georges Darboy, was among those executed. Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury proposed the building of a Church consecrated to the Heart of Christ in reparation and for the spiritual welfare of France. Their idea was taken up by the Church in France which proposed a National Vow. The building of the Basilica was financed by donations from Catholics in parishes throughout France.

It is quite a walk up to the top but there is also a funicular railway:


Since 1885, there has been perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, day and night, without interruption. The Basilica is therefore reserved as a place of prayer - the taking of photographs inside the Church is forbidden and therefore I copied this picture, taken by Matthew Clemente, from Wikipedia Commons:


From the area in front of the Basilica there is a good view across Paris:


To the left of the next picture, you can see the Cathedral of Notre Dame:


Behind the Basilica there are crowded squares and streets with restaurants, tourist shops, and artists selling their goods and offering to do portraits. It was warm enough to eat lunch outside.

"off the Boulevard St-Michel"



I last went to Paris when I was on holiday with my family as a teenager. Having seized the opportunity for a rare day off, I was going to go to Bruges but the Eurostar timetable prevented that so I chose Paris instead, a little reluctantly. Having spent a day and a half here, I could kick myself for not having put it on the A-list for brief R&R locations.

My room is in fact "off the Boulevard St-Michel" and I am inescapably reminded of one of the more ludicrous number one hits of the 1960's: Peter Sarstedt's "Where do you go to my lovely?" as in the video above. My father found great amusement in the line "You sip your Napoleon Brandy / And you never get your lips wet / Ah no you don't". I posted a number of tweets alluding to this song yesterday but I fear that I am showing my age and that most of my followers (who were born some time after 1969) will have concluded that the seemingly inconsequential snippets were merely evidence of inebriation rather than witty allusions to a 60s classic.

My to-do list for the trip was modest: Notre Dame and the Rue du Bac with St Nicolas du Chardonnet and Sacré Coeur if I had time. All those done, along with St Sulpice, St Severin and a good cheap lunch at Montmartre which I was able to eat outside in warm sunshine. I returned to St Nicholas yesterday evening to attend the Mass (about which more later.) The Paris Metro and the RER (local railway) provide efficient and cheap public transport which has helped greatly. Unfortunately there is a strike today so I may have to stick to things within walking distance. That is no great hardship since La Sainte Chapelle is only five minutes away.

St Nicolas du Chardonnet


It is Passiontide and the New Liturgical Movement has been posting pictures of Churches that have veiled their statues from the 5th Sunday of Lent or Passion Sunday, (depending on whether you are following the usus antiquior or recentior.) I was surprised that this was considered a rare practice but visiting Churches in Paris, I did not see any statues veiled. Except the one in the above photo which I visited the other day. It was a strange experience compared to visiting most Churches in France (or elsewhere in Europe.) The Church was being cleaned but there were people there praying. The notice board had plenty of the expected initiatives for catechesis, social work and devotional events.

Unusually, there was no forward-facing altar, so the original plan of the Church could be seen without distraction, leading the eye to the High Altar and the tabernacle.


There were plenty of side altars. Normally these are used as storage spaces or display rooms. In this Church all the altars had altar cloths and candles. Astonishingly, the confessionals were set up to be used, with a notice indicating the priest who would be there and when. There was also a duty priest available for fixed hours throughout the day.


The Church is St Nicolas du Chardonnet which was occupied by the Society of St Pius X in 1977. They simply processed in and took the place over. (Discuss.)

Yesterday evening I attended to the normal scheduled weekday Low Mass. (I didn't take photos in case there was some rule in force, but if anyone from the Society would like me to do so, I'll be happy to oblige on a future occasion.) In most respects, it was exactly as you would expect. The Mass was the same as I celebrate on Saturday morning with a few very minor variations. It seemed in a low-key way to be a "Dialogue Mass" in that some of the congregation joined in with the responses. The most significant adaptation to this was that the priest said "omnipotentem" rather loudly at the end of the Orate Fratres as a cue for people to make the response "Suscipiat". But in fact only some of the congregation did with any volume. People were left free to participate in the way that was suitable for them.

For those interested in such details, the Epistle was read in French by the priest, the Gospel was read in Latin and then repeated in French, there was the "second Confiteor" at the Holy Communion of the faithful and the Leonine Prayers were in Latin. However, these are details: my servers would have had no difficulty stepping in. The Mass was celebrated reverently with full, conscious and active participation of the faithful, whether they were saying things out loud or not. And yes, sorry to raise the point, but the average age was a long way short of 65.

My impression was of a healthy, active parish offering catechesis, spiritual and social outreach, three Masses on a weekday, generous provision for Confession, and a well cared-for Church which was unmistakeably a place of prayer. It reinforced my sincere hope that the discussions currently taking place with the Holy See can lead to a resolution of those issues which deprive us of full co-operation with this most effective apostolate.

Monday, 22 March 2010

DCSF on teaching "divergent views"

A correspondent has sent the following reply received from the Public Communications Unit of the DCSF in response to an email about Catholic schools and sex education.
Dear ---

Thank you for your email of 24 February, addressed to Ed Balls about sex education within faith schools. As you can appreciate, Mr Balls receives a large volume of correspondence and cannot answer them all personally. On this occasion I have been asked to reply.

This amendment confirms that schools can teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, including sex and relationships education (SRE) in a way that reflects the schools religious character and ethos. However, there remains a legal obligation on the head and on the governing body of all schools, including faith schools, to comply with the principles in the legislation. These include requirements that material presented is factually accurate and balanced, for example, that information provided by schools should reflect the latest medical evidence available on topics such as pregnancy choices.

All schools will be required to teach the full PSHE education statutory programmes of study. However, these are written at a high-level and do not prescribe how material should be presented, or what resources schools should used to deliver their SRE programme. This will allow schools to take account of the ethos of the school, the views of parents and pupils and the issues that affect their local communities, while ensuring all young people receive a consistent core of accurate information. Schools with a religious character will, as now, be able to teach their faith’s view on issues that arise within the teaching of PSHE education, but they will not be able to do is suggest that their views are the only valid ones, and they must make clear that there are a wide range of divergent views.

We recognise that a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to SRE is not appropriate. But at the same time, we do believe that every school should provide factual information on a core set of topics, to remove the current inconsistency in what young people receive. We believe that our proposals strike an appropriate balance.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Yours sincerely

Leona Smith
Public Communications Unit
www.dcsf.gov.uk
This reply further reinforces the point made by many commenters that the Government's policy is not to say that Catholic schools may present Catholic teaching but that they are to present the Government's teaching. They may do so in some way or another that vaguely "reflects the school's religious character and ethos". What is absolutely forbidden is to suggest that that "their views" (Catholic doctrines?) are the only "valid" ones. This is simply a bureaucratic way of saying that they may not present Catholic teaching as true.

As for "latest medical evidence" and "factual information", the Government (and OSTED, which will enforce the Government's policy) is unlikely to accept facts and medical evidence which challenge the "view" that promoting contraception fuels the problem it is trying to solve (a soaring rate of teenage pregnancy) or undermines the "view" that abortion is a largely consequence-free "pregnancy choice".

Space Station blog


Vijay Chakravarthy has a blog devoted to the NASA International Space Station - with Catholic pictures and blogroll in the sidebar! The above is from a 3D computer model of the Orion Nebula.

St Patrick's Breastplate: original text


A correspondent has kindly passed on from her a link to the original Old Irish version of St Patrick's Breastplate from George Petrie's papers On the History and Antiquities of Tara Hill. The papers were given in 1837 and included in Volume XVIII of the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy published in 1839.

The above image is a screen grab from one of the pages (click to enlarge).

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Send an email to Pope Benedict



Reading Auntie Joanna's blog, I am reminded that Pope Benedict does have a public email address: benedictxvi@vatican.va

Now might be a good time to send a supportive and encouraging email. Obviously he is not going to read them all himself but it is possible that an official might let him know that there has been a number of loyal and kind messages incoming.

And do remember to pray for him. One way of reminding yourself to do this is to try to gain plenary indulgences as often as possible, fulfilling the condition of praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Vatican Twitter feeds

After the false alarm in January, it seems that the Vatican is indeed now putting out Twitter feeds in various languages. See: the article New Vatican Internet Services at the Vatican Radio website.

The English language feed for you to follow is: @news_va_en. Next challenge is to get in a bit quicker and snap up something better like @Vatican (not an official feed.) Or they could speak nicely to the owner, Pablo Arratia, offer him some financial compensation, and persuade him it is the right thing to do. Heck he might even waive the compensation. Has anyone looked into this?

Anyway - it is good to see official Vatican feeds on Twitter.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Noble letter from Pope. Predictable response from media.



I wrote this in my parish newsletter this weekend (I have put in hyperlinks for your convenience):
Pope’s letter to Irish Catholics
There will be much comment in the media this weekend concerning the Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father Pope Benedict to the Catholics of Ireland. The Holy Father apologises to victims of abuse who have suffered the “grave betrayal” of these “egregious crimes”. Pope Benedict also refers to “grave errors of judgement and failure of leadership” on the part of some Bishops.

May I encourage you to read the letter itself: the text is available at the Vatican website. If you have difficulty finding it, there is a direct link in the “Rosary News” blog which can be found at the parish website. There is also a shorter official summary of the letter.

Please remember in your prayers all those who have been victims of abuse. The Holy Father encourages the Irish Catholics to offer up their Friday penances for the coming year to Easter 2011 to beg for God’s mercy, healing and for the renewal of the Church.

It would be fitting for us in England to join in solidarity with this spiritual proposal and to respond to his request to give particular attention to regular Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacrament of Penance.
This evening I have spent a little time on the unpleasant task of looking at some of the BBC coverage. The other day, they had a piece saying something like "Pope's letter - but will it include apology?" Now that it is impossible for anyone to deny that it has, they have dropped that piece and continued along the lines of "Apology not enough" and attack the letter for not being about Germany. They are essentially using the plight of abused children and scandalised Catholics to further their secularist, anti-Catholic agenda while distracting everyone from benefiting from the wise pastoral advice of the Pope. I got sick of it after browsing a few clips. (I suppose I shouldn't single out the BBC. The Times reported that the letter had been judged a failure even before they had a chance to read it. Cf. Damian Thompson)

In one particularly contemptuous piece, a BBC correspondent says of the Pope's letter, "essentially his remedy is more prayer". So just a few snippets by way of reply to that:

Pope Benedict urges:
  • "acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children"
  • "concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future"
  • "establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes"
Pope Benedict criticises:
  • "the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel"
  • "well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations"
  • "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal"
  • "failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person"
Pope Benedict tells priest abusers:
"You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders ..."
Pope Benedict tells Irish Bishops:
"It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. [...] it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness [...] continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence"
More prayer would be good as well and he does indeed mention this. Penance too. Read the whole thing. It is a noble and powerful response.

Chants of the Ordinary - CD


Nick Gale, the Director of Music for St George's Cathedral, Southwark, has published the first in a set of three CDs which are offered to assist musical directors, cantors, choirs and congregations learn a chant repertoire for use in the liturgy. The singers are from the choir of St George's Cathedral in Southwark and the recordings were made in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral.

The first CD "Cantus Angeli Chants of the Ordinary" has the Asperges and the Vidi Aquam, Masses I, VIII, IX, XI, XV, XVII and XVIII, the Ambrosian Gloria, Cred I, III and VI and various Alleluias. Thus, it provides for a good repertoire for a parish choir which wishes to offer appropriate Mass settings for the different seasons of the year.

The CD has received high praise from no less than Jeffrey Tucker of NLM. He said:
These recordings are outstanding. I highly recommend them. The diction is perfect. The speed is zippy and natural. The clarity is unsurpassed, consistent with the great English choral tradition but applied to Gregorian music. I can't imagine that better tutorial CDs have ever come available.
Having listened to the CD, I can echo his appreciation of the quality of the chant: it is superb.

You can find out more about this initiative at the Gregorian Chant website which also has information about the chant workshops which Nick Gale runs.

The CD "Cantus Angeli Chants of the Ordinary" costs £10 + P&P £2 in the UK: P&P £3 outside the UK and can be ordered online.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Hymn in praise of St Joseph



The video runs through the hymn twice, first with the Latin text and then with the metrical English translation. Here are both for you to follow, courtesy of Preces Latinae.

Te Ioseph, celebrent agmina caelitum,
te cuncti resonent Christiadum chori,
qui, clarus meritis, iunctus es inclitae,
casto foedere Virgini.
Joseph! to thee by hosts on high
and choirs of Christians, laud be paid!
saintly of life, by purest tie
joined unto her, the glorious Maid.
Almo cum tumidam germine coniugem
admirans dubio tangeris anxius,
afflatu superi Flaminis, Angelus
conceptum puerum docet.
When thou didst doubt thy wife's repute,
and mark her great with motherhood,
the angel taught thee that her fruit
came from the Holy Ghost of God.
Tu natum Dominum stringis, ad exteras
Aegypti profugum tu sequeris plagas;
amissum Solymis quaeris et invenis,
miscens gaudia fletibus.
To clasp the Son, the Lord, was thine,
to share His flight to Egypt's shore,
with tears, to seek in Salem's shrine
Him lost, -with joy, to find once more.
Electos reliquos mors pia consecrat1
palmamque emeritos gloria suscipit;
tu vivens, Superis par, frueris Deo,
mira sorte beatior.
Death brings to other Saints their rest;
through toil they win the victor's place;
thou happier, like the Angels blest,
alive, hast seen God face to face.
Nobis, summa Trias, parce precantibus;
da Ioseph meritis sidera scandere,
ut tandem liceat nos tibi perpetim
gratum promere canticum.
Amen.
Spare us, O Trinity most High!
grant that, with Joseph, we may gain
Thy starry realm, and ceaselessly
there raise to Thee our thankful strain.
Amen.

Joseph is the second Christian name that my parents chose for my baptism and therefore I have a special devotion to the "upright and just man". I asked people this morning at Mass to pray especially for men and for fathers of families that St Joseph would intercede and assist us to acquire and develop the manly virtues which he lived.

On a mundane note, this was also a test to see whether the old table html tags which veteran webmasters know and love will work in Blogger. Looking at the result, it seems OK but I haven't done a comprehensive browser test so do put in a comment if things go haywire.

Sistine Chapel virtual tour

Thanks to John Thavis of CNS for new of an addition to the Vatican website: a Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel. this is a joint project of the Vatican and Villanova University.

There is a copyright notice photoshopped into the pavement. However, I am reliably informed by the last surviving Knight Commander of the Noble Equestrian Order of Pope Zephyrinus that Michaelangelo in fact painted in a small notice under Adam's big toenail saying that he released the lot under a Creative Commons licence :-)

Apologies for the frivolity. It really is a splendid project.

2,000,000


Here is the site meter record for the two millionth visitor to the Hermeneutic of Continuity who called in at 2.14pm today from London Ontario, referred from Coren's Comment. I started the blog on 6 April 2006. We reached one million on 15 January 2009.

Many thanks to all of you for reading. Sincere apologies to anybody I have offended. Thanks to the Pope for encouraging us all. Praise the Lord for giving us a spiritual soul and making us the kind of being that can invent something like this.

Several people have asked about having a "Two Million Party." I think that it is proper to defer this as we are about to begin Passiontide. We have a Missa Cantata at Blackfen on the Saturday within the Easter Octave at 10.30am with Vespers and Benediction at 2.30pm. In between there will be "Brunch" in the Church Hall and the bar will be open. Blog readers are all very welcome. Here is the post with information on "Getting to Blackfen".

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Catholic Values

Catholic Values is a price comparison website, offering comparisons on mortgages, insurance, bank accounts, credit cards etc. It works like other similar sites but the difference is that the commission, net of running costs, goes to charities that promote the dignity of human life. Sounds like a good idea to me.

St Patrick's Breastplate

Thanks to Shawn Tribe of NLM for posting a translation of the Lorica or breastplate of St Patrick. Like most people, I had only really known this through a couple of metrical translations of parts of it. The full version is what might be called genuine Celtic spirituality:

I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today, through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism, through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial, through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension, through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today, through the strength of the love of the Cherubim, in obedience of angels, in the service of archangels, in the hope of the resurrection to meet with reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in prediction of prophets, in preaching of apostles, in faith of confessors, in innocence of holy virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of heaven; light of sun, radiance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak to me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me, from the snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from every one who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a multitude.

I summon today, all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry, against spells of women and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today, against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding, so there come to me abundance of reward. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in the eye of every one that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness, of the Creator of Creation.
Now: how about somebody finding the Latin text for us?

New Bishop of Gibraltar


Fr Ralph Heskett CSSR has been appointed as Bishop of Gibraltar to succeed Bishop Caruana who has retired on reaching the age of 75. Fr Heskett was born in 1953, professed as a Redemptorist in 1971 and ordained priest in 1976. He has worked in a variety of offices in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, particular in work for vocations. His appointment is of particular interest to people in the Archdiocese of Southwark since he was from 1998-2008 parish priest of the Redemptorist parish of Our Immaculate Lady of Victories (known as "St Mary's") in Clapham. (pictured) The official announcement is at today's Vatican Bollettino.

Please remember bishop-elect Heskett in your prayers.

UPDATE: That pesky Father John Boyle managed to find a picture of Fr Heskett for Caritas in Veritate. I couldn't find anything on google images. Ecce:

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Remembering Miss Strawson

For St Patrick's day today, as is our custom, we honoured the saint after Mass with his hymn. Each year when we sing Hail Glorious St Patrick, I remember Miss Strawson, the rather strict but, with hindsight, dazzlingly competent infant teacher who prepared us for Holy Communion at St Mary's in Croydon back in 1965.

From that time, I can repeat from memory the catechism answer that "God is the supreme spirit who alone exists of himself and is infinite in all perfections." We had to underline the word "supreme" several times to reinforce the truth that God is greater than the angels. We learnt all about them, and about Lucifer who said that he would not serve God. There was plenty of scripture too: Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, and many stories from the gospels. We were taught to sing hymns and to understand them; "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" was the occasion for my learning that "azure" was a kind of light blue that we see in the sky.

I do also remember quite a lot of English, Maths, cross-stich sewing, football, rounders and a siesta after lunch. But the Religious lesson was always given the first and most important place. If I remember correctly, Miss Strawson was not particularly impressed by the Beatles and positively repelled by the Rolling Stones. The most feared disciplinary sanction was to be made to stand in the corner. I incurred this punishment on one occasion but I forget the offence which merited it.

Miss Strawson came to my priestly ordination and engaged in some perfectly legitimate boasting that she had taught me the rudiments of the faith. Do say a prayer for her. Since she probably went straight to heaven (she certainly knew about indulgences) there will be some poor soul who will thank her for your surplus intercession.

Catholic Care wins case


Mr Justice Briggs has ruled in favour of Catholic Care in its case in the High Court. (See: Catholic adoption society wins court battle over gay rights exemption) I reported on this case a couple of weeks ago.

The website of the Diocese of Leeds carries the statement of Bishop Arthur Roche. Damian Thompson has written on the case: Gay adoption: a setback for Labour in its vicious war against the Churches. George Pitcher has also taken up the story: Thank God for Catholic adoption agencies

Warmest congratulations to Catholic Care and the Diocese of Leeds. This is a significant victory and calls into question the action of other Catholic adoption agencies which have either closed or transferred their adoption provision to a newly-formed non-Catholic charity.

Medjugorje commission announced

From the Vatican Bollettino today confirms the widespread rumour of a new commission on Medjugorje:
COMUNICATO DELLA SALA STAMPA DELLA SANTA SEDE: COMMISSIONE INTERNAZIONALE DI INCHIESTA SU MEDJUGORJE
È stata costituita presso la Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, sotto la presidenza del Cardinale Camillo Ruini, una Commissione internazionale di inchiesta su Medjugorje. Detta Commissione, composta da Cardinali, Vescovi, periti ed esperti, lavorerà in maniera riservata, sottoponendo l’esito del proprio studio alle istanze del Dicastero.
My translation:
Communiqué of the Press Office of the Holy See: International Commission of Enquiry on Medjugorje

An international Commission of Enquiry on Medjugorje has been set up at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under the presidency of Cardinal Camillo Ruini. The Commission, composed of Cardinals, Bishops, experts and those with experience, will work in a a confidential manner, placing the outcome of their study at the disposal of the Dicastery.
(Any other suggestions for the difference between periti and esperti? And is that a reasonable rendering of "alle istanze"? The VIS may have an official translation later.)

I think that this is good news. It is high time that the faithful were given some unambiguous guidance about Medjugorje.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Belgium: euthanasia instead of palliative care

Instances of legal euthanasia in Belgium have risen from 235 in 2003 to 705 in 2008. Of these, most are young, and 94% are suffering from pain as a result of cancer. Only a minority (18%) of the 1,917 people killed are over 80, and euthanasia is more widespread (83% of cases) in the Flemish part of Belgium than in the French part (17% of cases).

Dr. Bernard Devalois, a French specialist in palliative care, said:
This study shows that the majority of requests for euthanasia in Belgium are linked to unbearable physical pain and therefore to medical malpractice in the treatment of pain: cases of genuinely untreatable suffering - which we treat in France with sedation - are very rare.
Dr Devalois continued:
Upon reading this study, it seems that Belgium chooses to focus on general training in the use of products that cause the rapid death of the patient (barbiturates and muscle relaxants). The patient therefore has the choice between suffering or asking for euthanasia. I much prefer that he is offered a third choice: to be relieved of his pain! This is the path taken by France through the plan "Douleur et Soins Palliatifs" (Pain and Palliative Care)
Thanks to @AnnaArco on twitter for the link to this story from Belgium: De plus en plus d'euthanasies en Belgique.

Novena suggestion

Michael Morris writes:
Short notice I know, but if we start a Novena tomorrow, St Patrick's Day, it would include St Joseph on Friday and finish on the Annunciation. The intention being of course the exemption of Catholic AND other Faith Schools: Jewish and definitely Moslem from the worst provisions of the Children Schools and Families Bill. I suggest at least the Memorare, or however many decades of the Rosary individuals can manage. I'll try to have it mentioned at Mass tomorrow. How about it?
Memorare
Remember, O most compassionate Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your assistance or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, we fly unto you, O virgin of Virgins, our Mother. To you we come, before you we kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not our petitions but in your clemency, hear and answer us. Amen.

Announcement of the Holy Father's State Visit

Photo Credit: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk

As more or less every Catholic blog in the world has now posted, today the official announcement was made of the Holy Father's forthcoming visit to Britain. There is a fine new website for the occasion: Pope Benedict in the United Kingdom.


I have just registered at the website but I am not sure whether it would be considered cheeky or not to ask for press accreditation as a blogger :-)

The website carries the Press release issued jointly by HMG and the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Scotland, England and Wales. Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, is the Government Minister who will lead the preparations for the visit.

Her Majesty the Queen has confirmed the state visit and here is the statement from Buckingham Palace. I just had to take a screen grab of this historic page from the official website of the British Monarchy:


Here is the video announcement from Archbishop Nichols:



It was also confirmed today that the Holy Father will beatify Cardinal Newman during his visit. See the announcement at the Newman Cause blog.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Rose vestment time


Yesterday was, of course, Laetare Sunday and therefore the occasion for the wearing of Rose vestments. Since we have a full set at Blackfen, I try to make sure that we have High Mass on this day. Dr Alcuin Reid assisted as Deacon, and Rev John Harrison from St Mary's Chislehurst was Subdeacon. I think we managed to avoid any serious liturgical abuses.

Many thanks as ever to Damian Thompson and Fr John Zuhlsdorf who kindly enabled Blackfen to unite in Christian joy with these vestments by encouraging their readers to fund them - and many thanks to all our benefactors.

Photo credit Mulier Fortis (more photos there).

Hilarious scandal story from "Bones"

I posted recently about the spoof billboard created by Laurence England of That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill with the sensationalist news "Crackpot Priest Keeps God in Church Cupboard". This has now been followed up with a loopily entertaining parody detailing the action of Brighton and Hove Social Services in response to this act neglect. It gets better all the way through with Ed Balls and the CES drafted in for comment.

Petition closing

Amanda Lewin's Petition against Government-Led Sex Education in Catholic Schools reads:
To: Bishops of England and Wales
We, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature - and provision - of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.

Sincerely,
The petition closes on the Feast of St Joseph, 19 March. It has 1823 signatures at the time of this posting, so if you would like to sign it, pop over there now.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Disgraceful attack on the Holy Father in the Times


Damian Thompson has drawn attention to the headline in the Times erroneously and unjustifiably attacking the Holy Father. See: Catholic fury over The Times's coverage of Pope Benedict XVI. While writing this, I also received Damian's Tweet with a link to the Facebook Group Catholics Who Condemn the Times' Treatment of the Pope which you may like to join if you are on FB.

The Times article has a sidebar quote from Ruth Gledhill which includes the words:
The Pope is pretty unassailable. He is not elected ...
The Times should not be allowed to forget that it highlighted that as an "Expert view" from its "Religion Correspondent".

The mainstream media are clearly gearing up for an all-out attack on the Holy Father when he visits Britain in September. This is a good time to pray earnestly for the Pope: one way of remembering to do this is to gain as many plenary indulgences as you can, since one of the conditions is to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. Pray especially to Our Blessed Lady to strengthen and protect him. You can also use the traditional Prayer for the Pope which is given in English and Latin by Fr Z.

CSF doubletalk opportunity for election candidates

A priest friend of mine has come up with the following questions to be put to candidates in advance of the General Election
  1. It is currently legal to abort certain handicapped babies up to birth, and to abort healthy babies up to 24 weeks of gestation. Would you vote for any restrictions upon this? If so, could you briefly suggest what type of restrictions.
  2. Ed Balls intends that Catholic schools be required to inform their children “how to access abortion” by virtue of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, if enacted. Do you agree with him?
  3. Would you vote against the legalization of euthanasia?
  4. Do you accept that faith schools have the right to teach as the truth matters of human sexuality and relationships according to the principles of their religion?
  5. There is a target to increase overseas aid to 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product by 2013. Do you think this is broadly correct, or should be more or less?
One Labour candidate who, on abortion, took the Bill Clinton "safe legal and rare" line, has answered Question 2 by saying:
I'm pleased that discussions about the new Children, Schools and Families Bill saw agreement between the Government and the Catholic Education Service. The Catholic Education Service has said clearly that schools will not be required to promote abortion. All schools will have to teach about relationships in an accurate and balanced way, and will have to do so in a way appropriate to the age, religious and cultural background of pupils. All schools will have to reflect a range of religious and other perspectives, emphasising both rights and responsibilities.
There are a number of obvious problems with this answer. Teaching about relationships in an "accurate and balanced way" could mean that homosexual partnerships have to be presented as "normal and harmless" or as a legitimate lifestyle option. Saying that schools have to "reflect a range of religious and other perspectives" could place them in sharp conflict with the teaching of the Catholic Church expressed in Dominus Iesus:
It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.
The practical interpretation of those ambiguous phrases will seen in the guidance issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and the criteria set by the school inspectors. That is where schools will discover what they are, and are not, allowed to teach if they are to survive their OFSTED Inspection.

The crucial point, however, is that the election candidate can claim the support of the Catholic Education Service. He is in a happy position because if he is sent a set of questions by a secularist, he can quote the response of the CSF to the accord Coalition which I reported on last month (Catholic schools: have we reached the endgame?)

Intriguingly, that response now seems to have been removed from the website of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. I suppose the Department's frankness at that time was rather embarrassing all round.
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