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Showing posts from July, 2011

Not so psychic

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Why I am Catholic had a fun post of Friday Funnies. This one was my favourite:

Bishop defends man-boy sex (Oops no! Not a Bishop)

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Revelations of an Irish Bishop's remarks on man-boy sex, made in 2002, have shocked the world. He justified such activity by referring to ancient Greece:
"In terms of Classic paedophilia, as practiced by the Greeks for example, where it is an older man introducing a younger man or boy to adult life, I think there can be something to be said for it. And in terms of North African experience this is endemic."His Lordship also helped exonerate predatory molesters by saying that he felt that it would have been a nice thing for himself if he had been groomed by an older man:
"Now again, this is not something that appeals to me, although when I was younger it would most certainly have appealed to me in the sense that I would have greatly relished the prospect of an older, attractive, mature man taking me under his wing, lovingly introducing me to sexual realities, and treating me with affection and teaching me about life — yes, I think that would be lovely; I would have enjo…

Family and Youth Concern latest bulletin

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The Family and Youth Concern bulletin for Summer 2011 is now online. This always has a valuable collection of articles relevant to the upholding of family life and family values. Often the material has not been picked up on the Catholic blogs' radar, probably because there is no rss feed to hook up to. Perhaps someone at FYC might redo the website and set up a news feed with the articles to make this excellent material more widely known? I am sure there are Catholic bloggers who would be glad to help with this.

Do join Family and Youth Concern; they have done great work for decades and their contribution to debates in political policy, social work and healthcare are of great importance.

Bring plastic bags

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In a timely post for families in the summer holidays, Simcha Fisher gives Ten Tips for Actually Having Fun at the Fair. Just understand that this may be part of the "two nations divided by a common language." In England, going to the Fair would be where you got locally produced honey, had a go on the coconut shy, and took children to the lucky dip before having tea and home made cakes. The Fair in this post sounds like what we would call a Theme Park (probably itself a borrowing from American.) I must confess that experience of taking groups of teenagers to these places makes me hate them intensely. The poor kids get ripped off soundly and get to go on about three rides unless they pay even more to jump the queue (cf. above photo from 2003.) I must join the Old Gits Society or something :-)

Still, I do understand that families have to suffer these places from time to time and I enjoyed reading Simcha's tips. I laughed at the advice:Bring plastic bags. Trust me on this.…

The confessional seal: a matter of divine, not merely human, law

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In times gone by, if you wanted to ensure that a confidential letter was not tampered with before it reached its recipient, you would put some molten sealing wax on it and then mark it with your crest, creating a seal such that tampering would be evident.

When a penitent confesses sins to a priest or bishop, the confession is directed towards God Himself. The confessor has no right to tamper with the seal which binds this communication but only, as a minister of Christ to give counsel, and, if appropriate to give absolution so that the person can return to Holy Communion with a good conscience.

There is a good treatment of this subject in Volume II of Felix Cappello’s Tractatus Canonico-Moralis De Sacramentis in which he deals with the Sacrament of Penance. He points out that the preservation of the seal of confession is a grave obligation upon the confessor, both from the virtue of justice and from the virtue of religion.

The motive of justice is present because in hearing confession…

How should we respond to threats from the State to make the seal of confession a criminal offence?

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In response to threats from the State to make preserving the seal of confession a criminal offence, I think that we should answer carefully. Most importantly we should avoid conceding in any way the erroneous proposition that the seal is somehow a “privilege” of the priest. Here, unfortunately I beg to differ from some of the things that Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary has said. (See: Paolo Rodari. There is a report in English report at Irish Central.)

First of all, from the point of view of diplomacy, with the deepest respect to the His Grace, I think that it is a mistake to refer to the proposal from Irish Prime Minister Enda Kelly and others as “absurd and out of the question” (“E’ assurda. E’ una proposta irricevibile” ) In Ireland, there is fury about the appalling failure of the Church to protect children and we should acknowledge that people will propose solutions that are as extreme as the violation of the seal of confession. What we need…

Chinese Government tries passive aggressive response to excommunications

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In a Reuters report from Beijing yesterday, we read that the State Bureau for Religious Affairs is "greatly concerned" about the excommunication of Joseph Huang Bingzhang and Lei Shiyin who were recently ordained Bishops without the mandate of the Holy See. The State news agency Xinhua quoted a spokesman for the bureau as saying that the"threats of excommunication" are "extremely unreasonable and rude, which has severely hurt the feelings of Chinese Catholics and made its members feel sad."Maybe the Chinese Government does not realise that this kind of passive aggressive attempt at emotional manipulation is now discredited thanks to the internet which they censor in their own country.

I vote that in response, the Holy See should employ Alitalia to arrange an airdrop of crates of tissues over Beijing.

Anti-traditionalist violence

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Il Sito di Firenze has the story of Father Hernán García Pardo, ministering in Tuscany who was sent threatening letters for celebrating the usus antiquior and was recently beaten up and hospitalised. (H/T Fr Z and Rorate Caeli for the English translation of the story.)

Our first priority is to pray for Father Hernán García Pardo: such an attack must be traumatic and we ask the Lord to give him strength. We also pray for his attacker who is probably mentally ill, and possibly under the influence of the adversary (he signed himself "Satan".)

Secondly, I think it is important to highlight this story because the hysterical anti-clericalism in some parts of the world is sure to lead some unbalanced people to attack priests, pro-lifers, or anyone else doing good in the name of the Lord. Anti-Christian demagogues may need to be reminded of the possible consequences of their rhetoric.

Thoughts on Ireland

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Commenting on the troubles of another community is always perilous and I tiptoe into this subject with some trepidation, begging my Irish readers for indulgence if I misunderstand their situation in any way. Still, the recalling of the Apostolic Nuncio makes this a matter of international significance and I hope that the thoughts of Timothy Joseph Patrick Finigan whose family settled in east London after the famine will not be entirely useless.

Back in 1992, when I was an assistant priest at Our Lady and St Philip Neri in Sydenham, I used to take Holy Communion each week to an elderly, devout and kindly Irish lady who always insisted that I stay for a cup of tea and a piece of cake. One week when I visited, she had the newspaper on the table with the recently broken story of Bishop Casey. I thought that I should gently broach the subject with her to offer some consolation. I will never forget the confusion, sadness, and sheer incomprehension on her face. She loved Christ, she loved h…

NUI Maynooth involved with pro-abortion "masterclass"

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The Irish Crisis Pregnancy Agency, part of the Health Service Executive, is holding Masterclasses for 'Supporting an Unplanned Pregnancy'. The first of the presentations has the title: "Termination of pregnancy: A lawful choice." Abortion is not a lawful choice in Ireland, so this can only be seen as part of a campaign to change the law.

The Masterclasses are advertised as being held "in conjunction with the Department of Adult and Community Education, National University of Ireland, Maynooth."

Hilary White on LifeSite News and Pat Buckley of the European Life Network have written further on this story. Precious Life Action Alert gives information on action to be taken in Ireland, and there is a petition to be sent to various people.

Somme memorial to Clapton Orient players

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During the first World War, 41 players and staff from Clapton Orient Football Club (later Leyton Orient) enlisted into the 17th Middlesex to serve King and country. They were the first club to join up en masse and gave an example to others. The 17th became known a the Footballers' Battalion.

Three players were killed in the battle of the Somme: Richard McFadden, George Scott and William Jonas. Earlier this month, the Leyton Orient Supporters Club travelled to the Somme to erect a fine six-foot high memorial. The club's website has a report of the visit. David Hurley made the above photo-video with a fine recording of Allegri's Miserere (used with permission.)

Family values in "Cathy Come Home"

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A few days ago, rather tired in the evening, I watched the classic film “Cathy Come Home” by Ken Loach. As with many of his films, it was designed to bring about social change, and to some degree succeeded. It is a message about homelessness, unemployment, and the right of parents to have a family life and to keep their children; the heartbreaking final scene shows Cathy having her children forcibly taken from her. (It is in the "gritty and realistic" genre.)

Of course, the message about homelessness is still relevant (see That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrillpassim.) What caught my attention, though, was the message concerning family life that is an important part of the film’s social comment. At the beginning of the film, Cathy and Reg meet and fall in love with each other. At one point, Reg asks "Have some babies, Cath?" She answers "Yeah, I'd like that." The next scene is their wedding reception. They do then have children.

After Reg gets in…

New priests

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Photo credit: Archdiocese of Southwark
The ordination season is now well underway. Four of the students who suffered my lectures a couple of years ago have been ordained this year: Fr Gerard Hatton was ordained for Arundel and Brighton a few months ago: Fr John Chandler for Portsmouth, Fr David King for Arundel and Brighton, and Fr Jonathon Routh for Southwark were all ordained in recent weeks. The fifth, Rev Daniel Kelly, will be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Brentwood in September.

Ordinations tend to happen on Saturdays: this makes it difficult for me to get to most of them, so I was glad to be able to get down to Our Lady, Help of Christians the other week for Fr Routh's ordination. The Archbishop announced that he had been appointed to the parish of St Joseph's, New Malden, where the parish priest is Fr Peter Edwards, one of the founding members of the British Province of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

An ordination is always an occasion for brother priests …

A proposed Catholic university college for the liberal arts

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The Benedictus Trust has been set up to found a Catholic university college in Britain, offering a traditional Liberal Arts programme of undergraduate study. Such courses can be found in the United States but as yet there is nothing similar in England. The Benedictus Trust is proposing to set up this new Catholic university college on the principles set out by Blessed John Henry Newman in The Idea of a University.

Nowadays in Britain, you can get degrees in all sorts of subjects. There doesn't seem to be any reason why it should not be possible to get one in the liberal arts. I do hope that this project succeeds.

Bringing light to the poor

"What is your good news?" is a good question that Fr Zuhlsdorf asks from time to time on his blog. Via New Advent, this video has some news of a simple invention which was an idea of students at MIT and put into practice in the Philippines.

The film shows this giving real help to people who are living in poverty and it is really good to see it used for that purpose first of all. But the idea is so simple that it could presumably be developed in many other ways. None of us wants to pay for energy if we don't have to.

Fr Ian Vane's Silver Jubilee

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I have known Fr Ian Vane since before we both went off to the seminary, he to Valladolid and me to Wonersh and then later Rome. We benefited from the kindness and wisdom of Fr Edward Holloway and have been involved with the Faith Movement since it was founded. It was a delight to join Father at his parish of the English Martyrs in Horley this evening for the celebration of his silver jubilee of ordination.

A good number of priests joined the celebration, mainly from the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton although some of us Southwark interlopers were also on the sanctuary. Fr Roger Nesbitt preached with great sincerity and warmth on the priesthood, especially emphasising the priest as the disciple of Christ and one who loves Christ and desires to draw others to Him. You had to be there really: it was so obvious that he meant it.

The parishioners of Horley put on a lovely spread for all the visitors, who included people from Father's previous appointments. It was good to see Bishop K…

Congratulations Philadelphia!

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Archbishop Chaput of Denver has been appointed to Philadelphia to succeed Cardinal Rigali. Congratulations to the priests and people of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia! The Denver website carries his biography and curriculum vitae.

Archbishop Chaput showed his media skill by giving John Allen an extended exclusive interview with the only condition that it be embargoed until the appointment was officially announced.

When he was Bishop in the Diocese of Rapid City Archbishop Chaput welcomed the FSSP there, and he had an FSSP parish in Denver. He has been outspoken on the question of pro-abortion politicians not receiving Holy Communion, he opposed the visit of President Obama to Notre Dame and has spoken against the legalisation of gay marriage. His many publicised addresses have been inspiring for Catholics seeking clear teaching.

He is also a kindly, pastoral man who has given true fatherly leadership in the spirit of St Francis (he is a Capuchin.) Here is the last of the questions i…

Politely telling someone that he has lied

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Short clip of a wonderful exchange between Sir Humphrey and the Prime Minister. In case you want to memorise it for a suitable occasion:Yes. Unfortunately, although the answer was indeed clear, simple and straightforward, there is some difficulty in justifiably assigning to it the fourth of the epithets you applied to the statement, inasmuch as the precise correlation between the information you communicated, and the facts insofar they can be determined and demonstrated, is such as to cause epistemological problems of sufficient magnitude as to lay upon the logical and semantic resources of the English language a heavier burden than they can reasonably be expected to bear.I found this clip after playing the one about Modernism in the Church of England which was posted by Mundabor.

Fostering the revival of sacred music

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The Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory have set up the Blessed John Henry Newman Institute for Liturgical Music in association with the Maryvale Institute. The Patrons of the new Institute are Archbishop Longley and James MacMillan.

The idea is to provide formation in liturgical music that can benefit the ordinary Sunday Liturgy celebrated in parishes. The launch date is 17 September: the first anniversary of the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman. During the first term, there study mornings on Saturdays. As well as giving practical instruction on singing the Mass, there will be formation in the theological and historical background to Church Music. On Saturdays at the Oratory there is the Blessed John Henry Newman Pilgrim Mass which will be sung as part of the programme.

The inauguration of the Institute is timely in view of the introduction of the new translation of the Missal which provides a good opportunity for parishes to review the music that is used at English Masses; …

New CTS pamphlets on child abuse and AIDS

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Continuing with the latest pamphlets added to the CTS’s list, two in the CTS Explanations series deal with controversial topics concerning which the Church continues to be attacked both from within and without.

Dr Pravin Thevathasan’s The Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis has attracted attention already. It is notoriously difficult to write anything on this highly-charged subject without being attacked in one way or another, so it is not surprising that he should be misquoted and misrepresented. In fact, the pamphlet is a fair and balanced presentation of various aspects of this gross evil and the Church’s response to it.

As a psychiatrist, Dr Prevathasan competently assesses research on the harm caused, the profile of the offender and what actually happened in the USA, Ireland and Europe. He looks at the causes, and in one chapter singles out, rightly in my view, the “therapeutic culture” which led to a climate of permissiveness in some seminaries, and an inadequate respons…

Ghentish candlesticks in quiet revolt and other nice things to see

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The other day I stopped off at Ghent which is halfway between Bruges and Brussels. I had booked an early evening Eurostar to Ebbsfleet so I had time for lunch and reasonably unhurried visits to three of the Churches in the City. The first was the Cathedral of St Bavo. Here is the stunning High Altar, facing towards the East:


Turn around, face towards the West, and you can see where Holy Mass is said now:


At the Church of St Michael, there is again a very fine High Altar:


But the banqueting chairs, and the table with pot plant and nylon candlesticks are still obviously bringing in the crowds:


Something I have observed before in Belgian Churches is that some of the candlesticks are in rebellion. While the priests are away, they creep stealthily towards the people's altar, hoping to make enough (Gh)ent-like progress until they have formed a Benedictine arrangement.


Perhaps future years will see them gain confidence and vault onto the High Altar. At one of the side altars, I noticed…

New CTS pamphlets: the new translation, and science & religion

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The CTS has a bumper crop of new pamphlets just out. I have read several of them and would recommend them highly. Today, I’ll have a look just three, hoping to write about some of the others tomorrow.

On the new translation of the Mass, Mgr Bruce Harbert has written a Companion to the Order of Mass which focuses on the scriptural allusions in the texts, many of which were obscured by the old translation. His experience as Executive Secretary of ICEL shows in the 96 page booklet which obviously benefits from the in-depth discussions that took place over details of the text. Dom Cuthbert Johnson has also written on booklet on the new translation. Understanding the Roman Missal “is designed to be more prayerful than technical” and will help people to understand the different elements of the Mass as well as the text of the prayers themselves.

Science and Religion. The myth of conflict, by Professor Stephen Barr covers the claims of historical, philosophical and scientific conflict between…

Happy birthday South Sudan

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Congratulations to the people of South Sudan who yesterday celebrated the birth of a new nation. The Holy See sent a special delegation for the occasion to offer their best wishes for peace and prosperity. The Holy See has also indicated that it will give due consideration to any request from the new Government for diplomatic representation.

A few years ago, when staying at the Domus Romana in Rome, I met Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako of Khartoum in the lift after breakfast. Having read some of his powerful and hope-filled addresses, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need, I considered it a great privilege to be able even briefly to offer an expression of esteem for his apostolic witness. He was on Vatican Radio yesterday speaking about the birth of the new nation

Population control - getting rid of girls

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Luke de Pulford, who works for a homelessness charity in the East End of London, asks How much are we paying for girls to be aborted and women to be forcibly sterilised? In 2009-2010 £55 million was spent on international population control programmes such as the abortion of 12 million girls in India, leading to a skewed ratio of males to females in that country (117 boys to every 100 girls.)

Child abuse point-scoring - Tabula delenda

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Recently, the Tablet's website carried an article a guest contributor, Melanie Lately, in which striking the breast during the Confiteor was equated with child abuse. Fr Zuhlsdorf said what needed to be said about this nasty attempt to attack the new, corrected ICEL translation of the Mass.
Liberals intend now to vilify what they don’t like by linking it to clerical sexual abuse of children. It doesn’t matter what it is that they don’t like, if they don’t like it, it must have something to do with child abuse. So, you sometimes have to look beyond the facile – though sometimes admittedly agile – introduction of their new blunt instrument, for their real points.His article also contains a comprehensive fisk of the article itself.

If you follow the link given on Fr Z's blog, you will find that the article has now been removed from the Tablet website. Bless! Such touching naiveté concerning the interweb thingy.

I agree with Fr Z's analysis from the point of view of the Litur…

Successful Rally for Life in Dublin

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Last Saturday, 7000 people marched in Dublin on the annual Rally for Life. congratulations to all who took part in another successful event. Speakers at the Rally called on an Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, to keep the pro-life promise he made during the Election, when he said that Fine Gael in government would be 'opposed to the legalisation of abortion.'

Pat Buckley of the European Life Network has the low-down on the media bias in reporting the event, something that we are now wearily familiar with.

Treasures of Heaven

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The above photo looks as though it was taken in a shrine gift shop. In fact it is from the gift shop at the British Museum - there are medals of St George, Eamon Duffy's "The Stripping of the Altars", and various other books, pictures, medals and artefacts related to the Our Lord, Our Lady and the saints.

The British Museum is currently holding the Treasures of Heaven exhibition which was organised with the Cleveland Art Museum and the Walters Art Museum. It was sponsored by John Studzinski, a Catholic who is a wealthy investment banker. He has supported many good works such as the Passage for the homeless, and established the Genesis Foundation which encourages young composers, especially in sacred music. The British Museum website has a video introducing the exhibition as well as an impressive list of events. Their blog has a post about installing the exhibition.

The exhibition includes many precious reliquaries as well as other related objects (the BBC's History …

New catechetical blog

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When I was young, the "new catechetics" meant the Dutch Catechism, not telling children about angels or grace, and demythologising the infancy narratives and the miracles of Christ. So let me make it clear that Transformed in Christ is not a new catechetical blog in that sense! Instead, it carries theologically well-grounded articles by a young woman who is the director of catechesis in a thriving South London parish.

If you have a look at the latest post: Confirmation Catechesis you will see what I mean.

1st grade Latin and Gregorian chant

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The video shows some of the children at St Theresa's Catholic School in Sugar Land, Texas, in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. They range in age from 5-7. All comments were unrehearsed and unscripted. I liked this one:You should try to learn the chant because it honours God and it worships Him; and I think He deserves to be treated like that. He gives all He can to us, and we should give all we can to Him.but the best one is the last voice-to-camera at 1:22.

(A few years back, we saw the re-ordering of St Theresa's Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas.)

Holiness for priests

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At the Catholic Tradition's directory, there is a Holiness for Priests page, provided to foster the dignity and duties of the priesthood. Many thanks to an Oratorian friend for passing this on.

God bless America!

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Every good wish and blessing to all of you across the pond in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I hope the fireworks and barbecue don't get mixed up and you have a great day. I think we've got over the separation of the thirteen colonies now :-)

For this year's video, let's have Martina McBride:

New young blogger

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Twelve year old Charlie J has started a blog called Chalices and Chasubles. The introduction tells us that there is himself, Mom and Dad, his 4 sisters and a few animals. Charlie serves at the Birmingham Oratory and has some photos from there, including the one above.

I think he is the youngest blogger on the sidebar.

For priests - and those who pray for us

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Fr Mark at Vultus Christi has posted a meditation for priests taken from In Sinu Iesu. If you search on that tag, you can find other meditations. This one, The Secret of Priestly Holiness, focusses on the person of St John and his relationship with Our Lady.

Many thanks to all readers who pray for priests - your kindness is very much appreciated.

ACN petition for persecuted Christians in Pakistan

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I am happy to pass on this request from Aid to the Church in Need to sign their petition in support of Christians in Pakistan. Here is the information:Aid to the Church in Need asks you to add your voice to the British Pakistani Christian Association's call for peace, justice and human rights for all people of Pakistan.

Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien has added his voice and support to our campaign by signing our petition – read more

Please show your solidarity with Pakistan's suffering faithful by adding your name to the petition. And don't forget to ask friends and family to sign up too.

Or you can collect signatures in your parish or workplace using this petition form.

Jennifer's link

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Jennifer's links is a blog I recently added to the sidebar. She does come up with some good ones. I laughed at this graphic she posted yesterday:


All together now: "Problems of life, you 'elp us to face..."

Stantes iam sunt pedes nostri

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Fr Zuhlsdorf has spotted the above photo from the Invocation weekend which is puzzling. I could not help but look up this video on YouTube:

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