Saturday, 31 March 2012

Witness for Life at Bedford Square


One of the frustrations of running a one-man parish is that you cannot get to all the apostolic events that good lay people organise. It was particularly disappointing for me that I could not join the worthy band at Bedford Square last night. Looking at various photos, I recognised at least half a dozen parishioners and many friends who come by this way from time to time. It occurred to me that if every parish in Westminster, Southwark and Brentwood were to follow the lead of the Bishops who have supported these vigils, by sending five people per parish, there would have been thousands of pro-lifers there.

Like John Smeaton, I am glad to give praise to Bishop Alan Hopes who led the prayer vigil last night. He must have been nervous given that his presence was the occasion for various pro-abortion groups to get together in a noisy protest against the peaceful vigil held by 40 Days for Life. His courage and leadership are of great encouragement to pro-lifers. Catholics really do need to follow the example that he and other Bishops have given by supporting these vigils.

Joe Shaw, LMS Chairman, has refuted (with photos) the instantly propagated claim that the pro-life vigil was outnumbered by the pro-aborts. Maria Stops Abortion has a piece on Christians v Barbarians; the Reluctant Sinner was there and has a considered personal report; Bones has several articles; Auntie Joanna writes in understandable sadness of the event.

Reduced to following Twitter after it had all finished, I was intrigued by references (from pro-aborts) to support from Critical Mass. This is a more or less anarchic protest movement without formal structure that encourages cyclists to have mass cycling events to block the roads and thereby protest about motorists or something. They all seem to be pro-abortion enough to turn up at Bedford Square and support the anti-baby mob. Odd that. (By the way, Critical Mass is an "American style" protest.)

I'll be joining the Maidstone vigil on Friday 27 April. Bishop John Hine is celebrating Mass at 12.30 at St Francis, Week Street before the vigil. If you are inclined to come, the Church is just round the corner from Maidstone East Station.

LMS walking pilgrimage to Walsingham

Pope Leo XIII said: "When England returns to Walsingham Our Lady will return to England." The Latin Mass Society is making an effort to fulfil the desire of the Pope. At their website you can find full details of the Walking Pilgrimage to Walsingham which will take place this summer from Friday 24 August to Sunday 26 August.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

St John of the Cross breaking his own rules

JuanCruzretratThe British poet, Roy Campbell, kept the original papers of St John of the Cross safe during the anti-clerical activities in Toledo at the outset of the Spanish Civil war. Earlier in 1936 the Carmelites had already sought refuge with the Campbells. As the republican forces advanced on Toledo, they took a trunk to the Campbells with the priceless papers of their saint.

During a search of his house, Campbell made a promise to St John of the Cross that he would translate the saint's poems into English if he and his wife and family were spared. He fulfilled this promise and produced a highly acclaimed translation which he insisted was aided by Saint John of the Cross himself.

I found this story (via the excellent New Advent feed) at Crisis Magazine - go to the article there to read more: The Man Who Saved the Original Papers of San Juan de la Cruz.

In one respect, I think that this story is amusing. St John of the Cross taught that we should be detached from all material things and never seek extraordinary phenomena. He has much to teach some groups today that are influenced by what Mgr Ronald Knox called Enthusiasm. The idea of promising a saint one favour in return for another does rather seem to conflict with the ascetical and mystical teaching of St John of the Cross.

The fact that the saint appears to have granted the favour might suggest that St John of the Cross, while severe on those vowed in religion, was understanding in the case of a family man caught up in the responsibilities of looking after a family and living in the world.

Still, in today's climate of reform and renewal in the one subject Church, St John of the Cross should be a reminder to us not to seek the extraordinary but to progress in the spiritual life by the normal and ordinary means of faith, hope and charity, prayer, penance and almsgiving. There would probably be an excusing cause if the security services are actually searching your house, but the teaching of St John of the Cross would provide the most perfect way.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Catholics at UCL in pro-life victory for freedom of speech

UCL Portico Building

There is good news on the pro-life front, from University College, London. After the UCL Catholic Society invited Lord Alton to speak about the right to life, the local branch of the National Union of Students tried to impose the rule that any open events focussing on the "issue of termination" must also invite a "pro-choice" speaker. In other words, a student society organising a speaker opposed to the killing of innocent unborn children must invite someone who thinks that it is all right.

The NUS branch has now accepted that their attempt to curtail freedom of speech is in breach of section 43 of the 1986 Education Act and have climbed down. The Catholic Society were supported by Jews and Sikhs as well as some pro-choice students who saw the NUS branch resolution as a blatant attempt at restricting legitimate freedom of speech.

Credit should also go to Neil Addison, director of the Thomas More Legal Centre who advised the Catholic Society.

H/T Simon Caldwell at the Catholic Herald: Students block union’s attempt to stifle free speech on abortion

Museum of the Chip

This week I have managed to sneak 48 hours' R&R in Bruges, one of my preferred destinations for escape. Along with Mgr Ronald Knox, I count Oxford, Rome, and Bruges as my three favourite cities; Bruges is not difficult for me to get to since I have the good fortune of having Ebbsfleet Station just a fifteen minute drive away.

Normally I spend some time taking photographs; I have done that today since the sun is shining and it is always possible to find a new angle or composition. Naturally the Flemish primitives have to be marvelled at, with an eye to purchasing one or two if we win the Euro Lottery and get to build the minor basilica at Blackfen.

Today, though, I set out on a new quest after being seriously pestered by my parishioners. I finally visited the Friet Museum, the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the origin, history and present status of the potato chip, which is an important staple of Belgian cuisine. The Belgians make an absolute claim to have invented the chip.
Together with delicious Belgian chocolate, the Belgian potato fry is certainly the product that is the most characteristic of Belgian culinary expertise. Over the years, fries have become known world wide to the delight of adults and children in practically all countries and we can be proud that they actually originate from Belgium.

Therefore, it is not only normal, but even absolutely necessary that the first potato fry museum should be opened in Belgium.
That quotation is from an informative document on the museum: go to the Press and Media page. (This would be a good model for ecclesiastical bodies wondering how to present information to the media. Success criterion: we have equalled or bettered the publicity of the Bruges Museum of the Chip.) There are also high resolution photographs, a corporate logo and an affiche which I think means advertising poster. That was going to appear above but the blonde lady eating a chip failed to get the nihil obstat from the censor. So you get the logo instead. Below is my very own photo of the collection of chip frying machines through their short but eventful history:

Chip fryers

A key problem is how to translate friet into English. We call them chips, but in other places "chips" are what we call crisps. There was an interesting panel on "French Fries" which referred to English soldiers at Ypres liking the chips they got, but thinking that the people who cooked them were French. The display laconically observed that it would have caused diplomatic problems in Belgium if the name "Walloon Fries" had caught on.

St Teresa of Avila featured quite a bit in the history of the potato on which I am now better informed than I have ever been. When I get home and can upload more photos, I will return to this important subject.

Tomorrow morning it will be back to the Flemish primitives and then back to England in time for Rosary and Benediction.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Fr Julian Large is new Provost for London Oratory

Congratulations to the Fathers of the London Oratory who yesterday held their election for Provost. The new Provost is the cheerful and welcoming Fr Julian Large. Together with Fr Rupert McHardy, he has been responsible for the highly successful "Call to Youth" meetings, one of which I spoke to recently. As a result, many young adults who live and work in London know him well and, I'm sure, will wish him well in his new responsibility.

The London Oratory plays an important part in the life of the Church, so this news is significant for many people outside of the immediate parish, or the more far-reaching catchment area of those who regularly attend Mass and other services there. I pray that the good work of the Oratory will continue to flourish under Fr Julian's wise leadership.

Monday, 26 March 2012

SSPX in my memento tonight

Fr Schmidberger, the District Superior of the SSPX in Germany has written to all the churches and chapels of the German District of the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X as follows:
Dear faithful,

On 16 March in Rome Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation, gave the Superior General of our Fraternity, Bishop Fellay a letter with statements in which we are asked ultimately to react more positively to the doctrinal preamble of September the 14th then we had done so far.

As a final deadline for a response is given the 15th of April 2012. Surely you have heard this already wholly or partially from the media. We have thus arrived at a crucial point.

Even if the letter strikes an unpleasant sound, there are legitimate hopes for a satisfactory solution. If this solution would be reached it would considerably strengthen all the orthodox forces in the church. If not it would weaken and discourage these forces. So it is not primarily about our brotherhood, but for the good of the Church.

Therefore we ask for the eager, insistent and imploring prayer of all our faithful and all Catholics, that God through the redemptive suffering of His only begotten Son, will lead His Church through this crisis and give her in the Holy Resurrection of Jesus life new strength and new prosperity.

Stuttgart, 22 March 2012

Father Franz Schmidberger, District Superior
I do hope that there is a satisfactory solution and I am encouraged by the far-sighted attitude of Fr Schmidberger that a solution would strengthen all the orthodox forces in the Church.

Tonight in my parish we have a Missa Cantata for the feast of the Annunciation. The intentions of the Society, and of a successful resolution, we be included in the memento for the living.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Celebrations at New Brighton

After Mass today one of my altar servers gave me a slice of cake that he had brought back from the celebrations at New Brighton yesterday for the opening of the shrine of St Peter and St Paul and St Philomena. The family travelled up, starting at a frightfully early hour, but they all seemed full of energy this morning. defénde nos in proélio has an account with photos: Dome of Home: Beacon of Hope. I like the above photo because it puts the gathering of clergy firmly into the context of the place of worship, centred on Christ. The human presence is rightly small in proportion to the sanctuary and the altar.

My good friend Fr Simon Henry was also there and has a report at his blog with some more great photos. See: Mass today. Here is one of Bishop Davies and sacred ministers:

Here is a video posted by Fr Henry, with part of Bishop Davies' sermon:

and here is a link to the full text of the sermon.

Congratulations to the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, to the people of New Brighton and the Wirral, and to Bishop Davies and the Diocese of Shrewsbury.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Fundraising with celebs

Club 007

My parish club had a fundraising evening yesterday to hep the family of Aidan Goodwin, a child who is suffering from cancer. I took the opportunity to have a photograph with Cheryl Fergison who is Heather Trott in Eastenders. Among items for auction was a signed street sign for Albert Square:

Club 011

There was also an oak/walnut Millwall football

Club 012

A good night was had by all and about £3000 was raised for the family.

Club 013

Friday, 23 March 2012

"Kaleidoscope" reference a plug for gay rights campaigning group

John Bercow is the Honorary President of the Kaleidoscope Trust “Working globally to promote a sentiment for diversity equal rights for all.” He launched the Trust on 13 September last year at a Reception at the House of Commons. Kaleidoscope has been selected as the Official Charity Partner of World Pride 2012. In his endorsement of the Trust, David Cameron referred to its principal focus:
Our country has made real progress on LGBT equality and, without forgetting how far we've still got to go domestically, it is right that we should now increasingly turn our attention towards bringing about change abroad.
In addition to the endorsement from the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party, the Trust has also published endorsements from Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat party leader; Ed Milliband, Labour leader; Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland; Carwyn Jones, First Minister of Wales; Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party; and Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security.

The Kaleidoscope Trust has made no secret of the plug given to it by the Speaker on the occasion of the Queen’s Address to Parliament on Tuesday.

So the Kaleidescope reference which David Cameron joshingly took up at PMQs the other day, as though it were merely a rhetorical gaffe, would have been known by all of the political leaders as a reference to the organisation that they have endorsed. Leaving aside any evaluation of the philosophy of the Kaleidoscope Trust, it does seem audacious to plug one particular organisation in an address to the Queen on a historic visit to Parliament on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of her accession. A correspondent has suggested to me  that the French have a good expression for an in-joke (which Her Majesty probably didn't understand) made in a formal address to the Sovereign: lèse-majesté.

Just on what is possibly an entirely unrelated matter: while googling around, I found an interesting post on Guido Fawkes about members room bookings. (Guido's interest is in the corruption invoved. He says "Some MPs have been trousering thousands from lobbyists and commercial interests to act as a room booking service.") My eye was caught by this entry:
Bercow hosts Masonic reception for 145. Gray’s Inn Lodge Ladies Night (Jun ’06)
I'm just saying...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Indulgence for Grand Opening of new ICKSP shrine in England

The website of the Diocese of Shrewsbury has an article on the Papal Blessing for the grand opening of the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, New Brighton, Wirral, this Saturday March 24. There is a plenary indulgence attached for all those who attend the ceremony. The indulgence is extended as follows:
“Those faithful unable for a reasonable cause to be present at the sacred rites may devoutly receive this Papal Blessing and the Plenary Indulgence, according to the norms, if they follow the rites with a pious intention of mind by means of radio or television broadcast. Nothing to the contrary withstanding.”
Being in the USA, or perhaps even being in Blackfen might well be a "reasonable cause" though I know that one of my families is determined to leave early on Saturday and drive up to the Wirral. (See: defénde nos in proélio: Bigger than the Beatles. Cooler too.) Sadly I will have to miss even the broadcast since I will be celebrating Mass and hearing confessions - but I will get a partial indulgence for my prayers for the occasion.

The Shrine has been entrusted to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. It will be a place dedicated to the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist and will be a centre for the celebration of the Holy Mass and other sacraments according to the usus antiquior. The photo above shows Canon Olivier Meney of the ICKSP, celebrating Mass in the Weekday Chapel. Canon Meney is already resident at New Brighton and will be the Rector of the Shrine. It is good to see a photo like that on a diocesan website!

May God bless the work of the Institute and the far-sighted generosity of Bishop Mark Davies in entrusting them with this work in his Diocese.

New trailer for Cristeros film

A new trailer for the forthcoming film "For Greater Glory" which chronicles the Cristeros rebellion in Mexico (1926-1929) against the government's aggressive secularisation of the country.

The film is set to be released 6/1 which, in American, means the 1st of June. I'm looking forward to seeing this. I would be pleasantly surprised if it gets much showing in England but now we have the increasing availability of films on Blinkbox, Lovefilm and, as I understand, soon to be launched in the UK, Netflix.

Rorate Caeli comment on the trailer: "You have not seen this many Roman chasubles in a motion picture since the advent of the New Mass..." - and not a trivial point in my view.

See the post Cristeros for some footage of interviews with people who fought as Cristeros.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Lame rhetoric for politically correct message to Her Majesty

Damian Thompson asks Who allowed Bercow to hijack the Queen's address to Parliament? and the Daily Telegraph reports that John Bercow's 'kaleidoscope Queen' diversity speech falls flat at Diamond Jubilee address. There is a video so that you can squirm at the woodenly delivered attempt at rhetoric.

The significant line is:
"This is a land where men and women are equal under the law and where your people are respected regardless of how they live, how they look or how they love."
He might as well have added "Nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?" Perhaps he is trying to hint to Her Majesty that if she wants to be part of the superior metropolitan elite she should offer public support for gay marriage.

There is also the embarrassingly silly
"All of this progress has occurred during your reign, you have become to many of us a kaleidoscope Queen of a kaleidoscope country in a kaleidoscope Commonwealth,"
That reminded me of the 1970s Toblerone advert "... made with triangular almonds from triangular trees with triangular honey from triangular bees." Come to think of it, the Toblerone advert is rather better.

The Telegraph article has a poll asking "What do you think of Mr Bercow's 'kaleidoscope Queen' speech?" with various options. I don't think it constitutes treason, but "Out of order" seems about right to me - and is the highest score at the moment. You might want to go over and cast your own vote.

European Court undermines UK government assurances on gay marriage

European Court of Human Rights Court room

The Daily Telegraph reports on a judgement passed by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Valerie Gas and Nathalie Dubois, a lesbian couple in France who are in a "Pact of Civil Solidarity" and have not been allowed to adopt a child. The court ruled that the parties in a such a pact did not enjoy the same rights as a married couple. The court also ruled that:
"The European Convention on Human Rights does not require member states’ governments to grant same-sex couples access to marriage."
However, the ruling also made clear that if same-sex couples are allowed to marry, then a Church that offers weddings will be guilty of discrimination if it refuses to marry same-sex couples. This rather destroys the value of assurances given by our Government that Churches will not be obliged to conduct gay marriages. There is considerable pressure to allow Churches to conduct such ceremonies. If the gay lobby are successful in pushing this through (doubtless with the co-operation of liberal vicars and probably some Catholic clergy) then it will be a short step to penalising those clergy who refuse to conduct gay marriages.

We need to consider seriously the option of de-registering our Churches for marriage. Those who want to marry and have a civil certificate could then do so either by arranging for a registrar to come to the Church wedding, or by going to the register office at a convenient time after their wedding, to complete the civil formalities - this could be done with the shortest form of declaratory and contracting words, with two witnesses present.

When I suggested this at a recent meeting, it was put to me that we could be guilty of "simulating" a wedding. I would be interested to hear any legal opinion on whether we would fall foul of the law by conducting marriages solely according to the law of the church without involving the civil authorities.

We do need to start considering such questions as a matter of urgency.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Clergy pilgrimage to Catholic Bavaria


Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP is organising a clergy pilgrimage to Catholic Bavaria from 7-11/12 May this year. Sometimes I get particularly frustrated because of the busyness of life in a one-man parish and regret not being able to go to all the good events that are available. I would love to be able to go on this. As a priest, I particularly appreciate the considerate note: "As a matter of course priests may offer daily Mass using the Missal of their choice."

Here is a link to the full details of the Pilgrimage.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Ooberfüse - Heart's Cry

Another number from Ooberfüse - "Heart's Cry" blends the music with recordings from Pope Benedict. Very effective.

Official Shrine of St Augustine

Ramsgate 014

St Augustine's Church in Ramsgate has been formally established as a shrine of "The Apostle of the English" by Archbishop Smith of Southwark. The shrine has been granted the appropriate canonical privileges and is designated as a place of pilgrimage. Here is a link to the full press release from the Catholic Communications network.

Congratulations to Fr Marcus Holden and the parish of Ramsgate who have been working hard to raise funds to restore Pugin's wonderful Church.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

C S Lewis was converted to Christianity through the influence of good friends, including J R R Tolkien. The video gives a good short commentary.

Mgr Charles Pope (whose blog for the Archdiocese of Washington is well worth putting on your blogroll and feed reader) has written on the correspondence of Lewis with Rev. Fr. Don Giovanni Calabria. Having had the kind of education now denied to most young people whose families cannot afford private school fees, Lewis was able to write in Latin, thus overcoming the barrier of multiple modern languages. Lewis reflects on the loss of faith in the West and a possible way back.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

British Pakistani Christian Peace Rally


The British Pakistani Christian Association were active in London today with a Protest outside the Pakistani High Commission, a Petition presented at 10 Downing Street, and a Peace Concert in Trafalgar Square.

I was in town for a meeting of the Faith Movement which finished mid afternoon. With a supply priest covering my evening Mass, I took the opportunity to visit the Peace Concert. I was delighted to meet the members of the band ooberfüse (right): the other day I mentioned their song His Blood Cries Out which is dedicated to Shabaz Bhatti, who died for the faith. (Unfortunately my camera battery died just has I had got someone to take a photo of me with the group.)

Here is one of the other singers at the event, entertaining some of the supporters as well as Joe Public:

Pakistani Christian 006

Other religious minorities are persecuted in Pakistan but the Christians seem to have borne the brunt of the violence. Today was one of those ecumenical events that I really enjoy, standing together with other Christians on an issue where there is real co-operation and unity of purpose. The lineup of speakers included  people of other faiths as well as Christians. John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need, and others from ACN were there. John read a message of support from Bishop Lang, Chairman of the Department of International Affairs for the Bishop's Conference and spoke himself of Shabaz Bhatti, mentioning Pope Benedict's tribute to him.

(Aid to the Church in Need is holding a Vigil on Thursday 17 May at Westminster Cathedral. Sung Mass at 5.30pm celebrated by Archbishop Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan; 6.30pm Rally in the Cathedral Piazza with Iraqi, Pakistani, Sudanese, and Egyptian groups in the UK; 7.30pm Cathedral Vigil in thanksgiving for the sacrifice of persecuted Christians today.)

I met the organiser Wilson Chowdhry, and he asked me if I would speak from the platform. I agreed, since there didn't seem to be any other Catholic clerics there, and it was an opportunity to show the support of the Church for this important cause. It was just a short ferverino encouraging people to use the religious freedom that we have on behalf of those who are denied the freedom to practise their faith. I finished by referring to the ongoing battle in which the Pakistani Government is seeking ways to ban the use of the words "Jesus Christ" in SMS text messages. I said that we should use the name of our Lord while we are free to do so and asked people to join in shouting out "Praised be Jesus Christ" three times.

The situation for Christians in Pakistan is very serious. On the website for the British Pakistani Christian Association, the "popular posts" widget on the sidebar has such entries as Murdered by Axe blows for failing to convert to Islam! Rashid Masih (RIP), and Karachi Trainee nurse raped and thrown out of window. Rape (often of schoolgirls), murder, kidnapping, and forced marriages are commonplace with a rate of at  least two such atrocities each day.

I found this video at the website for today's events. It is harrowing in parts but is a good introduction to the issue if you want to find out what is happening in Pakistan.

Two lessons I drew from today's event:
  • We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani Christians and others who are subject to persecution, and  use our freedom of expression to keep their plight in the public eye.
  • We must use the freedom that we still have, to stand up for our faith regardless of the relatively minor tribulations that may come our way for doing so.

Friday, 9 March 2012

My Lords, we're ready for that pastoral letter on the homosexual condition now

The Catholic Church in the USA has recently been embroiled in disputes over the Health Care Bill and has woken up to the importance of defending Catholic teaching on the wrongfulness of artificial methods of birth control. Some faithful Catholics have been surprised to hear their first sermon in a generation that explicitly defends Humanae Vitae. (See especially Jennifer Fullweiler’s post, Father, We're Ready for that Homily on Contraception Now)

If the US government is to mandate all Catholic charities to provide insurance that covers contraception, people need to understand why we would oppose that. The defence against this move needs to be more than an assertion of religious freedom. People need to know why we think that contraception is wrong – and that we do not see this simply as a “Catholic issue.”

Here on our side of the pond, the current controversy is over the proposed legalisation of gay marriage. We also need to explain the fundamental reason for our opposition (and why it is not simply a Catholic issue): this is not being done. We can expatiate about the sanctity and value of marriage, the meaning of the word marriage, the way in which the Government is proposing to re-define marriage, the fact that marriage predates any state or government, and so on... But we also need to say why homosexual marriage is wrong, and indeed why homosexual civil unions are immoral. See, for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the CDF document Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (2003). In summary:
  1. Homosexual acts are gravely sinful and can never be approved. (CCC 2357)
  2. The homosexual inclination is objectively disordered (CCC 2358)
  3. Civil unions have an immoral nature (CDF op cit n.5)
In stating these truths, we must also give due prominence to the Catechism’s teaching that people with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with compassion and sensitivity. (CCC 2358) That is a genuine concern when we meet with people struggling with same sex attraction who are trying to live a chaste life in accord with the teaching of the Catholic Church. In many encounters over the years with good people involved in this struggle, I sincerely affirm that their insight, courage, and holiness has often inspired me.

But we need not fool ourselves that this any of this will cut much ice with the militant gay lobby. To say that we should have compassion upon someone implies that there is something wrong – “disordered” in the careful expression of holy mother Church. If, on the other hand, in the words of Nick Clegg, homosexuality should be considered “normal and harmless”, there is no place for compassion, only for recognition and acceptance. If someone told me that they accepted me as a Catholic with compassion and sensitivity, I would not regard it as a compliment. Those who consider that same sex attraction is a good thing, will have a similar reaction. We need to explain and defend the teaching of the Church that same sex attraction is not a good thing in itself but a disorder; not necessarily culpable, but not of its nature a good thing.

My Lords, we're ready for that pastoral letter on the Catholic Church's teaching on the homosexual condition now.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Saints Felicity and Perpetua for children

This afternoon I celebrated Mass for year 5 at our school (Junior 3 in old money, 4th grade in US currency.) As it would be the feast of St Felicity and St Perpetua, I celebrated a votive Mass of these martyrs. (In the NO calendar, they only have an optional collect, hence the votive Mass.) Here is my sermon for the children:

You have heard the story of the brave martyrs Saints Felicity and Perpetua in class. I want to draw some lessons for us.

First we should be inspired by their courage. This did not come simply from their being brave people, it came from their faith in God and their holiness. They believed firmly that God exists and that Jesus Christ won us heaven through His death on the cross. Therefore they trusted completely in God, even during their terrible sufferings, and they looked forward to happiness for ever in heaven. God also gave them graces to strengthen them when they were thrown to the wild beasts.

Secondly, the saints pray for us. The names of St Felicity and St Perpetua are repeated in the most important prayer of the Mass because they were two of the most famous and revered saints in the early centuries of the Church when the Romans persecuted the Christians.

We should pray to our own patron saints. If you have the name of a saint, you should find out about your saint. If you don’t, you should try to choose a patron saint, find out about their life, and perhaps take their name when it comes to your Confirmation.

St Paul compared the prayers of the saints to a crowd in the stadium at a sporting event. We have the Olympics coming up: on the television, you will see masses of people cheering the runners in the races. When we try to love God, looking forward one day to heaven, the saints are cheering us on from heaven, pleading with God to help us. And he does, with His grace.

Thirdly, remembering the faith that was the bedrock of the courage of St Felicity and St Perpetua, we must ask Our Lord for His help, and call on the saints to assist us with their prayers, so that we grow in our faith and remain firm in it. Our Catholic faith is a great treasure and we must take care never to lose it. We need to find out more about our faith, ask questions, study the catechism, and always remember that our life is given to us to know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in the next.

At the time they were arrested, St Perpetua had recently given birth to a baby, and St Felicity was expecting a baby. St Felicity gave birth to her baby in prison. Both of these courageous young mothers had to say goodbye to their babies, but knew that they would be well looked-after by their Christian families.

At Mass today, let us remember to pray for our extended families – for our grandparents, for our aunts and uncles, our cousins, our other relatives, and for all our good family friends. May God bless our families, keep them safe and reward them for all the good things that they have done for us.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

His blood cries out

A powerful video dedicated to Shabaz Bhatti. It opens with film of him saying that he is ready to die to defend the rights of Christians against the imposition of Sharia law. The song is by ooberfuse; here is the description from their website:
ooberfuse brings together the very best of western and eastern musical traditions. ooberfuse is a london based electro pop band composed of hal, cherrie, and paul. it's all about fusing bold melodies with cool harmonies!
It struck me that this is a remarkable development in the process of demonstrating a popular cultus. There is also a website calling for Shabaz Bhatti's canonisation, and why not, after all?

The General Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Pakistan, held from 20 to 25 March last year in Multan, Punjab, unanimously approved the proposal of Bishop Andrew Francis to submit to the Holy See a formal request to declare the Catholic Minister Shahbaz Bhatti a “martyr”. Cardinal Keith O'Brien has publicly given his support to the cause.

Shabaz Bhatti was first Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs in Pakistan. He was murdered on 2 March 2011 in Islamabad. It could scarcely be doubted that he was killed propter odium fidei (on account of hatred of the faith) and that he is therefore a genuine Christian martyr, though of course, we submit to the judgement of the Church on the matter.

UPDATE: In this morning's post I received flyers for the British Pakistan Peace Rally which takes place this Saturday 10 March with petition at the Pakistan embassy, Petition at 10 Downing Street and rally at Trafalgar Square. For details, see:

Monday, 5 March 2012

Mother Riccarda

Mother Riccarda, long time head of the Bridgettines, was known as a gentle superior, saved Jews from the German concentration camps during the war, died in 1966, and her cause is gaining popularity. Fr Ray Blake down in Brighton, recently blessed a bus that has been named after her.

A google search for Mother Riccarda on Fr Ray Blake's blog will point you to more information about her. Here is the prayer for her beatification:
Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Mother M. Richard Beauchamp Hambrough, O.SS.S. (1887 – 1966)

We thank you, Lord, because You have moulded a simple and generous heart in Your servant Richard, capable of total confidence and heroic adhesion to Your project of life. Grant to us,
who venerate her memory, that we may follow in her steps, and have her as a sister and as an advocate before Your throne of mercy.
Glory be … 3 times

In the event of graces granted through the intercession of the Servant of God you are kindly asked to inform:
Motherhouse, Farnese, 96 - Rome - 00186 - Italy
Tel. +39 06-68892596.

CD 252 Teaching my child to pray

Our priest the other day said that parents should teach their children to pray. I thought I would be able to leave this to the school as I don’t really know what to do. Where should I start?
The place to start is with your own prayers. There are many good prayer books that will help you to say some simple morning and night prayers so that you are used to spending a little time with Our Lord each day. You can also spend some quiet moments thinking about the truths of the faith (again there are some quite simple summaries available in many prayer books) and then asking Our Lord in your own words how to live well as a Catholic.

You are expecting your second child and I think that this is a good time to start praying with him. You will be concerned that everything goes well with your pregnancy and with the birth. In a very simple way, you can “share” these thoughts and prayers with your unborn child as well as looking forward to the moment when you first see his face. Saying the Rosary with and for your unborn child is a beautiful preparation for birth.

As soon as your child is able to walk and talk a little, that would be the time to kneel down and say some simple prayers, especially at bedtime. You can say prayers at your own choice; there are many good children’s prayer books that can help. It is also good if you say some traditional prayers such as the Our Father and the Hail Mary, and perhaps the Act of Contrition and the Prayer to the Guardian Angel. It doesn’t matter that your child doesn’t understand them fully as yet – he will start at school knowing these familiar prayers and will understand them better as he gets older.

If you can persuade your husband to take part in these prayers (whether he is Catholic or not) this will be a fine example to your children, help him to be a good role model for them, and bring blessings on your family.

Catholic Dilemmas column published in the Catholic Herald
Suggestions for Catholic Dilemmas are always welcome in the combox.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Una Voce launches Position Papers

The Foedratio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV) has launched a new series of position papers intended to stimulate and inform debate about the usus antiquior. Here is a link for the main page for this project with an introduction and the first paper which concerns the Service of Men and Boys at the Altar.

Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, is the Moderator of a Liturgy and Spirituality Subcommittee of FIUV which will coordinate the development and publication of the position papers. They will also be available via the Rorate Caeli blog.

This project will be helpful as a means of engaging with liturgists, theologians and all who are interested in open and rational debate concerning the reform of the Sacred Liturgy.

Cardinal O'Brien on madness of same sex marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien has an article in today's Telegraph on the proposed re-definition of marriage. Here is a taster.
If same-sex marriage is enacted into law what will happen to the teacher who wants to tell pupils that marriage can only mean – and has only ever meant – the union of a man and a woman?

Will that teacher’s right to hold and teach this view be respected or will it be removed? Will both teacher and pupils simply become the next victims of the tyranny of tolerance, heretics, whose dissent from state-imposed orthodoxy must be crushed at all costs?
Read the whole article here: We cannot afford to indulge this madness

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Day With Mary begins

Just a quick post before we go into action. The Day With Mary team arrived just after eight this morning. They have now unloaded the van, set up the glorious bookstall (quite a lot of TAN books there) while the sisters have prepared the statue and its plinth, ready for the procession that will start soon. We have several priests ready to hear confessions, there will be Missa Cantata for the Ember Day, adoration and a Blessed Sacrament procession in the afternoon, Benediction and various other devotions through the day.

When I went to greet the team at half past eight and they were unloading the van, I sang the chorus of "My old man said 'follow the van'" and they told me of the above video which was taken at Fr Schofield's Church in Uxbridge.

Two sermons ready, cassock on, prepared to consecrate the parish once more to Our Lady Immaculate... Ave Maria!
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