Showing posts from August, 2006

Where I will be tomorrow

Tomorrow, I will be taking Easyjet to Geneva and then travelling to the French Alps via Annecy with my sisters for the wedding of my niece, Mary and her fiancé, Robbie. The photo shows Église St Martin at Les Allues where the wedding will take place. Here is a photo of Annecy which was the home of St Francis de Sales when he was the Catholic Bishop of Geneva. We will be passing through here and may perhaps have the time to stop.

More images from Parkminster

To finish off the series of posts from Parkminster, here are a few more photos. The first gives and idea of the perspective as one looks down the Great Cloister Yet another Chapel! This is the Family Chapel. The community meet here for prayers before the weekly walk. And here is the magnificent and atmospheric library. A closer shot of the far end shows Our Blessed Lady (much loved by the Carthusians) and the crucifix overlooking the place of study. This is the view of the Guest House from halfway down the stairs. The Guest House is actually older than the main part of the Monastery. It is very grand but not much used. This is the Bishop's room - actually set out as a throne room. This room has not been used much in recent years.

10 year olds' right to Confirmation

There is a most helpful article on Zenit regarding a request from some 10 year old girls to receive the sacrament of Confirmation in a diocese where the policy is to delay Confirmation until the "sophomore year" that is the second year of College or High School, I think, so about 13-15 years old. (Could someone from the States clarify this?) Fr McNamara refers to a letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship to an English-speaking bishop: protocol No. 2607/98/L, published in Notitiae 1999, pages 537-540. In response to a similar case, the letter points to the basic principle in canon law that pastors may not refuse the sacraments to the faithful who ask for them and are properly disposed. The Bishop was directed to confirm the girl.

1942 advice for soldiers rings true

In response to the various items about the misbehaviour of young people at Lourdes, Paulinus at In Hoc Signo Vinces has found an excellent passage from a 1942 soldiers' prayer book. He called the post Attention all Catholic students .

Manual work at Parkminster

As I mentioned before, manual work is an essential part of the balanced way of life at Parkminster. The monk has to combine some physical work with the hours of office in choir and silent prayer in the cell. In each cell there is a workshop downstairs, comprising two rooms, one of which (with a door onto a garden) is mainly used for storing and chopping wood. The second (pictured below) is used for indoor working. I know that standard equipment in many of the cells was a foot-operated lathe and perhaps some of these still survive. When I first saw the workshop in my cell, I had the frivolous thought that if you were driven mad by the solitude, you would not be denied the equipment to express your feelings - The next photo is something of a triumph. Not only did I get the axe-swing exactly synchronised with the camera's self-timer, I also actually hit the wood squarely. That did not by any means always happen. (The "incredible hulk" colour cast somehow got put in by a mist

Evangelium course arrived

The other day I received the copies of Evangelium that I had ordered. This is a new catechetical resource from the CTS (Catholic Truth Society). I put up a post about this in mid-July. Evangelium was written by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, two recently ordained priests from the English College in Rome. We are going to use it in my parish for the RCIA course. You can see some samples of the material at the CTS Evangelium page .

Vatican II, Paul VI, the Carthusians, and the private Mass

Many people are under the impression that the private Mass was abolished by Vatican II. You may well be told by liturgists that saying Mass without "the people" present makes no sense in the modern Church - or even that it is forbidden. Next time anyone tries to tell you this, refer them to the letter Optimam partem of Pope Paul VI in 1971 to Fr Andrew Poisson, the Minister General of the Carthusians. The text (in Latin) can be found in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1971, volume 63 pages 447-450. Here is my translation of the relevant section of the letter: Monks who are bound by the obligation of choir in the Carthusian Order, almost from its beginning, have been priests, or religious who are preparing themselves to receive sacred orders. There are those today who are of the opinion that this is not fitting that cenobites or hermits, who are never going to exercise the sacred ministry, should be raised to the priesthood. As we have already said elsewhere (Cfr. AAS 58 (1966) p.

Food at Parkminster

The Conventual Mass at St Hugh's is at 8.15am during the week. Afterwards, I followed the custom of celebrating a private Mass as the Carthusian priests do every day. More about that later. After this and thanksgiving, the first period of manual work or study begins at 10.30am. At 11.15am, the monks say the office of Sext and then lunch arrives delivered by trolley around the cloister and placed into the hatch of each cell. Here is the lunch as it is delivered. The can on top is fresh milk. There are three trays with food in, a fruit basket and your preference of drink: The meal is taken at a shelf in the window recess, called the Refectorium . There is a personal tablecloth, a metal knife and a wooden fork and spoon to eat it with. To drink, there is a choice of fruit juice or Parkminster's home-made apple wine. It sometimes gets called cider but apple wine is probably a safer name because it is 10% abv. It is quite dry and decepively strong. I had this for the first two days

Pope Benedict on Saints Monica and Augustine

I don't usually post the Pope's messages because they are available in so many other places on the Internet. But I have just read yesterday's Angelus message, courtesy of Zenit and it is such a fine example of simple pastoral preaching that I couldn't resist putting it here. I think I will print off some copies for my parishioners. Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today, Aug. 27, we remember St. Monica, and tomorrow we will remember her son, St. Augustine: Their testimonies can be of great consolation and help for many families also of our time. Monica, born in Tagaste, in present-day Algeria (in Souk-Arhas), of a Christian family, lived in an exemplary way her mission of wife and mother, helping her husband Patricius to discover, little by little, the beauty of faith in Christ and the strength of evangelical love, capable of overcoming evil with good. After his death, which occurred prematurely, Monica dedicated herself with courage to the care of her three children, two bo

"Too many abortions"

An article on Angus Reid consultants is titled Abortion Numbers Too High, Say Britons . The opening paragraph reads: Many adults in Britain believe the incidence of pregnancy termination in their country should be reduced, according to a poll by Communicate Research for Choose Life. 53 per cent of respondents believe the number of abortions in the country is too high. This is all fine and dandy - but my question is: How many abortions is just about right?

Pro-Life Prayer Vigil 30 September

Helpers of God's Precious Infants The next vigil at BPAS abortion facility, Bedford Square WC1 will be on Saturday 30 September 2006, beginning at St Patrick's, Soho Square. It will be led by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Programme 9am Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St Patrick's, Soho Square 9.40am Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 9.50am Prayerful and peaceful procession to BPAS abortion facility with image of Our Lady of Guadelupe, Holy Rosary and hymns 11.30am Return procession with prayers and hymns 12noon Benediction 12.15pm Break for tea and get-together (please bring packed lunch)

Theology of the Body conference

I am happy to advertise the forthcoming Theology of the Body Conference at Westminster Cathedral. How to study and reflect on John Paul II's Theology of the Body Thursday 14 September 2006 Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue SW1P 1QJ 6pm-8pm Welcome: Bishop Bernard Longley - Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster Introduction: Edmund Adamus - Director for Pastoral Affairs, Westminster Diocese Keynote Speaker: Anastasia Northrop - Theology of the Body International Alliance Bookings can be paid in advance or on the door. Entry fee £5 - cheques payable to WRCDT Send to Catherine MacGillivray: Dept for Pastoral Affairs Vaughan House, Francis Street LONDONSW1P 1QN 020 7931 6064 Please mention The Hermeneutic of Continuity when replying :-)

Homeschooling links

Maureen over at the Trinity Prep School has a post called Seven Habits of Highly Effective New School Years . Trinity Prep School is her home, as Maureen is one of the growing number of Homeschoolers in the United States. Homeschooling is not very common in England - sometimes people are surprised to find that it is actually legal. The seven habits are suggestions by Maureen who is inviting other homeschoolers to do their own lists. She has, in the process compiled a list of Homeschooling blogs. Families in England who are thinking of homeschooling might find this list helpful - look up a few blogs, look up their links ... you'll have loads of information in no time. I found Maureen's blog after following up a link on my site stats. It turned out to be a post on a homeschooling bulletin board group from my sister, Jane, in Birmingham. From there, I found Mary Vitamin at the Castle of the Immaculate (what a fantastic name for your home!) and then on to Trinity Prep.

British disgrace themselves in Lourdes

It was bound to happen sooner or later. The scandal of British pilgrimages to Lourdes has finally hit the headlines with a piece in the Daily Telegraph recently had a piece titled Drunk Britons shatter peace of Lourdes . It is sad to see how the behaviour of British youngsters has given the excuse to paint a tawdry picture of Lourdes in the national press. Actually, Lourdes does not have "drinking spots" or a "profusion of fast food restaurants". There is one MacDonalds at the top of the town, well away from the Domaine and there are, of course, many cafés which sell food and drink all day to pilgrims who are able to relax and enjoy a drink without spoiling things for everyone else. It is the British who turn them into "drinking spots". Regarding the bad behaviour, the article does not exaggerate. I visit Lourdes every year and I am sick and tired of having to look sheepish in the morning after the hotel staff and guests from other countries have been kep

Pictures of the Carthusian Martyrs in the Chapter House

The Chapter House at Parkminster is an austere chapel with immaculately polished flooring and panelling. The front and back walls are covered with paintings of the sufferings of the English Carthusian martyrs. The paintings reminded me of the pictures in the tribune of the Venerable English College in Rome. The latter were painted in order to impress upon the students what their fate was and to encourage them to face their possible ordeal in England with the courage of their forbears. There were 18 Carthusians martyred during the reign of King Henry VIII. In this picture you can see one monk hanging while another forgives the man who is about to execute him. The penalty suffered by the Carthusians was that of being hanged, drawn and quartered. In this picture an axeman is quartering one who has just been hanged. Ten of the Carthusian martyrs were deliberately allowed to die of neglect and starvation in Newgate prison where they were tied to posts with their hands behind their backs. Th

Relics at Parkminster

Next to the library at Parkminster is the relic chapel. Above the altar is a fine statue of the Sacred Heart - the photo does not do it justice. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is important in the history of the Carthusians because the heresy of Jansenism provided a subtle trap for those who are dedicated to contemplation in solitude and silence. The chapel is filled with display cases containing hundreds of relics. The most important is under the altar, the body of St Boniface (notice the skeleton underneath the reclining statue.) I rolled up the lace trim of the altar cloth to get a good photograph. But the lace itself is worth looking at in its own right. It is a very delicate lace - perhaps someone who is an expert can comment on it. One one wall is an Agnus Dei . This is a wax tablet with the Lamb of God impressed on the front. On the reverse is an inscription recording the papal blessing. These devotional objects were very popular with Catholics in England at the time of the Reforma

Tour of a Carthusian cell

The Great Cloister of St Hugh's, Parkminster is the largest in the world. The photograph below shows part of two sides of the Great Cloister with the cells attached: The next photo shows the door to the cell I was given. Each cell has a text on the door: mine was "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also". To the right of the door is the hatch where the brothers leave food and any other items such as toiletries, light bulbs etc. that have been requested. Inside is a spacious ambulacrum with windows onto the enclosed garden. There is thus room for the monk to take exercise if the weather prevents him from walking in the garden. The stairs go up to the main living quarters and down to the work area and garden. To the left of the cell door, you can see the inside door of the hatch. Here is a view of the ambulacrum from the stairs: Upstairs, the first room in the main part of the cell is called the Ave Maria . The custom is to kneel down and say a Hail Mary every

Breviary - how long is long?

In addition to the offices sung in Choir and said privately, the Carthusians say the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary either before or after each main office. There was a copy in my cell and for some reason, I got the giggles when I discovered that this Little Office is actually longer than the modern Roman office - sometimes referred to unkindly as the "Liturgy of the Minutes". Here is a Roman Breviary that I found in the library, dating from 1870. For Sunday Matins, it has the traditional 18 psalms which are nowadays considered to have been such an outrageous imposition that it was only sensible for Pope Pius X to rearrange the psalter and shorten it. In the process, he also dropped the Laudate psalms from Lauds (still sung by the Carthusians). This change was commented on by Alcuin Reid in The Organic Development of the Liturgy . He pointed out that the tradition of singing these psalms is probably a remnant of the synagogue worship. Therefore they were probably s

Back to earth

The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and it will not rest until it reaches its goal; it will not desist until the Most High responds. (Ecclesiasticus 35.17) I got back from my few days at Parkminster this evening. Having opened the post, sorted out and resized some photos, here is just a taster - lots more to follow. First, the Brothers' chapel. Nowadays, the distinction between the brothers and the Choir isn't so sharp but the brothers use this chapel during the office. The books that I had in my cell gave the option of saying a certain number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys instead of some of the office recited in private. So the Carthusians offered the opportunity of silence and solitude for anyone - you never had to be conversant with Latin or the intricacies of the office. Through the screen is the main choir: The monastery has always done its own printing and binding. Many of the books in daily use are over 100 years old. Each day at Mass, the chant is all sung fro

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