Showing posts from September, 2006

Oh-oh trads just wanna have fu-un

This is a video I took of the last verse of the hymn sung after Mass for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Merton College during the CIEL Conference in September this year. Sorry about the jumpy start and finish and the blurry zooming - this was taken on my still camera which has video capability and I was trying it out. I think that it conveys something of the joyful exuberance that prevails in traditionalist circles. The words to the verse are: Gloria tibi, Domine, Qui natus es de virgine, Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu In sempiterna saecula. Ave! Ave! ora pro nobis Sancta Dei Genetrix. O Lord, Who were born of the Virgin, Glory to You with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Hail! Hail! pray for us O Holy Mother of God. (If anyone from CIEL can let me have the text of the rest of the hymn by email to save me typing it out, I'll be glad to post it here.)

Historical people meme

Fr Seán Finnegan tagged me back with another thought-provoking meme: Who are the five historical people you would most like to spend an evening with? (Our Lord & our Lady don't count - respectfully!) Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major - to hear his battle plan on the eve of the Battle of Zama Tertullian - I'd ask him "What do you think of this guy Marcion?" and then just sit back. Guy Fawkes - I'd just love to know what really happened William Weston - to listen to stories of his escapades as a priest on the run in Elizabethan England Blessed Titus Brandsma - to smoke a few Dutch cheroot or two while on the way to the next town to advise the Catholic newspaper editor not to accept Nazi advertising Fr Finnegan's list is interesting.

This term at Canmore

Canmore is the home of the Catholic Society at the University of St Andrews. The Moral Highground comes from there and gives a good sense of the joy that there is in good company as a student. St Augustine has a great description of this time of youth and healthy friendship in his Confessions. In a post yesterday , there are photos of recent events where Fr Scott Deeley and Fr Roger Nebitt visited to give talks. I'm very much looking forward to my own visit there in November. I have been there most years ever since Fr Patrick Burke was an undergraduate and always find it a tonic. Mind you, it'll be braw at that time of year.

Straights not allowed

I was talking informally the other day to an 18 year old youngster in my parish who told me that she and her older sister like to go to Gay bars in London. She explained that some of them specialise in 1970s Glam Rock and that they enjoy that sort of music. (They both have boyfriends.) I did point out the extreme inadvisability and attendant moral danger of going to such places, but I was intrigued when she explained a problem that they had with one of the Clubs, called G-A-Y. I just spent some time on their website to check her story (but won't put the link here.) The list of forthcoming events at the club gives links to descriptions of the individual evenings. On those pages, you are are offered a free or discounted entry voucher. It is the small print on this voucher that is interesting. It includes the following: G_A_Y has a strict majority lesbian and gay door policy. Ignoring this invalidates your voucher and management reserves the right to refuse admission. So it's true

Parish Club, "Edge" and reminiscences

Just called into the Rosary Parish Social Club to drop off their post and the latest update on the Hall Bookings. Siobhan (20) was there, together with Dave and Denise. Siobhan introduced me to Carling's new product "Edge": bottled beer with a citrus additive. It's one of those young people's drinks that you glug out of the bottle - it's actually very refreshing. We got to talking about the various trips that she went on with the Faith group in the parish, with stories about freezing at Stonyhurst, singing "Vindaloo" at the end of a Scots Ceilidh, and (when they were all about 12 or 13), stealing Father's sandals because they didn't want to be seen out with him wearing them. Siobhan was eloquent about how much they all enjoyed the Faith group trips despite the ribbing they got from their peers for going on a "religious holiday". She has volunteered to help with a new group so that must be a high priority this term ...

Crusades - what really happened

There is an excellent article on the Crusades by Jimmy Akin. It is published at Ignatius Insight which is well worth a look in its own right. Hat tip to the Curt Jester .

Catholic ethos at St Luke's College [repost]

This post was put on the blog on 14 June 2006. A while back, I took down all my posts on St Lukes to avoid giving fuel to a hostile secular press. Given the recent coverage in the Guardian , the Daily Mail , the Evening Standard , the Metro , and the Tablet , giving the impression that the Catholic ethos was somehow extreme, it seems reasonable to set the record straight as to what the Catholic life of College actually did involve at that time. 14 June 2006 Recent tendentious press coverage of St Luke’s College has uncritically repeated the remarks of a small number of students who have compared the Catholic ethos of St Luke’s to that of “fanatical religious cults”. This post is intended to give a balanced picture of the Catholic ethos of the College. Collective worship Each term, there are two occasions at which the whole College is expected to engage in collective worship. Normally these are para-liturgical prayer services arranged by the Chaplain and RE department with full involvem

Tablet article today

A kind contact has been passing me have electronic press cuttings all this week. Today, emailed me the page of the Pill (oops, sorry, the Tablet ) with an article "Sixth-form college head resigns after ‘hellfire’ row". Now this is remarkable. In all the reportage this week, a student's obviously not-quite-the-whole-truth-but-very-quotable remark about Barbara McGuigan has been repeated "She told us that if we had an abortion we’d go to Hell for ever". Trust the Tablet to make that slander the headline! Again, for the record, Barbara McGuigan does not believe that everyone who has an abortion goes to hell. She is on record speaking of the forgiveness and mercy of God. She also refers to Evangelium Vitae where Pope John Paul II spoke (n.99) in a kind and compassionate way to women who have had an abortion. (See my previous post on this for the text.) The article refers to the "strong support" that I gave to the Principal, and repeats the Guardian lan

Parent Leadership

George, a regular commenter on this blog, mentioned James Stenson so I looked up his website Parent Leadership . it's well worth a visit - especially for any fathers out there who are trying to give some leadership in their family.

Time travel preferences

Fr Nicholas Schofield tagged me with this one: If an angel could take me back in time, what five things or occasions would I like to experience? I'll follow his lead and ignore Biblical events - nevertheless, I can't bear to limit the list so I'll do a secular one and a sacred one SECULAR 1. Being in the Roman senate to see Catiline's supporters shuffle away from him during Cicero's first Oratio in Catilinam in 63BC 2. Attending the ludi saeculares at Rome in 17BC and hearing the carmen saeculare sung 3. Watching the first performance of Twelfth Night in 1602 4. Travelling on the inaugural journey on the Great Western Railway in 1841 5. Seeing the earth from space with Yuri Gargarin in 1961 SACRED 1. Attending a Sunday Mass celebrated by St Ambrose 2. Attending one of the lectures of the Blessed John Duns Scotus at Oxford 3. Walking the seven Churches with St Philip Neri 4. Listening to St Alphonsus Liguori preach on Our Lady, hell, or the Blessed Sacrament 5. B

Why I am Catholic video download

The other day, I posted the YouTube version of the video Why I am Catholic . The authors, Michael Joseph and Katerina Marie, run the blog Evangelical Catholicism . Michael Joseph is a graduate of Steubenville: that tells you something! The video is available on their blog for download in either 18Mb or 40Mb sizes. Here is the permalink to their post . I'm downloading the 40Mb version which will be used as the intro to the first of this season's RCIA meetings in my parish tonight.

What we REALLY are

This video was made to illustrate the idea that as human people, we are more than just animals. It was posted as a response to "hey look monkeys!", a video that promoted the idea that we are just "monkeys". (Actually, that would be "apes" but what would monkeys know about that?)

Morris dancing at Walsingham

In case you are unfamiliar with this English tradition, here's a taster: I took this video on my camera at Walsingham last Saturday, on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham. The various people walking past are probably from the Liverpool Union of Catholic Mothers, the Oxford Oratory or other groups gathering for the feast day. There are various theories about the origins of Morris dancing. One of the more widely accepted is that it comes from "Moorish" dancing. One of the Walsingham walkers who spent many years in the army told me that the Moorish dancing formed part of the weapons training for the Knights Templar.

US Catholic bloggers chip in

Jeff Miller ( The Curt Jester ) and Gerald Augustinus ( The Cafeteria is Closed ) have posted on the recent press coverage in the Guardian and the Daily Mail. I'm too religious for my school, too religious for my school (Jeff) Egads! Catholic schools teach Catholicism? (Gerald)

Daily Mail article and compulsion in Catholic education

There's an article in the Daily Mail (for tomorrow's print edition) called " Head 'too religious' to run a Catholic college ". I should make it clear (as I have to various journalists who have all been quite understanding) that I absolutely cannot speculate or comment in any way on the reason for the Principal's resignation, or the investigation into Leadership and Management, etc. (Nor will I publish any comments on this blog that speculate on those issues.) But, of course, there are some things that apply more generally and I'm happy enough to comment on those. Generally, the Mail article doesn't have the anti-Catholic ring of yesterday's Guardian . Unfortunately, it does repeat the caricature of Barbara McGuigan - something that needs to be addressed more fully at some stage. I was amused to see that the Marian procession has now become "a procession around the playing field carrying religious icons." The article ends: Father Fin

Blog hack blog

I've just discovered that when you click on a label, the resulting page has a limit of 20 pages. The information came from Hackosphere which is a useful place to go for bloggers who like to chop things around (it provides a hack to solve the problem too). Not got round to doing much technical with the blog at the moment - more important things on my plate. But one of these days...

"Why am I Catholic?" video

This video is by by Katerina Marie Cabello whose blog is Evangelical Catholicism . The video slideshow gives six reasons for being Catholic: 1) the Eucharist, 2) the Church, 3) the Sacraments, 4) Mary, 5) Marriage (actual and spiritual), and 6) Communion of Saints. The song for the video is "Jesus Christ You are my Life," the theme song from the 2005 World Youth Day.

Guardian attacks Finigan

There's an article in the Guardian today about St Luke's College called Rights and Wrongs . They are trying to use the College as a cause celebre in opposing compulsory religious education and religious worship. In the course of it, they have a go at Barbara McGuigan, quoting a student who said "She told us if we had an abortion we'd go to hell for ever." (This must be a different Barbara McGuigan from the one who talks about the harm abortion does to women and about God's healing love and forgiveness always being there for the repentant sinner.) They give their own view on why the Principal Maria Williams "accepted paid leave". They put the expression in scare quotes and attribute it as "according to Fr Timothy Finigan". They say: "At the time he insisted this was a "neutral action". She had not been fired, and could well return" I am not sure what we are supposed to make of this. Perhaps it is the Guardian's view

Videos tagged

As a service for readers, I have now labelled the videos on the blog. So if you click on the "videos" label for this post, you get a page of videos. (I will eventually work through and label the rest of the old posts. But there are quite a few, so don't hold your breath.)

Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence) trailer

Here is the trailer for the largely silent film of the Grande Chartreuse, including part of the Benedicite . Glorious!

Walsingham - Slipper Chapel and Catholic Shrine

The familiar Catholic statue of Our Lady of Walsingham is kept in the Slipper Chapel, about one mile from Walsingham itself. At this point, pilgrims would remove their shoes to walk the last mile to the holy House at Walsingham itself. For the feast day, the statue is especially decorated with jewels that have been donated. The Slipper Chapel itself dates back to the mid-14th century. Desecrated at the Reformation and after, it was restored at the end of the 19th century and finally re-consecrated in 1938. Until 1980. large gatherings were accommodated at the Catholic shrine by the use of an open-air sanctuary. The new Chapel of Reconciliation was opened in 1981 and consecrated in 1982. It seats 400 inside but one wall consists of panels that can be opened up to the outside when there is a larger number of pilgrims. They style is intended to resemble a Norfolk Barn.

Walsingham - the Anglican shrine

Fr (Alfred) Hope Patten was appointed the Vicar of Walsingham in 1921 and wished to encourage devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham by having a new statue made, based on that depicted on the seal of the medieval Priory. In 1931, a "Holy House" was dedicated, enclosed within a small Church. In 1938, that Church was enlarged to for the present Anglican Shrine. Here is a rather fine ceramic of the Annunciation which is at the back of the shrine: The shrine at Walsingham traces its origin to the vision received in 1061 by the Saxon Lady Richeldis de Faverches. In her vision, she was taken to the Holy House at Nazareth. It was difficult at that time for Christians to visit the holy land because of their occupation by Muslim forces. Our Lady asked the Lady Richeldis to build an exact replica of the Holy House at Walsingham and hence Walsingham became known as "England's Nazareth." There are some curiosities at the Anglican shrine. Here is a statue of Charles, King and Ma

Henry VIII's legacy

Part of what used to the refectory of the Augustinian Priory at Walsingham which cared for "England's Nazareth" before Henry VIII destroyed the chapel, dissolved the priory and had the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham burnt at Chelsea. (That's Fr Milt Walsh from San Francisco Diocese in the corner.)

An ordinary afternoon in Walsingham

The local Morris dancers happened to be in Walsingham on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham (they did not know anything about the feast day.) So as well as having a larger than customary crowd of onlookers, they also had the odd processional banner going past and competition in the striking attire stakes. (I've uploaded the pictures all right but can't edit them. So you get this one in high-res. - click for "large". Some more tomorrow - and a video!)

Commenting now fixed in beta

Just got over to Wonersh from Walsingham and logged in to beta blogger to find that the commentnig problems are now apparently sorted. Managed to upload my photos to my account on the network here so I'll post one or two tasters this evening.

Off to Walsingham

Later today, I will drive over to Fakenham to join the walkers on the Guild of Ransom Walsingham Walk. A party has walked there from London over the last week, praying the Guild of Ransom Novena and carrying petitions from people all over England and Wales. Until a couple of years ago, the walk was done as a route march, on public roads, with each man carrying all his requisites for the week. The first year I did it, I suffered from quite bad blisters and was hobbling around for two weeks afterwards. The next year, I was better prepared and managed it without trouble. However, the roads to Walsingham which used to be quiet country routes, now carry heavy traffic, including articulated lorries, travelling in excess of 50mph and the decision was taken that the enterprise was an accident waiting to happen. Some of the experienced walkers devised an alternative route which is mainly off road. The route is much longer but the compromise was made of taking two support vehicles: two black Lon

Translation bloomer

The Congregation for the Clergy hold a regular monthly Videoconference for the Clergy which can be viewed in realtime online. They also send an archive of the contributions. The latest one, received this morning is on the theme of "Race and culture: meeting or clash of civilizations". There was an amusing clash in the title of one of the pieces. The contribution of Fr P. Paolo Scarafoni, L.C. was given in English translation as Race and Culture. Meeting or Clash of Civilisations. The Parish as a place of meeting and co-habitation. I sent an email to advise of the unfortunate connotation of the term "cohabitation" in modern English. My suggested alternatives were "co-existence", "living in common" or "common life". The next conference, on 27 September is on "Bioethics: the human genome and stem cells." Should be good.

Pro-abortion violence

How many times have you been annoyed in England when someone trots out the propaganda line about pro-lifers being violent. Or (perhaps even more annoying) when well-meaning Catholics who have little knowledge of grass roots pro-life work piously say that we must not be violent (as if any mainstream pro-life groups have ever been involved in violence.) Human Life International have provided a most interesting website Abortion Violence that looks at the other side of the coin. Why do we never hear about the violence of pro-abortionists? The details page gives comprehensive documentation in support of the following summary: We’ve heard endless stories in the mainline media about “anti-choice violence” and an “organized campaign of terror and intimidation against reproductive health centers.” But where does the real violence lie when it comes to the abortion issue? Pro-life groups have emphasized the violence that goes on inside the abortion mills—but what about the violence that pro-ab

20,000 mark

Hit the 20,000 visitors mark at 11.17am today, just one day short of 5 months blogging. Of course Joee Blogs got this number in 24 hours :-) Many thanks to you all for reading - makes it worthwhile writing it.

First Faith in Focus Talk

The first talk in the Autumn Series for Faith in Focus will be this coming Monday 25 September, at the St Vincent’s Centre, Carlisle Place, Victoria SW1P 1NL, starting at 7pm The title is "What is the Faith Movement?" and the speaker is Fr Stephen Dingley. Fr Dingley teaches dogmatic theology at St John's Seminary, Wonersh and holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics from the university of Cambridge so he is well qualified to talk about the relationship between science and Catholicism which is at the heart of the Faith Movement's ethos. As a regular university level teacher, he is also well exercised in making presenting on these matters in an interesting and accessible way. See the website for more on the Faith Movement .

Did the BBC start the anti-pope outrage?

There is a fascinating article on Lifesite news, BBC, NY Times and Guardian Appear to Have Stage-Managed Muslim Anti-Pope Hatred , tracing the outrage against the Pope to stirring on the part of the BBC H/T to Fr Sean Finnegan . As he says, "make up your own mind".

Others at the Giffard Club

The Giffard Club is composed of recently ordained priests and so I was very happy to be invited as a guest today, not fitting into this category. Fellow blogger, Fr Nicholas Schofield ( Roman Miscellany ), pictured here (right) with Frs John O'Leary (left) and Michael Dunne who is assistant priest at Brook Green and hosted the meeting. Of course, no blog post about such gatherings would be complete without a picture of Fr Richard Whinder (centre), the founder of the Giffard Club. He is pictured here with Fr Mark Vickers (left) and Fr Gerard Skinner. Frs Schofield and Whinder have recently moved to new appointments. Fr Whinder is now assistant priest at St Joseph's, New Malden (one of his parishioners is Auntie Joanna ) and Fr Schofield is now assistant priest at Our Lady and St Joseph, Kingsland. Say a prayer for them both as they settle into their new assignments.

Fr John Saward at the Giffard Club

I was kindly invited to attend today's meeting of the Giffard Club, named after Bishop Bonventure Giffard (1642-1734), Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District and, later, the London District. There is an article about him in the Catholic Encyclopaedia . The meetings begin with prayers for the repose of the soul of Bishop Giffard, then an invited speaker gives a paper on some subject of interest to priests. The Litany of Loreto is said in the Church, followed by the singing of the Salve. The meeting then moves to a convenient local restaurant for lunch. The venue at the moment is the presbytery of the Holy Trinity, Brook Green. Today's guest speaker was Fr John Saward , a married former Anglican priest who is now parish priest of St Gregory's in Oxford. He is the author of Redeemer in the Womb and several other works. Fr Saward is pictured here (right) with Fr Marcus Holden: His subject today was the sacredness of the Liturgy and the sense of sin in the priest. He drew atte

Fr Julian Shurgold on Benedict and Islam

Fr John Boyle at South Ashford Priest has posted the text of Fr Julian Shurgold's excellent letter to the Independent on Pope Benedict's Regensburg lecture . He also included a link to the other letters to the Independent . Fr Julian teaches Church History at Wonersh and is there on Monday mornings at the same time as Fr Boyle and myself.

Bringing back memories of Oxford

Any visit to Oxford fills me with joy and nostalgia. My three years there as a young man were genuinely happy. It was there that I shared with John Hayes the excitement of the election of Pope John Paul II. John was probably one of the few people in the world who heard the word "Carolus" and said immediately "Wojtyla!". Apparently at the election of Pope Benedict he hesitated at the name Joseph, knowing that there was another Cardinal by that name. I was at Corpus Christi College from 1977-1980. My two elder sisters both married men from Merton which is next door. Here is a view of the Chapel from the Grove at Merton College. And here is a view of Mob Quad. Oxford abounds with stories of tourists. Apparently, an American visitor to Merton asked one of the servants how the lawns came to be so perfect. The servant answered in his Oxford twang "Well you plants the seed, you waters it, then you scythes it. The you waters it again and they you scythes it. You do tha

CIEL 2006 - people

It was a great joy to be at the CIEL Conference in Oxford last Friday. I left wishing that I had cancelled other events and arranged to be there for the whole conference. It was great to meet people that I had heard of via the internet or the Catholic press. The picture on the right is of Shawn Tribe. I have read his posts avidly on the New Liturgical Movement blog which is the best source of objective and rational comment on liturgical matters. Shawn suggested I take a couple of other photos. I should have heeded his advice. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. I was also amazed to meet Fr Thomas Kocik (pictured left), the author of "The Reform of the Reform" which is a serious attempt to propose debate on the future of the liturgy as reformed after Vatican II. This was a question on which I ventured an opinion during the discussion after Alcuin Reid's excellent paper on " Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Organic Development of the Liturgy". Alcuin particul

CIEL 2006 - Solemn Vespers

Merton Chapel is one of the three most ancient Colleges at Oxford. Founded in 1264, it reeks of the medieval schools. The solemn singing of Vespers took one back through the centuries in the knowledge that the chapel resounded with similar chants all those years ago. These pictures are of Solemn Vespers for the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows during the CIEL Conference 2006. This view through the screen shows the incensing of the altar at the Magnificat . At the end of Vespers, the procession prepares to leave the Chapel.

Good summary of Pope's lecture by an atheist

In the combox, Fr Stephanos has kindly recommended an excellent article by Justin Raimondo called In Defense of Pope Benedict. The Catholic Church is an enemy of the War Party . Fr Stephanos points out that the author is an atheist (and has a political agenda of his own) but gives a good explanation of the Pope's lecture. I agree - it is a thoughtful and helpful piece.

Joee Blogs' counter hits roof

Just heard from Joee Blogs . His post with the photos of the protest at Westminster Cathedral got him over 7000 hits in 24 hours. Wow! Right place + right time + presence of mind + guts to post = Congratulations!

Fr Seán Finnegan is blogging at Valle Adurni

Great news today that Fr Seán Finnegan has started blogging. His blog is called Valle Adurni after his parish in the Adur Valley in Sussex.

Manufactured outrage – III. Summary

(Small version in the sidebar.)

Manufactured outrage – II. Illustrative material

First of all, a photo from Joee Blogs There are a number of other excellent photos of the protest on Sunday outside Westminster Cathedral. For a Very Rushed Post , it has really hit the jackpot for Joe. The post has 196 comments and he has been blogged all over the known universe. Here is the cover of a book which is a best-seller in Turkey: The title "Papa’ya suikast" means "Assassinating the Pope". The book predicts that Pope Benedict will be assassinated in Istanbul in a plot involving Opus Dei, the Freemasons, the Turkish Secret Service and Mehmet Ali Agca. In a comment which may or may not help to defuse tension in the region, Salih Kapusuz, a deputy leader of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party commented: "Benedict, the author of such unfortunate and insolent remarks, is going down in history for his words [...] He is going down in history in the same category as leaders such as (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini." The Assyrian

Manufactured outrage – I. Helpful sources

I read the Pope’s Regensburg speech when it was first published last week and enjoyed it. On Saturday, I attended the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the twinning of Bexley and Evry in my capacity as Mayor’s chaplain. I was surprised to have various people sympathising with me over the attacks on the Pope but got the gist of the story quite quickly. I only just got a chance to look up some information on it and so here is my selection of items. So first of all, some informative comment. An article today by Sandro Magister has a good analysis. The Cafeteria is Closed predictably has some good coverage and opinion. Perhaps the prize for a comprehensive collection of links should go to Webelf’s special report

Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Sorrows

Here are a few photos from the solemn Mass on the Friday of the CIEL 2006 conference at Oxford. You can enlarge any of the photos by clicking on them. If you need a version of any of the photos in higher resolution for any good purpose, please contact me by email. Ego volo celebrare Missam iuxta ritum sanctae Romanae ecclesiae, ad laudem omnipotentis Dei, totiusque ecclesiae triumphantis, ad utilitatem meam, totiusque ecclesiae militantis, pro omnibus qui se commendaverunt orationibus meis in genere et in specie, ac pro felici statu sanctae Romanae ecclesiae. "I intend to celebrate Mass according to the rite of the holy Roman Church, to the praise of the almighty God and of the whole Church triumphant, for my benefit and that of the whole Church militant, for all who have commended themselves to my prayers in general and in particular, and for the happy estate of the holy Roman Church." Here is a view of the celebrant and ministers preparing for solemn Mass for the feast of O

Parish page on morality of IVF

This weekend, I will be speaking at Mass about the sanctity of human life and particularly of the embryo. I will need to say something about IVF because I think that some Catholic couples are unaware that it is wrong. I'm aware that on this issue, some people may need a bit more information than I can give in a sermon. It is also vital that people can find morally acceptable alternatives if necessary (e.g. Life Fertility Care and NAPRO .) I have posted a page on my parish website a page on the morality of IVF . If you have a chance, do take a look and let me have any comments. How does this fit in with the Sunday readings? See the Psalm: The Lord protects the simple hearts; I was helpless so he saved me

A day with CIEL at Oxford

I said a private Mass at 6.30am this morning, then joined the commuters going up to Charing Cross, across to Victoria, and then took the coach to Oxford. Today is the second day of CIEL 2006 , the three day conference of the Centre Internationale d'Etudes Liturgiques (CIEL). It was a great joy to be there and I wished that I had booked in for the whole conference. I have some good photos of the Solemn Mass and one or two of Solemn Vespers. There are also a few of the people who were there. I was kindly invited to stay for dinner. It was great to be able to spend a little more time in such good company but it did mean a rather late journey back so the photo above is just a taster. I will be posting some illustrated reports over the next few days.

Body plan defined at conception

One of the most interesting results of research that Fr Fleming reported today was on the differentiation that is present in the human embryo from conception. You can read a summary of the results of this research in an article from the news features section of Nature : Your Destiny, From Day One . This research shows that the understanding of the embryo in its early stages as a featureless bundle of cells is no longer tenable. It also fatally undermines the old notion that "personhood" can only come about after the potential for twinning has been passed (about 14 days). Far earlier than this, the embryo is differentiating rapidly. Twinning could best be seen as a type of natural cloning where both the original embryo and the "younger" twin are indisputably human lives from the moment they begin to exist as such.

SPUC Clergy information day

SPUC today held a Clergy Information Day. Unfortunately, because of an urgent meeting I had to be late for this so I missed the first half of the morning lecture by Fr John Fleming. I could catch up with most of it from his notes and look forward to the published version when it is available from SPUC. Fr Fleming was speaking about the rights of the unborn under international law, the pro-life battle at the UN and the nature of the early human embryo. As a lecture, it was certainly not "dumbed down". He presented some of the latest research on the biochemistry of the human embryo in relationship with the mother and then tied this in to the philosophical question of the status of the embryo, dealing with such hoary chestnuts as twinning and the differentiation of cells in the embryo. It was a most helpful and informative presentation: intellectually challenging but well put together. I think that the sheer quality of these presentations has been the important factor in the gr

Stats upgrade

The Hermeneutic of Continuity now has an average of 1248 visitors per week so I decided it was worth the $59 of my pocket money to upgrade to Site Meter Plus . If you are new to blogging, I do recommend you try out the free version of Site Meter . One of the most addictive features is looking at the World Map and seeing where your visitors live in the world. The upgraded version gives you the full IP address of visitors and enhancements like 30-day moving averages. You can also get stats from the last 4000 visitors and download them to a csv file. The referral ranking is interesting too - another way to find good blogs.

Blogger labels

I see that Blogger now offers labels in the template for new posts. I'll try and add these bit by bit to the older posts - apart from anything else, it will help me to look up snippets that might be useful elsewhere. The labels need to be formatted differently to look more like part of the footer of the post. I think that I'll have to get into the new "Layouts" thing and learn the tags for that. Not tonight.

Amazon honing its recommendations

Amazon sent me an email today to say that customers who have purchased the same books as me, have also ordered "The Eucharist in Romanesque France: Iconography and Theology" by Elizabeth Saxon." So that's me pigeonholed! It certainly sounds interesting (release 21 September 2006). However, at £50.00, perhaps it is not first priority.

Family - keeping my feet on the ground

It was my niece, Lucy's 14th birthday on Sunday so I dropped into my sister's in Addiscombe on the way home from Wickenden. A lesson I remember from my own youth is that uncles are really best at giving pocket money rather than trying to think what teenagers might like so that makes things relatively easy. Whenever I visit Mary and Jim, I always seem to spend some time cleaning up the computer from the ravages of four children. (The computer is downstairs, in full view and use is heavily supervised.) Today, we had to wait for Patrick's 8Gb collection of music tracks to get copied over to the new external hard drive before deleting them and giving the internal drive some breathing space. (Actually, I am sure I could write a script that would randomly produce "music" at least as rhythmic and tuneful as that lot in about 20Kb but that suggestion would probably not be welcomed. At least now Lucy's new game will probably run better.) They now have Adaware (from a p

Reflecting on Faith and Lukewarmness

I had to leave in a bit of a rush after Mass today in order to get to Wickenden Manor in time for the start of the Day of Recollection for priests. Hence I forgot to take my camera - I will try to remember next time. The photos on this post are rather poor quality snaps from the mobile phone, enhanced a bit using PaintShop Pro. Wickenden Manor is the retreat house of Opus Dei in the South of England (the north has Thorneycroft Hall, near Manchester.) It is in the heart of the Sussex countryside near the village of Sharpthorne. I would have driven there in just about an hour had I not taken a wrong turning just before my destination. The conferences were given by Fr Frank Calduch. He spoke first of all about the virtue of Faith and the importance of a living faith in the priest. The second conference was on the theme of Lukewarmness: something that St Josemaria wrote about. It was delightfully counter-cultural. Instead of telling us to find "Me Time" or to be happy with who we

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