Showing posts from September, 2013

Using rumours to prepare for the worst

A book on business management that I once read in order to see whether there were any insights that could help in pastoral work, rewarded me with one observation, namely that rumours can sometimes have positive effects. If a company allows a rumour to go round that there are redundancies in the offing, people who are subsequently made redundant will be prepared to some degree, and those who keep their jobs will be relieved. This is a brutal example but it has some relevance for the Catholic blogosphere. There is a rumour (and I understand from various sources that it is not a wild one) that Archbishop Piero Marini may be appointed as the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Archbishop Marini ( not to be confused with the papal MC Mgr Guido Marini) was removed as papal MC by Pope Benedict. He is a disciple of the late Archbishop Bugnini and published a book "A Challenging Reform. Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal" which I wrote about briefly in 20

Vocation discernment weekend in Reading with the FSSP

The picturesque snow scene above was taken at St John fisher House in Reading, the home of thee Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England . Fr de Malleray just sent me information about their retreat in December for young men considering a priestly vocation. Vocation discernment weekend in Reading 13-15 December For Catholic men between 18 and 32 years of age (under 18 please contact us). Starts on Friday 13th December at 6pm (arrivals from 5pm) – ends on Sunday 15th December at 3pm. Led by Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP, assisted by Fr Matthew Goddard, FSSP Location: St John Fisher House is the residence of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter in England & Wales. Address: 17 Eastern Avenue, Reading, RG1 5RU, England. Programme: Spiritual conferences, socials, Holy Mass each of the three days (Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite), walks, silent prayer, private talk with Fr de Malleray, FSSP. Fr de Malleray will explain what a vocation is in general and to the priestho

Family Education Trust Autumn Bulletin

As ever, I recommend Family and Youth Concern which campaigns on many issues that are addressed on this blog. The latest Bulletin for Autumn 2013is now available at the website: Bulletin No. 152 . Here is a list of the articles: ‘Legislation built on pretence’ Coming soon! A new booklet from Family Education Trust Government to ask gays, ‘What can we do for you next?’ Fractured Families: Why stability matters Marriage DVD Context matters in the discipline of children Sweden : criminal assaults on children rise following ban on smacking The pitfalls of ‘positive parenting’ Parliamentary inquiry demands review of abortion law More contraception = more repeat abortions New volumes in the Core Knowledge curriculum series Sexuality Explained - a guide for parents and children Risky business: the association between casual sex and emotional problems Prime Minister calls for action to protect children from internet pornography ‘Named person’ for every child: ‘disproportiona

Disabling comments

The comments feature for this blog will now be disabled. I have been thinking about this for some considerable time, and discussing it with other bloggers. Rorate Caeli have recently  made the same decision  and, as far as I know, the uber-blogger Rocco Palmo of Whispers in the Loggia has never had comments. Rorate receives far more comments than I do, and I fully appreciate the difficulty that there must be in moderating all of them. In my case, there is much less work involved (although it is one more social media interaction that does at times require some effort and some borderline decisions.) My main reason is to marshal my time more efficiently by removing one social media chore. My primary duties as a pastor and teacher mean that I do have to ration my use of social media. In making this decision, I would like to record my thanks to the many commenters who have over the years made kind and supportive comments, as well as those who have provided interesting and helpful li

Street preacher arrested for using a loud voice

In another ludicrous piece of intimidation against Christians, Josh Williamson was arrested last Saturday because someone complained that he was speaking too loudly while he was preaching the Gospel - shouting , the police said. Nobody complained about the street buskers who were using loudspeakers so they were not arrested. Williamson was held for five hours in a Perth (Scotland) Police Station. (In the video, the police intervene at 6'52") The Christian Legal Centre has a short report . This would be a good time to take another look at Rowan Atkinson on freedom of speech He refers to a classic Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch in which a manifestly racist officer, Constable Savage, is dressed down for arresting a black man on charges such as "walking in a loud shirt in a built-up area during the hours of darkness", "walking around all over the place", and "looking at me in a funny way." As Rowan Atkinson asked, "Who would have th

Iuventutem High Mass Friday


St Charlemagne and the play of antichrist

This looks interesting. Here is the information: SNEATON CASTLE CENTRE, WHITBY Friday 22nd November to Sunday 24th. St. Charlemagne and the Play of Antichrist Sing, study and learn about music from the early Middle Ages in honour of the first Holy Roman Emperor and his successors, and chants for the Feast of Christ the King. The programme will include excerpts from the early 13th c. Office of 'St. Charlemagne' together with hymnody from the Carolingian renaissance and some of the earliest polyphony, and a speculative edited reconstruction of the semi-liturgical drama 'Ludus de Antichristo' from 12th c. Germany, in which the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I 'Barbarossa' is first seduced by Antichrist and then won back to the true faith. This programme will be the basis of a concert to be performed by the Schola with the Bristol University Schola Cantorum on Saturday 30th November, 7.30 pm, at the Temple Church, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 7HL The i

Whitstable, lecture and evangelising with a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis

On Friday a gave the first of my own contributions to a short series of classes for the evangelisation team gathered by Fr Stephen Langridge at the Vocations Centre at Whitstable. These are young men discerning their vocation, living in community at the centre. They have a programme of prayer (morning meditation, Mass, Rosary, visit, Office etc.) they do some manual work around the house and grounds, and, most importantly, engage in evangelisation in various ways in chaplaincies and on the street. The idea is that evangelisation should be part of the "DNA" of those considering priestly formation. There is also a comprehensive course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, led by a senior seminarian who is spending his pastoral year at Whitstable, and there are some classes in basic theology. (That is where I, and other visiting lecturers come in.) On Friday I was introduced to the community dog. He is called Nemo and it was explained to me that the name is itself i

Faith priests to speak at Ordinariate Church on reasons for believing

The Church of the Most Precious Blood in the Borough (a short walk from London Bridge Station) has been given into the care of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham . They have arranged "Evenings of Faith: Reasons for believing." In October, these will be given by two priests of the Faith Movement, dealing with subjects that are vital to apologetics in our culture. Here are the details: WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 9th Creation’s witness to the Living God: The path from science to religion Fr Roger Nesbitt WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 16th Jesus Christ: source and summit of all creation Fr Hugh MacKenzie Mass 6.30pm Light refreshments Talk starts 7.30pm Questions, more refreshments, social time Here are directions to the Church

Raising questions about award to Gates Foundation

Matt Hanley has an intelligent and balanced article at, critical of the granting of the Lasker award for Public Health Service to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. ( The gates open to a Nobel Prize ) Essentially, the work of the Gates Foundation, some of which is of great benefit, is marred by their dogged adherence to the promotion of "reproductive health" with "family planning" as the number one priority. Hanley suggests that it is this underlying impulse that is being rewarded as much as the good works.

Ven Fr Felix Cappello's confessional

The confessional pictured above is the one used by Fr Felix Cappello whose excellent canonical and theological manual on the Sacraments is a goldmine of sensible information. Fr Cappello's cause has been introduced and Edward Peters has suggested invoking his prayers for the recovery of his son, Thomas Peters who was seriously injured in a swimming accident. (A dedicated blog has been set up by Thomas's friends so that you can follow his progress.) On the question of confession, do have a look at Fr Z's 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession and some additional comments that I added.

CD 24 "Shopping list" Confession

I have often heard priests say that we should not bring a “shopping list” to confession. I find it difficult to explain my personal life. Is it all right for me simply to list my sins? The sacrament of reconciliation was instituted by Christ so that we could be reconciled to God and to the Church by receiving absolution and penance from the priest who ministers the forgiveness of God. The “confession” part is necessary first of all in order that the priest can make the judgements necessary to advise us, clarify any matters of conscience as necessary, help us to be truly contrite, and ask us to do a suitable penance. We must explain the circumstances associated with a particular sin if they affect the gravity of a serious sin (for example if a lie has gravely damaged someone else’s reputation). In addition, we may wish to talk about the way that we are trying to lead a prayerful life, or to mention some difficulty or crisis we have encountered, which forms a context for a sin that we

Sex-selective abortion - a couple of things you can do

In February 2012, the Daily Telegraph reported on an undercover operation , by their journalists who clandestinely filmed doctors who agreed to carry out abortions simply on the grounds that the baby was female. The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute the doctors. Clearly this is a disgrace. There needs to be a good response from the public indicating that such a prosecution would certainly be in their interest, since there is some hope that the decision might be reviewed. As a small part of this, there is a Facebook page " An investigation into sex-selective abortion is in the public interest " If you use Facebook, do take a moment to pop over and "Like" this page. You will find there also some guidance on writing to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

Dumb and dumber - or malicious?

Fr Ray Blake wrote a characteristically thoughtful and provocative post about the poor  who turn up on his doorstep in Brighton. His article challenges romantic notions about the poor by detailing some of his experiences of the reality of helping poor people - which he does with heroism. He has to cope with lies, nuisance and mess, but his point he makes is that rather than become complacent, we must let the poor mess up our lives. Enter Bill Gardner, journalist for The Argus in Brighton who writes a stupid article  portraying Fr Blake as though he were simply attacking the poor. Fr Blake has replied  in spirited fashion, inviting Mr Gardner to come and help with one or other of the projects that St Mary Magdalen's runs for the poor. (See, for example his thoughtful article on Soup Runs .) The Daily Mail has also run  another stupid article  in the same vein as Bill Gardner. I don't agree with those who denigrate all journalists in response to this kind of thing. Many jo

Is the priest "burdened" by people's sins and lonely?

The ever-readable Simcha Fisher has an article:  Should We Burden Priests with Our Sins?  A commenter suggested that lay people shouldn't "burden" priests with frequent confession. Here is a bit of background: "You might want to give the priests a break," she said. “Instead of dumping your ‘sins’ on them, why don’t you offer them some comfort?” From the conversation that followed, it soon became pretty obvious that she was perhaps less concerned about poor, overworked priests, and more concerned about reminding everybody that the Church is corrupt, oppressive, homophobic, etc. etc. Simcha Fisher refers to an article by Fr Mike Schmitz  My side of the confessional  which says pretty well all I would want to say. When people say to me that it must be terribly depressing listening to all those sins, I reply that in the confessional, the priest is listening to good people trying to be better. An in response to the "What if ...?" questions, you hav

Well yes, let's fast and pray for Syria

Last Sunday, the Holy Father appealed for peace in Syria and announced a day of prayer and fasting this coming Saturday 7 September, for this intention. has the full text . There will be a vigil in Rome from 7pm. The Holy Father has renewed this appeal today. Unfortunately, most parishes will only be able to respond in a limited way, since we usually put out newsletters and give notices on a Sunday - prepared at least a day or two beforehand. It is a pity that some sort of notice was not given out by the Sala Stampa , even if it just announced that the Holy Father was going to make an announcement. The UK Parliament had already met on Thursday and the matter was well in the news by then. My own Archdiocese of Southwark responded quite quickly to the Holy Father's call, with an email from the Archbishop being sent round with permission to celebrate the Mass "For the Preservation of Peace and Justice" to replace the Sunday texts on Saturday evening and/or at

Persecution of homeschoolers in Germany

In 1937, Adolf Hitler said: "The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing." (Source: The Nitzkor Project ) The other day, A team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed the home of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they refused to send their children to state schools. (See for example the Daily Mail report: Armed police turn up at family home with a battering ram to seize their children after they defy Germany's ban on home schooling ) It is not quite true to say that Hitler introduced the German ban o

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