Thursday, March 29, 2007

Via Crucis Concluded

As Holy Week approaches, I have completed the Via Crucis meditation, which takes us through the Stations of the Cross with the music of Franz Liszt.

The Stations of the Cross is such a venerable custom that all churches will have their own representations around the walls of the nave. At the Oratory, we have stations recited publically by one of the Fathers on Fridays, which is a wonderful gift during Lent.

I hope that these stations I have compiled will help you appreciate Franz Liszt's work, and to derive the special graces which such a meditation entails.

To continue from Station XIII (taking down Jesus from the Cross) go here. To start the Stations from the beginning, go here, or to my Introduction.

The image of the Pieta, which features in my final credits slide (Michaelangelo) is a wonderful meditation in itself. The hymn usually sung during the Stations of the Cross, Stabat Mater, accompanies this slide in plainchant and is a beautiful Lenten hymn. Here follows the English translation suitable for singing:

At the cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
all his bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword had passed.

Oh how sad and sore distressed
was that mother highly blessed,
of the sole-begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs;
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation
saw Him hang in desolation,
all with bloody scourges rent.

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender child,
till His Spirit forth he sent.

O, thou Mother, fount of love,
touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou has felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ our Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through;
in my heart each wound renew
of my Saviour crucified.

Let met share with thee his pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him Who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live.

By the cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
this I ask of thee to give.

Virgin, of all virgins blest,
O refuse not my request:
let me in thy weeping share

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with his every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned
in His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in that awful judgment day.

Christ, when thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy mother my defense,
be Thy cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Holy Week at the Oratory

The Oratory, Hagley Road (A456) accessible via Monument Rd / Plough & Harrow Rd
Birmingham B16 8UE
PALM SUNDAY - 1st April

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O'er captive death and conquered sin.
(Henry Hart Milman)

Low Masses: 8.30am, 12 noon (families), 12.45pm (Tridentine, cloister chapel), 5.30pm (sung congregational)

Blessing and Procession of Palms: 10am in the former College Sports Hall
Procession to the Church for High Mass: 10.30am
Including the singing of the Passion of Our Lord according to Luke

Vespers and Benediction: 7.30pm

Holy Mass: 7.30am, 12.45pm & 5.45pm
Rosary: 7.45pm
Stations of the Cross: 8pm



Where is love and loving-kindness, God is fain to dwell.
Therefore, when we meet, the flock of Christ, so loving,
Take we heed lest bitterness be there engendered;
All our spiteful thoughts and quarrels be surrendered,
Seeing Christ is there, divine among us moving.
(ancient hymn for the "Maundy"
translated by Mgr. Ronald Knox)

Solemn Mass of the Last Supper: 7pm

including the Maundy, the Procession to the Altar of Repose, and the stripping of the Altars.
Compline at 8.45pm at the Altar of Repose (Chapel of St. Philip Neri)
Watching before the Blessed Sacrament until midnight.

GOOD FRIDAY - 6th April
(Day of Fasting & Abstinence. n.b. Mass is not celebrated on this day)

In Thy most bitter Passion
my heart to share doth cry.
With Thee for my salvation
upon the cross to die.
Ah! Keep my heart thus movéd
to stand Thy cross beneath,
To mourn Thee, well-belovéd,
yet thank Thee for Thy death
(14th C, Salve caput cruentatum
translated by Robert Bridges)

Tenebrae (office of readings and morning prayer): 8.30am
(N.B. Abortion walk of witness to follow)

Children's Stations of the Cross: 11.30am

Solemn Liturgy: 3pm

Including the singing of St. John's Passion; the solemn intercessions; the Unveiling and Worship of the Cross; Holy Communion

Seven Last Words: 7pm
Preacher: Fr. Dermot Fenlon
Music: Motets and Organ music for the Passion of Our Lord
followed by Stations of the Cross

n.b. Mass is not celebrated today

His Cross stands empty in a world grown silent
Through hours of anguish and of dread;
In stillness, earth awaits the resurrection,
While Christ goes down to wake the dead
He summons Adam and his generations,
Brings light where darkness endless seemed;
He frees and claims His own, so long held captive,
Who, with the living, are redeemed
(Standbrook Abbey)

Tenebrae: 8.30am

Confessions will be heard from 10am throughout the day.

The Church waits in silence for the proclamation of the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil.

Easter Vigil: 9.00pm
(saturday evening 7th April)


Service of light
(Blessing of the New Fire)
Proclamation of Easter ("Exsultet")
Liturgy of the Word;
Blessing of the Font and Confirmation
First Mass of Easter

- 8th April

Hail victor Christ! Hail, risen king
To Thee alone belongs the crown,
who hast the heavenly gates unbarred,
And cast the Prince of darkness down
(from the 7th C hymn "Ad regias Agni dapes"
translated by Fr Edward Caswell Cong Orat)

Low Masses: 8.30am, 12 noon (families), 12.45pm (Tridentine, Cloister Chapel), 5.30pm (congregational)

Solemn High Mass: 10.30am
Solemn Vespers & Benediction: 7.30pm

The Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory wish you a very Holy and Joyful Easter!


Veiled in secrecy
Till their coming triumphant
Mourning their loss
But awaiting our reunion in joyful hope
O Cross! O Mother! O Saints!
How we long for your tender gaze!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Via Crucis...

The next instalment of the Via Crucis meditation is ready, in advance for tomorrow. This Friday, it will show the final stages of Jesus' earthly life: being stripped of his bloody garments, nailed to the cross, and finally hung disgraced before dying an agonising death.

His death (Station XII) is the longest piece of music Franz Liszt wrote for Via Crucis, at 9:20 minutes. This is but a short time to contemplate the last words of Our Saviour, and his departure to complete the ultimate sacrifice in atonement for the sins of all mankind. What can we do but utter; "Dominus meus, et Deus meus!" those simple words of adoration received from St. Thomas the apostle: "My Lord and my God!" (See St. John's Gospel Chapter 20, verse 28)

Thus we do so at Mass. At the moment of consecration, the sacred host is elevated and we similarly adore Jesus. The chalice is then elevated likewise, to sacramentally show the separation of Jesus' body and blood. This sacrifice began the night he was betrayed by his disciple Judas. The Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Mass, was instituted by Jesus - not only at the Last Supper when he gave His New Priesthood the sacred words to imitate - but also with his subsequent suffering and death. It is all the Mass, one whole complete sacrificial action, made present for us here as a foretaste of His heavenly glory.

To continue from the 10th Station (Jesus is Stripped of His Garments) go here.
To begin the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) from the beginning, go here.
My introduction to Via Crucis may also help you out...

Monday, March 19, 2007


I have decided that due to recent controversy and faults on my part, I will take an official retreat from Blogging till Easter (save for the continuation of Via Crucis on Fridays). This will give me an opportunity to concentrate on things unreservedly. After Easter I will decide whether I will continue blogging in the same way. I ask for your prayers during this Lenten time, and wish you all the best for a blessed paschaltide.

St. Joseph, protect our home. Pour forth from heaven blessings on our family. Remain in our midst. Help us to live in love and harmony, in peace and joy. May the wholesome fear of God strengthen us that virtue may adorn what we do and our way may lead to heaven.

To you this day I give the key to our dwelling place. Lock out all things that could do us harm. Lock my home and my loved ones with me in the hearts of Jesus and Mary. This I beg of you, that our days may be like your days in the holy home at Nazareth. Amen.

Happy St. Joseph's Day!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lacrimarum Valle in Deutschland

I enjoy looking at referrals on the Sitemeter feature. I love seeing how people find this blog, especially so I can network with other bloggers. I stumbled across a German Blog: Credo Ut Intelligam! Having not paid a great deal of attention to my Year 8 German class, I used the help of Google Translator to understand what this great nation is saying about me. Here it is, verbatim:
Lacrimarum Valle made itself on the search for the biographic anchorage of the “master of the rings” in the life J.R.R. Tolkiens. After a suggestion for Rohan and the old person forest he presents now two towers, which lay on Tolkiens way to the service in the Oratorium of Birmingham.
Fantastic! The above must be read with a German accent. Hurrah for the universal Body of Christ and for the universal language of Latin (which Google Translator can't currently help us with!)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

School with Pugin and Rosmini

When I was glancing down my labels list, I was disappointed to see that I have only written one post on Pugin. The plan, after seeing his masterpiece in Cheadle, was to visit and report on more places in the Midlands designed by Pugin. I already have St. Chad's Cathedral in mind, which is the mother Church of our Birmingham Archdiocese and the first Catholic Cathedral to be built in this country following the reformation. To wet your appetite, here is the sanctuary:

Astute readers will note there used to be a Pugin rood screen there. I will write much more soon. My current medical placement is very close to the Cathedral, so I am blessed at lunchtimes to be able to pray there and occasionally attend their 12.15 Mass. I will take some more pictures in due course, and hopefully visit the crypt for the first time.

As a stop-gap I want to mention one other Pugin building which has been an inspiration for me: Ratcliffe College Independant Catholic School in Leicestershire.

It is here where I spent my formative years as a weekly boarder, and was confirmed in 1996 (if I remember correctly). It is a religious building founded by the Rosminian Order, originally in 1845 as a seminary. In 1847 it became a private school. While I was there we celebrated its 150th anniversary and I was thurifer at a High Latin Mass celebrated by Cardinal Basil Hume.

One aspect which will always remain unknown to me is Pugin's original Chapel. It is still possible to see the great rose window (although not in these pictures - it is at the back of the school). This part of the building has since been converted into a two-story school block. When I was there it was used as a history department, and a R.S. room (complete with altar!) with lots of stories of ghosts abounding.

The new Church is Byzantine-style, and what I think to be rather attractive. It is able to accommodate all 750 pupils for school assemblies. Not really in keeping with Pugin's original architecture, but still.

One of my ancestors has his name engraved on the World War memorial behind the sanctuary (H.W. Coghlan, died during the First World War). Another of my ancestors, Col. Charles Coghlan, wrote the musical accompaniment to the "Old Boys Song" (words by Rev G. Burton, D.D.) which I shall hasten to sing (actually, say):
1. Once more in Alma Maters bowers we meet to crown another year.
And ev'ry sight recalls the hours when we were laughing youngsters here
The pranks we played the jokes that flew
The mirth that bubbled in the brain;
and gazing on the picture, few but wish they could be lads again.

Chorus: Then come all ye boys of Ratcliffe, raise the brimming bowl and let your song, both loud and strong under the rafters roll Then here's to the wolds and woodlands and the wreake that by them runs And the heath that's dear to all hearts here old Ratcliffe and her sons.

2. Again we breathe the cloisters peace old voices echo in the hall.

And batsman poses on the crease the crashing elm receives the ball
Now for a dip in sultry June
Within the islet cool we stand
or lounge a lazy afternoon beside the millstream rod in hand. &C.

3. That bell within its lofty perch that summon'd us to work or play,
That bade us to our place in church, rings out again our holiday
Oh, could it toll above the noise that murmurs over land and sea
And gather here all Ratcliffe boys, what mercy greetings would there be! &C.

4. Now some have made their homes afar and some are laid within the loan,
And of so many few there are who meet in this their boy-hood's home
Yet here their hearts are still entwined like ivy round an aged stem
And we will keep them all in mind, and pledge a cup for us and them! &C.
Although I have some bitter memories from my time there, reading this song (which I hasten to add is probably no longer sung) brings a tear to my eye and the overriding happy memories to mind! If any of my old school mates are reading this, I join my affections with you in offering up prayers to Our Lady.

There is also an initiative to beatify Antonio Rosmini, a prominent 19th century Catholic philosopher. He founded the Institute of Charity (the Rosminians) and ordered the foundation of Ratcliffe College. He is a particularly controversial figure in light of two of his books which were placed on the Church's Index of Forbidden Books in 1849 (The Five Wounds of the Church and The Constitution of Social Justice). These have since been reconciled with Church teaching since the Second Vatican Council, whose themes were in many ways prefigured by Rosmini. In 2001 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger signed a declaration which applied a historical-critical method to the Church's magesterium and reversed the Holy Office's condemnation of 40 propositions in 1887. My feelings on this are currently neutral, and I shall attempt to find out more in due course from some of my Rosminian friends. Still, I pray for his beatification along with Newman's. He was declared Venerable on 26th June 2006.

O my God, O incarnate Word, may your Spirit be the cause of all my activities, of all that I do; may nothing in me come from myself, but everything from you.
- Venerable Antonio Rosmini Serbati (1797-1855)

Before I stray too far off-topic, here is one last picture I have of a Pugin building. No prizes for guessing which one this is:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Caption Competition

I thought I would have a go at my own caption competition. I have a few good ideas, and they all revolve around my daughter (it seems I'm milking her for maximum entertainment, doesn't it?)!

So here goes:
I look forward to seeing some of your suggestions for this odd scenario.

Via Crucis Continued...

I have published the next 3 stations of my Via Crucis presentation. This next three features Jesus falling twice. To imagine such weight and suffering would draw us to the conclusion that Jesus fell many more times, but for the purpose of the Stations of the Cross, we meditate upon a total of only 3 falls, and draw comfort in Christ's suffering as we recall the countless times we fall again and again into sin.

Jesus is prepared to take on all that suffering to spare us eternal separation from God, if only we would come to Him in Confession to be cleansed and reconciled to His Sacred Heart.

To continue the journey from the 7th Station, go here.

Or to begin the Stations afresh, go here (or see my introduction).

N.B. At the time of writing there were some connection errors with (where my flash files are hosted) which meant the first 4 slides (up to station III) won't load. But hopefully this will resolve itself soon.

What do you think of Sacramentum Caritatis?

Did you manage to read the whole of Sacramentum Caritatis? What did you think??

Or go to my sidebar, where I have decided to make a permanent feature of a poll after the success of the previous poll.

I do hope people aren't voting more than once!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sexual Orientation Regulations

The following document was available at the back of church this weekend, courtesy of His Grace the Archbishop of Birmingham, Vincent Nichols. I believe it is a letter to all priests in the diocese:
Dear Father,


These regulations are about to be published. Only a very limited Parliamentary debate is being permitted. This will take place in the next few weeks. The Regulations come into force shortly afterwards. Now is the time to write to Members of Parliament, drawing attention to important underlying issues. Even though these Regulations cannot now be changed, these issues are of long-term consequence and MPs ought to be left in no doubt as to our views.

I would suggest that two key points are made:

1. In Defence of the Family:

These regulations impose on all involved in the work of publicly funded services the duty of making no distinction between a heterosexual couple and a same-sex partnership. They impose the view that in considering the good of the child no preference may be given to the benefit to the child of having a mother and a father as adoptive parents. We do not believe that this new principle of equivalence can be in the best interests of the child. This undermining of the family has far wider implications for the well-being of our society.

2. The Work of the Church in the Voluntary Sector:
The Regulations raise serious questions about future cooperation between public authorities and the Voluntary sector, in particular Christian Churches and their charities. The approach put forward in these Regulations reduces those who work in partnership with public bodies to being no more than agents of Government policy. This threatens to undermine a long tradition of public authorities and the Voluntary sector working together in mutual respect. It is unacceptable that such cooperation, which is of clear benefit, be jeopardised in this manner.

I ask you to urge your people to write to their MPs.

Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Birmingham

Name and address of MP:
House of Commons
London SW 1A OAA

To read more about the Archbishop's statement, click here. The above picture is of a statue "compassion" outside Selly Oak Hospital Outpatients Department in Birmingham. It is two naked men, and obviously not how I will practice medicine, so I thought it appropriate to illustrate some of these themes! (yes, I have finally been driven mad by political correctness)

Friday, March 09, 2007

A Prophecy...

This is just too funny to keep to myself... One of Joel Cole's friends has emailed around one of his 'prophecies' or 'visions of the future' relating to the Brompton Oratory. This, I believe, was something he initially published on Facebook (something I have yet to flirt with).

What are the chances of this prophecy coming to pass? Probably quite likely, should the fabled Motu Proprio ever materialise to give extra incentive... We at the Oratory in Birmingham, on the other hand, do not even have the word 'Tridentine' written on our church board once (despite having a secret little Old Mass in the 'upper room')!

As the ultra-trad apologist pointed out in his commentary to this prophecy, "Still a bit liberal (evening mass)"!

Next installment of Via Crucis

I have added the next three stations of the Via Crucis slideshow for your Lenten meditation. This begins with my favourite Station, Jesus meets His afflicted Mother.

To begin from the beginning, click here, or see my introduction to this Lenten journey.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


I was going to blog tonight properly, but alas I was snowed under with work and even took the opportunity to help fellow Medic Joee Blogs with a medicine essay on Hyponatraemia. Its all quite dull and boring, but very important for medics. So I've spent the last 2 hours doing that via an emailed copy and Word's excellent comments/markup! Still, at least it was also useful for me (I am very rusty on clinical chemistry). Here is an extract of said essay just to get your juices flowing!

In response to a decreased plasma volume, the juxtaglomerular cells of the kidney secrete Renin. Renin converts angiotensinogen which is secreted by the liver, to angiotensin I. Angiotensin Converting Enzyme then acts on angiotensin I to form angiotensin II, which in turn stimulates aldosterone synthesis [MD1]. Aldosterone acts mainly in the kidney [MD2]. In the renal tubule the membrane receptor Na+/K+-ATPase and Na+ channels work together to increase volume and pressure, and decrease K+. Aldosterone increases the number and activity of these transporters thus increasing the reabsorption of sodium and secretion of potassium. Water is reabsorbed with the sodium thus reversing the hypovolaemia.

[MD1] You've just said this above! Combine the two paragraphs me thinks...
[MD2] Actually I think it works mainly via vasoconstriction... you may need to check this

Oh look, its copied my comments too! Oh well, it makes for fun reading.

I think I may be going delirious through workload and lack of sleep... One more day of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and I'm onto Paediatrics. Its been a rollercoaster with lots of practice contrary to the Catholic Faith... but you probably won't ever hear me rant about that (I'm just praying about it and having masses offered).

I'm going to bed now. Good night blogosphere.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Are the Gears Finally Moving?

I keep Catholic News Agency as my homepage. Every now and again a news story really catches my eye. Here is such a news story. I have a very special place in my heart for the Year of the Eucharist (2004-2005) which Pope John Paul II initiated, and which saw my full return to the practice of the Faith, my wife's reception into the Church, and the ascension to the Chair of St. Peter by Cardinal Ratzinger, taking the noble title of Pope Benedict XVI. Some of the initiatives that year were really important for my faith in the real presence to grow (such as our Archdiocese's Eucharistic Congress, right).

Upon closure of this special year, there was an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (no, not Anglican synod) which focussed on the things which we have learned from this year of special Graces and the message which needs to be implemented for the Universal Church. The Bishops came up with some excellent suggestions, as I can tell by reading what the Mass of Ages magazine selectively published. Such questions were raised as the reception of communion (the ordinary way of kneeling and on the tongue versus the extraordinary special indult way of standing and in the hand); the orientation of the priest (versus populum having become the norm in the last 40 years when compared with the traditional ad orientem, or facing east, where the priest faces the same direction as the people - towards God); liturgical music (banal 60s durges compared with the sacred polyphony and Gregorian Chant which used to be a basic feature of Catholic liturgy); the erroneous and abused use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (who are lay parishioners who become the 'ordinary' means of distributing communion, generally and incorrectly referred to as 'Eucharistic Ministers'); the noble use of Latin in the Liturgy (encouraged by the II Vatican Council but suppressed by modernistic agendas and liberal priests); the wider celebration of the Tridentine Rite...

Well, I'm hoping and praying that whatever words and recommendations that are published in this Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (even if not what I'd generally thirst for), can be assimilated widely and generously by the whole Church. If successful, then it will undoubtedly pave the way for the 'Reform of the Reform' which Catholics who lean towards a conservative approach to the Liturgy are generally calling for. This will result in Mass said more reverently, worthily, and with deeper devotion and understanding. That, of course, can only be a good thing. The Mass is not meant for the entertainment of the faithful, for comfort or community spirit, or even to foster a sense of "fellowship". The Mass is the re-presentation before us, each time, of the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which took place nearly 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. As such, all our hearts and minds must be orientated towards God, and be meditating ever more deeply on the prayers offered to him, in union with Christ's sacrifice, to incorporate ourselves into this mystery.

My thoughts on the "Reform of the Reform"? Well, for me it is a start and a middle ground. I have no doubt it is the will of the Holy Father to bring about a return to a traditional and reverent approach to the Mass. However, in my opinion the Mass has been re-written and reformed to such an extent that it is deliberately aimed towards trying to rupture with a traditional understanding of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. As such, I think it will be very difficult to tweak things and make all the problems go away. I believe the modern Roman Missal was written to resemble more closely the Protestant services which are so dear to those members on the Liturgical committee back in the late 60s (Brother Rogér et al). I think the typical 60s folk Mass is really the epitomé of what the reform was moving towards. I think, most importantly, it is not a product of Vatican II. If one reads Sacrosanctum Concilium closely, it is clear that it was not the will of the council fathers for the Mass to be re-written and re-crafted in such a drastic way. In fact, I think if a typical modern Mass were performed in front of them, most would have been horrified.

But what has happened has happened. Right? What can we do? And why does it matter? I will leave that to another post, hopefully if the rumoured Motu Proprio comes any closer to fruition. I trust the Holy Father will know the right thing to do, and will pray carefully over the manner in which he will do it. Whatever his decisions, there will inevitably be opposition on all sides, such is the climate of the Church today.

Month of St. Joseph

Blessed be St. Joseph
most holy spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Patron of a Happy Death
Patron of the Universal Church
the Holy Worker
Friend of Poor Souls in Purgatory
and Personal Patron to my own Fatherhood
May he continue to bless us and pray for us at the Throne of his tender Son, who deigned to glorify him with the title of Foster Father of the Word Incarnate. Through his glorious intercession I have received the necessary graces to fulfill my role of loving father to my newborn daughter. I pray that devotion to him may lead to a greater awareness of the importance of fatherhood in our society. Amen.

Thank you to Catholic Church Conservation for providing us all with these wonderful artistic depictions of the role of my favourite Saint, Joseph - the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The photo above is from the Birmingham Oratory's St. Joseph Altar, which features a mosaic above it depicting his betrothal to Mary.

For some wonderful information and material relating to this inspiring figure of Holiness and Devotion to our Lord, go here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Vote Now!

I couldn't resist starting a new Poll. Why? Why not! It's a very boring poll which reflects my passion for liturgical matters...

Vote now on my sidebar, or go here for a direct link to the Poll.
Go here to view the results to date.

(the picture has very little to do with it - but shows Fr. Tim Finigan preaching at the Rosary Crusade 2006 in the magnificent London Oratory. If you like this sort of thing you are unlikely to vote for the first option)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Notre Dame des Victoires

Recently someone commented that I should seek out the original Our Lady of Victories, after which our Birmingham Oratory's Lady Altar statue is fashioned from, in Paris.

I certainly would love to, and was therefore overjoyed to read Fr. Nicholas' account of the beautiful little Parisian church, with links to St. Therese.
The church was completed in 1629 and financed by Louis XIII, who called it 'Our Lady of Victories' in gratitude for his recent victories on the battlefield. It was placed under the care of the Augustinians (or Petits Pères), who won themselves further favour with the King when one Br Fiacre obtained by his prayers to Our Lady, 'Refuge of Sinners' the birth of the long-awaited Dauphin, who would one day reign as Louis XIV. Br Fiacre had been visited by the Blessed Virgin on 3 November 1637 and undertook, on the royal couple's behalf, a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Grace at Cotignac, Provence. On his return, the Queen was discovered to be pregnant.
Exciting stuff! Thank you Father(s)!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Via Crucis Introduction

Journey with me to Calvary. Walk the Way of the Cross, and meditate upon the countless mysteries contained in Christ's sacrificial action.

In 1878 the composer Franz Liszt did just that; using his talent he set his meditations to organ and choir. The result is a beautiful piece of music, which I endeavour to present to you in its true context, using simple artistic representations as well as images from the Mel Gibson film The Passion. I originally compiled this in Microsoft Powerpoint, and have managed to convert it into Flash format (so you'll need a compatible browser to view it). This is only an abridged version due to the difficulty in porting over the complicated text animation in my original version, which displayed the Latin and German text when it was being sung, together with a translation.

I am starting with the first 4 slides, up to Station III. Over lent I will post 3 stations at a time, as a continuation of the Via Crucis, each Friday (leading up to Friday in Passiontide, or the last Friday before Holy Week). I will update you as and when this happens. Enjoy!

Enter >>

St Chad, Bishop and Confessor

St Chad (Latin: Ceadda), Bishop of the Mercians, fixed his Episcopal See at Lichfield. He was for some time a disciple of St Aidan at Lindesfarne, and afterwards joined to St Egbert in Ireland. Returning to England, he was made abbot of Lestingham, near Whitby. He travelled on foot about his diocese, seeking out and instructing the poorest of his flock. He died in 672.

The Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham is dedicated to St Chad, and contains his relics there for veneration, above the High Altar.

The beautiful medieval statue pictured is present in the cathedral against one of the nave pillars. It dates from the mid-16th century although it was modified in the 19th. He is shown with episcopal vestments with crozier, holding a model of Lichfield Cathedral (now in Protestant hands). The oak canopy was designed by Hardman's in 1902 and restored in 2005.

Almighty and everlasting God, who givest us joy by this day's solemnity of blessed Chad, Thy confessor and bishop: we humbly entreat of Thy mercy that we, who with devout celebration venerate his festival, may, by his loving help, obtain the remedies of eternal life. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Missa Cantata for Passion Sunday

Harvington Hall Missa Cantata
Sung Latin Mass at St. Mary's Church, Harvington Hall
(Shrine of St. John Wall and the English Martyrs)

25th March 2007 at 3pm

The Traditional Feast Day of

Passion Sunday

Hear the timeless words:
"Judica me, Deus, et discérne causam meam de gente non sancta"
(Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation)
sung by the wonderful Neri Singers

Celebrant: Fr. David Higham
Choir: The Neri Singers
Courtesy of The Latin Mass Society

Nurse's Prayer

I saw this prayer on the noticeboard in the nurse's station on a pre-labour ward, and couldn't resist sharing this touching moment with you:

O my God, teach me to receive the sick in Thy Name.
Give to my efforts success for the glory of Thy Holy Name.
It is Thy work; without Thee I cannot succeed.
Grant that the sick Thou hast placed in my care
may be abundantly blessed,
and not one of them be lost
because of any neglect on my part.

Help me to overcome every temporal weakness,
and strengthen in me whatever may enable me to bring joy
to the lives of those I serve.
Give me grace, for the sake of Thy sick ones,
and of those lives that will be influenced by them.

There are touching moments like this in many working days, and we must always be grateful for them.

It has been a pleasure to be able to attend a Mass at this Hospital every Monday lunchtime. Wendy has even managed to come and meet me with Maddy for this! What I don't understand is why the priest never wears a chasuble??

The Passion of the Christ DVD

Thank you to TCFA Blog for alerting me to this: At last - Mel Gibson's groundbreaking (and extremely 'Catholic') blockbuster will be released as a 2-disc DVD Definitive Edition. It has been a long time coming, and so I am still pleased that I bought the original release!

Release Date: 26th March 2007
(Feast of the Annunciation - the day after Passion Sunday aka Fifth Sunday of Lent)
RRP: £15.99

The Special Features
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks: (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Menus - Drissi
Feature Film (126 minutes)
Filmmaker Commentary with Mel Gibson, Caleb Deschanel, and John Wright
Production Commentary with Stephen McEveety, Ted Rae and Keith Vanderlaan
Theologian Commentary with Mel Gibson, Father William J. Fulco, Gerry Matatics and Father John Bartunek
Passion Re-Cut (120 minutes)
Music Commentary with John Debney (Selected scenes)

Menus - Drissi
By His Wounds we are Healed:
The Making of the Passion of the Christ
Intro & Script Evolution
Language Barriers
Finding Jerusalem
Artistic Inspiration
The Right Role
Evil Personified
Tailoring a perfect fit
The Director
Grace in Photography
Make up and Visual Effects
The Earthquake
The Crucifixion
Jim Surrerning
Breaking the Tension
Wrapping Production
The Cutting Room
The Score
Designing the Sound Effects
Guerilla Marketing
Spiritual Journey
"Below the Line" Panel
The Legacy
Paths of the Journey
On Language
Anno Domini
Crucifixion: Punishment in the Ancient World
Through the Ages
Deleted Scenes:
Don't Cry
Production Art
Historical Texts
Art Images
Theatrical Trailer

I have pre-ordered my copy from for £11.99! I can't wait! There cannot be a better purchase to make for this year's Passiontide! This film played a huge part in my 'faith journey', and I vividly remember thinking I wanted to be a 'soldier of Christ' and to follow in his footsteps from then on. The glimpses which it gives of Jesus' ministry make one thirsty for more. His glowing eyes and stern compassion are enough to bring me to tears, and more so with the sight of that same figure of authority humbly suffering under the whip and cross.

This looks like a very interesting production. I hope the documentaries portray some of the spirituality which went into making this extraordinary movie. It is also worth remembering that Mel Gibson is a traditionalist Catholic, and had a Tridentine Mass said on-set daily. I'm sure this is no coincidence bearing in mind the quality of the film's sacramental language and emotional content. We must remember that every Mass we go to, we are present at the foot of the Cross in a very real way. So the Passion isn't just a historical film: it is a theological reality.