Friday, April 27, 2007

Another MTAS fiasco

It appears there has been a security breach in the confidential information of medical student applicants in the MTAS system this year. That means me.

If any of you readers accessed my personal details, please can you get in touch with me before you unexpectedly pop round my house for tea. Just to give me an idea of numbers.

Exam Time!!

Next week I have exams for my final placements of the year, and the medicine course as a whole! Although I still have a professional development programme to follow, and a re-sit in June, THE END IS IN SIGHT!!! In fact, I recently found out that despite the MTAS fiasco, I've got a job secured for August at a nearby District General Hospital. Hurray!

So posting will be thin on the ground until 4th May. But rest assured, I have many exciting things to write about, including two Pugin Cathedrals, the ornate chapel of the Birmingham Children's Hospital, and the architecture of old Birmingham. Not forgetting a parenting update, and maybe even some contribution from my wonderful wife (who also has some interesting things up her sleeve)! So watch this space!!

A recent picture of Madeleine to wet your appetite!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More on the Rosary...

My last post prompted a few comments and questions. Since my posting has been thin on the ground lately, I just wanted to publish an email I took some time over:
You're absolutely right [that it's odd to have a 15 decade rosary]! I usually make normal rosarys with 5 decades. These are the ones everyone has, and the ones you can buy.
However, there are traditionally 3 sets of mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious, not counting JPII's new 'luminous' mysteries). Each time you say a rosary (5 decades) you meditate on one set of mysteries. Traditionally this has been dependent on the day of the week:
Monday: Joyful Mysteries
Tuesday: Sorrowful
Wednesday: Glorious
Thursday: Joyful
Friday: Sorrowful
Saturday: Glorious
Sunday: depends on season (Joyful in Advent and Christmastide; Sorrowful in Lent; Glorious for the rest of the time.
So basically, if you said ALL the mysteries together, all at once (as is sometimes done on rosary processions, eg the Oratory's May procession) then you would be saying the Rosary 3 times over. The Rosary I constructed reflects this: it is simply 3 rosaries stuck together! It would be unlikely anyone would use it, but it is popular to hang these huge '150 Hail Mary' rosaries on statues of Our Lady in churches. Our Lady gave this devotion to St. Dominic, in its entirety. So for me it symbolises the complete Rosary.
The extra beads hanging down to the crucifix are for opening the devotion. They are for the intention of the Pope and help fulfil the conditions of an "indulgence" (which requires confession and holy communion on the same day") to open up for you the maximum Grace from the treasury of the Church.
I also produce little hand rosarys, with one decade. It matters relatively little what you use: you could even use the 10 fingers on your hand! But a blessed set of Rosary beads is very special; a sacred weapon against Satan.
Another back story: The practice of praying 150 Prayers dates back to ancient monasteries, where less learned monks were unable to pray the Latin Psalms (the "psalter of David" in the bible). Instead, with the community, they would pray an 'Our Father' or perhaps 'Hail Mary' for each psalm recited, using 150 knots on their waist rope, and thus keep track of where the community was in their prayer.
hope that helps you. The simple message is pray the rosary every day if you can: it is a fantastic prayer with divine precedence: It was given to us by Our Lady and she has repeatedly told us to pray it. It works miracles!
For more on the Rosary see the excellent resource at Fish Eaters.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Remembrance Rosary

I have finally completed my masterpiece Rosary. Comprised of a full 15 decades, I constructed it in special remembrance of my late brother, Damian Coghlan, who died of Eisenmenger's syndrome (a lifelong congenital heart defect) nearly 10 years ago.

It is intended to be displayed over a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, hopefully somewhere in Oxford (maybe even the Oratory?!)

As you can see from the pictures, it features a gold coloured Benedictine Crucifix and 'Miraculous Medal' centre piece. The links are also brass plated (in actual fact made from paper clips). The beads are made of olive wood from the Holy Land, with each Hail Mary bead being 10mm diameter. The Our Father beads are 12mm diameter, with special carved ones to delineate the separate mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious).

The round brass medal features carving on one side "+ Requiescant in Pace" and on the reverse, "1-2-77 Damian Coghlan 16-10-97"

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Maddy video

Here is a video from my mobile phone of Maddy waking up from a nap in her Moses basket; 1 month old (26th February)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Brother Luke

"Hello again Humans. I have noticed, amongst my fan-mail, several requests for more input to this blog from my expertise and wisdom. Well, you must understand, that as an incredibly cultured and learned cat, I have a very busy schedule. I have to fit in, several times each day, meals; snacks; washes; grooms; walks in the garden; naps; play-time; security patrols; rolling in dust; litter-tray time; claw-sharpening (preferably on expensive furniture); time with my brother Bertie; sniffing Maddy... the list goes on. So how to fit in such a mundane chore as blogging is quite beyond me.

"Anyway, in the interest of world domination, I thought it better that I keep up the popular profile. Since I last wrote there were a lot of visitors to inspect the new rugrat (otherwise known as Madeleine). I have now realised that this is not, in fact, a rare breed of hamster. How have I come to this conclusion? Simple - She does not run about in a ball, eat hamster food, or sleep in the Rotastak castle.

"On the subject of hamsters, Bertie and I have been getting on fine (despite what everyone else, including said hamster, will tell you). I eagerly anticipate my visiting rights to soon be unrestricted in this regard. Oh, yes - the other day the humans/slaves moved his Rotastak castle to a different location (the spare room). Something to do with a leaking toilet (nothing to do with me). I was panic-stricken searching all over the house; who was going to help him with his rage problem now? I have made a lot of ground getting him to 'open up' and 'express his anger' which has seemed to work a treat. Perhaps the next stage of his rehabilitation will be to air his views on this domain.

"I have to go now - its fish on a Friday and I have to check out the situation in the kitchen (Granny has even brought some prawns around today. For me, of course). This last picture is of myself before Madeleine was baptised. I have no need for such sacraments, being perfect myself. I am partial to drinking from the holy water stoop, though.

"Anyway, this is all very nice. But at what point did you forget I'M TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Triduum photos

Some photos I couldn't resist sharing (from 6/7th April 2007):

The Tenebrae hearse of unbleached candles, extinuished on the morning of Good Friday to symbolise the departing from Jesus of his disciples.

The blessing of the new fire on Holy Saturday as we usher in the light of Christ at the Easter Vigil;

A darkened sanctuary awaits the light of the paschal candle, to illuminate the word of God with the light of Christ, and the intonement of the Gloria:

At this point the servers rang the bells as loud as possible! Then the choir continued the Gloria whilst the servers ran around the church unveiling the statues, and the whole place was stunningly illuminated!

The blessing of the Font, after a procession with the paschal candle from the sanctuary to the back of church whilst we sung the litany of the Saints.

A candidate for confirmation is anointed by Fr. Paul Chavasse and received into the Church. She chose the name Mary.

It was wonderful to experience the glory of a well orchestrated Paschal Triduum! My thanks to the Oratory Fathers and all who helped make it such a beautiful manifestation of our Faith.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happy Birthday Benedict!

Let us rejoice and be glad that it is the Holy Father's 80th Birthday today! What a symbol of contradiction for the world that one who has amassed so many years, is leading the Church in the most important job in the world! He wanted to retire to his reading, playing piano, and talking to cats... but our Lord had other plans for him! O Faithful servant of God, I am your faithful servant, and pray for your continued strength and wisdom every day of your papacy. May history look back and declare you De Gloria Oliviae!

I have just been to a 12.15 Mass at St. Chad's Cathedral, and learned from the Dean there that James Joseph McGuinness, retired Bishop of Nottingham, died 11 days ago, on Good Friday. His funeral was today at the Nottingham Cathedral of St. Barnabus, which is why Vincent Nichols was unable to say our Mass today.

Bishop McGuinness was Bishop of Nottingham from 1974 till 2000 (when he was succeeded by the wonderful Malcolm McMahon) and conferred on me the Sacrament of Confirmation at Ratcliffe College when I was 15. The Bishop's Conference website has this to say about him:

He will be remembered as a zealous pastor who was enthusiastic for his young people, and who was on first-name terms with many people of all ages throughout his far-flung diocese.

Bishop McGuinness lived frugally and selflessly. He gave witness with his life to the self-sacrifice that the Church demands of its priests and bishops. It was fitting, therefore, that he should go to his Lord in the afternoon of Good Friday

Please pray for his soul.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Back from Retreat

We have all been away on a fabulous family retreat this weekend. It was organised by St. Catherine's Trust for traditional Catholic education, and took place in Ardingly College, West Sussex. It was a superb venue, and we had exclusive use of the attractive chapel there. The actual school reminded me a lot of my own, Ratcliffe College, although this one was of "Anglo-catholic" tradition. It was refreshing, therefore, that the original chapel remained intact; although sad to not have confessionals, holy water stoops or the like in use.

The retreat giver was Fr. Andrew Southwell, who clearly demonstrated an inspiring knowledge of the Faith, and encouraged us all to practice it with new vigour, especially in the areas of prayer and spiritual reading. His talks centred around the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, drawing out all manner of intricacies and meditations. I was particularly impressed with his apparent unwillingness to be drawn into common 'traditionalist' debates when the Q&A sessions came around. It was very clear to me that he wanted to encourage a traditional practice of Catholic virtues, rather than stew on cynical polemics. I feel quite strongly compelled to follow this example.

Each day we had a sung Mass with full ceremonies, including a dedicated team of altar servers (young and old alike) and a small liturgical schola led by Dr. John Tennant. We also had sung Compline each night, and had sung Vespers and Benediction on Saturday evening. It was a wonderful opportunity to see lots of Catholic families come together (many of considerable size!) and glean important insights into raising children in the Faith. Many of the families were from St. Bede's church in Clapham Park, where the parents seem to have formed a homeschooling network. Very exciting stuff. And judging by the politeness and integrity of the children we met at the Retreat, it seems to be working very well!

I would love to go on all day, but hope these pictures will leave you with a good impression of our time there. Deo Gratias!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Couple's Life in Christ

day we decided, most unusually, to look at the office of readings on Universalis. I say this because our breviary is only morning, evening and night prayer. This is my favourite bit of the bible. It charts our lives together: when we first met, as a married couple and the future vocation of bearing witness to Christ. 1 Peter 3:1-17 (below is the Douay-Rheims translation)

1 In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands: that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word, by the conversation of the wives. 2 Considering your chaste conversation with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: 4 But the hidden man of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit, which is rich in the sight of God. 5 For after this manner heretofore the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:
6 As Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, doing well, and not fearing any disturbance. 7 Ye husbands, likewise dwelling with them according to knowledge, giving honour to the female as to the weaker vessel, and as to the co-heirs of the grace of life: that your prayers be not hindered. 8 And in fine, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, being lovers of the brotherhood, merciful, modest, humble: 9 Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.
11 Let him decline from evil, and do good: let him seek after peace and pursue it: 12 Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers: but the countenance of the Lord upon them that do evil things. 13 And who is he that can hurt you, if you be zealous of good? 14 But if also you suffer any thing for justice' sake, blessed are ye. And be not afraid of their fear, and be not troubled. 15 But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts, being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.
16 But with modesty and fear, having a good conscience: that whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 17 For it is better doing well (if such be the will of God) to suffer, than doing ill.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Newman's Gravesite

Today we had the welcome visit of some friends met solely through blogging! The world renowned Joee Blogs (Catholic Londoner) came fresh from a Triduum retreat on an isolated monastic island, to be with us today for special prayers at the graveside of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.

With him he brought Fr. Richard Scott of Coventry, who provided spiritual direction to our complicated theological discussions.

After a nourishing garden lunch (courtesy of my wonderful wife), we all made our way to Oratory House in Rednal. It is the Birmingham Oratorian's retreat house, and site of their final resting place. Newman's funeral procession from the Oratory Church down to Rednal was lined with thousands of members of the public, all deeply moved by his great life. We pray constantly that Newman will soon be beatified, and so this site will have even more significance.

Today, as on many other occasions, we had Mass, Exposition, and even a Eucharistic procession around the grounds. The special intention was for protection from the plague of vandals which has previously left the Oratory House in a dilapidated state. Fortunately Fr. Guy Nichols is leading a project of restoration. The results are clearly evident from these wonderful photos.

Please pray for the continued heavenly protection of this important Catholic heritage.

Blessing of Husband & Wife

Yesterday we were privileged to be able to share the celebration of silver jubilee with a couple from Church. As they were very much attached to the traditional rites of the Church, they took advantage of a traditional Latin Mass with a special blessing at the end. After communion we were treated to a rendition of Panis Angelicus by the family, which was sung beautifully and quite unexpectedly as I welcomed my divine guest under the appearance of humble bread.

After the Last Gospel, the Priest lay his maniple aside, and faced the happy couple as they knelt before the sanctuary in St. Philips Chapel. He then recited over them certain prayers. These began with Psalm 127 (Here follows the English translations):
Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: * that walk in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labours of thy hands: * blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife as a fruitful vine, * on the sides of thy house.
Thy children as olive plants, * round thy table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed * that feareth the Lord.
May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: * and mayest thou see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
And mayest thou see thy children's children: * peace upon Israel.
Glory be etc.
The following prayer was beautiful:
O Lord, behold these Thy faithful ones and stretch out towards them the right hand of Thy heavenly help. So may they seek Thee with all heart, and, having prayed rightly, be found worthy to have their prayers granted.
Almighty and everlasting God, these Thy servants have come with gladness to Thy holy temple to render Thee thanks. In Thee is all their trust. Graciously look down upon them and hear our prayer. May they receive the gifts of Thy grace. May they hold fast to charity in unity. And when this life's journey is ended, may they, and their children with them, be found worthy to attain the joys of everlasting bliss. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We then sang a Te Deum before a closing prayer and sprinkling with Holy Water. I hope, in 22 years time, to be following this same rite with a grateful heart.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Spring Bluebells

Cursed is the earth in thy work... Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to Thee.
Genesis 3:17-18

Ego dedi tibi sceptrum regále: et tu dedísti cápiti meo spineam corónam.

I gave thee a royal sceptre: and thou hast given to My head a crown of thorns.

From The Reproaches - Good Friday Liturgy

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Urbi et Orbi Blessing

Is Maddy too young to receive the indulgence? Well, since she's Baptised and incapable of actual sin, she is in no need of such treasures (although her parents are)!! But she did, of course, appreciate the sight and blessing of the Holy Father. She just loves Papa Benedetto!

Resurrexit Sicut Dixit!

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

I feel full of life and vitality after a solemn and gruelling passiontide. There has been many things I have been itching to write; this Blog actually replaces a personal diary I have written almost constantly since 1993. So it's been strange not to record my thoughts and musings over this crucial time in my spiritual year.

Also it has been such a good thing not to have blogged. I have desperately needed space and distance from obligations to anything outside of my family and vocation of father and husband. It has been wonderful to enjoy life without thinking "ooh, I must blog about this!". So I am resisting the temptation to write retrospectively about the last couple of weeks, but will simply pick up where I have left off.

Thank you, faithful readers, for all your support and comments which were gratefully received after my abrupt blogging hibernation. Having had a certain amount of success on the blogging circuit, I had begun to be arrogant and impulsive about the content of Lacrimarum Valle, without calling to mind the apostolate nature of this exercise. In a way I have a responsibility as Catholic father to present this vocation in its glory, as an inspiration to finding out more about the Faith. Little Madeleine is the true star of the show; she's the fulfillment of marital love and a symbol of the future of the Church. As a child dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, she has the tender prayers of the Mother of Humanity, and our responsibility is to help her realise this blessing.

This afternoon's Tridentine Mass in the Birmingham Oratory's Cloister Chapel

I look forward to sharing my spiritual reflections with you over this Eastertide.

Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the Spirit of Thy love, that by Thy loving kindness Thou mayest make to be of one mind, those whom Thou hast fed with these paschal sacraments. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.