Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vincent Nichols on Summorum Pontificum

I have known on the grapevine for some time that the Archbishop was attending this wonderful priest's holiday camp... I thought perhaps he was going to learn the old Mass! Perhaps he is! Here is his homily from the event:


For a few moments, now, I would like to reflect with you on the Mystery of Salvation we celebrate in this Mass. I am here as the bishop of the diocese, hence a teacher of the faith and a focus of unity. In offering this reflection I express my thanks to the leadership of this Conference for their cooperation with me in putting this event onto a good footing. This Mass is an expression of our unity in the Church, precisely where some wish to see or even provoke division.

We are together at a particular time in the life of the Church, the publication of Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificium’. As you well know, in that publication - or rather in the letter attached to it – the Pope asks for a welcome to the steps he has taken in clarifying the position of the Missal of Pope John XXIII. He said: ‘Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.’ So that is what we do.

In his letter, addressed to bishops but available to all, he puts forward clearly the first basis for this appeal. He states, strongly, that there is one rite of the Mass in the Latin Church. He explains that this one rite has two forms: the ordinary form, which we are celebrating now, and the extraordinary form which you are to study and use during this Conference. This perspective is crucial to us all.

So the first invitation of the Holy Father is for us to avoid speaking or writing or thinking in terms of two rites: the ‘Tridentine Rite’ and the ‘modern’ or ‘post Vatican II Rite’. We should respond attentively and consistently to this invitation.

Why does the Pope insist that there is one rite of the Mass? Because, whichever form is being used, the same mystery is being celebrated, the same rite is followed. There is one mystery and there is one movement, or structure, through which that mystery is enacted.

The mystery we celebrate is the mystery of our salvation. And this is not something hidden or to be shrouded, but declared and made manifest.

The emphasis in our celebration is not so much on the transcendent mystery of God himself, not so much a glimpsing of the mystery of God as was given to Abraham, Moses, Isaiah or the three disciples at the Transfiguration. Rather it is action of our Redemption, the mystery ‘he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight, the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ…to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.’ (Eph 1.10). This mystery is disclosed in the Incarnation, in earthly realities, which all the disciples, like St John, are invited to see, to touch and to receive in their liturgical and sacramental presence. The words and actions of Christ, summed up in his sacrifice and in his Body and Blood given for our nourishment, are the heart of every celebration of the Mass.

I’m sure many of you recall, as I do, the lovely image of the priest at Mass raising the consecrated host and seeing, just above it, the figure of the crucified Lord. This picture hung on my bedroom wall. It helped to form my faith. It is, I believe, always helpful for the eye to move easily from the elevated host or chalice to an image of the crucifix. That juxtaposition teaches us, through eye and imagination, the reality of what is taking place.

If this is the central mystery of the Mass, the structure of the rite in which we celebrate it – the one rite – is also important, for it gives shape to the spiritual journey to be made by all who take part in the Mass.

The rite leads all who take part in it first to approach the Mystery in humility and with penitence. Then we are directed to address all our thoughts, aspirations and thanks to the Father. Next all attend to the Word of God, proclaimed with the grace and power particular to the liturgy of the Church. The faith is then expounded to us according to the mind of the Church. In response, we declare our faith and offer our lives to the Lord. We do so in the most sublime way possible: by uniting ourselves with the sacrifice of Christ. Then, within the community of prayer and praise which is the Church, we receive the spiritual food of our salvation and are thereby formed again into the Body of Christ. Finally all receive the mandate and are sent out to be his ambassadors.

No matter the language of the celebration, no matter the form, these phases of the rite, this journey of the liturgy, must be set forth clearly. The celebrant, acting in the person of Christ and in the name of the Church, needs to ensure that his actions enable the souls in his care to participate in this saving mystery, to take part in each of its steps. This participation has to be profound, spiritual, informed by understanding – an active participation and not passive, not ‘leaving it to the priest to celebrate the Mass for us.’ Such is the shape and expectation of the one rite of the Mass, whether in its ordinary or extraordinary form, and it is given for the nourishment and salvation of the people.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church turns to St Augustine, whose feast we keep, to make clear the mystery in which we are to participate. It states:

St Augustine admirably summed up this doctrine that moves us to an ever more complete participation in our Redeemer’s sacrifice which we celebrate in the Eucharist:

This wholly redeemed city, the assembly and society of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice by the high priest who in the form of a slave went so far as to offer himself for us in his Passion, to make us the Body of so great a head…Such is the sacrifice of Christians: “we who are many are one Body in Christ.” The Church continues to reproduce this sacrifice in the sacrament of the altar, so well known to believers, wherein it is evident to them that in what she offers, she herself is offered.’ (CCC 1372).

I hope that your study of the Missal of Pope John XXIII will help you to appreciate the history and richness of that form of the Mass. And I trust that you will bring all that you learn to every celebration of the Mass you lead in the future. I have no doubt that each of us must strive for improvements in the way the ordinary form of the Mass is celebrated so that its inner mystery and spiritual movement is more clearly set forth. As Pope Benedict says, we must do all we can to bring out the spiritual richness and theological depth of the Missal of Paul VI, ‘for that will guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI will unite parish communities and be loved by them.’

Please remember that what you study here is not a relic, not a reverting to the past, but part of the living tradition of the Church. It is, therefore, to be understood and entered into in the light of that living tradition today.

The Missal of Pope John XXIII will remain the extraordinary form of the celebration of the Mass, for, as Pope Benedict says, its use ‘presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.’ And the decision of the Church was that, for general use, it needed to be revised. But there are truths of which it can still remind us and it has treasures and consolation to offer.

May the Lord bless your efforts in these next few days and draw you closer to the heart of the one saving mystery, that mystery which we now celebrate together.

Hat tip goes to Fr Ray Blake.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Maddy loves animals!

As well as our household pets, it is evident that Maddy just loves animals! This bank holiday weekend was a chance to explore this passion of hers. We also had my 14-year old brother to stay, so you might say she has become accustomed to the most untameable animal of all: the teenager! But Maddy, with her gentle charm and inquisitive nature, is enough to settle even the most wild of beasts!

On Saturday we were inspired to visit a quiet little tourist attraction in Staffordshire: Monkey Forest. Now we are actually veterans of Monkey World, in Dorset; that incredible sanctuary of abused and neglected apes from all around the world. But Monkey Forest had something extra special to offer, especially for die-hard monkey fanatics such as ourselves: The ability to walk around a huge 60-acre monkey enclosure, with Barbary Macaques freely roaming before our eyes! They dart across the paths just inches from us, and swing from trees above our heads. It is just riveting to be able to see them so closely, and observe their monkey business without being behind glass or cages.

Sunday was a day of rest, but the bank holiday Monday had something very special in store! I was busy on-call in the hospital for the whole day, but was delighted to be able to peruse these photos of Maddy at the Greenbelt Christian Arts festival, doing what best comes to mind for such an occasion: a petting zoo! With the kids firmly in mind, there were all sorts of friendly animals on view. What they all seem to have in common is their ability to make Maddy absolutely chuckle with joy!

Animals were created by God for the benefit of us all. Because they have no free will, they glorify God simply by their very existence. It is clear to me that if they can make such an innocent little girl as happy as this, they are serving God's purpose perfectly. Animals should be cared for in such a way that we give thanks to God for their beauty and uniqueness. This can include using them for our nutritious benefit, which does not detract from our love for them. It was touching to hear from some of the farmers in Surrey, that they really were hurt to have to hand over their animals for incineration in the recent foot-and-mouth outbreak, as they regard them as part of their own household, and look after them with pride and dignity.

I can relate to this, as my own family have run a farm in the South African highlands for 2 generations; I recall one event when visiting at the age of 5; a huge rain-storm meant the new lambs were struggling to survive the elements. Many died, but several were also rescued by the farmers in the thick of it, and kept in the warmth of our cottage where we slept.

I don't want a debate about vegetarianism (which I abhor in its extremest form, but can also sympathise with) so will leave it there! May God bless our animals in the UK, especially our livestock, and keep them free from disease and illness. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Fourth Commandment

A strange title for a post? First a Maddy Update: She is sitting unsupported! Milestones are so much fun. The best thing about her sitting on her own, is that I can so easily sit opposite her and admire her, rather than always cradling her in my own lap and thus only having a view of the back of her head! Eating is going quite well; in the photo below you can see her enjoying a nice sunny picnic with a bread stick to munch upon! Wendy took this picture, as unfortunately I don't get to enjoy these fun day-time activities any more, now I'm earning a living!! Well, there's always the weekend!

Wendy and I have enjoyed regular compliments on the way we are managing to bring up little Maddy. For this we are very grateful; it is a real encouragement. I am particularly thankful for the grace that we take care of her with such joy and pleasure (most of the time)! Which is why I am surprised that after all this time, the only negative remark we catch wind of is from the closest of quarters: my own mother. Perhaps this is common.

So why highlight the Fourth Commandment*? Well, firstly because that is the commandment I feel so often shameful for breaching. It is not to say I don't slip up on a few of the others from time to time, but that this is the one where, if it weren't for God's firm guidance, I would continue undaunted and never examine my conscience about it. Here is the whole commandment from Exodus 20:
Honour thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be longlived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee.
This is significant: after the first part of the Decalogue (honouring God) we are introduced to the second part (the order of charity) with the way we should show honour to our own earthly parents. It is as if our own love and honour of God is reflected directly to the ones who nurtured us. It is a commandment with a promise: that of temporal fruits and prosperity. It follows that by scorning this commandment, and showing our parents disrespect, we bring upon ourselves harm and division.

Since I never knew my father very well, and since he has now died, it is really only in applying this honour to my mother that I fall short! Why is this so hard for me? Well, I must say, this is a difficult question to answer. The last time she stayed with us, I felt that I had been short, impatient, disconsiderate, and generally critical towards her. When I took her to Mass on the Sunday, I slipped off and brought this specific point to the confessional, knowing that I could not approach the Sacrament of the Altar with a clear conscience unless I did so. I was taken aback by a penance I am not usually asked to perform by that particular confessor: Recite the Hail, Holy Queen. This is a hymn to our Lady, which this Blog borrows from in the derivation of its title. Then I knelt back down in the pews, and pondered this prayer, looking over at the Statue of Our Lady. It occurred to me that this prayer was awakening in me a feeling of simple obedient love towards Our Heavenly Mother, which is precisely the way I should be feeling towards my own mother.

I took the opportunity to physically embrace my mum on this occasion, assuring her of my love for her, and reminded myself that I must see the image of Mary in my own mother if I am to succeed in honouring her as I should. We cannot choose our parents, so I must be grateful for the numerous acts of love which I have received from my mum. Really it is through the sacrifices she has made as a mother that I can stand where I am today. Although I am now independent and forging my own way through life, with my own conscience, it is important to recall and thank God for where I have come from. But most importantly, my mother is as much a part of my life now as she was in this photo, and perhaps she needs to know that.

*(note for Protestants: that it is the 5th commandment I'm referring to, because they number them differently. The bible presents the commandments as one continuous prose, so there is debate over their division and enumeration, including the odd conspiracy theory!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Archbishop Mario Conti on Summorum Pontificum

I happened to be assured by His Grace, when I had the pleasure of meeting him, that it was his job and role in the Church to do the will of the Holy Father, and to apply this to his local church. Well, it looks like he has come up trumps with his implementation of Summorum Pontificum. I would love to know what the Holy Father thinks of this impressive interpretation of a very straightforward Motu Proprio (with accompanying clarifying letter by the Holy Father, of course)!
"Notice that there is to be a "stable group", a single request does not establish such a group. Moreover the group is to be identified as adhering to the earlier liturgical rite. A vague hankering for the old days is not an adherence to the earlier rite; this document has been issued to attempt to address serious divisions, not a generalised longing for days past. The word "adhere" is fundamental to the use of the extraordinary form. I find it difficult to envisage that there are any "stable groups" in our diocese who "adhere" to the 1962 Missal. There are clearly individuals who do so, but when offered a weekly celebration of Mass in the 1962 Missal less than 30 people regularly attend. Furthermore it is difficult to say that people who do not regularly attend the 1962 Missal when it is actually available "adhere" to this Rite.

"I would not envisage a situation where the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite meant that the ordinary form was not celebrated that day. It is to be noted that the canonical limits on bination remain intact.

"Art 5.3 also permits the extraordinary form for marriages, funerals, or occasional celebrations. The reference is to the Missal and not to the Tridentine Ritual.

"Priests ordained after 1970 are unlikely to be qualified to celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 ritual. It is certainly clear that a one week course would be insufficient to so qualify a priest. The discernment is mine... As the chief liturgist of our diocesan community I expect to be consulted so that I may confirm that any particular priest, before he begins to do so, is "qualified" to celebrate the extraordinary form in parishes. In that way I may exercise my responsibility in collaboration with you and help prepare in my mind the required report to the Holy Father which he requests within the next three years.

"Article 9 refers to the permission granted to parish priests to use the earlier Ritual for four of the sacraments…it is to be noted that this article falls under the same requirements that there be a stable group with an attachment to the prior rite, that the ordinary form is not displaced and that the priest be suitable qualified....I require that you consult me before making use of these rites so that I may verify the circumstances for the use of the earlier Ritual and your suitability for its use.

" may be forced to take part in the 1962 rituals when they would wish to celebrate according to the ordinary Rite.

"I look to you, the priests of the diocese to cooperate with me in this matter so that all may be done in the spirit of unity that the Holy Father so urgently seeks."

As you can see from the above picture, taken at the Linacre Conference on 7th July 2007, he must have been plotting this move from the first day the MP was released!!

Hat tip to Fr Zuhlsdorf (who provides a fuller commentary). Sorry I have been delayed in getting this news to my readers, who I'm sure will be eager to know of these developments. From reading WDTPRS, more and more Bishops are being openly hostile towards this move by the Holy Father. I suppose it is to be expected. The rest of the world must be scratching their heads in bemusement, especially when this kind of stuff reaches the general secular media.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Maddy Laughter

I was tickled silly by the latest comment. Maddy does, indeed, often look very serious in photos. This is not to say she is not a very happy, cheery little girl - as this post will testify to! Strangely enough, she often assumes a very serious expression just before she laughs! Perhaps a comical device she has learned to employ!

It is nice to notice that she is often very thoughtful and observant. She often appears to be taking everything in, and can sometimes be completely transfixed by the simplest of things! Church seems to spring to mind, when she can stare and stare at the ceiling, or the Mass being offered on the sanctuary.

I can appreciate that she'd make a good philosopher, or nun, or housewife, or all manner of things. We will try to ensure she has lots of opportunities to explore her interests as she grows up, and will support her in whatever virtuous vocation she feels called to.

As far as smiling and laughing are concerned, she seems to have developed quite an astute sense of humour, and enjoys laughing along with us. The top picture is of Maddy dancing along to keyboard music (a particular favourite of hers!) Other things that make her laugh are looking in the mirror, blowing raspberries, peek-a-boo and other funny games!! If you ever meet Maddy, you will find it very easy to extract a smile from her sweet little face!

Joee Blogcard

What a delight to get home from work today and find a postcard from that loveable rogue, Joee Blogs, sent specially from Quarr Abbey. I am sure that many surfers of the blogosphere will be eager to know how young Master Blogs is getting on with his monastic retreat. Well, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me publishing it in its entirety (minus the address), as long as I reiterate the delightful personal gratitude we have towards him for this thoughtful gesture. He is a very good friend, and my loyalties certainly lie with him as fellow young Catholic, blogger, and medical man.
Dear all,
Arrived here in the end - took a whopping 5 hrs travelling though. The sea was very choppy + felt a bit icky dicky on the way over!!!

I'm enjoying 3 days in the guest house 'decontamination' before moving to the novitiate. Enjoying it here already - but I'm sure it will get harder when I have to get up at 5am!

Hi to Colemanus Max.! Hope blogs are OK in my absence (←withdrawal symptoms!)

Love and prayers: Joee
It must have been around this time that young Joee rang me to keep me posted with his progress, including the shocking revelation that he has had his head shaved! No, he's not a neo-Nazi, he's pretending to be a monk! He called it a 'tonsure' (whatever one of those are)! Although no halo, apparently. All very strange. I just hope he reemerges from this place of prayer to finish his medical degree. We need more good Catholic stock in the hospitals.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

Madeleine has begun eating solids! Some people call this 'weaning' but this implies she will be 'weaned away' from something; and there's no way she will let up on breastfeeding!

Anyway, Wendy is really enjoying making her different concoctions of soft vegetables and fruit... but Maddy's favourite seems to have come out this evening as bread sticks and rice cakes! With 2 lower incisors burst forth, nothing will stop her now!

No crawling as yet, but lots of rolling, rotating, gyrating, and sitting (almost unsupported)! Suffice to say it breaks my heart to leave her every morning! But I am secure in the knowledge and security, throughout my working day, that she is being looked after by the very best of mums (and I'm allowed to say that because she's my wife! I wouldn't have married her if I didn't think she was the best!!)

Also notice that little Maddy has had a trim of her hair! The beautiful golden curls (left) have given way to a classic fringe (right, with Colemanus). Wow, she looks cute, even if I do say so myself!

But seriously, parenting is proving to be lots of fun for us both. Its a very special time, I imagine, with a first child; rather than so frantically trying to keep head above water, as with several children hanging off us, we have the blissful euphoria of caring and nurturing a very special life. Maddy seems quite happy most of the time, even at High Latin Masses, where she has recourse to a side chapel / confessional for a feed if she at all gets bored!! Of course, I'm sure this idealic scene of parenthood will change as the years go by, and the head count adds up... but I pray we can appreciate every single stage!

I am conscious that the prevailing attitudes in our society can be quite anti-Catholic and anti-family. So many times I hear people talking negatively about marriage, children, and large families. Gone are the days when these things are seen as the true blessing which they undoubtedly are. More and more I feel an affinity with foreign cultures which make up Birmingham's multi-ethnic picture; they seem to have a better and more traditional concept of family, which includes a true celebration of young life, and a tender caring for those who are old and infirm. If Britain were to truly value multi-culturalism, she would learn the great mistakes we are making in our own families, which evidently lead to wayward and disruptive young adults who have no respect for authority. The battle lines are firmly drawn, and it is little ones like Maddy who have the power to show the world the beauty of life.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Yesterday's feast is a holy day of obligation, and thus it would be criminal of me not to give it a mention.

To be honest, I spent the whole day at work having forgotten completely about it. I got home curious as to where we were rushing off to! At least I had been encouraging a terminally ill patient to pray her Rosary, which would have pleased Our Lady.

As we settled down to our pews in the Oratory, we were led in the glorious mysteries of the Rosary by Fr Gregory, which features this 'assumption' as its forth mystery (non-ecumenical version). Although my recitation of the Rosary has fallen by the wayside recently, I am able to draw inspiration from the countless times I have meditated on this glorious mystery. What does Our Lady's assumption into heaven mean?

The Assumption differs from Our Lord's own Ascension into heaven in the fact that is not on her own power that she is drawn up; it is Our Lord drawing her up, body and soul, into her eternal home. We can be secure in the fact that this foreshadows our own hope in the day of judgement, when the elect will be drawn up into heaven to share in the beatific vision of God's glory. But why has Our Lady gone before us? It is because she is the New Eve, and as such she is untainted by original sin and the lasting effect of death on humanity. She is a redeemed creature, but has never fell from the Grace which God constantly bestowed upon her. Her unique purpose was to be the New Ark of the Covenant, containing the Divine Priest, the Word of God, the Bread of Heaven; her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. For this purpose, like the original Ark, she was coated and lined with Gold, in a real and supernatural sense. To contain the God-Man she could have no blemish herself, and for this reason she is greeted as "full of grace" by the Archangel Gabriel.

Our Lady is the first fruit of all Redemption. She is a lasting promise of the Hope we have in her Son's saving power. She, who had that unmistakable gift of childlike faith and obedience in her creator; "Let it be done unto me according to Thy word". We can thus truly look to her for the way to her Son. She will never fail to present our sinful prayers and petitions to her Son, in a way that they will never go unanswered. She will never fail to present us, in turn, to her Son come judgement day. God has given her to us, to be the Mother of all Humanity; "Behold your Mother". We know, from her glorious Assumption, she is with Our Lord, constantly offering her prayers, on our behalf, to her Son. Whilst Jesus is the salvific mediator of humanity with God, Mary is mediatrix of the graces God bestows upon us. It is through her motherly and tender care which God can nourish and sustain us. He chooses to do this, in a similar fashion to the way he chose Jesus to be given unto the world through her womb.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Parkes - Catholic Mom of 10

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lead Kindly Light

Today at the Birmingham Oratory we celebrated the 117th anniversary of the death of John Henry Cardinal Newman. This is an annual event, with sung Mass and refreshments, for the cause of his beatification.

John Henry Newman was born in 1801 into a church of England family. He earned for himself great reputation by becoming a protestant clergyman in Oxford, but later, in 1833, he began the Oxford Movement, which was a controversial attempt to steer the English Church in the correct direction. Eventually, in 1839, he realised whilst studying the early Church Fathers, that the Truth of the Faith subsisted elsewhere, and that his own church resembled more of a heretical sect the likes of which had been thoroughly condemned by orthodox Christianity. Eventually, in 1845, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Passionist Priest Blessed Dominic Barbari. He went on to follow the Spiritual Path of St Philip Neri, and established the English congregation of the Oratorians in Birmingham. Pope Leo XIII named him a Cardinal age 78. He died August 11th 1890 receiving a universal tribute of praise from all quarters. His funeral procession from the Oratory down to his burial site in Rednal was lined by thousands of people. As The Times wrote: "whether Rome canonises him or not, he will be canonised in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England".

The celebrant of today's Mass, Fr Gregory Winterton, remarked on this occasion that it would probably be the last time we had such an event before his actual beatification! What a wonderful day that will be, God willing. The preacher today was Fr Daniel Seward of the Oxford Oratory, who gave some special insights into why this is such a special thing; It is the Cardinal's personal holiness which is such an example for us, over and above all the wonderful and intellectual writings he has given us.

This year there is a newly released production, in special library case, together with a glossy booklet, all about the life of this saintly Englishman. A remarkable Priest, Poet and Thinker - The Kindly Light captures this in sound over 3 CDs. The documentary has been recorded on location in Birmingham, London, Oxford, Littlemore and Rednal. It includes the Birmingham Oratorians (The Very Revd Paul Chavasse and The Rev Fr Guy Nichols, who speaks Newman's words), The Revd Dr Michael Lang (of the London Oratory), The Sisters of the Work at Littlemore, members of staff at Trinity College, Oxford, and Bishop Geoffrey Rowell (an Anglican Newman scholar).

The RRP on this is just £10, but if you can't get hold of it at a piety stall near you, simply call the publisher 01455 845211 quoting Lacrimarum Valle!
GOD OUR FATHER, Your servant John Henry Newman upheld the Faith by his teaching and example.

May his loyalty to Christ and the Church, his love for the immaculate Mother of God, and his compassion for the perplexed give guidance to the Christian people today.

We beg You to grant the favours we ask through his intercession, so that his holiness may be recognised by all and the Church may proclaim him a saint.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, August 10, 2007


If anyone's got a spare couple of grand knocking around, I would recommend this gadget:

A half size R2-D2 replica, which is remote controllable and moves around just like little Artoo from the Star Wars film. Like Artoo, he also comes in handy when anything technical is concerned; plug him into the mains and use his real projector to watch movies, play games, look at photos on memory cards etc. He has built in 20 watt stereo speakers, an iPod docking bay, and even a DVD slot in his front. Go here for more information!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Week on the Job

Many people out there will be thinking, "thank goodness he now has a job; he'll be less busy wasting time on the blog, spending a student loan, and will finally be supporting his family!"

To which I would heartily agree! But what a shame that a whole week has gone by without updating the blog on how this momentous time has gone. No time like the present, I guess:

Perhaps I am unfortunate in that I have had almost the busiest schedule possible as a first week FY1 (foundation year 1) junior doctor. While everyone else were getting used to the day-to-day running of their ward, with their duties and responsibilities; I was launched into the deep end with a weekend of nights on-call. I really shouldn't complain, since the hours used to be much more antisocial. But even now that they are EWTD (European Working Time Directives) compliant, working 66 hours over the last 7 days has been a bit of a shock to the system. 12-hour shifts are a strange species, especially when embarked upon overnight.

The good news is that I have thoroughly enjoyed the work. Seeing patients, being given responsibility, and realising I know slightly more than I thought, have all been a welcome change to the days of medical school. But by far the best thing about working life, as many fathers will testify to, is getting home and seeing the happy smiles on my family's faces! My little one beams and shrieks with delight when I pull up onto the drive, in an almost ecstatic outpouring of love! I never realised being a Dad would be quite so overwhelming!

So now, after only a week, I appreciate three things much more:
  • 1) My family
  • 2) Normal 8 hour working days
  • 3) Sleep
Although I have always been good at appreciating that last one. Maybe I should also appreciate the European Union more, for passing laws that makes it illegal for my employer to work me any harder than they currently do...

And of course I should also appreciate the Lord God Almighty, who has made my success possible by all the gifts he has bestowed upon me. I will certainly need continual divine help to meet and conquer the many challenges that being a doctor entails... Hopefully I will be able to write more at length about these in due course.