Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Christmas

This "Pug in a Parka" really enjoyed a bit of Christmas cheer...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Christmas!

To everyone who may be stopping by this site;
May your Christmas be richly blessed by the Christ child!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our New Archbishop

This is the most beautiful photo from the Mass of Installation. I hope to be able to write a full report soon, for what it's worth. I'm not sure exactly from what angle to do it, though...

Photo credit: Mazur/ (see more here)

My greatest regards to this noble Brigittine sister for reverencing the Bishop appropriately, the only example of which I saw throughout the whole day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Today is not just the beginning of advent, and the beginning of the 2010 liturgical year; it is also the 40th anniversary of the implementation of the revised Novus Ordo Missale Romanum, now known as the 'Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite' of Mass. Our family celebrated this 40 years in the wilderness by attending a Sunday Mass using the 1962 Missal, which was 'Extraordinary'. We also attended Vespers, which is the first time in ages... Once I asked Fr Guy Nicholls the best way to prepare for Christmas in the Advent season, and he said "By praying Vespers".

V. Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum R. Aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just; Let the earth be opened and send forth a Saviour

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wendy's Cakes

I couldn't resist sharing these wonderful Christmas Cakes with you all. If you are expecting one as a present from Wendy, then look away now to cherish the surprise!!

The process of making these delicious fruit cakes began months ago, with lots of ingredients being purchased, things soaking in Brandy, dough being made, baking, then weeks of 'feeding' with... hurrah! More brandy! Then there was marzipan... Now Wendy brought it all together just as Advent beings, with the icing and decoration of all the cakes! Fortunately Maddy has been involved in the whole process, with her own mini, non-alcoholic fruit cake.

Here are the finished results, with even more to come; orders still coming in. Of course the knife won't hit any of them until the season of Advent is over and Christmastide begins! There will also be a new baptism cake for February since we've ate all our wedding cake now! Wendy is definitely fortunate to have excellent domestic grounding from her mother and grandmothers! Maddy is already soaking up these skills!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beatrix Potter: Homeschooled

"Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."

Beatrix Potter, born into a privileged household in the 1860s, was educated at home by a governess and was isolated from other children. Even her younger brother Bertram was most the time at boarding school. However, she grew up to be incredibly intellectual and artistically talented, publishing a series of 23 highly successful children's books in her thirties (the 'Peter Rabbit' stories). She died in 1943 leaving most of her property to the National Trust, helping to preserve the fell farming in the Lake District.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Law for Catholics

An old friend thought to encourage me to publish this on my blog. I'm impelled to because I think its very interesting:

Using the Law to your advantage: An Example for Catholics

Recently I happened to be walking through the grounds of a museum in the UK. I came
across a structure that appeared to be an exhibit. So as to not identify it, I can't give you specifics, but the "exhibit" quoted a written slogan, which appeared to deny the existence of God, or the efficacy of His actions in the world.

As a Catholic this gives me extreme cause for concern, and as a citizen I wonder what I can do about it. Fortunately, the law is meant to be there for everyone, and in this instance there are a few pieces of legislation which may be useful.

1) The museum in question is a public body, hence anyone can submit written questions to them for information and get written answers back. A few exemptions apply, but generally all information must be given, and the public body is not entitled to ask why.

The relevant legislation is the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (c. 36), or - in Scotland - the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (2002 asp 13).

In this instance, I hope to compel the museum in question to disclose whether the item is indeed an exhibit, if it is not then what it is doing there, and if it is who the artist(s) is/are, who commissioned it, the cost, and any written policy regarding it.

2) Whether the work is an exhibit or not, a second piece of legislation will help further. Public bodies have traditionally had responsibilities under the Race Relations and Disability Discrimination Acts to assess the impact of their policies and decisions. This has recently been extended.

The Equality Act 2006 (c.3) imposes the same burden on public bodies, extending it to age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion or belief. (Note: the groups do not necessarily mean a particular minority, for example something could be discriminatory by virtue of age, even if the "age" group affected is not young or old, but middling.)

This means that, in terms of this exhibit, the museum ought to have assessed the impact of hosting the exhibit on persons of religious belief, Christian or otherwise. After they have responded to my first request, I intend to use the FOI legislation listed above to enquire as to their responsibilities under this second Act.

Failure to respond to Freedom of Information requests, along with the operation of the Acts, is overseen by the Office of the Information Commissioner (Scottish Information Commissioner in Scotland). The oversight body for the Equality Act is the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

I hope and pray I'm successful in discovering the meaning of this strange "structure", but in the meantime, I thought I would share some legal resources with people of goodwill on the blogosphere. The Law exists for Catholics too. Use it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Newman's Miracle comes to Birmingham

Rev Jack Sullivan, a married permanent Deacon from America, is currently on a trip to the UK to finally visit Newman's final home of the Oratory in Birmingham. It was by a miracle attributed to Cardinal Newman's intercession before God that Deacon Sullivan was healed of Spinal Stenosis, not only from the initial pain, but also from post-surgical recovery. From my experience of seeing people after spinal decompression and laminectomy, it is incredible that Deacon Jack was suddenly able to jump back to being a father and minister in his community.

I had the opportunity of expressing my gratitude for God's grace in this instance. I think it is no coincidence that God has chosen for this to happen and shed light on the restored ministry of the permanent diaconate, one which many have been sceptical about.

It makes me continually grateful to share a part in the community of the Birmingham Oratory when I hear Deacon Jack recount his experience, and that he now feels like he has "come home" to the place where Newman lived; the 'saint' responsible for utterly transforming and restoring his life. In recognition of this miraculous event, verified by the medical profession and vatican theologians, Cardinal Newman will be pronounced 'Blessed' by the Pope next year.

For more of Deacon Jack's visit, see the Cause Website:
1) Deacon Jack Sullivan, Newman's Oratory, and the 'hermeneutic of continuity.'
2) Jack Sullivan on Newman's Healing Message
3) Visit to Westminster Cathedral
4) Visit to Brompton Oratory
5) Visit to Birmingham Oratory

Remembrance Day

Today was dedicated by King George V as Armistice Day to commemorate the ending of the First World War on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the Germans signed the Armistice. Nowadays it has come to commemorate all those soldiers killed in war. It is commonly observed by a two-minute silence today at 11am, which is always a poignant moment in the busyness of normal life. It is a good time to pray for the souls of the deceased, especially those Catholics who died during the great wars.

I recently read an eye-opening article in this month's Mass of Ages magazine (Latin Mass Society) written by Fr David Smith RAChD, who is an Army chaplain and has ministered to the soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Whatever anyone can say about the legitimacy of these wars, his witness is a striking one. He writes of the Extraordinary Form of Mass, which he has found very successful amongst the soldiers:
[In the old Mass] the idea of the Sacrifice is in your face. It is absolutely suffused with blood, battle and triumph. This Sacrifice is, so to speak, God's weapon against the powers of darkness...

The silences are important. Why? Because the life of the warrior is surrounded by noise and clamour. The killing-zone is not a place of quiet and calm. Silence is rare - and we crave it... In the face of such majesty, such suffering, even a soldier's 'lesser calvaries' are put into a certain context.

I found this article so powerful. Here is a priest who knows his flock, and realises that the Catholic Mass is so important and applicable to every human situation, even ones infinitely removed from our own experiences. Indeed, I began to realise the truth- that these men need the mercy and nourishment of this 'sacrament of sacraments' so much more acutely than I can ever imagine.

Also appropriately today is the feast of St Martin of Tours, who died in 397. Brought up the son of a military tribune, he was obliged to enlist as a soldier in the Roman army. During this time he was moved to compassion upon seeing a cold beggar, and divided his cloak for him. Touched by this incident, Martin eventually converted to the Catholic Faith. Upon his release from military service he become a monk under St Hiliary and later reluctantly became Bishop of Tours in France. He was renowned for his spirit of humility and mortification, and his example can also teach us the working of grace to touch human lives in the most unlikely of places.

In the two-minute silence of today, I will try to spiritually unite myself with the little silences which our modern-day warriors are going through; whether these silences are filled with anger, pain, bitterness, or the encounter with the divine that any Catholic can see in the Mass.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Deacon Jack coming to Birmingham

The Birmingham Oratory will next week host Deacon Jack Sullivan from the USA, who was miraculously healed through the intercession of Cardinal Newman which attributes the upcoming Beatification.

The Newman cause website has an introductory article, which is bound to be updated this week, so keep an eye on it. Of particular note is this little snippet:

When Jack Sullivan exercises his diaconate at Mass at the Birmingham Oratory at 12.45pm on Wednesday 11 November, he will do so at the Oratory’s ad orientem (east-facing) High altar. This traditional position for Catholic altars has, exceptionally, been preserved at the Birmingham Oratory. Pope Benedict XVI has often spoken of the deep theological and spiritual significance of celebrating Mass ad orientem, and of what has been lost through the current practice of celebrating Mass facing the people. Anticipating a Papal visit to England next year, Wednesday’s Mass links in a special way Newman’s Beatification to Benedict XVI’s own ‘hermeneutic of continuity’.

I think this is bound to be significant.

The Lake District...

... Because its a great place to go on a swing!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

It's a Boy!!

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it is not only possible to say the above phrase at the birth of a child, but also half way through its gestation. Wendy is now almost 29 weeks pregnant, and instead of opting for the NHS 20-week anomaly "abortion-screening" scan, we decided to have fun with 4D ultrasound instead.

It was a joy to have a consultant obstetrician (a fellow of the Royal College of Obs' & Gynae' no less) lavish his attention on Wendy's womb, whilst Maddy and I looked on with joy at our new addition to the family. He went on to say it is 100% certain to be a boy, and sure enough showed us all the bits and bobs on the screen. In addition, there is less likelihood of Wendy developing pre-eclampsia, with the consultant noting the normal pattern of umbilical blood flow, and told us to expect a slightly larger baby this time if that remains the case.

Any couple having routine scans will be pleased to see the heart beating and all the organs in check, but a 4D scan allows an even greater joy; witnessing the very facial features of the new baby. It is hit or miss how successful this real-time calculation is, depending on the position of the baby. However, we were able to clearly see our baby boy sucking at the amniotic fluid, and even saw the shape of his nose (a beautiful inheritence from his mother's side) and his beautiful lips!

There has been a lot of excitement this last week with my being on annual leave, visiting family, the lake district, planning a Solemn High Requiem in West Bromwich... but of course this tops them all! Life is beautiful indeed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

St Michael's, West Brom'

A puritan survey of Staffordshire in 1604 remarks that there were 'many popish' in West Bromwich. In 1807 Fr Francis Martin arrived at Bloxwich and later, in 1827, St Mary's was built in Walsall, which served the surrounding Catholics in the region. Since then a thriving mission developed in West Bromwich, with numerous conversions to the Catholic Faith.

In 1830 building began on a church in the Early English style, with turrets at each corner. It was opened on 21 November 1832 and dedicated to St Michael and the Holy Angels, and was one of the first Catholic churches to be built after the Catholic Emancipation (original foundation stone can still be seen, right). It was designed by Joseph Ireland and financed in large part by its first parish priest, Hon Fr George Spencer CP (interestingly an ancestor of Lady Diana Spencer). As well as West Bromwich it served Oldbury, Tipton and Dudley.

On Census Sunday in 1851 there were five hundred people at Mass. The priest of 1877, J.J. Daly, described the mission as also extending to Perry Barr and Handsworth (north Birmingham), and remarked "the character of the place and the social tone of the whole district" was "antagonistic to the Church" by which he was referring to drunkenness with widespread poverty.

In the mid-1870s Daly rebuilt and extended the church towards the corner of St Michaels Street and the High Street. Designed in an Early English style by Dunn & Hansom of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the church is of Birmingham brick with Bath stone dressings. It consists of a sanctuary flanked by side chapels, aisled nave, with an organ gallery at the west end. This cost £3000, of which one third was raised by Daly in New York. The south-west tower and spire, of Ruabon brick and Hollington stone, were added in 1911 by architect Edmund Kirby. The church was consecrated in 1917, and is what we have today (right).

Although I don't know the exact details, it seems that during the 1960/70s various alterations to the sanctuary were made (cf. Photo left, taken during the forty hours). The angels painted on the east wall have since been white-washed, and the handsome wooden carved reredos depicting all the Holy Angels was removed (St Michael is the only one who remains and is situated now on the north side of the nave). The high altar has been removed along with its gradines and a new stone one set up in the middle of the sanctuary. The rood loft has also disappeared. The solid marble altar rails remain, as does the intricate stained-glass windows, including a eastern rose window which now has a large crucifix hanging below.

On Wednesday, November 4th at 7:30pm there will be Solemn High Requiem in the Extraordinary Latin form for deceased parishioners, benefactors, and priests (including of course Fr George Spencer). Ensemble 1685 will sing Richafort's polyphonic Requiem setting. This will be the first time an "old-rite" Mass has been said since the 'changes'. It will be a real treat for the Black Country and we expect to draw a large crowd, God willing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good news for Anglo-Catholics

Rather than having to fully swim the Tiber, as the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman had to, I read the following article:

Catholic News Agency

The Vatican this morning announced that the Holy Father has approved the erection of 'Personal Ordinariates' within the Anglican community who wish to be brought into full communion with Rome. There are already Anglican Use parishes in America, and the creation of these will apparently "allow Anglicans to enter into full communion whilst maintaining some aspects of the distinctive Anglican spiritual patrimony".

Rather than rejoice at this development, notice how the prelates of the two sides, Catholic and Anglican, scrabble around trying to pick up the pieces of 'ecumenical dialogue'. I can only assume ecumenism must mean agree that we're all equally wrong. They say this is a furthering of the last 40 years in acknowledging what we have in common. Rowan Williams desperately pleads to his bishops that he's sorry not to have "alerted" them earlier, as if this is some sort of new strain of Swine Flu. No, it's Rome openly extending an open hand of compassion asking her seperated children to return. Not a product of "joint working" or "mutual enrichment".

So, please Anglo-Catholics, avail unto Rome, the successor of St Peter the prince of the Apostles, and escape communion with a fractured body of liberals, protestants, sodomites and feminists. "One more thing and I'm out of here" or so the joke goes, with traditionalist Anglicans who keep seeing their church disintegrate. Now there is a positive reason for them to come to Rome.

But what will it mean to maintain distinctive aspects of Anglican spiritual patrimony? Perhaps the same thing as maintaining a distinctive 'spirit of Vatican II' patrimony: one which, at its heart, seems to have sought to destroy the Catholic faith and its practice and beliefs from their very core: Liturgy. The Protestant 1662 book of Common Prayer and its creation by Cranmer has been strikingly compared with the Catholic 1960s post-conciliar reform. How can these be used as authentic bastions of true Catholic patrimony? Perhaps now that we are about to get a semi-decent English translation of the liturgy we are moving in the right step, towards Cranmer. What a sorry state of affairs.

Only time will tell what these structures will consist of; will the priestly orders which have been previously proclaimed as "totally null and void" need to now be con-validated by Catholic bishops? Will the faithful need to be "received" into the Catholic Church? Will the Anglican Baptisms be examined for possible invalidity (especially if conducted in free and easy evangelical wings of the Anglican communion) and therefore offered conditional Baptism? Somehow I doubt it.

In any case, once the whole mess is sorted out perhaps the Anglo-Catholics will explore a unique and authentic English Catholic spiritual patrimony: The Sarum use of the Roman Rite, or the various other ancient missals used in medieval England. Vatican II, in its constitution Sacrosanctum Conciliam (paragraph 4), indeed recommends such preservation, as does the post-Trent reforms in the Bull Quo Primum (paragraph 4) when it promulgated the Tridentine Missal. Being Catholic does not necessarily mean being Roman, as the Anglicans may be pleased to realise when they look in horror at the way we have destroyed and ransacked our temples in the last 40 years.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Pius XII on Newman

On the anniversary of John Henry Newman’s reception into the Catholic Church (9th October 1845), The Newman Cause website publish the full text of Pope Pius XII’s letter to the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Griffin, marking the 1945 centenary celebrations. The Pope’s letter is a striking witness to Newman’s incessant quest for truth, and to the profound significance of his conversion for the modern Church. It also powerfully highlights the special bond, symbolised in Newman, between the Catholic Church of England and Wales and the Apostolic See. The Pope chose this occasion to remind the Archbishop of Westminster: ‘ever since the first days of Christianity you have treated Our Predecessors, not as citizens of an alien country, but as Fathers that loved you.’

To our Worshipful Brother Bernard Griffin, Archbishop of Westminster
Pius XII, Pope

Worshipful Brother, Health and Apostolic Benediction.

A century has now all but run its course since John Henry Newman, the pride of Britain and of the universal Church, came to harbour after his long voyage in search of Catholic truth. With anxious and loving care he had sought it; with ready assent he acknowledged at last the warning accents of the Divine Voice. You, as the president of the English and Welsh Hierarchies, have written to Us most dutifully, in your own name and that of your fellow Bishops, with the request that We should share with you this happy opportunity for recalling his memory. Such a request must not go unheeded; We bear you a father’s love, and you have good cause for rejoicing; nor do We forget the close relations which, as your ancestral records show, have existed from the earliest times between England and the Holy See. As you know, ever since the first days of Christianity you have treated Our Predecessors, not as citizens of an alien country, but as Fathers that loved you. Not once but many times heralds of heavenly truth have reached those islands of yours, sent by the Apostolic See to teach you Christian ways while they were still unknown to you, or to revive them and restore them to their former estimation when time had loosened their hold on you.

Read more at:

The official website for the Cause for Cardinal Newman's Canonisation

Monday, October 05, 2009

Maddy & Brutus

Requiem for Grant Roberts

May He support us all the day long of this troubled life till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and this busy world is hushed and the fever of life over and our work is done: then in your mercy give us a safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at last.
- Cardinal Newman

It was a moving occasion this morning to be present for the Requiem Mass and Absolutions of Grant Victor Roberts. He led a very quiet life, and indeed did not want a eulogy at all; but for me it was peppered with his presence in the sanctuary of the Holy Liturgy. He knew the roles of the servers so well; MC, thurifer, acolyte, torch-bearer... that he was comfortable doing any of them with humility and honour. It was fitting that his Requiem today was endowed with the beautiful Rites of his Catholic Faith. Unusually, taking place just before the 40 hours devotion, the sanctuary was arrayed with a multitude of candles.

Fr Paul Chavasse was celebrant, leading the coffin into church with the recitation of the Subveníte. A short office was then said, after which the Mass was begun. The cantors chanted sombre psalm tones. There were a great many priests in choir, about eight, all holding unbleached candles. Other Oratory Fathers joined the line up around his coffin for the absolutions (above). The hymn 'Praise to the Holiest' was sung, as well as 'Just as I am' which included the poignant words:
"Just as I am, of that free love,
The breadth, length, depth and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come"

May the Angels receive him in paradise,
And Our Lady of Walsingham pray for him.
Requiescat in pace.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Rare Sung Requiem

Sung Requiem
St Michael & the Holy Angels, West Bromwich
Setting by Jean Richafort (1480-1547)

Wednesday, November 4th at 7:30pm
Followed by refreshments
260 High Street
West Bromwich B70 8AQ

A very rare performance of a High Renaissance masterpierce by ensemble 1685

Ensemble 1685
Formed by Richard Jeffcoat from singers he worked with at Coventry Cathedral, this enterprising group is now in its fifth year, and has notched up more than 300 performances. 1685 was the year both Bach and Handel were born, but, in addition to performances of Bach Passions and Handel's Messiah, the ensemble sings in all styles, and in every kind of performance context. A special interest lies in seeking out the correct context for performances of sacred music, and this rare performance of the Requiem Mass by a Franco-Flemish composer from the 16th century will be greatly enhanced by its context within a Latin Mass.

Jean Richafort (1480-1547)
This polyphonic setting of the Ordinary of the Requiem Mass was composed in honour of the composer's teacher, Josquin Desprez, following Josquin's death in 1521. Richafort held several posts in the Low Countries but also appears to have been attached to the French Court. The Requiem uses fragments of the older composer's work hidden in the rich texture of 6-part writing. This is a very rare performance of a High Renaissance masterpiece, and perhaps it will be performed liturgically for the first time in this country. As far as I know, this will also be the first Traditional Latin Mass in the Black Country in 40 years! Please give it your support!

With thanks to Fr Louis Hong Le (Parish Priest) and Mr Patrick Fahey for helping to organise it.

See my LMS Blog for more details of Latin Masses in the West Midlands.

New Archbishop of Birmingham

I have just been woken up by a text message telling me that Bishop Bernard Longley, current auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, will soon be the new Archbishop of Birmingham.

Apparently this will be announced by the Holy See shortly, according to Times Online.

I will not pretend that this doesn't excite me! But rather than make a critique of his history and orthodoxy, which I have no idea of, I will simply say the simple things please simple minds like mine... and the picture on the left, copyright of the Latin Mass Society, is from the 2005 Traditional Rite Confirmations in Westminster. Hurrah!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

R.I.P. Grant Roberts

- Grant Victor Roberts -
Passed from this world September 23rd 2009

Subveníte Sancti Dei, occúrrite Angeli Dómine, Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altísimi. Suscípiat te Christus, qui vocávit te, et in sinum Abrahæ Angeli dedúcant te. Suscipiéntes ánimam ejus, Offeréntes eam in conspéctu Altíssimi.

Come to his assistance, all ye Saints of God: meet him, all ye Angels of God: receiving his soul, offering it in the sight of the Most high. May Christ receive thee, who hath called thee, and may the Angels conduct thee to Abraham’s bosom. Receiving his soul and offering it in the sight of the Most High.

Grant was a Catholic convert and member of the Latin Mass Society since 1974, and it is with great honour that I can say I assisted at many Masses with him. He died fortified with the Rites of the Holy Catholic Church. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guess who's coming??!!


-- Posted From Wend's iPod Touch WiFi (4.5Mb/s)
Virgin Media Broadband

Sunday, September 20, 2009

St Therese visit to St Chad's Cathedral

Today we have just got back from a retreat from Douai Abbey near Reading, which was an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling grace-filled weekend led by Rev Fr Armand de Mallary FSSP. If that wasn't enough, we also had the opportunity to venerate St Thérese of Lisieux's relics, which are being taken around England this month. This weekend they have come to the Cathedral of St Chad's in Birmingham's Jewellery quarter.

We went this evening in time for a Mass for Religious with Rt Rev Bishop William Kenney CP as celebrant. I was impressed by his authoritive homily, and wouldn't be at all surprised if he were made Archbishop of Birmingham in due course. It was also nice to hear the Cathedral choir sing Palestrina's Sicut Cervus during the offertory and the Agnus Dei from his Missa Iste Confessor.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seven Dolours High Mass

Oliver Hayes of the Expectation of our Lady has put up a prompt post about tonight's Solemn High Mass for the feast of our Lady of Sorrows at St John Fisher church in West Heath, South Birmingham.

It was the parish priest's first public Mass using the 1962 missal, after having filled the ministry of Deacon and then subsequently attending the LMS priest training conference in Colney last month.

I hope to write more on my LMS blog in due course.

-- Posted From Wend's iPod Touch WiFi (4.5Mb/s)
Virgin Media Broadband

Sunday, September 13, 2009


After a second walking of the Holy Mile in Walsingham yesterday, Maddy was out for the count. Having often swiped her mum's mantilla, we bought her her own in Walsingham at one of the devotional shops there. She woke up during the homily at the sung Mass, and demanded a blessing during communion! Only this time I had to be careful because she tipped her head back and stuck her tongue out!!

There was no holy water in the stoups at Walsingham due to the Swine Flu pandemic.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Gospel according to Maddy

Maddy is really coming on and growing to be a beautiful little character. She adores going to Mass, loves praying to Jesus, Mary and even Newman, and certainly spurs me on with her radiant child-like Faith. Here are some recent photos of her.

Now, today's Gospel was St Luke 10: 27-37. When we're at Mass we invariably take Maddy into one of the side chapels and read from some of the books available from the church. Out of all the lovely little books, including ones on the Saints, Mary, the Nativity etc. Maddy's favourite has always been the Good Samaritan. So I was really excited today with the Gospel being this very story. So today the book in question came out of the chapel into the pew, and Maddy was very well behaved!

The story, as understood by Maddy, is about a trader called Abie. He is on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem, along a rugged rocky road. On the way a band of nasty robbers are hiding behind one of the big boulders, and overpower poor Abie, even taking his donkey and clothes. Poor Abie lies in the hot sun, bleeding and thirsty, and too weak to move. Both a Priest and a Levite hurry past without helping poor Abie. But then, a Samaritan called Saul comes along on his donkey. Samaritans and Jews don't get along at all, so Abie is so relieved to find this helpful man bandage his wounds, give him water to drink, and take him on his own donkey to Jericho. Abie leans on the Samaritan for support, but Saul doesn't mind, and is pleased to help. Once in Jericho Saul puts Abie to bed in an inn. The next morning Abie is feeling much better, and Saul says goodbye, leaving some silver coins with the innkeeper so that he can continue looking after Abie, and promising to pay back any extra when he returns.

Its sweet that Maddy loves this story so much. It seems to be one used in schools a lot to promote a Gospel of Justice & Peace. Which is all very well and good. Indeed, the story defines how we should love "thy neighbour as thyself" which is easy with our own friends and family, but set in the context of this parable, demands so much more of us. When we look at the story also in a spiritual sense, as the Fathers of the Church did, we see the Samaritan as a type of our Lord Jesus, who came down from the heavenly Jerusalem to rescue fallen humanity, dressing its wounds with great compassion and nourishing him with divine Grace. The Priest and Levite administering the old law could not hope to fulfill the law of love which our Lord ushered in, as today's Epistle says, "ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit: for the letter killeth but the spirit quickeneth". (2 Corinthians 3:4-9)

With this deep interpretation, we can see our Lord not only rescues Humanity from the brink of spiritual death, but takes him to the inn, which is the Church, for a full and perhaps slow recovery from the divine balm of the Sacraments. As the Good Samaritan promises, so does Our Lord; "Take care of him, and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return will repay thee." In this year for Priests, it is especially heartening for our shepherds to hear these words echoed to them directly.

We should remember that in our Catholic Faith, it is not enough merely to do our duty as Catholics, as the Priest and Levite did in the Gospel parable; but rather the law of love and mercy should spill over into our everyday life. I see myself as perhaps more of an innkeeper: passively prepared to receive any gift of God's grace, and willing to help if Our Lord should present a needy cause to me, mindful of my due. But our role should shift more to the Samaritan in our attempt to imitate our Lord: in showing mercy, and refecting our love and service of God in the way we treat others completely selflessly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy feast of The Assumption of Our Lady

What a Mother we have interceeding for us in heaven!
Just imagine the joy in heaven on that day when Mary arrived. The mother of Our Lord who had always humbly done the will of God, never calculating if it would inconveinience Her. Mary's plans always put the will of God first.
This is shown when at the wedding feast at cana She told the servants 'Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you.'. She recognized the Divinity of her son; who she had carried in her womb.
On the assumption her son, Our Lord would have greeted her; rewarding her for the great sacrifices and great love she always gave.

-- Posted From Wend's iPod Touch WiFi (4.5Mb/s)
Virgin Media Broadband

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cardinal Pell on Newman

There is an excellent article on the Newman Cause website on Cardinal Pell's thoughts of Newman following the recent announcement of his beatification, and marking the occasion of the 119th anniversary of his death. Although last year was thought to be the last pilgrimage to the graveside, solemn visits to Rednal will continue as this will always remain Newman's final resting place.

The article I think serves to refute some of the liberal highjacking of Newman's thoughts. Rather than anticipating some sort of rupture with the Church's thought, Newman taught us the true place of human conscience as something which serves absolute Truth, which is important to note in an ages which, according to Pope Benedict, marks a "dictatorship of relativism".

If you check back tomorrow, the complete text will be online. For now there is an excellent summary of the Cardinal's points here.
Picture above: St Francis de Sales (1567-1622) Bishop of Geneva, and Patron of Catholic Journalists. This portrait hangs above the altar in Newman's private chapel at the Birmingham Oratory

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Newman Cause Response to the Tablet

I don't read the Tablet, but I do enjoy reading things which refute its liberal tendencies. This time from the prestigious Newman Cause Website.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Two New Papal Documents

It has come to my tired attention (I am currently on nights) that the Pope has released two important documents this last couple of weeks. The first, is his third Encyclical Caritas in Veritate which I think has a really nice catchy title. Charity in Truth. I have been interested in the deterioration of modern society's definition of Love, so am particularly pleased that the Holy Father has reiterated the reasons for this:
Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence. (Paragraph 2)

I am still only on chapter 2, but wanted to link to it now so that people can be drawn into the document's riches.

The second document I have come across is a shorter Motu Proprio called Ecclesiae Unitatem, which concerns the reorganisation of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The reasons for this centre around the desire of the Holy Father to bring back into full communion with the Church, the Priestly Fraternity SSPX. It seems to emphasise the fact that negotiations are purely doctrinal and little to do with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, which has since been released from special indults described by Ecclesia Dei.

Obviously the Holy Father is very busy. The Encyclical obviously has most relevance to the Church as a whole, but we must not underestimate the importance of trying to discuss Vatican II in light of increased rootedness in Tradition: I could not possibly say whether the talks with SSPX will be successful, but at least it shows a readiness on the part of the Church to debate the whole context of Vatican II as a pastoral council, and since liberals within the Church seem so determined to turn it into a super-dogma council, it is useful to have another perspective which challenges the status quo.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Te Deum

In thanksgiving for the coming beatification of Cardinal Newman:

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur. Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur. Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates; Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!

Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae. Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus, Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus, Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus. Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:

Patrem immensae maiestatis: Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium; Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum. Tu Rex gloriae, Christe. Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.

Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum. Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum. Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris. Iudex crederis esse venturus.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.

Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti. Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood. Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.

V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance! R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.

R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.

V. Every day we thank Thee. R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.

V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day. R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.

R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee. R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

St John Fisher

This is eternal life: That they may know Thee, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.
St John 17:3

A wonderful feast for England and Wales is that which commemorates the two great martyrs of the Protestant revolution under King Henry VIII: St John Fisher, who was Cardinal and Bishop of Rochester for 33 years; and St Thomas More, who was a layman, father, and High Chancellor of England.

The above quote was spoken by St John Fisher as his final words before being beheaded. It deserves particular meditation, and has pride of place in this feast's liturgy as the Alleluia. Both these saints were imprisoned in the Tower of London by the King when they refused to approve of his illegitimate marriage to Anne Boleyn. They were surely both a fine example for the many people who subsequently died for the Catholic faith in this country. Furthermore, they are a shining beacon for us too, in a time when speaking out in defence of our Faith is considered imprudent or downright dangerous.

In the new Calender of the Church, this feast has been moved to June 22nd to coincide with the date St John Fisher was martyred in 1535. But when the pre-1965 liturgy is used, an older calender is employed which places the date for the feast as July 9th (closer to St Thomas More's execution of July 6th the same year). Therefore this year, to mark the occasion in the most solemn way, I have helped organise a High Mass in the parish church of St John Fisher in West Heath. (Pictured on this post)

The interesting thing about this church is the modern architecture. It was built in 1962 - 1964 and was thus designed for the 1962 missal! There features a sanctuary with marble altar rails, an eastward facing altar, a pulpit, a baldachino and 'big six' candlesticks. The building is in a hexagonal shape with stained glass windows depicting Jesus as Good Shephard, Teacher, King and Redeemer. It also features several side chapels, a grand organ loft above the west entrance, and a double sacristy to accomodate servers and priests.

By the time the church was consecrated in 1972 the liturgy had changed a great deal, and I suppose the sanctuary no longer seems 'fit for purpose' in that regard. However, over the years the church has never suffered the unfortunate reorderings that many have, with only a moveable free-standing altar to give the game away, which means it is a perfect venue for the Traditional Latin Mass.

For more on this event on Thursday, see my LMS Blog.

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

Let's pray for Michael's soul and for his friends and family....

We were born in 1982 the year of 'thriller', both danced and sang to his songs with our siblings!!
My brother Damian (RIP) used to write his own Michael Jackson lyrics as a young boy.
His songs have influenced so many.
May he finally be at peace.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

High Mass in Birmingham Parish

Even before the council it would be unusual for there to be a full Solemn High Mass in the ordinary parishes. It is with eager anticipation that I therefore draw your attention to this event on Thursday July 9th at 7pm! It will be the patronal feast of the church of St John Fisher in West Heath in the old calender and therefore a fitting occasion.

Please see my LMS blog for more details.