Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wishing you a blessed Christmas

Today is unique in the Catholic Calendar, in that wherever you are, people's thoughts are on celebration. I suspect it is much the same everywhere in Europe, America etc. Indeed wherever Christianity has ingrained its identity on the culture and national identity. Whereas many Christians may despair on this day, that it has become secularised, materialistic and lost it's true meaning, I am seeing it differently.

I rejoice that people want to be with their families, perhaps avoid work, buy gifts for each other and display a general sense of good will. After all, everyone knows the origin of Christmas, which makes it all the more special that our country still observes it. It is but a small leap of Faith to put the 'Mass' back into 'Christmas'.

Today in Britain we are covered in snow. A rarity, to be sure. It's amazing the way it causes such disruption for us. But it doesn't come as loud or sudden or powerfully destructive; it falls gently, settled gradually and leaves such a beautiful sight that it almost comes as a surprise when it feels so icy cold! In that sense it stands as a memorable metaphor for the Word of God: speaking softly, falling where it will and settling amongst us in varying degrees despite the contradictory way it is born in a cold stable in seeming vulnerability and poverty.

I'm sorry not to have written more on my Blog recently. It is enough to say that today is a very happy time and all feels well.

Let us pray:
Grant, we beseech You, almighty God, that this new light of Your Incarnate Word which shines upon our minds by faith, may be reflected in our deeds.
Through Christ our Lord

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

St Thomas

Tuesday, Dec 21, 2010
St. Thomas, Apostle:
So often we doubt, though Our Lord gives us so many graces. St Thomas- pray for us, that we may always say with true devotion "My Lord and my God!"

Gospel: John 20:19-29
20:19 Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week, and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace be to you.
20:19 Cum ergo sero esset die illo, una sabbatorum, et fores essent clausæ, ubi erant discipuli congregati propter metum Judæorum: venit Jesus, et stetit in medio, et dixit eis: Pax vobis.
20:20 And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord.
20:20 Et cum hoc dixisset, ostendit eis manus et latus. Gavisi sunt ergo discipuli, viso Domino.
20:21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
20:21 Dixit ergo eis iterum: Pax vobis. Sicut misit me Pater, et ego mitto vos.
20:22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
20:22 Hæc cum dixisset, insufflavit, et dixit eis: Accipite Spiritum Sanctum:
20:23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
20:23 quorum remiseritis peccata, remittuntur eis: et quorum retinueritis, retenta sunt.
20:24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, who is called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
20:24 Thomas autem unus ex duodecim, qui dicitur Didymus, non erat cum eis quando venit Jesus.
20:25 The other disciples therefore said to him: We have seen the Lord. But he said to them: Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.
20:25 Dixerunt ergo ei alii discipuli: Vidimus Dominum. Ille autem dixit eis: Nisi videro in manibus ejus fixuram clavorum, et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum, et mittam manum meam in latus ejus, non credam.
20:26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said: Peace be to you.
20:26 Et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli ejus intus, et Thomas cum eis. Venit Jesus januis clausis, et stetit in medio, et dixit: Pax vobis.
20:27 Then he saith to Thomas: Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.
20:27 Deinde dicit Thomæ: Infer digitum tuum huc, et vide manus meas, et affer manum tuam, et mitte in latus meum: et noli esse incredulus, sed fidelis.
20:28 Thomas answered, and said to him: My Lord, and my God.
20:28 Respondit Thomas, et dixit ei: Dominus meus et Deus meus.
20:29 Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.
20:29 Dixit ei Jesus: Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati qui non viderunt, et crediderunt.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

On Condoms...

[T]he conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose - sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.
Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
No difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil. There is no possible circumstance in which husband and wife cannot, strengthened by the grace of God, fulfill faithfully their duties and preserve in wedlock their chastity unspotted. This truth of Christian Faith is expressed by the teaching of the Council of Trent. "Let no one be so rash as to assert that which the Fathers of the Council have placed under anathema, namely, that there are precepts of God impossible for the just to observe. God does not ask the impossible, but by His commands, instructs you to do what you are able, to pray for what you are not able that He may help you."

Encyclical Casti Connubii (on Christian Marriage) Pope Pius XI, 1930. Paragraphs 54, 56, 61

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Birmingham Oratory Prayer Chain

Please say the following prayer daily for the intentions of:

- The health and welfare of the community of the Birmingham Oratory of St Philip Neri
- The continuity of the tradition established by Blessed John Henry Newman
- The safe return of the three Birmingham Oratorians in absentia
    Look down from heaven, Holy Father, from the loftiness of that mountain to the lowliness of this valley; from that harbour of quietness and tranquillity, to this calamatious sea.

    And now that the darkness of this world hinders no more those benignant eyes of thine from looking clearly into all things, look down and visit, O most diligent keeper, that vineyard which thy right hand planted with so much labour, anxiety, and peril.

    To thee, then, we fly; from thee we seek for aid; to thee we give our whole selves unreservedly; thee we adopt for our patron and defender.

    Undertake the cause of our salvation, protect thy clients; to thee we appeal as our leader, rule thine army fighting against the assaults of the devil; to thee, kindest of rulers, we give up the rudder of our lives, steer this little ship of thine, and, placed as thou art on high keep us off all the rocks of evil desires, and with thee for our pilot and our guide we may safely come to the port of eternal bliss. Amen.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Newman on the Mass

    Many people look at the Latin Mass and think it absolutely pointless and unintelligible. A common criticism of the Mass pre-Vatican II was that it was rushed and garbled. I must say that because the Latin Mass is only said nowadays by Priests who love and cherish it, there is undoubtedly greater care taken in observing the Rite. Perhaps previous abuses were part of the problem resulting in wholesale reform?

    However, Blessed John Henry Newman provides his own enthusiastic analysis of this criticism in his work of fiction Loss and Gain. When asked by his sceptical Protestant friend, in a final attempt at dismissing Romanism, how he could justify the garbled Mass, when it was said in a manner which ignored the presence or even understanding of the congregation, the zealous Catholic answers:

    " will be faith which will enable you to bear the ways and usages of Catholics, which else might perhaps startle you. Else, the habits of years, the associations in your mind of a certain outward behaviour with real inward acts of devotion, might embarrass you, when you had to conform yourself to other habits, and to create for yourself other associations...
    "to me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses for ever, and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words,—it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and devils tremble. This is that awful event which is the scope, and is the interpretation, of every part of the solemnity. Words are necessary, but as means, not as ends; they are not mere addresses to the throne of grace, they are instruments of what is far higher, of consecration, of sacrifice. They hurry on as if impatient to fulfil their mission. Quickly they go, the whole is quick; for they are all parts of one integral action. Quickly they go; for they are awful words of sacrifice, they are a work too great to delay upon; as when it was said in the beginning, 'What thou doest, do quickly.' Quickly they pass; for the Lord Jesus goes with them, as He passed along the lake in the days of His flesh, quickly calling first one and then another. Quickly they pass; because as the lightning which shineth from one part of the heaven unto the other, so is the coming of the Son of Man. Quickly they pass; for they are as the words of Moses, when the Lord came down in the cloud, calling on the Name of the Lord as He passed by, 'The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.' And as Moses on the mountain, so we too 'make haste and bow our heads to the earth, and adore.' So we, all around, each in his place, look out for the great Advent, 'waiting for the moving of the water.' Each in his place, with his own heart, with his own wants, with his own thoughts, with his own intention, with his own prayers, separate but concordant, watching what is going on, watching its progress, uniting in its consummation;—not painfully and hopelessly following a hard form of prayer from beginning to end, but, like a concert of musical instruments, each different, but concurring in a sweet harmony, we take our part with God's priest, supporting him, yet guided by him. There are little children there, and old men, and simple labourers, and students in seminaries, priests preparing for Mass, priests making their thanksgiving; there are innocent maidens, and there are penitent sinners; but out of these many minds rises one eucharistic hymn, and the great Action is the measure and the scope of it... And you ask me whether this is not a formal, unreasonable service—it is wonderful! Quite wonderful. When will these dear, good people be enlightened? O Sapientia, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia, O Adonai, O Clavis David et Exspectatio gentium, veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster."

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    New LMS website

    The Latin Mass Society Head Office have overhauled their website which can be found at the memorable address of It features an improved interactive map of all the Latin Masses in the country, so that wherever you may be you can see at a glance where the nearest one is. As well as all the usual features and resources, there is lots to explore, with updated photo galleries linked into the new Flickr environment.

    There are exciting new links to umbrella organisations; the Gregorian Chant Network and the Society of St Tarcisius, which is a new Sodality of Altar Servers trained exclusively in the Extraordinary Form.

    Tuesday, November 02, 2010

    Melanie Martin Photography

    Click on the title above to go to a fabulous photographer's web-page. If you are considering some photos for anything special, forget the studio and go to Mel! You will not regret it!

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    All saints

    ALL SAINTS- white, first class feast

    Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
    And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blesses are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.
    Todays Gospel and image from my 'invaluable' 1962 missal, full of so much of the 'treasures and richness' of The Church.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    A Gardeners Lament

    Absolute kudos to Pat Bilton for this little poem published in the latest issue of The Pug Dog Club Bulletin (Autumn 2010). To illustrate our solidarity, I have illustrated it with some photos of our own! Enjoy:

    I used to have a lovely lawn with stripes from end to end,

    when people called, I really could, on compliments depend.

    But that was several years before, I'm afraid to say, my lawn's no more.

    'But why?' you ask, 'What did occur?' two stubborn balls of puggy fur.

    They saw that lawn, without ado, and claimed it as a puggy loo!

    So, my aspirations fade, I've had to let them pass

    and face the fact, my once lush lawn is now just puggy grass!!

    - Pat Bilton

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Louis' stay in Hospital

    It is quite a shock to have a little child of mine in hospital. It doesn't make it any easier being a Doctor and being able to understand things. The striking thing is how much suffering it causes for us parents; being in an unusual place, out of one's comfort zone. The sense of being out of control is overwhelming. Mummy hasn't been off the ward in 36 hours, and must be feeling cabin fever! All of this to accentuate our worry and pain.

    Yet amongst all this, the little child still has a striking grin, an unbridled honesty. Consolable in his delicate state, and not seeking sympathy or false pampering. He strives for independence and expects the same things he always has.

    It's a complete microcosm. We're all thrown together amidst our own unspoken sufferings, yet united in this journey through our common human condition. This is the price of Love.

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    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Louis is Poorly

    My son Louis, now nearly 9 months old, is in hospital due to a nasty infection, commonly called croup, which has given him laboured breathing.

    Last night was pretty awful, requiring oral steroid and nebulised Adrenaline... but he's perked up a lot today remaining under close observations.

    I'm about to go home to look after his big sister (3) for the night. The children's ward is nice with a bed in his room for Mum to stay in. He's always been a very robust baby, and so such a strong reaction has really surprised us. Even with breathing being visibly such hard work for him, he remains remarkably upbeat!

    Your prayers are invaluable and we are very grateful for them, especially as we were unable to go to Mass today. Tonight, Day 3, is notoriously the peak of the illness so we hope things won't deteriorate too much tonight, when the croup inevitably worsens.

    On an even more personal note, yesterday was the 13th anniversary of the death of my elder brother Damian, who was only 21. This made the whole experience all the more poignant, enough to really test one's resignation to the Lord's will. St Margaret Mary Aloque, ora pro nobis. Sacred Heart of Jesus, miserere nobis!

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    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Solemn High Requiem

    Friday 5th November 2010 at 7pm
    St John Fisher Church, 1 Cofton Road, West Heath

    Parish Priest Fr George Grynowski will this year offer our Anniversary Requiem Mass for deceased Parishioners and LMS Members. If you would like a loved one's name to be included in the Absolutions at the Catafalque, please leave as a comment.

    Last year our first High Requiem was offered at West Bromwich, and for this occasion ensemble 1685 sung a stunning renaissance setting by Jean Richafort, which was a UK first. This year they have kindly offered to return for a repeat performance, which will raise our hearts and minds to God once again.

    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.

    Please support this wonderful opportunity. Full Mass books will be provided and Frs Jan Nowotnik and Christopher Miller from neighbouring parishes will also assist as Deacon and Subdeacon.

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    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Time- remember...

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
    All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven.

    A time to be born and a time to die.

    A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

    A time to kill, and a time to heal.

    A time to destroy, and a time to build.

    A time to weep, and a time to laugh.

    A time to mourn, and a time to dance.

    A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather.

    A time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.

    A time to get, and a time to lose.

    A time to keep, and a time to cast away.

    A time to rend, and a time to sew.

    A time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

    A time of love, and a time of hatred.

    A time of war, and a time of peace.

    What hath man more of his labour? I have seen the trouble, which God hath given the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made all things good in their time, and hath delivered the world to their consideration, so that man cannot find out the work which God hath made from the beginning to the end.
    And I have known that there was no better thing than to rejoice, and to do well in this life. For every man that eateth and drinketh, and seeth good of his labour, this is the gift of God.

    I have learned that all the works which God hath made, continue for ever: we cannot add any thing, nor take away from those things which God hath made that he may be feared. That which hath been made, the same continueth: the things that shall be, have already been: and God restoreth that which is past.

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    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Great Doctor....

    St. Jerome, Confessor and Doctor of the Church
    Gospel: Matthew 5:13-19
    You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    St. Jerome Painting by Eric Armusik

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Powerful Saint: Ora pro nobis

    The Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (Michaelmas Day)
    Gospel: Matthew 18:1-10
    At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them, And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven. And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals. For it must needs be that scandals come: but nevertheless woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh. And if thy hand, or thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to go into life maimed or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Welcome Holy Father!

    The excitement about the Holy Father being in the United Kingdom is immense! Our family have been watching it on our home projector and following every movement and word of Pope Benedict XVI on his historic visit to our country. The last time a Pope came to this country was in 1982, when I was still a baby in South Africa, and Wendy was a baby only Louis' age with her big sister being shown the event by her mother on the television. This visit is of national importance, and not just for Catholics but for everyone.

    Wendy Receiving
    The top photo is from the Holy Father's first day as Pope, having been elected in 2005. I remember this time so vividly because we were closely following this on the television too. During that time, of the death of Pope John Paul II and his successor's election, it was only a week after Wendy had been received into the Catholic Faith from Anglicanism. A year later, in Easter 2006, Wendy's mother followed suit. It was therefore most interesting to have us all together this evening, watching the Holy Father meet Dr Rowan Williams, and take part in joint Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey and pray before the tomb of St Edward the Confessor, the great King of England. The Holy Father chose to reinterate the fact that he is the successor of St Peter, and charged with the task keeping Christendom unified. I see this unity as flowing from full Catholic Doctrine and Apostolic Tradition. Unfortunately, having chosen to reject the authority of the Pope, the Church of England has progressively fallen deeper into confusion, to the point where their Primate, the 'Archbishop of Canterbury', has no hope of keeping in unity his own communion, let alone striving for deeper unity with the rest of Christendom.

    We have tickets to wait outside the Birmingham Oratory when the Holy Father comes there on Sunday. This is particularly exciting for us since it will be immediately after the Beatification of John Henry Newman, who we have been devoted towards for the last five years since the same 'Kindly Light' led Wendy towards the Church. It is unfortunate that his example is now being distorted to present him as a Patron of Conscientious Objection from the Church's teaching, as well as Homosexuality, and even Ecumenism. None of these agendas accurately reflects Newman's legacy, but as long as it is in the full glare of media attention, this is an inevitable drawback. History will surely see him, and the English Oratory, in its proper light, despite the short-term silence and lack of voice for the Truth.
    Serving Mass in the Chapel
    now dedicated to Newman
     So this coming Sunday afternoon, unfortunately during a period of night-shifts for me (starting tonight), we will be showing our support for the Holy Father outside our beloved Oratory, and cheering his arrival. We will also have the opportunity of being some of the first pilgrims after the Pope to pray in the newly renovated Shrine to Blessed John Henry Newman; a chapel previously remembered by us with fondness when it was dedicated to St Philip Neri, and when Fr Philip Cleevely used to say private Mass there with our noisy family in attendence!

    If everything happens as it has so far, the support for the Holy Father in Birmingham will be immense. We have a wonderful Catholic History in this Archdiocese, and a large Catholic Population which has swelled in recent years to include lots of Eastern Europeans. We are honoured to have the Vicar of Christ here to celebrate it with us! And perhaps he will stop his Popemobile to bless a few more babies!

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    EWTN coverage of the Holy Fathers visit to UK

    IRONDALE, AL (August 18, 2010) - EWTN Global Catholic Network will provide live coverage of every public event during Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to England and Scotland Sept. 16-19, numerous original productions on the life and works of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified by the Pope during his visit, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

    Coverage will be seen and heard on all nine EWTN Television Networks worldwide, and can be heard in English, Spanish, French and German; on EWTN Radio Network, and at through live streaming video. (Find EWTN Television at and EWTN Radio at or on Sirius Satellite Channel 160.)

    Special live coverage will be provided by EWTN News Anchor Raymond Arroyo, who has covered more papal events than anyone in the industry and who obtained the only English language interview in existence today with the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. (Contact EWTN to arrange an interview.)

    “To my mind, this visit to the U.K. is to Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy what Pope John Paul II’s visit to Poland was to his,” said “World Over” Host Raymond Arroyo, who will anchor EWTN’s coverage. “Not enough attention is being paid to the historicity of this seismic moment.”

    EWTN’s coverage of these events will include exclusive interviews with Deacon John “Jack” Sullivan, who prayed to Newman for healing after watching a series on the saint on EWTN and whose resulting miracle is responsible for Newman’s beatification; Cormack Murphy O’Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster, who worked tirelessly behind-the-scenes to make this papal trip possible; Lord David Alton, a member of Parliament, who will discuss the government’s view of the trip and what Catholics can expect; Westminster’s current Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams, and many others!

    You’ll also travel to the Birmingham Oratory and the rooms in which Newman lived and worked; Westminster Hall, where St. Thomas More was condemned to death; the Guild Chapel and much more.

    EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 30th year, is available in 160 million television households in 140 countries and territories. With its direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.


    It also looks like there is live coverage via the official papal visit website.

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

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Raynet on Patrol

    Louis' Grandad is a member of Raynet and has been on patrol today for radio cover at the jumbo run, which is a charity event where 30 disabled children are given a day out in motorcycle sidecars!

    A Fond Farewell

    A successful retreat came to an end with over 30 weekend delegates saying goodbye after a hearty meal at the Rowbarge pub in Woolhampton. I haven't mentioned the social side of the Young Catholic Adults Retreat, which is invaluable in this secular and oppressive world we live in. For young Catholics who are both doctrinally and liturgically conservative, it is nice to be in company which is not threatening or stifling, allowing free conversation to flourish.

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    Douai Missa Cantata

    The weekend with Young Catholic Adults ends with a Sung Mass for this Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. We learn from the Gospel the importance of humility and are sent back to our respective homes with the mission to love God and neighbour in our everyday lives having benefited from this spiritual retreat.

    It has been an excellent retreat with an opportunity for lots of young Catholics to get together and share the Faith, undiluted and with full orthodoxy, and expressed in its traditional way through the Latin liturgy and devotions.

    This is an example of youthful faith which many Catholics in this country would do well to look upon, as the future of the Faith has such fervent and lively carriers of Sacred Tradition.

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    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Douai Adoration

    The source and summit of the Christian Faith is the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ, the Emmanuel "God is with us". It is not only the sacrament of sacraments, but God's love in action as a transforming power of Grace not only in the species but also in our life.

    Tonight at the Juventutem Retreat, Exposition, Adoration and Benediction takes place in the little Parish Church of Our Lady. It is a special way to end such a wonderful day, and a good way also to see in Sunday.

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    Douai Conference

    Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, the retreat giver for this weekend's international Juventutem conference, has been giving us intricate teachings of the Holy Mass and it's spirituality. There are many unique aspects of the Extraordinary Form, but of course all his theological exposition applies to the Mass as a whole. This afternoon's conference brought us to the Canon, which is like ascending Calvary up to the point of the consecration. As well as taking us through the individual prayers, we were helped to understand more about the double consecration of bread and wine which makes the sacrament a visible representation of the separation of body and blood which took place at the sacrificial death of Christ. As the risen Christ being made actually present, is an efficacious and divine manner, we have present the whole body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ under either species, distributed to faithful only in the form of bread as a precaution against accidental spillage (something I have regrettably seen happen once before).

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    Douai Solemn High Mass

    A striking feature about Douai Abbey, in the pleasant Berkshire countryside, is the way one encounters a grand modern facade which practically spills out into the world beyond the Monastery.

    The community have a noble history, originating as an English community of Benedictines in 17th Century Paris, to escape the Protestant persecutions. Later, during the French revolution, they fled and settled in Douai, France. For centuries they trained future martyrs who died for their Faith, ministering to a recusant Catholic England, giving them the simple Tridentine Mass as sustenance.

    In brief, following Catholic emancipation, the community of Douai returned to England in 1903 and settled in Woolhampton it's present location. Originally they used the old parish church (above) which YCA are using this weekend for most liturgy, but eventually they began building the neo-Gothic Abbey Church of Our Lady & St Edmund designed by Birmingham architect J. Arnold Crush.

    The Abbey Church was not completed according to it's original design, and the nave was completed in an altogether different style.

    It is an interesting contrast, and one which the Solemn High Mass today made stark, the first of it's kind at the free-standing altar, set at the building's architectural divide between secular and Divine.

    The West Midlands based choir, ensemble 1685, sang a magnificent polyphonic Mass setting by Palestrina under the direction of Richard Jeffcoat. They will be singing again soon for the LMS Birmingham's annual Solemn Requiem on November 5th at West Heath.

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