Sunday, 6 July 2014

Bloggers block...

It is "University Sunday" today.  Well, the Introit at Mass starts with the lines from Ps 26: Dominus illuminatio mea (the Lord is my light) and that is the motto of an ancient seat of learning not too far from here.

My grandfather (who was a graduate from said dump) gave me his bookstand which has these words written on it as part of the crest, and this graces my desk as you can see below.  [I was too lazy to even consider applying to this seat of learning, and so attended an ancient in the distant North that only required grade C's at A'level]


Yes, the Lord is my light.  How important those words are.  And somehow, like many others out there on the interwebs, I'm not getting the light to blog much.  And yes, I do wonder why this is.

For me there seem to be several, not unconnected reasons:

  • Real life is just too damn hard right now.
  • Part of the reason why real life is hard is that I love the Church so much and I'm increasingly finding I'm being called upon to give witness to that love.  This is demanding, intense and rooted in prayer and silence and not really stuff I can blog about.  This witness to the faith seems to be the result of an ever growing spiritual battle for the Truth.  The windows, doors, skylights and coal bunkers of the Church are well and truly open, all sorts of stuff is sniffing around. ... Metaphorically speaking, I feel like I'm having to guard the ancient books, silks and silver ware from intruders who don't understand its use! (And I don't think I'm alone in feeling like this)
  • The Traddies, for the large part seem to have lost the plot.  There is no spiritual nourishment amongst them.  There is too much kvetching about the current papacy.  They are boring me.  It is all "toys out of the pram" with them.  Blogging does not exist in a vacuum, one needs some sort of intellectual illumination to inspire one....  increasingly I find I'm just on the blogs to try to get people to wake up and reconnect with their faith, but increasingly I'm wondering if they had any in the first place.  There is no humour, no gentleness, and little that illuminates out there.
  • It simply isn't a papacy that is intellectual in any way what so ever.  Previously, somebody on the blogs would pick up on something the Holy Father had said (usually an erudite clerical blogger), produce an inspiring meditation on it, and the fruits of this would nourish other bloggers and their posting for weeks.  We're not getting that right now.  Whilst the inspirations of the liturgical year remain our common ground, there was something more immediately "blogfriendly" about responding to papal utterances, some sort of Catholic bonding was taking place.  Now there are simply too many words and too many gestures; some careless, some profound, some too easy to become infuriated with.  The times do not inspire careful, insightful, holy blogging... 
  • When I try to write sometimes, I feel like I'm repeating myself.  I've said all I want to say about about certain issues, especially pertaining to human sexuality, and as this issue comes up again and again and people like Voris are not helpful, and there appears to be little solid guidance from Rome, it is not for me to keep banging the drum for orthodoxy on the net, I've got a life to live, this battle is being fought in the very classrooms where I teach and the streets where I live and amongst those I'm close to and love. Dominus illuminatio mea.... too right!
  • Real life is just too damn hard right now...
But out there, well away from the Tradski's there are green shoots emerging, a fresh flourishing of good inspiring posts is happening and good luck to those bloggers....  

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

we're all doomed!... yay!

Few things get me as wound up as when someone belittles the "medieval mind" as being somehow primitive.  It happened recently at school and it set me thinking.

It was the school debating competition and one of the motions was "This house believes we are all doomed".  The proposition was weak and the opposition very strong.  The gist of the opposition's argument was as follows:

  • doom is an outdated concept, just look at all those medieval doom paintings; heaven and hell and all that.
  • eternal punishment was just there to scare people
  • we have a chance to make the world a better place
  • whilst we have hope in the future and we have hope in humanity we are not doomed 
They won.

But there was me thinking, my dear if your were a Catholic, you'd be a heretic.  I also thought that the argument seems so plausible, how to fight it as a Catholic?  #weredoomedgetoverit  perhaps?

Had I been a pupil and been able to attack the opposition, my argument may have gone something like this:

  • We're doomed: nature dooms us through decay, death and destruction
  • as individuals we die, 
  • the planet won't go on forever, it could be hit by a very large asteroid, the greenhouse effect could go out of control, there could be a devastating ice age, super volcanoes could erupt
  • in 6.5 billion years sun will be a white dwarf and incapable of providing enough energy to sustain life anywhere in the solar system, sounds like doom to me
  • if we make it that far, we'd have to have survived the collision of our galaxy, the Milky Way with Andromeda in 4 billion years time and the unknown effects that would have on our existence.
  • We're doomed: history dooms us.  We can not make the world a better place.  Each age has its own evils.  One evil is defeated and several more spring up in its place.
  • We're doomed; religion dooms us.  BUT the doom that you decry so much as shown in those medieval doom paintings, that stark choice is IS OUR ONLY HOPE. Nature offers no hope, humanity's hope is empty if not seen in the wider context of the Creator who sustains us.
  • We're doomed either to Hell: you send yourself there though your lack of desire to be transformed by love, through the vanity of your self-protection at all costs,  through selfishness, pride and the ugliness of your hatred and intolerance.
  • Or Heaven: allow yourself to be transformed by love, see where Love takes you, follow Christ and He will show you...
  • You see, doom is hope.  Live in that hope because of the doom.  We are all doomed, get over it!
Yes, I fear the 4 last things desperately need some "rebranding"or the message of our faith will be lost in a sea of righteous humanism.  My effort is paltry, but I think it is something we should all be working on....

Over to you....

The Doom window at St Mary's Fairford- Gloucestershire

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Paraclete

Bl John Henry Newman on the Paraclete, the Fount of Love

My God, I adore Thee, as the Third Person of the Ever Blessed Trinity, under the name and designation of Love.  Thou art that Living Love, wherewith the Father and the Son love each other.  And Thou art the Author of all supernatural love in our hearts - Fons vivus, ignis charitas. As a fire, Thou didst come down from heaven on the day of Pentecost; and as a fire Thou burnest away the dross of sin and vanity in the heart and dost light up the pure flame of devotion and affection.  It is Thou who unitest heaven and earth by showing to us the glory and beauty of the Divine Nature, and making us love what is in Itself so winning and transporting.  I adore Thee, O uncreated and everlasting Fire, by which our souls live, by which alone they are made fit for heaven.





Iglesia del EspĂ­ritu Santo- Ronda (Malaga)
(One of my favourite churches and a spot where my heart rests)

Monday, 2 June 2014

wake up, smell the incense!

Dear friends of a traditionalist persuasion,

Have we forgotten that rallying cry? Have we forgotten the joy that the rediscovery of our lost heritage and tradition has brought us?  What is wrong with us?  Is our faith that shallow that we really think it is under threat?  If so, then we are a disgrace to all we hold dear, we should be filled with joy, and we should be letting the world see our joy.  More specifically we should let the Holy Father see our joy,
  • bombard  the Holy Father with pictures of smiling youth on the Chartres pilgrimage and invite him next year
  • write to him saying how happy you are since you found the faith and live orthodox lives supported by the solid church doctrine and how happy you are that you can go to the EF Mass (this is especially important if you are under 40)
  • if you can, and you have the evidence, write to him saying how the FFI have brought you such joy in Christ through your contact with them and give examples.
  • show him the fruits of your faith in your happy children and the charitable work you do
And whilst I'm a little uncomfortable at my equating of joy with happiness, being miserable and kvetching and thinking you are persecuted and being unhappy about it, are not part of the faith.  If you think you are being persecuted from within the church, show some joy and be charitable to your persecutor.

Cheerfulness is so important, for starters the devil can't stand it, and there is no better reason than that to be cheerful, as he's always on the prowl.  Let us show the world that we can "out happy" the pope, or at least match him.  Being cheerful is appealing, it is good and it is also a very wise thing to be.

St Philip, pray for us.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Dear St Rita

Dear St Rita,

You are a marvel!  The White Queen in Alice Through the Looking Glass talked about believing six impossible  things before breakfast.  With the aid of your intercession we can achieve six impossile things before breakfast. AMDG

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

Alice and the White Queen

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Grumpy Cat-holic

Hi Gang,

I thought my last post would be my last post for a very long while, but I'm back.  I'd become really fed up with the Catholic blog world and in particular I'd found myself increasingly frustrated by the whole Protect the Pope saga; I disliked that blog almost as much as I dislike Catholic Church Conservation and  Rorate Caeli.  I struggled to see any merits in it whatsoever.  But I seemed to be in a very small minority and then all the carping about +Campbell just about finished me off.  We don't treat our Bishops like that and call ourselves Catholics.

The phrase I like is "critical solidarity" when it comes to the hierarchy of the Church and permit me to indulge in a bit of that right now, it is the reason for this post.

Joseph Shaw has a good piece on Cardinal Kaspar and the giving of Communion to those in "irregular" relationships. http://www.lmschairman.org/2014/05/cardinal-kaspar-replies-to-his-critics.html

What I found worrying about the Cardinal's words is what he says about those who live heroically as "brother and sister" as a consequence of a previously failed relationship:

To live together as brother and sister? Of course I have high respect for those who are doing this. But it’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian.

 I'm afraid I find the phrase "average Christian" deeply offensive.  We have all been called to be saints, we have all been called to a life of heroic virtue.  I'm left wondering if he really loves us, because he doesn't sound very ambitious for us.  We're just Jo and Joanna Average and heroic virtue is beyond us.  Has he forgotten the Holy Spirit?

Then I mooch over to Fr Ray Blake's blog and find out there are moves to have Paul VI beatified later this year. http://marymagdalen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/blessed-paul-vi.html I'm increasingly of the opinion that NO POPES should be beatified or canonised PERIOD.  So a Pope does what he's supposed to do and defends Church teaching at a time when it was seriously under threat. Yes, that takes great heroic virtue granted, but he is only doing what was asked of him by Christ. Are we to canonise every Pope who does not errr, who does not flinch from duty, who states Church teaching as it is, was and ever shall be? Find me a Pope who has not done this?  There may even be a cause for Alexander VI, I'm being serious. Surely the Church in Her modesty should never canonise Her Chief Steward (Martyrdom notwithstanding) it nearly sounds like nepotism.

And then I start to like the two posts together, Joseph Shaw's and Fr Ray Blake's and I start to get grumpy.  It is almost as if we the flock, are not considered capable of holiness or considered capable of being shepherded towards holiness.  Yet Popes somehow exude holiness and somehow we should build up cults around them as if they existed as some unobtainable odour of sanctity, not for imitation but for admiration.

Bleurgh, this sounds horribly like CLERICALISM at its worst.

 

Monday, 5 May 2014

oculos habent et non videbunt

It is so easy to see the faults in others, especially when they err in matters of orthodoxy.  It is so easy to get annoyed when such souls seem to have the official backing of the Church. Perhaps they are writing in Catholic newspapers, perhaps they are not receiving censure for things that sound like heresy, perhaps they are living openly scandalous lives, perhaps they have made very public statements or contributed towards policies that contravene Church teaching.... and yet the Church does nothing.  We get frustrated, we want the Church to change, we want the Church to be like our vision of the Church that we had and fleetingly enjoyed with other like-minded souls.  We had seen how the Church should be, we are the keepers of what is right, our little vision is the correct one.

And so we build ourselves a little self-help community of online criticism and even vitriol against people who can't defend themselves.  We analyse the writings of others to death showing how wrong they are and how clever we are.  We get all nostalgic over our little vision.  We feed each other with horror stories about how terrible others are who don't share our vision: how they dishonour God, how they hurt the Church. We then start thinking perhaps the nutters may be onto something and the end-times are just around the corner.

We should be VERY uncomfortable about all of this.  It is we who have forgotten God.  Like the polyester clad, Kung-loving visionary from the 1970s the Old Rite loving visionary of a few years back has made a god out of their version of the Church.  The former has made a god out of "a changing Church", the latter has made a god out of "orthodoxy". 

Idols need feeding to exist.
Idols demand allegiance.
Idols are jealous of rivals.
Idolatry dries up the heart.
Idolatry drives out charity.
Idolatry makes you as blind as the idol you worship.

Orthodoxy isn't the end of everything, Christ IS. God doesn't need us to be little warriors of orthodoxy.  He wants us to be soldiers for Christ.  We skimp not on matters on doctrine and dogma.  We remain 100% loyal to Church teaching, the orthodoxy ought to be tattooed onto our hearts.  It is our weapon.

But if your orthodoxy comes from and through Christ, be prepared to suffer. Be prepared to be ridiculed.  Be prepared to lose your friends.  Be prepared to be alone (in Christ).  Be prepared to be vulnerable.  Be gentle. Be patient. Love the idolaters. Weep and mourn.  And if your orthodoxy does come from God and is not an idol of your own making, you will be able to do all of this with joy, and what that is no man can tell.

Toodle pip......

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Synthesis

I've always thought the Divine Mercy devotions to be a fine thing and St Faustina is a saint I am very fond of.  What I couldn't quite fathom is why Divine Mercy Sunday had to be positioned where it is, what is the specific connection between this feast and Easter?  However, I think I've fathomed it out and this comes from now being nearly completely immersed in the older rite, both for the Mass and for the Office.  It is the older rite which makes sense of positioning the Feast of Divine Mercy and not the newer rite.  Hence the title of this post, synthesis; a new feast and the old liturgy.

Let me explain.

In the older form of the liturgy, epistle for Easter Sunday is also the lesson in the Office for the whole of  the Easter Octave, it is 1 Cor 5: 7-8

Brethren, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened: for Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed.  Therefore let us feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 On first reading this I was puzzled.  It is not the most exuberently joyous thing St Paul ever wrote so what makes it fit the season?  I was puzzled by the emphasis on purging.  Surely that was Lent, surely the purging is over?  The context of this bit of Paul is scary stuff.  He is talking about excommunicating an adulterer from the brethren and delivering him "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh".  This seems so very terrible until you see that excommunication is actually an act of mercy.  If somebody is no longer within the Church, it is up to God alone to judge them (as St Paul goes on to explain at the end of this chapter).  If the serious sinner remains in the Church he can cause no end of damage to the Body of Christ, corrupting it terribly.  This will bring down a very heavy judgement from on high as it mocks the sacrifice of Our Lord. Bishops have to exert their office of binding and losing.  A certain amount of judging has to go on, some people should be excommunicated if there is any chance of saving their souls. St Paul is clear on this and we ought to listen to him.  It is a last resort and the faithful, through their prayers can do much to prevent things reaching this sorry state.

So purging during the Easter Octave, what is it all about?  Well, hopefully we have had a good Lent and have purified ourselves, by the grace of God.  We are now in a position to purify the Church through our prayers and remove all traces of the old, corrupting leaven, this is our new purge. To be like Christ is to enter into eternal life with Him and to have no mark of decay. Yeast is a fungus and therefore feeds on decay.  It is not part of our new life.  The leaven must be removed, sin in the Church must be rooted out and this is the very week when we are most cleansed and most able to assist in this act through our prayers.

And how do we purge the Church?  Well, surely it is through the priestly prayers to the Divine Mercy that we, the priesthood of all believers can make. It is not for us to go bringing down judgement on the sinners known to us in the Chruch (unless any Bishops are reading this), but it is very much up to us to pray to God for His Mercy on those individuals who break our hearts through their sinfulness or cause public scandal.  The more we can do this, the purer our hearts and the more the Truth will be manifest within the Church.

The Love of God is the flower - Mercy is the fruit

Divine Mercy, gushing forth from the bosom of the Father,
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, greatest attribute of God,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, incomprehensible mystery,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, fount gushing forth from the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, unfathomed by any intellect, human or angelic,
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, from which wells forth all life and  happiness,
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, better than the heavens,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, source of miracles and wonders,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy. encompassing the whole universe,
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, descending to earth in the Person of the Incarnate Word,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, which flowed out from the open wound of the Heart of Jesus,
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, enclosed in the Heart of Jesus for us, and especially for sinners,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, unfathomed in the institution of the Sacred Host
I trust in you
Divine Mercy, in the founding of Holy Church
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, in our justification through Jesus Christ
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, accompanying us through our whole life
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, embracing us especially at the hour of death
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, endowing us with immortal life
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, accompanying us every moment of our life
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, shielding us from the fire of hell,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy in the conversion of hardened sinners
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, astonishment for Angels, incomprehensible to Saints
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, unfathomed in all the mysteries of God
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, lifting us out of every misery,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, source of our happiness and joy,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, in calling us from nothingness to existence
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, embracing all the works of His hands,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, crown of all of God's handiwork,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, in which we are all immersed,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, sweet relief for anguished hearts,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, only hope of despairing souls,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, repose of hearts, peace amidst fear,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, delight and ecstacy of holy souls,
 I trust in you
Divine Mercy, inspiring hope against all hope,
 I trust in you

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence sumbit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

O, incomprehensible and limitless Mercy Divine,
To extol and adore You worthily, who can?
Supreme attribute of Almighty God,
You are the sweet hope for sinful man.

St Faustina's praises of the Divine Mercy.




Monday, 21 April 2014

Catholick schools (part 2)

Catholick schools (part 2)
Lessons from History

Below is a copy of the rules for the Jesuit school in Fenchurch St dating from about 1720.  It is worth expanding and having a read:
It can also be found at the bottom of this achived edition of the Tablet (when it was kosher) from 1916  http://archive.thetablet.co.uk/article/23rd-september-1916/28/a-jesuit-free-school-in-london-x688
It seems to me to be quite inspiring: a school to teach youth vertue and learning, to be gratis, to be non-selective and to be non-proselytising.  One assumes the catchment for this school would not have come from the upper echelons of society and indeed any Protestant who did send their boy there would have done so either because he was a dissenter and not welcome in an Established school or else, the boy was not smart enough for the Grammar schools.

There is a real sense from reading this that the Jesuit schools were necessary. They were founded to do good work and that that good work was utterly Catholic in outlook and execution.

The question must be asked,  do Catholic schools today do something similar, do they provide something that can't be had elsewhere?

These days people praise the examination results that Catholic schools get and indeed this is the main reason why they are popular.  To me this is a poor excuse for a school.  So, we can train the pupils to "jump through a series of hoops" and pass examinations.... this isn't learning.  They are not being taught how to learn and to love learning, they are being instructed in a skill and a fairly valueless one at that.  (Sorry, jaded teacher writing this, there are times when I detest my job).

People are attached to church schools because of morals and discipline and a vague sense that they can provide something for the child that can't be got at home, namely a grounding in the spiritual life. Again this is a poor excuse for a school. Unless the catechising is thoroughly Catholic, it is worse than useless.  But if Catholic schools are the sole meagre fayre of light weight spirituality, the only look-in that God gets in the child's life, then better that than nothing, I suppose..... (what a depressing argument).

What I like about this poster is that the school puts expectations on the pupils; to turn up, to be decently clad and to behave. This seems to be what is missing from the education system at large right now.  Instead teachers are a service providers in a market economy and are judged under those remits. The expectations seem to be mainly on the teachers and it is they who are measured and judged and told how to do their job, incessantly.

No I still can't decide whether on balance Catholic schools are a good thing or a necessary thing in the UK these days, the view out the classroom window is decidedly different to what it was in 1720.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Catholick Schools (part 1)

Catholick Schools: Part 1
I Blame the Teacher

It's my turn to have a meander through the murky waters of Catholic Education and the vexed question of "what is the point?".

Every time I've found myself teaching at a Catholic school I've said to myself "never again".  They leave me very uncomfortable because they all lie and do not live up to their mission statements. At root, they are embarrassed by the Second Person of the Trinity and turn Him into some good guy who gave us a good example.  Basically they are heretical. Normally I wouldn't care if a school lived up to its mission statement or not, but if that mission concerns Christ, then it ought to be taken very seriously indeed.

In the end I've spent all but 5 of my years as a teacher in Catholic establishments, and I don't know why I go back.  Perhaps it is the ease of employment, you can hear the interview panel's collective brain swing into action: wow you can teach Physics and "double wow" you are a practising Catholic who on the face of it doesn't look like a complete nutter, that must be a good thing, I'm sure you will be very useful to us....!

Blessed John Henry Newman said that the conversion of this country will be achieved through an educated laity.  That's us, all my non-clerical readers!  Are our schools set up to foster an educated laity?  Are our schools staffed by an educated laity?  The answer to both these questions is a resounding no.  I will not go into the reasons why, as they are self-evident to anyone who has been near a Catholic school in recent years.  You see, I really don't think Bl JHN had adults with certificates from Heythrop or ever Maryvale in mind when he talked about an educated laity.  It isn't about pieces of paper, it isn't about qualifications in "professional catholicism" *bleurgh*. It IS about being confident in one's faith, it is about being known to be a Catholic and it is about being a convincing witness to that faith.

I am reminded of a very good sermon I heard a few months back about us being "the salt of the earth". I do think us Catholic teachers should be just that.  Too intense and we are an emetic and a complete turn-off.  Too little and we have no effect.  Just enough and we enhance what is happening with a clarity that is uniform (salt always tastes the same) and leave the appetite craving a bit more.  The schools themselves can't do this.  It is not something an establishment can achieve.  It is a small but significant body of individuals within the organisation which will determine the true experience of Catholicism for the rest of the school.  And I'll put money on them not being part of the senior management and rarely within the RE department.

So, what I'm trying to say is that if you find yourself as a Catholic teaching in any school, live like you are one, be known as one.  It is amazing the number of pupils who'll pop their heads round your door during lunch time as say something like "Miss, you're a Catholic, what's your view on....", the success of your response is that they go away saying "Hmm, that does make sense...".  You see our faith IS the most sensible thing they will ever hear, don't be frightened by it.  The Truth is irresistible, they many not desire to follow it, but it will get them thinking.

To me there is just one golden rule to teaching, and if one endeavours to live by it and at the same time be known for who you are, then it will do nothing but enhance your enjoyment and fulflment within the job because it is a way of living out your faith in the job.  My golden rule is this: never tread on a child's sense of justice or you've lost them. A child may not be searching for God, but all children have an inbuilt sense of what is fair and just; work with this, you may be the only adult in their lives who does.  That you are a Catholic will then give them a good experience of how Catholics are and that is so important.

If I had children, would I send them to a Catholic school? No.  I would be too anxious about heretical assemblies, bad experiences of the Mass, a curriculum that purports to be Catholic and is anything but.  I would hope that my children would experience the company of enough well adjusted, happy Catholic adults who are my friends to give them good role models and some excitement about taking their faith into the adult world. As a parent I'd see it as my duty to instruct them in the faith and to do this with joy and enthusiasm.

Are Catholic schools needed?  I think the answer is, yes, though I'm not quite sure why... hang on for part 2, when I've completed my coursework marking.....

Apologies for spelling mistakes, I never said I was a good teacher.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Simon of Cyrene



Meditation 1:
Simon is the stranger in the crowd who took pity on the Man.  He is spotted by the tormentors who are so filled with hatred because they cannot stand to see any such sentiment.  As Simon is a foreigner and looks like a foreigner, he is an easy target for their cruelty, and is commanded by them to carry the cross amid much jeering and behaviour designed to humiliate.

Meditation 2:
The look between Simon and the Man as the cross is passed to his shoulders is a look that speaks of Love; pure and simple, penetratingly unfathomable love….It is Christ who is asking for the cross to be carried, not the soldiers.

Meditation 3:
Simon cannot comprehend the burden of the cross.  At heart he does not know what he is doing, only that his response to the Man’s suffering was pure and genuine.  He reasons that if his motives were pure, why should he mind what it is all about and he carries the burden willingly. The insults and the mockery just fill him with a sense of pride in the Man whose passion he is sharing.

Meditation 4:
As the cross starts to weary his body, Simon starts to get angry:  angry with the cruelty of the soldiers, angry with the world for its indifference, angry with men for their unremitting indifference to love.

Meditation 5
At the height of his anger, he stumbles, falls and curses the world.  The cross is returned to Jesus, who once again looks on him with such penetrating love whilst Simon himself feels a complete failure for being as base as those around him.  He is ashamed, too ashamed to follow Our Lord, he tries to blend in again with the crown but the spittle on his face and the dirt of his clothes make him feel different from those around him.  He is aware that although the burden has been removed, he will never be the same again.

Meditation 6
The burden is gone, the physical pain of carrying the cross is there.  An uneasy peace descends.  Things are definitely not right with the world yet Simon has some release from this.  In his union with Christ, he is forever changed.  He stands at a distance on Calvary, nobody even notices him now, he is completely invisible, he savours his own nothingness and is horrified by his own unworthyness, knowing that Love itself is being crucified before him. His union with Christ is strong, yet it is Christ who is now completely pierced by the burden. All Simon knows, is that from the Cross, Our Lord is asking him to hope in Him and to love Him unreservedly.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Joshua and Mercy

Joshua may not be the first figure you turn to in the Old Testament in order to understand mercy and compassion.  The Book of Joshua is bloody and violent.  However, even in his name, Joshua prefigures Jesus and there is much in the book that soberly tells us about God's love and mercy if we read it right.  To say that the God of the Old Testament is somehow different to the God of the New, that love and forgiveness are to be found only in the New is the heresy of Marcionism and must be avoided at all costs.  Christ is the same, yesterday, today, forever (Hebrews 13:8).

The musing that follows is about what Joshua teaches us with regards to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and those who openly flout heresy within the Church.

The treatment of the inhabitants of the promised land at the hand of the Israelites seems incomprehensible to us.  None were to be spared.  How can this be compassionate?  Well, God has set up a covenant with His people.  It goes without saying that God will keep his side of the covenant.  It is us, His children,  who will, left to our own devices move away from that covenant, dilute it, infiltrate it with false teaching and ideas, feeling that God is not fulfilling His side of the covenant, losing our trust in Him, turning Him into something He is not (fickle and moved by the times).  Contact with the Caananites represent that tendency within us to dilute the faith, to distort and disfigure all that is good.  It is that which we must cut out at the root.  Christ tells us as much in the New Testament too.

In chapter 9 of the Book of Joshua, along come the Gabaonites.  They, fearing for their lives, trick Joshua into sparing them.  They pretend to have travelled a long distance, to be weary and desolate, they throw themselves on the mercy of Joshua and he swears an oath before God that they will be spared. Now oaths always seem to be a bad thing in scripture (something to regret) because they must be kept. [ As an aside, surely the biblical precedents against oaths, should have been enough to make St Pius X see that getting priests to swear the Oath Against Modernism (no matter how well motivated) was a bad thing.  The backlash it created was certainly harmful and I do believe that the oath did more harm than good.  But this just goes to show that Pope's don't have to be wise to be Saints.]

The Gabaonites had deceived Joshua, but he had to spare their lives because of the oath.  They were put to the service of the Israelites, hewing wood and carrying water.

Now, Christian marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and God.  We are people of that covenant.  Holy Communion is a covenant too and it comes quite rightly with preconditions. God can't break covenants, but we in our stupidity think we can.  We cannot dilute a covenant, we can not change its essence.  If some claim that the Church is not merciful for denying certain people Communion, and therefore that the Church is out of step with God, are they not then like the Gabaonites.  Are they not therefore asking for mercy as outsiders with little understanding of the faith?  Now, will the Church, like Joshua, give them mercy and give them what they want irrespective of their motives, assuming the purity of their intentions.  Surely if She does, then the modern day Gabaonites must be willing to be at the service of the Church in the most unglamourous of ways (the hewers of wood  and carriers of water) and if they are not willing to give such service, then surely their motives must have been corrupt from the start.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The smog of unknowing

Not much going on with the old grey matter right now, I'm afraid.  This is mainly what my Lent seems to be about, it is mortification of the intellect, of curiosity and of reason that seem to be what is needed off me.  I'm too ill for fasting and nothing else seems to be a particular struggle or battle that needs to be faced.  I am naturally an inquisitive, thinky person, but it seems very important to avoid questions of the "what if?", "how?", "when?", "could?" variety. In itself it is not enough, but it is coupled to a desire to keep my eyes fixed firmly on the cross and to retain a holy trust and joy in my heart.... simple heh.....  It is kind of working as there is peace, but physically it is exhausting, one has no strength of one's own, when one mortifies that which so often keeps one going.  But tiredness and weariness can be good things, one learns patience in this state....... patience with others, patience with self and most importantly patience with God....

The author of this blog, like everyone else, can't live as a hermit, the world does impinge, it is enveloped in a thick smog of incomprehension, but somehow one has to engage with it.

I'm finally getting round to getting a new-to-me car, and oh the vanity of it all, I've gone for something that looks good and is impractical (3 doors, minuscule boot), but it is a northern European make, sturdy, safe, reliable, gimmick free and designed for tall people.... (who am I kidding!)

I'm fed up with signing into my e-mail and being faced with the image of a simpering woman in a beige jumper telling me it is better if I wash everything at 30 degrees, that I'm harming the planet if I don't.  How long will it be before washing machines wont do a boil wash?  Well,  simper away as you get horribly ill from some nasty fungal infection and bed bugs picked up from hotel towels and sheets that have only been subjected to 30 degrees.  The new moral order; totally arbitrary, with no founding on religious or natural law; telling us what is right and wrong....  E-cigarettes to be banned in public places, but  "bending over backwards" (ahem) to help with the health problems associated with promiscuity and sodomy, rather that just saying they are wrong and very harmful.

Am I the only one to mourn the passing of the tax disc?  It is a decidedly quaint perforated paper disc that tells us in the UK if the car we are looking at is fully taxed.  It is so very British, nobody else has them.  Foreign tourists have stopped me and asked me what they are, and we have struck up a good conversation.  There is the annual excitement of seeing what ingenious colour they can come up with.  There is the annual terror of not removing it as a perfect circle as you tear round those perforations.  Oh, there are so few perforations left in our lives; no more "green shield stamps", no more perforated postage stamps, soon no more tax disc!  Very sad....  And practically, if you live in an area where cars get dumped, looking at the tax disc is the first stage of ascertaining if anything suspicious is going on when you see a car hanging about that you haven't seen before.

Coursework or "controlled assessments" (as they have been rebranded), need marking.  This is just about the most irritating thing about being a teacher.  Come on Mr Gove, sort these out.  They are a pointless exercise in anxiety and hoop jumping.  As the smog of incomprehension and Saharan dust descends on this forgotten corner of Wessex, I can be quite grateful my brain has gone awol, because if I thought about what I was doing, I'd go insane.
Happy days: sticking in the latest batch of green shield stamps into the booklet as my legs stuck to the searingly hot plastic seats in the back of my dad's DAF Variomatic.



Saturday, 22 March 2014

calling a spade a spade...

A deacon is a servant of the priests and bishop to whom he is directly responsible.  He can baptise, he can witness marriages, he can officiate at funerals and burials.  He is to be a man of prayer and has the same obligations to pray the Divine Office that a priest has.  Deacons are there to support the faithful in charity and the fruits of the Holy Spirit must be manifest in their person and their actions.

Deacons are alowed to be exuberant and passionate about their faith.  Deacons ought to be committed to orthodoxy and uphold Catholic teaching at all times.  Deacons are at their best when they are men of the world, yet apart from the world, conscious of all its failings yet firm in their faith.  Deacons ought to proclaim the faith as revealed through holy scripture.  They must offer a message of hope and speak only about God's salvation in the name of Jesus Christ.  They must be resolute and steadfast in their proclamation of the truth, like Stephen and Philip. They will win souls.  They will help Holy Mother Church win the souls of those who dissent within her borders if they let God help them.

A deacon is not some modern day Papal Zouave armed with a blog.  ACTA are not the Risorgimento.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sometimes....

Sometimes I'm simply ill.

Sometimes it is more complicated than that.  There is a spiritual element to all this.  It is possible to pray and to act and for the strength to "go out" of you.  It is humbling and it is also terrifying (in a good way).....  It is all very Lenten, I feel reliant on God for everything...... I have no idea of the outcomes of what I have done, and indeed, it is best not to think of self at this time.  Direct everything to God's good purpose.

I also feel the need to share some verses of St Patrick's breastplate with you.  They're not in a form that finds its way into any sappy hymn.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak to me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me, from the snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a multitude.

I summon today, all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatory, against spells of women and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Find the whole thing. Say it, say it not just for yourself but for the whole Church.  And don't ever forget to praise God. And don't ever lose a holy terror of offending God.  And remember that the laity have the ability to overcome world, flesh and devil, through the normal means (Sacraments and prayers) of the Church.  We can not speak in the name of the Church, we have no authority to do so  But, nevertheless, there is tremendous power right there, for us to use, so use it we must.

Bossy cow, aren't I?


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

He shall give His Angels charge over thee

Sunday's Gospel has Satan quoting scripture in his temptation of Our Lord, and it is a horrid thing that he does.  Let's  not dwell on his twisted logic in using those beautiful lines from Psalm 90 for his own purposes:

He has given His Angels charge over thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, least perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone (Mt:4.1-11)

The older rite and Office go on the offencive against this vile mistreatment of Holy Scripture.  The Tract at Mass in the First Sunday of Lent is nearly the whole of Psalm 90 and the Office keeps on quoting from it all this week.  It is as if our remembrance and recitation of this Psalm is in itself a great act of exorcism against his powers. 

It is a beautiful Psalm. It is a prayer for the whole Church and so apt for Compline.

The confident and righteous psalmist speaks first, saying how his trust in the Lord has saved him from many evils (trust that was given him by God).  He then speaks to the soul in trouble, imploring him to seek refuge in the Lord also.  Telling him the Lord will save him from fear of the terror of the night (our imaginings and evil fantasies), the arrow that flieth in the day (those sudden moments of anguish and hurt as we go about our daily business), the business that walketh about in the dark (those things we do that we'd like hidden) and the noonday devil.

Ah yes, the noonday devil.  This is the most insidious of creatures.  It has no shame, it will parade itself in broad daylight because it is not there to promote those things we are ashamed of.  It seeks to erode our confidence in God, it seeks to fill us with the glare of worldly logic and whatever zeitgeist is doing the rounds, it makes us distrust God, it makes us distrust our faith, it makes us want to do rather than to contemplate, and to "do" for our own good, rather than for God, it makes us restless in  a very bad way.  The Fathers of the Church have linked the noonday demon to that most horrendous of sufferings inflicted on priests, accedie or spiritual sloth.

Yes, when you read this Psalm, pray for priests, pray as a righteous and confident soul that our priests will trust implicitly in the Lord and seek His protection.  And then when you meet our priests, behave as if you really believe this.

Pray with the  psalmist to the angels in charge of those souls in distress.  Be confident in their protection of those you love.  And if there is someone special in your life who is wavering in the faith and who you especially care for and whose soul you seek to guard, savour Christ's words to us at the end of the Psalm, this is a great act of love for that soul and will produce many blessings:

Because he has hoped in Me. I will deliver him: I will protect him because he has known my name.  He shall cry to me and I will hear him: I am with him in his trouble: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.  I will fill him with length of days: and I will show him my salvation.

Glory be.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Happy Lent

Ash Wednesday's sermon was, I suppose, my blueprint for what I will for over the next 40 days.  Normally I make a "lenten bill", and try to stick to it.  This year, illness, exhaustion and lack of inspiration meant that I approached the season completely unprepared.  Therefore what the priest said, will do.  I am not inspired by the homily, but that maybe for  the best.

I will share it with you.

Firstly, he said he would give us two rules for Lent.  The first rule came after a little story about a master who couldn't teach his disciple and demonstrated this by pouring tea into a cup whilst the disciple was talking, the tea overflowed the cup because the disciple wouldn't shut up.  The master said to his young disciple "I can't teach you whilst you are full". The first rule is, empty yourself.

The second rule was the first two words that Our Lord speaks in the Gospel passage for that day "be careful".  It seemed to be about being hidden, meeting God in your heart, being silent, being careful to keep God as the priority, and letting Him order you.....

Whilst looking for something to read, "The Cloud of Unknowing" fell off the shelf, I haven't read that since I was a postgrad reprobate, dabbling into far too much eastern mysticism and very much pre my "reversion" to the Faith.  It seems to be an appropriate thing to re-read; emptiness, unknowing, reaching way beyond self with a desire for unity with God.....

I'm finding the Church far too blathery right now. Everyone in it seems to be chatting inanely and the starlings outside my window this morning made more sense and seemed more full of the praises of God than everything I'm hearing from my fellow sinners in the Church Militant. It is definitely the time to venture beyond words and sentiment.....  yes, it's time for interior silence and emptiness, and stillness and carefulness in thought, word and deed.

I'm gloriously uninspired by all of this, but maybe that is the point. Perhaps Lent is a good time to let go of the need for inspiration, a time to grasp the emptiness of the ordinary, to give in service to others by not giving anything, but by letting yourself be given to them... an emptying of that cup so that God can fill it with His grace....


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday things

It is Saturday.  I don't know about you , dear reader, but for me Saturdays need handling with especial care.  If I am not careful Saturday night can be a shocker, as if something is out to ruin the Lord's day that follows.  Saturday can be too worldly.  Saturday can be like a faint glimmer of Holy Saturday, an empty and mischievous day, seductively "normal" and unspiritual. 

However, never forget it is Our Lady's day.  It is almost as if she held the fort whilst Our Lord was harrowing Hell on that first Holy Saturday. And she continues to hold the fort when trips have to be made to the supermarket, bathrooms need cleaning, I get preoccupied with the football, the car needs cleaning, the blather on the radio becomes so tiresome.....

Being without Original Sin, didn't mean her life was an easy one.  The flight into Egypt and the losing of the Child Jesus for three days attest to that.  That superabundance of grace meant that a superabundance of heroic virtue was expected of her.  Heroic virtue that would lead her to Calvary.  Heroic virtue that meant she could stand at the foot of the cross and not faint away. Heroic virtue that allowed her to endure her separation from her Son after the Ascension.  Heroic virtue in her care for all humanity.

I've been meditating on how her life with Jesus and Joseph in Nazareth would have strengthened her and enlarged and magnified her already Immaculate Heart.  What tiresome irritations came her way?  How did she respond to the petty things in life that she was probably subjected to?

Was she ever short changed in the market?
Did traders ever fleece her with shoddy products?
Did people lie to her?
Did other mothers say derogatory things about "her Boy"?
Did people gossip about her and Joseph?
Was there a particularly odious tax collector in Nazareth?
Was there an inexplicable and unmovable musty damp patch on the wall of Joseph's workshop?
Did they live next door to a wretched foul mouthed and obnoxious drunk?

V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R. Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.

V. Let me praise the, most holy Virgin.
R.  Give me strength against thine enemies.

Oh yes, she had enemies.  The enemies of the Immaculate Heart are our enemies too.  We have our own enemies aswell, ones that we allow to walk all over us if we don't admit to our own concupiscence.  However, it is her enemies that are the most subtle and we would do well to look out for them and imitate her response to them.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

broken and whole

I do not doubt the validity of the new Mass, I wish to make that clear.  Indeed, I believe, probably unintentionally Bugnini and his friends pulled off a masterstroke.  They "invented" a liturgy that manages to "subsist" entirely within the Catholic Church, be fully orthodox, yet embrace an "enlightenment" mind-set that should be acceptable to any protestant (provided they can come to accept the Real Presence).  It was a great act of ecumenicism, there can probably be none greater or with a greater cost, we have a "protestant friendly" liturgy, they are welcome into the fold and they will find a form of worship there that will not terrify them.  The fact that the enlightenment is bogus is neither here nor there, we will not be judged on our understanding of metaphysics, but we will be judged on our love.

One aspect of the new Mass, does however deeply distrub me and I ask for help if any of my readers can help me out with this.  I have never felt comfortable at the "ecce Agnus Dei" when the priest holds up the broken Host to the congregation, it seems especially unfortunate when a priest decides to just hold up half the Host and doesn't try to conceal its brokenness.  When I have asked priests why this is done, they say it is because scripture says so.

[In the older rite, the sacred host is broken for the comingling (and this makes sense), it is not displayed before everyone in this broken state, at the "ecce Agnus Dei" a complete Host is elevated.]

But does it actually say in scripture that Christ's body is broken for us?  Not if we read John's Gospel (19:36) For these things were done that the scripture might be fulfilled: You shall not break a bone of Him.

What about what is written in 1Cor 11:24, the earliest account of the Last Supper?  It depends on the translation you read.  In the Douay it says, This is my body which shall be delivered for you.  This do for the commemoration of me.  There is no mention of the work "broken" there.

Then I find a sermon by Mgr Knox (who is no fan of the Douay and was quite happy to go beyond the Vulgate when reserching scripture).  I read this and I am even more disturbed:

Curiously, no one can tell us with certainty what words Our Lord used when he, the first Chritsian Priest, stood there in the Cenacle offering his own flesh to his disciples. [...]  "This is my body on your behalf" - the phrase was a  mysterious one, and it was natural copyists should try to fill it out and make sense of it, some writing "my body which is being broken for you", and others "my body which is to be given up for you".  But it looks as if Our Lord simply said "my body on your behalf".

No one can deny that He broke the bread.  That is not the issue.  That the bread is broken so that we can each individualy receive in entirity, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Saviour is as it is.  I am simply disturbed that the emphasis in the new rite is on the broken and not on the whole.  And I have been disturbed even before I knew of the existence of the old rite.

When I attend the new rite, often I simply don't look.

Isn't unity everything?

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Big Bang Theory

One of my classes has been very persistent that I watch the Big Bang Theory.  I have resisted all the bribery on offer to let them show me clips from YouTube at the end of the lesson, but finally one of them has thrust the box set into my hands and told me to watch in the comfort of my own home.  They do genuinely want to find out what a "real Physicist" thinks of the show. This weekend I  obliged.

As far as I can make out, the show involves two post grad Physicist who share a flat, there is a very attractive girl across the hallway who sells cheesecake for a living.  They are extremely intelligent but socially inept and desperate for meaningful sexual encounters.  There seem to be two types of laughs available.  Firstly some very sharp one-liners that seem to be a common feature of the best of the TV shows from the States.  I like this sort of humour, where the tongue is put to good use by being completely subservient to the intellect.  Secondly there seem to be laughs at the inadequacies of the protagonists. These are mainly due high end autistic spectrum behaviour (admittedly quite common in Physicists) causing sheer incompetence when amorous feelings start to surface. I'm less keen on this type of humour and for me it simply doesn't ring true.

Casting my mind back to the time when I resided nearly exclusively in the company of Physicists I simply do not recall this level of sexual frustration.  Well certainly I didn't notice any, but perhaps that is because I'm a Physicist.  I can remember one particularly pleasant evening in an Oxbridge post graduate college (the post grad colleges have the best food). Our host was an expert in muons. Now I was at the height of my anti-fermion prejudice, bosons rocked my world and I had little interest in muons or any other type of fermion.  However I had to admit that it was mesmerising being in the company of someone who really knew his stuff, who listened to our questions and replied like to them like we were sentient beings capable of understanding what he was saying.  My colleague who was also listening intently, sighed and whispered to me, "wow, this is better than sex".  I think this was the first time a Physicist had ever actually admitted to me to having sexual experiences, well she must have done because she had two children. 



Now it has to be admitted that female physicists are a bit of a rare breed and certainly not seen as sexual beings by the male of the sub-species.  Perhaps, having my formative years in the company of men who did not view me sexually has had a deep impact on me.  I do believe that there is something very special when close friendships are formed between the sexes that are simply not sexual.  We have different ways of approaching problems, there is a complementarity between us, we are different, not sex-less, and we work very well with each other.  Sometimes I wish more people were like the Physicists I knew and were less slaves to biological urges and less obsessed with biological function and could see some underlying hidden attributes and complimentary gifts men and women bring to the world. I'm sure in the long run procreation and child rearing would be less fraught.



So no, the general premise of the show that these guys may understand the Big Bang, but are somehow stymied by and incapable of experiencing a "big bang", is not one I can go with.

****

However this is not the review I will take back to my class.....

****

And the set designers need telling that no self respecting Physicist would have periodic table t-shirts or shower curtains.  That is Chemistry; a small, unimportant backwater of science that basically relies on Physics to make it make any sense.  Physics few of them understand, because actually the Physicist don't understand it either.


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

It is just a symbol .....

I've been musing to myself on the meaning and interpretation of symbols, and how bad we are at doing this.

Here is Wikipedia on the meaning of "symbol".  It is a good enough definition.
A symbol is an object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, action, or material entity. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, or visual images and are used to convey ideas and beliefs.

Here are some symbols I've been thinking about;
  • the Pope releasing doves as a symbol of peace
  • the mandatum
  • Papal red shoes
Each of these symbols has problems associated with it:

The release of the doves
There is no peace till there is peace in men's hearts.  The doves are nothing. They stand for peace, but aren't peace and don't bring about peace.  In the same way that  Ar stands for the inert gas argon, but is not actually argon in any way shape or form.  The Holy Father could just as effectively unfurl a large bedsheet from the balcony with "peace" written on it in poster paints and scatter rose petals on the crowds.  This symbolic act does not increase the peace in the world, though it may give those watching a nice cosy glow of self satisfaction, thinking that they know about "peace".  It doesn't make the act of peace any more or less likely.  It is a more meaningless symbol than the papal red shoes.

The mandatum
I hate the mandatum.  It is a representation of the washing of the disciples' feet as told in John's gospel.  It is a symbol.  It is NOT A LITURGICAL ACT.  It can be performed anywhere by anyone in a position of power who wishes to symbolically show their humility and their service.  Wash women's feet, wash the feet of infidels, it doesn't matter, do it in prisons, in convents, it is a symbolic act and as such is very powerful. What I hate about it is that it is so hard to explain to people that it isn't liturgical, it certainly should never take place in the sanctuary which really ought to be reserved for the liturgy.  It can't be done wearing a maniple, therefore it isn't part of the Mass.  Indeed the maniple is the symbolic representation of the towel used at the last supper.  Just as the priest removes his maniple for the homily because this isn't part of the liturgy, he uses an actual towel for the mandatum because it isn't part of the liturgy.  It needs removing from the Holy Thursday Mass to be done at some other time during the day, definitely outside the sanctuary.

Papal red shoes.
A symbol of tradition, that some pontiffs have messed around with by adding buckles or braid, or discarded in favour of some other colour.  Red does serve to represent the colour of the martyrs.  Every step a pope makes is courtesy of the blood of the martyrs, and this should not be forgotten.  As such it is an effective symbol.

******
 So what about the headline I saw in the secular press recently; "Pope prays for peace".  Is this just a symbol?  It ought to be symbolic in that it ought to get us praying a swell.  The prayers are genuine and not a symbol, but the symbolic act sets an example we must follow.  Sadly so much of the world looks at the gesture and  turns it into a bit of magic, thinking well if the Pope does it, that's good that will work, God listens to him he's holy..... maybe I don't have to pray myself then 'cos he's doing it.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Archbishop Warlock and me

Readers may be aware I am a "revert" to the faith.  After a somewhat lacklustre start and no parental encouragement, I finally found "my home" with the aid of my late husband who raised me de stercore and put a somewhat aimless, underemployed reprobate on the path that has filled her with so much joy.

In my years away from the faith, one figure stood out as a figure that kept the church attractive to me and that is the figure of Archbishop Warlock.  He was visible, he was pastoral, his work with the Anglican Bishop David Sheppard seemed so very important.  Liverpool was going through a torrid time but these two figures seemed to do something very important, something cohesive and something that visibly showed the love of Christ for people.  I knew nothing about the faith, I knew nothing about Warlock, but the office for which he stood and the pastoral care the media portrayed him as having for his flock stood out for me as significant  Christian witness.

In the mid 1990s, with diminishing funds and the need for full-time, honest employment, husband and I took a trip to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral.  I found myself praying for work in the little side chapel of St Joseph where Abp Warlock is entombed.  Now I knew enough about the faith to know that praying to St Joseph for employment is a common and effective thing to do. I myself prayed before the tomb of the late Archbishop, I simply felt a connection to him and prayed before him.  Two weeks later, I had a job in a Catholic school within the archdiocese.  I'm just telling you this.  Don't please read any more into it than the bare facts.

****

I'm increasingly getting people asking me about the faith because they find Pope Francis so attractive in what does and the cheery manner in which he does it.  They are not avidly reading every last thing he writes, but they see his witness and it is attractive.

****

I am not comparing Abp Warlock to Pope Francis in any way other than to say that highly visible Christian witness is vital in bringing people into the true Church, and when it comes from the shepherds of the flock it has a terrific potency that I believe is attached to the office and not to the man himself.

So, there you have it, Abp Warlock applied the jump-leads to my faltering journey of faith that has brought me to be the Tridentine Mass loving, theologically conservative nutter who posts on this blog. If you know nothing about him, I'll leave you in ignorance.

****

I wonder if it is worth pointing out that the statue of the saint before which I prayed prior to gaining my current employment recently self-immolated.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Thought from Challoner

If you ever see a copy of  Challoner's Daily Meditations, I can heartily recommend that you  purchase it and use it.  It isn't uniformly brilliant, at one stage he gets rather bogged down in the 4 Last Things and goes on for rather too many days about Hell. You may find endless talk of Hell an aid to your devotion, I certainly didn't.

However, the meditation for January 7th throws up something interesting I'd never really thought about before; a little detail from St Matthew's Gospel that I'd always overlooked.

The Magi go to Jerusalem (naturally enough) to enquire after the King of the Jews that they are seeking.  News of His momentous birth should have reached there, however, it hadn't.  Herod didn't know and was "troubled" and "all Jerusalem with him". The chief priests and scribes are assembled and it turns out they do  know.  Quite casually they say that He will be born in Bethlehem.

What Challoner points out is that the priests and scribes can point people to the Saviour (almost as a matter of routine), but they haven't actually been seeking Him with their hearts or they would have gone to pay Him homage too.

This got me thinking. The Magi may have been astrologers but wise men they certainly were.  They fulfil Christ's own maxim (Matthew 6:33) to "seek ye first therefore the kingdom of God". And they also, most remarkably, tell us so much about the "fear of the Lord".  Deep within our intellects is a fear that drives us to use our intellects to seek God; the fear of misusing the God given gift of our intellects.  Deep within our will is the drive to persevere against all difficulty to find the Truth, there is a certain fear of failure if we don't do so.  Deep within our hearts is a joy in finding the Christ Child and a holy fear of ever bringing about any harm to Him.

So yes, they are truly wise men because "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom": Psalm  110:10  and Proverbs 9:10.

Are you one of the chief priests and scribes, so comfortable in your religion that you glibly know the answers to matters of faith but have never encountered Our Lord?  Or are you one of the Magi, wise enough to know you are duty bound to pay homage to the Infant, because without Him you are nothing?




Sunday, 5 January 2014

Putting the record straight...

Ollie Bear here..

Happy New Year to you all! I know I have a loyal set of fans and have been sorely remiss in my posting, but as Rita mentioned me yesterday, I feel that I ought to say somehing in my defence.

It is not that I don't like Cyril, though I can't say that any of my best friends are wombats.  It is a cultural thing.  He doesn't join the elder bears in on the sofa bed and never bussies himself with important (thinky) thing that bears do.  He is pratical, cheery and seems to have endless success with finance.  Bank of Bear has suffered terrilbly in the current economic crisis, yet he always comes up smelling of roses, he invests in wombat dung or "square poo" as he calls it, and there seems to be no end of dividends he can reap from the stuff.  I'm not jealous you understand, he just does things differently.

Oh, and then there has been the cricket, dear readers.  Living with an antipodean has been unbearable (pun intended) these last few weeks.  It isn't that he's been gloating, it is the quiet certainty of his manner, his smile and his confidence about his business that makes me want to thump him.

Dear readers, do you know of any retreat centre that will take a tea-drinking, cricket-loving, bow-tie wearing, English bear and calm his shattered nerves.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

I come back from retreat to find....


 I am extremely pleased Jackie is back blogging again, here, with all her warmth and sincerity (increaslingly rare things out there in blogworld). I am also touched that she has handed out an award to me.  I put in on display here:

Anyway, 10 things about me as that is part of the bargain:

  1. I really have no earthly ambition
  2. I have no work ethic
  3. By the grace of God, I remain just well enough to hold down a full time job and do it without embarrasing myself with incompetency.
  4. I live in a converted cow shed in the middle of nowhere in which I clean albs and altar cloths and mend cassocks to keep me sane.
  5. My current favourite on the old sound system is Jean Philippe Rameau; never did a man write such happy music (unless it was Haydn.. of course).
  6. My current favourite food is S Indian: Dosas, Idli..... yummmm
  7. I am currently being cared for by a wombat called Cyril, he has a full time job keeping my larder stocked and cleaning up around me and reminding me when I need to things. This is a picture of him with me when he first arrived at the cow shed.
  
 
    8. Ollie bear doesn't like Cyril, but Ollie is far too busy to help me and he recognises my need for a  wombat about the house.

     9. Spiritual sustainance these days comes from the Psalms, the Monastic Dirunal and the writings of Gerald Vann OP and Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity.

    10. Disinterested love, life is all about disinterested love; let it change your life...

Consider yourself similarly awarded dear reader, if you so wish.  I don't know of 10 bloggies to pass on the award to who haven't had it already.