Monday, 16 July 2018

Uniates and Ordinariates

I am back from my road trip with my parents round Transylvania.  As family outings go, it was true to form and I am glad it happened.  One day my dad will not be around to say at the top of his voice in English that everyone can understand: look that man has lit a cigarette or look, those children have not got off their mobile phones that whole time they've been sat down or look, that man has lit another cigarette. One day I will miss being embarrassed by my parents.

Transylvania has disquieted me somewhat.  It is stunningly beautiful, but its core is most definitely, unlike the rest of Romania, Central European and not Eastern European.  I'm always slightly uneasy in Central Europe.  I think it is the fact that the buildings tell a story, a story about the interplay of Protestant and Catholic.  And it is a tale which neither side has won.  Religion for the most part in Central Europe feels like a museum piece. Now that Transylvania is Romanian and there are newish Orthodox churches everywhere and the only people who go to church in any great numbers are the Orthodox it is easy see the Orthodox as some sort of victors in all of this. It is easy enough to look on the rest as history, as some sort of museum piece.

You have to pay entry to all the Lutheran churches.  They feel like museum pieces. Communist suppression and Saxon migration back to Germany have left only small populations of Lutherans about.  The Catholic Church was brutally suppressed too by the Communists and it shows and there are some aspects of this that I wish to write about in this blog.

But as we drove along the back roads well away from the tourists Mum kept saying (and she should know): gosh this is just like Ireland 60 years ago. She wasn't just referring to the hay stacks, the horses and carts and the general bucolic idyll.  She was referring to the Orthodox church. It is very clerical, very much part of the status quo and quite rich.  Please God, it doesn't decay completely and rapidly like Catholic Ireland has done.

Getting back to the Catholic presence in Transylvania,  firstly, the majority of functioning Roman-Catholic Churches are Hungarian speaking.  They don't seem particularly well attended.  They are not always that easy to find.  We were staggered by the following Catholic Church in the town of  Dumbrăveni. It is simply the largest "functioning" Catholic structure I have seen in all my time out here and the main feature of the central square in the town. Expand the picture and you will see why I wrote functioning in inverted commas.  It is close to falling down. The interior is little better than the exterior, there are significant cracks in the arches in the nave and the general dustyness has you thinking of Miss Haversham.

It turns out this is an Armenian Rite Catholic Church.  The Armenian Rite Catholics number less than 700 in Romania and are supported by an Ordinariate.  There are a total of 3 priests covering the entire population of which this is one of only 3 churches.  The Armenians were suppressed by the Communists and before that in this region they were "forcibly" Catholicised and Magyarised.  Inside the statues are all of recognisably Latin saints, the notice boards are all in Hungarian and utterly indecipherable to yours truly. You could quite easily think that no other rite other than the Roman Rite took place here.  One assumes that such a magnificent building was a result of the Armenian loyalty to the Hungarian Kingdom. One wonders how it will ever keep going.

Having left my parents to digest their lunch on a shady park bench in the very pleasant town of  Mediaș, I went off to explore by myself and was thrilled to see this:
The street commemorates Servant of God, Cardinal Iuliu Hossu and there is a rare functioning Greek-Catholic Church at the top of the street. The Greek-Catholics (lay and clerical) punched above their weight in their opposition to Communism.  I have even heard Orthodox referring to them as the Martyr Church.  They simply saw annihilation as the only way forward rather than submission to Communism.  Here is a useful list of the Catholic Bishops who resisted the Communists in Romania.

And here my disquiet grows. History may say that the growth of the Greek-Catholics (Uniates) was a political thing: Byzantine rite souls who wanted the protection of Catholic Monarchs and States. I remain unconvinced that this is the whole story.  If the Supremacy of Rome means something then it means EVERYTHING. It is something that (like Newman) you turn to in the fullness of faith.  She is the Eternal Bride, She is the love of the Son. I do not believe the Uniates would have accepted martyrdom in such large numbers if it were simply just some political rejection of Communism that was fuelling them.(Though politics does have its own secular martyrs). No, they were martyrs for the Truth. They believed in the supremacy and authority of Rome and of the Bishop of Rome and that is why they were willing to die and suffer as they did.

But now we have a Pontiff who doesn't seem to believe in what these souls were willing to die for, a Pontiff who sees the Uniates in purely historical terms with a right to exist but not as bastions of some Eternal Truth about himself.

I am tired, my head hurts, I wonder about the whole Catholic Church and what she is and what she has become.......

Here is a nice picture postcard of not too touristy but ever so pretty Transylvania to cheer you up, best not think about religion....

Sighișoara


Sunday, 8 July 2018

Thoroughly modern

What follows is a real life example of the educated Catholic laity. I wonder if Bl JH Newman would approve?

Here is a link to a highly educated and thoughtful piece arguing for Equal Marriage from the Catholic and Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Thomas Tugendhat. I suggest you read it.  It is well argued, caring, considerate and thoroughly modern.  The MP is quite able to separate the views of the Church to which he belongs from what he sees as the apparent need to vote for Equal Marriage back in 2014. It takes a modern mind to be able to do this.

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales obviously think he's kosher, they gave him £5,330 of our money, as declared in April of 2018, and available to read on this site. But the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are also thoroughly modern.

I am not writing to criticise the MP for Tonbridge and Malling and I am not about to have a hissy fit about the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.  This post about modernism and how it is slowly destroying the Church because it is slowly destroying good souls within the Church.  The enemy is Modernism, the enemy is an idea and it is more damaging than any Pogrom.

If you are a Modernist and a Catholic you keep God in your parlour.  The parlour is that nice room where you invite the priest for tea and where the piano lives and where the children's toys don't. Most of the time you are not in the parlour, it is an occasional room and as such always manages to be reassuringly tidy, comfortingly homely and thoroughly traditional. The mess of the world needs something else.... but definitely not God.

The rest of the world needs care and compassion and respect for people whose views are different from our own.  It needs legislation to protect minority interests and self-styled minority identities.  The world needs humanism (based on Christian ideals of course but not essentially Christian), it does not need God.... well so say the Modernists.  One wonders why  bother with having faith at all except for one's own sense of well being, belonging, self-styled identity and tradition. The modernist Christian simply needs his parlour. It has a door on it which sometimes he can shut.

If you are not modern, your logic is somewhat different.
God pervades everything. His mystery is life itself.  It is beautiful. I cannot ever deny God either to myself or to others.  God is not a set of rules and regulations, He is Love and He is unchanging.  I cannot reimagine God so that He fits the age in which I live.  His Law, His Truth, Christ is Eternal. As an un-Modern, I must translate the Eternal into language and actions that can be currently understood and do this everywhere and in all that I do. Doing this is the direct oppsite to reimagining His Truth for the needs of the modern world and modern man.

**************

I have a good friend out here who is a self-styled homosexual (you know I don't style anyone as homo or heterosexual myself), that is his definition of himself.  We rarely discuss religion, unless he asks, (he does't have the necessary vocabulary), though he knows my stance and knows I am a world away from supporting his lifestyle or beliefs.  He has a tremendous sense of justice and compassion, I saw him carefully and patiently helping a particularly ripe and dirty homeless man carry his worldly belongings and giving him some cigarettes..... nobody could deny the goodness of his act, he simply relates with the outcast and does not want them to feel outcast.....  I feel he is open to the Truth and deep down, he knows the Truth. If I leave God in the parlour and agree with my friend that gay marriage is OK for him but not OK according to God and the Church, am I doing God's work or the Devil's?

**************

Oh, and before you ask, from what I've seen Orthodoxy is not faring much better than Catholicism, there are modernists getting accepted into Orthodox thinking too..... it won't take too long bring it down, the ecumenical movement will see to that.

There is a war on, prepare for your call up, prepare for battle.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Love Letter to Belgrade

Dear Belgrade,

We have hardly got to know each other, but I think I love you. From the moment the plane touched down in between planes from Russia, Iran and the Ukraine and from taking the bus into town with a friendly group of Iranians (actually I've never met an unpleasant Iranian, but that is for another post), I knew I was somewhere different.  Serbia, you think for yourself.  You have a wonderfully independent spirit.  You are proud and you are beautiful.



On a personal level, I have enjoyed being amongst people who are tall, skinny and have that whole Celtic thing going on. Romanians tend to be stocky, but you are mostly lanky, with slender arms and and an athletic gait, I felt some distant connection in the gene pool with my Irish heritage.  Your food is Balkan with a touch of Hungarian and the mixture works, it is different from the Romanian take on the same heritage, but equally enjoyable.  Actually you cook fish better and I prefer your zacuscă, but please don't tell any Romanians I said so, they cannot take criticism, even when it is done in jest. Oh, and you are so friendly and full of laughter.  I like the balance between the sexes, the men neither dominate or are subservient to matriarchs (which can so often happen in Balkan countries).  Nothing depresses me more than seeing young boys clinging to their mothers and wimping out, refusing to grow up and become independent.  I saw a lot of good parenting and strong fathers. And your men just seem a good 20%  more masculine than anywhere I've even been in my life..... the feminisaton of the Western world is odious, don't follow the crowd.

History is never far away.  I was very conscious of being around war veterans.  I know that look in their eyes. It is hard to describe, but war trauma makes you aware of other realities and you see extra dimensions in the the things around you.  I have seen that look many times, form working with the homeless in Manchester to living around the retired Majors and Colonels in rural Wessex: Malaya, N. Ireland, The Falklands, The Gulf.... the look is the same and so many of your men and women have it too.

OK so the young adults I saw seem like young adults everywhere: metrosexual, gym-body-beautiful, tele-marketeers, borderless Europeans with no sense of history or culture, totally self-absorbed.  Groups of people talking about themselves to each other in American English, but never actually breaking into real conversation or dialogue. Thoroughly depressing.  But all  capital cities are like this.  I do not hold it against you Serbia. Just don't let them be your future.

Belgrade, you still make things.  You sill have a leather industry and make beautiful book bindings, belts, jackets and shoes.  You also seem to have a remarkable supply of tie shops and milliners; your own.  Please, Serbia, THINK before join the EU.  These small artisans will go to the wall, like they have done in the UK, in Romania and elsewhere. They will be replaced by European business interests flogging poorer quality goods which are actually made in China. The EU is of no benefit to its citizens, be warned and see from the farce over Brexit, how difficult it is to leave once you enter.  The EU is a pimp and he will treat you as a third class whore, like he does Romania and Bulgaria... he will entice you with promises and sweeteners but your lovely people will not see any benefits and you will be broken and subjugated.

The thing is, Serbia I fear for your future.  Your PM is so openly pro-EU and so in the model of what the EU wants you to be and how the EU wants you to think... please retain you independence.  Your relationship with Russia is interesting and precious (because you are no vassal), don't let it be taken from you.  You have the right to be friends with whosoever you want.

And it was so nice to be breathing NATO free air....

And I got back to Bucharest last night to a chocking wall of cigarette smoke, 4G addiction and endless graffiti and I knew I was home.  Belgrade, we enjoyed each others company; kindred spirits, kicking against the world and all her illusions.  But I know to whom I belong, Romania is my home, for better or worse.

But we will meet again,

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The NHS

So the NHS is 70 years old.  I for one won't be raising a glass to celebrate its good health.

In order to help students out here to get into British Universities to study medicine, they have to know about the NHS.  But it is not the NHS that they need to know about, but the myth of the NHS.  They need to know the creed and the creation myth; the hubris and the arrogance surrounding the bloated, idolatrous, self-perpetuating panacea.  In helping the students I have to tow the party line and say uncritically, how wonderful it all is. I'd been hoping to leave  Great Britain- the myth behind me when I moved, but I am still having to behave like her loyal servant. This is not what I want to be doing with my life.

Yes, it breaks my heart when I see the elderly begging on the streets of Bucharest, holding their medical referrals. These letters say so many Lei are needed for operations that would greatly improve their quality of life.  They do not have the money, they are genuinely wretched. Yes, part of me is glad that the NHS exists, and nobody in the UK has to suffer like this.

I am aware my response to the NHS is emotional rather than rational; they were directly responsible for the death of my husband, my own treatment under them was a farce that was only rectified when I sought help from the private sector and much of my childhood was sacrificed on the altar of NHS. My parents were both loyal servants to her and their jobs meant difficult hours and deep personal involvement with dying patients who always came first. People say a good reason why priests shouldn't marry is that they would never have time for their families.  The same argument could be used to advocate compulsory celibacy amongst  doctors.

And I am also aware that those who defend the NHS also use highly emotive language and personal stories of how marvellous its staff are and how grateful we should all be for her.

So let's try to look at the bloated leviathan critically and ask ourselves if indeed the reality is worth defending.

The UK has a health system whereby the patients do not have ownership of their own medical records.  They are the property of the Secretary of State for Health.  The State ultimately decides the treatment and the services you will receive based on your locality, your lifestyle choices and your age. I seem to be in a minority that actually find this sinister. Is is not sinister to you? The State can be highly moralistic with alcoholics and drug addicts and refuse treatment until they "improve", yet it bends over backwards for all types of sexual immorality and the medical complications that arise from that. The NHS is now completely in charge of all aspects of life from conception to death; compulsory screenings and vaccinations, check-ups, wellness clinics, dietary programs..... the NHS makes us believe that we cannot survive without her.  She has all the hallmarks of a cult rather than a public service. And all the time we do actually become more reliant on her as we forget how to care for ourselves and for each other.  She feeds our dependency on her.

She must be the largest employer in the UK , massive amounts of money ride on her performance and management/mis-management.  She is subject to the absurd rules of the internal market so it is impossible to know the true cost of anything. She will also be subject to the fashions and whims of the powerful pharmaceutical industry.  She is desperately inefficient. She is an organ of the State and therefore does not have the best interests of the individual at heart.

I am not advocating the abolition of the National Health Service.  Something is needed that treats all irrespective of ability to pay... but was life really that bad before she existed?  The generation that was around before she was born are  getting old.  They will talk of a lady in the parish who had a starched apron and without any qualifications knew about hygiene and would act as midwife and layer-out of the dead for a penny or whatever could be afforded.  She was not a figure of adulation, she was no angel (as modern day nurses are sometimes referred). But she did her jobs and there were no complaints and families were very much in charge of their own lives. They will also talk of children from poor families needing urgent medical care and it being the duty of more affluent, educated members of the parish to help fund this and see that it happened.....

The NHS is symptomatic of the breakdown of society, of a lack of autonomy, the lack of power of the family as a unit, and of the breakdown of community decision making. The NHS also takes away our responsibility to live in as quietly and unobtrusively healthy way as possible for our own good... I do not like her and I cannot defend her as she is.


The NHS will last as long as there’s folk with faith left to fight for it. -quote attributed to its founder, Aneurin Bevan

Friday, 22 June 2018

Travels

I feels a bit weird; doing something "normal" like arranging holidays.  I've not done this for years.  I've not wanted to.  But recently I've had two trips to organise.  Firstly, entertaining my parents in Transylvania. It is their 50th Wedding Anniversary and my treat to them.  It is their choice of destination.  They are both very pro-EU.  Mum is mad on all things German and is nearly fluent in the language and Dad romances Protestantism.  Transylvania is their last unexplored outpost which ticks those boxes.  Not my choice, but we will have fun.  Secondly, I'm planning my trip back to the UK.  I have to go back for my parents anniversary party, but I'll also visit the area where I was last living and see some good friends.  What has been a bit frustrating about this is the fact that none of my friends are actually friends with each other, though most of them go to the same church!  They attend different Masses, different rites, have different outlooks on life.  I could not say: lets meet up in a pub somewhere.  They wouldn't get on with each other.  It would be a terrible strain on me.  So as it is, I'm arranging meals or tea with various good souls. It is hard work (I am not a natural diplomat) and I will offend somebody by not getting round to seeing them.

Therefore I need a treat.  But there is another Fast coming up for the Assumption/Dormition and there is no point trying to go on holiday when you are stuck with a vegan diet.  I'm back at work shortly after the Assumption.  This means squeezing in a holiday for me before my parents get here.  Serbia here I come!!

From my last trip outside Bucharest: Communist era architecture, a hotel that had seen beter days and a glorious storm cloud that looked so like a double headed eagle.


Next year I will not be so accommodating of others and if everything goes to plan, I will be treating myself to a prolonged stay in Iran and Armenia.


The current Fast for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul is "interesting" and hard and is happening on many levels.  There is a terrible disconnect with the Catholic Church in my heart. Loving Her is an act of the will. I feel nothing for Her.  But love is not a feeling........

Rejoice in the Lord always!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Trystero

When I was planning to come out to Bucharest the biggest headache I had was scything through my book collection. I was determined nothing would go into storage, I wanted this move to be real and final.  I cut down the collection to about 1/5 of what it had been and I still have 3 bookcases worth with me.  One book that didn't make it was Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49. This was a shame, my copy had a really cool cover, but I decided I'd grown out of Pynchon.

How wrong I was.  It has found its way onto my e-reader and it is better than I ever remember it to be.


I am not going to recommend this book to you as such.  I am a good Catholic girl (sic).  Pynchon's world is amoral and postmodern.  Nothing is sacred. His characters are utterly unaware of sin and never have an epiphany, there is nothing redemptive in his work. However Pynchon does tap into something quite deep in the human psyche.  This novel is about the nature of reality and doing things you don't believe in.

His writing is full of the humour of the absurd. There is a club that caters for electronics assembly workers who go wild for Stockhausen on the sound system.  There is a spoof Jacobean Revenge tragedy. There is an underground postal service in competition with Thurn und Taxis. They may or may not have the symbol of the muted post horn.  They may not exist.  That is the central crux of the book. Pynchon's prose style is compact, visually dense and effective and the book is full of Physics in-jokes.  It could have been written for me.

And all the time the characters do things they don't believe in.  Nothing seems real.  There may be some faint whisper just out of earshot that will lead to the truth, but they are too dissipated to follow it.  They let the absurd wash over them and sink into disappointment.

The post modern world seems very much like Pynchon's fiction.  We hunger for something rebellious, something beneath the surface that actually means something, we are fully aware that reality is probably far more terrifying and brilliant that we can hope for and yet we are still too dissipated to do anything than be passive recipients of the surreal, illogical, fantasy that calls itself everyday life.

One image Pynchon throws at us very early on in the book is that of the heroine in a tower, like Rapunzel. She is waiting for some prince to rescue her from the tower, the man disappoints and all that happens is that the tower extends outwards. She goes to Mexico with her lover and yet it is still the tower.  She never gets out.  What appears to be the world outside is just that which has been crafted in the tower.

It is not my life, don't think for a moment that it is.  However, in those moments when the screaming unreality of the world pins you down with its full force and tries to prevent you from breathing-in all that is good, beautiful and true..... then Pynchon's world seems so very real.

Not sure why I'm sharing this with you, other than the fact that I think I'd prefer to be stuck, Rapunzel like in a tower, in a reality of my own creation, than passively accept much of what passes for Catholicism (liberal and conservative) as being part of the beauty of the Bride of Christ. The Church is breaking my heart like no man ever could. But all I can do is scream like a muted posthorn.









Thursday, 7 June 2018

summer nights

A friend e-mailed recently and said "can't wait for the nights to get longer again".  She like me prefers the winter to the summer.  I have happy memories of exploring the graveyards of the Cotswolds with her one Boxing Day, the low light and sharp cold were exquisite.  This year however, absorbing everything that this wonderful country has to offer, I can wait for winter. I'm happy just living each moment and when the current hot and humid is replaced by unbearably hot and dry, I will not mind.

Right now, the cherries are out and are wonderful, as are the heart shaped seductively sweet local tomatoes, and the cucumbers aren't bad either.  The Apostles' Fast is simply inconvenient but it certainly isn't unpleasant with all the summer produce around.

I think I've said before that life is the "school of love". Day by day, I'm just asking God to teach me how to love; loving God, loving those who are easy to love, loving those who tear at my heart because I feel they belong there but currently are far away, loving the difficult to love, loving the loveless, loving myself.  I've stripped life back to basics out here and learning my lessons can be done without distraction.  The lessons are not taking place in quiet contemplation but in the bustle of city life amongst the diesel fumes and apartment blocs. There are plenty of antagonisms and there is something unpleasant around that feels very like witchcraft.  And this is why the light of the mid-summer is good.  Bright light and light hearted prayer are best.  The low light of mid-winter and the accompanying gentle introspection would not help..

A couple of souls I seem strongly linked to are not in good shape spiritually.  I won't let it break my heart  to see and feel them so burdened by the world, so lifeless, so weary, so bitter, so without hope... loving them means being a beacon of light in the dark.  Not a beacon of false optimism, but a small light in their Mordor, as they fight on with fatalism and emptiness. I don't know for sure if any light reaches them, but judging be the state of my heart, I think it probably does. But I'm finding it best not to care; if you give something, you can't then fret about what happens to it or you never truly gave it in the firstly place.

So no time for introspection.  Time to be humiliating myself trying the speak Romanian. I can read OK and I enjoy translating and writing, but speaking is embarrassing, I speak to the beggars and they speak back in English. A surly shop assistant who doesn't like me is convinced I'm Russian, but this allows me to be surly with her in my broken Romanian and stops her replying in English.... I've still got a lot to learn in the school of love.

Time also for plenty of Irish music, I can't understand why it sounds so good right now but it does, I like the punchy, non-political, non-drippy stuff the best:

From the past: the Bothy Band
From the present, the finest ever version of this particular song from the Kings of Connaught
From Serbia: yes from Serbia: the Orthodox Celts.... they make me smile.



Thursday, 31 May 2018

A Modest Proposal

I can't write about it, I can hardly think about it without sorrow, I am glad I am well away from it, I am angry that so many good priests are finding things near impossible and are so weary of it....

But I will not name that to which I refer, because it has no name, but you all know what it is.

It needs prayer. It needs serious and confident prayer. It needs a prayer of thanksgiving for the witness of the Apostles and their transmission of the Faith.  I am so grateful for my Faith, I am so grateful to God for all He has done for me, yet I weep over this thing's presence which manifests itself in the disunity of the Church and the damage to the Body of Christ that result from the confusion.

So today on the great Latin Feast of Corpus Christi, I want to make a request to all Roman Rite Catholics that they who also grieve like me (and that is most of you who read this blog) step back into the Tradition of the Universal Church and so something for Her.

Will you join those of us in the East for the Apostles' Fast this year? You can read about it here.
It starts on Monday and ends with the Feast of St Peter and St Paul on June 29th.

Fasting without prayer is evil.  Fast with joy and confidence.  I really don't want to do it!  The butter and cheese out here are so good, I have found a little old lady to sell me lovely eggs, I love the smoked pork fat that flavours most of the food I cook....

Pentecost was last Sunday and followed directly by Trinity Monday, we are at the apex of the Church's year. This Fast doesn't feel like Lent.  This feels like a very necessary part of the prayer needed for the unity of the Church and the vanquishing of evil from Her midst.

And put on a glad face, be more generous with your time and your charity, love your brothers and pray with confidence to the God who built his Church on St Peter.......

You know it makes sense.

I have personal reasons too.  I was Baptised on the Vigil of Ss Peter and Paul, 49 years ago.  The 49 (7x7) seems significant as does the fact that I would have been one of the last to have had the older, Baptismal Rite.  It took place in Dublin.  I don't feel my connection with Ireland is over yet, but prayers at a distance for Christian Ireland seem best for now.  I do not feel ready for her just yet. The unpleasant, revolutionary, romantic, pagan spirit that created Irish Republicanism (something I find abhorrent), is alive and well in the self-satisfactory smugness of her politics today and her lively embrace of all that is wrong.

For many reasons, this is a year of prayer and fasting.
Glory to God for all things!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Referendum

Regular readers will know how much I hate referenda.  They are far from being what they claim to be and rarely do any good.  Indeed the only recent referendum that actually asked a sensible question and achieved a notable (and to my mind positive) result was the snap one called by Putin in the Crimea.  And therein lies a moral.  Referenda have nothing to do with a healthy democracy.  Love or loathe Russia, she is not a healthy democracy, but she works, she has maturity on the world stage that surpasses the Western European minnows and she looks after her own. In general, referenda are a tool of mass manipulation, be suspicious of them. In general also, healthy democracy is an oxymoron.

And so my heart and mind turn to Ireland.  Ireland is like a train crash in slow motion, you know what is happening before it happens, and none of it is pretty. As I've said before, the land of my birth is a land of superlatives; the best and the worst.  There is no middle ground. Ireland is going through an adolescence, it is rebelling against a myth not a reality, it thinks itself really cool and "awakening".  It is one crazy teenager.  It is my profession to stand by and support and defend crazy teenagers, I have a fondness for them and I have a fondness for Ireland devoid on any sentiment.



So I am going to do the unthinkable on a Catholic blog and defend the souls who won the referendum, but this is not in any way about defending the abhorrent ideology behind their voting. I just want to speak up for them as human beings.

The thing is, we should all breathe a collective sigh of relief that there is still something so innate in the human condition that it still hungers after compassion and love.  The people who won did just that.  They voted for the side which to them offered the most compassionate, humane and kindest of options.  They are not animals, they are not defective in intellect, they are not any more evil that you or I.  They may be bloody fools, but that is not the point. They believe this is a victory for the good, for the advancement of civilisation, for progress and for humanity. They are wrong of  course because they are thinking like Modernists.  There is no such thing as progress.  Progress is the offspring of dialectical materialism, it doesn't really exist, it is as bogus as World Peace, Father Christmas and Facebook.

A question I wish to pop to you dear reader is this, why wasn't the Church's voting choice seen as the option that maximises the love and compassion in this broken world? We can blame years of Catholic flavoured misery-lit, the shameful state of the Church after the sexual abuse scandals.  We can blame media bias.  We can blame what we like but the Truth is irresistible (sadly grace isn't).  It is my view that very little of the Truth got out, very little of the Truth was able to dazzle and mesmerise souls. Where was God in all of this?

I am going to stick my neck on the line and suggest that the Pro-Life movement take a serious look at itself and ask itself some serious questions.  I will not be the first to suggest that it may be part of the problem, and I won't be the last. This does not detract from the good work they do do, but it is not the whole picture.  Is not the Pro-Life movement guilty of politicising Life? Does that not is some way degrade life? I was not chuffed to see the "heroes" of Irish independence on their banners.  I am also repulsed by any pictures of mashed up foetuses that end up on their material.  They really do not understand how they trivialise Life.

When the Lambeth Conference voted to accept contraception in the 1920s the Anglicans were responding to the reality of what they were seeing in the grinding poverty of the post war slums.  Large families are not  automatically happy families and the families they saw were abject in their misery. The acceptance of contraception was a patronising way to "deal" with the problem of grinding poverty.  What it didn't address was the grinding poverty of sexual incontinence which indeed it has exacerbated.  Contraception will never make you a better lover. Good lovers will have as many children as they are comfortable with as gifts from God, this doesn't mean they have to have breed incessantly. It is the work of dictators like Franco, Stalin and Ceaușescu to set up the large family as an idol. The Church should not do likewise.

When people advocate abortion, it is again always with a misplaced and patronising sense of compassion.  It is failing to look at the hurt at the heart of society that sees sex as a recreational activity, more or less violent, more or less predatory,  but part of our rights as consumers in charge of deciding our own pleasures. And if you do accidentally find yourself prey to unwanted sexual activity then obviously it is most compassionate to deal with the whole thing as clinically as possible and eliminate the one great act that can arise out of the evil that is in itself devoid of evil; the creation of life.

Until the Church on earth is appealing in her beauty, chastity and gentleness, then people will go looking for compassion in all the wrong places.  Don't go blaming those who placed their votes where they did.  They (like teenagers) know not what they do.



Monday, 21 May 2018

Repeat after me ......

I don't care that the pastoral context of the words allegedly uttered by Pope Francis demanded something a bit special. I am left furious that he has actually "come out" and said to someone "God made you gay" (see here) and nobody has denied that it has been said.

Firstly, there is simply not enough scientific evidence to support the argument that we are made gay by nature.  So that can't be what the Holy Father meant.  But if this isn't what he meant, then he is suggesting that the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that "refine" our character through our interaction with the world are somehow pre-ordained by God to give us particular characteristics, particular desires and tastes.  I'm not sure about this either. It would suggest that God somehow has a list of characteristics and types of behaviour and he doles out our life experiences to make us that way. I am actually repulsed by this.  My late husband did not feel in his heart the desire to be a priest, go to junior seminary and be repeatedly and systematically sexually abused by older boys, in order to have his sexual "orientation" utterly confused through tasting the Heraclitan honey (to use St Francis de Sales phrase) of homosexual acts.  Would the Holy Father, on meeting him say "God made you struggle with sexuality and various forms of addiction all your life, it was his plan"? Would he then go on to suggest celebrating this brokenness and all the harm he had done to himself and hurt he had caused his parents and others through the hungers and desires he had that had so often overpowered his will and good intentions?  Does God ever want us to sin?  No, never.  God cannot desire that we sin, each sin is a movement away from Him.  It is too risky to say that it is only in moving away from Him that we can understand His love. We cannot ever say that the best path is a path into sin to come out of it from it at the other end.  We cannot advocate sin.  Sin gives the Devil  a foothold on us, and the bastard never lets go. Would you give your child to the devil? Of course not, and neither does God.

God does not make anyone gay, he does not make anyone straight.  These are Modern words.  Classifying people is a Modern preoccupation.  We must break out of it.  It is the devil's taxonomy.  I is not the language of God.  We have got ourselves in a bit of a mess with "love the sinner not the sin"  because we start classifying the sinner according to his predilections rather than loving him unconditionally and indeed blindly.

so repeat after me:
THERE IS ONLY ONE ORIENTATION, IT IS TOWARDS THE CROSS
THERE IS ONLY ONE ORIENTATION, IT IS TOWARDS THE CROSS
THERE IS ONLY ONE ORIENTATION, IT IS TOWARDS THE CROSS....

That is how we meet Him and come to love Him, serve Him and be with Him for ever.  We are made fearfully and wonderfully in the likeness and image of God, to start categorising how we are made is abhorrent.

Isn't it time we started talking more seriously about an ecstasy greater than sexual ecstasy; the eternal ecstasy of heaven and how chastity, given as a gift of the Holy Spirit is the ONLY way to draw close to this.

The ecstsay of St Teresa

Sorry I am ranting, but I've had enough, really and truly had enough of the modernism in the Church. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Greatest achievements

It is that time of year when those near the top of the "food chain" at my current place of employment have been asking those of us lower life forms the following question: Outside of what you are contracted to do, what have been your greatest achievements this year?

I know how we are supposed to answer this, and it is unsatisfactory.  We are being asked about those things we have done to further the greatness of the institution in which we work. At this point I feel like King Lear's youngest daughter and the answer I give will not be what they want to hear and nor can they hear the truth in what I say.

The answer in my heart is : nothing.  The supplementary answer is: this is not a question I really understand or know how to answer.

In the Venn diagram of Life there are several sets: what we desire, what other people desire, what we try to do, how others perceive what we are doing, the outcomes of our actions.  These sets barely interlock if indeed they interlock at all.  Also there is no causal link whatsoever between what we try to do and the outcomes of our actions. The outcomes depend on how our actions were interpreted not on our intentions in performing them. The outcomes also depend on a whole host of other factors, about which we are completely unaware.

It leaves me realising there is probably only one prayer in my heart that relates to myself: Lord, stop me from doing stupid things, may I never be responsible for causing another soul to move further away from finding You such that their eternal happiness is compromised.

If I think like this, then there is an answer to my line manager's question: "my" greatest achievement is getting out of bed in the morning.  I then hand the day over to Our Lady and this isn't a negation of responsibility, is is the realisation that left to my own devices all that I will do, having got out of bed, is catastrophic harm to myself and others.

Dumnezeule, fii milostiv mie, păcătosului.

Diagram of Appraisal Meetings: when we are supposed to celebrate our ability to be consumed.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Number Seven

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen dost gather her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not?"
[Matthew 23:37]

We see Christ depicted in icons and religious art as the Alpha and Omega, the Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, the Good Shepherd, but we never see Christ as Mother Hen.  If not in the static devotional language of the Church, then perhaps the place for this depiction is the liturgy of the Church. Liturgy and public worship are also Icon (or should be seen as such).  Recently, I was struck by this passage from the Anglo-Catholic, Evelyn Underhill, it seems to support my view:

This total liturgical life of the Corpus Christi is not merely a collection of services, offices and sacraments.  Deeply considered, it is the sacrificial life of Christ Himself; the Word indwelling in His Church, gathering in His eternal priestly action in the small Godward movements, sacrifices and aspirations of "all the broken and the meek", and acting through these ordered signs and sacraments by means of these His members on earth.
Worship - Evelyn Underhill (1936)

OK, so in the passage from Matthew, Christ uses the mother hen image as simile not metaphor, but it doesn't stop it being real, it doesn't stop the maternal nature of God from being a truth.

Then on the anniversary of my husband's death, I saw this very icon in the Corpus Christi (using Evelyn Underhill's terminology) and it brought me to my knees.  All the way home from work, I'd been summoning up the strength to go to Mass at the Roman Catholic church.  It really is a marathon here; devout, intense and utterly sad because they squeeze and strain as much as they can out of the Novus Ordo and you just know the  Older Latin Rite (sadly non-existent out here) would sit more comfortably in the hearts of the faithful. I can't bear to see the Roman Church dying. Apart from the priests, I am often one of the youngest there. I went straight home, I couldn't do it, I was exhausted.  Then something forced me out of the house and said, if you can't make it to Mass, you can atleast stagger to the Orthodox church and pray there.  How could I not pray before the Pantocrator, how could I not do this simple thing?

Unknown to me there was a service taking place which happens regularly at that church: the Service of the Holy Oils. It was packed with old and young, rich and poor, men and women in roughly equal numbers. It is a sacramental service of the anointing of the sick, it is not, I believe, common to all Orthodox, but it is big out here. Bread, flour and fat are brought to be blessed by the priests and bought back home to be eaten by the sick. The sick (that is everyone) are anointed, there are seven anointings, seven Gospel readings, seven blessings of the Holy Oil.  It was the seventh anniversary of my husband's death, it will be my 49th birthday (seven squared) on Monday...... I was meant to be there, there was something revelatory about the whole experience: an end with a new beginning.

And there was the icon of Mother Hen.  As each Gospel was read out, priests would stand amongst the congregation, hold their wide soles out before them and many members of the faithful would "hide" under the stoles.  There seemed to be as many as 20 people for each priest. Here is the Word: faithful mother hen and field hospital.  And there I was, deep in something beautiful, at least as exhausting as had I attended Mass and more overwhelming.

I kissed the Pantocrator and wondered "what is it that You want from me?".... I am still wondering, but I am resigned and at peace.

To quote Underhill again: Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of  love.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Human Popes

It seems to come as a bit of a shock to some people that Popes are indeed human.  Dad's old girlfriend e-mailed us all recently with words to that effect.  She had attached a video clip of Pope Francis channelling his inner Les Dawson, mesmerising his audience with the deft telling of some fairly stale mother-in-law jokes and she'd provided the caption "At last a Pope who is human, may he be Pope for a very long time!!!".

The Holy Father worked his audience well and they were putty in his hands.  I think perhaps that Les, watching from his place of eternal rest, may offer his successor a wee bit of advice about not letting the audience know your are enjoying yourself too much.  But that is very much the art of British Comedy and Argentinians may do things differently.

the unsurpassed Les Dawson (1931-1993)

I am not recounting this tale because I want to tell you that the Pope is a comic genius.  My reasons are different.  Let's return to dad's old girlfriend again. I don't exactly know how much dad thought of her when they were young, but both sets of parents were keen they got together, it seemed like an ideal match and she definitely had a crush on him.  Neither of them were without good looks and intelligence but more importantly their fathers were both extremely devout if stern Catholics and best of friends. However dad fell in love with a leggy Irish lass and that was that..... The religious zeal of grandfather and his friend did not rub off  on their offspring.  The reason why I am telling you the tale is because I think this is the first time the woman concerned had openly professed to being a Catholic in the last 50 years.

"Fishers of men" heh?

I personally prefer my humans (and Popes) a little more "hard-boiled", mother-in-law jokes are not enough for me and had I been writing in the early 1930s I would have uttered a mighty "Long live the Pope!" on hearing the tale of Pius XI (of blessed memory) grabbing a procrastinating Capuchin by the beard and in a rather intimidating manner saying "when We give instructions, We expect that they are carried out.".

As as for the woman who became my mother, well she recently said "Oh if only the Pope wasn't such a Leftie, I much preferred Old Red Shoes"....

You can't please all the punters all of the time.

Actually the more I think about it, the more I realise that it may indeed be a problem to see the Pope in human terms. Christ does not look on Peter in human terms. Christ is fully human and fully God.  He can see everything.  We cannot.  Christ can see beyond our actions and beyond our words... He does not see people as we do; frustrating individuals who refuse to behave the way we want them to behave.  He sees into our hearts, beyond the words we speak, the things we do, the things we fail to do.... We can not see each other with the pure love that Jesus sees us.... but just perhaps we are capable of looking beyond the purely human in everyone and catching a glimpse of what God sees  but we will only do that if we can get over our preferences.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Out on a limb (2)

Politics out here is very much of the "Polly put the kettle on" variety, there is always a "Sukie" taking it off again and nothing comes of anything.

The referendum I blogged about in the Autumn, to make marriage solely an act between a man and a woman part of the constitution, was put on hold.  It is now being debated again.  The powerful Orthodox church speak about it here.

I still have my doubts about this referendum, though my believing chums see it as a necessary safeguard and a vital thing to happen.  Indeed there is little chance of the referendum failing.  Marriage being solely between a man and a woman will be enshrined in the constitution. Romania is special and I love her dearly. There are few countries left in Europe where this could happen.

But I have my doubts about the whole thing and people wince when I give them my argument, they have not as yet come up with a counter argument.  I remain convinced that God (and this is very much about God) can not be safeguarded by any secular legislation. In much the same way that God can not be defended by a gun.

If the referendum is successful and it is enshrined that marriage is between a man and a woman, there are clever enough lawyers out there to start muddying the waters as to what exactly is a man and what exactly is a woman.

I think that test cases would erode this safeguard. For instance a man who chooses to live as a woman and identifies as a lesbian, could feasibly marry the woman of his choice. Also a woman who identifies as a man and as male homosexual and has had her genitals mutilated so that she appears to be a man could quite happily marry a man she loves.  In both these instances the biological definition of male and female (from the DNA) would make watertight cases for the validity of these marriages under the state rules.  That both couples in the examples given identify as homosexuals makes a mockery of the idea that marriage being between a man and a woman will prevent "gay marriage".  Such marriages would be intrinsically disordered, though they may indeed open to fertility and the production of offspring. ..... And lawyers with an agenda will be only too able to find couples who wish to test the law.

So test cases like the ones above happen and the non-trans gay community are then up in arms because they feel penalised against because everybody is allowed to marry but them.  They will get there way, there will be no more definitions of male and female, just couples that "love" each other and want to marry.

The Orthodox church is right to defend "natural" marriage.and not traditional marriage. However there needs to be more noises made about what marriage actually is.  Marriage is  also "supernatural" as it is a type of Christ's love for His Church.  There also needs to be more of a noise made about what it is to be human; fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

At the heart of all of this are two words that are modern and not capable of being reconciled with God.  These words are heterosexual and homosexual.  Indeed it s worth reminding everyone that "heterosexual" was first coined as a word to describe the disorder of being overtly and uncontrollably sexually attracted to the opposite sex. Then heterosexual became a norm so homosexual (as an identity) was born. Both types of act are nearly as old as human hisotry but heterosexual is disordered and homosexual is just her little sister and equally corrupt.  Ultimately heterosexual and homosexual describe identities based around the act of mutual masturbation.  We simply are not meant to define ourselves by what gives us nice feelings.  Love is indiscriminate, we can feel it for members of the same sex and members of the opposite.  That feeling is there to draw us closer to God as we see God present in the other.  This is incompatible with lust and it is incompatible with nourishing fleshy, transitory feelings as an end in themselves.  This is the very heart of our pilgrimage to know God.  But male and female as created by God have a special vocation. Woman is made for man to help him grow in the knowledge of God, and both the woman and the man should rejoice in these roles that have been given to them by God.

Now I really am out on a limb.  Nobody talks like this.




Monday, 30 April 2018

Cultural Appropriation

If you are expecting something deep and meaningful, look away.  This post is about clothes.

I briefly ventured onto the BBC website, something I rarely do these days and saw this article about an American girl with no Chinese blood in her who decided to wear a cheongsam (Chinese dress) to her Prom. Social media was outraged by this cultural appropriation and said "my culture in not your Prom dress". I think people are too sensitive these days, the girl can wear what she likes. They do look better on Orientals, in my honest opinion, but that counts for nothing. However, the article hit a nerve. I DO have Chinese blood in me (nearly 50%) and I was, at her age definitely NOT ALLOWED to wear a cheongsam. That was  Chinese dress and not for Westerners or "mudbloods".

The thing is, it is a damn sexy bit of kit and I so badly wanted one.

It was my Chinese grandmother who forbade me to wear one.  She said I was too tall, and indeed I am the family oddity, having inherited an extra foot in height and skinnyness from my Irish side. I tower over my younger sisters.  She let my sisters wear them when they came of age despite them looking even less Chinese than I do. But in height and build, they are Chinese, I am not.  I felt like Cinderella, never going to the ball....

This was  almost confirmed when I was allowed to "culturally appropriate" Nyonya dress.  The Nyonyas are the Chinese immigrants living along the Straits of Malacca.  The dress is local and not at all Chinese in origin, it had been culturally appropriated by the Chinese community and made their own.  For the women it consists of a sarong and a kebaya.  I was asked to "look after" some beautiful hand stitched kebayas belonging to my great-grandmother.  I wear them with pride. But they are the dress of the "older woman", the widow, and the unmarried.  They are not the dress for a "hot date".  I illustrate this with a family picture from Singapore in the 1950s. Not my family, it is a photograph I found on the internet.  But it could me my Straits Chinese family. The two ladies  on the outside of the group and the matriarch in the centre are wearing the kebaya.  There is one woman on the left in a very Chinese two-piece costume and then on either side of the central couple in Western dress (nobody would ever accuse them of culturally appropriating that and being offended by it) there are two women in cheongsams.

Spot the Cinderellas.

However, when my grandmother was getting very old and could no longer climb the stairs at the family home, she told me I could go and raid her wardrobe and if anything fitted I could have it.  She must have had over 50 cheongsams dating from the 1950s to the 1990s, and I could fit into some of  them!!! Admittedly they were mid-calf and not floor length like they were on her but it didn't matter. I was now able to wear cheongsams and if I didn't do the strangest thing next.

Some of them were stunning shot silk, some with traditional Chinese embroidered motifs.  Though I fitted into them,  I could not take them. It still didn't feel right. They were too Chinese.  I took several that had culturally appropriated the local Malaysian cotton batik .  I know my place. I'm half Straits Chinese and not even pureblood Straits (there is Dayak in there). I simply couldn't appropriate the stunningly Chinese cheongsams. It would be a lie. Never have I felt more Irish.

But what does it matter, those cheongsams are in a case under my bed in Bucharest (like they were in a case under my bed in Wessex) waiting for some glamorous Summer party that never happens, I've hardly worn them in the 10 years I've had them........ and here the late great Douglas Adams explains everything.  I am a Physicist and as he so rightly said "Physicists never get invited to the right kind of parties".  It is Cinderella in a sarong for me.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Out on a limb

Each of us approaches the faith differently.  We all have our own baggage; our own unique set of hang-ups, weaknesses and talents. More importantly, we all have our own desires; those things that drive us and do so almost imperceptibly.  Our desires haunt us if we oppress them or they can consume us if we feed them with the wrong nutrients.  Faith, to me is finding that path that somehow attunes our desires to God's desires for us so that we neither block them out or let them become distorted and the playground of those spirits that seek to destroy us. In this way faith is a dynamic, we are always having to adjust to the situations and emotions that we have. We constantly have to apply certain little disciplines on ourselves, we have to be constantly open to our faults, we constantly have to remember to trust God. It is like getting to know and old car or steam engine: it works, but you need to treat her with some respect, know her weaknesses and you are constantly having to care for the old girl, and "on a wing and a prayer", she plods on and we don't quite understand why she does.

But my approach is that of a middle aged woman and widow.  My approach very much involves the discipline of mind and body and in that respect seems to alienate me from much modern Catholicism.  The thing is, having been thrust into celibacy due to widowhood, I realised the only way forward was to grow in chastity. Celibacy without chastity is a cruel torture and slow death.   Chastity is a gift, and I had to desire that gift and let it have an effect on all aspects of my existence.  Chastity goes way beyond our sexual selves.  It is chastity that gives you a "holy indifference" to fasting (and I am not just talking about fasting from food), it is chastity that gives you patience, it is chastity that ensures you never take yourself too seriously.  It is chastity which is the foundation of all the virtues.

If we try to develop the virtues independently of the lives we live then it is like going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym.  It becomes a sort of self-worship.  You  become vain in the training of yourself.  You must allow the virtues to be knocked about and tested by the world around us. The development of virtue is just the necessary drill for the discipline of the battle.

But I find myself in a world that seems to ignore virtue.  I find myself in a church that rarely talks about it as if it were an embarrassment or a throwback to some inglorious, primitive past.  I find myself in a church where emotions and feelings are more important than constancy of purpose. I find myself in a church that does not believe chastity is possible or desirable. I find myself in a church that seems to have lost its sense of purpose but seems to believe it can build a better future (something which I personally don't believe it can). There are others in this Body who see what I see and are dismayed by it but who retreat into a grey, humourless, moralistic and rigid ritualism.  Nothing I see in the Church leads me to believe She is fit for battle.

However God is always able to work His best in the weakest and most ill equipped of armies.  It is just that He can't work amongst those battalions that forget Him and forge ahead with their own agendas.

So I'll just wait here, in an Orthodox land, reading Casssian and engrossed in the Psalms and occasionally writing a Catholic blog that I never publicise  I'm out on a limb, but God seems to want it this way, perhaps to protect you all from my stupidity.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Know your enemy

Who is my enemy? I've been thinking about this a lot.  We are commanded to love our enemies.  Surely to love our enemies means to know who are enemies are.

Maybe I've been very lucky in life. Apart from my childhood and some rather odious behaviour towards me from my peers, I can not really think of any one person who has been an enemy.  I did once work for someone who set out to destroy my career.  His behaviour towards me was utterly irrational.  It was also verging on the illegal.  My Union was involved. I  got another job and he was reprimanded quietly once I was gone.  However I don't see him as an enemy. He set out to destroy my career.  I am not my job.  He was not destroying the essence of who I am.  He was something of a tragic figure going through a messy divorce and I was in the wrong place and the wrong time. He could bully me and exercise control over me at a time when his world was falling apart.......These things make you stronger.

Surely an enemy has to attack you personally and threaten your very existence.  This is rare.  Thanks be to God.

Indeed, once you start to see most human interactions as being decidedly impersonal, you start to realise that you are seen as nothing more than a projection into somebodyelse's world  view.  You do not exist for who you are.  You either fit comfortably into a compartment that somebody has already made for you: your behaviour being to type (pleasing or displeasing), or you are a complete discomfort. In the latter case, the person doesn't know what to make of you; you are an irritant because your very existence demands they change their perceptions.

And here lies an apparent paradox.  If we accept that human interactions are rarely personal, but somehow by our very existence we reach deep into another's being and challenge them, then suddenly the interaction becomes very personal indeed!

This reaching deep into another being and challenging them is the essence of being a Christian.  It is Christ who reaches into people, not us.  We only do it if we put on the armour of Christ and reflect His radiance.  But if we are in Christ, then we should fear nothing as no matter how we challenge, our life can not be taken from us.

There are other enemies that we are not asked to love.  These are the enemies that threaten all of  humanity, humanity that has been so fearfully and wonderfully made by God.  These enemies are attacking those who dislike us (and are made uncomfortable by us) more that they attack us ourselves.  They are the enemies of Truth. They are the powers and principalities of this world, they are supernatural and they will attack those who are weak.  Surely we ought to defend them from such attacks.  But you can only fight if you yourself are strong and confident of winning.... and few are.

Our fighting does not mean pitting one ideology against another, or one set of moral  norms against another. Christianity is not one religion amongst many. Our fighting is about being vulnerable enough to reach  into the hearts of individuals and see the need in them and aid their delivery from their supernatural foe.

But to do this, we must realise the power of the weapon that our supernatural foe actually has.  He has a weapon that transcends creeds and tribes. His weapon is to say there is no sin, that all our actions are inherently OK and that by ourselves we will achieve our dreams.  However, the reality is that each of our most trivial venial sins rip the delicate fabric of the universe because they are an affront to the delicate and gentle ways of God. It is only His mercy that keeps it all from unravelling and His mercy demands that we desire, truly desire to do His will and not sin.

The enemy's power is there in the empty rhetoric of the "virtue bombing" in Syria, it is there in the Occasionalism at the heart of the Wahaabi ideology, it is there in the heart of the Capitalist consumer society, at the heart of Communism, at the heart of the prosperity-gospel, at the heart of neo-darwinism, at the heart of nihilism, at the heart of gender-ideology, at the heart of modernism and liberalism, at the heart of Free-Masonry and Rosicrucianism and it is there in Nationalism and Federalism..... indeed there is nowhere it isn't.

Everyone has swallowed some of the enemy's elixir, every one of us has made his ways incarnate in our hearts..... do we really know what it means and the high price we will pay to truly love each other?

Monday, 16 April 2018

Religion in the Public Square

I can't abide stupidity.  It makes me cross. Stupidity is for adults, children are not stupid. Children simply misread the logic of situations and get frustrated with their inability to comprehend.  Children learn quick. In adults stupidity involves wilful disregard for reason, study, and carefulness, it often manifests itself in empty moral self-righteousness, humourlessness, indignation and tantrums. So on Saturday morning at 6am when I looked at the newsfeeds of the missile attacks in Syria, I could only see the stupidity of this and was more than a little glad that I'd booked myself on a train to Braşov in Transylvania. I felt dangerously close to becoming a stupid adult full of all those qualities I so dislike in others. I would be internet free, I would not look at the news.  There are times when one actually sees a situation more clearly, and is able to pray for a situation more clearly when one is away from all the "facts". Indeed, on Sunday Braşov echoed to the sound on the only Fact that matters.

Out here it was "Thomas Sunday" and in that city it was the Sărbătoarea Junilor which has been held every year for about 200 years.  In commemorates the time when Braşov was a Saxon town and Romanian speakers had to live outside the city walls. They were only allowed in on certain occasions. This colourful event marks Romanians entering the gate to the citadel. Basically it is just loads on Romanian men and boys on horseback riding into the city in groups, each with their own distinctive dress.  Some dress the horses beautifully, others themselves. And they shout the Easter Greeting and the assembled crowd shout the response back loudly.

Hristos a înviat! 
Adevărat a înviat!

And that is all that is said apart from the riders singing the Easter Hymn is a tuneless, enthusiastic, blokey, chanting-at-a-Third-Division-football-match way



Hristos a înviat din morți,
Cu moartea pe moarte călcând
Și celor din morminte
Viață dăruindu-le.
 



A little bit of Latin and you will understand the first two lines, especially of I tell you  călcând means trample.

There are no priests, no overtly religious banners, no fanfare. This is an entirely secular and  civic event but even then without the presence of any civic dignitaries. Nor does it seem to be put on for the tourists.  I could only hear Romanian being spoken in the crowd. Yet it rings out with the Faith, it rings out with the only Fact that matters. And the people say it  like they mean it!  Indeed, it seemed to me that if the riders say the greeting in anything like a half-hearted manner, the response is subdued.  If they say it boldly and with confidence, then the crowds respond with exuberance.  There were some quite young boys on horses and they were learning what to do, it was gratifying to see.

                                           Some men and horses posing for the cameras.


I can't help thinking that if the politically correct got hold of this event the exclamations would be different so as not to offend non-Christians and some loon would pester until women were allowed to ride too.  But this is Romania.

Long live Romania!!! 

I was thoroughly refreshed by my weekend.  It felt like the Sunday after the Resurrection should feel. We must not underestimate the supernatural power of the public proclamation of the Faith.