Sunday, 16 February 2020

Не дамо Светиње

In Montenegro and Serbia, the protests continue against the unjust laws that would transfer Montenegrin church property to the state.  The movement is massive, popular and prepared for the worst.  Montenegro is not known as Serbian Sparta for nothing.

I link to a video from the Belgrade based rap band, Beogradski Sindikat to give you a flavour of the level of popularity of these protests.  You can hear the protestors chanting не дамо Светиње in the background (we will not give up the sanctified).

There are some of you who may be uncomfortable with this passionate mix of religion and nationalism.  I do not share your sentiment.  Indeed, as this century ploughs forwards and the forces of globalism endeavour to weaken nationalism, soverignty, and ethnic and cultural identity, I see this as a very welcome resurgence of defiance to that agenda. I will also add that I consider Orthodoxy far more suited to this than Catholicism. Imagine if a Catholic country were faced with a similar law that transferred Holy Things to the state..... (there is a pause here whilst you consider the irony of what I have written).....

The bottom line is that things can be holy.  Material things can be holy, just as much as the saints are holy.  They are not simply stage props in our journey towards the Almighty.  Orthodoxy understands this: their veneration of icons and relics, the blessing of food, rivers and homes, their understanding of the sacramental life...... Once upon a time Roman Catholicism, wherever it existed, looked like this too.  I mourn the passing of those days, now it only exists in isolated pockets.

In other news, Russia is wishing to reintroduce God into its constitution and dear Ireland plunges ever further into Godlessness in something akin to an embarassing "teenage rebellion".

The modern world just wants us to see things as consumer products, to be desired, used and manipulated, then forgotten or discarded.  The modern world  treats the human body in much the same way, it is no coincidence.  The modern world demands secularisation and desecration, it is utterly dehumanising.

I am a mixed race offspring of immigrants. My parents were idealistic immigrants to England with a cause and a fight in them, my dad wrote a letter to a British newspaper before I was born about the dangers of Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech, it was published.  My parents took no pride  in thier own origins, and we were brought up isolated from any traditions or history. They had discarded their Catholic faith too. From my standpoint I can see the real dangers of such nuclear family units, devoid of land, roots, tradition and wider community.  There is nothing left but consumerism and self-identification. Crucially my parents also had no love of British culture and would mock it. When you are living like this, there can be a tremendous aching hole in your life, a tremendous need for the sacred and for tradition and ancestors.  I sometimes feel like an experiment, the first fruits of a proto-globalism, and that is perhaps why I love and wish to defend those who have strong national identity. I wouldn't wish the hollowness of daily life without it on anyone.

I am of the opinion that different countries, languages, cultures and national identities are a necessary indeed vital constituent of human life.  They teach us about family, about loyalty, about self-sacrifice, about the importance of history, about our place in the world  and about the fragilty of life. They teach us about real pride, a pride subservient to humility and rooted in our trust of God (not in any belief in the goodness of our overlords).  They are necessary to counteract Babel, the edifice of which is being rebuilt before our eyes in the foolish, arrogant, Godless globalist hegemony.

Смрт глобализму!

I'm off to Moldova for a few days holiday. Play nicely whilst I am away.
(also apologies for any spelling errors, Blogger seems to have removed its spellchecker and I am lost without it!)




Sunday, 9 February 2020

February Blues

This is the busiest time of year in my profession and I have been battling apathy which has made my ability to perform in my job even more difficult.  Something has to give, I can't keep doing this till retirement. Worst of all it is affecting my blogging output ;-p. I feel like I'm losing the ability to write.

Not much to report.  Life is necessarily dull and exhuasting.  The heating at hot water are predictably unreliable (and it is currently -8 deg C outside at night). I'm too punch drunk from everything in the Catholic Church to blog about it effectively. The final straw was the 'deal' with China, that broke me and that was years ago, I haven't been right since then. Things just get worse, the CC currently feels like a Tarantino movie but without the slick production skills; too much gratuitous violence, crap plot that spirals into pits of darkness, nasty people, zero humanity.

****

The YouTube algorithm is an interesting thing.  For light entertainment, I can find myself in some seriously interesting places on its recommendation.

Music wise, I have been introduced to this wonderful site on Early Music, the presenter is a gem and all the programs are interesting and wittily done. Early Music Sources.

At the other end of the spectrum is  Rick Beato, he can bring out the music in anything and whilst my interest in Rock music is limited, he is mesmerisingly enthusiastic, a real teacher.

And simply because it exists, here is a site dedicated to Bass voices and in particular Basso Profondo (what a joy!). The Octavism Channel.

Or this Turkish site, where the most obscure but tasetful vinyl from around the world is showcased.  My Analog Journal.

There are times however when I like to stump the algorithm.  It really doesn't know what to do when I go on a binge of listening to Țigane music.  Some of it is sublime, some tacky and the great Sandu Ciorba manages to do both at the same time.  This is a sample of his craft. The Roma seem to have perfected the art of not giving a fig what people think about them.  I admire that. A people devoid of the need of validation.  Surely that is healthy.

The reason why I mention all this is because I am doing my best to drown out the religious voices that were bombarding my access on YouTube.  I am tired of them. YouTube religion is soap  box religion and as such best suited to protestantism.  Two things bother me in particular. Firtsly the Trad character demolition of Bishop Robert Barron.  It seems to stem from an argument over how many are saved.  Look at the informaton on the Bishop's site here, I am no modernist sympathiser but he is clearly in the right, he understands the nature of speculative theology, he has been misrepresented by the trads who worry me more and more each day. They may be responsible for leading souls to perdition, certainly the ugliness of their attacks on the Bishop are not edifying. Secondly is my concern over Trad blanket endorsement of Trump. Don't get me wrong, I do not suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome.  I'd vote for him over Clinton any day. But nor do I suffer from the blind righteousness of the American Right. They seem to think voting for Turmp is God's work. No it isn't. Trump is not God's candidate.  God doesn't need a candidate.  God doesn't vote and nor can you cast a vote in His name.

The highlight of this week on YouTube was Dr Ron Paul's interview with Tulsi Gabbard. Here a Libertarian and a Democrat could engage in serious and patriotic politics for the love of their country. They know there will be disagreements between them, but they have a common goal for truth and freedom. What is not to like?  This is what politics  should be.

You see, the thing is,  we are all different.  We all think differently, we will have differences of opinion.  We must be allowed to speak. We need a voice and forces which seek to silence are a bad thing.  The Trad Trumpinistas seek to silence and condemn as much as the odious Clinton/Obama/Pelosi deep state Democrats.  Neither are a force for good.

Here is a song that sums up my ramblings, George Clinton and friends doing their thing (the only Clinton that should be allowed aywhere near the White House) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGVTEP0xoiw

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Over thinking

I am by nature an introvert; content with my own company, a thinker, irritated by adult stupidity and prone to  strong emotional attachments that I dare not vocalise. I don't think I ever had a childhood, I was only ever a mini-adult, bored by the company of my peers and frustrated by the childishness of the adults I knew. Believing strongly in my own unimportance and boringness, I never developed a strong enough sense of self to have any ambitions or try in any way to assert my beliefs or desires onto others. Indeed, this blog has been my one outlet, my one way of letting what gets to me, get out of me. I think best when I write.  Speaking about stuff is embarrassing, I get hyper-animated and intense and my listener usually backs off and diverts the conversation onto something more trivial.

So rather than rant at some unsuspecting colleague or random stranger on the Metro, I will inflict you, dear reader with what is currently bothering me.  You see, you are the finest of victims as I don't know if you are reading or not and you are also free to walk away from my drivel.

First up; polarisation.  I worry how America is becoming increasingly polarised, nearly to the point of civil war.  I have sympathies with the conservative right, I have sympathies with the libertarians, I have sympathies with the non-dispensationalist, thinking Evangelicals who understand the wrongs of American Evangelicism better than anyone else. But America is losing its reason.  Anything not conservative is called socialist and socialism is considered evil.  It is no more evil than its parent, liberalism and the conservatism that is espoused is equally liberal.  America has no depth beyond the Scottish Enlightenment, it is the cult of the individual writ large, it does not have the answers to the world's ills.  The decay of the ideals of the Enlightenment is very real, it is decay because it is unsustainable, because its foundation is man not God.  America, you are sinking, you are destroying yourself and taking down most of the world with you.  You claim to be God-fearing yet everything is  turned into politics first and foremost.  You turn the unborn into a political tool, a means of measuring righteousness, a means of polarising society; pro-life / pro-choice, it is cowboys and indians, good guys/ bad guys.  Marches for Life are a good thing and yes, it is good to have a pro-life POTUS but none of this increases holiness, none of you are better people for marching or voting, they are not our means of salvation.  Humility, love of neighbour  (and that includes Bernie Sanders), gentleness, contrition, quietness, those are what matters.  The Devil loves polarisation and he is playing BOTH sides, making the divisions worse, seeding hatred, making you see enemies where there are none, making you believe in battles that ought not be fought.  There is only one battle each of us face and it is with the old Adam in us, that is where your energy should go, and only then are you beautiful enough to turn souls away from what is wrong and towards what is good.

Second up: the Rule of Law.  When I was teaching in the UK, we had to 'teach'  British Values.  It was mandatory, it is supposed to prevent terrorism and radicalisation.  One of these British values is the respect for the Rule of Law.  To quote Eamon Duffy in his book on the Papacy, but apply it to the British:  high ideals but sordid reality. Where is the rule of law in the treatment of Julian Assange?  Why was there no outcry about the flagrant breech in International Law that allowed the Americans to launch that drone strike in Iraq at the beginning of this month. And there is an irony there, that if the British had stood up to the Americans over the drone assassination, it would have done much to help stall terrorism and prevent radicalisation.  The only ones who benefit from the death of Gen Qassem Soleimani are the terrorists and the arms dealers and those who wish to destabilise Iran and force regime change (something else that is completely against the rule of law).  British hypocrisy, British shame.

Third: zero-sum, total war.  Those terms come from Game Theory and a little knowledge of Game Theory is a dangerous thing, but that is how the world functions so you'd better get used to it.  We live in a world of 2-player, winner takes all 'games', be they war or economics or wars of economics. It will be of no surprise to anyone that most of the strategies for 'playing' especially if you have forced your opponent to adopt a different strategy to yourself, involve out and out insanity and brinkmanship as the best way of guaranteeing a win. Watch out for increasing boldness, lying, mad posturing, disrespecting the law, cheating, strong words and fear.... and watch out for actions that will be increasingly insane and indeed evil.  We will live to see the day when a nuke will be dropped ( a small, smart, beautiful one, no doubt) without any real reason, and the world will condone this action (apart from some ineffectual virtue signalling)... that is how Game Theory plays out, folks........  The only way to stop this is to break up the game... but some nations have built their identity entirely on these games, would they exist if they stopped playing?

Things will just get worse and worse, our Faith tells us this.
But be of good cheer!
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Rejoice in the Lord alway!
He knows what a terrible bunch of dolts we are, and He loves us.

John von Neumann - inventor of Game Theory, digital computing and the detonation mechanism for nuclear bombs (amongst other things), probably the most influential Physicist of the last century.... deathbed convert to Catholicism.




Sunday, 19 January 2020

Једниство - Unity

You should know me by now, I am always quite choleric after leaving church when there has been an emphasis on promoting the Octave of Christian Unity. It starts today and I heard all about the events being laid on for it at Mass this morning. I am firmly with the anti-ecumenicists be they Pius XI of Blessed Memory or indeed St Justin Popovic of the Serbian Orthodox Church (fiercely anti-ecumenical and critically anti-Catholic), these two souls are much closer in their defence of the Body of Christ than you may realise and I do hope that they are together in the Communion of the Saints.  You see, there are some things that we can't reconcile here on Earth and are only reconciled In Christo, hence the complete inanity of this coming week. We can't fix what we have broken, we cause ruptures and schisms, not God. As St John Chrysostom said, "Even the blood of martyrs can not wash away the sin of schism". But to God a huge chasm can appear to be little more than a crack in a paving stone, He can read our hearts, and our unity is in Him, we should stop trying to be the church of Bob the Builder (can we fix it? yes we can! NO WE CAN'T).

I don't know how abreast you are with what is happening in Montenegro.  I dearly hope that my little efforts on this blog will encourage you to look into the situation for yourselves and pray for the souls out here.  Old wounds are being scratched, memories will be resurfacing, injustice upon injustice are remembered and the faces of loved ones who suffered and died because of it all, tear at the hearts of those who live here. Though you may be geographically far away, this affects you too.

The basics are as follows.  The western loving government has passed a law the effect of which will be to confiscate the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the country and pass the buildings to the state. This will seriously affect the ability of the church to be independent and care for the needs of its flock as an independent body. Memories of Communism are fresh here, many are saying this is worse than the Communist suppression. There are some extremely significant, ancient monasteries which are at the heart of Serbian Orthodoxy which are at stake. There is a separate (not really in communion with anyone and very much a state enterprise), puppet Montenegrin Orthodox Church, but nobody really takes it seriously.  If you are serious about Orthodoxy in Montenegro, you are a member of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The law (fully backed by the west and indeed far from being condemned by the Catholic hierarchy) specifically targets the Serbian Orthodox Church as a foreign entity and against Montenegrin interests.  There are strong parallels to Tudor England, the confiscation of church property and the demonising of the Roman Catholic Church as a foreign, treacherous power, unwelcome on English soil.  Needless to say the Serbian Church is fighting this.

There have been student protests in Belgrade.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm1U2HmOF-g
There have even been protests organised by supporters of Red Star Belgrade football team.
There are protests and religious gatherings up and down Serbia and Montenegro.
Here is a video of the recent Moleban (prayer of supplication and procession for the needs of the living) from the town of Pljevlja in northern Montenegro.  Do the people on this procession look like political agitators, dangerous anti-democratic agents of a foreign power?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86DnnK5d0Fc

This could easily turn nasty.  Please remember that the Montenegrin government recognises Kosovo as an independent country, something even usually sleepy Romania refused to do.  The Serb majority increasingly do not like their overlords. This could bring down the government, which would undoubtedly bring into play all those foreign actors with grudges against Serbia (and more specifically against her soulmate, Russia) and their pro-EU, pro-NATO agendas. 

As I said in my previous post, we can't separate religion and politics. 

Does God take sides? No.  But there is only one Body of Christ, His beloved Church.  Either the Serbian Orthodox Church is a complete fraud and not in any way part of this Body, or something else is manifest here which we really ought to be attentive to and pray with all earnestness that we do not repeat the errors of the past.

The first resting place (not the final) of St Justin Popovic at Celije Monastery, photo taken by me this Summer.





Saturday, 18 January 2020

On being helpless

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is a Christian army, and the police, carabineers, and rescue workers are helpless without the power of God and the Holy Cross

These were the words of the then Minister for the Interior in Moldova, Andrei Năstase when a large crucifix  was installed in the ministry building on September 15th last year. Mr Năstase is now Deputy Prime Minister.  I make no comment about his ability as a politician but I do pass comment that any politician who uttered such sentiment in the West would not find himself in a job much longer, let alone promoted.  But such sentiment is indeed more than sentiment, it is Truth, and may God bless Moldova for valiantly upholding the faith. 95% of the population identify as Orthodox.

Sadly the crucifix hasn't fared as well as Mr Năstase, it was removed recently because a body called the Council for the Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Equality in Moldova decided it was offensive. Poor Moldova, the Western ideologists are digging in, the Enemy is within the gate.

There is not a clear dividing line between religion and politics and Western ideas of Church and State and their separation or otherwise are becoming increasingly unhelpful.  St James in Holy Scripture  said "Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation and to keep one's self unspotted from this world" and here the tension between religion and politics is on display. It is a necessary tension, it is one that we must recognise and embrace. We are social creatures and social interaction and support undoubtedly have a political dimension.  We need organising, resources need sharing, communication between different individuals  is vital and all these things are political in nature.  This activity becomes purely political if we forget we are powerless without the power of God and the Holy Cross.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to blog about the Roman Catholic world (and the Greek Catholic world is too depressing and I am their guest so I refrain from much comment about them). The reason for my difficulty is the fact that politics has completely taken over from religion.  Finding religion in the Catholic Church is difficult.  Everything has become political and this process is made infinitely worse since Vatican II  and pervading culture that the Holy Father speak for the people of God  rather than primarily for those in Communion with Rome. The addresses of reigning pontiffs are increasingly person-centred and spotted with the doings of the world and Christ is ignored. Being true to the Magisterium ought not mean being true to the political sentiment of the reigning pontiff, yet that has become the Magisterium and whilst I may prefer to cling to the Magisterium of Pius XI of Blessed Memory, in doing so I am not being faithful to the Church. Magisterium should be Magisterium, clearly it isn't.  Read Pius XI's Mortalium Animos on true ecumenicism and then look to what the Church currently says and does.

It makes my head hurt.

Out East things are not much better though the people seem to be more willing to fight. From Montenegro and Serbia, to Georgia, to Greece, Ukraine  and even holy Mt Athos itself, there is relentless political pressure to change the way Orthodoxy works and indeed what it holds as true. Constantinople is increasingly looking like Isengard before the Ents did their thing, Phanar is utterly corrupted and in the power of political forces beyond his strength.  But what is happening, what is being driven by the likes of Geoffrey Pyatt (former US Ambassador to the Ukraine and cheerleader for the Maidan catastrophe and now Ambassador for Greece and Sam Brownback, Opus Dei member and  US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom) is a growing stress on religion on their terms; friendly to the interests of the West, friendly to Ecumenicism and utterly uncanonical and atraditional.  My Orthodox friends are seeing increasing numbers of young people coming to church, increasingly willing to defend  their faith and their holy places.  And here is the irony.  The motivation of the people is often political.  They see the defence of the church as something that must be done for political reasons, yet deep down, something else cuts through them and they see the wider, cosmological picture of our place in God's plans and our total dependence on the cross.

Things are going to get a lot uglier and we may find friends of God where we least expect and enemies where we shouldn't.

The Flag of the Republic of Moldova, the eagle holds the cross in his beak, there aren't many national flags which still contain a cross as an overtly Christian symbol.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Existential Threats

When did we start all this blind panicking over existential threats?  Have existential threats always been a feature of human society?  I define existential threats as things, ideas or movements which threaten our way of life and as such the definition can cover everything from asteroid strikes and "global warming" to radical Islam, terrorism and Freemasonry.

They have probably always existed, though, as I will explain later, I do not believe they are part of our faith and we ought to get out of the mind-set which nurses this paranoia.

I will list the different types, as I see them.

(1) There are some existential threats over which we can do nothing like an immanent asteroid collision.
(2) There have been some which are real and which need a response; the Ottoman Empire's brutal expansion into Europe and its threat to Christianity being a good example.  Battling ISIS is another.
(3) There are some which seem to take the place of religion in our secular society and whose adherents have creeds and modes of behaviour based entirely round the perceived reality of the threats.  Such threats include global warming, anti-semitism, homophobia, communism, globalism, and consumerism and I am not here making any point as to how real these "threats" actually are.
(4) Finally, there are some which are simply difference in creed, where a different creed is seen as a threat simply because its ideas may be opposed to your own, even though it has never actually presented itself as a direct threat, it could become one in the future.

It is this last category which interests me the most because it has the potential to be the most destructive and it becomes destructive when it is manipulated to become more like the third example.

As an example and for obvious reasons considering the state if the world, I will take Shia Isalm. My Sunni friends will say things like "you know, they are not real Muslims", "have you seen how they behave, the beat themselves and they venerate saints and martyrs, they do  not follow the Quran", and more bizarrely I have genuinely heard "did you know they are working with the state of Israel to eliminate Islam?"  This last claim sounds to be in the realm of  conspiracy theories and would be funny if it weren't used to fuel hatred of  the Shia.  Shia is seen as an existential threat because of the real possibility of a group of countries which could have Shia sympathies exerting real political and spiritual influence over much of the Middle East; from regions of Pakistan through Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.  My own view  is rather than panic over this, let the regions and countries decide for themselves.  If Shia exerts itself by the sword, then it will fail.  Iran was originally Sunni, its conversion to Shia was a hearts and minds affair, which goes a long way to explain its success in that country.  There are too many actors bigging-up the existential threat of  the Shia and making things difficult for everyone across the globe because they are fuelling conflict. Shia is not sinister.  It is simply incomprehensible to most Sunni in the same way Orthodoxy could be incomprehensible to a Baptist. Shia isn't after world domination and at heart nor is it after conversion by the sword, it does for the most part advocate living alongside non-Shia in peace and in a spirit of community and mutual respect, where conversion would be by example and through hearts and minds. How often is it that they fight side by side with Christians in the area to protect from the deranged and genuinely threatening ISIS and their ilk? They are also persecuted and a good example of this is their appalling treatment at the hands of the Salafists in Nigeria which is even less well reported than the appalling treatment of Christians by those same people.

But there are many actors on the world stage with the financial and ideological resources to paint them as an evil existential threat and nobody has the balls or education to stop them.

So, why do I say that as Christians we ought to have absolutely nothing to do with existential threats?

Let's look to scripture.  Whenever the armies of Israel win a significant victory over anyone else, it is when they are outnumbered, lacking equipment and bound to lose.  Their winning is simply down to their trust in God.  We are God's adopted sons, we are His Israel, we ought to  to the same.  The battles are spiritual.  Just like the waters of Baptism ARE the waters of the Jordan, and Jerusalem is OUR home (wherever we may be), we are not aggressively expanding into a physical territory.  We have to put the ban on all that is not of God (our enemy is sin, not an ideology, religion or tribe), it is this that we must fight even though each battle looks like failure and everyday things seem to go from bad to worse. God comes to our aid, indeed He as already secured the victory, the battle is won, we just have our own particular skirmishes to deal with.    Also don't forget what happened the tribe of Dan.  They overran the peaceful  people of Lais "a people quiet and secure, and smote them with the edge of the sword" Judges 18:27, and then they set up graven images in the  conquered city.  They may have been sons of Israel but they disobeyed the commandments and do not find themselves amongst the Twelve Tribes at the Final Judgement.  Their behaviour was shameful; peaceful people are never a threat and should be left in peace, even if they are not of our faith. Islam may or may not be peaceful but Islam is not an existential threat to Christianity, it is a check to us to remind us how we are supposed to be behaving: fraternal love, hospitality and love of God at all costs, even unto death.

The thing is, we are under threat, but each of us is under threat all the time. It is the Devil's plan to ruin each and everyone of us individually so that we forget God and His great Love for all of us. The Devil loves politics and inflating existential threats from all sources, hence they should not be our obsession.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

The title refers to the unalienable rights enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence.  They will come as a shock to nobody and will be taken by most as incontestable.

I wish to explore this a bit further, because I believe this "dogma" is contestable and certainly not universal and may indeed be contributing to much of the instability in the world. This is not an academic essay, just the thoughts of a rambling, menopausal old bint somewhere in Eastern Europe.  However, the somewhere in Eastern Europe is important, my views are old world and not new world and as such are increasingly difficult to hear but no less vital.

The problem is that all Americans have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness hardwired into their psyche, it is NOT a fault, it is a national characteristic, BUT it is a problem.  It is a problem because it allows for no other way of living. If it is taken as sacrosanct, anything that is not like this is somehow heretical, evil, primitive and wrong. Its roots are in rebellion, in Protestantism and in Freemasonry, it is not a "dogma" of the pre-Reformation old world.  At its heart is the cult of the individual, it is not centred on God or love of neighbour.

The pre-Reformation old world was not perfect, but it was based on submission to a higher power, to obedience, to community, to hierarchy and order.  In the old world, the pursuit of happiness is alien rather than in unalienable right.  The pursuit of happiness is individualistic and naturally finds a home in the creeds of Capitalism: having the liberty to choose how you live and how you express yourself as an individual; a consumer, a unit in a market economy. The pursuit of happiness soon becomes the pursuit of luxury. Individualism and America can not be separated, even the most progressive leftists in America are individualists even if they are not capitalists.

So what are the problems?  Here are my thoughts...

(1) The majority of Americans, when speaking about religion do so from this perspective.  Traditional Catholics (Dr Taylor Marshall, Michael Voris, Michael Matt) and Orthodox (Jay Dyer, Dr Steve Turley) are all caught up in this.  To this old world Christian, they all sound Baptist.  There is a individualism writ large in how they express themselves, a bombastic nearly intolerant attitude to anything they doesn't conform to their standards of righteousness or conservatism. It is not helpful because it comes from a world where religion is a consumerist choice, a shouty culture of street preachers and mini-popes. Religion just becomes another type of politics. The sacramental, communal and transcendental natures of religion are lost.

(2) There are also deep philosophical problems with this "dogma".  There is a linearity about it, a goal, a journey, to put it simply, there is a belief in progress.  This is nonsense.  It is not orthodox Christianity, it is a view of the Enlightenment, it is modern, it is heresy.  The real danger here is that it becomes necessary to force "progress" onto others, this is the cultural imperialism of American politics.  It is an evil. Progress sucks, things to not get better. AND the pursuit of progress only has a decivilising effect on society.  Timeless, unwritten, beautiful things are sacrificed on its altar: benignity, hospitality, contentment, family cohesion, society, social cohesion, generosity, selflessness.

(3) It makes it very difficult for Americans to understand non-American cultures.  They have done a good job of Americanising most of the world so perhaps this is less of a problem for them.  However, there are still some strong unAmerican cultures, they need to be understood.  For example, societies which basically run on the old Byzantine model of church and state but  where there is massive tension between this model and a more reforming (I don't necessarily use this word in a positive sense) American spirit like in the Ukraine, Serbia, Greece, Cyprus, Moldova and even Russia.  The Orthodox world is not ready to combat the forces of modernism, it doesn't recognise the danger signs, and in countries like Romania it has embraced it 100% and subsequently, whilst the church looks strong here, it will be gone in a generation or two.  Another example is Iran. Here is a society strongly rooted in community values, where individualism is anathema.  What is present is not an enforced, communist style conformity of expression and behaviour but a general social cohesion based on shared values and not on the rights of the individual.  Westerners just don't get it.  The vocal ex-pat Iranian community who strongly oppose the government there are those with the Western values, that is why they left.  There isn't a massive refugee crisis from Iran, a massive desire to leave. Iran works or would work if she weren't crippled by bullying sanctions. Leave her be. She has views of social order and virtue that are as ancient as Zoroaster and as alien to American thought as Confucius and Plato.  She has views rooted in theology, which is why she abhors syncretism and indeed persecutes it (but not the Abrahamic faiths).  I am not saying this is right, I am just saying it how things are. There are problems there, there are human rights abuses, but these exist in all countries, no country is or ever has been immune from this. The UK can certainly not lecture Iran on this whilst it treats Julian Assange as it is doing.

(4) It perpeturates the tired trope: capitalism good, socialism bad... right good, left bad.  Yawn, yawn, yawn.....

The problem with all Enlightenment thought is that it is essentially hypocritical. It enshrines liberty but only if it is an Enlightenment sort of liberty, it does not allow others the liberty to be who they are. However, I believe America will be great again if she takes her Libertarian, individualism to its full extremes (avoiding all left/right polemics), nothing else can be imposed on her... if she does this, she will end up approaching the old world from the opposite end and that will not be a bad thing.









Friday, 3 January 2020

Major General Qassem Soleimani- Rest in Peace

I will admit to being a bit girly about this.  The Commander of the Quds Force in Iran first came to my attention because he was simply the most humble and handsome man I have ever seen.  But it is more than simply sentiment that makes me mourn his passing.  He was a marked man since the very dubious decision of the US to call Quds a terrorist organisation.There are honourable men of war, and he was one of them. They may not be saints, they may do terrible things, but that is war.  The cause he was fighting for is just and he was a model soldier, and if that gets my blog censored, so be it. Even the CIA called him "Iran's Erwin Rommel".

Rest in Peace
Rest in Power

2020 could hardly have got off to a more shameful and unpleasant start. The enemy is getting ever more bold, brazen and indeed careless.  There is plenty to fear, but so much more to trust. Hold on to what is good, and keep peace in you hearts, because it increasingly will not be found anywhere else.

Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered,
Let them that hate Him flee before His face

***

Update: Please do not take the Catholic Herald at face value, it is increasingly becoming an organ of the American Empire.  They have the following quote from the spokesman for In Defence of Christians  (I don't think they'd defend me)


General Soleimani and his Quds Force wreaked havoc on Christians and others in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria for decades. We pray his passing will mark the end of an era of terrorism and instability,” said Peter Burns, director of government relations and policy at In Defense of Christians.

Please look at some of the ghouls that are on the Religious advisory board of that organisation (along with some well meaning souls), before you decide to believe what they say.  Further to this, look into the untold persecution of the Shia in the area.  It goes hand in hand with the persecution of Christians and other minorities.  

The fog of war. 

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Home

I have been meditating on what it is to have a home for quite some time now.  For me it involves a dwelling, a community and a land.  Of these I only have the former.  I crave community (tribe) and with this I crave a land but both of these are beyond me.  I am a stateless Heinz 57 of no distinct ethnic origin and no distinct cultural or national identity.  Previous blog posts on this topic from me have probably bored you stupid.  But it is a topic that does pain me, and it is not a pain that you can relate to unless you too have no discernible identity outside of your own immediate family, and no identity within that family because you follow a spiritual path alien to their understanding.

Going back to my parents' home this Christmas really got me triggered again on this topic.  It hurts.

My parental home, is a large Edwardian semi in leafy Manchester commuter belt.  My parents have lived there since 1979.  They paid about £27k for it then and now it is worth about £1M.  The area has become soulless.  I wandered round my old haunts and found everything sterile, affluent and gated-off.  The house itself has undergone many changes since we moved in.  It too has become sterile, Mum loves modern stuff,  and the shabby Edwardian quaintness was stripped out early in our tenure and subsequent renovations have needed renovating every 7 years or so.  It is nothing like the house I left when I went to University.  I have no attachment to it.

Manchester itself is also constantly reinventing itself, but more successfully.  It is not the drab, edgy, punk infested, post-industrial wasteland that it once was. As much as I have a romantic fondness to that most grotty incarnation of the city, I admire its vibrancy and I like Mancs very much.  Chinatown is looking very shabby and un-Chinese these days and it is many a year since there were Jewish furriers on King's St, but even so, it has an ethnic diversity and charm all of its own.  My stomach's inbuilt sat nav found its way to my favourite cheap as chips Bangladeshi cafe somewhere between Shudehill and Tib Street without taking any wrong turns.

Manchester's mother church, St Mary's, aka The Hidden Gem is my spiritual home. I went there specially for Confession and found myself welling up with tears before the Blessed Sacrament.  My journey to fully fledged Roman Catholicism started there 45 years ago, something happened in that church back then, something I can't explain, but I knew I was home.  My tears were partly relief because nothing much has changed there, the Catholic Church still feels Catholic, the queues for Confession were large and diverse, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed as it often is and even the magnolia on the once vibrant walls and the huge modern Stations of the Cross can't take away the continuity of the place; the timeless, quiet, unassuming beauty of ordinary worship in an extraordinarily beautiful building.

I was loathed to leave.  My tears were also for the state of the Catholic Church and my own struggles to remain a faithful daughter within Her embrace.  As an organisation, she behaves like an emotionally abusive parent, her offspring fight amongst themselves; abused, ignored, miseducated, brainwashed and insulted.  In ordinary life one ought to walk away from abuse, co-dependency is a horrible thing and hard to recognise until it is too late and too deeply ingrained.  But this isn't ordinary life and the Catholic Church is so much more than an organisation. However, it simply doesn't feel much like a home should feel. I am punch drunk and out of love with Her to the point of being angry.  Keeping a low profile in Romania where the Church survived Communism but is not surviving Modernism so well, is where I am meant to be for now. Anger for the most part is replaced by sorrow, I am beyond being angry, it is like watching someone die, being killed by the incompetence of the doctors, no less. [this is what happened to my husband, I've been here before]

Leaving the Hidden Gem, and taking the customary route through the ginnels to John Dalton St, not much has changed except the Swedenborgian "chapel", so reminiscent of the age of John Dalton and William Blake is now a hair salon, the Unitarian chapel is a rainbow welcome centre, and St Ann's which I associate rightly or wrongly with the Manchester Jacobites was shut.

Manchester is not my home.  I don't think it ever will be again.  But so long, and thanks for the memories and for your part in my formation.

I am still looking for a home on Earth.  It is a futile search.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth is an alternative name for Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings, it means mountain of fate.  I use it here to refer to Montenegro.  Something unpleasant is happening in the Balkans and you, dear reader, ought be be aware of it.

Finding English language accounts of what is going on are not easy, so I unashamedly link to the RT piece on the events, and congratulate them for publicising it.
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/476964-montenegro-serb-orthodox-church/
Basically what is happening is that draconian laws are being passed that would not look out of place in China and they are directed at the religious freedom of the Orthodox population who have not got involved with the small, politically engineered local schismatic church and are loyal to the Serbian Orthodox Church (the similarities to what is happening in the Ukraine are there for all to see).

It may not sound like a big deal to you, my Catholic brothers and sisters, but it is. Montenegro is run by a Peronist freeloader and whilst the country mainly has a reputation for sleepyness and stunning scenery, politically it is a very useful pawn in East/West politics.  She bizarrely uses the Euro though is not part of the EU, is a member of NATO, much to the disgust of the majority of the population, and her independence from Serbia does in may ways seem more than a little rigged. She is a geographically significant mircostate with a potentially explosive population mix.

Over the last few days there have been huge, peaceful protests against the laws.  However the State is being less restrained, His Grace Bishop Methodius was beaten up by Montenegrin police (and the rumour is those doing the beating were Catholics) and laymen defending the Bishop were also injured.  The situation is so serious that the canonical Orthodox Church in Montenegro has ordered the Requiem bells to ring out every 2 hours until Christmas on Jan 7th with special  prayers to the Theotokos every evening.  The political  opposition have been seen getting the support of the Orthodox hierarchy in Belgrade, and it will only be a matter of time before many will be hoping Moscow says or does something.  We also cannot ignore the fact the Pope has made clear his intentions to visit Montenegro (a country with only 21,000 Catholics, about 3% of the population) sometime in 2020.  It is obvious this will be seen by the Orthodox faithful as moves for abhorrent Ecumenicism and 'One World Religion' flexing its muscle.  I for one stand with the Serbs and Orthodox Montenegrins on this.

I am sorry if this post spoils your festive mood, but nobody ever said that the coming of the Christ Child would bring universal peace. It is good to remind ourselves that it is business as usual out there. The wars will rage around us, but True Peace will be found in our hearts to the extent to which the Christ Child finds His home there.

One of my favourite films as a child. If only real life and her troublesome microstates were half as appealing.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Shortest Day

Nolite timere; quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster.

Fear not, for on the fifth day our Lord shall come to you.
(Antiphon for 21st December)

Today may be the shortest day of the year, but for me it will be somewhat long and tedious.  I fly back to the UK and the dubious delights of low cost air travel to Liverpool stretch before me, as appetising as a Chinese market to a vegan and animal lover.

In the West we celebrate St Thomas, on the Byzantine calendar, December 21st is the Feast of St Juliana of Nicomedia.  She is an early martyr, a daughter of a wealthy Roman official who converted to Christianity, refused marriage to a Pagan and was beaten and eventually beheaded for her love of God. In the East they say that several hundred souls converted to Christianity on seeing her martyrdom and they too were beheaded, baptised in their blood.

I've posted Domenico Fetti's painting of St Juliana before.  I still think it is a great painting.  I love the way the demon looks to be finer specimen of creation than the somewhat plain and drab Juliana.  I love the way she has made this devil "sick of sin".  He is totally subdued.  Yet the strength isn't hers.  He is bound by the flimsiest of fabrics and it is her complete abandonment to God and complete disregard for this fallen angel that so thoroughly defeats him.

There is a message for all of us in this.  It is our trust and our delight in the Lord that defeats the enemy. The painting says a lot about our role in the Church Militant and the true nature of our battle with the enemy.

Below is an icon of her martyrdom.  On the surface we are witnessing an execution. Superficially, the roles seen in the Fetti painting seem to be reversed.  Evil seems to have the upper hand.  But icons don't work  like that.
Juliana is being held in the same Glorious Light that she is running towards in the Fetti painting.  The victory is the Lords.

So on this shortest, darkest day, five days before the coming of Our Lord, when everything seems upside down, grey, unfathomably evil, insecure and when so many seem to have lost faith or worse, turned it into a mere political trope, we do well to recall the light that guides us, the star we will follow.

I gave money to a beggar the other day. I give regularly.  I refuse to argue with myself as to whether the individual is worthy or not of my charity. There are regulars I can't walk past and there are rogues and there are some in desperate poverty. This particular old woman has her spot near one of the monasteries, I see her often.  I wasn't prepared for the beauty of the blessing she gave me for the Lei I pressed into her hand. She warmly and sincerely took my hand and she said: "May the light of God be with you always".

I needed that, perhaps even more than she needed the money.



Saturday, 14 December 2019

December 2019

I have not got much to say about the General Election/ Second Brexit Referendum, the Liberal elite always wins, and whilst they probably remain staunchly anti-Brexit, they have the smug satisfaction of having destroyed the Labour Party and knowing full well that the IndyRef#2 that will now take place in Scotland will almost certainly produce a result that will favour their agenda and further weaken the sovereignty of the nation. Britain will get Brexit but will cease to exist. But don't worry, the banks will survive, the City of London will still be the City of London, even if most of it will now run via Edinburgh, which hasn't been a Scottish city since before Culloden.  I still think the whole thing is a massive piece of theatre (this is the only thing Boris Johnson understands), my dear Britski-peeps, you've been had.

A good read on the political landscape in the UK is to be found at Rob Slane's excellent Blogmire.

Elsewhere in the world, there has been a assassination attempt in Belgrade on a Bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church, it injured a leading Montenegrin layman and souls who know more than me are suggesting it was carried out by Montenegrin schismatics and supporters of their utterly corrupt, Western  backed puppet government who are persecuting the canonical (Serbian) church in that country. When the words assassination attempt and Serbia appear in the same sentence, Europe is in trouble.

Elsewhere, Test Cricket has returned to Pakistan and that is something that warms my heart.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Cold comfort

 According to the digital clock in Piața Unirii, it is -2 deg C.  It feels rather cold and for those of us in Sectors 2 and 3 of Bucharest who are still on the old communist installed communal heating and hot water system, it feels even colder.  The system is in desperate need of some TLC, and has taken the coldest days of the year so far as time to need urgent attention.  We currently only have intermittent heating, a few hours of tepid warmth in the radiators,  and we are without sufficient hot water for a shower and have been like this for days.  The system was due for total overhaul in 2000, it never happened.  Here's to capitalism! Pity the elderly who have to cope with having no hot water.  And pity even more the elderly I see filling old bottles with water from the drinking fountains to pile onto shopping trolleys and take home.  They don't even have running water.  Something is wrong here, something is very wrong.

It is interesting how time affects perceptions.  More than a few people I know out here are becoming something of apologists for Ceaușescu.  They certainly admire his eradication of the national debt and seem to have forgotten the unimaginable hardship he put the country through to do this.  He is seen by some as a proto-Gaddafi, someone who dared challenge the globalist banking system and paid the price.  I remain uncomfortable with this narrative, though there may be a hint of truth in it. With time anyone can be painted as a hero and excuses can be made for their shortcomings.  Also, I am beginning to hear a bit more discontent about the EU and a bit more nostalgia for the communist past.  This was most hilariously demonstrated by a young friend of mine.  A friend whose father took part in the revolution against the communists and now has a free bus pass for his troubles. We were travelling on the Metro and were waiting for a train. She sank into one of the ubiquitous red seats, utterly the same in all stations and said, "ah, I just love these communist seats, they are so comfortable, they were designed with care, you sit in them, they support your back, they stop you slouching, they make you breathe properly and they were built to last". I can't say I had noticed.  The last time I had sat in one, a pool of liquid that had collected within it had not been noticed by yours truly and I was left somewhat uncomfortable and desperate for a wash and change of clothes.  The red seats were not top of my list of amazing communist furnishings.

Why am I rambling?

It is something to do with perception and attitude.  Something to do with the things we are comfortable with and how comfort controls our perception of things.  If we are comfortable with something, we will see the good in it.  Indeed, if we are comfortable with something, it becomes good.  We are so subjective and driven by our own sense of comfort, even those of us who consider ourselves to be objective, reasoning and rational creatures. So much for objective, rational thought.

I think our faith is the complete opposite. If our faith is to be lived it is all about the uncomfortableness of being.  The truth of our faith is deeply uncomfortable. It is not uncomfortable in an ugly manner like that seat I sat on with the unidentified liquid. It is uncomfortable because the  beauty we know is there, and which we crave to know, demands that we are uncomfortable with ourselves.

What about all those things in our faith that we cling to because of the comfort they bring; chant, icons, particular prayers, devotions, rosaries, scapulars, our favourite styles of liturgy, our favourite hymns, Latin, incense.......?  There are some in the church with iconoclastic tendencies who ridicule our need for props.  They see them as distractions, they see those who cling to them as somehow not formed in the faith; souls without a core, needy souls who don't trust in God, souls with plenty of religion and very little faith, rigid souls who can't come to the knowlege of God. However for me this is total arrogance.  The things we cling to are not simply trappings of tradition. Admittedly, they can work to our detriment, but often they are constant reminders of our own failings, our own uncomfortableness with ourselves, our own need of God.

A cheap prayercard in the wallet, an old rosary at the bottom of a handbag, the crucifix over the bed, grandma's prayerbook, singing a much loved antiphon........ simultaneous comfort and discomfort and much needed reminders of the one thing necessary.

Titan, my favourite Metro station in Bucharest, the nearest thing we have to an architectural treasure on the Metro, note the red seating.

And a Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception for tomorrow!





Friday, 29 November 2019

Cheap Flights

Recently I needed to travel back to the UK for a weekend visit.  It was necessary to use one of the budget airlines. This is something I usually try to avoid.  My trips to the UK are extremely infrequent the whole budget flight experience is still something of a novelty to me. My employer will pay for one flight to the UK each year, and if I make use of it, I make sure it is on the Romanian state carrier.

There is nothing pleasant about cheap flights. They increase the time taken to pass through airport security. I dislike carrying my luggage with me at all times; toilets, self-service, seating areas, and shopping are all made decidedly more tedious when carrying a weekend away bag. There are the farces of embarkation and disembarkation when overhead luggage spaces are at a premium and getting passengers settled can take so long that the airline loses its slot and the flights are delayed.

I am left wondering if it is all a charade. Is this just all one giant piece of theatre?  What is a cheap flight?  There are the same number of air crew as on a regular flight, and they work just as hard.  Romanians can not be separated from food for long so the food trolleys are well used and slow because of all the cash transactions.  Romanians also buy lots of duty free.  Indeed I have never seen a crew have to work as hard as on a budget flight.  Also the same number of ground staff are needed and baggage handlers need paying whether they are lifting baggage or not.  I am increasingly convinced that the cost of any flight has little to do with the service provided.  The prices are entirely artificial and are a matter of class distinction and manipulation.

However, what really is bugging me is that we are supposed to accept them as perfectly satisfactory, that everything else is luxury.  I will need a lot of convincing if I am to change my mind and stop believing that we cheap flight takers are simply being fed a lie.  The uncomfortable experience has nothing to do with the cost and everything to do with satisfying the need of the airline to show off its product and services and make us believe we are having a bargain. 

Rich twerps certainly don't mind being fed the lie that they can have a wonderful Business Class experience because they are worth it.  Let them bask in their own hubris.  However I am amazed by the passivity of my fellow budget travellers who accept the charade of the 'cheap flight experience' like it is necessary because of the cost of the ticket, rather than what I am convinced is the reality, that this budget crap is simply a "brand" experience and totally unnecessary.

But all modern life is a lie, a shallow charade under the cold and impersonal glow of a low energy light bulb.

Take the British elections as a case in point.  There is nothing to vote for.  There is simply one massive state apparatus which nearly always gets its way.  It was badly stung by Brexit and it is now ruthlessly ensuring there will be no more upsets. I do not carry a flag for the Labour party but the vilification of its leader by the government and the government friendly media is appalling.  Everything is being done to ensure that Labour do not form a government.  From within the party, the Blairites do the work of the establishment to ensure the party loses its roots and identity, whilst the maverick leftists are simply the 'useful idiots' of the globalist hegemony with their identity politics and green, social agendas.  The Brexit party (if it ever really existed and was never totally infiltrated by the Establishment) has fallen on its own sword, supporting the establishment in ensuring that there is no Labour victory and at the same time doing themselves out of existence.  The Conservatives are led by an extraordinarily calculating, unpleasant, insincere cabinet of former Marxists and the Prime Minister is everything that I don't want to see in a leader.  He lacks conviction, he has no morals, no integrity, he is impulsive, unpleasant and insincere.

I've opted out of that charade, like I usually choose to opt out of the cheap flight experience.  In both cases we are being had for mugs.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Hanging out with the Evangelicals (2)

As I have mentioned before, I like the Evangelicals out here.  If I am looking for a plumber or a driving instructor or help in any way, I find asking the Evangelicals is the most prompt and reliable thing to do.  I may have to listen to the lengthy conversion story of said plumber or driving instructor, but there is no harm in it.  It works both ways, if I can help one of them, I will (just without my conversion story- that is ongoing, and lacking any understandable narrative).  The Evangelicals also have some excellent apologetics and bring in English speaking lecturers of a very high quality whose theology (as far as I am concerned, is sound, indeed often sounding more Catholic than some modern high-profile Catholics).  They also know how to be welcoming and throw a party.  Their sincerity is  heart-breaking.  And whilst I question their love affair with Powerpoint and electric guitars, there is no getting round the fact they love God, they are humble, they serve God and there is no side to them.

Their gatherings are full of young souls, young families, robust, masculine men, feminine women and pleasant children. They look healthy and they do many good works. The Evangelical churches are growing in strength and have a lot of American money pouring into them.  Of course there are larger geo-political forces at work.  There are undoubtedly forces at work to splinter and indeed  break Orthodoxy, these forces don't even operate in secret any more and may be the subject of another post. However, the sincere souls in the Evangelical churches are not some set of "useful idiots" unwittingly helping with the expansionist programmes of the Masonic Globalists.  The ones I have spoken to have discernment because they are totally focused on God. Their hunger to do His will, will bring them home.  Never have I heard any nonsense about Rapture, blind support for the State of Israel, predestination (double or otherwise)... or any of the rest of the usual troubling Protestant polemics.  However, as ever, their knowledge of Orthodoxy and Catholicism is woeful and their whole reason for existence seems to be based on a fictional understanding of the ancient Tradition that is no more than a straw man... something they have in common with many modern Catholics (sadly).

Occasionally, I have found myself with the Evangelicals in the company of a not very-well schooled Orthodox.  We will talk about what we see and I have on more than one occasion been asked to explain Protestantism to them.  There is no other way than to say that it is an offshoot of Catholicism because of debates that arose in the Latin Church, but that it is now far removed from Catholicism.  I explain they try to do everything sola-scriptura but often end up arguing amongst themselves as they don't have the authority of the Church Fathers with which to investigate scripture.  I say they get sniffy about venerating saints, about icons, relics and statues, and have little concept of the sacramental life. We agree on the fact they are great people and good company but then there is what is always the "mic-drop" for any Orthodox (no matter how badly schooled).  Tell an Orthodox there are Christians who don't pray for the dead and you will blow their mind.  It simply doesn't register. Sadly such a reaction from an unschooled Catholic is unlikely.

Out here I have a life of ecumenicism in action and you know I loathe the ecumenical  movement. The longer I am here, the more I can see how far the Latin Church has drifted towards Protestantism, and how it has lost touch with ancient Tradition.  This can be seen from both sides, hanging out with the Orthodox and hanging out with the Evangelicals. There is nothing I can do, but these days I even look at pews as a bad idea and part of the rot that infests Holy Mother Church.

Return to Tradition: Remove the Pews!!
Counter-Reformation artistic excess is fabulous, but pews hamper right worship.



Monday, 11 November 2019

A small rant at my fellow Catholics

David is the Lord's anointed and the Psalms he wrote are his cries to God.  But we too are the Lord's anointed and the Psalms are the cry to God of Everyman.  They are at the heart of what it is to be Christian.  They cannot be added to or edited, they are the cry of the Church.  In that cry we often hear the cry of the Lord, indeed He quoted the psalms from the cross. Our unity with our God resides in the Psalms, all we desire and all we can truly know about ourselves can be found in them. Thanks be to God!

I will record below, every time the Psalms mention the word sacrifice.

Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things? Ps 4:6

He hath exalted me upon a rock: and now he hath lifted up my head above my enemies. I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation: I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord. Ps 26:6

Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt offering and sin offering thou didst not require. Ps 39:7

Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High. Ps 49:14

The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will shew him the salvation of God. Ps 49:23

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings thou wilt not be delighted. A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Deal favourably , O Lord in thy good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up, Then shall thou accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations ad whole burnt offerings; then shall they lay their calves upon the altar. Ps 50:18-21

I will freely sacrifice to thee, and will give praise, O God, to thy name: because it is good: Ps 53:8

And let them sacrifice the sacrifice of praise: and declare his works with joy. Ps 106:22

I will sacrifice to thee the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the name of the Lord. Ps 115: 17

Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight; the lifting up of my hands, as evening sacrifice. Ps 140:2 

So, there is a sacrifice of justice and a sacrifice of praise that are most pleasing to God.  The former requires the spiritual athlete to be at his peak, to have overcome his passions and to offer himself totally, to the point of death.  It is not the stuff of everyday.  The sacrifice of praise gets a lot more mentions, it is the stuff of everyday.  It is done in all humility as we praise God without ceasing for his goodness to us and for constantly rescuing us from ourselves.

Simple, no?

Well, dear brothers and sisters in the Latin Church, please get back to this.  Please return to the Psalms with your heart and souls.  Stop endless dissection of prophecies, stop looking for miracles and interpreting visions and apparitions. Stop endless discussions of chastisements and end times. Pray and fast by all means, and so do sincerely, but do so with a light heart knowing that our efforts are pathetic and we do them because we are pathetic, not because we can change anything by our efforts. Get back to what we are supposed to be doing, fair weather and foul, in season and out of season.  Offer the sacrifice of praise!!! This is our return to tradition.

Because if you don't you are just a bunch of miserable, faithless neo-protestant millennialists and you don't stand a chance against Old Nick and his friends.

Tha'll learn yeh. 








Thursday, 7 November 2019

Battle of the beards

Sometimes we think and say things in a flippant manner, only half believing their veracity only to find that the truth in them becomes clearer over the years.  For me, this has shown itself recently with my thoughts on Catholic responses to Protestantism.  My somewhat flippant thoughts have been centred around the notion that Catholicism should in no way ever respond to Protestantism, it has no need to. It should ignore it and get on with being Catholic.  Had this happened, we would not have had the Counter-Reformation and to quote Sellar & Yeatman, the Counter-reformation was (in my opinion) not good thing. Though it definitely fascinates me.

Too much of Catholicism centres around either accommodating or refuting Protestantism.  Neither are satisfactory.  Surely Catholicism should get on with being Catholicism?

Over one particular issue, Protestantism has certainly clouded our judgement as Catholics and it has taken some recent news from the Serbian Orthodox Church to make this clear to me.  Irinej, the Patriarch of Serbia, I think the oldest of the Orthodox Patriarchs and one of the toughest, has been fighting a battle with liberal clerics who teach theology at Belgrade's university and further afield. He is getting them dismissed from their teaching positions for their liberalism and this has inevitably caused some hissy fits.  Irinej is not much liked amongst younger Serbs, he is seen as a rampant traditionalist who needs to move with the times.  His standing has never been helped by the fact his predecessor, Pavle is considered a saint by many, young and old.  He was never going to live up to that.  I think history (if we make it that far) will be kinder on Irinej. He cuts a very Gandalf like figure in Orthodoxy, I think he is a great and holy man.

The  reason for the dismissal of these clerics started with their lack of support for the Patriarch and the Bishops who have been desperate to keep the teaching of Evolution out of Serbian schools. Any cleric in a teaching role who says that evolution is OK to be taught is now facing some sort of comeback from the hierarchy.  This will seem a bit draconian to Catholic sensibilities, but only because our response to the theory of evolution has been so thoroughly determined by Protestant thought, not our own tradition.

In the Catholic Church it is usual to say that evolution is OK, it is a theory, it is incomplete, but it has some validity in describing how life on earth developed. It is customary for us to think that we are more rational than those Bible literalists in the fundamental wings of Protestantism who dismiss evolution outright.  We Catholics have become a bit smug, believing that we know a thing or two and can accommodate evolution up to a point. We have found a via media between faith and science. We have no doubt kicked the arguments of the Protestants  off the pitch. BUT somewhere we have forgotten God.  This is now beginning to terrify me a bit. There can be no via media between faith and science, science is the servant of faith not its adversary or equal.

The thing is, the Orthodox argument against evolution is brilliantly simple and God centred. I also think that refuting it is dangerous.  The argument is this: evolution is wrong because it makes death the author of life. God is the author of life. Evolution is blasphemous.

Let that sink in for a moment.  It is frighteningly beautiful in how it realigns the Creator to His creation. It debunks modernism, progress and the man-centred view of the world.  It says there is a greater reality than the one we can see, the one where time and death most certainly do seem to be in charge.  It puts the Redeemer in charge of life.

But whilst the West is stuck in the trope of the biblical literalists against the enlightened scientists, we will never be able to act with the clarity or wisdom of our Orthodox brothers.  We need to think on this.
Charles Darwin

Patriarch Irinej

Monday, 4 November 2019

Autumn Journal (Serbia edition)

This is just an excuse to stick up my holiday snaps.  You, dear reader, are probably getting a bit tired of my love affair with Serbia, there is nothing so boring as being inflicted with somebody else's infatuation.  However, I am experiencing something new and I am trying to make sense of it, and I find typing things out helps me do this. I have never felt so attached to a place or a people.  My heart rests there like nowhere else.  Serbia makes me more me and at the same time empties me of me.  It is like the best of spiritual retreats. And yes, there is more than a little religious element to all of this, but not in an overt way. God is in the reality and the grime, the brokenness and sadness, the mundane and the dull. In Serbia I see is my passion. There is a bond between us that works both ways.

I could not write up my experiences on TripAdvisor.  They are not typical of a holiday that people would want to spend money on, and I do not want to put people off going. Outside of Belgrade, Serbia doesn't seem to have a thriving tourist industry, and though this is part of its charm it comes with a caveat. Don't expect stunning scenery or places (though you may find some).  Don't expect sophistication. The plumbing seems to be universally dreadful.  Expect cigarette smoke everywhere (except the monasteries). Marvel and the wedding parties that can go on for 10 or more hours with some incredible, accomplished and tireless local musicians providing non-stop entertainment.  If you find yourself in the vicinity of one of these, give up on the idea of getting any sleep. Don't expect the highest standards in laundry and presentation. Your concept of breakfast will be different from the local concept which seems to consists of a shot of rakija, coffee as thick as bitumen (even if you ask for one with milk) and a cigarette. But there is nothing slovenly and little that is devious about the Serbs.  They are genuine, larger than life, honest, generous and full of laughter.  I find they are very easy to communicate with, they talk with their eyes and are quick witted and we have a similar sense of humour and fun.



This time I was in the Central Eastern section of the country, a 2 hour coach ride from Belgrade.  Some forest fires a bit further East made the air quality poor.  But there were moments of glorious sunshine and the mellow warmth of the autumn light and the autumnal colours were beautiful in a mild and unspectacular way.  The North facing slopes of the hills were getting close to being in winter, there was a sharpness in the air and a dampness under foot.  The South facing slopes were still in late Summer. The seasons were at a crossroads.  I too feel at a crossroads.



Morning Liturgy at the monastery was beautiful. The sunlight was stunning, the singing heavenly and the atmosphere devotional yet ordinary.  There was definitely no sense that anyone was putting on a show. The sermon too, pulled no punches.  My Serbian is basic and I only understood a few sentences but when one of them is the quality of why fornicate when you have the love of God? , surely that is preaching at its best!




Back in Belgrade for All Saints and a rare Catholic Church. The Roman Canon was used, Communion was under one kind and on the tongue and many knelt on the floor to receive, there was kneeling in the Credo at the correct moment and tantalisingly the side altar was bedecked with the cards for the Old Rite.  It isn't advertised but I was curious.

Back in Bucharest for All Souls.  Catafalque. Lovely Mass.  I like it here.  In a bizarre way, coming back to Bucharest is never a strain or a heart wrench. My life here is good (well as good as it can when you are doing a job you'd rather not be doing).  I am grateful to the circumstances that brought me out here.  I certainly seem to have reached a point of no return.  Balkans in my blood.






Saturday, 19 October 2019

Order of the Dragon

Holidays next week.  I'm off to Serbia again.  Whilst researching one of the places I will be visiting Deo Volente, I came across this video, if you have a spare 40 minutes or so, I suggest you watch it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=AFzam0NbKRk
It is about the Serbian Despot Stefan Lazarevic, but is also something of a rallying call for Serbs to rediscover their Orthodox identity. There should be more of this sort of stuff.

I'm not asking you to watch it because I think you should have the same interest in Balkan history that I do.  This video in many ways has a far greater message to anyone interested in Europe and saving its Christian soul.  I can't see anything like it ever being made in an EU country.  Liberals would be squirming over its content and nationalism.

Stefan was a undoubtedly a good ruler much admired around Europe, both in the Byzantine East and the Latin West.  He was a member of the exclusive order of  aristocratic knights, the Order of the Dragon. This was Latin in its inception and was very much aligned to Rome.  However because the greatest existential threat to Christianity at the time came from the Ottomans in the East, many of its greatest knights were Orthodox.  It was not an issue. The code was strict and virtue was paramount and very much following the familiar traditional Catholic understanding of virtue.

And this is the point I wish to make here, that virtue is important.  It is vitally important for the survival of every individual and every society.  Virtue makes for pleasant and ordered society.  It is not exclusively Christian either.  I found it very much alive in Iran.  Shia society insists on the habitual practice of virtue and the country and its people are a delight in the the process. I can not see how a society that prizes virtue can exist without somewhat visibly draconian law enforcement, but I don't want to discuss that here.  Liberal cultures has its own means of suppression and they are more sinister and soul destroying. Virtue was important for the Ancient Greeks, the Achaemenid Persians, and most Christian and Islamic societies. It desperately need bringing into modern societies in a big way.

The question I have is, what does Christianity bring to virtue?  What value does it add?  What special quality is it in the Christian faith that raises virtue to the supernatural.

The answer is partly contained in the Serbian myth, the particularly potent view of Serbian history favoured by Serbs and so much vilified and misunderstood by others in Europe.  I can clearly remember when NATO was bombing Serbia 20 years ago and the dehumanising propaganda in the British media was openly saying things to the effect that Serbs weren't even real Christians,  they were weird, cultish and untrustworthy.

But there is truth in the Serbian myth, a truth that Christian Europe would do well to heed.  The truth is this: the Christian life is a life of virtue and virtue brings with it beauty and struggle, there is no winning, only struggle and apparent failure. You can't understand what the Battle of Kosovo means to Serbs without understanding this. And when you understand that, you will see what it ought to mean to every Christian in Europe. Christianity is about heroic failure: it is  Tolkein's Long Defeat. And only a heart truly united of God has the courage and joy to forge ahead under those circumstances.

Our existential threat is not Islam, it is far worse.  We desperately need more knights.  And just like in days of old there was unity of East and West under the Order of the Dragon, the ONLY unity that can exist between Orthodox and Latins now will be a unity of virtue under the banner the cross of our Redeemer.
Reconstructed Order of the Dragon Insignia


By CristianChirita - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=793478

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Seminal

Most of you I am sure felt a bit queasy over the events in the Vatican garden which started off the Amazon Synod the other week.

At the centre of the "event" was a naked wooden figure of a woman.  The Vatican press office, with customarily incompetent damage-limitation has claimed this figure represents life.

There seems to be a big move from within the church to feminise our understanding of world.  The prominence given to that photograph of a native woman suckling a small furry mammal drives this home further.

We are forgetting the sacredness of the world.  The world through which God Himself is revealed to us.  That sacredness means we need to reclaim the masculine and do it fast.

Life comes from the man.  Ultimately it comes from God Himself. This isn't some result of primitive, factless, scienceless understanding of our nature. It is a foundation of our faith. It explains why Onan's spilling of seed was dealt with so harshly by God and explains why Orthodox Jews to this day will not accept barrier methods of contraception (even if they accept hormonal contraception).  Seed is not to be spilt.  It has a home. Life is transmitted through the man and is nurtured by the woman. True creation needs male and female. This gives dignity to men and women, it makes masturbation abhorrent and teaches continence and masculine dignity through mastery of the body and its powerful urges.  If male culture these days seems to glory in man rutting perpetually and incontinently, then this is a direct consequence of feminising and the degradation of the male. He has become a bit part, a prick with legs; an inconsequential, ridiculous, one-trick-pony.

If you say that the figure of life is female, then it is a blasphemy.  Our life comes from God the Father and we are redeemed and given a new eternal life through God the Son.

This is not to denigrate women as being mobile petri dishes. The dignity of woman is in how she completes and dynamically compliments the man.  There is also a gender neutral dignity, but the true dignity of womanhood is only revealed through her union with man (and Christ). Man's dignity is in his fatherhood, his sacrificial defence of life and his steadfast love for his woman. Man's dignity is far more exposed through his public actions, a woman's is far more veiled. In part this is why there can not be more formal, visible roles for women in the Church.  It would be to degrade the supernatural dignity of women and of men.

So please, we must reclaim patriarchy.  It is a good thing. It is a holy thing. We desperately need strong men, real patriarchs.

We also need to reclaim our language.  I have been told that several universities in the UK do not allow the words seminar, seminal and disseminate to be used because that are too patriarchal and if the word seminary were on their radar that would be a banned to.

Stop the bus.







Sunday, 13 October 2019

Lead Kindly Light

Today Bl John Henry Newman will be declared a saint at St Peter's in Rome. Deo gratias.

Lead kindly light
Amidst the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on

It is now nine years since I went with my husband to Littlemore, he was very unwell at the time but his devotion to Newman was intense and the bond between the pair of them was indescribable.  Newman's small room at Littlemore meant more to him than nearly any other place on earth. Newman walked the path of death with my husband, he was there for him at every turn, ever the caring priest, caring for the most bedraggled and wretched of his flock.  It is eight and a half years since he breathed his last in the ICU, he died as I recited these lines from psalm 145

The Lord lifteth up those that are cast down
The Lord loveth the just
The Lord keepeth the strangers
He will support the fatherless and the widow.

Minutes earlier I'd been singing Lead Kindly Light  for him and making the nurses cry.

Newman was there.

And what encircling gloom there is today!  It is a beautiful day here in Bucharest; bright and sunny. But there is an unseen darkness everywhere.  Darkness that is a direct attack on Christ as it inflicts His Bride, the Church.  This week in the sham pageant that is the Amazon Synod, scandalously there has been no direct confession of faith in the Blessed Trinity, One God, coming from the Heirarchy.  An Italian journalist and atheist claimed that the Pope had told him things which contradict our faith in the Blessed Trinity. Old Scalfari was doing God's work.  Peter was to proclaim Christ.  Peter did not.  Instead we got a diplomatic answer which neither proclaimed the faith or stated categorically that the Pope  never said such things.  How many more denials will we make?

Meanwhile, further East.  The Orthodox Bishops  of Greece have recognised Phanar's newly formed church in the Ukraine.  This is a mess.  Phanar created a supposedly autocephalous church in the Ukraine which now answers to Constantinople and is less autonomous that the existing church was to Moscow which is its Mother Church.  Phanar acted beyond his jurisdiction.  His creation is not canonical.  It is political and egged on by the USA as one in the eye for Russia.  The Greek Bishops are in freefall.  And now the rest of the Orthodox world has to respond to this train wreck, the results will not be pretty.

The behaviours of the successor of Peter and that of Phanar are actually very similar.  They both represent the worst of aspects of popery, East and West. This "popery" is acting in a political fashion and putting worldly concerns before Christ.  Such popery shouldn't exist at all in the East and the West ought to know better.

John Henry Newman saw with clarity and his characteristic touch of melancholy what was befalling the world.  I don't think he is at all surprised by the state the Church finds itself in today.

It is time to remember that the great cloud of witnesses that are all the saints in heaven are there for us, there is so little separating them from us, they will support us on the way, and through the gloom, they are with us when we approach death or simply in the deathlyness and emptyness of the political landscape in which we find ourselves.

Glory to God for all things!

Littlemore- where John Henry Newman became a Catholic