Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Lunchtime reading

I've been musing that we don't spend enough time digesting the words of our Holy Fathers. Surely their writings are as important (if not more important) that those of many saintly theologians? The Popes should speak to us with the authority and lucidity that comes from Christ through Peter. Many of their writings cover timeless issues(like the nature of the priesthood)and should not be forgotten.

Well my lunchtimes are spent now on the Vatican website. I'm currently immersed in the writings of Pius XI and finding them very uplifting and relevant. I'll write more when I've digested more.

Monday, 26 January 2009


The Grauniad (pinko newspaper I only read to get annoyed, like I only get the Catholic Times to read Mgr "Lofty" Loftus- only joking)has reported that some hospital trusts are thinking of not serving meat to reduce their carbon footprint. Well I'm sorry but the arithmetic doesn't add up, whilst agri-business-mega-cattle-farms are indefensible, small scale animal rearing is not a carbon issue. This is about the new puritans taking over the asylum and making us all more miserable and bland.

Take a look at this:

A heighlan koo

What else could turn a hillside of indigestible heather into high quality tasty protein, high grade energy, cosmetic products, clothing and glue and look so darn cute.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

North and South

Holy Name Church, Manchester

If there is one thing I’m learning in life is that I’m incapable of making a financial profit out of anything. This is no bad thing, I suppose. I’ve been putting money into a saving’s scheme for 9 years and 6 months, it was due to come up trumps when it got to 10 years but I defaulted on the last few payments so the money has been handed back to me minus “bonus”.

Suddenly in possession of a little much needed cash we have been discussing what should be done with it. Both of us are desperate to go on retreat and have decided that some of this money should go towards this.

What interests me is the fact we feel such a need for this and both for exactly the same reason.

It has now been 6 years since we moved from the north of England. We can’t say Catholicism was rosy up there but it was the major religious force, its life blood still flowed through the mill towns even if the pulse was a little weak. We could easily find a church that held confession on a Saturday morning. Most priests held monthly benediction. Most parishes did the “40 hours” devotion, fortuitously at the beginning of the school year and it was a glorious way to start back at work. We were also lucky enough to be able to attend the perpetual novena and benediction each Thursday evening. Priests willingly did the stations of the cross during lent and rosary before Mass was common. We had our fair share of felt banners, prissy altar girls, ghastly vestments and inappropriate cleansing of the sacred vessels but it didn’t seem to matter so much. It felt Catholic and we felt nourished.

St Michael's Ancoats, Manchester. Does anyone know if it is still going? It was a delightful church.

What have we found in the Southern diocese of Clifton and Portsmouth? A complete absence of Eucharistic Adoration. We’ve heard priests say they don’t think it is appropriate because it may not be promoting true devotion. Apparently we get too wrapped up in ourselves in adoration, it isn’t participatory enough. Finding regular confession is difficult. Before coming down to the south we’d never heard of “gathering”, we’re still not entirely sure what it is, but apparently we have to sing gathering songs. We’d never heard of Paul Inwood. We’ve forgotten what incense smells like and we’ve not seen a monstrance since we went on holiday to Spain, 3 years ago. Some priests will reluctantly place the ciborium on the altar so we can mediate on the Real Presence.

Our snap shot is not reliable. We have been living in rural areas, the towns of southern England are probably better served. However surely there is no need to be this lacking in catholicity even with the shortage of priests and the low density of Catholics.

Southern England feels Anglican. It is Anglicanism that runs through the towns and villages. Catholicism is an outsider and it lacks a sense of direction or history and seems fearful of having its own unique identity. Anyone would think northern Catholicism was full of animal sacrifices, the awe and mystique and near revulsion with which it is viewed by some in these parts.

BTW does anyone know of a good monastery for retreats for married couples who just want to go on retreat and not a "marriage encounter" experience.?

Friday, 16 January 2009


For those not from Lancashire or the US, I’m referring to a divided outer garment covering the legs. Trousers are just posh pants. Under his pants a gentleman would wear underpants, so the garment is rightly referred to as pants. Those who think they are always called trousers are wrong. Whoever heard of jogging trousers?

The purpose of this post is that I’m finally coming out and saying I don’t think women should wear pants in public (they don’t wear underpants so why should they wear pants).

I have no objection to these.

And I have nothing against a boiler suit for really mucky work, but I’ve spent too long in the company of men at their most unguarded (women in male dominated environments are often ignored as women, you are an other, an ungenedered thing) to think that garments like the one shown below should be worn outside of the home.

I’m not suggesting for one minute all men react in an inappropriate manner towards this garment, it is just a few, many of them university educated. At this point I was going to post some of the inappropriate comments I have heard. However, it may encourage someone somewhere to start looking at women in pants in an inappropriate manner so I have desisted.

Now you may be indignant because of my passivity in all this, why didn’t I stop the men from talking in such a manner? I haven’t really got an excuse. I’d just let men keep talking like this in my presence because I wanted to know what they were thinking, rather than hiding it from me. I found their objectification of women staggering and I’m afraid the wearing of pants by women only makes it worse.

Apparently (though I'm dubious of any story relating to a person's confession- people really shouldn't talk about their confessional experiences) Padre Pio refused absolution to a woman who kept a shop selling womens’ trousers until she stopped selling them. See here.

We women ought to be aware of the thoughts we can induce in some men by the way we dress.

In school, teenage girls are far more vulnerable in trousers that they may feel, they are revealing much more to a clued-up male than they realise. Admittedly it is better than the alternative of the above-the-knee skirt that rides up to above the crotch of the tights (pantyhose) when they sit at the computer. It is not easy for a teenage girl to concentrate on her work and where her clothes are going simultaneously. Heads in schools should have the guts to stick to loose below-the-knee length skirts for girls or how about bringing back ghastly coulottes? At a pinch 1940s land army girls do look modest in pants, but I’m not sure about anything you could buy off the peg today.

Why drag a man’s eyes so far away from the face of a woman that he just starts to respond to her as a series of curvy body parts.

OK, not all men are like this but what is going on inside our heads and the heads of those around us is important. We should care that a generation on boys reared on NUTS magazine are unlikely to treat women any more sensitively than my highly educated contemporaries. As women we should strive to perfect our modesty and femininity, we should not be hidden under a burkah or be selectively displaying bits of our anatomy, both of these alternatives are equally damaging.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Boy trouble

I want to tell you about some sixth formers (17-18 yr olds) from many years ago. These boys will be getting on for 30 now, these events are well in the past and I will keep details sketchy for obvious reasons.

The first boy was one I had a real soft spot for. He was funny, articulate and perceptive but he’d never get a good grade in my subject. This was partly due to the fact that he could hardly stay awake during the day, he was a brilliant astronomer and night time was when he came alive. I perhaps defended him more than I should, I excused late homeworks, praised mediocre work in the hope better would be forthcoming, in short I kept him coming to class in the hope he could gain even the most meager of grades. Some of my other colleagues wanted him kicked out, they didn’t want the risk of a failure in their subject. For some of my colleagues he was disagreable for another reason; the boy was wrestling with his sexuality and believed himself to be gay. He would talk to me and I would listen. He definitely felt sexual attraction towards men and there did seem to be an older man in his life who exerted a strong influence on him. At the time I treated him like I would a girl who was dating an inappropriate guy. Tell them that they were precious, tell them that promiscuity was wrong and to be wary of flattery. At the same time I’d make it perfectly clear that I personally disapproved of what they were doing but that that didn't stop me supporting them as a teacher.

Once I overheard a colleague tell him he was a waste of space and p***s like him didn’t deserve an education and he deserved to fail. I told the boy I’d heard every word of the exchange and if he wanted me to take it further I would. He declined.

The other boy was a friend of his on a different course but facing a similar struggle. I found him wheezing in a corridor with a panic attack after he’d been ambushed by some boys who’d drenched him in water and called him names relating to his sexuality. I went straight to the headmaster with the names of the attackers and was laughed out of his office and told the boy had better toughen up, it was a harmless prank.

My colleagues will not have changed their views on homosexuality nor their attitudes but in the light of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Agenda they will have to be more devious. Their attitudes can not be endorsed, those colleagues were scum in this respect. The boys needed support that just wasn’t there and drove them further into the welcoming camaraderie of the gay scene.

Today there will be many gay activists with plenty of anti-Catholic propaganda grooming our young people to join their cult, for cult it is. They will say how unreasonable and hateful we are and encourage them to believe their untruths.

We will lose souls unless we all as individuals show our Faith and Love for these young people. I see no contradiction with Catholic teaching in doing so.

Thursday, 1 January 2009


Hello again, I trust you have had a good, holy and prayerful time this Christmas. What struck me this year was how "fleshy" everything seemed. I was conscious of the frail flesh of my elderly loved ones. Also the vulnerable flesh of those who are ill, there are so many. I was extremely conscious of the infant in the crib this year, His vulnerability, trust and love for us flooded over me like it never has done before. This I will treasure but it causes pain too, the contempt for life shown by some this season has hurt all the more intensely.

2008 was a very difficult year but I don't think 2009 will be any less so for me. So many of us are going through hardships of one kind or another at the moment. How people without faith cope I'll never know.

With all my heart I pray for you all for this coming secular year.

What have I learned from 2008?

I have learned to love St Paul and can now pray to him to interceed for my intentions, I always found him a bit distant before. Thank you Holy Father.

That I find politics totally repugnant. I hate the way it divides people who should be united. I hate the way it can colour your faith and devotion to God. I hate the way it makes you make impossible decisions.

That I'm not sure I'm a teacher. I take things too seriously, I care about what I'm teaching and this is not doing me any good at all.

That the little girl who sat crying on her dad's knee 25 years ago sobbing that there had to be more to life than getting a job, a mortgage and a microwave is still there, desperately trying to ditch the latter two and not finding much of worth in the former.

I can now tell the difference between a crow, a rook, a jackdaw and a raven.

Willow burns great in a wood burning stove, but is so bad tempered that you shouldn't attempt to burn in in an open fire.

Ash and vinegar when mixed makes a brew the devil would be proud of but it cleans glass (oven doors and stove doors) brilliantly.