Sunday, 26 September 2010

Not much to say, really....

Chez Rita, we are going through a somewhat liminal period. DHs health is appalling and the docs are worse than useless; with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Emphysema and several other issues, everybody is saying he is the problem of someone else. After today's Gospel, I've been left wondering whether this is a good definition of being poor; being in need but having no help from your fellow men who have the talent but not the balls to provide the necessary help.

I have a diagnosis! I also have some weird pills that are keeping me going till the next stage of the saga; more detailed diagnostic tests and hopefully an operation. Please, of your charity, pray for us both. We are in fine form spiritually, we are praying for you, but it would be nice for a change to have a little less cr*p in the day to day survival and mundane, insultingly stupid world of "patient care".

Some other thoughts:

Please do not use the phrase Taliban Catholic: it sucks.
Catholic is Catholic is Catholic, all adjectives are superfluous.

I've been lucky enough to attend some EF low Masses recently. I have a big blog entry brewing on "the Last Gospel". Oh, how I wish it was at the end of all Masses, it reduces me to tears....but that must wait.

If you are in Gloucestershire or its environs, the tea rooms at Prinknash Abbey have books for sale from their library. I picked up some good, holy reading; The Life of Gemma Galgani (1913) and Reminiscences of Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity (1921). These books for sale are a fascinating historical trawl through what Catholics have considered important over the years and what some see fit to discard. It will be interesting to see if books from the late 1960s and 1970s prove the hardest to shift.

I wish the blackberries would hurry up and ripen. According to Joanna Bogle, in one of her books, you can't eat them after the feast of St Michael, because the devil spits on them in disgust. He'll have a lot of spitting to do this year.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

What to say....?

The visit of the Holy Father has been such a blessing, and such an undeserved blessing at that!.

Let us not now forget Blessed John Henry Newman’s desire for an educated Catholic laity that should engage with society at all levels with grace and civility. That is you and me folks, we have work to do.

In many ways we are stronger than the Bishops, because we get the Holy Father’s message more clearly than the Bishops, because we have found it easier to cast off the baggage of liberal, modernist theology, something that defines them but does not define us. The Bishops must be puzzled at how much support the Holy Father has from ordinary Catholics, how much they want to listen to him, how much genuine warmth there is for him. They have had the rug pulled from under their feet, pray they have the grace to respond as shepherds of their flock.

As the priest whose sermon I heard on Sunday said, when John Paul II came, we blew it, we never capitalized on the euphoria of the event. This time round we have no excuse, we have the Catechism, we can easily access the answers to questions of Faith and morals that the curious will throw at us. We have access to the internet and if used wisely it means, I suspect, more of us are saying the office, more of us are picking up the teachings of the Church Fathers, we are able to experience more of the beauty of the liturgy and the beauty of our heritage.

I do not want the rest of this piece to sound like a criticism of the Cofton part liturgy, however I do think we could have had better. These are just the opines of someone forced to watch it in TV due to illness. Lots of it suggested a somewhat patronizing attitude on the part of the liturgists towards the congregation. Did the laity really need a cleric to tell them to be quiet and pray at certain points in the liturgy? A bit of an insult to their intelligence, I thought. Why was the Creed turned into a cantor, response thing? (It ruined the point of the Creed for the sake of making it more “tuneful”, like we can’t cope with that much Latin). After the “non sum dignus” a server should not move onto an altar till after the priest has received from the Chalice. When the priest is the Pope, and being watched by millions, fussing servers at this point was very poor. Finally, are we too stupid to have the Te Deum as part of the liturgy? Haydn’s magnificent Te Deum was reduced to the status of some noodly organ music after the recessional hymn. It was being beautifully sung too, but it was just there as background music; no way to treat such an ancient and powerful prayer. Then there were the deliberate, confrontational symbols, girls for holding the Papal cross and mitre, girls in cassocks and cottas at that! Then there was the dreadful rendition of the Papal coat of arms on the back of Benedict’s chair, the Negro with crown in the coat of arms symbolizes the treating of slaves as kings. On the back of the chair, the Negro had become decidedly Caucasian. Political correctness, surely not?

None of this stops it being a moving, beautiful and historic occasion. It just suggests that much of the hardest and smartest work of the laity will have to be done inside the Church.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Holding vs Close 1976

Cricket is the finest of all sports, provided both teams want to win or at least wish to prevent the other side from winning. The tragedy of the recent Pakistan/England test is that allegations suggest players were more interested in money than tactics, shame on them.

Even if you have never watched any cricket in your life before, watch the following clip from the infamous England/W. Indies test in 1976. The West Indian bowler is Michael Holding and what he is doing is barely legal. It is intimidatory, it is nasty, it is dangerous and it is blinking fast. The batsman is Brian Close. He is playing in his last test, he is in his mid forties and is to my mind the best player to ever come from Yorkshire. Watch how he takes the strikes to his body. He will not give Holding the satisfaction of seeing him in pain or in fear. Look how little protection he is wearing. Notice how he doesn't go wingeing to the umpire claiming he is not being treated fairly.

I see a parallel with the onslaught of cr*p in recent months from from the press towards the Church and the Holy Father. I see Brain Close's response as the only one we can take. We have to take the bruises and take them with style, but perhaps it is worth remembering there is no body in the Catholic-bashing media who has the flair, style or brutal talent of Michael Holding.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The wolf's priest tale

Once upon a time in a land far away from everywhere, there lived a big nasty wolf. This wolf was keen to break into the houses of all the priests of that place and so he set about systematically attacking their defences.

The first priest had built himself a house of beautiful faux-baroque splendour. The house had a good lock on its door, but the lock was rarely used. The priest was so busy showing people round his home, boasting about this and that, that all the wolf had to do was enter through the front door with the hoards of drooling sycophants.

The second priest had built himself a home of noble simplicity. It was a good home but there was only a plain latch on the door. The priest himself was rarely at home. The wolf let himself in and found the house was a little too cluttered with junk from the sixties for his liking. When the priest returned, the wolf said to him “Oh my what a stupid priest you are!”. The priest replied “Oh my, what a stupid wolf you are!”.

The third priest had found a disused home of some antiquity. He lovingly restored it to exact specifications, taking care to make sure nothing was out of place. His attention to detail meant that others mocked him, for he seemed to do everything at a plod like a country policeman, lacking humour and lacking flexibility. When the wolf arrived here he found several other wolves all with the same idea. None of them could get in, though they could all smell blood (for the priest was carrying many wounds) and it was driving them crazy.

The fourth priest was busy busy busy, he had all the latest security gadgets and was pleased with his home which he constantly updated. Unfortunately, in his hurry he left an upstairs window open. The wolf came to visit him one night with terrible ferocity.

The fifth priest was very ill, much more ill than he ever let on to anyone. Everybody loved him and he took great pleasure in being with people. He was a wise fellow but when his illness flared up he found himself in great need to distractions and liked to socialise to take his mind off things. The wolf found him a hard case to crack, indeed his house seemed a veritable fortress. Then the wolf spied some of his “friends”, ladies who liked to be seen with their “trophy priest”. The priest was fighting for their souls, but they were more keen on shallow intellectual discourse and free flowing Chablis. The wolf decided to work on the ladies, it would certainly exhaust the priest, if not break him entirely.

In the same town was a young man who knew God was calling him to be a priest. The young man just couldn’t understand why he felt so alone and why none of the priests (all of whom he had served for as an altar boy) were able to offer paternal support and freely let him enter under their roofs. The wolf saw this as his finest victory.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


This is the state of things. I am totally detached from everything. It is my illness, but can it be a blessing?

I’m detached from my senses; my hearing because tinitus is a big problem, my sight because it can get very blurred and objects that move make me a little dizzy ,and smell and taste because they are unreliable.

I’m detached from my illness, I can’t fight the doctors. This is a blessing because if I wasn’t it would be seething annoyance verging on violent hatred of the medical profession for leaving me stranded like this, and for their total lack of consideration for those who may have some reliance on me. I’ve done everything they have asked of me including subjecting myself to psychological assessment, but still no answers.

I’m detached from the fact I’m back at work very soon. I can’t be anything else. It doesn’t feel right, but then nothing feels right.

That legendary feminine passivity comes into play. Everything I do has to be a reaction to what others want/need. I feel like a puppet made of lead, only able to respond to the impulses of others. There is joy in this, there is interaction with others, there is humour, there is peace. I let the world flood over me like a high tide and somehow I keep on resurfacing.

The worst of it is being detached from spiritual things. Things fall into focus best in an empty church (luckily there are many to choose from around here). I mean a really empty church, where the Blessed Sacrament hasn’t been present for nearly 500 years where just the broken remains of the machinery of the liturgy are present. Leave me among the butchered effigies of the faithful departed, worn memorial brasses and jumbled fragments of stained glass, leave me to peer through a squint to where the high altar used to stand and there I can pray. Find me a full church and let the Mass start and I’m underwater again, not quite able to hang onto anything.

So, is this detachment a blessing? Yes, it most certainly is. I’m so very aware of just what is and what isn’t possible. I’m so very far from worrying about it all too.

Am I detached from blogging? Yes and no. Yes, in that I don’t really care much for blogland and much of it’s present fiddle faddle hysteria. No, in that increasingly, I find that mentally I need the discipline of writing things down in order to get them to make sense. Blogging, when it works for me, feels like I’m writing a love letter to the world and the Church. If you fall out of love, you fall out of life.