Sunday, 31 October 2010


Suffering from schoolitis. This job would be OK if I were well, but I'm not.

My God, let me never forget that seasons of consolations are refreshments here, and nothing more. Here they are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering. I pray you, my God, to give them to me from time to time, lest I go about my daily work in a dry spirit; but let me not rest in them. Let me use them for the purpose for which you gave them. Let them carry me forward to the thought and desire of heaven.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Scary old bat

To the girl in the supermarket all excited about her impending Halloween party, who said to her mum, “I love Halloween, its tonnes better than Christmas!”

Oh how I’d love to have done my scary old bat routine and said the following to you:

Let me tell you about those men and women who have gone to “die to the world”. They have given up all ambitions, career choices and material goods to spend each day and night praying for your soul. When you can’t sleep because you’ve been watching that film of your brothers that gives you nightmares. Or when you can’t sleep because of those nasty texts your “best friend” sent you. Or when you are just scared at what the world holds in store for you; your fear of failure, not living up to the expectations of your parents, and your ambiguity about the so called pleasures of this world. They are awake, praying for you, fighting for you and what lies buried deep within your heart.

Have your Halloween fun. I’m not here to stop that. Just stop and think about the promises of Halloween. What does it promise?

It promises a fun evening with some good fun planning what to wear and what to do and what to eat.

Anything else?

It promises the chance to let go and admit that there may be a supernatural element to this world.

Anything else?

It promises mischief and misrule and a few laughs.

Anything else?

It glories in the dark, in the scary, in the cold, in the secret and in the fearful.

Anything else?

No, not really.

That’s right, it is empty and it won’t sustain your life or provide you with lasting happiness or peace. It won’t help when the terrors of the night really do come calling. That is when you will have need of those friends you never knew you had, those praying for you here on earth and those praying for you in heaven. Without their help, there are only the promises of Halloween.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Left Footer has posted the following moral conundrum:

If I had a button on my desk, and every time I pressed it a child would be saved from abortion, and lightning would strike and kill an abortionist, or pro-abortion legislator, or facilitator, or vociferous and effectual promoter, or someone who legislates or agitates to forcibly teach my grandchildren the rightness of intrinsically immoral acts, then what would I do?

I feel the need to add my penn'orth to this:

Some years back someone close to me wanted to have an abortion, she was 24 weeks pregnant and had "just" decided she didn't want the baby. I was scandalised and offered to take the child as my own, she wouldn't do this and procured the abortion, getting her mother to pay for it. I sought some advice and solace from an enclosed nun I knew. She told me there was no choice, life must always be saved, it is never a matter of choice.

This has stayed with me, some things are not a matter of choice; life is one of these things.

Is it not the case that it is the Devil's tactic to offer us choices? Are choices really that far removed from temptations? OK, choosing whether to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow university was a choice I made and not a diabolically instigated choice at that, but there are so often in life choices that affect others and these are the ones that I think should be looked at with caution. If you are faced with a choice and that choice affects others who have no real opportunity to remove themselves from the influence of your choice, then my guess is that choice is not a real choice and is actually diabolically inspired.

Your decision when faced with that choice will be based on your feelings and feelings are very unreliable.

Could it not be the case that those that stayed with Our Lord on Calvary did so because they could not do anything else, it was not an active choice? Those that thought about what was happening chose to flee.

I'd argue that Our Lady never made a choice in her life by weighing up pros and cons, she was always motivated by the desire to serve the Lord.

So there is my view; desire should always trump feelings and choice must be avoided where possible. The original philosophical proposal stinks as do most of this genre because they presuppose we can rationally make decisions and choices (and that some of these may even be correct), when really it would be better if we never did anything of the sort.

Post script: please read Joe's interesting and more disciplined philosophical musings on this theme here

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Not much to say today apart from the fact my latest trip to the consultants has left me with a black eye. My husband is mortified and keeps worrying people will think he did it.

The only other thing to add to this is that there is a very definite battle going on in this house with him who shall be given the least amount of publicity other that to acknowledge his deviousness, pettyness and small mindedness. To arm oneself against this foe the only recourse is the Eucharist, but in the dead of the night and in the stultifying bleakness of the early evening when we seem to be at our weakest, Blessed John Henry Newman is a powerful intercessor. Read his prayers and buy a book of his devotions and meditations if you don't believe me.

Monday, 25 October 2010


Our school librarian has informed me that the school inspectors do not like to see books in the school library that are over 5 years old, apparently the children have no interest in "old" books.

Well how about jolly well fostering an interest in old books, eh?!!!!

I'll leave it to Louis MacNeice to put this into words:

To Posterity

When books have all seized up like the books in graveyards
And reading and even speaking have been replaced
By other, less difficult, media, we wonder if you
Will find in flowers and fruit the same colour and taste
They held for us for whom they were framed in words,
And will your grass be green, your sky be blue,
Or will your birds be always wingless birds?

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Meet Hannah....

Those of you who have this Sunday's "Sunday Plus" newsletter courtesy of the Redemptorists will have met Hannah. She is the photogenic young woman being used to plug the work of CYMFED, the Catholic Youth Ministries Federation on the newsletter.

I have no doubt she is a lovely young woman and I'm very pleased she is willing to stand up for her faith and proclaim she is a Catholic. The problem is: is the faith she is proclaiming actually Catholic? Let's take a look.

She says "I think belief is a really personal're the only person who can decide what's right for you."

Somewhat Existentialist, methinks and no mention of God.

The article continues

She's not sure about the need for organised religion, but she likes to know that God loves her.

So she doesn't see the need to go to Mass; she has obviously never found Mass beautiful, profound, mysterious. Yet she likes to experience God's love. Yes, God loves her no one will deny that.

Shall we continue?

While she does read the Bible and pray on her own, she feels she can experience God in lots of ways....she is happy to pick and mix the bits of her Catholic upbringing which still make sense to her, and to blend with different cultural elements she has encountered.

So, Hannah is founding the church of Hannah; her own blend of nice and cosy things that make her feel good, and that she can rationalise. Doesn't sound very Catholic to me.

Shall we continue?

Something which might surprise you about Hannah: Like 32% of young Catholics, Hannah believes Jesus was a very holy/wise man.

This is just bizarre. Who wrote it and what are they trying to say. What do the other 68% of Catholic young people think? I hope they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father and the Second Person of the Trinity. I hope they know their Creed and love their Faith. However, these 32% need help. Jesus Christ cannot be just one wise and holy guy among many other gurus throughout the ages. The position is untenable. If you read scripture, Jesus is either the Son of God or he is a dangerous, deceitful blasphemer. You don't get crucified by Pontius Pilate at the behest of the Jews of Jerusalem, for being a nice/wise/holy guy.

I do hope the entire piece about Hannah is ironic. I hope it is showing how much work needs to be done with the young people of this country to make them know, love and serve God through their faith and devotion to Christ in the Eucharist. I hope it is showing that our young are lost sheep and in need of good pastors to channel their energies and enthusiasm.

Sadly, I fear the article is celebrating young people like Hannah. One feels that the Bishop's Conference feels Hannah and her friends are the future of the Church. They very well may be the future of the Church, but not without some pretty urgent catechisis and contact with the Fullness of Faith in all its beauty, majesty, humility and love.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Wholesome wheat....

Dear Religious who make Altar Breads,

My dear sisters, can I make a small request that when you make the breads, they are made with the finest white flour? Surely the Lamb of God should be made present in the finest white bread? Surely, when Blessed Juliana of Mt Cornillon saw her vision of the moon as the Host and was given her duty to propagate the Feast of Corpus Christi, it was a clean, white moon, not a sludgy harvest moon with the light obscured and refracted through dense dust?

You see, sisters, it doesn't feel right to have these unbleached, brownish altar breads and I have to make another point. It is so hard, actually impossible, to see the Host at the elevation. This is quite upsetting. Nor can the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance be seen clearly. I want to see my Adorer at Adoration, is this too much to ask?

As for those communities that add spices, please just stop, just stop.

Thank you.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

et lux in tenebris lucet

Finding and going to low Mass in the EF is becoming extremely important to us both. It is not easy to give reasons why, though you don’t need a reason to search after beauty and truth. It is not that the newer rite, when celebrated and prayed devoutly, isn’t also very beautiful, it is just so much harder to pray.

Maybe this is to do with the preparation of the priest. For the EF he will definitely say his vesting prayers as he puts on the “armour of Christ”, he is given every opportunity to lose himself and align to the Divine. Then there is the statement of the priest at the foot of the altar “Introibo ad altare Dei”, “ I will go to the altar of God”; a statement of intent and unworthyness. So often in the newer rite, approaching the altar is like going onto the stage, a greeting to the audience, a quick joke or reference to the weather or the state of the car park. The newer rite Mass starts to seem as if it is about us and our relationships with each other, rather than our relationship with Christ.

Maybe it is about the discipline of the “choreography”. The priest is so wholly engrossed with every muscle, nerve and fibre of his body, he ought not become distracted by worldly things.

What about the congregation? Perhaps we can appear to be a bunch of uncommunicative, crusty losers. Perhaps we don’t care. We feel we have nothing to be self-orientated about, we don’t want to be talking with each other, we are there to re-order our lives to God. We do not deserve what we are about to partake in, but for our sins and the sins of the world, we are there and we pray. There is solidarity in the singleness of purpose, cementing friendships seems much less important.

Finally, there is a very personal reason, it is the fact that we can listen to the Last Gospel, after the Angels have done their bit and the Sacrifice of the Mass has been taken up to Heaven. Hearing the Last Gospel (the beginning of St John’s Gospel) then becomes the first communal act after the reception of Holy Communion and after the Dismissal “Go the Mass is ended”. What more fitting thing can we do, having communicated so intimately with Our Lord and having said our personal prayers of thanksgiving? It is a communal act like no other. It shows us our position in the great scheme of things. It is an affirmation of our relationship to the Light now enveloping our hearts post-Communion. It is our first gift.

The Last Gospel encapsulates all the Physics it is possible to study, it also marries matter and spirit like no other piece of writing. The Incarnation is seen in cosmic terms.

For me it is like a caress, a loving gesture to take out into the world. It is the Truth encapsulated in a few short paragraphs. Where else should we be, what else could we do but hear it after Mass?