Monday, 23 July 2012


Well, today I'm just sat here waiting for the hospital to ring to say whether I have a bed or not.  This may take some time.  If I don't get a bed this week, I fear I wont get one for some time due to the wretched Olympics and all those extra visitors to London and this warm weather causing people to pass-out in surprise and bewilderment. To add some "colour" to the proceedings we have septic tank issues at this end of the village and guess whose house is starting to smell.  All cleanish waste water is having to be carried out to the storm drain.

Still, not to worry, every dog has its day.

Sana me, Domine, et sanabor: salvum me fac, et salvus ero: quoniam laus mea tu es.
Jer: 17,14

UPDATE: Monday pm, I've been "rolled over" to tomorrow, so I've got to go through all this again, waiting and waiting.  It is really exhausting.

Thursday, 19 July 2012


I'm now being treated in London, and whilst the doctors and nurses are excellent, efficient and caring, the "bed managers" make me very weary.  There was no bed for me this week, I am to try again next week.  Life on permanent stand-by aint no fun. At least I'm on holiday and I don't have the stress of planning cover work, and liaising with other staff only to find plans have changed.  It is one way good-will can start to become eroded.

Monday night saw me staying in London at my sister's house prior to my appointment.  She has a nice place.  It is expensively furnished and stylish.  I like my own house, but it really looks shabby next to hers.  My furniture is mainly veneer and chipboard and from crap shops and I'm not interested in objet d'art.

Being prepared for the tedium of my extended investigations at hospital, I'd taken my monastic diurnal with me, these visits can become retreats of sorts.  I can't claim to have been able to pray the hours regularly, but Summer holidays and hospital stays usually mean I can commit to more regular devotions.  So there I was, in my sister's spare room saying Compline when the Collect came up and hit me in the head and heart.

Visit we beseech thee, O Lord, this dwelling and drive far away from it all the snares of the enemy; let Thy holy Angels dwell herin, who may keep us in peace, and let Thy blessing be always upon us.

It was incredibly difficult and draining to say.  Not through lack of belief, but simply hard to say.  My sister's house was not used to prayer.  The house was not used to having angels summoned to it.  It came as quite a shock to realise just how much God expects us to do; how much we who claim to be Christians are expected to do in terms of blessing the houses of those who are strangers to God, in return for their hospitality.

To end with, here is a picture of a hospital ward from the near mythical past when the NHS had no internal market and patients got beds and outside air was allowed into the wards rather than sickly air-conditioning.

Friday, 13 July 2012

The First Commandment

The OT readings at daily Mass this week are from Hosea and in them God laments over the sinfulness of Ephriam and desires Ephraim to repent so that God can show forth His mercy.  Ephraim was one of the two sons of Joseph (the other being Manasseh).  The crime of the tribe of Ephraim was idolatory, they placed other gods before the Lord.

Do a quick trawl through any digital Bible by typing in Ephraim into the search bar, and you will see references to Ephraim's idolatory, God's mercy and pity and the desire for the redemption of  a penitent Ephraim (in the Psalms, Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea).

There is anothe tribe that dosen't seem to come off so well, and their crime was also idolatory, that is the tribe of Dan.  Certainly, there isn't much in the OT to suggest prophets bewailed the fate of Dan.  God doesn''t seem to thirst aften them in the way He does after Ephraim.  The only "hero" of the tribe is Samson; the Nazarite that breaks every Nazarite vow in the book, suffers greatly for his wrongdoings and only triumphs through his death in the Lord (Judges 16).  By chapter 18 of Judges the Danites had founded their ignominious city of Dan in the Northern most reaches of Israel with their graven image, and become lost to the Lord.

Jacob's prophecy for his son Dan, does not seem all that positive:

Let Dan be a snake in the way, a serpent in the path, that biteth the horse's heels that his rider may fall backward. Gen 49:17
 I have written before that Caesarea Philippi and Dan can't be more that a short walk from each other and that Our Lord's decision to take the apostles so far out of their way to found the Church on Peter at that spot can't just be coincidence.  Whatever else, memory of Dan and the dangers of idolatory should bite at us all; loving anything over Our Lord is idolatory and that includes ourselves, our parents and our children.  Here we are meant to stumble.  The breaking of the First Commandment is more serious than any other.

The Benjaminites commit a crime that is truly horrific involving homosexual lust, rape, murder and mutilation (Judges 19), yet with attonement they come back from the brink, and indeed give us the Apostle of the Gentiles.

It seems to be much harder to come back after breaking the First Commandment. Breaking it seems to erode our very being, making us incapable of receiving sancitfying grace.  Our pride makes understanding the First Commandment so difficult, becuase pride prevents us from loving God, so breaking the First Commandment doesn't seem such a big deal, we hardly know we are doing it.

The 144,000 of Israel that are the servants of God who are saved in the Book of Revelation (Rev7) number from all the sons of Israel except Dan.  In Dan's place, to make up 12 tribes are the 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh (Joseph's son), notice how the name of  Joseph's other son, Ephraim is missing too.  One can only assume that the righteous of Ephraim will be included under the 12,000 of his father, Joseph.  All is not lost.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Poetry Corner

Rita's rather pleased with herself becuase she's managed to find a book of the poems of the Glaswegian poet, Edwin Morgan.  He was a bit of a favourite of hers at university (she's always happiest in the company of Scots). Whilst she's busy with some sewing, I thought I have a read, and I have to say, I'm impressed.  It is a sign of a good artist when their work doesn't date.  Here is a poem about high energy particle physics written in 1979, it has not become cringey with the passing of the years.

Particle Poem (6)

Their mausoleum
is a frozen slient flack.
The fractured tracks,
photographed, docket
dead dogfights,
bursts of no malice.
Almost pure direction
points its stream,
deflected, detected.
Better than ogam
or cuneiform the tracer
of telling particles
fans out angrily
itself, itself, itself-
who we were
were here, here,
we died at the crossroads
or we defected
or we raced ahead
to be burnt out.
Faint paths hardly score,
yet shake the lens, end
in lucider mosaics
of theory. Go,
bid the soldiers shoot.

Particle tracks...

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Bear Returns

Greetings, blog fans!

I thought I'd give you some of the news from this quiet corner of Wessex, nothing of major importance. I'm finding thinking very difficult at the moment, so I'll blog instead...(it is what you humans do - disenagage brain and then post something in the public domian).

The village is very wet. I've not been out much recently to enjoy tea and cakes with the ladies. Being a bit low to the ground, even wellingtons won't save me from the puddles and long grass. I don't want a chill. I'm currently living off the memories of the Jubilee party in the village. It was a most excellent do with some excellent baking and cake decorating skills on show too.

The aged bear I share the sofa-bed with, the camera shy one that won't have anything to do with this blog, is depressed. It may be something to do with the weather,even a fly past from the Vulcan bomber on Saturday couldn't shake his mood. Maybe it is 40 odd years with Rita that is doing it, but I don't think so, she is in good spirits at the moment (though we aren't getting enough hugs). Depression doesn't need a reason, it just happens. Sadly, when you are in close proximity to it and are powerless to do anything about it, it can start to drag you down too. Then again, what do I know, he hasn't said he is depressed, he is just very quiet and out-of-sorts and sighs a lot. I want to shake him and tell him to snap out of it, but there is no point.

Whilst we are on the subject of the aged bear, he has a most intriguing peculiarity. Many years ago, one of his eye's fell out and Rita's mum, an opthalmologist, sewed it back on. Sadly, she sewed it in the wrong place, so whilst it is too tightly fixed to remove and re-do, it is most definitely not aligned with the other eye and makes him very wonky. What is strange is that this wonkyness is much more noticable in the mirror. So much so, that we daren't let him catch sight of his own refelction, it is just too bizarre and doesn't look anything like him. What is a lovable eccentricity face-to-face becomes a grotesque abnormailty in the mirror. I do wonder how many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with mirrors? They may flatter us, they may mock us, but they aren't us. Why do we keep seeking their approval? What you see in the mirror simply isn't you, it is a characature, a cruel one, partly of your own making.

Rita's kicked the local hospitals into touch and is currently being investigated in London. They seem very efficient and keen to help her. Next week sees yet another in-patient appointment and barrage of tests. The worst case scenario is pretty nasty, but let's hope it isn't that. She has faith and she's in good spirits, she's not deluding herself either. That God of hers is pretty awe inspiring.

Friday, 6 July 2012

A horrid feast

This just has to be about the worst feast in the Church's year.  It is perfectly horrible.  What is there to celebrate about St Maria Goretti?  Yes she attained the twin crowns of Virginity and Martyrdom, yes she forgave her attacker, but......ought we feel guilty or ashamed if we couldn't follow her example, if we chose to live and submit to the assault rather than fight it to the death?

What about those countless children systematically raped by family members; childhood lost in a web of blackmail, lies and violence.  Is not their determination to live worthy?  Is not their daily battle (every day for the rest of their lives), a battle of scars that won't heal, wrestling with self-hatred and disgust, and freaked out by "normality", worthy of a crown.  Is not their endurance a form of slow martyrdom?

Forgiving your assailant on your deathbed, shortly after your ordeal is worthy.  Living on for decades in the same neighbourhood as your attacker is heroic.  Making a mess of your life and battling self-abusive behaviour because you've got no self worth and struggle with sexual relations as a result of your childhood experiences, is utterly tragic.  But any act of love, performed by such an individual, moved by the love of God to perform heroic acts of charity, is a pearl beyond price.  Such people are living saints and even if they can't be canonised, they deserve a voice.

Just saying....

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Faith, Science and Gollum

Here's Gollum's fifth riddle from chapter 5 of the Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

This thing all thing devours:
Birds, beasts, trees and flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins town,
And beats high mountains down.
The answer to Gollum's riddle is of course "time".  Time does all those things; depressing, huh.
But, wait!


One of the most immensely satisfying things about atttending the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is that it makes a mockery of the power of time.  Time is subservient to the Mass, and the Physicist in me finds this awesome. "Put time in its place! Stuff causation, rationalism and determinism...blow up the Enlightenmemt every hour of every day...this is a good thing".  All the immensely unsatisfying things about Physics are blown away by the Mass.


The Extraordinary Form starts with the Introibo ad altare dei. The priest prepares to align the altar on Earth with the altar in Heaven and with the Sacrifice on Calvary.  Timelessness (heaven), a single event in time (Calvary) and "now" are joined so that they become one.

After the Pater Noster, the priest says the following prayer

Libera nos, quaesumus Domine, ab omnibus malis, praeteritis, praesentibus, et futuris: et intercedente beata, et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiae tuae adjuti, et peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi.

In English this starts with

Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come:
Our grubby little lives, through the Sacrifice of the Mass can be delivered from the ravages of time and the evils therein.

The later form of the Mass does not make this conquering of time so explicit, and to me is poorer for it. If our liturgy doesn't explicitly blow away the constructs of purely human philosophy and purely human physics, what is the point in it?  If our liturgy leaves us rooted to the earth, slowly decaying and prisoners of time, why bother with it?  Are we really nothing more than the flickering candles on the altar or the fading flowers in front of Our Lady? 

Lorenz Attractor-I can't explain why I've put this image up, but it makes sense to me.