Saturday, 30 December 2017


Two "firsts" have happened this week. I had my first experience of a Romanian train and I made a trip to the local Ikea.

The train was fun.  I'm  a big kid when it comes to trains and railways, they are an endless source of fascination.  As with most things in Romania, the signage is dreadful.  You have to second guess everything (even most of the stations seem to be unnamed) but that adds to the ambiance.  Travelling to see some good friends in Ploieşti was about the most fun you can have for 6 RON (about £1.20).  The train had 2 decks and this was just brilliant, the 5 year old in me was saying "look I'm in a train and I'm going upstairs, wow!!!". It was not fast and it was not swanky, but it worked and it had character, and that sums up why I love being here.

I have been putting off the trip to Ikea since I arrived but the need for a standard lamp had got too great.  I had struggled in vain to find a local shop that sold lamps of any description so a trip to Ikea became inevitable.  It is not my favourite place, indeed I see it as a portal to Hell. They sell the same tack everywhere and most of it is made in China, they are killing individuality and independence.  Every Ikea is the same, I could have been in Warrington, indeed, I suddenly felt I was in Warrington and the desire to run out again and find somewhere a bit more life-affirming was rather strong. However, I bravely made my way through the displays and was pleased to see one woman make herself at home on an Ikea sofa happily breastfeeding her baby surrounded by the contents of a large travel bag of baby blankets, soft toys and hygienic wipes.  I am however delighted with my standard lamp so I have appeased the Swedish gods of interior design and they smile on me from their heavenly halls on their 'Landskrona' leather sofas, sipping nectar from their 'Svalkar' champagne flutes with a sickly, smug benevolence:  you can't avoid us, they say, worship us, they say, we are the future, they say.....

One of my Romanian friends just laughed at me when I was telling him how horrid I find Ikea.  He said: look at it, was anybody buying anything?  No? We only go for the food and to play.

What is there not to like about this place and its people?

Thursday, 28 December 2017


I remember about six months ago, telling myself not to forget the sheer unpleasantness of the light and heat that could be experienced on exiting the Metro at the nearest stop to my apartment. It was all simply too bright and uncomfortably and unnaturally hot: that heat that is only produced in conjunction with the thermal storage properties of concrete.  The heat and light in midsummer here in Bucharest simply knock the life out of you.

Now in the depths of winter things are altogether different.  I love the winter sun. I love how low lying it is. I love the way it penetrates things that are left unnoticed in summer. I love how it can be cold but intensely bright.  I love the way it seems to ask questions of us. I love its pale colour.  I love the way it plays with the bare trees.  I love the fact that wearing a fedora is simply the most practical means of functioning on the city streets without being unsighted by the glare and blithely wandering into the path of oncoming traffic.  I am a wee bit vain when it comes to hats, but the older generation out here smile so beautifully and give me such warm greetings because they like my hats, it is simply good fun.

So  what are the questions the winter sun asks?  Each year irrespective of where I am it asks the same questions.  It asks me to interrogate myself to see if the Incarnation and Nativity are alive within me.  It asks me whether I trust.  Is asks me whether I am alive.  Today I couldn't face that last question.  There is some serious unpleasantness lurking and I am not sure I have the courage to embrace it, though I can't avoid it.  Such things seem easier to face if you are more dead then alive, like Eowyn riding into battle with the Rohirrim. So I felt less elated by the winter sun than usual and felt something of a fatalistic coward.

But just like my old Irish grandfather could always find the best remedy for his aches and pains in the local hedgerows, my remedy for cowardice is always less than a 5 minute walk away.  I go to pray and touch the relic of some Orthodox saint in one of the nearby churches.  It doesn't matter which.

In the same way that you don't so much as look at the icons in an Orthodox church, rather they look at you, the reliquaries are there to be touched and it is them touching you.  And in the poorly lit gloom of the Orthodox churches,  you touch a relic as one dead and you are given some elixir to help you live.  Supernatural light. [and follow suit dear Catholics, get your relics out, make them easily accessible, make them part of the day to day function of the churches, let them get grubby, let all and sundry come up to venerate]

So back home, sleep on the couch until the divine medicine kicks in and I can answer in the affirmative; that I am alive but it is not "my" life.

Light, indeed.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

You want it darker

I do like today.  I like the fact the feast of St Thomas the Apostle (that great empiricist and positivist) is held on the darkest day of the year. The light of belief and the reality of darkness: it is not a paradox.  I like the darkness, I like the unknowing. There is something comforting in not looking for evidence, in letting go, in freeing myself from the need to know, from the need for proofs and facts. Today feels like the most liberating day of the year.  The day to plunge into the darkness to the point of near blindness and cling to the words of Our Lord echoed in the collect for today's feast.

Blessed are you who have not seen and yet have believed. 

Today is the day to strip all belief of  its trappings; of every sentiment and colour, every cosy thought and good desire.  Pure belief is something that is only found in the darkness of blind trust surrounded by the shadow of death.

It has been an eventful year for me and it is good to remember what has happened, but it is better to let go. 

I was so ill, I did not feel I could continue working so I resigned from my job.
I was in love but it was hopeless to even consider it so did not pursue it.
I had an operation that was supposed to be cosmetic but which caused me to be cured of the condition that had stumped doctors for 9 years.
I seriously consider going to Ulaanbaatar and end up in Bucharest.
I find coming out to Bucharest just about the most wonderful thing that has happened to me, but I don't know why.
I know I am meant to be here and that is all I know.

There is a bigger picture, my insignificant little world is just a part of a much bigger picture of darkness and forgetting that we all need to do in Advent if we are to see the True light that will shine on us. Tonight I just wish to let go of all, even the happiness.  I don't wish to trade on my memories, they are such false and unreliable friends.


Leonard Cohen's "You want it darker"

There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There's a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it's written in the scriptures
And it's not some idol claim
You want it darker
We killed the flame

I am ready my Lord.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Requiescat in pace

Absolve, quaesumus Domine, animam famuli tui Mihai, ut defunctus saeculo tibi vivat: et, quae per fragilitatem carnis humana conversatione commisit, tu venia misericordissimae pietatis absterge. Per Dominum nostrum.

Regele Mihai 1921-2017  

“Monarhia salvează România!”

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Audi, filia

On my table to read this Advent has been St John of Avila's Audi, filia. I have to admit that I haven't got very far with it.  It seems to defy being read from cover to cover. I am determined to read it however because it was a present from a priest when I left the UK.  Presents from priests are rare indeed .....

However, the book does lend itself to being picked up at random.  It fell open on the following pages about temptation and I want to share these with you. Nothing has disquieted me more in recent months than the Holy Father's desire to change the translation of the Our Father with regards to the phrase "and lead us not into temptation" and replace it with  “do not let us fall into temptation".

St John of Avila writes in Chapter 29 of Audi, filia.

The Lord does not allow these wars and temptations to come upon his own except for a greater good.  As it is written "Blessed is the man who suffers temptation, because, when he has been tested, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him" (Jas 1:2).... 

... you must exert yourselves manfully in the wars waged against you for the purpose of separating you from God. But He is your help on earth and the one who will reward you in heaven.

...In this way the Lord treats His own.  Many times he leaves  them in situations of such danger that they find no place to stand and do not find within themselves one hair of strength on which to depend.  They are not able to benefit from favours they received from God in times past. ..... But suddenly, when they are not expecting it, the Lord visits and frees them.  He leaves them stronger than before and puts their enemies under their feet.

As I see it, there are two extremely healthy types of "fear of the Lord".  The first is the one I always say to anyone I have been preparing for Confirmation.  You should fear the Lord like the fear you have when holding a small baby.  The fear that you might do it some harm and even drop it.  This fear is the full knowledge that you are simply not worthy to be entrusted with such a precious gift.

There is also another wonderful "fear of the Lord".  This is the fear of the battle hardened soldier.  This is the fear that you simply aren't up to the job any more, that you are serving your King and Country, but that past combat and honour count for nothing. It is a fear you will be found out, that you are not the decorated hero people think you are.  You are simply a weary pilgrim who is always just one step from a massive calamity. It is the fear that is humility. You've seen it all, done it all, nothing shocks you and you know that you have no strength of your own.

To me, it is this second fear where  "lead us not into temptation" is so apt.  No battle hardened soldier is  going to say "bring it on, I want another fight", well not unless he is a fool.  He is more likely to say "I am in your service, I will serve You the best I can, but there are some missions I'd rather not have, unless they be Your will and You are with me every step of the way. Even if I am not conscious of you being there, I am obedient to You."

But REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS! What is happening in Rome may be disquieting, but it simply doesn't alter in any way the fact there is only Unum Necessarium.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Romancing Orthodoxy

Well, dear reader, what am I to do?

Orthodoxy is simply so very appealing and it is larger than life out here.  Why should I remain a Catholic?  What does it mean to be a Catholic?  What exactly is the Church over which the gates of Hell shall not prevail?

I could write loads on why Orthodoxy is so appealing, but I won't.  Words can not do justice to what one feels in one's heart.  I am not a sentimental person. Orthodoxy is definitely devoid of sentimentality whereas Latin Catholicism wallows in it.  Both are passionate, I just like my passion devoid of sentiment.

I could write loads on why Catholicism is so unappealing.  I could write loads on why Catholics are so unappealing. I could write loads on why I loathe the fact that quite so many pixels have been devoted to news of what is happening in Rome.  I loathe the politicising of the Roman Faith.....  I can't find God, only humans..... what is going on?  There is a sickness in the Roman Church and even those who think their Traditionalism will save them, are completely infected.  Do I have to be locked up with you all by association?  Do I need to be sealed into the plague house with you all and left to die?  I want to live.  I really want to live!!!!!

I will tell you why I remain a Catholic.  It is the Immaculate Conception.  The Immaculate Conception really is "everything". The Blessed Trinity is infinitely bigger than "everything", therefrore it is not wrong to say that the Immaculate Conception is "everything".  Through Her but not because of her, God cleanses and sanctifies Nature. Nature is enchanted and She is the summit of that enchantment.  She shows forth purity, wisdom, obedience.  She was conceived naturally by two human parents who fully cooperated in the act of conception with the Divine.  Therefore the Immaculate Conception elevates true chastity to its rightful place.  Chastity is the total surrender of the natural instincts to the will of God and His purpose.  The Immaculate Conception shows so clearly the link between the natural and the supernatural and the link between Grace and Nature, without blurring their distinctiveness. The Immaculate Conception is the sumit of all Metaphyiscs; time, space and matter find their meaning through her. The Immaculate Conception shows us the love of God for His creatures and shows us what He loves the most in us. The Immaculate Conception shows forth beauty as well as purity, wisdom and obedience.  The Immaculate Conception is cosmic yet insignificant in a way that is a pattern for all the works of God.  The Immaculate Conception crushes Satan because there is no death in her. There is nothing in Her that Satan can get a handle on because she is FULL of grace, and there is no death in Her because she is the Mother of God.

In writing, I do no justice to the Immaculate Conception, She is far simpler and more radiant than my clumpy words.

So whilst the 8th December  is a special date only for Catholics, I am a Catholic.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Dragonul meu

This post is about my dragon. We all have one, it is our constant companion, it snarls, mocks and fights our better nature.  It gives a near incessant foul stenched diatribe about how everything is useless, how we're useless, how there is no point to anything and everything is there to be parodied or scorned. Sometimes it gets so personal that it has the power to make me physically ill.

Thanks be to God!

I have come to see my dragon as a gift from God.  It is a special gift that stops me believing in myself.  I would be unbearably arrogant without it.  I would not have the faith I have without it.

Thanks be to God!

What is important is that dragons are tamed.  You are aware of them, you even listen to them, but you never engage with them.  Like a court jester they often speak truth like nothing else can, often they are extremely observant and genuinely funny.  But the rest of the time they are just sick.  They are never to be trusted.

Romania has tamed my dragon.  There is something here it genuinely dislikes.  It no longer accompanies me to church, mocking the priests and the liturgy and screaming  Nazgul-like when I try to pray.  It comes to work with me.  It loves interfering with my teaching, making me lose my concentration and good humour and it likes arousing les petits diables that hang around our children making mischief. However, it is considerably weakened from what it was in the UK and I don't feel I have to fight it, something else is fighting it for me.

At home, I am amazed how little it pesters me.  It can be found, belching and scratching itself on the sofa. Most of the time it seems content to be inert and lethargic, like an over-weight, antisocial lodger with "personal problems" and bad habits. My dragon has not left me.  But I do wonder what the bigger picture is all about.

If it simply "can't be arsed", this would suggest one of two things. Either that I am about to fall big time.  It doesn't need to do any work because I am staring perdition in the face, some serious fall from grace is just around the corner and I am blithely walking into it without a care in the world. Or secondly, I have a "St George", fighting with me and for me to keep my dragon in check because they can see my dragon and they "know" it and know how to tame it. I actually think it is  a mixture of the two.

Either way, my dragon is a gift from God.  My dragon's current inertia is keeping me alert and awake to dangers and somehow I really do feel I am very much loved out here, it is a passionate but silent , unconditional and unobtrusive love, just what dragons need to keep them in check.

Thanks be to God!

And what about your dragon?  Do you know that someone out there loves you so much that they are willing and able to tame it at whatever cost by the grace of God?

Sunday, 26 November 2017

End Times

I have got out of the habit of looking at the readings for the Sunday that many of my friends would be listening to back in Blighty; those from the 1962 Missal.  However, for this final Sunday of the year, saying Lauds reminded me all about it.  The Liturgy of the final Sunday of the liturgical year in the older Roman rite is decidedly End Times.

Here, I am just writing down my thoughts about the Gospel for today: Mat 24: 13-25.  They are just thoughts, but as this Gospel passage has bothered me for years and I have finally reconciled myself to it, I thought I'd share them with you.

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of by Daniel the Prophet standing in the holy place; (he that readeth let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the housetop, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat.

It struck me today that the Vulgate does not say the abomination is standing in the Temple.  I had assumed that Our Lord was talking about the abomination of desolation visiting the Temple.  The Vulgate clearly says stantem in loco sancto (standing in the holy place).  I feel this is important.  Too often this passage is used to justify historical desecrations of the temple in Jerusalem or indeed the stoking the fantasies of those who currently see  "abomination" in Rome. In loco sancto...... perhaps that is us... just perhaps, this is the abomination that visits the Lord's Anointed, that comes surrounded with smoke and mirrors, that we give free passage to and fail to see the corruption it visits upon us. Just perhaps we need to wise up to the abomination that is standing with us and see it for what it is.

Our Lord's advice would seem like total chaos unless this interpretation has some merit.  He seems to be suggesting different things to different people, but to me what is being said is: run from your attachments, flee that which makes you feel secure.  He goes on to say, that yes it will be difficult for those that have legitimate attachments to being comfortable or bringing up children or even to holiness and the keeping of the Sabbath.  Yes we are to pray that our legitimate attachments are not corrupted by the abomination, because even they can be... and that ought to terrify us.

So how do we recognise the abomination at our side?  Most of the time we don't and this is a good thing.  Most of the time Our Lady and the Angels keep it from our sight and battle the worst of its spite that it wishes to deliver to us.  And provided we keep praising God, "who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins," as it so clearly says in the first reading for today, then all is good.

But there are times when we need to wise up to the abomination's own desire to remain hidden, obscure and beguiling.  There are times when the veil he chooses to surround himself with needs to be lifted.

It is not an every day sort of thing, but be ready for it and be prepared to flee, be prepared to run from every attachment of things on earth and throw yourself entirely on the mercy of God.  When the abomination is revealed, all you will see is emptiness. Throw yourself to the ground in poverty of spirit and meekness of heart and then you will see Christ.... and the Angels will do the rest.

The recognition of the abomination is a grace from God.  We are fools and resist grace.  However this is a grace that perhaps those of us with some degree of spiritual maturity ought not to fear.

Praise God, fast and go to Confession!
Happy Advent.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Wake up, sleeper

At the Divine Liturgy today we had this wonderful passage from Ephesians (5: 9-19)

For the fruit of the light is in all goodness, and justice, and truth; 
Proving what is well pleasing to God:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 
For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of. 
But all things that are reproved, are made manifest by the light; for all that is made manifest is light. Wherefore he saith: Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten thee.  
See therefore, brethren, how you walk circumspectly: not as unwise,
But as wise: redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 
Wherefore become not unwise, but understanding what is the will of God. 
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is luxury; but be ye filled with the holy Spirit, 
Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord;

And whilst my new home is a wonderful country, it is not immune to darkness and dark things. Right now I needed to hear more about the light.  This was good to hear. 

Heretic that I may be, I do not think the so called "Traditional Latin Mass" per se will cure everything from the vocations crisis to hemorrhoids. I fact I don't think it can "solve" anything.  All times are evil, nothing changes, our only remit is to make melody in our hearts to the Lord....... why are we so keen to look for problems to solve?  Crosswords and Sudoku are for solving if that floats your boat, but life.... no that is for living and being alive is about what is in our hearts, not what we do or how we like to do things.

I'm learning the Romanian National Anthem, I fear I will be asked to sing it shortly, it is jolly good, you can listen here.  Two verses stick out.(for which I have given the English below).... and in these days of a Europe dominated by the ideas of George Soros and his money, perhaps the words are as prescient as ever. The new evil may well turn out to be a far greater threat than Nazis, Soviets or Ottomans ever imposed for the simple fact that most are asleep or so fixated with 4G that they cannot see it... and sadly those that can see it seem to be heading down the path of obnoxious Nationalism rather than a genuinely Christian response.

 Wake up, Romanian, from the sleep of death
 Into which you have been sunk by the barbaric tyrants
Now, or never, make a new fate for yourself,
 To which even your cruel enemies will bow.

 Priests, lead with your crucifixes, for our army is Christian,
 The motto is Liberty and its goal is holy,
 Better to die in battle, in full glory,
 Than to once again be slaves upon our ancient ground!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Cyril says ....

Those of you who have not trawled through the archive of this blog, may be unaware of my existence.  I am Cyril Bonaventure d'Wombat. A year or so after the death of the owner of this blog's husband I was commissioned to take control of all things practical relating to the running of this household.  I was sent to live the Tigersh-One and have been part of her staff ever since. My exact remit is:
  • to make sure finances run smoothly
  • to do the cooking on a Saturday
  • to keep the mistress of the house stocked up with oven chips
  • to oversee practicalities like the paying of bills
  • to remind her to do things as she is prone to forget
I am extremely good at my job and financially independent. I trade in "Square Poo", and dump some of the profits from this enterprise into her account on a regular basis so in effect I pay for my keep.

Now that business has transferred to Eastern Europe, there has not been much in the way of change to my role. Dealing with bills now involves me having to open the door to Mr Popescu once a month who comes to read the meters, he returns few days later with a hand written bill in neat a copperplate. Finances are finances, cooking is cooking and reminders are reminders wherever you are, but oven chips are not universal.  The only ones I can find are Polish and they are unpleasant in taste and texture.

She-who-pays-the-rent is in good spirits.  She likes it here. She wants to stay for many more years and even says to me she wants to die out here. Arranging funerals may go beyond the capabilities of a wombat (apart from the ability to dig a damn fine hole). I'm hoping that such an event is a long way off. I'm actually hoping that husband number 2 reveals his identity at some point, I'm sure he is out here somewhere, though she is more fiercely independent than a wombat and seems to scare most men off  either by her brutal honesty or because they perceive her as some sort of mega-brained know-it-all.

I have no desire to return to darkest Wessex either.  I like the new abode, it is clean and bright and there isn't a clerical item in sight, she's not mending or cleaning anything for the Men in Black out here. Perfect oven chips and husbands can wait.  She doesn't seem that desperate for either but she doesn't tell me everything.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Let's Talk About Sin

If we are to sin, we are usually tempted first.  God does not tempt us directly, but there are times when He allows the world, the flesh and the devil to do their bit and tempt us away from the narrow path. We are never tempted beyond what we can overcome, or (in other words) beyond our ability to call on God for help. As Adolphe Tanquerey so succinctly says in his marvellous manual "The Spiritual Life", the sin only takes place when the following three things happen in order: suggestion, pleasure, consent.

Suggestion is the proposal of some evil.
Pleasure follows suggestion, where the person feels a sensation of being drawn towards the suggestion. Pleasure does not have to be pleasurable, indeed in sins surrounding despair, bitterness and emptyness, the sensation is far from pleasant and may indeed be an absence of all sensation and a horrific, all consuming staring into the abyss.
Consent is where the will delights and acquiesces to the suggestion.

It is an act of great heroism to withhold the acquiescence and combat the temptation and we are not really up to it.

OK so much for the text books.  I'm not so sure real life is quite so straightforward and the massive problem we all have is a belief in our own morality and the way we confuse morality with the Divine Law. Morality is usually born of disgust and therefore not part of our higher faculties. Morality is not strong enough to stand up to temptation.  The thing about the spiritual life is that our moral compass disappears when tempted.  The suggestions we face and which are coloured by the world, the flesh or the devil so often feel right, feel just, and indeed feel heaven sent.  Our conscience, so called, doesn't have a chance.

In the field of love this is particularly problematic.  Love is a good.  Love comes from God.  How that love is demonstrated is up to us and we are pathetic at truly loving and aiming as high as possible with those expressions of love. The flesh alone wants to be the theatre in which the acts of love take place. There are other dimensions to love which will be neglected if this is the case.

Today in the Greek-Catholic church we had the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan.  If we claim to be Christians in Communion with Our Lord then it is not enough to avoid sin like the Levite who passed by and did not help the dying man. There are times when avoidance of occasions of sin is not enough.  There are times when we can't walk on by.  There are times when  we see Christ in someone so beaten up by life's horrors and the offering of our love may well be misinterpreted and an occasion for sin, but to ignore them would be a greater sin. We too are beaten up, broken and worthless but we have something to give, something that will help, we are made to be generous.

And marvellously the Byzantine Rite comes to the rescue and as we say before Communion: I will not kiss You as did Judas.

Think on that.  Think hard.  If we see Christ in our love, then we must respond accordingly and not be a traitor to His Love.  We must not kiss as did Judas.

The heroism is in knowing our powerlessness and in handing everything over to God.  The heroism is remembering the First Commandment (remembering Love) and turning everything 100% over to God who is Love when every petty imagining is drawing us further and further away from this.

We then overcome sin without realising.  We do not realise we are doing so, because it is not us that is doing so, it is Christ.  However, the fruits of this will be visible for all to see: peace, chastity, patience, honour, manliness, wisdom and a light heart..... 

Saturday, 4 November 2017


There is a movement within the Church of heart-breakingly sincere, well-educated, passionate Catholics with whom it is easy to have every sympathy.  However this doesn't stop them from being wrong.  They see themselves as a remnant of the True Faith, like small furry, lace loving mammals hiding in dark places till the big brash polyester dinosaurs of the 1970s have died out and they can reign supreme. They rally round their pet Bishops and have a good self-support network.  They are a good and wholesome bunch of folk and I don't dislike them in any way.  But they are wrong.

The notion of the remnant is simply not Catholic.  Catholic means universal, it is not to be found in any one style of the Mass, any one method of prayer, any one group of like-minded individuals. The universal Church is simply that, universal.  It is found wherever souls are grafted onto the Living Vine.  All that is not of Christ will wither, and it doesn't need our help to do this, it will happen all by itself.

I am writing from a country with no Traditional Latin Mass, and I do wonder if it would be welcome here. There are a significant number of the population who are familiar with Latin.  There is a genuine religiosity about the people, a reverence and an unblinking acceptance of the numinous and supernatural.  Modernism has very little hold over the hearts and minds of the faithful.  Yet a TLM community will probably never happen and the idea of the TLM and traditional custom and practice being parachuted in to "save" the good folk of this land, is absurd.  They are faithful and they are not part of the remnant, they are very much mainstream. And for myself, cut off form my own access to the TLM which I love, I have been made only too aware of the power of the sacraments irrespective of the rite.  It is the priesthood and the sacraments that matter.

The vast majority of Catholics throughout the world are living faithful to the Gospels and teaching of the Apostles, yet they are not Traditionalists.  The traditionalist remnant is a response to "first world" problems: the lack of faith and the problem of cutting God down to size to "fit" our human concerns. To my way of thinking the remnant's response is a very protestant response.  It involves believing you are right, it involves conviction, it involves some notion that progress and change happen.  They don't.  The Catholic Church has always been a mess, and filled with corruption.  It is simply a miracle (or is it The Miracle) that She keeps going.  And they make the grave error of cutting God down to size to fit into their way of thinking, they see problems and solutions, not the Glory of God.

Each and everyone of us is a microcosm of the Church.  Each and every one of us has within us access to the means of salvation and eternal blessedness, and we have the free will to choose to do this, access to the TLM makes no difference to this fact.

That the Church is tired and that Modernism has brought Her to a sorry state of internal conflict are irrefutable facts.  There is no solution.  We are fighting the long-defeat and it is about time we started living this reality and stopped trying to make things better.

Let God arise!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What is love?

What is love?
I’m talking about the stuff that overwhelms a pair of adult human beings with surprise and heroism and engulfs the pair in emotions from the most base to the transcendent.  Normally I write about the more unrequited version of the same thing. Here I write about what happens when it is devastating on both sides. It arrives unbidden, leaves some indelible mark and either fades back into the shadows or feeds like a welcome parasite on the stricken pair, who often submit in total powerlessness to its desires.

I am far too scientific and genuinely unromantic to pay too much attention to the emotions involved.  They are like waves on the shore, they can be of any strength including utterly overpowering.  The feelings can be sweet agony or a simple lightness of heart.  I will not feed them and nurture them as I don’t ever wish them to be my own; a thing I have crafted, an idol of my own making.  That way is the way to narcissism. So, the feelings and all the bio-chemical confusion therein do their worst, I can detach myself from that, heartless bitch that I am. 

But there is something else there, and the eyes of the lovers find a home in each other...

I am fond of echoing the Church Fathers and saying “love is an act of the will”, and this is where I seem to be out of step with the modern world. However, love is desiring what is best for the other, whatever that “best” may be.  It is total dedication to that cause, no matter how futile it may be for yourself.  Most of the time we do not know what is best, only that there exists a best and that we are part of that “best”.  This is an act of the will.  No base emotions, lust or sentiment  will take you there because emotions  are transient.  Loving as an act of the will has to happen when feelings have fled, when nearly anything but loving may seem preferable, when there is no pleasure in the act of loving, when there is darkness, or when the futility is at its most pronounced or when it seems to be simply absurd.

But if I don’t know what is best, then how does this come about?

Love must involve a complete distrust of self at the same time as ensuring the beloved must have total trust in you. This seems to be a paradox, but one we must live in its entirety. It involves detachment from self and it involves God.  It is impossible for any relationship to be lived in its fullness without God.  God is the source of all love and goodness, there is no love without God.  The genuine love two people will have for each other will either become idolatry or it simply will not last unless its Author is guiding every step. And this doesn’t involve some massive religious conversion, just trust and a deep down acceptance of the Law He has written in our hearts. We do know how we should behave and when we do, we know it is for the best.

The romance occurs when the heroic chastity and self-restraint are mutual, when there is total self-giving, unconditional love and above all a delight in the beloved because they are a creature of God. A creature, who for some inexplicable reason your own growth and own journey to heaven is inexorably linked.

It is a darkness yet it is light, it terrifying yet gentle, it can be sad beyond words yet full of joy. Love is the eternal ecstasy of heaven already germinating  within us, why do we so often make such a mess of letting it grow?

Tuesday, 31 October 2017


F.W. Faber C.O, that is.....  and here are a few timely words from him. To me they speak of the Reformation and our dealings with Protestantism , they were published in 1856.

The forgetfulness that we are creatures... is an error which is less obviously hateful than a direct forgetfulness of God, and consequently it wins its way into holy places where the other would find no admittance.

.. When a Catholic enters into intimate dealings with Protestants, he must not forget to place his sentries, and act as if he was in an enemy's country; and this is unkindly work, and as miserable as it is unkindly. Yet so it is.  When newspapers tell us that Catholicism is always more reasonable and less superstitious when it is in the immediate presence of Protestantism, they indicate something which they have observed, namely a change.  Now if our religion be changed by Protestantism, we can have little difficulty in deciding whether it has changed for better or worse ......

Sadly (tragically) I think today many Catholics would say Catholicism is changed for the better.  What do I care?  Here I am serving and praising God, protected by the fiery wings of the Cherubim and Seraphim in an Orthodox land. And I don't deserve this blessing one bit. It is just that in peering out towards all thing Roman from this wonderful country and its people, the repugnance of celebrating the Reformation is magnified so as to appear a grotesque spectacle of self-congratulatory faux humility and faux Charity.


Dear Fr Faber, I wonder if I will ever be back in London to leave more roses on your memorial stone in the Brompton Oratory.  I have so much to thank you for.  You are at least in part responsible for my being out here.... and it is only out here that I have felt that I am living the Faith, or to be more precise, that I feel alive. I am away from that "miserable", "unkindly" and utterly exhuasting work and battles for the Truth that back in Blighty, took the place of simple faith in the living God. 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Just so that you know ....

... after nearly 2 years, it is time to hand you back completely to the care of your Guardian Angels.   Your soul is beautiful but you are more swan than cormorant, what happens above and below the waterline are so very different. Perhaps I could see too much .......

Bendictus Dominus die quotidie. Prosperum iter faciat nobis Deus salutarium nostrorum. 

I am out here now for some other purpose that is slowly being revealed to me, and there is joy in my heart......

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Angels and Demons

I wrote this piece below for the a creative writing competition at my last workplace. It got a prize... not bad for a Physicist ...... With all the nonsense of Halloween coming up, I was reminded of it again and it may help explain why I'll not be getting into the party spirit for that occasion ..... just thought you might be interested......

Somewhere in England, an angel and a demon are sitting on a tree stump watching people in a park.
The demon speaks:

What is it that you see? These creatures before us. Flesh and blood
Stinky stinky flesh and blood
(ponder and pause)
I find them funny.  Yes, most of the time I find them really funny. 
See that tired old man. Look!  Him and his dog.
He’s shuffling. Little doggie’s shuffling.
He’s got a vacant stare.  Little doggie’s just the same. 
Same old route every day.  Same, same, same, same, same.
No curiosity, no smile, no nothing. 
You have to laugh, eh?
Oh, I forgot, you don’t laugh much. 
Poor old boy is so tired, tired of life,
Joyless  utterly  joyless.
What am I saying?  Who cares?
Hmmm, anyhow this joy stuff’s your department. 
I dunno what it is. 
What is it?  I mean if you’re so big on joy,
why don’t you just give the old boy some joy?
Puff! Sparkle! Woosh
down over him like fairy dust and smother his old bones with “joy”. 
Eh, whaddya say? 
Or, maybe it’s all a lie, maybe there is no “joy”,
Whatever it is. 
That one thing you promise, it doesn’t exist does it? 
Eh?  Eh. 
You are a fraud.  You and your like, you are simply frauds. 
That is why you never speak to me.  You’ve got nothing to say.
You’ve got nothing.
Say something.  For crying out loud, say something.
Huh, why do I bother?
OK, so you won’t talk about that old boy. 
Yup I know we’ve tussled over him before. 
I got him interested in gambling and he really took to it. 
He loved talk of the bookies, his “turf accountant” and getting the Racing Post. 
See, I did him a favour. 
I gave him something to believe in, I gave him some pleasure.
Those gee gees really romped home sometimes ….occasionally.
And what did you do, eh? 
Well, you came and fetched his wife and took her to the realm beyond. 
What’s that all about? 
There was me, giving him some pleasure,
and there was you, filling him with grief and regret. 
What is it with you? 
You take everything from these people.  Everything…..
Man, you really are a joke!
OK so you won’t talk about the old boy. 
How about those two on their lunchbreak on that bench?
I don’t think we’ve seen them before. 
They’re tired too.  (sniffs) They’re eating foreign stuff,
Bet they’re Polish or Latvian or something. 
Look at how the more they eat, the more they stare into the distance.
Remembering something far from here.  Some half-forgotten warmth. 
Some half-forgotten tenderness. Some time when life was simpler.
Oh they’re sooo lonely….
Oh they’re sooo tired ….
Now I’m feeling sorry for them. 
Yes, I’m feeling sorry for them! 
Me, nasty little me, is really feeling sorry for them. 
I’m going to befriend them. 
I’m going to tell them to go and spend some of that money on themselves for a change and stop sending it back home. 
I’ll tell them to go into town, dress up a bit, feel goooood, have some beers, find some girls, be good to themselves, really go and…..
Oh wait,
Did I see you flinch then? 
Was there a nearly imperceptible flicker of something from your angelic self. 
Little angelic-eyes always fixed on heaven – goody goody- angel never says anything – rarely does anything…. nearly moved….
Yes, I nearly got a reaction out of you. 
You don’t want me to go near them, do you? 
Well, stop me. 
Go on, stop me.
(he goes to approach the two men but stops short)
(He wails like he’s been scalded and comes back to the tree stump.)
What in the name….! 
How did you do that?
I get near the one on the left
He bent over to tie his shoe and
That thing round his neck fell from his neck. 
He picked it up.
Held it close. 
He did that thing that I find so repugnant. 
That thing I can’t talk about. 
He got strength from somewhere.
Ewww, yeuch, I feel a bit creepy, bit “unclean”
… but I’ll try again later
… if I can be bothered
…. There’s probably more fun to be had elsewhere. 
I’m out for fun. 
F.U. N. 
Hear that word? 
What you are not. 
You are no fun, no fun at all.
And you just sit there.
Why do I bother? 
Why do I even try to talk to you? 
You disgust me.
Right here before my eyes
You disgust me.
Constantly alert, yet so very calm
And there’s light
Foul, terrible, incomprehensible light….
Seering pain to the heart of my being.
The lance in my side
I scream silently and eternally
Hurt unfathomable.
But.. get this, oh angelic one!
Get this….
I win, 
Hear that.
Non, rein de rien,
Non, je ne regrette rien.
They are not interested in what you have to offer. 
The world is mine.
I will open all their eyes.
I will turn them all to me.
And they will see nothing else. 
They will feel pride. 
They will be selfish. 
They will be greedy.
They will be careless. 
They will hurt.
They will feel anger.
They will hate. 
They will be violent.
They aren’t capable of anything else. 
That is their lot. 
Miserable stinky creatures, born for misery…
Live in misery….. 
And then they die…
Puff, dead... puff… puff…
Snuffed out like a candle and
Not even a wiff of that thing called “joy”.
Whatever it is.
(walks off in disgust)