Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Flight, the Massacre, the Return - but to Where?

Today’s Feast of the Holy Innocents reminds me of my reluctance to dwell on this appalling episode in the infancy of Our Lord. So if you’ll excuse me, I won’t. I’ll talk round it instead, concentrating on other related verses.

There are elements of St Matthew’s account of this period in the life of the Holy Family which I find really intriguing. The following rather scattery reflections are very much of the “lounge bar of the local” variety; not at all a work of academic research; and they will be well known to you. But here goes.

St Luke (1:39) says that Zechariah and Elizabeth lived in a town in the hill country of Judea. This must have been close enough to Jerusalem to enable Zachariah to travel there fairly easily to carry out his priestly duties when his turn came round.

There is no more detail concerning the location of their town; we do not know how close it was to the Judean town of Bethlehem.

After Jesus’s birth in the stable in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph appear to have stayed there for some time, rather than returning to Nazareth. The account of the visit of the Magi describes their dwelling not as a stable but as a house (Matthew 2:11), which implies that the census crowds had departed and they had found a place that was comfortable for the baby and convenient for Joseph to ply his trade as a carpenter.

Warned by the angel of Herod’s murderous plan, the little family fled to Egypt. Herod “sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under” (Matthew 2:16). At this point, therefore, Jesus was evidently up to two years of age.

This brings me back to Elizabeth and Zechariah. Was their Judean hill-country home “in the Bethlehem region”, and thus within the search and kill range of Herod’s troops? If not, my train of thought is irrelevant. But if it was within range, was John, who was six months older than Jesus, older than the age of two at the time of the massacre, and therefore old enough to escape the work of the killers?

If John was older than two years old, Jesus would have been quite a toddler by then, and He and His parents well settled into their life in Bethlehem. Did Mary and Joseph choose to live there because of the ancient prophecy (Matthew 2:4-6, quoting Micah 5:2)? Had the angel commanded Joseph (or both of them) to do so? Did they stay because it was Joseph’s ancestral home, and possibly (or probably) Mary’s too? In view of the circumstances of Jesus’s conception and birth - almost certainly unknown to everyone else except Elizabeth - did they decide to stay away from Nazareth for the sake of discretion? Did they choose Bethlehem because they could be near to Elizabeth and her own very special son?

And then there is the final detail in this little investigative and conjectural trail. It appears that when Herod had died and it was safe for the Holy Family to return, their intention was to settle once again in Bethlehem. At least, that is the way I read it, from Matthew 2:22-23: “But when [Joseph] heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled. ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’ ”

I’ve enjoyed gathering these threads together, and I hope you too will find them interesting.

Later: I’ve just thought of something else. If they had returned to live in Bethlehem, they would have been the only family, aside from a few others who might have migrated into the town, who had a male child within the age-range of the massacre. In the event of any subsequent attacks of royal paranoia, Jesus would have been very conspicuous.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas wishes, and the genealogy of Our Lady

A very happy Christmas to all my readers!

Continuing the theme of genealogy from my last post, the following is well-known from our Scriptural readings, but I thought I would just dwell on it for a few minutes.

St Luke’s Gospel contains very interesting references to the ancestral connections of Our Lady, as well as those of St Joseph. I say connections, because we do not know the precise details, and family trees can be very complicated things, especially, for example, if step-fathers have been recorded as fathers.

Firstly, as I understand it the customary practice was to marry within one’s tribe or extended family. If this is so of Mary and Joseph, the Davidic ancestry which is recorded in regard to Joseph may well have been shared by Mary.

Secondly, further light is shed on Mary’s connections when we consider the details recorded about her kinswoman Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the wife of a priest, and was herself a descendant of the brother of Moses, the great Aaron, the first High Priest.

In themselves these details do not prove the direct priestly and royal ancestry of Mary, but it is wonderful to think that this young girl, leading her quiet life in Nazareth, far away from the hub of things, may well have inherited the blood of these two major figures of Jewish history and of God’s dealings with His chosen people.

Picture from, via Google Images

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Raising up the Temple and the Altar of God

The differing genealogies of St Joseph are intriguing, and various theories have been put forward to account for the differences. It has even been suggested that one genealogy is in fact that of our Lady. But that seems far-fetched. It seems more likely that Joseph had more than one ancestral line, and these have simply been recorded as they existed. The most reasonable explanation is surely the inclusion in one or other version - or both - of collateral ancestors who married widowed sisters-in-law.

However, the reason for this post is a passage I came across in the Book of Ezra. Following the return from the Babylonian captivity, among those entrusted with rebuilding the Altar of God and the Temple of the Lord, was one Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel. Hello, I thought, as I read this; I know those names. The first thing that came to mind was the genealogies of St Joseph; and the names are there, in both Matthew’s and Luke’s versions.

There is an inclination to think of artisans as somewhat down the social scale; an idea which I find very annoying, and it is hard to believe that this was the case in ancient times. I think it adds a background to St Joseph which sheds light on his considerable stature as a Jew, in addition to all that we revere him for in relation to his loving care for Jesus and Mary. It is a great and a noble thing to have as one’s ancestors those who built up the Altar and the Temple, and to be entrusted with an even more exalted work of raising up.

Picture from st-joseph-medal-com, via Google Images

Monday, 12 December 2011

A Bishop makes the case for the value of silence in church

It is a strange experience, I find, to make the Stations of the Cross after Sunday Mass. There is a tremendous noise of conversations and laughter. Many a time I have been praying in front of a Station, right next to a group of parishioners who are exchanging the latest news. I find it quite a challenge to my concentration, but I am getting better at it, and I make the effort to think generous thoughts of my neighbours. But how I long for the silence which used to be the norm in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, in the days of my youth!

And now, to my surprise and delight, the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, who live on one of the tiniest islands of the Orkneys, have made available to us this marvellous pastoral letter. It comes from the new Bishop of Aberdeen, the Right Reverend Dom Hugh Gilbert OSB, who until recently was the Abbot of Pluscarden.

If only these wise and inspiring words could filter down through the various dioceses – hierarchies, even – of the British Isles, and reach the churches up and down our countries where this message is sorely needed. It is not a matter of being a killjoy. It seems such an obvious contribution to the nourishment of our faith.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

They don’t say it as they used to. In this case, probably just as well.

Having a bit of a migraine this morning, I wasn't up to going to Mass until this afternoon.

This is one of those parts of the country where there are long-established Masses for the Polish community. I believe their origin lies in the Second World War, when Polish refugee settlements were set up in various places. Many refugees remained in Britain, and their children and grandchildren were born here. The settlements are all closed now; but new immigrants have arrived from Poland, and the sparse Mass attendance of a few years ago has grown enormously.

I take my old prayerbook to pretty well every Mass I attend, whatever the language, and thanks to this, even though I can't understand a word of Polish, my participatio was intensely actuosa.

Being a little more organised than usual, I had already read today's Scripture passages before going out. Then, during the homily, it came into my head to turn to the back of my prayerbook and read the old Epistle and Gospel for the day. These old prayerbooks contain all the Sunday readings; they are a wonderful resource, and a very compact and portable size.

The Epistle was such a delight that I thought I would share it with you. It isn't long. I think it must be in the Douai version.
Romans XIII, 11-14
Brethren. Know, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

That is one tremendous wake-up call. Short and to the point, and we know exactly what it means. Including the chambering.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Only a short break, I hope, Ttony

Very sorry to learn that Ttony intends to cease posting for the time being on his Muniment Room blog, which has always been one of my favourites.

I have tried to send him my good wishes in his combox, both on his last and on his penultimate post, but the system won’t let me. Ttony, if you drop by, all the very best to you, and I hope your absence will not be long. In the meantime, I look forward to reading your comments on other blogs.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Fr Ignatius Harrison to head the Birmingham Oratory; Fr Gareth Jones to be his Assistant

The admirable Reluctant Sinner, whose blog I heartily recommend, has posted this news from Peter Jennings, press secretary to the Archbishop of Birmingham.

Interesting, in view of the Apostolic Visitation last year at the Birmingham Oratory. Fr Harrison was the second Visitor (Fr Felix Selden being the first) and Fr Jones the canonical adviser to the Visitation.

I have a funny feeling that it won’t be long before Catholic and Loving it, and others, have something to say on the matter.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Please read Lux Occulta on Maynooth and the Irish Church (and by extension, all of us).

I urge you to read this devastating post from Shane on his excellent blog Lux Occulta. The text he has made available to us dates from 1978, and refers to the spiritual collapse of the seminary of Maynooth and of the Irish Church in general. I read it, however, with an increasing sense that much of it applies equally to the Church in England and Wales. Some of my overseas readers may gain the same impression in regard to their own countries.

I wish I could post a comment to thank Shane for his post, but although I am registered with Wordpress I cannot get into it to use it. I don’t know why.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Our first revised Sunday Mass was rather good!

This morning I sent an email to my parish priest, thanking him for leading us so well through our first Sunday Mass using the revised translation. It really went very well. Everyone seemed to be concentrating hard, determined to make a good job of it. "And also with you" crept in here and there, but that was only to be expected. Once or twice the priest struggled slightly with the different rhythm of a sentence, but he managed just fine.

There was a lovely, cheerful atmosphere in the congregation; a great spirit of unity with the celebrant, and, I thought, a sense of achievement when the Mass was completed. A gold star for all concerned!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Just a few well-chosen words …

This morning I went to Mass a little farther afield, in the chapel of a Nazareth House care home. A 1960s building, by the look of things; I wasn’t expecting great architectural or aesthetic merit, but that didn’t matter so much, because it’s the Mass that matters. To my surprise, however, the interior of the chapel was lovely. In that very mid-20th century space the sisters had installed a dignified marble altar; the Tabernacle had pride of place at the centre of the rear wall; there was a fine large crucifix, and a very nice set of Stations of the Cross, quite modern but simple and moving.

The hymns were not quite to my taste: they made me think of the sort of tunes that seemed popular in Anglican services during the radio broadcasts I used to hear occasionally in the 1950s. But perfectly liveable-with, and I dare say many people like them very much.

But what really struck me was the homily, delivered by an elderly resident priest; I think he said he was a Carmelite. Isn’t it inspiring when you hear something thoroughly edifying in a homily? When just a few words stick in your mind and warm your heart? In that environment he incorporated in his homily, understandably, references to frailty, and to the suffering - sometimes very great - which we all have to endure at some time in our lives. He spoke of the suffering of Christ on the Cross, and His Resurrection; and then he said: “With all suffering, there is always the Third Day”.

I think I will add these words to my collection of pithy sayings which it can be so very strengthening to call upon in difficult times. Thank you, Father.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Rome and the SSPX: Two recent news items

Readers may recall a post I published in October last year, The SSPX: Vatican recognition de facto and ad hoc. In recent days a couple of new items have appeared about Rome’s relations with the Society. They are both rather interesting and indeed intriguing, and in view of this it seems quite a good time to gather the three pieces together in one place.

The first new item is that Bishop Bernard Fellay and other leading figures of the Priestly Society of St Pius X have been summoned to a meeting at the Vatican. The date of the meeting will be 14th September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the fourth anniversary of the coming into effect of Summorum Pontificum. The sources of this information are Rorate Caeli, Andrea Tornielli and La Stampa’s Vatican Insider (English version here).

Beyond these facts, there is an understandable element of speculation. Briefly, it is thought that a memorandum may be put to Bishop Fellay and his companions, clarifying certain doctrinal points. Subject to the doctrinal difficulties being overcome, the next step is thought to be “a proposal for a canonical adjustment”, which may be along the lines of the Ordinariate established for Anglicans.

The second item, courtesy once again of Rorate Caeli, concerns a Sister of the "mainstream" Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of New Zealand, who has transferred to the Dominican Sisters of Wanganui, a congregation established by Bishop Fellay. And this is the interesting bit: her transfer was given special permission from the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in Rome.

It’s fascinating to note these manifestations of a practical relationship in anticipation of what I hope will eventually (and soon, God willing) become a full restoration of unity in all respects.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

"O Godhead Hid": A few thoughts on visiting the Blessed Sacrament

Every Thursday and Saturday, at the church of St Gregory the Great in Cheltenham, there is a period of Solemn Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The setting for the Exposition could hardly be better: it is a fine Victorian Gothic church, with an interior that glows with mellow stone.

On a visit some years ago, the sight of the Monstrance conjured up in my mind a play on words: it seemed to me as though the Sacred Host was also the most genial of Hosts, the great King receiving His loved ones into His presence with such vulnerable generosity. That feeling has stayed with me.

One of the things I always notice, and it was so today, is the variety of ages among those who are present. This morning there were two or three youngish men, and I always love to see that; it gives me confidence for the Church. And a number of elderly people, by which I mean even more elderly than I am. One old man, full of dignity, rose carefully from his pew at the end of his visit, and struggled slowly away with the aid of a walking stick. I was very much impressed by the heroic effort he had put in to be there.

Sometimes, after I have become aware of an old person - let us say an old woman - sitting quietly some pews away from me, I catch sight of her again a little while later, and her head has nodded forward, and her shoulders have drooped a little as the need for a nap has crept over her. At last she becomes conscious of a change of balance, and comes back to herself, and resumes her quiet adoration. And I think, without any sense of condescension, how sweet that is, and I have a sense of how tenderly the Lord looks upon her from the Altar.

Truly, there are blessings and gentle pleasures of many kinds, when one visits the Blessed Sacrament enthroned.

Picture from Google Images, with acknowledgments to

Sunday, 31 July 2011

"Keep your eyes on Me."

I have been in a bit of a bad way at times lately. Just problems, and nothing major, but out of my hands to resolve.

I have a small crucifix on the table beside my chair. I can’t remember where it came from. It might have belonged to my mother, or I might have found it in the street. Years ago, anyway. It looks as if it was once attached to a rosary.

When things were at the point of becoming too much, I picked up this crucifix, and offered a little prayer for help. And the words came into my head: “Keep your eyes on Me.” So that’s what I’m doing, and it helps a lot.

Just thought I’d share that small thing, since I have received a great deal of help in the past from other bloggers. I have them on my side-bar. In addition, most of the UK-based Catholic bloggers can be followed via the ever-useful British Catholic Blogs, together with links to their latest posts.

Picture from Google Images, with acknowledgments to The National Catholic Register.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

So happy for him, and for his new parish!

Following my previous post about the loss of the Traditional Latin Mass at St Gregory's in Cheltenham - at least for the present - I have found this wonderful news on Fr Bede Rowe's blog.

Cheltenham's loss is Warminster's gain. Fr Bede, who was also an assistant priest at St Gregory's, has established an EF Mass as part of his parish's regular schedule. The appointment of Fr Tom Smith promises well for its continuation.

The parishioners of Warminster are blessed with great good fortune in the appointment of Fr Tom.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The weekly Traditional Latin Mass in Cheltenham has ceased

Of your kindness, please pray for the Traditional Latin Mass congregation in Cheltenham. The weekly Mass, sine populo and entirely unpublicised other than by the Latin Mass Society, has come to an end after almost three years; at least, for the foreseeable future. The time for diocesan clergy moves is looming, though the details have not yet been announced on the diocese's website. At the last time of enquiring, the fine young priest who has provided his little EF Mass flock with such a treasure, had not heard whether or where he was to be moved. But it will be a great surprise if he is not appointed to another - very fortunate - parish.

A petition is to be handed to the parish priest, in the first instance, asking his help in securing the Mass's resumption by some means.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Guidance in a time of worry

In my nightly habit of reading a passage or chapter from the Bible - usually the New Testament - I have very occasionally asked specifically for guidance and strength over this or that worry, before taking up my Bible to read that evening's chapter. I would never dream of using the Scriptures superstitiously; when I have prayed in this way, it is always a case of willingly accepting whatever is there for me to read, whether it appears to have a bearing on the matter in question, or not. However, on more than one occasion the aptness of the words has been startling, and most comforting.

My recent concerns for a loved one began to feel rather overwhelming the other day; and the impulse came to me to make my special prayer. That night I reached Chapter 2 of The Acts of the Apostles. In the newly-given power of the Holy Spirit, Peter addresses the crowd. He quotes King David, in Psalm 16. As I read, I came to these words:
You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with your presence. (1)
The words were like balm to me. But next morning, wanting to be sure of the words, I read the chapter again; and this time I re-read the following, earlier verse, which had not sunk in on first reading:
I saw the Lord always before me;
For he is at my right hand
That I may not be shaken. (2)
The vividness of these words struck home, right to my heart. I copied them onto a card; and the person for whom I had prayed took the card most happily.

We must always pray, and never lose heart! (3)

1. Acts 2:28
2. Acts 2:25
3. Luke 18:1

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

A neighbour's death, and a very long wait for the funeral

Sorry for the gap in posting; and this isn't a very cheerful subject with which to resume. Life has been busy and, at times, distressing, since my last post. A neighbour who lived alone discovered that she had inoperable cancer. There was a general rallying round, most particularly by a couple nearby who were her special friends; they were absolute stars. But others helped as and when they could: in my case, accompanying her to her palliative radiotherapy sessions; ultimately, as both she and all of us knew, to no purpose.

She was inspiringly stoical, keeping on with her daily routine, and with her acts of kindness to her neighbours, in a most determined spirit. The course of her illness was one of apparently level phases, interrupted by sudden downward steps. Within a few days of the last of these, she died peacefully in hospital.

For some time after her death, both my husband and I experienced a sense of frayed and exhausted nerves; typical, in fact, of a bereavement. It was a reaction which other neighbours may also have felt after the sad suspense of witnessing her cheerful and dignified progress toward her death.

I think it was made worse - and how much more so for her family! - by the fact that the funeral did not take place until two and a half weeks after her death. I don't understand why there has to be such a long gap these days between a death and the funeral. Is this a fairly recent development? Both my parents' funerals took place within a week of their deaths, but that was over thirty years ago. Two and a half weeks seems a rather harrowing period for the loved ones.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sublime Words from the Holy Father's Pentecost Homily

Rorate Caeli has published an extract from the Holy Father’s homily for the Feast of Pentecost 2011. Here is a link to the entire homily, in Italian; I haven't seen a complete English translation yet. I have pasted the extract below, or you can follow this link to the Rorate post. As we all know, however, sometimes the comments that follow a post can go off at a tangent, and I think the post in question has suffered from this problem.

Here, in its glory, is something sublime. It has a quality of self-contained perfection. This would be a wonderful text for a parish newsletter, or as a permanent display at the entrance to the church, to remind its readers that the Faith is the pearl of great price, for ourselves and for all who may be led to find it.

I accept that I am writing in figurative language when I say that I experienced, on reading Pope Benedict’s words, one of those strange, evanescent moments of elation of the soul, of astonishment, as though I had taken a breath of the clear, sweet air of Heaven.

[T]he Church is Catholic from her first moment, her universality is not the fruit of the successive inclusion of various communities. From the first instant, in fact, the Holy Spirit created her as the Church of all peoples; she embraces the entire world, she transcends all limits of race, class, nation; she breaks down every obstacle and brings all men together in the profession of the One and Triune God. From the beginning, the Church is One, Catholic, and Apostolic: this is her true nature and as such it must be recognized. She is Holy, not thanks to the ability of her members, but because God Himself, with His Spirit, creates, purifies, and sanctifies her always.

God bless our dear Holy Father, and grant him many more years with us.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A slight change of blogger name

While reading this interesting article on The Catholic Herald’s website, about Ecclesia Dei’s confirmation that girls and women are not permitted to serve at Mass in the Extraordinary Form, I noticed that the comments include excellent contributions from the author of the Seraphic goes to Scotland blog, Dorothy Cumming McLean, using her own Christian name.

I'm very far from her league in the Catholic blogosphere, so I think it’s a good idea in the circumstances to make a small alteration to my blogger name. From now on you will see the name Dorothy B on my posts, and on my occasional comments on other blogs.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Dome of Home: A Memory and a Confident Hope

The only time I ever went to the church of SS Peter & Paul, New Brighton, was some years before Vatican II, when I was a child at primary school.

I grew up in Liverpool, and we had many a happy day out at New Brighton. We usually spent the day down at the shore, or at the wonderful Art Deco open-air swimming pool. But on one occasion my mother decided to do something different. Turning inland from the station, we walked uphill a little way, to visit the church of SS Peter and Paul. I suppose my mother thought it was about time we made the effort to visit this famous landmark.

I wish I could remember the particulars of the interior, but alas, I can no longer recall them in much detail. Except for this: that to a young child, in those far-off pre-Conciliar days, it seemed to me to be gloriously beautiful. There is a verse at Genesis 28:17, in which Jacob says “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” If I had heard those words at that time, they would have expressed my feeling very well indeed.

Judging from the few pictures I have seen of the church’s present-day interior, it appears at least to have retained its “good bones”. I have confidence that the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, which is to take charge of this fine church, will enable its parishioners to experience that same sense of spiritual wonder that a little girl experienced all those years ago.

Photograph from Google Images, with acknowledgments to

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Rite of Priestly Ordination: Using the Old to Enrich the New

Here and there in the blogosphere there have been expressions of sadness that Universae Ecclesiae excludes diocesan ordinands from the opportunity to receive their priestly ordination by means of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962.

Fundamentally, under either form of the rite of priestly ordination, the Church has a new priest. Nevertheless, there is this to be considered: that a thing may usefully be illuminated from more than one angle, and from more than one source of light. While remaining itself in its entirety, not only the truth and beauty of the priesthood, but also its spiritual riches and benefits, may be brought out more intensely by lights that are shed on its various facets.

The purpose of this post is to suggest that some organisation such as Una Voce, the Latin Mass Society, or the Catholic Truth Society, might consider publishing a high-quality vernacular version of the Pontificale’s rite of priestly ordination - accompanied, naturally, by the Latin text. I believe this would provide ordinands with a fresh insight into the amazing thing that is about to happen to them. As an additional guide and aid to their prayers and meditation as they prepare for their great day, I think it could prove to be an invaluable source of enrichment.

And that enrichment is, after all, one of the great purposes of the Holy Father, in leading us on this wonderful journey.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fr Hunwicke is blogging again. Hooray!

Delighted to pass on the news that, following a few weeks’ holiday from his blog, the Patrimonial Fr Hunwicke’s Liturgical Notes is now up and running once more. Time to get our brains sharpened up again.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Instruction on Summorum Pontificum to be released this Friday

Rorate Caeli reports today that the Holy See Press Office has just announced that the long-awaited Instruction on the application of Summorum Pontificum will be made public this coming Friday, 13th May. The Instruction is to be called Universae Ecclesiae.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

“Garden of the Soul”: Prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion

As promised in my last post, here are a few extracts from the prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion, from my Garden of the Soul:

O Lord Jesus Christ, my Creator and my Redeemer, my God and my all, whence is this to me that my Lord, and so great a Lord, Whom heaven and earth cannot contain, should come into this poor dwelling, this house of clay of my earthly habitation? Bow down thyself, with all thy powers, O my soul, to adore the Sovereign Majesty which hath vouchsafed to come to visit thee.

What return shall I make to Thee, O Lord, for all Thou hast done for me? Behold, when I had no being at all, Thou didst create me; and when I was gone away and lost in my sins, Thou didst redeem me by dying for me. All that I have, all that I am, is Thy gift; and now, after all Thy other favours, Thou hast given me Thyself: blessed be Thy Name for ever.

Bless, then, thy Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within thee praise and magnify His Name. Bless thy Lord, O my soul, and see that thou never forget all that He hath done for thee.

And now, Lord Jesus, I go from Thee for a while, but as I hope, not without Thee, Who art my comfort and the ultimate happiness of my soul …… To Thy love and protection I recommend myself anew …… May I be wholly employed in Thee and for Thee; and may Thy love be the end of all my thoughts, words and actions. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

I hope you have enjoyed these extracts from such lovely prayers. By these and other means, during the course of so many years, the faithful of every social and educational background participated with mind and heart in the Holy Sacrifice: the actuosa participatio of those times.

Monday, 25 April 2011

"Garden of the Soul”: Praying our way through the Mass

As promised in my post last Thursday, here is a flavour of the beautiful Prayers at Mass, from my Garden of the Soul. The union between the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacrifice of Calvary is very much a feature of these extracts.

O merciful Father, who didst so love the world as to give up for our redemption Thy beloved Son; who, in obedience to Thee, and for us, sinners, humbled Himself even unto the death of the Cross, and continues to offer Himself daily, by the ministry of His priests, for the living and the dead, we humbly beseech Thee that, penetrated with a lively faith, we may always assist with the utmost devotion and reverence at the oblation of His most precious Body and Blood, which is made at Mass, and thereby be made partakers of the sacrifice which He consummated on Calvary.

It is in Thy name, O adorable Trinity, it is to honour Thee and to do Thee homage, that I assist at this most holy and august sacrifice. Permit me then, O Lord, to unite my intention with that of Thy minister now at the altar, in offering up this precious victim; and give me the same sentiments I should have had on Mount Calvary, had I been an eye-witness to that bloody sacrifice.

To Thou Thyself, O Lord, raise up my heart; inflame it with Thy love …… Let it rest in heaven, where Thou, my treasure, art, and on this altar also, where Thou art going to present Thyself to the eternal Father for our sake.

O Father of mercy, graciously receive this most holy sacrifice, which we offer to Thee by the hands of Thy priest, in union with that which Thy beloved Son offered to Thee during His whole life, at His last supper, and on the cross.

Come, O Lord Jesus; come, sweet Redeemer of the world; come quickly to accomplish a mystery, which is an abridgment of all Thy other miracles.
Thou art, O Lord Jesus, the true Pastor of our souls, who didst lay down Thy life for Thy flock. Thou art the Lamb of God, who didst die upon the cross to save us.

I adore Thy goodness and return Thee infinite thanks, O gracious Lord, for Thy inestimable favour and mercy in admitting me to be present this day at the great sacrifice, where Thou art both Priest and Victim.

I hope these extracts will give you a good impression of the stream of personal prayer, flowing with the progress of the Holy Sacrifice, that was available to the faithful as a matter of course in those days. I am accustomed to reading these prayers at almost every Mass, and even so I have found that selecting the extracts, and setting them out for my readers, has been a surprisingly affecting experience for me.

I plan to include in my next post some passages from the lovely prayers of thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

Picture from, with thanks.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Easter greetings to all Catholic bloggers

A happy and blessed Easter to all who read this blog, and to all the Catholic bloggers who write such beautiful and inspiring things. It has meant a great deal to me to have discovered the Catholic blogosphere. Long may your good work continue.

Picture courtesy of

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Breaking of Bones

In so many respects it must have seemed the perfect time to strike at Jesus. Here they were on the brink of the Passover, with all those pilgrims who would see for themselves the degrading end of the man so many of them had hoped would be the great liberator of the nation. And yet, this being Passover, and the lambs ready to be slaughtered, wasn’t there some niggling thing about Jesus and a Lamb?

It was only three years or so since the days when John the Baptist had been preaching and baptising. The priests and the Pharisees must have received detailed reports of his teachings; some of them had been there to hear his words for themselves. And they might well have known that John had pointed to someone, and had said of him: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Did they suspect, or know, that he had been pointing to Jesus?

As Jesus and the thieves hung on their crosses, the leaders sent a request to Pilate for permission to have their legs broken. The reason they gave him, which in itself I don’t think we have any reason to doubt, was their desire to hasten the deaths so that the bodies would not be left hanging there during the solemn feast of Passover.

As most of us know, one of the requirements for the Passover lamb was that not one bone of its body was to be broken. Did the priests and Pharisees therefore have a second intention, an undeclared, and very deliberate one? If they could succeed in having Jesus’s legs broken, this would convince many, or perhaps all of His followers, that He could not possibly be the Lamb of God.

They received their permission. But in the case of Jesus, they were too late. He was dead. And not one bone of Him had been broken.

John 1:29 (above)
Ex 12:46: “You shall not break a bone of it”
Num 9:12: “They shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break a bone of it”
Ps 34:20: “He keeps all his bones; none of them is broken”

Thursday, 21 April 2011

An old prayer book: “Garden of the Soul”

Many English-speaking Catholics of a certain age will remember two popular prayer books which formed the mainstay of the devotional life of thousands, if not millions, of our spiritual forbears. They were The Garden of the Soul and The Key of Heaven.

My Garden of the Soul was given to me by a neighbour when I was nine years old. It was published for adults, and I liked it better than the child’s prayer book I had received at the time of my first Holy Communion. The adult prayers were richer in their language and in their content. It is in no way a boast to say that these were perfectly within my capabilities.

To digress slightly: This gives me confidence in the intellectual capacity of the congregations who are about to experience the more dignified language, and the stronger doctrinal nourishment, of the corrected English translation of the Novus Ordo Mass. With varying degrees of effort, they will manage it very nicely indeed, and will, I am sure, find real spiritual benefit in it.

Since the implementation of Summorum Pontificum I have taken to expressing my actuosa participatio by accompanying the priest’s offering of the Holy Mass, whether in the Extraordinary Form or in the Novus Ordo, with my own silent reading of the Prayers for Mass in my old prayer book.

But how, you may ask, do I manage to cram my personal prayers into the spaces between one set of Novus Ordo congregational responses and the next? And surely my own silent reading must drown out, as it were, the priest’s own words, and thus the Mass that is taking place at that moment?

As to the first: I do my best, but I cannot usually manage to say them all. In any case, between the start of the Canon and the completion of the Consecration, I focus entirely on the priest. As to the second, the risk of drowning out the priest: I can’t say, in fact, that it feels like that. Those of us who pray the Rosary know what a challenge it is to keep our minds focused both on the words of the prayers and on the meditations. I speak from experience, as a person whose mind is inclined to drift off. When we get the balance right, all our mental activity seems to be filled with, and concentrated on, the Mysteries. It’s rather like that for me at Mass. My attention is filled, and very much in union with the priest’s own prayers.

This post is long enough for now, I think. In the next few days I hope to post a few extracts from the prayers, to give you a flavour of them.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Woodchester's Poor Clares are moving from Gloucestershire to Devon

Here is some sad news from today's Gloucestershire Echo
Chapter closes on convent history as nuns leave area:

Nuns are preparing to leave an historic Gloucestershire convent after 150 years.
Dwindling numbers mean the enclosed order of Poor Clares is moving from South Woodchester to Devon.
Founded by 16 volunteers in a farmhouse in 1860, there was still a full complement of 30 sisters in 1950 but by 1980 there were 25 and by 2000, 14 nuns.
Today there are five.
The convent had an orphanage until 1921 and was well known for making altar breads, or communion wafers, for more than 200 churches and convents.
Abbess Sister Irene Joseph said moving away was not easy but the convent, near Stroud, was too large for the remaining nuns.
The group will move to another Poor Clare convent in Lynton.
"We feel we are called to a particular house," she said.
"There are 10 Poor Clare houses now and we are one big family.
"When I came here, the peace here was a calling from God. I thought I would end my days here.
"It is a huge wrench but I believe for some reason it is an intervention from God."
Sister Mary Therese was 24 when she arrived in 1950 as a novice and will turn 85 this year.
"I have always been happy here, even when I was miserable," she said. Parishioners are sad to see the sisters go.
"They don't go out to the world but they welcome the world in," said Deborah Everton-Wallach, who attends daily mass there.
"They have had a profound effect on my life – that they live a simple and fulfilling lives says something."
The future of grade II-listed building, set in 25 acres, is undecided.

How sad. But the large building they live in, with its typical Cotswolds complexity of design, must be a nightmare for just five nuns to maintain. A real burden, both financial and physical. It seems to have been a realistic and inevitable decision.

Photograph courtesy of

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

God bless all who are being received this week

Amidst the greatness of Holy Week, we also have the particular joy of knowing that so many people are being received into the fullness of the Church during these days. Here in England, in addition to those who are joining within the various dioceses, a large number will become Catholics of the Anglican Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. May I wish them all the most wonderful blessings. There are great adventures ahead!

Friday, 15 April 2011

The St Barnabas Society: £100,000 to Help Ordinariate Clergy

If you have a little money to spare in these straitened times, may I urge you to consider making a donation to The St Barnabas Society? The Ordinariate Portal has just reported that this fine charity has set aside £100,000 to help Anglican clergy who join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

In the Society's own words:
The St Barnabas Society, a registered charity, operates in Great Britain and Ireland and exists to provide pastoral and financial help on behalf of the whole Catholic community to former clergy ministers and religious from other churches, who live in Great Britain and Ireland, and who have been led by faith and conscience to come into full communion with the Catholic Church.

The website provides a link for online donations for this most worthwhile cause. I should mention that the introductory text is slightly confusing. It refers to making an online payment “to your parish”, but if you click on the link you will see that in fact the payment goes direct to the St Barnabas Society.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Measuring God against Goodness

We all have our different ways of tackling the challenges people present to the idea of faith in God. The most usual challenge is surely the problem of evil. I imagine that more than a few of us have encountered this type of criticism from colleagues at work.

The usual form the challenge takes goes something like: “I can’t believe in a God – or a good God – Who would allow such things to happen.”

I think I must leave aside the question of the widely varying phenomena that are generally gathered together under the umbrella word of evil. These deserve a separate discussion. But even considered in its most simple and general terms, I don’t think there can be an all-encompassing and satisfying answer to this kind of question.

Sometimes, however, a little light can be shed on the subject, from an angle.

What is a person actually doing when he asks the “God and evil” question? He may not realise he’s doing it; but he is in fact saying that he believes in goodness. Not simply goodness, but Goodness as an absolute, as a yardstick against which he measures “God” – or his idea of God – and finds Him wanting. In his eyes, “God” falls short when compared with Goodness.

It is not a very great step from this realisation to a further insight: that the critic’s “God” is not the real God. It is a collection of ideas; it is not God at all. In fact, he is not looking high enough, towards what he instinctively knows is there, and acknowledges as the highest thing, and appeals to. The real God is that perfect Goodness in which he himself already believes.

Naturally this does not answer the great conundrum of why God Who is Goodness allows evil to happen. It leaves that hanging in the air, as a distressing mystery; a mystery, however, which is capable of examination in its various manifestations, and thus of a degree of understanding, however imperfect.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

"I believe": Yes, I, personally, believe

When was it that “I believe” was changed to “We believe” in the Creed? 1975, I think. Well, I have a little confession to make. Ever since then, when saying the Creed at Mass, I have never said “We believe”; I have always continued to say “I believe”.

It was a step too far for me. I just decided I wasn’t going to do it. The Latin original said “Credo”, not “Credimus”, and that first person singular was good enough for me. I remember attending a Lenten retreat that year at the Cenacle in Liverpool. One of my former teachers was there too: a woman full of character, and very forthright in her views. Her attitude to the change was of a “stuff and nonsense” pithiness.

I suppose the translators (Hah!) wanted to emphasise the sense of community at Mass. But in this instance they decided to emphasise it at the expense of accuracy.

Much more importantly and seriously, they took away from each individual in the congregation the sense of personal focus, of personal commitment to the truths professed in the Creed. I cannot possibly speak for a single other person; not one. Nor can they for me. In fact, I shouldn’t be at all surprised if many of those attending disbelieve one or more of the Creed’s statements.

But then, they can’t be said actually to be lying, can they? None of us can. After all, none of them is saying “I believe”. In a sense, “We believe” is meaningless.

Now, after all these years of staging my personal (and probably entirely unnoticed) rebellion, I look forward with joy to this coming Autumn, when each of us stands before the Lord at Mass, and says “I believe”. By the grace of God, may it send a frisson through us, in heart and mind and soul.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A Chatty Post

I’m sorry it has been such a long time since my last post. The bronchitis which troubled me recently became so persistent that my GP referred me to a cardiologist. Between the two of them, I have undergone a range of non-surgical tests to make sure my heart is pumping properly, which I’m happy to say it is. The cardiologist is now going to hand me over to a lung specialist, so there is more fun in store for me. As the weeks progress I am gradually feeling better, and am able to get out and about with no difficulty.

We have been having glorious weather. Yesterday I went on the bus to the lovely little Cotswold town of Painswick. It was for a sad reason: the Requiem Mass of a person who was well-known and highly respected, involved in many interests and remembered with great affection by all who knew her. The small Catholic church was packed for the occasion.

As I made my way to the Catholic church, a wonderful peal of bells rang out from the nearby Anglican parish church. There is something rather magical about the musicality of English church bells. The traditional skill attracts ringers of many faiths and none. I was not surprised to learn during the Mass that the deceased had been a member of the team and that the bells had been rung specially in her honour.

Many of you may know that Painswick Church, pictured above, is one of the most famous in the Cotswolds; beautiful in itself, and famed also for the amazing number of clipped yew-trees in the churchyard. Some have grown so close to one another that they have been allowed to form arches. I seem to recall a saying that every time an attempt is made to count the yews a different total results.

After the Mass, while waiting for the return bus, I found the sun so warm that I took off my coat. I sat on the bench, listening to a blackbird singing from a tree in the churchyard, and enjoying what seemed more like a pleasant summer’s day instead of only the 25th of March, the Feast of the Annunciation, with the clocks still on winter time. An unexpected pleasure on a poignant day.

I hope to post again in a few days’ time, all being well.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Suggestion for Nibblers in Lent: Mini-fasts

Reluctant to commit this to the blogosphere, because I don’t know whether or when my determination will crack. Ah well, here goes.

The usual self-denials for Lent - sweets and so on - are real sacrifices for many of us, and well worth undertaking. But this year, in addition, I thought I might try another little Lenten thing: mini-fasts.

Mini-fasts are really only suitable for nibblers. It’s a very simple idea: a resolution to avoid eating between any particular meal and the next; or to avoid eating anything after the evening meal. Any permutation on this could be offered up: it doesn’t have to be for the whole of Lent, or even for an entire day. It could be, for example, from breakfast to lunch; or on this particular day and not others. It could be tailored to individual needs, and the demands of our daily lives. And each mini-fast could be offered up in its own right.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Suffering of the People of Japan

After the bout of bronchitis I mentioned in my last post, I am making a rather slow recovery. My brain is at last starting to focus again, and I hope to post again very soon; but overwhelmingly at present my thoughts are with the poor people of Japan, and the series of calamities that have been bludgeoning them. I am filled with admiration for their dignity in the face of so much horror.

(The picture of Our Lady Of Akita has been copied from the blog of The Impractical Catholic, with my acknowledgments and thanks.)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Summorum Pontificum: Milanese Seminarians Speak Out

Much to my frustration, a nasty spell of bronchitis has prevented me from going to the Mass and study day for the new Mass translation publicised in my previous post.

While needing to stay at home and rest, I have occupied some of my time in translating a very touching open letter from a number of seminarians in the Archdiocese of Milan, home of the Ambrosian rite which features in the latest disturbing rumours concerning the forthcoming Summorum Pontificum regulations.

The letter appears today in Messa in Latino, linked here. The comments that follow it - which I have not translated - start with a criticism of the seminarians' anonymity. Others consider the criticism to be unreasonable given the pressures under which they labour.

I think the letter is very inspiring. Here it is:

"Most Blessed Father, Dear Readers,

We desire the Motu Proprio in Milan, and we want it in the Seminary too, where, in contrast, we are given protestantising liturgies in the “BOSE” style.

Holy Father, Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, all the faithful, come and see how they celebrate in the Seminary of Milan, the liturgical furnishings of our chapel, the so-called statue of Our Lady (in a state of undress, seated before the Tabernacle in a sensual pose!). Please be aware of it. We well understand that times change, that history changes, but the hearts of the people need eternal answers; they need a Truth that is always the same: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Why, as Catholics and as seminarians, can we not be formed in the knowledge of the two-thousand-year Tradition of the Church? We are not asking for the old rite to be imposed. We accept that it should remain as the extraordinary form. But why can we not study it officially, and celebrate and pray it occasionally, rather than doing so secretly, clandestinely, without the knowledge of the Rector and the spiritual Father, at night, in our rooms, as though it were an act of disobedience to the Church?

Instead, however, there is imposed a creative liturgical sensibility invented by the community of Bose, which is not our vocation, and is not that for which we chose to follow the Lord in the Catholic Church. We don’t want to be priests in order to live in the Bose style or to celebrate syncretistic rites. Those who have that sensibility are quite free to go to Bose.

We want to be able to chant the Tantum Ergo in Latin (which is against the rules!), and not only the canons of Taizé in English or in Spanish.

Is it possible that a person who thinks like this must live in hiding, keeping silent and pretending that all is well?

What evil is there, we ask, in wanting to be Catholics of the third millennium, evangelizers of our time, and at the same time to be able to pray as the priests and laity of the CATHOLIC Church of Milan have always prayed?

We confirm that we do not want to be absolutist, we do not want an absolute return to the Vetus Ordo rite, but we want real, authentic, non-ideological respect, towards the Church, Her history, Her Tradition, Her spiritual riches which can truly nourish a soul that wants to conform itself to Christ the Priest.

Our thanks go to all of you who keep us in your prayers; those who, like us, seek to follow the Lord, in the furrow of His Church, with our difficulties and our limitations, but illuminated by the splendid grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is our wish that this humble appeal of ours may reach the heart of those who love the Church and who wish to serve the brethren in the things that relate to God.

Saints Ambrose and Charles, intercede for us.

In Jesus and Mary,

Some Seminarians of Seveso
(Metropolitan Archdiocese of Milan)"

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Study day for new Mass translation, Clifton diocese, 19th February

I mentioned in an earlier post that the English diocese of Clifton - covering the counties of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Somerset - has been rather energetic in its preparations for the introduction of the New Translation of the Mass in September this year.

The series of presentations continues this coming Saturday, 19th February, and this time it is the turn of Cheltenham, at Sacred Hearts Church, Moorend Road, Charlton Kings, GL53 9AU. The day begins with Holy Mass at 10.30, using the new translation, which will be followed by a study session. The event closes at 3.30. Those attending are advised to bring a packed lunch.

On the Friday evening, from 7.30 to 8.30, there will be singing practice for the new parts of the Mass, in readiness for Saturday.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Another strange case

Following my post yesterday, I’d like to record another memory. It concerns Freemasonry, about which Fathers Blake and Zuhlsdorf blogged early in January. Well, it's not really about Masonry as such; it's more about what was going on in the Church in the years following Vatican II.

As I recall (and I hope you will make allowances for some vagueness), exactly the same process occurred in regard to the question of Freemasonry, as had happened some years earlier regarding women’s headcoverings. Something was reported, and it appeared to have come from Rome, the gist of which was that British Catholics were now free to join the Masons
a) because British Masonry was much nicer than the Continental variety, which was very anti-Catholic and still forbidden, and
b) provided that there was no danger that an individual’s faith might suffer by joining.

I don’t know the figures, but I would guess that as a consequence of this apparent relaxation quite a number of Catholic men very soon became members of their local Lodges, and those who were already members now felt more at ease in their consciences.

And then lo! In no time at all, once again there came the cry: “As you were!” Britain is not an exception; you may not join the Masons.

It would surely be impossible to know how many British Catholic Masons obeyed the Church and gave up their membership following this shambles; how many have joined the Masons since then; and, and, most importantly, what effect it has had on their orthodoxy. In some cases they would have been exasperated by this apparent flip-flop, rather like the women with their headcoverings, and resolved to make up their own minds on the matter. But I have the impression that the majority of Catholics in this country, from that time on, only remember the (illusory) relaxation, and take it as read that, in this country at least, Catholics can be Freemasons.

Incidentally, it was at about this time, as I seem to remember, that I first began to hear the comment that this or that pronouncement from Rome “doesn’t apply here.”

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The strange case of the disappearing headcoverings

In his recent post on the subject, The Catholic Knight reproduced this cutting from The Atlanta Journal, dated some time in 1969. Father Z (here and here) and others have also dealt with the consequences of that strange incident.

I can remember it quite well. At the church I attended in Liverpool, as soon as we women heard the message that we no longer had to cover our heads, off came the hats, scarves and mantillas. The following Sunday, hardly any of the women were covering their heads.

Almost immediately, or so it seems at this distance in time, the word came out: As you were! The law has not changed: women must continue to cover their heads in church. As I recall, it was even announced from the pulpit.

And the majority of us did not comply. I think there was a general – if mainly unspoken – emotional response: This is ridiculous. First you don’t need to wear them, and then you do. It’s just not important. I’ll decide. That was my own decision too. But do you know, I felt just a little bit uneasy about it at the time. There was a niggling voice of conscience.

But gradually the new way became the generally accepted custom. And the requirement was eventually dropped, as a de jure recognition of the de facto practice.

I find great joy these days in covering my head when I attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form. But at my own parish church, I have a real reluctance. For the usual reasons, I suppose: sticking out like a sore thumb, holier-than-thou, and all that. I don’t really know the answer, except more courage; though it’s ridiculous to feel that one needs courage to do something that was completely natural only a few decades ago. I think we would have to be prepared to counter any criticisms with good, positive reasons. An expression of unity with Catholic women in other places and in other times, perhaps.

It would be rather wonderful if the Holy Father, or the competent body in Rome, were to recognise an indulgenced Sacramental, along these lines: that a woman or girl who covers her head before the Blessed Sacrament is empowered to offer this action to obtain a partial indulgence for the Souls in Purgatory.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The growth of the Ordinariate movement

Fr Hugh, the vocation director of the Benedictines at Douai Abbey in Berkshire, has a blog called Dominus Mihi Adjutor. He has just published this interesting map of the spread of the Ordinariate movement up to now, in various parts of the world. You will notice that the display does not yet include the proposed Australian/Japanese Ordinariate.

I thought you might also like to see this link to a map of southern England and Wales, which can be found on the Ordinariate Portal, showing the locations of the exploratory Ordinariate groups which have been set up so far in Great Britain.

God bless them all, both groups and individuals, as they make their spiritual journeys.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The new Mass translation, and words of praise for Clifton Diocese

This is going to sound like a mini-Oscar ceremony, but here goes.

Other bloggers have reported the excellent news that the Bishops of England and Wales have decided to introduce the new, more accurate and more dignified translation of the Novus Ordo Mass in September 2011.

The purpose of my post is to praise the Diocese of Clifton in this regard, because it has already done rather well in preparing its people for the change. A series of catechetical days has been organised in various parts of the Diocese. In addition, the parish priest of my own parish has devoted a number of Sundays to speaking to us about the meaning of the various parts of the Mass. I don’t know how many other parishes in the Diocese received the same talks, but I thought it was a very good effort.

I’d also like to compliment Fr Michael Fountaine, the Director of the Diocese’s Department for Liturgy. As far back as two years ago, he delivered a most interesting talk to a group of us in the town where I live. His enthusiasm for the new translation was really heartening.

Well done to Fr Fountaine, to my parish priest, and to Clifton Diocese!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

So happy ...

Congratulations to A Reluctant Sinner for his fascinating report on the Ordination Mass at Westminster Cathedral today, for the inaugurating priests of the Anglican Ordinariate.

I had hoped to make the journey from Gloucestershire for the event, but was unable to do so because I haven’t been too well this week. I have been waiting with great anticipation for the reports to arrive in the blogosphere.

How lovely, and simple, and fitting, that the name is to be The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. I am starting to get a hankering to go there again on pilgrimage.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

What should we non-Ordinariate Catholics call ourselves?

What if we were to call ourselves Diocesan Catholics? I think I'll do this for now, but I'll be happy to change it, if and when a better name comes along.

In most circumstances, naturally, we need make no distinction at all. I suggest this only because there are likely to be occasions when we will need to draw attention to specifically non-Ordinariate matters which have an equal importance for our Ordinariate Catholic brethren. It would be unthinkable that they might be at risk of missing out on something they might not hear about otherwise.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Christmas Flashmob: strong stomachs required

I first picked this up on Andrea Tornielli's blog, then realised it had been sourced from Gloria TV. The occasion was the Vigil Mass for Christmas 2010 at Bachinchove, in northern France. Please follow this Gloria TV link, but be warned ....

As Andrea Tornielli says, they thought they were coming to Mass, and found themselves at a disco.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Blessed is the Wood

Here is a beautiful extract from Chapter 14 of the Book of Wisdom, which I read with great delight the other day. I’ve no doubt many readers will already be familiar with it, but I hope you will enjoy being reminded of it. The extract is taken from the Catholic Revised Standard Version.

To set it in its context, the writer is dealing with the foolish worship of idols, such as those made of wood, which are no more than the product of a man’s hands. He contrasts this with the natural properties of the wood, and with the skill that fashions it into something beneficial: in this instance, into a ship. The natural properties, and the human skill, are both genuine expressions of God’s wisdom,
but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because you have given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
showing that you can save from every danger,
so that even if a man lacks skill, he may put to sea.
It is your will that works of your wisdom should not be without effect;
therefore men trust their lives even to the smallest piece of wood,
and passing through the billows on a raft they come safely to land.
For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing,
the hope of the world took refuge on a raft,
and guided by your hand left to the world the seed of a new generation.
For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Archbishop Longley to join the New Evangelisation Council

You may be interested in this item from The Catholic Herald’s website. Archbishop Longley of Birmingham has been appointed to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. This is the new body headed by Archbishop Fisichella.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The standard of knowledge and belief among those who will inaugurate the Ordinariate

May I draw your attention to this marvellous article which has been posted today on William Oddie’s blog on the Catholic Herald website. The following extract is particularly important in view of the surprise and concern expressed in one or two comments on other blogs, at the speed with which the newly-received former “flying bishops” are to be ordained.
What this new development demonstrates, apart from anything else, is the degree of knowledge, gained by the former Cardinal Ratzinger after a decade and a half of discussions with these men, of their already existing understanding of and belief in Roman Catholic doctrine and practice (entirely based, since its publication, on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and on other essential Catholic texts). The Pope is well aware that the Anglo-Catholic clergy who will inaugurate the world’s first ordinariate already have a degree of authentically Catholic priestly formation which some of our seminaries are today far from achieving or even attempting.
This makes me think of the idea of enrichment, which the Holy Father’s initiatives have envisaged in the liturgical sphere. It would be a tremendous thing if it could be broadened to include other areas of the Church’s life, such as our seminaries, as an additional fruit of the Ordinariate. It will require a cheerful, humble and fraternal spirit on the part of all who are involved; and especially on the part of those who currently have the task of training our priests.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy 2011 to all, and a glad goodbye to 2010

Very best wishes to all users of the Catholic blogosphere, for a new year filled with blessings. There have been tremendous events in 2010, but things to cause dismay too. All in all, I'm glad it's over and done with. Time now to build on the beautiful things.