Wednesday 31 December 2014

A Belated Account of a Day in London

There have been many things during the year that I might have written about, but I have been rather debilitated by an illness that was diagnosed in the summer and must have been affecting me for some time before that. Happily, the condition is not life-threatening. The medication is now being reduced, very slowly, as my health improves.

It was last May, during the undiagnosed period, that I made the journey to London, to attend the second one-day conference of the Latin Mass Society. I happily recommend these conferences. If you get a chance to go to the next one, they are very much worth the effort.

It was a good job I had already bought my train tickets, otherwise I don’t think I would have gone. In addition to my reduced state of health, I had had an awful night’s sleep. I was so exhausted that I fell asleep on the train.

Top marks to the London cabbies, both from Paddington to the venue and back again; they were cheerful, kind and patient with this old woman as she struggled in and out of the taxi with the aid of her walking-stick.

All the talks at the conference were good, even inspiring. If you like, you can settle down with a cup of something and listen to them on this special Latin Mass Society site. The most famous speaker was Bishop Athanasius Schneider, but I commend all of them to you. There was also something about the first speaker, Joseph Pearce, that I found quite endearing: his London accent and his body language, combined with his open-hearted enthusiasm, made me think of him not only as a respected academic but also as a sort of cheerful Cockney geezer. I really liked that: it added charm to his excellent talk.

After that first talk, I began to struggle increasingly from the lack of sleep. During the penultimate talk I spent much of the time with my head slumped over my knees. At the end of the talk I called it a day, leaving, very reluctantly, without hearing the talk by Fr Michael Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists of Papa Stronsay. And so I missed a wonderful experience, which for assorted reasons I only remedied a couple of days ago.

Father’s talk was entitled The Traditional Mass and Spirituality: “That we may relate it in another generation” (Ps. 47:14). I have jotted down a couple of prayers from it. The first is an ancient aspiration-prayer, which sounds as if it comes from a psalm, but I don’t know which. It features in various devotions:
“Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me.”
And here, the devotion of three Hail Marys, each followed by this aspiration:
“By thy holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy; preserve me this day/this night from mortal sin.”
To sum up Fr Michael Mary’s talk, I can do no better than to quote two phrases he used: The Towers of Devotion, and the riches of the Catholic faith. They are present in abundance in his words.

Picture from the LMS site, via Google Images.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas to my readers

A very Merry Christmas to all my readers! May it be a happy day for you all, and either peaceful or boisterous, according to your lives and families. Or perhaps both, since strange contrasts can sometimes blend harmoniously.

God bless us all.

Monday 15 December 2014

Companions-in-Faith of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor?

We are all aware of the controversy arising from Austen Ivereigh’s book about the 2013 Conclave. His account led to a series of denials, corrections, and careful uses of words which might have meant one thing or another.

Among the reactions, the Catholic News Agency had this report of the denial by four Cardinals of a claim by Ivereigh that they had played a particular role in the lead-up to the Conclave.

I was very much struck by the linking of the names of those four Cardinals: Murphy-O’Connor, Kasper, Lehmann and Daneels.

Was Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor really of like mind with the other three, in favouring Cardinal Bergoglio over all other candidates? For what reason? And if in this matter, in what other aspects of Catholicism, was he or is he of like mind with them?

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Benedict re-writes his 1972 essay on divorce

Benedict XVI has carried out a major revision of his 1972 essay on the subject of the divorced who enter a subsequent, unrecognised union. Tancred , of The Eponymous Flower blog, has the heartening news, which is well worth reading.

It is encouraging to learn that “Now Pope Benedict XVI. no longer shares the view he held in 1972”.

The post ends as follows:
… Benedict XVI. defends the teaching of the Catholic Church. His position is not directed against anyone, but takes the side of the deposit of faith, which he sees clearly at risk. In other words: He takes position against all who oppose the Church's teaching whether it be Cardinal Walter Kasper and be it even Pope Francis.

Sunday 16 November 2014

The Curate's Egg from Hell

Right Reverend Host. "I’m afraid you've got a bad Egg, Mr. Jones!"
The Curate. "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellent!"

This is the famous Punch cartoon, by George du Maurier, with an explanation here.

It was all disgusting, of course. But let us engage in a fanciful dissection of the egg. The thing is, the parts that were not excellent, were poisonous. And the question is, just how sick did he become, that poor, diffident curate who was so anxious to please his bishop that he felt obliged to look for whatever good he could find, averting his tastebuds from the badness?

And now, to this situation in the Holy Catholic Church. This is, I fear, the curate's egg from hell. A mixture of truth and falsehood, of inspired, orthodox words and wormlike corruptings of truth and morality. People's spiritual tastebuds and constitutions vary, just as their physical ones do. Poisoning may be sudden and catastrophic, or it may come in such small drops, or so well-disguised by other flavours, that its effects are slower and more insidious. Some of its victims may even exclaim "What a tonic this is!"

I once saw a news item about a football match in, I think, South Africa. An official was standing on the pitch, encircled by men with knives. They cantered round him, and every so often one of them lunged forward and stabbled him. Soon he began to stagger under the blows. His chest and back became stained with blood. I could watch no more.

You may wonder why I seem to have gone off-topic, but please bear with me. Here is Marco Tosatti, with the latest report on the slowly-circling assassination, in regard to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate:
FFI: "Watch out!" for the refugees.

At the margin of the business of the Assembly of the Italian Bishops at Assisi, we are informed of a fact that is certainly marginal but indicative of an atmosphere. An atmosphere that is not exactly idyllic. The fact is this: circulating among the bishops who took part in the Church assembly
was Fr Fidenzio Volpi, the Vatican's Commissioner of the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

The motive for the Commissioner's presence was not a casual one. According to what has been reported to us, by sources worthy of the greatest trust, the Commissioner approached now one bishop, now another, to dissuade them - let us put it in that way - from receiving into their dioceses the Friars of the Immaculate who do not find their identity in the new administration of the order, directed by the Commissioner and above all by the Secretary and spokesman, Fr Alfonso Bruno.

As has been noted already, both in this place and by others, the Commissioniong of the Franciscans of the Immaculate is distinguished both by the vagueness of the reasons given - in reality it has never been said for what concrete reasons the Congregation for Religious decided on the measure, except for an accusation of "crypto-lefebvrist" drift - and by the degree of internal conflict which it has provoked, and the severity of the reaction, of which this latest episode is a further confirmation.

In my ignorance, I ask myself why a religious who does not feel he can continue any longer inside a congregation must almost be forced to remain, instead of taking his priestly contribution to a diocese, at a time when vocations are not plentiful.

One might say, jokingly, that they too are refugees ... And that this is why the the Pontifical Commissioner betakes himself to Assisi to say "Watch out" to this or that bishop.

What can one say? This does not seem to us to be a good climate that we are breathing nowadays.

Monday 3 November 2014

“… Starting with the Deconstruction of the Papacy in its Current Form”

Here is an interesting article, in English, which has just been published on Chiesa, the blog of L'Espresso’s Sandro Magister. Its title is:

Ecumenism Rewritten by Enzo Bianchi and Alberto Melloni

It starts as follows:

The leaders of the “school of Bologna” have a very ambitious new project in the works: a history of the movement for Christian unity aimed at a thorough reform of the Catholic Church, starting with the dismantling of the papacy in its current form. They believe they have an ally in Pope Francis.

Please read on, following this link to the article.

Sunday 26 October 2014

2015 Synod Attendance: Whom Will the Conferences Elect?

It is sensible to remind ourselves that the 2015 follow-up Synod on the Family will not bring together all the bishops. They will be selected by their bishops’ conferences. Therefore, the bishops we hope to see there may not be there at all.

They are chosen as follows. First, from the Code of Canon Law, on the Synod of Bishops:

Can. 346 §1. A synod of bishops assembled in an ordinary general session consists of members of whom the greater part are bishops elected for each session by the conferences of bishops according to the method determined by the special law of the synod; others are designated by virtue of the same law; others are appointed directly by the Roman Pontiff; to these are added some members of clerical religious institutes elected according to the norm of the same special law.

Next, from Pope Paul VI’s Motu Proprio letter Apostolica Sollecitudo of 1966:

The Bishops who will represent individual national Conferences are to be chosen in this manner:
a) one for each national episcopal Conference which has 25 members or less;
b) two for each national episcopal Conference of no more than 50 members;
c) three for each national episcopal Conference which has more than 100 members.
The episcopal Conferences which take in a number of nations will choose their representatives on the same basis.
In choosing those who are to represent the episcopal Conferences of one or a number of nations and the religious institutes in the Synod of Bishops, great attention should be paid not just to the general knowledge and wisdom of individuals, but also to their theoretical and practical knowledge of the matter which the Synod is to take up.
The Supreme Pontiff may, if he so chooses, increase the number of members of the Synod of Bishops by adding bishops, or religious to represent the religious institutes, or clerics who are experts, to the extent of fifteen percent of the total number of the members mentioned in articles V and VIII.

The 1980 Synod of Bishops, on the subject of The Christian Family, took place in what was, in England and Wales, an atmosphere churned up by the National Pastoral Congress, which had been held in Liverpool earlier that year. As a resident of that archdiocese at the time, with a number of contacts among those who had attended the Congress or subsequent meetings and talks, I remember in particular that we were upset and worried by all the conflicting views that were being put forward on the Church, Her teachings, and the Mass. Some of these views were clearly in error.

One reported encounter stands out, given the situation in which we find the Church today. A person attended a talk in which a prominent priest of the archdiocese was challenged by a member of his audience to say whether the Church’s teaching against contraception was true. “Yes”, he was reported to have said, “in theory and in abstract”. The extension being planted into people’s minds was, of course: “But in practice and in reality …”. Haven’t we heard similar things in recent days, still going strong after more than three decades!

Incidentally, the priest on that occasion went on to become a very highly-placed member of the E&W hierarchy.

But back to the 1980 Synod in Rome. Two of our bishops were elected to attend it. They were Cardinal Hume of Westminster, and Archbishop Worlock of Liverpool.

Some time after the Synod, I read that the two men had agreed that each would press the Synod for change on a specific area: one would concentrate on contraception, the other on divorce-remarriage. As we know, they did not prevail. The following year, Pope John Paul II reiterated the Church's teaching in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio.

Interestingly, it is in this document that we find the clarification of another issue which appears to have been misrepresented at the recent Synod. Here is a reminder (with my emphasis) of what FC says on the question of gradualness, or graduality as some Synod Fathers have recently called it:

Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. "And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations. In God's plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God's command with serene confidence in God's grace and in his or her own will."(95) On the same lines, it is part of the Church's pedagogy that husbands and wives should first of all recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae vitae as indicating the norm for the exercise of their sexuality, and that they should endeavor to establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm.

In conclusion, I repeat the important question, the great uncertainty: Whom will the conferences elect? We all know of some real heroes of the Faith amongst our bishops. If they are not chosen to attend, let us not be downcast. Let us pray and trust that the “God of Surprises” will visit the hearts of those who do attend. We may find ourselves astonished to learn that among the Fathers of the next Synod there are hitherto-unsuspected episcopal lions, inspired with courage and with loving zeal for the true guidance of souls.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Please pray for Pastor Emeritus

I have always appreciated the kindness and wisdom of dear Pastor Emeritus, Father Eamonn Whelan, who has posted many comments on my little blog. Now I am going to ask my readers to join with me in keeping Father in your prayers, because he is ill. The following was published today on his blog:

Just over a month ago I was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. It was a false alarm, for which I was truly grateful as I have had more than enough illnesses, I thought, during past six years!

However during the four days I was an in-patient other tests, including CT scan and cardiogram, were performed. Result: - lung cancer and 3 blocked arteries. After long discussion with consultant I decided against targetted deep radium treatment, though I agreed to have work done on arteries. That latter job is due tomorrow, Thursday. So a prayer would be appreciated. I received Sacrament of the sick yesterday.

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da gloriam.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

ACTA in Bristol to discuss the Synod

I saw this in the newsletter of a parish church in the diocese of Clifton:

Synod on the Family: The Clifton diocese branch
of A Call to Action (ACTA) will hold a meeting on 15
November, at St Nicholas of Tolentino, Lawfords
Gate, Bristol, BS5 0RE, to discuss issues arising out
of the current general synod on the family. For
ordinary Catholics these issues are some of the
most important and topical of the challenges facing
the church and the views of the laity may be highly
relevant. The meeting will be assisted by a
Dominican friar, Fr Peter Hunter OP of Blackfriars,
Oxford who will provide expert theological guidance.
Coffee at 10.30, the meeting will begin at 11.00 am
and finish by 4.00 pm. Please bring a packed lunch.
All are welcome. Admission is free, though there will
be a retiring collection to help to defray expenses.

I well remember Deacon Nick Donnelly’s reports on ACTA, which indicated that it appeared to be popular among those who dissented from the teachings of the Church. If this is still the case, then goodness me, the weird goings-on at the Secret Synod, and the strange Relatio, are likely to provide plenty of excitement. I hope Fr Hunter can steer them along the right path.

Saturday 11 October 2014

"Well done, good and faithful servant!"

From the Linen on the Hedgerow blog, Saturday, 11 October, 2014:

It is with great personal sadness that we, the Collins Family, must inform the loyal followers of Linen on the Hedgerow, that our beautiful father, husband and grandfather, Richard Collins, has died peacefully at home this morning surrounded by those who loved him most. He was blessed to receive the Last Rites and Holy Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form at his bedside. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Please pray for Richard Collins

Readers of Richard Collins’s blog, Linen on the Hedgerow, are aware of his illness.

I have just read a comment under his most recent post, bringing the sad news that his life is drawing to a close.

I invite my own readers to join me in praying for him, and for his wife and family.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Personal thoughts on praying for the Pope

Following the election of Pope Francis, I adapted and continued to say the following prayer, which I had originally started to say in the reign of Pope Benedict. You are all familiar with it, I'm sure:
Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.
May the Lord preserve him, give him long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

You are Peter;
And upon this Rock I will build My Church.

Let us pray:
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on Your servant, Pope Francis, the Pastor of Your Church. Grant that his word and example may inspire and guide the Church, and that he, and all those entrusted to his care, may come to the joy of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
Some way into the present pontificate, I began to struggle with the words of the prayer. I had a sense of facing a barrier, an increasing reluctance. It was a strange experience, and made me rather unhappy.

And yet of course it is very - very - important to pray for Pope Francis. Some weeks ago I decided to switch to what is perhaps a fairly standard set of prayers for the Pope, often recommended to accompany a work for an indulgence: the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, and the Hail Holy Queen. They are less directional, and also less emotional, than the specific prayer quoted above. I pray most earnestly for our present Pope , but I prefer to leave the details to the Lord. I am surprised to observe how much more peaceful I feel for having done this.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Gossip and the Vatican Security Corps

Pope Francis offered Mass on 28th September 2014 for the members of the Vatican Gendarmerie. Here is a link to a report on the occasion, by Kerri Lenartowick for the Catholic News Agency.

The report explains that “While the Swiss Guards are primarily dedicated to protecting the Pope, the Gendarmes are responsible for the security and public order of Vatican City.”

Pope Francis returned to a theme he has touched on a number of times in his pontificate: that of gossip. I reprint here the bulk of the article, which is fairly short.
Pope Francis said the police force must not only defend the Vatican against thieves or attacking armies.

“Napoleon is not coming anymore,” he quipped.

Instead, the “war here today is rather something else.”

“It is a war that is not waged with the weapons that we recognize: it is a war waged with the tongue,” he explained.

Pope Francis told the police force to be attentive to gossip within the Vatican walls.

“If (you hear) someone gossiping, stop him! (Say) ‘here there can be none of that: walk out of St. Anne’s Gate. Go outside and talk there! Here you cannot!’”

This spiritual war is one of light and darkness, said the Pope.

On the eve of the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, the Gendarmerie’s patron saint, Pope Francis asked for his intercession.

“We ask St. Michael to help us in this war: never speak ill of each other, never open your ears to gossip,” the Pope said.

Thursday 4 September 2014

From Today, 4th September: A Novena for the Persecuted

Antonio Socci, in his blog Lo Straniero, has asked for a Novena from 4th to 12th September, for our persecuted fellow-Christians. Sorry I don’t have time to translate it, but he proposes a Rosary each day for this most urgent of causes. The Italian blogs I read have been promoting his initiative.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Let us fast, pray and give

Today is a day of fasting, and this is a weekend of prayer, for the persecuted Christians of Iraq. I can hardly bear to turn on the news these days, for fear of learning of some fresh horror.

Let us pray also for the Yazidi community, whose people are suffering so dreadfully on that waterless mountain, and have the additional anguish of knowing that many of their daughters have been taken into unspeakable captivity by the hideously violent fanatics of ISIL.

May I please urge all my readers: Please give whatever you can manage to Aid to the Church in Need, or to similar charities in your countries. Everything helps.

Image copied from the ACN website.

Sunday 27 July 2014

19-21 September: Young Catholic Adults' National Weekend

I am happy to publicise the Young Catholic Adults’ National Weekend, which is to be held at Douai Abbey, Berkshire, from 19th to 21st September 2014.

Full details are available on the YCA website, here.

In order to guarantee your place, Douai Abbey have asked that all bookings be received by no later than 3 weeks before the start of the weekend, i.e. by 29th August.

I’m sure that a wonderful time will be had by all!

Thursday 24 July 2014

The FFI: Here is something very odd.

This is my translation of an article in Corrispondenza Romana dated 23 July 2014. It concerns the Franciscans of the Immaculate, and in particular, the involvement in the Commissariamento of a certain éminence grise, who is profiled in the article. I think this is a very strange business, to put it mildly.

Who is Mario Castellano?

By Emmanuele Barbieri

One year on from the start of the Commissariamento of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the fate of the Institute is now in the hands of a triumvirate composed of Father Fidenzio Volpi, the Commissioner designated by the Congregation for Religious, of Father Alfonso Bruno, the “parricidal” Franciscan, and of an eccentric character, in the shadows up to now, but more active than ever as consultant to the policing operation: “Professor” Mario Castellano. So who is this man?

Mario Castellano was born in Imperia, in 1949, in a well-to-do family. His father Adolfo, a former commercial representative of Scotti rice, was a white partisan [presumably a reference to World War II – DB] and town councillor for the Christian Democrats; his uncle was Ismaele Mario Castellano, Archbishop of Siena. The young Castellano, after receiving his degree in jurisprudence, took the title of lawyer, a profession which he did not practise. His political sympathies have always been on the left. More precisely, he comes from the left-wing of the Christian Democrats, and in Imperia he is remembered as a Cathocommunist. It is also said that since the Nineties, Castellano has been affiliated to the Grand Orient of Sanremo. We await the interested party’s denial of this rumour.

Even though he had never been a professor, he taught law at the University of Managua, soon after the Sandinistas had taken power. (It was from ideological motives that our man moved to Nicaragua for a while, marrying a Nicaraguan woman there, from whom he separated a few years later.) He has collaborated on various websites and blogs, of esoteric and pro-Islamic orientation, before becoming the “right arm” or, according to some, the “left mind”, of Father Alfonso Bruno, whom he met at the Boccea house and has accompanied at times in the inspections of the “rebel” houses.

Since 2005 Castellano has written enthusiastically: in defence of the rights of Musims in Italy; in favour of multiculturalism; on the adjustment of our juridical system to the rights of Muslims; on the shared home of all (believers and non-believers, and believers of all Faiths). (1)

In 2008 he declared himself in favour of the removal from the “Tridentine” Missal of everything that could offend Jewish sensibility. Furthermore, in a positive and charitable tone, the author presented esotericism as one of the three motives for us Catholics being “condemned for eternity” to fight against the Muslims and Jews. (2) In islam-online in 2010 he described Islamic mosques as “a factor of stability and security”. (3)

On 8 April 2011, in an event of the Lions Club of Sanremo, in support of the Italian Risorgimento, Mario Castellano gave a talk on “Cavour Today” [Attualità di Cavour]. (4) Castellano showed evident sympathy for the Italian statesman, who was a noted anticlerical influenced by English-style Freemasonry.

On 12 June 2012 posted an anonymous article, in fact by Castellano, Europe Moving towards Federation? (5) The author of the article reveals himself as an enthusiastic admirer of the French Revolution and of the European Superstate, likening the crisis throughout Europe today to that which France suffered on the eve of the Revolution. The crisis then had its outlet in a revolutionary act by which the States-General, proclaiming themselves the Constituent Assembly, initiated the Revolution. Today the direct assumption by the European Union of the public debt of certain States, and of the private debt of certain banks, is considered as a revolutionary decision which opens up the way to a Federation of European States.

In the course of the French Revolution the clergy then split, between the “priest-jurors” who adhered to the schismatic civil Constitution of the Clergy and the “refractory clergy” who remained faithful to the Church of Rome.

Castellano’s sympathy is for the schismatic priests, as is evinced from this passage: “When Napoleon, in 1801, was to draw up the Concordat with Pius VII, the “refractory clergy” were to be pardoned and readmitted to the exercise of the ministry, while the work carried out by the “priest-jurors” during the previous decade was to be recognised and rectified from the Canonical point of view. Those who had chosen to remain faithful to the Nation had therefore acted correctly, from the point of view of the State, as well as from the point of view of the Church of France.” [The link provided here by Corrispondenza Romana does not work – DB]

Mario Castellano has always distinguished himself, furthermore, by his violent attacks on uncompromising Catholics who are lovers of Tradition. Perhaps it is for this reason that he is loved in his turn by Commissioner Volpi and by the Congregation for Religious, who treasure his advice.


Tuesday 8 July 2014

I hope this is not true ....

The journalist Edward Pentin has tweeted this item of information, or possibly speculation, which appeared today on the Yahoo Italian news site. Here is the relevant extract, translated by me:

Tomorrow’s press conference could also, however, be the occasion for other announcements. According to a leak, there will also be announced the creation of a new Secretariat for Communication, a new dicastery stretching out to coordinate all the communication channels of the Holy See (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Press Office, Osservatore Romano, Radio Vatican). According to the leak, the name of Lord Chris Patten has emerged in “pole position” for the job of president of this organisation. He is aged 70, a British politician, a devout Catholic (he was the organiser of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom in September 2010).

Picture from The Guardian newspaper, via Google Images

Tuesday 27 May 2014

The Nativity Grotto Fire: More Photographs

More pictures of the damage at the Nativity Grotto can be seen here, at the blog Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes.

Might Have Been Worse: Fire Damage to the Grotto of the Nativity

On the site of Messa in Latino there is a report, with pictures, of the accidental damage done to the Grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The text is as follows:

A fire broke out in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, less than 48 hours after the visit of Pope Francis.

A small fire developed in the night because of the accidental fall of an oil lamp in the Grotto of the Nativity beneath the Basilica, it was reported yesterday by Abdel-Fatah Hamayel, the Palestinian governor of the little city in which Jesus was born.

The alarm was raised at about 4.30 a.m. by a guard who noticed the smell of burning.

The flames damaged some hangings inside the Grotto and blackened the walls of the monument, which has been part of the Patrimony of UNESCO since 2012 and is being restored, a task on which two Italian firms are also working.

Thursday 22 May 2014

The Communion of Desire: More Good Things from Bangladesh

I reported here on the splendid open letter from Fr Buzzi of Bangladesh that was published on Sandro Magister’s Chiesa. Fr Buzzi has now written a new letter, full of good things on the subject of the divorced-remarried. Here is the link to it.

If Chiesa isn’t already on your regular reading list, I recommend it to you.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

News about the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

I'm afraid I don't have time to translate all of this article, written by Roberto di Mattei for Correspondenza Romana. However, here is the nub of it, and it is quite a bombshell, though one which the Sisters may well have been expecting.

I expect Rorate Caeli or another English-language site will publish the entire article in the near future.


"On Monday 19 May 2014, Cardinal Joäo Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, announced to the Mother General of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, the nomination, with immediate effect, of a "Visitatrix" for the Institute, with powers of severe control which in fact are equivalent to those of a "Commissioner".

In line with this, Sister Fernanda Barbiero has been installed in the mother-house [at Frattocchie, Rome, I think - DB]. Sister Fernanda belongs to the Istituto Suore Maestre Santa Dorotea. She is an "adult", up-to-date religious, of moderately feminist tendency, a follower, though belatedly by some years, of the "integral humanism" of Maritain."

Picture from holycrossbooks,, via Google Images.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Aid to the Church in Need, and a Place of Life

One of the things I like so much about Aid to the Church in Need is that it nourishes both body and soul. It goes to the peripheries, with the outpouring of God’s love and the fullness of fidelity to Christ’s teaching and that of His Church.

Some of you may not yet have discovered the blog The Eponymous Flower. It has just published this moving and inspiring account of the valiant work carried out by Father Michael Shields, a priest of the Order of the Little Brothers of Jesus. His apostolate is in the town of Magadan, close to the far eastern coast of Russia, and a place of bitter cold and also of bitter associations with the terrible Gulags.

See what beautiful things are being done! His work is helped by Aid to the Church in Need, and if you feel you could spare a small or even a tiny monthly donation, what a difference the cumulative amount could make to someone’s life and spiritual comfort.

It’s very easy to do. Please consider finding out how you could help, by following this link to the Aid to the Church in Need website.

Monday 12 May 2014

On Communion for the Remarried, a Letter from Bangladesh

Dear readers, I dare say many or perhaps all of you visit Sandro Magister's blog, Chiesa, which is available in Italian, English, French and Spanish.

In case you have not yet seen it, I must share this post with you. Magister publishes a letter he has received from an old friend, who has been a missionary priest for many years in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh. How well he has taught the faithful Catholics in his care! I particularly like the concise beauty of his teachings on the Sacraments, especially marriage, and his words on Holy Communion in regard to the divorced-remarried.

This is one of the joys of the Catholic blogosphere: that we who worry about the state of the Church as the Synod on the Family approaches, can be strengthened by our brothers and sisters all over the world.

Saturday 10 May 2014

An Intercession for Which Our Two New Papal Saints are Well Qualified

The prudential decisions of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II have featured prominently in the dismay expressed by some bloggers over their canonisation.

When I look back over my life I can pick out a number of prudential, earthly-wisdom decisions which I regret having made. On the small scale of an ordinary person’s life, the ripples travel only so far; though possibly farther than we can know, and affecting others to an extent we do not know.

How much more harmful may be the effects of the unwise prudential decisions of a Pope! We cannot know the extent of the sorrow experienced by a Pope, as his life draws to a close, if he comes to realise that some of his sincerely-motivated decisions have turned out to be harmful to souls and to the Church.

I don’t want to focus on this or that decision made by former Popes. We know what times the Church is living through, and other writers have expressed their views as to the causes or combinations of causes. My purpose in this post is to propose our newly-canonised Popes as special intercessors in the run-up to the Synod on the Family; and this specifically because of their experience in office.

Pope Francis certainly needs our prayers, and I think also the prayers of our new Saints, that his prudential judgments, and his pastoral decisions, may always be in alignment with the truths of the Catholic Faith. These truths being for the good of all souls.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Easter Greetings

Just a very brief post, to wish my readers a very happy and blessed Easter.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Consistory Cardinals Opposed to the Kasper Report

I have just finished translating the following post from the estimable Italian-language blog, Muniat Intrantes Crux Domino Famulantes, published by Don Luciano Micheli. I found it fascinating and heartening. It’s long, but I hope you will be glad to have persevered with it.

UPDATE: Rorate Caeli has also posted a translation of Marco Tosatti's article, which he wrote for La Stampa. Do go to the Rorate post: it contains other encouraging material. Let us be of good heart!


Is Doctrine the Enemy of Pastoralism?

The Secret Consistory: What Happened.
Following the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

In the Secret Consistory, in which the “Kasper theorem” of the divorced-remarried and the Eucharist was discussed, there was very little agreement, and many criticisms. Here is a reconstruction of some of the most significant and important interventions. “It would be a fatal error”, someone said, to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

Marco Tosatti writes:

The Consistory of 22 February, to discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. But it was decided at a high level that it would be opportune to make public Cardinal Kasper’s long report on the subject of the Eucharist for the divorced-remarried. It was probably done to open up the way in anticipation of the October Synod on the family. But half of the Consistory remained secret: and it concerned the interventions of the Cardinals. And not by chance, because after Cardinal Kasper had set out his long report (not very easy listening, from what it seems) several voices were raised to criticise it. While in the afternoon, when the Pope gave him the task of responding, the German prelate’s tone appeared to many to be piqued, not to say angry.

The current opinion is that the “Kasper theorem” aims to say yes, that in general the divorced-remarried can receive Holy Communion, without the former marriage being recognised as invalid. At present this does not happen; based on Jesus’s very severe and explicit words about divorce. A person who leads a complete matrimonial life without the first bond having been considered invalid by the Church, finds himself, according to the present doctrine, in a permanent situation of sin.

It is in this sense that Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna spoke clearly, as did the German Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Just as explicit was Cardinal Walter Brandmuller (“Neither human nature, nor the Commandments, nor the Gospel, have an expiry date. It is a work of courage to state the truth, even against the current mores. A courage that anyone who speaks in the name of the Church must possess, if he does not want to fail in his vocation … The desire to obtain approval and praise is an ever-present temptation in the dissemination of religious teaching … ” and following this, he made his words public.) So too, Cardinal Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops, expressed himself in a critical manner toward the “Kasper theorem”; as did the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of “Cor Unum”, who recalled, at the end of his intervention, how in the course of the centuries, even on dramatic questions, there have been disagreements and controversies within the Church, but that the role of the Papacy has always been that of defending doctrine.

Cardinal Re, one of the great electors of Bergoglio, made a very brief intervention, which can be summarised thus: I am taking the floor for a moment, because the future new Cardinals are here, and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say it, so I am saying it: I am completely opposed to the report.

Cardinal Piacenza too, the Prefect of the Penitentiary, declared himself opposed to it, and said, more or less: We are here now, and we will be here in October for a Synod on the Family, and so, as there is a desire to hold a Synod, I don’t see in fact why we have to deal only with the subject of Communion for the divorced. And he added: Since we want to have a pastoral discussion, it seems to me that we should take note of a very widely diffused pan-sexualism, and of an aggressive promotion of the ideology of gender which aims to unhinge the family as we have always known it. If we were the light of the nations, it would be providential to explain what kind of situation we find ourselves in, and what can destroy the family. He concluded by exhorting his audience to take up once again the teachings of John Paul II on the body, because they contain many positive elements on the subject of sex, of being a man, of being a woman, and on procreation and love.

Cardinal Tauran, of Inter-Religious Dialogue, returned to the subject of the attack on the family, also in the light of relations with Islam. Cardinal Scola of Milan also raised theological and doctrinal perplexities.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini was also very critical. He added: I do not know if I have made a good note of it, but up to this moment about 85% of the Cardinals who have expressed themselves appear to be opposed to the direction of the report. He added that, among those who said nothing and could not be classified, he gathered from the silences “that I think they are embarrassed”.

Next, Cardinal Ruini quoted the Good Pope, saying, in essence: When John XXIII gave the opening address of Vatican Council II he said that a pastoral Council could be held because, fortunately, doctrine was peacefully accepted by all, and there were no controversies; hence it was possible to give a pastoral edge without fear of being misunderstood, since the doctrine remains very clear. Whether John XXIII had been correct at that moment, the prelate commented, only God knows, but apparently, to a large extent, perhaps it was true. Today this could not be said any longer in the most absolute manner, because not only is doctrine not shared, but it is fought against. “It would be a fatal error” to wish to go along the road of pastoralism without making reference to doctrine.

It is understandable, therefore, that Cardinal Kasper seemed a little piqued, in the afternoon, when Pope Bergoglio allowed him to respond, without, however, allowing the emergence of a real confrontation: only Kasper spoke. Add to this, that other criticisms of the “Kasper theorem” are being added to those raised in the Consistory; privately to the Pope, or publicly, on the part of Cardinals from every part of the world. German Cardinals, who know Kasper well, say that he has been passionate about the matter since the 1970s. The problem raised by several critical voices is that the Gospel is very explicit on this point. And the fear is, that not to take account of it would render any other point of doctrine based on the Gospel very unstable and modifiable at will.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Outflanking the Maginot Line

Unsurprisingly, and I dare say like many others, I am finding the prospect of the forthcoming synod on marriage and the family rather oppressive. With all the pressure by Cardinal Kasper and others, the thought, “It’s like the Maginot Line”, keeps popping into my head.

From various websites I have looked at (including a short Wikipedia article here), I have learnt that the Maginot Line itself was far from being a ridiculous thing, as it has sometimes been painted. It was a series of impressive and varied fortifications, its chief and most substantial presence being along France’s border with Germany, from which country France considered it had most to fear.

I say “the Maginot Line itself”, because my reading has taught me something I had not known: that the French preparedness against the Germans extended from the Maginot Line as far as the English Channel, by means of a series of weaker fortifications, some of which were natural features of the landscape such as forests.

The French thought that in the event of an advance by Germany, the Maginot Line, by acting as a buffer at the frontier between the two countries, would give them enough time to advance to meet the Germans by way of Belgium. But in fact it was the Germans themselves who advanced through Belgium, sweeping on into France, and simply bypassing the Maginot Line.

It is fortunate that the Church’s unchanging teaching is not limited by geography: but that does not allay my fears that certain prelates wish to attempt to outflank it by a blitzkrieg of false pastoralism.

Monday 17 March 2014

Correcting the Erroneous Idea that "Catholic" Means "Inclusive"

I have seen this mistaken view expressed a few times, including on blogs. The blogger presents evidence that the Church’s teaching is being openly rejected, and that the clergy or hierarchy seemingly do nothing to correct the dissent. A commenter says: “Why do you want to exclude your fellow-Catholics who think differently from you? Surely the Church should welcome all views. After all, the word Catholic means inclusive.”

And the answer is, No it doesn’t: not in the Church's sense of the word. Certainly this is one of the meanings given to the word in an ordinary dictionary. But the Church's meaning is more precise, as I’m sure my readers know, being defined as universal.

The English Penny Catechism can’t be beaten for brevity:
The Church is Catholic or universal because she subsists in all ages, teaches all nations, and is the one ark of salvation for all.
The Catholic Encyclopedia gives an interesting and detailed account of the origins of the word Catholic as applied to the Church. In whatever context the term is used, it is clear that the Catholicity, the world-wide reach of the Catholic Church, is inseparable from Her true teaching. You will see what I mean if you read the whole article.

The Encyclopedia was published in 1917, a few years after the death of Pope St Pius X, who had issued detailed warnings against Modernism, described as the synthesis of all heresies. Bearing this date in mind, it is fascinating to read its dismissal of the idea that the Church can find room both for true teachings and their rejection. Here is the relevant passage, to which I have added a few paragraph breaks for ease of reading.


"It should be said that among some confused thinkers of the Anglican communion, as also among certain representatives of Modernist opinions, an interpretation of the Catholicity of the Church has lately come into fashion which has little connection with anything that has hitherto fallen under our notice. Starting with the conception familiar in such locutions as "a man of catholic tastes", meaning a man who excludes no rational interest from his sympathies, these writers would persuade us that a catholic church either does or should mean a church endowed with unlimited comprehensiveness, i.e. which is prepared to welcome and assimilate all opinions honestly held, however contradictory.

"To this it may be answered that the idea is absolutely foreign to the connotation of the phrase Catholic Church as we can trace it in the writings of the Fathers. To take a term consecrated by centuries of usage and to attach a brand-new meaning to it, of which those who through the ages had it constantly on their lips never dreamed, is to say the least extremely misleading.

"If this comprehensiveness and elasticity of belief is regarded as a desirable quality, by all means let it have a new name of its own, but it is dishonest to leave the impression upon the ignorant or the credulous, that this is the idea which devout men in past ages have all along been groping for, and that it has been left to the religious thinkers of our own day to evolve from the name catholic its true and real significance.

"So far from the idea of a nebulous and absorbent substance imperceptibly shading off into the media which surround it, the conception of the Fathers was that the Catholic Church was cut off by the most clearly defined of lines from all that lay outside. Its primary function, we might also say, was to set itself in acute opposition to all that threatened its vital principle of unity and stability.

"It is true that patristic writers may sometimes play with the word catholic, and develop its etymological suggestiveness with an eye to erudition or edification, but the only connotation upon which they insist as a matter of serious import is the idea of diffusion throughout the world."

Saturday 15 March 2014

The Protection of the Holy Eucharist and the Role of the Church Usher

A fine post on Dr Joseph Shaw’s LMS Chairman blog set me thinking about what may (and probably will) lie ahead. This is the result.

Dear Fathers, Pastors of souls, I’m sure you will agree that there are times when you have to think like a civil servant.

I’d like to think that every priest has planned ahead, and worked out in advance how he is going to deal with the publicly unrepentant who stand in front of him at the altar steps, daring him to refuse them Holy Communion.

A soldier is well trained to deal with unexpected and critical threats, and so must priests be, in the spiritual sphere, especially in these dark days. I do not know whether bishops usually guide their clergy in such matters. I hope they do. But if not, it would be as well for priests to be (oh, cringe at the jargon) proactive.

When planning for these contingencies, it would be sensible also to recruit some of the burlier members of the congregation to serve on a roster of church ushers.

I sometimes try to imagine how I might react if I were in the priest’s shoes when faced with this situation. I can think of a few requirements. A quick assessment; taking command of the moment; a decisive response; a refusal to be cowed; genuine concern for the soul in front of you; standing on your authority as a priest of God and guardian of His Body.

I suppose the priest could say, quite simply, “Please return to your place”, or something similar. That might be sufficient, as well as tactful: the would-be communicant would know the implications of the priest’s words.

If the person refused to move away, I can envisage something stronger, such as “I will not give you Holy Communion”, and even, if the person persisted, “For the sake of your soul, I will not give you Holy Communion.” This would be turning into a horrible experience for the unrepentant person (as it would for the priest), but that would be more salutary for him than if he were to add the sin of sacrilege to his defiance.

Finally, faced with continuing refusal to move aside, the priest would be well advised to have his Burly Ushers close by, to apply their own persuasion.

After that, there is the question of the bishop’s reaction if he were informed of the incident. Now that is the great unknown. But at least in my imaginary diocese the priest would be able to produce his plan (already pre-approved by the bishop, naturally), which I hope would encourage the bishop to believe that he handled the crisis well. Civil service thinking, you see.

Times are grim, but at least we can all be prepared.

Friday 14 March 2014

Even the most valiant soldier can sometimes get the wobbles

This, as you may have guessed, is about Michael Voris and ChurchMilitant.TV. In particular, I’d like to comment on the reports that the mission statement or policy of that organisation specifically precludes any criticism of the Pope.

Let us say, hypothetically, that there might be a Pope whose words or actions on occasion caused confusion or dismay to orthodox-minded Catholics. Those same words or actions might be interpreted by the heterodox and by those who rejected the Church’s moral teachings as a licence to continue on their false path.

If an orthodox Catholic broadcaster with a clause such as CMTV is said to have, were to find itself living and working in such a pontificate, one could reasonably imagine that it would experience a dilemma.

Paul withstood Peter, and the lay faithful, within their capacity, have the right to speak out when their Catholic antennae tell them that something, from whatever source, is just not right. Always subject to correction of genuine misunderstandings, of course, and assuming the sincerity of all involved.

If such a scenario ever came to pass, a few things occur to me. (Readers may think of additional things.) The broadcaster’s management board would be well advised to revisit its blanket “No criticism of the Pope” clause. As it stands, it would not allow them, or their presenters, the specific authorisation to criticise Papal words and deeds while continuing to deny them the right to criticise the man: to speak frankly about the former while displaying genuine respect and love for the latter.

They could, I suppose, leave the clause as it is while interpreting it with a kind of reservation: since it refers, as it stands, only to the Pope and not to his words or actions. There is a risk in this. It could be asserted by their opponents that they were ignoring the “no criticism” clause as though it were a dead letter. Such criticisms would have a grain of truth. But they would be a bit bare-faced. Dissenters have attempted to do this very thing, far more seriously (and have largely succeeded in practice) in regard to the moral teachings of the Church and Her associated disciplines. In general, though, it may not be a good idea.

It would be better, I think, for the broadcaster’s controllers to be completely up-front about it: to re-word the clause so that it clearly permits one kind of criticism while forbidding the other kind. If they were to do that they would at least be able, as one or two people used to say where I worked, to “cover their backs”. In this situation, it might be a sensible move.

Sad, isn’t it, that such measures might become necessary at some point. All CMTV are trying to do is to engage in the noble work of defending the faith of Christ’s Church.

God bless Michael Voris, who is such a valiant soldier.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

“Kasper’s encore: Either it happens as I say, or no synod”

This is my translation of an interesting post on Sandro Magister’s blog Settimo Cielo, entitled as above. I thought a few things were worth highlighting in bold.


Cardinal Walter Kasper is very angry at the publication by Il Foglio on 1 March – and disseminated in additional languages by www.chiesa - of his report to the consistory on 21 –22 February, in favour of Communion for remarried divorcees. This may be because the daily newspaper edited by Giuliano Ferrara has ruined the scoop the cardinal was already planning with the approval of Pope Francis, with the publication of his own report in the form of a short book, to be published by Queriniana.

But on 11 March it was L’Osservatore Romano which was the second media outlet to anticipate the issuing of the booklet, publishing almost in their entirety two other unpublished texts of Kasper, taken from his participation in the consistory, at the end of the discussion.

It was a very lively discussion, with many first-rank cardinals speaking against the theses maintained by Kasper.

In his reply to the critics, the German theologian and cardinal called on the tradition of the Church in support of his theses, and on the Eastern principle of “oikonomia”, on the Western principle of “epicheia”, on the equiprobabilism of St Alfonso Maria de Liguori, on the concept of prudence in Thomas Aquinas, and on the “sensus fidei” of the Christian people considered by Newman.

And he concluded with an either/or. Either the synod on the family will produce a change, or else it will be much better not to convene it at all:

“Regarding this question of ours, there are great expectations in the Church. Without doubt we cannot respond to all the expectations. But if we were merely to repeat the responses which have already been given, presumably going back forever, that would lead to a very serious disappointment. As witnesses of hope we cannot let ourselves be guided by a hermeneutic of fear. Courage, and above all, biblical openness (parresia), are necessary. If we do not want this, then we should rather not hold any synod on this subject, because in such a case the subsequent situation would be worse than it was before.”

Saturday 22 February 2014

Re-thinking the Procession for Holy Communion

Here is a first-rate post from Fr Simon Henry on his highly-recommended blog, Offerimus Tibi Domine, entitled When was the last time you felt unable to go to Communion?

I venture, with some trepidation, to make a modest proposal.

In Clifton diocese the Holy Communion procession is a very neat arrangement, front to back, row by row. This results in those who do not go up to receive remaining rather conspicuously alone in the pew.

In contrast, I remember things as they used to be, both in my earlier years in Liverpool archdiocese, and as they were when we spent a good deal of time in a rural part of Ireland in the mid-2000s. What I recall is a bit of a scramble. All the communicants surged forward randomly, including those right at the back of the church. The people in the front pews sometimes had to wait quite some time before they could fit into a gap. In addition, some of the congregation liked to spend a little more time in prayer before receiving.

The “bun-fight” approach allowed for all sorts and types. It was untidy, but the very untidiness gave shelter to those who were unwilling or unable to receive. Nobody noticed what they were or were not doing. They could devote themselves to their own prayers and spiritual communions.

Really, it would be an act of charity to such members of the congregation. And, since the First Great Commandment relates to God, this giving of shelter and a degree of anonymity would also help to foster the respect due to the Blessed Sacrament.

Would congregations be willing to go back to the old, somewhat chaotic arrangement, if these genuine and very important spiritual reasons were put forward? Might it be feasible?

Image, via Google, from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville, New South Wales

Monday 17 February 2014

Pope Francis and the Pearl of Great Price

Many of you will have read Rorate Caeli's post about the discussion between Pope Francis and the Czech Archbishop Jan Graubner, on the subject of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Archbishop reports the Pope’s opinion as follows:

When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. "When I search more thoroughly - the Pope said - I find that it is rather a kind of fashion. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."

If the report is accurate, Pope Francis thinks the Traditional Latin Mass is a fashion to which some young Catholics have become addicted as to a passing phase. He has come to this conclusion, because, as he is reported to have said, he has searched “more thoroughly” into the matter.

I am sure the Pope genuinely believes that his research has been thorough; but that does not necessarily mean it is so.

The evidence that the love of Tradition is a deep-rooted development lies not only in the slow but steady growth of the Traditional Mass in many parts of the world, but most dramatically in the vocational fruitfulness of those priestly and religious congregations who have embraced it. It is not for a fashion that young people give their entire lives to the Lord: it is because they have found the pearl of great price.

Image from Rorate Caeli's post on the recent subdiaconal ordinations of the FSSP

Thursday 2 January 2014

A Traditional Latin Mass on New Year’s Day

Since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Traditional Latin Mass congregation of Cheltenham has been very fortunate in regard to the good priests who have regularly offered the Holy Sacrifice in the ancient form. Father Tom Smith, now at Warminster; Father Alexander Redman of Dursley, and now Father Ian McCarthy of Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water: they have each been a great blessing to us.

Because of various disruptions, I had been unable to attend the monthly TLM at St Gregory’s for a little while. I missed it very much. Yesterday evening, by means of a lift there and a taxi back, I had the quiet joy of being present at the first Low Mass of the year.

There is something very powerful about being part of a congregation that unites itself with the priestly workman as he goes about his Task. Yesterday, unusually, there was no altar server, and the congregation spoke the responses, with unostentatious dignity.

The number has shown a slow but steady increase over time, and at the end of a day of almost unremittingly vile weather about thirty people had made the effort to attend. They included quite a few newcomers, I think. It was very impressive.

As I knelt and prayed and observed Father going about his work at the altar, I tried to fathom out what it is about this form of the Mass that always goes to my heart in a way that the Novus Ordo form does not. At one time there is a particular reason; at another, a different one. Last night, the idea of normality came to me very strongly. If I had my heart’s desire in these things, I would wish to attend the Traditional Mass as my normal Mass.

I particularly wanted to write this post, in order to record an exchange I heard after the Mass, while waiting outside the door for my taxi to arrive. I heard a young woman say, as she came out, “That was beautiful”; and her companion agreed.

After that, I have no more words, except to wish my readers many blessings for the year ahead.