Friday, 29 June 2007

Reality check

This morning, in a plastic envelope, I received a magazine which I assume many of my colleagues also received.
As you can see, it's all black, with a silhouette of a young man walking away from us towards a bright light, rather like the mother-ship in a sci-fi movie. The magazine has its title 'REALITY' blazoned across the top, and in smaller letters 'Let's get in touch with God's feminine side'.
This edition is titled' Goodbye to all that: Why young people are leaving the church and what the church is doing about it'.

I reached for the bin. Obviously a scientology rag, I thought. But, I paused. I was short of entertainment, and it might be interesting to see what the scientologists were paying all this money for. The mag fell open at the editorial page. There's a picture of the Editor in brown jacket and open-necked shirt and I scanned down for his name. There it was, with CSsR after it. He's apparently a Redemptorist priest, and the publication is some sort of Redemptorist magazine. I'd completely missed the tiny 'Catholic' word on the front cover.

In his editorial, Fr Moloney appeals for opinions about his mag; it's content and design. Well, I'll give it a read, though if he thinks that the reason young people are leaving the Church is because they don't hear enough about God's feminine side, then he doesn't know the young people I know.

New ICEL translation in use

The new ICEL translation which has appeared here and there on the internet, has already begun to be used in the UK by…
some Anglicans. Sources tell me that a group used it in Winchester recently, the excuse being that since they all used different versions of the service (BCP, old-ICEL, Common Worship, English Missal, do-it-yourself &c), they'd better all use one that none of them used, yet, anyway.

The Silly Season

A woman has seen our Lady of Guadaloupe, in, er, a watermelon.
Read about it here.

Here is the watermelon:

and here is our Lady of Guadaloupe: (not Canteloupe)

who some Protestants think looks like (and basically is) an Aztec goddess called Coatlicue. (Here).

What a giggle.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

The Ten Commandments of the Curé of Corps

I found this in a French church many years ago, posted to the back wall, written by a grumpy curé. The Church was in a place called, puzzlingly, Corps. I have tried to decipher and (loosely) translate for your delectation/entertainment/edification.

The Ten Commandments for being a good parishioner.

1. Thou shalt arrive at every Mass regularly on time.
2. Thou shalt not obstinately hang around at the back of the church.
3. Thou shalt sit thyself in a pew, without blocking the aisle.
4. When asked, thou shalt give generously to good causes.
5. During Mass, thou shalt sing joyfully.
6. Thou shalt seriously listen to thy curé's sermons.
7. Thou shalt not save up thy sins to confess them at EASTER.
8. Thou shalt not systematically oppose any reforms.
9. Thou shalt pray, waiting for the eternal reign of GOD.
10. Thou shalt kindly remain in place until the end of Mass.

AMEN! and Have a nice stay in Corps, everybody!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Tee hee. Let's haff a giggle, Georg, and publish a different motu proprio. Se English bishops will be so annoyed to haff got semselves worked up over nussing!

More new crimes

Last week, a German court sentenced a 55-year old Lutheran pastor to one year in jail for Volksverhetzung (incitement of the people) because he compared the killing of the unborn in contemporary Germany to the holocaust. Next week, the Council of Europe is going to vote on a resolution imposing Darwinism as Europe's official ideology. The European governments are asked to fight the expression of creationist opinions, such as young earth and intelligent design theories. According to the Council of Europe these theories are "undemocratic" and "a threat to human rights."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

'I am both Muslim and Christian'

So says the Revd Ann Holmes Redding, a woman in Anglican priestly orders, who apparently does not find Christianity sufficiently fulfilling, and so divides her time between her church and the local mosque, where she has converted to Islam without renouncing either her Christian faith (she says)—or her stipend as an Episcopalian clergyperson. In all this she has the support of her bishop.
You can read all about it here.

Redding, who will begin teaching the New Testament as a visiting assistant professor at Seattle University this fall, has a different analogy: "I am both Muslim and Christian, just like I'm both an American of African descent and a woman. I'm 100 percent both."
Redding doesn't feel she has to resolve all the contradictions. People within one religion can't even agree on all the details, she said. "So why would I spend time to try to reconcile all of Christian belief with all of Islam?
"At the most basic level, I understand the two religions to be compatible. That's all I need."
She says she felt an inexplicable call to become Muslim, and to surrender to God — the meaning of the word "Islam."
"It wasn't about intellect," she said. "All I know is the calling of my heart to Islam was very much something about my identity and who I am supposed to be.
"I could not not be a Muslim."
As for her bishop:
Redding's situation is highly unusual. Officials at the national Episcopal Church headquarters said they are not aware of any other instance in which a priest has also been a believer in another faith. They said it's up to the local bishop to decide whether such a priest could continue in that role.
Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese's newspaper, hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said.
Hunting on the net for a pic of her, (above) I discovered here that she has another bee in her headscarf; the poison that is in her body from pollution. Ironical.
(H/T to Damian Thompson and Dhimmi Watch)

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

The future

Looking around the blogosphere, I have been very struck about the general agreement between bloggers concerning the Church. I'm sure there are dissenters; it's just that they don't seem very apparent. There seems to be common, even overwhelming agreement that (amongst many other things):

1) The probable general indult for wider use of the traditional liturgy is to be welcomed.
2) The new ICEL translation is a vast improvement on the current one.
3) We like our Catholic religion Catholic.

Given that we are an entirely self-selecting bunch of people—anyone can start a blog— the concurrence of thought is very interesting. In other words, among those actually interested enough to put their thoughts into a public forum, there is a huge consensus on these subjects.

Now, were I a Roman prelate (or even an English bishop) trying to assess how a thing will go down, I would pay close attention. After all, blogs are now widely read.

And so it makes it all the more puzzling that the English and Welsh bishops feel that the really crucial thing that they need to do is dissuade Pope Benedict from permitting people to celebrate the traditional Mass a little bit more often.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Sir Salman Rushdie

What snorting idiot in no. 10 thought it'd be a good idea to knight Salman Rushdie?
1) The man has given grave offence to a large number of citizens of this country.
2) I would be very surprised if this decision does not cost lives.
3) What on earth has he done to merit it? I can think of far better writers.
Oh don't get me wrong: I'm no fan of Islam, and I think tomorrow's concert in Westminster Cathedral (99 names of Allah) is a disgrace, but I don't think this is a well-motivated honour, but a secularist one; he is being honoured because of the offence he gave to Moslems.
In my opinion.

Why the Eastern Rites take longer than the Western

Latin rite:
Priest: Sursum corda.
Response: Habemus ad Dominum.

Syrian rites:
Priest: Up in the sublime heights, in the fearful and glorious region, where the Cherubim cease not to agitate their wings, and there is no end to the hymns and the sweet sounds of the sanctification of the Seraphim, there be your minds.
Response: To Thee, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, the exceeding glorious King.
(Tr. J.M.Neale)

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Sunday Thoughts 3

Since I came to Blogbury, I have to do all my own cooking and shopping, which I don't mind. But I've been learning quite a lot about where you can buy things.
My first choice is the monthly Farmers' Market, but it is very pricey, and if I'm busy on a Saturday morning, then I've missed the market for another month.
My second choice is our really pretty good selection of local shops. We have a good butcher, but have no fishmonger or greengrocer, so I'm compelled to go to supermarkets, and while I'm there, I naturally get my meat too, as to make an additional trip to the butcher would add another half hour to my shopping time.
But supermarkets are not all equal. Some are wonderful, others are, frankly, pants.
So: here's my list of UK supermarkets with my (entirely subjective) judgment. I'm writing them in my personal order of approval. Feel free to use the comment box to add your two-pennorth.

Unquestionably the best supermarket ever:
These only exist in Lancashire, but they are truly wonderful. I discovered them in April this year, where they had tomatoes, grown in Lancashire, which (unique for the UK) tasted like tomatoes. In APRIL! I found a bottle of Chateau Musar (yes, Ch. Musar!) at a reasonable price. The place was clean, attractive. All the vegetables both looked and tasted fantastic. The meat was great; not a huge selection, but all was good. I just wanted to start cooking. And the prices were reasonable. Ulverston was the best branch I visited.
Without any doubt worth moving to Lancashire for.

Marks and Spencer. All good (sometimes really good) stuff, but a very small range, and prices high. Their new branches on motorways seem, so far, disappointing.

Waitrose. Pretty good, and generally reliable. But you always know when you've been shopping there when you see your bill. Their beef is really excellent.

Joint equal with Waitrose; Somerfield. The produce isn't quite as good, but their prices are very reasonable. Their vegetables, bread and meat (each a good test, in my opinion) are more than satisfactory, and though their shops are quite small, they seem to have almost everything I need. Their own brand of whisky, Prince Charlie, and their own cognac are both very respectable and reasonably priced. Good range of wines, too.

Sainsbury's. In the middle. In everything.

Co-op Well, it's cheap and handy, and the things in tins you can't far wrong with. Horrid chickens, bread (except for the local stuff sometimes bought in) and very very poor selection of vegetables. One very useful thing you can get here is a large pack of off-cuts of cooked ham, very cheaply.

Tesco. Well; I object to supporting La Porter for a start. But their shops (near me, anyway) are really pretty unpleasant. The vegetables are horrible; limp, unimaginative. They have city centre places (which are okay), but their out of town establishments are obscenely huge. You can see abandoned trollies everywhere, where people have just given up. The meat is okay, and the bread is quite nice.

Asda (=Walmart) My personal hate. Cheap in every sense of the word. The very poorest choice and quality of vegetables. Okay meat and bread. Their pluses are: cheap and not bad clothes, and an Irish section where you can get (not very nice) barm brack, Kimberley biscuits, Barry's tea and a couple of other national specialities. I don't consider it worth driving out of town for. I hate the lime-green uniforms.

Unknown quantity: Morrison's/Safeways. Others.

As I say; my personal opinion.

Sunday Thoughts 2

And now about my lunch.
Another priest kindly said my 11.00 Mass this morning. Lovely; that meant that I only had to say three Sunday Masses this weekend; something particularly welcome as yesterday we had our annual procession of the Blessed Sacrament and I'm a bit tired.
So I thought that instead of spag bol for the third lunchtime running (I'd made a lot), I'd cook myself a traditional roast Sunday lunch. I haven't had one for some time, so I stretched the law a bit and (sorry!) went to the Co-op and bought a chicken.
Sunday observance is a bit of a thing of mine, so please don't protest that I'm being a hypocrite. I know that I am. I tell myself that this was a special occasion, as I rarely have a chance to do this.
But, once I'd roasted the chicken, I tucked in. The spuds were great, the broccoli with its cheese sauce a triumph; the roasted peppers were lovely. Even the gravy was pretty good. But the poor chicken was utterly tasteless. Despite having been cooked with half a lemon, rosemary, garlic and bay in the cavity.
I was angry. Honestly!
I could easily be a vegetarian. I don't really like the idea of eating meat, but I enjoy the experience too much to give it up. Besides I don't think there is any really valid moral argument against carnivorism. But I thought that the poor chicken had really probably had a pretty miserable life and a pretty miserable death. And for what? It didn't even provide a good meal which might, repeat might, have given a little justification for the rest.
I was angry for the chicken. How silly is that?
I can't afford huge amounts of money for a really good organic chicken.

So, the moral is whether on Sundays or legitimate days; don't buy chicken from Co-op!

Sunday Thoughts

Two things that gave me thought today. The first was my lunch, but I'll come back to that. The second was a programme on Radio 4 (BBC), called An Open Wound. It was about some Argentinian former soldiers reflecting on the Falkland war in the early 1980s. At the time (1982), I was an undergraduate at St Andrews in Scotland, where I was privileged to know the professor of Latin American studies, the remarkable (and sadly late) Douglas Gifford. At a casual gathering of students, we discussed the war that was going on at the time. It all seemed very black and white then, but Douglas (himself born, I think, in Argentina) spoke gloomily about the war. Oh, he had no sympathy for Galtieri, but he said that he also had little sympathy for the British soldiers (and he himself was a keen member of the Territorial Army) because, as he said, they were professionals. They knew what they were doing, nobody had forced them into the army. His heart bled, on the other hand, for the Argentinian conscripts who were forced to fight and, indeed, starve, for a cause they had little sympathy with, and for which many of them had to give their lives.
At the time, I didn't understand. But as the months and years passed, I grew to do so, and listening to this very moving programme I feel it all over again. One of my altar boys from past years is now an American Marine in Iraq, and I worry about him and pray for him a lot. When I was young, I saw nations, countries and glory. Now, a priest, I see people.
God rest all those who died, British and Argentinians.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

A strong argument

I think that this clip (of the attempted ordination of some women as priests and deacons) is one of the strongest arguments I have seen against women's ordination. Given that they do not seem to want to belong to the same church as I, I wonder why they want to be priests of it.
At the end of the solemn rite, all the ladies now wearing vestments join hands and dance around.

Not for the squeamish…

Here is some footage of some women in the US attempting to celebrate Mass. Well, where do I begin? I'll just highlight two things. Note the careful avoidance of ever referring to God as Father or Lord. If it is by the Holy Spirit that we call Jesus 'Lord', perhaps this is more proof (if any were needed) that what is happening here is not of the Holy Spirit. The other thing to notice is the preacher extolling what she calls 'prophetic obedience'; this seems to mean identifying the will of God with what seems to be a good idea to her and her friends. There seem to be a few male concelebrants.
As in the last clip, and for very different reasons, don't look if you are squeamish.

on a more lighthearted note, in the first version of this post, I accidentally uploaded the Aramaic funeral again. Early readers may have been surprised to see it described as a Womynpriest doings.

Father was an Aramean

I've been exploring the Syrian/Aramean liturgy recently (as you do) and came across this footage of a funeral in the Tur Abdin; it's the requiem for a priest, and you'll see that they actually sit the deceased up in the sanctuary in all his vestments. Don't look if you're squeamish. Most unusual, and fascinating.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

The Pentagon's Gay Bomb

No, it isn't the first of April; apparently the Pentagon seriously considered constructing a bomb loaded with hormones to turn opposing soldiers homosexual! It's worthy of Dr Evil.
"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another,"

The really funny thing is that they actually thought (a) this might work, and (b) would seriously give them a tactical advantage. Presumably on the battlefield, they thought that those pesky Russkys would lay down their weapons and go to pick and arrange some flowers, or make a quiche, or run up some curtains……
You can read all about it here.
H/T to New Oxford Review

Monday, 11 June 2007

Prefect for the East

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri has been moved from the Secretariat of State to become the Prefect for the Eastern Churches. Unremarkable, you might think.
But I am fairly confident, from knowing several Eastern rite priests, that this appointment will cause disappointment that, yet again, their affairs are going to be regulated by a Latin rite cleric.
No doubt this is partly so that the very different Eastern traditions can be moderated by someone who is impartial, who belongs to none of them, but the past has shown that this impartiality can mean in effect, equal indifference to them all.
It seems to me that the policy towards the Eastern Catholic Churches has shuttled from one extreme to the other. A Rumanian Catholic priest friend of mine complained that when he was a seminarian, the then prefect delivered a homily extolling the indispensibility of celibacy for the priesthood. This priest, I might add, now has a wife and five beautiful children. Other prefects have urged that all 'latinization' be utterly purged from the rites. This doesn't just mean in the Eucharistic rite itself, but statues, stations of the cross, rosaries &c that have been an important part of the rites' spirituality for decades if not centuries. These people are not just Eastern, they are Catholi, and their fear is that they and their churches will at some time be coolly handed over to the supervision of their local Orthodox Patriarch, perhaps in some sort of a Northern-Ireland power-sharing deal, as an ecumenical gesture. In some cases, there has been real oppression of these Eastern Catholic by their Orthodox neighbours—in Transylvania, the Orthodox still hold many Catholic Churches gifted to them by the Communist regime, which they keep locked because they do not need them, but which they will not return to their true owners. Dogs in the manger, indeed. I am of course aware that there has also been bad behaviour the other way, but it just goes to show that you really need someone who understands the situation from the inside at the head of this congregation.
And then there is a row about whether the rites should be 'montini-ized'. Many Eastern clergy now want to celebrate Mass/the Liturgy facing the Congregation with other similar changes. Why, I can't imagine. For quite a while now, Rome has been supporting those who want to maintain the traditional position and rites (this being ecumenically motivated, I think), while at the same time doing little or nothing to achieve the same in the West.
You can read something about this row in the Indian Syro-Malabar church here.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Corpus Christi

So, today we celebrated Corpus Christi. At the main Mass we had no music at all; our choir had decamped to our big First Communion Mass and left nobody to sing at one of the greatest feasts of the year. I must remember to guard against that next year! I preached about the reality of the real presence, natch, but was a little alarmed to see two first-time catechists for the children's liturgy of the word with a plate containing two bread rolls. I'm not going to ask what went on or what was said: I'm afraid I mighn't like the answer!
Fortunately, our First Holy Communion catechists are really first rate. Twenty or so children made their FHC this morning with the greatest devotion and care. I wish I could say the same for their friends and families! It's not the kids who misbehave, but the aunties and uncles, and in some cases the parents. Remembering the circus last year, I read the riot act beforehand, asking for a respectful prayerful atmosphere. Well it was better than last year, but it really is strange how so many people really don't know what is appropriate behaviour on an occasion like that. They even chattered and laughed during the Communion itself!
Nevertheless, it is the happiness and faith of the children that will stay with me. Giving first Holy Communions is one of the things I love above all else. Please say a prayer for the children that the love and faith they have today may stay with them throughout life.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Catholicism test

One of the better quizzes of this type: though I'm glad to be 100% RC, the liberal quotient has me a little worried…… Still I fared better than many supposed traddies who also did this test!
Sorry—the link to the site for this quiz seems to be inaccurate. I don't know what went wrong there. I've tried retracing my steps without success. Just one of those things, I suppose. If I find it, I'll post it.

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Classical Liberal






Reformed Evangelical




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

Union de priére

The local vicar (a nice chap) told me yesterday that he (and such of the CofE who do so) celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi 'on the same day as the Holy Father'. I managed to smile politely.
Give us our holy days back!!!!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Absolutely Extraordinary

There is a growing consensus that the traditional rite is, in the (?) forthcoming (?) Motu Proprio, to be deemed 'extraordinary', and the novus ordo 'ordinary' rites of Mass in the Latin tradition.
We need canonical precedents here to understand 'extraordinary' and 'ordinary'. The one that springs to mind is extraordinary and ordinary ministers of communion.
So in the average parish, there should be about the same proportion of celebrations of the traditional Mass to the new Mass as there are extraordinary ministers of Communion to ordinary ministers of Communion.
I can live with that.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Athletae Christi

Apparently China may ban Catholics from the 2008 Olympics—read about it here.
I suppose that it is unlikely to happen in the event, but this may well do something to heighten awareness of the plight of underground Catholics in China. The Holy Father's forthcoming document on the Chinese Church may well swing matters one way or another.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

How do I join Solidarity?

Warsaw, Jun. 5, 2007 ( - Leaders of Poland's Solidarity movement are threatening a nationwide strike on the feast of Corpus Christi, to protest policies that require employees to work on religious and national holidays.

At a press conference in Warsaw, leaders of Solidarity's retail division appealed to employees across the nation to join in a work stoppage on June 7, when Corpus Christi will be observed.

Solidarity is demanding that all retail stores be closed on Sundays and on the country’s 12 most important national and religious holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, Corpus Christi, All Saints’ Day, Independence Day, and Christmas. A proposal to the same effect was introduced in the Polish parliament this year, but has yet to be voted on.

Monday, 4 June 2007


Someone—perhaps one of you will remember who it was—famously made the remark at Vatican II, when collegiality was being discussed, that holy writ only mentions one example of collegial decision making, when it records of the apostles: 'and they all ran away'.
One Cardinal Ratzinger first raised doubts about the theological underpinning of the priniciple in The Ratzinger Report, an interview with a journalist, Victor Messori, in the 1980s.
Looking at the way bishops govern their dioceses these days, one has a certain sympathy for his point of view. The point is, surely, that a bishop does belong to a college, but it is not primarily that of his brother bishops, but of his brother priests; those who belong to his diocese. It is them 'with whom he shares his priestly ministry', as the ordination rite puts it; it is to the care of this college that the people of the diocese are entrusted.
To jointly govern a country, rather than a diocese, risks all sorts of things; for instance (and not least) neglecting the very important Catholic principle of subsidiarity; it creates a system where one size fits all and, most crucially, it takes the bishop away from, precisely, the forum that he has been ordained/consecrated to serve.
A bishop's secretary of my acquaintance used to lament the huge sheaves of paperwork his master was expected to digest before every bishops' meeting. Paper generated by a new expensive civil service whose job it is to provide this stuff to justify their salaries. A priest friend observed that his diocese was employing (at full salaries) all sorts of people doing very little, but who had to nag or bombard already over-pressed parish clergy with paperwork, or demands for this or that, simply to have something to do.
Somehow, I think we need a simplification. Of course it is a good thing for bishops to meet, but it shouldn't be the principal legislative unit of the Church in this country.
As the Holy Father said all those years ago; bishops are of divine institution. Bishops' Conferences are not.

Friday, 1 June 2007

With Crumpet Blast

Anything will do in journalism; it doesn't have to be true. Here's a piece (one of the most inaccurate I've ever seen) on the forthcoming (?) Motu Proprio, from The Trumpet, the organ (as it were) of the Philadelphia Church of God. Go, girl! With journalistic skills like these, you could soon be running the BBC!

Pope Revives Latin Mass
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Under the guiding hand of Pope Benedict xvi, the traditional Tridentine Mass is making a comeback in spite of internal and external opposition, reports USA Today.

The Second Vatican Council, conducted from 1962 to 1965, restricted the use of the Latin, ultra-conservative Tridentine Missal, or prayer book, for use during mass. The reason for the change, which was made during a time of emerging liberalism, was clear: Many felt that changing times called for a more flexible, inclusive mass. Where the Tridentine Mass was conservative, inflexible and peppered with derogatory implications toward Jews and non-Catholics, the new mass would facilitate greater participation among laymembers, be more compact and be written in a variety of languages. “Many in the church regard Vatican ii as a moment of badly needed reform and a new beginning,” wrote Nicole Winfield.

Though the decision to restrict the Tridentine Mass was welcomed by most, it was scorned by hard-core Catholics. A younger Joseph Ratzinger was among the disgruntled conservatives. At the time, Ratzinger, now Benedict xvi, criticized the changes ushered in by Vatican ii: “I was stunned by the ban on the ancient missal,” he wrote in his memoirs (Sunday Times, March 11).

Now that Ratzinger is the most powerful man in the Roman Catholic Church, he is in a position to reverse the Vatican ii decision. His intentions are not just to resurrect the Tridentine, but also to set it above the current mass. The Tridentine Mass will be an “extraordinary universal rite,” and the current mass will become an “ordinary universal rite” (ibid.).