Wednesday 29 September 2010

Young Catholic Minute

I heartily recommend this site giving very brief segments answering questions aimed at young people called "Young Catholic Minute"

Some of the presentation is a bit cheesy - deliberately so I think, but the answers are sound in the brief time allotted to each question. I guess the brevity is to allow for the presumed short concentration span of those viewing You Tube videos (in which I include myself!)

I chose the one embedded above to give me the chance to remark on the Holy Father's great love of cats - here at the Oratory in Birmingham (where the cat is named after a well-known philosopher).

Also, an opportunity to picture my own fine beasts, Mahjong and Tigger (seen penning a letter to the Holy Father asking to meet him):
As well as Chester (pictured here in a novel bed he made for himself one night when I left the tumble dryer open) who died very suddenly some months ago - although dearly loved he was buried in the back garden rather than transported to feline heaven.

Monday 27 September 2010


I saw some photos of Fr Michael Brown's church at St Mary's, Forest Hall. I was struck by the resemblance of the church to my former parish of St Cuthbert's in Wigan. The architects there were Greenhalgh and Williams. Like me, it seems Fr Brown has recognised the need for some colour and focus in a vast church (St Cuthbert's seated 600 and was a very tall building). He has done this with a Pantokrator over the High Altar. At St Cuthbert's we made use of strong colour, stenciling and statues (including St John & Our Lady at the foot of the cross and adoring angels either side of the High Altar. (Since my departure from Wigan, the church has had a modernist makeover, so if you happen to be in the area and go to Mass there, you won't see anything like what is in the photos below). You can view his blog here:

St Mary's - Forest Hall (above)

St Cuthbert's - Wigan

Sunday 26 September 2010

Make your faith more visible - says Archbishop Vincent Nichols

In the wake of the Holy Father's visit the Archbishop of Westminster has issued a Pastoral Letter today encouraging Catholics to "be more confident in our faith and more ready to speak about it and let it be seen each day." He suggests we might "be quicker to say to others that we will pray for them, especially to those in distress" and that we might take "the simple step of more regularly using the greeting 'God bless you', gently and naturally" or "the more frequent use of the Sign of the Cross". "Making faith visible is so much a part of the invitation the Holy Father has extended to us all."
You can read the full text here:

I hope that the Holy Father's visit has inspired us all take a renewed confidence in the Faith. He has made us see that you can be an out and out Catholic and lo and behold, rather than turn people away it attracts and engages them. Who would have thought you could be orthodox, preach the fullness of the Faith without compromise with the world, hold to traditional values and still be an attractive, caring and gentle human being? I think many in the Church have not been quite sure of that.

Letting the Faith be more visible is something I've been preaching for years - ask my long-suffering parishioners if its not one of my soap-box issues! Yes - be seen saying grace at meals, making the sign of the cross with a prayer as a funeral cortege goes past, make the sign of the cross in honour of the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as you pass a Catholic Church, be known for abstaining from meat on a Friday. These are outward and human signs of the Faith that should be the natural counterpart (and daily reminder to us) that we are people of prayer and people who should be known by others for our kindness and compassion, marked out as different from our non-believing neighbours.

Thursday 23 September 2010

Our Lady of Walsingham

Here is a photo of our little outdoor shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham at St Catherine's.

As we celebrate today's feast I am always saddened that so little is made of it. Our own unique national feast in honour of Our Blessed Mother where there is still a physical place of pilgrimage (and one that is shared by our Anglican confreres) would seem to warrant a little more Umph!

Some weeks ago I visited Walsingham for the first time since the new parish church in honour of Our Lady's Annunciation was built. While the approach is charming (although not much like a church) in that it is constructed in vernacular rustic style, the interior is most disappointing. There are architects who have an understanding of modern church architecture and who approach their projects through the prism of the Faith. The interior is yet another one of those churches that look seem to have more in common with the waiting rooms and other public service facilities that the same architects have designed. The church owes more to Star Trek than pointing the way on the heavenly pilgrimage. In fact, looking at some photos the great desire to "look modern" (and therefore almost immediately out of date) is what strikes me!
In fact, the corona above the altar appears to be modelled directly on this image of the Star ship Enterprise below...
Here is another view of the chapel... oops, sorry the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise - although it does have three comfy sedelia ready for Priest, Deacon and Sub-deacon.
Someone I know did originally propose paying for the tabernacle but when he saw the plans to mount it at the side of the sanctuary on top of a rocket launcher he changed his mind.

I'm always surprised that so much is made of the Reconciliation chapel just outside Walsingham being built in the local vernacular style - that of a barn. There is a local vernacular style for churches as well - the slipper chapel is one of many examples all over Norfolk. Why do we not build churches in the style of... o... say ... a church?
The Slipper Chapel

I'm reminded that some time ago I had the pleasure of having dinner in Rome with Duncan Stroik - although he is American - who designs modern churches recognisably in continuity with our past traditions, with a hermeneutic of continuity, one might say. As well as being charming, he is a practising Catholic with a large family. You can view some of his work here:

Beholde and se, ye goostly folkes all,
Which to this place have devocyon
When ye to Our Lady askynge socoure call
Desyrynge here hir helpe in your trybulacyon:
Of this hir chapell ye may se the fundacyon.

From the Walsingham Ballad

Sunday 19 September 2010

Papal Party

The parish gathered for lunch today to celebrate the Holy Father's visit. Unfortunately it poured with rain so the Treasure Hunt we had planned outside for the children wasn't possible - they had to make do with Father leading Simple Simon says... (or in this case, Fr Simon says...)

What struck me this morning is that many parishioners expressed how emotional they had found the experience of the visit as they watched it on television. Something of the mystique of the person of the Holy Father, the link to the universal Church, the link back to the apostles and feeling somehow more a part of that through a connection with him. Also, of course, the visible emotion of those meeting him and his warmth for them was also very moving.

Let us pray that all those who greeted him so warmly (from within the Church and without) will take his teaching to heart. He is gentle, he is wise, he is reasoned in his speeches BUT he also challenges us without compromise:

Reject the tyranny of relativism!
Do not let your Faith be sidelined or become merely private!
Strive to be a saint!

It seems that many did follow the events with the booklets provided by "Magnificat" that came to the parishes, which was also good.

Interestingly, the consensus appeared to be that the coverage on Sky was less biased in its commentary than the BBC.

I set James, one of our young parishioners, loose with the camera - here are a few of the shots he captured for posterity as we toasted the Holy Father's health.

Thursday 16 September 2010

“Long live the Shepherd of the Flock! Long live the Pope of Rome!”

Long live the Pope!
His praises sound
Again and yet again:
His rule is over space and time:
His throne the heart of men:
All hail! The Shepherd Pope of Rome,
The theme of loving song:
Let all the earth his glory sing
And heav’n the strain prolong.

Beleaguered by
By the foes of earth,
Beset by hosts of hell,
He guards the loyal flock of Christ,
A watchful sentinel:
And yet, amid the din and strife,
The clash of mace and sword,
He bears alone the Shepherd Staff,
The champion of the Lord.

Then raise the chant,
With heart and voice,
In Church & school & home:
“Long live the Shepherd of the Flock!
Long live the Pope of Rome!”
Almighty Father bless his work,
Protect him in his ways,
Receive his prayer, fulfill his hopes,
And grant him length of days!
(Hugh Henry)

Wednesday 15 September 2010

God bless our Pope - the Great, the Good!

As a parish we have been praying for the Holy Father and for good things to come from his visit to us. The church, hall and grounds are suitably decorated to show our pride in his visit and in the Faith. We will be celebrating with a Papal Party for Sunday.

All together now:

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Mass Today - Feast of the Holy Cross

While on holiday I have the great pleasure of being able to celebrate Holy Mass in the Traditional Form through the the kind welcome of the local Curé (who has placed the Mass on the newsletter for this week and so I have a little congregation each morning). As today is the third anniversary of Summorum Pontificum I thought I'd post a picture to let my parishioners know that I'm not neglecting their spiritual welfare - even while I'm away!

Friday 10 September 2010

TO ARMS! TO ARMS! Pro-abortion youth document proposed to UN General Assembly

Fr Z's blog What Does the Prayer Really Say has a plea to sign a petition to be submitted to the United Nations against a viciously anti-life proposal being put to them. You can read about it here and follow his link to sign the petition:

Thursday 9 September 2010


I will be away for a few days this coming week when I will be offering Mass at this little church, so there may or may not be any posts for a few days, depending on the internet access.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary - an ancient feast in the Church and one of only two saints commemorated with a birthday celebration. Usually, the date of a saint's death in this world is kept as it is also their birthday into Heaven (St John the Baptist is the other one). It is a Feast we share with the Eastern Orthodox - in fact it probably originated as a celebration in Syria.

The above photo was the place for devotion here in St Catherine's.

While I like icons, there is an obsession with them among some who style themselves as "modern". This is a little contradictory as they are usually copies of very ancient images. Of course they do not belong to our own tradition so it is yet another case of Gilbert & Sullivan's list of those who never would be missed, including:
"the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own."

Anyway, the icon had to compete with the tabernacle - a tiny door set into a rather grubby wall as well as with the font directly in front of it and the votive stand. All set off with the compulsory arrangement of sad looking house plants.

You can also see the coloured-in names of the first communicants blue-tacked to the window sill and the plastic bucket conveniently placed for used votive lights (re-cycling being the ninth sacrament after the usual seven and bingo).

You can also just see the first of the Stations of the Cross which ran the wrong way round the church giving the impression that Our Lord carried his cross backwards on the Via Dolorosa!

BELOW is an image of the place now set aside for honouring our Blessed Mother - Sedes Sapientiae - a statue in the tradition of continuity with both our Western (Roman) Catholic culture and our English culture (when we had one).

The area is de-cluttered (in modern parlance) and the candelabra are lit on her feast days. My hope is that (like the Blessed Mother herself) it has a noble simplicity (cf Second Vatican Council's document "Sacrosanctum Concilium".)

Oh, and although blue is supposed to be the colour for Our Lady, the electric blue sanctuary carpet just HAD to go, replaced by oak boards that I trust will wear more gracefully than the carpet did.

Monday 6 September 2010

It is a puzzlement!

Religion overthrowing Heresy -
a painting by Pierre Le Grosse the Younger.

I watched Archbishop Vincent Nichols being interviewed by Andrew Marr on TV on Sunday morning. As the King of Siam might say - "It is a puzzlement!"

I suppose it is considered a success when there are no headlines the next day, which is a recipe for making sure you say nothing at all!

Anyway, my puzzlement centred around his comment on the word heretical -

"That's a word from the history books rather than from a modern lexicon," says the Archbishop.

I don't know how much time has to pass before we consign a word to the history books but the Cathechism of the Catholic Church from 1994 lists the word "heresy" in its index and the reference describes what it is with a direct quote from Canon Law (1985).

I don't know which lexicon His Grace uses but the Church still seems to be using the word and the concept. It is a puzzlement!

Of course the reluctance to use the word (even when it is the accurate one) is not new. In Robert Bolt’s play A Man For All Seasons we find the following exchange between Thomas More and his future son-in-law and biographer William Roper. Roper has asked to marry More’s daughter:

Thomas More: Roper, the answer is no....and will be no as long as you're a heretic.

Roper: Now, that's a word I don't like, Sir Thomas!

Thomas More: It's not a likeable word or thing.

St Norbert quashing the heretic Tanchelm.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Shocked reaction to Catholic view

Thanks to "Protect the Pope" blog for supporting Edmund Adamus, the Director of Pastoral Affairs for Westminster Diocese after he was attacked in several newspapers yesterday. (

I made reference to Edmund's interview on Zenit in on 25th August (

There in nothing in it that I can find that isn't in line with the criticisms that Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict (and many others) have made of our western society in general and our own country in particular yet Archbishop Nichols' Press Officer distances himself from the interview - "they did not reflect the Archbishop's opinions". When are we going to stand up for the Faith and not be ashamed to criticise the world IN ORDER TO TELL THEM WE HAVE SOMETHING BETTER TO OFFER - a way of living offered by Christ through His Church and the values of the Gospel?

Any opinion can and must be expressed in our "free society" except the opinions that speak of the values of the Catholic Church - we are not free to express those, it seems. At least not according to all the usual suspects who jump on any expression of the Faith that isn't a watered -down one, devoid of any strength and in tune with the culture of the world - if that can be called a culture (to quote the Holy Father).

If they don't like it, Edmund, it must be the real thing!