Monday 23 September 2013

Order of St Lazarus in Valencia

This fantastic High Altar is in the King's Chapel of the Military Headquarters Church of Santa Domingo in Valencia. Members of the Order of St Lazarus from all over the world gathered here on Friday evening for the Vigil Service to induct new members into the Grand Priory of Spain during the ti-annual Chapter Meeting of the Order.  The Chapter General reports on the state of the Order - perhaps the most salient fact to record is the more than 2.5 million euros were raised for our charitable projects over the last year.

With one of the Spanish Chaplains

Within the Order is a group who have taken extra vows to pray and serve who meet regularly in the French Grand Priory, pictured here in their distinctive habits, along with Fr Mark Lawler, Chancellor of the Priory of Great Britain.

Lunch after the Chapter General was held in the Military Cultural Centre
With The Grand Prior of Great Britain, The Baron of Fetternear, Martin Thacker and Mrs Jean Spencer.
Also eating Paella - HE Matthew Jackson, Grand Secretary, H.E. Lieutenant-Colonel Philippe and Madame Jourdain and HE Giovanni Ferrara, Grand Prior of Italy.

 This is the Santa Domingo chapel in the Military Headquarters where the Investiture Mass took place on Saturday. A splendid occasion with Mass in Latin - particularly fitting and practical with a congregation from many different nations.

With the Grand Master, Jan Count Dobrzensky z Dobrzenicz.

With  H.E. Chevalier Thierry Pauquet de Villejust, Bailiff of the Grand Bailiwick of the United States.

A Gala Dinner was held after the Investiture in the Throne Room of the Military Headquaters.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Beautiful Latin Mass

I'm enjoying the beautiful sunshine of Valencia for a few days, as you can see from the skies above the Cathedral.  However, by chance I wandered into the Church of the college of Corpus Christi this morning to find that Mass had just started and was beautifully sung to Latin chant (in fact, the whole Mass apart from the readings was in Latin).  Clouds of incense and a very orderly and reverent celebration - right down to the altar servers. What a lovely surprise to stumble on such a prayerful celebration of Mass.

I surreptitiously snapped a couple of photos from the back of the church, so the quality isn't all that it might be but it's certainly a fantastic church.

Photos of Iglesia del Patriarca o del Corpus Christi, Valencia
This photo of Iglesia del Patriarca o del Corpus Christi is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Saturday 14 September 2013


Origami is the art of making paper into different shapes but the papers are usually adept at making your views into something else.  Fr Ray Blake has recently suffered such a disgraceful origami moment where his actual words have been folded into a shape that is the opposite of what they were meant to convey.  His post on the challenge of the poor was thoughtful and faced up to the realities of dealing with the poor, instead of the usual mouthing of PC sound-bites. A reality gained from the fact that he deals with them all the time in his priestly ministry.  I believe part of the problem is that those who are considered "traditional" are, according to the new wisdom, not supposed to be engaging with any social justice issues. They are just "sacristy priests" who like dressing up with no real Gospel values. I've experienced that attitude myself - most frustratingly when I was trying to get help for some parishioners were being deported some years ago.  There are those who have lots of meetings about social justice but getting on with it is rather more important.

However, Fr Blake is in good company.  Another origami trick is the one the media are playing by continually ratcheting up the contrasts between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  I've ranted about this before as it really annoys me!  The general gist is that Pope Benedict was awful and Pope Francis is marvellous - illustrated by the undoubted and proven fact that Pope Benedict never kissed a baby in the crowd and Pope Francis is always kissing babies in the crowd. The other great illustration is the choice of living accommodation.
Pope Benedict NEVER kissed a baby.

The "Telegraph" was at it again yesterday in a piece about Pope Francis indulging in his own bit of origami in an Italian paper. (Laudable, according to the "Telegraph" because President Putin did it in the New York Times.  Here is an example of the usual tripe trotted out by the secular (and religious) press:
Whatever one’s faith – or lack thereof – there is no escaping the fact that Francis is emerging as a world statesman. Part of his impact in the six months since he was elected is down to the huge change in style that he has brought to his position. He has begun efforts to reform the Church’s bureaucracy, refused to live in the opulent Apostolic Palace, and even taken to “cold calling” the faithful to offer moral support – including a victim of rape and a man whose brother had been murdered. While his predecessor, Benedict XVI, seemed swamped by the challenges he faced within the Church, Pope Francis has proved to be outward-looking.
Courtesy of Catholic TV the film above depicts a "day in the life" of Pope Benedict.  I've posted it because at 23.18 minutes in, you get a glimpse of the real part of the "opulent palace" that Pope Benedict actually lived in.  Do have a look for the furniture dripping in gold leaf or the high-tech state of the art gadgetry.  In fact, some rather worn looking green velvet sofas and a rather ordinary looking telly.  When the reality doesn't suit, the papers can easily fold the truth into something else.  Pope Benedict didn't suit the secular world  - nor many so-called liberal types within the Church - so the way to bash him is to talk up Pope Francis but if we fall into following this false trail, we encourage the sowing of division within the Church.  Apart from that, all distortion of the truth has only one origin and it's one that Pope Francis has spoken about quite a lot - Satan!

Sadly, as Fr Blake has also commented on, many ordinary Catholics base their views not on what the Church or the priest says but on the media origami.  I've a feeling this applies to the vast majority of spiritual and moral issues.

Friday 6 September 2013

Fr Ray Blake asks for a miracle

Fr Ray Blake visiting one of his usual haunts whilst vilifying the poor.

Fr Ray Blake's up front post on The Trouble with the Poor has been taken up by a local journalist in Brighton and now by the national press. If you read the post, you can see it is honest and challenging - the everyday fare of Fr Blake's blog.  

The Trouble With The Press is that they rarely get their facts right and there is ALWAYS a slant, a spin or a sensationalism.  A few months ago I had the BBC's Religious Affairs correspondent on the phone wanting to come and film in the parish.  I gave him a very definite, "No thanks" because I simply didn't trust that whatever I said would not be chopped up and spliced with commentary that would distort anything I wanted to say.  Lo and behold, the item that appeared on TV did just that to some other parishes.

Fr Blake has responded with a post on his blog Bill Gardner: An unscrupulous journalist.  Father, Father, you are (a little) older than me and certainly wiser. When did you ever meet this rare breed "The Scrupulous Journalist"?  Especially when it comes to reporting the Faith and especially when reporting on what is billed as "Traditional" does such a creature exist?  Has it ever?   Is it now extinct?  Would it require the suspension of the laws of nature and therefore qualify as a miracle. Surely, asking for such implies putting the Lord your God to the test. A Scrupulous journalist reporting the Catholic Church?  Come, come Father, you ask for too much. You'll be wanting balanced reporting on the Church by the BBC next! 

Thursday 5 September 2013

"Pope Benedict cured me."

Vatican Insider reports the healing of this young man from a tumour in the chest.  There is a video here on U.S. World News.

19 year old American, Peter Srisch, claims he was cured from a tumour after meeting Ratzinger and receiving his blessing a year ago.
 A young American – who is now 19 and in his second year at university – claims he was cured of a chest tumour thanks to Ratzinger, who met the boy at an audience in Rome last year. Ratzinger listened to his story and placed his hand on the boy’s chest where the tumour was. Peter Srisch and his family appeared on Denver-based KUSA TV and confirmed their belief publicly.

Peter was 17 when doctors diagnosed him with a chest tumour after doing an X-Ray. "He had a chest x-ray and it revealed a softball sized tumour in his chest. It was determined that it was stage four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma,"  Laura Srsich, Peter's mother, said.

Peter was being treated at Colorado Children’s Hospital and while doctors tried to do what they could to help him fight the disease, he was also being looked after by the U.S. non-profit  Make-a-Wish Foundation. The foundation works in about 50 countries across the world, offering assistance, including psychological support to children and young people with life-threatening medical conditions and granting each of them one wish. The Make-a-Wish Foundation was established in 1993 and has a strong presence in English-speaking countries but not only.

Laura Srsich said that when she spoke to Peter about it, the first wish that came to his mind was: 'I'd love to go meet the Pope in Rome.” His wish was relatively easy to grant  and so a year ago, in May, Peter and his mother attended one of Benedict XVI’s General Audiences in St. peter’s Square. They met and spoke to him and the encounter had a powerful effect on Peter. "When I got up to actually talk to him I was struck by how human he was. It was a humbling experience for me to see how humble he was,” Peter said. The Pope listened to Peter talk about his trip and his illness. The boy then gave Ratzinger a lime green wristband with the words "Praying for Peter” printed on it. Ratzinger reciprocated by blessing him.

But according to Peter and his family this wasn’t just any blessing; or at least it was very effective. "Then he blessed me. He put his hand right on my chest where the tumour had been. He didn't know where the tumour was, but he put his hand right there," Peter explained.
A year has gone by and Peter has made a full recovery from cancer, he is in his second year at university and one day hopes to be ordained a priest. Benedict XVI’s resignation as Bishop of Rome and Pope only strengthened the impression Peter was left with after their meeting. In Peter’s eyes, Benedict’s gesture showed he put the Catholic Church above himself and his personal needs. A very humble gesture. “I'm going to remember him as one of the most humble people in the world, especially by this last act he is doing," Peter said.

A similar healing case was reported during John Paul II’s pontificate. An elderly Jewish American man was apparently cured of a brain tumour after attending a “private” morning mass with John Paul II and taking part in the Eucharist.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Bishop admits lying!!!

According to the "Telegraph" there has been an increase in people going to Confession over recent months.  Attributed to the influence of Pope Francis in the media and to the continuing effect of Pope Benedict's visit to the UK.  Also according to the "Telegraph", in commenting on this phenomena Bishop Kieran Conroy says that when he was a child he "made up" sins to confess. When asked if that itself is not a sin he says, "Probably."  
“For many people now it is a much more significant, meaningful, personal experience rather than just a weekly ‘I’ve got to go to confession and think of some sins’.But he went on to confess: “We used to make them up as kids, we had to say something … it might be ‘I hit someone’ or ‘I kicked the dog’ – if had a dog.“I would make up anything just to occupy a couple of minutes and get sent away forgiven.”Asked if making up sins in confession was itself a sin, he said: “Yes probably, you probably committed more sins in there than you committed in the week leading up to it – you were lying your head off.”

I would have thought that every priest knows that it is sinful to lie in Confession.  I was sent to Confession as a child. 

Did I like it?  
No, I did not, but I can't recall ever making anything up.  

Is it good that more people are going to Confession? 
Of course it is.  

Is it good that some people find it helpful to discuss their sins in context and in a deeper way?  
Of course it is.

Is it necessary to be forever bad-mouthing every part of the Church's practice and belief from before the Second Vatican Council?  No it is not.  

Have those people who confess - and still confess - in the "old-fashioned" way been wasting their time? Surely not.  For a bishop to publicly characterise the Sacrament of Confession as it was celebrated for so many years and as many people still use it seems to be... well, very unseemly. Although I can't believe that people did not experience Confession in a deeply prayerful and spiritual way through the older format as well as the newer.  The re-writing of our understanding of the past in is one of the most distasteful things about so many "liberal" attitudes.  More than distasteful, it always makes me suspicious, reminding me of George Orwell's "Animal Farm".  Repeat the mantra, "Trad-it-ion bad.  Mod-ern good."  "Trad-it-ion bad.  Mod-ern good."  "Trad-it-ion bad.  Mod-ern good."

Eccles has some more reflections on the bishop.