Saturday 30 January 2021

St Blaise and the Blessing of throats


Despite the continuing difficult situation which means that quite a number of parishes are temporarily closed for public worship, St Catherine's is open as usual for Mass and Devotions this Sunday and throughout the week. Covid 19 security precautions are in place for everyone's safety. Masks are available from the stewards, should you have forgotten yours.

The Blessing of St Blaise will take place on Wednesday (with Covid 19 precautions in place)

This Sunday is World Leprosy Day. Sadly, much of the work of raising funds through the Order of St Lazarus has been suspended during the pandemic but we hope that it might be possible to resume later this year. The 10am Mass on Sunday is offered for the intentions of the Grand Master of the Order and it's work.




Monday 9.30am. Feria

Tuesday 12 noon (EF). Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday 9.30am. St Blaise - with the Blessing of Throats

Thursday 7pm Novena of the Miraculous Medal & Benediction. Feria

Friday 9.30am. St Agatha

Saturday 12 noon (EF). St Titus

Confessions between 11.30am & 11.50am

Although separated by customs, language, politics and more, Catholics around the world celebrate many of the same God-inspired devotional acts, practices and rituals handed down through the centuries by Holy Mother Church. Such a devotion is the memorial celebrating St. Blaise and the blessing of throats every Feb. 3 in the Western Church.

There are few facts known about St. Blaise except that he was a fourth-century bishop in the city of Sebaste, Western Armenia, and died as a martyr. A physician, he was regarded as a righteous man and, at an early age, elected bishop by the citizens of Sebaste. Beyond those few facts, much of what we know of Blaise comes from tradition. He became, during the Middle Ages, one of the most popular of all the saints, especially in Armenia. He is the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Croatia. His relationship with Dubrovnik is unique in that he never visited the city. In 971, he appeared in a vision to a local man warning that a Venetian force was about to invade the town. The townspeople responded with defensive measures and the Venetians, having lost the element of surprise, departed.

During the fourth century, the Roman Empire was separated between Emperor Constantine in the West and Emperor Licinius in the East. While frequently at odds, they came together in February 313 at Milan, Italy, to sign the Edict of Milan, intended to end all religious persecution. While this document always has been heralded as essential to Christian history, it did not end a long-simmering tension between the two emperors. Indeed, historians have recorded that Licinius was filled with greed and only signed the agreement for political purposes. There would be repeated conflicts between the East and West, mostly caused by Licinius, who was quick to continue the persecutions of Christ’s followers despite signing the Edict of Milan. In the year 316, St. Blaise would become a victim of Licinius’s hostility against Christians.

At first, Blaise avoided being arrested by escaping into the hill country near Sebaste, where he hid in a cave. His only visitors were said to be wild animals that seemed drawn to Blaise. Eventually, Bishop Blaise was found out, arrested and brought before Agricolaus, the local Roman governor. He was scourged for his Christian beliefs and thrown into prison. Tradition holds that either en-route to prison or after he was incarcerated, two miracles attributed to Blaise occurred. A woman came to the bishop upset that a wolf had carried off her pig. Blaise offered up prayers, and the wolf returned the pig. Another incident, one for which he is most known, occurred when a mother pleaded for Blaise to cure her son who was dying from a fish bone lodged in his throat. Blaise prayed over the boy, and the child was healed.

Agricolaus soon confronted Blaise, demanding he deny Jesus or be tortured. Blaise refused, and one of the instruments of torture was an iron comb used to painfully scrape his skin. No amount of torture brought a denial of Christ, so in 316 Blaise was beheaded. 

The miraculous cure of the boy suffering from the fish bone — and because Blaise had been a physician — created the belief that St. Blaise could cure most illnesses but especially those of the throat. As early as the ninth century in the Western Church, he was invoked for throat ailments. During the Middle Ages, his cult as a miraculous saint was widespread throughout Europe. He was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, whom Christians believed could cure a variety of personal medical problems. Today there are Catholic Churches all over the world bearing the name of St. Blaise.

The candles used in the blessing of throats may be those blessed the day before on Candlemas, Feb. 2.  Those desiring a blessing of their throats proceed to the altar rails where the priest with the two blessed candles, tied with a red ribbon, holds them in the form of an X. He touches the candles to each side of the person’s neck and says: “Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The red ribbon represents the blood of martyrs, and the candles held in the shape of an “X” represent the martyrdom of another saint, St. Andrew, who according to tradition was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Not only are we freed from disease but from everything keeping us from God.

Devotions like making the Stations of the Cross during Lent, receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, kissing the cross on Good Friday and getting our throats blessed on St. Blaise day are essential parts of our Catholic lineage. Each ritual excites us, elevates our hearts; we come away refreshed and with a sense that something beyond the ordinary has just happened, not just to us but to thousands of the faithful that same day in every corner of the world. We can’t help but know that it’s good to be Catholic!

Saturday 23 January 2021

Third Sunday of the Year

Just to re-iterate that, although quite a number of parishes are temporarily closed for public worship, St Catherine's is open as usual for Mass and Devotions this Sunday and throughout the week. Covid 19 security precautions are in place for everyone's safety. Masks are available from the stewards, should you have forgotten yours.




Monday 9.30am. Conversion of St Paul.

Tuesday 12 noon (EF). St Polycarp.

Wednesday 9.30am. Feria.

Thursday 7pm Novena & Benediction. St Thomas Aquinas.

Friday 1pm. Requiem Mass for Frank Wilcock

Saturday 12 noon (EF). St Martina.

Confessions between 11.30am & 11.50am

Tuesday 19 January 2021

Spiritus Domini


I've just read an excellent article posted on the New Liturgical Movement. It helps to put into a wider context the universal call of the laity, the scope of which was actually re-iterated and and then much ignored by the Second Vatican Council.

It has long been a mystery to me that before the Council lay-led groups whose focus of activity was out in the world seemed to thrive in abundance: Young Christian Workers, Legion of Mary, SVP, Knights of St Columba, etc.

While since the Vatican Council these groups have been seen as old-fashioned and very ecclesiastically centered ministries have taken over, where the laity seem to take on roles on the sanctuary rather than ministries that focus out into the world.

I'm not suggesting there is no charitable work going on in parishes but the ecclesial sanctioned groups ("ministries") seem to be overwhelmingly about getting lay people up on the sanctuary instead of motivating action on the secular stage, the one place where they have much more influence and contact than the priest.

Well worth a read...

New Liturgical Movement: Lay Ministries Obscure Both the Laity’s Calling and the Clergy’s

Saturday 16 January 2021

Masses Second Sunday of the Year

First Reading this Sunday, Samuel 3:19

Just to confirm that St Catherine's remains open for Mass. Many people are still shielding, either for their own protection or those they are caring for. We unite ourselves in prayer with all the parish at each Mass. Even if you cannot attend the Holy Sacrifice in person, to know that the Sacramental Presence of the Lord  descends in God's House here in our locality is a blessing in itself. The beating heart of our community, whether we are present or not. I'm sure we all long for the time when everyone can once again be physically close to that heart - together with our brothers and sisters at Mass. It's a reflection that in more ordinary times, every Catholic missing from Sunday Mass is a loss to their brothers and sisters gathered in the Presence of the Lord.

This week sees the feast of St Sebastian (on Wednesday), traditionally a great intercessor for times of plague.

A Prayer to Combat the Coronavirus Pandemic: 

Most Merciful and Triune God, We come to You in our weakness. We come to You in our fear. We come to You with trust. For You alone are our hope. We place before You the disease present in our world. We turn to You in our time of need. Bring wisdom to doctors. Give understanding to scientists. Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity. Bring healing to those who are ill. 

Protect those who are most at risk. Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one. Welcome those who have died into Your Eternal Home. Stabilize our communities. Unite us in our compassion. Remove all fear from our hearts. Fill us with confidence in Your care. 

Hear us, O God, our Saviour, and by the prayers of glorious Mary, Mother of God, and ever-Virgin, of St. Sebastian, your martyr, and of all the saints, deliver your people from the present affliction, and in your bounty let them feel certain of your mercy. Amen.

Lord, mercifully heed our supplications, and heal our infirmities of body and soul; so that knowing your forgiveness we may ever rejoice in your blessing.




Monday 9.30am

Tuesday 12 noon (EF)

Wednesday 9.30am

Thursday 7pm Novena & Benediction

Friday 9.30am

Saturday 12 noon (EF) 

Confessions between 11.30am & 11.50am

Catholic School -- how to make one!

Starting up a new school in the year that Covid 19 struck was perhaps not the most fortuitous of choices but the fact that we are now about to start our second term points only to God's Providence. I thought that following on from my last post on the subject I'd provide some more background  of our exploits at St Peter's College in St Pierre de Maillé.

The College is up and running and taking students. See the website to request a prospectus.

The three photographs below show the grounds on the day we arrived. The grounds were a little overgrown - only ten years worth of weeds to get rid of. 

We rescued some of the roses along the border.
I think the pink one is the variety Queen Elizabeth II.
Quite appropriate for an English speaking school!

As well as the myriad of professional trades on site, we tackled some of the work ourselves, pitching in where we could. This one must have been fairly early on, as I'm still looking cheerful. However there was plenty of major work to be done. The heating system, the electrics and the decorating. I say decorating, but it was rather more than some light repainting. The rooms for the boys needed completely reworking to include en-suite facilities for each room (based on two sharing). So while tackling the gardening and cleaning and repainting the shutters could be done, putting in new plumbing was certainly beyond my DIY skills.

Neither priest nor headmaster was spared from the physical work, 
although it was often a welcome break from all the office work and dealing with the bureaucracy.
We were fortunate to have help from a number of friends as well who pitched in on various occasions.

Some of the walls in the classrooms
before and after!

Before and after again.

What is now one of the games rooms
before and after.

You may notice in the last photo the square paneled lights.
All the classrooms and boys rooms had to be assessed for lighting and along with a myriad of other very particular specifications, these were inspected in great detail by various departments of the French State.
On their final inspection fifteen inspectors for lighting, heating, fire, police, disables access, the mayors department, schools department, etc came for a whole day of inspections, sometimes measuring out the millimeters!
Fortunately, we had expert advice and everything passed. 

One of the things we had to change was making an extension to the railings down the steps to the present refectory. Fortunately, we managed to secure the service of the same talented blacksmith who has done much work at nearby Fontgombault Abbey, which is just 15 kilometers away.
The school is ideally placed for groups wanting a base in this beautiful and historic part of France in the summer months. All rooms are en-suite.

The local people in the village thought we had worked a minor miracle in getting French firms to carry on working on site during the month of August. Four different firms on this particular day. Apparently, it is a usually unbreakable rule that August is for holidays (Covid times notwithstanding), so we were fortunate indeed.

In true Benedictine style our work was sustained by prayer, 
although at first the setting for Mass weeks was less than ideal.
Fortunately our beautiful chapel is now in full use every day.

Along with Fr Lawler, the resident Chaplain, we were at Mass with the Archbishop, His Grace Pascal Wintzer, who was in the neighboring village with the Daughters of the Cross, celebrating their 200th anniversary there. (Having left the convent of St Pierre de Maillé, where the school now continues their tradition of education.) At our meetings the Archbishop has been most welcoming.

Now looking a little tidier
and ready to accept our pupils.

An aerial view shows the  school's proximity to the beautiful views afforded by the River Gartempe.

We've also been fortunate, through investors and donations, to be able to purchase extra properties adjoining the main site. This one has been named "Sacré-Cœur", where we are placing a statue left by the nuns, which will function as staff accommodation as well as extra public space for the boys and - separately - a music practice space.

St Peter takes pride of place in the Refectory.

The tennis court, which is next to the playing fields.

And finally... 
some random shots about the place, including the Chaplain's cats.

Saturday 9 January 2021

Masses this Sunday


At the moment churches in England may remain open for communal worship during this latest lockdown. You may have heard of some churches closing for public worship; this is because they may not be able to provide all the provisions to open in a Covid secure way or because priests are not available because they are shielding or self-isolating, for example. 

Here at St Catherine's our Sunday 11.30am Mass remains suspended because there were so few people attending and there remains plenty of space at our other two Masses to accommodate those who feel are able to assist at Mass at the moment. The situation seems to be changing very quickly, so it is possible this may change. May our prayers for a swift end to these most difficult times be answered very soon. 

As ever, God is good and through the intelligence God has endowed us with, we now have the vaccines rolling out. But also as ever, the Lord expects us to do our part in a spirit of faith, duty and hope.

Can I emphasis the importance of keeping to the restrictions when attending Mass, before, during and after. Doing so carefully and methodically will help to keep us all safe.

Here in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, Archbishop Malcolm is presently leaving such decisions to local parishes. That being so, public Mass will continue this week at St Catherine's. 

His Grace, Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster has stated:

"Our churches are open for prayer and communal worship during the current lockdown. They are safe and offer essential support to the poorest. They provide a safe and peaceful place in a time of anxiety & fear.

Our procedures are of a high standard & give security to those who attend. Local decisions will be made wisely about how to respond to a fast changing situation in maintaining these standards. People will make their own mature decisions about whether to come to our churches."

Masses this Sunday 
the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord at




Monday 9.30am
Tuesday 12 noon (EF)
Wednesday 9.30am
Thursday 7pm Novena & Benediction
Friday 9.30am
Saturday 12 noon (EF) 
Confessions between 11.30am & 11.50am

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Masses continue during new lockdown


For anyone wondering, here in England, Masses will continue during this new lockdown. The government's rules dealing with Places of Worship (ie Churches) says:

Communal worship and life events - You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble "

Mass for the Epiphany tomorrow is at 9.30am.