Saturday, 31 March 2007

So Where Is Everybody...?

Ok, so where has everyone disappeared to?? You can't all have given up blogging and commenting for Holy Week...

Chrism Mass Cards

I was really delighted that the "Thank You" prayer cards I had ordered (to be handed out to priests at the Chrism Mass at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, this Thursday) actually arrived this morning, three days early - four, if you include Sunday!!

In previous years I have printed them out myself (colour printers are so good these days) and then spent a few hours trimming them with a guillotine, and trying not to bleed too heavily over them when inflicting paper cuts on myself...

This year I was determined to try and get them printed professionally. I plumped for the Immaculate Heart of Mary design this year. I'll do something different next time.

I was a little unsure of what to put on the back of the card: that was one of the reasons I'd left things so late, I just couldn't decide on a suitable quote. And then the Holy Father came to my aid: I lifted the following straight out of Sacramentum Caritatis...

Hair-Raising Practices...

Brendan over at Guard Me With Your Glory doesn't post very often, but when he does, it is well worth the wait. He spotted the following Letter to the Editor in the "Irish Independent"

AFTER READING and listening about Ryanair and their charges I decided to open a barbershop and call it Ryan-Hair.

I will determine the price of haircut by the following criteria.

First of all, the charge for the haircut will be only €0.01 with a few other charges.

If you want to sit while getting your haircut it will cost you €4.00 to get in the chair and €4.00 to get out.

If you decide to stand during the haircut there is a priority charge of €10.00.

If you want your hair washed it will cost you €4.00 for cold water or €6.00 for hot water and if you want it dried add €4.00 more.

If you want to sit inside the barbershop while waiting for an open chair it will cost you €2.00 sit-down charge.

If you bring shopping bags with you, it will cost €1.50 per bag when you enter and €1.50 when you leave.

Other charges include VAT at 13.5pc, a service charge of 10pc, €2.50 for credit card charge and last charge will be for €3.00 for hidden charges such as the use of the loo, one cup of coffee or tea, depreciation on clippers and combs, shampoo and conditioner.

Terms and Conditions: Hair cannot be more than 4 inches long; Check-in times for haircut at least 20 minutes before appointment; Seating is not assigned, first come first serve.

Kevin Devitte, Westport, Co. Mayo.

Driving Skills

Along with the old joke about sitting in your car parked at the side of the road, pointing a hairdryer at passing traffic just to see who slows down, this has got to be one of the best driving "gags" ever!

Mantilla-twitch to the Scorpion Stalking Duck (Dadwithnoisykids has been busy!!)

Ever Been Stuck In A Lift?

...use the escalator. But watch out...

Twitch of the mantilla to the Scorpion Stalking Duck.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Uncle Screwtape's Angelic Counterpart

Following Fr. Dwight Longenecker's series on the Gargoyle Code, the Dúnadan has decided to redress the balance in favour of the angels. It promises to be an interesting set of posts (he's started right at the beginning: the angel's "patient" has just been conceived!)

More On The Retreat

Fr. Tim has put up a post about the retreat at Aylesford: naturally it's better-written than mine... and the photos were taken with a super-snazzy bells-and-whistles digital camera (for that, read "monster-sized!")

...however, my photos are arranged more interestingly...

The Kind Of Blogger I Am...

...or possibly not. But the quiz filled a few minutes!

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Mantilla-twitch to Scorpion Stalking Duck.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Frivolous Pursuits At Aylesford

Having been accused, by a certain young priest I know, of only blogging about boring things like nails, hair and shopping (which is a bit rich, coming from a man who, while at seminary, was a devotee of Bluewater in general and "Next" in particular!) I thought I would mention a few of my purchases during my retreat. Yes, Mammon reared its ugly head...

...but, in my defence, I was instructed by my spiritual director to take certain steps designed to elicit a prayerful frame of mind...

Having emerged from the shop, I spotted Fr. Tim, and asked him to bless my purchases. On asking whether I should bother unwrapping the various items (I was quite happy to do so, as I was keen to show them off) I was told that they definitely should be unwrapped... and photos would have to be taken...

From left to right, I have a small statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and larger statues of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mary and the child Jesus (no specific title allocated, but I shall do some research another time) and St. Martha. St. Martha appears to be accompanied by a crocodile. I said I thought it was "that Old Serpent" (due to a very long tail) only to have Fr. Tim point out that the serpent had four feet. If it's meant to be a dragon, it's the only dragon I've ever seen without wings... and it has a tongue to rival Lassie's!

...and why is St. Martha shown with a dragon/crocodile anyway?

I then went and bought some reading matter. First, "The Story of a Soul" by St. Thérèse of Lisieux (I'd read it before, and hated it for being slushy and overly sentimental... It occured to me that it might be the translation - she's incredibly popular with lots of people, and they can't all be wrong, so it must be me!) published by TAN. Next "The Prayers of Teresa of Avila" edited by Thomas Alvarez. Thirdly, "The Story of a Family: The Home of St. Thérèse of Lisieux" by Fr. Stéphane-Joseph Piat (another TAN publication), and finally, "Edith Stein: Life in a Jewish Family" which is her autobiography. I've only just noticed that it doesn't go further than 1916 - she never finished it because of her arrest by the Gestapo.

The more observant among you may have noticed the bottle in the photo: yes, it really was an orange chocolate liqueur (there was brandy in it too!)... and no, I didn't leave it until Easter... and yes, it tasted divine... like Baileys, only more so!

Some time was spent in contemplation, however... here you can see two of the retreatants (or should that be retreatees?) contemplating the view... or perhaps, given that they were eyeing up the geese, considering what might be on the menu for lunch...

Aylesford Chapels & Shrines

We spent most of our time in the Cloister Chapel. This is the smallest chapel, and it gave our retreat an air of intimacy, which helped to set the mood. Maybe it's the Carmelite fashion, but I feel that the chapel could benefit from a little decoration... although this is my favourite chapel, especially if I come down to Aylesford on my own, I think it is a little spartan... even (dare I say it?) a little Protestant!

At the back of the chapel, facing the altar, there is this altar with a statue of the Infant of Prague... see what I mean about "spartan"?

...and in a small niche on the right, there is this statue of St. Jude.

Above is a photo of the main shrine area... they put out the benches for major events, and, I think, for most of the summer months. The statue under the arch is Our Lady of the Assumption.

After the Cloister Chapel, I think my next favourite is the Relic Chapel, which is to the immediate left of the main shrine. They have some bit of St. Simon Stock (I think) in the reliquary which is designed to represent all the little hermit caves on Mount Carmel...

Also in this chapel, they have a shrine to all the Carmelite Saints and Beati (the blesseds are depicted with only a partial halo, while the full-on saints get proper ones!!)

The English Martyrs have a side-chapel... the names are on plaques either side of the altar, and the Blessed Sacrament is reserved here.

There are other chapels, such as the one to St. Anne (where you can light candles, but not sit down) and one to St. Joseph. The Choir Chapel is where the Friars Community pray the Office and have daily Mass... it is also a little on the spartan side, so I didn't bother taking a photo of the inside...

Aylesford Accommodation

I was at Aylesford Priory for two nights. I've only ever stayed in the Old Block before (you can see the back of it here), and was a little unsure as to what the "New" in "New Block" actually meant, as I couldn't recall anything remotely resembling modern architecture. I needn't have worried... it all looks pretty ancient, and is rather comfortable, once you get used to negotiating steep staircases (inside), uneven steps (outside), cobblestones, and low wooden beams.

My room was very comfortable - though I am aware that many people would have found it a little too warm. I, however, was in my element.

The oldest part of the Priory is the Pilgrims' Hall, which is where we had all our meals. I took this photo while sunning myself on a bench at the front of the "Old Block"... it forms an incomplete sort of quadrangle...

For many years, my experience of Aylesford was school Days of Recollection: they were far from being recollected, the weather was often damp, windy and cold, and the children reluctant. The thought of actually staying overnight sent shivers down my spine, and made my joints positively creak in protest. Having been for a retreat on a few occasions, I find that the place is growing on me.

I'm obviously not the only one. I spotted this beautiful visitor on the first evening. It turns out that this is not the Priory cat, but a regular visitor from the village. It gets fed all sorts of tidbits, especially when it succeeds in sneaking into the Pilgrims' Hall at mealtimes (mea culpa, it had some of my roast at lunchtime) and it hunts rabbits. Here you can see the cat pretending to ignore Fr. Tim as we waited to go in to dinner...

Back To "Civilisation"

Well, I'm home again after a really good retreat.

I wasn't as strict as I could have been... I allowed myself to check my email as I was waiting for some important (time sensitive) information. However, apart from this, briefly showing off my blog to the others in the evening, and looking up two sets of funny stories to entertain the troops, I was pretty much incommunicado... (something I made sure of by switching to "flight mode" - no, not designed for executives on the run, but a nifty little switch which allows you to use things like the documents and camera without running the risk of crashing an aeroplane's navigation system!!)

I did play with the camera, and I think I'm getting better at keeping my hand still when taking photos, and using the light settings rather than just using the default one.

This could be a really long and involved post, so I might separate it into sections. I took a lot of photos - the weather was glorious for the first two days - and even after ruthless editing, I have more photos than I can shake a stick at!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Double Standards

This was highlighted on Fr. John Boyle's blog: the Evening Standard is running a poll to determine whether a £100 million mosque should be built near the Olympic Stadium to accommodate the anticipated 70,000 Muslim visitors.

I have no objection to the building of mosques. I applaud the idea that a religion should be concerned for the spiritual welfare of its followers during their absence from home. However, a local Christian church, compulsorily purchased to make way for one of the stadia for the Olympics, has been refused planning permission to build a new church anywhere near the area where all its congregation lives.

An unacceptable example of blatant double standards. As a slight aside, I wonder what would have happened if a mosque had been in the way of the proposed Olympic stadium...

...but I digress. Make sure you go and make your views known by voting HERE.

Political Correctness

I really hate it when things are done for the sake of political correctness. Regular readers will already know how I feel about "inclusive" language, and how it is frankly patronising to assume that, just because I have two X chromosomes, I do not know the meaning of the word "mankind" but have to have it translated for me...

Anyway, the Easter Bunny is apparently offensive to Muslims and Jews in Rhode Island. Or rather, the Schools Superintendent thinks that the Easter Bunny is offensive after a complaint from the ex-Catholic Vice-Chairman of the Schools Committee.

Personally I'm not too keen on bunnies, Easter or otherwise. I just hate political correctness. So I was delighted to read that Catholic League president Bill Donohue is fighting back... read about his entertaining counter-claim HERE.

Mantilla twitched in the direction of the Pastor in Valle.

Where I Will Be Tomorrow

I'm going on retreat tomorrow. A small group from the parish is heading off to the Friars, Aylesford for two nights. Fr. Tim is leading the retreat. I intend to use the time to read the Holy Father's Post-Synodal Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis...

I shall try to take lots of photos. With any luck I will figure out the wretched phone-camera at long last. If I don't, I think I might be forced to buy a separate digital camera before my pilgrimage to Lourdes in May!

Inside The Confessional

I am relieved to hear that I'm not the only one who has been given rather strange "advice" when in the Confessional (like the time when, after mentioning my single state, I was told that it wasn't good for a person to be alone, and that I should get married... I was sorely tempted to ask if the priest had anyone particular in mind for me!)

Anyway, the meandering monk, Fr. Stephanos, has written about his own experience as a penitent. His musings in the com-box are also worth reading.

Philosophical Musings

Laughter is not something I would normally associate with Philosophy. However, this video certainly made me smile...

Mantilla twitched in Aggie Catholic's direction.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Small Families...

I was immensely cheered to read the following quote from St. Josémaria Escriva - he was at a question-and-answer session in Chile...

Audience Member "Father, I have seven children..."
Escriva "That’s a good start."

The more I consider the beauty of the Church's teaching described in Humanae Vitae, the more I realise that the nuclear family so promoted in Western "civilisation" is indeed the nuclear option!

Twitch of the mantilla to Credo

End Liturgical Abuses... Or Else!

A while back, I advertised Liturgy Watch, an initiative of the Pontifical Office of Liturgical Police. It would appear that Fr. Ron Ronson is prepared to stop at nothing in furtherance of his quest...

Fr. Ronson is fully conversant with the vagaries of human nature: he recognises that, while people are perfectly happy to allow all sorts of abuse of the Liturgy, they are absolutely horrified at any suggestion of abuse of cute, fluffy animals. So, the "Flyer Campaign" is being started in an attempt to associate liturgical abuse with this most heinous crime:

Mantilla-twitch to Curt Jester.

Expedition North Of The River

One of the disadvantages of my dogsitting duties this weekend was that I didn't get around to blogging about my visit to Kingsland (home of Fr. Nicholas Schofield (Roman Miscellany) and the Dúnadan (Cally's Kitchen), both members of the Catholic Blogosphere.) The Dúnadan had suggested that we hold a Bloggers' Convention after Fr. Tim's talk there...

The talk was excellent (albeit a little long... Fr. Tim keeps adding bits!) To my horror, someone proposed a photo of the four bloggers together. I tried to escape by offering to take the photo, but was overruled, and an obliging parishioner stepped in to do the dastardly deed.

I think Fr. Tim got a photo too, but he has had the good sense to refrain from posting it. As the damage had been done already, I handed my phone over so that I'd have a picture too... and then realised that I didn't have to appear on my own blog, so promptly took a snap of the other three... (a vastly superior photo, I'm sure you'll agree!)

A very enjoyable meal followed. Technical matters were discussed - here you can see Fr Tim showing off his own PDA phone...

...and here is a photo of Fr. Nicholas...

Finally, as we left the restaurant, Fr. Nicholas told us that the houses we could see were actually the oldest examples of terraced houses in London... and I just had to try and get a photo of that...

Owls And Larks

I am a bit of a night owl. My body clock, if allowed free rein, shifts round with amazing rapidity so that I would be wide awake until about 4am. However, I rarely let my body clock go completely off on its own... work provides a strict routine, and in the holidays, daily Mass attendance means that I have to get up. Sundays, however, are a treat... I help with stuff at the evening Mass, so I "allow" myself a lie-in.

The disadvantage of such a routine is that my body seems to recognise Saturday night... and I usually find that I am pretty much awake until about 2am. It's not a problem, unless, for some reason, I want to switch to an early Mass... if, for example, there is a Latin Mass on in the parish...

Last night, my body was convinced it was Saturday night. I didn't get to bed until 1:30am. It took me half an hour to settle down (partly because of the menagerie trying to share my bed... more on that later!) which made it 2am...

Because of the Latin Mass today at Blackfen, I had to get up early... the dogs needed to be walked before I left... this meant a 6am alarm call...

This was, in my opinion, possible. A small sacrifice for the privilege of attending a Latin Novus Ordo Mass... and I have survived on 4 hours' sleep before...

...unfortunately, I had forgotten about British Summer Time. The clocks went forward an hour. Which meant that 6am this morning was actually 5am in body clock terms...

3 hours' sleep in a night is not really something I'd recommend.
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