Saturday, 2 February 2008

Anticipation... Fulfilled !

Today's celebration of Candlemas met all my expectations, and then some! It was really great. The weather was beautiful (despite forecasts of snow and/or gale-force winds) and we actually had some sunshine for the outdoor procession (though the wind did put out the majority of the candles!)

The music was uplifting, and slightly mournful (which totally made me think of Simeon's prophecy to Our Lady.) The servers were great.

Fr Z was present in choir - I suspect jet-lag was catching up with him, and he was due to say the evening Mass in the parish. Fr. Tim preached an excellent sermon on the meaning of "purification" and the comparison between Christ's silent and unnoticed arrival in the Temple with his silent and often unnoticed descent onto our altars during Mass.

I came with my dinky phone camera all charged up and ready to take photos. Fr. Tim is obviously unimpressed with the quality usually obtained: he handed over his snazzy digital camera. I look forward to seeing what he makes of the shots I took.

UPDATE: I see that Fr. Z has already posted on the events at Blackfen... and of course, he had his own camera. You can see an excellent shot of the Elevation here.

Friday, 1 February 2008


Oh boy, tomorrow is going to be quite something! At Blackfen we have started to have a monthly Missa Cantata on Saturday mornings (the usual Saturday morning Mass is, dare I say it, "just" a Low Mass!) Tomorrow's scheduled Missa Cantata just happens to coincide with Candlemas... the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (also previously known as the Purification of Our Lady.) This means a big procession (if the snow holds off) and candles.

Fr. Z has popped over for a visit, and no doubt he will be making an appearance. I haven't quite worked out the Celebrant, Deacon and Sub-deacon bits, so I'm as yet unsure who does what and when... but I'm more than happy to learn!

I'm particularly pleased that I'm able to hear Mass tomorrow, as Candlemas was the occasion on which my patron saint, St. Anne Line, was arrested. Someone noted the presence of lots of people at the house she kept for Fr. Gerard (they were gathering for this feast day) and reported them to the authorities. The priests were able to escape, but the presence of the vestments and sacred vessels and everything set up for Mass was enough to secure a conviction.

This Sunday is also the feast of St. Blaise. The tradition of blessing throats on the feast of St. Blaise (using candles from Candlemas, I believe) is one to which I am very attached: trying to teach with laryngitis is no joke, so invoking the protection of St. Blaise makes good sense!

And then, next Saturday, we have the visit to the parish of the Day With Mary team. I blogged about my book-buying tendencies during their visit last year...

My cup, as they say, runneth over...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Cathedral Stakes Latest...

...Well what do you know? Damian Thompson has finally gotten around to publishing the Bloggers' Choice for the Westminster Cathedral Pointy Hat Sweepstake...

Favourite is Fr. Aidan Nichols, a Dominican theologian. Cardinal Pell comes in second, joint with Fr. Tim Finigan. Mr. Thompson had very nice things to say about Fr. Tim:

"What a suffocating closed shop we have running the Church in England and Wales! Fr Finigan, parish priest of Blackfen, Kent, is a traditionalist pastor of great holiness and intellect; he also writes a fantastic blog. That a priest of his quality should not even be made an auxiliary bishop, while box-ticking middle-managers of very limited gifts receive a mitre, is a scandal."

Given the hierarchy's attitude towards Mr. Thompson, I'd guess that Blackfen can rest easy: we're probably going to be able to hang on to our Parish Priest for a while longer!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Lenten Alms...

I was delighted to see that Fr. Tim's post on donating stuff to the Sisters of the Gospel of Life via Amazon and other internet sites which deliver their wares produced such a good result, even ending up on the front page of the Catholic Times! It's heartening to realise that blogging can be a real force for good, and not just a "talking shop" !

It's particularly great because, although the Sisters ask for donations of second-hand stuff, and the mums would be delighted to get the second-hand stuff, there is something really special about being given something new, still in its wrapper, for the new baby...

Lent is approaching. Time to consider what you're going to do. (It's just so great that the Catholic blogosphere is chock full of other traddy Catholics who know that you have to make an effort on all fronts!) So, prayer, penance and almsgiving. It's not an either/or scenario. Now, I don't know what you plan to do prayer-wise, and giving stuff up is pretty personal too (each year I suggest giving up marking exercise books, but my SD won't buy it!) but one possible form of almsgiving might be to buy a few baby items and get them delivered to the Sisters. It has the advantage of being fun to do, and it's pretty anonymous, which means that it's the very best type of almsgiving...

The Sisters might put up a post with other suggestions of needed items. I'll link to it if they do. In the meantime, the delivery address is:

Sisters of the Gospel of Life
106 Dixon Ave
G42 8EL

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

And I'd Just Like To Thank... hairdresser, the cat, my therapist... *sniffs loudly* ...I love you all, and I'd never have made it here without you, you know who you are...

Ok, I don't actually have a therapist... just you lot out there who indulge and encourage me to pour out my heart and soul on the blog... therapy-on-the-cheap!

Anyway, I have been awarded an "Excellent" award. A Thorn in the Pew and Mum6kids both nominated me, for which I thank them... oooh, I feel all warm and fuzzy! I think it's probably just another type of meme, only easier to complete. By accepting the award, you have to nominate at least 10 other blogs. No actual limit. And you don't have to be original either... so no crazy hunting for a blog that hasn't been awarded anything yet...!

So, I would like to pass on the award to: Fr. Tim at the never-ending Hermeneutic; Fr. Ray in Brighton; Karen on the left coast; Newhousenewjob who's Just Doing Her Best; Fr. Z who will be in the vicinity of Blackfen very soon (and suffering our slow British blogging speeds); Fr. John (that Kentish cleric); Fr. Paul, who's no longer a "Lune-atic"; Leutgeb (so she doesn't have to blow her own trumpet... oops, sorry, French horn!); Mark (Hello-ello-ello); the Roman Caveman (he just has to join this club... I always wanted to go clubbing with Cavey!); Hilary, who's eating her Orwellian al-fresco meal; Jeff (jesting curtly); Paulinus who is conquering away and last-but-not-least Ttony, if he can find the award under all those muniments!

While I'm at it, I'd just like to mention a new blog: encouragingly titled "Don't know what I'm doing" it's written by Maggie Clitheroe. She's a homeschooling mum and her blog has only been up and running since the start of January, so pop on over and say hallo... (I remember how much those first comments meant when I started up!)

Monday, 28 January 2008

Danger Signals...

...The little red warning light lit up on my way home this evening. Looks like a genie lamp. It seems to indicate a lack of oil. Luckily I knew of a nearby Kwik-Fit. I did a quick detour and popped in. I explained to the very nice man behind the desk that the little red light had come on, and I wondered if he'd put some oil in for me. I have managed to find the oil tester thingy in the past, but I never quite figured out where the oil went in...

(I do know where the water goes, but not the oil.)

He smiled in a very understanding way, and fixed the oil for me. I love being blonde!

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Another Book Meme...

I haven't seen this one before, and when I spotted it over at Tigerish Waters, I knew I wanted to have a go, despite not being tagged... But then again, Rita didn't explicitly tag anyone...

1) Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
Anything by St. John of the Cross (way too advanced for my little blonde brain) and pretty much anything by St. Augustine of Hippo (too tedious for words... and his stuff in the Office of Readings goes on and on and on... and I know I should find it instructive...)

2) If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael, Giovanni Guareschi's Don Camillo and Chesterton's Father Brown for a Murder Mystery Weekend. It would be fun to see who got the right answer quickest!

3) (Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for a while, eventually you realise it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
Probably The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. The inaccuracies I've heard about would be so tedious I might even be tempted to gnaw open my radial arteries to speed up the process!

4) Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
No, I don't do that one... but I have bought Witness to Hope by George Weigel ages and ages ago and haven't yet gotten around to reading it...

5) You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (If you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP).
Fiction: The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. I love spy stuff, high-tech gadgetry and page-turning excitement. Non-Fiction: The Spirit of the Liturgy by the Holy Father in his previous existence as Cardinal Ratzinger... it explains why I get so worked up about liturgical abuses.

6) A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
Latin: so I can pray the Divine Office in the Extraordinary Form (They had more saints to choose from!)

7) A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
I refuse to choose just one! The Sinner's Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada. Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. The Imitation of Christ by St Thomas á Kempis. I re-read these ones frequently anyway, though not every year.

8) I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
Ummmmmm... I've discovered that it's a bad idea for me to browse internet bookstores just after payday. Much better to wait until someone recommends a book, and buy that ONE. Of course, it's also far less fun to do it that way, so I rarely follow my own good advice.

9) That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leather bound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.
Big room. Lots of shelves, but nothing above head height, as I can't climb ladders or steps easily. Large french windows looking onto a lawn down to a river or lake. Lots of central heating. Squishy armchairs which can be curled up in. And lots of books. All the classics by the saints, and lots more books on the Church and her teachings by other good writers. Nothing heretical. And a small section of murder mysteries and spy thrillers for when I need to veg out.

Ok, I'll tag Fr. Tim Finigan (I usually avoid tagging him as he rarely bothers, but I might be lucky and get another link out of it!), Fr. Ray Blake (although he didn't seem to enjoy the last tag I gave him!), Fr. Zuhlsdorf (I don't hold out much hope... I've never seen a meme on his blog, but boy, imagine the answers he'd give!!), Jeff the Curt Jester (I'm fascinated to know what his answers would be), Karen (she generally tags me, so it's payback time!) and Newhousenewjob (as she's been away from the blogosphere for a while, she might enjoy this one.)

UPDATE: Karen has completed the meme, despite being eight hours behind the rest of humanity. Fr. Z completed it, which was a bit of a shock... luckily it wasn't in Latin. I'm intrigued that he wants to be able to read Chinese though! The Curt Jester gritted his teeth and completed "yet another book meme" and Fr. Ray is saving his for a day when he hasn't got anything better to do (so I won't hold my breath there then!) That just leaves Fr. Tim and Newhousenewjob...

Human Embryo Experimentation

This is the last chance to make known your views on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill, which is currently scheduled for debate in the House of Lords on Monday 4 February.

John Smeaton, Director of SPUC, stated on his blog that:

The Bill seeks, among other things, to:

* extend the creation of embryonic children in the laboratory ('test-tube babies')
* allow embryonic children to be abused and killed for a wider range of research purposes
* permit the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos.

Over recent weeks, the Government and supporters of embryo research have blocked all substantial efforts to lessen the evils of the Bill during its passage through the Lords. Although it is unlikely that pro-life Lords will defeat the Bill, a strong vote against it now will help and encourage MPs to oppose the Bill when it goes to the House of Commons - probably in mid-February. Many people wrote to the Lords in November asking them to oppose the bill at second reading - this had great impact and helped encourage pro-life peers in their opposition to the bill.

It really is vital that as many people as possible write - you can write to any of the Lords on this matter. Even though the Bill is unlikely to be defeated, the important thing is that no-one can claim that they didn't receive any letters in opposition, or that no-one appears to have any real objections because they'd write if they did!

Remember, one day you are going to have to stand before Jesus Christ, and when he asks what you did for even one of his "little ones" (remember that cup of water he mentioned?) you might want to have an alternative to "Umm, nothing much, actually! Sorry about that..."

Writing a letter isn't difficult. SPUC provide helpful hints. They also provide email addresses for most of the Peers, although they also state that written letters are more likely to have an effect. SPUC is the pro-life group with most experience of parliamentary matters, so I would recommend taking their advice.

And don't forget to let Anthony Ozimic, SPUC's Political Secretary know about any answers you get...
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