Saturday, 9 February 2008


Lots of ladies wearing mantillas. Lots wearing hats and headscarves too...

Book Binge...

Mea culpa, mea culpa... I just couldn't resist the lure of the bookstall. I think the Day With Mary team see me coming, because they put out different stuff each time, and are very quick to point out books I might have missed... as well as being terribly helpful when it comes to obtaining books which seem to have been left behind.

So, what have I managed to find this year?

I'm really excited about this one. Having devoured Joan Carroll Cruz's books, "The Incorruptibles" (about incorrupt saints) and "Eucharistic Miracles," this book should be an absolute gem. I look forward to reading more about Guadalupe, Akita and other miraculous images. The book covers 100 portraits and statues.

I've also managed to lay my paws on this: The Blessed Sacrament, by Fr. Faber. He wrote some pretty nifty hymns, and I liked the book I read of his on Purgatory. Plus, we can never get too much information about the Blessed Sacrament.

This book intrigued me: after all, there is so little known about St. Joseph from the Gospels. I accosted Fr. Tim and asked his opinion on whether the book was likely to be more in the realms of fantasy than fact: not really fair - the man can't be an expert on every book written on the Faith. Naturally enough, he told me to read it and find out (Memo to self - stop nagging parish priest for answers to things I should be able to look up for myself!) On further investigation, it appears that the information has been gleaned from Scripture, from Sacred Tradition and from the writings of the saints. That, together with the fact that it is published by TAN, indicated that The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, by Edward Healy Thompson, was worth reading...

I wanted to get something seasonal: Journey to Easter, by Pope Benedict XVI seemed to be just the ticket. It was originally published in 1985, but Lent is Lent, and 22 years won't have made that much of a difference...

...Oooooh! What was I doing 22 years ago? Not reading anything by Cardinal Ratzinger, that's for sure!!

Saints and Sinners of Calvary, by Fr. Christopher Rengers, and The Way of Perfection, by St. Teresa of Avila both jumped out at me and demanded to be bought. So did Fatima from the Beginning, by John de Marchi, and The Art of Dying Well by St. Robert Bellarmine.

I guess that I won't be running short of reading material over the next few weeks. I might, however, have to cut down on blogging...

The Afternoon Sessions...

After lunch, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. There was another outdoor procession, this time of the Blessed Sacrament. Again, I stayed put and prayed quietly. Fr. Tim took the opportunity to take some photos while finishing off the parish newsletter. We prayed the Rosary when everyone returned (the Luminous Mysteries) and then we had a sermon on Our Lady by Fr. Agnellus, FI. I posted before about Fr. Agnellus when he came to celebrate a first Mass at Blackfen. The main thrust of the sermon was that we needed to pray for fortitude during Lent, to enable us to complete our Lenten observances, and that Our Lady was ready to help us if we asked her; she was a supreme example of someone who displayed fortitude.

This was followed by a short period of silent Adoration, and then finished with meditations on the Stations of the Cross. We stayed in our places for this - the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, and anyway, there were way too many people to be able to walk round the Stations.

A brief tea-break was announced: as the Blessed Sacrament was still exposed, many people just remained in the church to pray quietly. Some went out for a quick cuppa and then returned. We then had another sermon on Our Lady from Fr. Tim. This time he spoke about how we should give everything to Our Lady. It was all or nothing: either it was completely right to give ourselves to Mary, or it was completely wrong. If we needed to "save" something of ourselves for Jesus, then we shouldn't give anything at all to Mary. In fact, we give everything to her, because she gives everything to her Son; and with Mary, we contemplate the face of Christ.

Awesome stuff.

The Glorious Mysteries were prayed, followed by Benediction, and then some people were enrolled in the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal. Finally we waved farewell to the statue of Our Lady with white hankies provided specially for the occasion.

That bit always makes me teary-eyed. It is such a simple expression of faith, with such a trusting, childlike quality. I love it that the Catholic Faith is so tangible, so sensible (as in "of the senses" as well as in "making sense.")

I love being Catholic.


...but very happy. The Day With Mary went really well. I wasn't going to take photos, but it was such a great opportunity that I just couldn't resist. I was using my dinky little phone camera though, so no annoying clicks, and there isn't a flash, so my photo-taking was fairly discrete. It helps that I like to sit at the front.

We started with various prayers, the Crowning of the Statue, the Litany of Loreto, and then an outdoor procession with the statue of Our Lady, just once round the block. Yesterday I'd been on a team-building-bonding type of INSET at an outdoor activity centre... not my cup of tea at the best of times. We've had a fair bit of rain recently, the ground was muddy and slippery, and I wrenched my dodgy ankle several times. Today I was in quite a bit of pain, so I skipped the procession and stayed behind in the church praying the Joyful Mysteries, while the procession prayed them outside and sang a couple of hymns.

We then had Mass. It was a Missa Cantata - I was delighted that we didn't have to forego the Extraordinary Form this Saturday. Hopefully the photos will convey a little something of the beauty and solemnity of the occasion. Fr. Tim preached a very good sermon on the importance of prayer for the Holy Souls (particularly getting indulgences for them) and guardian angels. I knew that each person had a guardian angel "for their very own" as it were, but I hadn't quite grasped the idea that each country has an angel guardian, and even each parish (Fr. Tim reminded us that the guardian angel of Portugal preceded the apparitions of Our Lady to the children in Fatima.) That gave me food for thought, and I shall make more of an effort to recruit them when I need help!

The lunch break allowed me to check out the bookstall... as I'm trying to reduce my blog-post length (very long posts get to be a bit of a bore) I shall post more about the books later... in the meantime, this is what greeted me...

Friday, 8 February 2008

Name Meme...

I'm whiling away a little time (Ok, I put too much hot water in the bath, and rather than let some out and add cold water I decided to let it cool down a little) and I've spotted this meme over at Exspectantes' blog... she basically tagged anyone who wanted to play, so that's my excuse!

Here are the rules:

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.

2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

Ok, here we go:

U - Undertaker: I had to visit one in order to overcome a coffin phobia.
R - Really, I am a natural blonde... though I colour my hair to make it slightly lighter and more ashen.
S - Steak: I like mine medium-rare.
U - Uvula: mine is divided so that I have two little "bits" hanging down at the back of my throat.
L - Liturgy: I prefer mine traditional.
A - Accident-prone. Not unduly, but enough to make me slightly wary.

And now I'm going to tag Karen, Ma Beck, Fr. Paul Harrison, Mark, Rita and Ttony.

More Fun Ahead...

Tomorrow we have our parish's Day With Mary. Last year's celebration was really great... just about every possible devotion to Our Lady, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Adoration of Our Lord and Benediction, plus the opportunity to go to Confession... Wow! Heaven's arrived early!

...and of course, there will be the bookstall; TAN books galore, so they're all legit - no airy-fairy liberal claptrap on enneagrams, women priests and suchlike! I must remember to visit the hole-in-the-wall tomorrow morning...

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Foot-In-Mouth Disease...

...or the "they opened their mouths and dropped enough bricks to build a cathedral" award...

'Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life,'
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.

'I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body,'
-- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.

'That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it,'
-- A congressional candidate in Texas.

'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
-- Al Gore, US Vice-President.

'Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas.'
-- Keppel Enderbery.

'Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.'
-- Department of Social Services, Greenville , South Carolina.

'If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record.'
-- Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman.

I don't know how genuine these are: they were sent to me in an email... but they made me chuckle so I'm posting them anyway!

Nice Try...

It was the boys' Confirmation class tonight (the girls have theirs on Tuesday) and one of the catechists asked what Lenten penances were being undertaken.

One lad piped up about how he was going to give up chocolate. All fine and dandy.

Then another boy announced that he was going to give up fighting with his brother... and a third chimed in with how he would stop arguing with his mother...

Spoilsport that I am, I felt constrained to point out to them that they weren't allowed to give up things they shouldn't do anyway...

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Just Testing...

...I really like bacon at the best of times, but Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the two times I seem to wake up dreaming about it... Believe me, catfood never looked so appetising as it did this morning!

And I'm not the only one whose thoughts stray... The Curt Jester decided to post a little detachment test for people to check out how well they're doing!

One Nomination Not Related To Politics...

I'm really sure that it's terribly interesting for the Americans... they get to vote on who they're going to get to vote for... Seems like a good idea, I suppose it's like the Tory Party voting for Cameron or the Labour Party voting for Brown (oops, no, sorry, they didn't do that...) But today a commentator mentioned that the actual election isn't until November...

Anyway, I'm not being nominated for President or anything like that, but I have been nominated for a teensy weensy award... That Nice Mr. Smith went and did it. Unfortunately he didn't put up any rules, so I have no idea how many people need to be nominated back. On the basis that it's "Bloggers of the World," I've tried to spread it about some...

Ok, first up is Fr. Zuhlsdorf... he counts as Vatican State (yes, I'm stretching a point... I don't care... my blog, and I am lousy at geography anyway!!)

Next is Leutgeb... she counts as England & Wales because she lives in England, but has Welsh spotty bread as her blog name.

Paulinus and Mark tie for the Scottish connection. I think one is in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow... that should keep them nicely in competition...

Esther gets the Hawaii slot. Ummm, is that actually part of the USA?

Fr. Owl flies the flag for former British Colonies... he's in Canada. Why? I fail to understand the attraction of fish, penguins and polar bears. Maple syrup is a bit more my thing, though I wouldn't feel it necessary to emigrate. Supermarkets are quite cosmopolitan these days...

The West Coast of America is Karen's little spot. I like the fact that Karen appreciates my sense of humour. Of course, she hasn't actually met me in person...

(I haven't tagged Fr. Tim because I tagged him for a meme a while back and he ignored it. And then he deleted my comment which reminded him he hadn't done it. So I'm sulking!! But if he wants to do this one, then he's forgiven... and tagged! Hey I'm female, I'm blonde... two good reasons for why I'm allowed (expected, even!) to change my mind... frequently!)

There are so many blogs I enjoy reading, I couldn't possibly manage to name them all, and I've probably offended several people. If you want to be tagged, consider it done, but let me know in the com-box.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Hybrids Given the Go-Ahead

I was ashamed to see that the House of Lords has approved the Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill on Monday. They didn't even put it to a vote... it was just passed through on the nod, so-to-speak. John Smeaton, Director of SPUC, has more information on the (unsuccessful) attempts to introduce amendments which would restrict the bill.

In 1996 I wrote an article for Faith Magazine outlining the dangers of foetal tissue transplantation - that is, the use of foetal nerve tissue to repair brain injury. My knowledge of the subject came from my research work at the Institute of Psychiatry: it was one of the leading centres for research into foetal brain tissue transplantation in animals, though the work always looked towards the possibility of its use in humans.

The more I read about the work on human foetal tissue transplantation for the article, the more sick I felt. The very real spectre of women being paid to have abortions "at the right time" was looming, and it struck me that we were on the edge of a very slippery precipice.

Looking back on what I wrote, I am surprised at how short-sighted I was. I think that we have plumbed the depths, morally speaking. The USA had a moratorium on the use of human foetal tissue, and other countries held back. Now we have an even more horrific scenario: the creation of human-animal hybrids for experimental purposes. The boundaries have been pushed further than I would have believed possible in a "civilised" country...

It would appear that British research is now leading the rest of the world in this field: a fact that the Government announce with pride. They fail to mention that this field is one pretty much shunned by the rest of the world. This is nothing to be proud of.

Give It Up...

A little bird told me this evening that an Anglican bishop had been heard on Radio 2 (or some such station under the stewardship of the Beeb.) Anyway, said bishop was pontificating on how he was going to give up carbon for Lent, and so reduce global warming...

Someone ought to point out to His Lordship that the fastest way to reduce global warming is to stop pontificating on subjects of which he knows little or nothing... all that gas and hot air must be contributing significantly to the greenhouse effect!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Candlemas Video

I pointed out that Fr. Tim had handed me his camera before our parish Candlemas celebrations. Well, he's managed to put together a "video" of the results. Some of the shots are a bit shaky... that camera weighs a ton, and this time I didn't have a tripod.

The Links Effect...

After yesterday's whimpering session, Fr. Zuhlsdorf decided to take pity on me. He put up a post telling his readers to pay me a visit. (He didn't explain why, and I suspect that some of them left again, totally baffled...!)

Anyway, this has caused a gratifying blip in my blog statistics. My visitor numbers generally increase when Fr. Tim Finigan links back to me - that's when I get more than 200 visits in a day...

Who Writes Headlines?

It does make you wonder whether the editors have taken their eyes off the ball... Fr. Erik Richtsteig has identified some of the craziest headlines from 2007, and "fisked" them á la Fr. Z:

For example:

--Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says. (No, really?)

--Miners Refuse to Work after Death. (No-good-for-nothin' lazy so-and-sos!)

--Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures. (Who would have thought!)

--New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group. (Weren't they fat enough?!)

And lastly, one without a comment...

--Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Read the rest HERE.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Tagged Again...

Esther, that Catholic Mom in Hawaii, has tagged me for a new book meme. I don't quite know what I could have done to offend her... though maybe it's because I didn't tag her for my last book meme, and this is her idea of revenge!!

1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why?
The Spiritual Combat and a Treatise on Peace of Soul by Dom Scupoli. He hits the nail right on the head when describing temptations and our (ok, ok... my) excuses for giving in... and he also provides helpful advice on how to fight back.

2. What is one of your favourite childhood books?
Adventure of the Amethyst by Cecily Hallack. Written in the 1940s, an example of apologetics written for children. It also demonstrates how much dumbing down goes on now in children's literature (there are bits of (untranslated) French conversation between the children and their French cook) and in modern catechetical material. As an interesting aside, much of the descriptions of Liturgy didn't make sense to me until I'd attended a few Masses in the Extraordinary Form...

3. Do you have a favourite book of the Bible?
It depends on what sort of mood I'm in. The Book of Psalms is the one I'm most familiar with, because of praying the Office, closely followed by the Gospels...

4. What is one book you could read again and again?
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. Reading about Our Lady is awesome.

5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why?
The Sinner's Guide by Venerable Louis of Granada. For much the same reason as The Spiritual Combat. It also has nice short chapters which can be tackled one a day.

Bonus question: If you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?
I have enough difficulty trying to think of what to write for my blog, let alone a book.

Ok, I'm going to tag Karen (she said she likes book memes) and Ma Beck... and anyone else who wants to play - provided you tell me in the com-box.

Pride Cometh Before A Fall...

I was lucky enough to go to lunch with Fathers Zuhlsdorf and Finigan this afternoon. Congratulating myself on my good fortune, I tried to do more listening than talking (a feat I find rather difficult most of the time, and I'm not entirely sure that I succeeded) while making short work of my last steak before Lent.

The conversation was entertaining, though at one point I was sorely tempted to relieve Fr. Z of his iPhone as he demonstrated its capabilities. Luckily, I managed to fight off the temptation (I mean, can you imagine: Bless me Father for I have sinned, I nicked Fr. Z's iPhone when he visited) and did my best to quell the avarice by contemplating how long it would be before I could demand an upgrade from O2...

We soon moved on to the discussion of blogging matters. Again, I was basking in a nice warm fuzzy feeling as I listened... after all, I too have a blog.

Then my comeuppance. The two überbloggers started talking about another blog. "Imagine," they chortled merrily, "...only 200 visits a day!!!"

I'm afraid I started whimpering at that point...

"Feeling totally inadequate" just doesn't cover it!

UPDATE: Lest the good fathers be thought of as uncharitable, I'd just like to point out that the other blog was one often quoted by mainstream media as having a finger on the pulse of Catholic public opinion. Which, with "only" 200 hits a day, it clearly is not...

UPDATE 2: If you have found your way here because Fr. Z felt sorry for me, then you are most welcome, and please visit again soon... (I wonder if visiting neglected blogs counts as a corporal work of mercy...?)
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