Saturday, 16 February 2008

More Gremlins...

Hmmphhhh! My mobile phone wouldn't connect to my computer. Microsoft Outlook was having a fit of the sulks, and wanted to be made the default email client. I suspect that this was the cause of yesterday's problems as well.

Too bad. I like Mozilla Thunderbird. But I cheated... I agreed to make Outlook the default mail client, got the connection working again... and then sneakily went and changed it back to Thunderbird...

You Say "Global Warming" Like It's A Bad Thing...

This was the sight which greeted me on my way home from Benediction this lunchtime.

Yes, we're half-way through February.

The sunshine is glorious. It is a little on the nippy side though!

Prayers Needed For Algerian Christians

Middle East Concern reports that Father Pierre Wallez, sentenced to a year's imprisonment for praying with Christians in Cameroon, is the first victim of legislation approved in March 2006. The legislation prohibits anyone from leading a religious ceremony anywhere without permission from the government in Algeria.

Algerian Archbishop Henri Teissier told Vatican Radio: "the most surprising thing is that the conviction was issued simply because the priest visited a group of Christians in Cameroon. He had not celebrated Mass, but was only joining them in a prayer. It was December 29, a little after Christmas." A tribunal has now modified the sentence to parole. But Christians in Algeria are concerned that their religious freedom is under threat.

In recent months Christians in Algeria have faced increasing harassment and a hostile campaign in the media. In the same trial that sentenced Fr. Wallez, a Muslim doctor was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for using medications supplied by the Catholic Church's charity, Caritas.

Middle East Concern say that Algerian Christians have requested readers' prayers.

Mantilla-twitch to Fr. Justin.

Good News On The Education Front... North Carolina, at least. Belmont Abbey College noticed that their Health Insurance plan covered services such as contraception, voluntary sterilisation and abortion. The College decided that this was unacceptable, and have had such provision removed.

President William Thierfelder said, “As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church. There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic college.”

Wow. A Catholic institution which believes in being faithful to the teachings of the Church...

Mantilla twitched in the direction of the great Curt Jester.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Catholic Blog Alert !

It's time to reward your favourite Catholic blogs. Nominations are being taken for the 2008 awards: if registered last year, your user name and password are still the same. If you didn't register, you'll need to do so, but it's easy and free.

Pretty please...

Blonde Joke (Yes, Another One!!)

Quick Question... the end of week 1. I hope that you're not finding the penances too trying... and remember, if you do slip up, well, just start again: there's plenty more days left to go!


I arrived home keen to check email and blogs, in that order. I tried to access my email. The computer told me that I'd have to set up an email account...

What the... I tried not to panic. I resisted the urge to throw the computer out of the window. I checked that my internet connection was working. All ok. So what had happened to the email?

I couldn't find it anywhere. I knew that I must have a file somewhere, because I save mail in local folders on my computer, but where exactly? With Windows 95, every file turned up, and you could see the root. On XP, all the "annoying" computer-ish stuff is tidied away carefully, so you often only get to see the file names. Doing a search didn't produce anything.

I decided to set my email account back up again, and worry about the old stuff later. And then I had a brainwave, and looked up the location of the "new" mail folders. Aha. Bingo. The old folders were in a folder next to the new ones. Obvious, innit? It only took me an hour to figure out.

Why? No idea. The computer was working fine last night when I switched it off. I must have gremlins...

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Why Humanae Vitae Was Right...

John Smeaton gives a very good account explaining why the use of contraception has led to an increase in abortion: it's a speech he gave at the World Congress of Families in Warsaw last May.

He also has a link to resources published by Professor Janet Smith, author of Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later. She will be speaking at Westminster Cathedral Hall on March 6th, 2008.


This week's Confirmation classes dealt with the topics of chastity and marriage.

The boys' class, to a man, just looked wide-eyed in terror at the thought of marriage.

The girls, on the other hand, had already mentally booked the flights, decided on the beach location (I had to squash that one ever so slightly), drafted a guest list and had moved on to the dress and accessories...

One girl even wanted to know if it was possible to export one's own priest, if, for example, one wished to get married in, say, Malta... I was assured that this location was hypothetical.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

I Challenge You... watch this and not at least smile back ! There's just something about smiling and laughing babies which makes us smile and laugh right back!!

Twitch of the mantilla to the wonderful Ma Beck.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Can You Keep A Secret?

I saw this over on Karen's blog... and I just laughed and laughed!

Well, Since You Asked...'s another cat photo, this time of Sylvester. He's been pretty uncooperative tonight, and keeps moving just as I try to catch him on camera. Because of the slow shutter speed, this means that I have little chance of getting a good "face" shot... and frankly, pictures of a back end of a black cat aren't very good (the camera just can't cope with the lighting levels.)

Actually, I suspect Sylvester has been having a bit of a spat with some of the other cats in the neighbourhood. I have been informed, in the past, that my beloved little cat is a bit of a tearaway... and he has been seen bullying the cats next door. He seems to have come off a little the worse for wear this time: a couple of scratches and possibly a bite...

In addition, his right eye appears to have something wrong with it. The eye isn't red or inflamed, and he doesn't appear overly sensitive to light, but it's a bit "gunky," and slightly closed.

Sylvester doesn't appear to be in pain, and he's purring... and eating plenty... but a trip to the vet might be necessary, if he doesn't get better before the weekend. Oh joy... have you ever tried to get a reluctant cat into a cat basket?

Monday, 11 February 2008

And Just Because...

...A friend told me on Saturday that I didn't have enough cat pictures on the blog of late!

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Today is one of my favourite feast days. Yes, I know that technically it can only be observed as a commemoration, as we're in Lent, but it's still a big day for me.

I love Lourdes. It is the most spiritually uplifting place. I love the way that the sick and disabled get priority... and heaven help you if you block a wheelchair lane. I love it that all the shops around town are selling statues and rosaries and medals... but no-one minds that you've bought stuff from the shop next door. I love the processions.

But most especially, I love the fact that Lourdes is one in the eye for our secular society. Evidence for the existence of God? Well, are sixty-six fully attested miracles enough for you?

He's Done It Again...

The Curt Jester has introduced some new items into his L-Mart range, especially for the Lenten season. I particularly like the Computer Soulsaver which kicks in at regular intervals and blocks the computer screen until you've said some prayers... and the Sackcloth T - the latest in penitential undershirts!

Mock Exams...

It's that season again: Year 9 have mock SATs exams. As I'm supposed to be teaching Year 9 after lunch, I have the joy of invigilating some of the exams. An hour of sheer tedium is about to ensue... at least I'll be able to recite a rosary as I wander round, and maybe even pray the stations. And yes, I know I can offer it up too...

...but it's still going to be grotty!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Time For A Blonde Joke...

A blonde walked into a bank in London and asked to see the manager. She explained she was going to Hong Kong on business for two weeks and needed to borrow £5,000. The Manager replied that the bank would need some kind of security for the loan, so the blonde handed over the keys to a new Ferrari.

The car was parked on the street in front of the bank, she had the log book and everything checked out. So, the bank agreed to accept the car as collateral for the loan. Afterwards, the manager and the cashiers all enjoyed a good laugh at the blonde's expense, as she'd effectively used a £200,000 Ferrari as collateral against a £5,000 loan.

An employee of the bank then proceeded to drive the Ferrari into the bank's underground garage and parked it there.

Two weeks later, the blonde returned; she repaid the £5,000 and the interest, which came to £15.41.

The manager went out to speak to her. "Miss," he says, "we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a millionairess. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow £5,000?"

The blonde replied... "Where else in London can I park my car for two weeks for only £15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"

Transformation Of An Altar... Blackfen Style!

Following the enormous success of La métamorphose d'un autel last year, I was tempted to see if I could come up with something similar. After a couple of Sunday mornings where I arrived to find the altar already set up, I managed to get in extra early this morning. After lurking in the car park until someone from the 9am Mass vacated a parking space, I nearly found that I was too late again... but I persuaded the altar servers and sacristan to wait until my phone camera was switched on...

It's not as good as the original, mostly because of the very slow shutter speed on my phone camera, and the length of time it needs to reset itself after each photo...

As St. Valentine's Day Approaches...

...Jay has a short, but perceptive, post on signs of Love, and how the devil has insinuated himself into St. Valentine's Day (so much so that the "Saint" bit is often left out!)

Go and read it HERE.

Google's Great...

...and so is Sitemeter! I noticed that someone had visited my site after googling the question, "Are you allowed to go clubbing during Lent?"

Heheheheh... depends on whether you've given up alcohol...

...or clubbing...

One Thing Which Struck Me...

I was aware that the church was packed for the Mass at yesterday's Day With Mary (did I mention how brilliant the whole day was?) though the photos don't show this: many people could only come for part of the day, and chose to make it for the Mass (and I wasn't taking photos of the congregation during that!) I thought that there were more people than for a normal Sunday Mass, going by the queue for Holy Communion.

The best bit just had to be when Fr. Tim knelt down after Mass to pray the Leonine Prayers... after the Hail Holy Queen and the "collect", Fr Tim started off the prayer to St. Michael... "Holy Michael the archangel,"

...and the entire congregation thundered back, "Defend us in the day of battle!"

I bet that gave Satan pause for thought!!

Boys And Their Toys...

The parish fire-extinguishers were out of date, and apparently of an age where the testing and refilling of them would be more expensive than the purchase of new ones. So Fr Tim promised the altar servers that they could let the old extinguishers off after the 10:30am Mass.

First of all, Father felt obliged to check out one of the CO2 extinguishers, just to be absolutely certain that it worked...

Then each server was kitted out with an extinguisher, and the whole troupe lined up neatly (I half expected them to genuflect: they're very well trained.) Fr Tim was sternly instructing them to wait until he gave the signal... possibly more concerned for the safety of his cassock than for the timing of the photo...

...and then they were off!

How To Start Your Day In A Foul Temper...

I woke up early today, before my alarm went off. Well, ok, it would be late if it were a school day, but I was able to revel in the fact that I get a little lie-in on Sundays. Automatically, and still half-asleep, I switched on my radio...

Being Sunday, Radio 4's "Sunday" programme was on. I became aware that it was the voice of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor burbling gently.

He was speaking about the use of condoms. He actually stated that, in areas of high condom use ("flooded with condoms" was the exact expression), the spread of HIV was higher, according to bishops in such areas.

I smiled quietly at this point. Nice to hear Catholic doctrine being upheld and defended so firmly, and on the BBC too. Maybe I had been overly harsh in my criticisms. I would resolve to be more charitable in future...

...And then the Cardinal put his foot firmly in his mouth...

"...there is a particular situation, where, within a marriage, as you say, a woman may want to protect herself from the fear of this disease, that wouldn't necessarily be wrong..."

"She might be right to do so?" queried the interviewer.

"Well, I think it would be up to her to decide there and that, I think, is a situation which might arise..."

WHAT? In one breath he admits that condoms are of no earthly use in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and in the next he's telling women that they have to decide for themselves. Quite apart from the fact that the Church's position on the use of contraception is that it is wrong, even between married couples, he has just made the most incredibly stupid statement.

There is no such thing as "Safe Sex" where HIV/AIDS is concerned. If a husband with HIV really loved his wife, he wouldn't want to risk passing on the virus... not even a small risk is acceptable... and so he would abstain from sex.

"Darling, I love you... now, I want you to play Russian Roulette. Don't worry, there's only a small risk of getting shot provided you hold the gun the right way up..."

When does the Cardinal retire? Please, please... PLEASE! Can we have a more intelligent (and more obedient) Cardinal next time around!
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