Saturday, 28 February 2009

Blogroll Clear-Out...

After months and months of waiting, I have finally lost my temper with It's a real shame, because I had used them for the whole of my blogging career to date, and, until the latest blip, they had been very good; this was why I was so patient with them.

In the latest update on progress, however, I saw that they proposed to include adverts in the blogrolls unless the subscriber pays $20. Now, I don't mind paying for an enhanced service - I pay for the upgraded version of Sitemeter - but I do object to being told that I have to pay to avoid adverts, (especially when I have been with Blogrolling for so long), without any idea when the service will be functional, or what sort of adverts will be appearing, and so on.

So, I've decided to move over to Bloglines. It was a mammoth effort, as I needed to load up all the current blogroll pages manually, and then subscribe to them, check the feed and then get the information back on my blog without losing anything, but I'm hoping that I won't need to do this again any time soon.

Links which are now "dead" will be removed, as will any blogs which have been inactive for what I consider to be a long time, unless they have indicated their inactivity is temporary and due to holidays, family commitments, Lent or whatever... I'm not totally ruthless!

It's been such a long time since I have been able to update the roll that there may be new or newly-discovered blogs which I missed. If you think I have missed you, and would like to be included on my blogroll, just drop me a link in the com-box.

Friday, 27 February 2009

More Books For My Bookshelves...

After the last book-related post I wrote, I received an email, through a mutual friend, from Brian of Catholic Word: would I be interested in receiving review copies of books?

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Well, yesterday I received a parcel. I love parcels. I'm not so fond of those styrofoam "peanuts" which fill so many parcels (no matter how careful you are, several of them always escape and stick to stuff... I'll be finding styrofoam peanuts for weeks!) but, every silver lining has its cloud.

Inside the parcel: six books and a CD.

The first book was The Signs of the Times: Understanding the Church Since Vatican II. It is a collection of writings by Fr. Richard Gilsdorf. At around 500 pages, I doubt that it'll be a quick read, but, having glanced at the Foreward, I am keen to continue.

"To read this book, then, is to understand the crises afflicting the Church. It is to understand why catechesis has lacked substance and been so ineffective, why some diocesan newspapers still feature dissenting columnists..."

Oooooh. Tabletistas explained...

The next book out of the box is Christopher West's Theology of the Body for BeginnersThis is not a book I would have chosen to buy, it not really being a subject I'm particularly interested in, but the book is quite a short one, so I shall give it a go.

Building on a Solid Foundation, by Fr. Antoine Bakh, Daniel Daou and Joseph Bakhos is a sort of shortened catechism, arranged under seven topics: The Holy Trinity, the Eucharist, Salvation, The Church, Confession and Reconciliation, Purgatory and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Each of the topics is followed by a section giving quotes on the topic by the early Church Fathers, and then a list of Scriptural quotes, which gives the book a very "Evangelical" feel. I think this is more a reference work rather than something to be read cover-to-cover, though the topics are surprisingly short, given the thickness of the book.

Brian told me that Made for More, by Curtis Martin, was a reason-based argument for Jesus' Divinity, in that it didn't use Scripture as a basis for proof. It's a small, pocket-sized book, so not too daunting. I am keen to see how it reads, as one of the most common objections I've heard from teenagers over the years is how we can't use the Bible to argue anything, because obviously it's biased! This is, of course, nonsense, but I'm interested to know what non-Scriptural arguments can be roped in for support!

Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons? by Matthew J. Pinto is another reference-type book. The front cover proclaims that the questions (200 of them) are from Catholic teenagers, but many of the questions are the same (or similar) to the questions asked by adult converts to Catholicism - the cover will, I fear, put many people off this book, not least the teenagers the book is aimed at... because it is most definitely not "cool" (or whatever the latest buzz-phrase is) to be seen reading a book written specifically for teenagers.

If they overcome this hurdle, the book itself is excellent, though I wouldn't recommend reading it cover-to-cover. It's a book to be dipped into, with a question or two (along with the answers, naturally!) being read at any one time. Many of the questions seem pretty obvious: "Q. 82. Can you be forgiven for committing murder?" but these really are the sort of questions I've been asked by teenagers, even those who are preparing for Confirmation.

The final book out of the box was Ignatius of Antioch: A New Translation and Theological Commentary by Dr. Kenneth J. Howell. A small, slim volume, it nevertheless was the book that interested me the most.

I first encountered St. Ignatius from the writings picked for the Office of Readings. Fairly early on in the year, I think, there's a letter of his which describes how he expected to be thrown to the lions in the arena, and how he did not want his followers to try and save him. (I may be muddling two of the extracts together, but no matter, you get the general idea!)

This was all much as one might expect from a saint of the early Church. Then, his letter gets a little surreal... apparently, several of the beasts used for the games were rather poor specimens, and were rather reluctant to dispatch the Christians presented to them. St. Ignatius was a little anxious that his martyrdom might be impeded because of the indifference of the animals, and so he described his intention of persuading the animals to eat him... "I shall use force to them..." he said.

In anyone other than a Saint of the Church, this would be considered serious mental disturbance!

So, I've always been a little intrigued by St. Ignatius of Antioch.

The CD which was enclosed was one on Confession, by Fr. Larry Richards. It's distributed free by the Mary Foundation, and can be ordered online. I found the quality rather fuzzy (I guess we've been spoiled by near-perfect CD recordings) and the speaker was very "American-Evangelical" in his approach: referring to Bible chapters, and encouraging his audience to look up the quotes with him. It was, however, a good summary of why we need to go to Confession, and Fr. Richards gave a brief run-through of how the Commandments are relevent to our lives.

That lot should keep me out of mischief for a while!

Photo Fun...

Vincenzo put this one in my com-box a while back, and I meant to give it a proper airing, but got a little side-tracked. Now seems as good a time as any...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Suppository's Cheek A Little Hard To Swallow...

...sorry, couldn't resist the play on words.

At the risk of giving more free publicity to the dreadful rag, I'd just like to point out that they have had the gall to cry foul over Fr. Tim's fisk of their nasty little piece.

Apparently, it infringes copyright.

And then, they have the nerve to refuse to publish a letter condemning their article, a letter, moreover, from James MacMillan, a composer who has previously contributed several articles, but considers their latest piece possibly to be actionable.

So, not much chance of Fr. Tim being allowed a right of reply in the paper itself... not that he needs it. He just put up a legally compliant version...

As Fr. Z has pointed out, WDTPRS has a daily readership greater than the circulation of The Bitter Pill.

Mel Gibson's Latest Epic...

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Z, who got it from Vincenzo...

Monday, 23 February 2009

A Gentle Reminder...

...the Sisters of the Gospel of Life have been overwhelmed by the generous response to their appeal for funds. However, there's still a way to go.

Remembering that almsgiving is one of the three activities we should engage in for Lent, you might want to pop over to their blog and click on the PayPal donation button in the side-bar.

Look at how easy that is... one of the Lenten duties fulfilled at a mouse-click, and no worrying about whether the funds will be going to something incompatible with Catholic doctrine... like distribution of condoms, or embryo research, etc.

And, if you can't afford to give a little something, you can at least pray for the success of their fund-raising efforts... thereby fulfilling another of those Lenten duties...

Blogging Lite...

I don't know if I'll have much time for blogging in the next week. Tonight we have a rehearsal for our Confirmation candidates. Wednesday is, of course, Ash Wednesday, and we have a Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the evening (there are two others, Novus Ordo, in English, earlier in the day) and Thursday is the Confirmation Mass itself (I'm a catechist, in case you were wondering why I have to be there!)

On top of all that, I've got school to prepare for...

I should be able to get some really good photos for Ash Wednesday, but I'm not sure when I'll have the time to post them... So, there might not be much activity on the blog over this week. Watch this space!

Time For A Cat Post...

This made me smile, though the thought of a cat being locked out all night is not a good one... Sylvester has the freedom of the cat-flap (as I have discovered, to my cost, when it has been raining at 4am and he wants to be dried off!)

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Dignity Of The Mass...

As Paulinus so rightly said, it's not my Mass, or Father's Mass, or any one person's Mass, it is Christ's Mass, and, as such, no mere mortal has the right to muck about with any of it.

As an antidote to some of the dreadful stuff we have all heard about on the blogosphere, Paulinus wants everyone to put up pictures of beautiful Masses, whether they're in the Ordinary or the Extraordinary Form. My guess is that the Extraordinary Form photos will outnumber the Ordinary Form photos, partly because the EF is simply more photogenic (with the eye drawn upwards and inwards along the natural line-of-sight) but also because it's easier to take a photo when the celebrant isn't glaring at you... (heheheheh... I am such an oppressed parishioner!)

I have so many photo to choose from, but I think I'll go for this one: Epiphany (Jan 6th 2009), Extraordinary Form, Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Blackfen, England.

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