Saturday, 28 November 2009

A Happy & Holy Advent...

I like the season of Advent. If observed properly, it makes a wonderful antidote to the relentless secularisation of "Christmas." It's a time of preparation, hence the purple vestments at Mass.

The Curt Jester has come up trumps yet again with his animated Advent Wreath, which is available free, gratis and for nothing from his blog - the JavaScript code is easy to insert, and the animation will be updated each week, so more and more candles get lit.

Arise Once More...

This evening we had a screening of Arise Once More at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen. Produced by Christian Holden of St. Anthony Communications, it begins with the early arrivals of Christianity in Britain, and takes you on a tour of Catholic history, through the Medieval period and the Reformation, the Second Spring, the Modern Crisis. It ends with "The Revival" which sets forth the necessary steps for an authentic revival of Catholicism in Britain.

I was wielding my trusty camera, so managed to persuade the clergy to pose for a photo... Fr. Marcus Holden is on the left, with Fr. Charles Briggs (Parish Priest of Chislehurst, who came with a few of his parishioners) and Fr. Timothy Finigan.

Refreshments were available before the presentation - very necessary, given the vile weather outside...

It was an excellent DVD: though personally I think that a lot of the commentary could have been played while looking at the pictures of churches, statues, paintings, and so on... Fr. Marcus Holden told me that the budget for this first production was seriously limited (which you wouldn't guess from the quality of the DVD) which meant that there was a restriction on how many different images they could use.

This was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me: I remember when Christian Holden and his brother, now Fr. Marcus, first started St. Anthony Communications fourteen years ago, and, as the Advertising Manager for the Faith Magazine, I persuaded them to advertise with us...

Their next project, which promises to be even better, will be on the Sacrament of Confession. If you wish to buy a copy of Arise Once More, you can order it (and many other excellent books, DVDs and CDs) from the St. Anthony Communications website.

Here's the trailer for the DVD...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Cure For Blondness...

I love Google Mail. It now has a remedy for those particularly frustrating blonde moments - you know, the ones where you remember you need to attach a file after you have clicked the "send" button...

There is an application in Google Mail which allows you to "undo send" for 10 seconds (you can choose 10 or 5 seconds) before sending your missive off into the dark void of cyberpace.

Google must have several blondes in its employ... I mean, how else would they know...?

Christmas Cards...

Christmas cards are becoming more and more difficult.

First, there is the difficulty of finding good quality cards which actually celebrate Christmas: that is, cards with religious pictures - and I don't count pictures of a dove with an olive branch as "religious." The whole point about Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth. Stars just about cut it. Traditional pictures of singing (or instrument-playing) angels, by virtue of their artistic merit and the theological implications are ok. Santa Claus, robins, snowy village scenes and carol singers are definitely out.

Then there is the whole "charity" thing. I like the idea of sending cards which help to support a charity. I don't, however, want to support any charity with anti-life policies such as abortion, embryo experimentation, euthanasia, population control and pre-natal screening/diagnosis. Many of the charity Christmas cards on sale in the supermarkets support a variety of charities... and quite a few of them are involved in these anti-life areas.

It is a minefield: for example, charities like the Parkinson's Disease Society, which would otherwise be very good causes, are now off limits because they advocate embryonic stem cell research.

If you want to check out a particular charity, then the SPUC Charities page is an excellent resource.

The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration


Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

You can sign the declaration by following this link. Twitch of the mantilla to Bones for reminding me that they hope to get to a million signatures.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Feast Day...

Zephyrinus reminded me that today is the Feast of St. Silvester (according to the 1962 calendar), and bade me wish the star of my blog a happy Name Day... I shall have to make sure he gets something nice to celebrate later...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Challenge Anti-Life Sex Education...

I received the following information from Anthony Ozimic of SPUC. We really need to make our views on this heard... after all, we cannot rely on the "Catholic" Education Service, which so rapidly sold out to the Government agenda, nor on the Bishops of England & Wales, who have been silent, and thus complicit.

Make no mistake - we are fighting for our children's very souls!

The government has introduced a bill which would make sex education compulsory in all state schools, including faith schools, from ages 5-16. This is part of the government's anti-life sexual health agenda. The approach to sex and relationships education (SRE) in the Children, Schools and Families bill has been framed by anti-life, anti-family groups. The government not only wants universal sex education, but also wants to use all state secondary schools, including Catholic ones, as centres for promoting access to contraception and abortion services. Not since the Abortion Act 1967 has there been such a determined effort to promote universal access to abortion.

Please act now to challenge the government's pro-abortion sexual health agenda in schools.


* read SPUC's new flyer, order a supply and distribute in your area;

* ask local clergy to include SPUC's notice in their next weekly bulletin and announcements, and work with them to distribute the flyer;

* read SPUC's critique Sexual Health in Schools 2009, which explains the government's pro-abortion sexual health agenda in schools;

* write to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, opposing compulsory sex education. Send a copy of your message to your own MP. You can write to them at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or email them (SPUC has details of how to contact your MP);

* write to your local schools. Urge them to oppose the plans to make sex education compulsory. Also ask schools to write to Ed Balls MP (Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families), to the Prime Minister and to the local MP.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

So Sweet !

I do enjoy teaching Year 7. They are still at the stage where they can be awed by simple science. Today I had fun with two small experiments.

In the first, marble chips reacted vigorously with acid, giving off carbon dioxide which could be collected in a little pipette and bubbled through limewater, turning it cloudy: the whispy patterns made in the limewater drew appreciative "ooohs" and "aahhhs".

The second experiment was even more fun: magnesium added to acid, giving off hydrogen gas... which made a satisfyingly squeaky bang when tested with a lit splint!

Monday, 23 November 2009

On A Lighter Note...

This note from a concerned parent to a teacher (not me!) made me chortle out loud, much to the consternation of Sylvester, who rapidly moved away from the vicinity of my ankles. The caption by The Crescat was brilliant: "If she home-schooled, this would never be an issue..."

Nightmare Time...

This story, courtesy of the Daily Mail is absolutely chilling, real nightmare stuff.

Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound.
'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegetative state.

His case has only just been revealed in a scientific paper released by the man who 'saved' him, neurological expert Dr Steven Laureys.
'Medical advances caught up with him,' said Dr Laureys, who believes there may be many similar cases of false comas around the world.

He was so lucky that no-one thought it was in his best interests to die, and so stop feeding him"for his own good."

The claims that anyone is in a 'persistent vegetative state' always sends chills down my spine. As a teenager, I was knocked down by a car and was not expected to live through the night. The next day, the doctors told my mother that I would probably survive, but would be irreversibly brain-damaged. I heard this assessment of my chances, and was desperately trying to communicate with those around me, but couldn't do anything more than make moaning noises. I was terrified. Luckily, my experience was very short-lived. Rom Houben went through this hell for 23 years... all the while, he was able to hear what was happening around him.

Unfortunately, I doubt that this will give the "right to die" contingent any sleepless nights.

Twitch of the mantilla to Matthew Archbold of CMR.

Monday Mayhem...

Sunday, 22 November 2009

St. Cecilia's Day

It's St. Cecilia's feast day today. Unfortunately, today being Sunday, she gets ignored in the Ordinary Form calendar; I was, however, delighted to hear her mentioned in the second collect at the Extraordinary Form Mass we had this morning in Blackfen. It is one of the (many) things I love about the Traditional Latin Mass: that more than one event can be celebrated on any particular day.

Going through a few old posts, I see that I wrote about the story of St. Cecilia's martyrdom a couple of years ago. I don't know is why she became the patron of Church music, but, as I love to sing, and as most of the songs I know are religious, I have a particular affection for St. Cecilia.

In previous years, when I've renewed my vows, I have had the litany of saints recited, and have been able to choose my favourite patrons. This year I shall be having the litany recited according to the older form, and apparently the list is set, so some of the more recent saints won't get a look in. At least St. Cecilia, being one of the early Roman Martyrs, will still be included!

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