Saturday, 14 August 2010

Happy Feast Day!

I love the Feast of the Assumption. Tomorrow morning we shall have our Missa Cantata (and yes, Patricius, probably with loads of lace!) and the statue of Our Lady will have been dressed, and there will be flowers galore...

I have recharged my camera battery (and the spare) and made sure that it's packed in my bag, so I can't forget it in the rush to get to Mass in the morning. I haven't taken any decent photos for a while, so watch this space... and this blog!

Wimbledon Common Vigil...

As I said before, the atmosphere of anticipation around the Papal Visit is starting to move up a gear.

The Knights of St. Columba have decided to organise a two-hour candlelight vigil on Wimbledon Common, opposite the Apostolic Nunciature, which will be the Holy Father's residence while he is in London.

The Vigil is intended to be a relaxed and informal affair: standing along the edge of the Common (Parkside, A219) people will sing a few well-known hymns, pray the rosary, and, at twilight, light candles (which will be provided by the Knights) as a sign to our Holy Father that "the Catholic Faith shines bright in England - Our Lady's Dowry" and to demonstrate love and support of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

The Vigil will be on Saturday 18th September, 6:30pm - 8:30pm.

(Nearest tube stations are Putney Bridge or Wimbledon, and then take the 93 bus to Parkside Hospital, on the corner of Parkside and Alfreton Close.)

Friday, 13 August 2010

Losing My Marbles...

The damp weather is making my knee ache quite a bit, so, after I arrived back home this afternoon, I thought I might have a little lie down.

As I hobbled into my darkened bedroom (opening the curtains in the morning is just one thing I've left off my list of priorities right now) I saw that Sylvester was curled up asleep on the bed.

I sat down carefully near him, careful not to jolt him awake, and spoke soothingly so he wouldn't be startled out of his nap.

I then realised that it wasn't the cat, but I was saying sweet nothings to my crumpled up black t-shirt...

I don't know which is worse, having such bad eyesight so as to mistake the t-shirt for the cat, or taking such pains not to disturb the cat when he's having a nap...

Oh, and before you think I've really lost the plot, the photo is of Sylvester on another napping occasion...

Another Blog To Add To The Roll...

There are just so many blogs that need to be followed. Even my Google Reader account is becoming unwieldy, and the lengths of my blogrolls are getting ridiculous. The problem is that I want to be able to find great stuff again, and my memory just isn't what it once was...

I shall be carrying out a cull and a reordering of the roll shortly.

In the meantime, check out the Musings of a Pertinacious Papist (though, of course, it is possible that you found him some time ago...)

It seems that he liked my Laywoman's Guide to the Usus Antiquior.

Gosh. Now there's a trip down Memory Lane.

The Allure & Reality Of Sin...

Trawling through my SiteMeter referrals, I stumbled across a new blog for me, Apostolate of the Laity. Apostolate posted an article by Monsignor Charles Pope, of the Archdiocese of Washington, on the disguises of Satan, and the allure of sin.

"It would be easy if Satan came as he is often portrayed, with horns and a pitchfork. We would naturally flee this ugliness.

"Alas, he often comes cloaked in beauty, in sheep’s clothing. He claims to offer us freedom and autonomy from an unreasonable God and Church, liberation from rules and being 'told what to do.' He cloaks himself in the false righteousness of being 'tolerant' and 'not judging others.'

"...Beware, Satan has many disguises and he seldom presents as he really is. The movie The Passion of the Christ brilliantly presented Satan in the Garden. At first there was almost a strange beauty. But a closer look revealed increasingly hideous details: cold, fixed eyes, sharp and discolored nails, sickly pale skin, suddenly androgynous qualities, and a disgusting maggot crawling in and out of the nose. An audible moan came from the audience in the theatre where I first saw it. Would that, beyond the movie, we could sense this revulsion and clarity as to the evil of Satan and his truest reality."

He finishes up with this video, which sums it up brilliantly.

But go and read the rest of the piece.

If Igniter Media sounds vaguely familiar, it's because they also did the powerful "That's my King! Do you know Him?" video.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Papal Visit Team To Visit Blackfen...

...ok, ok... it's the Southwark Papal Visit Team bloggers, James Blythe and Daniella Adams, who will be visiting Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen this Sunday.

It is, of course, the Feast of the Assumption, and so our 10:30am Mass will be a Missa Cantata - our August Masses are usually Low Masses so that the choir and organist can have a well-earned break.

James and Daniella are doing exactly what is needed for the Holy Father's visit: blogging, Facebooking and (they will be) live-tweeting, just to help keep us all abreast of what's happening.

I'm getting more and more excited.

Yes, I know there have been problems. Time to move on. Don't mention the CD...

But the visit's getting closer! The Holy Father will be visiting the UK! (Well, ok, a couple of bits of Scotland and England... sorry to Northern Ireland and Wales, but that's the way the cookie crumbles and gets stomped on and totally obliterated... no hard feelings, eh?)

If you want to start off the countdown in style, come over to Blackfen for 10:30am Mass this Sunday!

Directions via the Parish Website.

I bet the blog post title had you going for a minute, didn't it?

Help Save The Babies Now !

The Good Counsel Network does an amazing job of counselling women who are thinking of having an abortion, for whatever reason. It puts up adverts in underground stations, and these are not cheap. It also provides material support for women who would otherwise see an abortion as the only way to survive. This is also not cheap. The Network sends out letters asking supporters for donations to help meet the bills. The postage costs money too...

This month things are so incredibly tight financially that the Good Counsel Network is unable to send out all the fundraising appeal letters...

It desperately needs to raise £2,500 just to make ends meet. People are doing sponsored walks, and other activities, but more help is needed now.

If you are in a position to help financially, please consider giving money to this very worthwhile cause. By doing so, there is absolutely no doubt that you will help to save the lives of unborn children.

Things are difficult financially for many people at the moment - if you are unable to help materially, then please, please, help with prayer.

Pray the novena to St. Philomena that the funds will be raised to help the Good Counsel Network continue its life-saving work.

Novena Prayer to St Philomena

O Faithful Virgin and Glorious Martyr, St Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowing, have pity on me. Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of my needs. Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity, O great Saint! Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favourable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before thee – that Good Counsel may raise the money it needs and that as many lives as possible will be saved through their work (add your own intentions). I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the passion and death of Jesus, thy spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee, and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His Saints. Amen.

Mantilla-twitch to Maria Stops Abortion.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Murdoch The Philosopher...

That's Iris, you understand, not Rupert...

As a "proper" author, with my name in print (yes, well, ok... one chapter!) I am always keen to plug any of my friends who have a similar literary bent... (meaning that I like to bask in their reflected glory, but let's gloss over that little point...)

Dr. Miles Leeson, Lecturer in English Literature at Portsmouth University, has written Iris Murdoch: Philosophical Novelist, a book about some of her fictional and philosophical works, which particularly considers how "...the history of philosophy is more prevalent in Iris Murdoch's fiction than is usually given credit..."

As I explained to Miles, (that's him on the right of the photo, taken during the Faith Summer Break a few years back) I once attempted to read a book by Iris Murdoch - so long ago that I forget which - and never made it to the end of the first chapter. However, I suspect that this says more about me than it does about her writing, and reading the introduction to Leeson's work has actually spurred me on to give her another go. This is no mean feat - to paraphrase someone or other, philosophy is a closed book to me, and, if I had my way, a burned and buried one too...

The book is published by Continuum Press, but is £3 cheaper on Amazon. This is not a light read - it is more an in-depth analysis for students of English Literature and Philosophy, and this is reflected in the price (£57 for the hardback on Amazon) - I shall, however, look forward to its release in paperback!

Opera On The Hop...

Now, why doesn't this ever happen to me when I'm hanging around Victoria Station or Bluewater?

Twitch of the mantilla to His Hermeneuticalness!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Meme Mutation !

Back in July, I was a little out of inspiration, and I decided to start a meme asking for people's favourite prayers. The Church is universal, and so is the blogosphere, and what with the mix of reverts, converts and cradle Catholics who blog, I was sure that there would be a few interesting prayers brought to light.

I had deliberately excluded the Mass and other Liturgy, as we all know how much everyone wants to get the right answer, and, of course, the Mass is the greatest prayer, etc. etc. That being excluded, it left people free to explore other prayers.

I use Google Reader to keep my finger on the blogging pulse, and I was surprised (and delighted) to see how popular the meme became... and it brought a few new blogs to my attention as well!

Within ten days, someone who hadn't been paying attention tagged me for the meme...

Now it's moved on. I saw that there was a Favourite Devotions meme, (only this has five favourite devotions), doing the rounds. I wondered if this was a case of Chinese Whispers, and so I did a bit of sleuthing...

Sure enough, Anne, (Imprisoned in my Bones) has 5 devotions, and no rules. She was tagged by NC Sue (In Him we live and move and have our being) who was tagged by Cathy (A bit of the Blarney) who was tagged by Esther G (A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.)

Now Esther noticed that the Mass wasn't allowed - so top marks for paying attention.

Esther was tagged by Matt (I think) of Big C Catholics, who didn't post any rules, so Esther really gets a gold star for doing her homework. Matt was tagged by Jeff, the Curt Jester who, in addition to not posting any reasons for his favourite prayers, complained about the term "meme" !

Jeff was tagged by Julie D (Happy Catholic), who in turn was tagged by the Ironic Catholic - who called it a Dog Day Summer Meme. So disrespectful!

Ironic Catholic was tagged by Mary O'Regan (The Path Less Taken), but Mary actually had the correct rules published AND limited herself to THREE devotions... and although she was tagged by someone else, she mentioned that I started it all (or maybe she was blaming me!)

So it's Ironic Catholic who gets 100 lines and a half-hour detention for mutating my meme...

Just in case anyone is interested, Mary was tagged by Kate (At Home In My Father's House), who was tagged by Fr. John Boyle (Caritas in Veritate) who complained, Scrooge-like, that he didn't do memes, and then promptly went and gave five prayers instead of three, so that's another detention. Fr. John was tagged by Karen (Gem of the Ocean), who was tagged by Dominic Mary (Libera Me) who was tagged by me.

Of course, it's still whizzing about out there, as each person tagged was asked to tag five others, so, if you've completed the meme and haven't been mentioned, feel free to give a link to your post in the com-box!

Pope Benedict In Southwark 2010...

As I said before, things are gearing up for the Papal Visit. The Southwark Archdiocese Papal Visit Team have started up their own blog, Pope Benedict in Southwark 2010, which aims to provide information and conversation about the forthcoming Apostolic and State Visit of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI to Britain. They intend particularly to focus on the involvement of priests and laity from Southwark.

The blog is being run by two volunteers, James Blythe and Daniella Adams, and they intend to help build up a sense of what's happening using various media. They have already set up a Facebook page, My Papal Visit 2010, which is meant to compliment the official page, The Papal Visit, with a slightly more interactive and relaxed approach. Obviously James and Daniella are hoping that people will pop over and become fans of both pages.

Daniella will also be setting up a twitter feed during the visit, and will tweet regularly on the Papal events.

It's a great way to keep up with what is happening - for example, the latest wall post at the time I'm writing this on the My Papal Visit 2010 page had the message "If any young people missed on tickets to see the Holy Father at Hyde Park, comment here and we can get you one!"

They have definitely got a finger on the pulse of what is happening in Southwark - they even clocked that Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen has had suggestions for how to prepare for the Papal Visit. So pop on over and explore...

Monday, 9 August 2010

Reflecting On The Incarnation...

It does seem rather unseasonal to be reflecting on the Incarnation, but it was triggered off by the Faith talks at the Summer Session, by the word Incarnadine from my last post.

The Scotist view of the Incarnation really does make more sense than the Thomist one. It gives a beauty and dignity to Creation; the idea that the world was made for Christ, and the Church, his Bride, was prepared for him before the Creation of the world.

For the three of you not in the know, the Scotist view was that of Blessed John Duns Scotus, and championed by the Franciscans, that Jesus Christ would have become Incarnate even if there had been no Fall. The Thomist view, that of St. Thomas Aquinas, and defended by the Dominicans, was that Jesus became Incarnate because of the Fall.

If God made us matter and spirit, then there must have been a reason. After all, God created the angels out of love and gave them free will... and they were just spirit. Why bother making creatures which were both matter and spirit unless he intended His Son to become Incarnate so as to be able to communicate with us as matter and spirit? And therefore to bring us to the fullness of life, not just to save us from our sins.

Obviously, the Fall threw a spanner in the works, and therefore we did not recognise Christ when he came: we rejected his message, and he had to undergo the Cross.

Sorry... just musing out loud. It's been a weird sort of day.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

More On MacMillan...

Now that I've had the chance to catch up on sleep, I thought I'd put up another post about the Guest Speaker at this year's Faith Summer Session.

I think I am the sort of person a real artiste dreads: "I don't know anything about music/art/literature etc., but I know what I like..." - I was steered into the Sciences early on (my natural inclination) and remained a complete Philistine in other areas.

So I hadn't heard much about James MacMillan. I'd heard his name mentioned a few times, always very positively, and knew that he was a composer of some standing. He then wrote a letter to The Bitter Pill protesting about their disgraceful treatment of Fr. Tim Finigan, followed by another one in defence of bloggers, and he went up even higher in my estimation.

Then I heard he had been chosen to compose a Mass setting for the Papal Visit, using the new English translation, and I realised that he was a very big noise indeed, as is borne out by the Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers' biography.

We have sung the same Mass setting at Faith conferences for quite a few years now, and I was vaguely aware that it was referred to as "the MacMillan Mass" - it only occurred to me as James MacMillan took a seat in the chapel that this was the very same MacMillan... and the congregation were going to be singing his Mass setting... and he'd probably want to throttle someone by the end of it... In actual fact, he was an extremely engaging and unassuming man, with the most gorgeous Scots' accent and a gentle but penetrating wit. He even has the good taste to read this blog (albeit only occasionally... but then he is a very busy man!)

James' talk, on how music can be used as a tool for evangelisation, was fascinating, though quite a lot of information was packed into a very short time. I need (and want) to listen to it again in more detail - it should be available for download on the Faith website quite soon.

The final part of his talk was on some of his own work which had caused a bit of a stir because it was so very clearly pro-life in its message. James went through three parts of a work he had done in collaboration with Michael Symmons Roberts - Quickening. He read out the texts, and explained some of the background and meaning, and finished up by playing a recording of the first part (he read them in reverse order, something I only knew because I'd typed the text onto PowerPoint slides for him) - Incarnadine.

It really moved me, and in the few minutes between the end of the talk and the start of questions I chatted to my neighbour, who had been equally affected. The text itself (of which I'd had a preview, as I'd typed!) was enough to make one sit up and take notice, but put together with the music, it simply blew me away. I hope I'm not infringing copyright by quoting a few of the phrases which really jumped out at me:

"This is love’s alchemy, mercurial,
what risk to bring another pair of hands
into the world!..."

"...Yet this new life is our elixir,
this soft dividing pearl is our great price."

"Incarnadine, vermillion, crimson;
that night your words were made flesh I became
a hummingbird trapped in a scarlet room,
whose wings beat so quickly they cannot be seen."

I love the way that several well-known phrases are turned upside-down - "another mouth to feed," "the pearl of great price," "the Word was made flesh." Unfortunately, I wasn't able to track down any recording of the work on YouTube, so, if you really want to hear it, you'll just have to go and buy it from Amazon or iTunes (I did!)

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