Saturday, 2 October 2010

Anniversary Of The Dedication Of The Church...

As promised, I had my proper camera with me at Mass today.

The weather was more like November than October, which messed up the lighting conditions, and, in retrospect, I would probably have been better off using the monopod. However, my knee is really painful in the cold, damp weather - I also think I strained it when carrying Sylvester to and from my car on his numerous visits to the vet last weekend - and I couldn't be bothered with a monopod as well as the crutches.

There was a wedding booked for the afternoon. The bride had been asked by the Sacristan to honour the floral colour scheme already chosen to decorate the church this weekend (yellow and white for the Holy Father and blue for Our Lady) and so the pews were adorned with yellow roses (and some white flowers) and some tree-like constructions were in evidence. This caused me some amusement, as I reflected what Sylvester would have done with them...

The schola was in good voice, and the Mass was wonderful - but then, it always is. Today was the anniversary of the consecration of the church of Our Lady of the Rosary. As a result, Fr. Tim's sermon touched on the need to keep churches as a sacred space, dedicated for the worship of God.

It was also the Feast of the Guardian Angels today. In the Ordinary Form this would have been completely superseded by the anniversary of the dedication of the parish church, but, in the Extraordinary Form, the Guardian Angels got commemorated as well, which is something I love... (I hasten to point out that the Guardian Angels were commemorated at Vespers, and not at Mass...)

We then went in to the Parish Club for a burger - the bar was also open for anyone who fancied a little liquid refreshment... I wasn't in the mood, so stuck to tea and coca cola... not at the same time, you understand...

The main wedding party arrived in a couple of rather nice cars - and I couldn't resist popping out to catch them on camera... One of the chauffeurs offered to take a picture of me beside the cars... I quickly explained that I loathe having my photo taken, and that his photographic skills would therefore not be required...

And then it was time for Vespers... I think I'm getting better at singing psalm tones: I was able to join in with most of them.

After Vespers, we went straight on to Benediction...

I love the way everyone bows at the line "veneremur cernui" in the Tantum ergo...

And then the Benediction itself...

A wonderful start to the month of October. Tomorrow we have a Marian Procession in the afternoon (3pm). I just hope that the weather is a bit drier than today...

Friday, 1 October 2010

October Devotions...

October being the month of the Holy Rosary, it is obviously an important one in the parish of Blackfen. Tomorrow (Saturday) is the anniversary of the consecration of the church, and it coincides with our monthly Missa Cantata. After Mass, there will be lunch in the Parish Club, and then Sung Vespers at 3pm.

Sunday is Rosary Sunday, and, to celebrate, we're having a Marian Procession at 3pm.

The following Thursday, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, there will be a Solemn High Mass at 8pm. Brother Lawrence Lew will be preaching - and getting a Dominican to preach on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary seems rather appropriate... Brother Lawrence is, if I am not mistaken, a deacon at the moment. He has a keen interest in photography, and has taken some awesome photos over the years. I think he still posts via Godzdogz, but I'm not sure if he has his own blog. His photos can, however, be admired on Flickr. I am extremely jealous, because, as a cleric, he has such amazing photo opportunities...

Some of the ladies were preparing the flowers for the next few days, and decorating a bier for the statue of Our Lady. It was fascinating to see it take shape. Sadly, it was decided that actually dressing up the statue in all its finery would be impractical for the procession, so decoration would be limited to flowers and perhaps a rosary. To annoy me further, I didn't have my snazzy camera to hand, but my iPhone camera was put to good use. However, I shall be armed with the Canon over the next few days, and will be sure to take plenty of photos.

In the meantime...


As I said, tomorrow I shall get "proper" photos...

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Getting To The Heart Of The Matter...

This has to be one of the best letters I have seen on the issue of abortion. It was written by a London-based Baptist minister in response to the controversy over the airing of TV ads for Marie Stopes International. Mike Gilbart Smith wrote the letter back in May 2010, and received an acknowledgement and a promise of a full and detailed reply to his questions.

As yet, the promised reply still doesn't appear to have arrived...

I'm reproducing the whole letter, because it is quite an eye-opener, even for people like me, who have a little scientific background to help understand how awful abortion really is...

Dear Tony,

I’m writing as a pastor of a church who is going to be addressing the issue of abortion in my teaching and in some upcoming articles in the light of your recent advertising. I want to make sure that I would not be misrepresenting you in any way at all, though I should make clear to you that I do believe that abortion, and particularly providing abortion is immoral.

However, I also want to be as courteous as I can with those with whom I disagree. I do not want to assume bad motivation for what you are doing. I understand the arguments of wanting to provide “safe” (obviously for the mother and not the baby) abortion when your fear is that if “safe” abortion were not provided, then back street abortion would inevitably be sought. The compassion you show to mothers I believe to be genuine, but misplaced.

I do happen to agree with what I heard a Marie Stopes spokesperson say when she was hoping that there would be a removing of the taboo about speaking about abortion. I too hope that this taboo will be removed so that there can be an honest public debate about abortion.

To contribute to this debate I hope to write some articles about abortion and about Marie Stopes in particular. There is much information on your website, but there were some questions that I didn’t find answers to, which I would be very grateful if you’d answer.

I must also be clear that intend to distribute your answers.

If you would rather meet in person to have a face to face conversation, I would also be very glad to do that.

(I will use the term “mother” for the pregnant woman). Feel free to exchange the term for “Pregnant woman” if you would prefer that term, or to use another term of your choosing.

1) When speaking to a mother will you always make it clear exactly what help is available to mothers who decide to keep the baby.
2) What ongoing support do you offer to mothers who decide to keep the baby?
3) Do you always ask mothers if they are feeling pressurised into having abortions from others (e.g. boyfriends, husbands, parents, or the general expectations of society)?
(Several women whom I have spoken to who have had abortions have told me that they felt immense pressure that in a society where abortion is legal, there will be people telling them that having an abortion is “doing the right thing” and that it is irresponsible to have the baby.)
4) Do you always suggest to mothers that it is never irresponsible to carry a baby and give birth once they are pregnant?
5) I’ve noticed in your FAQ’s that in more than sixty questions there is a lot of information about abortion, but there is no information on the development of the foetus. Do you think that the developmental stage of the foetus should be a factor that a mother should be informed about in order to have adequate information in making a decision as to whether to have an abortion?
6) I understand that you must legally have a sonographic scan before an abortion is carried out. What details from that scan will you always communicate to the mother so that she might make a correctly informed decision?
     (a) Will you always tell the mother the estimated age of the foetus?
     (b) Will you always tell the mother what this corresponds to in terms of development?
     (c) Could you outline the detail that you would go into as to the development of the foetus, with the following being a suggestive rather than an exhaustive list?
          (i) Will you tell the mother whether there is a heartbeat?
          (ii) Will you tell the mother whether the child has a brain?
          (iii) Will you tell the mother whether the child has a limbs and fingers and fingernails?
          (iv) Will you tell the mother whether the child has ears eyes and a nose?
          (v) Will you tell the mother which internal organs of the child are functional?
          (vi) Will you tell the mother the gender of the foetus if that is discernable?
     (d) If you don’t volunteer that information do you always ask the mother if she would be interested in knowing the facts about the foetus’ development in order to help her make her decision?
7) Do you have a policy in training staff that they avoid the terms “baby” or “child” in reference to the foetus?
8) Do you have a policy encouraging staff to use the term “pregnancy” instead of “foetus” or an equivalent term that would point to the fact that there is an organism other than the mother involved in the pregnancy?
9) Do you have a position as an organisation about when a human embryo/foetus becomes a human being?
10) Do you think that it would be morally acceptable to provide abortion even if you believed the foetus was already a human being?
11) If infanticide were legalised in some country, would you offer that as a service?
12) What is the minimum time allowed for a proper counselling session to look through all possible options before going ahead with an abortion?
13) How much did the NHS pay you last year to carry out abortions?
14) Do you think that there is any conflict of interest in Marie Stopes providing advice on whether a mother should have an abortion when Marie Stopes is paid for providing abortions?
15) In order to get your email address I phoned the 0845 300 80 90 number. Will my call automatically be counted in your statistics as being from a woman who called for advice but didn’t receive an abortion?
16) If a woman calls your line twenty times, will they be “counted” on your statistics of the number of women you’ve helped once or twenty times?
17) If after an abortion, the baby (I assume we can now use this term without controversy as she is outside the womb) shows some signs of life, do you have a policy stating that the medical personnel present should act to resuscitate? Do you have a policy saying that they may not act to resuscitate?
18) Would you carry out an abortion if the stated reason given by the woman was that she wanted a boy, and this foetus is a girl?
19) If asked would you carry out a selective abortion in order to remove the healthy girl from the womb and leave the healthy boy in the womb?
20) In your five abortion clinics in China, what proportion of those who are aborted are girls?

Thank you so much for your willingness to answer these questions. In removing the taboo from conversation about abortion I trust that you are wanting honest, open and informed debate. I hope that you taking the time to answer these questions will add to the honesty and help to remove the taboo from the abortion conversation.

Perhaps if you want to add to the honesty of the debate you’d also be happy to post the answers you give on your own website?

Many thanks,

Mike Gilbart-Smith

As I said, a simply brilliant letter.

Twitch of the mantilla to Maria Stops Abortion.

The Blogroll...

I used to use Bloglines for managing my blogrolls. It was easy to update, and relatively trouble free. Prior to that, I'd used Blogrolling - but it had too many problems, so I switched.

Alas, all good things come to an end... Bloglines decided that it had to cease operating, and so I'm a little bit stuck. I had all my blogs arranged in easy to sort categories, and, by dint of ruthless culling, I didn't have too many inactive blogs on the system... However, I can't seem to find a suitable vehicle.

Blogger's version of the blogroll is rather clunky. I shall play around with it, but, at the moment I seem to be stuck with just the one massive blogroll. The only thing that stops it going on for half a mile is the fact that I managed to disable the update notifications.

Please be patient while I try to sort the whole mess out...

UPDATE: I think, by dint of messing about with Google Reader, that I have succeeded in sorting the whole thing out... then again, maybe not. If I appear to have removed you from the roll, and you think I've made a mistake, let me know in the com box!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Catholic Pick-Up Lines...

This brought a smile to my lips...

Catholic Pick-Up Line Song from on Vimeo.

Twitch of the mantilla to Christopher.

UPDATE: It seems that people have been trying to make money from the video without crediting the original source, so the embedding code for the video has been pulled. The video can still be watched over at the Vimeo website...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Fond Memories...

Today, after hearing the news about Sylvester, I happened to walk past a KFC, and I nearly went in and bought a portion of chicken, until I realised that I had no-one to share it with

Sylvester and I had this little arrangement.

I love the skin on KFC but I'm not too keen on the actual chicken. It's ok, but a little bit tasteless. I'm not sure what Sylvester thought about the spices on the skin as I never gave him the option, but he certainly loved the chicken. If I brought a KFC takeaway into the flat, he'd be right there at my feet, begging for a bit of the chicken.

Bittersweet memories...

Late Kitty News...

I brought Sylvester to the vet as planned this morning. I talked things over with the vet, because I didn't want to be selfish, and keep trying absolutely everything despite the stress it would cause.

The vet was very reassuring, and said that, although there was a risk with the anaesthetic because of Sylvester's age, he definitely stood a good chance of making a full recovery.

He was given a sedative (the cat, not the vet!) and I left with instructions to call after 2pm.

Sadly, the people at the clinic called me back at about 12noon to say that Sylvester had passed away. Although he'd started to recover from the anaesthetic and seemed to be ok, they thought his heart just gave out... and they reassured me that he would have been so zonked with the painkillers that he wouldn't have been in any distress.

So, it's RIP Sylvester... I thought I'd share a few of the photos I have of him.

Many thanks for all the messages of support, prayers and best wishes for him over the weekend - they're much appreciated. Normal non-cat-related blogging will recommence shortly...

Monday, 27 September 2010

More About Sylvester...

Well, we went back to the vet again today. It was decided that Sylvester does need an X-ray, as he might have a fractured pelvis (a hairline fracture) and the vet will also do something about an ulcer on his eye - we've been treating it with eyedrops, which has helped, but it's slow going... and, since Sylvester needs an anaesthetic anyway, it seems sensible to try and sort it out at the same time.

It sounds heartless, but I am wondering whether this is really the best thing for Sylvester. He is 17 years old (or thereabouts) and he found today's visit to the vet very traumatic. The previous emergency visits have been at night, when no-one else was around. Today we were surrounded by lots of people and very noisy dogs, and the poor cat seemed rather freaked out by the whole thing.

We go back to the vet tomorrow morning, when he'll be given the anaesthetic... I shall try and encourage Sylvester to eat a little before I have to make him go nil-by-mouth.

Thanks for the prayers and messages of support. Hopefully I'll have some good news tomorrow...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sylvester Update...

Thanks for the concern about Sylvester's progress. This morning he seemed a little stiffer than he had been yesterday - I assumed that the painkillers had worn off.

Unfortunately, he attempted to jump down from the kitchen counter by the cat flap, and promptly flopped over onto his side with a cry of pain. I have the sneaking suspicion that he's done something similar to me, either tearing a muscle or a ligament. Just now, when I checked on him, he started yowling, and then he sought refuge in the cat basket: I have a feeling that I shall have to keep him caged up in it for a few days.

I've just phoned the emergency vet near me, and have been instructed to bring him over in about an hour for some more painkillers and a further checking over...

UPDATE: Just back from the vet - Sylvester really didn't like the poor lady and hissed and spat... rather ungrateful of him, since she gave him more painkillers. I have to bring him back tomorrow for further assessment.
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