Saturday 30 December 2006

Say it with T-Shirts

I enjoyed reading David's amusing post on Catholic evangelisation the American way... Forget "Say it with flowers" this is more "Say it on your T-shirt!"

I think my favourite is the one which reads "What part of 'Hoc Est Corpus Meum' don't you understand?"

And Finally...

Last couple of photos... Here I've captured a picture of South Ashford Priest trying to capture a picture or two for his own blog...

And these two are the fabulous Sisters of the Gospel of Life. Sister Roseann Reddy is on the left and Sister Andrea Fraile (who gave an interesting talk on inter-religious dialogue) is on the right.

I Took More Photos Than I Realised...

A few more photos: Fr Tim Finigan, known to most of you as the prolific and profound blogger of The Hermeneutic of Continuity, gave the third talk of the conference. I noticed that, with typical reticence, he hasn't actually put up much about his own talk, so I shall have to do it for him. The title was "Meeting some common objections: One God or three? How can God have a Son?"

There was a lot of information to take in, but the talk was snappily-paced and had some excellent visual aids (well, what else does one expect from a blog-supremo?) It was fascinating to hear about the beginnings of Islam and how St John Damascene had answered some of the major objections of Islam to Christianity so many centuries ago. I'm sure that his talk (and all of them) will end up on the Faith website - I'll link to it then.

There are countless pictures and artifacts connected with the Reformation and Counter-Reformation - each of the classrooms is named after a saint, many of them the English Martyrs. I discovered my favourite Martyrs' picture in the Campion Room... I have a postcard with it on, but I think this is actually the original:

There are also lots of beautiful statues just dotted around the corridors. I particularly like this one of the Madonna and Child which is outside the entrance to the chapel.

After all that theology, it's necessary to kill off a few brain cells just to redress the balance. Everyone repairs to the bar for some congenial company and good conversation. Failing that, alcohol makes an acceptable substitute...

And here's another photo of Fr Tim... I think it's much more flattering than the one on his own blog...

A Few More Photos

Ok, here are a few more photos. I only seem to be able to upload five at a time, so be patient!!

One of the really great things about Faith Conferences is that there are plenty of opportunities to chat to the priests outside the talks and discussion groups... they're all really approachable. Here we can see Fr Dominic chatting during coffee on the Thursday morning...

It was Fr Mark's birthday, and, as he usually misses out on birthday celebrations because it's so close to Christmas, Melanie arranged a cake. Not a pushover, Fr Mike's first response was "Oh, no candles..." but he quickly changed his tune when Melanie offered to help him wear the cake...

Here you can see him waving a carving knife provided by the ever-obliging kitchen staff who are unfailingly chirpy despite having to cope with over two hundred hungry individuals, and despite getting some very odd requests... several years I had a duck for a hot water bottle, and they hardly batted an eyelid when Egg was handed over with the request to "Fill him up please!" They even noticed when one year I didn't bring him!

Then, especially for Mark who wanted to know how all the priests could possibly fit on such a small sanctuary...

And then there is the ceilidh on the last evening. The photos I have of the dancers are not very good, but they seemed to think that a request to stop dancing while I focussed my phone camera was a tad unreasonable!

Friday 29 December 2006

Photo-Fest !

I arrived home at about 10:30pm - we stopped off for a more leisurely and civilised meal by driving in to Cambridge at about 6:30pm - and I immediately downloaded my photos from my phone and checked my emails and comments on my blog. So now, as promised, I will put up a few of the photos, and I'll continue tomorrow...

First, and most importantly, a couple of photos of Sir Dan of the Nesbitry:

He was very keen to tell me that tomorrow (Saturday) is his birthday - news that he agreed to keep from Fr Tim in order to aid me in my attempts to get a blogging "scoop" ! He wouldn't tell me how old he is, but did suggest that I run a competition in the com-box to see if anyone can guess... so that is this week's challenge!

And then there are two pictures of Sir Dan manning the Faith bookstall: first, the reflective eyeing up of likely customers to gauge whether he can sell them anything...

...and then he moves in for the kill: that poor unsuspecting soul hasn't got a chance of getting away without buying at least one pamphlet!

I mentioned how impressive it was to have 29 priests concelebrating... well, this is what it looked like from the choir-loft:

Ok, I'm shattered. More tomorrow!

Feast of St Thomas of Canterbury

I've read a couple of complaints on other blogs about the "downgrading" of St Thomas to a Commemoration. I don't actually understand what the problem is... in my Breviary it's down as a Feast (admittedly in the section proper to England) and he's identified as Patron of the English Pastoral Clergy, and it has the same format as the other feasts we've celebrated during the Octave...

Obviously some people need to read their Breviaries a little more carefully...


Fond Farewells...

Ok, that's the lot... we've just had a rousing final Mass - with twenty-nine priests concelebrating (yes, I know some of you out there don't think much of concelebration, but trust me, if it's got to be done, then this is the way to do it... Novus Ordo can be so moving when it's done right!!), a deacon, two acolytes and a thurifer... bells and smells a-plenty!

Anyway, I was singing up in the choir-loft, so had a fantastic view... and managed to get some pretty impressive pics on my little phone, all of which shall be downloaded tonight when I arrive home. And in a gesture of incredible magnanimity, I even promised to send some pictures to Fr Tim... mind you, he is normally quite rude about the quality of my phone pictures...

...I suppose it would help if I didn't shake the wretched thing when pressing the button!

I'm just waiting for the lunch queue to go down a bit. Not sure what's on the menu, but it smells promising. And then it'll be time to say goodbyes. It's all whizzed by so quickly, but it's a real tonic for one's "spirituality"... beats enneagrams hands down!

Bloggers' Convention

The Conference has been really good fun. Lots of old friends here to catch up with, and lots of new faces too. The Conference was oversubscribed this year, and people have had to be turned away.

It is amazing just how many people seem to read blogs. It has also been very gratifying, when I have mentioned my blog name, to see a glint of recognition and an exclamation of "Ohhh ! So you're Mulier Fortis..."

It seems that several bloggers are present. Fr Tim has suggested getting a bloggers' photocall arranged at some time. We shall see...

Anyway, I better go. Morning Prayer...

Slightly Miffed...

I guess that it serves me right! I was feeling ever so slightly superior because Fr Tim had forgotten his camera, and I was sure that I'd be able to post loads of pictures from the Faith Winter Conference as soon as I got home... not that I'm being competitve or anything...

...and then, Sir Dan of the Nesbitry dropped the bombshell that Fr Tim was blogging from somewhere in the school...

*sigh* ...there goes my chance of a blogging scoop!

Wednesday 27 December 2006

I'm Switching Off, Really....

...well, just one more post!

I see that Northern Cleric at Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia is dreaming of oak and marble sanctuary floors... so I thought I'd show him a picture or two of my parish church, which is still a work in progress.

First, the High Altar... set up for Benediction. Note the altar rails in the foreground...

And then the Lady Altar (the marble rescued from a reckovation in a nearby parish)

Now, now, Father... remember, envy is a sin!

Baby Jesus Like You've Never Seen Him

I'm off to the Faith Winter Conference tomorrow (well, later today, actually) and so I was having a last visit to all my favourite blogs before turning off the computer (aaarghh! I shall be unable to blog!)

This image over at Laus Crucis stopped me dead in my tracks: having heard Fr Tim's sermon on devotion to the Baby Jesus three times at Mass (with slight variations... Sunday morning, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day), as well as reading it on his blog, it really hit home. I hope that Laus Crucis will not mind me showing the image here:

Tuesday 26 December 2006

Amusing Myself

I have beeen playing around with my computer. I'm delighted to say that my phone appears to be compatable with my PC, and so I can use the phone as a camera... and then I can upload loads more pictures to the blog!

Technology is certainly getting more and more impressive. I remember when mobile phones first hit the streets... (yes, I really am that old!!) ...they were anything BUT pocket-sized. In fact, the battery packs which were needed to power them up were the size of large rucksacks.

My current phone is a Samsung Z400. It's bigger than I would prefer, but it has video capability... and the photos are rather reasonable. When I get my next upgrade the same quality will probably be in a much smaller and sleeker model.

Anyway, I took a photo of the crib in my parish.

And here's a picture (as I promised some time ago) of my cat, Sylvester, who is doing his utmost to eat me out of house and home (in between providing me with mice to play with!)

Monday 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas...

A very blessed and joyful Christmas to you all.

Sunday 24 December 2006

More Festive Merriment

This has to stop. I'm trying to get ready for Midnight Mass. But a friend sent the following to me by email, and I just had to share it with you...

A Wreath for Christmas

When Mary made a holly wreath
The blood ran red - ran red.
Another Mary wove the thorns
That crowned her Master's head.
But the mistletoe was far away
Across a western sea,
And the mistletoe was wreathed around
A pagan apple tree.

In Glastonbury grew a thorn,
When Joseph came to trade.
And the holly bush was common growth
In every wooded glade.
But the mistletoe was sacred where
The sun arose each morn,
And the mistletoe knew nothing of
The Babe in Bethlehem born.

Saint Patrick sailed the stormy seas
To preach the cross - and so
He found Eve's tree - with serpent coiled -
And hung with mistletoe.
"I bid thee, serpent, leave this land,
And open, plant, thine ears."
He preached the tale of Christ - and, lo!
The mistletoe wept tears...

The holly bush has berries red,
Blood-red upon each bough.
The thorn it blooms with golden flowers,
And kissing's fashion now.
What will you give to Christ the Lord,
O pagan bough so green?
"The tears that I have shed for One
Whom I have never seen..."

Let Man then give his life for Man,
The blood-red berries say.
And men have love for fellow men
Where gorse flowers bloom so gay.
And the tears of Man be shed for Man
Where mistletoe gleams white.
Come pity, love and sacrifice...
God bless us all this night.

(Agatha Christie Mallowan)

'Tis the Season to be Jolly...

...and Credo really made my day by posting an encouraging report about the Pro-Life Initiative run by the Sisters of the Gospel of Life.

At the risk of seeming to name-drop, I will just say that the Sister Roseann and Sister Andrea are good friends of mine... with any luck they'll be at the Faith Winter Conference, and I shall get some decent photos of my own instead of having to snaffle other people's!

Anyway, you can read the article HERE and there is a podcast to be had HERE.

"Favourites" Meme

I see that the Dúnadan has put out a universal tag for this meme... and I'm feeling neglected and am convinced that no-one will tag me this side of 2007, so I shall count myself tagged...

(well, it's more fun than housework)

Your Favourite Film?

Tricky one. My all-time favourite film has got to be Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. I saw it at the cinema nine times. And then I bought the DVD. It's only a tricky one because of the next category...

Your Favourite Film with a Religious theme?

Umm... I suppose that I can't have the same film as last time? OK, I'll plump for Bernadette. It's actually a French film, directed by Jean Delannoy, and starring Sydney Penny. They shot the film on location, and used local Pyrennées actors.

Your Favourite Film Priest?

I guess that has to be Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (played by Gregory Peck) in The Scarlet and the Black.

Your Favourite Film Nun?

Well, since I only know of two film nuns, it's an easy choice. It just has to be Bernadette (played by Sidney Penny) but I'm not cheating - it's in the sequel: The Passion of Bernadette because she isn't actually a nun in the first film!!

(The other nun was Maria in The Sound of Music which doesn't really count !)

Ok, I shall tag the Catholic Cavemen, the Scorpion Stalking Duck and Orthfully Catholic.

Good Decision

In the end I plumped for the 10:30am High Mass option. I've only just got back (having stopped for a cup of tea in the parish hall - I knew I wouldn't be able to resist the chance for a chin-wag!) and now I have to crack on and sort out my flat.

It was definitely the right choice... all the incense, and hymns, and children getting excited, and a cracking good hymn by Fr Faber (Like the dawning of the morning)... I'm feeling all Christmassy!

Scotland the Brave

Something happening north of the border?

This morning I noticed a new blog (a genuinely new one, that is, not just one I hadn't spotted before) as I tracked back through some of the comments on other blogs. Mark, who describes himself as a Scotsman who works for the police, has started Rise and Pray, on which he promises to start posting properly in 2007... though he just couldn't resist putting up the odd snippet!

And then the tired PP from Valle Adurni has noticed that the Scottish Cardinal has been flexing his muscles (I'd be interested to hear what the clerical equivalent of muscle-flexing might be... have a go in the com-box!!) Anyway, Pastor in Valle has spotted an encouraging article in the Scotsman

Beyond that, there is the question of our identity and self-perception. A medieval peasant, living in harsh conditions, believed his soul was immortal. That gave him an immeasurable dignity and a huge sense of responsibility: the need to ensure his salvation for all eternity. Today, when a Nobel prize-winner will most likely believe he will end his existence at the moment of death, like a cat or a dog, such a reduced self-esteem must have enormous implications for humanity in the developed world. We have gained some 30 years of life expectancy through advances in medicine, and lost an eternity.

Christians, however, have retained that dignity. Unlike God, we had a beginning; but, for better or worse, we believe part of us will continue to exist throughout eternity. That is an awesome concept which must radically influence any believer's perception of himself, investing him with a majestic cosmic destiny. That is the background to tonight's salutation of the Saviour, as lyrically expressed in the prayer at Midnight Mass, taken from Psalm 109: "With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints from the womb before the day-star I begot thee."

...and then there are all those Scots who blog! The Scots who turn up for the Faith Winter Conference in Stonyhurst and the Faith Summer Session at Woldingham are a pretty neat bunch too...

...must be something genetic! (Did I mention I was half Scottish?)

Harvington Hall

Many thanks to Matt Doyle at Lacrimarum Valle for reminding me about this wonderful house. I had visited it with a group from Maryvale, but it had been a busy week, and I wasn't able to remember the name of the house, though it was a very moving experience.

The ingenuity of the priests' holes is just breathtaking. I would recommend a visit for anyone remotely interested in British Recusant history.

Delightful Decisions

Normally I go to the 6pm Sunday Mass. I started to go to it because I needed one day in the week when I had the opportunity to oversleep. The 6pm Sunday Mass is the quietest (no hymns) and most prayerful. And then I got roped in to helping set up and clearing away (and doing the preparations for Monday morning Mass)... I say "roped in," but don't get me wrong, I'm a willing conscript: I get to find out about all the beautiful vestments and sacred vessels and stuff (Fr Tim has very good taste), and there is a slight sense that by helping to prepare things, I am imitating one of my heroes, St Anne Line.

But, being Christmas Eve, today we don't have a 6pm Mass. So to fulfil my Sunday obligation I have to choose between the 9am and the 10:30am. I didn't know whether I'd wake up in time for the earlier Mass, but it would seem my Guardian Angel is on overtime...

9am is the "children's" Mass, and it has the advantage of finishing by 9:50am, leaving me plenty of time to get sorted for Christmas (and I've got loads of housework to do.) The 10:30am is "High" Mass (and I won't be home before midday), but it has the choir and incense... and Father sings the Asperges...

Actually, now I've thought about it, I'm experiencing incense cravings...
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