Saturday 10 February 2007

The Next Harry Potter Book?

Oho! Ironic Catholic is in her element... she has scooped the plot of the next Harry Potter... or maybe not!

Whatever... check it out HERE.

Lessons I Have Learned

...or not.

Vanity of vanities, said Ecclesiastes: vanity of vanities, and all is vanity.

Allow me to recommend Ecclesiastes 1:11 for a follow-up... "There is no remembrance of former things: nor indeed of those things which hereafter are to come, shall there be any remembrance with them that shall be in the latter end."

It happens to me every time I decide to do my hair... ok, so what have I learned today?

Lesson 1. When dying hair, remember that Light Ash Blonde and Ash Blonde are not the same colour.

Lesson 2. If it says on the box "leave in for 20 minutes" then that is how long you leave it... not "about thirty minutes, oh hell is it forty minutes already?"

Lesson 3. Taking iron tablets for a month causes the hair chemistry to react differently with hair dye...


St. Alphonsus would probably have a few choice words to say on the matter as well!

Waiting To Die

...ooops, sorry, that should have read "dye" ! I'm having one of my madder days. I had my hair cut a week ago, and the hairdresser thought it looked really nice. I had to agree with her, because she had put in a lot of effort, and would have been ever so disappointed if I had told the truth and said that I thought she'd made a right pig's ear of it.

Anyway, with it being so much shorter, and very layered, the roots are showing up more than ever, so I deemed it necessary to enhance the shade a little. And since I had thirty minutes to kill while I waited for it to develop, I decided to explore the blog a little...

John Browne's Blog is well worth a visit. He seems to be blogging from Wales, though he's only studying there. It also looks as though he's thinking about the priesthood, so that's another vocation I need to add to my prayer list. I have to say that blogging is certainly encouraging for us lay Catholics... there are so many good and faithful priests, seminarians and possible seminarians who blog. The majority of the old stick-in-the-mud, doom-and-gloom, we-must-plan-for-a dwindling-church merchants are technophobes... so they stick to liturgy commission meetings and so on...


Way To Go, Russell Crowe...!

I don't normally bother to pay attention to what actors are up to. But this was definitely a good move, and worth a mention...

Russell Crowe says his rugby league club's cheerleading squad is being cut because skimpily clad cheerleaders detract from the game and make spectators uncomfortable.

The Oscar-winning actor, who is part-owner in the South Sydney Rabbitohs club, said the club had become concerned that the cheerleaders - whose uniform includes fishnet stockings and tasseled miniskirts in the white, green and red team colors - were inappropriate entertainment.

"It makes women uncomfortable and it makes blokes who take their son to the football also uncomfortable," Crowe was quoted as saying in News Ltd. newspapers Friday.

"We examined game day and wanted to contemporize and make the focus (on) football," he said.

A team of percussionists will replace the cheerleaders, the club announced this week. The club's Web site invited drummers to audition.

Crowe, a longtime Rabbitohs supporter, helped save the club from obscurity a few years ago before buying a major stake in 2006.

He won an Oscar in 2001 for "Gladiator." The 42-year-old actor has also received Oscar nominations for "The Insider" and "A Beautiful Mind."

Russell has gone way up in my estimation!

Mantilla-twitch in Ma Beck's direction... she must be getting fairly twitchy herself, as the arrival of Baby Beck approaches!

Friday 9 February 2007

When I Become Pope..., don't panic, Captain Mainwaring! I haven't thrown off my mantilla and gotten ideas above my station... I've actually spotted a new board game, courtesy of Ttony in The Muniment Room.

VATICAN - the Board Game is made up of:

- A fold out game board where the life and career of the aspiring cardinal is played out.

- A total of 286 cards including: Career Events cards which describe events that impact a cardinal's career; Take a Stand cards which require players to choose positions on critical issues facing today’s church and address the issues from a historical perspective; Electoral Run-Up cards which present the opportunities and perils cardinals face in the critical days before a papal election; and Conclave cards which detail important events that determine actual voting in the conclave.

- Six cardinal game pieces; choose the one that best reflects your personality.

Heheheh... I bagsy the one on the far right... I like the biretta!

The Incorruptibles

I haven't quite finished reading the sermons of St Alphonsus Liguori; they really are excellent (if a little daunting: I get the distinct impression that the great man didn't suffer fools gladly, and he believed in calling a spade a shovel, and whacking you over the head with it into the bargain... just to ensure you got the point!) but each sermon needs to be digested carefully, and pondered... and this takes time.

However, one of the books I bought at the Day with Mary keeps beckoning: much as I hate to have more than one non-fiction book on the go at any one time, I found it impossible to resist.

The Incorruptibles by Joan Carroll Cruz is a careful study of the incorruption of the bodies of various saints and beati of the Catholic Church.

I had been vaguely aware, when I first came back to the Church, that many saints had been found to be incorrupt, but hadn't given it much thought. I had a very "protestant" view of the saints - they were in heaven, because the Church said so, but I didn't need to worry about them, still less actually pray to them, because I would go straight to the top... JC himself, and no messing about with any minor intermediaries... I prayed to Our Lady, but only because the big man was a good Jewish lad, and so was likely to be rather fond of his mother...

Things changed for me after I experienced the direct intercession of St. Jude. Having been told by the hospital bed manager that my surgery would definitely not happen within the next six months and probably not for a further six months after that, I decided to start a novena to St Jude... mostly to humour a friend who was a devotee. I was seriously ill, and didn't manage to keep up praying the novena. However, on what would have been day 9, a letter landed on the mat from the hospital. Surgery had been scheduled for the end of the month, and could I please ring to confirm availability. I immediately rang the bed manager to say that I was indeed "available" and to ask why she had previously been so negative. She didn't know why there had been a change: apparently the surgeon had just come in and said that my surgery was to be scheduled at the end of the month. Full of joy, I hobbled over to Mass. The Gospel reading: pick up your bed and walk! Wooooooh! *Cue spooky music*

I'm now seriously into saints. I have a saint for my car... and one for my computer... and one for when I want to find a car-parking space... and...

But I still wasn't too sure about the phenomenon of incorruption. I assumed that it was easily explained as some sort of natural mummification process. Hey, I'm trained as a scientist... we always try to explain stuff away...

...and then I went to Nevers.

St. Bernadette is lying there in a crystal glass and gold coffin, for everyone to see. She has not been embalmed or preserved in any artificial way (her face was painted with a very thin layer of wax to prevent discolouration caused by the soap used to wash her body when it was exhumed, forty years after her death.) She died in 1879 after years of a debilitating illness, and she still looks better than I do. She looks as if she'll wake up at any moment...

...Natural mummification doesn't leave you looking like that. Natural mummies are shrivelled, shrunken, even frightening...

The processes of Beatification and Canonisation carried out by Holy Mother Church are meticulous in the extreme. I think I have a cynical streak... the Medical Bureaux responsible for looking into miracles of healing make use of the services of non-Catholic doctors and scientists... and non-Christian doctors and scientists... and just to be on the safe side, they also have atheist doctors and scientists.

Well, as Joan Carroll Cruz explains in her book, the tests to which these incorrupt saints are subjected are rigorous. This is not something which can be explained away... and it is only seen in saints of the Catholic Church. As the publisher's description put it:

The Incorruptibles are a consoling sign of Christ's victory over death, a confirmation of the dogma of the Resurrection of the Body, a sign that the saints are still with us in the Mystical Body of Christ, as well as a proof of the truth of the Catholic Faith - for only in the Catholic Church do we find this phenomenon.

Best Blonde Joke EVER !!

Oh boy... I laughed so much my sides ache! But then, I do have a slightly warped sense of humour (and blonde hair!)

Mantilla-twitch in the direction of Dadwithnoisykids.

Shameless Plagiarism

...although, of course, it isn't plagiarism if you acknowledge from whence you nicked it...!, a twitch of the mantilla in Antonia's direction... I loved these posters. How come we never see any of these in school chapels? Every Catholic school I've ever been in only does those ghastly "let's-love-nature-and-hug-a-tree" type posters, with the trite "thoughts" along the lines of "I-must-love-myself-'cos-Jesus-said-so" (oh, and BTW, he didn't!)

And On A Lighter Note...

Oh dear... I guess I just couldn't resist lowering the tone...


I am not sure how I missed this one, but I have just spotted a really beautiful post on the Sacrament of Confession, with some little suggestions on how to make the most of the experience...

I particularly liked the following:

4. Don't rush straight to the confessional after entering the church, but first of all prayerfully and carefully examine your conscience, pray to Our Lady, or your patron saint to make a good confession.

Read the whole thing HERE.

Thursday 8 February 2007

Diet? What diet?

I keep snaffling jokes from Esther's blog... well, it's good to share! And things have been quiet today (all that snow!)

The couple were 85 years old, and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's nagging insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade. One day, their good health didn't help: they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favourite clothes in the closet.

They gasped in astonishment when St. Peter said, "Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now." The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "Why, nothing," Peter replied, "remember, this is your reward in Heaven."

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.

"What are the greens fees?" grumbled the old man. "This is heaven," St. Peter replied. "You can play for free, every day."

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages.

"Don't even ask," said St. Peter to the man. "This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.

"That's the best part," St. Peter replied. "You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!"

The old man pushed, "No gym to work out at?"

"Not unless you want to," was the answer.

"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..."

"Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."

The old man glared at his wife and said, "You and your bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!

Interesting Thought...

The Cannonball has gone off into major rant mode... it makes for entertaining reading!

Right now I feel like women ruin everything. Women ruined the Church, women are ruining the education systems, the government, the work force. There are seeping it with politically correct phrasing, perfume, doilies and squelching all forms competition and competitiveness.

Its a very well known fact that if you want men to lose interest in something, get a bunch of women involved. Women want every one to play nice. All playing nice has gotten us is a bunch metro-sexual feminized men...

Women want their men to behave like ladies, and they themselves want to be liberalised ball busters. What happened? Oh, Yeah. The sexual revolution & women's lib. Yawn.

While I don't agree that women have ruined everything, I do agree with the main thrust of Carolina's argument... the Liturgy is tending (post Vatican II) to become too feminised... This year our Confirmation classes have split (accidentally... because of football practice) into a girls' night and a boys' night (well, three girls attend). It is fascinating to see how very differently they respond to essentially the same information.

The girls are into the touchy-feely emotion-and-thought stuff; the boys like hard facts, black-and-white, right-and-wrong and what do you have to do...? And this carries over into preferred styles of worship - the girls love to write out their own prayers... the boys would much rather just say the set prayers they are familiar with, and where they know exactly what they need to do and say, and when...

Wednesday 7 February 2007

The Other Side of the Coin?

Spotted this over at Esther's blog. With all the bad news, and political considerations aside, it makes a welcome change...

Group Hug ???

"And the document with the Motu Proprio on it
was about this big, and can I find where I put it...?"

More Guidance For Behaviour at Mass

Further to my jokey post on helpful hints for newbie Catholics, I see that Ma Beck has put up some genuine pointers...

...and I enjoyed the helpful hints designed especially for her own parish, St John Cantius (sounds very similar to Blackfen!)... my favourites were:

2) No, we don't shake hands. Or kiss. Or high-five. We just move on to the Agnus Dei.

3) Oh, no you didn't just show up in a tube top and hotpants, like you're in some suburban church where the priest doesn't give a damn. You're going to be squirming in your seat when you find out that our priests routinely give homilies on modesty of dress at Mass.

but I'd recommend reading all of them... HERE.

No-one As Dictatorial As A Liberal...

I've often thought it: liberals can tolerate everything except dissent from their own liberal views.

It's a bit like the old joke:

"When I am made President, everyone will be rich enough to drive round in Rolls Royces!"
"What happens if you don't want to drive in a Rolls Royce?"
"When I am President, you won't have any choice!"

However, Fr. Dwight Longenecker has put it so much better (despite the American spelling!) so go and read his post HERE.

Tuesday 6 February 2007

Rules For Being A Catholic

Yes, it's the time of year when RCIA programmes all over the world are hotting up... being Catholic involves soul and body, and there is so much to learn...

The Ironic Catholic has produced a handy hints guide on how to behave at Mass, and avoid those embarassing faux pas. I think one of my favourites was:

8. Yes, the Holy Eucharist is a participation in the Heavenly liturgy, as we transcend time and space, singing with angels and saints. Ergo, it is politic not to look bored. However, if you are too enthusiastic, remember you will be accused of Pentecostalism. You are hereby challenged.

And the ever-helpful Curt Jester has offered a few more guidelines, including:

Asking the person who just came out of a confessional both after a long time in confession "What the heck did you do?" is not considered appropriate.

Continuously pointing at your watch for the priest to see during the homily is considered rude.

Read and learn!

Six Political Heroes

A while back, the Dúnadan tagged me for this one, with the wry comment "Be careful what you wish for!" I had to give it some thought... (blonde brain cell into overdrive)...

1. St. Thomas More (Well, he was sort of political - Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII) - he gave up everything in defence of the Catholic Faith, and was finally martyred by being beheaded on Tower Hill.)

2. John Paul the Great (Before anyone claims that I can't have him, he was the Head of Vatican City State!) for his whole life, but particularly for his role in the fall of Communism. "How many divisions has the Pope?" has got to loom large in the "famous last words" stakes.

3. John Smeaton (No, not a politician, but as National Director of SPUC he has one of the most thankless tasks going: speaking to politicians) - he campaigns tirelessly on pro-life issues, which, in our current anti-Catholic climate here in the UK, means he must feel rather like King Canute.

4. Ann Widdecombe (Tory MP for Maidstone & the Weald) - I don't agree with her party politics, but she has had the courage to speak out about her conversion to Catholicism and is pro-life, which, in our current anti-Catholic climate here in the UK, takes guts.

5. Errrm... Ok, I give up. I'm not really into politics. And I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, because I think it might be classed as torture! Have a go if you're more politically savvy than me, and put in a comment to let me know where to find you!


Dave sent me the following by email... a variation on Moses as a Lifeguard which made me chortle!

Monday 5 February 2007

Catholic Cultural Meme

Mark from Rise and Pray tagged me for this one. At least it seems easier than the Political Heroes one from the Dúnadan...

1. Name a Catholic book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:
I don't give away books... I have problems lending books (bad experiences)... I love books. Libraries are also a problem for me, as I always forget to return books I like... However, I love to recommend books. Difficult to restrain myself to just the one... Ok, "The Glories of Mary" by St. Alphonsus Liguori... and "The Sinner's Guide" by Ven. Louis of Granada...

2. Name a work of religious art you'd like to live with:
St. Peter's/The Vatican...

...Oh, all right. I'll stop messing about. "Christ before the High Priest" by Gerrit van Honthorst. This picture, in the National Gallery in London, takes my breath away each time I see it (not often enough!) Until I saw this picture, I didn't understand how strong and challenging (and even threatening) Christ's silence before Caiaphas is. Truth can be unpalatable and unwelcome when it challenges your way of life!

3. Name your favourite Catholic artist:
Ooh. So many to choose from... unfortunately, given his Dutch roots, I doubt very much that Van Honthorst was Catholic... so I shall plump for Raphael.

4. Name a work of Catholic fiction which has penetrated your real life:
"The Adventure of the Amethyst" by Cecily Hallack. Written in the 1940s, it's a story of four children who meet a Bishop (who used to be an explorer) and convert to Catholicism along with their parents. It's a children's story, but oh, my... the language! Bishop Trautman would have apoplexy. Not only are there bits in French (and no translation given, either!) but there is even the odd Latin phrase!

I was given the book by my sponsor for my Confirmation (it was a treasured possession of hers, and she wanted it passed on... I had only been baptised the year before at the age of 13 (to get my younger sister into a Catholic school), so the apologetics side of the book was interesting. I didn't understand the stuff about the liturgy (pre Vatican II) and read it only as a story. I rejected the Faith pretty soon after, but never threw out the book.

Eleven or so years later, seriously ill and in pain, I couldn't sleep. I knew I had to find that book, and read it. When I woke up, after six hours' deep sleep, I knew I had to find the nearest Catholic Church. And thus began my true conversion!

Now, of course, I understand many of the references in the book to liturgical prayers and practices... unfortunately, I lent the book to someone many years ago, and never got it back. Hence my caution with regard to Point 1 above!

5. Name your favourite Catholic musicians:
If I had to plump for one, then Mozart. Otherwise, anyone who sings Gregorian Chant.

6. Name your favourite musical:

"The Sound of Music"... NOOOO ! Only kidding! Actually, it's "Evita" - the original Andrew Lloyd Webber one, not the mangled version made into a film by Madonna to boost her own ego.

7. Who are the six Catholic (or Christian) bloggers whom you would most like to meet in person, but have not (yet)?
(i) Mark - because he reads, and comments on, my blog, so he has obviously got excellent taste... or he has too much time on his hands...
(ii) Joee Blogs - because he has a lovely blog (even if he doesn't have the good taste to read, or comment on, my blog!)
(iii) Northern Cleric - because he has a Presbytery Cat despite his cat allergy.
(iv) Dadwithnoisykids - and the wifewithnoisykids, and the noisykids, because they think that praying for child number 13 shows that they want to try for a big family... wow, what a powerful prayer powerhouse they have!
(v) The Catholic Caveman - because, although they may have removed part of his bowel, I'm pretty sure they left the spleen... and his witty invective has me in stitches!
(vi) Ma Beck - and Pa Beck, and imminent Baby Beck, because she bakes awesome poundcakes!

Actually there are loads more people I'd love to meet... Ok, I'm not going to tag anyone in particular... just anyone who wants to do it (just put in a comment to let me know so I can have a peek!)

And Look What I Found...

...yes, it's another blog for me to read...

Actually, I was particularly impressed by the snazzy photo at the top of the blog...

...and the name: The Catholic Warrior

I also found Hoc est in votis by Boomer Catholic. I had to laugh out loud when I spotted that Boomer wants to learn Latin so that she can read her blogroll... A fine aspiration!

Oh yeah?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

H/T to Esther (the Catholic Mom in Hawaii)

Wrong Time of Year to Find This...

I am a self-confessed chocoholic. I also have very pronounced opinions on chocolate and the relative merits of various brands of chocolate... other words, I aspire to be a gourmand of all things chocolate... an aspiration which I shall never achieve, as, while I have my preferences for particular types of chocolate, I would never turn my nose up and refuse chocolate because it wasn't my favourite choice!

In the British chocolate market, I consider Cadbury's Dairy Milk to be pretty grim. Galaxy is much better - though given Cadbury's standards, that isn't saying very much.

Thornton's caused a bit of a stir (my heart certainly went pitter-pat) when they opened shops dedicated to selling nothing but chocolate, and their chocolate is nicer than Galaxy. Again, not difficult. Unfortunately all their soft fillings get a bit icky after a while.

My mother is German, and so I was introduced to proper chocolate at an early age (parcels from Grandmother were eagerly anticipated, as you can imagine) and so I have to say that Swiss and Belgian chocolates are far and away the best... and I mean Swiss and Belgian chocolate made and sold on the continent, not made for the so-called British taste-buds...

I think that one of the best brands of chocolate available in the supermarkets over here has to be Green & Black's. It is ever-so-slightly bitter, and therefore not as sickly sweet. It's also more satisfyingly chocolatey, and is best savoured slowly, square by square...

So you can imagine how I felt when, doing a spot of grocery shopping (something I loathe), I discovered that Green & Black's do hot chocolate... and none of your "instant" rubbish, either. No, this is the real McCoy, to be made with hot milk. To be fair, whacking a mug of milk into the microwave is just as effective as getting out a saucepan and whisk...

Now why did I discover this just in time for Lent?

Sunday 4 February 2007

Love Your Computer... Or Else!

H/T to A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

Latin Liturgy-Fest !

For all you Latin Liturgy junkies out there... I provide the opportunity for you to resist temptation, and thereby earn brownie points towards your eternal salvation (I'm kind and thoughtful like that!) For you will surely be tempted to indulge in envious thoughts when you see the following photos...

We are having a monthly Latin Novus Ordo Sunday Mass, and the first one was today. In addition, it was the Baptism of the son (and grandson) of friends of mine, and his parents wanted a full-on Old Rite Baptism, with all the trimmings. I was privileged to sing the Ave Maria at the parents' wedding 18 months ago, so this was an event I wouldn't miss for the world.

Here's the 11-week-old baby in his father's arms just as Mass started (Grandad is watching from the pew behind!) - note the chasuble on the sedilia - Fr Tim wears a cope for the asperges. I didn't manage to get a photo of that... next time!

The biretta is very much in evidence... it is doffed at the mention of the Holy Name, which I find very moving - a real witness against blasphemous language.

After Mass, quite a lot of people gravitate towards the baby... people like babies, especially cute ones. Once again, I couldn't get many good photos, as most people approached from the aisle (blocking my view!) the proud father posed! The christening gown was beautiful - Max's dad was baptised in it too

The paschal candle and font were moved onto the sanctuary. The Baptism started when the parents and godparents (with the baby) went to the back of the church for the exorcisms. Little Max howled most gratifyingly at this point.

More prayers were said at the front of the church. Note the purple stole: I hadn't realised that Baptisms used to start off with a purple stole and then finish with white (which is why many stoles have purple one side and white on the other!)

Another thing about the Old Rite: the questions are addressed to the child rather than to the godparents (though obviously only the godparents make intelligible responses!)

Having cried since the exorcism, Max promptly (and equally gratifyingly) went silent as the water was poured on his head...

The Baptism ends with a blessing for the mother (something else which has been lost in liturgical reform) - Max's mother is kneeling in front of the Lady Altar, so not the best photo:

And father and son pose for a final photo:

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