Saturday 19 May 2007

Consultation ?? Oh Really??

I have a warm and fuzzy feeling each time I hear that I'm being consulted. I'm a trusting soul, and believe everything I read and hear. Oh, yeah... and the moon is made of Green Cheese...

Despite my cynical demeanour, when I heard on the radio that the HFEA has decided that we ought to allow the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos for the purposes of experimentation, I thought I must have mis-heard it. After all, I'd seen that they were running a consultation exercise, and the period of consultation wasn't over... And then I heard the report again.

My next thought was that, in my haste to get a blog post up, I had mis-read the HFEA consultation document... the one that said that the period of consultation was going to run until 20th July... maybe I'd seen an old post, and had seen something for 2006... I went to have a look. No, the website still claims to be "consulting" the public. And will continue consulting until 20th July 2007. However, in the meantime, they have apparently made up their minds already: the experimentation will be allowed, because the scientists said that they need to do the research. Hello people. Scientists always need to do research. They will always push the boundaries to see "what will happen if..." It's in the job description. Just because something can be done, doesn't mean that it should be done.

A great deal was made (on the radio) of the fact that the scientists will need to apply for a licence in order to carry out their research. Another little fact for you to consider: scientists have to apply for a licence to do anything... even just to run a rat on a harmless maze. It is not difficult to obtain a licence. I used to do animal research. Getting the licence was pretty standard. You fill in a form. You send it in. They give you a licence...

The Public Meeting is still scheduled for the 26th June. The place and time have not been made public. And two emails I sent indicating my interest in attending this meeting have not merited a response... On Monday I think I shall try to phone (maybe their email system doesn't work...)

In case anyone else is interested, the person to phone is Helen Coath, Policy Manager. Tel: 020 7291 8238 Email: Let me know if anyone bothers to reply.

UPDATE 1: Ms Coath (according to her answerphone) is out of the office until May 31st. I've emailed, and will have another go at phoning when I get back from Lourdes.

Friday 18 May 2007

May Meme For Mary

I've been tagged again, this time by Fr. Ray (in revenge, no doubt, for the Favourite Catholic Places meme... I note that he cheated by including Anglican locations!) The present meme, in honour of Our Lady, is refreshingly short, but fiendishly difficult to complete. Decisions, decisions...

What is your favourite image of Our Lady?
This is sooooo hard. I like nearly all images of Our Lady, though some are more appealing than others. But it depends what mood I'm in, so I collect lots... I have statues of Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Grace, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of the Waters, the Pietá, and the Madonna and Child in two different poses... (and I have pictures... you get the general idea...)

If I absolutely had to choose one, it would probably be Our Lady of Grace. I think that's what it's called, though I've also heard it called the Immaculate Conception. I prefer the versions where she's stomping on the serpent... There is a statue looking very similar in the garden of St. Bernadette's convent in Nevers. They called it Our Lady of the Waters, and it wasn't coloured. St. Bernadette is reported as saying she considered it closest to Our Lady in attitude, and used to spend many hours in prayer before it. I have a small statue of it, and once I fix the connection between phone and computer, I shall put up a picture. I can't find anything on Google...

What is your favourite Marian feast?
All of them. Every single one. I'm not going to pick. It's the same woman in each, after all!

What is your favourite Marian hymn/anthem?
Mary Immaculate, Star of the Morning. And it's just so good that I have to include the words (there are slight differences between the version I have here and some of the others on the Internet...

Mary Immaculate, star of the morning,
Chosen before the creation began,
Chosen to bring, for thy bridal adorning,
Woe to the serpent and rescue to man.

Here, in an orbit of shadow and sadness,
Veiling thy splendor, thy course thou hast run;
Now thou art throned in all glory and gladness,
Crowned by the hand of thy Saviour and Son.

Sinners, we worship thy sinless perfection;
Fallen and weak for thy pity we plead;
Grant us the shield of thy sovereign protection,
Measure thine aid by the depth of our need.

Frail is our nature, and strict our probation,
watchful the foe that would lure us to wrong;
succour our souls in the hour of temptation,
Mary Immaculate, tender and strong.

See how the wiles of the serpent assail us,
see how we waver and flinch in the fight;
let thine immaculate merit avail us,
make of our weakness a proof of thy might.

Bend from thy throne at the voice of our crying,
Bend to this earth which thy footsteps have trod;
Stretch out thine arms to us, living and dying,
Mary Immaculate, Mother of God.

There is something haunting about the tune: and looking it up, I discover that it was written by Bach. 'Nuff said!

I do like quite a lot of other Marian hymns... in fact, the only one so far I found I didn't like was written in the late 1970s... "Mother of God's living Word" if you must know... the words are really clunky... and the tune stinks...

What is your favourite Marian place of pilgrimage?

This is the easiest question to answer: Lourdes ! Before I went the first time, I was told that it was too commercialised. Rubbish. Every town has shops: fact of life (hey, we all need to make a living!). Shops sell things. In Lourdes, the shops sell rosaries, medals, statues and holy pictures. There are worse things to sell. If that's being too commercialised, then we need more of it.

I am drawn to Lourdes because I have been seriously ill several times in my life, and at one time was contemplating having my leg amputated, as it was better than a life of constant pain. Through the grace of God, prayer, and a good surgeon, I was spared that, and I am now able to walk without crutches.

The scientist in me rejected the idea of miracles: I assumed that they were events happening to credulous people combined with a lack of medical knowledge. I now know that the miracles still occur, but that the scientific examination of miracles by the Catholic Church is more rigorous than the evidence used to judge any other area of scientific endeavour. Peer review is sufficient to get work published in a scientific journal; miracles have to be examined by scientists who don't accept the existence of God.

I love Lourdes. The prayerful atmosphere, the peace, the knowledge that Our Lady appeared there, and the fact that the sick and disabled are the "First-Class" pilgrims just bring a lump to my throat...

What is your favourite Marian devotion?
All of them... but most especially the Rosary.

Who to tag... hmmn. Last time it was restricted to this side of the pond (I was being charitable, you understand!) so this time I shall go global: Ma Beck, the Catholic Caveman, Owl of the Remove and Catholic Mom in Hawaii.

UPDATE: Fr Paul, the Great Gable in the Lune Valley wants to be tagged too. OK, tagged.

Thursday 17 May 2007

Possible Employment...

...but not for me. Newhousenewjob has heard that there's money available for farmers who don't rear pigs. So she wants to get a piece of the action... or inaction... whatever! It was incredibly funny, so I suggest you read it for yourself HERE.

Feast Of The Rant...

Or, to give it its full title, "Feast of the Rant that today is not Ascension Thursday." Curt Jester sends his commiserations on dumbing down.

It is absolute madness. The bishops claim that it makes it easier to observe the Holy Day of Obligation by moving it to the Sunday, and so more people would be able to observe the feast. Balderdash. Sunday is already a Holy Day of Obligation. You're not going to get more people going to church on the Ascension if it's Sunday. The people who make the effort to go on a mid-week Holy Day of Obligation will already be going to Mass on Sunday. All that has happened is that the Bishops have effectively said, "Oh dear, no-one goes to Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation, so, ok, lets take away the Obligation... and the Holy Day bit...", if numbers at Sunday Mass continue to fall, will the Bishops declare that Sunday is no longer obligatory?? Hey, get rid of those awkward Commandments while you're at it. Might as well make it really easy...

Even more reason to go to a Classical Rite Mass... the old calendar still applies...


My computer has decided that it doesn't recognise my mobile phone. It won't connect. It's not the USB port, because my data sticks work perfectly well... It keeps telling me to make Microsoft Outlook my default mail client. Microsoft Outlook is my default, but I usually ignore it. I can only assume that Outlook is sulking because it knows that I prefer to use Mozilla Thunderbird...

...I'm too tired to cope with a computer which is throwing a hissy-fit. I'm going to bed!

Wednesday 16 May 2007


Fr. Harrison from the Lune Valley has finally bitten the bullet... he's decided to learn how to say the Classical Rite Mass. As he doesn't know any Latin, this could be quite a feat! Perhaps Fr Tim should run classes...

I Should Jolly Well Hope So...

You are 100% knowledgeable about the Blessed Virgin!

You are truly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary! You most likely pray the rosary daily and quite possibly have consecrated yourself to Mary. Did you know that St Alphonsus Liguori said that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a sign of predestination?

Catholicism and the Blessed Virgin
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Yes to the Rosary, Yes to consecration... No to St Alphonsus (I wouldn't dare to presume, but I live in hope!!)

Mantilla-twitch to The Roving Medievalist

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Made-To-Measure Mantillas

I have been wearing a mantilla since about Summer 2005, maybe slightly earlier. I took private vows in 2002, dedicating my life to God as a woman in the single state, living and working in the world. Looking back, I feel that my understanding (and love) of Our Lord in the Eucharist was cranked up a notch. I became more aware of trying to be properly disposed when receiving Holy Communion, not only through regular Confession and daily prayer, but also in my outward manner, to be aware that I was receiving Our Lord, and to be more reverent in my movements.

Because of the operations I've had on my knee, I can't kneel. I can genuflect after a fashion, but not well. Some days I'm so stiff that I can't even do that: and to my intense discomfort, I am reduced to making a bow. I liked the idea of wearing a mantilla as a sign of respect in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, veiling my hair as a sign of humility in the presence of Almighty God. I looked up mantillas on the internet: I could only find three articles, but what I read was encouraging. I thought I'd only wear a mantilla at Classical Rite Masses...

...and was promptly challenged by my Spiritual Director as to my reasoning. I explained that I thought that mantillas weren't supposed to be worn at Novus Ordo Masses. I knew, from my reading, that they hadn't actually been banned, but I thought they were discouraged as old-fashioned...

On being told that this was most definitely not the case, I examined my reasoning. I wanted to show reverence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I wanted to make a deliberate act to remind myself in whose presence I was, and to indicate that I wished to shut out all outward distractions. And I wanted to show humility before Our Lord... So, did I believe that God was any more present at the Classical Rite than at the Novus Ordo? Absolutely not: I've said before that I love the Novus Ordo when it is carried out with reverence and love (and in accordance with the rubrics!) And so, the conclusion was inescapable: I would wear a mantilla whenever I was in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

Having made the decision, my next problem was finding a mantilla. Not an easy task. And I had no idea about materials, sizes, patterns... I knew I'd be able to get a mantilla in Lourdes, but that seemed ages away, and I wanted to get going. A priest who was a chaplain at my school went to Rome - he promised to get me a mantilla: unfortunately, the death (and funeral) of John Paul II meant that black mantillas were not to be had for love nor money... Luckily, a woman who wore a mantilla at the Classical Rite Mass was able to give me a spare, to start me off.

In Lourdes, I was able to get a look at the mantillas on sale in every shop. Unfortunately they were either viscose-and-polyester monstrosities which wouldn't stay on without at least three hair clips (and were badly made to boot) or they were stiff netting with pictures of St Bernadette and Our Lady (and the word "Lourdes") appliquéd in felt.

By chance, a priest known to Fr Tim was staying with his group at the same hotel. He was very involved in the Latin Mass Society, and he told me that a woman in his parish made mantillas. Needless to say, I got in touch. The mantillas she made were excellent. My favourite is quite a large one: it is a soft lacy material, not slippery, with a delicate lace edging, and it just sits on my head without the need for pins (unless I'm in an outdoor procession.)

However, since it is frequently just stuffed into a handbag or pocket, it's getting a little ragged at the seams. Time to get a new one. I phoned June this evening, and she's making a few for me (I like to be able to leave one in the car, and one in a bag...) and will do a few for the Parish Repository as well. The photo at the top of this post (my profile photo) shows the mantilla from the back...

And in case anyone is unclear as to why any woman these days would want to wear a mantilla, check out the posts I've written before: Wearing The Mantilla and More On Mantillas.

New Travel Plans...

I thought that, if Father Tim doesn't mind the extra expense, we could push the boat out on the travel arrangements for our Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes at the end of the month...

...mind you, he might prefer that we fly Hermeneutic Air (it being non-stop!)

And Today's Amazing Fact Is...

I heard this one on Radio 4 this morning. I nearly choked on my toothpaste. The Holy Father's book was being discussed...

Presenter: "Luke, you wanted to come in before when I suggested that he painted a pretty conventional picture...?"

Reply: "It's not surprising that the Pope concludes that Jesus is the Son of God..."

Yes, I'd say that was pretty much a no-brainer...

Monday 14 May 2007

In Memory Of John Paul The Great

I can't think why I haven't spotted this earlier. It's very moving. Not too sure about the choice of music, but then it's not my video...

Twitch of the mantilla to the American Papist.

Sunday 13 May 2007

Sloth... Avarice...

Hmmn. I might be needing that Papal Indulgence...

My Spiritual Director recommended some more books to read. I nearly protested that I hadn't finished a whole bunch of books from before, only I realised that this was due to sloth on my part... I'd allowed myself to get side-tracked by an old Tom Clancy, which, as well as being decidedly un-spiritual, means that I still haven't managed to finish the "Autobiography of a Soul" by St. Thérèse...

There is the added complication that I put several books down in a pile somewhere, and then brought a load of books and other belongings home from my classroom (I've resigned from my post) and I haven't managed to clear everything up... and so I can't find the books...

So I dutifully went to my favourite book sites to see what I could find. And this is where avarice kicked in... I do like books, you see. And I found that choosing one triggered off a train of thought that suggested another title which I might find profitable... and another...

...and then I wondered about statues...

...I like statues. I like pictures of saints too, but statues are better (they don't need frames, or putting up on the wall...)

On the positive side, I shall be able to look forward to lots of nice parcels over the next couple of weeks...

That Stuff About Selling Indulgences...

You've heard of Confession Online? All fine-and-dandy, but there is always the little problem of the temporal punishment which remains after absolution has been given. So, now you can put those Purgatory panics to one side - there is a website where you can arrange a Papal Indulgence, at the click of a mouse, and the passing over of some plastic!

Simply click the type of sin, who you sinned with (or against) and the price of eternal salvation will be speedily calculated... More information can be found HERE.

(I have to admit to doing a double-take on this one... it's very well done! I thought I'd better make it absolutely clear that I understand it's a joke... Earlier, Fr Tim suggested (very gently, so sweet that he didn't want to embarrass me!) that I might, possibly, have missed the point about Jeff's Swiss Guard item. In any case, a mantilla-twitch to David!)

First Blogiversary !

I am a very proud and happy bunny. Today is my first blogiversary (see the Hermeneutic of Continuity for reasons why it's not a blogniversary!) I picked an excellent day for it too - the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima! Looking back, I see that on my first day, I had three posts: Welcome to my Blog, an Inclusive Language Rant and a post on Unfortunate Lyrics.

Checking the latter, I found that I was referring particularly to a phrase encountered in "Daily, daily, sing to Mary" which has Our Lady delivering a knockout blow as she "decks her subjects." By strange coincidence, we sang that very hymn this morning at Mass (it was one of my rare forays to the 10:30am Mass - I usually like a lie-in on Sunday - as a little girl I had helped to prepare for the Sacrament of Baptism was being baptised after the Mass.)

I was also amused to note that, in my rationale for starting the blog, I said:

"After reading several excellent blogs, I decided that the chance to rant about my particular pet hates (I have many) was just too good to miss, and so here I am. I have no idea whether anyone else will find it interesting..."

Well, at the risk of sounding terribly conceited, I have to say that, from 13th May until 31st May 2006, I had a total of 271 visits (about 14 visits a day.) In the first 12 days of May this year, I have had 2,048 visits (which is around 171 visits each day.)

Room for improvement, but not too shabby... especially for a blog which (according to a certain Fr. James!) only covers chocolate, hair, nails and shopping...
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