Friday 8 June 2007

Another Seminarian To Pray For...

It would seem that Patter Noster has resurrected his old blog just in time to tell us that he's been accepted to study for the Priesthood in Rome.

I have to say that all these orthodox chaps entering our seminaries to train for the priesthood is very encouraging news. It's a shame that the Bishops still seem to think that they have to plan for a church with fewer priests...

Pop on over to offer your prayers and congratulations HERE.

(Not So) Divine Office

A while back, Fr. Paul, thinking in the depths of the Lune Valley, alerted the Blogosphere to the fact that Amazon were flogging copies of the Divine Office at knock-down prices. In case anyone is unclear, the Divine Office is not a local administrative enclave of the Holy See: it is the official Prayer of the Church. Also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, or the Breviary, it is compulsory for priests and religious to pray it daily (though some Religious Orders have their own versions of it) and many lay people pray some, or all, of it.

I have to admit that my first thought on reading Fr. Paul's post was entirely cynical: something along the lines of, Oho... so maybe they are going to do a revamp on the translations of the Office, and they're ditching the old copies before it becomes widely known...

My second thought involved checking out the Amazon website with debit card to hand. Fr. Paul had said that the volumes were being sold at £35 each. Not most people's idea of a bargain, I grant you. However, the books usually retail at £50... That's $98.3 dollars for my transatlantic buddies... and € 73.60 for my European friends (currency according to today's exchange rate.)

Now you might not think that £50 is too much to pay for a book. But, the complete Office actually has three volumes. And it is not £50 for the whole set, but £50 per volume... If you are obliged to say the Office because of your vocation, you cannot "get by" with only one volume, you have to have all three...

Even so, £150 for the basis of your spiritual life, for the rest of your life, doesn't seem too bad, does it? I mean, it's not as if you need to buy a new copy every year...

...Now, normally, I'd agree. Some things are worth spending money on. You get what you pay for, and good quality prayer books which will last a lifetime definitely fall into this category.

Unfortunately... English-speaking countries, there is this little group called ICEL, and ICEL believe that it is vitally important that they defend the copyright on their (up to now) appallingly translated prayers. ICEL only give permission to one publisher (as far as I have been able to ascertain) to print the Office in England and Wales: HarperCollins have the monopoly.

Monopolies have even less reason to produce goods of a reasonable quality. I was fortunate to have been given my first Breviary shortly after I returned to the Church (from an anonymous donor) and now, as I've taken vows, praying the whole Office daily is part of my rule of life. I keep the current volume of my Breviary in a special leather case which zips up. I am careful to treat the Breviary well: it is mostly Sacred Scripture, after all. However, the binding of the volumes is of such poor quality that I had to have one volume rebound after about two years, and I've been patching up the others with sellotape. Matters became critical when pages began fluttering to the ground every time I opened the book to pray...

...and then Amazon made its offer. Unusually, I had enough money spare to buy all three volumes, partly because one of the Amazon partners was offering the completely new volumes at an even lower price: I couldn't be certain that the prices would remain low, so buying them at intervals seemed to be a bad idea.

My old copy was a 1991 reprint of the 1974 version. The General Calendar has changed considerably, and there are lots of fascinating saints who have been added. Up until now, I've observed their feasts using the Common Offices (ie. Martyrs, Pastors, Virgins and so on) and I noticed that, in the advertising blurb, the publishers stated that the new 2006 reprint had an updated Calendar...

I was sure that at least some of the newer saints would have been included, and eagerly awaited delivery of the prayer books. Alas, only the dates of movable feasts have been updated: and the recent decision of the Bishops to move certain Holydays to the nearest Sunday means that these new calendars are now obsolete (Hehey! Now we know why the price has been slashed!!)

As well as not bothering to update the Proper of Saints, or even the General Calendar given in the front of the volumes, they haven't bothered to improve on the quality of the paper used. As you can see in the photographs, the paper is so thin that you can actually read the text on the other side of the page...

In all of this I take comfort from the fact that ICEL are upholding standards and not letting just anybody publish the Sacred Liturgy of the Church...

Welcome To The Blogosphere

A warm welcome to Cate, who started her own blog, Caeli et Terrae fairly recently. She took me up on a blanket tag I put out on the 4 x 2 meme (though her response isn't up yet!)

I remember how I felt a year ago, looking at the "old hands" who were busy tagging each other, wondering if anyone would ever read my blog and tag me to find out what I thought... So, Cate, consider yourself tagged!

Having checked out Cate's blog, I see that in the week or so of her blogging career she has managed to put up two pictures of the Holy Father, two pictures of Our Lady, the Papal flag, a view of St Peter's and a post on the Motu Proprio...

Definitely my kind of blog. She also has the most amazing banner picture at the top of her blog. Pop over and give her a warm welcome to the Blogosphere.

UPDATE: Cate has put up her answers to the 4 x 2 meme, and I'm all agog to see her future experiments in astrophotography (though I do realise that this could take up to four years!) She said that she'd been worried about alerting me to the fact she'd taken me up on the meme - but believe me, seeing a link back when you've put out a "blanket" tag is half the fun, so if anyone else out there wants to play, just let me know...

I Wouldn't Believe It, But...

...I've heard it with my own ears! My cat actually snores in his sleep...

I wouldn't mind, but I've actually caught myself creeping around, so as not to wake him up...!

Thursday 7 June 2007

(Proper) Corpus Christi Mass

We didn't have a Corpus Christi Classical Rite Mass at Blackfen, on account of the Parish Priest abandoning us in favour of the Isle of Wight Latin Mass Society (heheheh... only kidding...)

However, Fr. Tim was careful to point out that there was going to be a Low Mass in the Traditional Rite at St. Mary's, Chislehurst. Fr. Charles Briggs was the celebrant. The silence and sense of the Sacred was awesome.

One of my friends has joked that there would be no point having a YouTube video of a Low Mass as the soundtrack would go something like this:

"Mutter, mutter, mutter..." ding, rustle, ding ding ding, rustle, ding... "mutter, mutter..."

Hey, sounds good to me...

Wednesday 6 June 2007

Planning Ahead...

Having just gone over the events of this year's Blackfen Lourdes pilgrimage with Fr Tim, with the aim of improving things for next year, I found this example of forward planning rather amusing...

Twitch of the mantilla to American Papist.

A Little Light Relief

It's a while since I posted any proper jokes. A friend sent me this by email, and I thought I'd share (it's an old one, but they're the best...)

An atheist was taking a walk through the woods.

"What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself. As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look and saw a 7 foot grizzly bear charging towards him.

He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again and the bear was even closer.

He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out to the Lord.

Time stopped, the bear froze, the forest was silent. A bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all of these years, teach others I don't exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light, "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?"

"Very well," said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed.

And then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together and bowed his head and spoke:

"Lord, bless this food, which I am about to receive, through Christ our Lord, Amen."

Man Jumps On Popemobile

The Holy Father's General Audience today (June 6th) was nearly disrupted when a man jumped the barricades and attempted to get into the Popemobile.

The Holy Father was not injured (he hardly seemed to notice) and he continued with the General Audience as planned. The pope's bodyguards managed to wrestle the man to the ground.

Deo gratias.

Read more about it over at American Papist (he also has a video) and Fr. Z also has some information on how the Swiss Guards are finding the Pope's popularity hard work!

Tuesday 5 June 2007

Tired Out...

...and so I need an early night. I went to the evening Mass for St. Philomena (or, rather, I attempted to...) and got rather caught up in traffic. Luckily the return journey was easier than the outward one. More details tomorrow...

Monday 4 June 2007

4 x 2 Meme

Here we go again... Newhousenewjob has tagged me for the 4 x 2 meme.

You have to list four things that were new to you in the past four years - four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years: new house, new school, new hobby, new spouse, new baby, whatever. Then you have to say four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Ok, first of all the four new things in the last four years:

1. I had a major car crash and had to be cut out of the car. The A2 looks very different when you're upside down...

2. I became an aunt.

3. I started a new job last year... and resigned from it, so I'm job hunting again...

4. I started blogging !

Four new things I'd like to try in the next four years:

1. A new job ! (Still in teaching, I hope)

2. I'd quite like to go on pilgrimage to Fatima. I've never been, and it would be interesting to compare it with Lourdes.

3. I want to go to the Rue de Bac in Paris to see the incorrupt body of St. Catherine Labouré.

4. I want to go and see Pope Benedict XVI. I've been to a General Audience before, but that was to see John Paul II. I've never seen Benedict XVI (yes, I know that's cheating, but only slightly!)

I can't think of anything else that I consider "new" that I'm likely to complete in the next four years. Life is pretty good: if it changes, then I'll accept that as God's will for me.

I haven't got the heart to inflict this on anyone. If it grabs you, consider yourself tagged, and leave a message in the combox so I can link to you...

Reverence Before The Lord...

According to Ma Beck, the church of St. John Cantius had a narrow escape. One of the candles caught fire and the burning, dripping wax threatened to make the whole altar go up in flames.

Luckily one of the priests had spotted it, and hurried forward to put the fire out...

...but he genuflected first...

That's what I call having a sense of the sacred!

Submission Of Intellect & Will

The Curt Jester has an excellent post on what it means to submit to the teaching authority of the Church. It struck a real chord with me because, when I first returned to the Faith, I was aware that it was my own arrogance and belief in my own intelligence which had led me astray in the first place. Like von Hildebrand, (how does the saying go..? "Great minds think alike...") I found that I had to assent to things I didn't fully understand, particularly the Church's teaching on contraception. However, once I had made that assent, the reasons behind the teaching became clear.

Having faith doesn't mean you check your brain in at the church door, but like St. Thomas Aquinas said, if there is a conflict between the truths of the Faith and my own intellect, then it is my intellect which is at fault. The Curt Jester put it so much better than I ever could:

Thinking Catholics try to assert that faithful Catholics have to leave their brain at the door to be faithful to the magisterium where in fact the opposite is the case. To be obedient to the teaching authority of the Church you must leave you intellectual pride at the door and that whatever intellectual gifts you might have will be fully exercised in understanding and defending what the Church actually teaches.


You may have gathered from my previous posts: I love Lourdes. I adore the fact that when you enter the Domaine, it is like entering another world: there are boxes of candles for the torchlight procession and for the Grotto and you are just expected to be honest enough to put the money in the slot.

People do sneer at the number of shops around Lourdes which sell religious objects, and at first sight it can be a bit daunting: the first time I came I went into sensory overload with all those rosaries! However, the atmosphere is just phenomenal.

Yes, there are lots and lots of shops. And they all sell rosaries. And statues. And cases to put rosaries in. And bottles... But there is no "hard-sell" - you are allowed to come in and browse round and then walk back out again. The shops have open fronts, and it can sometimes be difficult to work out where one shop ends and another begins. The shopkeepers often stand outside chatting to one another, and you only realise that they're from different shops when someone wants to pay for a purchase and they have to break off the conversation to get to the till.

There's no sense of cut-throat competitiveness. And the prices are so very reasonable... in no way could you say that the hordes of pilgrims are being fleeced. There is also a sense of fair-play: the traffic close to the Domaine is one-way, but the direction of traffic is changed every two weeks (it changed the Friday we were there.)

And everyone is so friendly and good-humoured. I had a conversation with one shopkeeper who had seen me walking up in the town earlier in the morning, and I discussed the merits of St. Philomena with another. It's fascinating to watch the shopkeepers (and café waiters) look at a pilgrim and decide which language to start talking in. They're nearly always right.

I can't wait to go back...

Ice Cream & Hot Chocolate !

Our pilgrimage is always half-board at the hotel: this means that we have the luxury of being able to sit and watch the Domaine empty at noon as the majority of pilgrims scurry back to their hotels in time for lunch. It also means that one has room for the odd afternoon ice-cream and hot chocolate... case you were wondering about the odd temperature combination... the children had the ice cream. I had the hot chocolate!

Sunday 3 June 2007

Euro Traveller

It was interesting to note the different treatment meted out to the Club Class and the Euro Traveller passengers on British Airways. One thing I hadn't realised was that the division between the two is movable, so if there aren't many people prepared to pay the extra £70 (each way), then the remaining seats aren't left empty (well, you can't have the plebs mixing with the rich people!)

On my return journey from Toulouse, I was sitting near the divider, and could see through the curtain. The Club Class seats looked to be a little more roomy, but the divider was quite close to the front of the plane... and my own seat was certainly more roomy than the one I had on the outward journey... and no, I hadn't lost any weight, so I suspect the seat was meant for Club Class!

The two classes each got a complimentary drink (Club Class may have had more than one, I couldn't tell) and obviously the wine on offer was pretty much the same. But I noticed that Club Class had their tea made in a proper teapot, whereas the riff-raff in Euro Traveller Class got plastic cups with teabag. Club Class also got a proper meal. Euro Travellers didn't: we got a choice between a small cookie or a bag of seeds and nuts. Personally I'd have preferred a packet of crisps...

The bag of seeds and nuts did, however, also come with built-in entertainment...

The front of the packet said: "Sky Bites Gold: Delicious premium mix of crunchy bites, fruits and seeds" with the added instruction to: "fly. nibble. enjoy."

The back of the packet described the contents in a less appetising manner, the most confusing bit being where raisins (25%) had the added note that they contain vegetable oil... Of course, the pack came with the obligatory warning: "May contain traces of seeds and nuts."

You really couldn't make this stuff up...

Prayers Answered...

Back in February (loooong time ago) Ashley started a blog from her hospital bed: there were serious complications with her pregnancy, and to avoid a miscarriage she had to stay in hospital on bedrest... and the doctors didn't hold out much in the way of hope.

However, in the early hours of this morning, little Dylan Grace made her debut appearance. All seems to be well. Pop over and offer your congratulations HERE.

Acquired Tastes

I have been challenged by the Owl of the Remove to answer the following question: Is an acquired taste worth acquiring?

I have absolutely no idea... I always assumed that the phrase was used as either a polite way of saying that you thought a friend's taste was execrable (No, it's not my sort of thing... I expect it's an acquired taste...) or excusing a particular foible of one's own: (I like it, but I'm aware that you will not... and so, to stop you thinking I'm an idiot, I'll pass it off as an acquired taste...)

I will apologise in advance for this very un-philosophical answer to what was obviously meant as a philosophical question, but I'm not really a philosophical sort... I guess it's an acquired taste...
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