Saturday 16 June 2007

The 99 Beautiful Names

Hmmph! Not satisfied with the public display of napkins and the ridiculous championing of the book launch for Archer's Gospel of Judas, Westminster Cathedral have done it again. This time they plan to host a concert by Taverner. They do a lot of concerts, and while I personally think Cathedrals shouldn't be used for such secular pursuits, I suppose it is a way of raising some much-needed cash.

However, the work to be premiered is Taverner's The Beautiful Names (of Allah). The work is being performed at the request of HRH Prince (I-want-to-be-defender-of-faiths) Charles. It also includes the playing of Tibetan Temple gongs (or something of that ilk.) Fr Tim raised the issue a couple of weeks ago.

The Cathedral Administrator, Mgr. Langham, is quoted as saying that it's a secular concert, not an act of worship.

Oh really? I'm sorry, but a recitation of the 99 Names of God may not be considered to be an act of worship by Mgr. Langham, but I'd really like to know what Muslims think about this. Just writing about their Prophet in the wrong way gets them pretty steamed, as does printing cartoon pictures. Don't misunderstand me - I do not believe it's ok to insult someone's faith or their holy leaders. But what I am trying to say is that I think your average Muslim would consider this recitation of the Holy Names to be an act of worship.

Similarly, if you started to sing "Tower of Ivory, House of Gold, Morning Star, Health of the Sick" or similar, then, no matter what musical accompaniment or where you sang it, I would immediately associate this with Our Lady and the Litany of Loreto.

I don't care if people try to muddy the waters by stating that Christians and Muslims are both People of the Book and so worship the same God. We do not. Muslims specifically rejected the Bible, and their Book is the Qur'an. Muslims revere Jesus as the Prophet Isa, but not as the Son of God, not as the Second Person of the Trinity. They consider that to be blasphemy.

Now, either God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Christian view) or He is not (the Muslim view.) Either Jesus is the Son of God or He is not. You get the general idea: Christians worship Jesus Christ as the Second Person of the Trinity. God from God. Indivisible. So you can't separate Him off and say that, oh well, apart from that little point, we still worship the same God. That little point is the basis of our Faith: Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, died on the Cross to save and redeem us.

The fiasco over the "Gospel of Judas" was bad enough. That was just a book launch. This recitation of the Beautiful Names of Allah has crossed the line: Westminster Cathedral is a Roman Catholic place of worship - and it houses the remains of several Cardinals, a saint and the Real Presence of Our Blessed Lord himself. I doubt that you would be able to have a recitation of Handel's Messiah (however secular the performance) in a Mosque. Muslims have a more sensitive appreciation of what a place of worship should be used for.

Oh, and I believe that Tibetan Temple gongs are used to "summon" the deity. I dread to think what might be being summoned. It's certainly not the Holy Trinity, nor the Holy Angels, nor the Communion of Saints. I leave you to work it through to its logical conclusion.

I am delighted to read, on Catholic Action UK, that there are plans for a protest outside the Cathedral at the time of the performance. I think recitations of the Rosary, and of the Litanies of the Holy Name of Jesus and of Loreto are definitely called for. The concert starts at 7:30pm on Tuesday 19th June.

UPDATE: Fr. Tim is trying to see who else is going to be around for the protest. Watch this space for further details.

Friday 15 June 2007

The Effects Of Alcohol...

Having spent several years researching the effects of alcohol consumption (no word of a lie, and I'm not referring to my personal studies in the bar!) it has become a source of endless amusement to read about how all the great alcoholic drinks were invented (or at least promoted) by Religious Orders (think of Chartreuse, Benedictine, Burgundy (yes, monks were responsible for tending those vineyards), Dom Perignon... etc. etc... you get the picture.) Now they've gone a step further...

Over at Idle Speculations, there is a report that Spanish nuns agreed to take part in a study for medical research which involved drinking half a litre of beer each day...

...I forget what the results showed.

Fabulous News!

Err... no, sorry, NOT the Motu Proprio, but still pretty neat news anyway, and as far as I can see I've managed to get my post in early...

Matt Doyle has passed his exams and is henceforth to be known as the Big 3D - "Doctor Daddy Doyle."

Pop over to pass on your congratulations on his tremendous achievement HERE.

Thursday 14 June 2007

I Said I Wouldn't Do It Again, But...

I know, I know... I promised myself (and several other people) that I wasn't going to rise to the bait again. I was going to be a good girl, and just wait patiently. If the Motu Proprio arrived, then I'd party on down with the rest, but I wasn't going to try and guess when it was due out, because there had been far too many false alarms already.

I had schooled myself so well that, when Fr. Zuhlsdorf reported that the document was waiting for translation into Latin, my heart hardly skipped a beat (though I did run the comment past Fr Tim to see what he thought of it.) But I didn't post on it.

I even managed to stay calm when I read that July 14th had also been proposed - partly because Fr. Z was pretty dismissive.

But then I spotted his latest post: there is a report out suggesting that the Holy Father will publish the Motu Proprio before he leaves the Apostolic Palace in Rome for his summer break.

This isn't much help to me: I have no idea when the Holy Father plans to go on holiday. I do know that he's going to be meeting Tony Blair before Blair steps down as PM on 27th June. I seem to recall that the meeting will be on June 23rd, and since there was a suggestion that Blair would be staying at the English College as a guest of Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, presumably the Holy Father will still be at the Vatican rather than meeting Blair at Castelgandolpho...

However, what got me really excited was Fr. Z's comment that a friend of the Pope, Monsignor Nicholas Bux, says it is a matter of days before the Motu Proprio is released.

Oooh... I better go and buy another bottle of bubbly, just in case...

(Mantilla-twitch to Carolina Canonball for the photo which I swiped from her latest blog banner... but I'm sure she'll forgive me, as I did provide the caption...!)

Wednesday 13 June 2007

The Bad Catholic's Guide

As I mentioned before, Ma Beck and I are reading the same book (albeit different copies... transatlantic book sharing clubs never did get off the ground): The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey & Song by John Zmirak & Denise Matychowiak.

I haven't read the first book in the series (The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living) but, based on my reading of the first few entries of the second book, I had to pop over to Amazon and order it.

This book is a treasure trove of fascinating trivia about different alcoholic beverages and the history behind them. And, as that history is generally Catholic and often monastic, the book is also a mine of information on Catholic religious orders, customs and beliefs.

And the authors are sound on Church teaching. The following quote, found under Benedictine, should give you the general feel. It follows a quote from Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, where he says that man tries to make his sexuality a mere object which is both enjoyable and harmless...

In the spiritual realm, whatever is harmless is also generally useless. [Footnote: Here we must choose between two authorities: St John (Apocalypse 3:16: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth") and Golidilocks ("'Ahhh, this porridge is just right,' she said happily and she ate it all up")] If you don't believe us, close this book immediately; call someone to whom you're fairly indifferent to join you at Appleby's for a pitcher of non-alcoholic beer. Now compare that to holding hands with a beloved spouse at Mass watching real wine turn into real blood...

Excuse me, I need to go and read my book...

Die Hard (The Evil Bunny Version)

...well, ok, I lied about the evil bit. However, as I've shown in a previous post, there's nothing cute about bunnies.

It's a quiet day in the blogosphere, and I've been curled up with a book for much of today (by a strange coincidence, Ma Beck is reading the same one), so I thought I'd pass on this little gem which I spotted over at Orthometer. 30 second summaries of various films, filmed in bun-o-vision. So far none of the clips meant anything, as I hadn't watched the originals. However, I'm rather a fan of Bruce Willis, and so this take-off of the Die Hard movie had me chuckling. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to provide an embedding code, so you have to click HERE to watch it.

The Mind Boggles

I was going through my favourite blogs (you know who you are, people!) when I spotted the picture above on Fr Z's blog. I didn't quite see why it was worth blogging about...

...until I scrolled down and saw the entire picture.

Tuesday 12 June 2007

A Question Of Nomenclature

When girl altar servers were "allowed" by Rome (after they had been introduced in a direct act of disobedience) there were many who predicted that boy servers would decrease in numbers. The reason was obvious: most servers are at the age where they don't readily "mix" with the other sex. As a teacher, I could see it quite clearly in any classroom.

The boys are less mature, and generally more rumbustious and a lot more fidgety than girls of the same age. The girls, getting the hang of things more quickly, are more likely to carry out their tasks more efficiently. The boys don't like being told what to do by the girls, and they certainly don't like to be made to feel incompetent. So they back off, and the girls take over. The difference between serving at the altar and the classroom is that serving at the altar is voluntary. The boys, ever more conscious that they are surrounded by girls on the sanctuary, just stop turning up. It becomes a "sissy" activity.

This is exactly what has happened. No surprises there.

Unfortunately, when you allow little girls to serve, then you have to allow the older ones to serve as well. And this then brings up the question: at what age should female servers no longer be allowed to serve?

Rise and Pray had a picture from Westminster Cathedral's Corpus Christi procession, which highlighted the problem. The thurifer was a woman. I'm not too good at estimating ages, but let's say she was no spring chicken and leave it at that. And a mature woman in a cassock and cotta gives a very wrong impression: were it not for the fact that the photo was from Westminster Cathedral, I would have assumed it to be from the Anglican Church.

There is one further problem: if a girl altar server is called a "serviette," what does one call a more mature woman server? I think "napkin" would be quite appropriate... any other suggestions in the combox gratefully accepted!

A Case Of Bullying...

I shall have to consider a reduction in my daily blogging time: I have been informed, in no uncertain terms, that I am online for too long...

...Sylvester has taken to sitting on the arm of the chair next to my computer. He occasionally used to lean forward and put his front paws on the computer desk and head-butt me gently on the chin.

Obviously this did not get his point across strongly enough. Today he sat on the chair and reached forward with his paw to tap me on my arm. When I turned to look at him, he sat back, nonchalantly, and pretended it wasn't him. And when I looked back at the screen and the keyboard, he did it again, with his claws out a bit...

I'm actually being bullied by my cat.

UPDATE: Sophie (the cat who allows herself to be fed and housed by Cate) has written Sylvester a little note, with a picture of herself. She's pretty gorgeous too (but not as scary-looking.)

Monday 11 June 2007


I've just completed reading Fr. Faber's short book on Purgatory - My copy was a book, that is, but in the front the publishers (TAN, who else... I love these guys) make it clear that the book is actually chapter 9 from his book All for Jesus.

In it, Fr. Faber outlines the two views of Purgatory held by the Church, not contradictory views, and both valid. The first is that the experience of Purgatory is a bit like Hell, as punishment for our unforgiven venial sins is justly meted out. The second view is that the soul in Purgatory experiences the pain of knowing its need for purification before being embraced by the Beatific Vision.

The helplessness of the Souls in Purgatory is described, and Fr. Faber explains how prayers and Masses for the Holy Souls give honour to God's glory, and also allows us to exercise perfectly the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Devotion to the Holy Souls also has a salutary effect on our spiritual life:

In the first place, it is a hidden work from first to last. We do not see the results, so that there is little food for vainglory; neither is it a devotion the exercise of which appears in any way before the eyes of others. It implies, moreover, an utter ignoring of self, by making away with our own satisfactions and indulgences and keeping up a tender interest in an object which does not directly concern ourselves... It leads us to think purely of souls, which is very difficult to do in this material world... We thus gain a habit of mind which is fatal to the spirit of the world and to the tyranny of human respect, while it goes far to counteract the poison of self-love.

On a slightly less serious note, I jokingly observed to Fr. Tim that the fires of Purgatory would have the advantage of being warm (I'm nearly always in jumpers and my car's air conditioning only gets used when other people are in my car.) He was quick to point out that, in my case, they were going to be something in the region of "arctic". Somehow I don't think he was joking...

You Know You're Addicted To Coffee When...

...You're employee of the month at the local coffee house and you don't even work there.
...Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.
...You don't sweat, you percolate.
...You walk twenty miles on the treadmill before you realise it's not hooked up.
...Your birthday is a national holiday in Brazil.
...You name your cats Cream and Sugar.
...Your coffee mug is insured by Lloyds of London.
...You haven't blinked since the last lunar eclipse.

Sunday 10 June 2007

Personal Rules

Oh Lord, another tag. I'm tempted to plead temporary insanity, but Newhousenewjob knows me too well to believe that it's temporary, and is unlikely to let me off the hook. Added to which, it looks interesting, though I doubt I'll be able to come up with as many as ten foibles...

"I think it would be safe to say that we all have personal rules that we live by. Surely it's not just ME. I'm not talking about moral rules, like "Do not kill." I'm talking about the silly policies we impose on ourselves, like "Never eat anything you can't identify," or "Don't step on sidewalk cracks." For some reason, I started mentally listing the quirky rules I follow and got curious about other people's personal rules. Hey, why not start a meme?"

Ok, so here are mine:

1. "A cup of coffee" for me is actually plural. It works the same way with tea...

2. I don't eat vegetables. Potatoes don't count as vegetables (especially if they're chipped and deep-fried) but tomatoes do...

3. I never drink any alcohol if I'm driving anywhere, even if I won't be driving until much later.

4. I'm usually the one driving when I go out for a meal, and so I generally order a coke. I hate getting a straw with it, and the ice and lemon just get in the way... so I usually give the order to the waiter as: "Large coke, please - no ice, no lemon, no straw, thank you!"

5. I don't phone people for a chat after 9pm (except for one friend who is a real night-owl, and she has indicated that she prefers late-night calls) or before 9am.

6. At home, I sleep with the radio on.

7. If I'm on my own, I have to have something to read when I eat.

8. As a teacher, I hate having students walking behind my chair. I believe in keeping them exactly where I can see them... I'm also extremely territorial... my classroom, my desk, my chair, my cupboard...

I can't think of anything else... and this is one I'm going to leave open to anyone interested. Just leave a note in the combox to say you've taken me up on my tag!

A Variation On The Duck Theme

I can't remember which Blogger uses the expression, perhaps he (I'm almost certain it's a "he," and I have an inkling he's a priest) can enlighten me... but it goes something like "If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably safe to assume it is a duck..."

Newhousenewjob put up a link to The Simple and the Ordinary: the author, Christine M has a thoughtful post on what exactly makes someone Catholic... and concludes that it doesn't just mean that you think you're Catholic. If you act contrary to, and think and speak against the basic Truths taught by the Church, then, no matter how you try to convince yourself otherwise, you're no longer a practicing Catholic...
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