Saturday 23 June 2007

Will He, Won't He...?

Rumours and speculation have abounded for weeks. Today is apparently the big day. No, sorry, I'm not talking about the Motu Proprio (Ohhh, I wish that I were!) Instead, I'm talking about our soon-to-be-ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

The rumours have suggested that he is planning to convert to Catholicism. His visit to the Holy Father later today, as his last official European engagement, is taken by the press to mean that Blair wants to discuss terms and conditions... (I sincerely hope that praying for the EU deliberations to over-run so that he missed his slot doesn't constitute a mortal sin, otherwise I'm in trouble.)

Don't misunderstand me. If Tony Blair has experienced a true conversion, and wishes to embrace the Catholic Faith, then I would be delighted for him. I experienced a major conversion and returned to the fold nearly fifteen years ago, and it is something I shall be eternally grateful for (literally!) I wouldn't dream of placing obstacles in the way of anyone else.

But, embracing the Catholic Faith means exactly that: embracing it. All of it. The nice bits, the comfortable "I've-come-home" bits, the bits that you've felt were right instinctively all your life, and the difficult bits that you don't-quite-understand, and the unfashionable, uncomfortable bits that might just lose us friends. The Faith. In its glorious and magnificent entirety.

Conversion also means renouncing the mistakes of the past, and admitting that they were wrong. This change of heart can be very difficult for one's relationships with friends who shared previous ideas and ideologies, and sometimes there has to be a parting of the ways. This isn't easy, but for most people it is a quiet and private affair.

However, Tony Blair is a public figure. He may protest that his faith is a private matter, but Church teaching doesn't just cover private belief; public behaviour is also involved. The penances given in Confession were once public, and penitents had to stand at the door of the church in sackcloth and ashes for a certain period (determined by the sin) to prove their contrition (this is where the idea of "days off" with regard to partial indulgences arose... ) Mr Blair's voting record on abortion is public knowledge (he has, for example, voted three times to allow abortion up to birth) as is his stance on homosexuality (he said that he "did a little skip" of joy when the first Civil Partnerships were celebrated.)

So, If Tony Blair wants to be received into the Catholic Church, then, in order to avoid causing scandal (which is still a sin, though it isn't fashionable to mention it in these days of public soul-searching on Trisha and Oprah) he really must speak out and renounce his former actions in public. He will need to stand up and swear to accepting the whole of the Catholic Faith. In public.

I also read that Mr Blair wants to be considered for the diaconate. This strikes me as trying to run before you can walk. The report also added that he thought that he could be fast-tracked due to his previous role as Prime Minister. If this is true (and I put emphasis on the "if"), then it is one of the clearest indications that he is definitely not suitable for ordination.

You can read a report on Tony Blair's impending visit in the Daily Mail (which cites Blair's stance on abortion as an impediment.)

UPDATE: Although no earth-shattering announcements have been made, Fr. Ray posts a picture of the meeting between the Holy Father and Tony Blair (and I love the caption), and Fr. Tim has obtained some amazing photos of the lunch given by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor at the English College. Oh, and the blip in the Earth's gravitational field is the result of several of the English Martyrs rotating in their graves...

The Coolest Logo EVER !

Browsing, as you do, I spotted the following illustration, and thought it was quite nice. The sort of thing you'd see on a Brother Cadfael book cover. And then I looked at it more closely... and decided that it really is absolutely brilliant!

Twitch of the mantilla to Cate.

Friday 22 June 2007

English Bishops And The Motu Proprio

This really made me choke on my tea. Twitch of the mantilla to the Confused Papist. And apologies to Edvard Munch.

Not Quite What Was Meant...

Heheheh... all this stuff about buckled shoes and the Classical Rite. I spotted this cartoon over at The Confused Papist...

Thursday 21 June 2007

30,000 th Visitor

Well, well, well... I've actually passed the 30,000 visitor mark. I wasn't expecting to do so until tomorrow, but there's been an unexpected upswing: I had more than 200 visitors today.

Visitor 30,000 doesn't have much in the way of information available. Sitemeter says that the computer uses Microsoft Windows XP as an operating system, and Firefox as a browser. The ISP was unknown. However, the visitor came from The Muniment Room, and stayed for nearly half an hour, leaving via the combox on the post about the Brighton Bloggers' Lunch...

Whoever you are, congratulations! You win a Hail Mary for your intentions (to be said at Mass tomorrow!)

And Speaking Of Backbone...

...Cardinal Pell seems to have more than his fair share. The more I read about this man, the more I like him. Perhaps we can petition Rome to snaffle him for Westminster when Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor hangs up his hat?

Anyway, in addition to making teachers take an oath of fidelity to the Magisterium and warning Catholic politicians about the religious consequences of their voting tendencies (among other things), the Cardinal is to be interrogated by a Parlimentary Committee for contempt of Parliament. This carries a maximum jail sentence of 25 years.

I say we should start up a Cardinal Pell Fan Club...


It is so easy to get bogged down with the injustices and sacrileges which happen in the West. Yes, there are places where it isn't possible to get a Classical Rite Mass, and yes, the Novus Ordo Liturgy can be mangled so that the sense of the Sacred is lost in the teeth-achingly awful happy-clappy atmosphere. And yes, sometimes one wishes that our Bishops would remember that, as mammals, they should be able to locate a backbone and stand up to the secular culture.

But reading reports on Zenit about the Church's sufferings in other countries, such as China, make me realise just how fortunate I am.

The sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be dynamited following a government decision that the pilgrimage site is a place of illegal religious activity.

The Henan Province government will prevent the annual July 16 pilgrimage, which normally draws 40,000 pilgrims for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, AsiaNews reported.

The shrine was built in 1903 by a priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Monsignor Stefano Scarsella, then apostolic vicar to northern Henan. The shrine was meant to thank the Blessed Virgin for preserving Christians from the dangers of the Boxer Rebellion.

The sanctuary lies in Tianjiajing, in the Diocese of Anyang, in a scenic, mountainous area that some speculate will be used for a commercial or government building.

The provincial government has mobilized 700 soldiers for military exercises in the area since May 12, when the planned destruction was announced. Roads leading to the shrine are closed and pedestrians who go near the area are searched.

The faithful of the Diocese of Anyang, appealing through AsiaNews, said: "We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world."

Having just come back from a pilgrimage to Lourdes, I am saddened to hear that so many Chinese Christians will be denied a chance to go to their own shrine, especially since they have only recently rebuilt it. Read more about it HERE.

And Another June Baby...

Ok, still no sign of the Motu Proprio, so I guess I'll just have to content myself with celebrating Mark's birthday...

...Hope you have a good one, buddy!

More On The 99 Names

As the Brighton line goes all the way to Victoria, it seemed to be rather fortuitous that we had arranged the bloggers' lunch for the very day of the Beautiful Names concert at Westminster Cathedral.

Fr. Tim and I arrived at about 6:30pm, and found that the police had anticipated our arrival. There were already some people in the corral praying and holding placards proclaiming the Divinity of Christ. Another priest, Fr. Clifton, soon joined us. Both priests took the opportunity to speak to reporters, and at 7pm Fr Tim started us off in singing the Credo, and lead the prayers and hymns (you can see the programme he came up with over on his blog.)

It was a very good-natured protest (I remember being involved in one or two protests as a radical student, and the atmosphere was far more confrontational and unpleasant) and although we didn't stop anyone going in to the concert, we were at least able to make some people aware of the inappropriateness of a concert proclaiming the Names of Allah being performed in a Catholic Cathedral consecrated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. It is hard to understand why the concert had to be performed in the Cathedral and not at the Royal Albert Hall, or the South Bank...

The real extent of the sacrilege becomes clear when you consider that, in order to prepare the Cathedral for the concert, the regular Masses occurring that day were moved... to the Cathedral Hall ! I think this action amply demonstrates the priorities of the English hierarchy.

You can read more about the Prayer Vigil HERE.

UPDATE: I noticed a question on another blog about numbers in attendance. We did a head-count, and found that there were 60 people present at the protest.

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Bloggers Of The World, Unite...

...or, at the very least, have an excellent and entertaining lunch! I was invited down to Brighton with Fr. Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) to meet Fr. Ray Blake (Saint Mary Magdalen), and was delighted to see that Fr. John Boyle (South Ashford Priest) and Fr Seán Finnegan (lately of Valle Adurni) were also there.

I hate having my photo taken... the only photo I am really happy with is my profile picture: the back of my head with me wearing a mantilla is definitely my best side! I offered to be the "official" photographer for the occasion (as you can see from the snaps I took of Fr Ray (above) and Fr Seán (left)), but unfortunately I was overruled... Looking at the photos which have appeared on the respective blogs, I see that my judgement was correct, and I shall ensure that I don't give in so easily again!

However, since this is my blog, I shall break ranks and put up the much better photo I took after lunch...

Monday 18 June 2007

Our Lady Of The Rosary School Fete

I live alone, and because I've taken vows I shall never have children of my own: ordinarily this would mean that I wouldn't go to the local School Fête. However, one of the great things about our Parish is that it does feel like a sort of massive extended family, so going to the Fête was a pretty major social event last Saturday...

I managed to snap a photo of Brenda Ash (in the blue jacket) who, in recognition of all she does as parish Organist and Choir Mistress, and her involvement with the school, was the Guest of Honour. I missed her opening of the Fête as I went to the wrong school entrance. John Murphy, the Headmaster, and his wife Margaret were also willing to pose!

I feel that these two ladies deserved a medal for bravery: out in the open, selling strawberries and cream. The heavens kept opening, and I didn't manage to see what their emergency procedures were like, but the bowls weren't filled with rainwater, so they must have been pretty fast on the draw!

The bottle stall is usually a popular one. I rarely win anything, but it wasn't for want of trying!! As it so happens, there was another stall with bottles of water and wine with the tops covered by plastic cups. The idea was to pick a bottle, and if it was an unopened bottle, you got to keep it. I did manage to win on that one!

Hair Spraying, tattoos (the non-permanent variety) and face painting were also popular. The ladies on the hair spraying stall tried to convince me I should go brunette for the occasion, but I was a little reluctant...

I think this was one of my favourite stalls: the crockery was real, and there was something very satisfying about trying to smash it to smithereens. Unfortunately I am such a lousy shot that there were plenty of undamaged plates left over...

Funny how men always want to play with a barbecue...

...and no Catholic event would be complete without the UCM Cake Stall !

I didn't manage to get photos of the donkey rides, the hoopla stall, the kiddies' play garden, the bar (and many, many others) because I had a burger in one hand and my winnings (bottle of wine) in the other, and holding a camera under those circumstances is a bit tricky. All-in-all, a very enjoyable afternoon!


Poverty is a virtue extolled by many, many Saints of the Church. However, this poverty only applied to their personal lives and circumstances. The worship of God deserved only the very best that people could provide: often they scrimped and saved to donate money to be spent on this worship. People gave of their best.

Church architecture, décor, the altars, statues, Mass vessels, linens, vestments, music... all reflected the beauty of God, the Creator of all Beauty, and helped to raise the hearts and minds of the people to the worship of God.

It is sad that this idea has been lost by so many, and Mass is celebrated using the bare minimum in the name of "simplicity" leaving beautiful vestments and other accoutrements hidden away in cupboards (I am not talking about places and situations where the bare minimum is all that can be afforded.)

Anyway, one of the great things about blogging and the Internet is that it is possible to see so much of our beautiful Catholic heritage.

Carolina Canonball went to a Franciscan Monastery in DC for the weekend, and she's put up some pictures which are breathtaking. Check them out HERE (the Sanctuary), HERE (the Catacombs) and HERE (the grounds.)

Sunday 17 June 2007

Happy Birthday ! Ma Beck, who's had one heck of a year.

(...and no, I'm not trying to suggest anything about your age by including lots of candles!)

BTW, I bet it doesn't taste half as good as those pound cakes you sent Fr Tim... (one of which I managed to snaffle for my renewal of vows - it was delicious !!)
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