Saturday 7 June 2008

Tiny Feet Friends

The wonderful Sisters of the Gospel of Life have come up with a new initiative. I assume that it's called "Tiny Feet" because of the pro-life symbol worn by many, showing a baby's feet, perfectly formed, at ten weeks' gestation (I could be wrong here!)

The Tiny Feet Friends Project Pack has been developed with primary school children in mind. I can't do better than quote from their own blog:

The project involves the spiritual adoption of an expectant family, praying to Jesus that the family will be happy and loving, to Our Blessed Mother that the mother and child will be kept from all harm and to St Joseph that the baby’s father may have the strength and wisdom to be a good dad.

Each week the child will follow the development of the baby, relating it to the experiences of their own family and keeping a record of all that they learn. Each week as they pray and learn, they’ll raise money in different ways to support the work of the Initiative.

The pack contains all the resources, information and ideas needed to follow a spiritually adopted child from conception to birth. We’re assuming a fairly significant degree of adult support each week, and each parent or guardian is of course free to decide how much their child is ready to know and the level of detail they want to go into. If you think that this is something your family, or a family you know, might be interested in getting involved in, you can phone us on 0141 433 2680 or email us at gospeloflifesisters(at)googlemail(dot)com.

Friday 6 June 2008

Petition For The Latin Mass

Someone has started a petition asking the Bishops of England and Wales to provide more Sunday Masses in the Extraordinary Form.

I think that the idea is to present the petition to Cardinal Hoyos when he visits Westminster Cathedral next weekend.

You can sign the petition by following THIS LINK. Don't be fooled by the request for a donation from iPetitions... you can actually skip that bit at the end, your signature will still appear (mine did, and I didn't give any payment details.)

Twitch of the mantilla to Damian Thompson.

Receiving Communion Reverently...

One of the major problems at any Mass attended by large numbers of people seems to be how to give Holy Communion to the faithful. I've noticed this at places like Aylesford, but most of all it is something of a problem at Lourdes, particularly at the International Mass. Watching people converge on the nearest priest from all directions makes me intensely uncomfortable. On one occasion, I saw a priest spin round on the spot, giving Communion practically in a circle round himself. Sometimes the line for Communion resembles a rugby scrum more than people going up to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

I had assumed that this was due to the large numbers, and that the actual queues for Communion would never be reverent, no matter how reverent the individuals might wish to be.

This video, taken at Lourdes by Fr. Tim, proves otherwise...

Another few points to note: young people (lots of them) totally engaged by the liturgy. No liturgical dance. No clowns. No guitars. Lots of Latin. And plainchant. And polyphony.

(And no serviettes, napkins or stealth priestesses, despite the large number of women and girls present in the congregation!)

Thursday 5 June 2008

Pastoral Sensitivity...(Or Lack Of It)

I've been to St. Etheldreda's, Ely Place, only a few times, and only once for Mass, but the news reported by Damian Thompson made me very sad indeed.

St. Etheldreda's has quite a history. Built around 1250, it is the oldest Catholic church in England and one of only two remaining buildings in London from the reign of Edward I.

I attended one of the last Masses celebrated by the parish priest just before he retired. It seems that the new parish priest has decided to make some pretty drastic changes, and has gone about them with all the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop.

The biggest change is that he no longer wants to celebrate Mass ad orientem, but wishes to face "the people." Given the layout of the (very small) sanctuary, I dread to think what wreckovations will have to follow in order to get the altar moved. Anyway, the new parish priest has upset more than a few people after just one Sunday Mass in the parish.

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Z who spotted this one first!

Caption Competition...?

"This woman tried to have me WHAT...?"

Ok, perhaps that wasn't in the best possible taste. But the fact remains that, because of medical advice, this mother was prepared to have an abortion.

Not only did the abortion not work, but the serious life-threatening kidney condition turned out to be somewhat less serious than originally thought.

Medical science got that pretty wrong.

Regular followers of abortion statistics will not be surprised to learn that the mother was taking the contraceptive Pill when she conceived.

One wonders what else medical science manages to get wrong... how about, say, the amount of pain a baby can feel during an abortion...

You can read the whole story HERE.

Wednesday 4 June 2008


...Just in case some of you aren't completely convinced that pilgrimages aren't all prayer and hard work...

We book half-board at the hotel, as this allows a space in the afternoon where it is possible to relax in the Domaine (especially as most of the other pilgrims have to dash back to their hotels for lunch) or take time exploring the town, or it allows one to have just a light sandwich, if that is all one fancies (breakfast, and two three-course meals every day can prove hard work!)

I'm very, very fussy. I hate vegetables, and I'm not really into fish. The hotel where we stay puts up their proposed menu for dinner each day, and occasionally, I feel that a little gastronomic exploration at lunchtime might be in order...

One such exploration demonstrated that a mushroom omelette starter can be something rather special:

and resulted in me getting to indulge my passion for roast duck breast:

After a delicious meal, I thought that a little peach ice-cream would go down a treat... alas, to my disappointment, it turned out to be a peach with ice-cream... but I accepted the penance joyfully!

Lourdes Round-Up...

I've finally managed to sort through my photos of Lourdes. I found I had taken far fewer than I had thought... and then realised that Fr. Tim had given me his camera on several occasions (he knows how much I hate being photographed myself.) One or two of the photos have already made an appearance on his blog. I shall have to see if I can get copies of the others.

Here you can see most of the children with the two chaplains (Fr. Tim Finigan and Fr. Charles Briggs - the latest non-blogging priest to keep cropping up on the Catholic Blogosphere!) outside the old Presbytery where Dean Peyramale lived. The pilgrimage was really great; having eleven children along made it that little bit more special - they really seemed to enjoy themselves. I guess that a pilgrimage to Lourdes isn't the most obvious place to take young children, but they can get a lot out of the experience, and they then know first-hand what a pilgrimage actually is... so many times, when I was teaching RE, I heard children dismiss the idea of going on pilgrimage because it would be "just praying all the time!"

Wednesday morning is the International Mass in the Underground Basilica. I already knew, from previous visits, that, in order to secure a seat, one had to turn up early... however, this year was the first time that I found all the seats completely taken a whole hour before Mass started...

The Basilica comfortably seats 10,000. I was told that 40,000 attended this Mass. I didn't - after having come down early, I took one look at the crowds already there, and another at the crowds still pouring in, and, after taking this photo, I turned tail and fled!

The sheer number of people was quite a shock. We went on our "Jubilee Way" walk on the Wednesday afternoon, and found that rather a lot of other people had the same idea... The photo on the left shows the street outside the Cachot, the condemned prison where the Soubirous family were living at the time of the Apparitions.

By the time we battled through and collected our stickers we were feeling a little shaken... when we arrived at the Parish Church where Bernadette was baptised, we realised that the children would be in serious danger of getting squashed... and I had no intention of trying to get up the front steps without being able to use a handrail. We said our prayers outside the church, decided to give the Hospital Chapel a complete miss, and headed back to the Domaine.

The number of pilgrims present made finding a place for quiet prayer very difficult. The area across the river from the Grotto was quite a good spot, as was the walkway between the river and the Reconciliation Chapel. I have to say that the huge crowds really did seem to change the atmosphere of Lourdes: people were less tolerant and more impatient than usual, though the atmosphere was still much better than you'd find elsewhere with these numbers.

Just to give you an idea of the difference: the first two photos are from this year's pilgrimage - taken from outside the Chapel St. Michel, the third one is taken from about the same place, though last year...

Don't misunderstand me - Lourdes was still an amazing place to be. And the majority of people were fabulous. It's just that the sheer numbers made things a bit more tricky than usual.

A Little Light Entertainment...

A friend sent me this by email, and it made me chuckle... (in between coughing-fits) so I thought I'd share...

To my darling husband,

Before you return from your business trip I just want to let you know about the small accident I had with the pick up truck when I turned into the driveway. Fortunately not too bad and I really didn't get hurt, so please don't worry too much about me.

I was coming home from Wal-Mart, and when I turned into the driveway I accidentally pushed down on the accelerator instead of the brake.

The garage door is slightly bent but the pick up fortunately came to a halt when it bumped into your car.

I am really sorry, but I know with your kind-hearted personality you will forgive me.

You know how much I love you and care for you, my sweetheart.
I am enclosing a picture for you.

Your loving wife.

P.S. Your girlfriend called.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

Under The Weather...

... I think I need one of those contraptions. I felt a bit grotty yesterday, hence the lack of blogging. I'm feeling even grottier today, but am also feeling neglected and unloved because I haven't had any comments on my blog... hence my playing of the sympathy card!

Alas, I am well enough to go to work...

Sunday 1 June 2008

The "Down" Side Of Travel

I'm delighted to see that my use of Blogger's scheduling service seems to have worked... I've got a post up for each day. Of course, these posts were explaining what I'd planned to do each day... the reality proved a little different in some cases.

I am now absolutely shattered. I have checked my emails and even gone as far as answering a few. I've updated my situation on the Ikariam game... no mean feat when one has three colonies to govern! I've checked a few friend requests and posts on Facebook. And I've moderated my blog comments.

I ought to go through my favourite blogs and find out what I've missed over the past six days... but I'm just too tired. In addition, I have to finish praying my Office, I need to unpack, and I need to sort out what I'm teaching tomorrow morning... and to whom. Sylvester is all over me like a rash... and I feel I need to make a little bit of a fuss of him (especially as I shall be out at work all day tomorrow.)

Finally, I need to sleep. I was up at 2am (Lourdes time - it would have been 1am in the UK) after finally getting to sleep at about midnight. The coach left for Toulouse at 3am. I think I dozed off for half an hour. The plane left for Gatwick at 6:45am... I dozed off for another half hour. It is now 7:30pm, London time. This means it is 8:30pm in Lourdes. I suspect I "fell asleep" for a couple of minutes during lunch, but I think I got away with it... (uh-oh!) And now I'm really, really tired...

I guess I'll leave the blogging until tomorrow!

The Party's Over...

At the end of a wonderful week, it is sadly time to return home. The one blip on my perfect pilgrimage is the fact that all the lunchtime flights were taken by the time I booked the tickets for our group, and so our return flight from Toulouse is at 6:45am. No, that was not a typo. Ante meridian...

...even more horrendous is the fact that we have to be at the airport two hours beforehand. Which means that we leave Lourdes at the rather unfortunate time of 3am.

So, if there are no delays, we should be back in Blackfen at about 9:30am... just in time for Sunday Mass, in fact, which should aggravate the usual Sunday gridlock in Blackfen in a most gratifying manner.

One of my friends pointed out that I would at least be able to catch up on sleep on Sunday. Alas, I think that my Parish Priest has arranged a rather busy day for me (probably as revenge!)
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