Saturday 3 January 2009

The Forbidden Cave...

I have been to Lourdes about nine or ten times now, and it is still my favourite "holiday" location. I have, in the past, been down the side of the hill to the grotto (the tortuous, zig-zag path is the only way in and out of the Domaine once the main gates are shut) and I've been to the High Stations on the Espelugues Hill, but not for many years; my knee and ankle problems have stopped me from being adventurous...

I didn't realise that there was actually a cave at the end of the High Stations where people used to celebrate Mass, nor that it was "forbidden" to large groups since an earthquake (though this is debated amongst the chaplains). In actual fact, I had no idea that there had been any earthquake in the area since the Apparitions 150 years ago.

The cave is secured by iron railings. Fr. George, a chaplain at Lourdes, has managed to explore the cave a little, and has made the following video... I notice that he doesn't mention exactly how he managed to get in, but I presume that, as a chaplain, he was able to get the key rather than scrambling over the railings...

As well as the video (which is about 15 minutes long) there is also the blog, Immaculataconceptio, which allows you to make a daily virtual pilgrimage to the shrine. The official Lourdes website can be found HERE.

Vocations Retreat...

Knowing lots of priests and seminarians, especially on the blogosphere, I often read about vocations retreats for men discerning the call to the priesthood. This is excellent, and very necessary, and believe me, I'm not complaining on "equal-opportunities" grounds (apart from the odd remnant of a hankering to be a traddy womynpriest.)

I was, however, delighted to come across the following post about a vocations retreat for women, led by Fr. Stephen Langridge (the Vocations Director for Southwark) at the Dominican Convent in the New Forest from the evening of Friday 13th until after lunch on Sunday 15th February.
The Retreat is for young women aged 16-30. It will cost £30.00.

For more information or to book a place (there are only 9 places available) send an email to Fr. Stephen.

Friday 2 January 2009

One For Fr. Z...

Fr. Zuhlsdorf hasn't actually had any bird-watching posts up for a while, but this caption made me think of him...

The Action Plan...

After another really lousy night, I decided to go to the doctor. Several people (including my mother) told me that I should have gone much sooner... I didn't bother to explain that I wouldn't have been able to go any sooner, given that I wasn't actually at death's door (and so didn't need to get the emergency services out) and the fact that my GP's surgery was closed for New Year.

I got there just before 8am, to find that a sizable queue was waiting for the doors to open. My heart sank, as I didn't feel like exchanging whatever I had for the collection of viruses being incubated by the others. Fortunately, the majority of the other patients appeared to want to collect prescriptions and sick notes, and there were one or two appointments for the nurse. I was informed that there was only one GP in this morning, and that it was a case of sit and wait rather than the usual appointment system... and so I went and sat.

I told the doctor that I'd been ill already for about a week (thus establishing my credentials... GPs usually send you home with a flea in your ear if you dare to see them too quickly after the onset of whatever it is) and that I was coughing up some rather nasty gunk (yellowish-brown and sort-of solid-looking.) The stethoscope was duly whipped out and my lungs listened to. Apparently I was crackly and wheezy enough for a quick diagnosis: "Yes, there's more of it about than people realise, despite all the news reports," he opined. "I've had it already. The other doctor due on this morning has also got it... that's why he's not in. It's spreading. We're in for a bad bout of it."

Feeling slightly guilty, I asked if I should be staying away from other people, especially as I'm a teacher. "No, you should be fine on the antibiotics and the steroid inhaler... and anyway, if there is a flu epidemic, the schools will all be closed... that's the emergency action plan..."

So, there you have it. Parents, if your pride and joy tells you that he (or she) is feeling ill, don't ignore it and send him to school anyway, not unless you want lots of little horrors to catch the bug and all get sent home for a fortnight. Just remember: Christmas Holidays, round 2, without the distraction of presents.

Of course, speaking as a teacher, the idea of a two-week break in the interests of Public Health sounds quite appealing...

We've Got A Little List...

This made me laugh out loud, so much so that it induced a violent coughing-fit, and scared the cat. I saw it on Fiorella's blog, The Monstrous Regiment of Women, but rather than just linking to it, I wanted to make sure I had the actual text. Fiorella didn't say where she got it, though she did have the necessary permissions, and, of course, once it's "out there"...

As someday it may happen that Pope Benedict comes round,
I've got a little list, I've got a little list,
Of ecclesial offenders who'd be better underground
And who never would be missed, who never would be missed.
The diocesan bureaucracy for every single See
That garners all their pennies from the likes of you and me;
The crass renewal programmes which cost parishes the earth
And the Catholic "Intellectuals" who doubt the Virgin Birth
And the sanctuary re-orderers who hide the Eucharist.
They'd none of 'em be missed! They'd none of 'em be missed!

(Refrain: You may put 'em on the list...)

The composers and librettists of a thousand awful hymns -
We've got 'em on the list, we've got 'em on the list -
The episcopal ordinary indulging all his whims -
He never would be missed; he never would be missed.
The highly paid youth worker who knows nothing about youth,
Who sits on four committees and is too long in the tooth,
The well-connected journalist who spouts 'progressive' views
And the feminist dissenter who is always in the news.
And that universal irritant, the layman liturgist
We've got 'em on the list, we've got 'em on the list

(Refrain: We've got 'em on the list, we've got 'em on the list...)

The welcoming committee who shove hymn books in your face -
We've got 'em on the list, we've got 'em on the list -
Fr Ad Lib, Fr Make-it-up and others of his race
They never would be missed; they never would be missed.
The self-important music group who lead you from the front
The ugly new cathedral where you fall into the font
The kind of clergy jollies costing 20,000 quid
Which produce a "Vision Statement" in an hotel near Madrid
And Sister Mary Trousersuit, the trendy catechist
I'm sure she'll not be missed - I'm sure she'll not be missed!

(Refrain: You may put 'em on the list...)

New Year's Resolutions...

As Fr. Ray Blake has already pointed out, the New Year for Catholics started with the first Sunday of Advent. I have given up making New Year's resolutions, because most of them were chocolate-related (or lack-of-chocolate-related) and, with the Christmas surfeit of chocolate, they rarely lasted beyond January 2nd.

This year, however, I thought that a few blog-related resolutions might be in order.

1. I will endeavour to post at least once per day.
2. I will not post more than one blonde joke each month.
3. I will not post more than one cat post each fortnight.
4. I will restrict the use of the exclamation mark to genuine exclamations.

Any further suggestions for improvements of my blog gratefully received (via the com-box.)

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year...

There is something really beautiful about the Church's care for us: you can get one Plenary Indulgence on the last day of the year by singing the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the year past, and another on the first day of the year by singing the Veni, Creator Spiritus, imploring the help of God for the year to come. This is a very comforting thought. It's a bit like the Hail Mary, where we ask for Our Lady's prayers "now" and "at the hour of our death," the only two times which really matter...

Sadly, I didn't make it to church this morning; the dreaded lurgy has moved to my chest, and, after a night spent coughing my lungs up, I woke up too late... 

Monday 29 December 2008

Faith Winter Conference 2008

I don't know how well this will work, as I'm blogging from my mobile phone, and the phone reception is a little temperamental.

There are around 200 young people present, all coming together to learn more about the Faith and to have some fun... the fact that many of these young people have taken three days out of their holiday time to come on this conference just goes to show how wrong Bishop Conry was; there is unlikely to be anything said about saving the planet through the use of low-energy light bulbs, but plenty will be said about salvation. Confession will feature in tomorrow's programme.

A few of us will try to get a Bloggers' photo session organised, but I doubt I'll be able to do any photo stuff until after I get home.

UPDATE: Sadly, we didn't quite manage the photo-shoot. Maybe we'll get more organised for the Summer Session!

Blogging Hiatus...

I'm away for a couple of days, and I doubt I'll have time to blog. With any luck, I shall recover from my cold and return full of vim and vigour, ready to start the New Year blogging regularly on fascinating and important topics...

...then again, given that I'm about to venture forth into the wilds of Lancashire, which is somewhere up North, I shall probably suffer hypothermia and return with incipient pneumonia. That is assuming I don't get beaten to death by northerners who resent the comments about "the wilds" and "somewhere."

Watch this space...
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