Saturday 28 August 2010

Catholic Voices For Reform..?

I am having one of those times where I don't quite know whether to laugh or to cry.

It started when I saw, via Luke Coppen's Today's Catholic Must-Reads blog (which itself is becoming a bit of a "must-read"), that a new speakers' group was being set up as a rival to Catholic Voices.

Now, I have had a few disagreements with how Catholic Voices was set up, but I do think the idea of a media pool was a good idea. Creating a rival group, on the other hand, seemed like a very bad idea.

With slight trepidation, I clicked on the link. I then discovered that this rival group, called (with complete lack of originality) Catholic Voices for Reform, plans

to provide alternative views on controversial church issues such as child abuse, women's ordination, married priests and homosexuality.

Now, as I said, I have had my disagreements with how Catholic Voices was set up. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that they will represent the Church's views on each of those topics - child abuse (condemning it), women's ordination (pointing out that it is impossible), married priests (explaining the Church's teaching on celibacy) and homosexuality (condemning homosexual acts as sinful, while continuing to call for compassion to those who experience same-sex attraction.)

So, if Catholic Voices for Reform wants to provide alternative views, does that mean that it wishes to encourage child abuse? OK, I'm being slightly tongue-in-cheek. The quote was an example, perhaps, of sloppy journalism, but then it is from an article in The Grauniad. Trust them to take this bunch of has-beens seriously.

The group apparently called itself Catholic Voices for Reform so as to distinguish itself from the original Catholic Voices group. Somehow, I don't find that a very convincing statement. Calling itself something like Voices of Opponents to Catholic Teaching, or Dissident Catholic Voices would have ensured that there was no possibility of confusion, as well as being more honest.

I saw that one of the founders of the group is Sr. Myra Poole, SNDdeN. She's heavily involved with the Catholic Women's Ordination group. Interestingly (ok, maybe not, but humour me...) I discovered the following quote by Sr. Poole in a CWO newsletter:

I also underlined the deep connection between women’s worldwide poverty and the non–ordination of women. I have said this many times in CWO and I have heard others say it as well. If women cannot represent God in public in all sacramental roles and roles of authority in the Church, then it follows that women must be less than human and they can be abused, ignored, raped etc.; in other words treated as non persons.

What deep connection exists between women’s worldwide poverty and the non–ordination of women? Is she suggesting a causal link? Or perhaps just a correlation? Because if that statement were true, then women's poverty would be greatest in all Catholic countries.

And just because women can't be priests, then they are likely to be raped?

Plenty of men have gone forward for Ordination and been refused by the Church. Does that mean that they, too, are treated as non persons? And are likely to be raped?

I have never heard so much utter balderdash.

Sr. Poole was asked in the Guardian article to comment on the real Catholic Voices group.

"She said: 'I'm not frightened of them. They are the official group, they're very with it, but we're not daft. We all have experience and know about theology.'"

Oh dear. "They're very with it." - That rather shows how stuck in the 1960s Sr. Poole is.

"We're not daft" - *ahem* Calling for women's ordination, when it has been categorically stated by Pope John Paul II that the Church has not got the authority to ordain women, and that this teaching requires definitive assent, sounds rather on the daft side to me. When I was little, I wanted to be a ballet dancer. However, on being told that I was almost certainly going to be too tall to be a ballet dancer, I promptly gave it up. Even at the age of eight, I had enough sense to recognise that some things really are impossible.

"We all have experience" - this made me curious. I wondered who "we all" actually was. A few minutes' exploration of Google, combined with the memories of the last time I'd looked up Sr. Myra Poole and the CWO, confirmed my suspicions. It involves none other than the same old crowd - Bernard Wynne, of Catholics for a Changing Church and Stand Up For Vatican II, and Valerie Stroud from We Are Church UK are two of the other organisers. The fourth is Simon Bryden-Brook, an Oblate at Douai Abbey, who is also on the Secretariat of Catholics for a Changing Church.

Looking at the make-up of Catholics for a Changing Church certainly supports the statement that they all have plenty of experience...

"...and know about theology." - I beg to differ. The groups represented by Catholic Voices for Reform claim to support Vatican II, while completely ignoring what the documents of Vatican II actually said. If they really do know about theology, then they are deliberately attempting to deceive the faithful by misrepresenting the teachings of the Church. I prefer to be charitable, and assume that these groups are merely ignorant of Catholic teaching.

Either way, they are hardly representative of the Catholic Church in this country, and one sincerely hopes that they will not be given any further platforms by the mainstream media.

New Technology To Curtail Liturgical Abuses...

Larry D reports that Vatican officials have been considering the deployment of a "pain beam" to help correct liturgical abuses.

When asked what applications the Vatican foresees with the A.I.D., the source only said that it would be an excellent deterrent against error-filled homilies, or would dissuade priests from leaving the sanctuary during the Sign of Peace, or perhaps drop liturgical dancers in their tracks...

..."It's not behavioral modification per se," one said, "but gentle fraternal correction...well, maybe not so gentle, but still - I know of several dioceses that could use one in nearly every parish."

"One of the corporal works of mercy is to admonish the sinner," another pointed out. "No one ever said you can't admonish someone chewing gum during Mass with a laser beam from forty feet."

"We might be witnessing the end of applause during Mass," a third said. "I'm all for it."

Go over to Acts of the Apostasy if you need a good giggle...

Friday 27 August 2010

Food For Thought...

I saw this over at Journey to Therese:

"After you have made a decision that is pleasing to God, the Devil may try to make you have second thoughts. Intensify your prayer time, meditation, and good deeds. For if Satan's temptations merely cause you to increase your efforts to grow in holiness, he'll have an incentive to leave you alone." - St. Ignatius of Loyola

I can really relate to that - the first part, that is. Several times I've found myself thinking "Oooh, yes, I must stop and pray my Office (or whatever)" and then "...just as soon as I've done this..." gets added in, almost seamlessly. And before I know it, I'm up to my neck in other things, with my original resolution forgotten.

It had never occurred to me that this was a deliberate ploy of the devil.

I shall endeavour to be more "spontaneous" and go with my original resolutions... ...and, on that note, I shall bid you all goodnight!


I damaged my right medial collateral ligament five weeks ago. Today, finally, I had an appointment for an MRI scan.

I've never had an MRI scan before - CT scans, bone scans and X-rays galore, but this was a novel experience. I was fascinated - it must be the Science teacher in me. The machine apparently makes the water molecules in your tissues line up with the magnetic field of the scanner, after which the molecules emit radio waves...

Okaaaaaay... maybe I didn't really want to know quite that much...

I was curious as to exactly how powerful the magnets were... after all, you can't have an MRI scan on your leg if you have a pacemaker, or have metal plates in your skull. I had previously had metal screws in my other leg, to help rebuild my crumbling tibia, but I was pretty sure that they'd all been removed. However, you do hear strange stories about instruments being left inside patients by accident, and I did wonder if I was about to discover this had been my fate...

I was told that I couldn't take the crutches into the scanning room, as they'd "go flying," which I found slightly confusing, as I'm pretty sure they're made of aluminium, which isn't magnetic. However, I wasn't in the mood to argue, and hobbled from the door to the platform as best I could without them.

I went into the scanner feet first. Most of the photos I've seen make it look as though there's loads of room in the tube bit... there isn't. I feel very sorry for anyone who has to go in head-first. Very claustrophobic.

I had been warned that it was noisy when the scanner was operating, and they have headphones to help block out the noise. I managed to survive about 30 seconds of the muzak which was being piped in (at top volume), and then I begged the operator to turn it off. The buzzing, clanking and grinding noises made by the machine were infinitely preferable.

Unfortunately, the position in which my knee was held for the scan was intensely painful; luckily it was over relatively quickly. Apart from that, it was pretty straightforward. The results take about two weeks to be analysed and forwarded to the consultant, and so I should find out the verdict some time after that.

Now, I think, I need to go an put my feet up for a bit. I shall try and post something else a bit later.

Thursday 26 August 2010

And, On The Subject Of Saints, Happy Feast Day...!

Fr Baumann Visit 04As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Blackfen was visited by a co-founder of the FSSP, Fr. Gabriel Baumann. He, his nephew and his nieces had to leave early this morning in order to catch a boat, and so he celebrated Mass at the dreadfully uncivilised hour of 6:30am. My Guardian Angel had been given point duty, and I duly staggered into the church, bright-tailed and bushy-eyed, just in time to light the candles (I am soooooo glad that I set things up yesterday!)

The Mass was to celebrate the feast of St. Zephyrinus, Pope and Martyr. One of my commenters has Zephyrinus as his Pseudonymous Saint, so I said a prayer for him, and took a few photos of the Mass for his delectation (sadly, he was unable to attend.) There are a few more photos on my Flickr page.

Fr Baumann Visit 12

Zephyrinus also appears to like cats, and is very solicitous of Sylvester's welfare. I offered him (Zephyrinus, not Sylvester) the opportunity to caption this little photo...

Patron Saints...

When I saw the first item in Luke Coppen's Morning Catholic Must-Reads - Pope Benedict has urged the faithful to choose one saint to guide them through life - I was shocked.

How could I possibly do that? I have so many favourite saints, all with particular characteristics which attracted me for some reason. Surely limiting oneself to just the one saint was an impossibility? After all, one would automatically have to plump for Our Lady - God cannot refuse his mother anything she asks! Where would that leave Catholic devotion to the saints?

There is actually a St. Mac (an Irish saint) which cheers me up a lot, as I hate my real first name, and the saint of the loathed name is one of the more obscure ones. I also have St. Ursula (my second name) whom I took for my Confirmation name as well, more because I didn't want another name to remember than because of any devotion to what I considered at the time to be a purely mythical character.

Then there is St. Jude - my first proper devotion to a saint was due to him. St. Joseph helps me find car parking spaces (I figure he's never quite lived down the no-room-at-the-inn reputation, and so would find me something, somewhere!) I love St. Bernadette (because of Lourdes and her acerbic wit), St. Teresa of Avila (another one who liked to say it like it is), St. Philomena (one in the eye for the sceptics and modernists), St. Anthony (I'm always losing stuff), the Curé d'Ars, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. John Fisher... and... and...

Fortunately, I then read the actual article - a report on the Holy Father's General Audience address - which actually explained that the Holy Father was encouraging the devotion to one particular saint as a model to imitate in one's life... and it mentioned that, while the Pope had a devotion to St Joseph and St. Benedict, (I wonder why he chose them? Hmmmmn...) he had also developed an attachment to St. Augustine.

I'm afraid that St. Augustine is not one of my personal favourites... I found his Confessions rather hard going, and warmed even less to him after having had to read several passages of his on the subject of Psalms (in the Office of Readings) - I would desperately look for an optional memorial to commemorate, so that I could substitute another reading!

But, of course, if it's a case of choosing a saint to imitate, without actually having to ditch the others, then my choice has to be St. Anne Line. I just hope that I don't get to imitate the martyrdom bit. Well, not yet!

Wednesday 25 August 2010

An Interesting Day...

Today has been one of those days. It started brilliantly, went rapidly downhill, and then scooted back up again.

It started off with an unscheduled early Mass in the Extraordinary Form. The co-founder of the FSSP happened to be on a camping holiday with his nieces and nephew, in the vicinity of Blackfen. "In the vicinity" actually turns out to be in the back garden of some parishioners - I haven't quite gotten to the bottom of who knew whom and why they decided to camp in a garden, but I'm more of a hotel person myself.

Afterwards, we all had breakfast and/or tea and coffee in the small hall, and I managed to get a few photos. The nieces were even more photophobic than me, and managed to duck much more quickly than I ever did... but you can see the odd elbow and ponytail...

My knee had been getting steadily better, so those are my crutches you can see at the bottom of the photo - I needed both hands for the camera, and I figured that I'd be ok.

We were scheduled to have a Requiem Mass a bit later in the morning, and, as the Sacristan was off sick, I cleared away after the first Mass and set up for the second. A lot had been sorted the day before, and Gregory helped a great deal this morning (no Dangermouse socks today, by the way) but, in order to get things done, I tried to avoid using the crutches in the sacristy.

I was pleased to make the acquaintance of Charles Finch, Director of the Cantores Missae music group, who was playing the organ for the Requiem Mass. He very kindly humoured me by posing for a photograph at the organ...

After the Requiem Mass there was rather a lot to pack away, and then I needed to set up the Lady Altar for an extra Mass tomorrow morning: I didn't want to leave it until the next day to set up as the Mass is at the horrendously anti-social hour of 6:30am. I have enough problems remembering everything at 6:30 in the evening.

By the time I got home, my knee was excruciatingly painful, and I reluctantly took some strong painkillers and went to bed for a couple of hours.

I had been invited to dinner by Leutgeb, and very nearly decided to cancel. However, she is an excellent cook, and, after my nap, I thought I'd make the effort. I had a lovely evening - the bolognese sauce (delicious) was made using Leutgeb's own-grown tomatoes, we chatted about the Pope's visit, watched the conclave sequence at the end of the film Karol (where Pope John Paul II was elected), watched the Newsnight interview from the night of Pope Benedict XVI's election (where Cristina Odone got told, in no uncertain terms, that Truth is not subject to a majority vote) and mused on the tendency of the media to interview small fringe groups of dissenting Catholics rather than people who actually believe what the Church teaches and go to Mass on Sundays.

I left very happy, clutching a pot of home-made plum jam, a brooch of Pope Benedict XVI (I want to wear it, but we both agreed that it would almost be a shame to remove it from the backing, which has the Pope's Coat of Arms on it!) and her copy of Karol, which I haven't seen yet.

I'm now going to have an early night... Mass is rather early tomorrow...

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Author Of "Fatherless" To Give Talk In Westminster...

Brian Gail, the author of the highly-acclaimed pro-life novel, Fatherless: One More Soul is giving a talk in Westminster Cathedral Hall, Ambrosden Avenue, on Tuesday 14th September at 6:30pm.

The talk is entitled "In the service of woman - Men are called to greatness." The advertising blurb hasn't got any more details on the talk, though the logo seems to imply that it is part of a series on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, and more programme details are promised nearer the time.

There will also be an opportunity to buy the novel (priced around £10) and get it signed by the author, which might be an attractive proposition for anyone who has had trouble obtaining the book in the UK.

Although everyone is welcome, the organisers are saying that it would be helpful for people to register in advance, by emailing Catherine MacGillivray, or phoning her on 020 7931 6064. Admission is £10 (£5 for students, OAPs and unemployed.)

Monday 23 August 2010

Forced Sterilisations Could Only Happen In Countries Like China, Right...?

Think again.

There is that matter of a little piece of legislation which was passed five years ago.

The Mental Capacity Act, 2005. The bit most people remember is that it means that doctors or other carers have the right to withdraw treatment on your behalf if you are deemed to be unable to make that decision for yourself through dementia or other reasons.

Less well known is the fact that the MCA also allows doctors to impose treatments "for your own good" if, through dementia or other reasons you are considered incapable of making the choice for yourself.

"Other reasons," it seems, include having a severe phobia of hospitals and needles. A woman with cancer was  forced to have treatment against her will, the phobia being considered as rendering her "unfit" to make that decision for herself. And, take note, the courts can force you to have treatment which is still experimental in nature.

The Daily Telegraph reported the case of a woman who was considered by her local council to be incapable of understanding what bringing up a child would involve because her IQ was too low. The council, having taken two of her children and given them up for adoption, decided that she should be forced to use contraception. Luckily for the woman, the judge considered their grounds for application to use coercive methods to be faulty: because they had said she didn't know what parenting entailed, it was successfully argued that many first-time mothers would be categorised as unfit to care for their children.

Unluckily for the woman in question, the judge agreed that she lacked the capacity to decide for herself whether or not to use contraception, thus paving the way for the council to have another stab at forcing the woman to have contraceptive treatment.

Of course, the view as to what makes a person incapable of deciding whether or not they should receive a particular medical treatment (or not) is rather open to interpretation. Although the woman's IQ was reported as being 53, and that of her husband was said to be 65, she is attending college and doing voluntary work. The "average" IQ is 100.

Many people will quietly assume that, with such a low IQ, this woman is incapable of looking after a child, and so should be forced to use contraception, and it will cause barely a murmur in the national press.

We need to wake up. This is eugenics. There is no other word for it. This is what they did in Nazi Germany.

How long, in this country where belief in God is already presented as being somewhat irrational, will it be before councils decide that one's religious views render a person incapable of deciding whether or not to contracept, or to abort?

The Good Council Network is alerting people to the dangers inherent in this legislation, and is asking us to pray and fast in order to obtain the judgement to work against all threats to the dignity and the sanctity of human life in a way that is both moral and effective. I urge you to do the same.

Bellahouston Park Furniture...

I'd never given this much thought. I knew that Bellahouston Park is where the Papal Mass in Glasgow is to be held. I know that Masses are celebrated on altars. I know that one doesn't normally find altars in parks...

I guess I just assumed that some sort of temporary structure would be put together. I had seen the report, in the Catholic Herald, of the chair, altars and lectern being made by teachers in Coventry for the Papal Mass at Cofton Park, the designs for which were approved by officials at the Bishops' Conference of England & Wales. The photograph, by the way, doesn't quite do it justice - the stained glass panels still have to be added.

Ian Hall, Deputy Head at Cardinal Newman School, explained that he, along with two other members of staff, had been working for three months at weekends and most of the Summer holidays to build the structures, which, for him, are much more than pieces of furniture.

"I'm a golf fanatic and for me it's like being asked to play in the Ryder Cup," he said. "It's a way of giving something back to the faith. My children will be able to see it and say 'my Dad made that'."

I assumed that Scotland would be doing something similar...

Not quite. I've just seen details of the altar, lectern and chair that have been commissioned for the Papal Mass. It sounds as if they've pulled out all the stops... The altar is being made from marble - the stonemason, Neil Reid, has been working flat out to get it finished in time - and the chair and lectern are presumably also marble, as the press release refers to "the marble structures."

The designer, Niamh Quail, said of the chair design:

"I wanted to keep it simple but also to have a Scottish and religious aspect to it as well.The design is Celtic, incorporating a cross, within each of the four arms are three interwoven leafs representing the Holy Trinity, with the entire design having no beginning nor end."

The designs were sent to the Vatican for approval.

I really loved how the stonemason described the commission:

"I’ve been making altars for churches for eighteen years now but this is the big one."

I've seen a stonemason at work - Dave Povey, when he put in the Lady Altar in Blackfen (he still emails me blonde jokes!) - and I can just imagine Neil Reid quaking as he chipped away at the marble in case something went horribly wrong.

What with commissioning James MacMillan to compose a new Mass setting and going all out to design and make a suitable altar, chair and lectern, I think that the honours definitely go to Scotland for this Papal Visit.

Twitch of the mantilla to Luke Coppen for his Morning Catholic Must-Reads.

Plugging Away...

While we're at it, I shall just point out that, to my intense delight, Ches has recommenced blogging. His incisive wit and thoughtful commentary make The Sensible Bond well worth reading. Do go on over and say hallo...

...though I must just add that the title of his blog does remind me of the Russ Abbott character: "The name's Bond. Basildon Bond... I've got letters after my name..."

In this age of personal computers and electronic mail, I should just point out (for some of my younger readers) that Basildon Bond is a famous brand of stationery...

No Idea How I Missed This One...

I was trawling through a few blogs, and followed a few links, and before I knew it, I'd stumbled across Rosamundi's Ramblings.

It's excellent. Rosamundi has been blogging for even longer than me - since November 2005, no less - and she's a lay Dominican who lives and works in London.

I love her sense of humour - this particular post (discovered while I was trying to locate her for blogroll purposes) had me spitting coffee over the computer and scaring the cat.

Sunday 22 August 2010

While The MC's Away...

... the Dangermouse socks come out to play!

I thought I'd post this photo just to demonstrate to Jonathan, our Senior MC, what happens in Blackfen when he goes off on one of his sailing trips...

Don't blame me... I'm just the Assistant Sacristan. Servers' socks are definitely not in my job description.

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