Monday, 22 December 2008

It pleased the LORD to bruise him... his soul an offering for sin

"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10)

Christmas is a warm and cuddly story. There is a healthy baby boy, a loving mother, a caring father. There is starlight and angel voices, amazed shepherds and visitors from the orient; there are barnyard animals and a loyal donkey.

We are constantly reminded, however, of the hardship involved. Mary was heavily pregnant, there was no room in the inn, Herod was hunting down the rival for his throne. We would do well to remember that all these hardships are superficial and are not essential to our salvation. It is what comes later that makes the difference.

The Nativity is the feast of Our Lord's Incarnation. The Divine Word took human flesh not on a whim but for a very specific purpose. The Christ-child was on a mission, not a holiday. The babe lying in the manger was spotless and pure, the immaculate son of a holy mother, through whom we are "made holy through the sacrifice of (his body) once for all" (Cf. Hebrews 10:10).

This is, of course, promised to man long before the Incarnation. The Prophet Isaiah announces that a "Suffering Servant" will come. Christ is a servant because, born under the Law, He lived a human life in obedience to the Father. He suffers because He is the Paschal lamb.

When the Hebrews fled Egypt, as God passed over Egypt at midnight, they had the blood of a sacrificial lamb daubed over their doorposts. "For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you." (Exodus 12:23). Just as the Jews were saved by the blood of the lambs of that first passover, so we are saved by the blood of Christ the Paschal Lamb.

Isaiah puts it thus "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). Even though the Christ-child is God's own beloved Son, more pure and holy and precious than anything in the whole universe, God's plan is still that of sacrifice. The babe in the manger will grow up to be bruised, put to grief, and ultimately his soul shall be made an offering for sin.

It's easy to forget this at Christmas time. The liturgical year has Christmas and Easter rather neatly divided. There is but a shadow of a connection between the two insofar as the Annunciation usually falls in Lent. Yet the two are intrinsically and unavoidably linked. From the moment of His birth, Christ's life steadily and sombrely progressed towards Calvary, where the blood of the Son of God would be shed.

If we are to remind the world that Christmas has a meaning, let's remember that it isn't just the Incarnation of our God, but the provision of our Paschal Lamb. In the words of the Patriarch Abraham: "God will provide for Himself the lamb" (Genesis 22:8).

Friday, 5 December 2008

Death of Alexei II of Moscow

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian Orthodox Church patriach Alexy II -- a conservative who oversaw a post-Soviet renaissance of the Russian Church, yet was steadily criticised as subservient to the Kremlin -- died on Friday. He was aged 79.

Alexy, 79, died at his secluded residence outside Moscow. No cause of death was announced officially, but state news agency RIA Novosti, quoting church sources it did not name, said he had died of a heart attack.

An emergency church synod was to convene in Moscow on Saturday to make arrangements for a funeral, which is expected next week but whose date has yet to be announced, and begin deliberations on a successor.

Under church tradition, the synod has up to six months to select a new patriarch.

Russian politicians including President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin quickly offered their condolences.

"A great sorrow has befallen our country, our society," Medvedev said in a statement, calling Alexy II "a great citizen of Russia."

A spokeswoman said Medvedev was postponing a planned visit to Italy this weekend and would return directly to Moscow.

Putin called the death "a great loss" and added that "he did very much for the establishment of a new Russian statehood."

In Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI said he was "profoundly saddened" and expressed grief on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, whose relations with Russian Orthodoxy have long been wary.

"I am pleased to recall the efforts of the late Patriarch for the rebirth of the Church," he said in a message to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, citing the "severe ideological oppression" of the Soviet era.

Despite leading the church during a period of robust revival, Alexy II was regarded by many as essentially an establishment figure and was criticised by some as being too ready to serve the Kremlin's political causes.

Born Alexei Ridiger, he made his ecclesiastical career at a time when the church was controlled by Soviet authorities before forging an alliance with the new Russian state under presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.

The patriarch was an impressive character with a benign expression and moral authority among millions of Russian believers but his personality was always locked in by the deeply hierarchical nature of his role.

Alexy II took stances on foreign policy issues that often matched the Kremlin line, criticising NATO strikes against Yugoslavia, the US-led war in Iraq and defending the rights of ethnic-Russians in the former Soviet Union.

But his role in the international arena was marked above all by wariness of Roman Catholics, whom he accused of "proselytism," and he refused repeatedly to meet Pope John Paul II and his successor Benedict XVI.

He was also, however, a unifying Orthodox figure who helped engineer a union with a branch of the Russian Orthodox church that separated from Moscow-based church authorities after the 1917 Soviet revolution.

Ridiger was born on February 23, 1929 in then independent Estonia, the son of an Orthodox priest. He worked in two cathedrals after Estonia became part of the Soviet Union and entered a religious seminary under Stalin.

He married but then divorced in order to become a monk in 1961 during the anti-religion campaigns launched by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. He was soon promoted to bishop.

Ridiger had a successful career under Leonid Brezhnev at a time when the Orthodox church was effectively controlled by the KGB and dissident priests were thrown into jail.

Despite his ties with the Communist establishment, he made some efforts to curb Soviet repression, including keeping open a famous convent in Estonia that was threatened with closure.

He became patriarch in 1990, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union.

At the time, Alexy was seen as more in touch with the reforms to the Soviet system being undertaken by Mikhail Gorbachev than another candidate, metropolitan Filaret, considered even closer to the Communist regime.

The new patriarch remained prudent after the fall of the Communist system, ruling out investigations against church officials accused of links to the Soviet secret services.

In close collaboration with Yeltsin and Putin, Alexy II used his close relations with the authorities to rebuild the influence of the Orthodox church.

Seminaries were restored, churches rebuilt and church finances greatly boosted by income from customs duties granted by the Russian government during the 1990s.

The lavish Christ the Saviour cathedral in central Moscow, which was destroyed under Stalin and replaced by an open-air swimming pool, was rebuilt in full splendour during Alexy II's patriarchate.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The sign of peace and the nature of the liturgy

Fr Z reports on the possibility of the sign of peace in the OF of the Roman Rite being transferred to before the Offertory. He comments thus:

Hmmm…With due respect, while I understand the biblical foundation for shifting the sign of peace before you bring your gifts to the altar (cf. Matthew 5:23-24), the sign of peace has been where it is in the Roman Rite for a very long time. It must also be noted that the invitation for the sign of peace in the Novus Ordo is optional. It doesn’t have to be done most of the time. It is not of absolute value. This move seems to make it something it has never been.Also, is this not merely an artificial imposition of a change on the structure of Mass?Actually… that was a rhetorical question.This is an artificial change, not an organic. Sure, the sign of peace is in a different place in the Ambrosian Missal. So what? This is the Roman Rite we are talking about. The upshot of this is that the older, traditional form of the Roman Rite, the TLM, now would seem to be even more, if this goes through, the exemplar of stability.

My thoughts? The liturgy is made for man, not man for the liturgy. If such a change will help emphasise the reverence due to the Real Presence, and if there is no doctrinal necessity for the peace being in it's current position, then I'm all far the change. :-)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Wise words.

O generous love! that He, who smote,
In Man for man the foe,
The double agony in Man
For man should undergo.

And in the garden secretly,
And on the Cross on high,
Should teach His brethren, and inspire
To suffer and to die.

Now, name that hymn!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Never a truer word spoken...

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

C.S. Lewis

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Le Pape en France!

Prayer Request

Could readers please pray for a friend of mine who is joining the Royal Marines in the new year. Pray that he is making the right choice, that he will be safe and well, and that he will keep his (Anglican) faith.

Thanks, folks :)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Life-Giving Cross

No visit to Rome, the Eternal City, would be complete without a visit to the Basilica of Saint Clement. A short walk away from both Saint John Lateran and the Colosseum, this ancient church is an architectural Victoria Sponge Cake, consisting of three levels; A medieval basilica on top, a far earlier church in the middle, and the dark dank remains of an ancient Roman street (complete with Mithraeum) beneath the two. The Mithraeum on the lowest level, and the wall-paintings on the middle layer are impressive in their own right, but upon entering the Church there is one treasure instantly beholden to the eye.

In the apse of this magnificent church is on of the most resplendent and opulent mosaics of the Christian world. It is quintessentially Roman, with a triumphal arch dividing the Apse from the main body of the Church, flanked by the imposing figures of "Agios Petrvs" and "Agios Pavlvs", the two apostles presiding over the altar below and gesturing towards the apse. On the triumphal arch there is a small picture of Christ blessing the faithful, but this is clearly not the focus of the church.

Unlike in later Western Churches the focus is not on a statue, of a magnificent altarpiece, or on a great window, or on a crucifix. Unlike in the East there is no Pantokrator solemnly presiding over the congregation. Instead, the apse mosaic is centred on one beautiful subject, the Holy and Life-Giving Cross.

We are all familiar with the Cross being called "Holy". In Anglican circles, September 14th is known by the unassuming title of "Holy Cross Day", and is these days linked to an Anglo-Catholic confraternity of like-minded priests. Yet how can we call the Cross "life-giving".

The cross was an instrument of torture. It is the weapon by which our Lord was put to death. It is the symbol of Deicide, the greatest sin of man, and of Regicide, when the Jews rejected their own anointed King. It is a symbol of oppression by a foreign power, upon which a native was murdered at the pleasure of a foreign potentate, by which the soil of the Promised Land was to soak up the Precious Blood of the Redeemer of the World.

And yet the cross is life-giving.

The cross in the apse of San Clemente in Laterano.

Above we see a closer look at the cross of Saint Clement's. In the centre is the crucified Lord. His head hangs limp. "It is finished". The sacrifice has been made. The Pasch's life has been offered to the Most High. And yet we can see that this is not a mournful scene. From the cross springs life. Vines and branches and leaves all shoot forth from the cross. From Adam's sin and the Tree of Life came death; from Jesus' sacrifice and the Tree of Death comes life.

The foot of the cross.

At the foot of the cross, water flows, just as it flowed forth from the side of the Crucified Christ. "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." The water of baptism comes from the Cross as it is His death that enables us to enter into a New and Perfect Covenant with God. This is the value of the Cross. God uses the Cross to bring redemption, to bring new life, to bring us to himself, to bring reconciliation.

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Thanks be to God for the Holy and Life-Giving Cross.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Ecclesiastical Fashion

...And now, modelling the 2008 Pontifical Cagliari range, His Holiness Pope Benedict...

Cathedral Mass - Missal of Blessed John XXIII

rom the cathedral website:

Extraordinary Form of the Mass

There will be a celebration of Mass according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Missale Romanum 1962) in the Cathedral on Saturday 13th September at 6.00pm.

This Mass, celebrated in honour of Our Lady, is in thanksgiving on the occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical 'Humanae Vitae.'

All are welcome.

St. Mary's Cathedral
Clayton Street West
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5HH

Friday, 29 August 2008

Apologies... not faith, the sorry kind.

My humblest apologies that I haven't posted recently. I have been rather busy over this summer. Please bear with me, I hope to resume any day now :-)

Saturday, 9 August 2008

From Holy Smoke

Worrying news:
(Stolen from Holy Smoke)

The New Mass being celebrated at St John the Evangelist

One hundred parishioners of St John the Evangelist, Allerton Bywater, have petitioned their bishop, the Rt Rev Arthur Roche, to allow the parish to celebrate Mass only in Latin, in both the old and new forms. Instead, he is closing the church this month and has told the parish priest, Fr Mark Lawler, that he will not be appointed to a new parish because his ministry is "divisive".

Fr Lawler told me today: "This is a parish that does exactly what the Holy Father tells us to do, celebrating the Mass reverently in the old and new forms. The bishop is determined to squash it, and to destroy me because he doesn't want me moving to another parish and doing the same thing."

The parish pastoral council has written to Bishop Roche asking why he has ignored its two formal petitions for the status of a "personal parish" celebrating Mass only in Latin, in accordance with Article 10 of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict's apostolic letter liberating the traditional Latin Mass.

It has now retained the services of a leading canon lawyer to challenge Bishop Roche's decision to close the parish as part of a wider programme of closures.

Relations between Bishop Roche and Fr Lawler have been strained for years. The bishop told Fr Lawler some time ago that he wanted him to say Mass facing the people, and that because he had told him what to do it was therefore the will of the Holy Spirit.

Pope Benedict, in contrast, has written at length defending the ancient practice of celebrating the Eucharist facing east. He has also given priests the legal right to celebrate a public Mass in the traditional rite if they are approached by a stable group of the faithful, however small. At St John's, the vast majority of regular worshippers have asked for the old rite to be made available. On August 17, their church will be closed by the diocese.

Fr Lawler says he asked for a meeting with Bishop Roche, but to no avail. Instead, the Vicar General, one Mgr McQuinn, has written to him, telling him: "The Bishop ... believes your ministry to be divisive, is uncertain that ordinary pastoral care of parishioners is taking place and does not have confidence that you will celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass with a generous heart for the vast majority of parishioners who expect Sunday and weekday Masses to be in English and at an altar facing the people."

In an open letter to his parishioners, Fr Lawler describes this claim as "a slur on my character, an attack upon my priesthood and totally without foundation."

Clearly, this matter must now go to Rome. Perhaps the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei might be persuaded to take a closer look at the scandal unfolding in Allerton Bywater.

Early Warning Time

You may think it a little premature to be thinking of Christmas. To you, as it does to me, the Nativity probably seems a long way away. That's because it is.

However, if like me you are at least semi-literate in music and enjoy Christmas music and liturgy, you are probably already wondering how things are going to be done in your parish. The state of Catholic church music in the UK (and outside of Westminster) is (as a general rule) appalling. Few parishes have regular, decent choirs. Even fewer have a proper organ. Only the tiniest minority will be able to sing carols properly: descants, harmonies... ie the way they were written.

If you want your parish to be different, you must act NOW!
If you need to bring in an organist, you should be approaching one now.

If you want a choir, you should be selecting music now.

If you want to move people with beautiful liturgy, you should be planning now.
If you need to form a choir for the occasion, you should have assembled volunteers and sheet music by Holy Cross day. Try to keep it simple if this is the first time your parish has experimented with four part harmonies etc. Stick to traditional carols; there are likely to be members of the congregation who can be moved to remember that tenor line they sang at school, or the descant they used to sing at St. So-and-so's.

Now a word for priests, MCs, liturgy committees, and anyone else interested.

Christmas liturgy should be unashamedly theatrical. Candlelight is a must for a dramatic Midnight Mass. A young child singing a soprano solo will eliminate any Grinch-like tendencies amongst Scrooge-ist parishioners. Perhaps more importantly, the involvement of a school or youth choir will bring in parents and relatives, giving the Church a chance to speak to those who mightn't usually turn up on the average Sunday morning.

So this is just a friendly reminder. Christmas is something that sticks in people's minds. Perhaps, years from now, a fallen away Christian will remember Father Whatsisname's Midnight Mass '08, the way the choir sang, the deep music of a pipe organ, an eloquent homily... it will all come flooding back, and the spiritual life of such a person will re-awaken.

Don't waste Christmas.

Plan ahead!

Friday, 8 August 2008

More Prayers

Dear readers, could I please beg of you once again your prayers, this time for more selfish reasons. Please pray for myself and a friend of mine, for private intentions. Thank you.

Prayers for Peace

It is with horror and uncertainty that the world's media reports today that Russia and Georgia are on the brink of all out war. Georgian aircraft have bombed and strafed targets in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. In the early hours, Russian tanks crossed the border, a de facto invasion of Georgia in support of Ossetian people.

Georgia's pro-Western government believes Russia has been fuelling the separatist conflict in South Ossetia and the country's other breakaway region, Abkhazia, as part of its attempts to stop Georgia joining Nato.

Russia seems to be accusing Georgia of ethnic cleansing in Ossetian villages.

Please keep this volatile region in your prayers.

Requiem Aeternam

As I type this, I can hear the Last Post being played on an army bugle, coming from the Anglican churchyard across the street. I can see military figures in attendance. This, I presume, is the funeral of a local boy killed in Afghanistan recently. We had prayers for him at church last week. Killed by a car bomb on active service, he had been offered leave, but volunteered to stay on in the combat zone because he felt his friends and comrades needed him. They did.

Say a prayer for this soldier, who I shall not name, and pray for all our troops in Afghanistan.

Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Kyrie Eleison

Lord have mercy. The more I appreciate and comprehend the true beauty and love of the forgiveness that Our Father sends through His Anointed, so much more clearly can I see my own sinfulness, and the tragic effect of rebellion against the Almighty in day-to-day life.

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord."

The real danger is that, discovering the fullness of our rich Faith through study, I begin to develop a merely academic relationship with God. Faith turns into knowledge when we forget that Christ, the Way and the Truth, is not only the messenger but is himself the very message itself.

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."

This loss of the spiritual and intimate side of the Christ life awakens in me the worst temptation. In the Gospels, Jesus reserves special scorn and vitriol for the hypocrites, the Pharisees and the scribes. The temptation is that, being knowledgeable of heresy and sin, I am all too often tempted to whitewash over my own transgressions and iniquities in order to come across as my own perception of a "good Christian".

"And the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven; but struck his breast, saying: O god, be merciful to me a sinner."

So I acknowledge my sin. Please, dear reader, don't be fooled by my whitewashed sephulcre. As I am sure you know "all have sinned". I am currently trying to reinvigorate my diminishing prayer life. I think I will try to avoid the pretentiousness of the Divine Office for a little while; that might only inflate my already swollen ego. I have found great comfort in the "Jesus prayer", which I would recommend to anyone; the echo of the publican's prayer is both mournful and hopeful, and the Holy Name reminds me that we have hope in Christ.

"For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son."

The rather magnificent icon just above is a symbol of both fear and hope for sinners such as we. We are afraid, because we know that the Perfect One will judge us against His most exacting standards of Faith and Love, and because we know that some will be burned as darnel in the furnace. On the other hand, it is a symbol of hope, because we will be judged by the one who is our brother in Baptism and Faith. Jesus the Anointed is the Gospel, with the love of a brother and the infinite wisdom of the Omniscient He shall judge us, and we may be saved by that Gospel. The symbols of the Evangelists remind us of this.

"Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."

So I will have faith in Him, pray for His mercy, and trust the one who is Message and Messenger.

Kyrie Eleison,

Christe Eleison,

Kyrie Eleison.

Icon Insight

If you're a comitted Catholic, or a member of the separated Eastern communions, you are probably familiar with the very stereotypical icon above. One hand raised in blessing, the other clutching a richly bound tome, a serene and holy gaze.

A few details may have become so very familiar that we no longer notice them. Take the clothes that Christ is wearing. A scarlet tunic with a rich blue cloak. I am told that the red symbolises divinity and the blue symbolises humanity. The Word, initially Divine, also assumes a human nature.

Now have a look at the similarly familiar scene below. Mary, the human mother of Our Lord is dressed in blue, with red over the top. This is a wonderful pictoral explanation of God's sanctifying work. Mary, who is the perfect example of God's saving and deifying love, is shown as cloaked in the Divinity of the One to whom she gave her all encompassing "fiat".

Saturday, 2 August 2008

This is AMAZING!

What a wonderful fusion of East and West in magnificent Eastern chant!

Spe Salvi

Today I finally bought a copy of the much lauded encyclical work "Spe Salvi". In an age when Christianity seems bedraggled and downtrodden with an uncertain future ahead it will be refreshing to be reminded of Christianity's eternal optimism, trust in the Lord, and hope of salvation and theosis.

Friday, 1 August 2008

S. Alphonsus

From Wikipedia:

Saint Alphonsus Liguori was born in Marianella, in the Kingdom of Naples. He was the first born of seven belonging to the Neapolitan nobility. Two days after he was born he was baptized at the Church of Our Lady the Virgin as Alphonsus Mary Antony John Cosmas Damian Michael Gaspard de' Liguori[1]. Liguori went to law school at age sixteen, becoming a very well-known lawyer. He was thinking of leaving the profession, (He wrote to someone, “My friend, our profession is too full of difficulties and dangers; we lead an unhappy life and run risk of dying an unhappy death. For myself, I will quit this career, which does not suit me; for I wish to secure the salvation of my soul.”) [2] when at age 27, after having lost an important case, he made up resolution to leave the profession of lawyer.

In 1723, after a long process of discernment, he abandoned his legal career and, despite his father's strong opposition (and reluctant consent), began his seminary studies in preparation for the priesthood in the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. He was ordained a priest on 21 December 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples. He founded the "Evening Chapels". Run by the young people themselves, these chapels were centers of prayer, community, the Word of God, social activities and education. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants. His sermons were very effective at converting sinners.

In 1729 Alphonsus left his family home and took up residence in the Chinese College in Naples. It was there that he began his missionary experience in the interior regions of the Kingdom of Naples where he found people who were much poorer and more abandoned than any of the street children in Naples.

On 9 November 1732 Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, when a nun named Sister Maria Celeste Castarosa (whose body would later be found incorrupt) told him that it had been revealed to her that he was the one God had chosen to found the Congregation. This order's goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism which was a heresy that denied humans free will and barred many Catholics from receiving the Eucharist. He gave himself entirely to this new mission. A companion order of nuns was founded simultaneously by Sister Maria Celeste.

Alphonsus was consecrated Bishop of the diocese of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762. He tried to refuse the appointment because he felt too old and too sick to properly care for the diocese. During this time he wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1775 he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy where he died on August 1, 1787. He was canonized on May 26, 1839, by Pope Gregory XVI, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in the year 1871 by Pope Pius IX. He was named "Patron of Confessors and Moralists" by Pope Pius XII in the year 1950, who wrote an encyclical "Haurietis Aquas" regarding St. Alphonsus.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Russian Patriarch shakes Orthodox boat.

Athens- The Orthodox Christian Church has come under threat of schism for the first time in 954 years. The cause is Moscow Patriarch Alexy, who in an act of unprecedented aggression against Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has raised the threat of a major schism in a letter sent to all church primates.
The Moscow Patriarchate has for many years sought to play the leading role among Orthodox churches. The present attempt comes in connection with events in Kiev on July 26th and 27th to celebrate 1020 years since the Christianization of the city’s population by Vladimir the Great. The Ecumenical Patriarch was among those officially invited to the events, to be attended by Ukraine President Victor Yushchenko, and of course Kiev Patriarch and Patriarch Alexy.

But in a sudden development on July 20th, Patriarch Alexy sent a letter to all heads of churches accusing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of ties with the Kiev Patriarchate and threatening the former with a schism “comparable to the events of 1054”, i.e. the Great Schism between Rome and Constantinople.
It should be noted that Archbishop of Albania Anastasios was the first to express his full support for the Ecumenical Patriarch – unlike Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos, who was among the first to side with Patriarch Alexy.

In a leading article under the heading “Towards a New Schism!”, respected Greek newspaper To Vima says, “A downturn in relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow are threatening the Orthodox Church with a new schism. What makes this possibility a dramatic one is that the schism is not the result of potentially worthwhile differences in dogma. Rather, the schism that is shaking the foundations of the Orthodox Church comes from administrative differences over the Church of Ukraine. May the Holy Spirit enlighten them and lead them towards agreement”.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) – For several years reports have been floating around the Internet about an independent group – The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) – seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Some within the Roman Catholic Church as well as other Anglican groups quickly dismissed the seriousness with which the Holy See would be viewing this.

The TAC recently released a letter they received from Cardinal Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office responsible for such relationships. The communiqué made it very clear, without going into specific, that the request from the TAC is being seriously scrutinized. The Cardinal also indicated that the recent activities in the Anglican Communion (per se) did complicate the matters somewhat.

In the most recent issue of the The Messenger Journal, the newsletter of the TAC, Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion stated:

“My Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, It is my great pleasure to be able to attach a copy of a letter I received this morning (25 July 2008) from Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, via the Apostolic Nuncio in Australia. It is a letter of warmth and encouragement… This letter should encourage our entire Communion, and those friends who have been assisting us.”

In his July 5, 2008 letter, Cardinal Levada wrote, “Over the course of the past year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has studied the proposals which you presented on behalf of the House of Bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion during your visit to the office if this Dicastery on October 9, 2007. As the summer months approach, I wish to assure you of the serious attention which the Congregation gives to the prospect of corporate unity raised in that letter.

In referencing the turmoil in the Anglican Communion in general, the Cardinal stated that the situation within the historic jurisdiction “has become markedly more complex during this same period.” He promised to inform the TAC when his office is in a position to respond more definitely to the proposal they have put forth.

The original reports, from a few years ago, indicated that the TAC had petitioned the Vatican to come into full communion while being allowed “sui juris” status, which meant that their bishops would maintain episcopal authority over their jurisdictions while still being in full communion. This part of the request separates the TAC from other groups who have sought a relationship, as others acknowledged their willingness to surrender their episcopal faculties.

Some in the Roman Catholic Church who are aware of the new initiatives available to Anglicans through the Pastoral Provision, established by Pope John Paul II, have said that the TAC will not make much headway if they hold on too tight to their episcopates. Even the most recent meetings between the “flying bishops” of the Anglican Communion and Rome acknowledged that the bishops would not continue in their episcopal role.

From all indications, Rome may first need to address the overall issue with the worldwide Anglican Communion and the request of some bishops for reception of their parishes before they are able to give any further attention to the TAC request.

The Traditional Anglican Communion describes themselves as a worldwide association of Orthodox Anglican Churches. They report having 400,000 communicants on 6 continents. Members groups include the following:

In Europe: The Traditional Anglican Church (England) and The Church of Ireland - Traditional Rite

In Africa: The Anglican Church in Southern Africa - Traditional Rite, The Church of Umzi Wase Tiyopia, and The Continuing Anglican Church in Zambia

In the Americas: The Anglican Church in America, The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, The Missionary Diocese of Central America, and The Missionary Diocese of Puerto Rico

In Asia: The Anglican Church of India, The Orthodox Church of Pakistan, and The Nippon Kirisuto Sei Ko Kai (Japan)

In Australia: The Anglican Catholic Church of Australia and The Church of Torres Strait


Today I discovered a very interesting blog called "Eirenikon" which works "Towards Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation." A noble cause and a fascinating blog. Pay them a visit here.

A return to blogging

Blogging has been sporadic recently due to a rather irregular timetable over the summer. I am quite busy some days and joyously lazy on others. Hopefully I will be able to make up for lost time with a few good posts over the next few days.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Ebbsfleet Invictus!

Pinched from Holy Smoke.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, is to lead his fellow Anglo-Catholics from the Church of England into the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Herald will reveal this week.

Bishop Burnham, one of two "flying bishops" in the province of Canterbury, has made a statement asking Pope Benedict XVI and the English Catholic bishops for "magnanimous gestures" that will allow traditionalists to become Catholics en masse.

He is confident that this will happen, following talks in Rome with Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kasper, the Vatican's head of ecumenism. He was accompanied on his visit by the Rt Rev Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough, the other Canterbury "flying bishop", who is expected to follow his example.

Bishop Burnham hopes that Rome will offer special arrangements whereby former Anglicans can stay worshipping in parishes under the guidance of a Catholic bishop. Most of these parishes already use the Roman liturgy, but there may be provision for Anglican prayers if churches request it.

Anglican priests who are already married will not be barred from ordination as priests, though Bishop Burnham would not be able to continue in episcopal orders, as he is married and there is an absolute bar on married bishops in the Roman and Orthodox Churches.

In his statement, Bishop Burnham explains why he is rejecting the code of practice offered to traditionalists by the General Synod last night. "How could we trust a code of practice to deliver a workable ecclesiology if every suggestion we have made for our inclusion has been turned down flat?" he asks.

"How could we trust a code of practice when those who are offering it include those who have done most to undermine and seek to revoke the code of practice in force for these last 14 years? ...

"What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales. Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us."

Monday, 7 July 2008

General Synod

From the BBC:

The Church of England's ruling body, the General Synod, has voted to confirm the ordination of women bishops.

But a national code of practice to accommodate traditionalists was also approved by the Synod, which was meeting in York.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Robert Piggot said the code would set out as-yet unspecified safeguards.

Some 1,300 clergy had threatened to leave the Church if safeguards were not agreed to reassure traditionalists.

Our correspondent the vote on ordaining female bishops was conclusive and was accompanied by emotional scenes

'Structurally humiliating'

Opponents of their ordination had made the threat to leave in a letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York, but critics say many of the signatories are retired rather than serving clergy.

Women in the Church had said any compromise allowing traditionalists to go to parallel or "super-bishops" instead of female bishops would institutionalise division.

During the debate at the University of York, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said he would be in favour of "a more rather than a less robust" form of accommodating traditionalists.

He added: "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends up, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated to the episcopate."

The first women were ordained as priests in the Church of England in 1994.

I really do hope that the Anglo-Catholics can escape. The Anglican bishops who have recently been in talks with the CDF in Rome are believed to completely bypassed the liberal Catholic bishops of England and Wales. I have also heard rumours that one member of the English heirarchy has gone as far as to say that he is in favour of women in Holy Orders. Kyrie Eleison...

A request

Could any readers out there (I'm sure there must be somebody reading these words!) keep me in their prayers over the next few days. Hopefully I will soon be able to have my family's blessing to become a Catholic. Sadly I've pretty much given up hope of being received before I'm in Rome (next Sunday night lol), so bar a miracle, its going to be pretty depressing being in the Eternal City and unable to receive communion, something which I'd really hoped would be possible. Still, our God moves in myserious ways, so I'm sure such an experience would not be without fruit. Anyway, please remember me in your prayers over the next few days. :-)

Friday, 4 July 2008

Death on the NHS

July 3, 2008 ( - A British "end of life" care protocol approved for use by the National Health Service (NHS), has created a systematic, and legal, method of euthanising elderly and disabled patients, even while "mercy killing" remains officially illegal, says a prominent expert in elder care. The "Liverpool Care Pathway" will be used to eliminate patients deemed to be "blocking beds" in the increasingly financially strapped public health system.

For years, Dr. Adrian Treloar, a psycho-geriatrician and senior lecturer at the Greenwich Hospital and Guys', King's and St. Thomas's Hospitals in London, has been sounding the warning that the NHS has an unofficial system in place to authorise the killing of vulnerable disabled patients with an unwritten policy of "involuntary euthanasia" by deep sedation and dehydration.

On April 26, 2008, Dr. Treloar wrote a letter to the British Medical Journal, saying that the protocol known as the "Liverpool Care Pathway" for dying patients, is a blueprint for systematic euthanasia of disabled patients. The Liverpool Care Pathway, which allows for "continuous deep sedation" for patients judged to be incurable, was developed between the Royal Liverpool hospital and Marie Curie cancer hospices in order to standardise the medical approach to dying that could then be used as a template nationally. Combined with withdrawal of fluids, deep sedation leads quickly to death.

In 1999, the NHS dismissed Dr. Treloar's warnings as "ludicrous." But media coverage of families resorting to lawyers to stop the killing of their relatives has made it increasingly difficult for health officials to deny that there is an accepted euthanasia procedure in place. Dr. Treloar maintains that the motivation for killing patients judged to be incurable is not the relief of extreme suffering but the enormous pressure on the socialised health care system to make hospital beds available and the "triaging" of costly tax-sponsored medical care.

Since that time, the government passed legislation in 2005 - the Mental Capacity Act - that, following existing guidelines from the British Medical Association, allows doctors to withhold all "treatment," including food and water, from patients who are judged to be incapable of making decisions for themselves. Under this law, doctors, and not the family and not the patient, have the last say in whether a patient is judged mentally capable. Once this judgement has been made, withdrawal of fluids can be ordered on the grounds that it is in the patient's "best interests" to die. If families try to intervene to save their loved ones lives, social services and police can be, and have been, called to intervene.

Since 2000, the instances of helpless patients being denied the basic necessities needed to sustain life are becoming more prominent in the news. Only this week, the BBC reported on the case of Mrs. Ellen Westwood, an 88 year-old woman whom doctors had decreed was 'due to die' in February, and whose life was saved only after the determined efforts of her family and clergy resulted in her being removed from the hospital.

Dr. Treloar wrote that the Liverpool Care Pathway threatens patients because its "eligibility criteria do not ensure that only people who are about to die are allowed on the pathway."

"They allow people who are thought to be dying, are bed-bound, and are unable to take tablets onto the pathway. In chronic diseases such as dementia, dying may take years, but
such patients may be eligible."

Elspeth Chowdharay Best, from the anti-euthanasia group ALERT, wrote recently, "Death by dehydration has been occurring for some years in Britain without the new official blessing [of the Liverpool Care Pathway protocol] and sometimes challenged by relatives."

The Sunday Times reported on May 18 this year that many families are "dismayed" that their cases are not being included in a long-term investigation into ten suspicious deaths of elderly patients in a convalescent home in Hampshire between 1996 and 1999. Mike Wilson told the Times that his 91 year-old mother, Edna Purnell, had been out of bed and using a walking frame when she was transferred to the Hampshire unit for what was supposed to have been a brief period of rehabilitation.

Records show that Mrs. Purnell was put to bed and given morphine. The hospital threatened Mr. Wilson with arrest when he was caught feeding his mother. She was judged to be "demented" and thus falling under the auspices of the Mental Capacity Act. Mr. Wilson told the times that his mother was not "demented" before she was given morphine: "We are in no doubt that this is what killed her."

Thursday, 3 July 2008

New Stuff

You will notice that I have re-done the blog a bit. The new template is a bit more minimalist and easy on the eyes. The sidebar has been re-done with some nice pictures. If you scroll down the boring bits, you will see that I have compiled a little illustrated version of the life of Christ; some very beautiful artwork (mostly Renaissance) and text from the Nova Vulgata.


Liturgical Rumours

The New Liturgical Movement has picked up on a rumour in an Italian weekly "Panorama" as follows:


The rite of the Mass could change. According to some indiscretions, Benedict XVI has charged the Congregation for Divine Worship to study some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, the Pope is said to have the intention to restore Latin for the formula for the Eucharistic consecration within the Mass in the "vernacular language", i.e. the one celebrated in the different national languages. The same could happen to the formulae of Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and of the other sacraments. In addition, the exchange of peace among the faithful during the Mass, which today takes place prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, could be anticipated (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory so as not to disturb the recollection that precedes Communion.

These would be changes which would be added to the changes in the liturgy and regarding sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, has made in recent months, to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful in the mouth while kneeling, the recovery of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the changing of the style of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in the Consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.

Remember folks; these are just rumours. However, I'm sure many of us are pleased to hear this, particularly with regard to the place of the peace during the celebration. It was moved to its current place during the liturgical revisions of Gregory the Great. If it were moved it might prevent the chaotic general free-for-all that seems to take place in most celebrations of the current Novus Ordo. One wonders how many times Fr. Z will type the words "Marshall Plan" should he post on the matter...

St. Thomas

Today is the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle.

Poor Thomas always seems to get bad press as "Doubting Thomas". Saint John tells us that when the Resurrected Christ appeared to his disciples on the evening of Easter Day, Thomas was not present, leading to his disbelief when the others informed him of this wondrous event. A week later the Apostles were all gathered together in the house. Christ appeared amongst them. Thomas recognised Him and acknowledged Christ as "My Lord and my God!". Just as Peter proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as Christ, so too St Thomas here proclaims clearly his and our acknowledgement of the Divinity of Christ; he is thus also called Thomas the Believer.

According to pious legend, it was St Thomas who witnessed the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. The apocryphal "The Passing of Mary" explains that the other apostles were present at the Virgin's deathbed, the Dormition, but that Thomas was characteristically late! It was only when the Apostles took him to Mary's grave that it was found empty.

St John of Damascus mentions it thus:

"St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon (451), made known to the Emperor Marcian and Pulcheria, who wished to possess the body of the Mother of God, that Mary died in the presence of all the Apostles, but that her tomb, when opened, upon the request of St. Thomas, was found empty; wherefrom the Apostles concluded that the body was taken up to heaven. "

A more generally accepted fact is that he evangelised vast swathes of the Middle East and India. Some modern Christians in India who trace their roots to his mission are know as the "Thomas Christians".

Monday, 30 June 2008

Seminary of the future?

YouTube's finest. Enjoy :-)

"Orthodox and mainstream"

The Times has today run a rather long article entitled "Come all ye faithful", which lauds the Catholic Church in the UK (although focusing almost entirely on England and Wales) as "thriving", something which I'm sure we can all take pride in.

Alban McCoy, a Franciscan and chaplain at Cambridge University, implies that this current Catholic revival is enjoyed partly due to the chaos which seems ready to tear apart the Anglican "inclusive" church experiment. Further, the delightfully named Fr. Terry Tastard of Holy Trinity Church (Brook Green, London) speculates that as many as five hundred Anglican clergy may seek to convert if the CofE goes ahead with its plan to consecrate female "bishops". One can't help but feel that the Anglo-Catholics have been truly isolated; they are clearly opposed to the liberalism of Anglicans of the UK and the US, and yet they merely a convenient ally for the burgeoning ultra-protestant evangelical wing finding a voice at GAFCON in Jerusalem.

But I digress. The paper immediatley hits upon the winning formula. Father Peter Geldard, of the University of Kent sums it up thus, "Its orthodox and mainstream". Praise for Benedict XVI's recent moves is also present, mentioning a thriving "Tridentine" Mass at the Brompton Oratory.

My favourite part of the article was by far the description of Timothy Radcliffe O.P. as "that perculiarly Dominican phenomenon, an orthodox radical." Orthodoxy is clearly the key remedy to the Church's woes.

The effects of Catholicism's revival, the great Benedictine voyage to rediscover Roman Catholicism's identity are already being felt, Fr Alban McCoy of the "dynamic" Cambridge chaplaincy says "we've had to buy extra communion hosts... we had 15 converts this year. And we've had 14 vocations to the priesthood and religious life since 2000." If this sounds like a drop in the ocean to you, dear reader, the good news is that the trend appears to be spreading.

In 2003, in England and Wales, a phenomanally low 23 people entered the seminary or religious houses. Last year the number had risen to 44.

Let's hope these trends continue!
Deo gratias!

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Another pretty liturgy picture :-)

From the Toronto Oratorty. Don't you love the Bishop's chasuble?

Thought you'd like this:

SS Peter and Paul; Roman style!

A beautifully dignified entrance.

Seven candles. Not a "Two Ronnies" sketch.

A view of the new-old-new-old... the Benedict XVI pallium.

Ut unum sint! The Patriarch is a captivating man. I was listening to him speak last night on the CTV broadcast from the solemn vespers. He is a man who the Holy Father can "do business with."

Kneeling. Tongue. Paten.

Need we say more?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

SS Peter and Paul

"I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven."

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, ... according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead; By whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for his name; Among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ."

Sunday June 28/29

Solemntity of SS Peter and Paul, Apostles

Collect: Lord our God,
encourage us through the prayers
of Saints Peter and Paul.
May the apostles who strengthened the faith
of the infant Church help us on our way of salvation.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

From "":

Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God's providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the basilica of St. Peter's. St. Paul was beheaded in the via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


SYDNEY (AFP) — Catholics attending a mass by Pope Benedict XVI in Australia will be handed condoms by protesters angered by his opposition to contraception, homosexuality and abortion, organisers said Tuesday.

The protest will be staged by the NoToPope Coalition of Christians, atheists and gay groups during Catholic World Youth Day celebrations expected to draw hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to Sydney next month.

"We will march to be with the pilgrims to hand out condoms to the pilgrims, the Catholic youth," spokeswoman Rachel Evans told a news conference.

"(We will) say to them, 'Take up the campaign within the Catholic church to allow the Catholic church to promote condoms'," she said.

Evans said the peaceful protest would condemn the pope's stance against condoms, homosexuality and abortion, describing the pontiff as "a bigot" over same-sex relationships.

A pastor from Sydney's Metropolitan Community Church, Karl Hand, said the pope was misrepresenting Christian views.

"I'm compassionate towards people who need condoms, who need abortions, who need all sorts of recognition of their relationship and it's just not being provided by this massive worldwide church," he said.

"A lot of the views being taken up by the pope are anti-humanity in general, so that's upsetting."

The coalition includes the Metropolitan Community Church, Atheists Sydney, Community Action Against Homophobia and the Socialist Alliance, among other groups, the statement said.

The coalition plans to hold a public rally in the city on July 19 and then march toward Randwick Racecourse, where pilgrims will be gathering for a papal mass the next day which is expected to draw 500,000 people.

The five-day celebration of Catholic youth has been billed as a major boost to the economy of Australia's largest city, attracting up to 125,000 international visitors.

But there has been a stream of grumbles over the event's cost, its impact on businesses as well as the inconvenience it will cause the city's residents.

About 26 percent of Australia's 21 million people described themselves as Catholics in the most recent census, while 19 percent said they had no religion.

Priests take note!

Remember this from January?

Novus Ordo can look great too! :-)

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Closer and closer

From the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations:


Domenica 29 giugno 2008, Solennità dei Santi Apostoli Pietro e Paolo, il Santo Padre Benedetto XVI celebrerà l’Eucaristia, alle ore 9.30, nella Basilica Vaticana, con la partecipazione del Patriarca Ecumenico Bartolomeo I.

Il Patriarca Ecumenico e il Santo Padre terranno l’omelia, reciteranno insieme la professione di fede e impartiranno la benedizione.

Concelebreranno con il Santo Padre i nuovi Arcivescovi Metropoliti, ai quali il Pontefice imporrà il sacro Pallio preso dalla Confessione dell’Apostolo Pietro.

Rough translation:

"Holy Mass of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul presided by the Holy Father Benedict XVI with the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The Holy Father Benedict XVI will celebrate the Eucharist at 9:30 on Sunday the 29th of June 2008, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, with the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

The Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Father will deliver the homily, recite the profession of faith, and impart the blessing.

Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be the new Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom the Pontiff will bestow the sacred Pallium taken from the Confessio of the Apostle Peter."

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Nazir-Ali to boycott Lambeth '08

The reporter once dubbed "the blood-soaked ferret", Damian Thompson of 'Holy Smoke', has broken the gripping news that the Anglican Bishop of Rochester, Pakistani-born Michael Nazir-Ali, will be boycotting the meeting of Anglican Bishops at Lambeth this summer.

The following is taken from Mr Thompson's blog:

The news that Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, is boycotting the Lambeth Conference is a seriously important story. Bigger than anything happening at Gafcon.
Nazir-Ali is building a creeping power base inside the Church of England among ordinary churchgoers. That makes his absence from Lambeth a really high-profile setback for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Rochester says he is staying away from Lambeth in protest at the presence of pro-gay bishops; other evangelical bishops may follow suit (and I reckon the numbers would be even larger if Nazir-Ali didn't annoy his colleagues so much with his self-importance).
But - and this is the crucial point - Nazir-Ali's popularity in England has very little to do with anti-gay sentiment. It's almost entirely the result of his brave stance against the creation of islands of Sharia law in Britain.
To me, by far the most shocking episode in the Church this year has been Dr Williams’s call for the extension of watered-down Sharia, and his slippery attempt to extricate himself from the controversy. The Pakistani-born Nazir-Ali has caught the mood of the nation as no other bishop has; his boycott of Lambeth will remind us all that the C of E has utterly failed to grapple with the challenge of radical Islam.
I hope Islam will loom far larger on the agenda of the Lambeth Conference than the issue of homosexuality. At any rate, bishops, fasten your stoles: we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Deo Gratias!

One hundred posts and still going!

Exams, holidays, laziness; none have been able to prevent this blog continuing. I even have a few people reading it. Hopefully there'll be even more posting during the summer months as I have more free time on my hands. :-)

Valle Adurni

I would advise any readers who do not already do so to consider reading that most eminent Catholic blog "Valle Adurni". Of particular note today, is this post, detailing aspects of patriotism, obedience, and the martyrdom of SS. Thomas More and John Fisher.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Saint Alban

Albanum egregium fæcunda Britannia profert
("Fruitful Britain holy Alban yields").

From Wikipedia:

Alban sheltered a Christian priest (Geoffrey of Monmouth's later interpolation giving his name as "Amphibalus", the name for the cloak) in his home, and was converted and baptised by him. When the "impious prince", as Bede has called him, sent Roman soldiers to Alban's house to look for the priest, Alban exchanged cloaks with the priest and was arrested in his stead at Chantry Island. Alban was taken before the magistrate, who was furious at the deception and ordered that Alban be given the punishment due to the priest if he had indeed become a Christian. Alban declared, "I worship and adore the true and living God who created all things." These words are still used in prayer at St Albans Abbey. St Alban was eventually sacrificed to the Roman gods and was condemned to death. He was taken out of the town across the River Ver to the top of the hill opposite. The reputed place of his beheading is where St Albans Cathedral now stands.

In June 2002 a clavicle (collar bone), believed to be a relic of St Alban, was presented to St Albans Cathedral and placed inside the saint’s restored 13th century shrine. The bone was given by the Church of St Pantaleon in Cologne, Germany. St Pantaleon's, like St Albans Cathedral a former Benedictine abbey church that had a shrine dedicated to St Alban, has possessed remains believed to be those of St Alban since the 10th century. It is entirely possible that further relics were acquired by the church in the 16th century at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, when many such relics were smuggled abroad to prevent their destruction. St Albans Abbey was dissolved in 1539.

I have a relative who lives in a small village outside modern St Alban's, and during a visit earlier this year I was privileged to visit the Cathedral. I will readily admit that I am not easily impressed by Cathedrals; the close proximity of Durham Cathedral, one of the most beautiful structures ever built by man, sort of spoils the rest. However, I can honestly say that St Alban's Cathedral took my breath away. The first thing you notice is the sheer length of the nave and chancel.

The next thing one notices, upon entering the cavernous interior of the cathedral, is the stunning array of primitive wall paintings. The medieval paintings found on the pillars of the nave (highlighted) are truly remarkable, and each was originally above a small stone altar at which Benedictine monks could say Mass individually.

I believe that this last picture, above, is situated next to the Shrine itself and may depict St Willaim of York. It reminds me of the painting of St Cuthbert in the Gallilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral, above the tomb of St Bede, which is shown on the sidebar of this very blog :-)

When thinking about the circumstances of St Alban's noble martyrdom, his selflessness, and his testimony to the fact that there is indeed "no greater love" than to "lay down one's life for one's friends", I find it hard not to draw parallels with the martyrdom of St Maximillian Kolbe. Both victims of a tyranny. Both exchanged their own lives to save another. Both brought such glory to God by doing so.

Millenia apart, God called each to a painful vocation of martyrdom, and each responded with such unlimited and self-giving love as to seek to imitate Christ's own.

St Alban!

Ora pro nobis!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Now THIS is advertising!

Stolen from Forest Murmurs

Northumbrian Water is starting to treat churches as businesses rather than charities and charging churches for the amount of area (i.e. roofs and car parks) that will collect rainwater and discharge it into the sewer network. This could raise most churches’ water bills by hundreds if not thousands of pounds - especially any with extensive roofs and lots of gutters.

The Bishops of Newcastle, Durham, and Hexham and Newcastle have already written to Northumbrian Water and OFWAT and to local MPs about this issue but unfortunately with no effect- Northumbrian Water say that they are acting within the rules and making a change in this area would disadvantage their other customers. There is now an online petition asking the Prime Minister to instruct water companies to change their policy. Please register and pass this email onto anyone else you think will sign it. The petition needs at least 15,000 signatures to be noticed and at present stands at about 4,300 so responses are needed as soon as possible and not later than July 7th. You can register your name on the petition by clicking on the link below:

Friday, 13 June 2008

A tasty treat: Anglican fudge

Have a look :-)

OK, so its a little bit odd. But it makes a point...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Long time no... er... blog...

The last time I posted, I used one of these.
Dear readers,

With exams set to finish in just under a week, I will soon resume regular blogging. Although I have little time to write anything substantial now, I'll be reading other blogs, and will be curious to find any new ones. If you're reading this, and haven't got your (blog's) name in the list to the right, comment and I'll put you up. Unless I don't like you. But that almost never happens...

Normal posting will resume shortly. Keep checking back here, and soon you'll start to see some gloriously regular posting.
In Christ,

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Friday, 16 May 2008

Smoke of Satan

From Cardinal Noe:

"Ora bisogna recuperare, e in fretta, il senso del sacro nell’ars celebrandi, prima che il fumo di Satana pervada completamente tutta la Chiesa. Grazie a Dio, abbiamo Papa Benedetto XVI: la sua Messa e il suo stile liturgico sono un esempio di correttezza e dignità”.

Now we must rediscover, and quickly, the sense of the sacred in the ars celebrandi before the smoke of Satan utterly pervades the whole Church. Thanks be to God, we have Pope Benedict: His Mass and his liturgical style are an example of correctness and dignity."

Why pray the Rosary?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

First they beat us at cricket... its the flipping liturgy!

Read this, and enjoy!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Please pray for me.

Exams begin tomorrow. Posting may be thin for a while.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, pray for me, and all who sit exams at this time.


Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?"

"Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort."

Startling words from the Virgin to the three children. Mary, whose heart was pierced as by a sword, teaches the children that Christianty isn't an easy religion. Christ is stark and real. The Gospel can seem harsh. Sin and death must be dealt with in our world.

Even if (like me) you are not in the habit of praying the Rosary, today is a great day to pray this wonderful prayer.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


"When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech."

Veni, Creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita
Imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.

Qui Paraclitus diceris,
Donum Dei Altissimi,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.

Tu septiformis munere,
dextrae Dei tu digitus;
tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,
infirma nostri corporis,
virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque duces protinus,
ductore sic te praevio,
vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium,
te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Sit laus Patri cum Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito:
nobisque mittat Filius
charisma Sancti Spiritus.


Friday, 2 May 2008

News from US

Taken from Una Voce Carmel.

Fishers, Indiana, - In a move unprecedented by any American bishop, His Excellency William A. Higi, Bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana has proposed an entire parish campus design with traditional architecture. This includes not only a beautiful gothic style church, but a parish life center, youth building, grade school, high school, rectory and convent.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Ascension Day

Some parts of the world have to wait until Sunday, and sadly I fear H&N may be one of them. However, I will write this for the universal Church. :-)

A very happy Ascension Day to all of you.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to welcome the new readers I've noticed over the last week or so, and to apologise for the lack of substantial posts recently. We're moving into exam season at school, so obviously I have to prioritise, as much as I'd rather blog! Facebook seems to eat into my free time too...

Anyway, a few thoughts on the Ascension:

As Christians, the Ascension is one of the most vital elements of our Faith, as shown by its prominence in the Creeds. It is perhaps Christ's greatest testimony to his own Divine mission and victory; that the Passion and death which he endured for us, and the Resurrection which we continue to celebrate in this Easter Season were the means by which Christ has conquored all for us and for the Father. The Ascension can be likened to the Father's seal of approval. This is not a chariot of fire for a faithful mortal, this is not the beggar's bliss with Abraham, it is even more glorious than the Transfiguration, for Christ ascends in his own right as God the Son to be enthroned in glory in Heaven. It is a clear and profound testimony to the sovreignty of Christ, to whom all authority on heaven and earth has been given over, and who will come again in glory. Jesus was the Messiah that nobody could have predicted, the suffering servant who won the Kingdom not in military might or a political Utopia, but through his own apparent failure, and ultimately his own death. After the Resurrection, Christ's ascension into heaven is a clear sign that Jesus of Nazarath is the Christ, and is the Father's only begotten Son. It points to the promise of heaven for those who believe in him. It is the sign and promise of our Christian hope.