Friday, 11 September 2009

Embertide approaching

Remember, remember
The three days of Ember;
Abolished, forgotten
Or not?

Pass my little rhyme and the link around to other blogs once you've read it :-)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Excellent Vocations Website

The priestly vocations website of the Archdiocese of New York is a brilliant example of how the Church can utilise modern technology to articulate it's most ancient of institutional graces. The above website shows how very far behind the English Church is in presenting the attractions of a vocation to the priesthood to young men.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Thank God!

Christ the Teacher

For good exam results!

St. Joseph of Cupertino,
Patron saint of exam candidates.

Sunday, 16 August 2009


It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever-blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim, without defilement thou gavest birth to God the Word. True Theotokos we magnify thee! - Hymn to the Virgin, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

Friday, 14 August 2009

Seven Things

That I rather like, as tagged by Madame Evangelista:

  1. Travel. I just love to visit new places. To wander around an old town on the continent, without really going anywhere, poking my head through private doorways and stumbling upon a hidden gem is just about my favourite pastime in the whole world.
  2. Choral music. Pretentious, moi? Whether it's Gregorian chant, medieval polyphony, that stirring first movement of Mozart's Requiem, the peaceful self-confidence of a Choral Evensong, or indeed just about anything that is not written by John Rutter - I just can't help but feel closer to God.
  3. Foreign languages. Why would anybody in their right mind limit their stories, knowledge, personal capabilities, career opportunites, spirituality and even their sense of humour to the narrow anglo-saxon world?
  4. A wide vocabulary. Ok, for all my enthusaism for foreign languages, English is phenomenally interesting. It's a language of such diverse origins! For the same essential concept we almost always have a choice between (at least) an anglo-saxon and a romance word: eg, luck/fortune, gift/donation. I include in this choice words that I enjoy for the simple pleasure of saying them: "tepid", "apophatic", "lexicon", "bumblebee", "trudge"...
  5. Debate. I love a good empassioned argum... *ahem* scholarly discussion. Perhaps I've said enough... Of course not! Metaphysics is particularly good fun; but what does "fun" mean in this case???
  6. Long chats over a coffee. Catching up with friends I haven't seen in months is always fun, but even better on a sunny day in town with a hot cup of coffee or a nice cold drink.
  7. The smell of old churches. Right, I admit this one is odd, so bear with me. Never judge a book by it's cover, but feel free to judge a church by it's scent. After a good few centuries of pious devotion and hard-working care, the smell of wood polish, communion wine and insence so permeates the wooden furniture and stone masonry that the building iteself develops an atmosphere which testifies to the continuous fidelity of a community to the Divine service. Come on, you know you agree!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

For the giggles.

Apologies for the lack of recent activity. Here's something to keep you amused in the absence of anything substantial:

A potential resource for Catholic schools?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


I read an article earlier today about the persecution of the Church in Russia under Stalin. Apparently, there were more martyrdoms in 20th Century Russia than during the persecutions of the Roman Empire; 17 million Orthodox and 3 million Catholics.

Since the beginning the Church has been persecuted. Christians have died for their faith for the Church's whole 2000 year existence. The 20th Century was no different. In Russia, Nazi Germany, Spain's "Red Terror", the Armenian genocide, the Istanbul Pogrom, during the Lebanese civil war, in Coptic Egypt, Kosovo and communist China.

This continues today. Radical Islamic governments and militias in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and many other nations have tortured and killed apostates from Islam to Christianity. The recent outbreak of "swine flu" in Mexico was used as an excuse by the Egyptian government to slaughter almost all the pigs in that country; all of which belonged to the destitute Coptic minority which rely on such livestock to survive. There are no signs whatsoever that our century will be any better for Christians than those previous.

What does this mean for us in the West?

  1. Faith is precious. If we are strong enough, God willing, it is something worth enduring persecution for.
  2. Martyrdom means "witnessing". Persecutions have always strengthened the Church.
  3. We are the lucky ones. We have no excuses for our petty, day-to-day apostasies; not when Christians in Iraq risk their lives to get to Mass, or Chinese Christians risk prison for possessing a Bible at home.
  4. We must strengthen our persecuted brethren. Financial aid, diplomatic pressure, humanitarian relief, and of course prayer are all things we should be contributing to the suffering Church.
  5. Christianity in the West must not go out with a whimper. By watering down Christianity to make it easier for the secular West we do the persecuted Church a terrible injustice and we fundamentally weaken our position and integrity.
  6. We must forgive. I loathe what Fundamentalist Muslims and Hindus often do to Christians in their country, but we shouldn't resent them for it. We must pray for our enemies. The very worst thing would be an anti-Muslim backlash in the Church.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Corpus Christi

I was lucky enough to be at the Cathedral today to celebrate Corpus Christi. The (rather diminished) choir sang Aquinas' exquisite texts for the feasts, to a variety of musical settings. The mass was ended with a short procession around the body of the Church and Benediction of the Sacrament.

There is something very humbling seeing a body of people kneel before a piece of bread. If it were anything other than what the Church teaches the Eucharist to be, then the whole exercise would have been the worst of blasphemies; and yet Jesus' stark and unbending words in the Gospels - "This is my body" - reassure me that we were not adoring mere bread.

The Latin origin of the word "sacrament" originally meant "pledge" or "oath". One of the reasons the Roman authorities were so suspicious, so I am told, of the Early Church is because Christians were observed to take "sacraments" as a group: to the Emperors this sounded like a revolutionary secret society! One can easily imagine the Roman establishment being fearful of Christians in the same way that the Papacy and Austria were fearful of the carbonari eighteen-hundred years later.

But a pledge is exactly what the Eucharist is. In John Wesley's Eucharistic hymn "Victim divine", of 1786, even an ardent Protestant observes that "Thou art to all already given... and shew thy real presence here." The joys of heaven which we will receive in the future are given to us in the consecrated elements in our here and now.

It is a privilege to observe this. As I'm not in communion with Rome (yet), it is moving to watch people return from the altar; some weep, others smile to themselves as if enjoying the company of an old friend, others simply whisper to the God they have received.
It is right and proper that there should be a day set aside to thank God for this great and life-giving mystery.

Adoremus in Aeternum

A suitably impressive procession attended by the Swiss Guard.

Today is Corpus Christi. Ignoring the liturgical vandalism which sees this medieval festival transferred to a Sunday we can nontheless enjoy a time of deep reflection on the nature of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Second Vatican Council admirably defined the Eucharist as the "source and summit of the Christian life." It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance of the Eucharist to Christians. "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." No real Christian could dare disobey such a direct command from Our Lord, given at such a significant point in the Gospels.

On Corpus Christi, we take time to pray before the Sacrament in the Tabernacle or the Mostrance, but it remains axiomatic that the Sacrament is to be received. The manner in which it is received is particularly interesting.

Nowadays the Host is received with the words "The body of Christ". A very simple statement which testifies to the objective presence of Christ in the elements. The Extraodinary Form of the Mass has the priest give the Host with the words "The body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul in eternal life." This is a more theologically interesting phrase, as it makes very clear the nature of the sacrament as a pledge of eternal life. St. Ignatius of Antioch spoke of the Eucharist being

"one bread, which is the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death which gives eternal life in Jesus Christ".

Cranmer's Communion service in the BCP goes even further, with bread being handed to the communicant with the words:

The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.

The words "given for thee" and "died for thee" remind us of the intimate nature of the Eucharist. We are guests at a banquet, personally invited by the host (no pun intended!).

The Divine Liturgy celebrated in the full splendour of the ancient Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

The personal nature of our reception of the Eucharist is further strengthened in the Byzantine rites employed both by the Orthodox Churches and by the Greek Catholics:

The servant of God N. partaketh of the holy precious body and blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, unto remission of his sins and unto everlasting life.

Speaking of the Eucharist in the East, it is perhaps useful to remember the Trinitarian nature of the Eucharist, with this quote from St. John Damascene:

"The Holy Spirit comes upon [the elements], and achieves things which surpass every word and thought..."

Just as through the Incarnation of the Word the Trinity was made intelligible to man, so through the Eucharist the Incarnate Word makes the life of the Trinity available for man to receive.

The Holy Spirit... achieves things which surpass every word and thought...

Friday, 29 May 2009

Late for Mass

As a Friday devotion I went to Mass at the Cathedral this lunchtime. Unfortunately I was more than a little bit late, arriving some ten minutes into the service, quietly taking a seat in the back pew. (See how Catholic I've become??) Anyway, a few months ago I'd have beat myself up about having been irreverent arriving late, but now I think I have a slightly more mature approach to these things. Yes, I know I should have taken more care to arrive on time, and of course I shall try to prevent it happening again. I was not overly disappointed with myself, however, because I think I'm finally coming to develop a really authentic sense of awe and reverence for the Eucharist. I knew I was late, and I knew that was a bad thing, but I was relieved and very happy to at least have been there in time to be in the presence of Christ himself.

As an interesting little aside, I did notice three women who didn't go up to receive Communion; perhaps one of them was the elusive Madame Evangelista? I wonder...

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Holy Spirit

The Christian Church has always maintained within its theology a balance (or, alternatively, a tension) between the Unity of God's essence and the Trinity of His persons. Christians profess to believe in one God in three persons. The Quicunque vult teaches that

...the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and
Trinity in Unity.

The dogma surrounding the Blessed Trinity, our thrice-holy God, has for millenia now been accepted as fundamental to Christian faith. We are very familiar with the co-equal Father and Son, the Father being the fons divinitas, the Son the incarnate Logos of the Father. Sadly, as is the often the case when a third person is involved with such a dynamic duo, the Holy Spirit often limps in at third place in the personal, popular theology of the average mainstream Christian layman. It is undeniable that traditionally in the Latin West there has often been a deficiency in popular perception of the Spirit in the Christian life.

The Holy Spirit is nonetheless a fundamental of our Faith. At the very beginning of everything it was the Spirit - ruach: breath or wind - of God which "swept over the face of the waters", a verse which, despite presenting an interesting little problem for the concept of creatio ex nihilo, offers a tantalisingly brief first Scriptural glimpse of God's third person.

We learn far more about the Spirit, however, from the Prophet Joel. A relatively minor Prophet, the second chapter of Joel (third in the Hebrew text) contains a wonderful prophecy of the work of the Spirit:

I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days,
I will pour out my spirit.

Joel 2:28-29

This is of course most clearly seen on the day of Pentecost, narrated in the Acts, with St. Luke making an explicit reference to God's words to Joel (Acts 2:17-18). The importance, indeed the very centrality, of the Holy Spirit to the Christian life is most clearly spelled out by Christ himself according to St. John:

Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

John 3:5

As the Church approaches Pentecost I can see how my own appreciation of He "who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified" is sorely deficient. I'll be thinking about this for the next few days. If any of you have thoughts, comments, insights or corrections on this subject for me, please comment below.

Some late (but disturbing) news.

The head of a leading Catholic marriage agency has called for the Church to move towards a "sacrament of relationships" according to this Catholic Herald article.

Bede on the Ascension

At the Cathedral on Sunday we sang the following hymn. As this week we have celebrated the feasts of the Ascension and of St. Bede the Venerable, who wrote the words of this hymn, I thought it might be appropriate to share this with you all. It was sung to the tune of "Immortal, invisible".

New praises be given to Christ newly crowned,

who back to his heaven a new way hath found;

God's blessedness sharing before us he goes,

what mansions preparing, what endless repose!

His glory still praising on thrice-holy ground

the apostles stood gazing, his mother around;

with hearts that beat faster, with eyes full of love,

they watched while their Master ascended above.

'No star can disclose him' the bright angels said;

'Eternity knows him, your conquering head;

those high habitations he leaves not again,

till, judging all nations, on earth he shall reign.'

Thus spoke they and straightway, where legions defend

heaven's glittering gateway, their Lord did attend,

and cry, looking thither, 'Your portals let down

for him who rides hither in peace and renown.'

They asked, who keep sentry in that blessed town,

'Who thus claimeth entry, a king of renown?'

'The Lord of all valiance,' that herald replied,

'Who Satan's battalions laid low in their pride.'

Grant, Lord, that out longing may follow thee there,

on earth who are thronging thy temples with prayer;

and unto thee gather, Redeemer, thine own,

where thou with thy Father dost sit on the throne.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Condoms DO NOT work!

I haven't been posting for a while, for a variety of reasons, but I really MUST post this.

Condoms do not work. They simply cannot guarantee to prevent either pregnancy or infection 100% of the time. This has disastrous consequences.

A friend of one of my friends, a girl of 15 years of age, recently had sex with her boyfriend. They used a condom. They used it properly. They were not drunk. They believed they were being responsible and indeed did everything that modern medicine and education tell young persons to do. It tore during intercourse. It failed completely.

The sad thing is that she was so terrified upon discovering this, that the day after she took the 'morning-after pill', a chilling euphemism for what is essentially a chemical abortion. She did not even know whether she was pregnant or not.



Because society had so conditioned this poor girl - a charming, friendly, good natured girl -into believing that condoms were a secure license to unconstrained sexual activity, she felt free to do as she pleased without any risks. Secondly, our quick-fix society then pressures her into abortion, explicitly telling young girls that they must abort THE VERY NEXT DAY, in effect giving them less than 24 hours to make an actual LIFE OR DEATH DECISION!

This is sickening!

Why can nobody see the cataclysmic folly of this kind of thinking?

Saturday, 7 February 2009

They're Back!!!

The Arians!!!!!

The precepts for Laity of the Arian Catholic Church

The following is the irreducible minimum of Arian Catholic practice...

Of Mass. To assist at Mass every Saturday (The Sabbath), the Seven Biblical Feasts and Holy Days of Obligation (or if unable to do so for legal or practical reasons, to follow the instructions advised by their Deacon, Presbyter or Bishop).

Of Confession. To examine their consciences regularly and to seek sacramental absolution when needed for mortal sin, and at Passover (Easter time) to make Confession in obedience to the Arian Catholic tradition.

Of Communion. To receive Holy Communion at least once a year, at Passover (Easter time). To make each and every act of Communion (especially when receiving more frequently) only after due and careful preparation.

Of Holy Law. To uphold the Holy Ten Commandments and the applicable Noahide, Levite and Kashrut Laws, as they are written in the books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and followed by Jesus the Messiah.

Of Marriage. To keep the Church’s law on marriage.

Of Fasting and Abstinence. To observe the periods of fasting according to the Arian Catholic tradition.

Of Almsgiving. To give Alms regularly and to assist the Church in finding funds to support its operations.

Botched Abortion in the States

From "The Buffalo News"

The Board of Medicine has revoked the license of a Florida doctor accused of medical malpractice in a botched abortion case in which a live baby was delivered, but ended up dead in a cardboard box.

The board on Friday found Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique in violation of Florida statutes by committing medical malpractice, delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel, and failing to keep an accurate medical record. Renelique and his attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

The Department of Health said Renelique was scheduled to perform an abortion on a teenager who was 23 weeks pregnant in 2006. Sycloria Williams had been given drugs in advance to dilate her cervix.

According to the complaint, she gave birth at a Hialeah clinic after waiting hours for Renelique to arrive. The complaint said one of the clinic owners put the baby in a bag that was thrown away.

Police found the infant's decomposing remains a week later.

A medical examiner determined the cause of death was extreme prematurity, the complaint states.

At Friday's hearing, Renelique told the board of his life-long quest to be a doctor. He said there are generations of physicians in his family, and that he decided to follow the same path after seeing his father treat patients.

Renelique described saving a woman's life during the second year of his medical residency in Haiti. He later left his home country to work and train in the United States. It was never his intention to do abortions, he said.

"That was not part of my goals when I came to Florida," he said. "But I had to do it to survive."

During the board's questioning, Dr. Elizabeth D. Tucker, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Pensacola, asked Renelique about three different types of medical forceps. Renelique replied that he possessed each of the instruments.

After each question, Tucker also held up a metal instrument, different from the one she had named and inquired about. One of the tools was a metal rod with an arrow attached at the tip.

Tucker asked Renelique if he had that. He replied that he did.

"For the record, these are from my antique collection," she said later. "We don't use these in terminations."

Renelique's attorney, Joseph Harrison, later requested that his client view the instruments more closely, which the board allowed. Renelique said he had never seen or used the spear in his life.

Renelique said he had advised the patient to come in early as a precaution, and that when he was en route to the clinic, he was called to tend to another patient having an emergency.

He said the clinic staff members didn't tell him about the delivery when he arrived.

Harrison said Renelique expected the board to uphold the current restriction on his license, which prohibits him from performing abortions unless another physician is present. The Department of Health recommended that his license be suspended. But the board decided to revoke it instead which means he will not be able to practice medicine in Florida.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but the state attorney's office is investigating.

Discovery of 'Ancient' Cypriot Bible in Syraic

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) – Authorities in northern Cyprus believe they have found an ancient version of the Bible written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus.

The manuscript was found in a police raid on suspected antiquity smugglers. Turkish Cypriot police testified in a court hearing they believe the manuscript could be about 2,000 years old.

The manuscript carries excerpts of the Bible written in gold lettering on vellum and loosely strung together, photos provided to Reuters showed. One page carries a drawing of a tree, and another eight lines of Syriac script.

Experts were however divided over the provenance of the manuscript, and whether it was an original, which would render it priceless, or a fake.

Experts said the use of gold lettering on the manuscript was likely to date it later than 2,000 years.

"I'd suspect that it is most likely to be less than 1,000 years old," leading expert Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House, University of Cambridge told Reuters.

Turkish Cypriot authorities seized the relic last week and nine individuals are in custody pending further investigations. More individuals are being sought in connection with the find, they said.

Further investigations turned up a prayer statue and a stone carving of Jesus believed to be from a church in the Turkish held north, as well as dynamite.

The police have charged the detainees with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.

Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic - the native language of Jesus - once spoken across much of the Middle East and Central Asia. It is used wherever there are Syrian Christians and still survives in the Syrian Orthodox Church in India.

Aramaic is still used in religious rituals of Maronite Christians in Cyprus.

"One very likely source (of the manuscript) could be the Tur-Abdin area of Turkey, where there is still a Syriac speaking community," Charlotte Roueche, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies at King's College London told Reuters.

Stories regarding the antiquity of manuscripts is commonplace. One case would be the Yonan Codex, carbon dated to the 12th century which people tried to pass off as earlier.

After further scrutiny of photographs of the book, manuscripts specialist at the University of Cambridge library and Fellow of Wolfson College JF Coakley suggested that the book could have been written a good deal later.

"The Syriac writing seems to be in the East Syriac script with vowel points, and you do not find such manuscripts before about the 15th century.

"On the basis of the one photo...if I'm not mistaken some words at least seem to be in modern Syriac, a language that was not written down until the mid-19th century," he told Reuters.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Due to technical problems, I may not be blogging again for a little while. Hopefully this will be only a very short respite from blogging. Needless to say, I still HATE computers.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Howard Jacobson

I'm currently watching Howard Jacobson's edition of Channel 4's "Christianity: a history". This isn't a history at all. It is a horrifically one-sided attack by a blatant hypocrite. This man is presenting a militantly anti-Christian Jewish interpretation of the Gospels, and besides completely misrepresenting both Christian history and theology, he admits that he isn't even a practicing Jew!!!

I really do like the Jewish people, and I have a great admiration for the ultra-orthodox of Gateshead; they're faithful to the Old Covenant which, short of Christianity, is just about as good as you can get. Yet this man is masquerading as a faithful Jew merely to discredit Christianity.

Still... forty-five minutes to go. I hope that I've misjudged him...

Liturgy is Beautiful

Today the Holy Father celebrated the Feast of the Lord's Baptism, saying Mass according to the Ordinary Form, facing East. I really don't think there's a more beautiful way to celebrate the liturgy. He also gave communion to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue.
Please, priests, implement this in your parishes! Please let us restore to the historical norm!

Catholicism is COOL!

(Stolen from the Crescat)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Ontological Argument For Beginners - Part Three

St. Thomas Aquinas' objections.

St. Thomas, as so often proved the case, reckoned that he could do better. He didn't like Anselm's reasoning. First of all, given Europe's history of polytheism, paganism and conflicting religions, he thought it rather innacurate to say that everybody could accept a definition of God as aliquid quo maius cogitari non potest.

Secondly, he questioned that even if St. Anselm's definition were accepted by all, whether it could be counted as a proof in its own right.

Perhaps not everyone who hears the name "God" understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body. Yet, granted that everyone understands that this name "God" is signified something that which nothing greater can be thought, nevertheless, it does not therefore follow that he understands that what the name signifies exists actually, but only that it exists mentally.

Pay attention to the word "actually" above. We'll come back to that when we hear from our good friend Mr. I. Kant. Next time, however, we'll be hearing from René Descartes!

Friday, 9 January 2009

The Ontological Argument For Beginners - Part Two

In Anselm's Proslogion, the saintly Benedictine argued against the "Fool" of Psalm 52, attempting to prove that there is indeed a God. He tried to do so by using the very definition of "God" to show the Almighty's existence to be necessary. Many people were not convinced and considered Anselm's logic to be highly questionable.

One such critic was another Benedictine monk, one Gaunilo of Marmoutiers, who wrote the most famous criticism of Anselm's Ontological Argument. Gaunilo was of course a Christian, and was therefore not writing to defend atheism, but to expose perceived flaws in Anselm's work.

Gaunilo put forward a remarkably simple reductio ad absurdum to discredit Anselm's logic. In his "On Behalf of the Fool" Gaunilo suggests that we replace the concept of "God" with that of a mythical "Lost Island" He defines this Island as superlative above all other Islands, mirroring Anselm's definition of God as aliquid quo maius cogitari non potest. As such, he uses exactly the same technique as Anselm, an argument from ontology, precisely to destroy St. Anselm's assertions.

Using Anselm's logic he puts forward that such an island can only be superlative above all other islands if it actually exists, as a real island is better than an imaginary one, and that it therefore, by definition, must exist.

Of course, Gaunilo's audience knew that this "Lost Island" did not exist, thus (supposedly) proving that it was untrue to say that Anselm's logical process had "proved" the existence of God. He argued that we cannot bring something into being simply by defining it as "superlative".

Anselm was so impressed with Gaunilo's refutation that he included it in later editions of the Proslogion. He maintained, however, that his argument still stood, as it was applied to a necessary being, whereas even the most "superlative of islands" was still contingent.

Coming soon, Part Three, St. Thomas Aquinas enters the fray!



The Ontological Argument For Beginners - Part One

St. Anslem, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All-England.

St. Anselm was born in the tiny Alpine city of Aosta (a truly beautiful place and well worth a visit!), became prior and then abbot of the Benedictine house at Bec in Normandy, and in 1093 became Archbishop of Canterbury.

A year after his election as abbot at Bec, in 1079, he wrote what would become his most famous work, the Proslogion, a work which sought (amongst other things) to demonstrate the existence of God. Now, obviously, Anselm was a Catholic Christian, and was thus writing to an audience that believed in God. With this in mind, Anslem wrote from the perspective of fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding), not to replace faith with a purely logical knowledge of God, but for philosophical logic to work as ancilla theologiae, a handmaiden to theology.

Anslem's argument for the existence of God in the Proslogion is "ontological" because it is derived from ontology, the study of being. It is based on a definition of "God" that we can all accept, even atheists, and attempts to use this understanding of the concept of God to show that such a concept must logically exist in reality.

Anselm defines God as aliquid quo maius cogitari non potest, that is, "that than which no greater can be thought". In other words, God is the superlative. Anselm argues that if one accepts that "God" is "that than which no greater than can be thought", then to deny his existence is illogical, since a one can imagine a truly existent God to be greater than a non-existent God.

We can sum up the logic of this simple argument thus:

1. "God" is that than which no greater can be thought.

2. A real God is greater than an a non-existent "God"

3. Therefore God, by definition, must exist.

For those interested, there is a Second Form of the Argument.

The second form of the argument makes a distinction between contingent (transient, dependent) and necessary (transcendent, independent) beings. The Second, slightly more technical version of Anselm's Ontological Argument goes thus:

1. "God" is that than which no greater can be thought.

2. Because "God" is unsurpassable in every way, which means He transcends and is independent of all other things, he must have necessary existence.

3. For "God" to fail to exist would make Him a contingent being, a logical impossibility if nos. 1 and 2 are correct.

4. Therefore God exists - necessarily.

Anselm therefore considered saying "God exists" to be an analytical proposition, meaning that it is true by definition, not by any experience or proof. Eg, by definition, "bachelors are unmarried men". To deny that "God exists" is therefore a paradox, illogical, and totally wrong!

That's a basic introduction to the argument. Many people think it's a load of rubbish, including a monk named Gregory of Marmoutiers, whose objections we'll analyse in Part Two (coming soon!).




I really do love philosophy, and it's something that I'm normally not too bad at, so for all of those interested in learning a little bit; beginning this evening I'm writing a few philosophical posts for beginners. First up will be a series of posts on the Ontological Argument.

The word philosophy comes from the greek root "philo" (love) and "sophia" (wisdom). So all you wisdom-lovers out there are gonna love this :)


A worrying definition

From the Diocese, quoted in previous post:

With the local clergy, a bishop leads the people as a family in the worship God. He also has the task of reaching out beyond the Catholic community to preach and to foster strong links with people of every faith and those of no faith.

Surely that should read "to preach and to convert to Christ"? Or are these merely links for links' sake?

New Bishop

From the diocesan website:

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Canon Seamus Cunningham, at present Administrator of the vacant Diocese, to become the 13th Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle. He will be ordained bishop and installed in St Mary’s Cathedral Church, Newcastle on Friday 20th March 2009 at 12 noon feast of St Cuthbert, patron of the Diocese.

The Bishop-elect, aged 66, has completed almost 43 years priestly service to the Diocese. Born on 7 July 1942 at Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland, he was educated at local schools, which included St Nathy’s College, Ballaghaderreen at which Bishop James Cunningham (1957-1974) had also been a student for a short time.

Seamus Cunningham studied for the priesthood at St John’s College, Waterford, where he was ordained priest for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle on 12 June 1966.

He began as assistant priest in Our Lady and St Joseph’s parish, Brooms, in North West Durham, from September 1966 until August 1971.

From 1971 – 1972 he was at English Martyrs, Newcastle upon Tyne. Then spent one year, 1972 – 1973, at the new Corpus Christi College, London preparing to begin work as a Diocesan Religious Education and Catechetics advisor, he returned to live and work in the Cathedral but also visited our schools throughout the Diocese.

In 1978 he succeeded Father Leo Pyle as Director of Religious Education in the Diocese and also as Chaplain to St Mary’s Teaching Training College of the Sacred Heart of Education at Fenham.

From 1984 to 1987 he spent three years as Spiritual Director to student s for the priesthood at Ushaw College, Durham.

In 1987 he returned to St Mary’s Cathedral where he was to spend the next 10 years as Administrator and Parish Priest. He was appointed to the Chapter of Canons shortly afterwards.

He moved to his present parish of St Oswin’s, Tynemouth and St Mary’s, Cullercoats in 1988 after a short sabbatical in the States.

Bishop Ambrose Griffiths had appointed him one of four Vicars General in 2001.

After his ordination on 25 May 2004, Bishop Kevin Dunn appointed Canon Cunningham as the sole Vicar General. He held this post until the Bishop’s death on 1 March 2008. He was with him and his family throughout his illness and death, and was elected Diocesan Administrator on 2 March 2008.

Such a long, varied and wide experience of pastoral, educational and administrative work throughout the diocese has made him known as a quiet builder of both parish and diocesan communities.

Canon Cunningham said, “Although I was surprised to be asked to undertake this task, I am glad that the Diocese will not have to face another change of style within very few years. I hope to start by continuing Bishop Kevin’s initiatives before seeking anew what will be best at this time to meet the many challenges in spreading the Gospel today and working with other church bodies and the civil authorities”.

A bishop is chosen as a shepherd to a local diocese to lead and teach his people.
He is appointed as a successor to the Apostles so that he can maintain the faith Jesus Christ passed on to the first Christians and keep the diocese in union with the Pope, who is the successor of Saint Peter, the first bishop of Rome.
With the local clergy, a bishop leads the people as a family in the worship God. He also has the task of reaching out beyond the Catholic community to preach and to foster strong links with people of every faith and those of no faith.

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle stretches from the Scottish border to Teesside and from the Pennines to the East Coast. It was founded in 1850 and St Mary’s Church in Newcastle was chosen as the new Cathedral. St Mary’s was built in the 1840s during the time of William Riddell, a bishop who looked after the Northern District before the diocese was set up. He died from famine fever, caught while he ministered to the sick. The first bishop of the diocese was William Hogarth and there have been 12 bishops who have led the diocese during past 158 years.

The diocese sees itself as part of a tradition that stretches back to the great North East saints of the past - Aidan, Cuthbert, Hilda and Bede. Most recently, it was served by Bishop Kevin Dunn, who was very fond of Holy Island and was inspired by the saints of Lindisfarne. He spearheaded the refurbishment of the small Catholic church on the island.

Since then priests and people of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle have looked forward to the choosing of a new shepherd to lead them. They welcome Bishop Seamus with joy and congratulate him on his appointment to this historic and deeply faithful diocese, offering him their support, loyalty and prayers.

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle – Factfile
Parishes: 180
Priests: 205
Parish priests: 105
Assistant priests: 15
Retired priests: 55
Foreign visiting priests: 7
Religious priests: 15
Others: 8
Deacons: 14
Religious Orders: 55
Total population of the diocese: 2,201,119
Catholic population of the diocese: 196,497
Schools: 162
Primary: 137
Middle: 5
Secondary/High: 20

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Sign up!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, or if you'd like to start doing so, please do sign up as an official Love Of Your Love follower at the bottom of this page! I'd love to see who's following this blog and hopefully I can discover some of your own. One of my New Year resolutions was to try to blog a little more, and on some meatier subjects, so hopefully you'll have a lot to read in the near future!



Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Raymond of Peñafort


He was born near Barcelona somewhere between 1175 and 1180. He was educated at the University of Barcelona, where he taught canon law for fifteen years. After a spell at the University of Bologna he returned to Barcelona in 1222 and became a Dominican. At the command of Pope Gregory IX he organised, codified and edited canon law, which, when he started, was nothing better than a chaotic accumulation of isolated decrees. He was elected to be General of the Dominicans and gave it an excellent set of regulations for its better governance. He died in 1275. Among his works, the Summa casuum is noteworthy. This gives guidance as to how the sacrament of Penance may be administered justly and with benefit to the penitent.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


There is something that delights me about the international nature of the Catholic Church. Above is a photograph of Pope Benedict censing the altar of St. Peter's this morning for the Feast of the Epiphany.
An elderly German, in an Italian city, presiding in charity from within an universal Church, wearing vestments which echo through the centuries, venerates an altar which has been venerated by countless pilgrims from all corners of the world, for so many centuries. Catholicism is fantastic!
Laus Deo!

The Next Moscow Patriarch?

Metropolitan Kirill being given the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, Class II, by (then) President Vladimir Putin, December 21, 2006.

According to the Times, Metropolitan Kirill, currently the interim head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is the favourite to succeed the late Patriarch Alexei II. Kirill is said to be a "conservative" candidate for the post, being both a patriotic Russian and a staunch defender of the faith of the Russian Church, suggesting that we may expect no change of Patriarchal policy in the near future.

Both President Dmitri Medvedev and Prime-Minister Putin were present at the late Patriarch's elaborate funeral, solemnly celebrated in the rebuilt cathedral of Christ the Saviour, demonstrating the Russian political establisment's growing self-identification with the Orthodox Church.

Prayer for the Holy Land

O God who raised up for us,
In the Holy Land in the East,
An anointed king of the line of David,
Bless that Holy Land,
And bring those children of Thine who live there
Into both terrestrial peace and concord,
And that sacred peace of Thine which the world cannot give,
Through Christ our Lord.


Holy Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for the Holy Land.
Holy Prophets and Patriarchs, pray for the Holy Land.

Sunday, 4 January 2009


Walking through the city centre yesterday, I stumbled upon a gathering of angry Palestinian protesters, meeting beneath Grey's Monument. There were at least a hundred there, possibly more, and their chanting and music was audible from quite a distance. Not surprisingly, the far majority were Muslims, of obvious Palestinian origin. Most seemed to be second generation immigrants.

I really do sympathise with their cause. A Palestinian state has just as much right to exist as an Israeli state. What worried me about these protesters was their concept of nationality. I overheard one man, speaking with a middle-class British accent, talking to an older man about Palestinian identity. He was arguing that they could make no distinction between Islam and Palestinian nationality.

This reminded me that Palestine has a dwindling Christian minority. Most have emigrated, many are persecuted, and now they are caught between Israeli tanks and Hamas rockets. During the night Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip in force. Please keep our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ in your prayers.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Don't forget H&N

The 2nd of January, today, is the day we were supposed to discover the name of the new Archbishop of Westminster. There have been unconfirmed rumours that Dom Hugh Gilbert, and Anglican convert Benedictine monk in Scotland turned down the job, which perhaps explains why we haven't heard who the new de facto spokesperson for English Catholicism will be.

Yet in the midst of the apparent chaos surrounding the appointment of a new archbishop, spare a thought for my own diocese, Hexham and Newcastle, the most northerly See in the country, home of St Cuthbert, St Benet Biscop, St Bede the Venerable and many more.

Since the much lamented and unforseen death of our bishop, Kevin, we have been waiting for a new pastor of the local Church. Please pray for our diocese, that we receive a holy, humble and orthodox bishop, who will reinvigorate the Church and spread the Gospel in our depressingly secularised and sceptical region.

Almighty Father, send us a Holy Bishop!
Dear reader, pray for our Church!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Dear readers,

wishing you all a very Happy New Year! 2009 will see this blog continue and (hopefully!) improve. Keep reading folks.