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

From Universalis.com:

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.