Sunday, 25 July 2010

A good weekend...

It felt like the start of the holidays this weekend (though I still have to work for while yet...) All the family are home, as Ant is back from University, and Bernie and Charlie are back from their orchestra trip to Italy.

So went to adoration and confession first thing on Saturday (and how great it is that my teenage girls still see this as the best way to start a weekend - marvellous example for Charlie and Dominique). Then had a relatively quiet day at home until later in the afternoon when we went to the local County Show.

Last year, we won a number of prizes (well Anna, her mum and the kids did - I have no appropriate talents...) but this year we didn't win a thing (though I thought Bernie was unlucky not to win with her painting or her photography, and Anna didn't win with her muffins simply because they went for chocolate over fruit...but perhaps I'm biased).

In the evening went to see Toy Story 3 in the evening, which we all enjoyed enormously.

Today we went to the Extraordinary Form of Mass at Lancaster Cathedral - and this time you could really hear the impact of Nick Gale's training workshop: the Schola sang better than I have ever heard them before.

And this afternoon, we've packed Charlie and Dominique off to Sail Camp to improve their sailing - and Bernie is there as an assistant instructor. And has a summer job, so can't help at sail camp this year - but as her summer job is teaching sailing, she's not too disappointed...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

More lies

According to Ruth Smith, who led the research on the increase in AIDS in older people:

"We must continually reinforce the safe sex message - using a condom with all new or casual partners is the surest way to ensure people do not become infected with a serious sexually transmitted infection such as HIV."

Actually, the surest way to ensure you do not become infected is to avoid 'new or casual partners.'

Those who practice chastity are at no risk of contracting diseases via sexual transmission.

But that would be unsayable...

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

10,000 celebration

I reached 10,000 hits yesterday and forgot to post about it.

I don't know if that's a lot or a little for a blog that's been going for a while - more than some and less than others, I guess. But I'm quietly pleased that someone out there is reading this...


Blimey, Mac and Leutgeb!

Three favourite prayers...

Well let's start with the rules:

Name your three most favourite prayers, and explain why they're your favourites. Then tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme... The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I'm more interested in people's favourite devotional prayers.

I'm not sure I have three favourite prayers - probably don't pray enough.

So should I think theologically - one to the Father, one to the Son, and one to the Holy Ghost (I'm particularly fond of 'fill the hearts of thy faithful' etc)?

Or in terms of the language and imagery (I love the prayer to St Michael and the Salve Regina on that count)?

Or in terms of prayers that have particular memories for me (my mother saying the Hail Mary as she died)?

But I'm also conscious of the risk of this meme being very repetitive, so let's strike out into fresh territory.

I choose the Veni Creator Spiritus, because I love the melody as well as the words, and it evokes in particular memories of the children's confirmations at St James, Spanish Place; the Regina Caeli as a great resurrection prayer and a wonderful Marian prayer - and it has a wonderful melody too... and this prayer of Cardinal Newman's because we really should include him this year, and it has long been a favourite:

May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging, and a holy rest and peace at the last.

And I tag Ttony, Fr Brown, James Preece, Radagast, and Athanasius.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Comparative seriousness of sins...

Last night I was reading 1 Kings 15, and came across this (Knox translation, of course!):

Rebellion is sin as witchcraft is sin, all one with idolatory is the unsubmissive heart. (v23)

This set me thinking about those who rush to point out that 'of course, nobody is saying that attempting to ordain women is as serious as abusing children.'

Are we so sure? Abusing children is intolerably evil: for whoever scandalises one of these little ones... and so on.

However, to attempt to ordain women within the Catholic Church is knowingly and deliberately to abuse the Church: the mystical body of Christ.

Are we really so sure we can say that is less evil?

OP - Obfuscating and Pernicious

Fr Timothy Radcliffe, OP, had a letter published in Saturday's (UK) Times purporting to explain "the Vatican's" position on the attempted ordination of women.

He wrote (inter alia): "The sexual abuse of minors is a gravely serious sin. The attempted ordination of a Roman Catholic woman raises different issues.

The priest presides at Holy Communion, the sacrament of our unity in the Church, and so an ordination that is productive of division would be a contradiction in terms. Many Catholics believe that women should not be excluded from ordination, but this will only be possible with the consensus of the communion of the Church."

Firstly, the opposition in the first paragraph (sin v different issues) seems to imply that the attempted ordination of women is not a serious sin.

Secondly, his reason against the ordination of women is a bit of a straw man: it is one of the reasons, but by no means the most telling: he makes it appear to be the only one.

Thirdly, Many Catholics believe that women should not be excluded from ordination,
is not a Catholic way of expressing this point: "many who claim to be Catholic believe" or even "many Catholics mistakenly believe" would be better; likewise the use of 'excluded' is prejudicial and partisan.

Fourthly, he knows full well that the Church teaches definitively that the ordination of women is impossible - it will not be possible by consensus or any other means.

Fifthly, the ecclesiology implied in 'the consensus of the communion of the Church' .is erroneous - and he must know that.

He should be ashamed of himself: pray for him.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

What does 'being a Catholic' mean?

I ask the question, as it seems to me to be used to mean quite contrary things.

When I say that I am a Catholic, I mean that I am a baptised member of he Catholic Church; and that I hold to the promises made at baptism, including believing in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church - and further, by that I mean that I accept the teaching authority of the Church and (strive to) conform my will and intellect to it. And my guess is that many others mean the same; that until recently that is what everyone meant by it, and further that most outsiders would assume that is what is meant.

However, many other people, some prominent (politicians, journalists, academics, self-appointed experts) and some befuddled clergy and laity, seem to use the word in quite a different sense. Tina Beatie is a current example (much blogged about elsewhwere). Here the word seems to mean I am baptised may or may not attend Church and see it as my mission to change the Church to teach and be what I would like it to teach and be.

Frankly, I find the second usage dishonest.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Flying in Argentina

In Tom Stoppard's play Travesties, there is a great exchange:

Tzara: Doing the things by which is meant Art is no longer considered the proper concern of the artist. In fact it is frowned upon. Nowadays, an artist is somebody who makes art mean the things he does. A man may be an artist by exhibiting his hindquarters. He may be a poet by drawing words out of a hat. In fact some of my best poems have been drawn out of my hat which I afterwards exhibited to general acclaim at the Dada Gallery in Bahnhoffstrasse.

Carr: But that is simply to change the meaning of the word Art.

Tzara: I see I have made myself clear.

Car: Then you are not actually an artist at all?

Tzara: On the contrary. I have just told you I am.

Carr: But that does not make you an artist. [snip] If there is any point in using language at all, it is that a word is taken to stand for a particular fact or idea and not for other facts or ideas. I might claim to be able to fly... Lo, I say, I am flying. But you are not propelling yourself about while suspended in the air, someone may point out. Ah no, I reply, that is no longer considered the proper concern of people who can fly. In fact it is frowned upon. Nowadays a flyer never leaves the ground and wouldn't know how. I see, says my somewhat baffled interlocutor, so when you say you can fly, you are using the word in a purely private sense. I see I have made myself clear, I say. Then, says the chap in some relief, you cannot actually fly after all. On the contrary, I say, I have just told you I can. Don't you see my dear Tristan you are simply asking me to accept that the word Art means whatever you wish it to mean; but I do not accept it.

They have just pulled the same trick in Argentina.

They may think they have legalised homosexual marriage: in reality they are simply using the word marriage to mean something quite different.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Of One Being with the Father?

Of whom might 'of one being with the Father' reasonably (let alone rightly) be said?

No prizes if you answer God the Son; God the Holy Spirit is also a correct answer.

But according to today's hymn at Mass, the correct answer is you - and anyone else dopey enough to sing without thinking what the words mean.

Yes today's hymn (or was it a gathering song, I forget now) ended with the extraordinary line:

'For I know that I am one with You.'

That is after already singing: " I want to do the things You do,' (like hold the world in being, judge the living and the dead...?)

Who sanctions these Protestant hymns with dubious lyrics for Catholic worship? And why?

Ant confessed she hadn't really noticed the words, which is fair enough.

The theory behind vernacular hymns was that we were meant to understand what we sing. However, we don't always pay that much attention - and that's part of the danger. These Protestant errors and idiocies can creep into our understanding, bypassing our critical faculties, by the simple process of singing them repeatedly without thought...

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Raoul Moat RIP

Spare a prayer for Raoul Moat, who died this morning after shooting himself - almost certainly while of unsound mind.

Four things he is reported as saying stick in my mind, illustrative of his despair and a sad reflection on aspects of life in Britain today:

'We waited three months before sleeping together, which made it really special.'

'I've lost everything.'

'I've got no dad.'

'Nobody cares what happens to me.'

Comment would be superfluous.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Wish I'd thought of this...

Have you ever wondered what to blog about next?

Over at Catholic Book Reviews, Andrew has come up with the easiest self-perpetuating blog ever: reviewing CTS booklets.

Looks like one of those virtuous circles: his reading will keep the blog going, and his blog will keep the reading going.

Now, what shall I post on next?...

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Intolerant tolerance

I had to make a presentation as part of a training course at one of my clients today. Another presenter was the client's Equality and Diversity Officer. He is a homosexual, and as part of his talk on tolerance of difference cited his experience when a social worker realised that he and his lover were a homosexual couple seeking to adopt a young boy. He said that the additional scrutiny to which they were subjected was a clear example of homophobia, as was the social worker's questioning whether two homosexual men were the best possible potential adoptive parents for the child.

I disagreed - but said nothing, in the knowledge that to say anything (even to raise the question about whether there was any evidence that children thrive in such settings, or that they don't do better with one male and one female parent to act as role models) would mean that I would not work for that organisation again - and possibly be blacklisted beyond it.

I did however mention my reservations in private to a senior manager, who agreed with them -but also agreed that if either of us voiced our doubts, we would be labeled homophobic: she would be sacked and I would have my contract terminated.

Given all this was a result of a talk on tolerance... well draw your own conclusions.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Great Chant CD

At Sunday's Workshop I bought a copy of Nick Gale's CD of chant. It consists of the Asperges, Vidi Aquam, Ordinaries (Masses 11,8,9,11,15,17 and 18) the Ambrosian Gloria, Credos 1, 3 and 4, and 4 Alleluias.

It is beautifully chanted by Nick and two colleagues from the Southwark Cathedral Choir, and ideal for any Schola wishing to extend their repertoire and sing the chant giving primacy to the words, and aspiring to a robust rather than ethereal sound.

Highly recommended - get it at - a snip at a tenner!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Chant Workshop

I went to the Chant Workshop at Lancaster Cathedral last Saturday. It was run by Nick Gale and was inspirational.

In particular his approach to rhythmic interpretation (tearing up the old rules about, for example, the quilisma) made a lot of sense.

We worked hard all day, and made considerable progress. Nick's knowledge - and his opinions - were very stimulating and really helped us all to understand better how best to sing this ancient liturgical music.

I was looking forward to hearing how the Schola - who were nearly all there - would perform the next day; but I have to say it was a bit disappointing: the Asperges, for example, proved to be an interesting mix, with some attempting to sing it the way we had learned the previous day, and others slipping back into autopilot mode. I guess it takes some time to integrate a new approach into your singing, and particularly to break old habits.

So I will look forward to the next sung Mass with interest.