Monday 29 November 2010

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater, quae pervia caeli

Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,

Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quae genuisti,

Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem

Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore

Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

V: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
R: Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto

Mother of the Redeemer, who art ever of heaven
The open gate, and the star of the sea, aid a fallen people,
Which is trying to rise again; thou who didst give birth,
While Nature marveled how, to thy Holy Creator,
Virgin both before and after, from Gabriel's mouth
Accepting the All hail, be merciful towards sinners.

(Tr Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman)

V: The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
R: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Advent again...

You can tell it's advent! We spent the afternoon trudging through the snow in search of holly for our Advent wreath, and a suitable branch for our Jesse tree.

And after Mass, we sang the Alma Redemptoris Mater.

At prayers tonight, we'll sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, and say the wonderful collect Arise in thy strength we beseech thee O Lord and come; from the dangers which threaten us because of our sins, be thy presence our sure defence, be thy deliverance our safety for ever more; and we'll sing the Alma Redemptoris Mater again.

And so we will continue till Christmas Eve (changing the collect each week, of course!) Only then will we start to decorate the house, put up the tree and so forth.

Monday 22 November 2010

Holy Father: more Christ-like than Blair-like (Deo gratias)

The BBC and others are grossly misreporting what the Holy Father has said about condoms. Some of this is doubtless a result of ignorance and laziness, some wishful thinking and some deliberate pursuing an agenda of their own.

What he actually said was very specific: in the case of somebody who is in a very bad place, then the intention of minimising harm to others might be the start of a moral awakening.

Thus as a pastor, and following in the footsteps of his Lord, he is always looking for signs of hope, for the potential redemption of every sinner - indeed of us all. With the eyes of faith he can see even in the most depraved situation that there may be the first quickening of moral awareness in a small shift of intentions.
That is what he said and I believe is what he meant.

Of course the media twisted it. But he is not there to be a spin doctor. He models himself on Christ, not Blair. Ands just as Christ was often wilfully misunderstood by his hearers, so is the Holy Father.

Sunday 21 November 2010

EF Mass at Birmingham Oratory

Bernie and I were in Birmingham visiting some friends (Anna and the rest of the kids couldn't come this time) so we took the opportunity of going to Low Mass at the Oratory this morning.

It's a while since I've been to a Low Mass, and it was fabulous. So quiet (apart from various children, whose subdued soundtrack made it sound like a truly Catholic Mass!) and so prayerful.

Also, as ever at the Oratory, I was struck by the variety of people present. I spotted Matthew Doyle and family, whom I recognised from his blog; I also think I saw Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht, Captain Foulenough, the well known diva Rustiguzzi, Roland Milk, the poet, and Mr Justice Cocklecarrot.

Wednesday 17 November 2010


I recently received this email from a reader:

I can see your stance on abortion but most contraceptives do not end lives. The birth control bill can cause an early abortion so I am against that but what is wrong with others. Most catholics support Natural Family Planning and the rhythm method so what is the difference if a couple decides to use something like spermicide or a condom? I am a protestant by the way. I believe premarital sex is a sin but contraceptives are not necessarily the reason for the rise of unwed pregnancy and stds. It's because are so careless. If you are going to have premarital sex all you have to do is to get your partner tested for stds and don't have sex with anybody else. As far as pregnancy is concern don't have sex during ovulation and use a condom as back up. It's just laziness.

Also abstinence is the ideal and is what God wants but is it realistic to think everybody will abstain. Even before sex ed premarital sex was more of a problem than people wanted to admit. If a woman got pregnant she often walked down the aisle pregnant. This happened to my grandmother. If a girl could not get married she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers to give up her baby. These women were unfairly labeled sluts even though most of these girls were not anymore promiscuous than women who experienced shotgun weddings. Boys were not condemned at all.

The Girls Who Went Away- Google Books

My point is to ask you which is worse Some girl using birth control or Girls secretly sent away to some maternity home, coerced by society into giving the bay, and then suffering emotional damage for decades while the father moves on with his life?

It was signed, but as it was not put in the combox, I won't give the name...


To this, I wrote the following reply:

Dear (...)

Thanks for your email.

I think with regard to pre-marital sex, you are quite right: abstinence is the ideal and is what God wants. To ask if it is realistic seems to me to miss the point. We could equally well say that people are going to assault each other - it is not realistic to expect that nobody will. But that doesn’t make it right or acceptable, and certainly doesn’t mean that we should make it easier for them to do so (which is what contraceptives do with regard to pre-marital sex).

And that is my whole point: our job is to discover God’s will, and then carry it out. It is clear that his will for human sexuality is that it is for reproduction and for the expression of mutual love and self-giving within marriage.

It is interesting to note that until less than 100 years ago, all Christian denominations were united on this issue. It was only in 1930 that the Lambeth Conference of Anglicans decided that contraceptives might be permissible within marriage - and look where that has led.

One of the other problems with contraceptives is that when they fail, (and they do - ask anyone involved in pregnancy counselling!) then abortion is the back-up - so contraceptives and abortion are closely linked in fact, if not in theory.

You raise another couple of interesting questions. One is:

Most catholics support Natural Family Planning and the rhythm method so what is the difference if a couple decides to use something like spermicide or a condom?

There are in fact many differences:

In NFP, the couple are enjoying a God-given facet of biology; they are not doing anything, except abstaining from sex for certain periods of time;

In NFP, the attitude is different: it is fundamentally one of obedience (NFP is not easy!) which means if a child is conceived, the parents will not abort it; in artificial contraception, the fundamental attitude is 'My will be done...'

In NFP, the effect is to encourage the couple to restraint and mutual respect; whereas artificial contraception tends in the opposite direction;

In artificial contraception, a barrier is placed between the couple, either physical or chemical, at the very moment that they are united: they are giving themselves to each other - yet with-holding a fundamental part of themselves, the capacity to give life.

Couples who use NFP have a remarkably low divorce rate, compared to the rest of the population (including compared to Catholics who use artificial contraception). By their fruits...

The other interesting question was this:

Which is worse: Some girl using birth control or Girls secretly sent away to some maternity home, coerced by society into giving the baby, and then suffering emotional damage for decades while the father moves on with his life?

Both of these are bad: therefore we should choose neither. But girls (or others) using artificial birth control fuel the problem, they don’t solve it.

When contraceptives were being promoted, we were promised 'no more unwanted pregnancies; more stable marriages; happier people.' But they have failed to deliver on those promises, and as far as I can see work drectly against them - and that is because they work directly against the will of God.

But I realise that it is most unlikely that I will convince you. Instead I would urge you to pray and study the Bible and the historic teaching of all Christianity.

Best wishes

Ben Trovato


To this, I received the civil reply: Thanks

Sunday 7 November 2010

New Latin Mass Society Website

The Latin Mass Society of England and Wales has launched its new website

It is well worth a visit: I particularly like the map of England and Wales showing where Masses are, and the section on chant, including the embedded Gregorian Chant Network blog.