Tuesday 26 April 2011

YCA National Weekend in September

I have been asked to publicise this, and am happy to do so.

Young Catholic Adults National Weekend 9th - 11th September 2011

During the weekend of the 9-11 September 2011 Young Catholic Adults will be running a weekend at Douai Abbey, it will be led by Juventutem Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr de Malleray . The weekend will be full-board.

* YCA will have half of the retreat centre to itself

* There will be a Marian Procession, Rosaries, Sung Mass, Low Mass, Confession and socials

* Fr. de Malleray FSSP head of Juventutem will preach the retreat, Masses will be in the Extraordinary form

Prices range from £5 to £51 per person per night . There are 3 options

The Main Guest House
Friday , registration from 4pm, to Sunday 11th September (full board)* or

Arrive Saturday morning till Sunday or day only

£51 full-board per person per night

£25 for students/low waged/unwaged (or whatever you can afford)per person per night

The Cottages

£35 per person per night (full board). Self catering £25 per person per night (reductions for students:- or whatever you can afford) .

Self-catering Camping

£5 per person per night (or whatever you can afford - please bring your own tent and food ).

If you would like lunch on Sunday 11th then it will be an extra £7 each.

How to book - limited places so please reserve your place early

To reserve your place for the weekend (no deposit needed if you are coming for the day on Saturday), please contact the Guestmaster direct and send a 20 pound deposit (non-returnable) to Brother Christopher Greener OSB, Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, Reading, Berks. RG7 5TQ (please make any cheques payable to Douai Abbey). Please mention how long you wish to stay and any special diet.

For general enquiries about the weekend:- or any queries about the accommodation/location/lifts required please ring Damian Barker on 07908105787 or 01452 539503.

Thursday 14 April 2011

Mons. Curry should resign from Vaughan Governors

I do not generally like to rush to judgement on priests and bishops (and when I do like to, I try to restrain myself...).

Moreover, I was not present at the vigil outside the Vaughan, when it is reported that Mons Curry appeared to behave in an aggressive way verging on assault towards the acting Head (Damian Thompson carries the story here)

It is within the bounds of possibility that Mons. Curry did nothing at all wrong and that what was witnessed was completely misinterpreted by the 300 or so who saw the drama unfold; in fairness, they would not have been inclined to place the most favourable interpretation on anything that Mons. Curry did or said! Perhaps they saw a rehearsal for a school assembly on bullying, for example.

Nonetheless, I believe that Mons. Curry should resign from the Governing Body of the Vaughan, even if (or indeed particularly if) he is wholly misunderstood and entirely innocent of any misjudgement etc.

The reason is that his role there is now untenable. The Vaughan parents and pupils will never be able to accept him given this latest turn of events. Once one is in a role that it becomes impossible to fullfil competently, one has an obligation to step down; particularly if one has done nothing wrong. Why particularly then? Because that is when one's boss will find it hardest (and possibly illegal) to ask one to do so. But if your intention is to achieve the goals of your role, and your presence in that role becomes an obstacle to them being achieved, then resignation is the honourable option.

There was a time when politicians understood this: they no longer do. Let us hope that Mons. Curry does.

Pray for him and all involved in the Vaughan - not least the Archbishop - that they may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

Monday 11 April 2011

Bernie Hits 18

This weekend we celebrated Bernadette’s 18th birthday. This feels like a landmark, especially as she also effectively just finished school – the Easter holidays have started, and next term is just revision and exams. Then she’s off to University in the autumn.

All of which put me in a reflective mood. When she was born, her older sister, Antonia was two and a half. She was a good-tempered baby and the two sisters were quickly very close to each other.

However, as a toddler things grew more difficult. In particular, she found it very hard to express her emotions, so could suddenly (it seemed to us) fall into a black mood and be unable to tell us why. This could happen anywhere and we (and she) still have no idea what it was about.

On one memorable occasion, we were out for a walk, Ant and Bernie running around in a field. We eventually walked on to the stile at the far end of the field only to find Bernie had stopped. She was just standing there in the middle of the field, under a black cloud of her own making. No amount of calling or cajoling could get her to budge, Eventually I returned to her and picked her up – a fierce bundle of crossness unable to say why she was cross.

When Charlie was born, she was instantly devoted to him, and spent many hours with him on her knee, and she was likewise enthusiastic when Dominique came along.

But her moody temeprament persisted: Ant loved to devise and organise shows, where they would dress up and act out a story. On many occasions, Bernie would participate excitedly in devising the show, sorting the costumes, rehearsing – and then resolutely refuse to play her part in front of us. She tried Brownies but didn’t like the rules and uniforms. She had a spikey relationship with her grandma, and also with her early school teachers. We managed to improve those by telling the teachers how much she liked them one parents’ evening, and telling her how much the teachers liked her – from the next day things were much better, both ways.

An important influence on her and Ant was a Catholic Family group we joined. Here she met some older Catholic girls whom she loved and admired, and who continue to be role models for her. Pilgrimages to shrines in England, and eventually the legendary Chartres pilgrimage also strengthened her love of her Faith. A keen flautist, she also learned to sing Gregorian Chant. Through music and art she found ways to express herself, and her Faith, that she couldn’t through words.

As she moved into her teens, the moodiness of her childhood was left behind, and her teen years were very much easier, as she grew into a thoughtful, considerate and confident girl. I am sure that part of what helped her to achieve this was a combination of knowing she was loved unconditionally by her whole family, and knowing what was expected of her as a civilised and Catholic child.

She always loved animals, and when we moved to the country and got a puppy, she was delighted. That move also took her into a new school, where she made friends with a lovely, lively set of girls. None of them are Catholic, though some are church-going Christians. But Bernie is recognised as the most committed to her Faith, In a recent class debate, they asked her to debate with the most vociferous atheist – but each had to take the others’ position. She loved that, though found it very challenging to think of any reasons why the world might be better if we were all atheists…

Ant was very bright and hard working, and was chosen to be head girl at their school: a hard act to follow. We have always been aware of that, and have sought to help the younger children explore different paths from their elder siblings. So where Ant played the piano, and had sailing as her main hobby, Bernie plays the flute and rides horses. At school she works hard, but again has chosen very different subjects from Ant: Ant is studying Maths at University, while Bernie is studying philosophy, maths and art at 6th form, and will study Fine Art at University.

She is still my most penetrating critic – not only out of the kids, but out of the world; she observes me accurately and tells me just what she thinks: and for that too, I love her.

To celebrate her birthday, and a friend’s 18th, we organised a ceilidh in the village hall. The theme was Noah’s Ark, and all their friends came dressed as animals, and had a fabulous evening. We served lashings of juice and water, and a few of them bought a bottle of wine or two, but nobody got drunk, or misbehaved: they were a delightful crowd; and ceilidh dancing is very sociable, in sets, rather than pairs, and lively rather than lewd.

So now she is 18, and like her elder sister, still very committed to her Faith. It is tempting to feel ‘job done’ but actually, they continue to need our love prayers and support; that phase of moving out of the family into the wider world is not always easy.

So why am I sharing this here? I suppose I thought some might be interested, and also, perhaps, it may be helpful to hear that children who are difficult (and she was certainly that as a toddler and junior school girl) will turn out well if loved and taught.

Friday 8 April 2011

School Concert

Last night's school concert was excellent. As well as Bernie's flute solo, which went really well, we had cello, violin, piano and singing solos, as well as performances by the wind band, flute choir, choir, chamber choir, and orchestra, with music ranging from Gibbons to Faure, from Wagner to Bilk, from Elgar to Enya, and from Gershwin to Sting...

A wonderful array of talent working together for the last time, as many of the performers are leaving to go to University at the end of the academic year, and have serious exams between now and then.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Musical kids

It's the school concert tonight. It will be very emotional, as the orchestra have reached an exceptionally high standard, but many of the musicians are in the Upper Sixth, so will be leaving the school shortly. Both Bernie and Charlie will be performing; Bernie as leader of the flute section and also performing a solo - her first and last at the school.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Laetare! and Mothering Sunday

Home-made cards by the kids are always excellent - each in his or her own unique style, instantly identifiable!

And then a Low Mass (EF) for Laetare Sunday, complete with rose vestments. What a great day!

Saturday 2 April 2011

Twisting Language

In the Catholic Herald comments boxes, you come across some interesting new ways of using language:

Ultra-Catholic - someone who believes what the Gospels and the Church teach; [applied to others]

Committed Catholic - someone who disbelieves what the Gospels and Church teach, but believes in a God of love; [applied by the person writing to himself or herself.]

So when you read about 'committed Catholics' who disagree with the Church on (say) abortion or contraception, bear in mind that self-identifying 'committed Catholics' may also disagree with the Church on everything else (including, in the case of the person so self-describing in the Herald com box) the resurrection and ascension of Our Lord, Heaven, Hell, and so on...

My comment that to call oneself a committed Catholic in that case was a little disingenuous was met with howls of outraged protest at how I was passing judgement...

There seems to be little point talking to these people - one can only pray for them.

Friday 1 April 2011

Great Pro-Life Strategy

Extraordinary woman who takes her baby into abortion clinics - and leads women out of them...
Watch on Youtube. When women, sitting there considering what they are about to do, are passed a baby to hold, guess what, many think again. So far she has saved at least 40 women and their unborn children. H/t Discover Happiness.

ACN Walsingham Pilgrimage

I have just received this from Aid to the Church in Need:

Aid to the Church in Need UK – Annual Walsingham Pilgrimage of Hope – Saturday, 30th April 2010

Please join us as Aid to the Church in Need remembers suffering Christians around the world with our 2011 Pilgrimage to the Roman Catholic National Shrine in Walsingham.

ACN is organising coaches from London Victoria, Bressenden Place, departing at 08:00. Should parishioners wish to join us at Walsingham, travelling independently or, perhaps, organising coaches from their locality they are very welcome to do so.

For those who would like to join us on this Pilgrimage and would like more information a brochure and booking form is downloadable from the ACN website
. You could also contact us on 020 8642 8668.