Tuesday 30 June 2009

If only it was a Catholic Church...

Ely Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral

Westminster Abbey

St Bartholomew's Church, London Road, Brighton

I was sat on the grass, Providence Place, outside St Bartholomew's Church off London Road yesterday. You can lie on the grass and look up at the Ark like Church that towers over London Road. It is apparently, the tallest Church in Europe. It is a formidable and imposing structure. And then I had a thought...if only it were a Catholic Church! Then I thought of other Churches which are more imposing and beautiful, such as the ones pictured above. I thought...if only they were Catholic Churches! I don't know about St Bartholomews, but all the other ones were definitely nicked by Protestants during the reign of Henry VIII. Why didn't someone at the time say, "Oi! Get your filthy mitts off our Churches!"

I wasn't expecting a call from the Ecumenical Council of Churches anyway...

Monday 29 June 2009


Oratre fratres!

I drove up to the Brompton Oratory for another fix of Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Sunday. I was right at the back of the very ornate and beautiful Church so I was unable to get an eyeful of the Sacred Vestments. Suffice to say however that they will have been splendid. It was, of course, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. St Peter, enthroned, was dressed up to the hilt in red and gold.

The choir sang some wonderful polyphony and chant, but of course, due to the fact that the Oratory is so spacious, it is difficult for them to really fill the Church with sound. Not so much a problem, when we have a large choir, at St Mary Magdalen's Church, Brighton.

These are exciting times at BN1. Existing proposals for renovation of the building look like they will make a huge impact on an already beautiful Church. Hopefully the Church will be given the financial go-ahead to begin the work. Apparently, in the plans for the renovation, the gallery will be restored and the Choir will have its own place to sing our own Gregorian Chant, and hopefully, one day, polyphony at St Mary Magdalen's. If only more parish Churches took some leaves out of the Oratorians book on liturgy!

St Philip Neri, founder of the Oratorians, was a very inspiring Saint. He established a lay order of Little Brothers of the Oratory and had many lay men deepening their faith and bringing the Faith of Christ to many others. Who knows, perhaps one day some of the Oratorian practices will be established in the heart of Brighton. With the apostolic and liturgical efforts of a handful of Sussex priests, it is a distinct possibility...The Brighton Oratory!

Thursday 25 June 2009

Kylie Considering Conversion to Catholic Faith

Kylie Minogue is considering conversion to the Catholic Faith...question is...will Jason follow?

Is this the greatest duet of all time?

Is this the best duet since the Song of Songs?

Are they talking about their love for each other or Christ's love for His Bride, the Church?

Yes, this song is littered with theological reference...

Tuesday 23 June 2009

African Women with HIV 'Coerced into Sterilisation'

Courtesy of The Guardian

Women in Africa are being sterilised without their consent after being told the procedure is a routine treatment for Aids, a lawsuit will claim. Forty HIV-positive women in Namibia have been made infertile against their will, according to the International Community of Women Living with HIV/Aids (ICW). The group is preparing to sue the Namibian government over at least 15 cases.

Campaigners also report coerced sterilisation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and South Africa, where according to one report a 14-year-old girl was told she could have an abortion only on condition that she agreed to sacrifice her reproductive rights.

The ICW has documented cases in Namibia where HIV-positive women minutes from giving birth were encouraged to sign consent forms to prevent them from having more children. Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet, its co-ordinator in the country, said: "They were in pain, they were told to sign, they didn't know what it was. They thought that it was part of their HIV treatment. None of them knew what sterilisation was, including those from urban areas, because it was never explained to them.

"After six weeks they went to the family planning centre for birth control pills and were told that it's not necessary: they're sterile. Most of them were very upset. When they went back to the hospital and asked, 'Why did you do this to us?' the answer was: 'You've got HIV'."

Gatsi-Mallet said that some women were now afraid to go to hospital in case they are sterilised, and infertile women were often rejected by their husbands and communities: "In African culture, if you are not able to have children, you are ostracised. It's worse than having HIV."

African women aged between 20 and 34 have a higher prevalence of HIV than any other social group; in South Africa one in three is infected. On average an HIV-positive mother has a one in four risk of transmitting the virus to her child. With the latest antiretroviral drugs, the probability can be cut to less than one in 50. But such medical interventions are underfunded and inaccessible to millions of women across the continent.

The ICW accuses the Namibian government of encouraging state doctors to sterilise HIV-positive women as a means of preventing the spread of the virus. Its request to see the government's official guidelines has been refused. It hopes to bring 15 or more cases to court later this year.

A media report from Namibia last week highlighted the plight of Hilma Nendongo. A few weeks after giving birth, she was asked by a nurse: "Oh, did they tell you that you had been sterilised?" Nendongo, 30, who is HIV-positive, suddenly remembered that hospital staff had told her to sign some papers as she entered the operating room for a caesarean section. "It was a very big shock," she told Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. "I was very emotional … I wanted a sister for my three boys, and now I can't have one."

In South Africa, cases are being referred to the Women's Legal Centre with a view to a possible action. Promise Mthembu, a researcher at Witwatersrand University, said coerced sterilisations were happening in "very large areas" of the country. Many patients were forced to undergo the operation as the only means of gaining access to medical services, Mthembu told the Mail & Guardian newspaper.

Alan Keyes Blog

Dr Alan Keyes is at the forefront of the Pro-Life movement in the US. He is a former Republican senator who is outspoken against Obama and his mafia of Planned Parenthood funded cronies. He has been arrested recently along with others at the Notre Dame protest. He vehemently defends the dignity of human life and is loyal to the Magisterium of the Church. He's the kind of politician of whom St Thomas More most surely is proud! He writes very well also.
"What's the difference between a conservative politician and a Republican? The conservative remembers his principles when he's in office. The Republican only acts as if he remembers when he needs our votes to put him there."~ Dr Alan Keyes from blog post, 'Conservative vs. Republican: What’s the difference?'
Click here to see his blog.

Monday 22 June 2009

Spiritual Healing

I had a chat with someone of whom I am very, very fond yesterday. She told me that she was planning to go to a 'spiritual healing' event in Leicester Square and that she had been going for quite a while every now and then. She is a 'cradle' Catholic, but like quite a few Catholics is unconvinced by the teachings of the Church. As a convert, it always saddens me greatly when I talk to Catholic friends who feel so distant and removed from the life of the Church, who cannot believe even some of the most central tenets of the Faith and who, having been given the Faith in childhood reject it in the hope of discovering some other spirituality which will answer the core difficulties we face in life. It is common, of course, for people to wander away from the Catholic Faith, or even to still attend Mass but remain unconvinced of the truths revealed to the Church and to find other religions and philosophies more appealing.

At the same time, the popularity of 'new age' religions, which are often so vague as to answer a need for spirituality, while simultaneously offering no doctrine or truth of any depth is concerning, especially given that a few of my friends who are Catholic, as well as those who are not, dabble in it. As a convert, as I say, I find myself thinking, 'But you don't know what it is that you already have and how privileged you are to have been raised in the Catholic Church.' Yet somehow, this does not address a fundamental problem which doubtless will persist and especially if Priests and Bishops do not proclaim the core realities of the Catholic Faith to the Faithful and emphasise the unique and glorious wonder of the Catholic Faith.

With the increase in depression, mental illness and anxiety which mark a society riven by family breakdown and the destruction of the dignity of human life, 'new age' philosophies and practices such as belief in the power of crystals, auras and spiritual 'healing' can become very alluring. Yet at the same time, because these things are not Holy, but rather misleading pseudo-religions and charms, they cannot satisfy the needs of the human heart.

Only this can. At the centre of the Catholic Faith lies a Mystery so profound and breathtaking that it is indeed difficult to comprehend or to believe. The Most Holy Eucharist, that is the Real Presence of God under the guise of bread, is a Mystery so profound as to perplex believers and non-believers alike. The doctrine of the Real Presence is something that should fill us with awe, because the Almighty God, the same Almighty God Who for us became so small as to become for us a Babe, again, daily, becomes so small as to become for us Bread, even the Bread of Life Himself. The late, great, perhaps one day to be beatified, Cardinal Basil Hume wrote that those who suffered disbelief in the Real Presence should pray before the Blessed Sacrament and say, "I believe, Lord, help Thou my unbelief."

As Catholics we, like various 'new age' philosophies believe in a World 'seen and unseen'. For, it is safe to say that beliefs in energy and the like reveal a belief in a world hidden from our eyes and senses. Furthermore, the 'new age' practice of communication with your 'angel' is not something Catholics should be totally unfamiliar with, for even the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI himself, prays to his Guardian Angel, to St Michael the Archangel and to St Raphael as he recently mentioned, for protection.

While as GK Chesterton observed, it is true to say that, "When men cease to believe in God, they do not then believe in nothing, but anything", it is also true to say that the spiritualist beliefs in the power of crystals, tarot, auras, palm reading and energy fields - something which marks something so seemingly innocuous as 'reiki' and the more esoteric yoga practices - it is not as if the Catholic Faith does not contain within it a great Mysticism and Beauty, which is actually incredibly powerful and if meditated upon is utterly magnificent. But maybe, we do not hear enough about it...

If 'new age' beliefs and practices persist and belief in the 'healing power of crystals' or 'auras' persist, then why is it so difficult to believe that when a soul confesses before a Priest, that it is not the Priest himself who is really absolving and forgiving the soul and restoring that soul to purity and beauty, but Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself? Among Catholics, even, the idea that this is indeed truly happening is something difficult to believe. Yet it is a truth of the Holy Faith. It is a truth so sublime and majestic that it should leave us in total awe at God's goodness.

What is more, the Church firmly and with utter conviction believes in Life after Death. The Church firmly says, "Yes, it is true. Heaven does exist! There is a Heaven!" What could be more consoling to the afflicted than this truth!? The Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary has opened up for us the Gates of Heaven! This may not always be an easy life, but who knows how long this life shall last? Is there anything more that God could do for us than, by His unfathomable generosity and mercy, to present us with the Hope of Heaven? The path to Heaven may not be smooth. Indeed we may have to bear a Cross, and the purification of our souls may also take place in the life to come. Yet Heaven exists and is our Eternal Home!

Not only that, but, again, though it is hidden from our eyes and senses, Heaven is actually present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and just like the unseen 'energies' espoused by the 'new age' religion, though Heaven is hidden from our eyes and senses, we believe that wherever the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is said, God, His Angels and His Saints are there, praying with us and for us! We may not be able to feel it, perhaps fortunate souls will, but it is happening and we are there in the Presence of God. The Catholic Faith can at times seem very dry, yet it is drenched in the love of God.

All of these truths of the Faith are made known to us by Holy Mother Church and because of our Baptism. It was this that removed from our souls the stain of Original Sin and made us adopted Sons and Daughters of God. All of these wondrous Sacraments are not only breathtaking, but true. Yet so often, we take them for granted.

This must be the reason why Pope Benedict XVI and some Priests and some Bishops loyal to him wish to see the sense of the Sacred, the Mystery and the Holy, returned to parish Churches across the globe. For without a sense of the Divine, without a sense of the sublime, and without a sense of awe that actually transcends our own understanding and sense of the cold and rational - what spirituality can the Church offer to a World crying out for Hope - a Hope which is not only of great consolation amidst suffering, but a Hope which is Eternal and True?

Seriously, if you can think of anything more rich in spirituality than the Catholic Faith, then I would like to hear of it...but I doubt very much that you can. It is because of these truths of the Holy Faith, that beliefs in 'new age' philosophies are to be treated with not contempt, nor derision, but yes suspicion, but also compassion for those who do. For in the light of what or Who it is that all of us are really searching for, whether we admit it or not, we are, all of us, yearning for God, because as St Augustine said, "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." That is our condition and that is why 'new age' religions have appeal of any substance whatsoever. The only response to it is the Treasure of the Church - the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass...the Mystery of Faith.


I've just reconciled the St Mary Magdalen's bank accounts with the parish figures! Oh the emotional rollercoaster that is accountancy! The highs! The lows! The blood, the sweat and the tears! Oh happy day! Praise be to God! Oh, yes! Once I was blind! But now I see! Oh Lord! There is no obstacle that Your Grace cannot overcome!

Some Dignitas Patients Could Have 'Lived For Decades'

Dr Anne Turner: her son Edward (centre) has raised questions over assisted suicide.
Photograph: Johnny Green/PA

We can only assume that when this photo was taken, these doctors were not discussing assisted suicide, but then, hey, in their profession, I guess they need a sense of humour...

Today The Guardian pens a good article [shock!] about the concerns raised by several organisations about the way in which Dignitas operates. Dignitas, is, of course, the world-renowned 'clinic' where you can get bumped off at your own request and at a price that's high.
'Senior doctors will tomorow express concern over the number of Britons suffering from non fatal illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and kidney disease who have used the Swiss suicide service, Dignitas.

Their fears were raised after the Guardian obtained a list drawn up by Dignitas which reveals the medical conditions which have driven 114 Britons to end their lives at the clinic.

The document shows that while many had terminal illnesses such as cancer and motor neurone disease, others had non-fatal conditions which doctors say some people can live with for decades.'

Click here for full article...

Today is the Feast of St Thomas More & St John Fisher

Pope John Paul II named St Thomas More as Patron of politicians. I think, in our country, they could do with his prayers, but then so could we all! St Thomas More, pray for our Government and parliamentarians that the honesty and integrity you showed in your career may be reflected in theirs!

The Telegraph
today pens some amusing jokes at the MP's, err, well... expenses.

Why did the MP bang his head?

Because he'd blacked out all the light bulbs he bought on expenses.

Gordon Brown announced that no MP's will be able to claim furniture expenses from now on.

It was a cabinet decision.

Why did the MP cross the road?

So he could claim a second homes allowance.

Here's one of my own MP expense jokes I just made up...

A murderer, a bank robber and an MP are all sent to prison. In a cell the three exchange stories of how they came to be sentenced for their crimes. They ask each other, "What are you in for?"

When asked by the other two, the murderer replies, "Murder." When asked by the other two the bank robber says, "Armed robbery." "And you?", ask the other two criminals, "You're an MP, aren't you? What are you in for?"

The MP replies, "Whatever I can get."

Courtesy of Catholic Online

St. Thomas More was born at London in 1478. After a thorough grounding in religion and the classics, he entered Oxford to study law. Upon leaving the university he embarked on a legal career which took him to Parliament. In 1505, he married his beloved Jane Colt who bore him four children, andwhen she died at a young age, he married a widow, Alice Middleton, to be a mother for his young children. A wit and a reformer, this learned man numbered Bishops and scholars among his friends, and by 1516 wrote his world-famous book "Utopia". He attracted the attention of Henry VIII who appointed him to a succession of high posts and missions, and finally made him Lord Chancellor in 1529.

However, he resigned in 1532, at the height of his career and reputation, when Henry persisted in holding his own opinions regarding marriage and the supremacy of the Pope. The rest of his life was spent in writing mostly in defense of the Church. In 1534, with his close friend, St. John Fisher, he refused to render allegiance to the King as the Head of the Church of England and was confined to the Tower. Fifteen months later, and nine days after St. John Fisher's execution, he was tried and convicted of treason. He told the court that he could not go against his conscience and wished his judges that "we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation." And on the scaffold, he told the crowd of spectators that he was dying as "the King's good servant-but God's first." He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. His feast day is June 22nd.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Solemn High Mass at Our Lady of Consolation & St Francis

Today I drove Fr Ray Blake over to Our Lady of Consolation & St Francis in West Grinstead, for a very beautiful Solemn High Mass. Fr Matthew Goddard, recently ordained said Mass in the Extraordinary Form in a packed parish, with Fr Sean Finnegan as Deacon and Fr Seamus [forget the surname!] as Sub-Deacon. It is a Church etched into Catholic English History as a hiding place for priests and religious who arrived in Shoreham, during the Reformation under Henry VIII, when Catholicism went underground. How very apt it is that this should be a parish where the Latin Mass is being embraced so ardently, a place where Tyburn martyrs spent possibly some of their last days of freedom. It is also a shrine and site of pilgrimage.

I received a blessing from Fr Matthew, which I was told has some purgatorial escape potential for a grateful soul, which was given in Latin. I was even given the privilege of jumping the queue because of an urgent transportational need, and met, briefly the architect who hopes to restore St Mary Magdalen's to former glory!

Should I ever become a wealthy person by some Miracle of God, then I hope to be able to help out on that front. Anyway, I digress...

Hopefully I shall learn more about the Goddard family soon enough. It's the stuff of Catholic legend! It appears that they are quite a remarkable family! Fr David Goddard, Fr Matthew's father, was an Anglican minister. Fr Matthew converted to Catholicism at the age of 15 and his explanation of his conversion to the Faith and his love and faith in Christ and Holy Mother Church won over not just his father, but the entire family to the Catholic Faith! What is more, they are all in love with the Latin Mass and firmly rooted in Holy Tradition. How remarkable and splendid!

This is them...or at the very least two of them, Fr Matthew on the far left, Fr David in the middle.

The Mass liturgy was breathtaking and Our Lady of Consolation hired a choir who sang both chant and polyphony. The music was so rich and prayerful. The Mass was in honour of Our Lady. I think I saw someone film it. If so I will post a video link if or when it becomes available. I must say there is something very special going on in Sussex, with the Latin Mass and liturgical renewal. Hopefully, it will spread like that some fast-spreading herbacious perennial all across the country at a rate of knots. We can but pray that the Benedictine project, the liturgical renewal of Holy Mother Church and the embracing of Holy Tradition will become a nationwide, or perhaps worldwide movement as popular as say, the hippy movement of the 1960s.

Whether you're a traddie or not, you have to admit that is a sweet song! Hopefully the new 'people in motion' affecting a 'whole generation' will have Christ coursing through their veins, rather than a truck load of hallucinogenic drugs...

The SS Strike Again!

Presumably, another gay couple put in an adoption request with social services...

Courtesy of Daily Mail

A mother had her twin babies taken from her by social workers after she joked that their caesarean birth had ruined her body. She and her husband endured five rounds of IVF costing £38,000 to start a family, only to have social services take their children within weeks.

The parents insist social workers acted needlessly, but have been warned their six-month-old boy and girl could be put up for adoption following a secret Family Court hearing last week. The babies, who were born six weeks prematurely, were taken into care after hospital staff warned that the first-time parents were struggling to care for them.

Nurses reported that the mother appeared to feel ' bitter' towards her children after her joke about the caesarean's effect on her body. And when the desperate woman lost her temper at social workers who had taken her babies, officials said she had 'anger problems' and could pose a threat to her twins.

Full article click here.

Saturday 20 June 2009

The 'C' Word

Chastity, that is. It's the new taboo.

Not terribly interesting yet still quite interesting piece in The Guardian by someone who for a year decided to go chaste. The comments are a bit on the harsh side.

Click here for more. It appears in the 'Life and Style' section of their website. Bemusingly, the abortion debate always appears in the 'Life and Style' section of The Guardian website. I don't know. I understand abortion is an issue of 'Life', but quite what it has to do with 'Style' I have no idea.

The main thrust, ahem, of the article appears to be that the lady concerned was fed up with getting plenty of sex but no love, so gave it up for a year to see what would happen. The main result appears to be that in her self she was happier. What is also interesting is the opposition she got from friends about her choice. It is almost as if people find people practising chastity, for whatever reason, very threatening.


'Increasingly, my vow has been prompting concern. "Nearly there. Thank heavens - I've been worried about you!" a girlfriend fretted the other day. Everyone agrees that I must be longing for it to be over, and in some ways I am. I have craved sex, but the longer I hold out, the more I want it only in the right circumstances. I almost wish I had longer to go. My vow has become less of a nun's habit than a child's security blanket. It's something to cling to - a reason to say no.

During the course of this year, I have become attuned to other needs: the longing for true intimacy, the desire for a connection capable of enduring across distance and time. I have also let myself go. I've left my legs unwaxed and I haven't bothered to shave my armpits, and beneath it all, my relationship to my body has subtly changed - it feels more my own. In a strange way, it also feels, well, sexier. Possibly for the first time ever, I've no use for the validation of a stranger's appraising gaze. These triumphs make me all the warier of my vow's imminent expiration.'

Friday 19 June 2009

The Ottaviani Intervention

I was just looking at the Fisheaters website and came across this fascinating letter from a prominent Cardinal Ottaviani to Pope Paul VI, which appears to be a prophetic warning on the content of the Novus Ordu.

Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI

September 25th, 1969

Most Holy Father, Having carefully examined, and presented for the scrutiny of others, the Novus Ordo Missae prepared by the experts of the Consilium ad exequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia, and after lengthy prayer and reflection, we feel it to be our bounden duty in the sight of God and towards Your Holiness, to put before you the following considerations:

1. The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery.

2. The pastoral reasons adduced to support such a grave break with tradition, even if such reasons could be regarded as holding good in the face of doctrinal considerations, do not seem to us sufficient. The innovations in the Novus Ordo and the fact that all that is of perennial value finds only a minor place, if it subsists at all, could well turn into a certainty the suspicions already prevalent, alas, in many circles, that truths which have always been believed by the Christian people, can be changed or ignored without infidelity to that sacred deposit of doctrine to which the Catholic faith is bound for ever. Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith.

Amongst the best of the clergy the practical result is an agonising crisis of conscience of which innumerable instances come to our notice daily.

3. We are certain that these considerations, which can only reach Your Holiness by the living voice of both shepherds and flock, cannot but find an echo in Your paternal heart, always so profoundly solicitous for the spiritual needs of the children of the Church. It has always been the case that when a law meant for the good of subjects proves to be on the contrary harmful, those subjects have the right, nay the duty of asking with filial trust for the abrogation of that law.

Therefore we most earnestly beseech Your Holiness, at a time of such painful divisions and ever-increasing perils for the purity of the Faith and the unity of the church, lamented by You our common Father, not to deprive us of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of that Missale Romanum of St. Pius V, so highly praised by Your Holiness and so deeply loved and venerated by the whole Catholic world.

A. Card. Ottaviani
A. Card. Bacci

For more on the fascinating exegesis on the outcomes of the Second Vatican Council click here.

Pope Benedict Explains St John Vianney's 'Virtuous Circle' Secret

Benedict XVI is urging priests to not become resigned to empty confessionals, but to help people rediscover the beauty of the sacrament by deepening their understanding of the Eucharist. The Pope stated this in a letter to the priests of the world, on the occasion of the Year for Priests, which begins Friday in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars.

The saint "taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life," the Pontiff affirmed. "It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament." He taught them about the Eucharist, but it was "most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," the Holy Father said.

He added that the saint "was convinced that the fervor of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass" and "was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice." This identification with the sacrifice of the Cross led him from the altar to the confessional, Benedict XVI affirmed.

He continued: "Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament. In France, at the time of the Cure of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion.

"Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence. He thus created a 'virtuous' circle."

The Pope explained that St. John Mary spent long hours in church before the tabernacle, inspiring the faithful "to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness." Over time, he said, penitents started coming from all over the country, and the priest would be in the confessional for up to 16 hours a day.

Thus, the Pontiff said, his parish became known as "a great hospital of souls." He quoted the saint who said: "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him."

The Holy Father urged priests to learn from St. John Mary Vianney to "put our unfailing trust in the Sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the center of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the 'dialogue of salvation,' which it entails."

He noted that "those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the 'flood of divine mercy' which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor," Benedict XVI stated.

He continued, "To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God's love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence."

The Pope affirmed: "In his time the Cure of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of love."

He affirmed that the saint "sought to remain completely faithful to his own vocation and mission," lamenting that "a pastor can grow dangerously inured to the state of sin or of indifference in which so many of his flock are living."

The Pontiff noted the priest's sacrifices on behalf of the souls who came to him in confession, quoting his words to another confrere: "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place."

"Souls have been won at the price of Jesus' own blood," the Holy Father stated, "and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the 'precious cost' of redemption."

Thursday 18 June 2009

Campaign for Day of Discrimination

Join my Campaign for a UN International Day of Overt, Shameless and Blatant, Discrimination! For just one day people of all different creeds and colours, religions, sexualities, abilities and social nuances should have the opportunity to say, 'No', to whomever they please, on whatever basis they choose.

It is time to put aside our political correctness for just one day a year, in which we can say 'Yes!' to whomever we please, at our own liking, and 'No!' to whomever we please. Church community centres will be able to say to gaggle of cackling witches, who want to hire the hall, "No, I do not think that your group is entirely suitable for this space, please try somewhere else."

It would also mean that gay clubs would be able to say, to the straight couple who have an unnerving passion for Abba, Kylie and the Village People, "No, we can't stand seeing straights canoodle all evening, sorry, gays only. That kind of stuff you get up to is sick and unnatural and, like, so 1950s. Get with the programme, darlings!"

And yes, it means that for just one night only, the local Freemasons lodge can say, 'No', to whoever they please, on any basis they choose when locals try to enter to find out what the rituals are that actually go on at those places...They can even say, 'No' to black people and women if they want! That's right, for just one night only!

Also, for just one night only, bouncers at clubs will be able to say, 'No' to people who are homeless or vagrant on the doors of classy establishments and say, "Sorry, for just one night only we are saying 'No' to the homeless. You look rough and people might feel intimidated, so why not look elsewhere? There's a soup run down the road, try there."

For just one day, and one day a year, women who didn't want a child for a myriad reasons could say to their unborn child, "No! The time is really not good for me. I have plans to travel and a career to think of and, besides, you've probably got an abnormality anyway, so no, you cannot live."

Landlords at pubs will be able to say, 'No' and to discriminate against the smoking community and upon seeing someone try to get in with a cigarette, will be able to say, "Excuse me, but we're a non-smoking establishment because we're all health freaks consumed with nothing but our personal well-being. Behold, the temples of our bodies. Please leave your cigarette at the door else you can't come in."

It means that for just one day only, the local council, when employing someone will have their 'Equal Opportunities' forms on their desks when choosing a new recruit for a secretarial position, and, upon realising they haven't employed a disabled, asian, transgendered, ladyboy in the past few months will be able to say, 'No!' to the other non-disabled, non-asian, non-transgendered, woman for no other reason than to fill a 4.5% quota!

For just one day, doctors, nurses, and all health professionals who disagree with abortion, refuse to go against their sacred conscience and refuse to take part in it would be told by their employers, "No! If I were you, if I wanted to keep your job in this profession I would go along with the system and perform the abortions, otherwise your career is distinctly at risk."

For just one day, that's right, just one day, an air hostess who wears a crucifix will be able to be told, in no uncertain terms, "No! You cannot wear a crucifix publicly because it might offend someone on the plane who breaks into a sweat at the sight of Christ upon the Cross!"

And yes, just for one day, let's break out of the chains of political correctness and allow the Police and Community Police to say to the beggar with a can of lager in his hand, "No! You cannot drink that here because its a bye-law which forbids public drinking on every day of the year apart from Gay Pride day, because God knows, we can't offend the gays! But you don't look important so you are different. Come on, hand the drink over and I'll pour it away in front of your face."

And what is more, for just one day, men, women and entire families seeking asylum in the UK from war-torn countries, political and religious persecution, genocide and unjust imprisonment, could be told by the Home Office, "No! We understand that sending you back to your country of origin may result in your torturous death at the hands of extremists, but for just one day a year, we don't care! So sling your hook while we allow a coach of east-europeans to come in while you're crapping yourself for fear at the airport!"

It means that just for one day, an adoption agency, faced with the terrifying challenge of placing a young Christian boy in a loving home, will be able to say "No!" to the Christian, heterosexual couples who are on their register, and place him with an active gay couple instead, in order to fulfil that all important 4.5% quota! That's right! Just for one day!

That's right, discrimination for one day only! Oh what joy would that day bring! Yes, we'd all see on that day that we are all equal and all the same, wouldn't we?! Yes! We would see on that UN International Day of Overt, Shameless and Blatant Discrimination, just how far we have come as a society and that we have created a utopia in which nobody suffers discrimination at all...

You Don't Have to Look Like This to Be a Witch...

But it probably helps!

The Telegraph has reported that...
A coven of witches is accusing the Roman Catholic church of religious persecution after being banned from using a parish social centre for a Halloween gathering [Why that's All Hallow's Eve, surely?]. Sandra Davis, the "high priestess" of Crystal Cauldron [Let's see now. How many cliches can we fit into the title of just one witch coven?] group in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said she was shocked to be told that the pagan group was not considered to be compatible with the church's "ethos" [How shocking!].

Mrs Davis, 61, booked Our Lady's Social Club in Shaw Heath, Stockport, for the group's annual "Witches Ball" due to be held in October. She hoped to attract up to 150 people to the social evening offering a buffet dinner and music from an Abba tribute band and selected the hall because it had disabled access.

But when she went to pay for the booking she was told by the manager that the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which owns the centre, had refused permission for the group to use it.

"It makes you think that there is still a little bit of that attitude from the past of the Catholics wanting to burn witches," she said. "I thought we had made progress, that we could accept other people's religious paths." [Hmm...Yes, it is one thing renouncing the burning at the stake of witches. I suppose that if you really want to worship Satan, who are we to argue with you?! It is quite another to say, "Hey, you witches! Fancy practicing the occult with 150 other witches?! We're the Catholic Church! Come hire our hall space!"]

We've got Mrs Davis, who has 11 grandchildren, gave up her former job in a forklift truck company to set up the Crystal Cauldron, where she is known as "Amethyst Selmeselene" [Good grief!]. Based in a former post office, the 30-strong group runs a new age bookshop and sells cloaks, jewellery and medieval costumes on the internet as well as organising a children's group called "Little Crystals". [Uh-huh, New Age - Check! Ludicrous but in all likelihood slightly nefarious occult practices - Check! Handing all the sorcery nonsense down to the children - Check! Yep, enough here to be slightly wary of hiring the space to you guys!]

It also supports a local cat sanctuary [Black cats only!? Discrimination!] as its designated charity. Mrs Davis has since secured a new venue for the ball which she hopes will become an annual fixture in the town. "It is a full family thing and it is a posh do too," she said. "It is evening dress or fancy dress, last year most of us went in medieval costumes."

The Reverend John Joyce, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury, said that it was out of the question for a pagan group to use its facilities. "Parish centres under our auspices let their premises on the understanding users and their organisations are compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic church," he said. "In this instance, we aren't satisfied such requirements are met."

[Well quite! The only problem, I guess, is that the court, should it come to that, will doubtless force the Diocese into submission on this one. The only sensible thing for the coven to do is to shrug their shoulders and say, "Oh well. Let's try a non-Catholic Church community hall, because let's face it there are tons in this town! Oh sod it, on second thoughts, let's go to the press and kick up a right witches brew of a fuss about it!"]
For those who are in any doubt as to the reason why such an event was rightly deemed unsuitable here is the Catechism of the Catholic Church on...

Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Does Anyone Think These Taser Police Are...

...a little heavy-handed? This was in Nottingham by the way.

How to Cash In on the Swine Flu

Yesterday I asked my parish priest what standard parishioner procedure should be in case of a Swine Flu outbreak in Brighton.

If one contracts Swine Flu and is on death's door should we...

a) Stay at home in quarantine and wait for the priest to come over to give us the Anointing of the Sick?

b) Stay at home in quarantine and wait for the priest to come over to give us the Anointing of the Sick, but keep waiting and die without the Last Rites because he doesn't, perfectly understandably, want to contract the Swine Flu?

c) Go to Church to die in the pews with a host of other Brightonians, having wailed to all and sundry about the End of the World and the need for repentance?

d) Spend our last few days on Earth cashing in on the outbreak by selling doctor's masks and cassocks with hats and odd sticks on Western Road at a bargain price of just £5.99, with the advertising hook of, 'Buy two beaks, get a third beak free'?

e) Simply offer it up for the conversion of sinners, the liberty and exaltation of our Holy Mother, the Church, and the poor souls in Purgatory?

f) Go onto Western Road and expound upon the Gospel in which Christ sends the legions of devils of a man possessed into a herd of swine and run off a cliff, making everyone take note of the fact that that Our Blessed Saviour has been given power and authority by His Heavenly Father to defeat evil and sin and now sits at His Right Hand in Glory, but that the swine had never forgotten about that incident and that this is now the time of the swine's revenge upon mankind and God, so fair enough for them, but that as a footnote, this Gospel passage proves that Christ was not a vegetarian or particularly passionate about animal rights...before dropping dead.

g) Go to hospital and receive an injection of Tamiflu TM?

Monday 15 June 2009

Cutting Your Own Hair

I just cut my own hair. Is this a sign of...

a) Vanity?
b) Poverty?
c) Eccentricity?
d) Stupidity?

Answer: Mostly b. I can tell you one thing for nothing...I'm keeping my hat on! The hardest bit is the back of the head. My hair has been getting long and I've sure I have been causing scandal when altar serving. Also, it felt so heavy and was becoming very irritating, so it just had to go.

For those who want to try it. Here is a quick guide.

Step 1: Get some scissors.
Step 2: Find a mirror.
Step 3: Just snip away and see what looks good.
Step 4: Then once you think it looks reasonable, keep obsessively snipping and experiment. Remain unsatisfied and keep snipping until you look ridiculous, safe in the knowledge that even though you look silly, you've saved yourself ten bob and cannot blame the hairdresser.
Step 5: Get another mirror and show yourself the back of your head. Ask yourself whether you like it. Nod politely, because being English you'd never want to put yourself out of your way or cause offense or inconvenience.
Step 6: Keep going back to the mirror and regret having tried something so audacious repeatedly.
Step 7: Resolve never to try it again.
Step 8: Hoover up the hair on your bathroom floor.

Anyway, now a word from our sponsors, Flowbee, the Precision Home Hair Cutting Device...

The UK "Send Them Back" Home Office

I am taking a break from the Church accounts as it feels as if my head is being stewed in a casserole of assorted numbers, figures and decimal points. Still, irritating as getting the books to balance is, it is nothing in comparison to the deeply repugnant UK Home Office, who I was told this morning are sending a man, who has lived in the UK for 17 years with his wife and family, back to the Congo where his fate is far from assured to be safe.

It appears quite bizarre that the recent election results were so promising for the BNP, when, to all extents and purposes, the UK Government, under Labour, have quite a staggering track record for sending people who fled terror, persecution, political exile and violence, to seek asylum on our shores back to those countries, seemingly without a second thought. It also appears quite bizarre that under Labour, our borders have been relaxed for people who have decided to come here for economic reasons from within the EU, having been welcomed with open arms, yet those fleeing genuine persecution and probable death from war-torn regions of the World are sent packing to face the very same persecution and possible death.

Voices in Exile, who work with asylum seekers and refugees in the UK and in particular in this region, Brighton, do excellent work helping refugees and asylum seekers with practical necessities such as food and clothing, as well as campaigning on the behalf of men and women whose human rights are seldom recognised by the UK Government, in terms of benefits or the ability to work or live as a family.

I wonder when junior or senior ministers, or whoever it is who signs these orders for repatriation for people seeking asylum in the UK, from regimes who would have them dead, ever give a second thought as to the consequences of the swift movement of their pen? The very fact that these orders are so blithely executed reveals the lack of heart at the heart of Government. For a Government to send someone back to a country where their very life is at risk is grossly irresponsible, sick, cold-hearted and evil.

Say a prayer for Bobby Macasa, asylum seeker from the Congo, being deported on flight KQ101 to Nairobi from where a flight will leave for the Congo. He has lived in the UK since he was 8 years of age, when he was grated Indefinite Leave to Remain on the 6th November 1999. If his removal takes place he will be denied the right to a fair trial and the right to a family life. At best, his own assessment of his future is that he will end up homeless, without family, in a country whose language and cultre is foreign to him. The prospect of his departure has left his son and daughter who are psychologically traumatised by the UK Home Office decision, which is without doubt a scandal and a stain upon the conscience of the Government, the country and the values which the UK has so often promoted to be our own. Shame on this Government, if the decision is not repealed!

UPDATE...Decision by Home Office "deferred". Still hope for Bobby so keep him in your prayers.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Sextuplets Joy For Irish Couple

Courtesy of BBC News

The mother of Ireland's first ever set of sextuplets has told how she and her husband declined without hesitation the option of aborting some foetuses. Nuala Conway, 26, of Dunamore, County Tyrone, gave birth to four girls and two boys 14 weeks early last month.

She said that 14 weeks into the pregnancy, she and husband Austin were told about the risks of proceeding. "But we knew without discussion what we both wanted. These babies are a wonderful gift from God," she said.

"Whatever God laid out for our lives, we were taking it," she told the Sunday Express newspaper.

Abortions in Northern Ireland are still strictly limited and can go ahead only if it can be proven that the pregnancy would damage the physical or mental health of the woman. Mrs Conway's babies were delivered by a team of 30 people at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital in Belfast and all arrived within the space of five minutes. The babies, conceived without the aid of IVF, weighed between 1lb 7oz and 2lb 2oz.

For full story click here.

IVF Embryo Fiasco

Story from The Telegraph

A couple's last hopes of having another child have been shattered after a blunder at an NHS fertility clinic saw their final usable embryo implanted in another woman.

The error was made after a doctor at the clinic failed to carry out checks that require all fertility procedures to be witnessed and verified. The woman who mistakenly received the embryo was told of the mistake shortly after it occurred and had a termination.

The unnamed couple, who wanted to try for their second child, have spoken of their devastation and disbelief after winning a legal battle against the IVF Wales clinic, in Cardiff. Nine embryos had been created using IVF in 2000, and the woman, a 38-year-old hospital worker, subsequently gave birth to a son three years later.

The remaining embryos were stored until 2007 when she and her husband, a 40-year-old printing plant manager, decided to try for a second child. One of the embryos had survived and they travelled to the clinic for treatment only to be told the news. In a newspaper interview, the woman said: "In less than ten seconds our wonderful world was shattered when the senior embryologist stood in front of us and said, 'I'm very sorry to tell you, but there's been an accident in the lab. Your embryo has been destroyed'.

"We were both rooted to our seats. We were stunned and trembling. We held each other tightly, and sobbed and sobbed. "It was like water from a tap. I kept thinking, "They've killed our baby! Killed our baby!"

She said it was not until later they discovered the embryo had been implanted in another woman who elected to have a termination when she found out what had happened.

"We were shaking with shock and bursting with anger, especially as it was the one thing all IVF patients are told could never happen," the woman added. "What's more, it was the last of our embryos and, though they offered another round of IVF treatment for free, we turned it down, and made it plain that we would never trust them again."

She said the blunder had put a terrible strain on her relationship with her husband and that it was their son, now aged six, who kept them together. The case follows the revelation yesterday that a white couple in Northern Ireland have had a mixed race baby after another IVF mistake. The woman was fertilised with 'Caucasian cape coloured' donor sperm instead of the 'white Caucasian sperm which they had requested.

The Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust has admitted liability for the Welsh case and the couple have been paid an undisclosed sum of money. It said changes have been made in a bid to prevent such a mistake happening again.

Ian Lane, the Trust's Medical Director, said: "We apologise unreservedly for this mistake. This was a rare but extremely upsetting incident for everyone involved and we take full responsibility for the distress caused to both couples and their families. We have made a number of improvements to our systems and checks, in line with the recommendations made in the reports. We have strengthened our protocols and reduced our workload to relieve pressure on staffing levels."

The Government's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said that it was a serious error. A spokeswoman said that because the IVF process involves microscopic materials it was impossible to eliminate all human error and clinics were encouraged to report any incidents.

She said IVF Wales reported the incident to them in December 2007 and an inspection was immediately carried out. "A report of that was then considered by a licence committee of the authority and they found that the clinic was taking the incident very seriously and had already made progress in following up the recommendations," the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said IVF treatment was carried out 50,000 times a year in the UK and incidents or "near misses" arose in less that 0.5 per cent of those treatments. Around 12,000 IVF babies are now born in the UK every year, according to figures from the HFEA.

Saturday 13 June 2009

Giant Saint - Giant Picture

Today is the Feast of St Anthony of Padua. He helps you find stuff. Try it it works! He helped me find my gardening job today - literally - I didn't have a map. All I knew was it was, 'somewhere near the race course.' Said a prayer to St Anthony and there it was at the next turning. Job's a good 'un! Now I am off down the pub to blow my earnings in a way in which St Anthony would not be pleased. Thank God for the merits of the Saints I say...

Friday 12 June 2009

Brightonian Born at 24 Weeks

This is one of two or three stories in The Argus I read with interest today. The other was the Guerilla Gardeners story and I read a horrifying piece about a homeless man whose was set alight while in his sleeping bag in New Road, in the town centre. Such things are not as rare as you would think, especially in Brighton. I believe some people consider it some kind of a sick blood-sport.

I read this story in The Argus today, however, which took my eye because of the fact that this little chap was born at 24 weeks. It is amazing the lengths that the medical profession will go to as long as a baby is considered 'wanted' or viable. At 24 weeks, the Government says that a baby is viable outside of the womb therefore that is the upper limit. Yet it is so arbitrary, really - there is no concrete reason other than 'viability' for why some unborn children should be given the assurance of medical care and protection and some could be aborted. I mean, at 23 weeks abortion is legal...but hang on...what if you waited another week? What then?

Story courtesy of The Argus

When he was born at 24 weeks, Stirling Wakeling weighed just over 1lb and his family feared he wouldn’t make it. In the first few months of his life he underwent open heart surgery and had to be resuscitated several times. In his short life he has also had to deal with chronic lung disease.

But now, four years on, the youngster is full of beans and constantly on the go at the family home in Hove. Stirling is now looking forward to starting school in September. And unlike many children in Hove he got into first choice, Goldstone Primary in Laburnum Avenue.

Proud mother Lucy Young, 34, said: “He is a little miracle and a real fighter. He has overcome every single hurdle. “He still needs help with asthma and was slow in his development at first. He took a while to learn how to talk but is now doing really well and going from strength to strength.

“He is almost on a level playing field with any other child his age. He has all his faculties and loves animals, riding his bike, cars and swimming. He is very active. There were many times when I thought he wouldn't make it and it was very difficult. I used to hold him when he was very small and he would stop breathing and needed to be resuscitated. It was hard but when you have children your love for them keeps you going. You just have to get on with it.”

Stirling has come a long way since needing extra oxygen to get him through the night. Doctors were even concerned he might have cerebral palsy, suffer brain damage and not be able to walk. Stirling spent the first four months of his life at the Trevor Mann baby unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Ms Young and her mother Trinity-Jayne Freedom, 48, from Saltdean, are now setting up a charity called Stirling's Donation, to raise as much money as possible for the unit and are expecting to get a website up and running soon. Ms Young said: “The Trevor Mann was absolutely brilliant and this is our way of saying thank you for everything they have done.”

Tridentine Mass Altar Serving Training

Tomorrow, altar server Extraordinare, Andrew, will be teaching me to serve at Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In preparation I was looking for something on YouTube, but it doesn't seem that there is a training video. Ah, well! Hopefully, I will get the hang of it tomorrow...Aha! Found one! Website looks good. Sancta Missa, it is called.

Eco-Anarchy in the UK

Those green fingered hippies are at it again!

Story from The Argus

Guerilla gardeners have broken back into the community green they created after it was chained off by a security firm. For the past month residents around Lewes Road, Brighton, have been enjoying the recreation space they carefully installed on the derelict site of a demolished Esso petrol station at the corner of Edinburgh Road.

They cleared rubble, laid a circular lawn, brought in benches, flower pots, sculptures and other decorations and planted flowers and shrubs into eyesore concrete blocks. The site had previously been disused for five years but since it was spruced up during a series of "guerilla gardening days" it has been well used by residents. They have taken responsibility for locking it each night and opening it in the morning. Their activities had gone unchecked by the site's owners until Tuesday, when they arrived to discover a security firm had chained up the access gate and installed a warning sign to deter intruders.

Duncan Blinkhorn, a spokesman for the group behind the "Lewes Road Community Garden", yesterday said: "The gardeners were not so easily defeated and immediately set about lifting the gate off its hinges to allow continued access to the site." The group also launched a petition which has been signed by more than 1,500 residents in two days.

It called for support to help keep the garden open and continue the good example of the community working together to beautify the area and create a facility from a derelict site. King Sturge, the London-based property group acting on behalf of the site's owners, yesterday said the relevant member of staff was unavailable so it could not comment on why the gates had been chained or what it intended to do in future.

Gabriel Wulff, one of the garden organisers, said: "The point is we are not doing anything harmful to anyone. We are just providing a space for people to come together. We don't know what they meant by locking the site. We are not squatters, we are just using the site while it is available and will be happy to move it all if it is needed for use again."

Full story here.

Corpus Christi Liturgical Splendour at St Mary Magdalen's

Rev. Dr Alcuin Reid (Deacon: left-wing), Fr Sean Finegan (Celebrant: centre-forward) and Fr Raymond Blake (Subdeacon: centre-back)

What do you call a Solemn Sung Mass with a Choir singing Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, interjected with Gregorian Chant, including a sequence composed by St Thomas Aquinas, adoration and procession of the Blessed Sacrament and three of the countries most revered priests celebrating the Tridentine Mass, with six altar servers in tow?

The answer? Corpus Christi at St Mary Magdalen's, last night. It was a stunner.

Click here for more pictures. Hopefully I will obtain a copy of Rev. Dr Alcuin Reid's homily which was very good indeed. The Altar was so beautifully decorated with flowers and as you can see, the Sacred Vestments looked sublime.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Lazarus Syndrome?

Story courtesy of The Telegraph

A 23-year-old man, Michael Wilkinson, came back to life half an hour after doctors declared him dead in a rare example of a phenomenon known as Lazarus Syndrome.

Mr Wilkinson was pronounced dead by staff at the Royal Preston Hospital on February 1. But 30 minutes after he was given the Last Rites doctors realised that his pulse had returned. He survived for two days before being pronounced dead a second time.

An inquest in the city heard that his return to life was known as Lazarus Syndrome - the spontaneous return of circulation once attempts at resuscitation have failed. The syndrome takes its name from the biblical story of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. There are only 38 recorded cases in the world.

For full story click here...

May he rest in peace.

Judgment and Mercy

Today is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

My friend 'J' just popped over and gave me a pair of trousers he had been given, which didn't fit him. He told me yesterday that the judge yesterday made it explicit to him that he must not 'blow over' in morning tests for alcohol in order to attend his drug rehabilitation group and to get methadone.

He had to explain to the judge, "Your honour, I am trying but it is really hard because I am an alcoholic and so often 'blow over' in tests in the morning because I have had too much the night before." He has been very concerned that in failing the alcohol test that he would blow over so many times that he would get sent back to jail because the group do not allow you to join if you have alcohol in your system.

This seems rather unfair, given that so many of the people on this programme require treatment for drug addiction...yet so little leniency is shown to people who suffer the dual addiction of drug and alcohol depenency. He must now record a 0% test for alcohol 4 times in a week in order to be accepted on the Drug Rehabilitation Initiative (DRI). Yet, for him this is a great struggle. If he does not do this he will be sent into rehab proper. This may sound like a good thing, but at the same time, he feels as if he is on probation for alcohol addiction, rather than for drug addiction. He feels like he is being told, 'Achieve this, or else,' which is hard, given that he is not really given very much other support in order to overcome alcoholism.

He feels like he is walking a tightrope. He feels like the system is designed for him to fail and he is sick of failure. Of course, if he fails the DRI completely, or doesn't turn up, the threat of jail is lurking somewhere there for him. I find this method of 'rehabilitation' to be a little cold, harsh and judgmental. I am no expert in the field, but it seems to me very unChristian.

It is in stark contrast to the way in which God works with us. By a constant humbling of His own self - by an outstretched hand of Grace, the Blessed Trinity draws us deeper into His Divine Life. By His consoling, uncontrolling hand of Grace, Christ heals wounds and afflictions of the soul. Not through force, no. Not by threat of punishment. He does not hold His hand over us, in a threatening way. He does not punish our weakness. Instead, through the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church, He restores souls to God, to purity and wholeness. He is Strong, but Meek, even though He is the Lord of the weak and the strong.

He blesses us even when we are in sin, then He forgives us when we acknowledge our faults. In this He shows us His perfect love. Almighty, yet tender. What great and awesome responsibility then lays on the shoulders of judges, that they must reflect not only His Justice, but His mercy and His love also!

Wednesday 10 June 2009

War is in Their Hearts...

"Yes, yes, pour it away! It's a bye-law...No alcohol!"

New York City Deputy Police Commissioner watches as Prohibition agents pour illegal liquor into a sewer in 1921.

On the seafront today I happened upon a man I know who was begging outside a Brighton hotel. As I approached from afar it was clear the hotel security were talking with him. As I got closer I noticed an unmarked, black car pull up and two fully uniformed policemen get out and walk over to him. The policemen and I arrived on the scene at the exact same time. It was odd timing. He had a beer in his hand and was begging. He was not causing a 'scene', just sat on the ground.

What next took place was not a surprise really, because all of the homeless and hostel chaps who beg near anywhere in Brighton come in for close attention from the police and the not-actual-police police, otherwise known as CSPOs. Obviously they were going to pour away his drink and ask him to move on.

The policeman who poured his drink away, I found particularly Goliath-like. He was tall, handsome, clean cut and strong, bolstered by his protective gear. I suppose he sees himself as some kind of 'Batman' figure. He looked like someone who would make a good 'protector' in the community. Unfortunately, he was far from it. The look of sheer contempt for the beggar on his face was cutting and severe. The beggar made no noise which would contradict what the policeman was asking, namely to move and was saying, "Just give me a minute." The policeman snatched his can of beer from his hand and poured some away on the floor before rather violently shaking the remains of the can near him, as if, in some way he was dealing with the worst criminal in the World. I was stunned not by his action but by his arrogance.

I understand the bye-law - I don't necessarily agree with it - but I understand that police and CSPOs do the job because the Council are worried about the appearance of Brighton and that is what they are employed to do. What I found disgraceful was the disregard the Officer had for just the mere fact that they beggar had bought that beer out of his pocket. Granted, he may have begged to get it, but it belonged to him. The beggar was still on the floor. The policeman towered over him like Goliath did David. The beggar was meek and the policemen walked away angrily and with great arrogance.

As I say I know the beggar, so I gave him a lift back to London Road. There are some good police and CSPOs, who, on arriving on a scene where public street-drinking is taking place give the 'offender' some time to drink up. Others are more genial but ask politely for the can and say, 'I'm sorry but I am going to have to remove that from you because it is the bye law.' But this policeman was different...I was reminded of the words of King David in the Psalm.

'The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.'

War is in their hearts, some of the police. Not compassion, not a desire to protect or defend human dignity, not even a just response to a public 'offence' measured with a desire not to offend the hotel owner. It just appeared as an act of violence or an act of war against a helpless and defenseless victim. My reaction...Well, these were real policemen, rather than CSPOs so I myself was intimidated by the officer. I wanted to say, 'This really is not on,' but out of cowardice did not. He appeared to be the type who would be quick to arrest facing challenge and I do not trust myself in that situation to remain calm. The man and I slagged off the officers for their loathsome injustice in the car on the way back instead.

It is, of course, instructive of a society that punishes the weak and elevates the proud and strong, the mighty and those in authority. It is the spirit of pride that motivates the policeman who is so blind to his own sin, his own weakness, that he wants to inflict humiliation and shame upon the poor man, who displays publicly some weakness. As Catholics we understand that this desire is a part of our fallen human nature - but it must be condemned always because it is a grave evil and injustice when perpetrated against the Poor, in whom Christ dwells in a special way.

Our Lord did not punish human weakness, nor those who offended polite society with public vices. Instead He, 'ate and drank with sinners'. He loved all sinners, indeed loved us sinners all unto death. It was this that offended the religious people of His time. It was with the poor, the despised and the abandoned that His message of forgiveness and mercy fell upon fertile soil. His message was, so often, lost on the powerful and strong and those who thought themselves virtuous. He said, 'It is not the healthy who need the physician, but the sick, and I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'.

Without doubt, this is going on in every town in the land and I am sure many police see themselves as doing society a favour and perhaps polite society agrees. But even if nearly all society agreed, it would not make it any less shameful to abuse a poor man of Christ. Because after all, when it comes to David and Goliath, we all know who won that contest...

...in the end!

Great Catholic Quotes

A commenter has kindly informed me of this rather good Catholic Quote website called, err...'Quote Catholic'. Nice resource for Catholics. Thanks for that.

"Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt."

St. Francis of Assisi

"He who is the beginning and the end, the ruler of the angels, made Himself obedient to human creatures. The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant."

St. Anthony

"We were looking for a ‘good shepherd,’ and instead we got a German shepherd."

Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Chickens in Uproar Over Griffin Egg Scandal

BNP leader Nick Griffin:BNP leader Nick Griffin pelted with eggs by protestors

Chickens are said to be outraged by the egg attack on Nick Griffin, Leader of the British National Party.

One chicken, Mrs I. Peck Byrdfeed of West Grinstead said, "As a member of the chicken community I am appalled that what could potentially have been one of my eggs has been associated with the BNP. I am shocked and appalled. I mean, things are bad enough for us chickens as it is. Already we have our eggs nicked off us by farmers on a daily basis. Some of my mates live in the most appalling conditions already in battery pens where you couldn't swing a mouse, let alone a cat. So, we don't welcome news that those eggs are now being so inextricably linked to the leader of a neo-fascist brigade of Union Jack waving thugs."

Nick Griffin, who was the victim of the egg hurling incident outside Westminster, where he had been situated as part of an elaborate publicity stunt, said, "I was splattered. It's a very sad day for British democracy. It seems the ruling political parties who want this to carry on have lost sight of what democracy really is."

The National Society for the Rights of Chickens released a statement, "We do not wish to be associated with an extreme right-wing party who, upon election would doubtless launch a 'voluntary resettlement' programme on some of our most vulnerable feathered friends, who have migrated to this country, not for economic reasons, but because it is in their nature to do so. Also, it has to be remembered that they may face cold weather and possibly torture should they return at this season. The rights of chickens, fowl, game and all birds must be protected from enemies of democracy and freedom such as Nick Griffin and his ilk."

Another chicken from Aylesford, a member of one of a large contingent of ethnic minority chickens, spoke of his distress of this unsavoury incident and offered his thoughts on the current standing of the BNP in British politics, "I don't know. You have to ask the question, what came first? The renewed interest in the BNP or the social unrest caused by years of Labour abandoning its core voters in chasing the C1/C2 demographic, speaking up for everyone but their actual traditional support base who now live in even more poverty than they did before. I don't know...it's a chicken and egg situation, I guess."

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...