Tuesday, 28 December 2010

National Secular Society: They Want No 'Catholic TV'

Damian Thompson
Damian Thompson writes for the Daily Telegraph. I enjoy most of his blog entries (I'd say all, but I don't read it as often as I should and there may be one somewhere I may disagree with).

I find his writing witty, not po-faced in the slightest and he gets to the nub of the matter.

A post of his a few days ago, dealt with a matter that I had been thinking of over Christmas.

As you will remember, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, gave the Thought for the Day on Radio 4 on Christmas Eve. As predictable as night following the day, the National Secular Society (NSS) complained at the BBC promoting the Pope and the Catholic religion.


Usually the BBC's programmes promote the secular society, or homosexuality, or multi-faith/culturalism, or evolutionary theories dressed up as unassailable facts -- in fact almost anything but Catholicism.

The normal religious output of the BBC is the fuzzy, soppy 'Songs of Praise' which is usually so ecumenical as to be watered down, semi-secular "niceness" which turns people away from Catholicism.

On the other hand, turn the BBC (ITV, Channels 4, 5, Sky etc.) on any day and you will see secular, atheist, agnostic, pagan, homosexual, smutty, pornographic, blasphemous and other "entertainment."

We have a veritable storm of secular programming washing over us all, with "normal" programmes (magazine programmes, the soaps, radio music programmes, news output etc.) usually promoting a secular/atheist/pro-homosexual/pro-abortion agenda which many Catholics (and others) find offensive.

An independent poll recently gave the homosexual population at circa 1% (even after many years of promotion, government funding etc.) whereas the Catholic population stands at circa 5 or 6% as I understand it.

Can anyone reasonably suggest that Catholicism is promoted 5 or 6 times more than homosexuality in the media?

Now I don't believe in relativism or majoritarianism, so even if there were 1% of Catholics and 40% of homosexuals, the Faith would always be right. But the BBC claim to be "democratic" and so, by their own criteria, the TV and radio should have far more Catholicism than it does!

Yet whilst the NSS chokes on its muesli at the thought of the leader of the world's largest religion (and more importantly the only founded by the Son of God, Jesus Christ, but they don't care for those kind of facts) getting a few minutes early in the morning we hear nothing from them about these two choice little numbers put out (multiple times at peak-viewing hours) this Christmas:
  • Louis Spence's Christmas Message, full of homosexual double-entendres and outright entendres.
  • QI Christmas Special - Witchcraft Special with spinning Satanic pentagram symbols.
I dare say there were lots more too (do bear in mind I don't watch as much TV as the average chap), not least Hollywood's output (repeated on TV) which tends to be full of blasphemous language and much worse.

In short, by screeching their disgust and banging their little fists in a tantrum over a few minutes given to His Holiness the Pope, the NSS expose how little airtime genuine Catholicism actually gets.

Just as when they gathered their atheist forces in London to oppose the Pope, they were drowned out by a sea of pilgrims flocking to see the Holy Father and showing that they were willing to publicly defend their Catholic Faith.

The NSS: you have to feel a little sorry for them. Poor little loves. They just can't help themselves.

Damian Thompson on the NSS

Monday, 27 December 2010

What is St Wenceslas's Favourite Food?

Equestrian State of St Wenceslas
After my comment on my last post (responding to a comment), comprising of a terribly awful Catholic joke, it reminded me of another which, although a day late (the Feast of St Stephan being yesterday), is worth the telling.

Who knows, we may between us get enough cheesy, corny Catholic jokes to bring out our own range of Catholic crackers next year.

Think of the possibilities - crowns of Catholic monarchs (bags me the Crown of Charlemagne!), a Catholic treat (bags me a St Dominic medal) and a cheesy Catholic joke, so here's my effort:

Q: What is King St Wenceslas's favourite food?
A: Pizza. Deep pan, crisp and even!

Great Present for Catholics

A perfect present for all Catholics - great for a child's bedroom (as in our case) or for a professional's office (we don't have any professionals in our house - only very good amateurs!).

This is a globe of Rome and includes many sites of antiquity and many sites of great interest to Catholics, including - of course! - many from Vatican City - and other famous Catholic Churches from around the Eternal City.

Some examples:
  • Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Piazza San Pietro
  • Cappella Sistena
  • Porta Santo Spirito
  • San Pietro in Vincoli
  • Santa Maria in Cosmedin
  • Santa Maria in Trastevere
  • Santa Cecila in Trastevere
  • Via Di Porta Angelica
  • Santa Bibiana

and many other famous sites including the Colosseum and others.

The globe has people, cafés, priests, nuns, praying pilgrims, tourists, cardinals and even a Swiss guard and the Pope at the window in St Peter's Square!

It really is a wonderful item and also comes with a small booklet explaining all the sites of the Rome globe (especially handy for children - or anyone who knows little of Rome).

Now -- tell me what was the bestest and most Catholic(est!) Christmas pressie in your house: A pair of Bl. Cardinal Newman socks? A Leo XIII tie? A St Peter space-hopper? A Hilaire Belloc wine rack?

Friday, 24 December 2010

Nadolig Llawen

Santa eventually gets bail from the Greenland gendarmerie

Only to fall foul of Ryanair's excess baggage rules
Merry Christmas!
Nadolig Llawen!

The Pope's Thought for the Day on Radio 4

Recalling with great fondness my four-day visit to the United Kingdom last September, I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you once again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ. Our thoughts turn back to a moment in history when God's chosen people, the children of Israel, were living in intense expectation. They were waiting for the Messiah that God had promised to send, and they pictured him as a great leader who would rescue them from foreign domination and restore their freedom.
“God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them.”
God is always faithful to his promises, but he often surprises us in the way he fulfils them. The child that was born in Bethlehem did indeed bring liberation, but not only for the people of that time and place - he was to be the Saviour of all people throughout the world and throughout history. And it was not a political liberation that he brought, achieved through military means: rather, Christ destroyed death for ever and restored life by means of his shameful death on the Cross. And while he was born in poverty and obscurity, far from the centres of earthly power, he was none other than the Son of God. Out of love for us he took upon himself our human condition, our fragility, our vulnerability, and he opened up for us the path that leads to the fullness of life, to a share in the life of God himself. As we ponder this great mystery in our hearts this Christmas, let us give thanks to God for his goodness to us, and let us joyfully proclaim to those around us the good news that God offers us freedom from whatever weighs us down: he gives us hope, he brings us life.

Dear Friends from Scotland, England, Wales and indeed every part of the English-speaking world, I want you to know that I keep all of you very much in my prayers during this Holy Season. I pray for your families, for your children, for those who are sick, and for those who are going through any form of hardship at this time. I pray especially for the elderly and for those who are approaching the end of their days. I ask Christ, the light of the nations, to dispel whatever darkness there may be in your lives and to grant to every one of you the grace of a peaceful joyful Christmas. May God bless all of you!

BBC Radio 4 - The Pope's Thought for the Day

Is Our English Catholic Leader letting Down the Troops?

An insult to God and man.
Certainly many Catholics in London feel so.

There has been a furore over the treatment of a Catholic school in London:

A Letter to Archbishop Nichols

Meanwhile the latest issue of Christian Order has a blistering editorial and article on the "Soho Masses" put on for homosexuals (running to some 50 pages all-in).

I don't know all the ins and outs of the Cardinal Vaughan School saga, but I have read quite a bit on the 'Soho Masses' and the fact that a practicing homosexual is a "Eucharistic Minister" (in and of itself a grave sin against Our Lord in the consecrated species in my humble opinion) is shameful in the extreme.

Archbishop Nichols has been informed of many of the scandals around the 'Soho Masses,' and has failed to act other than to call on Catholics not to be judgemental.

These Masses do not seek to reinforce Mother Church's line on homosexuality or call the sad souls mired in this sickness to a life of chastity.

Some of those who organise and attend boast of living active homosexual lives, and even of being "married" to their homosexual "partners."

Christian Order (CO) goes so far as to say that the Church in England & Wales is acting in opposition to the guidance on these matters given by the Vatican (certainly the Holy Father was crystal clear on relativism, atheism and immorality on his recent visit to Britain).

The journal asks why is it that the 'Extraordinary Form' of the Mass is not yet freely available to those who want it, against Vatican rules, whilst Masses that promote homosexuality as a 'valid choice' for Catholics are allowed?

If you get the chance, do read the November issue of CO, it makes for disturbing reading!

Am I alone in finding the following deeply disturbing. It includes nothing about homosexuals being celibate and gives the impression that active homosexuals are welcome to receive Communion (they are not according to Church rules!). The interviews herein smack of the double-speak and lack of clear Catholic leadership that CO says is an outrage against God and His Church:

Soho Masses

And here is a site that gives bidding prayers for "Civil Partnerships" at an official Soho Masses site:

Civil Partnerships

Note the images of icons of women and male Saints embracing.

Where are our Catholic leaders to condemn homosexuality and to help the homosexuals out of the horrid world of sin and hatred they dwell in?

All they have to do is obey and follow the Holy Father! Surely for Catholic Archbishops, Bishops, priests and laity, following the Pope can't be that difficult?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

BBC's Nativity: An Ignorant View of History for Simpletons

The BBC's Nativity reduced this to a natter in the garden
After being prompted to do so by various comment-leavers after yesterday's post on the BBC's Nativity programme, I watched Part 2 tonight.

I remain opposed to it.

  • Mary thinks she had a dream with some sort of man in it.
  • Gabriel looked like Dave down the pub.
  • The 'Ave Maria' was changed beyond recognition.
  • The Magnificat, that beautiful canticle, was ignored.

In short a sublime, moving history of Our Lady and the birth of Our Lord is being turned into a "maybe" event, open to interpretation.

It is another shoddy attempt to con the naive that lip service is being given to Catholic/Christian history, whilst giving the generation that thinks Hitler was a German world-cup squad goalkeeper more muddled half-facts to increase their ignorance:

Yeah mate, Mary 'ad a dream fing, and this bloke from the pub said 'wotcha Mary, you've played a blinder and god is well chuffed' and then she had a baby and all that, and some people said it was a Messiar (which I fink is like a make of car or sumfink), but some other people said it was porky-pies an that, innit. Anyway,that Hitler bloke he wuz the goalkeeper for Germany an that, innit.
Suggesting this BBC programme enhances Catholicism is akin to rejoicing that Songs of Praise adds to the liturgy of Mother Church.

The dumbing down of our Faith, and Christianity in general, has delivered us empty pews and whole families that are Catholic in name only.

So, after watching the second episode (free, as yet, from the vile smears against Our Lady) I stand by my initial treatise against the series.

Can we PLEASE Have a Fully Catholic Press?

George Bernard Shaw, Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton
I saw this article on the wonderfully devotional and dare I say chaotic (kitchen renovation ongoing) blog Lead Kindly Light (see link below).

I must confess to not reading the Catholic press, partly because much of it depresses me. The Tablet seems to be following an anti-Catholic line on matters of morality, opposed to the teaching of the Popes. Many moons ago I used to get The Universe, but only found the historical material 'floated my boat' (and their spin-off historical mags have been wonderful).

I think I am wishing for a Catholic press of yesteryear, one that was Traditional and Faithful to the teaching of the Church down the ages, whilst fighting for the poor and needy (in the footsteps of Popes like Leo XIII and Pius X).

I yearn for a GK Chesterton or Hilaire Belloc to lead the Catholic press back to tradition, to a crusading zeal, to a hearty humour, to a fearlessness in defending the Truth.

Is it a by-product of Vatican 2 that the Catholic press is always walking on egg-shells, wants to defend multi-faith initiatives and ecumenism?

Please let us have our Catholic press back! Please let us have Catholic writers not afraid to tell the Truth. Our Lord said 'the Truth will set you free,' only I feel I have had to read lies, half-truths and the output of mumblers and those so eager to apologise for being Catholics for most of my life.

When Pope Benedict visited the UK this year we felt a brief respite; though the Tablet lined up on the BBC to attack him for being too... erm... Catholic! This shows that with strong leadership, unapologetic for being Catholic, the Faithful will rise to defend their Faith, so long maligned and (to be frank) undefended.

Why must we always look back to GK Chesterton for inspiration? Where is today's GKC? Where is today's Catholic press?

GKC - Saint of the Blogosphere

Monday, 20 December 2010

BBC's Nativity: Modern Spin we Don't Need

The beauty of this scene would thrill a film audience and stir their souls.
One of my favourite Catholic bloggers is Linen on the Hedgerow (a great fighter for Catholic orthodoxy), and this (see link below) is one of the articles I've read on the BBC's 'Nativity'.

Now I know many a liberal will bemoan the fact that I won't watch it, whilst I will condemn it -- but I don't need to see a dog in the act of fouling the pavement down my street to understand how wrong it is when the children walk to school.

The obscenity that Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was in some way raped, or a prostitute has been repeated ever since the days of the sadducees and pharisees and those who claimed (be they the Jewish authorities, gnostics, or other evil men) this have repeated the same old lie in the mistaken belief that their repetition of the lie will make it more acceptable.

Should we be shocked at the BBC's role in defaming the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer of the World during Advent, as we approach the Feast of Christmas?

Yes - we should be shocked (but not surprised) and I think that all Catholics (and men of good will) should take this up with the BBC.

This is not an upset. This is not an offence. It is an absolute outrage that strikes at the very heart of our Faith, and at the very root of Christian history, and the central message of Christmas: that Our Lord was born of the Virgin Mary to save mankind.

That men with blackened hearts cannot accept this and so have to invent horrendous stories about the Blessed Virgin Mary reflects badly on them. There is not, has never been, and can never be, a single blemish on the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

We are reminded of this when we read that beautiful verse that is the Magnificat:
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generations,
to them that fear him.
He hath shewed might in his arm:
he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant,
being mindful of his mercy:
As he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Luke 1:46-55

As Richard at Linen on the Hedgerow says, why must we have these "contemporary" versions and stories, when the Gospel is written so beautifully?

Might we hope, one day, for a faithful, beautiful, moving and stirring Catholic telling of the nativity - perhaps on a par with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ? That film won over so many souls to Christ; even I knew agnostics and atheists who opened their hearts to Catholicism as a result of that film. Not all converted, but some did and others at least softened their stance re. the Church and Christ.

With all the influence, intelligence and (dare I say?) money that the Church and we millions of Catholics have between us (we could put in £5 each!) we could make a film that could win countless more souls for Christ and His Church...

Apologies for rambling on. But for every evil and smear the BBC can put out, if we Catholics even answered one in ten, it would have a great impact.

Years ago the Church won hearts, minds and souls with the beauty of its liturgy, buildings, altars, statues and the way all was bound seamlessly together (lessons I believe we have forgotten or neglected after Vatican 2 - to the detriment of both Catholics and mankind in general).

Just imagine if we remembered how to win hearts and minds again? A crusade to win souls for Christ using the tools that the enemies of the Church in the BBC and Hollywood have used to besmirch Christ and His Church, and to blacken more souls with the filth and blasphemy they spew forth.

We all saw how, when Pope Benedict visited our shores (I know he didn't visit Wales, but perhaps it would have been too emotional for him ;-) ) Catholics and men of good will rallied to the Papal banner to proclaim the Christian roots of these islands and to make a stand, to show that people of goodwill still exist, that beauty still has a place in a world we all too often think are full of drugs, violence, obscenity and evil.

The BBC (and others) hinted that the visit would be a failure, that people in Britain were living in a 'post-Christian multi-cultural' land in which homosexual rights now counted for more than Catholic artifacts, or where atheists' writings were devoured more readily than the turgid output of a maligned and shamed priesthood.

They were wrong.

And they can be proved wrong again.

That is my sincere hope and prayer today in the face of a moribund and moth-eaten output by the BBC, for these lies that they tell are old lies.

Meanwhile let us all pray to Our Lord and Our Lady that the calumnies of the media-men might be forgiven, in the words of Our Lord crucified: forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Linen on the Hedgerow

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

European Christmas Traditions From St Nicholas' Day to Epiphany

This is an interesting page on the BBC Web-site, detailing Christmas traditions across Europe.

To be honest I have long thought the tradition of the Spanish in giving gifts on the 6th of January - the day the Three Kings gave the gifts to the Infant Christ - has more relevance to the Christian Nativity story, and would allow us to celebrate the spiritual nature of Christmas, then the gift-giving of Epiphany (in turn 'rounding off' the 12 days of Christmas).

I think I read previously that in the Czech Republic that the main Christmas meal is fish... which to my sensibilities just seems wrong, but then I'm no fan of Turkey either, preferring beef, chicken, lamb or pork (or a mixture of a few of them given the choice!).

From ChurchYear.Net:
Officially called "The Epiphany of the Lord," this feast celebrates the epiphany (manifestation) of Christ to the Gentiles, symbolized by Christ's manifestation to the Magi (Wise Men). The feast originally was more closely connected to Jesus' baptism, the primary theme of the feast in Eastern Churches to this day. In addition, other manifestations of Christ were often commemorated during Epiphany, including the miracle at Cana. In fact, it has been asserted that the Baptism of the Lord, the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Magi, and the miracle at Cana all historically occurred on January 6 (see Abbot Gueranger's works). Whether this is true is contested, but either way, the Epiphany solemnity is celebrated on January 6, which falls within Christmastide. In some Catholic regions, the feast is translated to a Sunday. The Eastern Churches often call the holiday Theophany, which means "manifestation of God." Eastern Christians also refer to the Epiphany as "Holy Lights" because they baptize on this day, and baptism brings about illumination. Traditionally, Epiphany marked the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
And as this is a Welsh site I've put a link to some Welsh Traditions too.

BBC Languages - Christmas
Welsh Christmas Traditions

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Llandysul - the Site of St. Tysul's 6th Century Church

St Tysul's Church
Today we travelled to Llandysul beyond the hinterland of Carmarthenshire, just across the border (yes, we took our passports) into Ceredigion, to look at a second-hand Rayburn cooker.

Driving into the (twin?) villages of Llandysul and Pont Tyweli, all we could say was wow. The Christmas lights were delightful, especially down Llandysul's high street, and dotted throughout the village were large painted boards of Christmas scenes (carol singers, an Angel blowing a trumpet etc.).

It really made Llandysul feel really 'Christmassy' and the charming local shops looked warm and welcoming.

So it was as we circled around the town searching out our destination (being Luddites we don't use satnav) we saw a bit of the town and I couldn't help but be drawn by the beautiful and clearly Medieval Church. I'm always pleased to see such lovely Churches, which would have drawn all the local populace for countless Liturgical events, whilst being sad that the Sacraments are no longer practiced there, that Our Lord is no longer present.

According to the history of  Llandysul and Pont Tyweli site (see link below) St Tysul was a member of a very distinguished Holy Welsh family:

The fine old church is the oldest building in Llandysul dating from the 13th century, but standing on an ancient foundation named after St. Tysul who founded it in the 6th century. St. Tysul was the son of Corun, the son of Ceredig, who gave his name to the kingdom, now the county, of Ceredigion.

Ceredig had another son, Sant, who was the father of our Patron Saint, St. David. Thus Tysul and St. David were first cousins.

After seeking and finding our prey, we decamped to the High Street to enjoy a coffee and Welsh cake (each!) in an Italian coffee bar (stocking up on wafer thin sliced salami whilst there), before setting off for home.
Ogham script

According to the same site, there is evidence that Irish Catholics lived in the area:

In the Choir Vestry are a collection of early Christian inscribed stones, amongst which is the Velvor Stone commemorating Velvoria, daughter of Brohomaglus. This stone has a bilingual inscription, in Latin and Ogham - the ancient Irish language, and this gives evidence of the Irish population settled here at the time.
There is much else of interest on the web-site, including links to Owain Glyndwr and his family, the English Civil War resulting in the bridge between Llandysul and Pont Tyweli being partially demolished.

Indeed, given that Owain Glyndwr owned lands in the area, it is no stretch of imagination to envisage the Welsh warlord and his family and followers attending Mass, going to Confession and much more at St Tysul's Church when it (as it stands today) would have been only over 100 years old, and thoroughly Catholic!

History of Llandysul and Pont Tyweli
Wikipedia on Llandysul 
Fantastic S4C (Welsh Channel 4) Slide Show on Llandysul (in English)
Llandysul and Plogonnec in Brittany

P.S. Those of you who weren't paying attention, see my last post, Llandysul literally means the Church of St Tysul (Llan: Church of. Dysul: St Tysul).

Wales: The Land of Mary & Catholic Churches

If you travel through Wales (you lucky sausage!) you will soon discover a preponderance of places called "Llan...", i.e. with the prefix Llan.

Llanfair-ar-y-bryn Church
The vast majority (there are a tiny number of exceptions) of these mean 'The Church.' As most of these place names go back into the mists of time and commemorate Saints from the Age of Saints (circa 5th Century) again the vast majority of these Churches were established to celebrate the Sacraments, and let the Welsh people receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord to be received in Communion.

Furthermore, amongst the myriad of places in the land that gave these Isles its tradition of monasticism (embraced by the Irish under the Welshman, St Patrick and carried from there to the non-Welsh parts of Scotland and Northern England)), you will see many that begin "Llanfair..."

The prefix Llanfair means the place, the village, the Church there was dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Welsh, the descendants of the original Britons who embraced the Catholic Faith as Romano-Britons, were dedicated to the Virgin Mary, just as the English Saxons and the Norman-English would be in later years.

Following the Reformation sadly after many years the Welsh (with few brave exceptions) lost their ancient Faith, and with the protestant Bible published in Welsh and Welsh nonconformist chapels opened, to save their language and keep their communities alive, most Welshmen became nonconformist (no doubt their love of Biblical and Welsh hymns playing a part).

Yet our Welsh Catholic past is all around us, in the names of the Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary in the very towns and villages throughout Wales, North, East, South and West.

Please pray for the conversion of the Welsh to their Catholic Faith.

BBC Site on Llan Names in Wales

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Rejoice! Gaudete Sunday: The Birth of Christ is Near

This coming Sunday is Gaudete Sunday. A genuine time to "rejoice" at the coming birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As Catholics we should always rejoice, mindful that our God-made-man lived among us, was born into relative poverty and obscurity, to deliver us from the grip of sin and open the gates of Heaven to us all, if we make our lives worthy of that reward.

I loved this song/carol when I first heard the Steeleye Span version (a great band - get their best-of CD for some wonderful English folk music). The words are particularly moving (see bottom clip for English translation) and encapsulate all that Catholics have held dear about Christmas for 2000 years.

Funnily enough I came across a protestant site all about Carols (sorry I don't recall its name) and it said that Catholics frowned upon Carols, keeping them outside the Church, so that they only became popular in later years.

What rot! As this moving Christmas Carol testifies. It is true that the Mass was virtually unchanged throughout the Medieval period - codified in the Council of Trent to stay absolutely unchanged until the New Mass post Vatican 2; but the idea that Catholics did not celebrate Christmas ignores the fact that the Mass was the central part of spiritual life for Catholics, but there was much else celebrated too, especially on Feast/Holy Days and especially at Easter and Christmas.

Such airbrushing of history to make Catholics seem like cheerless automatons is typical of such sites - ignoring the fact that it was the protestants themselves who ripped apart our beloved Liturgical year, banning Christmas, banning Holy Days, stopping pilgrimage, and so much more to overturn the Catholic Traditions which were the very lifeblood of Europe.

As Belloc said, Europe is the Faith, the Faith is Europe - so in celebrating Advent, Gaudete Sunday and Christmas itself we in Wales, and our fellow Catholics in England, Ireland and Scotland are remaining very much part of a European and Catholic Tradition that centuries of penal laws and enforced protestantism has not been able to destroy.

So this Sunday go to Mass, pray the Rosary and raise a glass! Let us celebrate our Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith and the coming birth of the Saviour of the World, Jesus Christ.

The following has terrible sound quality but is handy for its English translation of the Latin:

Catholic Encyclopedia on Gaudete Sunday

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Romano-Celtic Britain and the Coming of the Saxons

I found this interesting article on the internet which deals with the decline of Roman Britain, the encroachment of the Picts, Scots and Saxons on "Welsh" lands from Strathclyde to Kent.

Right: Britain circa 600AD. See how the 'Welsh' (Britons) Stretch from Cornwall, through modern Wales, Lancashire, Cumbria to Southern Scotland.

It's interesting that the writer of the piece shows how a Saxon cleric says that the sins of the English led to the scourge of the Danes on their lands, just as the sins of the Britons/Welsh led to the scourge of the Saxons; in effect that the failings of the Catholic inhabitants of these isles delivered them to the assaults of vicious pagans.

Students of our Welsh and Catholic past will find this article of great interest:

Roman Britain and the Saxon Advent

Those pesky wandering shepherds!

On coming downstairs this morning to make tea and toast I discovered the shepherds had "done a runner" from our newest nativity scene in the living room.

Were they indeed, as we used to sing during Advent morning assemblies in Marlborough Road Junior School, back in the mists of time when everything was in sepia, washing their socks by night?

I let the cat in (as a rescue cat she seems to meow more than the average moggie) and she walked into the living room, looked in disgust (OK, I'm embellishing the tale, but bear with me kind soul) and turned tail (literally) and padded out of the room.

What could cause such feline consternation? What had garnered such disturbance in the heart of the home?

Further investigation was required (mindful of the role of GKC's Fr Brown and the Tridentine-defending Agatha Christie in crime-solving) as to the nocturnal sojourn of the shepherds and the cat's cattiness.

Looking smug - the runaway shepherds
I donned my deer-stalker and grabbed my spy-glass, kept for just such occasions, and made my way to the cat's cushion where she normally sits and there, with pleased looks on their faces, were the errant three shepherds.

Was this going to be a daily affair? Would the wise men be next? Where would the animals opt for? Might the Holy Family set off early for Egypt?

Furthermore should I call in the media? How would the world react to our wandering Nativity scene players?

Or should I just have a word with our youngest who tends to get up very early, potter around getting toys, and then heads back to bed?

Which is the more credible explanation?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

A Dominican Fighting for the Common Good

"Nobody who ever met or saw or heard Father McNabb has ever forgotten him."  G.K. Chesterton.

A book I read quite recently and which I highly recommend is The Church and the Land by the Irish Dominican priest Fr Vincent McNabb.

Living at the time of Cardinal Newman, Pope Leo XIII and GK Chesterton, he witnessed a world in which conversion to the Church was common, and promotion of the Church's social teaching was winning hearts and minds.

I think it's fair to say that the Catholic Church in England - of which this Irish Dominican was a part - was very much in the ascendancy in his lifetime, very much a part of the universal church yet in parts quintessentially English (as embodied by GKC).

In his book McNabb promotes the Common Good of the people, and tackles issues from agriculture to the notion of work and employment. One of his essays refers to a conference in Cardiff too! It doesn't take much to excite me... ;-)

The Church and the Land by Fr McNabb
Wikipedia on Fr McNabb
Fr McNabb (inc painting on this page).
Fr McNabb on CatholicAuthors.com

Friday, 3 December 2010

Look Whose On Our Tree: It's a Rotund GKC

There are so many lovely things about Christmas, Advent and the growing anticipation of the Feast Day we are all waiting for on the 25th of December!

Having children, the appearance of decorations usually begins on the 1st of December: the start of the month being a green light to all the excitement. This year some decorations even began appearing slightly earlier whilst I was in hospital (as if a conclave was held and the outcome was "Dad's not here, let's get busy way before time!").

Today I partook in an annual ceremony, now that the halflings have put up a Christmas tree.

Yes, GK Chesterton came out of the drawer where he has been ensconced since January 6th.

Now he is settled in, and this year he has been joined by a great set of Nativity decorations (Holy Family, animals, shepherds and wise men).

Putting GKC on the Christmas tree is a very exciting moment! And, without being disrespectful to one of, if not the, best Catholic writers and apologists, GKC's portly shape lends itself well to being a bauble.

What better way to ensure that Christmas is thoroughly Catholic and full of wit, wisdom and good cheer?

The GKC bauble was bought a few years back from the American Chesterton Society. I don't know if they still sell them.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Advent Approaches: And I Can't Wait!

Probably like you, dear reader, I despise the commercialisation of Christmas which seems to start with gusto as soon as Fireworks Night is out of the way.

And yet, such is my feeling of joy as Christmas approaches, that I can't resist feeling a sense of excitement in the air as we near December.

Personally I don't care much for presents and all that side of it (being officially as tight as a duck's hind-quarters, like my father before me), besides which as I have crossed the Rubicon and am now in my 40s, just how many pairs of socks, underpants, after shave etc. do I need?

No, I am fully caught up in the spiritual side of Christmas and I am nothing if sentimental about the whole thing.

The cold, dark evenings remind me of when, as a child, I would look up at the stars and imagine the infant Jesus in that stable so many miles away, so many years ago also under the star-lit sky. The shepherds, the angels, then the kings from the east and so on.

That to me was and is the essence of Christmas. It is a simple vision of Christmas, one held by a child, yet it has always stayed with me.

I love the simple things about Christmas, the sense of impending happiness and joy, the carols, the liturgy of Advent, the feast of Christmas itself.

I don't want to sound like an ascetic as I love a nice beer and pork pie as much as the next middle aged man (especially when scoffed - with half a carrot - on Christmas Eve with the crumb-laden remnants left as the evidence of Santa and Rudolf's visit), but for me Christmas is all about the joy of the Nativity and that special feeling, that uplifting of the soul, that "magic" of Christmas, well I don't think it will ever leave me.

So, as much as I loathe the commercialism of Christmas to the degree that it is today a spend-fest, I cannot help but begin to be excited at the prospect of Advent and the countdown to Christmas that this heralds.

I think my all time favourite Christmas carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Primarily because it was my favourite as a child and I have vivid memories of trying to reach those high notes in school assembly or standing carol singing on doorsteps in the neighbourhood, but also because it evokes that time when the Hosts of Heaven appeared to those simple workingmen on the hillside of Bethlehem to announce the birth of Our Lord and mankind's Saviour. It also reminds me of the "newborn King" - i.e. that He was and is Christ the King, to Whom all nations and societies should be subject.

So I am sorry (well, not that sorry!) if I offended anyone with my eagerness to embrace Advent and Christmas, but that is who I am.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Fr. Kelly of Dunvant: A Holy Catholic Priest

Fr Kelly of Dunvant Parish
Many thanks to all the parishioners, my local Parish Priest, friends, family and blog-readers who prayed, said the Rosary and had Masses said for the time I was in hospital. There are too many people to name, but you are all in my prayers also and I will be eternally grateful to you all for your invaluable help and support in every way.

Just to know that Masses, Rosaries and prayers were going up from across Wales, Ireland, England and elsewhere meant so much. I know it sounds emotive to any casual blog reader, but when in pain and at your lowest ebb these things can make all the difference and provide the support needed to get you through pain to see the better day that follows.

There is also a special mention to a very special soul who this trying time brought me into contact with: Swansea, Dunvant-based priest Fr. Kelly, who's vocation is to visit the patients of Singleton Hospital.

On my first night in the hospital, circa 10.30pm  I was sitting pondering the operation the next day when a white-haired head popped around the door and called "Goodnight God Bless." I called after the figure and so received Communion that night. Had I not had Confession a few days before I am sure Fr Kelly would have been happy to hear that too.

Indeed this kindly and charitable soul came to me on every day and it meant that almost every day I could receive Holy Communion (one day I could not because despite visiting twice that day, Fr Kelly either found me in too much pain or asleep).

Indeed last Monday when visiting, Fr Kelly bumped into me in the corridor in some considerable pain and still offered to help me, such was his concern.

I really have nothing but praise for this wonderful man of God whose calling enables him to give so much hope, joy and comfort to those in pain, worrying, recovering, alone etc. To see his smiling face, hear him blessing the patients and staff, as they in turn would call "goodnight Father" after the silver haired priest all in black, it is one of most endearing memories of my stay in hospital and always brings a smile to my face.

A fellow patient told me that Fr Kelly had been there for his own mother when she was in the hospital some decades before. She had said to the visiting priest when asked 'are you Catholic?': "I used to be." The priest replied that 'once a Catholic always a Catholic' and sat with her to offer help and so on.

It reminds one of how the Catholic Priesthood can still mean a great deal, can bring so much succour to souls in need, is still (despite media assaults and rare scandals) a truly Holy Calling.

Even now when I get pains or am weary as I recover, the smiling face and truly charitable nature of the kindly Fr Kelly truly lifts my soul. If ever a man was sent by Our Lord and Our Lady to help those who need it I think Fr Kelly is that man.

Our diocese, our country and our Faith is very lucky to have such a priest.

Thank you and God Bless you Fr Kelly of Dunvant Parish. You and your vocation will always be in my prayers.

Diocese History of Fr Kelly on his 60th Anniversary of the Priesthood (Read his fascinating story of being a Seminarian in wartime France, being ordained in post-war Palestine and more).

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Your Prayers Gratefully Received

I hope you will indulge me with a very personal post.

May I thank all the kind friends, family and parishioners who have given me all their best wishes, kept me in the prayers and much more. I take great comfort in all these prayers and Masses being said for my intention.

I am going into hospital tomorrow and hope to be out 7-10 days from then providing there are no complications.

It is quite major surgery but the doctors tell me it is a relatively "easy" one too.

I am sure Our Lord and Our Lady will give me the strength I need. The operation is on the birthday of our beloved departed former Parish Priest, Fr Charles Higham SJ, so I am sure that has a meaning known in heaven.

Please remember me in your prayers in these coming days, and I hope to be posting on this blog again very soon.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Will of God

I believe that the true welfare of man consists in fulfilling the will of God.

Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Bonfire Night - 400 Years of Anti-Catholic State Propaganda

Remember, remember

the fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot. 

I see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot... 


 We Catholics should remember that 'Bonfire Night' is a propaganda piece central to hundreds of years of repression of Catholicism and the Truth.


I believe that the "power of nightmares" scenario spoon fed to people today is a mere shadow of the fear and hatred whipped up by Cecil and the rest of Elizabeth I's entourage, followed up by Cecil Jr and James I.


Remember that Elizabeth was made Queen of England, promising to be a Catholic, only to ask the priest at the Mass afterwards not to elevate the host: thus showing the Catholics of England and Wales which way the wind would blow.


The majority - no, the vast majority, of her subjects were Catholic, yet she chose to split the country apart and separate us from most of Europe to follow her absurd Protestant hatreds. 


After years of martyrdom, penalty and penury the Catholics of England and Wales hoped for better times under James I (the son of Mary, Queen of Scots the Catholic victim of Elizabeth's regicide which shocked all of Europe), only to have their hopes dashed.


Despite all her efforts and all the blood and terror, Elizabeth had not broken the Catholics, many of whom continued to bravely and secretly follow their Faith.


Many people now believe that that the whole 'Catholic Conspiracy' was egged on by Robert Cecil, the 1st Earl of Salisbury and James I's spymaster, the son of the accursed William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley, Elizabeth I's spymaster. 


Certainly the Gunpowder Plot gave Cecil and his ilk everything they needed to paint all Catholics as traitors, terrorists and worse.


Little matter that many had been painted into a corner by the policy of the Cecils and their heretic paymasters which had taken martyrdom, suffering and horrifying fines to every corner of England and Wales.


So it is that 400 years later so many people still play out this little piece of anti-Catholic propaganda as orchestrated for so long. Gladly few now realise that it was a part of a State plan to keep a population violently opposed to what their own forefathers had thought perfectly normal.


It is sad to think that our rulers used such incredible and underhand lengths to keep our peoples separated from the Sacraments, but that is the truth of the matter.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Communion in the Hand: My Very Real Concerns

I have felt unhappy about Communion in the hand for quite sometime.

I believe that only an ordained priest should be able to handle the Blessed Sacrament, because even with the best will in the world, there is the chance of dirty/unwashed hands touching the sacrament, more chance of the host being fumbled and/or dropped and even the scandal of a host being pocketed, for whatever usage I dare not think.

I am sure most communicants don't have this in mind, but if this happens even just once as a result of Communion in the hand, then that is once too often and the damage is done to the Body and Blood of Christ.

I am no theologian or expert, so you would do far better to read the following article:

Rethinking Communion in the Hand by Jude A. Huntz, which delineates all my concerns far better than I ever could.

When I read about the Counter Reformation and the Council of Trent (which codified existing Mass practices to give us the Tridentine Mass), those pushing for Protestantism in Europe were calling on the Church to allow Communion in both kinds, Mass in the 'vulgar' languages, tables instead of altars and Communion in the hand.

The Catholic Church retorted with the wonderful Council of Trent which ended so many abuses, and defended Catholicism by drawing a line in the sand against such abuses, designed to make people have less devotion to the Real Presence of Our Lord, and gave us Catholicism redefined, which in turn helped stop the Protestant rebellion and enabled the Jesuits, Dominicans etc. take back so many hearts and souls for our Faith.

Our Pope refuses to give Communion in the hand and its practice is illicit in most countries.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta said:

"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."

I sincerely think that this practice should be curtailed. The vast majority of those who receive Communion in the hand would not mind, as they probably do not know that the Church universally regards the practice as illicit or at best an indult under strict conditions.

We should pray that the Bishops of England & Wales would make the practice illicit here. I think it would increase devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Making 2011 More Traditional

Help make 2011 one in which the Tridentine (Latin) Mass is promoted in your church and home with this wonderful calender.

With more parishes and priests embracing the Latin Mass after the Pope's 2007 Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, we can all, as faithful Catholics and in line with the Pope's wishes, promote Catholic traditions and bring many graces to our homes, parishes and countries.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Catholic France Comes to Carmarthenshire

Last weekend as we parked up to go into a shop, and all family members clambered out of our 'not-quite-the-Popemobile,' something in my periphery vision caused me to take a second look.

On making sure everyone was safely decamped I ushered them over to what I had seen, and there, in the shadow of the famous Parc y Scarlets on a French car was a sticker bearing what was quite clearly the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart, intertwined with a slight modern take on it (as pictured above right).

The children were very excited to see such a Catholic symbol on public display.

On closer inspection the word 'Vendee' was at the top of the sticker. This led to an impromptu history lesson, and I told them all about the Vendee Catholics who rose to defend the Catholic Faith against the Masonic French Revolution and its reign of terror (why is atheistic terror always ushered in on a promise of the 'brotherhood of man?' - and I don't mean cheesy 70s pop songs).

I had read of the bravery and sacrifice of the Vendee people, in what became known as the Vendee Wars, but I hadn't realised that the symbol of that region remains today the Hearts of Christ and Mary entwined.

It is a beautiful emblem that the people of that part of France should be extremely proud of.

Sadly the uprising of the faithful Catholics of the Vendee is little known outside of some Catholic circles (the link below details how its very existence was blotted out of French history).

The Vendee Wars

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Tomorrow is St Richard Gwyn Day!

Saint Richard Gwyn (aka Richard White) is a real hero of mine.

  • Firstly he is Welsh (Hurrah!).
  • Secondly he had a tremendous sense of humour (even in those diabolical times under Elizabeth I - boo) even writing a humorous piece against a married priesthood.
  • Thirdly he was a teacher and family man, so was very much a man with his feet firmly on the ground.
  • Fourthly he stumbled on his personal 'via dolorosa' briefly conforming and becoming Anglican.
  • Lastly he would not betray the Catholic Faith despite all the bribes, tortures and pressures put upon him.

Here's one story about him that shows his good humour:

...placed in the stocks for this incident, and was taunted by a local [vicar] who claimed that the keys of the church were given no less to him than to St. Peter. “There is this difference,” Gwyn replied, “namely, that whereas Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the keys you received were obviously those of the beer cellar.”

On trial with two fellow Welsh Catholics they made sure to address the court in Welsh, English and Latin.

In great sadness looking upon the churches of his beloved Wales he said:

"Yn lle allol; trestyl trist" (In place of an altar, there is a miserable table.) 

What would he say of so many Catholic churches today, with so many containing little more than 'miserable tables?'

His last words, in Welsh, were

“Iesu, trugarha wrthyf” (Jesus, have mercy on me).

The Relics of St Richard Gwyn are to be found in the St Mary of the Seven Dolours Cathedral, Wrexham, seat of the Bishop of Wrexham.

Latin Mass Society on St Richard Gwyn, their co-patron saint.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Prayer for the Intercession of G.K. Chesterton

A prayer published by the American GKC Society:

Prayer for the intercession of G.K.Chesterton

God our Father,

You filled the life of your servant Gilbert Keith Chesterton with a sense of wonder and joy, and gave him a faith which was the foundation of his ceaseless work, a hope which sprang from his enduring gratitude for the gift of human life, and a charity towards all men, particularly his opponents.

May his innocence and his laughter, his constancy in fighting for the Christian faith in a world losing belief, his lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his love for all men, especially for the poor, bring cheerfulness to those in despair, conviction and warmth to lukewarm believers and the knowledge of God to those without faith.

We beg you to grant the favours we ask through his intercession, [and especially for ……] so that his holiness may be recognised by all and the Church may proclaim him Blessed.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society on EWTN

This is a great video that reminds us how much Chesterton did to defend Holy Church, and bring so many souls to our Faith, from religion, politics, literature and 101 standpoints, always using his wit and style of writing which was always so endearing and had the habit of skewering all issues and making you smile along the way.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Gracias Senor: Chilean Miners & The Pope

The Holy Father has been praying for the Chilean miners, and in such a Catholic country there is no doubt that our Faith has played a huge part in providing succour for the trapped miners, who are coming to the surface now emblazoned with the words 'Gracias Senor,' Thank you Lord.

St Lawrence, Ora Pro Nobis.

Left: Prayers are offered for the trapped miners during a ceremony at the San Jose gold and copper mine in Copiapo, Chile.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Return to Chesterton by Fr Thomas McGovern

Here's a great little article on Chesterton & Catholicism:

Return to Chesterton by Fr Thomas McGovern

If only the great GKC were alive today, he'd stop the pretentious prigs and sneering snakes like Dawkins in their tracks!

Please do check out Fr McGovern's other articles on penal times, Catholic history etc. - fascinating stuff. Just follow the link above.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The God Delusion Debunked: Atheism Derailed

Scott Hahn: Signs of Life interview

I love this interview because it conveys how Catholic traditions, such as the Sacraments, Sacramentals, prayers for the dead and so on are rooted in the Bible, New and Old Testaments.

Scott Hahn is a convert from Protestantism and is an expert Bible scholar. The facts in this great EWTN TV show should be known by all Catholics, especially as the aggressive atheists attack our Faith as groundless, man-made and mumbo jumbo.

Scott Hahn proves that Catholic traditions have deep roots, and we all know how they are badly needed by all of us, and wider society as we struggle to live good lives.

Please do watch this video and tell friends! We must defend and spread our Catholic traditions.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Costume Drama & The Common Good

Building a new Catholic society for the Common Good?
Lots of people enjoy a costume drama. I suppose with so much bad language, crudity, anti-family messages and meaningless Eastenders-style shouting, many people are eager for a little more culture, history and genuine dialogue, however flawed it may be.

Thus it was I thought I'd look in on ITV's latest offering, Downton Abbey.

The setting will be familiar to anyone who knows Upstairs Downstairs, with a smattering of Lark Rise to Candleford.

It was the name of the series that caught my eye, and prompted an impromptu history lesson to my children.

I think spin has been around for a long time. It's a sad thing, but when most people tend to be conservative (with a small c) and traditional in their beliefs, it's often a small minority that push for radical change and 'new ways' that people feel uncomfortable with.

In modern times we can think of the war in Iraq, that so many people thought was wrong, yet spin and a few people with the levers of power pushed a whole nation into an unjust war.

In history we think of course of the Reformation. In Henry VIII's day even after he invented the Anglican church most people still went to Mass, believed in the Actual Presence of Our Lord, believed in the seven Sacraments and so on (realistically thinking Henry's changes would be a passing fad).

It was after years of spin and propaganda that the English and Welsh were gradually turned against Catholicism, and even then a brave minority - the recusants - held out despite incredible anti-Catholic penal laws.

So what has this got to do with a costume drama on ITV?

Well the very name Downton Abbey had me telling my children how at the time the Reformation would have been sold to 'the people' as the greedy, rich monks sitting on so much land and property - and how it would all be taken off them to the benefit of 'the people,' so how could they oppose it?

Just as Communism would later be sold on a promise of freeing 'the people' whilst everything was grabbed by the Party few and the people were put into worse slavery, so the Reformation was sold to 'the people' in terms of 'freedom' only for the land and property to be grabbed by a rich few and the people put into a worse slavery, culminating in the factories and slums as more land was enclosed.

As I told my children, the monasteries were open to the people, they gave succour to travellers and the ill. People went there for their spiritual needs. They helped the local economy by hiring workers and selling goods. They often let their tenants live on the land and/or farm the land for little more than peppercorn rents (I believe it was Cobbett who showed how the rents increased once the monasteries were shut).

In short what was open land, accessible to many, farmed by many, to the sustenance of many, became the enclosed lands for the play and profit of a very few.

The promise of 'freedom' and of closing the corrupt (sic) monasteries for the benefit of the people was a lie, just like the promises of freedom under Communism was a lie, just like the promises of a 'War on Terror' for freedom was a lie.

One might even say that the Abortion Act (1967) was also passed on a promise of a very few in urgent medical need etc. only for the floodgates to be opened and abortion on demand for the flimsiest reasons was the result.

Spin is nothing new. We as Catholics know that we have been lied to for many centuries from the closing of the monasteries, to the enclosing of the land, to the slums and factories and the false hope offered by the Communists, to the proponents of abortion today.

Only Catholicism has the answers, a return to sound morality, a putting the family and the Common Good first and as the Papal encyclicals have said, the atheism and materialism of Communism, the love of money and greed of unfettered Capitalism offer no real hope for people searching for the Truth and justice.

And all that from an ITV costume drama! Must be another Sunday evening in our house ;-)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Is Confession slowly dying out?

I know that's a contentious headline, but let me put two scenarios to you:

Scenario One

At one English, home counties parish where I lived very briefly but did not go to Mass (I was in London at weekends so would go in the capital) I sought out the parish priest to go to Confession during the week a few times. I could have gone in London, but there was always a "will I make it in time" as I sat on the tube heading across town.

After a couple of phone calls I arranged to meet the priest and as the Anglo-Saxons would say, was 'shrivened.' I can't remember when the priest said it, but it was, I think, after a few visits, that he confided in me that I was the only person in the parish who went to Confession. To say I was shocked was an understatement.

How could a busy home counties parish have no-one (let's discount me as I didn't go to Mass there) going to Confession? It seems almost preposterous.

Scenario Two

My second example is of a cleric (not my parish priest, but I have been to Confession with him) who recently told me of a Bishop who, when someone went to Confession, the person was told afterwards 'not to go so often' as his previous Confession had been a week before.

Now I know priests place a lot of emphasis on Confession. I can remember two or three parish priests reinforcing the vital importance of Confession in their homilies, so I don't think this is a problem of the priests. I know many 'locals' who frequent Confession too, so perhaps it isn't as big a problem as I fear.When I went to Confession many years ago (late 80s) at my 'mother church' there would always be a small queue, but then it was a large parish.

Just a thought, but with frequent Communion promoted, might it not be an idea for Bishops to promote (or insist!) on frequent Confession?

I do not wish to come across as "holier than thou" - after all I don't go to Confession as often as I probably should and I, like everyone else, need the help and support that Confession gives to stay on the straight and narrow, and to pick me up when I do stumble.

With this Sacramental jewel in the crown of the Catholic Church free and accessible to all, I do worry that perhaps, it is not used as much as it should be. Or are some parishes better than others?

I would be interested to know what other Catholics think.

P.S. if you get the chance, read the book A Victim to the Seal of Confession, a wonderful story about how and why the seal of Confession works, why it is there and why a priest will never betray that seal regardless of the consequences.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Blessed Cardinal Newman's Feast Day This Weekend

What a wonderful chance to pray for the conversion of our separated brethren in the various Anglican churches.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Parents Beware: BBFC 12 Film Ratings are a Farce

It is self-evident that the classification of films by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has changed over the years. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs simply to cast their mind back to X-Rated films of yesteryear and compare them to 12 and 15 rated films today.

Now I am no prude, I have worked in warehouses, offices and other work environments, and I have heard bad language. I don't approve of its use in normal conversation, it portrays a lack of vocabulary if nothing else, but I can understand the odd usage of 'Anglo-Saxon' when someone hurts them self, even if we should try to avoid such things if we are trying to better ourselves.

At the same time we all know that far too many Hollywood films are littered with foul language and blasphemy -- much of it totally unnecessary to any plot line. Its usage seems quite facetious, as if the people who plan these things like to "shock" the audience or underpin a film's authenticity by littering it with foul words.

Listening to a BBC film review show the other day, I followed some interesting points that brought home not only how much the BBFC ratings have changed since I was a boy, but how ridiculous those ratings are today and have little relevance to the films (especially in regards to what parents should let their children see).

See if you think the following makes sense.

A cartoon film, Marmaduke, with the rating U (available to all) was told by the BBFC that it would be given a rating of 12, unless it removed one slang word for disability.

Meanwhile The Hole in 3D is a 12 film, and grown men are saying it is scary, including a child with bleeding eyes, and one person phoned the BBC to say his children had had nightmares ever since seeing the film.

What I guess I'm trying to ask is how can Marmaduke almost be a 12 when something as scary as The Hole in 3D is a 12 (I have little doubt that back in the 70s or 80s it would have been X-rated).

I haven't see The Hole in 3D so I'm only going by what the BBC presenters and audience were saying.

But one 12 film I did see which shocked me was The Dark Knight. With strong violence, knives held to mouths and more, it was clearly an adult thriller that would easily have been X-rated in the past.

The worrying thing is that the 12 rating is a guideline, so parents can take young children in with them if they see fit, which is fine if Marmaduke was given a 12 rating, but for films such as The Hole in 3D or The Dark Knight, this is a nonsense.

Hollywood likes to tell us that bad films don't make bad people, that they are simply reflecting society at large. This is an argument easily shot down in flames because many thriller and horror films carry unreal violence and extreme situations, albeit portrayed in a real and frightening way.

Plus they miss the point, which is that the innocence of our children is being lost far too easily and at a far too early age. It is terrible when you read of young children being allowed to view horror and porn, and all the psychological problems that can bring, not least lawlessness and a sense of amorality.

Yet it is a nonsensical situation when official guidelines allow parents, even those who assiduously follow such guidelines to do the best for their children, to take children of 8 or 9 (or even younger) to see films as scary as the Dark Knight or as horrifying as The Hole in 3D.

I don't think we, as a society, should accept this status quo when the possibility to do harm to the young is so obvious.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

St Joseph's RC Church, Penarth

A few months back I was at a family wedding - a wonderful occasion at the beautiful St Josephs RC Church, Penarth.

As an aside I know a retired cleric (I won't name him to spare his blushes, not mine) who used to be the parish priest there and who was lucky enough to have Dr. Saunders Lewis amongst his parishioners. Dr Saunders Lewis was a famous Welsh Catholic and inspired the founding of the Welsh Language Society.

Regardless of politics, I don't think anyone inside or outside of Wales would suggest that the loss or diminution of the Welsh language would be a good thing, any more than the loss of French or Hindi and the cultural/historic gems that accompany them.

I had never been to St Joseph's before, though I had heard about it. Nothing could have prepared me for the wonders inside! The wonderful High Altar simply took my breath away. It was everything a Catholic Church should be. It was awe-inspiring. It truly inspired awe! It inspired a love of the Blessed Sacrament. It inspired a love of the Saints.

The Church has been accused of many things down the ages, some true some false, but one thing it was not was stupid. Churches like this throughout Christendom were built, were designed and evolved to bring out the spiritual in people, in the faithful. The murals, the windows, the statues - all help us focus on the things of heaven, the life of Christ, the Saints, our Holy Mother.

Sadly I don't think pictures of the Church (internal or external) are online, nor does St Joseph's have a website: something for a local to think about perhaps.

Right: Penarth man Simon Morgan repairs a statue of the Blessed Virgin from St Mary’s Catholic Church in Dinas Powys, where he was married, after vandals damaged it. Penarth Times story. An unrelated story - but Catholic and Penarth-based nonetheless!

I spoke to the Parish Priest briefly after the wedding service and complimented him on the beauty of the Church. He told me that much of the inside of the Church was listed and so could not be changed or ripped out in the 60s, 70s etc.

Deo gratias!

I don't suppose as Catholics we have much to thank local council bureaucracy for, but in this instance a real jewel of Welsh Catholicism was surely saved for generations to come.

If you get the chance do go to St Joseph's in Penarth. It is a real gem and will lift your heart and reinvigorate your Faith.

P.S. If you do a google search for St Joseph's, Penarth you can go on google maps and see a great external view of the Church, as well as directions to get to it (as with quite a few Catholic churches in Wales, it is tucked down a side street)

Friday, 1 October 2010

Celtic Tiger Leaves a Large Volume of Guano

Celtic Tiger or Golden Calf?
Circa 5 years ago all the talk of Ireland was of the "Celtic Tiger" -- the rapacious economy, growing faster than ever, new technologies, booming property prices etc. It seemed the good times would never end. The Irish were looking out on new horizons, and the view was spectacular.

The "experts" were busy telling us how Ireland was now a Capitalist power-house. The (for want of a better word let's, in Chestertonian mode, call them) modernists in the media, those people who love 'progress' as long as it fits their agenda, were busy telling us that -- each like a latter day little Nietzsche -- Catholicism was all but dead, a medieval anarchronism that the Irish people no longer wanted or needed.

The message, rarely said openly, but implied continuously was that money was now god, it was the new force in Ireland. Mammon had quite clearly replaced God, if these pundits were to be believed.

The sad thing is that so many hundreds of thousands of people have had to suffer to prove the experts, pundits and talking heads wrong, otherwise it would be tempting to revel in their downfall and exposure as little more than modern-day Wizards of Oz.

Their great Golden Calf, before which they prostrated themselves, has toppled all so quickly and the prophets of Mammon have been left with egg on their face.

I have friends in Ireland trapped in negative equity and who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own. Married couples had to buy a home, and now whole families are struggling just to make ends meet and pay the bills. That is the reality.

The Celtic Tiger, far from delivering the Irish people 'freedom' (and we should reflect on what Pope Benedict said whilst in the UK, viz money does not bring happiness) has brought them a ton of woe and many years of debt, taxation, unemployment and penury.

Yesterday on the radio an Irishwoman talked of the suffering in Ireland, with some people even taking their own lives over the amount of debt, lost homes etc. etc.

The modernists have slunk away, their voices have fallen silent, the Irish people have been left to shoulder the burden of the ineptitude of the banks and government who let this huge bubble grow with their eyes fixed on the huge profits promised, like cartoon characters with their pupils replaced by Euro signs.

Thankfully the Catholic Church is still there, to pick up the pieces for those who will turn to it; to provide support and succour in times of need.

How sad it is that so much loss and suffering has had to occurr to open peoples' eyes to the fleeting and temporal nature of the Celtic Tiger.

I just hope others will learn the Irish lesson, but perhaps that is simply wishful thinking on my part.

If only our public servants would learn to put the Common Good before the lust for profits and power. I cannot see that day arriving any time soon as long as power is created by writing in banking ledgers.

Leo XIII addressed social issues in 1891.
Times have changed since that wonderful and saintly Pope, Leo XIII, wrote Rerum Novarum on the conditions of the working classes, with many of the slums cleared (in the West!) but in the relations between capital and labour we have to ask if things have changed beyond tweaks and reforms here and there.

Certainly the example of the Celtic Tiger dictates that Catholics should be looking at a society that puts money in its rightful place - as a servant to be used to alleviate poverty and help society; not as a fickle god to be worshipped at the cost of all else.

If we don't, as a society, change our ways then we are destined to repeat the many mistakes of the past time and time again.

The modernists, media experts etc. like to say that Catholicism has nothing to say to the modern world (or worse still, that she should genuflect to it). Recent events have proved that the modern world needs Catholicism like never before.

Rerum Novarum

This wonderful encyclical still speaks to us nearly 120 years later, and contains so much of great worth it is well worth a read. Here are just two examples of many (excuse American spellings):

35. We have said that the State must not absorb the individual or the family; both should be allowed free and untrammelled action so far as is consistent with the common good and the interest of others. Rulers should, nevertheless, anxiously safeguard the community and all its members; the community, because the conservation thereof is so emphatically the business of the supreme power, that the safety of the commonwealth is not only the first law, but it is a government's whole reason of existence; and the members, because both philosophy and the Gospel concur in laying down that the object of the government of the State should be, not the advantage of the ruler, but the benefit of those over whom he is placed. As the power to rule comes from God, and is, as it were, a participation in His, the highest of all sovereignties, it should be exercised as the power of God is exercised - with a fatherly solicitude which not only guides the whole, but reaches also individuals. 

46. If a workman's wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this. We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.