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.