Thursday, 29 September 2011

Haf Bach Mihangel - Our Welsh Catholic Heritage

St Michael's 14th Century Church, Betws-y-Coed
Haf Bach Mihangel

It's St Michael's Little Summer in Welsh.

Today is Michaelmas - St Michael's Day and when it is hot at this time of year (as it very often is, as my family are sick of me telling them) it is known as Haf Bach Mihangel in Wales.

Yet further evidence of the folk-memory of those happy times when Wales was Catholic and Welsh; when the Saints spread the Faith to Ireland and we Welsh enjoyed the Sacraments and honoured the Real Presence of Our Lord on the Altars of our land, a Presence that had been adored since some of the earliest years of the Roman presence.

Our Catholic Faith was nurtured even when the Celtic lands to the East were lost to the pagan English.

So celebrate Michaelmas today and if you sit outside this evening, perchance with a wee sip of ale, wish each other a Dydd Mihangel Hapus and enjoy the beautiful sunshine as we enjoy this Haf Bach Mihangel.

Yes, the sun shines in Wales. As some Arab chappies might intone, God is Great. Indeed He is.

Monday, 26 September 2011

GKC Warns on Treating Trade as an Absolute

As usual, across the decades, GKC speaks to us with so much Catholic good sense.

Even after the collapse, the bail-out and the billions poured in to a black whole of debt, the leaders of nations are still treating banks and "the markets" as something sacrosanct.

Money, a means to facilitate trade and commerce has become an end in and of itself, and we all know what the love of money results in, as our Faith warns us:

For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:10

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Vatican 2, Archbishop Lefebvre, the Consecrations - and More

I found this moving book review on the web.

I wll leave you to read it.

It needs little commentry from me, save deep sighs at what the Church has suffered.

Many thanks to Cor Jesu Sacratissimum blog for such a moving and thoughtful review.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Conservative Priest Visits Syria

A friend sent me this. His knowledge of the internet and associated thingymajigs is minimal. He didn't send me a link to this and for him to try and get one in retrospect would be asking the impossible. In deference to his years I'll save him the stress and run it sans link:

September 19, 2011
Twenty-fifth Sunday After Pentecost

Father Pat's Pastoral Ponderings

Having returned home, last evening, from a five-day trip to Syria, I am sending this first message to the friends who have been praying for me this past week. Many of these, prior to the trip, expressed concerns for my safety, so let my first words serve to reassure them.
I begin by remarking that at only one point on this trip did I feel the slightest fear for my physical wellbeing. It happened this way: Our little group was conducted into a large room full of scary-looking people, where a security force of more than twenty policemen met us, all of them carrying side arms, and several holding assault rifles. As we walked through their midst, this security force gave our group a careful once-over.
For the benefit of those concerned for my safety this past week, let mention that the room was the gate boarding area of an airport. It was the first day of our trip. The city was Chicago.

From the time we boarded our plane, however, and during the remainder of the trip---in Jordan and Syria---I did not see a single side arm on anyone at all, and I saw only two rifles: one held by a guard in front of the Defense Ministry in Damascus, and the other by the man who opened the front gate for us at the Presidential Palace.

During our entire time in Syria, I saw not a single armed policeman nor---except for that guard at the Defense Ministry---a single soldier. I saw only one military vehicle, and that was near the Defense Ministry.

The only other weapons I saw in Syria were the 10-inch batons used by the local police to direct the flow of traffic in Damascus. Indeed, the only moments of real apprehension I felt in Syria were occasioned by certain extraordinary displays of spontaneity and boldness on the part of its cab drivers.

In Syria our group---together and singly---was permitted to go wherever we wished and to ask any questions of anybody we wanted. There was only one restriction: our tourist agency mentioned two smaller cities where, out of concern for our safety, they could not take responsibility for us. This concern, they said, was prompted by patterns of violence among some of the "criminal elements" active in those cities---not the Syrian government.

Even then, however, we were not forbidden to travel to those two cities; the tourist agency simply refused to take us. (For the sake of candor, I confess that I was the visitor who ardently pressed them on the point, assuring them that we Chicagoans are impervious to fear. They ignored me.)

Prior to traveling to Syria, I checked out the web page of our State Department, where I was warned that travel in Syria is currently very dangerous. Normally I take such warnings seriously.

Over many years, however, I have done a bit of foreign travel, so I also trust my instincts with respect to safety. Long I walked the dark streets of Athens during a period when there were riots and insurrections throughout Greece. That same year---just after the civil war in Cyprus---I roamed all over that island, as U.N. peacekeepers policed the place.

In Kosovo a few years ago, again at night, I strolled from the south (Albanian) side of Mitrovica to the north (Serbian) side---and back again---without incident. I have walked around, after dark, in the neighborhoods of numerous foreign cities, such as London, Paris, Milan, Istanbul, and Tel-Aviv. In 1973 I was in the Athens airport when terrorists stormed the El-Al customer desk with grenades and machine guns. I think I can recognize danger.

I also know what it feels like to move around in the dangerous atmosphere of a police state. Last year, for instance, I spent a week in Guatemala, where I saw guns galore on nearly every street. At the time, the murder statistics in Guatemala City were staggering. (Father Timothy Ferguson, who spent a year there, followed the murder reports in the newspaper; he told me that 87 women were murdered in his immediate neighborhood during that year, but not a single person was ever arrested for those murders.) Within five minutes of entering Guatemala City, I was aware of danger. Indeed, if I were not a Chicagoan, I might have feared for my life.

So, let me sum up my impression of the danger factor in Syria. On a security scale of 1-to-10, I would give Syria a 9.7. Using that same scale, I would give Detroit a 4, Philadelphia a 6, and Disney World an 8.5.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BBC Response to My Newsnight/Dawkins Complaint

Here's the BBC's response to my complaint. My comments are in red:

Thank you for your comments with regard to ‘Newsnight’ broadcast on BBC Two on 13 September.

I understand you were offended by the treatment of religion on the programme.

We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the programme’s discussion with Professor Richard Dawkins. We also appreciate some viewers found presenter Jeremy Paxman’s comments offensive. However, we do not agree that it showed anti-Christian bias.

Well, it did. rather than question his thesis, Paxman lauded it. And called Christians bigoted and ignorant.

This discussion centred on Professor Dawkins’ new book, which seeks to counter myths, legends and religious teachings commonly taught to children by replacing them with strict scientific rebuttals. The interview was not about the merits of religion or science as a whole; instead it sought to explore the methods of disseminating knowledge to children, with particular reference to complex subject matter which can be difficult to understand even for the most mature readers.

Yes, the interview (i.e. the BBC) posited that a theory (the big bang) on top of another theory (evolution) are fact. These are not scientific facts. They are theories. They were presented as facts, whereas religion (e.g. Creation) is a myth to be scoffed at.

Jeremy countered Professor Dawkins’ assertions on a number of occasions, stressing that stories and myths are often more interesting than bare scientific explanation. Yes but he did not question the assertion that the Biblical account of Creation is a myth, whereas he blindly accepted prof Dawkins beliefs (including all the 'leaps of faith' needed to accept the Big Bang and Evolution). Jeremy added that such stories and religious interpretations offer comfort and inspire imagination. Jeremy then asked Professor Dawkins why he was concerned that such teachings take place, his comments did not intend to cause offence and instead sought to initiate a variety of responses from the interviewee. Jeremy's interviewing style is well known. He was being provocative by playing devil's advocate. It is a really important element of what makes ‘Newsnight’ what it is. The matter in question was not the validity of Genesis, but the reasoning behind Professor Dawkins’ vehement opposition to such teachings. ‘Newsnight’ or the BBC does not have opinion on either matter. We believe the interview was conducted in an impartial and appropriate manner.

It was certainly not impartial and anyone who saw the interview and read my initial complaint would recognise that. It was a love-in, a hug-fest, in which two people on the "same side" poked fun at religion and stated that Mr Dawkins' beliefs (based on his beliefs - not on what he has seen, for he was not at the Big bang nor has he presented the missing link) were absolute facts, whereas all religious statements are myths and stories, in which Genesis is mixed in with Aboriginal tales. This is like disproving the Big Bang by showing a documentary on a professor who says the earth has a Malteser at its centre and started as a second tier treat in a giant cosmological chocolate assortment box..

I do understand you feel very strongly about this, so I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.

Yadda yadda. Where is the apology for a BBC employee calling Christians "idiots" and espousing an atheist belief-system as fact, despite the lack of evidence.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Mark Madden
BBC Complaints

My response was:

I am sorry but Mr. Paxman did not interview in his usual style - for which he is well renowned. This was akin to a love-in, with two people casting aspersions on the Christian faith.

You have not apologised for Mr. Paxman's derogatory description of Christians and anyone else who does not toe Mr. Dawkin's line on the THEORIES of the Big Bang and Evolution.

If he interviewed someone questioning the moral, personal, societal values of homosexuality and joined that person in make derogatory remarks about homosexuals I feel he would be chastised by the BBC -- and a complainant would see some sort of redress.

As a Christian, of course, I can expect none of this, which shows just how slanted and biased the BBC has become.

It is easy for Dawkins and Paxman to sneer, but most people in this country still describe themselves as Christian, and as tax-payers and licence fee-payers I believe that we should not be the object of such open bias on the BBC.

I feel that my complaint has been all but ignored.

Here's my original article and letter of complaint

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Prayer Before a Crucifix

Prayer before a Crucifix

Behold, O good and sweetest Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee
to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins
and a most firm desire of amendment.

Whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself
and mentally contemplate
Thy five most precious wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David,
the prophet, long ago spoke concerning Thee,
“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”

I say this prayer after every Mass I attend. If you say it, plus an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope you get an indulgence (Confession and Communion being necessary of course).

A most efficacious prayer.

Tip of the jauntily-angled trilby to: Abbot Cuthbert Johnson

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

BBC's Newsnight Attacks Christians as Idiots and Ignorant

Go see a Paxman-Dawkins Love-In
On tonight's Newsnight the presenter, Jeremy Paxman described Creation and Genesis as a myth. Christians who believe in the Bible were variously called idiots and ignorant. BY THE PRESENTER.

The modern deity of the atheists prof Richard Dawkins got a free ride.

I would ask all Catholics to watch the programme (it will be on BBC i-player soon) and then to complain to the BBC: BBC Complaints Page.

Our Faith is attacked on national TV by the BBC, its presenter and sole guest.

Please forward this message via blogs, forums and sites so that other Catholics and men of good will can complain to the BBC at the blatant propaganda.

I am not ignorant enough to believe Darwinian tosh (presented by Dawkins as fact) and yet to see proof of the missing link.

The BBC is supposed to be unbiased! We know it isn't and always pushes an anti-Christian, liberal atheist agenda. But that does not mean that we should put up with this rubbish.

Please complain.


My Complaint:

In the interview with Richard Dawkins PAXMAN [the bbc presenter] called Creation "a Myth". He would never do this about the THEORY of evolution, which was in turn presented as fact.

Christians were called idiots and ignorant. As a Catholic that belives in the Holy Word of God I was deeply affronted and upset. Not just by a totally uncritical presentation of dawkins, his theories and his advert for his book; but also that a BBC employee was allowed to poke fun at me, my beliefs and the Catholic Faith (as the oldest Christian Church and the largest Christian religion, to think otherwise is implausable or simplistic at best).

It was my belief that the BBC is meant to be impartial. yet this mutual love-in between Paxman and Dawkins was so uncritical, biased and warped as to be quite sickening.

Will the BBC do something similar next week with a Catholic theologian defending the Word of God, while the presenter joins in on their side, pouring bile at those who think we used to be monkeys?

No? Why not?

That is what you just did to millions of Christians.

The BBC is supposed to be unbiased. Increasingly I am finding that this is not the case.

I pay my license fee. I am a Christian. I believe the Bible.

If I were disabled, coloured, Jewish, Muslim, homosexual etc. etc. I would have "rights" and the BBC would never dare to "have a pop" at me in which the presenter joined a guest in ridiculing me or my worldview.

Yet because I happen to be a Catholic who believes in Catholic truth, I am allowed to be ridiculed and have my 'belief system' trampled upon by the BBC, its presenter and its guest.

Please next week can we have someone opposed to "homosexual equality" where the BBC presenter joins in on their side and ridicules those who believe that homosexuality is on a par with heterosexuality and/or married life?

I look forward to that now that I have seen the new way Newsnight is being presented.

The Curé D'Ars, Patron Saint of Parish Priests

I found this image online and I hope you'll forgive me for re-posting it.

What a great and holy priest the Curé D'Ars was! If you get the chance read Abbé Trochu's biography of the saint (published by TAN books). I read it many years ago (oi - not that many) and it still sticks in my mind as a wonderful, wonderful book.

As the Patron Saint of parish priests surely this is a saint whose intercession is needed like never before.

St Jean Marie Vianney, Ora Pro Nobis.

Lord grant us priests.
Lord grant us many priests.
Lord grant us many holy priests.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Victory for Decency: Phones 4 U Clobbered

Phones 4 U have had one of their adverts mocking Our Lord banned.

It seems there is some decency left in the modern world.

Here's this blog's original story on this:

Phones 4 U

And here's the ASA ruling on the blasphemous advert:


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine, Florida

Sorry for the lack of posts these last couple of weeks. I've been on "vacation" snippets from which will, I'm sure, enter my posts in the weeks ahead.

Suffice it to say we had the honour of visiting the national shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe, which as with much of the region of Florida lends itself to the Spanish style of building.

We were overwhelmed with the building with its external murals above the main doors of the chapel, the gift shop was amazing - so much for the eager Catholic. I was like a kid in a sweetie shop. The museum was very interesting, with "old" vestments from 1950s Belfast, some great paintings such as The Assumption of the Virgin Mary by Bartolome Murillo. Quite breathtaking and as I explained to our youngest, 'that was painted at the time of Charles I'.

Externally there is a lovely Rosary Garden, with many of the bricks in the path sponsored by families and individuals. At the centre of it is a breath-taking statue of Our Lady with the Christ Child, all a delight to see in the glorious Florida sun-shine.

Of course, as with the gift shop, there were a very few items that one skipped across because they detracted from the overall feel of the place (Eucharistic monster items in the former, modern art in the latter), but so far the signs were promising. 

On entering the chapel for Mass I was encouraged. In the foyer there were statues, a large Holy Water font, a Papal flag and more. Then we went into the chapel itself. The altar was a table in the modern style. A modern art crucified Christ hung above it on a see-through "cross."

My heart sank. If it weren't for the Stations of the Cross, beautiful paintings along the walls in-between some gorgeous stain glass windows, there would have been little to raise my heart and soul to Heaven. 

The choir was very professional, but far too "American" for me, the readings were in some awful modern version of the Bible with really, really dreadful modern usage one of which totally destroyed the meaning of the passage, the 'what should it profit a main to gain the world and lose his soul' had the word soul changed to 'life' which, to my mind, naturalises the supernatural.

International Standard Version (©2008)
What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?
The Chapel at the National Shrine

And the less said about the Eucharistic Monsters the better. As someone who finds Communion in the hand upsetting, the site of Tracy from accounts 'dishing out' the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has me on the verge of despair.

This, I feel, is what the Bishops have done in some countries. Is it too much to have altars, not tables? Is it too much to have consecrated hands distributing Communion, not Jo from the supermarket? Is it too much to have Communion placed on the tongue, not in the hand?

As with so many other Catholic churches I visit, this beautiful place reminds me what we have lost, and what we could have. With a high altar and a beautiful Crucifix, and a choir singing Gregorian Chant -- oh, we would be one step away from Heaven! 

One day... God willing.