Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reason is not enough

A few further thoughts on the modern crisis in our understanding of human sexuality...

Part of the Post-Enlightenment legacy, which is now playing havoc particularly with the upbringing of the young, is a mis-placed trust in reason.

Don't misunderstand me: I am not saying that reason is held in too high regard. Whilst our Faith is characterised by mystery, it does not reject, but rather honours, reason. To give up on reason is not a Catholic approach at all: revelation may take us further but is always reasonable. The Word, the Logos of the Father, is truth incarnate; and theology, the queen of disciplines, is (rightly understood) faith seeking understanding.

No, my point is different. The modern error is to set too much store by our being subject to reason. My current bête noire, the CES gay propaganda masquerading as an anti-bullying resource, is a case in point. One of the many things wrong with it is that it seems to assume that you can argue a child into virtue: that once you have given cogent reasons why bullying is wrong, the child will no longer bully. (There are, of course, many other and more serious things wrong with Made in God's Image, and I have documented many of them elsewhere on this blog).

But Catholic tradition, and everyday experience (including my own, as I look at my own patterns of sinful behaviour) demonstrate that such is not the case.

In fact, we have a disordered relationship with reason: too often, our passions are felt more strongly, and we either ignore or distort our reasoning, to indulge our passions.

This, the Church teaches, is part of the damage to our nature brought about by that original catastrophe, known as the Fall.  

One of the many things I lament in the change from the Traditional to the New Rite of Mass is the loss of the wonderful prayer from Psalm 140 (said at the incensing of the altar): Pone, Dómine, custódiam ori meo, et óstium circumstántiæ lábiis meis: ut non declínet cor meum in verba malítiæ, ad excusándas excusatiónes in peccátis. (Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: and a door round about my lips.  Incline not my heart to evil words; to make excuses in sins.)

To make excuses in sins... How those words resonate!

Human sexuality is damaged by Original Sin: we desire that which we should not desire. And reason, which should order our desires to the good, is subjugated to our passions - unless we train ourselves -  discipline ourselves - to submit to grace.

That is why virtues are learned by practice and example, not just by exhortation; and why when the Faith is abandoned, and 'sexual preferences' (ie a particular sub-set of our passions) are made sovereign, reason lags far behind...

For the tragic results, you need only look around.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Sick Sex

One of the aspects I did not mention in my recent post about changing attitudes to sex was health. Clearly the 200,000 abortions a year which (inter alia) pay Ann Furedi's salary cost the cash-strapped NHS a vast sum, which could otherwise be spent on... well, health care, perhaps.

But this is about much more than that. We have created a society in which large numbers, including the young, have a range of diseases that result from promiscuity.  And then there are the emotional and psychological effects of a casual attitude to sex: particularly when one party has a casual attitude, and the other thinks something meaningful is underway...

Fundamental to this is the notion of 'protected' sex. Here's a hint: if you need protection from the person you love, you are probably not, as a couple, doing love right.

And here's another hint: you can love someone without having sex with them. And perhaps that's the biggest lie of all, in our current culture, the assumption that sex is essential either to an individual or to a relationship. Christians should know better: the Holy Family is a great witness.  But the West has been living off our Christian heritage, and it is being rapidly dismantled. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

What Price Free Love?

Since the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s (yes, I know, it is more complex than that, but as a shorthand, let that suffice...) we have seen an extraordinary change in attitudes towards human sexuality.

Even the more extreme and completely unscientific idiocies we see around us (gender theory, and 'different models of family' for example) are being normalised and imposed on our children by the school system - and Catholic schools seem to be falling obediently into line on this. 

The only morality seems to be consent, and an over-simplified view of consent, at that; one which views sex as no more significant (or complex) a human activity than offering someone a cup of tea.

But the price that has to be paid is enormous. 

The liberation of women (as it has been styled) has led to the expectation that they should take regular hormonal pills. This is not just bad for them, (both physically and in terms of their ability to sustain relationships) but is having dangerous effects on the environment.

Moreover, as these pills, and other contraceptive practices, are prone to failure, abortion is required as a back-up, as Ann Furedi has made clear: 
'The 200,000 abortions that taken place in Britain every year are evidence of what you get when you raise women’s expectations of birth control, and provide both a range of contraceptive methods and safe legal abortion. ' (from this article).
And on top of this terrible price - 200,000 children a year sacrificed on the altar of Free Love - there is the societal cost. The destruction of stable family life, and the crisis of masculinity, precipitated by the collapse of committed marriage as the normative model for the raising of children, is having devastating effects, particularly on children. We should be greatly concerned about the ever-increasing number of children who are presenting with mental or psychological problems.

But it is unthinkable that any policy maker or politician will raise the question: Should we re-consider whether our approach to sex, as a society, is a contributory factor? Instead, we inculcate the young with a broken model to assuage our own guilt.

And yet, I remain convinced that sexual discipline is essential to civilisation. And that the current fashion for self-indulgence and self-justification is essentially selfish and the antithesis of love.

As Henry, in Stoppard's The Real Thing remarked: "What free love is free of is love."

Friday, 30 June 2017

In which I am bullied by the CES...

Bullying, I learn from the CES publication Made In God's Image, may include 'deliberate forms of exclusion.'  And one can see where they are coming from: when children send another child 'to Coventry' (ie refuse to speak to, or acknowledge, him or her) that is potentially very unpleasant and hurtful.

When bullying is associated with a protected characteristic, it is deemed even worse. (Personally I question the wisdom of that stance, but that is the position of this document, and indeed informs the law of the land).

So when the CES refuses to answer queries submitted via its website; and then declines to answer emails (in the first instance sending a form response (Q), rather than engaging in a meaningful dialogue, and subsequently failing to answer at all), that could be construed as bullying: I feel hurt and excluded by such behaviour.

Further, I surmise that it is because I hold particular religious views (orthodox Catholic ones, as it happens) that I am thus ignored. Which, I assume, would make it bullying based on a protected characteristic.

--

As it happens, I don't subscribe to that approach. I think that we need to be rather more nuanced in our analysis, and look at a range of contextual factors before hurling around accusations of bullying.  But - and this is my point - the CES document does not: the list of 10 little scenarios which pupils are asked to assess range from some that are clearly prejudicial, to others in which the context could make an enormous amount of difference. But the instruction to the teacher is clear: 'Through discussion, make clear that all of these scenarios are homophobic in different ways.' 

And the document, whilst advocating the most non-judgemental approach possible to any issue relating to sexual morality, is extremely judgemental - indeed punitive - in tone towards anyone who may be deemed to be a bully.

--

So what should I do, when the CES (by their standards) bully me: first failing to answer my queries at all, then eventually sending me a form letter (Q), and then failing to answer when I pointed out that the form letter had not addressed the issues?

And how should I respond to the bishops who have not answered me at all? And to those who have answered with a form letter (Q) and then the polite brush-off (thanks - we'll think about it... (see also here) ) Is that episcopal bullying? 

--

I imagine they think I'll get bored and go away. They are mistaken: this is too serious.

If you think that the CES (and some of our Bishops) should not be instructing teachers to teach Catholic children that there is nothing wrong with homosexual behaviour, then take action. Pray, and write.  See my posts on the CES Scandal for all the lurid details.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Why does it matter?

I have been going on about the CES Scandal at some length and for some time.

That is because I believe it to be very important. I believe that for a number of reasons; the most important of which is that I think it gravely wrong to miseducate anyone, particularly in the name of the Church.

But perhaps it is worth spelling out some of the reasons why the modern liberal consensus on sex and gender (which is completely at odds with the Church's teaching of God's revealed truth) is so harmful; and in particular, is harmful to those whom the soft-hearted and weak-minded think they are being kind to.

The idea that being gay is just another lifestyle, quite as good as any other, is quite erroneous. The health outcomes for practicing gay men are significantly worse than for the  rest of the population. And in particular, gay sex is very bad indeed for young men and boys. Just consider this simple statistic from the US: 

Gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group. (Source

Reading the report from which that quotation is taken, it also becomes clear that it is receptive gay sex that is 9x more dangerous.  So boys and young men, aged between 13 - 24 are the victims of other more experienced men (if not experienced, they would not be HIV positive) using them for their pleasure. 

I think the Church should stand on its doctrine, and teach our young people the truth, in the hope of protecting them from this scourge.

The transgender issue is equally problematic. Made in God's Image glibly refers to 'people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system.' These troubled young people are at real risk of being victims of a massive social experiment. Despite Made in God's Image teaching to the contrary, nobody can accurately foresee how long such gender dysphoria will last; and there is the potential to do real harm by colluding with a child's self-diagnosis, setting them on a path to puberty blockers at an early age, and surgery at 16 (and of course, there is a push to reduce that age limit), which will change their lives for ever, and may well be bitterly regretted.  See here for commentary on this issue.

Once more, I think the Church should stand on its doctrine, and teach our young people the truth, in the hope of protecting them from this scourge.

Of course bullying is wrong. No Catholic school condones it. But to teach dangerous falsehoods to counter is to betray our children, and to put the most confused, the most vulnerable, in harm's way. They deserve better of our schools than this easy collusion with the world, the flesh and the devil.

Please pray; and write to our bishops. This evil teaching must be stopped and replaced with the beauty of Catholic truth.


--

UPDATE

See also this piece on the complexities and uncertainties of the transgender issue, and the perils of unthinking affirmation and of advocacy groups setting the agenda (as Stonewall and LGBTYouth are doing in Made in God's Image).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Reply from the CES

At last, Paul Barber, Director of the CES has started to reply to messages. This reply, apparently was sent in response to an email to his CES email address, not in response to a message submitted via the CES Website. So far I have heard of no replies to those, so I wonder if the system is not working as it should.

I say reply rather than answer, as the email does not answer any of the points raised. Instead, it is (who could possibly have foreseen this) a variant on Q.

Why anyone thinks that an intelligent person, raising serious questions about the Catholicity of Made in God's Image will be satisfied by an assurance that it is Catholic because it says so in the introduction, or even because sundry bishops believe it to be so, is beyond me. The latter, in more usual times, ought to be reassuring. But given that we know several other bishops are unhappy with it, to the extent of refusing to allow it into the schools in their dioceses, we are clearly living in abnormal times.


But the prima facie evidence is the idiocy of the claim. I have blogged at length about this, so will just leave this question here.


How is the teaching: 'Young people need to see that there is nothing wrong with it?' (with the it ambiguous, but referring either to homosexual inclinations or homosexual actions) compatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church (to which the document pretends adherence in the introduction cited as evidence of its Catholicity)? That teaching, which is indeed signposted in the introductory pages, is summarised in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, thus (with my emphases):

Chastity and homosexuality 
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.



Thursday, 15 June 2017

Corpus Christi Treat

Today, whatever you may hear to the contrary, is the feast of Corpus Christi. (This year, it is also the feast of St Vitus).

We have the feast of Corpus Christi now because the obvious time to celebrate this - Maundy Thursday - is hardly appropriate for the great high holiday the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament deserves.

The liturgical celebration of this Feast in our country has been moved, legitimately but in my view extremely unwisely, by our bishops to the nearest Sunday.

That does not, of course, mean that we cannot celebrate the feast today, in solidarity with many other parts of the world, not to mention our forefathers.

In the meantime, here's your treat, the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem from Rome in 2011, with Pope Benedict XVI. Not the best recording, perhaps, but the one I have chosen to link to, anyway.


It was written, of course, by St Thomas Aquinas, and the last few verses (from Ecce panis angelorum) are often sung alone as a hymn (like the Tantum ergo, taken from Pange lingua). Note the interesting verse structure: initally three line verses, rising to four, and ending with five.... Latin and English lyrics are below.





Lauda Sion Salvatórem
Lauda ducem et pastórem
In hymnis et cánticis.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudáre súfficis.

Laudis thema speciális,
Panis vivus et vitális,
Hódie propónitur.

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fratrum duodénæ
Datum non ambígitur.

Sit laus plena, sit sonóra,
Sit jucúnda, sit decóra
Mentis jubilátio.

Dies enim solémnis ágitur,
In qua mensæ prima recólitur
Hujus institútio.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus términat.

Vetustátem nóvitas,
Umbram fugat véritas,
Noctem lux elíminat.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciéndum hoc expréssit
In sui memóriam.

Docti sacris institútis,
Panem, vinum, in salútis
Consecrámus hóstiam.

Dogma datur Christiánis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sánguinem.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animósa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.

Sub divérsis speciébus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res exímiæ.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utráque spécie.

A suménte non concísus,
Non confráctus, non divísus:
Integer accípitur.

Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consúmitur.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquáli,
Vitæ vel intéritus.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptiónis
Quam sit dispar éxitus.

Fracto demum Sacraménto,
Ne vacílles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragménto,
Quantum toto tégitur.

Nulla rei fit scissúra:
Signi tantum fit fractúra:
Qua nec status nec statúra
Signáti minúitur.

Ecce panis Angelórum,
Factus cibus viatórum:
Vere panis filiórum,
Non mitténdus cánibus.

In figúris præsignátur,
Cum Isaac immolátur:
Agnus paschæ deputátur
Datur manna pátribus.

Bone pastor, panis vere,
Jesu, nostri miserére:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuére:
Tu nos bona fac vidére
In terra vivéntium.

Tu, qui cuncta scis et vales:
Qui nos pascis hic mortáles:
Tuos ibi commensáles,
Cohærédes et sodáles,
Fac sanctórum cívium.

Amen. Allelúja.

Sion, lift up thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King,
Praise with hymns thy shepherd true.

All thou canst, do thou endeavour:
Yet thy praise can equal never
Such as merits thy great King.

See today before us laid
The living and life-giving Bread,
Theme for praise and joy profound.

The same which at the sacred board
Was, by our incarnate Lord,
Giv'n to His Apostles round.

Let the praise be loud and high:
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt today in every breast.


On this festival divine
Which records the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.

On this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite.

Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead,
Here, instead of darkness, light.

His own act, at supper seated
Christ ordain'd to be repeated
In His memory divine;

Wherefore now, with adoration,
We, the host of our salvation,
Consecrate from bread and wine.

Hear, what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.

Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending
Leaps to things not understood.

Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.

Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.

They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.

Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.

Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!

Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.

Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.

Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.

Behold the Bread of Angels,
For us pilgrims food, and token
Of the promise by Christ spoken,
Children's meat, to dogs denied.

Shewn in Isaac's dedication,
In the manna's preparation:
In the Paschal immolation,
In old types pre-signified.

Jesu, shepherd of the sheep:
Thou thy flock in safety keep,
Living bread, thy life supply:
Strengthen us, or else we die,
Fill us with celestial grace.

Thou, who feedest us below:
Source of all we have or know:
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the feast of love,
We may see Thee face to face.

Amen. Alleluia.




(In previous years, I have linked to Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus, and  Tallis' O Sacrum Convivium, which are also wonderful!)

The Q Letter (2)

I do not normally publish private correspondence, as that seems to me to be wrong. However, I think it is legitimate to publish my re-construction of the Q letter, as it hardly qualifies as private correspondence.

So here is my best reconstruction of the putative Q letter.
Dear {Name} 
{Insert some personalising opening line, acknowledging receipt of letter, email etc} 
In 2016 the bishops of the CES Management Committee commissioned St Mary's University to research how Catholic Schools deal with homophobic bullying, which has become a recent focus of Ofsted inspections. The research highlighted the demand from schools for Catholic guidance specifically in this area. Following this, and at the request of dioceses, St Mary's University, in collaboration with the CES, has produced a guidance document 'Made in God's Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools.' 
{Insert some guff about signed off by bishops, made available to dioceses} I remain confident that the document is fully consistent with the teachings of the Church, as is set out clearly in the introduction to the document. 
{Some sort of closure/sign off bit}

Some commentary would seem in order.

Firstly, this letter does not address any of the specific complaints or queries that have been raised about this lamentable document. It is true that the introduction states that the document does not attempt to present Catholic teaching, and refers to the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism.

There is other good Catholic content in the introductory pages, too; such as the point made both by Cardinal Hume and by the CDF that we do not categorise people by their sexual inclinations.

However, the actual lesson plans take a wholly different approach - unsurprisingly as many of them were either copied wholesale from LGBTYouth Scotland, or Stonewall; or of course from the putative Q1 proto-propaganda document...

Secondly, it states that 'St Mary's University, in collaboration with the CES' but fails to mention 'and in collaboration with LGBTYouth Scotland, and Stonewall...' That strikes me as dishonest. It was dishonest of the document not to mention their sources (whilst taking care to reference other sources with care, giving the impression of a well-referenced properly-researched piece of work) and it is dishonest of the Q Letter to continue with that omission.

But the third, and most serious issue is the claim that this document is fully consistent with the teachings of the Church.  How anyone, let alone a bishop or archbishop, can claim that  is beyond me. To take just one example (and see my previous posts for many others...) it contains the line:

Young people need to see that there is nothing wrong with it.
Typically of the document, the 'it' is not defined (and the lack of clarity throughout, particularly of the distinction between homosexual inclination and homosexual activity is alone enough to make it wholly inappropriate as an educational guidance document). That clearly applies here: the 'it' refers either to the inclination to homosexuality, or to homosexual activity. In either case, it is a clear contradiction of the teaching of the Church; yet is presented as the approved outlook, which is being inculcated to remove the 'prejudice' of our children.

If you have not written to your bishop, or to bishops on the CES Management Committee, please write! If you have received a Son of Q letter, please write again, highlighting your request for answers to the issues raised. End by asking for better, Catholic, guidance to be developed.  In courtesy and charity as ever, of course. 

You might even write to the CES; they seem not to be answering any correspondence, which is remiss, but they should know that parents will not keep quiet while children are being corrupted by false and dangerous teaching.

Contact details may be found here.

And pray.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Q Letter...

I have just been comparing letters written by the Archbishop of Liverpool, and the Bishop of Leeds. Whilst they are different (Liverpool, hereafter L, runs to 17 lines, and Leeds, hereafter... oh, L won't really work, will it?... How about L2? is shorter, at 13) there is substantial similarity.

The second paragraph of L is word-for-word the same as the second paragraph of L2; and the third paragraph of each is significantly similar, though with some slight verbal variants.

Initially, I assumed that the outbreak of plagiarism that has infected Made in God's Image was contagious, and our revered bishops had fallen victim to it. 

But then I realised that there is another possible explanation. Perhaps there is a common source document - let us call it Q - which both letters are derived from.

That explanation could also resolve the vexed question of the similarities of the CES document and the Stonewall and LGBTYouth Scotland documents. Perhaps there is a proto-propaganda document (let us call it Q1) from which they are all derived, and the CES is exonerated from all suggestion of plagiarism or collusion.

I think we should be told...

Monday, 12 June 2017

The CES compounds its problems...

It is now about four weeks since I submitted a query to Paul Barber of the CES via their website. I got a note to say that my enquiry had been successfully submitted, and would be processed as soon as possible.

And since then, nothing. I gather the same is true for others who have approached them.

I was vaguely hoping (though scarcely expecting) that there might be a reply awaiting me on my return from Chartres. But no.

So it seems that the strategy is to lie low and say nothing.

Given the seriousness of the questions raised about the CES Scandal, that is really not good enough. In fact, I suggest, they are digging themselves into a deeper hole.

As I have mentioned before, the Nolan principles are appropriate standards for such a body; and they include accountability, openness and honesty.  These are not best demonstrated by refraining from answering queries.

If you have contacted the CES, I suggest that you do so again: they should know that we are not going to go away. If you have not contacted the CES yet (and assuming you agree that pushing lgbt propaganda into Catholic schools is not a good thing for the CES to be doing) I suggest that you do so.

Write courteously, of course, but do ask questions that demand answers.

Should they still not reply, I think we may need to go higher up the chain, and take this up (along with all the other issues) with their management committee, which is chaired by ++McMahon.

Incidentally, ++McMahon does answer letters it seems; or to be more accurate replies to them.  I have seen two replies from his office. One, from a secretary, was of the classic 'your remarks noted with interest' variety. I have had cause to comment on this particular type of letter previously: my post on the subject concluded: 
Are these people taught that this is the way to (fail to) answer questions they don't want to answer?  Is there a handbook somewhere for dealing with cheeky proles like me who ask impertinent questions?  I think we should be told (but of course, if I asked, I would be told: Thank you for your question, which I have noted.)
The other letter, from ++McMahon himself, which I have seen said, in effect, that Made In God's Image is Catholic because it says it is in the introduction. 

Neither of these efforts answered, or sought to answer, the problems raised by the correspondents. If you have received such  a reply, I suggest that you write again, courteously as ever, and point out that you would like answers to some specific questions.


We should persist, like the importunate widow, in the hope that we may get somewhere, and in the knowledge that failing to do so is in effect colluding with the miseducation, in a crucial issue, of many children.

For all the necessary contact details, see here.

And keep the prayers going up.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Back from Chartres

So another year, another Chartres pilgrimage.  It is hard to know what new to write, as I have written about the previous years' pilgrimages many times

However, it was as glorious, arduous, renewing and entertaining as ever. This year, my second daughter, Bernie, decided to come along at the last minute (the Wednesday before, in fact). She was too late to get an affordable train fare to London to join us there, so got a cheap flight to Paris, and we met on the square outside Notre Dame before going into Mass there. 

The weather was kind; overcast, so not too hot, but with the threatened rain only arriving for a short and light spell towards the end of the afternoon.

The first day's march was longer than last year, for reasons not wholly clear to me: a full thirty miles. Or maybe it was that I covered more distance walking up and down the line of the pilgrimage, keeping the Chapter moving and in order.

We had some 35 souls in St Alban's Chapter (the youth chapter), and another 42 or so in the Chapter dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham (a title that the French struggle to get their tongues around - we often get something closer to Our Lady of Washing-up - a pleasing domestic title...). The chaplains for St Alban's Chapter were our old friends Fr Mark Withoos and Fr Alex Redman, along with Fr Pio and Brother Rosario of the Franciscan Friars. 

So we sang hymns, heard meditations, sang rosaries, had our confessions heard, sang marching songs, and chatted. And walked. Amongst the pilgrims were many old regulars and a number of new faces; and of course there were many old friends who were unable to be with us this year for reasons of health and family commitments, but whom we remembered in our prayers.

We also prayed for all those who had asked for our prayers during the pilgrimage.

You can see a video of the final High Mass here. Like all the Masses, it was sung according to the traditional rite; and the celebrant this year was Cardinal Burke.

Possibly because we had a cardinal as our celebrant, the Cathedral's most precious relic was carried in procession before and after Mass: the Sancta Camisa, or Our Lady's Veil. This was given to the Cathedral in 876 by Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne. Its provenance can be traced back at least to 5th century Constantinople; and (astonishingly - or not, depending on your own approach to such traditions) the cloth has been analysed as silk dating to the first century, and from the Middle East...

And the following morning, the English Chapters had their own final High Mass, in the crypt. We had put together a scratch Schola for the occasion, and I am pleased to say we acquitted ourselves well.

And I have just booked out the dates in next year's diary.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Here we go again...

Tomorrow I set off for London, there to join the English contingent of the Chartres pilgrimage on Friday morning.  We start, as ever, with Mass (EF) in the Cathedral crypt, before boarding our coach for France.

The main pilgrimage starts on Saturday with Mass in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Then we walk and pray and walk and sing and walk and talk and walk and pray some more. Twenty five miles or so on the first day, to the campsite at Choisel. (The image shows the precise miles we walked last year on 14 - 16 May...)

On Sunday, it is much the same, except that Mass is in the middle of the day, in the open air: a magnificent High Mass at an impromptu but beautifully constructed altar (which would put many permanent altars in English churches to shame).

And then on Monday, we march into Chartres for the final Mass in Notre Dame cathedral (all French cathedrals are dedicated to Our Lady, I think).

Except it's not the final Mass for us, as the English chapters stay overnight in Chartres and celebrate Mass the following day in the crypt. A pleasing circularity...

I have written about this in previous years (see here) and will doubtless give an account of this year's pilgrimage on my return. It is an amazing, challenging and uplifting experience every time (I think this is my ninth time...)

In the meantime, if anyone has any prayer intentions they would like me to take to Our Lady as we walk in her honour over Pentecost weekend, leave them in the comments box (before Thursday night) and I will remember them en route and in the various cathedrals...



Tuesday, 30 May 2017

But answer came there none...

I know a few people who have got in touch with the CES/Paul Barber about the CES Scandal, some via their website, others whose mode of communication is unknown to me. What they all do have in common, though, is a complete lack of response.

That is very poor. Doubtless, we will be asked to put our hands in our pockets for the CES again in due course; but to suggest that they owe concerned parents any explanation of their frankly bizarre behaviour is clearly to suggest too much.

Of course, they are in a sticky position. It is hard to defend the indefensible.

Which brings me to the bishops. Their Lordships, I imagine, are more busy, and certainly have less immediate obligation to respond to queries about the CES than the CES itself has, one might think.

Nonetheless, I am hearing that a number of people have received replies; and that these vary from 'pray for something better' to 'it's not me you should be writing to, it's Paul Barber/++McMahon.'

Well writing to Paul Barber seems to get no result, but ++McMahon is the one bishop, I hear, who is prepared to stand up for Made in God's Image.

Oddly, one of my correspondents got an anodyne message from a secretary thanking him for his comments which the archbishop will bear in mind; whilst another got a letter from the archbishop himself, saying, in effect, of course the document is Catholic, because it says it is in its introduction.

One wonders how he can write that with a straight face; and further, if he really imagines that such a response in any way addresses the many and serious questions raised; and further still, if he knows that the strange sound behind him is the noise of all the other bishops distancing themselves from him and from this document. 

So, to summarise, nothing at all from Paul Barber or the CES, which is dereliction, if you ask me; and replies, but no answers to any of the issues raised, from a number of bishops.

It really is not good enough.

Pray for them all.

--

PS If you have heard from anyone feel free to leave a comment, or get in touch with me directly...

Monday, 29 May 2017

In a reflective mood...

When I started this blog, some years ago (November, 2006, to be accurate), my intention and hope was to create a forum for discussing fatherhood in practice from a catholic perspective, with other Catholic fathers (and others interested).

Over the years, the blog has wandered all over the place and touched on many topics.  The most-read posts have often been those on the current crisis in the Church. Though oddly, the most-read of all was about archaeology...

Although the site never became that discussion forum I had envisaged, as a result of it, and my twitter account, I have got to know a number of Catholic fathers (and others) over the years. I have learned a lot from many of them; high on the list must be the indefatigable Mark Lambert, the perspicacious Ttony, and the sometimes challenging and always thought-provoking Part Time Pilgrim. All of whom I regard as friends, though I have only met one of them in the flesh.

And somewhere along the line, the children grew up. Ant, having worked as a Maths teacher in a couple of quite challenging schools (and, I think, made a real difference) is now being a full-time mother for a while; and Bernie works as a pro-life education officer, going into schools and teaching them about life before birth, and why abortion is a really bad idea. Charlie is at University, and Dominique is just doing her A Levels, and I look forward to their next moves with great interest. I am immensely proud of all of them, of course. 

But as for this blog, I will keep it going, at least intermittently, and try to ensure that it includes as much that is positive as it does focus on the current difficulties.

It is true that it was the CES Scandal that prompted me to break my silence, and I don't think I have written my last post on that, simply because is strikes me as so important; but I hope to write as much about other, and more edifying, topics over the coming months and years.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Mass at Sizergh Castle


Yesterday evening's Mass in the private family chapel at Sizergh Castle was truly wonderful. Canon Gwenaël Cristofoli (prior of the ICKSP at Preston) not only prayed the Latin beautifully, but also truly understood the meaning of gesture.

That is not to say that he in any way drew attention to himself - quite the contrary - but that all was oriented towards the most reverent celebration of the Sacred Mysteries.

The congregation was very small, but ultimately, that didn't matter at all. The Sacrifice was offered.

Which reminds me, in my missal (inherited from my father), it says this: Here, Holy Communion is administered, should there be any of the Faithful desirous of receiving it, and should the Mass be one in which Holy Communion can conveniently be given.

That reads so oddly to us today, because we have been brought up to think that the laity's participation, and particularly the reception of Holy Communion, is the whole point of the Mass. But it was not always so. In our forefathers' days, the most important thing was that the sacrifice be offered. Of course, partaking in the sacred banquet has always been a great privilege of the baptised; but the work of Calvary was accomplished by Christ, with only a very few (His blessed Mother, St John, and one or two others) participating - with no lessening of its efficacy or potency. And there were only very few at the first Mass on Maundy Thursday - but again the value was not diminished by that.



But back to Sizergh - because after Mass, Benediction was also celebrated with equal reverence and beauty, ending with a stirring Regina Caeli.  All in all, a wonderful evening.  Future EF Masses at Sizergh Castle are on 9 June and 21 July, both at 7.00 pm and both followed by Benediction.