Friday, 30 April 2010

Bernie's Gig

Bernie's flute solo at the Concert last night went really well! A tricky Poulenc piece she'd mastered for her grade 8 played with style and panache. She's not a frequent soloist ), though she always leads the flutes and plays the piccolo in the orchestra (and did that last night too) so she's really buzzing.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Let's not have a hissy fit...

...just because some puerile clerk on the government's payroll has yet to grow up.

Surely we have more important things to engage with: such as the fact that none of the main political parties have any Catholic appeal; our bishops appoint inappropriate people to the CES; Austen Ivereigh, James Preece and Mac are having a barny.

A good weekend...

Another lovely spring weekend: Bernie and friends went wild camping for her 17th birthday party; Ant came home for a flying visit for a job interview for the summer: working at the local sailing school training people how to sail - an ideal summer job for her; Charlie, Dominique, Anna and I (and Goldie) got a few good walks in; Mass on Sunday morning at the Cathedral - extraordinary form with chant and wonderful organ music; and my first fritillaries, planted as bulbs last year, are just flowering.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Shoot yourself in the foot (why don't you?)

The 'Catholic' Education Service has appointed a new deputy director: he is Greg Pope, a former Labour MP.

He is of course ideally suited for the role: he "was appointed after a rigorous selection process and was the unanimous choice of the final interview panel, which was chaired by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Chairman of CESEW," according to the CES press release which continues:

"Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director of CESEW, welcomed the appointment, saying...'[It] will help us to continue to both promote and protect Catholic education...'"

He has voted consistently in ways that are diametriacally opposed to Catholic teaching on, for example, abortion, contraception, 'gay' relationships etc.

John Smeaton's excellent blog post has all the gory details.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

TV bad for kids - official

Don't you just love it when research confirms your prejudices.

The BBC reports research demonstrating that watching TV is bad for kids.

Apart from it being a statement of the bleedin' obvious, I was naturally gratified to read this, having denied my kids TV all their lives.

They don't seem too deprived: Ant is at a top University studying Maths haven got straight As at A level as well as being an active sailor, climber, frisbee player (!) etc etc; Bernie has just got distinction in her grade 8 flute, top marks in her A Level Art course work, is working on grade 7 piano, and has an active social life; and so on...

Their horizons don't seem to me to have been too limited by depriving them of Neighbours and Coronation Street...

I was interested to see that it is the attention span issue that is highlighted here: I have long thought this the structural problem of TV - regardless of the quality and content of the programmes.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Jiminy Cricket Morality

I can't help wondering how priests - priests of all people! - could possibly justify to themselves the repeated and systematic abuse of children.

And I can't help wondering if there is any connection between the outbreak of such abuse and the abandonment of traditional notions such as 'custody of the eyes', and their replacement with the supremacy of conscience (hence Jiminy Cricket morality "Always let your conscience be your guide.')

Of course we should follow our conscience - but our first responsibility is to make sure that it is a well formed conscience.

'Love God and do what you will' is great - as long as you remember what Our Lord said: 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.'

But in the second half of the 20th century, the vogue was for the supremacy of conscience without the discipline of conforming it to the will of Christ.

And we sinners are fearfully good at justifying our desires and corrupting our intellects to the extent that we can pretend to ourselves that our conscience sanctions all sorts of terrible things, left to our own devices.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

A good day...

Mass, breakfast with croissants (mmm!), Sunday Morning Religion with Charlie and Dominique (a chapter of Ronald Knox, followed by a crossword puzzle on the moral virtues), early lunch and dash to the station to drop of Ant who is going back to University, a sunny walk with Anna and Goldie, Benediction, Lawn Mowing and Gardening. Now to make the tea for Grandma and the little ones, as Anna and Bernie are out. A very satisfying day!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

A Day at Pemberley

As an end-of-holiday treat, we had a family outing to Lyme Park, which featured as Pemberley in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice.

Ant and Bernie are huge P&P fans (as are Anna and I), and the whole family, including Grandma, enjoyed both the beautiful gardens and the impressive house.

Ant and Bernie were rushing around declaring 'What a notion!' and similar quotable comments at every opportunity, and Charlie and Dominique both played pieces on the piano featured in P&P.

And we were blessed with beautiful weather too.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Learning from the crisis

Over at Laurence England's blog there has been a bit of a discussion about whether the roots of the priest child abuse scandal lie in liberal seminaries.

One contributor has said words to the effect "don't let's use this to start blaming liberal or conservative wings of the Church."

I agree - up to a point. It is silly to use something as grave as this crisis as a mindless stick to attack the other side with...

However, I disagree most profoundly if he or she means we should not seek to learn whether there is something in the way we have been selecting and forming young men for the priesthood that has led to this crisis. If we do not learn the lessons of history, we may be condemned to repeat it...

I was particularly struck by how prophetic Michael Rose's book, Goodbye Good Men, now seems. This devastating criticism of (some) American seminaries does seem to suggest some possible root causes for the crisis. But I think a more thorough review is now needed, looking at all those priests implicated and their formation.

And in the meantime, we should continue to pray for all victims, all perpetrators, all who colluded wittingly or unwittingly by their silence, and all the good priests whose name and reputation have been tarnished by the scandal, and not least for our Holy Father.

Last day of the holidays...

... so we are off to make a film possibly a quidditch match, or possibly about a frisbee version of a quidditch match. Time will tell...

It's obvious

Chlamydia (along with all other STDs) is on the rise in the UK.

The solution: it's obvious. More screening - every time you 'change partner.' (NB Two points of interest here; one is that we hear this so often: 'the policy isn't working -I know, let's do more of it!'; the second is that the universal solution to all our sexual troubles, the condom, does not get a look-in in this discussion.... could there be a reason for that?...)

Avoiding unhealthy 'lifestyle choices' is, curiously, never mentioned in this context (compare that with smoking, obesity, alcohol- related illness etc etc) Could it be that our political, media and medical lords and masters (and their mistresses) are so wedded to a life of promiscuity that the alternative is unthinkable? Or is it that they behave differently, but think we plebs are so contemptible that we are unable to behave responsibly? Or are they simply governed by the fear of saying something that would open them to criticism, charges of moralising, and ridicule?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Double Standards

A BnB owner is being demonised for turning away a homosexual couple, and a politician for suggesting that perhaps they might have the right to respect for their beliefs.

A hotel in Blackpool, meanwhile advertises as being for gay men only - and that is fine, it seems.

Sauce for the goose?

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Family Walk

Dominique was at a friend's today, so we took the opportunity of doing a slightly more challenging walk than we might otherwise have done (at least, I took the opportunity: Anna and the kids foolishly let me choose the route).

Started at Midday or thereabouts, so belted out the Regina Caeli to get us going...

It ended up being 9 miles, and included 2000 feet of height gain, mainly at the start, but with quite a pull between miles 6 and 7, just when people were beginning to tire.

The weather was cool, but the wind was ferocious at times on the high exposed ground, and for the last mile or two there was driving rain, too.

Oh and we had a picnic at the end of the first ascent, sheltered (well that's over-stating it, perhaps) by a small hill.

This is what the holidays are for: a fabulous time was had by all - and some of them are still speaking to me...

Monday, 5 April 2010

Pullman's startling originality

Philip Pullman’s new novel presents an astonishing new thesis to the world: Jesus of Nazareth was a nice chap who told some lovely stories and was unjustly killed. Then His followers created a bureaucracy to develop, institutionalise and perpetuate a view of Him, as God incarnate, that was never part of His own teaching.

Apart from being an old, tired heresy, (Pullman’s a bit like a five year old, running around pleased with himself at being the first to discover that the moon is made of cheese), this shows an incredibly ignorant or lazy reading of the Gospels.

A large part of Our Lord’s life was spent deliberately raising the question: who am I? He then spectacularly and repeatedly answered it and proved the answer.

As many have pointed out before me, you can believe He was good and God, or you can believe He was mad or bad; but to believe He was good and not God is not tenable on any rational reading of the texts.

Just consider for example: ‘But to prove to you that the Son of Man has power to forgive sins...’ This is a miracle with a point, and the point is about His identity, authority and power. And so it goes on, right up to His setting out to accomplish His own death (and this was clear to those about Him: “let us go also, to die with Him...’)

And when the High Priest adjures Him under oath, He claims the Divine Title: again the point was not lost on His hearers; ‘What need have we of witnesses now: we have heard the heresy for ourselves!’

No, this was no itinerant preacher and healer, subsequently deified by His followers. He claimed the title and He proved His claim to it - most of all by the miracle of the Resurrection which we have just celebrated.

Pullman seems to me to be a fairly mediocre novelist with a bit of chip on his shoulder, who hit an inspired patch with Northern Lights, when he created a vivid and engaging world. But the trilogy declined from there - into a rant by the end - and none of his other work that I’ve read comes anywhere near the standard of Northern Lights.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Celebrations

We went to the Vigil Mass last night: the new fire kindled outside the Church and spread among the faithful candle by candle until the whole Church was filled with the light of the Risen Christ! Had to sing the Regina Caeli walking back to the car, as it had not been included in the Mass.

Then today, we had a cooked breakfast (a rare treat) with sausage and bacon (as well as eggs from a local farm) to celebrate the end of Lent and our vegetarian diet. The table was decorated,as ever on Easter day, with an Easter tree - photo to follow once the camera is charged!

After breakfast, the kids found all but two of the small eggs hidden in the garden in our traditional Easter Egg Hunt, while Anna made a Simnel Cake. the kids and I then played Ultimate Frisbee, under Ant's loving instruction: boys v. girls - Charlie and I beat Ant, Bernie and Dominique 5 - 0!

After a light lunch we took Goldie for a walk in the country (we had been planning a stately home garden visit with Grandma, but she didn't feel up to it in the event, so we will save that for another day).

After a fabulous tea (and wine!....), watched a Poirot DVD with grandma; then said bedtime prayers with the kids, sang the Regina Caeli and the Victimae Paschali, and am now sat wondering about doing the washing up...

Happy Easter

Victimae paschali laudes
Immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves
Christus innocens Patri
Reconciliavit peccatores
Mors et Vita duello
Conflixere mirando;
Dux vitae mortuus
Regnat vivus.
Dic nobis, Maria.
Quid vidisti in via?
Sepulchrum Christi viventis
Et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
Angelicos testes.
Sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea;
Praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
A mortuis vere
Tu nobis victor rex
Miserere. Amen, Alleluia!

Excellent article in the Tablet!

Credit where credit is due. Regular readers of this blog who are particularly perceptive and skilled at reading between the lines, may have gathered that I am not a huge fan of the Tablet.

However, I always like to give praise where it's due, and think the Easter meditation 'The Risen Christ' is truly excellent. It is by one Mons Ronald Knox and appears in the Tablet dated 8 April 1939 - At that time the Tablet was a Catholic paper.

For those who have not filed their back-copies of the Tablet, it can also be found in Knox's Pastoral Sermons.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Pepinster heresy?

On Thought for the Day today, the Pill's editor managed to resist attacking the Church. But she did say something that sounded heretical, at least to my (totally unprejudiced, of course) ears.

She said words to the effect that: 'as the secrecy is stripped away, just as the burial clothes were stripped from the body of Jesus'...

The burial clothes 'stripped' from the body of Our Lord? Is she implying some agency other than His own?

I'm probably being unfair, and she was merely pleased with her rhetorical flair, but it sounded distinctly dodgy to me. And for someone who is meant to be a professional communicator of the Faith (isn't that, at least in theory, the role of Editor of the Pill?) it was, to say the least, careless. But was it indicative of a mind that finally doesn't accept the Gospel accounts and the reality of the Resurrection? Reader: you may be the judge of that...

And of course, she scattered the Holy Name around as though she were distributing fair trade coffee beans to the deserving poor.... But that is only to be expected, these days, I suppose: nobody (except real stick-in-the-muds) says 'Our Lord' any more.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

Pleased that both Ant and Bernie wanted to come to Watching last night! We did 10.00 - 11.00 so they were a bit slow to get up this morning...

After walking Goldie, we read Mons Knox's sermon on the Agony in the Garden, from Pastoral Sermons (which I'd read last night and reminded myself how good it was).

The kids are Knox fans, thanks to the Creed in Slow Motion and the Mass in Slow Motion, and they found this sermon good, too, even though aimed at adults.

We then went to the Good Friday Liturgy, which was well done, though I would love some better music (either polyphony or chant), especially for the Reproaches...

Then home to home-made Hot Cross Buns to break the fast. Anna has tried to make these once before and they were not a success; but this year's were truly delicious!

About to read the kids the next Knox sermon on The Trial. Then there are two for Holy Saturday and one for Easter Day: all highly recommended!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Pepinster recants!

Listeners to the Today programme were amazed at 8.25 this morning (but it's too early to post the link as the programme is still on air). The announcer said: 'And here's Gary with the sport,' but it wasn't Gary, it was Catherine Pepinster, who had burst back into the studio after her earlier dreadful interview (see previous post).

'I had to come back', she stammered breathlessly, 'I've just been thrown from my bike, on the way to the fair trade cafe for breakfast.' As the presenters were struggling between showing due BBC concern and wondering how to get her ejected, she continued: 'and a voice from Heaven said: 'Kate, Kate, why are you persecuting me?'

'Who are you, Lord?' I asked?

'But I knew, already. So I have come back to profess: We believe, no I, I Kate Pepinster believe in One God...'

At this stage the security people arrived, and as they struggled with Pepinster, she was heard to proclaim: 'We'll become an investigative paper, looking at the campaign to discredit the Holy Father... we'll run a series on Catholic Ethics edited by Fr Finigan...' the security men finally over-powered her, and the producer was heard to ask for her to be taken to a hospital. 'No', came the retreating voice of Pepinster, 'the Oratory: I need to go to confession.'

Today is, of course Maundy Thursday, the day of the new Mandatum

It is also April 1st.

Nichols v. Pepinster

Despite the BBC's typically misleading headline on its www site (Archbishop says contraception 'attractive') Archbishop Nichols is reported as saying that although he can see why the promotion of condoms etc appears to be an attractive idea to reduce 3rd world poverty, his message really was:

"If we solve the poverty then consistently we know that the birth rate comes down.

"If we provide people with security, then consistently birth rates will come down. And they're the radical issues that we should be addressing, not short term intrusive fixes."

But Pepinster, editor of the Pill, used her interview on the Today programme (about 07.20 - can't yet post link as programme still on air) to undermine Church teaching: 'many Catholics don't even know about Humanae Vitae..., I can't remember hearing it preached from the pulpit,... most Catholics have no issue with contraception,... many priests and some cardinals and bishops say in the case of AIDS when condoms are used to preserve life then that's a good thing,' and so on.

How long can this disgraceful woman be allowed to run what is alleged to be a Catholic paper?

But perhaps she has over-stepped the mark this time: if it comes to a straight fight, I'd back Archbishop Nichols every time, both on principle and in practice!