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Saturday, April 30, 2005

My job my job my job!!!!

Pants! Someone beat me to it!

Maybe she plans to retire?

Dominican informed on Wojtyla?

A Polish priest has been named as one of those informing on the then Karol Wojtyla to the Poish internal security service. The IPN, the institute that has care fo teh records, did not contact Fr Hejmo OP in any way before the president publicly named him. Nor has there been a full presentation of the evidence. Fr Hejmo denies co-operation, though he says he may well unwittingly given information. A friend here who knew Fr Hejmo in Rome says he is a fountain of Vatican gossip, of which he had a great deal, being in charge of organising papal audiences for Polish pilgrims to Rome. A Polish Dominican says much the same thing in an interview today in Gazeta Wyborcza.

The Bishops' Conference and the IPN are apparently talking about how to proceed with the examination and publication of documentation relating to clerics who worked with the security services. They intend to examine each case, decide which were cases of genuine collaboration and which not, which names should be published and which not. Shame that the IPN couldn't wait. The tabloids have JUDAS in huge letters across their front pages. This whole expose of agents is not being conducted in the most civilised way, and poor Fr Hejmo is another one convicted without trial and thrown to the mob.

Blair loads Lords with new peers

Blair loads Lords with new peers

LABOUR will become the dominant political force in the House of Lords in the next parliament when Tony Blair creates 16 new Labour peers.

The Prime Minister’s ennoblement of retiring MPs will end the Conservative’s historic dominance in the upper house and potentially embroil Labour in a row about "Tony’s cronies".

The Scotsman

Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati and Rahner

Anselmus has interesting snippets about the relationship between the two.
Here and here.

er, does this break the papal moratorium?

Lovely lines from John Paul II. Which one might read, it occurs to me, as the (or at least a) difference in perspective between Joseph Ratzinger's job as Prefect of the CDF and Benedict XVI's as Pope (besides, of course, the essential difference between being a.n. cardinal and being pope).
The discernment which the Church carries out with regard to these ethical theories [relativism &c] is not simply limited to denouncing and refuting them. In a positive way, the Church seeks, with great love, to help all the faithful to form a moral conscience which will make judgments and lead to decisions in accordance with the truth, following the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom 12:2). This effort by the Church finds its support — the "secret" of its educative power — not so much in doctrinal statements and pastoral appeals to vigilance, as in constantly looking to the Lord Jesus. Each day the Church looks to Christ with unfailing love, fully aware that the true and final answer to the problem of morality lies in him alone.

Veritatis Splendor 85

Friday, April 29, 2005

They're cartoons, it doesn't count

"There's more to life than the fate of your contraceptive company shares."

"Typical. The German got here first."

From The Spectator. The archive is subscription-only. Cruel.
Oh, and another wee thing. BBC gives representative sample of reactions to election of Benedict XVI. The Africans don't seem on the whole to think that the Catholic Church is responsible for the AIDS epidemic. Nor particularly bothered that it's another white man, even taking into account disappointed national pride!

Full in the panting heart of Rome

Full in the panting heart of Rome
Beneath the apostle's crowning dome.
From pilgrim's lips that kiss the ground,
Breathes in all tongues one only sound:


The golden roof, the marble walls,
The Vatican's majestic halls,
The note redoubles, till it fills
With echoes sweet the seven hills


Then surging through each hallowed gate,
Where martyrs glory, in peace await
It sweeps beyond the solemn plain,
Peals over Alps, across the main.


From torrid south to frozen north,
The wave harmonious stretches forth,
Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome's,
Than rings within our hearts and homes.


- Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminster (1802 - 1865)

Last Pope Post

Must write about something else, must write about something else . . . Did you know he likes cats, REALLY likes cats, and recommends saying the rosary in bed if you can't get to sleep? See, we've got so much in common!


Flat rate taxation. Discuss. Apparently the Baltic states all have it, and one of the Sl's (ovakia or ovenia). Good idea?

A girn. Is it not rather patronising for an American institution apparently having as its goal the inculcation of citizenly values in the morally-deprived post-communist societies, to call itself the Educational Initiative for Eastern Europe?

Some blurb.

"EICEE’s goal is to foster and strengthen free, just and democratic societies in the nations of Central and Eastern Europe. To this end, EICEE supports the ongoing efforts of the peoples and nations of Central and Eastern Europe to promote liberty and civil society by cooperating with various local educational projects in these regions."

It's amazing. All you need to do is read that blurb and immediately you know that this is another one of the efforts to spread the Good News of a particular American Way. A litte poking around the site soon yields fruit.

This May, Dr. Russell Hittinger will return to the Neuwaldegg Institute to lead a conference entitled "Four Great Philosophers of Law". Participants will be drawn from graduate departments of law, philosophy and political science from most Central and Eastern European countries.Professor Hittinger, who earned his Ph.D. at St. Louis University, is an Academic Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., where he was a research scholar from 1991 to 1996." And who is this place's major religion contributor? Ah yes, Michael Novak.

This is just one example. I check almost every conference I see advertised that is explicitly "Catholic Social Teaching" in content, or that appears to be designed to attract the politically-Catholic punter without actually saying so, and everything in between. They almost without exception have this kind of background.
The problem with these evangelising neo-con pro-free-market people is their sneakiness. I accept that there is a good case to be made in favour of some form of freeish market as the best way of ensuring material well-being for everyone all round the world. (Not that I am convinced that it is - I have a lot of reading to do.) But you cannot go around giving presentations of the social teaching of the church which suggest that the Magisterium is Maggie's real name.

St Benedict

Listen, O my son, to the precepts of thy master, and incline the ear of thy heart, and cheerfully receive and faithfully execute the admonitions of thy loving Father, that by the toil of obedience thou mayest return to Him from whom by the sloth of disobedience thou hast gone away.

To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.

Protect yourself from the powers of darkness with the principal patron of Europe...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Katie Grant on pope

That's all there is to say. Go to the link.

Order, Jurisdiction and Magisterum

Is the Pope perhaps being rather clever here? The headline is that he has dispensed with the tiara, but if you read the explanation of the meaning of the papal mitre you might as well say he has revived it. According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia both the Mitre and the Tiara are versions of the Byzantine Camelaucum. As the Popes began to permit the wider use of the Mitre, they distinguished themselves with the addition of (eventually three) golden circlets. These were taken to signify a number of things but most often the threefold nature of the Pope's supremacy over the universal church: teaching governing and sanctifying. This is how John Paul II explained it in his inaugural homily on 22 October 1978, (English) (Italian)

In past centuries, when the Successor of Peter took possession of his See, the triple crown, the tiara, was placed on his head. The last man so crowned was Pope Paul VI in 1963. However, after the solemn rite of coronation he never again used the triple crown, and left to his Successors the freedom to decide about it.

Pope John Paul the First, whose memory is so alive in our hearts, did not wish the triple crown, and today his Successor does not want it. It is not the time, in fact, to return to a rite that, perhaps unjustly, was considered a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.

Our time invites us, pushes us, obligates us to look to the Lord, and to plunge into a humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.

He who was born of the Virgin Mary, the so-called son of the carpenter, the Son of the living God, as Peter confessed, came to make all of us “a kingdom of priests.”

The Second Vatican Council has reminded us of the mystery of this power, and of the fact that the mission of Christ—Priest, Teaching Prophet, King—continues in the Church. Everyone, the whole people of God has a part in this threefold mission. Perhaps in the past, we put the triple crown on the head of the Pope to express by such a symbol that the whole hierarchical order of the Church of Christ, all of Christ’s “sacred power” exercised in the Church, is nothing else but service, service that has one goal alone: that the whole People of God take part in this threefold mission of Christ, and remain always under the Lord’s power. His power comes not from the powers of this world, but from the heavenly Father and from the mystery of the Cross and of the Resurrection.

So all the Pope has done is reduce the Tiara to its symbolic elements and reconstruct it. It will be interesting to see if an actual mitre corresponding to the one on the arms comes into use. Then the reintegration of aggiornamento and ressourcement with orthodoxy and with each other will be complete! (well, at least sartorially).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

random nice picture

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Handy-looking thing from SPUC

SPUC offers profiles (link in post title) of the life-issues-related opinions of candidates in the general election. (Email to ask for one - they're not just online.) I was pointed to this by the SNP candidate here, who very promptly replied to an email asking him what he thought about abortion etc.. (So brownie points for that... Soon we'll see what his opinions actually are; consonant with his courtesy, I hope!) (Except I don't want to vote SNP... oh well, any individual pro-life candidate would be nice.) You'd have thought I might have looked at the SPUC website before bunging off emails to the candidates, but no, too obvious...

I'm not sure that the SPUC list takes Scottish constituency changes into account, though - Edinburgh Central is still listed.

Does anyone know what on earth the 'Death, Dungeons and Taxes' party is? It seems to have several candidates standing, but nothing is revealed by googling. Is it silly or scary?

Monday, April 25, 2005

cantate pontifici canticum novum...

The ongoing project to compose a successor to 'John Paul II, We love you' has not been very successful in this corner of Christendom so far, but one friend (gratias, JjS!) suggests, to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory,

Benedict the XVI,
He's from Germany;
After John Paul the II,
He ascended to the Holy See.

(It sounds better when you sing it...)

Inspiration failed at this point, but it occurs to me that one could just add,

Wider still and wider
Shall his bounds be set;
God Who made him mighty,
Make him mightier yet.

Or, possibly more appropriately,

From the Chair of St Peter
He casts the Gospel net;
God Who makes the catch mighty,
Make it mightier yet.

OK, yes, the crowd chanting 'Be-ne-DET-to' was onto something a lot catchier...

Surreal moment of the weekend: at the SPUC pro-life chain, random bloke walks past and shouts 'Fascists! Nazis!' Did you know that National Socialists were pro-life? The scales have fallen from my eyes...

European Catholic-Orthodox Alliance

The Pontificator (award for longest posts, anyone?) has an interview with the Orthodox European equivalent of the Scottish bishops' Parliamentary Officer, who suggests that there should be some joint body for social-political type stuff.

I wonder what the row about the Uniates was?

He appears to be in the Moscow Patriarchate camp. The statements of the Patriarch of Moscow appear to equate better Orth-Cath relations with Catholics having only little "national" parishes in predominantely Orthodox countries, and not evangelising there.

Do they really, as he implies, agree with the Catholics on contraception?

I am hugely suspicious, largely (that is I would be suspicious anyway but this magnifies the suspicions by factor of around 40) because of his Moscow association, but despite my screaming suspicions am keen on the general idea. Anyone else?

Quante volte noi desidereremmo che Dio si mostrasse più forte. Che Egli colpisse duramente, sconfiggesse il male e creasse un mondo migliore. Tutte le ideologie del potere si giustificano così, giustificano la distruzione di ciò che si opporrebbe al progresso e alla liberazione dell’umanità. Noi soffriamo per la pazienza di Dio. E nondimeno abbiamo tutti bisogno della sua pazienza. Il Dio, che è divenuto agnello, ci dice che il mondo viene salvato dal Crocifisso e non dai crocifissori. Il mondo è redento dalla pazienza di Dio e distrutto dall’impazienza degli uomini.

How often we wish that God would show himself more strongly, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.

Homily of HH Benedict XVI at his inauguration

Saturday, April 23, 2005

deliverer of captives

defender of the poor

healer of the infirm

champion of kings

victorious Great- martyr George

intercede with Christ our God for our souls' salvation.

Cooperatores Veritatis

...some years ago he asked Pope John Paul II to release him from his duties in Rome to return to Germany and his first love, theological study and teaching. John Paul asked Ratzinger to stay on. "We're both getting old, Joseph," he told him. "We must continue to work together."

The Scallop Shell and the Bear

A very interesting piece on Benedict XVI's coat of arms as Cardinal,

tomorrow we shall see if he has retained it as Pope.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Communion in the hand

I will tell you a secret, since we have just a thousand close friends together, and also because we have the Missionaries of Charity with us, whom the Holy Spirit has sent into the world that the secrets of many hearts might be revealed. Not very long ago I said Mass and preached for their Mother, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and after breakfast we spent quite a long time talking in a little room. Suddenly, I found myself asking her-I don't know why-"Mother, what do you think is the worst problem in the world today?" She more than anyone could name any number of candidates: famine, plague, disease, the breakdown of the family, rebellion against God, the corruption of the media, world debt, nuclear threat, and so on. Without pausing a second she said, "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."

(Fr. George William Rutler, Good Friday, 1989, sermon at St. Agnes Church, New York City)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Oremus pro mitissime papa nostro

The crap has already started, of course. A letter explaining how Ratzinger engineered his own election.

Asked if he voted for Ratzinger, Glemp replied “During the conclave, my hand did not waver”. Cardinal Meisner, that when the counting of the votes for Ratzinger reached 77, the cardinals rose from their seats and began applauding, and the counting continued. Another journalist gives a reconstruction of voting strategies, following some citations from Meisner, but doesn't actually give a source.

One of the Polish tabloid headlines yesterday: “He likes sweet pancakes”, blazing white letters across a fotie of the Holy Father. One of my housemates said in the evening, laughing half from happiness and half at the power of suggestion “you know, I read it and I suddenly felt a great urge to eat pancakes”. I had noticed the plate of pancakes next to the cooker.

Leonardo Boff (my R.E. Teacher gave me a book of his to read when I was at school - it was yellow) has been quoted at length in the South American press. I say this on the basis of in-depth personal investigation of South American papers, of course. He says the predictable stuff, but has also complimentary words for the Holy Father, and the following reminiscences. “I got to know him as a professor of theology. He always gave half of his salary to help students from the Third World. He helped me - also financially - to publish my doctoral thesis.”

Sad that even supposed vaticanologists weigh at great length the new pope's media-friendliness, fret about his ability or lack of ability to deal with crowds. One Polish chap solemnly and sadly relates his impression of Cardinal Ratzinger at an academic roundtable, “the impression he made on his interlocutors was not, unfortunately, favourable”. Most of the balance of their text is made up of wondering how people will like what he does, or the extent to which he will do what people would like. Did they have special spectacles on when they read his sermons? What matters? Christ.

Funny how people can't see past their own motives.

A few smiles in this comment from the Times. Another one.

From the online comments:

"Yes, he is the right choice. I am not a Catholic and I am a liberal. Yet I do believe that any church that deviates from its fundamental values just to satisfy so called modern liberal attitudes is not worth a string of plastic beads. It is curous but it is they that are losing their followers the fastest. Wouldn't these churches love to have congregations that showed the same love and joy in their faces as those in St Peter's Square when they beheld their new Pope." Name and address withheld

Read also Zadok the Roman, who should be added to our links.

And for seemingly limitless amusement I recommend the Independent (sadlty particularly promising-looking article you have to pay for, but you can giggle at the letters), Guardian, etc.

I can still feel the happy hormones or whatever it is flowing through me. But I am so sad for the Holy Father, it is not going to be easy. Poor man. But again, he will see it all in perspective, so won't be too miserable about it even if it really hurts. Still. Not nice.

Mark Shea

Go read his posts. I am giggling out loud in public, this time not just sheer joy but amusement and background joy.

His papal slogan suggestion:
"John Paul II, We love you" was simple and direct. I think this Pope needs a more hip postmodern, and pop cultural referent slogan. I vote for "You're XVI, you're beautiful, and you're mine"

Yesterday's homily

In English.

I missed the Mass by about five minutes, didn't realise there would be anything till it was all over, but printed out the sermon and read it on the tram. Then on the bus (trying not to laugh and cry). Then on the tram again. Then in bed, having walked home hugging a newspaper with a big picture of the HF on the front.

It's okay, girls are allowed to react like this.

I still can't believe it's true.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Benedictus XVI!

Long may he reign!

I cannot believe it, I was not the only one I think to want it so much that I knew it couldn't possibly happen. My face even today hurts from smiling.

An address from today, Latin and Italian.

Te Deum laudamus, tibi gratias agimus.

I can't write.

Right reform

The German Bishops' Conference, cited by kath.net, points out that Benedict XVI has been elected on the feast day of Leo IX (1048-54) - an Alsatian and one of the fathers of 'Gregorian' Reform.

Our new Pope looks set to be a reformer in the true sense of the word! Deo gratias!

St Leo IX, pray for us.
St Benedict, pray for us.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Deo Gratias! Alleluia!

distraction and action

Get nothing done all day watching the chimney.

More constructively:

SPUC pro-life chain, Princes Street, Edinburgh, 11am-1pm Saturday 23rd April

10am rosary for the unborn, Sacred Heart church, Lauriston St

Meet 10.30am King's Stables Road, for handing out of signs saying (in a non-aggressive way) that abortion is bad.

11-1, stand on Princes Street holding a sign and hoping it doesn't rain...

(Just in case there are any local readers out there.)

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ratzinger's homilies

can be found here (the funeral one) and here (today's one). Unfortunately in Evil File Format. And today's has no English trans.

oh oh oh, I can't stand the suspense.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of your love
Send forth your spirit, Lord, and they shall be created
And thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

a nice thoughtful wee blog

Hello to Blogimus Maximus, whom I found entirely by random. I like this post.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Anyone got chums at Stirling?

Don't see what the problem if. If there's a Muslim equivalent of the Gideons, presumably they could provide Qurans for student rooms; Mormons etc likewise. No need to penalise a Christian group for having got their act together, one would have thought. Perhaps one could have an 'opt out bookshelf' in a common room, where folk can deposit their rooms' Bibles if they're really deeply unhappy about having them there.

FT vs Spectator

Nigel Andrews in the FT has a weird analysis of modern liberal culture as a fortress besieged by the forces of fundamentalism. It is characterised by flawed assumptions about the meaning of human freedom - e.g.,
'...For these rationalists, religious feeling has become a tarnished paradigm, corrupted by dogma and clerical dictatorship. For people who believe in the right to rule themselves, at least in areas of personal morality, the thought-policing of Islam in the east and neo-conservative Bible-thumpers in the west has become a new totalitarianism.'
But mostly its perception is just odd -
'We are still losing. We are still standing by, tongue-tied, when creeds that order their followers to mortgage this life to the next tell us all how to think and how to feel, how to live and how to die.'
Does this sound like Britain? All those tongue-tied libertarians afraid to express how and why Our Lord's teaching is wicked and inimical to human freedom? That'll be why divorce and abortion are legal, then... And behold the apocalyptic last paragraph:
'Gagging orders on art, culture and teaching have no place in a civilised world. [Except for gagging orders on Christian teaching, obviously.] They are the way to engender a new dark age. Zealotry in the name of new gods, or old gods set up in new pomp, has moved through the world before, burning libraries, closing schools, intimidating the freedom to seek and question. There is nothing tyranny hates more than individual will. For the individual will, with free access to a free culture and its storehouses, can discover and promote new truths, as surely as it can discredit and destroy - given time - old but stubborn systems of dogma and ideological dictatorship.'
Yes, it can. The individual will did this when God became a human individual and revealed the meaning of humanity and the right use of the individual will - to love God and neighbour. It turned out, as Ratzinger says in Truth and Tolerance, that 'the true reason is love, that love is true reason.' To suggest that there is a right use and end of the individual will is not tyranny. Pray that these young but stubborn systems of liberal dogma are again overthrown by the individual will, the will finding its gate, way and end in the God-Man.

This article does demonstrate one thing: that Christian protests against certain phenomena - most recently the whole Jerry Springer: The Opera thing - have fundamentally failed to put their point across, and have made the mistake of cashing into the culture of tolerance-as-the-only-virtue. Blasphemy and pornography (e.g.) are not bad because I find them personally offensive, and it's unkind of others to display them before me. They're bad because they're wrong - they undermine what humans are meant to be about - and are as such objectively offensive. We have to convey this.

Meanwhile Roger Scruton in the Spectator discusses the evil consequences of the sexual revolution, noting the death of shame and the adverse consequences of this upon 'the two great projects which, since 1963, have been in such serious decline: the project of love and the project of raising children.' A much more recognisable picture of The Way We Live Now. (Unfortunately he mars his rather lovely arguments with some foolish remarks about date rape.)

The Eagle that is Black Indeed...

The Prussian Homage (detail) - Jan Matejko

"Christendom is no more. Upon its ruins, like a woeful mimicry of the Holy Empire, Protestantism has raised its false evangelical empire, formed of nought but encroachments, and tracing its recognised origin to the apostasy of that felon knight Albert of Brandenburg."

- Dom Gueranger

Could anyone schooled in the history of the holy Polish nation explain to me how and why a King of Poland could perform so foolish and irreligious an act?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Happy Birthday...

As Zadok Romanus points out, it's Cardinal Ratzinger's birthday today! Huzzah!

Friday, April 15, 2005

bizarrely amusing (and made more so by Eighteenth-Century Capital Letters)

Aelianus is a Large Robot that occasionally Explodes, is fitted with a Bulldozer Blade, makes Toast, has Two Bicycle Wheels, and runs on Alcohol.
(Force: 9 Handling: 2 Weaponry: 0)
Build your Battle Robot.

berenike is a Robot that is fitted with an Electric Drill and a Gatling Gun, Hovers Eerily Above the Ground, has Gold Trimming, is covered with Flammable Fabric, and runs on Coal.
(Force: 6 Handling: 4 Weaponry: 5)
Build your Battle Robot.

Boeciana is a Robot that is fitted with a Bladed Claw, has Two Bicycle Wheels, Sharp Corners and Wooden Panelling, and runs on a Single Watch Battery.
(Force: 5 Handling: 5 Weaponry: 2)
Build your Battle Robot.

I'm very fond of the robot produced for my real name (not to be revealed to the general public, which might thereby steal my soul): 'a Tiny Robot that is Powered by Cold Fusion, is fitted with a Spring-Loaded Boxing Glove, a Sink Plunger and a Death Ray, has Dodgy Steering, and Hops Around on Single Leg.'

Genius. Note also Giant Battle Monsters and surreal products.

Royal Wedding, Charles and Camilla

Okay, also rather yesterday. But here we are anyway, an open letter to the Archbishop of Westminster. Who's right? Did the Cardinal's "every happiness" really mean "we hope you both become Catholics and live in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Catholic Faith?"

Your Eminence
I was astonished to read Ruth Gledhill's article in The Times on 11th February 2005, under the heading: "Civil Ceremony Wins Approval of Clergy." This included the following paragraphs:
1. "The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales also backed the wedding."(I presume that she meant the Archdiocese of Westminster)
2. "The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, said 'I know that Catholics will join with me in praying for the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles and in wishing them every happiness."
I am making two assumptions, and if either are incorrect, I of course would withdraw what follows below:
(a) You were not seriously misquoted.(b) The marriage between Andrew and Camilla Parker-Bowles is regarded by the Catholic Church as valid.
If both these assumptions are correct, your remark concerning "every happiness" is disgraceful.
Firstly, how do you know that Catholics will join you?
I have been a Catholic all my life. I am aware of Christ's teaching on adultery and also of the Ten Commandments. The Catholic Catechism, which one might have assumed that you had a duty to uphold, states:
"Contracting a new union, even if it is recognised by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery."
Secondly, the best service that one can render to the couple is not to wish them "every happiness", but to denounce the bogus "marriage". Adultery is a mortal sin, and they are already, as far as we can know, embarked on a Hell bound path. One wonders too how far this high profile flouting of God's law will insidiously influence society still more along this path.
The acquiescence of the Queen to the "marriage", despite purporting, absolutely falsely, to be the supreme governor of a Christian church, has been deplorable.
Who now stands for Christ?
Not you, clearly. The interpretation from your words is that the Catholic Church has gone along with it.
Recent "Church of England" law is quite obviously opposed to Christ's teaching on marriage, and the service of blessings after the event is precisely the type of cringing hypocrisy that I would expect from that body. Yet you have left them the field, and so far as the nation is now concerned, Christian doctrine is that some "remarried" after divorce, if not quite alpha plus, are no worse than beta minus, and an eclesiastical pat on the head with a nice blessing service will smooth it all down.
Decent Anglicans are sheep without a shepherd, and Rome, who could have been their voice in this, is silent. Rome, a Church that I felt honoured to belong to, has become an increasing source of shame. It is as if the shepherds have invested in breeding wolves. All Christian principle will be lost and we shall witness a trivial circus of wedding dresses; who is invited and not invited; and biographies of cleaning ladies at Windsor Castle.
I should have expected:
It was with sadness that I learnt of the plans of the Prince of Wales and Mrs Parker Bowles.
The teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ on marriage is quite clear. If a marriage is valid, then no divorce can invalidate it, and any subsequent attempt to 'remarry' simply underwrites adultery.
It is binding on all couples to uphold the laws of Christ, and to fail in this is to imperil their immortal souls.
Accordingly, the Catholic Church condemns the event, and calls upon all the faithful to shun it now, and never recognise it afterwards.
The proposed service of blessing adds nothing. Indeed it will be rightly interpreted by many as hypocritical in the circumstances.
The notice in my ground floor window reads: "This adulterous bogus 'marriage' spits in the face of Christ's teaching" It has been up since Thursday, and so far no windows have been broken, nor, interestingly, have I had a reaction of any kind.
I don't mind unpopularity. And you have the privilege of wearing red robes, which symbolise the blood of the martyrs.
Yours sincerely

Alan Whaites

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Roman Triptych - Pope John Paul II

II. Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel

1. The first beholder

"In him we live and move and have our being", says Paul at the Areopagus in Athens—

Who is He?
He is like an ineffable space which embraces all.
He, the Creator,
embraces everything, summoning to
existence from nothing, not only from
the beginning, but always.

Everything endures continually becoming—
"In the beginning was the Word, and through Him all things were made".
The mystery of the beginning is born together with the Word and is revealed through the Word.

The Word—eternal vision and utterance.
He, who was creating, saw—"saw that it was good",
his seeing different from ours.
He—the first Beholder—
saw, finding in everything some trace
of his Being, his own fullness—
He saw: Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius
Naked, transparent,
true, good and beautiful—

He saw in terms so different from ours.
Eternal vision and eternal utterance:
"In the beginning was the Word, and through Him all things were made",
all in which we live and move and have our being—
The Word, the marvellous eternal Word, as an invisible threshold
of all that has come into being, exists or will exist. As if the Word were the threshold.

The threshold of the Word, containing the invisible form of everything, divine and eternal —beyond this threshold everything begins to happen!

I stand at the entrance to the Sistine—
Perhaps all this could be said more simply
in the language of the "Book of Genesis".

But the Book awaits the image—
And rightly so. It was waiting for its Michelangelo.
The One who created "saw"—saw that "it was good".
"He saw", and so the Book awaited the fruit of "vision".
O all you who see, come—
I am calling you, all "beholders" in every age.
I am calling you, Michelangelo!

There is in the Vatican a chapel that awaits the harvest of your vision!
The vision awaited the image.
From when the Word became flesh, the vision is waiting.

We are standing at the threshold of the Book.

It is the Book of the origins—Genesis.
Here, in this chapel, Michelangelo penned it,
not with words, but with the richness
of piled-up colours.

We enter in order to read it again,
going from wonder to wonder.
So then, it is here—we look and recognize
the Beginning which emerged out of nothingness,
obedient to the creative Word.
Here it speaks from these walls.
But still more powerfully the End speaks.
Yes, the judgment is even more outspoken:
the judgment, the Final one.
This is the path that all must follow—
every one of us.

2. Image and likeness

"God created man in his image,
male and female he created them
and God saw that it was very good.
Naked they were and did not feel shame".

Was it possible?
Do not ask those who are contemporary, but ask Michelangelo
(and perhaps the contemporaries as well!?).
Ask the Sistine.
How much is said here, on these walls!

The beginning is invisible. Everything here points to it.
All this abundant visibility, released by human genius.
And the End too is invisible,
though here, traveller, your eyes are caught
by the vision of the Last Judgment.
How make the invisible visible,
how penetrate beyond the bounds of good and evil?

The Beginning and the End, invisible, pierce us from these walls.

4. Judgment

In the Sistine the artist painted the Judgment.
The Judgment dominates the whole interior.
Here, the invisible End becomes poignant visibility.
This End is also the summit of transparency—such is the path of all generations.

Non omnis moriar.
What is imperishable in me
now stands face to face with Him Who Is!
This is what fills the central wall of the Sistine profusion of colour.

Do you remember, Adam? At the beginning he asked you "where are you?".
And you replied: "I hid myself from You because I was naked".
"Who told you that you were naked?"….
"The woman whom you put here with me" gave me the fruit....

All those who populate the central wall of the Sistine painting
bear in themselves the heritage of that reply of yours!
Of that question and that response!
Such is the End of your path.


It is here, at the feet of this marvellous Sistine profusion of colour that the Cardinals gather—
a community responsible for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom.

They come right here.
And once more Michelangelo wraps them in his vision.
"In Him we live and move and have our being

Who is He?
Look, here the creating hand of the Almighty Ancient One, turned towards Adam....
In the beginning God created....
He, the all-seeing One....

The Sistine painting will then speak with the Word of the Lord:
Tu es Petrus—as Simon, the son of Jonah, heard.
"To you I will give the keys of the Kingdom".
Those to whom the care of the legacy of the keys has been entrusted
gather here, allowing themselves to be enfolded by the Sistine's colours,
by the vision left to us by Michelangelo—
so it was in August, and then in October of the memorable year of the two Conclaves,
and so it will be again, when the need arises
after my death.
Michelangelo's vision must then speak to them.

"Con-clave": a joint concern for the legacy of the keys of the Kingdom.
They will find themselves between the Beginning and the End,
between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment.
It is given to man once to die and after that the judgment!

A final clarity and light.
The clarity of the events—
The clarity of consciences—
It is necessary that during the Conclave, Michelangelo teach them—
Do not forget: Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius.
You who see all—point to him!
He will point him out....

Surreal musical moment:

- hearing Take Five played by traditional Chinese instruments (on a housemate's CD). Think House of Flying Daggers soundtrack, but jazzy and in 5/4. Does not compute... Except it sort of did.

Has anyone other than Dave Brubeck and P.I. Tchaikovsky made 5/4 sound like it makes any sort of sense?

Homosexual Marriage

A "reprint" of an article in L'Osservatore Romano published, belatedly, about a year ago, a commentary on the 2003 CDF document "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons". No-one reads L'Osservatore (because it's very boring) but this is a great article hence posting of it in its entirety here. Maybe a couple more people will read it!

Is marriage just discrimination?

Justice requires that equals be treated equally and unequals unequally. Discrimination is a distinction or the differential treatment based on such a distinction. Whether discrimination is justified depends on the answer to what Aristotle calls "the difficult question": equals and unequals in what? Unjust discrimination either fails to ask the right question or fails to act on the right answer. In contemporary political discourse the term discrimination itself has come to signify injustice. While this reflects the truth that all human beings have equal dignity, simply in virtue of belonging to the human species, it can obscure the fact that human dignity also requires recognition of the truth that, though equal, not everyone is the same. To deny driving licenses to the blind does not assume that they do not deserve equal respect and consideration as persons, but that they are different from other persons in respects relevant to driving.

Some countries have introduced, and others are considering, the extension of the legal recognition and social benefits of marriage to persons in homosexual relationships, in order to "put an end to discrimination". The first and most ambitious argument from discrimination proposes that homosexual relationships are equal to marital relationships in those respects that justify the privileged treatment of marriage.

Exclusivity, dependence, duration and sexual nature are not the relevant aspects why marriage is privileged by the State. They are only the conditions of those aspects that make marriage unique: the vital function of procreation and the socializing functions of bridging the male-female divide and raising children. When the State uniquely privileges marriage it takes the position that it is in the best interest of society for children to be born and raised in a community where they experience the cause of their biological and historical identity as a loving union preserved by each parent placing the needs of others over their own. By promoting marriage to be the exclusive union between one man and one woman, the State not only protects the rights of children, but encourages the values of commitment, restraint and diversity that are needed to preserve community at large.

One objection to this is that not all marriages lead to children. Of course, the State cannot anticipate whether or not couples will have children, but it is clear that only one man and one woman together can be the biological parents of a child and can raise it with the complementarity of motherly and fatherly love. Marital acts are procreative in character even if non-behavioural conditions do not allow for conception. The other objection is that marriages fail, to the detriment of children, spouses, and families at large. But if individual marriages are in crisis, the correct inference cannot be that social policy should institutionalise this failure rather than counter-act it. Through marital benefits the State promotes rather than rewards ideal conditions for procreation and socialisation.

When the State uniquely privileges marriage, homosexual relationships are in no way singled out for "unequal treatment". There are any number of relationships that do not qualify for the benefits of marriage. The question then is why homosexual relationships should be treated as uniquely analogous to marriage. The aspect that differentiates homosexual unions from other non-marital relationships of dependence and duration is their particular sexual nature and it is not clear why this should single them out for governmental support. Preferential treatment of this sort would discriminate against all those in dependent relationships of a non-sexual nature: an unmarried woman who cares for her ageing mother or two widowed sisters that share a household could not claim privileges and protection from the State. In France the perception of this problem has lead to a more liberal model of civil unions, open to any two citizens. Even this model discriminates against some, as it provides no justification why groups or singles should be financially and socially disadvantaged. Crucially, in an open-to-all policy marriage looses the uniquely privileged position it deserves for practical and symbolical reasons. The extension of marriage privileges to non-marital unions inevitably diverts resources, dilutes meaning and diminishes status of marriage as traditionally understood. Rhetorical efforts to maintain some distance between marriage and homosexual unions cannot hide this fact.

A minimalist version of the argument for homosexual unions suggests that with "legal recognition" nothing more is at stake than the formal registration of a social phenomenon. In most cases, though, such "legal recognition" does in fact confer to homosexual relationships privileges previously reserved to marriage. This involves a re-evaluation of what contributes to the common good, how social benefits should be distributed, and what the rights of children are. But even if no benefits and privileges were involved, to single out the social phenomenon of homosexual relationships for formal registration is either arbitrary or it suggests an analogy to the only other legally recognised relationship, which is marriage. In an attempt to justify this analogy, proponents resort to the category of "committed relationships" to describe both homosexual and marital relationships. This falsely suggests that commitment in relationships is worthy of privileges for its own sake, while in fact the privileges promote the vital and social functions of marriage, for which commitment is only the condition. Consequently, for the State to promote a homogenised vision of "committed relationships" amounts to the decision no longer to encourage ideal conditions for procreation and socialisation.

The second argument from discrimination takes a different approach. Now the contention is not that homosexual unions are equal to marriage in relevant aspects but that the disadvantages homosexuals suffer in society ought to be compensated for by conferring marital status to homosexual unions. Because only homosexuals are disadvantaged in this particular way the question whether the State should extend the privileges to other non-marital relationships does not arise. The burden of proof then no longer lies with homosexual unions and their contribution to society in comparison to marriage, but with individual homosexuals and the disadvantages they suffer. Naturally, the argument will encounter less sympathy if these sufferings are in any way self-inflicted - hence the importance of shifting responsibility away from those who share the homosexual identity to others who by their actions allegedly make it oppressive.

The argument from identity often assumes a unique advance in knowledge and understanding of human nature and elevates contemporary perceptions and practices to a normative status. Different perceptions, such as the traditional heterosexual model of marriage envisaged by Plato and Aristotle, are explained by their relation to an inferior understanding of the "facts" about homosexuality. Their objection to homosexuality, based on the notion that homosexuals engage in unnatural and therefore immoral acts, now can be dismissed because we "know" that homosexuality is a "natural condition" and ought to be treated as an "identity". But are these established facts? While so far there is no empirical evidence that homosexuality is biologically predetermined and unchangeable, there seem to be biological factors that can contribute to the development of homosexual inclination, just as there are in the case of aggressiveness or athleticism. However, the claim of a biologically determined and clearly delineated homosexual identity is rendered problematic in theory by Foucault's sexual constructivism and in practice by the bi-sexual and paedophile fringes of the category. Regardless of whether sexual orientation is chosen, biologically determined or psychologically enforced (as it seems to be the case with many victims of abuse), no account of the origins of homosexuality can establish that the inclination must constitute an identity.

Next to the identity claim, the argument for compensation has to rely on the perception that the disadvantages homosexuals face are substantial. In this regard there can be no doubt that the feeling of being ostracized or persecuted among many homosexuals is real, even if the truth of the feeling is increasingly difficult to establish as a truth of fact. Homosexuals enjoy the full protection of the law and in many countries additional anti-discrimination laws are in place that single out sexual orientation for particular protection. Homosexuals enjoy above average professional success and financial power (in the US almost twice the average household income) and are present in high proportion in politics and among opinion shaping elites. This is not to say that homosexuals do not face very real problems, but so far it has been impossible to show that they are related to societal discrimination. The significantly higher rates of mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide among homosexuals seems to be independent not only of HIV status but there is no reduction in these rates among homosexuals that live in a social milieu where homosexuality is widely accepted and legally recognised (T.G.M. Sandforte et al., 2001). If social acceptance does not affect these problems, it is unclear how increased social status could remedy them.

Thin evidence for societal discrimination weakens the compensation argument, as the discrimination which marriage is supposed to compensate for, appears to consist mostly in the fact that homosexuals cannot marry. Because this is true for any number of relationships, the question returns why homosexuals should be singled out for preferential treatment. Here emerges the perhaps most problematic aspect to the compensation argument. If it turns out that the discrimination to be compensated for consists not so much in acts that unjustly discriminate against homosexuals, but simply in the fact that homosexual behaviour is morally controversial, this raises questions of freedom of conscience. Is the introduction of homosexual unions ultimately to symbolise that there is no right to freedom of conscience on the matter of homosexual acts and that conscientious objectors are to be marginalised in public life? Already the appeal to conscience in any matter pertaining to homosexuality risks being dismissed as "homophobia". Understood as a pathological fear this disqualifies the position of opponents as an entirely irrational stance. Beyond that, it has also come to imply an indifferent or even hostile attitude. Because the condemnation of homosexual behaviour objects to acts, not to persons, the conclusion that any opposition to homosexual unions indicates lack of respect and care for people is a blatant non-sequitur. If the line of reasoning is that homosexuality is so central to the human person that it is impossible to morally disapprove of homosexual acts and not thereby discriminate against the person, then by the same token conscientious beliefs central to the human person could not be contradicted without discriminating against the person.

The exhortation that "religious belief must not lead to the discrimination of homosexuals by refusing them the right to marry" sets up a false problem. Not all arguments made by religious believers can be reduced to their religious beliefs, or are justified on the basis of their beliefs alone, and not all the reasons why the State should uniquely privilege marriage depend on the immorality of homosexual acts. The contribution of religious believers to the public debate on homosexual unions cannot be dismissed as inherently irrational and biased without denying them equality as citizens. Moral objections to sexual orientation are not necessarily irrational and it is only unjust to discriminate on the basis of these objections in areas where the sexual orientation of the individual is irrelevant. It cannot be allowed that in political discussion pathological irrationality, bad motives, or even hatred, are freely ascribed to opponents of homosexual unions, disregarding basic rules of evidence. The same is true for the voice of the Catholic Church: Scripture and Tradition are unequivocal in the condemnation of homosexual behaviour but the difference between homosexual relationships and marriage has not been invented by Christianity, nor is it upheld only by Catholics. If in the name of truth rational arguments can be dismissed because they accord with conscientious beliefs, and in the name of justice conscientious belief can be silenced, then freedom is not for all.

R.M.T. Schmid

Babies in Flanders

Does anyone remember a story a year? couple of years? ago about babies being allowed to die or being killed in Holland? Here's (that is, in the title) a report on an article in the Lancet.

Where's the outcry in Brussels? In the papers in general?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ronald Knox on the Offertory

It's all very well for you to point out that the Offertory is only concerned with unconsecrated bread and wine, and that isn't much to get excited about. [...] They may have no great importance of their own at the moment, but they are going to be terrifically important. [...]

Imagine yourself walking through a field of wheat; out in the park, say, by the deer-cote. All those ears of wheat are full of promise; they are going to be something. That particular ear of wheat which is sticking out on the left of the path will be threshed, ground in the mill, baked in the oven, made into a sandwich, and be eaten by someone on a railway journey; that is the destiny which is shaping itself inside that particular set of little husks. Now look at the ear of wheat which is sticking out on the right of the path. That one will be threshed, ground in the mill - the same mill, baked in the oven - no, not in the same oven, or at any rate, not in the same batch; there will be no baking powder this time. Then it will be pressed by a Carmelite nun in a press which will give it the imprint of the crucifix; it will be sent off in a tin to the sacristan of some church; it will lie on the altar, some Latin words will be said over it, and after that it will be lifted up in a gold monstrance and everybody who passes in front of it will go down on both knees... It's the same with the chalice, only, of course, we aren't so familiar with the process of making wine. That cluster over there will find its way into a bottle of ordinary wine; somebody will drink it over his dinner; get drunk on it, perhaps, and come to blows, and be sent to prison. That other cluster will find its way into a bottle of altar wine, will be consecrated, will be drunk by a priest, and bring him just he grace he needed to resist that temptation, to rise to that height of sanctity. And yet the two clusters grew side by side in the same vineyard, long ago.

So what the priest is doing at the altar [in reading the Offertory] is to separate, to earmark, this particular lump of wheat, this particular dose of grape-juice, for a supernatural destiny. And that, of course, is just what is happening to you and me all the time. Sooner or later we shall die, and that moment of death will be, please God, our Consecration; we shall be changed into something different, be given a spiritual body in place of our natural body, and live praising God among the Saints to all eternity. What we are doing now, all the time, is to make of our lives an Offertory to Almighty God; to separate them, set them apart for him, so that when death comes it may be our Consecration. And that is why the pious books will tell you, at the Offertory, to put yourself in imagination on the paten, between the priest's hands. You at the moment, your body at the moment, is something ridiculously cheap and unimportant; open one artery of it, choke up the air-passage for a few minutes, and it is done for; it will be buried away in the ground and rot there. That's what it is; but the point is not what it is but what it's going to be. Please God, when it has been consecrated as he means it to be consecrated - and he has all that planned out for you and me already - it is going to be a glowing focus of his praise, a mirror which will reflect his uncreated loveliness, for all eternity.

The Mass in Slow Motion cap. vi

A bit last week, but still mildly amusing

U.N. Population Chief Lectures Vatican

Thoraya Obaid, the head of the U.N. Population Fund, admonished the Vatican today to change its teachings on condoms. Speaking of the need for the Catholic Church to endorse condom use, she said, “We are hoping the new pope will take this message further, because it makes no sense sending people to their death.” She urged the Church to adopt a “morally correct decision” on how to stop HIV.

Catholic League president William Donohue spoke to this issue today:

“Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know about the alleged wonders of condoms? Yet, it is indisputably true that as condom use has increased, so have sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). This is not to say that condom use causes STD’s, but it is to say that condom use has not prevented the explosion in STD’s. And this is because the same culture that prizes sexual license—in all its expressions—is morally incapable of sending a message of restraint.

“If Thoraya Obaid is truly concerned about HIV in Africa, she should get the U.N. to endorse the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters sexual. That is because the only real success story on that continent is Uganda, a nation that has tailored its anti-HIV strategy to the wisdom of Catholic sexual ethics. According to Edward C. Green, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, ‘basic behavioral changes in Uganda of 1987-95 have kept HIV prevalence declining up until now.’ The reason why the progress that has been made is now in jeopardy has more to do with dropping the emphasis on abstinence, he says, in exchange for a more condom-centered approach.

“Obaid is not only wrong on the issue, she is wrong on the cause of deaths due to AIDS. It is near impossible for anyone to die of AIDS (save for a blood transfusion) who follows the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality. It is not the Catholic Church that is causing Africans to die—or is responsible for a new strain of HIV among homosexuals in New York City—it is behavioral recklessness.”

Reason for not doing huge open-air Masses

It's just asking for trouble. I hope the buyer is a shocked Catholic on a rescue mission. I am going to send this to the liturgy Congregation. From Fr Sibley. There is a long discussion in the comments box. As I said there, I wonder if would be possible to get the force of law behind this kind of thing in general, "those found taking a Host from the church will be prosecuted" sort of thing. Am no lawyer.

I think a few people would be discouraged from taking Our Lord away if they first had to take Him from their mouths. What was the NY parish with six-foot bouncers? "Consume the Host!"

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Assisted Suicide Bill

Only a few days left to email submissions for the consultation on the proposed Assisted Suicide Bill at Holyrood - deadline 15th April.

Monday, April 11, 2005

"Catholic" priests in Scotland

A "poll" of just eighty people is not worth much. But a shame for those twenty who support contraception. And the women-ordainers. Was there a distinction made between ordaining the married and marrying the ordained?

"Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith." (Munificentissimus Deus)

Salus Populi Romani - Ora Pro Nobis

Here is a fine invocation with which to conclude your recitation of the Golden Sequence. I'm sure in some sense one can say "Civis Romanus sum" and so call upon Our Blessed Lady's patronage under this title. (In his commentary on Thessalonians St Thomas says the Empire is not fallen but spiritualized).

Sunday, April 10, 2005

This is handy

Some evangelical Protestants have set up a database on how MPs have voted on issues like abortion. Note that Scottish constituency boundaries have been redrawn; check your constituency here.


A Dominican sensibly suggests that it would be a good idea to make a novena to the Holy Spirit for the conclave, using the Golden Sequence (chant notation also on this site, for those better at sight-reading than me).

Wee Frees get in on the act

I must say I prefer this to the endless stream of 'lovely man, shame about the dogma' comments. And the notion that the Vatican could be bothered to offend the British monarchy is rather amusing.

Mind you, I'm surprised he's not more unimpressed with the hotch-potch civil-cum-CofE royal 'wedding.' (Must admit that Mrs P-B's hats were rather nice, though.)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Schoenborn for pope?

(The Tablet, 17 April 2004)

In 1996 he noted that the use of the condom in given situations could be the lesser evil, and on women’s ordination said “we are not at the end of the debate”

Nor is Schönborn as rigid as his Balthasarian desire for a “clear Catholic identity” might suggest.

Although he has not said much about either since, in 1996 he noted that the use of the condom in given situations could be the lesser evil, and on women’s ordination said “we are not at the end of the debate” despite the Pope’s “clear” teaching on the matter.

And in 1999 he surprised many people by telling a concerned Protestant in a letter that anyone who in good conscience can say “Amen” to the eucharistic prayer of the Mass may take communion in a Catholic church. This “simple little rule”, he said, could always be applied when in doubt. (He was annoyed with The Tablet when we described his statement in a headline as a “radical statement on intercommunion”; it was not radical at all, he explained in a letter to the editor. But it did go much further than the English and Welsh bishops’ 1998 stipulations in One Bread, One Body that non-Catholics can receive Catholic Eucharist only when there was a pressing need.)

Oooh, venom

Hee hee, Tolly Poynbee froths at the mouth. na na na na na.

Ahem. Sorry about that.

No, wait, there's more.

Recent Chinese Martyrs

From the Angry Twins.

Loads of pictures

This kind of thing doesn't happen with Roman vestments.

I give up, go and look them up yourselves.

Pictures of the translation, (?), military stuff especially for the Americans who pass through this blog, actual burial.

Replacement for the Tablet - if only . . .

Wouldn't it have been great?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pro eligendo summo pontifice

Supplici, Domine, humilitate deposcimus: ut sacrosanctae Romanae Ecclesiae concedat Pontíficem illum tua immensa pietas; qui et pio in nos studio semper tibi placitus, et tuo populo pro salubri regímine sit assidue ad gloriam tui nominis reverendus. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium Tuum, qui Tecum vivit et regnat, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, in humble supplication, to bestow in Thy great mercy upon the Holy Roman Church a Pontiff whose piety and zeal for our welfare will be pleasing to Thee, and who will merit constant veneration, to the glory of The name, by his sound governance of Thy people.

We ask this through Thy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The above translation is published without permission from an email forwarded to me by someone who received the original email. It is supposed to be published somewhere, however I think the translator and publisher will all be chiefly interested in getting prayed by as many folk as poss.

More PL photos

Fishermen's Mass by the sea. Definitely worth looking through these photos (just don't think about what could have happened to the Blessed Sacrament if there had been a big wave and the priest had slipped or wobbled). Click on the numbers in the boxes on the left to see the different piccies.

Miners waiting to see the Holy Father's remains, two days ago.

People watching the funeral in the palace square.

Here is that salute. I am on the far side of the guns, slightly behind them and about three people away from the crowd barrier.

Bialystok, where Justyna Kru. is from. Outside the "farny" church - should someone have a Polish medieval ecclesiastical historian office-mate, that person could perhaps find out what a "kosciol farny" is.

Go to www.google.pl and look at the bottom of the page.

Pope's funeral in Warsaw

The city streets are almost completely empty. In the palace square, outside the cathedral on the east bank and on plac Pilsudskiego, where the Pope spoke on his first pilgrimage to Poland as Pope, huge screens and PA systems have been set up. Some churches also had "screenings" of the funeral.

At the last minute I decided not to iron my ancestor's shirts in front of the TV, and caught a tram to the centre. Sirens went off all over the city at the beginning of the funeral, from buildings and emergency vehicles. Don't know how many people were on Plac Pilsudskiego, but most of them seemed to be trying to shove in front of me in the first two minutes of the Mass, but I managed to see most of it some of the time. This open square backs on to a large park, and at the point where the two meet is the tomb of the unkown soldier. As we watched the Holy Father's coffin being taken into the basilica, the double row of soldiers that had marched in front of the tomb during the offertory (as I remember) presented arms. Then an amplified voice announced the tribute of the Polish Army to Pope John Paul II, and they let off a 21 (or more, I counted 26, could that be right?) salute. The ground shook, my ears were ringing after the first few shots, these were big guns like cannons and were maybe fifty metres away.

Then a priest or bishop read from Jn 6, and said a few entirely appropriate words, and led us (brave man) in singing a song the HF was apparently tres keen on, leaving one's boat on the shore and going on a new fishing trip, "for You, o Lord, have called my name". And we all went home. I took special fried rice from a Vietnamese noodle hut, and conducted a private wake for the HF in front of more great stuff on the TV.

Another journalist doesn't get it

Apparently he writes about religion professionally. I often think I should be employed as at least the Catholic Consultant to some major broadsheet, to save them from this kind of waste of space.

Streets of John Paul II

Aleje Jan Pawla II-go, Thursday night. The longest monument in the world (four and half kilometres.) The night before I took a different tram home so as to go along this street: on both sides, and in the middle by the tram tracks, and unbroken line of vigil lights of all colours. More pictures here.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Ballad to Our Lady of Czestochowa


Lady and Queen and Mystery manifold
And very regent of the untroubled sky,
Whom in a dream Saint Hilda did behold
And heard a woodland music passing by:
You shall receive me when the clouds are high
With evening and the sheep attain the fold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Steep are the seas and savaging and cold
In broken waters terrible to try;
And vast against the winter night the wold,
And harbourless for any sail to lie.
But You shall lead me to the lights, and I
Shall hymn You in a harbour story told.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

Help of the half-defeated, House of gold,
Shrine of the Sword, and Tower of Ivory;
Splendour apart, supreme and aureoled,
The Battler's vision and the Word's reply.
You shall restore me, O my last Ally,
To vengeance and the glories of the bold.
This is the faith that I have held and hold,
And this is that in which I mean to die.

- Hilaire Belloc

Holy Father's last breath

(Part of a sermon given in the last day or few by the Rev.Tadeusz Styczeń, director of the JPII Institute of the Catholic University of Lublin, in Lublin. His doctoral thesis director and overseer of his habilitation was Karol Wojtyla. Fr Styczen was present at the Holy Father's death bed.)My translation done with a hatchet. In self-defence, the original is not great.

At the moment of the Holy Father’s death I noticed a remarkable change. So recently the great pain on his face. The burden of equipment that was to help prolong his life. He, who sees his faithfulness to the Father in service, but in that service no-one having the right to shorten his road of suffering to the Father. I saw as he raised his exhausted hands. Did he not ask the Father, “If this really suffices, then perhaps let those who care for me know also this, that I may give up my life, and not hold on to it, that You are He Who determines.

And those hands which the sufferring pope looked at and raised, as if he were crying “Do not separate me from God, from my Creator, do not keep me from Him who is the symbol of the good shephed, because I want to be to the end according to the measure measured by my Father.”

The face of the sufferer appeared suddenly as the face of one smiling, leaning towards the pillow, which looked – how can I put it? – like a lamb or sheep, and smiling passed away. No-one dared to intervene, the compulsory procedures could wait. I couldn’t stand it. I had in my pocket two rosaries, I touched the hands, and was gently told, that it wasn’t allowed, that the body must now undergo treatment that was immediately carried out discretely, but in accordance with the regulations. But I still saw – and I think the sisters, the nursing sister, read better than I – that smile, which seemed not to die, but remained alive, more and more eloquent. [unfinished and untranslatable sentence]. [rest of paragraph maybe I’ll do later]

[another paragraph about crowds in the piazza]

His face, the face of some person completely different from that who he was a day earlier, two days earlier. Many days earlier, when in his chapel after many years I sang again the Exultet, that hymn of the happy fault that brought about the coming fo the Redeemer. I was asked to sing it in Latin. The Holy Father could still hear it all and was very visibly pleased.

[some other reflection stuff]

[original in Rzeczpospolita)

Hey look at this

Originally uploaded by berenike.
I got sent this by a recruitment agency, believe it or not, with the following message.

Oto promyk dla Jana Pawła Drugiego. . . . W tych trudnych chwilach powinniśmy go wspierać modlitwą. Pamiętaj o tym.

This is a light for John Paul II. (Pass it on.) In these difficult times we should support him with prayer. Don't forget about this.

Okay, the guy who works there is the boyfriend of a friend. Still.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Not about the Holy Father

as far as I know. Rather a happy report: my temperamental laptop emerged from one of its periodical comas yesterday, for long enough to extract some important stuff that hadn't been backed up (I know, I know - another copy of the document was on the magic USB-port widget, but the hard disk copy had acquired a vital addition to a footnote...) - after praying over it the collect for the time of cattle plague. Which makes sense when you read it. Now had better 'phone up computer folk and tell them they can wipe the hard drive if they must, while performing their surgery...
Deus, qui laboribus hominum, etiam de mutis animalibus solatia subrogasti: supplices te rogamus; ut, sine quibus non alitur humana conditio, nostris facias usibus non perire. Per Dominum...

O God, who even by means of dumb animals dost lessen the toil of man, we most humbly beseech Thee, suffer us not to lack the use of these creatures, without which we must cease to be. Through our Lord...

Thanks to EJ for pointing out that it is applicable to creatures other than cattle, and thanks above all to God for saving me again from my folly (which would be an impossible task if He were not He).

Yet more HF stuff

Kathy Shaidle has oodles of good links. Another worth-reading column from the Telegraph.

John Allen's Conclave. Lots of people are mentioning it. Well, it's interesting reading for the process itself. But don't rely on his cardinal sketches. Test it and see: reading it last autumn, I looked up mine, and giggled. Absolutely no idea where he got the description from. Maybe he, like the pope, thought the other chap got the red hat . . .

Warsaw yesterday.

There is an internet campaign for people to light votive lights along every street named after JPII in Poland (there are many!)tomorrow night. Yesterday they did it already in Warsaw.

Apparently some millions of Poles are planning to go to Rome for the funeral. People stood in Warsaw central station for up to 20 hours yesterday to buy tickets for the four extra trains that have been put on from Warsaw to Rome. The newspapers are publishing guides to DIY driving trips, including how to book parking through the internet.

I can see why people want to go, but now that it's become evident that there will be a silly number of people trying to squash in, is it not better to go to Mass close to home and then watch the TV? I assume even the Wicked Aunt will broadcast the papal funeral. You can always switch off the commentary and find a radio station with a better one.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Other stuff on the HF

Katie Grant on the woman-in-the-pew (and man). Worth a read.

Another thingummy (Scotland on Sunday): more predictable.

Timothy Garton-Ash in the Guardian.

Juszczenko announces national mourning in the Ukraine on Friday: Romania will also be in mourning. Rzeczpospolita

Now I have no time left to prepare my lessons for tomorrow. Pants.

Polska w żałobie

The national Mass for the HF this evening in Warsaw (click on the photos to enlarge them). I saw the crowds coming down another street on their way back from the Mass: from side to side a solid stream of bodies.

Not sure if I can get that link to work. In any case, lots of photos here.

Catholic Scotland mk ii

Scotia is no Poland, but still: 2500, reportedly, at the Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday evening. The Mass was not, despite reports, a Requiem Mass, but the Mass of the Annunciation, including some prayers for the repose of the Pope's soul. It was packed, hearteningly - your correspondent was outside, which was fine in terms of hearing and seeing (good job with screens and loudspeakers), but very cold indeed. (As usual the difficulty of bearing a paltry amount of suffering is alas disproportionately great, and emphasises the late Holy Father's recent wonderful witness.)

It was, interestingly, made a very Establishment occasion - Jack McConnell, Alex Salmond, Alastair Darling, Nicola Sturgeon; the deputy Lord Provost (the man himself being in America for Tartan Week - sigh); Rev Finlay MacDonald from the Kirk (the Moderator being in Poland - must be interesting for her), two Piskie bishops and people from other religions too. This reflects two good things, I think - obviously, the immense impact which John Paul II has had upon the world, which cannot be unrecognised by anyone; and also the decline in active anti-Catholicism in Scotland: it is not unacceptable for the establishment to be associated with the Church. On the other hand, I suspect there are two somewhat negative factors at work - firstly, blanket enthusiasm of political figures for publicly paying tribute to famous good people, and for publicly empathising with grief; and secondly the secularisation in Scotland which means that folk just don't bother about Catholicism one way or t'other. Not that the former is bad as such; I don't mean that I think this is an electioneering ploy. However, it seemed to me that the Mass acquired a flavour as much of being a Scottish-establishment-shows-solidarity-with-Catholics evening as of being a great prayer for the Pope's soul (and perhaps consideration of the happy possibility that he's the one who's praying for us now). Hmm, suspect am saying this, however, out of increasing paranoia that the only way in which it is now acceptable for people to relate to each other is by feeling each other's pain, and am not sure this is a good place to start - one cannot rely on either feelings or demonstrations of feelings to make oneself or society act with charity and justice.
Though a complete inability to feel other's pain is a very bad sign too.

Anyway, not the time to rant. It wasn't, as I said, a Requiem; and I suppose that Jack McConnell's wee speech wasn't likely to be variations on the theme of Dona ei requiem, and what he said was generally rather decent (except for the odd line, 'he led the Church with a consistency of purpose, but also with humanity and understanding': why the 'but'?). And just before the final blessing there was read most of the address which the Pope gave to the young people of Scotland in 1982, which was very good. And the choir sang beautifully (one of the hymns being the wonderful Sweet Sacrament Divine). And the atmosphere outside, though chilly in temperature, was very reverent in character. And of course Our Lord was there in the Most Blessed Sacrament!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Deo gratias pro Johannis Pauli II pontificatu

Requiem Mass this evening at 7.30pm in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Tridentine Requiem Mass at 6 Belford Park, Edinburgh, tomorrow, 6pm.

Most British media coverage will doubtless not merit the paper/airtime/webspace that's devoted to it, but it is worth reading Katie Grant's column in today's Scotsman for the thoughts of a self-described 'modern Catholic in the secular West.'
'Where outsiders, and even some in our own church, saw authoritarianism, many of us saw certainty, and although he did not try to make life easy for us - no movement on birth control, no moral loopholes to slide through - we were left with one over-riding impression, which was that John Paul searched harder and more openly than almost any previous pope, not for popularity or for respect, but for truth. [... W]e knew that under John Paul II nothing was done or said without being tested, not for sectarian advantage, but to keep us on the right path to God.'

Lux aeterna luceat ei, Domine : Cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine : et lux perpetua luceat ei : Cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine

Saturday, April 02, 2005

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Ioanni Paulo.

R. Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Reasons to like Glasgow

(Pause for astonishment at such a thing...)
(only joking)

The Herald today is about the only paper to avoid the deeply dull story of Prince Charles getting a bit riled, and instead puts the Holy Father and Terri Schiavo on the front page. There's a wee box explaining what the Sacrament of Anointing is (so it was printed before the Vatican said that the Pope had received Viaticum?). And there's quite a sensible article about the Crusades, which (despite the headline) is not 'Christians bad, Muslims good', but takes the more reasonable line that it was all quite complicated and a great many people did not behave honourably.

This business of 'Last Rites': is the term used correctly to mean anointing, confession and viaticum all together? The Herald, CNN and the Beeb seem to be using it to mean anointing alone, although earlier the BBC was using it for viaticum (but the story has now changed). I vaguely thought 'Last Rites' were the whole deal covered in the handy Ars Moriendi, not just one bit of it.

Anyway. Praying is of more use than flapping over media's and own confusion.

Pictures of the HF

and of folk praying for him. I think I need to join Surfers' Anonymous, I definitely have a problem with surfing to avoid the little difficulties of life.


Is this true? Has anyone heard about this from anywhere other than the Catholic Truth people?
The Catholic Truth website (go there at your own risk, the fonts and the writing hurt the eyes and the head, but there are some facts in the fog of abuse) claims to have gotten hold (scroll down to "Catholic Newspapers Censorship Policy") of a document outlining a new Gabriel Communications editorial policy. Gabriel Communications publish the Catholic Times and the Universe.
  • 'Following a recent directors' meeting, it is now formally Gabriel policy that all of our publications are 100 per cent supportive of the Catholic hierarchy and clergy. This means a shift in our editorial policy, which will now seek to present exclusively a positive and constructive picture of the Catholic Church in the UK and Ireland, as it passes through difficult and challenging times. Where negative news does require reporting, this will be done in conjunction with the Church and its relevant representatives, in order to minimize negative pastoral consequences and to sustain the faith of our readers. This decision has been made following some 12 months of discussion and debate, and for very considered theological and practical reasons.'

Tricky quiz

Eighteen out of twenty, but I think my "wrongs" were entirely justifiable.

Freudian slip in that latter half of the sentence, probably. . .

Yay, a conversion story!

Someone somewhere a while back posted a link to someone's conversion story, in which among other things the writer talked about things that were surprisingly similar in Catholics and Evangelicals. He said that Catholics love conversion stories possibly even more than Evangelicals do. Anyway, here's one.

Mind and brain

A wee thought on the above subject. See also St Thomas on the subsistence of the soul. (ST 1 75.2: Latine) I have been giving the story of Mike the Headless Wonder Chicken (though from a paper, not this web version) to all my pupils this week, and have been wondering what the chicken "thought" as he ambled about with no head. "Hey, it's gone all dark and quiet!"? I know chickens don't think, but you see what I mean. Possibly.

Bible according to Children

I read this a few years ago when one of my mother's pupil's (where does the apostrophe go there?) mothers brought a copy to our house.