Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Oliver Update.

Sir Oliver Badcat put us all in a spin on Christmas Eve. I had some people in for a glass of something sparking in the mid afternoon and just as they were getting ready to go Oliver came down the stairs looking very sorry for himself, his head on one side, ear pealed back and making an appalling high pitched screaming noise. He was very obviously in a lot of pain. There was a really disgusting brown gunge coming from his ear. He looked me straight in the eyes pleadingly as if to say " Please do something".

It could not have been at a worse moment. Anyway after some ridiculous trouble with a wire free phone whose battery was flat, and a mobile with no signal, I got hold of a very kindly vet who is a member of our congregation and he arranged for Oliver to be seen even though it was now 4pm on Christmas Eve.

It turns out that Oliver had been fighting! Another cat got his claw quite deep into his ear and pierced the flesh deeply and embedded something nasty under the skin which then festered.

Anyway Badcat's now on antibiotics and painkillers. After a few days of mooching around and sleeping a lot he is getting back on form again. He went mousing last evening and the temperature was minus 4.5! He's sitting on my lap as I type and probably getting ready for his usual trick of walking along the keyboard, deleting everything I've written.

Church Flowers.

A few months ago an appeal went out for people to volunteer to "do" the church flowers. One or two of the ladies who had been very active had for one reason or another to cut back, ( growing families, advancing years). For some reason, ( my guardian angel has an ironic sense of humour, I sometimes think), I volunteered! I was not the only man. The rota for the new year popped through my door this morning. It now seems that it will be spilt fairly evenly between men and women. I think this could get interesting.

I heard a story recently about days past at the London Oratory. On great feasts, like Christ the King, the sanctuary was crowded with potted plants, mainly ferns and palms, and flowers donated especially for the occasion by parishioners, great and small. At High Mass after the deacon and sub-deacon had assisted the celebrant with the incensing of the altar the sub-deacon came down to incense the clergy attending in choir. Such was the proliferation of foliage that when he had finally located the high ranking prelate he sought he greeted him sotto voce, " Dr. Livingstone I presume".
I will resist the temptation to go over board.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Last Minute Gift Idea.

For the person who has everything.....A Pope Pius Clock with each of the twelve popes of that name in their proper order. I think I want one.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Friday, 21 November 2008

Newly discovered blogs.

I know I have not been posting much lately but I've been reading other people's blogs.

Here's a new one to me Joe Versus the Volcano.

There are some interesting musings on St. Francis and Chesterton, and on Dorothy L. Sayers and the act of creation, among other things. Oh and he likes cats, indeed he describes himself as " the domestic servant of two cats".

Friday, 14 November 2008


There will be a sung Requiem in the Classical Roman Rite for Cardinal Reginald Pole in the chapel of Magdalen College, Oxford, on Monday evening next, (17th), at 7pm. He was of course the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury and one of the originators of the Council of Trent.

It has been brought to my attention that there is also a Sung Requiem for the cardinal at the Birmingham Oratory at 7.30pm.

There are a number of Masses organised for this evening for the cardinal details to be found on the LMS website. I specifically mentioned the Magdalen one because Cardinal Reginald Pole was a member of the college for a number of years and took his B.A. there.


A friend of mine is a member, ( non active) of the Chicken Liberation Movement. This has nothing to do with south American Jesuits but rather liberates chickens from battery farms and finds homes for them. I have just spent a whole afternoon chasing two cockerels round and round his garden so that they can be "re homed". They were liberated a few weeks ago and he took them on along with about a dozen female chickens. They were making so much noise that, even though he is well away from other houses, his neighbours threatened to get a petition together. Apparently the crowing started at about 5 each morning. Chickens are stupid and only just intelligent enough to escape your grasp again and again, and again. I should say that my helping to catch the cockerels was by way of payback for The Hound having killed one of his geese!

Now before any of you chicken lovers gets upset I should say that I am very concerned for animal welfare and appalled at what we do to God's creatures in the name of cheap food. I like eating chicken but will only buy proper free range birds. It is therefor an occasional treat rather than a staple. I buy a whole bird and joint it myself, ( this takes 5mins) and this will do for several days and the bits and bobs make divine stock. It's the only way to go where chickens are concerned.

Cartoons via Fr. Z.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Cats and Nuns.

I remember reading a newspaper article some years ago about a Orthodox convent in Greece where the nuns regard it as their religious duty to give shelter and sustenance to any cats that come their way and who found a women suffering from amnesia washed up on a beach near their convent. She had an immediate rapport with the cats so they allowed her to stay in the convent for as long as she wished. I cut it out of the newspaper but lost it of course; I don't know if there were any subsequent developments.

But now I've come across this Carmelite convent in Italy where the good nuns breed Maine Coon cats commercially as a means of generating an income for their community. The cats are superb and they even have a gym...

There are lots of photographs of cats, cats and even more cats....

That one is a world champion.

Ahh, yes life really is better with cats....even a very Badcat.

Ear twitch to Orbis Catholicvs.

The cats are here...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I could not resist posting this:

What are churches for?

We have recently had our little church redecorated. While this was going on we decided to take the opportunity to rationalise the notice boards. Our church is tiny. The attendance at the single weekly Mass varies widely between 45 and 80, rising to about 115 at Christmas and Easter. Yet we had six (6!) notice boards, two of them almost the size of a normal door. And they were always full. The photographs are not of our boards but give the idea. In our village of 2,000 people there is an official village notice board in a prominent position, two external boards and several internal ones at the Anglican Church, which every one has to walk past, two at the post office, another at the car park, and several at the village shop.

So I was a little surprised at the reaction of some people to our decision to have one notice board in the entrance porch, ( behind the door) and two more at the back of the church proper. Comments ranged from "It's not just about having a neat and tidy church it also about communicating with one another and being welcoming", or " Yes I know it looked untidy from the street but at least people knew there was a lot going on in the village", "We can't just confine it to a few notices about Catholic things, can we?".
There is definitely an English disease which we might call Noticitis. I am convinced that if we were to cover the entire back wall of the church in cork it would be completely covered with fluttering paper by the end of the week. Why?

Not everyone thought it was a bad idea to cut back the notices and it is not exactly splitting the congregation down the middle, but I just thought it brought to the surface some very interesting conceptions of what the church was for.

To me the church is where I come to worship God and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and also the place where we are privileged to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a sanctuary of peace and calm, where one can go to pray quietly.

But it seems to me that we have replaced those things that were thought of as traditionally Catholic, processions, devotions, exposition, stations of the cross, confraternities, etc with an endless succession of good causes, social justice issues and environmental campaigns. Having jettisoned those things which made us feel good about the state of our souls it seems we still need ways of appeasing our consciences.

Just me rambling really

Monday, 27 October 2008

Well it might work.....

I also found the above image via the Oxford LMS rep.'s blog.

A Riposte to Dr. Dawkins.

I don't really know what all the fuss is about Dawkins. I have read two of his books. They are exceedingly dull, operating at a very low level of intellectual argument. The man IS a fraud.
I found the above picture on the net but I can remember where, but I thought it worth reposting it.

Oxford Martyrs.

On Saturday I tootled over the hills, through misty autumn sunshine to the city of dreaming spires to honour the memories of four Catholic men who died for their faith in 1589. Fr. George Nichols, Fr. Richard Yaxley, Thomas Belson and Humphrey Pritchard were arrested in the inn known as the Catherine Wheel and eventually sentenced to death. They were hanged, drawn and quartered on what is now the busy junction of Holywell street and Longwall Street.

They were very gruesomely put to death, first Fr. Nichols and then Fr. Yaxley, who embraced his brother priest's body before being put to death himself. They were verbally abused and taunted by the crowd and even after dismemberment had their disembodied heads, which were impaled on the nearby castle wall, disfigured by zealots. The last to be executed was Prichard who was a simple serving man. As he mounted the scaffold he called out, "I call you all to witness, in the presence of God and his holy angels, that I am a Catholic and that I am condemned to die for the confession of the Catholic faith; I die willingly."

The Mass was exceedingly beautiful and was probably the first Solemn High Mass to be offered in Blackfriars since the liturgical changes. It was also exceptionally well attended. I arrived at 10.20am for an 11.00 start. The church was already half full. By 10.45 am they were putting out the plastic chairs and even then at least 30 had to stand. It was very notable that there were many young people and a wide spread of social and ethnic backgrounds. The Mass setting was Victoria's Missa trahe me post te and we had Tallis' Salvador Mundi, sacerdotes Domini by Palestrina and a polyphonic Salve Regina also by Victoria. This and the proper was sung by a choir called Cantores Missae, which was apparently drawn from several professional choirs. In terms of the rubrics not everything was perfect. That pesky gospel procession went wrong, ( as it did at the Cardinal's Mass at Westminster), on a number of occasions both deacon and subdeacon did things at the wrong time, and the servers left the sanctuary during the singing of the Salve. I'm not sure anyone really minded; it was such a special and moving occasion. We all knew why we were there.

The Mass was followed by a procession to the site of the martyrdom where a plaque was blessed by Bishop Kenney, who had earlier given a quite hard hitting homily at Mass which it would be unfair of my to try and paraphrase. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was given back at Blackfriars.

I did not stay for the procession or benediction. Parking in Oxford is HORRIBLE! Having got a parking ticket for being three, (3!), minutes late on a recent occasion, I wanted to take no chances. On arrival in Oxford I went to the underground car park beneath the bus station, five minutes walk from Blackfriars. It charged more than £3 an hour, the machines accepted only coins and you could not pay with a card. Back to St. Giles' where it is 2Hrs no return, I thought I remembered it was three. The streets of Oxford are patrolled by literally swarms of traffic demons issuing tickets at the slightest opportunity. After Mass having tried to move the car, not finding a space, and ending up a a maze of one way streets I gave up and went home.

Christmas is coming....

St. Michael's Abbey at Farnborough has a very nice selection of Christmas cards. They are designed and printed by the community and I think they are just the right kind of thing: simple, tasteful, restrained in colour, very much in the style of woodcuts and redolent of monastic tradition. And quite a few have Latin inscriptions. Ideal for keeping the real festive spirit alive.

You can order them on line at the Abbey Shop which also has a great selection of books incl., Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described by Fortescue et al., at a reduced price.

I was pleased to note the following, " we have been inundated by by requests for books, altar cards, and other items associated with the 1962 Missale Romanum".

Here's a link to the shop:

Saturday, 18 October 2008

By Way of Contrast.

Apparently a group of 25 women, including some who seem to believe that they have had themselves ordained, marched on the Vatican chanting " Ordain Women NOW!!". They wanted to present a petition but there was nobody available to accept it so they ended up giving it to one of the Swiss Guards.

I've just been out for a walk with The Hound.

A Sight to Gladden the Heart.

I wish I had seen this photograph when I heard a priest recently preach on the need to accept that the church of the future would be without priests because there were no young men coming forward. He regarded this " fact" as the work of the Holy Spirit in shaping the church. We the laity are apparently to run things from here on. The one thing he did not suggest is that we should pray, and pray hard, that we may be sent priests, and that young, and not so young, men will give themselves to Christ.

That's the FSSP anniversary celebrations in Rome BTW.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

For anyone following the interesting events unfolding around the plans to re inter Cardinal Newman in the Oratory at Birmingham and anyone thinking about attending the special Mass to be celebrated there on Sunday November 2nd there is now a website through which you can keep up to date.

Please note that it is necessary to have a ticket to attend the main Mass and that these, ( one for each person attending), can be applied for through the website, or the form downloaded and posted.
The website is as follows

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Brideshead Moment.

Our little church is to be redecorated starting tomorrow morning. So this morning after Mass we set about putting away anything movable. The tabernacle was emptied and the sanctuary lamp put out. All the statues, candles, flowers, hymnals and even the large crucifix above the altar were removed.

It was quite moving. Within half an hour it had been transformed from God's house into just a oddly shaped building. I think it brought home to several of us how very privileged we are to have the Blessed Sacrament present amongst us.

That time of year.

I had to go to Worcester the other day. I'm a complete scatterbrain; I needed to retax the car but had lost the logbook, so I had to go in person to the DVLA! I stopped on the way back and snapped this picture.

Freshly ploughed earth, turning leaves and Autumn sunshine on the Malverns. It was icily cold. I almost froze to the spot. When I got back in the car the thermometer was reading an outside temperature of only 3.C

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Splendid English Choral Music at Tetbury.

As part of the Tetbury Music Festival there will be a concert tomorrow evening, Sunday October 5th, at 5.00pm in the parish church, ( Anglican). It will feature the very highly regarded Gabrielli Consort conducted by Paul McCreesh, singing a selection of religious music with a strong emphasis on that remarkable generation of composers of the late Catholic period in England. The programme explores the ideas around pilgrimage as a metaphor for the souls journey into the afterlife. Along with some chant, In Paradisum, Ave Maris Stella, the programme includes the following: In Ora Mortis Nostra, by Thomas Tallis, Ave Maria by Robert Parsons, Christe qui Lux es et Dies, by Byrd, Media Vita Morte Sumus, and In Pace in Idipsum both by John Sheppard. It then moves on to more modern pieces with similar themes: a Nunc Dimittis by Holst, ( written for Easter at Westminster Cathedral in 1925), Take him Earth for Cherishing by Howells, Song for Athene by Taverner,( familiar from Princess Diana's funeral) and the lovely Hymn to the Virgin by Britten, ( written when he was only sixteen).
The Gabrelli Consort is one for the really top rank of professional choirs singing today and have made numerous recordings, including several liturgical reconstructions, but I have always found their style to be very full bodied and fairly robust, and it is certainly interesting to hear this great music sung in this way. I am sure there are still a few tickets to be had from the tourist office in Tetbury tel. 01666 503552 or from the door in advance on the day.
Two things to note, they do actually light all the candles in the chandeliers which is lovely, and secondly the box pews are without doubt the most uncomfortable I even had the misfortune to sit in for long. The seats in the balconies are a little better but the acoustic is not so good.

Architecturally Tetbury church is very interesting in being an example of the very early Gothic revival, creating a large open space with very high open arcades. The Victorians could not cope with it and inserted a chancel screen and reredos which were ripped out some time towards the end of the 20th century. The chancel is now rather bare with a free standing table altar and some chairs in a line along the flat east end. I might be wrong but I have a feeling they may have copied this from the Catholics, ( just a thought).

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Petition against extending the Abortion Act to Northern Ireland.

I have been asked to publicise the following and am more than happy to do so:

New Mass Location.

As and from October 9th., Mass in the Extraordinary Form will be offered each Thursday at 6.00pm in St. Gregory's Church, St. James' Square in the centre of Cheltenham. The location could not be more convenient and there is ample parking nearby. ( Do it legally! Cheltenham is a writhing pit of venomous parking attendants.)
I think it is very nice to see the Traditional Mass returning to the main Catholic Church in the town. Things are already pretty good there; last time I attended the N.O. Sunday Mass the whole congregation sang the ordinary completely in Latin.

There will be no Mass on October 30th, but will resume on November 6th.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Catholic Oxfordshire.

There is a really super article over on New Liturgical Movement about the Catholic Houses of Oxfordshire, You need to scroll down to find the post.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The nights are drawing in.

You know that Autumn is well advanced when you see a scene like this....

Sunday, 21 September 2008

One for Mulier Fortis.

In the village where I live there is a pair of " Spectacle Stocks". Apparently they are a very unusual, with supposedly only one other pair surviving in England. Only the " victim's" legs were pinioned, but this probably resulted in even more discomfort and frustration. I couldn't help posting this photograph. It's not Sir Oliver but " Churchyard Cat", the only cat in the village to put up any resistance to the endless expansion of Badcat's territory. This one is a real bully and once scratched the Hound across the nose so hard, from underneath a parked car, that we left a trail of blood along the pavement. (I'm not sure if it was the cat or the stocks which made me think of Mulier Fortis.)


Today is the patronal feast of the (now) Anglican Church in my village. I've just come back from attending the " Clypping Service" which is a medieval tradition reintroduced during the Victorian period. The church ministers in their best vestments accompanied by a choir and banners process slowly around the churchyard during which hymns are sung. Then all the children of the village, ( these days eeked out with adults), encircle the church, join hands and embrace it three times. Then there is a short sermon and everyone gets a bun. ( The buns come from Tesco these days, I think.)

Friday, 19 September 2008

London Oratory Vespers.

I took an Anglican friend to vespers in the London Oratory recently, ( not on the occasion on which they were broadcast). Two things especially made a very great impression, in what seems to me quite contradictory ways. Firstly, she was extremely impressed with the way in which the liturgy was conducted, but who could fail to be. But what created the greatest impression was the sense of profound reverence. She stated that while beautiful vestments, wonderful music and dignified ritual are perhaps more common in the Anglican church, she had never before experienced such a sense of reverence, of simply being in the presence of God Himself.

On the other hand she could not help commenting on all the coming and going among the congregation, the people arriving late, moving seats, leaving when ever they felt like it, walking off to a side chapel to light a candle during the singing of the psalms, for instance. It was not a circus but she could not understand it. It was something completely unknown in her Anglican experience.

Also the shear diversity of the congregation, even in this bastion of English tradition, was very marked. We really are the Catholic Church.

A Refresher.

The full text of the interview given by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to three well known journalists during his visit to London has appeared on the LMS website. It provoked a lot of comment at the time but it was interesting to go back and read it again. It seems very clear to me what he is saying...

Badcat's back!

Sir Oliver has been missing for two days and I've been a bit worried. It's not unusual for him to go AWOL, especially as the bad weather had been cramping his style a bit. But I do live very near a busy main A road so I was concerned, especially when a neighbour brought round Oliver's new collar and name tag which he found in the road.

But all is well, Oliver arrived early this morning and has been sleeping in "his" chair since then. ( All the chairs in the house are actually his and he occupies them in rotation.)
Oh, and he was not at all happy to see his collar again.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Sunshine and Flowers.

My local church looking a bit more like itself.

The Ennobling of Oliver.

I have grown tired of the endless procession of delectable presents being offered by darling Oliver, especially since he brought in a pet white mouse. So he now has a collar with a little bell on it and as you see he is rather disdainful of the whole thing.
To make him feel a bit better about it I also bought him a new name tag; it reads "Sir Oliver Badcat". (" His Eminence Oliver Badcat" would not fit.)