Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel

The last of the seven great Antiphons, O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Immanuel, you are our king and judge,
the One whom the peoples await and their Saviour.
O come and save us, Lord, our God.
Isaiah prophesied:

"The Lord himself, therefore, will give you a sign. It is this: the maiden is with child and shall give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

Immanuel means "God is with us". 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Rex Gentium

The King of the Nations,  or O Rex Gentium, O Antiphon number 6.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King whom all the peoples desire,
you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
O come and save man
whom you made from clay.
Isaiah tells us:

"For there is a child been born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace." (Isaiah 9:5)

"He will wield authority over the nations, and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war." Isaiah 2:4

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Oriens

O Antiphon number 5, O Oriens or O Rising Sun (Sunrise)


O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Rising Sun,
you are the splendour of eternal light and the sun of justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Isaiah tells us:

"The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone." (Isaiah 9:2)

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Radix Jesse

The third of the O Antiphons, O Radix Jesse or O stock of Jesse

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations;
kings fall silent before you
whom the peoples acclaim.
O come to deliver us, and do not delay.
Isaiah says:

"A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots." (Isaiah 11:1)


"That day, the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples. It will be sought by the nations and its home will be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10)
    Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of David's line and be born in David's city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1)

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    O Adonai

    The second of the O Antiphons, O Adonai 

    O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
    qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
    et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
    veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

    O Adonai, and leader of Israel,
    you appeared to Moses in a burning bush
    and you gave him the law on Sinai.
    O come and save us with your mighty power.
    In Isaiah we read:

    "... but [He] judges the wretched with integrity, and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land. His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless, his sentences bring death to the wicked. Integrity is the loincloth round his waist, faithfulness the belt about his hips." (Isaiah 11:4-5)

    "For the Lord is our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king and our saviour." (Isaiah 33:22)

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    O Sapienta

    The first of the O Antiphons. O Sapientia or O Wisdom.

    In Latin:
    O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
    attingens a fine usque ad finem,
    fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
    veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
    In English:
    O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High.
    You fill the universe and hold all things together
    in a strong yet gentle manner.
    O come to teach us the way of truth.

    In the prophecy of Isaiah we read:

    "On him the spirit of the Lord rests, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11:2).

    This prophecy is especially significant read with the Gospel of St John chapter 1, where we read in verses 1 - 3 "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him."

    and in verse 14 "The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth."

    Isaiah's Lips Anointed with Fire

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    The O Antiphons

    As we enter the last week of Advent we begin to use the great "O" antiphons at Evening Prayer. Over the next few days I'll be reproducing a post for each day that I wrote two years ago. Here is the first:

    On 17 December we enter the Octave before Christmas and we use, at Vespers, the seven "O Antiphons". Each day until 24 December has a different one of the seven O Antiphons preceding the Magnificat.

    Fr William Saunders at Catholic Education says
    The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church.

    The "O Antiphons" are important for two reasons. Firstly, each antiphon highlights a title for the Messiah, and secondly each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah telling of the coming of the Messiah.

    I hope to post the O Antiphon of the day, in Latin and English, each day from 17 to 24 December. The Latin will be as per the Breviarium Romanum and the English as per the The Divine Office translation as approved for use in England (and most other English speaking countries bar the US). Quotations from scripture will be as appear in The Jerusalem Bible.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Why I won't be wearing a poppy

    I have two grandparents that fought in World War II and at least one great-grandfather that fought in WWI. I'm told that they, and their comrades, fought and died in those wars because they were opposed to fascism.
    So why am I obliged to wear a poppy? Who are the Royal British Legion and their fascist supporters who insist that I wear their poppy?

    Why am I viewed as some kind of screwball for pointing out that the history of the "British" Army is lined with the millions of corpses of British colonialism from Ireland and Scotland (nearly a century ago) to modern day Afghanistan and Iraq? 

    Why should I wear the bloodstained poppy and support their poppy appeal when the money from their collection tins goes to line the pockets of the Bloody Sunday murderers?

    Help for Heroes indeed!

    Why should I accept that my children will be brainwashed at school into accepting their "Poppy Day" myth?

    Their meaning of "hero" seems to be very different to mine and that difference seems to increase every year.

    The jingoism that has accompanied the debate this week between FIFA and the English FA sums it up. In short, the poppy is a symbol of the collective acts of the British Army that would "shame all the devils in hell".

    If you have to wear a poppy wear a white one.

    After all, if Margaret Thatcher has expressed her "deep distaste" for the white poppy it must be the right thing to do!

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    St Malachy

    Today is the feast day of the saint after whom this blog is named - Malachy. So, from the archives of this blog:

    St Malachy, who was he?

    Malachy died on 2 November 1148 but his feast day is kept on 3 November to avoid a clash with All Souls Day.

    source: Patricia Drury at
    As an aside, it's also the feast day of St Martin de Porres

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Of archbishops and stolen property

    The T*blet of 17 September has an editorial about one Revd Nolbert Kunonga who has declared himself the Anglican "archbishop" of Harare and who has seized church property including the cathedral. The link is here. Caveat lector - reading The T*blet places one in spiritual danger.

    I'm not sure I see the problem. Surely the good reverend is simply following a 450 year old Anglican tradition by seizing Church property and by awarding himself an ecclesial title?

    I would have thought The T*blet would have approved. After all, that magazine is Anglican in all but name any way...

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Our Lady of Sorrows

    At the cross her station keeping
    stood the mournful Mother weeping,
    close to Jesus to the last.

    Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
    all His bitter anguish bearing
    now at lenght the sword had passed.

    Oh, how sad and sore distressed
    was that Mother highly blessed,
    of the sole-begotten One!
    Christ above in torment hangs,
    she beneath beholds the pangs
    of her dying, glorious Son.

    Is there one who would not weep,
    'whelmed in miseries so deep,
    Christ's dear Mother to behold?

    Can the human heart refrain
    from partaking in her pain,
    in that Mother's pain untold?

    Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
    she beheld her tender Child
    All with scourges rent.

    For the sins of His own nation,
    saw Him hang in desolation,
    Till His spirit forth He sent.

    O sweet Mother! fount of love!
    Touch my spirit from above,
    make my heart with thine accord.

    Make me feel as thou hast felt;
    make my soul to glow and melt
    with the love of Christ, my Lord.

    Holy Mother! pierce me through,
    in my heart each wound renew
    of my Savior crucified.

    Let me share with thee His pain,
    who for all our sins was slain,
    who for me in torments died.

    Let me mingle tears with thee,
    mourning Him who mourned for me,
    all the days that I may live.

    By the Cross with thee to stay,
    there with thee to weep and pray,
    is all I ask of thee to give.

    Virgin of all virgins blest!,
    Listen to my fond request:
    let me share thy grief divine;

    Let me, to my latest breath,
    in my body bear the death
    of that dying Son of thine.

    Wounded with His every wound,
    steep my soul till it hath swooned,
    in His very Blood away;

    Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
    lest in flames I burn and die,
    in His awful Judgment Day.

    Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
    by Thy Mother my defense,
    by Thy Cross my victory;

    While my body here decays,
    may my soul Thy goodness praise,
    safe in paradise with Thee.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    What kind of Catholic are you?

    A bit of a fun quiz. What kind of Catholic are you? I'm:

    You Are a Daily Rosary (Very Traditional) Catholic
    You'd like the church to revive the time-honored devotions, liturgical practices, and strong institutional discipline that prevailed before the Second Vatican Council—and you're hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will lead the church in exactly that direction. Your favorite hymn is probably a traditional Latin composition such as the "Panis Angelicus," and your favorite pope is probably a pioneer of the Church's great liturgical tradition such as Gregory the Great.

    Take the quiz by clicking here

    PS: this is my first post from an iPad. Not altogether a simple task!

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    The new English translation: day 2

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    The new English translation: day 1

    Nada, nothing, zilch, zip.

    Same old, same old lame duck 1973 ICEL version.

    How disappointing.

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Senseless and Backward Thinking

    Here is the text of a letter that appeared in the official bi-monthly publication of the Diocese of Portsmouth, The Portsmouth People:

    In 1984 the Church decided, after consultation, to encourage Catholics to become more autonomous and to take greater responsibility for the practice of their faith. This resulted in an individual, personal choice with regard to a Friday sacrifice and there is now a plethora of good practice that is positive and far more meaningful than the old meat abstention, for example the practice of partaking in a smaller meal with the savings going to Cafod's work with the hungry poor. I now understand that there is about to be a revival of the prescriptive meat-free Fridays. This is a retrograde step, a return to introverted pre-occupation rather than the healthier looking-outward to make our sacrifice helpful to others, whether on a Friday or another day of the week.

    Many people wonder why the Church in this country is now trying to reestablish a practice that has long since been dead and buried - and walking backwards is always fraught with danger. People surely will no longer respond to a one-size-fits-all negative practice that the Church saw fit to abandon 27 years ago. Has there been any consultation with lay people this time? If so, I certainly missed it. Do the authorities remember that one of the reasons for abandoning this practice was the difficulty it could cause in inter-denominational or inter-faith marriages?

    Catholics no longer want to put up with being treated as wayward infants in need of rules and regulations imposed from on high, a kind of ecclesiastical ‘elf and safety’. We are quite capable of finding ways to witness to our faith, depending on our own individual circumstances, be they within schools, parishes or other faith (and non-faith) communities.

    Over the past 27 years we have been enriched by joining with other Christians so that together we can bear witness to our Christian identity. To our great benefit, we have become less defensive and much more proactive in going out to the world, as Jesus asked us to do: ‘Go out and bear fruit’.

    The days are surely gone when we can in any way justify those small egocentric ‘holy huddles’ and esoteric practices whereby Catholics tried to defend themselves against the wicked world.

    If we are not careful, we will be in danger of isolating and alienating ourselves once again under the doubtful notion of re-establishing ‘Catholic identity’. Let's think again because, at the end of the day, most of us won't take a blind bit of notice of such senseless and backward thinking.

    The writer gives her name but I won't put that up here.

    There is so much that is wrong in this letter there is no point in "fisking" it. A good riposte though is, I think, to call to mind the words of Pope Benedict in his address to the Bishops of England and Wales during their 2010 ad limina visit when he said:
    In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.

    Pity our bishops. How can they lead us towards a revitalised Catholic identity when we have a bossy laity with a "grown up" attitude like this?

    PS: If there was one word you knew would be in this letter it is surely "Cafod"

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    St Helier

    16 July is the feast day of St Helier, patron saint of the "capital" of Jersey and of one of the twelve civil parishes on the island.

    Helier was a 6th century hermit who came to the island of wandering from what is now Belgium, through Normandy and eventually to the island. On arrival in Jersey Helier settled on a rocky outcrop just offshore that is now called the Hermitage Rock. From this viewpoint he could spot pirates and other ne'er do goods sailing toward the island and warn the people onshore.

    Legend has it he was beheaded by pirates on 16 July 555.

    If it wasn't pouring down I'd take a picture of l'Hermitage to put up so here is one from Wikipedia instead:

    Within you

    I thought this was worth sharing.

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    Bishop Michael Evans - RIP

    Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia passed away on the evening of 11 July. Bishop Evans had been ill with cancer since November 2011. There is a good obituary at A Reluctant Sinner' s blog.


    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Oh dear BBC

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Models of Theology

    This is just too good to resist drawing attention to.

    Acts of the Apostasy has a "Various Approaches to Theology" posting today. Some of the gems there are:

    • Defeatist theology;
    • Personalist theology;
    • Spirivaticanical theology (my favourite); and
    • Vaginal (gulp) theology.
    A good laugh and a serious point in one blog post. Check it out

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    A God and Church in the image and likeness of Sinead

    Oh dear...

    In a newspaper column on Sunday, Sinead O’Connor called for the formation of a new Catholic church.

    "We need a church that honors the sacraments and does not dictate who God can love or not love," she said.

    "If we stick to the sacraments and honor them fully, the rest will follow."

    Her comments come after her recent announcement of the end of her third marriage to Steve Cooney (57) after eight months.

    The 45-year-old had married her most recent husband on tour in Europe last summer.
    The mother of four has often spoke about suffering from bipolar disorder.

    Her new album "Home" is set to be released in June. The singer-songwriter is preparing for a tour of the UK in Ireland over the summer months.
    Shall we start by honoring (sic) the Sacrament of marriage then Sinead?

    Original article available here

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    And the madness continues

    In March I posted that Celtic manager Neil Lennon was Living under intolerable pressure.

    This morning brings the frankly unbelievable news that mail bombs have been sent to Lennon, Paul McBride QC (a lawyer used by Celtic FC and Lennon), and Labour politician Trish Godman (a Celtic fan). The story is all over the British media but here's just one link from the BBC.

    It's probably worth remembering that Lennon stopped playing for his country because of death threats. He has had several death threats since and has been attacked in the street in Glasgow. In January this year he had bullets sent to him in the post - as did two other Celtic players (both Catholics from the bastard statelet of Northern Ireland).

    Why is this happening? Because he is an uppity taig, a fenian who doesn't know his place and challenges the establishment that's why.

    It's enough to make you despair.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Where in the world

    is St Malachy? Well here's where I was for Mass this afternoon.

    Holy Family cathedral basilica, archdiocese of Nairobi.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    The Holy Father on modern exegesis

    The common practice today is to measure the Bible against the so-called modern worldview, whose fundamental dogma is that God cannot act in history – that everything to do with God is to be relegated to the realm of subjectivity. And so the Bible no longer speaks of God, the living God: no, now WE alone speak and decide what God can do and what WE will and should do. And the Antichrist, with an air of scholarly excellence, tells us that any exegesis that reads the Bible from the perspective of faith in the living God, in order to listen to what God has to say, is fundamentalism; he wants to convince us that only his kind of exegesis, the supposedly purely scientific kind, in which God says nothing and has nothing to say, is able to keep abreast of the times.

    Jesus of Nazareth, p 35-36

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Friends, readers, detractors

    Please pray for the immortal soul of Brian, who died on 14 March 2011.

    Absolve, we beseech Thee, O Lord,
    the soul of Thy servant Brian,
    from every bond of sin,
    that being raised in the glory of the resurrection,
    he may be refreshed among the Saints and Elect.
    Through Christ our Lord.


    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Ash Wednesday homily

    For what it's worth, here is the text of a practice homily I had to deliver. Be nice, it was my first ever attempt at a homily!

    So, Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, the start of 40 days leading up to that central point of our faith – the resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

    But what is today about? What is Lent about?

    In a few minutes, Father is going to bless the ashes and we will line up and one by one be signed, on the forehead, with the Sign of the Cross, in ashes. That signing with ashes is not an annual rite of passage, it’s not something us Catholics just “do” once a year, rather it’s a symbol of intent – a sign that we intend things to change.

    In Sacred Scripture ashes were used as a sign of sorrow for sign – a sign of repentance – I’m going to come back to that word repentance in a moment so keep it in mind – but in the meantime we let’s agree that ashes were used as a sign of repentance. The prophet Job tells us I am “disowning what I have said and am repenting in dust and ashes” and Daniel “turns to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes”.

    In the New Testament, Our Lord Jesus Christ himself berates the Galilean towns of Bethsaida and Chorazin, warning them that they should “repent of their deeds and sit in sackcloth and ashes”.

    I think you get the point: in Scripture ashes are a sign – a symbol signifying sorrow for sin. They are what we call a sacramental; an object or thing we use to focus our attention on God or increase our devotion to Him.

    In each of these examples and others in Sacred Scripture there is a one common element – repentance which is a common word in Scripture. I’m sure everyone here could quote for me at least one instance of the use of the word in the Gospels. I’d go further than that and say that most people would quote the same example – Jesus Christ’s use of the phrase “Repent and believe the Gospel for the kingdom of God is close at hand.”

    Generally, in English, we take the word “repent” to mean sorrow, perhaps even deep sorrow, or heartfelt regret. That is good but it’s not necessarily sufficient. What we usually translate as “repent” from the Greek sources of Scripture is the “metanoia”. That Greek word “metanoia” implies so much more than sorrow or regret. In fact, it means “a changing of mind” or a complete “reversal of a previously held position” – in short, it’s a turning around, a conversion; a positive action that is intended to lift you up, to move you from your present inferior position to a higher, better position.

    This turning around, this conversion, is what Lent is all about. Turning our lives around and centring them on God; Lent is about lifting ourselves out of our present inferior, man centred focus and directing ourselves towards God.

    In the first reading from the prophet Joel we get a flavour of this conversion – this turning around when he says to us “Come back to the Lord with all your heart” and “turn to the Lord your God again”. You see “come back”; “turn around”, convert.

    St Paul (and Timothy) in the second reading also are on this theme of conversion. So often I find St Paul almost hectoring in his tone. He is a typical convert – and I don’t mean converts are hectoring – rather, like many converts, St Paul is absolutely certain that what he believes is the truth and yet today we find him not lecturing but imploring the people of the Church in Corinth to be reconciled to God; to turn around and lift up our relationship with God to a higher, better place. In fact he uses the word “beg” – “we (Timothy and Paul) beg you not to neglect the Grace of God”. He is pleading with us to re-orientate ourselves in the light of the great mysteries of God made real and present to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Lent - the word means “spring” – is a then a time of turning around our relationship with God, but how?

    Firstly by prayer. Try to make a little extra time for talking to God over the next 40 days. Perhaps we could find time for weekday Mass? If not, how about offering up a few minutes at the end of the day, when all you want is your bed, as extra prayer time? A decade of the Rosary? Some spiritual reading maybe – you could do worse than spending Lent in the company of CS Lewis!

    Secondly – self-denial. I know this isn’t a popular thing in our age of instant gratification but give it a bash! For a while it’s been popular to substitute fasting and “giving up” for Lent with prayer or alms giving but why not do all three? It certainly can’t harm us!

    Thirdly – almsgiving. If we deny ourself something take that money and give it up.

    Fourthly – by penance. Jesus Christ gave us the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is never not a season for this sacrament but Lent is the perfect time so just GO. Even if there has been a 20 year gap, even if you’re scared stiff, even if you think you don’t need to go – just GO. What harm can it do?

    Too often we treat Lent and penance as though it were placing the weight of the world on our shoulders. That isn’t what it’s about. Lent is a time of joy, not sorrow, conversion yes, sorrow no. Think about it – I said Lent means “spring”, is spring a time of sorrow? No, it’s a time of growth and joy! The first Preface of Lent sums it up perfectly saying: “Each year you give us this joyful season, when we prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with heart and mind renewed”

    And so I wish you a holy and joyful season of Lent. I leave you with the words of Psalm 50, one of what we used to call the “seven great penitential psalms”:

    Give me again the joy of your help;
    With a spirit of fervour sustain me.
    O Lord, open my lips
    And my mouth shall declare your praise.

    God bless and have a joyful Lent.

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Living under intolerable pressure

    So the fall out from the "Old Firm" game last week continues, including this nonsensical "summit" planned for this week.

    Kevin McKenna in the Observer! points out that the reaction of the police and politicians has, truthfully, little to do with Wednesday's events.

    The one thing that the media, including the English media, continue to ignore is the vile, disgusting treatment the Rangers "fans" continue to heap upon Neil Lennon.

    Anti-Catholicism in Scotland is not deep under the skin. Scratch lightly and you'll find the bile pouring forth. The bigots who follow Rangers, and make no mistake it's certainly not a minority of their fans, refuse to accept that a Catholic from "Northern Ireland" has the temerity to show up their team.

    From the Bleacher Report, a US based football website, comes this article:

    You would be forgiven for thinking that the controversy surrounding the latest, "Old Firm," derby this week was all the fault of Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

    From the coverage of the match by the Scottish sporting press, it seems the "volatile" Celtic boss is responsible for Rangers game plan, which was to pack their defence and kick everything that moved, while grimly attempting to hold on to parity and take their chances in the penalty shootout.

    Celtic's scorer, Mark Wilson, had more shots on target in the 48th minute, than the entire Rangers team managed in 95 minutes of play. You'd think it was Lennon's fault that the Rangers players lost their discipline after again being outclassed and beaten by their most hated rivals.

    Well, maybe that WAS Lennon's fault.

    Actually, that gets right to the very heart of the matter. This was the fourth time since the turn of the year that Celtic had dominated the blue half of Glasgow. Even in the original tie, Celtic bossed the match despite playing most of the game with 10 men after the dismissal of goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

    The league race still has some way to run and is far from over. Rangers might even still win it, but head-to-head, Celtic have established overwhelming dominance over Rangers and their manager Walter Smith seems to have run out of ideas as to what to do about it.

    Lennon is a hate-figure for Rangers fans, and it is getting worse. It may come as a surprise to outsiders that there is an element amongst the Rangers fan base that has connections to Loyalist paramilitary groups in the north of Ireland.

    Lennon is no stranger to threats from these people, having called time on his international career after receiving recognised coded death threats after joining Celtic as a player in late 2000. Several death threats have been received by Lennon since Celtic's surprisingly comfortable victory over Rangers on Jan. 2 this year.

    On the first occasion, bullets were posted to Lennon, as well as Celtic's Catholic Northern Irish international players Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn.

    In recent weeks, two Facebook groups have been created and subsequently deleted calling on Lennon to be shot, one including a mock-up of Lennon's bullet-riddled body.

    Journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bhain reports today on his Web site that three times in the past month Lennon and his family have been roused from their beds in the middle of the night to be taken to safe-houses following information received by Strathclyde police.

    The Celtic manager has been provided with around-the-clock security since Wednesday evening. No one in their right mind would think Rangers FC had anything to do with these threats, but the silence from the Ibrox club has been deafening.

    Condemnation of these death threats from Rangers would be welcome, even if it would not immediately end the situation.

    There has been a conspicuous silence too from the Scottish Football Association, and the Scottish Government, so quick to demand a summit meeting with both clubs, the SFA and the police after Wednesday night's events.

    Most shameful of all is the lack of condemnation from the Scottish media, which continues to vilify Lennon at every opportunity. Reporting IOC the issue from the mainstream media outlets has been strictly neutral.

    Lennon is the bĂȘte noir of the Scottish footballing establishment—the red-haired Irish-Catholic threatening to put Rangers to the sword as a manager, just as he did as a player.

    This time though, Rangers face financial Armageddon. Their very existence is at stake and the hatred of all things Celtic, and by extension Irish and Catholic, is rising exponentially.

    In a supposedly modern, democratic country, a man's life is threatened because of his success as a soccer manager. If, God forbid, anything should happen to Lennon, the Scottish Football Association, Rangers FC, the Scottish Government and above all, the Scottish media, will be complicit in an avoidable tragedy.
    When you arrive at Glasgow Airport, the sign says: "Welcome to the best little country in the world". It should say "Welcome to the most bigotted little country in the world".

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    Holy Year for Nuns?

    This is an great idea I think. Have a look here and then help spread the word.

    Dewi sant hapus I chi

    Happy St David's day.

    The Divine Office note for St David says:
    Born probably in Cardigan about the year 520, he received his early training from St Illtyd. He attraced many postulants to the monastries he founded, all of which were remarkable for the austerity of their rule of life. Consecrated bishop, according to his biographer, in Jerusalem, he was recognised as primate of Wales and established his see at Mynyw (Menevia), at the monastry of which he was abbott and where he died about the year 588. He is the principal patron of Wales

    Tuesday, February 22, 2011

    Don't mess with Dumbo!

    South Africa's Die Beeld (The Mirror) newspaper has an astonishing series of photographs of an elephant tipping a car onto its roof. The pictures were taken in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.

    A paraphrase (ICEL 1973 translation?) of the text of the article says something along the lines of:

    A man from Centurion watched helplessly as an elephant tipped over an elderly couple's vehicle in Pilanesberg on Friday.

    Mr. Van Wyk and 3 other cars were following an elephant bull that was calmly walking down the road.

    Van Wyk was taking photos until the elephant started walking straight to his vehicle flapping his ears.

    That's when he decided to rather get away.

    "I slowly started reversing when another car came past me. It was an elderly couple and I tried to tell them that there was an unhappy elephant in the road.", Van Wyk said.

    The couple passed him and parked next to the road. "I suspect they were trying to get out of his way."

    Moments later the elephant started rubbing himself against the car. He then pushed his tusks in under the car and tipped it over.

    The woman was only slightly injured, but they both suffered severe shock.

    Monday, January 31, 2011

    Catholic indifference

    Over the last few months it's been getting progressively more and more noisy in our church both before and after Mass. More and more people seem to treat coming to Mass like a social gathering - as a chance to chat to those friends you haven't seen for a week.

    Inevitably, the same people don't "have the time" to join in actual parish social occasions. Most won't even stay after Mass for a cup of tea and a chat.

    This has really been getting to me, so I was heartened to see respected commentator George Weigel posting about this same topic just recently. Here is what he had to say:

    The Chattering Classes Are Us
    George Weigel
    Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011
    Publication Date: January 19, 2011

    Catholics once had an intuitive understanding of sacred space: to enter a church, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, was to enter a different kind of environment, one of the hallmarks of which was a reverent silence. Some of that intuition remains. But much of it has been lost. Thus, within the past few months, I have noted three habitual behaviors, not in parishes that are otherwise sloppy in their liturgical practice, but precisely in parishes that take their liturgical life seriously:

    1) The demarcation between the narthex (or, as they say in AmChurchSpeak, the "gathering space") and the body of the church (a.k.a. the "worship space") has been severely eroded. Conversations begun in the narthex often continue when people reach the pews; new conversations are initiated in the pews. Both types of conversation sometimes continue during the choral prelude, if there is one. In any case, the new convention seems to be that in-pew conversations are quite appropriate until the processional hymn is announced.

    2) The exchange of peace, which ought to be accompanied by the briefest of greetings, often becomes the occasion for a general conversational free-for-all. This breaks the rhythm of the Liturgy of the Eucharist and is anything but conducive to the gathering of mind and spirit appropriate to the period before the reception of holy communion.

    3) Immediately after the conclusion of the recessional hymn, conversation, often quite loud, immediately breaks out in the pews (among those, that is, who have not already bolted for the door during the recessional). Choirs who have spent time and effort preparing a choral postlude must therefore compete with a torrent of chatter that not infrequently drowns out music that has been carefully rehearsed. This chatter is both bad liturgical form and very bad manners. Attempts to remind one's fellow congregants of the proprieties, through a pleading glance, are met with either incomprehension or hostility.

    2011 could be a year in which the liturgical catechesis enjoined by Vatican II as part of the reform of the liturgy actually takes place: if pastors and parish liturgy directors see the introduction of the new English translations that will become mandatory on the First Sunday of Advent as the occasion to do what should have been done forty years ago, and equip the saints -- who have too often devolved into the liturgical chattering classes -- for their part in worship. That part was beautifully defined by the fathers of Vatican II in the chapter on the Holy Eucharist of the Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy:
    The Church...earnestly desires that Christ's faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers...They should give thanks to God. Offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, they should learn to offer themselves.

    That offering of self takes place through silence as well as through the "full, conscious, and active participation" the Council enjoined -- a "participation," I might add, that was not envisioned as obliterating the distinction between behavior appropriate to the parish hall and behavior fitting for the body of the church. Both our participation in the liturgy and our silence should reflect the distinctiveness of the sacred space that we are privileged to share when we come into church. If there is little discernible difference in our parishes between what happens in the narthex before and after Mass and what happens in the body of the Church during Mass, something is wrong.

    Pastors and liturgical directors have a great opportunity this year to re-educate Christ's people in the nature of the liturgy. That education can be both direct and indirect: direct, by catechesis from the pulpit; indirect, by providing ample moments of silence within the liturgy. There is no reason why every available moment during Mass must be filled with speech or music; surely there ought to be moments of repose when all are allowed to listen for the "still small voice" of 1 Kings 19.12. Those moments, in turn, might help remind us that sacred space is not space for chatter.
     The subtitle of his post is "The Catholic Difference". Perhaps it should be "The Catholic Indifference".

    h/t: Fr James Farfaglia at Illegitimi non carborundum

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Masons and the Ordinariate

    There is a short but succinct letter from Fr Ashley Beck in the 14 January 2011 edition of the Catholic Herald which says:

    Sir - Presumably someone is inquiring whether Anglican clergy and lay people intending to join the ordinariate are Freemasons. It would be a bit of an anti-climax if, having been received into the Catholic Church, some were unable to receive Communion later in the Mass."
    Fr Beck is an ex-Anglican clergyman and the author of the CTS booklet Freemasonry and the Christian faith. He knows the nature of the beast so to speak.

    Anglicans aside, there are a few "good" Catholics who could do with being reminded that Freemasonry is utterly incompatible with Catholicism and that Catholics may not be Freemasons (irrespective of what Fr Tie Dye may say!)

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Blessed John Paul II

    The Catholic Herald have the breaking news that John Paul II is to be beatified on 1 May this year!

    Here is the note released by the Vatican Information Service this morning:


    VATICAN CITY, 14 JAN 2011 (VIS) - On 1 May, the second Sunday of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, Benedict XVI will preside at the rite of beatification for John Paul II in the Vatican.

      According to a note released by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, "today 24 January, Benedict XVI, during an audience granted to Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, authorised the dicastery to promulgate the decree of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla). This concludes the process which precedes the rite of beatification.

      "It is well known that, by pontifical dispensation, his cause began before the end of the five-year period which the current norms stipulate must pass following the death of a Servant of God. This provision was solicited by the great fame of sanctity which Pope John Paul II enjoyed during his life, in his death and after his death. In all other ways, the normal canonical dispositions concerning causes of beatification and canonisation were observed in full.

      "Between June 2005 and April 2007 the principal diocesan investigation was held in Rome, accompanied by secondary investigations in various other dioceses, on his life, virtues, fame of sanctity and miracles. The juridical validity of these canonical processes was recognised by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints with a decree of 4 May 2007. In June 2009, having examined the relative 'Positio', nine of the dicastery's theological consultors expressed their positive judgement concerning the heroic nature of the virtues of the Servant of God. The following November, in keeping with the usual procedure, the 'Positio' was submitted for the judgement of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who gave their approval.

      "On 19 December 2009, Benedict XVI authorised the promulgation of the decree on John Paul II's heroic virtues.

      "With a view to the beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, the postulator of the cause invited the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine the recovery from Parkinson's disease of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre Normand, a religious of the 'Institut des Petites Soeurs des Maternites Catholiques'.

      "As is customary, the voluminous acts of the regularly-instituted canonical investigation, along with detailed reports from medical and legal experts, were submitted for scientific examination by the medical consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 21 October 2010. The experts of the congregation, having studied the depositions and the entire documentation with their customary scrupulousness, expressed their agreement concerning the scientifically inexplicable nature of the healing. On 14 December the theological consultors, having examined the conclusions reached by the medical experts, undertook a theological evaluation of the case and unanimously recognised the unicity, antecedence and choral nature of the invocation made to Servant of God John Paul II, whose intercession was effective in this prodigious healing.

      "Finally, on 11 January 2011 the ordinary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints took place. They expressed their unanimous approval, believing the recovery of Sr. Marie Simon Pierre to be miraculous, having been achieved by God in a scientifically inexplicable manner following the intercession of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II, trustingly invoked both by Sr. Simon herself and by many other faithful".
    CCS/                                                                                                VIS 20110114 (570)
    Blessed John Paul II has a rather nice ring to it!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Is mise Peader Robinson

    I love this story from BBC Northern Ireland about the hacker who has translated the DUP website into Irish. It's hard to imagine something that would have made the Dinosaur Unionist Party more incandescent with rage. Lovely!

    A language activist has hacked into three DUP websites, temporarily translating their homepages into Irish.

    On one, Peter Robinson was shown introducing himself in the language.

    "Is mise Peadar Robinson agus tugaim tacaiocht don Acht na Gaelige" is translated as "I am Peter Robinson and I support an Irish Language Act".

    Irish language legislation has been a source of friction at Stormont with the DUP repeatedly frustrating Sinn Fein appeals for its introduction.

    The hacker, who calls himself Hector O'Hackatdawn, also broke into and

    On its Twitter feed, the DUP said its website had been "temporarily affected by malicious activity".
    It added that the police were now dealing with the issue.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Monday look-a-like

    Ed "Brutus" Miliband - v - Wallace

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Vatican II: Myth and Reality

    Via a link on the Ten Reasons blog, I came across an old, but extremely appropriate (and interesting) article by the late Cardinal Dulles. The article is from 2003 but he was already speaking about the hermenuetics of continuity.

    The whole article is HERE on the website of America Magazine, but here are a few tasters:

    The memory of the Second Vatican Council, 40 years after the opening of the council, continues to arouse both acclamation and vilification. Its champions, in many cases, see it as having liberated Catholics from a long night of oppression, thus restoring to the people of God their rightful liberties. Its detractors blame it for shattering the unity and order of the church and introducing an era of contestation and doubt. ....


    In part, the quarrels are due to a conflict of interpretations. The council documents, like most committee products, reflect some compromises. Four factors make the interpretation especially difficult.

    1. The council fathers ... made every effort to achieve unanimity and express the consensus of the whole episcopate, not the ideas of one particular school. ...

    2. ... the council ... did not dwell on the negative implications of ... doctrine. Framed so as not to offend any large group, except perhaps atheistic Communism, the documents are markedly irenic.

    3. The council occurred at a unique moment of history, when the Western world was swept up in a wave of optimism ... Secular enthusiasts interpreted Vatican II as an invitation for Catholics to jump on the bandwagon.

    4. In the postconciliar period, the communications media favored the emphasis on novelty...

    In this atmosphere, early interpreters of the council suggested that the documents contained revolutionary implications not apparent on the surface. Some propounded the hermeneutical principle that where there are ambiguities in the council documents, these should always be resolved in favor of discontinuity. Others used the device of preferring to follow the “spirit of Vatican II” at the expense of the letter.

    Whereas this innovationist hermeneutic of Vatican II was clearly predominant in the literature of the first decade after the council, another school of interpretation began to surface toward the middle 1970’s. Such distinguished theologians as Henri de Lubac, S.J., Hans Urs von Balthasar and Joseph Ratzinger banded together to found a new international review, Communio, which was widely viewed as an attempt to offset the progressive Dutch-based journal Concilium. Writers for Communio preferred to interpret Vatican II with what they called “a hermeneutics of continuity,” emphasizing the diachronic solidarity of the council with the whole Catholic tradition.

    To overcome polarization and bring about greater consensus, Pope John Paul II convened an extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985, the 20th anniversary of the close of the council. This synod in its final report came up with six agreed principles for sound interpretation, which may be paraphrased as follows:

    1. Each passage and document of the council must be interpreted in the context of all the others...

    2. The four constitutions of the council (those on liturgy, church, revelation and church in the modern world) are the hermeneutical key to the other documents...

    3. The pastoral import of the documents ought not to be separated from, or set in opposition to, their doctrinal content.

    4. No opposition may be made between the spirit and the letter of Vatican II.

    5. The council must be interpreted in continuity with the great tradition of the church, including earlier councils.

    6. Vatican II should be accepted as illuminating the problems of our own day.

    These principles seem to me to be sound. Applying them, I should like to propose 12 points on which I believe that the council has been rather generally misunderstood.

    1. It is widely believed that the council taught that non-Christian religions contain revelation and are paths to salvation for their members. A careful examination of the documents, however, proves the contrary...

    2. ...
    An impartial reading of Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, the “Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation” (1965) indicates ... that ... scripture and tradition together constitute a single indivisible channel of revealed truth, in which neither element could stand without the other (DV, No. 9).

    3. A third error relating to revelation is the view that, according to the council, God continues to reveal himself in secular experience through the signs of the times, which therefore provide criteria for interpreting the Gospel. Vatican II, in fact, rejected the idea of continuing revelation...

    4. Turning now to the church, we can put the question of its necessity. It has become almost a platitude to say that the council, reversing earlier Catholic teaching, taught that the church is not necessary for salvation. But in reality the council affirmed that faith and baptism are necessary for salvation...

    5. Turning now to the ecumenical problem, we must evaluate the common impression that the council, in stating that the church of Christ “subsists” in the Roman Catholic communion (LG, No. 8), implied that the former is wider and more inclusive than the latter...

    6. The doctrine of collegiality is frequently misunderstood as though it restricted the powers of the pope...

    7. ... Some Catholic theologians, while admitting that all the faithful are obliged to submit to infallible teaching, contend that faithful Catholics are entitled to reject noninfallible teaching when it conflicts with their private judgment.

    Vatican II never mentioned dissent, but by implication rejected it...

    8. ... At several points Vatican II urged pastors to consult the laity and to listen to them when they speak within their competence (LG, No. 37; GS, Nos. 43, 62). But at no point did it suggest that the hierarchy have any obligation to accept the recommendations of the laity ...

    9. It is often said that with Vatican II the church, reversing its earlier position, acknowledged marriage as a vocation no less blessed than celibacy. ... but it also reaffirmed the teaching of Trent that it is better and more blessed to remain in virginity or celibacy than to be joined in matrimony ... If this passage had been better understood and more energetically taught, the present crisis of vocations to the priestly and religious life might be less severe.

    10. Opponents of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) make much of the fact that Vatican II was silent on the morality of contraception. The council did not explicitly condemn contraception because the pope had reserved this question to a special commission outside the council...

    11. The council’s teaching on religious freedom has been poorly understood...

    12. Turning in conclusion to the liturgy, I shall limit myself to one question. Vatican II is frequently praised or blamed for having authorized the translation of the Latin liturgy into the vernacular. But the matter is not so simple. In Sacrosactum Concilium, its “Constitution on the Liturgy” (1963), the council declared: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rite, except where a particular law might indicate otherwise” (SC, No 36, Paragraph 1). In the following two paragraphs the constitution went on to say that competent local ecclesiastical authorities may determine that certain readings, instructions, prayers and chants be translated into the mother tongue of the people. The council fathers would not have anticipated that in the space of a few years the Latin language would almost totally disappear. It would be well if Catholics could be familiar with the Mass in Latin, the official language of the Roman rite. But since there are sound pastoral reasons for the vernacular, faithful translations of high quality should be provided. We may hope that such translations are in the making.

    Because the hermeneutics of discontinuity has prevailed in countries like our own, the efforts of the Holy See to clarify the documents have regularly been attacked...

    ... I can say only that I find the teaching of Vatican II very solid, carefully nuanced and sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of our own time and place. ... Progress must be made, but progress always depends upon an acceptance of prior achievements so that it is not necessary to begin each time from the beginning.

    Do read the whole article, it is well worth it.