Friday, 31 December 2010

Abortion must not be condemned in court of simplistic opinions - Irish Times

Abortion must not be condemned in court of simplistic opinions


Twenty-six years ago, my wife was carrying a child who could not survive, and we opted for termination

AT THE outset of our marriage, my wife Joycelyn and I struggled to start a family. Three years of false alarms and disappointments had presaged the blood-chilling realisation that we might remain childless: all sorts of tests had been done, and no one was being definite about anything. We had just begun to discuss the possibility of adoption, when she fell pregnant.

After what, to me at least, felt like another eternity, we were eventually delivered of a beautiful healthy son, Kevin. Within 12 months, Joycelyn was pregnant again – it seemed we had at last gotten the hang of this procreation business.

I remember wondering how Kevin would take to the new arrival, and feeling guilty at the idea of us suddenly confronting him with a competitor for our attentions. Would he think we had betrayed him in some way, by arriving home with another baby? Joycelyn told me not to be so daft.

Six months in, she attended hospital for what I presumed was a routine pre-natal check-up – it never crossed my mind that anything could be amiss. I’ll never forget the phone-call to work that day: Joycelyn was so upset, at first I could hardly make out what she was saying. She needed me to come home, because the hospital had told her there may be a problem with the baby.

Over the next few days, I clung to the hope there was some mistake, but in her heart Joycelyn knew different. As it turned out, something indefinable had been worrying her. She had gone to see her family doctor, and though he could find nothing wrong, as a precaution he had referred her to an obstetrician. A series of tests followed the obstetrician’s initial examination, and within a few days we were being told that our little unborn was anencephalic. It was explained to us that this meant the child had no brain, and could not possibly survive outside the womb.

We were distraught (which is hardly the word for it) but had to try desperately to maintain a front for Kevin, so as not to confuse and upset him. Some well-meaning friends told us we should take comfort in already having a child, and that, being so young, we had plenty of time. There was something in what they said; it just wasn’t the time for them to be saying it.

On top of everything else, Joycelyn and I had a decision to make: does she carry the child for another three months, knowing that it cannot survive beyond birth, or should we terminate the pregnancy now? The doctors and nurses were wonderful, answering all our questions without ever pressuring us in either direction.

We eventually decided on termination. It was a little girl, Claire, perfect in every other respect. The weight of grief nearly destroyed us – not as a couple, but each in the inescapable isolation of our own hearts and minds. Joycelyn, then only in her early 20s, was almost crushed by it: the loss of a child, giving birth to no end, post-natal depression, multiplied tenfold by the absence of a baby in a cot – the sheer bloody unfairness of it all.

I was numb with grief, feeling totally helpless as a man and as a partner, my own pain magnified by my inability to ease hers. Up to a point, the well-meaning friends were proven right, the fact that we already had Kevin, and went on to have David and Deborah was of enormous help (our children are all now older than Joycelyn was then). We couldn’t have been blessed with better youngsters if we’d been allowed design them ourselves.

Still, this only goes so far, human beings aren’t inanimate objects; one isn’t directly replaceable by another. Yet you just have to find a way to push on, or grief can become habitual, a self-indulgence.

Over the years, the pain has receded, but not disappeared. There will always be a void. The memories of that time, the what-ifs and the if-onlys, have been buried but not entirely. Claire would have been 26 this coming year, and though Joycelyn agreed to me writing this, she’ll never read it – she couldn’t bear to.

More heartache was to come. Joycelyn suffered a miscarriage a couple of years after Deborah was born, it would have been our youngest child. In truth though, it happened in the very early stages of pregnancy, and the pain was not comparable to what had gone before.

I see the abortion debate is set to take off again in the Republic. I detest the word “abortion”: with its harshness, and its sleazy, backstreet connotations. I prefer termination
, (the nazi's are perhaps the most famous user of termination as a euphanism - i.e. murder)
though it is much too imprecise for general usage.

Do I have a position on abortion? No, I have lots of positions, one for every set of circumstances that drives a woman, or a couple, to choose to terminate a pregnancy.
It isn’t a simple black and white issue.
Wrong. It is a black and white issue.
If it were, no doubt Joycelyn and I would stand condemned in the court of simplistic opinions.
It's not about condemnation, it's protection of the unborn from being murdered.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Suffer the little children..

The Cellarer has been 'voluntered' to do children's liturgy and was unaware his recent debut was being critiqued by two teenagers in the kitchen.

Is he a teacher? they apparently asked. Whether it was the formative / summative assessment, active learning etc or simply my voice hitting the back of the hall and therefore also kitchen that gave the game away is unconfirmed.

Followed the instructions pretty much but drew the line at the 'Frere Jacques' Alleluia.

That was said.

Mentioning aforementioned Alleluia to someone who quite likes modern hymns even they said "They are children but they have not been lobotomised"!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Tories join culture of death

Country facing demographic timebomb, pensions crisis.

So cut child benefit and make it even harder for those with children (most of whom have factored child benefit into their budget) and make it less financially viable for those considering having a child / adding to their family.

Well done.

*Those thinking, well you must be well off being a higher tax rate payer - I earn a squeak over it and my wife has small part time earnings -a total less than two average skilled workers combined salary.*

(North American readers should note that 'Well done' is not in fact, well done, but employed sarcastically.)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Prayer Meme

Mac's (Mulier Fortis) meme has finally caught me via catholic teuchtar Both the teuchtar and Joe against the Volcano have got in there first with choices 1 and 2!

1 - Trisagon Prayers

Part of this Byzantine Catholic Morning Rule of Prayer I usually use.

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth,
You are everywhere present and fill all things.
Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life,
come and dwell within us,
cleanse us of all stain,
and save our souls, O gracious Lord.
Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal,
have mercy on us. (3 times)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us;
O Lord, cleanse us of our sins;
O Master, forgive our transgressions;
O Holy One, come to us and heal our infirmities for Your
Name's sake.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ
our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Lord, have mercy (12 times)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

2 - Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner

I have a short book by Bishop Kallistos Ware - The Power of the Name

The invocation of the Name if a prayer of the utmost simplicity, accessible to every Christian, but it leads at the same time to the deepest mysteries of contemplation....
No specialized knowledge or training is required before commencing the Jesus Prayer. To the beginner it is sufficient to say: Simply begin. ‘In order to walk one must take a first step; in order to swim one must throw oneself into the water. It is the same with the Invocation of the Name. Begin to pronounce it with adoration and love. Cling only of Jesus himself. Say his Name slowly, softly and quietly.’ ...

It embraces the two chief 'moments' of Christian devotion: the 'moment' of adoration of looking up to God's glory and reaching out to him in love; and the 'moment' of penitence, the sense of unworthyness and sin.

Any article or book that mentions the prayer almost always carries a caution, such as this and it would probably be remiss of me not to point this out

There are some cautions that are in order when practicing the Jesus Prayer.
• First, you should not practice this method of prayer unless you are regularly attending worship services, participating in the Sacraments of the Church, and reading the Scriptures.
• Second, you should not force yourself into the discovery within yourself of the action of the prayer of the heart.
• Third, you should not connect this practice with breathing exercises or other yoga techniques unless you are directed by your spiritual father.
Remember, delusion is your enemy. “An insignificant, unnoticed hope or trust in something outside God can stop the advance of progress... Faith in God is leader, guide, legs and wings.”35 If you begin to think that it is by your efforts that you will find unity with God, you are being deluded and in great spiritual danger.

3- Irish Cemetary Prayer

Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh, a fhoireann,
Go mbeannaí Dia daoibh agus Muire.
Bhí sibhse tamall mar atá sinne,
Beimidne fós mar atá sibhse.
Go rabhaimid go léir fé (faoi) mhaise
Ag Rí geal na cruinne.

May God bless all the company of souls here,
May God and Mary bless you.
You too spent a while here just as we are now
And we too will join you soon.
May we all be adorned in the beauty
of the bright King of heaven

from The Glenstal Book of Prayer

I will tag Infused Knowledge and Cursor Mundi...

Monday, 19 July 2010

Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna.

Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna.
(However long the day, the evening will come.)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

St Benedict (Not this year!)

July 11 is the Memoria of St Benedict, however, as it was the World Cup Final today, to use football terminolgy, this is 'relegated to the sub's bench' this year, 15th Sunday of Ordinary time taking it's place in the starting 11!

To you, therefore, my words are now addressed,
whoever you may be,
who are renouncing your own will
to do battle under the Lord Christ, the true King,
and are taking up the strong, bright weapons of obedience.

St Benedict

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Liturgical Entertainment - Theo Hobson (Guardian) would approve...

What is "emerging church"?...t is above all a presentation style - of openness, of scepticism towards the old fusty-dusty forms, of irreverence, of irony, of artiness, of political and environmental engagement...This is where I would place the emphasis, on the need for a new relationship with the festive arts – music, theatre, spectacle. We need a new paradigm of worship in which participatory public performance eclipses the church service. How might it emerge? We need some events that are big and bold enough to put this paradigm shift on the cultural map. For example, what about a large participatory public art event in London at Easter? It could be the centrepiece of a wider festival. For obvious reasons the bishops aren't going to organise this for us.

A New model Christianity

"For obvious reasons the bishops aren't going to organise this for us."

They already have.....Ugh! Papal Visit - "Litugical Entertainment"

I had an email from our diocesan visit coordinator, it had this terrifying sentence in, which I am sure originated not from her but some other source.

The Park [Hyde Park] will open from 2pm and liturgical entertainment will be running through the afternoon - dance acts, videos etc (it promises to be an enjoyable event). The Pope will arrive to conclude the prayer vigil and benediction and the whole event will be finished by 9.00pm. I am told that the Pope will be there for the latter half of the event.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Boston Bishop Elect - Interesting Photos

Whispers in the Loggia, which comments on appointments simply notes these are 'intreging' appointments.

Couple of photo's caught my eye on Cardinal Sean O'Malley's Blog.

'A large number of our staff and family and friends of the bishops-elect were on hand for the announcement'

The priest on the bottom left looks like he'd rather be anywhere, absolutely anywhere, than where he is sitting.

Unless there is an earthquake, one of the bishop elect looks like he is raising his hands to stop everything as it slides off the altar.

Seriously, prayers for the Bishops Elect as they prepare for their consecration.

Closure of St Francis' parish in Dundee

Closure of St Francis' parish in Dundee - Fr Geoffrey G. Attard, Victoria

Tears in the Friary after closure revealed - Dundee Courier

The parish has played an important part in Dundonian life since it was established in the 1930s.

As well as being a place of worship for the local Catholic community, its hall has hosted many social and fund-raising events.

Under the leadership of Father Eugene O'Sullivan, it quickly became the heart of the city's Irish student community in the 1990s.

Today it is home to Father Krzysztof Frost, who provides spiritual guidance to the city's Polish population.

He will move to St Joseph's parish on Blackness Road...

The last masses in the parish will take place on Sunday, August 15, which is the feast of the Assumption, the reception of the Virgin Mary into heaven.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

St Teresa of Avila

Those of you looking for some wisdom I'm afraid are to be disappointed, I'm simply looking for help from Spain's patron saint for their match against Germany.

The wife and I picked a team to win the World Cup, I went for Spain, she went for Germany, so tonight's match matters... the bet winner was to be whoever's team went furthest so if Germany win... for me there will be consequences...

Come on España!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The active and the contemplative life

A person consists of a soul and body, and therefore his life’s path should consist of both physical and spiritual activities — of deeds and contemplation.

The path of an active life consists of fasting, abstinence, vigilance, kneeling, prayer and other physical feats, composing the strait and sorrowful path which, by the word of God, leads to eternal life (Mt. 7:14).

The contemplative life consists in the mind aspiring to the Lord God, in awareness of the heart, focused prayer and in the contemplation of spiritual matters through such exercises.

Anyone desiring to lead a spiritual way of life must begin with the active life, and only later set about the contemplative, for without an active life it is impossible to lead a contemplative one.

Seraphim of Sarov

Monday, 28 June 2010

Let the children come to me... with incense

HT Byzantine, Texas, from Ad Orientem

I am visiting the family back in upstate New York for a little bit and today went off to the 9:30 AM divine liturgy at one of the eight(!) local Orthodox parishes that are within a convenient drive of my father's house. The liturgy was reasonably well attended for midsummer and was unremarkable until the time came for the last major censing by the deacon. The priest was at the altar with the doors open when suddenly a small boy, not more than four or five years old, broke loose from his parents and ran up towards the altar and... charged right through the doors and started tugging on the priests vestments.

I can now relate that the sudden and simultaneous intake of breath on the part of a couple of hundred people creates a very distinctive sound. But the silence that followed was almost painful. The parents... visibly horrified seemed not sure of whether or not to rush up and add to the chaos in the sanctuary. This was coupled with a deep silence from everyone else frantically trying to avert their eyes from what was at the least surely going to prove a terrible embarrassment if not a major catastrophe.

Then in a few seconds the crisis was ended. The priest looked over his shoulder and after a moment of visible (and understandable) shock, smiled and I thought he was going to laugh. With a quick motion of his hand he called over the deacon who had been in the process of censing and calmly relieved the deacon of his censor. He then bent over and handed the censor to the little boy, showing him how to hold it and swing it, and then directed him to finish censing the iconostasis and assorted icon stands.

Off went the overjoyed little boy, with the deacon hot on his trail, happily censing everything that looked even remotely like an icon. OK OK he almost knocked over a candle stand but the deacon saved the day. After he was done the deacon relieved him of the censor and quietly guided the happiest child in the city back to his parents.

I have no idea how many church canons or liturgical rubrics were violated today. But I can tell you that there was not a dry eye in the church.

I can relate, having grabbed one of my boys by the ankle as he crawled onto the sanctuary heading for the altar...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

CBeebies joins Culture of Death

Quick break from Blog fast.

Enjoying making a video card on CBeebies with the kids. Option for 'from' to be entered. Lots of options, including 'your mummies' and 'your daddies'.

No, I don't think this is aimed at Mum and Step mum...

I'm going to say I don't think this is right, now, because if Labour get back in I reckon it will be illegal to say this by the end of the next parliament.

Friday, 9 April 2010

That's all folks!

For now anyway.

I just don't have time between family and work to do justice to doing a blog. There are plenty of blogs that cover quotes, scottish catholic news and benedictine stuff better than here out there.

I'll still be lurking and commenting, and no I won't delete the blog as I know how much that annoys certain people out there!

(refering to The Cellarer) - Let him keep watch over his own soul, ever mindful of that saying of the Apostle: He who serves well secures a good standing for himself (1 Tim 3:13). RB Ch31

Sunday, 4 April 2010


The cleanest I've been
An end to the tears
And the in-between years
And the troubles I've seen

Now that I'm clean
You know what I mean
I've broken my fall
Put an end to it all
I've changed my routine
Now I'm clean

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Holy Thursday's Challenge

And each year, as we immerse ourselves into the unfathomable light and depth of Holy Thursday, the same decisive question is addressed to each one of us: do I respond to Christ's love and accept it as my life, do I follow Judas into the darkness of his night?

Fr. Alexander Schmemann

HT Byzantine, Texas

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Cafe Hmmmmmm Pt 2

After Cafe Hmmmmmm,

I've gone to the subsequent sessions, partly as I say to expose myself to something different in the Church, but sub-conciously I reckon expecting a substantial purgatorial credit!

Anyway, ended with people coming up to leaders on DVD to be 'prayed with' and hands laid on, though David Payne very clear to point out not a blessing. Parish groups invited to do same. The lady organising it came accross and asked would I like to be prayed with. I declined and again we discussed just how uncomfortable this stuff again had made me feel, to each their own.

The whole thing again just made me feel very uneasy. Not in a way that being uneasy is sometimes an invitation to do something difficult which can lead to something good, but the same sort of uneasyness that I felt again today when watching those LA RE Congress liturgical abuse videos.

I'm not saying no good comes from the Charasmatic Movement - see this article, but it's not for me - suum cuique pulchrum est

Monday, 29 March 2010

Eastern Advice for Holy Week

10 tips for holy week and Pascha - from Charming the Birds from the trees

H/T to Byzantine, Texas

1. Make participation at the Services a priority

2. In our homes we should strive to “keep out the world” and enter into the peace, solemnity, and theology of the events of the last days of our Lord.

3. Be sure to read the last chapters of the Holy Gospels that speak of the Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ.

4. If you are visiting another parish and wish to receive Communion, make sure that the priest knows who you are and that you are prepared. This should be done in advance by phone, email, or any other way.

Shows the emphasis Eastern / Catholic / Orthodox place on the Eucharist. I have read that it is said "priests will have to account for their care of the Eucharist at their judgement", hence why they are so careful!

5. Last year’s palms and pussy willows should be placed outside in an area to decay where they will not be disturbed. They are holy and should not be simply thrown out with the garbage.

EC;s & EO's do not do Ash Wed, this one is for them!

6. Before venerating Holy Objects, such as the Cross, the Chalice, Icons, or the Winding-Sheet, make sure to wipe off your lipstick or chapstick. Reminder: we do not kiss the face of our Lord, His Mother, or the Saints; in-stead kiss the hands or feet.

7. If you haven’t yet made your Confession during Great Lent, try to make it during the beginning of Holy Week. Speak with your priest to arrange a time.

8. Try to make amends with those we may be upset with or those who are upset with us, so that on Pascha we can joyfully sing, “Let us call brothers, even those that hate us, and forgive all by the Resurrection!”

9. Try to stay after the “Midnight Service” on Pascha morning for the blessing of baskets and festive meal. Let us share in the joy of the Lord’s Resurrection with fellowship and love.

None of this 4pm still light malarky!

10. During Bright Week, sing or read the Paschal Hours instead of your “normal” morning and evening prayers. Let the joy of praising the Lord’s Resurrection accompany you throughout Bright Week, the Paschal season, and your whole life.

Taken from Fr John's Sunday Bulletin

Friday, 26 March 2010

Strike Hard. Strike Sure. - The Great Ingratitude

On 26 March 1944 at 1944hrs Lancaster Bomber LL749 of 166 Sqn took off for Essen from RAF Kirmington. It FTR (Failed to Return)

Strike Hard. Strike Sure.

Flt Sgt John McInroy was 21, a Lancaster Bomber Flight Engineer. He had said to his aunt (my great grandmother) that he did not expect to return from his next op. Rather than a premonition, this was probably recognition of Bomber Command's heavy losses at this time - operational expectancy of crew was 16 operations in early 1944, i.e you statistically would not complete your 30 operation tour of duty.

He was particularly unlucky on this raid as the sudden switch to Ruhr target surprised the Luftwaffe, only 6 lancs were lost and 1 of those was a crash landing on return to base. My father recalls the family were told he was shot down on the way back. One member of the crew got out and spent the rest of the war as a POW.

A book called 'The Great Ingratitude' sums up our legacy of Bomber Command. No memorial, aside from a statue of Bomber Harris, exists.

The following is from an account of a fellow flight engineer whose lanc was lost on the same raid.

The Raid on Essen 26-27th March 1944:
At Linton-on-Ouse, all Lancasters of 426 ‘Thunderbird’ Squadron in flying condition were checked at their dispersal points. Aircraft DS711/OW "B" regularly flown by P/O Olsson was in repair having been badly shot up several days earlier. This was taken as a bad omen by four of the crew, including Tom who individually spoke to Sgt Hughes-Games the NCO in charge of servicing that night. One of the mess staff who had just become engaged to Vic Jones the mid-upper gunner was in tears and said, “She just knew they weren't coming back”. Tom's Lancaster DS789/OW “A” was bombed up with one 8,000 lb High Explosive ‘Cookie’ and 426 Incendiaries, loaded with over 2,000 gallons of high octane fuel and checked by ground crew. All aircrew flying that day attended a morning briefing when details of the targets in Essen, the bomb loads, rallying point, route, predicted weather conditions and specific problems were discussed. The Essen area was well defended; it contained Krupp armament factories and an oil refinery at nearby Gelsenkirchen.

In the afternoon, the crews rested and then collected their flying gear, ate a traditional meal of bacon and eggs and were taken to the dispersal points by motorised transport as they were weighed down by flying kit, parachutes and the breathing apparatus for high altitudes. The transports were often driven by WAAFS, which must have been traumatic for them knowing that they might not see these men again.

The aircraft was checked by ground crew and by Tom as Flight Engineer. It taxied from dispersal to the main runway, taking off with nine other Lancasters of 426 Squadron at 19.58 and rendezvoused over the East Coast with the main bomber stream.
The stream flew at 18,000-20,000 ft for the raid on Essen, avoiding areas of high flak and enemy fighters by ‘dog legging’ to the target. The target area was clearly marked by Oboe-equipped Mosquitoes and bombs were released at 20,000- 23,000ft through cloud....

705 bombers had taken part; 476 Lancasters, 207 Halifaxes, and 22 Mosquitoes. Six Lancasters were lost, almost the lowest total during that spring. Considerable damage was inflicted on Essen: 48 industrial premises and 1756 houses hit, 550 people killed including 74 slave workers and 138 concentration camp inmates. By the end of the war, it is estimated that 28% of industrial buildings, 24 % of housing and 20% of all facilities had been severely damaged.

Looking back:
It is impossible for us to appreciate the full horror of flying over occupied Europe in a Lancaster. The crew was in continuous darkness for six to nine hours, in cramped conditions, enduring deafening engine noise, using breathing equipment, at temperatures well below freezing and mainly in radio silence.

They knew that mechanical failure, fire, damage from anti aircraft fire and night fighter attack could cause injury or death and that the plane could be brought down over hostile country. The chances of escape from the plane were slim and even if they landed safely, capture on the ground and imprisonment for the rest of the war was almost inevitable. They were well aware too that the chance of surviving thirty raids, the normal tour of duty, was probably less than 50% at that period of the war.

It is for these reasons I feel it is essential not to forget the sacrifices of these men and many thousands more for our freedom today.

The Flight Engineer:
Flight Engineers tended to be the oldest in the crew. They normally came from an engineering background and would have worked as apprentices in civilian life becoming ground crew first, then aircrew. Tom would have been exceptional, joining the regular RAF at the age of 28. Training took about two years and as in Tom's case, was often in Canada where over 10,040 men were trained.

The Flight Engineer’s job was complex and involved liaison with ground crew to identify and solve problems. Before a sortie he was responsible for checking all electrical, hydraulic and mechanical systems were working correctly, the fuel tanks in the wings were balanced and that the engines were running at the correct temperatures and oil pressures, and that there was no outstanding damage to be repaired. This included over forty outside checks on flaps and mechanical linkages, including checking for oil, hydraulic and fuel leaks and checking his own and the pilot's control panels.

During take-off and landing he assisted the pilot with control of engine speeds, monitoring all systems and rectifying minor problems. During the flight he would monitor the balance in the fuel tanks and transfer petrol from one to the other to ensure even flight. He would look out for flak and enemy fighters, go forward into the nose and help the bomb aimer to drop ‘window’ to confuse enemy radar. If the plane were damaged, resulting in loss of control, he would make every effort to rectify the problem and assist the pilot to keep the plane flying correctly. The flight engineer would also help keep the plane straight and level during the bombing run. If the pilot was killed or injured, then Tom could take over and fly the plane, having been trained for this eventuality during basic training and on conversion to operational duties on Lancasters.

In Memory of

1820970, 166 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
who died age 21
on 27 March 1944
Son of James and Annie G. McInroy, of Dunblane, Perthshire.
Remembered with honour

In blessed repose, grant, O Lord, eternal rest to the soul of Your servant, John, and remember him forever. Eternal memory; eternal memory, grant, O Lord, to Your servant, John, blessed repose and eternal memory.

166 Squadron Memorial

Saturday, 20 March 2010


The impulse is the beginning, the saints explain. Then intercourse* follows, when we enter further into what the impulse brings with it. The third step is already consent, and the fourth is the committed sin. These four stages can succeed each other instantly, but they can also give way by degrees so that one can manage to separate them. The impulse knocks like a salesman at the door. If one lets him in, he begins his sales talk about his wares, and it is hard to get rid of him even if one observes that the wares are not good. Thus follow consent and finally the purchase, often against one's own will. One has let himself be led astray by what the evil one has sent.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


God does not need our fasting. He does not even need our prayer. The Perfect cannot be thought of as suffering any lack or needing anything that we, the creatures of His making, could give Him. Nor does he crave anything from us, but, says John Chrysostom, He allows us to bring Him offerings for the sake of our own salvation.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Latin heard at Mass!

Up seeing parents at weekend and took opportunity with better half to go to Mass in old traditional Church - St Mary's Stirling, as a break from the architectural purgatory (as always, great priest, great parish, dreadful church building - before I get into trouble!)we have to endure. St Mary's does not have a website, will have to take camera next time. The rederos behind the main altar have been removed at some point and a divine mercy Christ painting added, which has gold glitter around Him, which I'm afraid reminded me of the type of finish we get when my kids and I put pritt stick on a page and pour glitter over it!

Fr Owens (away this week) has a good choir going, and they did the Kyrie, Agnus Dei etc in Latin. The hymns were either penetential or at least not joyful, in keeping with the season. It was uplifting, if you can say that in Lent.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Cardinal O'Brien responds to Pope on Lay Apostolate and Lay Ministry

Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh
Pastoral Resources

E-bulletin for Pastoral Resources Feb 2010 No.2

Since my last message via the E Bulletin, the major event which has occurred for me has been my ad Limina visit to Pope Benedict XVI in the company of my brother Bishops of Scotland. As President of the Conference, it fell to me to address the Holy Father and then in the company of my brother Bishops to listen to the Pope‟s response to us on this visit. These speeches are on my website.
I am sure that of particular interest to all of the readers of the E Bulletin will be what the Pope said about lay apostolate and lay ministry. The full text of his words is available on my own website but perhaps I could quote them in full: “Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest‟s role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity. Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking conception of their ecclesial role. Yet the Second Vatican Council‟s vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation – in the family, at home, at work – they are actively participating in the Church‟s mission to sanctify the world. A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give a strong impetus to the task of evangelising society”.
I am speaking about this on my visits around the diocese at the Lenten Station Masses, emphasising that the lay apostolate is incumbent on each and every member of the lay faithful by virtue of the Sacraments of Initiation. We must practise this as the Pope has said for all living out their vocation „in the family, at home, at work‟.

The Cardinal quite rightly backs up the Pope's comment on the distinction between lay apostolate and lay ministry.

While emphasising this invaluable lay apostolate, we must also remember the importance of lay ministry in our Church at this present time. One would wonder just where we would be without that great army building up the Church in our Archdiocese in so many wonderful ministries open to them. I take this opportunity of thanking all involved in the life of our Church in whatever way in our Archdiocese at this present time and pray that the lay faithful be ever more aware of both their lay apostolate, as well as the opportunity of lay ministry in so many and varied ways.

The Cardinal also quite rightly notes the importance of lay ministry but the crucial point is it's justification. 'Where would we be without...' In severe trouble operating would be the answer with ever diminishing numbers of priests and religious. What I believe Cardinal O'Brien is saying is the Lay Apostolate is most important, but in the times we face just now lay ministry is necessary.

I was a 'lay chaplain', yes I know that may grate for some, but it was what the diocese called me, for a school in the diocese. Why did I do it? Someone needed to carry out the role as the school chaplain had two parishes, two schools, national and diocesan responsibilites and was in his seventies. If (when, God willing) we get a burst of priests and religious I would have stepped aside in a second, gladly, for those more qualified and called to do it.

The problem comes, I think when lay people think they have 'right' to a certain ministry and / or the priesthood is 'not important.'

Thursday, 11 March 2010

CaFE. Hmmmmm.

Our parish has been showing the 'Life to The Full' (click the Life to the Full tab) (NB Those with an aversion to praise music are warned to turn volume down now!) CaFE series.

I've gone along as I'm fairly new to the parish, good way to meet people and also to expose myself, challenge I suppose, to something different, I've seen some CaFE stuff before - to make a change from the Benedictine / Eastern Catholic & Orthodox books that line my shelves.

I found the first one interesting, but the third one just grated. Maybe it was the praise music, sounded the same as my oldest friend's Baptist Church, maybe it was relentless over the top charismatic happiness, maybe it was the stand up and put your hands out prayer at the end. That did grate. But I came home feeling spiritually uneasy. I know (as they often do) my eyeballs rolled into the ceiling at some points.

Anyone else had a similar experience?


BY throwing off the outer bonds, you throw off the inner as well. While you are freeing yourself from external concerns, your heart is freed from inner pain. It follows from this that the hard warfare you are compelled to wage with yourself is exclusively a means. As such it is neither good nor bad; the saints often liken it to a prescribed cure. However painful it may be to follow out, it nevertheless remains only a means to regain health.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Headmaster regrets loss of 'Catholic world'

THE head of one of Scotland's leading Catholic schools has said the religious world he and others grew up in "is gone".
John Stoer, headmaster of St Aloysius' College in Glasgow, said it was quite painful that a joined-up "Catholic world" of school, parish and home was no more.Click for full article in The Herald

For all but a few it's gone. In my wife's day (she went to a Catholic school) the majority of staff were religious sisters. The Parish Priest had assistants and there would usually be a curate kicking about. Most would be in and out of the school regularly. Most pupils would go to Mass on a Sunday.

Now priests have three or more parishes and struggle to do more than celebrate sacraments in schools. Many are older and have lost that ability to relate to children, i.e. in past would have had the asst / curate do this. No religious brothers or sisters in schools. Low percentage of pupil's attending Mass.

My analogy is that we have currently been pushed back into the trenches and are pinned down. Not time to give up, time to dig in until times get better and go over the top and reclaim lost land...


"I feel a great calm in my soul: a peace which no words can express." - from a story about St Seraphim of Sarov in a Pluscarden Letter - click link.

He has made peace with himself, as Isaac the Syrian says, and heaven and earth have made peace with him. He is gathering the fruit of humility. But this takes place only on the narrow way, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14).

Friday, 26 February 2010


What is the world, then? You ought not to imagine it as something sinful and tangible. The world, explains St. Macarius of Egypt, is the veil of dark flames that surround the heart and shut it out from the tree of life. The world is everything that holds us and satisfies us sensuously: that within us which has not known God (John 17:25). To the world belong our desires and impulses. St. Isaac the Syrian enumerates them: Weakness for wealth and for collecting and owning things of different kinds; the urge for physical (sensuous) enjoyment; the longing for honour, which is the root of envy; the desire to conquer and be the deciding factor; pride in the glory of power; the urge to adorn oneself and to be liked; the craving for praise; concern and anxiety for physical well-being. All these are of the world; they combine deceitfully to hold us in heavy bonds.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


Take remarks without grumbling: be thankful when you are scorned, disregarded, ignored. But do not create humbling situations; they are provided in the course of the day as richly as you need. We notice the person who is for ever bowing and fussily servile, and perhaps say, How humble he is! But the truly humble person escapes notice: the world does not know him (I John 3:I); for the world he is mostly a "zero."

(After her death, one of the nuns in her convent wondered what they would say about her as to her she had done nothing notable. A Doctor of the Church was seen as a 'zero'

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Refrain from busying yourself, therefore, with charity bazaars, sewing meetings and other such occupations. Busyness over many things is, in all its forms, chiefly a poison. Look within, examine yourself accurately, and you observe that many of these apparently self-giving deeds spring from a need to deafen your conscience: that is, from your uncontrollable habit of satisfying and pleasing yourself (Romans 15:1).

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Cardinal O'Brien - a "systematic and unrelenting attack on family values".

The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has accused the Labour government of conducting a "systematic and unrelenting attack on family values". The attack came as Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, a practising Catholic, claimed religious faith has a role in British politics. Mr Murphy said in a lecture that Labour best represents people of faith.

I had to read the above several times before moving on. Murphy cannot possibly believe this can he? Before anyone sees this as a right wing endorsement, I'm no fan of any party, Thatcherite laisez faire capitalism has been hugely damaging and laid the foundations for our current financial crisis

But Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic accused the government of "undermining religious freedom". And a spokesman for the Scottish National Party said Mr Murphy was guilty of "crude electioneering" by trying to "corner the market regarding people's faith".

Albeit Mr Salmond has done a fair bit of wooing the Catholic vote saying nice things about Catholic schools, but SNP voting on issues such as abortion is as bad as the rest.

A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed. Mr Murphy focused on the key part "values voters" can play in the election when he delivered the Progress lecture in London on Tuesday evening. He argued that faith values have always been "at the very foundations of the Labour Party".

I went to some trouble to go home to try and get Forsyth out (an arch Thatcherite) in the days when Labour had a concern for social justice and society. Those days are long gone and even hardcore Labour supporters here are finally realising this.

In his lecture, the Scottish secretary said: "In the US, faith has long played a central part in politics. Not surprising for a country where 60% of people say that God plays an important part in their lives. "But it's wrong to think that it plays no role in British politics." The MP for East Renfrewshire added: "Faith voters massively outweigh 'Motorway Men' or 'Worcester Woman' or any other trendy demographic group identified by marketeers."

'Firm foundations'

He also told the audience that like faith, the family was "another force for good" and "the most important thing in our country".

Why aren't your party supporting it then?

The minister added: "As well as providing a supportive intellectual environment, it's a potential source of financial support in difficult days."

Supportive intellectual environment, the intellectual bit is the most important is it? True colours shown, like the Thatcherites before them, it's money that counts.

His comments were in contrast to the stated attitude of former Labour communications chief Alastair Campbell. Despite former prime minister Tony Blair's strong religious faith, Campbell famously said: "We don't do God". Mr Blair himself said he had avoided talking about his religious views while in office for fear of being labelled "a nutter".Jim Murphy said religion was at the "very foundations" of the Labour party. Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, welcomed Mr Murphy's "recognition of the role played by faith and religion in society".

But he added: "A tangible example by the government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed.

There aren't any.

"Instead we have witnessed this government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values. This is a charge I personally put to Gordon Brown when we met in 2008 and I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed."

English Bishops take note....

Ironically, Mr Murphy had been due to mention the Cardinal by name in his speech by saying: "When the Cardinal speaks, people listen."

Conservative leader David Cameron recently spoke of the importance of his Christian faith, while acknowledging that it grew "hotter and colder by moments". He said he did not have a "direct line" to God and did not pray for guidance from the almighty. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he did not believe in God. However, he later added he had "enormous respect for people who have religious faith", that his wife is Catholic and that his children are being brought up Catholic.

Faith voters

A spokesman for Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Politicians are fully entitled to declare their personal testament, as the first minister has done and indeed would encourage others to do so. "However, it is quite a different matter to make any suggestion that a political party should seek to corner the market regarding people's faith."To do so would be absurd, unreal, and bear the hallmarks of crude electioneering, which would backfire rather badly. "The reality is that people of all faiths and none support the different parties in Scotland, and that forms part of the vibrant political system we have."

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "Jim Murphy is taking the Labour Party into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote.

It wouldn't be a BBC article without Terry. Who was that dreadful Rabbi on BBC with Ed Balls this morning?

"His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding him to the facts. It is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote.

Until very recently most of their congregation could not vote. Now most of them cannot be bothered, see no choice or see the governements like this one ram through legislation most of the electorate do not agree with.

People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone."

Oh give me a break...


The explanation is to be found precisely in our unwillingness to persecute ourselves. We overcome after a fashion, perhaps, our serious and dangerous vices, but there it stops. The small desires we freely let grow as they will. We neither embezzle nor steal, but delight in gossiping; we do not "drink," but consume immoderate quantities of tea and coffee instead. The heart remains quite as full of appetites: the roots are not pulled out and we wander around in the tanglewoods that have sprung up in the soil of our self-pity.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Enjoy the Silence

In December I managed to see Depeche Mode, who I had wanted to see since my twenties! A lot of their material is on the big stuff of life, love, life, death, regret, redemption

Enjoy the Silence -(Video here, as embedding disabled)
Words are very unecessary, they can only do harm
The video has imagery with a nod to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince.
"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." ("It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")

Friday, 19 February 2010


Still another piece of information the saints offer on the way: you should see yourself as a child who is setting out to learn the first sounds of letters and who is taking his first tottering steps. All worldly wisdom and all the skills you may have are totally worthless in the warfare that awaits you, and equally without value are your social standing and your possessions.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


THE new life you have just entered has often been likened to that of a gardener. The soil he tills he has received from God, as well as the seed and the sun's warmth and the rain and the power to grow. But the work is entrusted to him.

If the husbandman wishes to have a rich harvest, he must work early and late, weed and aerate, water and spray, for cultivation is beset by many dangers that threaten the harvest. He must work without ceasing, be constantly on watch, constantly alert, constantly prepared; but even so, the harvest ultimately des wholly on the elements, that is, on God.

The garden that we have undertaken to tend watch over is the field of our own heart; the harvest is eternal life.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


THE holy Fathers say with one voice: The first thing to keep in mind is never in any respect to rely on yourself. The warfare that now lies before you is extraordinarily hard, and your own human powers are altogether insufficient to carry it on. If you rely on them you will immediately be felled to the ground and have no desire to continue the battle. Only God can give you the victory you wish.

This decision not to rely on self is for most people a severe obstacle at the very outset. It must be overcome, otherwise we have no prospect of going further. For how can a human being receive advice, instruction and help if he believes that he knows and can do everything and needs no directions? Through such a wall of self-satisfaction no gleam of light can penetrate. Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight, cries the prophet Isaiah (5:21), and the apostle St. Paul utters the warning: Be not wise in your own conceits (Romans 12:16). The kingdom of heaven has been revealed unto babes, but remains hidden from the wise and prudent (Matthew 11:25).

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Lenten Book - Way of The Ascetics

Way of the Ascetics for Lenten reading.

IF you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He arose and came (Luke 15:20).

However weighed down and entangled in earthly fetters you may be, it can never be too late. Not without reason is it written that Abraham was seventy-five when he set forth, and the labourer who comes in the eleventh hour gets the same wages as the one who comes in the first.

Nor can it be too early. A forest fire cannot be put out too soon; would you see your soul ravaged and charred?

In baptism you received the command to wage the invisible warfare against the enemies of your soul; take it up now. Long enough have you dallied; sunk in indifference and laziness you have let much valuable time go to waste. Therefore you must begin again from the beginning: for you have let the purity you received in baptism be sullied in dire fashion.

Ignatian spirituality is my second love following a wise Irish priest's spiritual direction just before being recieved into the Catholic Church so I'm going to do this as well.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Christian airline employee loses cross ban appeal

Despite BA changing it's policy, the court case has run longer than 'Friends' (the TV series) and the new missal translation saga put together. As usual, the winners are the lawyers who have run up fees not that far short of RBS's losses. The losers, are of course you and me, the courts having decided to give the green light to other companies who fancy following BA's lead.

Christian airline employee loses cross ban appeal

A Christian British Airways (BA) employee has lost her appeal against a ruling which allowed the airline to stop her wearing a cross at work.

Nadia Eweida, 58, wanted the Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling that she had not faced discrimination.

In 2006 she went home after failing to reach a compromise with managers over the visible display of the plain silver cross on a chain around her neck.

The following year the airline changed its uniform policy.

Lord Justice Sedley, giving the ruling of the court, said her case of indirect discrimination was defeated by BA's case on justification.

'Startling judgement'

He said: "This case has perhaps illustrated some of the problems which can arise when an individual asserts that a provision, criterion or practice adopted by an employer conflicts with beliefs which they hold, but which may not only not be shared but may be opposed by others in the workforce.

"It is not unthinkable that a blanket ban may sometimes be the only fair solution."

Lord Justice Sedley said Miss Eweida is a devout practising Christian who worked part-time as a member of check-in staff since 1999.

She made complaints about incidents between 2003 and 2006 which she claimed showed anti-Christian bias on the part of BA.

Human rights group Liberty said in a statement that the appeal court had upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal's (EAT) "startling" judgment of November 2008.

It found that banning Ms Eweida from wearing a cross was not discriminatory because Christians "generally" do not consider wearing a cross as a requirement of their religion.

'Religious tolerance'

Corinna Ferguson who represented Miss Eweida, said: "This is a disappointing judgment that will do little to build public confidence in equality laws protecting everyone.

"But this is just the sort of case that a Supreme Court is for and we have every hope that the highest court in the land will put Britain's long tradition of religious tolerance into modern legal practice."

A spokesman for the airline said: "British Airways is very satisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, which yet again confirms that British Airways has acted appropriately and lawfully in relation to Ms Eweida."

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, said the failure of the appeal would lead to further cases of religious discrimination.

He said: "I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that people of faith are facing particular hardship in a period where different freedoms and rights are being tested against each other."

In 2004, the airline scrapped a high-necked uniform and introduced a new one, which could be open neck and prohibited the wearing of any visible item of adornment around the neck.

It introduced an amended policy in 2007 which permitted staff to display a faith or charity symbol with the uniform.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Septuagesmia , Triodion

While Septuagesmia may have started relatively recently, our Eastern brothers and sisters are well into the Triodion period.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

All Saints of Scotland Icon

Icon or Statue?

Icon? Me too.

In which case you will want to check out Western Saints Icon Project

HT Byzantine, Texas

Sunday, 24 January 2010

St Frances de Sales on Devotion

From the introduction to the ‘Devout Life’ by St Francis de Sales.

At the creation God commanded the plants to bear fruit each according to its kind and he likewise commands Christians, the living branches of the vine, to bear fruit by practising devotion according to their state in life.

The practice of devotion must differ from the gentleman and the artisan, the servant and the prince, for widow, young girl or wife. Further, it must be adapted to their particular strength, circumstances and duties. Is the solitary life of the Carthusian suited to a Bishop? Should those who are married practice the poverty of the Capuchin? If workmen spent as much time in church as religious, if religious were subjected to the same pastoral calls as a bishop, such devotion would be ridiculous and cause intolerable disorder.

Yet this foolish mistake is often made. True devotion never causes harm, but rather perfects everything we do; a devotion which conflicts with anyone’s state of life is undoubtedly false.

The bee sucks honey from the flowers without injuring them, leaving them as whole and fresh as when it found them. Devotion goes further, not only is it unharmful to any state of life, it adorns and beautifies it. Precious stones of all kinds when steeped in honey become more brilliant thereby, each one according to its colour, so every one becomes more loveable ad more perfect in his vocation if he combines it with devotion.

It makes the care of family peaceful, the love of husband and wife more sincere, the service of one’s king more faithful, and every task more pleasant and a joy. It is not only erroneous, but a heresy, to hold that life in the army, the workshop, the court, or the home is incompatible with devotion. Purely contemplative, monastic or religious devotion cannot be practised in these callings; yet these are not the only kinds of devotion; there are many others more suitable for those who live in the world and capable of leading them to perfection.

Wherever we find ourselves we may not only may, but should, seek perfection.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Baptism of Ice

I'm wondering how many parishes took advantage of the recent chill to do this...

(Click on image to see at readable size)

HT - Byzantine, Texas