Monday, December 06, 2010

Cafeteria Catholic Guilt

Yesterday afternoon I met a friend of mine, a committed Christian who is not a Catholic, who paid me a compliment: "You are not like other Catholics, you are full of joy whilst they are filled with guilt and repression." Whilst I do not deserve this compliment (I am often not joyful and can be pretty irritable at times) this did make me think.

Why do so many people associate being Catholic with being racked by guilt and not joy? In my lifetime I have certainly made enough mistakes and turned my back on God at different times to deserve to feel guilty so why does so called 'Catholic Guilt' not apply to me? If I ever feel guilty about something, then I tend to realise that this is precisely because I've done something wrong, not because of the church trying to make me feel that way.

If at the end of each day I have sinned in any way, I will confess this and receive forgiveness because of what Christ did for me by dying on the cross. This daily examination of conscience brings me joy, peace and serenity. Not one day goes past when I do not need to confess and receive grace and in doing so, receive greater freedom and joy.

Our faith is more than a religion, a culture, a label - it is the joy of living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It means that we may make mistakes, mess up, sin and fall but we can turn back to Him and accept the grace offered us through His death and resurrection. GK Chesterton's wonderful imagery comes to mind: "Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground." In a playground, people will have freedom - they will sometimes fall over, but their friends will help pick them up again.

If someone has an identity as a Catholic because they went to a Catholic School, used to go to Mass, prefer fish on Fridays, drink Guinness or they support Glasgow Celtic (I've seen it all) but they don't go to Mass, then why look to them as to what being Catholic means? Listening to some rent-a-bores telling us how repressed they are because of their Catholic upbringing makes about as much sense as someone with a gym membeship they never use complaining that they're overweight.

Even going to Mass or Confession do not in themselves indicate that we are Catholic. If I go to Mass but pick and choose from a menu which parts of Christ's teaching to follow then what right do I have to go round telling people that being Catholic is about guilt?

Perhaps those of us who are brought up with a Christian faith will know how to discern right from wrong. If we decide to ignore this and do what we kow to be a sin, then of course, we will feel guilty. In this case we have a choice. We could choose to complain, criticise the Pope, campaign for the church to change its teaching, picket cathedrals and tell everyone we know about "Catholic Guilt". The truth is that they are suffering from something called "Cafeteria Catholic Guilt". The cure for this deadly disease is to examine how we think, act and behave and ask forgiveness - we will then experience freedom - Catholic Joy.

Another form of this deadly disease of Cafeteria Catholicism is when someone goes to Mass, undertakes numerous devotions and has their own favourite apparition but disobeys Christ by harbouring resentment, refusing to forgive or condemning others for their sins without looking at their own. This is no less Cafeteria Catholicism - picking and choosing from a menu - and can only bring bitterness and not the joy that is offered by Our Lord.

If we live life as a Catholic - offering ouselves in obedience and submision to Christ - then we will live a life filled with joy and a peace that the world cannot give. As Catholics we are called to surrender our lives to Him completely. When we do this, we will not see being Catholic as being about a bunch of rules to follow but we will be transformed from the inside.

If we invite Christ to live within us then we would not need rules to tell us to be generous, to love our neighbour, to forgive and bless as we would naturally be transformed. When we confess our sins, attend Mass in a state of grace, receive communion and read the scriptures with an open mind, then we cannot remain the same. We should no longer wish to commit adultery, harbour resentment or tell lies. If I go to Mass or say the rosary purely out of habit or obligation then I may not be open to graces that are offered.

My friend who sees joy within me knows that I have messed up, sometimes pretty badly, but also knows that Christ's grace is more powerful than any of my sins. If I go around feeling guilty when I have already been forgiven, then I am listening to Satan, the accuser, rather than Christ, our advocate. I do not always feel joyful but when this is the case, it is perhaps a reminder that I need to change in some way. When I do change, then the joy is greater than it was before.

To conclude, I would like to quote a man who lives the joy of a life committed to Jesus Christ:

"True freedom is rooted in knowledge of and loving obedience to God, as well as the grace of true penitence, the need for pardon, renewal and transformation."

- Pope Benedict XVI (speaking on 15th April 2010)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The State Papal Visit

It has been several months since I blogged anything due to the inconvenience of having a day job. There have been many thoughts in my mind over the last few months but I wish to reflect on the first ever State Papal visit to the United Kingdom.

There are many moments that struck me during the visit: the common Christian witness of the Pope and the Queen; the Pope sitting at the same place where St Thomas More was condemned to death within the Palace of Westminster and of course the Beatification of John Henry Newman.

The meeting between the Pope and the Queen had an impact on me. Both are heads of state and both are Christian leaders. Although they may differ on so many areas it strikes me that they both have something very important in common: they both strike me as committed Christians who have dedicated their lives to others. The Queen welcomed the Pope with the words, "your presence here today reminds us of our common Christian heritage" and he reminded her of the great contributions of so many British Christians from William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale and John Henry Newman.

The speech in the Palace of Westminster struck me more than anything else. The speaker of the House of Commons recalled his predecessor, Thomas More and Pope Benedict recalled the witness of the 'great English scholar and stateman' in the place where the fomer speaker was condemned to death for refusing to put his loyalty to the King above that he owed to God. Listening to the Pope's words in front of so many politicians, I only pray that some of them may listen to his teachings and protect people from forms of socialism and capitalism that lead to injustices and poverty, avoid illegal war, protect all human life from conception, promote compassion and to protect freedom of conscience.

The Beatification of John Henry Newman began with my favourite hymn, Praise to the Holiest and I was moved throughout the ceremony by the crowds, the ritual and the words spoken. The life of John Henry Newman points us again to someone who put truth before convenience, a man whose life shows that we do not have the choice in life between orthodoxy, reason or compassion but they can and should exist together. Blessed John Henry Newman has often been called "the Father of Vatican II" in the sense that he anticipated key themes of the Council and rightly so. The Council he anticipated is not the false 'spirit of Vatican II' but its authentic teachings based on Scripture and Tradition. Blessed John Henry Newman and Pope Benedict share a love for Christ and his Church, a desire to spread the Gospel but rooted in the truth.

My overall impressions following the Papal visit however are that there was such a contrast between the love, joy and hope found in those who welcomed the Pope and the hatred, bigotry and ignorance all too evident in those who attacked and prosted him. The words of the Pope throughout his visit point us to Christ, the only name under which we can be saved.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

What the Church needs: A radical leader.

What is the solution to the difficulties surrounding the Catholic Church today?

The Church needs nothing less than a radical leader who can:

  • Focus on the core tenets of our faith: God's amazing love for us and our response to this.

  • Fight the scourge of child abuse by cutting through Vatican bureaucracy and red-tape.

  • Be strong enough to remove those in the church who have abused their positions.

  • Implement the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in their entirety.

  • Move beyond endless ecumenical committees but take concrete steps for Christian unity.

  • Reach out to Eastern Orthodox Christians who share our faith but are separated from us.

  • Breakdown centuries of misunderstanding between Lutherans and Catholics on faith.

  • Welcome those who accept Catholic teaching but are attached to their own faith traditions.

  • Understand the Holy Spirit has always been with the Church and not just since the 1960s

  • Restore in our liturgies the sense of the sacred and the beautiful.

  • Lead by example by promoting worship that is God-centred not priest-centred.

  • Increase our knowledge of scripture by ensuring accurate translations of the Mass.
  • Ignore hate-filled criticisms and set an example by visiting the poor and the sick.

  • Undermine those who attack the faith by talking of the 'pre' or 'post-conciliar' Church.

The Church needs Pope Benedict XVI: Ad mutos anos!

Pope Benedict XVI: Change you really-can believe in

Pope of Christian Unity and of Vatican II

"Love one another."

Today is Maundy Thursday and we recall the words of Christ, "A new commandment I give to you: love one another as I have loved you." [John 13:34] The English word 'Maundy' is generally held to be come from the Latin, "Mandatum novum" from this same passage of scripture. Love is the essence of our faith.

Today's liturgy is a powerful celebration of the depth of the love that Christ has for us and an invitation to us to respond to this love. The Church recalls his washing the feet of the disciples before his betrayal, the institution of the Eucharist and ends with a solemn procession of the Blessed Sacrament to an altar of repose symbolising Christ's journey to the Garden of Gethsemense where he will be betrayed. It is for this reason that Christians will traditionally watch with Christ and pray at this time, perhaps for an hour in remembrance of his rebuke to the apostles, "Could you not watch with me one hour?" [Matthew 24:40]

In England to this present day, the monarch will give specially minted Maundy Money to the poor as a sign of Christ's care for all. In the past the King or Queen would also wash the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ although this practice stopped after the overthrow of the last Catholic King, James II.

Enjoy the haunting simplicity of the piece below thanks to two priests called Thomas. St Thomas Aquinas wrote the words in the 13th Century and the Spanish Renaissance composer, Tomás Luis de Victoria produced the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae (Office of Holy Week of which this is part) in 1585.

The commandment we are given on this day, to love as Christ loves us, is not easy. The Pange Lingua reminds us that this literally means loving to death, the shedding of his precious blood. It is no coincidence that the Mass was instituted at the same time as this great commandment. The words, 'Ite Missa Est' from which we get the word 'Mass' do not just signify that it is time to leave but are a call for us to bring Christ's love to the world around us even if this involves sacrifice.

Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium,Sanguinisque pretiosi, quem in mundi pretium Fructus ventris generosi, Rex effudit gentium.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum veneremur cernui: Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui: Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque laus et iubilatio, Salus, honor, virtus quoque sit et benedictio: Procedenti ab utroque compar sit laudatio. Amen.

Sing, my tongue, the Saviour's glory,of his flesh the mystery sing; of the blood, all price exceeding, shed by our immortal King, destined, for the world's redemption, from a noble womb to spring.

Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred host we hail; Lo! o'er ancient forms departing, newer rites of grace prevail; faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father, and the Son who reigns on high,with the Holy Ghost proceeding forth from each eternally, be salvation, honour, blessing,might and endless majesty. Amen.

Getting the hang of hats

Stuart Reid, of Sunday Telegraph and Spectator fame is always worth reading but one recent article in the Catholic Herald was sartorial rather than theological in nature.

I hereby reproduce the article in full along with my comments:


When you get old, you started do things that you would never have dreamt of doing when you were young and still had a bit of self-respect. Like wearing a hat.

I have a brown felt hat with a wide brim. You might call it a trilby that is too big for its boots, or maybe it is a fedora. I've had the hat for some time, but until fairly recently seldom wore it.

One reason was vanity: I feared that I looked more idiotic in a hat than out of one, and the fear was not entirely groundless. Once, when I was returning home by Tube from the office, a high-spirited young man indicated my hat to his companions and cried out: "Yee-haw!" My, the merriment... [The contempt of the ignorant is surely a good reason to wear a hat?]

This winter, however, I have been wearing my hat a lot, and I am now beginning to think that a hat might bring dignity and purpose to my declining years. If I am to be worthy of a hat, however, I really must learn how to use one.

Unfortunately, there are not many instructors left. Men stopped wearing hats in the Sixties, apparently under the influence of President Kennedy, who liked to go about uncovered. [If the Kennedy went about uncovered, this would surely be a motive to do the opposite?]

Perhaps I can learn from my father's example. He wore a trilby in town and would raise it rather elaborately when approaching a woman. There was something theatrical about this gesture, even a bit ironic, but it was charming all the same. When he was a bit tight, he would take his hat off, press it to his chest, click his heels, and bow. [Splendid.]

Until last week, I had never thought that I might one day do something of the sort myself. In the past few days, however, and very tentatively - you don't want to get into trouble with the police - I have started to raise my hat to women on the common.

I obviously still have much to learn. Should you, for example, doff your hat to strange women (as I do)? Or only to women you know, such as your wife or mother or case-worker? I am not absolutely sure. [I read somewhere that this depends on one's level of intimacy with the lady in question, something that could lead to awkward social situations I'm sure.]

In the course of researching this subject, however, I came across an article by Marian T Horvat, PhD entitled "Getting the Ball Rolling on Hats". The article was posted on "Tradition in Action", a website edited by Atila Sinke Guimarães, a Brazilian of German extraction.

In spite of its occasionally rather strident tone, the site appears to be sound on hats. At any rate I can detect nothing heretical or schismatic or unreasonably integrist in its approach.

Here's what the good Dr Horvat has to say: "Besides protecting a man against the elements, a hat properly worn gives him dignity. [I fear that this is not always the case. A trilby worn at an illicitly jaunty angle could look positively rakish.] It also permits him to practise a small ceremonial, that is, an act recognising the right condition or social status of others."

For example: "If a lady who is a stranger thanks [a man] for some service or assistance, he lifts his hat in acknowledgement."If he accidentally jostles or disturbs a lady in a crowd or in passing her in a tight space, he lifts his hat and excuses himself, saying 'I beg your pardon'."

Also: "A man habitually doffs his hat when he enters into a conversation with a lady or a group of ladies. [What if it is a group of ladies plus someone of indeterminate gender? Should one simply adjust the angle of their hat to play safe?] If the conversation is more than a short greeting, the well-bred lady or ladies should invite him after a short while to return his hat to his head. The man also recovers his hat should he continued on his walk either alone or with one of the ladies."

Furthermore: "If the man stops to speak with a superior, after greeting him, he should remain with his feet together and with his hat in his hand until he is invited to cover his head."Plus: "Keep your hat clean and free from dust, sweat, dirt, and fuzz. The fact that a hat belonged to your grandfather or has a sentimental value does not legitimise the use of a dirty, stained or tattered hat. Far from being considered a gentleman and a man of good taste, the wearer of such a hat makes himself a laughing stock in good society."

Way to go, Dr Horvat. Here's another tip: when you doff your hat you should keep the inside of it towards yourself, since no one wants to see the stained sweat band, the traces of Truefitt & Hill Hair Management Pomade, the white rabbit, etc. [Eminently sensible.]

Where does all this leave the priests who have lately taken to wearing soup-plate hats? It's not for me to say, but here's a rubric I have just made up: if a priest wearing a soup-plate hat meets a lady parishioner, he should smile encouragingly and extend his hand so that she may kiss it. [The hand or the hat?]

Same applies to priests who wear a biretta outside. It goes without saying that laymen must remove their hats before entering a church. Or does it? You will quite often see men in baseball caps in church, especially in the great churches of Tuscany, but they seem to have been born - and perhaps conceived - in baseball caps, and therefore do not know that they are wearing one.

Conversely, some women remove their baseball hats when entering a church, out of a misguided sense of respect, not knowing that women are still encouraged to cover their heads. [So the baseball hat could act as a mantilla in the spirit of Vatican II?]

It would be a mistake to get too fogey about this. [Why not?] The old ways are best, of course, but that's no excuse for obscurantism.

Not so long ago, according to Dr Seuss, the International Hat-Doffing Rules Committee met to revise Rule Number 196. [If the IHDRC doesn't actually exist, I want to found it.] That rule, as Dr Seuss records, deals with the etiquette of doffing a top hat while carrying a cane, an umbrella, a bust of Catullus and a watermelon. Condemning the old way as too clumsy - but without describing it - the Committee now allows you to balance the watermelon on your left calf. [I strongly disagree with this decision and think the watermelon should be balanced on the bust of Catullus which should be balanced on the right calf.]

Sorted. Maybe I'll get the hang of hats after all.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A devilishly good read

Occasionally a Catholic writer comes on to the scene who can captivate readers of all faiths and none.

I have had the privilege of reading a novel called "The Devil's Fairytale" by the little known writer, Greg Stewart. It would be a compelling read for those of any background and would have a positive impact on someone who does not yet know Christ.

The author describes it as follows: It is dark and epic and draws heavily on Grimm’s Fairytales but as the story progresses the reality of a supernatural world unfolds, and then as people takes sides in the developing struggle, a Christian reality slowly shines through, affecting all of the characters in one way or another, There is also a strong pro-life message and an emphasis on the power of sacrifice, friendship and the bond between parents and children.

As one character says towards the end of the book:

‘In all our broken relationships, from our childhood, through to our adult life, from our broken marriages and separated families – and ultimately to the broken relationship we hold with ourselves – not knowing who we are, what we want or where we are going – there is only one true bond that can save us, the bond that is the covenant offered by the eternal love and friendship of Jesus Christ.’

You read this book by clicking: If you know of any publishers who may be interested in this work, please contact me on and I can put you in touch with the author. Alternatively follow the links on the above website and click on ‘back the book’.

"Enemies of the Pope in the Vatican undermine faithful Catholics in China"

I recently attended Mass at a Catholic Church in Shanghai.

Nothing remarkable about that except that like most Catholic Churches in China, things aren’t quite what they may seem. What struck me was that there was a huge, almost lifesize photograph of the Pope with a summary of his life story, alongside a picture of St Peter.
The congregation were English speaking people from many nations and their genuine faith and devotion was evident. During the Eucharistic prayer, however there were the first signs that things were not quite as they should be. The names of the Pope and bishop were missed out. While others went to receive communion, I read the newsletter which contained a touching story about the persecution of Catholics in England under the first Queen Elizabeth, when “faithful Catholics had to keep a low profile and would worship in secret places”. Ironically, this is the situation of many Chinese Catholics today.

The Chinese Catholic Church is sometimes described as being split between the illegal and persecuted 'underground' Church which is loyal to Rome and the official or ‘Patriotic’ church controlled by the communist People’s Republic of China. The Chinese constitution guarantees freedom of religion but there cannot be 'outside interference'. The Papal appointment of bishops is seen to contravene this and so the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPA) was set up in 1957 to do this instead. Pope Pius XII deplored the attitude and activities of the Association and declared as excommunicated the bishops who consecrated new bishops selected by the CPA.

Pope Benedict XVI referred to the agents of the Association as "persons who are not ordained, and sometimes not even baptized", who "control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops.”At first glance it is simple. The so called ‘Underground Church’ consists of Catholics who won’t compromise and the ‘Patriotic Church’ consists of those who have given into government regulation and interference. In many ways it could be seen as similar to the Church of England under Henry VIII. The government appoints bishops and has the supreme authority but the faith and sacraments are essentially Catholic in that the doctrines – except that of Papal authority – are the same.

Pope Benedict XVI said in May 2007: “the proposal for a Church that is 'independent' of the Holy See, in the religious sphere, is incompatible with Catholic doctrine.” He does not speak of the Patriotic Church or Underground Church but distinguishes between those who accept state control and those who do not. Those who accept state control are under the auspices of a body which is an organ of the communist state and is controlled by a group of people, many of whom are not even Christian.

The situation is complicated by the fact that many bishops appointed by the state subsequently request and often receive Papal recognition. All of these episcopal and priestly ordinations according to a Catholic rite are considered to be valid although the Pope makes it clear that those who do so without Papal mandate or subsequent legitimisation cannot be considered to be Catholic. It is estimated that about 70% of the bishops appointed by the communist Patriotic Association have been subsequently been approved by the Vatican and most visitors to these churches would see them as the local Catholic Churches. Why would Catholics therefore not chose to worship at these churches, something that they can do openly?

Millions of people in China refuse to attend these Masses and do so in secret. Many have been arrested, some imprisoned and others claim to have been tortured. One difficulty seems to be that whilst bishops are often legitimized by the Pope, their subsequent behavior can seem to be schismatic. The Bishop of Beijing was approved by the Vatican and by the Patriotic Association and yet has implied since then, that he sees the church as independent. Literature on sale in the Cathedral bookshop in Beijing describes the Chinese Church as 'independent'.

In Shanghai is a Catholic Cathedral and within the grounds is a flagpole flying the national red and gold flag of the People’s Republic of China. A sign at the Cathedral forbids anyone from taking photographs. One Japanese couple who ignored this had their camera taken from them by force by security. Pictured to the left is a luxurious building describing itself as the Catholic clergy residence which is next to the slightly shabby Shanghai Cathedral. One priest who is in contact with loyal clergy told me that this is basically a bribe to lure into the Catholic Patriotic Association Catholic priests who had previously stayed loyal to the Pope.

In another part of China, I had a conversation with a priest, who for obvious reasons asked to be quoted anonymously. He said that there was a Catholic priest who was originally loyal to the Pope but subsequently decided to join the Patriotic Association. He was rewarded for this by being chosen to be a bishop and consecrated, contrary to Canon Law without Papal approval.
Some years later his appointment as bishop was recognised by the Vatican. I asked this priest, “why do so many people then stay with the underground church when they can worship openly in a church that is not persecuted?’ He replied that many priests and faithful say that while the ‘Vatican’ may recognise that man as a bishop, they see him as a traitor. “He is not our bishop. He has left his flock to gain all the privileges that the state can afford him.”
Surely, a group claiming to be faithful to the Pope, cannot refuse to recognise a man whom the Vatican has now approved? Has the Vatican been misinformed? My contact claimed, "Enemies of the Pope in the Vatican are undermining faithful Catholics in China.” He stressed that Pope Benedict himself loves and cares for the faithful, loyal Catholic community but that he is surrounded by sycophants, career churchmen and people whose love for power appears to exceed their love for Christ. If a power-hungry Vatican diplomat can get the Holy See and China to establish diplomatic relationships then that would make them seem very influential. Perhaps they would receive worldy recognition and perhaps be appointed to high office themselves?

Pope Benedict makes it clear in his Letter to Chinese Catholics: “The present College of Catholic Bishops of China cannot be recognized as an Episcopal Conference by the Apostolic See: the “clandestine” Bishops, those not recognized by the Government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes Bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine.” An example of this is that in September 1995, the CPA approved Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter calling for all Catholics to support China’s ‘Platform for the Development of Women’ that includes birth control, sterilization, and the one family-one child policy whereby women who are pregnant after having one child are forced by the Chinese government to abort their unborn babies.
Joseph Kung, the nephew of the brave and saintly, Cardinal Kung travelled with him to the United States after he had been released from years of imprisonment. He is President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation which presents what he sees as the truth about the church in China. He stresses that the persecution of loyal Catholics continues to this day. He points out that many people worldwide hear stories about the Catholic Church in China but do not know that this refers to the communist controlled Patriotic Association. He emphasises the irony of many Catholic missionaries returning to China at the invitation of and operating under the supervision of the communist controlled Patriotic Association but without the permission of the loyal bishops.
The situation is clearly complicated. There are good people who have in conscience made different decisions as to how they live out their faith in China. One Catholic priest in China felt that God was calling him to be a priest and after a great deal of thought and prayer, decided to study at a government approved seminary. He does not like the way the church is run in China (although cannot say this in public) but he does believe that working within the framework of the Chinese Patriotic Association means that he can minister to more people and he does see the Pope as the spiritual head of the church even if he does not appoint the bishops at the moment.
We cannot judge the hearts and motivations of others but we can help the persecuted church. See for more information and let's pray for Catholics in China.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The artful doffer?

My millions of readers globally have been waiting with baited breath for my erudite comments on more pressing issues, i.e. hats.

We all know that the more distinguished gentleman will wear a trilby, but do we know the finer points of etiquette? I have been described as a little unorthodox (in my trilby-wearing) and so will redirect you elsewhere so that you may be educated:

This link gives you important lessons in hat etiquette including the following gems and my comments:
  • I generally remove my hat indoors, although generally not in corridors or elevators or airports or other places where people are moving about. As a general rule, remove your hat before entering the places you'll be seated. [Do people not sit around in airports? I fear that next time I'm about to flee these shores, I may have a crisis of conscience.]
  • A basic rule is on outside. When inside you can leave it on in public areas; off in private ones, off when you sit to eat. [What if one stands to eat? I think we should be told.]
  • The first time you meet a lady, take off you hat. The next time you met her tipping your hat is acceptable. To show particular respect to a specific lady take off your hat the second time you meet her as well. [What if you're not sure if you've met her before? Is a semi-doff permitted?]
  • In a restaurant, use an extra chair. If you have the guts, put it upside down under your own chair. A side note, to keep from forgetting your hat, drop your keys in it when you set it down. [I like the insinuation that real men keep their hats upside down. I do, however, see a flaw in this advice, I might simply forget both and find myself at home sans keys and trilby.]

My favourite comment so far, is this one:

  • My wife better not ever catch me tipping my hat to a strange woman. I mostly do it at church anyway. [This begs certain questions: Firstly, is extra-marital doffing, strictly speaking, sartorial adultery? Secondly, didn't Saint Paul suggest men don't wear hats in church?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The Asperges is one of my favourite pieces of music and is particularly appropriate during Lent. It is sung outside of Easter time during the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water, as part of an entrance ritual, symbolising the cleansing of the people. The Western (Latin) part of the Catholic Church insists that Gregorian Chant has pride of place in its worship as reaffirmed during the Second Vatican Council.

"You will sprinkle me Lord with hyssop and I will be made clean. You will wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Have mercy on me God according to your great mercy. [Psalm 51(50)] Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit."

Amazing Grace

This film should be an inspiration to those fighting for justice today. The struggle of William Wilberforce, motivated by his Christian faith, to outlaw slavery has strong parallels with the pro-life movement today. There is hope if we refuse to give up.

Hard as Nails Ministries

Instead of watering down the faith, this hard-hitting movement is bringing thousands of young people to Christ in the United States and beyond. This is just one of the many signs of hope for the church worldwide.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Quite possibly one of the funniest scenes from the Life of Brian. Classic British comedy. Enjoy.

Traditional Latin Mass

One of the many actions of Pope Benedict XVI that we should always be grateful for his his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass. No one would expect the Methodists to abolish the beautiful hymns of Wesley, nor Anglicans their choral Evensong. Enjoy what has been described as the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.

Benedict XVI - I Will Survive

A light-hearted celebration of Pope Benedict XVI; a man who has done more to promote peace, support the poor, defend the sancitity of human life and take steps to bring about Christian unity than many of his detractors put together. Ad multos annos!

The Godfather: Baptism Scene

From one of my favourite films of all time. A child is baptised and Satan is renounced by Michael Corleone who has ordered the murder of his enemies. A powerful interplay of good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. Religion without love is meaningless.

The Gentleman Rhymer

I am delighted to report that a gentleman answering to the name of Mr B has managed to combine "rap" music with the Queen's English. If that alone was not sufficient to commend this chap, he wears a dashing trilby hat, a sign of distinction, if ever there was one.

I thirst for you

This is a powerful talk given by Fr Larry Richards that is encouraging and filled with hope. This is a love story that all people can benefit from:

Can I Live?

This is an inspiring song and video from the American comedian, Nick Canon that celebrates life. It is a true story. His mother considered an abortion but in very difficult circumstances chose life. I love the words, "I thank my mother for giving me life." Let us always celebrate and stand up for dignity of every human being.

Word of encouragement: Focus on the positive

People sometimes ask me why I am so positive. Life is not always easy but we should never be discouraged. Why focus on what drags us down when we can focus our energies and attention on what is positive? This is not New Age but is traditional Christianity:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

Philippians 4: 4-8

Apologia Pro Blogga Nostra

There are hundreds of blogs already in existence, so why another one?

This blog purely exists in order to be a place for me encourage, inspire and amuse. The subjects will be diverse but the tone will always be positive. It may be that you won't share my sense of humour or attitude to life but you are welcome to drop by and comment at any time.