Sunday, August 26, 2007


This is just an opportune moment to post a picture of one of England's greats - Terry Thomas - the archetypal 'cad' - the "absolute rotter!"

Catholic Father of Eleven

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Louis of France, who is the Patron of my second parish, four miles down the road from the larger one. At Mass today, some of the Knights gave a little history of the good king, but as the statue we have of him is a little effeminate (even though he's got a nice sword) I had to remind the people that, apart from all his other good works, he also sired eleven children, so he wasn't quite as wimpy as his statue makes him out to be! I am still busy burying the dead - apparently that's the way it's going to be from now on around here, but we did have the joy of a nice Baptism at Mass this morning, the first one at Mass here in many years. I am enjoying having Father John Boyle with me, and introducing him to the subtle - or not so subtle - differences in US/English culture. Last night he had some difficulty understanding the young waiter in the restaurant, and we were reminded of Mark Twain's phrase: "two nations divided by a common language!" He's off exploring at the moment, in the horrible humidity of this strange Vermont summer. Tomorrow, after another funeral, we will go down south to visit the charming town of Woodstock and spend the evening with the good pastor of that parish, before returning on Tuesday for evening Mass, Adoration and Confession. Check out Fr. John's blog at South Ashford Priest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blogger visit

Fr. John Boyle, better known on the blogosphere as South Ashford Priest, is about to arrive in my parish. Actually, he's not about to arrive, because, in a typically British way, he decided to travel from New York, where he has been for the last five days, by train. I tried to tell him that no-one in America travels by train - but he's English. Consequently, his train is already two hours late and it looks like I will be picking him up from one the less salubrious parts of downtown St. Albans at around midnight. Fr. John is actually my mother's parish priest, so it will be a great joy to give him a little hospitality while on his much-needed vacation. I think I have cleared out the fleas for him, and we have a nice new bed in the visitors room. Posting has been a little light due to a large number of people dying over the last few weeks. I hope it's not something I said.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Once again, I should be writing my column, but I would much rather tell you about the wonderful celebration of the Rite of Blessed John XXIII last night at St. Joseph's Co-Cathedral. On an extremely humid night in Burlington, I thought we might have three or four hundred people at the Mass. St. Joseph's holds eleven hundred and I would guess that we had nearly one thousand people present. It was extraordinary: many young people, young families, a real cross-section. Bishop Matano really did well, preaching with great passion. His comment,"if this is what it takes to fill our Churches, so be it," has echoed around the Web, judging by a few sites I have visited. It was more than twenty years since I had last attended an Old Rite Mass, my first time as a priest in Choir. Apart from having extremely sore knees (good penance, as one of my priestly brethren pointed out) and sweating like a small suckling pig, I suddenly realized why the Holy Father has liberated this extraordinary rite from the artificial shackles imposed in the past. My insight is neither profound nor original, but it was powerfully experienced: the Old Rite is entirely TRANSCENDENT, "Sursum Corda - Lift up your hearts" - it is profoundly THEOCENTRIC, not anthropocentric. It is worship......I get the feeling things will never be the same!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Hunt for the Lesser-Spotted Alb

After a month in my new digs, and still with several boxes to unpack, the long lost alb has been found. It was in a chest which once belonged to my parents, and my mother shipped over to me a couple of years ago. It is a beautiful piece of furniture, dark wood, around 1790 (almost as old as the rebellious Colonies!). Obviously - or not - I had not opened it since I arrived, it was sitting in the bedroom that I will be moving into when I get a bed. Well, the bed arrived, (mattress this week, hopefully) - so I opened the chest. Lo and behold - alb, my biretta, saturno and my police hat - with assorted other goodies. That was a good end to the week of flea bites and a Fed Ex big rig (lorry to readers of the Queen's English) backing into my car and smashing the front. Thanks to the kindess of my Undertaker, I am currently driving aound in a big, black, Funeral Home Cadillac, looking somewhat akin to Don Corleone. The big event of the coming week is the first celebration of the Rite of Blessed John XXIII in the Diocese by our Bishop, on the evening of the Assumption. I will be attending in Choir, so it's lucky I found the biretta. It will be interesting to see what the turnout will be - a party is going from my two parishes. More news later!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

What's happened?

Help! I just did a new post - with picture - pressed 'publish post' - it said "your post has been published" - but it's not there - what do I do?

A little parting gift

Yesterday, while changing before Mass, I caught sight of a vision of myself in the mirror (always a terrifying sight). I had an unpleasant rash on my side, below my rib-cage. It looked like shingles and, as I have been under a little strain lately, I thought I should do something about it. As I don't have a doctor, I had to take myself to the Emergency Room, my first visit to such a place in nearly eight years in the Colonies. Well, I was told, it could be shingles - or, joy of joys, it could be flea bites! That made sense. The former incumbent of this place had a mangy old dog and, according to the web, when pet and human live together, the fleas usually just chow down on the pet but, when the host is removed, as it was here - the fleas go into a feeding frenzy when a juicy new meal appears ( yours truly). It appears that it is the mattresses, because, luckily, all the carpets were taken out - so now we have to get new mattresses. I wonder if someone has one of those little voodoo dolls of me and are, at this moment, sticking pins in it - or fleas!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Can I have a Monsignor Ganswein?

Feeling a little sorry for myself, and unable, as yet to have : a) found my alb. b) moved into my bedroom. c) read a book . d) done any exercise. e) found any system yet of managing my day...... it suddenly struck me ..... what I need is a Papal Secretary, in fact, I need Monsignor Georg Ganswein. He will keep mentally ill people, who think they are long dead Native American tribal elders, at the door. He will not only find my alb, he will make sure it is pressed and ready for action. I will not have to manage my day, because he will manage it for me. He will not, I'm afraid, be able to write my column for the Vermont Catholic Tribune (due today and not yet done - and don't ask trick questions like "how come you can do this silly blog but not your column?") The best thing about having Msgr. Ganswein beside me, will be that when I start to feel sorry for myself, he will remind me of another Benedict who is over eighty years old, has the weight of the world on his shoulders - and doesn't complain.