Sunday, October 28, 2007

Their Wounds Were Swords

In honour of the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War - some of the words of the great poet Roy Campbell, who witnessed some of the martyrdoms (including the simple parish priest who received him and his wife into the Church) - and barely escaped with his own life.

"Their wounds were swords - how bravely worth/the care the angels took to smith them!

We thought they took their victory with them/but they had brought it down to earth,

For it was from their neighbouring spire/the proud Alcazar caught the fire/Which gave that splendour phoenix-birth."

Holy Martyrs of Spain

Today in Rome 498 Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War were beatified. This makes nearly 1000 Blessed Martyrs from that terrible period of anti-Catholic persecution. An awful lot of nonsense is being said about the beatifications - from the extremely anti-Catholic government of modern Spain, which seems to want to revive the latent hostility against the Church in some parts of Spanish society. Anyone who wants to read an impartial account of what really went on in Spain during the Civil War should take a look at the chapter entitled "Spanish Holocaust" in Robert Royal's excellent book 'The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.' To read the stories of nuns being dragged from their convents and shot, priests and monks lying dead in the streets and then listening to the politically correct version that they were "part of a corrupt regime" is sickening. Royal quotes British historian Hugh Thomas summing up the anti-Catholic dimension of the Civil War: "at no time in the history of Europe, or even perhaps of the world, has so passionate a hatred of religion and all its works been shown." Blessed Spanish Martyrs, Pray for Us!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Today used to be the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. I believe it's another of the feasts the English bishops have played around with, and now they are all lumped together with the Beatified Martyrs in May. Why can't we have two feasts for the Martyrs? I remember as a young man going on the pilgrimage to Aylesford for this feast - presumably that doesn't happen any more? As the Holy Father once said, "heedlessness leads to forgetfulness." It was a felony, punishable by death, simply to be a Catholic priest; it was a felony, punishable by death to aid or hide a Catholic priest. All the persecution was introduced, not by a tyrant or demagogue, but by carefully crafted legislation - the force of the law. Let us not imagine that it cannot happen again - it is already starting in Britain - and it is not far away over here. These great martyrs, priests, religious and wonderful laypeople - should be widely known - and greatly venerated - we will need their prayers!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I can't find any pictures of the 'before' with the Presidential chair in pride of place (I still can't get used to that - whatever happened to the Celebrant's chair - the Presidential chair is what Bubba parked his rear on.) The 'after' picture is, of course, on my last post.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Holy of Holies

"The profound connection between beauty and the liturgy should make us attentive to every work of art placed at the service of the celebration. Certainly an important element of sacred art is church architecture, which should highlight the unity of the furnishings of the sanctuary, such as the altar, the crucifix, the tabernacle, the ambo and the celebrant's chair." Sacramentum Caritatis: 41.

"In the consecrated species He is there and remains there. When a man experiences this with every fiber of his heart and mind and senses, the consequence is inescapable: 'We must make a proper place for this Presence.' .......the tabernacle is the complete fulfilment of what the Ark of the Covenant represented. It is the place of the 'Holy of Holies.' It is the tent of God, his throne. Here he is among us." Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'

We now have, through the generosity of one family in this parish, a setting for the tabernacle which encompasses the "unity of the furnishings" called for by the Synod Fathers in the Apsotolic Exhortation, 'Sacramentum Caritatis.' It is also a work of beauty, using materials from the church which had, thankfully, been stored in the cellar. Designed by myself and our wonderful carpenter, Ed Hahr, the brother of one of our young priests, Ed truly offered his services as a labour of love, working incredibly hard to restore damaged wood, hand carve various pieces, stain and paint. As our Bishop, Salvatore Matano said to me , "who could object to the Lord being the center of His church?" As we know, there was never a word in the documents of the Second Vatican Council about the removal of the tabernacle. It really should not be a polemical issue - especially now that we have clear direction both from our Holy Father and many, many bishops throughout the world. I truly believe that, if I do nothing else in whatever time I spend in this parish, the restoration of the "Holy of Holies" will be the most spiritually significant contribution I could make.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Love of the Church

"So too the Church in her teaching office does not arrive, does not hope to arrive, at a fuller revelation than the Revelation which was made once for all by the lips of incarnate Truth. It is only that her privilege of inerrancy enables her to interpret for every age the doctrine once for all delivered to her; what Christ began in Peter's boat, he continues from the slopes of the seven hills. And even the lives of the saints, in which Christendom mirrors the life of its Founder, the fortitude of the martyrs, the mortifications of confessors, the purity of virgins, in what power were they sustained, but by the power which His own merits have bequeathed to His Mystical Body?"

Monsignor Ronald Knox.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"From the Church will come the reminders that mercy is being neglected or memory cast away, and not from the men who happen to make the next batch of rulers on this restless and distracted earth."

G. K. Chesterton

"Faith is the only beacon in this night, if beacon there be."

Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Nativity Church

Fr. John, at South Ashford Priest blog, has been posting some pictures of Nativity Church which he took on his holiday here last month. He has started a little 'debate' about the suitabilty/unsuitablity of the Altar being lit by artificial light. Check out his blog and add your comments.