Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Visit to Brighton

Father John Boyle (formerly the infamous 'South Ashford Priest') and I went down to Brighton today for a very convivial lunch with Father Ray Blake. Father Ray was most hospitable and we had a very enjoyable time discussing the advent of the anti-Christ, Bishops and lute music (not necessarily in that order). I am looking forward to going to sleep long before all that New Year nonsense happens. Tomorrow I will have to revisit my last year's resolutions

Monday, December 29, 2008

Feast of St. Thomas Becket

"Gaudeamus omnes in Domino, diem festum celebrantes sub honore Thomae Martyris: de cujus passione gaudent Angeli, et collaudent Filium Dei Exultate justi in Domino: rectos decet collaudatio."

After an intriguing Christmas Day, spent mainly either at JFK or flying across the Atlantic, I arrived on Boxing Day to a very cold but very sunny England. Unfortunately, the jet-lag is rather bad, I was awake from 2.00am until 7.30am on Sunday. Today I attended Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral for the Feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury. Beautiful singing, curious liturgy with 're-enactment' of the knights entering to murder the Archbishop. As usual, all style and no substance. Prayed at the site of the Martyrdom, then shook hands with the increasingly hirsute Archbishop of Canterbury who was wearing a rather fetching tea-cosy style mitre made of some kind of towelling material. On Wednesday, Fr. John Boyle will take me down to Brighton to visit the famous blogging Father Ray Blake. It promises to be another sunny, but cold day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


"There is no homecoming like the homecoming into an English house in their windy dusk, and it is best of all when one so comes home from off the sea." - Hilaire Belloc.

I don't know if a Virgin Atlantic flight from JFK to Heathrow counts as coming home from "off the sea," but I will be flying home on Christmas Day, after my Masses, to celebrate the Holy Season for the first time in nine years with family and friends. I will be leaving Vermont deep in snow for whatever the English weather has to offer. As time is rather short, I wish all three of my devoted readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Candy

The Vatican has released its special Christmas confectionery, just in time for last minute holiday shopping. Called the "Little Ratzinger," the small, sweet candy is made entirely of white chocolate and then enveloped in red liquorice. If you take it slowly, it may last the entire Twelve Days of Christmas. It comes in both a Novus Ordo and an Old Rite box.*

*The Old Rite box tastes sweeter and is higher in calories.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More Belloc

Santa came early this year. A wonderful copy of 'Places' by Hilaire Belloc arrived last week. Published in 1942 and in fine condition, it is a collection, published by Cassell and Company and costing Eight Shillings and Sixpence, of 52 essays written by Belloc about places he had visited. The writing, as always, is excellent, but what is fascinating is reading descriptions of places that had already changed by 1942, let alone 50+ years later. There is a magnificent description of Belloc's meeting with General Franco, the Saviour of Christendom, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, which I will save for another post, but here are a few choice quotes for your delight and delectation.

From 'On An Etching'

"See how abject, how despicable, are all things which boast that they are wholly new; that they owe nothing to tradition. See how lacking they are in sap. How tasteless and often insane."

"We do not restore the past because we cannot; but by a desperate effort to restore it we maintain the continuity of life."

From 'Patmos'

Belloc speaks of "what ruin false doctrine can bring upon the world. The ancient paganism, being a preparation for the Faith, did no such hurt. It was Mohammedanism, the greatest and most virulent of the heresies (and the most persistent), which must bear the blame."

"We know very well why the virulent, debased, modern hostility to the Faith is what it is. It is the hatred of corruption for health, the hatred of vice for virtue."

"There is about the Catholic Church something absolute which demands, provokes, necessitates alliance or hostility, friendship or enmity."

From 'About Wine' (we can't let a Belloc quote go by without another essay on wine)

"Wine seems to me to be the test of things European. Were Europe - essential Europe - to perish, why, then, wine would perish too. But when wine disappears, it will be time for us to cover our faces and to die; for without wine we shall not be ourselves any more. By wine came the column and the temple, the marble figures and the right colours, all that is permanent in the beauty man has created; and without wine that beauty would sink away."

"For who can be properly nourished, if indeed he be of human stock, without wine? St. Paul said to someone who had consulted him (without remembering that, unlike St. Luke, he was no physician), 'Take a little wine for your stomach's sake.' But I say, take plenty of it for the sake of your soul and all that appertains to the soul: scholarship; verse; social memory and the continuity of all culture. There may be excess in wine; as there certainly is in spirits and champagne, but in wine one rarely comes across it; for it seems to me that true wine rings a bell and tells you when you have had enough. But there is certainly such a thing as a deficiency of wine; and such a deficiency is one of the most awful ravenous beasts that can fasten upon a living soul. To drink an insufficient portion of wine, leaving the whole being, body and soul, craving for a full portion, is torture. The feeling of loss will pursue a man for hours."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes...

During my homily for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I commented that, so often, Our Lady is pictured crushing the serpent's head under her feet. I was informed after Mass, that a three year-old who had attended (and listened to the homily) commented as she approached the statue of Our Lady.... "look, there is the snake under her feet just like Father said.....!" There is hope!

Empress of the Americas

Since I arrived on these shores, this is a Feast which has grown, both in prominence and in personal devotion, and I would recommend it to my brethren across the pond. Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly a feast for the whole Church - and She is THE image for the pro-life movement. Perhaps She is also the key to the new evangelization?

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Other Patriarch Dies

With the news that Patriarch Alexy of Moscow has died, I am wondering if the call will come for the other Patriarch of Moscow, Vermont, to serve in Russia. I will be waiting by the phone. The village of Moscow, Vermont is in the parish of where is that big white hat......

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Useless Company

As faithful readers will remember (all three of them) I ordered two bookcases from Home Decorators back in August. Most of my books are on the floor of the rectory apartment. I was told they would arrive in October. Then an email arrived saying they were delayed until November (they are not, by the way, exquisite items - just Chinese junk). When they didn't arrive in November, I called and was assured that they would be "shipped by the 24th November - and I could have 20% off for my trouble." I called this morning and was told - "oh no, they will be delayed until January." I have cancelled the order and will never even consider using Home Decorators again - now I need to find some bookcases........time for a rant......

Thursday, November 27, 2008

This most American of Feasts

To prepare myself to celebrate tomorrow, I have been watching the DVD of the 'John Adams' series. This is the quintessential American celebration, and a wonderful gathering of family and friends - a Happy Thanksgiving to all the ex-subjects of His Majesty!
I think a Norman Rockwell picture is called for....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Bellocian Pre-Thanksgiving Supper

"The best meal in the world is bread, salt, wine, and an onion (which needs no cooking)."

Hilaire Belloc - 'On Cooking'

Guess what I'm having for supper?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holbein 'St. Thomas More'

Holbein 'Thomas Cromwell'

Pligrimage to NYC

The next Archbishop of New York/Westminster

I have been rather remiss since I got back from my two day pilgrimage to NYC over two weeks ago - very little blogging - life is just too hectic even in snowy Stowe (yes, it's already snowing and we will not see green grass until April). My kind and generous host, the next Archbishop of New York, Father George Rutler, welcomed me into his modest and simple rectory. I celebrated his morning Mass for him on Veterans Day - celebrating Mass in a city parish is certainly quite different from rural Vermont, with people wandering in and out during Mass and rather 'sotto voce.' Then I made my annual visit to the Frick Gallery, principally to see the Holbein 'St Thomas More.' It has almost an iconic quality and I was able to spend several minutes close to the picture. Right next to the Thomas More is Holbein's portrait of Thomas Cromwell - the two contrasting portraits show more powerfully than any photograph sanctity and cruel, naked ambition. I wonder if Cromwell was happy with his portrait? I had forgotten that the Frick also had El Greco's 'St. Jerome,' and the Fra Philippo Lippi 'Annunciation.' I then repaired to an "Irish" pub for a light collation before having a wonderful supper with a good friend. On the Wednesday, my 14th anniversary, I concelebrated with the sainted Pastor, did a few touristy things and ended my day with some bubbly and good conversation with the next Archbishop of Westminster.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hurricane Scott

Lots of news about my friend and fellow parish priest, Father Jay Scott Newman. Father Newman spoke to our priests two years ago and was a huge hit with some - and the forerunner of the anti-Christ to others. Following the controversy down South, where the hospitality is both legendary and real, the truly depressing part of the story is where the diocesan authorities first back up one of their priests for preaching the faith - and then denounce him. Speaking to my RCIA group this evening, the subject of St. Thomas More came up........somehow it seems that not much has changed since the 16th Century.

p.s. - Hurricane Scott has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I am off tomorrow for a little two day pilgrimage to New York City. I will be staying with the Blessed Pastor of Park Avenue where, on Wednesday, the Feast of St Josaphat, I will celebrate my 14th anniversary as a priest.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank God for the Bishops

Tremendous news from the USCCB: given the 'confusion' about the issue of abortion and Holy Communion - thank goodness our Bishops have come out with the kind of strong, firm and clear leadership we have come to love and respect from the USCCB - they have decided to cut the discussion about the issue from the agenda. It is, apparently, now no longer an 'issue' - so refreshing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"and Saul approved of his death." Acts Ch 7

Some random thoughts after Tuesday night - I haven't felt like writing anything up until now. I have been trying to work out, principally through prayer, what is the spiritual meaning of this election, because there is a profoundly spiritual meaning.

1. The fact that Catholics, or sacramentalized pagans, were responsible for the election of the most anti-life candidate this country has ever seen, is of great consequence. It means that Newman's phrase about the "mass apostasy of the faithful" has come true. One blog used the phrase the "repudiation of the Bishops." So the Bishops who taught, like Bishop Finn, that one's soul could be imperiled by this vote, were repudiated. Strangely, I have been very circumspect about this, because it is obvious to me that a great punishment is coming. I am not, by nature, overly apocalyptic, but I'm afraid I completely agree with Michael O'Brien, who is, I think, something of a mystic, that, although Felsenburgh may not be the anti-Christ, he is "one of the key figures who will usher in the great time of trial and the last and worst persecution of the Church."

2. It is also clear that, just like in England during the Penal times and the time of the English Martyrs, we now have accomodationist bishops who will become the equivalent of the "official Churches" in post-war Eastern Europe - and an emerging Church of the Martyrs with, thank God, a John Fisher or two. Also, as one of my priest friends commented to me, he can already identify the people in his parish who will happily betray him to the authorities. Luckily, I think we can also identify the people who will protect us.

3. The role of the media has been truly disgraceful throughout this campaign. The mainstream media will become an even more effective tool in the assault on the Church.

4. Preaching and teaching will have to be fearless - despite the consequences.

5. Prayer and fasting - that should be obvious, but many of us, myself included have done too little of both.

6. Will we be Saul, or will we be Paul?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lord of the World

President Felsenburgh

Powerful Writing

Check out the newsletter from the great Catholic novelist, Michael O'Brien, which Father Mark has on his blog Vultus Christi. Father Mark's blog is probably the most spiritual on the net - and the O'Brien piece is prophetic. Then go to National Review Online and read Fr. Rutler's piece on reading Benson's 'Lord of the World' again - suddenly the rise of Julian Felsenburgh makes sense - I wonder if we are ready for what is coming - and it isn't going to be good for faithful Catholics - but the "blood of the martyrs ......etc, etc."

Our Lady of Lepanto

Today, more than ever - Our Lady of Lepanto - pray for us!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Belloc on Wine

Last year, when I was at home, while searching the bookstores around Charing Cross Road, I found a wonderful collection of Belloc essays I had not seen before. It's called "One Thing and Another, A Miscellany from His Uncollected Essays," chosen by Patrick Cahill. My copy is a First Edition, published in 1955. It was rather expensive - the equivalent of $50 - but well worth it. Most of the essays were being printed for the first time. My favourite Belloc essay of all time is, of course, 'A Remaining Christmas,' but this collection has a couple that come close. 'Autumn in England' is magnificent, but my favourite in this collection is: 'Advice to a Young Man in the Matter of Wine.' Suitable for reading out loud, as I did recently when some friends came to dinner, Belloc writes of three main rules "the observance of which are of life-long value in the use of wine. The first, the most essential canon, is that wine of every sort, so long as it is pure, must be taken seriously as a chief element in life. It is the concomitant, and perhaps the foundation, of all our culture." If you didn't like Belloc before, why wouldn't you love him after than sentence? Here's the best paragraph in the whole essay:

"For your plain man one bottle of red wine at a meal is a just measure. Indeed, it is thus that the bottle came to be what it is, holding one meal's provision, about one-sixth of a gallon. It is enough - but not too much. It is the very symbol of temperance."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Forces of Mordor are Gathering

The rise of Julian Felsenburgh seems almost inevitable - but there are still faithful hobbits!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama courts the Alaskan vote

This one made me laugh - and we need all the laughs we can get at the moment!

Saturno tip to Overheard in the Sacristy for the picture.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What is it?

Is it a giraffe? Is it a mouse? Is it a parrot? Oh no, it's a wasp - swat it and get rid of it.

(Baby at 20 weeks)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Annual Al Smith Memorial Dinner

I don't have a vote, and have only lived here for nine years, so I don't really understand the inner machinations of Church and State here in the Land of the Free. Call me naive, but is it not a little strange to greet unctuously and warmly the most anti-life candidate the US has ever produced at a Catholic dinner hosted by the Cardinal Archbishop of New York? That, of course, would never have happened in Germany in the 1930's. I suppose I am just not sophisticated enough to understand.

Recession forces Queen to work at Fast-Food restaurant

Shocking news from England! Apparently, due to the rigours of the recession, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second has been forced to take a job in a local fast-food restaurant, only yards from Buckingham Palace. Please help the family by sending any donations you can spare to

(Saturno tip to the sainted Pastor of Park Avenue for sending me the picture)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Feast of St. Edward the Confessor

Today is the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor, who really should be England's Patron Saint. In this time of crisis, both financial and moral, I could not help being struck, reading the homily of Ronnie Knox for the Second Reading of Matins, that St. Edward could teach our current crop of politicians about real statesmanship. Knox writes, speaking of the great and the good buried in Westminster Abbey, where the king and confessor lies, that "true satisfaction came to them and true success crowned them only so far as their ambitions were for a cause, not for a party; for others, not for themselves. Man's happiness lies in devoting himself; his success in the offering he can make." Many months ago, I remember saying to someone that John McCain should pledge that he will only serve one term, and then focus completely, not on being re-elected, which seems to be the function of the first term of the President, but healing the great ills which currently beset this great Nation. Interestingly enough, Ed Rollins, a senior Republican figure, has today come out with the same thought! I also think that McCain should consider something along the lines of a 'National Government,' made up of members of all parties and none, because this crisis is way beyond the stale politics of bipartisanship. Perhaps we should all invoke the Collect of St. Edward, given for today's Feast, for the coming days.

"Lord, you raised Saint Edward, king and confessor, to excel in good government and faithful service. May these ideals survive and flourish among us through his prayers."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mission Postponed

Sadly, Father Alkire has had to postpone his mission, due to the death of his assistant priest. I am hoping we can arrange for him to come in Advent, so we don't lose the opportunity for a mission before the New Year. Pray for the repose of the soul of his assistant, and that Fr. Tim will be able to come here soon - thanks!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I'm not Dead

Just been very busy - and had a little bit of blogging 'ennui'. Still waiting for my bookcases, which I ordered in August, to arrive - first they said October - now it's November - so tonight I opened all my boxes and piled up my books against the wall - at least I can now find something if I need it. We have a parish mission starting on Sunday - Father Tim Alkire, from Lafayette, Indiana, will be flying in on Friday. Father Alkire has had tremendous success in producing vocations in his parish - so far five priests and ten religious vocations! The theme of his mission will be "Authentic Renewal: The two pillars of the Eucharist and Our Lady." Pastor of two parishes, and on the diocesan tribunal, Father Tim is also doing a doctorate - in Krakow - in Polish - in his spare time(!) - and I think I'm busy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Papal Caption Competition

"Vatican launches early version of the Space Shuttle."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Darkness Covers the Earth

Watching and listening to the increasingly ugly and violent attacks on the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, it is quite chilling to see the hatred of children and child-bearing. I can't bring myself to quote some of the attacks on her for being the mother of five children - let alone being the mother of a child with Downs Syndrome - but the ugly hatred of life is quite satanic - if you doubt the satanic roots of the anti-life ("pro-choice") movement, check out the YouTube segment on the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog, showing the protest in Argentina - look at the venom and hatred of the female protesters against the young men who are defending the Cathedral against sacrilege - thanks to the Herman's Hermanaut for that clip. On Tuesday in Burlington, I was sworn at twice, by two different car-loads of young people - simply for being dressed as a priest. Careful readers of "Father Elijajh" will remember that open abuse of the clergy was one of the signs of the rise of the anti-Christ. Can we say that he is in our is hard to know....some will say say we can't.....some will say .... yes, we can.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Where was I?

The Mulier Fortis has tagged me for one of those meme things - a "where were you" when some famous events happened. So, in order:

1. President Kennedy's assassination, 22 November, 1963

I was suckling at my Mother's breast.

2. England's World Cup Semi-Final v Germany, 4 July, 1990

In the Capuchin House of Studies in Canterbury, Kent.

3. Margaret Thatcher's resignation, 22 November, 1990

Ditto the above - actually that morning at the seminary - the Franciscan Study Centre.

4. Princess Diana's death, 31 August, 1997

I was just getting ready to celebrate the Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Angels in Erith, Kent. I heard it on the radio and announced it to the people - it was a sombre Mass.

5. Attack on the Twin Towers, 11 September, 2001

I was at a rather dreary meeting in the rectory of St. Augustine's Church in Montpelier, Vermont. My Mother actually called from England to ask me what I thought! We had not heard or seen any news. We abandoned the meeting and stayed glued in horror to the television for hours.

6. Election of Pope Benedict, 19 April, 2005

This one is special! I was one of the five MC's getting things set up for the Ordination of our new Bishop, Salvatore Matano, in St. Joseph's Co-Cathedral in Burlington. Some 40+ Bishops were making their way back from lunch, about an hour or so before the Mass. Someone came running into the Cathedral where we were arranging things and said, "there's white smoke!" We went rushing into the house and turned on the tv. I was joined by about 14 bishops from different parts of the USA - I was overjoyed - they were not! Priceless! Bishop Matano became the first Bishop in the world ordained in the papacy of Pope Benedict.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another strong woman can she balance work and family, she's not experienced, it's a man's world....blah, blah!

Running scared

The vicious, muck-racking around the next Vice-President of the United States shows only one thing: the end of the culture of death is in sight, and the forces of darkness are afraid - very afraid. Time for another picture!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Another excuse for a picture

Check out my blog archive for April 28th, 2008 - the Owl got her religion wrong (even though she's more pro-life than many nominal Catholics) - but who knew the Owl had such influence!

Pro-life, pro-family -fantastic!

Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin and her family (her fifth child, born with Downs Syndrome, is missing from this picture)

"All across America, something is strirring"

"Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can.....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mile High Stadium

Part Joel Osteen religious worship - part Nuremberg Rally - scary!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Apart from being the parish priest of Stowe and Johnson, Vermont, my parish also includes the village of Moscow, Vermont. So, technically, I am the Patriarch of Moscow. For everyone who has been waiting for a picture of me in my Saturno, I can reveal a picture of me decked out in the full patriarchal garb, which I normally wear on Wednesdays, if there is a 'Y' in the month.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Neo-Libercons

Apologies to my team of three readers for the relative quiet: new parish (es), unpacking - yes, Karen, trying to get a photo of the Saturno - busy, busy, busy! I have to say that I have been very powerfully struck, after four weekends in a parish that has, on average, around 80% visitors at Mass, by the devout and respectful athmosphere at Mass. I suppose if you are at Mass on your vacation - you really "get it" - you want to be at Mass, you understand both the obligation and the joy! One other thing has struck me and that is the number of young people (that's people under 30!) who are receiving on the tongue - despite what the neo-libercons hope for, the "demographic tsunami' is already happening. What's a "neo-libercon?" They are rather like what they accuse conservatives of being - rigid, unwilling to change, terribly fearful of the direction the Holy Father is leading the Church - they want the Church to stay stuck in one period of time (around 1976) - and they will be furious about be described as "neo-libercons" - did I mention they usually don't have much of a sense of humour? Well, neo-libercons, read it and weep, for, from what I can see, as Pope Benedict has said, the Church is young - and the young Church is not carrying the baggage of the past - maybe some in Vermont need to see something of the bigger Church?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Hat

Fr. John Boyle, of South Ashford Priest blog is seen in a felt Saturno - a 50th birthday gift from Gammarelli's. Now when will you see mine.........?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Please visit Father John's blog - South Ashford Priest - and leave a comment - "put the hat on" - he'll know what you mean - it was a condition of his birthday gift from Gammarelli's that he wear it -- on the blog!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

St. Sharbel's Feast

Interested readers will be glad to know that there were no fleas to greet me in my new Rectory (which is a flat or apartment, as they say over here). The first weekend went well, people were very kind and welcoming. It is quite unusual to be in a parish where 80% of the congregation at any Mass are visitors - Stowe is now an all-year tourist destination. I am still climbing over boxes - and I know where my alb is! I'm wondering what I will lose this time? Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Sharbel Maklouf, the great hermit of Lebanon and the patron of my birth - yes, the Owl is 45 tomorrow in earth years! I will be attending the blessing of a Well dedicated to St. Sharbel and then, I hope, be entertained royally, as befits someone of my advanced years and wisdom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bidding Adieu

I fly back to Vermont tomorrow - leaving home for......? It was a great joy to see family and friends - now the new ministry in the new parish begins - prayers appreciated.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Eulogies

The new Archbishop of New York

The next (projected) Archbishop of New York, the sainted Pastor of Park Avenue, has sent me quite the finest article I have ever seen on the hypocrisy of the modern eulogy at the Catholic Mass - check out Crisis Magazine online - November 1997 issue.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Prayer for the Beatification of Venerable Servant of God, Antonietta Meo

O God, Father of the humble, we thank you because in Antonietta Meo (Nennolina) you gave us a living image of your Love and your Wisdom, revealed to the meek. You, who gave her the grace to be joined to the Cross of the Lord Jesus and to suffer with fortitude and joy, make her glorious also at this time on earth, that she may be for all a shining example of faithfulness to the Gospel. Grant us her same simple love that burned for the Eucharist and the Church; come to us in our poverty and, by her intercession, according to your Holy Will, give us the grace which, with trust, we ask You. Amen. (Pater, Ave, Gloria)

"Dear Jesus, I love you so much, dear Jesus, I want to abandon myself in your me with your grace, help me, because without your grace I can do nothing." (from the letters of 'Nennolina,' aged six.)

Headquarters of the Cause : Basilica S. Croce in Gerusalemme, Piazza S. Croce in Gerusalemme, 12 - 00185 Rome - Italy

(With Ecclesiastical approval.)