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......