Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Tradition

A tradition on this blog (if it happens more than once, it is a tradition!) - a few lines from Hilaire Belloc's wonderful essay, 'A Remaining Christmas,' from his selected essays, Penguin edition, 1958, edited by J. B. Morton.

"Now, you must not think that Christmas being over, the season and its glories are at an end, for in this house there is kept the full custom of the Twelve Days, so that 'Twelfth day,' the Epiphany, still has, to its inhabitants, its full and ancient meaning as it had when Shakespeare wrote. The green is kept in place in every room, and not a leaf of it must be moved until Epiphany morning, but on the other hand not a leaf of it must remain in the house, nor the Christmas tree either, by Epiphany evening. It is all taken out and burnt in a special little coppice reserved for these good trees which have done their Christmas duty; and now, after so many years, you might almost call it a little forest, for each tree has lived, bearing witness to the holy vitality of unbroken ritual and inherited things."

"This house where such good things are done year by year has suffered all the things that every age has suffered. It has known the sudden separation of wife and husband, the sudden fall of young men under arms who will never more come home, the scattering of the living and their precarious return, the increase and the loss of fortune, all those terrors and all those lessenings and haltings and failures of hope which make up the life of man. But its Christmas binds it to its own past and promises its future; making the house an undying thing of which those subject to mortality within it are members, sharing in its continuous survival."


A very blessed and peaceful Christmas to my faithful three readers. Blogging has been obviously light over recent days. We had full Masses - even Midnight which, for English readers is not usually the first Mass of Christmas here in Vermont - we have the ubiquitous "early evening Mass," in some places called the "children's Mass," even though such a thing is not allowed. My first was at 4.30pm, followed by Midnight, then 10.00am. All went well, although I was distressed to have to deal with two instances of people walking off with the Eucharist - it is time for the indult to be revoked - but that's for another post! I was invited to Christmas dinner with a family in the parish who explained to their six year old son that I was called "Father" because they were my family, which I thought was rather nice, especially as all my family is thousand of miles away. Buon Natale!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Exciting News

Wonderful news from Rome: almost "local" Saint, Blessed Andre Bessette, founder of the world famous Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, is to be canonized. Blessed Brother Andre spent some of his summer every year in Richford, next to my old parish in Enosburg, and still has relatives in Vermont. This will be a great event for the highly secularized population of Quebec. Also, the "heroic virtue" of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII was approved - so now "Venerable John Paul II and Venerable Pius XII."

A Proper Carry- On

Sid James

"Oh, Matron!

Chust for Nice (as Fr. Dwight says)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Ubiquity of the Web

I have had my first experience of the ubiquity of the world-wide web. Although my articles for the former 'Vermont Catholic Tribune,' now known as the 'Vermont Catholic' have my copyright, once something is on the web, copyright does not seem to exist. My articles also appear in the much more widely distributed 'St. Austin Review.' I recently received an email asking me to clarify points I made in an article I had written for 'VirtueOnline' - I was not aware I had written an article for an online magazine of which I had never heard of. Idly googling myself, as one does on a Tuesday evening after Mass, I find I am now on a number of Anglican websites - it's all rather peculiar. At least the article I originally wrote seems rather helpful. I am a great believer in Ecumenism - all roads lead to Rome!

For the English

"Oh don't, no don't missus!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen

One of the things my magnificent (!) seminary training ill-prepared me for was "shovelling ministry." For English readers, this excellent course would introduce the seminarian to the idea that, when appointed as a parish priest in Vermont he would: a) spend a considerable amount of his time shovelling snow from church entrances, walkways and parish halls - b) learn the difference between freezing rain and normal rain - which, by the way, if snow is already on the ground, is no difference at all - c) discover that parishioners will complain about snow blocking doorways anyway - even though they could do something about it - like offer to help shovelling!

God bless Al Gore - I'm looking forward to global warming!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Only for the English

Only the English will get this - Bagpuss - "chust for nice!"

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

As Fr. Dwight says, "chust for nice!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feast of St. Juan Diego

Today, on December 9th, 1531, Our Lady first appeared to St. Juan Diego. We celebrate his Feast Day today. It is worth remembering that, only 2o years later, her image was on one of the ships at the Battle of Lepanto. Perhaps it is time Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared a Solemnity, at least for the Americas?

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Vespers of the Immaculata

"He fashioned a paradise for the second Adam to dwell in, and that paradise was the body and soul of our blessed Lady, immune from the taint of sin which was the legacy of Adam's curse. It was winter still in all the world around, but in the quiet home where St. Anne gave birth to her daughter, spring had begun. Man's winter, God's spring; the living branch growing from the dead root; for that, year by year, we Christians give thanks to God when Advent comes round. It is something that has happened once for all; we look for no further redemption, no fresh revelation, however many centuries are to roll over this earth before the skies crack above us and our Lord comes again in judgment."

Monsignor Ronald Knox, The Pastoral Sermons.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Meditation

If anyone is remotely interested, the Owl can be seen on the Diocese of Burlington's website, with a little Advent meditation - it is on the right, with the little movie screen about Advent.

The Purpose of the Priest

One of them, at least, according to the great philosopher, Joseph Pieper. Appropriate as Advent begins to meditate that, in order to fulfil what Pieper says is one of the priest's functions, silence and meditation is needed.

The priest is called, "above all, to keep alive the remembrance of a face that our intuition just barely perceives behind all immediate and tangible reality - the face of the God-man, bearing the marks of a shameful execution."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Newsflash - Bishop behaves like Bishop - He "teaches, sanctifies and governs" - hold the press!

Too many Catholic politicians love the label "Catholic" when it comes to election time - all the Bishop is doing is his moral duty - thank God more of them are starting to wake up after 30 years of slumber!

Kudos to Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saviour of Catholic Spain

Today is the anniversary of General Franco - "El Caudillo," the saviour of Catholic Spain, who died on November 20th, 1975. A few lines from Belloc on meeting the General after the battle of Barcelona.

"I was led to the ante-chamber whence I should be ushered into the presence of a man last in succession to those many who on this same general battlefield have endured, planned and achieved Europe's recovery........It may be that the entry into Barcelona will mark another turning point and that a remote posterity may perceive it as something even more of a boundry-stone than the Battle of Warsaw. When Barcelona was set free the effort of those who had destroyed Christendom was, in this field at least, at an end. However this may be, when I entered Franco's presence I entered the presence of one who had fought that same battle which Roland in the legend died fighting and the Godfrey in sober history had won when the battered remnant, the mere surviving tenth of the first Crusaders, entered Jerusalem - on foot, refusing to ride where the Lord of Christendom had offered Himself up in sacrifice.

I will not linger upon that brief experience of mine. I was not there to record for my fellows a personal emotion which perhaps cannot be communicated and which at any rate should not be, but when I had spoken to this man of what he had done for us all and what he meant to us - when I had left him, to retain as I shall ever retain, the impression of those words exchanged in the noble, sombre room of a Spanish palace, majestic as all those proportions are in that land of majesty - I knew that I had experienced something unique. I had been in the air of what has always been the Salvation of Europe - I mean the Spanish Crusade. Worse luck for those who do not understand these things!"

Hilaire Belloc, The Salvation of Spain from Places, first published in 1942.

Roman Pilgrimage

Been back a week, complete with nasty cold and cough. One of my charming parishioners apparently said that I should not be saying Mass last weekend because of those "foreign germs!" - only in Vermont! I wonder who they imagine would say all the weekend Masses? The Roman pilgrimage was filled with many graces. We did not have good weather, only three days without rain. One evening in Trastevere it rained so much our trousers were soaked past our ankles. We prayed before the tombs of at least 27 Saints - and a number of times in the Clementine Chapel before the first Pope and before John Paul II. We stayed at the Residenza Paolo VI, so had an ideal location for daily Mass at St. Peter's. It was a particular grace each morning, after Mass, to spend an hour in prayer before St. Peter's started to fill up and get noisy. I was lucky enough to be able to say Mass at the altar of St. Josaphat, my ordination day Patron - not on his Feast Day, my anniversary the 12th November, but at our last Mass in St. Peter's on the Tuesday. It was interesting to note how many priests were saying the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at the side altars every day. One of the highlights of the trip was a most gracious audience with Archbishop Raymond Burke, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Sure to be named a Cardinal next year, Archbishop Burke gave us more than thirty minutes of his time. Most of what we discussed is, of course, "off the record," but suffice it to say he did not disappoint! One interesting comment he made as we left, was his conviction that, in the end, American Catholics will re-evangelize England! As all pilgrimages must have some discomfort, this was kindly supplied by the good people at Alitalia, Italian baggage-handlers and the kind folks at Delta on our return.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Romeward Bound

The faithful remnant who occasionally look at this blog in the vain hope of anything interesting have had a lean couple of weeks - apologies! My Mother's visit was a whirlwind of being entertained by kind parishioners, then we had the Bishop here last weekend to give the permanent Deacons of the Diocese their annual retreat. Interestingly, a mouse appeared from below the pulpit in the Church on the first night. It was a Low Church Anglican mouse, because it failed to genuflect; by the end of the weekend it was seen saying the Rosary. I am not sure if it is seeking entry into the Church under the new Anglican Ordinariate. I depart for Rome on Monday, All Souls Day, with two priestly companions, on pilgrimage and retreat, in thanksgiving for my fifteenth anniversary of ordination (November 12th, the day we fly back) and for the 'Year for Priests.' I was in Rome for my tenth anniversary, the week Pope John Paul II died, which was an incredible time of grace. While praying for Pope Benedict's good health, I hope for similar graces this time. Your prayers would be appreciated!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Been a little slow on the blogging front over the last week. My Mother arrived a week ago to join the little parish celebration for my fifteenth anniversary. The actual date is November 12th, the Feast of St. Josephat, but I will be returning from a special anniversary/'Year for Priests' pilgrimage/retreat in Rome on that day. So we anticipated with a special Mass last Thursday and a parish 'do!' It was very nice and people were very kind. Parish life seems particularly busy at the moment, and the weather has been horrible - very cold (it snowed on Monday) and not ideal "leaf-peeping" for all the visitors who were in town. Last weekend was the high point of "leaf-peeping" and the 10.30am Mass was almost as full as at Christmas. My Mother had to go out and buy a new coat due to the cold, and the heating has had to be boosted far too early for my liking! After a miserable, wet Summer, we have now had a miserable Fall - the good news is that there are six months of Winter to look forward to - and six months of snow!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hiding behind a wall of silence

One of the very enjoyable aspects of being the Parish Priest ('Pastor' in American English) of a four season holiday destination, is that at every Mass, at least 70% of those attending are visitors. As I always tell people, they are happy to be at Mass and, as they are on vacation, the fact that they ARE at Mass shows they are committed Catholics. This weekend, I had visitors from among others places, Massachusetts, New York, Chicago, Canada, Texas, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. The fact that these people attend Mass regularly in their own parishes makes what I am about to say both sad and indicative of the great crisis we are living through. This Sunday was "Respect Life Sunday" here in the United States. Priests and deacons are expected to preach on this subject, even if the readings were principally about marriage. After all three Masses this weekend, numerous people approached me to thank me for my homily. They asked for copies of it (I only have notes which look like Arabic scrawl, so I'll have to work on that!) and told me that they had never heard a pro-life homily that was so clear. I say this not to blow my own trumpet, or to imagine that a new Fulton Sheen has been discovered. It is precisely my point that something is seriously wrong if people from so many different places find it unusual or remarkable that a priest preaches as he is asked to do by Holy Mother the Church. A friend told me that they attended Mass in two different parishes in this diocese over the weekend - nothing approaching a pro-life homily! What is wrong with the clergy? Is is cowardice, people-pleasing, or do they not actually believe in the teaching of the Church? It is no coincidence that the Office of Readings for this morning, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, was from 'The Pastoral Rule' of Pope St. Gregory the Great. Among other things he writes:

"Negligent religious leaders are often afraid to speak freely and say what needs to be said - for fear of losing favour with people. As Truth himself says, they are certainly not guarding their flock with the care expected of a shepherd but are acting like hirelings, because hiding behind a wall of silence is like taking flight at the approach of the wolf.......If a religious leader is afraid to say what is right, what else can his silence mean but that he has taken flight?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pope to Priests: "Get Blogging!"

Well, he didn't put it exactly like that, but the Pontifical Council for Social Communications released today the theme for World Communications Day, which will be released on January 24th, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, Patron of writers and journalists. It says that the Papal message will seek to "invite priests, in a particular consider new media as a great resource for their ministry of service to the Word." Just as I was thinking it was time to give up the blog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Icon

This weekend in the parish we blessed the new image, in the icon style, of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. He is in our Church because Stowe is the most popular ski resort in New England and, as the Patron of Skiers and Hikers, Blessed Pier Giorgio provides a wonderful example for all who visit the Church. I hope the veneration of his image will inspire our young people with a greater devotion to the Eucharist and to an active Catholic life. The image is the work of Ken Jan Woo, the Chinese convert artist who has filled Fr. Rutler's Church in NYC with wonderful images.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rutler on Eulogies

For your information - the classic piece on eulogies by Fr. Rutler has been reprinted (if that is a computer term) on

Poll on the "Peter Principle"

Does the "Peter Principle" (that people rise to the level of their incompetence in any kind of organization) apply the most to:

a) The Church

b) Politics

c) Business

d) The Government

e) All of the above

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The kind and computer-savvy Fr. John Boyle aka 'Caritas in Veritate' or "Carrie" to his friends, set up 'Sitemeter' for me when he was here two weeks ago. He said I would discover if three people were really looking at my infrequent and often dull musings, or "supercilious" musings, according to one constant thorn. Well , it seems lots of people have too much time on their hands! I'm sending out a big English "helloooo" in the manner of Terry Thomas, to one and all!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On the Passing of "Great" Men

Scripture reminds us that it is a "holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead." That, indeed, is the very purpose of a Catholic Requiem Mass. The eulogy, however, falls into an entirely different category. The Catholic Church was very wise to allow no place for such a dangerous form of speech for most of the last two thousand years. Save the stories for the Wake, which, unlike the contemporary bland "gathering" in a Funeral Parlour here in the US the night before the funeral, used to be in the family home and would involve "veritas" not from vino, but perhaps from Johnnie Walker (Black Label). We now have the contemporary eulogy, or eulogies, delivered by the new priesthood, who celebrate their liturgies via the medium of television. Truth, even in charity, or "caritas in veritate," is not a feature of the new eulogy. This night, a recently departed Senator; a "Catholic" Senator, was described on National Public Radio as a "champion of the oppressed and the needy:" however fifty million unborn Americans obviously did not fit into that Catholic Senator's list of "oppressed and needy."

In November 1997, Father George Rutler, no fawning eulogist or sycophant despite his friendship with Presidents, Princes and Potentates wrote a classic "crie de coeur" in Crisis Magazine, which is more than relevant on this day. Entitled 'Speaking Well of the Dead,' the full article can be found in the archives at, where Crisis now has its internet home. It is quite magnificent: a few choice morsels to whet your appetite in search of the piece -

"In the sanctuary where only truth is to be spoken, eulogies were discouraged in more honest days when even romanticized charlatans and avuncular Caligulas could be buried with the crepe of contrition."

This culture "mocks the imperatives of the mystery (of death) by applauding the guilty as cold-bloodedly as it destroys the innocent. Where the idol worshipped by a culture is one's public image, even candor must be sacrificed to it; and when only the self is celebrated, celebrity canonizes itself."

"In obedience to the Divine Mercy, speaking well of the dead may sometimes require not speaking good of the dead."

"In the moral order, one may not pass final judgment on another....our present problem is not the arrogance of damning souls to hell. The plague is of courtiers who subpoena charity to defend sloth and, having so dazzled the jury, proceed to judge publicly that their little lords are in heaven."

"If eulogies are not sensibly stopped, I do hope they will be more precise."

President Obama will deliver a eulogy on Saturday at the Requiem Mass for Senator Kennedy.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Parish BBQ

We had our Parish BBQ today, straight after the 10.30am Mass. The weather was hot and humid, but the rain stayed away. Parishioners and visitors were fed with free burgers, hot-dogs and chicken - they had to bring salads and desserts. It seemed to be a nice mix of young and old - but many people were wondering where my priest-Uncle was: poor Fr. John - they thought he was my Uncle - it's the white hair!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Father John, the blogging Parish Priest of South Ashford in Kent has been with me for a week. He leaves on the morrow at the extraordinary form time of 5.15am, having celebrated a private (Extraordinary Form) Mass at 4.30am. He has had wonderful weather for his week here and has done a number of 'Vermont things,' including both swimming in a pond and a river, biking up to Smugglers Notch and being fed by a number of my good parishioners. He will join his priest-brother, Fr. Stephen Boyle, in Marquette, Michigan, where they will stay with Fr. John's good friend the Bishop of Marquette, Bishop Alex Sample. Then they return for a few days in New York City - luckily English priests have a richly deserved proper vacation, something most of Catholic Europe understands, even if it isn't very Catholic anymore. It has been a great joy to have had Fr. John with me and, believe it or not, he finds the Church in this part of Vermont both healthy and impressive! I suppose it takes an outsider to see things we do not see (even if his spectacles are a little rose-tinted!)

The Tablet

The Tablet editorial team try and clean up their latest mess.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Catholic Man of the Year

Bishop Edward Slattery, of the Diocese of Tulsa, who has decided to offer all Masses in his Cathedral 'ad Orientem' - the Reform of the Reform continues!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Caritas Arrives

Caritas in Veritate, better known as Father John Boyle, arrived this evening after his long transatlantic flight. He arrived on what was, without doubt, the hottest day of the year, but seemed remarkably calm and collected. After a swift pint, we repaired to our local Italian hostelry for a Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. He came with the urgent supplies of Marmite, the lack of which was beginning to cause serious psychological problems for this writer. Tomorrow, the good Father, if the jet-lag is not too bad, will join me for the 10.30am Mass - I don't think he will make the 8.00am.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Newman Anniversary

Today, the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, is also the anniversary of the death of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman. This year's anniversary takes on a special significance because of the announcement of Cardinal Newman's beatification next year. I sincerely hope 'The Tablet/Bitter Pill' doesn't get its way and have the beatification turn into an absurd Anglicanfest, pretending that Newman really "didn't believe in all that conversion to the true Church business."

Father Rutler sent me an interesting email with the report from The Times (of London, of course) for August 12th. 1890. Although the tone of the report speaks of his greatness, it is interesting to note that the theme of the report is that Newman, great as he was, may not have been that influential..... "For the present a mighty man has fallen, yet we are much as we were."

"The truth is that the great Cardinal has occupied so exceptional a place in human affairs that, while he has largely influenced them, he has had himself to discover and even to recognize that they could go on without him...........Forty years have now shown that the Church of England can pursue its course without his guidance or his warnings; still more have they shown that it is not such men the Church of Rome most trusts and employs." One might almost say that was a Tabletesque hatchet job! Yet there is a line of prophecy which goes to show that the object of yesterdays hatchet job is, nearly 120 years later, going to be England's next Beati - and possibly a Doctor of the Church in good time: "It was his own choice to be Athanasius contra mundum. Whether from his ashes will arise the avenger, to do for him the work he has not seen done with his own eyes, and so reverse the judgment of time, is beyond even conjecture." Is it?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcome Back!

My good friend, and my Mother's most solicitous and caring parish priest, Father John Boyle, is back in the world of blogging. Formerly the notorious "South Ashford Priest," Father John's new blog is called "Caritas in Veritate" - I wonder if he got that idea from anyone important? Judging from the comments on other blogs, many people are very happy that he is back, this infrequent blogger included! Father John will be here with me in Vermont in a couple of weeks as he begins his vacation; unfortunately he can only stay a few days before he heads to another part of the USA to join his priest-brother, Father Stephen Boyle, for the rest of their break. Father John is a model parish priest and greatly impressed a number of my parishioners in my last parish when he visited. Welcome back, Father John!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Been back since last Thursday - arrived at 12.15am - hit the ground running since then - wedding, baptism, funeral. Vermont has, apparently, been having the wettest Summer in years; somehow those lame jokes about English weather fall a little flat! To anyone who makes sarcastic comments, I ask whether they saw any Wimbledon - no rain!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Our Lady of Consolation

The Owl at prayer before the image - praying for strength for his missionary work in the Colonies.

More Pictures

Shipley Mill and Kingsland

More Pilgrimage pictures

Belloc's grave and the Relics of Blessed Francis Bell

Bellocian Pilgrimage

Last Friday we went on a little pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead, Sussex. Father John Boyle joined us and was an excellent map reader! The Shrine, in a lovely part of Sussex, is the first shrine in honour of Our Lady to be established in England since the Reformation. Due to the devotion of the Caryll family, recusants who kept the "old religion" throughout the dark days of persecution, a Priest's House was built on part of their West Grinstead estate. Originally just a small cottage, the priests lived there disguised as local shepherds. The hay loft which was added was, in fact, the Secret Chapel where Mass was celebrated. There were, in addition, two priest's hides (Priest Holes) in the chimney breast. This priest house became what is probably the oldest continuously occupied presbytery (Rectory) in England. One of the priests who lived there was Father John Gennings, the brother of the martyr St. Edmund Gennings. The particular martyr most associated with the shrine is Blessed Francis Bell whose relics are now in the Secret Chapel. I was privileged to celebrate Mass in the Secret Chapel, with my Mother and Father John, and to venerate the relics of Blessed Francis Bell. We also saw the Priest Hole where priests would sometimes have to hide for up to two weeks. It is only big enough for a man to stand in - no wider! The extraordinary thing about this place is that no priest was ever discovered, otherwise the house would probably have been destroyed. The beautiful Church and Shrine were only consecrated in 1896.

The Church was, of course, Hilaire Belloc's parish Church and his final resting place, hence the reason for the second part of our pilgrimage. After prayers before the image of Our Lady, we venerated the tomb of "Old Thunder." Then we went over to see the outside of his family house, Kingsland, where he wrote so much, and his windmill. The property is still in the hands of his family, but not open to the public. Then, in true Bellocian fashion, we repaired to a local inn to eat a Ploughman's lunch, washed down with a pint of wallop, which Father John pronounced to be "very tasty." Belloc would have approved.
The picture is a rare view of the Owl celebrating the Mass in the Secret Chapel. More pictures in the next post.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Antonio the Olive Tree

Time for another picture of my favourite tree in my Mother's garden: Antonio the Olive Tree. I have been spending a quiet time with my Mother and family, catching up with my sister,nephew, niece, a cousin, my Uncle and, at the weekend, my brother. I took the advice of various folks and have not rushed about, mainly due to intense weariness. However, yesterday I had a very enjoyable study day with some priests in Clapham. Together with my friend Father John Boyle, formerly the infamous blogger 'South Ashford Priest,' the notorious 'Hermeneutic of Continuity,' and about 25 other priests, mainly from the Archdiocese of Southwark, but including some FSSP priests, an Opus Dei priest and some brethren from the Diocese of Brentwood, we had a wonderful talk for the "Year for Priests" from Father Anthony Doe, of the Archdiocese of Westminster. This initiative was most impressive; a group of priests, led by our generous host, Fr. Chris Basden, organizing their own ongoing formation, and gathering both for intellectual and spiritual input and priestly fraternity. Although some of the brethren seemed to have rather rose-tinted spectacles about how wonderful everything is in the Church in the good old US of A, I think this gathering was a sign of good things happening in the Archdiocese of Southwark. On Friday, my Mother and Father John will accompany me on a little pilgrimage to West Grinstead, to the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, where we will celebrate Mass in the secret Chapel used by the hunted priests during the previous Elizabethan persecution of the Church (another one is coming) and venerate the tomb of Hilaire Belloc.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Antonio the Olive

As promised, the first pictures of Antonio the Olive Tree, in my Mother's garden in Southern England, circa 2009. A solemn 'Te Deum' will offered for all who contribute to continued global warming.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In the Garden of England

Been home now for two full days, so the jet-lag is starting to wear off. Flew on a bizarrely small plane on the transatlantic part of the flight, from Philly to Gatwick. Stuck next to the loos for the whole flight: I offered it up for the sins of my parishioners. Not impressed with US Airways, seemed more like a budget airline, but without the charm of JetBlue. Gatwick was the usual British chaos everyone seems to have got used to in this country. The weather is wonderful - very sunny and warm, with everything green and fecund. Wimbledon is in full swing, with the new roof on the Centre Court keeping any rain off - there isn't any rain! The weather people on the television are in full "nanny State" mode, warning of the dangers of the heat and "procedures to take to avoid heatstroke;" we really are that stupid, apparently. I have decided that I am not going to rush around this year, trying to see everybody; mainly because I really seem to be very tired, and have been for weeks, so I clearly need a real holiday with my family and also - people can come and see me! So I am sitting in my mother's beautiful garden, reading (John Senior's 'The Restoration of Christian Culture,' and 'The Distilled Kinglsey Amis'). Her olive tree is doing very well in the heat - yes, that's not a typo - her OLIVE TREE - in South-East England! So I fully intend to encourage all forms of global warming - please do your part and go out for a needless drive in your SUV, then grill something, but make sure the air conditioning is turned up in the house. If I can work out the technical stuff, I may even use my mother's camera and put a picture of said olive tree up on the next post. I think, in the manner of Fr. 'Z', I will name the tree Antonio, in honour of St. Anthony who, once again, got me and my bags safely home. (P.S..... the picture is an old one - that's why the trees don't have any leaves!)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Flying tomorrow, after Masses and a Baptism - Burlington to Philly - to London. Should be home in Kent by 10.00am, English time. Time for my annual visit with family and friends and, hopefully, a little Bellocian pilgrimage. News after arrival. Prayers for good travel please!

St. Anthony Guide....

He really is a jolly good fellow!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Year for Priests

With first Vespers of the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the 'Year for Priests,' called for by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, begins. With an absolutely beautiful and challenging letter, the Holy Father, it what seems to be a very personal letter, proposes the life and ministry of St. John Vianney as the model for all of us who have the burden and grace of the priesthood. A high ideal! Perhaps I could suggest, as there are now a number of priest-bloggers, special prayers for all those priests - and, of course DAILY prayer for your own parish priest - don't you do that already - and if not, why not?