Monday, 16 December 2013

Hay in my mantilla

Our family had the great pleasure and privilege of assembling the parish nativity scene this afternoon, in the few hours between the Solomn High Mass for Gaudate Sunday (with two of my favourite seasonal hymns: the sung Rorate Caeli and Veni, Veni Emmanuel) and the annual Christmas carol concert later in the afternoon. Amed with tiny scissors intended for cutting wiggly lines in paper (all we could find!) my four children gathered any greenery they could reach in the church grounds and along with some wonderful variegated holly brought in by another family brought the nativity setting to life. We carefully added each beautiful figure, arranged them, rearranged them, and then rearranged them again before stepping back to admire the scene. All it needs now is our Saviour and Lord...

As we left I realised that I was taking more than a few pious thoughts with me... I had ivy twined into my sweater and a good deal of hay woven into my mantilla: a sort of rustic traddy look probably best avoided.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!



Saturday, 23 November 2013

Identity politics

Four year old son was in a philosophical mood today.

"Mummy" he said, "do you know what I am?"

"Go on..."

"Well... I'm a talking human being... and a Catholic ... and an Englishman."

This was pronounced with a face beaming with certainty and pride. No confusion there then, Deo gratias! He can certainly talk for England anyway...




Sunday, 17 November 2013

Just sayin'...

Naturally stupid are all men who have not known God

and who, from the good things that are seen, have not been able to discover Him-who-is,

or, by studying the works, have failed to recognise the Artificer.

Fire however, or wind, or the swift air,

the sphere of the stars, impetuous water, heaven’s lamps,

are what they have held to be the gods who govern the world.

If, charmed by their beauty, they have taken things for gods,

let them know how much the Lord of these excels them,

since the very Author of beauty has created them.

And if they have been impressed by their power and energy,

let them deduce from these how much mightier is he that has formed them,

since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures

we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author.

Small blame, however, attaches to these men,

for perhaps they only go astray

in their search for God and their eagerness to find him;

living among his works, they strive to comprehend them

and fall victim to appearances, seeing so much beauty.

Even so, they are not to be excused:

if they are capable of acquiring enough knowledge

to be able to investigate the world,

how have they been so slow to find its Master?


Wisdom 13:1-9


Friday, 25 October 2013

Surviving home education

“No school today for this lot?” The woman behind the counter peers curiously at my children. “Nope,” I sigh, “not today, not any day...” and taking my change I head out the door with my little brood behind me. I'm usually far more patient – honestly I am – but we are still 30 minutes from Seamus Heaney's grave in County Derry and have been driving for almost three hours in the rain. Today isn't the day to explain to every stranger perplexed by the sight of free range children during school hours how wonderful home education is: we're too busy living it.

Seamus Heaney's grave, St Mary's Church, Bellaghy, Co. Derry
Heaney's grave, Bellaghy, Co. Derry

At Heaney's grave, shared with his parents and brother Christopher, we read “Mid Term Break” (about his baby brother's death and funeral) and pray a Rosary in Latin for the repose of all their souls, ending with a sung Salve Regina. Heaney loved Latin: famously, his last words to his wife, by text message, were "Noli timere". Other visitors to the grave, local men who were Heaney's contemporaries, join in with our Rosary and thank us afterwards for praying., apparently very few people do. After signing the book of condolence in the church, St Mary's Bellaghy, we drive due North toward the coast, pausing briefly at Bushmills to consider the science of distillation, before arriving at the Giant's Causeway – a World Heritage Site and natural wonder of volcanic basalt eroded into astonishing hexagonal columns like a giant three dimensional honeycomb. In addition to the fascinating hands-on geology, we learn about the kelp industry, about Irish mythology and that you get more soaked standing on the Antrim coast in a blowing gale than you do by plunging into a swimming pool. Fish and chips a little further around the coast, then a long drive back in the dark, home to our holiday cottage. A good day.

Giant's Causeway, Co. Antrim

Not every home education day is an adventure. For each day like yesterday, there's one where my children drive each other (and me) crazy. Where the house is a mess, where someone has fed playdough to the cat; where the dog has chewed the eyepiece of one of the microscopes, and we can't find the answer key for the Latin workbook.

That's when the September not-back-to-school doubts start to creep in. Will my children suffer or benefit from the choices that we, their parents make? Will they end up illiterate / happy / unemployable / holy / overspecialised / expert / only fit for employment in a circus? Are we doing the right thing? Can any parent ever answer that question with 100% certitude?


Then the Angelus bell chimes. The rhythm of daily life masters us gently and our family prayer leads to calm and resolution as I hand my fears over to Sede sapientiae – Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom to whom we've consecrated our home education undertaking.

Nothing is perfect – no school, no home, no family. In choosing to home educate we do two things: the first is take full responsibility for our children's education, for better or for worse; and the second is to place our hopes and fears into Our Lady's hands. But really, no matter where or with whom their children spend their weekday hours, these are two things that every Catholic parent, as first and primary educator,should do. We are in the business of educating souls: Sede sapientiae, ora pro nobis!

A version of this piece first appeared in Catholic Family News


Monday, 21 October 2013

"Just stick with Hans Kung...": Surreal petrol station conversations OR Tales of Z-swag in the wilds of South London

After our van was stolen in a burglary last year, we replaced it with another, slightly less snazzy, one. I was determined to make this new one unstealable, and so applied a selection of stickers that would take hours to remove thereby making our van immediately recognisable and, hopefully, less attractive to any thief. I mean, can you imagine a car thief bombing down the road with "Lex Orandi / Lex Credendi" on the bumper, "We love our priest" on the side window and a large image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on the windscreen? Didn't think so. And that's only a small selection of the adhesive novelties bedecking our vehicle.

We also had it blessed. Fr Finigan blessed our van using the formula for the blessing of chariots. In Latin.


We also named it -- Nino, after the virgin saint -- as we collected it on 15th Dec.


...and so far our precautions appear to have worked: we are still in possession of our van. It has not been stolen. It has, however garnered a few puzzled looks.

The stickers have attracted attention. A few days after I put a "Thank you Pope Benedict" sticker on the boot (that's "trunk" for readers across the pond), I was filling up with diesel when an older lady in a car at the pump behind started gesturing rather excitedly at me. Her husband was dressed in North African type clothing and she was wearing a veil over her hair so I assumed that they were Muslim. Perhaps my assumption was wrong: as I looked questioningly at her she gestured again at the back of the car and clearly mouthed "Pope Benedict! Pope Benedict!" then gave me repeated "thumbs up" signs with a huge smile on her face.

More recently, my husband parked at a petrol station to nip in and buy something. As he parked the van, a man in the car beside him gestured and said something out his window in my husband's direction. As he was in a hurry, and it was clear that whatever the man was saying was friendly, my husband smiled, parked the car and went into the shop. He was standing in the queue to pay when a voice behind him said "So: 'Save the Liturgy / Save the world' -- what does that mean, then?" Rather surprised (as well as caught somewhat off guard -- I should point out that *I* plastered the vehicle in stickers, not my far more sensible husband), he turned around to see a pleasant looking chap in his late 60s (spoiler: dangerous age) behind him. In answer to the question, hubby explained that if we start to erode the things that really matter in the liturgy, we can start to let other things slip as well, so that no only the quality of our worship but our relationship with Truth itself is eroded (actually, when he told me the story Hubby was far more lucid and eloquent, but he declined to write a guest post so you'll have to make do with my bodged retelling). The well dressed man who had asked the question looked intrigued: "you mean like what's happened with the Anglicans?" he said. As my husband is far more tactful (and sensible - have I said that already?) than I, he refused to be drawn on this replying "some people might say that". "Well," retorted his questioner, "I'm an Anglican priest (sic) and I think that the most important thing is to spread the message of Christianity as widely as possibly by any means" (or words to that effect). My husband acknowledged the importance of evangelisation, (and, don't forget, was in a hurry) and turned to pay for his goods. As he passed the man on his way out he heard the words "Just stick with Hans Kung and you'll be fine". This stopped hubby in his tracks. He wasn't sure whether he had heard correctly. "What?!" The man repeated his words. Hubby shook his head. "I'm no expert on Hans Kung" he ventured, "but it seems to me that Kung's goal is the utter annihilation of the Catholic Church". The man from the car looked shocked "Oh no, he said, Hans Kung will be the saviour of the Catholic Church". As I may have mentioned, my husband is far more sensible than I am, and he did the only sensible thing under the circumstances...
...he told the man that they'd have to agree to disagree on that point, then hopped in the van and drove home to tell me the story.

And that, folks, is what happens when you take Z-swag out into the wilds of Kent. You've been warned.


Proud Mummy moments...



My eldest child was Master of Ceremonies today at High Mass celebrated by Fr Finigan at Our Lady of the Rosary (Mac, who is far defter at taking photos than I, has some lovely ones on her blog). For an 11 year old he's racked up a fair bit of serving experience, so he was much less nervous than might be expected: he started serving Holy Mass in the Novus Ordo after his First Holy Communion in May 2010 and started serving the Vetus Ordo a few months later. He served low Mass at the Altar of the Transfiguration in Saint Peter's Basilica last year when we were in Rome for the Una Cum Papa Nostro pilgrimage, in France with the Institute of Christ the King and in various other parishes on our travels. MC is a different job though, complicated, detailed: not only does he have to know where everyone on the sanctuary needs to be at any given moment in the Mass, he also needs to remember all the responses in Latin and find the right pages in the missal at the right moments to ensure that everything happens when it should: a massive responsibility on those small shoulders. It's funny, I look at this little boy, who loves his Lego Hobbit set and his pet mice and who spends his days climbing trees, up there on the sanctuary: utterly capable, completely absorbed in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and I thank God for the many blessings in our lives: our parish, our priests, our friends, our return to the Faith, our marriage and our family. Deo gratias!



Friday, 30 August 2013

Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Please join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Seamus Heaney. I spent much of my pre-children life studying 20th C Irish writing and his work was central to my PhD research. I was fortunate to have met him on numerous occasions, some formal, others less so. I will fondly remember drinking Guinness with him in a small dark Belfast pub after an impromptu reading he gave to a small group of post-graduate students. He was not an overtly religious man, and had expressed an uneasy agnosticism over the years, but his poetry often articulated an innate sense of the divine in our lives and the nuances of the Catholicism that was indelibly imprinted upon the Ireland of his youth. He came from a humble family, the eldest of 9 children but despite being a famous poet by the time I met him in the early 1990s he was modest in his demeanour and generous with his time: truly one of nature's gentlemen. I pray that he will experience the joy of the beatific vision before long.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei. Requiéscat in pace. Amen


The Biretta

Like Gaul, the biretta was divided 
Into three parts: triple-finned black serge, 
A shipshape pillbox, its every slope and edge 
Trimly articulated and decided. 

Its insides were crimped satin; it was heavy too 
But sported a light flossy tassel 
That the backs of my fingers remember well, 
And it left a dark red line on the priest's brow. 

I received it into my hand from the hand 
Of whoever was celebrant, one thin 
Fastidious movement up and out and in 
In the name of the Father and of the Son AND 

Of the Holy Ghost... I placed it on the steps 
Where it seemed to batten down, even half-resist 
All the brisk proceedings of the Mass - 
The chalice drunk off and the patted lips. 

The first time I saw one, I heard a shout 
As an El Greco ascetic rose before me 
Preaching hellfire, Saurian and stormy, 
Adze-head on the rampage in the pulpit. 

Sanctuaries. Marble. Kneeling boards. Vocation. 
Some made it looked squashed, some clean and tall. 
It was as antique as armour in a hall 
And put the wind up me and my generation. 

Now I turn it upside down and it is a boat - 
A paper boat, or the one that wafts into 
The first lines of the Purgatorio 
As poetry lifts its eyes and clears its throat. 

Or maybe that small boat out of the bronze age 
Where the oars are needles and the worked gold frail 
As the intact half of a hatched-out shell, 
Refined beyond the dross into sheer image. 

But in the end it's as likely to be the one 
In Matthew Lawless's painting, The Sick Call, 
Where the scene is out on a river and it's all 
Solid, pathetic and Irish Victorian. 

In which case, however, his reverence wears a hat. 
Undaunting, half domestic, loved in crises, 
He sits listening as each long oar dips and rises, 
Sad for his worthy life and fit for it.

Seamus Heaney (13 April 1939 - 30 August 2013)

Matthew Lawless, "The Sick Call", National Gallery of Ireland


Mid-Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Seamus Heaney (13 April 1939 - 30 August 2013)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

We say 'napkin' dear...

Oh my! Bad parenting alert: this morning my eldest daughter (9) told me with some surprise that she had just discovered that 'serviette' was not the correct, official, or tactful way to refer to female altar servers.

...just not on the sanctuary please.

As my children have been taught to use the correct term for the item of table linen used for discreet ablutions (i.e. 'napkin' *) the only context in which they'd heard the word "serviette" was in conjunction with female altar servers (of which, without any guidance from me, they disapprove ; a conclusion they reached independently in our previous N.O. parish where twirling dervishes populated the sanctuary, tossing ponytails and waving at parents. No I'm not exaggerating. In fairness they also disapprove of baseball caps and mobile phones: they're funny that way, my children).

I confirmed that serviette is not the correct liturgical term for female servers, but is a non-U term for napkin.

photo credit: Adoremus in Aeternum

*for my stateside readers: saying 'serviette' in polite company in England is tantamount to nose picking, eating peas off a knife, or saying "toilet" (it's lavatory, darling).



Monday, 19 August 2013

Wow. Just, wow.

“For in His Hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are His.” ~ Psalm 94:4
Father Antony Sumich, FSSP, offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the base of Mount Assiniboine on the British Columbia-Alberta border.

We had the privilege of getting to know Fr Sumich during the three weeks we spent in Alberta earlier this year, and we were struck by his robust holiness and masculine witness to the faith. He is a superb role model for young men, and leads a wilderness pilgrimage / camping trip for older teenage boys and their fathers during the summer: I'm assuming that this photograph was taken on this trip. My husband and eldest son were captivated by the idea of a rigorous expedition with a spiritual dimension and have both insisted that we make sure that one of our future visits coincides with one of Fr Sumich's camping trips -- as soon as our son is old enough, that is! 
Two of my fondest recollections from our family's trip to Canada this year are the wonderful traditional Mass community at St Anthony's Church in Calgary, ably led by Fr Sumich; and the (literally) awesome scenery, particularly in the more remote mountain areas. This photograph brings both together and looking at it made me feel very very happy. Here, if only for a few moments, is a corner of the world where all is as it should be. Deo gratias.

Monday, 12 August 2013

"We must aim for the abolition of the family..."


You know that things have come to a pretty pass when the uber-liberal Huffington Post carries an article warning of an organised campaign to destroy the family; a campaign orchestrated by the homosexual lobby, and openly supported by leading political figures - including the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London.


"Peter Tatchell writing for the Guardian this week, talks of "how the Gay Liberation Front Manifesto helped to shape me." You may not have heard of this document before, but you should read it because it sets out - in no uncertain terms - the path our society has taken over the last few decades, and gives a clear picture of where the path is heading. The document says: "We must aim at the abolition of the family".

The manifesto was published in 1971 and then revised in 1978. As Peter says himself, it was written by "anarchists, hippies, leftwingers, feminists, liberals and counter-culturalists". I doubt that David Cameron has ever read it, but whether he knows it or not, he has allowed himself to be influenced by its central agenda. In an attempt to suck up to his liberal metropolitan chums, he has bought into it.

I first came across the manifesto when I saw a photo of the Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, marching under a banner celebrating 40 years since the formation of the now-defunct Gay Liberation Front. It struck me as unusual to see a Conservative politician marching for any radical group whose name ended with the words "...Liberation Front". It sparked my curiosity, and that's when I came across the manifesto."


...and it gets ever more sinister. Read the whole article here...


Then pray for our families, our children and our priests - the well being of whom is all interconnected.


Friday, 2 August 2013

Deo gratias for the men who are saving the world...

Twenty-five years ago... "...On the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, in a small, once Toc H, chapel duly decorated for the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Extra-ordinary form, five young men gathered around a young Redemptorist priest who was offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was the Feast of Saint Alphonsus 1988. On this day then, began the foundation of a Redemptorist community that would follow the Rule written by Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori and which would finally receive the blessing of the Church to become the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer..."

...and now

...and thank God for these great courageous souls who are a powerhouse of prayer up on Papa Stronsay. Visit their website and their blog and please include them in your prayers today. Our family continues to be inspired and grateful to the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer for the good that they do and they all -- and our dear friend Pater Michael Mary in particular -- have a special place in our hearts and in our prayers.

Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori pray for them and continue to inspire them in holiness! 

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, guide them and keep them in your maternal care!


 It's probably worth adding that our dog Rosa comes from the Isle of Sheppey - she's the only known Sheppey Terrier in existence: a rare breed indeed. Sadly for her she was born there after the Sons of Most Holy Redeemer had left the island.

From Sheppey, but not a Redemptorist

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Never too modern to Mantilla...

As regular readers will be aware, I'm a big fan of veiling in church - I've written about mantillas (or lack thereof) in France , rainbow-coloured SSPX veils in Switzerland, and the more traditional sort in Canada... lost mantillas ... stolen mantillas... mantillas in Rome ... the reactions that mantilla-wearers get... You get the idea.  Mulier Fortis and I even set up the Blackfen (where even the snow-women wear mantillas) branch of the Mantilla Mafia  and have set out to convert unsuspecting women to mantilla-wearing.

Whatever the weather, it's mantilla-time in Blackfen...

 I have almost a dozen mantillas between my house, handbag and van. So I suppose you could say that I'm pretty serious about mantillas... least that's what I thought until my internet pal Amanda (she of the praiseworthy Catholic Home Ed blog) wonderful  created the wonderful Loving Mantillas blog. Next to Amanda I am a mantilla dilettante! Not only does Amanda love mantillas, she also writes about them and publishes photographs of them and her blog is a treasure-trove for British mantilla lovers: I think it's the only UK based one in existence.

I was saddened but not surprised to hear that she's been getting a slew of nasty comments and emails from loose-cannons all over the green-ink-splattered interweb -- fancy having so much time on your hands that you waste it castigating somebody who puts up pretty photographs of mantillas for people to enjoy. Bizarre.

...and the photographs *are* lovely: there are exquisite photos of bridal mantillas, baby mantillas, Spanish mantillas and lots of serene pictures of women praying.  Pay it a visit! Send her beautiful photographs of yourself and your family wearing mantillas to make it even better -- and -- to encourage others to consider loving mantillas themselves...

...and leave her some happy feedback so that she knows that her labour of love is appreciated!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

A great read... Inspiring. Intelligent. Catholic.

I'm not usually one for Women's magazines but a few months ago I was intrigued by the strap-line of Regina, a new online Catholic magazine for women: Inspiring. Intelligent. Catholic. That's a lot to live up to.

As those readers who know me in real life are aware, I spent most of my pre-motherhood adult years working in academia and the media and have done a fair bit of journalistic writing in my day. In other words I'm a jaded hack and it takes a lot to impress me. Despite my initial cynicism, I'm delighted to say that Regina has lived up to its strap line and having the first issue on my iPad made a long and otherwise tedious cattle-class transatlantic flight pass almost unnoticed. I read it, re-read it and wanted more. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough of it -- and, that I had to wait until August 1st for the next edition.

Some members - I'm not sure how many - of the editorial team were stealthily travelling around England during the early summer gathering material for the issue that hits the virtual news stands tomorrow. The theme: The Secret Catholic Insider's Guide to England. The magazine's Facebook page has been trailing various articles, including articles about the Traditional Latin Mass in England, the missing history of recusant families, Chesterton, the Oxford movement converts and many more. It looks like it will make good summer reading - inspiring, intelligent and Catholic.

Regina magazine is free and can be read online or downloaded onto a reading device / tablet. Find the main website here, 'like' it here on Facebook, and subscribe for free here.


Monday, 22 July 2013

Predatory atheists

Friendly atheists just dying to support their Christian friends in crisis...

It's happened too many times to be a coincidence. Someone in my circle of friends is having a difficult time - death, divorce, illness - and I lend a sympathetic ear. Obviously I'm not the only one doing this, but sometimes I find that if the person has had some involvement with the (Catholic) Church, past or present, this will come up in our conversations: largely because they will ask me "is it true that the church says X or Y?" or because they'll make a statement along the lines of "well my problem would be even worse if I was still practising the faith because of X or Y or Z" where X and Y and Z are fallacies usually picked up from the culture at large. I'm happy to correct misconceptions or point to resources that might be helpful, but that's the end of it. None of the people I'm thinking of could be described as religious but clearly they have some issues to do with religion that I'm happy to help with if it's within my ken.

Well. We can't be having that now, can we? Today I was told on no uncertain terms that "mutual friend A" who is in the middle of a nasty marital separation "has made it clear that she does NOT want to be dragged back into Church". I contacted "friend A" -- who had contacted me with questions about the Church and marriage dissolution and / or divorce -- who confirmed that she had not said anything of the sort to anybody. I pointed out -- as if I needed to -- that I had no plans to drag her or anybody else for that matter "back into Church" but that I would be at the end of the phone line / email should she need me.

This isn't the first time that I've been rather bossily told -- and not always by the same person -- that I must not not try to "convert" lapsed Catholic friends when they're in the middle of the crisis. The tacit assumption is that they're screwed up enough thanks to that church of yours, thank you very much, so just back off. The irony is that whilst I've prayed privately for these friends, I've never told them, nor have I in any way tried to coerce them "back to church" -- whatever that means.

...BUT ... and it's a big BUT... every time a lukewarm or lapsing Catholic friend has had a crisis, the proselytising atheists have appeared, like sharks circling their prey with smug toothy grins. "Oh how awful that you feel guilty because of that stupid faith that was rammed down your throat as a child..." they crow "yes of course you're better off without it -- the last thing that you need right now is to worry about being judged by some church people" and so forth. The benign atheists are there with their smiles and their sympathy and their tea with a missionary zeal that would put Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses to shame.

Please join me in asking St Rita, the patron saint of women with difficult husbands, to pray for my friend who is going through a huge trauma -- not helped by the "help" of friends who see this as an opportunity to undermine her fragile faith.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Who's the (Sugar) Daddy?

I was unhappy - but not surprised - to see photos of the British Embassy in Paris sporting a rainbow flag this past weekend to celebrate that city's homosexual "pride" event. British Ambassador to France, Peter Ricketts said

Who on earth authorised these clowns to fly a flag representing a minute fraction of the population in place of the Union flag? The embassy is there to represent all of Britain, not a minority group (albeit a vociferous one).

The Foreign Office has form on this matter: in 2008 they flew rainbow "pride" flags over various embassies, sparking protests and diplomatic rows that resulted in the FO sending a memo to all embassies requesting that they only fly national flags because "...flying other flags opens up too many potentially difficult and divisive questions...we should continue to restrict flag-flying... to national flags, as currently set out in guidance".

Either this guidance has changed, or a wilful blind-eye is being turned to the display and caution about "difficult and divisive" issues has been thrown to the wind.

It's interesting timing as well, with David Cameron intent on forcing through same-sex marriage legislation in the UK while France is racked with protests against the Loi Taubira which legalised same sex marriage. Cameron has been so keen to force through same sex marriage that I strongly suspect that he knew about or even suggested the rainbow flag on the British Embassy in Paris:  in these days when gay-friendliness seems to be the currency of cool among first-world leaders, perhaps Cameron wants to be seen lending (im)oral support to the ghastly Francois Hollande.

...but compared to the gay-friendliest leader of all, Cameron and Hollande are mere wallflowers. Newsweek current cover proclaims Obama the  "First Gay President" but the picture takes things a step further: a halo suggests a sainthood. This is nothing if not perverse.

In May The New Yorker cover depicted a "gay pride"-styled White House in anticipation of the DOMA debates:

...and this week, after the repeal of the Defence of Marriage Act, a frankly creepy image of children's characters "Bert and Ernie" from Sesame Street cuddled up in front of the TV. The implication is clear: they're homosexual. This is particularly nasty as it points us towards a future where no close non-sexual friendship will be believed to be chaste. Bert and Ernie, Noddy and Big Ears - they're all at it so you'd might as well break it to the kids now...

Savvy social commentator (and atheist), Spiked's Brendan O'Neill warns that "[a]nyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying...I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking."

But why this rush - this state-sanctioned headlong rush -  to embrace all things homosexual? Why are leaders of first world countries falling over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the militant homosexual lobby and the media following suit?

I'm old enough to remember when any one of the things mentioned above would have caused such a high degree of scandal as to be unthinkable. And that time wasn't very long ago. 

Follow the money. Cherchez la femme. Both good sleuthing tips when looking for motivation. But in this case "suivez l'homme" might be more apt; and not just any old man but a debauched Father of Lies, the ultimate "sugar daddy". 

 Cameron, Obama, Hollande:  here (on the right) is your master, whether you realise it or not.

St Wolfgang and the Devil (c.1483) by Michael Pacher

St Wolfgang of Regensburg: Ora pro nobis!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Liberté, Fraternité, Egalité? Non! Police brutality, false arrest,and persecution as the French state makes a mockery of democracy...

... if you're a supporter of traditional Marriage, that is. Although initially it was primarily the traditionalist Catholic demonstrators who were targeted by police for rough handling, since the passing of the Loi Taubira all demonstrators - the elderly and children as well as the young - have been subjected to brutal, unjust and illegal attention from the police. As the video (with English subtitles) below shows, unruly behaviour verging on riots after a PSG (Paris Saint Germain) football match was virtually ignored, whilst peaceful sit-down pro-family protesters have been beaten, kettled and arrested.


Nicolas Bernard-Buss, 23, a student in Paris was arrested 16th June on the Champs Elysées after a demonstration. Vatican Insider reports:
"Nicolas Bernard Busse, 23, was put on trial immediately, sentenced to four months in prison and given a €1000 fine for rebellion and resisting arrest, French newspapers report. The student had taken part in a recent demonstration against same-sex marriage outside the studios of the M6 TV station, where President François Hollande was appearing in a broadcast. He then went to the Champs-Élysées in central Paris with some friends. All of them were wearing T-shirts with the acronym “Manif pour tous” and the logo of a father and mother with their two children. Six policemen caught up with them but Nicolas refused to follow them and instead went and hid in a restaurant, where he was subsequently caught and arrested"
He was charged with "rebellion" and sentenced to four months in prison with a minimum of two months incarceration to be served. He was placed in solitary confinement, allegedly for his own safety, with only his lawyer allowed to visit him. There are a dozen locked doors between his cell and the communal prison areas and his meals (along with hundreds of letters) are delivered through a hatch. These are unusually harsh conditions and the sentence itself exceeds both the letter and spirit of French law: Nicolas was not accused of any criminal action: his "offence" was to be present (and an organiser of) an anti-gay marriage vigil. See RTL news for mainstream coverage of this story.

Many thanks to John Smeaton for highlighting Nicolas' case and for providing contact information for the French Embassy. May I strongly encourage all readers to write to the French Ambassador in their country and protest Nicolas Bernard-Buss' unlawful incarceration in the strongest (polite) terms. Details for the French Embassy in London are below:

His Excellency Bernard Emié
French Embassy in the United Kingdom
58 Knightsbridge
Tel: 020 7073 1000

Monday, 17 June 2013

Blessing of lilies in a prairie parish

If it seems that things have been a little quiet on the blog over the past three or so weeks it's because we've been on holiday in western Canada visiting family and doing some wonderful hiking and wildlife spotting in the Rocky Mountains.

One of the highlights of our trip has been our discovery (and temporary adoption) of the Traditional Latin Mass community at St Anthony's Parish in Calgary. St Anthony's is a bi-ritual parish with both Traditional and Novus ordo communities and priests; the Traditional community's priests are from the FSSP. We loved Fr Anthony Sumich who gave some of the most hard-hitting and engaging sermons that we've heard away from our home parish. The servers were impeccable -- impressively so as there were many young ones; and the families we met were incredibly kind and welcoming. We could quite happily have settled in this parish forever! It's a thriving and growing community - there are currently two priests, based in Calgary, serving all of Alberta (one goes North to Edmonton to say Sunday Mass). To give you some indication of parish size: the Corpus Christi procession (around the local streets with three altars stationed around the neighbourhood) had over 400 participants. Today's procession for the parish's patronal feast (1st Class, moved to the nearest Sunday) wasn't as large, but was still the best part of two sides of a city block long. It was wonderful to hear the Rosary sung in Latin through leafy suburban streets. It was, my husband reminded me, a lot like our parish's Day with Mary procession. It's that universality that I love about being Catholic -- it makes no difference whether you're in a prairie parish or an outer London suburb.
Here are a couple of taster photos of today's traditional blessing of the lilies and of the statue before the procession... I'm hoping to blog more about our time in Canada when I get home...
The aspersion of the lilies after the traditional blessing

The procession sets off with servers and the statue at the front, followed by flag-bearers with the flags of countries represented in the TLM community, then parishioners followed by the choir and Fr Sumich

The statue back in the church after the procession

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Pope Francis Leads March for Life in Rome. Yes!

Setting a wonderful example for priests and - yes - Bishops (yes!) the Holy Father lead the March for Life today in Rome. Security was a little higher than we have seen recently, which suggests that this was a planned (and strategic) outing rather than a spontaneous gesture. Read the full story here.

I look forward to an increased participation by the Bishops of England and Wales in pro-life initiatives here in the UK. Yes?


Friday, 10 May 2013

A nine year old's dilemma whilst discerning her vocation...

"Mummy, the problem with being a religious sister is... WHO catches the spiders?"


Indeed! I'm proud that my example has given her such a profound insight into the true meaning of Christian marriage: who catches the spiders when there's no husband around?


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A weekend in April

Great video of this year's Saint Catherine's Trust Family Retreat. I cannot overemphasise the benefits, both spiritual and in terms of fun and fellowship, of this weekend to families. If you're even the slightest bit tempted to try it, or vaguely curious about the Traditional Latin Mass or keen to cultivate an authentic Catholic family culture, then pencil it in for next year!

One Weekend in April: The St. Catherine's Trust Family Retreat, April 2013 from LMS on Vimeo.


Thursday, 2 May 2013

Little Acts of Kindness

It's funny how a small thoughtful gesture can brighten the most banal day. Last week I accidentally left my house-keys behind at the home of a lovely family whose parents also happen to be my youngest son's God-parents. We had been celebrating St George's Day (somewhat belatedly, as it was Tuesday) and had been tucking into the remains of the giant dragon cake with the help of all our children. When there's cake about, it's easy to forget about things like house keys...

My husband popped by to collect my keys yesterday and discovered a small addition: a beautiful leather cross had been added to the keyring. The father of the family is a master shoemaker and, I assume, had cut the cross from an offcut of leather.

I've smiled every time I've used my keys today, and it's been a salutory reminder that small and simple acts can be a real gift to their recipients.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Happy St George's Day!

Our 2013 St George's Day dragon cake was only slightly scarier than the 2012 version ( note claws, improved teeth and extra scary flames in the latest release) but, filled with strawberry jam / blood and slain by fearless knights it was no less tasty.

We went to Mass this morning as usual instead of the evening Missa Cantata for the feast day which would hsve been our preference (you can see why: look what we missed!), but two of our children had won prizes in a poetry competition and the awards ceremony was tonight to coincide with World Book Day. Even so, we were glad to see St George's statue (above) in pride of place next to the Sanctuary this morning, and said the Prayer for England as a family with our night prayers.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy "Dowry" and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross. O sorrowful Mother! intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Vocations Sunday


Pray for priests.

Pray for good priests.

Pray for good and holy priests.

Pray for many good and holy priests.

Pray for many good and holy priests from among the families you know.


Pray that those young men and boys who are not called to become priests, become good and holy husbands and fathers, because without many good and holy husbands and fathers there will be no families from which the many good and holy priests that we need must come.


St John Vianney: Ora pro nobis!

Saint Joseph: Ora pro nobis!


...and let us never also forget to pray for girls and women to be called to the religious life, to serve Our Lord be the great powerhouses of prayer, contemplation and teaching that have and continue to be integral to the Church Militant.
Carmelite martyrs

...and let us pray that those girls not called to serve God in the religious life may embrace their roles as good and holy wives and mothers who may, with the complementary help of good and holy husbands, and the support of good and holy priests and religious, bring up children for the greater glory of God in an atmosphere that will be fertile for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.