Friday, April 29, 2011

God's 'little Providences'.

That's what Blessed John Henry Newman called them. In any case they have been strewn beneath my halting feet and amazed heart for the last week. Late this afternoon I arrived at the last task on my list before departure for Rome tomorrow. The whole garden had to be watered, and it is fairly large. (Unfortunately my husband is not a gardener and in any case is not strong enough  to do this job.) So I began by dragging the hose down as far as my 'John Paul II ' Clematis. A couple of years ago, I planted it against the fence in the Advent section of the garden. Last year it bloomed in late May. This year, I found to my astonished delight that it was already in bloom. Plants tend to do this sort of thing. I've  had snowdrops on a very special February 2nd, Passion Flower on Corpus Christi, but this 'floraison' two days before the Beatification of Venerable John Paul , meant that I had to cling to the fence in my surprise. Call it fanciful if you like, but the plant's urgency seemed to answer  the criticisms of the Beaticication as being 'too soon'. I will admit that I was not quite comfortable with it until I saw those papery pale violet  blooms in my own garden as today neared its end.

I just had to share this with you.

Of equal importance is that Father Mark Kirby, this blog's honorary spiritual director, has sent his loving blessing on my pilgrimage to Rome, which as he knows, will be conducted  in the spiritual presence of you all.


To travel hopefully: ...............Rome 2011

As you will know, R.L.Stevenson maintained that 'to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive'.  I have always agreed with his sentment,  but on the eve of my first ever Roman pilgrimage I pray that he and I will both be proved wrong.

I leave here on Saturday at 10am and should arrive at the Hotel Gravina San Pietro sometime during the afternoon of that day. I will be there until the morning of May 4 and during that time you can message me via email at

Seasoned pilgrims to Rome might ask themselves why this old girl is making such a fuss about her first  pilgimage there. But I know my friends understand and I thank them all for the encouragemtnt and support they have given me over the last few days.

I'm sure that other anglophone bloggers will post their impressions of the PCCS blogmeet before I can. Returning on May 4 , I will post reflectively as soon as possible after that date.

With my plea for your prayers and the promise of mine for you,

In Chrito pro Papa


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rome update

Most of the essential arrangements are fixed and now I have to make preparations to leave my husband on his own for four days. As many wives of my generation will know, that is no mean task. (Why does the face of Annette Crosbie keep swimming in my mind?) Seriously though, the dear one has coped well with my stress over the last week. Now it is his turn for some TLC. With your prayers, and his, I will make it intact to the departure gate on Saturday morning. On Friday evening, D.V., I will post my final Roman plans, as far as they can be predicted.  There'll be an email address where you can leave messages for me whilst in Rome. I will be tremendously helped by any such messages. As you know, it's my first pilgrimage to Rome and I'm very nervous.

Until Friday then, God bless all here.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Listen to us - VOCES (Buckfast Abbey)

Listen to us - VOCES
Highly recommended.

'Voces' is the Buckfast Abbey 'special' choir'. that is they are not the monastic choir, but give concerts, and recently, according to a friend who is a member of the SouthWest Ordinariate Group, have been assisiting at liturgies in the Abbey connected with the preparation of Ordinariate Catechumens. Please click the above link to listen. (There's a choice of Victoria, Morales, Byrd and Schutz) No time for more now, (Rome preparations an' all) but you can be sure I will be following this ensemble with the keenest interest and will be posting further links and info. as they come to my notice. Have not had the time to check whether 'Voces' is represented on YouTube.. Might have the time tonight. First I must email my friend to say 'thank you'. He alerted me to their existence a couple of weeks ago but I couldn't find a site at that time..Devon is indeed made even more 'glorious' by its Ordinariate members, and by this choir which supports them.

Deo gratias.

Haec Dies - William Byrd [1540 - 1623]

Posting of Exsultet Recordings.

Just for the record I put these up at 8.15pm European time. Having just returned from the Vigil in Rome (courtesy of EWTN) I am delighted to find that NLM posted the same videos a few minutes ago. Clearly I made a good choice!

Oh, the joys of being a small blogger!

Easter blessings to all here.


Saturday, April 23, 2011


Apologies for the bad split between these two parts. In spite of this, a noble and very moving rendition, well worth saving to the blog archive.

Christ is Risen!. He is risen indeed!.

Happy Easter everyone.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Pope to call space station in papal first

Pope Benedict XvI and Communications: Today, Italian Television interview; on May 4 a phone call with astronauts in Space.

And in 10 minutes time he's due at the Colisseum to preside over the Via Crucis. Am just off to watch this via EWTN. I expect that whilst I am thus occupied, other bloggers will post on the TV interview and the telephone call into Space. If not, will post again as soon as possible.

Improperia (Popule Meus)

Improperia later this afternoon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In monte Oliveti (Ingegneri).mpg

This is one of my favourite Holy Week Motets. It is the best version I could find, although the Maynooth University choir discharges itself well. (see YouTube to compare.) The composer was a pupil of Palestrina and seems to have developed a predilection for his master's polyphonic 'scrunches'. His pursuit of this fixation comes as a shock when you see it written on the page and then hear yourself trying to execute it! It's  no use shilly-shallying. You must have confidence and then it works. In our choir, for once, the sops really had trouble in rehearsals. This ensemble is at least as good as we eventually became in performance.
Now it's time to 'creep to the Cross'.
With my prayers always,

Ubi Caritas by the Cambridge Singers

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unless there is any late mishap I AM GOING TO ROME!

After this post I hope to be silent, (apart from music clips) until the afternoon of Easter day.
In the meantime, here's my news. In view of all the difficulties and the feared impossibility of getting things sorted at such short notice, it's very hard to believe that my Guardian Angel has not been extremely active over the past several days.

First of all, I simply could not have cleaned up the blog so effectively and solved various technical problems without Mac's help. Sorry Mac, I just have to hand it to you. Thank you so much. And I see that the PCCS has been having a look too. When they see this post they'll wish they'd invited you as wellas, or instead of me!! We'd make a fine pair if we were there together, you with a crutch and me with my walking stick.
(Changes to the blog were not made because of the'invitation'. They would have been made anyway and were indeed part of 'God's little providences.' in advance.)

Now, here are the bare bones of what has been achieved since my last post, and quite against all rational hope:
1. Have managed to book two DIRECT flights with Al Italia/Air France. Have to stay until May 4 to take advantage of the direct flight offer and its cheapness.
2. The hotel booking problems just melted away. A friend gave me a  link to and there I found an hotel in the Via della Cava Aurelia, five minutes walk from St. Peter's Basilica and the Palazzo Pio X where the 'meeting is to be held. I would think I was dreaming if I didn't have the print out of reservation confirmation in my fevered fingers. (Actually I'm calming down now that everything is fixed.)
3. Both of the above deals are substantially less than I expected to pay.


Convenor, I won't forget the Year for Nuns.

Have a blessed Sacred Tridumm everyone. I know you will all be reflecting upon the Holy Father's catechesis at this morning's Audience. I was somwhat distracted, as you can imagine, but he calmed me with his emphases on accepting the will of God in our lives and on the necessity of being in constant Vigil.

The minute I have signed off, I will remember something else I wanted to say. Until Easter then,

God protect and strengthen Pope Benedict , and may He bless all here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Haydn TE DEUM in C

Courtesy of 'papa Haydn' to Papa Benedetto on the joyful occasion of his sixth anniversary of election. as Pope. And of course from us Holy Father. Have a blessed anniversary.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The palm cross in my kitchen window; report on Roman blogmeet arrangements

The palm cross is there in my kitchen window, visible to all who pass by; the Gendarmerie have not yet arrived to insist that I take it down because it may cause offence in the village. What on earth is happening in England? In my French garden, the white rose of York is already in bloom. (She's always first to flower, but this year even sooner than usual.) I will have sprays of fragrance for Our Lord on Easter Sunday morning..

Good news. I WILL BE ABLE TO ATTEND THE ROMAN BLOGMEET, thanks to a very dear relative. Now, it's just a question of booking flights and accommodation. Not easy in view of the lack of time. But if 'Digitalnun' can make it, then I ought to do my best as well. Please pray for me tomorrow as I do battle with successive screens demanding expiry dates, security numbers, mother's maiden name and all that jazz.

Time to sign off for the night.
God bless all here and thanks for your support.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I am on the list of 150 invited to attend the Vatican's first Blogmeet

I'd need to quote an entire entry from Roget's Thesaurus to express my astonishment at this development. I expect to wake up at any moment and find that the whole thing is a dream.  Most of last evening was spent working on the Oasis design and other techno problems which had kept me from posting all day yesterday. (That's why the Holy Father's little birthday gift was posted so late in the day.) A very dear friend guided me through the whole thing with amazing patience and great expertise. She will remain nameless for the time being, although I suspect many of you will guess her identity! We didn't finish our work until 10pm French time and I didn't find the list  until gone 10.30pm and then only by accident. I decided on a final bloglist check before retiring to bed. Well, I read Reluctant Sinner's post reporting that he had been invited. I sent him a comment of congratulation.. I don't know what made me follow the link he gave to the full list of 150. For one thing I thought it beyond the bounds of possibility that we would both have been selected, for another, I didn't send my application until the very last minute on Wednesday. I really only sent it to get the Oasis URL on some Vatican list somewhere.

For me to get to Rome is going to take a minor financial 'miracle'. There is one family phone call to be made tonight, which might help to get me there. And (like Dylan Parry) I'll approach my London bank tomorrow in the hope of an extended overdraft. Other than that it's down to prayer. I'll keep you posted.
Please be assured that I do NOT fall into either the 'uber-trad' or the 'supporters of Mr Ivereigh' category.
On this blog, I have always striven for balanced orthodoxy. If I go to Rome, my behaviour, and anything I say there,  will follow the same yardstick. I think the mottto has to be 'Evangelisation through Love, Truth and Reason'. We will do our Catholic Blogosphere no good if we cannot be charitable and fair  towards each other. I've perhaps failed on the first count once or twice. But I always feel rotten after a rant!

Please pray for me and for my efforts to be able to accept this amazing opportunity.
God bless all here
In Christo pro Papa


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hans Hotter sings An die Musik

A little present for Pope Benedict on his birthday. I suspect he would like this version.
Ad multos annos Holy Father!
With filial love and constant prayers.

(Gerald Moore at the piano)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring-Cleaning in the Oasis

As you see work is still in progress. Hope to post again over the weekend, and then to be in retreat from Wednesday until after the Urbi et Orbi on Easter Sunday.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A break from posting until Friday, but I will not be idle

It is better that I spend all spare moments assisting Reluctant Sinner's initiative for a Catholic Bloggers' Guild. It is a rare opportunity and it should not be missed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bloggers' Guild: Positive response

Reluctant Sinner has continued to deal with comments individually. The idea shows every sign of bearing great fruit. Do give your support at

A bloggers Guild? (And trying to get rid of the paragraphing problem

Reluctant Sinner is having a good response to suggestion for a Guild of Catholic Bloggers and has promised to respond this evening to issues raised by commenters. A further report here when this has been done.

Thanks very much to Mac who has very kindly given me a tip as to how I may solve the paragraphing problem. And it works! Not that I'm surprised, knowing her expertise!

Monday, April 11, 2011

'Taliban' Catholics

Now stop it you lot! A joke's a joke among friends, but you are using the phrase more than the people who coined it as a tasteless, even spiteful insult to orthodox Catholics. If we're not careful 'Taliban Catholic' risks entry in a future Oxford Dictionary as follows: 'American journalistc phrase coined circa 2010, descriptive of orthodox Catholics (defunct). One who supported the Papacy of Benedict XVI. Accepted by traditional Catholics as an estimate of their rigid, repressive and inhumane position.' Think on, as they say 'up North'. Sleep well. More tomorrow.

The Vatican and its proposed Blognic: Well, I've 'slept on it' and am still irritated

My dear readers must judge for themselves whether I have calmed sufficiently to avoid a rant.. I am glad to see that Mulier Fortis agrees with me about the ridiculously short notice we have been given if we wish to have the slightest chance of attending the first Vatican blogging conference. In my turn, I agree with the other points Mac offers about expense and the difficulty of making arrangements at this late stage.

The Vatican seems to have launched this initiative on the basis of some questionable assumptions. 1. that we can all afford to go to Rome at the drop of a hat. (There seems to be total unawareness that many of us blog simply BECAUSE it is a CHEAP way of keeping in touch with the Church at large, and of sharing out views. 2. that many of us will be in Rome anyway for the Beatification 3. that many of us do not have jobs which preclude any chance of our being there 4. that the majority of Catholic bloggers are 'young'. (see Rome reports video on Bones' blog) Of coursse the Church must attract and look after the 'young'. They are the future. But if you are between 40 and death, do you ever feel that the Church has forgotten about you?) 5. that in the terms they give, the Vatican thinks that with a full capacity of 150 (worldwide and from several different language groups) it can select a truly representative assembly.

SEVERAL QUESTIONS ARE BEGGED. According to the Catholic Herald 'hundreds' have applied already. Who is doing the sifting and how thoroughly? Will a list of the successful applicants be published? Why the haste? How can such an event be properly organised within such a short time frame?Rome is usually much more cautious and thorough than this. It shouldn't be surprised that many of us are sceptical. Congratulation to Hilary White for efforts to organise and independent bloggers meeting, again in Rome. Personally I think Reluctant Sinner has made the best suggestion. More about that in the next post. (It's Monday, and shopping day here! Have to go.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tomorrow, a Rant about the Vatican's last minute invitation to a blognic.

That is, unless I calm down sufficiently to conceal exasperation. There were other things I wanted to post about. So DV there will be something here tomorrow whatever happens.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Delalande: Confitebor tibi Domine (part 1)

For the Eve of the 5th Sunday in Lent, a setting ot tomorrow's Offertory text.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Last Weekend's visits to the Abbey of Ste. Marie de Maumont 1

BACKGROUND Throughout the 1990s, and before my discovery of this Abbey of Benedictine nuns at Maumont, whenever possible we used to attend Sunday Mass at the Abbey of Trappistines at Echourgnac, just over the border into the Dordogne. The Liturgy at Aubeterre had become extremely modernistic and occasionally abusive. These visits to Echourgnac were a real spiritual shot in the arm. Yes, it was the Novus Ordo facing the choir of the nuns and the lay chapel at the west end of the church. The community of nuns numbered over 30 and it was apparent from their ages that this abbey has enjoyed a steady flow of vocations over past decades. The standard of the monastic singing was extremely high but there was hardly any Latin or Gregorian Chant. At that time modern chant in French was a novelty to me. Since then I have become less enamoured of it. (More about this on another occasion) The Mass itself was as different from the one at Aubeterre as chalk is from cheese. I'm sure this was because of the nuns themselves, who are primarily there for God and not for the sake of the assembled congregation of their lay guests. That being said, one always felt absorbed into the community of worshippers. Early in the next decade I learned about Maumont via the Internet. I had not realised that it was as near to us as Echourgnac, but to the north west instead of the south east. Quite by coincidence I already had a CD of Gregorian Chant recorded by the nuns of Maumont and therefore was delighted and somewhat surprised to find that they sing ALL the propers of the Mass according to the Roman Gradual. Their Chant is superb. The Ordinary of the Mass is sung to De Angelis or one of the other Masses in the Liber Usualis, according to the season. Otherwise the Mass is the same as at Echourgnac. I should also mention that at both Abbeys on does not present a 'sore thumb' spectacle if one kneels for the Consecration, or after Communion. At Maumont though, Communion on the tongue rather than in the hand, is made an easy althernative, and is adopted by more than half the congregation including children. Since we no longer have a car I can't get there as often as I would like. I therefore jumped at the chance last weekend, when the lady who takes me to Mass at Saint Severin, invited me to go with her to Maumont for a Penitential service which would include the opportunity for individual Confessions. I was assured that there would be an English speaking priest to whom I could go. This was a great relief because although my social French is very good, I've never been to Confession in French before. Nor have I ever been to a 'Penitential Service' , either in England or France and admit that I regard them with some suspicion, as being a substitute for the Sacrament of Penance in areas where the priest shortage is dire. Further, I admit that it was the chance of making a 'proper' Confession that overcame my reluctance to go to the Penitential Service. SATURDAY AFTERNOON - As it turned out, the fact that I didn't know what to expect, was a distraction that I had to fight all afternoon (i.e. 2.30pm until 5pm.) I castigated myself for lack of self-discipline in this regard, and in fact included it in my eventual Confession. I could have been better prepared if only the printed handout had explained that the service would in fact be an hour-long 'lectio divina' on St. Matthew's account of our Lord's tempations in the desert, that there would then be half an hour of private prayer, followed by a 'gathering' before the Sacrament of Penance. The 'Lectio' was given by a visiting Professor of Biblical Studies at Bordeaux Seminary. It was preceded by various lay people reading out St. Matthew's text. The 'Lectio' itself was a workman-like exposition, but there was no attempt to lead us afterwards to a connection with the text and the Confession we would later make. Nor even a suggestion that we should attempt that connection in the reflective period that followed it. The result was that each section of the afternoon had no clearly stated connection with the others. My Confessor turned out to be the nuns' chaplain, a kind, wise and venerable old priest. Life is made diffricult for me because I have to walk with a stick, and had to be led to the place in the church whence I would be called by one of the nuns when the priest was ready for me. It wasn't anyone's fault but I strongly dislike being made to stick out like this. Once I explained that I was used to traditional Confession in a box in Westminster Cathedral, he seemed to understand why the whole shape of the afternoon had unsettled me. I told him that much of what I'd planned to say had gone out of my head. He seemed to recognise my desire to be thorough and told me not to worry about it but that he would be happy for me to telephone him and make an appointment for another Confession in an atmosphere that would be more in keeping with my 'habitudes'. He asked me if I prayed regularly and we had a conversation about my visits to the Blessed Sacrament reserved here in St. Romain. He gave me Absolution and then gave me a lighted votive candle before I left him. When I got back into the church people were still going to Confession in other concealed areas. The same nun who had ushered me in, was waiting for me and made it clear that the expectation was that I would take the light up to a series of tables next to the altar as everyone else was apparently doing. By then I was feeling very dizzy and asked her to do it for me. I would have done it myself had I not been afraid that in spite of the walking stick, my vertigo would cause me to stumble, or even fall. She was very kind and understanding. Back in my place I gained some calm and recollection. It was then that I realised that I had not been given a penance. Only now that I'm writing about it do I suspect that Father realised that the whole experience had been enough of a penance! Even if only from the aspect of 'culture shock'. In the car on the way home I told Christiane what the priest had said to me about telephoning him for an appointment. She immediately offered to take me to Maumont whenever such a time had been arranged. A feeling flooded over me that was somewhat akin to the one I always experience after Confession, quite unnecessay to describe it to you, my dear readers. Suffice to say that my gratitude to Christiane knows no bounds. Later on in the journey she confirmed something I had already suspected. In the years between 1970 and very recently, the Sacrament of Penance became a thing of the past in this neck of the woods. Not just because of the shortage of priests, but because priests themselves did very little to preach or encourage it. She said that you had to be satisfied during that time with these 'Penitential Services'. In fact it was the only thing available in Holy Week, that is, until now. I am sure it is the young priests, like our own Pere Florian Marchand, who have a new attitude.. And the faithful are responding. They know in their bones that it is wrong to keep going to Communion and never to Confession. There were over a hundred of them at Maumont last Saturday, and all partook of the Sacrament of Penance. Never doubt the vitality of 'the eldest daughter of the Church'. Regardless of my misgivings about the way the afternoon was constructed, I truly do believe that the tide is beginning to turn. Next post: LAETARE SUNDAY, MASS AT MAUMONT ABBEY My apologies for lack of paragraphing in this and in recent posts. For some reason the wretched system is refusing to accept my instructions. Will try to sort it out next time.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Further Techno-problems

The computer and phone have been 'down' for more than 24 hours. Just getting back to 'normal'. Will answer emails asap, and post again on Friday about last weekend's visit to Maumont Abbey - good in many ways , but disturbing in others. I promise to explain!

Monday, April 4, 2011

News of Father George Byers, formerly a chaplain in Lourdes

A grateful mantilla twitch to Mac at Mulier Fortis for sharing news of a development in the focus of Father's priestly vocation. He is now a hermit and has a new blog. Link to the blog for more details and for Father's email address. (Permanent link in my bloglist here.)

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Supreme Gardener and the Dowry of Mary

This post has been delayed by my visit to Maumont Abbey. I began to think about it as a result of two recent news items, the one being well covered on Catholic blogs, the other less so. Both report growth in a literal and symbolic sense. The less-noticed report involves the Holy Thorn of Glastonbury. Three months after the Holy Father's visit to England, the tree was hacked to a stump by vandals and according to the Daily Telegraph, thus 'destroyed'. The word now proves to have been prematurely applied because the tree has recently been discovered to be budding again. Even had the tree officially been pronounced dead, all would not have been lost. In and around Glastonbury there are several saplings raised from cuttings taken from their violently wounded parent. That parent was itself a cutting from its predecessor which was cut down by Cromwell's Roundheads. We can therefore be fairly certain that there will always be a Holy Thorn of Glastonbury on Wearyall Hill, standing as the most ancient natural symbol of Christianity in England. The Legend of the original Thorn having sprouted from the staff that the wayfaring Joseph of Aritmathea struck into English earth, is in itself a symbol, and we can learn from, and be heartened by it today. The budding of the stricken tree contains a lesson. God is the Supreme Gardener, metaphorically and in reality. The vandals who chopped at the tree last year, represent the 'vandals' who are cutting away at our Christian culture, making 'laws' in the name of a tolerance that has none, laws which prevent a person from living out the Christian faith in true freedom. But the stump remains. It is not dead. In spite of persistent hacking it still lives. Saint Thomas More once said that the laws of England are like a grove of oaks. We cut them down at our peril. Then came the first Mass in York Minster since the reign of Mary Tudor. Organised by the Latin Mass Society, this Mass celebrated the 'Pearl of York', Saint Margaret Clithorow, barbarically pressed to death for the 'crime' of harbouring Catholic priests. One does not know why the local Catholic church was 'not available' for this Mass, but in the absence of support from that quarter, the LMS and the Dean and chapter of York Minster got together with the result of an amazing witness to Catholic faith, both Roman and Anglican. As a Yorkshire woman, I react to this in a very personal way, but that aside, the event means only good for the 'Dowry of Mary'. Who are the four master gardeners that I originally suggested, and who are working with the Supreme Gardener? Saint Margaret Clitherow for one, but guiding her is Our Lady of Walsingham. Added to this there is a factor of which I have been convinced since his election. Our present Holy Father understands England, and that is no mean feat! He came to the country last September with that understanding and he was determined that Blessed John Henry Newman be put in place to head the battle for the Faith. I recommend this to the reflection to those who are surprised by Pope Benedict's granting of private audience to Msgr Newton. It is no surprise to me. Rather, it is a tremendous relief. So those four Master Gardeners are: Our Lady of Walsingham, Saint Margaret Clitherow, Blessed John Henry Newman and Pope Benedict XVI.

Abbaye de Sainte Marie de Maumont: Last minute invitation forces change of plan

The invitation, received last night after Mass, means that I will be out most of the day and won't be home until it's time to cook supper. Today's promised post will appear tomorrow D.V.