Saturday, December 31, 2011


The Angelus rings again in Saint Romain

This was my best intangible and lasting Christmas present of 2011. The bell had been silent for more years than I care to remember. For some reason the commune chose this year to authorise the repair of the automatic mechanism and so since Christmas Eve the Angelus has been ringing out, as it always used to, three times a day -at 7am, noon and 7pm.  I cannot think of a bettter way to be woken up each morning! Deo gratias.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Consistory in February? Sandro Magister seems fairly sure.......... ( updated Friday 30th Dec)

He goes through the usual stuff about not giving the red hat to Archbishops  who have an emeritus Cardinal in their Dioceses. He hints that an exception could be made for Archbishop Timothy Dolan, but consigns Westminster to having to wait until next time, as if that is already a fait accompli. One would love to know what is behind his apparent certainties. However, on va voir.


Update: A February Consistory is looking ever more likely. Vatican Insider reports that Goldsmiths, Savi Brothers have received an order from the Vatican of rings for new cardinals.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

♫ The Coventry Carol (Collegium Vocale Gent) ♪

Saint Silcaire de Brantome pray for us.

Holy Innocents day...

....or Childermas as it was once called. It also used to be the practice to remember the slaughter of the Innocents every week during the twelve months that precede December 28th on the day of the week in which the feast will fall in any given year. I will try to remember that each Friday during the coming year by making some special act of reparation..
"My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief...because infants and babes faint in the streets of the city." (Lam.2:11) And now they are being massacred in their millions even before birth.One is rendered dumb by the heinous wilful enormity of it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Holy and Happy Christmas to all my readers - Dominus dixit ad me

Sixth century Old Roman chant for tonight's Introit. Now that's tradition for you!
The Vatican begins broadcasting in 15 minutes. When the Mass is over, and before bed, I'll post a lullaby for the new born King.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To be considered in the New Year.

The futile wrong-headedness of comparing this pontificate with the previous one.

Pope lists five lessons from World Youth Day 2011 for the New Evangeliza...

Benedict XVI: A 'Part-time Pope' of feeble governance.

So Marco Politi ('veteran vaticanista') judges our present Holy Father. What arrant nonsense. Clearly the man is living on another planet. Unfortunately that planet is possibly a satellite of the Vatican. Ay, there's the rub.

 Rome Reports has an interesting snapshot of today's papal address to the Curia. see next post.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

For Saint John of the Cross: the Apple Tree and the Eglantine

In the Advent section of my garden the Apple Tree and the Eglantine grow side by side. I planted the Apple Tree nine years ago, and very deliberately, for St. John of the Cross. The Eglantine appeared from nowhere around about the same time. All I can think is that a passing bird had dropped a rose hip some years previously.. At the time I had already written the entry for Saint John in my first book and it was about to be published.

I shalll visit the garden tomorrow, even if it is raining, because today I was reminded by something that I myself had written in 2001, that there is a connection between the Apple Tree and the Eglantine:
"In his commentary on his poem 'The Spirtitual Canticle', St John explains that the apple tree represents the Cross, and the rose tree, the understanding, memory and will of the soul'"

Both are mature plants now, the apple about seven feet in height, and the eglantine, more spready, shrubby, and very thorny, about four, and huddled against the trunk of the former as if for guidance and protection.

The recording in the video above is beautiful to my ear and only marred by the singer's failing to separate 'the' and 'apple' from one another , so we get 'Jesus Christ the-yapple tree'. Nevertheless the rest of it is so beautiful that I gladly forgive his infelicitous lapse  in enunciation!

Nothing to represent the rose tonight. Maybe tomorrow..

God bless.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Oasis response to John Smeaton's request to sing for the Unborn this December

Some of the other versions are just as good, if not better in some respects. Check them out when this one finishes..
As you all know 'The Oasis' is in France so I can't come and sing at Piccadilly, Green Park or Waterloo Tube stations but I'll be singing here! For details of the London gatherings leading to Christmas, see John Smeaton in sidebar here.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quote of the day: h/t to Fr George Byers (Holy Souls Hermitage)

At Lourdes Our Lady said to Bernadette Soubirous, 'I am the Immaculate Conception'. not 'I am the Immaculate implantation'.

Spiritual Mothers CR News 5: Fr Mark Kirby preaches to Spiritual Mothers in Tulsa

For text see here at Father's blog 'Vultus Christi'

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tota pulchra es Maria, by anonymous composer

For the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

It's Bolivian. I can't find out anything else.

Angouleme Cathedral yields up some astonishing secrets

On November 3  a lead casket was dug up  from beneath a slab in the transept of the cathedral. According to archeological and historical experts (as reported in the 'Charente Libre' December 5 2011) the three skeletons that the casket contained are without any doubt, those of the grandparents and father of Francis I of France (born 1494 at Cognac). It seems that the bodies of the three were hacked up by the Huguenots. After things 'calmed down' the faithful collected all the pieces and reassembled them for burial in a secret location. And there they stayed for almost six centuries until a few weeks ago. It makes me wonder what is underneath St Romain church. There is known to have been  a church on the site since the time of Charlemagne.

More details when I've found time to study the newspaper report in detail, not easy at this time of year!............  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Give me Contemplative Participation. It is so profoundly 'active'.

Anyway, this is what I will be pursuing between now and Christmas, as I try in any case to do all the year round..
I will occasionally post music between now and the 'Urbi et Orbi' on Christmas Day, but that will be all, unless in the interim something terrible happens.

In Christo pro Papa Benedetto.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Confirmation in south-east Charente: final part

Confirmation Names:
The baptismal names of the Confirmands were in small print at the top right hand corner of the service sheet. Bishop Dagens read them out at the end of his homily. There was no mention of Confirmation names, either at that point or during the Confirmation itself. Pehaps the French don't keep this custom as we do in the Anglophone world - at least I hope we still do.

Creed or Renewal of Baptismal vows?
Although the Service sheet indicated a 'Profession de Foi des Jeunes' followed by the Profession of Faith 'de l'assemblee' with the Apostles Creed being printed out for the purpose, in fact the Confirmands were taken through the renewals of Baptismal vows, as at the Easter Vigil. Many of the Congregation did not know whether to join in the responses or not. And in any case they were not printed in the provided sheet.

The Confirmation began with the singing of  'Veni Sancte Spiritus' in French with the Latin response 'Veni Sancte Spiritus' repeated at the end of each of the ten verses. It was a dreary and not at all memorable tune and I couldn't help longing for the Chant not merely to satisfy my own taste but to hand on to the young, an important  part of tradition, particularly at a rare opportunity provided by events such as the Montmoreau Confirmation...

Then according to the sheet we should have witnessed the laying on of hands. We did not. The bishop stood behind the altar,  versus populum, flanked by his two assistant priests and all in a straight row and the three of them raised their hands to just above shoulder level with palms toward the line of candidates assembled outside the sanctuary. . Later I realised that they had reminded me of a trio of Indian chiefs. .I'm glad not to have thought of it at the time or I should have been dangerously close to laughter. I don't know what justification there was for each confirmand not receiving the laying on of hands individually. When I was confirmed there were at least twenty  of us and we all went up separately and knelt before the Archbishop's chair to receive that part of the rite . Our sponsors handed him a card with our chosen Confirmation name written on it so he was able to address each one of us and announce the new name for all to hear.

Although  I gather that the annointing with Chrism is regarded as the central act of the Rite these days, and indeed it was carried out with proper dignity 'according to the book',  I was somewhat discomfited by the way the 'laying on of hands'  was, or should I say was not conducted on Sunday.

Two further incidents caused me quite a shock. At the Consecration during the Mass Bishop Dagens did something I've never seen before. He elevated the Host BEFORE consecrating it. And after the words of Consecration, lifted It even higher so that It was above his head.  Has anyone seen this done before?

Another thing happened later on at the sign of peace. I've read in several places that it is counted as a minor abuse if the priest leaves the altar and comes down among the congregation to exchange the sign with all and sundry. Bishop Dagens walked the length of the church giving the sign to the persons  at the nave end of each row. Is there a different rule for bishops?  Much as I was honoured to exchange the sign of Peace with my bishop, I really would have preferred it, had he earlier taken the time to 'lay hands' properly and not symbolically, on the those being confirmed.

I've already tried to make it clear that I went to this Mass with absolutely no intention of 'nit-picking', but the things I have mentioned took me by surprise and unsettled me..

Perhaps people will share their experiences of Confirmation both now and in the past.

btw Since Pere Marchand's arrival there has been almost a complete disappearence of EMHCs at our local Masses. I'm glad to say there was no sign of them at all at Montmoreau. .