Friday, December 28, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas: a secret Catechesis?

The other dayI had a fascinating Facebook message from a dear friend in the US. Katharine is Irish and now lives in Idaho, I think. She used to live 'just up the road' from here in an even smaller village than Saint Romain.. Her message focused on Ann Ball's book 'A Handbook of Catholic Sacramentals' of which I was woefully ignorant. In the book the author claims that our well known Christmas song acually dates back to penal times when Catholics had to hide their faith. You may all know this and because of my interest in this kind of history I was surprised that I did not. The book was thankfully available from Amazon at $4.95  and so I ordered, it mainly to find out the background and scholastic reputation of its author. However it may or may not be well founded in fact, her theory about the song is quite plausible, and indeed it does make a good catechetical reminder. I look forward to reading it in the New Year.

Firstly the repeated 'True Love' after each section is Jesus Christ Himself, who is the real True Love who was made man on Christmas Day. Each time and with each gift, He also sends a partridge in a pear tree. This is a hidden reference to Christ's giving of Himself on the cross to save us all . It is appropriate because folklore had it that the Partridge was willing to give up its life for its offspring.

And gifts two to 12 are explained as follows.

Two Turtle Doves - The Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens - Faith, Hope and Charity
Four Calling Birds - The four evangelists and their Gospels
Five Gold Rings - The first five books of the Old Testament
Six Geese a-laying - The six days of Creation
Seven Swans a-swimming - The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Eight Maids a-milking - The eight Beatitudes
Nine Ladies dancing - the fruits of the Holy Spitit
Ten Lords a-leaping - the ten Commandments
Eleven Pipers piping - the eleven faithful apostles
Twelve Drummers drumming - the twelve points of belief as in the Apostles Creed

Thank you and a very happy Christmas to Katharine and to Ann Ball

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Fagiolini Striggio: Mass in 40 parts

This year I sent this as a Christmas present to someone very special in Rome. I am convinced he will love it. And no, the recipient is not the Holy Father!

Rorate Caeli - Francisco Guerrero

And a favourite setting. The only version I could find. Not easy, but well worth the effort.

News from Father Mark

The 'Gatehouse' at Siverstream Priory is open. More pictorial news as soon as possible.

In the meantime still finding my feet, or should I say, my eyes. and in any case Rorate Sunday is almost upon us, with one of my favourite introits.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Final thought before closing down

The Holy Father has drawn an important distinction between respect for human rights and respect for human nature..

Friday, December 14, 2012

I regret the closure of the Oasis until next Friday.

Explanation, by mistake, at the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma. With my apologies.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Apostolic Palace Security update

This cannot be anything other than a report from personal experience, but I must comfess I was probably wrong that there may be  restrictions in play by now, other than the recently publiicised ones. It seems that postal traffic in and out of the Apostolic Palace maintains its former  smoothness and there is no interruption of the Christmas post. . Deo gratisas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Father Mark is 'on the mend'! Thank you for your prayers

I was vastly relieved last night to hear that Father is getting better under the care of two excellent Irish specialists and has actually managed to say Mass and his Office and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. Dom Benedict, the recently professed novice at Silversream, now has flu and is also confined to bed. Hilda, the Monastery dog, pays regular visits to each sick room.

I know you will thank God for Father's recovery and pray now for Dom Benedict, and others who are helping the small community to cope during this difficult time.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Increased security in the Apostolic Palace. Raymond Arroyo clears confusion (updated Monday evening)

Early last week Sandro Magister had a post on this subject and I alerted a friend to it. She could not find it. When I checked I found that he had taken it down with no explanation as to why. It had said that all officials working in the AP had been issued with an electronically chipped swipe card which from now on they must use to gain access to their offices. This means that the whereabouts of all officials can be checked at any time  and known to the Vatican 'authorities'. Also the log of any photocopying done by the workforce will be more strictly kept and nobody apart from Archbishop elect Ganswein will have free access to the Pope's study. Raymond Arroyo confirmed this on his EWTN progamme last night. (Thanks to my regular commenter Mary, for letting me know.)

Magister had said on his original post, that the new restrictions were part of the Vatican's reaction to the recent 'Vatileaks' scandal. One is left wondering why he took the post down and whether he was asked or told to do so by the Vatican itself. And one spent the week wondering whether it was true or not. At least, thanks to Arroyo, we now know that it was. But the secrecy at that point remains a mystery and unnecessarily so, as far as I can see. The Vatican has every right and duty to put measures in place that defend and increase the Holy Father's security, even at the expense of the private freedoms of those who work close to him. These measures, particularly the one concerning photocopying, will mean that everything will take longer and so communications will be unavoidably be affected. As for the 'officials' themselves and their private correspondents, I am sure they willingly accept these developments as the inevitable price they have to pay for the 'lunacy' of Gabriele's depredations, even though in some cases they do so with deep sadness. I did not see the Arroyo programme and so do not know whether he revealed other new restrictions. I have the feeling that these may exist, and will have the result of upsetting a finely balanced apple cart. Correspondence that used to go direct, and unimpeded to any given official could now be intercepted by the Secretariat of State, or by Archbishop elect Ganswein,  thus putting an end to the privacy, or even to the very existence of valuable spiritual exchange.

Anyone who has queued for  reserved Audience tickets, knows that the relevant area approaching the Apostolic Palace, beyond the staircase after the Bronze door,  is already  ultra secure. What it will be like in future, goodness alone  knows. .Perhaps a new distribution point will be introduced. When I was there in 2011, the Guard did not allow the Seminarian who was escorting me to assist me up and down those steep stone steps. I was walking with difficulty and with a stick and almost had to crawl up them. At the time I was aware of being in the hands of the Guard, on whose charity and mood I was totally dependent. It was an unpleasant experience, and it need not have been.

The security of our beloved Holy Father would have in no way been adversely affected by allowing me the assistance of that Seminarian.

As I say above, what is going to happen now?  .


Spiritual Mothers of Priests CR news 25: Mary Kaufmann has sent details of an online retreat for Spiritual Mothers

For details please see Mary's comment on my post about Spiritual Motherhood in Birmingham, England.
Thank you Mary, for your act of solidarity in letting me know about this.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is western society committing suicide? It would seem so

Artificial contraception
Abortion on demand    =  preventing the next generations and the birth of females

And now a French study, reported in yesterday's Daily Mail, tells us that male sperm count has been reduced by a third between the late 1980s and 2005. 26,000 men took part in the study.

More on this tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


 Introit for the Second Sunday in Advent

ALMA REDEMPTORIS MATER, G. P. Palestrina, Cappella Musicale Basilica di ...

Have a happy and holy Feast day everyone.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Prayer Request: For Father Mark Daniel Kirby O.S. B.

Please pray for Fr Mark who is in bed with a bronchially related infection and fever. As a result, he has had to cancel a retreat he was due to preach.

Dear Jesus, please heal your beloved priest and restore him to full health so that he may continue to do the work you ask of him among all your priests. Amen

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Somehow, manage to keep going.

My apologies for weak blogging over recent weeks. I've been unwell. The cause is not life-threatening, just the discomfort and inconvenience of ageing. However, I think I'm turning a corner in this particular phase and hope to be back to strength, in the next couple of days. Thank you for the much valued and essential sustenance of your prayers.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Avvento, Gregoriano, AD TE LEVAVI, Giovanni Vianini, Milano, It.

Anyone who was fortunate enough to have caught Fr Mark on EWTN this morning at 11.30 will understamd why I have posted this, the Introit from today's Mass. Father drew special attention to its words in the first of  'Advent Reflections', and will have determined to pray Psalm 24 every day during the coming season of hope, of light shining in the darkness.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A tweeting Pope Benedict at the expense of what?

Over recent weeks the standard of EWTN and Kto broadcasts has suffered.  How and why is this? I'm not sure what has caused it , but it is not at all satisfacrory. It seems to me that this has  nothing to do with EWTN or Kto, but everything to do with the standard of what is continually being put out to them by Vatican TV, whose synchronisation of sound is clearly up the creek. The result is that Kto sound runs so slowly that the only way they can cope is by cutting whole chunks of tape in order to catch up. The same is true of EWTN But being more sophisticated. they can do it more frequently during the length of a broadcast and not make the problem so glaringly obvious. EWTN pays through the nose for the Vatican programmes (per minute). I am certain that they will have complained about this situation. . I beg the Vatican to correct this problem and stop making the tweeting of Benedict a priority,. that is before  the Christmas Liturgies. I am on the point of writing to Fr Lombardi, having had tonight's Vespers ruined by the problem described above. My interpretation may be wrong, in which case my abject apologies.