Friday, May 29, 2009

Blogger proposes; God disposes

No more blogging for the forseeable future I'm afraid. Too many spiritual, domestic and bureaucratic (French medical system) demands on my time which must take priority. If anyone wants to contact me by email or by commenting here, I'll be most grateful and will reply. I'll keep up to date with everyone else's blogs, and may be constrained to the occasional comment, but that will be as much as I can manage.

LMS friends: I won't be able to come to London for the Westminster Cathedral Mass on June 20th. Colin will probably be home from hospital by then and I cannot possibly leave him. Please pray for us.

God bless our beloved Pope Benedict, and all here.


Friday, May 22, 2009

'Benedictine' Roses and a 'John Pauline' Clematis. Report from the Oasis Garden

Ever since the planting season began this year, work in the garden has been slow. March was slightly better than usual from the point of view of fewer high winds and no hail storms. It was however quite cool and there was frequent rain. The swallows arrived late but built their nests as doughtily as ever, not this year, as has formerly been their wont, under out eaves. It was a relief not to have to discourage them. Perhaps they sensed it wasn't safe, and if so, they were right, as we had the front of the house painted towards the end of the month. Before that, the Holy Father went in the direction from which they had come and we had to follow him via kto and/or EWTN. Then, it was Easter before one could turn round, and more wonderful liturgies from Rome not to be missed.

I managed to get some potatoes in before May arrived and then the incessant rain began. Until two days ago, it has been the worst May in my memory of twenty years in this area. Gardening was impossible and so my wonderful plan for getting a great deal done during the week before the Holy Father set off for Jordan came to nothing. Then of course, a few hours before his plane left for Amman, my husband broke his leg............ The following week of shock and fear was taken up with anxious visits to the hospital alternating with the tension of viewing the albeit excellent TV coverage of 'The Pilgrim of Peace'. The rain continued and so at least I didn't have to feel guilty about not gardening!

During the first three weeks of the month, in frequent visits to the garden afforded by the short spells between rain storms, I noted that, as expected, the weeds were coming up with a vengeance. But I noted other things that I greeted with joy. I'm going to tell you about some of these because they demonstrate several things....first, what Cardinal Newman called 'God's little providences', second that gardening reflects the spiritual life in many ways, as I have tried to show in all my published books, (particularly in the Introduction to the first) but third, in recent weeks, I have come to a deepening awareness of things I've always known about gardening in its relation to the life of contemplative prayer and its results in action.

Last year by accident (?), I found in the supermarket plant sale, a clematis named for Pope John Paul II. Until then I had not been aware that such a clematis existed. Naturally, it came home with me and was planted in the Advent section of the garden against the eastern fence. We had terrible frosts during the winter and I thought it was dead. Not so. I discovered at Easter that it was very much alive and much more robust than it had been last year. It had begun to climb and was in bud. The flower opened whilst Pope Benedict was in the Holy Land, I cannot give the exact day, but I know that by the time our present Holy Father returned to the Vatican on May 15, that flower was fully open and is the size of a small saucer in diameter. It is white with purple stamens. Superfluous to labour the symbolism here. But perhaps not so, to admit that I wept by the eastern fence and thanked Pope John Paul, who I believe, interceded continually for his successor in circumstances much more difficult and complex that those he faced during his own visit to the Holy Land in 2000. It wasn't necessary for me to ask him to continue this intercession, only essential that I unite myself with it, which I did.

I think it is in the film 'The Pontificate of Reason' that Pope Benedict says to an interviewer very shortly after his election, that he feels 'the Holy Father' very close to him and that they still talk to each other. (At that stage Joseph Ratzinger had not properly realised that HE was now the Holy Father! But as they say, that is another story.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009 launched today.

Link to Pope Benedict's Facebook profile etc. in alphabetical bloglist here to left sidebar- sandwiched between 'Orthfully Catholic' and 'Pro Pontifice Maximo' which is fortuitously appropriate!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carla Bruni: The first 'lady' of France (je ne crois pas!) blames her loss of faith on the Church's teaching on sexual morality.

The Daily Telegraph insinutates in its headline that Bruni has blamed Pope Benedict personally for her lapsation from Catholicism. I fail to see how that can be true since for many years she has been self-confessedly leading a life opposed to the Church's sexual mores.

Some quotes from her:

"I'm monogamous from time to time, but I prefer polygamy and polyandry." Time Magazine, 31st December, 2007.
She has said she is easily "bored with monogamy". and that "love lasts a long time, but burning desire - two to three weeks." BBC News, 15th January, 2008
"I want a man with nuclear power." Times Online, 10th February, 2008.

Leaving aside Bruni's statements about her attitudes to relationships between men and women, which are clearly not in keeping with Catholic orthodoxy, several issues arise from her decision to speak against the Church at this moment.

First, though not the most important, is diplomatic behaviour according to protocol. Danielle Mitterand, a non-believer, but one who had enough to put up with in the marital infidelity stakes, has roundly rebutted Bruni's recent public statements which seem to show no concern whatsoever that they may damage the diplomacy and statesmanship of her husband, whatever one thinks of either of those. It's just not 'comme il faut ma biche'. (Biche, incidentally, is not an insult, but literally a nanny-goat, and a term of affection between female friends.) The French, whether they admit it or not, will be embarrassed by this 'intervention' of their President's wife. (In fact the marriage of Sarkozy to Bruni is, in spite of all stereotypes about French sexuality, an embarrassment to them. It's not mentioned, swept under the carpet in general conversation, almost as if he let the side down. Why did he have to marry her? Why could he not have kept her as a mistress, as has always been done in the past?

The French lay great store by their language being that of diplomacy, and it is still so in the Vatican. Some poor soul will have to tell the Pope! But being Benedict, he will already know and make it easy for the poor blighter.

Second, this Bruni nonsense has allowed the Telegraph to perpetuate another untruth about the attitude of French Catholics to the Pope after the condom uproar. As i pointed out in a post at the time, the supposed 43% of Catholics who thought the Pope should resign, were actually non-practising. Amongst practising French Catholics, his stock rose by 11% as a result. (I am sick of ignorance combined with deliberate manipulation, particularly in a paper that I've read all my adult life, but for which I now refuse to pay 3 euros merely to be infuriated. Thanks but no thanks, not even for my beloved crossword.)

Third, why has Bruni decided to make these statements now? Benedict is by no means without his supporters on the condom issue, and while keeping it in mind, seekers after peace and reason have all moved on, and are now considering the impact of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Clearly, she has been asleep. Either that, or she is deliberately trying to discredit the Holy Father and divert attention from his most recent acts and words. Whichever way it is, the woman's arrogance beggars belief.

The British Daily Telegraph shows its abysmal paucity of intellect, of any real concern for the peoples of the Middle East, or of respect for the complex political and religious issues that Pope Benedict genuinely and most courageously addressed for years before this visit and most certainly during it. Underneath all this is the paper's assumption that where politicians have failed, a religious leader, least of all the Pope, cannot possibly succeed. So, rather than offer a seriously considered evaluation of the Papal visit, they are content to repeat the unhelpful and irrelevant dribblings of Carla Bruni. Pathetic.

That's enough for tonight. More tomorrow, but in the meantime, I hope someone will be able to tell me, with proof, that I'm wrong about the Telegraph.

God bless all here, and God bless and preserve our Holy Father Benedict.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

EWTN: Live coverage from Westminster

The Installation of Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Westminster will be covered live by EWTN on May 21st Ascension Day.

They will also cover the Papal Masses from Monte Cassino on Sunday 24th and from Rome on Corpus Christi THURSDAY.

Kto will cover the Vespers from Monte Cassino as well as the Mass. They are sticking to Notre Dame for Ascension Day which is rather unimaginative since apart from European Catholic concerns of solidarity, the French musical world stands in admiration of English Cathedral music and there will be Palestrina and new pieces by MacMillan.

No complaints though.

Holy Father back home; husband in 'maison de repos': Deo gratias!

I have to admit that even before my husband's accident, neither of us was looking forward to the week just past. Both of us were very anxious for the Holy Father's safety, wondered what he would achieve by this journey to the Holy Land, and quite frankly wished that he was not going to undertake this 'marathon'.

As it turned out, worry for my husband's survival and the shock of his being taken to hospital just a few hours before the Holy Father set off from Rome, was paramount whilst His Holiness was in Jordan. The minute Colin was out of danger, off went Pope Benedict to Israel and the balance of anxiety shifted. (In spite of everything I 've managed to see everything via kto or EWTN and will comment later on details.)

Next came the Yad Vashem visit and discourse, after which I came from the computer muttering, "That won't be enough for them. They'll be at you." And sure enough, they were. Like many others, I feared that this one occasion would dictate the measure of success or failure of the beloved 'Pilgrim Of Peace'.

On Thursday I was told that the next day, Colin would be moved to a convalescent hospital nearer home and will remain there for about a month. And so it transpired that whilst our Holy Father was giving his farewell address at Tel Aviv airport, Colin was in the ambulance going to the new hospital and was ensconced there just as the Papal plane took off for Rome.

Colin has a pin in his thigh and will have to learn to walk again. He will have to live downstairs and I'm having to reorganise the whole ground floor of the house to accommodate this, including putting a shower, basin and loo in the room which up to now has been my study. All that represents something of a military campaign, I can tell you! Thank God, I'm trained in the principles of work study and time and motion! And that I will have help when it comes to moving heavy furniture.

Yesterday was a day of great relief for me all round. When Colin is well enough I will tease him about organising his accident to distract us from our worries about the Pope.

And his Holiness?....... It strikes me that only the deeply mean-spirited and intransigent naysayer will see his 859 words of farewell to the Holy Land, as anything other than a triumph for the things he holds so dear in all his efforts and prayers. My double novena for his safety and intention for his pilgrimage ended yesterday. Tonight, I start a new one of thanksgiving which will end whilst he is at Monte Cassino next Sunday. kto are broadcasting his Mass and also Vespers later in the day. Have not checked EWTN but imagine they will cover one or the other if not both.

On a personal level I want to say a wholehearted and huge thank you to all our friends who have been supporting us with prayer and concern via this blog, emails, Facebook messages, cards and telephone calls. Here in France two sets of friends have been unstinting in their care and have been ferrying me to and from the hospital whenever necessary. You have all been such a wonderful help and support. And in the darkest hours of lonliness and fear, I have been able to offer up all that has been happening and place everything in the hands of Our Lord and His dear Mother and ours.

God bless all here, and may He sustain our Pope, give him life and make him blessed upon the earth'.

Welcome home dear Papa Benedetto! Ad multos annos!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hospitalised spouse: heartfelt thanks to friends, in previous post combox

...together with brief explanation as to how it happened.

God bless all and thanks again,

Friday, May 8, 2009

Husband in hospital: no blogging for at least two days

My husband Colin is in Girac (Angouleme) hospital with badly fractured femur; taken there by emergency services (the SAMU - excellent as always) at 3am this morning; operation tomorrow; of your charity PLEASE PRAY FOR HIM.

Mane nobiscum, Domine. Salus infirmorum, ora pro nobis.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

For our Holy Father Benedict: Lilies and wild Bavarian Strawberries - Pt. 1.

To our gentle and sweet earthly shepherd, on the eve of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I dedicate with prayer and love, the following extracts from my book 'The Crown of the Year'. (Continuum 2005)


Day lilies are not true lilies, their common name coming from their lily-like flowers....'Gentle Shepherd' has creamy yellow flowers with darker yellow centres and slightly crinkly leaves..........."

(Note added today: This year, to achieve the obvious symbolism of yellow and white, I have planted Lily of the Valley round my clump of 'Gentle Shepherd'. Every May for years to come they will be a memorial of this visit of our dear Pope Benedict to the Holy Land.)

"Dean Hole once asked a boy what a garden is for. 'Strawberris!' the boy replied without hesitation............But where space is at a premium, grow strawberries in traditional pots with spirally arranged holes around the sides. Except for the necessity of frequent wqtering, this is a labour-saving method. Fruit is out of reach of slugs, mulching and hoeing are unnececarry and a net draped over the pot will protect your fruit...........

"History and Lore
.....The strawberry is ancient and findings in Swiss pile-dwellings have shown that its popularity dates back to the Stone Age. Later it was dedicated to the German Goddess Frigg, guardian of marriage and motherhood. In Christian lore it thus became an attribute of the Virgin Mary... and a tradition is recorded that St. John the Baptist ate wild strawberries in the wolderness. If Bavarian children were picking strawberries and passed a cross or chapel, they would make an offering of three fruits...................."

(There is much more German and east European lore in this entry of my book, but you can be sure, if I ever meet the Holy Father, which I'm afraid is highly unlikely,I'll be bound to ask him whether he, Georg and Maria ever offered their three strawberries in accordance with this tradition. On a practical note he may or may not know that strawberry tea makes a good gargle for a sore throat. In other words dear Holy Father, cut out the Fanta and go for the 'Fragaria'!)

'Towards a Meditation' on these plants and the apppropriate Liturgical days, to follow.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jesuits in Italy have caught up with Thoughts from an Oasis! Goodness gracious me!

'Jesuit journal says secular media excessively critical of Pope, Church' CNS today has a report thus titled.

On April 21st I published a post here, about the Media persecution of the Pope and the agenda behind it. Nine days later and co-incidentally, Civilta, the Jesuit journal published an article which says virtually the same as I had done, although, as far as one can ascertain from the CNS, Civilta does not admit that much of the mischief done by the Media is fed to them from within the Church, and has been for decades. I would be happier if such an admission by the 'Jays' does appear in their assessment of Media treatment of the Holy Father and the Church. But then, such an admission would be tantamount to accusing some of 'their own' would it not? But unless Civilta is prepared to acknowledge this fault line in the Church, it may as well save its breath to cool its polenta.

One cannot just blame the Media or secularism or 'the world' per se. One has to be realistic and honest and not tell half the story. One does not need to be a Jesuit, or any ordained priest to understand this. One only has to have been alive, constantly Catholic and awake for the last forty years (thank God in innumerable cases, less than that), and to listen to our present Holy Father about what is wrong.

What did he say yesterday in his homily before ordaining 19 new priests for the Rome Diocese:

The 'world' is not a place, it's a mentality......It does not want to know God...... That would throw it into crisis....... It infects the Church and EVEN ITS SACRED MINISTERS.......... (He said much more of course but all was the THE TRUTH and he will speak it in season and out. Didn't he once say as Cardinal Ratzinger, 'I have a mustard seed, and I am not afraid to use it.') He knows where that infection is. And he has warned us. I don't think he'd be particularly impressed by anyone who apparently wants to defend him or the Church without facing and owning up to the full reality.

I apologise profusely to Civilta if in fact its article does face up in the way I am convinced is necessary.

In Christo pro Papa

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pope Benedict: Ordination of Deacons tomorrow (46th W.D.P. for Vocations)

The Ordination Mass in St. Peter's Basilica will be broadcast live by EWTN. At the last check kto would not appear to be covering it. However if you tune in to EWTN by 08.30 BST you shouldn't miss anything.

In advance of the opening of the Sacerdotal year, I'm looking forward to our Holy Father's homily.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Pope's visit to Israel: the most deeply buried 'mine'

This is the mine which is constantly dug up and agitated in the hope that it will finally explode in the face of Benedict XVI and destroy him. The very same people who indulge in this agitation, at the same time wish to manipulate his visit for their own political ends, because in spite of themselves they admit he has some sort of holy and/or political clout, but at the same time insist on perpetuating the suspicion of Nazism because of his admittedly involuntary and extremely brief membership of Hitler Youth.

The other thing these people do is to constantly compare Pope Benedict with his predecessor in unfavourable and outdated terms. Says Israeli 'political scientist' Shlomo Avineri, "John Paul's warmth will be compared to the theological coldness of Benedict." (What would a political scientist know about theological warmth or coldness anyway?!) In any case where has this man been for the last four years, not to mention decades? What has he been reading or watching on his television? It is a good maxim: he who informs should be informed. This man ain't informed. Unfortunately he is given air time and print space but fortunately this JTA article allows Benedict to prove Shlomo absolutely wrong by quoting his stated intention in this visit. On April 12 Pope Benedict said he would "emphatically" bring a message of "justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love....Reconciliation - difficult but indispensable - is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli Palestinisn conflict."

If that's cold theology, I'll be happy to freeze in it with my Holy Father.

Pope's visit to Israel fraught with potential minefields: Ruth Ellen Gruber JTA - Jewish & Israel News 30th April 2009

You can, and I believe should, read this article, by following link at top of sidebar here. I will leave it in place until May 15th, the scheduled date of our Holy Father's return to the Vatican.

Later this evening, I intend to post comments on some of the matters it addresses, but will allow time for my regular readers to apprise themselves of its content.

Suffice to say here that the remote chance of the Holy Father contracting swine flu, is the least of his (and our) worries.

Pope Benedict XVI ('The Glory of the Olives'), to plant "roots of peace" in Beit Hanassi

This story comes from yesterday's Jerusalem Post. Together with President Shimon Peres, our Holy Father will plant an olive tree 'in a stretch of ground that has been designatedas as a peace garden'.

In future, all world leaders visiting the garden will be asked to do likewise. so that 'world peace will symbolically take root.'

In Malachy's prophecies, Benedict XVI is assumed to be the penultimate Pope with the motto 'Glory of the Olives'. There is some poignancy in the fact that if world leaders do comply with the tree planting request, there will eventually be a grove of olives, thus fulfilling the prophecy down to the last pluralising letter of the motto. Whether one takes Malachy's prophecies seriously or not, such a grove would be a fitting memorial to Our Holy Father. May he gloriously reign for many years yet!

Archbishop Nichols elected 'unanimously' at Leeds Plenary meeting

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales yesterday elected Archbishop Nichols as its President. If as stated in the Zenit report, the decision was 'unanimous' then it is a cause for great relief. Not so welcome in some quarters may be the allocation of other responsibilities, e.g. Christian Responsibility and Citizenship; Evangelisation and Catechesis; and International affairs.

See Zenit for full report and Archbishop Nichols' response to his election.