Sunday, January 31, 2010

SSPX group attacks FSSP chapel in Mexico; White dove of peace refuses to leave Pope Benedict's presence

For more details of the first story see: and

WDTPRS is Fr Z's blog and extremely well known.
The first link above leads to the site of the Transalpine Redemptorists who live at Papa Stronsay in the Isles of Orkney. They may not be so well known but they run this beautiful blog frpm there, variously describing their community life , through words and striking photography, and offering wise and gentle spiritual counsel to commenters when the need arises. They are a group who returned to full Communion with Rome some time ago, having previously been connected with the SSPX. At least I believe that detail is correct. In any case they do follow anything that has to do with other groups of Traditional priests in full Communion, and also the SSPX which of course is still outside it.

This Mexican news is distressing, and if the accounts given here are correct, the behaviour of the SSPX group is to be deplored. I'm sure we will all pray that the matter may be amicably resolved and that it won't have any adverse effect on the talks going on in Rome between the Holy See and the SSPX. (I'll probably have more to say about the incident later in the week when I finally get round to Bishop Williamson's recent interview with an extreme right wing French politician.)

Now for the pacific and touching evidence of the behaviour of that dove.
Every year on the last Sunday of January, with the assistance of two adolescents who join him at his window for the Angelus, the Holy Father releases two doves into the skies above the Vatican.
Today, the second dove flew off and quickly disappeared. The first one however was evidently reluctant to leave Pope Benedict's presence and returned immediately to perch on his window sill. The Holy Father and the young people had noticed the bird was still there and instead of disappearing from view, turned their backs and appeared to be talking to someone in the room beyond. I wondered whether they were discussing whether or not they should recapture the dove for later release in a less daunting environment, a quiet corner of the Vatican gardens perhaps. The kto coverage ended at this point so I don't know whether recapture was attempted. Anyway the incident sweetened the sour taste left by the first story in this post.

Off now to report news of interest to the Spiritual Mothers of Priests on my other blog. After that I'll complete preparation of a little Candlemas surprise which will be posted here tomorrow on the eve of the feast.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Annulment of Marriage: Seeking your opinion

Over the past week an alarming number of subjects has built up, and with which I had hoped to deal. I made a short list off the top of my head just now and hope that the coming days will afford the time to deal with the following issues at least: the strategies of Bishop Williamson; the false Twitter and Rome's reaction to the discovery of its existence/ the Pope and the digital planet; an assessment of the role and efficacy of kto tv in France; and of course the thorny old issue of Media slant.

For tonight, I simply want to ask your advice in connection with Annulment of Marriage. Last night I posted the news that the Pope had discussed this with the Roman Rota during Friday morning's Audiences. It now appears that both myself and one of my commenters have experienced the process of Annulment (see combox on that post).. Regardless of the details of our cases, or whether we were granted an Annulment or not, the term 'easy' is entirely inappropriate. Spiritually and emotionally, if you are a faithful Catholic, it is the most harrowing and painful experience, although in my own case I have to say that my advocate at the English Tribunal of Westminster did his utmost to reduce the inevitable trauma as far as he possibly could.

Now, my question is this. Many people go into the Annulment process with little, or as in my case, no pastoral preparation as to what they will experience. Things may have changed during the past 20 years, but would it perhaps help others if I described my own experience and at least answered the basic questions about cost, the length of time it takes, and how matters are conducted? Certainly, I wish someone knowledgeable at parish level, had taken me on one side and explained a few things before the process started. I am happy to do this, or if anyone prefers to email me about it, to share my own knowledge with them through that medium. This is not a facile offer, but as a qualified Counsellor, I am trained not to let my own past traumas impede in exhanges with those I seek to help.

I will of course be praying about the way forward in this matter, and also appeal for the guidance and opinion of my friends in this Oasis.

God bless,
email address

Warning to Blog authors and commenters: Comments written in Chinese characters

I've just received another one of these this morning, the fourth one I've had. It may be genuine because it also contains a complimentary phrase in English. However, I did not publish the others and won't be publishing this one. The reason is as follows:

On receipt of the first such comment, I didn't publish it simply because I could not understand it and it made me suspicious. Then a few weeks ago Fr Mildew did publish one of these Chinese comments. One of his commenters investigated the content via one of the internet translation sites and found it to be an advert for a pornography site. Of course Father removed it straight away.

So, if you're a blog owner, it's safer not to publish comments in Chinese, even if , as in my most recent case, there is a pleasant English remark, which could be just a ruse to get you to publsih.. My advice is, unless you know what the Chinese is saying, DON'T PUBLISH

If you're a genuine commenter who understands and writes Chinese, don't include any Chinese characters when commenting on English blogs. I for one will not publish you if you do.

I don't know how widespread this problem is, but thought it worth posting about. We don't want a situation in which it's known in China, that pornographic adverts can be found on our English speaking Catholic blogs.

There won't be time to post again until this evening. Will do my best then to get back to normal after the dubious excitements of the past few days!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Easy Annulments major topic at today's Audience with Roman Rota

I found this news tonight at My VIS email did not come through this pm or I'd have been able to publish this sooner. You can probably find the Summary report at the Holy See's site - under Benedect XVI Audiences. It seems Pope Benedict, like John Paul II is concerned that too many easy annulments are being granted, particularly by Tribunals in the USA. I know this because in the early 80s, English Annulment cases had to go before the Westminster and Birmingham Tribunals and we were told that this was because of the Pope's worries about the USA. This delayed our results by six months.

I'll try to put up more links tomorrow but my pc system is playing havoc at the moment.
Goodnight, and God bless all here.

ps. I wonder if they discussed the case of Susanna Maiolo.

English/Welsh ad limina: only three bishops in private audience today

1. +Arthur Roche of Leeds
2. +Drainey of Middlesbrough
3. +Brain of Salford

They were followed by
4. +Stankiewitz of the tribunal of the Roman Rota
5 College of Prelates of said Roman Rota

Buckfast Wine and Monks' toe nails

There is a long list of things I ought to be posting about but feel the need to 'lighten up' a little.

My friend 'Pelerin' has reminded me that Buckfast wine was in the news recently as being a favourite tipple of 'yobs' north of the border. Apparently someone complained that there were 'bits' in it, and elsewhere it is suggested that these bits are monks' toenails, left in the winepress after weary hours of monastic grape treading.

All I can say is that the Buckfast quality control must have slipped since I lived in Devon about 15 miles from the Abbey. There were no bits in it that I recall. In those days (1970s) I was teaching in Newton Abbot and used to keep a bottle of the concoction in my staff room locker against the occasional times when things got too much and I needed medicinal fortification. A dear colleague of mine (on the same staff) reads this blog. I hope it amuses him to remember those far off days when we were young enough to recover quickly from the daily rigours of the 'chalk face', with or without the assistance of Buckfast tonic wine.

Don't worry, a bottle lasted me ages and it can't be more than 30/40% proof. I never drank it at home. Benedictine/Chartreuse it certainly isn't, the flavour being marginally less repulsive than other proprietary tonics. As to the bouquet, if I was conscious enough to notice it, then I knew I was not distressed enough to need it.

As for the yobs, on the eve of his feast: Saint John Bosco, pray for them.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vatican Radio: Abbot Power; Bishop McMahon; Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate

None of these items will tell you why our Bishops were not present at the Vespers, but the interview with Abbot Power of the Benedictine Community at St Paul Outside-the-Walls, makes one wonder even more about their absence. All the items are dated Monday January 25

Abbot Power refers to the said Vespers as the 'culminating event of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity'. He refers to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul as a 'great celebration' and to St. Paul as 'the most important ecumenical figure in the history of the Church'. He explains this by using the symbolism of the presence of St Paul's basilica 'outside-the-Walls'. St. Peter, he says, had to be persuaded by St. Paul that the Gospel of Christ is for all men, not just the Jews. Paul knew this from the beginning and went 'outside-the-walls' as a result. Father Abbot was refreshingly honest in answer to the question as to why this great ecumenical service always took place at Vespers and not at 'the Eucharist'. He said that whilst there are still disagreements about the meaning of the Eucharist, between the different denominations, it is not possible for the Church to share that Eucharist. But what we can share, is prayer.
This interview was timed at 4,43pm, that is before the celebration of the Vespers.

Another item reports the event up until the end of the Holy Father's Homily. This is timed at 6.51pm, that is when the Celebration was almost over. It states that when he arrived at St. Paul's, he was greeted by Rowan Williams' representative in Rome.and by the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarhate's representative to Italy, Metropolitan Gennadios. Maybe the second lesson was read by him perhaps I imisnformed you in an earlier post. My apologies in that case.

The contribution of Bishop McMahon about the ad limina, is timed 6.55pm. It is not an interview and sounds rather like a pre-recorded message. Why, of all our bishops, he was chosen, I've no idea. If he is spokesperson for our Conference of bishops, why did he speak only about his own diocese of Nottingham. This seemed a very narrow and restricted remit for such an important subject and on such an important day. There was no mention of St Paul, or the Vespers as I recall. The other two items highlighted their importance.

If any of us had been in Rome, would we have stayed away? No, I think we would have gone there expecting to see all our prelates in full assembly. After all. they in Rome to represent the state of their flocks to the Pope.

They are thought to have been invited. One cannot seriously imagine the Holy Father asking them to stay away. I cannot see other ecumenical meetings going on at the same time as more important than a public show of solidarity with our Pope. The Liturgy comes first, and an invitation to a Papal Liturgy surely should be at the top of anyone's priority list, bishop or not. Illness is the only excuse, and I sincerely hope they have not caught some dreadful 'bug'.

It's highly unlikely that we will be given an explanation as to why our bishops were not present. For this reason it is also highly unlikely that I'll post again on the topic. (btw, the English experts at Vatican Radio, can't spell 'receive'!)

A happy St. Thomas Aquinas day to everyone.

E & W ad limina: Private audiences today

++Kelly of Liverpool; + Regan of Wrexham; +Rawsthorne of Hallam (Sheffield more or less);
+ Cunningham of Hexham and Newcastle; + Campbell of Lancaster.

Report later on Vatican Radio's recent offerings on the end of the week for Christian Unity, the importance of St Paul and the Vespers of Monday evening, and Bishop of Nottingham on the ad limina. Must have some lunch.

Sandy, as well as being an s.o.s., I'm also according to another Holy Smoker 'a fierce old trout'.
It's rather funny really.

Bollettino: Interim non-news

12.30 French/Italian time. Nothing there yet.
One could be forgiven for beginning to wonder just what has happened to our Conference of Bishops!

When the gates of Auschwitz were opened

Yesterday was the sixtieth anniversay of this event. The Holy Father spoke of it at the end of yesterday's General Audience. If you haven't already watched it, the video clip is at Vatican's Channel, link towards end of bloglist in sidebar here. For once, the commentary is a translation of the Pope's words, and not a resume.

'Sour old snapper' gets over 500 pageloads in one day. "It's a mad world, my masters."

According to one 'cumanus' on Holy Smoke I 'come across as a sour old snapper'. And then 'JohnHenry' chimes in and says perhaps it should be monkfish. I suppose the latter knows that monkfish are so ugly that their heads are cut off by the fishmonger before they are placed on the slab. I've examined my comments on Holy Smoke and really can find no justification for cumanus' claim that I am sour, or old or a snapper. Well yes, I'm fairly old, but I don't think he knows that.

I'm grateful to Damian for advertising this blog. And I accept the above insults although I think they are totally unjustified. However, there are some nice people there, for instance Mystic Mouse. When most of the commenters on Holy Smoke began to make light of the issue of our bishops' absence from the ecumenical Vespers, I thought Damian should close the thread. Instead I made the mistake of commenting about the lack of seriousness displayed in his combox. And boy, have I suffered for it.. Just because there is no news, it should not mean that the matter cannot be debated as to why our bishops were absent. Never mind, maybe a few of the 500+ pageload people today, will stick with me, because I tell you, it will be a long time before I am tempted out of the Oasis again!

btw on Holy Smoke I'm 'Donanobispacem'

God bless all here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

General Audience day in Rome: No ad limina news

Perhaps tomorrow. Will follow the Bollettino which usually comes up after 11am, and then the VIS email at 3pm-ish . (Both Italian/French times)

The audience was wonderful - on St Francis of Assisi.
Have a new student coming for prelim. visit this pm. May post this evening, but if not tomorrow, as indicated above, DV.

Thank you for your readership and comments which are much appreciated.

Vatican DVD "Year for Priests"

For full details of content and how to order, please see Spiritual Mothers of Priests blog. Link in sidebar left. Excellent value at 9.90 euros (which you can pay by credit card). Available in Italian and Spanish as well as English. I'll be ordering a copy as a souvenir of the year, and a couple of extra copies as gifts!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The conundrum of last night's Papal Vespers and the 'absence' of English/Welsh bishops

A few facts:

1. I watched the whole celebration of last evening's Vespers live on kto tv, and aside from being exasperatedly amused that the French commentator referred to Dr Rowan Williams as Mgr. Williams, was dismayed that not one of our English/Welsh bishops appeared to be there, not even Archbishop Nichols, unless he and they were hiding behind pillars for reasons one dreads to contemplate.

2. Fr Blake stated on his 'Saint Mary Magdalen' blog, that he understood that all the members of the English and Welsh Conference, present in Rome for the current ad limina visit, had been invited to attend.

3. I've so far been unable to verify, a) whether they were there or not and b) that Father's understanding is justified. As to a) visual evidence tells me they were not there. As to b) it is impossible to know.

4. To orthodox catholics this was an important ecumenical occasion at the Holy Father's behest, and if the E & W bishops failed to turn up, then I am deeply depressed, distressed and disappointed in them, not the least because of the bad manners they thus displayed towards the Holy Father, but also because I had longed with all my heart and soul to see my compatriot pastors surrounding Pope Benedict and giving a show of solidarity. I pray that tomorrow I'll wake up to find that my disappontment in this has all been a bad dream.

5. I said earlier that I'd read that Rowan Williams was going to be there. He most definitely was not. And yet he was the only English/Welsh person mentioned in the commentary. His representative from the Anglican Centre in Rome read one lesson, whilst for the Orthodox, the Maltese Patriarch read another.

I will wait in the hope of gleaning more before writing further. My husband says that if they absented themselves, they intended a deliberate snub to the Holy Father and that perhaps they still don't realise that the rest of us, via the internet, may come to realise this.. Is it the case that there are now two ecumenisms, the Pope's and theirs, and that whereas he has made it clear in words and action that he continues to suppport theirs, they are not prepared to do the same in regard to his?

I pray it is not so. I want to be told something that will make us both eat our words in public via this blog.

Lord have mercy on our Pope, on our bishops, and on us all.

English/Welsh ad limina: No private papal audiences today.

Not according to Vatican Info. Services email received a few minutes ago (2.45pm Italian time).
Nothing anywhere else about the apparent absence of the E & W Conference from Papal Vespers last night. Thanks to a tip from Pelerin, I read 'Holy Smoke' earlier in the day than usual. DT's latest post is indeed about said Conference, but he does not mention the matter of last night's Vespers. Surely he must have overlooked it because I'm sure he would have found it significant enough to include in his account. More later, and if not about this, then about other matters mentioned in previous posts.

Archbishop Nichols on Vatican Radio; Fr Blake understands bishops all invited to Vespers

Zenit has full text of the interview. See here
Thanks to Fr. Blake for his understanding (posted on his Saint Mary Magdalen blog) about the bishops having been invited. Father's post was not there when I last posted on the subject at 8.42pm last night, nor when I went to bed about 10-pm UK time. Had it been, it would have served only to increase my misgivings, as it most certainly does this morning!

If our prelates were invited and chose not to attend the Vespers yesterday evening, then at the very least they are guilty of extremely bad manners. Their lack of high profile attendance sends all the wrong messages about Unity, within the Church, let alone outside it.

If anyone knows that they WERE there, please comment to that effect and I will retract and apologise for my remarks. I will continue to follow whatever can be gleaned about the ad limina, and let you know.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vatican Twitter is NOT Vatican Twitter

Neither Father Lombardi, nor anyone at the Vatican to whom Fr Z spoke today knew anything about it, or who was behind it. Don't touch it.
For further details see Fr Z on his blog 'What does the Prayer really say'.

This evening's Vespers: No English/ Welsh bishops, no Rowan Williams?

If anybody else watched the Papal Vespers, can you comment and say whether you spotted anyone. I'm sure I read somewhere that Rowan Williams was going to be there. As it was his Roman representative read the lesson. I should have thought that if Archbishop Nichols had been there the camera would have lighted on him at least once. Nothing that I saw. Or do ad limina bishops go into retreat whilst in Rome? Education, someone please?!

In the meantime, please remember last night's Litany.

Received by the Pope today in separate private audiences:

For the record:

1. Archbishop Nichols with his Auxiliaries Mgrs Stack, Hopes and Arnold

2. Bishop Lang of Clifton

3. Bishop Noble of Shrewbury with his Co-Adjutor Mgr Davies

4. Archboshop Smith of Cardiff

5. Bishop Burns of Menevia

I'll be looking out for some familiar faces at Papal Vespers tonight, to be broadcast on kto at 4.30pm UK time. Apparently Dr Rowan Williams will be present.

Archbishop-elect Leonard: 'Salt & Light TV interview

There's a sidebar link here to 'Salt and Light TV' but it's probably quicker to go to the kto programmes page and click on video to the left. The interview, conducted by Fr Rosica, is in French. It is worth watching even if you don't understand what is being said. The personality of the Archbishop-elect simply bursts through the language barrier. It is an extremely warm and good-humoured interview, both parties being totally at ease, and it completely reverses the impression one may have formed via other media, that Bishop Leonard is simply a rigidly formal ritualist and nothing else. He emerges as one with a great love for the Word and evangelisation, for the Eucharist, for our Immaculate Mother, and for the Church. Like Pope Benedict, he too, first thought of the call to priesthood in early childhood. Unlike the Holy Father, he did not have the strong guidance of his father, who died during WWII before he was born. He pays tribute to his mother, a woman of simple faith, who brought him up 'normally' as a Catholic. He also speaks at some length of his relationships with Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and tells us that he preached the Vatican Lenten spiritual exercises in the Jubilee Year before Pope John Paul. He shares how he felt on hearing the news of Pope John Paul's death, and his joy at the election of Benedict.

It is said that the Vatican has two primary questions about any bishop who is being put forward for higher status within the Church. One, is he loved by his priests and two how many seminarians are in his seminary. Well, in the case of Bishop Leonard I don't know the answer to the first question, but I learn from another source that of a total of 35 training for the priesthood in the whole of Belgium, 17 come from the diocese of Namur, which he is about to leave for Malines Brussels. This probably answers the first as well as the second question. I also read, or perhaps it is in this interview, that he stresses the importance of regular visitations to all the parishes of his diocese, and that he is assiduous about this. If only all bishops to whom this presents no difficulty, would take this leaf from his book.

May God bless Archbishop Leonard and strengthen him in the hard work that lies ahead of him. He is 75 but looks strong and healthy. Ad multos annos!

Next post should be a reminder about the new invocation for the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. I still intend to write to the Holy Father about this, but the letter has been delayed by other matters, both on and off blog. Bishop Williamson after that, Linguistics of Journalism after that, and after that, and after that..................!?

Conversion of St Paul

(image: Brooklyn Museum)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Eve of the English Welsh ad limina: Prayer before Punditry:

I composed this Litany just after the Holy Father appointed. Archbishop Nichols to Westminster and mistakenly thought I'd posted it in February last year. It is highly appropriate for the eve of the Ad limina and is published here with slight adjustments and additions. I invite you all to pray it with me tonight and throughout the coming week.


Lord have mercy
Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy
Christ have mercy

Holy Spirit have mercy
Holy Spirit have mercy

Prayer for the Pope
Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy on your servant Benedict, our Pope. Guide him in your wisdom, and lead him in your goodness on the way of eternal salvation, so that, with the promptings of your grace, he may desire what pleases you and accomplish it with all his strength. Grant him health, fortitude and courage, and protect him from his enemies and from all dangers. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord Amen.

Mary Mother of the Church, pray for him..
Mother of Good Counsel, pray for him.
Virgin most Prudent, pray for him.
Seat of Wisdom, pray for him.

St. Joseph, pray for him.
St. Peter, pray for him.
St Benedict, pray for him.
St. Corbianus of Friesing, pray for him.
Pope John Paul II, servant of God, pray for him.

Prayer for England and Wales:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon Wales, upon England thy dowry , and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and hope was given unto the world and He has given thee to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thour didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Itercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief 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

Immaculate Mother of God, Mediatrix of all graces, pray for our Pope and our bishops.

Queen of Apostles, pray for them

Mother and Queen of Clergy, pray for them

Mother of Perpetual help, pray for them

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for them

Queen of Confessors, pray for them

Queen of Martyrs, pray for them

Queen of Peace, pray for them

Our Lady of Good Hope, pray for them

Our Lady of Trust, pray for them


Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for them; Our Lady of Cardigan, pray for them

St David, Patron of Wales; St George, Patron of England, pray for them

St Alban, protomartyr of England, pray for them; SS Julian and Aaron martyrs of Caerleon, pray for them

SS Hilda of Whitby and Bede the Venerable, pray for them;

SS Beuno and Winefride, pray for them

SS Augustine of Canterbury, Edmund, Edward Confessor, pray for them

SS Boniface of Crediton, Dunstan, and Thomas a Becket pray for them

Saint John Fisher, pray for them. May you not say of them "the fort is betrayed, even of them that should have defended it."

St. Thomas More, pray for them; Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for them

Blessed Dominic Barberi and John Henry Newman, Servant of God, pray for them

All Saints of England and Wales, pray for them

Prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love, send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. O God who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, spare us O Lord.

Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us O Lord

Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.


Next post tomorrow evening on various 'matters arising'.

St Francis de Sales

St Francis de Sales, pray for us!

(image: Heimsuchungskloster, Oberonning, Bavaria/Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Today's Papal audience update.

Just arrived by email from Vatican Information Services:

Pope Benedict today presided a meeting of all Dicastery Heads in the Bologna Hall and this evening will receive Cardinal Levada (CDF) in private audience.

Two days before the Ad Limina visit of the E & W Bishops Conference, these meetings may be coincidental, but I hope Laurence finds them comforting, as do I!!!

Oasis very busy today: a few recent tidbits though

From Vatican News Services yesterday:
1) The nuns of St Cecilia's convent weave the wool for the pallia. I seem to remember that's the name of the convent at Torre de'Specchi.
2) Bishop Rodriques, prelate of Opus Dei was in private audience with the Pope yesterday. Interesting in view of recent posts here and on Holy Smoke.
3) Cardinal Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux has been appointed to the Pontifical Commission for Christian Unity. (There's an excellent interview with HE on kto first aired last Sunday before the Angelus, I think recorded before the new appointment. Anyway, well worth watching. The Cardinal speaks French much more slowly than Fr. Keith Beaumont! The programme is in 'The Life of the Dioceses series.)

From Zenit this morning:
Benedict XVI not letting Cardinal Bertone retire. Zenit article 28122

From Pope Benedict XVI blog - link in sidebar, Pope's second book on Jesus of Nazareth ready to print

Fr Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) - again link in sidebar - recommends a new compendium of Pope Benedict's writings on the Eucharist, available from Family Publications. I believe FP is the UK outlet for Ignatius Press, so USA readers try IP first.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pope Benedict blesses the Lambs

(video from Vatican Radio)

St. Agnes: A further note on the 'Pallia' and a short reflection on today's saint

Most of us know that the wool from the chaste white lambs, blessed by the Pope for St. Agnes' day, is woven into the Pallia for new or 'translated' Archbishops. That is why Archbishop Nichols received a new one this year as he had been 'translated' to Westminster from the Archdiocese of Birmingham. I last checked this subject when writing my first book 'Gardening with God'. In the entry for St. Agnes' day I state that it is the nuns of Torre de'Specchi in Rome who traditionally weave the wool into Pallia. I'm not certain whether this is still accurate. However, I think it is remains the case that within three months of his confirmation each new metropolitan archbishop must beg his pallium from the Pope. Before it is sent to him it lies for a night on the tomb of Saint Peter. Strictly speaking, he may not exercise his full archepiscpacy until he receives it, either from the Pope himself or from another Archbishop. Where at all possible, Pope Benedict certainly seems to do these investitures himself, and now that countless millions of us can see these being done via TV and internet, it certainly shows us how, and with what solemnity, the Apostolic Succession is handed down. For it to be done by the Successor of Peter himself, underlines the message and makes it such a moving, significant occasion, not just for us, but even more so for the Pope and the Archbishops themselves. No Archbishop may hand on his pallium to his successor, for it will be buried with him. I'm not quite sure whether that means, for instance, that Archbishop Nichols will eventually be buried with two Pallia. Can anyone shed light on this?

A short reflection on Saint Agnes - part of today's entry in 'Gardening with God':

"St. Agnes is thought to have been only thirteen when she was martyred by the sword for consecrating herself to Christ.............................Although little is known for certain, her existence is verified by her inclusion in the Roman canon, and by the praise accorded to her in the writings of other saints, notably Ambrose, during whose lifetime she was martyred. In his 'Treatise on Virgins' (Book 1, Chapter 2), he marvels especially at her extreme youth. This should have meant that she could be only a learner, but through her chastity and faith she becomes our teacher. She is perhaps the supreme demonstration that age and erudition do not automatically bring wisdom or fortitude. Like all the saints, she shows the way to the door beyond which they are to be found. Without humility and becoming "as little children", we cannot even reach the door."

(copyright 2002 Jane Mossendew 'Gardening with God' - Continuum)


St Agnes

St Agnes, pray for us!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Opus Dei priest appointed spokesman on Newman before/during Pope's Visit to Britain; kto programme on Church in Great Britain

I learn from Damian Thompson (Holy Smoke) that the Opus Dei priest Jack Valero (a Spaniard?) has been appointed spokesman for the cause of Cardinal Newman before and during the Pope's visit to Britain this coming September. (Do we know exactly who appointed him?)

Damian makes no secret of the fact that he's not keen on Opus Dei. Now, let me make it plain that I am not a member of Opus Dei. and have absolutely no intention of such an allegiance. But I have reason to be deeply grateful to one of their London priests as a holy confessor on more than one occasion. I'll be honest and tell you, that influenced by all the brou-ha-ha about Opus Dei, and I might add, well before Dan Brown's excuse for a well researched novel, I was reluctant and a bit scared to go to him, as advised by my spiritual director, who isn't Opus Dei either. I was half-afraid they would try to recruit me. No such matter. My director was informed later, that there was no need because I already had a well-formed Benedictine spirituality This was meant in the sense of the Rule of Saint Benedict, and not our Pope, who at the time, was at least two years away from the Chair of St. Peter.

Damian's implication seems to be that Opus Dei is rich and can afford to back the kind of campaign we may well witness as September draws near, whereas our bishops can't. You know, some sort of deal has been done. Possibly it has, but I can tell you that I believe it's not so much about money, as about will, that is, known and proved will to support what the Holy Father is doing. And when it comes to the crunch, that's what Pope Benedict needs in this British situation. Opus Dei can be relied upon to provide that unswerving support. Why?

It is not just that Pope John Paull II made Opus Dei a personal Prelature. It goes back to their founder's loving support for the Papacy, see Pro Pontifice Maximo in the sidebar here. It doesn't matter what you think about Opus Dei, or their founder's fast-track canonisation, the fact is that they are loyal to the Pope, and to Benedict that matters hugely in the present circumstance. Since the SSPX business the media have largely forgotten about Opus Dei. They are not maniacal traditionalists. They are just carefully obedient.

I will never be a member of Opus Dei, nor do I wish to be. It has aspects with which I am certainly not comfortable, but I have to say I'm relieved that dealing with the Newman matter in the coming months has been put in their experienced, determined and reliable hands.

The kto programme on the Church in Great Britain?

This indicates to me that kto is gearing itself up for the Pope's visit. They really are trying to get to grips with our crazy situation. Not before time. Most ordinary French don't know the difference between a Catholic and an Anglican. In many rural districts, including my own, Anglicans have been allowed to conduct their liturgies in local Catholic churches. That is fine but nobody tells the catholic faithful that these are not Catholic Masses.

Anyway, unless you speak French, the programme won't enlighten you much, and even if you do, the interviewee Oratorian Fr Keith Beaumont speaks French so fast as to put your average native Francophone to shame!. I saw a few minutes of it tonight and he'd just got on to Elizabeth the First! The interviewer already had a glazed look! Know how you feel mon cher, in either language!

I found the interview just before supper and decided to leave a proper consideration until tomorrow, after which I'll post anything of specific interest to Anglophone readers.

In Christo pro Papa

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Schonborn 'Hiccup'; the English/Welsh ad limina

I meant to post at length on both these issues, but have been called away unti tomorrow afternoon (European time). However, before going 'off air' until then, I must make one or two two things crystal clear.

First, I wish to distance myself completely from anyone claiming that Cardinal Schonborn sent his 'apology fax' to the Bishop of Mostar as the result of being 'carpeted' by Pope Benedict. I said in my first post on this issue that it was probably just a coincidence that H.E. had been in private audience with the Holy Father hours before sending the fax. It is not our business to know the details, and it is certainly not at all acceptable to put words into the Pope's mouth, as some seem to have been doing. In any case only part of that fax has been published on the Mostar bishop's site, and this part does not really constitute an apology. Its publication does indicate that whatever the Cardinal said in the rest of the fax has satisfied the Bishop. And that is enough. We do not need to know more, or indeed make up what we do not know. The corner of the orthodox Catholic blogosphere, which does everything it can to use the internet wisely and unsensationally in its work for the Church and in loyal support of our Holy Father, (in which corner I count my own blogs), avoids such fabrication at all costs. Anyone who doesn't, risks descending to the level of many of the Media outlets that so distress us.

We do not need to know everything, we do not need to know whether a cardinal abased himself before a junior bishop, but we do need to trust our Holy Father who has to know a great deal more than we do, and then take wise action. It seems he is now aware that he must somehow inculcate the need for circumspection and wisdom in the Catholic blogosphere. (see Fr Tim's latest post and several other papal actions and statements over recent months) Our Holy Father knows what he is doing. Trust him; follow him; be loyal to him and obey him. Then you will help him in his ministry as Successor of Peter. It also seems that he sees a particular opportunity for priests to evangelise through this medium and I think it highly likely that he knows about those in the anglophone blogosphere who have been taking that opportunity for some time.

On the subject of the upcoming ad limina of the English and Welsh bishops, the same things apply. Yes there is worry and tension about their perceived action or inaction, particularly over their apparent negative attitude to the Summorum Pontificum . The extremes of view about what may happen at the ad limina indicate either some sort of grand show-down betwwn Pope Benedict and the E & W Conference, or a 'Vatican tea-party', after which our bishops will return home, and nothing will change. Oh ye of little faith in our Pope! Have you not yet noticed that he has already achieved great things, but in neither of those ways? This ad limina is only a few days away, beginning on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which surely nobody could count as inappropriate. The Pope knows the cut of our bishops' gibs better than any of us. If he didn't, as Pope, appoint them himself, he certainly had to do with them for years when he was Prefect of the CDF. And we know his memory is legendary. Our job over the coming days is to pray for him, for them and for ourselves, the English and Welsh flock. I beg those prayers of my compatriots and also of my many friends in the USA and throughout the world. Pray to the Immaculate Mother of Walsingham that her Dowry may not be lost and that she will continue to cast her protecting mantle over our dear Holy Father.

Vatican DVDs & Books: English/French speaking contact details

My contact is Caterina Giobbio.
Her email address is
Her phone number 0039 02 583059 49 (I expect if phoning from outside Italy you omit the zero after the international code 0039

Caterina was so good as to phone me so I didn't need to test her number.

Holy Father's Visit to Rome Synagogue: Update and DVD details

First, the promised DVD details:
It's available in English with the title : "Pius XII and the Holocaust: the Secret History of the Great Rescue". The supplier is HDF Communications who advertise on Vatican Radio's site as Vatican DVDs and Books. You can arrange to receive their newsletter by email which is how I learned of this DVD. If you have any difficulty, I have a contact number to ring. They're actually in Milan, were very friendly and helpful and have English speaking staff. I made a pre-Christmas order and paid by giving them my credit card number over the phone. Will try to find it later and post it for you here.

Zenit has several items today about the Pope's visit to the Synagogue and its aftermath. All highly encouraging and recommended reading. As to the aftermath, two things stand out. First is the Media disappointment that the anxiety and near-crisis atmosphere they had been stirring up was proved to be completely unfounded. Second, it seems I was right to highlight the Grand Rabbi's repeated calls for the Vatican Archives to be opened. There has now been the same call from the Israeli ambassador to the Holy See. I really do believe that they are not making these calls in order to create more difficulty, but because they feel that information released from that source would help to reduce, even further, the tensions in Jewish-Catholic relations. Both the Grand Rabbi and the ambassador are to be applauded. Of course there are people from both communities and in the Media who use this Vatican archive thing as a way of stirring up trouble for the Vatican and for Pope Benedict. They are to be deplored.

Fr. Lombardi has responded with the usual explanation that there are still some years of work to do in cataloguing the vast documentation. Mmm. Is there really no way of hastening the process? If there is one, I trust Pope Benedict, if he deems it wise, will ensure that it is followed. In the meantime, it appears that there is great trust and respect between the Bishop and the Grand Rabbi of Rome. After the warmth and cordiality of the public meeting, they went into a side-chambe for a private talk. kto cut its trnsmission at this point and I haven't read any details of how long they spent together. Clearly each felt there were things they still wanted and needed to say to each other.

There's been a bit of confusion about where to find the text of the Holy Father's address to the Synagogue assembly. Earlier today, I checked, that is the official site of the Holy See, and they still have not moved out of 2009! You can however find an 'unofficial' English translation at Vatican radio. Here's the link. Or to go direct to the English translation click the link to Vatican's YouTube channel at bottom of sidebar here, click Vat Radio and scroll the items on the right hand until you come to the translation. Even more highly recommended reading!

To end on a lighter note, Fr. Tim at 'The Hermeneutic of Continuity" has a good post with a photo of Pope Benedict and the Grand Rabbi. The Holy Father appears to have whispered a joke into the Rabbi's ear. I think he may be explaining the difficulty of getting things moving in the Vatican.
"Did you know," he has just said to the Rabbi, "The Vatican Post Office only yesterday reached the bottom of its backlog. They found a letter addresed to 'The Romans' from a man called Paul!"'

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pope Benedict with the Grand Rabbi at the Synagogue of Rome

There is no way I can begin to do justice to this event tonight, or on any night for that matter. Even to attempt this, I would need to study the text of the Holy Father's speech first. Unfortunately the Vatican website hasn't published any texts of Papal speeches so far this year - not in any language. It really isn't good enough. We are more than half way through January and you'd think from the Vatiican Site that Benedict hasn't said anything since December 31st last year. Nevertheless I watched the Synagogue event on kto and understood the French translation as it happened. Here, I can only share one or two impressions.

First it was a much warmer occasion than I'd feared it might be. Before entering the Synagogue our Holy Father was greeted most generously and enthusiastically. Once he entered the Synagogue, the assembly rose to him, as they did at the end of his speech, which was the last in a series of four, the first three being given by diffferent and eminent Rabbis. Actually the major part of the Holy Father's address was a homily on the Decalogue, but given so gently and humbly as to be unnoticed as such by the majority of his hearers, or perhaps not...........?

Tonight, I'll deal with the one thing that worries and grieves us, namely how Pope Benedict's clearing the way for the Beatification of Pope Pius XII would affect Jewish-Catholic relations. As it happened, there were only two veiled references to this matter, and they were buried in the speeches of the Grand Rabbi (I think) and of Pope Benedict in response. The Rabbi mourned the silence of Pope Pius in regard to the Shoah, referring to it as a dolorous omission and then he yet again pleaded for the Vatican to release its archives covering the period. As I say, these were two sentences buried in his text. In response, the Holy Father only said in veiled reference to his predessessor of that period: "The Holy See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way." Clearly he believes and knows that had Pius behaved in the way some think he should have done, the situation of the Jews would have been even worse. As it was Pius himself was nearly arrested and carried off by Hitler's forces. He actually left instructions as to what the rest of the Hierarchy were to do in such a circumstance.

These two references by the Rabbi and Benedict XVI, highlight the essential argument. On the one hand you have Jew, and Gentile, myself among this group, who have proof that Pius XII would not have been able to do any good at all, had he been more openly vociferous against the Nazi regime. As it was he was able to do a great deal. We do not need to go into the Vatican Archive to prove that. It is already in the public domain. On the other hand, you have both Jew and Gentile who insist that Pope Pius should have spoken out. I have yet to read a satisfactory explanation as to how a more vociferous Pius could have improved the situation for anyone, let alone the Jews..

Personally I think Pope Benedict and the Grand Rabbi well know what they are doing., thank God. The latter is known to respect Pope Benedict's scholarship and willingness to acknowledge differences, rather than indulge in a cosy yet sterile 'ecumenism' that blows nobody any good.

Well, that's it tonight for what it's worth and with so much left unsaid.. There is a new DVD available from the Vatican about Pope Pius and the Shoah. Tomorrow, I'll publish details of how you may buy this. And then DV, I'll confront the issue of the upcoming ad limina visit to the Pope by our English and Welsh bishops. My hair is already white and blood pressure healthy so please God I'll survive that exercise! (Probably our dear Holy Father thinks and prays similarly.)

In Christo pro Papa

Haiti: A special report from French Missionaries on the Island

Spiritual Mothers and friends, please follow the link at the top of the sidebar, to the website of this Order of French Missionaries, the Spiritains. They have been a permanent presence in Haiti and it seems many of them are still alive. This special report lists the human and material loss of the Church in Haiti as the result of the earthquake. It opens with a list of priests, seminarians and religious who lost their lives last Tuesday and since. The report is in French but I do not think that will hinder your understaning, compassion and prayer for each individual concerned.

Huge thanks to my dear friend 'Pelerin' for the link. She has a friend who works for the Spiritains in Paris and was thus able to send it to me.

Sorry this post should have been at the SMP blog. However, I think it bears the unintentional repetition.

Hait: Report from French Missionaries inside Haiti

Please go here to read the report. It's in French but you should be able to get an idea. I'll read it thoroughly as soon as possible and then post translation as necessary.

This is the site of the French Missionary order, Les Spiritains who work within Haiti. Thank God they have been able to get news the their Order's website. The Holy Father said yesterday that he's being kept up to date by his Nuncio. We are being kept up to date, specifically about the Church's human and material loss, by my friend Pelerin who knows someone who works for the Order in Paris. Huge thanks to Pelerin for the link.

Pope appoints Bishop Leonard to succeed Cardinal Danneels

News received from VIS 3pm European time this afternoon.

Well, he's done it. No 'Wagner wobbles' this time. I wondered at the time whether he gave in over Fr Wagner because it wasn't worth having a fight over the appointment of an auxiliary, who would have had no power or influence to change things. More important appointments in Germany need to be carefull watched! And another reason for a Consistory fairly soon!

In the meantime God bless and strenghen our Holy Father, the Church in Belgium and the Archbishop-elect of Mechelin Brussels.
Deo gratias!

Cardinal Schonborn sent a fax to the Bishop of Mostar.

Thanks to Sandy for responding so quickly with the information that according to Diane who authors 'Te Deum Laudamus!', the Cardinal sent a fax from Rome soon after his audience with Pope Benedict. How Diane got hold of this fax (or part of it) is beyond me, but the text reprinted on her blog is still equivocal and doesn't really amount to a proper apology.

It's halfpast midnight here. I'm off to bed. More 'in the cold light of day'.
Thanks again Sandy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cardinal Schonborn sends letter of apology to Bishop of Mostar

One of my friends in combox of previous post says that HE sent this letter after his recent meeting with the Holy Father. I've asked her for her source. It's very important because if true, it proves that Pope Benedict means business. AND it would be very encouraging for those of us who are worrying about the upcoming ad limina of the English and Welsh bishops. The 'rumour mill' is already grinding on that one. More as news is available.

May God bless, guide, strengthen and protect our Holy Father.

Heartfelt thanks for your appreciative and kind comments with a couple of points in clarification

  1. Truly I've been amazed at the favourable response. You certainly made the old girl feel of some use when the chips were down! And some of you weren't even known to me until this, what shall we call it, erm, 'The Schonborn Hiccup"? Furthermore the statcounter tells me that it has generated the highest readership since Mark installed the 'gadget'. Anyway thanks to you all for keeping an eye on me.

    A couple of points though:
    First an answer to Epsilon's question about why I didn't post on Fr Blake's combox, drawing attention to my own blog. When I found Fr Blake's post it had already slipped into his archive. He posts so successively fast that even if you look twice a day, you are likely to miss something, which I did on the day in question. I don't think people go back to earlier posts much unless it's a matter of especial interest to them and Father only has one post per page. It was difficult late at night to know what to do, so I decided to post 'at home'. And I'm very glad I did.
    Second: Many of you seem to think that the lack of comments was my main concern. If you gained that impression, that's my fault and I'm sorry. No, I'm used to that and it doesn't bother me in itself, particularly now I have the statcounter. No, the main point of frustration was caused just by the way things are. It doesn't matter how well you post. If you are not well-known much of your hard work and dedication will be lost. Father posted briefly on a subject on which I'd spent a great deal of thought and time, and got a whole load of uninformed comments. I felt it would have helped to dispel ignorance if some of them could have read the Oasis. Never mind.

    The most important lesson I've learned from this is to continue the blog for those of you whom I know DO read it, and not to worry too much about the others. It's for the Lord and for you, not for me. btw, I referred to 'legs up' from the 'big boys' in my earlier post. I should have mentioned a very important girl, named Mac of Mulier Fortis who has always been a wonderful support to me, both technologically and spiritually. Thanks Mac!

    Anyway with the blessing of Fr Mark and Fr Michael, I simply can't give up, can I! To have their priestly support, answered my prayers as to whether I've been doing the right thing with the blog.

    I will now proceed with due caution.

    God bless you all. The sand-storm in this little part of the desert has died down thanks to you.

    Perhaps a post later about the Holy Father's visit to the Rome synagogue........but maybe I'll take Umblepie's advice and post less frequently. It's difficult because there's so much going on........ Also one of my correspondents has first hand news of what's going on in Haiti. That is the matter of first concern. They had a minute's silence in the Rome synagogue before all the speeches began...........

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cardinal Schonborn: Jane says she may close this Oasis blog.

As you know, I posted twice about Cardinal Schonborn on January 14, and once again on January 15. All these posts were considered, balanced and informative. I had 1 comment. Fr Blake also posted on Schonborn on Jan 15, but only to report that the Cardinal had private Audience with the Pope that morning, (which I had already advertised before it took place). Father's post invited comment as to why this meeting had happened, a question I had already asked. He had 16 or 17 comments, most of which displayed ignorance of the rules of ecclesial courtesy, which Fr Blake has corrected in his own combox. DO NOT GET ME WRONG. I'M ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT FATHER BLAKE DID NOT KNOW ABOUT MY POSTS WHICH PREDATED HIS. He knows me personally and my blog is on his sidebar list. However I know he is just too busy to read me.

Father Blake is a 'big blogger', respected and popular. Absolutely right that he should be. I read him at least once a day myself and he is brilliant.. However, this instance proves that for a small blog like mine, it is very difficult to be noticed. One needs the occasional 'leg up' from the 'big boys' if one's efforts are to be worthwhile the expense of care and time one puts into the composition of posts, not to mention the careful research that I always do. On this occasion, and I believe on this important subject, I think my postings would have been more useful to the commenters on Father's own post. But only one of them knows about me, and she obviously hasn't read me on the subject of Cardinal Schonborn.

It is dispiriting and at the moment I'm wondering whether I should close this Oasis, but CERTAINLY NOT THE SPIRITUAL MOTHERS OF PRIESTS BLOG, and spend more time in the garden. The other thing is that people who do not run blogs themselves do not realise, as 'Fr Mildew' has twice said in recent months, that comments are the lifeblood of blogs, even if they are only to say that you agree with what the blog author has written. The statcounter tells me that my readership is fair and increasing, but that is certainly not reflected in the com box, except by a very few 'faithfuls' to whom I extend my heartfelt gratitude. You andd I know who you are!

I'm now going to 'sleep on it' and continue worrying AND PRAYING about the things which would have been in my next post, namely a) the Holy Father's visit to the Rome Synagogue tomorrow b) the upcoming ad limina visits to Rome of the English, Welsh and Scottish bishops c) the Pope's visit to England and Scotland in the autumn of the current year.

As always, God bless all here.

P.S. I have to say that this is not the first time such a thing has happened, although the previous occasions involved other blogs.

Haiti Papal Nuncio: Further detailed report

Please read at Fides Service-Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples

As you know nervous about these links but thought it worth the shot.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cardinal Schonborn's recent 'private' pilgrimage to Medjugorge

How can a pilgrimage be private when you are a high profile Cardinal and choose to celebrate Mass in public and to speak to the faithful in a homily which could be interpreted as favourable to the alleged apparitions at Medjugorge? And yet Cardinal Schonborn said it was private.

I find it hard to believe that his Eminence could have been so naive as to allow himself to be manipulated by the pro-faction in the place. The fact that there are two opposing views surrounding the site is worrying enough in itself. With the Church in the process of trying to settle the matter, it seems distinctly unhelpful for a Cardinal to go there at this moment unless specifically and officially sent by the Holy See to investigate matters. But no, his Eminence said it was private.

Perhaps he is not yet web-savvy enough to know that the days when such actions could be private, are well and truly over. That said, were the Cardinal's actions merely ill-judged, deliberately provocative, or a blind for the schemes of other 'heads' in the Vatican, not, I hasten to add, THE Head, who received said Cardinal in audience today? I trust Mgr Ganswein was at the ready with his trusty 'flit-gun'* contra all the would-be flies on the wall!

Also to be noted is the circumspect, but nevertheless intrinsically critical reaction of Cardinal Saraiva Martins to his 'brother's' actions, see here . Cardinal Martins is sceptical about Medjugorge, but is clearly upset at his 'brother's' lack of courtesy to the local Ordinary, (who has also complained) in arriving in another bishop's diocese completely unannounced. It's difficult to know how a Cardinal could behave in this way, particularly one who is 'nobly born'. Cardinal Schonborn is the son of a Count of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic, where he was born.) He is an aristocrat. In England we used to say, that nobility is demonstrated not by your blood, but in your behaviour, particularly towards those whom the world perceives as your subordinates.

I've been puzzled about Cardinal Schonborn for some time. His attitudes seem equivocal. See his CV at Wikipedia, which isn't holy writ, but at least is usually a good factual guide. I also checked Cardinal Martins' there, and have to say which Eminence I would vote for if it were a question of unequivocal loyalty to the occupant of the Chair of Peter. Cardinal Schonborn was also at Ars a few months ago, presiding over an International Priestly retreat. The positive reaction of the priest retreatants, as demonstrated in the kto video which I chose as one of my Epiphany joys, warmed my heart toward him. But then with this Medjugorge news I became worried again about him.

The other thing is that Cardinal Schonborn is travelling rather a lot when you consider the recent news about Austrian Catholics deserting the Church in droves. See
This link, if it works (!) will lead to a more complete report on the Austrian situation.

IMHO it seems that Cardinal Schonborn would do better to stay at home and start being unequivocal in his support of our Holy Father, unequivocal in the Catholic faith. I'm told that when Pope Benedict (or perhaps God) chooses, he fixes people with a look that penetrates to their very souls, if their souls are receptive. I pray that Cardinal Schonborn may have been the privileged recipient of that look a few hours ago. We shouldn't forget either, that his Eminence was a pupil of Fr. Ratzinger many years ago.

Of course, the fact in this Medjugorge story, that Cardinal is seen to be opposed to Cardinal, is a fulfilment of the prophecy of Our Lady of Akita (Japan}, accepted by the Church relatively quickly as these things go, and whose Archbishop said at the time of acceptance, that Our Blessed Mother's message there was the same as at Fatima.

More on these matters as news dictates and/or time allows.

*Oh, and the flit gun? This was the precursor of the aerosol and will be remembered by anyone over the age of 50? Not sure they had them in Bavaria but I do like the idea of Mgr. G. brandishining one that began its useful life in Marktl am Inn, and is still in good working order.

Cardinal Schonborn continued....

Apologies for delay. Post will follow this evening French time.
VIS has just reported that Cardinal Schonborn was received in private audience by the Holy father today. Mmmm? Probably just coincidence?

Haiti: Apostolic Nuncio offers first hand account.

I'm rather tired of links not working. Nevertheless, I pray that this one does, and that you all may read it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Breaking the cardinal rules of ecclesial courtesy: His Eminence Christoph Schonborn visits Medjugorge without informing the local bishop

This is the subject of my next post which will follow later this evening or tomorrow morning. It has little to do with his, my or your attitude to the Medjugorge phenonenon and everything to do with simple good manners, which for some reason Cardinal Schonborn decided he needn't observe. Why? Surely not because the Pope asked him to go and have a private 'look'. Even if he had, I doubt he would have wanted statements made during a homily given at Mass, which would exacerbate the present sensitive situation. In any case I read somewhere that Cardinal Ruini had been put in charge of 'looking into' the matter. Even the Holy Father himself does not, and would not, go anywhere without first being invited or expressing a desire to go, and this is as much the result of the innate courtesy of Pope Benedict, as it is of his observance of an unwritten ecclesial code of conduct.

More later as promised.

Haiti January 2010

We are all praying for Haiti , her dead and her living. Lord have mercy on them.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tissot video

Please note that this 7 minute video of Tissot's paintings appears UNDER the post about the papal baptisms in the Sistine Chapel, that is as the post before last.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Infants Baptized by Pope: Parents Reflect on the occasion

This moving testimony to faith, Christian marriage, parenthood, and Pope Benedict's affection and closeness can be read here. The reference to the babies' crying and babbling during the two hour ceremony, doesn't at all capture the effect of the sounds, which were more like a calling out. In the potentially daunting environment of the Sistine Chapel, they added to the dignified and loving family atmosphere which Pope Benedict's very presence and sacramental mien did so much to create.

Clearly he made a great impression on the mother of newly-baptized Gabriel Grilone. "I like the way..... he expresses himself with little gestures...........Those who do not see him personally do not notice these little details." (Oh yes, we do!!!) "Even though he didn't know us he expressed much affection with his look. I will always carry this in my heart, my whole life." Actually, you can see this happening on the video. It is hard to watch the tenderness with which the Pope baptizes the children and welcome their parents, without coming close to tears. It is no surprise that little Gabriel's mother felt as she did.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tissot Video. Enjoy!

I'm trying to find out where Tissot is buried. It looks as if I'll have to write to the mayor of Chenancey. A graceful mantilla twitch to Pelerin in thanks for finding this video. Most of it is not of his Bible art, although there is a central section that shows some of his 'Life of Christ' work. The woman in red is St. Mary Magdalen; will identity the other Biblical subjects when I've time.)
The slow movement of Brahms Violin concerto is a very suitable accompaniament I feel.

Next Tissot painting should be up here on the Feast of the Conversion of Paul.

Holy Father visits Cardinal Etchegaray

Zenit has the full report here

Wonderful news which I've been looking out for since the Cardinal's operation! Most touching that his Eminence was strong enough to walk Pope Benedict to the door at the end of the visit and a great blessing that he is likely to be discharged from hospital during this coming week.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

On the trail of Tissot; taking down the decorations; and an afternoon with the 'Holy Face' of Manoppello

My researches into the life and death of James Tissot continued yesterday. I found that his parents were in the 'fashion business' in Nantes which perhaps in part explains his skill in protraying the texture of fabrics and their arrangement on the female form; whilst in London he did a series of caracatures for 'Vanity Fair' magazine under the pseudonym 'Coide' (final 'e' acute); that he did indeed die in Chenancey-Bouillon as Pelerin said but have not yet managed to establish than he is buried there. Thanks also to Patricius for his contribution in the combox. Also discovered that there are still Tissots living in the area: Dominique and Alain Tissot run a gite there. Also discovered that the area is a clock-making region. Is this connected to the famous Tissot watchmakers. I always thought they were Swiss. If I can't find more on the web, having found the address of the Mayor of Chenancey I may well write to him and ask whether Tissot is buried in the commune cemetery.

The decorations?
Fr Blake asked about this recently on his blog. Here in St. Romain, up until very recently, the custom was to leave things up until Candlemas. The street lights, yes we have them in St. Romain, were not taken down until Feb 2. I knew about the custom which dates back to the time when Christmastide lasted until then and I rather appoved of observing it. In recent years they have been taken down sooner, although they are still there as I write. The custom here is to have decoration outside as well as inside the house, usually in the form of decorated greenery from the forest. This too is of antiquity. So our custom now is as follows: when the commune takes down the village lights, we take down our external decorations; when the Vatican takes down the Crib and tree in St. Peter's Square, we take down the internal decorations.

I spent this afternoon researching the Sanctuary of the Holy Face at Manoppello. Further explanation and details at my 'Spiritual Mothers of Priests' blog.

Baptism of Our Lord

(image: Baptism of Our Lord (Baptême de Jésu) from Tissot's "Life of Christ" series, Brooklyn Museum/Wikipedia Commons)
We are posting the painting today in order to accommodate both forms of the Roman Rite and their different calendars. Whether you celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord today or this coming Wednesday may it be a happy and holy time for all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The 'Vision' of James Tissot

In this post I will concentrate on those aspects of Tissot's life and work which are of spiritual interest, not to mention sympathy and compassion. Here are links to some sites that give biographies of various detail and/or reproduce many of his paintings.
New York Times article
Mezzo-Mondo - Biograpy
artmagic image gallery
Brooklyn Museum Exhibition and Life of Christ Exhibition
New York Times Art Criticism

Born in Nantes France, Tissot met Kathleen Newton during his eleven year period as a highly successful society painter in London. He fell in love with her and it seems that he remained in that state for the rest of his life. They were both from Catholic backgrounds but she was a divorcee and so they never married. They lived together in blissful domesticity at his house in St. Johns Wood and she is believed to have borne him a child. This was her second child, the first having been the result of a shipboard liaison during her voyage to India where she was to be married. This marriage had been 'arranged' by her father. After the wedding Kathleen confessed to her husband about her affair at sea and he immediately divorced her. Tissot's brief period of earthly happiness ended when Kathleen, having contracted tuberculosis, ended her own life at the age of 28. Her suicide at that time meant that she could not be buried in consecrated ground.

After his bereavement a distraught Tissot returned to his native France. Some time later he had what some sites call a 'vision' in which he saw Our Lord comforting people in a large temple-like building. (His painting of the vision is called 'Christ the Comforter'. I have not yet been able to find it on the Net but continue my search.) At this point Tissot seems to have re-embraced his childhood faith and from then on his art was to be dominated by paintings of people and events in both the Old and New Testaments. There are 350 watercolours in his 'Life of Christ' series and the present exhibition in Brooklyn is showing about a third of them.

At one point Tissot became interested in Spiritualism and claimed to have 'contacted' Kathleen. I pray that he found solace in the orthodox faith before he died. I have so far been unable to find out where or how he died, or where he is buried. My researches continue, as does my hope that the Lord in his mercy grants heavenly peace and joy to Kathleen Newton and James Tissot.

In tribute to Tissot's work, watercolours from his Bible series will appear on my blogs throughout the coming year.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Latest Epiphany post; belated mantilla twitch to Mulier Fortis; Fr Tim takes some Roman time;Tissot tomorrow D.V.

The latest Epiphany post describing my second four joys of the Solemnity is now up on the SMP blog.

In my haste to post about Fr Tim Finigan's doings in Rome, I omitted to thank Mac for having posted about it on Mulier Fortis. Mea maxima culpa and a belated mantilla twitch to you Mac and thanks as always for your blog. (As for your post about the complexities of the old 'Pie', I'm sure others will enlighten you. But if they don't I'll comment as soon as time allows.)

On his blog, 'The Hermeneutic of Continuity', Fr Tim has published a most moving and illuminating post about his reactions to the experience of assisting as sub-deacon at Cardinal Llovera's Mass. These were such that instead of going on the organised conference pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Bonaventure, he decided on a private day in Rome. Judging from the itinerary he chose for himself, it will have been most necessary and fruitful, and an opportunity that comes too rarely to any parish priest, least of all to Father Tim with his multifarious commitments. May God bless and strengthen him and may Our Lady protect him always.

I hope to post about Tissot tomorrow.

Fr Tim Finigan sub-deacon at Cardinal's Mass in the Lateran

A quick comment:

Congratulations to Father Tim. What a great honour for him and wondeful news for us all at home. Father is also giving one of the talks at the current conference of English-speaking priests in Rome.

However, now that Father is personally known to Cardinal Llovera, how long before his name reaches the ears of our Holy Father? The Archdiocese in which Father is a priest is vacant and................. ?

Unlikely I know, but many other important posts also need filling. If I were a Blackfen parishioner I'd be very nervous of losing my parish priest ! As for Father himself it's definitely a case of, "Be sure your virtues will find you out! "

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Wondrous Epiphany..........3: The first four joys; and the Tissot Exhibition in Brooklyn

The joys of Epiphany post is now up on the Spiritual Mothers of Priests blog.

The Tissot Exhibition of water colours from his series of 350 on 'The Life of Christ' is on at the Brooklyn Art Gallery until January 17, so if you are fortunate enough to live in NY you'd better get your skates on. I suspect that at this time of year skates, if not skis, might be the best form of transport!

Over the past days I've become fascinated by Tissot's biography. Earlier today, which I had already decided on the advice of friends to 'take things easy', I enjoyed doing some Tissot research and will report on it as soon as possible.

We hope to have his 'Baptism of Jesus' up on both blogs in time for this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany joy unabated: It's all right. Everything's back to normal!

For the time being anyway! Please see explanatory post on Spiritual Mother's for Priests blog.

God bless you and thanks for your patience.

Machina Diaboli

There is a saying here in Scotland, "the best laid plans o' mice and men, gang aft agley" (are oft to go astray).

Sadly, Jane's computer has taken a diabolical whim of its own and seems out of action for the near future. Jane is the main contributor to this blog, so you will all have to bear with us for a while.

Though it be a material concern, please storm the Gates of Heaven, for a swift recovery to the machine!

An Epiphany Treat

A treat for Epiphany: The Three Kings (Cornelius/Finley) King's College Cambridge, 1997:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eucharistic Novena begins tomorrow, The Solemnity of the Epiphany

For background details and text of the Novena, please use link at top of sidebar here.

Thanks to Father Mark for alerting me to this. I will definitely be joining him in praying the Novena

+ Tempus Epiphaniae +

Introitus: "Ecce Advenit":

(image: Rembrandt, Adoration of the Magi, 1632;
video: Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, Milan, Italy)

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary: A new intercession?

Please see my Spiritual Mothers of Priests blog (sidebar link) for more details.

Hope to be back here tomorrow.

God bless all here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

+ Tempus Nativitatis +

(Tissot's Journey of the Magi)

"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year...." M.L. Haskins

On New Year's Eve 2008 I posted this much loved quote on 'The Oasis". Having decided against repeating it this year, I was delighted to find it on the blog of the 'Transalpine Redemptorists at Home". Here it is again with some reflections and information about the poet.

"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 'Give me a light that I may tread safetly into the unknown.' And he replied: 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.' "

Minnie Louise Haskins 1875-1957 (from "The Desert: Introduction" c.1908)

Even with the Internet it is difficult to find much biographical detail about Miss Haskins. She was a graduate of the London School of Economics and most of her subsequent academic career was spent lecturing there in the fields of Sociology and Philosophy. Writing poetry was her spare-time pursuit. She was English, and not American or Canadian as some have claimed. Born in the Gloucstershire village of Bitton, now on the eastern edge of Bristol, she later lived in Crowborough, Sussex. (Does anyone know whether she is buried there?)

Minnie was neither Catholic nor Anglican, but a Non-Conformist. She never married.

Those of us who were alive during WW2 or who were born during it, find double poignancy in these words because they were famously quoted by King George VI during his Christmas Day speech 1939, that is the first Christmas of a war whose length could not be predicted. They were a perfect choice, through which our sovereign encouraged his subjects to faith. Only that could save us, whatever lay ahead. That is one part of the poignancy. The other lies in our affectionate memories of King George himself, a man who never expected to accede to the throne and one who found the role nerve-wracking, not the least because of all the public speaking he had to do and the necessary personal battle he waged in order to conquer his stammer. Miss Haskins' words are engraved on the entrance to King George's Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.

I was eight years old when he died and we were allowed to sit cross-legged on the floor of the school hall as we listened to his funeral on a utility radio. No TV at that time but we'd seen pictures of the Abbey and so had images in our minds. We sat in awed and sad silence, paying absorbed attention throughout the long service. There was no fidgeting, and I believe that this was not because of an enforced external discipline from the teachers, but because of a genuine inner reaction to the solemnity of the occasion and at least some understanding of its national and historic significance. A sad memory yes, but a deeply etched and treasured one.

I don't recall the occasion of first hearing Miss Haskins' words but I've known them for most of my adult life. When we used to run Christmas and New Year house-parties here in France, we always had a New Year's eve celebration during which her words would be read out. Then, as now, it is difficult to read them without a lump in the throat and misted eyes. Of course this reaction is partly due to nostalgia, but there is more to it than that. The words are stirring as an affirmation of the faith of an English king, with which he knew he could inspire the Nation in the face of the physical and moral threat of the war ahead of us.

It occurred to me last night that the words are even more important now, when Faith itself is being systematically attacked and eroded by an ever growing number of Britons themselves, many of whom are in dangerous positions of power and influence.

With gratitude and admiration I pray that the souls of Minnie Louise Haskins and of King George VI may rest in peace.

I pray to all our British saints and martyrs for the British Isles and their inhabitants.

St. Michael defend us in these days of spiritual battle and help us to 'put on the whole armour of God't.

Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and may Your Face journey with us.


Friday, January 1, 2010

"The Gates of Hell shall not prevail...."; and the Anthem of the Holy See: Two stirring videos for New Year's Day

Thanks to Fr. Anthony Ho who alerted me to these YouTube videos by posting them on his own blog. I dedicate them to Pope Benedict, the Swiss Guard and the Papal Gendarmes.

A holy, peaceful and happy New Year to you, our beloved Holy Father Benedict and may God bless all who protect and defend you. With the assurance of the prayers, love and filial loyalty of all at this Anglo-French Oasis and at the Spiritual Mothers of Priests blog. In Jesus Christ, Emmanuel and our Saviour. Amen

Sacrosancta Ecclesia Dei - the Gates of Hell shall not prevail

Pontifical March - Anthem of the Holy See

A commenter on this second video seems to indicate a rumour that the Papal Gendarmes are to be given a stronger role in protecting the Pope. If true, it is excellent news.

Happy New Year again everyone. Follow the example of our wise and holy Pope. Long may he lead, guide, teach and counsel us. Be strong and of good courage.