Monday, May 30, 2011

Pope Benedict receives Cardinal Ouellet in private audience 28/5

These Saturday afternoon meetings are probably just routine but............................................. Please continue your prayers for the Diocese of Rodez and for the priests who wrote to Cardinal Ouellet.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Attaingnant - Pavane de la Guerre

We celebrated our 23rd Wedding anniversary yesterday

And in spite of having remembered during the last week, that it was imminent we both forgot all about it until lunch time. In the next post I'll share the music I had at the opening processional - Susato's 'Pavane - La Bataille' - not chosen for its title I might add, although it caused much amusement at the time, and still does. A simple, stirring and very effective tune. Had to go down to the Westminster Music library for a copy of the 'dots'.  I was surprised to find so many versions on You Tube. This one is at about the tempo we had, although too heavily 'ornamented' for my taste.  Some of the other versions are so fast that I would have had to run, rather than 'pavane' down the aisle. And some whilst at Pavane tempo are ponderous rather than stately. The (then) Landlord of the nearby Antelope gave a superb rendition of  the trumpet solo, accompanied by our (St Mary's Cadogan St. Chelsea) resident organist/musical director. One of our basses had acquired a tambour for the occasion and his contribution added to the Renaissance flavour of the whole thing.. Enough of the memories for today, maybe more next year.

We've had our skirmishes over the last 23 years, but never a serious battle,.for which we both give thanks to God.

May He continue to bless us, and or course, all here.

In Christo pro Papa


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Msgr Fonlupt and Rodez priests' letter to Rome: update

I've now had time to look carefully at the news I received in morning inbox. It seems that the news emanates from an independent blog entitled Osservatore Vaticano.  The relevant pages are in French, and if you need translation the Google translate button produces enough for you to get the main ideas of what has been sent to the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. I've examined the blog and it looks respectable and prudently reasoned.  Its author one 'Vini Ganimaria' had already been in contact with the priests who wrote the letter to Cardinal Ouellet, and it is they who supplied him with a copy.

The content of the letter first:

I noticed straight away that nowhere does it actually mention specific concern about the Rodez appointment, only insofar as it is the fourth recent French episcopal appointment that seems to be in direct opposition to the Holy Father's mind. The speak on behalf  of all French orthodox Catholics. Apart from this lack of an appeal on their own specific diocesan behalf, the letter is a forceful attempt to warn the Congregation's Prefect of the damage to the French Church these appointments will do. Its clear message is that appointments such as Msgr Fonlupt's will only hasten the decline of the Faith and its practice in France. These priests express themselves as finding the appointments 'incomprehensible' and 'unintelligible'.. The Church continues to diminish where abuses are allowed and encouraged, and where bishops express outright disagreement with the Magisterium. On the other hand, the Church is beginning to breathe again where priests and people are uniting themselves behind Pope Benedict. The letter is a heart rending plea that the Holy See pays attention to an extremely grave situation. The health of French Catholicism depends on the appointment of bishops who will respond to her true needs and hopes.

The composition of the letter's group signatories:
As mentioned earlier the group would have been much larger had it not been a matter of urgency to send the letter with all possible despatch.

However, of the 21
'They are perfect representatives of the 'living force' in French Catholicism. there are 4 religious, 2 members of Ecclesia Dei Institutes, and 15 diocesans priests.. some have been recently ordained and some have been priests for more than 20 years. Nearly all of them are under 50 years of age. In a word they are representative of the new generation" Their letter referred to this as the 'Benedictine' generation.

One can only hope and pray that His Eminence has taken heed and mentioned the letter during the private audience he had with Pope Benedict during the past week.

Apologies for any typos.  This has had to be done in great haste as am due to go out in about an hour.  

Rodez and Msgr Fonlupt: News in yesterday's L'Osservatore

21 priests of the Rodez diocese have written to Cardinal Ouellet. They range in age. Some newly ordanined and others have been priests for 20 years. There would have been more than 21 but the group's organiser was conscious of the urgent need to contact the Cardinal as quickly as possible.They ask the him to give them a bishop after the Pope's heart. The full text of the letter has been sent to me. I have not yet had time for anything more than a quick scan. Will post on this again later today.

Friday, May 27, 2011

My ways are not your 'ways of being Church'........................

Perhaps enough said tonight, but the people who use this essentially protestant expression as an identifying battle-cry within the true Church, are now brazen enough to use it in demonstration of their true colours.  By their catch phrases shall ye know them. Lord, how I dislike  this one in the mouths of people who claim to be Catholic and yet want it taken for granted that their opinion is as worthy of respect and consideration as  that of the Pope. If the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth then their view is,. ultimately and essentially, not catholic.  To these people the Pope is just another thinker, with whom they may disagree at will. They would do the entire planet a favour were they to emulate the humility of our present Holy Father, and put that virtue and three other very Christian and catholic words back into their vocabulary: that is, authority, obedience and self-discipline. I think it may have been Cardinal Burke who recently intimated that without these virtues, all efforts towards true charity will be lacking in force. (btw Chamomile is the plant of humility. The more it is trodden upon, the more it flourishes.)

End of rant. Tired again and going to bed.. I usually regret 'rants' in the morning. We shall see.


In Christo pro Papa


Rome, May 2011: On first seeing Michelangelo's 'Pieta' and subsequent reflections

This is the image that had been in my head for over half a century. I don't know when it first registered in my consciousness, possibly in some small statue reproduction in the Sheffield Repository opposite, what is now St. Marie's Cathedral, or maybe it was in a CTS devotional booklet of Stations of the Cross.. I don't think, when I first saw it, that I knew it was by Michelangelo, was one of the most famous sculptures in the world, or that the original work was in St Peter's Basilica.. Sir Kenneth Clark's ground breaking 'Civilisation' series on BBC TV, is bound to have opened my eyes further, and as the years went on I came to know exactly what this amazing piece is, and where it resides. But somehow, until May 3rd this year, it was still something 'out there', something I would never see or know in reality. We tend to be fooled into thinking that because we've seen things on TV or film, once or many times, that we really know them..The image above is  entirely divorced from its acual surroundings. Its presentation encourages study of it as a work of art, and one is astonished at Michelangelo's knowledge of human anatomy and his genius in portraying it in sculpture. On a deeper sprtitual level, the image cannot fail to inspire and aid prayer. So the above picture is what I imagined I would see on the afternoon of May 3rd this year when I visited St Peter's Basilica for the first time.

The above picture more accurately records what I actually saw, although the Pieta itself is clearer in my memory than shown here. To be in the presence of this holy artifact was humbling and soul-stilling beyond words. To say that it is an inspiration to prayer, miserably understates the case. 
What is striking about this image, once you adjust to the lack of deliniation, is the sense of depth it gives - of.the distance between the pillar in the right foreground and the slit of light from a window in the left background. At first sight you could be fooled, by the camera's foreshortening effect into 'seeing' a flat' picture, whereas the photo demonstrates otherwise. It gives an idea of the size and depth not only of the chapel of the Pieta, but of St. Peter's Basilica itself. Moreover the Pieta  is not seen as an isolated museum exhibit, as in the first image. It breathes and beats as integral to the heart of the Universal Church. .

The space between the aforementioned pillar and the marble altar rail is at least as wide as the naves of most of our larger parish churches, and that afternoon it was a thronging mass of people. Similarly the photo shows considerable depth between the rail and the Pieta, then between the Pieta and the large cross on the reredos wall behind it, and then finally the space beyond that wall.

One could hardly move in the press of the crowd. Whilst we waited a chance to go forward and kneel at the marble rail, we leant against the barrier behind us with our backs to the main nave, and MS told me some history of the Pieta and of how when it was first shown, it did not gain the attention it warranted. Michelangelo, on overhearing a conversation which revealed ignorance of his 'authorship',  had autographed it across Mary's sash. He later  repented this as the prideful defacement of his own work.

The figures of the dead Christ and of Mary appear quite natural, even though they are in fact totally out of proportion. (I think MS said that Mary would be about 10 feet tall if she stood up. He said he thought that Michelangelo had wanted to convey the all-embracing love and protectiveness of Mary for her Son. Whatever the reason, only the genius of the sculptor enabled him to 'pull' this visual trick. It would in any case have been difficult to portray elegantly, the body of an adult male in the lap of a woman.. )

It is almost a shock to come to the  Pieta so soon after long queueing to enter the Basilica, even though one knew its location. (See St Peter's ground plan in next post) As we stood before the Pieta MS told me that immediately to its right is the private sacristy where the Pope vests before beginning to process down the nave to celebrate Mass. This chapel or sacristy is not marked on any of the plans I have seen and I certainly hadn't noticed a door into it, although there must be one. I've often wondered where the Pope comes from when he starts procession fully vested, up the nave. As we stood waiting MS told me that he'd once had the privilege of being in a team who had assisted at such a vesting of Pope Benedict. Apparently, after the recessional, and returned to this sacristy, the Pope distributes some of the vestments he has worn, as gifts to the deacons who have assisted him at the altar of celebration. MS was speaking very softly, but thinking that he was some kind of official guide, people gathered closely around us to listen . This embarrassed MS I think. I just stood there feeling rather stupid and very proud. If memory serves correctly, I think one of the group expressed thanks for having been able to learn these facts.

Another surprising thing was that when I finally knelt to pray, I was totally undistracted by the bullet proof panel of glass which protects the chapel (denoted in the photo by a thin black line down the centre of the image.) I simply did not 'see' it, even though I knew it was there, and why. On Pentecost Sunday in 1972 the 'Pieta' was attacked by a crazed geologist, who shouting out 'I am Jesus Christ' did severe damage with his professional hammer. Afterward the statue underwent extensive restoration, which included the replacement of Mary's broken nose, made from  a piece taken from her 'back' The glass panel has been in place since the completion of this work.


I left Rome with no souvenir of the Pieta, except the vivid memories described above.
Two days after I reached home, I found amongst the mail that had arrived in my absence, a plant catalogue from one of my favourite suppliers. They had listed a page of newly stocked roses. My eye was immediately drawn to 'Michelangelo' and of course it just had to be ordered. This would be my souvenir. It arrived yesterday. I don't expect it will bloom this year but it will always cause me to relive the reality of the Pieta, to feel once more the atmosphere of St Peter's and to pray to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother. 

    The Rose 'Michelangelo'. Souvenir of the 'Pieta' in Rome.

Our Lady of the Pieta, pray for us.
Lord have mercy upon us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Vox Populi' and Vatican seem to be joining forces in pressure to remove that dreadful 'statue' of Bl. John Paul II

See Rome Reports in sidebar here. Cardinal Ravasi is deliciously urbane in the relevant video interview but the message is loud and clear. 'Get rid of it, in the least possible time and with the least possible fuss.'

Next post tomorrow. Today has expired. It has been the hottest of the year so far - 32 degrees. My two clumps of Madonna lilies are blooming. Praying they survive the heat for a display in church on the Feast of the Visitation next Tuesday,
In Christo pro Papa


Apologies for inadvertantly ruffling feathers with my last post

Thanks to GOR, a commenter on the previous post, one is now assured that Luke Coppen's  'Morning must-reads' will return to the Catholic Herald site this coming Monday (May 30th). Strikes breast three times - 'Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa' !

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Editor of the London Catholic Herald on holiday for much longer than he predicted.

I look daily for Luke Coppen's return.. Is he in good health? What's happened to the CH 'Morning's 'must reads'? What's going on? Is William Oddie about to return as Editor? Or have I missed something?

The times, at last, are definitely 'achangin'

YES, one is very definitely encouraged to believe it, Deo gratias.
1. Liturgy::
See Fr Tim's post at 'The Hermeneutic of Continuity' on last Sunday's Pontifical Mass in the EF  at St Peter's Altar of the Chair. I watched it after the Pope's live Regina Coeli  broadcast and was astounded and reduced to tears of joy and relief by the powerful witness of the images.. Fr Tim links to hundreds of them. Thank you, Father. The wind of change is definitely apparent, and not just to the Romans.
2. Morals:
See 'Protect the Pope' on the Vatican reclamation of its own Aid Agencies, particularly on its recent decisive  actions re. Lesley Ann White and Fr Timothy Radcliffe.Thank you Deacon Nick, according to whom, Cardinal Bertone addressed the International Caritas meeting in place of the former master of the Dominicans. I understood that the preacher of the Papal Household, Fr Cantalamessa would also give a homily at the Caritas meeting. I  look forward to full texts of all contributions as they are made available (probably at Zenit) during the coming days.


In Christo pro Papa,


DV, tomorrow, more Roman 'emotion recollected in (relative) tranquility' e.g, reflections after viewing the Pieta; and the Altar of the Falsehood..

Bishop of Toulon, (France) ordains deacon in the EF

Christophe Saint-Placide, (see left sidebar here) has a post entitled 'A little spoken-about event' (my trans.). There is a brief textual report and some rather beautiful photos. Apparently  the Ordination took place in Toulon Cathedral two days before the promulgation of the UE

Monday, May 23, 2011

Roman Surprises 2 (to me anyway): Rigatoni and St Joseph's Chapel

Over the hectic but very enjoyable pre-Blogmeet lunch, I learned why the Romans favour rigatoni as being short tubes ahead of spaghetti strings.  It is simply because the hollow tubular construction of the former, allows it to absorb the flavoursome juices from the sauce with which it is served. The hollow bit is of greater diameter than in macaroni and so is more effective. Not only that, but none of the sauce is wasted and left swimming around on the plate when the pasta has been eaten.It is as logical and explicable as the French habit of marinading meat for hours before it is committed to the oven, or the 'fire' as it is always called in old recipe books.. As as an Anglo and Franco cook I've never had the time for proper study of the specifics of  pasta cuisine. Anyway it's not the sort of thing most modern recipe books would tell you. Another factor in this Roman business-person's lunch-time pasta preference, is that rigatoni  is more easily eaten without spillage down ones clothes, which are thus kept impeccable for the return to the office in the afternoon. I had the impression that had I chosen a spaghetti dish, I should definitely have given myself away as a non-Roman.tourist. That factor is of no relevance in my decision to cook with rigatoni in the future. The vastly improved flavour over the old stand-by 'spag. bol', most definetely is.

Like many visitors I thought that the Blessed Sacrament was only reserved in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where It is exposed all day between the morning Mass and the 5pm one. You can see the noble proportions and lofty ceiling of this chapel in the photograph below.

On the afternoon of my visit,  the Basilica and the Chapel were so crowded that the latter felt almost claustrophobic and much smaller than it is in reality. I suppose it must have been about 4.14pm when we entered and knelt to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. We did not stay for the Mass because of my Seminarian's limited time and because we fully believed that I would be able to attend Mass in St Peter's the following morning before the General Audience.I suppose at about 5pm, he led me to St Joseph's chapel which is beyond the Sacristy on the other side of the nave, telling me as we approached it that most people don't reallise  the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there too, although firmly hidden in the tabernacle. I think he realised that if he didn't find somewhere quiet and unpopulated, I would probably collapse or explode. It was entirely due to his sensitivity because I gave no indication of how I felt inside. And so we came to the chapel of St Joseph

It was even less populated than in the above photo, although I don't know how those people with bare arms managed to get in on the occasion when it was taken. It must have been a very hot day and the Swiss Guards were feeling less inclined to enforce the 'dress code' than is normally their wont.

But oh, on May 3rd, what blessed balm of peace and solitude whilst the 'madding crowd' beat by, only a matter of yards to our right , but now amazingly they were totally unheard. In the silence it was suddenly possible to pray for them all, to realise the enormity of where I was, and with Whom..
The photo at the head of this post shows the pew in front of the one where I knelt that afternoon. I was aware that there was a nun in front of me too. But that is all. Reflecting now, I wonder whether perhaps there is an Order which makes sure that Our Lord is never left unattended in this chapel of His foster father.

I am sorry that this description is so inadequate.
We must have been there for at least ten minutes, and then we went down to the Grottoes by a way other than the two I knew about. DV, more of that  and other surprises tomorrow. In the meantime, God bless all here.

In Christo pro Papa,


A thread of hope for the French Diocese of Rodez?

This afternoon's email from VIS reports that the Pope received the Prefect of the Congregation for bishops in private audience, on Saturday May 21.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oasis Update; and memories of the 'Eternal City'

Please forgive sparse and sporadic posting over the past week. Not until last night was I able to solve at least part of the computer problems that have beset and frustrated me this week.Thanks to guidance from Mac, who possesses the patience of Job, I've been able to install Google Chrome. This has meant that I can again access my own dashboard, a facility that had been lost on Saturday morning, on top of not being able to post directly to the blog of 'The guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma', another problem which had plagued me all week..Anyway things should look up now, and with thanks to dear Mac, I'll leave further explanations and 'return' to Rome.

As you know the recent visit, was my first. During my four days in Rome, I learned many  things which intrigued and surprised me. Seasoned visitors to the Eternal City may disregard my reports and find nothing new in them, but I will submit them over coning day in case they  may give others information they do not already regard as in the 'well of course we all know that' category. These things fall into three areas: The present Pope and his Blessed predecessor; facts about the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica; and general things observed about Roman culture. I listed 18  points in my notebook and will deal with only one tonight.. Much of this information was gleaned from the fact that I was privileged to have as my guides, two people who have lived in Rome for several years, one a journalist and the other a seminarian.

1. Blessed John Paul II
 As we passed the relatively huge part of the transept of St. Peter's which is devoted to Confessions, my Seminarian said to me that John Paul had come down there quite frequently, and  anonymously, to hear  Confessions .  Many thoughts raced through my head at this information, two of which were: 1. why should I be surprised to hear this? As a priest of Jesus Christ, he could not do otherwise. He must bind and loose according to his priestly vows. As Successor of Peter, he should be doing that, and he could not and would not neglect, or be prevented from the execution of this part of  his sacred function, least of all because of the trappings of being Pope. 2. How many people would have recognized the voice of their  Blessed Confessor, and how many would have not? For those who did recognize it, had any of them been in the Square on May 1st? Highly likely that they were . I  couldn't begin to contemplate in any depth how they must have felt. And yet I faced it for that fleeting moment in St Peter's on the afternoon of May3.
Then I asked my seminarian whether he thought that Pope Benedict did this too. His answer: 'Well it's possible,  (and of course I thought it was more than likely, for the same reasons that  Blessed John Paul had done it), but we won't know until after he has died.

Tomorrow, DV,  Rigatoni and St Joseph's chapel in St. Peter's plus more, if I can get up to steam.

In Christo pro Papa


Friday, May 20, 2011

First female blogger has at last arrived on the Guild of Blessed Titus

She apologises for this extremely late representation of her gender. But despite the best efforts of Laurence, Dylan and Richard (the Linen) Collins, she has been jinxed all week by techno-problems which have still not all been solved.

As someone said, where is Mac, where is Red Maria? I do like men, but some sisterly company would be welcome!

Benedict XVI: Spiritual Direction is Needed

See also Zenit article on this papal address.
And you might like to investigate this site if you are without a spiritual director or having difficulty in finding one
And this and this.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Emperor's new clothes: That horrible statue in Rome:

Who is the mayor of Rome trying to kid?
If you haven't already been exposed to this atrocity, please see The Hermeneutic of Continuity (Fr Tim Finigan) and WDTPRS (Fr  Z ) in the sidebar here.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Feast of SS Dunstan, Ethelwold and Oswald least for old calendarians! They did so much for the Faith in England that  it's quite shocking they are not even afforded a Memoria in the present English and Welsh calendar.  I wanted to post, at least about St. Dunstan tonight, but technical problems prevented. Perhaps tomorrow.

Still no news about bishop elect Fonlupt of Rodez; and the French Bishops conference hasn't exactly been informative or enlightening about Universae Ecclesiae. (see sidebar and look under 'evenements'.) Well it WAS an evenement for us! But as usual most of the French faithful will not know about it.

In the meantime, GBAH

In Christo pro Papa

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Rodez/Fonlupt affair and other important French connections including an astounding video on the life of St Therese of Lisieux

I continue to chase up news of any developments in this affair and will post anything I find ASAP.


THE BEST FRENCH ORTHODOX CATHOLIC BLOG This is recommended. It is  Le Blog de Christophe Saint-Placide 'Summorum Pontificum' The author has been in Rome at the recent Conference on Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio, and is just getting back to steam. Find him, towards the top of left sidebar here.

VIDEO ON ST THERESE OF LISIEUX 'THE STORY OF A SOUL' (Bonne Pioche TV in collaboration with kto tv)
This is an absolute tour de force one- woman performance. The actress plays the parts not only of St Therese herself, but also of her parents, The Pope, other nuns of the Lisieux Carmel and many others in her story. Even if you don't understand French it's power will reach you. It's 55 minutes long.

There is a direct link but it's six lines long. Better to give you the following directions
Google kto tv
Choose their 'Programmes' link
On this page in the left sidebar 'Dernieres Videos' click 'L'Histoire d'une Ame'

Alternatively the film will be repeated tonight on kto at 22.01 (UK time) Reach it by googling kto tv and clicking the 'Accueil' choice.

Also new in sidebar is a link to the site of the French Bishops Conference. I've had a brief look but have not yet found any reference to the Vatican Blogmeet, or to the UE instruction. Will look again this evening. Meanwhile if anyone finds anything that the French Bishops may have said about either of these things, I'd be grateful for comment.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Guild of Blessed Titus is now up and running! Deo Gratias

Thanks to Laurence and Dylan.
See sidebar here.
Have promised to post on it at the weekend. Now back to other pressing tasks.

God bless all here.

In Christo pro Papa

Antonio Bertali : Regina Coeli (Folia)

Just so there's no 'dead air'!

Working on article about the Vat Blogmeet for S.E. Charente news Bulletin

So with apologies, have to report that won't post here again until tomorrow evening, DV.


In Christo pro Papa

ZENIT - Aide: Pope's New Audience Series on PRAYER is Attracting Attention

ZENIT - Aide: Pope's New Audience Series Attracting Attention

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Latin Mass Card. Brandmüller Rome 2011 Saint Peters Basilica - Ite Missa...

That congregational Deo Gratias at the end sounds like Mac at Blackfen. Don't tell me she managed to sneak away and get there! If so it's no wonder her 'Monsignori' had nearly killed a bird in her absence. At least she was home in time to save the poor critter.

In Christo pro Papa

Latin Mass Card. Brandmüller Rome 2011 Saint Peters Basilica - Gospel

Pontifical Mass in Latin -- St. Peter's Basilica


For more details see Sandro Magister (third up from the bottom of left sidebar here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thanks to my 'dogs in doublets'; h/t to the Anchoress for this post title

I'm too tired to do any more tonight  aside from this. I will re-engage the battle tomorrow and later resume the series of posts on my Roman experience. But for now, what exactly is a 'dog in a doublet'? The Anchoress (Elizabeth Scalia), who thanks be to God has recovered from temporary illness, posted today an Eric Partridge-type list of old slang. 'A dog in a doublet' gives its period away by the item of male clothing mentioned. Anyway, the definition given is: 'a daring resolute fellow'. You can just see them strutting about Shakespeare's Southwark, can't you (Paul, Laurence, Dylan and James, furiously and productively arguing with each other.). The definition of  a  'dog in a doublet' does not specify youth, but it was the young, or relatively young, who sprang immediately to mind when I read this. Our priestly bloggers deserve a post of thanks on their own and Father Z is already too venerable to be included as a 'dog' of this kind! Thank God he was able to blog in isolated splendour yestersday, whilst Blogger bloggers were rendered mute. His voice on the podcast was incredibly soothing

So thanks to you, my 'dogs in doublets': that is Paul Priest, Laurence England, Dylan Parry and James Preece, even though you do not always agree with each other, and at times I may not be entirely comfortable with the style of what you do and say, I thank God for the gifts He has given you, and pray you well.

In Christo pro Papa,


The 'Morris-like' bishop-elect of Rodez France. How on earth did this happen?

First, this appointment  seems to be (from the description of the bishop-elect given by Valle Adurni) a catastrophic and totally unaccountable act on the part of 'the eldest daughter of the Churchi'.  The Pope has only just 'removed' Australian Bishop Morris after years of quiet negotiation, during which theVatican had tried repeatedly to persuade him to resign. After all that trouble why is a similarly dissenting bishop now appointed to a French diocese, and moreover one that is not known to have a history of heterodoxy? Suspecting that the Congregation for Bishops had been atrociously misled by the terna from Paris, I turned to "my friend in Rome" hereinafter MFIR. I refer to him thus to answer his need for anonymity.
The rest of this post is based on what he was able to tell me.

MFIR assured me that the problem had indeed arisen from a misleading Terna, and that those who, even before this incident, wished to see the responsible Nuncio replaced, may soon have their desire fulfilled. Cardinal Ouillet is now perfectly well aware that he was wrong to have trusted the Terna and that 'mistakes' of this magnitude therefore will NOT be repeated in future, at least not while the present Nuncio remains in post.. In any case there is great concern amongst the priests of the diocese of Rodez about this appointment.  If there is to be a change, will the Vatican be able to find a replacement Nuncio strong enough to resist pressure brought to bear on him by the 'liberal' wing of the Church in France? MFIR felt it unlikely that the decision would be reversed.

My comment:
Whoever was behind this successful attempt to trap the Holy See into appointing a bishop as far away from the mind and wish of Pope Benedict as is Hans Kung, has achieved something he or they could only do once. They are people who have got their way by the playing of a dishonest trick which makes both Cardinal and Pope look foolish and not at all with their fingers on the pulse. But the players of this dastardly hand  against truth, have now blown any cover they may have had. As to the decision being reversed, Pope Benedict has done something similar once before in the case of Fr Wagner's not after all being appointed a Bishop because of local liberal opposition to his traditionalism. Perhaps the Holy Father will use this opportunity to again reverse a locally unpopular choice. Ishall have a keen eye of the VIS list of people the Pope will see privately next week. In the meantime please join me in praying  for the priests and people of the Rodez diocese.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Universae Ecclesiae: Catholic Herald reports on Archbishop Nichols' 'wet blanket'

As already indicated, shortly after noon today,  I was very grateful for Fr Z's podcast and comments. My initial reaction was that although, as he had already flagged, there were some very good things about the UE, I felt that the section about teaching the EF is seminaries was by no means forceful  enough and that its polite phrasing would allow certain bishops who have demonstrated their opposition to SM, at the very least, by inaction over the 3 years since its promulagation, to treat this UE clarification in exactly the same way.

Unfortunately I didn't have to wait long to have these fears substantiated. Mid-afternoon the Catholic Herald launched a debate on whether English seminaries should teach the EF. I've been back to look at it again and I'm sure the original wording has been changed. I distinctly remember from that first reading that Archbishop Nichols had said that he perceived no pastoral need to teach the EF in English seminaries........ No link was given to where, when or to whom he had made this statement. (Very un-Herald-like) Nevertheless, the first 9 comments were obviously answering the item that I had read and all of them said they thought that ++Nichols was wrong to say this. (There are now 11 comments and only one is in support of his attitude.) Anna Arco now has a more detailed report on the Herald site and it seems that the Archbishop's remarks were indeed made at a Press Conference earlier today. Interesting that the recent deliberations of the  BCEW  at Leeds received equal attention with the UE matter, although it seems clear to me that no notice has been taken of the new nuncio's exhortation and advice to follow Pope Benedict.

I am really very saddened by Archbishop Nichols. In his first interview with the BBC after his appointment to Westminster, he acknowledged Tony Blair as a clever politician, but affirmed that he personnaly would be following Pope Benedict. It was an encouraging and brave start, but I'm afraid not one borne out in his reaction to subsequent events and issues.

Many of us know that at least at the English College and N.A.C. in Rome, young seminarians have to keep their traditional leanings below the parapet, or risk being thrown out. (This has been going on since the 70s  and although now less oppressive than heretofore,  it is still the case, certainly in my personal knowledge.) Until that situation ceases and seminary staff stop working against the Pope we will not get much further, UE or no UE.

As far as England and Wales are concerned, today has demonstrated that our bishops either totally misunderstand the vision of Pope Benedict and what he is trying to do., or they are died-in-the-wool opposed to him. He is after all the supreme 'law-giver'.The BCEW does not seem to acknowledge that. Is this because of a faulty quasi/protestant interpretation of collegiality? I think that may be so.  A long time ago I posted on this blog that collegiality could work for the good, only if bishops were in collegiality WITH the Pope, not AGAINST him.   There is only one Pope, not a pope per diocese.

Archbishop Nichols' statements today, for a man who has been so involved with Education, seemed totally to miss the fact  that when you train people to anything, you have to be agreed on your priorities. You start at the beginning and you train to that end. You don't let  the most important things be an option for later. You explain what those options are from the beginning, and how much they matter. It's just, I fear, that Archbishop Nichols'  priorities are very different and that he is so far from Pope Benedict's mind.

I am horrified at having to post in apparent criticism of an Archbishop. I'm sure you all know how hard I have striven over past years not to do that. But in the end there is a limit. At least it looks as if we may have Epiphany and the Ascension restored to us.

Perhaps more tomorrow,
God bless all here

In Christo pro Papa


Blogshock, the UE and a sad indication from Archbishop Nichols (see Catholic Herald).

Blogger restored itself about an hour ago, in the middle of my preparing supper. DV will post again in about an hour.Where would we have been without Father Z?!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tomorrow's "Universae Ecclesiae"

Yesterday I'd already decided not to post tomorrwo, Friday 13 May. Like  most readers for whom it is a possibility, I will (DV) be glued to the Vatican Bollettino at noon tomorrow, will be spending the afternoon digesting the document and following the comments on other blog. I expect that you will be similarly occupied.

As you know I intended to post today about the Tuesday of my recent Roman experience. Therefore you can imagine my dismay upon discovering at 11am this morning that I could not access my Blogger dashboard. I worked  hard to restore it for a couple of fevered but unsuccessful hours, before giving up in frustration that I could not keep my promise to you. Awareness of the gremlin responsible for such  incidents, is what causes me always to put DV when announcing intended posts. (This is at least the third time the said Mr g. has had the better of me, and I hereby announce that in future, if I fail to post as promised it will be because he has managed to find another chink in the system.!)

Other commitments for the rest of today make it sensible not to post again until Saturday unless there are any easy video snippets. (Last night's was put up to remind me that kneeling for prayer is something I've wanted to post about for a long time.)

With a very loud and emphatic DV,
I remain yours in vast relief,


In Christo pro Papa

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pope explains why we kneel during prayer

Pope explains why we kneel during prayer

Forced and necessary: a day's break from blogging intensity!

Today will be busy and time consuming from a domestic point of view. It's also necessary to 'recharge batteries' before continuing to record and relive the recent Roman experience, particularly since last Tuesday and Wednesday were even more intense and penitential than the first two days, already described in earlier posts below.
(Favourable reports continue to reach me about the Westminster bloggers' meeting last Saturday. Thanks and congratulations to Dylan and friends. Hope to do my own post about this early next week.)

DV, until tomorrow then, God bless all here.

In Christo pro Papa


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rome May 2011: Mainly Spiritual Reflections (plus more reactions to the Vat. Blogmeet) Part 3


One thing I did not mention in the last post was the nagging worry and lack I had felt about not having been to Mass the previous day. In one sense I was firmly in control of practical matters, in another I was completely out of control of events as they were unfolding. I had made a Spiritual Communion during the TV broadcast of the Beatification and given myself into Our Lord's will. Today perhaps He would provide the opportunity.

I rose relatively late on that second morning and whilst preparing to go down for breakfast learned from the TV  of Osama Bin Laden's killing by the Americans. That this news broke the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II made it easy to suspect that the hand of God had been at work in the business. On the other hand it was quite apparent to me that the timing of the event was politically motivated to give early and powerful muscle to President Obama's eventual election campaign. There was no vengeful rejoicing, either in my hotel room or in the Italian TV studio. My own first reaction was fear that this would set off international and violent Islamic reprisals  I prayed for Asia Bibi and the other Christians cruelly imprisoned for so-called contravention of Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws. After breakfast, I rang my husband for a brief exchange of views and then settled down to making some notes for the afternoon's blogmeet.

Paix Liturgique man (hereinafter referred to as PL) had originally said he would arrive to collect me at 1.30pm. An hour before that, still fearful that he may not turn up, I went down to the reception area to wait for him. I leave you to imagine the relief that flooded me when he arrived on time and we set off together to find some lunch.
He knew the area well as he had lived in it until March, when he had moved to the outskirts of Rome where the cost of living is much lower. On the way to the pasta place (used by local Romans and rare;y if ever, found by tourists), he told me what the Vatican had said that morning about how Christians should react to the killing of Bin Laden. Both of us were in full accord with the Vatican statement.. PL is a charming young Frenchman, totally dedicated to 'the Reform of the Reform' and married to a Roman wife, who he told me, had lost her Faith until the moment six years ago, when Joseph Ratzinger stepped out onto the central Loggia as Pope. PL  speaks fluent Italian and English and at a great rate of knots. With my French as well, we had no problem in communication. His speed of delivery and his knowledge, reminded me very much of the way in which my dear friend Paul Priest comments on blogs and writes his emails. Over lunch, which was the first hot meal I had eaten since the previous Friday night, we had an intense preliminary discussion about the composition of the list of invited bloggers that had been published by the PCCS. I had previously assessed that the anglophone bloggers all seemed to be pro-magisterium and loyal to the Pope.  PL confirmed that at least in France and Italy, the Anglophone blogosphere has an exemplary reputation in its intelligent understanding and infomed support of the Holy See, and  the Pontificate of Pope Benedict.. In other words this must have been noted by the Vatican itself. PL's superior knowledge of the Italian and French blogging and media scenes, enabled him to reveal a) that there were several non-catholics on the list, including one from the French section of the Salvation Army! and b) that there were one or two less orthodox French representatives.  I was glad to be prepared for this but wondered how it would affect the conduct of the afternoon. We agreed that the inclusion of a) and b) must have been the result of Vatican diplomacy, but wondered whether the meeting would be an attempt to bite off more than it could chew in the alloted four hours at its disposal. Neither of us drank wine over lunch. Wits had to be kept totally intact. (No alcohol passed my lips during the entire time I was in Rome and the water diet continued until Tuesday when I managed to buy some fruit juice!)

Several other matters were discussed over lunch, the details of which I expect will come back later. We walked as far as the station where PL had to buy tickets for a train journey the following day, and then took a cab to the Palazzo Pio X. We were running out of time and the driver took us an illegal but shorter way. Even so, we were stuck for several anxious minutes in a narrow sidestreet behind a stationary Roman dust cart and its human operatives, going about their lawful occasions in a maddeningly leisurely way.


1. In spite of Archbishop Celli's opening claim that this was NOT a meeting of Catholic Bloggers, I really think in the event that is the very thing that itt turned out to be. Catholic Bloggers were in a definite majority. All the speakers on both panels, and all but one of the questioners from the floor were convinced Catholics. I do think the Vatican had been genuine in its attempt at outreach to non-catholic Christians, and at the very least it thus covered itself agains possible accusations of exclusivity and of being inward-looking.

2. The meeting very definitely attempted too much in such a short space of time. It really warranted a day-long event. Added to this, the mixture of private independent bloggers and those official ones run by professional journalists, made it difficult to point up the very important differences between these two types of author. That said, there was no attempt on the part of the latter group , to monopolise the meeting. The sense of togetherness and community was uppermost throughout. A longer meeting would have allowed the important difference to become clearer. On the other hand, the opportunity to make personal contact with these journalists was a very definite plus. (For instance I am now in touch with one of the most important American ones.)

3. One was tremendously impressed when the Vatican official invited us to do something many of us,  already do, namely to help the Church fight and correct mainstream media  'misrepresentation' of the Pope, the Church and the Catholic Faith. It was salutary to learn about the difficulties the Holy See faces in the running of its own sites and media outreach. Encouraging also to learn about their plans in the very near future to put up a single site which will access all their outlets.(See Edward Pentin's earlier mentioned Zenit article.) In short the Church was gladly and graatefully accepting us as valued soldiers in the spiritual battle she has on hand.

4. The matter of the temptation to make one's blog into a platform for egotism was mentioned first by Elizabeth Scalia and Fr Lombardi took it up in his later address. I think it is something of which most of us are deeply conscious and try to avoid.  Nevertheless, I think he encapsuled it memorably in his motto-like conclusion: 'Service not Ego'.

5. I was very interested to listen to Fr Lombarrdi's comments. In the course of describing the difficulties and vast compass and responsibilities of his own job, it became clear to me that he knows all about the criticisms to which he is subject, and that people have sometimes found his public 'clarifications' of Papal actions and words, confusing rather than enlightening.  I detected a tiny element of self defensiveness here, and for goodness sake he has a right to that. In any case his bearing and his words were distingished by their humility and one could not help but be in sympathy with him.

6. I have already mentioned the lack of emphasis on spirituallly based blogs, and came away determined to sharpen the focas of my own blogs in that aspect.

7. The simultaneous final praying of the Our Father in at least ten vernaculars made us sound like a veritable 'tower of Babel', not the right effect at all. A golden opportunity was missed to celebrate and demonstrate the unifying power of Latin as the universal language of the Church at prayer in multi-national gatherings. The Holy Father has made great and educative strides in affirming Latin over the past six years. It was sad that although the Vatican followed his lead in making the meeting open to all, they did not follow his example as far as the use of Latin is concerned. It was probably done like this so that the few non-Catholics felt comfortable. I have to argue with that thinking. Now is not the time, but if anyone challenges me on this point, I will respond most vociferously!!

8. As the meeting began to break up, PL became surrounded by several members of the French Liberal catholic Press Corps. All very charming on the surface, but it was clear to him and also to me, what they were up to. I have to be careful here and may post at greater length about it on another occasion. However, it was a first practical demonstration to me, that being in favour of the EF involves much more in France than it does in England. Let us just say for the moment, that French Politics is involved to an extent which in no way applies to the situation of the British Catholic .

It was twilight when we left and neither of us was able to follow the group to a bar for drinks and relaxed conversation. After I'd found a necessary cash dispenser, PL hailed me a cab. It was dark by the time I arrived back at the hotel. Sadly still no Mass. Perhaps tomorrw, was again my fervent prayer.

To be continued tomorrow

God bless all here,

In Christo pro Papa,


Monday, May 9, 2011

Home from Rome 4: Personal Reflections Part 2 - "Finding my way Home"

"Finding my way home"
After returning here last Wednesday I had a long phone conversation with a dear priest friend in London. I thank Fr SY for this because it helped to clarify my thoughts before writing this post. We spoke of the way in which the word 'time' loses it commonly accepted meaning in Rome. Not for nothing is it known as the Eternal City. If you are an open channel, earthly time shows itself as meaning nothing there. At times it can simply disappear altogether, and heavenly time takes over, simply because Rome is, apart from Jerusalem, the nearest earthly place to eternal 'time'. The veil between human understanding of time and God's omniscient and 'Other' knowledge, is at its thinnest in these places. Rome showed herself to me like this on more than one occasion, but my experience of being lost in her streets on Sunday afternoon was a first demonstration of this her most special nature. I will try to describe it although words will
 Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still."
(T.S. Eliot - from 'Burnt Norton')

When I realised the helplessness of my situation, although I continued determinedly to put one foot in front of the other, I had no idea where their steps were leading me. I did not panic but  felt time suspending itself and began to experiece a totally different consciousness. (It was not hallucinatory; I experienced no vision', unless it is possible to have an unseen 'vision'!) I knew with an absolutely calm certainty that I, a lost sheep in both the physical and spiritual senses, would be found and carried home in the arms of our most beloved Good Shepherd and Redeemer. It truly ceased to matter whether 'home' would mean the end of my earthly existence.
"Not darkness to purify the soul
Emptying the sensual with deprivation
Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy........................"
(T.S. Eliot op. cit.)
If conscious when I come to die, I will remember the true reality of the experience and know it will help me to die ' a good and holy death'. Incidentally, amongst other things, largely overlooked this year, Sunday was the first day of Our Lady's month and one of St Joseph's feasts. I have been asking them both over a considerable time for their protection and intercession  as regards death. 

I do not know how long I wandered in this state because finally arrived safely at the hotel, I didn't look at my watch.
Back in my room I lay down to rest and to pray about what had just happened to me..............

I was woken by my mobile. To my delight and relief, it was the seminarian in Rome, with whom Father Mark Kirby had put me in touch just before I left France the previous day. He made an arrangement to pick me up at the hotel on the Tuesday and spend the afternoon with me. It began to look as if it would after all be impossible for me to attend the 'other' Blogmeet at the Scholar's Lounge, but really there was no choice for me between that and meeting S., particularly not, in my capacity as Spiritual Mother of priests and seminarians. (I remembered and prayed particularly for Ros (Shadowlands) at that point of immediate decision.) To protect his identity, he will simply be referred to as S. in the rest of these posts about Rome. Looking at my watch after his call, I was amazed to see that it was only 5.30. The whole of the afternoon's experience had taken less than two and a half earthly hours. Time truly did appear to have stopped during it.

Early to bed that night. I was still anxious  not to have had confirmation from my Paix Liturgique contact, who had promised by email to meet me at the hotel and go with me to the Vatican Meeting the next day. (It has since become apparent that the hotel failed to pass on emails or faxed messages to me. At least I received none whilst I was there.) Nevertheless, I fell into an immediate and deep slumber, healing to body and refreshing to spirit.

Next post, DV tomorrow: Onday May 2: Obama, Osama, Paix Liturgique and more reflections on the Vatican meeting. In the meantime as always, God bless all here!

In Christo pro Papa

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Home from Rome 3: Personal reflections on the recent 'pilgrimage' Part 1

First of all, I'm very pleased that everything seems to have gone so well yesterday at the Westminster Blogmeet to plan a possible 'Guild of Catholic Bloggers'. I won't comment on it until more reports appear on other blogs and don't expect to hear until this evening from my personal representative at the meeting.

Setting out, an the Day of Beaticication
I should not have dreamed of going, had I not been selected for invitation to the Vatican meeting. I went with only one expectation, and that was that it would not be easy. At least part of me wanted to stay in the comfort zone of home. I silenced that voice in my heart as lily-livered cowardice, but here are some of the thingst that made me wonder whether I was wise or equipped to go at all, or whether I was being foolhardy to take up the challenge. On the other hand I faced the possibility, if not the probability, that this may be the only chance I would ever have to see St. Peter's  and perhaps even the Pope at the Wednesday General Audience.
It would be my first time in Rome and I would be totally alone there. It would be brutally busy because of the Beatification. I would have to have wheelchair assistance at both airports because I can no longer manage stairs of escalators. My walking stick would be essential whilst in Rome, but at the same time would clearly announce my vulnerability to any ill-disposed witness of my halting progress through the streets surrounding the Vatican. The only confirmed event before I left home was the Vatican meeting, but even for that I had to be prepared to make my way there without assistance. I had a new mobile and a digital camera but apart from these was definitely electronically under-equipped.  Woud my presence be justified? Would there be opportunity to make a contribution? Was I being selfish in going when many others would be of more use in the place alloted to me? Even after the arrangements were made and there was 'no going back', these thoughts argued with each other in my head. By the time I set off on Saturday morning, I had decided to take the whole thing as a pilgrimage and had faith that I was in God's hands, my Guardian Angel would look after me and you would be praying for me.

On Saturday morning therefore, I left here with three emotions doing an odd battle within: serenity, anxiety and joyous excitement.

I write the rest of this as a log, because after all the word blog is a contraction of 'web log'. In this instance it's a sharing of parts of my 'spiritual' diary'. By its nature it thus involves more use of the first person, than I have usually employed in Oasis posting.

My fears about the journey itself proved totally unfounded because of the excellent care of airport staff - Air France at Bordeaux and Al Italia at Fiumicino - the latter delivering me direct to a taxi and helping me into it. This wheelchair experience was a first for me, and I learned something of what it must be like as a seriously disabled person. Parked by the check in desk in the departure lounge, I learned what is like to be unable to see what is going on behind , and to have one's weakness displayed before everyone there. It was not pleasant and I took that to heart as the first lesson of my pilgrimage.

It was dull, rainy and quite chilly when we arrived in Rome. The journey to the hotel, which was on the via Aurelia side of the Vatican, seemed to pass quickly and soon I caught my first glimpse of  the greyish bulk of the dome of St Peter's, momentarily dominating everything else in vision. Nothing felt real. I still didn't believe I was actually there.

I had been pre-warned by several people not to attempt St. Peter's Square for the Beatification and this advice was reinforced by a very kind and sensible young female receptionist. And so resigning myself to watching it on TV in the morning, learned how to operate all the electronic gadgetry in my room and began to settle in and calm down. Knowing the hotel only did breakfast, I'd brought a baguette sandwich from home and therefore dined on bread, ham and water. The ham was the only meat I ate in Rome. As you will see later, there was very definitely an element of fasting and abstinence, gladly accepted as appropriate to a pilgrim's diet. Night Prayer and then sleep. Unlike the Anchoress I slept soundly all the time I was there, sheer exhaustion overcoming excitement and anxiety. I continually thanked God for this blessing of peaceful sleep..My Angel obviously knew that I needed to be properly rested to face the minor trial of the following afternoon.

The Breakfast buffet was excellent and plentiful. On the tip of my friend Mary, I was able to pack enough away in my bag to keep body and soul together for the next 24 hours. At that stage I did not know whether there would be a chance to buy anything or eat elsewhere. After breakfast returned to the room,  settled down to The Office and then to watch the Beatification. The screen in my room was large and very clear. I tried several photos during the Beatification but do not know whether they will come out at all successfully. Probably not, but it was worth a try. In any case photos taken during the four days will probably not be posted until next weekend.

It was a strange experience, to watch on TV, something so moving and important to our faith, when it was taking place 5 minutes away. Also odd to sit alone in the quiet room whilst thousands were assembled with the Holy Father just down the road. Probably fear of the unknown and my own immobility were the only things that prevented me from breaking out and trying to get down there! The 'pull' was very great but had to be resisted. I think it may have been at that point that I began to accept just how much my physical and nervous capacity has been eroded by the passage of the 5years since my retirement and how blithely I had taken them for granted until then. It was a passing but serious prayer as the Beatification unfolded.

When it was over, another battle began to rage inside. Dylan and I had agreed by email to try and meet in the Square in the afternoon. I couldn't get his mobile number to work. Should I try to keep the appointment? Set off at about 3.30 and managed to get as far as the  Colonade before the crowds began to make progress difficult. I followed the Colonnade round to the entrance to the Square. By then it was very difficult to make any progress at all.There were barriers across the entrance to the Square. People were being allowed to exit from the side I came to first, and to enter by the farther side. It was mayhem. The ground underfoot was strewn with a filthy carpet of  ripped up newspaper, I suppose left by pigrims who had camped in the Square overnight. Fearful of slipping, of pickpockets, bagsnatchers and all the other dangers of which I'd been warned, I turned with bag round my neck and  clutched close to my body, and began the weary and rather frightened way back to the hotel. It was hot by then and those cruel and quite dangerous Roman cobbles, again which Mary had waned me about, began to take their toll. Someone at home had said 'You'll be able to use your stick as a weapon'. By now it was all I could do to walk with it at all, leave alone to crack someone over the head with it and start an 'incident'! Having crossed the road at the point where the Vaticah Wall ends, I went on a while and then realised that somehow I had missed my way. At a road crossing just before the station I asked a Policewoman for help. She spoke English but directed me entirely wrongly, and I ended up badly lost in the hilly network of streets surrounding the hotel. Whereas half an hour before , the press of crowds had made progress almost impossible, now, under a glaring sun, the sleepy lanes  of the Roman afternoon contained nobody to ask for help.

Tears were close and my legs were objecting to the demands being placed upon them, but there was no point in giving in. Obviously I did eventually find my way back, or you would not be reading this! All of life is a pilgrimage, but the perhaps hackneyed symbolism became a total reality in  the circumstances I was experiencing. One makes a pilgrimage in search of God, one listens for His 'Still Small Voice' , so that one may hear, love, fear and obey Him. In the last 15 to 20 minutes of my 'lost sheep' wandering on Sunday afternoon I learned so much and I will try to share it with you tomorrow and then continue to Monday and the meeting and so on................

God bless all here,
In Christo pro Papa

Friday, May 6, 2011

Home from Rome 2: The Vatican Blogmeet

I have read widely about the meeting over the last two days. Of the general reports I recommend Edward Pentin's 3 page piece for Zenit as being a most thorough and comprehensive treatment. As for the bloggers themselves, the general assessment seems to be that the Vatican scored a great success and I endorse that view. As you know, I was sceptical beforehand and had been irritated by the PCCS's assumption that many bloggers would be in Rome for the Beatification anyway.  Judging from several remarks made from the platform, I think they revised that opinion,  acknowledging the distances from which many of us had come and that we had made the effort to there simply because the Vatican, and by extension the Pope himself, had called us. We regarded the invitation as an honour and that we must therefore do everything we could to accept. I guess all of us felt a tremendous sense of responsibilty to the blogosphere which is our 'virtual' home and workplace and where many of our friends and colleagues also live and work.

When the programme of the meeting was published, some of the bloggers with whom I was in touch feared that it would all be very controlled and that we would be 'talked at' by various Vatican officials. I tended to share that expectation. Well, we now know that it wasn't at all like that. Hilary White gave an extremely honest and enthusiastic interview on Vatican Radio, in which she described her scepticism beforehand and her delight when it was melted by the way the Vatican officials welcomed us, by their genuine desire to listen to us, and to seek our help in their own dealings with and understanding of , the 'new media'. Hilary said that the Vatican approach to us was respectful and even humble. We were told that the Vatican had no intention of controlling what we write and that if they formed  a Free Association of Catholic Bloggers, accreditation to it would be totally voluntary on our part. The word 'free' was the operative one.

When I arrrived in the room with my Paix Liturgique friend, the first person we met was Dylan Parry (another of God's little providences) and we settled down at the left hand back table next to him. Dame Catherine Wybourne was immediately in front of us and it was great to meet her as we had agreed to do by email beforehand. Most of the people there were festooned with every kind of electronic gadgetry. In a way I was glad to be insufficiently geekified/nerdified. It allowed me to concentrate on what was going on in a different way. I had my headphones for the necessary translations. And that was enough. The first thing that communicated itself was the sense of a community, of people delighted to meet others whom they had only known on line until the Vatican gave us this chance to meet each other in reality. That was an added gift. Nobody seemed ill at ease. We were all geared up in our own way, and raring to go.

As you know I'm keen to avoid repetition of what you will have read on other blogs, so will concentrate here on things that have not been mentioned, or emphasised, elsewhere. They may sound like criticisms but they are not meant in that spirit.

First I think there was too much emphasis on the Social Networks, on Facebook and Twitter for instance. Most of us know that these activities are not the same as blogging. Blogs have a memory, archives etc. and they enable their followers to see the author reacting to different issus, and share the author's own spiritual journey. Spirituality brings me to another point. The emphasis was almost completely on the blog as a purveyor of news, not as a sharing of its author's spiritual pilgrimage. On this blog for instance, I do deal with current issues, particularly as they are caused by, or affect the Holy Father, but I try to make it more spiritual than temporal. There was absolutely no chance to mention this aspect, and sadly none to mention specialist sites like my Spiritual Mothers of Priests blog, founded as it was as the result of the Year for Priests initiative of the Congregation for Clergy. (That was another sad thing about the shortness of notice for the meeting. There was insufficient time to contact Cardinal Piacenza, although I did everything I could and faxed him a few days before I left for Rome.) I'm sure this aspect will come up when I eventually get round to contacting Dame Catherine again.

One of the priests speaking from the platform did say that running his blog was rather like building a parish community and I thought immediately of Father Mark who through his blog Vultus Christi , which is mostly spiritual, has managed to gather a group of Oblates and Friends of his small Benedictine Priory in Tulsa. He put us all on a private Facebook group and communicates monastery news to us in that way. Note, blog to Facebook, not the other way round. Someone else said that there was a need for digital Pastors on the blogosphere and I hope that idea will be taken up more widely..

I am glad we were not asked to fill in an evaluation form at the end of the meeting. (Shades of G.C.S.E Moderation meetings!) We all needed time to reflect but I do think it is right that we  let the PCCS have some grateful feedback in the coming days.

Finally, something has been chasing round inside my head since the meeting.And it was about the way the Vatican officials, including Archbishop Celli and Fr Lombardi, comported themselves, in the way they treated us. Last night I put together the following string of words: respect for the dignity and contribution of each blogger to the mission of the Church; gentleness and gentility, openness and a willingness , a desire to listen; holy charity, and humility, which many saints have taught is the beginning of all virtue. At this point I stopped, because I suddenly realised that these are the characteristics of our beloved Pope Benedict. They seen to be rubbing off  on his representatives. Looking back, it was almost as if he had been personally in the room.

And something I haven't seen mentioned anywhere. I think it was Archbishop Celli who invited us to close the meeting by praying the Our Father together, and then led us all in doing so.

Sorry about any mistakes. May tidy this up tomorrow.
God bless all here!

In Christo pro Papa

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vatican reaches out to bloggers and discuss mutual relationship

This video clip appears on Reluctant Sinner (Dylan Parry's blog) About 40 seconds in, you can see the two of us sitting next to each other on the back row. (I'm wearing black and have a red scarf round my neck) We had failed to meet the previous afternoon because the crowds made it impossible and I was forced to return to the hotel. It was an absolute delight to meet Dylan at the actual event and he is quite correct about our shared sense of humour! (see his relevant blogpost).

I returned home in the early evening yesterday in a state of nervous exhaustion. I wasn't particularly worried about being unfit to post here last night because I knew that other attendees would do so. As you see from the above clip, Dylan was electronically well equipped and blogged live as the meeting progressed. He had to leave the meeting early to catch a plane home. Up until that point the meeting had been very relaxed, but it became clear that time was running out and in the end the final q&a session was  a bit of a shambles and the questions had to be taken and a promise given to answer them later.. This is not meant as a criticism and congratulations are due to the Vatican organisers of the Blogmeet, as are sincere thanks for the way in which we were all welcomed.

I have spent the morning reading up on what has already been posted on other sites (which I trust you have already found) so that I do not waste time in repetition here on the Oasis. Anna Arco is amazingly cogent given her lack of sleep during these Roman days. (See Catholic Herald in sidebar here and find her article 'From Beatification to Blogmeet') Elizabeth Scalia reports on her site The Anchoress (also in the sidebar) that she suffered from insomnia throughoutt the trip. She also reproduces the text of her address at the Meeting. Quite simply we all need time for some reflection before we can post our analyses of the meeting. And if Anna Arco feels this, then you will please have to excuse me too! I will post on this tomorrow evening DV

Aside from the meeting itself, I need to post in a more personal way about my first pilgrimage to Rome. And it WAS really a pilgrimage, involving a considerable amount of penance mainly caused by my lack of easy mobility, stress and anxiety. It was indeed a physical and mental 'via Crucis' and I offered it up with joy and thanksgiving. I knew how many of you were praying for me and you did an excellent job! I felt you with me spiritually and prayed for you all at the 'Confessio' on Tuesday afternoon. I am so grateful to you. I owe especial thanks to Fr Mark Kirby who just before I left the Oasis on Saturday morning had put me in touch with a seminarian from the NAC. Without his company I probably wouldn't have done and seen all the wonderful things of Tuesday afternoon. Over the four days, I held onto my faith that each step was guided and protected by our Lord, His blessed Mother and my Guardian Angel.  So a report on my personal journey, and all the things I learned in Rome will follow on Sunday, DV.

There are several regrets, one being that I was after all unable to attend the other blogmeet at the Scholar's Lounge. My belated apologies to Hilary White. Fortunately, this morning on You Tube, I was able to watch the keynote address of Michael Voris.

Until tomorrow then, God bless all here
In Christo pro Papa