Friday, December 28, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas: a secret Catechesis?

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

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

And gifts two to 12 are explained as follows.

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

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I Fagiolini Striggio: Mass in 40 parts

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

Rorate Caeli - Francisco Guerrero

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

News from Father Mark

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Final thought before closing down

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

I regret the closure of the Oasis until next Friday.

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Apostolic Palace Security update

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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

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

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


Monday, December 10, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Is western society committing suicide? It would seem so

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

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

More on this tomorrow.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


 Introit for the Second Sunday in Advent

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

Have a happy and holy Feast day everyone.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Somehow, manage to keep going.

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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

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

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

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A tweeting Pope Benedict at the expense of what?

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I recently received this report from my dear friend Mrs Pat Greene, a member of St John Fisher parish in Birmingham, England.

"Spiritual Mothers

During the 'Year of the Priest', a small group of mothers in Birmingham, formed themselves into a group of 'Spiritual Mothers of Priests'. Since then, inspired by that legacy, they continued to pray for Priests . On Saturday mornings they attend Holy Mass and pray the Rosary during Eucharistic Adoration. They focus on one Priest each week taking his name from the Diocesan Directory of Priests.

In a recent development the Spiritual Mothers have extended this initiative to include the children of the local primary school. The move was a cautious one, but the children have responded extremely receptively to the idea of becoming a 'Spiritual Friend' to a Priest of their choice. To support them, the children have been given a small  card bearing the words

FATHER (appropriate name filled in)

Each Monday tow of the Spiritual Mothers visit the school fifteen minutes before the end of the children's lunch break. The children are invited to waive the their remaining break time in order to pray a decade of the Rosary for Priests.One Mystery of the Rosary is used each week as a focus for thinking about the role of the  Priest.

The response has been so  overwhelming that because of limited accommodation, it has become necessary to alternate Infants and Juniors each week. The enthusiasm of the children is mostly attributable to the excellent guidance and encouragement of the school's RE coordinator who makes all the internal arrangements and herself joins in the group

The Spiritual Mothers are quietly optimistic that the children will continue their enthusiasm and will perhaps encourage members of their families to become a 'spiritual friend of a Priest'.

The prayers of little children are heard loud and clear - they have a direct line to heaven.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for all children
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for all priests.

P. Greene"

Oasis comment.

Thanks and congratulations to Pat and her group of Spiritual Mothers for the instigation of these initiatives.
It's a wonderful idea, not least because these 'Spiritual Mothers' are carrying out their motherhood in several ways, not the least because they are doing a naturally motherly thing, in helping children to care for their priests. In a parish one can see all sorts of advantages coming as a result of the children's involvement. I hope more schools will adopt the idea. God bless the children and  the adults involved in their support.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tommaso D'Aquino, Inno ADORO TE DEVOTE, Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis,...

Here is a Milanese version, the choir not overpowered by the acoustic.
The chant is a current favourite during Papal Masses and I believe was sung last Sunday.
The tune is simple with the occasional pitfalls in emphasis and timing. Learn it and.the meaning of its Latin words. It will reward your effort. If you don't have the appropriate liturgical book, the words can easily be found on the internet.

Another Favourite Chant to know and love 4 Adoro Te Devote - Catholic Hymns, Gregorian Chant

Too much echo on this version. Will find another after supper

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sebastián de Vivanco "O Rex Gloriae"

For the Feast of Christ the King.

Tu Rex Gloriae.wmv

According to Sandro Magister, it's the entrenchment of Msgr Ganswein and partial downfall of Ingrid Stampa

For details see Magister's post today at 'Notzie Analisi. Link to his post at bottom of sidebar here.
Follow appropriate links for English version of the post, 'Fr Georg Secretary. Confirmed.'
Apart from the fact that Dr. Stampa has been denied access to the Papal apartment since the Gabriele scandal, it emerges that there is at least one serious error of translation in the Italian version of the Holy Father's latest book, over which she apparently had oversight. As always though, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. The mistake is such that it is hardly credible as having been comitted by a person of her academic reputation and publishing experience. It almost looks like a deliberate 'plant'..

Two Hundred Million Christians Under Threat

ZENIT - Two Hundred Million Christians Under Threat

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Construction of Nativity Scene begins in St. Peter's Square

Construction of Nativity Scene begins in St. Peter's Square

Monsignor Marini: Taking street evangelization to Rome

Monsignor Guido Marini, who I believe regularly works with Youth from the Saint Lawrence Centre in Rome, is seen on this video saying Holy Mass for them, and preaching on the Holy Souls. In an interview afterwards he remembers with thanksgiving to God, his favourite moment of World Youth Day in Madrid..  And is obviously doing his bit to promote the next WYD in Rio.  The sound on the video is not good but its message comes across loud and clear in this example of an aspect of his priestly ministry, other than the one for which he is more famously known.  The prayers of the Oasis are with him. May God bless him and all his work.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Placido Domingo-The gold and silver waltz.mp4

Dancing with my Grandfather:

I need to cheer myself up today and so I share this happy memory, in my case much more memorable than Luther Vandross', 'Dancing with my Father'. The gold and Silver Waltz.....................

It takes me back to a Sunday morning in my early adolescence. My Grandfather lived with us at the time. My parents had gone out for a drink at the club. My mother would return first, to finish cooking Sunday lunch. and my father would stay on for a while to enjoy a game or two of snooker. Grandpa and I  were  left alone together. The unspoken assumption was that we would look after each other and keep each other occupied. The law against leaving minors unattended was thus observed. I don't know whose idea it was to put 'the Gold and Silver Waltz' on the record player. I think it was mine, but it was he who suggested we should dance,. with all the courtly gravity and grace of his generation. The record was a single made by the Halle Orchestra conducted by Sir John Barbirolli. I still have it and I only have to see it to be reminded of this incident with my 'Grandpa' whom I loved dearly..

Our sitting room was large, and there was plenty of room to dance. So there we were happily waltzing together and leaving unsaid any complaint about being left at home with each other. They were moments of  uncomplicated happiness, such that I have rarely known since.That music is so poignant to me. It was then, and is even more so now. If I close my eyes I am dancing with him still. When I open them, it is always to thank God for this happy memory, for the security of my childhood and to pray for the soul of my grandfather.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Requiem Thomas Luis de Victoria

Sorry, have not yet been able to find the whole of the Tallis Scholarcs recording.

Monday, November 12, 2012

02 Introitus: Requiem aeternam

Durung the rest of November I hope to post the whole of this, my favourite Requiem Mass.

Pope is surprised by Polyphonic Choir at the Vatican

Pope is surprised by Polyphonic Choir at the Vatican

So beautiful and so comforting.

Husband falls again but unhurt

It was not a fainting fit as last time, but I had to get our English neighbour to lift him up again. No injuries save shock and fright. Please pray for us.

God bless all here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Worrying about Westminster

I usually agree with Dr Oddie in the Catholic Herald and respect his views even if I don't ALWAYS agree with them. This time, on the subject of what the CDF will do about ++Nichols and the Soho Masses, he seems to think that Prefect Muller is going to get tough on this issue and as a result, will let ++ Nichols 'off the hook'. If the CDF Prefect DOES  react like that, surely he will call down on himself and his dicastery,  the wrath of the 'gay lobby'. He will be the new 'rottweiler'. And then our Vin will be able to say, 'Well you see these Roman types. It is no fault of mine.' Why should Muller dig Archbishop Nichols out of this. For no good reason that I can see. It Nichols' problem and he must face it fair and square, and not hope to be let off the hook by anyone in Rome.. Many say that Nichols is a careerist.  That is corroborated by the fact that some of the bishops of England and Wales wrote to Rome to complain about his ambition just before he was chosen for our premier see. In any case we see now that careerism is not a holy characteristic and does not lead to, dare I say it, the 'common good'.

Of course I have to admit finally that Archbishop Nichols seems to me to be one of those who is 'sitting out the pontificate' , praying for the time when there will be another more 'liberal' Pope'. and then he will have his red hat.. Personally, I cannot believe that is the catholic thing to do and my heart bleeds at the thought of it..

Dr Oddie end his article by saying that he hopes ++Nichols will be elevated to the cardinalate within a couple of years. To that I say, Lord, give us all courage and strength..

Prayers for all concerned.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Five popes, past and future, crossed paths at Vatican 11

For what it's worth.

Compare and contrast.


Some of us have been aware for a long time that the Pope's sight in his left eye has deteriorated consideraby. Today he suddenly confessed to the Angelus crowd that he couldn't see the papers he was reading to them. I don't think it was merely that he had 'lost his place' in the text.  In an interview some time ago Monsignor  Marini referred to the problem in typically quiet and undramatic manner.  Now is the time for our fervent prayers for our beloved Holy Father. Media tricks and deliberate mischief are one thing, but loss of sight is quite another.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Crime in the Charente: A recent example

And it's spreading inexorably, especially into the countryside from larger conurbations like Angouleme. Early last week in the mid afternoon our Mayor's secretary had her car broken into and her handbag stolen. It has astonished everyone that Colin didn't see or hear anything. He has the reputation of being the 'eyes and ears' of Saint Romain. If anyone suspicious appears in the street outside, particularly if they are newcomers to the village shop opposite, he makes a note of details and times and if a vehicle is involved, records the registration. On the afternoon of the said theft he witnessed nothing.

The Police visited us  yesterday afternoon. It seems that Colin's reputation had spread to the Gendarmerie. They were mightily interested in his record of  registration numbers. Could be extremely useful to them in many ways. During the conversation the two young Police officers explained that it was believed the crime had its base in the need for drugs. (We know this has been a problem below the surface here, for a long time.)

Anyway to cut a long story short, two men were arrested this morning in connection with  thefts from cars parked outside cemeteries, whilst their owners were seasonally occupied on hallowed ground, laying wreaths on the graves of deceased relatives, which is a time honoured custom throughout France. The men were using another ruse, that of being Jehovah's Witnesses, to con their victims in their own houses.. Whilst they were in detention, Police searched THEIR domicile and found it to be full of stolen goods. This cache was transferred to the Police Station and victims of recent theft, have been invited to visit there to see if they can identify their stolen property.

The arrested men turned out to have been released from prison in recent weeks having served sentences for similar crimes.

Our Mayor's secretray's hand bag has been found but emptied of its contents.

If anyone still believes that France is idyllic, think again. Parts of Angouleme are are quite as horrid as certain infamous cities in England.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pater Noster - Our Father in Latin

 Another difficult day., Sorry not to have posted after all, but here is the third of simple chants we should all know and love. - to be going on with, as they say. You should hear it sung at tomorrow's Vespers  in the Sistine Chapel.(6pm Rome time, the Holy Father presiding and in celebration of the 500th anniversay of the completion of the Chapel's ceiling)

Monday, October 29, 2012

I think it may be solved.

It was a question of a certain site on my sidebar  that was causing the problem and infecting my blogsite with malware. Perhaps I should say that it is the CTS site so that people know there is a problem with it .I have managed to delete that site from my bloglist.  So we will see tomorrow if that removal does the trick. I have to see irony in this. After all CTS are my most recent publishers..The other agonising spiritual problem is easing too, and I think that the crisis is past, eternal thanks be to our Blessed Mother. The printer problem can only be solved by installing Canon cartridges. I pray for the Oasis to be completely fit for mission by the weekend..The really good news is that my dear computer, 'Yves.' does not have a virus.

Thank you for your prayers, particularly those of Sandy, Dorothy B and Genty

Hope to be back tomorrow, but at what hour of the day I cannot predict..

God bless all here.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Catholics & the Liverpool Care Pathway

Thanks to Paul Priest for sending me a link to this video. I saw that Archbishop Peter SMITH had drawn a blank from the Government when he recently appealed to them for an investigation into the LCP.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Serious problems with printer and computer

As a result I am going to have to shut down until the problems are solved. Added to all this I have been struggling with a deep and particularly personal torment. I beg your patience and your prayers for things to be better. The personal problem is in no way related to my usual blogging preoccupations and has nothing to do with the subjects of recent posts. The techno problems are considerably galling because the blog has been doing so well of late. Thank you for your readership I will do my best to return the Oasis to you, as fit for mission as it has been in the past.

God bless all here and please pray for the Oasis and its steward.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spiritual Mothers CR News 24: Update on last post on this subject

ZENIT - Three Assumptionist Priests Kidnapped in Congo

No fandango for the fanon

At least not at Father Blake's blog. Basically Father opines that excitement over Sunday's reappearance of that papal vestment, among supporters of Pope Benedict' 'reform of the reform' , is quite unjustified and irrelevant, . and he backs this with sound evidence with which it is difficult to argue. Mostly he refers to the shilly shallying of  many priests, laity and bishops,  when it comes to application of  'Sunmmorum Pontificum'.  It has to be acknowledged that although it has had an effect, it is not really going to make sufficient difference to the Church at large, unless the Holy Father stops trying to teach by example and begins to make a real difference by exercising papal legislation as regards his own document. Father's post shows up the fault line in the 'Reform of the Reform camp. On the other hand Fr Z stands by his beloved 'marshall plan' and congratulates the Pope for his series of propositional gestures of varying strength and importance over the years of his papacy. Fr Blake is more impatient and says honesty that Pope Benedict probably doesn't have time left to him for the luxury of teaching by example. He predicts that if Benedict doesn't get tough very soon, with his death the 'reform of the reform' will fade quickly into the legend of the early third millennium and with it the Pontificate of a  rather quaint, if holy old pope. If he wants to leave a lasing impression on the Church, he must LEGISLATE NOW.

What intrigues me is WHY Pope Benedict appears to be so timid. He is known to be determined, even stubborn, if the bee in his bonnet is buzzing loudly enough. Is it fear of liberal curial cardinals? Or is it that he'd had enough of the rottweiler, panzer cardinal caricatures which he has just about beaten. But even now, every time he can be seen to have acted with any kind of force, the media throws them in his face again Is it because he is tired and has simply had enough and prays each night for God to take him home. Is it that he is really a liberal after all and only promulgated SP for the sake of the SSPX. He simply won't upset the apple cart, and has decided to leave the whole thing for his successor to solve. Someone who,. as Fr Blake warns, might lock the sacristy and get rid of Mons. Guido Marini replacing him with a reinstated Piero or worse. Does he just like the Liturgy and the way he has it because of a selfish need to satisfy his own aestheticism. Or is it just that by nature and experience, he is a gifted teacher by example rather than by precept as well. And his methodology has always served him well in the past BEFORE HE WAS POPE. Has he really faced the fact that he is the Pope NOW?

There are several possible answers to the conundrum of Pope Benedict's behaviour and complex personality. . I have to ask the questions but none of the answers seems to solve the matter. They are all intolerable and abhorrent to me

I would like Fr Z to be right, but I'm afraid that Fr Blake's hard realism is probably a very timely warning both for our dear Holy Father and for all of us.

Now more than ever we must pray for our Holy Father. May God give him TIME and the courage of his convictions.. I do believe with Fr Z that their  complexion is genuinely for the restoration of the sacred Liturgy and solid catechesis, this last having been widely admitted even by its perpetrators as woefully inadequate. Every Audience and Homily shows that Pope Benedict knows what the problems are and why they are so entrenched and damaging. Dear Holy Father we know and we DO understand. Please do what you can to correct these matters, using your Papal infallibility if necessary. No Head teacher could run a successful school with the level of disobedience and dissent that you have suffered and tolerated among  your 'Staff' (clerics/theologians)) and 'students'.(laity). The school would fall victim to anarchy. We have continued to bear this situation for half a century and looking round me, I think that Anarchy is  what we have in the Church today. Wasn't that one of the reasons why you left one German University for another after the troubles of 1968.


Next Consistory 24th November

6 New Cardinals to be made including Archbishop Harvey. the others being from Lebanon, India Nigeria, Colombia and Philippines. Still no joy for Westminster, not that I think anyone will be surprised.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Spiritual Mothers CR News : 23 URGENT

Mothers, please pray for the three priests kidnapped in the Congo.. Neither they nor their kidnappers have  been identified. Mary, mother of all priests of your Son, pray for them.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Stormy Weather

The immediate short term forecast indicates a slight improvement, but more heavy rain is predicted for Lourdes next week..

Amazing day. No time for promised 'Don Guido' post

What with the Lourdes flood and the astonishing character of the Canonisation rite, the day has simply run away with me. But Don Guido seems increasingly to be the' left hand man' of the moment. Back tomorrrow.

In the meantime, God bless all here.


This morning's Canonisations

Pope Benedict wore the 'Fanon', last used by Blessed John Paul II in 1980

The post before this one gives photos and a little explanation of the history. Look no further than today's post at NLM link in sidebar here. I might have guessed that Mons. Maini was somehow involved in this resoration, and why..

Thanks to my friend 'Gertrude'  for alerting me..

The Papal Fanon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lourdes seriously flooded

Thanks to my dear friend Pelerin for alerting me to the fact that the Grotto is closed and under a metre of water. Nothing in our local paper, except about flooding in northern Spain. We expect something in the Sunday paper tomorrow. Will update you if so.

Our weather has been awful. It has rained incessantly for 36 hours and the roof is leaking!.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Next post in preparation for Sunday: Why I posted the 'Don Guido' video'

It is taking time because I have to be careful not to upset anyone. There are however several important reasons that I would like to explain.

In the meantime, congratulations to Paula Luckhurst, the creator of this excellent montage of Don Guido at the work he so obviously loves to the exclusion of all else. Primarily it is not really about Don Guido himself, but about the source and summit of our faith, the Holy Mass. This  is the secret of its beauty, and the beauty of its secret..

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Don Guido

Reuter's recent article 'The Struggle for Poland's Soul'

I accessed the article via my regular email, usually every day, which lists 'Catholic World News headlines and links to further details of each one. This one from Reuter's News Agency reports that even in Poland, the Church is losing her influence. Since 2005 weekly Mass attendance has dropped from 58% to 52%. The reasons given are mounting secularism, political debate over homosexuality, in vitro fertilisation and tax-payer financed healthcare and pensions for priests. Among many others, I have often wondered why Mons Konrad Krajewski frequently looks so unhappy. Most of us do not know many other Polish priests apart from this one, who does sterling and devoted work for the Holy Father and his Liturgy, as probably the most frequently serving member of Mons. Marini's team of Liturgical Masters of Ceremony. He seems to be the 'Head boy', second only to the Maestro. He goes home to Poland whenever he can and frequently joins pilgrimages there. I wonder if the increasingly secular and threatening atmosphere in Poland is a constant worry for him, and preoccupies his heart and soul, without of course, in any way adversely affecting his efficiency and devotion at the Papal altar.

There is an appreciation page for Mons Konrad on Facebook.

Please pray for him and for Poland, its Clergy and Laity. For that dear and faithful country to be sliding from its conquest of Communism into the clutches of poisonous secularism within a generation, is simply tragic.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slight earthquake 15 km from Lourdes yesterday morning

The quake registered 3.9 on the Richter scale and affected two local settlements near Lourdes, - Arge-les-Gazost and Arthez d'Asson. No serious damage was done and there were no casualties. A Resident was quoted as saying that such mild quakes are quite frequent in the area. One woman said she had been woken by her house trembling and her bed moving. (From this morning's Sud Ouest newspaper.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An unhelpful, and I hope a wongly founded rumour concerning the Liturgical Office of Papal Liturgy

This rumour began this morning when VIS sent out an email stating that the Holy Father had appointed a new Master of Ceremonies. Note that little word 'a'. There are usually 12 MCs. One more is only one more. I think that VIS should have made plain and beyond confusion, that the office of Maestro, which is held by Mons. Marini, is quite a separate and very special thing. Anyway  I thought they had given up these emails. If they cannot be expressed beyond confusion, I think it better that they stop. Of course they cannot be blamed for people's ignorance, but the thing could have been spelled out more carefully.Same old Vatican problem I hear you say.

God bless Monsignor Guido Marini and long may he remain in post, looking after our Holy Father with such loving concern..

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Arabic speaking representative at the Papal GA tomorrow

This is publicised in today's VIS news and will be a permanent feature of General Audiences from now on. It is a sign that our Holy Father wishes to mark his visit to Lebanon in earnest, and in a practical show his concern for the Christian minority in the Middle East.  It is bound to increase our prayers for this intention. Deo Gratias.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Huge and Heartfelt thank you to the commenters on my Guardian Angel post of last night

The post was unlike me in that it was very personal, a cry from the heart. I hardly knew what I wrote, except that I desperately needed my Guardian Angel to hear it. I am now convinced that he did. Thank you for the four comments, three from known and valued very dear friends, and the fourth from someone who has just discovered the Oasis, and is now its 62nd Follower. Welcome Sarah and thank you so much for your prayers. Brian, Dorothy and Sandy, there is nothing on this earth so valuable as friendship like yours. The words 'thank you' are a poor recompense in all four cases, but I offer them still, with the assurance of my reciprocal Prayers for your own intentions..

God bless you, and as I often say, God bless all here. And now, onward, upward and forward to the Year of Faith..

Sacra Liturgia 2013

Something to look forward to at the end of June next year and an exciting new addition to the sidebar at The list of speakers is amazing and the conference will take four days (June 25-28) The programme will include Masses according to both the EF and the NO.

Thanks to Rorate Caeli for yesterday's headsup.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Prayer to my Guardian Angel: Please take me home to Portsmouth

Thanks to a link on Fr Ray Blake's blog I  have just listened to Bishop Egan's interview on Vatican Radio. I spent my student years in the Diocese of Portsmouth, and the last crushing years in the Diocese of Angouleme. I love my fellow French Catholics, and France 'I love thee still with all thy faults' , but oh I long for home. I beg my Guardian Angel tonight to smooth out all the obstacles and enable me to go there, to the Water Meadows at Winchester and other beloved places in Hampshire. Whatever remains in my strength to do, I want to offer to help this new bishop of that particular English Diocese.. There isn't a great deal I am likely to be able to do here.  I don't want to spend my last years being of no use. But the longer I stay, the more likely it is that this will happen . My dear Guardian Angel knows what must be done. I am only touching 70. Surely God has work for me to do in the imminent Year of Faith. Please, my Angel dear...................

Monday, October 1, 2012

Saint Therese of Lisieux

A very holy and happy feast day to all my readers.
Sainte Therese priez pour nous.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

OK. So it was a concluding address and not a homily.

 But it seems to have made a greater impression than ++ Nichols' preaching on 'Unity' in the actual homily. No surprise there, I don't suppose. Bishop Egan has made a good start at being the 'courageous and orthodox' shepherd he prays and plans to be.  No surprise there either, God bless and strengthen him.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bishop Egan of Portsmouth: 'There is a way. and it's the truth

There is an analysis and full text of the new Bishop's first sermon at 'Whispers in the Loggia' Link at Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald 'Must reads' in sidebar. Sorry for the unavoidably long stand off from the Oasis. Great to come back for this cracker of a homily. Things are looking up! Thanks be to God. Thanks and praise also for the Pope's successful Lebanon trip and his safe return therefrom..

Thursday, September 13, 2012

João IV de Portugal - Crux fidelis

 The King's Singers

Please stop now and offer a fervent prayer for our Holy Father Pope Benedict

on the eve of his departure for Lebanon, and for all those courageous and determined Monsignori who will be accompanying him.. Saint Michael Archangel, defend them in the day of battle.............

Nothing else here until Sunday night. Well maybe 'Crux Fidelis' for tomorrow, 'The Exaltation of the Holy Cross'.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spiritual Mothers of Priests CR News 21: Clergy Congregation Prefect on the Year of Faith

ZENIT - Cardinal Piacenza on the Year of Faith

Actually, it's more about past interpretation of the Council, than what should be done about it during the Year of Faith. Prepare to swallow the Cardinal's prescribed dose of humility, as yet again, you take up the Conciliar documents.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ten cultural events, ten cities, ten Commandments

Ten cultural events, ten cities, ten Commandments

Do I spot the Mayor of Rome herein?

I wouldn't trust his judgment after that dreadful 'statue' of Bl. John Paul 11.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sub Tuum Praesidium (Feasts of BVM, Antiphon)

In celebration of Our Lady's Birthday

Introducing an occasional series of Chants we should all know and love to sing:
1. Sub tuum praesidium: the oldest extant hymn to Our Blessed Mother.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Oh my goodness! What a mistake: Pirates of the Citta del Vaticano!

Reference recent post featuring Msgr Marini: I knew the music on the video was strikingly familiar, but couldn't place it. Imagine my horror when I checked and found it was from 'Pirates of the Caribbean'.

There is driving and insistent determination  about it, which is particularly apt when the Holy Father is anointing that altar under the close observance of his Master of Ceremonies. This is somehow not entirely inapproriate, but I wouldn't want anyone to think that I see Monsignor Marini dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow or Monsignor Krajewski as Will Turner, brandishing his cutlass. Of course the two Monsignori are beyond doubt eminently effective and brave in the banishment of ugly, irreverent Liturgy. But that's no excuse. Please forgive my carelessness.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tomorrow's priests

Spiritual Mothers of Priests: CR News 20..

Wonderful men. Please God, protect and nurture their vocations. What about the English College? Please someone, make a video about the new intake there.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

W. A. Mozart - Jubilate Deo

A bit too much vibrato for my taste, but the best to be found at such short notice!

A new 'Motu Proprio'

h/t to 'Rorate Caeli'

The new Motu Proprio will create a Pontifical Academy of the Latin Language. Brilliant news. 'Jubilate Deo omnis terra!'

Thursday, August 30, 2012

'Pastor in Valle' speaks out for the 'Lionheart'

And very movingly too, at 'Valle Adurni' tonight. Somehow just as effective, if not more so, than Father Z's explanataion which put forward the situation as one would have expected..(Liberals screaming with delight that their opponent has already shot himelf in the foot.)  Possibly this effectiveness is because Pastor in Valle (Fr Sean) is based in England. I don't know, but I do know that I found his post VERY encouraging for an assessment of the 'Lionheart's possible future in San Fran.. Thank you Father for defending your brother priest.As we say here, 'On va voir'.

Mons. Guido Marini - The Master of the Liturgy

This makes me feel positive and strong I think we all need those things at the moment.
Thank you, dear Monsignor Guido!

Optional Memoria (in France today) St. FIACRE

The song has nothing to do with Fiacre the patron saint of gardeners, except that. the parisian horse-drawn cab was named 'un fiacre' because the cab rank was close to the Hotel Saint Fiacre where these vehicles were first hired out.. I doubt Saint Fiacre would have approved of the words of the song. apart from anything else, from all accounts he was extremely wary of women..Tant pis! A happy feast day to all gardeners.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Increase in 'Bethany' cat population!

Last week I heard suspicious mewings from the mezzanine above one of our outhouses.Two days later, 'Bright Eyes' (the mother) emerged from the other outhouse with a little black kitten;  the next day a grey one emerged with its dutiful parent and sibling. And today a third was in evidence, black and white,like its mother.I hope that's the total.But Bright Eyes isn't telling! Needless to say the grey kitten is already addressed as 'Eminence'. News as it develops, and photos when I can get round to it (with Mac's help!). Whose else of course?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bravo to 'Yorkshire Shepherd' for recent post 'Real Catholics believe in the Real Presence'.

The post is at 'Stella Maris'.  Link in sidebar here. Thank you Fr Abberton.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

45% of American Catholics do not believe in Transubstantiation.

See 'Standing on my Head', top of sidebar. Does anyone know what the UK figures are? How long is it since the bishops dared ask? Judging from their behaviour I'm worried about the French too. What has happened to our Faith? More importantly, how has it happened? Unchallenged Protestantism is the answe as far as I can see. We'd better wake up and do something pdq. Pray God we are not too late.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Missa L'hora passa - Lodovico da Viadana.wmv

Since I have been 'thinking' Viadana for the last couple of days I thought I'd better share this with you or be driven mad by the memory. There's quite a long silence between the Gloria and Sanctus so don't turn off. The Agnus Dei for another day.
God bless all here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Exultate justi in Domino

This motet by Viadana was sung at the end of Mass at Castel Gandolfo on the feast of the Assumption this year. It went on whilst the recessional party was waiting for the Holy Father to be ready to join them. I recognised it with some surprise. I never found it easy to sing although the Castel Gandolfo choir performed it without mishap.Ir's a dense little piece with several multi-syllabic Latin words which have to be sung at a speed in excess of comfort, at least to one of English background..Not only that but there are some tricky movements and patterns in the music itself. There are several versions on You Tube but I think this is perhaps one of the better ones. It it is crisply precise and there are no 'holes in the polyphonic tapestry'. I am grateful that increasingly one recognizes motets such as this in papal liturgies and I wonder how much that is due to the suggestion, persuasion or encouragement of Monsignor Marini.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

'Laughter and the Love of friends'

Post title is from one of my favourite pieces of Belloc. As he has it, there is nothing else 'worth the wear of winning' in this earthly life but these two things that is 'laughter and the love of friends.' I have just spent three days realising the truth of it yet again. Three days free of the stress and worry of economic difficulty and its pressing problems. We were students together and so our memories go back more than fifty years. What a precious gift this is. And how it helps us both now with today's struggles and incomprehensions. My friend is apparently and unchangeably Protestant, which is a terrible shame. I'm sure she would be happier if she could swim the Tiber. I've never really tried to persuade her do that. Maybe I will try next time she comes, next summen I hope.

But even in 'The Year of Faith' I can intend nothing that will upset our trust in each other, nor the sound basis of our long friendship which is Christian charity. I shall have to be very careful indeed. In St.Romain Church on Friday afternoon I tried to explain to her why I despair of the Church in France, not t mention in England and Wales. I explained why it was so wrong that it has been made impossible to kneel during Mass, or to receive Communion in that way, and how how the 'versus populum' habit has meant that the community is always concentrating on itself rather than on God..She seemed to agree with me so perhaps I will have a chance to further the argument next time.

All this does not stop me from being grateful to God for giving me such a precious friend. May He give me the strength and the right words next year.

God bless all here
In Christo pro Papa

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ZENIT - The Truth About Pope Pius XII

The Truth About Pope Pius XII

More evidence that will clear the name of our former Holy Father.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

'Les boucs emissaires'. Now there seem to be two according to my Google alerts

The second fellow, one Claudio Sciarpellecetti, a lay computer expert in the Secretariat of State has been indicted to stand trial with the Pope's butler over the recent Vatileaks scandal. According to Fr Lombardi (see Rome Reports) this man is an aquaintance of the butler, but his involvenent does not seem to hold criminal water .Basically the Vatican continues to expect us to believe that Gabriele is the sole culprit.

Sorry, Je ne crois pas'.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I seriously thought that the last post would be my valedictory

Well perhaps it may not be far off.  But I now  see , irreligious feminism as an utterly destructive force. Its deadly influence is all the more dangerous because it claims to follow the Gospel and to be religious., and so fools countless women. What idiots they are.

Yes, I've been following the LCWR meeting and it fills me with horror and disgust.
Horror, because at no point did any of the women 'sisters' mention Jesus or His mother.
Disgust because they sought to justify their actions in terms of power in the Church, as being unjustifiably divided between men and women..

Well, at the moment I'd give the argument to the men. Their theology and ecclesiology is streets ahead. of those of these frankly silly American women.You could of course say that women have been prevented from learning, but that does not stop women from responding sensibly when they are given the chance.

I'm afraid that sense is not a commodity that makes itself apparent in the attitude of the LCWR..Except that they know that the liberal media is on their side and they are playing that for all it is worth, Big bad Vatican; poor dear nuns.

God bless the CDF

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pink Floyd - The Post War Dream

Grim stuff. And it's getting worse. God please help us/

Monday, August 6, 2012


And now the Latin version as I originally learned it. I cannot tell you how much I love it. Quite aside from the fact that the altos go higher than the sops on the last page!

God bless Thomas Tallis. He makes me proud to be English, and an alto!

If ye love Me, keep My commandments (Tallis)

I just needed a renewal of His peace and confidence and I'm glad to share them with you all.
(Recorded in Warsaw)

Urgent Correction to post about petition

It seems that the petition has nothing to do with Una Voce or with the organisation of pilgrimage to Rome in November. My apologies for the mistaken impression given in my last post..

Sunday, August 5, 2012

(Corrected Post) Have you signed that petition yet?

What petition? See the 'heads-up' and link at 'Linen on the Hedgerow'. Many thanks Richard. This is definitely a chance we should go for. If we don't let the Holy Father know how much we want and need him to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missal, we won't have a leg to stand on. Truly we must move mountains to see that such a papal Mass takes place as part of the Year of Faith.Over to you folks! Please be aware that the petition is totally independent of Una Voce and the SP pilgriamage to Rome November. Neither party has anything to do with the petition. You can find out who started it at the petition site (link at Richard's post as mentioned above.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

One fact; one rumour

The Vatican announced today that the Holy Father has completed ht third part of his trilogy 'Jesus of Nazareth'. Well that answers a few Christmas present question marks.

And the rumour? Christopher Gillibrand reports at 'Catholic Church Conservation' that it is thought by many in Rome that at the end of the summer His Holiness will appoint his secretary Mons. Georg Ganswein as the Bishop of Regensburg to replace Bishop Muller.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Land of the Living

Well, I'm back! What a truly dreadful time. Ten days unavoidably off line

Not going to bore you with details, but I now have a new  ''live box' and everything seems all right  Will try to post again tomorrow.

God bless all here and thanks to Him for the wonders of modern science, so long as we do not become too dependent on them ..................

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

There's only one bishop who has done nothing to shake my faith in the episcopacy. And that for seven years

He is of course the bishop of Rome. For the rest, we are not allowed to criticise in public. Although anyone who prays the Office daily, knows what a bishop should be to his flock  I can't see how Bishop Lang and ++Nichols (see Protect the Pope) are doing that.

I'm going to bed to pray about it, and for them, until I fall asleep.

God bless all here,

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Locus iste - Bruckner -Sung at Frascati today

This performance, which looks as though it's being conducted by Msgr Marini, before he lost so much hair (!), catches the close intimacy that the piece yearns to express, the sheer beauty and otherness of being in God's presence. At Frascati, the choir, which was not even near the sanctuary, but separated in the cathedral behind., was at a tremendous disadvantage.There were too many voices, or at least those voices were not able to blend. It was a brave, but in the circumstances a musically unwise choice. 'Quand meme' all criticism aside, they did their best and it was good to hear this motet sung in the presence of the Holy Father.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Father Z wants to downsize and agonises over his books

See his blog for details. (What does the prayer really say)

With 5,000+ volumes to make decisions about, I can understand a little of how he feels. It's no easy matter. Going along the shelves one has to pick up each volume and remember what it meant to you at the time it came into your possession, and how much it has meant since.. Well, one doesn't have to, but one will find oneself doing that.anyway. You see, the books in one's library tell the story of one's own life. Not just by what those books are about, but on how they came into your possession. For instance I have a copy of the full works of  Lewis Carroll brought back to me from Bangalore in the early 1950s - a tenth birthday present from my father's brother. For years it smelled of josticks.and opened my imagination to what my uncle's experience must have been like.  Before that, the original' 'House at Pooh Corner' given as a Christmas present by a cousin when I was five. Later I remember my first copies of 'Northanger Abbey and 'Pride and Prejudice'. As a young girl I responded to the romance of these Austen novels. As an adult I still reflect on what dear Jane observed. about the way in which men and women do, or indeed do not, relate to one another.

Then of course there was Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress', again given to me as a pre-adolescent gift. From a religious point of view this book was formative..  I didn't read it straight away but when I did, it changed my perception of human life. Fortunately, at the time I was a blank page and knew nothing of the argument between Protestant and Catholic. I was therefore able to not even notice Bunyan's polemic against the Papacy. I'm glad of that.

Well of course the above mentioned books were formative, even dear Pooh,, and I haven't even mentioned Shakespeare yet!. Love of his works began to develop when I was about thirteen, and has not ceased to grow since. Teaching his works has been one of the greatest privileges and pleasures of my life. As far as the current debate about his Catholicism is concerned, yes I think he was a Catholic. I was convinced of it by Patrick Stewart's performance as Prospero

'And my ending is despair
Unless I be reliev'd by prayer, which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself  and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.'

50 years separated me from first reading of the Tempest and  the more recent understanding that Shakespeare knew the meaning of the Communion of the Saints and the mercy of God. He may not have believed it of course, but he understood what it meant, true or not. 

Well this has taken me through my library until I was still a very young woman. I can go no further tonight.

All the same a library is the most personal thing. Plucking it apart is going to be most painful. .

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The blue touch paper

Archbishop Mennini has found that little spark that  remains in English Catholicism. Amazingly it is still there and he has lit it with this recent appointment to Portsmouth. Thank God. May he continue to see that we get the bishops we need. Long may he NOT retire from the blue touch paper..

Prayers for the Pope, for his Nuncio, and for the newly appointed bishop. It won't be easy, but at least now we know there is a chance. We should have always known it of course, but we have been so dispirited and depressed over several decades that our recent attitude is no surprise.

This is truly a turning point I think.

In Christo pro Papa
God bless all here.


Deo gratias!

Heartfelt thanks to His Holiness and to Archbishop Mennini. And warm congratulations to Bishop-elect Philip Egan of Portsmouth.

England arise!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Circumcision: Merkl must quash the Cologne ruling

Quite aside from the fact that the court's reasoning is faulty, above all in a country that allows abortion, who on earth brought this case to law? None orfthe reports that I've read explains this.

One is highly suspicious of their identity and motives. Angela Merkl must act swiftly and decisively, or Germany, which has only climbed out of its horrendous wartime reputation over recent decades, will again descend into the pit of opprobrium..And again be seen as the wilful exterminator of Judaism.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

For my dear 'Pastor in Valle'

God bless you my dear Father. I have tried to leave a comment on your blog but simply cannot read those letters one has to copy in order to get the comment accepted.

Please be assured of my poor prayers and remember that the heart of St Jean Vianney is being implored for the restoration of your health.

In filial affection,

Spiritual Mothers of Priests CR News 16: Bishop Davies hails priesthood at Mass welcoming saint’s heart |

Bishop Davies hails priesthood at Mass welcoming saint’s heart |

The American Catholic

The American Catholic

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

House Sale News

To cut a long story short, this has been an unexpectedly bad day. The agent came this morning and it was arranged that they would drive us to Verteillac tomorrow afternoon where it had been arranged that we would, together with the buyers, sign the papers confirming the sale of the house, in the presence of the Notaire. Later we viewed a small house which is for rent in the village It would have suited us perfectly, but in the late afternoon, the Estate Agent phoned me, in a furious and desperately apologetic state, to inform me that at this eleventh hour the buyers had withdrawn from negotiations. I wasn't surprised. The last time they were here I sensed there was an emotional problem connected with family responsibilities. While I prayed that matters would still go ahead, I had in a way steeled myself for this news because I had discerned this hidden factor and knew it could influence things in the other direction. And so it has proved. As much as I am able to rationalise the situation, I still feel as if I've been kicked in the head by a dray horse!And so it is time I went upstairs to say my prayers and then get to bed. I know the Agent will bring more viewers as soon as possible, but I'm praying for a day's break from the emotional onslaught.  Thank you for your prayers.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Palestrina, Tu es Petrus, Gloria

In celebration of today's Feast.

Saints Peter and Paul; pray for us.
God bless our Pope.

Tomorrow the novena begins to the Holy Spirit for a satisfactory conclusion to the talks with the SSPX.

The Sale of 'Bethany'

All problems were solved this morning and it looks as if the sale will go through. Fortunately  I had just begun to watch the Pallium Mass from Rome when the Agent rang me, and so the shock did not hit me immediately. Of course one has to be ready for 'many a slip 'twixt cup and lip'. But now we have to find somewhere smaller to rent in Saint Romain. We will consult with the Mairie on Monday.

Everyone involved is utterly amazed at the speed with which this the events of this week have unfolded. During the day I have been unable to dismiss the thought that Saints Peter and Paul may have had a hand in all this. Not to mention Saint Joseph to whom I've been praying since the decision to sell last year. The Lord knows how painful this separation is going to be, but I have already offered Him any benefit it may bring down upon us, or others.

On an equally positive note, it means that I'll probably be able to come over to England before next winter, and see some of you again, or for the first time, and even maybe accompany my friend Mary to Rome next Epiphany..............Whether I go or not isn't important. But the fact that I may now consider it is blessedly healthy.

I hope you've all had a joyful Solemnity.

Silverstream renovation 4 Holy Week

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another shattering day: the future of 'Bethany'

I am in a state of shock. the people who visited yesterday asked the Estate agency if they could arrange for another visit today. When they got here they asked permission for the Agency's consultant builder to also be allowed to visit before lunch time to examine the house for the work that will need to be done, (and which we can't afford, which is one of the reasons why we are being forced to sell.)

I think that our dear 'Bethany' has captivated them; they have sustained a 'coup de foudre'. And I know from several exchanges with them throughout the two days that they should have it. They made an offer this afternoon but there are still things to be sorted our tomorrow. Now it has come to it and the pain of separation looks as if it's in the offing, I can hardly write about it here. I know you will all pray that God's will be done in this matter. In the meantime, we have to find somewhere else to live.

We know of several houses in this area that have stayed on the market for years., but it pleases me tremendously that my dear 'Bethany' is proving to be a different case.

This afternoon I had a brief siesta and then went next door to have my hair done. May our Lord and His Blessed Mother give me strength to face what may be coming in the next few months.

God bless all here

In Christo pro Papa

Silverstream renovation series: number 3 of four

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's almost Castel Gandolfo time again.........

Just the Pallium Mass on Friday, and then privacy, peace and rest from labour awaits our dear Holy Father at Castel Gandolfo, well at least for the month of July.

Its been a long gruelling day here. Up at seven to do some housework before breakfast; time to read overnight emails before the General Audience; and then for the first time, some people came to view the house. Astonishingly they turned out to be newly retired teachers  from a village in Devon quite near to where I once lived, close to Newton Abbot..(The wife was also called Jane.) I don't think they'll make an offer and I doubt that all future viewers will be as pleasant as they were. Letting go of the house and its memories is going to be unconscionably difficult but it will have to be faced eventually. (Your prayers please.) Returning to the computer I realised with a shock that this morning's General Audience was the last one before the Castel Gandolfo recess.. Throughoust the day I also conducted an email conversation with an old friend about the recent appointments of Bishop Roche and the new bishop-elect of Wrexham. However  I spent the later afternoon pottering in the garden and did the watering when the sun was 'over the yard arm'. Then it was time to cook supper.

It all sounds idyllic I know, but there is no security now, and I'll have to get used to it.
I forgot to mention that this morning the postman delivered a bottle of Crosse and Blackwell's gravy browning, courtesy of Amazon, and an expected letter from my beloved Monsignor in Rome..

The two best things about today, are first that when I was showing the Devonian visitors the garden, I pointed out the 'Compassion'' Rose which is in a riot of bloom at the end of my 'Via Crucis' pergola. I don't know what came over me but I said. that I thought the rose was well named because it is so generous in its blooming and also has a divine scent. This touched some nerve in my namesake and she picked a bloom and offered it to me.

The second thing is that after all the recent brouhaha about the SSPX, our Holy Father has done everything he can and very shortly will have  more time to pray.

We are so blessed in him.

Silverstream renovation 2

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Silverstream renovation 1

The first of four videos sent this morning by Fr Mark to all Oblates and friends of the new Monastery.
The choice of music is a stroke of brilliance. Prepare to be moved.

Monday, June 25, 2012

When was that 'Pell' meeting?

I said last night that it happened a week ago, citing 'Whispers in the Loggia' as my source. VIS email tells me this afternoon that it happened this last Saturday, that is a week later than claimed. on 'Whispers'. Who knows, and one might say who cares? Let's pray that the first thing Greg Burke will do is make sure there are no more confusing reports like this. Perhaps there were two meetings and the Holy Father got in a quickie when we were all otherwise occupied. If so, clever Benny, as my husband would say. In any case, I return now to my prayers for him.

Spiritual Mothers CR (Good) News: 16

ZENIT - Vocations on the Rise in England and Wales

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cardinal Pell: update

It seems that Cardiinal Pell  and three other Cardinals (Ouillet, Tauran and Tomko) met with the Pope A WEEK AGO SATURDAY ), that is on June 16 ( according to 'Whispers in the Loggia). This meeting has been confused with his meetings with Dicastery Cardinals since that date, to 'seek their advice'. (June 23) Then on June 24 the Vatican announced the appointment of Greg Burke as the new Communications ADVISOR for the Secretariat of State.(not as DIRECTOR. I know it's only a word but think there is a difference between an Advisor and a Director, even in the Vatican!  I should imagine that this appointment has more to do with the first above-mentioned meeting than with the second, considering the given dates.

Make no mistake, I think our Holy Father is far from feeble and floundering, in spite of the interpretation of events that the MSN seems determined to promote. .  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cardinal Pell in Rome for meeting with Pope on how to deal with 'Vatileaks'

Well that's a comforting thought at the end of today.

Semper Fidelis International: Sign a Pledge of loyalty to the Pope

Link at 'Stella Maris' in side bar here. Many, many thanks to Fr Abberton.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fr Alexander Lucie Smith saves me some work and at just the right time

People are walking away from Catholicism because they do not understand it |

The IEC in Dublin: Fr Mark is disappointed.

See 'Vultus Christi' and the link to 'Collar and Tie'. If the Pope had been there it would have been very different, in spite or the sterling effort of his Legate. I can't help feeling that he, that is the Pope, was deliberately discouraged from going there by the Irish hierarchy and I wish he had ignored them.

My mother in law told me that the Archbishop of Dublin had given Rome to understand that the feeling against the Church in Ireland was so strong that the Pope's safety could not be guaranteed..How convenient. I'm sorry but I do not trust this. Father Mark does not usually post in negative terms, in fact he rarely comments on events. The fact that he has done so this time makes me aware of the dangers we face.

Poor Pope Benedict. They managed to keep him out of this. Poor Irish Church that was deprived of his presence. Only that would have woken people up and shown them the truth.. I agree with Father Mark. It was a lost opportunity for change.

How long, O Lord how long?..

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kes: clip from the 1969 award winning film

Before 'free expression' began to erode the false discipline that had previously held sway.
Unfortunately it was replaced with no discipline at all.

In this middle incident of this clip, with the unintentional help of a 'mouthy' class member, Colin Welland makes a breakthrough and the boy and his kestrel speak out..

Sunday, June 17, 2012

John F. Kennedy Missile Crisis

One year into my training, it seemed that JFK called a fearfully dangerous Soviet bluff.
Thanks to this we could all relax and go on with our lives. At that time there were two Catholic poliical leaders in Europe - Adenauer in Germany and De Gaulle in France. I thought we were safe.........
Of course one couldn't see this video at the time. We just had to sweat it out.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Beyond the Fringe - Civil Defence.

When, how and why it all went wrong. The 1960s.............

I was a war baby and so my early childhood unfolded during the recovery period after that conflict. I remember food rationing, going with my mother to the 'Food Office' in town and not understanding why there was no food on the shelves. Only years later I realised that the place had dispensed the essential rationing coupons. On a day in 1946 I remember my father finally coming home from the war. It was the first memory I have of him. He climbed the steep Sheffield street, at first a black speck in the distance and eventually  becoming a man in a special uniform,although I did not at that stage know that if was the uniform of  an RNVR Lt Commander. Nor did I know what he had been through, until many years later. He was never captured, imprisoned or tortured. He was one of many who fought that war. He never forgot how lucky he was to come back alive. And nor did I. Yet he never ' kept on' about it. Occasionally he would lift the veil. Not until I  was adult did he tell me that his ship 'H..M.S. Whippingham', (I think that's the right spelling.) in fact a converted Isle of Wight  ferry, had been part of the naval force that had 'swept' the Channel just before D Day. Afterwards they did not receive Admiralty orders to return to the relative safety of Portsmouth but were instructed to tie up with another sweeper off the coast of France, until they received orders to sail home.. They were sitting ducks for an enemy gun emplacement on the mainland cliffs. The captain had a nervous breakdown under the strain of this arrangement; eventually my father who was chief navigation officer, was given command and brought the ship and all hands safely back to the Solent. Not until my thirties did he share with me the earlier time that he had stood on the bridge at night, afloat on the freezing waters of Scapa Flow and looking out over those dismal waters had asked himself and maybe God, whether he would ever see his wife again and whether he would ever see me, his only child at all.

I had a secure and happy childhood. I learned obedience, the value of discipline and respect for authority. Of course I fought all of them at times but the boundaries they supplied were rock solid. Then at the approach of generation  came to understand the seriousness of the threat of nuclear war. But although it haunted us we learned to live with it. British satire was very healthy at the time and we were able to laugh at sketches from 'Beyond the Fringe' about Civil Defence and running along to the local leader in th event of the dreaded 'four ninute warning'  and 'he'll tell you exactly were you can go'. Ergo, apart from jumping into a brown paper bag, absolutely nowhere..

As has since transpired, the 1940s and 50s turned out to be the only years of moral societal national stability in my life. Since 1961 when I began my teacher training , everything that I was educated to value and respect has been gradually  destroyed. It is a very hard fact.

to be continued

Catholic Hymnal: O Purest of Creatures! sweet mother, sweet maid

Sunday, June 10, 2012

'Glory of the Olive' 2: Sunday 24 April 2005

I don't know how I found the radio station, its name or its provenance, but as I searched the air waves suddenly it was there, broadcasting from St Peter's Square direct into my little Pimlico living room. It was a bright and beautiful spring day. The new Pope was about to begin his homily. I turned up the sound and opened the window. Outside was Sunday quiet, as if the whole of central London was preparing to listen to him. I could not believe my good fortune.  It may have been Vatican Radio English Service because there was a simultaneous English translation.. I was riveted and stood in the middle of the empty room throughout. (Colin was in France.)

The homily certainly answered my question about what kind of Pope we now had. As you remember he said that he was not going to present a programme of governance and preferred to meditate at this point on the significance of two of the symbols with which he would shortly be invested: the pallium and the fisherman's ring. How effective this was. As he spoke the sensation grew and grew that here was a Pope who was full of the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They were all there in his actual words and in his mien, and they have been proved to be present in him during all the seven years since then. Particularly in the way he has reacted in moments of difficulty, the present one being the latest case in point.. But on that April morning  I knew with no shadow of doubt that this was exactly how it would be. Here was my shepherd. My trust in him was forged that day and will not be broken.

That God had sent us such a man as Pope to succeed John Paul II was incredible,.given our manifest lack of merit,.validated and strengthened my faith. I rejoiced in thanksgiving. There was nothing I could do about the tears of profound relief that welled up from the depths of my half century's experience as a catholic Christian. Ever since that day I have always matched what he has done and said against those lists of Gifts and Fruits.. Everytime,  the essence of Pope Benedict defeats the arrogant individualism of the dissenters.

I invite you to check the lists and see for yourself, if indeed you are not already convinced.

May the Lord have mercy on us and not take Pope Benedict from us just yet.And may He bless His holy  servant with a quiet, restorative night.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

'Glory of the Olive' I (A Life under six Popes)

Like many I couldn't quite believe it when Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope. At the time I didn't have access to all the news sites that are now my daily bread and butter. As I've already said, in the years when I was writing my books  I only used the computer in connection with that work. As it is, I still don't know how I wrote them and functioned effectively as a full time teacher. When John Paul II died my third one had just been published. I knew his successor as a shadowy figure who was acknowledged as a consummate theologian and who had a penchant for traditional liturgy. And that the mainstream media, with the help, I'm sure, of many inside the Roman 'corridors of power', were determined to characterise him as totally impossible to elect as successor to John Paul II.. He is still suffering from the effect of their longstanding hatchet job..Indeed, this false representation of him is even now only just below the surface.

In the early 1990s I had a young friend who was a seminarian at Wigratzbad. He wrote to me in great excitement to tell me that Cardinal Ratzinger had visited the seminary and celebrated the Tridentine Mass. He enclosed a photograph of the event and it's still upstairs somewhere.  In the same letter my friend begged me to take no notice of what the media said about the Cardinal.. I never had done, I didn't then and I don't now.. I suppose that knowing I had worked for the Tablet, my friend thought I may have been tainted. If so, he need not have worried.

On the second day of the conclave I was at work and had to wait until I got home to find out what had happened..It was all over and 'habemus papam' had been declaimed across the Square to an apparently jubilant crowd..  I think it must have been a google alert report since that is the only thing I had fixed at the time. And I saw Benedict XVI on the central loggia of St Peter's for the first time.. It seemed like a dream come true. But what would he be like as Pope? I would have to wait until his homily at the inaugural Mass for an inkling as to the answer to my question.

To be continued

Friday, June 8, 2012

Corpus Christi 2012: A stunning little providence at the Oasis

I don't mind admitting that personally  the last several weeks have been a nightmare culminating with Colin's collapse. Thanks be to God he is now recovering well and the nurse came to take the blood test this morning..

Yesterday being Corpus Christi was special anyway, ending for me, with the televised Mass and Procession from Rome. But before that in the late afternoon something very special had happened in this house..

Just before Easter, I 'lost' my precious Rosary from Knock. I have put the word lost in inverted commas because I knew it couldn't really be lost. It was just hidden from me. Since it was given me by a most dear and holy friend, I had used it every day to pray the Rosary in church. On the day of its disappearance I brought it home in my pocket and put it on my desk. The next day, I could not find it. Every day since then I have fretted about it and searched for it in every possible place. The weeks and days went by. And I used my other Rosary, bought at St Emilion in 2008, but it wasn't the same somehow, being a simple wooden affair with the decades not clearly separated to the 'feel''..

Then in the late afternoon of Corpus Christi I decided it was time to clean my bedroom upstairs. During the course of that exercise I had to move the bed to sweep underneath it, and as I did so I heard the sound of beads and metal. There it was. My beloved Rosary in amongst the dust.! I don't know exactly how it got there but I guess I must have taken it to bed with me on the night of its disappearance and it  must have slipped out of my hand during the night. It went to church with me this afternoon and is now in my pocket. I am determined never to lose sight of it again.

Deo gratias

All along, the parable of the Lost Coin had been at the back of my mind and I have just reread it..

"Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15 8-10)

Even in the ordinary domestic round there are so many lessons to learn............

Tomorrow DV: The sixth Pope: 'The glory of the Olive'.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Good news. No hospital!

The doctor has ordered a blood test and prescribed various medicaments including calcium  and vitamin D. The blood test will be done at home by the district nurse as is the custom here. If it shows nothing worrying, and if after a month's course of prescribed medicine, his general constitution shows a marked improvement, he will NOT have to go into hospital. She was very thorough in the examination of the shoulder and I am finally satisfied that there is nothing broken.

During the course of the consultation, it became apparent from Colin's answers to her questions that he has absolutely no memory of what caused the incident, or of the incident itself. .

Afterwards I went into the Aubeterre pharmacy with my French friend and from there to do essential shopping in Chalais. It was approaching 1.30pm when I got back. I am afraid that after lunch I gave in to fatigue and had a siesta and feel much better now. Colin himself is much better and over the past week has gradually returned to his normal self.

I cannot thank you enough for the support of your prayers which, at the very least, I'm sure made all the difference to my ability to keep going. The Oasis is a little blog but it constitutes a powerful family. .

And tomorrow is Corpus Christi. I wish you all a holy and happy Feast day and hope to return to posting on Friday.

In Christo pro Papa ,


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Doctor is coming tomorrow morning

I'm terribly afraid she'll send him to hospital in Angouleme. Please pray that it won't be necessary.

Monday, June 4, 2012

No news until tomorrow

An extremely frustrating day. Colin continues to improve but I know he needs medical care. Everything went wrong today. Nobody could come, and as is the way with these things, through no deliberate fault of theirs.. Please continue your prayers. Tomorrow I hope to have definite news, and possibly to get back to  my posting plans. Above all I know that Our Lady answered my prayer on Tuesday night and is looking after him..

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oasis medical update

I should imagine that the non-appearance of the doctor was caused by a particularly heavy surgery and there was not time in the day to make any house visits. I am having to wait until Monday morning when I will ring to make another booking. In the meantime it seems apparent that in spite of most appalling bruies to Colin's shoulder he has not if fact broken it. I do not know exactly what happened because I was in another room at the time.  We agree though that he must have fainted.

Our heartfelt thanks for all your prayers.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sorry for silence. Collapse of husband on Tuesday evening..

The doctor was booked to make a house visit today, but did not turn up. I'd be most grateful for your prayers.
Will post again as soon as possible,. and hope to complete the 6 Popes series

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tito's been sick...

How we have come to rely on the So glad you're on the mend Tito. God bless you, and your work

Monday, May 28, 2012

Passport (back) to Pimlico. A place to hide: 1998-2005. (A life under 6 Popes continued)

After 18 months in Camberley I managed to return to the London flat just behind Sloane Square. Then came some fairly hair raising spells of supply teaching. The last of these was in a sort of day remand centre for under-age boys who has already been in trouble with the law -petty crime mostly but there were some individuals there who had violence with knives or even fire-arms, on their records. One had to teach them in locked classrooms, nornally in a team of two, but occasionally one was alone. At the end of my fortnight's stint, the deputy head, a former policeman, who really ran the place, asked me to consider staying permanently. He explained that he had been particularly impressed by my calm temperament. Besides I was the first supply teacher they ever had, during whose tenure  there had not been a violent classroom incident. Fortunately for me I had an interview the next day......The result was that I was apponted Head of English and Drama in a small private stage school in East Acton. The proprietor was a non-academic business woman but respecting what she read in my CV allowed me  to carve the English curriculum for the entire school (5-15 yrs), whilst always following the demands of the National Curriculum. As near perfection as any teacher could want. I would stay there for 7 years until I finally retired at the age of 63.I don't think the Deputy Head at the remand centre had the slightest idea of the sheer determination it had taken me to turn up at the place each day. I am glad however that I saw 'how the other half live.' Never again would I complain about any 'normal' teaching work I was asked to do

But what about Church. Here a strange thing happened. At the time I didn't realise how much in need I was of spiritual care. I did not return to my former parish on the other side of Sloane Square, but was taken under the wing of the priests and verger (a long-time friend) of the local Anglo Catholic church.. There the form of worship was much more in keeping with what I had been used to before the Council. Any stranger wandering in could have been forgiven for thinking it was an 'unreformed' Roman church. There were two strands to its public worship. The first which attracted most of its large Sunday congregation from across London and even further afield, involved the Sunday morning 'High Mass' which was always accompanied by its superb (paid) choir. Much of the polyphonic repertoire was familiar to me. Their men sang the Propers in English to Gregorian chant. In the evening there was sung Evensong and Solemn Benediction. It was the other side of it that I found so nourishing. Every morning, except Wednesday, the early morning Mass would be preceded by Matins and Lauds according to the Roman Breviary. Aside from the two priests, there were never more than three of us in the chapel of the Seven Sorrows where the Office was recited. I benefited from this hidden spirituality, this very private devotion. But all the time, I knew in my heart and soul that it could not go on. It sustained me during the period when I was recovering from my mother's death and while I was reestablishing my professional life, until you might say, I became strong enough to wake up and realise that I had to find my way back to Rome. The Church had torn herself apart during and after the Council but that did not make any difference to the fact of her valid Sacraments, which the Anglo-Catholics did not have, or to the authority she vested in the Petrine office, tracing it as having been founded by the Lord Himself. (As has been seen, it continues to fragment because it simply does not have that authority. The Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England could make itself as comfortable as it liked, but in the long run, it could only be a shortlived comfort, a staging post.. I had recovered during  a time of therapeutic 'sleep' And now it was time to wake up.

 One of the priests mentioned above had become my spiritual director. He was well aware of the moment when I came round from my torpor. He used to go on retreats run by Opus Dei and arranged for me to see one of their priests. Through my conversations and eventual confession to this Father, I was able to wade into the open sea, find the Barque of Peter and sail alongside her again. 'Opus  Dei' made no attempt to recruit me. (I had been afraid that they may try.) I gave their priest copies of my books and the last time I saw him, I asked whether it was permissible to keep the Anglo-Catholic priest as spiritual director. He said that it was OK for the time being.  A bit later on my director told me that 'Opus Dei' saw no point in recruiting me because as their priest put it, after interviewing me, hearing my Confession, and reading my books, 'A strong Benedictine spirituality is already in place within her.'   I suspected at the time that the Opus Dei' priest was directing my director and know from subsequent conversations that he was hoping that the latter would convert to Rome.
I had some inkling of how difficult this might prove because I knew his history, which involved a spell at the English College in Rome in the 1970s when Seminarians there were forbidden to wear clerical dress. He was thought to be 'too Catholic'  and left because the Ven.. College was not Catholic enough. He saw at first hand some of the effects of modernist interpretation of the Council. He returned to ministry in the Anglo-Catholic movement. And there he remains. Every so often he suffers from what he calls 'Roman' fever. He has not yet joined the Ordinariate. I must have another 'go' at him soon. I owe it to him after all. There is a lot more I could say on this matter, but it is really another story.
The Publishing years:
I found my publisher via Paul Burns (of Burnes and Oates) in 1998. It took some time to get the contract sorted out because Continuum was undergoing considerable developments at the time.  But in the end I wrote three books for them - strictly according to the Faith that I had been taught fifty years earlier. Indeed they turned out to be too traditional for their market. Maybe it would be different now, that is if their editors have kept up with the change in trend since 'Summorum Pontificum'..
By 2002 we began to come to France again for holidays.
My Catholic life was centred aroud the Cathedral and more particularly the Brompton Oratory.but I was not known to anyone in either place. That suited me.

Increasingly we would spend our holiday evenings discussing the Pope and his declining health. I was here when he finally gave up the struggle. In the absence of TV and computer we heard the news on French radio In the gathering twilight I went upstairs to our little chapel, took his picture from the wall,  propped it up in front of the altar and knelt to pray for the Church. I felt that his terrible suffering had been for a reason. At the end of his life I think he showed us more of what Faith was all about than had any of the many travels and kissing of tarmacs he had done in earlier years. God saved that meaning until the end. The photo remained in front of the altar until I came back in May.

On the day of the funeral, I flew back from Bordeaux.

None of my previous experience could have prepared me in any way for what would happen now.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dear Holy Father, we know your plate is full and send our love and prayers

But please do you have a spare 'Cardinal Dolan' up your sleeve whom you could put in place here. .

The General Medical Council of Great Britain is exceeding its moral brief (h/t 'Protect the Pope'. In sidebar here)

We have no effective leadership of the Church here. Having briefly reawakened during and after you visit our bishops seem to be fast asleep again. Please help us.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pope's butler did it?

Yes, sure he did. As it turns out. But I'd say the odds are that it's a great deal more complicated than that. .....Already there are suspicions that powerful prelates are involved.. Apparently the Pope himself thinks this may be the case, After all why is a  forty year old man going to sign away his security and respectability, unless he had been promised recompense later on. It just isn't explicable otherwise.There is absolutely no reason why he should do it. Unless he hates Benedict and has kept it secret all these years, or has become possessed. That last is always a possibility of course. In the meantime our dear Pope must feel almost completely unprotected. But then he probably knows the truth of that, better than we will ever do. May I ask you what you felt when he gave that lunch to the cardinals he said he regards as his friends. I remember thinking, is he a complete innocent ,or is he trying to shame them?. Judging from the looks on some of the faces I think it might have been the latter. Or was it that he was utterly genuine and they actually felt guilty for a moment.

I don't know. It's worse than 'The Mystery of Edwin Drood'.

God help our Pope.

Lost in France I: 1990-97 (A Life under 6 Popes continued)

We bought this house in 1989 and for three years my mother lived permanently in it, whilst I continued to teach in London, but spent all my school holidays here, Colin joining us when his work allowed. Then one Saturday morning in 1992 I was roused from my lie-in by what turned out to be an urgent phone call from our French next-door neighbour's daughter in Paris. She was ringing to let me know that during the previous week her mother had died suddenly from a heart attack. That was shock enough but as she spoke I realised that I had only spoken to my own mother a couple of days previously and she hadn't mentioned a thing. And now here was Yvette telling me that nobody had seen my mother since before the death. The house shutters remained closed and she was not answering the door. The local grocer had been leaving bread and milk on the front doorstep and she had taken that in, although nobody had seen her do that. Yvette as very kindly ringing to alert me to the fact that something was very wrong.

Fortunately Brent gave me compassionate leave and I was able to get down here by the following Tuesday.

My mother had no history if illness, physical nor mental. Up until the death of Madme Martin she had been mentally and physically active. She was very fond of her French neighbour. The death changed her for ever. I will not go into details but it became plain that she could no longer live alone and so I brought her back to England with me. She became very dependent on me and did not like my going out to choir practice and Sunday Mass. She would plead with me not to go. Then if I insisted she would cry. Within the space of one year she began to ring me at school with all sorts of stories why I must come home immediately., the final one being that the flat was on fire. I raced home from Willesden to find that it was all an invention. Clearly the situation could not continue. In summer 1993 I took early retirement and we moved permanently to France where we could look after her. We never really got to the bottom of what was the matter with her and it was not for the want of trying I can assure you. Every kind of physical test was done. Nothing showed up as wrong. Psychiatric tests proved equally inconclusive.  Her whole personality seemed to have changed.

I had for some years been developing a spirituality of gardening and in the relative peace and quiet of my new French life continued it and finally began to write about it. In 1994 my mother had a stroke which hospitalised her for 3 months.  She came home on the day we began our first Shakespeare Festival. We were told at the hospital that they could do no more for her. She seemed determined not to get fully better. In other words she had lost the will to live. Her decline took a further three years and finally  in May 1997 she had to go into the local cottage hospital. She could not swallow; I could not feed her at home. Two weeks before the end, she sank into a semi-coma, At the time we had some Irish Catholic friends living nearby. They knew a Polish priest who would come and at least bless her. (My mother was not a Catholic but in her final year had expressed an interest in being received. My former Parish priest in London had given me permission to provide the instruction in extremis. I had begun this but as the final months approached I had to accept that she was not capable of understanding.or of communicating on the kind of level involved.) I explained all this to the Polish priest. He asked us if there were any prayers we would like to say in English, reminding us that hearing is often the last faculty to shut down. And so we said the Our Father and the Hail Mary.  I am convinced she heard them..

I cannot write more about this period. The memories are still too raw.

A fortnight after the funeral I was back in London, searching for work and looking for a publisher for first of my gardening books  The French dream had turned out to be a bit of a nightmare but it had been the context in which the idea for a whole series was born.

Shortly afterwards it became apparent that the health of the Pope had begun its long decline

To be continued