Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Times & Seasons...

In the past 100 years or so, there have been many saints added to the calendar, and I have a devotion to quite a few of them. However, I rarely get to mark their feast days, because I prefer to say the Office according to the older calendar. This is because I feel that the Novus Ordo calendar is considerably impoverished with regard to the liturgical seasons.

One of my major bugbears is the idea of "Ordinary Time." It starts off after the Baptism of the Lord, stops for Lent and then starts again after Pentecost. It doesn't usually continue exactly where it left off, however, so, unless you have a table of movable liturgical feasts or an Ordo handy, you haven't got much chance of being able to guess which week of Ordinary Time it is. Very annoying.

The calendar for the usus antiquior is, in my humble opinion, much richer - especially if you follow the pre-1962 version. The year starts with Advent, then Christmas. This is followed by Epiphany, which has an Octave, and then we begin the Sundays after Epiphany.

This period is separated from the preceding one by a change in the colour of vestments and veils. It feels very different to the season "After Pentecost", even if the colour is the same, just as Advent is different to Lent and Christmas is different to Easter.

This year, there are only three Sundays after Epiphany, and then we enter Septuagesimatide, when the hangings, veils and vestments become purple, and, even though we don't yet abandon the Gloria, the alleluia is no longer heard: at Mass, (a tract is chanted instead). This all helps to prepare us for the rigours of Lent, being able to give due thought and preparation to the prayers, penances and almsgiving we intend to carry out, rather than Ash Wednesday (and the whole Lenten season) coming as a total surprise!

As well as the seasons, the old calendar helps to mark individual feasts as well - the whole concept of feast days means so much more if they are preceded by their Vigils. The idea of the Vigil has lost currency in the eyes of many people, being associated with the idea of carrying out one's Sunday obligation by attending the "Vigil" Mass on Saturday evening. In the old calendar, however, the Vigils were days on which you fasted before the feasting occurred! Most Vigils therefore had purple vestments at Mass to indicate their penitential and preparatory nature. And then, of course, the more important feasts had Octaves...

And so the calendar marked the seasons and times of the year, with feasting and fasting, joyful celebration and sombre preparation. Simplifying the calendar has destroyed part of our Catholic heritage. Perhaps, just as the Friday abstinence rule has been reintroduced and some of the Holydays of Obligation have been returned to their proper days (at least in England and Wales) in order to reaffirm our Catholic identity, so also our calendar can be restored to its former glory.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Of Your Charity...

Of your charity, can you spare a prayer for my stepfather, Terry, who passed away at the end of October.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace. Amen.

May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Time For A Kitty Update...

Half term holidays are when teachers get to deal with personal stuff, like housework and laundry. In amongst all the other things that I've been dealing with this week, I had to take Monsignor Miaowrini to the vet for a check-up appointment. Cardinal Furretti had been taken in the last holiday slot...

On the morning of the appointment, I knew I needed to use desperate measures: out came Miaowrini's favourite fresh catfood, and, while she was scoffing the lot, I sneaked over to the cat flap to lock it. Further subterfuge was needed while I assembled the cat carrier, and then I proceeded to entice the cat into the bathroom - she's way too good at scooting out of my reach in a bigger room. Once the bathroom door was firmly closed, I was able to try to get her into the carrier.

I swear cats have the ability to grow six extra pairs of legs when confronted with a cat basket.

Fortunately, I escaped serious injury this time round, and only sustained a few scratches. Once at the vet's, Miaowrini seemed as reluctant to leave the carrier as she had been to go in. I actually had to up-end the carrier while the vet reached up inside it to grab the cat.

After the examination, Miaowrini positively shot back into the box... though it didn't stop her from yowling at the top of her voice for the entire journey home.

She now appears to have forgiven me... despite His Hermeneuticalness pointing out that cats cannot forgive anything, I know (and every other cat owner can bear witness) that cats have an amazing ability to bear a grudge...

Anyway, I discovered that my experience of taking cats to the vet is not an unusual one: Simon (of Simon's Cat fame) appears to have had an identical encounter...

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Modern Technology...

The Church has been a driving force in progress and the development of technology for hundreds of years. Despite this, the Church is often portrayed as being opposed in principle to technology.

In a recent talk, Cardinal Sarah appeared to weigh in against the use of modern technology when he criticised the use of mobile phones for praying the Office, because of the distraction that mobile phones provided, and the fact that we use mobile phones for other, more profane purposes.

I believe he is mistaken on this point.

Certainly I think that we will always have a need for the physical liturgical books, if only because they don't run out of battery! And I understand the Cardinal's point about the books being set aside for the worship of God. But I think that mobile phones (and e-readers) do have a place in helping people to pray "in every place" (1 Tim 2:8).

To begin with, there is the sheer convenience of using one's mobile phone. For many years I carried my copy of the Office around everywhere with me. This had all sorts of knock-on effects, not least the necessity of having a very large handbag. Now, not only can I manage without a handbag, I can have the Office, Missal, Graduale, Bible, catechism and any number of spiritual writings of the Saints available at the touch of a button. Cardinal Sarah himself admitted the convenience of prayer using a mobile phone.

Of course, given the number of social media apps available on mobile phones, there is a need for self-discipline. I suspect that this might have been one of the aspects the Cardinal was thinking of when he declared that praying the Office on mobile phones was not something he would encourage.

But phones are extremely sophisticated now. Not only can notifications be silenced or turned off while in church, but the internet can be disabled completely ("flight mode" is an easily accessible, one-touch control for most phones) or, if the particular resource needs internet access, a do-not-disturb option can generally be set if someone is concerned about their ability to resist following up on the number of Twitter notifications they have received while in church.

Some people can be shocked at the sight of someone else using a mobile phone in church, but as more and more people use their phones for reading, I think this will become less of an issue.

As for phones being put to profane uses, maybe it is more helpful to think of it the other way around: having prayer apps on your phone helps to bring the Sacred into our everyday lives.

Friday, 20 October 2017

A Plug For The Sisters...

I first came across the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate through the excellent Day With Mary events which are held at various parishes. The Day With Mary was an annual treat at Blackfen, and we've been fortunate enough to hold the event in Margate for the past few years. The Sisters are a real inspiration for everyone who encounters them, they exhibit such joyfulness and serenity in their vocation.

The last time I had an opportunity to chat to a few of the Sisters, I found out that, when not involved in the DWM apostolate, they run the Holy Cross bookshop in Catford. Not only can you find bibles, prayer books and the lives of the saints, but also devotional items such as rosaries, statues and even mantillas.

However, as you might expect, this is no ordinary bookshop. There is a chapel at the back, and every Thursday, from 12noon to 2:30pm, there is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and silent adoration. The Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and Divine Praises round things off at 3:10pm - Benediction cannot be given because there isn't a priest available.

Due to the Sisters' commitments with the DWM, the bookshop is closed on Saturdays (and obviously it's also closed on Sundays, Bank Holidays and Holy Days of Obligation) but, for those of us unable to make a mid-week trip to Catford, there is a new website and mail order service. Also, if there is anything specific that you are looking for, you can email or call, and they will try to help.

If you do want to pay the Sisters a visit, it is advisable to phone (020 3441 8240) or email first, as they do very occasionally need to close - but this is announced in advance on their answering machine.

With Christmas coming up, you might be thinking about buying cards and little stocking-fillers, and I do encourage you to support the Sisters in the good work that they do.

Isn't Time Fun When You're Having Flies...? one frog said to the other!

I hadn't intended to stop blogging, I just couldn't think of anything positive to say, given the situation. I thought a short break (albeit an "unofficial", unannounced one) might help to restore some much-needed perspective.

And now I see, to my utter amazement, that my short break has actually lasted ten months, and I'm very nearly ready to post more stuff about Christmas.

I was very moved when I received a message, via His Hermeneuticalness, from one reader who said I should start blogging regularly again. So there is at least one person keeping an eye out for activity on my blog. Somehow I doubt that he was hoping to read any more cat and seagull posts, but we shall see what comes up...

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Getting Into The Festive Spirit...

20161221_151954I haven't had a real tree at home since the arrival of my two kitties in 2010. Having to remove kittens from trees and avoid stepping on bits of smashed Christmas tree bauble is not my idea of fun. However, the cats are rather more sedate these days (ie. too lazy to trash Christmas trees) and as most of my neighbours appear to have gone all-out on the fairy lights theme, I had a real hankering for a proper tree of my own.

Once again, I left its acquisition a little late. The problem is that I don't feel "Christmassy" until around Gaudete Sunday. The tradition in my family was to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve - but my mother bought the tree some time before that, and left it outside until the big day. But that's just not possible for me now.

I therefore nearly had to resort to another dwarf Alberta Spruce, as I couldn't find any "proper" Christmas trees. Finally a sales assistant in one shop brought out their last potted Blue Spruce with a slightly embarrassed air. It was easy to see why the tree hadn't been bought by anyone else: it was seriously lopsided and had several "bald" branches. It was such a sorry sight that the assistant even offered to reduce the price...


Once home, I trimmed the branches a bit and positioned the tree carefully so the lopsidedness was less apparent. Then I unearthed my collection of Christmas decorations. Cardinal Furretti demonstrated a keen interest in tinsel and had to be discouraged from batting at the baubles. Monsignor Miaowrini, on the other hand, was fast asleep.


Unfortunately I seemed to have lost my tree lights... I tried to find a small set of white lights, but the only ones available seemed to be coloured (or in strings of 100 or more; way too many lights for my tiny tree!)

After a couple of days without lights, I decided that blue lights were better than no lights, and so went out and bought some.


It's now Christmas Eve, and I've said Vespers. As I'm going to have a short nap before going out to Midnight Mass, I have put the baby into the Crib and positioned my wise men across the room, ready to start their travels...



Here's wishing all my readers a very happy Christmas!

Sunday, 18 December 2016


IMG_20161218_152559 We are now on the home straight as far as Advent is concerned: last Sunday was Gaudete Sunday, when rose vestments brought a little lighter note to the seasonal preparations. At St. Austin & St. Gregory the members of the regular Latin Mass schola had a week off due to the visit of Cantabo Dominum; and the congregation got to listen to some good "tunes."


The O Antiphons started yesterday, and so today we sang Veni, veni, Emmanuel, which I love. Today we also had our children's Crib Service, which was the first opportunity I have had for singing Christmas carols - and now I am beginning to feel all Christmassy.


I think it is time to dig out the box with all my Christmas decorations and the crib from the bottom of my wardrobe. I am even contemplating a Christmas tree... I haven't had one since I adopted Cardinal Furretti and Monsignor Miaowrini, as I thought they would possibly view it as a challenge to see who could get to the top and/or a kitty-scratching post. They have left this year's Advent wreath unscathed, however, so maybe they have reached the point when they are too indolent to clamber up fir trees in pursuit of pretty glass baubles.

Then again...

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A View From The Pew...

I am not a theologian. I am just a laywoman attempting to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, and thereby get to heaven. I have no doubt that, should I attain my goal, this will be via a lengthy stint in Purgatory, and by the grace of God, through the intercession of our Lady and the assistance of my Guardian Angel and the saints.

The uncertainty about whether I attain the heavenly realm is in no way due to any doubts about the mercy of God. Rather it is due to my own knowledge of my sinful tendencies, and the possibility, through God-given free will, that I might commit a mortal sin. I have, as we say, "got form." This year I celebrated the 24th anniversary of my reversion to the faith, but it has been a long spiritual route-march with many falls and stumbles along the way rather than an instantaneous and complete conversion of life, and I haven't finished the journey yet.

The spirit is willing, and all that, but... well, you know the rest!

However, since my reversion, no matter whether I stumbled on my path to holiness (or even walked in completely the wrong direction), I knew that there was a correct way that I should be trying to follow, and I knew that this direction was signposted clearly through the teachings of the Church.

These teachings are clear. They have been based on what our Lord Jesus Christ said and did and on the teachings and traditions passed on by the successors to the Apostles, particularly the successor to St. Peter. It was to St. Peter that our Lord Jesus Christ gave the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the mission to strengthen and confirm his brethren in the faith. The teachings are so clear that it was possible to put them into a little Penny Catechism, in simple question and answer form so that pew-fodder such as myself could understand it. We were later given the Catechism of the Catholic Church, less easily digested, perhaps, but still clear. You can look stuff up. In the index. And it can all be traced back to the beginning - the teachings of Christ - although some of it had to be thrashed out in Councils and Papal documents to make it absolutely clear.

Hopefully, despite my waffling, you can see where I'm going with this...

The current lack of clarity in Amoris Laetitia is profoundly distressing. Papal pronouncements are not meant to be ambiguous starting points for discussion - rather, they are meant to explain the teachings the Church has held since the beginning. The fact that four Cardinals of the Church felt that the Apostolic Exhortation needed clarification is disturbing enough. The silence of the Holy Father on the questions raised is even worse. The Pope is meant to teach us, not leave us to figure it out for ourselves. Mankind is fallible, and is expert at rationalising, excusing and explaining failure to follow the moral law. What he needs is encouragement to strive to keep that law, safe in the knowledge that there is a right path.

Otherwise, why bother even to try?

(The photo above is one I took of Cardinal Burke and Fr. Timothy Finigan, on the occasion of the Cardinal's visit to the Shrine of St. Augustine in February 2015. Cardinal Burke was one of the four Cardinals who submitted the five dubia to Pope Francis.)

Gaudete Sunday Treat...


We are in for a real treat this Sunday! The schola Cantabo Dominum, a group from Canterbury Christ Church university will be singing for the Missa Cantata at St. Austin & St. Gregory's, Margate. They visited for the first time quite recently, for the feast of Christ the King, and they sounded awesome.

The music will be novel (lots I have never heard) - Lotti's Missa Brevis in D minor, Haydn's Ave Maria, and Palestrina's O bone Jesu and Alma Redemptoris Mater. Thanks are due to the Latin Mass Society which has given a grant to cover the expenses of the schola.

Hopefully I will be able to get a few photos!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

I'm Still Blonde...

Regular readers of this blog (if I still have any) will know that I have had many battles trying to find my perfect shade of blonde. I have finally given up, at least until I start to go grey. I have managed to grow out nearly all of the bleach and dye I had on my head, and I am now a dark blonde - though some might consider the shade to be more mousey brown.

Proof, if needed, of my natural blonde credentials was provided earlier. I had to get petrol. It was one of those new "pay at pump or pay at kiosk" places. I was very keen to ensure that I didn't lose my card or pay for someone else's petrol, and so had to concentrate...

I managed to get everything done, and, feeling rather smug, I drove off to buy myself a cheeseburger. In the queue for the drive-in, another motorist beeped me, and gesticulated wildly.

It seems that I'd driven off with the petrol flap wide open and the cap hanging down. Oops...

Feast Of Christ The King...



We had a real treat this Sunday - a visiting schola came and sang at this morning's Mass for the Feast of Christ the King. I was delighted to hear Byrd's Mass for Three Voices for the first time.


You can see more photos of the Mass over on Flickr - and a couple more shots of the schola, Cantabo Dominum...

Many thanks to the Latin Mass Society for the grant which has allowed us to host the singers.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Multicultural Enrichment...


We had a lovely treat after Friday evening Mass in Margate. The local Keralan community has a tradition of taking a statue of Our Lady round from house to house during the month of October, and praying the rosary. And, in order to start off on the right foot, so to speak, the statue was brought to church for a blessing after Benediction...

It was great to see so many people at Benediction - and to hear the enthusiasm with which everyone joined in with the Latin hymns. A fabulous reminder of the universal nature of the Church (and the sacred language which unites us.)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Our Fascination With Felines...

I have occasionally wondered whether I write too many cat posts.However, whenever I suggest that I might stop, the feedback is overwhelmingly in support of my continuing kitty updates, from the Kitty Kill Count in the sidebar (which does not show up in RSS feeds, unfortunately) to health updates and general reports and photos of the antics of Cardinal Furretti and Monsignor Miaowrini.

There really does seem to be a fascination with cats on the internet - and much more so than with dogs. There is the LOLcats site with pictures and videos of cats,along with amusing captions. There is one for dogs as well, but that was an offshoot from the original idea

Our fascination with cats is enough of a phenomenon to make advertising agencies sit up and take notice. Ikea, the Swedish furniture chain, even went as far as running an "experiment" with 100 cats let loose overnight in one of its stores - and then used the resulting film footage for an advertising campaign.

The idea that cats provide good PR has even got through to our political masters.

Larry, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at Number 10, has his own Twitter account. Journalists in papers such as The Telegraph report on Larry's (in)famous lack of application at his mouse-catching task (last I heard, he'd caught two) but the fur really flew when, in the recent political upheavals, it was suggested that David Cameron was leaving Larry behind because he had never really liked the cat.

Forget the fact that the Prime Minister of Great Britain had resigned and was being replaced after the Brexit referendum. The really important political question was whether David Cameron was a heartless monster who disliked cats... I'm not joking - in his last PMQs, David Cameron actually went so far as to deny the accusation and brandish a photo of himself with the cat on his lap as proof of his kitty-loving credentials. Personally I am unconvinced - he doesn't look at all comfortable, though Larry looks happy enough.

Other government departments decided to get cats to deal with the rodents in the buildings - and were quick to set up Twitter accounts and Instagram pages. Cats are good for PR. So now we have Palmerston, the Foreign Office cat (he has three Twitter accounts - @DiploMog being the official one along with @PalmerstonFOCat and @PalmerstonCat ) and Gladstone, Chief Mouser to the Treasury (two accounts - @HMTreasuryCat and @GladstoneCat ). Given that the cats can't take photos or tweet for themselves, it suggests that some of our civil servants have been given this task... and not a single soul of any political persuasion has protested. They know there would be uproar from the public if the kitty updates were stopped.

And now it appears that the National Trust has decided cats are an aid to increasing visitor numbers at its properties... people want to see the cats, and are willing to explore the stately homes and gardens in search of the famous felines.

So what is so fascinating about cats?

Personally I think it is the fact that cats appear so self-sufficient. Dogs are loyal, but they show unswerving and undiscriminating loyalty to their owners, no matter how badly those owners treat them. Cats, on the other hand, will go wherever they want. If you don't treat them well, they will go and find somewhere more congenial. Zephyrinus has two cats who prefer to stay with him rather than their real owner a few doors away. My cat Miaowrini was very timid at first, and would hide at the slightest noise. One of the most moving moments for me was the realisation that, when seriously injured a few years ago, Miaowrini dragged herself back home. At that moment, she chose me...

Dogs have owners; cats have slaves.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Up Close & Personal...

There's something very soothing about sitting on the beach on a Sunday evening... even when the gulls start demanding treats...

Retreat For Young People...

I received an email from Damian Barker asking me to advertise the following weekend... and despite being too old to go myself, I'm happy to pass on the information on the offchance that I still have a few young readers...

Young Catholic Adult Weekend, Douai Abbey 28th - 30th Oct 2016

Are you 18-40, do you want to deepen your knowledge of the Catholic faith, learn its devotions and meet like minded people? Young Catholic Adults are organizing a weekend at Douai Abbey in Berkshire) led by Fr. Thomas Crean O.P. You’ll be able to hear catechetical talks, learn how to sing Gregorian Chant, say the Rosary, socialize and have fun. Book soon as places are limited!

For updates goto:- For more details goto:- Prices start from £12.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Treat On The Feast Of St. Bartholomew...

A treat after lunchtime Mass today - Fr. McNally brought out his relic of St. Bartholomew (among a few others) for veneration...

I had forgotten that he was martyred by being flayed alive. On his blog Zephyrinus has a photo of the statue in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, in which St. Bartholomew is holding his skin. Gruesome but fascinating and demonstrating amazing skill on the part of the sculptor.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Contemplating Communion...

I find it strange why so many people get so very hot under the collar when the issue of Communion received on the tongue comes up. I don't claim to have any answers to this conundrum, but, since I have been on both sides, I thought I'd share my experiences, and explain my own position.

My profile mentions that my reversion to the Faith happened a little over twenty years ago. I was in severe pain, and had to hobble around with the aid of crutches. I received Communion on my tongue; I had to - my hands were busy keeping me upright.

My Parish Priest at the time was a nice enough chap, but of a rather liberal persuasion. At first I didn't perceive this very clearly; my own initial formation had been rather deficient and I was keen to remedy this in whatever way I could. So, when Father told me that it was more "adult" to receive Communion in the hand, and that this is how the Apostles would have received Him, well, I believed what he told me. After all, he was the Parish Priest, he'd studied Theology, and must therefore know what he was talking about...

I couldn't wait to be able to receive Communion in the hand, to be able to hold Our Lord for a few precious seconds before consuming the Host. Once I ditched the crutches, I stopped receiving on the tongue.

Kneeling was never going to be an option for me - I had to receive standing because of my mobility issues (even once I'd come off the sticks) but everyone was walking up to receive Communion, so that wasn't really a problem. However, I wanted to show reverence before Our Lord, and so would try to genuflect. This wasn't always very successful: in the absence of altar rails I would have to find the edge of a pew whilst en route, and this often caused me some anxiety - I didn't want the person behind me to fall over my outstretched limb. In order to avoid a collision (embarrassing for the person behind me, and painful for me) I would make exaggerated movements to signal that I was going to genuflect - not helped by the distance of the last available pew end from the front of the queue. This did not help me in achieving a prayerful frame of mind before I received Communion. But I was assured that it was one of the instructions resulting from Vatican II, and so I didn't argue.

I should explain that pride in my own intellectual abilities and my tendency to demand proof for everything (everything except the assumptions of the scientific mindset, that is!) had facilitated my departure from the Church... as a result, after my reversion, I was anxious to accept whatever the Church proclaimed. And I was assured that, prior to Vatican II, no-one understood what the Church actually taught, and they'd got the wrong end of the stick... especially the reception of Communion on the tongue...

My Parish Priest then persuaded me to become an Extraordinary Minister. I usually administered the chalice - which gave me quite a few opportunities to notice how little reverence was accorded to the Precious Blood. People would quite happily refer to "the wine," demonstrating a woeful lack of catechesis. The more I saw, the less inclined I became to receive from the chalice if given the option. After all, the Host on its own consisted of Our Lord's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It wasn't necessary to receive from the chalice, and vague assertions of how this made Communion "more complete" as a symbol rang very hollow.

As I learned more about the Faith (I owe a particular debt of gratitude here to the priests and laypeople involved in the Faith Movement), I deepened in my understanding and appreciation of the nature of the Blessed Sacrament. This was my Lord and God, here, in person; a physical presence. And in many places he was being manhandled - dumped, even - from a dish to a ciborium, or from one ciborium to another... and it hurt me, physically, like a hand around my heart, to see this lack of respect and love.

Instead of the chalice, I was often asked to give out the Hosts at Mass. I became aware that my fingers felt "grainy" afterwards - and each grain was the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The idea that a priest's hands are consecrated in order that he can hold Our Lord began to surface, along with thoughts of the fate of the Israelites who, although not priests, tried to steady the Ark of the Covenant to prevent it falling (surely the best of motives, but it didn't stop them being struck down!); I became more and more convinced that I had to stop acting as an Extraordinary Minister.

But I still received Communion in the hand. The final nudge came as I noticed that my palm frequently felt slightly powdery after the Host had been placed there. Unfortunately, from the pew there was no way to purify my hand after Communion, and I would resort to licking the palm and fingers which had come into contact with the Host, to ensure that no particles could be lost...

The ridiculousness of this soon struck me: none of this would be necessary if I received directly on my tongue. No anxious checking of palms and fingers before Communion to ensure that they weren't covered in board marker (for weekday Masses after school, I hasten to add) and no need to worry about profaning the Sacrament through unconscious wiping of my hand on my skirt afterwards. By cutting out the middleman (me) I could remove all worry and distress, and just focus on what really matters: receiving my Lord and God, whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

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