Saturday, 21 November 2009

A History of Christianity

There is currently a series running on Channel 4 called A History of Christianity I have been watching the catch up series currently available on bbc i player and have found them to be both interesting and informative and just wanted to make other people aware in case they are interested. I have included the programme information off the first three episodes below:

1. The First Christianity

When he was a small boy, Diarmaid MacCulloch's parents used to drive him round historic churches. Little did they know that they had created a monster, with the history of the Christian Church becoming his life's work.

In the first of a six-part series sweeping across four continents, Professor MacCulloch goes in search of Christianity's forgotten origins. He overturns the familiar story that it all began when the apostle Paul took Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome. Instead, he shows that the true origins of Christianity lie further east, and that at one point it was poised to triumph in Asia, maybe even in China.

The headquarters of Christianity may well have been Baghdad not Rome, and if that had happened then western Christianity would have been very different.

2. Catholicism: The Unpredictable Rise of Rome

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch's grandfather was a devout pillar of the local Anglican church and felt that any dabbling in Catholicism was liable to pollute the English way of life. But now his grandfather isn't around to stop him exploring the extraordinary and unpredictable rise of the Roman Catholic Church.

Over one billion Christians look to Rome, more than half of all Christians on the planet. But how did a small Jewish sect from the backwoods of 1st century Palestine, which preached humility and the virtue of poverty, become the established religion of western Europe - wealthy, powerful and expecting unfailing obedience from the faithful?

Amongst the surprising revelations, MacCulloch tells how confession was invented by monks in a remote island off the coast of Ireland, and how the Crusades gave Britain the university system.

Above all, it is a story of what can be achieved when you have friends in high places.

3. Orthodoxy - From Empire to Empire

Today, Eastern Orthodox Christianity flourishes in the Balkans and Russia, with over 150 million members worldwide. It is unlike Catholicism or Protestantism - worship is carefully choreographed, icons pull the faithful into a mystical union with Christ, and everywhere there is a symbol of a fierce-looking bird, the double-headed eagle. What story is this ancient drama trying to tell us?

In the third part of his journey into the history of Christianity, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch charts Orthodoxy's extraordinary fight for survival. After its glory days in the eastern Roman Empire, it stood right in the path of Muslim expansion, suffered betrayal by crusading Catholics, was seized by the Russian tsars and faced near-extinction under Soviet communism.

MacCulloch visits the greatest collection of early icons in the Sinai desert, a surviving relic of the iconoclastic crisis in Istanbul and Ivan the Terrible's cathedral in Moscow to discover the secret of Orthodoxy's endurance.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009


I found this passage while browsing on the Internet and thought I could not put it more beautifully myself so I thought I would share it with everyone:

Traditionally the ‘veil’ or ‘mantilla’ represent purity and modesty in many religions and cultures. A veil, or head covering, is a symbol that can enable the woman wearing it to ascend the ladder of sanctity. When a woman covers her head in the Catholic Church it symbolises her dignity and humility before God, not men.

The woman who covers her head in the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is reminding herself that she must be humble before God. As with all outward gestures, if it is practised enough it filters down into the heart and is translated into actions that speak volumes. The “veil” covers what the Lord calls, in Holy Scripture, “the glory of the woman”, her hair. Covering her hair is a gesture the woman makes spiritually to “show” God she recognises her beauty is less than His and His Glory is far above hers. In doing this she is reminded that virtues cannot grow in the soul without a great measure of humility. So she wears the veil to please God and remind herself to practice virtue more ardently.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Rural Church For Sale

The parish church of Long Lawford has come up for sale. I have written about this church before in ‘A Little Known Pilgrimage’. The village of Long Lawford unlike its neighbouring village of Church Lawford did not have a church until 1839 when John Caldecott had a church built as a Chapel of Ease to the parish church of St Botolph, Newbold Upon Avon, and was intended mainly for the use of the servants from Holbrook Grange where John Caldecott resided. As for many centuries people from Long Lawford had walked across the fields to Newbold Upon Avon church to worship. The church is now unfortunately structurally unstable and redundant and the villagers have had the neighbouring hall converted into a church.

St John's Church Long Lawford

If my memory serves me correctly the church was finally closed when the roof was in need of desperate repair and funds could not be found. Unfortunately as the church has been left unused for so long now it has fallen in to further disrepair.
On the estate agents website it is described as a Grade II listed former church premises suitable for redevelopment with outline planning consent. For the current selling price of £220,000 it will be interesting to see what a buyer can do with this unique building.

Monday, 14 September 2009

My Bicycle Ride and St Edith's Church Monks Kirby

I survived my bicycle ride. I managed to master the gears and am quite proud to say I did not have to get off to walk up a hill once. The journey took approximately 45 minutes to an hour each way (on the way back I knew where I was going so it was naturally that little bit faster) I am not sure whether that is a great speed but its half that which it would have taken me to walk according to Google. If I am completely honest I was slightly sore in places for about a day afterwards, nonetheless I enjoyed myself and would do it again. Now to share with you what I saw.

I knew nothing at the Church before my visit and so was naturally surprised on my approach to see such a large church in such a small village. Upon my arrival I was enlightened as to why this was.
Early Days
The first church on this site was built in 917 AD by Ethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great. In those days the village was called Cyricbrig and was recorded as such in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD.

The Arrival of the Monks
After the Norman Conquest, King William gave vast areas of land to one of his knights, Geoffrey de la Guerche, a Breton, who had supported him in the invasion of England. Geoffrey rebuilt the ruined Saxon church and dedicated his new church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Denis the Patron Saint of France. He also endowed it with a Benedictine prior and seven monks from the abbey of St Nicholas at Angers, France. In 1399 the Priory was transferred to the Carthusians of the Isle of Axholme, Lincolnshire, and a war with France had caused the dedication of the church to be changed to St Edith, a Warwickshire Saint.

The Reformation
The Carthusian Order having been dissolved in 1538 the priory and its property was given to Thomas Mannyng, Bishop of Ipswich. In December 1546 the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage were granted by Henry VIII to his foundation of Trinity College, Cambridge, in whose possession they have continued.
The Building of the present Church
In 1350 the Black Death swept across Europe and killed half the population of Warwickshire, the Priory fell into ruin and in 1360 the prior and the monks petitioned Pope Innocent VI to grant them an indulgence to use the money collected to rebuild the church, much of which can still be seen today. The lower part of the tower and the porch are the most substantial evidence of the monks rebuilding programme. The monks had some new bells cast for the new tower and incredibly one of them has survived. The present fifth bell was cast at Worcester circa 1390 and so the same sound the monks heard as they called the faithful to worship 600 years ago is still ringing out over Monks Kirby today.
The Porch
This is one of the oldest parts of the church and dates from the rebuilding of 1380. On the west wall there is a Latin inscription which translated states “Ye men and women pray for your souls”.
The Skipwith Chapel
On entering the church if you turn right and precede along the South Aisle you will reach the Skipwith Chapel. On the South wall is the hatchment of the Skipwith Coat of Arms. The Skipwith family lived in the nearby manor of Newbold Revel for over 200 years, until 1862. The state then had a variety of owners and in 1946 it was acquired by the Sisters of Charity of St Paul as a training college for teachers. On the east wall are two small panels carved with Coats or Shields of Arms and in the corner are the remains of a small Piscina. The Chapel now houses a statue of Our Lady and Baby Jesus which stood for many years in the convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Monks Kirky and was presented to the church when the convent was closed on the 2nd of April 1977. It serves as a reminder that the Sisters served this and neighbouring communities for 104 years.
The Chancel
As you face the Altar on your right, in the corner, is a piscina which was once used for washing sacred communion vessels. Next to it is a blocked doorway once used by priests and then a heavily restored triple Sedilia which enabled them to take a short rest during the long services. On the north wall are two Aumbries probably used to hold bread for Mass. High upon the wall is a King Charles II Coat of Arms erected to commemorate the restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

The North Chapel
In the north east corner is an alabaster tomb of Sir William Fielding who died in 1547 and his wife Elizabeth. Both are clasping prayer books and have three rings on each hand. Note the family shield of three lozenges. The other tomb is to his son and heir Basil Fielding. Strangely his death, in 1585 is left blank on the edge of the tomb, but that of his wife in 1580 is recorded. Note the carvings of the children along the side of the tomb.
The Organ
This is contemporary with the Victorian restoration. The organ was built by J. Walker of Brandon, Suffolk in 1868.

The Blocked Doorways and Small Windows

Along the north aisle are three blocked doorways a reminder of the location of the monk’s quarters. The monks would have had there own access to the church and the high doorway was probably from their sleeping area. The lower doors gave access to a cloister area which, although in ruin, existed up to 1840. There are also two small windows high in the Chancels north side which would have given the monk’s a view of the altar.

The Memorials
Along the north wall are memorials to the fallen of World War I and members of the Fielding family. In particular are two white marble monuments of very similar design, one to the 7th Earl of Denbigh, died 1865, and his wife, died 1847; the other is to Lady Augusta Fielding, died 1858; and between them three small tablets to other members of the family.

The Clock
The clock, built by Valentine Hanbury of Northamptonshire in 1804, replaced an earlier clock of 687. The clock had stood in the Ringing Room of the Tower and was replaced in 1961.

The Bells
The first reference to bells in Monks Kirby was in 1552 when six bells were recorded. The current tower possesses a fine ring of eight bells which were rehung in a new steel frame by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1921 and augmented by the addition of two new bells.

The Parish Chest
In here were once kept important documents such as wills, churchwardens’ accounts and priests’ vestments. Notice the number of keyholes that the chest could not be unlocked unless two keyholders were present.

The Stained Glass
Not all the stained glass has survived the year, which is to be expected of a church who such a long and eventful history. Stained glass is not the easiest to photograph but I have included some of my better shots in a slide show below:

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to St Edith, Monks Kirby and would like to write a few words of thank to John Illingworth who wrote ‘A Short Guide to St Edith’s Church’ and whose words I have used to form this post, Thank you.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Taking Inspiration from Catholic Mom of 10

After enjoying my visit to St Andrew's Church (Rugby) on Thursday I was rather disappointed on Friday when I realised many of the other churches in my area were out of reach if you did not have your own transport.

Having pretty much resided myself to spending the day around the house I was working my way down my blog list when I came across Jackie Parkes blog Catholic Mom of 10 Militant and an idea came to me. I could ride, I had often read about Jackie's ventures on her bicycle and so I went about equipping myself out with what I would need for my little adventure.

I no longer owned a bicycle myself so I found out my dad's old bike and checked the tyres they were good and the chain looked OK, so I packed a small backpack with drinks and a snack for when I reached my destination.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go. St Edith's Church in the village of Monks Kirby according to the Heritage Open Days Website it was going to be open from 9 til 5 so I had plenty of time to get there and the weather looked good.

Being resourceful I decided to Google Map where I was going and print it off to take with me. This is when I discovered just how adventurous my little plan was.

Firstly I could tell from my knowledge of the area that if Google was going to have its way I would be cycling through a ford which I knew only the toughest of tractors can get through so that would involve me taking a slight detour through some fields where I knew there was a bridge.

Secondly I noticed the distance and time. It was a 12 mile around trip and walking was estimated to take 2 hours one way. Now fortunately for me riding a bicycle, well is a bit like riding a bicycle, its something you never forget which was a good job because I was struggling to remember when I had last done so.

Not to let it deter me I just thought there is no rush and I can take it at my own pace and off I went a. So there I was a 'sensibly built girl' about to take on a 12 mile bicycle ride to visit a church in the middle of rural England having not ridden a bicycle in a very long time.

Touring some of England’s Heritage

I have about a month free between graduating from university and beginning my new career so having found out about Heritage Open Days I decided to see what was open in my area.

I have a particular fondness for old churches as many of them are hidden and largely forgotten about in our English countryside. This can be such a shame when there are so many hidden beauties stooped in English heritage just waiting to be found.

Out of pour necessity on my tour I decided to stay more urban in my search for English heritage as I do not drive and have to rely on public transport or my two feet and heart beat (i.e. walking) if I want to get anywhere.

Thursdays stop was St Andrew’s Church in Rugby.

The first chapel on this site is believed to have dated 1140 however the parish of Rugby was not created until 1291 at which time it was also dedicated to St Andrew. The present church is mainly Victorian, the Nave and Chancel dating from 1879.

It was designed by William Butterfield and has all the hallmarks of his designs – use of coloured stone, patterned floor tiles and coloured ceiling. It is a unique, in being the only church in the world that has two sets of bells hung for full circle ringing.

West Tower and North Aisle (14th Century)
The tower walls are 3.5ft thick and it is home to one of the two sets of bells. Five bells dated from 1711 and weighing 9.5cwt and rung for Sunday services. The north aisle formed the nave in the original 14th century church.

Clergy Vestry and East Tower (1895)
The spire is 182ft high and houses the second ring of eight bells weighing 24cwt and rung regularly for practice and for special occasions.

The Lady Chapel and Sanctuary (1879)
The Lady Chapel is set aside for private prayer. The east window above the high altar depicts Christ in Glory and the reredos is Alec Miller’s painting adapted from Fra Angelico’s ‘The Transfiguration’.

The Organ
Originally in the church of Noton-by-Galby, Leicestershire and brought to St Andrew’s in 1792. it has seen several changes and additions creating a fine instrument with 48 stops.

I would have very much liked to have taken some more pictures but I am afraid the light on the day was very poor so instead I have managed to find this one from St Andrew's Church Website as an example of the interior.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

The Day the Squrrel went to Church

This song had me and the children in stitches the first time we heard it I hope everyone finds it just as funny as we did.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Catholic Custom and Our Lady's Birthday

On Our Lady's birthday the Church celebrates the first dawning of redemption with the appearance in the world of the Savior's mother, Mary. The Blessed Virgin occupies a unique place in the history of salvation, and she has the highest mission ever commended to any creature. We rejoice that the Mother of God is our Mother, too. Let us often call upon the Blessed Virgin as "Cause of our joy", one of the most beautiful titles in her litany.

Since September 8 marks the end of summer and beginning of fall, this day has many thanksgiving celebrations and customs attached to it. In the Old Roman Ritual there is a blessing of the summer harvest and fall planting seeds for this day.

The winegrowers in France called this feast "Our Lady of the Grape Harvest". The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.

In the Alps section of Austria this day is "Drive-Down Day" during which the cattle and sheep are led from their summer pastures in the slopes and brought to their winter quarters in the valleys. This was usually a large caravan, with all the finery, decorations, and festivity. In some parts of Austria, milk from this day and all the leftover food are given to the poor in honor of Our Lady’s Nativity.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Heritage Open Days 2009, 11-13 of September

Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s architecture and culture by allowing visitors free access to interesting properties that are either not usually open, or would normally charge an entrance fee. Heritage Open Days also includes tours, events and activities that focus on local architecture and culture.Organised by volunteers - usually property owners or managers - for local people, Heritage Open Days is England’s biggest and most popular voluntary cultural event. Last year the event attracted around 1 million visitors. English Heritage gives central co-ordination and a national voice to the event.

Heritage Open Days provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy these sometimes hidden, often curious and always interesting places in English cities, towns and villages - and completely free of charge.

Civic society members, property owners, estate managers, visitors, conservation officers, company directors, parishioners, tourism managers, education officers - people from all walks of life who care about and take pride in the environment they live in make Heritage Open Days happen. We would like to bring people and places together, encourage you and thousands of others to explore the buildings on your doorstep and to become an active member of the community.

Follies, contemporary buildings, churches, factories, tunnels, temples, offices, private homes, industrial sites, castles, windmills, town halls - guided walks, concerts, re-enactment, trails, role-plays, children’s activities - the variety of places and ways to discover them are endless.
Heritage Open Days was established in 1994 as England’s contribution to European Heritage Days, in which 49 countries now participate.
You can view and print out events in your area by following the link below.

Event Directory

Friday, 7 August 2009

I am going to be a Godmother :-)

I am going to be a Godmother and I feel honored and privileged to have been choosen.

The Role of Godparents

It is an ancient custom of the Church that at the Baptism of infants, godparents be present to represent the whole faith community. To be chosen as a godparent is a special honor. You, above all others, have been entrusted with the responsibility to participate in this child’s Christian life and education. This privilege offers you the opportunity to develop a mutually enriching spiritual relationship- one that will last throughout this life and beyond. There are many ways you can nurture this special relationship and become a special friend to your godchild. Among them are:

Celebrate the anniversary of this holy day of Baptism each year with a visit, a call, or a card.

As your godchild grows, listen to and share in the struggles and triumphs of living a Christian life, and keep yourself informed on Christian doctrine and values, to be able to answer questions as they arise.

Encourage a consistent life of faith through special cards, letters, or gifts which celebrate holy events…Christmas, Easter… and personal growth events…graduation, first job, engagement. (Gift suggestions: A bible, spiritual book, rosary, religious jewelry, gift certificate for religious goods/books, retreat opportunity.)

Participate in, or send assurance of prayer, as your child receives the other sacraments, particularly First Communion and Confirmation, which complete initiation into the Church community.

Be supportive of your godchild’s parents in their role as the primary religious educators of their child.

And, most importantly, become a model of Christian living for your godchild, through daily prayer, virtue, and active participation in parish life and liturgy.

By living a Christian life in partnership with your godchild, both of you will experience the great joy of sharing a life of faith.

I simply cant wait to be a special part if this little childs life.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

MASS Precautions!!!

Just wondered what type of precautions are taking place in people's parishes to help prevent the spread of the Swine Flu. Today in Mass it was announced that:

1. Holy Communion would only be offered under one kind.

2. A friendly smile was to replace the hand shake for the sign of peace.

3. Holy water fonts would for the time being remain empty.

I myself would just like to emphasis the important of basic hand hygiene as the Flu viruses are made up of tiny particles that can be spread through the droplets that come out of your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.

When you cough or sneeze without covering your nose and mouth with a tissue, those droplets can spread and others will be at risk of breathing them in. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, those droplets and the germs in them are then easily spread from your hand to any hard surfaces that you touch, and they can live on those surfaces for some time.

Everyday items such as door handles, computer keyboards, mobile and ordinary phones and the TV remote control are all common surfaces where flu viruses can be found. If other people touch these surfaces and then touch their faces, the germs can enter their systems and they can become infected. That’s how all cold and flu viruses, including swine flu, are passed on from person to person.

Hand-washing technique with soap and water: NHS

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Catholic Clothing

I was browsing the Internet today for a gift for a Catholic friend of mine among my finds were some Catholic T shirts here are just a few I really liked (each comes with its own explanation which I think is perhaps a little unnecessary for most but thought I would include it under each T shirt just in case).

There a three distinct persons in one God. The Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three-In-One. Get it?

Jesus gave the keys to Peter and the Catholic Church started. Protestant denominations can trace their origins to Luther or Calvin or Zwingli. None but Catholicism has an unbroken line of succession all the way back to St. Peter, the first Pope. Thats the reason why the tagline reads "Can't beat the real thing" It was also a tagline for Coke a while back and the particular font used.

It is perhaps a little difficult to read the small print so I have include a large pictures of the whole text below:

Just in case anybody is interested the website I found these on is crazy tees.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Cardinal Newman to be Beatified!!!

I leave Birmingham at weekends when possible and travel home to see family and friends. There is often news on my arrival back on a Sunday evening or Monday morning and this weekend was no different.

This evening when I approached the Oratory for Vespers I saw they had a Flag flying at full mast I thought this to be very unusual as it usually stands bear, just imagine my delight when I entered Church to find that on Friday the Pope had authorised the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate a miracle attributed to the Venerable Servant of God, John Henry Newman.

I have a particular devotion to Cardinal Newman which has grown along side my faith as a convert to Catholicism and pray daily that like Deacon Jack Sullivan that my own Father who on a daily basis at every waking moment endures horrific and debilitating back pain is also granted a miraculous healing through the intercession of Cardinal Newman.

Birmingham Oratory Newsletter below:


The Provost writes

Many of you reading this will already be aware of the great news which reached us on Friday last, July 3rd. That morning, in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI authorised the issuing of a Decree recognising the authenticity of a miracle obtained through the intercession of Cardinal Newman.

The miraculous event took place in August 2001, when a permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Boston, USA, named Jack Sullivan, was cured of a crippling disease of the spine. His prayer to Newman had been prolonged and intense and finally on that August day, the prayer was answered.

Careful investigation into the event, undertaken by both doctors and theologians, led to the conclusion that what had happened could not be explained in terms of medical science, and could be ascribed to Cardinal Newman’s intercession. That verdict was accepted last month by the Cardinals and Prelates of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, and on Friday by the Pope himself.

People all around the world have greeted this news with great joy and thanksgiving. It is the culmination of fifty years’ work, centred here at the Birmingham Oratory, which has involved so many people, many known to us personally, and not a few no longer with us here on earth.

What happens next? Various conversations will take place in order to fix both a date and a place for the ceremony of Beatification. Given that summer holidays are now beginning, it may be a few weeks before these important decisions can be made. Once the ceremony has taken place, Cardinal Newman becomes “Blessed John Henry Newman” and he will have his own feast day in the Church’s calendar, as well as special prayers and readings for his proper Mass and Office.

The significance of what is to happen is huge. Cardinal Newman has long been admired by people around the world, whether for the beauty of his prose, his deep theological and philosophical writings, his inspiring sermons and poetry.

By beatifying him, Pope Benedict is holding up to the whole Church the life and teachings of Cardinal Newman as a sure guide for us to follow, and as an inspiration for the Church today. Cardinal Newman foresaw many of the problems that both church and Society have to contend with in our day and age. He will be an authentic teacher for the Church in a new way now that he is to receive the ‘honours of the altar’.

We should regard it as an enormous privilege to be able to come to the Oratory he founded, to walk in the spots where he walked, and to be in a very special way heirs to his great tradition. In the months to come this Oratory will be a worldwide focus of attention and there will be much work to be done as we prepare for the great day of the Beatification.

Please keep the Fathers in your prayers at this time and especially thank God for the enormous grace He has bestowed on us through His faithful servant, John Henry Newman : Te Deum Laudamus!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

War isn't Hell. War is War, and Hell is Hell. And of the Two, War is a Lot Worse

Hawkeye: War isn't Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chalk full of them - little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

Today marks the first day of the year for Priests and to commemorate this occasion I have posted below a wonderful poem which I came across while searching for my next cross stitch pattern on 'Holy Needle' which Zetor author of Mog's Blog kindling made me aware of when I posted about my cross stitching activities last month (Catholic Cross Stitcher).

Beautiful Hands of a Priest

We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek it while tasting life's woes.

When we come to this world we are sinful,
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hands that make us pure as angels
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness
Their dignity stands alone.

For there in the stillness of morning
Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
There God rests between the pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of a priest.

When we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and sin'
Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
Not once but again and again.

And when we are taking life's partner
Other hands may prepare us a feast
But the hands that will bless and unite us,
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress,
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask Him who chose them to bless

When the death dews on our lids are falling,
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised o'er us in blessing
The beautiful hands of a priest.

I really like the way it incorporates the priest's hands in every stage of our lives from birth till death.

God Bless Our Priests

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Catholic Quiz: What Kind of Catholic Are You?

The Catholic blog - Catholic Mom of 10 Militant has been debating what it is to be a traditional Catholic so for the fun of it I decided to see if I could find out and in my search came across

There are lots of different quizzes on the site including one entitled 'What Kind of Catholic Are You' and well I just could not help myself and gave it a go.

The quiz asked 25 multiple choice questions on all different aspects of the Catholic faith. I scored 90 out of 100 which labeled me a Very Traditional Catholic (was not really surprised).

Upon requesting more information I was told the following about myself

You'd like the church to revive the time-honored devotions, liturgical practices, and strong institutional discipline that prevailed before the Second Vatican Council—and you're hoping that Pope Benedict XVI will lead the church in exactly that direction. Your favorite hymn is probably a traditional Latin composition such as the "Panis Angelicus," and your favorite pope is probably a pioneer of the Church's great liturgical tradition such as Gregory the Great. You loved "The Passion of the Christ."

Some of what I read did have me smiling and other parts a little surprised however, I would like to comment that my favorite hymn is actually Tantum Ergo.

Go on have a go, take the quiz remember to have fun and not take it too seriously (and let me know your score) lol.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Birmingham Oratory Young Adult Group

Birmingham Oratory has recently begun a Young Adult Group which I have been attending. We meet for friendly discussion and debate on the first Thursday of every month. Last month we had a speaker on Islam and Sharia Law, which was both informative and insightful.

This coming month (July) we look forward to a speaker who is going to give a talk on the Humanity of the Un-born.
The group also tries to gather together once a month for a social event, in May a number of us visited the Dominican convent at Stone in Staffordshire where we joined in a Rosary festival. The weather was wonderful on the day and all the Sisters were very welcoming and even invited everyone on a short tour of the their convent. The photograph above is of the shrine of Our lady at Stone and was taken on the day when it was adorned with flowers.

This coming weekend (20th June) with the promise of good weather we are venturing outside again to Cannon Hill Park (pictured above) for boating and a picnic.

A few of us are also planning to attend the Vigil of Reparation in Honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is being held at the Birmingham Oratory on Friday night 19th/20th June, with High Mass will be at 8 p.m. on Friday (the Feast of the Sacred Heart) and Vigil following immediately afterwards in the Cloister Chapel. Where there will be Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary & other prayers. Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be at 2.30 a.m. It will end with the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 a.m.

The Permanence of Marriage

As with many areas of Catholicism my desire to find out more has been stirred by debate. The debate of marriage has arisen many times among friends at university and coming from very diverse backgrounds and faiths we all have differing opinions and the discussion that evolves can be very interesting.

The area of Catholics and the breakdown of marriage from my experience appears to be a matter that individuals only really know a lot about if they have had the unfortunate business of being involved in such matters themselves, or perhaps as a priest, close friend or relative. Consequently I have found that if one is not careful they can make harsh judgements based on ignorance and misunderstanding.

After debating this topic among friends I decided as we all live in a world where divorce is becoming more frequent I should find out more so I got hold of two books both of which I have found very useful.

Firstly- What Binds Marriage?: Roman Catholic Theology in Practice by Timothy J. Buckley. (If you click on this picture I have included a link and you can browse through a couple of the pages).

and secondly- Divorce and Second Marriage. Facing the Challenge of Kevin T. Kelly.

both were very insightful books and I would struggle to recommend one over the other.

In the debate which I was involved the particular statement that had unsettled me had been:

"It may be against the Catholic Church's laws to marry a divorced person without annulment; however, doing so will only hurt your relationship with the Catholic Church. You can still have a good relationship with God..."

It took a little more searching before I could find an answer to this question which seemed to portray my thoughts well, in reply to one of my threads on Facebook someone wrote:

Modern man has a tendency to think that the "will of God" is always the same as their own desires. If the Church says something contrary to their own desires, then the Church must be wrong.However, the will of God is primarily transmitted through the Catholic Church. Far from being antagonistic, the teachings of the Church are in accord with the will of God.

One of my favorite passages from the Church Fathers comes from St. Augustine, and I think its relevant here:"Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, Her as a Mother: Him as a Lord, Her as His Handmaid, as we are ourselves the Handmaid's sons. But this marriage is held together by a bond of great love: no man offends the one, and wins favour of the other. Let no man say, "I go indeed to the idols, I consult possessed ones and fortune-tellers: yet I abandon not God's Church; I am a Catholic." While you hold to your Mother, you have offended your Father. Another says, Far be it from me; I consult no sorcerer, I seek out no possessed one, I never ask advice by sacrilegious divination, I go not to worship idols, I bow not before stones; though I am in the party of Donatus. What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, if he avenges your offended Mother? What does it serve you, if you acknowledge the Lord, honour God, preach His name, acknowledge His Son, confess that He sits by His right hand; while you blaspheme His Church? Does not the analogy of human marriages convince you? Suppose you have some patron, whom you court every day, whose threshold you wear with your visits, whom you daily not only salute, but even worship, to whom you pay the most loyal courtesy; if you utter one calumny against his wife, could you re-enter his house? Hold then, most beloved, hold all with one mind to God the Father, and the Church our Mother. Celebrate with temperance the birthdays of the Saints, that we may imitate those who have gone before us, and that they who pray for you may rejoice over you; that "the blessing of the Lord may abide on you for evermore. Amen and Amen."-Expositions on the Psalms, Psalm 89 (88)

The Church is the Bride of Christ. Since Christ is God, and God is our Father. His Spouse, by extension, is our Mother. The two are of one Will, and would be impossible to have a bad relationship with one and a good relationship with the other.

Its common practice for parents to leave their children some portion of their estate when they die. Yet, if you despise your Father, do you expect your Mother will leave you an inheritance? Or if you despise your Mother, do you expect your Father to do the same? If we desire our spiritual inheritance and riches (Heaven), then we must love both our parents: the Blessed Trinity and the Church.

However this being said there are those out in the world who undoubtedly consider this to be wrong and would use their lives as a example.

My research has certainly been an eye opening experience and I would not consider it complete but simply paused at this moment in time. The most important thing I have learnt in all my research is that above everything divorce is the sorrowful breakdown of a family unit which devastates the lives of all those involved and for a practising Catholic is can place them in a daily spiritual turmoil and struggle with their most inner self.