Friday, 29 May 2009

Extraordinary Form - Novus Order Comparison

It is around this time of year that you come across the transferred feast days of The Ascension and Corpus Christi. Fortunately I live in Birmingham and have the opportunity to attend Solemn High Masses in the Extraordinary Form on the actual day of the feast at the Birmingham Oratory.

I attended my first Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form last year for The Ascension. I was absolutely astonished as what I saw and came away thinking

“Why oh why would anyone want to offer even a Solemn High Mass Novus Order to God when you have the option of the Extraordinary Form.”
I honestly thought it would compare well to being in God’s choir of angles singing to his Glory and the most beautiful thing this side of heaven (and at this point in my journey of faith I was not even familiar with what some famous priests had to say of about this Mass).

Now a year on and again I am attending the same Masses with a better (perhaps only slightly in some areas) understanding of the Mass. However I still can’t help but draw comparisons between the two.

My latest comparison has been bothering me, as the Mass did not seem to flow it was like watching a rock concert video with the volume turned down with classical Music playing loudly on the radio, it just did not work.

I have posed the following question to Fr Tim Finigan but he is away enjoying himself in Lourdes and I also tried to Google it but could not quite find the right phrase to search so I was hoping someone else might be able to answer it for me. I am afraid it is rather to the point so please don’t be upset by the way I phrase things but here goes:

Why can’t the priest just get on with it?

This evening I went to a wonderful Novus Order Mass in Latin to celebrate St Philip’s day. The accompanying choir and music were also fantastic however I did experience some mild frustration waiting for the choir to finish singing the Sanctus so the Mass could continue. Half the congregation did not know whether to stand or kneel so you just end up standing their like a lemon waiting to be allowed to go on. While I realise the prayers between the Sanctus and the Consecration are important I think my time would be better spent in prayer preparing myself to receive Christ in Holy Communion.

Perhaps I just have the wrong attitude; perhaps I could just simply stand there and pray instead of allowing myself get annoyed. Either way, why was it decided we (the laity) need to hear these prayers.

I much prefer the extraordinary way of letting the priest rattle through the prayers, shutting the choir for the Consecration and then continuing.

Acknowledgements to Matthew Doyle for the top photograph.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Embarrassing Church Stories

Just wondering if anyone has any embarrassing/funny stories they would be willing to share about something that happened during, before or after Mass.

As I am asking, I will go first:

Children seem to have a way of embarrassing you when you least expect it. I went to church on Saturday once for confession with the children. The youngest at 6 runs to the back of the church to see which priest it is. The oldest at 9 wants to know as she has a favorite priest to whom she likes to confess. She shouts "Which one it is?" and the youngest who is know standing just outside the confessional door shouts back "I DON’T KNOW! IT'S THE OLD ONE!". At that point we were the only people in the church, he most certainly heard what she shouted and I just wanted the floor to eat me up!!!

Monday, 25 May 2009

A Little Known Pilgrimage

Today I walked the same path as many centuries of Catholics before me. The village of Long Lawford near my home town 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.. 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)

The history of worship in Long Lawford however, goes back much further than this. For many centuries people from Long Lawford walked across the fields to Newbold Upon Avon church to worship.

This is the very same path I travelled today and the one I wish to invite you on if you continue to read on. (Path of travel indicated by black dots on photograph above)

Today you begin the walk by passing through a small housing estate before exiting out onto open fields. It is easy to see in which direction to head as having been walked along for centuries the slight contour in the field shows a path which is easily visible even on the photograph above. (Area indicated on photograph by red dot).

After walking through two fields you come to a field divided by the meandering river Avon which by using the narrow foot bridge you are able to cross to the other side. (Area on photograph indicated by blue dot).
Once across the river keeping the farm house to your left and small cluster of trees to your right you walk towards the railway line where you find a short tunnel which you go through. At this point you are walking on the farmer's drive way and need to remember to be respectful of his property and watch out for cars. After passing through the tunnel you continue along the farmer's drive way for about 20 yards before you veer off left through an area of small trees and brushes, again you can see the path to take as the growth of vegetation has been kept back my walkers. (Area indicated by yellow dot on photograph).
You then pass over a small pig sti and bridge covering a ditch and enter a field where right before you is the piece de la resistance ... an avenue of huge old Oak trees flagging your path. An inspiring view which really brings home for how long this path has been travelled as these huge old Oaks would have been but small saplings when the very first Catholics walked this path to church. (Area indicated by purple dot on photograph).
Upon reaching the other end of this field by walking through the trees you reach the village of Newbold Upon Avon and the Church of St Botolph. (Area on photograph indicated by green dot).

St Botolph's Church (Newbold Upon Avon)

The current church dates from the fifteenth century but it is built on the site of an earlier church. An interesting feature of this church is that it has two porches one on the south side and one on the north side. Back when the church was used by parishioners from both Newbold Upon Avon and Long Lawford the parishioners from Long Lawford used only the south side entrance and sat only on the south side of the nave whilst the parishioners from Newbold Upon Avon used the north door and sat on the north side of the nave! Even now story has it that as late as 1990 at an Induction Service one person from Newbold Upon Avon, was shown to a seat on the south side refused it!

St Botolph's Church being a historical place of worship has an extensive graveyard and many of the older graves are naturally Catholic and so having only recently discovered the Society of St Justin I offered up Pater Nostor, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri before making my way back home.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Catholic Creativity

Last month I wrote a post about a Lego Church I had built complete with church gate, graveyard, war memorial, landscaping and my piece de la resistance... inside the church itself a tabernacle.

Well I let myself get carried away again and decided my Lego Church required a Lego Parish so here we are:

Starter homes complete with window baskets and flowers.

Executive style home complete with garage, car, first floor balcony and garden for the dog and kennel. Afterwards I was looking around on the internet to see what other creative things people have been doing with lego and below are just two examples of what I found.

St. Benedict's Alpine Lego Church (make mine look like a small chapel).

I have put together a slide show of the interior features of the church and included the simplist (yet effective) explanations that accompany them on the website.

Front Doors of the Alpine Lego Church
Above the doors of the Lego church is the inscription "AMDG". This is Latin for "ad majorem Dei gloriam", which means "for the greater glory of God." As you peek into the church, you can get a glimpse of the main altar.

Main Altar
As you look through the doors of the Lego church, you can see the main altar. This is the table where the Eucharistic Sacrifice is offered. During Mass, the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. Above the altar is a crucifix showing Jesus on the cross. The crucifix helps people remember that Jesus offered in the Eucharist is the same Jesus that was offered on the cross. At the foot of the crucifix is St. John and His mother Mary.

Bird's Eye View of the Lego Church
The roof of the Lego church is removable, allowing a good look into its interior.

Massive Beams
The beams holding up the roof are massive, but also ornate.

Floor Plan of the Lego Church
Click on this diagram to see some of the features of St. Benedict's Alpine Church.

This is a special box where the consecrated Eucharist is kept. Above the Tabernacle is a Monstrance. This is a beautiful container used on special occasions to hold and display the consecrated Eucharist. It is usually made of gold because nothing is too good for God.

Sanctuary Lamp
When the Sanctuary lamp is lit, it tells people entering the church that Jesus is present in the consecrated Eucharist located in the Tabernacle. To the left of the Paschal Candle you can see a statue of St. Benedict. This shows St. Benedict during the time that he lived as a hermit.

Paschal Candle, Baptismal Font and Altar Rail
The Paschal Candle is a large candle that signifies Christ's illuminating light. It is lit during the Easter season. The baptismal font is a basin that contains holy water that is used during baptism. Christians believe that baptism washes away our sin and makes us adopted brothers and sisters of Christ. During communion, the people kneel at the altar rail to receive the Eucharist from the priest. Just like our body needs food, our soul also needs food.

Priest's Chair
This is a chair where the priest sits during parts of the Mass. Altar severs sit on either side.

This is where the Gospel is proclaimed to the people.

St. Nicholas
This is a statue dedicated to St. Nicholas, who was a holy bishop known for his love of the poor and for children.

Statue of Mary Queen of Heaven
This is a statue dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Catholics love and honor Mary because she is such a good example and because she is the Mother of God (that is, she is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God).

Votive Candles
Here are some candles that people lit.

At the back of the church are stairs leading up to the balcony.

This balcony makes room for more people during Mass.

Stations of the Cross
Around the church are 14 crosses on the wall. They represent 14 scenes during the passion and death of Jesus.

Here is where people confess their sins to a priest. Jesus forgives their sins through the priest. Jesus gave his apostles the power to forgive sins and they passed it on to their successors, the bishops.

Stained Glass
This church has a stained glass window showing Jesus ascending into heaven. All you can see are his feet as He ascends into heaven.

I also came across this short video clip of the story of the Good Samaritian:

What kind of things do your children get up to (or perhaps it not your children but actually you - please do share).

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Evangelium Conference 2009

Berenike has very kindly made me aware of the Evangelium Conference 2009. Usually I am a little hesitant when I hear of events aimed purposely at the ‘youth’ as I have had some terrible experiences in the past when organisers of such events have tried to capture the attention of today’s youth (more about this in another post sometime). However the aim, programme, list of speakers and positive comments I have found while reading about this event have me thinking very differently in this case. Unfortunately my university schedule means that I am not sure yet whether I will be able to attend myself nonetheless this does not stop me promoting it to other people hence this post.

Explaining the Catholic Faith in the Modern World

7th – 9th August 2009, The Reading Oratory School

Download Booking Form (PDF)

Young adults (18 to 35) are invited to attend the second Evangelium weekend residential conference on ways of explaining the Catholic faith in the modern world. The Conference is organised by the Evangelium Project and is being sponsored by the Catholic Truth Society.
  • dynamic talks by excellent speakers
  • mix with other young people who share your faith
  • discuss and talk informally with our speakers
  • daily Mass and eucharistic adoration
  • opportunities for confession
  • relax in the beautiful grounds
  • opportunities for sport and evening entertainment

Some of our speakers:

  • David Quinn - journalist, former editor of The Irish Catholic and founder of the Iona Institute
  • Fr Brian Harrison - theologian, writer and associate editor of 'Living Tradition'
  • Dr Helen Watt - director, Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, London
  • Fr Timothy Finigan - parish priest and founder of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life
  • Fr Nicholas Schofield - author and diocesan archivist, Westminster
  • Joanna Bogle - broadcaster, writer, author of Feasts and Seasons
  • Dr Thomas Pink - philosopher, King's College, London
  • Fiorella Nash - writer and pro-life campaigner
  • Fr Jerome Bertram - author and historian
  • Fr Thomas Crean OP - author of A Catholic Replies to Professor Dawkins
  • Dr James Bogle - barrister, vice-chairman of the Catholic Union
  • Fr Andrew Pinsent - philosopher, former particle physicist at CERN

There will be more than twenty workshops to choose from over the two days of the Conference, led by experts in philosophy, theology, biblical studies, science, apologetics, teaching and communication.

There will also be an opportunity to learn more about music in the liturgy, in a workshop led by the Schola Gregoriana

The Venue:

The Reading Oratory School was founded under the supervision of John Henry, later Cardinal Newman, in 1859, and is today one of the top independent boys' schools in the United Kingdom.


Standard accommodation (full board): £95

Download Booking Form (PDF)

Spaces are limited to 180 guests, so please book early.

For more information or to reserve a place, call 07526 908741, or, or write to Evangelium, PO Box 28, Tenby SA69 9ZB

Praise for the first EVANGELIUM Weekend Conference - held summer 2008:

The best weekend of my life. It was really an answer to prayer. Before I could say, “Lord, I love you and accept the Church,” now I can say, “Lord I love you and I love your Church.”

All of our talks, discussions etc. were permeated by prayer. I'm leaving here rejuvenated both in my own faith and feel more equipped in sharing the riches of the Catholic faith. Please hold another conference next year.

Thank you very, very much - it has been priceless - I would love to come again! God bless you for organising this!

The high point for me was the way Holy Mass was celebrated. So much love and reverence.

Very high quality of speakers - fluent, full of interest and humour, and orthodox. A fine mix of people, all from different background but with an implicit unity of approach to their faith. Very encouraging and inspiring.

It gave me the inspiration and encouragement to challenge myself more, to dive deeper in searching my vocation and courage to be more outward about defending my faith.

Friday, 22 May 2009

My Rosary and Me

I have recently seen on a few Catholic blogs inspirational videos for the Rosary. I am particularly fond of this devotion and so decided to make a short clip myself of how my Rosary features in my life. However I don't have the facilities to create a video so have come up with the idea of using a slide show with special effects instead.

My hope in sharing is that through watching this video just one person might turn to Our Lady with a spare thought during their day.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Holy Days - Actual Day or Transferred!

Today I am going to be fortunate enough to be able to attend a Solemn High Mass of the Ascension in the Extraordinary Form on its former Feast Day as Ascension Day is now officially celebrated on the Seventh Sunday of Eastertide.

Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on the proper Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord at the Birmingham Oratory 8pm on 21st May 2009.

When I first learnt that Catholics had transferred mayor Feast Days such as Corpus Christi and Epiphany to the Sunday following the actual day. I thought it was very strange, the only secular comparison I could make was the custom of celebrating a birthday with a party at the weekend even though the persons actual day of birth had occurred during the week. This custom having come about because friends and family usually have more free time at weekends and so more people are able to attend any event that may be arranged.

However this comparison never did quite match up, as even if you chose to celebrate a persons birthday at the weekend rather than on the actual day, the actual day is never allowed to pass without some kind of acknowledgement, some effort, even if it were just small would be made to recognise the persons birthday on the actual day. In addition a person's birthday and major celebrations of Our Lord and Saviour are not of equal importance (athough this could be just my personal opinion).

Consequently I have never been in favour of transferred Feast Days and have always attended Mass on the actual day whether the Mass itself is actually be say for that purpose or not. That way I knew, even if it were just in my heart that I did not allow the day to pass without some acknowledgement of its relevance and importance to me as a Catholic.

It simply seems to me that my life should be arranged around Our Lord and not the other way around. What do you think?

Feast Days to be celebrated on their actual day or transferred to following Sunday . What do you prefer?
Actual Day
ugg boots

If you perfer Feast Days to be celebrated on their actual day a petition has been posted regarding the celebration of Holydays asking that Archbishop Vincent Nichols reinstate the celebration of Ascension, Corpus Christi and Epiphany to their correct days.

You can Sign the petition here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Furness Abbey

Nestling into the depths of a rocky, and once-remote, valley lie the substantial ruins of a quite majestic monastery. This extensive site, displaying its sturdy, red sandstone buildings amidst the multitudinous shades of foliage, depicts a scene of timeless grace and beauty. Founded in 1123, originally as a Savignac house, the monastery was sited here in 1127. Absorbed by the Cistercians in 1147, Furness Abbey became the second richest Cistercian house in England.

In common with many of the large abbeys, the building works spanned several centuries resulting in a variety of styles and ideas. The remains of Furness Abbey church date largely from the 12th and 13th centuries when the original Savignac church was enlarged. The western tower (pictured above) was built after some reconstruction work in the late 15th century, and survives to a good height. A remarkably fine example of a canopied sedilia, including a piscina and a small cupboard, has survived in the presbytery. The craftsmanship employed in the intricate design work must have been of the highest quality, and it has withstood the test of time extremely well.
Along the eastern edge of the cloister are five splendidly preserved Norman arches (pictured above) leading into the usual claustral buildings. The chapter house (pictured below) must have presented a magnificent sight with its 12 bay vaulted ceiling (which, sadly, no longer exists), its array of twin lancet windows with elaborate moulding, and lots of polished marble. There is a good example of how beautiful the moulded piers looked with their stiff-leafed capitals, as one still stands to full height.

Little survives of the south and west ranges, but the small chapel of the infirmary is amazingly well-preserved. It is complete with vaulting, the circular wall benches, some lovely window tracery, and the remains of an elaborate piscina. The water course (pictured below) that travels the entire length of the abbey which would have supplied the kitchen and toilets with clean running water is especially impressive. The entire complex still exudes the power and importance that Furness Abbey held in medieval England, and the surviving features with their intricate designs further demonstrate the wealth of the abbey. When considering the situation of this monastery to Scotland, and how frequent Scottish raids occurred during those times, it is incredible to see so much remaining almost untouched by the troubles.This site gave me the greatest pleasure to explore. The sheer size was overwhelming, the walls were so warm and welcoming, and every nook and cranny just begged to be investigated for fear of missing some delightful treasure. Fantastic place to take the children to explroe and enjoy a picnic on the grass.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Genuflection – An Agnostic’s Prospective.

On my still relatively short journey in faith I have experienced a great deal of variation in certain practices, so much variation in fact I was surprised when I learnt that Catholic meant united/unity.

When I was still very new to the Mass one of the things I noticed that differed greatly was the practice of genuflection. Of course the first time I saw someone do it I actually thought they were simply tying their shoe lace but soon realized it was something entirely different when everyone kept doing it.

Sitting at the back of church following along to the Mass with my little prayer book I would watch the priest, altar boys, and people intensely as I was very eager to learn but to shy to ask questions and wanted to be respectful and careful not to accidentally offend by acting inappropriately. I was especially eager to watch how people behaved and what they did, for example when to stand sit or knee during Mass, and once I knew what genuflection was I would watch people do that also.

I would watch in amazement as people crossed before the high altar and tabernacle. Some would genuflect planting their right knee firmly to the floor, some would do a half hearted curtsy, some a head bob as if they were gesturing someone in the street and some would simply pass by without any acknowledgement.

At a time I was still gathering my thoughts together regarding my faith and would probably have regarded myself as an agnostic or simply rather confused by it all, nonetheless I thought to myself:

'If these people (Catholics) honestly believe that the true presence of Christ is contained within that tabernacle on the high altar then why are they not falling to there knees'

I would even place a little bet with myself when I saw someone approaching as to how they would genuflection. Without exception the only ones who planted their knee to the floor were the priests (although I must add that was only in one particular church and have noted irregularity even among religious).

At the time and even now I remain a little disheartened, here I was being careful not to offend by trying to respect the Churches customs and all around me there were Catholics who did not even respect them themselves. In the end I came to my own conclusions:

I may use a quick head bob to acknowledge a friend I see on the other side of the street.

I would certainly try to do a curtsy if I ever meet the queen.

HOWEVER in the PRESENCE of OUR LORD I will ALWAYS GENUFLECT with my right KNEE to the GROUND for long as I shall live (or my health permits me to do so).

Monday, 18 May 2009

Peterborough Cathedral

The first abbey was established at Peterborough in around 655 AD and it has thus been a site of Christian worship for almost 1350 years, one of the first centres of Christianity in central England. The first Abbey was largely destroyed by Viking raiders in 870. In the mid 10th century a Benedictine Abbey was created by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester from what remained of the earlier abbey, with a larger church and more extensive buildings. The abbey’s ancillary buildings were destroyed in Hereward the Wake’s resistance to the Norman takeover in 1069, but the church survived until an accidental fire swept through it in 1116.

Only a small section of the foundations of the Saxon church remain beneath the south transept but there are several significant artefacts including Saxon carvings from the earlier building.

A new church, the present building, was begun by the then Abbot (John de Sais) in 1118 and finally consecrated by Grossteste, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1238. This church is built largely of Barnack Ragstone a local limestone quarried at Barnack near Stamford.

Despite general changes in style, by 1193 the building was completed to the western end of the Nave in the Norman, or Romanesque, style in which it had been begun. Only in completing the Western transept and adding the Great West Front Portico in 1237 did the medieval masons adopt the then more modern gothic style. Apart from changes to the windows, the insertion of a porch to support the free-standing pillars of the portico and the addition of a ‘new’ building at the east end around the beginning of the 16th century, the structure of the building remains essentially as it was on completion almost 800 years ago.

Most significantly the original wooden ceiling survives in the nave, the only one of its type in this country and one of only four wooden ceilings of this period surviving in the whole of Europe, having been completed between 1230 and 1250. The three other examples are at Zillis in Switzerland, at Hildesheim in Germany and at Dädesjö in Sweden. Of these the longest is less than half the length of the Peterborough ceiling. It has been over-painted twice, once in 1745 and again in 1834, but retains it retains the character and style of the original.

The main beams and roof bosses of the tower date back to the 1370’s and those of the Presbytery to 1500. The renewal of the Presbytery roof coincided with an extensive building programme which included the processional route provided by extending the East End of the church. This ‘New Building’ is an excellent example of late Perpendicular work with fine fan vaulting probably designed by John Wastell, who went on to work on Kings College Chapel in Cambridge.

In 1539 the great abbey of Peterborough was closed and its lands and properties confiscated by the king. However to increase his control over the church in this area he created a new bishop and Peterborough Abbey church became a Cathedral.

Two queens were buried in the Cathedral during the Tudor period. Katherine of Aragon’s grave is in the North Aisle near the High Altar, whilst Mary Queen of Scots was buried on the opposite side of the altar, though her grave is now empty (she was re-buried in Westminster in 1612).

St Oswald’s Arm (the Abbey’s most valued relic) disappeared from its chapel about the time of the reformation but the chapel still has its newel staircase or watch-tower where monks kept guard over it day and night.

All the stained glass windows, the High Altar and medieval choir stalls and all the monuments and memorials of the Cathedral, were destroyed by Cromwell’s soldiers in 1643.

The Central tower, which had been restructured in the 14th century had to be re-built again in the 1880’s and after this the whole central and eastern area of the church required refurbishment, providing an opportunity for the creation of the fine, hand carved choir stalls, cathedra (bishops throne) and choir pulpit and the marble pavement and high altar which are at the centre of worship today.

In the 21st century the Cathedral still follows its centuries old pattern of daily worship, though the medieval monastic pattern of 8 services per day has been reduced to morning prayer, daily Eucharist and evensong on most days of the week. The Cathedral remains, however, a vibrant and developing community with outreach and education programmes, performances and civic events.

It is most certainly worth a visit and there are many examples of fine masonry and carpentry work however there is a rather large crucifix that hangs from the ceiling in the centre of the nave which I can' t say to to my liking. What do you think?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Modesty, Women and the Church

As my faith has grown I have noticed it making a difference in many aspects of my life, some of which I would not have thought would have been affected. One of the more surprising areas for me was the affect it has had on the way I choose to dress.

Over time I have noticed myself ruling out clothes I see in shops because I find them inappropriate and instead opting for something in a more conservative style, something I would not have perhaps done before. Now I am generally careful how much chest I show, choose skirts that are knee length or longer and trousers which are not too tight.

I have always liked to dress smartly to church. My reason for doing so at least when I was very new to the faith was simply because I was under the impression that’s what people who go to church did, later on it stopped being about the people and became something I did to honor God, which is the way it remains even till today.

My first reason however was quickly proved wrong, as before I could receive Holy Communion I would often watch other people as they walked to the front of church to do so and found myself disgusted by what I saw some people, especially young women were wearing.

By all means I don’t always wear my best clothes when I attend Mass as while I especially like to dress smartly for church on Sunday as it is the purpose of me going out, during the week I often attend Mass in the early evening after a day at work or university, consequently am usually wearing my uniform or trousers and a good pair of boots (I do a lot of walking when I am at university). Nonetheless feel I am always appropriately covered to attend church which is more than I would say for the women I saw.

With young children I have found positive reinforcement to be the best way to solve this problem however, have come up against a wall when it comes to influencing older children (and even adults).

On my travels I once went to a church with a dress code printed on a large piece of paper pinned to the notice board just outside the church. I did not like this idea. It made me feel uncomfortable and I would have felt unable to attend Mass if I had been in my university clothes as I more often than not wear jeans and I don’t like the idea of putting off or even preventing people from attending Mass. Neither is it tackling the source of the problem which in my opinion is the increasing lack of respect and reverence people have towards worship, the Eucharist and religious buildings.

While I would not confine this problem to women as I also like to see men and boys dressed smartly and hate to see unpolished shoes or trainer on altar boys I did manage to find a short piece about what one pope had to say on the matter.

From the encyclical "Sacra Propediem" of Pope Benedict XV-

19. From this point of view one cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the in decency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toilettes as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly Author of purity."

While researching this topic on the interest I also found this comment made by a priest concerning church attire:

I have found that it is not peoples regard for dress codes which have relaxed greatly in recent decades but the attitude, the respect and reverence people have for worship and church buildings. From brides walking down the aisle chewing gum to funeral pallbearers wearing tennis shoes, to members wearing flip-flops, shorts and tank tops on Sunday, the lack of respect and reverence to worship is disgusting.

These same people would never allow their children to play in a sporting event out of uniform, or apply for a job interview themselves dressed inappropriately. Sunday worship should be no different!

I also said I was raised to believe people should dress “respectfully” in the house of the Lord - and that means fully shod and covered up enough so it doesn’t distract other worshippers.
In contrast however this following comment left me with a lot to think

More important than what people are wearing is the reason for being in church in the first place. Maybe it would be better if we could all enter God’s house blind. If we can’t see what people are wearing, we can leave our judgments and prejudices outside and use the time to learn more about God’s purpose for our lives.

What do you think?

Would you like your church to have a dress code?
whooga uk

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Catholic Cross Stitcher

I have always enjoyed arts and crafts every since I was young. When I was in my mid-teens I was introduced to cross stitch and it remains a hobby which I continue to enjoy today. I have always kept to the more simple prints such as cartoon characters as they feature large blocks of the same colour which make them easier to stitch. That is until recently when as I was searching through the shelves for my next project I saw a lovely cross stitch of Our lady with the Child Jesus.It was harder than anything I have every tried before, the different shades of skin, hair and cloth meant that many of the colours were interwoven, nonetheless as it was such a special find.

As you can not doubt imagine it is not every day that you find a cross stitch of this theme on the shelf of an arts and crafts store in England and would usually have to specially order them over the Internet which adds on the additional cost of postage and packaging. Anyway I just had to have it. It has taken me more hours than I can remember but just before I began writing this blog I finished it and here it is below.

If anyone would like the template that I followed for this design I still have it and would be quite happy to photocopy it and post or e mail it to you if they just let me have their address in the comment box of this post or indeed if you prefer my e mail address which can be found by viewing my profile.

Now that I now I can do these more interact designs I would like my next project to be the 14 Stations of the Cross however I do not know of any you can buy and will have to find good pictures that I can get transferred to template and have coloured threads made up for. So if anyone knows of any particularly good pictures of the Stations of the Cross please let me know.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Prayer Request for Successful Job Application

This summer I graduate from university and enter the real world. In preparation I am beginning to complete job applications in the hope that I will have a job to step into upon my course completion. It can be quite a stressful and anxious time. The interviews are nerve racking, there are challenging scenario questions and numeric tests to be completed. Then there is the watching and waiting afterwards to know if you have been successful or not.

At this time I ask if you would kindly say a short prayer me.

When I was searching I found quite a few saints named as the patron/ess of nursing however the one named the most is St. Camillus de Lellis.

St. Camillus de Lellis was born at Bocchianico, Italy. He fought for the Venetians against the Turks, was addicted to gambling, and by 1574 was penniless in Naples. He became a Capuchin novice, but was unable to be professed because of a diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. He devoted himself to caring for the sick, and became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome.

He received permission from his confessor (St. Philip Neri) to be ordained and decided, with two companions, to found his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick (the Camellians), dedicated to the care of the sick. They ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome, enlarged their facilities in 1585, founded a new house in Naples in 1588, and attended the plague-stricken aboard ships in Rome's harbor and in Rome. In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV, and in 1591 and 1605, Camillus sent members of his order to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia, the first field medical unit.

Gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607 and died in Rome on July 14, the year after he attended a General Chapter there. He was canonized in 1746, was declared patron of the sick, with St. John of God, by Pope Leo XIII, and patron of nurses and nursing groups by Pope Pius XI. His feast day is July 18th.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Morning and Evening Prayer - The Excitement and the Confusion

The exciting part is that today, finally I managed to acquire a Morning and Evening Prayer Book (with Night Prayers). I have been wanting to take up this practice for a little while now but have not had the money spare to purchase the book. Fortunately for me when I happened to mention in passing to a friend that I was having this difficulty she said she had just such a book going spare and would happily let is go to a good home for a fair price.

So here it is my new pride and joy:

My confusion however, is that I don't actually now how to use it, doh! My friend did run through it very quickly when she gave it me but I was still lost when I came to looking at it by myself and so have purchased the trusty CTS Guide. During the discovery of my faith I have found CTS books a fantastic resource and have acquired myself quite a little collection.

The back cover reads:

A beginner’s guide to praying the Liturgy of the Hours

This Guide is intended for anyone who wants to learn how to pray ‘The Prayer of the Church’, also known as the ‘Divine Office’, ‘Liturgy of Hours’ or ‘Breviary’. Promoted by the Church as a Prayer for the whole People of God (not only for religious or ordained), this Guide gets down to the basics of how to use the breviary itself, as well as suggesting how to pray well. It is intended for beginners, whether sharing in community or praying the hours alone. It can be used as a self-tutorial or a workbook for a small group. It will be of value for most English speaking editions of the
breviary, or its smaller editions.
Although I am finding it easy read and I do understand it I am still nonetheless struggling to master the prayer book and think I am going to have to find some time to go bother some other poor soul so they can actually go through it with me. I have never found it easy to follow written instructions and think having someone actually sit through it with me will help. I do feel a little frustrated however as it is going to have to wait till I get a day free from university commitments.

Until such a time I plan to battle on and see what I can manage by myself.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bolton Priory

Bolton Abbey is in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales on the banks of the River Wharfe. To take advantage of everything on offer be sure to make your visit a day trip. With just under 30,000 acres of beautiful countryside, over 80 miles of footpaths and ample space to run around and enjoy the fresh air, there is something for all ages. Explore the ruins of the Priory and discover a landscape full of history and legend, wander along the riverside, woodland and moorland paths, enjoy local produce in the excellent restaurants, tea rooms and cafes, treat yourself in the quality gift shops and food shop or simply relax beside the river with a picnic whilst the children play.

The High Altar
Topped by the magnificent East Window, once resplendent with stained glass, the original High Altar of the Priory stood, raised on a step spanning the entire width of the building. Now within the ruined part of the Priory, the altar is no longer in position, but the step remains, covered in grass and providing one of the settings for the Priory's biennial pageants. It was here that the canons would have celebrated Mass, concealed from the eyes of the laity by a large rood screen which stood where the East Wall of the Priory Church was built following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, in order to preserve 'the mystery' of the communion.

The Choir
Even in the ruins, this is an area of great beauty and serenity. Life at the Priory revolved around the acts of worship which took place thoughout the day, starting between midnight and 2 am and finishing at dusk. Within the stalls on each side of the Choir, the canons took their places to sing the various prayers, psalms and passages from the Bible, all, of course, in Latin.

The day was divided into twelve monastic "hours" between dawn and dusk, which varied in length according to the season of the year. There were seven "hours" of prayer and in addition there were personal prayers and various Masses. Religious houses were often paid handsomely, sometimes in land, to say Masses for the souls of the dead.

The following was the order of a priory day in summer as recorded in the Observances of Barnwell Priory:

Midnight - Matins and Lauds
Sleep in the dorter (dormitory)
Daybreak - Prime, followed by Morning Mass, private Masses and confessions
Chapter Meeting in the Chapter House
About 8 am - Terce followed by High Mass
About 11.30 am - Sext
Noon - Dinner in the Refectory
About 2.30 pm - None
Wash and drink, followed by work
Sunset - Vespers or Evensong followed by Supper
About 8 pm - Compline
Retire to the dorter to rest

The Transepts
Protruding from either side of the main body of the building are the North and South Transepts. The construction of these gave the building the shape of a cross, thus indicating that it was under God's protection. Within the transepts, against the north and south walls were altars, thus enabling each transept to be used as a private chapel for the canons' private masses. As late as 1920, remains of the altars were still visible in the transepts. The transepts are slightly offset from the main line of the building, and are not quite at right-angles to the building.
The Nave
The Nave, was mostly built in 1240. This was used for services for the lay people of the village, known at that time as Bolton-in-Wharfedale. When the Priory was closed in 1539, a church was still required to provide for the people of the area. In all probability, thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of York, the Nave was permitted to be retained to provide a church. Between 1539 and 1542 a priest was installed at the Priory by the Archbishop. Then, in 1542, the majority of the Priory estates were sold to Henry Clifford, First Earl of Cumberland, who continued a patronage of the Priory dating back to its earliest days. The Earl then installed a priest as chaplain of the Priory Church. Thus the Nave has been used continuously for worship for over 750 years, and contains many features arising from the continuous care which has been lavished on it during that time. From the Pre-Reformation sealed Stone Altar to the magnificent Pugin windows in the South Wall, the Nave contains many signposts to its devout and holy past.
The West Tower
In 1520, work began on the construction of a new tower to the west of the nave. Conceived by the Prior, Richard Moone, the tower was to be a great perpindular construction rivalling those at Furness and Fountains Abbeys. It is suggested that the decision to build the tower was taken after an earthquake rocked Yorkshire in 1485 and caused considerable damage to the towers of other religious houses, giving rise to concern that another earthquake might fell the main tower of the Priory, potentially causing appalling damage to the body of the church. Work came to an abrupt halt, however, in 1539 when the Prior closed, leaving the tower at one third of its original design height. At this point, the tower was not properly joined to the main body of the building, and was unroofed and unglazed. In 1984, a laminated pine roof, with a central boss in the shape of a white Yorkshire rose, was lowered onto the walls, and the windows and floor were completed, thus converting a stump of masonry into a noble porch with superb acoustic qualities.

The Chapter House
Each day, following the service of Prime, at about 8.30 am, the canons would assemble in the Chapter House to consider any items of business affecting the community of the Priory. These might be matters as simple as to consider disciplining a member of the Priory who had offended against the rules to dealing with spritual or commercial matters. The Chapter House was an octagonal building, seating up to 28 persons, and every canon had the right to be heard at Chapter meetings. The other crucially important purpose of the Chapter House was to provide a place for the canons to fulfill their duty to read each day one chapter of the Rule of St. Augustine. The Rule was divided into 8 chapters, and set out the basic tenets of the Common Life with the eighth chapter dealing with the observance of the other 7. The chapters were displayed, one on each wall, with the eighth chapter over the doorway, so that all who left could read it each day.

A summary of the Rule is:
Chapter 1: Purpose and Basis of Common Life
Chapter 2: Prayer
Chapter 3: Moderation and Self Denial
Chapter 4: Safeguarding Chastity,and Fraternal Correction
Chapter 5: The Care of Community Goods and Treatment of the Sick
Chapter 6: Asking Pardon and Forgiving Offenses
Chapter 7: Governance and Obedience
Chapter 8: Observance of the Rule

Officers of the Priory
There were various persons placed in authority within the Priory to oversee its daily running:

The Prior - who was the spritual head of the house, and also led the team responsible for the running of the Estate.

The Cellarer - who was the general manager of the estate. His duties were similar to those of a modern university Bursar. One of the Bolton Priory Cellarer's continuing preoccupations was that the estate never succeeded in becoming self-sufficient in corn, leading to the need to purchase and transport corn from some distance away.

The Sub-Prior - who deputised for the Prior in his absence. His normal duties covered spiritual matters and discipline.

The Sacrist - who had the special duty of care of the church, including its linen, ornaments and sacred vessels. This office was considered so important that it had a separate fund to maintain it, supported by its own flock of animals, which in 1321/2 comprised 296 sheep. At some priories, the sacrist and sub-sacrist took their duties so seriously that they both ate and slept in the Church.

The Refectorer - who also had his own fund and stock of animals. It was his responsibility to ensure that adequate food was available to feed both the occupants of the Priory and workers on any farms managed directly by the canons. Surpluses were sold to raise funds for the Priory.

The Granarer - given that grain was the most important foodstuff within the Priory's life, this office was considered to be one of great responsibility.

The Receiver - was always a canon, and had responsibility for maintain the accounts of the Priory. These were audited by Archbishop on his Visitations.

The Infirmarer - had responsibility for caring for the sick within the Priory.

The Dormitory
The Dorter - or Dormitory provided the communal sleeping accommodation for the canons. The dormitory was unheated. The canons' bedding comprised straw-filled mattresses with sheepskins to act as blankets. Compared with the size of the rest of the Priory, the sleeping accommodation appears very cramped, until one realises that there were never more than 19 canons living at the Priory. There does not appear to be any separate infirmary acommodation, so it is likely that medical treatment would have been afforded within the main dormitory when this was required. A night staircase ran directly from the dorter to the body of the Church, so that the canons had an easy means of descending for the Matins at 2.00 am. Clothing in these unheated buildings, clothing needed to be warm. The canons wore a black cassock lined with sheepskin, over which was a white rochet (or surplice), usually with tight sleeves. The outer vestment was a black cloak with a hood hanging down over the shoulders, which was in turn lined with sheepskin in winter. They also wore an amese - a garment worn over the head and around the shoulders, extending down to the waist. They also wore breeches, woollen socks and leather boots.

The Rere-dorter
The Rere-Dorter is another term for Latrine. In short, this was the canons' toilet and washing block. Built over a source of running water, which then drained down into the River Wharfe, and afforded relatively sophisticated facilities, although it should be borne in mind that the only water for washing was probably cold - winter and summer !

The Prior's Lodging
Only the Prior enjoyed private lodgings. These were originally located above the Cellarium, but were later moved to the end of the Dorter during the 14th Century.

The Refectory
All meals were taken in the Refectory. The mainstay of the canons' diet was bread, pottage and ale, supplemented by meat, fish and dairy products. It was usual in monastic establishments to allocate a kilogram of bread and approximately 5 litres of ale to each man per day. Wheat was a luxury item, and most bread was made from a combination known as mixtura. The amount of meat consumed within the precincts was about as much as is eaten today, and it will be appreciated that the nature of the manual work undertaken at the Priory meant a bettrer diet than that consumed in more sedentary religious houses. A considerable amount of fish was eaten at the Priory - mainly herring bought from the East Coast as opposed to fish caught in the Wharfe. Priory records show that the purchase of fish accounted for two-thirds of the kitchen's cash expenditure. Historical analysis of diet shows that for every 50 kilograms of grain consumed, there was approximately 8 kilos of dairy produce. Annual purchases of luxury items at St. Botolph's Fair included spices, raisins, almonds, figs and wine. Between 2,000 and 3,000 litres of wine were consumed each year at the Priory, mainly reserved for guests and for feast days. Almost a third of all the oats gathered from all sources by the Priory went into the making of ale. Given that the only other drink available was water, the considerable consumption of ale is perhaps understandable. This diet shows a lack of fruit and vegetables, and it has been suggested that Vitamin C deficiency was commonplace in the Middle Ages.

The Warming Room
Access to heating was a restricted luxury for the inhabitants of the Priory. Fires were not normally provided within the rooms of the Priory, as the canons were expected to live a life of frugality. Exceptions were made for the sick and for guests. Obviously, there would be a fire within the kitchen in order to heat food and to warm water for brewing the weak beer which was drunk at the Priory. In the winter, this would have made kitchen duties rather popular - although in the heat of the summer, the opposite might have been expected to be the case.
One concession was made to the rigours of life within the Priory - the Warming Room. To this room, each member of the Priory could retire for 20 minutes each day to take the chill from their bones. Aside from this small luxury, the canons were dependent on their woollen robes for warmth - it is for this reason that clothing was so heavy. Canons worked, worshipped, ate and slept in their clothes. Given that the Rule of Augustine describes bathing as something to be done only on medical advice, and counsels against too great a desire for clean clothing, one can imagine that the atmosphere within the Priory could at times be quite 'fragrant'. Incense, burned in places of worship, was used not only to send prayers to heaven in its smoke, but also mask the less agreeable odours of the time !

The Cellarium
The job of the Cellarer was one of the most important within the Priory. His was the responsibility for the purchase, storage and allocation of supplies for both the canons and the lay employees working on the farms and the estate. In some priories, the Cellarer was also responsible for brewing the ale drunk there. There were many threats to the food supply, including greed of bretheren and rodents. Were the food supply to run short, it might be difficult to procure more without delay, and this would in turn affect the ability of the Priory to function properly. Good management was therefore essential, as was security. The Observances of Barnwell Priory record an injunction to the Cellarer and his assistant, the Sub-Cellarer that:
"when he goes to dinner or to sleep, he is to take the keys of the cellar with him"

The Cloister
The construction of the Cloister began before 1200. A small open area enclosed by the walls of surrounding buildings, and skirted by a covered walkway, the Cloister was used by the canons for reading and meditation between the frequent summons of the bell calling them into prayer. Canons who had no other duties were required to spend their time in the Cloister in study and contemplation. A holy water stoup was set into the wall near the entrance to the Church, to permit canons to make the sign of the cross on his forehead, lips and heart before entering to show his desire for a pure mind, tongue and heart in his worship of God. The central area of the Cloister provided a sheltered space to grow herbs and some vegetables in even the harshest winter months. Being South-facing, the Cloister provided a good source of light, and the canons used this area for both reading and copying of manuscripts. To assist with this, small work-desks - carrels - were set around the Cloister.