Monday 25 February 2013

Is it licit to take a Pill that alters one's perception of reality?

Following in the footsteps of Timothy Leary, Joseph Shaw of the LMS muses on a Pill that can induce radical disconnection with reality. Well worth reading.

Just say no!

Heartwarming Catholic photo of the day...

My just-turned-four-year-old setting up his "altar" to "say Mass"

Conclave to convene sooner than thought, oath of secrecy extended,excommunication for breaches of security

Some exciting news just in from the Vatican Radio English News Service: the Holy Father has amended the rules governing the sede vacante period to facilitate a sooner start to the Conclave than would have traditionally been allowed under the previous rules which required that 15 days elapse before a conclave could begin.

Even more interestingly, particularly in the light of stories of potential leaks and tweets from the conclave (see Mulier Fortis on this here and here) is an amendment which extends the oath of secrecy to those technical personnel who are present to ensure that no recording or electronic "leaking" of the Conclave occurs.

And on the off chance that somebody wouldn't take the above seriously, one last change underlines the gravity of the solemn secrecy of the Conclave: the Holy Father has clarified that the "punishment for any violation of the oath of secrecy is to be excommunication
latae sententiae".

So there - utterly clear, no excuses for breaching the rules.

It sounds as though we may see the conclave convene sooner than expected. Pray! Pray! Pray!

Original text from

2013-02-25 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic letter motu proprio on Monday, in which he introduced a series of modifications to the laws governing the period sede vacante and the election of a new Bishop of Rome. The new Motu proprio replaces certain of the numbered paragraphs and/or sections of the text of the governing document, Universi Dominici gregis (UDG). Below are the principal highlights of the legislation.
By a modification to paragraph n. 37 of UDG

: Pope Benedict XVI allows for the College of Cardinals to begin the Conclave before fifteen days have passed from the beginning of the period sede vacante, provided that all voting Cardinals are present. The modification also provides that the Conclave must begin no more than twenty days after the beginning of the sede vacante, even if all the electors are not present.

By a modification to paragraph n. 48

: The oath of secrecy is extended to the individuals mentioned in Paragraph 55,2, among whom are the two "trustworthy technicians" who have the task of assisting the competent officers of the College in assuring that no audio-visual equipment for recording or transmitting has been installed by anyone in the areas mentioned, and particularly in the Sistine Chapel itself, where the acts of the election are carried out.

By a modification to the text of paragraph 55,3

: The punishment for any violation of the oath of secrecy is to be excommunication
latae sententiae

(the old text provided for “grave penalties according to the judgment of the future Pope”).

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Heartwarming papist photo of the day

The Keys of Saint Peter flying in full view of King Henry VIII's childhood home.

Oi Fatboy, we're still here!

Monday 18 February 2013

Bonfire of the vanities

This winter I will be warming my home using books that I wouldn't deign to send to a charity shop in case somebody else might read them. With former lives in academia and the media, my husband and I have an inordinately large collection of books, many of which were sent as freebees by publishers seeking reviews, and have never been read. Others were picked up at the wonderful but defunct Galloway and Porter in Cambridge which sold remaindered academic (and other) books for peanuts. Decades on these are cluttering up our bookshelves, loft and garage, many unread. Whilst I've sent lots to the charity shops, and put some up for sale on Amazon, I was perplexed about what to do with a small number which I felt wrong about putting out into the world again because of their subject matter, or bias. Some are books that I'd bought in my teens and twenties: feminist revisionist history books that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. I happened to have a pile of these next to me as I was filling the woodstove this afternoon, and discovered the joy of freeing myself of troublesome material while heating my home in the most ecologically way.

Bad books: just burn 'em and make space on your shelves for more of the good stuff.

Sunday 17 February 2013

The BBC and the Gates of Hell

Listening to Edward Stourton's hatchet job Radio 4 programme "In search of the real Pope Benedict" I wondered whether the BBC would afford similarly slipshod journalism to another subject. Imagine coverage of the next Conservative conference commented on by spokesmen from Militant Labour, the Socialist Worker, the Fabian Society and, to show real "balance and fairness", Alan Rusbridger. Remember this next time the debate about the Licence Fee rolls around.

Hearing Tina Beattie shrilling her way though the programme was more than I could bear. It was a roll-call of dissenters, and could have been written by dear saved brother Eccles as a parody of "wot sum unsaved and unedykated pussons mite fink". Hubby and I stood in the kitchen in slight shock listening to the broadcast, neither of us recognising the descriptions of our beloved Holy Father, nor of the slant on the last eight years, which, if one we to believe the programme, had been one of utter devastation for the Church. "Why" my husband wondered "do all these people seem to think that the Church should be moving forwards? What makes them think that the Church should be 'moving' at all?" There's an odd modern orthodoxy that movement - or change - or progress - is by definition a good thing. It's an argument that has been used frequently in the debate about changing the definition of marriage, and is one that I suspect we will be hearing frequently from now on. It is used to build sophistic arguments that suggest that if one does not agree with a particular point of view, it is simply because one has not caught up yet with the inexorable tide of change. Thus Holy Mother Church is simply behind the curve when it comes to fashionable sexual and moral views, and will eventually "get with the times". There is no understanding that Truth is eternal and unchanging: this is utterly inconceivable to the modern thinker.

There is no doubt that political liberals who self-identify as Catholic (whilst rejecting all that the Church teaches) are running scared, and that is at the root of the current mania of Pope Benedict bashing. There is also no doubt that the father of all lies is gleefully doing all in his power to seed chaos and confusion: whilst we need to trust the Holy Spirit, we also need to storm Heaven with our prayers for not only a good Pope, but a good and holy Pope, and a good and holy Pope who will lead Christ's Church on earth with the same courage and determination shown by Pope Benedict XVI.

This Lent we have been given the gift of an immediately tangible and intelligible intention towards which our prayer and privations can be directed. Pray and fast, pray and fast.

The gates of Hell shall not prevail.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, we love you! And here's why...

Unusually, I have just spent a week away from connectivity - no Internet, mobile phone or other data connection: our family had travelled up to the Lancashire moors to celebrate my Grandfather-in-law's 100th birthday. We had a wonderful time, with family from all over the world coming to celebrate until...

...yesterday morning, For no discernible reason I felt an 'itch' to turn on the television. As we don't own a TV at home, this is quite unusual . We had been staying in rooms above a pub in the edge of the Lancashire moors, and my husband and children had gone off after breakfast to pick up my in-laws who were visiting from North America. I was tidying our room and suddenly decided on a whim to see whether or not the TV worked and just happened to switch on BBC News 24 to see images of our Holy Father broadcast live with the announcement that he had just made.

I'm not the first Catholic blogger to say that I was shocked. Shocked is probably the wrong word. Bereaved comes closer. While I understand on an intellectual level what Cardinal Arinze is getting at here

I think that everyone who heard the news has been affected in a profoundly personal way. I felt bereft. My first thought was "Holy Father, where should we go? What should we do?" I felt small and childlike and lost. Were is my father going? I dropped down to my knees and prayed a decade of the Rosary. I wondered: " Beloved Pope Benedict - our Holy Father - what will we do without you?"

I instantly remembered how I felt when I heard that Pope Benedict had been elected in 2005: ELATED. At the time I didn't know why, exactly, it was so important to me that he became Pope rather than any other - but I was already blundering towards traditionalism (blundering meaning that nothing else felt right, nothing else answered the questions that had been left unanswered by decades in the Novus Ordo) - and I had a deep sense that having the then Cardinal Joesph Ratzinger as Pope mattered. 

Years on, I can confirm that it was a defining moment in my reversion to Holy Mother Church. Yes, I was already a Catholic "revert" but Pope Benedict defined and refined my faith through his encyclicals and books. I devoured them. I professed - and continue to profess - gratitude for his clarification of the position of the Traditional Latin Mass. When the Moto Proprio came out in 2007 I was primed and receptive. Hungry for spiritual nourishment, I asked my (then) pp whether we might have a monthly Traditional Latin Mass as there were several families in the parish who were very keen to have one. I was told that I was getting all the Latin I could expect in our Novus Ordo use of the Gloria, Agnus Dei and Sanctus from Mass VIII throughout the year. We had "some" Latin - what more could I want?

Indeed: how much Latin could anybody want? "Feed my sheep" said our Lord, and indeed. as a family, we were hungry.Starving. Both my husband and myself had come from nominally Catholic families. "Culturally" Catholic families, one could say. We had reverted from an agnostic / atheistic / lackadaisically Catholic point of view, towards an orthodox, traditionalist point of view. Pope Benedict XIV provided spiritual food for the last stages of that journey, and for that we will be forever grateful. He provided the signposts that gave our journey direction.

I was born in 1969. I received my First Holy Communion in 1978 with little or no catechises. I was confirmed in 1983 with even less catechises: I didn't even manage to have a saint's name for my confirmation name! (Priestly readers: is there any remedy for this?)

I returned to the Church I believe in large part due to the workings of the Holy Spirit. My husband and I were married and had our children baptised. We went to church every Sunday and Holy day of Obligation, and I often took the children on weekdays. We felt as though we were hungry. We were looking for more, and as well-meaning as it was, our Novus Ordo parish wasn' t giving us the spiritual food that we craved.

I mention this all to explain why I consider myself to be of the "Benedict XVI" generation. Sure, I was 35 when Cardinal Ratzinger became our Holy Father, but for me (and for many of my age and generation) this was a defining moment. Pope Benedict XVI was unambiguous about Church teachings. He directed us towards timeless Tradition and Truth and in doing so filled the spiritual chasm that had been an irritant since adolescence. I cannot be the only person who has felt this.

In real terms this affected our family. Over time we gravitated towards traditional devotions, such as a nightly Rosary and saying the Angelus at noon, and later the traditional Latin Mass. We later moved house so that we could be attached to a parish with a priest who supported us in our decision to home educate our children and who offered our family a parish with a rich and nourishing spiritual life. As a family we became attached to traditional spiritual devotions, and became immersed in a broader and richer spiritual life than we had access to in the pre-moto-proprio days. Certainly these aspects of Catholicism existed before the pontificate of Benedict XVI, but his encouragement certainly served as a catalyst for our family.

I feel immensely grateful that our family has been privileged to pray with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, at the beatification Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman at the Mass in Birmingham as well as having prayed the Angelus with him when we went to Rome in November 2012 in thanksgiving for the 5th Anniversary of the Moto Proprio for the Una Cum Papa Nostro pilgrimage.

Do you remember where you were on 19th April 2005?  I do. I was in my dining room, close to the kitchen door, and I heard BBC Radio 4 announce the outcome of the conclave. I remember punching the air. It felt so very important at the time, and I don't think I realised how important it actually was until much much later on.

I will never forget where I was sometime after 10:30 am GMT on 11 February 2013: I was in a rented guest room above a pub on the moors in Lancashire. There was no mobile or internet reception. I had turned on the  TV news utterly randomly.

There has been much talk of the JPII generation. I consider myself to be of the BXVI generation: sure, I was born in the late'60s but I came "of age" spiritually under the guidance of our current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. And for this reason I will forever be in his debt.

Thank you Holy Father. Thank you. thank you, thank you. May Almighty God always bless and protect you.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Not such a surprise perhaps?

Most modern interest in Celestine V has focused on his resignation.[8] He was the first pope to formalize the resignation process and is often said to have been the first to resign. In fact several popes had previously resigned under pressure to do so, including Pontian (235) and Benedict IX (1045). As noted above, Celestine's own decision was brought about by mild pressure from the Church establishment. His reinstitution of Gregory X's conclave system has been respected ever since.
A 1966 visit by Pope Paul VI to Celestine's place of death in Ferentino along with his speech in homage of Celestine prompted speculation the pontiff was considering retirement.[9][10]
Celestine's remains survived the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake with one Italian spokesman saying it was "another great miracle by the pope".[11] They were then recovered from the basilica shortly after the earthquake.[12] While inspecting the earthquake damage during a 28 April 2009 visit to the Aquila,Pope Benedict XVI visited Celestine's remains in the badly damaged Santa Maria di Collemaggio and left the woolen pallium he wore during his papal inauguration in April 2005 on his glass casket as a gift.