Monday, 11 December 2017

The Nativity Scene


The Nativity Scene

Part of our Christmas celebrations (and preparation for them) can come from having Nativity Scenes in our homes. Indeed, we will have one in Church. They are depictions of the moment of Our Lord’s birth in a way that we can see and touch. They come in many shapes and sizes. I have a few of them, but I think my favourite is one that my mother knitted. Don’t ask her to make you one, she has sworn that it is the only one that will ever come off her knitting needles!


St Francis of Assisi invented the crib scene in 1223 to help people to experience the birth of Christ in a more tangible way. He had been to the Holy Land and had seen the place of Our Saviour’s birth, and was so moved that he wanted the people back at home in Italy to experience something that had touched him so deeply. So in a cave near Greccio, St Francis staged the first nativity scene. This first one involved human beings and live animals (so the did the original one as well!), but soon the people and animal were replaced by statues and pictures. The point of it, however, was always the same - to help devotion to the Christ-child, and to focus our minds at Christmas. This is needed in every age, as we can always get caught up in the material celebration of the season and forget the heart of it.


I hope you have a nativity scene in your homes. If not then you might think about getting one this year. You can hunt one down for just a few pounds. The point is not that they are expensive extravaganzas, but that they help your spiritual life. And try to make sure that the baby Jesus is not there until Christmas day (or if He is, then cover Him up - He won’t mind, I promise). And your cribs can be wonderfully personal. Mine includes an elephant (long, long story) and a robin. If you have family around you (especially little ones) then make the crib something special that they are involved in, perhaps with short prayers, or they could add their own animals. And if you are alone, then remember that you are not really. Because there in your hearth or on your sideboard, you have angels poised to sing the glory of God, and Shepherds, and St Joseph, and Our Lady. You have animals, and the whole world of God’s love for you. Because this is the true message of Christmas. God became man that we might know His unending love.


_____________________________________________

This first appeared on the back of the bulletin of St Mary of Glastonbury and St Michael Shepton Mallet

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Mass Times


Why the UK Parliament is simply wonderful


Browsing Youtube last night, looking for kittens playing the piano, or the like, I came across the clip above. Actually it is not really a clip, it is one and a half hours long.

I began by thinking "I'll watch a bit of that" and ended up watching it all. It is a fascinating dissection of the issues surrounding human rights, and although I have not followed the argument which they are talking about to any great extent, this debate is simply one of the best things I have seen in a long time.

Why? Well I think any undergraduate studying philosophy, or theology or politics should be forced to watch it and take notes. Rory Stewart's explanation of the discussion is masterly, and although I may not accept all of this conclusions, nevertheless you cannot fault his skill.


Also, they are not speaking with notes. They know this stuff, they are intelligent men who have this information at their finger tips. Love them or loath them, they are not playing to the crowd. They are able to put forward detailed arguments in a clear way, not reading someone else's hand out.

And they are doing it for the simple reason that it has to be said. This is not the cut and thrust of Prime Minister's Questions, the point of which seems to be to get a headline for that day... it doesn't really matter if is it right or not, just that it is snappy. The debate between Jacob Rees-Mogg and Rory Stewart may be many things, but it is not snappy. They are not doing it for the cameras (Jacob Rees-Mogg is almost horizontal!) and not for the crowds (Youtube has 35000 views, and, let's face it, the chamber is not exactly bulging), but because the issues deserve an in depth discussion.


So, I would prefer to trust these men rather than the men and women who will say just anything (especially when they know nothing) just for a cheap vote.

And this is why the UK Parliament is simply wonderful. Because this debate between Jacob Rees-Mogg and Rory Stewart took place in the House of Commons. This debate, at an hour and a half, and watched by few, is part of our governmental system.

Would that there were more of it.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Off to Medjugorje!


We can all go now. Link to the Catholic Herald here. We'll have to see exactly what that means about the messages, but that's for another day. I suspect that Mrs May sorted it all out, when she was on a roll with Brexit negotiations etc.

Mir, Mir, Mir!

A wonderful thing



It's been around for ages, but it is excellent. It might be a secular tune, but it is all done very respectfully.

Enjoy (as Americans say).

Thursday, 7 December 2017

It's all about the bees


I guess that it all must have begun when I was a school boy. Others went off on rugby club, I did orienteering. Others joined the CCF, I joined bridge club. I preferred fencing to basketball, and long distance running to the 100 yards.

All of this is of no consequence.

The importance of today is the connection with bees. You see, I was part of bee-keeping club at school. Now, don't judge me. Yes, my school had a bee keeping club. The link to my school is here. I do not know if they still have a bee-keeping club. I suspect not, not now that they have ditched the school song.


From this I have always had a great affection for bees. And one  of my ambitions in life is to have some bee-hives. I don't like honey, but I think you can give that away and everyone will be happy.

When I went to Chavagnes, I found it difficult to remember boys names, and there was this boy called Amboise. In French, as you know, Amboise is Ambrose, whose feast day it is today.

But how was I to remember his name??!


Well the key was that he had (and still has) a profusion of muddy blond hair atop his head. And, being a school boy, was seemingly allergic to the use of a comb. (Ah how I remember the days when I myself had to use a comb!).

So this mop of locks atop a chap called Amboise fixed in my mind, and all at once I could see bees coming from it, as if his hair were a bee hive!

Bee hive, extraordinary hair hive, St Ambrose... YES his name is Amboise!


So every year, on this day, St Ambrose's, I remember bees, and Amboise.

Happy bee-hair day.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Hap- hap- happy


St Nicholas day. This St Nicholas above is making sure that he has enough bags of gold to save those poor unfortunate girls. He is keeping then safe by wrapping them in special paper, and has a reindeer to protect them from nefarious types.

It is strange to think how St Nicholas became a fat man on the roof. I suspect Coca-cola and Henry VIII. The first because of the colours, and the latter because Henry was a fat man who stole the roofs of monasteries and convents and the like.

St Nicholas, of course, just wanted to help those in need - not push carbonated drinks or the destruction of Christianity (well, the type founded by Christ anyway).

So merry St Nicholas day.

May your drinks be sticky, and you kings fat.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Can I trust you? Can you trust me?

"One day all this will be mine. Trust me, I'm a weather forecaster."
"Britons ‘more likely to trust weather forecasters than priests’" 

Now there's an interesting thing. You can see the article here at the Catholic Herald.

My first thoughts were that this must be a result of the scandals which have beset the Church by Priests. And then I thought that it might be the result of people who no longer believe in God and so would not naturally think that a priest would be more likely to tell the truth than anyone else.

And then I though, "Would I trust what a Priest tells me?"

I've made the whole of America a rainbow flag
An odd thing for me to say, you might think, me being a Priest and all. But let me just run through a few things I've had to face since being a Priest. I hasten to add that these are not directed at my predecessor here in Glastonbury and Shepton, but are gathered from my experience of many people who have approached me.

Priests who have told people in irregular unions that they can receive Holy Communion. This is before Pope Francis I has done whatever it is that he has done (frankly I have no clear idea what he has done, all I know is that it is Parish Priests who will have to deal with the fall out - not Bishops, not Cardinals, not Popes). So those Priests have not told the people the truth.

Priests who have told people that their marriages are valid, even though they are not.

Priests who have 'married' couples in Church, again when it was impossible because they still had a spouse living (its called simulating a sacrament, Father, and you are excommunicated for it).

Priests who have told people that they do not need to become Catholics, and that its even better if they don't.

Priests who have said deliberately missing Mass in not a sin, or using contraception is not a sin, or that you don't have to believe in transubstantiation/hell/angels/judgement etc. etc.

Priests who have said that clerical celibacy is just a man made thing and that anyway the Church just imposed it in the eleventh century (a lie).

Priests who say that Jesus did not know what He was doing when He just chose men to be His disciples, and that we can ignore Him because He was just a first century Jew who didn't know better.

Priests who joyfully eat meat on Fridays and tell their people that the Friday rules of abstinence are not binding.

...oh believe me, I could go on and on and on.

Trust me, I'm a Priest
So, would I believe what a Priest says?

Hmmmm, I think I'll ask a weather forecaster what they think about it all.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Frontals

The Altar of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury without a Frontal
I'm fond of a frontal, especially when they can express the change of the Church's seasons. So after a trip to an ecclesiastical emporium, and a few days with my trusty sewing machine (what Priest can be without one?) we have new frontals.




Sunday, 3 December 2017

Advent


Advent

Advent brings with it a new Marian Anthem, the Alma. Please read the translation below the chant. It is simply beautiful. I know that they take a bit of getting used to, and many of you may never have sung the Alma before, but it is worth it… believe me!


On 18th February 1013, a little boy was born in Altshausen in Swabia. His name was Hermann and, crippled from birth (we think now that it was probably a form of motor neuron disease), he could not walk or get about; even his speech was limited. He would be known as Hermannus Contractus, or Hermann the Lame. When he was seven, his parents (Count Wolverad II and Hiltrud) could no longer care for him, and so gave him into the care of the school at a Benedictine monastery on the island of Reichenau. In 1043 Hermann took his monastic vows at the Abbey and his intellect flourished. He was renowned in theology, astronomy, mathematic, Latin, Greek, Arabic, music, etc. He introduced the astrolabe (a kind of portable sundial) from Arabic Spain into Europe. He calculated the diameter of the earth, and the correct latitude of his monastery at Reichenau. He wrote works on multiplication and division (Durham Cathedral Library has a copy dating from the twelfth century), and he calculated the average length of the lunar month. In all of this his calculations were correct. On 21st September 1054, God took him to Himself, and Hermann von Reichenau died.


I tell you all this, because it was Hermann who wrote the Alma Redemptoris Mater. It makes a difference when you know something of the background to the chant that we will sing until  February 2nd. So as we offer this most wonderful hymn to Our Lady, instead of thinking “Gosh I wish Fr Bede wouldn’t do all this new Latin stuff, just as we were getting used to the Salve Regina”, think of Blessed Hermann, and ask for his prayers: that your devotion to the Mother of God may increase, and that all those with physical limitations may overcome them and sing the praises of God, just as Blessed Hermann did.

And as if that were not enough, Blessed Hermann also wrote the Salve Regina!

Sheesh!

__________________________________

From the back of the bulletins of Our Lady St Mary of Glastonbury and St Michael Shepton Mallet


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Christmas Mass Times


Because Christmas is coming soon!

Alma Redemptoris Mater



Loving Mother of the Redeemer, door to heaven and star of the sea, come to the aid of thy people, fallen indeed, but striving to rise; while the whole of nature marvelled, thou didst give birth, to thy own holy Creator. Virgin from the beginning to the end, thou heardest from the mouth of Gabriel that greeting: ‘Hail’, Oh, take pity on us sinners!



Friday, 1 December 2017

The Annunciation


The Annunciation

The mysteries  of the Most Holy Rosary begin with the Annunciation. This is the moment when the Archangel Gabriel comes to Blessed Virgin Mary, proclaims her to be ‘Highly Favoured’, and invites her to bear a Son, and this will be the Son of God.

But I think that in some sense the Annunciation is the end point, not the beginning. We know that Mary was preserved from Original Sin at the moment of her conception in the womb of her holy mother, St Anne. This Immaculate Conception was important for many reasons, but one of them was so that at the Annunciation, Our Lady would listen to the words of the Angel with wonder and simplicity. And this ends with the Incarnation, with God becoming man.


Original Sin is that part of us which puts our own concerns and desires against the good of others, and the rights of God. It is the tendency to selfishness and pride which sits at the heart of all human beings. I think Our Lady was free from Original Sin, so that when the Angel appeared to her, she did not freak out in fear (yes that is a massive angel, and yes, he is speaking to you), nor did she react in a self-centred way (Son of God, you say, that’s going to make me pretty important!). Instead Mary responded with a simple, wide-eyed wonderment - “But how can this be, since I am a Virgin?” And when that little problem was smoothed out (by the action of the Holy Spirit), then Our Lady’s answer was “yes”.

Except that in a way it was more than that. Mary said “Let it be done unto me according to Your word.” What Our Lady is consenting to is the action of God in her life. He has asked, she has consented. This, perhaps, is the way that we can understand this mystery better. We are not conceived without Original Sin, and (generally) we do not have angels appearing to us, making God’s will manifest in our lives. But we can cultivate the same heart and Spirit of Our Lady. We can stand ready and waiting for the Lord, so that when we know what He wants, we can have the reply always on our lips - “Let it be done unto me according to Your word.”

This is an inner disposition of our soul. This means that we learn to be open to God, so that when He calls upon us, we will readily spring to His service. In this way, it will be our own annunciation too.


______________________

Originally from the Back of the Bulletins of St Mary of Glastonbury and St Michael Shepton Mallet

Monday, 27 November 2017

Am I missing something?


Cardinal Nichols has congratulated HRH Henry of Wales on his engagement to Meghan Markel. Catholic Herald here.

But I though she was already married?
Or Catholic?
Or divorced?

@CardinalNichols wrote...

I offer my congratulations to Harry and Meghan on the news of their engagement. We pray for their happiness as they prepare to make their life-long commitment to marriage.
email to the side, if anyone can help me out. For once I am genuinely confused...

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Overheard...


... at the Glastonbury Frost Fayre.

"Yeah, I really this like this fur wrap. What kind of fur did you say this was?"

"It's faux fur."

"Oh, what animal does that come from?"

Hmmmmmm!

The Lesser Spotted Faux Monster

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Most Holy Rosary


The Most Holy Rosary

I preached last weekend on the Holy Rosary, and I thought that it might be a nice thing to have the Rosary bubbling in the background of these bulletins. So week by week I will take the mysteries and write something about each of them. Of course other things will intervene, but that is alright. The Rosary follows a sequence of the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord, but we know it well enough to be able to dip in and out.

Some people know the Rosary inside out, but it is one of those things that seems to have fallen out of fashion recently, so I will try to make sure that there are leaflets on how to say the Rosary in St Michael’s and Our Lady’s. If you have forgotten, or want a refresher, just take one.


The Rosary was revealed to St Dominic in 1214 to fight against the Albigensian heresy. This was a complex series of beliefs, but at the core it rejected the sacramental life of the Church (including Holy Mass), and believed that once individuals had received a full remission of their sins, then they became perfect. They believed that the world was evil, so ate only the plainest of foods, and rejected marriage and all that went with it. It may seem strange to us that anyone was attracted to this kind of life, but in the Middle Ages it provided a way for someone to escape the harsh realities of life by being a member of something special and extraordinary, something perfect. If we are honest, there is always a temptation in Christianity to make it a holy huddle of the elect. But this is not Catholic. We, with our faults and failings are called to a life of perfection, yes; but with the sure knowledge that God will forgive our sins. Perhaps that was the worst part of the Albigensian heresy. Once your sins were forgiven (though really they were not),  then that was it. With then you only got one chance. But God’s love is infinite, and He waits for us to turn to Him again and again.

So how was the Rosary a weapon in the war against this corruption of the faith? Well, it made us meditate on the life of Christ and showed us that if God Himself took human flesh, then flesh could not be corrupt and wicked. And that if Our Lord loved His mother (the highest honour of our race) with a perfect love, then how could we spurn the delight of life? The Rosary reconnects the soul with the world, and with God. It shows His humanity and His abiding love for  us. It tells us that we are always part of His creation - to love, and to be loved.

__________________


From the back of the bulletin of Our Lady of Glastonbury, and St Michael.


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Do we still believe in the Devil


In the last issue, I asked ‘Do we still believe in angels’ and said that in this edition I would ask the same question about the Devil. It is always with some trepidation that the subject of the Devil is raised, and rightly so. If what we believe about the Devil is true, then not only should be use a long spoon when supping with him, but we should tread carefully even when discussing him.

The first and most important thing to say about the Devil is that he exists. This is not a philosophical statement, or one that comes from clever arguments: no, it comes from the Sacred Scriptures themselves, and more importantly, the reality of his existence must have come from Christ Himself. In the Gospel of St Matthew we hear of the temptation in the wilderness – “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” (Matthew 4.1) By the very nature of the account, Jesus was alone in the wilderness. So, if anyone else knows about what happened, Our Lord must have told them. If Christ was tempted by Satan (the Adversary), then the Devil must exist.


By sacred tradition, Satan is the brightest of angels, who because of pride and jealousy of human beings, rebelled against God and fled from God’s sight, bringing with him a third of all the angelic beings. It is they who will fight until the end of time in rebellion against God. And the object of their fight, the goal of the battle, is the human soul. It was because we were created, and the Incarnation would take place, that Satan fought against God. The way the Devil thinks he can hurt God is to drag us from going to Heaven, so that we can abide with him forever in perdition, in Hell.

Of course, if it were a fair and a clear fight, then we would be on our guard. When there is something important that we must face, we can recognise it, and we will do our best to overcome it (and remember that God wants us to do our best – it is He who has already won the fight), but the Devil does not use such obvious tactics. Why would he? Rather, the temptations come in small ways, little offences against God, little moments of pride and selfishness. We give in to them day after day, and then, suddenly, one day we wake up and realise that we are far from God and are no longer the people we know we should be, the people that God wants us to be. We decide what is ‘our best’, and we decide it on our own terms, and then suddenly we have become the arbiters of what is right and wrong. We decide what we should do in this or that situation. In fact, all the Devil is doing is playing to our weaknesses (and for each of us those weaknesses are different). He has no need for a big pitches battle when he can achieve the same result through our laziness and inattention.


But, of course, it does not need to be like this, for the Devil has been defeated, and the battle has been won by Christ. If you like, this is the time of the last skirmishes, with the Devil fighting to the last angel. But that is the danger time, for these skirmishes are where we can be lost. Although Christ has won, this does not mean that we automatically share in His victory; heaven and hell are both real possibilities for us. Just read the Gospels!

For the Devil and his angels, their fate is fixed. They made their choice once and for all. We have the extraordinary ability to turn to God throughout our lives, returning to Him again and again. If we do so, then the Devil will not triumph over us. But he is real, and his intentions are clear.

So, do we still believe in the Devil? Yes, we do. And if ever we doubt his existence, then the Devil’s work to capture our souls is well on its way.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Backs of Bulletins


Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I started writing bits and bobs on the backs of bulletins. They were my own bulletins, I hasten to add. I did not go round to other parishes and write subversive messages on Fr McWhatsit's bulletins, like "Up the revolution", "More cake for Priests", "Say it in Latin, you know it makes sense!". That would be a terrible thing to do... Hmmm...


No, I decided that this was one way in which I could try to catechise my good people with a spot of light 'This is the latest thing that has come into Father's head'. Of course, I am being too modest, they were actually beautifully crafted moments of wonderfulness. And eventually they became "A Walk Through Mass", and "A Guide to Confession" - Not got one yet? SHAME on you, they are available here and here.



So cometh the new parishes, cometh the new backs of bulletins. I'm going through the mysteries of the Rosary bit by bit, and I've decided to put them up on here, on this blog. So you too can be edified (and nick them for the backs of your bulletins). But if you do (nick them I mean, and publish them in books), then know that I will hunt you down like the dogs you are.

Yea my vengeance shall come like a lightning storm, 
destroying all before it, 
with whirlwind and fire, 
a howling gale and a rending of the earth. 

For my fury shall be a righteous fury, 
and my retribution like unto the retribution of God.

So enjoy the backs of my bulletins!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Vendean TV


The local channel in the Vendee has a wonderful interview with Mr McDermott, headmaster of Chavagnes. The link is here, but you need French, I'm afraid!

http://tvvendee.com/sans-detour/ferdi-mac-dermott_05102017


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Thesis


As a post two down mentioned, just slipping it in there without so much as a by your leave, I submitted my thesis. What this means is that it is now in the hands of an external examiner and an internal examiner. Internal and external to the university, you understand, not internally and externally examining the thesis (my what a fine binding!) or even me (my what a fine binding!).


The title is:

Nostra Aetate and the Covenant: an ill-conceived concept stretched beyond its limits

with, let me tell you, some quite hilarious consequences! I always go for titles. My MPhil was 'De Arca Foederis: concerning the mysterious appearance and disappearance of the Ark of God'. Don't you just want to go and pick that up now...

And my STB was 'The Concept of Synodality in the Ecclesiology of John Zizioulas and Jean-Marie Tillard, and its consequences for Catholic/Orthodox Oecumenical Relations'. For that one I went for the longest and most boring title award, and I think you'll find I won it. Well, in seminary anyway.

So I now await my viva, my oral grilling (yikes, what a thought) sometime after Christmas I guess. Then, pray God, if I pass, a graduation! And then I shall be:

Rev Dr Bede Rowe (available for the cure of the King's evil, rickets and divers nastiness)

Sunday, 12 November 2017

We will remember them



In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
             
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae    
1915    


Monday, 6 November 2017

Bit of a catch up


So, many things have happened in the last few months.


I have moved down south.


Been inducted as PP of Glastonbury and Shepton Mallet.


Submitted my thesis.


Painted a room bright yellow.


Discovered the parish mortuary candles.


Started a Latin Mass every Sunday at 6pm...

...oh the list can go on and on (and on and on), but I still have not changed the banner at the top of the blog yet. Still, something like normal service is being resumed!

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Primacy of the Parish of Glastonbury


None other than Her Brittanic Majesty, our Sovereign Queen, Elizabeth II, acknowledges the primacy of the Parish of Our Lady, St Mary of Glastonbury.


By the Holy and Sacred tradition recorded by William of Malmesbury (there will be a lot more from him, believe me!) Glastonbury was founded 15 years after the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into Heaven. The Queen does not follow William's exact dating, but she does mirror his sentiment. She gave this cross in 1965 to the monastery (which her predecessor of dubious memory destroyed). The plaque on it reads:


I wonder if I should invite her to my induction?

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