Saturday, 29 December 2012

To Arms

St Thomas Becket is kept today as a first class feast. And very good it is to have a wonderful English saint kept so close to Christmas.

St Thomas reminds us of the relationship between the church and the state and the parlous results that can happen then the state decides that it does not have to honour the rights and obligations of our Holy Mother.

Hmmm. Sound familiar? It must have been something playing in my subconscious because it fed my dreams last night. I tell you I'm almost Old Testament like in my interpretation of dreams at the moment.

Well I was quite pleased that it was not being tortured and killed by a cubic equation.

It went something like this. The Archbishop of Westminster (such a pity that nice man is not a cardinal - ahem) called on the congregation to march on 10 Downing Street after Mass about this gay 'marriage' nonsense.

Old ladies charged police men and beat on the door with umbrellas and got in and sat the Prime Minister down and had a good talk to him. It was immediately posted on YouTube.

It then cut to Catholics driving at 30 miles an hour on motorways and little old ladies (there were a lot of them in my dream) storming Parliament. Again with umbrellas and the police unable to do anything.

Catholic social action.

I know I'm an armchair general. Especially living in France and all. But really... is the best we can do a Christmas address by Vincenzo the Magnificent?

Would the state even know where to find a 'troublesome priest' nowadays? Am I one? I hope so.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Hail, O Martyrs

The slaughter of the Holy Innocents is a feast of our time. It is strange to think why it happened at the time of Christ. Of course there was the prophecy that out of Egypt I would call my son... but there are lots of prophecies in the Old Testament which were not fulfilled to the letter - and nor should they have been. It is  a false biblicism that say that just because our interpretation of a Biblical text is not fulfilled that in some way the prophecy is invalid.

No, this terrible slaughter of the Holy Innocents in fulfilled in our time. And it is the slaughter of the unborn.

There can be no others who are more innocent, more weak, more 'poor in spirit', undefended, with no rights that the child in the womb.

The Holy Innocents tells us that these children are not 'groups of cells' or even potential human beings - they are souls crying out to Almighty God from the throne of the Lamb for their crime to be vindicated.

My God, if the souls of the millions killed through abortion were to shout with the piercing cry of the hurt child, then our world would quake at the sound. But, like their God, they suffer and are torturted and killed in silence... the silence of the womb.

Remember we Christians have to defent the poor, the weak, the defenseless...

We will be judged because of it.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Going to the Sales

Today is St John's day and as John  Lewis and Marks and Spencers are not open on Boxing day, today is the first day of the sales for me.

I suppose that it is one of the modern day traditions which are so important. Traditions like eating turkey (I think it was all a plot by the geese to stop their friends and families being comsumed for Christmas fare) and wearing paper hats. Nothing wrong with paper hats of course, except when they get wet and you head turns to red pulp.

But the sales are wonderful... bargains and shopping and all in the greater good of getting the economy moving. I like to think that I am doing my bit to help global warming (sorry, I meant "economic recovery").

So off we trot and participate in the great British institution of buying things that we don't really need but which just seem too much of a snip to leave behind.

I'm hoping for a Dr Who Box set and world peace.

Monday, 24 December 2012

O Holy Night

O holy night on which the Saviour of the world was born. On this most holy night God became man for our salvation.

We come to this holy time to the author of life itself. May He being us true joy and peace.

Merry Christmas

We Knit at Christmas

People have asked so kindly about the Nativity Scene, that I have taken some more pictures of it. The elephant was not knit by my mother, but was the kind gift of a parishioner, who asked me the significance of elephants. (Explanation here).

I think that the face of Our Lady is just lovely.

Of course it is completely the wrong time, but in the distance you can see the Kings on their way...

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Rowe Nativity Scene

In 1223 St Francis of Assisi started the great tradition of Nativity Scenes - depictions of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They were so popular that their use and the devotion has spread throughout the whole world. They come, of course, in all shapes and sizes and my own is very particular, because my mum knit it.

As you can see, she seems to have had a bit of an explosion on the old sheep front, but never mind that. And there is also the old tradition of having an elephant somewhere in the scene. As with all of these things, people are divided as to how and why this may have started. I prefer the story that goes like this...

During the heights of the Empire a little Indian boy found himself in school in England for the first time at Christmas. He had been taken under the wing of a Colonian Official and his wife when the boys own parents had died. In one of those extraordinary Victorian charitable acts they had begun to care for him and wanted only what they thought was best.

And so he found himself in a draughty dormitory far from home as strange traditions were enacted about him... the carols, a tree, snow, brightly coloured gifts in the depths of a dark English winter. The Official's wife had sent him a parcel with gifts for the season... a new book, some mittens, brightly coloured cloth infused with the sents and spices of home, and a little carved, highly jewelled elephant. This he prized more highly than anything else. This was his home, with vibrant colours and honoured beasts bedecked with light and vivid power.

The night before Christmas, when only he and one other boy remained with the headmaster (India was too far to go for the Christmas holiday) the little boy was on his way to bed. The headmaster gathered the two of them around the crib and explained that when they arose the next morning the Christ Child would be there, having been born in the night, in the gloom of Bethlehem, seen only by His mother, St Joseph and the rude beasts.

The little boy could not sleep that night. Not because of selfish thoughts and wishes for presents, nor because of the excitment of the day to come, but out of a simple and profound connection with the loneliness of the family in the nativity lying in the room below. He knew what it was to be abroad and alone, to be afraid and not knowing what the future would bring. And he could not bear it that it would happen all over again, for someone else, even thousands of years ago.

And so he took his joyous elephant, full of the colours and excitement of the East and wearily trod the steps to the crib.

Jesus was there (the schoolmaster had done his job) and with such sweetness the little Indian boy placed his sparkling elephant in the darkness of that Bethlehem night - a stange guest indeed for such a strange time. The boy gently kissed his elephant and bid him goodnight and told him to watch over the scene.

An elephant had arrived in the cattle shed in Bethlehem... as the Indian boy said the next day, "not as a gift, but he can borrow him. Jesus can have him for a while, until he is not lonely anymore."

This is the gift of Christmas. One little boy reaching out in the darkness to bring hope and comfort to all those in need.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Venerable Louis-Marie Baudouin

Our local candidate for the altars, Louis-Marie Baudouin has been declared Venerable by His Holiness Benedict XVI.

Ven Louis Marie was the co-founder of the Ursulines of Jesus and Mary, the Fathers of Chavagnes and the man who built our petit seminaire, now the International College of Chavagnes.

Exposition in the Saint Joseph's Chapel
The people of the village built the St Joseph Chapel in His honour and he is very much a strong and powerful patron of the College.

What a wonderful Christmas gift to everyone in Chavagnes, and especially to us.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Missa Aurea

This is an Ember day. See here. It is known as the Golden Mass, so called because the first words of the Gospel, which is the Annunciation, were overlaid in Gold.

The Annunciation is of course intimately bound up with the Incarnation and the Feast of Christmas. Well, everything about our salvation is bound up. And as we have contemplated the coming of the last of the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist, and now see that the fullness of time has come, and all things are ready, so it is fitting that we contemplate the message of the Incarnation.

When I explain the Immaculate Conception to the boys at school I do so through the moment of the Annunciation. So that she could make a valid choice, not taintend by self-honour or worth, the Blessed Virgin had been preserved from all sin.

So the Gold we celebrate today is the preparation of the world, the preservation of the Virgin and the foreshadowing of the Epiphany.

On a lighter note, I did not dream of mathematics last night... though lots of people did die.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I dream of numbers

Well, I'm back in England now. The priest flu turned into Bishop flu and I became incapable of making any decisions or being practically useful to anyone.

But I struggled through. The end of term carol service was truly beautiful. A schola of the boys and men sang  O Magnum Mysterium and the whole thing was just smashing.

One odd thing, though, I have started to dream about mathematics. This can cover a lot of sins, but these dreams have been really quite odd. It has happened every night for the last eight days.

I thought that it was strange to have a dream which seemed to involve only a set square, but this was followed by one of two which revolved around Pythagoras' Theorem. Of these one was much gentler than the other but in both the Theorem was used as a weapon.

Ratio involved the loss of such a quantity of blood that I was afright when I woke up, and last night I had a strange, highly detailed dream about the number thirty.

I know this makes me sound like a nutter, but there you go. If you said or thought the number 30 then you disappeared. Not hidden but properly disappeared, so that people thought you were dead. Quite a bit of the dream was ways of being able to think of the number 30 without being killed. But it then turned out that they were not really dead after all, just folded up in space. The rest of the dream was ways of rescuing the quasi-dead from the clutches of the number 30.

OK... in the cool light of day it all seems to be a bit nutty. But when will these mathematical based dreams stop! Am I consigned to a night of the "Revenge of the Cosine Rule"; "The Quadratic Formula Bood Bath"; "Planes in a 3D Solid Massacre"???!!!

Beginning to scare myself now, so I'll stop.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

To Trinate?

Fr Rowe crushing someone's head
There is lot's of talk about the number of Masses that a Priest can or should say. Usually by armchair theologians (in which I include Priests and Bishops!)

I remember when I was a parish Priest being quite bullish about this. I had a vigil, eight, ten, eleven thirty, six in the evening and once a month a signed Mass for the deaf. I have to say that they were all needed more or less. I could have crammed them into a fewer number, but I could never really get out of mind the thought that if one of my parishioners had managed to get to Mass, having perhaps just finished a shift at the fish packing factory, then it was a pretty rum deal if I said that I was too tired to 'do' another Mass. Even less with the bizarre pseudo-theological 'fracturing the community' nonsense.

So, being a little run down, with the beginnings of "Priest Flu" (much, much more dangerous and worrying than simple "man flu") and waiting for my bed - last evening I was presented ofter supper with one of my newly returned charges coming to me and saying "Father I have not been to Mass today - can you say one for me?"

Well, I'd already said two, so I could have said "it's not really right for a Priest to say more than two Masses on a day". Or I could have said "well, I could not really just say Mass for you now could I?"

But if I have a 13 year old boy who comes to me because he has not been able to go to Mass on a Sunday with a request that I say Mass and he can attend it, then surely the question answers itself.

Of course I trinated.
Or course I said Mass for one boy.
Of course I waited the hour until the fast was over.

And of course it was the right thing to do. Sometimes these armchair theologians should try being a chaplain abroad.

Monday, 10 December 2012

And his Blessing

Finally on this year's Boy Bishop we see him giving his benediction (and a few other pictures as well).

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Vimps and Bugia

Seldom do you now come across vimps. I think we must have a preservation society for them. Sometimes they really are wild animals!

And the Bugia (other links here) of course should not be forgotten.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Censing the Altar

You always get wonderful pictures on the feast of the Boy Bishop when he incenses the Altar.

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