Tuesday, 19 November 2013

...charcoal is a problem

So after all the palarva with the charcoal and the parish church, I knew that I had to go and buy some for the charcoal shop. This is commonly called the diocesan shop, and it is, as far as I know, the only diocesan shop in the district.

So I went in to the nice shop lady and asked for "quatre charbons". she started to take out four tubes each containing 10 charcoals. Now this woud not last us a week here in Chavagnes, so immediately seeing my mistake said "non, je suis désolé, je voudrais quatre charbons complets".

We both apologised profusely and thew she started to open the thing to give me just four individual charcoals. No four boxes (400 of the things)!

I bought her entire stock.

I assume that they do not use incense much heru in France!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

You know you're in france when...

...you cause havoc because of charcoal. Let me explain.

Boys have a wonderful ability to telling you things after the fact. So I should not have been suprised to be told on Saturday that we had run out of charcoal for the thurible.

Hmmm, not too useful when the one Diocesan shop is closed on a Saturday and I would need some for Sunday. So what to do? I decided to go to the parish Church and beg some.

I approached the nice lady sacristan and explained in my most grovelling voice that I (being a stupid Englishman) had run out of charcoal and what with Sunday coming up and all...

She looked at me quizzically and asked "My goodness, you have a funeral on a Sunday?" Because, of course, what other purpose would you use charcoal and thus incense, for on a Sunday but for a funeral! I explained that we used incense every Sunday (adding "at Mass" just in case she thought I was constantly burying people on the Lord's Day).

She looked at me disapprovingly.

So that was when I realised that I was in France, when the only possible reason I could possibly have for burning incense on a Sunday was to bury someone!

But it became even more and more bizarre...

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Feeling Generous?

From the Chavagnes Facebook page (you do not have to be a member to view the page) link HERE

The worship of God at the heart of a Catholic school

Chavagnes International College, founded in 2002, in the heart of the Vendée, France, is an English-speaking Catholic boarding school for boys, loyal to the magisterium of the Catholic Church, with the liturgy at his heart.
  • Daily Mass for the whole school community
  • Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction, Rosary ...
  • Training in Latin, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony
  • A solid, all-round academic formation
  • Daily sport, regular cultural events (debates, plays, concerts)
But Chavagnes is first and foremost a Catholic community, with the worship of God at its heart. Its choir helps to make our liturgical worship a beautiful and uplifting experience, for the greater glory of God, and for the salvation of souls.
Click on the GALLERY tab above and you can hear some of our singing. We hope you like it.

Cassocks, Keyboards and Carols!

Help us equip our Choir with what they need ...

To help our choirboys in their liturgical apostolate, we need your help to buy them what they need to do their job well. It will be a great Christmas gift:
  • 20 new cassocks and surplices (up til now we have been relying on hand-me-downs, and we don't have enough of them for our new members.
  • 10 electronic keyboard for music theory classes
  • New musical scores
  • A sound system for our specialised choir classroom

Give an artist the right tools and he will do great things

We want to say "thank-you" to our choristers, to their Choirmaster and to our organist  for their devotion and hard work and make sure that singing God's praises continues to be a pleasure for them. With your help you will be participating in their apostolate. This is what they do:
  • Singing Gregorian chant and hymnody daily at Mass.
  • Solemn Sung Mass on Saturdays, Sundays and Feasts.
  • Bearing witness to our faith by giving concerts in France, the UK and around the world (so far our choir has visited parishes in France, the UK, Sweden and Italy, including a trip to Rome last year.)
  • Giving the young an experience of the best of our Christian culture in Sacred Music.

Partnership of Prayer

You can help us by donating to our campaign, by spreading the word to your friends and by supporting us with your fervent prayers. Let's be partners in prayer!  Our chaplain, Masters and boys, pray regularly for all our benefactors.
Why not get in touch with us and come and join us at Holy Mass? You are welcome.

Friday, 1 November 2013

St Bede

One of the joys of this Feast of All Saints is the reading in the second nocturn because it is by St Bede. 

It is of course wonderful but more than that, it is a nice reminder to the world of who St Bede is. Indeed that he exists. I'm often called 'Pete' by people on the telephone trying to sell me new central heating, or gravy or something. If only they read the 1962 office, then I could say "No! Bede... Like on the feast of All Saints" and that would clear up the problem pretty smartish. 

Happy feast from me and St Bede. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Scouting Round Up

No, not rounding up scouts and making sure that they are doing their good deeds (our good deeds I should say, as I am a scout), but rather during this half term time, taking a moment to do the stuff that I should have done ages ago but just not got round to.

One such thing is the account of the commisioning of an assistant scout master. See it here on the headmaster's blog.

Scouting here in France is wonderful. It gives a sense of service and identity to boys of all ages. It is not a kids thing, but continues as a boy becomes a young man.

Our scouts are at the service of God and their country. They are committed to a life striving for perfection, a life of chivalry and honour, where nobility and deprecation are mocked. A life of purity in a world of filth.

A scout is at one with his world, and his place in it. He is at one with his Father in heaven and his mother, the Church.

Scouts are a force for good.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Early Christmas

Yet another avid reader pointed me in the direction of Le petit Placide where he has a picture of our Christmas celebrations in College last year. This is the proclamation of the begining of the Gospel of St John.

All I remember is that I had picked up some ghastly bug and that I could only croak "In the Beginning..."

Hopefully this year I will make it hale and hearty to the end!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Walsingham Video

There is an excellent video on Vimeo about the Walsingham pilgrimage. I think that you have to click on it... but click away, its very good.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

More Fame!

At LMS Clifton, you can see an account of the Mass at Sables d'Olonne, here. The Mass goes from strength to strength, it is a good thing and a great pleasure.

Thursday, 3 October 2013


The Bible speaks often of the disease of leprosy, whether is be that of Miriam being struck with the disease in Numbers 12 or Our Saviour curing those with leprosy in Matthew 8 (and parallels).

The Old Testament was rightly concerned with the disease as it could bring a whole tribe to nothing. The only way of dealing with it, as there was no cure, was isolation. The individual had to be excluded from the community. This community had given them protection and identity. So having leprosy really was being cast out: cast out from your family and friends, your people and nation. And no one would welcome you.

And what is more, your loved ones did not do it because of any fault of yours. It was simply the result of a disease... no one's fault.

When Our Lord cured the lepers, He was not simply performing a healing miracle, like curing the paralytic. Of course there was physical healing but it was so much more than that. It was restoration, a bringing back to life again. It was a minor resurrection.

We have saints, such as St Damien de Veuster of Molokei (here), who ministered among them and eventually caught the disease, or Bp Fulton Sheen who speaks of his encounter with lepers here.

We understand the disease diferently now (called Hansen's disease) and it is largely curable.

With this history I do not know who should be more offended by the Pope's remarks ("the Court is the Leprosy of the Papacy"), court officials who have served successive Popes for generations, or lepers.

Either way...

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

San Giuseppe pray for us

Giuseppe Moscati lived from 1880 to 1927. (Text lifted from here)

The life of St. Giuseppe Moscati illustrates how the Catholic faith and practical charity united a layman with God to such an extent that the power of God ultimately worked in and through him.

Giuseppe Moscati was the seventh of nine children born to aristocratic Italian parents. His father's career as a magistrate (judge) led the family to settle in Naples. Every year they vacationed in the province of Avellino, his father's native region, and while there they attended Mass at the chapel of the Poor Clare nuns, with the renowned jurist serving at the altar.

The future saint inherited his father's piety and intellectual gifts. Giuseppe's unexpected decision to study medicine rather than law can be traced to an incident during his adolescence. In 1893 his older brother Alberto, a lieutenant in the artillery, fell from a horse and sustained incurable head trauma. For years Giuseppe helped care for his injured brother at home, and as he matured he reflected on the limited effectiveness of human remedies and the consoling power of religion.

Dr. Moscati then practiced medicine at the Hospital for Incurables in Naples and taught courses in general medicine at the university. "Remember," he once wrote to a young doctor, one of his former students, "that you must treat not only bodies, but also souls, with counsel that appeals to their minds and hearts rather than with cold prescriptions to be sent in to the pharmacist."

Giuseppe Moscati encouraged his patients, especially those who were about to undergo surgery, to receive the sacraments.Dr. Moscati also attended to temporal needs. He treated poor patients free of charge, and would often send someone home with an envelope containing a prescription and a 50-lire note.

On occasion he practiced heroic charity. When Mount Vesuvius erupted in April 1906, Dr. Moscati voluntarily helped to evacuate a nursing home in the endangered area, personally moving the frail and infirm patients to safety minutes before the roof of the building collapsed under the ash. He also served beyond the call of duty during the 1911 cholera epidemic and treated approximately 3,000 soldiers during World War I.

In another letter to a student, Dr. Moscati wrote, "Not science, but charity has transformed the world," explaining that only a few go down in history as men of science, but all can leave the world a better place by their charity.

On a Tuesday in 1927, Giuseppe Moscati went to Mass and received Holy Communion (as he did every day) and then made his rounds at the hospital. After a midday meal he felt weary, lay down, and died peacefully. He was not yet 47 years old.

St Giuseppe... pray for us and pray for the Church.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Shields on Judas'

An essential element of Judas' candles are shields. They look good of course, but they also provide the function of covering up the join between real candle and Judas candle.

I showed some of the shields in St Joseph's Nympsfield here. But I can't paint that well, so these are the one's I've done.

Not fantastic very close up, but from a yard or so they will look fine.

So I have done these two (on the back of a cornflakes packet), and have to decide whether to do two more diferent ones or two more of the same.

They are going to look excellent.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Making Judas'

Who can resist making Judas candles!

There are currently drying. The nice lady in the Brico-Pro no longer bats an eyelid as I go in and buy a two metre length of dowling and four brass screw things.

They are called Judas candles as they are false. they are there either to make sure that the candle is always the same height, or to give added to height without the additional amount of candle.  I hope they will look the business.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sock Tree

Avid readers will have noticed a slight sock problem in Chavagnes International College. You can see such an example here. They disappear with frightening frequency and and bizarrely are the only things left when the boys seemingly spontaneously combust.

Thankfully we have a tree in the garden which seems to grow socks. 

Hopefully there is mysterious bush which performs a similar function for boys.

It seems that the problem has been solved

Thursday, 19 September 2013

400 Years Behind the Times

We have to try to understand Pope Francis' latest interview in terms of his cultural and social context. He asked us to do that to others we must do the same to him.

The problem is that we in the West, particularily western Europe, underwent the ravages of protestantism some 400 years ago. We were bewildered by it. It seemed so plausible. It seemed not to ask for much and the rewards it offered seemed to be so great... and what is more, it seemed so very, very pastoral.

We soon knew, of course, that it was not of God. It advanced towards not only the destruction of the Church of God, but also, as we now see, the destruction of morals and the very foundational values of society.

Those of us who live, or grew up, in protestant countries know this very well. We see it every day. We breath its consequences.

We have to understand that the current Pope has lived his life in South America, almost blissfully unaware of protestantism. In recent years protentantism has started to make great inroads in that area of the world, and quite rightly the Catholic Church there is terribly worried about it. But we know, because we have been through it, that you cannot bend to cultural relativism. You cannot put the sticking plaster of "pastoral concern" over a stinking sore.

We know this. South America does not.

In my Old Testament studies one of the most important things was sitz im leben: the cultural background from which one came and from which one speaks. Pope Benedict knew and saw the dangers of pandering to the voices of "reconciliation" (falsely called) because he had lived through it. Pope Francis comes from a background being challenged by it for the first time.

We listen to our Holy Father. We obey our Holy Father. But we must UNDERSTAND our Holy Father, and interpret him correctly, according to his own background and worldview.

It will be different if he actually says anything which is not simply his own opinion as the Bishop of Rome. Until then, let us critique and explain. Let us be pastoral about the whole thing and not be dogmatic in judging the individual... even though he may well be responding to a problem 400 years after it first ravaged the world, and his response has proven to be incorrect.

That, after all, is what the Pope has asked us to do.

Fr Blake

Fr Blake at Fr Ray Blakes Blog, has been traduced recently. You can see it all on his blog.

Even in the new age of electronic media there have to be standards. You cannot go around twisting a man's words and just expect to get away with it.

No, wait, you can. By the time something has been uttered and entered into the 'no smoke without fire' part of the world's consciousness, then it is all too late.

I do not know any priest, least of all Fr Blake, who would have said such uncharitable things about the poor. Our faith is too littered with cautionary tales for that.

St Edward the confessor was riding to a ceremony at a chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist in Essex when a beggar asked for alms. Edward had no money with him so he took off his ring and handed it to the poor man instead. 
A few years later two English pilgrims were travelling through the Holy Land and became stranded. They were helped by an old man who told them he was St John the Evangelist.He was carrying the ring Edward had given to the beggar some years previously. He asked the pilgrims to return it to the king telling him that in six months he would meet St John in heaven.

We do not know who may be disguised as the poor, and we act accordingly. 

"Uttering all kinds of calumny on account of my name" springs to mind. All strength and prayers to Fr Blake.

The poor we will have always with us... the Lord was silent about the continuation of journalists.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Happy Fireman Day

On Saturday, popping down to buy some chocolate (for the boys you understand) I was comfronted by this rather strange sight. It is not everyday that you come across a brass band in the middle of a small town in the Vendee.

It turned out that it was Chavagnes turn to hold the Happy Fireman day celebrations.

Of course it was not officially called Happy Fireman Day - but I think it should be. But how wonderful it is that these guilds (for want of a better word) are celebrated by society and take pride in their identity.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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