Saturday, 30 March 2013


They took Our Lord and stripped Him of His garments. Exposing Him for all the world to see.

And they killed Him.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Ready for the Mandatum

The chapel is ready for the beginning of the Holy Week Ceremonies.

I am lucky enough this year to be able to carry out the washing of the feet. I do not have the luxury of having 12 men but I will do my best - I will wash the feast of 5 men.

I, unlike the Holy Father so it seems, am not important enough to do what I like with the liturgy and will obey the Church.

I do not like the fact that the Pope is washing women's feet. If he wants to change the law he can... but I can't. Ironic isn't that the more humble you are the more willful you can be.

Pope no longer Communist

Pope Francis has got rid of that ghastly communist star and made it more into something Our Lady might like.

And apparently it was never a bunch of grapes!!!

First ideas often have to be changed with mature reflection... hmmm.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Lucon was held yesterday at Sables d'Olonnes.

It is quite long, but you can watch it here.

It was quite fine.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Easter Ceremonies

The Holy Week Ceremonies will be celebrated according to the Ancient Form at the chapel of Chavagnes International College at the following times

8pm   Maundy Thursday
3pm   Good Friday
8pm   Holy Saturday

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


We have had a visiting artist with us for a week. A wonderful chap called Mads Peter Brandstrup Jensen. He has been giving some drawing classes to the boys. Of course we have a wonderful art teacher but it is always good to have a visitor. Especially when he offers to draw yours truly.

Mads Peter's website is here. I sat for him for about four hours and only fell asleep once!

So here are some photos of the picture he drew. To help my humility I will hang it over my desk to remind me of my mortality.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Backing our Lady

Some avid readers noticed that in the picture above there was a rather smashing backing to the Blessed Virgin Mary (or Blessed Virgin Mary in a veil as she is at the moment).

Indeed. Being inspired by the sight of an unused altar frontal for an altar that no longer exists I could think of nothing better to do with it than to fashion it cunningly into a gothique backing to Our Lady.

I wrote the Pope's Motto

OK, OK so it was St Bede the Venerable. But we're very close.

Fr Zuhlsdorf explains it wonderfully here.

I'd just like to say "St Bede Rocks!"

Monday, 18 March 2013


I still did not manage to get to the high ones this year. See here, here and here.

Perhaps next year?

Meeting the Bishop

The boys to be confirmed went to see Mgr Castet this morning. We have 11 all together which is quite something for a school this size.

Mgr spoke to them about the symbols of confirmation and that they will need to fight against the world as it turns from God. Sobering thoughts, but delivered with charm and genuine warmth.

We like our Bishop.

Friday, 15 March 2013

From Mgr Castet, Bishop of Lucon

Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum


Georgium Marium Bergoglio

qui sibi nomen imposuit

Fr a n c i s c um

Tu es Pierre et sur cette pierre, je bâtirai mon Eglise (Mt, 16, 18)

Ce mercredi 13 mars à 19 h, au terme d’un bref conclave, l’Eglise à l’écoute de l’Esprit, par la voix de ses cardinaux, a porté le Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, comme 265ème successeur de Pierre. Contre toute attente, ses « frères cardinaux sont allés le chercher au loin, presqu’au bout du monde. »

Par la prière, par la médiation humaine, par l’écoute de la Parole, survient celui que l’on n’attend pas, celui qui est don de Dieu, déjouant les raccourcis et les pronostics médiatiques.

Il a choisi le nom de François, celui du pauvre d’Assise qui a configuré sa vie au Christ.

Le monde entier a été surpris. C’est trop vite oublier que le conclave est avant tout un acte spirituel : il s’agit d’une démarche de discernement opérée sous le regard de Dieu. Par-delà la médiation humaine, l’Esprit Saint agit et donne à l’Eglise le Pape dont elle a besoin dans le monde de ce temps.

A l’humilité du Pape Benoit XVI répondent les mots du Pape François lors de sa première apparition au balcon de St Pierre. Loin de toutes les supputations humaines, l’attend une tâche ancienne et toujours nouvelle pour l’Eglise de Dieu : annoncer à temps et à contretemps la bonne nouvelle du Salut à tous les hommes. Il continue le chemin au service d’une évangélisation toujours nouvelle. En ce sens, on ne peut parler que de continuité du témoignage dans la fidélité au Seigneur : allez donc, de toutes les nations, faites des disciples et baptisez-les au nom du Père, et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit (Mt 28, 19). Toutes les autres tâches, même essentielles, demeurent subordonnées à cette priorité absolue.

Le nom de François rappelle également à chacun et à chacune d’entre nous que le témoignage et l’adhésion de foi ne peuvent être authentiques que dans une cohérence de vie. Le nouveau souverain pontife, disciple de St Ignace, a tenté de le vivre de manière limpide jusque dans sa responsabilité d’archevêque de Buenos Aires.

Rendons grâce pour le don de Dieu fait à son Eglise et prions pour celui que Dieu a choisi.

Je vous invite à vous joindre, ou à vous unir d’intention, à la messe d’action de grâce que je célébrerai ce dimanche à 19h, en l’église Saint-Louis de la Roche-sur-Yon.

+ Alain Castet,

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Pope Francis and the Cross

When we walk without the Cross,
when we build without the Cross, 
and when we profess Christ without the Cross, 
we are not disciples of the Lord. 

We are worldly, 
we are bishops, 

but not disciples of the Lord.

Pope Francis


I like a Pope who likes Our Lady and takes her flowers.

In the Arms of Mary

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, elected in the conclave Wednesday evening, made his first and officially unscheduled visit to the Rome Basilica of Saint Mary Major early Thursday, surprising residents and children on their way to a nearby school.The Pope was accompanied by Prefect of the Papal Household, Msgr. George Gaenswein and Vice Prefect Leonardo Sapienza.In his address to the tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his election Wednesday evening, Pope Francis called for prayers to Our Lady and said he was going to “go pray to the Madonna so that she may protect Rome”. Pope Francis remained about half an hour in prayer at the basilica’s altar of the Virgin Mary. The Basilica is one of Rome’s most important Marian shrines.

Pope Francis

May he be a great and courageous Pope. We will pray for him continually.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Song of the New Pope

What will this day be like? I wonderWhat will my future be? I wonderIt could be so excitingTo be out in the world To be freeMy heart should be wildly rejoicingOh what's the matter with me?
I've always longed for adventureTo do the things I've never daredNow here i'm facing adventureThen why am I so scared?
Captain with seven childrenWhats so fearsome about that?
Oh I must stop all these doubtsAll these worriesIf I don't i just know i'll turn backI must dream of the things I am seekingI am seeking the courage I lack
The courage to serve them with relianceFace my mistakes without defianceShow them I'm worthyAnd while I show themI'll show me! So!
Let them bring on all their problemsI'll do better than my bestI have confidenceThey'll put me to the testBut I'll make them seeI have confidence in me
Somehow I will impress themI will be firm but kindAnd all those childrenHeaven bless themThey will look up to meAnd mind me 
With each step I am more certainEverything will turn out fineI have confidence the world can all be mineThey'll have to agree I have confidence in me
I have confidence in sunshineI have confidence in rainI have confidence that spring will come again Besides what you see I have confidence in me!
Strength doesn't lie in numbersStrength doesn't lie in wealthStrength lies in nights of peaceful slumberWhen you wake upWake up! It's healthy!
All I trustI give my heart toAll I trust becomes my ownI have confidence In confidence alone
I have confidence in confidence alone!Besides what you see I have confidence 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Monday, 11 March 2013

Authentic Liturgy

His Lordship, Philip, Bishop of Portsmouth has issued a wide ranging and excellent Pastoral Letter. See it here. It even has footnotes. This is wontderful as it might encourage priests and laity alike to follow up on some of the teaching expressed in it and do a  little 'learning' during Lent.

It ends thus...

Let me add a final thought: the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Mass, which is principally where we experience the power of God’s love and receive a foretaste of heaven.
In recent years, a false idea has arisen that envisages the Mass as something we do, rather than what God is doing. In fact, in the Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus offers Himself to the Father through the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit associates us with Christ's prayer and offering. This is why the Mass is not ours; it is God’s work. In this Year of Faith, I would like to invite everyone to review their attitude towards the Mass, to celebrate Mass authentically, to focus at Mass on Christ, not on ourselves as priests or people. It is important, of course, that we do our part, that we abide diligently by the rubrics, that we participate actively with due reverence, and that in our parishes, schools and communities, we foster the full variety and nobility of the Roman Rite, in its liturgical and musical styles, although always with the best examples. In this regard, many of our communities are now international, and so I wish to ask each parish and school to ensure, as Vatican II called for, that everyone knows the Latin prayers and the Latin chants of the Mass, at least those given in the new Missal. This is important in itself and for the young, but also as a work of evangelisation: that any visitor will know they have reached the universal 'Church of the Ages'.

I cannot think of a better way to express it. Let us hope that the diocese of Portsmouth takes heed of the bidding of her Bishop and the teaching of Our Holy Mother, the Church.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Boys, boys, boys

The boys are coming back. If you have been following these musings over the years, then you will know that I always like it when the boys come back. It is great to have a holiday, but a school is designed to have noise and bustle.

We have 5 stagers (French boys who come for a week to learn English) who have just arrived and are looking rather forlorn. If the past is anything to go by, they will be on cracking form by this evening.

The only tricky bit is that I set them loads of homework to do and it is a heck of a job to get it in. All the wonderful excuses start.

"I forgot to take it home" - It's OK you can do it in detention.
"I left it at home" - I have your mother's number I'll phone her and she can post it
"You didn't give us any" - snorts of derision.

What fun.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Snazzy Saturno

Having a strange shaped head, buying a hat has always been fraught with difficulties. This is a terrible state for one who is overly fond of hats.

So saturno shopping in Rome recently posed the usual problems. I have to buy a hat that fits and then mould it to my head. This usually involves smashing the brim. This is not ideal when you have just spend far too many euros on the darned thing.

But then I thought of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman - as you do. I remember a saturno of his that was kept up at the sides by strings.

So as any enterprising priest with an ill fitting hat would do, I immediately set about the said titfer and transformed it into the hat you see here.

Not only the heights of sartorial elegance but also très stylé.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Queen with Down's Syndrome

There is much in the newspapers that Princess Kate may have let slip that the royal child may be a girl! You can see a report here in Reuters.

Now I'm not too bothered about the sex of the child, though it is interesting that if the law is changed then be it boy or girl then it would be our future monarch. The reason for this is equality.

[Please: do not at this moment become incandescent with rage at the wilful blindness of politicians saying that it is against equality that a first born girl cannot be monarch, if a boy comes after, but it's perfectly alright that they can't be Catholic.]
But wouldn't it be wonderful if the child that Princess Kate is carrying has Down's Syndrome. I used to live in a L'Arche community with people with learning difficulties and there was a wonderful chap there called Philip who had Down's (devoted to the Queen he was too). He would have been an excellent King.

It's hard writing this to not offend anyone, and I mean no offence at all, I just find it interesting to think what would happen if our future Monarch was in some way differently abled? The days of shoving people off into an asylum or a far distant palace are far off. This would be true equality. After all, what does a constitutional monarch do? Think about it for a while... it's perfectly sensible.

Of course as we know equality only goes so far. Princess Kate could have her baby killed on the way to the hospital if the poor mite had Down's. Equality does not stretch to ten minutes before birth. We all have equal rights, just so long as you manage to get out of your mother's womb alive. Over 90% of babies in the womb with Down's are killed.
It's hard looking into the eyes of someone (like my friend Philip, now dead, God rest him) and telling them that if their mother had found out that they were as they are, that she could have had him injected in the head and killed.

So if the little one, be he boy or be she girl, then the nation will rejoice. But let's hope to God that if she does have Down's that no one finds out, we don't want another case of infanticide on our hands.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Concerning Cardinals

The boys in school are always fascinated by Cardinals. They do not have a great grasp on the hierarchy of the Church, even after much teaching by me... invincible ignorance or unclear teaching? Hmmm.

It is fine saying that Bishops are the really important thing, but, and here out of the mouth of babes etc., they know that Cardinals are just so cool, and so very important to have the role of electing the Pope. And they wear snazzy red.

So we underestimate the power of Cardinals at our peril. I do not mean the power they have in the conclave, but the power they have in the popular imagination. I suppose that the popular description of 'Princes of the Church' has now been quietly dropped in order to embrace the humility of the Church, but it should not be so.

Of course the Apostles were Bishops, and the chief of them was the Vicar of Christ, our first Pope, St Peter, but how wonderful to think of them as Princes of the Church! In the eyes of the world, how could this raggle taggle bunch of fishermen, tax collectors, zealots and the rest be of any importance? They did not have the lineage of princedom, nor, let's face it, the track record. Princes of the Church being dragged through the mud to their death, running away and being brought back by the miraculous appearance of angels, being flayed alive, hung upside down on the cross...

Any yet they were the first true Princes of the Church. Our Saviour was a King, but his kingdom was not of this world, and our Princes are princes indeed, but following their heavenly master - not the whims and dictates of this vale of tears.

So let our Princes gather and fulfil their function. Let them shimmer in the reflected glory of their King and render to Him an account of their prayers and deliberations.

Let them elect our new Pope.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Our Lady of Death

Is the rather wonderful title of the church mentioned a few posts below. More photos on the Clifton Latin Mass website. Always a good read.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Back in Blighty

I returned to England last night and already being in Rome seems an age ago. You get so caught up in everything and rightly so. I suppose that it is one of those opportunities that only comes around once in a life time. I can definitely say that it is the only Papal resignation that I want to see in my span on this earth.

One small regret (which is undoubtedly good for my humility) is that I cannot get hold of the BBC interview, but people have said it was ok.

If anyone finds a link to it (for my mother you understand!) then I'd be very grateful.

Friday, 1 March 2013

More suffering

Purgatory in Rome

I'm not sure of the name. But it's the guild of the suffering souls I think. The crypt is wonderful. Pictures below. It is not often open.

Momento mori.

Galeros everywhere

I quite like galero spotting. In most parts of the world it is a fine thing to catch one in the wild. Even more difficult in England. Here in Rome of course it is ridiculously easy. Everything has got a galero on it.

So I limit myself to this little offering which is a public water fountain. There is the very famous one with the tiaras and keys close to the Vatican but this is much humbler ... Were it not for the flaming huge galero over the top.

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