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?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I've found myself

Was it here, on the mountains of Tibet that found myself? No.
In the quiet and silence of the library, one's mind automatically turns to the bigger questions of life...
What is the purpose of all this beauty of God's creation around me?
Why was I placed on this planet, and what is my purpose?
Why is that annoying woman talking all the time to her friend... doesn't she know that this is a library??!!
What is my next blog post going to be about?
But most fundamental of all...
You've only got two weeks left, what in heaven's name do you think you are doing messing about with this???!
And these are valid questions. So you will be pleased to know that I have finally found myself.

If you look closely you can see me, I'm the one next to the book.
I am on level three of the Bill Bryson library in Durham. And here I am...

Look, me in the library.
For a while I thought that I should be located in Durham Cathedral with my bones, but the protestants who are in charge of them, bone stealers and body snatchers, get a bit sniffy when I start kissing my own grave. Grrrr.

My tomb in Durham Cathedral.
So I am pleased as punch to know that I am here in the library as well. This a 'young Bede' and is a copy of one that is in the Beda College in Rome. For some inexplicable reason I have not been invited there to be honoured and feted, as is my due.

Personally, in this last one I think I look rather unworkmanlike and rather dull. I am not sure St Bede would have approved. He, like me, was completely shy and retiring, and was never short of industrious work, and was never one to hog the lime light.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Do we still believe in angels?

“The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary…”
“Holy Michael, Archangel…”
“Angel of God, my guardian dear…”

Talk of angels surrounds us in our personal devotions. The Angelus speaks of the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the prayers after Low Mass invoke the powerful protection of the mighty Archangel Michael. And hopefully we remember through the day the presence of our Guardian angel as well.

In fact, it is not just talk of angels which surrounds us, but the angels themselves. So, what are they? Well, to begin with they are creatures created by God. They are not the souls of people who have died, nor are they gods, or deities, or malevolent pixies or sprites. The angels are parts of God’s creation, and they share the common purpose of all creation, namely to worship and adore the One who made them. Like us, however, they may be given jobs or tasks to do. Thus it was that Gabriel (whose name means ‘the power of God’) came to Our Lady, and the Michael (meaning ‘who is like God?’) stands at the doors of Eden, of Paradise, with a flaming sword, and is destined to be in a battle with Satan until the end of time. Perhaps the Fallen Angel, Satan, will the subject of another article. By tradition there are seven Archangels, though we only know the names of three, the other named being Raphael in the book of Tobit – the healing of God. The orders, or choirs of angels, from the closest to God outwards, are Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Principalities, and Angels. This ordering is part of our tradition, not an article of faith. The existence of angels, however, is, as it is attested to in Sacred Scripture.

As in Church it is always the people who stand up and do ‘important’ things who get the glory (their reward will be not be great in heaven as they have had theirs here on earth – yikes!) but the real backbone of the Church, without whom it would not run so smoothly, are the people who clean, and do the laundry, and make sure the sacristy is stocked. It is the same with the angels. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, important and flashy, get all the attention; Seraphim and Cherubim, mysterious and mystical, have our fascination; but the real work, in my humble opinion, is done by the most lowly. And these lowly angels, those most intimately involved with us, are our Guardian Angels.

At the moment that you were conceived in your mother’s womb, God assigned an angel to be with you. Your Guardian Angel is always there in every moment of your life. They prompt us, they open our eyes to the possibilities in front of us, and help us to see the good that we can do, and the evil that we should avoid. They are the comforting presence when our hearts are breaking, and the stiffening of our resolve when we are fearful and afraid. They are the voice of reason in moments of temptation, and the voice of calm in panic and distress. And as we lie alone and Death whispers to our heart his sweet secrets, which stills our breath, then it is our Guardian Angel who eases our soul from this mortal frame and leads it to the judgement throne of God.

These are the Angels of God who we should look up to and admire, for they have been with us throughout all of our life.

There are little angel shaped badges that you can get on pieces of card. They are called ‘an angel in my pocket’, and are quite popular. Of course, the cynical me thinks that these things are the result of a complete loss of faith of the people in our society – when we no longer believe in God, then we believe in anything, in lucky charms and talismans. And the theological me thinks that it is errant nonsense to reduce these awesome creatures of God to a little bit of metal, and God help you if you did ever have an angel in your pocket – your pocket would explode at the very least! But the feeble and frail me, the human me, thinks that anything which reminds us of our Guardian Angel is a good thing and something that they, our angels, could use in our everyday life.

Remember your Guardian Angel. Speak to them now. If it has been a long time, then reintroduce yourself. Talk though what has been going on. They are there to listen to you, to guard you, and to guide you.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Leaving do...

At Bellingham on Sunday we had to the most wonderful leaving do. The food was excellent, even hot beef! Lots and lots of it, so much so that I was still eating it on Wednesday. That is always a good sign.

I've been saying Mass there for a year now, since the illness and death of Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, and we have grown quite fond of each other, the parishioners and I.

Full head of hair - my people know how to please me!
So it was lovely to have a 'goodbye' even though I'm still around until the end of the month.

The cake you see above is a Chinese birthday cake. So light! Absolutely lovely. I think I need more Chinese birthday cakes!

I chopped my own head off.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

KLM in Chaos

(Warning the following events did not happen - I don't want to get sued!

KLM 'It doesn't matter who you click with'

The Royal Dutch Airline is today in chaos with all of its aeroplanes grounded after passengers believed its own publicity.

Having been engulfed by pro LGBTiQffTTz propaganda, with the tag line, "It doesn't matter who you click with" Mabel Witherington of Little Humptington said

"Well I believed what the aeroplane man said, well, you would wouldn't you, after all he's the one driving the plane, and it's his job to make sure that everything is all right."

(we chided Mabel for using such terrible stereotyping, gendering language about the pilot being male, merely because of the dangerous misogynistic view that leadership involves having that specific reproductive member. When Mabel replied that 'no, he was a man. He had a beard and a deep voice and everything' we had to remind her that we had no idea how the pilot was identifying, and that she could have been oppressing the pilot, that very moment.)

The KLM logo, the four circles represent the four LGBT elements,
with the i on its side supporting them.
The x on its top (it's not a cross, it's not) represents the subversion of the Queer identity,
redefining from binary into multifluidity.
The main problem happened when Mabel tried to board the KLM 123 flight to see her daughter Mildred in Amsterdam. Mabel continues:

"Well you see, my Mildred had shown me this picture, she'd printed it off and sent it through the post. I don't really do all these new fangled things. I can't even change the time on my video recorded. It once went haywire and it was that like for ages until that man who lives next door came round one day and I asked him if he could have a look.... [Mabel continues with this story] ... so I came  downstairs and said, 'Oh, my Mildred's written to me', and there it was, this picture. So I though, 'aren't they clever now being able to do all that nowadays with those seat belt safety things."

However, not everything was as it seemed, because when Mabel got onto her flight and the flight attendant made the announcement that they were coming around checking seatbelts and that the trays were in the upright position, Mabel's story took a terrible turn.

"You see, there was no one in the seat next to me. Which was lovely because sometimes you sit next to some one, and I'm not saying this to be nasty, I'm not like that, but sometimes I don't know how they can go out of the house without washing. A bar of soap cost's nothing, my mum used to say, God rest her soul. So there was no one there, and I had that nice picture with me that my Mildred had sent, and so I thought I'd try it. I took the flappy end bit from the seat next to me, you know the one that you put the other thing into, and I just put it beside the same one from my seat, on my lap in front of me. They looked lovely there together, both the same. Just like the picture."
But this happy state of affairs was not to last

Was this the woman responsible? No
"Then the stewardess came and said I had to use the other one and put the two together. I said 'no dear, you don't have to do that now, look it's all different nowadays. I've got a picture from your airline. It says it doesn't matter anymore.' Well, she said I had to and that it wouldn't be safe and that the aeroplane couldn't take off unless I did it right, and that was how the safety belts were designed, and that if we didn't use them in the way the manufacturer had built them, then, well, she didn't know what would happen.'
"I was all a bit confused as you can image, so I asked, 'So this picture isn't right, then? So it does matter who you click with, dear?' Well she just looked at me, and ran to the front of the aeroplane. I didn't know what was happening. All of a sudden, two security men came up to me and started dragging me off. Of course as my safety belt wasn't fastened, they could just picked me up - it really did matter after all.
"When I got past the air stewardess, she just looked at me and said 'how dare you, you evil, patriarchal, misogynistic, anti-equality old trout! It does not matter who you click with, we are all free to decide who we are, and who we love and how we live our lives. Your very breathing oppresses me.'
And I've been in this nice hospital ever since."
Mabel never made it to see her daughter.

Apparently it does matter who you click with. You have to click with the zeitgeist, no matter how wrong it is.

Monday, 7 August 2017

At long last

I have been saying this prayer for years. It is great finally to see who wrote it!

(Although there is a different author claimed in no 586!)

Thursday, 3 August 2017

You have to despair...

One of the unforeseen consequences about the rise of hymn singing in the Catholic Church is that we are now tyrannised by the editors of hymn books.

We have to remember that hymns would be sung at benediction, and other liturgies, but not during Mass. Mass was quite simple, you had the texts of Mass and they were set to various Gregorian chants. The Church choir sung the bits for the day, and the people joined in the Asperges, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei. The bits, by the way, which we should still be able to sing in Latin (and Greek for the Kyrie) now.

Do you know the Asperges? Could you hold your own in the Missa de Angelis stakes?

So when we ignored a thousand or years plus music and liturgical practice, and started to sing hymns in the vernacular at Mass, we fell into the same trap as we did when we shoved as much Bible into Mass as possible. We mistook quantity for quality.

So we are left with the most terrible doggerel in our hymnbooks. This is one of my favourites...
Joseph was a happy man (x6)
Seriously, that was a 'hymn'! I don't mind proper hymns too much - though I have no idea why we should sing them during Mass when a perfectly good choir could be singing something lovely, and we could be praying, or preparing to sing the Credo.

Now it is quite difficult choosing hymns for Sunday. I have to do it at Swinburne. So I sometimes look at the handy helpful suggestions in the back of the hymnbook.

And this is what I saw for the Sunday of the magnificent Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Shine, Jesus, Shine. PLEASE! This, the worship of God, the joining of heaven and earth, the bloodless of sacrifice of God to God, the Transfiguration... and Shine Jesus Shine.

Why do we bother?!

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