The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue

The Importance of Ecumenical Dialogue
"Oh PLEASE say I'm the Archbishop of Canterbury!"

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Petition Against Communion In The Hand



My good friend [I don't know him at all, I've just lifted this whole post from Fr Finigan], Fr Andrew Wise, of the diocese of Sale in Victoria (Australia), together with Fr John Speekman, has drawn up a petition to the Holy Father which reads as follows:

Your Holiness,
We are convinced of the great spiritual harm inflicted on the Catholic faithful, and the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament that often occurs by the practice of Communion received on the hand.


We implore Your Holiness to personally intervene to restore once again the normative practice of reception of Holy Communion on the tongue alone.


There is also a blog in support of the petition. Andrew Rabel wrote a piece to give a little background to the petition, and Cardinal Arinze has written in support of the piece. Bishop Schneider has also written in support, and has signed the petition. I have also signed the petition. Many ordinary laity receive Holy Communion in the hand because that is what they were taught to do; in some cases they were told that it was the more proper, reverent, ancient, grown-up, or modern way to receive Holy Communion. Bishop Schneider's book "It is the Lord" (sold in England by Gracewing) answers all of the usual justifications for the practice and urgently recommends a return to the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

Apart from the major concern over the danger of profanation with Communion in the hand, the "sign value" of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue distinguishes the act of receiving Holy Communion from an ordinary act of taking an ordinary snack to eat. Little toddlers recognise this if they accompany their mother to the altar rail: when Mum receives Holy Communion in the hand, they will often ask "Can I have one?"; this is much less common if Mum receives Holy Communion on the tongue. They are given an early lesson in the difference between the Eucharist and ordinary bread.

Sign the petition here.

[Part of an old post of mine may be of interest here; In a speech prepared before his death the Cardinal said that, "Communion in the hand, moving the Blessed Sacrament from the high altar, failure to genuflect, have in my experience weakened the respect and devotion due to so great a sacrament." (my emphasis) (Catholic Herald 3rd September 1999)

When permission was given by Rome for Communion in the hand, Rome made it clear that,
"The condition [for this permission]is the complete avoidance of any cause for the faithful to be shocked and any danger of irreverence toward the Eucharist." My emphasis added. (click for details)

In Cardinal Hume's judgement then this condition has not been met. Far be it from me to disagree with the Cardinal, so when we take his (Head of the Church in Wales & England) comments, along with the above from Rome, there can be no doubt that Communion in the hand is illicit in Wales & England.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, The Idols Of Scotland

THE IDOLS OF SCOTLAND (XXXII)

THE thing that strikes me most in current controversy is that our opponents are talking almost entirely in terms of the past, and that an entirely dead past; whereas we are making some sort of attempt, whether it be considered impertinent or eccentric or meddlesome or paradoxical, to deal with the practical conditions of the present. An amusing comedy on these lines seems to have arisen on the subject of Scottish Nationalism or the notion of Home Rule for North Britain. A worthy Presbyterian has warned his fellow-countrymen that the movement is tainted by the presence of Roman Catholics, and especially by that of Mr. Compton Mackenzie; and that no little degree of the deadly peril is indicated by the fact that Mr. Cunninghame Graham is interested in a book by Mr. Belloc; in which the hideous sentiment is uttered that the Reformation was the shipwreck of Christendom. Personally I should have thought it was obvious to anybody on any side, in one solid and objective sense, that it was the shipwreck of Christendom. I should imagine that it would be obvious to anybody, for instance, who desires or even discusses the Reunion of Christendom. There certainly was a united vessel or vehicle and it certainly did break up into different parts. Some people may think the ship was a rotten old-fashioned three-decker that was bound to break up; and that the people were lucky who got away from it in boats. But it is certain that it did break up and that the boats were not the same as the original ship. A man might as well resent our saying that the rise of the feudal kingdoms and the modern nationalities was part of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. This is only one of the marks of such bigotry; but it is worth noting at the outset. One of the peculiarities of this sort of bigot is that he cannot distinguish between provocative statements and plain inevitable statements. If I say that the Reformation was a relapse into barbarism, a return to all that was worst in the Dark Ages without anything of what was best in them, an idolatry of dead Hebrew documents full of visions and symbols without any Daniel to interpret the dreams, a stampede of brutal luxury and pride with a vulgar howl of hot-gospelling for an excuse, a riot of thieves and looters with a few foaming and gibbering lunatics carried in front of it like live mascots for luck; the return of the Manichee, the dirty ape of the ascetic, conspiring with the devil to destroy the world-- if I were to say all this I should think that these remarks about Protestantism certainly had a slightly provocative flavour. But if I were to say, with Mr. Belloc, that Protestantism was the shipwreck of Christendom, I should regard it as an ordinary historical statement, like saying that the American War of Independence was a split in the British Empire. The bigot cannot see the difference between these two types of statement, whether made by us or by himself.

The next interesting thing to note about the protest is that the Protestant goes on to say that Mr. Compton Mackenzie and his friends are going to ruin Scotland by removing the stern teaching of John Knox, which has apparently created the Scottish character. This seems a little hard on the Scottish character. I cannot quite bring myself to believe that the character of Scott or of Stevenson, the character of Burns or Barrie, are exact and unaltered reproductions of the stern teaching of John Knox. But before we come to any such comparisons, it is worth remarking, on the face of the thing that a rather more living world, a life more in touch with modern conditions, a grasp of the actual problems of the present and the immediate future, is rather more indicated by saying the words "Compton Mackenzie" than by saying the words "John Knox." Many very modern young men have recently joined the same religion as Mr. Compton Mackenzie. No such modern young men, that I ever heard of, have ever exhibited the smallest desire to go back to the religion of John Knox. As a matter of plain fact, there is hardly one modern Scotsman in a thousand who has the smallest sympathy with the real religion of John Knox. He may vaguely respect John Knox as a Scottish hero, on the supposition (quite startlingly false) that he was a Scottish patriot. As a matter of fact, the patriotic party in Scotland was the wicked Papistical party; Knox and his Presbyterians were all for helping the pressure of England and Elizabeth. They would have justified themselves by saying that they had the one, true and only right religion. The question is, who is left even in Scotland who believes that it was the one, true and only right religion? I repeat, about one in a thousand; perhaps only a few splendidly fanatical old Wee Frees in the Highlands. Anybody who knows anything of the Scottish Presbyterian Churches, during the last fifty years, knows that the prevailing doctrine taught in them has NOT been the severe Calvinism of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries, still less the wild Calvinism of the sixteenth. It has been a mild hash of Hegelian philosophy and Higher Criticism, all borrowed from Germany and carefully learnt by Scotch students in German Universities. And anybody who has noticed what the modern Scottish character is really like, knows that it does not by this time (thank heaven) bear the smallest resemblance to the sternness of John Knox. It is rather sentimental than otherwise, though its sentiment finds expression in more than one brilliant and admirable man of genius. Modern Scotland is not even remotely represented by John Knox. It is represented much more accurately, and much more honourably, by Sir Harry Lauder and Sir James Barrie.

This dull habit of invoking dead things, in a world in which we are surrounded by more and more interesting living things, is the second mark of the sort of bigot I am describing. It would be an extremely interesting business to write a real, respectful and sympathetic history of the remarkable episode of Scottish Puritanism; insisting on its integrity and its intellectual vigour while it lasted. But any sincere study of it must conclude with the statement that it did not last. One of the most brilliant and distinguished of Scottish professors, at Edinburgh University, himself of an origin wholly Puritan and of sympathies the very reverse of Catholic, used to me the true and forcible expression about the old Scottish Sabbatarianism, "It covered all Scotland; and then one morning, it had suddenly vanished everywhere like the snow." And though the story might be told truly from either standpoint, or from many others, it is but natural that we should draw our own moral from it. And the moral is, of course, one which we find running through the whole of our history.

The birth and death of every heresy has been essentially the same. A morbid or unbalanced Catholic takes one idea out of the thousandfold throng of Catholic ideas; and announces that he cares for that Catholic idea more than for Catholicism. He takes it away with him into a wilderness, where the idea becomes an image and the image an idol. Then, after a century or two, he suddenly wakes up and discovers that the idol is an idol; and, shortly after that, that the wilderness is a wilderness. If he is a wise man, he calls himself a fool. If he is a fool, he calls himself an evolutionary progressive who has outgrown the worship of idols; and he looks round him at the wilderness, spreading bare and desolate on every side and says, in the beautiful words of Mr. H. G. Wells: "I see no limit to it at all."

That is what happened to the Calvinistic Scotsman; and the chief comfort in the prospect is that the Scotsman is not generally a fool, even when he has ceased to be a Calvinist. But he very often becomes an atheist; and the fact that so many of the hard destructive sceptics, from Hume downwards, came from Scotland, was the early and significant evidence of the discovery of the idol and the wilderness. But in any case, that is the compact parable of what occurred. The Calvinist was a Catholic whose imagination had been in some way caught and overpowered by the one isolated theological truth of the power and knowledge of God; and he offered to it human sacrifice, not only of every human sentiment, but of every other divine quality. Something in that bare idea of all-seeing, all-searching and pitiless power intoxicated and exalted certain men for a certain period, as certain men are intoxicated by a storm of wind or some terrible stage tragedy. The more moderate Protestants, the Anglicans and to a large extent the Lutherans, had something of the same queer feeling about the King. Hence came the Cavalier doctrine of Divine Right--and the court chaplains of Prussia. Nothing is more intriguing and challenging to the imagination than the necessity of trying to understand how men in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries felt a sort of abstract altruistic joy in the mere might and triumph of the Prince; in the mere autocracy of the earthly ruler. The Calvinists, to do them justice, felt it only about the heavenly ruler. In that sense the Scots can look proudly back on their Calvinism. But they cannot look proudly forward to Calvinism. They really know, as well as anybody else, that this isolated religious idea can no longer be kept separate from all the other religious ideas to which it belongs. The Calvinism of the Puritan is as dead as the Divine Right of the Cavaliers; men can no longer worship the idol, whether it is Presbyterianism or Erastianism. They can only worship the wilderness; which is atheism--or, as the more polite say, pantheism.

Whether it be called a Catholic tendency or no, all the movements of all the sects of late have been in the direction of trying to put together again those separate pieces that were pulled apart in the sixteenth century. The main feature of our time has been the fact that one person after another has recovered one piece after another, and added it to the new scheme by borrowing it from the old. There is one sufficient proof that there has indeed been a shipwreck. And that is that Robinson Crusoe has, ever since, been continually going back to get things from the wreck.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Old Rite Mass & Social This Friday




"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy."
~ Saint John Vianney

Join Juventutem London as we celebrate the feast of Saint John Chrysostom with Solemn High Mass (Old Rite, normally offered for Good Counsel).

Saint Mary Moorfields Catholic Church, 4-5 Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LS
Friday, 27th January, 6.30pm

Music:Missa Ecce sacerdos magnus (K, G, S, A) Palestrina
Ecce sacerdos magnus Victoria
Alma redemptoris Mater Palestrina

After Mass there will be a social downstairs for those aged 18-35 with an exception for priests and religious.
The Mass, of course, is open to all.

If you plan on coming to the social please click 'Attending' on our Facebook event page.
Please let others know about this Mass by forwarding this post or by inviting your friends on Facebook.

"When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar."
~ Saint John Chrysostom

WHAT IS JUVENTUTEM?

Juventutem London is a group for young Catholic adults that meets with the blessing of Bishop Alan Hopes and Fr Peter Newby, whose parish church, St Mary Moorfields on Eldon Street, we use for Mass. We currently offer the only regular Solemn High Mass in London, which takes place on the 4th Friday of every month (generally - check 5-weeked months to make sure). Following Mass we have a social and a meal. We also meet for 'unofficial' socials on the greater feasts of the Church, after Masses offered in other locations in London.

The International Juventutem Federation is an international Catholic organisation for young people (18-35) with an interest in and love of the Traditional Latin Mass, also known as the Extraordinary Form and the 'Tridentine' or Gregorian Mass. They are in good standing with the Church and obedient to her Magisterium. They have received letters of praise from Cardinal Levada of the CDF. The name 'Juventutem' itself is the Latin word for youth and it appears in the opening lines of the traditional Mass

Monday, 23 January 2012

Christi's Choice, What Happened After Her Abortion



As the result of an abortion, Christi Stile ended up in a persistent vegetative state for life. Presented as an emotional interview with her mother, Kay tries to explain what happened and how her family tries to cope with it.

This well made and very moving 30 minute programme will be on EWTN on Tuesday 24th January at 2am, 10.30am and 9pm (sky589 or online)

Deerstalker tip to Good Counsel

Saturday, 21 January 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, The Outline Of The Fall




THE OUTLINE OF THE FALL (XXXI)

I HAVE remarked on the curious rearguard action of bluff that is being fought to cover the retreat of the Darwinians. An example of the same thing has appeared in connection with a much more famous name; indeed, with two famous names. Mr. H. G. Wells has replied to Mr. Belloc, who wrote a criticism of the "Outline of History," chiefly to protest against a certain tone of arbitrary generalisation and sham knowledge of the unknown. A typical case was that in which Mr. Wells said of the men who drew reindeers in caves: "There seems no scope in such a life for speculation or philosophy," and Mr. Belloc not unnaturally answered: "Why on earth not?" But the details of the various works in question do not concern me immediately here; they mostly depend on that habit of talking as if every cave-drawing had its date obligingly inscribed on it; or any stone hatchet might bear the inscription 400,000 B.C. or possibly, B.O.H., or Before the Outline of History. At the moment the only point of contact is that which affects a continuation of our previous criticism, touching the present state of Darwinism. And what strikes me is that even Mr. Wells, often a sufficiently warm controversialist, is relatively and really cold in the matter; and his defence of Darwin is much more of an apology than an apologia. Indeed, like so many other modern apologies, it almost amounts to pleading that Darwin was not a Darwinian.

The Victorian evolutionists devoted themselves to declaring how great Darwin's thesis was. The new evolutionists seem to devote themselves to explaining how small it was. They really seem to plead, as in the old anecdote, that it gave birth to a theory, but a very little one. Some of Mr. Wells's words may surely, without unfairness, be called apologetic. He does not, like the professor previously mentioned, try to get over the word "origin" by talking about "the cause of the origin." So he concentrates on the word "species," as if evolution had not only applied to a sub-division. He adds that Darwin did not at the beginning even apply it to man. What in the world would the Victorian Darwinians have said had they heard it urged in defence of Darwinism that it was not applied to man? Are we to understand that only the first book of Darwin is divinely inspired? Again, Mr. Wells says that natural selection is common sense. And doubtless, if it only means that things fitted for survival do survive, it is common sense. We may also add that it is common knowledge. Has it come to this, that Darwin is defended because he only discovered what was common knowledge? The real question, of course, is that stated by Mr. Belloc; when he said that nobody needs to be told that in a flood fish live and cattle die. The question is, How soon do cattle turn into fish? That would be an example of the true Darwinian theory; and it is now merely minimised, represented as only one element of evolution and without even the elements of an explanation. We fancy there is a healthy prejudice behind it all. Mr. Wells indignantly repudiates the slander uttered by Mr. Belloc, who called him a patriot. But it is true; the deep English national pride has much to do with this devotion. And rather than deprive England of her Darwin, they have deprived Darwin of his discovery.


When a man is as great a genius as Mr. Wells, I admit it sounds provocative to call him provincial. But if he wants to know why anybody does it, it will be enough to point silently to the headline of one of his pages, which runs: "Where is the Garden of Eden?" To come down to a thing like that, and to think it telling, when talking to an intelligent Catholic about the Fall, that IS provinciality; proud and priceless provinciality. The French peasants of whom Mr. Wells speaks are not in that sense provincial. As Mr. Wells says, they do not know anything about Darwin and Evolution. They do not know and they do not care. That is where they are much better philosophers than Mr. Wells. They hold the philosophy of the Fall, in the form of a simple story which may be historic or symbolic, but anyhow cannot be more important than what it symbolises. In comparison with that truth, it does not matter twopence whether any evolutionary theory is true or not. Whether or no the garden was an allegory, the truth itself can be very well allegorised as a garden. And the point of it is that Man, whatever else he is, is certainly NOT merely one of the plants of the garden that has plucked its roots out of the soil and walked about with them like legs, or on the principle of a double dahlia has grown duplicate eyes and ears. He is something else, something strange and solitary; and more like the statue that was once the god of the garden; but the statue has fallen from its pedestal and lies broken among the plants and weeds. This conception has nothing to do with materialism as it refers to materials. The image might be made of wood; the wood might have come from the garden; the sculptor presumably might, and probably did, allow for the growth and grain of the wood in what he carved and expressed. But my fable fixes the two truths of the true scripture. The first is that the wood was graven or stamped with an image, deliberately, and from the outside; in this case the image of God. The second is that this image has been damaged and defaced, so that it is now both better and worse than the mere plants in the garden, which are perfect according to their own plan. There is room for any amount of speculation about the history of the tree before it was turned into an image; there is room for any amount of doubt and mystery about what really happened when it was turned into an image; there is room for any amount of hope and imagination about what it will look like when it is really mended and made into the perfect statue we have never seen. But it has the two fixed points, that man was uplifted at the first and fell; and to answer it by saying, "Where is the Garden of Eden?" is like answering a philosophical Buddhist by saying, "When were you last a donkey?"

The Fall is a view of life. It is not only the only enlightening, but the only encouraging view of life. It holds, as against the only real alternative philosophies, those of the Buddhist or the Pessimist or the Promethean, that we have misused a good world, and not merely been entrapped into a bad one. It refers evil back to the wrong use of the will, and thus declares that it can eventually be righted by the right use of the will. Every other creed except that one is some form of surrender to fate. A man who holds this view of life will find it giving light on a thousand things; on which mere evolutionary ethics have not a word to say. For instance, on the colossal contrast between the completeness of man's machines and the continued corruption of his motives; on the fact that no social progress really seems to leave self behind; on the fact that the first and not the last men of any school or revolution are generally the best and purest; as William Penn was better than a Quaker millionaire or Washington better than an American oil magnate; on that proverb that says: "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance," which is only what the theologians say of every other virtue, and is itself only a way of stating the truth of original sin; on those extremes of good and evil by which man exceeds all the animals by the measure of heaven and hell; on that sublime sense of loss that is in the very sound of all great poetry, and nowhere more than in the poetry of pagans and sceptics: "We look before and after, and pine for what is not"; which cries against all prigs and progressives out of the very depths and abysses of the broken heart of man, that happiness is not only a hope, but also in some strange manner a memory; and that we are all kings in exile.

Now to people who feel that this view of life is more real, more radical, more universal than the cheap simplifications opposed to it, it comes with quite a shock of bathos to realise that anybody let alone a man like Mr. Wells, supposes that it all depends on some detail about the site of a garden in Mesopotamia, like that identified by General Gordon. It is hard to find any parallel to such an incongruity; for there is no real similarity between our muddled mortal affairs and events that were divine if they were mysterious, and scriptures that are sacred even if they are symbolical. But some shadow of a comparison could be made out of the modern myths. I mean the sort of myths that men like Mr. Wells generally do believe in; such as the Myth of Magna Carta or the Myth of the Mayflower. Now many historians will maintain that Magna Carta was really nothing to speak of; that it was largely a piece of feudal privilege. But suppose one of the historians who holds this view began to argue with us excitedly about the fabulous nature of our ordinary fancy picture of Magna Carta. Suppose he produced maps and documents to prove that Magna Carta was not signed at Runnymede, but somewhere else; as I believe some scholars do maintain. Suppose he criticised the false heraldry and fancy-dress costumes of the ordinary sort of waxwork historical picture of the event. We should think he was rather unduly excited about a detail of mediaeval history. But with what a shock of astonishment should we realise at last that the man actually thought that all modern attempts at democracy must be abandoned, that all representative government must be wrong, that all Parliaments would have to be dissolved and all political rights destroyed, if once it were admitted that King John did not sign that special document in that little island in the Thames! What should we think of him, if he really thought we had no reasons for liking law or liberty, except the authenticity of that beloved royal signature? That is very much how I feel when I find that Mr. Wells really imagines that the luminous and profound philosophy of the Fall only means that Eden was somewhere in Mesopotamia. Now the only explanation of a great man like Mr. Wells having a small prejudice, like this about the snake, is that he does come of a religious tradition that regarded the text of Hebrew Scripture as the only authority and had forgotten all about the great mediaeval metaphysic and the discussion of fundamental ideas. The man who does that is provincial; and there is no harm in saying so even when he is one of the greatest men of letters and a glory to the English name.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

One Priest's Pastoral Care Of Homosexuals




A Profile in Courage: Fr John F Harvey, OSFS. This one hour long programme will be on EWTN (Sky 589 or online) Saturday 21st January at 5pm. Learn about God's call to Fr Harvey, the founding director of the Catholic ministry, Courage, to aid persons with same-sex attraction through his Priestley ministry. As the arguments continue about the 'Gay' Masses in Soho this programme will be well worth watching.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Same-sex Attraction & The Catholic Church




PORTRAITS OF COURAGE



Part 2 Cry of the Faithful



Psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons explores the genetic and environmental factors involved in same-sex attraction. Also, Courage members discuss what they want the Christian world to understand about them, and the transforming and unexpected joy they have found in chastity.



This 30 minute programme will be on EWTN (Sky 589 or online) Thursday 19th January at 5.30pm.

Week Of Prayer For Christian Unity



Prayer for Wales

O Almighty God,
Who in Thine infinite goodness
has sent Thine only-begotten Son into this world
to open once more the gates of heaven,
and to teach us how to know, love and serve Thee,
have mercy on Thy people Who dwell in Wales.
Grant to them the precious gift of faith,
and unite them in the one true Church
founded by Thy Divine Son; that,
acknowledging her authority and obeying her voice,
they may serve Thee, love Thee, and worship Thee
as Thou desirest in this world,
and obtain for themselves everlasting happiness
in the world to come.
Through the same Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

Our Lady, Help of Christians,
pray for Wales.

Saint David,
pray for Wales.

Saint Winefride,
pray for Wales.


Prayers for Scotland & England


There, that should do it!

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Catholic Church & Homosexuality




PORTRAITS OF COURAGE

Part 1 Into the Light

Father John Harvey shares how he became the founding director of Courage, and takes us through a Courage meeting where the members give a candid message to the Church and the youth. As well, members share the Five Goals of Courage.

This 30 minute programme will be on EWTN (Sky 589 or online) Wednesday 18th January at 5.30pm.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, The Optimist As A Suicide



THE OPTIMIST AS A SUICIDE (XXX)

FREETHINKERS are occasionally thoughtful, though never free. In the modern world of the West, at any rate, they seem always to be tied to the treadmill of a materialist and monist cosmos. The universal sceptic, in Asia or in Antiquity, has probably been a bolder thinker, though very probably a more unhappy man. But what we have to deal with as scepticism is not scepticism; but a fixed faith in monism. The freethinker is not free to question monism. He is forbidden, for instance, in the only intelligible modern sense, to believe in a miracle. He is forbidden, in exactly the same sense in which he would say that we are forbidden to believe in a heresy. Both are forbidden by first principles and not by force. The Rationalist Press Association will not actually kidnap, gag or strangle Sir Arthur Keith if he admits the evidence for a cure at Lourdes. Neither will the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster have me hanged, drawn and quartered if I announce that I am an agnostic tomorrow. But of both cases it is true to say that a man cannot root up his first principles without a terrible rending and revolutionising of his very self. As a matter of fact, we are the freer of the two; as there is scarcely any evidence, natural or preternatural, that cannot be accepted as fitting into our system somewhere; whereas the materialist cannot fit the most minute miracle into his system anywhere. But let us leave that on one side as a separate question; and agree, if only for the sake of argument, that both the Catholic and the materialist are limited only by their fundamental conviction about the cosmic system; in both thought is in that sense forbidden and in that sense free. Consequently, when I see in some newspaper symposium, like that on Spiritualism, a leading materialist like Mr. John M. Robertson discussing the evidence for spiritualism, I feel exactly as I imagine him to feel when he hears a bishop in a mitre or a Jesuit in a cassock discussing the evidence for materialism. I know that Mr. Robertson cannot accept the evidence without becoming somebody quite different from Mr. Robertson; which also is within the power of the grace of God. But I know quite well he is not a freethinker; except in the sense in which I am a freethinker. He has long ago come to a conclusion which controls all his other conclusions. He is not driven by scientific evidence to accept Materialism. He is forbidden by Materialism to accept scientific evidence.

But there is another way in which the freethinker is not only thoughtful, but useful. The man who rejects the Faith altogether is often very valuable as a critic of the man who rejects it piecemeal, or bit by bit, or by fits and starts. The man who picks out some part of Catholicism that happens to please him, or throws away some part that happens to puzzle him, does in fact produce, not only the queerest sort of result, but generally the very opposite result to what he intends. And his inconsistency can often be effectively exposed from the extreme negative as well as the extreme positive point of view. It has been said that when the half-gods go, the gods arrive; it might be said in amiable parody that when the no-goddites arrive, the half-goddites go; and I am not sure it is not a good riddance. Anyhow, even the atheist can illustrate how important it is to keep the Catholic system altogether, even if he rejects it altogether.

A curious and amusing instance comes from America; in connection with Mr. Clarence Darrow, the somewhat simple-minded sceptic of that land of simplicity. He seems to have been writing something about the impossibility of anybody having a soul; of which nothing need be said except that (as usual) it seems to be the sceptic who really thinks of the soul superstitiously, as a separate and secret animal with wings; who considers the soul quite apart from the self. But what interests me about him at the moment is this. One of his arguments against immortality is that people do not really believe in it. And one of his arguments for that is that if they did believe in certain happiness beyond the grave, they would all kill themselves. He says that nobody would endure the martyrdom of cancer, for instance, if he really believed (as he apparently assumes all Christians to believe) that in any case the mere fact of death would instantly introduce the soul to perfect felicity and the society of all its best friends. A Catholic will certainly know what answer he has to give. But Mr. Clarence Darrow does not really in the least know what question he has asked.

Now there we have the final flower and crown of all modern optimism and universalism and humanitarianism in religion. Sentimentalists talk about love till the world is sick of the most glorious of all human words; they assume that there can be nothing in the next world except the sort of Utopia of practical pleasure which they promise us (but do not give us) in this world. They declare that all will be forgiven, because there is nothing to forgive. They insist that "passing over" is only like going into the next room, they insist that it will not even be a waiting-room. They declare that it must immediately introduce us to a cushioned lounge with all conceivable comforts, without any reference to how we have got there. They are positive that there is no danger, no devil; even no death. All is hope, happiness and optimism. And, as the atheist very truly points out, the logical result of all that hope, happiness and optimism would be hundreds of people hanging from lamp-posts or thousands of people throwing themselves into wells or canals. We should find the rational result of the modern Religion of Joy and Love in one huge human stampede of suicide. Pessimism would have killed its thousands, but optimism its ten thousands.

Now, of course, as I say, a Catholic knows the answer; because he holds the complete philosophy, which keeps a man sane; and not some single fragment of it, whether sad or glad, which may easily drive him mad. A Catholic does not kill himself because he does not take it for granted that he will deserve heaven in any case, or that it will not matter at all whether he deserves it at all. He does not profess to know exactly what danger he would run; but he does know what loyalty he would violate and what command or condition he would disregard. He actually thinks that a man might be fitter for heaven because he endured like a man; and that a hero could be a martyr to cancer as St. Lawrence or St. Cecilia were martyrs to cauldrons or gridirons. The faith in a future life, the hope of a future happiness, the belief that God is Love and that loyalty is eternal life, these things do not produce lunacy and anarchy, IF they are taken along with the other Catholic doctrines about duty and vigilance and watchfulness against the powers of hell. They might produce lunacy and anarchy, if they were taken alone. And the Modernists, that is, the optimists and the sentimentalists, did want us to take them alone. Of course, the same would be true, if somebody took the other doctrines of duty and discipline alone. It would produce another dark age of Puritans rapidly blackening into Pessimists. Indeed, the extremes meet, when they are both ends clipped off what should be a complete thing. Our parable ends poetically with two gibbets side by side; one for the suicidal pessimist and the other for the suicidal optimist.

The point is that in this passage the American sceptic is answering the Modernist; but he is not answering the Catholic. The Catholic has an extremely simple and sensible reason for not cutting his throat in order to fly instantly into Paradise. But he might really raise a question for those who talk as if Paradise were invariably and instantly populated with people who had cut their throats. And this is only one example out of a long list of historical examples; in which those who tried to make the Faith more simple invariably made it less sane. The Moslems imagined that they were merely being sensible when they cut down the creed to a mere belief in one God; but in the world of practical psychology they really cut it down to one Fate. The actual effect on ordinary men was simply fatalism; like that of the Turk who will not take his wound to a hospital because he is resigned to Kismet or the will of Allah. The Puritans thought they were simplifying things by appealing to what they called the plain words of Scripture; but as a fact they were complicating things by bringing in half a hundred cranky sects and crazy suggestions. And the modern universalist and humanitarian thought they were simplifying things when they interpreted the great truth that God is Love, as meaning that there can be no war with the demons or no danger to the soul. But in fact they were inventing even darker riddles with even wilder answers; and Mr. Clarence Darrow has suggested one of them. He will be gratified to receive the thanks of all Catholics for doing so.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Mass Tonight For Good Counsel, 15 Today!



There will be an Old Rite Mass organised by the Latin Mass Society, on Friday 13th January at 6.30pm at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, London. This Mass is offered for the work of the Good Counsel Network. This is the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Good Counsel Network.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The 'Tablet' Slams Welsh & English Bishops



John Smeaton has kindly pointed out a vile attack by The Pill on the Pro-Life stand taken by our Bishops in the case of Jon Cruddas MP. Mrs Pepinster, the editor of said tract, said "The suspicion [within the Labour party] of Catholic MPs and their agenda has also not been helped by pro-life groups who were vociferous in criticising the placing of an intern within Jon Cruddas' office because the MP in their eyes had failed to speak out on abortion."

Mr Smeaton, explains, 'Mrs Pepinster is referring to a move by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to reverse a decision to provide Dr Cruddas with an intern, as part of its parliamentary internship scheme.

Mrs Pepinster takes no account of the truth about Dr Cruddas's record on abortion. Dr Cruddas has not merely "failed to speak out on abortion", and not merely "in [the] eyes" of pro-lifers - Dr Cruddas is on record defending legal abortion.'

Further proof, if any were needed, that I was right........to issue the permit to John. Do go off and read all of John's post as there was lots of other bits in it.

Fast To End Abortion




And He said to them; This kind (of demon) can go out by nothing but prayer and fasting. Gospel of Mark 9:29.



Since the 5th July 2008 The Good Counsel Network has organised monthly National days of prayer and fasting for life, the first was to prevent the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Although the bill was passed some of the more damaging anti-life amendments were not added to it, including an attack on pro-life counselling and the extension to Northern Ireland of the Abortion Act. There had also been 40 days of Prayer and Fasting in Northern Ireland to ensure that this law was not extended. This only confirmed what we already knew; it is clear from the work that we do at Good Counsel Network, advising women who are strongly set on abortion, that the struggle to end abortion is a spiritual struggle and not merely one of practical concerns or politics.



Thursday the 12th January is the next National Day of Prayer and Fasting for Life, it is the eve of the 15th anniversary of the founding of the Good Counsel Network. Please join us in fasting. You could fast from all food except bread and water for the day or fast from a particular food or luxury, e.g. chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes or tv. Fast from whatever you can given your state of health etc, but make sure that it is something that involves a sacrifice to yourself. We are asking people to say a Rosary (or an extra Rosary if you say it daily already). You could also offer an extra effort such as going to Mass, or an extra Mass, on the day, or going to Adoration.



And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least...God saw their efforts to renounce their evil ways. And God relented about the disaster which He had threatened to bring on them, and He did not bring it. Jonah 3:5,10.



For more information and a printable poster click here. Or if you have problems with this link go to http://www.goodcounselnetwork.com/ and find the Days of Prayer and Fasting page.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Training Under Way For This Year Annual GK Chesterton Pilgrimage




So we're off! Yes, I got off the tube two stops early on my way to work and walked for about 10 minutes! Then on the way home, I did that walk again and then did another 20 minutes from tube to home! Not wishing to overdo it I'll most likely rest up for a month or two before trying anything like this again!

At this rate I'll be in shape for this years annual GK Chesterton Pilgrimage in no time at all. "What do you mean it's on Thursday 14th June, The Vigil of The Feast of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus! Oh help! Taxi".

Yes, last year most Pilgrims went by coach (see report), but we did announce then (that was stupid), that in 2012 we would walk from Kensington, where GKC was born & Baptised to Beaconsfield where he died & is buried.

Do contact the Catholic GK Society to receive details of the Pilgrimage (including non-walking plans & Mass times) as we make them up. Print off some Chesterton Prayercards or copy it from below onto some gadget.

God Our Father, Thou didst fill the life of Thy servant Gilbert Keith Chesterton with a sense of wonder and joy, and gave him a faith which was the foundation of his ceaseless work, a charity towards all men, particularly his opponents, and a hope which sprang from his lifelong gratitude for the gift of human life. May his innocence and his laughter, his constancy in fighting for the Christian faith in a world losing belief, his lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his love for all men, especially for the poor, bring cheerfulness to those in despair, conviction and warmth to lukewarm believers and the knowledge of God to those without faith. We beg Thee to grant the favours we ask through his intercession, the end of abortion in this Country [and especially for……] so that his holiness may be recognized by all and the Church may proclaim him Blessed. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Catholicgkchestertonsociety.co.uk Goodcounselnetwork.com

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Rosary For Bishop Doyle Please




Before this year's Annual GK Chesterton Pilgrimage (see last years report), I hope to see an increase in the number of people praying for Bishop Peter John Haworth Doyle. Bishop Doyle is the Bishop of Northampton, the Diocese where GKC lived and died, and will thus have quite a say in opening, the now long overdue Cause for the Beatification of GK Chesterton.

By all means write to Bishop Doyle (Rt. Rev. Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton, Bishop's House, Marriott Street, Northampton, NN2 6AW, remember the pen is far mightier than the email!) asking His Lordship to open the Cause, but not before you have signed up to say the Rosary for him at least once a month. At the moment there are only three people saying three Rosaries for him each month, let us see an increase please! We also need to ask Chesterton to intercede for us so print off some praycards and say the prayer;

God Our Father, Thou didst fill the life of Thy servant Gilbert Keith Chesterton with a sense of wonder and joy, and gave him a faith which was the foundation of his ceaseless work, a charity towards all men, particularly his opponents, and a hope which sprang from his lifelong gratitude for the gift of human life. May his innocence and his laughter, his constancy in fighting for the Christian faith in a world losing belief, his lifelong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his love for all men, especially for the poor, bring cheerfulness to those in despair, conviction and warmth to lukewarm believers and the knowledge of God to those without faith. We beg Thee to grant the favours we ask through his intercession, the end of abortion in this Country [and especially for……] so that his holiness may be recognized by all and the Church may proclaim him Blessed. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Please Attend SPUC's Conference On Women's Rights

I saw the following on John Smeaton's blog and thought it of interest;

Each year an estimated 350,000 mothers die from pregnancy related causes. This is a tragedy that must come to an end. The 2015 deadline for achieving millennium development goal 5 (maternal health) is fast approaching, yet mothers are still dying. What is happening, and how can you and I help bring it to an end?

Join us on 20th March 2012 for an international day conference in London that will address the UK's policy on maternal health and mortality in the developing world. The scandal of the
UK exporting abortion around the world will be challenged at a day conference entitled "Abortion or Maternal Health: What should we be funding in developing countries?" This will take place on Tuesday 20 March 2012, at the Regent Hall, 275 Oxford Street, London W1C 2DJ, from 9.30am to 5pm.

Please encourage your friends and contacts, especially medics, students, clergy, lawyers, developing world charity promoters, teachers and advocates of women's rights to attend the conference.




The coalition government continues to promote abortion intensively in poorer countries of the world – on the false pretext of reducing maternal deaths. We cannot ignore how our country is working to export the culture of death around the world.

A detailed
briefing and presentation are available to prepare participants for the conference and future educational and lobbying efforts. The briefing includes suggestions for straightforward action to challenge the government.




Internationally renowned experts speaking on the day include lawyer Roger Kiska of the Alliance Defence Fund, consultant obstetrician Dr. Obielumani Ideh from Nigeria, and maternal health campaigner Fiorella Nash.




Our headline speaker is Professor Robert Walley. Dr. Walley is the founder and executive director of MaterCare International (MCI), and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists of England. He has visited Africa regularly since 1981, and for seven years he directed a maternal health project in Nigeria. MCI has worked in Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, East Timor, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Entrance to this important conference can be purchased online via our website shop or by filling in and returning a booking form. Tickets cost £55 or £35. Lunch can be added for £10.

Official flyer for the conference

Downloadable booking form

You can also use the conference's Facebook page to invite others to attend.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

GK's Weekly, The Thing, What We Think About

WHAT WE THINK ABOUT (XXIX)

I WAS looking the other day at a weekly paper of the sort that is supposed to provide popular culture; in this case rather especially what may be called popular science. In practice it largely provides what its supporters optimistically call Modern Thought and what we more commonly call Modernism. It is, however, a paper by no means unfair or exclusive of the opposite point of view; it has more than once permitted me to reply to these views; and in looking at the issue in question, my eye was arrested by my own name.

It occurred in an article on the religious doctrines of Mr. Arnold Bennett. Indeed the prominence in the press of this name in this connection is one of the standing mysteries of modern journalism. I have not only a great admiration for the artistic genius, but in many ways a strong liking for the human personality of Mr. Arnold Bennett. I like his liveliness and contempt for contempt. I like his humanity and merciful curiosity about every thing human. I like that essential absence of snobbishness that enables him to sympathise even with snobs. But talking about the religious beliefs of Mr. Arnold Bennett seems to me exactly like talking about the foxhunting adventures of Mr. Bernard Shaw or the favourite vintages of Mr. Pussyfoot Johnson or the celestial visions of Sir Arthur Keith or the monastic vows of Mr. Bertrand Russell. Mr. Arnold Bennett has never disguised, as it seems to me, the essential fact that he has not got any religious beliefs; as religious beliefs were understood in the English language as I learnt it. That he has a number of highly estimable moral sentiments and sympathies I do not for a moment doubt. But the matter of Mr. Arnold Bennett is, for the moment, a parenthesis. I mention it here merely because it was in the course of such an article that I found myself mentioned; and I confess I thought the reference a little odd. It will not surprise the reader to learn that the writer found me less Modernist than Mr. Arnold Bennett. My religious beliefs did not present so pure and virgin and blameless a blank, but were defaced with definite statements about various things. But the writer professed to find something dubious or mysterious about my attitude; and what mystifies me is his mystification. He delicately implied that there was more in me than met the eye; that I had that within, which passed all these Papistical shows, but that it was hopeless to vivisect me and discover the secret. He said: "Mr. Chesterton does not mean to enlighten us; for all we now he is Modernist enough in his own thoughts."

Now it would be thought a little annoying if an atheist were to say of some harmless Protestant Christian like General Booth; "For all we know, he is atheist enough in his own thoughts." We might even venture to enquire how the atheist could possibly form any notion of what General Booth thought, in such complete contradiction to everything he said. Or I myself, on the other hand, might seem less than graceful, if I were to suggest that Mr. Arnold Bennett must be concealing his conversion out of cowardice; and were to express it in the form: "Mr. Bennett will never tell us the truth about it; for all we know he is Papist enough in his own thoughts." I might even be cross-examined about how I had come to form these suspicions about the secret thoughts of Mr. Arnold Bennett; as to whether I had hidden under his bed and heard him muttering Latin prayers in his dreams, or sent a private detective to verify the existence of his hair-shirt and his concealed relics. It might be hinted that, until I could produce some such PRIMA FACIE case for my suspicions, it would be more polite to suppose that the opinions of Mr. Bennett were what he himself said they were. And if I were sensitive on such things, I might make a rather sharp request, that people who cannot possibly know anything about me except what I say, should for the sake of our general convenience believe what I say. On the subject of Modernism, at any rate, there has never been the least doubt or difficulty about what I say. For, as it happens, I had a strong intellectual contempt for Modernism, even before I really believed in Catholicism.

But I belong, as a biological product of evolution, to the order of the pachyderms. And I am not in the least moved by any annoyance in the matter; but only by a very strong mystification and curiosity about the real reason for this remarkable point of view. I know that the writer did not mean any harm; but I am much more interested in trying to understand what he did mean. And the truth is, I think, that there is hidden in this curious and cryptic phrase the secret of the whole modern controversy about Catholicism. What the man really meant was this: "Even poor old Chesterton must think; he can't have actually left off thinking altogether; there must be some form of cerebral function going forward to fill the empty hours of his misdirected and wasted life; and it is obvious that if a man begins to THINK, he can only think more or less in the direction of Modernism." The Modernists do really think that. That is the point. That is the joke.

Now what we have really got to hammer into the heads of all these people, somehow, is that a thinking man can think himself deeper and deeper into Catholicism, and not deeper and deeper into difficulties about Catholicism. We have got to make them see that conversion is the beginning of an active, fruitful, progressive and even adventurous life of the intellect. For THAT is the thing that they cannot at present bring themselves to believe. They honestly say to themselves: "What can he be thinking about, if he is not thinking about the Mistakes of Moses, as discovered by Mr. Miggles of Pudsey, or boldly defying all the terrors of the Inquisition which existed two hundred years ago in Spain?" We have got to explain somehow that the great mysteries like the Blessed Trinity or the Blessed Sacrament are the starting-points for trains of thought far more stimulating, subtle and even individual, compared with which all that sceptical scratching is as thin, shallow and dusty as a nasty piece of scandalmongering in a New England village. Thus, to accept the Logos as a truth is to be in the atmosphere of the absolute, not only with St. John the Evangelist, but with Plato and all the great mystics of the world. To accept the Logos as a "text" or an "interpolation" or a "development" or a dead word in a dead document, only used to give in rapid succession about six different dates to that document, is to be altogether on a lower plane of human life; to be squabbling and scratching for a merely negative success; even if it really were a success. To exalt the Mass is to enter into a magnificent world of metaphysical ideas, illuminating all the relations of matter and mind, of flesh and spirit, of the most impersonal abstractions as well as the most personal affections. To set out to belittle and minimise the Mass, by talking ephemeral back-chat about what it had in common with Mithras or the Mysteries, is to be in altogether a more petty and pedantic mood; not only lower than Catholicism but lower even than Mithraism.

As I have said before, it is very difficult to say how we can best set about these things. We and our critics have come to talk in two different languages; so that the very names by which we describe the things inside stand for totally different things in the absurd labels they have stuck upon the wall outside. Often if we said the great things we have to say, they would sound like the small things they accuse us of saying. A philosophical process can only begin at the right end; and they have got hold of everything by the wrong end. But I am myself disposed to think that we should begin by challenging one very common phrase or form of words; a thing that has become a catch-word and a caption; or in the ordinary popular phrase a headline. Because the journalists incessantly repeat it, and draw attention to it by repeating it, we may possibly draw attention by denying it.

When the journalist says for the thousandth time, "Living religion is not in dull and dusty dogmas, etc." we must stop him with a sort of shout and say, "There--you go wrong at the very start." If he would condescend to ask what the dogmas are, he would find out that it is precisely the dogmas that are living, that are inspiring, that are intellectually interesting. Zeal and charity and unction are admirable as flowers and fruit; but if you are really interested in the living principle you must be interested in the root or the seed. In other words, you must be intelligently interested in the statement with which the whole thing started; even if it is only to deny it. Even if the critic cannot come to agree with the Catholic, he can come to see that it is certain ideas about the Cosmos that make him a Catholic. He can see that being Cosmic in that way, and Catholic in that way, is what makes him different from other people; and what makes him, at the very least, a not uninteresting figure in human history. He will never get anywhere near it by sentimentalising against Catholic sentiment or pontificating against Catholic pontiffs. He must get hold of the ideas as ideas; and he will find that the most interesting of all the ideas are those which the newspapers dismiss as dogmas.

For instance; the doctrine of the Dual Nature of Christ is in the most genuine sense interesting; it ought to be interesting to anybody who can understand it, long before he can believe it. It has what can be called with all reverence a stereoscopic interest; the interest of having the two eyes in the head that create an object; of having the two angles in the triangle that determine the third. The old Monophysite sect declared that Christ had only the one divine nature. The new Monophysite sect declares that He had only the one human nature. But it is not a pun or a trick, but a truth, to say that the Monophysite is by nature monotonous. In either of his two forms, he is naturally on one note. The question of objective historical truth is another question, which I am not arguing here, though I am ready to argue it anywhere. I am talking about intellectual stimulation and the starting point of thought and imagination. And these, like all living things, breed from the conjunction of two, and not from one alone. Thus I read, with sympathy but a sympathy that hardly goes beyond sentiment, the studies of the modern Monophysites in the life of the limited and merely mortal Jesus of Nazareth. I respect their respect; I admire their admiration; I know that all they say about human greatness or religious genius is true as far as it goes. But it goes along one line; and cannot convince like the things that can converge. And then, after reading such a tribute to an ethical teacher in the manner of the Essenes, perhaps I turn another page of the same or some similar book; and come upon some phrase used about a real though a pagan religion; perhaps some supposed parallel of what is called a Pagan Christ. I find it said, if only of Atys or Adonis, "There was a conception that the god sacrificed himself to himself." The man who can read those words without a thrill is dead.

The thrill is deeper for us, of course, because it is concerned with a fact and not a fancy. In that sense we do not admit that there is any such parallel with the legends of the ancient pagans as is implied in the books of the modern pagans. And indeed we are surely entitled to call it mere common sense to say that there can be no complete parallel between what was admittedly a myth or mystery and what was admittedly a man. But the point here is that the truth hidden even in myths and mysteries is altogether lost if we are confined to the consideration of a man. In this sense there is an ironic and unconscious truth in the words of the modern pagan, who sang that "the heathen outface and outlive us," and that "our lives and our longings are twain." It is true of the Modernists, but it is not true of us, who find simultaneously the realisation of a longing and the record of a life. It is perfectly true that there were in many pagan myths the faint foreshadowing of the Christian mysteries; though even in saying so we admit that the foreshadowings were shadows. But when all imaginative kinship has been explored or allowed for, it is not true that mythology ever rose to the heights of theology. It is not true that a thought so bold or so subtle as this one ever crossed the mind that created the centaurs and the fauns. In the wildest and most gigantic of the primitive epic fancies, there is no conception so colossal as the being who is both Zeus and Prometheus.

But I only advert to it here, not as arguing its truth against those who do not believe it, but only as insisting on its intense and intellectual interest for those who do believe it. I only wish to explain to those who are worried in this way, that a mind filled with the true conception of this Duality has plenty to think about along those lines and has no need to dig up dead gods to discredit the Everlasting Man. There is no necessity for me to be Modernist in my own thoughts, or Monophysite in my own thoughts; because I think these views much duller and more trivial than my own. In the beautiful words of the love-song in THE WALLET OF KAI LUNG, one of the few truly psychological love-songs of the world: "This insignificant and universally despised person would unhesitatingly prefer his thoughts to theirs."

Any number of other examples could of course be given. This person (if I may use once more the graceful Chinese locution) would very soon exhaust the excitement of discovering that Mary and Maia both begin with an M, or that the Mother of Christ and the Mother of Cupid were both represented as women. But I know that I shall never exhaust the profundity of that unfathomable paradox which is defined so defiantly in the very title of the Mother of God. I know that there are not only far deeper, but far fresher and freer developments of thought and imagination, in that riddle of the perfectly human having once had a natural authority over the supernaturally divine, than in any sort of iconoclastic identification which assimilates all the sacred images by flattening all their faces. By the time that Christ is really made the same as Osiris, there can be very little left of either of them; but Christ, as conceived by the Catholic Church, is himself a complex and a combination, not of two unreal things, but of two real ones. In the same way an Ashtaroth exactly like one of Raphael's Madonnas, or vice versa, would seem a somewhat featureless vision in any case; whereas there is something that is, in the most intellectual sense, unique about the conception of the THEOTOKOS. In short, in all this mere unification of traditions, true or false, there is something that may be quite simply described as dull. But the dogmas are not dull. Even what are called the fine doctrinal distinctions are not dull. They are like the finest operations of surgery; separating nerve from nerve, but giving life. It is easy enough to flatten out everything for miles round with dynamite, if our only object is to give death. But just as the physiologist is dealing with living tissues, so the theologian is dealing with living ideas; and if he draws a line between them it is naturally a very fine line. It is the custom, though by this time; already a rather stale custom, to complain that the Greeks or Italians who disputed about the Trinity or the Sacrament were splitting hairs. I do not know that even splitting hairs is any drearier than bleaching hairs, in the vain attempt to match the golden hair of Freya and the black hair of Cotytto. The subdivision of a hair does at least tell us something of its structure; whereas its mere discoloration tells us nothing at all. Theology does introduce us to the structure of ideas; whereas theosophical syncretism merely washes all the colours out of the coloured fairy-tales of the world. But my only purpose in this place is to reassure the kind gentleman who was troubled about the secret malady of modernity that must be eating away my otherwise empty mind. I hasten earnestly to explain that I am quite well, thank you; and that I have plenty of things to think about without falling back on a Baconian madness of pagan parallels, or establishing the connection between the tale of the bull killed by Mithras and the tune the old cow died of.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Pope Benedict XVI, On The Epiphany, On Television



From St Peter's Basilica, Rome, Mass offered by Pope Benedict XVI on the Feast of The Epiphany (6th January) on EWTN online or Sky 589. It will be live at 9am, with an encore at 6pm and will last 2 hours.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Where Is James Mawdsley Now?

James Mawdsley was quite famous back in the 1990's for his attempts to help bring democracy to Burma. Whatever may you think of democracy or his efforts, you must admire this young man, as he did not just go to Burma, set up his tent in a Buddhist temple and go home. He publicly gave out pro-democracy leaflets, went to prison twice, was tortured, kept in solitary and who knows what else. I even heard him give talk in Walsingham, at a Youth 2000 Retreat, a few years ago. (Come on Rita, hurry up and finish his book, so I can borrow it). "But where is he now?", beats me, but here is a photo of him at Mid-night Mass with the FSSP in Reading.

For more photos and details see here.
Deerstalker tip to Dr Shaw

Monday, 2 January 2012

Permit To Readest The Pill




I hereby givest unto John Smeaton Knight-errant, one Lawful permit to readest that evil publication which callest itself 'The Tablet'. This diabolical tract, known to most as The Pill, can be a danger to one's Soul. But as with all written attacks upon our Holy Mother the Church, it must needs be monitored. Having read our Knight-errant's letter to the rag (on his blog, as I do not read it), it is clear that under the supervision of his Spiritual Director, John is able to do good in defending The Church from this organ of dissent.