Thursday, 30 October 2008

one of those memes

1. Where is your cell phone? Insignificant.
2. Where is your significant other? Significant.
3. Your hair color? Brunette.
4. Your mother? Alive.
5. Your father? Dead.
6. Your favorite thing? Mass.
7. Your dream last night? Surreal.
8. Your dream/goal? Heaven.
9. The room you’re in? Lounge.
10. Your hobby? Singing.
11. Your fear? Publicity.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here.
13. Where were you last night? Home.
14. What you’re not? Humble.
15. One of your wish-list items? Humility.
16. Where you grew up? Europe.
17. The last thing you did? Blogged.
18. What are you wearing? Boots.
19. Your TV? Plasma.
20. Your pet? Chihuahuas.
21. Your computer? Fast.
22. Your mood? Philosophical.
23. Missing someone? Jesus.
24. Your car? What?
25. Something you’re not wearing? Anorak.
26. Favourite store? Waitrose.
27. Your summer? Indian.
28. Love someone? Yes.
29. Your favourite colour? Aquamarine.
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today.
31. Last time you cried? Sunday.

Tagging Joe Versus The Volcano...

The rules are to answer the questions with one word only.

Thanks to Maggie Clitheroe for the meme.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

widows and Gandhi

Parish Film Night ...


Wednesday 12th November
7:30 p.m.
same place

Sign up on the list at the church entrance

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Pray for England

[Photography by Lawrence OP]

HFE Bill update

In our society, the vulnerable are being sacrificed for the sake of the strong.

~ Dr. Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, and Director of the Care Not Killing Alliance.

Anything could happen in the HFE Bill scenario ... The most important thing to do now is pray.

~ Countess Josephine Quintavalle, co-founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE)

This [HFE] Bill needs to be totally redrafted within an ethical framework.

~ Dr Louise Brown, Public Policy Consultant for Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON)

The name of the [HFE] Bill does not reflect the fact that it is about family, not embryology.

~ Rebecca Bensted, MA Law (Cam), advisor to the Family Law Review now undertaken by the Centre for Social Justice and committee member of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship

The House reconvenes on October 6th. It is likely the Third Reading and Report Stage of the HFE Bill will be scheduled for debate soon after - any time from October 13th onwards. This is now a crucial time to influence your MP.

It is overly cynical and naive to think that MPs are unconcerned about losing/gaining constituents now. The Crewe, Nantwich and Glasgow East By-Election defeats were devastating for Labour. The forthcoming Glenrothes by-election in Scotland, expected late October/early November, will be crucial to Gordon Brown's credibility. Combined with a possible leadership contest with David Miliband and/or James Purnell, MPs cannot afford to further alienate public opinion.

23 amendments have been laid for the Third Reading/Report Stage of the HFE Bill to date. Some are pro-life and pro-family; many are not. More amendments could be laid at the last minute, as late as on the day of the reading. It is unlikely all will be 'moved' for debate and voting - there are too many amendments and not enough time. It is up to the Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, whether they are moved. Therefore, it is important to focus on the most contentious issues of the Bill and contact your MP now.

What You Can Do:

[Photography by Catherine]

Monday, 22 September 2008

let's meet up

Blognic tomorrow in London: Tuesday 23rd September, 6-8 pm, with Fr. Z:

Details here

Providentially coinciding with the HFE Bill Conference 10am -4pm

Hope to see you there.

Friday, 19 September 2008

caged birds can sing

Parish movie night again:

THE CHORUS (Les Choristes)

Wednesday 1st October 2008
Same place; same time 7:30 p.m.

Sign up on the list at the church entrance

A must-see film.

Next film night here.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Who Would You Be In A.D. 1400?

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test ...

The Prioress
You scored 13% Cardinal, 69% Monk, 53% Lady, and 41% Knight!

You are a moral person and are also highly intellectual. You like your solitude but are also kind and helpful to those around you. Guided by a belief in the goodness of mankind you will likely be christened a saint after your life is over.
You scored high as both the Lady and the Monk. You can try again to get a more precise description of either the Monk or the lady, or you can be happy that you're an individual.

Take the test

Thanks Aussie Coffee Shop

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Madonna Lactans

Galaktotrofousa (Madonna Lactans)
Monastery of St Heracles
Troodos mountains, Cyprus
Photography by jandudas, 2008

Monday, 8 September 2008

Maria Bambina

Hail, Infant Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou forever, and blessed are thy holy parents Joachim and Anne, of whom thou wast miraculously born. Mother of God, intercede for us.

We fly to thy patronage, holy and amiable Child Mary, despise not our prayers in our necessities, but deliver us from all dangers, glorious and blessed Virgin.

Pray for us, holy Child Mary.

That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O almighty and merciful God, Who through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, didst prepare the body and soul of the Immaculate Infant Mary that she might be the worthy Mother of Thy Son, and didst preserve her from all stain, grant that we who venerate with all our hearts her most holy childhood, may be freed, through her merits and intercession, from all uncleanness of mind and body, and be able to imitate her perfect humility, obedience and charity. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

find out more

One-Day Conference -

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Bill: Understanding the Latest Developments; How We Can Combat Them

Tuesday 23rd September 2008

jail for advising against abortion

Pregnancy advice centres, nurses, doctors and midwives in the UK could face prosecution and a two-year prison sentence if they convince a woman to forgo an abortion, under proposed amendments to the HFE Bill.

Tabled by John Bercow, MP for Buckingham (Conservative), the amendment, if passed, will make it a criminal offence for a crisis pregnancy centre to advertise that it provides abortion-related services if it does not recommend having an abortion.

Other amendments to the Bill proposed by Dr Evan Harris, Lib Dem MP for Oxford & Abingdon, include the abolition of the right to conscientious objection by doctors and pharmacists wishing to refuse to prescribe or dispense contraception, including the morning after pill.

The good news is some MPs are putting forward pro-life amendments as well. See here.

At this crucial stage, write to your MP urging him or her to vote against the Bercow and Harris proposals and in favour of the pro-life amendments.

The HFE Bill Report Stage and Third Reading are scheduled for October.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

call for justice

Senator Joe Biden has called for the full withdrawal of Turkish troops from Northern Cyprus, the Kathimerini reports.

Barack Obama's running mate said the continued Turkish occupation of the island was an "anomaly".

The bold statement is bound to please Greek-American and Cypriot-American voters, numbering 1.2 million in a 2001 census, and throw a cat amongst the pigeons in the murky waters of Turkish-NATO relations.

While John McCain fobbed off a reporter in June as to why he did not sign a letter, along with 73 other senators (including Obama), urging President Bush to publicly support the religious freedom of minority Greeks living in Constantinople, the Democrats have stuck their necks out.

Obama's stance on abortion is problematic for Catholics, but in the Greek Orthodox-Islamic scenario, who is closer to Rome?

This week in Rome, the Holy Father received a programme from the Community of Sant'Egidio organised in conjunction with the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostom II, to hold an event titled "The Civilisation of Peace: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue" in Cyprus this November. The community holds the event annually to keep alive the spirit of the World Day of Prayer called by Pope John Paul II. Last year's event in Naples was attended by Benedict XVI.

[Image of Cypriot prisoner of war: fortunecity]
[Map of Cyprus: Commonwealth Secretariat]

Thursday, 4 September 2008

it's that dawkins thing again

Meme from Aussie Coffee Shop:

"Where were you and what were you doing at...?"

1. JFK's Assassination 22/11/1963
Floating around the universe, unborn. Hmm, this raises ontological questions...
2. England vs Germany World Cup Semi-Final 4/7/1990
Northern Ireland: worrying about my university graduation ceremony the next day; having supper at a restaurant with my friends and our respective parents. What's the World Cup?
3. Margaret Thatcher's Resignation 22/11/1990
Brighton, East Sussex: working and living in a boarding school for well brought up young ladies. Caught the late-night news and thought: "Good."
4. Princess Diana's Death 31/8/1997
Tokyo, Japan: came home from work and stared at the TV images trying to decipher the Japanese, then called to my husband, who was cooking, "I think Diana's dead." "No way!" he said, and rushed out. We sat there for ages, stunned, and talked conspiracy theories.
5. Attack on Twin Towers 9/11/2001
Larnaca, Cyprus: on holiday. When I turned on the TV I thought it was a low-budget movie at first. But the footage was on a loop and there was no commentary, just an eerie soundless scene while the news station waited for more information. Time stood still. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew the world would be different after that.
6. Election of Cardinal Ratzinger to the Papacy 19/4/2005
Brighton, East Sussex: at home, preparing supper for a guest, TV on. When the announcement came, I made the sign of the cross and said: "Thanks be to God". Then the bells of our parish rang wildly like wedding bells. All that week the flag of St. Peter hung outside our church. Mood: buoyant.

I'm tagging Elena Maria Vidal - Tea at Trianon, Maggie Clitheroe - Don't Know What I'm Doing, The Crescat, Bara Brith and Epiphany of Faith.


Wednesday, 3 September 2008

a simple natural phenomenon

"Keep in mind the theory of natural formation according to which there are no superficial impressions", says Fr. Gianfranco Berbenni, titular professor of Science and Theology in the Face of the Holy Shroud at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University Master's degree programme in Science and Faith ~ Zenit reports.

The Holy Father announced three months ago that the Holy Shroud will be put on solemn exposition in the spring of 2010 to foster "a more attentive contemplation of the Passion of Christ".

Time to book a flight to Italy?

we've come a long way...

Irrefutable evidence to counter Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

... since victoriana

Brighton Beach has, among other joys and woes, several second-hand book stalls where I picked up this book last week for £2.50. Apart from 'really useful' tips like one should never use a knife on asparagus, and when accompanying ladies who express a wish for refreshment, it is not necessary to select a very expensive restaurant or confectioner's (?), Mrs. Humphrey also advises: "The small minority are those who regard church services in their true light as lifting the thoughts above earthly things and yet by no means unfitting them for earth. Where, for instance, could a better law of good manners be found than in the Book of Books? A glance at the end of the fourth chapter of Ephesians will show a code of conduct that, if followed, would make a man a perfect member of society."

Mulier Fortis's lunch date might want to read it and take a few tips.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

heart of Teresa

St. Teresa of Avila
Convent of Santa Teresa, Avila de los Caballeros, Spain
Photograph by Hakan Svensson, 2004

Friday, 22 August 2008


Mac has kindly nominated me for the Blogging Friends Forever (BFF) Award in the Recently New Category.

I'm rather chuffed. The last time I won something was ABBA's Super Trouper album in a newspaper competition (I was 10). instructed by Mac, I nominate, in alphabetical order:
Adrienne's Catholic Corner, All The Little Epsilons, Don't Know What I'm Doing, Ecce Mater Tua, and The Roving Medievalist.

The Blogging Friends Forever Rules are:1. Only five people allowed.2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.3. One has to be someone new, or recently new to your blog, or live in another part of the world.4. You must link back to whoever gave you the 'Blogging Friends Forever' award.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

parish party

Parish BBQ
Sunday 7th September 2008
7:30 p.m. at the Community Centre

£6 a head.
All welcome.

Errandum: It starts at 6pm.

Babette's Feast

Another parish movie night next week. The last one involved spirited discussions over whether Mel Gibson intended a US world domination allegory, and how water was a recurring image as a purifying force. I love our parish.

This time: BABETTE'S FEAST. Next Wed 27/8/08 7:30 p.m. same place. Sign up in the church.

Based on a short story by the Dane Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) of Out of Africa fame, whose life is a book in itself. Her father had lived among the Chippewa tribe in 19th century Wisconsin and sired a daughter before returning to Denmark. When Karen was 9, he hanged himself after being diagnosed with syphilis. The tragic irony is Blixen contracted syphilis from her philandering husband, the coffee plantation farmer Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, and was to suffer with symptoms all her life, and with anorexia nervosa. After her divorce, her well-documented love affair with The Honourable Denys Finch Hatton, brother of the 14th Earl of Nottingham and Winchelsea, ended abruptly when he died in a plane crash. Blixen returned to Denmark penniless and began writing only at 46, in English. She was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature and highly respected by Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Arthur Miller and e.e. cummings.

In 1992, Fr. Angelo D'Agostino SJ, MD, founded The Nyumbani Orphanage in the town of Karen, near Nairobi, Kenya - the location made famous by Blixen. The orphanage houses HIV+ children. Many of its volunteers come from Denmark, perhaps Blixen fans following her trail.

[Image: Nordiskfilm]

Next parish film night is here

i like my lamb pink

Introducing Mint Sauce, my pet lamb in blogland. He was adopted yesterday from the (alas!) non-Catholic adoption agency Bunny Hero Labs. This photo shows the newborn Mint Sauce. He is now frolicking in his pasture in the sidebar. He has a voracious appetite and needs constant feeding. By clicking on 'More', he may be hand-fed. Will Mint Sauce grow? How long before he gets the chop?

Jeffrey's cat, Athelstan, over on The Roving Medievalist, is the least dextrous kitten I have ever seen. Try playing ball with him. Almost as maddening as the sound of Mint Sauce chomping.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

God knows

A friend of mine has foisted this book on me, perhaps thinking I could do with some theodicean instruction, but more likely to have something shared to talk about.

I'm a bit of a snob about paperback bestsellers, and highly suspicious of self-marketing 'prophets': read me! I'm an authoritative source of knowledge! (by the way, thanks for the cheque), but that's not to discount the entire field of publishing, research and writing. After all, if you have something to say, say it. Doesn't mean you're not talking cobblers.

I like not knowing everything. It gives me space to learn.

Jealousy of the Catholic Church

The latest Carmelite martyr: a priest was tortured and killed on his way to celebrate Sunday Mass in Andhra Pradesh, India, Religious Intelligence reports.

Carmelite of Mary Immaculate Fr. Thomas Pandippallyil had celebrated Mass on Saturday night for the Sisters of the Chanda Mission. His body was found by the sisters the next day, his legs and hands crushed and his eyes pierced.

No group has claimed responsibility for the murder, although Hindu extremists are suspected.

"He did not die in vain because his body and his blood enrich the Church in India," Archbishop Joji of Hyderabad said. [Zenit]

We also have the hope of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Polish priest martyred at Auschwitz. In his words:

Courage, my sons, Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes.

[image: Religious Intelligence]

Saturday, 16 August 2008


The Good Shepherd
c. 320-40 A.D.
ceiling fresco
Coemeterium Maius, near the Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome

[Images around Christ, clockwise from the dexter ~ Adam & Eve; Moses striking the rock; Jonah under the gourds; a woman at prayer.]

Elvis lives

It's the 31st anniversary of his death today

Nice to know Fr. Nicholas Schofield likes Elvis too.
I like the story that at the moment of his death, Elvis might have been reading about the Shroud of Turin in Frank O. Adams' A Scientific Search for the Face of Jesus, now held at the Catholic National Library at St. Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, Hampshire.

Friday, 15 August 2008

where do you get your summer cotton from?

According to an unpublished paper by University of Sussex economists, Sri Lanka could soon see a 4% drop in its clothing exports to Europe and an overall 2% drop in its GDP if it loses the trade concession known as 'GSP Plus', The Economist reports. In English, that means the poor will get poorer.

Awarded in 2005 to help rebuild the country after the devastating 2004 Tsunami, the GSP Plus is a preferential tariff agreement between Sri Lankan exporters and the EU. But strict EU rules on human rights, environmental and labour standards mean that the agreement is unlikely to be renewed after it expires this year, and Sri Lanka will suffer even more as a result.

With inflation already around 30% p.a., Sri Lanka cannot afford to re-house all its refugees (both war and Tsunami survivors) and fight a civil war at the same time, yet the fighting with the Tamil Tigers [LTTE] continues. Up to 75,000 people have fled their homes in northern Sri Lanka in the last two and a half months, according to a UN report [BBC News].

Where will all these people live? Europe cannot complain about migrating refugees and asylum seekers while we are effectively tying their hands against their own development.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan government has thrown out journalists from the war-torn areas, and is clamping down on visas for international NGO workers, accusing organisations like Save the Children of funding the Tamil Tigers. [Tamil Eelam News Services]

So if humanitarian aid organisations are not allowed to help, and our governments won't, how will all those homeless families, including the elderly, widowed women and orphaned children survive?

The Church can help.

[Image: 'Batticaloa' March 2,2005 by e.r.g.o]

one good reason to visit Barcelona...

A friend of mine has just come back from a break in Barcelona and given me a precious medal of Our Lady of Montserrat (La Moreneta or Black Madonna).

Good timing. I need a medal.

Pic of Santa Cova or The Holy Grotto by epteamadv where the miraculous statue was found.

Bach's Ave Maria

The Assumption

Assumption of the Virgin (detail)
Marble and stucco
Pilgrimage-church, Rohr, Bavaria

The Assumption of the Virgin
Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Assumption of the Virgin
Duomo, Parma

Our Lady of the Assumption with Sts Miniato and Julian
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

The Assumption of the Virgin
ca. 1340
Tempera on panel
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 - Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mozart's Requiem: Lacrimosa

Lacrimosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce Deus, pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem! Amen!

That day of tears and mourning, when from the ashes shall arise all humanity to be judged. Spare us by your mercy, Lord, gentle Lord Jesus, grant them eternal rest. Amen.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Thank You

THANK YOU to everyone who gave their prayers, condolences, good wishes and kind thoughts for the repose of the soul of my father, interred today at Hove. Rest in peace.

I am particularly grateful to my priest and my fellow parishioners.

Santa Hilaria, ora pro nobis. Amen.
παντα ισχυω εν τω ενδυναμουντι με χριστω
Philippians 4:13

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


We seem to give them back to you, O God, who gave them to us.
Yet as you did not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them by their return.
Not as the world gives, do you give, O lover of souls.
What you give you do not take away, for what is yours is ours also if we are yours.
And life is eternal and love immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.
Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further;
cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly;
draw us closer to yourself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with you.
And while you prepare a place for us,
prepare us also for that happy place,
that where you are we may be also for evermore.

~ Bede Jarrett, OP

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Thank God for perfumers!

A friend gave me a bottle of Floret for my birthday last week. I had never smelled it before and can best describe the smell as exquisite. It has top notes of sweet pea with underlying rose, tuberose and apricot, and a mysterious finish.

It was created, I now discover, to remind the perfumer of her childhood and the smell of her grandmother's garden...

It's my personal spikenard, received with thanks.

Proust, madeleines and memories

And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the interval, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks' windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the forms of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

from Marcel Proust, A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (Remembrance of Things Past) Vol 1: Swann's Way, translated from the French by C.K. Scott Moncrieff (1922)

The Magdalene

Monday, 21 July 2008

Catholicism is English too

See Ed West's What Have ex-Anglicans Done For Us? [The Catholic Herald 18/7/08] for insight on prominent converts and their outstanding contribution to the Church in Britain.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

one Greek island, love, marriage, Leonard Cohen and the rest...

Milton a Puritan?

The Adam and Eve Triptych
c. 1500
Text on Love from St. Paul, Corinthians I Chapter 13
Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise, of all things common else!
~ 'The First Love of Adam and Eve'
from Paradise Lost, John Milton (1608-1674)

Our Lady of the Angels

some chuckly things

the new Marianne?

The handmade rosary on Ingrid Betancourt's right hand is prominent. The joy on the family's faces clear.

Betancourt's liberation from the Columbian jungle, after being held hostage by FARC insurgents for 6 years, is a strategic PR coup for President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While Sarkozy valiantly struggles to come back from being voted the most unpopular first-term president of France in 52 years, and is casting himself as peacemaker in the Israeli-Syrian theatre, the French-Columbian Betancourt could be a potent symbol for a new France: liberte et raison with a difference. This Marianne also has la foi.

Yet where is Mr. Betancourt a.k.a. Juan Carlos Lecompte in this family-faith scenario? The head of the family has been lopped off. Lecompte, who worked hard for his wife's release during her ordeal, told the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo of his fears that their marriage might be over. Betancourt went to France without him. [Associated Press]

It is unsurprising yet somewhat ironic that Betancourt was awarded - and accepted - the Knighthood of the Legion of Honour on Bastille Day, France's highest Order of Merit instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte...

[Image courtesy of the Huffington Post]