Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Footsie Index...

Oh dear...

I was often given the extremely laborious task of hunting down volunteers for the Mandatum. It was hard work: in my experience the majority of men who attended the Maundy Thursday Mass just wanted to pray quietly, and being asked to get up in front of the entire congregation and take off a shoe was anathema. I soon discovered that married men and those accompanied by their mothers made the easiest targets; the women were often eager for their menfolk to participate, and would help to persuade their reluctant spouses and sons to do their duty.

Given this reluctance, I suspect that we shall see an interesting phenomenon. Rather as the proportion of boys serving at Mass decreased as girls were permitted, I predict that, in parishes where the new rubrics are observed, we shall see the gradual (or not so gradual) dominance of female volunteers. After all, we have (on the whole) prettier, more dainty feet than men... and generally less foot odour. I foresee reports in L'Osservatore Romano commenting on the latest fashion in shades of nail varnish... The proportion of women to men can be called the Footsie Index...

I never felt excluded because I couldn't have my feet washed on Maundy Thursday. The link with Jesus, the Apostles and the life of service and self-sacrifice to which priests are called seemed perfectly clear. Opening the Mandatum to women merely breaks that symbolism, and so impoverishes and cheapens the action, reducing it to a play-acting stunt.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Miracles Are Where You Look For Them...

Some time in November, I suddenly became aware that I'd lost the ring I'd bought to commemorate my dedication to God as a single woman living and working in the world. I say "suddenly" - it was quite a shock to realise that my ring finger was completely bare.

At first I assumed it had slipped off in the night when I'd had my hand under my pillow. I was sure that I'd find it again when I got home. It wasn't there.

I looked in all the places I could think of. I even thought that the cats might have found it, and after a game of chase, have left it under a cupboard. I scoured the flat, without any joy.

I checked my jacket pockets, my handbag, and my coat pockets. I prayed to St. Anthony. Nothing. I even checked my gloves in case, in my haste to take them off, the ring had remained trapped in the material.

By the end of December, I gave the ring up for lost. I assumed that I had pulled it free when retrieving my ticket on the train, and that it had dropped to the floor unnoticed.

On Saturday I decided to buy a replacement. The original had been an inexpensive gold band from Argos, and, as I was in Victoria, I popped in to the Argos branch there. Alas, they didn't have the ring in my size, and I had to abandon the idea.

This afternoon I was in a bit of a hurry to leave school at the end of the day. Making a grab for my coat, I dropped it. Imagine my surprise when I saw my ring roll out from under it...

A little miracle to cheer up my day...

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Catching Up With Myself...

20151208_202221On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception we were blessed to have a Solemn High Mass at St. Austin & St. Gregory's. Fr. Marcus Holden came over from Ramsgate to be deacon and Fr. Bernard McNally was subdeacon.

I wasn't needed to sing, as we were even more blessed to have some members of the wonderful Victoria Consort to provide the music. We had Palestrina's Missa Brevis among other things - the first time I've heard it, and it was gorgeous.

20151208_194042Not having to shuffle bits of paper and work out what note to start on meant that I was free to let the music lift my heart and mind to God, and watch as the liturgy unfolded in front of me - the ritual movements and gestures, so carefully choreographed over centuries, are supremely satisfying. I have heard "bells and smells" referred to in disparaging tones by those who dislike the resurgence of the traditional Latin Mass, but there is a certain amount of truth in the phrase. Our faith is an incarnational one - we are not spirits trapped in a physical body, we are created body and soul, together from the first moment of conception. Furthermore, at the end of time, body and soul will be reunited. Death, that separation of body and soul, is so awful to us because it was not meant to happen... it happens because of Original Sin. The Mass addresses both the physical and spiritual aspects of our nature, and this is why beautiful music and vestments, and careful observation of the rubrics are so very integral to the worthy celebration of the Mass.


I took photos to try and capture some of this beauty and dignity, to share with people unable to attend a traditional Latin Mass for themselves. I haven't had much opportunity to work out the best camera angles at St. Austin & St. Gregory, but I don't think the results are too bad. You can see more over on my Flickr page.

Friday, 1 January 2016

A Good Start...

2016 got off to a flying start - Mass at St. Austin & St. Gregory's, Margate, where we chanted the Veni Creator Spiritus with the intention of obtaining the plenary indulgence attached, and the wonderful news that His Hermeneuticalness was recovering well from his heart operation. In fact, the number of tweets he was posting suggested that he was experiencing a mild state of euphoria due to the drugs he's on.

Today's feast is one of the few where I experience a "conflict" between the old calendar and the new. According to the usus antiquior, today ought to be the Octave Day of Christmas and the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord. In the new calendar it is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Normally I'd be content to stick with the old, but I do like the idea of starting the year off under Our Lady's mantle, as it were.

Once again, wishing you all a happy and blessed New Year...

Happy New Year...

I hadn't intended to be up and about for the witching hour as I'm trying to get back into regular sleeping patterns for the new term, which starts on Monday. However, since I found myself wide awake, I decided to watch the firework display over Margate's harbour arm from my front room. It was glorious, but rain on my windows marred the photo just a tad.

2015 has been my worst year for blogging output since I started back in May 2006; looking at my sidebar list of posts revealed that I published only 28 posts. That averages out at one every two weeks. And I've realised that I have actually missed blogging. Writing helped me to marshal my arguments and think things through. So one of my New Year's resolutions is to write more for the blog.

Of course, my track record for keeping New Year's resolutions isn't particularly good...

Friday, 4 December 2015

A Post About My Hooligans...

I've had quite a hectic week. Yesterday I noticed a slightly odd smell when I went to bed. I assumed that one of the cats had been sick under the bed, but was way too tired to do anything about it. This evening I noticed the smell again - it was a bit stronger, and I decided that, no matter how tired I was, I really did have to investigate...

Moving the bed revealed that one of my little hooligans had very thoughtfully brought me a present. I suspect Miaowrini, as she tends to go out for longer periods than Furretti, but both cats are doing their best to look totally innocent.

Just when I thought I'd have to get rid of the Kitty Kill Count in the sidebar...

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Advent Preparations...

20151128_141859 I do love my parish in Margate - there is just so much happening! Two weeks ago we had the Michaelmas Fair; this afternoon saw the annual wreath-making workshop for Advent.

I'm not the most practical of people, especially when it comes to greenery - I prefer experiments which go bang and things which burn brightly, hence my career as a Science teacher. But I do love to watch people being creative, and we had that at St. Austin & St. Gregory in bucketloads! It was great fun to watch people (of all ages) get stuck in...


And some of the younger participants had even dressed up for the occasion...


(...well, ok, maybe they were just dressed like that anyway!)

Oasis foam rings were provided for everyone who wanted to have a go at making their own wreath, along with candles, candle-holders and greenery. Lots of greenery...


Pretty baubles, gilded pine cones and other decorations could also be added. And for the dexterously-challenged, such as myself, extra wreaths were made up by the talented parish team of "flower girls" for sale after the blessing of wreaths on Sunday morning.

Kathy (in the purple jacket) told me that it was all much easier than it looked, and explained how she had been roped in to flower arranging in the parish. It sounded as if she was trying to encourage my own creative talents. Knowing that my wreath-making abilities are minimal, and being frankly far more interested in sitting around drinking tea, eating mince pies, chatting and taking photos, I had come prepared, and handed over some hard cash for one of the extra wreaths. Kay asked me if I minded baubles on my wreath. I explained that I positively welcomed baubles, but that, as I wasn't sure what my two cats would be likely to chomp, I would prefer not to have any holly berries. So I got a bespoke Advent wreath which I will collect in the morning once it's been blessed...


I thought that the Advent wreath for the church looked particularly elegant...


Meanwhile, the Crib was being set up in front of the Lady Altar...


... and, at least until Christmas, this is what the finished Crib looks like...



There are a few more photos on my Flickr page. The afternoon made a very enjoyable way to prepare for Advent. I can't wait to collect my wreath tomorrow!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A Treat...

We are having a Solemn High Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at St. Austin & St. Gregory's, Margate. Mass starts at 7:30pm, so I shall have to race the schoolchildren to the gate at the end of the day, but it'll be worth it!

I think the music is something by Palestrina. It'll be a real treat to hear it in the setting and circumstances for which it was composed...

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Skies That Inspired Turner...

2014-11-01 16.19.00I had been told that Turner once declared that "...the skies above Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe." I always assumed that this was artistic hyperbole; after all, sky was sky. It didn't matter where you were, you had the same amount of sky, and, while it would change according to the weather conditions, it was pretty much the same everywhere.

After visiting Margate a few times, I realised that Turner actually had a point. The quality of the light is amazing, and unlike anything else I have experienced. I can't paint, but I do love to try and capture the moods and light with my camera.

2015-05-26 14.38.07

I took lots of photos during the Summer as I strolled along the sea front. But I was interested to see how the views would change as the wintry weather developed, and so, on a rather changeable day in November, I went out with my camera to see what I could come up with.

None of the photos have been edited or filtered in any way...

2015-11-04 13.58.39

2015-11-04 14.08.47

2015-11-04 16.09.09

2015-11-04 13.36.29

You can see a few more over on my Flickr pages...

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Margate's Michaelmas Fair

We had a Michaelmas Fair last week at St. Austin & St. Gregory, Margate. I felt the urge to get back to my hobby, so took a few photos which, I thought, came out rather well.

Deacon Neville and his wife, Anne, did a grand job of trying to persuade me to buy some children's toys. I resisted, but the absence of a sale wasn't due to lack of effort on their part - I had absolutely no cash on me, as I'd spent it all on petrol for my new car!


Yvonne and Breda had a fabulous stall with various items of costume jewellery. I don't wear anything other than my crucifix and miraculous medal, but I was seriously tempted by some of the beautiful bead necklaces...


...and so, it would appear, was Deacon Ambrose...


I was rather amused to see that cats feature pretty much everywhere...


All the photos from the Fair can be seen on my Flickr pages.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Night Is Always Darkest Before The Dawn...

I'm praying that this is true because what little I'm reading right now (and it is deliberately a very little) about the Synod is very dark indeed.

For some reason, the phrase "Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out" keeps coming to mind. I remember it from the book by Robert Graves, Claudius the God.

The Emperor Claudius realises that he has, by his attempts at benevolent rule, effectively scuppered all chances of a true Republic being restored, as all the evil, corruption and intrigues are hidden away. He determines to make those around him show their true colours by being unresisting and compliant. He will be "Old King Log," inert and unprotesting, as everything gets worse and worse before it just has to be overthrown.

It seems so very appropriate. I can't help wondering if there was something of this in the resignation of Pope Benedict. Some of the madder bishops appear to have been kept in check by their knowledge that they would be called out by the CDF and now, under Pope Francis, they appear happy to show their true natures.

In the book, Claudius's plan didn't quite work out the way he intended. In contrast, we have Christ's promise that he Church will prevail in the end - unfortunately we don't know how bad things will get in the meantime.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to pray that it's not an oncoming train.

Friday, 28 August 2015

It Was Only A Matter Of Time...

I explained a couple of posts ago that I had had a catflap installed in my new flat. The cats have been a bit reluctant to use it, because, due to the double glazing here, it is a little more "clattery" than the one in my previous place.

There is also a slight drop on the other side of the door, making access a tad trickier for my rather well-fed moggies. Both of them tried the plaintive miaow from the other side of the door trick,and, although I gave in once for each cat (it was pouring with rain on both occasions) I then hardened my heart, and waited for them to figure out the mechanics. I also provided an incentive by removing the litter trays.

Tonight, just three weeks after the installation of the catflap, Miaowrini brought home her first catch.

I thought it was dead, and so, obviously, did Miaowrini, as she laid it carefully on the floor in the front room. Just as I was about to remove the corpse, it opened an eye and fluttered its wings in an attempt to get away. I used a tea towel in order to scoop it up, and took a photo. Furretti had joined us, and the noise of two excited cats and one unhappy bird (the latter possibly calling for mum - it had a fledgling sort of look) was rather startling.

Having checked that there were no obvious injuries, I let the bird out of the front window, and it flew off. Miaowrini was not amused, and she is now sulking.

Does anyone have any idea what type of bird this was?

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Happy Memories...

About a month ago, the Day With Mary team visited Margate. As my previous posts probably indicated (HERE and HERE) I love the Days With Mary - a full-on, no-nonsense, Marian pilgrimage fitted into the space of a few hours. A devotional whirlwind which picks you up, gives you a shake and leaves you enthused and encouraged in your spiritual life.

Mere words can't convey the experience very well - I make it sound as if it is all a complete rush, but it really isn't. The atmosphere of prayer and calm is amazing... but it's energising and uplifting, and exciting at the same time as well.

A picture speaks a thousand words - and you can see lots of photos here. However, a video clip trumps a picture every time...

One of the talks given by Fr. Finigan can also be seen:

And here is a link to a video of his sermon. On all the videos, the singing of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate is hauntingly beautiful.

Twitch of the mantilla to Fr. Tim.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Hunting Licenses Reissued...

Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus ostium kitti cattus!*

I have finally succeeded in having a cat flap installed in my bedroom door... this has taken much more time and effort than I anticipated because the door is double-glazed and I really didn't want to have a half PVC door put in. It would have been much easier from the cat flap point of view, but I would have lost an incredible amount of natural light.

Anyway, the cats appear rather unsure what to make of it all. Furretti was actually the first to venture out, but she decided that it wasn't that interesting, and promptly returned to her current favourite spot on top of my school papers for another nap. Furretti's favourite spot is nearly always on top of whatever I'm working on, preferably while I am working on it.

Miaowrini is much more fascinated by the idea of "the great outdoors". Because the cat flap is much bigger and noisier than the previous one (due to the double glazing) I have temporarily taken the door off to encourage exploration. Miaowrini has been going out for periods of 20 seconds or so, and then sits staring at the door. If I return to the sitting room, she immediately runs after me - as if she is only brave enough to venture out if I'm beside her. So it is probably just as well that I had to wait until the holidays before getting the cat flap.

I expect that the two kitties will soon get the hang of going outdoors again, and then it will be business as usual. In anticipation, I have started up a new version of the Kitty Kill Count... anyone want to start a book on how soon I get presented with my first seagull...?

*Yes, I know it should just be "cattus" not "kitti cattus", but I couldn't resist!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Supreme Catisfaction...!

I am feeling deliriously happy this evening. I have been an awesome kitty-whisperer and good Samaritan all at the same time!

Two weeks ago, my upstairs neighbours lost their cat. She was less than a year old, and had never been outside, though she had a habit of walking from the bedroom window over the roof tiles to the balcony. Unfortunately, one evening, she appeared to slip on wet tiles... only her absence wasn't immediately noticed.

Time passed, and I noticed that Kiara hadn't been found - and a cat basket with a towel, and a pair of her owner's shoes were left in the front garden, just in case she came back needing shelter. It really was a heartbreaking sight.

Anyway, this evening I was curled up in bed, settling down to peruse my Twitter feed, when a movement outside my bedroom back door caught my eye. There, looking in, was a black and white cat. I cautiously approached the door, but the cat ran away. I opened it, and sat down making encouraging noises, and, to my delight, the cat ventured closer.

Unfortunately, Miaowrini then spotted the new arrival, and made her displeasure clear, and the other cat ran away again. I managed to get Miaowrini out of the bedroom, and prevented Furretti from trying to come in, and promptly shut the door. I then sat by the back door and made a few more encouraging noises.

It took five minutes before she got near enough for me to stroke her cheek... but cats love to be scratched just under the jaw there, and as she pushed against my hand I was able to grasp the scruff of her neck and then shut the door so she couldn't escape. I then bundled her into a cat carrier and rang my neighbours to let them know I had found a cat.

The reunion nearly reduced me to tears...

Miaowrini and Furretti are less happy - they saw the interloper arrive, but haven't quite figured out that she's been taken back out, and are busy scouring the flat in an attempt to repel boarders. I am definitely in the dog house for daring to befriend another feline. Never mind - it'll all be forgiven once I crack open the tinned tuna...
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