Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Kitty News Update...

I'm sure you're dying to know how the Cardinal and Monsignor are getting along...

No? Well, you'll need to skip this post.

Cardinal Furretti is as affectionate and indolent as ever. She seems to spend the majority of her time asleep, but likes to do so in my company - and preferably on my lap. She is also displaying a jealous streak towards Miaowrini. I haven't seen any overt violence, but there must be some subtle form of communication going on.

The process goes something along these lines: Miaowrini finds a comfortable spot, and starts to spend more time there. Suddenly, Furretti is seen spending time there instead, so Miaowrini has to go elsewhere. Finally Furretti returns to her favourite spot (on my bed) but Miaowrini seems unwilling to go back to reclaim her spot.

In addition, Furretti sulks if I pay attention to Miaowrini. She actually turns her back on me, and moves away if I try to stroke her. Therefore I have to be careful to stroke Furretti first, if the two of them are present, or stroke Miaowrini when Furretti isn't watching...

After I've been away, Furretti does her best to show her disapproval by sulking. The problem is that she's such a "needy" cat that she has a really hard time doing this. She comes running towards me to greet me, then stops herself, turns her back on me and stalks away. That lasts all of two minutes, and then back she comes, eager to be petted and made a fuss of.

Monsignor Miaowrini, when I first got her, bolted whenever I turned to look at her, something I attributed to her experiences as a rescue kitten. Gradually she became less nervous, but she was a difficult cat to approach, and she hated to be picked up. She spent most of her time outside, and I vaguely wondered whether she was spending time in another house. Then, earlier this year, she had her accident, and was caged up for a few months. After that, she became far more affectionate, and of late she has started to run towards me to greet me when she comes home - she's also home much more than before. In addition, she now frequently allows herself to be picked up for a brief cuddle and head scratch.

I am moved by the fact that, despite the dreadful injury to her leg, Miaowrini had made her way back home, even though she must have had real difficulty getting up the kitty steps to the catflap. She obviously considers it a place of safety.

Miaowrini has been catching lots of mice and bringing them in, and, if I'm at home (and awake), she miaows loudly until I come to see what she's brought back. She has a very distinctive miaow for this purpose - almost triumphant. Furretti loves to chase whatever Miaowrini brings in, but I have only seen her bring in a mouse of her own on one occasion, so I assume that Miaowrini is responsible for most of the kills.

At the moment, I'm having one or two problems with feeding. The cats are being fussy. They have Purina One dried food available all the time, but both cats like (demand) wet food in the morning and in the evening. I've tried giving only dry food, but then the cats seem to throw up more frequently, and I'm not too keen on clearing up cat vomit.

Both of them dislike Felix, and they only like certain flavours of Sainsbury's own brand. They both like Purina One wet food, but that is prohibitively expensive, and the portion sizes are ridiculously small. Iams was initially received well by Furretti but not by Miaowrini. Whiskas has to be generously laced with (expensive) Felix cat treats before either cat will consider it. Furretti will often eat stuff if it is in Miaowrini's bowl, but Miaowrini won't eat stuff from Furretti's bowl. Both cats really like tinned tuna, but, as well as being expensive, and despite it being the variety with spring water rather than brine, it is apparently not good for the cats to have too much of it...

Don't waste time telling me that the cats will eat whatever there is if they're hungry enough. They don't. And cat food that has been left out for a day smells horrible. And I'm too soft to let them go hungry...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This Blog Isn't Dead Yet...

2014-09-07 10.45.08Work commitments mean that I haven't blogged for ages. I will do so soon.

I don't wish to comment on anything concerning Blackfen at the moment, other than to say that the accounts I have read on the blogosphere to date have been very restrained.

In the meantime, your prayers for all concerned would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Help Desperately Needed...

The Good Counsel Network has posted an impassioned plea via Facebook. It seems that the organisation is so short of funds that they have been unable to give out food vouchers to some of the mothers they help, and they have been unable to pay their staff.

The Good Counsel Network is doing vital pro-life work, giving advice and, above all, practical help to mothers who might otherwise have an abortion. They don't receive any government assistance at all. Things are tight for everyone, but the Summer is apparently a really low point donations-wise at the best of times, and clearly they are up against the wire.

If you can, please consider going to their donations page - there are lots of options on how to get the money to them. And if you can't, then please pray for them to receive the support they need in order to be able to continue supporting mothers and their children.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

In The Sacristy...

As a bit of a trad, I am aware that the laity, and especially lay women, should not handle the sacred vessels for Mass. I am also fully cognizant of the Old Testament passage which records the unpleasant fate of the two men who - albeit from the very best of motives - touched the Ark of the Covenant. Unfortunately, in my role of Assistant Sacristan, it isn't always possible for me to avoid handling the chalice and paten, especially when there aren't any servers around. So I try to use a purificator, but this hasn't always been practical. And yes, I know that I have been "permitted" to handle things by my parish priest, but I'm not entirely comfortable doing so. And the sense of unease has been growing.

It occurred to me that museum curators wear gloves when handling precious manuscripts, and I wondered whether this might provide a solution. I happened to mention it to a few of the senior servers (partly to test whether they thought I was Upton Park*) and today Mattheus brought me a present:


I strongly refute the suggestion of the Senior MC that this is the first step in getting the relevant vestments sorted for my new appointment as a womyn bishop.

Now I just have to find out if there's a blessing for gloves...

*Two stops short of Barking.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

No Contest...

On Sunday, Fr. Finigan gave an excellent sermon, with much food for thought. One thing which really hit home was the information that the hymn by St. Thomas Aquinas, Adoro te devote, was added to most missals as part of the priest's thanksgiving prayers because of the beautiful way it encapsulates our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

It struck me that the same cannot be said of the majority of "modern" hymns (I use quotation marks as the term is generally applied to hymns written back in the 1970s and 1980s... this hardly qualifies as "modern" after forty years!)

"If I was a wiggly worm" doesn't quite cut it...

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Corpus Christi...

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Maybe I am being uncharitable, but, when the Bishops of England & Wales decided to cancel (sorry, transfer) the Holydays of Obligation, I'm sure that they didn't realise that this would result in so many Extraordinary Form Masses happening instead...

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You see, the usus antiquior follows the traditional calendar, and the various Holydays are therefore celebrated on their proper days... and, since the extra Masses (which would have been held to allow he faithful to fulfil the obligation) are no longer being celebrated, there are plenty of priests around who are only too happy to oblige the more traditionally-inclined members of their flock by offering a TLM.

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This is the case in Blackfen. Since the obligation of Corpus Christi has been transferred to the Sunday, we were free to hold an extra Mass on Thursday. And since, in the usus antiquior, Thursday was the Feast of Corpus Christi, we had a Missa Cantata with all the trimmings: and, as the weather was rather fine, that meant an outdoor procession.

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I have to confess to a slight trepidation as the procession passed the Parish Club - quite a few people were inside watching the World Cup match between England and Uruguay, and I did wonder what might happen if someone scored...

There are a few more photos over on Flickr...

Forty Hours...

Blackfen celebrated the Forty Hours a week ago, but, although I managed to load up my photos, I was first too tired and then too busy to blog about it.

We started off with a Solemn High Mass...

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I had to work on Friday, so couldn't stay long on Thursday night. I did manage to take a quick photo before I left...

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However, after Mass on Friday evening, I was free to spend some quality time with Our Lord...

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And the Quarant'Ore finished with Mass, the Litany of the Saints and a Procession (and Benediction) on the Saturday morning.

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There are more photos over on Flickr, including one or two of my more "arty" shots, so do go and have a browse.And, if you should be in a parish which puts on the Forty Hours' devotion, do make the effort to attend, even for a short while - it's definitely a spiritual booster!

Kitty Killing Spree...

Some of you might be wondering about how Monsignor Miaowrini has been getting on since her accident. I have to confess that I thought she would find it slightly more difficult to catch mice, and almost impossible to catch birds. That knee was pretty badly wrecked, and she limps quite badly when the weather is damp.

One look at the Kitty Kill Count in the sidebar should give you a clue. Cardinal Furretti is happy to chase mice when they are presented to her, but she seems to be rather indolent, and rarely spends time outside. The majority of live captures (and therefore, I assume, the majority of kills) are down to the predations of the feisty Monsignor.

I don't know what is happening, but she seems to be ramping things up. It's a rare morning when I don't discover a little something left out for me to find. Fortunately Miaowrini likes to leave things by the front door, so I haven't been unfortunate enough to tread on the offerings as I stagger barefoot and bleary-eyed to the bathroom. One night I rescued a live mouse from under her nose, and the next morning I found two birds and another dead mouse. On Thursday morning I found three dead mice.

I'm considering loaning her out for a small fee...


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Storming Heaven...

Blackfen's annual celebration of the Quarant'Ore, (Forty Hours') Devotions starts this Thursday evening. We kick off with a Solemn High Mass at 8pm, followed by a Blessed Sacrament Procession and a Litany, and then Our Lord is left exposed on the altar for forty hours...

It really is a wonderfully prayerful experience, and there is something incredibly moving about adoration during the "silent watches of the night." In fact, after the end of the Quarant'Ore, there is a palpable sense of loss as Our Lord is reposed in the tabernacle. I imagine that a similar sense of loss would have been experienced by the disciples after the Ascension.


There will be Missa Cantatas on Friday (8pm) and Saturday (10:30am) but the church will be open for people to come and spend a little time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament right through the Forty Hours. Not everyone is in a position to be able to watch through the night, but most of us can spare 20 minutes at some time during the day...

If you feel the need to recharge your spiritual batteries, then directions to Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen can be found here. If you'd like to know a little more about the devotion, then Zephyrinus has a great post on it.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Papal Award At Blackfen...

2014-06-09 19.31.56The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has awarded the Benemerenti to one of Blackfen's parishioners (we are now a three-Benemerenti parish!) and we had a Mass to celebrate the occasion and make the presentation.

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Bishop Pat Lynch celebrated the Mass, and presented the medal and citation to Hilda, who has been a stalwart of the parish for more years than it would be polite to mention...

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In an interesting twist, Hilda had to help the bishop out by figuring out how the pin fastening actually worked...

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Warmest congratulations to Hilda on such a very well-deserved award! You can see more photos on my Flickr page.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Little Night Music...


Actually it's an evening of French, German and English organ music, played by local organists, at St. Mary's Chislehurst. The evening is to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the church, and all proceeds will go to charity. It starts at 8pm on Saturday 14 June, and there will be refreshments during the interval. £5 payable at the door (£2 for children)...

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Bartrès...

2014-05-28 09.30.34When St. Bernadette was a baby, she had to have a wet-nurse for a while, as her own mother was unable to breastfeed her after being badly burned in an accident. Later on, when the family were suffering dire financial hardships, Bernadette was sent back to her former foster-mother, partly to reduce the number of mouths to feed in the family, and partly so that she could benefit from good food and clean air.

Bernadette was to work for Marie Laguës, looking after the sheep and helping with Marie's own children, and, in return, Marie promised to allow Bernadette to attend school and help her learn her catechism so she could make her First Holy Communion. Bernadette's ill health following a cholera outbreak and her family's poverty had prevented her from attending school in Lourdes, and so, at the age of 13, she was still unable to read or write.

With all the work she was expected to do, Bernadette never got the chance to attend classes in Bartrès, despite the assurances which had been given. Marie herself didn't have much patience, and St. Bernadette found it difficult to learn her catechism. When the priest at Bartrès announced that he was leaving to enter religious life in a monastery, Bernadette realised that she had no chance of making her First Holy Communion if she remained at Bartrès, and she decided to return to the family home in Lourdes. Three weeks later, St. Bernadette saw Our Lady for the first time at the Grotto of Massabielle...

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We were very privileged to be able to visit the parish church at Bartrès this morning, and to celebrate Mass according to the usus antiquior, the form which St. Bernadette would have experienced. The High Altar is basically the same as the one Bernadette knew, as is the tryptich of St. John the Baptist, but the church was just the single nave.

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After Mass we were able to venerate a relic of St. Bernadette, and to see an example of her handwriting practice from when she was learning to write...

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Sadly, the farmhouse where St. Bernadette stayed with the Laguës family was closed. I assume that they don't usually get many visitors on a Wednesday morning, as that is when the International Mass is celebrated in the Pius X Underground Basilica, and the vast majority of organised groups attend. However, I did remember that the stream where the village women would gather to wash clothes was around the corner, so we went along to have a look...

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ad Multos Annos...

2014-05-27 19.18.05Our hotel, the Grand Hotel d'Angleterre, is a favourite with many pilgrimage groups. The Birmingham Diocesan Pilgrimage occurs during the May half term week, and over the years we have bumped into many regulars who are staying at the hotel.

One of the priests we regularly meet is Fr. Paul Devaney. This year he is celebrating his Golden Jubilee of priestly Ordination, and tonight at dinner there was a little celebration. Archbishop Bernard Longley came over for dinner, a cake was brought out, and, after we sang a rousing chorus of "For he's a jolly good fellow", all the priests present launched into a very moving rendition of "Ad multos annos" the anthem traditionally sung for a priestly anniversary. His Grace gave a lovely speech and pointed out that he and Fr. Tim had sung together in the schola at Wonersh.

Never one to miss a photo opportunity, I asked the Archbishop if I could take a photo for the blog...

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From left to right, Fr Dominic Coslett, Fr. Tony Rohan, Fr. Tim Finigan, Fr Paul Devaney and Archbishop Bernard Longley...

I was surprised to find that His Grace knew of my blog... and especially the exploits of my two cats. He was keen to tell me about the famous Birmingham Oratory cat, Pushkin, who, since his meeting with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has been seen sporting a red biretta and a (small) red cape. No doubt Cardinal Furretti will be having words with me about the paucity of her own ecclesial apparel... I will probably have to invest in a cappa magna and lace rochet just to keep the fur from flying...

In the Footsteps of Bernadette...

We started the second day of our pilgrimage with a guided tour of the main sites in the town associated with St. Bernadette. It is a while since I have done this tour, and I particularly wanted to get some new photos, so, mindful of the fact that my knees and ankles are getting worse - which means that I may not be capable of navigating the hills and cobbles for much longer - I made a bit more of an effort this morning.

After meeting at the Information Office and registering our group, we were teamed up with a group from Grimsby. We went first to the Museum of St. Bernadette to get a brief overview of her life and the Apparitions. They have a model of the way the grotto looked and its relation to the town which helped me to picture the whole scene...

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Next we made our way to the Boly Mill where Bernadette was born, and spent the first 10 years of her life. The time spent here was a time of happiness for the Soubirous family...

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A combination of factors led to the family suffering financial difficulties - in particular the generosity of the family towards the poor, and their reluctance to press for payment of debts. The situation was compounded by a famine in the area, during which the government distributed free flour, thus bankrupting Bernadette's father. The family was evicted from the Mill, and eventually became so poor that the only refuge they could find was the Cachot - the old jail which had been condemned as too unhealthy a place to house criminals.

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En route to the Cachot we passed the house bought for the family by the bishop after Bernadette had gone to the convent at Nevers...

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We ended the tour with a visit to the parish church. It isn't the one which existed at the time of St. Bernadette - that burned down - but it does still have the Baptismal font where St. Bernadette was baptised. Unfortunately there was a Mass being celebrated, so we couldn't have much of a look round...

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I did manage to get our group to pose in front of the statue of Dean Peyremale (one of Fr. Tim's heroes, I think.)

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The tour guide indicated that the last place we were due to visit was the English Bookshop, where we would be given coffee. None of our group was keen on the idea and so we finished the tour here. I was starting to feel the effects of the hills and cobbles (I think my Guardian Angel had been working overtime up to that point, pushing me up the hills to ensure that I didn't give up!) and I returned to our hotel for a short rest before lunch...

There are a few more photos from the tour and the rest of Day 2 on my Flickr page.

Monday, 26 May 2014

And Here We Are...

2014-05-26 09.19.23The Blackfen pilgrimage started this morning with Low Mass at the Lady Altar. Annie Elizabeth's eldest son kindly gave up the opportunity to have a Bank Holiday Monday lie-in and served the Mass... this was after a Sunday where, at the ripe old age of 12, he MC'd the Sunday Missa Cantata, served two consecutive Baptisms and then served Mass for Fr. Michael Mary of the Transalpine Redemptorists who happened to have dropped by with Brother Martin for a visit. Give that young man a medal...

The pilgrimage group is very small this year - several people expressed an interest, but then pulled out. However, I think I've managed to get a good programme of events lined up. We don't have a server, unless someone happens to materialise, so it will be Low Mass each day, but the silence and stillness of Low Mass has a special charm once you get to appreciate that silence doesn't mean "doing nothing!"

The journey by minibus from Blackfen to Heathrow was uneventful, and the Groups check-in at Terminal 5 was wonderfully smooth. Security was a bit of a pain - taking laptops and kindles out of bags when the bags are being x-rayed anyway seems a little excessive - but there was still time for people to go and get lunch or do a little shopping.

British Airways are very civilized about seat allocations, so we didn't have a mad scramble, and the flight was pretty straightforward - even the turbulence announced by the captain didn't disturb my gin and tonic. Once at Toulouse we were met by another driver who had been sent to collect us. Rush hour traffic in Toulouse is no joke, but once we were in the suburbs it was all plain sailing. I was able to put my mobile phone camera through its paces, and was delighted to find that it coped really well with the rapidly-moving landscape - I am even more impressed by the phone's capabilities than before!

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Dinner was waiting for us in the hotel when we arrived. The hotel is lovely - it reminds me of an Agatha Christie novel (minus the bodies and the Belgian detective) and I wanted to get some new photos on my phone camera. My knee and ankle are playing up - a combination of travel and rather wet weather - so I thought I'd skip tonight's Torchlight Procession, and I'm now enjoying a cup of gorgeous hot chocolate before retiring.

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I've brought the laptop and so plan to blog about each day's activities. If anyone is in Lourdes and wants to join us for Mass, tomorrow it is in the Jeanne d'Arc Chapel (in the Upper Basilica) at 3pm. 

And in case anyone is around, on Wednesday morning we will be in Bartrès for Mass in the parish church at 10am...

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Lourdes Pilgrimage Approaches...

The time of the Blackfen Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes is rapidly approaching. It's been three years since the last one, so I'm really looking forward to it. Mass every day according to the usus antiquior will be a real treat. Sadly we don't have any servers with us, so it will have to be Low Mass...

Fortunately we have managed to get the same hotel as before - it's a wonderful place, with a real family atmosphere... and it's less than five minutes' walk from the Domaine. I'm still waiting to hear from the Parish Priest of Lourdes, to find out if we can use the church Crypt for Mass on two of the days. We are having Mass in the church at Bartrès - the only church that St. Bernadette actually attended regularly (the church in Lourdes burnt down, and only the Baptismal font is original, while the Basilica itself wasn't finished until she had gone to Nevers. She did visit the Crypt of the Immaculate Conception Basilica, but only a few times.)

I am looking forward to getting some really good photos with my latest mobile phone, which performs far better than the digital camera I have. If, however, you really can't wait to get a dose of Lourdes, do go over and visit Richard Collins, of Linen on the Hedgerow,who has written lots about his recent pilgrimage. He even managed to get a picture of a cat and dedicated it to this blog (Mewlier Fortis, indeed!!)

Richard wondered why there were always so many women in the queue for the baths compared to the number of men. I think the women's queue just appears to be longer - we take much more time to get undressed, wrapped, dunked and dressed again... there are more bits of apparel, and they do rather need to be adjusted "just so" for the sake of modesty!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Point Of Catholic Blogging...


Following some of the controversy surrounding the closure of Nick Donnelly's blog, Protect the Pope, the Catholic Herald decided to run a feature on the point of Catholic blogging. Contributions were sought, from five "incisive" bloggers, on the role blogging should play in the life of the Church.

That the Catholic Herald should ask Bishop Philip Egan for a contribution was no surprise, as he considered the point of Catholic blogging in his Lenten pastoral letter - this had already gone the rounds of the blogosphere due to his excellent press officer. Fr. Timothy Finigan's contribution was also unsurprising - he writes regularly for the paper, and his blog is one of the most popular Catholic blogs in the UK. Joseph Shaw, as Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, has been blogging up a storm over various key issues in the life of the Church. Elizabeth Scalia, who blogs as The Anchoress, is one of the really hard-hitting bloggers in the US, and she is also the Managing Editor of the Catholic Portal on Patheos.

And blogger number five was me...

I was extremely taken aback to be asked for my opinion - my posting has been sporadic of late. This reaction was echoed on Twitter when Bruvver Eccles asked if the Catholic Herald had started up a column about cats...


I do think that blogging forms a vital tool for evangelisation in the Church today, and one where lay people have a major part to play. Do go over and read the articles if you haven't done so already...
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