Wednesday, 29 February 2012


''The most beautiful thing this side of heaven?'' Boob. The Roman Rite is far too commonplace to be considered beautiful, especially that celebrated by the Sackville-Bagginses. Maybe Pontifical Mattins of the Resurrection done ''Tridentine'' fashion could be considered beautiful on account of the singular rarity of such liturgy, but high Mass with all the lace, with all the bibs, up, down, up, down with the Sacrament, same old routine etc, especially to mark a significant anniversary...well, to me it just inspires wrath and indignation, not piety. Do these people have no idea how to make a conscious effort? It reminds me of Fr Ted, and I mean that disparagingly of course. Hmmm, 150 years here in the gay capital of England (I'm saying nothing about the reverend father); let's have a Mass. Death of the pope; let's have a Mass (against the enemies of the Church?); I can't find the remote control, better celebrate three Masses.

So I congratulate the Italian Mission in Brighton on being around for these 150 years, 1862 being a time immeasurably remote in the history of the Church of England. I wonder if the original parish priest was as literate and genuine as his successor?

Not that I care one bit about issues of copyright, but I decided to exclude photos. You can view those here.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Black Death...

Laudatores temporis acti...

Were I to read newspapers at all I would read The Telegraph. Having said that someone at work presented me with an interesting article (a letter in fact) from The Sun, notorious for its Page 3 (but let's say no more about that). It's about an anonymous viral email being sent about the Internet by a praiser of times past. It seemed so important and apposite that I have produced it here:

Congratulations to all my friends who were born in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank sherry while they carried us and lived in houses made of Asbestos.

They took asprin, ate blue cheese, bread and dripping, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat and didn't get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer.

Then, after that trauma, our cots were covered with lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles or locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode bikes we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking. We would ride in cars with no seatbelts or airbags.

We drank water from the garden hose, not a bottle. Takeaway food was limited to fish and chips, there were no pizza shops, or McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Nando's.

Even though all the shops closed at 6:00pm and didn't open on a Sunday, somehow we didn't starve to death!

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one died from this. We could collect old drink bottles and cash them in at the corner store and buy toffees, gobstoppers and bubble gum.

We ate white bread and real butter, drank cow's milk and soft drinks with sugar, but we weren't overweight because we were always outside playing!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day but we were OK. We would spend hours building go-karts out of old prams then ride down the hill only to find out we forgot the brakes.

We built treehouses and dens and played in riverbeds with matchbox cars. We did not have Playstation, Nintendo Wii and Xbox or video games, DVDs or colour TV. There were no mobiles, computers, internet or chatrooms.

We had friends and we went outside and found them! We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. We ate worms and mud pies, too.

Only girls had pierced ears.

You could buy Easter eggs and hot-cross buns only at Easter time. We were given airguns and catapults for our tenth birthdays, we rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or just yelled for them.

Not everyone made the school rugby, football, cricket or netball teams. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that. Getting into the team was based on merit.

Our teachers hit us with canes and gym shoes and threw the blackboard rubber at us if they thought we weren't concentrating.

We can string sentences together, spell and have proper conversations now because of a solid three Rs education.

Our parents would tell us to ask a stranger to help us cross the road.

Mum didn't have to go to work to help Dad make ends meet because we didn't need to keep up with the Joneses!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

Parents didn't invent stupid names for kids like Kiora, Blade, Ridge and Vanilla.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility and learned to deal with it all.

You might want to share this with others who grew up in an era before lawyers and government regulated lives.

And while you are at it, forward it to your children, so they know how brave their parents were.

Older people always think that the world is worse than it was when they were young. I expect that they are right in some respects, and that this is a result of the great apostasy from the Christian faith. One thing this letter does not mention (for whatever reason) is the Lord's Prayer. My father went to an irreligious school and the Lord's Prayer was said everyday before assembly. My mother went to a convent school and had a more rigorous cycle of daily prayers and Mass (I don't know how often), and about the school were crucifixes which offended no one. There were hardly any ethnic minorities, and the few who were present dressed up Western fashion anyway and spoke English.

This letter picks up on many things which I personally hold dear. What the author says about Easter eggs and hot cross buns is very important. Why are hot cross buns sold in the Summer time in supermarkets? I refuse to buy them, nor do I buy fruit and vegetables out of season. Who wants strawberries and cream during the Winter months? ''Only girls had pierced ears'' - I should think so too! My father said that when he was young the only boys who had their ears pierced were ''pansies'' or traveller types and their ilk. But men do seem to have become more effeminate nowadays, and women more masculine - is it a devilish plot to obscure the sexes?

I'm afraid that for those of us doomed to live and work in the real world there is not much we can do except witness to Christ as best we can. I have made a moral choice not to speak to anyone with whom I work now except in matters of work. I cannot be too candid or explain that, but shunning is certainly a scriptural practice. Pray, work and strive to live better lives in the fear of the Lord. None of us can stem the tide of the Machine (against which Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings), nor do much to assuage the grief inflicted upon us and our friends by the anti-Catholic vitriol of our time, but we are not strong of ourselves. Is it the Psalms that say that our ''sufficiency is of God''? I forget. Whatever betide, I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God.

Art: Ted Nasmith. It depicts the Green Hill Country within the Shire. Not much is left of the fields and hills of England, what with motorways and hedge rows.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

The expert strikes again...

A commemoration of Ash Wednesday? Sigh, you see, this is what Ultramontanism does to the mind. The pope says ''jump''...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


After mattens ended, the people beeyng called together by the ryngyng of a bel, and assembled in the churche: Thinglyshe letanye shall be sayed after theaccustomed maner: whiche ended, the prieste shal goe into the pulpitte and saye thus:

BRETHREN, in the prymitive churche there was a godlye disciplyne, that at the begynnyng of lente suche persones as were notorious synners, were put to open penaunce and punished in this worlde, that theyr soules myght bee saved in the day of the Lord. And that other admonished by theyr example, might be more afrayed to offende. In the steede whereof until the saide disciplyne maye bee restored agayne; (whiche thynge is muche to bee wyshed) it is thoughte good, that at thys tyme (in your presence) shoulde bee read the general sentences of Goddes Cursyng agaynste impenitente synners, gathered out of the XXVII Chapter of Deuteronomie, and other places of scripture. And that ye shoulde aunswere to every sentence, Amen: To thentente that you beeyng admonished of the greate indignacion of God agaynste synners: may the rather be called to earneste and true repentaunce, and maye walke more warely in these daungerous dayes, fleyng from suche vices, for the whiche ye affirme with your owne mouthes: the curse of God to be due.

From the 1549 Book of Common Prayer; more here. It is very melodious and liturgical, but this is the sort of liturgy that (at least to me) depends upon the eloquence and dignity of the priest. Fine at Westminster Abbey, but could you imagine the most boring man mumbling these exhortations, litanies and prayers from the pulpit or the faldstool? Tolkien once admonished his son Michael to choose a proud and vulgar friar over a visibly holy man to celebrate Mass, for the feeding the five thousand effect. Some have accused me of preferring dignity (in the sense of splendour) over piety. What is the difference?

I have no penance plan for Lent in the sense of giving something up, but I do plan on reacquainting myself with the homilies of St Bede. What are your plans?

I couldn't find an image of the Expulsion of Public Penitents in Google Images, so the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden will have to do.

Monday, 13 February 2012


A Flemish tapestry (circa 1520) depicts the triumph of Death (represented here by the three Fates of Greek myth) over Chastity, a symbol in Petrarch's work The Triumphs. First Love triumphs, then Chastity triumphs over Love, then Chastity is overcome by Death, Death by Fame, Fame by Time, and Time by Eternity.

I dreamt of it last night.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Dying Swan, A.D 1925...

A little something to commemorate the birthday of Anna Pavlova, who in my view was the quintessence of ballerina delicacy. Enjoy!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

St Patrick in Art...

Thanks to for a very interesting article about the history of my patron, St Patrick, in Art. Naturally I had known hitherto of the existence of local cults outside Ireland, but wholly new to me was the fact that the Apostle to the Irish was represented in very different ways; in Ireland usually in the form of a bishop in apparelled alb, amice, with a green chasuble decked about with a green shamrock (with which he famously explained the doctrine of the Triune God), and crozier - very dignified; in France, by contrast, as shewn in the Legenda Aurea of Jacopo de Voragine, as a tonsured monk in cowls, piercing the foot of King Oengus of Cashel, as he administered the Sacrament of Baptism unto him - less dignified, perhaps, but almost reminiscent of the perception of Peregrin Took in the Tower of Guard, of the difference between Gandalf and Denethor. Denethor looked older, wiser, more like a sorcerer of great power, and yet Gandalf, he sensed by a perception other than sight, held the greater dignity, and a power which he veiled. Also of note is the author's observation of Counter Reformation standards and the imposition of strict uniformity and control over the cult of local saints. We all know how St Patrick was treated by Pius V in his revision of the Roman liturgical books.

Very worth the read, for lovers of St Patrick, the cult of local saints (even very important ones), and the history of Art and hagiography.

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Prayer for our Queen...

O Lord, save The Queen...

O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life may she attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.