Sunday, 31 May 2009
Saturday, 30 May 2009
The other factor to consider was the heat...35 degrees makes quite a difference to the walking pace.
(I must be getting old!).
We stopped here, at the Trevi Fountain for a few minutes.I hadn't known that it was commissioned in the 18th century by Pope Clement XII, to bring water to the local populace.The water comes from the Salone springs, some 20km distant.
We didn't do the 'toss a coin into the fountain, and you'll come back to Rome' thing, but we did have a very good tomato and mozzarella sandwich nearby.
The English College, or 'Venerabile' as it is affectionally known, seems a more modest building, by Roman standards; it is I am told the oldest English Catholic institution, outside England. Founded as a hospice in the 14th century, the Venerabile became a seminary for English students for the priesthood in 1579. Such students knew that they would be called to serve on the 'English Mission' at a time in English history when to be a Catholic priest in England, was to risk exposure, leading to almost certain death on the gallows.
The first college student to lay down his life was Fr Ralph Sherwin, who was hanged at Tyburn.
The Gregorian University, has its origins the Roman College which had been founded by the founder of the Society of Jesus, St. Ignatius of Loyola.When the number of students outgrew the capacity of the Roman College, Pope Gregory XIII sought to give it a more suitable base, sponsoring premises in a different location, hence it became known as the Gregorian University.
St Peter's Basilica...........splendid, majestic,beautiful ....no, that just doesn't begin to describe this magnificent place. In fact I'm unable produce an overall description, because St Peter's is visually, spiritually and historically, overwhelming.
Though there was quite a number of tourists inside the Basilica, it never seemed crowded or noisy, and we took the opportunity to pray for various family intentions.
Visiting the tombs of the Popes, in the crypt, we noticed quite a gathering at the tomb of Pope John Paul ll , also at St.Peter's, and we prayed there too.
The Swiss Guard on duty.
We made a short visit to the Sistine Chapel; my thoughts in this Chapel were along the following lines:
is it really only four short years since the Holy Father was elected in this place?
how did the Cardinals arrange their seating?
where did they go to eat/sleep/pray?
how extraordinary it is to be in the same place as that where the election of the Pope takes place, to view the same magnificent paintings as the Cardinals did, to breath the same air
by the will of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, such a momentous decision is made between these walls, I am privileged to visit this Holy place
The 'no photographs rule' is strictly observed in the Sistine Chapel, so, no photographs; but if you google it, there are many sites, with much better quality pictures than I could have produced .
A prayer request:
Please pray for my sister in law who is between treatments for the cancer; thank God, she was relatively well during the few days of our visit.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
It's been a real joy to visit my brother and his family over the last few days, in the beautiful town of Castelgandolfo.
Their flat overlooks Albano lake, formed in the crater of a volcano. It's a stunning view, with the summer residence of the Venerable English College clearly visible on the opposite side, ( in my photo above, its slightly to the right of centre).
And here it is again with the camera's zoom on. The reddish coloured building behind was once a convent, I believe, but I'm not sure how it is used now.
My brother's flat is a minute's walk from the the piazza, at the top of which is the summer residence of the Holy Father. I believe that the Vatican observatory is situated here at the Pope's summer residence, but it wasn't visible to us from this position. One evening, we sat at one of the tables above, sipping wine and putting the world right, while acknowleging how extraordinary it felt to be so close to a place where the Holy Father spends some weeks in the summer.
The next time you see a glossy advertisement for fine leather shoes or handbags, you might spot a scene similar the the picture above; this narrow, cobbled street, with its high, shuttered buildings forms the view from the kitchen, and is frequently used as a location for fashion model photo shoots.
We managed to spend some time in Rome (not nearly enough!) so tomorrow, I'll try to post some more pictures.
Friday, 22 May 2009
I'm off to visit my brother, his wife and family tomorrow; as they live in Castelgandolfo which is not far outside of Rome, it will involve an overnight stay in London followed by a very early flight from Stansted to Ciampino.
Though I am looking forward very much to seeing them again, the anticipation is mixed with some apprehension as my sister-in-law is very unwell: the cancer for which she was treated five years ago, has returned, this time to her liver. The chemotherapy she has received doesn't seem to have had much impact on reducing her tumours, though thank God they have not grown either.
I know very little about Castelgandolfo, beyond that it is the summer residence of the Holy Father (and the place where my brother and his family live), so the trip will be very interesting for me, and I hope to find out more.
Time permitting, I hope to visit Rome itself, but I might have to rely on my brother to act as a guide!
If airport security permits, I will bring a camera and try to remember to use it.
So, after today, it will be a little quiet on my blog, but I hope to resume, when I get back on Wednesday.
In the meantime, any prayers for my sister-in-law would be most welcome.
Thursday, 21 May 2009
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Michael Miller, pictured right, posted the following on the
Acton Institute blog. As a graduate, '92, the author is one of those to whom Fr Jenkins referred in his speech at the recent Commencement, when he [Fr. Jenkins] spoke of 'the family of Notre Dame'.
It's possible that other graduates may take the same principled view as Mr.Miller, I certainly hope so; if enough did, it might help bring Notre Dame back to its senses, rather as the Prodigal Son in the parable.
There's something about the slick, glossy video appeal (linked below) that puts me in mind of some Cafod appeals here in the UK.
"As a graduate of Notre Dame I have been asked many times what I think of Notre Dame inviting President Barack Obama to speak at commencement and receive an honorary doctorate. Many have ably commented on this, including Fr. Sirico here at Acton, Dr. Donald Condit, and over 50 bishops. I think the ND Response video piece sums it up well. But I received a video appeal from Notre Dame the other day asking for money which prompted me to comment. (See my reply to the appeal below)
I think Fr. Jenkins made a serious mistake of judgment in inviting President Obama to the graduation. The controversy over President Obama coming to Notre Dame is not an argument about the value of open debate at a university; it is not about President Obama. It is about a Catholic institution honoring a public figure whose positions directly contradict those of the Catholic Church on the key non-negotiable issues of life.
Faithful Catholics are free to disagree about a host – in fact, the overwhelming majority - of political and economic issues, but some moral issues, like the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life, are not up for debate and never have been. See Cardinal Ratzinger’s Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles especially paragraph #3
3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
Notre Dame’s president, Fr. Jenkins, has tried to justify the invitation on many levels, but the attempts have been exercises in sophistry. If you have any doubts on this score see Fr. Raymond De’Souza’s fine piece on the matter.
Despite the outcry against Notre Dame, Fr. Jenkins and his staff seem oblivious and continue business as usual. Just last week I received an e-mail from the Notre Dame development office with a video asking for money. The style was postmodern and adolescent, and the content of the appeal focused predominantly on race and environment–important concerns but tone deaf in the context of the current controversy.
Below is my (edited) response to the development appeal and my views on Notre Dame’s decision to honor the president.
Dear Sir or Madam
Thank you for the e-mail. In light of Fr. Jenkin’s imprudence and moral un-seriousness in inviting President Obama to give the commencement and receive an honorary doctorate, it seems further imprudent and disdainful of your alumni to send out an appeal like this at this time.
Either this is nuanced irony and self-deprecation of the highest order, which I doubt –or you live in such an insular world that you fail to recognize that you are asking people to donate to support a banal and vacuous sentiment of “transform the world” while the university is under serious criticism for brushing aside the fundamental moral and justice challenge of our time–the right to life of the unborn.
I would encourage you to read the late John Paul II on the relationship of the right to life to all other human rights. The notion that we can somehow transform the world through building race relations or supporting politically fashionable causes like the increasingly anti-human green movement while not defending the rights of the unborn is illusory, and dangerous. The deep trans-valuation that has taken place at Notre Dame is a sad commentary on Catholic education and on Fr. Jenkins leadership.
Notre Dame speaks of moral leadership and the call to transform the world, but while Notre Dame graduates are on the front lines fighting the evil of abortion, Fr. Jenkins and the senior staff apparent concern with prestige and sports and other trivial pursuits is a sign of underdeveloped moral and intellectual formation. There is, of course, a place for such things, but not in the midst of a controversy that goes to the heart of Notre Dame’s identity,
I hope and pray that the board has the fortitude and maturity to ask Fr. Jenkins to resign and to install someone who is morally serious, who will put an end to Notre Dame’s vacillation on the life issue, and cease these bathetic, (yes I mean bathetic) adolescent appeals, and focus on the things that matter.
Despite my gratitude for having been able to follow in my father’s footsteps (ND ‘48 and ‘53) and attend and graduate from Notre Dame I am deeply saddened by the reality that Notre Dame, while outwardly professing Catholicism, and (thankfully) while keeping many of the traditions, has in so many ways assimilated into the larger vulgar culture of secularism and moved away from a commitment to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness that is the hallmark of truly Catholic life and education.
It is with regret that I will not be supporting the university with donations, nor will I be able to recommend Notre Dame to the many bright young Catholic students with whom I come into contact in my work—not until changes are made: i.e., until Fr. Jenkins is replaced, and Notre Dame re-affirms its commitment to life and to genuinely transforming the world–not conforming to it"
Michael James Miller ‘92
What is the Church to do ?
Oh yes- ditch the doctrine, you know, that one which offends against the primacy of lifestyle; come on Church, get with the 21st century!
Monday, 18 May 2009
He opens with:
"There were two commencement ceremonies at Notre Dame on Sunday. One was the media event in which alleged prestige trumped the truth that you cannot honor a man, president or not, whose policies are unabashedly pro-abortion without honoring abortion.
The other took place at the grotto and on the west mall, untelevised, in the shadow of Rockne Memorial, at which the Mass and prayers, principally the rosary, were offered in reparation for the administration’s unconscionable sleeping with the enemy. And speeches were made, most notably by Father Wilson Miscamble, CSC; Professor David Solomon, director of the Center for Ethics and Culture; Chris Godfrey; and Father John Raphael. The Orestes Brownson Society gave their Bishop D’Arcy award in absentia to Mary Ann Glendon."
Professor McInerny identifies the failure to teach the Catholic Faith faithfully, (in accordance with the Magisterium), as a culture in which dissent spread:
"There grew up the notion that dissent from clear Church teaching was okay. With time, the difference between the moral teaching of dissenters and what was dismissively called "official" teaching blurred. Generations have been given a distorted notion of the faith. It is no wonder that Catholic politicians undertook to support policies in flat contradiction to what they purportedly believed privately. And so it was that on Sunday at Notre Dame faithful Catholics were regarded as dissenters. To such disfavor we have come."
The notion that faithful Catholics can be regarded as 'dissenters' by some, is probably, sadly, not confined to the US.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
If it isn't bad enough that a Catholic university would honour such a president, that it permits a Catholic priest, giving voice to the teaching of the church, to be arrested and removed as if he were a criminal, indicates how worthily Notre Dame has earned its new name-Notre SHAME.
Where was Fr John Jenkins, president of the university, when his brother priest was being carted off by the police?
Thanks to Fr Finigan
Friday, 15 May 2009
In his homily, the Holy Father affirmed that, following the example of Mary, Joseph and Jesus, “we come to appreciate even more fully the sacredness of the family, which in God’s plan is based on the lifelong fidelity of a man and a woman consecrated by the marriage covenant and accepting of God’s gift of new life.
“How much the men and women of our time need to re-appropriate this fundamental truth, which stands at the foundation of society, and how important is the witness of married couples for the formation of sound consciences and the building of a civilisation of love”, he added.
“In the family each person, whether the smallest child or the oldest relative, is valued for himself or herself, and not seen simply as a means to some other end. Here we begin to glimpse something of the essential role of the family as the first building block of a well-ordered and welcoming society. We also come to appreciate, within the wider community, the duty of the State to support families in their mission of education, to protect the institution of the family and its inherent rights, and to ensure that all families can live and flourish in conditions of dignity”.
“In the town of the Annunciation”, the Holy Father proceeded, “our thoughts naturally turn to Mary, ‘full of grace’. … Nazareth reminds us of our need to acknowledge and respect the God-given dignity and proper role of women, as well as their particular charisms and talents. Whether as mothers in families, as a vital presence in the workforce and the institutions of society, or in the particular vocation of following our Lord by the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, women have an indispensable role in creating that ‘human ecology’ which our world, and this land, so urgently needs: a milieu in which children learn to love and to cherish others, to be honest and respectful to all, to practice the virtues of mercy and forgiveness”.
He also noted how from St. Joseph’s “strong and fatherly example” Jesus “learned the virtues of a manly piety, fidelity to one’s word, integrity and hard work. In the carpenter of Nazareth he saw how authority placed at the service of love is infinitely more fruitful than the power which seeks to dominate. How much our world needs the example, guidance and quiet strength of men like Joseph!”
Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, also known as Catholic Marriage Care has said that the Church must begin to think in terms of the' sacrament of relationships' rather than the sacrament of marriage.
From the Catholic Herald:
In a speech to the Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement Mr Prendergast said: "I have been thinking more and more of the sacrament of relationships, rather than the sacrament of marriage, if we are to believe that God's presence is expressed through all committed and loving relationships. "It is my belief that the sacrament is present where you have love, commitment, consent, and covenant," he said.
"On this basis I wonder how it is possible for anyone to make an adverse judgment about such relationships... who can argue with the presence of grace and sacrament therein? Who is in a position to say that such a spiritual and graceful life is only available to heterosexuals?"
Wasn't it Jesus Christ who instituted the seven Sacraments of the Church, the seventh being the Sacrament of Matrimony?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
CCC.1601." The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptised persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."
CCC.2357." Basing itself on Sacred Scripture which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are always intrinsically disordered". They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."
I wonder if Terry needs a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
I see Fr. Richard Aladics (Friends with Christ blog) has a number of posts on Christian marriage; the latest begins ' It is Christ who reveals the truth about marriage'. Do pay a visit to Fr.'s excellent blog.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
The Times has an interesting article today about a new community (five years old) and led by its founder, Sr. Camilla Oberding.
The Community of Our Lady of Walsingham came into being after Sr. Camilla's efforts to find a religious order that would provide what she was looking for, were unsuccessful.
"I wanted the poverty of the Franciscans, the zeal of truth of the Dominicans, and the liturgy of the Benedictines,” she says.
Sr Camilla, commenting on the countercultural significance of entering the religious life, in today's secular world, added:
“It’s absolutely not what you’d ever expect, not a decision you can rationalise or understand… unless, that is, you have faith. But precisely because it’s so radical, it’s also prophetic, and as strong a witness as it ever was – even stronger, perhaps, in today’s culture. Because we’re showing that, in the midst of the consumer society, it’s still possible to live totally for God – and while living totally for God, to be entirely happy and fulfilled.”
Sr Camilla expects two young women to be joining the Order soon, one currently working as an air hostess and the other a nurse. The Community may soon be able to open it's doors to male vocations, too, as Rome has given its blessing.
May God bless The Community of Our Lady of Walsingham with many fruitful vocations.
Friday, 8 May 2009
See my earlier post here about Youth 2000 retreats.
The lads are self funding the journey, so that all sponsor money raised will go directly to Youth 2000. The evangelisation of our young people is a very worthy cause, and the lads would very much appreciate your support.
Please say a prayer for them, and consider making a donation. Their web page linked above, has a donation button so that should make it easy!
Few of us can by now, be unaware of the Westminster 'gravy train', also known as Parliamentary expenses. It is one of the 'perks' that goes with the job of being a Member of Parliament, elected to represent a constituency in the UK.The Daily Telegraph reports extensively and in considerable detail, on how politicians of all parties "exploit the system of parliamentary allowances to subsidise their lifestyles and multiple homes", from information it has received under the Freedom of Information Act.
With one MP claiming for three different properties in one year, another making a £3000 claim days after he had stood down as an MP, a further MP who is reputedly a millionaire, claiming£100,000 to help pay the mortgage interest on one of the seven properties that he owns, it seems that the checks and balances (if they indeed exist) fall somewhere short of public expectation in this area.
It seems to me that the system for claiming Parliamentary expenses is open to abuse; that is to say, human weakness will lead some (in this case quite a few) to make claims which though apparently allowable within a loosely defined system, seem morally indefensible.
Some will say that whatever expenses system is in place, there will always be those who will exploit it to the full.
Quite. Exploitation is a product of the human weakness, or temptation, to do that which is morally wrong. We are all subject to human weakness and temptation which if unchecked, could lead us into all kinds of actions which are morally wrong.
That is why, for instance, a system for providing under-age boys and girls with access to contraception/abortion is such folly.
The FPA, Brooks and other contraception/abortion providers would no doubt claim that they only provide information, so that young people can make informed choices, about what's available to them.
Isn't that what our expenses-loving MP's have done?
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
When we went to confession just before Easter, it was in a rural chapel served from the parish. There were not many there for confession, just us and an elderly gentleman; but the elderly gentleman had a LOUD voice!
We found ourselves putting fingers in our ears, and when that wasn't sufficient, stepping outside the Chapel, to complete our penances!
Whilst I've always believed and understood that the priest is under the seal of confession which he may never break, I've been less clear about how this seal affects the laity; I think the laity may reveal something or things from their own confession, if they wish to.
However I'm sure that could not apply to something accidentally (and unwillingly) overheard from someone else's confession.
So, if in danger of overhearing another's confession, I think the best thing to do is to move away, sharply.
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
The name or names of Catholic Women of the Year are decided by ballot, and my name will go no further, but I'm astonished and deeply touched to have been considered at all. I do not know who proposed my name, but I'd very much like to thank him or her.
Auntie Joanna who, I believe is on the organising committee for this event, has some further information about Catholic Women of the Year.
Monday, 4 May 2009
"are inherent in the very nature of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God." Therefore human rights are not created by governments, but find their "origin in the very structure of man's being."
More here from Catholic Culture.
Sunday, 3 May 2009
Ten years ago,Lacy Dodd a student of Notre Dame Catholic University approached her own Commencement ceremony with some conflicting feelings; at the time she was three months pregnant.
"That March, I had gone—alone—to a local woman’s clinic to take a test. The results were positive, and I was so numb I almost didn’t grasp what the nurse was getting at when she assured me I had “other options.” What did “other options” mean? And what kind of world is it that defines compassion as telling a young woman who has just learned she is carrying life inside her that she has the option to destroy it."
In her confusion and turmoil, Lacy describes how she sought the help of Our Lady:
"Of all women, Our Lady could surely feel pity for an unplanned pregnancy.
In my hour of need, on my knees, I asked Mary for courage and strength. And she did not disappoint."
Here is her moving story,which concludes with this pertinent comment:
"There have been many things written about the honors to be extended to President Obama. I’d like to ask this of Fr. John Jenkins, the Notre Dame president: Who draws support from your decision to honor President Obama—the young, pregnant Notre Dame woman sitting in that graduating class who wants desperately to keep her baby, or the Notre Dame man who believes that the Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is just dining-room talk?"
Thanks to first things
Saturday, 2 May 2009
This is from Austin Ruse, of Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.
We report today on Hillary Clinton’s announcement last week in Congress that the US government will begin a global push for a right to abortion. She also linked family planning with abortion, a clear violation of the Cairo Program for Action.
We also report today on the Senate hearings of Harold Koh to be the top legal adviser at the US State Department. With him in this position, you can count on greater US engagement in the radical global agenda for abortion and homosexual rights.
We chose these two “American” stories because of the impact these two individuals will have all over the world.
Spread the word.
Managing Editor - Piero Tozzi
Assistant Managing Editor - Hannah Russo
Chief Correspondent - Samantha Singson
Contributors - Susan Yoshihara / Katharina Rothweiler
© Copyright 2009 Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.
866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 495, New York, NY 10017
I fear that if Clinton/Obama succeed in persuading the UN to define abortion as a right, that right will trump other rights, such as the right of medical staff to conscientiously withdraw participation in abortion.
Then,what future in healthcare could there be for Catholic medical staff and Catholic hospitals in the US?
Yet another reason (if any more were needed) for the Catholic University of Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation to President Obama to speak at its Commencement, and dispense with the ill conceived notion of conferring an honorary degree on him.