Driving in France has been pretty well OK, so far. The roads are uncongested mostly, the weather has been sunny and clear, I've remembered to stay on the right and negotiate roundabouts in anti-clockwise fashion,
and my daughter, Rosie, checks the rear window when I need to reverse. This is because I'm driving a campervan which is a bit bigger than a minibus and a bit higher, too. And, of course, I've been relying heavily on the satnav to direct us from A to B. It works a treat- tap in your destination and away you go with that authoritative voice instructing every manoevre you need to make.
Our route the other day, took us through Rouen; now, our elder son, Phil, a keen cyclist, has travelled France a couple of times, and he advised that Rouen was a difficult city to get through. This was owing to the difficulty he had in departing Rouen without having to use a motorway, which being a cyclist, he couldn't do.
Satnav in hand, I waved his concerns away...
In the event, the satnav took us through a long tunnel in, or near, the centre of Rouen. Then on a dual carriageway, it instructed us to take the underpass, on the left. So we did. It would have been fine, only half way down the slip road to the underpass, I realised that the clearance wasn't high enough for the campervan!
There was no way out but back the way we came. The driver behind me wasn't happy. She waved her arms about, but thankfully, reversed back up on to the dual carriageway fairly quickly. I followed suit (without the arm waving). Rosie was glued to the rear window, warning me about any possible cars, pedestrians, cyclists, dogs, concrete barriers and the like.
There seemed to be several of these underpasses on this stretch of dual carriageway, but we thought better of attempting one again. Fortunately, the satnav got the message and eventually settled on an alternative route, and so we departed Rouen, unscathed , if somewhat chastened!
Sorry I haven't been posting for a while, we were very busy preparing for a camping trip -to France.
We arrived on Monday, and though the first campsite had wifi, I was just too tired to update. Since then it's been a question of hoping that the next campsite would have internet access and today we were in good luck!
A week without the internet/TV/radio/newspapers-(in English) is an interesting experience- being 'shut off' from news of what's going on in the world creates something of a calm silence in which recollection and reflection is possible.
How far do things have to go before people understand that the Catholic Church can not be what it is not?
Christ does not contradict Himself.
Why would a spokesman for the Belgian Conference of Bishops
( or indeed any other Catholic spokesman ) be contradicting Him?
The motion of the debate will be: “Celibacy should no longer be a compulsory requirement for the Roman Catholic priesthood.”
For the motion:
Prof. Tina Beattie, Helena Kennedy QC, Fr. John McGowan OCD.
Against the motion:
Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham, Jack Valero, co-ordinator of Catholic Voices,
Fr. Stephen Wang, Dean of Studies at Allen Hall.
The event, which will take place two days before the UK visit of the Holy Father, will be hosted at at the Odeon West End Cinema in Leicester Square, London, and will follow a screening of Irish feature film Conspiracy of Silence, about a priest who wishes to marry.
Could be an interesting night, I think.
As recently as last month, the Holy Father responded to a question about the depth and meaning of ecclesiastical celibacy, during the Vigil on the Occasion of the International Meeting of Priests, at the close of the Year for Priests.
There is too much to reproduce here, but I include this quotation:
One great problem of Christianity in today's world is that it does not think anymore of the future of God. The present of this world alone seems sufficient. We want to have only this world, to live only in this world. So we close the doors to the true greatness of our existence. The meaning of celibacy as an anticipation of the future is to open these doors, to make the world greater, to show the reality of the future that should be lived by us already as present. Living, then, as a testimony of faith: we truly believe that God exists, that God enters into my life, and that I can found my life on Christ, on the future life. And now we know the worldly criticism of which you spoke. It is true that for the agnostic world, the world in which God does not enter, celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows exactly that God is considered and experienced as reality. With the eschatological dimension of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the reality of our time.
The full text of the Holy Father's answer is here, (scroll down to the question from Europe).
I draw your attention to an interesting post by Splintered Sunrise which I think he has based upon a comment(scroll to no.22) left in his combox.
Here's the first part:
"Today I have a little morsel that some of you may find tasty. To begin with, let’s introduce our characters. X is a well-known Catholic intellectual with a track record of involvement in Hare Brained Schemes. Y is a participant in X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme. Z is a pillar of the community who heads a Prominent Organisation that’s sponsoring X’s latest Hare Brained Scheme.
Let’s say for talk’s sake that X has rather austere views on the wearing of miraculous medals. After all, they spoil the line of your open-necked shirt, and no fashionable man-about-town should be seen wearing one. In fact, X has an aversion to miraculous medals almost as strong as his aversion to hormonal women.
Let’s say that a training event is being held for the Hare Brained Scheme. At this event X notices that one of his protégés, Y, is wearing a miraculous medal. Being an important man and under a lot of pressure, X barks out “Take that miraculous medal off, it makes you look like a saddo” or words to that effect. But the trouble is that Y is a deeply religious person with a fierce attachment to this miraculous medal, and finds X’s behaviour very distressing. Moreover, some of the other people present are upset by X’s outburst."
You can read the rest here... and of course, it may all be speculative nonsense.... I hope so.
But what if it isn't?
I'll be attending a family wedding shortly, which I'm really looking forward to.It'll be lovely to see everyone again and catch up on family news. Did I mention that one of my nieces is a 'Catholic Voice'?
Fr. John Boyle has tagged me for Mulier Fortis's meme (have I got that right?), at any rate I've to say what are my three favourite prayers, and why.
These are Mulier's rules which also have to be shown:
"Name your three most favorite prayers, and explain why they're your favorites. Then tag five bloggers - give them a link, and then go and tell them they have been tagged. Finally, tell the person who tagged you that you've completed the meme... The Liturgy and the Sacraments are off limits here. I'm more interested in people's favorite devotional prayers."
My favourite prayers are;
The Rosary- we usually say five decades at a time. I love this prayer, it's the one Our Lady asked for
(at Fatima and elsewhere), so I have great confidence in it.
A 'one line' prayer- 'O Sacred Heart of Jesus I place all my trust in Thee.' When the going is very busy or demanding, this simple act of trust in the Lord is both all I can manage and all that I need to do.
Prayer for the Holy Souls- 'Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen'.
Since my parents deaths, five, and nearly sixteen years ago, I have appreciated more deeply the importance of praying for the souls of the dead, those of my parents, others known to me, and those who have no-one to pray for them.
If elements of the mainstream media are seeking to undermine the historic visit of the Holy Father to the UK in September, they could do worse than check out the 'Appeal to Pope Benedict XV1' - written by
Professor Tina 'I am We Are Church' Beattie.
Professor Beattie has written this 'appeal' in response to a request from the Tablet which asked for prominent Catholics to record what they would say to the Pope, if they had a private audience with him., Beattie carefully explains the real point of her 'appeal ':
"The real problem is not the sins of individual priests, but the structures of sin which have infected the institutions and governance of the Church. We do not want you to impose ever more punitive restrictions and condemnations on abusive priests, unless you are also willing to acknowledge and repent of the sins that go to the highest levels of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and to take accompanying action by way of a thorough-going overhaul of the Church's institutions and structures to initiate a new era of transparency, democratic participation, accountability and inclusivity - including the full inclusion of women in the sacramental, doctrinal and institutional life of the Church."
In other words, Beattie and her fellow travellers see the Church as structurallysinful,because there are no women priests, bishops or popes; compared with which 'structural sin', the evil abuse of children by predators in the priesthood is somewhere much further down the 'We Are Church' scale of iniquity.
How can Beattie bear to remain in a Church which she regards as 'structurally sinful'? Wouldn't she be more at home in the 'structurally virtuous' Anglican Communion?
Sadly Professor Beattie, the sort of prominent Catholic whose views the Tablet would canvass, ((incidentally, I see that both Prof. Beattie and Catherine Pepinster, Editor of the Tablet, are Directors of the Tablet Trust), has probably contributed more to anti-Catholic media biases, than to the sincere, open hearted welcome that ordinary Catholics want to give The Holy Father.
"Every Ofsted Inspection school should have a useless Ofsted Inspector "useless teacher" so children can learn to deal with incompetent people in authority, the outgoing chairman of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has claimed.
Ms Atkins argued that poor Inspectors teachers should not be sacked, as Ofsted Inspections schools "need to reflect society".
She told The Sunday Times: "It's about learning how to identify good role models. One really good thing about primary school is that every teacher kid learns how to deal with a really ---- inspector teacher."
She continued: "I would not remove every single useless Ofsted Inspector teacher because every grown-up in a workplace needs to learn to deal with the moron who sits four desks down without lamping them and to deal with authority that's useless.
"I'd like to keep the number low, but if every Inspection Team primary school has one pretty naff Inspector teacher, this helps kids realise that even if you know the quality of authority is not good, you have to learn how to play it."
"For something has gone awry with the other crucial purpose of Catholic schools: faith formation. Each year, parents and parish priests watch as substantial numbers of young Catholics abandon Mass attendance once they are free to do so. Indeed, so common is the trend that some see the rite of Confirmation not as a rite of emerging adult faith, but as a rite of exit...
Cynics might suggest that young people, armed with the tools of enquiry acquired through liberal education curricula, have used them to dismantle their own faith. What is apparent is that many young people leave the practice of religion behind when they leave the parental nest. A combination of poor liturgies, uninspiring religious formation and the lure of new experiences, especially sexual ones, don’t encourage Mass attendance...
Bishops have been able to comfort themselves that a significant number of lapsed Catholics will return, particularly when they become parents themselves and reconsider their values. But as people marry and have children later in life, lapsing lasts longer. And then there are those who never return. The disaffection of young educated Catholics is a problem that needs considering by Bishop Devine’s fellow hierarchs on both sides of the border. It is a challenge for others too, not least parents, priests and those responsible for catechetical formation in schools and parishes. It is also a challenge to university chaplains to help young people make sense of Catholicism at a time when they are faced with competing rival views of what makes for human fulfilment and happiness."
Given the culture of dissent which is apparent in the Tablet publication as it is in many parts of Catholic Education, the CES could of course point out that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Fr. Ray Blake draws our attention to the prospect of some Liturgical Entertainment due to take place at the Hyde Park venue during the Holy Father's visit. Fr. quotes from information received from his diocesan visit co-ordinator:
"The Park [Hyde Park] will open from 2pm and liturgical entertainment will be running through the afternoon - dance acts, videos etc (it promises to be an enjoyable event). The Pope will arrive to conclude the prayer vigil and benediction and the whole event will be finished by 9.00pm. I am told that the Pope will be there for the latter half of the event."
Maybe the Holy Father will be presented with this kind of enjoyable 'liturgical' entertainment :
Or maybe not..
We sincerely hope not.
That is, not as if it were liturgical.
I was intrigued by the reported statement of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, regarding the visit of the Holy Father in September. The Daily Telegraph reports:
"...the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, insisted that these events are not just for Roman Catholics, even though parishes are organising tickets for the "pilgrim journey". He said: "These are events to which any person is welcome. All they need to do is contact their local Catholic parish."
As far as I know, the availability of tickets to the locations visited by the Pope is pretty limited. One or two tickets per parish seems to be how it's working out.
Will non-Catholic pilgrims take up the Archbishop's kind invitation? If so, I'd quite like to know where the tickets are coming from....
"We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions, and particularly in our doubts; but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us lights and directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will." St. Alphonsus Liguori
One of my Lenten observances this year was to try to spend daily time with some good quality spiritual reading. I was fortunate in finding plenty in the lending bookshelf of a local Catholic church, and took home 'The Warfare of the Soul' by Shirley Hughson, who was I think, an Anglican priest of the Order of the Holy Cross.
'The Warfare' is a gem of a book which has shone (and continues to) a bright light into the state of my spiritual life, and my participation in the war against evil.
It has increased my self knowlege in terms of habitual faults, qualities, traits, tendencies, weak areas which need to be strengthened and shown me how with the help of God, to resist temptation to sin, especially habitual sin.
There is a wonderful section on temptation from which I quote a short piece:
".....our vigilance must be especially directed against the temptations to which we have already yielded.When a sin has once found entrance, it is easy for it to enter again, not only because experience of the sin itself makes it attractive, but because psychologically it is easy to do the thing we have done before............similarly we must guard the particular faculty that we find has led us into sin. Is it pride of intellect, the desire to show what little we know, the instinctive tendency to monopolize conversation, or to instruct and correct others? Or is it a weakness that has its seat in our affections, a tendency to condone sin in those we love, or a critical spirit against those for whom we have no natural affinity? Or perhaps it is a sin of speech; the unkind word we so easily speak, the idle boast of our own achievements......"
Anyone interested in reading this wonderful book can do so online here or buy your own copy here
Most UK readers will have heard of the Government's new idea for sampling the views of the public regarding legislation which is undesirable or even unnecessary. The idea is for members of the public to indicate which law they would like to see repealed.
I had a look, and found that a brave soul,under the pseudonym 'onetimothyfour', has suggested the repeal of the 1967 Abortion Act which, as we know, has led to millions of abortions in the UK, and has been copied elsewhere in the world, paving the way for millions more.
"Although brought in allegedly to remove the scourge of back street abortionists, it has in fact been routinely abused such that abortion on demand, for reasons of convenience and very minor disability are de facto routine"
There is a facility for comments on this webpage, sadly most of which are completely against the notion of any repeal, or partial repeal of the 1967 Abortion Act.
I am not sure how seriously that the government would take this, but, it is an opportunity get some attention focused on abortion and refute some of the unfounded claims that pro-abortionists frequently make.
So, I encourage you to follow the link above to the Repeal the 1967 Abortion Act page, and show your support!
(You will have to register to make a comment but it only takes a moment.)
Colin Hall, Lord Mayor of Leicester, banned the saying of prayers before council meetings calling it "outdated, unnecessary and intrusive". Perhaps he did so on the advice of his Humanist Chaplain, Alan Hayes, who is president of Leicester Secular Society and a trustee of the British Humanist Association,
whose website describes prayers before council meetings as "divisive and likely to exclude those of other beliefs."
Perhaps the mayor should worry less about Christian prayers before meetings, which councillors may choose to attend/not attend, and concern himself more with sartorial propriety, or, to be blunt, keeping his trousers on, especially in the presence of young and impressionable children!