Saturday, 13 December 2014

St Lucy


Couldn't let her feast go by without posting something. She is another of the great Virgin Martyrs of the Church, for whom, regular readers will have probably gathered, I have a particular respect and reverence.

I found this rather charming piece on  American Catholic, as part of their 'Saint of the Day' series, and have reproduced it below.

"Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian and she was executed in Syracuse (Sicily) in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.
One can easily imagine what a young Christian woman had to contend with in pagan Sicily in the year 300. If you have trouble imagining, just glance at today’s pleasure-at-all-costs world and the barriers it presents against leading a good Christian life.
Her friends must have wondered aloud about this hero of Lucy’s, an obscure itinerant preacher in a far-off captive nation that had been destroyed more than 200 years before. Once a carpenter, he had been crucified by the Roman soldiers after his own people turned him over to the Roman authorities. Lucy believed with her whole soul that this man had risen from the dead. Heaven had put a stamp on all he said and did. To give witness to her faith she had made a vow of virginity.
What a hubbub this caused among her pagan friends! The kindlier ones just thought her a little strange. To be pure before marriage was an ancient Roman ideal, rarely found but not to be condemned. To exclude marriage altogether, however, was too much. She must have something sinister to hide, the tongues wagged.
Lucy knew of the heroism of earlier virgin martyrs. She remained faithful to their example and to the example of the carpenter, whom she knew to be the Son of God. She is the patroness of eyesight.


If you are a little girl named Lucy, you need not bite your tongue in disappointment. Your patron is a genuine, authentic heroine, first class, an abiding inspiration for you and for all Christians. The moral courage of the young Sicilian martyr shines forth as a guiding light, just as bright for today’s youth as it was in A.D. 304.

“The Gospel tells us of all that Jesus suffered, of the insults that fell upon him. But, from Bethlehem to Calvary, the brilliance that radiates from his divine purity spread more and more and won over the crowds. So great was the austerity and the enchantment of his conduct.” “So may it be with you, beloved daughters. Blessed be the discretion, the mortifications and the renouncements with which you seek to render this virtue more brilliant.... May your conduct prove to all that chastity is not only a possible virtue but a social virtue, which must be strongly defended through prayer, vigilance and the mortification of the senses” (St. John XXIII, Letter to Women Religious).

Patron Saint of:
Eye disorders"

Sancta Lucia, ora pro nobis

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

St. Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr


As I believe I have said before, I have a lot of time for the canonised virgin martyrs of the Church. I didn't know a lot about today's Saint, Bibiana, so have looked her up on Catholic Online (the text of the entry is as follows):

St. Bibiana, Virgin and Martyr (Feast day - December 2nd) Other than the name, nothing is known for certain about this saint. However, we have the following account from a later tradition.
In the year 363, Julian the Apostate made Apronianus Governor of Rome. St. Bibiana suffered in the persecution started by him. She was the daughter of Christians, Flavian, a Roman knight, and Dafrosa, his wife. Flavian was tortured and sent into exile, where he died of his wounds. Dafrosa was beheaded, and their two daughters, Bibiana and Demetria, were stripped of their possessions and left to suffer poverty. However, they remained in their house, spending their time in fasting and prayer.
Apronianus, seeing that hunger and want had no effect upon them, summoned them. Demetria, after confessing her Faith, fell dead at the feet of the tyrant. St. Bibiana was reserved for greater sufferings. She was placed in the hands of a wicked woman called Rufina, who in vain endeavored to seduce her. She used blows as well as persuasion, but the Christian virgin remained faithful.
Enraged at the constancy of this saintly virgin, Apronianus ordered her to be tied to a pillar and beaten with scourges, laden with lead plummets, until she expired. The saint endured the torments with joy, and died under the blows inflicted by the hands of the executioner.

Ora pro nobis 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Excellent piece by Michael Voris...and some personal thoughts

Lately, there seems to have been more than a distinct whiff of hysteria among on the part of some traditional Catholics stemming from concerns over recent events and news from Rome. I was therefore very pleased to listen to this very sound and sensible piece by Michael Voris, which I recommend to you (there is an advert for a retreat at the start, and Michael begins speaking at around 0.40).

From a personal viewpoint, yes, I do have concerns about some of the things the Holy Father says. We all know how the media and others (including some who profess to be Catholics) love to pounce on anything that they can spin and twist to suggest that the Church is abandoning her doctrines and succumbing to the position of the World (as in the Devil, the World and the Flesh). We saw this a number of times with Pope Benedict, where careful traps were laid to appeal to his academic background and fondness for intellectual debate, and then attempt to present what was intended as a hypothetical scenario for analysis as a generalised position, and even as a new doctrine. If this can be done with the most careful and thoughtful of popes, it is inevitable that a lot of rubbish will be said about a pope who is given to off the cuff remarks and small talk.

I have not quite worked out why the Holy Spirit has given us Pope Francis, but then, as my old school chaplain often used to say, "I don't know, because I'm not God". It is clear that the Holy Father is trying to make the Church more welcoming, and perhaps overcome some of the 'bogeyman' that have been attributed to her, particularly following the various scandals that have emerged in recent years, concerning rogue clergy, child abuse and so on. Perhaps he is also trying to combat the influence of secularism and show that Catholicism is still relevant today, and not some fuddy-duddy relic of the Middle Ages, and as a consequence increase popular interest in the Faith as a form of proto-evangelism. Perhaps, not beyond possibility with a Jesuit, he is trying to open up controversy in order to provoke a renewal in catechesis and a revival of orthodoxy among the laity, who are apt to react when they are aware that things have shifted from the status quo of the past. Perhaps there is some other purpose...

What we do need is to recognise that the Holy Spirit is with us, and that the Church has endured crises in the past and survived. We know that there have been good and bad popes through history, and yet the papacy has survived and is still doing its job. We need to recognise errors where these occur, and do what we can to address them, and also to recognise positives and potential for spreading the Faith and saving souls. We need to guard against rumour and conjecture, which are fertile ground for the Father of Lies, who is constantly trying to provoke division and draw us away from God. Above all we must continue to PRAY - for the Church, for the Pope and clergy, and for ourselves.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

More from Henry V - How to Deliver a Political Challenge

Referring to my previous post and the video from Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V, here is another from the same film, in which Brian Blessed, as Exeter, delivers the ultimatum to the King of France and the Dauphin in suitably spirited manner - shame we don't see more of this sort of thing in Parliament...or for that matter, synods.

Feast of Ss. Crispin and Crispinian - Agincourt Day

I see that Zephyrinus has beaten me to posting about today's feast, and the 599th. anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.

I recommend Zephy's excellent post, and will not try to replicate the details he has included. I will, however, supplement it with a bit about the good Saint (or in fact, Saints) whose martyrdom this day commemorates - I am used to hearing the names (not least through Shakespeare's Henry V), but hadn't really explored the Saints themselves. Here is a piece from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Bossche Saints Crispin and Crispinian.jpg
Martyrdom of Ss. Crispin and Crispinian by Aert Van den Bossche

"Saints Crispin and Crispinian are the Christian patron saints of cobblers, curriers, tanners, and leather workers. Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, ending up at Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls whilst making shoes by night.
Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and thrown into the river with millstones around their necks. Though they survived, they were beheaded by the Emperor c. 286.
An alternative account gives them to be sons of a noble Romano-Briton family which lived at Canterbury, following their father's murder for displeasing the Roman Emperor. As they were approaching maturity their mother sent them to London to seek apprenticeship and to avoid coming to the attention of their father's killer. Travelling there, the brothers came across a shoemaker's workshop at Faversham and decided to travel no further and stayed in Faversham where there is a plaque commemorating their association with the town. They are also commemorated in the name of the ancient pub "Crispin and Crispianus" at Strood. This account fails to explain how the brothers came to be venerated and martyred.
The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is 25 October. Although this feast was removed from the Roman Catholic Church's universal liturgical calendar following the Second Vatican Council, the two saints are still commemorated on that day in the most recent edition of the Roman Church's martyrology.
Saint Crispin is often associated with the Battle of Agincourt since the battle was fought on Saint Crispin's Day, and has been immortalised by Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day Speech from his play Henry V."

Zephyrinus has also included a video of the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V: he uses the version from Sir Laurence Olivier's 1944 film, which is very much of its time, being made during WWII, I personally prefer this more naturally delivered version by Kenneth Brannagh in his 1989 film of the play.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

More Betjeman - 'Margate, 1940'

Further to my last post, here is another poem by John Betjeman, which I couldn't resist putting up. In the last week, there has been much discussion about the concept of 'Britishness', which we are now supposed to teach. This poem's charming description of old-fashioned seaside holidays in the years between the World Wars as something worth fighting for, seems to fit well with the idea. I also like the subtle emphasis on the family. The location, Margate, is also very apt, as the new Parish Priest of that town seems to be settling in very well, and I am sure he will do great things for the parish.


From out The Queen's Highcliffe for weeks at a stretch
I watched how the mower evaded the vetch,
So that over the putting-course rashes were seen
Of pink and of yellow among the burnt green.

How restful to putt, when the strains of a bandAnnounced a thé dansant was on at The Grand,
While over the privet, comminglingly clear,
I heard lesser Co-Optimists down by the pier.How lightly municipal, meltingly tarr'd,
Were the walks through the lawns by the Queen's Promenade
As soft over Cliftonville languished the light
Down Harold Road, Norfolk Road, into the night.

Oh! then what a pleasure to see the ground floorWith tables for two laid as tables for four,
And bottles of sauce and
Kia-Ora and squash
Awaiting their owners who'd gone up to wash -Who had gone up to wash the ozone from their skins
The sand from their legs and the rock from their chins,
To prepare for an evening of dancing and cards
And forget the sea-breeze on the dry promenades.

From third floor and fourth floor the children looked downUpon ribbons of light in the salt-scented town;
And drowning the trams roared the sound of the sea
As it washed in the shingle the scraps of their tea.

Beside The Queen's Highcliffe now rank grows the vetch,
Now dark is the terrace, a storm-battered stretch;
And I think, as the fairy-lit sights I recall,
It is those we are fighting for, foremost of all.

Queen's Highcliffe Hotel, Margate

Troops at Margate Station, WWII


Fairy-lit sights - Fr. Tim's photo of Margate sea-front


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thoughts on Betjeman - recalling happier times

John Betjeman in a typical setting

I have recently remembered an old poem by John Betjeman, in which he reminisces about the glories, as he perceived them, of the Anglo-Catholic movement, presumably in the early 20th. Century. It is entitles 'Anglo-Catholic Congress Congresses'.

With a few changes of words, it would be very easy to adapt this poem to express how I guess many of the former TLM community of Blackfen feel, now that this Liturgy, and the social life that existed around it (good company and a cup of tea or a nice pint in the social club after Mass, children playing in the garden while their parents chatted, a chance for the P.P. to meet his flock...etc.), are no longer extant. I leave it to my readers to select the exact format of the rewording.

Interestingly, when I searched for the poem online, I noticed that the great Fr. Hunwicke had posted about it earlier in the year, and trust that he will not mind me cutting and pasting the text from his blog - thank you for saving me a lot of typing, Father.

We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
   Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
   And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
   With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
   On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
   A game of Grandmother's steps on the vicarage grass -
   "Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass."

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
  When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
   The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
   And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
   The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
   The bells and banners - those were the waking days
    When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.


2011 12 25_0029
Midnight Mass at Blackfen - Photo by Mulier Fortis
Just included this picture from The Hermeneutic of Continuity because it's delightful - I believe it's from a Family Day at Our Lady of the Rosary

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