The Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints
I hope there's room for me.

Welcome all - especially Mancunians.

Hello anybody lost in the blogosphere. Welcome to the ruminations of a politically left of centre, Man United supporting, blues loving, history-fixated, Catholic wanderer. Be warned, I am a bit of a curmudgeon.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Hail to the chef: cooking canaries.

As a former chef, I have lots of respect for Delia Smith; I have even attended a day of Recollection that she gave. So we share the three 'f's - food, faith and football.
Your team have played a treat but we took them at Carrow Road today. Best of luck for the rest of the season but you've got to love the old guys: Giggs and Scholes, still doing the business after all these years

A clarification from Fr Chadwick.

I am grateful to Fr Chadwick, a priest of the Traditional Anglican Communion, for his clarification and comment on his 'English Catholic' blog:

President Obama gives up the Catholic Church for Lent

This is a very interesting  article by Cardinal George and, in the light of what happened with Catholic adoption agencies here, who can doubt his concerns?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

God in the streets of New York City

Watch this. Stunning.

So, am I wrong about Archbishop Hepworth?

I have just been directed to a post by an Australian priest, Fr Fleming, who disagrees with a comment I made on the site of Fr Finnegan ( which was copied to the 'English Catholic' ( ) for comments.

Identifying me, incorrectly, as Paul Donovan, Fr Fleming insists I am wrong when it comes to Archbishop Hepworth (Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion) and that he has not refused to enter the Catholic Church as a layman, given the difficulties of his position as a former Roman Catholic Priest with an irregular marriage situation, but is continuing to consider his decision, commenting:

"Archbishop Hepworth has not rejected Rome’s judgement and nor has he refused to return to the Catholic Church. I do not know where Paul has got this from, but he is quite wrong."

My comment was based upon the remarks made by +Hepworth himself when he wrote that he intended to remain the Bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia (retaining oversight in Japan) and the Primate of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada. I would assume that was a decision to not return to the Roman Catholic Church.

If I am incorrect, I apologise, but it is difficult to know what else can be meant by Archbishop Hepworth's own statements.

If I may say so, Fr Chadwick's added comment is unfair :

"We need a reaction against the prevailing wisdom that would have Archbishop Hepworth go down in history as a fraud, a madman or whatever. More reactions like that of Fr Fleming would be welcome, to show that some do care."

I have not claimed he is a fraud or a madman, I have simply expressed some upset based upon his own comments. I both care about his situation and pray for him.

Perhaps Fr Fleming could clear up the confusion for those of us who are suffering it?

Brilliant article on becoming a Catholic

I have just read this brilliant article which is as good as any on this issue that I have read:

As someone involved with the Travelling community over many years, I am used to those converted to one of the 'Gypsy churches' trying to give me a hard time and sending me Videos, DVDs and tapes of anti-Catholic diatribe.

One of my favourites included a pastor reading from the 'up to date Catholic Catechism' (it wasn't) to prove that we worshipped idols. The problem was that even the version he was reading clearly states that we cannot worship statues, etc. because "they have eyes, but they cannot see, ears but they cannot hear, lips but they cannot speaking, with their mouths...". I am sure you get the picture. The problem is that he ignored what it said and nobody challenged him, not least because most of them couldn't read.

He also tried to use it to prove that Catholics offered sacrifices despite them being replaced by the one sacrifice of Christ. Hilariously, he clearly read out the teaching that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the "one, unrepeatable Sacrifice of Christ" and then said "there you are, they say it themselves - they offer new sacrifices."

Bizarre but not as bizarre as once devout Catholics telling me that when they were Catholics they worshipped statues; when I enquired as to when they had done this, given the fact that, prior to conversion, they had argued that they had never done such a thing, I was met with silence.

The funniest book I received is called "Far from Rome and close to God" which purports to give accounts of former Catholic priests converting to their brand of Christianity. Read it and you find a mix of real conversions, made up stories, some rather kind men who are gracious about their former Catholic community, a priest who had been involved in astrology (not a Catholic thing at all), long dead pastors and, most tellingly, the account of a Roman Catholic Benedictine priest from Manchester who not only didn't leave but was a teacher at my old school and whose Requiem Mass in 1970 was celebrated by the Bishop as he was in good standing with the Church.

In the end, when it comes to the ranting, I learned what is described in one part of the article - I listen, have a cup of tea and, when people are ready to chat, we do.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I am not Paul Donovan (not exactly a Spartacus moment).

Dear all,

it has been drawn to my attention that I have been misidentified as journalist Paul Donovan. Sadly not; whilst I follow his blog, I make no claim to share his skills as a commentator or writer.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

"When you fast, do not put on a gloomy look.." I'll try Lord, I'll really try.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Season of Lent; for those of us who take these Seasons seriously, it is a time to take a look at how we live our lives as Christians and how much we have allowed ourselves to become enslaved by our habits, our greed and our self-involvement. We are encouraged to give something up and pray more deeply.

The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday always seems to stand in contradiction to what we, especially as Catholics, receive - the priest places ashes on our foreheads too remind us that we live a passing life in this world ("Remember man that thou are dust and to dust thou shall return") and to live it wisely ("Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel") and encourages us not to wipe them off.

Now, as I have heard mentioned many times, surely Jesus urges us not to be like the hypocrites who stand on street corners, looking gloomy and pulling long faces so people know we are fasting. Indeed, He tells us:"...when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no-one will know that you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret." So, why do we keep the ashes on our head?

The answer lies in the response of those who see us; in the time of Christ, the 'outwardly' religious would make a big show of their prayers and their fasting, knowing that it would invite compliments and sympathy. The word hypocrite here takes us back to its original meaning of 'actor': those acting in such a way were playing a role or a part and, like actors throughout time, seeking approbation and applause. It has now come to mean someone who is a liar

If we wear ashes on our heads in public, it draws comment of misunderstanding -"you've got something on your head, mate", "have you hurt yourself?" or abuse. Wearing ashes is a sign of contradiction to the world, as much a contradiction as in the times of Christ was that of praying and fasting privately.

More than that, it is an encouragement to others in their own faith - in a world where wearing a crucifix in a care home is considered a 'health and safety issue' or offering a prayer for someone is a reason for being disciplined, a quiet public witness is not a bad thing.

As for the fasting and (on Ash Wednesday and Fridays) abstaining from meat, that should be done in good humour and without drawing attention to ourselves - as far as possible, that is. I will be honest, I am a terrible faster: from the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night, I am starving - it is ridiculous I know. I can go all day without eating normally but once it is required, it really bothers me. Weird hey? Why do we fast? That brings me back to the beginning of this post: it is a time to take a look at how we live our lives as Christians and how much we have allowed ourselves to become enslaved by our habits, our greed and our self-involvement.

We follow the example of our Saviour who, before He began His mission, fasted for 40 days and nights to face all that the devil could throw at Him in His weakened state, and was thus strengthened. We fast and sacrifice so that we may be strengthened to face the trials and temptations of life.

However, we don't only 'give something up', we also use the time to strengthen our prayer lives and to, as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, "go into your private room and, when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place..." We need a period of time to refuel, to spiritually reconnect with the deepest parts of our being where only we know ourselves and God knows who we truly are. This is what some call the 'inner tabernacle' which we need to spend time reflecting upon so we might assess our lives and turn to God for His Grace.

So - fasting and prayer are part of Lent. So is undertaking charitable acts - be it by donating what is saved by our fasting to a good cause or by giving of the time we have saved by not watching the telly as much or whatever. We do it quietly, as the gospel reminds us "when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing" - or, put as my grandma would have said, "giving has no bells."

Lent can seem very tough and without much light, but it needn't has  the joy of Spring flowers growing, one using time more creatively, losing weight (depending on what we may have given up) and, most wonderfully of all, the knowledge that if we do it well, "your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you."

Now, that's worth ash on the head.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dawkins's Darwinistic dumb moment.

Amazing, I have just heard Richard Dawkins stumbling to answer Giles Fraser when he was asked for the full title of Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species. It wouldn't matter if Professor Dawkins hadn't just said "of course I do" to the question and, far more importantly, is claiming that the fact that a large number of self-identifying Christians in an Opinion Poll commissioned by the "Richard Dawkins Foundation" couldn't name the first book of the New Testament was one of the proofs they weren't really Christian. I suppose that means Professor Dawkins isn't really a Darwinist.
Such pompous nonsense.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Second Wave.

I thought those who have been wondering what is happening with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham might be interested in this blogpost:

In the bleak......

I am sat in the coldest house I have lived in, with 200 year old original sash windows (ie, cold wind permitters), the worst heating system money can buy and wondering why I always say - "this time next year, it'll be different", when it never is?
What keeps me going is the beautiful, remote location, the proximity of a Carmel, the fact that my garden is fantastic, the fields around great for the dog, the lack of burglaries (if the buggers can find me, they can take what they want), the wonder of Spring, Summer and Autumn. Not only that, as a council estate boy, I love the fact that I live in a turretted cottage. When people ask me if it is a 'real' turret, I always respond, "Why, what's yours like?"
There are loads of drawbacks, particularly at the moment with everything creaking, leaking and absolutely freezing, but I will sit in front of the log fire with my dog and thank my lucky stars for great mercies.

Which Republican candidate would I vote for...if I had to?

So, who would you vote for in the Republican nomination contest? Fair enough, if you aren't American it might not seem important but, just for fun, how would we decide?

I am not a Republican by any means although I would have been in the days of Abraham Lincoln, but I could imagine a situation where, in the less structurally obvious ideological world of American party politics (left-wing Republicans/conservative Democrats), I could vote for a candidate in Republican attire.

So, Gingrich, Romney, Paul or Santorum?

Well, Newt Gingrich is without question the most ideologically conservative of the candidates and, given the complete hypocricy of his attempt to unseat Bill Clinton for his extra-marital dealings with Monica Lewinsky (at the time, Speaker Gingrich was conducting an affair behind the back of his wife), the most odious. Also, his anti-healthcare rhetoric and not too veiled use of 'dog whistle' slogans such as 'foodstamp president' in reference to Obama is the cheap politics of the past. Of course, it is also completely dishonest, as more people were on foodstamps under George W. Bush. On the plus side, he is admirable in being the only candidate pointing out the inhumanity of forcibly removing longstanding residents of the USA who initially arrived as illegal immigrants from (mainly) Mexico. He claims to be a reformed character (he left both of his former wives whilst they were facing major health problems) and, as a Christian, l am all in favour of forgiveness. Still, not the man I would vote for.

Ron Paul? I am opposed to the utilitarianism that lies behind his libertarian views. Whilst I admire his bravery concerning opposing some of the more restrictive legislation that has been brought in since September 11th and his (apparent) opposition to the death penalty, his intention of sweeping away large amounts of government support for the weakest in society puts me firmly against him.

Mitt Romney? Here we have the most liberal of the choices - or is he? His struggles to deny his past are painful to watch and completely dishonest. His attempt to explain away his 'pro-choice' position whilst Governor of Massachusetts are disingenuous at best. It seems he changed his views when he changed his electorate. Also, thinking it is fair to only pay 15% tax on your massive salary when others have to pay over 30% speaks to the character of the man. So, not Mitt.

Finally, we have Rick Santorum. He is an admirable enough man in terms of the care he has for his family, particularly his poorly daughter (she lives with the genetic condition Trisomy 18), but he is inconsistent in his refusal to see that poorer families need an affordable healthcare system for families with similar health challenges. He has also made the ludicrous claim that in places with government funded health systems (Canada, UK, etc), his daughter would have been left to die as she would offer nothing to the economy. This is the worst sort of scaremongering and is completely without evidence. He is 'pro-life' but in favour of the death penalty - what of the consistent thread of life?

He is different in the sense that he is not as opposed to labour unions as the other candidates but that is, shall we say, a rather nuanced 'pro'. Most Pennsylvania union people express incredulity at this but the perception pushed by other candidates might help him with the old Reagan Democrat blue collar vote in some Mid West states.

So, where does this leave me? If I had to vote for one of them it would probably be Rick Santorum, but it would be with one arm up my back and a peg on my nose. As it is, I am British so it is academic.

What would you do? No abstentions allowed.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Welcome home Deborah.

Sometime ago, with no malice intended, I posted a blog that caused deep offence to several people which I should have forseen given that I had posted due to the offence I had felt about certain issues.
One of the people I offended was Deborah Gyapong, a Canadian journalist who writes about religious matters. I have read much of what she has written and, whilst not always agreeing with her, have always enjoyed her passion and her dedication. She has recently posted that, along with her traditional Anglican community, she is to be received into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15th. I hope and pray that they soon may be a part of an Ordinariate parish in Canada and that God bless her in her journey ahead.
John Henry Newman used to protest that he no longer liked his hymn 'Lead, kindly light' as he had left the gloom and returned home to the Catholic Church. To Deborah I would say, through all your travails, you have not allowed the gloom to envelope you and and have kept your eye fixed on deciding what the Lord was calling you (hopefully with your community) to do. So, be assured, as you take that 'one step enough', one Catholic in the UK will have you in his prayers.

Friday, 3 February 2012

John Terry loses the England captaincy (part 2)

It has just been announced that John Terry is being stripped of the England captaincy until the July court case. I am amazed it has taken them so long and, whilst I believe in innocence until being proven guilty, he has enough of a history of being (how can I delicately put it) at the periphery of some rather dubious 'fundraising' activity, which included the apparent misuse of his England captaincy role.
I hope common sense prevails and he be kept from the role for good now. Mind you,that would be uncommon sense for the FA.

One more try.

I kind of gave up on blogging a bit back because every time I produced a blog, the bloody site wouldn't save it. I have lost quite a lot of work and, having expressed my opinion to my computer in rather graphic terms, I had a strop. Anyway, time to try again.