Saturday, 31 May 2008

Bishop O'Donoghue on the HFE Bill

This is a important piece of news which I have missed. However as this statement from Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster is of great significance, I shall post it here.

Listening to the second reading and debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in the House of Commons, I was saddened beyond measure. It has been said that the House of Commons is at its best when debating issues of conscience, but do I detect here a growing intolerance to listening to religious or ethical considerations? Again and again the justification given to experimenting on embryonic human beings or killing the unborn was an appeal to 'science' or 'scientific research' as if it were the only source of objective, rational knowledge. It seems that millennia of ethical and religious thought are lightly dismissed as subjective and discredited.

In contrast to the language of utilitarianism in the parliamentary debate that sought to justify the exploitation of the unborn for our economic and medical gain there arises in my heart the words of Scripture that speak prophetically of the dignity of the unborn child:

'You created my inmost self,
Knit me together in my mother's womb.
For so many marvels I thank you;
A wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.
...Your eyes could see my embryo.' (Psalm 139:13-14, 16).

Every embryonic human person is a wonder of creation, who possesses the inherent right to realise his or her potential for creativity, love, self-sacrifice, and joy. However, our society has so cheapened and violated human life that it does not hear or understand the language of wonder about the unborn.

A dangerous myth appears to be growing that the only knowledge that can inform policy- making is scientific research. Discourse and reason are impoverished when science is used to exclude other branches of knowledge, such as reasoning based on natural law.

Not only this, but we witnessed a flawed, selective approach to science, with the House choosing to ignore the hard scientific evidence provided by adult and umbilical cord stem cell research, that proves that unethical research on embryonic human persons is unnecessary.

What we saw last week in the House of Commons was the misuse of science to justify the continued exploitation and disposal of society's most vulnerable members ­ embryonic and foetal human persons.

As I understand it, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support those who promote the benefits of creating human-animal hybrids. What we witnessed in the vote allowing the creation of human-animal hybrids was a partisan act of faith that experimentation on embryos will at some distant time result in cures for Alzheimer's, MS and other diseases.

We all hope and pray that medical science will find cures for these diseases that cause such dreadful suffering, but not at the cost of de-personalising the unborn and treating them as things to be manipulated and dissected. Compassion cannot result in the exploitation and destruction of unborn human persons. It is also a misuse of science to employ medical judgements concerning the 'viability' of the unborn child's development as the only consideration that grants the most fundamental of human rights ­ the right to life.

It's farcical to think that the definition of a human person depends on being able to exist on one's own. Human life is a series of inter-related dependencies at all stages of our existence. The State has no moral right to exclude the most vulnerable stage of dependency from the legal protection granted to human life. Any State that accepts the arbitrary use of power over others is immoral. As I see it, last week's vote in the House of Commons perpetuated the immoral use of power over the unborn.

How can it be reasonable that a 12 week old foetus is treated as an unborn child or disposed of as a thing depending on the choice of the mother? Being a person is not something granted by the choice of another, but is an inherent right dependent on the fact of existence. From the moment of conception, the unborn human being is genetically unique from his or her mother and father. The unborn child is a completely new and different living being.

The Catholic Church truly cares for the well-being of women, particularly those agonising over the decision whether to continue with a pregnancy or to have an abortion. I can only imagine that the trauma of rape or the anxiety of a mother unable to cope can feel unbearable. However, I have been told that the grief and distress that many women suffer following an abortion is also unbearable. Confronted with this suffering, we must all do more to support the work of Pro-Life groups that offer counselling and practical support to women who are considering abortion or are struggling to cope after an abortion.

In its strong stand against abortion or experimentation on embryonic human persons, the Church is not saying all who have an abortion or all those who voted for this legislation are evil. But it is the Church's duty to constantly remind society that the act of intentionally killing the unborn embryo or child is always of itself evil.

I would like to personally thank all those Members of Parliament who tabled amendments and voted in defence of unborn human life. I call on all people of faith ­ Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Christian ­ who believe in the sanctity of unborn human life to join with the Catholic Church in redoubling their efforts in the continuing campaign for a change in these laws.

During the 19th century, slavers said black people weren't human. They were wrong. During the 20th century, the Nazis said Jews weren't human. They were wrong. Since 1967, the House of Commons has said the unborn are not human. They, too, are wrong.

+Patrick O'Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster Sunday, 25 May, 2008

Friday, 30 May 2008

A special intention to the Sacred Heart

Please can you all pray for a special intention of mine on this feast day of the Sacred Heart, which is very close to my heart! I will reciprocate and remember at mass in the next few days all those who do so. Hear is the Oratory's Sacred Heart altar.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Rednal Public Enquiry

Here is another intention for your prayers for a favourable outcome of this on-going saga.

PUBLIC ENQUIRY on Tuesday 24th June at 10 a.m. at the Birmingham & Midlands Institute.
9 Margaret St. Birmingham.

Reason for enquiry: Appeals by the Trustees of the English Congregation of St. Philip Neri at Birmingham & the Oratory Fathers.

Against the enforcement notice served by Birmingham City Council. The notice(s) allege(s) The erection of palisade fencing without the grant of palisade permission.

Relating to the above local planning authority for the erection of the palisade fencing which is now subject of a High Court re-determination appeal.

Site at The Oratory House off St John's Wood.

An Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State under...

Members of the public may attend the enquiry & at the discretion of the Inspector express their views. If you are disabled or anyone you know who is & wants to go to the enquiry contact the Council.

Documents can be viewed at the Council's offices by prior arrangement.

Contact Kate Vicker 0117 372 6286

The above is not an exact copy of the notice.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Holy Father distributing communion

Here is a video of our Holy Father giving communion on the tongue on the Feast of Corpus Christi, courtesy of Gloria TV. Here his preference for traditional practice is made unambiguously clear!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

New Catholic Truth Society webpage

I have been asked in one comment to review the new Catholic Truth Society website at I am not a good judge of websites, but I think this is a quite impressive one. It also gives a full online shop and opportunities for downloads. Please give it a visit!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Happy feastday!

Today we celebrated the feast of St. Philip with a solemn high mass in which we sang the full Dvorak Mass in D: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo Sanctus and Agnus. This mass setting has a particular place in the Oratory music repertoire as it was first premiered in England in the Oratory in the presence of Dvorak himself, under the direction of Fr. Robert Eaton. It is a very dramatic setting and is one of my favourites.

Meanwhile down below on the sanctuary was equally splendid, and Andrew Parkes senior took a few photographs. Acknowledgements to Jackie's blog. Afterwards we all gathered for a very convivial reception in the parish hall. This year is particularly special as it happens immediately after Corpus Christi, the day St. Philip went to his eternal reward in 1595.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

It's raining, it's pouring (for Corpus Christi)

On this transferred feast of Corpus Christi, I had to slog through pouring rain early in the morning to get to mass in Belmont Abbey, after staying up late for a family party. I was to miss the Oratory's Blessed Sacrament procession this year, but as the weather has been so foul I don't think I have missed too much.

I'm sure the weather has been far better in Italy for the Holy Father's procession: a curse on the English climate!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Off to see the tribe...

I am now with my parents celebrating a few anniversaries in one go, and am having a quiet weekend away from the Oratory. I shall be back for St. Philip's day, but in the meantime I am having another break.....

Friday, 23 May 2008

Condoms to Burma...

Here is a piece of news that has come in, thanks to Fr. Tim. One wonders if those who are giving "aid" secretely welcome the cyclone as a means of "population control".

220,000 condoms off to Myanmar

Bangkok - The United Nations will send nearly a quarter of a million condoms into cyclone-hit Myanmar to help needy survivors with no access to contraceptives, a UN official says. So far, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said it had sent 72,800 condoms to survivors struggling to maintain their family planning after the storm hit in early May. A total of 218,400 condoms would be delivered, UNFPA aid advisor Chaiyos Kunanusont said.

Cyclone Nargis left 2.4 million people in desperate need of food, medicine and shelter, the UN estimated, but Chaiyos said not all of the affected people would need family planning supplies.

Cyclone Nargis left at least 133,000 people dead and missing, and aid groups had complained that supplies were not getting to survivors quickly enough because of limitations imposed by the ruling junta.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Lauda Sion Salvatorem

This evening at 8.00pm in the Oratory we are having a high mass and procession in the 1962 missal for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and not withstanding the attempts of our bishops to move it it is on the proper day! We in the choir we be singing Mozart's Coronation Mass (I'm particularly looking forward to the Sanctus and Benedictus in liturgical place), William Byrd's Sacerdotes Domini, Richard Dering's Ave Verum, and Victoria's Tantum Ergo. Here is a photo from last year, courtesy of Jackie Parkes.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Siege of Jericho

After we have seen the passing of that loathsome bill for the creation of human animal hybrids, here is a special intention to pray for. From Monday 9th June to Sunday 15th June there will be held 'The Siege of Jericho', which is a series of prayers and masses at the Birmingham Oratory to bring down the infamous Calthorpe Clinic nearby, one of England's largest abortuaries. I hope to take part this year at the weekend, and please could you remember us in your prayers.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The monster is released

The news has come in that parliament has voted with an overwhelming majority for the creation of human - animal hybrids. For a move that has little promise of bringing great medical advances, is absolutely disgusting and is unworthy of a civilised country, it has provoked a remarkably sanguine reaction in the media, as this cartoon from the Daily Mail shows:

Yet woe betide those MP's who voted for this bill when they face the throne of God.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Another attempt to sabotage the TLM....

Firstly our bishops have tried to force the celebrations of holy days in the extraordinary form to the nearest Sunday. Now another piece of news has come in from the Latin Mass Society: the old guard are certainly fighting tooth and nail.

URGENT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Pontifical High Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite due to be offered in Cardiff Cathedral on Sunday 18 May at 11.00 am has been cancelled at the last moment. The LMS withdrew its involvement with this Mass after the Cathedral Dean insisted that a lady server be present in the Sanctuary during Mass. The LMS apologises to members and supporters for the disappointment and inconvenience caused. For those who might wish to register a polite protest the telephone number for the Cathedral Dean is 029 2023 1407. Email:

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Ad multos annos!

This year my parents celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary of 40 years of marriage. They have by the grace of God stuck it and are still going strong, which is a great achievement. Today on Trinity Sunday it is a fitting day to commemorate it, as holy matrimony is a great mirror of the life of the three persons in one God. Please remember them in your prayers, and may they continue to be blessed in their future life together.

Also today it has been exactly 5 months since I have started blogging on December 18th 2007, the Feast of Our Lady's Expectation. I am still keeping this blog going, but nobody seems to be visiting me any more! Do please make me better known: I do try to remember all who visit this site in my prayers.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Benedict XVI on families

On the vigil of Trinity Sunday and with the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill upon us, it is appropriate to post this address of our Holy Father to the European federation of Catholic Family Associations. Acknowledgements to Fr. Tim.

We are well aware of the many challenges facing families today, and we know how difficult it is, in current social conditions, to achieve the ideal of fidelity and solidarity in conjugal love, to bring up children, and to preserve the harmony of the family unit. While on the one hand – thanks be to God – there are shining examples of good families, open to the culture of life and love, on the other hand, sadly, an increasing number of marriages and families are in crisis. From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamours for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies.

Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view, as well as the juridical and spiritual. In this context, I am pleased to recommend and encourage certain initiatives and proposals that have emerged in the course of your Conference. I am thinking, for example, of the laudable commitment to mobilize citizens in support of the initiative for "Family-friendly fiscal policy", urging Governments to promote family-related policies that give parents a real possibility of having children and bringing them up in the family.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Novena to St. Philip Neri

Tonight we begin the novena to our Holy Father St. Philip Neri for the welfare of the Birmingham Oratory community and parish. Although the Oratory has a way of surviving unscathed through times thick and thin, it only does so because of our prayers! So for the period up to the Feast of St. Philip, which falls this year on the May bank holiday on Monday 26th May do remember us!

Look down from heaven, Holy Father, from the loftiness of that mountain to the lowliness of this valley; from that harbour of quietness and tranquillity to this calamitous sea. And now that the darkness of this world hinders no more those benignant eyes of thine from looking clearly into all things, look down and visit, O most diligent keeper, this vineyard which thy right hand planted with so much labour, anxiety and peril.

To thee then we fly; from thee we seek for aid; to thee we give our whole selves unreservedly. Thee we adopt as our patron and defender; undertake the cause of our salvation, protect thy clients. To thee we appeal as our leader; rule thine army fighting against the assaults of the devil. To thee, kindest of pilots, we give up the rudder of our lives; steer this little ship of thine, and, placed as thou art on high, keep us off all the rocks of evil desires, that with thee for our pilot and guide, we may safely come to the port of eternal bliss. Amen.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Jackie's new blog

My friend Jackie Parkes has had to start a new blog as her old one has reached its limit for photograph space! Here it is: Catholic Mom of 10 Revisited.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Walsingham pilgrimage: benediction

I finish this series with a few photos of benediction in the priory grounds, the site of the holy house which was alas destroyed in the reformation.

Procession in

Entry of Blessed Sacrament


Final intercessions at the site of the Holy House

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Walsingham pilgrimage: the Holy Mile

Soon after mass after a break for tea we began the procession up the Holy Mile to the priory grounds, site of the Holy House. Here are a few more photos.

Beginning of procession

The rosary in groups

In the High Street nearing the priory gateway

Monday, 12 May 2008

Walsingham mass

Here are a few pictures of the Birmingham diocese pilgrimage mass at Walsingham. It was a very pleasant occasion, and would have been just right if only we could have been spared that wretched Coventry Gloria and the legions of altar girls! However our Archbishop Vincent Nicholls preached an excellent homily.

Entry procession

The mass

Procession out

Sunday, 11 May 2008

The slipper chapel, Walsingham

I have little imagination today on Pentecost, but here are a few images of the Slipper Chapel and the Chapel of Reconciliation, where we had mass.

Slipper Chapel and presbytery exterior
Chapel of Reconciliation

Interior of the Slipper Chapel

Slipper Chapel window

And as it is Pentecost, here is the Holy Spirit Chapel, an annexe to the Slipper Chapel built in the 1950's.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Day pilgrimage to Walsingham

Today I went on the Birmingham diocesan day pilgrimage to Walsingham, and I have just got back as I write this!. It is long haul trip of three hours there and three hour back by coach. I have a large selection of pictures which I will post in the next few days. Here is the slipper chapel.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Intention for the Pentecost novena

As part of the May devotions at 8.00pm in the Oratory, we have the novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. This year it is particularly important to do this novena as we have just heard that the infamous Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill begins on Monday 12th immediately afterwards: keep this in your prayers! If you haven't started, it is not too late now: it can be done in one day on the hour.

Our Lady conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Desperate aging trendies

The blog Orate Fratres has given a report on the dissident Call to Action conference at San Jose, California.

The report seems to be very worried at what has gone on, in particular at the 'Mr Potato Head mass'.

However, I do not think we need be unduly concerned: one only has to look at the average age of the participants, and their clear air of desperation...

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Dr. Mary Berry RIP

Unfortunately I have been rather behind on the news! I have heard that Dr. Mary Berry, Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at Girton and Newnham Colleges in the University of Cambridge, and the founder and director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, has gone to her eternal reward.

She was a great authority on the Gregorian chant and has done much to keep it alive in the liturgy when it all but seemed doomed to disappear. May she and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Oratory May procession

One of the great highlights of May for me in the Oratory is the procession of the statue of Our Lady. Unfortunately this year much to my disappointment it coincided with my retreat this weekend, as I was in Downside. Nevertheless I was thinking of everyone back home processing as I was out, and Jackie Parkes has taken some pictures!

O Lady, by the stars that make
a glory round thy head,
and by thy pure uplifted hands
that for thy children plead,
when at the judgement seat I stand,
and my dread saviour see,
when waves of night around me roll,
and hell is raging for my soul,
O then remember me.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Back home

I have just come out of semi - hibernation from my retreat, which alas has been all too short. However as you can see from the photos Downside Abbey is a wonderful place to stay for a weekend break!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

On retreat

Over the bank holiday weekend I shall be on retreat in Downside Abbey for a few days, and be in a state of semi - hibernation. Nevertheless I shall be praying for all of you who read this blog! Stay posted!

Friday, 2 May 2008

St. Athanasius

Today is the commemoration of St. Athanasius, who was a doctor of the church of whom Cardinal Newman had a great devotion to. It was thanks to him that the church was saved from completely succumbing to the Arian heresy. In the Birmingham Oratory there is a side altar dedicated to him, where also lies the relics of a St. Valentine, a Roman martyr whose feast we keep on Newman's birthday.

Alas, the Arian heresy has been revived in a big way in today's church, and it is no more apparent than in modern liturgical practice. It is the main motivation for the lack of reverence towards Our Lord, for the reverence due to him clearly implies that he is the second person of the Trinity. Let us ask the intercession of St. Athanasius for the triumph of orthodoxy and the conversion of those who are in dissent against the church's magisterium.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

The Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception

Here is a video of the extraordinary form of mass from a new religious order that is going from strength to strength. Acknowledgements to Fr. Tim.

These are the YouTube posting notes:

Formal fiddleback chasubles and modest Franciscan sandals come together in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (Traditional Latin Mass) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. The video is put to beautiful music from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, our sister order. The music was recorded in Italy and is a fine example of the high quality of their music which, combined with the friars in Italy, are playing a major part in spearheading the reform of liturgical music in Italy.