Monday, 31 March 2008

Last pictures of Vienna

For the sake of the record, here are the remainder of the photos I took in Vienna. Horse drawn carriages are a common sight, mainly for tourists. One here is even painted pink for the more romantically inclined!

Here is the church of St. Peter, a fine example of high baroque art. Many of the churches are rather neglected with their side altars stripped. The baroque seems to embarrass Austria's rather liberal Catholic church.

A square where a flea market is held on Friday: I bought some bottles of beer here.

The Knights of Malta Church, with the High Altar ad orientem. Like the Oratory another bastion of Catholic Orthodoxy!

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Imperial Vienna

Vienna owes its great splendour to the fact that it was the capital of the Austro - Hungarian empire as well as being the crossroads between Western and Eastern Europe. Lying right at Europe's heart and in the gap between the Alps and the Carparthanian mountains where the Danube flows, it has also been of great strategic importance.

As the gateway to Western Europe it was beseiged by the Ottoman Turks in 1683, and very nearly fell had it not been rescued in the nick of time by the Poles under King Jan Sobieski on Sepember 12th 1683, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Above is the monument to the victory. With a massive Islamic influx into Western Europe, history may repeat itself very soon!

The city is divided into the old heart behind the former walls of narrow, winding and very charming streets, and the outer ring where the walls once stood which was reconstructed with Parisian style boulevards under the Emperor Franz Joseph II. Here is the Rathaus (town hall) on one of them:

Right opposite is the Hofburg theatre. Unfortunately I did not go to any operas when I was in Vienna, something I should have done! The River Danube is about a mile outside the city, and the waterways in the city are canals that feed off it.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Nightmare on Terminal 5...

Today I have had the exceptional bad luck to be on one of the first British Airways flights to Heathrow Terminal 5, which meant my first flight was cancelled, while my second flight was delayed by an hour as there were no staff available to operate the gangways in the terminal building! So as I finally write this, I am very tired and seven hours late. A very typical piece of British incompetence and bad planning....

Friday, 28 March 2008

More on Vienna...

Yesterday I spent a very interesting afternoon visiting the apartments of Franz Joseph II and the Empress Elisabeth. This is the courtyard of the Royal residence.

Most of today I have spent in wondering around the city taking the occasional pictures. Here are two of the interior of the Stephensdom:

The nave

The high altar

Tomorrow I return to England: I hope that the journey home will run more smoothly than coming here! I will have more photos to post in the coming days.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Vienna Oratory

Being a disciple of St. Philip Neri and brother of the Little Oratory, I have naturally gravitated to the Vienna Oratory for mass. It is the church of St. Rochus and Sebastian in the suburbs east of the city centre. It was founded under the direction of the London Oratory in the 1970´s, and has a flourishing liturgical, devotional and music life. Recently they have moved to saying mass ad orientem, which caused much controversy in an Austrian church heavily infected with liberalism.

Eastward facing hign altar

The community are going from strength to strength, and number about nine priests. On hearing that I was from Birmingham and an Oratory parishioner, I was well received.

Altar of St. Philip

Their devotional life is something to be experienced: they take things much more slowly and seriously than back home in England, they have legions of young altar boys for mass and services and homilies tend to much longer! I happened to arrive at a special mass for Our Lady in Eastertide, and the church was packed. Clearly they practice a much more militant and vibrant Catholicism than would be found in the British Isles! Their website in German can be found here.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Getting a feel of Vienna

I have forgotten how good hotels can be in Bavaria and Austria: the Regina Hotel has reminded me of my stay at the Bischofshof in Regensburg when I went to Bavaria last October with a group from Oxford:

Afterwards I casually wondered around to get a feel of the city, and luckily found an internet cafe where I can download photos. Here is the Schottenkirche, part of the Schottenstift. I have not yet been able to find out the connection with Scotland:

One of the main streets (forgotten which one!)

Here of course is the Stephansdom (St. Stephan´s Cathedral):

And a building in the style of the secessionist school:

I feel too lazy to describe any of these in further detail. After all, I am on holiday...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Arriving in Vienna

I have had the unfortunate bad luck to miss my flight to Vienna this morning after the train from Birmingham Snow Hill was delayed by a broken down train. Hence I have had to pay an extra £30 to transfer to another flight. Then to crown it all, the next flight to Vienna was delayed by one and a half hours. Hence I arrived in Vienna 6 hours late, which did not put me in a good mood! Such is the charm of modern travel...

However I found the hotel I booked into very well appointed and most delightful, and have had an excellent supper. I have taken a few pictures of it, but unfortunately the hotel internet connection will not let me download them. I shall try to find somewhere else to do this tomorrow. More is on the way.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Easter Monday

The Easter Triduum this year in the Oratory has been a great success both from the point of the view of the choir as well as the sanctuary! Everything ran pretty much like clockwork and the standards were extremely high: and probably this will be one of the best liturgically we have ever had in recent years. Here is an image of the great crucifix, pall and reliquary of the true cross at the Seven Last Words:

Alas, that cannot be said about the weather we have had here which has put a dampener on everything: with the snow and sleet it seems more like Christmas. Also with the clocks still to go forward we had vespers in the dark on Easter Sunday. This morning I have been busy clearing up what is left of the music and filing it away. The coming few weeks are usually very quiet, which will give me opportunity to catch up on some maintenance work on the library which needs doing.

Tomorrow I hope to go on a short holiday in Vienna: I will keep you posted of this!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter Sunday

Surrexit Christus de sepulcro,

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

I have been so busy over the Triduum that I have not had time to make up full posts, so I have posted the images with the words of the famous chant, 'Christus factus est pro nobis', which we have been singing at Tenebrae. This is just a short post firstly to thank the New Liturgical Movement blog for posting up the schedule of the Oratory services and music lists. And secondly also to wish you all a very happy and holy Easter.

Regina caeli laetare, alleluia!
Quia meruisti portare, alleluia!
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia!
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Holy Saturday

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem.

Mortem autem crucis.

Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Good Friday

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem.


Thursday, 20 March 2008

Maundy Thursday

Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Oratory choir Triduum schedule

It is Spy Wednesday and tomorrow begins the Oratory Triduum marathon! For those of you who are interested in what it is like to be in the Birmingham Oratory choir full time, I shall give you this schedule of our rehearsals and performances over the Sacred Triduum. Perhaps it may demolish a few popular myths about us...

Maundy Thursday

We start promptly for rehearsal at 5.30pm, for the mass of the Last Supper at 7.00pm. This means some of us have to leave straight after work. This lasts till 9.00pm. For me, I stay on to assist at Compline at the altar of repose, which finishes about 9.30pm.

There are some glorious highlights such as the Durufle Ubi Caritas at the offertory and Rebelo Panis Angelicus at communion, but the best bit for me is when we process with the Blessed Sacrament singing the chant Pange Lingua, and then we finish up singing the Victoria Mozamberic melody Tantum Ergo by the altar of repose. However, it's hard work!

Good Friday

This day is absolute murder! I join the Oratory Fathers on the sanctuary to help sing the Tenebrae at 8.30am, which lasts till about 10.45am. Then I have an hour break until I join everyone else in the choir for the first rehearsal at 11.45am, continuing until 1.00pm, starting again at 1.45pm and continuing up to the Good Friday liturgy itself at 3.00pm, which finishes at 4.30pm.

But we're not finished yet, and we can't go home! At 5.30pm we restart for the rehearsal for the Seven Last Words at 7.00pm, a service consisting of series of meditations, motets and devotions on the seven last words of our Lord. This is immediately followed by choral stations of the cross at 8.00pm, finishing at around nine o'clock in the evening. Only then can I rush home and have a bite to eat! In all, I'm singing from 8.30am in the morning till 9.00pm in the evening with a few short breaks.

Holy Saturday

Again I turn up for Tenebrae at 8.30am, which is shorter this time and finishes about 10.00am. Then there is a respite to catch one's breath until the 7.00pm rehearsal for the Easter Vigil at 9.00pm, which lasts until about 11.30pm, one of the most dramatic services of the year, particularly the moment when the Gloria is intoned and the church is flooded with light. I join everyone else at the party afterwards, and then it is straight home to bed.

Easter Sunday

The High Mass rehearsal is at 9.00am, and High Mass is at 10.30am, lasting until 11.45am. Then it is off to have a four course Easter lunch with friends, to be back in the evening at 6.40pm for the Vespers rehearsal, with Solemn Vespers and Benediction at 7.30pm, finishing at 8.30pm with that very twee Regina Caeli by Ferdinand Schubert. (A piece widely believed by us to have been written by Franz Schubert's wife, not his brother.)

Here again is the list of music we are doing: lots of it! I haven't put it up on this blog, because I haven't the time. And we have to sing all of it to professional standard, and in many cases sight read it from scratch. We are not an amateur choral society by any stretch of the imagination!

Not only that, over the last two weeks as choir librarian I have also been busy in preparations to get all the music for the services ready: we need at least twenty copies each. Thankfully, I have got most of this out of the way by now, or it would be complete chaos.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Palm Sunday in the Oratory

Here are two pictures of the Palm Sunday mass in the Oratory. Below is that of the blessing of the palms, which took place in the sports hall of the college opposite. The faithful are in front of the clergy and servers, and you can see us the choir tucked away behind. (You can just see me right at the back in between the celebrant and the deacon reading the Gospel.) At the end of the Gospel and at the beginning of the procession we sang 'Pueri Hebraeorum' by Victoria: one of the best pieces of polyphony in the Holy Week liturgy.

acknowledgements Matthew Doyle

Then the choir processed out in front of the clergy into the main church by the Hagley Road, singing 'Gloria Laus' to chant. It was drizzling, and some of the copies got wet! I haven't got time to say any more, but more will be on the way.....

acknowledgements Peter Jennings

Monday, 17 March 2008

Abortion rogue's gallery summary

Here is a list of the posts I have made trying to dissect the lobbies behind the culture of death. I have been asked if these could be put in a booklet: if I even get the time I will do this.


1. Abortion providers

2. Pharmaceuticals industry

3. Biotechnology

4. Sex industry

5. Pornography

6. Universities

7. The media

8. Government elites

9. The malcontents

10. Public opinion


Sunday, 16 March 2008

Palm Sunday and Holy Week

Well, so begins the busiest period of the year for us in the Oratory choir, and have just finished the first lap of the Palm Sunday mass, which went very successfully, and now face vespers this evening. Hopefully you may see photographs of this event from some of my fellow Oratory bloggers!

I feel rather ashamed as Jackie Parkes and Matthew Doyle have posted up the Holy Week music for this year before I had! However I have been exceptionally busy in preparations and have not had the time. However, here is the list of what we are doing. Stay posted!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The culture of death rogue's gallery: conclusion

Seeing all the various factions, lobbies and vested interests that drive forward the culture of death, what are the common factors that unite them? What are the underlying principles that are at its' root?

The answer is a very simple one. The constant motivation that joins together abortion providers, the pharmaceuticals industry, pornographers, scientific research, the universities, the media, the malcontents and the political elites are the perennial human desires for power and for money. And the great power of the culture of death lies in its tremendous financial clout, which is measured in billions upon billions of dollars.

Many people today think that the culture of death as part of a gigantic and highly organised hydra - headed conspiracy, whose tentacles reach through all corners of modern life. Looking at it this may seem indeed very plausible. However this is not true. The various factions involved are not united, are widely different and do not share the same aim and viewpoint. What brings them all together is the 'invisible hand' of cynical self interest, which aims at the pursuit of power and material success.

Which demonstrates the teaching of the apostle St. Paul: The love of money is the root of all evils. The unpleasant and astonishing truth is that if we want to attack the culture of death at its heart, we can only do so by repudiating the great idolatry of material success, affluence and social advancement which is so characteristic of today. This is one that effectively says that high flying young executives have a better 'quality of life' (in other words, far more right to exist) than the sick and housebound old grandmothers in our inner cities, or children of single mothers who have been abandoned by their fathers.

Yet alas, we all face the choice to follow either in the way of truth and righteousness, to possibly end up as 'losers' or in the path of compromise, pragmatism, expediency and cynical self interest for the pursuit of gain, to be 'winners'. But it is the passion for success and for riches that turns good men into wicked men. For what else can motivate Asian and African doctors to work in abortion mills?

Again the teaching of St. Paul is relevant: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. This is the secret of our wicked age that indulges in mass murder without the slightest compunction, and is now reaping the consequences of doing so. Yet for us too who will not be part of it, it is a stern warning also of how easy it is to be drawn in to it.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Summorum Pontificum six months on

What a difference six months of Summorum Pontificum has made to the church! Yes, it certainly has increased the number of masses in the 1962 rite, and made access to it so much easier. That however in itself would be of very little consequence to the church and would only affect a small minority.

The real significance in this motu proprio is that is has made a paradigm shift in the whole way the church has seen itself since the Second Vatican Council. In one bold stroke, Summorum Pontificum has pulled the rug from beneath the entire dissident theological project of the sixties, which at its heart has sought to create an entirely new church and new faith, completely divorced from what has gone before. It has affirmed once and for all that the church cannot condemn its past, and that its' traditions of worship and doctrine were never abrogated.

What was the inspiration behind this new faith and new church? It was the great longing of the Catholic elites in the sixties to be accepted among their secular counterparts in a post Christian society, rather than be a sign of contradiction that is hated and despised by the world: the sign of the cross. And hence this new faith is one that repudiates the cross, repudiates sacrifice and atonement, and ultimately sin itself. Ultimately, it ends up as a therapeutic neo - Gnosticism that entirely denies the natural order of creation, sexuality, ethics and what it is to be human.

acknowledgements and copyright Vernon Quaintance

But on the feast of the finding of the Holy Cross, the holy sacrifice of the mass has been re-affirmed. On that September day I was in London for the weekend, and I managed to attend the High Mass in the London Oratory for Summorum Pontificum, which you see above. I had been composing in the last two months, and afterwards I managed to complete the mass setting I had been writing for SSAB registration: the Missa Sanctae Crucis which can be downloaded here in pdf format. Alternatively you can listen to a midi file here!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.10: public opinion?

It may be fair to say that the majority of people in Britain are not completely pro-life, and few of them would advocate a complete stop to abortion. Nevertheless there are very few who would advocate abortion on demand. It could be said that the majority position is that abortion is acceptable only in exceptional circumstances and at an early stage of pregnancy.

Effectively this is a position of compromise: there is clearly a natural disgust among ordinary folk for the culture of death. New abortion laws have stealthily exploited this, claiming that they would not lead to a liberalisation. Yet to oppose abortion and euthanasia is to run the risk of being labelled as a 'fundamentalist', 'right wing' or 'lacking compassion', and suffer the consequences of social ostracism. Support for the 'pro-choice' lobby is greater among the affluent and wealthy than among the poor, marginalised and immigrants. The elites have more to lose.

Bear in mind that we are all bombarded by the media propaganda machine for the culture of death, which virtually advocates no restraint and all out murder. Hence it is in fact remarkable that sympathies for the culture of death among the majority are at best very lukewarm. This is a tribute to the power of conscience and the natural moral law that is written on every man's heart. It is hardly surprising that the death elites are doing all they can to break it, by forcing in sex education for children at primary school level.

There are two things that are fatal to the culture of death and to the pro - abortion lobby. The first is to allow public opinion to have a real influence on public policy and laws. The second is for the full truth of abortion and euthanasia to become known on a popular level. The media has already done its work in hiding the truth. Hence draconian laws have been made to punish anyone who distributes images of aborted babies, while a wholesale dismantling of our democratic institutions is being put into effect.

The warnings of John Paul II are coming true: in failing to defend the rights of the unborn, the sick and the weak, we are fast heading towards totalitarianism. And as the only body in society who will speak out are Christians, also towards religious persecution.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

St. Gregory the Great

Today in the 1962 calender and also in Downside Abbey is the Feast of St. Gregory the Great, apostle of the English. Himself a Benedictine monk and the biographer of St. Benedict of Nursia, it was he who sent St. Augustine of Canterbury and his band of Benedictine monks to evangelise the Angles. The legend is that he saw some boys in the slave market of Rome, and when he asked them who they were, they said that they were Angles. 'Not Angles,' he replied, 'but angels.'

From this mission arose the English Benedictine monks, who apart from a hiatus at the reformation, have continued on to this day. When the monasteries were dissolved the lineage was preserved by the last monk of Westminster Abbey, Dom Sigebert Buckley, who aggregated several English monks in Spanish monasteries to the ancient English congregation. From these arose the communities of St. Lawrence (now Ampleforth) and St. Gregory the Great at Douai (now Downside Abbey).

Both of them sent monks on the English mission in penal times, and several of them were to die as martyrs: St. John Roberts, St. Ambrose Barlow, and St. Alban Roe. These communities were expelled from France in the revolution, and settled in England where they remain to this day. Downside which you see above is my alma mater, and today is its' patronal feast. Unfortunately I have not been able to go there this year to celebrate it, as it falls in mid-week.

St. Gregory is also the patron of the liturgical apostolate, and it was he who first codified the liturgical chants of the church which bear his name. It is appropriate that his feast falls nearly 6 months after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum: an act that he himself would highly approve of. Our present Holy Father Benedict XVI, a great theologian, liturgist and musician himself is very much a Pope in the Gregorian model.

But today also Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster faces a grilling from a parliamentary education select committee, over his document 'fit for mission', which has outraged the secularist establishment. We now have a government that effectively says Catholic schools should not teach Catholicism!

Let us remember him in our prayers and ask for St. Gregory's intercession for our country, for it is now clear that the storm clouds of persecution are gathering, and new penal laws could be on the way. England has fallen back into barbarianism: through St. Gregory the Great may the Angles of our time once again become angels.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.9: the malcontents

Looking at most of the lobbies and factions in the culture of death, there are very few that are part of it out of real personal conviction rather than cynical monetary and self-interest. As I have said before, it is very dirty work and even by their own standards and terminology, it has a high yuck factor (to be eliminated by counselling and therapy).

So what about those who support it out of real conviction? They are the 'pro-choice' catholics, the hard left, crypto - marxists, feminists, gay liberation, any other liberation, anarchists, nihilists etc. etc. They come in all shapes and sizes, and do not always share the same viewpoint or are united in their beliefs.

They have one common motivation though, and it is resentment and embitteredness: resentment in particular against their own state of life and place in society. They hold a grudge against the traditional social order as the source of their humiliations, failures and lack of advancement, seeing it as 'middle class', 'bourgeois' and Christian.

Consequently they develop a pathological hatred of the family and the moral law, and seek to destroy it. For them, it is a happiness from which they have been irrevocably excluded. They instinctively side with the poor and the oppressed, the apparent victims of the social order, and the manifest proof of its wickedness and injustice. But when they manage to obtain real power, they stop at nothing to exact revenge to the point of mass murder: as shown by the French and Russian Revolutions.

However these people are only a small minority, and by themselves do not have real power. Yet they appear extremely vocal and influential because they are enthusiastically backed up by the other abortion interests, and more often than not are in their payroll. They serve the purpose as effective propaganda. Catholics for a Free Choice represents hardly even a small minority of Catholics, but receives ample funding from the Playboy Foundation.

But what of the majority opinion? What does it believe in and role does it play? This will be the subject of the next post.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.8: government elites

Support for the culture of death in government is considerably less virulent among politicians as it is among civil servants, the think - tanks and the other non - elected elites. There are in fact few politicians who wholeheartedly support the culture of death on a personal level with real conviction. The ones who do tend mainly to be found on the hard left, and usually belong to a faction of malcontents. However there are very many 'pro-choice' politicians who say that they are not personally in favour of abortion (i.e. Tony Blair),and yet who openly vote in favour of it at every opportunity. And now like Gordon Brown they try to impose the party line on those who don't.

Why? Because politics and political parties by their very nature depend heavily on patronage. To have any real power, political funding and influence they need the support of the lobbies and interests that have influence, in particular the media. They have much to lose in not supporting the culture of death. The media, business and academic lobbies who are behind it have much clout! In politics, as ever, there is a stark choice between principle and pragmatism...

The vested interest of civil service and the other non - elected government bodies in abortion and euthanasia, particularly in health care, is very different. They are appointed rather than elected bodies, and do not get directly involved in the political battle.

Their interest could be explained by their natural tendency to see people as mere statistics rather than persons created in God's image and likeness. Their main priority is to allocate and use public money most effectively as they see fit. To them the terminally ill and aged are a major drain on resources which could be better spent, while it is cheaper to abort children rather that to support them in education, health care and social security benefits. A cynical viewpoint, not based on principle, but on statistics.

I have made a brief mention of the malcontents, which seem to be the only people who support the culture of death out of personal conviction rather than self interest. While they feature in politics, they are a class of their own: the next exhibit.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.7: the media

The media as we all know too well has been the absolute nemisis of the dignity of the human person. It is the main propaganda machine of the pro - choice lobby, the source of obscenity and violence and films, and in some places the distinction between mainstream and outright pornography is very thin. It is the main force for the evangelisation of secularism, and the main player in forming the powerful liberal consensus which no disputation can answer.

It is no surprise that the major business interests who run the mainstream TV, radio and newspaper channels are also the same who provide the tidal wave of pornography we see over the Internet and in shops. Naturally, they would have a clear interest in supporting abortion and euthanasia, and would pressurise those they employ to conform.

Yet this is probably not the main reason for the support of the media in the culture of death. I suspect the chief reason may well be due to the nature of the journalistic profession. The tendency of journalists is to now assume an evangelical role: they become the expounders of a revealed truth that they have discovered to the world. Hence very like the academic intelligentsia I have talked about, they now are a deaconal caste with unquestioned authority.

The role of the journalist is of course to tell of the objective facts exactly as they are found. However the development of radio and television has increasingly focused more on the person of the journalist rather on what he is reporting. Consequently his opinions and beliefs take on an unquestioned magisterial role, and the actual truth of what he is telling takes on a secondary role. His opinions will matter far more.

Hence like the academic, they will develop a resentment and hostility towards the authority of the church, and to the notion of objective truth and natural law. They will see it as a rival and threat to their status and position. They will naturally develop a sympathy for the 'pro - choice' position, quite apart from the fact that they are under pressure from business and government interests in the media to conform.

It is easy to see the vested interests of business at work in the culture of death, but we also need to look at what happens in government elites: the next exhibit.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.6: the universities

Why is it that the universities and the academic establishment are such a notorious bastion of support for the culture of death? So much so that pro - life groups are almost banned from activities in campus. I remember well in my student days how the induction guide openly proclaimed that the university was openly sympathetic to abortion, and students would have no problems in getting referrals from the health centre.

Perhaps it could be said that their support may well be due to the fact that some of them are actively involved themselves in cloning and human - animal hybrids, and that they receive much of their research money from the pharmaceuticals sector. Therefore they should have a natural vested interest in backing all this. That is one factor, yet I do not believe it is the main one. It would not explain why 'pro - choice' sentiment is particularly virulent not so much in the sciences but in the humanities, who have nothing to gain from it.

In order to explain the attitude of the academic to the doctrine of human dignity, I think we need to look at the culture of modern academic life that has been inherited from the enlightenment and the nineteenth century eras. To hold the position of a scholar has always been one of great respect, but before the modern era learnedness by itself did not automatically confer an unquestionable authority. The universities were not considered a institution that could claim to be above political or religious censure. At that time objective truth was believed in by most people, and the authority the academic held was largely determined by his conformity to that truth, just like everyone else.

The concept of objective truth was seriously weakened however by the scepticism of the enlightenment. This led the way to the development in Russia of an idea which has had tremendous influence on academic life today. This is the notion of the intelligentsia, a class of people who by their way of life and intellectual powers have a right of moral influence and say in society. It is not objective truth that gives them authority, position and status, but rather their powers and abilities of reflection and thinking.

In other words, the academic and intellectual achieves a priestly status, and the university becomes a church: the established church of secularism. The academic establishment now is a new priestly intelligentsia that is very jealous of its position and status, and greatly resents the authority of that other rival priesthood, the Catholic church. And in some places it is an exclusively scientific priesthood that wears white coats instead of black cassocks.

The hostility of the academic establishment to the doctrine of the dignity of the human person is because it implies the existence of an objective natural law and revealed truth: a standard by which they are not exempt from and are made accountable to. They see it also as an emphatically christian teaching, a teaching of a rival priesthood that restricts their power and position. To them, the pro-life movement is a threat to their academic, priestly and moral authority.

It should therefore come as no surprise why the universities have been in the vanguard of secularism and unbelief. Yet in repudiating the notion of objective truth, they have opened the door to pseudo scholarship and quack science, and academic tenure to being a completely self - appointed position without any real standards. In embracing the culture of death, the universities are sowing the seeds of their undoing.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Please! For those who wish to comment..

I have received some interesting feedback from the comments posted, and I am very pleased that some of them have been very intelligent, informed and polite. The standard of some of them is very commendable. Please keep them coming! I am quite happy to accept and post criticism so long it is reasonable.

Unfortunately however a few of the comments I have received have been unacceptable, and today one of them from an anonymous source has caused considerable upset to a friend of mine. I have now removed it from the post. Hence from now on, I will not be posting any comments from anonymous sources, or any that are clearly insulting, unduly patronising or that make personal remarks about myself or anyone else! I only ask that you maintain a decent standard of courtesy: I myself will try to do likewise.

Well, we are now fast approaching Passiontide, and as it is Friday it seems appropriate to post an image of the Via Crucis.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.5: pornography

Another multi billion dollar industry that has become a great scourge against the dignity of the human person, and a major player in the culture of death, is pornography. So much so that it consists of about 15% of the Internet. Like the sex industry, it is semi-criminal and also a major means of spreading virus and malware across the web. So widespread has it become that there is scarcely a single newsagent or corner shop in England where it is not on sale.

Yet paradoxically this is one sector where the demand is not as nearly as great as the supply. Despite its easy availability it is surprisingly rare that one sees anyone buying it over the counter. Only about 20% of films that are produced are for deliberately violent and pornographic purposes, and they are hardly ever released in cinemas. Most of them are released straight into DVD or for Internet download. Nevertheless, unlike mainstream film production the profit margins are extremely great, and this is a guaranteed source of easy money. It is very easy to create now with computer graphics, and far from being a surreptitious business it works openly with no attempt to cover itself.

It is often claimed that it is impossible to control pornography's spread and stop it. That is completely false. The technology and means to block it are very sophisticated, effective and easily available. It is also very easy to track the makers of this filth and the sources of it on the Internet. But this would fly in the face of the massive lobby that totally opposes any control. For corporations such as Google, Microsoft and many of the media moguls, it is a significant part of their business! It is not difficult to see the reason for their support for the 'pro-choice' lobby.

Consequently censorship now has become more of an enabling exercise rather than a restriction of viewing. The British Board of Film Censors is a quango that is not accountable to parliament and effectively acts completely in the interests of the film industry. Its' self avowed policy is to allow almost anything and everything to pass through, only stopping at child pornography for form's sake. Recently they caused much controversy by de-restricting video nasties that banned twenty years ago.

So yet again, it all boils down to money, and the consequent power that financial clout gives. But the same can't be said of the universities, another bastion of the culture of death. They have a very different reason for their support of it.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Interview with Bishop Schneider

Conveniently following on shortly from what I wrote on the practice of communion in the hand, Bishop Anathasius Schneider, Auxiliary of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, has been interviewed on Gloria TV: he gives an explanation for the practice of receiving on the tongue while kneeling.

At the last major synod of bishops in Rome, the same Bishop Schneider called not only for communion on the tongue as the norm, but the reaffirmation of the centrality of the tabernacle. If only we could have bishops like him in England...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.4: sex industry

Prostitution may well be the world's oldest profession, and a very sordid one at that: its' natural vested interest in the culture of death needs no explanation. However what is not so well known is that it is not now a small scale phenomena. Instead it has become in our day a highly organised and efficient industry, which is involved in what is effectively slave trafficking of women.

In theory organised prostitution may be illegal, but in practice there are many subterfuges around the law and in reality civil authorities turn a blind eye to it. With its' close ally the pornography industry, it is worth billions and billions, closely allied with the drugs trade and in our liberal society a legalised criminality. It hides its real name under 'personal services' and other euphemisms.

In England thousands upon thousands of women are shipped over each year to become trapped in it unaware of their fate. Some of them have little English, and to all intents and purposes are virtual slaves. In my district of Birmingham several houses were raided, where it was discovered that women from Albania, Bosnia and Lithuania were being held as sex slaves under close observation. Yet in both cases criminal charges where dropped, and the places shortly reopened as before.

Abortion, prostitution and the exploitation and demeaning of women go hand in hand. Now England has some of the highest abortion rates in Europe, and has become a leading destination for what is the revival of slavery, of the worst possible kind. I have not put any pictures for reasons of discretion, and nor will I do so for the next post, on the spread of pornography.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Laetare! A more light hearted moment....

I thought I would give you all a relief from my grim analysis of the culture of death! Yesterday all of us in the Oratory took a welcome break from the rigours of Lent, and went down to the Garden House pub for a drink after vespers and benediction. Jackie Parkes came down for the first time to join us, and she took a few pictures of the event.

Myself and Michael O'Driscoll, an Oratory parishioner.

Myself and Father Guy Nicholls

Fr. Guy and Kevin Molloy, our computer expert.

I have posted this photos from Jackie just to show that we in the Oratory are in fact a very cheerful and convivial lot, and are not miserable and glum as everyone else would have us! And we are drinking for real pleasure, not like our pagan world as a means to escape and blot out reality by by complete inebriation. I was in fact enjoying a pint of Everards. We are looking forward to the feast of the resurrection at Easter!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no.3: biotechnology

The biotechnology research industry is a sister to the pharmaceuticals industry, and as is well known is the body responsible for human cloning and human - animal hybrids. But what are they doing it for? It is certainly true that they receive vast sums of government and private funds to do this job. Yet I do not believe that this is the primary motivation for doing what is clearly a great affront to the dignity of human person. Nor for that matter is it any real desire to find cures for illnesses.

This may well have been the main justification given, and we have heard the excuses ad nauseam. 'This will lead to great medical breakthroughs! It will lead to new treatments and prevent serious illnesses!' Yet we also well know that stem cell research has made cloning redundant. And it is a fact that attempts to cure Parkinsons' disease by using aborted foetal tissue has disastrously backfired. Unethical and immoral research does not produce cures!

Perhaps our Holy Father Benedict XVI can give us the real answer why. In his collection of sermons 'In the Beginning', (See fourth homily, Sin and Salvation) a book dealing with the topic of creation, he enters into discussion of what he has described as the 'technically sweet'. This is the attraction of doing what is technologically possible, of pushing the boundaries of both science and ethics. The only moral fault possible is incompetence in the art of science.

He gives as an example the commandant of Auchwitz, Rudolf Höss, who in his diary describes with great satisfaction the efficient transports, the organised gassing and cremation of bodies, and the whole smooth operation of the camp. It was 'technically sweet.' The very art of the possible, of pushing the boundaries, what could be described as the Frankenstein temptation, is a very powerful one for those engaged in this activity.

It is quite useless to point out that the practices of cloning and human - animal hybrids are sick, disgusting and gravely immoral, or as more cynically said, having a high yuck factor. The power of the temptation lies in the fact that it is possible to do what is absolutely revolting: the more revolting, the greater it is. It is like a black lust, a perverse thirst: it is technically very sweet, technology has made it possible. Like the mass murder of millions in the gas chambers was made possible. So great it may be, to resist it is in the eyes of researchers a moral fault.

I remember some years back seeing a cartoon in Private Eye, showing scientists experimenting on human foetuses, each labeled Master James, Master John, Master Michael... Each of the scientists was working with great glee. It was a most cynical and sickening piece, which upset me for several days afterwards. Nevertheless it could not have hit the nail on the head better. In the eyes of such people, the doctrine of the dignity of the human person is not just an obstacle. It is the greatest possible sacrilege to their work, and to the power of 'man'. For them their work is virtually a religious crusade, something that they could well be prepared to die for as martyrs.

I shall say no more about these people, except that we should pray for their conversion. I shall move on to the next exhibit, the 'industry' of prostitution.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Rogue's gallery no. 2: pharmaceutical industry

Abortion providers may not be very popular, carry social stigma, and lack any real power by themselves. However this cannot be said about their great ally the pharmaceutical industry. This is an ancillary to health care, carries tremendous prestige in research and development, and is worth billions upon billions of dollars. To work in this sector is a highly respected profession. And most of all with their wealth and influence in healthcare, universities and government, they have enormous lobbying power.

But they have a huge vested interest in the culture of death for two very good reasons. Firstly, their biggest product line are contraceptives. People usually only need to buy medicines on an occasional one - off basis, but as for contraceptives, they will need a ready supply at all times. And some of these are glorified abortificients, such as the notorious morning after pill and the IUD coil. Go into any chemist and you will see contraceptives have a major pride of place.

Contraception is very, very big business. Proof of the fact is that part of Richard Branson's massive Virgin empire (a possible blasphemous reference to Our Lady) was built up by selling Mate's condoms. This has almost abandoned it's pretensions to 'family planning' and become a trade in obscenity. It is well known that the dividing line between contraception and abortion is very thin: both have the same aim of sterile sex for pleasure, to the denial of life. Indeed most of the major abortion providers such as Marie Stopes started existence as 'Family Planning' and contraceptive services.

Pharmaceuticals giants tend to be extremely secretive, and have much to hide. They are often targets for protesters with their experiments on animals. But their clinical trials on patients also have a reputation for being very shady. Some of you may have seen the film 'The Constant Gardener' some years back. This was a left wing political attack on the industry, accusing it misusing AIDS patients in Africa for their own research purposes. I was somewhat disappointed by it and did not think it was that good, yet it does give some insight into some of their sordid dealings.

The Constant Gardener

But this film would have been far more convincing and truthful, the murder of the two main characters would have been much more real, if it also exposed this industry's second reason for its support for the culture of death. This is its interest in human cloning and the creation of human - animal hybrids. These are the dirty works of its sister the biotechnology industry, which it owns and has a controlling interest in: the next exhibit in the rogue's gallery.