Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Feast of St. John the Apostle

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word, grant, we pray, that we may grasp with proper understanding what he has so marvelously brought to our ears. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint John, pray for us, that the life of God would abide in us.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Feast of St Stephen

Grant, Lord, we pray, that we may imitate what we worship, and so learn to love even our enemies, for we celebrate the heavenly birthday of a man who know how to pray even for his persecutors. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Antiphon: And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And falling on his knees he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord.

V. I see the heavens opened, R. And Jesus standing on the right hand of the power of God.

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

Saint Stephen, First Martyr, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who suffered for preaching the Name of Jesus Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who so closely imitated Jesus in that great virtue of charity for thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who when stoned by thine enemies, didst cast forth sparks, Pray for us. not of anger, but of love, to set on fire their hearts, harder than the stones which they threw, Pray for us. St. Stephen, having recommended thy soul to God, cried for mercy on the souls of thine enemies, Pray for us. St. Stephen, most zealous for the glory of God, b St. Stephen, most patient and constant, Pray for us. St. Stephen, pattern of chastity and purity, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose heavenly fortitude caused admiration in all, St. Stephen, by whom so many miracles were wrought, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who, in the love of God, was not inferior to the Apostles themselves, Pray for us. St. Stephen, who didst convert many to the faith of Christ, Pray for us. St. Stephen, by whom the Church has received and continues to receive such singular benefits, Pray for us. St. Stephen, of whom it is said, that the Holy Ghost, Who inhabited thy soul, shone and darted forth His rays into thy body, Pray for us. St. Stephen, whose face shone like that of an angel, Pray for us. St. Stephen, filled with the faith and the Holy Ghost, Pray for us. St. Stephen, dear to the Heart of Jesus, Pray for us.

V. Obtain for us, O blessed Stephen, the virtue of holy charity: R. For which thou wast so eminent and we are so needy

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.

Let us pray. Grant to us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, so to imitate what we revere that we may learn to love even our enemies: for we celebrate him who could even plead on behalf of his persecutors with Thy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with Thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, world without end. R. Amen.

Saint Stephen, pray for us and for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Tory MP Laura Sandys sets out the case against 'Brexit'

Guardian: Calls for a UK exit from the EU are at best perverse, and at worst unpatriotic

Article by Laura Sandys MP

Those already at the door marked “exit” embody a strange combination of defeatism and lack of ambition. They pose as the great patriots, but would any prime minister or British monarch (at least since Elizabeth I refused to marry a continental king) develop a clear policy to reduce the UK’s influence in Europe? That is what exit means – a real and highly substantive reduction in the UK’s influence with our neighbours and in our power to shape Europe’s policy. I do not see how anyone could think that a UK sitting on the outside would be a more powerful country; that withdrawal from any international club would enhance our international influence; or that leaving a trading organisation could in anyone’s mind reflect an economic strategy that will serve British business and jobs better.

And what about our own United Kingdom, an increasingly difficult settlement between four nations. For a start, withdrawal would not support a stronger union because pro-European Scotland would be back at the “independence” ballot box within months. It is Northern Ireland’s future stability, however, that would be most compromised; all political understandings would be threatened, the economy would be destabilised, and cross-border trade totally compromised. A political impact assessment of the consequences of European withdrawal for Northern Ireland would be a terrifying document to read, for the people of Northern Ireland and the coherence of the UK. Within years it would be irretrievably damaged, politically and economically.

Absolutely right. I have much respect and admiration for Laura Sandys. I think it is so sad that she is not contesting the South Thanet seat against nasty Nigel Farage.

The point about Scotland has been made before, but it is an important one. What she says about Northern Ireland is not something I had previously considered. It is very worrying to think about what would happen to the situation in Northern Ireland after 'Brexit.'

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham

I am not an ex-Anglican, but I have a certain fondness for Anglicanism and make regular use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in my private devotion. I'm even a member of the Prayer Book Society. I therefore thought it was worth forking out for the rather expensive prayer book of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is an adaptation of the Book of Common Prayer for Catholic use. It thus stands in the tradition of Book of Divine Worship, which did the same for ex-Anglicans in America, nowever, unlike the Book of Divine Worship it provides only the daily office of morning and evening prayer (along with night prayer and daytime prayer) and has no rite of communion. I have not yet read the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, so I cannot say to what extent the deviations in the Customary from the 1662 prayer book follow on from the revision of 1928.

The office of morning prayer omits the penitential prayer and reserves it for evening prayer, which seemed a bit surprising. It also tones down the language of sinfulness from the original, omitting 'there is no health in us' and 'miserable offenders.' A prayer for the Pope is added to the collection of petitions at the end of morning and evening prayer. The litany also adds prayer for the pope and prayer to Mary and saints. That of course, has the disadvantage of making the already lengthy Anglican litany even longer. I feel it is a shame that the Lord's Prayer with doxology is omitted and only the version without doxology is used at the end of morning and evening prayer.

Collects are provided for both feast days of particular significance for the England and feasts universally celebrated by Catholics. A short alternative lectionary is included at the back with short Scripture readings. I will admit that I normally use this when saying morning and evening prayer; opening up a Bible seems like an interruption in the flow of my prayer time. I suppose it is the Protestant in me that likes to distinguish Bible study time from prayer time.

A small change that does not fail to irritate me is the replacement of Holy Ghost with Holy Spirit. I know it is not very Catholic to say Holy Ghost, but as ghost lacks a syllable, it rolls off the tongue better and sounds more elegant than spirit.

I was disappointed that the Bible translation used is the RSV. This very much lacks the grandeur and dignity of the King James Bible. If the KJV was unacceptable for use in a Catholic liturgy, could the Douay-Rheims not have been used instead?

This book is very sturdily bound and will probably last quite a few years. It has three page markers which makes use a lot easier.

I don't think this is perfect, but it is wonderful to see Catholics making use of the glorious prayer book. The Customary has enriched my private devotion, even though I still use the 1662 BCP just as often (with my own addition of Marian prayers).

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Jeb Bush for President!

I am not American, but I have been known to take an interest in US politics. A few years ago, I gave John McCain my backing and he got the nomination, even if he lost to Obama. I didn't bother with the last US election; all the Republican contenders seemed like extreme fiscal conservatives.

Jeb Bush is definitely the man I'd like to see in the Whitehouse. A moderate, establishment conservative who is pro-immigration. He's even a convert to Catholicism like me. Bush definitely gets my support.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson: do those concerned about immigration want ‘forced sterilisation or one-baby policy?’

Daily Telegraph: Boris Johnson: do those concerned about immigration want ‘forced sterilisation or one-baby policy?’

Boris Johnson has suggested that people concerned about Britain's rising population are prejudiced and joked that they want "forced sterilisation or a one-baby policy".

The Mayor of London implied that those concerned about the rising numbers living in the UK were not being honest about their motives, asking: "How would people feel if the population pressure was caused entirely by white, Anglo-Saxon protestant babies?"

Saying that immigration was good for the economy, Mr Johnson added that he understood people had fears about the pressures on public services in the Capital, but insisted that curbing the numbers coming to live in the UK from overseas was not the answer.

Boris Johnson finally starts to talk sense on immigration.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

God is Impassible and Impassioned, by Rob Lister

Rob Lister, God is Impassible and Impassioned: Toward a Theology of Divine Emotion, 2013 Crossway

This is a deeply disappointing book. One might have hoped that Rob Lister would have offered a contemporary defence of the much neglected doctrine of divine impassibility, but instead he redefines impassibility beyond recognition.

Lister attempts to persuade us in this book that when Christians historically affirmed that when Christians affirmed, as with the 39 Articles and the Westminster Confessions that "God is without passions," they didn't actually mean that and that God really does have passions.

Lister's position is that God is not subject to emotional affects that are involuntarily or unexpectedly wrung from him by his creatures.

The idea of God choosing to enter emotional states voluntary seems a very problematic one. It implies a clear duality in God. On the one hand, we have the essential God who is unaffected by His creation and then we have the emotional affected God that he chooses to become. Not only does this seem to damage God's eteranal unchangeable nature, but it also makes it impossible to affirm the doctrine of divine simplicity. Rather shockingly, he makes not the slightest mention of divine simplicity in the book. Are we supposed to assume that this doctrine is not important? Or does Lister think that nobody believes in divine simplicity any more?

Lister makes the case for his position being the historic and orthodox view and endeavours to find support for it among the Patristics, the Medieval theologians and the Reformers. He finds a few odd quotations in which a few divines say something similar to his views, but on the whole he has to force their words into his mould. He handles the evidence rather misleadingly, for instance using Athanasius and the Cappadocians discussion of the incarnation as evidence that they held to some sort of qualified divine passibility. However, the issue of divine impassibility lies not in the incarnation, but in the essential attributes of the Godhead.

The author becomes particularly troubled when he gets into the Medieval era. It seems clear that Saint Anselm affirmed an absolute divine impassibility and Lister is quite embarrassed by this. He tries to offer a rather strained interpretation of Anselm. He encounters in Saint Thomas Aquinas a similar resistance to his redefinition of impassibility. I am quite sure that Aquinas would be horrified by the idea of God choosing to feel emotion. Part of the difficulty is Lister's unwillingness to examine the definition of emotion as a philosophical category. For Aquinas, every term had to be rigorously defined, where Lister leaves the concept of what emotion is rather vague.

Lister rightly rejects the model of divine suffering offered by modern theologians, such as Moltmann. Yet he does not provide a strong critique to the widespread rejection of impassibility among Evangelical theologians. He lists a number of Evangelical critics of impassibility, John Feinberg, John Frame and Millard Erickson. He argues that the model of impassibility these theologians reject is not the true one that he advocates. We might wonder whether they have really so misunderstood the doctrine of impassibility as Lister seems to think.

The author argues at first that his views are largely in line with those of Paul Helm, though Helm has recently offered some very robust criticisms of Lister's views. He later expresses disagreement with Paul Helm over the issues of divine responsiveness, with Helm denying that God is in any way affected by His creations and Lister affirming a volutary divine response to creatures. It seems to me that Lister's emphasis on God's response being voluntary risks absolutizing God's will at the expense of His nature, thus landing us in Voluntarist territory.

Lister's disagreement with Helm comes down to the different ways in which these two theologians handle divine atemporality. Helm, standing with the classic tradition, insists on an absolute atemporality. Lister follows Bruce Ware in arguing that while God is outside time, he is just as fundamentally engaged in time. We end up with yet another dualism between God's eternal essence and His assumed interaction with creation. It is this dualism that has attracted Helm's recent criticisms.

I don't see this book as an encouraging sign of the state of conservative Evangelical theology. It is a good example of the weakness of the 'New Calvinism,' the 'Young, Restless and Reformed' movement. Like the New Calvinists in general, Lister wants to affirm the classical Reformed understanding of God, yet his modern commitment to the 'Passionate God' of modern Evangelicalism leads him to compromise the integrity of that Reformed tradition. It is difficult to enjoy the emotion-driven fervour of contemporary worship music while affirming a God who is 'without passions.'

The Feast of Saint Lucy

May the glorious intercession of the Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy give us new heart, we pray, O Lord, so that we may celebrate her heavenly birthday in this present age and so behold things eternal. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Lucy, pray for us, that we may be faithful unto death.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Daily Telegraph: 'Teaching humanism in religious studies will fail pupils'

Daily Telegraph: 'Teaching humanism in religious studies will fail pupils'

Article by David Ashton

The BHA’s attempt to illustrate what a systematic study of humanism would consist of, is exactly what one would expect from trying to force humanism into religious categories; it fits like a foot in a glove.

Categories like ‘key religious texts or scriptures’, ‘early history’, ‘key figures’, ‘traditions’, ‘rituals’, ‘community’, ‘rites of passage’ ‘places and forms of worship’ and ‘festivals and celebrations’ misrepresent the nature of humanism and necessitate it becoming a less sophisticated and less demanding study than the alternative options of studying a religion.

Furthermore, much of the content specified is not distinctive to humanism as opposed to atheism, and much of it would be covered anyway in the ‘inquiring, critical and reflective’ study of religions, philosophy and ethics currently proposed by the Department for Education.

The BHA’s claim that excluding humanism is ‘discriminatory’ is a moral flashcard that detracts focus from the more relevant discussion of what content provides the most academically enriching educational contribution to the GCSE.

Edward Feser: Causality and Radioactive decay

Edward Feser: Causality and Radioactive decay

'Those who know some science but not a lot of philosophy very often assume that when a Scholastic philosopher says something about the nature of causality, or substance, or matter, or the like, then he is making a claim that stands or falls with what physics tells us, or at any rate should stand or fall with what physics tells us. But this is a category mistake. Scholastic metaphysics is not in competition with physics, but approaches the phenomena at a different (and indeed deeper) level of analysis. Its claims do not stand or fall with the findings of physics, any more than the claims of arithmetic stand or fall with the findings of physics. Indeed, like arithmetic, the basic theses of Scholastic metaphysics are (so the Scholastic argues) something any possible physics must presuppose.

Sometimes the critics assume that Scholastic metaphysics is in competition with physics because they are themselves making question-begging metaphysical assumptions. For instance, they might assume that any rationally justifiable claim about the nature of matter simply must be susceptible of formulation in the mathematical language of physics, or must be susceptible of empirical falsification. They are essentially making a metaphysics out of physics. Only physics can tell us anything about the nature of physical reality (so the critic supposes), so any claim about the nature of physical reality is implicitly, even if not explicitly, a claim of physics. As we will see below, this cannot possibly be right. Physics cannot even in principle tell us everything there is to know about physical reality (let alone reality more generally). But even if the assumption in question could be right, it simply begs the question against the Scholastic merely to assert it, since the Scholastic rejects this assumption, and on the basis of arguments that need to be answered rather than ignored (arguments I’ll discuss below).

Sometimes the conflation of empirical and metaphysical issues is due less to such large-scale philosophical assumptions than to a simple fallacy of equivocation. Both physicists and Scholastic metaphysicians use terms like “cause,” “matter,” and the like. A superficial reading therefore often leads critics to assume that they are addressing the same issues, when in fact they are very often not using the key terms in the same sense.

Sometimes the conflation is due to sheer intellectual sloppiness. Critics will formulate the issues in ridiculously sweeping terms, making peremptory claims to the effect that “Aristotelianism was refuted by modern science,” for example. In fact, of course, the labels “Aristotelianism” and “modern science” each cover a large number of distinct and logically independent ideas and arguments, and these need carefully to be disentangled before the question of the relationship between Scholastic metaphysics and modern physics can fruitfully be addressed. It is no good to say (for example) that since Aristotle’s geocentrism and theory of natural place have been falsified, “therefore” we should not take seriously his theory of act and potency or the account of causality that rests on it. This is simply a non sequitur. Such issues are completely independent of one another, logically speaking (regardless of the contingent historical association between them).'

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

O God, Father of mercies, who placed your people under the singular protection of your Son's most holy Mother, grant that all who invoke the Blessed Virgin of Guadalupe, may seek with ever more lively faith the progress of peoples in the ways of justice and of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us and all who are involved in the pro-life movement.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Daily Telegraph: What woman could ever vote Ukip?

Daily Telegraph: What woman could ever vote Ukip?

Article by Victoria Lambert

'And while, of course, we need to consider how we fit into Europe in the 21st century – given that many voters weren’t even born when we joined the Common Market in 1973 – we do have cause to be grateful to the EU for measures such as secure pension rights for women.
On Twitter a few weeks ago, I asked the question: why would any woman vote for Ukip? I certainly felt the full force of Ukippers’, um, loyalty to the cause, and their frustration that they feel ignored. Most were polite but simply didn’t understand why the country shouldn’t revert to a time when men and women knew their place and their roles were more clearly defined.
That’s fine, for them, really it is. Because there will always be some men, and a few women, who think life in a Fifties time warp – with fewer foreigners and women who eschew jeans – was better. more manageable.

And it doesn’t really matter to the rest of us that Godfrey Bloom once quipped that “no employer with a brain in the right place would employ a young, single, free woman”, or that Farage’s reaction was: “Dear old Godders! Godfrey’s comment has been proved so right.” Not really. Pair of pub bores after a few too many shandies.

Yet it must concern any woman thinking of voting purple that the party’s only female MEP, Marta Andreasen, defected to the Tories last year. Speaking to the BBC, she said: ''[Farage] doesn’t try to involve intelligent professional women in positions of responsibility in the party. He thinks women should be in the kitchen or in the bedroom.”

And so women who care about pay, pensions and family rights, women who want to contribute to debate on these issues, will vote for parties that take them seriously. Vote for Ukip? Show me the turkey who would vote for Christmas.'

The Feast of Saint Damasus

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may constantly exalt the merits of your Martyrs, whom Pope Saint Damasus so venerated and loved. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Damasus, pray for Pope Francis, that his leadership and ministry may be marked by holiness.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, hear us
Christ, graciously hear us

God the Father of heaven,
have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.

Holy Trinity, one God,
have mercy on us.

Holy Mary,
pray for us.

Holy Mother of God,
pray for us.

Holy Virgin of virgins,
pray for us.

Mother of Christ,
pray for us.

Mother of Divine Grace,
pray for us.

Mother most pure,
pray for us.

Mother most chaste,
pray for us.

Mother inviolate,
pray for us.

Mother undefiled,
pray for us.

Mother most amiable,
pray for us.

Mother most admirable,
pray for us.

Mother of good counsel,
pray for us.

Mother of our Creator,
pray for us.

Mother of our Saviour,
pray for us.

Virgin most prudent,
pray for us.

Virgin most venerable,
pray for us.

Virgin most renowned,
pray for us.

Virgin most powerful,
pray for us.

Virgin most merciful,
pray for us.

Virgin most faithful,
pray for us.

Mirror of justice,
pray for us.

Seat of wisdom,
pray for us.

Cause of our joy,
pray for us.

Spiritual vessel,
pray for us.

Vessel of honour,
pray for us.

Singular vessel of devotion,
pray for us.

Mystical rose,
pray for us.

Tower of David,
pray for us.

Tower of ivory,
pray for us.

House of gold,
pray for us.

Ark of the covenant,
pray for us.

Gate of heaven,
pray for us.

Morning star,
pray for us.

Health of the sick,
pray for us.

Refuge of sinners,
pray for us.

Comforter of the afflicted,
pray for us.

Help of Christians,
pray for us.

Queen of Angels,
pray for us.

Queen of Patriarchs,
pray for us.

Queen of Prophets,
pray for us.

Queen of Apostles,
pray for us.

Queen of Martyrs,
pray for us.

Queen of Confessors,
pray for us.

Queen of Virgins,
pray for us.

Queen of all Saints,
pray for us.

Queen conceived without original sin,
pray for us.

Queen assumed into heaven,
pray for us.

Queen of the most holy Rosary,
pray for us.

Queen of Peace,
pray for us.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,
that we, Thy servants,
may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:
and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.
Through Christ, our Lord.


Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Feast of Saint Ambrose

O God, who made the Bishop Saint Ambrose a teacher of the Catholic faith and a model of apostolic courage, raise up in your Church men after your own heart to govern her with courage and wisdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Ambrose, pray for us, for Milan and for all hymn writers.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Daily Telegraph: 2014: the year racism went mainstream

Daily Telegraph: 2014: the year racism went mainstream

Article by Dan Hodges

'Slowly but surely, the rhetoric has intensified. Slowly but surely, the hunt for policy prescriptions to match the rhetoric has intensified. And slowly but surely, the line of what we regard as a “moderate” or “sensible” or even “acceptable” contribution to the debate surrounding immigration has shifted further and further back.

I suspect that if someone had predicted even as recently as 2010 that we would see giant government billboards driven around our streets, telling migrants to “go home”, they would have been accused of paranoia. Similarly, if they’d warned that the government would start introducing, and publicising, random spot checks of suspected illegal migrants on the tubes, buses and railways, with particular emphasis on locations with high multi-ethnic populations, they’d have faced charges of hysteria. What, I wonder, would people have said if someone had claimed government ministers were preparing a policy of standing back and letting refuges drown, in order to discourage other refugees from attempting to reach the sanctuary of southern Europe?

All of these things has happened. They are not the product of the fevered imagination of out-of-touch liberal commentators. They are real policies, implemented by the government of the day. And yet as each of those policies has been unveiled, it is those who have condemned them, and the toxic atmosphere that has lead to their introduction, who have been portrayed as standing outside the moderate mainstream.'

I just love Dan Hodges. Definitely the most sensible person writing for the Daily Telegraph.

Am I Metropolitan?

The opinion that mass immigration is a good thing has come to be regarded as a characteristic of the 'Metropolitan elite.' These are a distinctive breed whose views are apparently out of touch with the rest of the population.

So being a defender of mass immigration, am I one of these Metropolitan types?

I am educated to postgraduate level in a humanities subject. I work in the healthcare sector. Those are probably typical traits of the Guardian class. On the other hand, I live in a provincial and fairly working-class town. I'm also a Tory and hold traditional views about the family. So I'm not sure that I'm a representative of the so-called Metropolitan class.

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Feast of Saint Nicholas

O God, who didst adorn by the working of countless miracles the holy bishop Nicholas: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the flames of hell. Through our Lord. Amen

Saint Nicholas, pray for us, that we may always be generous and ready to respond to the needs of others.

LMS Chairman: Additional Thoughts on Headcovering

LMS Chairman: Additional Thoughts on Headcovering

'Traditional Catholics are not shutting up about it. Online, they are going on and on and on about it. There are loads of video testimonials from young ladies themselves on the subject, and the practice is spreading. There are still plenty of uncovered ladies at the Traditional Mass in England today, but more are plucking up the courage to wear a mantilla ('chapel veil'), or something equivalent. The very counter-cultural nature of the practice makes it attractive. The more the liberals attack it, the more it becomes a badge of honour.

Like so many liberal arguments of the 1960s and 1970s, the attack on head coverings for women looks, with hindsight, terribly unconvincing, a muddled historical and theological contrivance to placate modern and Protestant sensibilities by destroying something distinctive in Catholic culture.

The argument was, in a nutshell, that women were (oppressed and) wore headcoverings in St Paul's day, so there can be no theological significance to the practice. This makes all the classic mistakes: it mischaracterises what the Catholic practice actually is; it utilises an utterly lazy account of the original cultural context; and it ignores the arguments in favour of the practice, in this case expressed in Scripture itself. (Or have the liberals removed St Paul from the canon of Scripture on account of his being an old misogynist?)'

Rorate Caeli: FIUV Position Paper: Headcoverings in Church

Rorate Caeli: FIUV Position Paper: Headcoverings in Church

A robust defence of the apostolic practice of women's headcovering from Joseph Shaw.

Feast of Saint Clement of Alexandria

O GOD, who hast enlightened thy Church by the teaching of thy servant Clement: Enrich us evermore, we beseech thee, with thy heavenly grace, and raise up faithful witnesses who by their life and doctrine will set forth the truth of thy salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saint Clement of Alexandria, pray for us and for all theologians.

Saint Clement had a few odd ideas, and he is not recognised by Latin Catholics as a saint any more. But he is still honored by the Oriental Orthodox (and some Eastern Catholics) and Anglicans.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Throne, Altar, Liberty: Orthodoxy is More Than Fundamentalism - Not Less!

Throne, Altar, Liberty: Orthodoxy is More Than Fundamentalism - Not Less!

'The publication of The Fundamentals, the statements by the Niagara Bible Conference and the Presbyterian General Assembly, and the entire fundamentalist movement in general arose in response to a specific problem – the growth of unbelief, formulated as doctrine, in the Protestant denominations. This formulated unbelief was known as modernism or (theological) liberalism. Either term is apt because it was a product of the Modern Age and the predominant ideology of that Age which is liberalism. The Modern Age was an Age of rebellion against tradition and authority, which liberalism regarded as shackles that robbed people of their freedom and blinders that kept from them the light of reason and science. Needless to say, this type of thinking, which had gradually grown up in the academic world as Renaissance humanism, the rationalism of the “Age of Reason”, and the “Enlightenment” took the university further and further away from its medieval, theocentric, Christian roots, eventually produced the attitude that C. S. Lewis and Owen Barfield dubbed “chronological snobbery”, i.e., the attitude that says “its well enough for people of past ages, who didn’t know any better, to believe in things like miracles and the virgin birth, but people like me in this enlightened, modern, age in which we live cannot be expected to believe such things”. When this attitude is held by a clergyman or theological professor it takes the form of theological liberalism, which regards the virgin birth of Jesus Christ as a story His disciples later made up (or borrowed from pagan mythology) and says the same thing about His deity or uses the term “divinity” instead of deity, meaning by such a term a concept like “the spark of divinity that is in all of us”, borrowed from the early Gnostic heretics. The Apostles said that Jesus rose from the dead, the liberals taught, because they could feel Him living on inside themselves the way you or I might continue to still feel the presence of a loved one who has passed away. The essential message of Christianity, modernism taught, was that we should love all people and treat them fairly and justly, reading modern egalitarianism into the concepts of “fairness” and “justice”, and all that stuff about the Son of God, coming down from heaven, being born of a virgin, dying for our sins, and rising triumphant over sin and death, was just window dressing. All of that was unnecessary anyway, liberalism taught, because the whole concept of “sin” comes from an outdated and barbaric understanding of morality that we have outgrown in modern times.

With garbage like this coming to be taught from the pulpit there was a clear need for something like fundamentalism to reaffirm and fight for the truths that Christians had historically and traditionally believed which the modernists or liberals were denying.'

The Feast of Saint Barbara

Oh God, who among the other miracles of Your power, have given the victory of martyrdom, grant, we beseech You, that we, who are celebrating the heavenly Blessed Barbara, Your Virgin and Martyr, may by her example draw nearer to you, Amen.

Saint Barbara, your courage is much stronger than the forces of hurricanes and the power of lightening. Be always by our side so that we, like you, may face all storms, wars, trials and tribulations with the same fortitude with which you faced yours. O Beautiful Maiden once imprisoned in a high tower, protect us from the lightning and fire that rages in the sky and the discord of war. Keep us alert and protect us from the dangers that surround us. Holy Mary Mother of Jesus intercessor for us all; we pray to assure receiving of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist at the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen

Saint Barbara, pray for us, that we love Christ and be faithful to Him unto death.

The Feast of St. John of Damscus

Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint John of Damscus, pray for us, for those who teach theology and for Christians in the Middle East.

Rorate Caeli: Wear the Veil Day- Show your devotion to Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother

Rorate Caeli: Wear the Veil Day- Show your devotion to Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother

'Several years later, I helped Andrea Hines promote the second annual Wear the Veil Day in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina. I first met Mrs. Hines in 2012 outside an abortion mill where I had gone to pray against abortion with the few members of the Latin Mass Society of Belmont Abbey College. Mrs. Hines had organized the prayer event, and with her blessing we prayed aloud the Rosary in Latin.

A year later I met her again at the Charlotte diocese’s Eucharistic Congress. She was handing out veils to women and I asked her why she was doing this. She explained that when a woman wears a veil she shows her love for Our Lord and makes a commitment to the modesty of Our Blessed Mother. Wearing a veil for a woman, I came to understand, was a way of living your faith and reminding yourself and others that you are obedient to Church teachings, especially the teachings on modesty and chastity.

My experience with that second Wear the Veil Day inspired me to promote the Third Annual Wear the Veil Day in honor of Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother. When a woman wears a veil with the same understanding expressed by Mrs. Hines, she helps other women and men see that there women among us who seek to imitate Mary. As men, we may not be able to wear a veil, but we can certainly help women who do promote this beautiful devotion.

I pray that women across the nation will participate in the Wear the Veil Day on Dec. 8, and that men will lend them their support.'

LMS Chairman: Baseball hats in church in Hexham and Newcastle

LMS Chairman: Baseball hats in church in Hexham and Newcastle

'It is interesting to see the obligation of men extended to outside events (such as open-air Masses), when men would at that time naturally have worn hats outside, whereas the obligation of women is tied more to the reception of Holy Communion.

It's it odd that no-one seems to think that this obligation was oppressive to men, when in fact it would have occasioned noticeable discomfort in outdoor settings, either from the sun or from the cold, and represented a deviation from normal practice. Women, on the other hand, are effectively told: just do what you'd do anyway, wear something on your head.

Today fashions have changed, and the obligation is no longer in canon law, though the Scriptural basis of the obligation, St Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, is still there, between 1 Cor 10 and 1 Cor 12. Since few people wear hats or anything else on their heads in the West, it is the practice of women putting something on in church which now strikes us as surprising. The only thing which has survived is a general sense that men take off their hats inside, which is actually quite a recent thing, as these drawings of the House of Commons demonstrate: men, like women, were entirely comfortable wearing hats indoors into the 20th century. Taking them off in church or, in Protestant practice, taking them off specifically for prayer in church, was a dramatic gesture.'

Sunday, 30 November 2014

To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism

To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism, 2013 Anglican House Publishers, California

To Be a Christian is an modern catechism produced for the conservative Anglican Church in North America. It is not a thick comprehensive volume like the Roman Catholic catechism, yet it is a more substantial work than the tiny catechism in the Book of Common Prayer. The book affirms the abiding authority of the 39 Articles, thus leaving Anglo-Catholics to continue their hermeneutical gymnastics.

Some Evangelical Anglicans have given the impression that this is an openly Anglo-Catholic work, yet it has a foreword by J.I. Packer. Furthermore, the decision to begin the book with an explanation of the Gospel is a very Evangelical touch. It even has a sinner's prayer for the inquirer to say should she be converted by reading it.

The book follows the usual pattern of catechism with expositions of the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. The section on the Bible seems to affirm the Verbal Inspiration of Scripture, but avoids giving a definite statement on Inerrancy. This catechism tries hard to avoid offending either party of Anglicans. The statements on baptism avoid anything definite suggestion of baptismal regeneration and it is not clear at all what actually happens in communion.

I like the way that it recommends Christians adopt a rule of life that includes saying the daily office. My own spiritual life has been greatly enriched by saying morning and evening prayer using either the Book of Common Prayer or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is bound in a durable imitation leather cover.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

A Kiwi and an Emu- Headcoverings: Now and Forever or Then and Now Never?

A Kiwi and an Emu- Headcoverings: Now and Forever or Then and Now Never?

It’s said that the first step towards solving a problem is to admit we have one. And we have one. We don’t like headcoverings. In fact, we don’t like them so much, that we approach this passage of Scripture trying to find ways to avoid applying it. But if we are to give this passage a fair shake, we need to hear what Paul is saying here with a heart leaning toward obedience. So before we even get to the passage, let’s quickly turn an eye toward ourselves.

Why do we not like headcoverings? It’s not just because it is not a culturally normative thing today. Is communion culturally normative? Is baptism? Even though both of these had a wider cultural background in Biblical times, neither of them does today. We find ourselves having to explain to people what these church-specific traditions are all about yet we still practice them. Headcoverings, on the other hand, are not just culturally meaningless, they are culturally negative.

Creed Code Cult: Daniel and the Universal Kingdom

Creed Code Cult: Daniel and the Universal Kingdom

Daniel 2 contains a fascinating prophecy which speaks of God’s plan to set up a Kingdom upon earth that is not of human origin and will come to cover the whole earth. Christians as far back as the Early Church Fathers have interpreted this prophecy as referring to the Catholic Church being established by Christ, expanding all over the world, and lasting forever. After reflecting upon the prophecy, I see no other plausible interpretation.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Cameron's Red Lines

So Mr Cameron set out his red lines for re-negotiating the EU treaties.

I'm awfully glad he dropped all that nonsense about ending Free Movement of Labour. The very notion of other European governments agreeing too deprive their citizens of a right they currently enjoy is absurd. Whoever suggested to Cameron that it was a good idea to posture over that should be sacked. Still, the change in tone is very welcome.

I'm really not sure that setting out these red lines is a good idea. What price is he prepared to pay for them? If the other European leaders think Cameron wants to stay in the EU, they can now demand whatever they want from him in exchange for these concessions.

Is immigration really the most important issue between Britain and the EU? Wouldn't it be better for Cameron to demand other reforms that would have a much more significant benefit for the British economy? By making immigration the key issue, Cameron is not only playing into the hands of UKIP, but showing his usual obsession with short-term political gain.

As ever, politicians never consider the potential unintended consequences of their policies. Supposing that Cameron gets his way and stops child benenfit being paid to children outside the UK. Won't that lead to more immigrants bringing their children with them to the UK and putting more demand on schools and health authorities?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Feast of Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Almighty ever-living God, who gave Saint Catherine of Alexandria to your people as a Virgin and an invincible Martyr, grant that through her intercession we may be strengthened in faith and constancy and spend ourselves without reserve for the unity of the Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Catherine, pray for us and for all Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Children of Promise, by Michael Keiser

Michael Keiser, Children of Promise: An Introduction to Western Rite Orthodoxy, 2004 AuthorHouse

I read this as the subject of Western-rite Orthodoxy is a dreadfully interesting one. Unfortunately, this is not a book that offers any kind of in-depth exploration of the Western Rite.

Children of Promise is basically one of those 'basic introduction to Orthodoxy' but coming at it from a Western Rite perspective. As might be expected from such a book, it deals with the usual subjects, sacraments, prayer, devotional life, but is remarkably light on doctrine. The only chapter where the western rite angle has much significance are the chapters on church decoration and vestments. Interestingly, Keiser accepts the use of statues in churches as valid. Some Western Rite Orthodox accept only the private use of statues.

The final chapter gives a summary of the history of Western Rite Orthodoxy. I suppose the decision to put it at the back of the book reflects the fact that Orthodoxy is a living tradition. Introduction books that begin with a long discussion of history end up coming across as very dry. Unfortunately, Keiser does not deal with any of the really interesting issues about the Western Rite, such as Orthodox objections to it or the question of how Western Rite practitioners should handle post-Schism traditions. Even at an introductory level, those questions ought to be approached.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Feast of Saint Cecilia

O God, who gladden us each year with the feast day of your handmaid Saint Cecilia, grant, we pray, that what has been devoutly handed down concerning her may offer us examples to imitate and proclaim the wonders worked in his servants by Christ your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Cecilia, pray for us and for all musicians.

Now haste ye to your crowns, cries Cecilia to her brethren; and soon the virgin herself is led before the judge.

She despises his angry threats and laughs at his false gods' wherefore the innocent maiden is declared deserving of death.

She remains long enclosed in the bath, while the furnace rages beneath; but stronger is the divine fire that burns in the virgin's heart.

Thrice does the barbarous lictor strike the innocent victim: he cannot accomplish his crime, for Christ has granted a delay to the martyr.

As her last hour draws nigh, she devotes her ancestral mansion to God, then free she wings her flight to the nuptials of the Lamb.

Hail! body of the martyr, long hidden in the sombre crypt; shining with a new glory, thou art restored to thy mother Rome.

The Virgin of virgins watches over thee, lest thou fade as a flower in the darkness, while thou liest empurpled with the blood of thy martyrdom, and clad in thy golden robe.

Sleep in thy silent marble tomb, while they spirit enthroned in heaven hymns its glad joy, and graciously receives our prayers.

May the happy choirs of virgins praise thee, O Jesus, their Spouse; to the Father and the Paraclete be equal and eternal glory. Amen

Friday, 21 November 2014

Guardian: What Mark Reckless said about migrants goes beyond another Ukip win

Guardian: What Mark Reckless said about migrants goes beyond another Ukip win

Article by Pukkah Punjabi

'In Mark Reckless the UK has an MP who has appeared to call for the repatriation of migrants. Never mind that these migrants came here and are living here entirely legally, that the UK is their home and, for some, has been for decades. They have built lives here and their children were born here. These are all minor details in a political debate that has identified migrants as a problem and therefore, entirely logically, seeks to remove that problem.'

Guardian: A Ukip vote is a practical decision, but it’s not a moral one

Guardian: A Ukip vote is a practical decision, but it’s not a moral one

Article by Hugh Muir

So let’s look again at the sentiments and positions to which those who have channelled their legitimate protests through Ukip in Rochester and Strood are aligning themselves. A leader who complains about foreign voices on the train and says he would not want eastern Europeans as neighbours. A party that teams up with a far-right Polish Holocaust denier in Europe, the better to ensure that it continues to receive millions of euros in public funding. A party whose champion in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire was recently forced to apologise after allegedly calling the head of a Christian charity a paedophile.

The voter is entitled to view these things in line with their personal priorities. They may accept the vileness of much Ukip does but nevertheless take the view that this is of less consequence than the party’s usefulness as a stick with which to beat the other parties.

That is a practical decision. But let’s not pretend that it is a moral one, or that it is right to absolve their decent supporters of any moral responsibility. In the aftermath of Rochester, mainstream politics must reconnect with alienated communities. People have deep concerns. Politics must work harder to address them, or to at least make it plain that they understand the depth of those concerns. But they must not pander, as they have been pandering, and they should not infantalise the electorate. It is really not unreasonable to ask that decent British people behave decently.

Of course, the media must also take responsibility for broadcasting these objectionable views. I would venture to suggest that the BBC should cease interviewing Nigel Farage, or at least replace his voice with an actor's voice, like they used to do with Gerry Adams.

Another UKIP MP

So Reckless won another seat for UKIP. Part of me was hoping this would happen, not because I'm one of those Tories who secretly supports UKIP. No, I was hoping this would happen to demonstrate that Cameron's strategy of trying to appease UKIP voters is wrong.

Cameron needs to stop trying to ape UKIP and talk tough on immigration and the EU. He needs to start showing leadership and telling the public why Farage and UKIP are wrong.

What we need to hear is Cameron calling for a positive vision of Britain in the European Union. Cameron needs to talk about the benefits of immigration; how immigrants are contributing to our economy and delivering essential public services, especially in the NHS.

No matter what Farage says, Britain belongs in the EU and immigration is good for Britain. That is the message we need to hear from Mr. Cameron. This is the time for confrontation, not appeasement.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Feast of Saint Edmund the Martyr

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Saint Edmund, pray for us, for all kings and queens and for East Anglia.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Treasury of Novenas

Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, Treasury of Novenas, 2004 Catholic Book Publishing Corp.

A Novena is a prayer that is said over a course of nine days. The practice of saying these prayers is a very beautiful one. It brings us into a habit of persistent prayer and devotion, as we bring our Earthly concerns before God and the saints.

This handy volume provides a wealth of novenas for the Catholic to say. They follow the course of the Christian year, providing special novenas for advent, Christmas, lent and easter. They are accompanied by theological meditations, Bible verses and additional prayers. A series of rosary meditations are included. I particularly like some of the peculiar litanies in this book (for private devotion only), such as the Litany of Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael.

I rather wish that a larger number of saints' novenas had been included. Unsurpisingly, Saint Philomena's novena is not here. I am particularly fond of saying her novena. Nevertheless this is an invaluable resource for Catholics.

The Treasury of Novenas has a lovely soft leather binding and has some nice illustrations too.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cappadocian Light: Some early thoughts on monarchism

Cappadocian Light: Some early thoughts on monarchism

Likewise, Monarchy reminds us that the current power games politicians play is not RULE at its finest.  Monarchy reminds us that these cheap, jaded politicians do not reflect the Reign of the Resurrected Christ.  Even if a Monarch never was a liturgical icon of heaven, the idea (Plato, thou dost haunt us to this day!) of that reminds us modern republicanism certainly is not.  To quote N. T. Wright, “Monarchy acts as an angled mirror that allows us to see around the corners of this fallen world into a more beautiful one.”

Started RCIA Today!

Our RCIA course started today. Our parish priest is running it, as the laywoman who had previously ran the course stepped down this year.

There were eight of us, most of whom were lapsed Catholics rather than new converts. This week we were sharing about who we are and our experience of Catholicism.

I shared about my experience of being brought up in an Evangelical family, the son of a Catholic convert to Protestantism. I explained how I had been brought up to be suspicious of Catholicism, but had progressed to be an aggressive Paisleyite anti-Catholic. I told the group how my studies in theology had raised questions in my mind and this had led me to realise I needed to become a Catholic. I also shared about how happy and joyful I had become in my newly discovered devotion to Mary.



If God wants women priests and bishops- he wants them for the whole church. I cannot accept that the Church of England- which makes up only a tiny fraction of global Christianity- has authority to make such immense decisions alone. Only when Rome and Constantinople agree – can we possibly proclaim the ordination of women as a decision from God. Yet Rome and Constantinople remain utterly opposed. Subsequently the Anglican place within mainstream Christianity is now seriously undermined. It has become a major stumbling block on the path to Church unity.

Here then are the main reasons as to why Pope Francis claimed “the door was closed” on such innovation within the Catholic church. We must now pray for those Anglicans waking up to a very different body to the one they were baptised in. And we must prepare room for all those who come to realise that orthodoxy is now something that, by definition, must exist elsewhere.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Modest Modern Maidens: My Thoughts on Head Coverings

Modest Modern Maidens: My Thoughts on Head Coverings

So what exactly is my stance and personal take-away on this issue? I believe that both uncovering and covering are totally Biblical, relevant, beautiful, and important for sons and daughters of God. Now, I know that for a lot of you, this is probably hard to accept, as the practice of covering is not only so widely misunderstood, but it also seems cumbersome, unfashionable, and uncomfortable in our modern Christian world. Hey, I can totally relate to this, as these were my exact thoughts and feelings toward the whole issue. But I urge you, dear sisters, to approach God with a softness of heart towards this issue as with any other. Ask our Father to lead and guide you through His Son in this particular aspect which has close and important ties to our Biblical femininity.

More precisely, I believe head covering for women at large to be a symbol of a principle, that principle being the focal point of my worship experience, as it gives a visible testimony to who I worship and my own individual choice of submission and surrender to Him and His Son. As one sister pointed out to me, it's like baptism. Baptism is a symbol of the principle of cleansing from sin and receiving the Spirit of Christ. Likewise, covering or uncovering the head is a symbol of the principle of accepting the Divine pattern of the Father and His Son according to 1 Corinthians 8:6 and surrendering to the headship order.

Modest Fashion Blog: Why do women (from different cultures and religions) cover their hair?

Modest Fashion Blog: Why do women (from different cultures and religions) cover their hair?

The reason why Christian women cover their hair is found in Corinthians. It explains; “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”(1 Corinthians 11:3). A head-covering according to Christianity is a symbol of submission to authority and therefore is forbidden to be worn by man who was made in God’s image and does not submit to a higher authority. Woman however, was made for the sake of man and she; “ought to have a symbol of authority on her head” (1 Corinthians 11:11) to symbolise her submission to male authority.

A second reason as to why Christian women cover their hair is “because of the Angels“ (1 Corinthians 11:10). This passage has various interpretations, one of which is that women must cover their heads so as not to illustrate disobedience to God and man.

In today’s culture, many Christian women still wear head coverings to show their devotion to their husbands. It is also important for Christian women to be modest and not attract unnecessary attention. Covering her hair is one way she does so. There are no specific head covering guidelines from what I have found. Most women cover their hair in a way that they feel comfortable with. Veils, caps, scarves, and snoods are among the most popular choices for Christian women who cover their hair.

Collect for the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

O God, by whose gift Saint Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with unfailing charity the needy and those afflicted. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Elizabeth, pray for us and for Hungary.

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Feast of Saint Justinian I

Today is the feast of Saint Justinian for Orthodox Christians.

St. Justinian was one of the greatest of Christian Roman emperors. He regained much of the empire's declining glory, he opposed the heresies of Monophyisitism and Nestorianism and also codified Roman law.

Saint Justinian, pray for us and all monarchs and rulers and pray that the Church would steadfastly oppose all heresies and errors.

Catholic Supporters of UKIP #2

In an earlier post I mentioned my difficulty in understanding the mentality of Catholics who support the United Kingdom Independence Party. Continuing with that train of thought...

So you are a Catholic sitting in your parish church at mass. Sitting next to you is a big Indian family from Kerala. In front of you is an African lady. There is a guy behind you is Polish. Half the people on the other side of the church are Filipino. Everybody in the church who is white and not Polish is descended from Irish immigrants. One might expect you to have a fairly positive view of immigration.

Another thought.

The EU is a big, lumbering bureaucratic institution with a certain amount of financial self-service going on among its elite. Well guess what, the Roman Catholic Church is a big, lumbering bureaucratic institution with a certain amount of financial self-service going on among its elite. One would imagine that a person who is willing to stay in the Catholic Church is going to take a somewhat realistic view of bureaucratic institutions and is likely to favour reforming them rather than giving up on them.

So I just don't get Catholics who support UKIP.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Daily Telegraph: Has David Cameron finally learnt that doing an impression of Nigel Farage is a bad idea?

Daily Telegraph: Has David Cameron finally learnt that doing an impression of Nigel Farage is a bad idea?

Article by Dan Hodges

If David Cameron never had to mention the word “immigration” again he would be the happiest man in the land. His dream is to be the Prime Minister who anchored Britain at the heart of a reformed Europe, not the man who dragged us through the European exit door. He entered Downing Street to radically reconstruct the state, shepherd the nation through the storm unleashed after the 2008 crash, and recast Britain’s place in the world. Slagging off Romanian beggars wasn’t on his to do list.
It still isn’t. But he has to prove that to people. All too often, when Nigel Farage and his disciples taunt the Prime Minister with “David Cameron? He’s not one of us”, the response is “Oh, come on. That’s a bit harsh. We’re really not all that different”. Next time the charge is levelled Cameron should reply: “Damn right I'm not. And this is why”.

If I was living in Rochester I’d vote Tory next week. But then I’d vote for Hairy Knorm if I thought it would keep the Holocaust-denial embracing, Cenotaph-crashing cultists of Ukip at bay.
But I suspect that most Labour voters won’t. Some will respond to the shameful call from Ed Miliband’s office to vote Ukip to give Cameron a bloody nose. Others will vote Ukip to give Ed Miliband a bloody nose. And the rest will either stay at home or stick with Labour, because when David Cameron pretends he’s not all that different from Nigel Farage, some people do actually believe him.

It’s too late for David Cameron to build an anti-Ukip coalition in Rochester for next week’s by-election. But there’s still time to build one for 2015.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Guardian: Opportunistic politics is pushing Britain closer to an EU exit

Guardian: Opportunistic politics is pushing Britain closer to an EU exit

Article by Sajjad Karim

The need for greater direction and discipline within the Conservative party will be critical in the run-up to the election; two Tory MPs have already defected to Ukip and questions remain as to what role some Conservatives may have played in this. Without discipline, the danger is that Hannan and company could drag the Conservative party further to the right, leading to the party losing its direction, its moral compass and a balanced perspective on the UK’s engagement with the EU – and with all of that the general election. We abandon the centre-right at our peril.

The fact remains that we are within an EU that has not yet seen the change it needs and that many people, including myself, have been calling for. Instead we see the same old guard occupying all the key roles.

But we must play the hand we have been dealt. And instead of advocating an EU exit, something that would see Britain subjected to many of the same trading regulations without having a say in what those regulations should be, we need to remain a part of the club so we can fight our corner and help shift the union towards the reform it needs.

The EU backdated bill was unfair and unreasonable and has understandably been criticised. But we should be careful that the issue is not used to propel a populist narrative that creates the mood music for a withdrawal from the EU.

Collect for the Feast of Saint Josaphat

Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Josaphat, pray for us and for Ukraine.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Collect for the Feast of St. Martin of Tours

O God, who are glorified in the Bishop Saint Martin both by his life and death, make new, we pray, the wonders of your grace in our hearts, that neither death nor life may separate us from your love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Martin, pray for us and for all soldiers.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Mary for Evangelicals, by Tim Perry

Tim Perry, Mary for Evangelicals: Towards an Understanding of the Mother of Our Lord, 2006 Inter-Varsity Press, Illinois

In Evangelical churches it is not unusual for the pastor to make a comment in a sermon normally preached around Christmas-time:

"I know the Catholics go too far in what they say about Mary, but we Protestants also make the mistake of not talking about Mary. We don't want to go as far as Catholics, but there are a lot of great things that we can say about Mary."

This is a nice suggestion, but the fact this same comment gets made every Christmas only shows the unwillingness of Evangelicals to devote any real attention to Mariology. Thankfully, Tim Perry, an Evangelical Anglican minister offers a thorough Evangelical evaluation of the field of Mariology.

Of course, the charge may be made that Tim Perry is unrepresentative of Evangelicals in general. While Anglicans constitute a significant corner of British Evangelicalism, Perry's broad ecumenically-minded Evangelicalism may not seem so familiar in the USA (and would have been repugnant to me when I was an Evangelical Protestant). Some of his comments on the New Testament would get him banished from some more conservative circles and his stress on the importance of tradition would make Evangelicals uncomfortable. Yet Perry is still one committed to the project of Evangelical Protestantism and stands on the primacy of Scripture as an authority.

Perry begins with a survey of the New Testament material that mentions the Mother of our Lord. While he acknowledges that Mary appears only occasionally in Scripture, she occupies a pivotal position in terms of both narrative and theology. Perry makes a few comments that made me wince, being an inerrantist and uncomfortable with some of the claims of Biblical criticism. He is clearly on the more liberal wing of Evangelicalism.

He then moves on to the development of Mariology in Christian history. He begins with the Ante-Nicene identification of Mary as the 'New Eve,' before moving on to the Council of Ephesus recognising Our Lady as Theotokos, along the way discussing her perpetual virginity. He also covers Medieval and modern ideas. He tends to praise those theologians who honour Mary while decrying excesses. When it comes to the Reformation, he is keen to point out the residue of Marian emphases in Zwingli and Luther. He identifies Calvin as primarily a critic of Mariology and does not address the question of whether or not Calvin believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. Moving into recent times, he notes that feminist and liberation theology have both gone in two direections, on the one side a maximalism that turns Mary into a goddess and a Biblical minimalism that emphasises Mary as a ordinary woman. Unsurprisingly, Perry seems more comfortable with the latter.

Perry tries to be very charitable to Catholic doctrines about Our Lady and does his best to portray them in a positive light. I was genuinely uncertain as I read it how much Perry was going to accept as valid. In concluding he stressed the centrality of Mary's role as Mother of God, in spite of the discomfort some Protestants feel at this title. He also argues that the perpetual virginity of Mary is a sound position, while allowing a little room for doubt. On the question of Mary's intercession, he argues that Mary does indeed intercede for us. However, both arguments for and against praying to Mary are based on sound reasonings. He feels that both the Catholic practice of praying to Mary and the Protestant refusal to do so are valid (not a traditional Anglican view, but one very much in the spirit of modern Anglicanism). He rejects the doctrines of Mary's Immaculate Conception and Assumption as lacking in Biblical foundation.

At the time I read this book, I had decided for myself that Catholic teaching about the Blessed Virgin was correct, so in the end I was left feeling a little sad that Perry could not go along with all of it. One problem with this book that I see is the lack of attention to the practices of Marian piety. From Perry's perspective, Mariology is all about looking at the Biblical and theological texts and deciding what doctrines are correct. Yet for one who is deep in Marian devotion, the experience is somewhat different. One cannot be so dispassionate when one is cultivating devotion to Our Lady. Once in that position, one inevitably becomes a maximalist and feels no fear of giving too much excess adoration to the Mother of Our Lord.

Collect for the Feast of St. Leo the Great

O God, who never allow the gates of hell to prevail against your Church, firmly founded on the apostolic rock, grant her, we pray, that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo, she may stand firm in your truth and know the protection of lasting peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Saint Leo the Great, pray for Pope Francis, that he may boldly defend the doctrines of the Catholic Church and fiercely oppose all errors.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Head Covering Movement: Where did the “Long Hair” view come from?

The Head Covering Movement: Where did the “Long Hair” view come from?

'The view that a “head covering” refers to a woman’s long hair is a very popular belief held by many Christians today. We decided to embark on a search to find out where this view originated and how recent it really is.'

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Prayer Book Society Meeting

Today I attended a meeting of my local branch of the Prayer Book Society.

The meeting was held at St. Peter's Church at Berkhamsted. Berkhamsted is a rather posh little town in west Hertfordshire. I arrived early and went for a drink in the Cafe Rouge. I enjoyed a lovely bottle of Hoegaarden wheat beer with a slice of lemon.

St. Peter's turned out to be one of the most beautiful Anglican churches I have ever been in. It had some really nice stained glass windows, as well as a series of brightly coloured carvings of saints on the altar. It appears that the church is 1662-exclusive, which is rare in the Church of England.

The meeting began with holy communion. Naturally, I did not take communion myself. This was taken by a young Anglo-Catholic curate. He was wearing a cassock, which was a nice touch. Interestingly, he used the Interim Rite, rather than strictly following the 1662 format. This modification reflected a more Anglo-Catholic theology. He justified this in his sermon, by arguing that the Book of Common Prayer is not a museum piece, but a living tradition, open to change. He also spoke about the current liturgical anarchy in the Church of England and the relativistic notion that all styles of worship are equivalent.

After the communion service we got down to branch business. I did feel a little out of place amongst these Anglicans, but it was nice to meet them and I look forward to getting more involved in Prayer Book Society activities in the future.

Who Writes those Psalm Responses?

When I started going to Catholic mass, congregational responses to Psalms were something new for me.

The reponse at mass today was ridiculously long. The congregation simply could not remember how it went every time the Psalm called for the response. There was an awkward silence every time.

The Psalm responses are not usually that bad, but they are still a bit long and difficult to catch. The congregational responses usually does sound very ragged.

Whoever it is at the Congregation for Divine Worship or wherever who writes these Psalm responses ought to be sacked.

Prayers to Saint Uriel

O Holy Angel St. Uriel, whose name means “God is my Light”
We pray that you will guide our thoughts and actions with the Light of Christ.
We ask that you guard and protect us against all the attacks of Satan
Who has tempted man since the Garden of Eden.
May you and all the choirs of Angels intercede for us before the Most Holy Trinity
That we may receive mercy and eternal life in heaven, We ask this through Christ our Lord,

Saint Uriel "spirit who stood at the gate of the lost Eden with the fiery sword", light up our mind with the sword of truth so that our hearts are filled with the burning desire of love for the Holy Spirit. Protect us with your flaming sword against all evil. Amen.

Oh holy St. Uriel, come to our aid with your legion of
angels! Intercede for us that our hearts may burn with the
fire of God. Obtain for us the grace to use the sword of
truth to fight against all that is not in conformity to the most
adorable will of God in our lives.

Today is the feast of Saint Uriel the Archangel in the Eastern Orthodox calendar. Uriel is not recognised by the Catholic Church as an Archangel, as he does not appear in canonical Scripture, but only in the Book of Enoch. However, Eastern-rite Catholics continue to honour Saint Uriel. I see no harm in Latin-rite Catholics offering private devotion to St. Uriel.

I do find it puzzling that Anglicans recognise Saint Uriel as an Archangel, as they are part of the western tradition. I have seen a few delightful stained glass depictions of this most worthy angel in Anglican churches.

Collect for the Feast of Blessed Duns Scotus

Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Blessed Duns Scotus, pray for us, for Scotland and for all theologians.

When it comes to the Doctrine of God, I feel more comfortable with Aquinas' views, but I agree with Duns Scotus on angels and the priority of the incarnation.

Friday, 7 November 2014

The Counterrevolutionary and Royal Army of America : “For Our Lady. For the Monarchy.” It’s not the Will of the People we need; it’s the Will of God

The Counterrevolutionary and Royal Army of America : “For Our Lady. For the Monarchy.” It’s not the Will of the People we need; it’s the Will of God

This is the purpose of the Catholic Monarchy. Its purpose is to establish the moral boundaries in society so that our culture, and the laws that grow out of that culture, are synchronized with the Divine Order and the Divine Hierarchy of that Order. We are astonishingly free under God’s dominion. However, to truly manifest and experience the “fruits” of that freedom, we must keep the elements of the Divine Order in their proper Hierarchy: God determines what is good and what is evil, not “The People.” Once “The People” have that straight, they are free to eat as they so choose among the rest of the trees in the garden.

This authentic freedom is what we are after. Only, how do we know “God’s will” and his “Divine Order”? We know it through the Church established by his Son, who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (in whose image we were created), the Son of the Father, and the only Savior of the human race. It is his Church that is the foundation and pillar of all truth (I Tim 3:15).

The Catholic King and/or Queen is bound in all matters of faith and morals in obedience to the Church. Therefore, culture and all laws stemming from that culture must reflect the faith and morals of the Catholic Church. Beyond that, we are free to exercise our “democratic” “will of the people” as we choose. We are free to democratically govern ourselves (especially locally and regionally where democracy is most effective) within the framework of the Church’s moral law and of the Natural Law which the Church guards also, being the Church of Jesus Christ, the Person through whom all things were made (John 1:3).

The above does not preclude individual rights to worship privately as one pleases. It does not imply a “witch hunt” inquisition to determine if any poor soul holds a belief separate from that revealed to be true by God through his Church. It does not prevent the private association of those who desire to practice another religion. It does not imply restricting freedom of speech so long as that speech does not publicly denigrate the Catholic religion. It does imply, though, that the culture and laws of the land will reflect Catholic morality.

Guardian: The Brexit brigade are deluded – as the European arrest warrant vote shows

Guardian: The Brexit brigade are deluded – as the European arrest warrant vote shows

Article by Rafael Behr

The “Brexit” brigade tends to present rupture from Brussels as a clean break; the final step in a long journey of emancipation. Released from the shackles of continental bureaucracy, the UK can then contemplate a fresh life of buccaneering, free-trading, independent enterprise.

But one of the first things that the newly liberated country would have to do is negotiate terms of trade with its former EU partners. And in order to do that it would have to enter into all sorts of agreements – on trading standards, subsidies, safety regulations, contract enforcements, etc – that very closely resemble the single market of which the UK is currently a member.

The Brexit scenario involves opting out of everything in order to selectively opt back into lots of things, which is exactly the model currently being played out with the arrest warrant. Under the Lisbon treaty the UK negotiated a right not to sign up to the full justice and home affairs “pillar” of EU law on the understanding that it would pick and mix those items it deemed essential. Unsurprisingly, some of those turn out to involve a greater degree of cross-border collaboration and legal harmonisation because, well, it’s the 21st century and that’s how globalised economies and societies function effectively together.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Daily Telegraph: Worcester Woman lives – and she could settle Ed Miliband’s fate

Daily Telegraph: Worcester Woman lives – and she could settle Ed Miliband’s fate

Article by Mary Riddell

'Worried about “too much sticking to Tory cuts” and reductions in legal aid, they were most alarmed about Labour’s handling of immigration. While one woman was concerned about “being taken for a ride” and another felt “like a minority in my own road”, several spoke out against what they saw as weakness in defending managed migration.

“Labour has got to be much more positive,” said one. “We need migrants. And they’re going to come here and pay their taxes,” said another. A third believed Labour was “just in a race to the Right”, while a fourth warned: “You have to educate people. This huge fear [of immigrants] is built on ignorance.”

In the clamour over Ukip (which, like Europe, was not mentioned), such sentiments are thought to belong to the diehard Left, not to floating voters, middle-class and mainly middle-aged, who live in a city where immigration is the biggest doorstep issue. If Mr Miliband can appeal neither to those concerned about migrant numbers nor to those alarmed by his perceived negativity, then he is in trouble.'

I used to live in Worcester and helped out in many election campaigns there. Worcester is the Ohio of the UK; whoever wins there has won the election.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Guardian: What if Britain left the EU?

Guardian: What if Britain left the EU?

Article by Michael White, Larry Elliott and Charlotte Higgins

'In a rare uncalculating moment, Boris Johnson wrote last year that, if Britain finally ended its “sterile debate” over Europe by leaving the EU, it would quickly discover “that most of our problems are not caused by Brussels, but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills and a culture of easy gratification and under-investment”.

How true, but that discovery would not be the end of the matter if David Cameron’s promised in/out referendum in 2017 resulted in a Brexit majority. The euphoria that half the population of Scotland came close to feeling in their own independence referendum last September would rapidly dissipate as familiar problems resurfaced and new ones popped up.

The country would be divided – literally so if Scotland took its cue to do a Scexit and stay in the EU, generating tensions in Northern Ireland, though probably not in Wales. The defeated minority would be frightened and sullen, assorted dreamers and zealots would rush to start creating their vision of a restored Merrie England. Or of an offshore free enterprise hub, the Hong Kong of the Atlantic, as much a fantasy as the socialist and green republic that would be sought by others.'

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Greg Boyd and C. S. Lewis on the Open Future

Eclectic Orthodoxy: Greg Boyd and C. S. Lewis on the Open Future

But it seems to me that Boyd is going about the question all wrong. Maybe there are evangelical “classical theists” out there who begin their reflections with the premise that the future is exhaustively settled, but most classical classical theists do not. Real classical theists begin with the premise that the eternal God is the creator of time and therefore transcendently exists outside of time. Hence it does not make sense to speak of God as foreknowing the future, as if he exists within the world as a finite temporal agent.

Human beings exist in time and therefore apprehend the future as that which has not yet happened. By definition it does not exist. Whether future events are completely determined by antecedent events and conditions is something philosophers and scientists can argue about. But if, as classical theists maintain, God exists outside of time, then it doesn’t make sense to speak of him as foreknowing the future. He does not know things before they happen; he knows them as they happen.


Blessed be the Lord God of Israel : for he hath visited, and redeemed his people;

And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us : in the house of his servant David;
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets : which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies : and from the hands of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers : and to remember his holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham : that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies : might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him : all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people : for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

It was Saint Zechariah who gave us that great canticle that we say in morning prayer.

Collect for the Feast of Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth

May the Church glorify you, O Lord,
in the holy memory of Zechariah and Elizabeth,
parents of the forerunner of your Son.
Through their intercession grant that,
by loving you in everything and above everything,
We may obtain the good promised by you.
This we ask…

Saint Zechariah and Saint Elizabeth, pray for us and for all who have children in their later years.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Mary Day by Day

Mary Day by Day, 1987 Catholic Book Publishing Corp. New Jersey

This nice little book offers daily meditations on the Blessed Virgin. For each day there is a verse of Scripture to contemplate, a quotation about Mary by one of the saints and Doctors of the Church and a short prayer to Our Lady. Thematically, they follow the liturgical year and connect quotations with the respective saint's day where possible. This is a great tool to enhance one's devotion to Mary and to start each day thinking about holy things.

It has an attractive soft leather binding and is slim enough to be carried around in one's jacket pocket. Definitely a book I would recommend.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Forking out for the Customary

I finally bought a copy of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham, the prayer book of the English Ordinariate. I have wanted this for a while, but the price is very high, which put me off.

I'm very glad to now own a copy. I said evening prayer using it already today. I think it is fantastic that the Catholic Church has been able to make use of the liturgical richness of the Book of Common Prayer. I will write a review of this prayer book once I am more familiar with the content.

Orthodox-Reformed Bridge: Theosis and Our Salvation in Christ

Orthodox-Reformed Bridge: Theosis and Our Salvation in Christ

'Athanasius the Great summed up the connection between the Incarnation and our salvation in the famous line: God became human, so that we might become god. The doctrine of theosis (deification) sums up the Orthodox understanding of salvation in Christ. It is also the source of friction between Reformed and Orthodox Christians. In this blog posting I will show how the Orthodox understanding of theosis is grounded in Scripture and affirmed in the teachings of the early Church Fathers. In light of the controversial nature of theosis I will be highlighting the Orthodox understanding of theosis through the comparing of paradigm differences between Orthodoxy and the Reformed tradition. I close with a discussion of the practical consequences of the paradigmatic differences.'

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Creed Code Cult: Sola Fide in the Parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector?

Creed Code Cult: Sola Fide in the Parable of Pharisee and Tax Collector?

'Protestants often claim that the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector from Luke 18:9-14 is proof that Jesus taught Justification by Faith Alone. In this brief post I will show that this Protestant claim has no Biblical merit at all.'

The Manliness of the Oxford Movement

I have never found Anglo-Catholicism especially attractive. Anglo-Catholicism has been somewhat lukewarm in its commitment to Biblical authority and a little too cosy toward theological liberalism. There is something rather artificial about Anglicans pretending to be Catholics and doing all the things that Catholics do. I also find it just a little worrying that so many Anglo-Catholics are gay.

On the other hand, I very much admire the Oxford Movement. The Tractarians were a of a far more manly spirit than that of Twentieth-century Anglo-Catholicism. They were not interested in the pageantry of rituals and ceremonies but were concerned primarily with doctrine and theology. Not were they especially interested in liturgical innovation; they had a deep attachment to the Book of Common Prayer and saw it as a true expression of their Church's catholic heritage. Following in the footsteps of the old High Churchmanship, they did not to copy Roman Catholicism, but instead they looked for the best in the Anglican tradition.

When Newman concluded that a truly Anglican catholicism was a lost cause and jumped ship to Rome, the movement went into disarray. The Tractarian movement evolved into the Ritualists. Instead of trying to prove that the Anglican Church was truly catholic, Anglo-Catholics switched to a game of dressing up; they might not be real Catholics, but they could at least do all those Catholic things. Following the publication of Lux Mundi in 1881, the Anglo-Catholics began making peace with modernist theology and with the liberal party. This stood in contrast to the Oxford Movement, which had stood firmly on the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible.