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Showing posts from May, 2014

Kudos to servers at St Anna Damenstiftskirche

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St Anna Damenstiftskirche in Munich was commissioned in the 18th century by Elector Charles Albert, who became Emperor Charles VII in 1733. A monastery in the legal form of a chapter of nuns was set up. The architect was Johann Baptist Gunetzrhainer, while the Asam brothers were responsible for the interior. (That is all according to Wikipedia.)

Above you can see the splendid high altar. Imagine the pleasant surprise I had when the mother of two of my altar servers sent me a photo of them serving as acolytes in same South German Baroque piece of excellentness. One of the local servers told them that he was a reader of the Hermeneutic of Continuity so warmest greetings, and kudos for being so welcoming to visiting servers from England.

Something to take home

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Putting into practice my concern for small local businesses, I had a good look around Antiquités – Brocante – Militaria just round the corner from the Cachot in Lourdes. The shop must have over a hundred old Latin-French hand missals, including several four-volume Paroissiens. These were books that helped people participate actively in the Liturgy, not by reading a Bidding Prayer in one of five languages through a microphone, but by drawing spiritually from the texts of the Church’s traditional public prayer. Everybody knew in those days that the Liturgy of the Church was not only the Mass, but also the Divine Office, which was regularly celebrated in parishes.

There were also some fine old statues, pictures and plate, but just look what I found:



The vestment is a full five-piece black Low Mass set in good condition. The black cloth is velvet, and the decoration is cloth of silver. The price was 350 euro which I didn’t haggle over. I follow the monitions of St Francis de Sales in that…

Going shopping in Lourdes

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Chatting to the antique shop owners, taxi drivers and hotel staff, I discover that the small business owners in Lourdes are not happy this year. Two years of flooding have apparently had an effect on the number of visitors, and the locals are all saying how quiet it is.

It is fashionable to decry the “commercialism” of Lourdes. I have never gone along with this. Bluewater is commercial: it sells over-priced clothing and luxury goods. At Lourdes, the shops are filled with rosaries, holy water bottles, and statues. People have to pay the rent and feed their families: how pleasant to see a micro-economy based on the sale of devotional items to pilgrims, rather than superfluous tat for people with more money than sense.

On previous visits, I have always encouraged pilgrims to visit the official shop within the Domaine. After taking a look round myself this afternoon, I am now not so sure. There is something suspiciously preachy about the guide books and devotional items there, as though …

St Bernadette’s family made destitute by market intervention

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St Bernadette was born at the Boly Mill in Lourdes (above) where her father, Francois Soubirous earned a modest living, providing flour for the local bakers. Pilgrims are shown round this site and the Cachot, formerly a prison cell, where the family had to live for a while after Francois Soubirous went out of business. They learn that the family was destitute, that he was unjustly accused of stealing, that the little hovel was scarcely fit for human habitation and so on. Although not explicit, there is a hint that the father was responsible for the family’s misfortune.

A detail which had not struck me before was that the father’s modest business folded because of Government intervention. To be fair, it was a benign intervention; there was a famine and the authorities arranged for free grain to be distributed. The failure of the small business of a local miller was, I suppose, collateral damage. Nevertheless, the incident is a lesson for us. When Christians make political demands for …

The joy of being back in Lourdes

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Lourdes never loses its appeal for me. Arriving in the bus yesterday after the flight to Toulouse and the two hour coach journey, my heart lifted as we entered the town, passed the parish Church and drove down the precipitous Rue de la Grotte.

After a late supper, I was in time for the last two mysteries of the Rosary at the end of the torchlight procession. Archbishop Longley of Birmingham gave the blessing and I made sure to buy a new Rosary on the way down to the grotto so that it could be blessed by a Bishop. (It is significant to have devotional objects blessed by a Bishop because you can gain a plenary indulgence by using them on the feast of St Peter and St Paul.)

I normally skip the first morning’s tour “In the footsteps of St Bernadette” since I know it quite well, but as we have just a small group this year I went along. At the Boly Mill, one detail jumped out at me: more on that later.

Near the Cachot (the former prison cell where St Bernadette’s family had to make their …

Reflection on the Hail Mary

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The other day, at Blackfen, we had an Evening of Recollection for men. This is a simple occasion, with Mass, a spiritual talk, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, rosary (during which there is an opportunity for confession) Benediction and then some time to meet and chat in the Hall. Below is the text of my talk.

The prayer "Hail Mary"

May being the month of Mary, I decided to focus today on that daily prayer to Our Lady which is so familiar but bears a little examination so that we can make the best use of it.

Hail Mary
At the beginning of the prayer, we can put ourselves in the frame of mind to talk to our Blessed Lady. We can do so because she is the Mother of Jesus, she is the Queen of Heaven and Our Lord wants us to go to her. “Son, behold your mother”, he said. We are greeting Our Lady personally: this reminds us that prayer is not simply the saying of words in a formula, but a personal encounter in which we converse – primarily with God, but also with the angels, Our L…

Explaining ad orientem celebration simply

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This graphic was posted by Fr Dylan James on Facebook yesterday. He used it to explain to an eleven year old server the symbolism of the eastward-facing orientation of the Lady Altar which he used for the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. It is all the more effective for being so simple.

Break all his pencils!

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Rev Nick Donnelly and the Protect the Pope blog that he wrote, became the focus of intense media attention after Deacon Nick was asked by his Bishop "to voluntarily pause (sic) from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site." His wife, Martina, then took on the day-to-day running of the blog, welcoming contributions from a range of writers. I added my own thoughts to the general discussion in the post The pitfalls of censoring Catholic bloggers which was taken up in various publications.

Now, over six weeks on, the story has been re-ignited because the Bishop has refused Deacon Nick's request to start posting again. Although Martina was posting on her own behalf, she has felt unable to continue after the Bishop's additional statement that he does not want anyone posting on Deacon Nick's behalf. Many commenters have encouraged or even cajoled Martina to continue, but I respect her decision since the glare of publicity can be highly disturbing. In any case, t…

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