Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas comes but twice a year ...

The above title is a remark attributed to the Greek Catholic Archimandrite who ministers here in Dublin. However that may be, for those of us attached to the Traditional Latin Mass, Christmas is a bumper treat in terms of Masses. The schedule looks like this:

(NB All Masses will be sung i.e. Missa Cantata, unless they are Solemn High Mass - with deacon, subdeacon etc.)

Vigil of Christmas, Sunday 24th December, 11.00am
First Mass of Christmas, Sunday 24th December, 10.00pm
Third Mass of Christmas, Christmas Day, Monday 25th December, 11.00am
Feast of the Epiphany, Saturday January 6th 2007, 11.00am

All other Sunday Masses will be at the usual time of 11.00am.

All these Masses will be celebrated in St Audoen's Church, High St, near Christchurch Cathedral.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Holy Wisdom ...

For those who are up to speed with their Greek, Holy Wisdom is of course, Hagia Sophia. That was (and is) the name of the greatest of the Christian Churches of Constantinople (aka Istanbul). It functions nowadays as a museum, in the supposedly secular Turkish Republic. However, an experprising person called Angeiki Papagika has started an online petition to have it restored to its proper use as a Christian place of worship. This project needs your support (they're looking for 1 million votes, as soon as possible) as they take it forward to the EU and look for their assistance. They also need help from anyone who has skills in IT, European legal affairs and political lobbying. Please do join them (as I have) in furthering a valuable project.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wherein I get about 3.5 of my 15 minutes of fame....

I had, by way of the editor of this, an invitation to appear on this (for Americans, think of NPR, only people actually listen to RTE) to talk about the Traditional Latin Mass. I'm on the Board of this fine organisation, which is why it was me rather than someone better qualified doing the talking. Anyway, just in case anyone is interested you can listen to the interview here (you'll need Real Player to do this). Although it has (naturally enough) been heavily edited it's a pretty accurate record of what was actually said. NB They did add a header that says "... Latin Mass Society of Ireland ... is calling upon the Pope to relax restrictions on traditional rites". Of course the LMSI has said nothing of the sort, though it's a safe bet that the membership at large would be delighted if B16 did just that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I've been thinking about death recently. Not in the way I really ought to be (scroll down to no 47) but in terms of funerals and Requiem Masses. (NB I'm not a Benedictine, but I often think St Benedict has a lot to teach us simple laity as well.) Anyhoo, I noticed that two of my favourite blogs referenced this. The reason why it struck me so forcibly was that last Saturday morning we had a Requiem (Low) Mass in St Audoen's for a gentleman called Noel Martin. He was a longtime attendee of the TLM in St Audoen's and wanted to be buried from there. The vestments were, of course, black - with a little bit of silver decoration. Very sombre and very much in keeping with the grief that is an inseparable accompaniment to such an occasion. Particularly so in this case, as he died quite suddenly. While the sobriety of our traditional black vestments doesn't quite hit the scary note that these do, complete with their skull and crossbones motif, I think the point they make is the same. At a time like that we are grieving, stricken, and the closer we are (were) to the deceased, the worse it is. What I love about this kind of liturgy, and that liturgical colour is that it gives full but dignified rein to the utter desolation felt at such a time. What I find more and more, as I get older, is that the whole traditional funeral liturgy has a trick up its sleeve. It insinuates a suggestion of hope for those who are numb or worse despairing. It doesn't make merry or canonise the dead instantly. There isn't that facile hope so often expressed in Church funerals nowadays; instead we are allowed simply to grieve. There is a little hope, but not more than we are able for. It's exactly what is needed and is a powerful demonstration of how the Church used to (and still can if She's let) have an astounding grasp of human psychology to go along with Her infallible teaching on Divine matters.

PS If any of this prompts any of (or even either of) my readers to pray for the repose of Mr Martin's soul, so much the better. I'll do likewise.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


About a year ago a very polite lady rang me out of the blue to ask me questions for some sort of market research. About 15 minutes of vague, random and mostly inane questions followed. Then came the following slighly odd dialogue (which I reconstruct from memory).

Her: Do you smoke?
Me: Yes
Her: How many per day?
Me: How many what per day?
Her: How many cigarettes per day?
Me: None
Her: Cigars, then?
Me: None
Her: You do realise we're only talking about legal substances?
Me: Yes. Actually I smoke a pipe.
Her: Ohhh ... ok ... um ... I'll put you down as a non-smoker then, shall I?

The reason that this puzzling exchange has been recalled to mind is that I found two postings in the Catholic blogsphere relating to the (possibly idolatrous) worship of the Lady Nicotine in the space of five minutes. The first was at Me Monk, Me Meander maintained by Fr Stephanos OSB.He manitains that all smoking is sinful (no matter how much or how little) and may well be mortally sinful. That's bad news for the smoking brigade generally but especially for your humble servant who likes his pipe well enough if not all that often. It happened that immediately after I read Fr Stephanos' musings on the subject I turned to an excellent new blog called English - Scottish - Welsh - Irish Martyrs which has one of my favourite saints listed on it for today, August 23rd. St John Kemble was martyred at Hereford in 1679 following on Titus Oates infamous 'Popish Plot'. (The online Catholic Encyclopedia calls him 'Blessed' because he wasn't canonised until 1970, along with 39 others who died in various English persecutions down the centuries.) What's notable about him in this context though, is that he paused on the way to the gallows for a pipe and a drink of wine. Some authorities claim that the last pipe of the evening is a "Kemble pipe" while others say it's the last pipe given to a condemned man. Either way, I'd reluctant to part with it (or any of the ones that come before it!). Interestingly too, a search of the Vatican domain with Google Advanced Search turned up nothing in English relating to smoking at all. Unless and until the Church comes out formally and definitively against it, I think I'll keep my now-and-again habit and try to imitate St John Kemble not just in pipe-smoking but virtue as well.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Finally living up to the title....

This blog will, by this time next week, have lived up to its name twice! Once was three weeks ago with a few other Latin Mass Trads and associated enthusiasts between Paris and Chartres. A few incidentally translates as about 14,000 or so. Some of them are on view here and some more of them can be found here - though be sure to look at the latter full size. The pictures come out a bit blotchy in any reduced format. There will also be some photos on this blog soon courtesy of la coordination parisienne du Chapitre Saint Patrick. This is of course not just an organisation but also a person, M. Ciarán MacGuill de Clichy (by way of Dundalk).

The other justification for the title (peregrinus i.e. pilgrim) is the Annual Bealach Colm Cille or Way of St Colmcille. It should by rights be a two day affair from the ruins of St Mobhi's Monastery in Glasnevin (northern suburbs of Dublin) to Glendalough in Co Wicklow (approximately 25 miles south of Dublin city). However the logistics proved too much this year so the Bealach 2006 will be only one day from St Columcille's Well on Ballycullen Road (Dublin 14) over the mountains to Glendalough. It's about 25 miles in all so you'd have to be reasonably fit to manage it. For those who have no clue about how to get to St Colmcille's well, it's right next to the Augustinian house at Orlagh which has directions and even maps! So next Saturday the 24th of June at 7.30 am, St Colmcille's Well if you holy enough or mad enough! BTW for those who fade halfway through, we'll be able to provide a lift rather than just abandoning you on the mountain. If you feel like coming along drop us a line so we'll know to expect you.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Positively final appearance....

This is the positively final appearance of the Da Vinci Cod on this blog. We all know that the book was a stinker in terms of plot, characters, and historical accuracy but it seems that the film is even worse. Not only were the various critics coming out of the premiere in Cannes trying to outdo each other in abusing it, it seems that not even The Irish Times, that venerable organ of anti-Catholic opinion, could be persuaded to say a good word about it. My favourite of the lot however is A N Wilson in the Daily Mail. I'm used to reading his books column in the Daily Torygraph, so I usually expect him to be a slightly jaded voice speaking up once again for civility and humane values. And once again, he doesn't disappoint. Anyway, that's it; as promised above, this is its positively final appearance here. And now for something completely different....

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Vulgate

If you're a trad, then you probably like your Scripture to be much like your liturgy, the older the better. If not in a dead language, then at least one that's on life support! Well the good news is that if the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate is your idea of a perfect book to curl up with, as you drink your cocoa then you're in luck. The wonderful people over at Baronius Press are going to republish it in 2007. Well they are planning to anyway, and knowing them they'll do their level best. For those of you who are regular readers of the Douai-Reims-Challoner, the Vulgate (if you've got any Latin at all) will be a cinch. That's because the DRC is an almost literal translation of the SCV. Obviously if you just can't wait, then the internet versions will have to do; alternatively you could get one from the German Bible Society or even the Library of Christian Authors. Do be warned though that the Deutsche Bibel Gesellschaft has no punctuation whatsoever. Very scholarly but a pain in the neck to read. And the BAC version is probably somewhat lacking in terms of production values. That may be the best reason for waiting until Baronius work their peculiar brand of magic. After all, the very best of books deserves the very best of paper, printing and binding.

Finally, if you're a technophile trad (as so many of us seem to be) here's one thing you can't do without. A Vulgate search bar for your Firefox browser!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Not a poetic bone in my body....

Being a philosopher, I'm probably supposed to be generally cultured. Well I'm not, mea maxima culpa. Of classical music I have only a desultory knowledge; as for literature, well eclectic is the term that would cover it best. Poetry a fortiori is an almost completely closed book to me, hence I read Sheila's blog rather a lot. Poetry, lots of it, plenty of variety and some solid exegesis on each piece. That lead to me to ask her to exercise her exegetical powers on Yeats, specifically on Easter 1916. She rose to the challenge but then got a bit stumped. That was my fault I'm afraid, because I forgot that without some knowledge of the whole Home Rule - Easter Rising - War of Independence period, this poem is almost meaningless. So here goes: an attempt to make clear what this poem is all about. It may turn out to be complete nonsense, but when a lady asks, what else is one to do?

Easter 1916

by William Butler Yeats

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

In the first stanza Yeats is talking about the small cultural Nationalist circle in which he moved during the first decade and a half of the 20th Century. Most of the men who actually started the 1916 Rising were clerks or shopkeepers or schoolmasters. Yeats lived in Dublin as they did, and much of the centre of the city is made up of Georgian houses or 18th century Neoclassical state buildings. The centre of Dublin then (and even now) is very small, and the chances of his bumping into a few of the men later executed on an average evening were pretty good. Of course he thought (a bit like Gabriel Syme in The Man who was Thursday) that they didn't really mean it when they promised to raise revolution. They might have claimed to wear patriotic green, but really it was only motley. He was contemptuous of their grandiose talk and lack of action; thus he'd have "a mocking tale or a gibe / To please a companion / Around the fire at the club". The Club is the United Arts Club on Fitzwilliam Square, one of those self-same "eighteenth century houses".

The second stanza starts off about Yeats's old obsession, Maud Gonne. He was in love with her for most of his life but she had chosen politics over passion; she had married though, a man called John McBride. He had fought against the British in the Boer War, and had been a soldier of one kind or another for many years. He was, it seems, rather too fond of drink, and when in his cups could be a less than gentle or kindly husband. The middle section is devoted to Padraig Pearse - the man who had kept a school - and another - I'm not sure but I think he might mean Joseph Mary Plunkett. All these men shared the same fate of course, in front of a firing squad in Kilmainham Jail.

The next stanza baffles me. I'm suddenly reminded of what my aesthetics lecturer told me some years ago about the poetic register of language being one where meaning is layered upon meaning almost to excess. What I can get out of it is that while life moves on and changes from second to second, the hearts enchanted with this dream of freedom are turned, as it were, to stone. They stand still and are unmoved by change all around, and keep faith with their dream.

Yeats refuses to pass judgment on them, even though he says "Too long a sacrifice / Can make a stone of the heart. / O when may it suffice?". Instead he simply tells us to remember them and to mourn them, a little like a mother watching over her sleeping children. Then he remembers that they are not sleeping but dead. He asks whether their death was in vain, whether their aims might not have been achieved without bloodshed? He again refuses to judge but simply honours their sacrifice "We know their dream; enough / To know they dreamed and are dead."

The oft-repeated "lovely line" that Sheila drew attention to "All is changed, changed utterly: / A terrible beauty is born" is a deliberate reference to Yeats's own earlier poem September 1913. The very Dublin middle classes he excoriates in it raised a rebellion only three years later, and some of them went without a backward glance to their own certain deaths. What was "changed, changed utterly" was, above all, Yeats's own cynical and weary refrain that "Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone / It’s with O’Leary in the grave".

Sin a bhfuil! So Sheila, will that do?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The DaVinci Cod (sic)

For anyone who is turned off by Dan Brown's (& Ron Howard's) nonsense and wants good reasons why, have a look at Da Vinci Code Ireland. I heard about it from Fr Gavan Jennings (a priest, philosopher and in Wodehousian terms all round good egg). The site itself is full of interesting information, and has among other goodies, powerpoint presentations for download! Gavan's round-robin reads as follows
In case you haven’t heard, HOPE Ireland (a group of inter-denominational individuals coming together especially for this purpose) has put together a new website aimed at the Irish public to try to counteract the negative influence that The Da Vinci Code film will have on people, particularly on young families and teenagers.

There are several useful resources on that website, including a couple of PowerPoint presentations with scripts that could be delivered to all sorts of audiences: family groups, schools, parents of youth clubs, etc. Norella Broderick is coordinating the delivery of presentations around the country. Her email is She would be glad to help if you have any queries.

The website is: I would be very grateful if you could circulate this web address to anyone you know who might find it useful. Besides being of general interest to a lot of people concerned about the book and film, the downloadable presentations with scripts would be interesting to anyone in a position to give a presentation to a group of people.

There is also information about Mark Shea (author of “The Da Vinci Deception”, a booklet with 100 questions similar to the one produced for the film “The Passion of the Christ”), a Catholic convert who will be in Ireland from May 12 to 18. Simon R (The Voice Today) is hosting him while in the country. I attach the Q&A with Mark Shea on the DVC, for information. It has some very clever angles about the ‘dangers’ for Christians of dismissing the DVC as a work of fiction.

Best regards,
Fr Gavan Jennings

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Men, faith and a liturgy with stubble.

Paul at In Veritate Ambulare made a couple of interesting comments. He asked - in relation to catechesis but I think it applies more broadly to the Church generally "where have all the men gone?" and followed it with "I know that teaching is ordinarily a woman's job". Hmm, I'm not sure I'd agree. I know at my parish (in Dublin, Ireland) it's the other way round. We have approximately a 4:1 men: women ratio in the congregation. But then we're the diocesan Indult location, and let's fact it, this kind of liturgy has stubble on it! As for teaching I was taught my prayers (literally) at my mother's knee; the content of Church teaching I got from my father, RIP. It was kinda fun when an Evangelical couple approached me on the street and tried to convert me to their way of thinking. We got into the old proof-text tango, and sort of reached a stalemate. Then they got on to what they thought of as Mariolatry, though they were polite enough not to call it that. That's when the wonderful lesson my old Dad taught me about dulia, hyperdulia and latria kicked in. They had never heard of any of it but once I explained it, it seemed to make sense to them. For those who think that the Diocese of Los Angeles never did any good, well that's where Dad learned his theology. While he was doing a PhD in Mathematics at Caltech. Those were the days when the LA diocese was really Catholic, and the parish clergy thought that the secularly educated ought to be religiously educated as well. (NB They were also the days when that diocese was de facto racially segregated.) However that may be, I have always thought of religious learning, especially expounding Sacred Scripture, as a masculine function, more precisely as a paternal duty. My dad, being a good Catholic father, taught his children how to believe rightly. For all that I've learned from my mother about how to be a Catholic (and it's a near infinite amount), it's still Dad's reasonable account of faith that I draw on every day. That, and I still read the books he left behind.